Disclaimer: I don't own Saki. Saki owns me. At Mahjong. Every. Freaking. Time.
A girl with too-short green hair and a masculine presence sighed as she pushed aside the door to her teammate's room, half-expecting to see what she was seeing already. It was still surreal, though. Their new Captain was so lax that it amazed her sometimes. Well, she knew a lot of people with the same problem, but this one really took the cake in heavy sleeping. After all, she didn't really know anybody else who slept in until three in the afternoon, despite having turned in ridiculously early.
"Miyanaga, I think that's enough sleep." She gently shook the slight girl currently rolled up in the futon provided for her, careful not to get on her bad side. For some reason, the girl had elected to have her bed swapped with one after the hotel staff gave her the thumbs-up. Oohoshi found it weird, but did not comment any further, as pissing off the normally timid chestnut-haired dojikko of their team was something she had decided was 'dangerous'. Matano Seiko, for the life of her, actually didn't know exactly what happened between the two, as she was out for official business when it happened. However, as she'd heard from Sumire, pissing Miyanaga Saki off is not something you do if you value your life. It was second-hand advice, true, but it was from the trustworthy club president, and it was better safe than sorry.
"Unn… fifty more minutes…"
Despite finding her teammate's morning-voice-in-the-after-freaking-noon saying an almost mechanical line that sounded like it was taken from an anime that had too many girls who don't wear skirts ridiculously cute when grouped with her meek sleeping expression and the act of pushing away the foreign article that was trying to jeopardize her sleep, Seiko couldn't help but feel a tick appear on her forehead at that. Using as little force as she could, she pulled on the Captain's chest length hair and repeatedly tugged gently.
The girl tried to twist and turn to refuse the call to wakefulness, but her efforts were all in vain. In the end, she was forced to accept the reality that whoever was trying to wake her would keep on trying it until she did. Being doused with ice-cold water- complete with ice cubes, mind you- wasn't exactly a pleasant experience, and something she'd rather avoid happening again. This is why she pushed herself up and pushed away the hand that still held a tuft of her hair-
Well, that was the plan, anyway. Instead, as her hair's captor released its victims, the hand from under her slipped with the covers, and without support from either her waist or arms, she fell back and unfortunately landed her head a bit beyond the pillow that was supporting her head's weight not a minute earlier. Do note that hitting the back of your head against any sort of floor, be it wood, cement, or loam, hurt like a bitch. Saki's head was no exception, and she let out a yelp of pain before visually ricocheting back up and holding the back of her head with both of her hands, tears and a lump slowly forming on separate parts of her head.
"Matano-senpai, that was cruel!" Her teary-eyed state shocked Seiko out of her, well, shock, and the fear of enraging the sleeping terror, pun not intended, that compelled her to get as close to the wall farthest from the girl in pain herself quickly turned into concern for a friend, and she was back by the girl in no less than a second.
"No, I mean yes- but, well, um- no don't cry! I should have helped you up. It's partially my fault. I'm sorry!"
"No senpai, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to worry you! I'm fine! It's not your fault!"
Their voices overlapped with each other, so it was no surprise that both of them didn't really hear much of what the other was saying. Of course, neither of them realized that Saki's bed clothing had fallen off her shoulders and were now practically hanging by her arms and waist. Neither of them realized the club president entering the room to check what the commotion was all about either. Thankfully, though, Seiko wasn't exactly the sort of person who reveled in physical contact, so what Hirose Sumire witnessed in that room were two regulars of their mahjong club bowing dogeza-style in front of each other. Definitely not a scene one would expect if it was a shoujo-ai love comedy.
"Matano, get back to the playing hall now. Your block's matches will begin in about an hour, and it would be a disgrace to lose the match by default because you were tardy." Sumire sounded like a strict mother-coach, but one had been around her long enough to identify the well hidden concern in her teammate's voice. Pushing herself up, Seiko apologized one more time to the now-silent Saki, who shook her head and smiled. The boyish girl then quickly left the room, though not before shooting her teammate a smile in return.
