Olympic Trials, Part 2
Saturday, June 28th
Keiko and her roommates all woke up at the same time on the last day of the Olympic Trials Training Camp. Everyone was ecstatic since this was the day that would decide the player roster for Casablanca.
"Today's the day!" Yukari exclaimed
"For some of us, it's our last chance to make a good enough impression to make the team." said Chizuru as they walked out of the room to breakfast
"I'm sure the roster has already been decided. Nevertheless, you're right." said Noriko
"Did anyone get enough sleep?" Keiko, was out like a light due to training exhaustion, asked
"I was fine." said Kaori
"Me too." said Suzuka, though a slight yawn
When they sat down in the breakfast tables, Keiko spotted Nana, Taeko and Fiona sitting together talking
"I haven't been able to ask mom what she and Tae-san were arguing about on the first night." Keiko thought as she started on her Miso soup "Mom seems fine though, maybe I was worried over nothing."
"Aizawa-senpai!" Rikka exclaimed as she sat down with them, Ryo and Chloe right behind her "Ohayou!"
"Can't you control her?" Keiko asked Ryo "She's been doing this all week."
"Not my problem if she's got a crush on you." Ryo replied as she and Chloe sat down
"Kids." said a nearby player named Michiko Takamatsu
"Any idea what the regimen for the last day is?" Chloe asked
"No idea." said Suzuka
"It's most likely going to be more mini-games and drills." said another nearby player named Himeko Yaegashi
After warming up after breakfast, the trial Forwards and Keepers lined up for an drill they had done twice that week: one by one, each forward would give a keeper six shots each. They were now down to the fourth Keeper, who was named Natsu Maruo, and it was Rikka's fourth turn, and Rikka was the sixth forward in line. Rikka gave Natsu six shots, but like each Forward before Rikka, and like the first two trials earlier in the week, Natsu blocked them all.
"Maruo-san is pretty good." said Ryo as Rikka stepped aside for the next trial forward "She's blocked almost everything anyone's thrown at her, while all the other keepers have let in an average of 3-4 goals."
"I guess it's for sure she'll get the number 1." said Suzuka, who was next in line "She throws back pretty well too. I hear she used to be a tennis player, that might be why she has such good reflexes and upper-arm strength."
"That doesn't mean she'll perform the same way in the Olympics." said another trial forward
"Right little ray of sunshine, aren't you?" said Keiko as Suzuka stepped up for her turn. Keiko then turned to see how the Midfielders and Defenders were matching up. Noriko and Atsuko were leading one squad past a defense squad that included Kaori, while Yukari and Chloe were leading another past another squad of Defenders, albeit with much more difficulty. "Hard to tell who's better than who with those match-ups."
"Hear, hear." said the player next to Keiko as Keiko stepped up for her turn. Keiko only managed a single goal past Natsu
After the Forward-Keeper drill, during which Keiko and co. noticed Taeko and Fiona jot down what they believed to be a final decision, The entirety of the trial-takers were split into four teams of eleven for a mini-group-tournament, with each mini-game being fifteen minutes apiece. Keiko and Ryo were on one team that included several people they'd been playing with all week, while Atsuko and Suzuka were on the other team. The remaining two teams watched from the benches
Because most everyone knew each others quirks and everything by now, the ball stayed relatively in center-field for the entire mini-game, except when Keiko and Ryo managed to break through at last.
"Nice pass!" Ryo said when Keiko heel passed to her. With Keiko covering Atsuko and Suzuka covered by another player, Ryo swiftly made her way past the remaining defense with two teammates covering her on either side. These two were forced to break from Ryo in order to clear her way, but Ryo managed to feint past the trial Keeper and score, giving her team the only goal of the mini-game.
When the final whistle was blown, both teams left the field to make room for the next two, and Keiko noticed Taeko and Fiona nod to each other before jotting something down.
"You're good, Ryo-chan." said Suzuka as they sat down "You get better every year."
"But if I were against you or Kei-nee, I'd've lost the ball at once."
"Like you did yesterday?" said Keiko, which Ryo ignored
"This is rough, not to mention hot." said a trial defender as water bottles were distributed "It's summer now, for crying out loud!"
"Indeed." said another trial player "I wish they would give us the final decision instead of keeping us in suspense. I can't play straight."
