"Loooooooooooooove of the Game"
Eyeshield 21 fanfiction by the butler
(Ha-Ha brothers and the Deimon team mentioned in passing. Vaguely taking place somewhere after the match with the Bando Spiders and before the Nationals. General, though if you want to you'd probably read some Jyuumonji-Sena thing.)
Disclaimer: the author does not claim ownership of the characters portrayed in this fanfiction nor the creative universe they belong to. The author does not profit from this in any way, except maybe as an outlet of her love of the show.
Jyuumonji Kazuki tries his best to not introspect. It doesn't do well for a juvenile thug to start philosophizing about life, since these instances just pop up anywhere and anytime and that one time he started contemplating about the pattern of his life resembling some vaguely philosophical object he got hit in the face with a belt buckle during a fight. And so Jyuumonji limits his cranial activities to only those times he is sitting somewhere safe from flying belt buckles. These days, those quite times sitting morosely somewhere out of the sun has increased, as compared to times dodging the edges of a broken bottle. Time spent running around and tackling people while dodging bullets shot by a crazy amefuto captain, though, has significantly rose as well, from the starting point of nil.
Jyuumonji absentmindedly scratches his scarred cheek and sighs. He looks to his left and sees Kuroki sleeping with mouth agape, annoying nasal voice now limited to an occasional snore. He looks to his right and sees Toganou busy reading the latest Jump! Manga edition. He looks straight ahead of him again, crossed his arms on his chest and sighed "Huh". It was only a matter of time before he hears the demonic shout of…
"YA-HA!!! Oi, damned Ha-Ha Brothers, practice starts now!!!"
Jyuumonji sighed for the third and last time that afternoon as he immediately stood up and ran to dodge the bullets, hooking his arms through Toganou's and Kuroki's to haul them out of their asses before they get hit. It was vaguely amusing to watch Kuroki awake with a start and try to run half-asleep, while Toganou flailed with his glasses lest it fall from its permanent perch and break (gods forbid anyone should see him without them). He almost forgot to bellow out the usual line of "We're NOT brothers!", so he turned his head back as much as he dared and bellowed it out to the laughing homicidal maniac chasing them down the school stairs. Kuroki yelped as he slipped and started rolling the rest of the way down, and Jyuumonji and Tougano couldn't help but laugh at the dark-skinned boy as he turned into a whirling mass of limbs and shouted curses with occasional "HAAAAAAAA???!!!"s thrown in for good measure. Every afternoon they arrived at the amefuto club room in this fashion, more or less.
Staring out at the football field bathed in the orange glow of the setting sun, Jyuumonji could not help but start thinking, try as he might not to. At least now his thoughts no longer ran along of the lines of "We don't care if you think we're trash, we'll go ahead and do what we want anyway, what do you know of our lives?", nor of the equally depressing though more empowering "We're NOT trash! We'll prove it!" Nowadays it was more of "I'm part of a team now" kind of stuff, stuff that wouldn't even have made a dent in his subconscious months ago when he was just contented to while away his days enjoying it the best a juvenile thug can with his, well let's face it, brothers in arms.
Somehow his brothers now included a big bouncy yet powerful junior student and his freshman disciple, a monkey catcher, a balding high school student, an overprotective manager, a stupid mid-air splitting buffoon and his cheerleading sister, some junior nobody ever notices despite being a club captain, two basketball pervs, a high schooler who looks even older than Jyuumonji and the very devil himself. Oh, and a former gopher that has now come to his own, with legs that run the speed of light. Plus a crazy-haired old man for a trainer and the devil's dog, now with accompanying pig. Jyuumonji smiled despite himself.
"Oh? Whaddaya think Kazu-chan's smiling about?"
Jyuumonji quickly replaced the smile with the more familiar scowl. Damn, it never bodes well for him whenever his two best friends see him without a scowl on his face. He surreptitiously glanced to his side and sure enough Toganou was there, helmet in hand and an ingratiating smile on his chiseled face. Jyuumonji cursed under his breath. It never bodes well for him either whenever Toganou and Kuroki start calling him 'Kazu-chan'. And sure enough, Kuroki wasn't far behind, suddenly appearing on Jyuumonji's other side and placing an elbow on his padded shoulder.
"I dunno Toga-kun, seems like a smile of loooooove."
