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Caught in the Sun

A 2002 World Cup / Anime Fanfic Series

By Roehl Sybing (indef@infinitedeferral.com)

Episode Four: Injury Time

Group H: Japan v Belgium @ Saitama

A Maison Ikkoku Fanfic

"Kawaguchi clears it out of the box...ball in the air, picked up by Inamoto. Mpenza falls back to midfield to provide some coverage. Ball squared across to Ichikawa. De Boeck challenges, loose ball retained by Japan, here comes Nakata! Beautiful run past two defenders, finds his way into the box. De Vlieger breaks off his line, the shot! Oh, my! Hidetoshi Nakata sends the ball sailing over the crossbar and into the stands! Could've made this a 3-2 game, instead the home crowd will grab a souvenir."

"Nakata sacrificed accuracy for power, put a lot of force on the ball. Looks like officials in the stands are going over to check it out, I think someone got clocked in the head!"

---

"Godai!"

Kyoko raised his head up after he fell back into his seat as the ball sailed straight into his face. He immediately sported a sore red nose once he was knocked into unconsciousness.

"Poor kid," Mrs. Ichinose said, "Can't catch a break at all."

Godai's left eye twitched as Kyoko and the others tried to revive him from the incident. If only they had just a moment longer, then she would have heard want he obviously had been wanting to say to her all throughout the match.

---

"So what is this I hear about your not telling us that you went out with Mitaka last week?" Akemi said.

Kyoko shied away, "It was not a date! After everyone's practice, he helped me work on my backhand, that's all."

"Uh-huh," she replied, unconvinced, "I'm sure that's all he wanted to work on!"

"And it got late, so we both had dinner. It was nothing at all!"

"Mitaka is indeed quite subtle," Yotsuya said.

"That's one way to put it," Akemi said, then looking at Godai, "Shouldn't you be getting our tickets?"

"I, uh, well..." he mumbled. In truth, Godai was on his way to the ticket window just as Mitaka was brought up. He happened to listen in, trying to get in on some of the gossip.

Yotsuya teased, "If we do not get to our seats in time for kickoff, we shall surely blame you for it."

"Alright, alright!" Godai cried as he marched off, "Just keep your shirt on!" Once again, they made him do all the work. But he was no longer concerned about that, even if it was a thoroughly thankless task that bothered him all week long when he should have been excited about the game. No, his mind was on other things.

Mitaka was being more friendly than usual around Kyoko. He was like a shark - and had the teeth for it, too - waiting for just the right moment to make Kyoko his own. How he rivaled the man! And yet, Godai himself hadn't done much to prove his own worthiness to her. He, too, was waiting for the right moment. But he was slowly coming around to the realization that it may never come.

Now was the time to be spontaneous, Godai thought. He could do it during the game, in front of everyone else. Among a crowd of thousands, Kyoko couldn't possibly refuse him!

---

"I love you, Kyoko!" Godai fantasized, "Please be mine!"

"Godai, that is so sweet!" she said.

"Kiss me, Kyoko. Hold me forever."

"Always, Godai, always."

---

"OH, YES!" Godai cried out, grinding everyone around him to a halt. They looked at him curiously as he snapped out of his fantasy.

"What's his problem?" one said.

"Beats me," said another, "He must really love soccer..."

Embarrassed, Godai composed himself and tried to exit the attention of curious bystanders. Still, as he made for the tickets at the window, his intentions were clear. Never before had he been so foolishly confident about his chances.

---

They all settled down into their seats, up close to the pitch but among a very raucous home crowd. Already, this was beginning to look like a foolish idea. But Godai dismissed it as amateur, high school-like jitters, as he could no doubt feel along with the others the electricity of the environment at Saitama Stadium.

"Kyoko!" Godai said at the top of his lungs, despite her sitting right next to him.

"Yes?" Kyoko said, trying to match his volume.

"I wanted you to know..."

"What?"

"I said, I want you to know...!"

But Kyoko shook her head, "I'm sorry, I can't hear a thing!"

Godai bit his lip. He was still as determined as ever, but he would just have to wait for things to settle down.

---

Things eventually did settle into a lull, as the opposing side scored the initial goal. The flags stopped waving and the noisemakers stopped sounding. A time of jubilation turned into a very tense situation for every fan in the stadium.

Godai was one of them, but his romantic ambitions turned to one of obsession. For once, he felt he was finally losing time! He had to confess to Kyoko! It didn't matter when and it didn't matter where, he just had to do it.

Kyoko watched him tense up. "Are you alright?" she asked.

Godai looked at her, "Huh? Oh! Yeah, I'm just fine."

"There's plenty of time left, you know."

"What did you say?" Godai said with his eyebrows raised.

"In the game. Don't worry!"

He nodded in confused agreement, "Oh, right! Yeah, absolutely."

Kyoko smiled at him warmly. She asked, "About before. What were you trying to say?"

"Me? Yes, before!" he said, stumbling desperately for words having been caught off-guard.

"Godai," Kyoko replied, "You seem very stressed today."

"When is he not?" Yotsuya said, sitting in a seat behind the two of them.

"You shut up!" Godai cried.

"It's not my fault that you're simply a nervous wreck."

"I said knock it off!"

"Well?" Kyoko asked again, "It seemed important enough, so tell me!"

"Right," Godai said, a bit more confident this time, now holding Kyoko by the hand, "You see...it's just that...Kyoko--what're you doing!?"

