FRIEND'S AND LOVERS: SHIN TSUBASA

HYUUGA'S NEW FRIEND

Disclaimer: Captain Tsubasa belongs to Yoichi Takahashi. This work of fiction was created solely out of love for the characters by a fan, for other fans.


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"Oi, where's Misugi?" Ishizaki wondered.

The rest of the team was back in the dorm and everyone was getting ready for bed.

"He's gone back to his room," Tachibana Kazuo answered.

"How come?" Taki asked.

Matsuyama Hikaru had been about to make the same inquiry. He had enjoyed Misugi's presence.

"Mikami coach gave him an assignment to work on and he said he wanted to start right away." Morisaki informed them.

"Oh, thank God!" Urabe exclaimed.

Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at him in surprise.

"You seem very relieved," Nitta, who had been unrolling his futon, commented to his older teammate.

"Yeah, what was the 'thank God' for?"Ishizaki asked.

"Oh, come on, am I the only one who thought he was weird?" Urabe continued, putting on his pajamas.

"Obviously, since none of us know what the hell you're talking about," Hyuuga Kojiro replied as he took off his shirt.

Matsuyama thought Kojiro's tone sounded a bit menacing.

Or maybe it's just his pose.

Hyuuga had stopped changing to regard Urabe, waiting for him to continue. Standing tall, his bare torso and arms revealing hard muscles, he certainly looked intimidating.

"Oh come on guys! It's bad enough he stares at us during training, then he joins our dorm and I have to worry about him staring at us here as well," Urabe explained , oblivious to Hyuuga's body language.

The Toho captain's anger however, wasn't unnoticed by his old team mates. Wakashimazu Ken's eyes darted towards Hyuuga.

"He doesn't' stare, he's studying us. Watching how we play. It's his job," the goalkeeper pointed out. He'd known Kojiro for a long time and could tell from his tone earlier that he was annoyed at Urabe's statement, though he wasn't sure why.

"That's right," Sawada Takeshi agreed, also looking at his captain with wariness. If Urabe knew Hyuuga-san like we do, he'd know to drop the subject.

"I know it's his job, but he even does it when we're not playing. It's weird!" Urabe insisted, unaware of the tension he'd created.

"You're weird," Ishizaki joked.

"Actually, I agree with Urabe," Soda Makoto admitted. Jito and Sano turned to look at their new friend in surprise.

"Not about the staring, I haven't noticed that. But I do think it's a bit weird how silent he is. I've heard so much about him, not just as a player but also as a tactician. I expected him to be giving us all sorts of input or suggestions," he explained, "but he hasn't. Not once."

"Unlike people from Osaka, us Tokyo-ins only talk when we actually have something to say," Hyuuga snapped. Everyone looked at him in surprise. This time both his remark and tone were aggressive enough that everyone became aware of his irritation, not just his Toho mates and Matsuyama.

"You trying to pick a fight here?" Makoto said angrily, "What're you insulting me for?"

"Just pointing out that not everyone feels a need to pollute the air with incessant jabber," Hyuuga replied forcefully, knowing he was provoking the Osaka native, but not caring. Soda stood up angrily but Jito Hiroshi pushed him down easily.

"Easy there, it's a matter of opinion, no need to get riled up about," Jito stated calmly. His hand was heavy on Soda's shoulder, but he was looking at Hyuuga, addressing his words to him. Kojiro stared right back at him.

Hikaru, who had been listening silently, decided to step in before things escalated.

"Soda, you're right. Misugi-kun is incredibly talented and smart and probably has all sorts of ideas to share. But I think the reason he hasn't done so is because he probably feels like it is not his place to give advice; at least for now. After all, like Wakashimazu said, he's still learning. It's not like he's the head coach."

Another possibility is that Misugi-kun only addresses his concerns to the Coach, not to us. Hikaru thought, but kept the idea to himself.

"That makes sense to me," Kisugi said quickly, also wanting to dissolve the tense situation.

