Title: Model Athletes
Universe: Eyeshield 21
Rating: PG-13 for swearing?
Character/Pairing/s: Jyuumonji, Kuroki, Togano
Warnings/Spoilers: None I can imagine.
Word Count: 2,458
Summary: Being team players has ruined Jyuumonji and co.'s bad boy images; they're determined to get them back.
Dedication: juin- happy belated birthday! SORRY IT'S GEN. IF YOU HATE IT I'll TRY AGAIN.
A/N: Wow it has been a while for ES writing. Probably because I haven't watched it in a long time. I SHOULD GO AND CATCH UP ON EPISODES. But even still, I hope this kind of makes sense? Or at least, is vaguely IC? I dunno, juin… I OBVIOUSLY FAIL AT GIFTS. Anyway, I'll try to do better on whatever you might request for Christmas, yes? And clearly my view of football players are kind of influenced by my brothers and the fact that this is TX; down here football players are kind of seen as boyscouts for some reason, don't ask me why, I wouldn't be able to explain it either.
Disclaimer: Not mine, unfortunately.
Distribution: Just lemme know.
Jyuumonji, Kuroki, and Togano all look down at the several homemade bentos each of them was given earlier; most of them are wrapped in cute patterned handkerchiefs and all are heavy on the proteins. One of Togano's even has tarako and rice arranged into a fairly detailed representation of the playing field; it's marked off with little nori yard lines and even has little nori football players in blitz formation on it for extra zest. All of the lunches they've received today have come with little football-shaped gift cards attached to them that read, "Eat and play hard today! From, your fans at Deimon."
Fans meaning girls, but apparently there is some sort of secret fangirl pact amongst the female population at Deimon in which they've all agreed to fangirl in a weird sort of quiet so as not to distract the players from the game. Jyuumonji suspects their fear of Hiruma is what is keeping them at bay; to a demon like him, girlfriends and fanclubs and stalkers just hinder practice time and players' concentrations in the long run (and knowing him, he probably wouldn't think twice about putting a bullet in anyone's head for doing so, cute girl or not).
So out of respect (or fear), the girls at Deimon admire the football players as a crowd and no one tries to stick out to any of the team as adoring individuals; everyone just gets really cute homemade bentos and little good luck gifts hidden in their shoe lockers and desk drawers on game days from a ubiquitous mass who call themselves "the fans."
Guys like Monta and Kurita love it; when he's remembered, even Ishimaru gets a cheer or two and can't complain.
But as far as Jyuumonji and company are concerned, the whole thing is very detrimental to their carefully cultivated reputations as high school delinquents.
"A teacher smiled at me yesterday," Kuroki grunts, and looks disgusted as he pokes at his first bento; it has a smiley face drawn in mayonnaise on it.
"My grades are average," Togano adds sadly.
Jyuumonji mutters in complete understanding, "Yesterday some kid asked me to help her get her kitten out of a tree."
Jyuumonji glares. "She said her brother goes to our school and takes her to all the games, okay?! Gimme a break."
A pointed look.
Then, a sigh. "Yeah, I got the stupid cat out of the stupid tree."
Kuroki and Togano make appropriately manly noises of sympathy when they hear this.
But the whole thing just makes Jyuumonji even more miserable, and as he hunches his shoulders, he looks down at one of his three bentos for the day with a frown. This one has bunny-shaped carrots and tako wieners and a steak cut in the shape of a heart over the rice; it's all disgustingly adorable and delicious.
He sighs and eats one of the bunnies.
"No one's afraid of us anymore, huh?" he mutters dejectedly, and sips out of a Hello Kitty thermos filled with warm tea.
Kuroki and Togano eat their lunches too, as sullenly as they can. "Nope."
For a delinquent, there are important social standards and hierarchies that have to be established by one's behavior early in one's career, and as such, Jyuumonji, Kuroki, and Togano worked very hard all throughout middle school to become the scariest kids on the block. Because of this they used to be entitled to the prime spot outside of the local convenience store to squat in a circle in whenever they were skipping class, as well as first dibs on any of the new game machines that arrived at the local arcade.
But apparently football has cleaned their images up as of late; the ojiisan at the convenience store doesn't shoo them away with his broom whenever he's outside sweeping the front steps like he used to do, instead he comes out with ice bars and smiles whenever the three of them have the free time to park themselves out there now (which is getting to be less and less as the fall tournament goes on, to be honest). The ice bars the old man brings with him are always on the house and he stands around with them during his break, asking them how practice is going and if their defense is improving at all.
