The Way To a Touchdown
Disclaimer: Eyeshield 21 belongs to Inagaki Riichiro and Murata Yusuke, etc.
Notes: Thanks so much for all the reviews! And yes, btw, other couples I like is HiruMamo, KakeiMizumachi, AkabaKotaro, etc….so there are hints of them in this fic, haha, but of course it's a ShinSena fic so!
By the next day, the snow had melted, leaving a rather muddy but usable field. Shin and Sena were doing weight training in the weight room so they didn't have to slip and slide all over the mud, unlike several of the others like Monta, Ikkyuu, and Musashi who came into the locker room completely splattered from head to toe in mud from their training – Monta and Ikkyuu moreso than Musashi since it looked like both of them had slipped quite a bit, trying to catch while sliding around on the field.
But what really took everyone by surprise was when the locker room burst open late that afternoon when everyone was changing.
Yukimitsu was the first to let out a rather high-pitched squeal followed by loud yelps from the Hah-Hah brothers, Ikkyuu passing out, red-faced on the ground, and Mizumachi's loud, nonchalant greeting.
Sena whirled to stare, jumping as he quickly pulled down the jersey he had just been about to strip off.
"Suzuna?" He stared at the small cheerleader who was looking a lot less peppy and actually more like flaming with anger as she stomped into the locker room and past horrified football players who quickly tried to cover themselves up – some with more success than others.
"You!" she shouted, coming to a stop in front of Sena, pointing her finger right at his nose.
Sena shrank back. "Huh?" he asked, completely bewildered and feeling very much unjustly accused – especially when every guy in the locker room turned to glare at him.
"Look what you did!" Suzuna said.
Sena was even more confused. "What I did?" he echoed. As far as he remembered, he had only seen Suzuna once today and that was when she burst into the weight room to cheer for everyone who was training there before she ran back out to go cheer for the next group of people. Of course she did that so often that no one really paid much attention to her except for Ikkyuu who would stop and stare bashfully until Monta said something about Suzuna being flat-chested or something like that.
"Y-Yeah, what did he do?" Monta, Sena's reliable, wonderful best friend spoke up.
That meant Suzuna's anger turned, directed towards him. "It's your fault too!" she accused him.
Monta's eyes widened. "Hey, what did we do?"
"I was so busy helping you guys with the team, I totally forgot about the first year field trip!" she said. "Why didn't either of you remind me?" Suzuna demanded.
Sena exchanged blank looks with Monta until Monta's eyes lit up and he slapped his fist down in his palm. "Ah, right!" he said. "Remember, I think they announced it a few weeks back during morning announcements," Monta said. "The first year field trip was moved up this year so we're going… when was it…"
"This weekend!" Suzuna said, glaring at them.
In fact, Sena had been so busy with football he had completely forgotten about the field trip. "Where is it anyway?" he asked.
"At some hot spring resort… isn't that what it is every year?" Togano spoke up.
"Yeah, hey! They're first years too. Blame them!" Monta said, pointing to the three Huh-huh brothers.
Suzuna bonked him on the head. "Obviously they wouldn't pay attention to that! Why would I ask them?" she said.
The Huh-huh brothers looked slightly offended but probably figured it was better not to get involved so they didn't protest.
"Well we can't go, we have practice," Sena said, cowering back when Suzuna narrowed her most fearsome glare at him.
"What? This is our only field trip this year!" Suzuna said.
It felt like it had been a lot more than that since Sena had never traveled more in one year than this year – going so many different places for games, and even flying all the way to America thanks to Hiruma during summer break.
"We're going," Suzuna said firmly.
"Hey, what about them?" Monta protested, pointing to the Huh-huh brothers who looked even more annoyed.
"Don't drag us into this!" Togano said.
"Yeah, no way we're going," Jumonji continued.
"In your dreams!" Kuroki said.
"Umph!" Komusubi agreed with the three for once.
"Yeah, Suzuna—" Sena shut up when Suzuna turned wide-eyed at him, obviously trying to look pitiful.
"You two wouldn't leave me all by myself on the trip, would you?" Suzuna asked.
"Yeah we would—"
"Oh yeah? I'll tell Mamori how pitiless you are!" Suzuna threatened. "It's not even three days completely – just two nights," Suzuna said.
Sena really didn't want to go since he would much rather practice and train.
"Hey, where is it?" Hiruma finally spoke up.
