In all honesty, I don't know where I came up with this idea. In a state of deprivation with the internet gone due to some electric renovations in the room where the router is, I decided to write some more Eyeshield 21 fic but I never expected to try such an obscure pairing. I suppose it might have spurred from the fact that Kakei is one of my favorites and Otohime is hot despite her pretty much non-existent role in the manga (and mentioned interest in Mizumachi, but I like to ignore that), so I was like "Hey, I'll ship them!" It was a bit hard characterizing Otohime, but I sure hope I pulled my interpretation of her off. Oh, and please don't pelt me with anything, even though this one-shot ended up being almost a novel's length. Unless you pelt me with reviews. I like me some reviews. Enjoy!
"A hundred laps down, a hundred more to go!" a rather eccentric blonde bellowed, messy locks bobbing up and down as he ran in front of the pack. A chorus of fatigued groans followed, but never reached the happy Mizumachi's ears. The freshman's silly grin remained plastered on his face, contrasting fiercely with the expression of the only comrade that seemed to be capable of matching his pace.
Kakei looked over his shoulder, getting a good view of the rest of Kyoshin's football team. Mizumachi's idea of practice had proved rather difficult for the majority of the team to follow, and a good number of them were straggling behind. The select few who were able to sort of keep up were mostly composed of the notably taller members, but everyone as a whole still had a long way to go before he could call them truly prepared for the Fall Tournament.
"They need to work on building up their stamina," Kakei mused out loud, kicking up tiny clouds of dirt as they ran in the stuffy summer heat. A rhythm of more pairs of stampeding feet soon followed.
"Right…I was just…about to…say that!" Kobanzame choked out in between pants. Kakei glanced at their captain wearily. His build certainly wasn't anything special, but his dedication to the team and their insane training regiment was worthy of praise. At the end of the day, the younger boy would never fail to give his senior the "Good job, sempai," he deserved. Kobanzame's seriousness concerning the subject of the Christmas Bowl was understandable; he was a third year after all. But as for the rest of the team…Well, most their motivation rested in the shrill, feminine cries that was due in about three, two, one…
"Everyone! Work hard, okay?"
'Right on time,' the dark-haired boy drearily thought to himself as his sneakers bounded from the earth onto the track, continuing their designated route. See, not too far away were the Kyoshin Poseidon Cheerleaders, clad in a colorful array of skimpy tank tops and athletic shorts and waving their pompoms in the air. They each screamed words of encouragement to their favored football players as the hoard of exhausted testosterone passed by. It was something of a daily ritual he supposed, seeing as they practiced their routines at the same time as the players did. The squad had been formed for the sole support of the football team anyway. Kakei himself had originally been against the idea, not sure how a band of females would help any, but the rest of the team had voted in favor. Plus, Kobanzame had claimed it would boost team morale or something.
"Poseidons! Poseidons!" they chanted, blowing kisses as the rest of the team passed by.
…And based on observation, Kakei supposed if boosting morale meant keeping your goo-goo eyes glued on the sea of endless legs and running straight into the bleachers, then it was effective. In an everything-but-positive way, that is.
But still, there were a few players whose speed dramatically increased after they passed the cheer squad's portion of the track, especially after hearing their names. But sadly, their frantic sprinting only caused them to struggle more when they depleted all of their energy.
Kakei had long ago trained himself to block out the screaming. Even if his name was ever mentioned, he knew better than to be distracted with trivial matters such as the opposite sex. And no one in the cheer squad had proved to be the least bit worthy of his attention anyway. Except maybe one…
"Mizumachi-kun! Do your best!" a certain voice called out above the rest. He didn't have to look to see who the voice belonged to, but found himself turning his head anyway. Towering over the group that was hoisting her up in the air was Otohime, cheer captain. She was raised up like a queen, one leg parallel to her torso in a feat of flexibility and grace. Her teeth were as white as pearls, flashing Mizumachi a dazzling smile which he blonde heartily returned.
"Sure thing!" Mizumachi enthusiastically yelled back with a wave, pace never faltering. Otohime gave him a wink before the girls serving as her anchor let her down, catching her as she fell backwards in the net that was their arms.
Kakei kept an eye on the female as her teammates set her back on the ground on her two feet. Their mouths moved in a way that hinted that they were discussing irrelevant matters, a fit of giggles erupting in the small group a moment after. The blue-eyed football player rolled his eyes, but was still unable to ignore the brunette's million-dollar smile as she attempted to stifle her laughter with her hand. He hated to admit it, but she was certainly pretty. And that hot pink midriff glazed over her glistening curves like a tight second skin was relatively nice as well…
"Kakei! Look out!"
Kakei's gaze whipped to the front again. His reflexes barely allowed him enough time to swerve around the stadium light post he would have otherwise found himself headbutting.
For the first time in a while, Kakei actually found himself staggering a bit, losing his momentum and falling into a dazed jog. 'What…?' He asked himself, blinking fiercely as he attempted to get his legs to run again. The answer was fairly obvious, but he didn't really want to believe it. The vastly-admired Kakei Shun falling victim to the aesthetics of a female? The idea was ridiculous. The presence of the cheerleaders certainly hadn't affected his performance before…
Therefore, it wasn't her. It couldn't be her. It just wasn't plausible or allowed to be her.
