|Between Two Realms
Author: Dragon.and.Phoenix.11 PM
The Sequel to Cold Competition. After the mess with BEGA the gang go their separate ways. Ray hasn't heard from any of the others in six months, but when he finally does receive a letter from Kenny it's a classic case of "Ignorance is bliss". Warnings: Swearing, OOC, violence and some mild gore plus scenes which may upset some readers. More information on our Profile Page.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Friendship - Ray/Rei K. & Kai H. - Chapters: 14 - Words: 141,132 - Reviews: 75 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 10 - Updated: 02-11-13 - Published: 07-07-12 - id: 8296565
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
PLEASE READ THESE AUTHOR NOTES! They are important if you don't want to offend us!
Okay, I need to make something perfectly clear because I'm becoming quite offended by people getting the facts wrong and completely missing just how much work I put into the story. I also don't like it when I'm the only one receiving credit for the work in this fic.
This story is written by both Dragon AND Phoenix.
Phoenix controls Kai (and T'rok) at all times and Dragon controls Ray. All other characters are controlled by both.
For example, in this chapter there is a scene of Hilary and Kai speaking together - Dragon controlled Hilary for that one, and then there's a scene with Hilary and Ray and it was Phoenix who had Hilary for that scene.
We take it in turns to post parts of the story and react to each other's posts.
All reviews and PMs are automatically FORWARDED to Phoenix's personal email address so that she can read them too.
Dragon is the one who posts the story on FFN, runs all the websites, the facebook page, the Google+ account and replies to all your reviews and PMs.
You will not hear from Phoenix on this account at all unless I am passing on a message.
Please don't try to address only one of us on this account because Phoenix receives a copy and Dragon signs into the account and reads them. In other words; every message you send to this account reaches BOTH of us.
If you want to say something to only one of us, our individual ID numbers are on the profile.
Please, please, please, PLEASE stop assuming only one of us are writing this fic. It's very rude to ignore people and that's what you're doing when you disregard the fact that there are two of us.
Beyblade (c) Takao Aoki
Between Two Realms
Kai had wandered away from the cabins and other buildings, walking down the valley towards the loch. He'd stopped on a stone path and sat down on one of the steps, ignoring the cool evening breeze. The wounds on his face had already started to heal thanks to his healing abilities from being the Phoenix. But that thought only made him despise himself even more. Ray was right. It WAS Kai's fault that Ray had changed. Because he was the Phoenix and because of the connection they shared that Kai had accidentally created. But it didn't matter that it had been an accident. It was still his fault.
Kai bit his bottom lip to keep himself quiet, even as his body started to betray him and shake. Why did everyone around him always end up hurt? No matter how hard he tried, he was constantly screwing up. Ray had made it quite clear that he was sick of Kai. Hell, he probably hated him now. But Kai had never meant for any of this to happen. Why couldn't Ray see that?
Feeling his eyes starting to sting, Kai hid his face in his arms, unconsciously smearing blood all over them. He'd let everyone down.
"What do I do...?" he whispered brokenly, gritting his teeth as a tear escaped his control and slid down his bloody face. He couldn't take this anymore. All he ever did was cause problems and bring bad luck to the others. Maybe they would all do better if he just wasn't around anymore. Perhaps he had been destined to be alone from the very beginning. He couldn't hurt anyone that way.
"Kai?" Hilary asked softly, approaching him from behind.
Kai started at her voice, but refused to turn to face her. He couldn't bring himself to. Not after what had just happened. "Please... Go away, Hilary," he said quietly.
Hilary shook her head before voicing her refusal quietly and then moved to join him. "Oh, Kai," she said softly.
"Don't look at me," Kai mumbled, turning away from her. "I don't deserve to be comforted."
"Don't be like that," Hilary said softly and rested a hand on Kai's shoulder.
"But it's true," Kai replied in a cracked voice. "This is all my fault! And now Ray hates me!"
"I think he was agitated at something and just speaking out of anger. I don't think he hates you," Hilary replied.
"You didn't see the way he looked at me though... Like he wanted me dead," Kai hunched further into himself in an attempt to hide his tears. "I can't take this anymore, Hilary... I've got nothing left to give."
Hilary wrapped her arms around Kai, holding him close and rubbing his back soothingly. "You've always done your best to do what you think is right. I don't know what happened to set Ray off like that, but I don't think it was you. He probably lashed out at you because you were the one who was closest."
Kai leaned into her comfort, losing the battle to fight back his emotions. "...Then, why do I feel...like he meant everything he said... I suffocate him?"
"Probably because it hurts more with how close you two are," Hilary answered with a guess. "Just makes you take it in more."
Kai let out a weak sob. "B-but... What if he's felt that way all along? And the others... They've just been putting up with me." He hung his head. "After everything I've done. Biovolt, Black Dranzer... BEGA..." His shaking grew steadily worse.
"That's not true, Kai. We care about you. We really do. And we want you around. Even Ray. He's just in a mood. All I can say about him is that something must have happened on your travels to get to him. Don't you remember? Before you left? Do you really think Ray would have been worrying about you so much if he hated you? Do you think he would have followed you to work and brought you meals? No. So it had to be while you were travelling. As for Biovolt, Black Dranzer and BEGA, you've long since been forgiven. You don't need to worry about it. You always came through after those so how could anyone hold them against you?"
Kai couldn't answer. His voice was gone from being so upset. His hands and feet tingled as he shook in Hilary's arms and his head was pounding so hard that he almost felt sick.
Hilary continued to offer comfort, holding Kai, rubbing his back and telling him everything would be okay. "It's late, we should go back," she commented to Kai when he'd calmed down.
"...I can't face them..." Kai admitted quietly, attempting to rub his tears away, which only resulted in him smearing more blood on his face.
"Stay with me," Hilary told him softly. "Let's get you cleaned up too."
Kai nodded and stood up. "I'm sorry..."
Hilary shook her head. "You've got nothing to apologise for," she told him before leading him back.
"Won't the others be annoyed if I don't go back and speak to them?" Kai asked quietly once he and Hilary were inside. "And Cassie, will it really be okay with her for me to stay here?"
