A/N: So, I'm back in school. Updates may come slower, but I've developed a plan to alternate between this and I Romanticize Everything. So, this week, I have a new chapter for this. Next week, I should have a new chapter for IRE. And then alternating until I'm done with IRE (which will be in three chapters!). After that, I don't know what I'll do but we'll see. But if you've never read I Romanticize Everything, and you like Hikaru's character, you should read it. Definitely read it when I have the next three chapters up, but I have a few good chapters up now I guess.

This chapter is longer than the last, but I don't know if I like it more. It's a lot of dialogue, which I kinda hate writing, but w/e. Also, Kanako gets really cheesy at one point, and I hate how I wrote that section, but let's face it. I was in character. Let's just accept it. Lol.

I gave some people names. Princess Nine was really good about giving names to CotDs. Yep.

Also, this is where things get superfun so I hope you guys enjoyyyy! 3

Disclaimer: Don't waste your time with lawsuits - I don't own Princess Nine. Or the song Dangerous by Cascada, that I know did not exist in the time of P9. Nope - don't own it. I did kinda give some names to the Hori Private kids though because P9 decided Yano was the only one that mattered. But I didn't really create the characters or anything. NOPE.

Just Pretend

Daddy's little girl falls for a bad boy. Desperate to be with him, she drops her label as a good girl and lets her other side gradually take over. Can the Kisaragi girls bring their shortstop back to reality before she loses herself to a few tubes of lipstick and a green wig?

Chapter 3 – I Want You, Mine

Seven o'clock the next morning found the shortstop alone in the locker room, her finger to her lips, her head in the clouds. The other girls were not there yet – possibly still recovering from the long night before. It was not as if they had to recover much. The other girls did not find themselves pushed up against the wall of an alley by the end of the night. The other girls did not stay awake, pondering their actions the entire night, tying two and two together. The other girls did not turn their twisted dreams of kissing such a thuggish brute like Hori Private's pitcher into a reality.

The realization had haunted Kanako the entire night. She knew it was wrong to dream such terrible dreams of a romantic setting with Yano. She knew it was wrong to not deem these as nightmares, to accept them, yet hide them from the rest of the team. And yet, she let him have his way with her at the club. She let him invade her personal space during the dance, kiss her forcibly, push her against the brick wall, and let his hands wander all over her. Despite denying her feelings during these dreams, during their encounters, she did not stop the man from doing anything. Instead of letting her sleep, her submission to Yano confirmed that she had strong feelings for him, whether she wanted them or not.

The only thing that continued to confuse the shortstop was the way Yano reacted. Never in her life did she think someone as high and mighty as the pitcher for Hori Private would ever take her offer on a dance. Never did she think someone like him would kiss her back.

Her thoughts were soon interrupted by the giggling and commotion outside of the locker room. Talk of the previous night invaded the room as the eight remaining teammates got settled and changed into their uniforms for the day's practice session, all accompanied by a musical number from the tiny Tosa native.

"Man! Last night was a blast, wasn't it guys?"

"Oh yeah! I haven't danced that wildly in so long!"

"Yeah, because a week was so long ago, right, Yoko? Geez, count your days for once, you dingbat."

"Ow! That hurt, Seira!"

"Your love hits me like no other…"

"Well, it was a real fun night aside from those stupid Hori Private jerks. Really, going after the most vulnerable girl in our group is such a low move! I hope I've scared them off forever, Nene."

"I hope so too, Seira. That fat one is beyond frightening."

"Aren't they all pretty scary? I didn't think Fatty was nearly as terrifying as the others were."

"Okay, guys! Roll call!" Ryo called out, disrupting the ongoing conversation. "We're gonna go by…last name today!"

Izumi's death glare shot up from behind her book. "You're kidding me, right? We change attendance every single day. Can we please, at the very least, stay on a schedule?"

Ignoring the complaints from the third baseman, Ryo continued her call of attendance, beginning with Yuki. "Azuma!"




"I'm here. Clearly, Himuro and her mouth are here." Another death glare was shot in Ryo's direction before she called the next name. "Hotta!"