Kobanzame managed to catch up with him, giving the younger boy a look of concern. "Are you alright, Kakei? That totally wasn't like you."
The blue-eyed first year blinked a bit, still trying to comprehend what in the world had just happened. "I'm…fine," he managed unconvincingly. "It's probably the heat."
"If you say so," the senior replied, giving Kakei another worried look before patting him on the back. The incident apparently hadn't escaped the rest of the team either, and Kakei suddenly felt like there were a million pairs of eyes boring holes into his back.
Now feeling rather frustrated at himself as well as his annoyingly curious teammates, Kakei grit his teeth before accelerating again. Whatever had happened there would probably be best ignored at the moment. Right now his primary concern was catching up to Mizumachi and keeping whatever was left of his sensibility after that unknowing mental attack in cheerleader territory.
'What the hell was that?'
It was close to sunset when the team finally finished practice. The sweaty parade had trudged into the locker room as usual, changing into their cleaner clothes before marching to the public baths. That was one ritual they never broke, no matter how tired they were, and Kakei for one was looking forward to pruning for a while. The baths made for a comfortable atmosphere where he could really think, even if the other members of the team were present. There was nothing better than a comfortable soak, no matter what company there might be.
And so, about an hour later, Kakei found himself submerged from the shoulders down as he sat in a pool of soothing, hot water. He closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the tile, letting out a content breath as his strained muscles relaxed. This was certainly the life…
"Gotcha!" a playful yet peace-destroying voice exclaimed. Before he could open his eyes, Kakei was suddenly blasted by a jet of warm water aimed directly at his nose. Mizumachi was sniggering on the other side of the bath, giving him a shark-like toothy grin as he squirted water from the gun formed by his two large palms.
"Very funny," Kakei replied crossly, observing as his friend who had then chosen to swim laps around the bath. A series of small waves were hurled in his direction, but Kakei was used to his friend's inability to sit still, so he let the blonde be, closing his eyes again and attempting to regain his interrupted peace.
"Oh, that's right!" Mizumachi said suddenly, ceasing his fifth lap around and swimming over to where Kakei was before forcefully poking the other boy in the cheek.
"What is it?" he asked, cracking an eye open in slight annoyance. But the blonde had his attention nonetheless, and proceeded with his seemingly pressing matter.
"Did something happen while we were running laps?" Mizumachi asked, propping his chin on the tiles of the edge. "Otohime-san says you were acting kinda funny. Something about almost running into a pole?"
'She saw that? Shit,' Kakei inwardly cursed. He did a good job with keeping his cool on the outside, however, trying to refrain from simmering. "It was nothing. I looked down to see if my shoe was untied and wasn't looking, that's all." he replied rather sketchily, though the blissfully gullible blonde seemed to believe it anyway.
"That's why you double knot, silly!" Mizumachi chimed, positive energy in the form of victorious hand motions making the water ripple. "That way you don't have to worry about looking or tripping or anything."
"I'll keep that in mind," the linebacker replied halfheartedly, letting his shoulders sink into the water, playing the embarrassing act from practice through his mind once more. It had certainly been a close call, but what had spurred his distraction in the first place?
He continued to descend, slouching until the water level was just shy his aquamarine eyes. That was a stupid question. He knew what his distraction had been, no matter how hard he had tried to deny it, and he absolutely hated himself for it. Well, perhaps hate was too strong a word, but he was disappointed in his unexpected show of weakness nonetheless. Women were such trivial creatures. He had gone his entire life ignoring them with the exception of his mother, and he had intended on keeping it that way for a while. So then why had his brain melted at the mere sight of Otohime earlier during practice?
Otohime, curse her, even though she hadn't been aware that she was the cause of his stupid reaction. It's not like she had some kind of hold on him, he hadn't spoken to her enough for that. Truth be told, he hadn't even noticed that she was in his homeroom until after the team had their cheerleading tryouts. He had been an unwilling member of the panel, Kobanzame having insisted on his attendance in the event. His memory of the day wasn't exactly clear; he had mostly sat around bored the other males were completely absorbed with each girl that entered the clubhouse. But he had noticed when Otohime had entered though, mainly because the door had hit the wall with a resounding smack when she entered.
Her entire interview had been a show of sorts from start to finish. If he remembered correctly, she had briskly stormed in, radiating confidence as her chestnut ponytail swished with each step of her dainty feet. She had stopped before the would-be panel with a hand on her hip and a coy grin on her face, ignoring the chair completely.
"I'm Otohime, a first year," she declared proudly before giving an introductory bow. "It's nice to meet you all!"
Kakei had given her a once-over, finding nothing relatively interesting aside from the fact that she apparently preferred standing over sitting, and returned to the magazine he had brought in order to keep himself occupied. Everyone else, on the other hand, was nodding their heads in silent, unanimous agreement across the table. If he could read minds, they probably would have been communicating something along the lines of 'She's smoking hot!'
"So what brings you here, Otohime-chan?" Kobanzame had asked, clearly as enthusiastic as the others about her presence. The third year gave her a smidgen-of-something-more-than-friendly smile and let his elbows rest on the tabletop, folding his hands together.
