Disclaimer: I don't own Saki, it's characters, etc, etc. The only thing I do own is the plot and a few original characters.
Please don't expect too much.
Also, I only recently started playing Riichi Mahjong, so if anyone wants to play on Tenhou with me and a few friends, just drop me a PM.
Special thanks to Lestaki and Yingke for listening to me ramble about this and reading my walls of text.
It was a hot summer day, and the dismayed groaning of Yuuki Kataoka resounded throughout the club room, where the rest of the members had gathered for their usual activities. Saki had just won another game with Rinshan Kaihou, and Nodoka had come a close second. Yuuki trailed behind them significantly in third, and Kyoutaro finished in dead last (although he had the grace to accept his defeat in resigned silence). Mako was enjoying the summer warmth and reading outside on the balcony.
Hisa, as usual, was taking a nap on the infirmary bed (whose presence in the club room had never been explained). Yesterday had been another long night for her, checking over the records that Yumi had given her during the combined training camp. It was difficult to stop once she started to look over them. They were extremely detailed, with further analysis of each player taking up the back section of the small book. She couldn't help but be a little overwhelmed at how much effort Yumi put into this, even though she was in her last year and very likely busy studying for her entrance exams.
The mobile phone next to the pillow suddenly started to vibrate, stirring Hisa from her sleep. It inched towards her slowly, with the vibrations helping it along. She cracked a sleepy eye open and focused it on the mobile's outer LCD.
As the name finally registered in her sleep-addled brain, Hisa jolted to her feet and flipped open the phone. His warm, gravelly voice greeted her as she pressed the cold plastic to her ears.
"Hey there, sleepyhead."
"I wouldn't be if you had called me earlier, or later," she retorted calmly. The club president made her across the room towards the balcony. A quick glance at the mahjong table showed that Kyoutaro had a good hand, but she knew it could become a bigger hand with the right discards and calls. She shrugged and resolved to tell him later.
"How did the tournament go? I heard Kazekoshi was defeated again this year. Poor girls."
Hisa smirked a little at hearing that. It was so typical of him to sympathize with the wrong side.
"Their captain managed to finish first in the individuals, so don't feel too bad for them." She paused, then continued dryly, "…and if you knew they lost, you should also know we won. The freshmen this year are really something."
Mako caught her eye as they met on the balcony. They both grinned at Hisa's last statement and Mako shrugged and looked upwards, as if to say, Well, there's nothing we can do about that. They waved once to eachother as the bespectacled girl went inside to give the older girl some privacy.
Hitoshi's rumbling laugh came through the earpiece like a minor earthquake. "Good point. It's a shame you didn't make it to the nationals for the individuals, as well. I wanted to boast to everyone that my fiancé was a national pro mahjong player."
She sighed a little. "You're getting ahead of yourself there, in more ways than one. The individuals was fun, and that's all I was expecting from it."
"Sorry, sorry," he quickly apologized, then changed the topic. "Have you given more thought about it?"
Hisa rested her elbows against the balcony's railing and looked out over the school grounds. She contemplated feigning ignorance to annoy him for earlier, but decided against it. He was being serious, and she wanted to respect that by responding in kind.
Their upcoming marriage had been in the back of her mind for most of her high school years, as he had proposed to her sometime in her first year. This proposal also had strings attached. Hitoshi Abe was heir to the Abe family, which governed the Abe-gumi, a local yakuza group that was quickly rising in influence and power. Her family was saved from the poverty that had prevented her from attending Kazekoshi, and absorbed as one of the Abe's branch families, but she was required to marry him eventually. They had made good on their part of the deal already, so it was up to her to decide on the wedding date.
She thought the whole situation was ludicrous when he first sat down and explained it all. It was true that her uncle had taught Hitoshi how to play mahjong during his teenage years, and so they had known eachother growing up, but to suddenly save her family without warning and express that sort of interest in her… She had never even considered marriage until he brought it forward.
So, it was only natural for her to keep avoiding the decision of setting a date. She felt a little guilty about it, as he had never been anything but friendly and considerate during the entire time she knew him, but she wanted to put it off for as long as possible without disappointing anyone. As far as she knew, Hitoshi's father was more concerned about expanding their territory than what woman Hitoshi chose to marry, and her own family had left it up to her to decide what to do. A hell wait, indeed.
"I'm still not sure. I'm sorry," she answered uncomfortably, as usual whenever this was brought up.
