I know I said Friday to a lot of people, but I had less time then I thought I would in the afternoon and then on Saturday I was up in Lancaster (about three hour drive away D: Makayla no like cars when she's hung over). So I'm really, really sorry! But I'm getting it up now ^__^, instead of doing the art project that has to be in tomorrow ¬_¬
Anyway, in my opinion the last chapter was awful T__T I went through it and nearly cried. I've tried to patch it up though so hopefully some of the lines actually now make sense; however I am aiming to do much better here, in the final chapter, to apologise for the jerky sentences and many typos of Chapter Four.
And yes, I did just say final chapter. I didn't think it would come so soon either, but the poor characters have had enough- they're just refusing to go any further.
So now the end is nigh I want to say a huge thank you to all the people who ever reviewed- I wrote this chapter for you guys because without you I probably would have never had the motivation to reach even this point. From those who just popped in to give me an extra push to those who reviewed every chapter, I scrape and kneel:
stealingthestars, Bar-Ohki, shoeythoughts, Falling Right Side-Up, injay22, inspiration_arts, CookieMonster525, iNzombiac, Sephony, Rae-Wolf-Demon, Night Foliage, Azamiko, Siana, qof, anonymous cow, Ria Sakazaki , F.A. Star Hawk, tsuki-san16, Slash Superqueen, Angel of The Fallen Stars, , mangafairy, thestrayhippo, Shekina666, and of course Lanna-chan who doesn't even fangirl this manga but read through my story anyway ^__^
And for one last time, the disclaimer:
Makayla does not own Eyeshield 21 and the characters party regularly to celebrate this fact.
And an added warning: This chapter contains quite a few spoilers for the current World Cup arc and most possibly every arc leading up to that.
The young face had beamed up at him and Sena had been helpless.
"So you'll help us with the eating contest?" Chuubou had asked and Sena was dearly regretting agreeing- at least he now knew why the Americans called it 'super size'.
The running back made his way delicately up the stairs, a hand pressed over his stomach as though it would keep the contents in place if it decided it wanted to come up again.
The first thing Sena did when he entered the Japanese team's common room was look for Monta. The young receiver was busy however, in a somewhat one-sided conversation with Taka. Normally Sena would have tricked the boy into leaving Hounjou junior alone but, for once, the catching genius seemed to be paying attention. Biting his lip Sena glanced round the room for a friendly face but all the usual suspects were missing.
In the corner Hiruma and Kid were leaning over images and sketches of the American team's plays, beside them Testuma sat as rigidly as ever, his eyes following the conversation. Nearby Agon was sprawled over one of the few sofas, he must have been sleeping because Ikkyu had perched himself on the end and was poking curiously at his newly grown hair whilst Yamabushifretted next to him.
Marco and Gaou had inhabited another corner of the room, seemingly content to lounge in their own fierce atmosphere, the smaller of the two occasionally inputting to a conversation that Yamato and Sakuraba had somehow become engrossed in only a chair's width away from them. Sena might had been tempted to approach the last two had it not been for the unnerving grin spread across Gaou's face- apparently his fight with Don had somehow managed to increase his already unnatural bloodlust.
Sena almost missed Shin, sitting silently in shadows with his features barely visible in the dimmed wall lights. The stern line of his mouth and the uncompromising stare of his gaze would have once unnerved Sena as much as Gaou's grin but in contrast to some of the other occupants of the room Sena found it almost welcoming. He crossed the room to take the seat next to him.
"Shin-san." Sena curled his legs up on the over-sized armchair in the hopes that it would heat up the cool fabric a little quicker, "don't you usually train after dinner?"
"I am waiting for my dinner to be sufficiently settled before continue my training."
"Oh," there was an empty pause and Sena continued to fill the silence, "are you going back down to the gym?"
"For two hours; I will then jog for a mile to relax my body for bed." Sena wondered how, after a day's heavy training, the other's body could be anything but 'relaxed for bed'. Although, Sena thought as a shiver ran through his body, some exercise might help him warm up.
"Are you cold?" Shin asked
"I'm alright," Sena replied with a smile, "It's just the dinner hall is much warmer than in here so I need to get used to it."