"Down in Kyushuu," Suzuna answered. "It'll be pretty warm."
Hiruma's grin widened. "You can go damn shrimp and monkey," he said.
Sena and Monta both turned to stare at their captain. "What?"
"You better train extra hard the next few days to make up for it though," Hiruma ordered. "Back to practice!" he ordered, pulling out an assault rifle, ready to shoot at anyone who didn't immediately jump to obey.
"Yeah, but we can't change until Suzuna leaves."
"Why did you come in the locker room anyway?"
"And you two have a job when you go…" Hiruma said as Suzuna left the room. His grin widened.
That night they went to Sena's house after stopping by Shin's house first to pick up a few toiletries and a change of Shin's clothes because there was just no way he could possibly fit into Sena's. Since Sena was now assigned to extra training to make up for the lost days, they had agreed to wake up extra early and begin training at 3 a.m. for the next three mornings. And since they would be needing all the sleep they could get and their houses were far enough apart, they had agreed to have sleepovers.
Sena felt both giddy and anxious at the thought.
"Tadaima," Sena called as he and Shin walked in.
His mother appeared in the doorway of the living room. "Ara? Oh…it's your friend, um…"
"Shin Seijuro," Shin answered with a stiff bow.
"Right." Though his mother was smiling, Sena could see she was really rather annoyed about Shin and didn't seem to like him – maybe because he had cooked and refused to eat her food last time he came over.
"U-Um, Shin-san is sleeping over, Mom," Sena said quickly. "Since we have training really early tomorrow morning."
"Hmm… and you're going to cook for yourselves again?" his mother asked. She was definitely not happy about that, Sena thought with a gulp.
And while he usually listened to whatever his mother had to say, Sena really did not know what to do now that she seemed determined to do…whatever it was she wanted to do to Shin – humiliate him or criticize him or something like that. Sena cringed. Of course he didn't want his mother to get on Shin's case, but he was also too scared to go against her.
"Yes," Shin answered honestly.
There probably could have been a better way to say that to try to pacify his mother's anger, but Sena certainly couldn't think of any right on the spot, and Shin didn't seem to even notice that Sena's mother was annoyed.
"Mom, it's just because we have to be on a diet," Sena said, trying to explain.
"So you're saying my meals aren't healthy?" she asked, turning on Sena.
"If you are worried, Kobayakawa-san, you can inspect the meal," Shin said, completely misinterpreting her.
Sena's mother, though, narrowed her eyes. "Hmph, then I'll inspect you in the kitchen too," she said.
"B-But Mom…" Sena's protest died away under her glare.
Shin, of course, didn't look in the least bit intimidated as they walked into the kitchen with their groceries. Sena could only follow behind, a sense of doom hanging around him.
His mother was going to make a big scene and embarrass Shin and Shin would hate Sena and his family and never come back. This was going to be painful. Very very painful.
Half an hour later, Sena found himself in a state of shock as his mother exchanged cooking and nutrition tips with Shin.
"Yes, have you ever used the miso paste from SonSon?" his mother asked in an apron beside Shin where she was stir-frying some meat. "There's almost no fat and very low sodium but it's delicious," she told him.
"Aa, I will look for it next time," Shin answered, chopping up vegetables beside her. "Vinaigrette is also good to use with salad," he said. "It helps detoxify the body and it's low in oil content."
"Yes yes, I like using it when I stir-fry vegetables," Sena's mother said. "What do you think of vitamin supplements? I was talking to Tanaka-san next door, you know, and she said it's better to get the nutrients from regular food so she refuses to take any."
Shin nodded. "Supplements are a good idea as insurance to your normal diet," he said. "It's difficult to intake the proper amount of nutrients needed per day even on a normal diet."
"Yes, like calcium, right?" Sena's mother said.
"To get enough calcium, you would need to drink four cups of milk each day," Shin answered.
"And what about organic food? It seems there are commercials for it every day," Sena's mother commented.
"They are not much healthier than food that has pesticide," Shin said. "You have to consume a very high amount before pesticide will become a real threat to health. It is the same with mercury in fish," he said. "The amount that a normal person would eat could not make it a big risk."
"Not anymore than the pollution in the air we're breathing, anyway," Sena's mother said as they continued on chatting amiably.
