The Care Bears
The Confidence Secret
Confidence continued to train karate on her own after Champ had run after Cheer. In the background the female fennec wondered what had happened between the two bears, and whether the reaction of the vain young woman had been legitimate. After all, it was just a kiss on the forehead, a thank-you from the sportsman for what her friend had just done. In his view, it was natural for a couple of friends, with similar tastes, to show affection for each other in difficult times.
And the sports bear really knew when to thank for the help, unlike Love Heart. The swordsman magician would never admit to being aided by his girlfriend, simply because he considered her too fragile and because he wanted to act like a true gentleman. But Champ was different, he had never considered Confidence just a defenseless young maiden, and he was not ashamed to confess that he needed his help to get out of a bad situation. That was what made it even more beautiful and attractive to the fighting fox...
Thinking on these things, Confidence continued his training, until he heard the sound of footsteps approaching the hallway of the men's locker rooms, and as she looked that way, he saw Shimmeringstar Bear approaching quickly, clad in a karate kimono, and heading for the mat side, performing a warm up of the muscles before beginning a stroke training sequence.
It was not a coincidence that the swordsman was there. He knew that Champ and Confidence would be training in the gym at that time, and he'd already been prepared to train with them and try to find out something. When he saw that the sportsman was not there, Shimmers realized that it was his chance to act, and so he went to train in a separate place, using his best strokes to get the fennec's attention on him.
Actually the fighter, after a few minutes, stopped her training and watched in silence the swordsman's movements. She knew that Shimmers fighting karate, but she had never had a chance to watch him train or fight until that day, so she was very curious about the style and techniques of the newcomer. When the bear jumped in the air with both legs outstretched, as if it were striking an opponent's chest, Confidence realized that she had a true opponent.
- That's a pretty good blow - she said with a small smile - I've used him in some quarrels, and at least once assured me the victory of a competition.
- The key is to hit the opponent's chest and shoulder before he can make a block - Shimmers said, still training and not looking at the fennec - In addition, it is a risky blow, since the opponent can step aside and make you pass without hitting him. But you should already know this, and you certainly use your techniques to leverage your punches and speed to compensate for your short stature.
- As if you're a lot taller than me... But the surprise factor helps a lot too, since opponents never know what kind of strike I'll get, since I never use a scheduled sequence.
- Yes, I have already realized that you use various martial arts techniques and even ballet in your struggle to confuse your adversary - said the bear, stopping his training and staring at the fox maliciously - And if all else fails, nothing that a little magic does not help boost leaps and blows, does not it?
- Oh... Well... You can say it better than I do, after all you have magical powers - Confidence hesitated in response - But it certainly is not a lawful resource in a sporting competition.
- And it is not, our special powers should only be used in real combat situations. But you know that too, and I'm sure that, to be honest, you've never used your magic in the wind during competitions.
For a few seconds, Confidence was silent, gaping, looking confused and frightened at Shimmers, who just laughed softly.
- C'mon, Confidence Heart Fennec, do you think I did not realize you also possessed magical powers? - the bear asked amiably - Since that meeting you was presented to the Care Bear Family I felt my magic react with yours, and I realized that you also control the elements.
The female fennec lowered her head in embarrassment, with a worried look.
- I've realized that it's no use trying to deny - she murmured softly - I just did not want anyone else to know that right away in my presentation. And as no one asked, I thought it best to keep secret as much as I could...
- And you've been doing well all this time - Shimmers said with a smile - No wonder everyone's talking about Confidence's big secret, which she does not share with anyone. But deep down I think it's not just about having magical powers, otherwise you would have revealed it after realizing that Aqua Bear, Sky-Heart Bear, Lonesomeheart and I also have. There is something more...
- Well, I do not think I have to give her any satisfaction - said the fighter seriously - Especially because I'm not going to gain anything from that.
- Then we'll do it in the form of a fight. If I win you in a karate fight, you will have to answer my questions, but if you win then you can ask me what you want too. What do you think?
That proposal made Confidence relax her features, getting thoughtful. It was practically impossible for that bear to beat her in a first fight, since he did not know all her tricks, not to mention the fact that she loved to compete when challenged in a karate fight.
- Hmm... All right, you convinced me! - she agreed with a wry grin - The loser will be the first to fall three times. C'mon!
The two fighters positioned themselves face to face and, before beginning, they performed the ritual of greeting each other on the mat. Only then did they stand in combat position and began to move, each one studying what the opponent planned to do. Suddenly, Confidence kicked Shimmers' knee, but the bear did not fall. Instead, he took advantage of the movement to punch the fennec's shoulder, making her stagger away.
It had been a blow that the fighting fox did not foresee, but she was not shaken and quickly resumed her combat position, waiting for the best moment to strike. It was when the swordsman appeared to be kicking her in the face, and she instinctively jumped to the side to avoid the blow, but Shimmers shifted the direction of his attack and hit her in the legs as she jumped, causing her to lose her balance and dropped her chin on the floor.
- One to zero! - he said with a mischievous look.
Confidence growled as she got up. It was not so easy when she waited, but she was not going to give up. She soon resumed the fighting position, and after a few moments tried to punch the bear again, but he swerved again and grabbed her by the elbow, twisting her arm counterclockwise and forcing her to fall knees on the floor, with a mixture of pain and surprise.
- Two to zero! - said the bear again.
- Hey! That's not fair! - she said, standing up - This is a judo stroke!
- Of course it's fair, because you're also using tactics from other fights.
The fennec rolled her eyes, annoyed, but she could not really complain about it, since she always mixed the styles of different fights in her karate. With a sigh of resignation, she stepped back into combat. For a few seconds none of the fighters attempted any blows, until Shimmers took the initiative and tried to punch the fox's belly, but she was quicker and shied away from the blow, taking the opportunity to give a strong elbow on the bear's back and causing him to drop to his knees on the floor.
