Heaven certainly didn’t its traditional concept; it was black as tar and filled with all sorts of odd and frightening sounds. Screams punctuated a dischord of screeching tires and wailing sirens--could it be? No! What happened wasn’t his fault--it wasn’t anybody’s fault. . .it was an accident, just a terrible, tragic accident. Could that have been enough to--
“Wakashimazu san!” a familiar voice cried. “Wakashimazu san, please wake up!”
His eyes flew open. Takeshi, not some horned demon, was leaning over him, tears streaming down his face. The wheelbarrow. . .had stopped? It never passed over the break in the sidewalk? Then this wasn’t hell. It wasn’t heaven, either.
“Are you okay, Wakashimazu?” Sorimachi asked as the confused goalkeeper struggled to sit. “You really gave us a scare!”
Wakashimazu brushed his bangs out of his eyes and gazed up at him. “ I. . .I don’t understand. . .” was all he could say.
“You jumped into the wheelbarrow with Hyuga san as soon as it started to roll away,” Takeshi explained, wiping his cheeks with a shaky hand. “You weren’t going that fast, and the rest of us thought it was pretty funny for awhile, but then you screamed like you were going crazy. Then you fainted, I think.”
“Again?” Wakashimazu blinked a few times, still confused. “Is Hyuga san all right?”
“He was out the whole time.” Takeshi, overcome by maternal instincts, patted his captain’s head.
“We’d better get him out of here.” The goalie climbed out of the wheelbarrow, surprised at how weak and trembly he felt. Well, he had died recently.
However, before anyone had a chance to speak, an oddly familiar voice sounded. “So, what have we got here, boys?”
Takeshi turned around, surprised. Behind him stood a tall, stocky young man with close-cropped dark hair. He was jogging in place, his face flushed cheerfully.
“Soda san?” None of the players were sure why Makoto Soda would be passing through that part of town, or why he looked so pleased to see them. Takeshi bristled. Where had he come from, anyway? The sewer?
Soda’s large black eyes expanded when he noticed the wheelbarrow peeking out from within the group. “Is that your captain?” he asked in a voice that was his own, yet strangely different.
“He’s been hurt,” Takeshi said warily. Once again he felt that something was not right, but he couldn’t put his finger on just what.
The older boy bit his lip, his face contorting strangely. After a few involuntary twitches, he burst out into hysterical laughter.
“What’s the matter with you?” Sorimachi asked, annoyed.
Soda didn’t answer. He turned and ran down the street, cackling like a hyena.
Takeshi considered tackling him, but he was stopped by something more important than a freaky guy in tasteless gym clothes.
“Captain!” Wakashimazu exclaimed, leaning over the wheelbarrow.
Hyuga’s eyes slowly opened. A fuzzy figure loomed before him, looking more like a red and blue blob than anything remotely human. It could only be one person. “Ken Wakashimazu. . .” he murmured.
Wakashimazu nodded, pleased. “It’s me, Captain. How are you?”
Hyuga’s eyes opened wider as he tried to take in his surroundings. He blanched. “Is this some kind of sick joke?!”
Tsubasa and Wakabayashi walked down the street, enjoying the refreshing sights of the neighborhood. The late afternoon sun shone a bright yellow on the faces of the children playing nearby. It felt great to be alive.
“It’s really great to have you back, Wakabayashi kun,” Tsubasa said, gazing at his friend’s profile in rapture.
He looks so good in green, the wide-eyed captain of Nankatsu thought. Just like a dear, dear leprechaun. Gen chan, I’m gonna make you mine!
Wakabayashi, oblivious to the fact that he was being gawked at, walked on, a dreamy, nostalgic expression on his face. “I remember when we were children together. We had a lot of fun, didn’t we?”
“And now we can keep on having fun,” Tsubasa said. “Stay here, Wakabayashi kun. Stay with me and never go back to Germany, okay?”
Wakabayashi slowed to a stop. “But, Tsubasa--what about your dream of going to Brazil to play with a professional soccer team? Don’t throw your life away!”
