The following morning, Keiko's fever had gone down, but not very much. Still, she was determined to play in the Final match of the tournament, which would decide which school would represent Kanagawa Prefecture at nationals in July. They had also called on Yuki to help Keiko sneak out of the house to play. The plan was to distract Nana and Kakeru with a pair of phone calls from inside the house by blocking Caller ID, and sneak out of the house just before the match was about to start, and be there in time for the second half.
Saturday June 19th;
"I'm sorry about this." said Keiko as they prepared for the departure in Keiko's room
"Don't worry about it." said Yuki "This is what friends are for."
"I'm also sorry for the way I treated you the other night."
"You've apologized to me enough. I already forgave you."
"Alright you two," Chloe said to Ryo and Hiroki "you know what to do?"
"We're at your service." said Hiroki with a deeper voice than usual
"Make sure Kei-nee get's to play." said Ryo with a higher voice than usual
"You two could take up a career in Voice Acting." said Yuki "You sure you're up for this? Your fever is still pretty high."
"We'll find out." said Keiko
"Ce plan est parfait! [This plan is perfect!]" said Chloe with an OK sign
"Japanese, girl. Japanese."
"It's time." said Yuki, and Hiroki went back to his room to make the call
The plan worked so far. Kakeru and Nana answered Hiroki and Ryo's calls despite no Caller ID, and Yuki and Chloe helped Keiko, who still had a bit trouble walking, sneak down to the front door.
"Alright, take it slow." said Yuki as Keiko slipped on her shoes
The three of them then went for the door, but Keiko stumbled and knocked over the umbrella stand, which didn't go unnoticed
"What was that?" Nana asked aloud. She then abandoned her phone and appeared in the hallway "Honestly, you girls."
"Mama... please... I gotta...." Keiko panted
"You gotta nothing." said Nana grabbing Keiko's arm "You're in no condition to play. You're going back to bed."
"Nana-san, please." said Yuki
"Stay out of this, Yuki-chan. Don't you have a match to get to?"
Just then, Koichi burst through the front door.
"Ishiki-san's here with the car!" said Koichi
Acting on impulse, Yuki and Chloe yanked Keiko out of Nana's grip and ran for it. Nana tried to stop them but suddenly found herself held back by Hiroki and Ryo.
"Go go go!" the pair of them shouted
"What's going on here?" Kakeru, who just appeared, asked
"Strap yourselves in you three." said Taeko when the three of them were in the back seat of her car "Sorry about this, Nana-chan, Kakeru-kun!" Taeko called back as they took off
"That girl!" Nana said furiously as Hiroki and Ryo released her, both her fists clenched tightly
"Did Keiko just... escape?" Kakeru asked
"Our eldest... is just like you!"
In Taeko's car on the way to Kamakura station
"That was a little fast of us. Are you okay, Keiko?" Chloe asked
"I.... I'm... I'm okay." Keiko panted "But... after this... I'm sooo grounded."
"Even I think you should've stayed in bed." said Taeko "What possessed me to help you with this, I'll never know."
"Maybe you really want to see Kei-chan win her first Inter-High with her team." said Yuki
"That's gotta be it." Taeko admitted
"By the way," said Chloe "I've been curious about something you said the other night, Yuki."
"Is this really the time to discuss it?" Yuki asked
"(sigh) What is it?"
"You seem to be willing to do anything for Keiko, and the other night you said you were 'like sisters in more ways than one'. What did you mean by that?"
"Go ahead... and tell her." said Keiko through heavy breathing "I don't care... that his point."
"Alright." Yuki replied "It's like this; Kei-chan and I are, ahem, Blood Sisters."
"'Blood Sisters'?" Taeko inquired "What, are you actually half-sisters or something?"
"Hell no!" Yuki and Keiko said together
"We're not related by blood or marriage." Yuki continued "Kei-chan and I have known each other since we were in Kindergarten. We've been through a lot together. Now here's where the 'blood sister' thing come in. Five years ago, I was in an accident and lost a lot of blood. I needed a transfusion to avoid becoming Brain Dead, but I'm type A+, and there wasn't any compatible blood in the hospital at the time. Then, Kei-chan came in and volunteered to have her blood transfused into me, and it was a success."
"Keiko's compatible with you?" Chloe inquired
"Kei-chan's type O, so she's compatible with anybody." said Yuki
"So that's what you meant." said Taeko "She gave you her blood, that makes you blood sisters."
Minutes later they had arrived at Kamakura Station and boarded a train. They had to switch trains twice before arriving at Musashi-Kosugi Station, Kawasaki, near where Todoroki Stadium was located. Nevertheless, they managed to arrive in time for the second half.