- Two to one! - she joked, certain that she would be able to tie and win the dispute.
The swordsman said nothing, just got up and stood in combat position, waiting for the best moment to act. It was when Confidence tried to apply the same blow he had trained a few minutes earlier, jumping in the air with both legs stretched out to reach Shimmers' chest. But he just jumped back and made the female fennec fly by, falling to the ground.
- I have won! - he shouted with enthusiasm and a little sarcasm.
For a moment, Confidence sat on the floor, open-mouthed, just staring at the bear, unable to believe she'd made a beginner's mistake. Standing up, she greeted the winner silently and in the traditional manner, bending over, unable to hide a look of concern.
- You really fought really well... - she finally said in a low voice - And I'll play my part in the bet. What you want to know?
- You know what I want - said Shimmers in a friendly tone - What is your real secret? What are you hiding from Care Bear Family besides the fact of knowing magic?
- That my adoptive family is alive, and it's made up of other bears and cousins who also know magic - Confidence said slowly - It's a long story, and it ends with the fact that I was chosen to observe the Care Bear Family and know how you all would react with the arrival of eight new members. But in the meantime I discovered that the founders also keep a great secret, and since True Heart has always been hostile to me, I was afraid that she would claim that my family could not join you because of my lie, managing to get rid of me...
- Wait a minute, you mean your secret is just the fact that your adoptive family is alive, knows magic, and it's made up of bears and cousins as well? - asked the bear with a surprised look, receiving an affirmative sign of fennec - And what kind of information do you think Noble and True are hiding from the others?
- Information about how bears and cousins were attacked by Dark Heart with the aid of a traitor, resulting in the death or disappearance of Tenderheart's parents, Grumpy, Cheer Bear, Bedtime and all others... Including myself and my adoptive brothers, because we all lived together in the same place.
Immediately Shimmers' mind cleared, and he understood what True Heart wanted to tell him when she said she felt pressured by the presence of fennec and that the fox would cause more trouble than Impulsive Bear.
- Oh my God... - he murmured, mouth gaping - That's why True Heart does not like you, because you know her secret.
- Exactly, and she thinks my secret is just to know the truth, and so she's spying on me along with Cheer Bear - Confidence replied sadly - But I swear to you, Shimmers, I would never harm the Care Bear Family with what I know! I do not want to mess up anyone's life, I just wanted to discover my true story, and be accepted with my family within Care Bear Family!
- But what about your fight with Cheer Bear the other day? Is it because she's spying on you?
- No, but because she's jealous of my friendship with Champ. But we're both just friends, even because I date Love Heart Bear, one of my adoptive siblings. Please, Shimmers. I know you really like True Heart and you certainly came here because she asked you, but do not tell her, I beg you!
The bear sighed heavily, not sure what to do. On the one hand, Confidence's secret was foolish and he promised True Heart that he would tell him if he found out what it was, but otherwise he did not expect his adoptive mother to have a secret, and her paranoia was precisely because he feared Confidence use such information against the matriarch. It took several minutes before Shimmers could respond.
- Okay, I will not say anything to True Heart, even though I'm here because she asked - he said, blushing with shame - I'll tell her that I challenged you to a duel by telling the truth about your secret, but you beat me.
- So you're going to lie to her? - the fennec inquired with surprised air - But this will also cause problems for you!
- I know that, and I do not like lying to True Heart, after all she's done for me. However, I can’t simply put you in trouble. Even though everyone is aware of the lie, there is still the fact that her fight with Cheer Bear, which is something serious and will certainly cause your expulsion from Care Bear Family, even though she started it. No, I will not harm you because of a secret of True Heart and a jealous attack of Cheer Bear...
- Thank you, Shimmers! - Confidence shouted cheerfully, giving the bear a grateful hug - You do not know how important it is to me that you keep my secret!
- I really do not know, but what I do know is that you'd better try to talk to True Heart and Cheer Bear as soon as possible and make them see that your secret has nothing to do with Care Bear Family or Champ. Otherwise this story will become an uncontrollable avalanche and worse things may occur.
- Yes, I know that, and I promise I'll do it after the Annual Caring Fair.
- If so, I'll be happy - said the bear with a small smile - Now tell me, if you had won the fight, what would you ask me?
- Well... If you could tell me the story of Impulsive Heart Bear...
Shimmers thought for a few seconds before shrugging and looking amiably the fox.
- Sure I can. Meet me in fifteen minutes in the parking lot, and I'll take you to a place where I can tell you more calmly...
Champ walked silently and with his head bowed, kicking tufts of clouds to vent his anger. He was very sad about what had happened earlier for what Cheer had done, and he could not understand how his girlfriend could be so jealous of Confidence to the point of changing even his personality. Before, the female bear was kind, playful, and always had a smile on her face, but now she was cold, impulsive and even aggressive in the face of the friendship of the sportsman and Confidence.
This was very annoying to the sportsman, who did not want to get away from the fox because of the silly, sickly jealousy shown by the female bear, but he could not stand the girlfriend's way of acting. How could Cheer doubt the love that Champ felt for her? How could she imagine he would trade her for the fox?
That was what the sportsman thought when he saw Noble Heart sitting on a bench, the horse also having a sad expression and the look lost. Champ came slowly and sat down beside the horse without saying a word.
Noble Heart was upset that he was fighting non-stop with True Heart. Their relationship had always been very good, they had always managed to talk, to understand and to love. The patriarch could not understand where so many changes in his wife's behavior had come from, and his heart was broken in the face of all the crumbling that the female bear had done to him.
That was when he saw Champ sit beside him, also with sad expression, and looked at the young man curiously.
- Problems? - he asked the bear.
- Some - said the athlete - You?
- Women? - Champ questioned.
- Ever. You?
The two again looked at each other for a few seconds before they began to laugh at such a monotonous and strange dialogue. That seemed to warm the heart of both and forget a little the problems they lived.