"And you," Sumire placed her hand on the late sleeper's head, making her flinch from the pain, "will get yourself cleaned up and eat properly. Skipping two meals is bad enough; I won't let you make that three. Also, do note that just because we're not around to check how you're doing does not mean you can neglect your basic needs." There was no room for objection, only silent obedience.
"Y-yes, president. I'll get to it right away. And I'll keep that in mind."
"Tsk. That's no way to talk. Hold your head up with confidence, befitting the enigmatic ace of Shiraitodai."
Saki didn't really get why she had to hold her head up with confidence when she was being told to do something. Did Sumire want her to rebel or something? Was she a closet M? Still, something in that statement failed to escape her attention.
"Oh, so you're not even questioning being the ace now, eh? Well, that's good, actually. And yes, enigmatic. After all, you haven't played a game with anybody outside of Shiraitodai, so nobody knows how you play. And yet you're the Captain, favored over even yours truly, two-time champion of the West Tokyo individuals, and three-time champion if things go well, though I seriously doubt that as you're joining this year. It's also controversial how Oohoshi Awai, now dubbed as the 'monster first-year of Shiraitodai' through dominating the team finals despite playing as the vanguard, would say that she couldn't even hope to beat the team's Captain even if she played seriously."
Though it grated Saki how everybody seemed to stress the word 'captain' when talking to her, she kept her calm, rubbing at the fresh lump on her head that was slowly beginning to harden. Hopefully, it wouldn't bruise if she took a cold bath and placed an ice pack on it soon. While it's really inconsequential, since her hair covers it anyway, it would still hurt every time something touched it. Resisting the urge to continue rubbing on it, she responded. "What's so controversial about Awai-chan telling the truth?"
Sumire looked honestly surprised at that, and let out a short laugh. "I guess you are confident enough. I'll leave you to your own devices, then. I also have my matches soon after Seiko's. But please take care of yourself. The next time you fail to get up just because you have nothing important to do for the day might be your last if nobody's there to wake you up."
With that, the Shiraitodai Mahjong Club president left the room without another word. Saki was tempted to go back to sleep, but Sumire would probably grill her alive if she didn't get up soon. Still, lying down for a few more minutes seemed to be a great idea. She let herself fall back into the bed-
-and sprang back up to a sitting position before her head could even hit the pillow.
"Gonna take a bath~ Ehehe." She said in a singsong voice, already beginning to fix her beddings.
After taking a shower and relieving a bit of her hunger with some crackers, Saki looked at the clock, and deciding that it's way past the time for an afternoon snack anyway, she might as well just go out and get herself some ramen or something, to last her until the hotel's dinner buffet. So, donning the wireframe vanity glasses that Takami gave her and reminding herself not to tie her hair in pigtails, she went on her way, making sure that her door key and money purse were in the inside pockets of the blue jacket she put on over her knee-length cream dress.
Like this, nobody would know that she was Miyanaga Saki from Shiraitodai High.
She tried to remember why exactly she needed to go out incognito, but for the life of her, she couldn't. Shrugging it off, she went around looking for the nearest ramen place, this time wondering why she had to stay in a hotel in the first place. Then she remembered their coach saying "we have the club funds for it, so why not?" She made a lopsided grin, probably looking like a madwoman to other people, as she recalled their team's antics. The coach never really gets involved with the club, giving them free reign of all the proceedings. In fact, it's as if their adviser was only there to provide them with signatures for waivers and be the acting student guardian during off-campus endeavors. Still, their coach's carefree demeanor was sometimes viral, not like she herself didn't have enough of that trait already.
However, she felt like she needed to feel more tension. After all, while she, Oohoshi Awai, Shibuya Takami, Matano Seiko, and Hirose Sumire are already sure to go to the Nationals as a team, there was no assurance that her sister would even be in the team tournament, like the previous year where she completely dominated Nagano's individuals, and subsequently the National competition, in one fell swoop. Therefore, to maximize her chances of having a match with her, she'd need to become a representative for the West Tokyo individuals as well. And to do that, she'd have to get into the top three. The problem was that it felt like that was too easy to achieve anyway, so she couldn't hype herself for it. After all, she does trump the one who was a veteran at winning that contest even when they play seriously in the clubroom.
