Kimagure Orange College - Episode 22
by Stephen Tsai
 
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stsai@netcom.com (Stephen Tsai)

Kimagure Orange College

[Writer's foreword:  This is the twenty-second episode of a fan-
fict series based on the characters in Kimagure Orange Road.  They 
are intended to take place after the movie, "I Want to Return to 
that Day", and follow the characters Kasuga Kyosuke and Ayukawa 
Madoka as they start the next phase of their lives in college.
	If you missed the previous episodes, notes about the new 
characters, and previous events are listed after the ending 
credits.  In addition, previous episodes are available at the 
ftp.std.com ftp site.
	One thing I would like to say up front:  Although I have 
graduated from college, my experience is in the American college 
system and culture.  The span of my experience in the Japanese 
advanced education system is limited with what I can pick up 
watching anime, reading manga, and consulting with friends, pen 
pals and anime clubs.  Any mistakes, inconsistencies, etc. are 
neither intentional nor are they meant to show disrespect for the 
Japanese education system.  In fact, I would appreciate any 
constructive criticisms, corrections, and insight any readers 
might offer me.  Mail all such letters, praises or flames to 
stsai@netcom.com.]

Episode 22 - Hardball!  For the pride of Seishun-kan!

[Fade into Seishun-kan's* front yard.  Autumn leaves cover the 
lawn as a cool breeze blows.  Drying clothes hang unattended on 
the line as no activity is apparent outdoors.  However, behind the 
house, the sliding door to the manager's room is open to allow 
fresh air inside.]
*House of youth

Kasuga Narration:  With the fall season coming to a graceful end, 
we all looked forward to the first signs of the coming winter.  
However, Ooya-san* had other ideas.  The other tenants and I found 
ourselves recruited to participate in the renters' baseball 
tournament, scheduled to take place during the last half of the 
local sports tournaments that started on Taiiku no Hi**.  We were 
told that participation was...expected.
*Owner
**Athletics Day  (October 10-Established to commemorate the Tokyo 
Olympic Games, which were held Oct 10-24, 1964.)

[Fade to Egami's room/office in the boarding house.  Ledgers, 
papers, and receipts are carefully filed away on shelves and the 
normally cluttered desk is cleared of papers.  Seated in front of 
the desk are Katsu and Kasuga.]

Egami:  [While pacing back and forth.]  ...and finally we must 
because we are a team!  [Meaningful tone as he stops pacing and 
faces Katsu and Kasuga.]  I'm sure I can count on your best 
efforts!

Kasuga:  [Unsure.]  But...I didn't play baseball in school.  I 
mean...we're not athletes or anything.

Katsu:  [Nods.]  We have classes too.  Anyway I don't think either 
of us have the experience to guarantee success.

Egami:  [Interrupts.]  Nonsense!  I checked on both your 
backgrounds when you applied to rent last spring.  [Turns to 
Katsu.]  You were runner-up for your prefecture in the junior-high 
tournament!

Katsu:  That was tennis!

Egami:  [Turns to Kasuga.]  And you're not supposed to be that bad 
an athlete yourself.  Skiing, tennis "A" class...I understand you 
even once tried out for the karate class!

Kasuga:  [Protests die in his throat.]  Aa ahh...[To himself as he 
remembers the bruises.]  He's thorough with his research, that's 
for sure...

Egami:  So it's decided!  With our team this year, we cannot lose!  
We will avenge last year's loss with triumph!

Katsu:  Last year's?  But I heard you lost 17 straight tim...

Egami:  [Blusters.]  Th-that's why we must build a new image!  Our 
new team will blaze our team name to a trail of glory that will 
wipe out that humiliation!

[Cut to the main hallway downstairs.  Katsu and Kasuga walk out 
quietly, trying to ignore the look Sakurai gives them.  Fujimoto 
watches patiently as both Katsu and Kasuga sit down on the inside 
step.]

Sakurai:  Told you.

Katsu:  Urusai...*
*Be quiet...

Kasuga:  Taking it a little too seriously isn't he?

Sakurai:  He's like this every year.

Fujimoto:  This is the one time of year he extols "For the pride 
of Seishun-kan" over the rent payments.

Kasuga:  I thought Sakurai-san said it was "Yujou-kan."*
*House of friendship.

Sakurai:  He changed it this year.  He figures the name is cursed 
or something.

Kasuga:  What?

Sakurai:  Egami-san calls it "The Curse of Takemoto".  He was a 
former tenant, and some say the best baseball player we ever had.  
He was the one who came up with the name "Yujou-kan".  After a 
while, there was a dispute over the rent money and Takemoto-san 
was evicted.  The boarding house hasn't won a tournament since.

Fujimoto:  Isamu-san can be so superstitious.  [Laughs.]  I'm sure 
we'll do well this year.

Sakurai:  [Dubiously.]  If you say so.

Katsu:  Come on, it's just a coincidence.  There's no such thing 
as curses or spooks.  [Smiles.]  Right Kasuga?

Kasuga:  Sure.  [To himself.]  Although there was that time up in 
the mountains*.  [Nervously changes the subject.]  Fujimoto-san, 
how does this renter's tournament work?
*KOC Episode 10

Fujimoto:  Let's see...as I understand it, each rental property is 
to field a team from its tenants.  In the event of a property that 
doesn't have sufficent renters like Seishun-kan or if a landlord 
is unable to get sufficient participation, friends and relatives 
of the tenants are eligible.

Kasuga:  Well...[Goes through the list of tenants in his head.]  
we don't have enough to field a team.  So...

Katsu:  [Finishes the thought.]  ...so we have to come up with 
friends and classmates to fill out the roster?  Nine people total?

Fujimoto:  Isamu-san usually also wants to have a relief pitcher 
and a pinch hitter if he can get them.  If you two have any 
friends that are athletically inclined, I'm sure he would 
appreciate it if you recruit them.

[At that moment, someone is heard coming up the steps outside.  
The door opens, nearly knocking Kasuga over, and a girl walks in.]

Kasuga:  Oi!  Watch where you're going!  [Turns around.  Slightly 
surprised.]  Akane...

Akane:  Hey Kyosuke!  [Laughing.]  What are you doing sitting 
there like that?

Kasuga:  [Somewhat annoyed.]  I guess I wanted to get knocked down 
by the next person to come in the door.  [Takes a closer look at 
Akane, who's wearing a tattered dress, covered with dirt.]  Are 
you all right?  What happened?  Are you hurt?

Akane:  What?  [Looks around.]  Who are you talking to?  When I 
knocked you down with the door, you must've banged your head.

Kasuga:  No, look at you!  What happened?

Akane:  Oh this?  [Smiles.]  Ah, now I see.  This is for the drama 
class I'm taking; I just got out and I thought I'd stop by.

Kasuga:  Oh.  [Relieved and gets up.]  How've you been?

Akane:  [Sighs.]  Busier than I've ever been in my life.  I think 
I've finally found what I want to major in and I've been studying 
like mad.  [Frowns.]  You look apprehensive...what's wrong?

Kasuga:  [Places his hand behind his head and laughs.]  Nothing 
really.  Egami-san has "allowed" us to volunteer to play for 
Seishun-kan's baseball team in the upcoming renters' tournament.  
Unfortunately, he didn't think to ask us how we felt about it.