- I think we were both disapproved when it comes to women - Noble Heart joked with a grin - So, what's going on with you?
- Cheer is feeling a sickly jealousy of my friendship with Confidence - Champ explained sadly - She does not want us to remain friends, and she's acting very aggressively with Confidence... And you, what's going on?
- True does not stop fighting with me, and she considers me a real embarrassment in her life - the horse replied with a sigh - All I try to do to please her is wrong, and it only makes her angrier. She accuses me of being too liberal with you, of not having educated you the right way, and of listening and protecting who does not deserve to be a member of Care Bear Family.
- It looks like Confidence really did cause a lot of trouble since it arrived...
- How do you know I meant her?
- Because True Heart would not say that about Aqua, Lonesome, Redemption, Shimmers or Sky-Heart, because she loves and respects them - Champ said quickly - But this is not the case with Confidence, otherwise she would not have Cheer spy on her to find out what her secrets are. Or will you try to deny it?
- No, I will not deny that Cheer Bear and True Heart are doing it - Noble Heart remarked with a sad look - But even though I do not agree with the way they're acting, I confess I'd like to know what Confidence tries to hide so well from us all... You know what it's about, do not you, Champ?
- Well... Yes, I know... - the bear hesitated, embarrassed - But I do not think it's fair to tell her secret to others, even if it's for you or True Heart, because it's not something that will hurt the Care Bear Family. Believe me!
- Well I believe you, and I accept your word as security. After all, I know you would tell us if it really was something detrimental to the Family.
- Then promise me you will not let True Heart, Cheer Bear, or anyone else do anything bad to Confidence - Champ said earnestly - She deserves a chance, and it's no use treating her like a criminal.
- Okay, you have my word...
Suddenly the horse was interrupted by Friend Bear, who was hurrying toward them, calling for Champ.
- Champ! Champ! There is someone asking for your help on Earth!
- How is it, sport fan? - asked the sportsman with a surprised look - Who needs my help?
- Hector's friends, they're calling you and Confidence insistently - explained Friend - I saw them by the star-o-cope, and I think you should not waste time on serving them. It seems urgent!
- What about Confidence? Have you warned her about it?
- No, I could not find her yet!
- If it's urgent, you better hurry up - Noble Heart said worriedly - I'll go find Confidence and explain to her what happened.
- Thank you, Noble! - concluded the athletic bear, before creating a cloud car with his Stare and take off towards the earth.
- Do you think the boy is in trouble? - asked Friend Bear.
- Honestly, I think so, and I hope Champ can sort it out - Noble Heart replied, as he watched the sportsman's cloud car disappear on the horizon.
Emily and Julian played hopping in the backyard of the girl's house. Since both had been helped by Amigo Bear and Cheer Bear, they felt their hearts lighter and full of joy, since now they were no longer judged differently by their friends. This was a life lesson they wanted to take for a lifetime, and as a reminder, the girl wore the bracelet the female bear had given her as a gift.
The two children did not expect to see a Care Bear Family member again, even because they knew that bears and cousins were busy helping children all over the world and could hardly visit them, so it was a surprise when Julian, in the midst of the game of catch, stopped and pointed to the sky.
- See Emily! - exclaimed the boy, very happy.
- Oh, I'm not going to fall for this, you just want to distract me to get me - the girl replied with a smirk.
- Is not it. It's Amigo Bear!
Quickly the girl turned to where his friend told her, and there was a cloud car descending straight from the sky into the yard of the house, and inside it was the polyglot bear.
- Hola, amigos! (Hello, my friends!) - exclaimed the newcomer, waving as he parked the vehicle - ¿Cómo están ustedes? (How are you?).
- Mui bien, gracias (Very well, thank you) - replied Julian.
- Hey! You both know that I do not speak that language! - the girl complained with a malicious smile on her face.
- I know you do not speak - said the bear, jumping out of the car and giving the two children a hug - That's why I'm going to speak in English so the two of you can understand.
- What are you doing here, Amigo Bear? - Julian asked.
- I came here to make an invitation for you two.
- An invitation?
- Este mismo (That's right). I want to invite you to attend the annual Caring Fair, which will take place this coming Sunday in Care-a-Lot, the place where I live. There will be several children from various countries as well as being a lot of fun.
- What do you think, Julian? - asked Emily.
- For me, I will. What about you, Emily?
- I want to go too.
- Great! - said Amigo Bear, clapping his hands - You two will not regret it, you will have so much fun with the other children and the other carebears. I spend Sunday early in the house of each one to get them.
- And what shall we say to our fathers? - asked the boy, when the bear was already boarding the cloud car - What if they did not authorize us to go?
- Tell the truth, and if they do not believe you, I'll come here to reinforce the invitation - the bear replied with a smile - Now I must go, I have other children to invite as well. Adíos (Goodbye)!
And with one last wave, Amigo Bear set off with his car in the air, while the two children waved and watched him disappear.
- Wow! We'll meet the Kingdom of Caring! - exclaimed Julian, not controlling the joy - I do not even know if I can sleep this week with such anxiety.
- I do not know either, but it's really cool they invited us... - Emily began when she saw that the bracelet she had earned from Cheer Bear was turning gray - Julian, look! What's going on?
- That's strange; did anything happen to Cheer Bear? - the boy asked worriedly.
- I hope nothing is wrong with her - the girl concluded as she continued to look at the bracelet thoughtfully and worriedly, barely waiting for the day of the Fair to meet her friend bear again and make sure everything was well.
As much as she had already ridden in cloud cars, Confidence still felt the same emotion as when she first stepped into one of those vehicles and flown like a winged being through the skies of Kingdom of Caring. She never tired of the feeling of freedom from the wind hitting her face, from the impression that she could go where she wanted with the car, and the risk of her seat belt failing and making her fall like a stone on the ground. It was a sensation of adrenaline that the fennec felt only when she was in some important karate fight.