Shin frowned before suddenly pulling his hoody over his head and Sena was hit with a sense of déjà vu; although this time he was thankfully not stuck in the middle of a downpour. "Here," Shin said as he held out the article.
"Th-Thank you but I-I'm already w-wearing a jumper…" Sena replied apologetically, bowing his head respectfully.
"I hadn't noticed," Shin stated honestly, but he didn't retract his hand.
"But… you don't need to lend me yours again, Shin-san." Sena protested weakly.
"If your own jumper is sufficient at this occasion then why do you wear mine to bed?"
Sena choked, his cheeks flushing red with embarrassment, "T-that's b-because it's bigger!" he exclaimed, his blush spreading over his nose and past his cheekbones as he remembered the many times he'd fallen asleep with his pressed deeply into the fabric of said jumper.
"Then surely my jumper will be of more used to you now also." Shin replied logically.
"Ah…" Sena answered, unable to think of any other retort. Shin waited patiently and it didn't take long for Sena to yield, receiving the hoody with a quiet 'thank you'. He held the fabric loosely in his hands, before spreading out across his lap like a make shift blanket. His legs soaked up the extra warmth greedily.
"I am now comfortable enough to continue training," Shin abruptly announced and Sena looked up at him in surprise as the other stood with respectful bow, "I will see you again later."
"Ah- y-yes," Sena replied with surprise at the sudden farewell but the boy had already left. Left him surrounded by a bloodthirsty Gaou, a nearly-awoken and cranky Agon and a scarily satisfied Hiruma cleaning his guns. Sena glanced around the room nervously and caught the amused gaze of Yamato who looked pointedly at Shin's jumper before quirking an eyebrow.
Sena blushed as Sakuraba followed Yamato's gaze and gave him a bewildered look, "Shin gave you his jumper?"
"Y-yes. I was cold."
"Really? Shin doesn't usually notice anything outside of American Football." Sakuraba smiled and for some reason the receiver's words only caused Sena's blush to deepen.
"Yes, your linebacker's ignorance does seem to be one of his most obvious traits," Marco commented smoothly.
"It's not so much ignorance," Sakuraba argued, "it's more like… he only chooses to pay attention to what he considers important."
"So clearly Sena-kun's health is something he considers important then," Yamato mocked with a grin which only got wider as Sena's blush travelled further down his neck and tingled in the tips of his ears.
"I guess," Sakuraba agreed with a smile.
"I-I think I'm going to go to bed," Sena declared, standing up with his face still burning.
"Aren't you going to give Shin back his jumper first?" Yamato asked innocently and Sena's hand reflexively curled around the fabric in his right hand in surprise.
"Ah, yes, I'll go down now, erm…"
"See you later Sena-kun," Yamato finished for him.
"Y-yeah," the first-year bowed respectfully before hastily following Shin out of the room.
The gym was only a few doors down from the common room so as soon as Sena stepped out into the corridor he could hear the soft clinks of the weight machines and it only gradually got louder as he padded down the corridor on bare feet. The door was made of glass so Sena could see Shin before he even entered. As he stood unnoticed he debated whether to just slip in and out, depositing the jumper on the table next to the entrance, but then Shin looked up and Sena was caught. The running back smiled wanly before pushing at the pull only door.
Great, he hadn't even entered the room and he was already making a fool of himself. Sena sighed as he pulled back, the door opening silently, and stepped inside. He shivered in the air conditioning, goose-bumps covering his body in an instant.
"I'm going up to bed," he started, holding the jumper over the table, "so I thought I'd, you know, return this."
Shin pulled his forearms together, the effort visible in the veins straining against his skin, "Thank you but I have no need of it."
"But-" Sena almost protested but cut himself off as he noticed the sweat already coating the linebacker. The boy had foregone a shirt, probably because it would have been ruined within minutes, and Sena bit his lips as he stared at one of the most defined muscle structures he'd ever seen.
"Did you not say you were going to bed?" Shin asked after a minute or two of silence and Sena jumped a little in surprise, tearing his gaze from the solid, constant pace of Shin's weight lifting.