Akane:  [Laughs sarcastically.]  Oh come on Kyosuke, you're such 
an athlete.  This is the perfect opportunity for you to show 
Madoka-san what an incredible baseball player you are.  And 
besides...[Shrugs.]  Baseball is fun.

[Suddenly, Egami dashes out of his office.]  Did I hear someone 
say that baseball was fun?

Kasuga:  [Grins.]  Yes you did Ooya-san.  You remember my cousin 
Akane don't you?

Egami:  [Smiling.]  Of course, of course.  Yukimasa-san, I really 
appreciate that you've decided to play for the pride of Seishun-
kan.  We'll win with your help.

Akane:  [Startled.]  Chotto matte kure!*  I don't want...
*Wait a minute!

Egami:  [Interrupting.]  Then it's decided.  [Walks back to his 
office and slams the door.]

Akane:  But...[Turns and glares at her cousin.]  Kyosuke!  I'll 
get you for this.

Kasuga:  [Laughing.]  But baseball is fun, right?  [Akane fumes.]  
So, what have you been studying so diligently?

Akane:  [Beaming.]  Well, I've decided to...[Looks down at her 
watch.]  Oh no, I've been here too long!  I have to run or I'll be 
late for practice.  [Turns to go.]  I'll fill you in later.  Ja 
ne!*  [Leaves.]
*Bye!

Katsu:  [To Kasuga.]  What's with her?

Kasuga:  [Ruefully.]  I never have any idea.

[Cut to the next day at the Butsumetsu undergraduate library.  In 
one of the many cubicles for group study, Ayukawa and Kimura are 
finishing up their homework assignments.]

Kimura:  [Pencil flying.]  ...by applying a Groebner basis to the 
system, we are able to observe that ax_1 + bx_2 + cx_3 = 0 if and 
only if the constants a, b, c all equal 0.  Therefore, we clearly 
have that dX/dt = sinh(arcsec(x_1(t) + x(2(t))) and thus, the 
position vector must be linearly independent of the tangent vector 
and hence the acceleration is constant.

Ayukawa:  OK.  [Jots down the proof and results.]  I guess we're 
done ahead of schedule.  Oh!  Before I forget, are you interested 
in playing baseball with Kasuga-kun's boarding house team?  He 
called me last night to ask if I wanted to join their team.  
They're short a few people.

Kimura:  Baseball?

Ayukawa:  Un!  Have you ever played before?

Kimura:  [Thinks about it for a moment.]  Hmm...well...no...

Ayukawa:  You know what baseball *is*, don't you?

Kimura:  Hmm...

[Fade to memory...]

Kimura Akiko:  [Irritated tone.]  Anata!  You're disturbing 
Keiko's studies!

Kimura Masaki:  [Pleadingly.]  But the baseball game is on!

Kimura Akiko:  No!  [Flips the television off.]  Keep your 
priorities straight!

[Fade back to the present...]

Kimura:  [Nods confidently.]  Un!  I know about baseball!

[Cut to the school gymnasium.  Miyasato Yoko finishes warming up 
in her karate gi.  Her right hand is still wrapped in a stiff 
bandage, though the splint has long since been removed.  After 
momentary consideration, she decides to forgo board-breaking and 
instead starts on the speed bag.]

Teacher:  [Watching.]  You're still not going to go out for your 
qualification?

Yoko:  Ah...no.  I'm going to give my hand a little more time to 
heal.

Teacher:  [Shrugs.]  Suit yourself.  If you don't take your belt 
test soon, your sister's going to catch you.

Egami:  [Watching from the gymnasium entrance.]  Oi Miyasato-san!

Yoko:  [Irritatedly.]  The rent's in the mail slot!

Egami:  Yes I found it.  I'm here to talk about something besides 
your rent.

Yoko:  [Stops hitting the speed bag.]  Eh?

Egami:  [Proudly and dramatically.]  I'm here to recruit you and 
your sister to the boarding house team!

Yoko:  [Loses interest.]  Oh that...  Yuko told me she was going 
to ask Saito-san about that.  "Yujou-kan" or something like that.

Egami:  [Irritatedly.]  Seishun-kan!

Yoko:  [Waves off, clearly not paying attention.]  Yeah sure 
whatever...  What makes you think I'm the least bit interested?

Egami:  [Caught off-guard.]  Wh-what do you mean?!?  You have to 
play!

Yoko:  [Cooly.]  I read your contract; it doesn't say anything 
about extracurricular activities.

Egami:  [Losing confidence.]  Well...I mean...

Yoko:  [Sly tone.]  Of course I *could* be persuaded to play...

Egami:  [Attracting attention with his exploding temper.]  JOUDAN 
DAROU*?!?  [Manages to cool off a bit to avoid making any more of 
a scene than he already has.]  What makes you think I value your 
participation enough to pay you?!?
*ARE YOU KIDDING?!?

Yoko:  [Apparently nonchalantly.]  Oh well...[Picks up a ten-
kilogram dumbell and starts a set of forearm curls.]  Good luck 
next year...

Egami:  [After he watches her finish three sets of fifteen 
repetitions.]  O...OK.  One hundred yen.

Yoko:  [Drops the free weight close to Egami's foot.]  Don't be 
ridiculous!  Five thousand yen!

Egami:  [Winces as the weight rolls over his foot and into his 
shin.]  Ite*!  [Frustratedly.]  I'll double my offer to two-
hundred yen!
*Ouch!

Yoko:  Twice nothing is still nothing!  Four-thousand!

Egami:  One-thousand!

Yoko:  Two-thousand.

Egami:  Fifteen hundred and that's my final offer!

Yoko:  I accept!

Egami:  [Menacingly.]  But if we don't win, I'll make your life a 
living hell...!

Yoko:  [Intimidated by Egami's manner.]  A-ahh...gotcha...

[Egami turns around and huffs and puffs his way out of the 
gymnasium.  After finishing her workout, Yoko walks over to the 
locker room and changes into street clothes.  As she does, she 
mentally goes over her itinerary for the remainder of the day, 
reminding herself not to forget to drop by one of the school 
buildings for a special errand.]

Yoko:  [To herself.]  Baseball...  [Smiles a bit.]  I guess I'd 
better tell him...

[Cut to the Butsumetsu computer laboratory later that afternoon.  
Several students are completing their class assignments.  Others 
are engaging in less scholastic activities.]

Saito:  [Typing furiously while staring at the screen.]  Kono, 
kono, kono...shi-ne*!
*<Netiquette violator>...die!

Kasamatsu:  [Despairingly as he watches a tank-shaped icon 
disappear from his screen.]  Aaii...!

Saito:  [Gloating as his screen flashes the victory message.]  So 
much for the "Red Ninja Armored Brigade..."

Kasamatsu:  [Defensively.]  You...you cheated!  Cutting off my 
supply platoon like that--

Saito:  Any port in the storm they say.  [Ends his session of the 
game on the computer.]  I have to get going.  Oh, did you decide 
to play after all?

Kasamatsu:  Play what?

Saito:  [Irritatedly.]  The baseball game I told you about!  
Katsu-san and Yuko-san told me they needed more players for the 
"Seishun-kan" baseball team.

Kasamatsu:  Oh that...  I guess so...[Logs off his terminal.]

