The Care Bears The Confidence Secret 1st Part Chapter 02
Hector wasn’t a bright kid in class or very popular at school, although he did not have problems with grades and had no difficulty making friends. Perhaps the biggest problem was that he could never have a friendship for a long time, since he and his father lived moving from home, and even from country. However, now they had been in Brazil for three years, and in that period he had established friendships with his classmates, especially after he became the captain of the FIFA soccer team of the school, after the physical education teacher realized that the kid had a great talent with the ball in the feet. He lived with his father, Calvin Kayson, in the interior of the state of São Paulo, in Santa Gertrudes. His mother had died when he was a baby, and his father then unfolded with a triple journey: father, mother and businessman, as he worked as a chemist in a ceramic industry in that city, a position that offered him a good standard of living for himself and for the son, who had dual citizenship, North American and Brazilian. And from what Hector knew, his grandfather had been born on the small and now uninhabited island of San Martin in the Caribbean, though his father did not like to talk about it. Precisely because he was the captain of the team, he had finally managed to find great friends with whom to relate, proving that the sport really surpasses barriers. And he was good at this sport and others, like baseball, tennis, and bowling, having learned all three while living in the United States. He had been captain for two years, but in the last few months things were not going well. Of the last five games, he had tied one, won another in the choke and lost the others. The last one, the previous week, by four to zero against his team... This was not very good for him, as his colleagues began to accuse him of being a bad leader to the group, and not knowing what to do in the difficult moments of the game. This saddened him greatly, especially since no one wanted to train during the week while he did not leave the captain's post, which caused problems for the school's sports teacher, who did not want to take Hector out of the job because he understood that it was not his fault. And another reason for his sadness was because the father, for more attention as he tried to give his son, could not be by his side on many occasions, making him more upset, depressed and in the mood to no see anyone else. Even though it was Saturday, the boy donned the school shirt to try to console himself. Alone in the backyard and seated on a low wall, his chin resting on his hands, he tried to forget what had happened. He had not noticed yet, but close to him in the shrubs of the garden, two figures watched him very well, hidden by the shadow and thinking of how to approach the young man. - What do you think, Confidence? - asked Champ - Shall we approach him calmly or get right to the point? - It's a pity Trueheart, Nobleheart, Braveheart, and Friend have not given us more information about him - the desert fox replied - That way we'd know better. Let's see in that first contact how will be his reaction to make a decision. Hector sighed as he remembered everything he had heard the day before at the school of his classmates, and a tear formed in his eyes. That's when he heard someone behind him asking, - Why all this sadness, Hector? With a leap and a scream, he stood up and turned, gaping at the sight of Champ and Confidence standing there, smiling amicably. - Who are you? - the kid asked after a moment in silence. - I'm Confidence Heart Fennec and he's Champ Bear, and we're... - The Care Bears! – exclaimed the boy in wonder. Many did not believe that bears actually existed, but the large number of apparitions that had been occurring in recent years in various parts of the world began to make the name of those beings known to humans, though only children and a few adults had seen them until that day, and no concrete evidence had yet been presented by science. The kid was one did not believe in, he just thought it was a publicity stunt by the producer who did the cartoon of the bears, his father's opinion. But it was one thing to see a likely appearance of the Care Bears in Rome, and another was to talk face to face with two of them. - Are you really for real? - Hector asked in astonishment. - Of course yes - said Champ - Why would not we be? - I do not know... You may be dressed up just to deceive me... Although you two seem very real. - What could we do to show you that we really are real? - Confidence asked. The boy thought for a moment and smiled wickedly, and walking up to Champ who was only a little lower than him, gave the bear a hug. The bear was puzzled by it, but not two seconds passed when he felt Hector begin to tickle his hairy ribs. With a leap and a laugh, the sportsman stepped away from the boy. - Hey! What do you think you're doing? - Champ asked, still laughing. - If you feel ticklish, it's because you're not wearing a costume, and you is real - the boy replied with a small smile - Wow! This is amazing! I never thought I'd see an Care Bears in my life. - So you believe us now? - asked Confidence, who without waiting for an answer, continued - That's great! - But what are you doing here? We're here to help you, Hector - the fennec said. - And how do you know my name? - We've been watching you for some time - explained the athlete bear - We know a lot about you. The boy's happiness vanished with these words spoken by the bear. - Have you looked at me? - he asked without emotion - Then you know how worthless I am. I can’t play football with my classmates at school. And to think that I called some of them friends... - That's not true, Hector - said Confidence Heart, approaching and putting his hand on the boy's shoulder - You play well, and they are your friends, yes. You are just going through a