Nana's Return, Japan vs Egypt
The morning after the festival came fast. Keiko had received several calls and texts from her friends, but she had ignored all of them. At 11:00, Keiko and Nana departed the house and were on the train to Tokyo. By then, the reality of what happened last night had really sunk in: Kaname and Midori had returned, and Keiko and Saito broke up.
Friday June 18th;
"Keiko? Honey, are you okay?" Nana asked as the train approached Chōfu Station.
"I'm fine, Mama." Keiko replied glumly "Don't worry about me."
"I'm your mother, it's my job to worry. Look, I can see you're upset about your breakup with Saito-kun, but-"
"Don't mention that boy to me." Keiko interrupted as the train came to stop and the doors opened
"Chōfu Station. Please watch your step." said the conductor over the com.
"Let's go, we have a game to play." said Keiko as they got off the train
"This'll be fun." Nana thought glumly
Later in the Nadeshiko Locker rooms;
"Hey girls." said Keiko as they entered the locker rooms
"Keiko, nice timing." said Meiko "I was just about to bring out the plan for...." Meiko and everyone else, some of which weren't even finished changing, fell silent when they noticed Nana
"Wh-who are you?" Rin asked
"Ladies, meet my mom." said Keiko
"Your mom?" said Nanami
"I'm Nana, nice to meet you all." said Nana with a short bow
"What's your mother doing here?" Kotoko asked
"Didn't Ishiki-san tell you?" Keiko asked
"Tell us what?" Meiko asked
"Special surprise, girls." said Taeko, who just entered the room "As of today, Nana Aizawa is once again part of the Women's National Team!"
Everyone squealed in delight at having a legend on the team again.
"Nana's on the team again for the first time in sixteen years!?" Komi yelled in excitement
"It's a dream come true!" said Arimi
"Now now, I'm excited too." said Taeko "But we can't keep the Egyptians waiting. Nana-chan, you will start alongside Kotoko and Keiko as a Forward. Everyone finish changing and prepare for the game." Taeko left the room at that
Keiko and Nana got their uniforms out of their respective lockers. Their kits now had their first initial and their surname on the back. Nana's number was going to be 20.
"Keiko-chan, are you okay?" Meiko asked as Keiko changed
"I'm fine. Why?" Keiko inquired
"You just don't seem very excited or cheerful like usual. What happened? Breakup with a guy?" Keiko flinched "Ooh, I hit a nail on the head, didn't I?"
"Ahem! Please don't question my daughter." said Nana, already halfway through changing
"Uh, yeah. Sorry, Nana-sama."
"'-sama'? Drop the honorific, will ya please."
Later in the players' tunnel, both teams lined up ready to come out. The Nadeshiko Japan players wore their track jackets on top of their shirts. However, a few Egyptian players took a look at Nana although they didn't know for sure who she was.
"ولماذا تبدو وكأنها رأيت لها من قبل؟ [limadha la 'asheur 'annani qad ra'ayt laha min qibl?/Why does it feel like I've seen her before?]" said one of the Egyptian players
"ليس لدي فكرة، ولكن لدي هذا الانطباع نفسه. [lays laday fikrat, walikn laday hdha alaintibae nafsih./I have no idea, but I have that same impression.]" said another
"What are they mumbling?" asked Keiko
"I'm not sure, but they are looking at me." Nana replied
Finally, the referee gave the signal for both teams to take on the pitch. While the announcer named the starting lineups, Meiko came to Keiko with a thought about the upcoming Inter-High Finals.
"By the way, good luck for tomorrow in the Inter-High Finals." said Meiko
"Gee, thanks." Keiko responded dully
"Hey, captain." Kotoko whispered to Meiko "Doesn't Keiko-chan's face look a bit flushed?"
"Come to think of it, yeah." Meiko whispered back "Plus, when I touched her shoulder back in the locker room, she felt a bit warm. I think she might be fighting back a cold."
"I think you might already have seen it at home by now, ladies and gentlemen," the TV broadcaster said "Officially joining the team today is a player from the past and a last-minute change. It's the second coming of Nana Aizawa. She will be taking the field for the first time in sixteen years. Listen to the crowd when her name will be announced in just a moment."
