(Title – ゼロに戻る – Zero ni Modoru – Back to Zero)
Ki-kun was accepted into the basketball team. I knew that he would be able to make it. He was obviously born for this. Since he was busy practicing, I have been alone most of the time every after class.
It’s not that I’m not used to being alone, it’s just that I’m used to talking with him every now and then. He would always accompany me in the library to study. If we had some spare time, we would go out and eat in at the fast-food chain.
I miss him but I don’t want to be greedy. I want him to do stuff he enjoys the most. Being his sworn brother is enough for me.
Lately, I have been seeing Ken-senpai tail Ki-kun. They are like the opposite poles of a magnet that would always stick together. Ki-kun appeared to be irritated and Ken-senpai looked like he was enjoying bugging my best friend. I wanted to ask him to stop bothering my friend but I don’t have the guts to do so. He is my senpai, after all, and I don’t want him to think that I am disrespectful.
Since I have nothing else to do after going to the library, it became my habit to go to the gym and watch them practice basketball. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone; I was able to support my friend, Ki-kun, and I was able to pester Ryū-senpai to cook for me after practice.
I sat on the front bleachers to get the best view, this time around. I forgot that this spot was usually taken by Ryū-senpai’s die-hard fans.
“Hey kid, that’s our spot,” a fat girl said.
“There’s a lot of space. It’s not like I’m occupying the entire front bleachers,” I reasoned. I was shaking because I was afraid of them.
You just don’t get it do you? This spot is reserved for Ryū-sama’s fan club. Why are you seated there? You don’t look like someone who enjoys this kind of sport. Wait… Are you a sissy? Do you like one of them?” a tall girl with curly, shoulder-length hair started to question me while pointing her index finger toward the direction of the jocks. She had her arms crossed afterwards and her brows knitted while frowning at me.
I was taken aback by what she said. It’s like a sharp arrow crossed right through my heart. I remained silent and still after hearing that.
“Why so silent? I was right, ain’t I?” she sarcastically remarked.
“I asked him to sit there. Do you have any problems with that?” a cold and deep voice resonated within the gym.
Everyone was shocked from what we heard. We all looked at one direction and we saw that it was Ryū-senpai who spoke. He walked toward our direction. I could tell from the look on his face that he was not happy. My heart, somehow, fluttered.
“Ryū-sama~~~? Are you close with this sissy?” the fat girl acted cute and asked Ryū-senpai.
“It’s none of your business. Stay away from him!” he roared.
Without making any second thoughts, they all obediently listened to his command. I was elated because he fought for me, but then this temporary happiness went down the drain. I thought he would approach me but he just walked away, as if nothing happened. Is he mad at me? What did I do?
After that, I saw Ki-kun walk toward my direction. He was being followed by his shadow (Ken-senpai).
“Are you okay, Kichirō-san?” he worriedly asked.
“I’m fine, Ki-kun. I’m thankful that Ryū-senpai came to the rescue,” I said and flashed a smile at him. I was still shaky but I felt much better.
“Hey, Ishikawa. Just stay close to us so that you won’t be bullied again. We are always here to help you out. You can sit on my lap if you like, he he,” Ken-senpai said while grinning.
I started to feel happy for what he said but the last statement made me frown. I even felt awkward hearing that. I just forced a smile at him.
“Senpai?!? Stop it. You’re not helping with your lame jokes!” Ki-kun exclaimed.
“Hey, I’m sorry buddy. It’s just a habit, heh,” he said while raising his hands up high to show that he surrendered.
I chuckled from the sight of these two guys; one looked like a nagging wife while the other was like an obedient husband.
“See? Even your friend finds my joke funny,” Ken-senpai said while looking at Ki-kun. With his eyes squinted, he smiled and acted cute in front of my best friend.
Ki-kun just ignored him and started to talk to me again. “Aniki, we’re almost done with our practice. Can you still wait for me? I will treat you later,” he smiled after offering to go out later.
“Hey, no fair. What about me? Aren’t you going to invite me as well?” Ken-senpai was sulking with his puppy eyes on him.
“Senpai, I’m sorry but I wanted to discuss something with Kichirō-san. Maybe some other time?” he reasoned.
“Fine with me. So it’s a date then,” Ken-senpai implied. He smiled at the two of us, winked at Ki-kun, and then dashed off. He was obviously avoiding my friend’s response. He is so funny, ha ha.
“Ugh!” Ki-kun growled. He was grinding his teeth with his brows knitted.
This is my first time to seeing him get agitated. He would always be reserved and calm about things. It looked like it’s only Ken-senpai who could trigger this side of Ki-kun. I chuckled again while thinking about that.
“I’m sorry about that. So, can you still wait for me?” he grabbed onto my sleeves as if begging.
When I was about to respond, someone butted into our conversation: “No he can’t. We have plans.” It was none other than Ryū-senpai again.
“I don’t recall arranging any meetings with you today,” I shyly said while looking down to the ground. I can’t seem to look him in the eyes.
“Stupid. You always bother me after every practice,” he harshly said. “Everyone, let’s wrap up for today. I will go ahead,” he announced to the team.
After he made that announcement, he stood beside me and pulled my right hand. Everything happened so fast that I unconsciously followed him as he walked away with our hands together.
“Kichirō-san, let’s see each other tomorrow then. Good night!” Ki-kun shouted.
We were around ten meters away from each other. I waved my hand to say goodbye and shouted “Good night too!”
Ryū-senpai widened his steps to the point that I was like running since my legs were short as compared with his long legs. I felt his hand tighten. I did not bother to complain because I can see that he was frowning. This person really has some serious mood swings.
Hand in hand, we walked toward the locker room. I thought he was going to take a shower first before we leave but he did not. He opened his locker, wiped himself with a towel, and then changed his clothes in front of me. He appeared to be in a hurry.
“Uhm… Senpai, I’ll wait for you outside,” I said. I don’t want to see him change his clothes. I feel awkward.
“Stay here,” he demanded.
“Oh-okay,” I stuttered and remained seated.
“Moving forward, just stay beside me. Tomorrow, we will have lunch together,” he said with a calm tone.
“What about Ki-kun?” I asked.
“Forget about him! He’s got that idiot Ken following him around,” he growled.
“I can’t seem to understand why you are acting this way. We’re not a couple for you to order me around to do something. You’re being unreasonable, Senpai!” I cried.
I was about to walk out when he said, “Date me.”
I was petrified.