"Don't worry about any of that," Hilary responded, getting a cloth and running it under a tap to start cleaning Kai's face. She still couldn't believe Ray had done that to him and she wasn't even sure how he'd done it. She'd been certain that Kai had dodged it. It was all very confusing.
Worn out grey eyes watched her silently as she cleaned away all of the blood, until Kai looked away. "...I love you, Hilary," he whispered so quietly it was almost lost.
Hilary paused and looked at Kai, having heard him. She smiled. "I love you too, Kai," she assured him before continuing her task.
Kai blushed. It was the first time they'd said that to each other face to face and he felt strangely vulnerable. He sighed. Maybe it was partly due to the exhaustion that was creeping its way into his bones. But not just that. It was a mental exhaustion as well. "...I don't feel too good, Hil," he told her quietly. "I don't know what's caused it though."
"You're just upset," Hilary said in a soft, understanding tone. "Get some sleep. Everything will seem better in the morning."
"...Can you stay?" Kai asked shyly, "At least for a little while?"
"Of course," Hilary answered, smiling at him. Kai cracked a small smile, but it didn't last long as his head throbbed with another wave of pain. Kicking off his shoes and discarding his scarf and jacket, he made himself comfortable on Hilary's bed. Hilary moved to sit by Kai, running her fingers through his hair.
Taking comfort in this small act, Kai relaxed and closed his eyes. "Thank you..." he mumbled sleepily, hoping Hilary realised just how grateful he was to have her there with him.
"Any time," Hilary replied, glad that she seemed to have helped. With Hilary there watching over him, Kai was able to forget about what had happened with Ray for the time being and dropped off into an exhausted sleep. True to her word, Hilary stayed by Kai's side.
Daichi had returned a lot sooner than Ray had. He'd found Ray and started to follow him from a distance, but Ray must have somehow known because he suddenly made it much harder for Daichi to follow. When he'd lost the trail, Daichi had been unable to pick it up again and returned to inform the others. He told them though that if Ray was well enough to give him the slip then he was probably well enough to be left to himself until he'd calmed down and that would probably be better all around.
As it happened, Ray didn't return until it was very late. Or very early, depending how one looked at it, considering it was after midnight. Most of the others were asleep and Ray hovered about outside, debating whether to go in or not.
After a moment, the door to the other cabin opened and Tyson stuck his head out. His eyes widened when he saw his friend. "Ray..."
"Um... hey... Tyson..." Ray responded, clearly feeling very awkward.
Tyson stepped outside and shut the door behind him. "Are you alright?"
"I really don't know... I don't think so... This isn't the first time I've lost control. And it's getting worse each time. I don't know what's happening to me. I hit Kai before when I was mad at him, but never... Is he alright?"
Tyson looked down at the floor. "I honestly don't know. Hilary went after him hours ago and neither of them came back."
"I don't know why I said that stuff. Kai's worrying... it never bothered me that much. And... the change that he caused has saved my life. The only thing I said that was true was being scared of it. I don't know what I did... I tried to punch him... but my arm felt heavy... That's all I know. But it... it looked like a tiger had mauled him... I did that. What am I going to do?" Ray asked desperately, even though he didn't expect an answer.
Tyson stepped forward and placed his hands on Ray's shoulders. "First of all, you need to calm down. Freaking out over all this won't do any good, Ray. You know that."
"I'm scared of what I might do next, Tyson," Ray responded. "I told you, it gets worse each time. What if I end up killing someone?"
"We're not going to let that happen!" Tyson said firmly. "We'll figure this out, Ray. I promise."
"We?" Ray asked before closing his eyes and nodding. "I need to find Kai. I have to apolo-" Ray had turned his head, contemplating going off again to search for the Russian, but stopped and looked towards the girls' cabin suddenly. Having calmed down at Tyson's words he was able to sense the Phoenix's location.
"What's up?" Tyson asked, confused.
"I think Kai's in there," Ray answered, nodding towards the cabin.
"Kai?" Tyson repeated, looking towards the cabin. "Hilary must have found him then..."
"Must have," Ray agreed. "I have to apologise to him. For what I said and did."
"Okay," Tyson nodded. "Good luck."
"Gonna need it," Ray muttered as he pulled away and headed for the cabin in question. Tyson watched him head over before deciding to go back to bed. There was nothing more he could do right now.
Reaching the girls' cabin, Ray knocked on the door gently, not wanting to disturb anyone who was actually sleeping. After a moment of waiting the door opened revealing Hilary. Her eyes widened a little in surprise when she saw Ray then narrowed angrily. "Ray," she greeted tersely.
"Hilary... I need to see Kai," Ray responded, "To apologise."
Hilary stepped out and shut the door behind her then folded her arms. "Well you're just going to have to wait," she replied. "He's sleeping and I don't want him disturbed. I found him in a terrible state and it took me ages to calm him down. I don't want you upsetting him again."
"Right," Ray agreed, looking down guiltily. Hilary's hand suddenly smacked across Ray's cheek, forcing his head to one side. Ray didn't move for a moment, quietly lifting his gaze to her without turning his head. "I deserve that," he commented before looking away again.
Hilary had tears in her eyes, but they also held anger. "And I'd hit you again!" she exclaimed. "But what good would it do?! You're an idiot, Ray! You have no idea how Kai feels!"
"Don't you think I know that?" Ray asked, turning to face her again. "I should have come clean from the start with Kai that there's something wrong with me, or just left while no one was paying much attention. None of this would have happened then. He should hate me, he has every right; you all do. But I bet he's distraught and blaming himself." Feeling a sting in his eyes, Ray looked down so that Hilary couldn't see them. "He'll blame himself because I stupidly pointed the finger at him and said things I didn't mean. I don't even know why I did it. Just that I'm losing control. I should have just left," he repeated.
Hilary's tears spilled out. "You moron!" she yelled, this time hitting Ray square in the jaw with her fist, knocking him clean off his feet. Hilary then dropped to her knees and pinned him down at the shoulders. "None of us want to hear you talk like that! You're part of our family, Ray! We love you. We don't care what you've become or how you're different from before." She gripped his sleeves and whimpered, her tears dripping onto Ray's chest. "For Kai we're all he has left. He could never hate you! You two are like brothers. All these years I've watched the pair of you grow up, side by side. You were there for him when the rest of us weren't. How could you think that leaving would help?!"
