Oh my goodness, the Kitsune making an author's note? Surely it's the end of the world. Anyhow, she hopes you enjoy the chapter, but apologizes that it's... probably not what most would think for a first K-Fight. Kitsune promises that future chapters will have a good deal more action, so if you liked the premise but don't like this chapter, please at least give the next one a chance. Thank you very much for reading.
Hitomi sounded confident as her quiet, calm voice broke through the tense air, but she trembled. If Watanbe accepted, he could choose the type of match they would have. She had a much better chance than Ryoko or Shizuma, but there was still a good chance that Watanbe would come up with something that would stump her.
But it was a chance she was willing to take if she could help her friends.
It took everyone in the room several moments to understand what had just happened. Soft-spoken, submissive Hitomi was standing up to the most imposing teacher at Daimon High. Most students would accept the most ridiculous punishments from him because it meant spending less time around him. Hitomi had no direct conflict with Watanbe – she was stepping up to him on her own accord. She was crazy.
So the students began to applaud.
Watanbe's face turned red. He was beginning to lose control of the room, lose the attention of the students. He glared at Hitomi quietly for several moments. She was more corrupt than he thought – he would have to disregard how sorry he felt for her and crush her. He could not step away from this K-Fight, absurd as it would be, or else he would lose the students even more.
"Fine," he barked, stepping towards the small student and towering over her. "Then you shouldn't mind the challenge being based on your summer reading. This L-Fight will revolve around The Tale of Genji." Watanbe grinned – Hitomi was a good student, and she had most likely finished her homework at the beginning to the summer. Watanbe had just reread it before class started. Details from the text would become his advantage, and his victory would have a much greater impact.
Hitomi looked squarely up at Watanbe. A slight frown tugged the corners of her lips down as she gave a little gulp. "I don't mind, Watanbe-sensei . . . but could we avoid questions about the poetry?"
"Hitomi, you idiot!" Ryoko shouted, voice finally jumping out of her throat, overcoming her shock.
Watanbe grinned and waved Ryoko back. "Why, Yuki-san, the poems were my favorite part. I must concentrate on them," he said though a false smile. The contest was completed and won already in his mind. "In fact, I was planning on the challenge being this: one contestant first recalls a poem from the novel. If he can do that correctly, the other must decide who wrote the poem, and for whom it was written." The panic could be heard sweeping across the classroom. "The first person to either recite a poem incorrectly or give the following answer incorrectly loses."
Now Ryoko's face fell into nervousness, even for the crafty smile Hitomi gave as she mumbled, "I accept."
"Aya-san, get my copy of the text. It has all the poems marked. You will check our recitations and answers if a dispute arises."
A small, frail girl slowly nodded, though she returned with the book reluctantly. Everyone wanted Hitomi to win, but now, no one believed that she could. She was intelligent – but how could she outsmart a teacher in his own subject, especially when she had so casually given away her weakness?
Only Shizuma seemed unfazed. Still standing beside Ryoko, he grinned down at her and clapped her on the shoulder. "You ain't scared, are you?"
With a start, Ryoko looked up. She scowled at Shizuma – stupid monkey. Always so naïve. She crossed her arms and looked away from him. "Of course I am," she huffed, "There's a lot at stake, you know."
"Well, sure I know. Buy don't'cha trust Hitomi?"
"What!" Ryoko barely kept herself from cursing and glared at Shizuma, arms thrown out and fists clenched. "How dare you! Of course I trust Hitomi!"
"Then why so nervous?"
"Because she's a kind woman, not a ruthless fighter! She's already gotten herself in too deep – she shouldn't have stepped up in the first place! She-"
"-will be fine," Shizuma grunted, rolling his eyes. "I betcha she knows what she's doing, so just chill out. Have some faith, Sasquatch."
Ryoko pulled back her fist, finally ready to deck the idiot, when she caught sight of Hitomi's face. Her fist froze. Now that the K-Fight was about to start, Hitomi looked much more confident. She flashed Ryoko a bright smile, all the worries etched across her face gone. The samurai girl stared hard at her gentle companion. Was that the fire of a fighting spirit she could see in Hitomi's eyes? She felt conflicted about what she saw – part of her wanted innocent Hitomi back, not see her fight.
Watanbe seemed to have noticed the change as well, a small look of confusion twitching across his face. Neither he nor Ryoko, however, had much time to contemplate the thought further.
"Gooooood morning, Daimon High!" yelled a high, enthusiastic voice. Within moments, Natsumi Fujishima and her gang had burst into the classroom. Microphone in hand, the blonde girl smiled cheerfully and assessed the situation. No one dared to ask just how they had found out about the K-Fight.