difficult phase, as we all do in our lives. - You just have to believe that you'll be able to win the next game, and train with a cool head, having fun playing and not having that as an obligation - Champ said. - After all, sports fan, it's more important to compete than win. - I'd rather win - Hector murmured gruffly, quickly taking Confidence's hand from his shoulder - I still do not understand why you're here and said you're going to help me. I do not need any help... I never needed it. I have learned to deal with loneliness and it will not be difficult for me to forget that I had friends here. - Of course you need help - the fennec remarked - You do not have to do everything yourself or to be alone. You have your friends, and they will not let you. They're also just hot-headed, so they'll see they're wrong. - If I can’t trust them, if they make fun of my face, if they complain about what I do even when I am correct, then they are not my friends. - What about us? Do you trust us? - asked Champ - Can we be your friends? - No! - it was Hector's harsh, direct response that left the bear and her friend lost and silent. - Why do not you want to be our friend? - Confidence asked after a few minutes. - If I'm going to have friends again, and they treat me like my old friends, I'd rather be alone - said the angry boy - I've never been able to have friends for long, they always leave me or I leave them, I've always turned myself alone. I do not need you or anyone else. And if it's to play bad football on the team and listen to bullshit, I'd rather do it alone here at home and with no one to fill me up. Champ and Confidence looked at each other, a little saddened by what they had just heard, for it had been something very rough. On the other hand, this showed them the mission with Hector would be harder than it seemed. The boy had his feelings badly hurt, and they would have to first win his sympathy before anything else. But the kid did not want to hear and say anything else, and quickly ran away from them and going to the other side of the garden, where there was the dumping room where his father's tools, his old toys and other trinkets were stored. Hector opened the door violently and sat down on an old stamped sofa that was there, and stared at the ceiling, while his mind rustling once more with everything that had happened at school. The pair of athletes arrived at the door, but did not enter, stood there watching the boy and his reactions. They were not willing to give up. It was Champ who came forward first, slowly, until he stood beside the boy, who rolled her eyes without patience when he realized the bear was there. - Are you still here? - Hector questioned more to himself than to them. - We will not leave here until you realize we do not want your bad - the bear replied - I know it must have been very difficult everything you've heard, and I know what you're feeling. But do not discount in me or Confidence, that we only want your good. The boy heard this and turned his head toward the bear, with a blush embarrassed on his face. - I'm sorry - he said - You're right, I'm being too rough. But I'm afraid that... - That you think you have friends, but when you need them, they turn against you - Confidence interrupted - I know, I have also gone through this, and it's not cool... - And it's not, even... Do you two really want to be my friends? Really? - Of course, sports fan! - Champ exclaimed happily - You will not regret having us as friends. Hector looked first at the bear and then to the fennec. He did not smile at all, but his more relaxed look gave them hope. After a little thought, the boy stood up and a faint smile hovered over his lips. - Okay, I'll take it. But I also want some time to think. If you two go to my room at 03 p.m., then we can keep talking. Is that okay for you? - Well ... It's settled then, we'll see you later in your room - agreed Champ with a nod, before the boy left the bear alone with her friend. - Looks like we got the first step - he said thoughtfully. - Not us, you - the fighter replied - After all, this is your mission, the suggestion was yours and I'm here just to help. But since it's no use staying here, how about knowing a little of the city? ***** - I think we're having a lot of work today in Brazil - said Love-a-Lot Bear as the cloud car neared the ground - I heard that Champ and Confidence are in a nearby town. - This is true. Fortunately, our missions involve helping humans who speak our language, or we could not talk - said Tenderheart - By the way, Friend Bear explained to you about our mission? - No, he just told me you already knew what the mission was, and you would tell me later. - I can’t blame him, after all it is almost impossible for anyone to explain a mission and have to endure the pranks of Hugs and Tugs with the star-o-cope - said the brown bear with a giggle for his girlfriend. Tenderheart and Love-a-Lot were a couple, and they did not hide it from anyone. Because of this Nobleheart always sent the two together to carry out caring missions, although Trueheart and Braveheart did not like it very much. - We're going to a place called Batovi, a small village in the interior of the state of São Paulo, Brazil - Tenderheart went on - It's really a small place, uninviting for visitors and for the population itself, any many parents are concerned that children do not have almost no activity to do after school. Meanwhile, there lives an elderly man who has a fine collection of train models, and this is his hobby. He spends several hours a day at the train station of the village watching the trains pass, and then reproduces them in his house. But he has no family, and would like his work not to be lost after he passed away, with other people learning his techniques. Our mission is... - I think I get it - Love-a-Lot said cheerfully, staring at his boyfriend - We're going to tell the kids that this old