Author's Notes: Hello everyone! I wasn't exactly able to mention it in the story description, no thanks to the word limit, but this is a story that takes place in between Time Out! Substitution! and Full Court Press! It's a little story that was left implied that I decided to go and publish as a supplementary read to FCP - it still is a standalone story though, make no mistake. So with that, I hope you enjoy this little side tale I call 'Snowbanks'. Feedback is welcome as always!


Chapter 1

It was the early winter in the Western Osaka District, a month after the fateful events of the Cultural Festival. Satoshi Tainaka and Ui Hirasawa, now roughly a month into their relationship, sat with Jun Suzuki and her brother Francis Suzuki at the platform of the District rail station. Jun and the couple were there to see Francis off as he took a train to Tokyo where he would catch a plane to his second home Canada. The train that would take the half-Canadian there however had yet to arrive so the four of them passed the time with a game of Hanafuda.

Hanafuda was Francis' favorite card game, the couple would quickly find out, and he was a self-proclaimed master of the game. Francis had taken on all three of them one by one and had never once lost a game to either of them. Satoshi got pretty close after completing a Cup and Cherry Blossom combination but he ended up losing after facing a feverish plains comeback from Francis. Before long, the train rolled into the station and the half-Canadian boy prepared to leave.

Francis bid farewell to the three, promising to bring the lot of them some souvenirs then went on to board the train. Accompanying him on the trip was a battered-looking but sturdy suitcase, the Hanafuda set he had just played with moments ago, the dilapidated notebook that still had a handful of clear, unused pages and the violin case which carried Francis' violin named Fraulein. His trip to back to Canada wouldn't be a leisurely sightseeing tour after all. He was there to perform as one of the violinists of the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra and this was his first year to perform. Taking all of his luggage with him, Francis walked with pride down to the last train car and claimed a window seat at the very end.

All the cars of the train filled up rather quickly and it soon became clear that the train would be a tad bit overcrowded. Thankfully, Francis thought, he had gotten there early and all his luggage took up the space of the seat beside his. That basically meant that he had that corner all to himself. However, a sixteen year old girl with flowing blond hair, bright blue eyes and thick eyebrows found herself in the middle of the scuffle and was desperately trying to find a seat.

The girl naturally searched the front of the first car first before gradually emerging at the end of the last car where Francis and his luggage were entrenched. The train then started to move and the girl looked a little bit worried, unsure if she would be able to stand upright aboard a bullet train.

"Excuse me, miss." Francis then said, setting aside his luggage, "There's actually a seat here… if you don't mind sitting in between these luggage."

The girl turned to him looking surprised before replying with a kind smile.

"Why thank you." She said, hurrying onto the seat before she lost her balance, "This is very much appreciated Mr.…?"

"Suzuki." Francis introduced, extending his hand, "Francis Suzuki."

"Francis Suzuki?" The girl gasped, "If you don't mind me asking, would you happen to be a half-Canadian?"

"I sure am." Francis replied, switching to English, "English is my first language, eh? Japanese is my third."

"What's your second language?"

"Français est la langue."

"Vraiment, Monsieur Suzuki?" The girl said eagerly, "Je peux parler français aussi!"

Hearing her speak like that intrigued the half-Canadian. It wasn't everyday he got to meet someone who spoke French, English and Japanese with equal proficiency. Judging by the way she looked too, he figured she might know some other European languages too.

"Anyways." Francis said, reverting to his native English, "Why did you ask if I was half-Canadian?"

"Oh, that's because I'm a member of the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra and I just recently heard that a half-Canadian violinist was recruited just two weeks ago." The girl explained, "I saw the violin case and I thought…"

"Well, yes. That would be me too." Francis confirmed

"That's strange." The girl then noted, "I haven't seen you at the practices. Do you go regularly?"

"Yeah, I go regularly." Francis replied, "It's just that I'm the type that leaves as soon as practice is over. I'm pretty much invisible so it's no wonder you haven't seen me."

"You're clearly not invisible now, though." The girl chuckled

"I can't exactly leave someone to stand on a moving bullet train when I've got an empty seat right next to me, now can I?" Francis laughed, "In any case, it seems we will be travelling together from hereon out. It is very nice to meet you Miss…"

"The name is Tsumugi Kotobuki." The girl introduced, "And yes, it is very nice to meet you too."

To Be Continued