A Year To Live

Author's Note: Here people, is the REVAMPED version... It's slightly longer than what I'd written previously. I did away with some Ooc and added salt here, sugar there... Means there's no change in the plot. Just bits of the story are edited. Also, I've corrected my mediocre grammar. It's still flawed. I'm not very apt with tenses and some use of words, Hahaz.

And except for the LMAO I retained in the story, there's not more a/ns in the story. Very sorry... Always amused when I read what I typed before the LMAO.

Ok ok... For new readers... Enjoy ) For old... Nah.. Old is not nice. For previous readers... Read this if you want. )

PLEASE TAKE NOTE, THE REST OF THE CHAPTERS ARE THE OLD ONES. Don't read them if you've read this. I'm keeping them there for dunno wad... Lol... maybe juz to remind myself how immature my a/ns were.



He was lost in thoughts, staring mindlessly at the patch of blur that cruise the cold concrete floor. Then, all of a sudden, he felt a ticklish sensation, trickling down his nose. He stiffened. Instinctively, he lifted a finger to brush the spot above his lip.

He froze at the sight of his fingers, dread filling his empty stomach.

No… With his other hand, he scooped Dranzer up a little shakily and headed for the bathroom with quick strides.

"Kai? Is that you?" a voice reverberated across the vacant public hotel toilet.

There was no response—only the sound of light footsteps and scuffles. Kai emerged from one of the cubicles, looking slightly hassled and resigned. He disposed of the last bit of bloodied toilet paper into the rubbish bin, and washed his face with the tap water.

"Not again?" Ray asked, concerned casting him penetrating looks of unease. He pulled open the door and faltered, fear gripping his stomach. He remembered. Darn. Recovering from his hesitance, he quickly strode out the door, hoping that Ray hadn't notice anything else that might reveal too much.


That was the second nosebleed I see him have in a week. What's going on? I mean, its not like it's inhumane or something, all of us has nosebleeds, but still, I can't shake off the distress gnawing my insides. Kai seemed more withdrawn these days, looking paler than usual. Is he hiding something from us?

Maybe it's just me. I'm being overly paranoid over the first time I witnessed Kai sick.


Tired, tired, and more tired—that is all I can gather about how I'm feeling right now, terrible. How can I be so unfortunate to collide into Ray, the last person I'd want to see, at the least expected place? Scratch that, the last person should be reserved for Tyson. He sees me having a nosebleed, and the whole team will start taking notice.

I have this vile feeling that Ray has caught up with these… symptoms. He isn't dense and pretty soon, I'll have him breathing down my neck with queries which I would never want to answer… now. Not ever. Because it's not happening. It won't. Not now… Never again…

"Kai?" Ray asked, peeking into the room they both shared. Kai was asleep on his bed. A frown creased on Ray's forehead. It's too early to sleep, Kai is usually the one who stays up latest into the night, perfecting Dranzer, and the earliest to wake. Right now, he seemed really tired, so Ray decided to let him sleep on.

"Uh, Kenny, Kai's sleeping at the moment…" Ray said, walking into a different suite where the rest of the Bladebreakers were currently congregated in.

"Are you kidding? Kai's asleep? I thought he was some kind of nocturnal creature who only sleeps during our battles?" Tyson asked incredulously. It was true, Kai had his eyes closed for most part of the day, and he was often… missing… at night. It was uncharacteristic of him to go to bed so early.

"Tyson… He's human after all." Ray replied.

"Alright, Chief, show us what you got, that guy wouldn't miss it." Tyson urged, Ray rolled his eyes, excitement roused by Kenny's new modifications eradicating his nagging discomfort about Kai almost immediately.

1—It's back

His eyes snapped open, stomach lurched. Kai hopped out of bed and dashed immediately for the bathroom, swearing inwardly. He stooped by the toilet bowl, retching rather noisily. The person sharing a room with him would no doubt have heard.


It was the sound of… Uh, I really can't tell what kind of sound that woke me up. Since the bathroom door was closed, the sounds were faint, but Kai leaping out of bed, was no out of the ordinary. It was only 5 in the morning, I'm still rather sleepy… Maybe… should go… sleep…

Wait a second!

As if from sudden shock, Ray shot up like and arrow and made a dash for the door at the end of the room.


Thumping. That's not a very good sign. It means I've woken someone which is what I shouldn't be doing. Must.Lock.Door… I couldn't reach the knob to lock it in time. My legs felt too jelly-like to do so. Darn.

He did the next thing he could thought of, reaching for the flush.


The knob turned easily, I thought he would've locked the door, but no, and I didn't realise it till I swung the door open hard. It slammed onto the wall and I jumped.

The minute I got the full blast of the washroom, all I can make out was the figure sitting right in front of me. He had just wrenched the flush down. But I saw the sick going down. I know my mouth was hanging open. I know I look extremely stupid, so I quickly shut it up, and watch Kai get up from his crouched position, and I studied him.

He didn't look too good.

"Kai? Are you alright." Ray asked the first thing that came into his mind.

There was an awkward silence as the blue-haired teen averted his eyes and leant by the sink, letting the water run on his hands. He made for the door, leaving the question unanswered. Knowing better, Ray barred the way. He hated Kai's I'm-not-telling-you policy.

"What's the problem with answering just a simple question?" Ray demanded. Kai sighed visibly.


The problem is, I do not wish to register nor think about the question. Let alone giving an answer. What's his problem? I feel like yelling in his face. It's none of YOUR business. Don't make a fuss about it.

"Get out of my way." I growled and shoved him aside. Problem solved.

"Don't avoid my question." Ray said quietly. Didn't he get the clue? How thick can he get? I'm getting tired of his questions. I need a place to clear my mind.

You're just escaping the truth. A part of him told himself that.

I am not. There's nothing to escape. I headed for the door and was at the corridor when Mr. Dense held me back by my scarf. I wanted to tell him getting me severely agitated isn't exactly a good idea. But I wouldn't. That's unnecessary talk and it will get no where. Totally pointless.

So I went, "Stop bothering me," with my teeth gritted hard not to get mad, and I slammed the door in his face.

I ran… He brought it up. Why did he have to bring it up? I wouldn't think about it. Actually, I'm not sure where these corridors lead to, but I just want to get away from Ray. Maybe then, I can shake it out of my mind. Nothing's happened.

Please let nothing have happened.

Kai stopped short outside door. He pushed it open and surveyed the room he'd found. It was an empty storage room, musty with dust. Layer after layer of gray dirt lined the shelves all around the small confined space and on the ground he stood on. Kai closed his eyes, calming his ragged breaths after the running and a pounding headache which he couldn't seem to shake off. It was hot. Extremely hot… He closed his eyes and held onto a shelf, not noticing that it was dirtying his hands.


I have to admit, I feel like a wreck. I want to get out but I don't feel up to it. My joints hurt… I'm tired and the headache is making it all worse. What am I doing, stuck in a storage room?

Hiding is cowardice.

I'm not hiding.

Yes you are.

Fine, fine, I'll get outta here.

The minute I put one foot forward, the room swayed. Steady… I took a deep breath and put another foot forward, feeling like puking – again. Was it something I ate?

No it's not. You know very clearly why this is—

One more step. Stop telling me untruths.

The world swung like crazy. He closed his eyes and re-opened them.

This is not getting at me…

One more step. It was too hot, he was suffocating. His legs gave way, vision blurred and his world was engulfed by darkness.


Where is Kai? He couldn't have gone far. It would be way too fast. I opened the door only seconds after he slammed it. I expected to see him striding away calmly, or even a swish of his billowing scarf disappearing round a corner—certainly, not an empty corridor.

It has been ten minutes since my search for the team captain begun. The only words I could use to describe this search was, it's fruitless.

It's impossible for him to disappear here… The rooms were all locked. At the end of the corridor is a storage room where the cleaners keep their things. Surely, they locked that up too?

I approached the room, frowning. The door was ajar, I have a rotten feeling about what I was to find in there. I touched the door gently.



Here we are, in the hospital, with its deathly white walls and the constant, sickly waft of medicine. This place even feels of death itself. They've been in the room with Kai for about an hour, and I have been sitting here, waiting with ill worry. What's going on? Why did Kai pass out? As far as I know, he's not been sick a solitary day before. What did his symptoms mean?

Mr. Dickenson left ten minutes ago, something about an urgent call from the BBA, leaving me to be the lone receiver of news. I have a trepidation it wasn't good. The door opened noiselessly, and the doctor stepped out.

Please it let it not be bad news.

My stomach gave a flip.

"Mr. Hiwatari is alright now. You are?" The man in white coat asked.

"Ray… Kon. A friend of Kai." Ray replied.

"Any family?" he asked.

"Uh… no. He doesn't have family here." Ray said hastily.

"Alright then, Mr. Kon, perhaps you would like to know about your friend's condition. We've done a couple of tests," he paused, flipping through his notes. That explains why it took so long.

"It seems that his bone marrow is defective, the leukaemia's back."

"The what!"

2—Don't ask me


They propped me up, now that I'm awake. The memories started to fill me in on what I was doing before I ended up here, on a hospital bed, treated like a disabled. How many times do I have to put up with the stupid, "How does this feel?"

They haven't told me why I'm here, or what I'm diagnosed with, but I know. There's no point escaping now, or trying to convince myself. I hate the way they work—mumbling to themselves, and looking at me thoughtfully, assuring me that it's nothing to worry about. Or that it won't hurt. For goodness' sake, I've seen those things before. And you know that.

