Whispers sounded throughout the hallway, as the Seigaku, Rikkaidai, and Hyotei teams wondered among themselves why they’d been summoned here. Clearly, something was amiss because the medals ceremony for Nationals had been mysteriously pushed back two hours, and they’d all been called to the ethics-committee office.
Finally, the door opened and Ryuzaki, looking very stern, ushered them all inside.
“What’s going on?” Atobe demanded of Sakaki once he saw that all the teams’ coaches had been assembled.
“Coach?” Tezuka asked, looking somewhat concerned.
Oji sat at the center of the table for the ethics committee, and for once he wasn’t smiling. “We have obtained evidence,” he said very gravely, “that one of your teams has violated tournament rules.”
Gasps and denials came from the three teams in question.
“Wait, how can you not know which team?” Oishi asked.
“The evidence,” Oji explained, “was obtained from locker room C. Only Seigaku, Rikkaidai, and Hyotei had access to that locker room.”
“Ha!” Momoshiro accused, pointing in Rikkaidai’s direction. “I knew Sanada wasn’t normal! Rikkaidai’s on steroids!”
Sanada scowled at him. “I am perfectly normal,” he insisted, despite the fact that it was a blatant lie, “and I’ve never taken steroids in my life.” That part, at least, was the truth frighteningly enough.
“No,” Oji hastened to assure them, “it wasn’t steroids that we found.”
Everyone’s attention returned to him.
“It was these.” Oji pulled out a plastic baggie that was clearly acting as an evidence bag.
Everyone gasped at the bottle of pills that was inside.
“What are they?” Kikumaru squinted at the bag.
“Th-They’re…” Sanada stammered, cheeks red.
“I don’t recognize the name of the drug,” Yagyu frowned.
“If it’s just something over-the-counter, who cares?” Mukahi complained.
“They are,” Oji said deliberately, “Midol.”
Wide eyes faced him all around.
“One of your teams has broken the rules,” Oji explained. “One of you has snuck a girl into a boys-only tournament and will be disqualified.”
And that was when chaos broke out.
“This is absolutely ridiculous,” Atobe insisted. “I know security on the locker rooms was tight, but you know how fangirls are. One of them probably snuck in when the security guards weren’t looking.”
“We’ve reviewed the security tapes,” Oji insisted. “No one but the registered players and coaches entered or left that locker room for the entire duration of the tournament.”
“Are we sure it was a player?” Oishi said earnestly. “One of the coaches is a woman. That’s not against the rules.” He looked apologetically at Ryuzaki.
“They’re not mine,” she glared at him.
“Ah, ah, sorry!” Oishi blushed. “I just wanted to suggest a possible alternative.”
“What does it even matter if someone snuck a girl in?” Kirihara complained. “Whoever it was would just be handicapping themselves, since boys are better at tennis, anyway.”
“What?” Ryuzaki snarled at him, eyes flashing.
Kirihara let out a horrified little squeak.
“It matters,” Yukimura said slowly, like he’d given the matter a lot of thought, “because, depending on which team gets disqualified, the medals could change completely…”
A moment of silence followed, and then…
“Seigaku should be disqualified, and Rikkaidai given the gold,” Yukimura proclaimed proudly, pointing out the cheater in their midst. “The girl is clearly…”
“This is absurd,” Fuji insisted ten minutes later after his teammates had (very nervously) pulled him, still snarling and hissing, off Yukimura. “I’m clearly a boy.”
“Uh…” His entire team deliberately didn’t look at him.
“You’ve all seen me in the showers,” Fuji huffed.
“Actually,” Inui corrected him, “for data-gathering purposes, I have attempted to witness you in the showers a total of 147 times over the last three years. I have yet to succeed even once.”
Kikumaru was forced to nod nervously in agreement. Fuji had always been secretive about, well, everything. He was one of Fuji’s closest friends, but he couldn’t think of a time he’d seen Fuji shower, either.
“Fuji…” Tezuka said nervously, eyes wide behind his glasses.
