Authorly preamble or something: I never expected to find myself writing a second chapter of this, but once I got the idea into my head I couldn't help but give it a shot. Since I keep mentioning 'Fukumoto manga', I should probably clarify: Fukumoto Nobuyuki writes manga about gambling, several of which are about mahjong (and all of which are pretty great!).

Double or Nothing

"It's a shame Mikoshiba shot us down," Imaoka comments with a glance to his left as he settles into his seat, making sure Akaboshi has enough room at their side of the table.

"As long as we have a fourth it doesn't make that much of a difference," Okada mutters, attention wholly on arranging the tiles in their correct places.

"I don't get it, is Mikoshiba-senpai really good at mahjong or something?" Hamanaka asks, carefully straightening several stacked tiles that have shifted out of place.

"He means because everyone hates playing against me and Mikoshiba's all sunshine and rainbows," Aniya spits, giving the leg of his chair a solid kick.

"Well, you are the only one here who's kicked over the table in the middle of a match," Imaoka mutters with a shrug.

"Isn't it a little early to get your panties in a bunch? We haven't even started playing, chill out," Okada advises, voice taking on a slightly threatening tone. "Try to keep from flipping your shit, okay? Mikoshiba found us these nice, practically new tiles, and if you start chucking them or god forbid lose one I will piss on your grave after he murders you."

"Don't be an asshole," Aniya snaps, "give me some credit. I'm not Hamanaka, you know."

Hamanaka looks up quickly as if expecting a punchline or retraction, but when he realizes none is forthcoming he ducks his head like a scolded puppy.

"Hey, Akaboshi," Imaoka says, "you did say you've played mahjong before, right?"

"Kind of, my grandpa taught me to play as a kid. I'll probably remember most of it quick." Akaboshi doesn't sound especially excited, possibly because he's agreed to join the table primarily to get Hiratsuka to stop badgering him about 'mahjong as a team building exercise'. He glances over the tiles lined up before himself and Imaoka with a vacant look.

"What about you?" Okada nudges Hamanaka with his elbow as he shifts their shared tiles to make sure neither will have trouble seeing.

"I tried playing a bit online," Hamanaka admits, fidgeting excitedly. "Wasn't very good, not sure I really get it that well, but I tried to remember as many yaku as I could."

"Okay, good enough," Okada concludes. "It's not like you're playing alone anyway, so don't panic or anything."

"'Sides, if Aniya and Hiracchi can figure it out, how hard can it be?" Imaoka offers, deadpan.

"How'd you like a discard upside the head, huh?" Hiratsuka threatens, snapping his tile down into place with a pointed look.

"So what do you think?" Okada rotates a 7man tile patiently. "If you were playing online, what would you do with a hand like this?"

Hamanaka stares hard at the tiles, eyes somewhat more intense than the occasion would seem to call for. "Yakuhai?" he suggests finally.

"If you wanted to push it, it wouldn't be too bad to go for hon-itsu if you want to clear out the pinzu and go for a one-suit deal," Okada says, "but yakuhai looks good too. Doesn't hurt to play it safe this early; may as well, huh?"

"Yakuhai's for pussies," Aniya snaps, straining to get a look at Okada and Hamanaka's tiles. "What kind of bullshit are you teaching him?"

"Yakuhai is a perfectly legitimate yaku!" Hiratsuka roars, almost defensively, snapping down his discarded 3pin firmly enough to unsettle the order of adjacent tiles.

Akaboshi makes an indistinct grumbling noise, looking at each of them in turn. "Do you mind? I'm trying to concentrate."

"Not that tile, discard the one next to it," Imaoka instructs, smiling slightly. "Concentrate harder." He looks across the table at Hamanaka and shrugs. "You do what you can with the tiles you have."

"Well you can do it next round," Aniya scoffs, tipping his hand. "Ron, tan-yao."

Okada rolls his eyes. "Talk shit about a one han hand, ron on a one han hand."