What shocked me most is that somebody's outside waiting for me. If it's Mr. Dickenson… I can't face him… Let alone the team… If they find out… If they know…

Why did it come back? Why me? Why did it come back?

I'm weak.

Cautiously, Ray slid the door open quietly, amazed to find Kai sitting upright on the bed. When he saw Ray, he swiftly turned to face the opposite direction. There was an awkward silence.

"Kai—" but Kai's eyes are closed. Ignoring me, Kai, let's see how long you can do that for.

He took a seat next to the bed Kai occupied, folded his arms and said in a dead serious but quiet voice, "Kai, speak to me."

"What did they tell you?"


Doesn't he know?

"You… Weren't told?" I asked, highly sceptical.

"I can guess, I can hear bits of it. But no. How long did he say I have left?" he asked softly. I wasn't expecting that. What did he mean? He wants to just die?

"You won't die."


Alright, his usual comment.

"There're options." I prompted.

"I couldn't care less about any of them. I heard him. I heard that damn doctor. They could prolong his life. They can't save me." Kai told me.

"Why're you trying to make us all miserable? There's still a slight chance—"

"Then why are you making me miserable? You haven't answered me question. How long?"

"How long what?" I asked, hoping to avoid replying. So he knows he wants to die sooner. But how does he know so much? The doctor said ' the leukaemia's back.' Back? He didn't reply any way, so I decided to tell him.

"One year the most, Kai… You… The doctor said… It's back?" a horrible sensation hit me, as I realised how pathetically little amount of time one year is.

He tensed, drawing in a sharp breath. His eyes turned to glare at me. This was the first time since we arrived at the hospital that Kai looked me in the eye. I waited for an answer. But it seemed as if none was coming.


Go away Ray, I don't want you here. Leave me alone.

One year…

'There're options'

I went into remission at age eight. At that time, they told my parents to be monitor me carefully in case of a relapse, for it would become worse than before. It's too soon…

Go away, Ray, go back. Leave me alone. Get lost. I hate you by my side. Why doesn't anyone leave me alone?


It's really late, and the guys will worry. I have to go… but Kai… I really wanted to stay, but he wouldn't want me here.

"I… I have to go… I'll see you tomorrow."

No response. I turn to leave. As I was closing the door, he said, "Don't tell the guys Ray, please don't."

"Where in the world are Ray and Kai? They've been gone since morning!" Kenny complained on the couch at the hotel room.

"Don't complain. No Kai, means we'll be free off training on days off!" Tyson replied.

"What about Ray then? He doesn't disappear like Kai does…" Max asked.

"I'm sure they'll show up, stop worrying! Let's have some fun!" Tyson said, picking up a pillow and tossing it on Kenny's head.


Filled with unanswered questions, Ray returned to the hotel. Kai had trusted him to keep his whereabouts a secret, he wasn't going to spoil the chance. Right now, he had to worry about a lie…

"Hey, Ray!" Max hollered from across the corridor. He ran to catch up with him.

"Where have you been? Kenny's been really worried."


"I was wandering round. Been nowhere in particular."

"Have you seen Kai?" Max asked.

"Haven't you?" Oh shit, why wasn't I given enough time to think?





I'm getting out of here.

3—Do I want to die?

The first thing Ray did the next morning, was to go and see Kai. A nurse was just leaving the room when Ray got to the ward Kai was in.

"Are you a friend of Mr. Hiwatari?" the nurse asked.

"Yeah, I am."

"You have to watch out for him, he tried escaping last night," said the nurse, leaving Ray gaping at her wordlessly. Kai had tried to escape? Is he out of his mind?

"Kai, I'm gonna murder you. What were you thinking?" Ray asked the moment the door snapped shut.

"I'd like to see you try." Kai replied, half-mockingly.

"The guys were worried. They were asking me if I knew where you were."

"Did you tell them?" Kai hissed suspiciously.

"I didn't. But it's obvious, they knew I was lying… You'll just have to tell them, Kai, it's no good hiding from—"

"Shut up."

"They have to know one day! We're team mates! There's no point delaying," said Ray.

"One word, and I'll break your wrists. I'll decide when I think fit to let the others know."

Then came the stomach-ache. He excused himself to the toilet. Kai's opportunity had come.

That feels better, Ray thought. After the first few steps out of the toilet, he'd regained his composure and his legs feel less like jelly. As he approached the ward room, he was puzzled. As if something was not in place. The door… It was ajar. Surely, surely he'd left it open by mistake…

Panic was rising in his chest, Ray sprinted across the corridor, shoving the door wide open—

The room was empty. Kai's bed was a mess, the IV line had been wrenched out. And Dranzer, which was usually stowed in the bedside cupboard had disappeared. No way…

He had been running and running, never stopping to turn around or rest. He had stolen back his clothes and some one else's coat, which he clutched tightly to his heaving chest. There was no one about the shadowed alley. Risk it. You can't walk around wearing hospital clothes. It'll attract attention. So he stripped and changed, although it was ice cold.

When he was done, he hurriedly left the dark alley. Still unsure of why he wanted to escape the hospital.

Daylight shone into his eyes like dazzling crystals. All about, people were minding their own business. Good. He slipped through the crowd, hoping that none of his team mates had decided to come to this part of town. As luck would have it, he spotted Tyson in a Chinese restaurant.

"Hey, does that look a little like… Kai?" Max said, suddenly standing up.


"Tyson! Max! Chief! Has anybody seen Kai?" Ray asked, knowing it was a lame question, how could Kai possibly just turn up at the most obvious place?

Unfortunately, none of them seem to be paying Ray any attention, they had already zoomed out of the restaurant at top speed, leaving Ray to pay up.

"Hey guys! WAIT UP!"

Damn Tyson, of all places, he has to be here. Kai cursed as he slipped past a group of French tourists.

"Kai! Where are you going?" Max's voice rang through the cold dense air. It only made Kai turn into a brisk walk.

He was past the alley…

The Bladebreakers were drawing close…

He started running…

There was a stretch of road ahead…

There wasn't any cars in sight…

He was crossing it… Hit me, hit me, it doesn't matter.



Kai jumped back just in time as the car swerved to the right, missing a tree trunk.

"Watch where you're going kid! You almost got me fucking killed!" the pissed driver shouted, before speeding off.

Do I really want to get killed?

"K—Kai! What … do you think ... you're doing?" Tyson asked in between gasps.

Kai had turned shockingly ashen and was staring wide eyed at the leaving car. Close… So close…

4—I'm gonna act like nothing's happened—two months later

The next two weeks saw the return of Kai's crude behaviour, endless training till the wee hours of the morning, and the silence he kept everywhere they went. All the time, Ray kept quiet of the pain his friend had to go through after their late trainings. And he realised the meaning of helplessness, seeing your friend go through pain you can't help to ease is as bad as going through the hell yourself.

Then came the time when they had to leave Russia.

Six weeks after they returned to Japan

"Mr. Dickenson! MAX! RAY!" …… and it went on.

"I can't believe it, Kai's late." Tyson groaned.

Ray perked up. Could something have happened?

"Look again." This caused everyone to look up at the slate haired teen leaning casually against the wall.

"When did you get here?"


To see him was to my greatest relief. But I can't help worrying. We're off to China for the Asian Beyblade tournament, there would be more stress, more training, and to top it all off, all I get is the feeling of dread. When is Kai going to let the others know? Knowing him, that is, until he breaks; which I'm afraid, would be soon.

They boarded the plane, ready for a short flight to their destination.

Halfway through the ride, Ray found Kenny retching in a paper bag behind him, Max at the games room, Tyson fooling around, and Kai… vomiting as I feared in the desolated washroom. Only this time, it looked much worse. There was blood…

"Ray…" he gasped, opening the door on my third knock.

"Oh my gosh…" that was all I could say. What would you do if you see your friend with his slick hair plastered on his head, looking as if he'd ran three miles in fifteen minutes and vomiting traces of blood?

I bit my lip hard trying not to let tears take over me, I guess I failed. I ended up sniffing slightly into his chest, while he tried to calm me down.


For how long more can I keep the suspicion down, I'm not sure. Here is Ray, crying, for crying out loud. Thank God he kept the secret. I can't survive with four people looking into my personal life at a time. I feel like I should be the one in his position, the one who's crying. But I've already accepted what was going to happen. Ray… You should accept it too.

I washed the sink and left Ray in the small cubicle. He's going to tell them… And there's nothing I can do to put a stop to that.


Sue me if I'm doing the wrong thing by not informing the rest of the team… I just can't bring myself up to break the news to them, either they were too busy having the hell of a fun time on deck, or just enjoying the peace and bliss of having nothing to worry about.

In a few hours, the plane landed. This was met by: Relief for Kenny; no more sea sickness, rejoice for Ray; after such a long time, he was finally on home soil, excitement for Tyson; it meant food, thrill for Max; new sights. And the only one who had a scowl on his face, was Kai. However, this was largely due to the fact that Tyson had jumped on his toe.

The weather here was dryer, and being the spring season, it wasn't so bad. There was an occasional cool draft blowing from the sea, and they were not on the receiving end of attention as they waited for the BBA bus. Some people were trying to settle down the beggars who had all just emerged to beg money from a relenting American tourist who is now highly distressed.

Within a couple of minutes, the BBA bus pulled up in front of the quintet and Mr. Dickenson beckoned them all to hop on. He spared a fleeting glance at Kai, who was still shooting death glares at Tyson, assured by the usual behaviour.

They checked in at the Hotel Phoenix. All along the lift ride to the 32nd floor, Max was hopping up and down, sending shudders up and down Kenny's spine.