man owns these little trains and he'd like to teach them about this hobby. I hit? - More or less - said Tenderheart timidly - Really our job is to unite the two interests. We will not start with the children, but with the owner of the toys. - You mean we're going to deal first with the adult human? - exclaimed Love-a-Lot in surprise - That is always more difficult. At least the children listen to us, while adults are harder at what they do... Tenderheart did not answer, just thought deep down his girlfriend was right. But they were already arriving at the village where they would do their mission, and quickly searched for a place to stop the cloud car and hide. This was no problem, since the residence they sought was surrounded by high walls and had a large orchard. His owner's name was Ralph Millows, and he was 73 years old. Ralph was an North American by birth, and until he was 21 he lived in his home country. But when a promotion opportunity arose in the company where he had worked since was 17 years old, and since he had no family to stop him from leaving the United States, he did not hesitate to leave Salt Saint Marie and go to Mexico and then to Brazil, where he worked Up to the age of 62. When retiring, it decided to live in a quiet place, that somehow made him remember the surroundings of its native city in the time of childhood. That is why he chose the district of Batovi, since it was a place near the city of Rio Claro and had a station served by the Paulista trains. In fact, his hobby was precisely to build miniature trains. Like a good portion of the North Americans, Ralph was very fond of trains, being a well-known figure in the yard of the station, staying there for hours writing and photographing the compositions. So stubborn and persevering was he that the company's security guards had given up on forbidding him to photograph, and even helped him now, especially the stationmaster, who had become his acquaintance. More than photographing, the retired reproduced everything he saw in his model, built in two rooms of his farm. Since his wife had died a few years before, it was his amusement at home. He had a miniature empire, and his techniques allowed him to sell customized models, helping to keep his income, which came primarily from the social and private retirement he had. He always worked alone in that hobby, had only a few friends in the state capital, and even then they hardly spoke to each other. Neither of his neighbors even suspected what that old foreigner was doing at home, and why he was so long at the railway station photographing and filming trains, something very unusual for Brazilians in general. And from this loneliness, Ralph had begun to think in the last days about what would be his model, his collection of miniatures, and even the knowledge he acquired building all that, when he simply passed away. It was not in his interest to see it all disappear, for knew he could teach his skills to the local children and to the adults as well, giving a fun pastime to all. The only problem was that he did not know who he could talk to in order to help him in that attempt, and that made him very sad. And that was what he thought for the umpteenth time, sitting in his comfy armchair on the porch of his house, his gaze lost on the horizon, his glasses raised to his forehead, his hands callused on his chest, and a bitter smile on his lips. He was so lost in thought that he did not even notice Tenderheart and Love-a-Lot approaching. - Hello, how are you? - asked the first. Jumping from the chair, Ralph turned with a startled look, and upon seeing the two bears there, his face assumed a dumbfounded air, while his glasses slipped over his eyes. - I knew I should not have eaten mango at breakfast - he said to himself as he leaned back in his chair - Now I see things... - That's not it, Mr. Ralph - Love-a-Lot said with a smile. - To top it off, you know my name... I do think I no should have eaten cheese and guava too. It could only give an indigestion. - It's nothing to do with what you ate or not, we're here for real, Mr. Ralph - Tenderheart said. The old man turned back to the bear couple and shrugged. - Okay, you're here, I'm not going to go against my hallucinations, it may make my clinical condition worse - he said - Well, I've been told that after the age of 70 we start getting crazy. And who are you two then? - We are Care Bears - they said, with a big smile on their lips, showing happiness. - And I'm Dr. Spot, dear ones - the old man said in a joking tone, putting his hand on Tenderheart's shoulder. But when he felt that he was really touching a solid body with hair, muscles and skin, instead of just air if it were a mirage, his eyes widened, and he practically jumped out of his chair again, trembling all over in fear. - Jesus Christ! - he shouted, taking two steps back - You guys are real! - Of course we are - said Love-a-Lot - Many people think we only exist in cartoons, but we're as real as you. And we're here to help you. - Help out? As? In what? It's because? - To realize his dream that the children of the community can enjoy with you his hobby and his work, causing that he does not get lost with the time. Startled, Ralph frowned at this, and stepped closer. - How do you know that? I've never said anything to anyone... - We know many things about people's hearts and desires - Tenderheart explained - And yours is a fair wish. - I'm glad to hear that - the old man confessed in amazement - But how can you two help me? - You can rest assured that we already know what to do. All we need is for you to join us to talk, the three of us together, to someone who cares about the same subject as you and certainly will want to help you. - You know both of them, even though you're not their best friend - Love-a-Lot revealed maliciously - Even so, you see each other every day, and spend pleasant hours talking while you photograph your