Chapter 33:

Four years later/Epilog (Takara)

Special Fighting Club

The hot air hits my face as I leave the plane. I didn´t think Brazil could be this hot in summer.
Taiki seems to be thinking the same, he´s sweating profusely.
Four years have gone by since we won the nationals and graduated. I had a surgery right after, it was successful, now my knee doesn´t cause any more problems.
Both of us were scouted by the Kyoto white tigers, the same team that Nii-chan is now the captain of.
Both of us are back to white hair, well I do have blue streaks, like Jin-kun.
I live with Jin-kun, we started dating about a year after graduation, Taiki and Kei are also living together. They don´t seem all too interested in dating yet. Taiki always says he has too much to think about with me to concentrate on a girlfriend, Kei just can´t decide if he likes the idea or not; it´s to exhausting to date he always says.
Everyone else went on to do something they love:
Lei-chan became a beautician and is a model on the side.
Na-chan works in an aquarium while also studying marine biology.
Kei continued being a manager, now he manages an Idol group that is part of the same agency as his sister.
Ken-kun went back to boxing and is now learning to be a coach for other young boxers.
Ren-chan is studying to become a teacher.
Chi-kun joined his brother into the auto industry.
Aki-kun… he´s with us, he was an excellent choice for captain, Kyoto-Nami won the next nationals too.
Kat-kun, who became captain in his third year, also winning the nationals for a third year in a row and with that definitively kicking Kinkami from their throne, is studying to become a physical therapist, like Manami-san he says.
Aka-kun is studying to become a vet, he works part time in a dog hotel; he and Kat-kun are part of their collage special fighting club.
Haru-chan is learning to become a gardener.
Ran-chan is studying to become a nurse.
Nagi-kun is studying to become a psycho therapist, to help people like his brother, so they don´t end up like him.
Manami-san is still coaching our high school special fighting club, he and Asuka-san have gotten married, she´s taking some time off, she´s with child.
And Hisagi-sensei is till the advisor, apparently he brings his son along with him from time to time.

You might be wondering why we are in Brazil; well the junior world cup, for members under 25 is held here.
Taiki and I were selected. But we aren´t the only ones. Apparently there were quite a lot of good fighters in our generation:
Aki-kun is stretching after the flight.
Hay-kun is yawning; he slept through almost the whole flight, I almost thought he was in a coma.
Haji-kun right behind him, carrying his and Haya-kun´s bags, like the good boyfriend he is.
Iza-chan complains about the heat, apparently her make up isn´t sweat proof.
I´m really excited about this, being able to represent our home country is only one reason. Jin-kun and I made a deal; should Japan win we would get married within a year. To be honest that´s my main reason for wanting the victory. Only problem: Taiki doesn´t know about it yet, oh well I´ll tell him when the time comes.

We make our way to the hotel, reporters swarming us. I´ve become used to that by now.
Our coach talks to us about our first match: we´ll be up against the US team.
Taiki and I get to share a room. We don´t get much time to talk, the day after tomorrow is the first fight and the flight was long plus the time difference, needles too say we are fast asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows.

We spend the next day watching videos of the US team, training lightly and trying not to fall right back to sleep. Jet lag really is kicking our butts.
Later that day we get ready for the opening ceremony, where all participating teams will show themselves. I haven´t really looked up which teams will be here so this is a good chance to see them.

“Hey that´s Claudia Mueller.” Haya-kun exclaims, pointing at a short brunette woman, in a pair of white shorts with black stripes on either side and a white top with black writing.
I look at him confused.
“Oh come on, you don´t know who she is?” Haji-kun asks.
I shake my head.
“She´s the captain of the German national team, like not just this one, the real deal. She joined with 21, as one of the youngest members to participate in international matches. Now she´s 25, so this is her last time participating in the junior cup.” Haya-kun explains.
I don´t get much time to process what he said, Taiki shakes my by the shoulder.
“There that´s Harry Abbott!” He points at a familiar face; a tall white haired man with beard, dressed in white and red. He´s only 21 and already one of the best paid fighters in all of Europe and said to be next in line to become the captain of the English national team.
Then I see another face I´ve seen on TV a lot; Camila Moreno. She´s Argentina´s Ace, very popular for not only being fast and strong but also because of her undeniable beauty, long flowing black hair and beautiful tanned skin, dressed in a light blue jersey with white stripes.
A lean and muscular woman walks past me; she smiles a big friendly smile at me.
“Thandeka Mnisi, she´s here, in the flesh!” Iza-chan says.
The woman is tall, like super tall, has dark skin and hair braided into box braids, some streaks in green and yellow. She´s probably one of the most known fighters, a former marathon runner turned special fighter after running became boring to her, and all of that at only 23. She wears a pair of yellow shorts and a green top, a yellow knee brace on her right knee, like I have.
Most fighters who have had knee problems still wear braces during fights, just to be sure.

The opening ceremony is standard, some people giving speeches nobody really cares about and a few really good bands performing with fireworks ending it.

The next day it´s finally time: Our fist fight. We put on our jerseys; a pair of black shorts with red stripes on either side and a white top also with red stripes and writing, back and red shoes finish the look.
Just before we enter the hall the manager of the Kyoto white tigers stops us.
“I have something great prepared for you!” He says while showing us a group of people: Our former team mates.
I run to hug them.
“We worked together to get them here. So give it all you´ve got!” The manager says.
We unfortunately don´t get much time to catch up.
“Tell Koto that Yoshi is watching every match on TV and he wishes him luck!” Chi-kun says.
I do as asked; Aki-kun seems slightly embarrassed, it seems that Yoshi has become one of his biggest fans. Aki-kun has told numerous stories of Yoshi inviting friends to show off his uncle´s best friend and has become the coolest kid in class because of it.
“Everyone ready?” Arakawa-san, our captain, asks.

We stand eye in eye with the US team, dressed in a blue pair of shorts covered in white stars and a blue top without the stars, they look both goofy and intimidating at the same time.
The hall is packed, cameras and reports everywhere you look and we in the middle, all eyes on us.
The announcer declares loudly: “Welcome ladies, gentlemen and everyone in-between! Today the long awaited first round of the A-Block of the junior world cup will commence! A big round of applause for the Japanese team!”
Our faces are shown on the big screens all around the hall while our names are listed.
“Captain Hifumi Arakawa wearing the number 1, 24 years old!
Wearing the number 5 Takara Fujima and number 6 Taiki Fujima both 22 years old!
Number 11 Hayato Yagami, 22!
And wearing number 15 Kiku Aoiki, only 19 years old!”

The crowd applauds, then the announcer continues: “A big round of applause for the team representing the USA!”
Their faces are also shown.
“Captain Joseph Smith wearing the number 1, 23 years old!
Trish Garcia wearing number 7, 20 years old!
22 year old Katelyn Moore, number 10!
Kasper King, number 11, at 18 one of the youngest competitors in this tournament.
And last but not least number 14 Spencer Hall, 25!”

I take one last deep breath, then I hear the fighting order being announced.
I can´t help but smile, this is what all our hard work has lead us to and I can´t wait to see how much further we will get, but for now I have to concentrate on beating the tall American girl in front of me…

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