“This pressure is too low. I’d better put a little more air in it.”
I tried to dribble, but the ball did not rebound very well. I wonder how good the fresh handsome guy is who got me into this situation with such gusto. However, with a grin, Kouki easily dunked the ball through the markings of the Senpai. A tremendous physical performance. The girls cheered in excitement.
Isn’t it unfair that he’s so handsome? He is taking advantage of this opportunity to gain the favor of the girls.
The offense and defense changed, and the Senpai became the attackers. I soon found out. The Senpai are not that good. There is a big gap in physical growth between first-year and third-year students, but even so, it is hard to say that they are not good opponents. Because of their large size, their movements were clumsy and unpolished. I could tell immediately by their eyes what they were going to do next. If that is the level of the basketball team at this school, it is understandable that they are weak.
Senpai’s center of gravity is off as he tries to shoot by crushing a quick attack. Just by doing that, the ball easily bounces off the ring. Once again, the offense and defense are reversed. This time, he tries to pass the ball to Ito-kun. He missed it and was hurriedly chasing the ball. I thought to myself. This is—–
“Isn’t it better not to do this anymore?”
“‘No, it’s not over”
“If we keep playing like this, we’re going to win. ……”
“What? Yukito, you still don’t know the weight of this place, do you?”
“I do. I mean, Kouki. That move, you have experience huh.”
“You just noticed that now, …… I don’t know how I feel about it at all.”
There was no way I could understand the feelings of a refreshingly handsome guy.
I am proud to say that I am a good student, but one thing I am not good at is answering unreasonable questions in Japanese, such as “How does the author feel?” I wrote, “Wasn’t he irritated because he had to go to the bathroom?” I was once told not to joke around when I wrote that. I don’t understand ……. I am not a psychologist. How could I possibly know how the author felt!
You don’t have to digest two periods. This is an easy match. They lack practice, skill, and everything else. Just because you’re big doesn’t mean they can’t be beaten. Haa………. Sighs spill out. I had no intention of doing it from the beginning, but it became more of a negative.
I shot the ball in a throwaway. The ball goes through the ring as if sucked in. The crowd was no longer cheering in excitement. The atmosphere that was so lively just a few minutes ago has now faded away.
Silence reigned in the gym after school. It was one-sided. Not even a story.
“Really boring. ……”
I didn’t notice that everyone in the room had a twitchy look on their faces.
“If that’s the case, the next round. Play against me, Yukito.”
The sharp gaze of the fresh handsome guy was shooting through me.
[Kouki Mihou PoV]
A chilly sensation that makes my skin tingle. It is a pleasant feeling of tension that I have not felt for a long time.
I can’t pass up this chance that has unexpectedly come my way. Even I think it’s ridiculous. It’s no use being obsessed with it forever.
But I was still waiting for this moment.
I, Kouki, have a special place in my heart for the man in front of me. It may be like a lover, so to speak, like this.
I was invited by many sports clubs. I like sports. I chose basketball in junior high school simply because I did not want to practice outside on a hot summer day, but I was selected as a regular member of the basketball team from the first grade and played an active role in the games.
The basketball team was said to be a strong one. A powerhouse, a top-ranked school in the prefectural tournament.
I wasn’t being conceited by any means. It was a strictly obvious fact that I was athletically superior. That’s probably why. The encounter with the man was a shock to me.
It came suddenly. It was a district tournament. The opponent was a weak school that I didn’t know very well. There was no need to take data. Our goal was the national tournament, and the regional tournament was just a stepping stone. It was an opponent we didn’t even need to worry about. No one doubted that we would win by a large margin. It was supposed to be that way. But a few minutes after the start of the tournament, we were down on the court as if we were looking at a ghost.
The man was glaring at the court with his deep, stagnant eyes, as if unable to see any emotion in him. He was the point guard, but he controlled everything. Nothing was getting through. Passes were cut off, and no feints were ever caught. I should have been watching the ball, but the next thing I knew, the ball was out of the man’s hands and a pass was being made. There is no preliminary movement, no intention to pass, no sense of anything. The physical strength of the man was like a monster.
He crushed our shots without breaking a sweat, and showed not a shred of joy no matter how many goals he scored. Like an emotionless machine, the man was scoring goals without a care in the world. It was clearly abnormal.
But that was not the only thing that was strange. Only the man stood out from the rest of the team. The rest of the team was not so different. There was a chance to win, but our hearts were already broken. The team composition was too distorted. And yet, we were no match for our opponents. We experienced for the first time overwhelming defeat and humiliation.
