what_we_dream: (Eyeshield 21)
[personal profile] what_we_dream
Title: Poker Face
Series: Eyeshield 21
Pairing: Vaguely Hiruma/Mamori
Rating: G

Summary: It's his job to know what's going to happen before it happens. Dinosaurs game missing scene.


Mamori sits on the cold chair beside Hiruma, his note folded in her hands like the last missive of a man going to war. The edges are still rough where she hasn’t taped them up exactly square, but the words are more than clear enough. The substitute quarterback, by process of elimination, is Ishimaru.

It’s the logical choice – the logical prediction. It’s also completely wrong, and they both know it.

“That loser is the kind of guy who says he can’t possibly do something, and then does it. That’s why Kobayakawa Sena will be the second quarterback.” Hiruma had said after practice, watching her tape his note back together while he updated the team’s webpage. She wonders now whether he would have said anything if she hadn’t pieced the paper back together, whether it was some kind of stupid test like everything else is with him.

Here in the thick-walled medical room, the noise of the crowd is just a background hum, like the roar of the ocean in a tiny shell. It soars for a moment, though, when Hiruma’s prediction is proved right. Mamori glances out the room’s tiny window with tears warming her cheeks as Eyeshield 21 takes his place behind Kurita.

“I didn’t say anything to Sena,” she says, crumpling the note between stiff fingers. Sena would never disobey direction from Hiruma-kun, now more than ever. “This way it’ll be okay, right, Hiruma-kun?”

He hasn’t said anything since Gaou hit him, but he grins now, teeth bone-white in the fluorescent light. Mamori reaches for his left arm, but her hand wavers and drops mid-air. She wipes her face instead, and turns to watch the game. She watches Hakushuu crush the Deimon offence and then turn around to score a touchdown, biting at her lip until she tastes blood and forces herself to stop. The brief surge of the crowd’s cheers washes over the silent room in a rough wave. She glances down at Hiruma and sees no reaction. His breathing is slow and just slightly hitched in pain, his lips drawn in a shallow but unvarying frown. She wonders if he’s passed out.

Outside, Hakushuu kicks off, and play starts again. They may have just been creamed, but Deimon thrives on adversity, more than any other team in the league could possibly imagine. She watches Sena muster the team, still holding the ball like a poisonous snake but at least now a poisonous snake he’s resigned to, and drive forward down the middle for a touchdown. This time she doesn’t wince with the crowd’s distant cheer, but gasps in support.

“Enough with the groaning, fucking manager. You gonna tell me what’s happening already, or are you just going to sit there like a pile of cream pastries?”

She jumps, chair creaking under her. “Hiruma-kun! You should be resting.”

He tilts his head back, as if staring at the ceiling. “Ch’, don’t bother then. I can guess well enough. That fucking runt completely fell apart for the first drive, but he’s starting to find his groove. As well as can be expected for a moron who can’t throw a ball in a straight line.”

“Should you be talking?”

“Didn’t break my jaw, fucking manager.”

The words hurt, really hurt. Like someone reaching a hand down into her gut and twisting, so tight it really feels like fingers boring into her. It shocks her, the sudden strength of her pain. “Then your arm – it’s really –”

“Probably. Hurts like hell.”

“You should go to the hospital. I’ll call an ambulance.” She reaches for her phone. Hiruma’s left hand smacks into her arm, fumbling for an instant before his fingers close over her wrist. His skin is hot, and she can feel a very faint trembling in his bones.

“Don’t be an idiot. I’m not going anywhere. You think the fucking shrimp can win the game?”

Mamori blinks. He might ask well ask if they should keep breathing air. “What other choice is there? We have to believe he can.” On the field, Hakushuu kicks a field goal to end their attack, and the ball changes hands.

Hiruma snorts. “Belief is useless. You have to make your dreams come true.”

“You are. You made this team, you brought it to the semi-finals, you turned an errand-runner into the most famous rookie of the year. Most people couldn’t do even one of those things. You brought them this far. Let them bring you the game.”

“Tell me what’s happening now.” His voice is flat, apparently unimpressed by her speech. He lets go of her wrist; her skin feels suddenly cold.

Mamori looks out the window and takes in the scene. Then she blinks, and stands to move closer. Focuses on Hakushuu’s players. Behind her, there’s a rustle.

“Well?”

“You already know,” she says, despondent.

“A quarterback spy. Marco.” Hiruma’s voice is low and harsh. She turns, and runs back.

“Hiruma-kun!”

Hiruma’s sitting on the bed, facecloth in his left hand. He’s breathing hard, shoulders rising and falling almost an inch with each breath, and sweat is beading on his forehead. His green eyes are hard and dark as iron-rich jade. He ignores her hand, and she slowly turns to match his gaze. They watch Kisaragi get up from the bench and walk back onto the field.

“You know a quarterback’s most important skill?” he asks suddenly, apropos of nothing.

She considers for a moment without turning. “Tactical planning.”

“Keh, how practical. No, fucking manager. That’s your job. A quarterback can’t just act on what’s happening. He has to know what’s going to happen.”

“What happens if he can’t stop it?”

“He plans around it. There’s tape in my bag. Get it.” He indicates the bag sitting against the wall with his foot. Mamori goes over to it slowly and digs through the spare equipment, handguns, loose shotgun shells and sugarless gum packs to find the white tape.

She tapes his arms as he tells her. Does the right first, and then the left.

“There’s no way you can continue with this,” she tells him. “I’ll –”

“Third question,” he says, and as he goes on she knows she was beaten before he was brought in here, before the match started, before the season even started. He asks, and she has no choice to answer. And whichever one she chooses, it can’t be the right one.

“False.” She knows it’s wrong. It’s simply the only protest she can make.

“Wrong,” he answers. “Keep your fucking promise. Tape it up good and tight.”

She does, wraps him like a mummy, as if these strips of tape could keep him safe when all his equipment and the strongest linebacker in the tournament couldn’t. Finally finished, he stands and pulls his gear back on jerkily, panting hard. Mamori watches crushing, his note into a tinier and tinier ball in her fist. At last, he picks up his helmet and heads for the door.

“Why bother with the note?” she asks, desperate now and playing for time. “You knew what would happen, you knew Sena would choose to play quarterback.”

“And so did you,” he shoots back. “Or would you have let your precious Sena play, knowing he would be next in line for Gaou once I was out? With that note, he was safe. If you could stand to use it.”

Mamori looks down at the dirty roll of paper and tape. “You knew I wouldn’t.”

Hiruma nods, grinning his devil’s grin. “And now you’ll help me go back out, so I can stop them crushing him.”

“Even when you lose, you win,” she spits at him, furious with the manipulation, the puppet strings she suddenly sees have guided her every move.

Hiruma stands in the doorway for a moment, shoulders bowed and helmet hanging from his fingertips. “If I can make you think so, we may have a chance.”

With the door open, the hum of the crowd is now a rumble. Mamori blinks, opening her mouth only to find she has nothing to say.

Hiruma swivels, straightening, and grins wildly. “As if I’d believe that kind of crap. Move it, fucking manager!” He disappears into the hall, the sound of his footsteps lost immediately in the echoing roar.

She has no idea if it’s a bluff or a double bluff, and ultimately it makes no difference. Hiruma has no need of a poker face; in the end, he’ll make you believe what he wants you to. Right now, all she can wonder is what he wants her to believe – that he’s omniscient, or that he isn’t.
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