Keiko was released from the hospital the day after the Finals. This time, she stayed in bed and managed to recover at a remarkable pace. By Wednesday she had fully recovered and was able to return to school.
Wednesday June 23rd;
"Keiko Aizawa is back and fully recovered." Keiko announced to the class when she returned to school that day "Sorry to have worried everyone."
The class gave Keiko an applause as she took her seat. Several also said "Congratulations in the Finals!"
"Hey, Keiko-chan, if you were coming back today, why weren't you at today's meeting?" Saito asked
"Just leave me alone, Saito."
The other girls on the team looked at Chloe
"Don't look at me. All she told me was that she'd be coming later." Chloe told them
"Now now, everyone settle down." said Mai "It's time to begin homeroom."
At lunch later;
"Looks like Saito-kun is eating with the guys instead of us like usual." said Miho as she, Yuki, Keiko, Yuzuki and Chloe ate lunch together "You two really broke up, didn't you?"
"Yeah, we did." Keiko replied dully
"Great news, girls." said Yuki, trying to change the subject "I got a job yesterday."
"That's great, Yuki." said Keiko
"And it fits my heritage ever so well."
"That's right, you're Arab as I recall." said Chloe
"You are?" Miho inquired
"Half. By my father." said Yuki
"What kinda job is it?" Yuzuki inquired
"A recommendation from Tsukasa-senpai. Belly Dancing in a popular Japanese-Indian establishment called Tenjiku."
"You mean that still-popular dancing style that originated in Egypt and the Middle East?" said Miho "And 'Japanese-Indian'? I thought you just said you were Japanese-Arab."
"I am, but belly dancing is popular in India as well."
"You can dance?" said Chloe "And Belly Dancing, of all things."
".كما لو كنت تعرف أي شيء عن ذلك [kama law kunt taerif shayyaan ean dhlk./As if you know anything about it.]" said Yuki in Arabic, catching everyone but Keiko off guard
"You can speak Arabic?!" said Miho
"Taught by my parents years ago. Dad was native speaker, and mom knew the language as well. They taught me for a few years, then I began teaching myself after...." Yuki stopped talking at this and continued on her lunch
"After what?" Chloe inquired
"I dwon' wanwa twalk abwout wit." said Yuki through a mouthful of food
Just then, the classroom's rear door burst open, and in the frame stood Suzuka.
"Keiko Aizawa!" Suzuka shouted as she burst into class 1-C, a clear look of angry confusion on her face "What is this?" Suzuka held an envelope in front of Keiko. The envelope read " 辞任の届出 [Jinin no todokede/Notification of resignation]"
"Exactly what it looks like." Keiko replied as the whole class listened attentively
"I know you just recovered, so I didn't think anything of you not coming to this morning's meeting; but when I looked in my desk during homeroom, what did I find? What is the meaning of this?"
"Do I have to spell it out for you? I'm quitting the team!"
The entire class gasped at this declaration.
"K-Kei-chan?! W-why?" said Yuki
"Yeah, we just won Inter-High." said Yuzuki "We're going to Nationals, why are you leaving us?"
"Eh, let me see, uh, because of all of you." said Keiko
"Us?" Suzuka inquired "What did we do?"
"I heard what some of you said outside my hospital room after the Finals. You know, how you planned to make me the 'center of the team'."
"You heard us?" said Miho
"I did! I couldn't take that."
"Shouldn't you be glad?" said Suzuka "We're giving you a great position; why aren't you happy about that? Your father or your mother would jump at that opportunity, so we assumed you would too. Can't you be more like them and...."
"STOP SAYING THAT!" Keiko shouted she backed herself against the window "That's all I ever hear! 'I'm just like my father' or 'I'm just like my mother,' well it may have escaped your notice, so let me enlighten you; I'M NOT MY FATHER OR MY MOTHER!"
"Keiko," said Suzuka "It's not that we think of you as one of your parents, it's that you're the best player out of all of us on the team."
"And I'm sick of hearing that too!"
