Inter-High Intermission, part 3
Midterms were over. It was now Saturday, with school just being half a day.
Saturday June 12th;
"That's all for today, class." Mai said as the bell rang "Members of the girls soccer team report to the Audio Visual room for a briefing of the upcoming.... what the...?"
The intercom had been turned on for some unknown reason, and the Enoshima Broadcasting club was broadcasting.
"Attention Enoshima High!" said Yukinari's voice over the intercom "Even though it's a couple days late, in celebration of the end of midterms, Kirie and I would like to announce the results of the popularity poll secretly done yesterday afternoon, and name the three most popular boys and girls at Enoshima High."
"You've got to be kidding me!" said Mai
"We'll start with the girls." said Kirie "In third place; is Chloe Lafayette, recent foreign transfer student."
The class applauded upon this announcement
"Thank you, thank you." said Chloe
"In second place;" Kirie continued "is Hinako Tsukahara, Student Council President." again the class applauded "And finally, in first place, taking the title of 'Most Popular Girl in School'.... Is Keiko Aizawa!"
"What?!" Keiko exclaimed as she received the loudest applause yet
"No surprise there." said Yuki, who was clapping with the rest of the class
"This isn't funny!"
After the three most popular boys were announced, the Girls Soccer team gathered in the AV Room for a briefing on their first opponent for the main tournament.
"Everyone here?" Mai asked
"Yes, we have everybody." said Suzuka
"Excellent. Now, as you're all aware, without any doubt, the main tournament begins on Monday. The drawings for the first round of teams was done yesterday. The result; our first opponent, will be Kamakura High."
The entire room broke out in mutterings following this announcement.
"Kamakura, right off the bat?!" Akane exclaimed
"You've gotta be kidding us." said Kotomi
"What are you all so worried about?" Nagisa asked "The boys would've had an issue, but those girls are pushovers. Last time we played them, we won 7-1."
"That was three years ago," said Mai "back when you were a second year, Okazaki." Nagisa went "hmph" and Mai continued "Various circumstances have prevented us from playing them for three years. As a result, this is a completely different team from the one our team faced back then. Their playing style has improved also. To explain better, we'll show you a video of the last game in the qualifiers, which was recorded by Saito. Saito, if you please."
"Yes coach." said Saito
Saito hooked up a video camera to a laptop, and the laptop to the projector, and played the footage. But, instead of soccer footage, what came up was a video of a young nude girl, with a gold necklace clearly visible around her neck, in between the legs of some pregnant woman about to give birth.
"Wait! Is that...?!" Keiko exclaimed, suddenly horrified at what she realized they were watching. It was age old footage of her helping Nana give birth to Koichi, back when she was six.
"Push, Mama." they heard the younger Keiko's voice say
"Keiko, is that you? Helping your mom in labor?" Amuro asked as they heard Nana's voice moan
"That is Kei-chan, I know her anywhere." said Yuki
"Keiko-chan's adorable!" said Kiyomi
"Stay back, Ro-Ro." the Keiko on screen said as a younger girl, no older than three, came into view
"Is that Ryo-chan?" Miki asked
"Turn it off, turn it off!" Keiko yelled
"I'm trying!" Saito exclaimed
"Out of the way!" Mai ordered Saito and turned the footage off herself, then giving Saito a cold look
"It was an accident, I swear!" Saito said pleadingly
"Why do you have that footage?" Keiko demanded angrily
"I borrowed the camera from your parents." Saito explained
"I thought I recognized this thing." said Mai "I'll return this to Kakeru later. Have a seat. I'll bring up the footage myself."
"Ro-Ro?" Chloe inquired to Keiko
"I was six, okay?" Keiko replied
Just then, Mai brought up the right footage. The one of Kamakura High's game.
When the video was over;
"You see now?" said Mai as she turned off the projector. Everyone in the room had stunned faces "The Kamakura girls team is not the same one they were the last time our team played them. They've fixed their maneuvers, hardened their defense and offense, and exploited weaknesses in their opponents' defense, all the while playing a clean game. As a result, all teams that played them in the qualifiers, including the one we just saw, suffered an embarrassing 8-0 defeat."
