TITLE: Unfortunately Fortunate
AUTHOR: Simply Kim
WORD COUNT: 1,446 words
CHARACTERS: Luigi Yoshida (Gino). Akasaki Ryo. Mentions of Murakoshi and Kuroda.
PAIRING/S: Gino + Akasaki
DISCLAIMER/S: Although I love football to bits, I don't have the thrust to create this wonderful gem of a series. I don't own Giant Killing and everything connected to it, just this story.
One. Two. One. Two.
He counted under his breath as he moved his feet with the pace of the song playing in his ears. Touch the ball with the left foot. Then the right.
Closing his eyes as he rode the rhythm, Akasaki felt invincible. He felt powerful. He felt alive. Two long years of hard work had finally paid off. He was on his way to the Olympic Team. Someone finally recognised his worth.
One. Two. One. Two. He huffed, feeling the strain on his legs. It was glorious. Before Tatsumi became the team coach, he had never been this stressed and overworked meant that he was doing something for the team, doing something for himself... and finally doing something with his life.
A small satisfied smile crept into his lips. This was the start of something truly exhilarating and he shivered slightly in anticipation. Things would be different this time. This time, they have a good chance of winning the cup. Taking a deep cleansing breath, he opened his eyes and focused his energies on the drill.
One. Two. One. Two. Touch the ball with the left foot. Then the right. Left. Right. Tick. Tock.
One. Two. O-
He didn't hear anything besides the beating of his heart, his breath and the music in his ears. It wasn't until a hand closed heavily on his shoulder that he flinched in surprise. The sudden movement made him kick the ball he was playing with at an angle and it bounced out of reach. Eyes wide, he ripped the earphones off and they clacked noisily on his chest. He grit his teeth at the familiar scent wafting from behind. He didn't need to turn around to know who had so rudely intruded on his peace.
"I've been calling you, but you didn't hear." The tone was good-natured enough, but he could hear the underlying note of impatience.
Akasaki frowned, shaking the hand off his shoulders and picking up the ball that escaped him when he was jolted out of his rhythm. He stared at it, eyes narrowed, trying to decipher whatever secret code there was in such unfamiliar words. After a few moments, he looked up, his eyes slits filled with suspicion as he surveyed the other man's completely relaxed form. "You're supposed to be resting." He countered. Didn't you say you pulled a muscle in the last game?
"You're supposed to be resting as well."
Akasaki glared at the chuckle that followed. "None of your business." He muttered, looking away for a brief moment before curiosity won out and he turned back. "What are you doing here anyway, Gino-san?" He asked pointedly.
"Walking around. Weather's good after all." Gino slipped his hands into his back pockets. "And then I found you here, still practicing – no, practicing secretly, and I thought I'd say hello."
Akasaki snorted, mostly in disbelief, and shook his head. "Whatever." he muttered under his breath, and started walking away.
He winced. He absolutely detested the nickname. "Stop calling me that." He grumbled.
"I'm not your dog."
Gino gave him a coy smile, irritating him further. "But it's cute. It suits you."
Suits me? Suits me how? Akasaki stared at him blankly and finally sighed. There was no point arguing over such a trivial thing. Let him call me whatever he likes. Makes no difference. He thought crossly. It was tiring to talk to this man, he knew. He heard the others talking about "The Prince" since he joined the team two years ago, and although they never really interacted enough to be called friends, he had seen his whimsical nature that no one – not even their pensive captain Murakoshi and the loudmouth Kuroda could beat. It's not like I care anyway.
Akasaki scratched the back of his head and was turning around to walk away from this awkward situation when Gino spoke up. "You don't like me much, do you?" He stopped in his tracks and stiffened. He could hear footsteps approaching him from behind and a lone bead of seat trickled down his temple. What does this guy want from me?
"You don't like me much, do you?" Gino repeated, a small smile playing on his lips.
"Do you really want me to answer that?" He retorted, fiddling with the ball.