So lost in thought she was that it was too late when she realized that there was a streetlight in front of her, and hit it head first, effectively making her fall on her butt on the Tokyo sidewalk. That hurt, she thought as she picked herself up. After rubbing her forehead and checking if hitting the metal pole left a mark on her face or dented the glasses' frame, she looked around and realized that she'd strayed quite far from the hotel without even realizing that she'd been lost in thought. She tried to retrace her steps, hoping to at least see a familiar store name or stoplight, but no such luck. In fact, she seemed to have ended up even farther than earlier.
"Uuu. I'm lost again."
To Saki, such happened so often that it didn't take much thought to know that it happened, though she was somewhat alarmed by how relaxed she was despite being in a sticky situation, objectively speaking. She checked her pockets, but the phone their coach lent her was nowhere to be found. Sighing in defeat, she instead refocused herself to just finding food soon. She can worry about getting home later. The playing hall was sort of a landmark as well, so she could just head there and choose to go back to the hotel with the upperclassmen.
A few blocks away, she finally found what she'd been looking for in the first place. Scanning the Ramen shop's internal fixtures from the entrance, she also found a little extra something she wasn't sure she should be glad about or not. But be it less than savory, it would be rude to ignore her presence, so as she walked towards the girl with her golden hair tied in a ponytail over a tank top that felt like it revealed more than it should and rugged short shorts, she decided to get it over and done with.
The girl looked up in alarm, noodles hanging from her lip, before realizing who it was that called out to her. She sped up her slurping even as her eyes seemed to glow in excitement. Well, maybe in this girl's case, the proper adjective would be "arousal".
"Saki-nyan! How nice of you to join me in this wonderful meal. What brings you here? I'd think you'd still be sleeping at this time of day!"
Ignoring the slight tick that the comment made appear on her forehead, letting her be as what she said was technically true, she responded. "Yeah. Matano-senpai and President woke me up and told me to take care of myself. Speaking of which, though, why are you here? Don't you also have your individuals today?"
Spinning her chopsticks in her hand with an odd motion Saki couldn't comprehend yet, she replied. "Yes, but all of my block's matches were over a bit past lunch time, so I went back to the hotel to freshen myself up, then went out to get something to eat."
Oh, she was using the circular motion of her wrists to keep it going around, and moving her thumb out of the way and back quickly. Still, that's quite diffi- wait, she…
"You were in the hotel earlier?"
She nodded, swallowing after taking in a mouthful of food.
"And you didn't wake me up?"
"But you looked so cute, drooling like that! It was all I could do not to harass you." Cue the creepy grin that sent chills down Saki's spine.
"So you went to my room at one point, and you didn't wake me up? Geez…" Saki sighed in defeat as she took a seat beside the blonde troublemaker and called out for one of the people serving, settling for beef ramen with extra soup.
Quickly finishing her own serving and handing it to the waiter, asking for another serving, Awai leaned back on her chair and sighed, though in her case it was out of bliss.
"So, um, Awai-chan, that was your-"
Saki grimaced. The reason she asked for extra soup was so she'd feel filled, but digest enough to eat a full meal later. Still, she was used to the other freshman of their team doing this kind of thing, and she knew that the girl wasn't even near filled. Shaking her head, she leaned on the wooden table, regretfully reflecting that she'd neglected to bring herself a book. She was somewhat grateful that the surface wasn't too rough, or else she wouldn't be able to-
"Saki-nyan, if you're going to sleep here, I'm going to tell on you."
Ugh. Well, something like that is just asking for some payback, so…
"Shouldn't you be studying?" Saki said quickly.
"Waah! I couldn't interrupt it." Awai remarked with a grimace.
Despite being divided to west and east, Tokyo still had enough entrants to the individual competition that the eliminations had to be held for two days. By some stroke of luck, or maybe misfortune, only Saki ended up having eliminations on the second day, so the walk to the venue felt a bit lonely. Well, she'd have more time to be sad if she wasn't busy making sure her disguise wasn't so obvious. Sumire knew she was deathly shy, and was kind enough to lend her a beret and a long brown coat to wear over her blue-lined white school uniform. She was grateful too, since she knew that without it, she'd be swarmed by reporters and stuff. After all, today was the anticipated "first public match of Shiraitodai's mysterious freshman captain". Inwardly, she blamed Awai and Takami for doing so well in the team games that she and Sumire never got a chance to play. Still, she had to hand it to her usually-silent glasses-donning upperclassman. Repeatedly getting dealer repeats and making one of the other teams go bust by a direct hit Haneman instead of waiting for the All Green hand she'd been assembling to harvest for later was quite impressive.