"I shouldn't have been so ignorant of the fact that the last team we played had graduated. Of course this would be a whole new team." said Nagisa
"You must be surprised, 'old girl'." said Tsukasa "But don't forget that we aren't the same team we were when you played them."
"To counter this," Mai continued as if there was no interruption "I've come up with an attack strategy that will exploit Kamakura's own weaknesses."
"What weaknesses?" Yukari asked "I couldn't see any weakness."
"I'll explain more at practice tomorrow, since we'll have the whole day. Now, I want you all to go home and get some rest. Dismissed."
The entire team got up from their seats and left the room.
"Suzuka, you free this afternoon?" Keiko asked
"Sure. I've got nothing planned." Suzuka replied as they left the room
"Then why don't you and Miki come with me, Yuki and Chloe to watch my brother's game?"
"Of course! I'd love to see Hiroki play."
"Excellent. We'll bring our Keepers along as well. Hiroki plays Keeper, and they could learn something from him."
"I'll have to bail." said Chloe "I just received a text from your father, asking me to come back to the house. There's someone who wants to talk to me."
"I think I know what this is about." said Yuki
"À plus tard. [See you later.]" said Chloe as she took off
"Oops!" Suzuka exclaimed
"What?" Keiko asked
"I left my bag in the AV room. I'll be right back."
Suzuka went back to the AV room and spotted her bag on the inside of the door, but before she grabbed it, she noticed Mai was still in the room, in conversation with Makoto, and couldn't help listening in.
"I thought my heart was gonna stop when I saw that footage of Keiko's childhood." said Mai "To think that this old video was brought here."
"What's the big deal?" Mako asked "I know it's embarrassing to Keiko, but it's just an old recording."
"That's not the issue! I was just worried that they, more specifically Keiko, would accidentally see something else if Saito-kun made another mistake."
"'Something else'? You mean like another memory that was recorded on that thing."
"Yes. More specifically, the night Keiko was born."
"Why's it a problem if she sees that?"
"If she knew what happened that night, it would terrify her."
"I don't understand."
"You weren't there, so of course you wouldn't."
"What happened that night?" Mako inquired curiously. Suzuka was curious as well
"Let's just say, she was lucky." Mai explained "That's why Kakerucchi and Nana-chan gave her the kanji meaning for 'lucky/blessed child' instead of 'Katsura child', like they originally intended."
"What happened that night?"
"She almost died! That's what happened!"
Suzuka let out a loud gasp that gave her away. When Mai and Mako noticed her, Suzuka grabbed her bag and ran for it.
"That's hardcore." Suzuka said to herself as she collapsed by the shoe lockers at the front entrance "I guess that's a good reason not to let her know. Keiko really is lucky. And so are we. We're lucky to have her with us."
Just then, Suzuka received a text from Mai "Don't tell Keiko. _(._.)_" the text said
"Like I would."
"Suzuka!" Keiko called from the gates "You coming to watch my brother's game or what?"
"Oh, yeah! I'm coming." Suzuka called back. Suzuka then changed her shoes and went with them to Kamakura Middle.
Later at the Middle School's field;
"It's been a while since we were last here." said Yuki as they looked for seats "Brings back memories."
"Not all of them pleasant ones." said Keiko
"Don't be such a spoilsport!" said Yuki "We're here to watch your little bro play."
"Why do we have to be here as well?" Amuro asked, referring to herself, Momoko and Kotomi "I understand that your brother's a Keeper, but what can we learn from a Middle Schooler?"
"You'll see." said Keiko
"Kei-nee! Yuki-nee! Over here!" Ryo called from the stands. With her were Noriko, Saki, Michiru, and her friends Rika and Hikaru.
"Great to see you girls here as well." said Yuki when they joined them
"Where are the Takeshitas?" Keiko asked
"They're still moping about losing in the first match." said Noriko
"But it wasn't anyone's fault." said Rika "You can't really blame anyone for a Penalty-Kick Shootout."
