Chapter 17:

Other Teamwork

Game Gyaru

As sports day went on, it was time for Hakuta to show off his training. Not to impress anyone, but more accurately to ensure what he had done over the past week wasn’t a complete waste of time. Though it might as well be a waste of time seeing as the boy didn’t plan on keeping up that work regimen. So his life wasn’t going to see the fruits of his labor for long.

“So what’s our next contest?” He asked as they left the track. Apparently their next competition against the other students was going to be badminton. Specifically contests of two-on-two for classes to try and earn points with them. It wasn’t supposed to be a tournament, so basically half of the contestants were going to be getting something for their classes one way or another.

“Teams of two?” Said Shiuka. “Then, can me and Hakuta-”

“I’ll team up with Hakuta.” Rouko cut in before she was able to make the suggestion. “You already got to run with the others while the two of us just sat on our butts.” She made a good point. This day was also about fairness, so the pair yet to compete should get their shot now. “Hope you don’t got a problem with that.”

“No…” She was disappointed about this turn of events. But there was no way to argue against it. “Go ahead.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll make sure to scoop up some points.” He said. Admittedly, Hakuta was disappointed as much as she was about not being able to be partners. Considering their teamwork during that arcade game, and all of the experience together with dancing. It was likely they’d be able to sweep the competition without a sweat.

“Fufufu.” Quietly, Rouko chuckled to herself. Her plan was coming all together now. Well, it wasn’t a plan created weeks in advanced. More like, she was doing things as they went about. Which wasn’t a plan at all.

Anyway, the more important detail was her motivation to her actions. It was clear to her that he was special to her friend in some manner. Which made little sense as they rarely hung out together as far as she was aware. Why was Shiuka acting in this way? This was what she wanted to find out.

Also, she liked seeing her friends squirm under the stress as she pulled away the boy from her.

“So, do you know how to play badminton?” He asked as they got their rackets and shuttlecock for some warm up before competing against real people.

“Nope, nada.” Despite having zero experience, she was still dead set on playing by his side. “And I take it someone who plays videos games all day doesn’t have a clue either.”

“Well, just because you’re right doesn’t mean I’m doing to suck at this.” At the very least, the pair were aware of the rules to the game. It was simple, hit the shuttlecock over the net. Don’t let it touch the ground on your side and try to create situations to challenge your opponent so they fail to return it. Simple, but not going to be easy considering those they were competing against were doing the same thing.

It also wasn’t going to be easy for him seeing who was by his side. While Hakuta was concerned about the lack of chemistry between them to make the team work. Rouko had other ideas in mind. Specifically, how could she rile up her friend even more by taking this precious time with him away from her.

“You should make sure to get plenty of pictures of us.” She called out to the photographers. To people who didn’t know her, the girl’s tone of voice could easily food anyone into things she was just some naive innocent high school teenager. “I wanna make sure we remember all the wonderful things we did.” It was easy to get the attention of some of the boys with cameras. After all, who could resist the temptation of a cute girl playing a sport in such a cute manner?

“Oh geez.” Hakuta was worried as more people’s attentions were drawn towards them. It only served to make him more concerned about looking stupid in front of everyone. Worst of all, some had cameras so the memories were going to be permanent good or bad. “Well, I hope the two of us do well.” He spoke with cautious optimism.

“Hmm, what did you say?” She didn’t notice, as Rouko was too busy posing for all the flash photography going on. As stated before, who wouldn’t want to save a pic of a girl in her gym uniform for later?

“Never mind.” He gave up on trying to reason with this girl. Instead, he decided to move on with their sport, ignorant to what was going on in her mind. “Let’s just get started.” After a quick warm up, they shown who their opponents were going to be. Already he had wanted to give up, seeing as they were tasked against some student who clearly were in athletic clubs. “This doesn’t look good.”

