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Part Six

"What the devil happened here?!!"

Wakashimazu and Takeshi exchanged uneasy looks upon hearing their coachís reaction. This was not good. Kitazume stepped over the fallen door, his eyes firey behind his colored lenses. "Who did that?" he demanded. "Did you think I wouldnít notice? Answer me!"

Nobody could say anything in response. Sure, it wasnít part of their original plan to wake the old guy up...but the consequences of protecting their captain hadnít occurred to them before... Apparently, they still hadnít occurred to Hyuga. He jumped off the cot, not fazed in the least by Kitazumeís outburst. He had more important things to think about. "Coach--" he began.

The older man stared at him. He knew what he was going to say. "I donít want to hear it," he told him abruptly, cutting him off. "Youíre being foolish. I canít allow you to participate in the next game."

Just who does he think heís talking to? He doesnít understand at all! Hyuga could feel his anger rising again, but managed to keep his voice reasonably calm. "Listen, I canít desert the team at a time like this. I--"

"Enough! I wonít hear of it!" His coach was adamant. "I donít care about the blow this does to your pride! Be realistic! Nobody can receive such an injury and play after such a short time! Iím sorry if you object, but it canít be helped." With those final words, Kitazume left.

Hyuga muttered a curse under his breath, but his eyes gleamed curiously. He touched his forehead, wincing.

Takeshiís blank expression grew tense with anxiety when he caught sight of this. "Whatís wrong, Hyuga san?" he asked in a tiny voice.

I wonít allow it, his captain thought desperately, Iím not Tsubasa! Iíll lead my team to victory at any cost--no bump on the head is going to keep me from my duty! Iíll play and Iíll win!

"Youíll only get worse if you keep on resisting Coach Kitazumeís instructions," Wakashimazu said after some time, mildly scolding. "Itís true that we need you, but if you donít do whatís best for your health youíll suffer more in the long run. So will we. Now lie down and get some rest."

Hyuga shook his head stubbornly, annoyed at his friendís break in resolve. "Iím sorry, but I canít listen to you. I have to play in the next game, and no one is going to stop me. Iím your captain, and you have to obey me." Yet, even as he said this, his vision began to blur...

"I said......LIE DOWN!!!!" Wakashimazu practically screamed. "Youíd better damn well listen!"

Takeshi jumped. Startled, Hyuga complied, gazing at his fuming friend with dim eyes.

Wakashimazu folded his arms, his glare positively venomous. In his weakened state, Hyuga could almost believe the goalie had grown fangs. Scary...

"This is too much, Hyuga san. I wonít let you continue this self-destruction. If you play in the next game, itíll be over my dead body!!!"

The night was young, and the choking fog of tragedy still hung in the air. Despite what it seemed, the good people of Toho werenít the only ones holding a vigil. The dayís senseless events had taken their toll on a greater number.

A dejected figure walked the dark streets with his head down, occasionally glancing up to make sure he didnít collide with anything nasty. Super-goalie Genzo Wakabayashi heaved a heavy sigh and stepped over the yellow tape surrounding the horrible chalk outlines. Kneeling, he removed his hat and set an elaborate flower arrangement next to the last trace of his friend.

"Why, Lord, " he implored, "why did You take Ishizaki from us? I...Iíll promise to never act like the Devil again if You just give him back to me!!"

He replaced his hat and wiped away a tear. "Goodbye..." he whispered, not wanting to say more and betray his weakness to the world around him. He crawled back under the tape; he wouldnít look back. Never.

Maybe thereís a bar open nearby.

It was a half hour later when the dazed Wakabayashi wandered into the seedy, smoke-filled bar. The air smelled slightly sweet and choking, definitely not ordinary tobacco smoke. Wakabayashi didnít care. Getting stoned on top of getting blitzed was a welcome alternative to feeling the pain he was experiencing.

Ignoring the various jeers and insults from the half-drunk patrons, he climbed onto a much-too-high barstool. "Give me a scotch on the rocks," he said dully.

Noticing his uniform, the person sitting next to him choked on his beer. "Do you...come here often?" he asked nervously, wiping foam off his face.

Wakabayashi shook his head, then turned away. He had almost managed to fall back into his daze when a rather obnoxious voice snapped him awake. Spinning around, he saw a banana blond young man enjoying a frosty brew of his own. He was surrounded by at least five empty mugs and was conversing rather loudly with a waitress.

Poor, hapless Genzo Wakabayashi recognized him right away. His breath quickened. HIm...HIM!!!! An uncontrollable urge to face off against him--to utterly destroy him--subverted his grief, and he found himself smashing a barstool over Schneiderís head before he could stop.

He watched with a mixture of excitement and dread as splinters of wood tumbled off the Germanís hair and hit the floor. Schneider slowly lifted his head, his teeth bared in a feral snarl. "What...what was that...?!!!" He jumped to his feet, and, whipping out a small pistol, fired a shot at Wakabayashi. With a cry like a demon, the enemy goalie grabbed somebodyís drink off a table and flung it in Schneiderís face.

People screamed, scattering into the background as the non-blond soccer player assaulted his opponent with various alcoholic beverages. Schneider ducked behind a table and was about to reload when a police siren broke through the air. Cursing, he fled.

The bartender watched as the other underage patron made his exit, his eyes wide. "Hey, they didnít pay!"

Wakabayashi half-stumbled into the alley behind the bar, his heart pounding. As he gaped at his dank surroundings, thousands of voices filled his ears--the tauntings of those slobbering drunks, that irritating drawl of Schneiderís...they were mocking him...

Youíll never get a date with a face like that!! Youíre out of shape! No way youíre the best goalkeeper in the world!!!!!