"A PK Shootout? That's how you lost?" Kotomi asked
"Yeah." said Hikaru
"But still," said Ryo "It was a miracle we even tied since our Keeper was so abysmal. She let in every goal that came at her. Only a few of our opponents missed."
"Don't remind me." said Noriko
"Speaking of Keepers, here's Hiroki-kun and the boys." said Saki as the two teams took their positions
"Now you get to see Hiroki in action." said Keiko, then noticed that Suzuka seemed to be in a daze "Hey. Suzuka!" Keiko snapped her fingers in front of Suzuka's face and pulled her out of her daze.
"Wha-what?" Suzuka asked coming out of her trance
"What's with you? The game's about to start and you've been in a daze since we left Enoshima."
"Sorry." Suzuka apologized. She had still been thinking about what the conversation he had heard back at school
"Is your captain always like this?" Noriko asked
"Can it!" Enoshima's keepers said in unison
"Where's Koichi-kun?" Yuki asked
"You know how that boy is." said Ryo
Just then, the game kicked off;
Kamakura Middle's opponent, Fugisawa Middle, went through their formation like it was only air. Their first chance came within second of the games opening.
"Look at that sloppiness." said Amuro
"This game'll be over before the first half is." said Momoko
"The game's just started," said Yuki as Fugisawa's Forward made his first attempt "Don't underestimate these boys."
Fugisawa's Forward shot, and it looked like Hiroki wasn't going to make it, but.... Hiroki caught the ball with almost apparent ease, leaving those who hadn't seen him play before in shock.
"That's my brother/man!" Ryo and Saki yelled in unison
"That shot," said Kotomi
"Could you have stopped that?" Momoko asked Amuro
"Not a chance." Amuro replied
"That's Hiroki for you." said Keiko
"He's got excellent eyesight, and probably the best natural perception you'll see for someone of his age." said Yuki "He's a superb keeper, and he never, and I mean never, falls for feints. Neither Kei-chan, Ryo-chan, nor I, could ever get a shot past him all these years."
"Saki-chan, you're drooling." said Michiru, and Saki hastily wiped it away as Hiroki kicked the ball back into play
The first half continued, and Kamakura managed to get back into its groove after that first hiccup. Fugisawa came at Hiroki numerous times, but Hiroki never let a single goal in. Sometimes blocking what seemed to be impossible shots. When the first half ended, Kamakura was leading 5-0
The first half whistle sounded;
"Your brother is amazing." said Amuro, thoroughly impressed by Hiroki's Keeping
"These boys are pretty good too." said Rika
"Yukihiko-kun is the best." said Hikaru with starry eyes just as Suzuka stood up
"Where you going?" Noriko inquired
"I need to stretch my legs." Suzuka replied then whispered to Keiko "I'm gonna go have a smoke."
Suzuka's mind was still on what she heard back at school and could barely focus on the game. She made her way to the rear side of the stands and took her cigarettes out of her bag. After popping one into her mouth, she tried to light it with her lighter, a newer version of the non-flame lighters that use batteries, but it wouldn't turn on. "Dead battery." Suzuka said to herself when she checked the power
"Friend in need?" said a bespectacled girl with a single braid down her back, holding a package of replacement batteries under Suzuka's nose. It was Hinako Tsukahara, the Student Council President. Suzuka, giving only an irritated look as a reply, snatched the new batteries out of her hand, replaced the dead one, and lit her cigarette. "You know, you really shouldn't smoke. Not only is it bad for you, you could also get in trouble. I know Murasaki-sensei knows, but it's only out of respect for you that I haven't told the principal."
"Get to the point, Hinako." Suzuka said in an irritated voice "What do you want here?"
"I can't enjoy a good game every now and then?" Hinako responded "Aizawa's brother is playing, isn't he?"