"...Number 10 and your captain, Meiko Yamada. WELCOME BACK AFTER 16 YEARS! NUMBER 20, NANA AIZAWA!!!" the stadium announcer shouted with utter excitement
The crowd cheered louder than ever as Nana was shown on the stadium's big screen shortly after she took off her tracksuit, revealing her official return with Nadeshiko Japan to the eyes of the crowd.
"!نانا ايزاوا؟ نانا ايزاوا؟ [nana ayzau ? nana ayzau?!/Nana Aizawa? The Nana Aizawa?!]" One of Egypt's players said in disbelief
"!لا يمكن أن يكون [la ymkn 'an ykwn!/It can't be!]" said another
"I wish these foreigners would just learn our lingo." said Keiko
"Yeah, no kidding." said Nana "I can't understand Arabic at all either."
"This'll be quite the comeback match for Nana, who is now playing alongside her own daughter." said the announcer "And now.... it's time for the kickoff!"
Meiko and Kotoko kicked off. Meiko took the ball down into Egypt's half and passed four players, before being blocked. She passed the ball to Nana, who evaded most of the remaining players with ease, performing all sorts of tricky maneuvers only she could do, leaving most of the Egyptians in awe, before passing to Keiko just outside the Penalty Area. With the Keeper's attention focused on her, Keiko passed back to Nana, who put it past the Keeper with ease.
Barely 30 seconds in, it was 1-0 for Japan and the crowd erupted at Nana's first goal in 16 years.
"Mama, that was great!" said Keiko, giving her mother a high five
"You're everything we've heard and more." said Kotoko as they made their way back to center-field
"Don't exaggerate, girls." said Nana "But, man, it feels good to run on the field again after all this time."
"I'll bet." said Meiko before glimpsing at the sky "Look at those clouds. It looks like it'll rain soon."
"Rain would be a good thing after so long." said Nana
The match continued. Nana's presence on the field inspired the Nadeshiko players greatly. As a result, they were performing better than they'd had since Keiko first joined. Just 5 minutes after the first goal, the interplay between Keiko and Nana forced the Egyptians to clear the ball behind for a corner kick.
"I will take this corner kick. Keiko, you lure the defenders in front of the goalkeeper. Captain, use Keiko's run to dash towards the near post." Nana instructed
"OK, Mama." Keiko replied
"OK, Aizawa-san. Send your best kick in there." Meiko added.
After all players moved into position, the referee blew his whistle to play the corner kick on. Nana's kick was a sliced shot towards the front of the near post...
"Nana Aizawa with the corner... YAMADA'S HEADER! She found the gap, she exploited it, and Nadeshiko Japan have gone up by 2 in the first 6 minutes. And the whole stadium goes mad." said the commentator as the sold-out Ajinomoto Stadium was bouncing as the local side took a serious option on the match early on.
"Great pass, Aizawa-san!" said Meiko
"You deserve the praise with that powerful header." Nana replied while hugging Meiko in the celebrations
"Listen to the crowd, Mama. They are chanting your name." said Keiko before the only audible sound in the stadium was the fans praising Nana by chanting her name
Caught off guard by Nana's immaculate level of performance so far, the Egyptians tried to grab a goal back. However, Nadeshiko Japan upped their own ante by retrieving the ball every single time with high pressure of their own. In the 25th minute, Nadeshiko Japan retrieved the ball and started attacking again. Arimi ran some distance with the ball and then tried to send a through pass for Keiko, but the pass was blocked by a defender. Nevertheless, the ball went back to Nana, who instinctively chipped the ball above the Egyptian defenders and into Keiko's run.
"Keiko Aizawa... HAS DONE IT! 3-0 to Nadeshiko Japan!" said the commentator. "This time, it's the mother who feeds to the daughter with a sublime pass. Keiko Aizawa was onside and the ball came right in front of her. Then in mid-air, she tucked the ball with the outside of her right foot, above the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner of the net."