“I am not a girl!” Fuji stamped his foot. He wasn’t smiling at all for once, and his eyes were wide open.
“You know,” Mukahi began. “I’ve always wondered about that. He is a bit…pretty, isn’t he?”
Akutagawa was wide-awake at this turn of events. “Does this mean that some day I really could marry him?” he asked hopefully.
All of Hyotei gave him very disturbed looks.
“Taka, tell them,” Fuji demanded, turning to Kawamura for support.
Kawamura just blushed. “I…uh…that is…”
“Your own teammates’ testimony clearly doesn’t count,” Yukimura insisted stubbornly, accepting Sanada’s steadying hand on his arm as he got up from Fuji’s attack. “They all lied to get you into Nationals in the first place.”
Fuji scowled at him. “Come to think of it, you’ve got a very soft voice, don’t you?” he countered. “Maybe you’re the girl, and you just accused me to cover for yourself.”
Yukimura gasped in outrage.
“Enough of this,” Ryuzaki stepped in. “As Seigaku’s coach, I’ll verify that Fuji is actually male. And Rikkaidai’s coach, I’m sure, can…” Ryuzaki frowned. “Huh, where is Rikkaidai’s coach?”
“Come to think of it,” Oshitari pondered, “who is Rikkaidai’s coach?”
All of Rikkaidai gulped, except for Yukimura who was brushing a bit of lint from the shoulder of his jersey. “We don’t have one,” he informed them all primly.
Sakaki frowned. “What do you mean, you don’t have one?”
“We don’t,” Yukimura insisted.
The rest of the team looked even more nervous, until finally Kirihara couldn’t take it anymore. “Yukimura killed him and buried his body under D-court!” he sobbed.
“No, you’ve got it all wrong,” Yagyu corrected him. “He ate the body. Whole.”
“We’ve been living in terror ever since!” Nioh cried.
“Save us!” Marui begged.
Yukimura turned around and glared at them all.
They all cringed and were cowed back into submission.
Ryuzaki rubbed her temples. “Well, since no one is willing to step forward?” She looked around the group of tennis players hopefully, but got no response. “We’ll have to develop a test.”
“The test is simple,” Yukimura insisted. “Just pull down Fuji’s pants. That’ll prove he’s a girl.”
“But what if he is a girl?” Mukahi said, horrified. “Then we’d all see…” His hands flailed in a way that was probably supposed to pantomime the horrors of a vagina.
“I suppose Coach Ryuzaki could do it…” Oishi considered.
Fuji’s face flushed. “I’m not a girl!” he repeated vehemently. “No way am I letting Coach Ryuzaki see…that.”
Everyone paused when they realized they had a problem. With the girl unwilling to expose herself, no matter who did the checking, something inappropriate was bound to occur. Because, of course, unlike every other sporting event in existence, there wasn’t a doctor present to deal with this sort of thing professionally.
“Can’t we just concede that whichever team had the girl was at a disadvantage, and drop the whole thing?” Atobe insisted. “It shouldn’t change the medal standings at all.”
“Huh.” Echizen blinked at him. “That’s weird.”
“Huh, kiddo?” Kikumaru looked down at him. “What’s that?”
“It’s just that,” Echizen said slowly, “if either Seigaku or Rikkaidai gets disqualified, Hyotei would move up to the winners’ podium…”
“That’s right!” Momoshiro realized. “Hyotei came in fifth! So the only reason Atobe would object…”
“The girl’s on Hyotei!” Nioh pointed in Atobe’s direction.
“No!” Yukimura insisted. “The girl has to be on Seigaku! I demanded their disqualification! Rikkaidai wins!”
“It’s Yukimura!” Fuji pressed.
The coaches all sighed.
“All right,” Ryuzaki announced, “all of you are going to wait in players’ lounge until we can sort this out.”
Three very angry teams were ushered out to their temporary confinement.
Of course, once the players were all alone, this time without the coaches to supervise, the accusations turned even more vicious.
