Mitsui Hisashi made a conscious effort to shut his gaping mouth as he stared at the unmistakable wild haired freshman from Kainan University. He rubbed his knuckles against his eyes, thinking that he was mistaken, blinked a few times for good measure, and then thrust his face against Kiyota Nobunaga’s and still he saw what had made him stop in his tracks in the first place: The obviously uncomfortable Kainan Basketball player in a black silk blouse and short red skirt with make up smeared clumsily all over his face. The scar faced Shohoku senior quickly recovered from his shock, his lips turning up into a sadistic little smirk. “ I’m not sure if I even want to know what the hell is going on here right now, but where the hell is my camera when I need it?”
“ Tell anyone about this and you die.” Kiyota declared, his short skirt riding up his thigh as he took several very masculine strides forward and grabbed the collar of Mitsui’s shirt. He watched, bemused, as the Shohoku player calmly took his cell phone from his pocket and began to punch in a number. “ What are you doing?”
“I’m calling Sakuragi.” Mitsui declared, taking care to keep his phone away from the shorter boy’s reach. “ He’s going to get a kick out of this…” He began to laugh madly as Kiyota began to shake him violently in an attempt to wrestle the cell phone from him. Just as the desperate Kainan freshman was about to take a swing at him, he was abruptly pulled away from Mitsui, a hand clamped over his mouth in an attempt to shut him up.
“ Nobu-kun! You’re messing our whole experiment up!” Jin Soichirou hissed into his ear as he flashed a charming smile at his fellow three- pointer specialist. “ You’re supposed to be acting all girly like! You know that!”
“ He’s going to call Hanamichi!” Kiyota pointed out, making one last ditch effort to reach the hysterical scar faced boy. He would have made it too if Jin hadn’t managed to catch hold onto the tail end of his blouse.
Mitsui shook his head as he brushed away tears of mirth and pocketed his phone. Ignoring the furious glares Kiyota was sending his way, he draped an arm companionably about his shoulders, still laughing uncontrollably. “ Oh, God, Kiyota. Does your little darling sweetheart Hana-kun know about this interesting little hobby of yours?”
“ It’s not my hobby. I’m doing this for a school project.” The younger boy corrected him through gritted teeth as he slipped out from under Mitsui’s rather heavy arm.
The Shohoku senior raised an eyebrow at this. “ No wonder Kainan University has such a high tuition fee then! They offer such hard to find courses as ‘Cross-dressing 101’. Maybe I should consider transferring there and taking that interesting subject up!”
“ Maybe you should, Micchy. I’m sure you’d look good in a little black dress…”
Instead of taking offense to the comment, as Kiyota had hoped the obviously masculine though openly homosexual Mitsui Hisashi would, the older boy just shrugged and smiled modestly. “ I know. I look good in anything.”
“ I don’t mean to disappoint you, Mitsui-san, but you wont find ‘Cross-dressing 101’ in the Kainan curriculum. We’re doing this for sociology class. We’re trying to experience the Kanagawa society’s attitude towards women first hand through this experiment.”
“ Oh. That’s…Nice.” Mitsui replied, trying to seem as though he understood what the hell the Kainan three pointer, his rival, was talking about.
“ I told you we shouldn’t have tried this in Shohoku.” Kiyota grumbled, scratching his thigh as surreptitiously as he could. His pantyhose was itching. He went on doing this for a few more seconds until he realized that some sleazy looking guy nearby was leering at him. Scowling, he tried vainly to pull his skirt down as far past the knees as he possibly could.
“ Well you didn’t want to try in Kainan!”
“ But I said I didn’t want to do this in Shohoku either, didn’t I? Because Hanamichi might run into us…”
“ But he hasn’t!” Jin pointed out reasonably.
Kiyota pouted, his lips becoming even more pronounced since the lipstick had been applied onto his mouth and the surrounding areas, reminding Mitsui of a very pleasant clown that his parents had hired to entertain at his seventh birthday party quite a few years ago. “ Hanamichi hasn’t. But his blabbermouth teammate has! I just want to go home already, Jin-sempai!”