"This is getting out of hand!" said Mai as the team sat down for the halftime break "The first half is over and we're losing 3-6."
"We're sorry, Coach." most of the team chorused
"No need to apologize."
"If only Keiko were here." said Miho
"Forget that." said Suzuka "She's too sick to play today."
"I blame you." Miki said to Saito
"What did I do?!" Saito replied
"Come to think of it, why aren't Yuki and Chloe here either." said Tsukasa
"They're probably keeping Keiko company." said Suzuka
"Think again." said Yuki, appearing behind them supporting Keiko with Chloe's help. All three of them had already changed into their kits
"What are you three doing here? Keiko, you should be home in bed." said Mai
"I just... couldn't... lay there... and do nothing." Keiko panted, breaking free of Yuki and Chloe's grips "Please... let me play... in the second half. Please." Keiko bowed as low as her waist would permit. Yuki and Chloe did the same.
"Now, you three, be reasonable." said Amuro "Keiko-chan's in no condition to play."
"Yeah. It's only gonna make her worse." said Nagisa
"Please, let her play." said Yuki
"I promised Suzuka-senpai that we'd lead our team to victory this year." said Keiko "Please, let me play."
"Nothing any of us say is gonna change her mind. She's just like Kakerucchi." Mai thought "Alright." said Mai, catching everyone by surprise "But, we're three goals down right now. If you're more of a hindrance than help, I'm pulling you out."
"Arigato!" the three of them chorused, lifting themselves up again
"In that case, have some cold water first." said Yuzuki, handing Keiko a cold water bottle
"Is this even a good idea?" Suzuka asked Mai "Keiko doesn't look like she can run for five minutes."
"I don't really know. But you really shouldn't underestimate her." said Mai "Besides, you heard her. Not only does she really wants to play, she want's to keep a promise to you."
"I want to keep it too, but not at the expense of her health."
"Nevertheless, she the type of player who'd continue on even if they were about to die. She's just like her father."
"I'll take your word for it."
On the field after the break;
"It's time for the second half of the Women's Inter-High Final match, between Enoshima and Mizuho High School." said Yukinari "The conclusion of this match will decide who will represent Kanagawa at the Nationals next month."
"Enoshima as made a slight change in lineup." said Kirie "In the midfield, in place of Akane Saotome is Yuki Nonomiya. In forward's position, Schiko Komatsu is out for, Enoshima's star player, Keiko Aizawa. Oddly though, we had received a report that Aizawa was too sick to play today. She must be feeling better."
"Are you kidding me?!" Suzuka thought furiously, as Mizuho prepared to kick off "Keiko looks like she's about to collapse! This won't end well." Mizuho kicked off, but then, Keiko burst forward and stole the ball with ease, as if she wasn't sick at all "How did she do that?" Suzuka thought as she chased after Keiko "A second ago she looked like her legs were gonna give way. Where's she getting that energy from?"
On the bench;
"Where's Keiko getting that energy?" Asuka asked as Keiko passed to Yukari "Isn't she supposed to be sick?"
"She is." said Mai "You saw how she was when she came in. Plus, I can see from here that she's sweating more than anyone else, and it's not just because of the heat were playing in. It's taking everything she has to keep this up."
"It is rather hot today." said Momoko
"That's Keiko for you." said Nana, who just popped up at the bench with Kakeru and the kids, her hands on Koichi's shoulders
"N-Na-Nana-chan!?" said Mai, as Suzuka scored past the Keeper on a pass by Keiko, making the score 4-6 "When did you get here?"
"About a minute ago. Like we were gonna miss this."
"Besides, we need to have a few words with those three girls for what they did this morning." said Kakeru, his eyes on Chloe, who made an apologetic prayer sign, and his hands on Hiroki and Ryo's shoulders. Chloe and the kids were looking pretty timid.
"I got a bad chill, even though it's so hot." said Yui to Sachiko
"Their daughter broke out of the house to play even though she was sick." said Sachiko "What can you expect them to be like at the moment?"
On the field;
"Looks like your folks are here." Tsukasa said to Keiko, who noticed her family's presence
"I expect they're angry with me." said Keiko "But if I hadn't come, I would've regretted it."
"That's how most parents are." said Suzuka as they prepared the for the next kickoff "In the state you're in, we can't hope for an outright win. We'll have to try and tie, then go for a PK Shootout."