Jyuumonji had tried giving the nosy bastard his best foreboding thug-eye at first, but it hadn't worked; he suspects it's because he'd been wearing his jersey at the time and had looked downright smart in it.
In other sad news, at the local arcade, the delinquents from some of the neighboring schools have taken to getting on the new machines first, and Jyuumonji would go over and bash their heads in for not showing the proper deference, except that by the time he gets to the arcade after practice is over he's too tired to care that much anyway. On top of that, Kuroki and Togano usually don't even want to stop at the arcade so much as stumble towards the nearest park bench and pass out for a while.
No one even clears the sidewalk for them when they're walking down it three-abroad anymore; rather, whenever they do it now, it seems like it's some sort of siren call for the local baasans to come up to them after they've finished their grocery shopping for the day. The little old ladies always smile up at the three linemen adoringly and say something like, "Can any one of you big strong boys help me carry my grocery bags home? I'll give you a cookie!"
It's like all their hard work from middle school has been undone in the span of one, stupid season. Reputations have been cleaned up. Territory has been lost. There is a clear lack of fear and respect going on here, and an abundance of ice cream and cookies.
More to the point, Jyuumonji is sick of getting kittens out of trees.
And the more and more frequently it happens, the more the three of them don't like it.
They're supposed to be rebels, dammit.
"We're rebels," Jyuumonji declares boldly some weeks later, when they are skipping out on afternoon practice for the first time ever and spending some much needed leisure time at the arcade. Jyuumonji is on the new Tekken machine and can't believe how shitty his once killer combos have become; a few months of no practice and this is what happens to you?
"Rebels who aren't afraid of Hiruma," Kuroki adds like an afterthought. He pushes furiously at his controller while glancing over his shoulder every few seconds for no apparent reason.
Togano grunts in agreement with the two of them from behind the latest issue of Weekly JUMP. "I am not carrying anyone's groceries home today."
"We aren't afraid of Hiruma," Kuroki says again, just to make sure. On his next glance over his shoulder, Jyuumonji nails him with a killer… two hit combo.
They all sigh.
They leave the arcade ten minutes later because they've gotten bored; on their way out the old man who runs the place smiles at them cheerfully and says, "Go Deimon!" with his fist in the air.
The linemen walk faster.
They end up squatting out in front of the convenience store next because there really isn't anything else to do. The old man who runs this place sees them and waves a Devilbats pendant at them before flashing a thumbs up. Then he finally gets back to work and rings up some college students who are buying their nightly bentos.
Jyuumonji frowns when he sees this and squats with all his might; he feels slightly better when some passing grade-schoolers notice the especially dark look on his face and back away from the market's automatic doors.
That feeling is quickly squashed like a really pathetic bug when the little girl from the other day runs up to Jyuumonji; she's sobbing.
"Mister," she cries at him, "Fluffy is in trouble again!"
The three football players stare at her.
And Jyuumonji almost wills himself into not leaving this time (because he is sick of that retarded cat), but then she starts crying harder.
Sympathetic, Togano and Kuroki faithfully promise to hold his squatting spot for him while he goes.
The little girl doesn't wait for an answer; she grabs his hand and pulls him off.
When Jyuumonji returns some forty minutes later, he is thoroughly pissed off.
"Football is ruining us," he tells the other two, and rubs sorely at the scratches all over his arms and hands from Fluffy being a bitch.
Togano and Kuroki nod.
"It's making us weak," Jyuumonji continues, just as the old man inside comes out with ice cream for the three of them.
Jyuumonji is about to say something else, but gets cut off by a melon bar being waved in his face.
"I brought your favorites, boys!" the friendly ojiisan says, and starts handing out popsicles.
A few minutes later, Jyuumonji continues nobly on, around the melon bar in his mouth. "Football is making it so no one thinks we're tough!"
"Mmm," Togano and Kuroki agree, around their melon bars.
Jyuumonji finishes his first and throws his trash away in the trash can before turning the collar of his uniform jacket up and slouching. "Well I can't take it anymore!"
"Mmm," Togano and Kuroki agree again, and stand to throw away their trash too.