"To try out for the cheerleading team, of course! Why else would I be here, sempai?" she replied sweetly, tilting her head to the side in a display of cuteness. Kakei saw this as an obvious trap, and rolled his eyes from his seat while the hearts of the rest of the players proceeded to jump right out of their chests. Poor souls.
"She's really cute!" Mizumachi whispered to him, elbowing him suggestively.
"Whatever," the other freshman had responded, flipping through the old amefuto magazine with disinterest.
Kobanzame and the rest held a mock-huddle, hoping to make their decision seem a bit more thought. Otohime finally decided to utilize the chair, completely unaware of the wolfish remarks being made in the not-so-serious discussion.
"It's settled then!" Kobanzame suddenly boomed, pointing a finger for emphasis at her figure, currently sitting pretty with her hands folded in her lap. "Consider yourself part of the squad!"
The males present proceeded to explode in a hybrid of applause, high-fives fist bumps, and primal excited cheers even though they technically hadn't accomplished anything themselves. Kakei held up a small sign with the word 'Congrats!' written on it with a yawn. Was this really all Kobanzame had needed him for? It's not like they had turned anyone away yet, but still, his role seemed unnecessary. He then wondered how many applicants remained. The next girl would make fifteen once they excused the current ecstatic female, which would be right about no-
"Wait!" Otohime exclaimed suddenly, causing the mini celebration to come to an abrupt halt. At this, Kakei actually took the time to look up from his reading material as Kobanzame blinked in confusion.
"Is there something wrong, Otohime-chan?" Kobanzame asked, not exactly sure why she needed to stick around. Not that it was a bad thing, but none of the other girls had proceeded to discuss any other business once they had been accepted.
"There is," the brunette stated matter-of-factly, playing with the silky ends of her ponytail. "I want to be captain of the cheer squad."
"Captain?" the senior echoed, looking to his fellow teammates for assistance. Clearly they hadn't thought this whole thing through if they hadn't decided the process of picking a captain. Not like they had known there was a cheer captain in the first place, but that was besides the point.
"That's right," she replied boldly from her seated position, expression reflecting a scary combination of hostility and sugary sweetness at the same time.
"Well," Kobanzame began, not exactly sure how to handle the current situation. Otohime looked up at him expectantly, somehow having changed back to adorable again in a matter of seconds. "Y-you see, we figured once the squad was formed, we would leave it up to the girls to decide who became captain-"
"But I want to be captain," she interrupted him, rising once again and approaching the table and promptly slamming her flat palm upon it, looking at the older boy dead-on. Or rather look down on him, seeing as Kobanzame was still sitting. Said male began to fidget and mutter incomprehensible nonsense as she smiled gingerly.
"And what makes you think you're qualified for that leadership position?" Kakei suddenly challenged, rising from his own chair and towering over the girl's petite frame with his overpowering height.
She didn't back down, however, meeting his icy blue gaze with her own. Her eyes glimmered with something along the lines of intrigue as she tilted her face upwards to get a better view of her opponent. Kakei in turn was a bit surprised at the fact that she hadn't been fazed by his appearance. He half expected her to shrink back to her seat once she had gotten a look of just how tall he was like the rest of the girls who had shown interest in him. He supposed he had a modicum in looks considering what he had managed to overhear in class, but girls seldom approached him due to his intimidating stature. He supposed he could give Otohime props for holding her ground, at least.
The dark haired boy felt the vibrations of her fingers now drumming rhythmically on the table, eagerly awaiting her response. Her mouth in turn curled into an attractive smile before she uttered the phrase "Because I can do this,"
His eyes didn't leave her for a second as she retreated backwards slightly, giving herself some room. With wordless precision, she lifted one of her long, tanned legs until it was pointing towards the ceiling, positioning her right arm perpendicular to it and forming a perfect bow and arrow, free hand outstretched for show. She flashed her pearly whites in an expectant grin, almost as if she was taunting him.
Kakei raised a brow. She was flexible. Very flexible. He could give her that much, at least. As for an overall assessment of the girl, he wouldn't argue the fact that she was attractive, seeing as how about half of the males in the room had began to spurt profuse amounts of blood from their noses. Her confidence was refreshing, and was also a promising trait for a potential captain, but with that confidence came arrogance, as she had just blatantly displayed. Said confidence could also possibly be related to vanity, since she seemed to be aware that she was attractive and could potentially use that power to get others to do her bidding, male or female. Scary.
But aside from his analyzation, in his judgment, to just appoint someone as the captain of the cheer squad without giving the same opportunity to the other girls was a bit-
"You've got the position!" A chorus of voices unanimously boomed, almost knocking poor Kakei over with their enthusiasm. The aforementioned male let out a heavy sigh, which was promptly drowned out in the mess of manly displays of approval and the giddy squeal Otohime emitted before clasping her hands together and bowing multiple times in thanks before dashing out of the room to join her friends. Which of course, resulted in more ear-piercing squeals.
"She's really something, isn't she, Kakei?" Mizumachi swooned, elbowing him once again, having no objections to the decision. Then again, when did Mizumachi really have an objection to anything?
Kakei merely chose to slump back into his seat before rubbing at his temples, magazine long forgotten. "I think I have a headache coming on."
But no, that hadn't been the last of her. Not even close. As if the prospect of seeing her at every single practice and every single game weren't threatening enough, he realized that he would have to see her every single minute of class after she had made it officially known that she was in his homeroom.