"Kei-chan, please calm down." said Yuki
"Shaddup, Yuki!" said Keiko, she then turned back to Suzuka "It's been like this since the beginning of the year. Because I'm the daughter of two great soccer players, everyone thinks and treats me like I'm something special, like I'm the only one on the team with any real skill. Everyone sells themselves short and relies solely on me, that's why we almost lost the Finals. Now you want to lay a position with more responsibility that I can possibly handle on me?" Keiko felt herself slide down the wall as she spoke "With ensuring my siblings are safe and my new career with Nadeshiko Japan, just how much more responsibility am a I supposed to take?" Keiko was now on the floor and started crying "It isn't fair! What do you want from me? I'm only fifteen; I'm just a kid."
Seeing Keiko like this, and with the whole class and several members of the team watching, Suzuka couldn't say anything back.
Later that night;
Suzuka was lying on her bed in her apartment wearing only a pair of panties, clearly depressed.
"I'm so disgusted with myself I could puke." Suzuka said out loud
"Give it a rest." said the older girl reading a magazine on the chabudai. It was Suzuka's elder sister, Hibiki Akitsuki (ひびき 秋月). Hibiki, who was a Keiso University student, had been freeloading in Suzuka's apartment for the past week.
"I can't, Sis. Because of my ignorance, I just lost two of my best players, and our manager."
"Two players and the manager?"
"Yuki said that if Keiko's not gonna be on the team anymore, there's no reason for her to stay. And Saito-kun only joined the team to be near Keiko. The team and I expected too much of Keiko and didn't realize it. She and Yuki have every right to be angry with us. Not to mention a third of the student body has turned against us for the way we treated Keiko. I'm a complete failure as a captain."
"No, you're not, little sister." said Hibiki, closing the magazine and laying on Suzuka's bed with her "You just made a mistake."
"Yeah, a big mistake." Suzuka replied "I got too excited at having the daughter of two great soccer players on my team; I spoiled her, and grew ignorant of her feelings. When I saw her resignation letter, I thought she was just being irresponsible for quitting so soon after winning Inter-High. But that wasn't the case at all."
"It isn't easy being a leader. You learn tough lessons, every single day. So don't beat yourself up; and, for whatever it's worth, go apologize to her, as many times as it takes."
"You always know what to say. I wish Mom did."
Meanwhile at the Aizawa house, Keiko, as per her usual habit, was taking a bath to ease her depressed state
"You okay?" Nana asked, coming in on Keiko's bath
"Go away, Mama." Keiko replied, but Nana just closed the door and put her towel on a rack
"Are you sure about this? Quitting the team I mean." Nana asked as she got in the tub with Keiko
"Yuki and Chloe told you my reasons, didn't they? Don't worry, I'm not gonna be so irresponsible as to quit Nadeshiko Japan after I begged you to rejoin."
"That's not what I was getting at. Are you sure you won't have any regrets?"
"Look, Mama, (sigh) my head's a mess right now. What I really need is some time to cool off."
"When I was your age, I needed more cooling off periods than I wanna admit."
At a family restaurant in town, Kakeru was having a little heart to heart with Saito.
"So I hear you stopped being the manager after Keiko quit today." said Kakeru
"Call me a stalker, go ahead, but the only reason I enrolled in Enoshima, and became the manager of the girls team, was to get close to Keiko." Saito admitted
"I was that age too." said Kakeru while taking a sip of coffee "So tell me something else; why did you let Keiko go so easily when she dumped you?"
"Call me a wuss, but as a man, I had to respect her feelings; even if her real feelings for me were as if I was nothing more than a cockroach."
"I really doubt that's how she really feels. Sounds more like she trying to convince herself of that rather than facing her own heart." Kakeru thought
"And another thing, Aizawa-san..."
"'Dad'." Kakeru interrupted
"Excuse me?" Saito inquired
"I've always approved of you being Keiko's boyfriend; and, since you don't have a father, and I think of you as one of my sons, you can call me 'dad'."
"Alright..., Dad, since Keiko-chan doesn't want to be near me, I was thinking of changing schools. Could you tell her that for me, Dad?"
"Changing schools? Why?" Kakeru inquired
"For Keiko-chan. After hearing everything she said this morning, if it will give her peace of mind, I'll distance myself from her." Saito explained
"Why are you trying so hard to make her happy? And give me an honest answer." said Kakeru
"Because... I love her." Saito admitted "I really, really love her, Dad. Call me a coward, but that's why I couldn't oppose anything she did. I love her so much it makes my heart ache."