Saito: Eh?  [Notices the new mail flag pop up on his computer 
screen.  He waits until Kasamatsu heads for the front of the room 
to retrieve his books so he can read it in private.  He smiles as 
he calls the new letter up.]

>From chun-li@ugrad.edu.butsumetsu.ac.jp Wed Oct 24 12:22:33 1988
Date: Wed, 24 Oct 1988 12:22:33 +0900 (GMT)
Subject: Re:  Baseball
To: baka@ugrad.cs.butsumetsu.ac.jp
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7BIT

Baka-chan,

I think it's exciting that you are going to play baseball for your 
friends' boarding house team!  I'm sure you will distinguish 
yourself on the field of competition.

You know I'm also playing for my boarding house team!  We call 
ourselves "Yujou-kan", so if you play that team, please look for 
me.  Also remember, no matter what happens, I'll be cheering for 
you.  Even if we are competitors on the field, we'll always be 
friends at heart.

Gambatte!*
*Good Luck!

Chun-Li

[Cut to the next day at the Butsumetsu baseball team practice 
facility.  Half the players are running sprints and practicing 
fielding.  The other half are lined up behind a link fence cage 
closed in on three sides.  On the mound, a pitching machine 
retrieves a baseball from the attached ball hopper and fires it 
into the open-end of the cage.]

Assistant Coach:  Full count.  Choke up on the bat, open your 
stance and concentrate on putting the ball in play.  Don't just 
pull it, utilize all areas of the field.  Go!

Hayashibara:  Hai!  [Turns his attention back to the pitching 
machine and hits a line drive through the left gap of the 
infield.]

Egami:  [Walking onto the practice field.]  Hayashibara-san!  Do 
you have a minute?

Hayashibara:  Egami-san?  [Turns his attention back to practice.]  
I'm afraid I can't talk right now.

Egami:  [Almost drooling as he watches Hayashibara hit his next 
ball against the right field wall.]  I'll be brief.  Our boarding 
house is participating in the renters' baseball tournament.  Since 
we don't have enough actual residents, I would like you to fill 
one of the open slots.

Hayashibara:  [His concentration not leaving the pitching 
machine.]  Sorry, I can't.  Since I'm not renting, it wouldn't be 
right for me to participate.  Besides, practices and schoolwork 
keep me busy.

Egami:  Too bad...[Starts to leave.]  Ayukawa-san will be there.

Hayashibara:  [Freezes.]  A-Ayukawa-san?  [Fails to swing at the 
pitched ball.]

Assistant Coach:  [Annoyed expression.]  Oi!  Pay attention to the 
ball!  [Points to Egami.]  You!  Leave the field!

Egami:  [Speaking quickly as the athletic trainers home in.]  
She's agreed to play.  [Thinks for a moment.]  She said she hopes 
you'll be there!  [To himself.]  I'll make it up to him later...

Hayashibara:  Ayukawa-san said that?  [Hesitates.]  But...

Egami:  [Misunderstands the hesitation.]  Don't worry, you're 
fully eligible according to the rules.  [Thumps his chest jovially 
as trainers start to escort him out.]  Trust your Isamu-ojisan!
*Uncle Isamu!

Hayashibara:  [To himself.]  "Isamu-ojisan"?  [To Egami.]  Er, 
that's not the problem...[Another ball flies by.]

Assistant Coach:  [Irritated.]  Stop talking and start swinging!

Trainer 1:  [Stops pushing Egami.]  Is he your uncle?

Egami:  You wouldn't let all your friends down would you?  Can I 
count on your participation?

Coach:  Swing!

Trainer 2:  [To Hayashibara as he points towards Egami.]  Well, is 
he?

Hayashibara:  [To the coach.]  Hai!

Egami:  Good!  I'll call you with the details later.  [Runs away 
as fast as his short legs can carry him.]

Trainer 1:  [Points to Egami as he leaves the field.]  *That* was 
your uncle?

Hayashibara:  What?  No, wait!  I wasn't talking to you!  
I...[Sighs.]...I've been had.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

[Cut to the open highway between cities.  The heat of the high sun 
is making the air heavy with humidity.  One lone man is walking 
along the highway, with sweat pouring down his face.  He is 
obviously exhausted and scans the horizon for any hope of 
vehicular rescue.  Just as he's about to give up all hope, a 
rising cloud of dust reveals an oncoming vehicle.  His hope fades 
to disbelief as a miniature tank pulls up on the side road and the 
hatch opens to reveal a red-haired girl in a police uniform.]

Leona:  [Looks inquiringly at the man's trousers.]  Excuse me, are 
those Bugle Boy Jeans you're wearing?

Man:  [Nods with shock and surprise.]  U...un...

Leona:  San-kyuu!  [Closes the hatch and drives away.]

[Writer's note:  Standard Disclaimer.]

END COMMERCIAL BREAK

[Cut to the Ueno High School baseball field.  Several groups of 
people are waiting as organizers point each group to their 
respective places.  On the field, two of the other teams finish up 
their game.]

Umao:  [Running towards home plate.]  Ushiko-san!

Ushiko:  [Wearing catcher's protective gear.]  Umao-san!

[A cloud of dust rises as Umao slides into home plate.]

Umao:  Wherefore art thou Ushiko-san?

Ushiko:  Wherefore art thou Umao-san?

Umpire:  [Motioning with his thumb.]  Out!

[As other teams prepare, Egami gathers his group together for last 
minute instructions.]

Egami:  [Going over a sheet of paper on a clipboard.]  Yukimasa, 
first base.  Sakurai, third base.  Ayukawa, second base.  
Hayashibara, shortstop.  Kasuga, pitcher.  Kasamatsu, catcher.  
Katsu, center field.  Kimura, right field.  Miyasato Yoko, left 
field.  [Makes an entry on his clipboard and turns to Yuko and 
Saito.]  I want a strong bench for this game so I want you two 
ready to come in when you're needed!

Man 1:  [From behind the dugout.]  So this is your motley crew 
this year?

Egami:  [Tenses up.]  Hiroshi-kun...

[Walking up to the team dugout is a medium-height man with neatly 
groomed hair.  He is wearing thin, black-rimmed eyeglasses and an 
opposing team's baseball jersey.  His expression complements his 
cool confident manner.]

Igarashi:  [Smoothly and confidently.]  I'm amazed you even had 
the courage to show up at this tournament after your humiliation 
last year.  Then again, one often mistakes courage for 
foolishness.

Egami:  [Irritatedly.]  You are not welcome here!

Igarashi:  [Ignores Egami.]  Let's see...[Visually sizes up the 
team members.]  Fifty-fifty boy-girl, all new team, [Glances at 
Sakurai, Fujimoto and Eiji.]  well, almost all new...[Notices 
Hayashibara.]  and even a college player.  [Turns to Egami with 
amusement.]  But even this desperate maneuver will not help you.

Egami:  This year your bravado won't avail you.  We are prepared 
to take back our House's honor!

Igarashi:  Hahahah... [Smiles confidently.]  Egami-san, you'd 
better be more prepared to meet me at the tournament winner's 
circle.  [Straightens his glasses.]  I expect you to honor your 
wager when you lose for the eighteenth time.  [Leaves to rejoin 
his team.]

Egami:  [After muttering a profanity under his breath.]  The time 
has come!  For the pride of Seishun-kan, you must all play your 
best!  You are warriors of destiny!  Break this shameful streak, 
and let blow the winds of change!  We will be VICTORIOUS!