“It has to be Mukahi,” Inui commented. “Assuming the girl is on Hyotei and given Mukahi’s height, weight, and flexibility, there is a 75% chance that he’s the girl.”
“I disagree,” Yanagi cut in. “Atobe himself has only a 45% chance of being female, given his raw data. However, since he has been the most outspoken against uncovering the truth, while Mukahi has shown the same surprise as everyone else, the odds that Atobe is the girl rise to 90%.”
“D-Don’t be ridiculous!” Atobe stammered. “I am no such thing.”
“Atobe?” Tezuka looked at him in disbelief.
“I just think this is stupid,” Atobe insisted huffily. “It’s a waste of my valuable and precious time.”
Everyone eyed him suspiciously.
“Besides,” Mukahi cut in, still stung by Inui’s analysis, “it’s so obviously Kikumaru anyway.”
“Huh?” Kikumaru blinked. “What?” He tried to lunge at Mukahi, but Oishi and Kawamura caught him. “You little…!” Kikumaru squirmed helplessly against his teammates’ hold. “Let me at him, you guys!”
Mukahi just smirked.
“Atobe is right,” Kaidoh grumbled, rolling his eyes. “This is stupid.”
“Ha!” Momoshiro pointed. “It’s Viper!” He laughed like a madman at the thought.
Kaidoh’s flushed. “Shut up, you idiot! If anyone here is a girl, it’s you!”
“Awww,” Momoshiro teased, “is Little Miss Kaidoh embarrassed at having her big secret found out?”
Needless to say, all of Seigaku was distracted for the next ten or so minutes trying to pull the ensuing fight apart.
“Well, I suppose that’s fine,” Yukimura decided. “I don’t really care who on Seigaku it is, just as long as it’s someone on Seigaku…”
“But it’s probably not Kaidoh,” Sanada felt the need to be the voice of reason.
“Probably not,” Yukimura conceded.
In the meantime, Akutagawa studied the Rikkaidai group. “If it’s not Fuji, then maybe it’s Marui,” he said, suddenly hopeful. “Then I could marry Marui!”
Marui glared at him. “Maybe it’s you!” he shot back.
Akutagawa looked ecstatic at the idea. “Then you and Fuji would both be boys, and I could marry both of you!”
Mukahi slapped him in the back of the head. “Idiot!” he hissed.
“What?” Akutagawa blinked.
“Are you a girl?” Ohtori pointed out.
“No,” Akutagawa blinked more.
“Then you’re obviously not the girl,” Shishido hissed.
“Oh,” Akutagawa’s face fell. “Right. It still could be Fuji or Marui, though!” He refused to give up hope.
“Oh, I have had it with this,” Yukimura exclaimed in frustration and stalked over to the Seigaku group. “I’ll settle this once and for all!” And he yanked down Fuji’s pants from behind.
Fuji froze, blinked very slowly, and turned around.
Yukimura’s triumphant look fell into a frown as he looked at Fuji’s crotch. “Oh, damn…” he sighed.
Slowly, Fuji smiled at him…and yanked his pants down.
The onlookers were forced to conclude that, despite their very strong suspicions otherwise, neither Fuji nor Yukimura was actually secretly a girl. Mukahi breathed a sigh of relief that he didn’t have to see a vagina.
However, everyone slowly came to the realization that the end of the world might very well be nigh upon them. Yukimura and Fuji stood, deadlocked, glaring at each other. Tension swirled through the room as Fuji and Yukimura both gathered up their satanic powers, and then…
“Humph,” Yukimura turned away from Fuji and back to where the rest of Seigaku had finally stopped fighting and were staring in horror at the nearly averted apocalypse. He pulled his pants back up, like the whole incident was nothing. “Fine, then the girl is Echizen!”
Fuji also pulled his pants back up and smiled. “That was fun!” he decided. “Hmm, let’s try Sanada next!”
Echizen gave Yukimura an annoyed look. “Wait, you’re saying you were beaten by a girl,” he smirked.
Yukimura froze at that, debating which way would be worse.
