A/N: Tadaa! Before you all read this, I should warn you that despite usually writing 'soccer' when I'm writing about the game so that people don't get confused, I completely forgot. So you're going to get 'football' [Well, that's what it's meant to be called, anyway…-shot by everyone-]. Alrightee then, enjoy!
No one sees it coming.
Nana's record is clean at the beginning of the game. Despite being given the title 'Little Witch', she has not committed an offence that would send her off the pitch. Has she made any fouls? Yes, of course - on an international stage, it is impossible not to. But she has never received a yellow card before.
No one sees the red card coming.
Not her, not her teammates on Nadeshiko Japan, not her coach, not even the opponents. And not Kakeru - he is the most shocked out of everyone.
Even so, there is something even worse after the red card -
'...and the winners are...'
- and no one sees it coming.
"Can you help me out? I'm trying to complete this new technique and if you practice with me, I think I could get a better feel for it." Kakeru asks this nervously, his eyes shifting from the floor, to the classroom's walls, momentarily at her face and then back down again.
Nana never turns down a request from Kakeru to play football together - it's what they do. She doesn't point this out, though, because she knows Kakeru will get even more edgy than he already is. "Sure. I'll see you at the playground, after dinner. Same time as usual."
"Great!" Kakeru chirps, almost too perky. Following this point, one will expect the two friends to part ways.
However, as Nana reminds him, they walk back from school together anyway, so he could have just saved it for when their routes split off.
In true Kakeru fashion, he turns red, splutters an agreement and leads on.
While Kakeru is known to have his nervous bouts, he is not like this all the time, usually more comfortable around her.
She doesn't need to ask to know that he''s worried about something.
She does find out just what that 'something' is and it's sooner rather than later.
Their practice goes as it usually does, with Kakeru trying to get past Nana, though this time he seems to be more distracted. During the pauses of their scuffle, she doesn't miss that he opens his mouth, as if to speak, only to shut it again.
Nana won't say that Kakeru is going easy on her, but she can't say that he's giving it his all in this practice, either.
She stops the football with her left heel. "Kakeru. What's the matter?"
"N-nothing." He averts his eyes away from her, quickly, making it obvious that it isn't 'nothing'.
"Come on, I can tell something is bothering you." Nana taps the ball away lightly and walks closer to Kakeru, peering closer to his face.
The proximity seems to make Kakeru uncomfortable, because he's turning even more fidgety, and his face has a faint, pink tinge to it.
"Ka-ke-ru," she enunciates his name precisely, drawing her face so close that their noses are almost touching.
"Okay! Okay!" Kakeru jumps back and waves his arms around. "I'll tell you. But it'll sound stupid."
She chuckles, "I'm sure it's not."
"Well," he lowers his voice slightly, "I was going to ask if you were okay."
"Yeah. I mean, you got a red card in the semi-finals, didn't you? That means you won't be able to participate in the world cup finals," he says. "I just thought that you'd be disappointed." He chances a glance at her, watching her carefully.
It's as she expects from him. Even though she has not shown him any external signs of being upset (and to be honest, she is trying not to even think about it), he's able to read her. Nearly anyone can tell what Kakeru may be thinking, but only Kakeru can do the same for her.
"I...am," she admits.
She walks over to the playground bench, settling down in the space she always occupies. After a moment, Kakeru joins her.
"Hey Seven," Kakeru begins, "what actually happened? I could only see the accident from the stands, but it didn't look like something you would do."
"I'm not sure," Nana says, and as the memory flashes through her mind, the disappointment seeps back in, as well. "Maybe I was just desperate."
It's disappointment at herself, more than anything.
Nana Mishima was at the top of her game during the women's world cup tournament. She was Nadeshiko Japan's second top scorer (the first being Mai Murasaki), and was raring to go in their semi-final against the American team. They were at a stand-still for the first half of the match, but by half-time they were already tired, due to the combination of the blistering heat of the day as well as the effort put in from running up and down the pitch. The Americans were no easy foe to contend with, being regulars to qualify past the preliminary rounds; they weren't as tired as the Japanese.