Awai was a different case altogether. She played rather viciously at the finals, taking full advantage of the fact that winning 8 times in a row would give her next hands 48000 points regardless of original value. To think they'd win with a blowout score of 313800 during the first player's match was quite surprising, though also somewhat amusing to see via screen. She guessed that it had something to do with her being lost before that match started, though.
She flew right past the bystanders and hurriedly made her way to the players' area, silently showing a security guard her identification card. She then took out a piece of paper that Seiko had given her, containing specific instructions about how to get to the waiting room assigned to Shiraitodai High, complete with a detailed map of the vicinity. She let a small smile appear on her lips, appreciating how much her team was looking out for her, despite her many misgivings. It felt good and reassuring, knowing she had good friends on her back. They all but laughed at her little mess-up the previous day, getting lost not only in the city, but also in the playing hall.
After finding the door to the allocated room, she turned the knob and pushed it aside, finding the same lounge they'd used for the team competition. She felt a little odd about the fact that their school, and some of the other seeded schools, got this special treatment, while those from other schools had to use benches or go outside to get some rest before and after their games. Still, she was a bit thankful that she wouldn't have to walk far during intermissions, since there was no way the management would let them play again and again without breaks, and having an actual break room for that purpose was very much welcome. She went towards the screen, deciding to turn it on and amuse herself by watching and analyzing other players' games- or as Awai liked to call it, 'making fun of their bad discards'- before her first, which would begin in an hour. Only then did she belatedly realize that the screen was already turned on, and…
"Saki, I can't see."
Sitting on one of the sofas was her teammate who seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of tea with her at all times. In fact, rumor has it that she manages not to let go of her cup during swimming or track, which was both impressive and crazy at the same time. She moved aside and muttered an apology before moving to sit beside Shibuya Takami, her silent upperclassman.
"Um, Takami-san, why are you here? I thought your preliminary matches finished yesterday?"
As she was informed yesterday, Takami was actually already disqualified from the individual competition for not reaching the top 10 scorers of her block. She was at a close number 12, though, and only +4 points away. Saki knew it was painful to lose like that, being one step from victory, only to be denied it. In her defense, Saki knew that despite the fact that all of the preliminary games were East wind matches, Takami was competent enough to at least defeat all the non-regulars in their club without relying on her last round Yakuman. That definitely showed during the prefectural semi-final match of the team games. This meant that she was just unlucky then, as Mahjong is a game greatly influenced by luck, or that all her competitors in that block were quite competent. She doubted the second option, though.
"President wanted me to look after you."
Saki thought the proper reaction to such a statement would be open-mouthed offense, but all she could do was nod in assent. She herself knew she was too much of a klutz to be left alone just like that, and was taking off the coat and hat and removing the glasses when Takami decided to continue.
"Also, she told me to make sure you had your phone on you."
The pig-tailed girl stopped at that, and checked her skirt pocket, only to realize that it was empty. Meaning she'd forgotten to bring her keys and purse as well.
"Don't worry. I can lend you money in the meantime, if you need any. Plus, President already knew you'd forget your phone on your own and told me to lend you mine when she needs to contact you."
"Ahaha. I don't know how to say this enough, but thanks, Takami-san."
The short-haired girl gave her a smile that she usually saved for when her 'harvest' was coming. In Saki's opinion, she looked beautiful every time she did so.
"It was no trouble, Saki."
