Mahou Sensei Negima and all related elements and characters are the property and creation of Ken Akamatsu, and the author of this humble piece has made no material profit from it, and never will do.
Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and all its characters belong to Kumeta Koji.
Mai Hime and all its characters belong to Sunrise.
Batman and all related elements and characters belong to DC Comics.
All other characters mentioned also belong to their respective copyright holders.
A huge, huge, huge, huge, huge, huge, and I mean huge, new thank you to Shadow Crystal Mage, for polishing this chapter excellently and adding the Omakes at the very end. I love you, man! In the Internet brotherly way, of course.
Any non-parodic, non-totally safe similarity between the characters and events featured or mentioned in this story and anyone or anything ever actually seen in real life is a pure coincidence. No joke.
Attention, readers! This is intended to be the most over the top chapter yet, before we temporarily move to (somewhat) more serious waters. With everything that involves.
Ogro: Thanks for the very insightful review. This chapter was already mostly done before I could take your points in consideration, but rest assured this probably will be the single most crossover heavy chapter up until Mahorafest. I thought it was needed to add to the larger scope feeling of Expanded Mahora, and also, frankly, I hate the 'Two Teachers School' trope. Concerning the Kyoto Arc, trust me, I madly want to get there, too. Just give me a few more chapters of world set building first, please. As for the Yuri teasing… well, it'll never go away, but you'll also see more hetero teasing soon as well. (And maybe some Ho Yay as well, for those who are into it. Maybe. I'm listening to everyone's opinions on the matter).
Everyone else who has reviewed, and those who vote in the poll: Thank you from the bottom of my soul.
If anyone manages to identify all, or the majority of, the cameos and Easter Eggs in this chapter, they'll get a honor mention next time.
UNEQUALLY RATIONAL AND EMOTIONAL-CHAPTER NINETEEN.
A few days after, the weather had cleared up again, at least enough to allow most of the students to freely play outside.
Class 2-C was having one of its usual innocent paintball shootouts near the lake. Like always, it all was fun and games until Tsukamoto Tenma almost lost an eye.
Class 2-E was having a baseball game between Suzumiya's small faction and basically everyone else at the classroom, and against all odds, or perhaps not knowing her reputation, Suzumiya was winning the game almost single handedly.
High School Class 1-C was supposed to be on a picnic, although Chad had just wandered away to feed stray kitties with Chachamaru and Sasaki-san from Yukari-sensei's class. Ishida hadn't even shown up to begin with. Chizuru had scared half of her female classmates away already, and Rukia and Ichigo had just left with a lame excuse involving an inexistent shared cousin falling into a cement mixer.
Again, Class 2-A's activities were one of the relatively scarce spots of normality around. And that was something horribly scary in and of itself.
The four girls known as the Sports Quartet were happily playing volleyball apart from any bothersome interlopers.
"In the air!" Akashi Yuuna said as she sent the ball flying up again.
"Got it!" the shorthaired Izumi Ako intercepted it, sending it in the direction of a pink haired classmate. "All yours, Makie!"
"Yeah!" Sasaki Makie hit the ball towards the tallest one of the four. "Say, guys... Now the term's ending, do you think Negi-kun will teach us again next year?"
"Who knows?" Akira calmly said, sending the ball back to Yuuna. "I wouldn't mind."
"Yeah, things have been much more entertaining since he's here." The chocolate haired girl served over to Ako.
The assistant nurse stopped for a moment to catch her breath back, holding the ball between her hands. "He's... He's truly doing his best at it," she said with clear admiration. "Sometimes I feel bad when we just do whatever we want. What if we get him into trouble?"
Yuuna winked an eye at her. "Don't be such a worrywart! This school's a piece of cake, actually. Even a chicken could teach here. Oh, good morning, Boo-sensei!" she greeted as she suddenly noticed a teacher passing by next to them.
"Bu-kawwk!" the teacher saluted back with his strange foreign accent before walking away into the distance.
"Yeah, but Negi-sensei's still only ten years old," Makie giggled nervously. "Smart as he is, do you really think he can help me pass the final test?"
"Yep, and unlike Takahata-sensei, we can't ask him adult questions," Yuuna chuckled. "We might as well just have to teach him about that stuff!"
"Iincho and Misa seem intent to, anyway," Akira observed.
"You guys are terrible," Ako sent the ball for Makie.
"I'd like to be his big sis!" the pink haired gymnast sighed dreamingly. "And I'd hug him to sleep, and tell him stories, and— Oops!" the ball flew past her in her distraction. "Sorry!"
"Keep your head on your shoulders, 'Sis'!" Yuuna teased her.
"Geez, don't be so mean!" Makie complained while running after the ball. "I might be very good at it, you know. I mean, if it's simple enough for Hakase to do…"
Then someone else picked the ball up for her. Makie stopped before that person. "Ahhh, thanks for picking it up!"
But that person didn't give the ball back. She and those behind her only looked at the quartet, before the newcomers' lead simply barked a brief and serious, "Sisters? Don't make us laugh. We can clearly guess your true improper, deviant intentions!"
Makie gasped, backing away. "W-Wait, now I remember you! You are—!"
"Oh crapola," Yuuna clenched her teeth.
Ako felt like fainting again.
Headmaster Konoe stood up while all the gathered teachers waited in expectant, respectful silence. All but Kuroi-sensei, who was too busy with her PSP, Hanyuu-sensei, who was flipping through an issue of Teen Heartbreak Magazine, and Yukari-sensei, who sat with her head hanging down and tiny Zs escaping her mouth.
"For the last point of our meeting," the old man said, after a brief fit of dry coughing, "I wish to remind everyone that, until our final tests for this term are finished, all extracurricular and club activities will be suspended, to grant our students more time to prepare themselves. I suggest you all to encourage them to devote as much of their time as they can to it, and not waste time on silly things like writing fanfiction about that boy wizard. That being said, I'm glad to announce the overall academic performance of our students has greatly improved during this term. I congratulate you all on your achievements."
He seemed to pause to regain his breath, then continued just as solemnly, "Now I shall grant you the deserved reward for your continuous efforts." All teachers, even the normally calm and collected Takamichi, perked up with sudden glint in their eyes, "Your term-end bonuses!"
Now that suddenly snapped Yukari-sensei out of her hibernation. "DEBT COVERAGE!"
Konoemon sighed and decided to start with her. "Tanizaki Yukari-sensei, Spanish," he held an envelope up.
The pretty brown haired snatched it away with a radiant expression. "My life is SAVED!"
"Are the loan sharks closing in again?" Itoshiki-sensei asked.
Yukari nodded. "They've started leaving threatening notes at the door. Even saying they'll kidnap Nyamo..."
The young athletic teacher sitting next to her rubbed her temples. "Why did I have to be your best and only friend?"
"Kurosawa Minamo-sensei, Swimming Coach" the principal handed her envelope to her. The cute woman's eyes shone until she saw the amount of her payment. "... Why did I get less than Yukari?"
Yukari looked aside, seeming offended. "The nerve of you! Don't tell me you already forgot what you did to the pool!"
"No, wait, that was your fault!" Kurosawa-sensei protested.
"You can't prove anything!" Yukari squirmed around nervously.
"Fujisawa Masamichi-sensei, Track and Field Coach," Konoemon did their best to ignore them, turning to a lanky, badly shaved man with unruly black hair and a long, unremarkable face.
"Try not to blow it all in booze, Fuji!" Yukari mocked him.
"I'd never do such a thing!" Fujisawa claimed.
"What a horrible liar! You're already smelling of liquor, and it's only nine o'clock!" Tanizaki insisted.
"I-It's just my cologne!" the man lied rather badly.
"You should stop drinking your cologne then. It's supposed to be used on your skin," Midori-sensei remarked, triggering several different degrees of laughter from the other teachers, from Takamichi's held back chuckles to Yukari's crass guffaws. Even Konoemon chuckled under his breath. Only Negi sat in confused silence, Itoshiki was too jaded to feel anything, and Fujisawa simply muttered in embarrassment.
"Oh, what will we do with you... Sugiura Midori-sensei, World History," the dean gave her the envelope. The busty young redhead smiled while the tiny green parakeet on her right shoulder flapped its wings around. "I know you'll give it a good use."
"You still saving for that trip to America?" Yukari asked her.
"What is it to you?" Midori scoffed at her.
"Hanyuu Mimi-sensei, Biology," Konoemon walked over to the wavy haired blonde with thick round glasses. She still was submerged into her reading. "Ahem. Hanyuu Mimi-sensei, Biology."
"Yeah?" Hanyuu-sensei mechanically asked.
"Your term-end bonus," Konoe patiently explained.
"Um, yeah," she extended a hand. "Thanks. You're a dearie. Yeah."
"That's no way to— Oh, forget it!" another woman with glasses, this one a few years older, taller and bustier, with short dark brown hair, began to scold her only to hold herself back. "Ohh, forget it! There's no point on talking to you!"
"Ririko Kagome-sensei, Math," Konoemon offered her an envelope next. She expressed her thanks with a deep bowing of her head.
"Nekonome Shizuka-sensei, Social Studies," a third pretty woman with glasses, this one also with golden hair hat fell to her shoulders, received the bonus with a contented catlike smile.
The rather long list went on.
"Takahata Takamichi-sensei, Art..."
"Thank you, Konoe-sensei."
"Itoshiki Nozomu-sensei, Classic Literature..."
"Money? Money doesn't make happiness! I should know! I grew up surrounded by luxury, and yet my life has been nothing but a long string of—"
Koenoemon reached to take the check back. "Well, if you don't want it..."
"... On second thought, I'll take it."
"Kuroi Nanako-sensei, Japanese History."
"... I take it my petition to get paid in points for the Animate stores was rejected?"
"Yes," Konoemon simply said before moving on, "Aoki Daisuke, Elementary 3-A Homeroom Teacher..."
"Konoemon-sensei," the young man helplessly pleaded, "About my petition to be moved to a class with older, less creepily forward students...?"
If he heard him, Konoe gave no signs of acknowledging it. "Shirai Sae-sensei, Elementary 3-B Homeroom Teacher..."
The stern looking black haired woman with glasses thanked in a way similar to Ririko Kagome's.
"Mido Miko, Sex Education…"
"Ah, could you, ah please put it on the table…?" the purple-haired teacher said, eyes half-lidded, hands nowhere to be seen.
"Boo Welker-sensei, Ornithology..."
Shirai-sensei leaned into Aoki and whispered in a conspirative way into his ear, "I still think he's a chicken... A giant chicken..."
Aoki-sensei blinked, nodded stiffly, and then warily, slowly, backed apart from her.
After going past Nitta-sensei, Kimura-sensei, Jinroku-sensei, Fujimura Taiga-sensei and a few others I won't be as cruel as to list here one by one, Konoemon finally walked to Negi's side.
The old man gave him two pats on a shoulder. "As the youngest member of our facility, you have proven yourself as someone with skills and determination far beyond their age. I believe you have, in the short amount of time you've been with us, more than earned a heartfelt congratulation from all of us."
The other teachers stood up and clapped their hands for him, even Yukari, Nitta and Itoshiki. While it lasted, Negi's eyes watered up. "Everyone... Thank you so very much..."
"However..." Konoemon cautioned.
"... What?" Negi blinked.
"There is something I'm afraid I must request from you to allow you full time membership as a permanent part of this facility for the next term," the old man seriously cautioned.
"Eh?" Negi helplessly babbled, feeling an ill omen about it.
The Dean's words still weighed heavily on Negi's mind as he walked out of the meeting room with Itoshiki.
"If a single one of them fails at the test, I won't be allowed to stay..." he mumbled, shambling ahead like a broken shell of a boy. Itoshiki had never thought he'd see the day when himself would look relatively calm and contented while walking at the child's side. It didn't feel right at all. It was like someone had stuck the 110 volt universe into the 220volt socket. He looked around nervously, afraid he'd suddenly start sexually attracting geriatrics.
"A certainly unexpected turn of events, but I'm sure the Headmaster does have his reasons," the adult exposed. "So far, all your activities here, other than the fight against the immortal sorceress who nearly took your life and damned your soul to an eternity of service to darkness, posed no challenge at all, and a mage's life is filled with maddening responsibilities beyond the ken of any normal man. But don't worry, I'm sure you'll succeed at this task."
"Thank you, Itoshiki-sensei," Negi honestly said.
"Otherwise, you won't be charged with even worse burdens later on," Nozomu completed.
"You have quite a strange notion of optimism," the boy teacher observed.
"The reward for work well done is more work," the older man quoted, proving he was, in fact, actually a literature teacher.
As they walked out into the open, Negi was pretty much tackled by a bawling Makie. "Negi-senseiiiii! We're being attacked! Save us, pleaseeee!" She held a hand up. "Look, they even hurt me! I got a boo-boo!"
Nozomu sighed. "Acting younger than him won't make him look any better, Sasaki-kun!"
Makie sniffed, then pointed an accusing finger at him. "You shouldn't talk! This is all YOUR fault, Despair-sensei!"
"MINE?-!" the man gasped. "I have an iron-clad alibi! And women are always the ones hitting on me! You can't prove anything! I know a good lawyer! Well, point in fact, I know Kimura, and she knows the lawyers, but still…"
Negi gulped, examining the nearly-microscopic wound on Makie's hand. "Who did this to you, Sasaki-san?"
"A horrible heartless monster!" she cried. "A brutal beast! A cruel machine of destruction who ran all over us! We never had a chance!"
"Ah. You mean Kitsu-san," Nozomu coolly understood.
Makie sobbed, then nodded just once.
Near there, Kitsu Chiri sneezed and rubbed her nose. "Maybe the weather's still too cold?"
"You think so?" Kafuka blinked, standing at her side and currently holding the ball. "I feel just wonderful! Surely the goosebumps prickling across my skin as my teeth want to chatter is merely my body's way of celebrating the seasons!"
"Give that ball back! It's ours, and so is this place!" Yuuna complained while the much taller, much blonder Kimura Kaere easily held her back with only a hand put over the area between her chest and her neck.
"I don't remember you ever claiming exclusive rights over this sector of campus, Akashi-san!" Chiri sternly lectured. "Furthermore, we used this area long before you even graduated from elementary school! It's just natural for us to have priority right to it!"
"Please, don't fight..." Ako weakly pleaded. "I, for one, am willing to leave if I must..."
"AKO!" another voice called out. "Don't even think of giving them the pleasure!"
The girls loooked back to see Asuna arriving the scene, closely followed by Ayaka, Konoka, Haruna, Yue, Nodoka and Kazumi.
"I'll handle this, Asuna-san," the blond heiress stepped forward. "Kitsu-san! From one Class Rep to another, I demand an explanation on this!"
"But Chiri-chan isn't our Class Rep..." Hitou Nami pointed from the back of the 2-F group, although no one paid her any attention, much less Chiri herself.
"Your friends have been hogging our old playground, and we have need of it!" Kitsu shouted back. "The only proper thing for you all to do is stepping back for your Sempais!"
"Says who?" Asuna barked. "They were here before, weren't they? First come, first serve!"
"We served ourselves three years before you!" Kaere exclaimed. "We could sue you over you disrespect of our seniority privileges!"
Ayaka put a hand next to her mouth and laughed. "OH, HO HO HO! Of course, I had forgotten! Silly us! We shouldn't abuse fragile, senile senior citizens like you!"
Two perfectly symmetrical veins popped up on Chiri's wide forehead. "What have you just said, you decadent arrogant aristocrat?"
Asuna looked over at the librarians. "What did she just mean by that?"
"Stuck up rich bitch," Haruna translated.
Baka Red blinked a few times. "Oh. Not like I don't agree with that, but still—"
"ASUNA-SAN!" Ayaka yelled. "WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?"
"Can I make up a side without you in it?"
By the time Makie led Negi and Nozomu there, things had escalated into a full-on war in progress, with pretty much all of the school watching at the sidelines.
