First day in Sweden
Monday August 7th;
Midday early August, Ryo entered the kitchen of the Aizawa house for something to eat. As she was about to open the fridge, her hand clashed with Chloe's and Chloe gestured for her to open it. Upon peering inside, the two of them saw that there wasn't much in the fridge.
"Mom." Ryo called into the living room
"Yes, dear?" Nana replied
"Can Chloe-san and I make a complaint?"
"Hiroki and Saki are eating Swedish cuisine by now, and all we have is leftover tofu." said Chloe
"What do you mean 'by now'?" Kakeru asked "Their plane left not even three hours ago."
"Why did they have to go almost a week in advance?" Ryo asked
"Because Japan is sending 100 young athletes this year."
Meanwhile, aboard the plane heading for Stockholm, which was all of Japan's young athletes for this year, Hiroki was sitting in a seat near the starboard wing, sitting with the rest of the Boy's Youth Olympic Soccer Team. Saki meanwhile, was sitting with the swim team near the front of the aircraft. Even though it was a bit late, Hiroki was getting a bit nervous. It was his first time going overseas, and it was for the Youth Olympics.
"Hey, Aizawa-kun," said Hiroki's fellow keeper Akio Fujimaki "Who're you starin' at up there?"
"Nobody!" Hiroki replied quickly
"C'mon, you were lookin' righ' at the swim-girls. Who ya got yer eye on?"
"He's already going out with one of them." said Sadao Aishihara, who was sitting in front of them "Takasugi-san, am I right?"
"(sigh) Hai." Hiroki replied
"How far have you gone?" asked Shota Orihara, sitting behind them
"None of your business!" Hiroki replied
"Passengers, if you'll look out the starboard side of the plane you'll see we're starting to pass by the Ural Mountains." said the pilot over the intercom "We are still about three hours from Stockholm and we wish the young athletes on board the best luck at the Youth Olympics this year."
"Great, no pressure. Ow!" said Norio Kaito, before being hit by his seatmate
"Have we decided on a flag-bearer?" asked a male Track member
"That will come later." replied the Track coach
"I don't think I've ever been more nervous in my life." said Hiroki
"C'mon," said Akio "With a prod-je keepa like you, we've got thee gold medal 'n thee bag!"
"Don't get cocky!" said Itsuki Sasagawa, the captain "No matter how good Aizawa is, it don't mean nothing if we don't score."
"'kay, 'kay, don't get all riled up, Sagasa."
"Now, now." said Hiroki
"Will you boys keep quiet back there!" exclaimed several members of the girls volleyball team.
Three hours later, the plane landed in Stockholm Arlanda Airport, the busiest airport in Sweden. The customs process took a long time, mainly due to lack of English by most of the Japanese representatives, but they managed to get through it and, after an hour-long drive, during which they caught sight of Eriksdalsbadet, where Saki and her team would be swimming during the Olympics, and Tele2 Arena, renamed as the Stockholmsarenan for the time of the competition. They soon settled into their hotel in Hammarby Sjöstad, which was originally built as the Olympic Village during Stockholm's original bid to host the 1956 Summer Olympics, and was finally being put to it's original intended use for the Youth Olympics.
"Exhausted!" Hiroki complained as he collapsed onto his bed.
"We'll have a day to recover from jet lag," said Shota, who was sharing with Hiroki throughout their stay "But then we have serious training on Wednesday and Thursday. We have our first match of the group stage on Friday."
"I know, Orihara-kun. But we have free time tomorrow, as long as we don't wander too far from the hotel, wanna go explore?"
"I'd rather stay and train properly. But I'll take you up on that, as long as we invite the others as well."
"On a related note, I know you don't speak any Swedish, but how's your English?"
At that moment, Hiroki received a text from Keiko
"You should've landed by now. Are you and Saki all right?" the text said
"We're both fine. We're settling in now." Hiroki replied
"Who's that?" Shota asked
"My big sister. She just wanted to know if we arrived okay."
The next day, Tuesday August 8th, Hiroki and Shota gathered a few members of the Soccer and Swim teams, including Saki, and went out to explore Stockholm, just the area near the Grand Hôtel though. The group originally included, Hiroki, Saki, Shota, Akifumi, Omi, Kanna, and Akio, and they were accompanied by Yukita, much to Saki's displeasure. However, Hiroki, Saki and Yukita soon broke from the group. Within minutes of leaving the Hotel, they wound up in the forested area of Sickla Park.
"This is such a peaceful spot." Yukita said when they came upon the peaceful park
"You said it, Yukita-san." said Hiroki, taking in the scenery
"Anybody getting hungry." said Saki "We can't read anything around here."