"Because I can't control myself," Ray answered quietly. "You saw what I did to Kai. I don't even know how I did that. I threw a bucket of water at someone about three weeks ago, the bucket, Hilary. It hit them in the head. I'm not safe to be around. That's how I could think leaving would help."
Hilary sat back on her knees and clenched her fists in her lap. "It sounds like you've given up," she sniffed. "Kai never did. When he became the Phoenix, yeah he was scared. He didn't know what was happening, or what to expect. But instead of running away he learned to control his powers and accept what he is. How is that really any different from whatever you're going through now?"
Ray didn't move; lying on his back as Hilary's words sunk in, staring at the dark blue sky. "He had... better control..." Ray commented softly as he stared at the stars. "But, Hilary... it's not the same. Kai actually changed from one thing to another. I'm just... I'm a half-cast. I've always been a half-cast. It's just the demonic side is no longer dormant."
"Then stand up and learn how to control it," Hilary told him firmly. "Don't just lie there feeling miserable. Get up and do something about it! There has to be a way."
Ray turned his head a little to look at Hilary for a moment before turning it back once more. He stared at the sky again, barely acknowledging a shooting star streak by, before closing his eyes. "Maybe Tao can help..." he murmured.
Hilary nodded. "I'm sure he can," she replied.
"He helped Kai learn to control his power and he is my sensei..." Ray mused quietly without opening his eyes again or moving.
"Well then, that sounds like a good place to start." Hilary slowly got back up onto her feet. "Come by in the morning and you can speak to Kai. But for now, go and get some sleep."
Ray opened his eyes and then looked at her. "Okay," he said quietly before sitting up. "You should turn in for the night yourself."
"I will," Hilary told him. "Once I know that Kai is alright."
Ray nodded his head before slowly picking himself up again. He murmured a short goodnight to Hilary before turning and heading for the other cabins, passing the one Tyson was occupying with Tala and Daichi and entering the other. It was completely dark inside, telling Ray that even Kenny was asleep. All the same, he did his best to keep the volume down, not wanting to disturb the others.
Hilary meanwhile returned to Kai's side, carefully slipping into the bed next to him. Even asleep he must have sensed her, as he shifted and wrapped an arm around her. Hilary smiled and placed a gentle kiss on his forehead then relaxed and closed her eyes. "Goodnight Kai," she whispered, before slowly falling asleep.
Ray had spent some time standing at the window and staring outside before turning in and then lay awake for some time before finally falling into a restless sleep. He was woken later by the sound of Max and Kenny getting up and at first he pulled the covers over his head, planning to feign sleep if they decided to check on him. But he then changed his mind and threw the covers back, getting up and ready to face the others, opening the bedroom door and stepping out without a word.
Tala was standing nearby when Ray appeared outside and instantly sent the Chinese boy a venomous glare. Ray glanced at him briefly before looking down and continuing to the girls' cabin, knocking on the door. Hilary answered the door again, like she had done the night before. "Hey," she greeted quietly.
"May I speak with him now?" Ray asked quietly.
The girl looked at him for a moment, before nodding and stepping to the side. "He's in my room," she told Ray, "and he's still very quiet and withdrawn. You'll need to be patient with him." Ray nodded and murmured a quiet thank you to Hilary before heading in, glancing to Hilary for instruction of which room was hers before approaching the door, knocking and entering.
Ray kept his head down as he entered the room and tried to swallow down the lump in his throat as he knelt down on the floor in a gesture akin to submission. Feeling incredibly guilty he couldn't bring himself to face Kai. "I won't ask forgiveness," Ray began, "Because I don't deserve it, but I will ask you to at least hear me out. I don't know what came over me. I don't know why I said and did all that stuff. But I do know that I never meant it. I am scared of the change in me, that much is true, but it has saved my life, I'm sincerely grateful for that. And my complaint last night about your worrying was totally exaggerated. It doesn't bother me that much. Honestly, I was actually quite touched at your concern. I just wished you'd worry more about yourself. I can't believe I threw it all in your face like I did, I really don't like the person I'm becoming. I am so sorry, Kai, and I'll understand if you never want to speak to me again."
Kai was sitting on the bed with his back to the door and Ray as it turned out. With his head hanging low and shoulders slumped, even from behind he looked totally defeated. "It's fine..." he mumbled quietly, the usual confidence in his voice gone. "Forget about it..."
"It is not fine. What I did to you was completely unforgivable. And I can't forget about it. I've done some pretty stupid things over the years, yeah, I'll admit that, but last night... Last night was by far the worst. I don't have the words to tell you just how sorry I am. I think throwing that bucket at Omar was the first sign that I was losing control. Snapping at you in France was the second. I should have acted on it then, instead of allowing it to get so bad. I couldn't..." Ray trailed off, refusing to say he couldn't help himself. He wasn't going to try to excuse what he'd done. "I really don't know what came over me," he repeated.
"Mm... Well look at it this way," Kai mused. "At least you did this to me and not someone else."
"How does that make it any better?!" Ray asked, looking up from the floor at Kai. "You're supposed to be one of my best friends! What I did was... was... it was a total betrayal! And it shouldn't have happened at all! Like I said to Hilary last night, I should have left before I could hurt anyone," Ray commented, looking away again, angry at himself. "I haven't been honest with you either," he commented quietly. "You kept asking me if I was okay and I kept telling you I was fine. I wasn't. I just didn't know what was wrong or how to explain it. I still don't..."
Kai turned his head to look back over his shoulder. "And you think running away would change any of that?"
"No, but if I wasn't here then I couldn't have hurt you," Ray responded, looking up at Kai and seeing the angry red marks still on his face. Ray looked down again.
Kai sighed and stood up. He slowly walked round the bed and stopped in front of Ray, looking down at him. "If you had left, I'd be out there looking for you. Same with the others. Trust me. Running away from your problems solves nothing. Look what happened to me with Biovolt."