trains. The old foreigner stared at the two new friends with a confused expression, wondering who the bears were referring to when his face suddenly brightened. - But of course, Andre and Carlos… - he said to himself in amazement - How did I not think of them before? André Silva was great-grandson of railway worker, the fourth generation working in the Paulista Railway, the chief of the Batovi Passenger station, or Batovi Velha. And his son Carlos Augusto Silva, 9, was a pleasant, fun and curious young man, who already demonstrated that he would be the fifth generation in that company, because he loved the trains as his father loved them. In fact, Ralph and they saw each other several times, but they were not great friends, and the old man had never told him about his hobby for them. - How come I never thought of them before? - the old man repeated to himself, before he ran off toward the gate of his small farm, excited as a young man of twenty, and take the road to the train station. Already Tenderheart and Love-a-Lot stood there for a moment, staring in surprise at the old man's reaction, before they looked at each other and began to laugh at it all. - And now Tenderheart? - asked the bear to her boyfriend - Should we go after him or let him do it alone? - If we do not accompany him, it will be as if we have abandoned our mission - replied the brown bear with a smile - Not to mention that Carlos is at school, and we intend to speak to him first. So we'd better go soon! And the two of them also started to run, behind the retired, who was already far along the way, in his youthful animation that surprised everyone who found him... ***** It wasn’t at all comfortable traveling in a 1970 Toyota pickup truck on bumpy roads and tracks, but there was no other way to get to the excavations that those three brothers were driving in the northwestern part of the country. And it was necessary to make such a trip, for in that place there could be the answers they needed for themselves to know their stories. Jacob was silent most of the time, reading a book, while Anna and Thompson spoke endlessly, though he had to worry about the bumpy road ahead. And soon they saw the excavation site. Usually it was always like this. Jacob, the older brother, did not like to talk even with his family, seeming to live in a world of his own and mysterious. Anna, the middle sister, and Thompson, the youngest, were great friends, they liked to talk to each other, Anna and Thompson were great friends, they liked to talk to each other, after all his professions somehow were intertwined, she as a biologist and he as a historian. But there was something in common between the three, which was that old familiar mystery they had been trying to decipher for a decade: what had their feudal ancestors hidden so well and who will help them hide whatever it was? For the last few years the three brothers have been scouring all of England and Europe for answers to this question, and the little they knew so far was that it should be a very important and valuable secret hidden by their Gresgon ancestors. Now the family was called Timberley because of legal issues at the turn of the 20th century, but the secret was still valid. The only thing they knew was that the old Gresgon allies somehow looked super humans of so smarts, which made the mystery much more interesting. Their discoveries, however, finally led them to Scotland, and they were paying for the excavations near the port of Iverness, which lies north of that country. There they hoped to find, if not the answer to everything, at least an indication of where she would be. And the night before, finally there came a news that had made the three take that trip. No sooner had the car parked than a gray-haired man approached the vehicle, while the three brothers descended. - It seems the indications were right, sirs - he said respectfully - There are remnants of an unknown port here, dating from the Vikings to the late 15th century. - That's great, Norman - Anna said with a leap of joy - And what else did you find? - A steel box, equal to that hidden in the basement of the your cottage. - And what's in it? - Thompson asked. - We do not know, I waited for you to come and open it. But the inscription that adorns the cover shows that he is from those centuries, and perhaps keeps that secret that you both seek to unravel. Come with me, my friends! In Norman's tent, there was actually a small box sealed with a padlock, and supposed to date back to at least 1450. The rust had eaten all the metal there was, and the wood was rotten after of years, but its contents were still well guarded. The three brothers, along with the assistant, introduced a crowbar into the lock, and within a few seconds it broke. Anna opened the chest immediately, all of them amazed at what they saw. - Damn it!!! - Jacob yelled nervously, pulling away. The biologist bent down and removed one of the only two things in there: a leaden weight, heart-shaped and painted red, with some drawings that looked like a map. The other thing was an old parchment, yellowed and hardened by the years, which Thompson took gently in his hands. - One more - he said sadly - One more of these for the collection. And it took them so many years to decipher all the others to find this... - But this one is different - Anna countered as she gazed intently at the weight - The map here is more detailed, there are some inscriptions on the navigation, and shows the tracing of a five-pointed star with a central heart. And the parchment? - Norman; Give me those tweezers - said the historian, beginning to open the paper carefully - Hey! This is here in English, not in Latin like the others! At this statement, the others jumped on Thompson with enthusiasm, even Jacob who rarely showed emotion. With some difficulty in reading because of the holes in the paper and the paint that had worn away, the younger brother said what was written there:
