Chapter 2 - When one meets the eye

1979 Words
It was an ordinary sunny Monday morning at Sinharley University. All the students were rushing on their way to the Sinharley Sports Gymnasium, except for Rowie, who was leisurely walking towards their classroom, not paying attention to her surroundings. Her friends sighed loudly after seeing her enter the room. They were relieved to see her at school before Christmas vacation. This was also their last day before Larry, one of their friends, went to the U.S. for a vacation with his family. They were planning to go to Amelito’s to have a little party with the gang. "Gosh! We thought you were going to take your time taking a bath for an hour or two,” Jennica snorted at her friend, her arms crossed on her chest. Rowie just shrugged her shoulders and sat comfortably on her seat at the back. Being a caring friend, Charlotte fixed Rowie's tortoise necktie. Her striped tortoise skirt that touches her knees was not ironed well. If not for her ponytail, they were sure that she would look like a witch with her tangled hair. She really didn't know how to take care of herself. Charlotte could only groan. She must be used to it by now, but she just couldn't. "How can you live without me, Rowie?" Charlotte teased as she finished tying her friend's hair into a ponytail. "I am not living without you," Rowie snickered. "Let us watch the championship before going to Amelito’s! This is the last day after all. The school is having a blast, especially at the gymnasium," Charlotte beamed at them, eyes twinkling with the thought of college varsity on their sweaty jerseys. Larry scoffed at his girlfriend and said, "You are just looking forward to seeing Marcus," he said. Jealousy was evident in his deep voice. This was not the first time his girlfriend had watched the play. That was why he needed to make sure everything was in place now that he was leaving. But because he had a hard-headed girlfriend, he knew that this would not be enough. Charlotte eyed her boyfriend and raised an eyebrow. "Why don't you play basketball as well? That way, I will be impressed with you." He smirked. "Why would I try to impress you if you are already impressed with me?" Larry said with amusement in his voice. "Oh really? Dream on 'cause I am still watching." She stuck out her tongue and ran outside, tagging the bored Rowie along. "Sorry, Couz. I will be coming with them." Jennica patted Larry's shoulder before following her friends outside. Larry glanced at their backs before ruffling his hair out of frustration. "Why are they doing this to me? Really!" Larry did not have a choice but to follow them. He had to watch his girlfriend fangirls over Marcus, the varsity's captain for five years. He was two years older than them and he was already a graduating student, but he did not care. He was still a threat to him and their relationship. Taking his eyes off his girlfriend would be the last thing he would do. The three best friends reached the gymnasium. Their jaws almost dropped after seeing the place packed with students already. Even though the game had not started yet, the students, mostly girls, were already shouting at the top of their lungs. They were even waving their pompoms and balloons in the air while shouting Sinharley's and Eastwood's names. The gymnasium was divided into two colors; blue for Sinharley State University and Red for Eastwood University. From where Rowie and her friends were standing, it looked like the color of fire and water against each other. It was like the two colors were dancing while the audience waved their respective colors. Despite the hot and humid weather, everyone was still hyper and energetic. On the other hand, Rowie was fanning herself and was thinking of leaving her friends to get some fresh air outside. Jennica and Charlotte exchanged glances and rolled their eyes at Rowie, blaming her for being late. If not because of her, they might be sitting in front of the bleachers for a better spot. When Rowie saw their glares, she knew that it was too late to leave them now. She should have done it a while ago while she still could. At that moment, Larry caught up with them and joined the gang. His jaw also dropped at the sight, but immediately closed his mouth. "I didn't know basketball was this popular," said Larry incredulously, his eyes roaming around the crowded gymnasium. He shook his head after seeing the senior high school girls screaming like they were going to break their throats. "It is because music is all that matters to you," said Charlotte, while slightly frowning. "Yeah, right!" replied Larry. "Don't fight here! We are here to have fun. Charlotte, please," Jennica said, slightly annoyed by the couple. Both of them looked away at the same time, avoiding each other's gazes. Jennica and Rowie shrugged. It seemed like a serious fight this time, but they both did not know how to handle it. They needed to talk, really, a kind of talk where both of them were relaxed and already calm. Being hot-headed at a time like this wouldn't help any of them. Jennica's eyes twinkled while looking at someone from afar, then she dragged the girls in front of where the varsity players were sitting. Larry looked confused for a moment but he still followed the three of them without a word. And when he saw Peter, his question was answered immediately. He is Jennica's older brother. "Thanks, Bro!" Jennica beamed and gave her big brother a fist on his shoulder. "No problem, little marshmallow," Peter teased. Jennica pouted. "I am not a marshmallow!" "But you have two." Peter laughed, pertaining to Jennica's