"Ah- yeah but…" Sena licked his lips, "erm, I was… I mean, how much does that weigh?"
Sena felt his mouth part in astonishment as he tried to comprehend how a man could lift over twice his weight using only his pectoral muscles. He wondered for a brief worried second if Shin might return the question- Sena didn't think he'd be able to stay in the same room for very long after admitting 20 kilograms- but thankfully the linebacker said nothing.
"Could… could you do more?" he asked curiously.
Shin shot him a look and Sena thought for a second he caught some amusement in the boy's eyes, "yes, but I would be unable to lift it for the required time."
Sena bit his lip but a new question was already forming, "how much?"
"I don't know; I haven't measured it recently. Last time it was 140."
Sena shivered as a breeze slipped through the open window only a few metres in front of him and he glanced down at the jumper in his hand which was still suspended over the table beside him.
"Are you staying?" Shin asked, his arms still pumping steadily. Sena looked back up at him in surprise and realised that he wanted to.
"Yeah," he replied quietly.
"You should put that on then." Shin didn't have to clarify what 'that' was.
Sena slowly retracted his arm, and contemplated the jumper for a second before slipping it over his head with a sigh; even with what he was already wearing the hoody swamped him.
"How come I always seem to be stealing your clothes?" He asked as he slipped his hands into the front pocket.
"It's not stealing if you've been offered."
"Why do you keep offering then?" Sena replied quietly.
Shin looked over at him but instead of replying he just returned to staring straight-ahead. Sena frowned but lowered himself to the floor, leaning against a wall. As he curled into himself his nose was graced with the hoody's smell and he had to wonder when Shin's scent had gone from reminding him of the thrill of football to just being…nice.
"Am I wrong in thinking that it is the correct thing to do?" Shin suddenly asked and Sena looked up at him in surprise.
"The right thing… to do…?"
"To end someone's suffering." Sena couldn't help but think that Shin was being a little over-dramatic.
"Well, yeah it is…" he started, unfortunately he couldn't think of anything to say afterwards so he just fiddled absently with his hands. A silence filled the room broken only by the constant clink of Shin's weightlifting. Sena looked down at the blue sweatshirt again, his fingers coming out of their warm hiding place to play with the frayed, worn end.
Suddenly Shin stopped and Sena glanced up to see what he was doing next. Shin caught his gaze, he was frowning as though he had come to some decision he wasn't sure of but he looked determined. "I like the way it smells when I get it back."
Sena felt his eyes widen to the size of dinner plates and a red blush raced over his skin until his whole body felt aflame.
Shin didn't look away from him.
Sena tried to say something but his mind was as blank as if he'd won the Christmas Bowl all over again.
"I apologise if I have offended you," Shin continued, standing up from the leather seat and moving onto another. He was doing his legs now, Sena noted absently, watching as the boy lift himself and 120 kilos; his muscles clenched and relaxed beneath Shin's tracksuit bottoms and Sena couldn't stop staring.
"Kobayakawa." Sena's eyes snapped up and he was staring into that black gaze again.
"Have I offended you?" Shin asked, something like curiosity colouring his tone.
"What? No! No…I- err, I was surprised…" Sena trailed off.
"I see." It was Shin who broke their eye contact, looking forwards as his legs pumped relentlessly and Sena found his eyes trailing back over a shirtless chest down to those powerful limbs. Shin was sweating, his thin tracksuit bottoms were sticking to his skin and it was ridiculously easy to watch the muscles of his thighs flex with each lift. "Did you want to train?"
Sena jumped as Shin's voice broke through his revere and he glanced up with wide eyes, "eh?"
"You were staring, I wondered if you wanted to train."
Sena felt his mouth fall open and his blush coming raging back, "ah- no I'm- I'm fine thanks."
"Then should I think you have some other reason for staring?" Shin turned his head, his eyes finding Sena's easily and trapping them there.
"Uh-" Sena swallowed and licked his lips as he watched Shin's motions slow, then come completely to a stop. Shin was stopping in the middle of training and that phrase made Sena feel very uneasy.
"Takami has informed me that many males stare at me because they are jealous." Shin started slowly as though he didn't quite understand the reasoning behind this, "but I don't believe this is in your nature."