"Good answer. But hold off on transferring for a while." Kakeru put a small square package in front of Saito
"What's this?" Saito inquired, picking it up and opening it. Inside was a silver ring with an amethyst "A ring?"
"That gem is an amethyst, her birthstone." Kakeru explained "I was gonna give it to her for her next birthday. 'Sweet Sixteen' and all. But it might be a better gift coming from you. Word of advice, distancing yourself from a girl has the opposite effect of what you intend. Don't give up on winning her affections, not yet. And don't give up being the manager either. As an ex-manager myself, I should tell you that the manager is one of the pillars that keep the team standing. And I can tell that those girls have really begun to rely on you."
"Uh... thanks, I guess." said Saito as Kakeru paid the check
"Coffee's on me, Son. Just remember what I told you." with nothing more to say, Kakeru left
One week later, Wednesday June 30th;
Before anyone knew it, a full week had passed since Keiko resigned from the Girls Soccer Team and it was now the last day of June. Since she could no longer practice with her school team, Keiko, along with Nana, was spending almost every afternoon in Tokyo practicing with the Nadeshiko Team. Suzuka and the rest of the team had tried to apologize to Keiko at every chance, but Keiko, still upset with them, turned a blind eye and deaf ear to every one of them. Keiko was still avoiding Saito too.
"Hey, Kei-chan!" said Yuki at the end of school on the thirtieth "Since you don't have practice with Nadeshiko today, wanna go for some karaoke?"
"Thanks, but no thanks." Keiko replied as they changed their shoes "I'm gonna go home and rest today. Besides, I can't sing, you know that."
"C'mon, it's not like you're tone deaf."
Just then, Yukari, Amuro and Kiyomi appeared on the stairs behind them.
"I don't wanna hear it." Keiko said coldly before any of the three said anything
"We haven't even said anything yet!" said Amuro
"I know what you want to say, and I don't want to hear it."
"Keiko, how many ways can we say 'we're sorry'?" said Yukari, but Keiko didn't answer, and left the grounds with Yuki behind her
"She still not accepting your apologies?" said Saito, turning up behind the three girls
"Oh, hi, Saito-kun." said Kiyomi "No, she's still being cold. At least Yuki-chan's forgiving enough to talk to us from time to time."
"By the way, thanks for recinding your resignation last week." said Yukari "We really appreciate it."
"No problem, Senpai." Saito replied, trying to put a hand on Yukari's shoulder, but his hand ended up one of her breasts, causing Yukari to hit his chin with her bag.
"Pervert!" Yukari yelled as the three of them changed their shoes
"I think he's back to normal." Amuro commented
"Does this mean Keiko will come back?" Kiyomi asked
"Girls like her need a while to cool off." said Yukari, her face still red with embarrassment "let's give her some more time, she'll come around."
Later that evening at the Aizawa house;
"So bored." Keiko said aloud, laying on her bed and throwing her personal soccer ball up and down "No practice today for Nadeshiko Japan, Chloe has practice with EGST another hour, and I've no other plans."
"Maybe you should've gone to karaoke with Yuki-nee then." said Ryo, who was doing her homework at the desk with Shiro on her lap "Oh wait, the last time I heard you sing, it shattered the glass I was holding."
"Well, excuse me!" Keiko exclaimed, and pocketing her phone and wallet and leaving the room "Mama, Papa, I'm eating out tonight. I'll be back soon." Keiko put on her kitten heels, opened the door, and there stood Chloe, whose hand was where the outside knob was seconds ago "You're home early."
"Practice finished early." Chloe replied "Going somewhere?"
"Eating out tonight. I'll be back later."
"You've been spending a lot more time out of the house than you used too." said Chloe as Keiko walked past her
"It's none of your business, Chloe." Keiko replied
"You also seem to be thinking a lot and staring into space. Starting to regret cutting ties?"
"I am not thinking about Saito! Like I could give a care about that perverted creep!" Keiko stormed off at that
"Je parlais de l'équipe, je n'ai rien dit à propos de Saito. Alors qu'elle pensait à lui pendant tout ce temps, même si elle dit ces choses sur lui? Yuki avait raison: cette fille n'est pas honnête du tout. [I was talking about the team, I didn't say anything about Saito. So she was thinking about him this whole time, even though she said those things about him? Yuki was right: that girl's not honest at all.]" Chloe said aloud in French
"Dammit!" Keiko said aloud as she wandered into town "Why did I say that? She didn't say a thing about him. But still...." images of Saito flashed in Keiko's mind "Darn, even though I quit the team, why's he the only thing I can think about. I don't even like him, but he makes my heart pound. I don't like him, I don't like him!"
