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Learning to be Free :Previous Chapter«Home»Next Chapter: Olympic Trials, Part 1

Becoming Stronger

Saturday May 24th;

One Saturday afternoon late in May, Keiko and co. were watching a friendly basketball game between women's teams of Nittaidai, which included Chiho, and Todai. It was the final few minutes of the fourth quarter, and Nittaidai was trailing 96-100.

"C'mon, Chiho!" Keiko exclaimed as Chiho stole the ball from an opponent and passed to a teammate. That teammate then shot into the hoop, narrowing the score by two points

"All right!" Suzuka exclaimed

"Just one more, ladies!" Noriko and Rikka exclaimed

"You can do it, girls!" Saito yelled

One of Chiho's teammates passed her the ball again, but Chiho found herself blocked with no way to move further forward by two opponents. With seven seconds left, Chiho stepped forward and shot a three-pointer. Everything seemed to move in slow motion; Chiho's shot soared above all the other players, heading right for the basket. The ball hit the backboard and ricocheted into the basket just with a split second remaining. With no time to react, it was over. The final buzzer sounded and Nittaidai was declared the winner, 101-100.

"Well done." said Keiko when Chiho emerged from the locker room later

"Arigato." Chiho replied as she wiped off the last of sweat from her face "But that was brutal. Tokyo is something else."

"Says the girl who scored the majority of Nittaidai's points today." said Suzuka as they set off

"Thanks for the compliment."

"I expect you'll make the women's Olympic Team easily." said Saito

"And the trials are fast approaching, for all of us." said Noriko "Is it really all right for us to spend weekends relaxing when we could be practicing?"

"Resting is part of training too." said Keiko "We mustn't injure ourselves needlessly with overtraining."

"Listen to senpai." said Rikka

"Hai, hai." Noriko replied lazily "Well, I'm heading home. See y'all." Noriko covered her mouth, having said the last two words in a weird accent

"First time I've heard that tone." Keiko said with a sly smile

"Not a word to anyone!" Noriko demanded, then taking off

"I'm taking off too." said Rikka, and Suzuka excused herself too

"So it's just us three now." said Saito

"Can I ask you two to come with me for a bit?" Chiho asked, and Keiko and Saito exchanged confused looks

Chiho brought them to near the coast of Yokohama in Kanagawa-ku, near where the WNBR ride passed. There they found a Women's Pro Wrestling Gym.

"Um... Chiho... what are we doing here?" Keiko asked before they went inside

"You'll see." Chiho said simply as she led them inside.

Inside were already a number of people, most of them wrestlers. Some were in their mid or late-teens, others were in their late twenties. Also there were two people observing them, one of which Keiko and Saito recognized; it was Soji Shirayuki, the other was woman in her late fifties

"Uncle Soji?" Saito inquired when he saw them

"Ah, Saito-kun, Keiko-chan." Soji replied "Chiho-chan, good of you to bring them. How was your game today?"

"We won by a single point." Chiho replied

"Chiho, what is going on?" Keiko demanded

"I told you before that you have no upper body strength!" Chiho replied "I know you don't play with your arms in matches, but even a soccer player has to have equal strength in their legs and arms, especially if you face the Americans, the Germans or the Swedes. So, to fix that, I signed you up for a course of pro wrestling strength training. You'll thank me for this later."

"You did this without telling me!?"

"I agree with Chiho-chan, Niece-in-law, so I helped." said Soji

"But Uncle Soji...."

"Equal strength in both halves of your body is essential to get into any Olympic team." said the woman next to Soji

"And... you are?" Saito asked

"Seiko Yamamoto, former four-time gold medalist in the World Wrestling Championship, and the one in charge of this gym." said Seiko "I'll be covering Aizawa-san's strength training until the Olympic Trials."

"Do I have a choice?" Keiko asked, and Soji held up her contract "I guess not. And after I just told Noriko about avoiding needless injuries."

"Don't worry," said one of the wrestlers in the ring, who had the girl she was sparring with in a Boston Crab "We're not gonna do anything too rigorous. Some of us are entering the Olympics too, myself included."

"I give up, I give UP!" said her partner, and she was released

"Still unbeatable, Emi-chan?" Chiho asked

"Getting stronger every day, Chi-chan."

"You two know each other?" Saito asked

"This is Emi Maou (恵美 真奥). My cousin." said Chiho

"I thought you two looked similar." said Soji

"At any rate," said Emi "You best go change, Aizawa. We're getting starting right away."

