Fallen Through

Misunderstood: Soccer Score

-Syaoran-

Riku slapped me on the shoulder on my way to last hour gym.

“Good day in PE today,” my soccer teammate said with a wide grin.

I scoffed. Riku hates gym class with a passion I could never understand. He does play soccer, after all. Then again, it was difficult for me to sympathize. Natural athletic ability made gym one of my best classes.

“Why is that?” I stopped walking to humor him.

The grin on his face stretched wider.

“Today, Li-taichou, we're playing the holy sport... soccer.”


Riku wasn't kidding when he said we were playing soccer. Toshi-sensei yelled for the boys and girls to line up on opposite sides of the indoor soccer field before dividing us up further into three-man teams. Yamazaki Takashi whooped in glee when it was announced he was paired up with Eriol and me.

A winning combination no doubt. Was it really a good idea to place three Seijyu soccer players on the same team?

“Take that, Chiharu!” Takashi yelled across the room to Mihara. “We will own you in this match!”

The field cleared and I saw our opponents for the first time. Mihara's okay at soccer, courtesy of growing up with Takashi, Daidouji, a pretty good player for someone not on the girls' soccer team, and her, the kaijuu.

“I wouldn't bet on it,” Mihara answered, a daring grin on her lips.

I glanced back at Eriol, silently asking about the kaijuu's soccer capabilities. He shrugged and pushed his glasses up on his nose. I see—he's never seen her play before either.

The whistle blew and the kaijuu has possession of the ball. “Daidouji!” She passed the ball and Daidouji took it up field. She kicked and scored.

1-0

“Man up, Takashi, and stop flirting with Mihara!” I yelled jokingly to our goalie. “Complete novices are beating us at our game!”

Takashi flashed me an obscene gesture, earning a furious whistle from Toshi-sensei. “Gomen, gomen!” He laughed it off before the whistle blew and started another play.

Eriol took the ball downfield and passed it to me. I'm about to score with a completely distracted Mihara at the goal but my foot hits nothing.

I blinked. What the-? Balls don't disappear—oh.

The kaijuu fluidly wove through Eriol's defense, passing the ball back and forth with Daidouji. She kicked and—

Scored?

I looked again. Takashi was picking up the ball to throw it in. She must have scored.

I have possession again, determined to tie the game. It'll be easy with the flustered Mihara acting as goalie. Whoever claimed that talk wasn't an important part of the game needs to get on the field and play some real soccer. With a few casual taunts, I broke through the girls' defense without breaking a sweat.

Two feet away from the goal—from an easy goal—the kaijuu came out of nowhere and kicked it so hard it soared through the air and landed neatly in the goal.

Past Yamazaki again.

Toshi-sensei blew the whistle, signaling the end of the game. We lost 3-0. Horribly might I add.

“That was the single most humiliating game I've ever played,” Eriol groaned as we walked back inside towards the locker rooms.

A head of auburn moved into my line of sight and the sarcastic comment I was about to say died in my throat.

Who is this girl, who bested three Seijuu soccer players—the captain, the midfielder, and the left forward—at their own game? Kinomoto Sakura was an exceptional player, and if she played for the girls' team, they probably would have a winning season instead of the string of pathetic losses on their record.

Toshi-sensei came out of the equipment room. “Kinomoto,” he called. “Nice kick. You make Toya-kun proud.”

Kinomoto gave our teacher a small smile, but I was too stunned by the sight of it for her reply to sink in my brain.

“Thank you. It must be in my blood.”

“I'm telling you, Kinomoto, your talent is wasted. Surely, I could talk to Tanazaki-sensei about tryouts-”

“Toshi-sensei,” she quietly, but firmly, interrupted. “I appreciate the thought, but really, it's unnecessary.”

She didn't say anything else other than to excuse herself to change. Eriol fidgeted uncomfortably next to me.

“Eriol,” I said as I pulled open the locker room door. “Were tryouts that bad?”

My best friend didn't say anything for the longest time, deliberately organizing his soccer duffle for our afternoon practice and swapping our gym uniform for our practice jersey.

“It's not tryouts that's bad,” he finally answered, shouldering his bag. “It's the team you try out for.”


I don't know how long I sat in the locker room, but my ringing cell phone pulled me out of my daze.

Practice??? Did losing that soccer game in gym shake you up THAT much?

I ignored Eriol's text, changed into my practice jersey and exited the locker room. At the same time, Kinomoto left the girls' locker room.