Mitaka Aya, one of Sanzenin All-Girls School's representatives in the individuals, was grinning in self-satisfaction. So far, she'd won both hands in a table with two students from schools of low prestige and the team competition's champion team's fifth player, who was currently playing as dealer. She'd been hyped as a 'national-level monster' by the media, but so far, she'd only been a dunce. With 32900 points, she knew she shouldn't be so confident yet. One baiman tsumo from any of the other players would evaporate her lead immediately. However, her hand had shaped up quite well, with a 2-sided wait tenpai for a non-dealer haneman without riichi. That said, the tile she had to discard for it was somewhat risky, as she hadn't seen it in the pond yet, but she decided that the gamble was worth it. She picked up the 7-sou and made it her sixth discard. However, as she withdrew her hand, she suddenly felt an overwhelming pressure from Shiraitodai, who'd been silent until now.
Shiraitodai's captain reached over to pick a tile from the dead wall, the somewhat long pigtails hanging on her back seeming ominous instead of cute, which should have been the original intention. She then declared a closed Kan of the 9-man and flipped the dora indicator with practiced ease after drawing another tile dead wall.
Declaring an open Kan of the 9-man after the 7-sou? That's weird. That would limit her potential number of valid Yaku a lot. She does get more fu points, but with a terminal in the mix, she just gave up on an all-simples tan'yao hand. Maybe an all triples toitoi hand? Or maybe she's just going for a three-kan sankantsu, however improbable that is... Wait, that's-
Aya couldn't help but gasp as the indicator revealed itself to be a 3-pin. With that, her concealed chinitsu 1 red dora riichi just increased in value. That would score her at least 16000! She was so excited that Shiraitodai was already drawing from the dead wall when she realized that the pigtailed girl just did it again for the 6-pin. She had been too caught up in her own hand that she hadn't realized Shiraitodai already had a high-scoring one of her own. That Sankantsu was quite a jump in han value. If she had to estimate Shiraitodai's hand, it would be a baiman at the least, since one of the indicators happened to be the 5-pin. However, with those reckless Kans, her hand should be a total mess, so she shouldn't be worried just-
"Once more, Kan."
Aya gasped as Shiraitodai's captain revealed her complete set of the west tiles and pushed it aside before reaching for a tile from the dead wall once more, and was flabbergasted by how she slammed the chun tile on the table then revealing its pair without even looking and declaring her win like it was the most natural thing in the world. People just don't get a Rinshan Kaihou so easily like that! The moment of initial shock passed, and she sighed, the realization that she'd just lost all of the points she'd gained plus some change from one tsumo dawning on her. She was still in second place, so maybe she could do something about it during her round as dealer.
"Tsumo, Suukantsu. That'll be 48000, Sanzenin."
"Eh? But it's a self-drawn win, so shouldn't I pay 16000?"
The player from Shiraitodai, whom Aya just remembered was named Sami or something, looked completely befuddled at this.
"But I completed that hand from a Daiminkan with your discard, and won the hand with a Rinshan Kaihou in my turn. The tournament rules include 'the responsible one pays,' so you'll have to pay for the hand yourself."
I got sniped, huh…
She shook her head at her oversight, and then blinked repeatedly when she realized another thing.
I-I've gone bust!?'
Her point indicator showed -15100, meaning the game was over for her, and for everyone in the table. She let her mouth hang in the incredulity of the moment. She'd let her guard down for a moment, and everything was taken from her in a flash.
"Thanks for the game." Shiraitodai's captain greeted, promptly vacating her seat as everybody else echoed her, just as shocked as Aya had been.
"Nice game," she said, still feeling somewhat numb. She couldn't put as much conviction in it as she could have, but nobody could have blamed her. She'd just played into a Yakuman during her first individuals match! Who would expect such a thing?
So that was… a national-level monster.
Not having enough energy to lift herself off the chair at the moment, she contented herself with staring at the ceiling, ignoring the bright lights and thinking. Did she even have a chance to win that match in the first place? She certainly thought so before, but after playing that girl, she now doubted anyone in this side of the prefecture had a chance to trump Shiraitodai's ace.
In some café somewhere, a girl was sipping on her espresso while listening to the radio.
"The first Yakuman of the day has been played in block B-6! And it's by Miyanaga Saki, captain of Shiraitodai High School which is representing West Tokyo in this coming 71st Inter-High Mahjong Competition! As you'd expect from one of the veteran schools in this prefecture, their players are relentless. A Suukantsu… that's quite a hard win, isn't it, Mihirogi-pro?"