Sena felt rather stunned as he watched his mother and Shin, well, bonding or something as they cooked. Sena on the other hand, didn't have a clue what they were talking about or doing so he sort of stood to one side of the kitchen, hopping out of the way any time one of them had to go past him. Since Sena's mother was also cooking, there really wasn't much more help that they needed from Sena that could speed things up.
Sena also felt ridiculously impressed with Shin. Even Sena's father had a hard time dealing with her if Sena's mother really didn't like something, but somehow or other, Shin's serious, honest attitude had managed to win her over or something. And even if Sena already felt like Shin knew everything and knew how to do everything, he was still amazed that Shin had an answer to everything Sena's mother was saying and by the end of the conversation, Sena's mother had even decided to switch over to wheat bread instead of white, though she said she would stick with white rice for a bit longer.
By the time the meal was ready, Sena's father had come home from work and all four of them sat down together at the table.
Even Sena's father looked rather surprised that his wife was getting along so well with Shin who she so obviously disliked before. Of course since Sena's father was rather good-natured, Sena wasn't nearly as worried about him, though Sena did start to get nervous when his father began talking about school to Shin – typical parental concerns of course.
"Do you plan to take the entrance exams, then?" his father asked as they ate.
Sena silently panicked on the inside since more likely than not, Shin was going to go into professional football, but even if that was already very prestigious, to the normal parent, it still couldn't compare to a university education probably.
To Sena's surprise, though, Shin nodded. "My parents expect me to," he answered. "And football is not a sport I could play forever. The body deteriorates and past a certain age, it is impossible to compete with younger athletes," Shin said seriously.
Sena's father nodded approvingly. "You do plan to go into professional football, though?"
"I'm not sure yet," Shin answered. "Although I would like to continue pursuing it at university," he said.
Sena's mother looked even happier with that. "Where do you plan to apply then?" she asked. "You will have to begin preparing for it next year, right? You're a second-year now."
"W-Well, Ojou has it's own college too, right?" Sena said.
"Ojou?" Both Sena's parents looked impressed that Shin went to such a prestigious private school.
"Yes, or maybe an American university," Shin said as Sena's eyes widened though he really should have seen that coming. The best football teams – real professionals – were all in America where the sport had been invented. And Sena knew Shin already had many offers for recruitment to teams after he graduated high school, but for some reason he had never thought Shin would go all the way to America.
Sena's parents, of course, looked even more impressed.
"Ara, that's wonderful!" Sena's mother said. "Smart and talented," she said.
Shin shook his head. "I still have a long way to go to defeat Sena," he said.
Sena found himself whirling around to meet Shin's eyes where he saw an unexpected tenderness as well as challenge, making him flustered and tongue-tied.
"Sena, you should learn from Shin-kun," Sena's mother said. Both his parents looked even more proud of Sena after Shin's comment.
But America? Sena couldn't get the thought out of his mind.
"Um, sorry about my parents today," Sena apologized later as he pulled out the extra futon for Shin, spreading it out on the floor beside his own bed.
"It's fine," Shin said. "They are good parents."
Sena, though, couldn't get that nagging concern out of his mind, even as he crawled into bed and slipped beneath his covers. "Are you really going to go to America after you graduate?" he found himself blurting out.
Shin stopped in place where he had been pulling back the blanket on the futon. "I'm not sure," he answered. "There is still time to think about it," he said. It didn't reassure Sena much since Shin was going to be a third year in just a few months while Sena was a second year and after that… when Sena was a third year, Shin might be gone completely. Sena couldn't imagine football, or even life now in high school, without Shin around. Shin really was like Sena's mentor and hero and what was he supposed to do on his own without Shin?
"What do you plan to do?" Shin asked, taking Sena by surprise.
Sena blinked, turning in his bed to face Shin who was still sitting up on the futon though he wasn't looking at Sena.
"I…I haven't thought about it," Sena admitted honestly. Well, he was just a first year, after all, and this year had been so packed with just one thing after another with the football team, he hadn't had much time to think about anything else at all. Even doing his homework and studying was all Sena could squeeze in.
"You will be getting offers to play professionally too," Shin told him. "You'll be recruited if that is what you want."
"N-No, I don't think I'm…"
"You are Eyeshield 21," Shin said firmly even as Sena stuttered an embarrassed protest.
Sena swallowed hard and nodded.
"You have time to consider it," Shin said as he lay down and closed his eyes.