"Catfight! Catfight! Rip your clothes off! There's some mud over there! Kitsu-sempai, dunk them in there!" Honsho Chizuru whistled madly. Next to her, Orihime exhaled deeply, wishing for Rukia and her pacifier punch to be there.
"Excuse us, please!" Negi pushed his way past a group of boys taking pictures. "And put those cameras down, please! I mean it!" He eventually made it to where Munakata Shiho stood up fuming angrily. "Munakata-san, what's the situation?"
"Ah, Sensei! Those awful high school girls are pushing your students around! Even Mana Onee-sama has been involved!" the redheaded short girl noticed him. "I wanted to help, but she told me to stay back!"
The tall boy with blondish hair and thick brown sideburns standing next to her snorted, with his hands in his pockets. "She can defend herself, Shiho. You'd only be in her way..."
"That's a cruel thing to say, Tate Onii-chan!" the girl cried, her four pigtails flailing around like the (supposed) snakes on Medusa's head. "Negi-sensei, save your students!"
"Of course!" he strode ahead without waiting any further, despite Makie and Itoshiki's unheard warnings.
Tate Yuuichi looked down at Shiho and mumbled. "Man, why did you push him into doing that? He's just a kid! They'll eat him alive!"
Shiho huffed, looking aside. "It's his duty, like it or not!"
Makie pushed Nozomu ahead. "It's your duty, too! So honor it, okay?"
He still tried to resist. "But I believe on allowing youth to express itself no matter what! Plus, I'm sure our insurance will cover all injuries!"
Meanwhile, Negi was already separating Chiri and Ayaka from pulling each other's hair off, much to the disappointment of a large sector of the public. "Enough! E-Enough, I say!" he tried to sound firm. "This is no way for young ladies to behave themselves! You're going to stop right now!"
"Negi-sensei!" Ayaka blushed, immediately stopping. "I... I'm sorry about this, but these vandals were offending and threatening our classmates! And they simply do not understand reason!"
"You were the ones who stole our rights to use these grounds, relegating us to those near the kindergarten!" Chiri accused, pointing a finger at 2-A. "Do you have any idea of how annoying it is, to practice SERIOUS SPORTS next to a classroom of pre schoolers?-! The creepy one with bells in her hair and the blonde one were competing to see whose swimsuit could seduce their teacher!"
"Hey, we aren't kindergarteners!" a small child with stupidly long blond hair shrieked from the crowd. "We're in third grade! And we don't enjoy playing next to you, either!"
The even tinier pale girl with long black hair at her left nodded while suggestively sucking her lollipop, creeping out all males in sight. "You tell 'em, Rin-chan..."
"It's... It's all my fault!" Kaga Ai wailed.
"No, it isn't!" Nami told her. "Chiri's right, 2-A abuses its connections!"
Asuna narrowed her eyes. "What are you implying with that?"
"Well, Konoe-san's grandpa is the Dean, and Akashi-san's dad is a teacher," Tsunetsuki Matoi calmly took a brief moment off from stalking her latest crush. "We're only saying what no one else dares to; you guys seem to take a lot of breaks too often..."
"You even are the protagonists of this story!" Kafuka pointed out.
A sudden blunt silence fell all over the school.
Two crows passed by flying and cawing way above Kafuka's head, and only when they were gone, everyone began to move again.
"... But you guys have taken a lot of protagonism away from us too... Hell, I once was the absolute protagonist, now I'm lucky when I get a cameo..." Asuna mumbled under her breath before exploding, "Anyway, you can't throw those accusations around so lightly!"
"Yeah, take it back, you buncha freaks!" Yuuna said.
"Akashi-san! Language!" Negi replied.
"Sorry sensei. Take it back, you group of genetically mutated nocturnal cannibalistic cave-dwelling sociopaths!"
"No, we demand satisfaction!" Chiri stood her ground. "Only four of you were using this place, and all of us needed it!" She gestured around towards the whole rest of her class, all of whom nodded in agreement, even Ai. "The needs of the collective must impose themselves upon the needs of a few!"
"Actually, I do believe they have a point there, Negi-sensei," Itoshiki intervened.
"You should! You're their organ grinder, after all!" Yuuna growled.
"... Have you just called us monkeys?" the soft spoken Okusa Manami asked, perplexed.
"¡Implicaciones Desafortunadas!" a short, healthy and energetic black haired girl with deeply dark skin and no shoes jumped up.
"Maria-chan's right!" Kaere nodded. "We'll sue!"
"Oh, for the love of—!" Chao slapped a hand on her own face.
"No one will sue anyone!" Negi insisted. "Desist and forget this nonsense, everyone, or we'll be forced to enact some serious authority measures!"
"In other words... we'll call on Takahata-sensei!" Itoshiki explained.
Then a loud female laugh startled everyone. "OH, HO HO HO HO!"
Asuna shot Ayaka a glare. "This isn't a moment to laugh, dumbass!"
Her rival growled back. "It wasn't me, you dolt!"
"I know that voice..." Kazumi blinked.
"HO HO HO HO! How pitiful of two so-called teachers!" Like the Red Sea splitting to allow the Hebrews to pass, so the crowd split fearfully to allow a tall, very busty blonde with way long gold hair and sharp blue eyes to wander in, closely followed by a mousy looking short younger girl with glasses, short brown hair and no curves, holding a pen and notebook in her hands.
"It's Suzushiro Haruka-sempai, the Vice President of the Student Council, and her assistant Yukino-sempai!" Kazumi helpfully expositioned to Negi.
"Just what we needed..." Ayaka muttered between clenched teeth.
Negi noticed her discomfort quickly. "Why doesn't Iincho-san like her?" he asked Asakura.
The red-haired reporter winked an eye at him. "Sensei, you ever heard about being so much like someone else you can't help but hating that person?"
"... No," he admitted. Harry Potter didn't count. He wasn't a real person.
Kazumi shrugged. "Well, you're about to see it now, then..."
The big breasted blonde stopped before both arguing parties, fists balled up at her wide hips.
"In the name of the Mahora Student Council, I, Suzushiro Haruka, have come to stop this felly!" she loudly proclaimed.
"The right term is 'folly', Haruka-chan, " the girl behind her told her, in a very low and submissive voice eerily reminiscing of Nodoka's.
Not paying her any attention, the Vice President went on, "What shame upon the good name of this Academy! I expected better even from 2-A and 2-F! Tell me, who started this?"
"THEY DID!" Chiri and Ayaka pointed at once at each other.
Meanwhile, Chisame was just arriving with Hakase, approaching Negi slowly. "Sensei? What's the problem this time?"
"You wanted to steal our old dodgeball training spot away," the tall and heavily bandaged Kobushi Abiru told her.
"What?" Chisame's mouth twitched. "I don't even play dodgeball!"
"That's the perfect excuse, though, isn't it?" Abiru countered.
"And I wasn't even here!"
"That only makes it even more conveniently perfect..."
Haruka perked an ear up. "Dodgeball?"
"Actually, we were playing volleyball," Akira said.
"But we wanted to play dodgeball!" Chiri exclaimed.
"So this is all because of a game of ball?" Haruka rubbed her chin. "How frivolous, but I figure we also can put your misguided sports spirit to good use..."
"I don't like that sudden spark in your eyes. It always speaks of doom and incoming misery for all those involved," Ayaka snorted.
"Maybe we still can escape," Yue opined.
Oblivious to everyone else, Haruka raised an index finger up. "We shall solve these long standing differences between classes with a healthy match of the sport in question!"
"We're going to play volleyball against them?" Asuna blinked.
Haruka scratched herself on a cheek, thinking it over. "Mmmmmm... Nah, perhaps dodgeball would be better. It'd help you to vent your primal, base frustrations out a lot better!" She snapped her fingers. "Yukino!"
"Yes, Haruka-chan?" her secretary rushed to her side.
"Book me this area for tomorrow at this same hour! Also, call Jinnai-san and tell him to secure enough budget for an impromptu event!" She tightened a fist and held it up. "This has potential! Through an encounter between classes destined to be bitter rivals, but joined up by the power of sportmanshionip, we'll inspire all the student body to excel at their respective fields, lifting their spirits like never before!"
"I believe the word you were looking for is 'sportsmanship', Haruka-chan, " Yukino meekly pointed out.
"Girls playing dodgeball!" a nearby boy shouted.
"In short shorts!" another one added.
"My spirit's already up, and it's not alone!" a third one completed.
"... Pigs," Itoshiki muttered, then told Haruka, "Suzushiro-kun, wouldn't it be better if we just arrange a usage schedule between both classes?"
"Sensei, you weren't able to settle this down before, why should we expect for you to do it now?" the student authority figure told him rather curtly.
Nozomu's jaw hung down, then he quickly moved away to crouch down into a Corner of Woe. "You... You're right. I have utterly failed at my educative goal..."
"I'm all for it!" Chiri nodded with vigor. "It's time we taught you juniors to respect your upperclassmen!"
"Says you!" Asuna shouted back. "But yeah, we'll take it! You're going to fall hard, grannies!"
"YAY, GAME!" Kafuka and Konoka cheered at once with their nearly identical voices.
"Asuna, no!" Makie gasped. "I know how does this go! It's like in TV comedies! Now they'll try to get us into a bet, and they'll say they'll pull Negi-kun apart from us to teach them if we lose! And we'll have to suffer through a lot of comical hijinks to win!"
All of 2-F, minus the always baffled Ai, looked harshly at her.
"... Why would we do such a stupid thing? TEACHING ARRANGEMENTS DON'T WORK THAT WAY!" Kaere yelled, not noticing how the breeze randomly blew past her, toying with her short skirt and giving the nearby boys and Honsho Chizuru a brief peek of her strawberry imprinted panties.
"And besides, he already teaches us two English classes a week, " Nami coldly reminded 2-A.
"And we aren't disgusting pedophiles like the whole lot of you, " Chiri made a sickened face.
"HEY, HEY!" Asuna yelled.
"... I am very sorry," Chiri quickly amended. "We aren't disgusting pedophiles like the whole lot of you but the old man chaser." She soon became conscious of an evil look being pointed at her, but couldn't pinpoint from where. Setsuna continue to glare daggers at her.
"That's it!" Asuna had to be restrained by Kaede and Ku from behind, as she kicked and trashed. "As if you're one to talk! We all know you like Despair-sensei! Hypocrite! Flat-chested old maid!"
Now it was Chiri who had to be restrained by Kaere and Abiru. "Who are you calling flat chested?-! If I didn't know you're clinically insane, I'd give you the ultimate punishment!"
"WHY ARE YOU CALLING ME INSANE, YOU FANATIC NUT?-!"
"NO ONE IN HER RIGHT MIND WEARS BELLS IN HER HAIR!"
From the sidelines, Haruka fumed in anger. "YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO STOP THIS AT ONCE!"
Negi sat down next to her, along Chisame, both their heads slumping down.
"Welcome to my world, Suzushiro-san..." he sighed.
"I was going to ask for more details about what's happened here, but on second thought, forget it," Hasegawa mumbled.
As the girls around them bickered and shouted to each other, Yue and Nodoka noticed Haruna was oddly quiet and yet nervous. She squirmed uneasily in place, trying to avoid eye contact with 2-F. Even the two hair antennae on the top of her head were hanging unusually down.
"Haruna, are you feeling ill or something?" Yue asked her.
"Eh?" the mangaka looked at her. "Why should I be?"
"You haven't made a single sarcastic comment since this started," Nodoka pointed out.
"Yeah, and you haven't sexually harassed any of the sempais," the other librarian added.
Haruna chuckled rather falsely. "C'mon, girls! Surely you can't have such a low opinion of me...!"
"Yes, we do," Yue and Nodoka chorused.
"There's nothing wrong with me, really!" the black haired beauty protested. "It's just I don't think this match is such a hot idea!"
Even the rest of 2-A paused and took notice.
"Are you passing on a chance to have a pointless, childish match against someone else?" Mana asked her.
"And to see girls in sport shorts?" Chizuru questioned.
"And to get references for your sports manga?" Kazumi completed.
The artist looked, for once, just begging for everyone to draw attention away from her. "W-Well, now you put it that way, never mind... It's just..."
"Are you afraid of taking on a challenge, Paru-chan?" a confident voice called from the ranks of 2-F.
Haruna shuddered as the curvy, smiling figure of another girl with black hair and glasses strode ahead. Her hair was shorter than hers, and her eyes were sharper and less rounded, with an unique controlled foxiness to them compared to Haruna's habitual rampant exuberance.
The girl smirked knowingly. "That's very unlike you, Paru-chan. Disappointing, too. What happened to that old Saotome spirit you always boast about so much? Your Dad would be disappointed, don't you think?"
Haruna sweated bucket-loads now, biting her lower lip. "Like Hell I'm worried, Fujiyoshi-sempai, but..."
"Fujiyoshi?" Ako jolted up in place. "Like in 'Fujiyoshi Harumi'?"
"The Ace of All Sports?" Natsumi grew concerned. "The girl who rejected memberships from all sports clubs... just because they bored her?"
"She once swam laps with our club, and none of us could catch up to her," Akira's voice mildly cracked.
"Coach Fujisawa tried to recruit her for our track team. She's a freakin' beast!" Misora bit her fingernails. "I don't want to ever be at the opposite side of a court versus that woman!"
"She scares Haruna!" Fumika hugged Fuuka.
"She can't be human!" Fuuka hugged her twin back, both small girls weeping and looking for support on each other.
"Is she really that good?" Negi asked Kazumi.
The reporter nodded solemnly. "Pretty much all of 2-F is rather good at sports. And Fujiyoshi-sempai is the best of them all by far. Not only that, but she's the Vice President of the Mahora Manga Club. She says that's her true vocation..."
Harumi snickered. "Yeah, it was me who induced Paru-chan into our fascinating subculture. Before meeting me, she couldn't even tell the uke from the seme..."
"What does that mean?" Negi asked.
Chisame covered his ears. "YOU'RE MUCH BETTER OFF NOT KNOWING!"
Haruna's head hung low in shame. "My image... My precious public image cruelly shattered..."
Another tall and shapely older student, with long black hair and surrounded by her own girl posse, warned 2-A in a low, jaded tone, "You're insane if you think you have any chance against those hideous beasts in a game. We used to be the champions of the Mahora dodgeball circuit until we faced them." Then she sobbed in a loud, theatrical way, "Since that bitter day, the Black Lilies of St. Ursula have never been the same!"
"Calm down, please, Eiko-chan!" one of her friends consoled her.
"Please, someone get her pills!" another one of her classmates called out.
Negi gulped, and most of his students quickly followed suit.
Only Asuna was fully unimpressed, crossing her arms and chuckling. "Do you think that scares us?"
"Yes!" Misora said.
"A lot!" Fumika cried.
"I'm too young to die!" Natsumi pleaded.
"I haven't even kissed a boy yet!" Ako confessed.
"Silence!" Asuna hushed them. "With which face will we, umm, face the rest of the school if we back away from these weirdoes' challenge!-? Are we women, or mice? The first one to say 'mice' gets this in the face!" she held a fist up.
Nodoka, Natsumi, the twins, Misora and Ako quickly closed their mouths shut.
"For once, Asuna-san is right!" Ayaka regained her fighting spirit. "Girls, if we stand together, we won't fall to such uncouth opponents! Trust your Iincho! I shall guide you to victory in the name of Negi-sensei!"
Tsunetsuki Matoi giggled. "Love for such a small fry won't lead you anywhere! My first boyfriend was a professional dodgeball player! Twice a national champion! He taught me all he knows on the sport!"
"Matoi-chan has picked up a lot of great talents from all her boyfriends!" Kafuka piped in cheerfully. "Origami mastery! Whack-A-Mole playing! Expert gardening! Crosswords solving! Rhinoceros taming! Dub acting! Kabuki acting! Cat Dog trivia! Motorcycle repairing! Crack Fic writing!"
Matoi nodded proudly. "The power of my Deep Love has left me a mistress of a thousand disciplines!"