"Erm…" Sena pressed his lips together uncertainly.
"…I apologise, if my earlier words made you uncomfortable. I would not be offended if you left," Shin finally said, he frowned to himself but he seemed to be happy with that because he started exercising again.
Sena stared at him again.
"I-I'm not… I- I don't…" Sena struggled with what he was trying to say and he felt Shin's curious gaze on him as he looked to the side so he could think. "I don't want to leave," he eventually admitted, peeking at the older boy out of the corner of his eyes.
"I see." Shine repeated.
The clanking of weights once again filled the silence between them and Sena fidgeted as he worked up the courage to say what he wanted, "…I…" Sena looked away again as Shin glanced towards him, "…I like it too. The smell, I mean…. Your smell, I guess." The blood beneath Sena's cheeks must have been boiling to make them so hot and the running back dropped his gaze to his nervously wringing hands in the hope that his fringe would hide this blush from his rival.
"…That is good."
The sound of weights continued and Sena found himself smiling secretly behind his hair. Something had happened, he wasn't sure what but it seemed good to him and Sena wondered if he'd been waiting for it since he'd decided to stay. "I think… I think I'll go to bed now," Sena decided, slowly picking himself off the floor, "goodnight Shin-san," he said as he turned to leave.
"Sena." Sena froze mid-spin and a shiver went down his spine at the intimate address. "My name's Seijuro."
Sena turned back slowly, swallowing as Shin stopped moving (again, how many times had it been now?) "…G-goodnight, S-seijuro-kun," he murmured.
He watched the older boy step off his chair and walk closer with a strange knot in his stomach. It wasn't fear, or nervousness, it was like… anticipation; it almost felt like those few minutes just before a game as you waited for your name to be called.
Shin stopped in front of the running back, less than a foot away, his chest bare and eye-level. "I believe the custom is that I should ask you to go out with me," his deep voice rumbled down Sena's spine like an earthquake tremor and Sena's eyes flickered upwards to catch his gaze. "And if you agree I should kiss you."
There was a moment of silence where Sena tried to remember how his vocal cords worked before he could stammer out a reply, "A-Are you going to ask?"
"Do I need to?" Shin cocked his head to the side in a manner Sena found really not adorable and the running back had to bite on his lip to keep back a smile.
"If you don't ask, how can I say yes?" he asked and he felt his heart beat a little faster in his chest.
"Will you go out with me, Sena?"
"Yes," His head instinctively tilted up as Shin leaned forwards to press their mouths together. It was little too hard and a little too rough but then, when had Shin been anything else?
Really the kiss was fleeting, less than a minute, but when they pulled away and Sena panted softly only inches from Shin's mouth he felt hours could have passed and he wouldn't have noticed. He pulled the boy back down again, his slim arms wrapping around Shin's broad shoulders as he brushed their lips together and sucked gently on a full lower lip. He felt Shin's hands pull him closer (though he couldn't have told you when they'd gotten round his waist) and the linebacker latched onto his upper lip with the same serious attitude he took to everything.
As they broke away again Shin frowned, "I feel I shall get nothing of my training done if you stay here now." He commented unhappily and Sena watched with a strange contentment as Shin warred with his problem in his head. He had always been a little nervous when Shin was around, but now… Sena wondered if the nervousness hadn't been something else entirely the whole time.
"How about I leave now and we run together tomorrow morning?" He proposed, unwinding his arms and letting his hands slid down Shin's bare biceps encouragingly.
The furrow in his captor's brow deepened further but slowly he released Sena from his unbreakable grip, "I would like that."
Sena smiled shyly as he stepped away, his body protesting at being detached from such a nice source of warmth as it tried to re-adjust to the cold room. He played absently with the end of Shin's hoody before realising that he had come down here to return it. If he returned wearing it… well he really didn't want to know. He stripped it off swiftly before holding it out to a surprised Shin.
"Bring it for me tomorrow?" Sena suggested.
Shin took his jumper back slowly, nodded and then pulled it over his head. Sena blinked in surprise and then blushed.
"I will see you tomorrow morning at six." Shin stated surely and Sena's tired mind winced.