"Or is it too late… Oh, yeah, I'm here! Gotta know what's on your mind…"


Kanako stayed silent, her eyes still facing the window. Usually, she was one to answer Ryo without argument, but the captain's calls fell upon deaf ears as the short stop's mind was only filled with strong arms and hooded eyes.

A harsh kick to the chair pulled Kanako back into reality, forcing the small girl to nearly fall over. She looked up; her eyes on level with Seira's recently re-crossed leg, before Ryo called again. "Yes, Ryo?"

"Just taking roll. I saw you were here, but I didn't hear you. No worries!" Ryo reassured with a smile before reverting back to the others. "Morimura!"





"Present as always, captain!"

"Alright! Everyone's here!" Ryo exclaimed gleefully. "We still have a few minutes before practice should start, so I guess we can just hang out for a few."

Hikaru propped her feet on the table. "Ryo, chica, you totally missed out on an awesome night!"

"Oh my god," Yoko started, "it was so much fun. There were so many people and so much music. I can't believe you ditched it to work for your mom!"

"Sorry, guys," Ryo apologized. "Family has priority." She turned to Hikaru with a teasing grin on her face. "So, did you get with any Rinkai boys?"

Hikaru rolled her eyes and smiled. "What's a party without gettin' some from a rival team, right?" The pigtailed Kansai native laughed, throwing her feet up on the table before her. "Nah, I just danced with a few. I can dance with a few strapping boys, no big deal, but in the long run, I'm a one-man kind of woman."

A laugh was stifled from across the room as Yoko leaned her arm on Seira's shoulder. "Try telling Seishiro that," Seira snickered. "He's probably heard that voicemail we left about you going off with Ishimaru last night by now."

Hikaru's face fell flat. "What the fuck, guys! Again? This is why I should stop goin' out with you guys every Friday night. I always get pranked like this!" Her head made its way into her hands as the other girls laughed. Everyone knew Seishiro was going to believe every lie Seira and Yoko told him, and everyone knew an argument would be held between the couple. While Hikaru was beyond fatigued of the constant bickering she did with Seishiro in order to hold the relationship intact, the other girls, Seira and Yoko in particular, took much pleasure in playing with the couple's stability.

"I know, but somethin's takin' over now… I wanna run, but I don't know how…" Sitting on the edge of the table, Koharu continued to sing, her head bobbing to the music. "You just crossed my border now… we're standing face to face…"

Ryo looked at the shorter girl with a questioning expression on her face. "And why exactly has Koharu been singing the same song over and over?" she asked the group.

"Gimme a break, I'm melting away, you're so dangerous…"

Hikaru leaned back in her seat, pulling the center fielder off the table and onto her lap. "Guplet's had this one song they played last night in her head all night long. I swear, she hasn't stopped singing it since she downloaded it and that's all you can hear from her room."

Koharu stabilized herself, draping her arm around Hikaru's neck. "I'm sorry, but if you guys heard a song you found that catchy, you'd have it stuck in your head all night too."

Ryo giggled before turning to Mao. "So, how did Soshi enjoy the club, Mao?"

The catcher shrugged. "He seemed to have fun. He got bored of standing around and dancing all the time though, so we later went out, had dinner, and saw a movie afterward."

"Yeah, the dance scene was kinda dull tonight," Seira commented. "I mean, everyone was dancing, which was great, but none of my guys had good rhythm."

"Maybe if you were, y'know, into guys, you wouldn't think that," Yoko sneered.

Seira whipped her head to face the blonde. "I'm gonna punch you in the face," she threatened, causing Yoko to back away slightly.

"Speaking of dancing," Hikaru started, a large grin creeping across her face, "Kanako, who was that guy you were with?"

Kanako stared blankly at the first baseman, unable to find words. "W-What guy?"

"Oh, Kanako, don't play dumb!" Nene teased. "We all saw you with a really tall, muscular boy, dancing to the Dangerous song!"

Upon hearing the word "dangerous," Koharu broke back into song. "You're so dangerous… Dangerous!"

"And to make things even more scandalous and interesting," Hikaru started, excited to hear the juicy details of Kanako's adventure at the club, "the two of you disappeared from the club. Just what happened after that dance?"

Cheeks flashing crimson, Kanako turned away, facing the twiddling thumbs in her lap. "Oh…uh…" she stuttered, embarrassed about the entire situation. "I don't know. He was just a guy willing to dance with me. I'm sure I'll never see him again."

