Disclaimer: I do not own Beyblade (V-Force or G-Rev), it's characters, or the original plot.

The More Things Change…

By: Tyson Granger

Things were so simple when I was young. 'Train, become a great performer, make a living,' those words ran through my head constantly, driving me. Of course, her presence by my side was more than enough inspiration to improve my own skills, although I could never hope to keep up with her. She quickly put to rest any questions about whom the better of the two of us was. I was fine with that back then, as long as we were together, we were a sight to behold. Her strengths would mask my faults, and those same faults would serve to make her performance all the more impressive. She liked that. That was all that mattered to me.

Having been confined to her shadow for so long, I could not help but revel in her greatness…her perfection. She was beauty incarnate as her performances grew more complex, more intriguing. Her fluid movements, the sweat glistening on her brow as she waved happily to the cheering audience, and the intricate patterns of the ribbons as she performed as served to magnify her very aura, in my eyes, into something reminiscent of a goddess. Neither how nor why I was blessed with her company mattered to me, only that she was near…that we were together.

And then I began to grow up. Suddenly, things began to get so much more complicated. A man named Romero came to us one day, offering us a chance at a different future than the one we seemed so destined to follow. He introduced us to our next big stage…the Beyblade dish. At first, she had been a bit skeptical, and she said that it was only a game…our futures were in the circus. Without even knowing why, for the first time in my life, I felt compelled to speak up against her.

While she doubted whether or not it was wise for us to change our routine, I had no doubts that she would be great. I tried so hard for the next few days to convince her so, but was often met with harsh replies and unforgiving glares. Still, I had so much faith in her talents…she was a goddess amongst mortals in my eyes, after all…I could not help but want her talents to be displayed on a greater stage. If that meant I were to be exploited for the weak link I was, I did not mind…as long as she could succeed.

Finally, after our performance on a night two weeks after Romero had approached us, I decided to spill my guts to her in a final plea to sway her decision. I told her that night how much I admired her talent and her beauty, I swore to her that she would be great, and for the first time I admitted my own weakness. I do not know how I did it, but that night, I think I reached her because in the end, she thanked me and decided to go.

That night, she kissed my cheek. It was chaste, I knew. I blushed anyway. The soft tingle of her full lips upon my cheek would haunt my dreams for years to come. The quiet words she whispered into my ear next, however, would haunt even my waking hours. 'I love you…'

Shortly thereafter we began our training in the art of Beyblading, and just as I had predicted, she took to it like a fish in water. Her swift, powerful moves were the perfect match for my complimentary, slightly less skilled ones. I will admit that I was not entirely terrible at Beyblading, but next to her I would never truly shine. For her, that was okay. She liked it that way. I do not know why, but all of a sudden, that began to bother me.

Romero proved to be a good instructor, teaching us the intricacies of blading, and at the same time allowing us to add our own flare to assuage our performers' nature. We knew that soon…real soon…we would be prepared for true competition. Her confidence in her skills grew by leaps and bounds as we trained, and I was certain that whatever skill I lacked she would more than make up for with her own. Together, we would take on the world. I liked the sound of that.

Sure enough, a few months later we found ourselves in a regional qualifying tournament for the BBA World Championships. Romero said we were plenty ready to win the tournament if we focused and bladed as he taught us. She was skeptical, she even yelled at him for entering us, saying I was not ready for big time competition. I smiled then. She was only looking out for me, and she was right. I was not ready for the tournament…but she was more than ready. Anybody could see it in her eyes…it was the same look she got before a big performance at the circus…when she had that look, you knew you were in for something special.

For the second time in my life, I spoke up against her. I assured her that any faults I still held would surely be overcome by her skill. She said she doubted herself as well, but I promised her that she was ready. I promised her that I would back her up when she needed it…as always. She smiled at me that day, and we went on to win the tournament with ease, her blade delivering the finishing blow to every opponent we faced. The crowd roared for her, and once again I found myself standing off to the side and admiring her perfection as she waved cheerfully to the adoring audience.