Sena stared at Shin's calm, sleeping face, less strict-looking than usual when it was relaxed in sleep. Shin was so incredible. But just when Sena thought he was beginning to get a little close to Shin, was just beginning to become a better athlete, it felt like Shin was slipping so far away again.
Friday morning, Sena found himself dragging out the good-bye with Shin even though he'd be back and they'd be training together again by Monday morning.
"S-Sorry about this," Sena said, feeling awkward as he trailed behind Shin who had his duffel and was heading for the train station to go to Ojou for school.
"It's fine," Shin said though Sena still felt guilty. He felt strangely reluctant to go on the school trip even though it was going to be his first school trip in high school and unlike elementary and middle school, he had Monta and Suzuna as friends now, and now that he was a football player and teammates with the Huh-huh brothers and Hiruma to back him, no one ever asked him to gofer anything anymore. In fact, people were being a lot friendlier now.
Still, Sena felt bad for leaving for two and a half days of practice – even if it seemed Hiruma had told everyone to take Sunday off again. And after that first night Shin had slept over Sena's house, Sena continuously had the nagging thought of the future in his mind. He could more or less push it out of his mind when they were training, but he couldn't stop worrying about it when they weren't.
They reached the Deimon gates where some students were already starting to come in though it was still early.
"I guess, um, I'll see you when I get back," Sena said.
"Take the opportunity to rest," Shin said.
Sena nodded, feeling somewhat disappointed though there wasn't any reason to be.
"Have a safe trip," Shin said finally and then turned and walked down the street.
Sena was a little surprised that Shin had wished him a good trip, but then he told himself to stop being stupid. It wasn't like Shin was an unfeeling person or anything. He cared about his friends and teammates in his own gruff way. And as for Sena… Sena felt a little embarrassed and arrogant to even be thinking it, but he thought Shin probably cared about him too.
As he went back to meet up with Suzuna and Monta, having nothing to do as they waited for the rest of their first year class to show up, the three of them hung out in Sena's classroom with their luggage.
"Hey, you brought work-out clothes, right?" Monta asked, perched on the desk next to Sena's as Suzuna leaned against Sena's desk and he sat in his own chair.
Sena nodded. "We can at least jog at night and in the morning a little," Sena said.
Monta grinned. "Yeah! Training max!" he gave Sena a thumbs up.
Suzuna sighed. "Didn't Demon-bro say to take a rest?" she said. "And we have our job to do!"
Sena gulped at the thought of the job but Monta just shrugged.
"It's just jogging and everyone else is still training. We can't fall behind, man," Monta said. "Especially since I wasted so much time in the beginning! I gotta catch up!" he said enthusiastically.
"Yeah, but how are we going to do the job?" Sena asked, feeling rather nervous now that he thought about it. Of course there was no way Hiruma would give him and Monta a free weekend off with no catch and this catch was a big one.
"We'll figure something out when we get there!" Suzuna said, completely brushing the problem off.
Actually, Hiruma wanted the three of them to pay a visit to Ishida Goro. It sounded simple except that Ishida Goro was a multi-millionaire businessman and also one of the big sponsors of Teikoku and the Teikoku Alexanders American football team. Just getting past the security was going to be impossible by itself but it was even worse when it came to what Hiruma wanted them to do – and that was to convince Ishida Goro to withdraw sponsorship from Teikoku and transfer it to Deimon.
No matter how Sena thought about it, it was just impossible. Even getting a meeting with the guy was impossible, much less trying to convince him to support a mediocre-at-best highschool like Deimon. Even if their football team was going to the Christmas Bowl, it really didn't mean that much compared to the prestige of Teikoku or Ojou.
"Anyway, we can do that in our free time," Suzuna said.
That really only meant they had even less time to accomplish the impossible. It wasn't anything to be happy about.
Well, there wasn't really anything Sena could do about it until they got there at least so he decided to take the advice and relax and enjoy the trip for now. On the bus there, he, Monta, and Suzuna played cards – usually won by Suzuna and a few times by Monta though Sena always came in dead last. Lunch at a rest station was fun as the three of them tried each other's food and shared a large shaved ice between the three of them. In the afternoon, they arrived at destination and finally split up to unpack.
Sena suspected Hiruma had somehow rigged the room assignments since he and Monta were assigned to be roommates even though they weren't even in the same class – not that Sena minded, really – and the two of them followed four other boys to the room they would be sharing together.