Yoko flashed the short stop a teasing smirk. "Trust me, sweetie, those are the best kinds of guys." A violet eye closed into a wink as it was Seira's turn to get back at the blonde for the earlier comment.

"Yeah, Yoko knows that because Yoko really gets that many guys in one night and isn't good enough to get any of them to come back!" Daggers were shot at the redhead as a stifle of a laugh escaped Seira's mouth.

"And exactly why are you girls still in here?" the booming voice of Coach Kido arrived out of nowhere, startling all ten girls in the room. "The guys you face to get to Koshien aren't gonna care about who you girls slept with last night, now get your butts out there and practice!"

An ocean of groans echoed as the girls exited the locker room and entered the baseball field for practice. Leave it to the coach to ruin a good gossip session. The nine team members assumed their positions on the field, eight of their minds fully set on baseball. Kanako, on the other hand, still had her mind set on Yano.

There were definitely reasons behind her hiding information about the boy with whom she danced at the club. In one part of her mind, she thought about how her feelings would affect the people around her. No one on the team would approve of this. No one liked any of the Hori Private men, and would rather die than be in a romantic setting with any of them. If anyone, even her best friend Nene, was to know of her feelings, Kanako would be exiled from the team, forced to turn against the girls she called her friends. It was bad enough she had that long period of time harboring a crush on Seira, the resident bad girl of the team. The team did well enough knowing nothing of that incident. These feelings for Yano had no business reaching the others' ears. No one would understand.

Then, of course, there was her father. Principal Mita attended the Hori Private game the year before and witnessed the intentional ambush acted upon her by one of the other teammates. He knew the things of what those boys were capable. There was no way her father would allow her to interact with someone like Yano, let alone date him. He would never allow anything that could possibly cause harm upon his daughter to happen, whether she wanted it or not. Her father could not know about these feelings she had been harboring for Yano. He would not understand.

But what was Kanako to do? She knew she could not stop liking Yano on command. Just because her friends and family would look down upon the entire situation should not mean she was limited to living a miserable, lonely life. She knew that was unfair. She was just as deserving of a happy relationship with the boy she wanted as Ryo, Hikaru, and Mao were. Why did her happiness have to be stunted just because the boy of her dreams happened to be a thuggish ruffian from a rival baseball team?

She continued to wonder about his actions. She knew she was nothing more than a plain Jane compared to girls like Seira, Yoko, Izumi, Yuki, and Hikaru. Why would Yano return her actions? Why would Yano pull her into a tighter embrace, forcing their bodies to touch to the beat of the music around them? Why would Yano willingly kiss her, touch her, and hold her in the cold alley? It was unusual enough that she leaned into everything at first; she had never been intimate with anyone before, let alone someone with his assumed level of expertise. But she would think that someone like Yano would just back away and mock her as he rejoined his gang. Instead, he stayed with her.

Of course, Kanako had her doubts. He did go to Hori Private. There was a high possibility he did this to any and every girl he met at a club. For all she knew, she might not have been the first girl that night. But the shortstop also knew that she could not just dwell in the negatives. There were too many "what if" scenarios in her head for her to be pessimistic.

Practice ended earlier than usual, much to everyone's joy. As most of the girls conversed amongst themselves in the locker room, Kanako took the opportunity to face her fears and figure out exactly what she should be doing about the situation before her. She found herself alone in the changing room with her former crush, changing into the clothes she wore at the beginning of the day. Her gaze was shifted in the opposite direction of the red head, blushing as the older girl slipped into a tighter top. Despite the commotion in the other room, silence consumed the changing room until the shortstop shattered it like glass.

"Seira, do you think I can ask you something?" Kanako asked hastily, still embarrassed to be alone in the same room with the abrasive former sprinter.

Seira pulled on her jeans before nonchalantly responding. "Yeah, what's up?"

Kanako shyly walked toward the taller girl, sitting on the bench in the middle of the room. "Have you…" she stuttered, fidgeting in her seat. "…ever liked someone you shouldn't have?"

