A Game Day! Haruka Versus Seiya
In the middle of summer there was going to be a festival at the park, featuring entertainment, good food, and recreation. One of the main events was a game competition on Saturday afternoon, and I had my sights set on entering it, hopefully with Michiru. There were going to be lots of events like potato sack and wheelbarrow races. I figured I was destined to win at everything, because I was good like that. I had been looking forward to it for weeks. It would also be a good time for bonding with family and friends. I couldnít wait!
A couple of days beforehand I was sorting through a pile of clothes, trying to pick out the perfect athletic attire. "It should be cute, but yet sporty and easy to move in," I said to Michiru.
"Youíre really going all out for this," she commented with a smile. "Excited?"
"You bet!" I chirped.
Michiru checked her watch. "Setsunaís checking the Gate tonight. Sheíll probably be home soon, and be hungry. I think Iíll make a snack for us."
"Yes, itís about that time. Iíll make sure the cushions are all in place. Iím not listening to her complain about any more bruises on her behind." I set about piling up cushions and pillows in the designated landing spot. It wasnít long before we heard the whoosh of an approaching time portal, and Michiru came out to welcome her home. We both backed up a good deal Ė this part could be unpredictable.
The time portal opened in the ceiling and Pluto came spilling out of it, onto her bum on the cushions. "WheeHee!" she cried, her eyes shut tightly in glee, her arms thrown up in the air.
Michiru sweatdropped and shrugged. "Good night, I guess."
Pluto picked herself up and de-transformed back into Setsuna. She looked around and planted her hands on her hips. "Well, thatís funny!"
"What is?" I asked.
"I swear she was just with me. Why isnít she here?" Setsuna looked quite worried.
I sighed. "Sweetie Ė do we need to explain the difference between real and pretend again?"
She gave me a dark look. "Haha."
I was so busy laughing at Setsuna that I didnít hear the whoosh of the time portal. I saw Setsunaís eyes move directly above my head and a split second later something hit me like a ton of bricks, flattening me to the floor.
Michiru gasped. "Good heavens!"
Setsuna sighed. "Youíd think after two thousand years I would have gotten it right by now."
The someone rolled off of me and I rubbed my sore back. Then I realized who it was. "YOU!"
"Me!" I was face to face with Seiya Kou.
"Good heavens!" repeated Michiru.
"What are you doing here?" I demanded. "And in a dress?! Werenít you a guy last time?"
Seiya nodded and tugged at the dress a little. "Yes, but Iím a woman this time around. Iím tired of changing back and forth."
"ÖAlways struck me as odd," I admitted.
"Anyway, Iím here for a visit, and I need a place to stay. Setsuna saw me traveling through space, met up with me by Mars, and suggested your house, since you have Hotaruís old room."
I turned to look at Setsuna, one eyebrow raised. "WellÖwe do," she said, shrinking back behind Michiru.
"Why donít you stay with Usagi?" I asked, turning back to the Kinmokuian.
"Donít be rude," whispered Michiru.
"I would, but she has Chiba. And Iím not sure how heíd take the news that I was staying over. I was a guy last time, remember?"
"Yeah, but-" I started.
"I think itís very sensible," said Michiru.
"I suppose so." I shot daggers at Seiya with my eyes. "I had forgotten youíre a womanizer!"
"Donít worry!" Seiya laughed. "If I go after anyone, it wonít be Usagi." She looked at Michiru as she said this.
I glared. "Donít even think about it!"
"How do you know Iím interested in Michiru? Do you think I donít know better? There are others here."
I stepped in front of her. "This oneís off limits, too."
Seiya waved a hand at me. "Yes, yes."
Having Seiya over wasnít too horrible, except that I felt the need to keep a good eye on the girls. He, or rather she, had tried to seduce Usagi even when she knew Usagi had Mamoru. At least that was how I saw it. Michiru said it was ridiculous. But I still didnít trust the woman.
On the bright side, Michiru cooked really good dinners whenever we had company.