Sena was rather apprehensive about the whole thing, since usually this was around the time all the other boys would start gofering Sena, but he did have Monta with him this time. To Sena's surprise, though, not only did their other roommates not begin bullying Sena, but one boy he recognized being in Suzuna's class started talking to him and seemed very impressed that Sena was Eyeshield 21.
"I remember that game you guys played against Zokugaku at school! Man, after that, I followed all the Deimon games!" the boy, named Tachigawa, said.
Sena rubbed the back of his head, chuckling nervously. "U-Um, it's not really that great—"
"Hey, that was my first game!" Monta butted in. "It was awesome max!"
"Yeah, hey, Hiruma-senpai throws the best passes, huh?" another boy, Nakada from Sena's class said.
Monta twitched, annoyed as he dug the football out of his backpack and began to jump around and pose catching. "Sena, toss it to me!" Monta said, throwing the football towards Sena so he could pass to Monta but…
"Wait, don't!" Sena said too late.
The football went crashing behind Monta and broke through the glass window, falling outside.
Everyone stared at the window for a moment.
"Sena! Monta! Are you guys ready?" Sena recognized Suzuna's voice from the hallways but even worse.
"Boys, finish up. Meet out in the lobby in ten minutes," one of the chaperones was outside.
The six boys exchanged horrified looks and darted into action.
"Here, stuff this over it!"
"Stupid, who would stuff a pillow in a window anyway?"
"Tape! Does anyone have tape?"
This was going to be some trip, Sena thought.
That afternoon, the class split into groups to sightsee. Sena, Monta, and Suzuna's group ended up going to a museum where they spent the time peering curiously into glass cases, surreptitiously reaching over red ropes to sneak touches at ancient furniture, and wondering what it would be like to live way back then.
"I bet my brother would never survive if he had to live in ancient Japan," Suzuna said, rather unsupportively but then again, it was Taki.
"No, I think Taki and Ootawara would be best at surviving back then, right? They'd be good at hunting, max!" Monta grinned. "You gotta be strong to survive!"
"Yeah, and Demon-bro would be like one of the lords who takes over the whole country!" Suzuna said cheerfully.
That, Sena could definitely imagine – Hiruma in an old warlord's armor, cackling evilly as he sat on a throne of power and chopped the heads off anyone who disobeyed him. What a scary thought…
"And if we lived back then, you'd probably be in a theatre troupe as a clown," Suzuna said to Monta who yelped in protest.
"Hey! Well, what you be? A peasant? No, a beggar who does street shows or something," Monta said. "But no one would want to watch you… now, Mamori… wow, I'd want to see her in a kimono!"
Suzuna twitched and started beating up on the both of them. "I'd be a lady of the court!" Suzuna said. "That's what you're supposed to say to a girl!"
"H-Hey! I didn't even say anything!" Sena protested. Of course if he imagined himself living back in those times… "I…I'd probably die…" he said.
Monta patted him on the back. "That's okay, man, not everyone was made to live in those times."
Suzuna didn't argue with him either.
That really didn't make Sena feel any better.
"Oh, but can't you see Takami-san and Hiruma-senpai battling for territory or something?" Monta continued.
"Yeah! Hey, and Shin would be the champion on Takami's side, right? Oh, and Musha-syan could totally be a samurai!" Suzuna added.
That, Sena could definitely see too. But as the three of them walked through the museum, had dinner with their classmates, and returned to the inn where Sena and his roommates stayed up to play cards and sneak snacks that night, he found himself thinking once more about Shin and their futures.
It was probably strange that Sena felt so concerned when it was Shin's future and not even his own. Even stranger, probably, since Shin didn't seem overly worried about it himself but Sena couldn't keep his mind off of it. And Sena had no clue why he felt so uncomfortable with the thought of Shin going abroad or just Shin going to a university in general – Shin not playing against Deimon anymore – Shin not playing against him anymore.
That night as Sena lay on his futon, staring out of their window at the stars, he began to feel insecure again. But this time Shin wasn't around to give him advice.
tbc? Please review!
Haha, Shin's like a good future son-in-law? Well, cause it seems he went to, um, showed up to the Christmas Bowl with Sena's parents so… Also also, please please don't tell me anything about the Christmas Bowl yet and sorry for any inaccuracies since I'm putting off reading that arc until it's complete!