Why Does Nobody Find Us Attractive?
"I wanna serve first."
The two opposing boys looked over at Nikko, who smugly bounced the ball.
"Alright, consider it an advantage we'll grant you."
The two teams split off to their sides of the court. Juzo pulled Nikko and Toshiharu into a huddle.
"Okay, first of all, what should we call those guys? I don't give a shit what their names are, so I wanna call them something easier."
Nikko quickly brought up his idea.
"How about we go simple: Blondie and Crew Cut."
Juzo and Toshiharu glanced over at their opponents.
"Yeah, that works."
Nikko said some final words before they had to go play.
"Alright boys, it's time to kick some ass. Let's rock!"
Nikko took his position for the opening serve and Juzo set himself up near the net. Nikko took no time to dish out trash talk.
"It'll be a short match; best of three, okay? But before we start, would you like me to explain the rules?"
Crew cut snarled.
Blondie stopped him.
"No, it's alright. We've played before."
"If you say so."
Nikko threw the ball up for his serve, but didn't hit it too hard. The ball slowly bounced to Blondie in the backcourt, who mashed the ball back. Out of nowhere, Juzo shot his racket up and blocked the return, causing the ball to slowly fall on the other side of the court, dribbling twice before Crew Cut could get to it. Both of the boys stared in disbelief at Juzo and his unexpected reflexes.
"That's gotta be a fluke."
Nikko served again, but this time Blondie made a mistake, hitting the ball awkwardly and lobbing the return. With the ball slowly falling, Juzo took a step back, then absolutely obliterated a smash. The velocity of the ball seared past the two boys before they could even react.
Blondie and Crew Cut tried to compose themselves before Nikko's next serve, but this time, Nikko put everything into his serve. Swinging with all his might, Nikko rifled the ball straight at Blondie, striking him in the chest. Blondie collapsed to his knees, and Crew Cut rushed to his aid.
"Shit, are you alright?"
"Uhh, damn. That hurt. I'm gonna try to walk it off."
Blondie got to his feet and wandered around for a bit, trying to catch his breath. Eventually, he felt good enough and picked up his racket. With the game ready to continue, Nikko took a moment to apologize.
"Hey, sorry about that. I went a little overboard on that serve."
However, Blondie was rather annoyed by that.
"Just serve the ball."
His attitude didn't sit well with Nikko, so once again he hammered a serve at Blondie. This time, the ball hit the court instead of Blondie, but bounced at a low angle that handcuffed Blondie, who flailed at the ball and knocked it out of bounds. Nikko casually read out the score.
"That's game point. Good match, guys."
Blondie didn't try to hide his frustration.
"Dammit! These guys are pros! They acted like they were idiots so they could hustle us!"
The girls they brought were also not pleased.
"That is so embarrassing! You guys play in a club, how'd you get your ass kicked by some random idiots!?"
Blondie and Crew Cut argued back with excuses, but Nikko just wanted to play.
"Okay guys, could you hurry it up? We're gonna start game two. We're gonna sub Toshiharu in for Juzo, you guys do what you want."
"Yeah, we're gonna sub in for these idiots."
Everyone turned towards the gate to the court, where two other boys had suddenly appeared. One of them pointed his racket at Nikko.
"Why look, it's our old friend Nikko! Why did you humiliate our friends like that?"
The other boy chimed in.
"Nikko must think he's Mr. Big Shot out here. Why don't we put him back in his place?"
Meanwhile, the two spectating girls shrieked in excitement.
The two boys waved at the girls, and again they shrieked. Juzo was completely lost.
"Who are these guys?"
He looked at Nikko, but he now had a disheartened look in his eyes.
"Hidemichi Ike and Genjo Tokunaga. My former friends in middle school. Before the incident."
Juzo realized how bad the situation had become.
"Shit, what are we gonna do? I don't want them to try and injure you."
Nikko straightened himself up.
"Nah, I don't run away from a challenge. If I'm going to be taken down, I'm going to do it standing up."
"Alright, show them what you got."
The two teams lined up, with Toshiharu and Ike taking the backcourt. Ike was disappointed with the matchup.
"Ugh, I wanted to serve to Nikko. Whatever."
Ike threw the ball up, then obliterated the serve. Unable to react in time to the serve, Toshiharu got struck in the knee. He immediately fell to the ground. Juzo quickly ran to Toshiharu's aid.
"Toshiharu! Are you okay?"
Toshiharu adjusted himself into a sitting position and checked out his knee.
"The bone hurts."
