Hello all, and thank you once again for supporting the Full Court Press! Project all of this time. I just wanted to announce to you all that starting maybe on November, I will start working on a revised edition of the Full Court Press! Trilogy. I'll be writing all three stories, TO!S!, Snowbanks and FCP! together into one story and I'll be revising the chapters to make the story flow smoothly and to tie up some loose ends that I may come across – hopefully, I can make an FCP! 2.0!
In any case, I hope you enjoy this little Afterstory chapter I wrote up! I would appreciate any and every bit of feedback you send my way! So, here it is, the Afterstory!
Full Court Press!
"Hirasawa-san! Hirasawa-san!" cried reporters as they encircled Ui at the Narita International Airport. The reporters surrounding her with microphones, lights and cameras, making the younger Hirasawa wince from the brightness. "Hirasawa-san! Comment!"
"I'm sorry." Ui apologized with a bow, shrugging away the question and giving herself some room to breathe, "I'm really tired right now and I'd really like to have my rest. Also…"
She pointed to one of the TV departure screens, "I don't want to miss my plane home."
The cameras turned to the TV departure screen and saw a Japan Airlines plane departing from Tokyo to Osaka. When they turned back to Ui, she was already a good distance away pulling her hand-carry trolley towards security. The news anchors then started to move in one massive blob, ready to overpower the security personnel to surround Ui again. However, they were halted by the steeled Shoichi and Sarina Yagihara who blocked the reporters' paths.
"Let her go, you lot." Shoichi told the insistent reporters, "You all have some nerve trying to pester a young girl like that."
"But… she's the prime artist of Japan – one of the greatest solo artists of the decade!" one of the newscasters argued, "Is this the end of Hirasawa-san's career?"
"She's been working hard these past five years, and a contract is a contract. She fulfilled her terms – she deserves to go home." Sarina then countered, "Hirasawa-san also deserves the right to choose what she wants to do with her life. Who knows what the future holds for someone like her?"
It was afternoon at the entrance of Osaka International Airport, hundreds of people were moving to and fro as planes came and went. It was a bit of a boring place, I thought as I sat at one of the waiting area seats. Aside from the announcements blaring every now and then, the occasional funny commercial on the television or the anime series one of the people I was sitting behind happened to be watching, the place was pretty stale. Even though I had been drinking from a large paper cup of coffee for the past thirty minutes, this place was threatening to lull me to sleap. Damn it – see, I can't even think properly.
However, I wasn't bored. Rather, my heart was racing… and the anxiety I felt was getting harder and harder to bear. The reason – a small box I held on to protectively in my hand; a box that held all of my feelings for the girl that I love. The fact that ModokashiiSekainoUede and a whole host of songs from Ui's three studio albums were playing on the airport's speaker systems didn't help me calm down either.
I've been hearing Ui's magnificent voice over the radio and on the television often since she finally debuted as a performing artist, yes… but I've been longing to hear her voice all these years. I closed my eyes and fondly tried to imagine the scene.
Yeah… just like that. She'd be calling out to me, her voice accompanied by quick footsteps…
Man, thinking about it makes me feel all mushy inside. What happened to my snarky self, damn it? Not that I want it back, though.
Now it's getting louder… and I hear a pair of rolling trolley wheels now too… Wait a second… I jolted up from my seat, nearly spilling my coffee on my white shirt. I had been dozing off the past few minutes without realizing it… and right in front of me stood my angel – Ui Hirasawa. With a carry-on trolley in one hand and her Telecaster guitar bag slung over her shoulder, my heart raced even faster. I downed my paper coffee cup in one go to make sure I wasn't dreaming – though I might risk palpitations at this rate. However… all the reassurance I needed was this…
"Satoshi-kun!" She cried a third time, embracing me with absolute delight.
"Ui-chan!" I hugged back, looking at her beautiful face unchanged by the time we had been apart. I gently placed my hand on her shoulders and my eyes met hers, sparkling as brightly as they did back in the old days. With a smile, I whispered, "Okaeri, Ui. Welcome home."
