Date: 16 Nov 2007
Disclaimer: I don't own Eyeshield 21. Sometimes, I wish I'm Bill Gates.
Summary: Will Mamori win? Will Hiruma remain the loser? We all know this'll end happily.. maybe.
Just a glimpse:
Drizzle. Sizzle. Whistle.
Rain. Drain. Lane?
F-! More like lame.
White. Might. Spite.
Hiruma Youichi looked up at the dark clouds, letting the rain shower his face and hoping that the drops would wash away the crazy thoughts inside his head. This was one of those very rare times he felt like such an idiot. Well, there's no mistaking that he just left a roomful of people who probably thought he's the biggest idiot in the world.
"Hn.. fuck them!" he murmured, as he jammed his hands inside his jacket pocket.
He can feel the steel of his gun, as cold as the rain, brushing against his palm. This did not give him comfort, however. He dared not look back at the café window, afraid that she'd be looking out for him.
Just think about something else, he told himself.
Forget the fucking manager. Forget everything she said.
But why really? Isn't it finally time? – sounded off the angelic / choir boy-faced / clean-cut Hiruma of his imaginary conscience.
Time?! Time for fucking what?!
For you to stop being a fucking immature fool!
A note was left taped outside her locker the next morning. It was written in a small, unmarked piece of paper. It read:
Your first assignment is to observe the fucking team. I need to make
some cuts. Some of the brats are just too damn useless to keep around.
Practice starts at 5:00 pm sharp. Don't be fucking late or you're out.
Anezaki sighed; so much for enthusiasm. It seemed like her first day as the new manager will be as hellish as she imagined. And Hiruma seemed to have forgotten about her "only one condition". Well, she thought as she walked through the familiar corridors of their university building, I'll just have to remind him later.
Only after passing the library, the female restroom, a dozen or so class rooms, and the bulletin board filled with posters of their college American football club featuring the new and improved Eyeshield 21, did she realize that on this day of days, not one person greeted her. This is very odd, because commonly, almost everyone would try to catch her attention by calling out to her, trying to convince her to join their club, yet again, or just simply saying hello. But this day was different. No one smiled, waved, or even looked at her. She felt like smoke. And they all seemed to take a certain detour when she passes them by. And she can hear faint whispers, murmurs, though she cannot discern what they were about. Increasingly, though, she's starting to have this very bad feeling that all the subdued talks are about her.
In almost an instant after this thought occurred, the only answer dawned on her: Hiruma.
It was only quarter to five but she rushed into the football field, not really afraid of getting late, but very much eager to confront the team captain/demon quarterback. She can see a few other students sitting around the bleachers, most probably football fans or friends of the soon-to-be cut varsity team members. She sat near the locker rooms but did not dare to enter such private quarters. She wondered if they have a cheering squad, then she remembered there's no Suzuna here who totally idolizes the devil. It's a real pity she never saw any of their games before. She was too busy trying to forget. Now, she felt like such a "foreigner".
Five, ten minutes passed after five. Still, no football team came out.
What is he playing at?, she thought.
The bleachers are almost half-full now, yet the spectators seemed patient enough to wait for the practice to start and for the team who will probably never come out. Anezaki looked towards the locker doors. She looked out on to the field and almost cried out in frustration.
Where are they?! Where is he?!
The whole field shook. There was no mistaking what the sound was. It was the sound of a bazooka being fired very close to where she was sitting. But this was not what made her remain where she was, sitting mesmerized. Instead of chaos, the whole place was enveloped by silence; deep, certain, and almost menacing. Another loud bang and everyone else stood up at once. Then, they started going down from their seats in the bleachers, marching towards – her.
Only when the first person in line was approaching her did she see that all of them are holding something in one hand: a single white carnation. Literally hundreds of flowers are marching their way towards her. One by one, they gave her the flowers in their hands. Pretty soon, she had to put them beside her at the bench, not able to hold them altogether. She felt nauseated, not solely because of their sweet smell, but also with everything else that's happening. The last two people on the line were Tara and Tomo. They smiled at her weakly and gave her the flowers they were holding without a word, and then scampered away with the crowd. After this, the locker doors behind her burst open, spilling the missing football team, looking forlorn in their -
"Tuxedoes?", Anezaki blurted out.
They were wearing tuxedoes over their uniforms. They stood on a straight line, smiling like idiots, in front of her and started singing an almost familiar song; which she understood well because she was a quarter American after all:
She can kill with a smile
She can wound with her eyes…
Oh, she takes care of herself
She can wait if she wants
She's ahead of her time
Oh, and she never gives out
And she never gives in
She just changes her mind
But she'll bring out the best
And the worst you can be
Blame it all on yourself
Cause she's always a woman to me
She realized, as the song progressed, that the entire field was humming in the background. It was all so overwhelming. She closed her eyes, stopped thinking, and just listened. There were more than a few off notes, but she couldn't care less since she's not a singer anyway. All in all, it was sweet: as sweet as the smell of the sea of carnations surrounding her. She was still floating when the song ended.