If you've arrived here It means the rest have already found But that is not what you are looking for. Then pay attention to the reading. Follow this map scratched For our world is not flattened And at the end of it will find A new world that you will conquer.
- Very poetic, as always - said Jacob maliciously - I've had enough of these charades! Maybe at the end of it all there's a chest full of Shakespeare or Plato's verses, or any shit. I do not even know why I still waste my time on this... - Then go home and let us take care of it - Anna said, already tired of her brother's temper. - Calm down, please, there's no point arguing - Thompson said gently - We've solved a lot of other riddles, we can sort this one out too. - And if you'll permit me to say, there were worse, and this one is not difficult - Norman pondered as he scanned the text - What does the verse say? "If you came here, that means the rest have already found it." It is an allusion to other weights. - "But that's not what you're looking for, so pay attention to reading," this does not even need explanation - said the girl, a little more calmly - "Follow this map scratched ", it means that it really is a map and if we follow it, we will certainly have an answer. - Yeah, but what is this location the map is showing? - asked the naturalist angrily. - Certainly the answer is in the last three verses - said the historian - "For our world is not flattened, and at the end of it you will find, a new world that you will conquer." It remains only to decipher this information... - Nothing that a little research does not solve - resumed the assistant, looking thoughtful - I believe until I know what these verses mean. If you let us, we better go back to Edinburgh, where I can confirm my suspicions. They all looked at each other in silence, then agreed with the old servant, who had been at his service for so many years, boarding the four of them in the jeep and heading for the Scottish capital. Norman was very enthusiastic, after all, this riddle had not been so difficult to solve, which left him in a good mood. But this was not the case with her bosses. Even though Anna and Thompson still trusted that their field assistant would help them solve that puzzle, the disappointment they had not found something more concrete about the family secret was too great, and Jacob's complaints were even more tiring. So, in silence, between hope and discouragement, the four of them went to the hotel where they were staying, to see what would happen in the next days and define their lives... ***** It was 03 P.M. Champ and Confidence had spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon of that day knowing the city, but so as not to draw too much attention. After all, many were still afraid of the Care Bears, and many more did not believe in their existence. And since Grumpy and Good Luck were attacked on a mission in Europe, the order was that everyone should avoid being seen by the adults, who were harder to deal with. Now it was time for the two athletes to meet again the boy who was the reason for his mission, and that would not be difficult. Although they were not sure where Hector's room was, there was a single window open throughout the house, with curtains drawn down in the wind, revealing a bookcase with books and toys. Champ reached the edge of the sill and looked inside, and Confidence soon did the same, both making sure it was Hector's room, seeing the boy lying on the floor and reading a comic book. He had changed his shirt, but the shorts were still the same as that morning. Besides, he was barefoot, his shoes and socks thrown in a corner of the room, because the carpeted floor would invite him to stay that way. - Hey! Sports fan! - Champ called in his lively way. Hector looked quickly at the window, his face showing great contentment at the sight of the bear and the fennec there. - I thought you two were going to give up - he said, sitting down. - It's not so easy to get rid of us - Confidence said as he jumped out the window with the sportsman - A Care Bear or Care Bear Cousin never leaves an incomplete mission. At that moment a small smile appeared on the lips of the boy, who stared at the girl with a sly look. - Well, that does not matter now. And since you are here, we can begin. Let me close the window so nobody will bother us... And saying that, he walked to the window and closed the shutters, locking them inside. Confidence and Champ looked at each other in surprise, not knowing exactly what would happen. - What are you doing anyway? - asked the bear. - Just making sure no one comes to bother us. - Bothering what? - the fennec questionned, immediately putting himself in a defensive position of struggle - I do not like this, what are you thinking? - Well, you need not worry that nothing bad will happen to you two. We're just gonna have some fun. But first, I need a volunteer. - Volunteer for what? - asked Champ with a scowl. The two athletes looked at each other uncertainly about what to do. Never before have they found themselves in a situation like this, not knowing what would happen and what was going through the mind of the boy they went to help. - You'll find out soon enough - Hector replied with a grin, rubbing his hands - But I swear I will not do any harm to either of you. I just want somebody to help me with this game. - All right, whatever - Champ said, taking the initiative, both for being a gentleman and for being his most important mission - But what are you going to do, anyway? - I want you to close your eyes and count to ten, and in the end you will have a surprise - said the boy, but giving a mischievous wink to Confidence. Without much choice, the bear heaved a deep sigh and closed his eyes, beginning to count and without even suspecting that Hector slowly walked up to stand behind him, still smirking, and waiting for the count to