"I'm glad to be back." She said with great relief, genuinely happy to be back here in Osaka. Holding on to each other like this was a feeling I had definitely missed – I wanted to stay with her like this forever… I wanted to stay with her forever. Which is why…
"U-Ui!" I stammered all of the sudden, letting go of her and standing stiffly like a soldier, "I've…"
Damn it! It sounded so cool in my mind, but when I put it into words, it became absolute crap. SHAMEFUL DISPLAY*, SATOSHI! GAH! I took a deep breath and tried to start this proposal thing over, however…
In the distance, a mob of newscasters armed with microphones and cameras were rushing in to where the two of us stood. Ui's face soured, as did mine… I already saw Ui being interrogated by the Tokyo media on the television while waiting a while ago – I'm sure she didn't want to deal with the Osaka media right now.
"Come on – I brought my car here." I said, offering my hand to the girl, "I'll get us out of here, my Princess."
"More running, my dear Prince?" Ui played along, cheering up a little bit.
"Hey, hey…" I laughed, "At least they aren't wearing black suits – or working for some freaky emotionless contractor."
"Fair enough." Ui chuckled. She took my hand and we ran away from the media mob, enjoying ourselves all the way to the parking lot. She shoved her trolley into the trunk but carefully placed Tele at the backseat – a guitar isn't something you should just throw into a car, after all. She took the passenger's seat and I took the driver's, sparing us from a Becky Black dilemma*, started the engine, then drove off to the Western Osaka District.
"Wow…" Ui sighed heavily, "That was actually sorta' fun! Haha!"
She then turned to me and tilted her head.
"Satoshi-kun? Why do you look so depressed all of the sudden?"
Why am I so depressed, you ask? Just one reason, really… that media mob attack screwed up my proposal! FUUUUUU!
Now what in the hell do I do with that bulge over here… no, not that bulge – the box shaped one in my coat pocket. The other one's a different matter I won't bother (or disturb) you with today… Consider yourself lucky.
In any case… what do I do now? It took me a lot of heart to prepare and plan for this day and there it goes in an instant. To top things off, I had to endure hell of a lot of teasing from big sis Ritsu about it… 'Oh,Satoshi-kun,she'llbehereinaweek – isyourheartready?Ufufufu~!' It still echoes in my ears… but, it gave me an idea.
"Hey, Ui." I said, calming down a little bit. "Do you know what day it is today?"
The girl crumbled her brow in thought for a moment. Then, a bulb lit above her head.
"Ah!" Ui said happily, "Today's the Sakura-gakou Cultural Festival!"
"Right-o." I grinned, glad that she remembered the Cultural Festival… or rather, glad that I remembered the Cultural Festival. "If you're not too tired from your trip home, what do you say we swing by and watch the performances?"
"That would be great, Satoshi-kun! I wouldn't mind at all!" Ui cheered, determined to go to Sakura-gakou, "See, I'm not tired at all anymore! And maybe we'll get to see Ritsu-nee there too, huh?"
"You still call her Ritsu-nee after all these years, huh?"
"You still call onee-chan as Yui-nee." Ui beamed, "Onee-chan told me that you called her that all throughout university and you still do!"
"Eh… but Yui-nee is…"
Crap, I called Yui-nee as Yui-nee… damn, I even think of her as Yui-nee! Is her pseudo-sisterhood to me that ingrained in me already?
"See?" Ui smirked, "I'm just matching your dedication and love, Satoshi-kun."
She then looked outside, watching one of the Japan Airlines planes take off from the now distant airport.
"That's sorta what kept me going all that time, you know."
The girl suddenly blushed, scratching her face as if thinking of a new topic.
"So…" she hummed, "How are things going for you and everyone else?"
"Things have been great, Ui." I said confidently, watching the town's familiar sights with my passenger as we passed them by, "Things have been great."
