When Yufune came to practice dragging Okada by the arm and grinning, Hiyama just knew this was somehow going to end badly.
Especially when he declared, “I think Mikoshiba has a girlfriend, nya~!”
Hiyama couldn’t deny that it was an interesting thought—‘really, Mikoshiba? Of all people?’—but then Wakana, that shithead, had to get in on it.
“No way,” he said, leaning over in the conspiratorial way Hiyama knew boded Bad Things. It had been the way he looked when they had tried to get dates to the last dance of junior high by bothering the girls.
At the time, he hadn’t counted on their older brothers. Right now, it looked like he wasn’t counting on Mikoshiba’s ability to make them run forever keeping them out of the game for another six months.
Hiyama knew that saying any of this would work about as well when he had feebly protested last year; that is, not at all. Wakana was a nosy bastard, when it was all said and done.
Hiyama was too, even though he would never say it, and so he leaned in to better hear Wakana’s plan to find out for sure.
Thus it was that he found himself crouched behind a dumpster on the outer edge of the practice field that afternoon, with all three of his idiot friends basically on top of him, while they all stared at Mikoshiba talking to a pretty older girl they didn’t know. The two discussed something for a good fifteen minutes before a box exchanged hands. The girl hugged Miksohiba before he left—this caused Yufune to burst out with, “see? See?! I told you!”
Okada hushed him with an elbow to his ribs, nearly toppling Hiyama over when all their weight shifted forward, and nearly revealed them to their unwary prey.
Wakana’s brow was furrowed in thought the whole walk home, and even the next morning. Hiyama rolled his eyes when they met at the corner a block from each of their homes, and reached out to smack his best friend upside the head.
“Moron, it was obvious! You know it’s true. Quit freaking out over it,” he grumbled, walking past him with his school bag over his shoulder.
Wakana’s hands went immediately to his hair, and he cursed Hiyama out as he pushed the errant strands back into place. Then he said, “I’m not so sure. Something was weird there. We gotta get closer this time!” He trotted after the shortstop as he spoke.
Hiyama sighed, and nodded when Wakana pressed him for affirmation. The pair caught up with Okada and Yufune two blacks later, and Yufune got Wakana all worked up again as they planned their observation spot for the afternoon. Okada, trying to look uninterested, offered a few suggestions before Hiyama finally snapped.
“Morons,” he snapped, “we’re gonna use the window in the storage shed where they meet. We’ll listen from above—and be quiet this time—and then we’ll know for sure. Now shut the fuck up, I have a damn headache.”
Yufune and Wakana shared grins. Hiyama studiously ignored them the rest of the walk to practice.
Morning practice went as normally as usual—Aniya was grumpy and generally unpleasant, Mikoshiba was far too perky far too early in the morning, and Kawato was…well, Kawato. It was with a certain amount of gleeful pleasure, however, that Hiyama looked forward to that afternoon.
It certainly delivered. Once they were let free from practice, the group of boys raced back to the clubroom, changed faster than they ever had, and were gone.
Sekikawa, who had been lightheartedly arguing with Shinjo, stuck his head out after them.
“…what the hell?” he asked, scratching his head as he worked to pull on his t-shirt.
Shinjo frowned. “They’re up to no good,” he commented, shrugging on his uniform jacket.
Mikoshiba glanced at his watch, and then announced, “I’m gonna go. There’s something I have to do on the way home.”
He left, waving goodbye to the other team members, and made a sharp turn at the entrance. There was a large storage shed at the edge of the school grounds for all the sports teams to use. Under one of the large, partially-open windows, stood his sister, An.
Wakana had ushered all three of his friends into the storage shed and led them to the back, where a whole bunch of broken desks were stacked.