He had been sitting at his desk, minding his own business and packing up his things right after the bell had rung for lunch when a block of color respective to their school's girl's uniform suddenly obscured his vision.
"I didn't catch your name."
When Kakei looked up, he found himself staring into the same determined eyes from the tryouts. Though her expression was pleasant enough, almost friendly actually, his remained stoic. "Kakei Shun," he replied, trying to leave no room for possible conversation. He wasn't a very talkative person by nature, and that personal trait intensified when he was in unpleasant situations such as the one he was currently in.
"Kakei-kun," she repeated, musing for a moment as she searched for the flavor of his name. "Well, it looks like we'll be spending a lot of time together, seeing as we're in the same class and all." She added brightly, ignoring his former attempts to kill the interaction. In the back of his mind, Kakei wondered what had happened to the monster with the huge ego he had encountered the other day. This Otohime was actually the epitome of schoolgirl polite, which worried him greatly. Was she actually attempting to befriend him or something?
"We are?" Kakei asked stupidly but honestly, earning a look of slight disappointment in return.
"You mean you never noticed me?" she replied, jutting her finger out in some random direction. "But I sit right there!"
He looked to the spot where she was indicating, line of vision resting on a desk exactly two up and one over from his own. It wasn't exactly far away, but still, he hadn't exactly paid most of his classmates any mind.
"It's hard to distinguish people when the only view you have of them is the back of their head," he shot back bluntly. His statement was true, however. He didn't give the students in front of him much mind.
"Well now that you know my face, my name, and my seat," the brunette stated, mouth forming an attractive pout as she crossed her arms. "Try your best to remember them."
"I'll keep that in mind, Otohime-san," he replied flatly, but his use of her name seemed to please her, as the pout dissipated. The blue-eyed boy thought he was in the clear as she positioned her body to leave, but she paused and turned to him again before taking a step.
"And make sure to work hard during practice. I don't want to be cheering for a team that loses." Her words were sharp, and this time, he regarded her with full seriousness in his voice.
"You won't have to worry about that," Kakei stated, absolutely no doubt in his tone. She smiled in approval before exiting, trailing her with his eyes until the last pleat of her skirt, which appeared to be discreetly hiked up a few inches, disappeared through the doorway.
"Kakei?" A voice spoke suddenly, breaking his trance. Kakei blinked, resurfacing back to reality. A puzzled looking Mizumachi greeted him with a furrowed brow. "You were spacing out again. What were you thinking about?"
"Nothing important," Kakei responded vaguely as droplets of water slid down his previously submerged face. The look the blonde gave him in return told him that Mizumachi wasn't buying it, but his friend knew better than to pry.
"Whatever you say," He replied simply before heaving himself out of the tub and approaching the rest of the team by the opposite wall. It appeared that a new makeshift tower was in the works in hopes of catching a glimpse of the female baths. "Wanna help out?"
"I'll pass, thanks," Kakei replied, sinking back down and resuming his finger-pruning bath. He had other, more important things to ponder. 'The tournament is fast approaching, all of us need to focus. I don't have time to be distracted by an irrelevant female with a seemingly endless pair of legs…
No, no, no, no, that thought had been wrong. Totally wrong. There was no way in hell that the petty cheer captain had somehow pervaded his mental defenses. His entire middle school career had been devoted to amefuto, and there was no way he was straying from that route. He didn't have time to satisfy his newly awakened hormone-induced urges, he needed to worry about making it to the Christmas Bowl!
"Do you think Otohime-chan's still in the baths?"
And that was all it took for the icy-eyed football player to descend until the water level was just shy of his nose once again in order to hide his flush. The steam rising from the surface of his skull fused with that circulating through the bath house, and he simmered in silence as bubbles rose to the surface of the water with every breath that passed from his pouting lips.
Summer passed by almost too quickly, but thankfully with no more strange incidents. Kakei had simply resorted to avoiding looking at the cheerleading squad as if his life depended on it during practices, and he was proud to say that he succeeded a good ninety percent of the time. And the other ten percent? Well, he had been working on his balance for those cases.
But having had so much time to dedicate to practice during the summer, Kakei had almost forgotten what sitting around in class actually felt like. And to his discontent, he found the task of sitting still terribly boring and almost unbearable. The fact that their first game against the Hashiratani Deer was two days away didn't help either. He wanted to practice, dammit, not sit idly by in some classroom! Though the team had come a long way during their summer training, the real test would come on Sunday. If they lost against the veteran team, their efforts would be considered futile and in vain.
But time, which apparently wasn't on his side, continued to pass at a ridiculously slow pace. Kakei forced himself to keep his usual composure, however. That was what he was most known for, his calm and collected attitude, and he had to at least keep that intact, since God knew what mental deterioration a certain female had caused him already. Unfortunately, his current state restlessness mixed with the presence a said brunette had made living up to that a bit difficult…
And of course, his wandering eyes found it a very convenient time to land on the back of the aforementioned individual. He observed her ponytail graze the back of her uniform as she jotted something down in her notebook. To his dismay, Kakei hadn't realized that his fascination at this point was almost magnetic, and found it incredibly difficult to tell his damned eyes to look somewhere else once they had settled on her form.