"She dated a fanfic writer?" Even Satsuki was repressing a face of disgust at that.
"Some people just have no standards!" Ayaka was feeling ill.
"It was Shadow Crystal Mage!" Matoi said proudly, as if this was a declaration of pedigree.
There was silence.
"I'm trying to figure out who did more damage to who…" Chisame said.
That night, for the first time since Christmas, Negi sleepwalked into Chisame's bed. And that time, she had been awake to see him actually doing it, stumbling around until he fell on his face right next to her.
She didn't have the will to kick actually him out. Yep, she'd better save her energy for the massacre she would have to suffer through the day after. Why had she allowed Asuna to sign her in for that game? She'd even enlisted Hakase... now that had to be desperation at work. Hakase hadn't seemed to actually mind... but then again, she was Hakase Satomi. Odds were she didn't even understand the full gravity of the situation.
Then Chisame felt someone else snuggling her from behind.
"Oh, so now you have nightmares, too," she grumbled, although still keeping her voice low, as the sleeping Satomi rested her chin on her back, her scrawny arms embracing her midsection while Negi made himself comfortable against Chisame's front. "It's a huge conspiracy..."
She noticed Chamo looking at them with beady shiny eyes from his underwear drawer, and then she threatened him with a few very unladylike hand gestures. Quickly getting the clue, the ermine slammed the drawer closed, locking himself up in his own silky paradise.
The hacker sighed loudly.
At the very least, she thought while managing to fall asleep, it wasn't such a bad way to spend her final night.
"Sakurako-chan… not yet… I'm not ready…" Hakase muttered in her sleep. "Eh? You too Negi-sensei? And Chisame as well? Well, if you all really want…"
Chisame tried to smother her with the pillow.
The next day, as soon as the exits bell rang, almost all of Mahora poured itself down around the chosen court. Chisame had never seen, out of graduations and start of term ceremonies, so many students and even teachers gathered at a single place, even though it was partially because she never had been one to assist reunions.
"Sausages-in-a-bun! Get 'em while they're hot!" someone cried.
Satsuki picked up her phone. Hello, Mana…?
"Now I know how did Louis the XVI felt when they were bringing him to the guillotine," Chisame bitterly mused as she walked along Negi, Hakase, Asuna, Konoka and Ayaka to join the rest of the 2-A team.
"Oh, stop being so damn negative!" Asuna chided her. "We'll do most of the job. All you really must do is avoiding being hit; we'll take care of everything else."
"Why is Sensei on the team as well?" Hakase asked.
Konoka shrugged. "Kafuka-sempai insisted on allowing us to have 22 players against their 11, even when her whole class opposed her. She said it was to give us something to counter their experience edge. Somehow, she ended up imposing her will even upon Kitsu-sempai's..."
"Heh, that girl is an idiot," Asuna snickered. "There's no way we can lose with that much of an advantage in numbers. We have this in the bag!"
"Anyway, to complete the 22, we needed to include Negi-kun, since several of the girls didn't want to play..." Konoka finished.
Sitting at the nearby sidelines, Kaede looked at Setsuna, as the Narutaki twins ate cotton candy at her other side. "Don't you think maybe we should have helped them...?"
The swordsgirl sagely shook her head. "Our special talents must not be wasted on such frivolities. And it'd be a dishonor to the weaker students if we abused them," she coolly looked at the 2-F roster.
"And besides," Mana observed, "From here, you can get a much better view of Konoka's ass..."
Setsuna's right eyebrow twitched just a bit. "That is not... relevant to the topic at hand."
Shiho clutched on to Mana's sleeve, looking up at her with adoring eyes. "Onee-sama, are you sure you don't wish to help your classmates at all...?"
"Iincho refused to meet my price," Tatsumiya coldly replied.
Sitting at the other side of Shiho, Tate Yuuichi choked on his can of Pepsi. "Yukihiro Ayaka couldn't meet your price?-!"
Mana looked at him dismissively. "How much do you think it would take for ME to stand THERE, exposing myself to everyone LIKE THAT?"
The older boy cringed, getting the idea. "... Not even Lex Luthor could pay that."
"No. No, he couldn't," Mana agreed.
Sitting on a very tall arbiter's chair overlooking the whole court, all clad in white with an eyeshade visor on, Suzushiro Haruka fanned herself. The loyal Yukino sat on a much lower chair at her left, receiving and sending messages via cellphone and laptop without pause.
"Jinnai-sempai says he's sold twice as many expected tickets, Haruka-chan," she informed. "He sounds rather excited about it, actually..."
That horrible laughter of his was still ringing in her ears.
"We all should be!" Haruka smiled proudly. "This is one of my best ideas ever! With this, we'll be able to fund so many initiatives for the wellbeing of the student body, I'll be elected President of the Student Council for the next term, no doubt! That'll teach that irresponsible, Bubuzuke Shizuru she shouldn't slack so much and leave all the weight of her duties on me!"
"You'll be carrying even more weight then, Haruka-chan," Yukino stated at that.
"I don't care!" the blonde said. "I love my job! I love responsibilities! It's just it unnerves me how Bubuzuke takes advantage of that to bask on her glory without doing anything herself!" She fumed, then casually asked, "By the way, Yukino, remind me... what does Bubuzuke mean, again?"
"Rice served with tea. You had really forgotten it...?"
"HO HO HO HO!" Haruka laughed. "That term is perfect for that poor hedonist woman!"
Meanwhile, three 13 year-old female students had taken their places at the commentary box. One of them, an impossibly cute blonde with huge bubbly blue eyes, her hair made up in twin tails, adjusted her microphone before greeting the public with her best cheerful voice, "Good afternoon, Mahora! Welcome to this very special exhibition dodgeball match between two of the most... uhhh... popular classes at our Academy! I'm Goutokuji Miyako, and I'll be one of your three guest commentators today!"
A rain of cheers and applauses fell all over her, and Miyako giggled cutely before the girl sitting at her side, an athletic tomboy with green eyes and short black hair, passed a hand over her own face and reluctantly talked into her microphone, "Yeah, well, I'm, um, Matsubara Kaoru, and I guess I'll be narrating today too, although I feel so horribly outta place here. But I like sports and I lost a bet, so here I am, and what can I do about it now?"
"WE LOVE YOU, KAORU-SAMA!" a whole club of her fangirls yelled from a disturbingly huge chunk of the audience.
"Wow, Kaoru-san, you really are popu-" Miyako began.
The tomboy silenced her with a gesture. "You'd better stop right there, Sis."
The final member of the trio, a redhead with long hair and a big red bow on top of it, took her chance to announce with gigantic enthusiasm, "And I'm Akatsutsumi Momoko! I'll tell you all, play by play, everything there's to be known about this match between Class 2-A, guided by the all too cute for words Negi-sensei, and Class 2-F, led by the coldly handsome and ohhh-so-bishie Itoshiki-sensei! Isn't that just wonderful?"
She stopped there, hoping to get as much applause as her partners, but only a deadly indifferent silence met her words.
Momoko froze as she clearly could hear two crickets and a bull frog on the background.
Finally, she buried her face between her hands. "Why can't I be popular like you guys...?"
"You're a dork," Kaoru curtly summed up.
"I'm sure you'll get your moment, Momoko-san..." Miyako sympathetically patted her back. She held up a small plastic hoop on a stick and a bottle of liquid. "Wanna play with my bubbles?"
Itoshiki sat at a summer table (never mind the fact it was still technically winter, even if a rather benign and warm one) under a large umbrella along with the President of the (Absurdly Powerful, of course) Student Council, holding a half empty (it never was half full with him) lemonade glass in a hand.
"Fujino-san?" he distantly asked.
"Yes, Sensei?" the student asked, with her good natured thick Kyoto accent and one of her perpetual relaxed smiles.
"My head is aching. Would you mind if I pulled some of my pills out?"
"Sensei, you aren't going to attempt poisoning again, are you?" she asked him.
"What gave you that idea?"
Fujino Shizuru calmed poured herself a cup of tea. "Well, other than the fact it's... you, people normally doesn't ask for others' permission before taking a pill against headache. And your pill case has a big skull and crossbones on it."
He slumped his head down. "I'd have been rude, to drop dead before you without getting some kind of permission beforehand."
"Denied," the girl flatly said.
Nozomu sighed and leaned back on his chair. "If they win, they'll be boasting for weeks. If they lose, they'll be angry for weeks... There are no happy alternative!"
"How about a draw?" Shizuru asked.
"Half the class will be boasting, the other half will be angry, and they all will fight for weeks. It's the worst thing that could happen to me, so naturally, it will happen," he hid his face between his bony hands.
Kuga Natsuki pushed her way past Mana, Shiho and Tate on her straight (or not) path to Shizuru's side. "Let me pass, Slave-kun," she coldly asked the boy, all but stepping over him.
"Go bite a raw cable, Kuga," the boy muttered, although still giving her free way. "You can't call me that just because I'm an assistant for the Student Council..."
"You're not even their glorified slave," the fair skinned, black haired young woman walked past them, not looking back.
Shiho stuck her tongue out to her. "Frigid bitch!"
"I heard that," Natsuki said, her right hand tightening just a bit into a fist, but still not looking back.
"I hoped so," the small redhead huffed.
Sighing in exasperation, Natsuki sat down next to Fujino. The president offered her a cup of tea. "Been busy lately?"
"Like always," the younger student quietly accepted the cup. "Despair-sensei? Shouldn't you be closer to your students?"
"I assume you attempt to jest," Itoshiki crossed his arms.
"Me? Perish the thought," Natsuki began sipping her tea.
Back to the 2-A benches, Satsuki had installed a mini-food stand, and naturally, hungry students swarmed all around her, although always keeping a respectful distance. Chachamaru stood near, launching a few fireworks from her back and high up into the sky. Sitting at her right, Evangeline covered her sensible ears, muttering, "There must be one million better ways to spend an afternoon... like going to the dentist… Wait, I really do need to go to the dentist! Damn! Chachamaru! Remind me!"
Even Ayaka's maids had come to witness the game, setting a mini-picnic near the court. They all looked relaxed enough, except for Roberta, who remained silent and mostly motionless, but kept on polishing a knife over and over in a rather disturbing and slightly masturbatory fashion while her cold dead eyes were fixed on the 2-F roster.
Finally, both sides took their positions at their respective ends of the court. Yukino shyly stepped between Team Captain Kagurazaka and Team Captain Kistu, holding the ball between her hands. "Now, before we start, I must ask you... Are you perfectly aware of, and content with, Haruka-chan, I mean, Vice President Suzushiro, being the arbiter for this game, and obeying all her rulings on its outcome?"
Asuna gave Haruka a worried look. "Her? Does that eccentric know the first thing about dodgeball?"
"How rude!" Haruka shouted. "I'll let you know I memorized the entire manual on the sport at age seven!"
"Have you re-read it ever since?" Chiri doubted.
"HO HO HO HO!" Haruka half-covered her mouth with a hand. "What need do I have for it? I have a perfect photographic memory! Now stop questioning our honesty and kickstart that ball, Kunemitsu-san!"
"M-My name is Kitsu!" Chiri yelled at her.
Negi's spirits sunk down again. It was going to be a very long afternoon.
Komori Kiri and Aisaka Sayo sat before the large windows of High School Classroom 2-F, a large plate with cookies and a thermos full with juice between them. Kiri normally disliked even looking outside, but the occasion was special enough to move her to actually try it, even if the sun hurt her eyes, forcing her to hold a hand over them to make it somewhat more bearable.
"Why can't our classmates be friendlier to each other?" Sayo exhaled sadly.
"Yes," the shut-in quietly nodded. "You're right, they seem to have an unnecessary competitive streak against each other. Thank God we know better, Sayo-chan."
"Yeah!" the ghost smiled brightly. "Maybe this game will bring them closer, though!"
"I hope so," Kiri commented. "I have the feeling many of them will be forced to co exist for a few weeks at the hospital after this is over."
"You're scary at times, Kiri-chan," Sayo giggled, then sighed dreamily. "Ahhh! Negi-sensei looks so dashing in those sport shorts!"
"Negi-sensei is boyishly cute, but he can't compare to Itoshiki-sensei, though," Komori's gaze wandered over to the lanky adult sitting with Shizuru and Natsuki. "Ah, he is so mature when he isn't throwing a childish tantrum over the unfairness of life... So tall and delicate, yet driven and manly... And that voice..."
Sayo pouted. "Negi-sensei still is much more handsome."
Kiri pouted back. "He can't even shave yet."
"Shaving? Shaving is icky. And overrated."
"No, it's masculine. And sexy."
"Are... are you saying Negi-sensei isn't masculine?"
"Well, he still has a girl's voice..."
They both suddenly stared daggers at each other, before turning around in their separate directions with twin indignant huffs.
Down below, as the game was about to start, the silver haired leader of Ayaka's maids was instructing three young girls in cheerleading outfits as they took their places next to the court.
"Very well now, girls," the tall busty woman clapped her hands softly, smiling sweetly at them. "In the forced absence of 2-A's cheerleading squad, Ojou-sama has seen fit to trust your experience to guide their spirits to victory. Don't strain yourselves beyond your limits; we understand you are still very young, and it's a very hot day. However, please keep in mind, your payment will ultimately depend on the result your cheers will have on the final score 2-A gets."
The little girl with short light brown hair at the middle of the trio blinked at her. "We're going to get paid, Fubuki-san?"
The girl with darker brown hair and glasses next to her looked at the third cheerleader. "Chiharu-chan, you never mentioned we'd get paid!"
The questioned girl laughed uncomfortably. "Ah, ha ha ha! Sorry, Naoko! I wanted it to be a surprise to you!"
Naoko narrowed her eyes. "When were you going to tell us about it?"
Chiharu opened her mouth, but no sound came out of it.
"You're trying to think of a good enough excuse, aren't you?" the first cheerleader asked her.
Chiharu laughed again. "Only the best excuses for my best friends...!"
Meanwhile, a girl with long silky black hair and very pale doll-like skin filmed every angle of the cheerleader with light brown hair with a hideously expensive portable camera, sighing lovingly as she did so. "You look so cute in that outfit, Sakura-chan...! But it needs a few more ribbons, and maybe a shorter skirt... and the cleavage should be a few couple inches lower... and..."
Roberta looked over at Taeko, Siesta and Fabiola. "I still think we should have acted as their cheerleading squad..."
"Absolutely not!" Fubuki-san called out sternly. "Remember what happened at the sled race last year!-? Our lawyers still are sorting it out!"
As a single woman, all 22 2-A students on the court took their positions right before Haruka blew on the starting whistle. Negi took his assigned place as well, swallowing and focusing his mind and soul, clearing all doubts away. Having fear would never solve anything. He had to walk away from his past, to embrace a brighter future where his father, no doubt, would be waiting for him, standing tall and proud of him.
Just as he was proud of his students. They all were there, supporting each other to some degree or another. Like sisters, together despite their vast differences, making his heart to beat so fast, filling him with an odd wonderful joy he never had felt before...
Yeah, it was just pride. For real. The contentment of a good teacher over his pupils' courage. The fact they were all beautiful girls in tight shorts had nothing to do with it.
Honest. It's Negi we're talking about here. He has less libido than Takamachi Nanoha, for crying out loud!
Still, they were his girls. No matter what, he would stand by them. He would pass the Principal's challenge and continue teaching them. He'd do anything for them, and he was pretty sure they all, in turn, even Evangeline, would do anything for him if needed. That had to be the strong emotional link between master and disciple the Merdiana Dean always told him about. And it felt simply excellent.
Ahhhhh, it made him so happy...
Then Chiri shouted, "First one to go!" and the ball hit him straight in the face, knocking his glasses out and bouncing away, only to be quickly intercepted in mid-air by Asuna.
"I got it!" the redhead shouted, then angrily barked at him, "Don't daydream, Onion-head! You're still in, but I won't save your butt a second time!"