Meanwhile at the Shirayukis;
"Onii-chan, I'm still hungry!" naked Michiru called
"We just had dinner, and you want more?" Saito replied as the doorbell rang
"Could you get the door, Saito?" said Sanae
"Yeah, yeah." Saito replied, already heading to the door. He opened it, and both Yuki and Midori stood in the frame "Yuki-chan? And... Midori-chan? What are you two doing here?"
"I'm bored, and Kei-chan won't play with me." Yuki replied
"I ran into Yukin on the way here." said Midori, bowing as low as she could "I should've did this last week, but for whatever it's worth, I'm apologizing for what my stupid big brother did at the festival."
"It's quite alright, you had nothing to do with it." said Saito, and Midori raised herself up again "Anyway, Yuki-chan, you said Keiko-chan won't play with you?"
"She's been pretty distant with everyone this past week, even me." Yuki told him "She hardly let's a word out of her mouth anymore, and when she does talk, it's rarely anything friendly. She's pretty depressed."
"Well what d'ya want me to do about it?" Saito asked "Even though I'm her ex-boyfriend, she won't talk to me either."
"That's why we're taking you out to dinner." said Midori "To discuss how we're gonna get the old Keikon back."
"But I've already had dinner." said Saito as Yuki grabbed his wrist
"Then consider it the second course." said Yuki, she then called into the house "Michiru-chan, Sanae-san, we're borrowing Saito-kun for the evening."
And with that, Yuki and Midori dragged Saito out of the house.
Meanwhile, Keiko had settled herself in the family restaurant she often went to with Saito.
"Why did I come here?" Keiko asked herself in thought "It reminds me too much of Saito." more images of Saito flashed through Keiko's mind "Grrr! Why am I still thinking about him? Is it possible that I actually... no no no! He's probably found himself another girl by now. Wait... why does that very thought make me so irritated?"
"Your order, miss." said the waitress, placing Keiko's usual order in front of her
"Arigato." Keiko replied as the waitress left
"Not here with your boyfriend today?" another usual customer nearby asked
"Can it!" said Keiko as her phone vibrated. The Caller ID said "Suzuka", but Keiko just ignored it
After Keiko finished and paid her check, she left wandering the streets as she didn't want to go home yet. She dropped by the bookstore, spent an hour in an arcade, anything to kill time and keep her mind off Saito, but Keiko still didn't want to go home. Finally, while walking down a deserted street, a blue roofless car, with four guys in it, pulled up next to her.
"Hey there, cutie." said the driver "What're you doing out here so late?"
"Those are some nice legs too." said the guy in the left rear seat "Is that all muscle?"
"I am an athlete." Keiko replied
"Hey wait," said the guy riding shotgun "Aren't you Keiko Aizawa?"
"Hey, it is her!" said the driver
"Looks like we hit the jackpot boys." said the guy in the right rear seat
"And what makes you say that?" Keiko inquired
"Instead of wandering around in the dark, why don't you have some fun with us." said the driver
"(sigh) I guess it's better than going home." Keiko replied, despite common sense "Move over."
Keiko was about to climb in the car, but before she could, a pair of hands grabbed her from behind and pulled her away from the vehicle.
"Keiko, are you crazy?!" said the person who pulled her away. Keiko looked behind her and saw that it was Kaname.
Kaname took Keiko to his apartment, which he was currently sharing with Midori, after shooing those guys away.
"Geez, trying to get into a car with four strange guys?" said Kaname when they arrived "I thought you had more sense than that!"
"Sorry." Keiko replied sitting on Kaname's bed "I just don't wanna go home right now."
"Whatever." said Kaname, sitting on the opposite bed "By they way, it's all over the school, you quit the soccer team?"
"Uh-huh. And a week before that, during the festival, I broke up with Saito. Actually, I dumped him."
"Look, I know what I said and did was wrong, but you didn't have to separate because of me."
"It wasn't a big deal. I actually never should've started going out with him in the first place. I never had any real feelings for him. None at all."