“ Blabbermouth?” Mitsui repeated, feigning hurt. “ Me? A blabbermouth? Kiyota-san, I assure you that I would never do anything that would jeopardize your promising relationship with my dear friend, Hanamichi-kun! Rest assured in my reassurance that this strange sexual deviation of yours-”
“ I told you that this is for our sociology project, didn’t I?”
He continued, unperturbed, as though he hadn’t heard the younger boy’s corrections. “ Rest assured that your fascination with Transvestitism will be immediately brought to my dear friend’s attention.” Mitsui snickered. “ Knowing Hanamichi-kun and his strange tastes, this will probably be a big turn on for him!”
“ One word of this to Hanamichi and I’ll kill you. I swear.” The look in Kiyota Nobunaga’s eyes made Mitsui sure that the Kainan freshman would have no qualms in doing just that if he did so, so he merely shrugged, suppressing his grin, as he decided that he would just have to ‘accidentally’ let this little incident slip later on in a future conversation with his redheaded teammate.
“ Your secret is safe with me. Can I just ask you something? Are you actually wearing female underwear?” Mitsui inquired, watching Kiyota’s already startlingly red cheeks because of excessive use of blush turn an even deeper shade of red.
“ Pervert.” The younger boy hissed, looking away as he unconsciously began to tug his skirt down once more. “ God, my legs are itchy, Jin-sempai! Why the hell did I have to shave them? I’ll look like an idiot at practice…” Kiyota looked down mournfully at his now currently hair-less legs, thinking of all of the jokes that he would be the butt of once the rest of his teammates caught sight of them.
Grinning at the obvious discomfort of his partner, Jin sidled up to Mitsui and whispered in his ear, “ In answer to your question, Mitsui-san, I tried to get Kiyota-kun in panties, to get him in character, you know?” Jin’s large doe eyes twinkled in mischief, “ But he said that they didn’t…give enough support…”
Mitsui snickered. “ I’m sure they wouldn’t…”
Kiyota glared at the two of them suspiciously. “ What are you telling that guy, Jin-sempai?” He demanded shrilly, not liking the smirk on the face of the Shohoku shooting guard.
The Kainan sophomore rolled his eyes. “ I’m only telling him about how great, cooperative and uncomplaining you’ve been throughout this whole project.”
“ And this project…I don’t really get it.” Mitsui admitted, feeling comfortable enough now around the two Kainan students to ask about the whole thing. He pulled the two of them off the sidewalk so that they wouldn’t obstruct the pedestrians coming along. Besides, he didn’t want anyone that he knew seeing him talking to some weird guy dressed up in girl’s clothing. “ Why the hell would this project involve Kiyota dressing up in this?” Grinning, Mitsui took hold of Kiyota’s skirt and pulled it up, soliciting a rather girlish squeal from the freshman, who then proceeded to slap him mercilessly with the handbag that he had been carrying, going on and on about what a pervert he was as he did so.
Jin came to his rescue after a while, reminding his companion that Mitsui was a very good friend of Hanamichi’s and that it wouldn’t help their relationship any if he accidentally clobbered Mitsui to death in the streets of Shohoku while dressed up in clothing that Jin had borrowed from one of their female classmates.
Smoothing down his unruly dark hair, Kiyota gave him one last parting whack on the head. “ Touch me one more time and I swear on all that is good and holy that I’ll get Hanamichi to break every single bone on your body.”
Mitsui raised his hands appeasingly. “ Hey. I just wanted to know what the hell is going on here! I mean, I never expected this to be the night when my deepest darkest fantasy, the one and only Nobunaga Kiyota dressed in a little tiny skirt, actually comes true!” Knowing what was coming, the scar faced basketball player was actually able to dodge the blow. He crowed victoriously, apparently too soon, since the freshman managed to sock him a good one with a flying high-heeled shoe.
“ Nobu-kun! Those are Akiko-chan’s!” Jin reprimanded him, hurriedly picking the shoe up and dusting it off. “ I had to beg for her to lend that to us!”