“Ah, just shut up and serve.” She told him, acting fully confident in the face of adversity. But that was due to her not viewing this as adversity at all. In fact, she didn’t even care about winning this game in this moment. There were more important things on her mind that involved much more fun.

“Okay…” He said, and hit the shuttlecock over the net. The teams engaged in a bit of back and forth as they took turns returning the shuttlecock. Since Hakuta and Rouko were not versed in understanding this game. They also had no idea on the best strategies to properly make it difficult for their opponents to trip up. That said, their opponents were much more experienced than they were. So the opposite pair were making things a challenge for them.

However, neither side showed signs of giving up. Which was good for Rouko, she needed to get things just where she wanted them to have some fun with this boy. “Hiya!” He dove and just barely was able to return the shuttlecock over the net. Being on the ground meant she was going to have to try and return it the next time it came over not matter what. The other team knew that, so of course they aimed towards his side of the court.

“I got it.” She called out, running right towards him who had yet to get back onto his feet.

“Wait, I’m-” He was unable to stop her in time, though it was completely on purpose from her side. Rouko tripped and tumbled over him. She laid right on top of him when things were said and done as they lost the point to the other team.

“Oopsies!” She spoke in an innocent manner to make her actions seem more inconspicuous. “Looks like we got tangled up.” Indeed, she wasn’t the only one to notice how they looked to everyone. Everyone watching saw it happening and immediately those with cameras started to snap pictures. This would make for a good memory for the yearbook.

“This is so embarrassing.” He tried to cover his face as the moment was permanently captured for the rest of time. With her collision, he was lucky she didn’t end up getting his glasses broken. “Can you just get off of me?” While she wasn’t so heavy that he couldn’t do so himself. Hakuta didn’t want to appear mean by pushing this girl in front of everyone.

“Hmm?” She giggled and got closer to his face. “Shouldn’t someone like you be savoring the moment?” This was a good plan for her as she was able to get a high def view of him squirming while on top of him. At the same time, she was able to catch a glimpse out of the corner of her eye towards the audience watching. Most were cheering them on to try and pull out a win, and some were a bit shocked to seeing the two so close to one another.

However, there was one specific person whose reaction was all she cared to see. That being Shiuka’s. This girl was staring intently at the pair as they rested on the ground. Her eyes were piercing daggers right at her, while at the same time, tightly gripping onto the cloth of her shorts. Something that would go unnoticed to most who weren’t paying any attention. “Fufufu.”

“I don’t think I like this evil chuckle have.” He said, now concerned as to why she was acting so strangely. “Can you please get off? I really don’t want to have to push you off.”

“Fine.” She finally got up onto her feet. Now the girl was content with the seeds of discord she had planted. All there was left to do was to wait for it to sprout and see what happened next with no intervention of her own. “Now, come on. We got a game to win.”

They ended up losing.

“Sheesh.” He was massively disappointed with how things turned out. “Why couldn’t you have taken this a little more seriously?”

“Relax.” She ignored the tone of his words as the girl gave him a slap on the back. “We had fun, right? That’s really what matters today.” Her words were true, at least about the part of having fun being what was important. Though between the two of them, it was only her who was enjoying herself on the court.

“I just wanted to support the team.” With all the work he put in with Shiuka, it was the least he could do to make sure that girl didn’t waste her time on him. Speaking of her, she was coming towards them along with the others. “Ah, Shiuka, I guess we couldn’t…” His words trailed off as she simply ignored him as the girl walked past. It shocked him to see her act in this manner that time seemed to slow as she walked.

“Ahh, don’t worry about losing.” Istuku was there to console him about the taste of defeat. “We can’t win them all.”

“Plus, there’s still plenty of events to go through.” Said Yuusen. “So, how about we keep trying our best? There’s no way we can lose them all.”

“Yeah…” Hakuta spoke with only a fraction of enthusiasm compared to his friends. As he peered over to Shiuka, who was talking to her friends as they moved towards the next event. For some reason, it felt like he had taken the biggest loss right in this moment.  

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