It would have been marginally acceptable to Jyuumonji if only Kuroki didn't extend his well-defined lips and start wiggling it around while saying "looooove". Marginally. But since Kuroki did do it with the lips Jyuumonji felt himself snap and start being defensive, which never really helped his case whenever Toganou and Kuroki got it into their heads to gang up on Jyuumonji, who was never that good with those kinds of fights in the first place.
"Shut up! I wasn't smiling!"
"Oh? Were you perhaps grimacing in a happy way then?"
"I was not!"
"Na, Kazu-chan, it's not that bad! Maybe if you smiled more then more girls would give you home-made lunches to build up your well-toned muuuuuuscles!"
"Shut up! And stop dodging when I'm trying to punch your face!"
"Ha ha ha slow grumpy old man!"
"Ah-ha-ha! The brothers have boundless energy! I, genius Taki, will join them in running around for it is such an easy task for a genius such as me! I shall represent the offensive line in this display of manly strength! Ah-ha-ha!"
And somehow Taki started running around with them, Jyuumonji wasn't quite sure whether the idiot was chasing him or running away from him, either way he would occasionally lift a leg and start doing that y-balance thing that always made Jyuumonji feel queasy (he doesn't quite know how Taki does it without injuring something in the general area of his groin, and he doesn't really want to know). Of course if Taki was in it, Monta wasn't too far behind.
"That idiot thinks he can represent the offense on his own, huh, I'll show him! Running Around in a Circle MAX!"
"Ah! Everyone is so lively! It's so happy to see everyone getting along!"
And after crying an impressive stream of tears and clutching his hands, Kurita bounced in the running. Snorting, Komusubi joins his master in the fray. Jyuumonji felt the situation slipping from his grasp, and he made to slow down, but looking behind him and seeing Kurita's formidable form running towards him, he increased his pace until he no longer ran after Toganou and Kuroki, who both promptly 'Ha'-ed in confusion. Looking behind them and seeing the rest of the defensive line running towards them, the two made the unanimous decision of increasing their pace as well. A few moments later Jyuumonji heard rapid-fire gunshots and the devil shouting "What the hell are you waiting for, damned shrimp and damned baldy? You too, damned old man, damned track star and basketball reserves! Start running! YA-HA!!!" Jyuumonji would have shouted his opinion of the stupidity of it all if not for the possibility that Hiruma might take offense, and, well; they all knew what happen when the words Hiruma and Offense were in the same sentence. No longer running in a circle and somehow leading the pack, Jyuumonji ran towards the general direction of the other end of the field. It didn't take long for Sena to take the lead from him, though, and Jyuumonji felt another smile bubbling up. This used to be the kid they bullied, but now look at him, running this fast without breaking a sweat, stealing touchdowns and turning losses into comeback wins. The kid really did come into his own now, though at this moment Sena looked more like his former cowed self as he tried to get out of Hiruma's way.
"Um, why are we running again?"
How to say that the three of them started running because the two saw him smiling and he got defensive without sounding idiotic? Jyuumonji felt the blush coming from his neck working its way up, damn he hated blushing, and it's so uncool. And it's just his luck that the Kuroki-Toganou tag team noticed it.
"Oh, Kazu-chan, first smiling; now blushing?"
"Ah, Toga-kun that's called loooooooove!"
"Hmm, love, is it, Kuro-kun?"
"No, its loooooooove!"
It would have been marginally better if only Kuroki did the lip thing while saying 'looooooove'. Marginally. This time around Toganou got it into his weird head to do it as well, so that the two idiots looked like they were making 'kiss-y faces' towards Jyuumonji.
Hiding his embarrassment, not only because he was being made the butt of the joke but also because his two best friends were being really weird and embarrassing, and right in front of the runt no less, Jyuumonji instead goads his anger and bellows out a 'damn you!' or some other safe curse word (Sena was right there after all, and it never felt right cursing in front of that kid because he had naiveté practically beaming off his face, despite Hiruma's lack of compunction on the same subject) before speeding up to hurry after the two snickering fools. Which is a good thing, because Jyuumonji didn't get to see Sena smile as if he got the inside joke, and if Jyuumonji saw that, well, Toganou and Kuroki may as well say goodbye to the friendship card they always use whenever Jyuumonji's about to beat the crap out of them.
And it's also a good thing that Jyuumonji was way in front of the line, so that he didn't get to see the gleam in Hiruma's eyes as he laughed his signature "Ke ke ke" cackle, as if he too got the inside joke. Knowing Hiruma, he probably did.