Inter-High Intermission, part 1
The weekend following the Inter-High Qualifiers had come and gone. It was Monday again, and that meant it was time to go back to school.
Monday June 7th;
"Ohayōgozaimasu." Keiko said sleepily as she walked into the living room
"Keiko. You're still here?" said Mito as Keiko sat down at the table
"The main tournament still doesn't start for another week." said Kakeru "So she doesn't have morning practice for the next few days."
"Though we still have normal afternoon practice." said Keiko through a yawn. She then noticed Hiroki and Ryo's glum faces "What's with you two?"
"Our middle school tournament started yesterday." said Ryo "The boys team advanced, Hiroki not letting in a single goal, but... we lost in the first round!" Ryo cried, burying her face in her arms
"There there." said Keiko patting Ryo's head "Not the end of the world. You still have one more tournament this Winter, and then another two years to play before moving on to High School."
"I heard the boys match was a 5-0 blowout." said Nana "Nice Keeping, Hiroki."
"Thanks, Mom." said Hiroki "I still wish Ryo's team had made it through though."
"If only I had done a better job as a Forward!" Ryo cried
"Will you stop crying?" said Kakeru "You were up against last year's runner-ups, you couldn't have expected a win anyway. You'll have another chance this Winter. Just prove that you don't deserve to be taken off the regulars in the meantime."
"I'm so sorry we didn't see any of your matches." said Nana
"It's all right. You were busy." said Keiko "What about you, Koichi?"
"The Kamakura Wolves are playing in the City Tournament, but it doesn't start 'til Wednesday." Koichi explained through a mouthful of rice
"Don't talk with your mouth full!" Nana snapped
"I wish you boys the best of luck." said Keiko as she got up from the table "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go get dressed and be on my way."
"But, Sweetheart, what about breakfast?" Nana called after Keiko
"I'll buy some bread at school." Keiko called back
"Don't forget your bento."
On the way to school;
"Kei-chan!" Yuki exclaimed slapping Keiko's back when she caught up with her "Walking to school without me? That's a first."
"Sorry, Yuki." said Keiko "I'm just so tired, I forgot to wait for you."
"You and me both, girl."
"Hey, girls." called Suzuka ahead of them. Miki was with her "Ohayou!"
"Suzuka, Miki, Ohayou to you two as well." said Yuki when they caught up with them "Afternoon practice?"
"Beach soccer as usual. No reason to go through the rigorous stuff so early in the week."
"I hear there's a new student joining the freshman class today." said Miki as they continued to school
"I think I remember Mai saying that." said Keiko through another yawn
"Hey, girls!" called Saito as he ran up to them
"Ohayou, Saito-kun." Yuki replied as they came to another halt
"You're right on time, manager." said Suzuka
"Hey, Keiko-chan." Saito said to Keiko, but she didn't respond
"We'll go on ahead." said Miki
"Talk to him." Yuki whispered in Keiko's ear, then the girls were gone
"Keiko-chan, you've been avoiding me for the last week and a half." Keiko still didn't respond "If I did something wrong, please tell me, and I won't do it again. Keiko-chan, please say something." Keiko still wouldn't talk "Do you wanna break up with me, is that it?"
"No it's not, that's not it at all!" Keiko said hastily
"It wasn't you, it was me."
"I just don't know how to talk to you, after what I did to you."
"I don't understand."
"The night I ran away from home, and the night Ryo was raped. We had sex two nights in a row. I used you to make me feel better. It wasn't fair to you, I'm so sorry."
"Keiko-chan," said Saito as he hugged Keiko "Making you feel better is what I'm here for. Don't worry yourself about it. I didn't mind in the slightest."
"You got to have sex with me, so of course you didn't mind." said Keiko, her voice suddenly serious
"There, uh, may be some truth in that too."
"And you realize your hand is a long way south of my waist." Saito realized what she meant and backed off "Pervert."
"It's all right, I've gotten used to it. And thanks for putting me at ease. Now that we've straightened ourselves out, let's get to school before we're late."
And the couple continued, hand in hand, on their way to school
"Dammit!" Keiko exclaimed as they ran to their class "We walked too slow, and now we're late."
They reached their class just as the final morning bell rang
"Safe!" Saito exclaimed closing the classroom's rear door behind them
"Just barely, you two. said Miho
"Good thing Sensei's not here yet." said Yuzuki
Keiko and Saito looked up front and saw that Mai really wasn't there yet
"We really are safe." said Keiko as they took their seats
"How'd it go?" Yuki asked and Keiko gave a thumbs-up in response
"How'd what go?" Miho asked
"None of your business, Miho." said Keiko
The forward door opened and Mai walked in.
"Alright class, settle down and in your seats." said Mai
"Sensei, look how big you are!" said a girl in the front row
"I know." said Mai with a hand on her slightly larger belly "I'm in my fifteenth week now. But enough about that. Before we begin, I'd like you all to welcome a new student. Come on in, miss."
