And as Sanada's hand went up, up, up, she thought she noticed—was she the only one?—the smallest pause, the slightest hesitation, before –she sucked in a breath, the blood pounding in her ears—his hand came crashing down like a unrelenting tidal wave on the beach. A collective gasp was heard in the same moment.

Yukimura's face snapped to the side, staying there for a while. In the ear-splitting drone of silence, as she stared in wide-eyed worry, Sayuri saw it for sure. Saw a smile of anger, of irony…of fondness, of self-mocking.

After what felt like hours, Yukimura's head slowly swiveled back like an owl to face his vice captain and close friends. And everyone let out the collective breath they had sucked in, saw the look he and Sanada exchanged, heard the unspoken words—

A kind gaze, accompanied by a gruff nod. We've got high school, Yukimura.

I'm sorry. A wry twist of the lips, a defeated lift and drop of the shoulders.

Sayuri couldn't help but wonder. Sorry for what?

Sorry for making Sanada slap him? Sorry for losing? Sorry for not being the perfect, flawless captain that they had made him out as?

But even as she thought it, Sayuri already felt an unhappy squeeze inside; because she knew, somewhere deep down, even if she didn't understand or didn't agree.

He was apologizing to his regulars, to his team, to the whole of Rikkaidai…to himself.

I'm sorry, his eyes held the silent message in them. The grace he had displayed the moment he stepped on the court, the strength that had earned him his position as the Child of God—slowly, slowly, it was ebbing away like the tides of the ocean. Floating inconspicuously away, farther and farther away, out of reach and out of sight. Those sharp royal blue pools had lost their bright edge, and now were just sad, sad, shining sapphires.

I'm sorry, his eyes still said.

I'm sorry for being human.