end. - Seven, eight, nine, ten! - said Champ, opening his eyes - So what is the surprise that you... Hey! - The surprise is this: tickle! - shouted the boy with joy, just as he began to tickle the belly and underarms of the bear. The sportsman gave a cry of surprise and a jump with that feeling, while with his hands tried to protect his torso from the boy's nimble fingers. But the kid seemed to know very well what he was doing, and with each attempt that Champ made to prevent the tickles, the young changed his place of action, causing the bear to be laugh in a good tone. Seeing this, Confidence was undecided whether she should help his friend or if that was just a game, getting in a defensive position and ready to attack if necessary. On the other hand, she repudiated hurting a boy as young as nine, for that was not why she had learned karate. But what was happening did not seem to be a bad thing, just a game from Hector. The boy continued to nudge the bear's armpits and trunk, which tried to get rid of the kid's hands, who pushed Champ causing the sportsman lose his balance and fall on his belly. The boy wasted no time, and sitting on the athlete's legs, began tickling his feet. Sensing the boy's hands rubbing his soles, Champ shrieked and began to laugh, since despite being barefoot practically all the time, his feet were still very soft and tender, especially in the heart-shaped cushions, one on each finger Of the foot and one in the middle of the sole. And it was there that the boy concentrated the tickles even more. The bear now shrieked with laughter, and he clapped his fists on the ground, as if asking Hector to stop. The boy, on the other hand, knew that Champ was not accustomed to that feeling, and decided that he would not abuse the new friend's fun much more, so as not to frighten him. Yeah, because he was having fun. Even Confidence, who had been reticent, now realized that his companion on the mission was having a good time with that, and that Hector was smiling with happiness. It made her relax a bit, but still deep down her fighting instincts was on the surface. At last the young man stopped tickling the soles of Champ's feet and jumped off the bear, which lay stretched out on the floor, catching his breath. - Everything is fine with you? - asked the boy, smiling and looking at the sportsman with a little concern. - Yes... I'm fine - Champ gasped - It's the first time I've been a "victim" of a tickling attack by someone I've come to help. - Sorry about that, but I could not resist. And you like it? - Well... I think so... - So I'm beginning to believe that you two really want to become my friends, after all only friends like to game like that. At least my old friends liked... For a second the boy was silent, looking sad, before smiling again, turning maliciously to Confidence, who watched everything. - Now it's your turn, little fox. But contrary to what he or even Champ could imagine, the Care Bear Cousin was not about to look as sweet and friendly as she looked, and immediately turned into the professional karate fighter, putting himself on guard. - I think better you don't going to get close to me, or I'm going to end up hurting you, even if you do not want to - she said earnestly, frowning - And I'm not a little fox, my name is Confidence, and I'm a fennec, remember. - Of course I remember your name, but why would you or Champ hurt me? - Hector questioned with a surprised smile in front of that reaction - After all, you are Care Bears, you don't hurt nobody, besides being very cuddly and sensitive... - Hey! - shouted the sportsman as if offended, but with a smile on his face - What's this cuddly story? The boy laughed at that friendly reaction from Champ, who was much more adept at dealing with humans than Confidence. After all, the fighter was still in position to attack, looking tense at the boy. - Come on, Confidence, nothing bad will happen to you. - I'm telling you, boy, you'd better not come near - she said with tone serious, increasingly irritated - I don't want to hurt you, but if I have to... - That way you're not helping, Confidence Heart - Champ said seriously as he got up and stood beside Hector - It's not cool that you, a martial arts master, get ready to attack a kid who does not want to hurt you. Not to mention that you can’t react like this every time a child wants to play with you. The girl lowered her guard a little, with something of sadness and shame in her bright green eyes. For a few moments she was silent, wondering what she was doing. - You're right - she finally said in a sad voice - But my body is my weapon, I've trained all my life to fight off blows and attacks from enemies, I'm not used to being touched by anyone just for fun, even if it's only a nine-year-old boy who just wants to tickle me. - You do not trust me then? - Hector asked, upset. This question seemed to leave the fennec confused and ashamed. - I trust you - she confessed after a few moments - But I... Well... I've never done this before... I... I mean... I've never toyed with tickle before. - Why do not you try it? For everything there is a first time in life, and playing with tickles is not a bad thing. Slowly Confidence was lowering his guard, though his eyes still showed concern and fear of what might occur. She knew she needed to learn to control her reactions so as not to assault a human child in the middle of a mission, otherwise she would lose the title of Care Bear Cousin she had won. She had her reasons for not wanting that to happen, and no one needed to know what those reasons were. Not to mention that his mission there was only to assist Champ and see how he did in his last assisted caring mission, and it was not something worthy for her to threaten a child on such an important occasion. - Okay - she finally agreed, even with a little fear - You can tickle me, but I apologize right away if anything happens... Hector jumped