Sanada, meanwhile, sputtered in disbelief. “Me?” he finally gasped out.
“Uh, Fuji, are you sure about that?” Kikumaru scratched his head. “If you want to accuse someone else on Rikkaidai, then maybe, I dunno, someone like Marui or Kirihara would make more sense?”
Kirihara and Marui both sputtered in response.
“It’s Sanada,” Fuji persisted gleefully.
“Are you mocking me?” Yukimura glared at him.
“What ever would give you that idea?” Fuji blinked innocently.
“Sanada,” Yukimura ordered, “pull down your pants and show him.”
“W-What?” Sanada’s face turned red.
“And I demand proof from Echizen,” Yukimura crossed his arms over his chest huffily.
Echizen snorted. “Good luck.”
“This is ridiculous,” Atobe insisted. “It’s just turned into a witch hunt. I’m getting out of here. Kabaji?”
“Yes,” Kabaji agreed, following after him.
Tezuka’s eyes darted to where Yukimura was demanding that people strip left and right, before he snuck off to cut off Atobe.
“Now, Sanada!” Yukimura tapped his foot impatiently. “I won’t have Rikkaidai’s honor besmirched any longer.”
“But…” Sanada was still blushing wildly, a look of downright panic in his eyes.
“Oh, don’t be such a wimp.” Yukimura batted a hand in the air casually. “I did it. It’s no big deal.”
Sanada just shook his head vigorously.
“Huh.” Yagyu frowned. “What are you so worried about, Sanada? Unless…”
“He is a girl!” Nioh exclaimed. “I should have known it all along! Yukimura isn’t the wife; Sanada is!”
“It makes so much sense now!” Kuwahara agreed, even though it didn’t make any sense at all.
“You guys are not helping,” Sanada glared at them.
Kirihara blinked up at him in dismay. “Is it true, vice-captain?”
“Of course not!” Sanada scoffed.
“Then, there’s really no reason to drag this out,” Yukimura concluded. “Take your pants off now, Sanada.”
Sanada faced him stoically.
Yukimura raised an eyebrow.
Sanada’s bottom lip quivered.
Yukimura’s eyes narrowed dangerously.
And Sanada dropped his pants in front of everyone.
He wasn’t the girl.
“But I guess we know who wears the pants in their relationship,” Nioh snickered.
Yukimura scowled at him. “Two hundred laps!”
“B-But we’re supposed to stay in this lounge!”
“Then do two hundred laps around the lounge,” Yukimura demanded unreasonably.
Nioh was wise enough not to argue again.
“There, now that that’s settled,” Yukimura concluded as Nioh jogged off. “Echizen.”
“Not in a million ye—” Echizen began, sounding very bored by the whole thing.
Fortunately, Momoshiro was more than happy to pants him mid-sentence.
Echizen blushed horribly and yanked his pants back up, glaring at Momoshiro. His innocence had now been proven, however.
“Double damn,” Yukimura swore. “Fine. It’s Kikumaru, then.”
“Oi, oi?” Kikumaru blinked in surprise.
Momoshiro grinned and went over to try to pants him.
“No one’s pantsing Eiji!” Oishi declared firmly, wrapping an arm around his doubles partner’s shoulders in solidarity.
“Or Momoshiro,” Yukimura said dismissively. “I really don’t care which, just so long as it’s one of you.”
“Well, I think it’s Kuwahara now,” Fuji decided.
“What?” Kuwahara groaned. “Why me?”
“You have very pretty eyelashes,” Fuji informed him. “The bald head is probably just a cover. Plus, Jackal is obviously a made-up name. It’s probably short for Jacqueline.”
“That’s actually…not bad,” Marui considered.
“What are you talking about?” Kuwahara demanded. “It’s completely absurd.”
“Fuji?” Inui sighed wearily. “Maybe you’d better let someone else guess. Even Renji has better odds of being the girl than Kuwahara.”
Yanagi froze. He and Inui had been consulting each other’s notes, firm in their belief that the girl had to be on Hyotei. However, Yanagi’s pride refused to stand by and do nothing at that statement.