Halting everything she was doing, Seira turned to give the bookworm a questioning look. The creeping shade of rouge across the smaller girl's cheeks was obvious, adding to the confusion. She sat next to Kanako, setting her boots to the side. "Why do you ask?"

Kanako continued to avoid eye contact, though she could feel her fellow teammate's blue eyes piercing through her. "Um…I'm just wondering," she lied. "We don't really know much about each other, so I figured I'd ask. I apologize if it's too personal."

Seira shook her head and averted her gaze. "No, it's fine. I'm just surprised you're asking." She looked up toward the ceiling with a thoughtful look in her eyes. "Yeah, I've had those kinds of relationships before. Maybe too many times."

The shortstop swiftly turned to face the girl beside her. "You don't have to go into detail if you don't want to!"

In a matter of seconds, Seira's gaze snapped right to Kanako. "Relax, Glasses. This isn't a super intense gateway into my life or anything." She turned away again, crossing her legs and leaning back into her previous state of thoughtfulness. "My first boyfriend was like that. I don't really remember his name. I think it began with an M or some shit. Whatever. He was a jackass, constantly trying to get me to join his gang, constantly trying to get further in the relationship than I had wanted. It didn't help that he was a cheater. If memory serves, he dumped me for a total slut that never wanted him, about a year into the relationship."

Kanako began to apologize but Seira cut her off.

"I told you, it's no big deal. He was a jackass," she reassured. "There were a few relationships in between, but eventually, Rumi came along. I won't say much about that, but nothing good ever came out of that relationship."

Kanako gazed at Seira with concern. The red head usually never opened up like this. She had occasionally heard about Rumi, but never any stories behind the pair. And to hear about the other boyfriend was unsettling as well.

"Here's the thing, Kanako," Seira started, making eye contact with the four eyed shortstop. "If you like someone no one's gonna approve of, go after him anyway and try and prove everyone wrong. If he's really a scumbag, think of it as a learning curve. If you just listen to everyone else and never go for it, you may be missing out on someone who could be a good guy deep down. That's how I've gotten through everything. Granted, both of them were rumored to be jackasses and both rumors were confirmed, but that shouldn't stop anyone else."

Everything Seira told her sunk in as Kanako nodded. All of her problems were answered. Whether or not anything was going to work out for her, if someone as experienced as Seira was going to tell her to go for it, what did she have to lose? She rose from the bench and bowed in thanks, but she was soon stopped.

"No, really, why'd you ask? Are you in this situation?" Seira asked, slipping back into her previous prodding from before practice.

Kanako blushed, but smiled as she answered. "Well… I was once. I just wanted to know how to get out of it." With that, she walked away, leaving Seira slightly confused.

She walked out with the other girls as they all went to get an early dinner at a nearby pizza shop. Hikaru was on the phone, arguing with Seishiro about Seira and Yoko's earlier prank. Mao and Ryo conversed about their boyfriends as Koharu continued to sing the song from the previous night. At one point, Kanako stepped out of line, catching the attention of the other girls.

"Kanako, aren't you coming with us?" Nene asked, concerned.

Kanako shook her head. "No, sorry, guys. I've gotta tutor someone in my calculus class. Maybe we can do pizza another time?"

"If this kid you're tutoring is a boy," Hikaru started, putting her conversation with her boyfriend aside, "I want all the details tomorrow!"

Yoko gave Hikaru a confused look. "That's silly, Hikaru. What kind of boy takes calculus?"

Ryo stepped in. "It's okay, Kanako, go ahead. We'll definitely do dinner again another time!"

"Have fun with math, Kana!"

"Remember, I want details!"

"My biggest mistake…I'm blinded by your lies…"

Giggling at Koharu's singing in the distance, Kanako began her journey to an unknown address, in hopes to settle everything in her mind. Now that she knew what to do, she was not about to let the team get in her way.

The sun was setting as Kanako reached her destination. The night before, she had stayed up and tracked down the location of Hori Private School in assumption that she could access Yano during his practice sessions. She knew it was scandalous, especially right after her own practice, but she never knew if this chance would come again. She had finally gotten the team off her back and her father was quite possibly under the assumption that she was out with the rest of them. This time was as perfect as a time could ever get to finally come to closure with her feelings.

