Rumor Mill by ficklepickles
Recently there had been whispers. They had been started by the brave and foolhardy, and they were born as the lightest breaths of air. As time passed and divine retribution from the heavens had yet to befall the heads of those reckless pioneers, the whispers grew.
Gentle hushes and soft murmurs they became, the frailest and weakest of thoughts that had not grown into rumors. Quietly, slowly, steadily, they spread.
From one person to the next, it fell as a feather-light impression onto their minds.
Sena heard snatches of the latest gossip in passing, but paid it no mind.
In high school, spreading rumors was as natural as breathing, but not even a fraction as important. He had other things to think about. So as he sped through the halls, he mostly disregarded the buzz about the school's current couple infatuation.
"Really? Him and the team manager?"
"It is suspicious how they spend all that time together."
"Did you hear, she brings packed lunches for him?
"She's a brave one, to go after a demon like that."
"Well, that also proves that he's got some kind of heart to be able to fall in love."
The subdued snickers should have been a form of forewarning, but as Sena had been deprived of a social life for most of his life, he did not understand the implications of girl giggling.
He ignored the clustering of his peers, searching hurriedly for that one path that he could take to cut through them.
Fear ate at him as he felt his heart hammering in his chest. He felt every second that ticked by was some kind of knife wound.
He was late.
Hiruma did not tolerate tardiness to practice, especially right before a big game.
Sena skidded into the clubroom with split seconds remaining, his apologies spilling from his mouth before he had even passed through the door.
"Sorry I'm late but the teacher had me deliver some supplies to the stockroom and it was really heavy and I had to make more than one trip and that's why I'm late but I made it in time! Don't be mad!"
The mad babbling that poured from his mouth ceased abruptly at the lack of gunfire in his general direction. Instead he was met with two wide-eyed stares--Toganou wondering what had distracted him from the manga in his hands, and Kuroki who looked as if he was jamming firecrackers into someone's socks.
Ah, the younger two of the Huh-Huh brothers. It sounded a bit off with the middle syllable missing...
Embarrassed, Sena looked at his feet and rubbed at the back of his head with one hand. "S-Sorry. I was running a little late and was worried...about..." He trailed off looking to the side.
He suddenly found himself on the receiving end of a noogie, courtesy of Kuroki, who laughed loudly and brashly. "Don't worry about it, shorty! We're the only ones here!" The taller boy declared it as if he were the one responsible for it, and was quite proud of it.
"Eh? Where is everyone?"
Toganou resettled himself on the bench. "Juumonji got trash duty, so he's at the incinerator." The blonde replied, thumbing through his manga.
"And the yellow devil and his compatriot are at a disciplinary meeting!" Kuroki added, grinning far too widely.
"Compatriot?" Sena echoed, confused.
Toganou puckered and said, "Mamori-nee-san," in a fair imitation of the runningback's squeaky voice.
"Ehh?!" Sena reeled back a moment. He looked ready to split, his imagination already flashing images of the school burning down before his eyes.
The linemen snagged him before he could dash away. He was towed back to the benches with one of the taller boys on each side, their arms looped around his.
"What's your hurry, short stuff?"
"Uncomfortable with the thought of your big sis with another guy?" The blonde had raised an eyebrow over his shades.
"I knew it!" Kuroki crowed triumphantly. "You owe me a burger!" He said, turning to Toganou.
"What?" Sena swung his head from side to side, staring up at the two others in genuine confusion.
Toganou jerked a thumb in Kuroki's direction. "This fool thinks you have a thing for the team manager." He snorted.
"What! It's true! Isn't it?" The brown haired teen turned Sena for confirmation.
Vigorously, Sena shook his head in the negative. "No! Not like that..." He denied. Once upon a time, he may have harbored a very small crush for her, but that was all but gone now in a wave of sibling affection.
"WHAT!" Kuroki gaped, wide eyed at the blushing boy. He caught the short runningback in a loose chokehold and proceeded to give him a noogie. "That ain't right! I've seen the way you check her out! Big sis is totally your type!"
Sena's cheeks flushed hotly. "It's not like that." He said tremulously.
"That's right." Toganou piped. "It's cuz his type's Suzuna." The blonde hid a light blush of his own behind his comic.
"OH, come on. It's right there in your comics!" Kuroki argued and began counting off points on his fingers. "Childhood friend. Childhood protector. Boy grows up, hero-like. Girl likes boy. Boy likes girl!"
Sena blushed an even deeper red at the mention of "hero-like."
Toganou snorted. "Weren't you spouting something about a different guy just a few minutes ago."
"That's called a love triangle!" Kuroki defended.
Caught in between confusion and a possible fantasy world, as comics and video games weren't all too different story-wise, Sena could only stare at the two arguing linemen in bewilderment. "What are you talking about?" He asked tentatively, curiosity finally taking over.
The number fifty-two and fifty-three jersey wearers stared back at him.
"What, you haven't heard?"
"About the Manager and the Monster?"
Kuroki's teasing jibe and Toganou's glinting shades made Sena take a step back. He recognized the leering and expectant expressions as scarily similar to Hiruma's when the quarterback was about to unleash something that caused him particular glee.
Kuroki knocked a slightly deflated football to the side to make room on the bench. Then he dragged Sena down onto the newly cleared seat, firmly snaking an arm around the smaller boy.
That was how Juumonji found them several minutes later. Kuroki had an arm wrapped around Sena's shoulders and was whispering conspiratorially into his ears. Beside them, Toganou crouched, grinning.
The tall blonde raised an eyebrow at the sight they made.
"What are you guys doing?" He asked when they failed to notice his presence after the first few seconds.
"Informing the boy of the latest intel!" Kuroki proclaimed loudly.
