Title: Crimson's Child
Authoress: Ladya C. Maxine
Summary: see chapter one
Warnings: see chapter one
Disclaimer: I do not own Beyblade or any of its characters. Any and all unrecognizable characters belong solely to me and are not to be used without my permission. I am not making any money off this and I write with the sole intent to entertain.
A/N: Okay, this is just weird. I didn't forget about this story like last time, but I kept putting it off and I didn't even realize that it's been almost 2 years since I last updated it! Where the hell did the time go?!?!
And another thing: this story was in desperate need of editing! Reading it through today, I was downright embarrassed by the mistakes!
Bad news: the sequel to Resurfacing has been cancelled. I've taken on way too many new stories and I also feel that the story has already been told for the most part and it'd be nothing more than a retelling. Really sorry, guys, but the decision is final.
He couldn't believe it. He was doing it. He was leaving his home!
It'd been a week since he'd decided on doing so. He'd been scared, mostly. Scared of what would happen to him. Scared that things would go wrong. Scared that the others would somehow figure it out and punish him, especially his mother or Fritz. Most of all, he was scared that it wouldn't make a difference. That terrified him. If this didn't work, then what would?
He'd spent the whole day in his mother's bedroom. He didn't know why. She'd grabbed him that morning and brought him there, leaving him on the bed while she sat on the floor in the corner. They'd said nothing to each other until she'd called him over to her. Was it instincts? It felt as if she knew that he was going, but she didn't mention anything or berate him. He'd sat in her lap for hours as she held him, muttering to herself how she hated them all. She'd been out most of the night before and had returned home stinking of man's cologne but with no man, surprisingly.
"This is all I have…" she'd mourned, rubbing their cheeks together tenderly. "You brats and a dead-end job. I hate it. I hate you." She'd stroked his cheek, pinched it hard, then stroked it again. "I hate each and every one of you…I wouldn't miss any of you if you died…Would you miss me if I died?"
"I don't want you to die, mama," he'd said softly, the thought making his heart constrict. "I don't want you to be sad."
"Then you should have died at birth, you little punk." She'd sighed and hugged him to the point of it being painful. "I could get money for your deaths…Lots of money…"
"Would you…kill us, mama?"
"Maybe not you," she'd said, running a hand through his hair, gently undoing the knots with her fingers. "I need you to get me my stuff; Jacob won't give them to any of the others except Fritz, and he'd take it all for himself. No, you're my little retriever. And you're not registered; you don't officially exist to the law. You dieing would bring in more trouble than cash."
With that she'd pushed him out of her lap, stood, changed and left for her job. Her touch and words, though they had inflicted pain and hurt too, lingered on him and he missed them. They hadn't cuddled like that in months…and they were never going to do so again, if he succeeded in his plans.
"I'd miss you if you die, mama," he now whispered into empty space. "I'll miss you a lot."
Mama was the only one who had an intact mirror, which leaned against the wall. He stood before it, staring at himself. His hair was no longer tangled, thanks to mama. His cheek was red where she'd pinch him but for the rest he looked okay. And his clothes weren't torn or too dirty; they were new, presents that mama had given him for his last trip to town. He'd gotten thinner, though. And he'd get headaches from lack of food, but they never lasted more than a day. He wanted to make a good first impression. If he showed up looking ragged and filthy they could turn him away out of disgust.
"Here we go," he encouraged himself, pulling on Kai's jacket, which he had painstakingly looked after all this time. "I can do this…"
He descended the stairs, minding the hole in one of the steps that Griselda had made when she'd stomped upstairs after a fight with Marie last month. She'd broken her ankle too but since no one took her to the hospital she still limped around with a self-made bandage on her foot. Because the weather was only getting better and better no one was inside. Some were off with their friends while other's were either breaking in to other houses on the street or stealing food from the nearest grocery store.