[As the manager continues his oratory, some players begin to show 
their disinterest and whisper amongst themselves.]

Saito:  [Puzzled.]  What exactly is he saying?

Kasamatsu:  [Equally puzzled.]  I'm not sure, something about how 
us playing will enable him to break wind and assure victory.

Egami: [Thrusts his face into the conversation.]  ARE YOU TWO 
PAYING ATTENTION!?

Saito and Kasamatsu:  [Sweating.]  H-Hai!

Kasuga:  [To Sakurai.]  Oi, if this is a boarding house game, 
where's Tanaka-san?

Katsu:  He was probably too smart to get drafted.

Sakurai:  Actually, I don't think Ooya-san would ask him.  For 
some reason, Fujimoto-san told me she doesn't trust or like him.

[As the umpire signals to both teams, the members of Seishun-kan 
leave the bench and take their positions on the field.  The team 
members throw a few balls to warm up as Kasuga throws his first 
warm-up pitches.]

Fujimoto:  Where do you want me?

Egami:  You handle first base.  [Turns to Yuko.]  Miyasato-san, 
you'll be at third.

Fujimoto:  Hai.  [Leaves the bench and assumes the first-base 
coaching position.]

Egami:  [Makes sure Fujimoto isn't watching, turns to Eiji and 
hands him a pair of binoculars and a walkie-talkie.]  You know 
what to do.

Eiji:  [Holds out his hand with an expectant expression.]  A-hem!

Egami:  Wa-wakatta*...!  I'll give you a cup ramen when we get 
back to the hou--
*O-of course...!

Eiji:  Fork over the cash!

Egami:  [Belatedly as he slips Eiji a 500-yen coin.]  Honor can be 
so expensive to defend...  [To Eiji as he gets off the bench.]  
Remember, this is just between you and me.  Mariko-san, well, she 
probably wouldn't approve.

Eiji:  [Nods.]  Un.  [Leaves.]

Saito:  [To Egami after Eiji leaves.]  Oi jiisan...*
*Hey old man...

Egami:  [Grits his teeth.]  ...

Saito:  Do you know where "Yujou-kan" is?  They're a renter's team 
aren't th--

Egami:  [Angrily.]  How dare you mention that loser's name to 
me?!?

Saito:  [To himself.]  Ouch!  I guess that must be some hated 
rival...

[Cut to the top of the first inning.  Kasuga stands on the mound 
and studies the first batter as he digs in.]

Kasuga:  [To himself.]  OK...here's my chance!  I can impress 
Ayukawa and my friends!  [Tries to remember everything he can 
about the basic pitching motion.]  A pitcher's first pitch can 
determine the tone he sets for the game so...[Winds back and 
delivers.]  let's make it a good one!

[Everyone watches as the pitched ball flies out of Kasuga's hand 
and hits the seventeenth row stands behind the umpire.  Both 
Kasamatsu and the batter look at each other as Kasuga tries to 
lower his cap bill to hide his embarrassment.]

Umpire:  [After taking a moment to blink with disbelief.]  Ball!

[Kasuga tries to settle down, but surrenders two walks and a 
single to load the bases.  Bearing down, he manages to get the 
next two on pop flies.]

Igarashi:  [Confidently to the rest of the lineup.]  Let them have 
their little victories.  [To the next batter.]  Takayuki-kun, show 
them what it's like to play in the big leagues.

Itasaka:  [Nods confidently as he finishes his warm up swings and 
walks up to the plate.]  Un.

[Kasuga receives the sign from Kasamatsu, kicks and fires his 
pitch.  Itasaka sneers slightly as he rears back...]

<Crack!>

Kasamatsu:  Su-sugoi...!*
*W-wow...!

Kasuga:  [Watches with dismay as the baserunners hoot and jeer as 
they clear the bases.]  Shi-shimatta*...  [Imagines Ayukawa 
looking at him from behind with just a trace of disappointment.  
As the next batter steps to the plate, he finds himself unable to 
turn around to confirm or deny Ayukawa's opinion.]  I gotta get 
this strikeout!  [Rears back to throw and concentrates as he does.  
The batter at the plate watches helplessly as three straight 
pitches dipsy-doodle past him with surprising speed, power and 
spin.]
*Oh shoot...

Umpire:  Strike three!  Batter out!

Akane & Ayukawa:  [Stunned expressions.]  Aa...!

Igarashi:  [Smiles confidently as his players take the field.]  
Well, if things continues like this, Egami-san will be wishing for 
a repeat of last year's result.  [Frowns a bit.]  But those last 
few pitches were so strange...

[As the members of Seishun-kan get ready for their first at-bats, 
Ayukawa walks over to Kasuga.]

Ayukawa:  [Whispers harshly.]  What do you think you're doing?!?

Kasuga:  Well I...[Looking down with some shame.]

Akane:  [Craftily.]  Kyosuke, yaru ja nai no!*
*Kyosuke, way to go!

Ayukawa:  Akane!  [Turns back to Kasuga.]  You're not only risking 
discovery, but you're cheating too!  How could you do that for 
just a game?  If we're going to win, we should win honestly.  I 
can't stop you from using your power, but if you do, you're doing 
it on your own.

Akane:  Come on Madoka-san, lighten up!  It's only a game, let's 
have some fun.  [Grins.]  Ne Kyosuke?*
*Right Kyosuke?

Kasuga:  A...Ayukawa...[Stops as she turns away and ignores him.]

Kasuga Narration:  Ouch...coming from Ayukawa, that hurt.  The 
last thing I wanted to do was upset her, but I couldn't let the 
other team walk all over me.  Not with Hayashibara around...

[Cut to the bottom of the first inning.  With one out and Akane 
waiting on second base, Ayukawa stands on the plate with 
Hayashibara on the on-deck circle.] 

Catcher:  [Deliberately suggestive manner.]  You know you'd look 
so much better if you wore a looser shirt...

Ayukawa:  [Coldly as she waits for the pitch.]  Pay attention to 
your own uniform.

Catcher:  [A little disappointed.]  Sheesh...what a cold-
hearted...

[Ayukawa hits a sharp grounder through the left-field gap and 
overruns first base for a single as Akane advances to third.  
Egami comes out from the dugout as Hayashibara gets ready to go to 
the plate.]

Egami:  Oi, before you go out, here's what I want you to do 
...[Whispers into Hayashibara's ear.]

Hayashibara:  Isn't that being rude?

Egami:  [Indignantly.]  Of course not!  It's psychological 
warfare!

[Hayashibara shrugs and walks up to the plate.  As he does so, he 
points to the left field bleachers in a dramatic and unmistakeable 
fashion.]

Pitcher:  [Foaming at the mouth.]  Why that...impudent...young 
upstart!  [Deviously rubs one side of the ball with a hidden dab 
of oil.]  I'll show him experience and treachery will overcome 
youth and skill every time...!  [Rears back and fires a pitch.  
Hayashibara watches the pitch without taking a swing.]

Umpire:  Strike 1!

Pitcher:  Ha!  He's afraid to swing at my pitches.  ["Reloads" his 
fingers and fires again.]  Guess he's not so hot after all--

<Crack!>

Catcher:  Sugoi...that's gotta be at least 150 mete--

Pitcher:  [To his catcher as he watches with dismay as the ball 
sails into the trees behind the school grounds.]  Urusee...!*
*Shut up...!