“Let’s go,” he declared, rubbing his hands together with a certain amount of glee before working his way up the mound of bent-leg tables, occasionally swaying precariously as the desks moved around. Hiyama had followed him, cursing under his breath, and the two perched themselves to the left of the window on a slightly sturdier pile of desks. Okada had been calmer about the whole thing, and led Yufune to the storage cabinet on the right side. The two were sitting, squeezed tightly together, on the bench—and squabbling over who was using more room on the thing—when they heard the girl speak. Wakana hushed them all harshly—even Hiyama, who found that unfair, since he hadn’t even been talking—and all four leaned in close to listen.
“Toru!” she was calling, a smile splitting her face. Mikoshiba smiled back.
“An,” he answered, “how was your day?”
“Busy,” she answered, “and I wish I could see you more often. But with daddy…”
Mikoshiba glanced up when he heard a noise from above; he shrugged when An looked askance at him.
“I know. I wish you didn’t live so far away, though.”
“I had to get out of the house, Toru. Daddy was driving me crazy! Trying to marry me off…” Their father had been on a campaign to get his daughter to marry the boring son of the laundromat next door. An had argued with him about it over and over before giving up and moving out.
An glanced at her watch and then gasped. “Oh, look how late it is! I’m sorry for keeping you here so late, Toru! I have a present for you~” she teased, pulling a box from the bag at her side. Their father’s 50th birthday was in the next week, and An—who now lived in her own apartment just out of walking distance from their home, but close by the school—had been giving Mikoshiba supplies that he and his mother were setting up in secret for the surprise party. She handed the small package to Mikoshiba, who carefully put it under his arm.
“Thanks, An,” he said, deadpan.
“You’re certainly welcome! I have to go, or else I’ll never be able to wake up for my class in the morning, so good night, Toru! Who would have known university was this hard?!”
“Gee, no one,” answered Mikoshiba drily. Then his head snapped up: he knew he had heard something this time.
“…did you hear something?” he asked suspiciously.
“No,” she answered.
Mikoshiba frowned, but let it go. The basketball club members tended to be really late at practice, too, so it wasn’t that surprising for anyone else to be on campus.
An reached up and wrapped her arms about his neck. “Love you, Toru, good night!”
“…love you too,” he grumbled, after she glared at him. He didn’t like to say it, but she insisted on it—one of those weird older-sister obsessions.
Mikoshiba went home and delivered the box of party favors to his mother.
The next morning, Mikoshiba reported to club duties to find the other club members staring at him; he shook his head when he caught Wakana and Imaoka discussing something in hushed tones, and want on with his morning.
He reported to homeroom, only to find his classmates staring at and whispering about him. This happened until lunch break. Mikoshiba, unable to eat with all the staring, looked around, confused, until Sekikawa launched himself into the seat in front of his, demanding, “why didn’t you tell me about your hot college girlfriend who gives you presents?!”
Mikoshiba sat up straight in his chair.
“What?!” he yelped.
“Who said anything about that?!”
“Is it supposed to be a secret?” asked Wakana, at is left.
“Because meeting her at school was kind of a bad idea,” commented Okada, at his right.
“Especially right by the storage shed, nya,” purred Yufune, above him.
“…that’s my sister. Gross,” said Mikoshiba, thoroughly disgusted with his clearly brain-dead, overly curious teammates.
“She was giving me stuff for my dad’s surprise birthday party, you morons,” he said, breathing deeply to keep calm. ‘Must not give four starters laps until they die. Must not give four starters laps until they die. Must not-‘
“…you three were the ones in the storage shed last night?!”
“It was Hiyama’s idea, and he was there too!” yelled Wakana, shoving his best friend under the proverbial bus to save his own behind.
“Be grateful we have a game next week, or you’d all be running laps until you died. As it is, you’re running 50. After practice. That’ll teach you to spy. And spread rumors.”
Yufune actually whimpered when the sentence was passed down, but Mikoshiba was too disgruntled to care. Once all four looked properly cowed, he turned back to his bento, and he began to eat.
Needless to say, Wakana and his friends didn’t spy on Mikoshiba any more.
Aniya was still perfectly fair game, though.