A team with two cameras, an extra mike, three referees, two reporters, and a nurse-in-training set up around the class. Natsumi wasted no time in catching up the rest of Daimon High with what she had just, somehow, learned.
"This is Natsumi Fujishima, dedicated as always to bringing you the latest K-Fight news, on site with this year's first K-Fight!" Her clear voice rang throughout the entire school, and everyone stopped to listen. "It seems reigning champion Ryoko Mitsurugi and close-second Shizuma Kusanagi arrived late to school to Watanbe-sensei's class. His threats, however, were met by bright Hitomi Yuki! This means that our first K-Fight is between Japanese Literature Instructor Kusari Watanbe and quiet genius Hitomi Yuki!"
Hitomi looked down and blushed at the introductions blared across the classroom. Watanbe, however, looked far from flattered, fists clenching tightly at his side. Before he could get a word in edgewise, the relentless emcee continued on.
"This is a K-Fight of the minds – no punches shall be exchanged . . . not yet, at least! This battle of wits revolves around The Tale of Genji – which everyone should have read at least a snatch of by now! A clash of the famous 795 poems! Though not physical, this promises to be a rough match – neither contestant will give in easily!"
As she rambled on, two of her free-handed helpers cleared the students away from the middle of the class, set up a podium for Kansai Aya, put up two chairs for the contestants, sat them down, and trained the cameras on them. Their work done, they faded into the background as a spotlight from a camera brightened the two K-Fighters.
"Annnnd – it's time to begin!"
Watanbe was quite obviously perturbed by the fiasco rising around them, but he glared steadily at Hitomi. Even if she knew more than she had let on, he knew he could beat her. This was his class, after all, and no student would surpass her teacher. An arrogant grin found its way to his face. "You first, then, Yuki-san."
Folding her hands in her lap, Hitomi merely smiled in response. She gave a quiet nod and closed her eyes, recalling every word she had read. "Now the end has come," she recited in a clear voice, "and I am filled with sorrow that our ways must part; the path I would rather take is the one that leads to life." As soon as she finished the poem, soft applause broke out across the room. Her gentle voice echoed as it she were every young woman from the tale.
Watanbe scowled. Sure, she sounded pretty, but she obviously had little idea of what she was doing. "The first poem, Yuki-san? I had expected a little more from you. His Majesty's love from Kiritsubo, mother of Genji, to His Majesty, father of Genji. I-"
"And the first round passes with no victory! In a perhaps poor move on her part, Hitomi recites the-"
"Would you shut up!" Watanbe barked, snapping a cold glare on the emcee. "I don't think the student body needs a play-by-play on the discussion of poetry!"
Natsumi frowned, shrinking back. She knew he was right, of course – but what was she supposed to do during the challenge? She lowered her mike, pouting, but remained silent and nodded.
"Better." Watanbe turned back to Hitomi. "Following the path I trusted I would take me to a teacher of the Law," he said without ceremony, "I lost my way and wandered a mountain I never sought."
Hitomi pushed her glasses up, nodding once. "The final poem. The Commander in a letter to his love, the nun."
Natsumi sighed and remained silent.
"I who give my all for your love have my reward, for to find you here," Hitomi said in a deeper voice than before, "Where so deep a channel runs, proves the power of our bond."
Frowning at the thought that Hitomi might indeed know a good many of the poems, Watanbe's face slipped into an impassive visage, and he replied coldly. "Genji, to Akashi." When no commentary cut through from Natsumi, he recited his next poem without a thought. "Lost in my sorrows I never knew months and days were still passing by – is the tear really over, and my time, too in the world?"
With her smile growing steadily, Hitomi responded confidently. "Genji to the sate before his decree and before his death, inspired by his young Prince." She shifted lightly in her seat and took up a much younger sounding voice. "Why you should complain I have no the least idea, and that troubles me: who then, is the kin you mean, and what plant have you in mind?"
"Murasaki's first poem, to Genji," Watanbe replied, voice noticeably more rushed. "Even as I mourn not knowing whether that dream means another night, endless time seems to go by while my eyelids never close."
And so the challenge went. Each passing poem put Watanbe more on edge, while calming Hitomi further. The two recited ten poems, then fifty, and soon surpassed one hundred. Many students had stopped paying attention and were off in small groups to catch up with friends, only caring about the final results of the K-"Fight." Natsumi continued to listen, but was leaning forward in her chair and about ready to doze off. Even Kansai, flipping through the book as disputes arose, was beginning to look bored.