“Well, if that’s the way you feel,” he huffed, “no one has pointed out that it could be you yet!”
Inui took a step back and held up his hands apologetically. “I didn’t mean…”
“Why don’t you prove your manhood, Sadaharu?” Yanagi asked wickedly.
“Yes, that’s fine,” Yukimura approved. “As long as it’s someone on Seigaku.”
“Can someone please, please accuse Marui?” Akutagawa chimed in.
“Just for that,” Marui glared at him, “even if I was the girl, I would never marry you!”
Akutagawa’s face fell like his entire world had been crushed.
“Everyone!” Yukimura shrieked. “Pants down!”
“What? No!” Oishi tried to break in and end the insanity.
It was too late, though. Momoshiro pantsed Kikumaru. Echizen, in revenge for his own pantsing, pantsed Momoshiro. Yanagi pantsed Inui, and Inui pantsed Yanagi right back. At a glare from Yukimura, Kuwahara and Marui both reluctantly dropped their pants, as well.
None of them were the girl.
“All right, then,” Yukimura was getting very annoyed as his usual suspects were being proven innocent, “where’s Tezuka?”
Seigaku looked around. They’d forgotten all about Tezuka in the fuss, but in retrospect it did seem strange that he hadn’t stepped in to stop things before they could get this out of hand. Given that they were all in a very small lounge, it didn’t take them long to find him, though.
Tezuka stood in front of the door, his hand on Atobe’s wrist. Atobe was trying to twist free to open the door to freedom. Now that there was absolute silence in the room, they could easily hear Tezuka and Atobe’s argument.
“I always knew there was something different about you,” Tezuka’s cheeks were tinged slightly pink. “It’s all right. You can tell me. This will just make things easier for us.” It all made perfect sense in Tezuka’s mind. Rich people did strange things like this in order to pretend they had male heirs and such. At least, that was what Tezuka had learned from the copious romance novels he’d read. Atobe’s father had probably forced him into pretending he was a boy, or something.
Atobe’s cheeks were flushed, too. “I keep telling you, I’m not a girl.”
Tezuka’s hand reached up to touch his cheek. “This explains so much. The…feelings I have…”
Atobe’s eyelashes fluttered closed. “Tezuka…” he breathed.
Everyone else held their breaths as Tezuka closed the distance between them and kissed Atobe gently on the lips.
“Oh, rats,” Yukimura scowled at this turn of events.
“Well,” Fuji sighed in disappointment, “I guess that solves that mystery.”
However, as he spoke, Atobe recovered from his shock and, rather than accepting Tezuka’s kiss passively, he leapt on him, devouring Tezuka’s mouth wildly and wrapping his legs around Tezuka’s waist.
Tezuka pulled back with a gasp, eyes wide. “Uh…” he conceded with a blush, looking down at where Atobe was grinding against his crotch. “I guess you’re not a girl, after all.”
“You’d better believe it,” Atobe returned huskily.
Tezuka blushed, then shrugged. “I suppose it doesn’t matter so much.” And kissed Atobe again.
Everyone else was left to return to their speculation. Even though they hadn’t seen the evidence for themselves, there was enough grinding going on that they were confident Tezuka was telling the truth.
“That still doesn’t clear Tezuka,” Yukimura insisted.
By the door, Atobe gasped. “Tezuka!” He ground down into Tezuka again for good measure. “Not a girl,” he assured everyone else, before dipping back in to claim Tezuka’s mouth once again.
Yukimura scowled at Seigaku. His options really were running out. If he couldn’t find a girl among them quickly, Rikkaidai might actually – horror of horrors – only get the silver medal!
“Oishi,” he decided.
“Huh?” Oishi stared at him blankly.
“Uh, Seiichi,” Yanagi pointed out gently. “I really do think it’s got to be someone on Hyotei. At this point, isn’t it best to just find them and clear our own names?”
“Oishi!” Yukimura insisted stubbornly. “He’s got that whole den-mother thing going on.”