"Excuse me." Yukita said to a local in English "We're is the nearest restaurant?"
"Det finns åtminstone tre ställen att äta på andra sidan av Lugnets Allé, strax utanför parken. [There are at least three places to eat on the other side of Lugnets Allé, just outside of the park.]" The local replied in Swedish before walking away
"I have no idea what he just said." Yukita said to the young couple
"Hold it, what's that sound?" Hiroki asked as they heard soft popping coming from the forested area
"Sounds like airsoft guns." Saki replied
"Nonsense!" said Yukita "Why would anyone be playing airsoft in this park?"
However, when they investigated the noise in the more forested area, there were indeed two people, a young boy and an older girl, playing airsoft. The boy was no older than twelve, but the girl seemed to be the same age as Keiko.
"It really is airsoft!" said Hiroki
"What are they playing here for?" Saki asked
All of a sudden, the boy fired pellets at the group, just as the girl evaded them. The trio exclaimed in pain as the pellets hit them.
"Oh! Jag är så ledsen! [Oh! I'm so sorry!]" said the boy in Swedish
"Watch where you're aiming those!" Hiroki exclaimed in English "And we don't speak Swedish!"
"Turister? [Tourists?]" said the girl before switching to English "Sorry about that."
"Är ni killar kinesiska? [Are you guys Chinese?]" asked the boy
"What did he say?" Saki asked
"He asked if you're Chinese." said the girl "Excuse my brother, he doesn't speak any English. But I assume from your facial features that your Japanese?"
"Correct." said Yukita
"May I offer you some food as an apology?" The trio accepted and they were led to a sushi place called Sjöstadens Sushi at the north end of the park "Order anything, it's on me."
"How gracious." said Saki "We don't have any of the country's currency anyway."
After the five of them place their orders, Hiroki noticed that the girl couldn't take her eyes off him "Is there something on my face?" he asked
"No. It's just... you look... familiar. Where have I seen you before?" the girl asked
"Maybe you'll get a better idea if you ask our names first." said Yukita
"Of course, How rude of us. I'm Henrika Dergermark, this is my brother Ulrik." Henrika switch back to Swedish to address her brother "Presentera dig själv. [Introduce yourself.]"
"Jag är Ulrik Dergermark. Trevligt att träffas. [I'm Ulrik Dergermark. Nice to meet you.]" said Ulrik
"I'm Yukita Sagami. This is my sister, Saki." said Yukita
"Step-sister. I'm Saki Takasugi." said Saki
"And I'm Hiroki Aizawa." said Hiroki
"'Aizawa'? Son of Kakeru Aizawa?" Henrika inquired as the waitress returned with their orders
"Yes he is." Saki replied
"I'm the eldest son of Kakeru and Nana Aizawa, and the younger brother of Keiko Aizawa." said Hiroki
"And how is my friend Keiko?" Henrika asked as she took a sip of her drink
"Is there anyone Keiko-onee-san doesn't know?" Saki asked Hiroki in their native language
"You know my big sister?" Hiroki inquired
"In a way." Henrika replied "I'm actually a member of the Swedish National Women's Soccer Team. As a defensive midfielder, I played against your sister in a friendly match last May, and had lunch with her afterwards. We've been trading e-mails ever since, although neither of us ever says anything worthwhile. (hehahe)"
"Is it just me, or is your boyfriend's sister acquainted with a whole lot of foreigners?" Yukita asked
"It's not just you." Saki replied as Hiroki got a text from Keiko
"Speak of the devil." said Hiroki as he replied to Keiko
"That Keiko?" Henrika asked
"She was asking where I am, and I told her I'm having lunch with Saki-chan, Yukita-san and you." At that moment, Keiko replied asking what restaurant Hiroki was at "At a Sushi place in Hammarby Sjöstad." Hiroki replied "That was weird." Hiroki told them.
After lunch, during which Hiroki filled Henrika in on Keiko's current achievements, the five of them left the restaurant to explore the area, led around by Henrika and Ulrik, but were greeted by an unexpected couple.
"And that was how Keiko advanced her team to the national competition." Hiroki, holding hands with Saki, told Henrika as they exited the Sjöstadens Sushi
"Hiroki! Saki!" exclaimed a familiar voice. They looked ahead and saw that it was Keiko, accompanied by Saito
"Nee-chan? Saito-nii? What are you two doing here?" Hiroki asked, bewildered by their sudden appearance
"What do you think? We're here to cheer you guys on." said Saito
"Keiko? Is that you?" Henrika asked
"It's been awhile, Henrika." Keiko replied, as they punched fists
"It has. That your boyfriend? How do you get so lucky?"