"Stop that Max! The lift is VIBRATING!" Kenny scolded, but to no avail as Tyson joined in.

"Noooo…" Kenny whined as Ray hid a grin.

"Let it RIP!"

In preparation for the Asian tournament, they trained day and night, as it was heard that teams here were more formidable than you could imagine. Bitbeasts passed down from dynasties of changes and ever increasing discoveries of new 'stones' that could increase a Beyblade's spinning velocity. There were also many formidable opponents that they have never met before as the teams were not allowed to travel abroad to compete.

You could say, that one of the best places to find the most ancient and influential Bitbeasts, is China. Many of their best teams, had never been let out of China, and therefore, there was no data about how strong they were.

That was why Kai was working them so hard, working everyone on speed, strength and defence.

"Give us a break! If you're not tired, we all are!" Tyson shouted after getting berated harshly by their team captain.

"Yeah, we haven't got all the strength you have to keep training…"

Only Ray knew better and could see how ironic the situation was. He had to stop himself lashing out at his team mates' complaining to their steely and determined captain.

In the safe confines of Ray and Kai's shared room, things were another matter. Ray could only watch Kai swallow the painkillers and get on with stuff. He would sometimes wake up at night to find Kai restless and in pain, with both hands clamped over his head. There were headaches so severe that Kai wouldn't be able to restrain himself from making a sound. Or maybe see him suffering another episode of vomiting. And when he tried to reach out, Kai would turn away, and shut himself off from the rest of the world.

So it went, for the next whole month, they breezed through the preliminary rounds, eliminating eight groups without sweat, and qualified for the fight to the top with ten other teams.

Just when things were going smoothly, problems have to emerge.

Kai was eating lesser and lesser. He was much more withdrawn and the killer headaches were getting worse. In Ray's mind, was a fierce debate of whether he should let the rest of the BladeBreakers find out about Kai's current condition. He did not want to break Kai's trust in him. He could only hope Kai knew his limits.

As for the phrase, 'Everyone has a breaking point' goes, Kai was reaching his breaking point. But no one, was a aware of that…

5—So much for a brave front

The day started out cold and clammy, it was raining so hard, you could hear the windows rattling madly as torrents of water pounded on it. They were at the BeyStadium watching a group of their would-be competitors finishing off the opposing team. All five of them were rapt with attention.

Shortly after the match, they headed back to the hotel, trailed unawares by a group of giggly girls.

"They're here! They're here!" the girls cooed back at the hotel.

"And they are…" Kenny breathed, cheeks turning red.

"Hi! How are you? Love you sooo much, we are… " they cooed in rapid Chinese.

Kai slipped out of the lobby with Max as they took the lift up to their suit. In the distance, they could hear Ray replying back in Chinese, "All right, all right…" He was sure they were asking for autographs. He had better things to do than to answer to a bunch of fans right now.

"They sure are troublesome!" Tyson commented as they got jostled into the lift fifteen minutes later, having satisfied the fans with photos and signatures.

"They were sooo lucky to have escaped those girls." Ray said.

As Tyson and Kenny got into their rooms, Ray turned his heel and walked one more door down.

"Kai, open up!" Ray rattled the knob slightly. He waited for a good few seconds. Strange, he thought, he usually gets to the door immediately.

"Kai, are you in there?" Ray asked foolishly. He knocked on the door several times more, panic settling in. Calm down, he may not have been in the room at all. He went back to Max's room and knocked.

"S'up?" Tyson asked as he pulled the door open wider.

"Where's Max?"

"Ray? Yeah?" Max said, as he, too came to the door.

"Did you see Kai go into his room?"

"I did… What's wrong?" Max cast Ray a worried expression, seeing the uneasiness on his face, "He locked you out or what?"

I wish.

(After the lift ride)

Kai's head was pounding maniacally, yet again. He was thinking of getting back into his room, with the comfort of painkillers, then, he would take a bath. It was reassuring…

He disappeared into his room, without a word to Max, who had noticed a sheen of light sweat on his brows. Avoid questions at all costs. He told himself. Back in the precincts of his own room, he rummaged through the cupboards desperately, looking for the bottle of pain killers. His headache was wrenching him off concentration, his vision was dotted with spots of black.

Kai staggered into the bathroom, not bothering to close the door. Black dots eated its way through his vision, until he was shrouded by total darkness and unconsciousness.

"He was looking kinda sick in the elevator, just a while ago."

"You sure he went in?" Ray asked.

"Don't you have a key?" Kenny asked, now joining the trio's conversation. Ray slapped his forehead. Amidst the confusion, he had forgotten that he had been assigned a key to the door.

He searched through his pocket, and produced a white plastic card, he sliced it through the lock. There was a soft, metallic click. Ray yanked the wooden door wide open, to be greeted by—


Then he saw an open cupboard, the contents were a mess. He must be looking for the aspirins.

"Kai?" Max asked tentatively.

No response.

"Kai? Don't scare me!" Ray yelled, causing surprise glances from his team mates.

"Kai? Scare us? He doesn't even possess a gram of sense of hum—" Tyson stopped abruptly.


Ray's attention was adverted. He dashed to the bathroom, stumbling on Kai's scarf. Right in the middle, down on the floor for the second time, Kai. He was unconscious.


"What's wrong with him?" Max asked, being the only one who could still talk. I only shook his head and swallowed the lump in my throat. This is all my fault. I should've known... I shouldn't have left him alone... I should've picked up alarm signals when he didn't retort Tyson's atrocities while they were watching the match.

Back in the hospital. The white paint on the walls are supposed to give people a sense of peace. It was supposed to soothe the visitors out of their anxious misery. However, it seemed to only make things worse. His blank mind, like the stark white walls were free to be invaded by thoughts of self-reproach and apprehension.

In a far corner, a lady was sobbing uncontrollably into her husband, "He's too young... Why is it my son?"

WILL THEY CUT IT! CRY SOMEWHERE ELSE! I guess, I'm just affected as the words hit too close to what he was feeling. Kai's too young to die... The others were just staring at me, expecting me to tell them something. I only returned it with a glare, which I regretted later.

"I'm sorry, I should have realised something was wrong…" Max said.

I don't know why, but I cut in impatiently, "It wasn't your fault, it was mine. How could I have been so stupid!" I was angry, of course, who wouldn't be? Why did I leave him alone? I knew he felt sick in the bus already, why didn't I pay more attention? It's my fault, my fault...

"What do you mean it was your fault?" Tyson snapped up, surveying me suspiciously. As soon as those words left his mouth, I knew I'd soon be betraying Kai's secret. But it was too late to take things back. They ought to know. But it will have to be Kai who tells them.

"You can see your friend now." The doctor's voice made me jump out of my stupor. Well, this is it…


Drats. I let it happen again. The last time I ended up in hospital, Ray was here. I bet they're all here now. Why can't the nurses just quit giving me sympathetic looks? I can't sand them, and I don't need their pity. The worse thing is, she's gone to fetch the guys in despite my feeble protests. There'll be explaining to do. And knowing Ray, he'd leave me to do the explaining. Why can't people just leave me alone?

Here they come…


They spent fifteen whole minutes just staring at me. Meaningful way to spend your time, isn't it? No one has spoken. Thank god. Since they stared, I looked away. The doctor got me propped up by pillows, as if I couldn't sit straight.

SAY SOMETHING, OR GET OUT! I can't stand this silence. Please leave me alone...


Will somebody tell me what's going on? I know it's something bad, but no one's asked a question so far… Kai looks as if he going to kill us if we mutter a word… And Ray, he wouldn't face up. He just stands there by the window. Whatever is he thinking?


I don't understand what's happening… Kai isn't talking to us, Ray isn't looking at us. Is Kai sick? And does Ray know it as well? Why didn't we ever suspected anything?


What's wrong with Kai? I can't stand this silence anymore. I'm gonna raise a question.

Before he could do that, Tyson spoke up, "Will somebody, the both of you, tell us, what's going on? Don't just keep quiet!"

"Kai, lets hear it from you." Ray whispered audibly.


Clever me, I can pass as a psychic. So I was right, I have to explain. Why didn't the doctor tell them something? Whatever his diagnosis is now, I don't know either.

"Stop delaying time, Kai, it's no use. They have a right to find out. Plus, it's bound to happen, and you know it." Ray hissed the last three words.



"I have leukaemia. They gave me one year to live three months ago. Happy now?" that was out of the blue. Why I even told them beats me. I wish I could take those words back though. That simple phrase was met by chaos.

There was a moment of silence as tension peaked.

"WHAT!" Tyson yelped, not believing what he just heard.

"This can't be…" Max said in an undertone, "Impossible…"

"Are you sure? You're gonna die?"

"Shut up." Kai growled and everyone fell silent.

"Look… Okay, yes, I'm going to die. Wouldn't it be better that way? It's not impossible. I was in remission since I was eight. Now its back, that is not impossible. If you don't believe this, pinch yourself and ask the damn doctor. Why should I be kidding anyway?"

"You don't mean that." Ray said.

"I do. Now get out. I don't want pity." He spat.

"We're just trying to… "


"Excuse me please, would the four of you come out here for a moment?" it was the doctor. And he didn't look as if he was bringing good news. The foursome stepped quietly out of the ward.

"Please, don't anger him. If your friend keeps up whatever he's been doing, he'll kill himself faster. I'm sure none of you wants that. As for his condition, I hope you keep a look out for him more often. He needs rest. Not toiling day and night."