"Help me." Keiko moaned to Saito

"I can't, but I'll stick around as moral-" Saito was interrupted by his phone ringing "It's Akira-san. Give me a sec." Saito answered it "Mosh-"

"YOU GOTTA HELP MEEEE!" Akira yelled on the other end

"Alright, I'll be right there."

"'Be right there', what?" Keiko asked as Saito hung up

"You've been wondering where I've been getting most of my income, right?" Keiko nodded "since last year now, I've been helping Akira-san draw his manga, particularly when there's a deadline coming up, and been well paid for it. And it looks like it's coming up again. I'm sorry, but I've gotta go."

"Can't you say 'no' this time?" Keiko pleaded

"I wish."

Realizing that situations, where they were forced to separate because of things they both had to do, were bound to happen sooner or later, Keiko relented and Saito left. Keiko was then shown to the locker room and borrowed a sport bikini. Though she was relieved that she was not being asked to step into the ring, instead she was made to lift weights, it was nonetheless extremely difficult and Keiko was worn out quickly.

"Is that all you've got?! This is only twenty pounds" Emi exclaimed as Keiko set the dumbbells down after just one set, breathing heavily "Again!"

"What?! I can't... do that... again!" Keiko gasped

"No giving up!" said Seiko "Before the trials, you're going to be able to lift fifty pounds with ease."

"Are you crazy!"

"Keiko. No matter what your argument is, you need this to play in the Olympics effectively." said Chiho

"Once more!" said Emi

Keiko knew she had no choice and got to it. Emi and Seiko kept her at it for three straight hours, doing various methods that emphasized her arms. When they told her she could go, Keiko breathed a sigh of relief and went to change back into her casual wear.

"Now that wasn't so bad, was it?" Soji asked as they stepped into the cool early-summer evening

But Keiko just fell to her knees and fell face-forward, her exhaustion at it's peak. Knowing Keiko couldn't get home on her own like this, Chiho drove her back to Kamakura after parting ways with Soji.

"I'm sorry I made you go through that, but you need it." said Chiho as she piggybacked Keiko into Sakagami Apts.

"Oh, well... maybe it'll help in the long run." Keiko replied wearily as they ran into Saito at the elevator

"Keiko!? You should've called or texted, I was just about to go pick you up." said Saito

"I was too tired."

"And I don't know your number or e-mail." said Chiho "And since we've run into you, you can take her the rest of the way."

Chiho gave Keiko to Saito, who then took her back to their room after parting ways with Chiho

"How was your first weight training session?" Saito inquired as he put Keiko down on the bed

"I'm exhausted." Keiko replied as Saito removed her shoes "And my arms feel like they're gonna fall off."

"Guess we can't enjoy ourselves tonight then. Want me to rub your arms?"

"Please." With some help from Saito, Keiko rolled onto her stomach and removed her tube-top and sleeves. Saito then massaged Keiko's arms and shoulders.

"Sorry I couldn't be there. I couldn't say no to Akira-san."

"Don't worry about it. The money's useful." Keiko replied, enjoying Saito's touch

"And I suppose that this strength training will help in the long run. Keiko?" Saito noticed that Keiko had fallen asleep. Saito then gently maneuvered Keiko out of her day-wear and into her pajamas. Once that was done, he got into his own nightwear, pulled the sheets over them and kissed Keiko's lips "Ganbatte." He whispered.

Sunday May 25th;

Saito was the first to wake up the next morning. Because she was still wiped out from last night, Keiko didn't stir until Saito woke her up when he finished making breakfast.

"Rise and shine, Sleeping Beauty." Saito said as he shook Keiko's shoulder "Breakfast is on the table. Eat it while it's hot."

"Thirty more minutes." Keiko groaned

"Tondemonai." Saito replied, pulling back the sheets "I know you're still worn out, but you're not skipping breakfast." Keiko allowed herself to be pulled out of bed to the table. "So, what are we doing today?" Saito asked as they started on their omurice

"Sleep?" Keiko suggested

"What happened to the active girl I knew yesterday?"

"(sigh) Sumimasen. I've never worked out as hard as I did last night. I'm just so tired. At least it's Sunday."

"True." their doorbell rang and Hiroki's voice came

"Ohayou!" Hiroki exclaimed as he an Saki stormed in

"And there's the Sunday nuisance." said Keiko

"Who you calling a nuisance?" Hiroki asked as he threw himself around Keiko's neck from behind

"Little brother, I just woke up after an excruciating workout I couldn't get out of last night. Furthermore, you and Saki have come here every Sunday morning since you moved in upstairs. Don't you two have anything better to do?"

"Nope." Saki replied simply "We could go on a date, but with the Olympic trials coming up, we need to keep in shape so we've been training together."

