Chapter 32:

Nationals Part 8 (Taiki)

Special Fighting Club


Our cheering squad reached a new size; everyone’s parents came today, our schools brass band came too. Many classmates, including the captains of other sports teams came. Even our schools principle showed up, wishing us luck.
But one person showed up that I didn´t expect: our mother. She hugs Takara, Dad standing next to her, smiling.
“I saw all the videos of your other matches! Daichi send them to me. You two were great!” She says.
“I thought you were still in L.A.?” I ask perplexed.
“I took the next flight I could find. There´s no way in hell I would miss this!”
Takara and I smile, we haven´t seen her in person for years.
“I can´t believe you actually made it this far. I´m so proud of you.” She hugs us together.
Dad also hugs us wishing us luck.
Just before we leave Nii-chan approaches us. “I have something for you.” He hands Takara a pin, our schools crest. “Everyone who graduates Kyoto-Nami as captain gets these, it´s from when I graduated.”
Takara stares at the little pin.
I´m handed another one, it´s the symbol of the Kyoto white tigers. “I got that one when I joined.”
He blushes. “I know they’re not the best, but I couldn´t come up with a better lucky charm.”
I shake my head and put on the pin. “They´re great.”Bookmark here

The hall is packed to the brim with people. We walk past journalists, asking for photos and statements. They did the same yesterday; they just showed up at our hotel.
I´m starting to feel intimidated.
The announcer begins: “Welcome to the finale of the national high school tournament in special fighting! Of 94 schools only two remain! Let´s give them a big round of applause!”
The hall erupts in loud applause, both schools brass bands play loudly.
“Let´s welcome them! Last year’s winners Kinkami Academy, representing Fukuoka! With Coach Matsuoka Kenma!”
I know him, how could I not; he´s the former captain of Japan´s national team.
“Captain and ranked number one in the high school division, third year Yagami Hayato! Vice-captain and ranked second in the high school division, third year Watanabe Hajime! The second years Namikaze Atsushi and Usagi Rei! And the first year Inoue Bara!”
Leiko looks surprised. “That´s my sister.” She says.
“What?! Why didn´t you tell us?!” I ask.
“I knew that she and mom moved to Fukuoka but I didn´t know that she started attending Kinkami!”
Bara-chan waves at Leiko, she waves back.
Kinkami´s jerseys consist of a pair of golden shorts with bronze stripes on either side and a silver top with the same bronze stripes; the upper part is golden, like the writing and their shoes.
“Let´s also welcome this year’s black horse Kyoto-Nami high school representing Kyoto!”
Our names are also listed.Bookmark here

The referee enters the ring and begins: ““Best three of five! 18 Points to win! Announcing the fighting order:
Fight 1: Fujima Taiki vs. Watanabe Hajime,
Fight 2: Inoue Leiko vs. Inoue Bara,
Fight 3: Kozato Akito vs. Usagi Rei,
Fight 4: Tousen Chiko vs. Namikaze Atsushi,
Fight 5: Fujima Takara vs. Yagami Hayato.
First fighters get ready.”Bookmark here

I take a deep breath. The cheering squad is chanting my name.Bookmark here

Hajime doesn´t look too intimidating, tall and lean in built, blonde hair, yellowish golden eyes. He wears longer pant legs in bronze under his regular shorts.
He offers me a hand with a warm smile. “Let´s have a good fight!”
I shake his hand.
“Start!”
He doesn´t let any time go by; he turns into a Ho-Oh, a massive and golden bird, his long tail shimmers in a rainbow.
He charges at me, his sharp talons cutting me.
“Point gain Kinkami 0-5!”
I stand frozen; a loud cheer form Takara and Kei wakes me up again. I dodge another attack and turn into a unicorn. I shoot gems, in arrow and needle form at Hajime, even hitting him a few times, despite his dodging.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 8-5!”
He flies into the air, diving to grab me; his talons sinking deep into my flesh, flying into the air and dropping me. In midair I turn back into hybrid form, I try to cushion my fall with gems.
“Point gain Kinkami 8-7!”
He dives after me, his talons ready to scratch me again. I point my gem finger gun at him.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 13-7!”
He lands, turns back into hybrid form and runs towards me. I know that that can´t be good. I feel like I´m in a boss battles second phase. I get up and a foot lands in my face, another kick into my side.
“Point gain Kinkami 13-9!”
Using my gem finger gun I shoot as many gems as I can.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 14-9!”
I´m kicked again and again, an occasional fist hits too.
“Point gain Kinkami 14-16!”
I try hitting back.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 16-16!”
Through pure coincidence we hit each other at the same time.
“Point gain 17-17!”
Great, I think, this won´t be easy.
And I was right; we go up to 30-30, 40-40, 45-45, 50-50 and finally slow down at 55-55.
He kicks me right on the nose, blood trickling from it.
“Point gain Kinkami 55-56!”
I punch back, trying to imitate Kenta´s boxing.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 56-56!”
Hajime jumps and his foot slams into my head.
“Point gain Kinkami 56-57!”
I take a deep breath, grab his leg and slam him on the floor.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 57-57!”
I point my gem finger gun at him and two shots later hear:
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 59-57! Point win for Fujima Taiki of Kyoto-Nami, 1-0!”Bookmark here

