Encounters with the Devil
Summary: Ryota Miyagi's relationship with American Football at various points in his athletic career.
Miyagi leaned uncomfortably against a yellow pole. He'd move but he knows there's no point; it didn't matter whether he was sitting, standing, or even laying down on this oh-so-fake grass-artificial turf, he believed it was called- he was going to feel awkward. And who wouldn't? He was loitering around a school he'd never been to, in a prefecture that he rarely ever even visited, waiting around on a football field for the one person that incited both intense fear (not that he'd ever admit it) and anger from him. And why he was suddenly called out to come to some 3rd rate high school in the middle of Tokyo was anyone's guess. But before his idle imagination could conjure up any ideas, the very person he'd been waiting for let his presence be known. And in usual fashion he did this in the crudest way possible.
"Run from where the fatass is to over there, Fucking Guido," the blond flatly ordered, pointing to where his chubby companion stood and then to the white line labeled 50. The "fucking guido" could only scrunch his nose in distaste. Everything about Yoichi Hiruma pissed him off; from his gaudy hair all the way down to his all-black attire, Hiruma Yoichi's mere presence irritated him to no end. And while he wasn't entirely sure what a guido was, the nickname annoyed him as well.
In fact, if it weren't for the whole reputation-shattering-blackmail situation, Ryota Miyagi boy would've knocked every stupidly sharp tooth off the demon captain's manic face. But instead, he simply did as he was told.
"Have you ever done a 40-yard dash, Miyagi-san?" asked the "fatass", otherwise known as Kurita, as the other boy approached. Ryota only shook his head as he looked up at the massive boy in bewilderment. Even by basketball standards the 1st year lineman was quite tall, standing at a hulking 192 cm. Even the infamous Jun Uozumi, tallest high school center in Kanagawa, was only 193 his freshman year. Indeed if not for having even more fat then height, Ryota hypothesized that Kurita could've made a decent center in basketball as well as football.
"Well the average high school student does it in about 5.5 seconds," Kurita explained, "And the typical high school athlete does it around 5 seconds. Anything below 5 seconds is considered fast and they say you can get into any high school team with a 4.8 dash." Nodding in response, the point guard noted the enthusiasm in Kurita's voice as he recited stats he probably knew by heart. The passion the larger boy exuded reminded Ryota of his own excitement when he first started playing basketball. Before he could make any further comparisons between Kurita and himself, however, his train of thought was quickly interrupted by a certain obnoxious football player commanding him to (quote) "Get your ass ready!"
"Ready, set…" Screeched the blond boy as he pointed his very real pistol to the sky (Ryota tried not to think about what Hiruma used it for), "START!" Before Hiruma could even finish his trademark "Ya-Ha!" catchphrase, the short brunet sped from the 10 yard line (where Kurita stood) to across the 50 yard line (where Hiruma stood). Kurita could only gape in amazement while Hiruma stared at his stopwatch, being unusually impressed by the numbers on it.
"4.67 seconds," Hiruma cackled, a maniacal grin spreading across his face, "Seems the Fucking Guido's has no problem destroying the five second wall." Ryota could practically see the sparkling in Kurita's eyes as he heard this.
"M-Miyagi-san that was amazing, you should play football with us! You could be our ace runningback!" Kurita exclaimed excitedly.
Ryota only gave the two a dumbfounded before devolving into disinterest, "That's why you called me out here? To try and recruit me for your American Football team? Sorry, but I only play basketball."
While Kurita almost literally deflated with disappointment, Hiruma simply sneered and whipped out his oh-so-handy threat book, causing the Miyagi to unconciously shudder.
"January 3rd of this year: 'I like basketball but it gets annoying being looked down on by all these giants all the time,'" Hiruma quoted in a mocking imitation of Ryota's once pre-pubescent voice. The point guard only stared back confused; he had been fully expecting the devil quarterback to whip out that embarrassing picture of him-
Cutting off the shorter boy's train of thought, Hiruma explained, "Kekeke, you know the average American Football player is a lot shorter then the typical basketball player, right, Fucking Guido? The average height of a starting Japanese high school basketball player is 185 cm. The average height for a Japanese high school Football player is 175 cm…The fucking fatass is an exception." Hiruma also added when he noticed Ryota glance to Kurita.
"And one of the best linemen in the high school league right now is your height, Miyagi-san!" Kurita added. Ryota's disinterest, however, did not falter.
"Yeah and I'm sure he weighs like 15 kilos more then I do. Do I look like I'm built for football?" Ryota questioned as he gestured towards his toned, but slim physique, "Besides that, do you realize how long it took me just to get here? An hour and a half. I can't exactly commute here." 'I don't know why I even bother arguing with him; he's probably just going to resort to blackmailing me, anyways…' The basketball player thought exasperatedly.