The second half continued at very much the same pace - until an American forward put in a goal at ten minutes to the end.
A two minutes later, Nana committed a serious foul, earning herself a red card.
Nana thinks she deserves it.
A yellow card will have been too generous. After all, the American had clear possession of the ball, when Nana tackled her, as her opponent tried to kick it upwards. Somehow or another, Nana managed to kick her head. It was an accident, of course. But it was an accident that warranted a red card, nevertheless.
And of course, as the 'Little Witch', reporters snatched up the opportunity to blow the whole incident out of proportion. They took pictures of her on the way back from the match, printing them onto magazines with captions that named her a shame to Japanese football. Though women's football is generally tamer and less foul-prone than the men's, there are still other incidents and Nana's isn't the first one. Yet they were making it up to be as if she had murdered the player, or something.
It leaves a bitter taste in her mouth, just thinking about it.
While Nana deserves the ban from the next game - a red card is a red card - she doesn't think she deserves that kind of reputation.
"It's kind of ironic how I fouled an American to get this kind of press." After all, Nana has experienced this kind of coverage before, back when she was still playing in America. It's why she returned to Japan in the first place.
Oh dear, Kakeru looks troubled again. He wants to comfort her, she's sure, but he doesn't seem to be able to find the right words for it. She smiles at this, because she doesn't need him to actually say anything. Just knowing he's by her side is enough.
"Don't worry about me too much," she tells him, as it looks like his brain is just about to explode from overthinking.
"Kakeru," she says, "I'll be fine. Sure, I would love to play in the finals, but I can't. It's a miracle that we're even in the finals after that red card of mine. Mai-chan and Isshiki-san were amazing with scoring those last two goals." She grins, now, showing Kakeru that she really is okay. "That being said, they're going to play in my stead, and win us the finals. I trust my teammates."
Her best friend is convinced, and he smiles widely and nods.
Nana hasn't just assured Kakeru, but also herself.
Nadeshiko can do this.
They have to.
"Watch me! I'll score all the goals in this match, and the press will be on me," Mai announces proudly to Nana, "So don't take your eyes off the match for even a second."
"What she means to say, is to leave it to us," says the captain, Isshiki-san."
"I'm counting on you, Captain, Mai," says Nana, from her seat on the bench. She also turns to the rest of her teammates. "Good luck, everyone! Let's win this!"
A cheer runs through the Japanese team.
Nana's eyes shine as she watches her teammates run onto the pitch. Their opponents, the German team also make their way onto the field, tall and most definitely strong. The formal greetings are exchanged, national anthems are sung, and the game officially begins.
Shock runs through the spectators, as the German team manage to put a goal within the first ten minutes of the game.
Nana's not worried at this point. It is a lucky shot for the German forward, as she kicked the ball into the corner through the unwary defenders. She's sure that Isshiki will make sure they tighten up their defence.
If anything, Mai will be annoyed that they've let in a goal already. And there she is, stealing the ball away from a German mid-fielder and zipping past the others. She manages to take a shot as well, though Nana doesn't think it's from the very best spot possible. Nana is right - the goalkeeper saves it, without much trouble.
Then comes to counter attack.
Nana bites her lip. The shot the forward put in is good; she uses her height to put pressure on the defenders, and manages to header a ball into the goal straight from the pass she receives from the German's No. 8.
Rather than luck, the second goal was down to skill.
The Germas are ecstatic. They high five each other, while the Japanese players look tense.
Two goals, and it's only been fifteen minutes into the game.
Unfortunately, they are too tense.
She watches as their pass-work becomes sloppy, leaving many of them easy targets of the Germans to pick off the ball from.
The third goal is welcomed by a roar from the crowd. Three goals in the first half, Unbelievable
The Japanese players themselves can't seem to fathom what's going on. Mai's confusion is plain and Isshiki is gritting her teeth.
Fortunately, the half-time whistle blows mercifully before the German team can scored another goal and embarrass them further.