I stand frozen again. That´s a lie, right?
Hajime gets up and starts laughing. “I lost by a fluke!”
I stare at him.
“Good job, that was unexpectedly fun!” He pats my back.
His bench is in shock, he is laughing.
I still can´t find words.
“It´s been quite long since I had a fight go that high up in points. Let´s do that again, what do you say?”
I just nod and stiffly make my way back to the bench, here I´m swarmed and hugged.
Leiko gets up.
“Do you think your sister will be an easy fight?” I hear Takara ask.
“Don´t know, haven´t fought her I in a while, we´ll see how strong she´s gotten.”Bookmark here

Bara-chan looks almost exactly like Leiko, just smaller. She wears bronze half finger gloves, a bronze knee high sock on the left leg and a longer pant leg on the right side, also bronze.
She has a big smile on her face. The two hug.
“Start!”
Both fight in Naga form.
Leiko grabs Bara-chan with her snake tail and slams her sister on the floor.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 1-0!”
Bara-chan uses her nails to cut her hand, using the blood to create a weapon that looks like a sword.
They have an intense back and forth. Leiko trying to grab her sister, Bara using her blood sword to fight.
The points quickly reach 17-17.
More clashes, punches and scratches, later we´re at 30-30, then at 40-40.
They sure don´t want the other to win, 45-45, is the result.
Leiko shots her blood needles, for the eight time this fight, Bara-chan parries them with her blood sword.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 46-45!”
Bara-chan charges at Leiko, swinging her sword.
“Point gain Kinkami 46-46!”
Leiko slaps her sister with her snake tail.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 47-46!”
Bara-chan slashes the tail, that just hurt her.
“Point gain Kinkami 47-47!”
Leiko coils her tail around Bara-chan and squeezes.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 48-47!”
Bara-chan rams her blood sword in the tail.
“Point gain Kinkami 48-48!”
While Leiko let´s go of her, Bara-chan charges at her and punches her older sister in the face. She ends the fight with a slash of her nails.
“Point gain Kinkami 48-50! Point win for Inoue Bara of Kinkami, 1-1!”Bookmark here

Bara-chan helps her sister up, they laugh.
Leiko comes back to us. “Sorry guys, I didn´t know she also had Kendo lessons.”
Akito gets up; the other second years pat his back.Bookmark here

Usagi wears her uniform like Bara-chan, just without the half finger gloves. She has shining blue eyes and long, and I mean very long white hair, tied up into a pony tail.
She and Akito don´t say anything, both are very concentrated.
“Start!”
Usagi turns into a white worse with big white and gray wings. She flies into the air shooting razor sharp feathers.
“Point gain Kinkami 0-6!”
Akito seems very unimpressed. He jumps up to her, lands on her back and rips at her wings.
Usagi loses balance and slams into the floor. She gets up fairly quickly, but now doesn´t have working wings anymore, she tries to move them but it seems to hurt her too much.
Akito is covered in lightning. He charges at her, hitting her all over, without her even having the chance to do anything.
It becomes apparent what he´s trying to do.
Usagi stumbles; she is bit in the side and the leg. Her legs give in, she falls and a lightning bolt ends the fight for her.
The countdown starts and finishes.
“Instant win for Kozato Akito of Kyoto-Nami, 2-1!”Bookmark here

Akito helps Matsuoka-san carry her back to her bench, then he comes back to us, a big smile on his face.
He´s hugged.
Chiko gets up.Bookmark here

