The following week involved a lot of emotional trauma for the poor Deimon Devilbats. They found out Mamori had resigned but hadn't realized until Hiruma taunted her at the next practice.
He made jabs at the fact she'd still showed up to cheer Sena on and keep an eye on him but wouldn't put her brain to her old tasks. Hiruma laughed maniacally when she couldn't respond, her place as manager removed.
She kept coming to practices but after a few more days, she'd had enough. Sena was very saddened to see she didn't appear at all on the eve of their next big school match. It was only going to be another inter-class tournament but Sena missed her company and encouragement.
Hiruma, however, couldn't have cared less. Though Sena and Monta's morale had dropped, the rest of the team kept training away.
Friday came round, heralding the day of the match. It was going to be held after fifth period, allowing students to leave class early and head outdoors. Hiruma, at school early, chewed his gum, pondering his latest tactical idea. Walking along the school corridor, people leapt aside from the demon king. His black book peeked out from his back pocket letting everyone know he was still at large.
When he entered English class, he was pleased to see Miss Anezaki Mamori neatly seated in her usual spot in front and to the right of his own seat. She was rereading her homework, mouthing, what Hiruma assumed, were pronounciations of the new words.
He slammed his bag down noisily, making her jump. At her fierce glare, Hiruma grinned and blew a bubble, making it pop loudly. He could hear her growl of annoyance but she reined it in. She wasn't talking ot him these days. Not even to yell or reprimand. Hiruma was bored by this. He wanted excitement, arguments and trauma in his midst. Not avoidance measures and evasive manouvres.
Taking his usual lean-against-the-window position, he hunkered down for another class. This time, however, he wouldn't be taking part. Oh no, this particulor English class was now his battleground where he chose to annoy, enrage and harrass Anezaki.
"Good morning class," Mikami-sensei said as he entered.
"Morning Sensei," everyone chimed. Pop! went Hiruma's gum. Mikami sensei was about to reprimand the student who had made the sound, then rethought his actions, spotting the deadly Youichi Hiruma propped up at the window seat.
"Ahem..." he said instead, "Pull out your readers please and we'll start with reading practice. Takumori, if you could begin. Page seventy-three."
A loud clacking noise made Mikami-sensei look up, sweat breaking out on his brow. Hiruma sat there, AK47 leaning against his chest. "Ah..." Mikami-sensei stuttered. "Maybe not you Takumori. How about we start with ... ah," Hiruma nodded to the side. "Fukushima? No. Kiyomi? No? Anezaki! Yes, yes, Anezaki-san, if you could stand and read please."
Mamori looked ridiculously annoyed. Her face was pinched but she refrained from even looking at the damn football captain. Standing, she cleared her throat. As she opened her mouth to speak, eyes roaming the book in her hand, a clack interrupted her.
Her eye twitched but she continued. "Before men were considered independent, it became known to all around that the new-" clack, "natives had culminated in an-" clack, "area filled with dangerous tribesman, animals-" clack, "and unknown forms of agriculture." clack BOOM!
Mamori gritted her teeth and tried to go on, even though plaster was now floating down from the gaping hole in the ceiling. Her voice got louder, stronger as Hiruma's guns only got larger. Before long, her shoulders were covered in a fine dust and the rest of the class was hiding under their desks. And still Hiruma sat, jaw chewing, watching her read. Nothing was going to stop her, it seemed.
"Hiruma-san!" Mikami-sensei cried from behind his chair, "Please! Stop-"
The class shrieked and ducked back under their seats. Mamori paused and lifted her head. "Mikami-sensei," she asked.
"Y-yes?" he squealed back, hands over his head.
"Can I go to the office, please? I think I was supposed to pick up a message earlier and I forgot."
Mikami-sensei looked up and nodded, seeing a way out. "Yes, yes of course Anezaki-san! Feel free to go. And maybe the rest of us can, er, take a break. Outside. At the back of the field."
The rest of the class leapt to their feet as Mamori packed her bag and strode out.
Hiruma watched them filter out, his face showing his apathy.
