FRIENDS AND LOVERS: SHIN TSUBASA
MISUGI'S OLD FRIEND
Disclaimer: Captain Tsubasa belongs to Yoichi Takahashi. This work of fiction was created solely out of love for the characters by a fan, for other fans. The lyrics at the beginning of the chapter are from the song "Comatose" by the amazing band Skillet.
I hate feeling like this,
I'm so tired of trying to fight this,
I'm asleep and all I dream of is waking to you.
Tell me that you will listen,
Your touch is what I'm missing
And the more I hide I realize,
I'm slowly losing you.
I'll never wake up without an overdose of you.
JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ MHMJMHMJ
Misugi Jun was packing his clothes.
Coach Mikami had asked him to draw up his own 'dream team' using all the information he had gathered about the players' styles and personalities. He was very excited to receive the assignment for several reasons.
First, he had already been thinking about what players would make a good starting team. Now, he had a chance to applying his theories.
The second reason was a bit more selfish.
Now I get to move back to my own room.
After all, he needed quiet to work on his assignment, an element which was nonexistent in the dorms.
Initially, Misugi had enjoyed the time he spent with the others. Everyone was welcoming; more so when he told them he was there to make sure they were doing well and had everything they needed to train. A few even took his role a bit too seriously and kept reporting trivial complaints- that the dorm needed an AC installed, that Mikami worked them too hard, etc.
But those comments never reached the coach. Hyuuga Kojiro had quickly put an end to the grumbling (mostly from Ishizaki, Soda, and Urabe) by telling them to stop being wusses and that they were here to train, not to be pampered. T
The first comment in Misugi's notebook would have been about the Toho captain's natural leadership skills, except his ability to motivate others was common knowledge. Coach had already noticed it and Misugi was pretty sure Hyuuga would be chosen as Captain.
After Kojiro's reprimand, Misugi was able to concentrate more on his main objective; getting information about the players to help the coach make strategic decisions.
He was already well acquainted with some of the boys from before like Team Nankatsu's players Ishizaki, Kisugi, Taki, Izawa and Morisaki. He had also known Hyuuga and Matsuyama Hikaru since grade school as strong competitors; and Matsuyama was more of a friend than a mere acquaintance. However, besides their playing styles, he knew nothing about the others.
Misugi had made the most out of his stay by learning enough about the different personalities to help bring out the best in them.
The best example was related to Hyuuga's right hand Sawada Takeshi.
Coach faced some difficulty with the young midfielder. He was an excellent player, but was more inclined to pass the ball to Hyuuga and Surimachi because they were on his old team. Coach tried separating Sawada from his Toho mates during practice by placing them in opposing teams. Unfortunately, he simply didn't manage as well without them. It was too bad, especially since he had great potential.
Misugi's first objective had been to find a way to help Takeshi. He had kept an eye on him for days and noticed that the midfielder only hung out with his fellow Toho members.
Maybe if he gets more integrated with the others then he'll play better with them.
At least that was Coach's theory. But it wasn't like Misugi could force Sawada to get to know the others. He didn't even want to suggest it to him because he had realized that Sawada was a closeted shy person. Also, unlike when he was Captain of team Musashi, the players here were unused to getting orders from anyone other than their coaches or captain's. Misugi didn't want to ruffle any feathers. And although Sawada was probably open to receiving advice, Misugi didn't want to embarrass him or impose on him.
He probably just feels awkward because he's the youngest person here. Actually, he's not. There's one other player who's also a first year.
And the answer came instantly to Misugi. Nitta was a very sociable and confident person. That probably came from being the star forward of his team. And Sawada was a midfielder.
He had sat next to Nitta one night during dinner.
"So, Nitta-kun, how is everything?"
"Misugi-san, you tell me. What do you think of my playing?"
"You're playing is good, you have a great kick. But it's not really as strong as Hyuuga's is it? I wonder how he gets his kick to be that strong?"
That was all he had to do. Nitta had taken his bait and started hanging around the 'Toho' crowd. And just as Misugi predicted, he and Sawada became fast friends, drawn by virtue of being the youngest talents.
The change instantly registered on the field. Misugi suggested to Coach that he pair up midfielder Sawada and forward Nitta on the same team during practice. The result had been phenomenal. Sawada had no problem passing the ball to his new friend, which resulted in him breaking out of the habit of only passing the ball to Toho members. Soon, he was able to play just as well with everyone.
Thus Mikami's theory that friend's played better together was proven right. The exercise hadn't only been beneficial, it had been fun. Best of all, no one suspected the real reason for Misugi's presence. He never gave advice out rightly; instead always made seemingly general remarks in front of the people who needed to hear them. And so he had happily remained an unobtrusive entity.
But as the days turned into weeks, Misugi found himself missing his room.
One reason was due to the fact that he found himself learning more about the players than he felt comfortable knowing. For example, several times, he noticed Matsuyama-kun staring off into a distance, a wistful look on his face.
Misugi knew that look well; he had caught himself wearing it several times.