The ruffians' laughter could be heard a mile away from their club house. Kanako slowly walked up to the window, peering in to see that they were all there. The catcher had his feet on the table, laughing as another teammate did an impression of, Kanako easily concluded, one of the Kisaragi boys. The manager of the team sat in the back with a sickening smirk on his face. All of the boys were practically howling, talking about partying, girls, sex, and other topics that were muddled together.

Then, of course, there he was. Yano was stretched out on the couch in the middle of the room, one hand on the top, one hand lost in his lap. His signature toothpick was caught in his arrogant smile. His hooded eye was still hidden from everyone, even with his hat off. Maybe it was just Kanako's feelings getting in the way of everything, but the lights seemed to be on him, portraying him as the king of Hori Private. The very image turned the already wild butterflies in the girl's stomach insane.

She shook her head out of the clouds. Yes, she enjoyed these strangely enjoyable fantasies of Yano, but she had a job to do in the long run. She walked to the door, the music and commotion becoming louder as her heart raced, and knocked three times.

"'Ey, Maruko! Get the damn door!" a voice boomed from inside. Kanako waited, patiently but nervously, for her call to be answered. Her hands clamped tightly together in front of her as her eyes shifted straight to the ground. The sounds from inside intensified as the door opened to reveal the catcher of Hori Private. Kanako's nervousness turned to immediate fear as the grin on the large man's face widened. She remembered him from the game – she remembered how he ran her over in attempt to get to second base. Despite anything she felt for Yano, that one moment still scarred the shortstop.

"Maruko, who is it?" asked an indistinguishable guy from inside.

"Well, Ken," the catcher known as Maruko started, "it looks like one of the cute Kisaragi girls got lost here."

A howl was heard soon afterward as Maruko was joined by a much skinnier man. "Ho boy! I sure as hell hope it's Hotta! Which one is it Maruko?"

Maruko laughed. "Sorry, Isao. Looks like it was little Mita lost her way home to daddy."

Isao's face fell. "Dammit, I'm never gettin' my hooks on that mermaid, am I?" Kanako easily recognized the skinny man as Hori Private's second baseman, who once used the term "Why so shy, Sugapie?" at their last game together.

"Nope!" A husky voice came from behind. The boys in the door frame parted way for the team's captain, pitcher, and, as Kanako deemed him, king to show his face to the shy shortstop. "Well, well, well. Fancy meetin' you here, little Mita. What business do you have at the big, scary, Hori Private?"

Kanako's face went red as she pictured Yano behind rose-tinted frames. His baseball jersey was worn over bare skin, rather than an undershirt as always. A few buttons were undone, exposing the muscles of his chest and the hair that covered them. He stood up a bit less than straight, leaning slightly against the doorframe to peer down at her. There was nothing stereotypically perfect about him, but Kanako stared at him in awe, as if he really was a king. In a matter of seconds, however, she looked down at her hands and bowed slightly. "I was wondering if I could talk to you, Mr. Yano."

"Skip the formalities, babe," Yano smirked, holding up his hand. "Yano's just fine." He took her by the hand, surprising her a bit, and walked her into the club house. Kanako started to get scared as she could feel every hungry eye of every Hori Private teammate on her, peering into her. She did not want this. All she wanted to do was talk to Yano. He stopped at one point. "So, sweet thing," he started, turning her to face him, "whadya need to talk about?"

Her blush intensified. "Well, actually," she spoke, breaking eye contact, "I was hoping we could talk in private."

Yano shook his head. "No can do, princess," he refused. "Anything I know, the whole gang has to know. I ain't hidin' anything from them. So, if you're gonna say something to me, you might as well say it in front of everyone. If not, you might as well run along back to daddy."

Kanako tensed, her gut clenched. She did not want to have to tell the entire team when it only had to do with Yano. She did not feel as if anyone else needed to become involved, especially anyone as scary as the other boys. However, she could do nothing. She took in a deep breath and searched her mind for words. "Would you –" she started, fumbling to find the easiest way to tell him. "Would you –" She bit back tears and embarrassment, trying to get everything out in one easy question. She quickly locked eyes with his and let out everything. "Yano, would you like to be my boyfriend?"