Max gulped. This was serious. This is real. Kai's really going to die. Everyone looked horror struck.

6—No… Not him!

One week later…


"Dragoon! Attack!" Tyson commanded, playing an easy game with Max.


"What's that on your arm, Kai?" Ray asked, noticing Kai fingering something dark purple on his arm. He snapped up instantaneously, and replied, "Nothing."

Half an hour later, they were back in their respective rooms. These days, Ray noticed that Kai was avoiding everyone, even in the confines of their room.

"Kai, let me take a look at your hand." Ray said firmly.

"What do you want?" he snapped.

With a swift gesture, he got hold of Kai's right arm, turned the pale white skin to face him. He couldn't suppress the gasp that escaped his lips. A couple of dark bruises streaked the pale flesh. Ray lifted a trembling finger to tough one of the wounds. Kai was indifferent.

"How did you get them?" Ray asked, the moment he found his voice. He watched Kai swallowed, before answering, "From training," impassively, "they don't heal as fast."

He wrenched his arm away from Ray's grasp. Ray watched on with mounting curiosity as Kai took off his hand guards. There were more bruises splashed across his hands which were unprotected by the guards.

"Do they hurt?" he asked apprehensively. With an indifferent shrug, Kai laid down on his bed and slept.

Things usually happen when you least expect them to. After a chain of uneventful weeks, they were out in the open once more, refreshing themselves with the parched, cooling weather, watching gusts of wind sweep trees into a swaying dance.


Today, was just another day off. No big deal… Then why am I so reluctant to get moving on my own? Even if I so crave to be alone, they wouldn't see to it. Can I help it if I noticed that everyone on the team is giving me some kind of special treatment?

Take Tyson for example. Usually, he's uncontrollable. But right now, if I just cast him one glare, he would quit what he was doing. He'd drop it like a hot potato. AND I HATE IT. I hate the attention. It may seem an improvement this way, but I do not appreciate it. Let alone wanting them to care. I can handle myself fine, thanks.

"Kai? Hello? Earth to Kai!"

"What?" I snapped, causing Max to recoil.

"I asked do you want to come along?" he repeated.

Come along where? Heck, I couldn't care less.

"No." I turned my heel and left.



China gives me much more assurance than Russia or Japan, considering that one is my homeland and the other, is polluted by the mere though that my grandfather lives there. At least, I'm protected by animosity here. I guess I wasn't really headed anywhere, I just let my feet carry me off. It was no surprise, that I bumped into somebody.

"Sorry." I muttered and hurried to leave.

"Oh no you don't! I've been looking for you." a horribly familiar voice yelled. He clamped my mouth and lifted me from the ground. Multiple rings on his hands jabbing hard into my sides. I struggled to yell, but only ended up suffocating under his tight palms. Not him… NOT HIM! How could he be here? His harsh and violent moves terrifies me. After what seemed like ages, he shoved me inside a window-tinted car. He got onto the front seat and ordered, "Go."

"So, what have you been doing for the past four months I didn't see you?"

"To think you were well informed." Kai snarled.

"Tch tch tch… Temper, Kai, perhaps, I ought to refresh your memory?" the gruff voice threatened. Kai bit his lip and fell quiet immediately, Voltaire's crude treatment, was ridiculously hard to forget.



"Forgot your manners?"

"Mm!" Kai clenched his jaws tightly to stop himself from yelling out.

Already, a minute after their first meeting in four months, Voltaire had started the abuse he had stopped two years after Kai left the abbey.


"Do you think he's in trouble?"

A sleek black car drove past them...

"Ah!" Kai jumped up from the awkward position he'd fell asleep in. Was it a nightmare? Or was it for real? Please don't let it be real… Slowly, he lifted his eyelids and squinted in the dark. A growing lump of worry forming in his throat.

"No... not here... not here..." he cried, loud enough to hear his own echo bounce off the walls, beating down on him.

Carefully, he shifted his position, aware of the throbbing bruise on his forehead, his badly kicked stomach, and to top it off, aching joints. As expected, Voltaire had locked him up in a cell. But how did he get here? He was in China!

As his vision cleared, memories started flooding back. He'd been here too many times to scrape it out of his memory. Every episode he was locked in here, he had been under the impression that he'd made a mistake. His mind was too clouded to register that Voltaire, had beaten him, just for the kick of it.

How did they get back in Japan? I must've been out while he brought me here... A weight dropped in his abdomen. There was no escape… Voltaire wanted him to stay confined from the rest of the world... It was in recompense to his actions in the last tournament. His refusal to abide by his wishes. His refusal of Black Dranzer.

Footsteps clicked uniformly in the hallway, getting louder as they approached. There was a jingling sound, as the keys were brandished, Kai heard the anonymous person stick the key into the hole and turned. The door creaked noisily open, rusty hinges, un-oiled for years.

A slice of light casted a long shadow of a man with cropped hair in the doorway. Kai let out a sigh of relieve. Anyone else, was better than Voltaire himself.

"Your dinner… Young Master…"

He did not recognised this voice, but edged his way closer to the door. Hastily, the man shuffled back and shut the door, leaving Kai in total darkness once again. Kai frowned, why did Voltaire not allow him to see what's outside, when it is only too obvious he knows? Sighing, he felt his way through the musty room, found the wall, and rested his weary body on it. It was no point eating in the dark…

Drip... Drip... Drip...

Kai's eyes snapped open.

"Argh!" he yelled frustratedly. How could he sleep with all that noise? His mouth was desiccated, and was dying for a drink of water. Swallowing the mounting feeling of devastation, he followed the wall, which led right a corner, where there was obviously, a hole. But he was too weak to think what he could do next. He slumped on the door, and fell asleep.

"Two days, and still no news of him?" Mr. Dickenson asked urgently on the phone.

"Yes, yes, I'm aware that my boys were the last ones who saw him…"

"Alright, do that as soon as you find anything."

"Mr. Dickenson? There's still no news of Kai?" Ray asked.

"I'm afraid not… But the BBA has started the search for Kai all around China. There has been no reports of a slate haired teen…" he sighed miserably.

"We'll just have to cross our fingers and hope then…"

"Oof!" Kai was sent flying into consciousness, as a hard kick found it's way to his already blue black stomach.

"Grandfather!" he gasped.

7—Stuck in hell


Finally, he comes to 'visit' me. I thought he didn't have the guts. Physically, he has never visited me in the dungeon before, he doesn't have to. This place stank of him.


Both hands hauled the heavily-wounded boy off the ground, throwing his with great force into the wall, daring him to make the slightest whimper.

"Ah!" Kai hissed. No shit! He'd made a mistake, complying to Voltaire's wishes.

"Pain isn't it?" he whispered maliciously, with a wide smirk on his old face wrinkled with age. "Such a WEAKLING!"

"Ah!" Kai gasped once more, ask Voltaire's foot made contact with his face.

"Funny you should yell… Perhaps you really need more training…" he sneered, unbuckling the unnecessary belt on his waist. He raised it high in the air…

WHOOSH! ... ... ... ... CRACK!

Kai's face was scrunched up in utter agony, he bit his lip hard, to stop another gasp.


He shut his eyes so tightly he could see colours mixing abhorrently. His breath came in short pants, as he willed Voltaire to be satisfied with the silence and scram. Finally, after what seemed like an hour of stillness, the footsteps click away, the door snapped shut, and a sense of peace filled the room. Kai sighed and slowly, allowed visions to fill him in.

The room had a dusty quality to it. Pale strips of light streaked into the room through a grilled opening, casting long rectangular patches on the dirt covered floor. He was confined to four grey walls which he remembered so well. Once, long time ago, he had screamed and pleaded incoherently for mercy, for release. Then, he hadn't realised, that it was exactly what Voltaire and wanted to hear.

At the opposite wall, he saw dark patches of red, stained on parts of the wall and mostly, the floor. Traces of blood, trailed everywhere in the room. He shuddered, brushing aside a thought just as quickly as it had popped into his sharp but crude memory. It was his blood.

"It's been three days…" Max said as he plopped down on a chair.

"I know…" Tyson sighed.

"Can't have gotten lost… if he's injured… they ought to find him soon…" Ray assured, unconvincingly.

"We shouldn't have trusted it safe for Kai to just go wandering around… In this state…" Kenny wailed.

"Is he suicidal?"


Two weeks later…


Kai jumped, alert eyes quickly adjusting to the dark gloom of the cell. The flung open door depicted a stony corridor. Where's the person? A figure moved in the corner.

"Ssss…" he hissed in pain as his head knocked onto the wall.

"Having fun?" the guard breathed, beetle black eyes glinted at Kai. A wave of nausea overtook him.

"HUH?" he roared, adding to the menace with a kick.

"Pf—" blood surged out from his mouth uncontrollably. With a weak sigh of defeat, Kai flopped over, lifeless.

The guard stared at the boy in surprise for a minute. Voltaire had said he was stubborn. Why did he give up just like that? Perhaps he died? The guard turned Kai over and checked for breathing. His face was extremely hot, he was breathing, but only shallowly. With slight relief, he left.

"He passed out, sir."

"So fast?" Voltaire asked incredulously.

"Running a fever, breathing shallow, threw up some blood…"

"He didn't." Voltaire said suddenly, getting up. He cast the guard one last glance and said, "Dismissed." The guard bowed respectfully and left. With a sweep of his long coat, Voltaire stalked off in the direction of the cell.



"They couldn't find him in the country at all…" Mr. Dickenson lamented.

"That's impossible!" Ray exclaimed.

"Calm down Ray. They've drawn up a list of suspects—possible kidnappers."