What a powerhouse. What is the national championship? I felt ashamed. Unless we beat this man, we would never make it to the nationals. The disappointment of the Senpai who had ended without a fight. My clenched fists trembled and tears welled up in my eyes. I was so frustrated. I had never felt so strongly that I did not want to lose to anyone.
For the first time, I was seriously involved in sports. By that time, I had become captain. To beat him, that became my goal, and not just mine, but our goal as a basketball team.
However, he didn’t show up for the final tournament of my junior year, which I went to with a lot of enthusiasm. We were selected to participate in the national tournament, and we made it to the third round before losing. It was a great leap forward, a great advance, a great accomplishment, and the school and the people around us were happy about it.
However, there was something smoldering in our basketball team that we couldn’t explain. We had not beaten that man. Even if we made it to the national tournament, what did it matter? We were still losing, and we had lost our chance to beat him again.
And then I met him. It was a strange coincidence. It was enough to make me want to believe in fate. By chance, I ended up in the same class as him in high school. He is a funny and interesting guy beyond my imagination.
I guess you could call him a maverick, but somehow I couldn’t leave him alone. There were times when I wondered if this was that Yukito Kokonoe.
The feeling in my hand. The pass I just made. There was no doubt. It was this man who crushed me that time!
Goosebumps rise. My whole body is filled with joy. I wanted to play against him again. I wanted to play together as friends. With this guy, with Yukito Kokonoe. This atmosphere is the same as that time. This man’s play erases everything. The rivalry of the opponent, the cheers, the cheering. At some point, only silence will dominate the place.
I never take my eyes off the ball. And yet, it was as if the ball suddenly appeared in front of me. I panicked. Ito had missed it, but there was nothing he could do. Just like that time, I couldn’t read any emotions or thoughts. It was impossible. The Senpai’s ability will never be able to stop them. Then Yukito mumbled.
“Really boring. ……”
Yeah, that’s right. It’s boring for you. I didn’t want to lose this opportunity. I wanted to play with this guy for as long as I could. That’s why I—-
“Then, next round. Play against me, Yukito.”
Mihou-kun had declared war on Yuki. How did this happen? Wasn’t Mihou on Yuki’s side? Questions that came and went. But more than that, I was filled with joy to see Yuki standing on the court.
He enjoyed street basketball, but I still felt he belonged here.
I regret all the things I’ve done. I was the one who ruined Yuki’s future.
I thought Yuki would play basketball when he entered high school. But he chose home coming club.
“Hey. How can you work so hard?”
That question I had asked only once in the past. Yuki’s answer was surprising. Despite the fact that it seemed like a difficult topic to talk about, Yuki didn’t seem bothered by the question.
It was because he had been rejected by his childhood crush. To shake off those feelings. He told me that was why he was devoting himself to it.
When I confessed my feelings to him, he asked me to wait until the last competition. That must have been the goal Yuki had set for himself. I was sure that after that tournament, Yuki was going to sort out his feelings.
I ruined that opportunity. Because of me, because of my stupidity.
Then, where did the feelings that were inside Yuki, the feelings that he had devoted himself to basketball so much, go?
I took away the opportunity for him to move on. Maybe there are still some unorganized feelings left in him. They have remained frozen since that moment.
“Ha? Are you lost in your mind, Kouki? Don’t think you can get away with anything because you’re good-looking.”
“It’s boring if we keep playing like this.”
“What’s wrong with that? I have plans to go home and hang out with my friends.”
“No, you don’t have any friends!”
“Oi, oi stop joking around, pl*yboy. I have a beautiful witch named Himiyama”
“Is that a …… friend of yours?”
“Well, I don’t plan on going there because it’s a danger zone for me.”
“Then you don’t have any plans! Don’t get into the M*LF hobby at that age……”
“I’m not popular. Well, I can’t help it if that’s what happens.”
” Hmm, I’d like to go around denying it. Well, that’s okay. Anyway, senpai, I’m going to join you from now on. Please, someone take my place. You can’t win if you keep going like this.”
“O-oi, don’t just go ahead with your own story. That’s not the way it works!”
“It’s impossible for senpai to win if you keep going like this. Please!”
“I didn’t expect to be beaten to a pulp by a freshman. I understand. Come on, I’ll take your place.”
“Thank you very much.”
“Then I’ll go in this side.”
“Why does everyone always ignore me?”
“They have noticed you, but they don’t know I exist?”
“You are ……? Yeah, inappropriate.”
