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Sweater Weather

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Even though she had assisted them in winning many, many soccer matches, even going to Europe with them to play with a nationally ranked team, Kota hadn’t the faintest idea why she would still be afraid of kicking the damn ball in an empty playground. Reika had this habit of gasping any time it came 4 feet away from her as if she was in a monster movie. She would visibly shiver and close her eyes while her foot hesitantly shoots up to defend itself from any impact. It was almost like watching a squeaky toy, the type of toy Kota hated as a kid.

5 years after they won 2nd place. 5 years after they formed the best youth soccer teams in Japan and yet they would meet up in the playground and practice kicks and goals. Kota would lean against a tree, trying to maintain a stoic appearance and make his full 6’3 height intimidating to bystanders while Reika would show him all the new techniques she learned from her so called "personal trainer". Kota laughed inwardly as he recalled her ever so over-protective parents spend 10000 yen a day on an amateur trainer while Reika could almost always go to him for services free of charge. Yet, Reika herself was even more of a competent trainer than Kota. Reika had become a strong, toned, and even a slightly muscled young woman but she still was the timid and squeamish self she back when they first met. Yet Kota supposed he too hadn’t changed much besides growing to become a giant and have two other giants backing him up on the field.

But the real thrill came from training with Reika and watching her grow limitless.

That is until the ball hit his face.

Reika did that traditionally Reika panic mode and ran over bowing for forgiveness. If they were in elementary school, who knows what Kota may have done or said. Now, he just found himself laughing.

Back in elementary school, Kota would have beaten himself if he got lost in his own thoughts. Now he just does it when Reika is near.

“ really like watching me train?” Her tiny voice shook him out of his thoughts. She dribbled the ball slightly, looking down trying to hide the blush on her face. Kota found this cute and also good since he too was secretly blushing.

“It’s-It’s not like I have anything better to do. Ryuuji and Ouzou can be pretty boring after a while.” Kota did not want to admit it was “black belt” day and wanted to evade the wrath of his mother.

Reika giggled softly and Kota thought his heart had expanded. There was something so..peaceful about moments like this. Where it was just them. Sure, they were pretty introverted and did not open up as much about their new lives in high school but it had already felt like they never left each other’s side.

“You don’t always have to watch me train…”

Kota felt that only moment of joy he weekly felt just vanished.

“You have your own high school soccer team and nationals to worry about. You run your mother’s dojo. You have scouters looking out for you...and yet you still watch me train,” Reika breathed hard and almost worriedly.

“I come here because I want to come here,” Kota responded curtly, “and because I don’t have to deal with my brothers.”

Kota had no sense of humor but even he hoped that last remark who make Reika giggle. It did, but not in the way he wanted it to.

“Kota-kun, do you think that once we graduate, we can have moments like this again? Do you think when you become a nationally ranked player and wherever I end up going, this can still happen?”

“You make it sound like you’re breaking up with me when we aren't even dating.” Surprisingly, Kota was not being fueled by anger. It was more a sting of fear; fear that what Reika was saying may be true.

“I’m scared, Kota-kun. I know since we were in 6th grade you should me to stop being a scaredy cat but now it’s not when I kick the ball. It’s when I think that our team is going off into different directions.”

“I don’t get what you’re worrying about! Everyone eventually goes their own after high school!” And I don’t want this to end as well.

“I’m worried that by asking you to watch me, I’m taking away your future!”

“Fuck my future! I like you too much to care about it!”

And not even the sweater he was wearing could stop Kota’s blush from spreading across his body. First, he smack ed himself internally for sounding so corny (He’d make Ryuuji pay for making all those romance films he watches get to his head). Then he remembered what he said and wanted to crawl in a hole someone (Like the time Ouzou tried to sneak out of the house when they had training in the dojo and Mom caught him). Now, he just went to the tree and hit his head over and over, ignoring Reika’s attempts to pry him away from hurting himself.

“Kota-kun! Stop it! I like you too! I like too much that you’ll get a concussion if you keep doing that!”

Kota took a peak behind him to see an equally red Reika, also probably going through the same thought process he had. Only he took the closest tree in their proximity. The two just stood blushing like mad, shaking, avoiding nervous glances. It was Reika that made the first move. “ I want to hit my head...I’m so embarrassed...And selfish! I shouldn’t have said those things and now we're both embarrassed-”

Before she could finish, Kota swung around and grabbed in a tight hug, bending almost half his height to bury himself in her hair. Reika got hot feeling his breathing on top of her. The heat between them was palpable but innocent. Reika wanted to melt into it. She felt strength again in her arms as well she embraced Kota as well. The two hugged each other for what seemed like hours.

“You do realize that while I love you, it’s also fucking cold and you’re really warm.” Kota muttered embarrassingly. Reika let out a chuckle. She then guided her hands to Kota’s face. A face that while matured still had the same air as he did in 6th grade. Kota too was drowned in her warm gaze.

“Reika..can I kis-”

A question was not needed as Reika crushed his lips onto hers. By now, their sweaters weren’t keeping them warm anymore.