"It does sound like him," Izawa added, "You were on our team in grade school when we played against team Musashi," he said, addressing Urabe, "Have you forgotten how polite and reserved he is? He never even told anyone of his illness. We only found out because he had a hard time making it through the game."

"So you guys are saying unlike Urabe and I, he's just not talkative?" Makoto countered, sounding both incredulous and a bit insulted.

"It's just his personality," Matsuyama immediately replied, pacifying Soda. "But it's also this: you wouldn't volunteer a solution to a problem unless you were positive you had the correct answer, right? Doesn't the same apply to him?"

"Actually, that example isn't very useful cause Urabe always thinks he's right," Ishizaki interjected, pestering his longtime rival. Urabe opened his mouth to defend himself, but Matsuyama quickly continued.

"Also," he overrode Urabe, not wanting a new argument to start and make them go off the topic at hand. "Also, couldn't another reason be that we're all doing so well he simply has no feedback to give?"

It was a legitimate possibility. Hikaru had actually asked Misugi a few days ago if he had any suggestions for him. Jun had smiled and simply said to keep up the good work.

"I guess that's true," Soda mused. That idea appealed to him.

Everyone looked at Urabe, waiting to see if he was persuaded. Their stares made him uncomfortable.

Remembering Misugi's heart condition had made Urabe feel guilty for talking about him behind his back. Not because he was ill, but because he had forgotten how silently the glass ace had suffered for a long time. I guess he really is just a quiet person. And even though I still think it's weird how he watches us, it's not fair for me to judge him.

"You're probably right," he conceded. Matsuyama held back a sigh of relief.

"You should be thankful he hasn't said anything about you, Urabe," Ishizaki ribbed, "he'd have to point out how much you suck."

This time, Matsuyama didn't prevent the inevitable argument. This time, it came at a perfect time.

"You're one to talk!" Urabe yelled, as Nitta laughed at how easily his senior could be goaded.

And the heavy air in the room instantly lightened.

Hikaru smiled. Damage successfully controlled.

He couldn't care less about the current fight. Unlike the quarrel he just ended, Hikaru knew Ishizaki's and Urabe's arguments were harmless. The worst they ever escalated to was a challenge to a game of pillow ball.

"I challenge you!" Urabe shouted. Matsuyama smirked at how predictable they were.

Why doesn't Ishizaki just admit he likes playing that childish game, instead of irritating Urabe into challenging him? Oh well, at least it's a good distraction.

The topic of Misugi was long forgotten as the rest of the players picked sides and started cheering the two on. Hikaru was glad of it. He considered Misugi a friend and had felt uncomfortable during the discussion about him. It was nice, however, to see that most of the players had stood up for the Musashi captain.

Some more than the others. Matsuyama thought, glancing at Hyuuga.

Toho's tiger had changed into sweatpants, but hadn't bothered to put a shirt on, making it possible for Hikaru to perceive that the tension had left his shoulders as watched him spread his futon on the floor.

Intrigued, Hikaru made his bed nearby.

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In the night, after making sure that the others had drifted into unconsciousness, Hikaru sat up to check to see if Kojiro had as well. He found him wide awake, his piercing eyes staring right at him, hands behind his head.

"What's up, Matsuyama?"

"You haven't slept yet."

"I figured you had something on your mind when you spread your futon near mine. Not that I could sleep, mind you, even if I wanted to. Whatever you want, it better be good. Your friend's snoring is getting on my nerves," Hyuuga remarked, glancing in disgust at Oda's sleeping figure between them.

Matsuyama smiled and gave his longtime team mate a slight shove, causing Oda to shift slightly. His snoring stopped promptly.

"Nice trick," Hyuuga stated impressed.

"We've been team mates since grade school. I've had to do this many times to keep the others from killing him in his sleep. Of course, it only works when I'm awake to do it."

"Interesting. That why he insists on always sleeps next to you?"

"That, and the fact that he misses the others. We're a pretty tightly-knit team."