Wondering who Matsuyama might be missing reminded Jun of his own ache for his own longtime manager. Thankfully he was usually too busy to think about Yayoi.
But something happened during his second week with the others that made Misugi feel like he needed to leave the dorms, and that he needed his manager; and that he needed both desperately.
He had a revelation.
Ever since Katagiri invited Misugi to the camp as a coach, the young man had thrown himself into his designated position. It hadn't been difficult to channel his thoughts into 'trainer mode'. After all, thinking up plays for team Musashi so they'd be able to manage without him had been a crucial part of his duties as Captain. He had done so for years. And yet Misugi never expected he would be able to use this talent for anything other else. Becoming a trainer had never crossed his mind. He wanted to be a professional soccer player.
But he was now able to appreciate his gift for tactics on a whole new level. It enabled him to join the camp despite the fact that he couldn't play. Misugi had wanted to be a part of the national team so badly that he thought as long as he was there in some capacity, any capacity, he'd be satisfied.
He had thought that was enough.
And it was.
By focusing on the positions of the others as they played, Misugi himself hadn't missed playing.
But that was before he had joined them in their living quarters.
There was no playing in the dorms, not unless 'pillow ball' counted, and it didn't count to Misugi, no matter how hard the Jito and Sano tried to convince him.
There was no analyzing tactics, no 'trainer' mode to convert to.
Instead, there was talk. Talk about who would be picked for the junior youth league and who would be able to go to Europe. Talk about whether Tsubasa would join them there. The more confident members like Soda and Tachibana twins happily boasted that they were going to become internationally famous.
Listening to their hopes and aspirations made Misugi painfully aware that his own would never be realized. He had focused so hard on learning how to be a trainer that he hadn't reflected on being unable to play with the others.
But spending time with the players made him face that reality head on, and he had what would be described as an epiphany; except it was too obvious to be one.
He hadn't been satisfied in his new role. He hadn't been happy.
He had been in denial.
In the end, Misugi had not only gotten to know the members well, he got a pretty good look at himself too.
And he hadn't liked what he saw.
JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ
Misugi finished packing and looked one last time at the dorm that served as his room for the last several weeks.
"Well, good night. See you guys tomorrow," he addressed the Tachibana twins and Morisaki, whom, as always, were the first to return to the dorms in the evening.
"Good night, Misugi-san," Morisaki answered.
"Try not to miss us too much," Masao joked. Misugi answered his smirk with his own before shutting the door.
His private room was at the end of the same hall. Taking off his shoes, Misugi entered and started unpacking his sports bag. It didn't take long. Since his room was so close, all he had packed were essentials like sleepwear, hygienic supplies, and of course, his notebook. Everything else he had left in his room.
After he was done, he took his notebook and sat at his desk, intending to work on Mikami's latest assignment.
Back into trainer mode.
The mere thought was enough to make Jun's eyes burn and heart race.
Just like on the night he realized he still wanted to play.
JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ
It had been almost a week ago. What had started out as just another evening in the dorm, ended up being a night full of introspection and discovery.
On the evening in question, Misugi had been very tired and sleepy, but the boys had been rowdier than ever. By the time they finally settled down, Jun was wide awake with insomnia.
And extremely annoyed. No not annoyed, he had been angry.
Selfish jerks. Don't they realize that I have to be up an hour before them to help Coach prepare for the day?
The more he thought about it, the angrier he became. It didn't help that everyone else was blissfully asleep. The snoring was also louder than usual, as if the universe was mocking him. Jun became so livid that he was practically shaking in his futon with rage.
It wasn't until he felt a stab of pain in his chest that he become conscious of the fact that his blood pressure had spiked.
This isn't good, he remembered thinking.
He had taken deep relaxing breaths to try and bring his heartbeat to a slower rate. It took a while, but he eventually succeeded.
Wow. I literally almost put myself into cardiac arrest. And for what? Just because the guys took a while to fall asleep?
He had been astonished. It wasn't like the boys' turning in late was anything new. And it wasn't in his nature to be easily provoked or upset.
There has to be another reason.
Misugi had replayed the events of that day. It hadn't taken long until his mind reached an incident that caused his heartbeat to speed up again.
It wasn't the fact that the boys stayed up. It was what caused them to stay up that night.
They had been discussing their favorite topic again: who would be picked for the junior youth team. Everyone thought Hyuuga and Matsuyama were shoo- ins. So was Tsubasa, if he ever healed in time to join them.
However, they all argued over who else would be chosen.
Everyone had an opinion and the squabble had gotten especially heated that night.
They had even tried pulling Misugi into the conversation; despite his always refraining from giving an opinion, saying nothing other than 'everyone has a good chance of being picked'.
That evening, though, they had been relentless; begging, prodding, even bribing him to tell them whom Mikami would choose.
Finally, Jito suggested that they start a betting pool on who would make the team.