On the morning of the festival, I was up with the dawn, out stretching in the backyard. I was raring to go. I had already made enough noise in the kitchen and the bathroom to wake up Setsuna, who had crawled into bed with Michiru, searching for a peaceful place. Every once in awhile she would lift her head, glare out the window at me, and flop back down again. I just waved and continued to do jumping jacks and karate moves until Michiru finally hollered out the window that it was only six in the morning and people were Ďtrying to sleep in here!í
I stopped jumping around and whooping like a maniac and slunk back inside.
Once everyone was properly rested and I was properly antsy, we got dressed and prepared to leave. I hopped out of the bedroom, wearing a set of tiny blue gym shorts with a matching sporty t-shirt. I thought I looked very kawaii and I struck a pose. "Ta da!"
Michiru clapped. "Oh, Haruka, you look very-"
The door to Hotaruís old room swung open. "Ta da!" Seiya hopped out, wearing the exact same outfit, only in red.
I glared. "Thatís my style."
She shrugged. "Itís my style too."
Michiru laughed nervously. "You both look wonderful. I hope you do very well today."
"Oh, I think I will." I gave Seiya a smug look.
At this point Setsuna dragged herself out of her room, looking dismal. We watched her skulk by and out the door to the car. Michiru shrugged helplessly. "LetsÖjust try to have a good day? Okay?"
Once we were at the park, Setsuna spotted Hotaru and immediately ran off. I held Michiruís hand and breathed in the fresh air. "I wonder what theyíre doing? I hope they donít miss the games. I feel confident about my chances."
Michiru hoisted the paper bag that held the casserole she had prepared for the festival picnic. "I figure theyíre going to register for the games. The judgesí booth is in that direction."
I raised an eyebrow. "Setsuna and Hotaru are going to play? Youíre kidding! Setsuna?"
"Believe me, she tried to get out of it. But Hotaru was excited and begged Setsuna to be her partner."
I suppose I should mention that both Setsuna and Hotaru were lousy at every sport known to man (or, more importantly, woman). "Arenít you going to play?" I asked Michiru. "I was hoping Iíd be your partner."
She shook her head. "Not this time. Iím going to be helping prepare the food in the main tent. Besides, you know sports arenít really my cup of tea."
"But donít you even want to watch Setsuna and Hotaru come in last in every event they enter?"
"You just let me know how it goes." Michiru headed off towards the main tent, her domestic instincts kicking in.
"But whoís going to be my partner?" I wailed after her.
She turned and smiled at me. "Donít worry, Love. Go to the judgesí table and theyíll pair you up with someone. Not everyone has a partner. Iím sure youíll end up with someone just right for you."
Well, I was in no mood to have a random partner. I wanted to at least have my pick of the best. I headed out to find someone who was worthy of helping me win.
As the morning wore on, the bleaker I felt. Everyone had a partner except for me. The Inners were there, but they were partnered with each other and Usagi had Mamoru. I considered Chibi-Usa for one split second until I realized how foolish that would look. Besides, she was still in the kiddie division. I would have been happy to have Setsuna as my partner at this point, even if she did stink. Defeated, I dragged myself over to the judgesí table and admitted that I needed some help finding someone.
The head judge smiled. "Not a problem," he said. "We match people up all the time. In fact, we have another woman who is interested in partnering with someone. Sheís close to you in height and ability."
I felt more hopeful. "Who is it?" I asked.
"There she is right now." The judge gestured to someone behind me. "Miss? I think we found you a suitable match."
I turned around, ready to shake hands and smile, but my mouth dropped open instead. "Oh, NO! Anyone but you!"
Seiya crossed her arms. "Well thatís friendly."
Seiya and I grudgingly stood next to each other to check out the game lineup that had just been handed out. We were going to be starting with the easy races and gradually move up in difficulty to finish with the mother of all events, the three-legged race. I spotted Setsuna and Hotaru gazing at their list, both looking worried. I promptly bounded away from Seiya and grabbed Setsuna by the arm, yanking her away from Hotaru so fast that the little girl spun around once and landed, dizzy, on her bum in the grass.
"Hey!" cried Setsuna.
"BE MY PARTNER!" I begged, hugging onto her arm. I had finally snapped.