The smirk on Yano's face disappeared as shock consumed his expression. The other boys around him started to snicker and laugh at her question, believing this was all a big joke. "You…can't be serious…" Yano whispered, still in a state of surprise.

"I'm not kidding," Kanako confirmed, continuing to blush. "You've appeared in my dreams almost every night. I used to look at you and see nothing but a terrifying boy from a rival team, but not anymore. I know everyone else would be telling me to stop these feelings and like a different boy, and I know it's a strange concept that I, a student at the most prestigious girls' high school, would have such strong feelings for you. But I do have feelings for you, and I would like to prove those girls wrong about you. So please, would you like to go out with me?"

The expression on Yano's face did not change. He remained in a state of shock that was unable to be broken. Why would someone as innocent and young as Kanako Mita want to be with someone as rugged and terrifying as him? Nothing made sense, but as he looked into her pleading eyes behind those large frames, he knew she was genuine. He had to admit, he was not used to girls being genuine.

The boys around him, on the other hand, continued to snicker and laugh, much to Yano's annoyance. He turned around quickly, ordering them all to be quiet. He shifted back to Kanako, trying to give her a hint of a smile before speaking again. "Wow, you're actually pretty serious aren't ya? This would be your first relationship, wouldn't it?"

Kanako nodded. "Yes. Not the first time I've had feelings for someone, let alone someone like you, but it would be the first legitimate relationship."

Yano closed his eyes, swearing under his breath. "Right. I'm gonna talk to my boys for a bit. You just wait right here, little one." He flashed her a smile before ordering the boys to follow him out of the club house. "Make yourself comfortable! Take a load off your shoulders for once!" he told her as he left the building.

By the time the boys got to the field, Yano's mood turned serious. They made sure they were far enough from Kanako, so she could not hear a single part of the conversation. He turned to the others, who were still laughing at the whole situation. "Alright, assholes, listen up," he began. "I'm usually on top of things, but shit, I have no idea what to do."

"My advice?" a boy with shaggy red hair came in. "Fuck her. There are other girls on that team that got more to offer. Himuro, for example! Hot, good at everything, and spunky? She's fucking perfect!"

"I mean, I'm happy it's not Hotta that's askin' ya, dude," Isao started, "But I agree – there's nothin' really that great about Mita. She's kinda boring."

"Just don't take Nene, okay, Yano?" Maruko piped in.

"Shut up!" Yano barked. "It's not the fact that she's plain that I'm worried about. It's the fact that she's the team's goody-goody. You know what'll happen if I invest in this relationship. Morimura will chew my ass off." He crossed his arms over his chest. "Besides, you know who her dad is."

"The chairperson? Isn't that Himuro?"

"No, dumbass," Yano retorted. "Mita's the principal's kid. Which is just as bad as if she was the chairperson's kid. You really think someone with his power would want his precious little girl to spend her first relationship with one of us? Especially after the previous game?"

"Wait, Yano," Maruko interrupted, "you wanna be in a relationship with Mita? She seems a little shy for you. Wouldn't Morimura be a better match because she's all angry and feisty and shit?"

"First off," Yano responded, "Morimura's a lez, isn't that obvious? Secondly, Mita and I already had a bit of an encounter last night. If you guys were in my spot, you wouldn't mind being able to say you got some from a Kisaragi girl, right?" Snickers were heard around the circle. They all knew Yano was right. "Besides, she's really not that bad. She's got more curves than Hayakawa or Hotta."

Isao jumped at the sound of the latter name. "Hey now, Yano, don't knock Hotta. Have you seen that ass? I mean, damn."

Out of nowhere, the manager of the team stepped in. "Y'know, this whole thing isn't as bad as you guys think it is. Yano, you don't need to hesitate at all, just go for it."

Yano raised an eyebrow, immediately picking up that there was nothing innocent about his encouragement. "Alright, Ken, what's the plan?"

Ken smirked. "You've already gotten Mita out of her element once. Just tell her you'll date her as long as she can find a way around Pops, and, by the time the prelims roll around and we have to go against them and shit, we'll have the whole team in our trap. And then, all we have to look forward to is Koshien."

Yano was still skeptical. "I don't see how this is helping us at all, Ken," he told the blond. "This isn't about Koshien – this is about me trying not to destroy the most innocent person on the team, even though I have to say no."