“ They’re hideous and incredibly painful anyways. I’ll just buy her a nice pair of Air Jordans…”
“ For some reason, I don’t really see her as the type who wears those kinds of shoes outside of gym class…” Jin murmured, shoving the shoe into his backpack and throwing a pair of more comfortable rubber flip-flops at the now barefoot Kiyota.
“I just want to get out of these damn clothes!” Kiyota wailed, an anguished expression on his face as he dramatically threw his hand up against his forehead and began to bemoan luck and his horrid, horrid life. He took no notice of the people whose attention he had attracted with his melodramatics.
“ Nobu-kun, shut up already, all right? You win. I give up on this. We obviously need to think up some new project for sociology since this whole ‘Kiyota Nobunaga disguised as a girl’ thing just isn’t working out.”
“ If the whole point of this project that the two of you are working on is to pass this kid off as a girl, then I’ve got to tell the two of you right now that you’ve failed miserably.” Mitsui informed them, wrinkling his nose in distaste, as he looked Kiyota over from head to toe. “ Anyone would be able to tell from a mile away that he’s a fake. Dammit, Kiyota makes the ugliest looking guy dressed as a girl that I’ve ever seen in my life, not that I’ve seen many…” Mitsui pursed his lips thoughtfully as he examined the freshman even more closely. “ Oh no, wait. I’ve been thinking. If Akagi were to be dressed up as a girl…well, that would be pretty bad. And the captain of Ryonan too! If ever the day comes that I come across Uozumi in a pretty, frilly little pink dress, I shall gouge my eyes out…” The shooting guard shuddered at the mental picture.
Jin, who had been expecting some sort of in-depth analysis on what was wrong with Kiyota’s whole image, just rolled his eyes. “ Thank you for those pleasant thoughts that you’ve given me, Mitsui-san. I’ll be sure to keep them in my mind for future nightmares. But I’d really liked it if you could maybe give us a bit of advice on what we’re doing wrong. I really don’t want to flunk out of this subject…”
The Shohoku player tipped his head thoughtfully to one side. “ Let’s see now. If you end up failing this subject then you guys would get booted off the basketball team and wouldn’t be able to play in the Inter High anymore…Hmm…that sound’s like a pretty good thing to me!”
“ You’ve got to be kidding!” Kiyota fumed, outraged.
“ You’re right. I am. Just joking, all right? Since you’re all tight with my dear friend Hanamichi, I’ll help you out on this project of yours, though I still don’t understand it or anything…”
“ The concept is really quite simple, Mitsui-san. Kiyota simply disguises himself as a girl so that he can experience the way that life is for females in the Kanagawa society.”
“ Well…why don’t you just ask girls about it then? Then you wouldn’t have had to go to all of this trouble.”
Kiyota’s eyes narrowed as he turned to face his partner. “ Yes, Jin-sempai. Why couldn’t we just have done what he suggested? That would have been a whole lot easier than having me running around Shohoku in primitive torture instruments such as those damn heels!” His respect for women had intensified tenfold after experiencing all the torture that they had to go through wearing such uncomfortable things as high heels and skin tight clothing.
“ Because we get a higher grade this way?” If Jin thought that the prospect of a high grade would make all the suffering all the more worthwhile in Kiyota’s eyes, then he was sadly mistaken. “ Now, come on, Mitsui-san! Tell us what you think would make Kiyota-kun here more believable.”
“ Well, for one thing, the two of you went a bit over the top with the whole tissue in the bra thing.” Mitsui snickered, poking Kiyota’s gigantic, artificial chest with his index finger. “ It just looks plain wrong! I mean, come on! No woman has a chest that sags all the way down to the middle of her stomach like Kiyota’s.”
“ I see your point….” Jin murmured thoughtfully as he tried to push the clumps of tissue paper under the blouse upwards. Kiyota slapped his hand away, scowling, advising Jin that he shouldn’t try to get too fresh with him.
“ And another thing, Kiyota’s whole demeanor just isn’t…feminine enough…”
“ Well forgive me for not being used to cross-dressing. I don’t make this a habit of mine, you know?”
“ His body is all wrong…”
“ All right. All right already, will you just quit slagging me off now? Name one other guy here in Kanagawa who would look better than me in this skirt.” Kiyota challenged Mitsui, his pride slightly hurt by all of the senior’s criticisms.