cheeks, which were so soft it looked like a pair of fluffy pillows. She smacked her brother one last time before he jogged away to meet his teammates, leaving the four of them seated at the most convenient spot ever. Then, they all watched the players warm up and play. Charlotte, Jennica, and Rowie were fans of basketball. Rowie was even playing in school as a varsity while Jennica knew the sport because of her older brother. On the other hand, Charlotte only watched basketball because of the guys playing. In the end, she learned almost everything about this sport even though she did not intend to. Larry, unlike the three, did not know anything when it came to basketball. The only thing he knew was that the players needed to shoot the ball into the hoop. He did not even know why they had to run around and chase the ball like that. They all focused on the game. Sinharley State University has been up against their rival school, Eastwood University for sports, for the last five years. It was a well-known school that focused on sports. That was why they won almost every year. But what made this school vulnerable was that Sinharley has won three times in the last five years, considering that the basketball team was only formed five years ago. Charlotte sighed, still watching the game. "As expected, Shin and Kazu can lift the team up, both physically and mentally." Rowie nodded with agreement. "Thanks to the two of them, our school has won the title three times already." "Maybe it is in the blood. Maybe Japanese boys are just so talented when it comes to this sport.” Charlotte even nodded, convinced of her own words. "Marcus is not bad as well. He is a good point guard and he is not even Japanese," Jennica commended. Charlotte smiled. "Yes, indeed," said Rowie. Rowie continued watching Kazuhiko Hibiki or known to his friends as Kazu. She secretly cheered for him inside her head. She was just too shy to shout. Add the fact that she was just sitting on the bench where the players were. She was too embarrassed to even clap her hands. She did not even know why. Charlotte was on her feet, punching the air whenever the team scored a point. Jennica was also cheering on top of her lungs and Larry couldn’t hide his amusement at everything that was going on. What made Rowie’s eyebrow crease was whenever number fourteen scored a point. It felt like the whole gymnasium was trembling and shaking. And as a player herself, she knew the reason why. Yamazaki Shintaro with the number fourteen jersey, was indeed a great player. He could score a three-pointer in the middle of the court, or any side of the court. Under pressure or not, he knew how to score. Kazu Hibiki was not bad as well. Unlike Shintaro, he was a good support to the team, especially to Shintaro. He could dribble the ball well like it was already part of his body. “So, this is the reason why they are called The Golden Partner,” said Jennica, sitting beside Rowie, who was still not cheering. “Who?” Rowie asked, not really knowing who she was pertaining to. She was too focused on watching Kazu dribbling the ball. “I mean Shintaro and Kazuhiko. They are from the same elementary school and our high school even scouted the two of them. Then people started calling them The Golden Partner after their tryout.” Rowie nodded and looked at the pair she was talking about. Of course, Marcus and the other players could score too, but it was still different watching the two Japanese boys. It was like they were magnetizing everyone in the gymnasium to watch no one else but them. They have the charisma, alright? Rowie wanted to say but chose to keep her mouth shut. When the game ended, it was Rowie's cue to clap with the audience. The benchwarmers beside them also cheered and jumped for them. It meant only one thing: Sinharley State University was taking the trophy again this year. All the players lined up in the middle of the court to bow and shake hands. They were all smiling as if nothing had happened. They just had a lot of fun playing. It was as if the trophy was not present in the game at all. That's good, though. At least they were all friends, Rowie thought. Her palms were starting to itch. After watching the game, she felt the need to play basketball too. She was about to go out with her friends when a sight caught her attention. It was Shintaro Yamazaki. He was looking at her intently, as if he had been watching her ever since she entered the gymnasium. Those tantalizing blue eyes were so bright that even though he was meters away from her, she could still clearly see his eyes. When Shintaro saw her looking at him, he smirked, not really minding if he was caught staring. Then, he busied himself on shaking the opponents' hands as if nothing happened. She shook her head and ignored it. Maybe he was just looking at something else. Maybe it was just her imagination running wild. Why would a star player like him look at her, an ordinary and boring girl? "Amelito’s! Amelito’s!" Jennica cheered when they got out of the gymnasium. It was still packed with students who were still going on about how awesome the game was. Rowie did not glance again at the gymnasium because Jennica was already dragging her along. They even bumped into some strangers that she could only mutter an apology. "Okay! Okay! Tell your hungry stomach that we are on our way," Charlotte teased her. Larry was only walking behind her quietly. Jennica pouted, then clinged her arms around Rowie's arms. "Let's go!" she beamed. Rowie sighed and went along with her hyperactive friend.
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