"You mean… Kai's being abducted?" Tyson asked.

"That's highly likely."

Voltaire was a man of ice, hardly troubled by people's welfare. But if his worst suspicion of his grandson is true, then bringing him back would be a total waste of time. No successor, no tool. Following him was the medics group. About time too, he decided. The original plan was to ask Kai to help him get the Bladebreaker's bitbeasts. And in preparation, he had tools ready for torture. Enough to etch it into his memory, inadequate to kill him.

The reports from the cook wasn't enticing though. 'Young master wasn't eating much...' 'He looks beat…' 'I think he's sick…'

At the back of his mind, he was bugged. Yes or no? He had to find out one day soon. Not like this.

He let the three medics go in to do their examination. In just a moment, the man came out.

"We'll have to bring down his fever. I'm afraid sir, you have to give permission for us to move him," the doctor prompted quietly. The boy was in bad shape. Very ill, and cell conditions will only make him sicker. He prayed for approval. Voltaire nodded.

The doctor went into the room, and brought Kai out. Voltaire was shocked though he did not let it show. Kai's blue paint had worn off, leaving only slight traces on his dirt strewn face. There was newly dried blood at the right corner of his mouth. His face was slightly flushed.

In addition to the inflicted scars of abuse, there were dark purple welts on his arms, these, he recognized. A memory surfacing in his mind, to about eight years ago, when he had thought all his plans were foiled. When Boris had lost all hope. Then a miracle happened, and Kai went into remission. Then he had taken on the task to train him into his puppet for four years, during which Kai escaped the abbey. He was displeased, of course, but he saw it as an opportunity to 'train' Kai personally.

"Who are the suspects?" Ray asked, intrigued.

"Some people who were foes of the BBA, and…"

"Boris." Tyson finished.

"I thought… he's gone to jail or something?" Kenny said.

"No, there wasn't enough evidence to put him in jail. Only to shut down BioVolt. Boris was let off with a fine for being involved in such a monstrous scheme. Thanks to his twisted lawyer…"

"So he's still out there? Training Tala and the others?"

"Tala went missing after BioVolt was shut down, " Kenny pipped up.

"Another one missing?"

8—Guess who's here?

"Not good, Mr. Voltaire…" the doctor said, shaking his head.

"What is it?"

"I believe he was diagnosed with Juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia when he was younger?"

"Yes indeed." Voltaire replied, eyes flshing dangerously. The doctor gulped and continued, "Well, and he was given the only treatment available? A stem cell transplant?"


"Who's stem cell?"

"Some girl on the list." Voltaire snapped. "Will you stop beating about the bush?"

"Alright," the doctor said, with an air of business, "It looks like his these cells are acting up again. His myeloid cells are becoming cancerous. A count showed much more white blood cells than the norm. And the disease is getting far worse. Unless a new doner could be found... This is a very rare and unlucky occurrence..."

"Sss…" Voltaire let out a hiss of anger. This is infuriating. Of course, Voltaire knew that having a doner whose stem cells are going to produce cancerous cells in a decade's time was so rare, that it was much unheard of. Nobody anticipated this. Especially not Voltaire.

"Fine!" he snapped, with a swish of his cloak, he left the room.

Ice blue eyes fluttered open as he heard the door right above him slam. It must have been Voltaire. Just what is bothering him so?

"Boris is not in the country. Neither had he been here for the past six months. Voltaire has been informed of his grandson's diappearance." Mr. Dickenson announced.

Hang in there Kai, we'll find you soon… Ray thought.

It was too bright. The flouresent light hurt his eyes, but he struggled to adjust. Over in a corner, a man in a white coat was fumbling around, there was the soft clanking of glass on metal. The bed was too soft to be compared to the cold hard floor of the dungeon. His head was even rested on a pillow. So where am I? Kai wondered.


"He's awake Bob," a soft female voice called out. Strange…

There was the shuffling of footsteps, and a man came into focus. I couldn't recognize his uniform as that of a doctor's. This is not a damn hospital! I'm not saved at all! This is Voltaire's fucking laboratory! What have they done to me?

Agitated, Kai struggled to get up.

"Hey, kid, cool it. We're not going to hurt you…"

"That's what you say." Kai snarled. "Where's my grandfather?"

"He… was rather uptight, thus he left…" the doctor replied casually, Kai noted.

The red head shifted into a much more comfortable position. Normally, if he strained his ears, he could hear what the people above were talking about. This enabled him to brace himself for any experiments they might intend to carry on him.

"That's what you said."

His head jerked up, his heart began racing. It can't be him… He can't have gotten him!

"TALA!" Voltaire yelled, bursting into his cell.


Each time he gets mad, he takes his frustrations out on me. I thank Kai for waking up at this very moment, at least I'm spared, for the moment. Voltaire must have been preoccupied, he'd left the door to my cell open, giving me a golden chance to escape. Carefully, I picked my way across the slippery wet floor. There was nobody in the hallway, so I sneaked out…

Tala had only reached the second dungeon cell when thundering footstep echoed above him. He panicked. If Voltaire, or any one of his numerous servants came down now, he had no place to hide, he was completely exposed. Tala scuttled into the second dungeon cell. The footsteps died away, there was no hint of anyone descending the steps to the dungeon. Voltaire had returned to his room.

"I'm going out to settle some matters. Keep an eye on my grandson. Leave the red-head alone. Don't even bring him food," the eminent voice of Voltaire drifted like music into Tala's sharp ears. Leave me alone? Sure… Tala waited a good ten minutes after he heard the car on the porch drive off, before moving upstairs, to see Kai. Why Kai was kept in the laboratory worried Tala. Either he was too injured, or they were going to perform another of their nasty experiments. If it were the latter, he had to stop it. But surely, Voltaire wouldn't let his own grandson be a guinea pig?

Since he regained consciousness, Kai had been bombarded with questions by the man who was supposedly called Bob. He was interested in the exterior works of Voltaire. After must persistence, Kai had made him swear never to tell anyone else, before pouring out all the secrets of BioVolt. Bob, was horrified. He pressed further and convinced Kai that he wished to help him escape. Kai, thinking he had nothing to lose, decided to trust the man.

A slight shifting in the corridor made the two of them jump. Voltaire? Hadn't he gone out? Bob got up meticulously and crossed over to the door. He pulled it open. Empty. On his left were the usual stacks of spoilt equipment packed in boxes, arranged neatly as always. Other than that, there wasn't a sign of life. Just when that though crossed his mind, a flash of red among the boxes made him reconsider.

"Excuse me?" he asked hesitantly.

After a pregnant pause, the head came into view. It was another boy, no older than Kai himself. This must be the other one… Bob assumed. The one Voltaire intended him to test the experiments he developed on. He only followed orders, and the mechanisms were not ready yet.

"Is Kai...?" the boy asked tentatively, hoping the surprised and non-menacing look of the doctor is not deceptive.

He had a slightly timid tone, face full of foreboding.

"Sure, sure…" Bob said, ushering him in, not registering the fact that it is the wrong. This is the other captive, Bob noted.

"Tala?" Kai groaned in defeat, "Great, just great." This was getting more complicating than he thought.

"What happened Kai?" Tala asked, worry written all over his face, as he studied Kai's bruises with those ice blue eyes. Bob tried to intervene, but Kai flashed him a fleeting glance of alarm, and Bob remained quiet. Tala did not seem to notice this.

Kai, with his purple and red bruises lining up almost every part of his body, and his already faded face paint, Tala, with his usually well kept hair, flopping all over his face, and some healed scabs on the visible parts of his flesh. They stared… and stared.

"Look, we need to escape." Kai snapped up suddenly. Tala was shocked, he turned to look at Bob, the doctor/scientist.

"I'm here to help, kid, don't worry…" Bob assured, slightly reliving the panic in Tala's eyes.


"Get out while you can, while we can actually." Bob replied.

"We? Since when were you coming? You made it sound so easy." Kai scoffed.

"You're in no condition to—"

"Fine, fine, whatever." Kai interrupted impatiently.

"What is it now? What are you trying to hide, Kai?" Tala asked, narrowing his eyes at the slate haired boy.

"We're running out of time, I've found a secret route to one of the back doors in this mansion. It was unguarded and abandoned... When I last saw it, that is..."

"Are you sure?"

"The builder of this mansion had to leave escape routes hadn't he?"

And that was when another nosebleed appeared.

The two nurses, Bob, Kai and Tala, all left by the backdoor. They had decided that it was safest, if everyone involved left together. As they opened the door to bright sunlight, they met their first set-back. The door was extremely rusty, thus it creaked a great deal. Bob tried to make it as less painful as possible, by thrusting the whole metal block outwards. This resulted in a high pitched squeak.

"OVER THERE! WHO IS IT!" a burly guard shouted, as four others, big and bulky in size gave chase. The foursome's eyes widened in dismay, and they fled.

"AH!" Kai shouted, as one of the guards grabbed a hold of him.

"KAI!" Tala shouted, attempting to go back. He had a good head start, but the next guard was almost with reaching distance. With a great shove, Bob pushed Tala over, urging him to move on, while he darted back to save Kai.

"Get… OFF me……" Kai snarled.

Bob raced up, he kicked the first man in the knee, his kickboxing skills coming back. The man stumbled and lost grip, giving Kai enough time to fit his shoe on the man's face. He was momentarily stunned. The other guard was dragging Kai further away. With a swift punch, Bob knocked the man out, and Kai was finally released.