Shimmers also shared that feeling of adrenaline and excitement, caused by riding in a cloud car. And unlike his passenger, he was already able to drive that type of vehicle, so he felt more pleasure and made him more aware of the risks at the wheel. Luckily the bear was a good driver, perhaps compensating for the fact that he was a little difficult to deal with.
Both the swordsman and the fighter went quietly, after meeting in the parking lot of the gym of Care-a-Lot. Confidence had put her kimono in the closet and taken a quick shower in the ladies' locker room, now with her hair loose to dry. As for Shimmers, he just removed the kimono and tossed it into the backseat of the car, where his inseparable lightsaber was also.
- And then Shimmers, where are you taking me? - the fennec finally asked, realizing that the vehicle was heading for a place in the Kingdom of Caring that she had not yet met - I just hope you're not taking me into a trap so that you and your friends play ticklish with me...
- No, it's not usually me who "kidnaps" the victims, but Aqua, Lonesomeheart and Redemptionheart - the swordsman said with a giggle - And my little brother and sister-in-law got angry because you did not let them babysit of Hugs and Tugs the other day.
- And it's not my fault that the cubs liked being with me more than with them. Anyway, you still have not answered me, where are you taking me?
- For a special place where you can better understand Impulsive Bear.
Saying this, the bear began to descend with the car until it landed in a beautiful clearing among the clouds, an area surrounded by trees filled with colorful flowers and hearts. It was a quiet, peaceful place that invited meditation. Quickly Shimmers parked the vehicle and went down, followed by Confidence.
- What a beautiful place... - she murmured with a smile on her lips, looking around intently - I've never been here before. What is there to see here?
But as soon as she asked that question, the fox's eyes rested on an object that drew her attention far too much, for she had no idea she would see something like that in the Kingdom of Caring. The smile was replaced by a surprised expression as she slowly approached that little slab of stones in the clouds, feeling her heavy heart. The athletic fox stopped in front of the white granite tombstone, and read in silence what was written there.
The one who taught us all
That everyone deserves
A SECOND CHANCE
Confidence stood there, silent before the grave, before looking up and facing Shimmers, who slowly came and stood beside her, also contemplating the grave.
- I did not know Impulsive Bear, he passed away years before I arrived - the swordsman began to speak in a low, respectful voice - He and Braveheart were close friends as much as you and Champ, and it was the lion who brought me here and told me what happened. Impulsive outside located by Noble Heart during a mission, and adopted by Care Bear Family with great joy. His specific task would be to help children threatened by bullies. Braveheart was his instructor and Loyal Heart was his examiner. But Impulsive was far too bold in his decisions, and for ten times he was disapproved in his final test for getting involved in fights with the bullies, to the point of being suspended for a week of his activities.
- That does not seem like a good start for an aspiring Care Bear - commented the fennec with thoughtful and sad look - And what happened next?
- He got one more chance and set off on another mission along with Braveheart and Loyal to try to stop a violent boy from assaulting his younger classmates at school. That really was Impulsive's chance to show that he had changed, and he tried his hardest, but... It all went wrong. The boy drew a knife and injured Braveheart, and Impulsive took the blade and killed the boy coldly. Loyal quickly triggered aid and declared the prison of the bear, which was brought as a prisoner to Care-a-Lot and judged as Braveheart recovered. Impulsive was declared a pariah of the Care Bear Family and expelled forever, because they could never accept a killer between the bears and cousins. His symbol was replaced by a gray cracked heart, and he was taken to the earth by Loyal, never to return.
Confidence's lips began to tremble as she listened to the story. In her mind came to the memory that her own hands were stained with blood, just like those of Impulsive. Meanwhile, Shimmers continued the story, his eyes filled with tears, for he had also begun to remember things from his past.
- Two years have passed and Care Bear Family not had information from Impulsive when some strange things began to occur. When there was a child being threatened by bullies and some bear or cousin came to her rescue, usually the child came to them saying that a voice had told them where to go and who would help them. This excited everyone's curiosity as they wanted to find out who was helping the Family that way. One day, Braveheart was on a mission when he met his old friend Impulsive, now called the Reckless Bear, and discovered that it was he who was doing it, trying to find redemption for his evil deeds. Braveheart offered his friend a chance to come with him to the Kingdom of Caring and expose himself to the founders and young leaders, demonstrating that he had changed his character and deserved a second chance, but Impulsive refused. He did not feel dignified and feared being attacked by others.
- And would it really be? - asked the fighter with curiosity - Even in the face of the evidence that he had changed, would he be attacked?
- Well... I do not know, sometimes I think so, and that if he had come there would be a war here, and sometimes I do not think anyone would dare do that - the swordsman confessed with a sigh - In any case, Braveheart told Tenderheart, who told to Noble Heart and True Heart, and they were evaluating what to do when...
Shimmers stopped the report and tried to prevent a strong sob of emotion, and Confidence lowered his head as he realized what that friend's reaction meant.
- When he died? - she asked in a low voice.
- Yes, when he died. Braveheart went on a mission on earth, trying to stop an armed bully who threatened to kill a boy at his school. The young man did not want to talk and shot Braveheart, but Impulsive appeared in a flash and stood between the gun and his friend, receiving the shot directly into the heart. The boy was arrested, and Braveheart brought Impulsive as fast as he could to Care-a-Lot... But there was nothing to do, the wound was very serious and... Noble and True ran to the bear and... They implored his forgiveness, confessing that they had decided to accept him again in the Family... He received again his symbol and his name, becoming a Care Bear... And he died...
At that moment both Confidence and Shimmers had tears streaming down their faces, extremely thrilled. It took some time before the swordsman finally broke the silence.