"Haruka, no! I promised Hotaru."
Across the way, dizzy Hotaru raised one hand in greeting.
"You can both be my partners!" I said with desperation. "We can have a threesome!"
Hotaru started to laugh and Seiya snorted. Setsuna just shook her head. "Go away!" She left me, pulled Hotaru up, and the two of them took off. Setsuna stumbled slightly and bent down to tie her shoe. I sweatdropped. And they were entering?
Seiya nodded at them. "Youíre a desperate man, arenít you?"
"Oh, shut up!"
Soon enough we were all lined up across a wide field, our feet in potato sacks. It was a very Brady Bunch moment, except that I wasnít getting along with ĎGregí very well at the time. *
"Haruka, youíre not holding onto the top of your sack with a very good grip," Seiya noted.
"How do you know you are?" I demanded. "What do you know about potato sack racing?"
"I won a potato sack race triathlon on Kinmoku," she said smugly.
I opened my mouth to argue this, but nothing came out except a loud bang. The race had just started without us.
"GO!" yelled Seiya and gave me a panicked shove. I tottered and tried to step forward, but it was impossible as I was in a burlap sack. I started to tilt forward and only managed to stay on my feet by knocking into Ami and sending her sprawling, propelling myself back to my feet using her body as something to push against. I choked out an apology and started to hop. By this time, Seiya and I were well behind and hopping for all we were worth. Setsuna and Hotaru were making little pathetic hops not far in front of us. "We both have to win this race in order to get in the lead!" Seiya hollered. The better place you got, the more points you and your partner received.
"We can at least overtake Setsuna and Hotaru!" I called. I thought we were doing decently for our late start. We were starting to pass the Inners.
Seiya had other ideas. "Youíre doing it wrong!"
"Iím not!" I panted. "I think you are! Go faster!"
Up ahead of us, Hotaru looked tired. Setsuna took her hand and the two of them jumped together. I kept waiting for them to fall, but they didnít.
"You go faster!" Seiya tried to grab my sack.
"Keep your hands off!" I tried to grab the back of her shirt to drag her along.
"No, you! Youíre-AHHH!"
We both tumbled to the ground, taking Minako and Rei with us. They yelled out and started to kick us and we kicked them, which resulted in the kicking of more people until most of the contestants were lying in a pile, nursing their bruises Ė except for Setsuna and Hotaru who somehow managed to come in third.
"We lost!" I sobbed, trying to get my legs free of the sack.
Seiya glared. "I dislike you."
I would like to say the other events went better, but it was a rough go. We started off strong in the carry-the-egg-on-a-spoon event, which consisted of exactly that Ė carrying an egg on a spoon for a lengthy distance, but when it came time to pass the egg to Seiya, we were in such a hurry that our spoons didnít line up right and the egg died on the concrete. Hotaru had a quick funeral service for it, which was attended by Setsuna, their egg (which had lived and come in second place), Seiya, and me, but it didnít help our score any.
The next event was the good old pass-the-orange-under-your-chin event, and you can imagine how that turned out.** Seiya came at me with an orange under her chin and as soon as I got my face close enough to hers to take the fruit with my own neck muscles, the two of us ended up staring at each other, blushing. Then we took to glaring at each other for making the other one blush. By then we were too far behind to catch up.
On the other hand, the wheelbarrow race was the perfect opportunity for us to tell each other that we werenít only slow, but also heavy. The person being the wheelbarrow at the time also managed to get in a few well-aimed kicks to the chest of her partner when the latter was just a bit too insulting. I personally think Hotaru and Setsuna had an unfair advantage, both of them being lightweights. Setsuna was a good bit taller than Hotaru, but she didnít weigh anything. What in the world do Kinmokuians eat?
"You have thunder-thighs!"
Seiya kicked me firmly in the chest.
We finally made it to the Goliath of partner races: THE THREE-LEGGED RACE. This was not an event for wimps.
I watched as Setsuna wrapped the cloth strip that would bind herself and Hotaru together around their legs and fastened it well. I almost felt sorry for them. There was no way theyíd be able to win this race. I suddenly winced. "Ouch! Youíre tying it way too tight!"