"Furi-ten, more like it," Imaoka corrects, nonplussed, and the others lean in for a better look at Aniya's discards to confirm. "You can't call on a 2man, you discarded one like thirty seconds ago."

Hamanaka leans toward Okada and whispers, "Aniya-senpai really does suck at mahjong, you weren't kidding."

"Hey dumbass, I can hear you," Aniya snaps, leg swinging out to kick the leg of Hamanaka's chair as if in warning. "I may suck at mahjong but I can still kick your ass."

"So he admits he sucks at mahjong..." Hiratsuka muses, sounding genuinely pleased.

"So what do we do now?" Akaboshi asks, eyeing Aniya's revealed tiles opportunistically. "Keep going, or...?"

"I'm all for new tiles," Okada says, and Hamanaka nods.

"Seconded," Hiratsuka agrees.

"Motion passed," Imaoka concludes, and Akaboshi promptly tips their tiles, the others quickly following suit.

"Don't I get a say?" Aniya grumbles.

"You forfeit it when you tried to ron in furi-ten," Imaoka retorts, shuffling the tiles. "That and your points. House rules, you know the drill. Cough 'em up."

As Aniya hands over several point counters, swearing under his breath, Okada explains, "We instated a point penalty for stupid furi-ten situations to help break Hiratsuka's riichi-closed-wait-furi-ten bad habit."

Hamanaka hesitates long enough to work out the string of unfamiliar terms and then leans forward to get a better look at Hiratsuka. "How did that work out for you, Senpai?"

Hiratsuka glowers. "Shut up and sort your tiles, kid."

"Already done," Okada says, jabbing Hamanaka lightly with his elbow when he looks reproachful. "Come on, put your game face on."

Hamanaka narrows his eyes, scrutinizing the tiles carefully. "Four pairs... so, chi-toi?" he suggests, sounding a bit more confident than the last time.

"We could get more points for turning them into triples," Okada points out, "even if it's an open hand."

"You think anyone would discard the dora, though?" Hamanaka asks sceptically, neatly snapping a 4sou into place in his discards.

"Sure, we can play into that," Imaoka offers, watching Hiratsuka's discard before tossing out an 8pin of his own and glancing at Akaboshi. "You don't mind, right?"

Akaboshi shrugs. "Not doing us any good."

"Pon!" Hamanaka grabs the tile and slides it to the side with the two others, looking a bit more excited than necessary. "Thanks, Senpai."

Okada gives him another jab. "Game face, seriously."

Hamanaka scowls obediently.

Aniya scoffs. "Asking for discards? Am I the only one taking this game seriously?"

"Calm your tits, it's just a teaching game," Hiratsuka drawls, thumping his fist on the table and knocking over several of his own tiles. "Shit, nobody saw that, okay?"

"Aniya's just mad we're finally letting him play again but we're not taking it seriously enough for him to pretend he's a protagonist from a Fukumoto manga," Imaoka comments, frowning at Aniya. "Stop using us to try to live out your fantasies, it's grossing me out."

"Fuck you all," Aniya grunts, snatching up Hiratsuka's next discard. "Ron, yakuhai, go to hell."

"Nope, that's furi-ten again, dumbass," Okada replies as soon as he's had time to survey the discards. "You maybe want to get your shit together so we can play a decent game?"

"Stop sucking at mahjong!" Hiratsuka yells.

"Stop sucking at baseball!" Aniya yells back.

Hiratsuka flounders briefly before finally managing a scandalized gasp, and Imaoka presses his fingertips to his eyelids. "Why does it always come back to that...?"

Hamanaka frowns. "We have three dora and now we can't use them because Aniya-senpai can't check his discards before calling?"

Imaoka flicks a tile over. "And we're in tenpai."

"Yeah, yeah, take the damn point counters and quit your whining," Aniya gripes.

"At this rate Aniya-senpai's going to run out of points before anyone has enough time to put together a proper hand," Akaboshi mutters, sounding a bit put-out in spite of himself.

"Is this going to end with a three-way tie?" Hamanaka asks suddenly. "Because that would be totally lame and also kind of disappointing."