"Everyone's getting on edge." said Suzuka as she took a swig of water
"I noticed." Ryo replied "To think we need to do this twice more before they're satisfied."
"Actually." said Nana, appearing next to them "Judging from the look on Tae-san and Campbell-san's faces, I think they'll call off the rest of the mini-tournament."
Nana was wrong. After two more mini-games, Taeko and Fiona announced that the rest of the "tournament" would take place after lunch.
"Are they trying to kill us from heat-stroke?" Noriko complained as they ate lunch "It's supposed to be around 30 or 31 degrees today."
"Get over it." said Suzuka "Keiko and I have played in much worse than this."
"Too true, remember Australia last year?"
"And what about the high school summer tournaments, Noriko?" said Keiko "You didn't complain about those."
"I didn't want to look like a loser." Noriko retorted
"Is she always like this?" Chizuru asked
"I'd rather not go into details." said Keiko, to which Rikka sniggered
"And don't you laugh!" Noriko snapped at Rikka
After lunch, they all went back to the field. Along the way, Keiko forgot her water bottle and went back for it. When she made to catch up with the others, she passed a women's restroom and heard Nana's voice.
"Can I make an appointment for next Friday afternoon? Really, you'll be free? Arigato, Doctor." A split second later, the door opened and Keiko was face-to-face with her mother "Keiko? It's not polite to eavesdrop."
"A doctor's appointment?" Keiko inquired "Are you sick or injured or something?"
"Hell no. It's just a routine checkup" Nana replied with what looked like a forced smile "Just can't be too careful, especially with the Olympics coming up. You might want to consider a checkup yourself." Nana walked off at that
"I'm not convinced, Mom." Keiko muttered to herself when Nana was out of earshot "I know a fake smile when I see one."
The mini-tournament continued. After the penultimate game that ended with a 2-2 tie, Keiko and Ryo's team, against Noriko and Chloe's team were the last game. With five minutes remaining, the game was tied 1-1. With Ryo and two others holding the offensive players, including Noriko, back, Keiko charged with another forward next to her. Just inches from the penalty area, Keiko found herself blocked by Chloe, and her teammate was marked by a defender.
"Reminds me of our first match together." said Keiko
"Je crois me souvenir que vous ne étiez jamais en mesure de me secouer. [I seem to recall you were never able to shake me off.]" Chloe replied, and this time Keiko understood her
"That's partly true. But at the time, I didn't have a reliable striker paired with me." Keiko back-passed to Ryo, who had broken free, behind her.
Ryo took the ball past Chloe, and Keiko slipped past in the confusion
"Toi espèce de...! [Why you little...!]" Keiko heard Chloe say playfully
Working together with another forward, Keiko and Ryo slipped into the penalty area. While Ryo and the other forward covered both sides of the Keeper, Keiko shot straight at the keeper, aiming between her open legs. The keeper tried to stop it but was too slow, the ball went into the goal just as the final whistle was blown, ending the game 1-2.
"Well done, everyone!" Taeko said when they all gathered in the meeting room of the dorms later that evening after giving the players a couple hours rest. "You all performed splendidly over this past week. The veterans showed off their experience, the rookies showed off their untapped talent."
"Lassies, each of you are a credit to Japanese Women's Football." said Fiona in English "But it's now time to announce our final decisions. For those of you who weren't chosen, we hope you'll wish our chosen roster the greatest of luck."
"And so..." Taeko continued "When I call your name, come forward to receive your jersey. First, our Keepers: #1, Natsu Maruo. #13, Chizuru Orihara. And #18, Hideko Shimazaki." Natsu, Chizuru and Hideko all went forward when called. Chizuru was looking a bit dejected that she lost the starter's jersey to someone younger. "Next, our Defenders: #2, Kaori Sengoku. #3, Erika Sata. #4, Ritsu Usa. #12, Sachie Horigome. #17, Hisayo Iwadare. And #21, Honami Hagihara." The six Defenders went up to receive their numbers, Kaori, Ritsu and Erika giving a peace sign to the room at large. Taeko then moved on to the midfielders "Nana was put on the squad by the higher ups awhile back, so she's #10. (Ahem) #5, Noriko Kishitani. #6, Mikoto Tsubaki. #8, Atsuko Miyamoto. #15, Yukari Hayakawa. #16, Himeko Yaegashi. #19, Chloe Lafayette. #22, Michiko Takamatsu. And #23, Miyoko Chikanari." the Midfielders received their jerseys, and Keiko, Suzuka and Ryo waited on bated breath for the Forwards "And now our Forwards: #7, Keiko Aizawa."