"Guuuuuu..." his voice gurgled, as he wobbled in place with his eyes made into spirals.
"Hey, you okay?" Chisame asked him.
"I still can fight, General..." he muttered, his head jerking aside for no good reason. "Just give me a horse and a new blade! For King Arthur and Camelot!"
"How many fingers am I holding here?" Yuuna held four fingers before his face.
"Six!" he said.
Yuuna gave him a thumbs up. "Close enough! You're still good to go!"
Chisame wondered what had she done in a past life to deserve being there. She ignored the visions of a Xebec anime flashing before her eyes.
Asuna huffed. Insane as she was, Kitsu really knew what she was doing! Merciless and to the point, hitting at the weakest link of the chain first. Well, she knew how to play that game, too!
She hit the ball hard, sending it zooming through the air towards the smallest member of Class 2-F. The petite girl with her black hair made into two big thick pigtails. Otonashi Meru readied herself bravely to stop the strike, her dark eyes sparkling with determination...
Until the cellphone hanging from her waist rang. Without even wasting a single second, she picked it up in the spot... and instantly got a ball on the face for her trouble.
"Alright!" Sakurako cried gleefully as the ball dropped down to the court's floor. "I had bet on one of them being the first to fall!"
Negi recovered part of his senses. "Betting on sports is illegal at this Academy!"
Chiri walked over to Meru, who, even on her hands and knees, had her mind only on her cellphone, desperately looking at it. "Otonashi-san..." the taller girl growled threateningly, but then Meru simply looked up at her with adorable tearful eyes, showing her the phone. "You got a wrong number? YOU GOT YOURSELF ELIMINATED BECAUSE OF A SIMPLE DAMNED WRONG NUMBER?-!"
At her food stand, Satsuki closed her own cellphone with a perfectly innocent, just slightly distressed, expression on her soft rounded features.
"Oops," she slowly said. "I only intended to call for more bowls. How did I end up dialing Otonashi-sempai's number?" she wondered.
Fuuka and Fumika stared at her.
"Satsuki-chan, since everyone at this Academy is your client, you got almost all our numbers, don't you?" Fuuka asked.
"What were the odds of dialing exactly her number right now?" Fumika added. "By accident?"
Satsuki merely looked innocent. "I must have been a freak million to one chance."
They both grinned at her and chorused, "You're awesome, Satsuki-chan!"
"My, my, I have no idea what do you mean by that..." the chef politely denied. But in truth, you couldn't be Chao Lingshen's roommate for so long without picking a few tricks up along the way.
"Well done, Asuna!" Yuuna high-fived Baka Red. "I knew we could count on you!"
"Ha ha, well, we aren't out of the woods yet..." Kagurazaka reminded her, although still basking on her glory.
"Just remember, don't lose your nerve!" Ayaka instructed. "These brutes are all pure mouth and reputation! Keep your wits on and we'll win for sure!"
"Ahhh, it's so moving to see such a confident and well-knit team!" Kafuka openly smiled, skipping a few steps ahead playfully, with the ball in her hands. She sounded honestly happy about it too, with no hints of malice or irony in her voice. Then she slightly stumbled and the ball went shot high up and ahead, out of her hands. "Ooops!"
The ball made a perfect arcing trajectory way above the heads of the 2-A students, then fell down zooming towards the back, where most of the weakest, less athletic players were.
"Ahhhh, it's gonna hit me!" Natsumi cried.
"Asuna, catch it for me!" Madoka tried to backpedal, only to tumble into Chizuru's buxom body. The ball hit her squarely on the head, then bounced into Naba's breasts, and from them it sprang straight into Natsumi's face.
"What a play!" Momoko called out. "Kafuka-sempai has put three rivals out of commission with a single serve, and she wasn't even trying!"
"Always knew there was a lot of bad things involved with being a cow..." Kaoru snorted while leaning ahead in boredom, resting her face on her hands. "They'd only have lost two players if not for those ridiculous airbags..."
"Why didn't you guys DOOOOODGE?-!" Ayaka angrily screamed at the three casualties. "Or, you know, try to HIT THE BALL BACK?-!"
"It went too fast for me to catch! It might have broken my hands!" Natsumi protested.
"I tried to dodge, but Chizuru was on the way!" Madoka claimed.
"I couldn't move anywhere! Chisame-san was in my way!" Chizuru said.
"I tried to give you room to move, but Asakura blocked my way!" Hasegawa said in turn.
"We're too crowded here! None of us can move freely anywhere!" Kazumi realized.
Evangeline crossed her legs and lazily glanced at Kafuka, who was laughing dumbly as her classmates congratulated her. "That girl... she was the one to suggest 2-A should play with the double of players than usual, wasn't she?"
"Indeed, she was," Chachamaru replied. "Why?"
Eva chuckled evilly. "Those fools were so tempted with an apparent free edge they forgot to look below the surface. That girl knew perfectly what she was doing, and tricked them easily. Innocent as she may seem, I can feel she has the darkest heart of all of Despair's students."
"You still have much to learn, Chachamaru," the immortal spoke calmly.
A few steps away, Tate grumbled, "I already have counted like three major irregularities in this game, and we're only five minutes into it."
"Yeah, I though hitting on the face wasn't allowed, for starters, " Shiho nodded, now clinging to him while looking at the court with disapproval.
Mana leaned back indifferently. "It'll help them all to forge character."
"You're awfully aloof about your classmates' luck," Tate told her. "Not playing is one thing, but you could at least try to cheer for them."
The mercenary closed her eyes. "I wasn't paid enough for that either."
"A pity," Shiho sighed, "The cheerleading outfit would've looked so nice on you..."
There was a brief silence, then she clung harder to Tate. "Onii-chan! Time to reaffirm my heterosexuality!"
He groaned and shook his head. "Yeah, yeah, I know that's pretty much my whole role in this life..."
The ball had just returned to 2-F's side, after a failed attempt by Yuuna to hit Chiri. The order maniac, in turn, had just handed it over to Harumi, who briefly grinned while setting her sights on a very specific target.
"Paru-chan!" she called out.
Haruna instinctively assumed a defense position. "... What?"
"Show me that old spark you used to have," the older Yaoi fangirl asked. "The one you had when we met, before you grew lazy and comfortable. That spirit you had when you were a novice fresh off your old man's dojo!"
Haruna grimaced. "Fujiyoshi-sempai, I don't want to be that person anymore."
The older girl exhaled. "Paru-chan. I appreciate you as a friend and follower. I really do. However! The fire, the passion of creation has died along with your old fighting spirit! You slack off on your deadlines! You bask on the basest feelings of your heart, and have forgotten both the true path of the mangaka and that of the athlete! Today, I intend for you to remember that, one way or another!"
"Haruna? An athlete?" Ku Fei asked.
"You've gotta be kidding," Makie pouted. "The most athlete she has on her would be athlete's foot…"
Yue and Nodoka just flinched uncomfortably while turning their eyes towards the third librarian, waiting for her reaction. Haruna just stood in place with an annoyed, antsy expression, and was totally wordless for once.
Yukino looked up at Haruka. "Haruka-chan, hasn't Fujiyoshi-san been holding that ball for far too long now...?"
But Haruka was just ignoring her, sniffing proud manly (for a female) tears of hot blooded enthusiasm. "It's beautiful...! A friend trying to rekindle her old comrade's battle soul, pitted in tense combat against each other! Just like an old school sports anime!"
Yukino sighed very sadly and sank her head down. "Okay, so we'll let it slip..."
Harumi slowly lifted the ball high. "It would seem you need..."
She carefully, with the grace of a majestic warrior of the ball court, allowed her calm and focused eyes to wander towards Nodoka. The shy girl instantly jerked back and let out a short shriek, as Yue gasped, and her targeter completed her sentence in an almost casual way,
"... something to spur your old self back into being."
And then the sphere flew straight for the smaller girl, whose feet suddenly seemed rooted to the ground, scared out of her wits.
"Asuna!" Ako screamed. "Save her!"
Asuna bolted for her, trying her best to get to her in time, but she knew she wouldn't make it to the other side of their court in such few instants. However, before the ball cut impact on Nodoka, there was a shout coming from her left, and an arm jerked aside to block the incoming projectile.
"SAOTOME SHIELDING TECHNIQUE!"
Yue swallowed and Nodoka breathed in and out deeply as Haruna panted, keeping the ball firmly between her hands. "Damn, but I'm rusty... Nodo-chan, you okay?"
"Ahh... Ah-hah..." Nodoka nodded erratically.
"Alright," Haruna took aim. "I'm getting serious, Fujiyoshi-sempai! You want to mess with my friends? Then I don't mind if I pay you in the same coin! And don't forget this all is the fault of..."
She abruptly pointed at another one of the adversaries, "... You! Kaga Ai!"
"M-Me?-!" the guilt complex student sweated profusely. "Oh dear! You're right! I'm sorry! I'm sorry! So sorry! I knew I should have avoided this!" she started to bow in apology, her mania taking over. "I haven't done anything for my team, either! I have—"
Then Haruna just tossed the ball at her. "SAOTOME GUILT EXPLOITING SUCKER SPIKE!"
It hit Ai in the chest, knocking the wind out of her.
"She's out!" Miyako declared. "In a new shocking development, Saotome-sempai has just found a hidden strange strength inside of herself!"
Harumi smirked knowingly. "Yes, yes, that's it. Much better!" she challenged. "Now that's the Paru-chan I want to see!"
Ai rolled on the floor, whimpering. "I'm sorry... I should've known this would happen..."
Chiri icily looked down at her. "If you were going to be dead weight anyway, getting yourself eliminated is the best thing you could do."
Haruna huffed, assuming a new, more determined stance. "Nodoka, Yue, behind me! I'll protect you to the end!"
"Are you sure, Haruna?" Yue dubiously asked. "There's a good reason why you—"
Paru nodded. "I'll be okay. When haven't I? C'mon, just trust me for this once!"
"Now and always, Haruna..." Nodoka proudly answered.
Misora glanced at Ku Fei. "Hey, you room with her. You got any idea what she's doing now?"
Baka Yellow turned her face to the sister in training, showing her eyes had become solid black circles. "... Aru?" Then she blinked back to normal. "To be honest, I think I recognize that stance, but... It couldn't be... No, there's no way she could have learned it..."
Kaoru tapped on her microphone with restless fingers. "What's with all this talking and exposition in the middle of a freakin' game? What's coming next, they'll power up and have a five minutes long transformation sequence for each?"
"Kaoru-san!" Miyako squealed.
"That'd be SO AWESOME!" Momoko completed.
The tomboyish commentator ran her short fingernails all over the mike. "God, give me strength..."
Five Years Ago
Haruna had sat down at the small river's edge after stomping away from her new room, huffing and puffing to herself. She took her shoes off and cooled her feet in the slow running water, mumbling under her breath and crossing her arms over her knees.
She always had been a happy child, until recently.
She pushed the large thick glasses up her nose bridge, finding them bothersome and too heavy for her liking.
The thick eye-browed girl looked into the distance for a long while, unusually quiet and contemplative, until she saw another girl, around two years older than her, sitting several feet away from her, silently sketching on a large drawing pad, her fingers skillfully tracing line after line with nervous, yet elegant vivacity.
That other girl was very pretty, and Haruna thought, unlike her, she looked good with her glasses on, but then again, they were much smaller glasses.
Even then, Haruna was never one to respect anyone's personal space, so she quickly walked over to her, peeking over her shoulders. "Hey, hey. Whatcha doing there?"
Unlike everyone else she ever bothered, the older girl didn't react by trying to hide what she was doing or shooing Haruna away. She only continued what she was doing, answering with an even, indifferent tone, "I'm drawing Yaoi."
"What's Yaoi?" Haruna asked the words that would change her life forever. "Those two boys are really cute..."
"Thank you," the taller girl calmly said.
"... but why are they kissing?"
The strange artist girl stopped her work and smiled up at her. "Doesn't this disgust you?"
"Why? They're very pretty."
"Yeah," the artist tapped with her pen on her sheet thoughtfully. "But everyone tells me I'm too young for this."
"You draw very well. I like drawing, too, but Mom and Dad say it's a waste of my time..."
"Drawing is never a waste of time!" the 11-years old huffed indignantly. "Someday, I'll be a very famous mangaka, and I'll be rich and everyone will admire me!"
"Can I be your assistant?" Haruna's eyes sparkled.
The older girl huffed in her face. "No. I don't even know you."
"My name's Haruna!" she introduced herself, then remembered what her dad always told her and posed dramatically. "Saotome Haruna!"
The stranger made an unappreciative face, but the enthusiasm painted on the little girl's expression finally won her over. "I'm Fujiyoshi Harumi."
"Glad to meet you, Harumi-chan!" she smiled very widely. Then she sat down at her side. "So, can I help you?"
Harumi grumbled in mild annoyance before ripping a page out and handing it over to her along with another pencil. "First, show me what can you do."
"Okay!" she put hands to work, and in less than two minutes flat, she was showing the results to her newfound friend. "So, how's this?"
Harumi scowled. "You need to improve a lot."
Then, looking at the disappointed visage of the smaller child, she hastily added, "It'll take me a lot of time to teach you."
Haruna's eyes lit up again. "You'll really teach me?"
"Ehh, you recognized my genius, so you must have some talent of your own..."
"Oh, thank you, thank you!" she hugged her. "You're the coolest!"
"You hardly know me!" she pushed her aside. "So, you really sure you want to do this?"
"Yeah. Mom only wants me to grow up to marry a rich man, and Dad only wants me to grow up to marry a strong fighter to inherit the Dojo..."
A fine eyebrow, so unlike her big ones, was arched up. "Your Dad owns a Dojo? That's interesting. Maybe we could use it for reference."
"Reference for what?"
"Silly, don't you see it? Martial arts manga are all the rage nowadays, and Dojos are always full with muscled handsome boys!"
"Dad's Dojo is almost always empty. That's why Mom wants me to marry into money."
"Aren't you too young for that?"
She shrugged. "They say they were engaged when they only were children."
"That's barbaric," Harumi grimaced. "Wait, if they're so down on their luck, how could they send you here?"
Haruna smirked again, deviously. "Mom has a lot of ways to get her will done."
Haruna had started to lazily sketch as well. "I don't know if I ever will marry."
"Why?" Harumi joked. "Don't like boys?"
"Boys...?" the other child paused, pondering it with a small goofy grin. "Yes, I think I do. But I also like girls."
"What?" Harumi blinked several quick times.
The younger girl giggled. "Daddy doesn't like that! But he's kinda dumb, so he thought they could cure me at an all girls school!"
Harumi stared in confusion for a few moments, but then laughed it out. "He's not very smart, is he! That's like making someone hate chocolate by giving them as much chocolate as they want! You're really a case, Haruna-chan!"
They said some wicked genius was needed to become a successful mangaka.
And she was starting to think that kid had at least the wicked part all done up.
Back in the present…
A perfect throw from Kimura Kaere had just sent Misa out of the game.
"Wow! A perfect throw from Kimura Kaere-sempai has just left Kakizaki Misa-sempai out of the game!" Momoko expositioned into her microphone, growing fonder and fonder of her new role. "2-F starts to apply some major pressure on 2-A! Looks like the gloves are finally coming off!"
Ayaka caught the ball and tossed it back to the enemy field. "It'll take more than this to defeat us!"
However, her toss was easily intercepted by a sempai with very short black hair and deeply disturbing, evil looking dark eyes.
"Mitama Mayo-sempai has taken hold of the ball!" Miyako cried out. "The enigmatic Mayo-sempai rarely speaks with anyone! Some say there's an evil presence about her! Others say no one who looks THAT mean can be really mean! Either way, there's no way to know what she could do next!"
"Amateur," Zazie quietly muttered from where she sat feeding the birds. Everything is going according to plan…
Itoshiki scratched his head uncomfortably. "The fact my class is comprised of monsters doesn't give them the right to label them as such!"