The new student walked in. It was a girl with waist length blond hair and blue eyes. Even from the back row, Keiko had no trouble recognizing her, but was still surprised at who it was: It was Chloe Lafayette, who Keiko had played against not even two weeks ago.
"Chloe?" Keiko blurted out
"You know her?" Yuzuki asked
Chloe wrote her name on the whiteboard in both English and Kanji "Nice to meet you all." said Chloe, in Japanese "I'm Chloe Lafayette. Just call me Chloe."
"She can speak Japanese now too." said Keiko
"Do you know her?" Yuzuki repeated
"Miss Lafayette is from France, and, for personal reasons apparently, has decided to study here in Japan." Mai explained
"She's such a hottie!" said one of the boys in front
"Blond hair, oh yeah!" said another boy
Several of the girls were shooting the boys angry faces with these comments
"Yuki Nonomiya, please raise your hand." said Mai, Yuki did as instructed "Chloe, please take the empty seat in front of Yuki."
"Yes ma'am." said Chloe, she then noticed Keiko in the back row and ran up to her "Keiko! I told you we'd meet again! What fortune we're in the same class."
"Indeed. Your Japanese has improved too." Keiko replied
"What about my uniform? Does it suit me?"
"Uh, yeah. It does."
"Do you know her?" Yuzuki repeated for the third time
"Yeah, Keiko-chan, spill it." said Saito
"Chloe is a Forward on 'Les Bleues', the French National Women's Soccer Team." Keiko explained "We played against each other during my last match with Nadeshiko Japan. They called her the Queen of Brittany, since she's the best female player in that region."
"That's true, but then I quitted." said Chloe, but nobody seemed to understand what she meant "That team's method of soccer was boring, very boring. So I quitted!" The entire class gasped when they figured out what she was talking about "Shall we have lunch together later?"
At lunch later;
"So let me get this straight." said Miho as the six of them ate in the lunch room "Bored with the methods of the French National Women's Team, you quit the team in order to play more fun soccer here in Japan."
"Oui." said Chloe as she crammed a forkful of Ramen into her mouth "Not to mention you people have the best food, and education."
"I'll never understand foreigners." said Keiko "Though you did practice your Japanese. You seem to be fully aware of our customs as well."
"I told you we'd be seeing each other again soon." said Chloe
"You two played against each other during Nadeshiko's match against France the other week, right?" Yuzuki asked
"Oui, we did. We gave each other a bit of a hard time too." Chloe confirmed "They didn't call me the Queen of Brittany for nothing."
"How long you been living in Kamakura?" Saito asked
"Since last Wednesday. Gosh I love Japan. I won't deny that the team wasn't happy to see me go. My family was against it too. But I just couldn't continue playing like that. It was all 'by the book' and no room for playing your own game. That's why I chose Enoshima as my school of enrollment. That, and Keiko was here."
"Figures." said Keiko
"By the way, Keiko."
"I've been curious, are you and Saito dating?" Chloe asked
"What gave us away?" Keiko replied
"Anyway," said Yuki "Now that you're enrolled in Enoshima, what are you gonna do now?"
"Where do I sign-up for the girls soccer team?" Chloe asked
Still lunch break, Yuzuki and Miho went back to class while Keiko, Saito and Yuki led Chloe to one of the third year classes after picking up a sign-up sheet in the faculty room.
"Captain Suzuka Akitsuki." said Yuki when the entered Class 3-B, Suzuka and Miki's class
"Yes?" Suzuka replied
"This is Chloe Lafayette." Keiko introduced
"Bonjour." said Chloe in greeting
"Ah, vous devez être l'étudiante de transfert française dont on a parlé dans toute l'école. [Ah, you must be the French transfer student that's been the talk of the whole school.]" said Suzuka in French
"Vous parlez français? [You speak French?]" Chloe asked in French as well
"She speaks French?" Keiko, Yuki and Saito said together
"Je parle le français. Assez couramment. Avec l'anglais, l'espagnol et l'allemand. [I speak French. Quite fluently. Along with English, Spanish and German.]" said Suzuka
"Japonais is fine." said Chloe in Japanese
"Alright then." said Suzuka in her native tongue as well "What can I do for you?"
"I want to join the girls soccer team, Captain." Chloe told her passing the filled out sheet to Suzuka
"You realize that it's too late for you to have a place to play in the tournament."
"I can still cheer you guys on and practice." said Chloe earnestly "I just wanna have fun. Unlike those boring snobs back home."
"Just what I wanted to hear. Welcome to the team."
"Afternoon practice is at three." said Miki "Do you have a swimsuit?"
"Yes." Chloe replied curiously
"Then bring it."
"A swimsuit?" Chloe inquired when they left the classroom
"You'll see." said Keiko
"Beach Soccer. Beach Soccer." several of the girls cheered when they arrived at their usual practice spot
"So this is why I was told to bring my swimsuit." said Chloe, who was wearing a pearl-white string bikini
"Yeah, for beach soccer" said Keiko, who was wearing her usual bikini as well "We just got through with the preliminaries, now we can relax by doing something fun. Saito, what are you staring at?!"