Theyíre all around me... The poor boy let out a choked cry as he tripped over a rock and tumbled head over heels into a trash can. Dejected and alone, he lay on the pavement sobbing his heart out like he vowed heíd never do. His career was over. He was finished!

Hefner turned off the water and stepped out of the shower. After drying himself vigorously with a fluffy white towel, he reached for his red terry cloth robe, which was hanging on the doorknob, as always. He smiled. The blood and dirt had come off under the soothing warm water, and so had the bad feelings. He was happy and clean, clean and happy. It was as if all of the troubles of his life...all of his sorrows and frustrations had been rinsed off and washed down the drain. He always felt that way after a shower.

Goodbye sorrows, he thought as he took a can of mousse off the shelf and squeezed a bit into his hands, then began to work it through his damp hair. Long live Happy Hefner!

Happy Hefner grabbed a big round brush and his industrial strength hair dryer. He turned the hair dryer on its highest setting, then began to hum to himself. That way, he could get his mind off the fact that his face felt like it was peeling off in crispy layers.

The job was done in five minutes flat. Hefner left the steamy bathroom. He sat down in a plush armchair in the lounge, slowly sipping a cup of Lapsang Souchong tea and leafing through the latest copy of Bunte. He leaned back in the chair, sighing contentedly. He was completely relaxed. He was feeling all right.

He had been reading for about fifteen minutes when his gaze strayed to the VCR in the corner of the lounge. He sighed. Itís past midnight...Iíd better turn in. Tomorrow would be a busy day...just like all of the days to follow... He stuffed Bunte under the chairís cushions and rose. It was so dark...Karl and the other Brothers were probably already asleep. He picked up the lone candle that he had been using as a reading light, then made his way over to the staircase, quiet as death. He was exhausted...exhausted from fighting, exhausted from spending every waking hour trying to obliterate one person. One person who just happened to be very tall, very dark, very handsome...

Hefner shook his head suddenly. Better nip that in the bud. Thinking twice, he returned to his previous spot and retrieved Bunte. Maybe he could find some nice pictures of naked women in it...

He continued up the stairs, entering the darkened hallway. As he stepped into the hall, he noticed something. A light flickering on not far was probably nothing. One of the Brothers needed to use the bathroom... He kept walking, not paying much heed to this. But just as he was about to enter his room, a hand seized him by the neck.

"Did you kill Hyuga?!" a voice demanded, hoarse with anger, its ownerís hot breath causing the hairs on the back of Hefnerís neck to rise.

Hefner choked. "No!" he squeaked.

His captor shifted his grip, reaching over to turn on the hall light. The German goalkeeper gasped. It was none other than Karl Heinz Schneider himself, clad in black leather pants, high boots, and red sash, and an open-throated white blouse. His eyes were pale blue coals, burning right through his heart. He was not pleased. "Are you saying that you FAILED?"

Hefner nodded slowly, not knowing what else to do.

Schneider gave him a tight-lipped smile. Then he grabbed Hefnerís throat with one hand, slapping him viciously with the other. "You scum!" he screeched, spraying flecks of saliva everywhere in his fury. He slapped him again. "You shame your Aryan blood!"

"" gasped Happy Hefner.

Schneider let out a growl, throwing him to the ground. He unhooked the bullwhip that had been hanging from his sash. He cracked it against the floor, dangerously close to Hefnerís cowering form. "Take off your robe."

The other boy didnít comply, too petrified to move.

"Are you wearing anything under it?" Schneider demanded.

Hefner nodded, his pounding heart ready to burst right out of his chest. Very slowly, he began to take off his robe, revealing his heart boxer shorts.

The blond young man raised his arm, his eyes flashing. His face had turned an odd bluish color, as if rage had iced over all the blood in his body. He lunged forward, letting out a cry like an attacking cat. "Iíll teach you to disobey me!"

His arm came down. Hefner screamed, white-hot pain shooting through his body. Once it faded, it returned even stronger, unbearable. He was dying. "No...!" he gasped between blows. "I..I canít stand it any more..."

"There is no mercy for failures!" Gritting his teeth, Schneider raised his arm once again.

Wakabayashi wiped his eyes, slowly getting to his feet. Damn...I really have got to pull myself together... How could he remain the greatest goalkeeper in the world if he couldnít forget what had happened in the past...? Time to move on. He picked his hat up off the ground, dusted it off, and set it back on his head. He started back down the street. Hmm...maybe Tsubasa will have something encouraging to say to me...he always does...

However, he found himself deliberately walking past the boyís house and into a section of town that he was not familiar with. He wasnít sure why...but he had been walking for about twenty minutes when he stopped, out of breath. He wasnít used to moving around so much...being a goalie and all...but he could see a school nearby. He smiled to himself. Maybe he could practice a little on their soccer field...just to cool down...

He was about to do just that when a strange noise stopped him. Very slowly, he turned his head to the side. The dumpster...? Taking a breath, he walked over to it and lifted up the lid.

"BLAAAAAGGH!!!" A horrible creature suddenly flew out of the dumpster and lunged at him! Wakabayashi tried not to scream as the thing growled at him, drooling. He managed to move out of the way and cowered against the wall, shaking uncontrollably. Then he recognized it. That terrifying was that nasty Englishman he had met in Europe! Ye gods...he felt his stomach grow queasy....whereís his other leg..?!

Wakabayashi was transfixed. He stared at the horribly disfigured Steven in terror. Then he started to laugh.

Heh...I guess this is a weird place to cut it's as good as any! Well, on to Part Seven!

Part Seven
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