"You're not gonna say no," Ken retorted. "Say yes, date her, and we'll beat them in the long run. It's not like you're gonna stay with her the entire ride, are you?"

"Psh, of course not!" Yano answered.

"Then, this should work out," Ken stated. "Just think about it, bro. Lead her on for a bit, then break her heart right at prelims. Everything will be perfect from there on out."

Yano stood there silently as Ken explained the plan. Everything made sense, but he had to wonder, was Ken being too harsh? Everything seemed to be too nasty, too much of a cheat. But in the end, did Yano want to have a relationship with a Kisaragi girl get in the way of his team's dreams of getting to Koshien? Especially when he did not even truly like her?

In a matter of minutes, the boys returned to the clubhouse. Kanako sat patiently on the couch, nervous about the captain's answer. Yano walked up to her, slowly sitting down next to her. He draped his arm around Kanako's shoulders, bringing her into him, forcing her to face a warm smirk on his face.

"Here's the thing, sweetheart," Yano started, watching lumps form in Kanako's throat as she expected the worst. "If you can find a way to see me all the time without daddy and the other broads finding out, I'll date ya. Promise."

Kanako's eyes lit up at the sound of Yano's request. "Really? You will? You want to be my –"

"Yeah, why not? We had fun last night anyway." Yano's grin widened, causing Kanako's insides to go insane. She thanked him profusely, promising to find a way around the others as soon as possible.

After a while, Yano took Kanako to the gates of Hori Private where a taxi awaited her. Yano had called and paid for a cab to take Kanako home as the sun had set completely, and it had arrived just in time. She got into the cab, telling the driver to take her home before leaning out the window to say her goodbyes to Yano.

"I promise," she started, a smile on her face, "I'll figure something out."

Yano smiled back. "I know you will. You're the brains of the group." He then leaned in, placing his hand behind her head, and kissed her softly. She melted into the kiss, slightly pushing herself closer to the brute until they parted. "Goodnight, Little Mita," he bid farewell, hitting the cab as it drove away from the school.

As he disappeared in the distance, Kanako sank into her seat with a big smile on her face. Finally, she could have that Cinderella story that Ryo and Mao both had. Maybe it was more like Beauty and the Beast, but in the long run, Kanako was finally getting what she wanted. Whether it was good or not was completely irrelevant.

She got home relatively late, or at least late enough for Principal Mita to chastise her for being home later than anticipated. She thoroughly apologized for her tardiness, claiming she would never arrive home late again, before disappearing to her room. She knew her father would forgive her – she was only late once in her life.

She sat in her room, wondering what she could possibly do to get around her father and the team. She could not skip practice or else everyone would catch on. She could not skip class or else everyone would catch on. She realized she could not be seen past her curfew, especially if other girls were out and about, as she could be recognized and reported to her father or anyone else. However, if she could not figure out a way, she would not be able to be with Yano. At this stage of her realization, she was not about to let that happen.


She stopped what she was doing at the sound of her name being called by a familiar female voice. She turned around to see no one else in her room, realizing it was a hallucination of some sort and went back to her prior engagement with the Physics textbook.


She turned again, still seeing no one behind her. She got up to look outside to see if the other girls were just merely playing jokes on her like they did Hikaru the night before, but no one was around. The bushes beneath her window were still, the area free of anyone.


The third call had Kanako's attention directed at the bookcase. She slowly made her way to a giant blue book, pulling it from the middle shelf. At that point, everything clicked in her mind. No one was there. She was all by herself. The voice she was hearing was all in her head, trying to escape the cut out pages of an old medical dictionary. She took the heavy book to her bed, extremely scared of opening it. She had not opened the book since the Rinkai High game. She meant to have it closed for the rest of her life. In fact, she was shocked she never burned the book. However, things were making sense. Perhaps, there was a reason why she kept the book. Perhaps there was a reason it was calling her name.

She took off her glasses and set them on the bed beside her before opening the giant book. Looking straight in the mirror, she placed the shaggy green wig, which she found in the pages of the book, on her head. After blinking a few times, she saw her reflection smile.

"Why, hello, Kana, dear," the woman before her spoke. "It's been a while, hasn't it?"