"Beautiful run, Keiko!" said Nana as she hugged her daughter in celebration
"That was a great poke with the outside of the foot, Keiko-chan!" said Kotoko
"Thanks! I'm really glad I could return you the favor, Mama."
"You're the natural striker, Keiko. Have a run when I can feed you with the ball." Nana replied
"Let's stick a few more goals in." Meiko galvanized her teammates
Despite being down by 3 goals, Egypt fought back with 2 goals. However, the Egyptians still couldn't shake the new Mother-Daughter double team between Keiko and Nana as the tandem came back to restore Japan's 3-goal lead twice, each time following a goal by Egypt. By the end of the first half, the score was 5-2 in Japan's favor.
"This is great, ladies!" said Taeko as they sat down for the halftime break "Nana-chan's return had really made a difference."
"I'll say." said Meiko "You saw those stunts she and Keiko-chan pulled off together. It was as if they were reading each other's mind."
"You flatter us." said Nana, she then looked at Keiko and saw that she had her face in her hands "Keiko? Are you alright?"
Keiko looked up and said "I'm just fine Mama."
"You don't look fine at all!" said Nana. She then felt Keiko's forehead "Great Amaterasu! You've been playing with this fever?!"
"A fever?!" said Kotoko "Keiko are you sick?"
"I'm fine!" Keiko said stubbornly
"No, you're not." said Nana "I don't know how you got this, but you can't play like this. Tae-san, we need to sub Keiko out for the second half."
"What?! No! Please, I can keep playing!"
Taeko looked from Nana, to Keiko, to the rest of the team, to the scoreboard "(sigh) I'll let Keiko continue." she said
"Coach!" said Rin
"But... if I sense that you're only getting worse, I'm subbing you out immediately. Capiche?"
"Yes. Arigato." said Keiko with a bow
"If that's what the coach says... alright everyone, back on the pitch." said Meiko
Those of the team that were playing followed Meiko back onto the field, but Nana hung back for a minute.
"That stubborn girl." said Nana
"Nana-chan, I'm sorry." said Taeko "I know she's your daughter, and I should've subbed her, but I just couldn't say 'no' to her."
"It's not your fault. She's trying to bear with that fever and play so she can forget."
"(sigh) She broke up with her boyfriend last night, and she's clearly trying to keep her mind off it using this game. I'll let your decision slide this time, but in the future, I expect that you make more rational decisions."
Nana rejoined the rest of the team on the field. Just as they were about to kickoff again, it started to rain.
"This might be a problem after all." said Kotoko as the ref signaled for the kickoff.
"Geez! I must have gotten this because I didn't dry myself properly last night." Keiko thought as she dribbled the ball down the Egyptian side of the field. All of a sudden, she found herself blocked by two Egyptian Mid-fielders.
".أنت لن تحصل بنا في الماضي ['ant ln tahsul bina fi almadi./You won't get past us.]" said one of the Mid-fielders
"I don't know what you're saying!" Keiko said in English before passing to Nana
"A terrible pass." Nana thought as she received the pass with difficulty "Her fever is starting to have an effect on her abilities, and this rain isn't helping."
Nana was right about the rain. It was coming down harder and harder, making the ball harder to move around, and affecting both teams. within ten minutes, everyone on both teams was soaked to the skin, and by the twentieth-minute mark, only Egypt had managed to score, making the score 5-3.
"Ten minutes left." said Meiko "We're still two goals ahead, no need to push it."
"Especially in this rain." said Kotoko "(ahchoo) I'm catching a cold."
"Bear with it." said Nana, who then noticed that Keiko, though she was trying to fight it, looked even worse than before. "That's it, I'm asking for...."
"Mama, no! I can still play!" said Keiko, who gave Nana one of her "looks"
"Keiko? No. Please, don't look at me like that." Nana thought, but Keiko just kept it up "Oh, alright."
"That stubborn girl!"
The game continued with Japan, despite what Meiko said, pushing hard. Then, just feet from the penalty area, Keiko received a pass from Nana, performed the "Phi trick" to get past an Egyptian Mid-fielder, and took the Keeper on herself. With just a few seconds left, Keiko feinted, and shot the ball around the Keeper. The final whistle was blown immediately after the restart.