And to make matters worse, she had chosen to turn around at that very moment, locking her chocolate irises with his own by chance or by whatever else there could have caused it. He froze, but didn't break contact. Otohime, on the other hand, glanced quickly to the teacher, who was currently absorbed with writing something on the chalkboard before turning pack to him. She held a finger in the air, a signal for him to wait a moment.
And wait he did, watching her scrawl something quickly before quietly tearing off a good chunk of her current notebook page. Giving one final glance to the front for security, she folded it hastily and tossed it in his direction. It hit the wooden surface with a soft tap, and he have her a curious look before unfolding it.
He blinked, the piece of paper resting innocently on his desk. She had managed to read him perfectly in one word. And not only that, but she had left him enough room to write back.
Picking up his pen, the dark-haired boy wrote a quick reply message in truly blunt Kakei fashion.
He then formed the note what he had learned to be a paper football, something he had picked up in America. He flicked it back to her, eyeing her hands as they examined the shape thoughtfully before unfolding it. He could have sworn he saw the corner of her mouth curl upwards in knowing as she skimmed it. Her pen was in hand once again, and he saw that she took a bit longer to write this time. But sure enough, the piece of paper was back in his possession after a few seconds.
Hang in there, just one more hour and you can let loose.
Kakei briefly wondered how she could find the right thing to say in such few words. Glancing over at her again for a hint, he watched as she cradled her chin in her palm. It was an obvious sign of boredom and disinterest in the lesson, and also a signal that their brief conversation was over. Though he didn't exactly mind, Otohime had said what she had needed to say and he had received it with all its meaning.
He didn't know what had possessed him to do it, but instead of putting the object to the side to be discarded, he slipped it into his pocket. It wasn't like him to be sentimental.
When the bell finally rang, he pondered why time had suddenly seemed to fly when his attention was fixated on the ribbon in her hair.
It was official, their game with the Hashiratani Deer was tomorrow, and even after an excruciatingly long Saturday practice, Kakei still wasn't tired. And for some reason, the ritual soak hadn't calmed his nerves like it usually did. He lagged behind the rest of the players as they filed out of the public bath house, watching but not following as they all wandered towards the busier part of the city for their pre-game dinner: yakiniku at Minotaurus.
"Kakei?" Mizumachi asked, aware that his friend hadn't taken his usual spot walking beside him in front. He walked back to where the dark-haired boy was standing. "You coming?"
"I think…I might go back to the clubhouse and review the tapes we have on Hashiratani again," the blue-eyed linebacker replied after a brief moment of contemplation. Mizumachi's face fell, clearly distraught at the prospect of missing a teammate at their yakiniku feast. "But I'll meet you all at Minotaurus after I'm finished. It's still early, after all." he quickly added, recovering the blonde's lost vitality.
"Well hurry up and go then!" Mizumachi encouraged him, shoving Kakei playfully in the direction of the school. "If you're not quick, we'll finish all the food without you!"
Kakei smiled meekly, giving an awkward wave before breaking into a light jog back to campus. The nervousness concerning the upcoming game didn't dissipate as his sneakers treaded over the sidewalk, passing the random pedestrians and city traffic.
It didn't take long for him to reach the school again, approaching the clubhouse. Upon approaching, however, he noticed something strange. A good number of cardboard boxes were stacked against the wall, one appearing to be open already. He raised his eyebrows in suspicion, wondering who had ordered whatever it was that was in those boxes. It wasn't his right to poke through them, so he decided to look for any evidence of the source. The logo on the boxes was from a nearby sporting goods store, so the contents probably pertained to the team in one way or another.
But remembering that he had come here for another reason, he left the mystery of the boxes at that and proceeded for the door.
Only to find that it wouldn't open. Odd, considering that they usually didn't lock the door.
Tilting his head in confusion, Kakei tried turning the metal knob a second time, but still nothing. A third, more forceful try was attempted, but the door remained shut. That time though, his ears picked up the sound of surprised shuffling coming from inside the clubhouse, indicating that someone was inside. Seeing no other available options, he gave a few hearty taps on the door, hoping that whoever was inside would answer.
"Just a second!" a rather feminine voice called out, leaving the linebacker even more bewildered than he previously had been. Things seemed to be getting stranger by the minute. But what really worried him was that he could have sworn he'd heard that voice before…
But before he had the time to comprehend everything, the door opened and gave Otohime, who was more than a head shorter than him, a face full of T-shirt. It took her a moment to actually identify him, having initially thought to look in other directions besides up.
"Kakei-kun?" she asked, straining her neck in order to meet his gaze. Her pretty features conveyed confusion as she spoke. "What are you doing here?"
"I could ask you the same thing," he retorted as he craned his neck to take her into view. It was then that he noticed her rather interesting change of attire which included a short skirt and seashell bra among other things, but the above mentioned were just the first aspects he'd noticed. "…What are you wearing?"
"Oh, this?" The brunette replied, stepping back and twirling around in a circle so he could get a full view. The smile on her face made it clear that she liked it. "It's our official uniform! They came in time for our first game," she beamed, pinching the sides of her skirt and performing a curtsy. "Urashima-chan was supposed to help me move them inside tomorrow morning, but I couldn't wait, I had to try one on. What do you think?"