Mayo elegantly volleyed the ball up, then made a direct bulls-eye for Kazumi as the other girl attempted to avoid it; as the reporter did so, she stumbled into Yuuna, making the ball to hit her as well.
"Are we players or domino pieces now?" Asuna complained. "Damn it, guys!"
"We're still too overcrowded!" Makie whined.
"Yeah, well, at this rate, we won't be very soon," Chisame grumbled. "Any new bright ideas, Team Captain?"
"I'm thinking!-!-!" Asuna and Ayaka said at the same time, then stared at each other.
"I'm the Captain!" Ayaka stated.
"Says who?-!" Asuna objected. "I'm far better at sports than you!"
"Leadership requires far more than brute strength! We need a thinker and planner, someone who can keep a keen eye on the game!"
"The only things you have kept your eyes on are the brat's legs!"
"LEAVE NEGI-SENSEI'S SEXY LEGS OUT OF THIS!"
In the meanTIME, Ku Fei simply grabbed the ball and rather crassly spiked it into the figure of one Oora Kanako.
"Kanako-chan!" Nami cried, in a perfectly normal reaction.
"Ahhh, it's okay, I don't mind..." the always contented girl with an orange bow on her hair spoke calmly, in a slightly spaced out, satisfied voice. "What matters is I had fun while it lasted..."
"She's insane," Chiri gruffed.
"Most definitely," Matoi nodded in agreement.
Somewhere above, crows flew by crying "Aho! Aho!"
The always energetic Maria picked the ball up and ran across the court with it like a frantic little monkey, her always bare sweaty feet slapping noisily against the ground, until she jumped up high and threw aiming for Negi. "¡La Clavada de la Muerte de Maria!"
Negi took it straight in the noggin again, making him to stumble around just as Akira picked the ball right in time to avoid him getting disqualified.
"Damn, Sensei, not again!" Chisame complained. "You're going to get lasting brain damage!"
"Anya, sorry, I didn't know you were showering..." he gurgled. "I swear I barely saw anything... No, that doesn't mean you have nothing of a figure at all... No, Anya, put that candlestick down now, please... Ooh, pretty colors…"
Four Years Ago
"What do you mean by that? Are you going to leave us?" Harumi's always pleasant and self-confident voice was betrayed by a sudden pinch of uneasiness.
Haruna was quick to wave her hands around, shaking her head. "Oh, no, no! Of course I won't! The fact I'm going to join the Library Exploration Club doesn't mean I'll abandon our Nakama! I'll only have to take a few hours off each week..."
"You're already behind on your deadlines as it is," Harumi lectured her. "You're a very fast learner, but that's worth nothing if you don't put enough effort into what you're doing!"
"Ah ha ha, yeah, sorry..." Haruna laughed goofily, scratching the back of her neck. "Say, I haven't introduced you to my new friends yet, have I?" She called out for the two tiny girls waiting at the room's door, each one seemingly trying to hide behind the other. "Hey, Yuecchi! Nodo-chan! This is Harumi-chan, the Club's Vice-president!"
"H-H-H-Hello!" Nodoka stammered very nervously.
Yue simply bowed her head a few millimeters, never stopping sipping from her pomegranate juice box.
Harumi shot an annoyed gaze towards them, as the other two younger girls behind *her* perked up in curiosity. "Yeah, yeah, pleased to meet you too. Paru, we need you here giving us your best! We just recruited Hiyori-chan and Patty-chan here, and I can't teach them all the ropes while handling everything else I've been up to as well!"
"Relax, Sempai!" Haruna had flashed that annoying, yet oh so beautiful smile she always used when she wanted a rise out of her. "The Club President said it'd be okay! I can multi-task! I promise I'll put more effort into it to compensate! I'll help with the newbies, too!"
"You already consulted with Amano-sempai?" Harumi groaned, deflating a bit. "Why didn't you ask me first? I'm your immediate superior! You can't jump over ranks just like that!"
"Sorry..." Saotome dragged a foot along. "It's just I really wanted to do that, too. I also love books without pictures, you know..."
Harumi breathed out and turned around on her chair. "If the Club President has given you her blessing, nothing I can do about it, right? Go and enjoy yourself."
"You don't have to get angry over it..." Haruna said.
"I'm not angry."
"You sound like it."
"Why should I be?"
"You really sure about it?"
Haruna began walking towards the door. "Let's go then, Yuecchi, Nodo-chan! Konoka will be glad to hear this! And good afternoon for you all, guys!"
"Bye bye!" the brown haired, bespectacled Hiyori waved away at them.
"Have very good after-noon!" the blond, tall and short haired Patricia added in her still very broken Japanese.
Harumi huffed and turned back to her drawing board after the door was closed from the outside. "Slacker."
"What's so funny?" Fujiyoshi coldly asked her.
"Lover spats always very cute!" Patty joined the giggling.
Harumi reached over for a ruler and hit the foreigner over the head with it. "That's it, smartass. Just for that, I'll charge you with three more pages for this Wednesday."
"What? That no fair!" Patricia protested.
"One more protest, and I'll task you with drawing the adaptation of that Shadow Crystal Mage fanfic!" her sempai threatened.
"... I'll shut up and get to work!" Patty offered with a terrified gulp.
Hiyori coughed. "Um, which one?"
"Just asking… sheesh…"
Chao Lingshen actually felt like yawning.
She had been here, played this stupid game dozens of times now.
The opposing team changed sometimes, although it usually was the Black Lillies. But it had ranged from Ohtori Academy's dodgeball club to Class 2-E to everything in between. Hell, they once had played against a visiting team of Xavier Academy's best. Now that had been a hard game. Almost as bad as the time they had a match wit the H.I.V.E. Academy.
Now, however, she felt mostly bored. It was like going through the motions of a joke played several times, over and over. Not even a particularly funny joke. The only thing keeping her from cutting loose and owning the whole other team by herself was her need to hide her true abilities, but it was tempting, to just finish the farce then and there.
She half-heartedly blocked a throw sent her way, then absently tossed it back at 2-F's side, managing to hit Hitou Nami despite her lack of trying. Naturally, it was normal for someone with that much skill to succeed that easily.
Boring, boring, boring.
Matoi picked the ball next and apparently had revenge in her mind, since she immediately aimed and tossed at Chao's weakest point.
As the ball zoomed through the air towards her with a soft whooshing sound, Satomi couldn't help but briefly marvel at the aerodynamic properties and high speed achieved by such a vulgar, seemingly obtuse object. Maybe she should try making a ball shaped robot next, if she managed to survive the impact. Her mind quickly began to run through calculations of the damage to her cranial structure the projectile would cause, based on its current trajectory and apparent speed. She was so absorbed by such fascinating calculations she couldn't notice her classmates and teacher's warning cries, much less ponder something as trivial as just moving out of the way.
"SATOMI-SAN!" Negi shouted.
"DAMN IT, PROF, WAKE UP!" Makie cried.
"HAKASE!" Chao perked up from her lethargy, only to realize it was too late even for her to get there in time.
Asuna and Ayaka still were too tangled up howling at each other.
However, before the ball could hit the absent minded professor, a petite blur got in the way, taking the full brunt of the impact for her. Hakase snapped out of her daze to look, in horror, at Sakurako plummeting down at her feet, almost in dramatic slow motion.
From the benches where the killed... I mean, the eliminated sat, Misa looked at Madoka. "They're in a '-chan' basis now?"
"Sakurako always gets what she wants," Madoka said back. "If she had wanted us in her bed, I'd bet you we already would be there."
Misa flinched a bit. "No, I wouldn't!"
"You would. Sakurako's just unstoppable," the other cheerleader replied.
"I think she's been stopped just fine," Kazumi looked at the court.
"I like Sakurako a lot as a friend, but I'd never—" Misa started. "I mean, all those times you may have seen me looking at her at the baths, that had nothing to do with—"
Madoka's face betrayed some concern. "Misa, I just was joking."
Misa forced a sudden grin. "Of course I knew! Heh heh heh. And I was joking back! What gave you the impression I wasn't?"
Natsumi and Chizuru discreetly slid away from her.
"Sakurako-chan..." Hakase crouched down, cradling the fallen Shiina's upper body in her lap, tenderly pulling a stray lock of hair from her forehead as violin music began to play. "You... Y-You have just sacrificed yourself for me!"
"Don't... fell bad for me, Satomi-chan..." She coughed as flower petals began to swirl around them. "I had bet... I wouldn't last the whole... game..." Her voice faltered down.
"SAKURAKO-CHAN!" Hakase bawled out, hugging her.
The violin music began to melodramatically blare all over the area, rising to a tragic cresendo.
Then a pretty, blond girl from Class 2-C shot a stare to the expressionless boy playing the violin next to her. "Karasuma-kun, could you PLEASE stop that?"
Chiri grumbled, running a hand over her face. "Shiina-san, will you just stand up and allow the game to continue?"
Sakurako sighed and jumped back to her feet. "Spoilsport." She smiled at Hakase before leaving the court. "Do your best, Satomi-chan!"
"I will!" Hakase promised with renewed energy, then grabbed the ball, holding it tightly while her voice thundered with unusual potency and determination. "CLASS 2-F! HEED MY WORDS! YOU HAVE PLANTED THE SEEDS OF YOUR OWN DESTRUCTION! BEHOLD!" She pulled out a disturbingly large device out of her tight short bloomers, making many a soul to wonder exactly where she had been keeping it. NSFW thoughts followed. "I SHALL UTILIZE THIS ELECTRIC-MOTOR DRIVEN PHALLIC SEXUAL RECREATIONAL DEVICE TO FORCEFULLY VIOLATE IN A MANNER AKIN TO SODOMY YOUR CRANIAL SKELETAL BRAIN RECEPTACLE VIA ONE OF THE VISUAL ORGAN OPENINGS!"
Chisame was having a hard time covering Negi's eyes and ears at once. "DAMN IT, HAKASE, STOP EMBARRASSING US ALL!"
Haruna chuckled at her. "Now I see why you two never leave that room...!"
Chisame would have flipped her the bird if both of her hands hadn't been busy.
"I didn't understand a word of it, but it sounded really sexy..." Sakurako dreamily sighed. "My hero…!"
"What did she just say?" a confused Miyako asked her colleagues.
"Beats me, " Momoko shrugged.
"She said, 'I'm gonna skullf#$%^*ck you'," Kaoru stoically translated.
Her two classmates looked at her in horror.
"What?" she protested. "My Dad's a wrestler, we hear that crap from drunk fans trying to grapple with him all the time!"
"Wh-Why were you carrying that thing around, Hakase?" Misora shakily asked from her hiding place behind Akira.
"Huh?" Hakase looked back at her. "Ah, it was a commission job. I brought it here because the person who asked for it to be made wanted it delivered right after the game's over. It was Suzu—"
Suzushiro Haruka quickly blew on her whistle. "P-POSSESSION OF THE BALL EXTENDED OVER THE LEGAL TIME! PLAYER HAKASE SATOMI FROM 2-A HAS JUST BEEN DISQUALIFIED!" she quickly waved a red card around.
"EHHHHH?-!" Satomi whined. "But I was—"
"OUT!" Haruka yelled.
"But, you will see, I—"
"You'll want it for later, though, won't—"
"OUT! OUT OUT OUT! OUT!" Haruka furiously repeated.
Satomi sighed and marched out of the court. "Okay. I'll keep it for myself then. I mean, to redesign it into something definitely not sexual. Because I have no interest on such things. Seriously. Just ask Chisame. She won't lie to you."
"I don't even know you," Chisame hissed glacially.
As Hakase left the field however, she paused, then went over to the other team's side of the court. Ignoring the looks she was getting, she went right up to Matoi and stared at her. Then she said something soft that made the girl blanch and try to attack Hakase is apoplectic fury, barely held back by a smiling Kafuka.
"What did you say to her?" Misa asked as Hakase went to join the rest of the eliminated.
Hakase managed to look faintly smug. "That those shorts…" she said, "Made her look fat."
Jaws dropped at this near-unpardonable sin.
Sakurako swooned. "Definitely my hero…"
The game grew more rabid and even as both sides were slowly stripped down to their overall best players. Not stripped down in any other way, sorry. Believe me, I'd be the first one to mention it and rejoice.
Asuna and Ayaka were still mostly fighting each other, competing to see who could catch the volleys first, running almost elbow to elbow. Furiously, they kept 2-F at bay almost by themselves for long, strained minutes of sweating, panting and modest bouncing (excuse us, we need to to get some cold water… okay, back now), until finally, right when they were almost pushing each other out of the way for the next service, Fujiyoshi found a suitable opening, sending a ball straight into Ayaka.
Asuna's eyes widened in horror as her hated rival hit the dust.
"IINCHOOOOO!" Makie cried out.
"Crap, now we're really screwed!" Misora swore.
"They got the team captain!" Ku noted.
"I am the team's captain!" Asuna protested.
"Iincho-san, are you all right?" Negi rushed to her side.
At the seats of Ayaka's maids, Fubuki immediately sprang up in alarm. "Everyone subdue Roberta before it's too late!"
Taeko and Siesta had already hugged one of Roberta's legs each and clung to them for dear life, and Fabiola had just held her in a chokehold from behind, but Fubuki still had to join the restraining efforts with all her strength just to be able to barely hold the now red-eyed, madly howling Colombian back.
"¡MALDITA HIJA DE PUTA!" she foamed out the mouth like a rabid dog, kicking and struggling all around as she attempted to reach and eviscerate Harumi. "¡TE VOY A MATAR, CUATRO OJOS! ¡TE ARRANCARE LAS TRIPAS! ¡COMO TE ATREVES A HACERLE ESO A LA SEÑORITA!"
Negi's face went fully white. It was not often he regretted being a multi-lingual expert, but that was one of those rare times.
Kaere looked at Harumi. "... You should sue her."
Manami asked Maria, "Maria-chan, what is she saying?"
The brown skinned petite girl rasped, then said in her best Roberta impression, "YOU GODDAMN WHORE! I'M GOING TO KILL YOU, FOUR-EYES! I'LL RIP YOUR GUTS OUT! HOW YOU DARE DO THAT TO OJOU-SAMA?"
Kaere looked at Harumi again. "... I know some excellent lawyers."
Oblivious to it all, Ayaka just swooned in Negi's arms, her voice coming out weakly. "Ohhhh... I'm sorry I failed you, my dear Negi-sensei..."
"Don't say that! You played wonderfully, Iincho-san!" the boy told her. A chorus of humming voices rose as a light shone on them. More flower petals blew by.
She gripped his right hand. "Please do tell me you'll never forget me, Sensei..."
He shook his head, crying profusely as the angelic choir rose to a climax."Never in my life, Iincho-san!"
"I'd just wish... for a goodbye kiss before... before..."
"For the love of God, it's just a whack with a ball!" Asuna punted her back up. "Enough with this circus!"
Ayaka hissed while facing her again. "You really will kill me one of these days, Asuna-san!"
"Promises, only promises!" the redhead shot back. She pointed. "Will the choir stop practicing? It's throwing us off!"
Miffed, the choir stomped off.
Things looked bad now. Out of all the 22 players, 2-A had lost Sakurako, Hakase, Misa, Chizuru, Kasumi, Madoka, Natsumi, Yuuna, and Ayaka. And most of the still active girls couldn't be counted as much of a support. Asuna frowned, pondering her options while Ku Fei and Harumi exchanged a furious, actually very even back and forth of volleys, each one trying to get the other out of the game.
It was then when Fuura Kafuka casually exclaimed, "Ahhhh! A fight just broke out!"
"Huh?-!" Ku's attention was instantly shot into the direction Fuura was looking at, anxiously. "Where?-!"
Then the ball hit her in the back of the head. "GAME OVER, ARUUUU!"
"Now you're just cheating!" Asuna accused. "No one's fighting anywhere!"
Kafuka just pointed at where two cats were fighting over a fence, and said in an extremely innocent, drawn out voice, "Kitties are people too..."