- Now you may be able to understand why many members of Care Bear Family are so afraid of newbies - he said, blowing his nose - The death of Impulsive, followed shortly after the disappearance of Joyful and Looter, shook much to all the bears and cousins. They would do everything, especially True Heart, so that such a tragedy would not recur. That's why she stood beside me when I myself was judged for killing the Vizier of Wonderland trying to defend the Family, and in the face of the division that this caused among the bears and cousins, almost Noble Heart lost his life... Nobody wants new tragedies at Care Bear Family, and then you, a newcomer and martial arts expert, start acting strangely... Confidence, I beg you, reveal your secret to everyone as soon as possible! Only this will make True Heart feel more confident about her presence and will show Cheer that she should not be jealous of her friendship with Champ, as well as calm everyone's spirits. I will defend you, defend your adoptive family, but tell the truth!
- Okay, you're right... - the fennec agreed with a small sad sigh - I promise I'll tell everyone right after the Annual Caring Fair, at Care Bear Family's first weekly meeting.
Shimmers smiled in response and cordially shook Confidence's right hand, sealing that agreement and also the friendship between them. Silently the two of them returned to the cloud car and set off for Care-a-Lot, leaving behind the lonely, flower-covered tombstone of Impulsive, whom they felt had a strong connection to their stories in common.
If there was something in life that Aqua might never be tired of doing, to do was tickling someone, especially if his victim was in as helpless a situation as Sky-Heart at that moment. But this time there was something different about the situation that made the sea bear feel even more excited as he tickled his victim, besides the obvious fact of this being someone who had always said that the young warrior would never have the courage to face him, much less tickle him.
What made the dolphin bear feel so excited was just being able to control the mind of the Caring Guardian while tickled, causing as much fear and despair as possible in the victim. Sky was shaking his head from side to side, eyes closed, while the sea bear continued to scratch its armpits up and down, making swiveling movements within the dimples of the armpits and strongly scratching the edges.
- Stohohohop! - Sky-Heart shouted at the top of his lungs, feeling his throat dry after so many hours laughing non-stop - Thihihihis is tohohohorture! Enohohohough!
- The intention is just to torture you with no qualms for a long time - Aqua replied with a wicked giggle, drawing circles inside the prisoner's armpits - I love to hear you laughing like that, helpless and struggling futilely to free yourself...
- My ahahaharms ahahahache! Stahahahap thihihihis!
The guardian bear tried again to pull his arms as hard as possible off the ice, but he could not move his limbs even by a millimeter. It was something desperate and also disappointing for him, to be in such a humiliating situation and having to listen to all those taunts.
But the worst part was the urge to urinate. After several hours being tickled, it was clear that Sky could not avoid getting wet for much longer. He felt his full bladder being forced to every laugh, and he could not even curl the toes and fingers to try to hold on any longer.
- Plehehehease, Aquahahaha! I'll pehehehee if yohohohou do nohohohot stohohohop! - he said between the laughter, looking desperate in the direction of the sea bear - Enohohohough! Plehehehease stohohohop tihihihickling mehehehe! Why ahahahare you dohohohoing thihihihis?
- Because you always found yourself invincible, and often did not even speak the word to me or to Lonesome, because you considered us too weak - the young mage explained calmly, tickling rapidly the whole length under the arms of his prisoner - Besides, you did not have a bit of sympathy with me that day when Confidence tickled me, and even made fun of me saying I did not have the guts to face you and that I deserved to be punished by the little fox.
- Yohohohou did wrohohohong! Yohohohou cohohohould nohohohot hahahahave threheheheatenehehehed her! Stohohohop! Thihihihis is tohohohoo much for mehehehe!
- Too bad, because I'm going to keep torturing you for a long time, and you will not escape me... - Aqua said in a menacing tone, again using his powers to arouse fear in the blue bear - I'll torture you non-stop, even if you pee your pants like a cub or faint from exhaustion like a weak one. The tickling will continue for a long time...
Sky-Heart closed his eyes when bad memories began to invade his mind once more. He remembered himself when he was very young and peed in his diapers while he was in the Guardian's Temple, being punished and having to stand in the corner of the room, listening to the taunts of the other cubs. And again he remembered when his superior in the army tortured him with tickling for not having properly cleaned the kitchen. He felt so helpless on both occasions... He felt so helpless now, at the hands of that maniac tickler...
- Nohohoho, stohohohop tohohohorturing mehehehe! - he begged, when he finally could not bear it anymore and needed to relieve his bladder, and a large dark smudeg appeared between his legs - Plehehehease, thihihihis is humihihihiliating! Stahahahap!
- Oh, the little arrogant bear wet his pants - Aqua said in a childish tone, scratching Sky's chin with a wicked wink - You're nothing but a little cub that can’t stand a little tickling...
- Yohohohou'll sehehehee who the cuhuhuhub is whehehehen I gehehehet ohohohout of hehehehere!
- Still challenging me? I think I have to take drastic measures so that you learn to respect me.
Saying this, he sank one last time the claws into the dimples of the guardian's armpits, clawing heavily up and down, causing the prisoner to give a loud laugh with the tickles. He did this for another minute or two, until finally he stopped.
Sky took a deep breath, imagining that the torture was over, but he watched with terror Aqua walk slowly toward his feet and stop before the soles of his feet completely immobilized, with a malicious smile on his lips.
- What cute feet you have - said the dolphin bear provocatively - I bet they are very sensitive, and you certainly have some hidden fear about tickling in your feet...
The guardian bear swallowed, beginning to sweat cold as another memory came to mind. Again he remembered being a cub and being in the guardians' school, at the time of rest, and having his feet tickled by an older cub who wanted his snack. That was the worst feeling Sky-Heart had ever had, and it was from that day that he dedicated himself to being the best soldier possible, never to be defeated by a bully again.
Except that none of it was worth to him now that he was stuck in those icy constraints, with Aqua moving provocatively the claws of the hands before his defenseless feet. The mage tried desperately to curl his toes and pull his legs, but he could not move.
