And here it is. The end. Not much to say, aside from MOTHER 3. If you ever care about something in Japanese aside from Ouendan, it'd better be THAT. In fact, go out and get it now. Don't hope for an American release, it'll never come. So go and get it! NOW.
Anyway, have fun with the end of this story!
"I… can't hold on… much longer…" the man said, holding on tightly to a branch that stuck out from the cliff he was dangling over. He had been working on a new road just outside of Yuuhi Town… and on his way home he slipped while walking down the steep hill between Yuuhi Town and Asahi Town. He had tumbled quite a far bit, and finally grasped a branch that stuck out. What was he supposed to do now…?
"Someone…" he said, ignoring the pain that was the result of various cuts on his body, "Someone… help…!" What was he supposed to do…? There was something that he had learned… when he was in need of help, he was supposed to call something out… "Help…! Help…! Ouenda------n!!"
As if from nowhere, three men appeared, sliding down the hill to a small outcropping on the cliff. The leader nearly fell over, but uprighted himself, "Osu!" The three shouted in unison. The man looked up, and stared in disbelief at the leader. The leader, likewise, looked down, and they stared at each other.
"F-Father…!!" Hajime shouted, dropping to his knees, "Are you alright?"
"What are you doing here? Where is your mother?"
"Father! Don't worry; we'll get you out of there!!" Hajime shouted down to his father. He extended his hand, "Father, reach out and grab my arm! I'll pull you up!"
Atsushi suddenly reached out and grasped Hajime's shoulder, "Hajime-san. You know that the Ouendan don't work that way."
Hajime looked up at his friend, "But Atsushi-san! He's my…"
"The very reason Kai-san told you not to come…" Ittetsu said, "You wouldn't be able to work without your emotions…"
Hajime looked angry, "And so what if I use my emotions? My FATHER is down there!"
"I can't hold on much longer! I thought you were supposed to HELP people!" Susumu roared, making Hajime flail reflexively.
"Hajime-san. You must cheer for your father, just like you would for any person," Atsushi peered at Hajime as if staring within his very soul, "You will help him more that way than any other…"
Hajime fought an internal battle, but he knew, deep down inside, that his friends were right. Kai had known he would react that way, and asked them to help him. He looked up, nodded, and whirled around, "Father! You can do it!" He cheered, "Pull yourself up! You can do it!"
"How is THAT supposed to help?" Susumu shouted, "Help me up!"
"You can do it!" Hajime shouted. Atsushi and Ittetsu backed him up, "Father! Do your best! Pull yourself up! Hurry! Hurry!"
Susumu growled and groaned, but with the three cheerers' help, he was able to pull himself up enough to grab a small outcropping. It was not a moment too soon, as the twig he was holding onto loosened enough to slip out and fall down the small cliff. He scrambled to find a foothold, and blinked when he did. Standing quite awkwardly on a small bush, grasping a sharp, pointed rock, he looked up at the Ouendan, "Now what?"
"Keep it up, Father! You can save yourself!" Hajime cheered in response, "Please Father, do your best!"
"Easy for you to say…" Susumu muttered. He grunted loudly and reached up for another rock, and was surprised that he actually grabbed it. He could have sworn it was further away than that… "H…Hajime…! How close am I?"
"Very close Father! You're doing wonderfully! Do your best, you can do it! Father, you're magnificent!" Hajime wasn't sure if he was saying those things because it was known to help his targets or whether he actually meant them. He decided it was because of the latter.
Another step up. Susumu was able to keep one foot on the sharp rock, and he held onto the second rock for dear life, "I… I can't hold on much longer…"
"Just one more hand up, come on Father, you can do it!" Hajime protested. His father nodded and reached up to grab at the ledge the Ouendan were on…
And the rock his foot was on slipped. His foot dislodged it, and Hajime's heart caught in his throat as he saw his father begin his descent into oblivion, "F…Father…!!" The Ouendan Recruit dropped down intuitively, and immediately grasped at his father's arm. Susumu was kept from freefalling to his death, "…D…Don't scare me like that…!" He said with a smile.
"Cheer harder next time, Son," Susumu said, a frown on his face. Hajime's smile disappeared, but then his father smiled, "Now help me up, please." The young Ouendan smiled again. It was the first time his father ever said "Please" to him…
Ittetsu and Atsushi reached out and assisted Hajime in pulling up his father. They supposed that sometimes it was okay to bend the rules a bit. At least everything turned out for the best!
Tanaka Susumu gasped for air. The climb back up to the main road was a tough one, but with his son's cheering and his physical assistance, he got up with hardly any more scratches than he already had. He rested a bit on the floor as Hajime checked him over, "So…" He said to Ittetsu, "Is that what you Ouendan do?"
"Anyone who needs assistance will obtain it," Ittetsu replied.
"You look alright, Father," Hajime said, adjusting his glasses, "But you need to wash out these scratches. They could get infected if you don't take care of them."
"Yes, Doctor," Susumu replied. Hajime blushed at his father's sudden respect for him. He really wasn't used to it, and wasn't sure how to speak to him. Susumu looked up at Hajime's cap, and blinked at it, "What's that on there, Hajime?"
The young man looked up at the brim of his hat, "Huh?" He asked, taking it off, "Oh, that's our logo. It's our squad's sign. Doumeki-san said that there are other Ouendan squads all over Japan, and we have to keep these on here so people can tell us apart…" Hajime reapplied his hat, "Or something like that."