The Shohoku shooting guard proceeded to do just that without the slightest hesitation. “Kiminobu Kogure, Hiroaki Koshino, Kenji Fujima-that guy is just about the prettiest thing I’ve ever laid my eyes on-and the Kainan representative…” with an elaborate flourish, Mitsui pointed to Jin. “ Soichirou Jin.”
Kiyota and Jin gaped at him, open-mouthed. “ You’ve given this a lot of thought before, haven’t you, you pervert?” the wild haired freshman remarked.
Mitsui shrugged. “ The subject might have come up a few times in prior conversations with Hanamichi.”
“ You and Hanamichi were talking about these sort of things?” Kiyota demanded, his voice getting dangerously low and his fists clenching by his sides.
Mitsui smirked, sensing the younger boy’s barely suppressed jealousy. “ I’m just kidding around. It was Sendoh that I was discussing those things with some time ago.”
“ You and Sendoh belong together, you know that?”
The scar-faced boy shook his head, a cheerful grin on his face. “ Oh, no. We already tried getting together. It didn’t work out very well. We could never decide who should be on top…”
Kiyota made a disgusted face. “ Spare me those kind of details, will you?”
“ Hey! You were the one that got me started!” Mitsui pointed out.
“ We asked for your opinion on what would make our project better, not for details of your sex life with Sendoh Akira.”
“ You sure you don’t want to know about that? You could learn a lot of things from Sendoh that Hanamichi would like…”
“ All right, all right. I was just fooling around!” Seeing that the younger boy had just about reached the end of his tether, Mitsui finally turned serious. “ Okay, even with a better paint job than the one Kiyota has on now-”
“ What’s wrong with Nobu-kun’s make-up? I was the one that put that on him, you know.” Jin protested examining Kiyota’s face. He had been very proud of his work, which he had thought to be very good since he had never had any experience in cosmetology before and had no sisters that he could have asked for help.
“ Well…When I look at Kiyota right now, the first thought that jumps to my mind is ‘Circus Clown’. That’s not a good thing…and besides, He just doesn’t make that convincing a girl. He’s just…all wrong for the part…” Mitsui pivoted around on his heels and perused Jin thoughtfully. “ While you, on the other hand…”
Catching his drift, Jin began to back away slowly, shaking his head vigorously. “ No. There is no way that I, Jin Soichirou-”
“ Oh, come on, Jin-sempai!” Kiyota advanced slowly towards his partner, a malicious smile on his dark red lips. “ You want to get a good grade on this project, don’t you?”
“ Ouch! That hurts, Kogure-san! Are you trying to pull out my eyelashes with that thing? My face feels like it’s about to crack from all the make-up that you’ve slathered on and there is absolutely no way in hell that I’m going to squeeze myself into that…that thing!” Jin watched Kogure Keiko warily as she advanced towards him holding out a blouse that would be ‘just perfect for him’ to quote her words. Nearby Kiyota, Mitsui and his old flame, Kogure Kiminobu were rolling around on Keiko’s bed laughing their heads off. Kiyota was back to his old, rambunctious self once more now that he was out of the ‘instruments of torture that were passed off as clothes’ and into more comfortable attire that had been borrowed from Kogure Kiminobu.
Jin had finally relented, after some wheedling from Kiyota, to try his hand in dressing as a female. Mitsui had then declared that he knew someone that would be able to help them and had proceeded to drag them to a nearby house. He found out too late that the house that they had gone to belonged to a fellow teammate and past love of the Shohoku shooting guard, Kogure Kiminobu, and that the person that he planned on asking help from was the guy’s older sister, Keiko, who happened to have a flair for fashion.
Upon hearing of her task, Keiko had let out an ear splitting squeal of ‘makeover!’ before somehow managing to drag the much taller Kainan player into her room and setting to work. An hour and a half later, they were still at it. Jin had never realized how much effort it took for girls to get themselves looking so nice. His female classmates just always made it seem so effortless, so he was just beginning to appreciate all the effort that they put on themselves. “ Please tell me you’re nearly done, Kogure-san.”