"I..." Ray began as he looked up, but trailed off. He remembered searching for Kai when the Russian had gone off and he remembered Max and Tyson coming after him the first time he had lost Driger. Then there was the whole fiasco when he had been taken prisoner by Voltaire and Boris. There was no doubt about it. They would have come after him and they wouldn't have rested until they'd found him. Hell, even Daichi had followed him the night before, despite what he'd done. "You would..." he agreed. "But I didn't want to hurt you. And that's exactly what I went and did."
"Maybe. But we know you didn't mean it."
"I am so sorry, Kai," Ray responded, looking down again. "I wish I could take it all back. I wish it hadn't happened. I wish I knew what the hell was wrong with me, maybe then I'd have a clue what to do about it. I'm going to have to go back to Tao to learn better control. I have to stop it from happening again."
Kai nodded. "And if Tao doesn't have all the answers, I'll take you back to see Fabian. He'll know for sure."
Ray blinked and looked up at Kai. "You... You will?" he asked in surprise. "You'd help me after what I did?" Ray then shook his head and looked down. "Fabian can't help. They don't have much on half-casts, on mongrels, there," Ray stated, spitting out the word with disdain. "I looked. They have more on humans than on my sort."
Kai regarded Ray for a moment with hesitant surprise. "So, you haven't realised then..." he mused quietly.
"Realised what?" Ray asked, looking up at Kai again.
"...That you're not a half-cast anymore," Kai told him, looking away. "Not even close. I've sensed the change in you and now I actually know what it is." He looked back at Ray. "You're full demon now. Like me."
Ray blinked a few times before tilting his head. "I... transformed? But I don't... feel..." he trailed off. "Wait... that pressure?"
"There's no doubt in my mind," Kai told him, "Though we'd need someone like T'rok to confirm it."
"You're sure? That I'm not a mong- That I'm full demon?"
Kai nodded. "I'd bet Dranzer on it."
Ray looked down briefly as he processed this information before looking at Kai again. "Thank you, Kai."
"You're welcome," Kai replied.
"You... know what I'm thanking you for... right?" Ray asked before looking down again, "Because I really mean it. You caused it... Really, thank you." Ray glanced up before looking down with another apology when he saw the marks again.
Kai rolled his tired eyes. "These marks will fade you know. No harm done. Not really."
"You say that and you're referring to the physical aspect. But I know that I hurt you emotionally as well as physically and I can't stop thinking about that," Ray replied without looking up.
"...I've been through worse," Kai said quietly. "I'm not holding a grudge against you for it and I have forgiven you. So there's nothing more to say about it. Any evidence of it happening will have faded completely by tonight."
Ray looked up hesitantly, "I don't deserve it, but thank you."
Kai shrugged and walked past Ray towards the door. "Stop being so hard on yourself," he said over his shoulder. "Isn't that what you'd tell me?" Leaving Ray with that question, Kai stepped out of the room.
Any protest Ray thought of was immediately shot down by the simple fact that he knew Kai was right. He had often wanted Kai to stop beating himself up because he hated seeing it. And how often had he tried to make it clear that their friendship worked both ways? That he wanted Kai to be safe just as much as Kai wanted him to be? So if he hated to see Kai beating himself up, then surely that worked the other way too? Plus Kai had said he'd forgiven Ray. Ray stood up and found that he seemed to feel a lot lighter. He still felt guilty about the whole thing, but he did feel better. All that was left to do was to apologise to the others for his behaviour. He'd decided the night before that Kai was a priority, regardless of who he saw first. Nodding once to himself, Ray left the room to do so.
Kai had moved over to the open kitchen area where Hilary was and the girl was tenderly checking his face to make sure it was healing okay. Seeing Ray out the corner of her eye, she smiled at him. Over by the door however, Tala was still giving Ray a rather frosty look. The glare was gone, but it was more than obvious that the Russian was still angry at Ray.
Ray apologised to each of them for his behaviour, though he added to Tala that he didn't blame the elder teen for being mad and that he had every right to be, before leaving the cabin to seek out the others and apologise to them too.
Once he'd apologised to everyone, Ray headed to loch's shore to give them all some space, figuring they wouldn't really be very comfortable around him at the moment. The last thing he wanted to do was add to any unease leftover from the night before.
Eventually, Tala appeared down at the shore, having deliberately searched Ray out. Stopping next to the younger boy he sighed and shoved his hands in his pockets. "I've thought about what you said," he spoke up, referring to Ray's earlier apology.
Ray glanced up at him before facing the water again. "Oh?" he asked curiously.
Tala nodded. "I've decided to forgive you. However," he turned his head to look at Ray. "If you EVER hurt Kai like that again, you'll answer to me. Got it?" The ice was back in his stare and some of the stones and pebbles under his feet began to crackle with frost.
Ray looked down at the noise with some mild interest before meeting Tala's stare and holding it. "I didn't want to hurt him like I did. I'm going to find some help so I don't lose control again. I don't plan to hurt Kai like that again, I hate that I already did, and you're welcome to do whatever you see fit in retaliation."
"Hn," Tala grunted, looking back out over the loch. "You're only getting off with it because I know it was a lapse of control that you couldn't help. Kai spoke to me about it after you left. You're going through changes that are out of your control. I of all people can understand that." Tala's grip on his arms tightened as he recalled the experiments Boris had performed on him back in Biovolt, turning him into a cyber-genetic lab rat that obeyed his every command. The memory made Tala feel sick to his stomach, but there was nothing he could do about it now. He'd learned to live with it and move on. Now it was Ray's turn. The circumstances may have been very different, but the situation was similar. Ray would need guidance and Tala had promised Kai that he would try to help him adjust to his change. Tala might not have been a demon, but after what Boris had done to him, was he really considered human now either?
"He... told you about that?" Ray asked in surprise, though he realised it shouldn't surprise him. One would have to be an idiot not to notice Tala's attitude towards Ray earlier. Of course Kai was going to step in and say something. That's just how he was. And he still sold himself short. Ray sighed, looking at the water again. "I thought it was just a headache coming on, or the start of a head cold, or something..." he commented to Tala. "It never crossed my mind that I was changing. Kai worked that out. But it started back on that day when we went to help the girls. I never felt anything then. But the change started to accelerate for some reason. Maybe that's why it... I don't know..." Ray sighed again.