"True. It's one of the more uncommon Yakuman, and that's saying something. Also, notice that she was in pair-wait tenpai for a Suuankou earlier. Instead, she decided to reveal one of her sets by declaring an Open Kan instead, which ruined her chance to win with Suuankou. Then she wins with a different Yakuman, and via Rinshan Kaihou, too. Doing something like that is almost unheard of, but what's most intriguing is that it felt like she was leading Mitaka into discarding that 7-sou. Add to that the fact that both players from Kiba All Girls and Jugemu High were both one tile away from tenpai and were holding on to a chun tile each, and you'd almost think that all of them were in Miyanaga's grasp. But I don't really know!"
The long-haired girl shook her head as she heard that, while the somewhat boyish one across her just gave a small laugh.
"Saki's not usually that merciless, right President?" A waiter came and delivered her order of Flan, and she dismissed him with a bow and a mutter of thanks.
"Well, she's playing much more seriously right now than she usually does. After all, it's her personal goal to face Miyanaga Teru in the nationals." After speaking, she returned to sipping her warm beverage.
"But you know, senpai, she wasn't wearing the flip-flops you recommended her to wear, so…"
"She's holding back anyway."
It unnerved her how her teammate could be so amazing even when she wasn't giving it her all, but it also made her feel a little giddy. After three years, Shiraitodai finally had a shot at the Inter-high championship again.
With the lights turned off, Saki slowly laid herself down on the futon and tried to find a comfortable position. She felt like she'd overdone it, accumulating over +400 points, acquiring a landslide win of the 1st position in her block, as well as the whole eliminations. She comforted herself with the thought that her sister was probably doing something similar somewhere in Nagano.
"Onee-chan…" She muttered as her eyes fluttered to a close.
We'll talk again soon. And we'll be a family again.
These were their hands before the discard, if you care.
Aya's hand: 1o-2o-2o-3o-3o-3o-4o-4o-'5'o-7o-8o-9o-9o-*6o-9o wait*
Saki's hand: 9m-9m-9m-7i-7i-7i-6o-6o-6o-W-W-W-R-*R wait*
The other two's: irrelevant, except for the little tidbit that Mihirogi was yapping about.
#o – Dot (Pin) tiles
#i – Bamboo (Sou) tiles
#m – Moon rune (Wan) tiles
N/E/W/S – Wind tiles – North, East, West, South (Pei, Ton, Sha, Nan)
B/G/R – Dragon tiles – Blank, Green, Red (Haku, Hatsu, Chun)
Any Tile – Dora
1st: Shiraitodai – 68500 (25000-4800+1500-1200+48000)
2nd: Jugemu – 24300 (25000+0+1500-2200+0)
3rd: Kiba – 22300 (25000+0-1500-1200+0)
4th: Sanzenin – -15100 (25000+4800-1500+4600-48000)
Positions were as follows- First hand, East Sanzenin, South Kiba, North Jugemu, West Shiraitodai. One Renchan. Dice roll irrelevant.
Now for the notes:
I don't have a lot to say, except that my respect for Ritz-sensei has risen. Rigging these Mahjong games need a lot of thought. If you see any inaccuracy with the scoring, or something invalid with what I did, please don't hesitate to tell me. I'm open to criticism, and I'm not used to writing about the finer points of the game at this level. By the way, if you're going to argue something about a 2200/1200 hand not existing, do note that that's just a 2000/1000 hand, factoring in the counters. I have a feeling that I messed something up in there, though…
Well, whatever. Don't expect an update soon. A month at the earliest, four at the latest is the best I can give. Oh, and to those who got here from following TCG, yeah, update's in the works, so don't worry about me dropping anything.
Also… yes, I know Saki's hair should be short. Yes, I know Awai usually has her hair down. To answer those questions, Saki didn't get that haircut she had before her third year of middle school. And Awai went incognito as well. Why? For the lulz, of course.
Well, until next time. Tune in for an update, drop a line if you will, and have a fun holiday season.
p.s. Oh, wow, I missed the website's update which began reallowing the use of interrobangs. !? !? !? Yayay~