"Pretty sappy team if you ask me."

"Well, that makes two of us. I notice Sawada is always sleeping next to you," Matsuyama retorted, nodding towards the younger player at Kojiro's other side.

"It's so I don't forget to include him when I wake up early to practice."

"Right. Not because he practically worships you as the older brother he never had," Hikaru said dubiously.

Hyuuga frowned.

"Either say what you want or I'm going to sleep," he declared, closing his eyes.

"That was pretty decent of you," Matsuyama found himself stating out loud, remarking on Hyuuga's earlier defense of Misugi.

"Pissing off Soda?" Hyuuga asked, eyes still shut.

"You know what I mean," Furano's captain answered.

"You were the one who stood up for him," Hyuuga argued.

"I wasn't the only one, though was I?"

Kojiro didn't answer.

"Never imagined you to be soft under that rough exterior," Matsuyama remarked under his breath as he lay back down.

"What?" Hyuuga's eyes opened to glare challengingly at Hikaru.

"Nothing," Hikaru replied straight faced, (though he was smiling on the inside), knowing full well that Kojiro heard him.

"That's what I thought."

A minute of silence passed. Thinking Kojiro wouldn't say anything else, Matsuyama decided to sleep.

"Urabe did have a point though," Hyuuga finally said, making Hikaru open his eyes.

"So you've noticed it too?" This was what he had wanted to talk about.

"Yeah."

"But you still defended him. It's because you didn't want the others to find out that he was here to observe them for the coach," Hikaru stated, looking at the ceiling.

Kojiro scoffed.

"What?" Hikaru asked raising his head up a bit to look at Hyuuga over Oda's sleeping form.

"And I'm supposed to be the insensitive one," Kojiro declared.

Furano's captain didn't like Hyuuga's insinuation. Matsuyama thought he had decent observation skills and was confident that he was correct in assuming that Misugi joined them because the Coach asked him to observe them. He thought that Hyuuga had figured that out as well, but that he had denied it earlier to keep the others from finding out. After all, they probably wouldn't react well to knowing that the ex-Musashi captain was there to 'spy' on them.

But Hyuuga's smug expression meant that the Tiger had another motive, and he was mocking Matsuyama for missing it. Hikaru frowned. Two can play at that game.

"You're saying there's another reason? I know you're protective of your team mates, but I never knew you are so caring about past rivals as well," Matsuyama taunted.

Kojiro glared at him. "You better watch your mouth."

Matsuyama knew he was walking on thin ice. After all, Hyuuga is known for his temper. However, another less known fact was that Kojiro respected guts, and Matsuyama, having them in spades, continued.

"Or is it just one's with a weak heart?"

Hyuuga's eyes narrowed.

Okay, I may have overdone it with that last line, Matsuyama thought. But it was too late to back out now. He looked straight at Hyuuga, hoping he hadn't pushed his luck too far.

They gave each other the stink eye for a while before Hikaru broke the stare. He was too sleepy to argue anymore, and the fact that Hyuuga hadn't said anything meant that he wouldn't kill him, at least not that night. He lay back down and was gently drifting away.

"I saw him training," Hyuuga finally said, preventing Matsuyama's brain from shutting down.

"Saw who training?" Hikaru answered sleepily, eyes still shut.

"Misugi." Hikaru's eyelids flew open, and he turned on his side to look at Hyuuga. Oda's sleeping face blocked his view. He'd have to sit up.

"When?" Matsuyama asked, deciding he didn't need to see Kojiro's expression after all. He was too groggy to move.

"A couple of days ago. After practice, coach told me he really liked my tiger shot, that he thought it was a great weapon. I was so psyched that night that I woke up after only a few hours and couldn't go back to sleep. I decided to practice for a while and went out to the field. He was there."

"He was practicing?" Matsuyama asked, now raising himself up just enough to observe Kojiro. Resting on his elbow he saw Hyuuga nod, his face as emotionless as his voice.