"Nothing! Nothing at all." Saito said hastily
"Saito-kun," said Moka "We all know that Chloe-san is pretty attractive, but you have Keiko-chan."
"I wasn't staring!"
"Don't be so hard on him." said Chloe "He is a guy surrounded by a bunch of pretty girls, ya know."
"Now that I see you in a swimsuit, though your face, hair and eyes are different, I see that you have the same figure, and three sizes, as Keiko-chan. You look like a French version of her." said Amuro "Welcome to the team, Newbie."
"All right everyone." said Mai "The sun is pretty strong today, so put on sunscreen before we start. And another thing; Since midterms start tomorrow, after today practice will be suspended until they finish Thursday afternoon. Normally, we would've stopped activities last week so that you could study, but since we had the qualifiers to get through, the school cut us some slack. You can continue practicing on your own, but don't neglect your studies."
"Yes coach!" the entire team chorused
After applying protection from the sun, practice officially began. Keiko was paired with Chloe for the first Forwards for one team. Everyone was in awe at the performance these two players managed to pull of by working together rather than against one another.
"(Peeeeep) Keiko, Chloe, Suzuka, Moka, Amuro, sub out." Mai called after fifteen minutes
"Yes, Coach." the five of them replied, and Yuki, Tsukasa, Miki, Sachiko and Momoko took their places
"You two work well together." said Suzuka as they sat down on the stairs for their break
"Merci, Capitaine [Thanks, Captain.]" said Chloe "When Keiko and I played against each other, we gave each other a really hard time. Never let the other out of our sights."
"Ain't that the truth." said Keiko "Feels better work with you than against you."
"Agreed." said Moka
"I still can't believe you decided on a whim to stay here in Japan." said Keiko
"If I hadn't met you that day, I probably would've gone back to boring old France." Chloe admitted "Mind you, my family wasn't too happy about this."
"Non, nous ne l'étions pas! [No, we were not!]" called a voice behind them, in French
The sound of the voice caught everyone's attention, causing all activity to stop as they turned to see who it was. It was a blond man who looked a bit like Chloe.
"Léon? [Leon?]" said Chloe
"Who's he?" Keiko asked
"My older brother. He's 22." Chloe replied "Que fais-tu ici? [What are you doing here?]" She asked Leon in her native language
"Je devrais te demander ça! [I should be asking you that!]" Leon replied "Mère et Père sont furieux! Quitter l'équipe, rester au Japon et changer d'école sans permission. Tu fais toujours ces choses. Tu vas revenir en France. [Mother and Father are furious! Leaving the team, staying in Japan and changing schools without permission. You always do these things. You're coming back to France.]"
"Je n'irai pas! Qu,est-ce qu'il y a de mal à vouloir suivre mon propre chemin dans la vie? [I am not! What's wrong with wanting to follow my own path in life?]"
"Ton chemin a été choisi pour toi. [Your path has been chosen for you.]"
"Je refuse d'accepter cela! [I refuse to accept that!]"
"You understand French, what are they saying?" Tsukasa asked Mai
"This is private." Mai replied
"Espèce de petite fille stupide! Le monde ne tourne pas autour de tes «besoins et des désirs». Tu apportes la honte sur le nom de Lafayette. [You stupid little girl! The world does not revolve around your 'needs and wants'. You bring shame to the Lafayette name.]" Leon continued
"Je m'en fiche! [Hell if I care!]" said Chloe
"Excusez-moi. [Excuse me.]" said Suzuka in French "J'apprécierais vraiment si vous ne dérangiez pas une de mes joueuses. [I would really appreciate it if you didn't bother one of my players.]"
"Restez en dehors de ça, l'étrangère! [Stay out of this, outsider!]" said Leon
"Qui est «l'étrangère»? [Who's the 'outsider'?]" Suzuka asked "Pour autant que je puisse voir, TU es le seul qui n'a pas sa place ici. Chloé fait partie de mon équipe maintenant. Fin de l'histoire. [As far as I can see, YOU are the one who doesn't belong here. Chloe is a part of my team now. End of story.]"
"Dernière chance, Chloé. Tu as jusqu'à la fin de la semaine pour reprendre tes esprits. Si tu refuses, tes parents vont te renier et te déshériter. [Last chance, Chloe. You have until the end of the week to come to your senses. If you refuse, your parents will disown and disinherit you.]" Leon told her then took his leave
"Chacal! [Jackal!]" Chloe yelled at Leon's retreating back, the turned to Suzuka "Merci. [Thanks.]"
"No problem." Suzuka replied in Japanese
"What was that all about? I couldn't understand a word." said Saito
"As I said, my family is not happy with me." Chloe replied, speaking in Japanese again "If I don't change my mind, and return to France by the end of the week, I'll be disowned and disinherited."
"Now that's harsh." said Yuki and Haruhi in unison
"It's fine by me, I'm my own woman."
"In that case, there's no need to worry about anything." said Mai "All right everyone, back to practice."
"Yes, Coach!" the team chorused
And with their new friend and teammate, the Girls continued the last team practice they would have before midterms.