"Fuck," he growled, unimpressed with Mamori's reaction. This was boring.
By the end of the school day, the senior class was jittery and on the edge of their seats. Their entire day had involved Hiruma baiting Mamori with weapons, explosions and the tipping over of many unfortunate desks. They shakily walked out onto the playing grounds, thankful their day of terror was almost over. All they had to do was survive the inter-class tournament and they'd be fine.
Everyone split up to change in the locker rooms. Mamori met Suzuna in the girls' one and they happily got dressed into their shorts and t-shirts.
In the boys' locker room, however, it was a different matter. Hiruma gave his speech and made it quite clear that if his team wasn't going to win, much blood would be shed upon the bountiful green grass. The boys around shook with fear and nodded frantically, praying to the heavens to pardon them.
The school congregated on the playing field. Teachers split them all up into smaller teams which were spread out around the school. Surprisingly, the entire Deimon Devilbats team was placed together in the, how convenient, football area. Compared to the three-legged races, spoon races, beanbag tosses and the dodgeball areas, this seemed a bit out of place. Mamori, however, had an idea who had given the teachers this brilliant plan. Her arms were folded and she could see Hiruma cackling away beside Sena. He too was wearing the school sports uniform of red shorts and white t-shirt. Only he was wearing long socks and, she assumed, shinguards beneath them. He also donned his cleats which the rest of them seemed to have acquired as well, even though no one was supposed to know about the chosen sports for the day.
The only downside to this was that they had been split into two separate football teams. Mamori and Suzuna were included and being the only girls present, had a lot more people asking them to join their team.
"Mamori-san!" Monta chirped, "join my team!"
"Yes, join us, Mamori-san," Taki cried enthusiastically. Mamori saw Monta was on Sena's team and smiled. Sure, why not? She could keep an eye on Sena then.
"Ah..." the teacher supervising them said quietly, "Anezaki-san is on Hiruma-san's team, I'm afraid."
Mamori stopped, eyes wide. "What?" she uttered. Oh no, this isn't happening, she thought. She'd been doing so well! Avoiding his taunts, his jabs! It wasn't easy you know, but she did it! Now it was all going to fall apart. She spied Hiruma leaning to the side, seemingly unaware of her issue.
Before she could correct the teacher though, the thought suddenly arose. I'm playing football. In a team. Full of giant apes. Looking around, Mamori recognized Jyuumonji, Togano and Musashi on her team. Along with Hiruma and Kurita. They were all much bigger than her, though maybe that was a good thing?
The teacher called them to him and set up the rules of play. Because they lacked so many positions, they just took on their usual roles, hoping for the best. Hiruma was quarterback, Kurita, Jyuumonji and Togano linemen, Musashi remained kicker (oh how this annoyed the other team) and Mamori was given the position of running back, Sena's usual spot. This didn't bode well at all. Mamori realized that she would easily become a target and against Sena in the other team, she would suffer greatly in speed. The rest of the team looked at her, then at each other.
"She can't play," Jyuumonji uttered, eyeing the light girl. "She'll get crushed."
Mamori looked affronted. "Hey, I can-"
"Maybe you're right," Kurita said, worry crossing his face, "Hiruma, what if she-"
"She's playing whether she wants to or not," Hiruma said loudly. Mamori was confused. She didn't like how the boys just assumed she was too weak for all of this but honestly, she hadn't expected Hiruma to think like her. Though he probably hadn't. He just wanted to see her get pummelled.
"Of course I'm playing," she said clearly, her shoulders back, "Who else is going to win this?"
Jyuumonji raised a brow while Kurita gave a nervous laugh. Hiruma just grinned evilly.
"All right. Game on, then."
Mamori panted, her hand swiping at the mud on her face. She'd just managed to finish the game mostly unscathed. Though being crushed into the ground by Taki hadn't been too much fun. And Suzuna taking on the new role of tackler, managing to do what the other boys could not: bring Mamori down and not feel bad about it.