- NN-No, please! - He begged between exhausted sighs - It does not tickle my feet... Please, I can't stand it!
- I know you can't stand it - said the young bear as his tummy symbol flashed for an instant, creating two extremely blue pieces of ice, which he began to rub calmly on the soles of Sky's feet - Most bears and cousins have extremely sensitive feet, and excellent to be tickled. Also, this is a special ice, as you may notice. It has a velvety texture, and also serves as a lubricant to make the skin of your soles even more sensitive.
- Nohohohot my fohohohoot! Plehehehease, my feheheheet are sehehehensitive, I cahahahan nohohohot stahahahand it! - Sky-Heart screamed again, really feeling those blocks of ice sensitize and lubricate his feet like a sponge full of soft bristles covered with massage oil - I neheheheed to rehehehest!
Aqua laughed wickedly at the delightful response of the guardian bear before putting the pieces of ice on the floor.
- Oh, but you've had two minutes to rest; we do not have to repeat that now. And I have not even started tickling your feet... coochie coo.
And calmly the dolphin bear rested his palm on the soles of the prisoner's feet, sinking his false claws into the soft skin of the soles, beginning to slowly scratch up and down, fingers open, teasing from the heels to the top of the toes of the blue bear.
To feel all those tickles, Sky-Heart gave a loud laugh, and tried desperately to curl up his toes and pull his legs away. He had never felt his soles so sensitive as at that moment, while the claws glided with impunity through the insteps and between the toes.
- Enohohohough! Leheheheave my feheheheet ahahahalone! - the mage bear screamed among the loudest laughs, especially when his toes were tickled - Nohohoho! My tohohohoes! Plehehehease, I cahahahan nohohohot stahahahand thihihihis!
- Of course you can handle it, your beautiful cute feet deserve a lot of attention - said Aqua with a smile - Look, I slide my claws through your feet soles, up and down, and then I draw a circle in the middle of insteps. I slowly raise my claws up to his toes and tickle the front and top, and then I come down and scratch between his toes, back and forth.
- Stohohohop! I neheheheed to rehehehest! I'm gohohohoing to pehehehee ahahahagain! I cahahahan nohohohot stahahahand tihihihickling my feheheheet!
It was when the dark patch between Sky's legs doubled in size, and the scent of urine invaded the air again. He blushed and closed his eyes, leaning his head against the ice and feeling humiliated at being treated that way, thinking that it had not really been a good idea to tease Aqua so many times.
Already the sea bear was delighted to do that, for he felt with his soul calmer and quieter with every scratch he gave at the prisoner's feet. He laughed as he watched his opponent get wet again with urine, and shook his head as if reproving that, but with a teasing smile on his lips. For a long time he continued to scratch especially the insteps and toes of the guardian bear, describing in childish tone every action he performed with his claws.
Finally, when Sky-Heart's feet were covered with sweat and extremely sensitized, Aqua kept one hand scratching the wizard's soles while he used his other hand to pick up two hard-bristled brushes from inside his leather bag. Without giving a single moment of rest, he began to brush the prisoner's feet with force and speed, up and down, still keeping the main focus on the insteps and toes.
As he felt those hard bristles being brushed against his extremely sensitive soles, Sky-Heart began to scream desperately as tears of effort trickled down his cheeks. That was really more than he could bear.
- Nohohohot! Stohohohop! - he yelled, fighting to inhale air into his lungs - I'm sohohohorry! I did nohohohot wahahahant to tehehehease yohohohou! Sohohohorry! I cahahahan nohohohot tahahahake it ahahahanymohohohore! Enohohohough!
- Nu-uh, you're not really sorry, you're just saying this so I stop tickling you - Aqua said calmly, rubbing heavily the brushes at the prisoner's feet, and looking maliciously into Sky's eyes - If you were really sorry, you would apologize before I started to torture you, or you would accept her punishment and would not ask me to stop tickling.
- Buhuhuhut I cahahahan nohohohot tahahahake it ahahahanymohohohore! I beheheheg!
- Well, you can beg how much you want; I will not stop tickling your pretty, beautiful feet. I will still pay attention to them for a long time.
- Nohohohot! - cried the mage bear, resting his head on the ice and closing his eyes, feeling utterly helpless, for he could do nothing to avoid that fate, only to stand there feeling his feet being mercilessly tickled by the dolphin bear for as long as he wanted.
Again Dawson was in that private elevator, on his way to Charles Midletown's luxurious apartment. Not that it was his favorite ride, but he had been summoned by the engineer to an urgent meeting for 2 p.m., so that a few minutes before the time he knocked on the door of the host, who was personally attending him.
- Dawson, it's good to see you here, my boy - Charles said with a small smile and a strong handshake - I'm sorry I booked this meeting so late, but it was the only time available to our Führer...
- No problem, Charles - said the young man, trying to show enthusiasm - You mean General Klaus is here?
- Yes, I am, and eagerly awaiting your presence - said the eagle, hurrying out of the office to meet the newcomer - I am generally apathetic and difficult to deal with, so few people can call themselves my friends. But I liked you, boy, and I marked this meeting especially to talk to you.
- I'm all ears - Dawson said, settling on the couch.
- Well, I've talked to the other members of the UGARE summit, of which Charles is also a part, and we're all certain that the moment of imminent action is approaching - Klaus began to explain animatedly - Several factors point to this, and we should be fully prepared for when it comes time to act. And for that I want to surround myself with the best available men.
- General Klaus has always sought trustworthy allies for this mission - Charles added as he took a sip of some alcohol - Otherwise UGARE would never have reached the current stage. And that's where you enter Dawson.
- I enter? As?
- What our hasty friend here means is that I have quite considered his character and his resume - continued the bird - That is why I want to invite you to be my secretary and personal advisor, working directly with me. Your abilities and your intelligence make you the best person for this, but I will understand if you want to refuse this position because you feel you are not prepared for it...