"For how long?" Hikaru asked.

"Don't know. It was around 1 a.m. when I woke up. But I remember we all went to sleep that day around 9. It was one of our toughest practice sessions, and he had turned in with the rest of us. "

"Maybe, like you, he couldn't go to sleep and went out to burn some energy."

"Maybe," Kojiro answered dubiously.

"So did you join him?" Hikaru asked.

"He wasn't in the mood for company. I've practiced on my own enough times to recognize when someone else needs to be alone."

"Do you think he does that a lot?"

"It could just be a onetime thing," Kojiro stated, though he didn't sound like he believed it, "Either way I don't think he wants anyone to know he's practicing, or he wouldn't do so late at night on a dark field."

Matsuyama nodded in understanding, and then lay back down.

He himself had snuck out a few times to dribble, especially when he missed Yoshiko. He was positive Misugi missed Yayoi as well. After all, they were so inseparable it would be impossible for him not to. Hadn't both he and the Coach seen the signs? He had even made up a name for the symptoms.

But could he have been self-projecting? What if Misugi was missing something other than his girlfriend? What if there was a more obvious reason why Misugi studied players in a way that made Urabe uncomfortable; besides Matsuyama's deduction that the coach asked him to?

Matsuyama was already drowsy, and thinking made him even dizzier. He was about to fall asleep again when Hyuuga spoke and woke him up a second time.

"You know he visited my house once?"

"What for?" Matsuyama asked, keeping his eyes tightly shut and letting his exasperation show in his voice.

Hyuuga grinned. He realized that he had woken Hikaru up again. Payback's a bitch. That's what you get for sleeping next to me, and for calling me soft. But he decided to show the Hokkaido native some pity. This time he sat up himself, allow Hikaru to see him from his prone position as they spoke.

"It was the same day you butted into my business, asking me why I wasn't playing with my team. I returned home and found him and his shadow of a girlfriend waiting for me." He watched with satisfaction as Matsuyama's interest overcame his fatigue enough for him to open his eyes.

"What did he want?"

"The same thing you did, to know why I wasn't playing. Of course, you had already screwed up my day so I wasn't in a mood to exactly invite him in for tea. But he still managed to put in his two cents before I made him leave."

"You kicked him out of your house?!" Matsuyama exclaimed, sitting up in his shock. At his movement and raised voice, Oda stirred in his sleep. The two waited silently until he settled down, his snoring starting up again.

"Technically, he was already outside," Hyuuga continued, unconcerned.

"So, what did he say?"

"Don't remember," Hyuuga replied casually, lying back down again.

"Really?" Matsuyama raised an eyebrow. "Whatever it was must have made an impression, cause you showed up at Toho's next game; even though you were benched. And all this time, I thought it was thanks to my speech," Matsuyama stated, pretending he was hurt.

"As if I'd listen to anything you had to say," Hyuuga bantered, with a yawn as he turned on his side, giving Matsuyama his back. Just because he brought up the incident, didn't mean that he wanted to share the details. "Now go to sleep, we have early morning practice," he ordered.

Hikaru valiantly held himself from pointing out that he had been trying to sleep when Hyuuga decided to reminisce about how Misugi had helped him in the past. I thought I was supposed to be the sappy one, he thought. But he was too smart to voice that thought out loud. Instead he lay on his back thinking over what Kojiro had said, and pondering his motives.

I guess even Hyuuga has a heart. Either that or Misugi grew on him.

The idea put a grin on Matsuyama's face.

I wonder if Misugi-kun knows he's made a new friend?

Author's note: Okay, I adored the scenes between Hyuuga and Matsuyama in Shin Tsubasa, they are what inspired this chapter. But this turned out to be a very difficult chapter. I only rewrote it like 30 different times. It was so hard keeping everyone in character. Please let me know if I've succeeded, and feel free to point out any redundancies or grammatical errors. I've read this so many times, that it's become impossible for me to notice any errors no matter how big they are *_*. Reviews=love!