"NOW GO!" Bob yelled, chasing after him. Kai didn't need telling twice. He sped off as fast as he could. Meanwhile, one of the guard had recomposed himself. He lunged forward at the closest person, knocked him out and dragged him back. Bob was captured.

Kai managed to catch up with the other three, then, they had reached the police station.

"Kai…"Tala panted heavily, noticing how white Kai looked.

And Kai collapsed.

9—The price of not telling is going back

"Hello? Is this Dickenson from the BBA?"

"Speaking. May I help you?"

"We received a call from a boy named Tala, he claims to have Kai, our target search."

Everyone hitched a breath. Had Kai finally been found? Mr. Dickenson turned to watch the expressions on each of the remaining BladeBreakers' face, his hands were shaking with excitement.

"S'cuse me?"

"Sorry, where is he?" he asked breathlessly.

"He's being held in hospital in Southern Japan. We'll give you the details in a minute."

Tala was slumped on the couch, not far from Kai's bed. He'd been seen to, pronounced fine, and left alone. He didn't answer when the doctors asked for identity, instead, he made a call to the police station, praying that Kai's disappearance was reported.

"Tala?" Kai murmured, noticing the furious shade of red from the corner of his eyes. Tala's eyes snapped open, he leaped out of the couch and went across the room, to Kai's side.

"Are we safe yet?" he asked.

"I guess so… Listen, I called the police. They contacted the BladeBreakers, I expect they'd be here, soon."

"Great." Kai muttered sarcastically, "just what I needed, them to see me in this state. As if the last time wasn't enough."

"What last time?"

Kai froze for a second, and turned to Tala with a quizzical look.

"What last time? When were you in hospital?" Tala repeated, eyes narrowing to slits.

"Pretend I never said a word." Kai sighed and shut his eyes. He was sick of going through this again, the questioning, the answering, the shock, the silence, and finally, the part he loathed most, the pity. Wouldn't it be better if I just died?

Tala knew better to ask more. Kai was laden with fatigue, malnourishment and the pallor of his face made him look like a ghost. Exposed scars and the troubled look he possessed only made his appearance more appalling then it ever was. He only bit his lower lip, and retreated to the couch.

"We're leaving for Japan, the next plane takes off in an hour. Go pack some stuff for a couple of days. Hurry!" Mr. Dickenson said. They've never seen him in such a flustered state before, and shrugged as they moved to their respective rooms.

An hour and a half later, Mr. Dickenson and the BladeBreakers arrived at the third hospital Ray visited the past six months. Tala was waiting for them expectantly by the counter, when they approached, he gestured for them to follow, turned his heels and strode down the corridor.

"Oh god, Kai?" Ray gasped at the sight of his white-washed friend he hadn't seen for weeks.

"Go away." Kai said, and turned to Tala, (In Russian) "Why did you bring them here?"

Tala didn't answer, and left.

"Kai, where have you been? Who beat you? We're going to make a police report." Mr. Dickenson asked, full of concern.

"No!" Kai said suddenly, making the others turn to stare.

"Why not?"

"He kidnapped you Kai!"

"He didn't, drop it, please." Kai said, with an almost pleading tone to his voice. He was overwhelmed by his past, irrational fear of his grandfather.


I can't tell them. I have no idea why. My grandfather caused me so much pain and terror and I wanted to protect his reputation! How low can I sink? Do I really enjoy that sadistic bastard's torture?

You don't, you're just too cowardly to admit the abuse. You can't stand what the others may think of you after that.



"Who're you calling?" Kai questioned suspiciously as he watched Mr. Dickenson speak discreetly to the phone.

"Kai, we'll inform your grandfather that you've been found, don't worry, I'm sure he's anxious."

10—On the Edge of Chaos

Kai's eyes widened with shock.

"Oh, alright then, I'll call back later." Mr. Dickenson replied and turned to look at Kai mildly. A frown creased on his forehead.

"Kai? … Kai? Are you alright?"

Whatever colour that was once in Kai's face drained out. He was breathing heavily, with his mouth slightly agape.

"Don't call him. Whatever you do, don't call him. He mustn't know…" Kai breathed incoherently. A doctor stepped into the room, took one look at Kai and said, "His under distress. I suggest you leave, for the moment."

They filed out of the room, as each cast a puzzled glance back at their team captain.

"DON'T CALL HIM!" Kay yelled.


What did I do? What did I do? I just lost control. 'You'll pay for it! I'll find you… And you'll pay, HORRIBLY.' His grandfather's voice rang clearly in his head.

"Relax, kiddo… No one's here to harm you. They can't hurt you anymore…" the doctor soothed, as he inserted the needle into Kai's arm. His breathing slowed, and he laid back onto the pillows propped behind. He felt immensely tired, but each time he closed his eyes, he saw the face of his grandfather, looming right in front of him, livid with anger…

"What did I do?" Mr. Dickenson paced the corridor, his head occasionally turned to the door of the ward. At the sixth turn, it clicked open.

"Trauma," the doctor replied before Ray could get a word out of his mouth, "It would be best if you just let him rest for the time being. Good day to you."

Their eyes followed the retreating back of the doctor.

"You should know better than to call up Voltaire," someone hissed behind them. Heads spun around to greet fiery red hair ice blue eyes, now so cold and furious, and a shadowed face.

"What does that mean, Tala?" demanded Tyson.

"He left you so many clues, and you can't even guess?" asked Tala, each word dripping with rage.


They're still clueless, I could almost see question marks written above their heads. Innocent kids with no idea what kind of horror some people went through. Even the adult hasn't figured it out. Should I tell them?

"Why did you bring them here?"

He's mad enough at me. Maybe he should do the explaining instead.


I can guess. From the resentment I picked out in Kai's voice whenever the name Voltaire was mentioned, I could draw out a possible explanation for those freshly acquired bruises on Kai's body. But I can't bring myself to believe it… That there is a chance, that Voltaire abuses his grandson.

I watched Tala with suspicious eyes, hoping he would put my deduction into a wrong answer. Why doesn't he tell us? He's putting Kai in danger…

Tala sighed despairingly, as he entered to ward. Those who doesn't know, remains in the dark. For the one who guessed, he'd have to let Kai confirm his suspicion.

Kai was fighting the sleep that was so inviting, when the person he wanted to see most, appeared.

(Their conversation goes in Russian. So as to prevent eavesdroppers)

"I think your friend, Ray has some idea what happened to you."

"Does he?"

"Do you intend to… let them know?"


"There's no time left Kai, that Dickenson will call Voltaire any minute, then we're doomed."

"You are, I already am..." Kai replied, words chilling every fibre of Tala.

"There's a lot of things you're not telling me… Like, for instance, you're sick." Tala prompted. Garnet eyes met ice blue ones, shimmering under the light. Kai blinked, it was gone. His jaws clenched and unclenched, then he said in barely audible voice, "I'm not just sick Tala... I..."

"I'm dying…"

He pulled the covers up on him, laid down in bed, and closed his eyes, willing sleep to engulf him. It's funny, how when you try to resist something, it wouldn't let you go, and when you try to surrender, it doesn't take you.

"Should we call Voltaire?"

"No." Ray said protectively.

"I mean… Not yet…"

"Why not?" Max asked.

"I think Kai would explain this to us."

Four hours later…

"Kai, mind telling us what's going on?"

"Keep quiet, and we'll call Voltaire. So, spit it out." Ray said, slightly harsher than he meant to. Kai tired eyes reflected defeat. There was no way he'd let Voltaire catch up with them right now. Because he'd drag Tala with him. And Tala's not the one who is dying in six months time. He took a cautious sip of water, stared right ahead, and told of his story.

One month had passed since Kai's confession. They were safely back in China. Voltaire was fighting for his case in court for Bob's confession and accusations. They felt bad for Bob, as he, too would go to jail, since he'd developed illegal drugs and performed unauthorized operations on minors under Voltaire's orders. However, there was still hope for him as he had been lied to on the intentions of the drugs. For the moment, Kai stayed over at Ray's place.

Under the doctor's prescription, Kai had to take a variety of medication, to treat the wounds his grandfather inflicted. They left him weak, nauseous, and most unfortunately, unable to make a proper launch on his blade. It was miffing Kai, but he didn't show it.

They were settled in the village. It wasn't a big one, but there were several spots which were rather empty. Kai liked hanging around these spots.

"That's him, their team captain," whispered a raven-haired girl, no older than fourteen. A grin planted itself on her face magically. This was no welcoming grin. Her brown eyes flashed with danger and malice.

"Ready for some ass-kickin'?" she turned to look at two other boys.

"You bet." He whispered.

11—What if…

I just need this to be all right
I can't feel this another night


I merely wanted fresh air. Staying in that house for so long clogs up my mind. It has been three weeks since I was here. And I haven't touched my blade. They were keeping it from my sight, hid it somewhere in the sneaky abode of Ray's. They didn't want me to participate in the final tournament, the arrangement would maintain the usual, Max, Ray, then Tyson. Me? I'm just the spare… What's the point of being team captain if you aren't allowed to blade, and the only permits was to get trapped in a house?

There was a slight rustle coming from the bush ahead, a twig snapped then a gasp. Clumsy idiots? They're spying on me… I tensed, and paused in my tracks. Whoever they are, they must be indecent. I could feel the hostility in the air.

I can't take this I've come unglued
I just need this to be alright
I can't feel this another night

"Now!" a high pitch girlish voice resounded in the air.

The same bush rustled more violently this time, and three grey figures leaped out onto the ground. Only one… went directly for Kai. It plummeted on his chest causing them both to topple over. Kai caught one glance of the figure, cloaked heavily and masked. But a girl no doubt. A punch sent his mind spinning and head to throb more continuously.

