A.N: Alright, so this story covers the beginning of episode 19, when Tomoya has to win back Ushio through the baseball game with Akio. After I did, "A Sunset Dream," I thought this would be a good companion piece to that, and it gives me a chance to get into Tomoya's head for a bit, too.
And I also totally believe Sanae and Akio were torn up about having to give Ushio up, and a small part of them truly did want him to lose.
When Ushio said that Akio wanted to play baseball with him, Tomoya was confused. What in the world would possess the old man to want to play baseball right now? And with him of all people? He chalked it all up to his usual craziness though, and didn't question the matter any further. Ushio seemed to be excited about it, so he might as well play along.
But then, when Tomoya and Akio were waiting for Sanae and Ushio in the bake shop, Akio stopped him. "Hey, you should know, this isn't just a normal game," he said.
"What are you talking about now, old man?" Tomoya eyed him, just waiting for him to launch into some idiotic rambling nonsense.
"This is for her. It's a duel," Akio was serious, his tone devoid of any humor, he looked him straight in the eye.
Tomoya blinked, suddenly remembering. Akio was talking about when he had asked for Nagisa's hand in marriage. Before he could even approach her father on the subject, he'd had to hit a home run ball from one of Akio's impossible pitches. Realizing the full importance of this game, he straightened up and faced him. There was a determined blaze in his navy blue eyes as he said, "Then I won't lose."
Akio smirked. "Now that's what I like to hear! Let's go play some ball!" he cheered just as Sanae and Ushio emerged from the back of the bakery, Sanae held a thermos of tea in one hand and had a large folded blanket over her other arm.
"Yay! Let's go!" Ushio picked up her grandfather's cheer as she eagerly ran out of the bakery and into the street, heading for the park.
"Hey! Watch out for cars, Ushio!" Tomoya quickly ran out after her, ushering her safely to the other side of the street, though there wasn't a single car in sight.
Sanae smiled sweetly as she passed by her husband, but then paused as she reached the doorway. She gave off a sad sigh. "So, this a fight for her, isn't it?" she asked quietly.
Akio folded his arms across his chest, a lit cigarette hanging out of his mouth. "Yes, it is."
She watched as Tomoya led Ushio into the park, chatting happily with her about the impending baseball game. She spoke excitedly and gestured wildly with her hands, he chuckling at what she was describing.
Sanae turned to Akio with a sad frown. "Is it bad that I kind of want him to lose?"
His face broke out into a gentle smile. "Yeah, to be honest, I kind of want the kid to lose, too."
"But, it's not going to happen like that," she confirmed.
"Probably not," he sidled up next to her, watching them, just as she was. "But, we both knew this day would come."
She nodded her head in understanding, yet a small broken sigh escaped her and if Akio didn't know her better, he could have sworn she was crying. "I just didn't expect it to be so hard."
"Huh?" Akio turned to look at her, but his attention was quickly diverted by his granddaughter as she impatiently yelled from across the street, "C'mon you guys, let's go!"
A smile was instantly replaced back on Sanae's face as she stepped out from the shade of the bakery shop and into the late day sun. "Coming!" she called back.
With a heavy sigh, Akio fell into step behind her, quickly forcing a smile onto his own face.
"You can do it!" Ushio shouted from her seat on the blanket. Sanae called out to them as well, saying, "Do your best out there, you two!"
Tomoya had his bat ready and raised, he could not lose this battle.
Akio with his usual smirk said, "Humph, finally decided to wake up, huh? Welcome back to the world of the living, kid."
He frowned, "Just shut up and pitch the ball."
Not quite finished with his taunting, Akio called out to Ushio, "Ushio, I'll show you what a loser your Daddy is, so you can tease him about it for the rest of your life!"
"Hey!" Tomoya yelled at him. Though Akio was right, that didn't mean he would just sit and take it, especially not in front of Ushio.
Ignoring them, Sanae turned to Ushio and asked her who she would think would win the match. Without a second thought, Ushio quickly answered, "Akki." Hearing this, Tomoya looked over to them, shocked. His daughter didn't have any faith in him whatsoever. "Give me a break," he groaned.
"Ha! She's been watching my powerful pitches her entire life."
"Fine! Then I'm gonna show her a home run!"
The old man smirked again, "We'll see."
Tomoya was gonna wipe that stupid smirk clean off his face when he hit that ball.
Akio raised his arms over his head, getting ready for the pitch as Tomoya raised the bat over his shoulder, his face set. The pitch came and with a determined glare, he set his feet and swung the bat, it making its mark and sending the ball flying far past the park's boundaries and . . . straight into a neighbor's window. Tomoya's triumphant shout of, "You see that Ushio?" turned into a fearful cringe when he heard the distant window crash.
Sanae immediately smoothed it over, saying, "That's okay, nothing a little apology won't fix, right?"
But Tomoya barely heard her, as he had eyes only for his daughter, who was proudly chanting, "Daddy!" over and over again, from her seat on the blanket. Her auburn brown eyes were fixated on him, wide with awe and a newfound sense of respect. He looked back at her with a wide grin, pride and joy overcoming him all at once. He had won the duel and Ushio belonged to him, now. This so called "game" was Akio's unofficial way of signing the custody papers over to Tomoya. Later that night, he would sign the official custody and adoption papers and then he and the old man would celebrate with a couple drinks. The clinking of their glasses would reign in his awakening from the world of the barely living, and usher in his new life with Ushio, the one that he should have been living all along.
In Ushio's innocent eyes, it had just been another friendly game of baseball. But for everyone else, it had been so much more; it was a duel for her heart. And with that one swing, it was his to claim.
A.N: And, by the way, I have one more Clannad oneshot to post after this, and then I'll start seriously working on my Clannad chapter story. But I don't know how long it'll be before that's ready to post, so you'll just have to enjoy the oneshots for now. K, thanks, bye!