Kakei blinked, not sure how to answer her question. Unlike the generic midriff-skirt combination most cheerleaders sported, Otohime had opted for a one-piece ensemble. The top was mostly an aqua blue save the embellishments, which were composed of glittering teal scales on the side and the ever prominent white seashell bra, and shell-shaped collar flattered her long neck. A primary blue ribbon held up her ponytail, which matched the aquatic-themed bands on her upper arms. The skirt was fuller than the average strip of fabric, but hovered high enough to show a generous amount of leg, the only difference between her current form and that of a mermaid, but Kakei liked her legs way better anyway.
In short, she was stunning. But could he tell that to her face? Not in a million years. Saying such things to a girl was dangerous, and saying such things to this girl in particular might just be the end of him. But his silence did nothing to repel her doe eyes which were directed up at him, eagerly awaiting a response. So instead, he bit his tongue and mustered up a flustered "You look…nice."
'Wait, you look nice? Shouldn't it be it looks nice?' Kakei thought, realizing his mistake. But no matter how severely he scolded himself mentally, he couldn't exactly take back his words now.
Thankfully for him Otohime seemed to have ignored that factor and instead focused on the compliment through his awkward phrasing, bringing her pompoms together and giving him a look that could almost be considered endearing. "You like it? Really?" she exclaimed melodically. "I was afraid the team wouldn't like it. After all, it's not exactly conventional," she continued, gesturing to the skin-clinging material and the collar. "But having your approval makes me really happy," she beamed, giving him a genuine smile that made him melt a little inside.
"You're welcome then," he muttered, now finding it exceedingly hard to look at her. Unfortunately, his eyes weren't following the instructions of his brain and kept flitting from Otohime to some random object in the room that failed to retain his attention. But having observed her somewhat thoroughly now, he was amazed at just how small she really was. Though she was average height in female standards, she was a tiny thing compared to him. The combination of her lanky frame and its not too small yet not overpowering curves with her new cheerleading outfit almost made her seem like a doll, and Kakei wondered if she would break if he touched her.
"Oh, that's right," the cheerleader said, ceasing her one-woman parade. "You never answered my question. What are you doing here?" she asked again, eyeing him curiously. And then it hit him, he'd been distracted by Otohime. Again.
Man, she was good.
"I came to review the footage we have on the Hashiratani Deer," he stated, trying to revert back to his usual tone. "But seeing as how someone was using the clubhouse as a closet, I was unable to do so."
"Oh, you're blaming it on me now?" Otohime replied, giving him a coy grin. "Well I'm terribly sorry for the inconvenience. But I'll tell you what; I'll pop in the video for you if you help bring in the rest of the uniforms. Sound good?" She asked, batting her eyelashes in an attempt to hook him.
"Do I have a choice?" the football player asked flatly, seeing through her antics immediately and rendering them ineffective. For the most part
"If you don't follow any code of chivalry and believe that females other than Urashima-chan should perform heavy lifting, then yes,"
"…Where do you want them?"
"You can totally take him on," Otohime interjected, the glow of the TV screen illuminating her features in a turf green. She was still clad in her cheerleading outfit, standing behind Kakei. Her brown eyes peeked over the tall boy's shoulder, viewing the recording of Onihei and the rest of Hashiratani's line with her arms folded on the top of the chair Kakei was seated in.
"You're right," he agreed. Taking into consideration Onihei's physique, he really wasn't anything special, especially compared to him and Mizumachi. They could overpower the mature-looking third year easily. Onihei's veteran status was the only thing the Deer were known for. The rest of the team was more or less a joke. "This year, Kyoshin will make it to the Christmas Bowl."
"Of course we are. You told me not to worry, remember?" she pointed out, causing him to remember his words that day. Indeed, they had nothing to worry about. Kyoshin was going to beat Hashiratani into the ground.
But just as Hashiratani had become the least of his problems, another one had just arisen in the form of Otohime resting her head on one of her folded arms. He could have sworn he felt her content sigh gingerly graze his face, causing him to stiffen.
"Hm?" she purred, angling her head to face him. The video continued to play through their momentary social intermission.
"Why are you still here?" he asked. Not that he was suspicious of anything. He just found it odd that she had opted to stay and watch their tapes on Hashiratani instead of leaving when he was finished with the boxes. Girls generally didn't like football, and the ones who did usually didn't like watching game reruns. It didn't add up.
"I wanted to keep you company. Why, would you rather watch these alone?" she inquired. She raised a brow, indicating that Kakei was once again in a position where he had to answer carefully.
"It's your choice," he replied.
"Typical," Otohime droned, clearly displeased at his evasive maneuver. She knew that the usual yes or no had been eliminated due to their possible implications.
She took a deep breath, a sign that she was about to say something of importance. "Whether I look like it or not and whether you like it or not, I'm a part of the amefuto club too," the brunette began, dead seriousness reflected in her irises. Kakei listened, a tad surprised at the sudden change of tone. "And as a fellow member, I'm here to help in any way possible. Understand?" she tapped him lightly on the cheek for emphasis, making him flinch. Her voice grew softer after the action, however. "If you don't want me here, just say so. I just want to do what I can, even if all I can do is keep you company."
A heavy silence swept over them, the muted cheers from the television echoing eerily through the room. Once again, Otohime had rendered him speechless, and he was beginning to fear this strange power she had on him. The glow of the screen was reflected in her eyes, intensifying her gaze. She obviously expected an answer, he knew that much, but he couldn't exactly find something to say to that.
