The ball traces a parabolic trajectory, burning its path into my vision as if in slow motion.
A world devoid of sound. The surrounding noise doesn’t reach my ears. Unconsciously, tears escape.
In the silence, I lean over the railing and shout at the top of my lungs, regardless of appearances.
The outcome has already been decided. Only pride remains. I give it my all for the final shot.
Sound returns to the world. With a thud, the ball bounces off the backboard, and Toshirou Himura’s shot misses the rim. The timer hits zero, and the buzzer sounds.
Toshirou Himura, crumbling down, is helped up by his fellow third-year teammates.
Shouyoukou High School boys’ basketball team’s summer journey comes to an unexpectedly abrupt end in the fourth round.
What words should I say? What words are the right ones?
Neither the manager, Shiori Kamishiro, nor Suzune Takamiya, who has been supporting us since the first round, can figure it out. “You did well,” “Just getting this far is amazing.” Such words are inadequate, as anyone observing the boys’ basketball team can see. No one seeks consolation. Frustration is evident on their faces. They didn’t want it to end here. They wanted to go further.
It’s an emotion that the boys’ basketball team hadn’t experienced before. Once you catch a glimpse of hope, you can’t help but desire it. You can’t help but believe in the possibilities. So they fought relentlessly, dirtied their feet.
Yet, they couldn’t reach it. They knew that. Other schools are also diligently polishing their skills.
They are different from Toshirou and the others, who recently changed their approach. It’s the result of their desperate efforts since their first year.
Still, they didn’t think the barrier in front of them would be impenetrable. Their fingertips were barely brushing against it. If only they had a little more time, maybe they could have reached it. The regret of the third-year students weighs heavily on the basketball team.
They quietly begin to leave the comprehensive gymnasium, with few words spoken.
In the midst of a heavy, oppressive silence, Suzune Takamiya’s gaze falls upon Yukito Kokonoe, who acts as if nothing has happened, just as always.
Suzune knows the reason behind it. The match results were clearly communicated to him in advance.
“We can’t win this game,” Yukito Kokonoe had told Suzune. It wasn’t an abstract statement; it was based on solid evidence. Yukito had calmly assessed the strengths and weaknesses of both teams and arrived at that conclusion.
Why did Yukito feel the need to tell Suzune this?
Yukito Kokonoe operated with a different purpose and principle than the rest of the boys’ basketball team.
Upon hearing the conversation, Suzune felt a deep sense of embarrassment for her own insecurity. Moreover, she was unsettled by how accurately Yukito had pinpointed her emotions and couldn’t contain her feelings any longer. She wanted someone to listen to her, to know her thoughts, so she poured them out like a release.
Yukito quietly listened to her words by his side.
And he said to Suzune, after losing the game, that there were two choices.
“It’s not over yet! This isn’t the end. We still have the Winter Cup. Suzune, I want you to wait a little longer. I’ll show you how much higher we can reach. We will definitely achieve results next time. So that I can become worthy of you, this time, for sure, I—”
As Yukito had predicted, Toshirou Himura chose to make the decision, and the result was not desirable for Suzune Takamiya.
Yukito had conveyed to Suzune, “If you continue to postpone the confession any further.”
Suzune knows what will happen next. A single scenario has been presented.
A ridiculously absurd farce, and it was even a recycled one. Yet, at that moment, everyone was captivated by such a farce. It seized the hearts of those who were watching, refusing to let go. They were struck by its nobility.
Both Toshirou and Suzune were present in that scene. They could only watch, unable to do anything else.
The sight of Toshirou wanting to stand on the court together, his determination reached the multitude present. Suzune was one of those who shed tears at that resolve.
Toshirou and Suzune were both cowards. Perhaps that’s why Toshirou sought out Yukito Kokonoe.
At the very least, Yukito and those who gathered around him all possess strength.
They do not fear pain or being hurt. They are unafraid to collide with each other, with their emotions laid bare.
One day, Suzune casually asked Shiori Kamishiro about it. Shiori smiled and answered that she, too, was a coward.