Stepping out onto the cracked and graphitized sidewalk, he looked back at the house. The ramshackle house that looked near ready to collapse in itself should the wind blow too hard. The broken shutters that hung and creaked on their long rusted hinges. The shattered windows that had never been repaired. The broken steps, the dead lawn, the bad memories.
Walking away was harder than he'd expected it to be. For a split second, he wanted to run back inside, back into mama's bedroom and wait for her to come home and hope that she'd hold him again.
But that's all he'd ever do here: hope. Hope that someone would want to play with him. Hope that someone would talk to him. Hope that he'd find something to eat. Hope that things would get better. He was losing hope of any those of things ever happening. The last thing he could hope for, was a new start.
He ran, refusing to look back one last time. He ran down the street and across the sand lot, stopping when he got too out of breath to keep up the pace. He avoided open areas after that, wanting his departure to go unnoticed, which wasn't so difficult since no one cared where he was going anyway. Only mama would notice him gone when he didn't come when she called him to get her package, and Fritz would be angry too, but neither, he was sure, would put any effort into finding him. Once he got away from the slums, he'd be in the clear.
The sun was setting and the sky behind him was dark purple. It had been a nice day. Cold with a bit of wind, but spring had arrived and the snow had long melted away.
It felt strange, stepping foot inside the forest after three months, but not unfamiliar. He couldn't remember the exact location of the Abbey, but he didn't have to look hard to find the training area: the familiar shouts of the boys and whirs of the beyblades drew him to the edge where he hunkered down behind the bushes. There they were, training in groups while guards surveyed them.
The boys were all wearing nice, matching uniforms of black with sturdy boots. Some looked a bit tousled, but they all had clean faces and managed hair. They looked healthy, well fed and energetic. Not all of them got along, but those who did slapped each others' shoulders in congratulations or when just fooling around. And, most desirable of all, they weren't alone. There wasn't a single one of them sitting off to the side, forgotten and unwanted. Just watching them blading made him smile.
This. This looked so much nicer already.
His plan was to wait and follow them back to the Abbey and find Kai. He thought of showing himself now, but what if the guards turned him away? It would be harder to sneak behind them if they knew he was here. If he could follow them and sneak inside then he could find Kai and everything will be alright. Kai wouldn't let anything happen to him. He didn't dare approach these people now anyway: the boys were all bigger than him and the guards scared him with their stern faces and loud voices.
"Kuznetsov!" one of them barked.
Lying on his tummy, he peeked out from under the bush. To his surprise, it was the pale boy he'd seen the last time. He looked bigger and his hair was shorter but the eyes were unmistakable. At his feet was his opponent, holding his face while blood dripped from between his fingers. Standing around…what was his name again? Boris? No…Bryan? Yeah, that's what they'd called him the last time. Standing around Bryan was an even bigger boy with blond hair and a serious face and a much shorter boy with a ponytail and a nose that was too big for his face.
"What a mess," another guard scowled, coming over as well to inspect the injured blader. "If all you're going to do is attack people with your blade then there's no use for you to practice beyblading, Bryan."
Bryan looked bored, ignoring the scolding adults as he wiped the blood from his blade.
"Bryan, get back to the gates. The rest of you gather your things. We're done for the day."
Wordlessly, Bryan did what he was told. Watching him go, he realized that, if he followed Bryan he'd get to the Abbey sooner and could begin finding a way inside earlier! Creeping after the boy, he didn't have to move fast since Bryan was walking slowly, unbothered and unhurried. It was hard nonetheless since Bryan was walking on a cleared path while he had to walk alongside it, trying to be as silent as possible.
The Abbey loomed into being, its black gates serving better as warnings than welcome. Peeking from around a thick trunk, he wondered if he could find that old guard post with the loose board he had used to escape last time. He'd have to follow the walls to the back and…
He gasped loudly when his was pulled from his hiding place and dropped unceremoniously to the ground. Twisting around, he froze to find Bryan, the very one he'd been following, standing above him. Just like how Kai had caught him. When had the older boy gotten here? He'd only taken his eyes off him for a few seconds to study the Abbey. He'd hurt a wrist during his fall and tested it to find it mildly sprained.