"So, come with us today." said Hiroki "We'll get Ryo and the others."

"NO!" Keiko exclaimed so loudly that Hiroki let go and fell backwards "If you keep this up, you're going to injure yourselves before you can take the trials. You two are taking today off and going out somewhere. Capiche?"

"But..."

"Listen to your sister." said Saito

Hiroki and Saki looked at each other and nodded. Nevertheless, they invited the engaged couple to accompany them, and Keiko and Saito agreed that they could use the air.

"You alright?" Saito asked as they walked behind the highschoolers

"Yeah. But my upper muscles are still aching like crazy though." Keiko replied

"The ache means it's working."

"What would you know." Up ahead, Hiriko and Saki bought a few drinks from a vendor and threw a couple to Keiko and Saito "Okage." Keiko replied as she caught hers, a coffee "Coffee, Kami ni Kansha."

"I didn't know you drank coffee." said Saki as Keiko drank with earnest

"I just got into it." Keiko replied "It wakes me up better." Keiko then looked around the area and saw something strange. Underneath a low bridge several yards away were a couple of people. They both appeared to be women, but closer inspection showed the younger of the two was Ryo's boyfriend Soichi. Keiko didn't recognize the older one though "Ara? Isn't that Soichi-kun?"

"Is it him?" Hiroki asked

"Who's that he's with?" Saki asked, but no one answered

Nobody could hear what they were saying, but the older person was definitely saying harsh things since they grabbed the front of Soichi's shirt, threw him back, and then walked off. Soichi then ran off in the opposite direction a second later.

"Odd." said Keiko "What was that about?"

"I thought Soichi-kun would be with Ryo-chan," said Saito "but instead he was with an older woman, and they didn't seem to be getting along."

"Should we track him down and see what that is about?" Saki asked

"No." Keiko said firmly "It's not our place."

Saturday May 31;

On the last day of May, after a half-day of school and team practice, Keiko was once again at the pro wrestling gym in Yokohama for her seventh strength training session. Despite her complaints on the first day, Keiko persevered and was now lifting with less difficulty, and had progressed to heavier weights.

"Show me your arms." said Seiko halfway through the training session. Keiko held out her arms and Seiko examined them. After glancing at the weights Keiko was lifting, which was now 29 pounds, and feeling Keiko's upper arms, she looked pleased "Not bad. You've been here a week, but I guess I expecting a bit more muscle. I guess I expected a bit much of a thoroughbred athlete."

"'Thoroughbred'... might be... pushing it." Keiko replied in gasps as she went back to using the weight machine "I'm... only... human."

"I actually thought you would give up after the first two days." said Emi

"Shut... up!"

"I told you you'd thank me for this." said Chiho

"I hate you."

"That's enough." said Seiko, and Keiko stopped "You can go home. Same time Monday."

"Yes... Ma'am."

After Keiko changed, she and Saito went to the station to catch the last train.

"Just one week and you're making progress fast." said Saito

"Can it." Keiko replied "With the trials just three weeks away, I suppose that I should be grateful that I got this training when I did, but I just can't bring myself to thank Chiho."

"Maybe it's because she did this without asking you."

"Maybe." Keiko replied as she got a text from Ryo "WHAT!?"

"What?! What happened?" Keiko showed Saito the text message "'Soichi-kun broke up with me and ran off. I'm coming to your place.' What's that about?"

"I don't know. But Soichi-kun looked like he really liked Ryo. Why would he break up with her?"

At room 301 later, Keiko, Saito, Hiroki, Saki, Ryo and Michiru had gathered to discuss Soichi's sudden change of heart.

"It doesn't make any sense!" Hiroki exclaimed "How could he break up with Ryo like that?!"

"My question is 'why', not 'how'." said Keiko "Ryo, did Soichi say why he was ending it?"

"No. And that's the weird thing." said Ryo "Soichi just said he was breaking up with me, said sorry, and ran off."

"He must not have cared about you if it was that easy for him to say it." said Saki

"Actually, I think it was the other way around." said Ryo

"What do you mean?" Keiko asked

"You don't know Soichi like I do. He doesn't have the guts to break up with me on his own will."

"You did kinda force him to go out with you." said Saki

Ryo ignored her and continued "Furthermore, as he said it, he was crying. Tears were running down his face like a river. He looked really torn up about it, I don't think he wanted to break up with me at all. And he's been acting strange all week too."

"You think he was forced to do it?" Saito suggested "Maybe by some jealous girl who wanted him?"

"That reminds me." said Hiroki "Remember last Sunday. We saw him, apparently being harassed by some woman. Maybe that has something to do with it."