Ito-kun was a rather interesting guy. Kouki looked back at me as if the discussion was over. It was not his usual fresh and handsome smile. It was a ferocious smile. It was filled with a kind of fighting spirit. I was so surprised. Why does this guy go home from school when he has a personality like this?
“I’m going to beat you this time, Yukito!”
“Were you really that hot-blooded?”
“I want to play basketball with you.”
“I don’t want to.”
“But you can—–“
“I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can live up to your expectations.”
Kouki face clouded with sadness and he let out a breath.
“If that’s the case, then Yukito Kokonoe. If I win this match, I’ll get Shiori Kamishiro!”
There was a moment of silence. But the next moment, it was filled with a shout. The person in question, Kamishiro, was the most perplexed of all.
“Wa-wa-wa-wa-what do you mean Mihou?!”
“Heeh. So Kouki likes Kamishiro. They might be a good match for each other as they are both athletic, beautiful people. At least it’s a lot healthier than hanging around me. No one would complain about this fresh and handsome guy.
For that matter, I’m sure even Kamishiro’s best friend, Ren Hasumura-san, would feel at ease.
“I’m happy for you, Kamishiro. Kouki is a good guy.”
“O-oi Yukito! Are you really okay with that?!”
“By all means.”
For some reason, the refreshingly good-looking guy who had started it all by himself was the most agitated. In this case, I don’t have anything to do with it anymore, do I? Why am I doing this? The rest is up to the two young people.
“What’s the point of this game?”
“Why, Yukito, why don’t you see it! You really don’t feel anything, do you? Don’t you really feel anything for Kamishiro, or for Suzurikawa, or for the way they’re behaving?”
“I don’t know, but you and Kamishiro should get along.”
“Yukito, why are you so determined to reject them?”
Rejection? Reject what? Reject who? I still don’t understand what the fresh and handsome guy is saying.
Thinking back, both Suzurikawa and Kamishiro had been lying about everything. There was no way I could understand their true intentions. And moreover, it is impossible for me to understand them now.
Who am I rejecting? Rather, it’s the opposite. I have always been rejected. My mother, my sister, my childhood friends, my classmates, my senpai. Everyone has rejected me. No one wanted me. There was no place for me anywhere. All they wanted was for me to disappear.
What was directed at me was always “rejection,” never ” affection”. It wasn’t me who was rejecting them. It should not have been me. I was the one being rejected.
–Is that really true? Something whispered in my heart.
It wasn’t pity. It is not sympathy, but a confession of love—-.
A dull ache attacked me as a headache. It is a familiar feeling, as if something important has been lost, as if a void has opened up a little.
Crack, there was another sound as if something had been broken.
I gave up everything. I didn’t know anything anyway. It was useless to even think about it.
Now that I have lost faith in the World Health Organization, I am the man who does not believe in international organizations. In a world where even the United Nations cannot be trusted, what is there to trust in an individual? A world where you can’t even say what you want to say is nothing but poison. What is the point of lying to me? What is the purpose of the lie? There is no answer to that question. I can’t think of a reason. It is foolish to think about whether it is true or false.
However, it would be the right thing to do to support a classmate’s love life. There is no doubt that Kouki is a good guy. Then, I have only one thing to do.
” All right, then, if I win this match, both of you stay out of my life.”
“Yuki, …… what…….”
“It’s up to both of you from there on out, but that’s not my problem. Besides, if you don’t get involved with me, you won’t get into all this trouble. Furthermore, I won’t even join the basketball team. All settled now!”
“Wait, why are you so–“
“Let’s get on with it.”
Now both Kamishiro and the fresh handsome guy will be able to deepen their relationship without worrying about me.
“Kokonoe, I’m not going to get involved in that kind of competition.”
“I don’t know what’s going on, but if it’s going to be like that, we can’t help you, you know?”
The eyes of the alienated look. Yes, these eyes. These are the eyes that should be directed at me. I feel at home when I look into those eyes. I feel at ease. It is as if my existence is being affirmed, or rather, denied. And I don’t want to get involved anymore. It’s the right thing to do for me, a loner in the shadows.
“Okay then. I’ll do it alone.”
“Oi, Kokonoe. Just because you can play doesn’t—-“
“Just rest here.”
I start dribbling slowly. The crowd was all puzzled. For me, it was business as usual. For some reason, when I was playing a basketball game, the venue often became quiet before I knew it. I was getting stares from people as if they were looking at something strange, but I didn’t have to worry about it because it was just the same as usual.
“Please wait! I’ll join Yuki’s team!”
An interesting and powerful voice of Kamishiro echoed on the court.