PEEP PEEP PEEEEEEEEEEEEP
The final score was 6-3 for Japan.
"And that's it, folks!" said the commentator "Japan wins 6-3. And what great plays made by the mother-daughter duo Keiko and Nana Aizawa. Several players are shaking hands and bowing respectfully to each other."
Most of the players were now beginning to walk off the field and get out of the rain, but Keiko still hadn't moved from the spot where she had kicked the ball into the goal.
"انت ذاهب لمجرد الوقوف هناك؟ ['ant dhahib 'iilaa mjrd alwuquf hunak?/Are you going to just stand there?]" one of the Egyptian players asked, but Keiko didn't answer "مهلا، هل أنت بخير؟ [muhlaan, hal 'ant bikhayr?/Hey, are you okay?]" the player tried to put a hand on Keiko's shoulder, but the instant she did, Keiko's legs gave way and she fell to the ground.
"Keiko? Keiko!" Nana yelled running over to her daughter, followed by Taeko and the rest of team behind her
"Is your Forward all right?" The Egyptian Captain asked in English as Nana felt Keiko's forehead
"Her fever's worse than before!" said Nana "I gotta get her home, now!"
"My car will be faster than waiting for a train." said Taeko as she helped secure Keiko onto Nana's back
Within minutes, Keiko was in the backseat of Taeko's car. And a little over an hour later, Keiko was back home.
Six and a half hours later, Keiko awoke in her bed.
"Uuuuuhhhhh. W-where am I?" Keiko asked deliriously as she woke up. she turned her head and, though her vision was a bit cloudy at the moment, saw Chloe and Ryo sitting on Ryo's bed
"Bon retour, [Welcome back,] Sleeping Beauty." said Chloe
"That's not funny." Keiko then noticed that Shiro was sleeping on her stomach. She also felt that she was completely naked underneath her covers. "What happened? And where are my clothes?"
"When your game ended, due to being soaked by the rain, and not giving your body a rest, your fever got worse and you fainted as a result." said Ryo "We removed your soaked kit and put you in bed. You've been asleep for over six hours."
Keiko then noticed the alarm clock; it was 6:45 at night.
"What happened at the Semi-Finals?" Keiko asked, trying to sit up, causing Shiro to get off, but Chloe held her down and removed an electronic thermometer from between Keiko's armpit
"First of all, your fever has barely gone down at all, so don't you try to get up." said Chloe as she checked Keiko's temp.; 40°C "Second, we won, 5-4."
"That's good to hear. I didn't expect the final score to be so narrow though."
"I saw the match myself." said Ryo as Shiro lept onto her lap "Your absence really got the opponent going. Plus, not having you there seemed to cause our team to play a bit more cautiously than they really should've."
"One more thing." said Nana, who just walked into the room "Because your fever got so bad, you're gonna have to stay in bed for a few days. That means: no Finals for you, young lady."
"What!?" Keiko shouted, while sitting up. But the speed at which she did caused her head to spin
"You can't play in your condition." Nana told Keiko as she let out a couple of coughs
"Did I just hear Keiko's voice? Is she up?" Kakeru asked appearing in the doorway. Keiko pulled her covers over her bare breasts when she saw Kakeru, but not before Kakeru got a glimpse "The women in this house really are all the same size."
"Perv! Will you learn to knock?" said Nana, pushing Kakeru out of the room and closing the door
"But the door was open." Kakeru said from the other side of the door
"Anyway, as your mother, and I'm serious this time, I'm telling you to stay in bed. I'll be back with some food and medicine in a few minutes." Nana left the room at that
"Chloe?" said Keiko as Chloe made her lay down again
"You heard your mother, you can't play against Mizuho High School in the Finals tomorrow." said Chloe "I already mailed Mai to let the team know."
"Chloe, please! I have to play."
"No! I am not in the habit of taking sick people to an event they're in no condition to attend." Keiko gave Chloe the look she had given Nana earlier "No, don't look at me like that, please!" Keiko continued to stare "Oohh, somebody kick me."
"How does Kei-nee do it?" Ryo asked Shiro, who meowed in response