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Part Nine

From the infirmary’s window, the members of Toho could see Kira lying in a pile of broken glass, blood oozing from the long lacerations on his arms. Surprisingly, he stood up only a few moments later and walked away, seemingly unfazed.

Not long after that, Kitazume entered the room, looking unusually dignified. “And so be the fate of all who horn in on my racket,” he said.

Nobody knew quite what to say after that. Takeshi leaned out the window, watching Kira get into a taxi and zoom away. His eyes widened. “I do believe he’s immortal,” he said in wonder. He had to be! On the day he joined Meiwa and met the man, he had guessed that he was some kind of leprechaun, or maybe even a troll. He smiled faintly. Why not?

“Tomorrow you will have to face the twins without my help,” Hyuga announced abruptly.

Upon hearing that, all of his teammates turned to him. He was gazing out the window, staring at the sun with an odd sort of rapture. It was as if he were not even talking to them at all. “H...Hyuga san...!” Takeshi exclaimed.

“Tomorrow,” their captain repeated. Judging from the strange expression on his face, he must’ve had no idea that he was even speaking. He was lost.

“That’s right,” Kitazume said, agreeing with the boy for once. “Now we must leave you alone. If you get enough rest today, I will allow you to watch tomorrow’s game.” Although this was a rare moment of kindness on his behalf, for some reason it sounded like he was yelling. He didn’t know how to do it any other way...

Takeshi moved away from the window then, giving Hyuga a long last look. “I hope you feel better soon,” he said wistfully.

Hyuga managed a slight nod, his eyes still fixed on the blazing sun. The had always been his friend. No matter what evil he had to face, it would always be there, watching him, strong and undying like he always wished he could be...

“Let’s go, team!” Kitazume barked to the members of Toho that still lingered in the hall. “We have a lot of work to do today. Get moving!”

“Yes, sir!” they chorused. They followed their coach out of the hallway and down to the field. They would triumph. Even though they had Steven’s body to remove, a battered goal to repair, and a great deal of blood to mop up, the day was still young, and none of these problems would fail to be remedied with the help of a squeegee and a can of Spackle.

Seeing that the rest of the team had already left, Wakashimazu re-entered the room, frowning slightly. Something’s not right here... Hyuga was still staring outside, transfixed by that circle of light in the sky. What the-- Walking up beside him, Wakashimazu waved a hand in front of his captain’s eyes. After looking out the window and finding nothing of interest, the confused goalie left.

Tsubasa sat down on a bench near Nankatsu’s soccer field, dazed. It was so hard to practice today... After seeing how miserable he was, his mother had been worried about him and asked him to stay home, but he insisted that he was feeling fine. After all, how would a mother react upon finding out that her only son had a hangover that he just couldn’t shake? Maybe he would feel better if he threw up a few more times...

“Good day,” a loud voice sounded.

Tsubasa jumped. In front of him was none other than Karl Heinz Schneider, holding a crimson Nazi flag in both hands. I didn’ t hear him at all... The boy blinked. Something was wrong... Where’s Hefner...?

Schneider obviously didn’t notice this. “Do you like it?” he asked, giving the flag a twirl. “It came straight from the Fatherland early this morning. It is quite well made.”

Tsubasa said nothing.

Schneider paused. “Of course, I thought to order an extra one. It should be arriving at your house some time this afternoon. For 10, 000 yen extra, I can have it installed for you. Really, the exchange costs were minimal.”

Tsubasa still said nothing.

“I understand.” Sighing, the German produced a bottle of beer from thin air and handed it to his Japanese friend. He winked. “Drink first, talk later,” he said wisely.

Tsubasa felt his body grow cold. As soon as Karl gave him the bottle, he handed it back, shaking his head. Not again...never again... “I don’t drink.”

The blond boy smiled menacingly. “Yes you do.” Tsubasa took back the bottle, then stared at it blankly. Not caring much that he didn’t exactly have the boy’s undivided attention, he began to speak. “The plan to do away with your non-Aryan enemy is not working out as the Fuhrer expected.”

Tsubasa raised his head a tiny bit. “It’s all right,” he said weakly.

“I wasn’t apologizing! Anyway, I have a plan that cannot fail and will be much more satisfying than having a lower-ranking Nazi eliminate Hyuga. This time, my dear boy, you will have the opportunity to do the honors.” Schneider stopped to take a breath, then smiled at the boy encouragingly. “All it requires is for you to send a challenge to the enemy school. Bring him here, and let time do the rest.”

“I don’t know--” Tsubasa started to say.

“Of course, I’ve already had Hefner deliver the message,” Schneider continued. Seeing that his companion wasn’t enjoying it enough, he took the bottle of booze from him and took a long swallow. “Why are you worried, Aryan Tsubasa? It will be fun!”

Hyuga managed to shake himself from his daze a few minutes after his teammates departed. He blinked and turned away from the window. Black spots were beginning to dance before his eyes, but they would pass, they always did.

He had just begun to benefit from the effects of the fresh air when a round object whizzed through the open window inches from his head. It hit the wall behind him, bounced off, and flew into his hands. A soccer ball? He turned it over, too startled to react more appropriately. It had...a message written on it?

Greetings, non-Aryan slime the ball said. Aryan Tsubasa Ozora challenges you at noon today, the usual field. Be there! This message was accompanied by a swastika and a caricature of a scowling, mustached man.

For a moment Hyuga was subdued, then his face burned with rage. That Tsubasa...what is this?! How could he?! How could he ever have such nerve--such audacity to do something like this?! Is this his sick idea of a joke?!! A get-well card? That...that bastard has gone too far!!!!

“I’m leaving,” he said simply. “I won’t let him get away with this insult. Now I have to make him pay.” His fighting instincts were aroused, and soon the whole world would know the consequences of making a fool out of Kojiro Hyuga. Yet, as he prepared himself for battle, it dawned on him. Something from his past.

He had disappeared so many times before. There was a danger involved in his decision that had nothing to do with his vendetta. He would lose his position as captain of Toho if he left again--Kitazume would personally see to it that he would never be able to play soccer again.

“What should I do?” he wondered out loud, staring at the soccer ball in his hands as if it would give him an answer. The little man on it seemed to spring to life.

“Coward!” the tiny Hitler screeched. “You’re not a member of the master race!

That was quite enough. Thoroughly incensed, Hyuga threw the ball to the floor and kicked it as hard as he could. Seeing the hole it smashed in the wall, he stood back and gazed at his handiwork satisfied. Beat that, Tsubasa!

Wait a minute, a nagging voice in the back of his head spoke up. Is this really the way things are going to work out? Even if you do win--

There was only one way he could go through with this. He had to tell Coach Kitazume.

Now wasn't that nice...(snicker). Stay tuned for an extra-special, extra-long Part Ten!

Part Ten
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