Hiruma was known to Mamori by the simplest connection. They shared the same classroom. They shared the same age, the same teachers and the same football team. Hiruma, captain of the Devilbats was keen on American football at large. Mamori was keen on keeping in line with Sena's new favourite activity. They shared so much, including their total, undying, utter dislike of one another.

Ideally, the two of them would be fast acquaintances, if not friends. Wrong. Though they spent more time together than they realized, neither Hiruma nor Mamori would choose to waste any extra time with one another.

"Fucking manager," Hiruma growled one day as he exited the locker room, hearing Mamori's fussing cries over Sena. She was such a mother to the younger boy that it seemed completely out of place. Hiruma's bubblegum popped. He dragged it back between his teeth and continued chewing.

As he loped across the field in his football gear, helmet in hand, he rolled his eyes.

"Sena!" Mamori cried, "You still need your sunscreen. It's so much hotter now, you'll get burnt!"

Come on, shrimp, Hiruma thought, Tell her to stuff it.

"Okay, Mamori-neesan," Sena answered, stopping so she could slather his cheeks. Hiruma growled and yanked his helmet on before turning, guns ablaze. His team fell into line, Mamori immediately admonishing him.

"Hiruma!" she shrieked, "For the love of God, stop trying to kill them!"

Hiruma ignored her. "Troops!" he bellowed, his eyes slits, "I'm going to work you so hard today your kneecaps will be walking you home. No one rests until everyone's done, GOT THAT?"

The Devilbats all nodded quickly, aware of the glinting steel in his hand.

Breathing huffily, Mamori stormed off to the side bench and sat down.

"There's just no talking to him," she grumbled, pulling out her clipboard. She shook off her anger and focused instead on the team. Now that she knew Sena was in fact the much idolized Eyeshield 21, she had to keep a proper lookout for his welfare. Sure, he could manage along without her, but if she'd only known sooner, she would never have let Sena go through the demonic training Hiruma had put the team through.

"After all," she groused quietly, "He's still so much smaller than everyone else."

Yes, Sena was definitely one of the smaller team players. Especially compared to players like Kurita and the Hah brothers. Their robust physiques outmatched his small frame by miles.

And compared to Hiruma ... Mamori looked up, her eye finding the tall, lanky captain. Even in his shoulder pads, helmet and gear, Hiruma still stood out as lean and completely long-legged. Though the white stretch pants certainly did emphasize his strong calf and thigh muscles. Hmmm. she thought, tapping her pen against her lip. He didn't look too bad in his gear. At least his helmet covered his ridiculous hair and piercings.

Suddenly a projectile came flying out of nowhere, making Mamori yelp and jump to the side, toppling off her bench.

She grumbled as she sat up, recognizing the fallen football. Looking up she knew where to place her glare.

"Fucking manager! Keep your eyes on the game! Do your job, dammit!" Hiruma yelled from across the field he had obviously just kicked the ball over.

"Oh! That boy!" Mamori hissed as she clambered upright. Sitting straight, she focused back on the players who had fallen into their practice matches. She began taking notes, mumbling curses under her breath.

Mamori got back into her usual rhythm and took part in what had become one of the most natural things for her during the play of football. Hand signals. She had perfected her language of communication to a perfect point and found it was almost second nature to report on the plays from across the field. She made use of the signals through every game and because it seemed to work so well, she felt pride in her analytical skills.

Hiruma was the only one, naturally, who even understood the signals. They were honed and fine tuned to match him. His eyes always kept a lookout for flashing hands and snapping fingers. It's a good thing the damn manager could work fast, else he'd never be able to wait for her messages. No one else could message fast enough these days. Sometimes he only had a second or two to look, grasp the idea, formulate a counter play and get his team moving. All of this hinged on the messages and, of course, his brilliant mind.

Mamori took extra notes once the boys had stopped their practice. She even wrote down some extra notes for Sena, feeling he could do with some new positioning ideas from the sideline vantage point.

The team trooped past, sweating and gasping for breath. The Hah brothers looked about ready to murder someone, making Mamori think twice before handing them towels.

"Senaaaa!" a voice cried out, making Mamori look up.