“ It’s Keiko-chan, dear. And this will all be over with a lot sooner if you keep still, you know.” Her lips pursed in concentration, Keiko surveyed her work with satisfaction.
“You’ve got such pretty eyes, Soi-chan, you know that? I think they’re your best feature! I’ll just give you a word of advice. When you buy eyeliner, buy the pencil kind, not the liquid. The pencil is a lot easier to handle, for me at least. And you want to put on loads and loads of really dark mascara. Some girls can’t pull that off-”
Jin sighed. “ I’m not a girl.” He pointed out. Keiko had been bombarding him with make-up tips ever since she had started with his transformation.
But she went on unperturbed, “ Some girls can’t really pull that off. But I think you should be able to because you really have such pretty, pretty eyes! Even prettier than my brother’s, I think. And Kogure has very pretty eyes…” Jin thought that he would be sick if he heard the word ‘pretty’ one more time.
The door to Keiko’s bedroom flew open, giving him a momentary reprieve from having his eyebrows plucked. A little brown haired boy, a miniature version of Kogure Kiminobu without the glasses, bounded right into the room and pulled himself onto Mitsui’s lap. “Sashi-niichan!” The little boy soon turned his attention to his older brother, a gap toothed grin on his face. “ Oniichan, Kaede-niichan is on the phone. He says he wants to talk to you…”
“ Kaede-niichan, huh?” Mitsui repeated. He raised his eyebrow as he looked questioningly at Kogure who was studiously avoiding his gaze. Keiko watched the two with some interest, completely forgetting Jin and a snickering Kiyota. “ Does Kaede-niichan spend a lot of time with Kimi-kun?”
“ Mitsui! It’s completely unfair gathering information from a little boy!”
“ I’m not a little boy, Niichan. And Kaede-niichan comes here all the time. He’s really nice. He brings me stuff all the time.” Kogure Asa informed Mitsui as he dug around the older boy’s shirt pocket for anything interesting. He unearthed some candy, unwrapped it and happily popped it in his mouth. “ Is Kaede-niichan coming to spend the night with you again when Mom and Dad go away this week like he did the last time? You two had a lot of fun then, didn’t you? The two of you were up till way early in the morning still playing with each other…”
Kiyota snorted, unable to keep back gales of laughter. Mitsui was staring open mouthed at Kogure while Keiko and Jin tried to digest the innocent comment of the little boy. Keiko shook her head. “ Kimi-kun…I didn’t know you were that serious about that guy…”
Red faced, Kogure picked his little brother up and took him out of the room with him while he got the phone, just in case Mitsui got it in his head to ask the boy some more potentially embarrassing questions.
“ Ouch. That must have hurt.” Kiyota commented, trying to appear sympathetic and failing miserably.
Mitsui just narrowed his eyes as he looked at the younger boy contemplatively. Kiyota hadn’t acted at all surprised when he heard that Rukawa Kaede had called Kogure. “ You knew! You and Hanamichi knew!”
“ Well…yeah. They’ve been going out for a couple of months now. And Rukawa sort of talks to Hanamichi sometimes…”
Mitsui sat there glowering at nothing in particular as he waited for Kogure to come back into the room. It wasn’t the fact that Kogure was going out with someone that hurt so much. He had known that that would have to happen eventually. He just didn’t like being kept in the dark like that, being made to look stupid. The first thing out of his mouth as Kogure stepped into the room was “ Cradle snatcher!”
“ Cradle snatcher?” He repeated, slightly bewildered by his ex boyfriend’s sudden outburst.
“ Yeah! How old is Rukawa anyways? Fifteen? Sixteen? You should be ashamed of yourself! He’s barely out of diapers!”
“ What are you talking about?” Kogure demanded, his cheeks flushing a deep red as the mental image of Rukawa in nothing but a little cloth diaper came into his mind. “ I don’t know how long it took you to get potty trained Hisashi-kun, but I assure you that Kaede-kun got out of the whole diaper stage of his life a lot earlier than that.”
“ He’s fifteen years old, Kogure! You’re eighteen!”