for joy at this, while Champ sat on the boy's bed with a smile on his lips. Confidence took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and began counting slowly. - One... Two... Three... Four... Hey! - she yelled as she felt the boy start tickling his ribs. - I did not say I'd expect you to count to ten - the boy replied slyly, tickling her tightly. Soon she began to laugh softly with that feeling so new and unexpected, that made her almost lose the line. Less than ten seconds later, the fennec began to laugh, trying to grab the boy's wrists and prevent him from tickling. Contrary to what Confidence herself expected, she did not use any karate punch to defend herself from tickling. It was as Hector had said, she was relaxed, her guard totally low. And the worst: she was enjoying that sensation, since never before had someone touched her body like that. That was when, to his surprise, Champ jumped out of bed and ran to her feet, grabbing them and beginning to tickle them as well. - Hahaha! Hehehehey! Thahahahat's nohohohot fahahahair! Twohohoho agahahahainst onehehehe! Hahaha! - No one told me about that, did you Hector? - the bear teased maliciously looking at the boy, who agreed with a blink of an eye. For a good few minutes the two boys tickled the young woman, who was laughing non-stop, starting to get soft with it such. It was when a noise caught the boy's attention, causing him to stop tickling fennec's body who took advantage of that situation to escape the two, going to stop on the other side of the room, panting, and with a smile on his face, not believing what had happened and that she had managed to control her martial abilities. Champ also got up and smiled, looking at her friend and the boy. Only then did the bear and the fennec hear the whistle of a train in the distance. It could not be different, after all there was a railroad passing through that city. But the trains of the Paulista were punctual, to the point that all people set the clocks based on them. It was 04 p.m. and Hector knew, because of the train, that it was already close to his father's schedule arrive. - I hope you two can stay to meet him - the boy said merrily, after explaining everything to his new friends - I'm sure he'll like my new friends. - Unfortunately we can’t stay, because it's late and we can't travel in the dark - Champ said in a rueful tone - Confidence and I should go back to the Kingdom of Caring, but we can come here tomorrow and meet your father. - It will be easier for us, since we want to talk to him too - Confidence said - Not to mention that tomorrow is Sunday. Okay for you? - All right - Hector agreed, opening the window and letting the sports couple leave, shaking hands - I'll see you two tomorrow morning. And after they had said good-bye to the boy, leaving him in his room with the enthusiasm of everything that had happened that day, Champ brought up with his "Stare" the same car that had brought them before, and the two set off through the skies back home, he animated by the course of the mission, and she was happy to have managed to control her fighter instincts for the first time in life in a new situation. ***** Ralph ran to the station as fast as their legs could. He needed to find Andre, the chief of the place, and talk to him, since the employee's shift ended at 05 p.m., and by the whistle of Paulista's train, the old man knew that there were already 04:50 p.m. He was so anxious he did not even notice Love-a-Lot and Tenderheart chasing after him. Only when he was near the building did the two bears catch up with him. - Ralph! Stop it! - said the pink bear, standing before the retiree. The old man was coming so fast that he even skidded over his shoes, almost falling on Love-a-Lot if Tenderheart did not balance him. - If I need to talk to Andre, I need to run too - he explained - He'll be leave of work in less than ten minutes. - Calm! You do not have to rush to talk to him, - said the brown bear with a wink - Besides, before you talk to André, it's good to talk to Carlos. After all, every hobby starts with a child, do not you think? - Well, that's true. I've heard this before, when I started liking trains still in the United States. - That's right! - Love-a-Lot exclaimed cheerfully, clapping his hands - Let's all talk to Carlos tomorrow." - Surely he will hear us three much better than if it were just you, and the same goes for his father - continued the brown bear - Remember your own reaction when you saw us, and all adults always end up having that reaction. - Thinking from this side, you two are right - agreed the old man after a moment's thought - Well, when will we do that? - I think tomorrow morning will be the best time, since it will be Sunday. Can it be like this? Great! So see you at 08 A.M. And shaking hands of the excellent old man, who went to sit in the station square to catch his breath and think of everything that had happened, the little pair went to where he had left the cloud car, near Ralph's house, and also departed back to home. They both looked once more at that small village, just as a train of passengers passed fast by the station. Then they thought no more, and they flew to the Kingdom of Caring. ***** The train that had served the B & H's international board for the inauguration of FERRONORTE was now returning to São Paulo, with Fred in the hallway of one of the sleepy cars. The assistant once again grumbled about life and about everything that had gone wrong that day. A few minutes earlier, the waiter dropped a cup of coffee over it, and before that he still had to go over a whole report because some information was exchanged. Not to mention that his cell phone was not working. So, to distract himself, he crouched beside the window of the car, and saw the landscape pass, while the day was ending. When he passed the village of Batovi, in Rio Claro, where they crossed the five o'clock train, something