"Word," Chachamaru very quietly said, with a brief nod. "Amen, sister. Testify."
"Chachamaru, you are hereby forbidden from watching anymore ethnic sitcoms from the 80's until you stop talking like that," Evangeline said.
"You... You guys...!" Asuna sputtered, picking the ball with anger and tossing it to Kafuka. Without missing a beat, the eternal optimist jumped up high to intercept it; as she did, she went so high her figure contrasted up against the sun in a majestic, awe inspiring manner, enough to make everyone in the public to gasp aloud. Many a fan was born that day. Even Itoshiki had taken notice, his cheeks reddening briefly as he saw his student rising up like a golden angel to meet the sphere, hitting it with a hand and sending it back zooming towards Asuna.
The redhead tried to look at it, to be able to stop it, but the intense light of the sun above hurt her eyes long enough to confuse her.
"The sun is a powerful enemy!" Kiri observed from her watching spot at her window.
And then the ball hit Asuna.
"DAMMIT!" she yelled.
"Asuna-san!" Negi shouted.
"We lost our powerhouse!" Ako shuddered.
"Everything's lost!" Misora despaired. "I'm in despair! Losing Asuna has left me in despair!"
"Will people stop using my catchphrase!" Itoshiki cried. "You're wearing it out!"
"Asuna, you okay?" Konoka helped her roommate back to her feet.
"Of course I'm not okay!" Kagurazaka all but spat fire. "Grrrrr, those cheaters tick me off! Haruna!" she promptly called out.
"Yeah?" the mangaka asked.
"Can you still pull off more crazy unexpected moves like those you did a while ago?" Asuna questioned.
Paru fidgeted. "Well, um, yeah, but—"
"Then you're the next team captain!" Asuna commanded. "And Chao's your lieutenant! We're counting on you two to lead this team to victory!"
"What? Me?" Haruna put both hands on her own substantial chest. "I'm not ready for that responsibility! Any kind of responsibility! Ask anyone! Heck, I hadn't even played this game in more than two years!"
Harumi smirked at her. "Why, that doesn't sound at all like the daughter of Saotome Ra—"
Haruna immediately stopped her with a sharp angry stare. "Asuna. Hand me the ball."
Asuna smiled and tossed it into her hands. "Have a blast."
Haruna forced a grin and slowly fell into a new fighting stance. "Let's Get Dangerous..." she crooned.
Elsewhere, far, far away, in the depths of the Throne of Heroes, someone sneezed. "My... catchphrase..."
At some point of the crowd watching the game, a green eyed girl with her dark hair made in twin tails, wearing a highly tight red sweater and a black skirt, stiffened for some reason.
The busty girl at her side looked at her. "Something wrong, Onee-chan?"
She shook her head at her sister and groaned. "Nothing, Sakura. Nothing. I have just felt a strange minor disturbance in the Source..."
Fujiyoshi Harumi breathed in and out, keeping her wits about her while planning a game outcome in the back of her mind. Paru's kids were better than expected. They already had gotten Ai, Meru, Kanako, and Nami. That left only herself, Kaere, Chiri, Kafuka, Mayo, Maria and Matoi still in the game. They still had a disadvantage in numbers, although...
Oh, wait. Mayo had just clonked Hasegawa in the head. Someone less to worry about.
Negi-sensei had rushed to Hasegawa's side in concern, helping her to walk out of the court, taking her by a hand nervously while she never stopped groggily muttering things like "No fair, I'm supposed to be the protagonist..." and "Ku ku ku... Negi, bring me my lipstick and the green dress... I feel like being the Forest Fairy..." and "Digi-modify!"
That spurred 2-F into a new offensive bout that Lingshen and Saotome could barely hold back, with some minor assistance from Ookuchi. The rest of them were nothing, and they all knew it. Harumi smirked to herself. It was great seeing Paru-chan actually trying at something again.
Harumi hadn't felt actually excited about playing a game in years...
Then the Dean's granddaughter fell to a well-placed volley from Chiri-chan. Maybe Chiri-chan went too far with the throw's potency, to be fair, but that was her nature, after all. Still, it certainly wouldn't make them popular with the public at all; Konoka had a lot of admirers. Harumi tried to block out the boos and hisses from the crowd, and Itoshiki's groans as some enraged onlookers tossed Coke cans at his head. None of that mattered. They had always been outcast freaks, after all. At least they weren't likely to get sunk as low as that Suzumiya weirdo…
Sakurazaki's intervention still took her by surprise, though. The thin short girl stood up violently as Asuna helped her roommate back to her feet, and her eyes burned with a new choleric fire. She jerked her head aside and shouted, "REFEREE!"
"... Yes?" Suzushiro-sempai lazily lifted her head from the budget for the next school term she had been checking for the last few minutes.
"As a member of Class 2-A, I demand to be allowed to replace a fellow team member who is clearly unable to continue playing!" Setsuna shouted.
"Pleaseletitbeme, pleaseplease..." Misora prayed, her teeth clattering.
"Who?" Haruka snorted.
Much to Misora's panic, Setsuna pointed at Ako instead. "I mean her! She's obviously feeling ill and can't go on like that!"
"What?" Ako poked a finger at her own chest. "Me? Um, no, actually, I'm feeling just—"
Setsuna stared into her eyes, almost drilling into them. "No. You actually feel very ill, don't you...?" she said, with a polite but extremely tense tone.
"Well, err, it's not like I'm such a... a..." Izumi stammered helplessly.
"Don't you...?" Setsuna's stare grew harder.
The other girl gulped meekly. "I do now...!"
Haruka sighed and nodded. "Okay, fine. The change is authorized. Player Sakurazaki officially replaces Player Izumi for the reminder of the game!"
"Remainder, Haruka-chan," Yukino, well, reminded her.
"You can do it, Setchan!" Konoka wildly cheered, jumping up and down.
Setsuna had to take a moment to rip her eyes from the bouncy goodness.
Setsuna calmly took the place left by Ako, then gave another stare to Nodoka, who was now in possession of the ball. "Miyazaki-san."
"Y-Yes!" Nodoka nervously handed the ball over at her.
At another point of the crowd, a freckled girl with dark brown short pigtails looked at the blue eyed redhead sitting next to her. "Asuka-chan, isn't that against the rules? To pass the ball like that?"
"Who cares?" she grumbled. "This isn't Dodgeball, it's Calvinball!"
As soon as she had the ball, Setsuna took impeccable aim, then shot the ball straight into Chiri's mouth.
"THAT'S A FOUL!" Harumi called out as Chiri plummeted down flatly on her back.
Haruka looked back and forth at the girls before finally pulling a red card, nodding and blowing on her whistle. "Both Player Kitsu from 2-F and Player Sakurazaki from 2-A are out!"
Setsuna turned around and walked away indifferently. Her only objective in the game was done.
Chiri, meanwhile, got back to her feet, wiping the blood off her mouth before feeling something small and hard rolling her tongue. She spat it out, only to see it was... a bloody tooth.
The ensuing scream shook all of Mahora. "THE PERFECT SYMMETRY OF MY MOUTH! RUINED FOREVER! I'LL KILL YOU FOR THIS!"
It took Kaere, Harumi, Nami, and the benchwarmers Kotokon, Manami and Abiru all piling up on her to subdue her.
As the timer came inexorably closer to the game's end, Class 2-F redoubled their efforts to put 2-A out of commission, with notably good results. Akira, being a tall and rather big target, eventually was tagged by Matoi. Without her favored hiding place on the field anymore, Misora lasted a little longer by just running away like hell whenever the ball was headed her way, but Harumi tricked her into running straight into her sights. Haruna landed a ball on Maria shortly after, but just as soon, Makie was hit by a casual shot from Kafuka. "Ooops! I'm sorry!" Fuura said, actually sounding regretful, even if in a whimsical way.
The crowd watched in mesmerized amazement at the intense, rabid match, awed at the athletic prowess of the remaining players (at least, those not named Nodoka or Yue). Well, many of them were mesmerized by that, although there were exceptions...
Sitting in the middle of the main group of teachers, a tall, slack jawed black haired man with glasses sighed deeply while gazing over and over at the girls' lower sections. "Ahhhh... Short shorts, long happiness..."
Fujisawa gave him a really creeped out stare. "Isn't one of them your niece, Kimura?"
"I never let mere bonds of genetic connection interfere with the proper aesthetic appreciation of the female form!"
Chao was actually starting to feel tired. Was she growing rusty and unfocused after so many times playing basically the same game, or was 2-F really that good? Maybe she should try to recruit a few of them up for Mahorafest, although they were loose cannons and probably more trouble than they were worth.
She was still struggling with the matter when she noticed the ball passing zooming by next to her, colliding squarely against Negi of all people.
Ooops. Yes, maybe she was growing careless with time. She'd need to look into that.
"SENSEI!" Makie cried.
"BRAT!" Asuna shouted.
"NEGI-BOUZOU!" Ku Fei gasped.
"NEGI-SENSEI!" Ayaka screamed.
Chisame still lay with her head on Hakase's lap, the teen genius and Sakurako fanning her over with a Thermonuclear Physics Swimsuit Illustrated magazine, Dr. Stein on the cover. "Sensei? You fighting Evangeline again? Tch tch. Wait for me, I'll blast her over with my magical pink scepter of sugary cute doom..."
"What is she talking about?" Shiina asked.
Satomi laughed unconvincingly. "She plays a lot of online videogames..."
"I'm... I'm okay!" Negi stood up wearily, shaking his head. "I'm not hurt at all, Nekane! I mean, girls! I feel all right! Go on, girls! I trust the ten of you to win!"
"Sensei, there's only four of us left," Haruna pointed at herself, Yue, Nodoka and Chao.
"We're so screwed," Yue philosophized.
"It doesn't matter if there are four, ten, or forty of you left, Iincho-san!" Negi groggily declared with a drunk's energetic resolution. "As long as one of you stands, you haven't lost yet! And even then, I'll never lose my faith in you! No matter what, always keep up looking ahead, never giving up! To Infinity and beyond! Falling only means you can get up again! And just as long as you keep getting up, you'll always be winners... and my heroines, " he passionately finished before pausing and adding, "Also, I'd like some Pringles!"
"Sensei...!" Nodoka was moved to tears.
"... Sensei, I'm not Iincho," Haruna told him. "My breasts aren't that small!"
"HEY!" Ayaka and Roberta both cried in indignation.
Haruka looked at Yukino and clapped twice. "Get that poor boy a bag of ice for his head, and some Pringles as well!"
"Right now, Haruka-chan..." the submissive student rushed for it.
Over at the 2-F side, Kafuka only stared on blankly, randomly distracted by the flight of a nearby butterfly. Mayo simply stood quiet with her eternal neutral yet DEEPLY EVIL expression. Kaere huffed in disgust. Harumi analyzed the scene carefully, never letting her guard down, and Matoi... well, she had just fallen in deep love all over again.
"He's... so wise..." the recurring stalker marveled, her breath now coming out in quicker, shorter pants. It was exactly as creepy as it sounded. "So smart, and cute as a button, too... how could I never notice it before?" she mused. "His words have such a real fire and courage to them, unheard of even in adults. He's a dreamer, and yet he has achieved more than far too many realists at such a short age. Oh! Negi-sensei! I was a fool, ignoring you for so long! But as of now, Tsunetsuki Matoi pleads her undying devotion to you! Indeed, before all of this school I declare my—!"
The very next second, she was catching a ball in the face.
Harumi smiled anew as she saw Haruna standing before them, fuming while Negi was taken away. Both bespectacled mangakas tensely faced each other. Chao, Nodoka and Yue waited behind Saotome. Kaere, Kafuka and Mayo did the same behind Fujiyoshi.
"Okay, Sempai, now we're even," Haruna smirked challengingly. It was a smirk truly worthy of her father. "Time for the final dance. One shall stand and one shall fall! Let the battle be joined! 2-A, transform and roll out!"
With the clock just a couple of minutes away from the endgame and both teams tied up in numbers, the crowd watched expectantly as the girls went all out. Chao managed to land a hit on Kafuka fairly soon, although as expected, Fuura didn't seem to mind at all. Much to her shock, however, a rather smart combination attack from Fujiyoshi and Kimura managed to brush her shortly afterwards.
Perhaps it was just a stroke of luck for them. At least that was what she told herself.
And to be fair, they both were competent, skilled players.
But she had been trying.
And yet, for some reason, it happened.
It was wrong.
What was happening to her?
She sighed, plopping down on the bench next to Ku. Her dark skinned friend patted her on the back with as little subtlety and as much enthusiasm as she always displayed. "A really great game, huh? Ahhhh, finding worthy rivals is always so good-aru!"
"Yeah. I guess winning isn't always everything, ne?" Chao tried to make one of her habitual carefree smiles. But for some reason, it wasn't working the same way anymore.
She almost could hear the ominous clock ticking back to zero in her head.
What was she missing?
Now it was all pretty much only up to Haruna to hold the fort, and no one in her camp, except her two closest friends, had any actual hopes of her pulling it off. But much to their surprise, the nerd could actually move like a pro, despite her usual laziness at anything that didn't involve flipping through books, sketching smut, or suggestive teasing. Relentlessly, she kept on protecting Nodoka and Yue all by herself, playing practically alone against her three Sempais, puffing heavily but never relenting, until finally...
"SAOTOME SUPER-AWESOME DRILL SHOT!"
Mayo was out now as well, and although her expression didn't change at all, her eyes spoke of horrible traumatizing revenge. But Nodoka and Yue were still far too contented to actually notice it.
"You're great, Haruna!" Nodoka all but swooned.
"Just keep it for a few minutes more and we'll win, three-to-two," Yue said. "Do you think you can do it?"
"Pffft, " Paru clenched a grin, her large breasts moving up and down with her now tumultuous breathing. Many people stared. "Piece of cake. Just watch me..."
Harumi whispered to the tense, scowling Kaere. "All we have to do is elude her guard to hit the shorties. She's tired, it shouldn't be hard. If we play this right, we'll manage to hit them both with a single bouncing shot. Roger?"
"Roger. Your play," the busty blonde nodded.
Harumi made a feint for Haruna herself, but it was just a decoy; as soon as Saotome hit it back, Kaere jumped up to intercept it, then rocketed it back past Paru's left shoulder, taking advantage of her weakest angle and landing a solid hit on Yue's small frame.
"Crap!" Asuna bit her tongue.
"Yuecchi!" Haruna gasped.
The tiny girl sighed, one knee on the ground. "Should've known. Sorry, Haruna. I'm just not made for this..."
Haruna sighed back and rubbed one of her shoulders. For once, not teasingly at all, just with friendly fondness. "Nonsense. You did great. You kept on dodging like a professional. Go, I'll take care of everything else."
Yue nodded, looking up at her and meeting her eyes. "I know you will."
For a moment, the two were lost in their own little world, faces gradually inching closer and closer until…
"Uh, right," Haruna said, looking away. "Well, I have ass to go kick!"
Nodoka gulped as her tall friend regained her position while Yue blinked in confusion, realizing what had just happened. Everyone who knew Haruna was thinking the same thing. Did she just… let a perfect opportunity GO?-!
Harumi smiled. She's actually prioritizing this over her lewdness…
Only a few scarce minutes of game remained.
Both brunette mangakas stared at each other.
"We're down to a single partner each, but at least mine can play, eh, Paru-chan?" Harumi evenly said. "Just give it up. You did very well. There's no shame on losing now."
"What, are you trying to weasel out? This isn't over until your mom sings!"
"Ooohhh, now you've done it! At least my mother isn't a blackmailer, and my father doesn't wear feminine underwear!"
"SHUT UP! GUYS WHO TURN INTO WOMEN ARE HOT AND YOU KNOW IT! YOU'RE JUST JEALOUS!"
All of the rest of 2-A but Evangeline and the still out of her mind Chisame cringed.
"Wha-What was that all about?" Natsumi asked.
"I always knew she had no limits, but this... this...!" Ayaka grimaced.