Tala unfolded his arms and put his hands back in his pockets. "Well, if you ever want to talk to someone, I'm here too. I may not be a demon, but I still kinda know what you're going through. Adjusting to such an abrupt change can be difficult."
Ray looked up at the Russian in surprise again. He hadn't expected an offer of support from Tala of all people. "Thanks, Tala. D'you know... I think I'm actually relieved... About being full demon now, I mean. I've met a few full demons over the years and not all of them are very accepting of mongrels. It wasn't just the Gargoyle Demons. And now I'm not... the thing that they despise with utter disgust. I don't have to face their scorn any longer," Ray told Tala, faltering several times as he tried to figure out how to explain it. "When Kai told me I'd become full demon I thanked him, but I don't think he realised just how grateful I am."
Tala smirked slightly. "Oh, I wouldn't say that. Kai has always been very perceptive. He just tends to hide it."
Ray nodded a little in agreement. "I think he suspected the truth about my ancestry before I told him. Who knows how long for? And he was the one to figure out about the change in me. And back in India I was trying my best to hide that I was worrying but he saw right through me."
Tala nodded, his eyes narrowing slightly. "It's a gift he inherited from his mother, according to the records I once saw." Ray fell silent at the mention of Kai's mother, remembering when Kai had stayed with him to learn control. About their talks and about the night Kai had been ill and dreamt of the woman. "Don't tell him I said that," Tala added as an afterthought. "What happened to her... I don't know how much you know about it, but it's a wound that will never heal for him."
"Um, Tala, just a fair warning, Kai's able to access my senses. He told me he respects my privacy but he uses it to check on me. He busted me for fighting a Gargoyle with it before he told me. If he chooses to he can see what I see, hear what I hear and so on. I'm never aware of when he does it. I won't tell him what you said, I can promise you that. But I can't promise he wouldn't have heard."
Tala took this in with a calm nod. "Right, I'll keep that in mind. But I'm not too worried right now. When I left, he was sleeping on the couch in the cabin. Hilary suggested he could probably do with the extra rest, plus he heals faster when he's asleep."
"That's good," Ray said softly. "Kai said they'd be gone by tonight."
Tala nodded and turned away from the water. "Anyway, I'm gonna head back. Don't stay out here too long, it's going to rain soon. Some of us are planning on going up to the training building for a couple of matches. Don't feel like you can't join us."
"I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable," Ray replied, picking up a pebble and skipping it across the loch's surface.
"You can't hide forever," Tala called, making his way back up from the shore towards the cabins.
Ray turned his head to watch Tala, calling a thank you to the older teen before facing the loch once more. He skipped a few more pebbles before looking up at the darkening sky. He pulled Driger out and looked at the blade. "What do you think, pal?" After a thoughtful pause, Ray continued to speak to his bit beast, "I guess if I avoid them then I'm only going to reinforce any negativity." Ray nodded. "Okay then," he decided, sensing the warmth of Driger's assurances, "Let's go and join the others." With his decision made, Ray put Driger away and headed up towards the cabins just as it began to rain.
Ray was a little surprised at how quickly things seemed to settle again with the others. Kai had obviously been right; they knew he hadn't meant it. He joined the group who went to the training building and even participated in a few battles. The familiarity of it all was reassuring and Ray found himself laughing with the others, especially at Tyson's antics. An odd sensation made itself known in Ray's head however and Ray began to withdraw from the others, afraid that he might have a repeat of the night before. As he began to move away from the others, Ray suddenly realised it felt different from before, but he couldn't figure out how, or why.
Kai, who had come in halfway through the matches after his nap, had been standing watching quietly and glad to see the group back together again. But his attention was pulled away from the group as a whole when he suddenly sensed an uncertain fear from Ray through their link. Frowning, he approached the younger boy. "Ray?" he asked, instantly knowing there was something wrong.
Ray looked at Kai. "I don't... I don't feel right..." he told him. Before he could even try to work out what was wrong though, or start to describe it to Kai, everything went dark as he keeled over.
Kai reacted just in time, catching Ray and lowering him to the floor. "Ray! Wake up!" Ray didn't even stir and the others rushed over.
"What happened?" Tyson asked worriedly.
Kai frowned and placed a hand on Ray's forehead for a moment. "The final change," he mumbled quietly to himself. Hooking his arms under Ray's knees and back, he lifted him and stood up. "He'll be alright," he told the others before the others could start panicking. "He just needs to lie down for a bit."
"He was fine just moments ago though," Daichi commented. "Does he need a doctor?"
"No, Daichi," Tyson commented, opting to trust Kai's opinion. "He's probably just really tired. He didn't come back until late and he was freaking out a bit when he did. He probably didn't sleep well. It just caught up with him," Tyson looked at Kai, "Right?"
That wasn't the case and Kai knew that Tyson was aware of that. Still, he appreciated the world champ's quick thinking. "Right," Kai agreed. "I'll take him back to the cabin."
"Good idea," Tyson agreed. Tyson was often accused of being an idiot, he knew that himself, and he did have stupid moments. But then so did everyone else. Tyson also had his smart moments, such as this, coming up with a cover story to dispel any concern, and he was glad Kai had played along so smoothly that it prevented suspicion. Not even a moment spent to look at Tyson. Kai had known instantly and had gone along with it. Leaving Kai with looking after Ray, Tyson quickly got to work with the others, drawing their attention away and trying to settle them again. Tyson knew that even at the best of times, Ray wouldn't want so much crowding, and for Tyson, his friends' well-being was priority. Kai was more than capable of handling it himself.
Kai left the training hall and returned to the cabin Ray was staying in. Placing the boy down on his bed, Kai then checked him over again before covering him with a blanket. "I wish there was more I could do..." he mused quietly, moving away from the bed towards a small fireplace. Taking some of the wood that was sitting nearby, Kai built up a stack in the hearth and then lit it with a click of his fingers. The wood caught quickly and soon the flames were roaring soothingly. Despite the fear he'd experienced earlier, before he'd collapsed, Ray seemed peaceful now even if he didn't stir, which was of some reassurance when Kai glanced at him again.