strange happened, as he saw through the window a kind of car-shaped cloud, with two beings inside it, taking off from the middle of the trees. - What?!? - he exclaimed to himself as he saw it, wiping his eyes and thinking he saw aliens, but when he turned back to the window, there was nothing left. Convinced that this was because of tiredness and bad mood, he shook his head, went into his cabin and decided to sleep, saying nothing to anyone so they would not think he was going crazier than he already seemed. ***** Braveheart Lion gave a deep sigh of relief when he saw that the Caringmeter indicated that everything was going well. Although the Care Bear Family had had much more hectic days before, surely he and Tenderheart were always very worried when there were more than six missions at once, because this could indicate more serious problems or even for the safety of the friends outside. But luckily everything was under control, and the lion finally smiled proudly knowing that everyone was doing a good job. That's when he noticed Shimmeringstar Bear in guard at the Caring Observatory, and was surprised by his friend's presence there. Knowing the bear well, the feline knew he hated that task, and that it was for Wish Bear, Surprise Bear and Love-a-lot Bear to be there at that moment. Feeling curious and seeing that the friend did not seem to be too busy, he decided to go and talk to the swordsman, who yawned with sleep. - Sleeping on duty, Shimmers? - Braveheart asked with a giggle - Or is this the result of a sleepless night? - Just bored - said the beige bear with a sigh - You know I do not like being in guard at the Caring Observatory. Either you get bored or you run the risk of having a stressful day, and I much prefer being on missions to stay here and do "bureaucratic work". - I know all about it, and deep down I do not criticize you. Only Tenderheart likes to spend all day organizing paperwork and setting up guard to organize missions. I'd rather go out on the field, help out those who need help, fill out my end-of-day report, and go to bed. And I know you like it too. So tell me what you're doing here? Where are Wish Bear and the other girls? - They went out on caring missions, and I offered to stay on guard until they returned," Shimmers explained, putting the star-o-copter on the tripod and sitting on a bench - Also, I know how much Wish is jealous of the star-o-cope, and she trusts only a few bears and cousins to handle it. - You will agree that Playful Heart and Funshine are not the best people to take care of the equipment - Braveheart said with another giggle, sitting down beside his friend - And who else is in mission today? - Friend and Secret are helping a boy make friends, Playful is helping a girl develop a circus number for the school theater, while Surprise and Harmony are helping the children of a choir to improve their timing. Wish is teaching to a boy that he can’t have everything he wants, while Amigo Bear and Cozy Heart are in Iceland explaining to two brothers because their father does not want them to go fishing on the ice. And as our polyglot friend is already busy, and Tenderheart is the only other carebear who speaks a little Portuguese, he and Love-a-lot went to Brazil to help an old man and a boy to be friends, while Champ and Confidence are also in Brazil helping another boy with problems in his school team. In short, a busy day, but not stressful. - At least that... And speaking of Confidence, what do you think of her? Shimmers looked curiously at his friend since the cat had used a low, excited tone to ask such a question. - Well, I'm already married to Wish... And I think that fennec is not your type - the bear replied after a few seconds of silence. - No, no, I'm not talking about that - said the lion, raising his hands and laughing - I want to know what you think of Confidence's personality. After all, she has lived with us for several months and still acts strangely... - I do not see anything strange in her, just someone who is adjusting to a new routine. Why do you think this is strange? - For many reasons! She has practically no friends, she hardly ever attends Family parties, she has not yet learned to use the Stare, nor to drive, and has only completed her initial course on our rules and on caring missions. Besides, she stays all day in the gym, and does not talk to anyone and hardly talks about her past. - Not all people are open to social relationships - the bear pondered with a faint smile - And I think that instead of us judging how Confidence acts, we should be concerned about how to make her feel more welcomed by all. And I can say this more than any other Bear Care or Bear Cousin Care. For a few seconds, Braveheart stood silently staring thoughtfully at his friend, and remembering how difficult it had been for Shimmers to feel integrated with Care Bear Family when he came to the group, especially since at the time he was a human and practically an enemy. In addition, he also remembered his old friend Impulsive Heart and everything that had occurred to him to try to integrate in the Family. - It is certainly not my intention to judge Confidence or to interfere with your integration with us - the lion said, his head bowed - I have lost a friend because of this, and we almost lost you and Nobleheart for the same reason. You're right; we'd better try to help that fennec feel like one of us than just criticize the way she acts. The bear grinned and gave Braveheart a friendly wink, which also smiled in response. - That's it, my friend - the swordsman said calmly, getting up and picking up the star-o-cope again - Tonight we'll talk to Tenderheart about it. In the meantime, you want to stay here and help me take care of the Caringmeter? - Of course yes! - said the feline happily - I may also not enjoy guarding, but it certainly gets more fun and time goes by faster when there is someone to talk to.