Chapter 4

Sun, Sea, Sand & Surf

Kanagawa Prefecture


"My god. My God. MY GOD!"

"Shoot, Ken, the waves aren't that high. I can't believe you're such a chicken."

"I wasn't talking about surfing, Shin!"

"Oh, yeah? Last time we were here, you barfed your lunch when the wave bore down on you. I'm simply assuming you might do the same, logically speaking."

"You can take your assumptions and logic and shove it up your–"

"Kidding, Kenji. So what's got you exclaiming like you're about to ejaculate?"

Fujima Kenji's stare was bemused. "You know, sometimes I wonder at the perversities of your mind."

Maki Shinichi snorted. "Come off it. We're 18, what have we not heard of before? I don't see the need to censor my words."

Cough. "You, 18? More like 28, if you ask me…"

Splutter. "I wasn't asking. Maybe it's the tan; I don't really look that old."

"Whatever. Keep fooling yourself, old ma–"

"You were about to tell me something," Maki cut in sullenly.

"Oh, shit…okay. I got this message from Toru…"

"That Hanagata guy? He's finally confessed to crushing on you?"

Fujima kicked sand at Maki. "Don't be stupid. It's not like that."

"Err, right. So what did he say?"

"It's not what he said, actually. It was more like what he showed me," Fujima muttered, his face turning slightly green again.

"Which was…?"

Fujima's face was pleading. "Shin, you're my friend – at least off-court. We've known each other since we were 6–"

Maki broke into a grin. "You mean, when that bully tried to steal your basketball and I beat him up for you?"

Fujima glowered. "Anyway, trust me when I say you really don't wanna know."

Maki made a sound of impatience. "Kenji, believe me when I say I don't think what you saw is as bad as you say."

"It IS."




"Fine. Don't say I didn't warn you." Fujima handed his cellphone to Maki.

More silence.



Fujima shrugged. "I told you it was bad."

It was Maki's turn to go green this time. "Where in the hell did Hanagata get these?"

"Well, Toru said he was accosted by some of the louts who always hang around that Sakuragi guy. They offered him some ahem, interesting pictures of the Shohoku and Ryonan aces. Toru, being Toru, thought it was going to be – cough – strategy plays we could use against them."

"STRATEGY?! Do pictures of Rukawa and Sendoh kissing count as strategy?!"

Fujima smiled weakly. "It was a really intense kiss."

"Hell, yeah, it was intense all right! Sendoh looks like his tongue got stuck down Rukawa's throa–"

"Okay, enough with the imagery! I'm trying to say…" Fujima paused meaningfully, "…maybe we could use this."

"Uhh, how? Sell 'em to the cover of 'Gay Basketballers Monthly'? Hey–" Maki was thoughtful as he considered the option, "–good thinking, Kenji. That would definitely earn us some serious cash."

"No, NO! That wasn't what I was saying! I mean, we could use their feelings for each other against them."

Maki stared. "That would be absolutely mean and cruel."

Fujima's face fell. "It is, isn't it? Forget it, I don't know why I even–"

"But utterly brilliant! You are such a genius! Now I know why they appointed you as coach! See, beneath your girlish good looks, feminine tendencies and questionable orientation, there beats the heart of a master strategist!"

Fujima's eyes bulged. "What girlish looks? WHAT feminine tendencies? WHAT QUESTIONABLE ORIENTATION?!"

"Ken, calm down. There's nothing wrong with being a very pretty boy. Nor is there anything wrong about your obsession with plucking every single stray hair off your chin, moustache and armpits."

Fujima's mouth opened and closed but only a strangled sound emerged. "You – you…"

"Look, it's okay, huh? I'm your best friend – well, sort of. So long as you don't pat my butt like how you do the other guys, I'm totally cool," Maki said cheerily.

Snarl. "I'm not gay, Shinichi! I'm more of a man than you are, anytime, any day!"

"Yeah? Prove it," Maki chortled as he handed Fujima a surfboard.

Fujima snatched it away. "Just you watch."

"Remember to bend your knees!" Maki called after Fujima's angry strides.

Ten minutes passed.


"Shit, shit, shit! Kenji, come on, dammit! You idiot, you just had to be a show-off…" Maki broke off, panting.

"Ugh, I can't believe I'm doing this..." Maki muttered, pinching Fujima's nostrils shut. Then he pressed his lips to Fujima's and began to blow.

Fujima immediately sputtered. Maki flew at him.

"Don't you ever, ever do that to me again, do you hear? I thought I could've lost you, buddy!"

Blink. "Lost me?"

"Do that stupid stunt again, and I won't be around to save your life," Maki howled, clutching Fujima closer.

Blink. Blink. "Save my life?"

"Of course, you idiot, who do you think did CPR on you?"

Blink. Blink. Blink. "CPR?"

Maki blinked back. "Is there something wrong, Kenji? Oh god, the water did something funny to your brain. You're only repeating everything I say!"

A wide smirk began to spread over Fujima's face.

"Umm, Kenji…?"

A gurgle of laughter sounded. "Shin, you dumbass! I can't believe you call me out on slapping someone's butt – which, mind you, is perfectly normal in the course of a game – only to t-turn around and k-kiss me!"

Maki's eyes bulged. "It was CPR, you asshole! I had to do something! I couldn't just let you die, could I?"

Nod. "Oh, yes, you couldn't. Of course, it didn't occur to you to check that I was breathing fine, did it?"


"I was entirely awake and conscious the whole time. Just had the wind knocked out of me when the surfboard hit my stomach, that's all. Just trying to catch my breath and you were practically beating down the gates to kiss me."

Maki choked.

Fujima peered at Maki carefully. "Just in case you don't know, I really don't go for your type, Shinichi. I much prefer the female persuasion, but thanks anyway. Maybe Sendoh or Rukawa could accommodate you…"


"Look! A cellphone! Lying all alone on the ground!"

"Nobu, drop it. It's not yours; leave it alone."

"Aww, c'mon, senpai. Finders keepers!"

Kiyota Nobunaga happily began tapping on the keypad; then frowned. "Hey, what the hell is this?"

Jin Soichiro squinted. "Holy crap! That looks like Rukawa! And is that – Sendoh?!"

"And they're kissing." Both boys groaned in disgust.

"No way I wanna touch this now," Kiyota muttered, throwing down the cellphone.

Jin grinned. "Told you to leave it alone."

"Whatever. Hey, isn't that Captain over there? With – with–"

"Shoyo's captain. Wonder what they're doing here together."

"Fujima Kenji, right? Bet Captain's got a diabolical plan to squeeze information out of – GAAHHHHHH!!"

"Oh, lord. That can't be–"

"Captain's kissing the guy! OH, GROSS! Now he's hugging him and cuddling him and – and–"

"Hmm…Fujima seems to be enjoying himself. He's smiling, laughing…"

"Now Captain's chasing him around! What the hell is going on?!"

"Maybe they're frolicking in the sands. It's a beautiful day to be out on a date," Jin said thoughtfully.

Kiyota went green. "You know what this means?"

"What, Nobu?"

"All the aces in Kanagawa are officially gay."