At What Cost Victory Chapter IV: Batting Cleanup
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 Primero 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 Primero 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, Primero 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, Primero." She held her hand out. "It's not usually enforced unless it's painfully obvious. If you'd like something to read, try this."

The waiter handed Primero 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?"


Mako shook her head, as the dumbfounded Ryuuji stared into the window of the restaurant.


"But, how? Why? Wha...?"
The largest, most muscle bound guy in school was a bumbling mess.


"Told ya." She took that as the opportunity to grab his phone.
Quickly, she typed her contact information.
"Here you go, G."
She handed the phone back to him.
"I'll check on you in a few hours. I have some errands to run."



Kotomi had no luck trying to get people to rejoin the team. But people kept telling her that the team's misfortune was due to a curse. Nobody wanted to tell her what the curse was; they just cut her off when she asked if they wanted to join her team. The injured girls did not want to return for the same reason.
She remembered there was a goth girl that had tried out last year, the same time she did. Blonde girl from America.
She called Ami.


"That American girl who was in our school last year. Is she still around?"


"Who, Sana?"


"Sounds right."


"She dropped out. Works at this weird store at the end of town."


"Do you know where?"


"No, but I can ask around."


Dead end.
"Can I come by?"


"Sure, nobody's at the restaurant but me and the cleaning lady."


Amy's family restaurant was one of Kotomi's favorite places. But it almost lost all its clientele when somebody accused them of being the front to a child trafficking ring. It made all the papers, even overseas. Her father countered by having a free food day, with tours of the kitchen. Few came, but the regulars were starting to return.

The cleaning girl looked familiar. It only took Kotomi a minute to make the connection, as there were few blue haired girls in town.


"Karin?"


The cleaner looked a bit embarrassed.

"Hi, Kotomi."


Kotomi hugged her anyway.


"Where have you been?"


"Working when I can. I dropped out."


"I heard. Why?"


"A number of things. I just always felt out of place."


"And now you work here?"


"Just started, "Ami volunteered. "Everybody else left when the news crews came."


Kotomi turned to Ami.
"Could you take her broom for a minute? I want to check something."


"Oh, OK."


Kotomi went over the counter and grabbed two ornamental clubs that hung on the bar behind the register.
"Can you still use these?"


"Why yes, but I'm not on school."


"Yet."
Kotomi looked into Karin's eyes.
"Girl, we need you. Show me what you can do."