Kai stared into the flames for a while, manipulating them slightly so that they burned brighter in time with his breathing. Dranzer's comforting presence in his pocket also helped him relax and it wasn't long before he started to doze where he sat. But then something startled him awake. The boom of thunder in the distance. Kai lifted his gaze upwards and listened as the wind whistled over the roof of the cabin. It was followed by another sound, probably of the wind rushing through the trees nearby. A deep moaning that Kai seemed to feel in his bones. It came again, growing in volume until it turned into a warbling bellow. Kai jumped to his feet. That wasn't the wind!
He rushed to the window and looked out, his eyes instantly passing over the loch. That was when he felt it. Demons! There were demons out on the loch and, judging by what he could sense, something big was going on.
Have they come for me? Kai wondered, knowing that there were plenty of demons out there who would kill to get a hold of his power. His eyes darted back across the room at Ray, still out cold on the bed. Completely vulnerable. The growing anxiousness in Kai's stomach forced him into action. Whatever was coming, it wasn't good. He'd felt like this before, back at White Tiger Hills just before the Gargoyles had attacked. I have to protect them!
He rushed out of the cabin straight away, his scarf whipping madly around him in the strong gusts of wind. Within minutes he found himself down at a small dock where several speed boats were tied up. A thick fog had descended on the surface of the loch, making it impossible for Kai to see what was going on. A battle? There were demons there, that, he was sure of. But there was also something else. Something big. The moaning came again, vibrating through Kai's entire body. Letting out a gasp, Kai shook his head to clear it, then jumped off the dock and down into one of the boats. He had to know what was happening. Luckily for him, he found the keys to the boat in a compartment on the dash.
"Kai!" Johnny called to the Russian as he approached the dock. He'd just been coming to check on the boat with the weather change. He hadn't expected to see Kai there. "What are you doing?"
Kai didn't even bother stopping to look at Johnny. "There's something out there!" he shouted back over his shoulder, unhooking the rope from the dock to free the boat. "I've gotta go look!"
"Don't be daft," Johnny responded, moving to grab the rope. "You shouldnae be on the water in that. Don't you realise how dangerous it is?"
"I'm more worried about what's coming," Kai replied, finally turning. He frowned when he saw Johnny holding the rope. "Let go."
"No, get back on land, you eejit," Johnny told him.
Kai looked away and sighed, snapping his finger to conjure a flame. "Sorry Johnny. But I just can't." With a quick swing of his arm, Kai cut clean through the rope and the boat instantly started to float out from the dock.
Johnny cried out as he fell back. "Kai!" he shouted, getting to his feet again, "Kai! Get back here, you stubborn mule! Kai! Damn it, Kai!" Kai ignored him as he started the engine and steered the boat away from the dock, then slammed the throttle on hard. Within seconds, he vanished into the fog. "Damn... numpty," Johnny commented in frustration before rushing back to tell the others that 'that blithering idiot just took off across the loch in a boat'.
The fog was so thick that Kai could almost feel the weight of it in his lungs as he breathed. Ice cold spray hit his face but he ignored it all as he pushed forward, his heartbeat thudding loudly in his ears. Up ahead, whatever was making all the noise was getting closer. Slowing up the boat, Kai moved on more cautiously, the water thrashing violently around him. He had to hold on tightly to the wheel to stop himself being thrown from his seat.
Suddenly he broke through the fog, coming into a clearing on the water that was being created by the wind. Kai glanced around quickly, looking for any signs of the demons he knew were hiding in the fog. He wasn't prepared for the sudden bulge of water that rose up in front of him, breaking to reveal a huge beast with a long muscular neck. Crying out in shock, Kai slammed the boat into reverse, desperately pulling away as the creature let out a loud cry and hissed.
"A Plesiosaur?!" Kai exclaimed, retreating to a safer distance. "It can't be!"
Three, familiar, figures came into view; attacking the 'Plesiosaur' in a manner which was designed to subdue, not kill. They were the three Tyto demons who'd been arrested by Fabian's people. They'd passed Kai and Ray when the two boys were brought into the demon realm and Ray's reaction to seeing them back then was enough to say they'd been his attackers even if Kai hadn't been able to see for himself.
Martin shouted commands to Tom and Grant while he himself also attacked the creature. Long ago it had been discovered that the Loch Ness Monster's blood possessed a property which could strengthen demons. Now, more than ever, they needed that kind of power not only for themselves, but for the half-casts too. The council weren't doing enough to protect them. They needed to capture the creature and focussed fully on their task.
Kai growled when he saw the three Tytos. Why were they attacking this poor creature? What had it ever done to them? As the great beast let out a noise of pain, Kai hit the throttle on the boat again. He had to do something! "Stop it!" he yelled, throwing an arm forward and sending a flame towards one of the Tytos.
Martin turned his head to look for the source of the flame. "You were the one-" he began, recognising Kai as being the one with the half-cast they'd tried to take before their arrest. A glance at Tom and Grant told Martin that they recognised Kai too. "Don't interfere. You've been around a half-cast; you know how vulnerable they are. We're trying to help them."
"By attacking another innocent creature?!" Kai exclaimed, stopping the boat. "They wouldn't want that! So back off before I make you!"
"What would you know about what they want?" Tom asked Kai. "How long have you been aware of our world? You were originally human, were you not?"
"That's not the point!" Kai snarled. "There are other ways to help them! You're just using that as an excuse to get away with this!"
"Don't interfere," Martin told Kai again.
Kai glared at him and sent another flame out to keep them back from the 'Plesiosaur'. "Is that a threat?!"
"A friendly warning," Martin told him.
"If you're here then does that mean that half-cast is?" Grant asked Kai, aiming to distract him.
"Like I'd tell you!" Kai shouted, before stumbling back as the 'Plesiosaur' slammed one of its huge fins into the water. She grumbled and snapped her huge jaws at Martin, narrowly missing him.
"Grant, go find the half-cast," Martin instructed, "And don't waste time messing about like you did in India."