"Yes!" Keiko exclaimed under her breath as she stood up and walked forward
"#9, Keiko Aragaki."
"Huh?" Keiko glanced at the girl who just got up next to her "She has the same name as me?" Keiko thought
"Two Keikos?" Suzuka inquired of Ryo, who just shrugged
"Let's get along, Aizawa-san." said Aragaki
"#11, Suzuka Akitsuki." Taeko continued as if there had been no interruption. "#14, Ryo Aizawa. And #20, Rikka Togashi." Keiko and her fellow strikers received their jerseys, and Keiko was still looking inquiringly at the "other" Keiko.
The 23-player squad then stood shoulder-to-shoulder at the head of the room and the remaining 25 trial-takers applauded enthusiastically, some even yelling "Good luck in Casablanca," or something similar.
When the formalities were over, the "rejects" went home and the new squad went to the baths together before dinner.
"After all that gruel, bath time is the best time for bonding a new team!" Rikka exclaimed while scrubbing Keiko's back, much to her discomfort.
"Teenagers." said Michiko, who was in the big tub with the older players
"Hey, most of us were teens ourselves not too long ago." said Suzuka
"And I'm the youngest on the team here." said Ryo
"Would it kill you to act mature?" said Himeko
"(sigh) Even though you have the same name as my brother-in-law's grandmother, you don't act like a princess at all." said Ryo
"What you say?!"
"Now, now, we're all on the same team now, let's try to get along." said Yukari, just as Keiko Aragaki sat on the stool next to Keiko
"Hey." Keiko Aragaki said
"Hey yourself." Keiko replied, just before something weird happened. Keiko got a glimpse into Aragaki's eyes, and for a split second, Aragaki turned into Saito and back again.
"What's up?" Keiko Aragaki asked,
"Nothing, it's- ow!" Keiko attempted to rub her eyes and got soap in them
"You okay, Aizawa-senpai?!" Rikka asked, concerned
"I'm fine." Keiko replied as she rinsed the soap out of her eyes "What was that?" Keiko thought "What I just saw had to be my imagination, but her eyes are the exact same shade of hazel as Saito's, and they have the same warmth I know so well. I know Saito's father was a player, but could she be... Nah, couldn't be."
"Hey, Keiko." said Chizuru
"Yes?" Both Keikos replied
"The- the higher quality one."
"'Higher quality'?" Aragaki snapped back
"Allons, allons. [Now, now.]" said Chloe
"Never mind." said Chizuru
"Since you two have the same given name, maybe we should just call you by surname or nickname." said Atsuko
"I hate being called by my surname, and I don't want a nickname." said Keiko
"You can call me 'Arako'." said Keiko Aragaki "I occasionally play on VRMMORPGs. Arako is my username."
"Arako-chan it is." said Rikka
"That's just her real name rearranged." Erika said to Ritsu and Suzuka.
"Easily noticed." said Suzuka
"It's great that we're on the same team again, Chloe-chan." Yukari said to Chloe as she joined her in the big tub
"La mutuelle le sentiment. [The feeling's mutual.] Chloe replied
"Though I must admit, and I mean no offense, but I'm surprised they allowed someone foreign even take the trials."
"You're a little behind the times." Chloe replied as she rinsed her face "Where citizenship is concerned, I'm not French anymore, I'm Japanese."
"What!" Keiko exclaimed, turning around to face Chloe "Although I half-expected you to do that, you haven't been living here for five years, and you're not twenty either."
"The Minister of Justice waived that due to my ancestry."
"Although it's rather diluted after so many generations, I do have a Japanese ancestor via my mother's paternal great-great-grandfather." the adults let out a low whistle at this information
"Geez." said Keiko, turning her back again
"Why would you go through the hassle of naturalization to our country?" Noriko asked
"Two reasons: one; I'd have more rights, including where joining the national team is concerned. And two; I simply don't like my home country. I had to drop my French citizenship anyway, since Japanese law doesn't allow dual citizenship unless under certain circumstances, and mine's not one of them."
"Touché." said Yukari
"By the way, where's your mom?" Rikka asked Keiko as she rinsed Keiko's back "This is the time for the squad to bond, shouldn't she be here with us?"