That night, we were forced to sleep in a single bed in our hotel room because Romero was short the funds to get us a more expensive suite because he had blown part of the money on a martini at the hotel bar earlier. As we lay facing each other, reminiscing about the day's events, she thanked me for allowing her the chance to showcase her skills to the world…for having faith in her. Then, she kissed my cheek again, whispering those three words that had lain like a thick fog upon my mind in my ear once more. 'I love you…'

I watched her drift to sleep that night with half-lidded eyes, hoping she bought my act of sleep. The truth was, I could not sleep that night. Too many thoughts plagued my mind. I knew I was feeling something that I could not feel. It was a feeling that I neither fully understood nor was prepared to understand. The only thing I knew was that I most certainly should not be feeling it for my sister. And yet, I was.

It was wrong to feel as I did, I knew. People would look down upon me for the feelings I held…they would call me names, laugh at me, think of me as sick…but I did not feel sick. At her side, I felt like I was right where I belonged. When we were apart, I felt incomplete and sometimes, completely empty. Most would have said it was because we were twins, but for some reason, that notion seemed completely ludicrous to me. I knew there was something more there…something deeper. Suddenly, life had become a whole lot more complicated…all I could do was follow her blindly and see where it lead us. I would do that anyway…always, for her.

And follow her I did, clear to the BBA World Championships. I knew that she would be amazing, but it was not until we defeated Tyson Granger, the defending World Champion in a dual match with he and his partner that I realized just how wonderful she had become. I am not even sure she realized it until that match was over. The look on her face said it all…to see her smile the way she did that night in the hotel is all the reason I needed to continue…even if I was struggling to tread water against the competition.

As long as I was beside her, I had always been content to let her be the star, if not totally happy. It is not like I could ever be as great as her anyway. It was not until I heard another group of bladers later that night talking about our team in the hotel that I realized something was truly wrong. I listened from around the corner to the Blitzkrieg Boys as they joked about the way F-Dynasty defeated the BBA Revolution with only one blader…I knew they were talking about her being that one blader. The red-haired one…Tala I think was his name…sneered something about how I was merely a tag-a-long, and that I did not deserve to blade next to someone as skilled as her. I knew I should not have paid any mind to what they were saying. I could not help it though…they struck a nerve, and it hurt.

My whole life I had been content to follow in her shadow, to allow her to be greater than I. All that mattered was that I was right there beside her…and now there were people who wished to deny me even that. I do not know why, but the idea of me not deserving to stand beside her hurt. And it made me angry. I knew I was not a great blader…not nearly as great as her…but for some reason, I had to prove that I deserved to blade beside her. I deserved to be with her.

So it was that I spoke out against her for the third time in my life. But, this time she did not thank me, or kiss my cheek and make me blush. This time she argued with me…yelled at me…told me that I was too weak to blade on my own. I think she was only trying to look out for me, but it only made me want to prove it to her more. To my surprise, it was Romero who came to my defense this time, not her, and it was he who ultimately decided I had earned the chance to prove myself in the dish.

I do not understand why he gave me the chance…surely he knew how dependent I was upon her…but he gave me the chance anyway. So when the day came, I swore I would make the most of it, no matter what. I waited anxiously as she won her match against her opponent from the Barthez Patallion…I think his name was Miguel…and soon enough, it was my turn to blade.

I stepped up to the dish and prepared to go…my opponent was a girl named Mathilda, not that it mattered to me…and all the anxiousness got to me. I was alone out there…performing for the first time without the comfort of my partner…and I began to choke. Not literally of course, but in a blading sense I was choking. I watched as Mathilda's Pierce Hedgehog ran circles around my blade, proving to her and everyone in attendance that Romero's faith was ill-placed in me.

I do not remember a whole lot about that match at first, only that it hurt. All that I had ever held sacred was slowly slipping away from me as this girl, Mathilda, was proving to the world that I was unworthy to stand beside the partner I had trained with and admired all my life. As hard as I pushed, Torch Pegasus could not defeat my opponent, and it hurt.