In the locker-room, there is a deathly silence. Nana can't bring herself to try and encourage them; she has not been playing, and she doesn't know why they were playing so badly. Their positioning is all over the place. A little voice in her head whispers that it's because she's not playing, but she shoos it away. Her team should be good even without her. Most of them are more experienced than her, after all.
Their coach, usually always enthusiastic, complimenting each player on their beauty, does not have anything to say either.
Mai becomes sick of the atmosphere, storming back outside and declaring that they were still going to win this.
Going back into the game, Mai is relentless. Nana watches as she dances past the German defence. Though Nana can't hear Mai, she is sure that the girl is throwing taunts at her opponents, who look ready to ram her down. She takes advantage of that, and makes it to the penalty area.
Everyone holds their breath.
Wild cheers erupt from the stands (they are playing on home-ground, so it is expected) and the Japanese team's spirit lifts. Their confidence is restored as Nana's goal gives them hope. The score is 1-3 to Japan. They can still turn this around.
Their celebration is short-lived.
The point gap widens to three again, much to Nana's dismay.
The Germans don't seem to tolerate that one goal, and are eager to win.
Nana feels at itch in her legs. She wants to play. She wants to get out there and do something about the situation. She can hardly bare it, watching her teammates as their morale is pummeled back into the ground.
No, no, no.
Their morale is not just beaten, it is broken.
Nana is on her feet now, her body getting up on instinct.
Mai is glaring at the opponents and Isshiki looks lost. It's not the time for Mai to lose her cool. It's not the time for their captain to hesitate.
It's certainly not the time for that, but their opponents don't care.
The score is ridiculous. How on earth does Germany have a five point gap ahead of Japan? It's simply a ridiculous number.
There is a pain that rips through her chest as she watches her teammates be completely shut down. They can't attack. They can't defend.
Nana finds herself at the edge of the sidelines.
To many, it's only a painted white line, that will faint in time. To her, it's the boundary between being able to play her beloved game alongside her teammates. No...that's not the boundary. The boundary is the red card.
The damn red card.
All because of her stupid foul…
But that red card should have been enough. Being banned from playing should have been enough. Losing like this with a score of six, was just -
The whistle blows - that's the end of the game.
The Germans celebrate, and the crowd shouts along at the stunning result.
1-7. That is the score that Japan is humiliated with.
A score of seven. It's unheard of in a match like this. It's an absolute shame to the team.
Several commentaries run over the match at the same time, in Japanese, German and several others. The one that stands out to her is the one spoken in English.
"'...and the winners are...Germany! With an outrageous total score of seven! Seven!"
It feels like it's all her fault.
It's supposed to be her name.
It's supposed to be the number she has on her team.
It's not supposed to be the number that punishes her.
A/N: You may all be wondering...so what was that about? This is part of the Twelve Shots of Summer Challenge. This is the seventh week and the prompt was 'crime and punishment'. See, I would have gone and done something that was actually related to the prompt but World Cup ended this week. So this happened.
Congratulations to Germany for winning (even though I was rooting for Argentina in the finals). But man, the semi-final with Brazil vs Germany was brutal and it was painful to watch. Germany had seven goals, like I don't know what happened to the Brazil defence. (The German strikers were brilliant, though seven was overkill). That's what happens when their leading players are benched, I guess.
I translated this into Area no Kishi because Nana's Seven so a death-score of seven seemed appropriate. 'Sides, Germany the 2003/2007 women's football world cup, while Japan won the 2012 one, so I think this match-up is plausible. One red card can do many things...Moral of the story (for both Brazil and this fic): Don't foul people. It'll come and bite you in the butt later.
(Also, if I have anything against the canon, I apologize. I've watched the anime, but the manga hasn't been translated further...and I haven't read the raws, so…)
That said, go and read the other entries to the Twelve Shots of Summer Challenge, which you can find on as a forum~ Thanks for reading!
- Dina (19/7/2014 …..AHH IT'S THE SEVENTH MONTH ;-;)