"Maybe." said Saki

"I just remembered!" Michiru spoke up "Yesterday when I was walking home from my club, as I was about to turn a corner and I saw Soichi-kun, with his back to the wall, with an older woman. She looked at least twenty."

"What did the woman say to him?" Keiko asked, curious

"They didn't seem to be seeing eye-to-eye. The woman had one hand around Soichi's throat, the other on his crotch-"

"What?!" Ryo exclaimed

"Let me finish. As she... er... rubbed it," Ryo gave a nasty look "she said 'This thing belongs to me. Break up with the Aizawa girl or I'm going to cut it off.'" Both boys covered their groins at this comment

"Every man's worst nightmare." said Saito, and Hiroki nodded

"Was it an idle threat?" Keiko asked, cautiously

"I don't know. Soichi-kun looked terrified, but I don't think it was the threat that scared him." said Michiru "It looked more like he was scared of the woman herself."

"Did you recognize her?" Ryo asked

"She did look familiar, but I can't remember where I'd seen her before."

The discussion came to a halt as everyone took a moment to think. Finally, Ryo stood up. "I'm going to Soichi-kun's." she proclaimed

"Are you sure that's the best idea?" Keiko asked, but Ryo replied with the exact same look Keiko had given her when she told Ryo to grow up "Fine, but Saito and I are going with you."

Keiko, Ryo and Saito put their shoes on and left, and Michiru told them that they would be gone by the time they got back.

"I know I'd seen that woman before, but I can't remember where." Michiru said once she and the highschool couple were alone

"Knowing you, you must've seen her in one of Saito-nii's old porn mags." said Hiroki. Michiru suddenly looked like a light bulb that had just been lit and began fiddling with her phone, looking for something on the net. "Was it something I said?"

"Look at this!" Michiru showed them a video, dated at least a year ago, of a couple having sex with the woman on top!

"Isn't that a porn video site?!" Saki exclaimed as she hid Hiroki's eyes "You actually watch that stuff?"

"Yeah! What of it? Look that's not the point! Here!" Michiru stopped the video at a certain point showing the woman's face "That's the woman I saw, I know it! And here." Michiru moved the video to another point, showing the male's face, and his face looked like he was being tortured "I thought it was just a coincidence, but... look familiar?"

Saki, unwilling to allow Hiroki to look at the video, looked at the male's face and saw, quite clearly, that it was Soichi "It's... Soichi-kun?"

Meanwhile, Keiko, Saito and Ryo had tracked down Soichi's home address in a northwestern suburb of Zushi, having driven there by borrowing Mito's car.

"You sure this is the right area?" Keiko, who was driving, asked as they drove

"I know it is." Ryo replied from the back seat

"Have you been to Soichi-kun's place before?" Saito asked

"Well... no. But I know his addre- There! 675 Awashima." Ryo indicated the house number and nameplate they came up on, which indeed was the address they were looking for.

Keiko stopped the car and they got out.

"Should we even be here this late? It's nearly 11:00." said Saito

"I'm getting an answer out of Soichi-kun." Ryo said firmly "But if you two wanna chicken out..."

"We're coming with you." Keiko replied as she made to ring the doorbell, but stopped when she heard a crash-like sound from the second floor "What the?"

"I didn't like the sound of that." said Saito

Keiko instead reached for the door knob and found that it wasn't locked. "They're careless."

"Maybe they thought nobody would come this late." Ryo suggested as they removed their shoes

"Ojamashimasu." Saito whispered

The three of them made their way upstairs, from which they heard strange sounds and voices.

"I never get tired of this huge thing." said a female voice they didn't recognize "You love this, don't you, you perverted masochist."

"Can I have a turn with him?" said another female voice "My arm's getting tired of holding the camera."

"Not until I make him *** again." said the first woman

They noticed one of the door slightly ajar and peered in, and the sight that met them was most unpleasant: Inside was Soichi and two college-age women, all three of them naked. Soichi was on the bed, his wrists and ankles bound and a ball gag in his mouth. One woman was riding him while the other stood beside them recording with a smartphone. Despite what they heard one of them say, Soichi looked like he was wishing he could die. They watched as the one riding Soichi made him climax, apparently against his will

"So hot... That was great." said the woman

Unable to watch anymore, Ryo barged in "What the hell are you doing to Soichi!" she yelled

"H-ho-how did you get in here?!" the woman on Soichi exclaimed, taken aback by the arrival of three intruders

"The front door wasn't locked." said Keiko

"Um, Fuyumi-chan, who are these three?" asked the girl with the smartphone

"I recognize the younger girl as Ryo Aizawa." said Fuyumi "The other two I don't know."