Instead, the words that had managed to leave his lips were "Mizumachi's lucky then."
Otohime stared at him for a moment, clearly puzzled. "Why's that?"
"He has your affections," Kakei stated, smiling in spite of himself. "He has your full support and devotion. Anyone would be lucky to receive your extent of dedication."
This time, it was Otohime's turn to muse. She hadn't expected him to say that, of course, but his words spurred something in her, something far from a state of contentment.
"Who said it was Mizumachi?" she said quietly, a joking expression crossing her features to further prove that she believed that idea to be ridiculous.
"What do you mean?" the blue-eyed boy questioned. Hadn't she been the one calling out Mizumachi's name during practice all this time? Surely that had to mean something.
"I like someone," the brunette started, lifting herself up from her perch and twirling a strand of her hair around her finger wistfully. "But that someone isn't Mizumachi. He's more of a brother figure to me, you know? He'll practice cheers with me and help me with my stunts on occasion, but I've never thought of him in that way."
"Oh…" Kakei breathed, still a tad shocked that his hunch was wrong. But with that matter over and done with, another question arose in his mind. "So who is it that you like then?" he found himself saying before any sense of personal respect he normally would have considered kicked in.
"A girl has to keep her secrets, Kakei-kun," she told him lightheartedly, not bothered by the question, but not fully out of her awkward position either. Something was bugging her, he could see it in her nervous movements, but he couldn't figure out what exactly it was.
"Have you told him?" the linebacker asked again, reason still not quick enough to match his impulses. The desire to find the identity of whomever Otohime's heart was reserved for was nagging at him, but seeing as she wouldn't give him any names, that question would have to suffice. But there was something else that was bothering him; why did sheer prospect of Otohime fancying someone eat at him so ferociously?
She walked over to one of the windows, her back to him to hide whatever expression might have been on her face. "No."
"Because he wants to go to the Christmas Bowl," she said, tracing her fingers over the dusty blinds. "If I were to tell him how I felt, it would get in the way, which is why I'm going to wait until we win the Christmas Bowl." She stood musing silently, her image pulling at his heartstrings for reasons he couldn't fathom.
"After we do that, I'll tell him. But for now, I'll just try to be there when he needs me, when the team needs me." She stated in a rather determined fashion despite her steadily leaking dismay. This, he realized, was a side of Otohime that he hadn't seen before, but had his undivided attention nonetheless.
"You're certainly brave if you're willing to wait that long," he pointed out, hitting the mute button on the remote so he could listen to her properly. "Keeping your feelings to yourself for the greater good is commendable."
"You think so?" she asked, a crooked grin on her face. The brunette let the dusty residue from her fingers fall, examining as they floated down thoughtfully. "Because I'm absolutely terrified. There's no guarantee he'll return my feelings, no matter when I tell him."
"There's also no guarantee that we'll get to the Christmas Bowl, and yet you seem confident in our ability to win it." Kakei mused, hoping to give her something else to think about. Her answer, to his surprise, was immediate.
"Because you said we would win and I'm holding you to that," She stated, turning to look at him again. Her chocolate eyes held something sincere, and it hit him then: she trusted him. Even if the goal seemed like wishful thinking, she believed in his words, and would try her best to help him and the rest of the football team attain victory.
"…You should let him know. Subtly," the icy-eyed boy suggested sheepishly, not knowing what else to say. Not that he was an expert at the whole dating game, but he supposed it was better than nothing. "So he'll see it coming maybe. Then you'll know early on if it's worth waiting or not."
"You think so?" Otohime tilted her head curiously, debating his advice. He nodded and left her to muse, unsure if she was going to follow through with it, but satisfied that she hadn't just brushed his ideas off. "Maybe…"
Kakei then decided that Otohime was truly something else. She was something far from the usual acquaintance he had categorized so many people in, and not quite fit to be labeled as a close friend since he hadn't known her for very long at all. He supposed there was room for a new subgroup, and while any possible choices for names currently eluded him, 'someone special' seemed sufficient for now.
Feeling silence descend over their little atmosphere once again, Kakei opened his mouth to say something. He wanted to show his gratitude for her support, show that he appreciated her efforts, show her that he wished her luck, show her something, but the words didn't form themselves in time. Because before he could even utter a syllable, a loud, startling rumble rolled through the clubhouse. Kakei looked around for the cause of the noise, giving Otohime a puzzled look when she clutched her stomach in mortification.
"Ah! How embarrassing," she said quietly, a faint blush rising to her cheeks. Her thin arm was draped over her stomach and looked to the ground, and Kakei finally managed to put two and two together. "I haven't eating anything since breakfast today…"
"If you're hungry, I'm heading over to Minotaurus to meet the rest of the team," the linebacker said, pushing his earlier thoughts to the back of his mind for the time being. Right now, her nutritional health was much more important. "You're welcome to join us if you'd like." He added, pressing the eject button on the VCR to signal that he had accomplished all he'd needed to do.