"Could we make it seven?" he asked with an apologetic smile.
Shin blinked but was quick to agree, "If that is better for you."
"Thank you." Sena rubbed his foot against the carpet tiles beneath him, "erm…" he stepped forward and quickly raised himself up onto his tiptoes so he could press his lips to Shin's cheek before pulling back, "goodnight Sh- Seijuro-kun."
"Goodnight Sena," Shin pressed a hand to the side of his face unsurely but his mouth quirked upwards anyway and Sena found the gesture made something warm coil in his stomach.
"I'll see you tomorrow," Sena promised as he grinned in return, shuffling backwards until his back hit the door.
"Tomorrow," Shin bowed politely and Sena returned it with an amused smile even as he pushed the door open.
Sena bit his lip as the clear door closed behind him his eyes catching Shin's as he watched him leave. Sena smiled shyly before finally forcing himself to walk away. As Sena left the gym behind him (and the steady clank started up again) he was helpless against the grin spreading across his face, even when he heard the sounds of Chuubou, Kurita and Komisuba finally coming up from the dining room.
"Sena-sempai! We won!" Chuubou proclaimed as soon as he sighted him.
Sena let his grin stretch further, grateful for the excuse for wearing it, "that's great!" he replied with perhaps more enthusiasm than he felt. He allowed Chuubou to inform him off everything he'd missed as he was swept back into the common room by the excitable middle-school student.
"Are you staying down here, Sena-sempai?" Chuubou asked with wide eyes.
"Ah, no. I uh- I have training tomorrow morning; I need to be up early." Sena felt that ever persistent blush start up again as he thought of just who he would be training with tomorrow and, from the corner of his eye, he watched helplessly as Yamato noticed. "Right, so I'm going to bed, right now. Yep. I'll see you in the morning ok?" He continued quickly, his blush only increasing under scrutiny.
"Ah, yeah of course," Chuubou replied, "uh…Sena-sempai, are you ok?"
"Yep, fine, fine, I'll see you tomorrow yeah?"
"Yeah..." Chuubou didn't look too convinced and two gazes followed Sena upstairs; one extremely amused, the other extremely confused. Neither helped Sena's blush any, but as the running back slipped into the safety of his and Monta's room his blazing cheeks didn't matter. He could still smell Shin on his clothes, on his skin, and as he crawled into his bed, he took off nothing so that he could sink into the familiar fragrance as he fell asleep.
Really, Sena thought as he slipped into unconsciousness, he should sell it to scent-manufacturers as a cure for insomnia; he'd make millions.
Sakuraba: Is it just me or is Shin smiling?
Takami: What are you talking about? (turning around) Shin never…
Sakuraba: He is, isn't he, he's smiling!
Takami: I'm sure there is a perfectly rational explanation for this.
Sakuraba: I bet I know why (grins in a satisfied manner)
Takami: (narrows eyes) what have you been up to?
Sakuraba: Well I might have supplied him with some shoujo-manga, but only a few I swear!
Takami: You gave him… shoujo-manga…
Sakuraba: Just a few, to, you know, point him the right direction. He's got plenty of girls who like him but he's never had a girlfriend. I thought, you know, it would help him understand the 'feminine psyche' or…or something.
Takami: (smirks) sorry to burst your bubble Sakuraba, but it's not girls Shin's interested in. Though I think you'll find you've just explained why Sena was blushing so much when he came back earlier.
Yes, Takami appeared right at the end specifically for the omake. He's a little miffed that even Ishimaru made it onto paper before he did but perhaps you could cheer him up with a review or two praising his efforts XD
Mistake of the week: 'as he crawled onto his futon'- they don't have futons dear, they're in America…
Do you remember Sena was suspicious of the jumper Shin gave him at the end of chapter four? Cookies for the people who can work out what was wrong with it XD
Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed the caper of Shin and Sena's relationship as much as I have! It's been very good for entertaining me through boring lessons at any rate XD Remember the moral of this story; forgetting to take an umbrella could lead to a gorgeous and adorable (if somewhat dense) boyfriend coming your way. Of course you're more likely to just get wet but it's the thought that counts.
Bye for now!