A pause on the other end preceded a quiet, "I see."
They were both quiet for a time before Hitoshi spoke up again, his voice brightening up considerably.
"Have you thought about which university to apply for, at least? If you need any help with studying, I know of a few exceptional tutors. Normally I'd offer to get you a recommendation for whatever university you decided on, but I know you'd probably hit me if I tried."
The easy laugh that accompanied his statement made Hisa smile gratefully at his willingness to drop the subject.
"I think I'll do fine on my own, but thank you. I might apply for Tokyo University just to see how I do, but otherwise, I'm not sure. I think it would be easier to list the schools I don't want to apply for, to be honest."
They both laughed at that, knowing her penchant for absorbing information like a sponge and spitting it back out as if she was the one who discovered it, so good was her understanding of the material. There was no doubt she'd do well, wherever it was she would eventually enroll in.
"Work hard, then. I'll be counting on you for bragging rights. You know how I am."
"Yeah, I do. How has work been for you? And school?" She asked him curiously. He attended a local university for business, which was, perhaps, a little ironic considering his position.
"Both are fine. Father's been giving me less to do since I'm in university, but most of the negotiations have been working out with little to no disagreements. The schoolwork has been increasing as of late, though. I suppose it's because I'm nearing my final year, and I need to get my thesis ready. Thankfully the classes aren't as awful as my first year. I still get nightmares about that, by the way."
"Really? I'm sure a big man like you can deal with them just fine. Numbers aren't as scary as they're reputed to be," Hisa offered sagely.
"Very funny. And this is coming from the girl with crazy luck who has no need to worry about numbers."
She snorted. "You're exaggerating again. I'm nothing like that. I play how I play, and it just so happens that I tend to win most of the time."
"And she's so modest, too!" He commented in mock-surprise. "But anyway," he continued seriously, "I have to get going. Be sure to visit over your summer break, all right? You know you're always welcome in our house."
"It's hard to see that place as just a 'house', but I'll definitely stop by. You always have the most interesting people over for mahjong."
"I know. It's my magnetic charm that brings them here," he quipped glibly.
She shook her head in exasperation. "You do that. Bye."
Hisa snapped her phone close and turned her body to rest her back against the railings. She let herself slouch a little and let out a silent sigh. Was she working so hard in school just so she could avoid him for another four years in university? She couldn't explain why she was doing this, all of it. Mahjong was probably the only thing that made sense right now. She enjoyed playing it, and she was almost at a national level as far as her skills were concerned.
Almost… by only one point.
She wanted to be bitter about it, but she couldn't be bothered. After all, she had already reached her dream of making the team nationals. If she had wanted to win by herself, she would have gone to the individuals tournament starting from her freshman year.
The red-haired president was glad that she went this year, at least. Even disregarding all of the good things that came with coming to a tournament with her mahjong club, one of the better things that happened was her rematch with Mihoko Fukuji after three years. It's been a long time since she played against someone who could play against her while staying calm. Most would start to panic and revolve their whole hand around what she had discarded, without even trying to win. Mihoko, on the other hand, was entirely different.
She absently flicked open her phone and scrolled through her Contacts list and stopped where the girl's name would be if she had her number.
I should have asked her for her mobile…
Mako's sudden voice cut through her thoughts.
"You alright? It's getting late. Everyone's gone home already."
Hisa waved off the other girl's worry. "I'm fine. Thanks for telling me. How long were you standing there, anyway?"
The green-haired girl raised an eyebrow. "Long enough to see you staring at your phone like you've never seen one before."
Her friend laughed. "You should have taken a picture of it. I would've enjoyed seeing it."
"Yeah, yeah… So, do you want to head home together, or are you going to stay here a little longer again?"
"I think I'll be here for a little bit more. This will be my last summer in this building, so I have to soak up as much of this feeling as I can."
"You say some really embarrassing things sometimes, you know?" Mako noted with amusement.
"I'm serious! You'll feel exactly the same way next year; I guarantee it!" Hisa grinned.
Mako shook her head in exasperation. "No way. Being club president is going to be so much work. I'll probably be wishing for it to end as soon as possible. I don't know how you manage doing both that and student congress president."
Hisa shrugged nonchalantly. "You manage. Maybe you should run for student congress president while I'm gone."
"You're seriously a demon." Mako sighed in defeat.