Something sharp tore through his senses, leaving slight droplets of blood to ooze out from the left side of his face. The girl's talon like nails had grazed his left cheek.


Kai was lifted agonizingly off the ground, as another figure pulled kept a firm grasp on his hair. Kai kicked intensely, fighting against the firm hold the guy had on him. The pain was nothing, he'd had too much of it to feel anymore. But humiliation? A jolt on his head, the guy swung him, and threw him across onto the bar trunk of the tree.

THUD. Kai slid a couple of inches down onto the floor, too shaken to get up.

"How does that feel? Does it hurt? Ooo… We're so sorry… Maybe—" the girl mocked.

"Hurt? Does it hurt? Are you kidding? If you're trying to give me the hell of a time, you're doing a substandard job…" Kai replied just as scornfully. Her mask twisted, and Kai knew he'd touched a nerve.

"So you think you're… you're…" she couldn't find a word to replace it, causing a twisted smile to form on Kai's lips.

"What are you smirking at!" she yelled furiously.

"I've had worse…" he hissed, just as one of the guys advanced on him, with a stick in his hands. Before he could react, the bat was swung, he was struck to the ground, totally winded. A kick and another impact on his head. It was throbbing hard…

I can't take this I've come unglued
I just need this to be alright
I can't feel this another night

"WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING!" he heard a shout, it was equally unfamiliar… That was before the swirling darkness pulled him in.

"That was the most ludicrous nonsense I've heard from you, Xu Qing! Attacking their team captain? And you two! Don't think you're off the hook. This is wrong, we're not supposed to hurt anyone of them! I only asked you to keep watch on their training. If it happens again, you're out of my team!"

A tear trickled down the girl's china face. She had only intended to please her leader, yet, he reprimanded and humiliated her in front of the other team mates. She'd hope it would improve their chances if the Bladebreakers were injured…

"Wake up… Don't scare me Kai… Wake up…" Ray shook the limp form of the slate haired teen.

"Don't sweat it Ray, we found a pulse, remember?"

"Who could've tried attacking him?"

"No idea…" Ray replied dejectedly. They laid Kai down on the thin mattress, and placed an icy cold, damp towel on his forehead.


I can't take this I come unglued
I might breakdown in front of you
Necessary to medicate
I'm not sleeping, can't stay awake

I could hear them, but I can't bring myself to open my eyes. Right now I'm a pathetic mess. My throat is tight, it's hard to breathe, can't tell if my emotions are to going to betray me if I open those eyes. You can't trust anything, not even yourself. Please leave me alone…


After the 'Kai Attack', our 'surveillance team' kept a low profile for most part of three months. But as the tournament date drew ever so close, mishaps started to take shape. The most significant, being the near theft of dizzy. Just what did these people want from us? They thought Kai was playing, so they injured him. They knew Tyson was in the game, they tried destroying his beyblade. They watched my every move with such close scrutiny that they may as well be the air that surround us. Why would these people want so much information on us? To improve our opposing team's chances of winning?

Can't see through this
Too much pressure
Drowning in this
Too much pressure

"What are you doing down here…" Ray asked, standing by the balcony, now gazing at Kai.

"Can't sleep."

"You haven't been sleeping well…" Ray said softly, turning to face Kai, whose features are shadowed in the partial darkness.


"What's wrong?"

If you need me I'll be here
Half unconscious to escape my fear

If they weren't shrouded by darkness, Ray would have noticed Kai's muscles tense, his jaw rigid, and his eyes turn dark. He seemed to be contemplating.


Kai screwed his eyes shut, unaware of his soft rapid breathing. Stop pestering me… Why do you always have to appear in my life?

"Go to sleep Kai…" Ray said unsurely, squinting at Kai, who had sat down on the patch of grass under the tree.

There was a long awkward pause, as Ray stared into the darkness. Then a slight movement in the shadows, Kai came into the moonlight, he walked past Ray into the house.

"You should have a good rest..."

"I might never wake up," he whispered.

"Why do you say that?" Ray gasped back, spine tingling.

I can't take this I've come unglued
I might breakdown in front of you

Kai took a deep breath to calm himself down. Ignore. I didn't say anything. Nothing… I'm going to sleep. I will wake up tomorrow. I'll perfect that curve and utilize it on the match… … … Just give me two more weeks… Please… I can't go now…

"Kai!" Ray said, a little louder this time. He grabbed Kai by the shoulder, and forced him to face. A flash of hopelessness flashed through those crimson orbs now dark brown in the dim light. He shoved off Ray's hand and strode into the house.

"What are you afraid of, Kai?"

What if I never wake up? If I don't leave soon, I'm not sure how much more of my fears will I be confiding in him. I can't sleep, but I'm too tired to stay awake… He closed his eyes as soon as he heard footsteps approaching.

Necessary to medicate
I'm not sleeping, can't stay awake

Can't see through this
Too much pressure
Drowning in this
Too much pressure

The night before the tournament, everyone turned in for a good night's rest. Tyson's sprained ankle was healing fast, though he would not be in top condition to face his opponent, he was at least, in condition.

"Who's that?" Ray shot suspiciously at the presence.

"Me," came the reply.

"Kai? What are you doing awake?"

Hushed silence filled the air, leaving Ray in confusion. 'I might never wake up.' He'd clean forgotten it since the night two weeks ago. Is that what that's haunting Kai? Ray thought.

My head hurts this shit isn't getting me high
My chest is so tight am I going to die
My stomach's in knots and the room starts to spin
As I wait for this valium to slowly kick in

It was his head that was hurting him. Another headache… It's bound to get worse in a couple of minutes. He rummaged through the kitchen cupboard where he knew Ray kept the pills.

"Looking for these?" Ray asked, reaching his hands into the lower shelves and retrieving a yellowing bottle.

"Yeah," Kai replied, as Ray passed it to him, "thanks."

"It's bothering you?"


"No?" Ray prompt.

He knew he was getting somewhere, as he watched Kai raise the glass of water to his lips and pause. A moment later, he gulped down the water and said, "Stay out of this will you? You're breathing down my neck, and I hate that." His phobia with sleep was now gone, replaced by a gnawing yearn to shut Ray off his sight. He stormed to the bedroom, and flopped down on the thin mattress, head still aching. Footsteps again…

"Kai… "

"Alright, listen, if you're still awake, go to sleep. You'll wake up, you definitely will, ok? I know you're tired, so please, don't do this to yourself, go sleep…"

Can't see through this
Too much pressure
Drowning in this
Too much pressure


12—I want to be alone

"Right, the arrangement goes as follows… Max's up first, followed by Ray, then Tyson. No changes…" Mr. Dickenson trailed off, peering into each boy's face. He stopped on Kai's indifferent stare.

"Unless Kai wants to have a shot."

Everyone turned to him. Kai contemplated this carefully, even though he had been thinking about it for awhile now.

"It's not a bad idea… You could face off their leader you know…" Tyson said.

"My last shot…"

"Don't say that!"

Silence… It was mutual understanding that the statement was the simple truth.

"Ok…… So I'll have to change the arrangement before submission… You still have three days boys… Good luck… I'll be out of town." Mr. Dickenson said.

"Ready?" a solemn Tyson asked as he looked at the clock for the umpteenth time.

They were congregated in a small room. Once they hear their team name called, they would have to leave the room and face the final match of the tournament. The mood was tense in the room. They knew to cherish these moments. They may never have another match like this again.

"Yeah," came the replies.


"Yeah, Kai?" Ray inquired.

"I… want to thank you guys… For showing me… that somebody cares…" he said awkwardly.

"Why ar—" Ray started but was cut short—

"Facing them off… Iiiiss… Our former world champion team, the BladeBreakers!"

Cheers rang from every corner of the stands. Fans were shouting themselves hoarse as the BladeBreakers walked into view. The opposing team's supporters made themselves heard with the hisses. The exuberance of the audience would never touch them now. There was something important about this match. It was a solemn one. They wanted to make it the best for Kai.

Ray gulped. He was up first. Walking up to the platform was a girl is pale blue overalls. She looked confident. She rang a bell in Kai's mind. Who is she? He wondered uncomfortably.

Ray set his mouth in a grim line. I'm gonna wipe that smirk off your face.

Tyson smiled as he came back from round two. They'd cleared the first two rounds, seating them comfortably in the winning seat. It had been a narrow win as the second opponent was tougher. Still, he had lived to his reputation and won the match. The final match was now just a showdown between the team captains. Either Kai clinch them an all win, or their opponents, the Sabres, defeat Kai and lighten the disappointment from their supporters.

"I'm sorry what happened last time… "


Then it dawned on him, why did the girl and boys look to familiar…


"But let's not show mercy here…"

"One. Let it RIP!"

"Urh!" Kai launched his blade into the dish. A dark whirl of green landed right on top of his blade.

"Dranzer… throw him off with fire arrow!"

Fiery orange shot up from the disk. The other blade was thrown into the air. But dropped back into the dish with perfect balance. The boy smirked, "Cats hardly fall bad…"

It was only the first few minutes into the game, but Kai felt drained. He shut his eyes for a moment, then opened them again, waiting for the dizziness to pass.

"Now, Dorsel! Get'im!"

With amazing speed, the blade emmited a grey form above it and rush at Kai's blade.


It was the only thing Kai could think of, other than his altering vision. The boy was stunned. He'd expected it to be countered. He studied Kai warily, the Kai with his eyes screwed up and teeth gritted.