"Well, no." Gino said cheekily. "But it would be interesting to know."
Akasaki gave him a withering glare and sighed once again. They weren't lying, it seems. It was really exhausting, dealing with this person. "Look, Gino-san." He started awkwardly. "It's not that I don't like you. I just don't like the things you do."
"The things I do?" Gino was perfectly perplexed.
"You're too capricious." He supplied thoughtfully. "You want to do things a certain way and if you don't get what you want, you give a flimsy excuse and leave. So I don't like what you do, but that doesn't mean I don't like you."
The silence that followed was deafening.
Akasaki watched as Gino looked down for a brief moment and he thought he saw him wince. This was new to hear, no doubt, and he knew part of his teammate twinged in acknowledgment. He felt a thin tendril of guilt squeeze his heart and silently, he wondered if it was wise to answer truthfully. Gino was no Kuroda after all.
Suddenly, there was a snort of laughter and it grew to a full-fledged guffaw. He watched in amazement as Gino threw his head back in pure unadulterated mirth, his shoulders shaking violently.
"That's – That's pretty brave of you... Zakki..." He said stiltedly, wiping his eyes with a clean handkerchief he somehow whipped out from somewhere. It took a while before he finally settled down, clearing his throat twice to regain his composure. However, the telltale grin and sparkling eyes remained. "Brutally honest as usual. Looks like you really aren't a showoff but the real deal."
He's enjoying this. Akasaki thought in astonishment. "Showoff...?" He echoed, confused.
"Well, you know. Like you were just provoking people to make yourself look important." Gino tucked a few strands of hair behind one ear. "Looks like you're really that way. Honest to a fault."
Akasaki stared at him as if he was crazy. "Unfortunately for you, Gino-san, I'm always like this."
"Alright, alright~" Gino clapped his hands twice and cocked his head invitingly. "Let's stop chatting, let's go get something to eat. I'm hungry."
"Gino-san. You go eat. I'm staying here to practice." Akasaki shook his head in supplication, trying to ignore the sudden ache in the pit of his stomach at the mention of something related to food. When was the last time he had eaten? He remembered the takoyaki he had for brunch with Sera and Tsubaki and his tummy grumbled in answer.
Gino laughed. "I heard that!" He motioned for Akasaki to join him, pointing to the parking lot where his prized red sports car was. "C'mon. Let's celebrate your getting into the Olympic Prelims too. My treat~!"
He mulled over the idea for a short while before he came to a conclusion that it wouldn't be so bad. After all, it was not his money to lose. With an inward groan at his decision, he shrugged his shoulders, walking over to the bleachers to drop the ball in the waiting bin and collect his duffel bag. "I'm not drinking!" He called out as nonchalantly as he could.
"Of course not! I'm not drinking either. I'm a responsible adult after all!"
Wordlessly and in complete disbelief, he grabbed his bag and followed him. "Why did you decide to be all chummy after all these years?" He asked curiously once he caught up, swinging the bag over his shoulder. "You've never even talked to me even when we were on the same team. It's weird."
"Nah. It's not that I didn't want to talk to you. It's more like there was no chance."
"No chance?" Akasaki raised his brows in question.
"I can talk to you now, because."
Gino nodded, smiling enigmatically. "I see what you're really like and fortunately for you, Zakki, I kinda like it."
Akasaki wasn't sure how he should interpret his words, so he settled on picking up the lighthearted mood. "Are you sure you're not just high?"
At that, Gino laughed, his voice echoing deep inside Akasaki's mind.
A/N: I fell in love with this series the moment I read the premise. I guess my competitive spirit got the better of me. I love Akasaki Ryo most of all. He's a hot-headed person, but very bright and responsible. He's one of those people who can "Walk the Talk", as far as the series goes. I'd like to see him grow in the next volumes of the manga - and maybe when and if the anime gets a second season~! (crosses fingers) I hope you guys like this! thank you for taking time to read and feedbacks are very much welcome~!