After graduating from High School, everyone more or less went on their separate ways. France and Mugi-senpai went to a distinguished Tokyo business school to study and stayed in the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra as the head of the strings section and the lead pianist respectively. Mio-senpai went to the all-girl's university with this Megumi Sokabe person. Yui-nee, Ritsu and I all managed to attend the National University that Manabe-senpai went to – though our grades never ever came close to hers. Then, Azusa and Jun didn't even go to university at all, choosing instead to become travelling musicians. The two girls went around the Osaka prefecture and around the Kansai area, playing as a session guitarist and bassist respectively for bands that would take them in. Of all of the members of the Light Music Club from five years ago, it would be those two who still perform in bands – come to think of it, I'm a little envious to be honest, but I have no regrets with the path I chose after leaving the grounds of Osaka West Public High School for the last time.
Nowadays, all of us are settling into our new lives.
Ritsu received a job offer from Sakura-gakou to be a teacher's assistant in the music department and she happily accepted the offer. She's got a boyfriend now too, surprisingly, a salaryman working at a local bank and they've been talking about marriage lately – didn't know that large foreheads were attractive… damn, she'd hit me if she heard me say that. Hehe… But that guy better treat nee-chan well or I'm going to fucking rage.
Yui-nee ended up going to Kyoto, landing a job as a voice actress with Kyoto Animation and sidelining as a line cook at a high-end restaurant – Ui felt really proud that she learned to cook well. The roles she's been playing have really suited her too – especially a Certain Scientific Heat-Preserver girl she's playing for a big series… I forgot what it was called… Whatever it was, Yui-nee's becoming pretty popular in her own accord and has quite the fanbase going for her. Maybe I should check donburi* for fan art. Actually… maybe I shouldn't…
Mio-senpai and Sokabe-senpai went on a trip to San Francisco earlier this year. When they came back, we all found out that the two of them had gotten married there. Francis and I spent the whole day wondering what happened when… you know. Our healthy imaginations went wild – I'll spare you from the details. The two girls right now are activists for gay and lesbian rights in Japan – and they're considering adopting a child to raise as their own.
Francis and Mugi-senpai, as we all guessed, got married the moment they graduated university – about over a year ago. Mugi-senpai became part of the board of directors of the powerful Kotobuki Corp and Francis became Vice President of Finance. He even sidelines legal advise and works to keep the crumbling yet still thrashing Platinum Group from taking over Kotobuki Corp. Outside of work, the happy couple have twins – two bouncing babies that were quite the handful, but made the two young parents absolutely happy. Francis seemed pretty happy when he said that they were planning to have more kids in the future. Ui and I didn't expect any less from these two – we wish them well, and we'll be sure to lend a hand with their kids every now and then.
I, on the other hand, ended up replacing Francis at the West Osaka District newspaper, working under the guidance of my firebrand socialist upperclassman Natsuki Shinohara. I've climbed up the ranks in the past year, reaching the rank of junior editor and earning the rights to my own column. On top of that, though, I was considering offering drum lessons at the Osaka conservatory for a little extra income and to better spend my free time. In all honesty though, maybe it's because I'm starting to miss the drum set – neither my sister of I haven't been able to play it for quite some time now.
Ui however liked the idea of me being a music teacher at the conservatory. She said that now that she was retired from her recording contract, a job like that would suit her best – guitar and vocals perhaps. She'd teach that well, I told her, and a shy smile broke out on her face – it was really cute.
Engrossed in our talks, Ui and I barely noticed us approaching those familiar walls of Sakura-gakou. Tents and stalls could be seen from the street and crowds of people were about.
"The Cultural Festival's lively as always." Ui said with a smile as I parked the car by a nearby meter. "Too bad it's getting late."
Sadly, by the time we had gotten there, the sun was already setting quickly and the stars were starting to shine in the sky. Some of the stalls were already starting to close and a lot of the vendors were already going home. However, the distinct sound of band music – a powerful electric guitar, a energetic and timely bass, a steady drum. It was about this time that the Light Music Club would be performing at the auditorium.
"We can probably still catch the concert if we hurry!" I said, getting out of the car with Ui, "Let's go!"
