Heel Turn

By Sanguine

Episode 9.16

Part Two

 


“Kobayashi, what happened out there?” MacGyver asked quietly, watching as the paramedic patched up the worst of the strong-style wrestler's cuts and bruises. Both of them were sitting in the storage space-turned-locker room after Kobayashi had been attacked by his fellow performers in the ring---for real. Jack was pacing the room like he couldn't sit still as Kobayashi gave his answer.

“Everything happened so quickly. I never knew anything was wrong. I was thinking about how to set up for the first spot, just like usual, but then they started coming after me, and I had no idea what was going on. It's a good thing that I was too shocked to react, because if I had gotten angry…” He trailed off. “I don't know why they did this. Sakamoto-kun is my best friend, and Hayato and I have always gotten along.”

“Does this have anything to do with the yakuza?”

Kobayashi stiffened abruptly. “Who told you that?”

“I only know a handful of words in Japanese, but I do know that your best friend mentioned them as he ran past us just a few minutes ago. And your reaction just now makes me think that those tattoos you're covering up are something more than a fashion choice---especially since you're missing more than half of the pinky finger on your left hand.”

Kobayashi covered his left hand and looked away in shame. “It's true. In Japan, I was a yakuza.”

Jack finally drifted over to them, pulling up a steel folding chair and listening intently. “I still don't get it. What's a yakuza?”

“A Japanese gangster,” MacGyver said grimly.

“What? A gangster?” Jack stared at Kobayashi. “A gangster? You're a gangster? How can this be happening? Why are you here?”

“Please, Jack-san, don't fire me,” Kobayashi said, distressed. “I can explain.”

“Start with the pinky finger thing,” Jack said.

The wrestler took a deep breath. “I joined the yakuza when I was sixteen. I---was a very disrespectful child. About two years into my time with them, I made one of my superiors very upset, and he sent two yakuza to teach me a lesson. That was when I knew I had to apologize. So---so I cut it off and took it to him. After that, I was a very good yakuza.”

Jack blinked, staring at Kobayashi with a mixture of shock and horror. “You cut off your own--- Mac. Mac, he cut off his own finger. Did you hear that? He cut off his own finger!”

“Yeah, I heard,” MacGyver replied with a grimace. “These are serious people. How did you end up here in the States?”

“Every time I wasn't with the yakuza, I was wrestling. All the yakuza in my gang loved to watch, and the people who own the wrestling promotions in Japan will invite the yakuza to the shows, out of respect. So I was always in and out of the arena. I started trying to talk to the wrestlers and pick up some moves. I would spend hours in gyms practicing on my own. And then finally, I tried out to be a wrestler myself. That was when I wanted to leave the yakuza and go through the wrestling dojos, just like the real wrestlers in Japan have been doing for decades. But the boss didn't want me to leave. That's why my oyabun---” Kobayashi paused for a second as he struggled to think of an English word that would fit. “My mentor in the yakuza, he arranged for me to come to the United States. But now it looks like the yakuza have followed me here.” He touched a patch of purple bruise that was spreading across his chest. “And now it looks like they want more than my finger, if they managed to scare my friends into attacking me.”

“We've got to do something about this,” Jack said.

“I agree,” MacGyver replied. “We need a plan, and we start by talking to Sakamoto and Hayato. Do you have any ideas where they might be?”

Jack shrugged. “All of the wrestlers tend to stay at the same hotel. We could check there first.”

Mac nodded. “Let's go.” Kobayashi stood to go with them. MacGyver shook his head. “You should stay here and finish getting yourself checked out.”

Kobayashi stubbornly took a step toward Jack. “With all due respect, I don't let other people solve my problems for me. If this is a yakuza problem, then I'll be the one to stop them. I'm coming with you.”

MacGyver slowly nodded. “All right. Let's go.”

 

* * * *
 

A short time later, Mac's Jeep rolled into the hotel parking lot.

“Do you know what room they'll be in?” MacGyver asked.

“Yes, it's the one next to mine and Frank's,” Kobayashi replied, leading them upstairs. He knocked quietly on the white-painted wooden door. When that didn't work, he rolled up his sleeves and pounded on it hard, shouting, “Sakamoto-kun! Hayato! Kono doa o ima aite kudasai!”

They could hear Tanaka protesting as Kiryu unlatched the door and opened it. “Konban wa,” he said in a shaking voice, stepping backward as his eyes fell on the intricate tattoos covering Kobayashi's exposed arms. “Hikaru-kun… I'm sorry.”

Kobayashi pushed past his best friend and stood in the center of the room, glowering at the two wrestlers. MacGyver and Jack followed quietly inside and Kiryu shut and latched the door.

“What did they say to you?” Kobayashi said in a low voice, speaking in English for the benefit of the two Americans. “What did they say to you that would make you beat up your own friend? Uragirimono!” His voice escalated to a shout.

Tanaka said nothing, eyes downcast.

Kiryu did the same for a moment, until finally he sank into a deep bow in front of Kobayashi. “Gomen'nasai.”

Kobayashi sighed. “I forgive you. I know you were afraid.”

“You need to tell us everything that happened,” MacGyver broke in quietly. “We have to get to the bottom of this.”

Kiryu straightened up and nodded. “They came two nights ago, when we first arrived back here in Los Angeles. They told us that they knew you were here, and they told us to attack you in the ring at the next show.”

Tanaka nodded and added something in Japanese.

Kobayashi listened carefully. “Hayato says that there were two yakuza and a gaijin, he thinks an American. The yakuza were waiting in the audience tonight to be sure that they followed through and attacked me, no tricks.”

Kiryu nodded. “Yes. They threatened to kill both of us and harm our families back home if we didn't do what they told us.”

“Could either of you identify these men if you saw them again?” MacGyver asked.

Kiryu immediately answered yes, and after Kiryu quickly translated for Tanaka, he nodded yes as well.

“We need to talk to the police. All of you should tell them everything you told me,” said MacGyver.

Kobayashi shook his head vehemently. “You can take those two to the police, but I'm not going anywhere near them. No way! I'm ex-yakuza! They'll arrest me on sight.”

“No, they won't. You haven't committed any crimes in America so far, have you?”
“Well… no.”

“Then you should be fine. Either way, you need to tell the police everything. They can help you.”

Tanaka broke into the conversation with a couple of phrases in quiet Japanese, and both Kiryu and Kobayashi stilled, exchanging a serious glance.

“What is it?” Jack asked. “What's wrong?”

Kiryu bit his lip. “Hayato-kun says that he recognized the gaijin's voice. We couldn't see his face because he wore a hooded jacket and a mask, but we could hear his voice well. And now that I'm thinking about it, I've heard it before, too.”

“Who was it?” MacGyver asked.

Kiryu shook his head. “Neither of us know. But Hayato-kun is right---the voice belongs to someone backstage.”

“Back---backstage?” Jack echoed. “You mean---”

Kiryu nodded. “Yes. We believe that the American working with the yakuza is one of your wrestlers.”

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