Hiruma, however, cackled as dementedly as always, "It doesn't matter what your build is if they can't catch you. And if housing's the problem I'll just get you a place near the school." Had it been anyone else making this offer, Ryota would've sneered in their face (A moderately-priced, decent apartment IN TOKYO?), but with Hiruma he wouldn't be surprised. The shorter boy also realized that the demon captain had been holding what looked like transfer applications the entire time. 'He's been planning to transfer me from Shohoku to Deimon from the very beginning, hasn't he?'
"And you seriously think my parents are going to go for this? Their only son moving an entire prefecture away and living by himself? Or are you going to blackmail them to?" Ryota argued, his voice becoming increasingly more irritable.
"We won't force you to join if you don't want to," Kurita cut in, eyes sparkling, "I want teammates who play because they want to, not because they've been blackmailed into it. But…I'd be really happy if you decided to join." Laughing awkwardly, the larger boy gave his potential teammate a welcoming smile.
Ryota, however, could only cringe in response. It was one thing to reject the evil blonde quarterback, but turning down a gentle giant like Kurita was like kicking a puppy. A really fat puppy.
Sighing in defeat, Miyagi gave a non-committal, "I'll think about it," and grabbed the application forms from Hiruma.
Miyagi Ryota stared contemplatively at the thick stack of papers in his hand before placing them securely in his backpack and leaving for the gym. To his teachers' and classmates, it had looked like he was diligently taking notes throughout all his classes. The reality, of course, was that he had been sluggishly filling out paperwork the entire time. After all, transferring not only schools, but an entire district and prefecture was no easy matter, and Ryota certainly wasn't enthused about the process. Hell, he wasn't even entirely sure if he wanted to switch from basketball to football.
Admittedly though, he did see some of the benefits of joining Deimon and their appropriately-named football team, The Devilbats. For one, as Hiruma mentioned, there was the obvious height factor. While there was certainly a satisfaction in defeating giants, having to constantly look up in defiance and prove his worth wasn't necessarily something he enjoyed. Sure there are still plenty of guys in American Football who are taller then him, but a 7 cm difference isn't nearly as bad as a 14 cm one, and height certainly wasn't as crucial as it was in basketball. More important, he assumed, was probably mass. And at least he could do something about his lack of mass; even if he wasn't entirely sure he wanted to become some brawny meathead. If nothing else, American Football was a fresh start.
But in the end, however, his biggest reason was probably just plain old vanity. He liked the sound of being the Ace Runningback of Deimon High School. Sure he was a good point guard, a great one even, but he just didn't stand out. He was everything expected of his position, a skillful ball handler with impressive speed and great passes, but he wasn't anything flashy. He didn't have the build to play like a forward as Maki sometimes did and he certainly didn't posses Fujima's talent for long-range shots. He was simply a point guard, nothing more, nothing less. Never the star of the team, never the center of attention. Maybe in American Football things would be different. Maybe he could be the one to score, the one that everyone relied on, the one everyone noticed. Yes it was selfish, but maybe attention was all he ever really wanted.
And yet… here he was, standing in front of the basketball gym, a club application form folded up in his pocket. If there was one thing he didn't really have to consider when choosing between the two sports, it was the quality of the teams he would be joining. To be frank, they both sucked eggs. Oh sure, Shohoku had that gorilla of a center, Akagi, and a famous, former college coach (the reason he had even chose the school), but Deimon's center, Kurita, was practically a bear himself (well, more like a teddy bear…) and their quarterback is apparently Satan (the reason he was even considering transferring). And really, other then that, both teams were equally as obscure and low-level. They even had the same color schemes.
'Lose-lose situation I suppose,' thought the first-year student, 'Well, I might as well check it out, at least to meet the famous Coach Anzai.' So after taking a rather deep breath, Ryota opens the door of the Shohoku gym and steps inside, feeling a twist of anxiety in his gut. He promptly scans the vast room searching for a rotund man with white hair and old man glasses who vaguely resembles the KFC mascot and to his disappointment sees nothing of the sort. However, what he does quickly find is an excessively tall 2nd year who does look very much like a gorilla.
'I wonder whose taller, him or Kurita?' Thought Ryota as he found himself drawing closer to the gigantic teen, curious to get a better look. As he quietly observes his upperclassman, he overhears the gorilla's companion-Kogure or something- express worry over the current batch of freshmen.
Figuring a little reassurance wouldn't hurt; Ryota decided to speak up, "In the end, all we really need is five people, right?" The two upperclassmen only stare at him blankly.
"And who are you?" Asked Akagi.
Ryota paused at this, 'I probably shouldn't be getting too familiar with them if I don't plan on joining the team.'
"At the moment I'm just a nobody," Miyagi finally responds in a non-committal tone. This elicits even more confused looks from the two upperclassmen, but Ryota's attention has already wandered elsewhere. After eying the exceptionally pretty team manager for about a minute, the speedy first year decides to make a move.
"Hi, I'm Miyagi Ryota," he greets an unintentionally goofy grin plastered on his blushing face, "Have we met before?" As cliché as the line was, Ryota was positive she looked familiar.