"I see…" Susumu said. He looked at Hajime's smile, and looked far off into the distance, "It suits you."
"I suppose if you're so hell bent on following this fantasy profession of yours…" The man said, standing up slowly, "Then there's nothing I can do to stop you. Just make sure to help anyone who needs it. Do you understand?"
"I do, Father."
"They're trusting you with their wellbeing. If you fail them, you never deserved to be an Ouendan in the first place," A smile appeared on Susumu's face, "And if you can't take care of people by cheering, how can you take care of them through medicine?"
"Father, I understand…"
"So I will expect you to work hard and not let those who trust you down."
"Father, is there something you don't want to tell me?" Hajime asked, "Do you want me to walk you home?"
Susumu glared at his son, "No." He said flatly. Hajime tried not to smile, "I fully expect you to come visit the house once in a while."
"I'll see you tomorrow, alright, Father?"
"Bring that Aoi-san. She was a nice girl," He said as he began down the hill, "She'd make a good daughter-in-law."
"I'll think about it, Father…" Hajime stated, although most of it was a lie to keep in good standing with his father. He was still completely red in the face as he waved goodbye to the retreating form of his father. The other Ouendan waited until Hajime sighed and turned around, "Alright, I think we're done for…" He interrupted himself with a loud yawn, "…for tonight."
Ittetsu and Atsushi looked at each other, smiling knowingly, "Alright, Hajime-san," Atsushi said, "Let's go home." Home. To Hajime, it was the greatest word in the world. It was the place where his family and friends were. He was going home, and the recruit couldn't be happier to hear it.
Hajime found the Headquarters (not surprisingly) quiet. Most everyone had already gone to bed, and the moment Hajime and his entourage returned home; the two bid the recruit farewell and went off to their respective dorms. The recruit went back to the living room to collect his book and turn off whatever light was still on in there, and he was surprised to find Ryuuta and Aoi sleeping in that very room. Ryuuta was splayed out across his favorite lounging armchair, and Aoi had curled up on Hajime's favorite reading couch near his book. Hajime sighed lightly with a smile; they must have been waiting for him and fell asleep when he took so long. He moved across the room and grabbed an afghan from the back of the couch, and moved to place it over the Cheer Girl.
It was then that he saw his book. Aoi had curled up with it, and he did his best not to groan audibly. He reached out to attempt to pick it out of her hands without waking her, and she curled up more, giggling lightly, "Haji-kun doesn't know I'm awake…" She said softly.
"You could be less sneaky about it, Aoi-san," Hajime replied, placing his hand on his hip as she sat up and handed her friend his book, "Why are you up so late, anyway?"
"Ryuuta-kun woke up," Aoi replied. It took Hajime a moment to remember that Ryuuta was in an intoxicated stupor when the recruit had left him, "And got mad that you had left without telling him. He said he wanted to know if you were a happy or sad drunk." Hajime blinked in confusion, "So he decided to wait for you. I thought I should too…"
"I'm not going to disappear again, you know," Hajime said with a smile. Aoi looked away with a frown.
"I know…" She murmured, "But it happened so suddenly last time… I suppose we're still a little afraid." She looked up at Hajime and giggled lightly, "You know, it'd be funny if we were always on edge about this. We'd never let you leave the dorms! You'd be like a little pet, you know?"
"So that's what I am now, huh?" Hajime asked good-naturedly, pretending to look mad, "I'm the Ouendan Mascot?"
Aoi laughed aloud, but quieted down when she remembered Ryuuta was still sleeping. She continued to play along, "How about we put cat ears on you? Then you'll need a cute thing to say after every sentence you say. How about 'Nyaaa'?"
Now it was Hajime's turn to keep from laughing, "Aoi-san…"
"No good? How about 'Desu no'?"
"Alright, Haji-kun," Aoi replied. She stood from the couch and took the afghan from her friend, and went to place it over the Ouendan Leader. He snorted lightly, but didn't stir, "How come all of you men have to be so cute…?" She asked rhetorically, giggling at Ryuuta's red, drunken face, "it's as if all of Yuuhi town's adorable men are all living here…"
She suddenly remembered who she was taking to, and turned to see a lightly red recruit, "Well, you know…" he muttered, "You seem to think all men are cute, Aoi-san…"
"I suppose that's right…" She said lightly to herself through a half blush. The two stood in silence, until she spoke up again, "Perhaps I should to go bed then…" She moved to walk past the recruit, but Hajime reached out and asked her to wait.
"Aoi-san…" Hajime said. She turned around and looked at him quizzically, "You know… Father invited me to spend tomorrow with my family." The recruit gulped, "He wanted to know… well… it's really ME who wants to know… but… would you like to come with me…?"
Aoi stared at the recruit, and the Cheer Girl suddenly smiled, "Alright then! It's a date!"
"A date!?" Hajime practically cried, his blush rising. Aoi giggled and skipped off, and Hajime raced after her, trying hard not to wake the others around him, "Aoi-san, stop putting words in my mouth! That's not what I meant!"
But the more Hajime shouted, the more he knew deep down it was exactly what he meant.
Hope you enjoyed it. I really did like writing it, and I hope you liked reading it!