"It was chemistry. Is this squirt your brother?" Henrika nodded and Keiko said something to Ulrik in what she seemed to think was Swedish, only to be corrected by Henrika
"Keiko-onee-san, when did you and Shirayuki-san get here?" Saki asked
"Our plane landed just a half-hour ago." said Saito
"We didn't tell you because we wanted to surprise you." said Keiko "And before you ask, we took a later flight due to that fact that yours was full."
"What about school stuff?" Hiroki inquired
"We're on Summer break too, ya know." said Saito
"What about Nadeshiko Japan?" Saki asked
"I took leave." Keiko replied simply "Oh don't give me that look, little brother. You actually managed to make it into such a big competition before I did. Mom and Dad apologize for not being able to come, but I wouldn't miss this for the world."
"I can't understand a word you are saying to each other, but I'm guessing that you're here to cheer for your brother in the boys soccer tournament?" Henrika asked Keiko
"I am. And for Saki, who's with the swimmers." Keiko replied
"But... where are you staying?"
"We're still looking into it. None of the hotels around here seems to have any vacancies." said Saito
"But you're not going to find any since the Youth Olympics start this Friday." Henrika told them "People are coming from all over Europe, and the world, I would be very surprised if there are still any vacancies at all." Keiko and Saito looked downhearted at this information, and Henrika took out her phone "(sigh) Give me a minute." Henrika dialed a number on her phone "Hej, mamma. En utländsk vän till mig just anlänt i town. Hon och hennes pojkvän kom för att hurra för hennes yngre bror, men har ingen plats att bo på för tillfället. Är det okej om hon stannar med oss? Uh-huh. Ja. Tack. [Hello, Mom. A foreign friend of mine just arrived in town. She and her boyfriend came to cheer for her younger brother, but have no place to stay at the moment. Is it alright if she stays with us? Uh-huh. Yeah. Thanks.]" Henrika hung up and turned to Keiko and Saito "Although it's short notice, my parents said you can stay with us."
"Thank you so much!" Keiko exclaimed, hugging Henrika
"Varför tror a par utlänningar har bo med oss? [Why do a couple of foreigners have to stay with us?]" Ulrik asked his sister
"Därför att de inte har någon plats att gå för nu. [Because they have no place to go for now.]" Henrika replied as Keiko released her "Och Keiko är a vän till mig. [And Keiko is a friend of mine.]"
"I guess it pays to have some friends in other countries." said Yukita
"You said it." said Saito
"But now that we know that Keiko-onee-san is going to be watching us, we have to do well." Saki said to Hiroki, then dropping her voice to a whisper. "We're also gonna have a hard time find time to be alone."
They spent the next several hours exploring more of Stockholm, occasionally coming across a few young athletes also exploring.
Around 1:00, they decided to take a bus to see Tele2 Arena. They got off the bus just a few blocks from Tele2 Arena, renamed as the Stockholmsarenan for the time of the competition.
"So this is Tele2 Arena!" Hiroki exclaimed when they caught sight of the stadium.
"It's incredible!" said Saki
"They revert straight to Japanese when they get excited, don't they?" Henrika asked Keiko
"Yes, they do." Keiko replied
"Shall we go in?" Saito asked
"I'm not sure people are allowed in when there's no game to be played." said Henrika
"Don't be such a sourpuss." said Hiroki and Saki as they ran ahead with Ulrik right behind them
"Those two." said Keiko
"Where did Sagami-san go?" Saito asked, noticing that Yukita was no longer with them
"She said she'd just take the next bus back to the hotel." said Henrika "I don't think someone like her can keep up with a bunch of athletes."
"Too true." said Keiko
The three of them followed the kids into the arena and found them in the bleachers
"Don't run off like that!" Keiko told the kids then catching sight of the field, where a training game between two halves of the Brazilian youth team was going on
"Fantastisk. [Amazing.]" said Henrika
"You said it." said Keiko
"The Brazilians are incredible!" said Hiroki
"You might be facing this team if you make it through the group stage, right?" Saki inquired
"Brazil is a sure, and I must admit, I'm not too confident on facing their forwards." Hiroki replied as they watched a Brazilian forward steal the ball in a flash, then send it into the goal "I'm really not confident." Saki patted him on the shoulder
"What are the talking about?" Henrika asked Keiko
"Never you mind." Keiko replied
"Isn't that Coach Neymar down there?" Saito asked as he pointed him out at the bench below. Neymar appeared to be in a conversation with someone
"That's the coach alright." said Hiroki
"Who's that he's talking to?" Keiko asked
"I'm not sure." Hiroki replied
They made their way down to the bench and found Neymar still in conversation with his acquaintance
"Good afternoon, Santos-san." Keiko called when they got near, catching their attention
"Please, call me Neymar." Neymar replied as he and his acquaintance noticed them
"He speaks Japanese!?" Henrika asked Saito, to which he never replied
"What brings you here, coach?" Hiroki asked
"Checking out the field before our first game." Neymar replied
"Thanks for taking care of my brother and his teammates." said Keiko
"To coach a youth team with so much potential, the pleasure's all mine."