Just as it appeared the manager was going to tell him off for being so unoriginal, she also paused a moment to give the boy a closer look-particularly at the stud in his left ear, "…R-ryo-chan?"
After an intense analysis of the girl's face, "Ryo-chan" responded with an equally surprised, "A-Ayako?"
Ayako's shock soon melted away to reveal pure amazement, "I can't believe we ended up going to the same high school! I never thought I'd see you again!"
Ryota smiled back with equal enthusiasm, "Seriously! How old were we that summer? Eleven? I can't believe it's been four years, you look so different with permed hair." 'And a lot prettier too…' He mentally added.
Ayako only laughed in return, "Right back at you, you look a lot older with your hair slicked back." Taking another glance at Ryota's left ear, Ayako's face softened, becoming much gentler and more nostalgic, "So your mom let you keep the piercing, huh?"
Ryota smirked, "She wouldn't shut up about it at first but she got used to it eventually." Despite trying his hardest to appear cool, the short boy was positive his face was bright red, if the sudden increase in his heartbeat was anything to go by.
"Glad to see you're still playing basketball," complimented Ayako, noting how effortlessly Ryota dribbled the ball, "You seemed really passionate about it when I first met you. Shohoku could use a player like that, it seems like the only people on the team who are serious about winning are Akagi-sempai and Kogure-sempai." As she uttered the last sentence, Ryota couldn't help but notice the flash of disappointment in his childhood friend's eyes.
Guilt swelling in the pit of his stomach, Ryota's incentive strengthened, "Yeah, I promise I'll make the basketball team strong." As he watched Ayako's melancholy brighten into joy, the point guard's resolve solidified. He knew where he had to be.
Suddenly American Football is a far, far away place.
"So you're really going to stick with basketball…" Kurita sighed disappointedly over the phone.
"Yeah, I promised the team I'd help them conquer the nation," Ryota explained awkwardly, he didn't have the heart to tell the linemen that what really broke the deal with Deimon was essentially a lack of cute female manager. 'Though to be fair, Ayako isn't just any girl…' Ryota mentally insisted.
Wanting to avoid an awkward silence, Miyagi also off-handedly added, "I'm surprised Hiruma hasn't tried to blackmail me into leaving basketball or something…"
Kurita responded with an almost fond smile, "Although he can be pretty scary sometimes, Hiruma-kun really respects ambition, even if he doesn't say it out loud. He's not the type to look down on other people's goals." Ryota simply nodded out of respect, he was rather skeptical to the idea that evil incarnate was capable of empathy. Nonetheless, he supposed that was one way to interpret Hiruma apathy towards Miyagi Ryota's refusal, even if it was a bit too generous. 'He probably just figured I wasn't worth the effort,' concluded the more cynical athlete.
"Miyagi-san," chimed the large once more.
"Even though we're not gonna be on the same team, we're still friends right?" Kurita's voice sounded so intensely fretful that Ryota almost laughed, 'Of all the things to worry about.'
Ryota smiled, "Yeah, sure." 'That blonde freak of a quarterback on the other hand…'
"Good!" Exclaimed Kurita, now suddenly pumped, "We can motivate each other to aim for the championship."
Ryota grinned at Kurita's optimism, "Yeah, let's do that. We can celebrate together omce we conquer the nation." Kurita enthusiastically agreed.
Although he only said it to humor the gentle giant, somewhere deep in the back of his mind…Miyagi Ryota also hoped that day would one day come.
Author's Note: Finally the E21/SD crossover I've been wanting to write for months now. Actually it shows, as different parts of this chapter were written at different times (aka whenever inspiration struck and I wasn't feeling lazy) and sort of pasted together. So sorry if the tenses are all messed up and the narrative style is inconsistent and constantly switching from dialogue-heavy to introspective to just flat out rambling purple prose. Nonethless, as I love both sports series dearly, I will try to continue this fic. At the moment I'm planning around five chapters, maybe more or maybe less.
I think comparing to the various teams and having all the characters bounce off each other will be so much fun to write. Both series have such goofy, crazy-macho characters that I can just imagine all the manly bonding... particularly amoung the delinquent characters.
Notes About This Particular Chapter:
* The "famous lineman" that Kurita mentions, whose around Miyagi's (168 cm) height, is Onihei (167 cm). Fun Fact: Onihei (73kg/158lb) is 13 kilos/28.5 pounds heavier then Miyagi (59kg/130lb), the dudes of E21 are really beefy! (According to BMI, Onihei is slightly overweight, but that's not factoring in that it's all muscle.)
* For those thinking I arbitrarily made Ryota and Ayako childhood friends, think again! Google "Piercing by Takehiko Inoue", it was a one-shot published in Shonen Jump back in 1998, and basically provides us with some back story about SD's closest-to-canon couple and how they got their piercings. Seeing Ryota and Ayako being all petty and difficult with each other is just about the cutest thing ever...