"Ah, Suzuna-chan," Sena said from nearby where he pulled off his helmet. His hair was plastered to his face and his cheeks were red. Mamori held back a comment as Suzuna flew at the boy.

"Sorry I'm late!" the dark-haired, rollerblade-wearing girl cried, "My class had a meeting. Had to go, even though I knew all the other cheerleaders were away today. Had to show some spirit, ne?"

"Well, we don't need all of them, those cheering girls. You do just fine, Suzuna," Mamori said, smiling.

"Mamori-chan! You're too kind," Suzuna giggled then, the two girls sharing a grin.

"Get out already," Hiruma said, appearing from behind Sena and bopping him on the head, making Sena wince. "Fucking shrimp."

Mamori felt her rage rising. Standing with her hands on her hips, she let rip.

"Don't you go beating up on Sena! You great ape-shaped, peanut-brained, ego retarded brute! Stop taking your idiotic tendencies out on him! And stop calling him that!" She was glaring up at him, aware that he was eyeing her through his visor, his cat-like eyes calculating as ever.

Sena looked worried. Who knew when the day would come that Mamori-neechan and Hiruma might end up blowing each other to bits? "Eh..." he said sheepishly, "It's okay Mamori-neesan. I'm used to it."

But the two older students were ignoring him. Not taking her eyes off Hiruma, Mamori kept her glare on full blast. The Deimon captain pulled off his helmet, his sharp eyes glaring right back, daring her to argue once more. As she eyed him, Mamori couldn't help noticing how his blonde hair was also stuck to his face, the back pointing out at odd angles. He was drenched in sweat.

"Fucking shut up, fucking manager," he said, pushing Sena towards the locker room forcefully so he stumbled.

"I swear, Youichi ..." Mamori hissed, her slit eyes mirroring his own, "If you say that one ... more time ..."

Pop! went Hiruma's bubblegum. He looked completely unconcerned as he pushed past, his helmet slung over one shoulder. That was it. Mamori had had enough. Leaning down and grabbing the nearest thing, she threw it at him. The football hit him square in the back of the head, making him jolt forward. Hiruma spun around so fast, Mamori thought he'd ended up behind her. But he hadn't. He was right. In. Her. Face. Sena grabbed Suzuna's hand and ran for it.

"What the fuck was that?" Hiruma said, his sharp teeth on show. His eyes shocked her. They were blue. Albeit a cold, dark blue but blue nonetheless. She felt her rage bubbling inside. Hiruma didn't scare her in the least. Maybe that's why she was the manager? She was the only damn person who never ever backed down from him. And this is what Hiruma was hoping for.

Standing her ground, Mamori folded her arms, as though not bothered by his face so near her own. "You're the worst captain I've ever seen," she said coldly. "The way you treat your team? Disgusting."

Hiruma stood up slowly, not breaking eye contact. Hm, the girl still had spunk. A bit of inner rage. Not too shabby, even after these years. Feeling his grin cross his face, Hiruma chortled. Liftinf a long finger, he pushed hard against her shoulder. "Fucking manager. Like you know anything about running a team."

"Ow," Mamori cried, slapping his hand away. She was disconcerted when his grin grew stronger. "I know you shouldn't treat them like dogs the way you do." By now it was just the two of them left on the field.

"You think you can run this team?" Hiruma said evilly. "I'd like to see you try!"

Mamori hesitated. She knew he was baiting her. Knowing full well she wasn't qualified to fully teach the team anything, she opted on saying nothing. Hiruma clucked at her furious expression. "Poor manager. Not worth much, are you?"

With that, he turned, his long legs carrying him away. Mamori wanted to yell something; wanted to kick him, but she didn't. Her face was red and her blood pulsing. How dare he treat me like that! he thought furiously.

"You know what?!" she screamed suddenly so he could hear from far off. "You think I'm so bad?! FINE. I quit!"

Mamori threw down her clipboard and stormed by, making Hiruma raise an eyebrow. She even shoved at his back as she went.

Huh, didn't see that one coming, he thought, amused. He'd expected a longer fight. One worth sticking round for.

"Not a problem," he said to her retreating figure, "Didn't need you anyway." He chewed his fresh gum, watching Mamori storm off, her hair flicking through the air as she whipped out of sight.


to be continued...