"C'mon I'll help you to the bench."
While Juzo helped out Toshiharu, Nikko was giving his counterparts a piece of his mind.
"You goddamn coward! What are you doing!?"
Ike just smiled.
"What're you saying? Did you not also hit one of our guys with your serve?"
Juzo scowled back.
"It was an accident. I apologized."
Ike gave a smug look.
"Oh, so that makes it all better?"
He shouted over at Toshiharu.
"Sorry! There, you happy now, Nikko?"
"Shut up. Look at Toshiharu, he can barely walk. You injured my friend."
Ike pointed at Juzo.
"You still got another."
Nikko wasn't going to tolerate Ike's behavior any longer and was about to charge at him, but Juzo grabbed him.
"Do your talking on the court."
Juzo's face was dead serious on continuing the game, and Nikko recognized that.
"You're right. Let's show them who we are."
The game started up again, with Juzo taking Toshiharu's spot in the backcourt. Even though he was no longer playing, Toshiharu played his part by cheering.
"Let's go, boys! You got this!"
Everyone got in position, but Juzo moved further back to try and prevent Ike going for a body shot. Ike noticed, and he decided to serve normally. The ball was launched from the racket to Juzo, who neatly returned the serve. The ball was cut off by Takunaga, and it dropped in front of Nikko. Unexpectedly, Nikko swung wildly and whacked the ball far out of bounds. Juzo immediately knew something was wrong, and he ran up to check on Nikko.
Nikko clenched his arms up.
"I don't know. It doesn't feel right."
Juzo grabbed his friend's shoulder.
"They're in your head. I don't know your history with these guys, but you need to block it out. Take some deep breaths, okay?"
Nikko listened, and calmed himself down.
"I'm feeling better. Thanks."
Everyone set up again, and Ike served once again. Juzo returned the serve back to Ike, who tried to catch Nikko off again. This time, Nikko had a beat on the shot, and sliced a perfect drop shot that caught both of the opponents off guard.
"Oh? I thought you could always read a dropshot, Ike."
Ike ignored Nikko's comment and tried to stay focused. Juzo's serve was up, and he fired a rocket that just hit the sideline. Thinking it was going to be out, Ike let it drop, but his misjudgement led to a tie game. Ike was successful in returning the next serve, but an accurate shot by Juzo bounced set up Tokunaga, who over shot his smash and obviously landed out of bounds. Match point put the pressure on Juzo to deliver on the serve. He delivered, catching Ike off guard with a strange serving angle. Ike made a mistake on the return, accidentally getting under the ball too much and practically lobbing it up to Nikko. Nikko made no mistake, smashing the ball straight at Ike, who was still trying to get on balance. Ike desperately tried to react, but was only able to stick his racket out, which the ball deflected off of and went out of bounds. Juzo ran towards Nikko to celebrate the victory, jumping into his friend's embrace.
Realizing that their other teammate couldn't get to them, Juzo and Nikko ran towards Toshiharu, who was screaming from the bench.
"Yes! Yes! What a beauty!"
The trio celebrated at their end, but the other side was in dismay. Ike was aiming his frustration at Tokunaga.
"How did you miss that shot!?"
"What, me!? You're the one who shanked it at the end!"
As the two bickered, their friends spectating started to leave. Nikko noticed and stopped the two girls.
"Hey, wait! What'd you think of the match?"
Both girls glared at him.
"Those guys got their asses kicked by a group of morons. It was embarrassing to watch."
"It's not embarrassing when you're on the winning side."
Both girls completely ignored him and hastily left. Nikko was left, somewhat disappointed.
"Huh. I thought they'd be more impressed."
Juzo walked up beside him to offer his insight.
"I told you: they're not worth it. They just wanted attention."
Ike and Tokunaga packed up their stuff and began to leave, purposely bumping into Nikko as they walked by. Nikko took one last jab at them.
"Hey! If you guys feel like watching some talented people, we're always available!"
Both of the boys flipped Nikko off as they continued walking. Nikko and Juzo went back to Toshiharu, who'd started to feel better and was able to walk.
"My knee is starting to feel a bit better. Let's go hang out somewhere else."
"Okay, but where?"
Suddenly, Juzo's phone beeped off. He slung it out of his pocket and saw that a text was sent, so he opened it.
"Guys, I might have an idea."
Juzo turned his phone around to show the others: it was a picture sent by Shinobu of her and Reina at a restaurant Juzo and Nikko recognized. Nikko liked the idea.
"Yeah, I am getting hungry. Let's go stop by."