Go for the Gold V-Sana and the Ball
The curio shop's picture window was Sana's television. Dozens of people would wander by. Some would stop and peer through the window. A precious few would come in, and still fewer may buy something.
She wished her father had placed his store in the mall when he had the chance. But money was tight, and her mom was gone. She did not even get to graduate last year.
She played absentmindedly with a rubber ball. Back in school, she used a similar ball in the gymnastics meets. She would throw it up, spin around, and catch it. People would cheer. Sometimes she would do that in the empty store. There would be no cheering; just her dad, warning her not to break anything.

Ami was not at her seat that morning. Ms. Kudo addressed the class. "Ami will not be here today. She was involved in an accident in our parking lot. There are questions that the police are trying to get answers for; please cooperate if you can."
Player looked over at Kotomi. She looked sad but not surprised. He was- he had never bothered to call or text Ami after she left them. As if he was not already feeling badly about himself.
His eyes drifted over to Tomoko, who looked...perfect. Her demeanor masked perfectly any concern she may have had for her classmate; it also hid any sign of being tired or drunk from last night. 
At the end of class, Tomoko passed by Kotomi. "I'm in. See you at practice."

"Is this it?"
Tomoko looked at Kotomi, her coach, and Player.
"We're trying to get more people interested," the sensei volunteered. 
"Nobody will show."
"What? Why?" Kotomi exclaimed.
"Haven't you heard?" Tomoko pulled her rope out. "There's a rumor going around that the team is cursed. Sign up for gymnastics, and expect trouble. What happened to Ami didn't exactly help."
"So why are you here?" Player asked.
"Because, study buddy, I keep my word. But nobody else in Fukoma High is coming. Oh, and one more thing." 
She turned to the stands. Junta was the sole figure, high up in the corner. She picked up the ball and headed right toward him. When she got close enough, she threw it at him. Junta scrambled away and left the gym.
The coach was mad. "Tomoko!"
"Don't you know who that is? When he leaves here everyday, he goes straight across town to Mako Iwasaki. He was at Sakura High last week when Ryuji swam against them. Sitting on their side with her. Kotomi, there isn't a move you've done that she doesn't already know about."
Kotomi was stunned. She thought it was creepy that he was always up there, but up until now, she never knew why. And Mako? It was bad enough having to compete with her. But now Mako had people spying on her? She now had another reason to hate her.

"So what can you do?" Player asked.
Tomoko stepped down from the stands into the mat. She picked up her rope, and performed a few moves.
Kotomi had to admit she was pretty good. "How about the other apparatuses?"
"I know rope. I'd be faking anything else."
"First meet is tomorrow. It's just Sakura High against us." The coach nodded at Tomoko. "We"ll see if we can get rope as the third apparatus to give Kotomi a breather. Be here as early as you can tomorrow."

After practice, Kotomi got a text from Ami that she was out of the hospital. She thought it might be nice for her and Player to drop by her house. But where was Player?



Tomoko came out of the locker room dressed to the nines. Little black dress. High heels. Stockings. Pearls. Hair in a bun, with a butterfly device keeping it together. She walked up to a dumbfounded Player and took his arm. "You are not going to Kobe looking like that."They went to the mall, straight to the formal men's shop that Player usually avoided. Tomoko worked quickly, finding him a suit, tie, shirt, socks, and shoes. He had to admit she was good at choosing what looked good on him. She undid his attempt at tie tying and retied it. She turned him to the mirror and leaned close."There. More charming than when we walked in. Don't you think?"He nodded."Great. Pay the man. Tonight this is a rental - you can get attached to better clothes later."
Soon after they arrived at the restaurant and sat down, Player read Kotomi's text. WHERE R U. He tried to bang out a reply, his hands under the table. To his horror, he realized that he forwarded Tomoko's text from the day before. AT PUB GET HERE NOW He went to send another.
"Ahem." The waiter and Tomoko were staring at him. 
"There's a no phones policy here, Player." She held her hand out. "It's not usually enforced unless it's painfully obvious."
Player handed her his phone.
"If you'd like something to read, try this." The waiter handed Player a menu full of the highest prices he'd ever seen for food.
Tomoko smiled sweetly at the waiter. "So, what do serve on special occasions?"

Kotomi entered the pub slowly. Just the same, she seemed to attract attention from everyone. A drunken man approached her.
"Another cheerleader?" He slurred. "Show us your tits!"
He reached for her neckline and pulled down. Her shirt gave way, but her sports bra did not.
"Leave her alone!" A red haired woman appeared and dragged her away.
"Where are we going?" Kotomi asked.
"Safety." They entered a back room. The woman motioned for Kotomi to sit down on a table. "Do you have another shirt?"
"No."
"There's a sewing kit here. Or there's some tshirts. Take that off and I'll trade you."
The tshirt smelled. Kotomi took off her shirt anyway; as she did, her phone fell out. She flipped to Player's picture. "Have you seen this boy?"
The woman burst out laughing. "Have I?"
She showed Kotomi a couple of pics from her phone. When Kotomi saw Player helping a naked Tomoko off the bar, she lost it.

The woman reached for a tissue box. "Time to give you Akage's heartache cure."
As Kotomi dried her tears, Akage handed her some sake. She also produced what appeared to be an egg and placed it in Kotomi's lap.
"Here's how this works. Tell me everything you know about this man. Good and bad. Every detail. You stop talking, you must drink. When the egg hatches you can take a break."
Everything? "His name is Player. His hair is kind of spiky..."

The sake was warming Kotomi up. Her mind was racing as she tried to keep talking. The egg in her lap was moving, so maybe something was trying to hatch.
Akage saw her squirm a bit. "Don't break my little egg!" She placed her hand on the egg, which moved even more. What's more, the egg was now right over Kotomi's secret spot.
Akage held the egg down for a few moments. With her free hand, she stroked Kotomi's hair. "Almost ready. Now we need someplace warm."
Kotomi felt the egg slide down her panties. She gasped as it stopped right on her clit.
"Three more questions. Is your man strong?"
"Oh. Yes. YES."
"Is he kind?"
"UH HUH." 
"Does he kiss you like this?" With her free hand, Akage moved Kotomi's bra aside and kissed her breast. Above her, Kotomi squealed as wave after wave of good feelings came over her.

Kotomi suddenly felt vulnerable. She straightened her bra and fished the egg from her pants. Only now she knew what it was. "Oh, no! What have I done?"
"You've had sex with a woman. Same as he did." Akage found a blanket and put it over her. "Rest now. Later you go home. Go someplace the two of you have never been together. Forgive him and ask him to forgive you. Start over. Now take a nap. You get a bit more sober, I'll get you home."

Kotomi awoke to see two women standing by her. Next to Akage was a blonde woman holding a fancy white lace shirt. 
Kotomi  recognized her. "Sana?"
"I called her after you fell asleep. You said you needed people for your team."
Sana gave Kotomi the shirt. "I didn't compete senior year because I dropped out. Father says I can start school Monday if that will help."
"Absolutely." Kotomi donned the shirt quickly. "We have a meet against Sakura tomorrow. Come by and talk to Sensei."
They embraced.
Akage dangled Kotomi's car keys. "Time to go home. You have a man to talk to."