"Congratulations on getting second to Keiko as most popular girl in school." Suzuka told Hinako spitefully
"It's embarrassing. Who knew I was so popular?"
"You're not. At least not in the eyes of half the female student body, and more than a few clubs." Suzuka told her while flicking ash off her cigarette
"Well, not everyone is going to agree with me on everything. I guess that's why I finally have some free time."
"Don't you still have duties as President? Like banning clubs and teams from participating in tournaments?"
"You're still upset about that? I had to do what I had to do."
"It was Hamura who raped Keiko's sister." said Suzuka, her temper rising "You held the entire boy's team responsible for what a single player did!"
"He was only suspended for a month and evaded any legal charges. The Student Council and I couldn't let that slide."
"It wasn't fair! The boy's team had held the Summer National Title three years running, and you took that away from them!"
"It was only for the summer. They can still participate in the winter tournament. Which they've held for five years as I recall."
"That's no excuse!"
"Agreed." said a male voice in front of them. It was Takashi Hamura. "Yo."
"What are you doing here you, you... Lolicon Rapist!?" Suzuka demanded angrily
"Ooooh, quite a hot temper you got there." Takashi replied "My suspension ends on Monday, but before that, I thought I'd check and see how little Ryo Aizawa is doing."
"So you can rape her again?!"
"The thought did cross my mind. I still remember how good her insides felt."
"YOU..." Suzuka advanced toward Takashi in fury, but Hinako held her back
"Akitsuki! You have every right to be angry, but please control yourself." Hinako told Suzuka, then addressed Takashi "Why did you rape Aizawa's sister?"
"First; I'm a lolicon like Akitsuki says. I just dig younger girls. Second, and most importantly; to avenge my mother."
"Your mother?" Suzuka asked, confused
"It was to get back at the 'Little Witch' for what she did to her."
"I'm still confused." said Suzuka, as Hinako released her "I'm quite sure that Nana-san didn't have anything to do with your mother."
"It's like this. My mother was a soccer player too. She took a hiatus when she was pregnant with me, but after I was born, she still trained hard with her team everyday to one day play against the Little Witch, and beat her, to prove she was only human. But that chance was stolen away from her, when the Little Witch suddenly announced her early retirement. When she announced her pregnancy. Mom was beside herself with anger, so I decided to avenge her honor. I knew I had no chance of getting near the older one, so I settled on her younger daughter instead."
"You're a horrible person, you know that." said Hinako "I feel bad for your mother, but you still did a horrible thing. If I had my way, you would've been expelled."
"Well, the council can't have its way all the time." said Takashi, who took off without another word
"SONOFABITCH!" Suzuka yelled at Takashi's back
After Suzuka finished her smoke, she rejoined the girls in the stands.
"Where've you been?!" Noriko asked irritably when Suzuka rejoined them "The second half started five minutes ago."
"You okay?" Keiko asked when Suzuka sat down, noticing Suzuka's troubled look "You look upset about something."
"It's nothing. I'm fine." Suzuka said plainly, but Keiko and Yuki could both tell that she was not fine, but didn't press the matter "How are the boys doing?"
"Kamakura scored again within seconds of the kickoff." said Michiru "Here comes Fugisawa's first attempt at.... Oh, come on!" One of Kamakura's players had fouled, and the Ref called a Free-Kick
"So much for a clean game." said Noriko
"Don't say it like that!" said Saki "It was an accident."
"Don't be naïve. That's not what I was getting at."
"I saw it too. Look at the Fugisawa player that was fouled." said Yuki as the boys set up for the free-kick. The Fugisawa player that was fouled not only looked fine, he looked glad.
"He's grinning." said Rika
"Exactly." said Noriko "That foul was intentional."
"Fugisawa's getting desperate, so now they're gonna start playing dirty." said Ryo
"Disgraceful." said Suzuka "There's no point playing unless it's fair and square."
"Totally." Enoshima's Keepers chorused
The Free-Kick commenced. Fugisawa's kicker tried to feint and pull a Rabona, but Hiroki didn't fall for it and saved it with ease.