Kai's eyes turned blood red. "Touch him again and I'll kill you!" White hot flames flashed out of nowhere and went after the three Tytos.
While Kai's attention was on Grant and Tom, who were about to follow Martin's orders, Martin moved in to attack Kai from behind, even as Tom let out an agonised shriek from being hit by Kai's flames.
"Got ya," Kai commented, then gave a start as he sensed a presence behind him. Meanwhile, the 'Plesiosaur' once again tried to snap at Tom and Grant. Martin struck Kai from behind to knock him out before sending a blast of energy at the 'Plesiosaur' to back up Tom and Grant, commenting on their incompetence.
Kai's eyes widened at the blow, before sliding shut. Losing consciousness, he toppled over the side of the boat and into the water. The 'Plesiosaur' dodged the energy blast by diving back under the water. With the disappearance of the 'Plesiosaur', Martin decided to pull out and get Tom to help.
Some hours had passed since his collapse when Ray finally began to stir. Opening his eyes it took him a moment to recognise his surroundings. Realising where he was Ray sat up slowly and tried to remember what had happened. How had he gotten here? What did he last remember? He'd been speaking to Kai... Ray frowned and looked around the room for some sort of clue before staring at the embers in the fireplace. They were giving off a slight glow of warmth and the room still held the heat from having a fire burning, but the fire was low now, meaning it hadn't been tended to. Who'd lit it in the first place and where were they? One person came to mind for all of his 'who' questions. "Kai..."
Outside Ray's room, several voices could be heard, deep in discussion.
"It's been hours now," Max said. "Shouldn't we call someone? The police or something?"
"They wouldn't be able to do anything until morning anyway," Kenny replied. "Not with that weather."
"But we have to do something," Cassie exclaimed. "We can't just stand around here and do nothing!"
"Tala, Tyson and Johnny are still out there," Kenny pointed out. "We should wait to hear from them before we do anything else."
Ray frowned as he processed the names mentioned and looked around the room again. Obviously something had happened. But where was Kai? He hadn't heard anything from Daichi or Hilary either and their names hadn't been mentioned. Ray pushed the covers back and slowly moved over to the door, opening and looking out of it. "What's going on?" he asked the others, looking around the main room.
The others all started and looked over. The looks on their faces showed that they didn't want to tell Ray what had happened. Daichi was there, but he was uncharacteristically quiet. Hilary however was absent.
"Oh, hey, Ray," Max greeted quietly, lacking his usual enthusiasm. "Um, something bad has happened..." he trailed off, not knowing how to break the news.
"I gathered that, especially with the talk about the police," Ray responded. "I have good hearing," he reminded them, wanting them to know that they might as well just spill it now since he'd heard them talking anyway.
Kenny sighed and stepped forward, since Max didn't want to say anything. "Kai's disappeared," he told Ray, "Several hours ago now. The bad weather is making it almost impossible to look for him."
"Where's Hilary?" Ray asked, scanning the room again.
Cassie looked down at the floor, "In her room in our cabin. Tala told her to stay inside where it was safe and now she's locked herself in her room and won't talk to anyone."
Ray nodded and disappeared back into his room, coming back out minutes later with his shoes on and pulling on his coat. He'd had it packed, just in case he needed it, but had had no use for it whilst in India or France. It had seemed a little stupid to have it then, but he was glad for it now. "Stay here," he told the others.
"Where are you going?" Kenny asked. "Ray, shouldn't you be resting?"
"If Kai's been missing for hours then I've been resting for hours. I'm going to go have a word with Hilary and then I'm going to go and find Kai," Ray answered, turning to grin at Kenny, "Notice the lack of the word 'try'. See you guys later."
The others watched him go in silent shock, hoping that Ray would be successful. "Good luck," Max murmured as Ray disappeared.
Ray knocked on the front door to the girls' cabin first before entering and then moved to Hilary's door rapping quickly on the surface. "Hey, Hils? Just letting you know I'm gonna go find Kai," Ray called through, "So don't you worry. He'll be back."
After a moment of silence Hilary unlocked her door and peered out. It was obvious instantly to Ray that she had been crying. "But, how can you find him?" she asked tearfully. "Johnny said he found the boat crashed up on the shore... The engine was still running... Kai could be anywhere..."
"I'm a demon, Kai's a demon. We can sense each other in a manner that humans just can't. Plus I have heightened senses and a really good feeling that I'm going to succeed," Ray told her confidently. "If anyone can find him, it's gonna be me. You'll see."
A hesitant flicker of hope passed over Hilary's eyes, "Promise?"
"Cross my heart," Ray answered performing the gesture as he spoke.
Hilary stared at him for another moment, until her eyes teared up again and she pushed past the door, burying her face in Ray's chest. "Please be right," she begged, her tears soaking into Ray's coat. "Bring him back safe."
Ray patted her back in a comforting manner before gently pushing her back by the shoulders so he could meet her gaze. "It's going to be okay," he assured her, adding a reassuring smile and nod before letting go in order to leave. Hilary sniffed and nodded, putting her trust in him. It was all she could do.
The first thing Ray did was go down to the shore and search for the boat, or at least where it had been, before combing the shoreline for any clues, using all of his senses. The only sound that met his ears though was the heavy downpour of rain which had left his trouser legs, his feet and his head completely soaked after just mere minutes of being outside. His coat was doing its job where it covered him at least, but he kept the hood down because wearing it would limit his senses. He realised that there were no traces on the shore and moved to the dock instead, stepping out onto it.
Sensing something, Ray reached his hand out, leaning out slightly across the water as he stood, and ran his hand through the air, almost as though there was some fabric hanging there. He could feel a trace of something. A whisper of some kind of demonic energy lingered in the air. Ray tried reaching out a little further to find out if it got any stronger further away.
"Ray," Tala's voice called, as the Russian stepped onto the dock. "I'm glad I found you. We need you to take a look at something."
Ray jumped slightly and swung himself back, to prevent himself falling in the water, before turning to look at the Russian. "What is it?" he asked, approaching the older teen after casting a glance back to whatever he'd been reaching for. It wasn't something that could be seen but that didn't stop Ray from looking.