Yuuna at first was as repulsed as everyone else, but then... "Ummm, a father complex...?" she rubbed her chin. "Can kinda see it, actually..."
"I'll pretend I never heard that," Akira said.
Act Twenty One:
Why did you all but leave us, Paru? Look at them; weak, pitifully frail, clueless and lacking all we have. The passion to pursue a dream, the fire of creativity, content to dig through old creations and not make new ones. Do they make you feel better because you're clearly their superior? Do you find that rewarding, to rule over your bookstore anthill? Languishing between dusty books while we actually strive to create something?
Look at them; weak, pitifully frail, clueless and lacking all we have. The passion to pursue a dream, the fire of creativity, content to dig through old creations and not make new ones. Do they make you feel better because you're clearly their superior? Do you find that rewarding, to rule over your bookstore anthill? Languishing between dusty books while we actually strive to create something?
They had reached a truly frantic crescendo now, Haruna protecting Nodoka while fighting, yes, for all intents and purposes fighting, the two older girls at once, even though it was clear she couldn't last for much longer.
Now look at yourself. You've become too complacent. Missing your deadlines, forgetting everything your old man ever taught you. You're a shadow of the girl I once met. But if this match can make you see that, then I'll be happy.
At the seats of the Manga Club, Hiyori and Patty looked on with baffled concern. The foreigner's mouth hung slightly open, as the bespectacled brown haired girl doodled on her notebook with increasing detachment, too absorbed with the final motions of the contestants, but also with their frustrated, sweaty faces, showing their strain, their stubborn refusal to lose.
As both mangakas got more into it, however, both of their partners struggled to find their own places at the court. For Nodoka, it was actually easier; she only had to roughly keep herself behind Haruna, trying to avoid being an obstacle. But for Kaere, full of pride and exuberant energy, finding herself suddenly ignored by a teammate just so she could focus on her personal affair was aggravating. The blonde started to actually push around for more chances at the ball, trying to finish the game by herself, ruining the team dynamics at the very last few moments, Harumi actually fighting back in her own refusal to renounce personal victory.
That gave Haruna an opening. With a final effort, she struck the ball, her move more a punch than a throw, fist slamming into the poor, abused piece of sports equipment with a cry of "SAOTOME DIVINE BUSTER!". In the blink of an eye, the ball swooshed right before Harumi's eyes, barely missing her to land on Kimura instead. The blonde was thrown back hard, actually bouncing twice before stopping. As expected, the blonde quickly recovered with an onslaught of indignant lawsuit threats, but ittook a while, and no one was paying her any more attention. 2-A had just gained a 2 to 1 advantage at the very edge of the game. Nodoka smiled with relief, and Haruna paused for only a moment in renewed smug confidence, thinking of things to come, Negi's praises and Ayaka's speeches in her honor.
But Harumi didn't miss a beat.
Indifferent to her classmate's downfall, the only thing in her mind now was she had just found an opening of her own.
Are they so important for you, Paru? Fine.
Haruna barely reacted in time to see the ball flying towards Nodoka, even before Honya herself noticed it. She then saw the horror face of her friend, her eyes growing huge behind the thick bangs, and her instincts kicked in.
A dash ahead.
A brief stumble at the worst possible moment.
Not big enough to make her fall, big enough to foil any counter. Nothing to do but receiving the ball for Nodo-chan.
She gritted her teeth and knew what she had to do.
"SAOTOME SELF-SACRIFICE TECHNIQUE!"
Make it look like she'd planned to do that.
Hiyori and Patty stared, aghast.
Yue fought the completely alien urge to curse.
Asuna and Ayaka's jaws fell, rolling on the floor like discarded baseballs.
Even Itoshiki was impressed.
When Nodoka returned to reality moments afterwards, she trembled, looking at Haruna's sighing, downcast frame. "H-H-Haruna... You... You..."
Slowly, the taller girl put a hand on Nodoka's right shoulder. "It's okay, Nodo-chan. It's just a game."
"But... But you could've have won if you... had just left me to..."
"Like I said, a game. Nothing worth you getting hurt."
"But... now she'll hit me anyw—"
"No, she won't. Not now, if she knows what's good for her," Saotome softly hushed her. "And mostly, no, because you won't allow her to hit you. Right?"
The petite teen gasped, then finally nodded with reborn resolution. "No. I mean, yes. Yes, I won't."
A sly smirk, and Haruna squeezed her shoulder reassuringly. "Atta a girl."
Haruna walked out, winking an eye at her final teammate, then shooting Harumi a cold warning glare.
Only one minute of game left.
A complete, chilling silence had fallen all over the court and the crowd. Even Momoko, Miyako and Kaoru at the commentators' box had fallen silent.
Harumi held the ball in her hands. She had won. All she had to do was to volley over at Miyazaki before the time ran out. They all knew she couldn't hit a ball back to save her life. It was so simple.
But she couldn't do anything but looking at Miyazaki's determined, brave beyond all reason, huge, soulful eyes, half camouflaged under those bangs.
Why have you put your faith on her, Paru? Why are you so foolish? Why do you like them so much? Why are you happy with them?
Why do you like them so much?
Why are you happy with them?
Harumi felt everyone's eyes on her. Especially 2-F's. Chiri's. Kaere's. Despair-sensei's. Ai's. Abiru's. Even those of that balding boy who sat the back of the class... what was his name again?
She gulped, then prepared a new, final throw...
She let the ball roll out of her fingers and to the ground, much to Nodoka's, and everyone else's, puzzlement. Then she crouched down making a pained, straining face, grabbing her own right wrist, making a few urgent, whimpering noises.
"Harumi-chan?-!" Nami asked.
"I... I think I overdid that last shot! Argh! Damn, that hurts! Been forcing myself too much through the game... My wrist… my precious drawing wrist! No… no, I can't risk it! "
Haruka-sempai blinked, then blew on the whistle. "TIME OUT! PLAYER FUJIYOSHI FROM 2-F FORFEITS DUE TO INJURY! CLASS 2-A IS DECLARED THE VICTOR!"
All of the (not groggy) 2-A students watched in utter disbelief for a moment, then exploded into an avalanche of cheers and laughs.
Chiri, on the other hand, walked over to a tree and began bashing her head against it. "So close...! So infuriatingly close...! What has happened to the scales of justice?-!"
Itoshiki sighed. "I knew they were having too much of a good luck streak..."
Manami looked at Kafuka and shrugged. "What does it matter, we made a good showing, doesn't it?"
"We didn't actually lose! It's impossible for something right out of Mighty Casey At Bat to happen in real life! We just had a draw that was ruined by the match lasting one minute too long!" Kafuka laughed without any concern in the world.
"Man, what an anticlimax," Kaoru murmured, resting her chin in her hand palms.
At her side, Momoko and Miyako hugged sharing a squeeing declaration. "IT'S A MIRACLE!"
"Kaere-chaaaaaaan!" Kimura-sensei jumped down to greet Kaere with open arms. "You'll always be a winner for m—"
She just punched him in the face. "Back off, uncle! Remember, I still have a restraining order against you!"
"HONYA-CHAN! HONYA-CHAN! OUR HEROINE!" 2-A chanted as they surrounded the shy librarian.
"Ehhhh?" Miyazaki gasped. "N-No, no, I didn't do anything at all! I don't deserve any—!"
"LET'S TOSS HER UP!" Haruna pumped a fist up.
"Wait, no—!" Nodoka uselessly protested before the girls grabbed her and started tossing her up between cheers and hoorays. "Yueeee! Help!"
Her best friend made a small smile and shook her head. "No, you have earned it. Enjoy it, Nodoka. I'm so proud of you."
"Ah! Whose hand is that on my–"
"Making up for lost time, Honya-chan!" Haruna cried.
Yue sighed, partly in disappointment, partly in relief. "She's back…"
Nami looked at Harumi's wrist with concern. "I can't find what's wrong with it, but... Abiru-chan, you know the way to the nurse's office better than anyone. Can you get her there while I look for Marikawa-sensei?"
"Yes," the tall and heavily bandaged girl with pigtails nodded while helping Harumi back to her feet, then walked her along out of the court. The mangaka took a brief casual glimpse at the celebrating 2-A, out of a corner of her eye. She found Evangeline looking at no one but her, with a knowing small glint on her green eyes. She hadn't been fooled. But mostly, Harumi saw Haruna's happy face, and that alone told her it had been worth it.
Oh, Paru. The things we have to do for you.
Act Twenty Two:
As the cheering of the crowd began dying down, and everyone started retreating back to their dorms under the quietly falling dusk, Takamichi shook his head slowly, passing a hand through his hair. "Oh, Negi, Negi... You still have so much to learn..."
Standing at his right, Shizuna-sensei laughed easily. "Ara ara, but he at least can bond with them in a way we never could manage, can't he?"
"It's more like he's their little brother, rather than their teacher..." the man amusedly commented before focusing his attention on Asuna, who was patting a still wobbly and dizzy Nodoka's head. "Although sometimes... a relative is all what is truly needed..."
The contusions had finally lulled Chisame and Negi down into a blissful sleep, and Sakurako softly pushed them together and covered them up to their necks with a blanket. "Awww, don't you think they look really cute like this, Satomi-chan?"
"Yes, I think so until I remember I'll be the one to carry them back home..." the scientist exhaled, inwardly debating on if she should risk using her Artifact and passing it up as one of her inventions. "But on second thought... Chachamaru!" she called out.
The gynoid approached quickly. "Yes, Hakase-san?"
"Could you please take a firm hold of Negi-sensei and carry him straight to bed?" her creator asked.
A brief pause. "... Yes. O-Of course I wouldn't mind."
"Good, good! And could you do the same thing with Chisame while you're at it?"
A longer pause. "I... I guess, if you wish me to do so... But..."
Hakase cast a curious glare on her face. "When did I install a blush function into you?"
"Five months and six days ago. You said it'd be a helpful visual tactic for the next evaluation committee," Chachamaru dutifully reported.
"Ah, yes," Satomi remembered. "By the way, haven't I installed 'those other appliances' I told you about yet?"
A new blush. "No, not really."
The genius took a notepad and pen out. "This Wednesday after classes, at the usual lab."
"Can I watch?" Sakurako asked, despite not having any idea what did they meant at all.
Meanwhile, the mood of Team 2-F was definitely a miserable one.
"It can't be...!" Chiri was on her hands and knees, shaking violently. "This couldn't possibly have happened! We were robbed by random chance! None of this makes any sense!"
"Of course it doesn't!" Itoshiki walked closer, grabbing their attentions with a commanding exclamation. "Destiny is man's biggest enemy! There is no dishonor in falling prey to it! It's everyone's ultimate destination! What matters is you made a brave, commendable and tragically beautiful effort! Is there anything as romantic as a doomed charge? No! Any loser can win and slide away into the horizon with banal ease, but it takes a real winner to lose as majestically as you have!"
"Sensei!" Nami said.
"All the best books and films do feature sad endings! Who would remember Romeo and Juliet if they had lived happily ever after? What merit would the Illiad hold if Achilles and Patroclus had married and achieved perfect domestic happiness? What would Peanuts be if Charlie Brown kicked the football or managed to fly a kite? And real life imitates art!" Nozomu lectured. "Without defeats, our lives are nothing but gray long patches of dull contentment! The mere idea drives me to frightful tears! So rejoice, my students! Today, you have reaffirmed my faith on the inherent unfairness of the universe! And for that, I salute you! I feel at home, surrounded by so many wonderful failures! Otherwise, I never could catch up to you!"
He threw his hands up. "DESPAIR! LACK OF DESPAIR WOULD DRIVE ME TO DESPAIR!"
They all looked tearfully at him. "Sensei...!" Manami sobbed.
"You DO care...!" Kafuka rejoiced.
"Loonies, the whole lot of them," Evangeline commented.
Then they all jumped on him. Except for Matoi, who still was unconscious and left aside on the now cold hard ground.
"HELP!" he cried out. "NEGI-SENSEI...!"
Act Twenty Three:
Ako had left the celebrations early after being called over by Marikawa-sensei to the infirmary. She figured Fujiyoshi-sempai's injury had to be worse than she had thought at first, but much to her surprise, it was the polar opposite. When she examined it at Marikawa-sensei's urging, she could find nothing at all wrong with it.
"Sempai," she gazed at her with disbelief. "You're perfectly fine!"
"Why, thank you..." the mangaka mockingly purred. She WAS Haruna's mentor, after all.
"I-I don't mean that!" Ako stammered. "You feigned your injury! Why? If your classmates ever learn it, they'll—!"
Harumi calmly held a hand up to forestall her. "Probably have me drawn and quartered, all evenly divided with mathematical precision courtesy of Chiri, yes I know." The ridiculously huge busted blond school nurse and her soft spoken, flat blue haired assistant listened. "2-F are my day-to-day partners. But Paru-chan is, even after all this time, my best friend." There was a sigh. "Don't get me wrong. Up until the absolute last minute, I was perfectly willing, even eager, to take you all out of the game. You had overstepped your limits. And Paru really needed a lesson in keeping her priorities straight, or so I thought."
"Why?" Ako asked.
The older girl shrugged. "Maybe it was just jealousy. Ever since she joined the Library Exploration Club, she spends most of her time there. We are mostly an afterthought, after we were the first ones here to extend a friendly hand to her. Before today, I never could understand why."
She inhaled, looking out a window. "I still don't really understand it, of course. But when I saw that girl, Nodoka, trying so hard to live up to Paru's hopes despite clearly having no chance... I wondered what would have I achieved if I had taken her down. I wouldn't bring Paru back. And I wouldn't make her happy at all, either. I realized I had been petty over the whole thing, while that girl... actually acted as a friend. I was expending needless energy on a homoerotic subtext while trying to bring by friend over to my level, whether she wanted to or not, whether it was good for her or not. Maybe they deserve Paru more than us."
The busty woman pulled a tissue out and began to make soft puppy-like sobs, drying her eyes out. "That's... that's just so cute...!"
"Sempai..." Ako breathed.
"As a Club Vice-president, my duty is to guarantee the comfort and contentment of all our members, " Harumi continued. "If Paru needs her own space away from us, so be it. We'll just have to cope without her... ahhh... drawing power, and—"
"You're just being silly!" Ako abruptly said.
The mangaka looked at the normally shy nurse assistant, who was blushing with shame about speaking so loudly, but also holding herself enough to continue. Come to think of it, her expression was pretty reminiscent of Miyazaki's at the game now. Harumi wondered what was the actual deal with that class's girls.
"If Haruna means so much for you, why don't you just tell her yourself?" Ako managed to say. "What's so hard about talking it up with her? Can't you just spit it out?"
Fujiyoshi lowered her head. "I guess I didn't want to come as if I was pressuring her. Through this game, I was hoping for her at least to realize she has been wasting her potential, without being obvious about it. Instead I just bonded her further to her other club."
"Well, DUH! Your approach was taunting her, threatening her friends and making her wonder why she was ever friends with you in the first place!" Ako threw up her hands in exasperation. "Talk it over. A relationship built on hidden truths isn't one. It's just obsessive stalking. Considering your classmates, you should know how that goes. A relationship means you two relate."
"I'll think about it," Harumi blandly promised. "Thanks. You have a true nurse's soul."
Marikawa-sensei rested a hand on Ako's right shoulder. "Yes, Youko and I are very proud of her devotion to our job!"
"N-No, it's nothing, actually..." the short girl regained her usual shy, fumbling attitude.
Still waiting right outside the door, standing at the lonely hall, the silently listening Kobushi Abiru finished carefully detailing the conversation before walking away before anyone noticed she still was there. The bandaged girl smiled softly to herself as she headed back towards her dorm.
Ah, Harumi. What would they do with her?
Blackmail at some point in the future seemed in order. Abiru was still 2-F after all…
Act Twenty Four:
The voice kept on singing over the eerie silence of the nocturnal desert.
