"So." Fuji hitched his bag up on his shoulder as he strolled along beside
Kunimitsu. "What do you think of this rumor about the new players?"
Kunimitsu stifled a wince as the every student in hearing started murmuring.
He disliked gossip just about as much as Fuji enjoyed it. Still, he supposed
it could be worse.
At least there weren’t any supernatural beings hanging around this year.
"I heard they played soccer in middle school…"
"I heard they got kicked out of the game, and that’s why they switched over
to tennis for high school!"
"But they can’t be any good, if they just started."
"If they’re third years now," Fuji put in, "they have at least that much experience."
"Yes, but…" Ooishi frowned. "I’ve heard that their play has been… well,
"This is their second straight year as Regulars." Kikumaru shrugged. "Seems
like they make a good team."
"Yes, but this thing they have with Yamabuki—" Ooishi broke off as they all
rounded the last corner and saw the courts.
What he saw was a wheel, Kunimitsu thought. Not in shape but in movement—in
focus. Everyone and everything centered on the tall blond who had to be
the captain. Everything moved around him. Kunimitsu frowned; it wasn’t a
very… Seigaku arrangement. Well, he could tolerate it for a year if he
had to, he supposed. The practice seemed to be running smoothly enough.
Though… the burly player with the odd grayish hair, off to one side, was
going to cost the school a new ball machine if his returns kept hitting
it. The casing was badly dented already. Well, he told himself, hanging
onto some optimism, it meant they had an excellent power player in the club.
"Curious combination that pair on the end has," Fuji murmured.
Ooishi looked rather troubled, himself, watching the two players. "You’d almost
think they hated each other."
Kunimitsu had to agree. He had an irresistible impression that both players
were constantly on the edge of grabbing a handful of the other’s long hair
and yanking. The opposing pair, twins by the look of them,
had far more harmony in their formation.
"Tight play, though," Fuji observed. As the red-haired player served he added
more softly, "And a… rather small waist, too."
Kunimitsu raised a brow at Fuji.
"No, it’s nothing." Fuji had a tiny smile, though.
"Ah!" Kikumaru exclaimed, pointing. "Look! He’s even more chibi than Ochibi!"
Then he sidled around behind Ooishi as the "chibi" in question turned to give
him the flattest, coldest, oldest look Kunimitsu had ever seen
on a human face.
Throughout this, the captain had seemed to take no notice of the new first-years’
arrival, but now he called everyone in. Kunimitsu drew a discreet breath
of relief and settled down, as they lined up, to listen to the first day
speech. There were no surprises, which relaxed him more.
Until the end.
"Yamabuki has been working, too. But this year it won’t do them any good.
This year, we’ll take Seishaku and his people down." The captain’s blue
eyes took on a rather unsettling gleam. "This time, we’ll have them."
The Regular players snapped back, in clearly accustomed unison, "Yes, Gi-buchou!"
Kunimitsu was starting to have a very bad feeling about this.
In a Heaven, in a Book…
Suzaku stood with his hands on his hips, glaring at his brother. "Was
that really necessary? I finally thought I’d found a way to make all of
them happy, and now this!"
"It wasn’t my idea." Seiryuu examined his nails. "Talk to my ex-seishi."
Suzaku growled and stalked off across the planes to see what he could do about
this trouble in the way of the souls he’d put so much effort into getting
reincarnated properly. At least, he thought, no one but a mortal would be
interfering with him this time…