"Come on boys, put your money where your mouth is," he had provoked, "you can bet on who you think will be chosen; you can even bet on yourselves." Most of the players had joined the pool. Those who hadn't (Kisugi, Izawa, Morisaki, Matsuyama, Wakashimazu, Sawada, Oda and Surimachi) refused on principle.
The pool had affectively ended the argument. Everyone fell asleep afterwards.
So what had been so upsetting about this incident?
No one mentioned Misugi's name.
Well, of course no one would bring me up. I'm not registered in the camp as a player, so why would anyone bet that I'd be chosen as one?
But, if his heart rate was to be believed, that was the reason behind his anger.
Why? I'm a trainer. Why would it bother me that I wasn't in that stupid pool?
It was then that the answer hit him like a ton of bricks.
They were asking him who would be chosen and whom he thought would be a good member, and all he could think about was how hard he would work if he were a player. How much he wanted to be chosen.
All their pestering and the subsequent betting felt like they were purposely rubbing salt into an open wound. In this case, the wound was his heart.
I was envious; because I want to play too, and I can't.
And that was why he had been angry.
It had been a harrowing revelation. After which, spending time with the others in the dorm lost all its appeal. It wasn't easy to encourage and wish the members luck when all he could think about was how much he wanted to join them. And although he was a private person, he had been so affected that it he feared his face would betray his inner dilemma.
Misugi didn't even want to imagine how the others would react if they knew of his jealousy. He had it hard enough dealing with himself after he found out. His emotions kept running the gamut between depression at his illness, resentment of the others, and disappointment in himself for having such a weak reaction.
What's the use of brooding over something I know is impossible? I was supposed to have gotten over this.
It was then that he started to pine for Yayoi more than ever.
For years, she had been the only one he could talk to about his disease. It wasn't just the fact that he had kept is a secret from everyone and she was the only one who knew. It was because she could always make him forget his condition when he needed to. Sometimes, her mere presence was enough. And when it wasn't she always seemed to know what to say to put him at ease.
But she wasn't here now. And Jun hated how much he felt like he needed her. After all, just like any other young man, he had his pride. It angered him to realize how dependent he had become.
I have to be stronger than this.
His last week with the others had been tough, to say the least.
JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ
And that was why Misugi was glad to leave the dorm. Mikami's task to draw up the starting team was a chance for reprieve. He was back in his room where he couldn't be distracted from his role as a trainer by the players.
Only now he knew that all this time, he had been using his trainer role to distract himself from wanting to play.
At his desk, Misugi rubbed his face. Taking deep breaths, he tried to force the desire down, back into where it had been locked up. But he was quickly losing the battle.
Now that he was alone, there was nothing to distract him from it.
Now he was in the privacy of his room; there was no need for pretenses.
Now that the desire to play was awakened, there was no putting it back to sleep.
Tears of disappointment filled his eyes.
How can I still be grieving over this? How can I be so pathetic!?
Angrily wiping his eyes, Misugi stood up and walked towards his bed where his soccer ball was.
It had been a gift to him from his father many years ago. When Jun told his father he was joining the camp, the elder Misugi made him promise to take the ball with him. Jun had laughed and protested, saying that he didn't need it, that the camp was undoubtedly equipped with more than enough soccer balls.
"Besides, I'm not even going to play," he had said. But his father had insisted.
Misugi now understood why.
He held the old sphere in his hands.
Dad knew. He knew I would feel this way, that I would need you, old friend.
Misugi wasn't nearly as obsessed as Tsubasa, but that ball had been the only thing to keep him sane as a sickly child who couldn't play outside.
And once again it had purpose in Misugi's life.
It was the only thing that kept the young trainer from misery when the desire to play gripped him, or when he missed his manager, or both. He could no longer differentiate anymore between the two feelings; both were equally painful, and both were incurable. There was only one thing that could alleviate his symptoms.
On nights like this, when loneliness, bitterness and disappointment became one, when they accumulated into bile in the back of his throat threatening to suffocate him, there was only one thing he could do to keep from completely losing himself in his distress.
Misugi put on his shoes.
Grabbing his ball and going outside, another advantage of having his own room came to mind.
At least now I won't have to worry about waking anyone up when I sneak out at night to practice.
JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ JMHMJMHMJ
Author's note: Wow. That ended up being much darker (and longer!) than I planned. This is a sequel to "Phantom Manager Syndrome" but unlike that story, this fic is not a one-shot. Please let me know if it ever overbearing so I can tone it down. I know I'm focusing a lot on Misugi now but the reason (other than his being one of my favorites) is because I find his struggle is a great way to bring out the other characters' personalities. I just finished watching Shin Tsubasa, and finally found an English subbed version of Road to 2002(R22002) on youtube (the uploader's name is Informer, in case anyone is interested in watching too). It seems like R22002 is actually sort of a recap of the first season, and also includes the events of Shin Tsubasa. I skipped through the recap of the first season but am watching the remake of the Shin Tsubasa storyline. It's interesting to see the slight differences between the two. I hope the show will continue to inspire me to write more fics.