She looked behind her towards the seat next to her, and sure enough, Mrs. Ichinose had a rather large bottle of sake stashed away, taken out at exactly the wrong moment.

"What?" she said, "We're losing, I need a drink!"

"Well, hope you brought cups," Yotsuya replied, "Don't forget to share!"

"I'll have one too!" Akemi cried.

Godai spoke up, "You can't have that here! We'll all get in trouble!"

"What, are you going to rat on us?"

"I'll be very disappointed in you if you sell us out, Godai."

"Alright, alright, just keep it to yourselves, OK?" Godai said.

"Where's the fun in that?" Mrs. Ichinose persisted, "But, alright."

Godai folded his arms, almost certain that the officials would find them out on their way to being thrown out of the stadium without warning. He could just imagine the incident they could spark amongst a crowd of rowdy partisans.

"Godai!" Kyoko said, playfully nudging him along, "Out with it!"

"Yes, I suppose so," he said, clearing his throat and gathering up all of his resolve, "Kyoko, I've been meaning to say that I--"

"THAT'S A GOAL!" a fan cried, prompting everyone to rise up from their seats to bear witness to the home team's score. The stadium crowd hit a fever pitch as Godai's words were brutally cut off from any sense of recognition. To top it off, he no longer had Kyoko's attention; she was joining along in the sudden air of festivity. He remained the lone person left in his seat, pouting about his blown chance.

"We scored a goal, Godai!" a bubbly Kyoko cried, "Isn't that wonderful?"

He nodded slowly, "Yeah, just wonderful."

---

The home team never fell behind again, and even scored another goal before letting their opponents tie it up, meaning that Saitama Stadium remained as noisy as ever for the bulk of the ninety minutes. Even Godai was getting into the game - that was what he was there for in the first place, and Kyoko was just as deeply interested - but his attempt at spontaneity was being spoiled very slowly until the opportunity faded away for good.

Finally, the noise died down just enough so that he could hear himself think again. The score was tied, the game was on the line, and everyone was simply on the edge of their seats. There was no reason for celebration. But Godai felt otherwise.

"You look like you're enjoying yourself," he said to Kyoko.

"Sure!" she replied, "This has been great. Just getting out of Ikkoku for the day is wonderful, don't you think?"

"Oh, yes," Godai said, beating around the bush, "Listen, about before..."

"Right, right. Why don't we just wait until after match?"

"There may not be a chance, Kyoko!" he insisted.

"What do you mean?" she asked, "Ahh...is something wrong?"

"No, nothing's wrong! I'm just...well...I just have to be out with it."

Kyoko looked at him, paying very close attention. This was the most direct they had ever been since they arrived at the stadium. This was probably Godai's last opportunity this time around.

"Kyoko," Godai said commandingly, "Kyoko, I lo--"

"LOOK OUT!"

They both looked forward. The ball was heading straight towards them. The crowd reacted as if to dodge a bullet headed into the stands, and some even covered their heads. Kyoko dodged to her left, knowing that it was very close to her. She got out of the line of fire, but another wasn't so lucky.

She looked to her right. "Godai!" she cried.

The ball bounced back forward into the first and second rows, and his head might have followed if the shot had more force. Godai hit his head against the metal portion of his seat and was knocked out cold. All those around him looked at him curiously as...

Kyoko raised his head up after he fell back into his seat as the ball sailed straight into his face. He immediately sported a sore red nose once he was knocked into unconsciousness.

"Poor kid," Mrs. Ichinose said, "Can't catch a break at all."

Godai's left eye twitched as Kyoko and the others tried to revive him from the incident. If only they had just a moment longer, then she would have heard want he obviously had been wanting to say to her all throughout the match.

---

He sprung back to life very slowly, and the first image that Godai saw was the face of a woman with whom he was very familiar.

"Yeah," Akemi said, "He's finally up!"

"Godai!" Kyoko cried, rushing to his side, "How are you feeling?"

He grunted, "Unh. What happened?"

"The ball landed on your head, my friend," Yotsuya said, "You were very lucky."

"C'mon," Kyoko pleaded, "It wasn't that serious!"

"Well, all the same, the game is over."

"What? I missed it?"

"You bet," Mrs. Ichinose said, "We took it, we won!"

"The most thrilling goal in the history of the game. It will go down in the books for all time."

Godai's jaw dropped, "And I missed it?"

"It's OK," Kyoko said, "The most important thing is that you're alright. C'mon, let's go home."

"But wait!" he said. What a waste of an afternoon! He didn't get to confess to Kyoko at all, he took a hard shot in his face with a loose ball, and on top of that, he missed an obviously decisive goal! It could hardly be worse. "Wait, there has to be more!" he cried.

"There really isn't," Akemi said, "Let's go. I want to tell all our friends back home about it."

"Indeed."

Kyoko helped him up as, one by one, they formed a line out of the stadium to head for home. Godai resisted, wanting to accomplish something - anything - in his brief time at the game.

"Kyoko, I--"

"Don't say a word. You've been hit pretty badly. You can tell me later."

"But, but--"

"What an unlucky kid," he heard Mrs. Ichinose say.

"Wait, we can't just go home!" he cried, "Wait! WAIT!"

END.

Next matches:

Episode Five: Russia v Tunisia @ Kobe

A Princess Nine Fanfic

Plus:

Special Episode: USA v Portugal @ Suwon, Korea Republic

A Gundam Wing Fanfic