"Um…" he tried. Bryan didn't ask him why he was here or who he was. "I was just…"
Bryan knelt down before him and grabbed the collar of the jacket, stared at it for a moment, then looked up at him. When he didn't get it the other boy tugged at the material.
"This isn't yours," Bryan said. "Where did you get it?"
"Kai loaned it to me," he answered. "I'm going to give it back."
The light eyes bore into his, judging his sincerity. Bryan sat back on his heels with a satisfied look. Interest was beginning to edge its way into his face, replacing earlier suspicion. Before he could investigate further, though, a voice called out to them.
"Hey, whatcha got there, Bryan?" one of the bladers asked, emerging from the trees with a few others. The guards were nowhere in sight.
Bryan didn't reply, just stared at them as they formed a circle around them. The speaker looked down at him where he sat rubbing his sore wrist and nudged him with his foot.
"Where she come from?"
"I'm not a girl," he said softly, edging away from the foot.
The boys around them laughed at the admission.
"You're a boy?! Yeah right! And I'm the president!"
There was nowhere for him to turn; he was surrounded. Someone tugged at his hair and he jumped. The same hand was about to touch his face when another shot out, intercepted it and gave it a vicious twist! Howling, the boy fell to the ground, clutching his arm that dangled in a sickening manner. The others according took big steps back, leaving him and his saviour, who was none other than Bryan. Grateful, he moved closer to the older boy who let him, light eyes burning as he helped him to his feet and moved to stand before him.
"Piss off," Bryan snarled.
By now others had arrived, including the two who seemed to be on better terms with Bryan. Spencer didn't know what was going on but he sided with Bryan, daring any of the boys to get past either of them. He jumped when someone came up on the other side of Bryan but it was only Ian, who was even younger than him, watching him with big eyes.
"Hi," Ian said, ignoring his bigger friends' terrorization of the rest.
"Hi," he answered shyly.
"You're him, right?"
"The one Kai told us about. You got his jacket."
He nodded. "Is Kai here?"
"No. He's at his gramps, but he should be back soon!"
"What the…?! Kuznetsov!" the guard yelled, exasperated, as he came upon the boy and his mangled arm. "It's the dungeons for a week! How many…" He noticed the stranger hiding behind Spencer and Bryan and drew his weapon. "Show yourself!"
Terrified, he hugged Bryan, who didn't look happy but didn't make him let go either.
"Who are you?" the guard insisted to know.
"He's Kai's friend!" Ian spoke up. "If you do anything to him you'll be in big, big trouble!"
The gun lowered and the guards looked at one another. The head guard, the one who kept shouting at Bryan, stepped forward and waved Bryan and Spencer away to get a better look at him. "Stand up."
He did, his knees shaking dangerously. He wasn't inside yet. Were they going to turn him away? He didn't want to go back home. He couldn't! He'd do anything to stay here.
"Can I live here?" he asked.
The request made the men laugh. The other boys either snickered or sniffed in disgust at the thought of having him around them. Ian nodded, as if it were up to him, and Spencer and Bryan looked doubtful.
"We don't take in strays," the guard said. "No matter how cute they are."
"What's the holdup? We are waiting for the results," an annoyed voiced asked behind them. A man in a white coat was standing on the other side of the iron gates, which he was opening with a remote control. "Is someone critically injured, again?"
"Two," a guard said, bringing forward Bryan's victims, "and there's someone here to meet the boss."
"We have no more room," the man said, his glasses perched on his bony nose. "Especially not for a sorry street urchin. Send him away."
"Apparently, he's Kai's mysterious friend."
That made the man in the coat pause in his judgment. "His friend? So this was the one that got away from you months ago when you found Kai in the woods? That does merit some consideration. Inside, everyone. And get those two to the infirmary."
The boys entered in neat rows, some of them helping their injured peers. He tried to stick with his three allies but the head guard had him by the upper arm and steered him away from the rest.