"Istanbul was Constantinople, now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople. Been a long time, Constantinople. Why did Constantinople get the works? That's nobody's business but the Turks!"
He rode an old large camel with strange grace and aplomb, marching across the ruined wastelands followed by three big burly men also traveling on camels. All of them heavily wrapped in heavy tunics that obscured their faces.
But there was no way to hide the playful insanity in the leading man's voice.
"So take me back to Constantinople. No, you can't go back to Constantinople. Been a long time, Constantinople. Why did Constantinople get the works? That's nobody's business but the Turks!" "Istanbul, Istanbul..."
"Istanbul, Istanbul..."the three men going behind crooned on cue.
"HYA HA HA HAA!" the lead man laughed. "Once more, boys!"
Then, however, he noticed the camp site in the distance. Actually, it was more like a few large camp sites around a bigger digging site, heavily surrounded by dozens and dozens of strongly armed men. You know, stolen straight from the set of the first Indiana Jones movie sort of thing. They spurred the camels on, only to find themselves encircled around by a literal army of said guards, all of them aiming their weapons at them.
"And a good evening to you too, Gents!" the first man cheerfully said. "Do you speak English? Parlez vous Francais? ¿Hablan castellano? Naiintindihan ba ninyo ako? Spreche sie Deutsche? May the Force be with you?" Then he made a few gestures in hand language, waited, and upon seeing or hearing no reply, resorted to the universal symbol of flipping them the bird.
A curvy, tall and slow walking brunette wearing desert fatigues, several guns hanging from her hourglass hips, walked out of the main campsite to meet them, escorted over by an elite corps of guards and a gigantic bald brute armed with a scimitar.
"Princess Jasmine!" the man with the crazy voiced bowed comically, his red lips peeking a huge grin under the confines of his cloth hood. "Glad to meet you, but sad to see you dropped the harem outfit!"
She smiled at him, in a confident, barely condescending way. "Greetings, Mr. Joker. I am Talia al Ghul, and this is Mister Ubu. My father shall not be able to be with us tonight, but he asked me to make you and your associates comfortable here."
"Oh my dear. How generous of him," he pulled his hood back, his yellowed teeth sparkling under the faint moonlight, his green hair cascading free in the dry breeze. "So, more comfortable, hmmmmmm? Do we get Baldy thrown in the deal, or will it be just the two of us?"
The gigantic bodyguard was about to yell an insult into his face, but the woman stopped him with a simple hand gesture. "Ubu. No. Mr. Joker," she said as the four visitors dismounted, "I assume you were well informed about the gravity of this situation. The enemies we shall be facing are many, and powerful. Enemies that make even our common... nemesis, the Dark Knight Detective, look like—"
"No one's better than Bats, Toots, except, naturally, Yours Truly," the clown waved a hand, then asked, "Then you're on his black list too, huh? Oh, that man makes just too many enemies. I keep telling him he'd be a lot happier if he'd just lighten up, but do you think he ever listens...? Anyway, I actually wasn't told that much. That wacky priest thought it'd be fun to send me on a scavenger hunt across the world knowing jack shit. Good for him I'm in a good mood this fic. End of the world stuff, huh? End of days, the Book of Darkness has been filled, Raven turns sixteen, sexy Lexy makes a deal with Brainiac to set up an MMORPG sort of thing? You know, if it's that bad, shouldn't this be an Enemy Mine, call in the tights and capes thing?"
"Follow us. We'll talk in further length in privacy," she invited, turning around and walking toward the excavation site.
"Hoo hoo, saucy! I don't know how to react. I'm still a virgin! Oh, and by the way..."
He swiftly pulled a gun out, and before any of the assembled men could react, turned around and shot his camel three times in the head. Then he had everyone's, even Talia's, guns firmly zeroed in on his head.
Joker clenched a diabolic grin. "Why so serious? Man, I've been saying that lot lately! Heath Ledger, you must die! Oh, wait, you're already dead. My bad!"
"What is the meaning of this?" Ubu asked, his heavily accented voice growling.
Joker just grinned at him and calmly blew on his gun's barrel before letting it just spin around on his finger, horrifying anyone who knew even a little bit about gun safety. "Joe there had been looking funny at me all the way. I think he was unhealthily attracted to me. Creepy! Say, Tata, mind if you have your cooks fix us a good juicy camel for dinner? It's not against their religion, right? I heard you guys out here are weird. That's what happens when you go around not looking at porn!"
"My father is their god," the woman said, aloofly walking away once more. "They shall obey any command I give them."
"Worship Banjo, the hand-puppetgod, and his prophet Elan!" the clown cried, then crossed his arms behind his back and followed, his three henchmen shadowing him. "By the way, these are Moe, Larry and Curly. Any similarity with famous Golden Age comedy stars favored by this humble buffoon is likely more than just a coincidence. Say hello to the pretty lady, boys."
"Hello..." the one with the black bowl cut sang.
"Hello..." the one with red hair continued.
"Hello!" the fully bald one finished.
She ignored them, instead explaining as they walked deeper into the site, "Ten years ago, this whole area was ravaged by a combat between our enemies and a third party known as the Ala Rubra. Our enemies are known as the Cosmo Entelekheia society; ruthless pursuers of world subjugation, in a mad attempt at an impossible utopia. They would drive all mankind into a forced existence in a world redone to their narrow minded designs."
"Gasp! No! Such heathens!" the clown cried. "Call Keanu Reeves! We need… THE ONE! Good thing you guys are all up for freedom, Joe Quesada and the well-being of all living things."
"Actually, no," Talia coldly narrated. "Our dream is eradicating a 90% of this world's excess population, and only then institute a utopia based on the wellbeing of all living beings."
Joker hummed. "I must admit, so far, I like your plan better than theirs."
"Cosmo Entelecheia's plans and ours are incompatible," Talia said, leading the way into an old, ruined down fortress. "Ten years ago, at this very place, their senseless fantasies were stopped abruptly. Many have believed them dead ever since, but we know better. They have regained their strength, and wait for the moment to strike again. A moment that is dangerously close."
"Oh my, the suspense!" Joker swooned. "Quick! Some get us a comics artist! This must be immortalized!"
They stopped at the middle of a huge underground tomb, where several scientists and specialists worked all around a huge cylinder filled with a strange reddish liquid, and a naked, slender young boy with long silver hair floating inside of it. An inscription at the cylinder's feet only said in Roman numerals, "IV"
"They left this behind," Talia informed. "No doubt they believed him dead in the attack. He nearly was. An artificial humanoid of sorts. Our technicians are attempting to reprogram him, for a lack of a better term, for our cause."
Joker clucked his tongue, intrigued.
The boy slowly opened his eyes, which wandered lazily across the room until meeting the clown's sharp ones.
"He does that at times," Talia explained. "But never moves, otherwise. Stay behind, in any case. He has been catalogued as a metahuman of an unknown, yet highly dangerous, level."
The Clown Prince chuckled. "Tata! That's rude! You shouldn't say such things about a man's in-laws."
Talia raised an eyebrow. "Excuse me?"
His grin grew crazier as he stared into the boy's eyes. They stared back.
He opened his arms wide as if for a hug. "KINDRED!
The next day, Itoshiki sighed as he vaguely caressed his bruised, aching right arm, and silently cursed Maria's excessive affection. He began taking the roll calling for the morning's class.
Itoshiki sounded very slightly concerned. "Hasn't Tsunetsuki-san recovered from yesterday's contusion yet?"
"She woke up shortly after your defeat speech," Nami said. "She seemed fine, or at least as fine as she ever is."
"I know it's somehow my fault," Ai lamented.
"Wait, remember her reaction after Negi-sensei's motivational speech," Manami asked. "Don't tell me she's..."
Everyone cringed at the reminder of what the resident stalker could do.
"I feel so deeply sorry for him," Nozomu sighed, his head slumping down.
"Him? She's the one who has to compete with a class full of experienced pedos!" Chiri said. The rest of the class nodded. "A moment of silence for Tsunetsuki-san! We knew her… well, a little." They all bowed their heads.
"It's not pedophilia, it's an early May-December romance!" Kafuka chirped.
At 2-A, Ayaka gave a highly annoyed glare at the girl refusing to leave the normally empty first seat of the classroom, the one reserved for one Aisaka Sayo. "And I tell you, this isn't your class! You can't be here! Now leave before I'm forced to resort to violence! Hey, are you listening at all?-!"
Negi trembled as he felt the perfectly still and silent Matoi's eyes fixed on him. The girl even had arrived wearing a perfect copy of his suit, shoes and tie. And she simply looked at him, in a deeply loving way, one so intense you almost could swear it made a long pitched sound, as if it was cutting through the air.
Sayo peeked her head out the window and called out, "Kiri-chan! Come here and drag your classmate out of MY seat...!"
Haruna only smiled and looked down at the note Matoi had brought her right before starting her stalking. It came from Harumi.
Hey there. Great game yesterday. Got an idea out of all this. You interested on a dodgeball manga for next term?
Got an idea out of all this. You interested on a dodgeball manga for next term?
The artist closed her eyes happily.
So, she didn't hate her, after all.
Negi suddenly jerked up straight. "Hey!" he said. "Why didn't I get an end-of-term bonus?"
Chisame clobbered him with a pillow. "It's the middle of the night. Go back to sleep…" she murmured.
Omake- From the Files of Chao Lingshen:
Dodgeball Iteration 9: Duel Academy
"Activate Magic Card! Millennium Shield!" a Ra-Yellow cried, a moment before he was smashed in the face by a ball. "NO! HOW COULD MY DECK FAIL ME?-!"
"This isn't a Duel, moron!" Chao cried. Honestly, Yue and Nodoka alone together was kicking their asses! "There are other games beyond children's card games!"
"Impossible!" an Obelisk Blue cried. "There is only Duel–! … ow… my groin…"
Dodgeball Iteration 14: Xavier Institute
"Sensei!" Makie cried, pointing at Jean Gray. "She's cheating!"
"Jean Gray is disqualified for not using her hands!" Itoshiki cried.
"Fools! I am fire made flesh! I am power incarnate! I! Am! The Phoe–!"
Evangeline punched her. "STAY DEAD! YOU MORTALS ARE SUPPOSED TO DIE IF YOU ARE KILLED!"
Magneto and Godel glared at each other. "Now, we see who is truly meant to survive!" the councilor cried. "Homo Superior or Homo Magi!"
"Bring it, creepy shotacon," Magneto said.
Xavier facepalmed. "Can't we all just get along?"
Dodgeball Iteration 21: Hogwarts
"ALL RIGHT!" Itoshiki shouted. "FOR THE LAST TIME! LET'S BE CLEAR! WE ARE PLAYING DODGEBALL! NOT QUIDDITCH, DODGEBALL!"
Negi and Harry glared at each other. "You're going down," Harry said.
"You wish," Negi growled back
"I have my friends by my side!" Harry said.
"So do I," Negi retorted. "My 31 to your 2."
"And my wand is bigger than yours!"
"THAT'S IT BITCH! WE THROW DOWN!"
Dodgeball Iteration 26: Ariadne
"Why are they always blonde?" Chisame grumbled as Emily and Ayaka glared at each other.
Off in the corner, Chao was crying as the time-space continuum went 'what the hell' and streaked around naked while on ten tons of crack.
"Then it's settled!" Ayaka declared. "If we win, you have to teach us all magic!"
"Done!" Emily cried. "And if we win…"
People instinctively moved in front of Negi.
"…we get Yue!" Emily finished.
"We'll never surrender Negi-sen…sei?" Ayaka blinked.
"Good, because we want Yue," Emily said, nodding in satisfaction.
Baka Black pointed at herself. "Me?"
Emily looked at her, then pointedly sniffed, looking away. "Not that we want you around or anything. It's not like we think you're hot or anything like that…"
A pair of arms fell on Yu'e shoulders.
"LIKE HELL I'M GIVING UP MY SEXY, SEXY YUE!" Haruna cried.
Nodoka was more direct. "MINE!" she hissed.
Dodgeball Iteration 35: North High
Kyon sighed. He turned to Koizumi. "Dodgeball no? Really? It was bad enough during the baseball match."
The esper shrugged. "What can I say. Haruhi gets worked up over the strangest things."
Haruhi, self-declared captain of the team stood proudly before 3-A, the ball in hand. Behind her were lined Kyon, the esper, Yuki, Tsuruya, a returned-yet-again Ryoko (she'd been fully checked for knives this time, and Yuki was keeping an eye on her), Taniguchi, Kunikida, two members of ENOZ and Mikuru, who was uncharacteristically glaring at someone. "Heh! Remember this day, 2-A! I shall be victoriosu and per the terms or our bet, your cute-shotacon mysterious teacher shall be ours! Now-!"
She made to throw the ball, but at the last second, Mikuru stole it from her hands. Everyone stared at the normally soft-spoken girl in shock.
"What?" Haruhi demanded. "Mikuru, what do you think you're-!"
"Shut the fuck up, Suzumiya, you bitch," Mikuru snapped, not looking, not even when Haruhi fell silent in shock. Mikurur just kept glaring. "Chao..." she growled.
"Asahina..." Chao growled back.
"You are under arrest, criminal!" The ball was spiked so fast Kyon thought Yuki had launched it. Come to think of it, even the alien looked in shock.
"You can try, sex-toy!"
"YOUR FOOD SUCKS!"
"YOUR ORGANIZATION COULDN'T FIGURE ITS WAY OUT OF A GRANDFATHER PARADOX!"
The teams watched as the two girls hurled abuse and the ball at each other, seemingly oblivious to everyone else, who just stood around.
"Kyon..." Haruhi said.
Kyon braced himself for an explosion..
"Get me a video camera, a hose and some jello..."
Dodgeball Iteration 41: St. Hilde Academy
"W-what is this feeling…" Vivio said, putting hand to his chest. "When I look at him, I feel… warm! And tingly! Like… like I want to touch him and pet him and hold hands and eat ice-cream together! Like I want to hit him in the face with Starlight Breaker and show him my true feelings! Ah! I'm so confused!"
"It's called being straight," Chisame said., sighing. "You'll get used to it…"
Einhart grabbed the ball. "Negi-san! Let me show you my true feelings!" She got ready to throw.
Rio tackled her, trying to take the ball. "NO! you already have a love interest! Negi-san let me show you my true feelings!"
"NO!" Corona said, attacking from behind and grabbing the ball. "ME!"
"My feelings are truer than yours!" Lutecia cried, kicking the ball away from them and grabbing it.
2-A stared as the St. Hilde group began to fight among themselves, all screaming about being the one to show their true feelings.
"Does this mean we win?" Hakase asked.
Dodgeball Iteration 57:Ohtori Academy
"If Mahora wins," Itoshiki announced. "We get the Rose Bride."
2-A stared at the dark-skinned girl in the honest-to-goodness purple ball gown.
"Does this mean we'll be married?" Makie asked.
"Unacceptable!" Ayaka protested.
"HELL YEAH!" Haruna cried. "Group wife!"
"And if Ohtori wins…" Itoshiki continued. "They get the Mars Prince!"
An absolutely crimson Negi stepped forward… also wearing a purple ball gown. A sudden wind caused him to cry out in shock and try to keep his skirt down, but not before revealing he was wearing the appropriate underwear. With garters.
They all stared. There was 33 plus simultaneous nosebleeds.
"Sexuality… conflicted!" Utena said, gripping her phallic obje– er, sword for reassurance. "Must… be… prince… MUST! BE! PRINCE!"
"DARN IT!" Evangeline cried. "Knock it off! You're wasting good blood! There are young vampires starving in Sunnydale, you know!"
Dodgeball Iteration 66: Sunnydale
"DAMN IT, GIRL, STOP TRYING TO STAKE ME!" Evangeline cried as Buffy tried to sneak in stakes between ball throws. "I'M ALREADY TRAPPED IN MIDDLE SCHOOL FOR ALL ETERNITY! ISN'T THAT ENOUGH?"
Next: Oh my Sister!