Oishi blushed and stammered. “I-I-I r-really d-don’t…”
“Can I be the girl?” Akutagawa sighed wistfully. “If I’m not, then I can’t marry either Fuji or Marui.”
Fuji and Marui both looked vaguely disturbed.
“If anyone on Hyotei gets pantsed, it should be Mukahi!” Kikumaru stuck his tongue out. “Nyah-nyah!”
“Why, you!” Mukahi hissed.
Oshitari and Ohtori held him back.
“Fine, fine,” Yukimura sighed. “Oishi first, and then Mukahi.”
“And me!” Akutagawa volunteered.
Everyone on Hyotei gave him strange looks, except for Atobe who currently had his hands down the back of Tezuka’s pants.
“Er… You do that,” Yukimura blinked. “Whatever makes you happy. Fuji, who are you accusing?”
“Hmm…” Fuji considered. The person he really wanted to accuse now was Kabaji, but he was on Hyotei, and this had become all about humiliating Rikkaidai. “Nioh,” he decided instead.
Nioh, who had just finished his two hundred laps (it was a very small lounge, after all), groaned.
“All right. On the count of three,” Yukimura announced. “One…”
“W-Wait a minute!” Oishi was still stammering.
Nioh and Mukahi both reluctantly dropped their pants. Akutagawa eagerly dropped his, but learned – to his disappointment – that he was a boy, too. He concluded that he would have to become a gay-rights lawyer, so that he could change the law to marry Fuji and Marui. Now that the possibility had occurred to him, he refused to give up his dream.
Oishi didn’t drop his pants at all. He just kept stuttering. “C-Can’t, I-I… J-Just so… I d-don’t…”
Yukimura crowed in victory. “It’s him!” he pointed. “Rikkaidai is victorious! Quick, Sanada, get his pants off and prove it!”
At that moment, however, the door opened. Unfortunately, Tezuka and Atobe were still up against the door, and they toppled to the floor as a result. This did succeed in finally dislodging them from each other, however.
Ryuzaki stepped in. “We’re ready now,” she informed them all. “This way.”
Back in the ethics-committee office, a genetics lab had now been installed.
“We had no problem getting a forensics team to come over,” Oji explained. “After all, determining whether junior high tennis players are boys or not takes precedence over analyzing crime scene evidence.”
The scientists in the background nodded vigorously in agreement.
“And TV has led me to believe that it takes no time whatsoever to do genetic testing, so we’ll know the results immediately.” Oji smiled. “Now, who’s going first?”
“Oishi!” Yukimura screamed, shoving Oishi forward.
Ryuzaki frowned. “Weren’t you convinced it was Fuji before?”
“Oishi,” Yukimura insisted.
Ryuzaki shrugged. She really didn’t want to know. “Just swab your cheek and put it in the machine.”
Oishi, relieved that he would not have to be pantsed, did as he was told. There was a two second wait, and then the machine dinged. The display screen read, big and clear so that all of them could see, “XY.”
“Oishi’s a boy,” Ryuzaki concluded. “Not that I can even begin to guess why anyone would doubt that. Okay, who’s next?”
Yukimura’s face fell. The only candidates left on Seigaku were Kaidoh and Kawamura, and even Yukimura wasn’t deluded enough to think that they were girls. “I don’t care anymore,” he grumbled.
“Well, you’re all going to have to do it eventually,” Sakaki informed them. “So let’s hurry up and get it over with.”
“This is pointless,” Atobe spoke up once again. “We’ve already eliminated everyone it could be. Obviously, there’s been some mistake. Maybe someone was holding their girlfriend’s pills, or they were left over from another day, or—”
A hand came to rest on Atobe’s shoulder. “It’s okay, Atobe,” a very resigned voice said. “You’ve protected me long enough.”
Everyone gasped at who stepped forward.
A cheek swab was applied, went into the machine, and the monitor came back with a clear “XX.”
“I,” Kabaji confessed before them all, “am a girl.”
