Hyuuga Junpei could feel all his muscles protesting feebly as he hauled himself up the last step to the pedestrian overpass on his way home. The pain of the killer workout they’d all been put through for the first day of the new basketball club reminded him of other annoyances, and he glanced over his shoulder at his companion.
“And why is Kiyoshi calling you ‘Riko’, anyway?” he demanded.
Riko rolled her eyes so hard she nearly missed her own first step up to the walkway. “Because he said to call him Teppei, so I said to call me Riko. It would feel weird if he were ‘Aida-san’ing me while I called him Teppei.”
“So call him Kiyoshi, like everyone else in the school,” Junpei argued. Like, for example, he did, and then it wouldn’t seem like the too-perceptive, infuriatingly-determined bastard had stolen his childhood friend.
Alarmingly, Riko grinned. “Yeah, but he gets this sad expression whenever I do. It’s kind of cute, actually.”
Junpei hitched his bag glumly up over his shoulder and stumped down the stairs on the other side. Cute. Great.
“What’s the problem with it, anyway?” Riko demanded, elbowing him as they started down the street of little shops and restaurants that led toward home. “You call me Riko, after all.”
“Yeah, but…” Junpei stifled the rest of his sentence before but you invited him to could get out of his mouth. Even in his own head, that sounded stupid and childish, and if he said it out loud Riko would probably be annoyed at him. Actually, given how annoyed at him she’d been for most of the past year, she’d probably hit him. It was bad enough that she’d taken to calling him Hyuuga-kun months ago, and still hadn’t stopped. “Never mind,” he muttered. After a long moment, broken only by Riko’s predictable distraction over the Rilakkuma phone straps being sold at the stall beside the bakery, he added, “Besides, if you’re our coach, now, the whole team should be calling you Kantoku.”
Riko laughed. “I could get used to that, maybe. After all, I’m going to be putting you all through hell like a good coach should.”
The brightness of a good challenge lit up her whole face, and Junpei’s stomach did ridiculous flip-flops just to see that. “Well then.” He cleared his throat and tried to make sure he didn’t sound breathless at all. “I’ll rely on you. Kantoku.”
She grinned up at him, and linked her arm through his for a few steps, and Junpei smiled helplessly back. He had a feeling he was going to be calling her that a lot, just to see this sparkle in her. He was clearly, completely, and totally doomed.
He was maybe kind of okay with that, though.
“So, what are you going to inflict on us tomorrow?” he asked.
The sparkle turned to a gleam, and Riko cracked her knuckles ominously. “Well, I was thinking about that…”
He listened to her planning their death from exhaustion, and nodded along agreeably, and even made a few suggestions for the footwork drills. She teased him about acting all captain-ly already, and he smiled crookedly and agreed. Captain and coach had to work together a lot, after all. No matter how big and infuriating an idiot fate had inflicted on him to drag him back to basketball, and no matter how well Kiyoshi seemed to get along with Riko, Junpei and Riko would have this. For three years, if he wasn’t stupid enough to throw it away again.
Yeah, maybe he was okay with doomed.