She'd managed to pass the ball enough times, as she had hoped. She breathed deeply, rubbing at her knees which were brown and red. Not having cleats sucked. She kept slipping on the soft grass, dropping the ball every time. Funnily enough, her team had done its best to protect her, as Suzuna's team had done the same. Every tackle, every fumble and every play had the boys dashing about them, trying to ensure their safety. So much so that Hiruma had bellowed orders on them never being allowed to walk again if they kept playing like idiots.
Mamori had shown her mettle. She was a fast runner. Maybe not as fast as Sena but pretty good. She could keep up, though at the end, she'd found herself falling over, lungs burnt beyond capacity. She stood up and flapped her t-shirt, making a slight breeze.
"Nice job," Jyuumonji said as he passed, his own face red from the exertion. Mamori gave him a smile. Winning had to be the outcome. Hiruma would have it no other way, or their hides would be tanned black and blue. Mamori breathed out, wiping hair out of her face. The crowd that had gathered cheered on. They had had a full audience watching. Girls screamed and waved their hands while boys crowed for the winning team. Mamori was surprised at the show of school spirit. Her classmates could be seen, the happiest of all. Hiruma wasn't going to burn them alive then.
Sena came up to Mamori, grinning from ear to ear.
"That was fun!" he cried happily. He and Monta were sure their own efforts would be beneficial but as usual, Hiruma stood out as the real tactician and drove his team to victory, cackling all the way.
Mamori laughed, "Yeah, it was, wasn't it?" Her face shone with amusement, aware that she must've looked a wreck on the field with the more experienced footballers.
The most surprising part of the game had been her interaction with Hiruma. Oddly enough, her messaging skills came to the fore and he somehow managed to make sense of her signals, quick as they were. Her own tactics had flown into gear and she'd surprised him with ideas on overcoming the other team's defences. As a result, Hiruma had always kept an eye on her movements, aware that her brain worked wonders when under pressure. He could easily fork out some new maneuvres from her before the day was out. Sometimes he felt pushed for more ideas that would work.
As the team walked back to the locker rooms, the crowd surged forward. Hands descended and Mamori was patted on the back and had words of jubilation and admiration shouted at her.
"Awesome work, Mamori-san!"
"You did it! You really did!"
Voices cried as she felt herself being pushed and shoved a little too much. As the crowd engulfed them, she was shunted to the side, pushed against the school wall.
"Ouch," she cried, her arms scraping against the harsh bricks.
"Oi, oi!" Hiruma was saying as he too was forced along. He couldn't even pull out a revolver in this mess. Before he knew it, he felt the pressure of the crowd and he stumbled aside, his body being pressed towards the building.
Mamori didn't have time to think as Hiruma crashed into her, his chest pushing against her chin, his knee kicking her own. "Ow, move!" she wailed, pushing at him.
"Damnit!" Hiruma growled, "I would if I could ... just reach ... my ...fucking-"
"No," Mamori said, feeling more bodies press them together. "No guns!"
"Shut up," Hiruma said back.
Mamori flamed, "What? No YOU shut up! Ow!" she cried, her head hitting the wall as Hiruma was shoved into her. He managed to get leverage with his elbows but she still felt the crowd movements through him.
This was getting VERY awkward.
"Shit," came Hiruma's voice. He must have realized too.
As the crowd still cheered and moved, they were forced to remain where they were, Hiruma's hands pressed to the wall, Mamori between them.
He growled, smelling her muddied hair. It was still fresh. Mamori couldn't see over his shoulder but still felt her face burn red. This was terribly unintentional and inconvenient.
"Keep still," Hiruma said harshly, hating how trapped he felt. Her hands still rested against his chest, making him lose his concentration. From the outside it may have looked like he was protecting her. Looking down then, he realized just how close she really was. Her eyes met his and both looked away, one annoyed, the other embarrassed.
"Ugh!" Hiruma yelled then, pushing back at the crowd. A few people fell, crying out. "Fucking move!" he yelled, finally feeling the students move away. A few people gasped, realizing who was cornered. Many more fled, screaming.
At last he could move, and he did. Walking briskly away, Hiruma combed his hands through his wild hair, leaving Mamori flustered and red-faced against the wall.
to be continued...