"I was wondering that too." said Atsuko, now getting in the big tub "Or maybe she thinks she's too old to hang with us." Atsuko said with a laugh, but she was silenced with dark looks from most of the team. Atsuko then ducked beneath the water in shame
"Mom's actually been acting weird all week." said Ryo "I've been getting the feeling she's been avoiding us."
"I noticed. But I don't think it's anything to worry about. Mom'll tell us when she's ready." Keiko replied, deciding it was best not to tell them about Nana's phone call earlier. Everyone caught the finality in her tone and the matter was dropped.
"At least you two have a good relationship with your mom." Arako whispered to Keiko "I hardly ever got along with mine."
"What about your dad?" Keiko whispered back
"I never knew him, and Mom refused to ever speak of him. Even mentioning that I had a biological father was forbidden under her roof."
"Sounds like you had a rough life." Rikka said to Arako
After the bath, everyone went to dinner, where drinks were raised. Those of age were permitted alcohol, but the youngest ones were only allowed juice.
"Here's to the newly formed Japan National Women's Olympic Soccer Team!" said Taeko
"Eat and drink to yer heart's contents tonight, Lassies." said Fiona "You'll have the next week off to rest and recuperate, but starting next Monday we will get serious. Olympics come speedy."
"Then, without further ado, Kanpai!" Nana exclaimed
"Kanpai!" everyone in the room chorused
"Don't drink so fast." Suzuka said to Michiko and Himeko
"I still can't believe that this is the team that will represent Japan in the Women's Soccer Tournament." Nana said to Taeko and Fiona
"Believe it." said Fiona
"After tonight, it's all up to you two to keep these ladies in order." said Taeko "Because my job is done now."
"Good luck at the Asian Beach Games." said Nana, just as she received a reply from Saito. Nana had sent a text earlier that Keiko and Ryo made the team and were participating in the party.
"I'm sure there's alcohol, so don't let Keiko drink!" the text said
"What does he mean by that?" Taeko asked, seeing the text "Keiko's old enough, isn't she?"
"Technically, no." said Nana "Japan's Legal Drinking Age is 20, but is a bit more relaxed with 19-year-olds, if under adult supervision."
Over at Keiko's table, she and those around her were talking about what opponents they'll face in the Olympics
"Germany's in the running, again." said Suzuka "If we're not in the same group during the Group Stage, we will face them in the Knockout."
"True." said Asako "And on the Yahoo news yesterday, their captain said that they've been looking forward to a grudge match since you guys knocked them out in the Algarve semifinals last March. Then there's Sweden. I hear your friend Henrika made the Swedish Olympic squad."
"She told me a while ago." said Keiko, taking a sip out of her glass
"What's she like?" Rikka asked
"She's an excellent midfielder. And can make many openings without her opponents realizing it. I'll be most surprised if she's not number 10."
"The Mexican teams managed to qualify this year as well, and also changed their foreign participation rules." said Suzuka "Our other friend, Jade Rodríguez, a defender from Panama, made it onto the Women's Olympic Team this year, since Panama didn't enter. Mexico's no pushover though, and we just barely defeated them in the Final of the Algarve Cup last March."
"That was mostly my fault." Keiko thought
"True." said Ryo "Speaking of Algarve, I hear that the Greeks are itching at another shot at us since we got them so badly."
"A 10-2 win against Greece. Captain Angeliki was pissed, that's for sure." Suzuka replied as she took a sip only to find it was juice "Juice? Who has my-" Suzuka's question was answered by a large "Hic" coming from Keiko. It was plain that Keiko had accidentally drank alcohol from Suzuka's glass "Uh... Keiko?"
"Wha' ya lookin' a', (hic) Sazaku?" Keiko asked drunkenly, her face flushing red
"Geez, drunk already, is she?" Atsuko said with a disapproving look
"I'm no dwunk, 'ow dare 'ou! (hic)"
"That's what all drunks say." said Ryo,
"My image of Aizawa-senpai is crumbling." said Rikka
"Alcohol will do that." said Arako
All of a sudden, Keiko started tearing up.
"Uh... Keiko, what's wrong?" Suzuka asked worriedly
"Is something wrong with Aizawa?" Noriko, who just came over with Yukari, asked
"Kei-koo's jus'... (hic) so (hic) fwustwated."
