Hi! Sorry about the earlier format. Have fixed it and hope it works better. Thanks for the help!
Title: Live Up To The Uniform
Author: Lady Addiction
Pairing/Characters(for gen): Mizuno, Kazamatsuri
Summary: Mizuno contemplates leadership.
Disclaimer: Whistle! is not mine, thanks.
1. Spoilers for episodes 1-35.
2. Challenge fic for “Leadership” challenge. Took about 30-35 minutes. Am not too sure it’s all that coherent either.
3. Eto, all knowledge of soccer is based on the anime. Pardon for all the technical misses.
Second challenge fic. Anyway, please let me know what you think and hope you enjoy!
He stared at the familiar blue cloth with its black piping and white markings. A hand reached out to trace the large number 10 emblazoned at the back. It was a uniform he had fought daily for during the difficult, three-day Tokyo Senbatsu Team trials.
He wanted, no, he needed to believe that he deserved this uniform.
10 was the mark of a soccer team’s best player. The gamemaker. The moodmaker.
Mizuno Tatsuya clutched at that uniform, only so recently worn by someone other than himself. He imagined that it was still warm from Kazamatsuri’s body. He gazed at nothing in particular as he sat on the carpeted floor of his bedroom.
He could not believe it at first, when Saionji-coach benched him during that game against Rakuyou Middle School. Sure, he had made that miss, had fouled up a pass – but to bench him?!
It shouldn’t have hurt. It was Kazamatsuri’s first chance to finally play an official game, even if it was only a practice match. He should have been happy to finally see the smaller boy get the opportunity he had been waiting for, working for.
But never had Mizuno thought that Kazamatsuri’s chance would come at the cost of his own position. Kazamatsuri played forward, not midfielder. He was number 9, not 10. Stripping that uniform off had been surprisingly easy, with him still numb from the shock, but handing it over…
Mizuno leaned back against his bed, dragging his sock-clad feet closer to his body so he could rest his elbows comfortably on his knees. The uniform was clutched between both hands. He couldn’t fault their coach for her choice – after all, it was Kazamatsuri who had somehow managed to do what he himself couldn’t. It was Kazamatsuri’s plays that had paved the win for them.
Somehow, that vibrant never-say-die player had bridged the communication gaps between the team members, using his hands, his eyes, his entire mind and body. For all that he was the weakest physically, and the least skilled, he had earned the team’s respect and admiration with his clever plays and unwavering concentration.
That game brought home to Mizuno just how much Kazamatsuri Shou had contributed to the development of Sakura Jousui as a team, of himself as a soccer player. It was easy to acknowledge Kazamatsuri’s contributions. He had never denied that. However, it was harder to accept that his own accomplishments paled in comparison.
Mizuno thought back to those days of playing with Sakura Jousui. Even more than the Tokyo Senbatsu, the skill level, drive, and dedication of the Sakura Jousui players differed wildly. Some of them he had played with ever since he entered the school, others lured in by their increasing success. However, Mizuno now realized that never had he seen the iron will and determination that had won them so many games.
It was Kazamatsuri Shou that had implanted that in them. Kazamatsuri, who, inspite of the humiliation he had first suffered when he transferred, had revitalized a dying team and unmotivated athletes; Kazamatsuri, who inspired others to practice persistently from when the sun rose until it set because of his desire to grow as an athlete; Kazamatsuri, who reached out and touched the hearts of Fuwa, of Noro, of Shige, of Takai, of the other Sakura Jousui members, and those of their opponents – softening those rough edges and reuniting them in a cohesive whole of spirited competition.
Mizuno may have been the team captain and undisputed leader, but Kazamatsuri was the standard everyone compared themselves to, the well of energy and strength all drank desperately from.
Saionji-coach had told him that, although the number 10 was usually assigned to the best player in a soccer team, the official leader during the game, it also belonged to the single most trusted player in the team.
That was something his father had never taught him. Mizuno had no doubts that, to Kirihara, number 10 belonged to the most capable.
Kazamatsuri had demonstrated that it should also belong to the most trustworthy.
Mizuno sighed and rubbed at his face. It was late and he had practice the next day. He stowed the freshly-washed uniform in his bags, did his evening ablutions, and finally slipped beneath the blankets. Tucked in up to his chin, he stared at the ceiling.
Saionji-coach had given him the keys on how to become the true core of the Tokyo Senbatsu Team. Skill and trust. He had the one, but not the other.
He still had a lot of work to do.
- FIN -