“ He’s actually sixteen, you never bothered to even greet him on his birthday, and I’m only seventeen, turning eighteen in three months.” The vice captain of the Shohoku basketball club corrected him, crossing his arms before his chest in a gesture that Mitsui recognized. It meant that Kogure was getting pissed. It took a lot to get the mild mannered boy pissed, but it wasn’t a very pretty sight when that did happen. “Besides, age doesn’t matter. And Kaede is a very mature sixteen.”
“ Age should matter!” The scar-faced boy insisted.
“ God, Mitsui! You’re such a prude!”
“ Me? A prude?” Mitsui repeated in disbelief. “ After all of the exotic things we did together you still think I’m a prude? Oh, I get it. As they say, it’s always the quiet ones that are the kinkiest in bed. I guess you and Rukawa must be getting up to some pretty weird things…”
“ Mitsui! Do you mind?” Kogure growled. For the first time ever, Jin and Kiyota witnessed the anger of the usually quiet Shohoku vice-captain, and it was a rather impressive sight. “ My sister is here with us, listening to this conversation.”
“ Who cares? She’s a hentai anyways.”
“ Oi! I resent that!” Keiko butted in, throwing a hairbrush at Mitsui.
“ So anyways, before Mitsui embarrasses himself any further with his stupidity…” Kogure’s dark brown eyes narrowed, daring Mitsui to say anything else. “ Kiyota, Rukawa says that Hanamichi is looking for you. He wants to know why the hell you haven’t been answering any of his SMS messages and what you’re doing running around Kanagawa dressed as a girl with Mitsui at this time of the night. Rukawa says that Hanamichi-kun wants you to call him or go over to his house right now.”
Kiyota scowled. “ You told him!” He accused Mitsui.
The older boy just shrugged. “ I never said I wouldn’t, did I? Of course I told him. Do you think I would let something like this pass without telling that guy about it?”
The wild haired Kainan freshman groaned. “ I guess I’ll just go over and visit Hanamichi then…”
“ Why don’t you spend the night? I heard Hanamichi’s brother is off somewhere with his girlfriend.” Mitsui suggested with a suggestive little smile.
“ That’s actually a good idea…” Kiyota murmured thoughtfully, a slow grin forming on his face. “ I’ll just call home and tell them that I’m spending the night over at Jin-sempai’s. They trust him after all. But will you be all right walking to the train station on your own, Jin-sempai?”
“ Yeah. No worries about me. I’ll be going as soon as I get all of this gunk off.” Jin announced with a little sight.
“ Actually, you look really good, Jin.” Kogure told him, leaning against the doorframe and perusing the younger boy’s reflection on the mirror thoughtfully. “ You look…like a girl. Would you like to put that through the test, though?”
“ What do you mean?”
“ The reason that Rukawa called was because Hanamichi had bugged him into a double date with himself and Kiyota.”
“ What? I didn’t know Hana-kun and I had anything arranged for tomorrow.” Kiyota said, frowning, as he racked his brain for any mention of a date with his boyfriend.
“ You didn’t. But you do now.” Kogure shrugged. “ Apparently, he bumped into Sendoh today at the courts and the guy challenged him into a bowling game. He lost, and Hanamichi being Hanamichi, he demanded a rematch. He wants us all there tomorrow to witness the defeat of, to quote his words, ‘that smiley, good for nothing hentai’.”
“ All right. But what does that have to do with me?” Jin asked, puzzled.
“ You can tag along. See if the other guys who don’t know who you are figure things out or not. It’d be the perfect time for you to gather information about the dating experience from a female’s viewpoint.”
“ Wow. You’re right. That’s brilliant!” Jin agreed enthusiastically as he examined himself on the mirror, Keiko finally having finished. Kogure was right. He really did look like a girl. And a damn pretty one in his own rather biased opinion.
“ And I’ll be your date for the evening.” Mitsui declared. That way, he could keep an eye on Rukawa and Kogure. Not that he was jealous or anything, he reassured himself, after all, his fling with Kogure had ended a long time ago. He was just curious to see how the two were with each other. “ Wash up, Jin-san. We can come over to Kogure’s house early tomorrow so that Kei-chan can fix you up again. I’ll walk you to the station.”