"We're skipping practice again tomorrow," Jyuumonji tells them, and Kuroki automatically looks over his shoulder even though he's definitely not afraid of Hiruma. "Maybe forever."
They walk home with that on their minds; their collars are all turned up and their shoulders are hunched. They've decided that it's time to take back the streets.
The next day, during their second straight day of independence from stupid-sports-that-make-them-mysteriously-look-like-honor-scouts, they get challenged at the arcade while they're on the new Tekken machine.
"Who the hell are you?" some guys with regent hairstyles demand around the toothpicks in their mouths. Their stupid swishy jackets have several complicated kanji embroidered down the backs, except two of them are written wrong. Jyuumonji kind of hates that he knows where they messed up on them, too.
"We're Deimon," Kuroki responds simply, and looks over his shoulder one more time out of habit when he says that. "Who the hell are you?"
"Well clearly you must be new then, 'cause you don't know that this is now Shirokin turf and that we are the Shirokin Harleys," the one who Jyuumonji assumes is the leader tells Kuroki arrogantly. "Now move, punks; we always got first dibs on the new machines."
"Like hell," Jyuumonji says, by rote. "We're Deimon."
Back in the day that name would have meant something amongst delinquents everywhere on account of all the hard work he and Kuroki and Togano had put into making sure Deimon was a name with credibility on the streets, but clearly football has wiped that clean in a matter of months too.
"Oi, I said move it, brat!" the Shirokin leader insists, "We got first dibs!"
"But I got next," Togano says from behind his manga, calmly. "See?" He points to the 100 yen coin waiting patiently on the console near Kuroki's hand.
"Oh my god," the Shirokin guy screeches, and grabs Jyuumonji by his uniform jacket and whirls him around, gets the blonde right in his face and sneers at him. "You three, outside. Now."
On their way out back, Jyuumonji, Kuroki, and Togano all share an anticipatory look; nowthis is more like it.
"This is not more like it at all," Togano feels the need to point out approximately three minutes later, when the six Shirokin gang members are lolling around in the dirt looking for their freshly missing teeth.
Jyuumonji and Kuroki nod in disappointment. "Yeah."
"Didn't our brawls used to last longer?"
"Didn't there used to be a lot more action?"
"What happened to the competition?"
"I didn't even get punched once."
Jyuumonji nudges one of the bikers with his toe. "Hey," he says suddenly, and sounds a little bit wistful. "Remember that first hit old Chameleon face landed on us in the game against Zokugaku?"
Kuroki and Togano sigh. "Yeah."
"And those goddamned Android linemen?"
"And how great it was destroying those stupid pretty boys at Koigahama?"
"And how scary huge the Americans are?"
The three of them look skyward, like old men remembering their high school glory days. "Kicking their asses was great," they sigh.
Then they frown and look back down at the six idiots currently cowering at their feet. It is a dull, dull comparison. "This," they all agree, "was not so fun."
It's an odd feeling of disappointment that they look at their old lives with now.
Even though they don't quite know why they do it, they end up dumping all six of their pathetic excuses for opponents into a shopping cart and wheeling them to the nearest hospital. The nurses and doctors there are all really nice to the three of them as they get the paperwork processed, and as the linemen make their way out the doors, they get wished good luck for next week's game.
Jyuumonji, Kuroki, and Togano walk home thinking that maybe football hasn't really made them weak after all.
When they grudgingly show up at practice the next day, everyone looks relieved.
Well, everyone except for Hiruma, who looks terrifying.
That afternoon, the three of them are made to run twenty miles carrying Sena, Monta, and Ishimaru on their backs to repent for missing two practices in a row.
On the way home after practice, while they're all tired and sore and kind of annoyed with Hiruma's fascism, Jyuumonji reluctantly gets involved with another kitten rescue while Kuroki and Togano are, once again, asked to help a couple of old ladies carry their groceries home.
And they almost hate everything about football all over again when that happens, except that this time, as they're making their way down the sidewalk three-abroad after everything is said and done, a bunch of losers wearing long biker coats with misspelled kanji down the backs immediately dive out of the way to let them through. One of them hits his head on a fire hydrant scrambling off the pavement.
It's kind of great.
The three of them suppose that in light of that, losing their whole delinquent reputation isn't such a big deal after all, so long as they get little reminders like that every now and again, of how absolutely badass they have become.
And yeah, maybe the free ice cream and cookies aren't all that bad either.