[Hayashibara circles the bases behind Ayukawa and Akane scoring 
three runs.  After obligatory congratulations, they all return to 
the dugout, passing Kasuga on the on-deck circle on the way.  He 
watches as Hayashibara gets the congratulations of the rest of the 
team.]

Kasuga Narration:  He's always the hero.  Ayukawa... [Watches as 
Ayukawa is also being congratulated.]  probably thinks he's great 
right now...

[Cut back to the Seishun dugout.]

Ayukawa:  [To Hayashibara as everyone sits back down and turns 
their attentions back to the game.]  That was great!  You really 
slammed it!

Hayashibara:  [Smiles with gleaming teeth.]  The least I could do.  
[Perfunctorily.]  But, the pitcher is cheating.

Ayukawa:  Eh?  [Watches Kasuga take a strike.]

Hayshibara:  See how he's bringing his hand to his glove?  He's 
got something hidden; probably something oily.  I've known a few 
other pitchers who resort to throwing illegal pitches and he's 
doing it too.

Ayukawa:  Can't we tell the umpire?  [Watches Kasuga ground out to 
shortstop.]

Hayashibara:  It's very tough to *prove* an illegal pitch.  The 
pitcher will deny it and those pitches don't leave any evidence 
for the umpire to find.

Ayukawa:  [Watches Kasuga return with dejection to the dugout.]  
S-sou ka...*
*I see...

[Cut to the bottom of the second inning.  The score is 6-3 in 
favor of Igarashi's team, with Katsu waiting on first base.  
Kimura steps up to the plate with uncertainty.]

Catcher:  [As the pitcher sets.]  Oi, your shoe's untied.

Kimura:  Eh?  [Looks down.]  Hontou desu ka?*  [Fails to see the 
ball fly past her.]
*Really?

Umpire:  [As the pitched ball hits the catcher's glove.]  Strike 
1!

Egami:  [Unable to believe what he's seeing.]  Wh-what are you 
doing?!?

Catcher:  [Throws the ball back to the pitcher.]  Just kidding!  
[Deliberately suggestive manner.]  You know you'd look so much 
better if you wore a looser shirt...

Kimura:  [Blushes.]  Yada...!*
*Stop it...!

Umpire:  [As the pitched ball hits the catcher's glove.]  Strike 
2!

Egami:  [Yelling from the dugout.]  Neboken-ja neeyo!*
*Are you half asleep (rudely)

Kimura:  [Turns to look at Egami.]  Eh?

Umpire:  [As the pitched ball hits the catcher's glove.]  Strike 
3!  Batter out!

Kimura:  [Very disappointed.]  S-sonna*...!  [Returns to the 
dugout.]
*Can't be...!

Catcher:  [To himself.]  Too bad about her...[Watches as the next 
batter comes to the plate.]  It's another kawaiikochan*!  Maybe 
she'll fall for the same stunt...  [Clears his throat and prepares 
for the next pitch.]  Aren't you warm?  How about wearing a looser 
shirt...?
*Cutie!

Yoko:  [While keeping her eyes on the pitcher.]  How about I break 
your knees?

Catcher:  ...

Egami:  [First makes sure Fujimoto is occupied talking to Katsu at 
first base, then starts talking into the walkie-talkie as he 
watches Yoko dig in.]  Well, have you deciphered them yet?

[Cut to the far side bleachers.  In the relief pitchers' area, 
Eiji is looking at the opposing catcher with his binoculars.  On 
his knee is a clipboard with a set of crudely pencilled drawings 
of hand motions and scribbled notes with each diagram.]

Eiji:  [Talking into the walkie-talkie.]  He's signalling for a 
fast-ball!

Egami:  [To Yuko who waits for his signal at third base.]  Oi!  
[Signals in the expected pitch, which Yuko relays to Yoko.]

Yoko:  [Notes the sign to herself.]  Fast ball...[Rears back as 
the pitch comes towards the plate and hits a screaming line-drive 
down the middle.]

Pitcher:  [Barely manages to duck as the ball flies past his 
head.]  Ikkene*...!  [By the time he manages to get back to his 
feet, Yoko is standing ready on first base and Katsu is at third.  
Mutters under his breath.]  Yaro**...!  [Walks over to his catcher 
as Akane comes to the plate and whispers harshly into his ear.]  
You're supposed to distract them!
*Oh shoot...!
**<Netiquette violator>

Catcher:  [Pointing towards Yoko at first base.]  But I didn't 
want to go around on crutches for...

Pitcher:  Baka*!  Don't you remember what the losing team's 
supposed to do?  Do you want to have to spend the whole day 
painting?
*Idiot!

Akane:  [Suspiciously to herself.]  What was all that about...?

[Cut to the top of the fifth inning.  The score is now 8-5 in 
favor of Igarashi's team.  The runners lead away from first and 
second with no outs.]

Kasuga:  [To himself.]  This is hard work...[Wipes the sweat from 
his brow and checks the runner at first.  After making sure the 
runner isn't taking too liberal a lead, he throws his pitch at the 
batter.  The batter takes a 2 and 1 count and rips a line drive 
grounder towards left field.  Hayashibara scoops the ball on the 
run.  Seeing that the runner at second has already reached third, 
he one-hands it to Ayukawa for the force at second.  Ayukawa 
proceeds to gun down the runner at first to complete the 5-4-3 
double play.]

Ayukawa:  [To Hayashibara.]  Sugoi...you're a great fielder!

Hayashibara:  [Teeth gleam.]  You're very good yourself.  Do you 
and Kasuga practice a lot?

Ayukawa:  [Coldly as she remembers the incident during the first 
inning.]  No...some things come easier to some people.

Kasuga:  [Listening from the mound.]  Ai yaa...

Hayashibara:  [Nods.]  Un.  Well, we should all do our best.  It's 
the least I could do since you asked me to be here.

Ayukawa:  [Somewhat surprised.]  Eh?

Kasuga:  [Shockingly surprised.]  Eh?!?  [To himself as he freezes 
in mid-pitching motion.]  Ayukawa...asked *him* here...?!?

Umpire:  Balk!  [Motions the runner at third home.  Kasuga watches 
with forlorn as the score ups to 9-5.]

Egami:  [Calls time and storms out to the pitcher's mound.]  What 
was with that inexcusable pitch!?!

Kasuga:  I couldn't help it.  A...[Looks down.]  a bug flew in my 
eye...

Egami:  [Harshly.]  If you're going to pitch our house to glory, 
you're going to have to catch them with your mouth!

Kasuga:  ...

[Cut to the bottom of the sixth inning.  The score is 10-6 as the 
members of Igarashi's team head back out to the field.]

Igarashi:  [Accepts a small box of baseballs from a delivery boy, 
then offers a ball to his pitcher.]  Here, use these.

Pitcher:  Are these the...?

Igarashi:  [Nods confidently.]  Un.  These are the ones that just 
came out of our freezer.  They're as hard as a rock; not even Isao 
Harimoto* himself would be able to hit these out of the infield.
*504 career home runs in Japanese professional baseball.

Pitcher:  [Noting that he's about to face the middle of the 
batting order.]  Un!