"I'm Ryo's older sister." said Keiko "Now get your *** off Soichi-kun." Keiko gave them a poisonous glare so reminiscent of a basilisk that the two women didn't dare refuse. Ryo and Keiko unbound Soichi, wrapped him in a sheet, and had Saito piggyback him out of the room. Wordlessly, they agreed that Soichi shouldn't come back, so Ryo tracked down Soichi's school uniforms and material, and brought them along. They were at the front door when the woman named Fuyumi, wearing a robe now, caught up to them.

"You're just taking So-chan?" Fuyumi asked "This is kidnapping."

"I think raping him is an even worse crime." Saito retorted

"You were the one who told Soichi-kun to break up with me. What exactly is your relationship with him?" Ryo demanded

"Other than the fact that he's my brother," said Fuyumi

"Your brother?!" Keiko exclaimed,

"he's my toy."

"Brother or not, Soichi-kun is not a toy!" Ryo retorted

"Of course he's my toy. He's a massively perverted masochist, and he never tires of our daily sex-play."

"Soichi-kun is a person. Not an object." said Ryo

"My little bro says different. He enjoys being my toy."

"I am not." Soichi mumbled from Saito's back. He lifted his head and his face was determined. He seemed to draw courage from Ryo's defense of him "I am not your plaything! You've given me nothing but hell. I HATE YOU! I will tell you once and for all with words you like to use: **** YOU FOR AS LONG AS YOU BREATHE!"

Fuyumi looked so shocked that she couldn't say anything back. The three of them felt that Soichi's outburst settled the matter and left at that.

They drove all the way back to Sakagami, Ryo comforting Soichi in the back seat the entire way. Once they were back in room 301, they had Soichi take a bath and Saito got dinner ready, though it was very late.

"You two can stay here tonight." Keiko told Ryo "I already texted Mom and Dad and told them you weren't coming home tonight."

"Thanks, Kei-nee."

"Soichi will certainly need new living arrangements since we can't let him go back to that house. I'll talk to our parents and see if they can't put him up for a bit."

"Thanks." Ryo repeated as Soichi emerged from the bath, wearing a tracksuit Saito lent him "Feeling better?" Ryo asked as Soichi sat down on the bed. Soichi didn't reply, but continued to look dispirited. Ryo noticed his hair was still wet and retrieved a towel form the bath "Come on. You'll get sick if you don't dry your hair properly." Ryo told him as she dried his hair

"Gomen'nasai." Soichi mumbled

"Excuse me?"

"I'm sorry I'm so pathetic. You had to come and save me, and you found out about my home situation."

"Think nothing of it." said Ryo

"I still can't believe that your sister enjoys rape-incest." said Keiko

"Actually... Fuyumi-nee-san and I aren't actually related." said Soichi

"Huh?"

"I was... adopted. Fuyumi-nee-san and I were both adopted, though separately. I was brought up in an orphanage until I was eight. Fuyumi was adopted by our step-father five years before I was. But from the day we met, she's treated me like a sex toy. Always threatening me with cutting me up and telling the world about us in order to keep me quiet. Father seemed to be well aware of it, but didn't seem to care. I sometimes wonder if he only adopted us for the social security money."

"No wonder you were so scared of girls." said Ryo, who had paused drying Soichi's hair while he talked "But at least you finally stood up to her tonight."

"Only because you had defended me like that. I was actually frightened by what I had said. I'm so pathetic. I don't deserve to be your boyfriend, especially after they way I broke up with you to-" Soichi was silenced as Ryo held his face and kissed him.

"Don't say you don't deserve me." Ryo said "I'll defend you from that witch forever if I have to, but my love for you will never change." as Ryo said this, Soichi's face turned red as a beet "Hey, hey, hey, say something will you! You're making me look shameless."

Keiko cleared her throat loudly, reminding Ryo that she was there, and Ryo turned as red as Soichi "I think we can say that Soichi-kun's getting stronger because of you, but you might wanna hold off on any 'physical' romance until he's ready."

"Geez, Kei-nee!"

"Alright, that's enough." Saito said as he walked in carrying a tray with four bowls

The two highschoolers, still red in the face, joined them at the table

"Oyakodon?" Keiko asked, seeing the dishes of rice, chicken and egg

"It's what mom always fed us whenever we were feeling downhearted." Saito said simply

"Itadakimasu." the four of them said as they started eating

With Soichi liberated from his "sister's" clutches, he was now to start life anew with help from the Aizawas. Keiko meanwhile, was continuing her strength training to get ready for the Olympic trials just three weeks away.

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