"It feels like she's lying." Kaname thought "If that's the case, would you consider going out with me again?" Kaname asked
"I know we didn't really do anything when we started three years ago, but my feeling for you were real. The timing was just all wrong."
"The only reason I said yes back then was because I was young and naïve. I'm not so blind anymore."
"Don't you think I know that?" Kaname asked, getting up and sitting down next to Keiko "We're both different now. I'm different. This time, I can make you happy. Let me prove to you how good we can be together."
Kaname put his hands on Keiko's upper arms and started kissing her, but Keiko instantly felt that something was wrong.
"What is this?" Keiko asked herself in thought as Kaname began making out with her "Kaname's hands, they're cold, rough and firm. Too firm. And his lips, there's no tenderness. He's using his tongue. It's slimy and gross!" Kaname layed Keiko down and continued "I can't breathe!" Keiko broke the mouth to mouth and took a breath. While Kaname continued kissing her, he started moving one of his hands. He reached under Keiko's tank-top and bra, and started groping her breasts "He's squeezing my breasts. He's too firm, it feels like he's gonna rip them off." Kaname stopped kissing and groping and took Keiko's tank-top and bra off, but didn't touch her necklace. With Keiko now naked from the waist up, Kaname started sucking one of Keiko's nipples "I don't feel good at all. He's not getting undressed himself. Saito and I always took it in turns, and he was more gentle. Wait... why am I thinking about Saito?" Keiko then felt Kaname reach up her skirt and pull off her panties "He's goning to... no! I don't want this!" Keiko couldn't take any more "Kaname, stop." Keiko spoke up at last, and pushing Kaname off "Don't do this. I can't do this."
"Why? At least tell me why." said Kaname
"I just... can't."
"Why? Is it someone else?" Keiko didn't answer but Kaname didn't need her to and got forceful "It's him! I'll make you forget him!"
"Wait... Kaname, what are you doing?!" Keiko asked as Kaname held her down
"I'll make you forget him!"
Keiko then noticed Kaname pull off his trousers and realized what he was trying to do!
"Wait! Kaname, no! Please, get off me! Someone! SAITO!" Keiko yelled and then silenced herself, shocked at what she had just yelled. Kaname also stopped and got off of Keiko, realizing that he couldn't do anything now.
"So... when you're in trouble, he's the one you call." said Kaname after a pause
"But... but I don't..." Keiko whimpered
"You love him, don't you?" said Kaname in a depressed voice
"No.... I don't!"
"You should stop lying to yourself. You can't run from your own heart."
Unable to stand hearing this, Keiko got dressed again, put her heels back on, and bolted out the door.
"Why? Why?! WHY!?" Keiko thought as she ran down the street "Kaname tries to do me, I try to stop him, and what comes out of my mouth? Why? Is it possible that I...? But how can I?"
Meanwhile, Saito, Yuki and Midori had just finished dinner and were walking
"You didn't look like you enjoyed dinner, Saiton." said Midori
"I just wasn't in the mood." Saito replied "And you call that dinner? It was more like a three course banquet. Not only will my wallet be empty for a while, it's almost 11:00 at night."
"It was an entire week's worth of pay out of me too. We couldn't think of any way to get Kei-chan back either." said Yuki. Just then, Keiko appeared at the corner six yards ahead of them "Kei-chan?" Yuki mumbled to herself "What's she doing out this late?"
"WHAT IS WRONG WITH MEEEEEE!?" Keiko yelled at the night sky
"Keiko-chan?" Saito called out to her
Keiko turned her head and saw Saito and the girls. Hearing Saito's voice, and seeing him there, made Keiko's heart skip a beat. Unable to face Saito after what just happened with Kaname, Keiko ran off and Saito gave chase.
"Keiko-chan, wait! Why are you running?" Saito asked as he ran after her
"Just leave me alone! Don't follow me!" Keiko yelled without looking back
All of a sudden, Keiko ran out into a street just as a car was coming at her. Before she would get hit, Keiko felt Saito pushing her out of the way of the car's path. As she flew out of the car's path, a weird memory, involving a fire and a boy, flashed in front of her eyes for a split second. But the force of the push carried her to the other side of the street and Keiko hit her head on the metal railing. Now lying on the ground, Keiko weakly opened her eyes and saw Saito lying on the ground behind the car.
"Sai... to..." Keiko mumbled weakly before losing consciousness.