[Cut to the Seishun dugout.  Sakurai steps to the plate as Ayukawa 
gets a batting helmet from the rack on her way out to the on-deck 
circle.]

Akane:  ...then said something about the losing team having to 
spend the afternoon painting.

Ayukawa:  Did he really?  [Ties her hair into a tail then puts the 
helmet on.]  Kasuga-kun, what's that all about?

Kasuga:  [Shakes his head.]  I have no idea.  Ooya-san, what's 
this about a...

Egami:  [Nudges Ayukawa out to the on-deck circle.]  Make sure to 
get a hit!

Akane & Kasuga:  [Beginning to get suspicious.]  Hmm...

Sakurai:  [Grips his hands as he comes back to the dugout after 
popping up to the second baseman.]  Ite-te-te-te-te...!

Ayukawa:  What's wrong?

Sakurai:  Something about the ball.  It's like hitting a rock!

Hayashibara:  Eh?  [Thinks for a moment, then has an expression of 
realization.]  They're using a "refrigerator ball?"  [Shakes his 
head.]  These guys will apparently resort to anything.

Ayukawa:  Can we do anything about it?

Hayashibara:  [Nods.]  You can't hit these kind of balls very far, 
but see if you can beat out a bunt.  Since they can't bounce well, 
you should be able to put one right on the basepath.  The pitcher 
won't be able to field it fast enough when the ball just sits on 
the ground.  [Turns to Ayukawa.]  I'll try to work the pitcher to 
3-2 count; you see if you can steal a base so you can get to a 
scoring position.

Ayukawa:  [Nods.]  Un.

Kasuga Narration:  At that moment, I was really feeling awful 
about what I did earlier.  I was also feeling a bit jealous that 
she turned to Hayashibara for baseball advice and at the same time 
ashamed that I felt that way.  It was only natural after all; he 
was the experienced one.  But...

[Cut to the relief pitchers' warm up area.  Eiji is talking in his 
walkie-talkie while looking through his binoculars.  He checks his 
clipboard to verify a sign then notices that something is blocking 
the sun.]

Eiji:  [Looking up.]  Ahh...ahh...

Reserve field umpire:  [Menacingly.]  What are you doing here...?

Eiji:  [Nervously.]  Ahh...ahh...help me please!  I lost my 
parents in the crowds!

Reserve field umpire:  [Suspiciously examining the equipment and 
drawings.]  Then why aren't you looking for them?

[Cut to the seventh inning break.  Both teams are in their 
respective dugouts as the groundkeepers go over the field, shoring 
up areas that are showing signs of wear from running.  The score 
is 10-7 in favor of Igarashi's team and in the Seishun dugout, the 
players take the opportunity to appraise their game situation.]

Katsu:  It's looking pretty bad.

Sakurai:  [Nods.]  Un.  I told you we'd be smeared.

Kasuga:  But we can't give up now!  I mean, they're only up by 
three runs.

Kimura:  [Watches the opposing pitcher wind and throw a warmup 
pitch to prepare for the upcoming inning.]  How does he know which 
pitch to throw?

Sakurai:  He doesn't, the catcher is the one calling the pitches.

Kimura:  Eh?  Hontou desu ka?

Katsu:  [Nods.]  Un.  The pitcher is reading the sign the catcher 
gives him.  That tells him what pitch to throw.

Egami:  [Trying to cheer everyone up.]  Alright everybody!  We're 
down, but not finished!  We will be trium...!

Igarashi:  Are you still clinging to false hopes of snatching 
victory from destiny's arms?

Egami:  Hiroshi-kun!  [Turns to face Igarashi.]  Have you come to 
witness the end of your winning streak?

Igarashi:  You apparently haven't been looking at the scoreboard.  
I'll admit you've done quite a bit better than last year, but 
inevitably even valor must give way to destiny.  [Turns to leave.]  
I still expect you to honor our bet when you meet me in the 
winner's circle.

Ayukawa:  [Eyes narrow.]  What exactly is this about a bet?

Igarashi:  Oh?  [Noting the players' expression of confusion.]  
Yada-na*...  Didn't Egami-san explain the bet?  The losing team's 
tenants have to paint the winner's rental property.
*Oh my...

Everyone else:  NANI*??!!?
*What??!!?

Egami:  [To his team as he holds up his hands defensively.]  I was 
going to tell you I swear!

Kasuga:  Chotto matte!  You can't make that kind of wager without 
the consent of the people involved!  Why didn't you tell us about 
this bet earlier?

Igarashi:  [Noting Egami cowering in the corner.]  Obviously 
because he knew he couldn't win.  [Looks towards the team.]  I'll 
tell you what; why don't you just save your manager the 
humiliation and concede the game?  Since the bet was obviously 
made without your consent or knowledge, I'll even agree to forgo 
the wager.  [Smiles with satisfaction.]  Egami-san's eighteenth 
straight defeat is worth more to me than simple material reward.  
[Turns to leave again.]  I'll await your decision at the pitcher's 
mound.  [Leaves.]

Fujimoto:  [Quietly to Egami, as he stares at the dugout floor, 
resigning himself to the coming defeat.]  Baka-ne*...Isamu-san.  
[To everyone else.]  Mina-san**...what Isamu-san did was wrong.  
He should have told you about the wager.  No one would blame you 
if you decided to concede this game.  But...I ask you to consider 
something first.  [Looks to Egami.]  To some people, there comes a 
time when a house becomes more than just a building.  This game, 
means more to Isamu-san than just a wager.  To him, this year and 
all the years past, it really does represent the "Pride of 
Seishun-kan."  It symbolizes the house he has called home for most 
of his adult life.  Isamu-san, well, he's sometimes stubborn and 
short-tempered, but he's never forgotten where his heart lies.  If 
you've ever known what it was like to strive for something you 
once thought unattainable, then I'm asking you to do this; if not 
for Isamu-san, then for the pride of victory for yourselves.
*Idiot (politely)
**Everyone

[Cut to the bottom of the seventh inning with a score of 10-7.  On 
the pitcher's mound, Igarashi and the pitcher talk briefly as they 
await the game to resume.  Igarashi's expression reflects the 
confidence of imminent victory as he watches Akane walk out of the 
dugout and towards the pitcher's mound.]

Igarashi:  [To his pitcher.]  See Ryo-kun?  I told them if they 
conceded the unjustified bet, they could walk away without 
disgrace.

Matsui:  [Nods.]  Un.  But what about the paint job?

Igarashi:  [Straightend his glasses.]  Don't worry about it.  
[Smiles with satisfaction.]  With this eighteenth victory in hand, 
I'll gladly hire a professional to do it.  It was Egami-san who 
needed the dressing down.  [With an expecting expression to Akane 
as she approaches the mound.]  Well what's the good word?

Akane:  [Coldly with determination.]  We accept the terms of your 
wager!  [Walks towards the plate to await the first pitch of the 
bottom of the seventh inning.]

Igarashi & Matsui  [Stunned expressions.]  Ahh...!

[Akane comes up to the plate with Ayukawa on the on-deck circle.]

Akane:  [Sighs.]  Well, seeing how Kyosuke's performed so far, 
it's up to me to regain some of the family honor.  More 
importantly, I don't want to paint any boarding house...[Bears 
down.]