Ryoko still stood tense, however, eyes never leaving Hitomi. It seemed like either contestant could win, now, but she still feared for her friend. It was not in her nature to fight, even mentally. She wanted to rush in and whack Watanbe a good one, but she had to remain still and in the background. Shizuma had, predictably, fallen asleep next to the samurai. She thought he was being rude, obnoxious, and his usual idiotic self.
Monobrow was merely feeling confident.
"Now that I have seen faintly the flower's color through the gathering dusk," Watanbe rasped through clenched teeth as he recited the one hundred and twenty-eighth poem of the challenge. "I can hardly bear to leave while morning mists still rise."
Hitomi merely flashed him a warm smile for the sixty-fourth time and responded easily. "His Reverence to his love, a nun." The quiet girl then tucked back a strand of hair, rose her head, and spoke in such a hauntingly soft and beautiful voice that everyone looked to her, certain that the recitation was important.
"It has been my lot to inhabit once again this world of sorrows, yet in the moonlit City, nobody will ever know."
Watanbe, who had also been waiting for something significant to happen, merely snorted. "Ukifune, in writing practice," he responded gruffly. "You whose priv-"
"Wait," Hitomi very quietly, very carefully cut him off, bringing her hands up slowly. "But you did not say form whom the poem was composed."
With a roll of his eyes, Watanbe conceded with an expounded answer. "Ukifune wrote it in practice word-smithing when lonely. It was, therefore, written to herself. Now, for me-"
Hitomi shook her head. "No. That is incorrect."
The entire class (save, of course, for Shizuma) turned their attention to the K-Fight's conclusion.
Turning beet red, Watanbe glared at Hitomi. That insolent student, questioning him! Before he could verbally assault her, however, she stood to continue her line of thought. "Ukifune did, yes, write the poem as practice. She composed it, however, for the sky."
Watanbe was soon on his feet as well, muscles trembling with erupting anger. "That is-"
Natsumi cut him off at the first possible moment.
"There you have it, K-Fight fans! It seems as though Watanbe-sensei has been beaten at his own subject – at his own specialty in the subject! This is amazing, people – Hitomi comes through with a surprising win! I-"
"I object," Watanbe bellowed, fists clenching tightly. "That is the most pitiful reasoning for-"
"I think it's perfectly sound reasoning." A quiet gasp rippled through the class, and everyone, even Watanbe, turned to its source. Principle Todo stood in the doorway, eyes obscured as always by his sunglasses and a grin across his face. "I think it proves Hitomi's mastery of the poems over yours, actually."
Watanbe started, eyes widening. "But, sir-"
"But nothing, Kusari. She looked deeper into the text, studied its words further, and learned something you missed. Hitomi Yuki, therefore, is the winner."
"It's official! By ruling from Principle Todo, we have verification that Hitomi Yuki is the winner! The first K-Fight of the year sees the defeat of rough teacher Watanbe and victory of quiet Hitomi! This is one for the records, everyone, and you heard it here first!"
Loud applause broke out across the room, mixed with cheers and hoots and general jubilance. Ryoko wasted no time rushing forward and throwing her arms around her closest friend, picking her up in her enthusiasm. Hitomi flushed pink and laughed, returning the hug.
"You did it, Hitomi! You won the first K-Fight! You were amazing!"
When Hitomi finally had both feet back on the ground and could breath once again, she just blushed more and looked down. "Not really . . . I just knew something he didn't, that's all. It's not as great as the things you do."
A lopsided smile crossed Ryoko's face as she shook her head. Ruffling Hitomi's straight, black hair, the samurai laughed and patted her friend on the shoulder. "It's just as great as what I do, if not more. I just hit things. That was amazing."
Before Hitomi could continue being embarrassed and Ryoko could continue to flatter her, Watanbe stormed up. Already over his shock and moving on to a more dangerous emotion – anger – he looked prepared to tear the two apart. He could not get a word in, however, before Shizuma yanked him back.
"You lost, man," Shizuma said curtly, glaring at the teacher. "Just-" The bell rang, calling the students to their next classes and cutting Shizuma off. He grinned. "Well, guess I don't hafta worry 'bout rearrangin' your face. 'Til next time, 'least." He dropped his hold on the man's suit. "See ya around."
Turning back to Ryoko and Hitomi, he gave a bright smile. "Awesome job, Hitomi!"
Hitomi was achieving new shades of red as she blushed more. "Th-Thanks."
"Not that you would know," Ryoko sniffed, crossing her arms. "You were asleep through most of it!"
With a laugh, Shizuma just shrugged. "Yeah, well, I just figured what would happen." He punched Ryoko in the arm, then turned. "C'mon – I don't wanna be late for another class!"