She admitted that she was still a coward, scared to death. However, Suzune respected Shiori, who said that she no longer wanted to have regrets. It didn’t matter if she was a junior. She was undeniably stronger than Suzune.
Yukito Kokonoe looked at Suzune Takamiya. He nodded slightly. It seemed that the grand farce was about to begin.
If that’s the case, Suzune will fulfill her role as the chosen prima donna.
He should be free of us both by now.
“Toshirou Himura, I hereby expel you from the basketball team!”
In front of the gathered crowd near the exit of the gymnasium, I made a loud declaration.
The sudden coup caused a stir among the surrounding people. Well, that’s to be expected.
Even she didn’t anticipate something like this. But there’s no helping it.
“Expulsion? What do you mean, Yukito Kokonoe?”
“What’s gotten into you, Yukito?”
“What’s the matter? Are you saying I’m a burden?”
I delivered the statement coldly, causing confusion among the others. The hot-blooded senpai still have room to grow.
The more he trains, the better he will become. But there’s no meaning in that alone.
Whether he accepts the expulsion or not, the passionate senior must make a choice—for his future.
“Wait! It may be true for now. But we still have a few months until the Winter Cup. With that time, we can aim higher. I can’t just end it here. Please, Yukito Kokonoe, give me one more chance…”
“How long will you keep Takamiya-senpai waiting!”
I grabbed the collar of the passionate senior. The sudden outburst caught the attention of students from other schools.
They’ve been starting from the wrong point altogether. It doesn’t matter if his motivations for playing basketball are different.
Even the intensity of his passion varies from person to person. Some play for enjoyment, others play competitively.
If you genuinely want to play, that’s fine. I’ll support you for that.
However, among them, only the hot-blooded senpai was pure. He was more pure than anyone else and devoted himself more earnestly than anyone else, but he kept spinning his wheels, wondering what he was doing to get better and what he needed results for. A divergence between means and ends.
Above all, he is completely oblivious to Takamiya-senpai. Even though she is so deeply saddened…
“I’m sick of it. Personalizing the club for yourself is a nuisance. How long are you going to drag us along? Cut it out already! It’s not all about you!”
“Yuki, please stop! Even the captain thinks the same.”
I’m sorry for Shiori, who tries to stop me in confusion, but I can’t let it end here.
“I’m saying this because you don’t understand. This guy has no interest in Takamiya Senpai. He only thinks about himself. It’s a nuisance if someone like him keeps lingering around.”
I exert force like a vice, pushing it to the limit.
“N-No, that’s not it. I wanted to… have the qualification to stand by Suzune’s side… because I have nothing else.”
“By her side? Don’t be foolish. Takamiya Senpai has long given up on you.”
I turn my gaze towards Takamiya Senpai, barely holding on.
“…I’m sorry, Toshirou. I can’t keep up with you anymore.”
Takamiya Senpai stands beside me. She releases his hand, and the hot blooded senpai falls to the ground with a thud.
“It’s a lie! Why…?”
“Because you don’t understand, that’s why they call you incompetent!”
“It’s Toshirou’s fault! I never wanted this to go on forever!”
“No, it’s not true! Suzune, I truly…”
“That’s enough! I don’t care about you anymore, Toshirou.”
The heated argument between the hot blooded senpai and Takamiya Senpai grows louder. They say even dogs won’t eat a couple’s fight, but it’s actually more concerning if there’s an animal that would. It seems nutritionally poor and harmful to the body.
I apologize for being absorbed in their quarrel, but am I standing out too much?
Among the students from other schools, there are some who are anxiously watching, ready to intervene if things get out of hand. They’re too kind-hearted.
Oh, there’s a refreshing and handsome acquaintance, Daigo-senpai. Ooi, over here! Long time no see!
Nevertheless, it’s unexpected for me to stand out to this extent. What should I do…?
I might seriously end up being disciplined by Sayuri-sensei. It’s also the right season for it, so I should send her a gift.
That’s right, I have something! I take out the Bunnyman mask from my bag. Kapoof!
“Mihou-kun, this is…?”
“I see! This flow, Yukito, could it be—”
The perceptive and refreshing handsome acquaintance and Shiori have noticed. After all, they were involved last time.