Matsui:  Too stupid to know when to quit eh?  [Smiling.]  Well 
that's fine with me.  She doesn't have a chance.  [To himself.]  
Maybe a brush-back fastball pitch.  It'll scare her so much that 
I'll be able to strike her out easily.

[The pitcher winds up to through the pitch.  As he is halfway, 
through his motion, Akane shimmers and appears as Matsuda Seiko*, 
scantily clad in a string bikini.]
*Japanese idol singer, popular at this time.

Matsui:  Nani...!?  [Looses his concentration as he releases a 
floater.]

[Akane smacks the ball into right field and reaches first base 
easily.]

Igarashi:  [Irritatedly.]  What on earth are you doing?!  Pay 
attention!

[Ayukawa stands on the plate with Hayashibara on the on-deck 
circle.]

Akane:  [To herself.]  OK.  Madoka-san's up now.  If I can get 
into scoring position, maybe we can get a run.  I have to steal 
this base.

[As the pitcher begins his motion, Akane shimmers and appears as 
the second baseman and takes off for second.  Ayukawa swings at 
the ball in hope of a hit-and-run but fails to make contact.  The 
catcher throws the ball back to the pitcher as if nothing 
happened.]

Matsui:  Baka!  What are you doing?  She just stole second base?

Catcher:  [Perplexed.]  What?  Watanabe-san was just moving over 
towards second.

Matsui:  [Shakes his head.]  Just pay attention...

Ayukawa:  [To herself after realizing what just happened.]  Well, 
Akane will be Akane.  I suppose if the other team's cheating....  
[Smacks a curveball off the left field wall for a single.  Akane 
reaches third by the time the ball is returned to the cut-off 
man.]

[Hayashibara steps to the plate, and once again points to the 
wall.]

Matsui:  Kono*...I'll get him this time for sure.  [Begins his 
windup but fails to notice the catcher signalling wildly for an 
intentional walk.  Hayashibara steps into the swing and hits the 
ball well over the centerfield wall to tie the game at 10-all.]  
Masaka**...not again.  [Hangs his head.]
*<Netiquette violator>
**Impossible

Catcher:  [Angrily as he goes up to the mound.]  Intentional walk!  
Intentional walk!  How many times do I have to tell you not to 
wave off my signs!

Matsui:  H-hai...

[Matsui bears down as Kasuga and Kasamatsu both go down swinging.  
Katsu manages to draw a walk as Kimura comes to the plate.]

Catcher:  [Notices Kimura is looking at him and not the pitcher.]  
Wh-what are you looking at?

Kimura:  [Wide-eyed.]  I want to see the pitching signs!

Catcher:  [Decides to have a small measure of sympathy.]  All 
right...what pitch to you want?

Kimura:  [Thinks for a moment.]  Hmm...fastball!

Catcher:  Alright!  [Signals in the next pitch.  The pitcher winds 
and fires a fast ball right down the pipe which Kimura watches all 
the way into the catcher's glove.]

Umpire:  [Watching with slight disbelief.]  Strike 1!

Kimura:  Make the next one a curve ball!

Egami:  [From the dugout.]  What are you doing?!?

Catcher:  Hai!  [Signals in a curve ball.  The pitcher winds and 
fires a curve ball that lands just inside the strike zone.]

Kimura:  Sugoi!  How does he do that?

Catcher:  He grips the ball a certain way.  [To himself.]  This is 
too easy...like shooting fish in a barrel.

[Egami shakes his head with disappointment as he watches Kimura go 
down looking.  He waves off the entire affair with disgust as the 
inning comes to a close.]

[Cut to the top of the eighth inning.  With the rest of the team 
out in the field, Fujimoto and Yuko are with Egami in the dugout.]

Fujimoto:  You really should be grateful.  If you had just laid 
everything out to them in advance, things probably would have 
turned out better.

Egami:  [Nods reluctantly.]  Un...  [Looks up with resolution.]  
But I will remember!  Next time I'll remember to play fair and 
honest with everyone!

Fujimoto:  [Smiles.]  I'm glad to hear tha...

Reserve field umpire:  [Looking in the dugout with Eiji in tow.]  
Oi!  Is this your kid?

Fujimoto:  [Look of concern.]  Eiji!  Where have you been?

Reserve field umpire:  I found him in the relief pitchers' warm-up 
area.  He was stealing pitching signs from one of the teams.

Fujimoto:  Eiji!  [Looking ashamed.]  You know you shouldn't do 
that!

Eiji:  But...[Points in Egami's general direction, but is 
interrupted as Egami grabs his hand.]

Egami:  You heard your mother!  Honesty, good sportsmanship, those 
are qualities that deserve to be nurtured!  Your actions, while 
laudable for their efforts, are misguided by their lack of honor!

Eiji:  [Indignantly.]  O-OI!  [Points at Egami.]  YOU TOL...!

Egami:  [Whispers harshly as he clamps Eiji's mouth.]  Urusen 
dayo*!  Here!  [Surreptitiously slips Eiji another 100-yen coin.]  
We'll talk about it later!
*Be quiet (rudely)

[Cut to the bottom of the ninth.  The score is tied at 10-all.  
Matsui notices Yoko in the on-deck circle and motions his catcher 
to the plate.]

Matsui:  Oi, that's the girl who almost took my head off with the 
line drive at the beginning of the game.  I'm counting on you to 
distract her!

Catcher:  [Shakes his head with fear.]  No, not me!  She's got a 
bat in her hands and last time I said a thing to her, she 
threatened to break my knees!

Matsui:  Coward!  Very well, I'll handle it!  She can't do 
anything to me from the batter's box anyway!

[Yoko comes up and digs in.  Matsui wastes two pitches throwing 
high and inside hoping to intimidate her but doesn't get the 
slightest reaction other than Yoko moving her head out of the 
way.]

Matsui:  [To himself.]  Sheesh, nothing scares her...  [To Yoko as 
he throws his pitch.]  You really are an otemba* aren't you!
*tomboy (rudely)

Yoko:  [Angrily tenses up as the pitched ball flies towards her.]  
Nante ittan-dayo*?!?  KONO...!  [Swings with all her strength.]  
<CRACK!>
*What did you say?!?  (rudely)

Matsui:  [Freezes with momentary terror as a searing line drive 
hits him square in the protective cup, which causes him to 
collapse in gasping agony.]

Umpire:  [Harshly to Yoko as she runs for first base.]  You!  
You're gone!

Yoko:  NANI?!?  DOUSHITE*?!?
*Why?!?

Umpire:  You hit him with that ball intentionally!

Yoko:  IT WAS AN ACCIDENT!!

Umpire:  YOU'RE GONE!

Yoko:  [To the umpire as she is bodily carried away by Egami, 
Sakurai, and Akane.]  Saitei-dayo!*
*You're the worst (rudely)

Catcher:  [Running up to the pitcher.]  Dai-daijoubu*?!?
*Are you alright?

Matsui:  [Gasping with determination as he lies on the ground.]  
H-h-hai...!

Catcher:  [To Igarashi.]  Oi!  We'd better warm up the relief 
pitcher!

Matsui:  [Gasping as he grips his catcher's sleeve.]  No!  
I...must pitch for the pride of Daidai-sou*!
*House of bitter orange/generations.

Catcher:  [Deadpan.]  You just don't want to spend the afternoon 
painting.