“I DON’T CARE! I want to be with you!” The boy’s eyes sparkled with unshed tears. “Promise, Wakabayashi kun! Promise you’ll stay with me and be my very best friend in the whole wide world! Promise!” He grabbed Wakabayashi’s hand and squeezed it until it hurt.
“All right, already!” The goalkeeper took back his hand and began to massage it.
“Okayyyy!” Now Tsubasa was as happy as a little kid on his first day of summer vacation. He laid his head on his friend’s shoulder, grinning like a damn fool.
Wakabayashi pulled away, shaking.
“Wha. . .what’s wrong?” Tsubasa asked. “Are you all right?”
Wakabayashi shook his head, suddenly very pale. “Terrible. . . I’m sensing something terrible...”
The boy responded by removing his jacket and draping it over his great friend’s shoulders. “Better now?”
His great friend raised an eyebrow. “You’re starting to scare me. Tsubasa. . .are you sure you’re not gay?”
“No!!” Tsubasa shrieked. “You’re so mean! You can love a guy and still like girls! Why do you have to embarrass me like that?!”
Wakabayashi had no chance to reply. A familiar-looking boy was jogging up to them.
“Tsu-ba-sa chan!” Makoto Soda sang, whipping the towel off his neck and giving his face a good swipe. “Konnichiwa!”
Tsubasa turned, breaking into a wide grin. “ Aa, Soda kun!” he called. “Konnichiwa!”
“Can I talk to you alone?” the strange boy chirped. “I’ve got something reeeally important to talk to you about!”
“Uh. . .sure.” Tsubasa glanced at his friend, regretful. “Wakabayashi kun. . .”
“Later, later.” The goalkeeper gave him an evil smile. “See ya!” After a few seconds of waving, he walked off. Once he made it around the first corner, he broke into a run.
Soda smirked slyly as soon as they were alone. “I didn’t think I’d see you so soon,” he said mysteriously.
Tsubasa was mystified. He hadn’t seen Soda for weeks! “What are you talking about?”
Still smiling, Soda reached behind his ears. Tsubasa’s expression grew horrified. He let out a high-pitched scream as the other boy began to peel off his face. This couldn’t be happening! This couldn’t be real!
“Ah, that’s much better.” Soda no more, the now blond-haired, blue-eyed young man tossed the shapeless lump that was once his face over his shoulder and rubbed it into the pavement with his foot. “Fuhrer’s greetings to you, Aryan Ozora,” he said.
Tsubasa choked. “Schneider. . .”
Schneider nodded. “I didn’t want to scare you like that, but it was the only way I could get close to you.”
The boy shook his head, turning blue.
“Anyway, I came here to report what has happened with the Nazi Boy’s Club today.” He paused. “I’m quite sorry to tell you this, but Hefner has fallen from grace. He failed me on an important mission and allowed his activities to be exposed. Starting tomorrow at noon, Blondi will be taking over his place.”
Tsubasa nodded. He wanted to be with Wakabayashi kun, but he had to brave this first.
In a surprising motion, Schneider caught him in a fierce hug. “Oh, Aryan Tsubasa,” he said feelingly, “you are the perfect vision of Hitler’s dream! So young. So innocent. So willing to obey your Master’s commands. Now listen well, my Leibchen. This is most important.” He let the boy go, but still held onto his hands. “You have the most potential of any non-German I have ever seen. Therefore, I will let you hear my news before any of the other Brothers.”
Tsubasa was startled. “What news?” he asked timidly.
Schneider beamed. “Just within the hour, I spotted the non-Aryan slime while in my disguise. He was with those unworthy, devil-spawned teammates of his.” He let out a maniacal laugh. “He’s finished, Aryan Tsubasa! From the way he was looking, he’ll never play again! Smile, little Brother! Laugh! Rejoice! Today is the day in which the world’s cleansing of non-Aryan vagabonds and Gypsies begins!”
Tsubasa managed a small smile. “Won’t that be nice,” he said weakly.
“That’s verdammen right! Today is a new day for the Aryan race. Mark my words, on democracy’s grave and the rise of a new World, WE WILL PREVAIL!!!”