I have no memory of my parents. Only stray, vague flashes come to mind. As if I was reading pages of different books, they made no sense, but rose a warm sensation in my chest.
I started playing soccer to feel closer to the father I lost. I figured if I kicked the ball, I would somehow understand what he was thinking while skimming through that old soccer magazine, the only memento he left--after years, I wonder if Dad had a passion for the sport in the first place. Nevertheless, as if the ball was our connection, I kicked and kicked day and night by myself. It was both my stress reliever and hobby, my little secret.
Until it wasn't a secret anymore. Their eyes were on me, and I was praised for my talent.
I kept playing to please those that harbored high expectations from me, especially my sister. There wasn't much to do in the orphanage, and kicking the ball made time move faster and my mind drift off, sharp the senses and adrenaline flow in my veins. Fighting Haruna's bullies was easier since then.
I kicked the ball without a worry of the future.
When a man wearing sunglasses came and requested a match between the other kids, my mind whispered something might start and a bead of cold sweat ran on my back. I was as at a loss like the rest. The reason he appeared at our orphanage was beyond me but when the chance of playing soccer presented, I played with my all, Haruna cheering not so far from the improvised field.
After the match, I was singled out from the group and was told I had what the man in sunglasses was looking for. The exact words buried after more than half a decade of memories.
The deal was, if I chose to, I would be adopted by a family called Kidou, no siblings, and I could play soccer as much as I want. And when I had the age, I would go to the middle school the dark-clothed man owned and become they best player in the world.
While I was thinking over, balancing the pros and cons and searching to refuse--not that I wanted to, the opportunity was as once in a lifetime, I knew, but just to be careful--a young couple visited and took a liking to Haruna. I was overcome with rage and confusion. We weren't animals in a pound, where people can come and take us whenever they want.
As if reading my thoughts, the couple revealed their concern of separating us, because of reasons that were beyond my very young self, only one will leave. I told Haruna she should go with them. They were kind. I would go to the Kidou's and she to the Otonashi's and we would meet again. With my biggest worry of leaving Haruna alone, I could train soccer without shame.
I learned the man with sunglasses was called Kageyama. He was clear about the trials I would face and that I wasn't allowed to fail. Repeating the words over and over on the way to the Kidou household, I hugged the soccer ball tight and cried. Aware it was the last time I could display weakness.
Kageyama-san's training was demanding. If I didn't have enough conviction, I found it there. I absorbed his teachings, each letter committed to memory. I was convinced he wanted to make of me the best, and everything he did--long hours of coaching, incomprehensible orders as I laid on the ground, unable to muscle, sure if I closed my eyes I wouldn't wake up--were for a reason. I got up as soon as I fell, swallowing tears and cleaning the sweat off my forehead. Absolute victory, power, analysis, hide emotions, poker face, those were the mantras I got from him.
Adding to my responsibilities as a Kidou, first place academics were less than obligation but a requirement. Every day was a trial to reach perfection.
Soon, I forgot the reason I was kicking the ball in the first place. The ambition to be and remain at the top became my goal, and Kageyama was my guide, the god--the guide to the victory to fulfill my duty--in a metaphorical sense, as the definition falls short.
Gazing at Kageyama-san's unyielding posture, I thought hearing words of encouragement that may pass as orders. Over and over I stood up, cleaned my forehead and kicked the ball. For the one that bet on me.
I adored Kageyama as the man who gave me the chance to play against strong opponents. As time passed, unable to notice, like sipping a nice cup of tea, I couldn't call that sensation in my chest respect or admiration anymore. I enjoyed training under him too much. With a word, the surroundings seemed a little brighter, a clever trick my brain played, but my chest was filled with the increasing beating of my heart. Instead of seeing him as a master, he was something closer to me, and the only one whom I could confide. It was the first time I wanted to ask him why did I have to be a Kidou, not a Kageyama. If it was he who wanted me why was our distance so great?
Embarrassing. The thought was so embarrassing. It took one or two years to learn how to hide that feeling. On the other hand, I never forgot about Haruna. Controlling my facial muscles, I regulated my thought process, so as to not let those worries show.
That was my life with Kageyama until he became the Commander. It sounded odd, like being called Kidou shortly after the adoption papers were signed. But soon the word was engrained in my mind that I was able to forget his real name from time to time.
The thought of standing by his side wasn't very appealing. As long as I was to execute his order as he expected me too... it was all I wished. I would lead Teikoku to the top, no matter what it takes. Even if I'm hated or criticized, I cannot waver.
Even as of know, seven years after I met him, I reminisce about the past. A somewhat lonely, but yet dear moments, the sweat down my forehead, his orders, the ground and a hint of a smile. Will I ever be able to repay for his kindness? Maybe it's impossible, even if Teikoku remains at the top during my time, or if I take over his seat when he passes away and take over his will. But it's a debt that time cannot wash away, a delusion of mine as I catch possibilities that fly in my mind, only to let them go for one reason or another, to justify this naïve feeling I don't know whether to call devotion or puppy love.
Also found in Scrapshots - An Inazuma Eleven One-shot Collection