"Atta boy, Hiroki!" Keiko yelled
After that, Kamakura Middle didn't fall for anymore intentional fouls, and Hiroki never let in a single goal. The game went by quickly, and before they knew it, it was over.
PEEP PEEP PEEEEEEEEEEEEP
"And that's that." said Noriko
"7-0, these boys are amazing." said Kotomi
"Especially Hiroki-kun." said Amuro "He's four years younger than me, and he still pulled off saves even I could never make. You were right when you said we could learn from him."
"We told you." said Yuki
When Hiroki noticed their presence, he waved at them and Saki blew him a kiss, arousing sniggers from her peers.
On the way home;
Keiko, Ryo and Hiroki were walking home together after going separate ways with everyone else.
"That was a really great game." said Ryo
"You said that already." said Hiroki
"Amuro, Momoko and Kotomi asked you something before we parted ways." said Keiko "What did they ask you."
"My secret to my keeping." Hiroki told them simply
"What did you tell them?" Ryo inquired
"Be fully aware of the entire field, and the movements of every player. That's the best I could say."
"Come on!" said Ryo putting an arm around Hiroki's neck "There's gotta be more to it than that. Tell us, tell us!"
"If I talk to Ishiki-san, maybe we can get him a recommendation for Keeper of the Men's U-13 Team." Keiko thought as they arrived at home "We're home!" Keiko called when they walked in the door
"Welcome back." said Nana when they walked into the room, after removing their shoes "Just in time for dinner."
"Great! I'm starving!" said Hiroki as they sat down at the table
Keiko then noticed that Chloe, who was also sitting at the table, looked troubled "What's with you? You look pissed off about something."
"My family's lawyer came today. Apparently, Father has decided not to exclude me from the family." Chloe told them as Nana finished setting down the meal
"He wouldn't give any specifics. The best that can be said is that they'll relent up on trying to get me to return to France."
"Enough of the dreary talk." said Kakeru "How did Hiroki's match go?"
"A 7-0 shutout for Kamakura!" Keiko exclaimed with delight.
"Good going, Onii-chan!" said Koichi
"Please, don't make me blush." said Hiroki, but his face was red anyway
"I know Ryo's team has already been knocked out but. So how 'bout a toast to the success of Kamakura Middle and Enoshima High?" Nana suggested
"Hear, hear." said Chloe in agreement while raising her glass. Everyone else raised their glasses too, but before they could toast, the doorbell rang. "We weren't expecting anyone else today, were we?"
"No, we weren't." said Nana, putting her glass down and answering the door "Yes? How can I help you? The JFA? Come in, come in." They heard Nana say, and she returned to the room with a man behind her.
"Yukimura-san?" Kakeru inquired upon seeing the man
"A pleasure to see you again, Kakeru." said Yukimura
"Nana, Kids, this is Tatsuhiko Yukimura (龍彦 幸村)." Kakeru introduced "He's the director for Japan's National Youth Representative Teams."
"Now that you know who I am, straight to the point; I'm here about your eldest son. After a word from the director of Nadeshiko Japan, I saw his game today, and his opening one last Sunday. I was very, very impressed with his Keeping skills. Second to none, the best of any preteen I've seen in the last four years. So I'm here to offer him a place as the Keeper for the U-13 team."
"The U-13! For real?!" Keiko inquired in surprise
"M-me? W-w-with the Youth Representatives?!" Hiroki said flabbergasted
"Indeed." said Yukimura
"That's my boy!" said Kakeru, ruffling his son's hair
"It's merely an offering right now. I understand you're in the middle of a Middle School tournament, so you don't need to answer right this minute. Simply think about it in the meantime, and good luck. Now I best be going. You know my number, Kakeru. And Keiko-san."
"Y-yes?" Keiko inquired
"Good luck with the women's Inter-High. Good day all." Yukimura then gave a respectful bow and left
Everyone in the room agreed that this deserved another toast, now that another of the Aizawa children had been offered a place with the representatives.