Chapter 11:

New manager (Takara)

Special Fighting Club

„I need your help. “ Kei says standing in front of me after classes have ended.
“Why?” I don’t look up from my book.
“Well the school year´s almost over…”
“The first term barely ended.”
“…and I thought it would be a good idea to recruit a new manager, so they can learn everything.” He continues.
“Ok and that has to do with me because?”
“You’re the captain, Ta-chan! Just imagine how nice that would be if you came recruiting too, I mean you are a charismatic, friendly young woman who´s always in a good mood! Who could say no to that?”
I stare at him. “Just how stupid do you think I am?”
“Kei I´ve known you for eleven years. I know when you have other intentions.”
He nods. “Damn it. Fine, I thought we could have some fun together, because you know the knee situation and Tai-chi doing whatever.”
“So even you don´t know what he´s up to?”
“No, he just said that it´s a surprise and if I knew I would tell you.”
“Would you?”
“Probably.” He says, after short consideration he adds. “Most likely.”
I get up with a bit of effort, my knee hurting with every movement. “So do you want to recruit a first or second year?”
He smiles. “First year. Should we go there?”

We walk down to the first year’s floor. We go to Class 1-A, Kat-kun’s class first.
“Takara-senpai, Saito-senpai, do you need something?” He asks.
“A willing recruit.” Kei answers peering into the classroom.
Kat-kun looks puzzled. “I don´t think I understand.”
“Could you ask around in your class if someone is interested in becoming our next manager?” I ask him.
He nods. “Sure I´ll try.”

We arrive at class 1-B, Aka-kun’s class; we ask him the same thing.
“I think almost everyone´s already in a club.” He answers. “But I´ll ask around in case someone wants to switch.”
Kei and I nod.

Class 1-C, Haru-chan´s and Ran-chan´s class; same question.
“I think there could be someone.” Haru-chan says.
“Oh, I think I know who you are talking about.” Ran-chan says.
Haru-chan continues. “There´s this guy in class 1-D, he wasn´t in school for a few weeks in the beginning of the school year. I think he doesn´t have any friends.”
Ran-chan nods in agreement. “He´s always by himself. Nura wanted to talk to him once but was shut down pretty aggressively.”
I look at Kei. He turns to me. “What?”
“Oh it´s just, that kind of behavior reminded me of you.”
“That´s not…” He stops, thinking. “I´m not that bad.”
“Sometimes you are.” I say.

He quickly turns to the girls. “Class 1-D you said?”
They nod.

Peering into the classroom we find the boy in question pretty fast, he´s sitting by the window staring out of it.
“So how do you want to approach him?” I ask, Kei already left. “Kei?”
He confidently walks up to the boy. “Hi, I´m Saito Kei. Our schools special fighting clubs manager.”
The boy looks up. He points at me.
“Oh, this is Ta-chan… I mean Fujima Takara our captain.” Kei says, putting an arm around my shoulders.
I decide to sit down next to the boy, my knee is killing me.
“We´re recruiting a new manager, you see I´m a third year and want to find a manager before I graduate.”
“And you´re asking me because?” The boy says.
“We heard that you´re always alone and one of our first years tried to approach you before.” I say, if I let Kei talk too much he might scare off the poor boy.
He looks confused.
“Black hair, puppy eyes, acts like a hyperactive dog most of the time.” Kei says.
“Oh, yeah. I think I was a bit too harsh to him.”
“Oh, don´t worry. I think he´s into that.” Kei says.
The boy points at my knee brace. “What happened?”
I rub my knee. “I got injured.”
“I can see that I meant how did you get injured?”
“During a fight, I twisted it or something.”
“Oh I hope you get better soon. My brother used to get injured a lot too.” He says.
“Really, your brother´s an athlete?” Kei asks.
“Was. He played baseball, as pitcher. Always got his shoulder and elbow hurt.”
We nod. “So about the manager thing…” Kei begins.
“I´m sorry, I don´t think I´m qualified. I don´t know anything about special fighting.”
“We can teach you!” Kei offers desperately.
I get up. “How about we let you think about it overnight. We´ll come back tomorrow.”

“I´m still not sure, I mean it sounds fun but I have this situation at home…” He begins the next day after school ends.
“Are you being hit?” Kei asks quietly.
“NO, god no. My parents just think that grades are the most important thing and sport gets in the way. I told them about the offer from yesterday but they said that I should focus on more important things.” He looks down sad. “Like Mako-nii should have.”
“Just tell them this: Hisagi-sensei, our advisor makes extra sure our grades are good. None of the team has a failing grade.” I say.
He looks up. “Really? But you have a lot of practice.”
I nod. “We do but we all help each other out.”
“Yeah, Ta-chan is a straight A student in math, surprisingly.” Kei chimes in.
“Surprisingly?” I look at him angrily.
He smiles. “I meant because of all the work you put into special fighting some would be surprised to hear that.”
“Nice safe.” The boy says. He looks up to us. “You know what, I´ll join.”
Kei and I stare at each other. “And your parents?”
“I´ll just proof them wrong.” He smiles at us. “I think this could be a lot of fun.”
Kei and I nod.
“Our first year girls said something about you not being in school for the first few week, why´s that?” Kei asks while the boy fills in the club application.
“My brother had an accident.” He answers.
“Like a car accident?” I ask.
He shakes his head. “More like an accident with himself.”
Kei and I look at each other in confusion. After a few seconds we get it. “Oh. Oh, I´m sorry for asking.” I say.
He hands Kei the application. “It´s ok, don´t worry. It´s just weird with him not around anymore.”
I nod. “Just imagining being without Taiki…” I shudder. “… that would be the worst. But maybe we can help you, so you don´t feel sad all the time.”
He smiles again. “That would be nice.”

We walk him to the gym, everyone´s already diligently working out. As soon as Taiki sees us he runs towards us. “Takara, you came to watch? I have great news!”
I nod and show off the new manager. “He´ll be helping Kei.”
The rest of the team gathers.
“This is…” I just remembered that I haven’t asked his name jet.
“I´m Date Nagisa, your new manager. Nice to meet you.” I bows.
Taiki smiles. “Wait…” He holds someone by the arm, a red haired familiar looking boy.
“Aki-kun?” I ask.
He nods. “I´m back, hope that´s ok?”
I hug him. “Thank you for coming back.”

“Everyone, summer brake’s right around the corner. Enjoy your time with your families and friends but don’t forget our summer training camp from hell starts on the 25th of July.” Manami-san tells us before locking the gym.

“Where are we going for the camp?” Nagi-kun asks. “Am I allowed to come too?”
I nod. “To Chiba and if your parents allow it.”
“Man, you can´t imagine how glad I am that you´re back.” Chi-kun says to Aki-kun.
He smiles. “I´m really sorry to have caused you so much trouble.”
“Hey everyone how about we all go eat some ice cream? It´s on me!” I turn to everyone.
“Sure!” Is the answer.
Taiki supports me while walking. “About your knee…”
“Not the right time, Taiki. Let´s have some fun, ok?”
He nods. “I´m just worried…”
“Takara-senpai can I have two Popsicles?” Aka-kun asks.
I let go of Taiki and walk towards Aka-kun. “Sure, just be careful, you might get a brain freeze.”
“You need a brain first for it to freeze.” Kat-kun says.
The two argue a bit. Taiki gives ma half of his Popsicle. “The team´s complete now.”
I nod and start eating, watermelon flavor, my favorite.

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