"Frustrated?" Suzuka inquired
"So fwustwated. Saito and (hic) Keiko had no sex for two months!" Keiko exclaimed drunkenly, and those nearby spat out their drinks in surprise
"Alright, Keiko Aizawa, you've gotta get a hold of yourself!?" Arako said, shaking Keiko's shoulders. Keiko turned to Arako swayingly and looked at her in a dreamy way
"Saito? What ya doin' here?"
"Huh?" At this, Keiko pushed Arako down and held her down by her shoulders "Keiko? What are you-?"
"We haven' done it fo' so (hic) long, Saito." Keiko said as she but her hand near Arako's crotch "Don' ya wan' (hic) me any more?"
"She really thinks I'm her boyfriend!" Arako exclaimed "Somebody stop her!"
"Oh no, this is too much fun, we're just gonna watch." said Himeko
But at that moment, Suzuka and Ryo pulled Keiko off Arako by her shoulders
"Fine! If Saito won' strip, I'll strip!" Keiko exclaimed, as she tried to remove her kimono. But at that moment, Nana chopped her in the back of the neck, knocking her out.
"Take her back to your room." said Nana "When she sobers up, make sure she drinks some water."
Suzuka, Noriko and Yukari took Keiko back to their room and put Keiko in a futon, where she slept while mumbling Saito's name. About three hours later, just as Chizuru and Kaori returned, Keiko woke up.
"Awake at last, are we?" Kaori said when they walked in the room
"Uuurrrggghhh, my head." Keiko moaned, rubbing her head "What happened?"
"You accidentally took my glass and drank alcohol." said Suzuka, handing Keiko a glass of water "I had no idea you were so weak with alcohol."
"You were a riot." said Chizuru
"Aragaki didn't look too pleased though." said Noriko
"What happened?" Keiko repeated after drinking the water "I don't remember anything."
"You took one look at Arako-chan and thought she was Saito-kun." said Yukari then explaining what Keiko had said and did while drunk
"I did what?! Urgh!"
"Don't shout." said Suzuka, gently laying Keiko back down "I know hangovers aren't fun."
"I can't believe I mistook Arako-san for Saito."
"Why did you mistake her for him in the first place?" Noriko inquired, lying on her stomach while reading a recently released pamphlet on the upcoming Olympics
"It's those eyes of hers'." said Keiko "They're the exact same shape and color as Saito's, and when I look into them, it's like Saito is looking back at me. I can't believe I was so stupid."
"Same shape, color and feeling. Could it be a coincidence?" Suzuka inquired
"Maybe she's a cousin of Saito-kun's?" Yukari suggested
"Impossible." Keiko moaned "My Mother-in-law has no siblings, and Saito's uncle Soji, who's divorced, has only has a 25-year-old son from his ex-wife."
"How do you know that?" Kaori inquired
"Because Soji-san's son, Itaru Shirayuki (到 白雪), is one of Keiko's managers as a model." said Suzuka
"No way!" Chizuru and Yukari exclaimed
"Please don't shout." Keiko moaned
"Then here's an idea." said Noriko, stuffing the pamphlet away and sitting up "Saito-senpai's dad was a player who went around with a lot of women right?"
"Please don't remind me." said Keiko
"Back in the bath, I heard what Aragaki said about not knowing her father and her mother forbidding mentioning him. Is it possible that Aragaki is Saito-senpai's half-sister?" There was a long awkward silence following this suggestion "It's just a theory."
"(sigh) I guess anything's possible." Keiko said, rolling onto her side
"Let's get some sleep." said Suzuka, and everyone got in their futons minutes later
Because of the headache from her hangover, Keiko slept badly.
"What Noriko said would make sense." Keiko thought while trying to fall asleep "Given the feelings I felt from Arako's eyes, and what Arako told me earlier, I guess it would be possible that she's Saito's unknown half-sister. On another note, I hope mom's not up to anything. It sounded like she was hiding an injury or something, but I haven't seen anything that would suggest she's injured in any way. Whatever, I'll think about it some other time. I have a week ahead of me before we start training seriously for the Olympics."
As Keiko finally dozed off, even while two small mysteries surrounded her, she decided to focus on the upcoming Olympics. Little did she realize that there would be one more roller coaster ride before she finally departed for Morocco.