The two of us walked with quick steps and weaved our way through the crowd. The layout of the cultural festival and the school may have changed a little bit over the years, but our feet remembered the way as if it were second nature to us. We reached the auditorium and slipped inside to find it filled with people. There were no seats left there for us, but we didn't mind standing – we were more than happy to watch the band of the joint Osaka-West/Sakura-gakou Light Music Club perform with fiery hearts.
I turned my eyes to Ui beside me and saw her watch the show with gleeful eyes. Maybe now would be a good time, I thought. I stuck my hand into my pocket and fished out the box I had been holding on to and hiding since this afternoon. However, just as I was pulling it out, the box slipped from my hand and tumbled to the sides. Crap! Of all the times to fumble… I bent over to pick up the box, but… someone picked it up before me.
"Nice box, bro." A familiar smirking voice called, "Weren't you supposed to be taking care of this?"
I looked up and saw my sister Ritsu, wearing some casual everyday clothes and an ID highlighted with 'STAFF'. Unlike before, she wore her hair down and her headband was nowhere to be seen. Having her hair down like that made her look like a whole new person, but that confident smirk of hers quickly reminds me who this person was – the large forehead helped too.
"Hey!" she complained immediately, "Why are you looking at my forehead like that?"
"Nothing much." I said, turning away and trying to act innocent.
"Anyways," Ritsu asked, folding her arms, "What brings you here…?"
My sister leaned forward and saw Ui standing beside me, enthralled by the performance. When she saw Ritsu looking at her, she turned to give her a quick wave. Ritsu waved back with the hand holding onto the box – luckily, she noticed and waved with her other hand instead.
"I see why you're here now." Ritsu said, returning the box to me, "Good luck, bro."
"Thanks." I said with a nod, pocketing the box again. "We'll leave after this song, then…"
"Wait, wait…" Ritsu said shaking her head, "Stay for a little while longer – two more songs, okay?"
"Eh-? But I…"
"Just stay put, Satoshi-kun." Ritsu reassured with a smile, "You'll understand soon enough."
While I was still wondering what Ritsu meant, the next song started to play. They were going to play a cover of 'Oui!AiKotoba'. One of their members even brought out a violin for the song, hah! After that, they would be playing 'FuwaFuwaTime'. Whoa… seriously?
"These are the first songs of the two bands that have inspired us." The lead vocalist said, her voice happy and sincere, "If it weren't for these two bands, and if it weren't for the help of Tainaka-sensei and Sawa-chan, we wouldn't have been able to make our own first song as a band!"
Tainaka-sensei and Sawa-chan, huh? Seems that old nickname stuck to Sawa-chan. I bet she's disappointed by that…
"So, here's to the legendary bands Hokago Tea Time and Okaeri!" The vocalist of the Light Music Club then cheered, "This is for all the inspiration you've given us!"
The band started to play those old songs of ours and I found myself awestruck – in a good way. Ui and I embraced each other as we watched and Ritsu leaned back against the wall with a satisfied look on her face. We ended up listening to both songs and the rest of the songs the third generation of the Light Music Club had in store for the audience that night.
After the show ended, a standing ovation greeted the Light Music Club. The boys and girls of Sakura-gakou and Osaka West wore wide smiles. Some of them were even in tears – shedding tears of happiness. It was very nostalgic…
"So now, you two…" Ritsu said, laying a hand on my shoulder and Ui's, "Big sis has to stay late and clean up around here – I'll have a chat with you two later, so drive home safely."
"Drive home?" I asked, "What about you?"
"I'm gonna walk, duh!"
"Ergh… you're the one staying late here, nee-chan." I said, taking out the car keys, "Here."
"You take the car home." I said to her, "I'll bring Ui to our house and we'll wait for you there – her things still are in the car, you see."
Ritsu was a little bit skeptical at first, wondering if I was just using her as a valet person (though that wouldn't be 99% wrong), but she finally understood what it was I wanted to do.
"Ah…" Ritsu said, a smile forming on her face, "Gotcha – she'd love to walk home from Sakura-gakou at least once more, huh?"