"Now you're talkin' my language." said Yukari
"Pretty confident with Penalty Kicks, aren't you. Alright, let's go!" said Keiko
Keiko's appearance on the field really motivated the team. Within the next fifteen minutes, Enoshima scored again, making it a one goal difference. However, Keiko's fever was starting to effect her again, and she was forced to go slower to conserve her strength. Finally, it was three minutes left, and Enoshima was still one goal behind.
"Come on, girls!" Suzuka shouted to her fellow offensive players "One more goal!" Suzuka noticed Keiko was closest to the goal and kicked to her.
Keiko kicked the ball straight to the goal. The Keeper missed the diving save, but the ball didn't go in either. It hit the crossbar, and went to the other side of the field half. But then, Miki appeared out of nowhere and swept the ball into the goal, tying the score at the very last second. By the time the play restarted, the referee blew the full time whistle.
PEEP PEEP PEEEEEEEEEEEEP
"And the game ends in a tie folks." said Yukinari
"With this, we'll go into Penalty Kicks to decide the tournament." said Kirie
On the bench;
"Good going, girls." said Mai
"Thanks, Coach." the team chorused
"You did pretty good too, Keiko." said Nana as Suzuka and Yuki set Keiko on the bench
"Mama... Papa... I'm sorry... I disobeyed you." Keiko panted as Saito felt her forehead. Keiko felt herself blush, and her heart skip a beat, as a result.
"Doesn't seem your fever got too bad out there." said Saito as Keiko swatted his hand away
"Why did my heart skip a beat just now?" Keiko asked herself in thought
"Keiko, please know that I can't let you participate in the PK Shootout." said Suzuka
"I doubt I could pull it off anyway."
"In the event your team wins, we'll let you stay for the award ceremony." said Nana "But we're taking you to the hospital to get checked out after this is over."
"Another thing." said Kakeru
"Win or lose, you five are soooo grounded."
"Uh, five?" Chloe inquired, and Kakeru and Nana gave her a look that told her that, as she lived in the house too, she was to be punished for what happened this morning as well "Right."
The Penalty kicks started with Enoshima, with Suzuka kicking first, and she put it past the Keeper with ease. Amuro missed only one out of the five kicks Mizuho gave her. Enoshima only missed once, and finally, this shootout ended with the score 4-3 for Enoshima, making Enoshima the winner for the tournament, and securing their place at Nationals.
As promised, Kakeru and Nana allowed Keiko to stay for the award ceremony. Even better, and though Keiko had to sit down do to her fever, Keiko held the trophy with Suzuka as the commemoration photo was taken. Then, Keiko was taken to the hospital.
Later at Kamakura Central Hospital;
"With her condition this bad, it is sheer luck that this didn't turn into pneumonia." said the Doctor after Keiko was finished with her medical examinations. Keiko was now lying in a hospital bed, wearing a patient's robe and everything. "We'll have to keep her overnight, but Keiko-chan can go home tomorrow. After that, strict bed rest for a few days."
"Thank you, Yomako-sensei." said Kakeru
"Yes, Yomako-sensei?" said Keiko
"Congratulations on winning Inter-high." Yomako-sensei left the room at that
"Please don't do this again, Keiko." said Nana "Have a little more consideration for your health."
"Again, I'm sorry I disobeyed you." said Keiko "But... we won."
Nana and Kakeru looked at each other, then Nana looked back at Keiko "Well... even we can't say we're not happy for you, so... (sigh) we'll let it slide this time."
"Does that go for us and Chloe-san as well?" Ryo asked
"Yes, it goes for you four too. Just don't do this again." said Kakeru, and Ryo and the boys breathed a sigh of relief "You know, Keiko, I kinda expected this stunt from you. You really are our daughter."
"You're stubborn as a mule."
"Alright, kids, let's leave your big sister alone to rest." said Nana through a giggle, and the five of them left the room
Keiko was about to try to go the sleep when she heard voices from the other side of the closed door, and she recognized them as those from the team, alongside her parents' voices. She sat up and tried to catch every word.
"Now girls, you must leave Keiko alone to rest." said Nana
"We really wanted to give her a few back pats." said Yuzuki's voice
"Another thing," said Tsukasa's voice "Since she's easily our best player, which she proved even further today, we're thinking of giving her the number 10 jersey for the Winter Season."
"We've also come up with a few formations with her as the key player." said Yukari
"The 'key player?' You mean she'd be the center of everything?" Koichi asked
"Something like that, yeah." said Miho "A player like her is an asset to any team, and therefore must be given the best position."
Keiko could hardly believe what she was hearing. They wanted to make her the center of the team. It was if they were treating her like a one-girl-team. The very thought of this was upsetting her, and she couldn't stop herself from shedding tears. She put her face in her knees and thought "I can't do this anymore."