"I don't know," the cheerleader replied sheepishly, fiddling with the hem of her skirt, but showing obvious signs of hunger. The way she bit her lip was actually kind of cure, he realized. "I've kind of been on a diet since we first signed up for the tournament-"
"You don't need to be on a diet, you're fine," Kakei frowned. He noticed her jump at his direct tone before her stomach gave another growl. He struggled to hold in his grin, watching her stare at her abdomen in indignation.
"Well I guess a little bit wouldn't hurt," she muttered, now beyond flustered. "Just give me a minute to get changed." Otohime forcefully pushed the male towards the door, small palms only reaching the curve of his spine. He followed obediently, treading over the floor like an oversized puppet. But outside the doorframe, he had the sudden urge to say something before she utilized the clubhouse as a closet again.
"Why the seashells?" Kakei asked stupidly but with no harmful implications. He was merely curious, that was all. Not that they didn't flatter her, but making such assets that obvious, was that really what she wanted? Otohime gave him a look of disbelief, even gawking a bit in front of his blissfully pure expression before she finally answered.
"Because B shells are too small and D shells are too big," she stated with an impatient huff before promptly slamming the door in the linebacker's stunned face.
"It was awesome! We totally dominated!" an exceedingly happy Kobanzame triumphantly announced to their circle of friends. It was the Monday after the game, and the majority of the football team was gathered in their designated lunch spot on the roof discussing their victory over Hashiratani. "That Onihei, he never saw us coming!"
"Indeed," Kakei concurred, a content grin on his normally serious features. Though they would have many more battles to come, their first round victory was certainly a reason to celebrate. Or at least talk about, seeing as he wasn't much of a party person.
But in his elated satisfaction, he'd actually forgotten to bring a lunch. A minor inconvenience, but it did nothing to hinder his current mood. Besides, his more devoted friends often offered him a portion of their lunch anyway. Or there was always the Mizumachi route, which was composed of sneakily nabbing something out of someone else's bento.
And speaking of which, something had appeared to grab the above mentioned blonde's attention.
"Oh hey," Mizumachi began, glancing towards the stairs. He brought a hand to his forehead like a visor with the belief that it would sharpen his vision. "Isn't that…"
"Mizumachi-kun! Kakei-kun!" A rather bubbly voice dripping with estrogen called. Kakei looked for the source of the voice, eyes widening in surprise when he identified the figure.
"Otohime-san!" Mizumachi greeted brightly, giving her an eccentric wave. The brunette replied with a flashy smile that made the teams hearts flutter. "What are you doing here?"
The brunette approached the group, hands behind her back and a beaming grin on her face. The sea of goo-goo eyes didn't cease, even when she stopped between Mizumachi and Kakei. "I wanted to congratulate you properly," she stated, outstretching her arms to the both of them and reveal what she had hidden behind her back: two thoughtfully wrapped bentos. "Ta-da!"
"Wow, Otohime-san! You're the best!" The tanned blonde exclaimed, hastily taking his as Otohime beamed with pride similar to that of a housewife. Their teammates stared enviously.
Kakei blinked, unsure if he was really allowed to receive it. It looked far too pretty to be for him, but her brown eyes urged him to do so, however. He took the bento into his hands, beginning to unwrap it with care. Mizumachi, on the other hand, hadn't given it a second thought.
"It's nothing, really. I just happened to make a lot of extra this morning, so I made one for each of you," she explained humbly, watching them open her creations. Kakei was amazed at the aesthetics of the assortment, his previously ignored hunger now in full force. But being a man with manners, he broke his chopsticks with precision and would go for one thing at a time, starting with the rather appetizing looking tamagoyaki-
"Hey! Kakei has more food than me," Mizumachi suddenly interjected with a pout, holding his bento next to Kakei's for comparison. Kakei was about to tell the blonde to shut up and be thankful, but stopped when he realized that Mizumachi was actually correct. The other bento box, though heartily prepared, was lacking some of the aspects of his which was generously filled to the corners. They both looked to Otohime for an explanation.
"I said I made extra, but I didn't say I made enough," Otohime chimed with a shrug, all of the boys suddenly sporting looks of mutual confusion.
'Wait…' Kakei thought, trying to pull the meaning out of her words. Before he could do so, however, she poked him on the cheek just as she had in the clubhouse the other day.
"Eat up, Kakei-kun. It's not every day you get a bento from a pretty girl," she teased him. Before proceeding to leave, however, she decided to give the icy-eyed linebacker one more thing to think about. "Consider yourself lucky."
The piece of fried egg fell from his chopsticks back into the container as she pranced off, a satisfied grin on her face. Kakei froze in realization. Her emphasis on the last word definitely hadn't sounded like a meaningless coincidence, especially after their conversation the day before the game. But if it wasn't a coincidence, then what was it? He had attributed the word to the person of her affections, but surely that someone wasn't-
"Aha! Gotcha!" Mizumachi triumphantly yelled, snatching the fallen tamagoyaki from his friend's bento. "You should really pay more attention, Kakei-kun. No wonder Otohime-san complains about you so much. You're so dense."
And with that, the rest of the members of the Kyoshin Poseidon let out a collective series of astonished, heartbroken cries as lucky number 41 directed his attention to the bento in his lap in order to hide his blush.
A little over seventeen pages of size-10 Verdana? What on earth is happening to my writing? I really didn't expect this to be so long, but I hope you liked it anyway. And remember, reviews are always appreciated :D