"It's not going to be a three-way tie!" Aniya objects promptly, mounting frustration edging into his voice.

"Oh, so you're going to step up your game?" Imaoka remarks dryly, exhaling hard enough to ruffle his bangs. "I look forward to it."

"All right, let's get this going," Okada interrupts before the bickering can continue, glancing over his tiles. "Those dragon tiles look nice, think we could do something with them?"

"Leave it to me!" Hamanaka exclaims and sets his jaw without being told.

"You know," says Imaoka, tone almost absentminded as he watches the discards carefully, "it's kind of surprising no one's gotten punched and the table's still upright."

"Aniya's setting a record for good behavior," Okada agrees, "but don't get too excited, the game's not over yet." He watches Hamanaka draw and discard a 4man without hesitation and nods his approval before returning his attention to Aniya's discards, watching them closely.

"Toko-chan's changed you, man." Hiratsuka looks at Aniya across the table, shaking his head, then smirks. "Hope she keeps at it."

"Can everyone just shut the fuck up for a minute?" Aniya demands, not looking up from his tiles. "There, riichi."

Okada rubs his forehead thoughtfully. "Closed wait?" he asks after brief consideration.

Aniya surveys his tiles quickly. "Well. Yeah."

"Okay, so do me a favour. Look at your discards, tell me if you see the tile you're waiting on."

Aniya snorts sceptically but looks anyway. "Well fuck."

"All right," Imaoka says, tenting his fingers and beginning to look a bit short on patience, "here's what's going to happen. We are going to keep playing. Aniya is in furi-ten and will not try to ron or tsumo. Somebody's going to throw together some kind of yaku and this is going to turn into a real game."

Hiratsuka casts a wary look to his left. "Sounds good," he says, pausing a moment before selecting his discard. "Let's go with that."

"Didn't sound like a suggestion," Akaboshi mutters, showing a tile to Imaoka for approval before discarding it.

Aniya grumbles indistinctly, everyone watching closely as he draws a tile, scowls at it, and adds it to his discards. "Don't give me that look, I'm not going to try to tsumo or anything."

"You say that, but..." Hamanaka draws a tile and grins. "Oh, cool. Tsumo." He tips his tiles, practically glowing with excitement. "Dai-san-gen."

Okada frowns, leaning over the table to squint at the tiles. "How did you put together yakuman that fast without me noticing?" he demands, glancing quickly about the table and settling back, looking somewhat mollified. "I guess I was keeping a closer eye on Aniya's tiles, but what the hell, I thought you said you weren't that good!"

Hamanaka fidgets with a tile, grinning nervously. "Well there's a lot of yaku to remember, but I thought at least memorizing the yakuman hands would be a good start so I'd know them when I see them, plus a couple cheaper yaku — yakuhai and whatever, you know."

"I can't tell if that makes perfect sense or no sense at all," Imaoka sighs, glancing to one side and promptly double-taking, eyes widening. "Aniya, what are you‐"

"Yo what the fuck—!" Hiratsuka yelps, hopping back with enough speed and force to knock his chair over just in time to get clear as Aniya upends the cheap folding table, tiles and all.

"Fuck this game!" Aniya yells, giving the table an extra kick before he starts to gather his things with an eye on the door.

It takes everyone a moment to collect themselves, and nobody looks pleased with the mess once they do. Okada is first to move, picking up his own overturned chair and slamming it down with enough force to scatter the tiles in its way. "I said 'don't flip your shit' and you said 'yeah, yeah, whatever'." He gathers a handful of tiles, looks for somewhere to set them, and lets his hand drop to his side in frustration, eyes narrowing. "You know if they're chipped I'm going to forcefeed you them, yeah?"

"Well anyway." Imaoka pulls the table back upright with Akaboshi's help and grunts, kicking one collapsed leg until it snaps back into place. "Congratulations on your dai-san-gen." He reaches over the table to shake hands with Hamanaka, who is looking both bewildered and kind of jumpy. "But I think it might be good for everyone if you make a point of memorizing some cheaper hands."