She slung a drawstring backpack over one shoulder and her thumb moved over the touchscreen of her cell phone.

I don't know what crazy impulse seized me, but I ran to catch up with her, yelling for her to wait. To my surprise, she turned around and immediately scowled.

“Li-”

“Where did you learn to play like that?” I cut her off before she could tell me to stay the hell out of her business. “Toshi-sensei is right—your talent is totally wasted not playing for Seijuu. I mean, none of the girls on the soccer team could beat me in a scrimmage-”

“Li,” Kinomoto said, giving me a cold stare. “Not every thing is about you. Didn't your mother teach you not to eavesdrop? Stay the hell out of my business and I'll stay out of yours.”

She started to walk away.

“Who's Toya?” I yelled after her.

At this, she paused and turned around again. “Shouldn't you know why Seijuu hasn't won nationals since 1998?”

The reference to the national tournament made me freeze. It was my personal mission to ensure we weren't wiped out at semi-finals for the sixth time.

“What do you know about nationals?”

She gave me a sardonic smile before giving me a flippant salute with two fingers and walking off. I stood there, frozen. Kinomoto didn't have to say anything yet I still felt smaller than an ant.

She didn't blush or stutter uncontrollably. She remained calm and composed during our entire exchange. Much to my embarrassment, I'm the one who lost composure.

It was different. She was different.

Expect the unexpected.


Eriol laughed at me, the tears of mirth streaming down his pale face.

"Hahahahaha... she... oh Kami... hahaha... you... and her... hahaha... Syaoran... can't breathe!"

"Good," I grumbled. "I hope you can't. Serves you right for laughing at me. Better yet, I hope you have asthma and die from asphyxiation."

That finally calmed Eriol down.

"You're a terrible person. A cruel and terrible person. So terrible not even Lucifer would claim your soul," he pouted.

I gave him a pointed look and raised an eyebrow. "Dude, there's like... forty different man-laws out there against men pouting. Knock it off."

"And there are fifty different man-laws against men saying the word 'like' like a girl,” my best friend retorted good-naturedly.

I froze. That was a good comeback. "Touché," I answered simply.

My cell phone rang a forbidding tone, one my cousin ripped off from a Japanese horror film. It fit though; the tone was the ringer ID for a certain group of people.

"Dun dun dun dun!" Eriol sang along. "Your mother calls!"

Shooting him a dirty look, I answered the phone, slipping back into cool demeanor I perfected as the Li heir. "Moshi moshi, Li here," I said.

Unfortunately, my mother chose the perfect opportunity to switch languages on me. She started speaking in rapid Cantonese.

"Xiao Lang, I hope you can do me a small favor? It's rather important you see..."

Rather important? Wow, that must mean it's really important if my mother, the mighty Li Yelan, saying it's important.

"What?" Eriol whispered, just as bewildered as I am.

"What do I need to do?" I asked.

She told me.

And I swore in English.

"Bloody hell."


-Sakura-

If the sky was a mirror
Would I see my reflection?
If the water was clearer
Would I have no confusion?
And if I defy
The laws of Nature
Would I die
Or burn in an eternal hell?

Would you guess
That I don't know what to take
In regards to my path?
And did you know
That our love was never meant
To last?
And if I
Could say
One final saying
Would you stay
Or will you turn and
Walk away?

I strode over to the radio and turned it off.

"I was listening to that, kaijuu."

My brother growled at me over his stack of papers.

"Deal with it, Nii-san," I snapped back. "You hear it all the time. Why would one radio play make a difference?"

"Because it's good enough to get on the radio in the first place? What did the artist do—bribe a few people, find all the right connections at the right time?"

I glared at him and his dark eyes filled with regret.

"Sakura, that's not what I meant."

"Then what?" I exploded. "What did you mean, Nii-san?"

I turned on heel and ran up the stairs to my room, ignoring my brother's frantic pleas for forgiveness. Slamming my door shut, I glared at the crisp blank sheets sitting on the music stand before my eyes.

"Don't mock me!" I yelled, knocking the stand over and scattering the pages on the floor.

"You could never amount to anything, Sakura. You're too weak and insignificant."

I heard the doorbell ring and my cousin's familiar soft tenor echoing through the ventilation shafts. Toya was going out to play a game of soccer with Yukito and a bunch of their college friends at Penguin Park.

Soccer...

What's so special about the stupid sport anyway?

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