"Do you want to come undone?" Seiya asked, giving the cloth another good yank. "Weíll be disqualified if we donít stay together."
"On your marks!" called the race-starter.
I threw my arm around Seiyaís shoulders to support myself. "Letís do this."
"This is for the glory, Tenoh."
"GO!" The gun went off.
Utter chaos broke out. Some of the more seasoned racers began to move together swiftly, but a lot of people started to stumble and go down. This race would definitely determine who was woman (or man) enough for the trophy. The weak would be trampled and the fittest would survive. I started to move, starting on my right foot, but Seiya had the same idea and also started on her right. We stumbled right away, but didnít fall. "Iím not letting you screw this up!" I seethed.
"Me? You started on the wrong foot!"
"I didnít! You did! Besides, we never decided which foot to start on! Itís really no oneís fault," I suddenly realized.
They were dropping like flies all around us as we struggled to move together in our haste to get to the finish line, failing miserably. As I took stock of the other opponents, I noticed Setsuna and Hotaru out of the corner of my eye. They were moving in perfect sync, counting out loud to stay in step. It was almost freaky how well they were doing. Well, they already had really pretty hair and cool weapons. I certainly wasnít going to let them win this race without a fight! "Come on, Kou! Weíre finishing this race if it kills us!"
Usagi and Mamoru suddenly went down laughing right in front of us, which tripped up Seiya. Usagi squealed and pointed at Seiya and Mamoruís eyes went wide. "H..Hi!" piped Seiya, a grin spreading across her face.
"Oh, no you donít!" I gritted my teeth and started to physically drag Seiya across the field.
"Heís a girl this time around!" I heard Usagi exclaim.
"Always struck me as oddÖ" Mamoru admitted.
The crowd erupted in wild cheers as Setsuna and Hotaru crossed the finish line in first place, and had started to walk away as I dragged the grass-stained Seiya across Ė in last. I fell forward face down on the ground and tried not to bawl and further humiliate myself. I stayed there until a cool hand came to rest on my sweaty neck. "Donít worry, Love. Thereís always next year." Michiru helped me up and we headed towards the judgesí table, where the trophies were being handed out.
I watched glumly, but also a little bit proudly, as Setsuna and Hotaru were both given trophies. After all, they were my girls and in the end it was nice to see them succeed. They had managed to make second place due to their miraculous performance in the three-legged race, which was far more than even they had expected. "How did they do it?" I whispered to Michiru. "Have you ever seen Setsuna be athletic a day in her life?"
"No, but they had incredible teamwork. Something which youÖerÖmay have lacked."
Thatís for sure.
~*~ As we all sat down to eat, the embarrassment and shame of loosing so horribly and to Setsuna of all people was starting to ease. This was where that bonding time came into play, and I was determined to let nothing else spoil the day. I was even ready to be nice to Seiya, but she had disappeared somewhere. After lunch when Setsuna had taken off, Hotaru had gone to find Chibi-Usa, and Michiru had left to help clean up, I decided to find Seiya and apologize for being a poor sport. After all, Seiya had never really done anything to wrong us, even if she had flirted with Michiru that one time. Besides, I figured I really wouldnít have to worry about her being too much of a force in our lives.
I turned the corner behind the bathroom building and came upon Seiya. She was kissing someone. Startled, but relieved to see it wasnít Usagi, I figured it was none of my business. "Oh! Excuse me. Iíll just let you-" My mouth dropped open.
Seiya was kissing Setsuna.
Michiru caught up to me at that moment. Her eyes went wide. "Good heavens!"
It only took about thirty seconds for me to take up the chase, screaming threats all the way, and believe me, I was going fast enough to win any race.
* The Bradyís had Potato Sack races in their backyardÖI think.
** You know the game. You hold the orange between your chin and chest and the next person tries to take it from you using their own chin and chest.
Haruka is as stunned with this latest romantic development as you are, but for Setsunaís own good she decides to teach her everything she knows in a specially designed course: "The Haruka Tenoh Guide To Picking Up Girls".
See you then!
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