Because I went on a huge shopping spree today, and bought way more than what is healthy for a teenager. (It should be noted that most of the stuff I bought was related to tennis; I bought almost the entire Limited Edition Ralph Lauren: US Open line, haha.)


"I don't see why I'm stuck with you," Niou was saying. "I mean, didn't you pounce on Marui the moment you had the SADASS thing? You could've gone with Yukimura, or Marui, or even Sanada—but if you went with Sanada, I would've gone along anyway, 'cause I need some blackmail photos, but that's not the point. Anyway, Jackal should've volunteered, because . . ."

Akaya tuned him out. Personally, he didn't mind shopping with Niou-senpai. He was fun to hang around with when he wasn't being Niou-ish, and especially fun to tease when Yukimura was present (mainly to protect Akaya from physical harm).

But missing tennis practice for it was an entirely different thing.

The upperclassmen were being given the chance to totally beat up the first years in tennis that day, and fukubuchou knew that Akaya was just dying to pulverize them. So naturally, Sanada sent him on shopping duty, with an equally moody Niou.

This is all because I put toothpaste in his cap, Akaya thought sulkily.

"This is all because you put toothpaste in Sanada's cap," Niou informed him. They entered the department store, and Niou checked his pockets. "Let's see . . . damn, I don't have the shopping list. Didn't Sanada give it to you?"

Akaya shook his head. "I thought he gave it to you."

"Well, I'm not going back there and telling Sanada we lost the shopping list. What did he want us to buy, anyway? Tennis balls or something?"

Akaya looked up hopefully. "Maybe we can just kind of guess what he needs? I have the money he gave us, anyway."

"Let me see." Akaya handed over the credit card, and Niou whistled. "We could buy the whole store with this," he said meaningfully. His eyes glinted a bit.

"Like Toys R Us?" the junior demanded.

"Exactly like Toys R Us."

"Then what are we waiting for?" Immediately, Akaya latched onto Niou's arm and began dragging him out of the department store. "Toys R Us is miles away and we have to run if we want to make it back in time to beat up first years."

"You have an unhealthy obsession with that," Niou commented, and paused. His eyes took in everything in the store, from the jewelry to the sportswear. "You know, I should take this opportunity to teach you about the wonders of life. You'll need to know a lot to replace us as a third year, and you don't know half the things you're supposed to. We could start here. And we have to be reasonable, and responsible. Don't you want to be the future captain of RikkaiDai?"

Akaya nodded eagerly. This was turning out to be way better than tennis practice.

"Then you have to do what you think is right. You have to do everything for the good of the team." It would have sounded moral and dignified, had Niou not been the one saying it. "So we're going to buy stuff that'll benefit the team. Like balloons." He grabbed a random packet of balloons from a stand and dumped them into a nearby shopping cart.

"Balloons? How would they help the team?" he asked, confused.

"First of all, don't question your senpai. Second of all, of course it benefits the team. It adds cheer to the clubroom, which helps the team play better and function better as a whole. Just like these sunglasses will benefit the team—because they're so cool, everybody's going to feel inspired to play tennis just as coolly, and we'll totally scare off the competition."

Akaya was beginning to understand now. "You mean like how . . . like how the new Demon Hunters videogame is beneficial?"

Niou nodded, encouraging him, and Akaya continued, "Because it's really exciting, and everybody will feel energetic from playing it . . .?"

The older boy nodded again, grinning. "Exactly. What else?"

"Uhm . . . these action figures, because they're so awesome that everybody will want to be just as awesome, and that'll make us better at tennis," Akaya concluded inelegantly. He dumped the action figures and the video game into the shopping cart as well.

"Very good," Niou said approvingly. "I never thought I'd be such a great teacher."


And that was how they came back two hours later, with about seventeen bags of toys and junk food, a very proud Akaya and a just as accomplished Niou.

"You might want to get a new credit card," Niou told Sanada, handing it over. "I think we maxed this one out."