Namikaze turns out to be a tall muscular boy, wearing a bronze undershirt. His eyes look like they were set of fire, just like his hair.
Chiko seems too intimidated to exchange any words.
“Start!”
Namikaze turns into a massive orange dragon. He shoots fire balls at Chiko.
“Point gain Kinkami 0-8!”
Chiko, in griffin form, charges at him, scratching and hitting Namikaze with talons and lion paws.
“Point gain 10-8!”
Namikaze´s tail slaps Chiko, he flies a few meters.
“Point gain Kinkami 10-9!”
Another wave of fire balls come flying towards Chiko.
“Point gain Kinkami 10-15!”
Chiko flies into the air, Namikaze does the same. Their air battle goes on and on, 20-20, 30-30, 40-40, 45-45.
Chiko lands and goes into hybrid form. Namikaze does the same. Both seem too exhausted to stay in creature form, so the fight turns into a desperate brawl.
46-45
46-46
47-46
47-47
47-48
48-48
Chiko kicks Namikaze in the side.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 49-48!”
Namikaze seems to have had enough. He musters up the strength to turn into a dragon one last time. His tail slamming into Chiko.
“Point gain Kinkami 49-49!”
Namikaze bites into Chiko´s arm and slams him on the floor.
“Point gain Kinkami 49-51! Point win for Namikaze Atsushi of Kinkami, 2-2!” Bookmark here

Chiko slumps back, sits down and doesn´t say anything.
Takara jumps up. “I´m off.”Bookmark here

Hayato wears only a bronze sleeve on his left arm, the rest of his jersey looks normal.
He hugs Takara. They talk about something, I´m guessing her knee, he points at it.
“Start!”
Hayato is also a Ho-Oh, but far more red than Hajime´s form.
I would like to tell you that their fight is an epic final battle, but it´s not.
They shoot fire and gems at each other.
Hoofs are kicks into bodies, talons scratch in retaliation.
And when their strength fades they start punching each other in hybrid form.
The points reach 55-55, when the epic final battle seems to come to life.
Takara runs towards Hayato. She jumps, turns in the air and slams her foot in Hayato´s face.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 56-55!”
Hayato doesn´t hesitate, he turns around and grabs Takara by the neck, slamming her face on the floor.
“Point gain Kinkami 56-56!”
Takara turns and punches Hayato in the nose.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 57-56!”
Hayato stumbles backwards, not noticing the gem covered fist making its way towards his face. He´s punched so hard he falls on his butt.
“Point gain Kyoto-Nami 58-56! Point win for Fujima Takara of Kyoto-Nami, 3-2!”Bookmark here

For a second the hall is silent.
The announcer says: “Congratulations to Kyoto-Nami! You are the winners of this year´s Nationals!”
The crowd erupts in loud cheering.
I hear a loud “That´s my sister!”
Takara helps Hayato up, he´s laughing.
I run towards her, Kei and the others with me. I pick her up and show her to the crowd.
While putting her back down I catch a glimpse of Hayato crying in Hajime´s arms.Bookmark here

I don´t really listen to anything that´s being said while medals are hung on our necks and a gigantic golden cup is handed Takara.Bookmark here

After what feels like hours we manage to make it outside. Reporters taking pictures, asking questions and our families running towards us to greet us there.
Mom, Dad, Tanaka-san and even Nii-chan are in tears.
Yoshi yells how cool it was.
I don´t listen to much, I´m still in a sort of trance and I don´t seem to be the only one.Bookmark here

The next day we start getting ready to go back home.
Aoshira and Midohebi wait outside of our hotel congratulating us.
I notice Jinpachi walking up to Takara. They go around the corner.
“Congrats! I know this is maybe the wrong moment but…” He blushes violently. “Would you go on a date with me?” He blurts out. “I don´t mean right now, like after graduation or something.”
Takara starts at him. “Wait you were into me?” She asks shocked.
I have to hold back laughter.
“Yeah! I gave you signals!”
I walk back to Kei.
“You ok?” He asks.
I nod. “I think my sister is growing up.”
Kei looks confused.Bookmark here

Then everything happens so fast: a big celebration, going back to school, Finals, graduation.
The third years stand in front of a sobbing team.
“It was great with you!” Takara says, clearly holding back tears. “I´ll announce the next captain: Aki-kun.”
Akito looks shocked. “Me?”
Takara nods. “I believe you can do it.”
And with that our school life finally came to an end. I will miss going to school, training with everyone every day, seeing Manami-san and Hisagi-sensei, the whole atmosphere.
But new adventures are just waiting for me and Takara.
I can´t wait to see what the future holds for us…Bookmark here

-june-
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