"Did you like it?", a familiar voice asked from behind.
She knew who he was. She so wanted to see him, but she also wanted to savor the moment which will surely never last and will probably never happen again.
"I'm talking to you, fucking manager", he said.
"Hmm.. shut up, Hiruma", she answered rather sweetly.
The whole team and those close enough to hear gasped in unison, but she kept her eyes closed. However, what he did next made her open her eyes in an instant and invited a louder gasp from those around.
"Hi—Hi—Hiruma, are you -?" she stuttered.
"Are you proposing to me?"
He had slipped a ring on her finger, an unadorned band which was probably made of platinum (really durable and expensive stuff).
"I can buy you a diamond ring, but that'll be too cumbersome. You might lose it in the field, during a game", he explained.
She almost did not hear this because her eyes were focused on the ring's engraving. It said: "Mamori – Youichi".
The tears just came without being called forth; then she laughed, trying to hide them from him for he'll surely be annoyed and might suddenly withdraw his proposal.
"Ha.. ha.. in alphabetical order, ne?" she asked, while laughing and crying like some lunatic.
"Hn. Just be glad it doesn't say: "fucking manager", he answered and abruptly stood up.
After that, well, things went back to the usual: he fired a few rounds from his uzi carbine and ordered the fucking team to take off their tuxedoes and to clean up the field of fucking flowers, and to start warming up. All the while, Mamori was lost in her own thoughts, alternately telling herself that she should have worn something much nicer today and scolding herself for being too speechless and too overwhelmed, and then going around and around the thought of how her new fiancé looked so handsome with a shorter, but nonetheless trademark, haircut, and how beautiful his dark eyes were, which without contact lenses were black with bluish striations, and how the field smelled wonderful – fresh-mowed, with a hint of the fragrance of carnations, and how amazing it is that the crowd didn't leave as soon as expected, but stayed until the end of the practice.
At the end of the day, they made only five cuts and the rest of the members stayed. This deeply irritated Hiruma, saying: "You're too fucking nice to these brats", to her which she gently antagonized saying: "the rest seemed promising; those guys we cut were just arrogant kids who do not really know football; I think you've got a great team here", which elicited worried smiles from the boys and a grunt from the quarterback.
Going home, Sena came to her with a note, waved goodbye, and then ran away to the waiting arms of – Suzuna? And then they kissed like such grown-ups that Mamori blushed, especially when Suzuna winked at her from behind Sena's arm.
"Let's go. I'm fucking beat", her brand new fiancé said.
He chewed gum as they walked home from the train station, while she read Sena's short letter:
Congratulations! I'm not going to tell you how we did all the preparations. I'm still thinking about telling Monta about your engagement for I'm sure he'll be devastated. We were really upset when we found out you were going out with Unsui-san, especially Suzuna. He's a nice guy and all but as Suzu-chan said: you and Hiruma-senpai are "meant to be". Anyway, I was the one who had the ring engraved. Hiruma-senpai told me that your name should be written first, or else… haha. He didn't say why, but I have a pretty good idea. I think he just wants you to know that even though he acts the way he does, with football being the center of his life, you will always come first, because playing football without you is not as satisfying to him as it should be. I think that's about it.
Mamori looked at the person walking beside her: this rude, almost evil-looking man, and she smiled. She folded the paper in her hands and put it inside her bag. She thought that Sena got it just right. It's so hard to understand this man, but then it isn't. Meanwhile, she just focused on the road, hummed a tune, and felt pretty darn good. At their gate, instead of saying goodnight, Hiruma said: "Oi, fucking manager", softly.
She faced him, "yes, Youichi?" – his ears twitched with this.
He sidled next to her and slowly bowed his head to be able to whisper to her ear…
He kissed her briefly – on the forehead – after this (in which she felt a bit of disappointment) and went away into the night. She was not worried that he's going to walk alone in that ungodly hour. Still, she whispered: "Take care, Youichi".
Lying in her bed that night, she decided to tell her mom about the engagement in the morning. Right now, she thought, I just want to bask in this glorious feeling. Just before closing her eyes, she looked at his picture beside her bed: a picture she took without him knowing, during their last match towards the Christmas Bowl four years ago and mumbled: "Yes, you win Hiruma Youichi, yet again. But guess what?"
"It's a tie."
An excerpt of the song entitled "She's always a woman to me" by Billy Joel was used in this story. And frankly, I'm not sure whether carnations smell good or not.. hehe.
White carnation means "pure love".