“Drat!” Fuji pouted. “I was going to guess that!” Everyone opened their mouths to say he was lying, but then realized it was Fuji, so they shut them again. Which was smart, because Fuji was telling the truth.
Kabaji, having made her dramatic pronouncement, retreated to stand at Atobe’s back once more. The entire room stood, stunned, staring back and forth between the machine and Kabaji. That left Atobe to explain everything, which was just how Atobe liked things anyway.
“Perhaps, by an accident of genetics, Kabaji is legally a girl,” Atobe said airily, “but he’s always known that he was meant to be a boy. Isn’t that right, Kabaji?”
“Yes,” Kabaji agreed gruffly.
“We first met when I was six,” Atobe continued, “and poor Kabaji’s parents were still trying to force him into dresses and make him put bows in his hair. I, of course, generously enlightened them as to the error of their ways. Kabaji has been my most loyal friend ever since.”
Kabaji nodded his agreement behind Atobe.
“Really,” Atobe said with distaste, “it was only society’s absurd definitions that made Kabaji a girl to begin with. I’ve never paid much attention to those things, and I don’t see why I should now. Because Kabaji is still underage, he can’t have a sex-change operation for a few years yet, but he still plans to as soon as he is able. If this is enough to disqualify Hyotei, disqualify away. It will only prove how petty your so-called ethics are in the first place, since Kabaji is clearly a man in spirit. We didn’t medal in any case, so I hardly think it matters.”
Everyone in the room just nodded dumbly. There was simply no other response.
“Uh, maybe we should just let this slide,” Sakaki suggested. He really didn’t want to have to explain to various officials that Kabaji was a girl. He’d probably get laughed right out of the stadium.
“I suppose there’s no harm done,” Ryuzaki agreed warily, “since Hyotei didn’t win anyway…”
Oji beamed. “All right, then. It’s settled. We’ll let Hyotei off with a warning. Next time, be sure to consult with the tournament committee beforehand to clear these things.”
“Gladly,” Atobe conceded.
“And with that,” Oji shuddered, “let us all try very, very hard to forget that we ever learned Kabaji is a girl.”
Everyone was more than happy to do that.
“Wait!” Yukimura proclaimed. “I’m not done yet!”
Everyone sighed wearily.
“Seigaku may not be girls, but they’re…on steroids!” Yukimura decided. “And I bet Echizen’s underage! They snuck him in against rules. He can’t be more than eleven.”
“Are you saying you were beaten by an eleven-year-old girl now?” Echizen teased.
“On steroids!” Yukimura insisted. “And Tezuka’s too old. He has to be at least thirty. I don’t know why no one’s reported it before. I demanded that Seigaku be disqualified!”
One hour later, drug tests were administered and birth certificates were verified. No one was on steroids, Echizen was indeed twelve, and (just for good measure) no one else on Seigaku was a girl, either. It was revealed that, while Tezuka wasn’t thirty, it turned out he’d skipped a grade, so he looked like that while he was actually thirteen.
“I don’t know how I feel about this,” Atobe said nervously. “I kind of feel like I’m robbing the cradle…”
Tezuka’s eyes narrowed at him. “I should be the one concerned. You never told me about Kabaji. How do I know he’s not your secret girlfriend?”
“And,” Mukahi looked up at Kabaji, still rather unnerved at being so near to an actual, live vagina, “he’s been in our locker room. He’s seen us all!”
Kabaji grunted in their direction. “It’s okay. I’m a lesbian.”
Mukahi’s eyes widened. “You mean you like vaginas?”
Kabaji nodded again.
Mukahi shuddered. “That is so weird!” he concluded.
“Now,” Ryuzaki said wearily, “is there any other reason why we can’t hold this medals ceremony?”
Even Yukimura couldn’t think of another far-fetched excuse.
“Then let’s just get this over with,” Sakaki sighed wearily.
And so the Nationals medals ceremony was held two full hours late. Wild rumors abounded as to why, the wildest of which was that there had been some trouble getting the flags up properly. The poor audience never had a clue.