- I would never turn down this invitation! - Dawson replied, whose primary goal was to be fully integrated with UGARE to understand all its intricacies - For me it is the chance to show them that I am at the height of organization!
- Great! I'm really glad you accepted that invitation - the eagle commented with a big smile -
Your duties, besides advising me and representing me in meetings, will also be to organize all the paperwork related to dispatches, meetings, financial agreements and purchase of armaments, as well as to investigate with UGARE units the preparations for our first mission, which is invade and neutralize the Care Bear Family.
- Are you thinking of killing them? - Dawson questioned, trying to control his emotions even though his heart was racing.
- It is not my intention at first. Of course we have to eliminate the risk of them interfering again in our plans, as it was in 1943, but I prefer to keep them alive as our slaves. In addition, some of our allies already have plans for those "nice hearts". So, can I count on you?
It was not what the young man wanted to do, but his presence in such an important position was providential to save the Care Bear Family and to gather enough evidence to destroy UGARE, condemning all its members. So, without saying a single word, Dawson stood up and shook hands with Klaus, who was exulting with the help and collaboration of this young man who was so interested in the subject and seemed to have a great future in the organization.
After the classes, Julio, Osvaldo, Gustavo, Pedro, Paulo and Diego gathered at the small soccer field to call Champ and Confidence and tell them what had happened to Hector. The only problem was that the sextet had no idea how to contact Care Bear Family, and Gustavo suggested that everyone concentrate and think that the bear and the fox would come to them to talk.
- Mas que droga, isso não funciona (Damn, that does not work)! - Pedro exclaimed irritably after a few minutes - Acho que era mais fácil ficar gritando do que apenas pensando (I think it was easier to shout than to think).
- As pessoas pensarão que nós estamos loucos se ficarmos gritando (People will think we're crazy if we scream) - Gustavo said quickly - Há menos que você tenha uma nova ideia (Unless you have a new idea)...
- Bem, que tal nós telefonarmos para eles, ou mandar uma carta (Well, how about we call them, or send a letter)? - Diego joked with a smile - Talvez o Júlio possa usar o computador dele para enviar um e-mail à Família Carinhosa pedindo ajuda (Maybe Julio can use his computer to send an email to Care Bear Family asking for help)...
- Isso não tem graça, enquanto a gente está quebrando a cabeça para arranjar uma solução, você fica fazendo piadas (That's not funny, while we're breaking our heads to find a solution, you're making jokes)! - muttered Pedro again, throwing a stone toward a dumpster.
- And damaging a public good is certainly not the best way to calm down, sport fan - said a playful voice right behind the boys, who turned around face to face with Champ standing on the edge of the field, smiling - In addition, it can be considered vandalism and does not match the attitudes of a sportsman.
- Champ! - exclaimed the six boys without being able to hide the surprise - But how you...
- Do you really think we do not listen when people ask us for help? And you did it very strongly to be ignored by us. So what's the problem?
- It's with Hector - Julius replied quickly - He's got a big problem.
Briefly, the six boys recounted what Calvin had done to his son, what he was hurting and what he had asked his friends to do. As they went on, the bear was increasingly shocked and indignant at Mr. Kayson's actions.
- This is horrible! - he shouted at last - Calvin could not have done it! He may even be arrested for having tortured Hector! Why did not you call the police?
- Because Hector does not want to - Osvaldo explained a little embarrassed - He thinks you can help him better than the police... Can you?
- Well, I... I do not know... - hesitated Champ thoughtfully - Theoretically the Care Bear Family can intervene actively in a case like this, but this never really happened, and I do not know if the other bears and cousins would accept.
- What kind of intervention are you talking about, Champ? - Diego questioned - Report Calvin to the police?
- Among other things, to make sure that Hector never gets hurt again... But I can't understand why he does not want us to look for him until the day of the Fair, and how he will follow us there.
- He did not explain it to us, either - Peter replied with a sideways glance - He just told you and Confidence to be at the appointed time and place and will talk to you later.
- If that's what he wants, then we'll do it - said the bear thoughtfully, before realizing that the six boys were a little squeamish - What?
- We wanted to go to this party, too - Gustavo explained timidly - Can't you take us too?
- There would be no problem for me, sports fans. But I do not think I could include your names for this edition... I'm sorry.
- All right Champ, we understand - Osvaldo said, his head bowed and his voice sad - It's Hector who's being helped, not us.
The bear felt bad for the sadness of the six boys, but he could not change the list of children invited to the party. In addition, he would already risk taking Frank to the Kingdom of Caring without consulting anyone, which would surely cause him enough problems for a single day.
- All right, sportsmen, then we're going to combine something - Champ finally broke the silence - I promise you that at the next Kingdom of Caring party, you six can go and together with Hector. Better yet, we will make a special tour just for you.
- That is a promise? - Paul asked hopefully.
- Yes, it's a promise! Meanwhile sports fans, help Hector as much as you can so he does not feel so bad about what's going on, and anything does not hesitate to call me again. It's ok?
- Yes!!! - they all said in unison, giving the bear a big hug.
- You can count on us, Champ - Gustavo said - We'll do our best to help our friend.
- That's right, count on us - Paulo agreed - That's our battle cry on the team, one for all and all for one!
Champ smiled at the initiative of the six boys in wanting to help his friend, even taking several risks, to face his unbalanced father. That was the true spirit of friendship that the bear always sought out in children whether, they were sportsmen or not.
Slowly the cloud car parked in front of the Hall of Hearts, and for a while Confidence Heart and Shimmeringstar stood there in silence. They had not even exchanged a word since they had left the tomb of Impulsive Heart, and were only indulged in their own thoughts. That was when the bear slowly turned toward the fennec and stared at her curiously.