"Bryan!" he shouted, panicking.
He didn't have to call out a second time. The older boy broke rank and was at his side in a heartbeat and he felt infinitely safer. Wrapping his arms around the other's waist, he worried that they'd be forcibly separated, but the guard let him go once Bryan was near.
"Now what?" he asked the man in the coat, the two of them staring down at them. Bryan looked determined and, to make his point, the blader wrapped his arms around him in return, daring the adults to do something about it.
"Don't aggravate him," the man in the coat said. "Bring them to Boris."
Bryan shifted at the name, not unaffected, but he didn't back down.
"Fine," the guard said. "You two, this way. You're going to regret this, kid."
He didn't know who he meant, him or Bryan. A loud creak behind them made his twist his neck to look back as the tall gates clanked shut, locking them in. The thick material of Bryan's clothes felt scratchy against his skin but he hugged the other closer, minding not to accidentally trip him as they walked after the guard. All eyes were on him and he was happy to have what appeared to be the most dangerous boy in the place on his side. It felt a lot like having Kai: safe.
"Thank you," he whispered to the other, daring to let go of his waist and just hold on to an arm.
Bryan didn't reply, though he did look down, head tilted slightly to one side. He was a strange one, but he was someone. He, Ian and Spencer: already he felt better around them than he'd had around anyone since…ever.
He wondered if the Abbey looked less scary during the day; against the night sky the buildings were difficult to tell apart and the torches cast eerie lights and shadows across the high corridors. The floors, walls and ceilings were all of dark grey stones. The doors were made out of dark wood. Winds howled through the halls and over arches, making it appear that the building was mourning. At times he pressed his eyes shut, afraid to look, feeling as if something was following them.
'It's going to be okay,' he told himself. 'It's…different, but once Kai comes back everything will be okay. And Bryan and Spencer and Ian are nice enough. I'll get used to this.'
In one of the highest towers they stopped before a closed door that had an entire hall for its own.
"Sir," the guard called, knocking on the door with his knuckles.
"Yes?" an irritated voice called from within.
He could never forget that voice; the patient yet cold voice that had made Jacob himself tremble. This was who he'd have to convince to let him stay? He almost didn't dare to. But he had to. He'd come this far…
"Sorry to disturb, sir, but we've found the one."
'The one' didn't say much, but he must have been the topic of a lot of talk because Boris' tone changed.
"Have you now? Send him in. Alone."
"You heard him," the guard said to Bryan. "It's about time we get down to your punishment anyway."
Bryan scowled back at the man but pulled his arm free and stepped away. The loss of contact was like a blow to his nerves and he quickly tried to latch on again but the guard took him by the arm and steered him towards the door.
"Get in there," he said. "Boris wants to see you."
"Am I in trouble?" he asked, looking up at the massive door.
"Of course not," the guard said. He didn't sound like he meant it. "You wanted to stay here, right? Then you've gotta convince the boss that you're serious. Not that it's going to be a hard decision…" He chuckled at some private joke. He grabbed the doorknob and pushed it open a bit. "Bryan, let's go."
He wanted to run after them, to get back to Bryan. Standing alone in the big, dark and empty corridor, he felt vulnerable. Bryan didn't look back as he walked. Did that mean that everything was going to be alright? That the older boy felt that he'd be fine without him? Or did he not care?
"Come in," the voice inside the room ordered.
He was scared, but had to obey. As he stepped inside his one sole thought was: Where are you, Kai? That's all he wanted: to see the bluenette again. To see his friend.
"Well, well, well, look what found its way back," Boris, sitting behind a heavy desk, grinned down at him with gleaming eyes.
Despite his belief that this was his last resort, that this was all he had left, that this was the only right thing to do; why did he feel like this…was one big mistake…?
A/N: Alright, making progress here. Now it's time to start tying up the loose ends. Sorry that it's taken so long for me to update this one. Strange enough, it's one of my favourites too! I don't get myself.
Read & Review, please.