"Who's your friend?" Saito inquired of the man behind Neymar. The man stepped forward and they got a better look at him
"Oh my gosh!" Keiko exclaimed when she recognized the very tall and lean man "Y-y-y-you-you're.... Zlatan Ibrahimović."
"In the flesh." said Zlatan
"Who?" Henrika inquired
"You're from the same country and you don't even know?!" Keiko exclaimed indignantly "Zlatan Ibrahimović used to play for Malmö, Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, F.C. Barcelona, A.C. Milan, Paris Saint-Germain F.C., and Manchester United. He was also the captain and the all-time leading scorer of the Swedish Men's National Soccer team. Six foot five tall, and hard like a rock! He also scored all of Sweden's goals in the first ever match held in Friends Arena, including that wonderful 30-yard bicycle kick! I can't believe you don't know about one of the best players Sweden ever had."
"It's no big deal. That was all years ago." said Zlatan
"Ibrahimović will be commentating for the boys' tournament." Neymar told them "I must say I'm interested to hear how he views our young athletes. Ow!" The ball the Brazil Youth team was using bounced off the back of Neymar's head
"Desculpe! Meu mau. [Sorry! My bad.]" said the player who kicked it
"Miúdos. [Kids.]" Neymar said playfully as he threw the ball back in
"Now I really have to play well." Hiroki said to Saki
At that moment, Zlatan addressed Hiroki "So this is the famous keeper, Hee-yo-key Aye-zay-way."
"It's 'Hiroki Aizawa'." Hiroki corrected him
"That's right. Forgive me, I'm hopeless with Japanese names."
"Don't feel bad. A lot of westerners are the same." said Keiko
"I must say, I'm a bit surprised that the eldest son of Japan's Knight plays in a defensive position instead of offense."
"I just prefer the backseat." said Hiroki "I prefer not to be in the spotlight."
"Like someone else we know." Saito said to Keiko
"Hai, I love you too." Keiko replied
"Nevertheless, Hiroki's one of the best young keepers I've ever seen." said Neymar "The best instincts. Even my old teammate Jefferson wouldn't have anything to criticize."
"Praise from two of the world's best players." Saki said to Hiroki
At that moment, the rest of Hiroki's teammates entered the stands and were watching the practice game with enthusiasm. Unfortunately, the Brazilians noticed soon enough and left the field, clearly not wanting to reveal their formations and tactics to a competing team before the Olympics officially started.
"Well, how do you like that?" said Neymar "The instant our boys arrive, the players stop practicing."
"They probably don't want to reveal their moves before the tournament starts this Friday." said Zlatan
"Why does the tournament need to start the day before the opening ceremony?" Saki asked
"Because of how many teams are partaking in the tournament." Hiroki told her "The IOC has organized it so that we can finish the tournament within the two week time-frame before the Closing Ceremony."
"And for that reason, there are going to be four matches a day during the group stage, and only six teams will make it to the knockout stage." said Neymar
"Just out of curiosity, who's coaching the Brazilians?" Keiko asked
"I've heard of him."
"Me too." said Henrika
"It's getting late." said Neymar, checking his watch "And I wanna brief the team on how our training regimen's gonna go."
"Yeah, my coach wants the team together too." said Saki, displaying a text she just got from her coach
Neymar looked up to the stands and spotted Itsuki, who gave a thumbs-up to show he had heard. Itsuki then began shepherding everyone back outside.
"We should get going too." Henrika said to Keiko and Saito "My place is down south, so we need to take a different bus." "Noted." said Keiko before turning to Hiroki and Saki "Train hard, but don't hurt yourselves."
"No need to tell us that." said Hiroki as Keiko kissed them both on the cheek.
After Saito ruffled Hiroki's hair in farewell, he and Keiko followed Henrika, who was holding Ulrik by the hand, out of the arena
"I need to be somewhere too." said Zlatan "Listen for me during the tournament." and with that, Zlatan left the arena via a different exit.
Hiroki, Saki and Neymar met up with the rest of the Japan Youth Team and left the arena. Hiroki, Saki and the others went back to their hotel, while Keiko and Saito went with Henrika and Ulrik to their home. Hiroki and Saki were a bit nervous with the thought that Keiko would be there to cheer for them, but at the same time, they couldn't help but feel a boost of confidence.