"Plus it's gonna get pretty cold later tonight, I heard." I added considerately, "If you're staying late, then you'd better take the car – you don't want to get sick again now, do you?"
"The Cultural Festival's over, kiddo! You're not hoping about cross-dressing again now, are you?" Ritsu laughed, making me roll my eyes. "But thanks, little bro!"
Ui and I bid Ritsu farewell and the two of us started to walk home side by side. Under the moonlight, she and I traced the steps we had used to take so often a long time ago with smiles on our faces. Walking like this with the girlfriend I had waited for five years to return felt like a dream. It reminded me of that time, on this very moonlit path, when I asked Ui to become my girlfriend. Definitely, this time, I'll ask her.
Reaching for the box one last time, I gently took it out, opened it to expose the ring then lifted it up before me with both hands. I grunted and groaned, drawing Ui's attention and acting as if I was holding onto something big and heavy. Just like that big teddy bear I had held on to then, I was holding on to all of the love I had gained since the day she and I became a couple – a ton of fluff, rainbows and happiness compressed into a small ring. Ui held her breath, overcome by her happiness.
This time, the words flowed from my mouth – no – from my heart, free and earnest.
"Ui… all these years, I've loved you will all of my heart. Even if we've been far away, I felt as if you and I have never left my side…"
"Now… I want to assure you that I will never leave your side. Not ever – not again."
"Satoshi-kun." Ui said, tears welling up in her eyes, "Not once did I ever feel that you left me. We're the same – I always felt like you were there with me. Every performance I did, every album I recorded, every tour I went on – you were there with me, supporting me, cheering for me… and reminding me to follow my heart."
Those words caught me off guard. My chest tightened and my heart had skipped a beat. Ui had spoken earnestly too – straight from her heart. It made me feel happy – truly happy. Which is why I can say…
"Ui. Will you marry me?"
She then turned to me with pleasant delight. Ui wasn't surprised by my proposal –rather ,it was as if she had been waiting for it all her life. A gentle wind blew through the street, strengthening our resolve.
"Satoshi-kun. I'd be happy to marry you."
At that moment, I was just about ready to jump and leap for joy! It was quite a tough job putting the ring on Ui's finger, especially if my hands were all shaky from excitement. Once it was on, the two of us slowly came together for a kiss. If these were my final moments, they would have been my greatest ever. I would have died happily. However… My body, however, had other ideas. Something… not so fulfilling and whatnot…
God. Damnit. My stomach roared like a beast. I felt terribly ashamed. Ui however was still smiling.
"We're going to your house for now, right? I guess I should fix you up something to eat while we're there, dear."
"That would be good." I frowned, slumping forward gloomily for ruining the mood… but then… "dear?"
"What is it, dear?" Ui asked happily, now giving me a peck on the cheek. She really called me 'dear'.
"Erm, Ui-chan, that's…"
Marriage nicknames already? I already have enough of that with Francis calling Mugi-senpai 'honey' and Mugi-senpai calling Francis 'sweetie'… And I wondered why I don't add sugar when I have tea at their house anymore…
"Don't worry, dear!" Ui assured with a cheerful tone, "I'll make anything you like… oh! And I'll make something for Ritsu-nee too. You're always looking out for her, aren't you Satoshi-ku… erm, dear!"
"You know, you don't have to force it." I chuckled, "Whether you call me 'dear' or 'Satoshi-kun', I'll be happy."
"Alright then, Satoshi dearest!"
Heh, that's an entirely new combination, Ui… I'm still not completely comfortable with this names thing, but I guess it ain't so bad… Ui – you're way too cute!
"Let's go home, Ui. I can't wait to eat the food you make again!"
Full Court Press!
SHAMEFUL DISPLAY* - The battle advisor in Shogun II: Total War cries this out if one of your battle units is broken
Black dilemma* - Kick in the front seat? Kick in the back seat? I want to kick your face, Becky Black, really badly.
Donburi* - Danbooru. Enter at your own risk.