Yes, I borrowed and copied the idea from the perceptive and refreshing handsome acquaintance.
However, it’s boring to just borrow and copy. Let’s make it flashy!
“Ussassassa. Suzune will become the wife of this Bunnyman, usa.”
“Wait a minute! Suzune, is it over between us? Is it too late…?”
“Ku… Bunnyman is more wonderful than a loser like Toshirou. He has potential for the future.”
“I’ll take good care of her, usa.”
“Toshirou is such an idiot. It’s my first time being with bunnyman—…”
With a much deeper despair in her expression than when we lost the game, the hot blooded senpai sits down.
It seems like Takamiya Senpai has crushed his last hope.
What do you mean by “for the first time”!? This is going too far! If you break the hot blooded senpai’s spirit, there will be no turning back.
This plan is a two-stage plan, the traditional art of “expulsion” → “awakening,” which has been handed down since ancient times.
I intended to motivate the hot blooded senpai, but my argument is on the verge of falling apart.
If he doesn’t have the will to compete with me from here, it won’t start. He has become a passive senpai, lacking determination.
Realizing that the plan needs adjustment, the perceptive and refreshing handsome acquaintance offers a lifeline.
“If that’s the case, Bunnyman. If I can steal the ball from you, you have to withdraw the exile!”
This guy is a good person! Although he’s strangely overbearing, he’s a good person!
“Don’t be so naive, usa. Do you think you can steal the ball from this Bunnyman?”
“I’ll do it this time. Captain, let’s regain Takamiya Senpai!”
“Are you okay with just being pushed around forever? Do you want to end it without burning out?”
“But Suzune is…”
“He’s such an incredibly uncool and bad guy. Why did I ever like someone like him?”
Takamiya Senpai provokes him. She doesn’t seem to reflect at all on going too far earlier and breaking his spirit.
However, strangely enough, her words reach the hot blooded senpai’s heart.
“Like… I see, you really liked me… And yet, I…!”
The hot blooded senpai hits the asphalt with his fist. In his eyes, the fighting spirit has returned.
“I lacked confidence… I was scared. But that was selfish of me, and it caused you pain. Without realizing it, I stopped seeing what was most important to you… I’m such an idiot.”
“It’s too late now, Toshirou.”
I apologize for interrupting the exciting moment, but may I proceed?
“You, a pathetic loser like you, think you can win Suzune back? Don’t make me laugh, Usa. Then I’ll take on all those people who are watching from a distance. They’re all a bunch of losers, making me yawn.”
I’ve been constantly getting my picture taken and asked for handshakes since earlier. Could it be that what Hyaku-senpai said is true, and I’ve actually become a sensation without me knowing?
The serious atmosphere has disappeared, replaced by a heartwarming one, but I regain my focus. This comedic act is completely inappropriate for the finale of the tournament, but it’s too late to stop now.
“Kouki, you’re doing something interesting.”
“Daigo-senpai? Congratulations on winning the block.”
“It’s a shame we couldn’t face each other in the finals league. Don’t you think so, Gai?”
“Daigo, it’s been a while. And Kouki too. So you’re still playing basketball.”
“Yes, because I found him.”
“Him, huh? He’s infuriating. I didn’t want to see him again. When I saw Bunnyman’s moves in the video, I thought, ‘Could it be?’ It was surprising to find you next to him, and I planned to ask when you met him. But after watching today’s match, I’m convinced. That man, he’s our–“
“What do you say, Kuga-senpai? Shall we seek revenge?”
“I thought it was foolish to challenge the dojo in this current era, but I see, it’s interesting.”
The charming handsome guy was getting excited in his own way.
The hot-blooded senior stood up.
“Let’s do it, Yukito Kokonoe. No, Bunnyman!”
Suddenly, everyone around me was excited. The tension of the moment is terrifying. These people are shamelessly calling me Bunnyman, but I’m sure they’ll regret it later. I was the first of them.
“Shiori, isn’t this gathering too crowded?”
“They brought it upon themselves.”
And so, the epic battle of “Deception Bride Contest: Bunnyman vs. Student Alliance” begins.