Amazingly, it worked. The dark green blade swerved at the attack, but got rammed into the wall by the phoenix. The cat was scalded.

They blades chased each other with amazing speed and agility for awhile more before Kai took his chance. Dranzer attacked, flying high into the sky and rained down on Dorsel with an unexpected Spiral arrow. It was so fast that his opponent did not see it coming. His attack pinned the other blade to the side of the dish, before moving away, spinning merrily.

The other beyblade rubbed sparks off the walls of the huge dish before it clattered to a stop.

Kai hardly noticed he had won as he took deep calming breaths and opened his eyes, clearing his pounding head. It was over. The boy smiled. But not even winning a match could lift his spirits now. Every twinge of pain scared him.

"My name's Tze Long, hope to see you 'gain." He turned and left.

You won't be…

Kai was deaf to the fanatical screams. My last match… He bent down to pick up the still spinning blade. Pocketed it and walked out of the arena.

The team found him sitting glumly in the bus, staring into thin air. Throughout the bus ride, he remained quiet. Even Tyson did not dare break the silence, thus allowing Kai to have a short rest. The bus pulled to a stop outside their hotel. Everyone bounded down the steps. Everyone except Kai that is, he strolled off in another direction.

"Hey! Kai! Where are you going?"

"Take a walk. I… Never mind. Bye." Kai replied.

They didn't know the significance…


He was feeling weary, even after the rest he'd taken in the bus. He leaned his hands on the cool balcony railings at the roof top of the hotel. It was such a fine day… He lifted his hands to examine the almost healed cuts and wounds he had sustained months ago. They took so long to heal...

A cool breeze sent Kai trembling a little. The tranquility led his thoughts astray, as he ventured into topics he hadn't dared to think about for quite awhile.


Why do I have that feeling… That whatever I do today, is of the ultimate importance in my life? Why do I have the feeling… That I if I ever want to show my gratitude to those who supported me through, it is today? Why do I have the feeling… That it's my last chance, and if I'd wanted to complete something, it had to be today? Does everyone have a premonition before they leave? Is this my last day?

"Take a walk. Bye."

The words tasted bitter in my mouth, something foul… Perhaps I am too apprehensive...

But he could not deny to himself that he had been feeling weaker of late. He was less focused, tire more easily and experience more headaches.

It was getting chilly as he left his stance by the rails. Perhaps it was the bus ride, perhaps something else that was making him nauseous. He decided to get back and have a lie down.

Meanwhile, the others were lounging in Tyson's room, creating a din, and being overly exuberant now that any amount of noise wouldn't disturb Kai. All, except Ray, that is. He alone had been counting the months. It had been an hour since Kai wandered off. These days, he'd been precarious with Kai, his whereabouts, whether he felt sick, or just the thought of him. It was implausible that someone who'd been so close would soon be taken to an unreachable realm…

Kai felt like puking again. He felt drained just by making his way down to the lift. As he stood by the lift doors, waiting for it to open, he felt the trickle of cold sweat running down his forehead. He was afraid… Open up…

Ray couldn't stand it anymore. He went back to his room and peeked. Kai wasn't there yet… He sighed with frustration. Maybe I should look for him? He thought. Guess I'll wait awhile longer…

He didn't have to wait for long. The sounds of scrambling reached his ears, as the door was thrown open, the scarf trailed with the figure into the bathroom and disappeared as the sounds of somebody being sick reached his ears. Startled, Ray went to inspect. It was Kai alright, by then, he had one hand on his forehead to stifle the ache.


"Leave me alone!" he growled. It was bad enough finding Ray in the room. He didn't want sympathy. Not from the others, and particularly Ray, for he had seen him… 'weak'.

Taken aback, Ray retreated from the bathroom door, and stood dumbly outside instead. There was flush of the toilet, the tap, and Kai emerged, water dripping from his face. He avoided Ray's eyes as he strode to the single bed at the corner. He laid down lightly, and turned to face the wall. Ray was exasperated. He left the room.

"Hey, shouldn't it be time we get Kai to wake up? It's dinnertime… He should eat…"

"Yeah…" Ray agreed. He led the quartet to his room. Kai shifted.

"Kai?" Ray whispered as he shook him gently. His eyelids fluttered open, thick with… sleep? Amber eyes filled with bleakness met his eyes.

"Dinner. You want to get up?"

Nod. Knowing that Kai would not want help, they left him to his own devices, Ray watching from the corner of his eyes, warily. Kai got up, swayed a little, his eyes lost focus, and darkness crashed around him.

"KAI!" Tyson yelled.

They rushed him to hospital as quickly as they could summon an ambulance. He was running yet another fever.

"Let him be okay… let him be okay…" Ray prayed as they tailed the ambulance.

He was sitting in confusion on the plastic chairs outside a firmly shut door, worried sick. It's not time yet... No... Let him wake up like thrice before...

"Ray… C'mon, you gotta eat something…" Max urged.

Ray shook his head. He felt as if he'd been turned inside out. Cold gripping fear seeped into his very soul. He daren't breathe…

"Excuse me… Mr. Dickenson?" A white coated man approached the old man. He nodded.

"Well… We're sorry to say, Kai has slipped into a coma… I'm afraid… There's no waking up…"

A tear trickled down Ray's cheek.



Six weeks had passed. Six hopeless weeks.

There's no waking up…

No, I refuse to believe in that. He has to wake up… He can't just… leave.

We were due back home three weeks ago. Max had left, and recently so had Kenny, both unable to endure with the fruitless wait any longer. To tell the truth, none of us could. Seeing Kai's already frail condition deteriorate further was hard to swallow. Even more so when they had to deal with the sight of his etiolated appearance. Tyson? He wouldn't go into the ward anymore.

"Boys, I know it's hard, but you have to realise, that even if Kai wakes, it would be hell for him. He'll feel pain beyond description."

The fact that Kai was dying, was immensely difficult to sink in, but it finally did. We stopped praying for his survival long ago. Now we could only wish, for Kai to go soon, and be in peace.

He was no longer on life support or any I.V. drips. Only the heart monitor machine remained in the room.

It was morning. It was bright. It was lively. The birds were singing, oblivious. It was not a day for distress. It was for play. But Kai wasn't there to enjoy it with what remained of the Bladebreakers still in the country. And the two were in no mood to notice the weather either.

Once again, Tyson had accompanied Ray to the hospital—faithfully, everyday. It was another empty, forlorn and crude day. They would come, lounge around, succumb to depressing thoughts, then leave, feeling as empty and miserable as before. A pointless routine.

They should've been at home, enjoying the soil, the holidays. Relaxing, and keeping in touch. Only now, they couldn't. Even though Kai was not one they'd kept in touch with. The only thing they could've dreaded was the school term. Certainly not this, the death of a friend. A person they'd looked up to for directions when they were fretful and couldn't think. They called everyday now.

"Tyson!" Ray burst out of the room, sighting the despondent navy haired boy. It couldn't be… Tyson looked up, and all hope he had just attained flushed and was immediately replaced by trepidation and a surge of bad premonition. Without hesitation, Tyson barged into the ward he had not stepped in for a month.

Though slight, but his features still told, of the pain he was going through. And though unnoticeable, they knew, that his very life was trickling away like fine sand on spread fingers. They watched with mounting horror, like a helpless person, petrified in the middle of rushing traffic, watching the inevitable and knowing they would never be able to stop it.

Beeeeeeeeeeep. (a/n: LMAO)

The world stood still for the two still in the room.

It has happened.

"No." Ray choked.


A blue beyblade dropped from the bedside table. The bit chip fell out.

A hand was placed on Ray's shoulder. Tyson. Tears were flowing freely down his cheeks.

Did anyone say that when you die, you have a peaceful look?

Because that was certainly not true.

In this moment of anguish, all they could decipher from his face was… nothing. He was just lifeless. Like he had been for the past forty two days. He'd half expected Kai to open his eyes, but that did not happen. Why is reality always so cruel? Kai never deserved what he got. He was worthy of something much better. But he is some place better now. Far from the clutches of Voltaire, from mortal life.

He now lives immortally—in their hearts.

The call to the others had not been easy. It was a thorny issue, to inform the others, to be agonized and euphemistic at the same time. They didn't take it well either, stirring up another round of torment.

The funeral took place in Japan. For Russia had brought him too much sorrow.

"Kai wanted you guys to have this." Mr. Dickenson said, presenting them Dranzer's chip, "he said you could decide what you wanted to do with it. It'll be a… waste, he said, if you were to… put it with him."

"Right, thanks."

He knew Kai wouldn't want them to be so sad. Kai didn't want people to be negatively affected by him. He should be happy now that Kai doesn't have to live in fear and pain now.

How can I sing when my words have run dry?

How can I smile with a tear in my eye?

Summer's so lost when it's raining in June.

That's how it feels, when I'm missing you.

(When I'm missing you – a1)

A year later, another tournament, another championship. Only difference, they were one short from before. They hardly spoke anymore, but they remembered, all that they've been taught, to learn from your mistakes, and to be resilient. And to stay calm. But it was never the same.

It was the day of the finale. Their opponents were tougher, more roguish.

Ray placed his hand out, "For Kai."

The rest followed suit, "For Kai.", heads bowed in silence. They would win this. They wouldn't let him down.

And somewhere far above, someone smiled.

Although I'm gone, remember me

Please be strong, I'll never leave.

Just hold on, to the memories,

Cuz while I'm here, all I'm thinking about is


(Tomorrow – a1)

End of Story