Tala closed his eyes. "I know you're aware of the situation now. Earlier, while you were unconscious, Johnny and I found the boat that Kai took out onto the loch." Tala's eyes opened and he looked at Ray. "I want you to look at it."
"Okay," Ray agreed with a nod. Tala led Ray off the dock and up to a nearby boat house.
Heading inside the boat house, Tala and Ray found Tyson and Johnny who were both looking at the boat which was up on a trailer. The boat had some serious damage to the hull and what appeared to be scorch marks on the sides.
"So, you found him," Johnny commented and Tala nodded.
Ray walked over to the boat and examined the scorch marks. "The hull was damaged from the crash?" he asked, looking over at Johnny as he passed his fingers over the scorch marks. Ray looked back at the boat when he felt the same whisper of energy as he'd felt at the dock. "Hilary told me about you finding it crashed," he added over his shoulder to Johnny. There was another trace of energy and Ray leaned over, examining the inside more closely, feeling around for something and then straightened up holding a feather and looking at it with a frown, "A Tyto?"
Tyson stepped closer to get a look at the feather. "What's a Tyto, Ray?"
"It's a species of demon," Ray answered. "I don't have much experience with them, just being attacked by three of them in India. The demon council arrested them for that. They've been kidnapping half-casts all around the world. It's why Kai and I went to France. I had to check on my uncle."
"So, d'you think that they're involved in Kai's disappearance?" Tyson asked, clearly concerned.
Ray looked at Tyson. "Involved? Maybe. But they didn't take him. He's still here, on this plain, I can feel it. Kai's a full demon though; they'd know that the instant they confronted him. That begs the question what would they want with him," Ray commented bringing his gaze back to the feather as he turned it in his fingers. "Or maybe they weren't after Kai and he simply got in their way."
"Do you think you'll be able to track him down?" Tala asked. "I don't like that he's been away this long."
"I'm sure of it," Ray answered. "I'm gonna go check the loch again."
Tala nodded. "Good luck. We'll stay here in case he comes back."
"Yeah, I need help with getting the boat fixed anyway," Johnny commented.
"Later," Ray told them, handing the feather to Tyson, who was closest, before heading back outside and down to the dock.
The dock was eerily quiet, save for the water lapping on the shore. Fog still lingered further out over the loch and it had turned a lot colder than earlier. But every now and then a wisp of residue energy was carried across the water's surface towards Ray, before continuing on up the valley. "It's still hanging on..." Ray mused quietly as he moved out along the dock and scanned the surface of the loch with his eyes. "That's more proof you're still here... But where exactly are you?"
A distant moaning sound rumbled up from below the water's surface, causing a nearby heron to take flight. Ray turned his head to watch the heron's flight and then moved to follow the sound curiously. Whatever was causing the sound was fast moving, quickly leaving the estate behind and moving further up the loch before slipping into a sheltered alcove. There it stopped and the soft moaning continued. It was almost as if it was calling out to Ray.
Ray had broken into a run at the speed of his target and stopped suddenly when he reached the alcove, only to give a sudden cry of surprise when he slipped and fell off a small ledge into the water. The water was shockingly cold, but Ray didn't find himself in it for too long as he landed on something hard and rough which slowly rose up out of the water seconds later. Soon the water's surface was a good thirty feet below him and the gentle moaning came again. Large green eyes stared at Ray silently.
Ray gasped as what he was seeing sunk in. "You're... You're the Loch Ness Monster," he realised and thought for a moment before remembering the more affectionate name, "Nessie!" A short, almost excited, laugh escaped Ray at the revelation. It was the same feeling as seeing the unicorn in India. "Thanks for the help there."
A soft note floated up from the creature's chest and she gently listed her head to slide Ray off her nose and back onto dry land. Pulling back, she tilted her head slightly to the side and studied Ray.
Ray mirrored the motion and studied her too. "You look like one of those prehistoric creatures... uh... a Plesiosaur." Ray straightened up. "Hey, can you understand what I'm saying?"
Nessie opened her mouth and let out a gentle note that wasn't all that different from the sound a cow would make.
Ray cocked his head to one side. "I'm looking for my friend. He was out on the water earlier." Ray suddenly frowned and focussed his attention on a certain patch of skin which he'd only glanced at before. It looked like a wound. "You're hurt?" he asked, reaching out towards the injury, but froze as he felt traces of energy, energy that wasn't Kai's. "Tytos..." he whispered.
Nessie flared her nostrils and thrashed at the water with one of her large fins.
"Did they attack you?" Ray asked her.
In answer she bared her teeth and blew out a puff of air sharply from her nose.
"Their kind attacked me too before. They fight dirty," Ray commented in a tone of disgust. "There were three of them. One turned up first and then another. I fought them. I didn't know about the third one until it was too late."
Nessie lowered her head suddenly and nudged Ray with a strange sense of urgency.
"What is it?" Ray asked her.
Large green eyes stared at him for a moment then turned to look down at the water as Nessie shifted restlessly.
Ray looked down at the water but all he saw was his own reflection, distorted by the ripples. Ray looked at Nessie again, "Show me."
Understanding him perfectly, the huge creature lowered her head to the ground and then opened her mouth. Her eyes locked once again onto Ray, looking for his trust.
"You want me in your mouth?" Ray asked her after a moment of watching her to try and make sense of the gesture.
Another quiet moan was her answer, accompanied by the sense of asking him to trust her.
It was an incredibly odd thing to do, but Ray decided to just go with it. He didn't sense any malicious intent from Nessie and something told him he should go with her. "Okay," he responded, stepping in carefully and crouching down.
Once he was inside safely, Nessie's huge jaws closed and Ray found himself in total darkness. He then felt Nessie shift as she dived down under the water. It must have been a good five minutes before she stopped moving and a warm breeze rushed in when she opened her mouth again, revealing a large underground cavern.
Strange, prehistoric vegetation and crystals gave off light sources in various shades and colours. A small platform made of quarts stood just above the water level and a familiar figure lay upon it.
Johnny's Scots should be easy to get the gist, but just in case anyone missed it;
shouldnae = shouldn't
eejit = idiot
numpty = bumbling fool