Chapter 11:

Two Competive Idiots Play Tennis

Why Does Nobody Find Us Attractive?

"I wanna serve first."Bookmark here

The two opposing boys looked over at Nikko, who smugly bounced the ball.Bookmark here

"Alright, consider it an advantage we'll grant you."Bookmark here

The two teams split off to their sides of the court. Juzo pulled Nikko and Toshiharu into a huddle.Bookmark here

"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."Bookmark here

Nikko quickly brought up his idea.Bookmark here

"How about we go simple: Blondie and Crew Cut."Bookmark here

Juzo and Toshiharu glanced over at their opponents.Bookmark here

"Yeah, that works."Bookmark here

Nikko said some final words before they had to go play.Bookmark here

"Alright boys, it's time to kick some ass. Let's rock!"Bookmark here

"Yeah!"Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

"It'll be a short match; best of three, okay? But before we start, would you like me to explain the rules?"Bookmark here

Crew cut snarled.Bookmark here

"Why you…"Bookmark here

Blondie stopped him.Bookmark here

"No, it's alright. We've played before."Bookmark here

Nikko shrugged.Bookmark here

"If you say so."Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

"That's gotta be a fluke."Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

"Oh, shit."Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

"Shit, are you alright?"Bookmark here

"Uhh, damn. That hurt. I'm gonna try to walk it off."Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

"Hey, sorry about that. I went a little overboard on that serve."Bookmark here

However, Blondie was rather annoyed by that.Bookmark here

"Just serve the ball."Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

"That's game point. Good match, guys."Bookmark here

Blondie didn't try to hide his frustration.Bookmark here

"Dammit! These guys are pros! They acted like they were idiots so they could hustle us!"Bookmark here

The girls they brought were also not pleased.Bookmark here

"That is so embarrassing! You guys play in a club, how'd you get your ass kicked by some random idiots!?"Bookmark here

Blondie and Crew Cut argued back with excuses, but Nikko just wanted to play.Bookmark here

"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."Bookmark here

"Yeah, we're gonna sub in for these idiots."Bookmark here

Everyone turned towards the gate to the court, where two other boys had suddenly appeared. One of them pointed his racket at Nikko.Bookmark here

"Why look, it's our old friend Nikko! Why did you humiliate our friends like that?"Bookmark here

The other boy chimed in.Bookmark here

"Nikko must think he's Mr. Big Shot out here. Why don't we put him back in his place?"Bookmark here

Meanwhile, the two spectating girls shrieked in excitement.Bookmark here

"Ike! Tokunaga!"Bookmark here

The two boys waved at the girls, and again they shrieked. Juzo was completely lost.Bookmark here

"Who are these guys?"Bookmark here

He looked at Nikko, but he now had a disheartened look in his eyes.Bookmark here

"Hidemichi Ike and Genjo Tokunaga. My former friends in middle school. Before the incident."Bookmark here

Juzo realized how bad the situation had become.Bookmark here

"Shit, what are we gonna do? I don't want them to try and injure you."Bookmark here

Nikko straightened himself up.Bookmark here

"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."Bookmark here

"Alright, show them what you got."Bookmark here

The two teams lined up, with Toshiharu and Ike taking the backcourt. Ike was disappointed with the matchup.Bookmark here

"Ugh, I wanted to serve to Nikko. Whatever."Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

"Toshiharu! Are you okay?"Bookmark here

Toshiharu adjusted himself into a sitting position and checked out his knee.Bookmark here

"The bone hurts."Bookmark here

"C'mon I'll help you to the bench."Bookmark here

While Juzo helped out Toshiharu, Nikko was giving his counterparts a piece of his mind.Bookmark here

"You goddamn coward! What are you doing!?"Bookmark here

Ike just smiled.Bookmark here

"What're you saying? Did you not also hit one of our guys with your serve?"Bookmark here

Juzo scowled back.Bookmark here

"It was an accident. I apologized."Bookmark here

Ike gave a smug look.Bookmark here

"Oh, so that makes it all better?"Bookmark here

He shouted over at Toshiharu.Bookmark here

"Sorry! There, you happy now, Nikko?"Bookmark here

"Shut up. Look at Toshiharu, he can barely walk. You injured my friend."Bookmark here

Ike pointed at Juzo.Bookmark here

"You still got another."Bookmark here

Nikko wasn't going to tolerate Ike's behavior any longer and was about to charge at him, but Juzo grabbed him.Bookmark here

"Do your talking on the court."Bookmark here

Juzo's face was dead serious on continuing the game, and Nikko recognized that.Bookmark here

"You're right. Let's show them who we are."Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

"Let's go, boys! You got this!"Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

"Everything good?"Bookmark here

Nikko clenched his arms up.Bookmark here

"I don't know. It doesn't feel right."Bookmark here

Juzo grabbed his friend's shoulder.Bookmark here

"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?"Bookmark here

Nikko listened, and calmed himself down.Bookmark here

"I'm feeling better. Thanks."Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

"Oh? I thought you could always read a dropshot, Ike."Bookmark here

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. Bookmark here

"Nice shot!"Bookmark here

"I know!"Bookmark here

Realizing that their other teammate couldn't get to them, Juzo and Nikko ran towards Toshiharu, who was screaming from the bench.Bookmark here

"Yes! Yes! What a beauty!"Bookmark here

The trio celebrated at their end, but the other side was in dismay. Ike was aiming his frustration at Tokunaga.Bookmark here

"How did you miss that shot!?"Bookmark here

"What, me!? You're the one who shanked it at the end!"Bookmark here

As the two bickered, their friends spectating started to leave. Nikko noticed and stopped the two girls.Bookmark here

"Hey, wait! What'd you think of the match?"Bookmark here

Both girls glared at him.Bookmark here

"Those guys got their asses kicked by a group of morons. It was embarrassing to watch."Bookmark here

"It's not embarrassing when you're on the winning side."Bookmark here

Both girls completely ignored him and hastily left. Nikko was left, somewhat disappointed.Bookmark here

"Huh. I thought they'd be more impressed."Bookmark here

Juzo walked up beside him to offer his insight.Bookmark here

"I told you: they're not worth it. They just wanted attention."Bookmark here

"I guess."Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

"Hey! If you guys feel like watching some talented people, we're always available!"Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

"My knee is starting to feel a bit better. Let's go hang out somewhere else."Bookmark here

Nikko agreed.Bookmark here

"Okay, but where?"Bookmark here

Suddenly, Juzo's phone beeped off. He slung it out of his pocket and saw that a text was sent, so he opened it.Bookmark here

"Guys, I might have an idea."Bookmark here

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.Bookmark here

"Yeah, I am getting hungry. Let's go stop by."Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.