- Can I ask you a question? - the bear suddenly broke the silence, looking in the direction of the fennec - You were not annoyed because I beat you three times in karate?
- Why this question now? - the desert fox questioned with a surprised smile - Are you curious or are you trying to provoke me?
- No, no! It's just that... You look like a young woman so strong and independent, in whose vocabulary there is no word "defeat"...
- Well... I confess I got a little annoyed, after all you're the first person I can't beat in karate. Honestly I never thought I'd find someone stronger and powerful than me...
- And why do you think that? Just because I won?
- Of course not, I know you're more powerful than I am. Maybe you are more powerful than all the members of my family together.
- Is that a problem? - Shimmers asked amiably.
Confidence lowered her gaze and was silent, thoughtful, unsure what to answer.
- I think not - she said at last, turning to the swordsman - Maybe Defiant Heart and Anger Heart feel a bit jealous at first, but I do not see any problem knowing that you're more powerful than I am.
- I'm glad you think so - said the bear with a broad smile - Know that you and your family can count on me if you want to train your powers to become stronger.
- Would not you be jealous if one of us were as powerful as you?
- Maybe you are already and have not realized yet. But instead of jealousy, I would be very happy to know that I can trust you to help protect Care Bear Family. A single person can do a good job, but a complete team can do a great job. And each of us, Carebears and Carebear Cousins, is part of this team. You are a tireless fighter, Swift Heart is the fastest, Champ the strongest, Bright Heart the smarter, Brave Heart is the bravest, Aqua is the most energetic, Redemption is our doctor, Grams Bear is our advisor, and so on. Everyone is good on their own, but together we are a great team.
The fennec was silent again, thinking of those words and seeing how much the swordsman had been deep in his analysis. She slowly opened a smile and looked at him, nodding her head.
- I think you're right - she commented cheerfully - Furthermore, as much as we are immortal thanks to the magic of the Great Wishing Star, we should not waste our lives trying to compete with each other.
- You got the point! - Shimmers responded lively - We have our faults and our differences, but with mutual respect, we can transform our individual qualities into a collective quality. Together we are stronger than separated, and I think you and your family should know this...
- Yes, we know how important it is to be collective, despite our egos and defects. And it's to correct this that we want to be part of Care Bear Family.
- Well, if it's an incentive, I was the loneliest person in the world - said the bear with a giggle - If Care Bear Family has succeeded in the miracle of becoming a better, collective person, you too will become.
- So I hope... - agreed the fennec before giving a wink - But I'm still going to find out your weakness and beat him in karate.
- Bet! - Shimmers concluded with a wicked look, getting out of the cloud car and looking at Confidence, who just stood there - Any problem?
- Well... Not exactly, but it's just... - the desert fox hesitated for a moment - You now know my family in Canada, and even my fight with Cheer, and... I need to tell you the rest, but I'm scared...
- As well? Did anything else happen?
- Yes, and it was with Aqua and Lonesome... They came to me a few days ago, complaining because I babysat Hugs and Tugs, instead of them, and in retaliation they tried to capture me to tickle me... But I fought them both and defeated them, and I tickled both of them until they wet their pants...
The swordsman bear was silent, staring at the desert fox, which was still holding her head low and worried. Finally she looked up and stared at Shimmers, barely able to hide her fear.
- I know I humbled them a lot, so they still have not said anything to other... - she continued with a slight sigh - I'm not sorry to have done this, since they wanted to torture me just because I defended Hugs and Tugs, but... I thought you should know that...
- Thanks for being honest with me again - the bear said amiably - I will not tell anyone about it either, I think my brother and sister-in-law deserved that lesson, both for trying to tickle you and for torturing Hugs and Tugs.
Confidence smiled gratefully, feeling that she could really trust Shimmers and that she would have a new friend and ally within Care Bear Family, while the swordsman felt the conviction of helping the fennec to feel welcomed by the other bears and cousins. Quickly the two parted, going to their homes to take care of their daily chores.
Frank was sitting in the boardroom of Grêmio da Paulista in Rio Claro, trying to hide his nervousness and his joy at having reunited with his friends bears and cousins. Never before had he felt such a thrill in his life, and if his heart were weak he would surely have stopped beating. Fortunately, despite being 90 years old on his back, the old businessman had excellent health comparable to a 50-year-old, plus a reasonable agility in muscles and limbs.
"I'm as old as I feel," he would say to those who usually said it was time for him to retire, to enjoy his life in a country house in Florida, or even some who joked that he was alive only because he was breathing in an oxygen balloon, which was a lie. In his mind, Frank still wanted to have good years ahead of him, as many as God would allow, especially now that he met his friends again.
He thought that way, when he heard someone knock on the door lightly. Shortly thereafter, James came in followed by Fred and Elizabeth.
- We finally found the runaway! - exclaimed the personal secretary - Where the hell are you? Everyone was worried about his disappearance!...
- I know that - the old man replied with a smirk - Glad to see you again, Fred. I was already missing his characteristic bad mood.
- I'm realistic, not bad-tempered.
- I dismiss this realism - Elizabeth said sarcastically - But Fred is right, you gave us a big scare disappearing like that. What happened, anyway?
- I just had to solve some personal problems. But now that you have arrived, we can resume work at the company. The club board was kind and gave up this whole wing for us...
- Wait, you mean that we will lead the B & H from this room? - Fred asked, frowning - Are you crazy?
- Frank has never been more lucid, my dear Fred - James joked with a wink - Besides, nothing that a phone line and a competent secretary like Elizabeth can't handle.
- Thank you for the compliment - said the old lady with a smile, adjusting her glasses - And how long will we stay here and what's the point?
- It will only be for a few days, until I conclude some issues in the matters that have brought me here - Frank said quietly - And maybe I need the presence of both of you on a little trip that I plan to do on Sunday, but until then we will match best. Now, to work, because this company has been paralyzed for too long in the last days!