Everyone at Hope's Peak knows that Leon's a fan of music, even hoping to start a musical career despite his talent lying with baseball. They also know that before joining the other Super High School Level students at the academy, the lone album that wasn't punk rock or alternative on his playlist was a catchy J-Pop collection sung by Sakaya's idol group.
Naturally, no one was all that shocked by his obvious crush on the girl (the guy wasn't exactly the most subtle person on the planet, after all).
Sayaka, however, long accustomed to putting up a mask for her adoring fans, has quite a few secrets. One of the more innocent is her fascination with sports - Baseball, in particular. As a girl, her father always worked late so she had to entertain herself on her lonesome. Idol's girls might have been her salvation from loneliness but baseball was what gave her an inner fire (she'd pinned up a glittery banner, with the quote "As professionals we have a responsibility of providing a good show for the fans" by Suzuki Ichiro above her bed for years).
But it wasn't something you'd expect when presented with her demure and sweet persona, so she kept these facts to herself.
So, no one at Hope's Peak academy knew that Sayaka could throw a mean curve ball or secretly rooted for her favourite team, when watching TV in her room late at night. No one knew that during middle school, before taking notice of Makoto, she'd heard news of a baseball prodigy; and then covertly went to watch the up and coming team, participate in the Summer Kōshien. Wearing a brunette wig, topped by a pale pink cap then combined with faded jeans, she'd softly hummed along to 'The Laurels of Victory Shine on You' in the stadium. Anticipation had coiled deep within her bones.
Then she'd caught sight of him.
Flaming spiked hair and silver piercing's glinting in the light, he stood out, with an overall air of 'I don’t want to be here, this isn't worth my time' making her frown. Baseball (just like being an idol) was a group effort - you could have individual stars but you needed a team to make it work. Personally, Sayaka knew she would do just about anything for her girls. Still, if he was part of the tournament with an attitude like that, she concluded that his skills as a player must really be something. An Ace in the hole.
And he was. Oh, he was.
He made it look effortless. As 4th batter, he possessed a grace and intensity that she knew some stage stars would kill for. He drove runs in with extra-base hits, one after the other. It was mesmerising and yet…it was all mechanical, with no real passion. Thumbing through her ORIX buffaloes baseball card collection, after a night rehearsal, she couldn't help but feel a mix of disappointment and frustration, tinged with curiosity. Why didn't the up and coming baseball star feel the same determination as his peers? It was a mystery that her 'intuition' couldn't solve leaving her somewhat miffed.
Even so, with the inspiration of the famous singers plastered on her walls and the determined spark leant to her, from the fierce batting poses staring back up at her, she had more pressing things to worry about. Blue eyes carefully cultivated with eyeliner slid over to the emblazoned crest, on the bone coloured envelope, sitting quietly on her bedspread.
Hope's Peak was a prestigious academy and she didn't regret her choice to accept the enrolment but she couldn't shake a faint feeling of unease. Chalking it up to being nervous about soon having to leave middle school she'd gone to sleep not long after.
The next day, she was once again dressed in clothes she used to go incognito. As much as she truly cherished her fans, she liked to be in control of her environment as much as possible. Her manger worried that she was a workaholic and how silly was that? The entertainment industry was no joke! There was simply no time to waste, if she wanted to make a name for herself. Having said that, it made a shiver curl up her spine, to think of how the public would react if they knew some of the things she'd done, to get ahead in this business…
Pulling her cute scarf a little more tightly around her shoulders she dashed towards her usual hair salon. It was in one of the less crazy areas of the city, understated but promising. Her hair was always styled onset but this was the place she went to for regular maintenance.
The soft 'ding' of the bell had only just alerted her presence, when she found herself colliding into the (warm? strong?) back in front of her. Imagine her surprise at quickly finding herself face-to-face with one Kuwata Leon. Giving her a quick once over she could have sworn she'd seen him blush as his mid-rant was cut short. But blink-and-you'll-miss-it any sense of bashfulness at bumping into her disappeared as the usual lame flirting she was so familiar with kicked into gear.
Satisfied that he either didn't know who she was or didn't recognise her she could barely keep her polite responses in check. She could feel a sizzling anger underneath her skin (which only served to add a pretty rosy tint to her complexion). ‘So this is the kind of guy he is, huh?’ she’d thought.
Only in it for the girls and the fame. Not caring for one moment about the sport he played or the teammates who gave it their all, while he relied his innate talent?
When he asked what type of guy she liked, she could only bite back a smirk as she answered:
There. A person who couldn't even find it in themself, to put in effort for something they were good at, couldn't possibly have what it took to make it in the music business. And so, the responding (bright? charming?) grin was certainly a shock.
"Oh yeah? Sweet! I totally want be a singer. I've just got that rock star quality, y'know? Soon I'm goin' to this fancy school on a baseball scholarship but I just wanna use it to boost my rep, what do ya think?"
She would've liked to tell him exactly what she thought about his entitled attitude but was swiftly called to her appointment. The rest of the day had passed without further incident.
But apparently, the universe was just out to get her. Here she was, finally attending the academy that would secure her future once and for all - and he was there alongside her. And…the Super High School Level Baseball player still wanted to be a musician. He even asked her for singing lessons! At first, she'd simply declined, claiming her workload as an excuse, not wanting to associate with someone so lazy. But as soon proved to be the case with Leon, he continued to surprise her with his enthusiasm.
Meanwhile, trimesters flew by.
Then - one night after yet another late rehearsal, as she walked near the academy fields he was present. The confusion she felt was palpable. He said he hated the sport didn’t' he? So why was he out at night throwing a perfect pitch? Despite her feet aching from dance practise, she'd shimmered on over.
The look in his emerald eyes, at being 'caught', almost made her laugh out loud.
With a few words, she soon found herself a confidant. He poured out his anxiety, over not being able to regularly play the game he claimed to detest and passionately wrestled with how he would be able to pursue his dream as a vocalist, and still being a sport's star, at the same time. Rolling one of the white spheres in her hands, she felt the yarn stitching it together whilst musing on his words, before gracefully arching her hand and throwing a splitter straight across the diamond.
The look he made then - like a goldfish with its mouth open - made her giggle, hand covering her smile.
The rest of the twilight hours were like a dream, the deep purple sky lightened by the huge stadium lights hanging overhead. Gradually, Sayaka could feel her walls lowering, as she grew to understand a side to self-punk styled teen that she previously didn’t know to exist. Her was someone like her, who wanted to chase their dreams - it had just taken him a while to understand what they were.
The following morning as she rinsed her hair out in the shower, she couldn't take her mind off the way he had held her close while helping position her to improve the strength of her pitch. The way he talked fondly about his cousin, whom he hoped wasn't taking his absence to badly. The gleam in his eyes, as he talked about Yasu Shishido, his favourite rock star. With a look of fondness, she absentmindedly traced the shape of his name, against ivory tiles.
That day she wore a rare outward indicator of her interest in athletics. A silver charm bracelet, weighed down with beautifully carved bats, balls and mitts.
So, yes - no one (well, at this point almost no-one) at Hope's Peak academy knew that Sayaka could throw a mean curve ball or secretly rooted for her favourite team, when watching TV in her room late at night. And no one knew of her newfound (affection? attraction?) admiration for a certain fellow student in class 78.
But if one chose to look closely enough, behind her Super High School Level Idol image - one might be able to guess.