Matsui:  [Nods weakly.]  Hai, that too...

Egami:  [To Yuko after stuffing Yoko into the team locker room and 
locking the door leading to the dugout.]  Go out there and pinch 
hit!

Yuko:  Un!  [Pulls off her hair ribbon, puts on a batting helmet, 
and runs out to the plate.]

Umpire:  [To Yuko.]  What are you still doing out here?!?  You're 
gone!

Yuko:  [Tries to get the umpire's attention.]  But...

Umpire:  [Stubbornly points to the dugout.]  GONE!

[Egami grits his teeth as he watches Yuko walk off the field with 
dejection.  He turns around and looks with a belated expression 
when he sees who's left on the bench.]  

Egami:  [To Saito.]  Come here!  Don't worry about a thing; I've 
got an unbeatable plan to win the game!  [Clenches his fist 
dramatically.]  You will score the winning run for the pride of 
Seishun-kan!

Saito:  [Nods as he is taken in by Egami's dramatic speech.]  Un!  

Egami:  Here's what I want you to do.  [Whispers in Saito's ear.]

Saito:  [Recoils.]  But I don't want to get hurt!

Egami:  BAKA!  [Pokes him in the ribs.]  Take one for the team!  
[Pushes him into the on-deck circle.]

Saito:  [Protesting.]  Is this your "unbeatable plan"?  What 
happened to your house's "honor"?

Egami:  The house doesn't care how we win!  It'll get you on base!

[Saito walks up to the plate.  On the very first pitch, he leans 
in close to the plate.]

Saito:  [As the ball strikes him in the ribs.]  ITE!

Umpire:  [Points to first base.]  Take your base!

Matsui:  [Silently to the umpire as he watches Saito limp his way 
to first base.]  Kuso...!*  Blind idiot...!  That guy didn't even 
try to get out of the way...!
*<Netiquette violator>

[Akane goes to the plate, but this time fails to reach base safely 
as she is nipped at first on a short hopper to right field, moving 
Saito to second base.  Sakurai pops out.  Ayukawa hits a single to 
center field, which moves Saito to third.  After a brief 
discussion between Matsui and the catcher, Hayashibara is 
intentionally walked to bring up Kasuga with two outs and the 
bases loaded.]

Kasuga:  [To himself.]  This is it!  My chance to win it all for 
everyone!  [Grips the bat tighter in anticipation.]

Matsui:  [Digs in, checks the runners on base and grips the ball 
tighter.]  This is it!  I've got to stop them now!

Ayukawa:  [To herself on second base.]  Kasuga-kun, please don't 
yield to temptation.  If this is a game for honor, then let's win 
it honorably!

[Matsui kicks and fires...]

<CRACK!>

[...DRAMATIC PAUSE...]

[The dust clears with Kasuga lying on the ground.  The ball is 
flying straight up above the plate, it's trajectory coming from a 
ricochet off Kasuga's batting helmet.]

Ayukawa:  [Gasps with surprise and concern.]  Ah...!

Matsui:  [Gasps with shock and dismay.]  Ahh...!

Kasuga:  [Clutching his head with pain.]  I...TAI...!

[The ball lands on the ground amid the small cloud of dust.  The 
umpire officially motions Kasuga towards first base, which forces 
Saito home.]

Egami:  [Comes charging out of the dugout.]  VICTORY...!

[The rest of the team comes running to congratulate Saito for 
scoring the winning run.  Ayukawa helps Kasuga pulls his helmet 
off as the scoreboard officially registers the final score.  The 
members of Daidai-sou leave the field with dejected expressions on 
their faces.]

Igarashi:  [Frustratedly to himself.]  It was so perfect...!  We 
were *meant* to win...!  How...!?!

[Cut to outside the school grounds.  The final results are posted 
on the boards with Seishun-kan marked for continuation for the 
next day's finale.  As the rest of the team heads to Chez Kooun 
for celebration, Ayukawa and Kasuga lag behind.]

Ayukawa:  [Checks his bruise.]  Looks like it's just a minor bump 
thanks to your helmet.  You're going to be OK.

Kasuga:  [Smiles and nods.]  Un.  [Smile slips some.]  
Ayukawa...I'm sorry about...the way I acted during the game.

Ayukawa:  Well, they were cheating too...and you did...what you 
thought you had to do.  I guess it's sometimes hard to not use 
your powers when it's easy to change things.

Kasuga:  Ayukawa...about the dinner date last week...I...

Ayukawa:  [Tersely.]  Don't worry about it.  All we did was talk 
and...I'm sure you had something important.

Kasuga:  No, I mean...it wasn't that important.  I really should 
have been there and...I'm sorry about how things turned out.  
[Tries to steer away from the subject.]  I guess it was a good 
thing you asked Hayashibara to play.  He was...really something 
today.

Ayukawa:  No, I didn't.

Kasuga:  Eh?

Ayukawa:  Kasuga-kun...I'm sorry I acted so coldly during the 
game.  It's because...I like you the way you are.  I'm not asking 
you to change or be someone you aren't.  In the past, you've 
always tried your best, without using the power.  That's one of 
your best points...and one of the reasons I love you.  Please 
don't try to force yourself for me.  Besides,  [Points at Kasuga.] 
that *was* some pitch you threw!  I guess Hayashibara isn't the 
only one who can play baseball!  [Runs away towards Chez Kooun.]

Kasuga:  [Surprised.]  A-Ayukawa!  [Smiles as he chases after 
her.]

[Slowly pull back from the frozen scene.  The ballpark can be seen 
behind them as Ayukawa and Kasuga run to join the victory 
celebration at Chez Kooun.]

Kasuga Narration:  We looked back on that game with fondness for 
quite some time.  Egami-san called us "A team of destiny" and 
insisted we were something special.  I look at the friends we made 
these last eight months and I sometimes think he's right.  
Friendships...are something special.

END CREDITS

New Characters Designer/Writer	Stephen Tsai
Co-writers			James Holman
				Quincy S. Huoh
Doujinshi Artwork		Tony Jung
Pre-readers			Harold Ancell
				Bob Carragher
				Doug Eckhart
				Brian Edmonds
				Jim Ramberg
				Lisa Richardson
				Ben Taylor
				Jeff Williamson
Very special thanks to		Hitoshi Doi

A tip of the hat and a deep bow to	Matsumoto Izumi for starting 
the whole thing

If I left anyone off, my apologies.  Any mistakes/embarrassing 
faux pas are entirely my own.  If there is anything here you must 
flame, aim them at me and me alone.

Thank you for taking the time to read this episode of my series.  
If you are interested, previous episodes should be available at 
the ftp.std.com ftp site.  Assuming that I don't get flamed off 
the net, I've got the next episode in the works.  If you have any 
story ideas, or general ideas, please send them.  Any tidbits 
about the Japanese advanced education system will be especially 
looked at (see first writer's note).

Hope you enjoyed it and thanks again!



-- 
Kimagure Productions| Catcher:  Aren't you warm?  How about wearing a looser
    --present--     | shirt...?
 Orange College #22 | 
  Sailor Ranma #8   | Yoko:  How about I break your knees?
   *Coming Soon*    |
Stephen Tsai        | Catcher:  ...
stsai@netcom.com    | Kimagure Orange College #22

 

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