"About Hiruma and Mamori." Toganou added.
Juumonji snorted. "You mean gossiping." He slammed the door shut behind him and plucked Sena away from their evil clutches. "Never pegged you guys for being the middle-aged woman types, spreading all the latest rumors."
The other two linemen sputtered indignantly. "Hey, we're just kindly informing the uninformed about the information!" Kuroki over-elaborated.
The tall blonde eyed the little runningback for a moment. "I wouldn't call it information until you know it's true."
"It's gotta be!" The loud brunette protested standing up.
"All the signs are there." Toganou agreed.
Together the two held up their fingers and began to rattle off their 'facts'.
"A lot of alone time."
"They fight a lot, but that's just repressed emotions."
"She's the only one who stands up to him and isn't shot to pieces."
"She's the only one who he puts up with besides Suzuna, but that's because she's an alien."
"And..." They chorused. "He treats her like an actual human being. That evil black book of his has never been used on her."
Juumonji waved them off. "I think you guys are missing the point." He continued at their curious expressions. "Both of you morons are working under the assumption that Hiruma Yoichi, the closest person on earth to being a real live demon, could have a crush."
This revelation stilled the two.
"Er...well, he is human, sorta." Kuroki said, scratching his head.
"Even demons can have crushes." Toganou said, defending his point of view.
The short-haired blonde just shook his head. "Probably, but even so, you really think that man would be so not-straight forward about his feelings? I'm telling you, he's the type of guy who takes the direct approach. Dancing around the subject isn't his style."
Vivid memories of being shot at by various and highly illegal weapons flashed before their eyes.
The number fifty-two and fifty-three linemen looked at each other.
"He is pretty heartless." Kuroki admitted.
"Put like that, it makes it like there isn't anything at all that guy could love." Toganou said quietly.
"There probably isn't." Juumonji finished.
Sena laughed unexpectedly. He couldn't help it. "Y-You guys got it all wrong," he managed to get out between chuckles. Wiping a tear from his eye, he smiled widely. "There is something Hiruma-san loves."
The three taller boys looked at him skeptically.
"Really," Sena said earnestly. He bent to pick up something that fallen beneath the bench. It was the flat football that Kuroki had tossed there earlier. He brushed a bit of dirt off it and looked at it reverently.
"More than anything else, Hiruma-san loves the game." The short brunette said with a small smile.
Sena blinked and saw the three linemen staring at him as if he had sprouted two more heads. Defensively, he clutched the ball to his chest. "What?"
The three stared at him for a few moments more before Juumonji brusquely broke the silence. "You seem to have put a lot of thought into it."
"I-It's not like I think about it every day or anything!" Sena stuttered.
"Just every other day." Kuroki said teasingly, reclaiming his previous position of putting the shorter boy in a headlock. Blushing, Sena's grip on the ball loosened.
Deftly, Juumonji snatched the ball away from him.
"Hey!" Yelped Sena from under Kuroki's arm. "Give it back!"
"Hn." The blonde grunted. "Can't even keep a proper grip on it." He tossed it to Toganou who caught it one-handed and tucked it firmly beneath his shoulder.
Sena wriggled from Kuroki's grasp and meant to wrestle the ball from the manga-reading lineman, but it was thrown over his head to the long-haired number fifty-two. Then it was tossed back to Juumonji who grinned as he held it just out of Sena's reach, making the shorter boy jump for it.
"You jerks!" The little runningback squeaked, but he was smiling just the same.
Somewhere outside, Hiruma cackled from his perch in a tree. Those boys were like elementary school kids, especially the eldest Huh-Huh brother. Teasing the one he liked was not the surefire way to proclaim his crush, but it made things much more fucking interesting.
He scribbled something into his notebook, adding and subtracting a few decimals from the ratios he had already written down. Including other schools, Juumonji's chances of being the first to ask the fucking chibi out was at a measly five point one percent.
Calculating distance, personality, dedication to the game, and preferences, amongst many additional factors, two others took the high spots, percentagewise. One was at a full fourteen percent, the other at a round twelve percent. The numbers fell drastically from there with Juumonji holding third.
There was even the unfortunately high slim chance of the fucking dreads with his two percent.
Hiruma frowned at that.
"Why aren't you stopping them?" A female voice called out from below his branch.
The blonde deigned to not look at her as he jotted down a few more numbers. "Stop what, fucking manager?"
"Them." She said pointedly, as if her tone explained everything.
"Tch! Waste of time."
"Then why are you so worried about Sena-kun?"
"Cuz he's my fucking runningback."
Mamori clasped her hands behind her. "I'm not completely blind, you know. I've seen how you look at him."
"Yet you ignore the rumors about us?" He frowned at the last word, as if it left a bad taste in his mouth.
The girl shrugged. "What do they know? I'm more concerned about Sena-kun."
"As you've been nagging."
She waved a finger at him. "You keep updating those numbers. You'll wear a hole into your notebook."
The second year girl had turned her back to the trunk to lean against it. "So, what are the odds?" She asked with genuine curiosity.
"You're not in the fuckin' betting pool."
Mamori shrugged again. "Humor me."
Hiruma let loose a near inaudible sigh. "Shin's in the lead. Akaba second. Eldest brother third."
"What about yours."
Hiruma hopped down from his seat on the branch, and landed right in front of her. He raised an eyebrow before shoving his hands into his pockets and began to walk past her as if he hadn't heard her.
"Hiruma-san!" Mamori began, a note of scolding in her tone.
The blonde just raised a hand. "More than zero."
So utterly pointless and inconsistent, but Hiruma's line about the odds as long as it was higher than zero got stuck in my head for no reason. Pounded this thing out about two hours later. Would have liked to write more Kuroki/Sena into it.