It was then that I heard her voice…calling out to me. At first, she was harsh, screaming at me to focus on the match so that I would not embarrass her. My heart sunk to think that she was embarrassed of me…but her next words would lift me once more. It was then that she became gentle with me…and she told me something I would never forget.

She admitted to me that her strength…her amazing skill and grace…was a result of my support, and that she depended on me…me… just as much as I depended on her. I had never been very confident in my own skills, and I was certain that she held even less respect for them. Yet, here she was, pouring her heart out to me on the largest stage of all. To say I was stunned would be a gross understatement. I snapped from my stunned trance and grinned like a fool at her when she finished, and turned back to the dish with a renewed sense of purpose. I nearly missed it, but out of the corner of my eye I noticed her mouth something that I am not so sure I was supposed to see…it warmed me to the core nonetheless. 'I love you…'

With her support, I managed to defeat Mathilda…and for the first time in my life, the crowd cheered for me and me alone. It was not a lot, I knew, but when I went to her after the match, I realized that never had I felt more worthy to stand by her side. As we returned to the hotel that night, I could not help but ramble about my victory. I might have stopped before, but I noticed that the childlike manner in which I had been gloating was making her smile. So I kept on gloating, and I cherished each and every smile she offered.

Our next match would be against the BBA Revolution. If we could manage to win this one, we would earn a spot in the tournament finals where Julia could finally perform on the ultimate stage. Naturally, I wanted to blade with her in the semi-final match, but we assumed that everyone was well aware of how well we worked together and Tyson and Daichi would refuse another tag match. So, when BBA Revolution requested a tag match, it was obvious that neither of us were prepared for the challenge. Beautiful and cool as ever though, she recovered and responded quickly to their statement. She even went so far as to ask my feelings on the challenge…if I was disappointed not to show my skills on my own…I smiled, trying to fight a blush as realized just how much faith she had in me. Oddly enough, my mind drifted back to the words she had whispered to no one in particular a few nights before. Once again, feelings I knew I should have be having took hold of me.

"I don't mind, winning and getting applause on my own was great," I told her, " but I'd rather get applause with you out there." I added the second part somewhat quietly, although from the light smile on her face, I think she heard me. It was true, I had enjoyed being the center of attention for once, but that was not my place. I had earned my right to stand by her side, and I would rather do just that than win 1,000 matches on my own. And so I did.

From then on, things remained mostly the same. We lost our next match to Tyson's team, knocking us from the tournament in the semi-finals, and while F-Dynasty might have lost that night, our mark had been made upon the Beyblading world. Or I should say, her mark had been made, and I had stood proudly by her side the whole time. We both liked it that way. I think, however, I might have liked it just a little bit more.

Thus, it continued in this fashion for the next few years…us performing or practicing when the tournaments were not on, and the two of us blading our hearts out when they were. Occasionally we would share our tender moments such as the one during my match with Mathilda, and every time we did I could feel my bond with her grow. Slowly, those dangerous feelings within me were growing, but I could never let her know. I knew there was a link between us…something beautiful and special…but the full extent of that link had yet to be explored. I knew she would never want to do so anyway…it was wrong, after all…and yet, I found myself wishing that some way…some how…we could.

We never managed to win a world title, but we were named one of the top 10 Beyblading tandems of all time…amateur or pro…by the age of 17, and we continued to blade together until we were 20. Of course, we had moved into the adult division by then, along with the Bladebreakers, White Tiger X, and all the other teams we had competed against our entire lives. By then, Beyblading was more than a game…it was considered an actual professional sport, and we were the professionals. I guess Barthez's dream of professional blading came true…too bad he was not around to see it. I am kidding, of course.

The summer when we were turning 21, we had finally decided that Beyblading had taken us as far as we felt like riding it. It is not that we did not love it, but we had been at it since age 14...training for years even before that…, and with all the endorsements and prize money we had earned, there was truly no need to continue. Usually I would be the one to suggest such a thing, but this time it was her who suggested our 'retirement.'

She had told me that it bothered her that in 21 years she had yet to have a serious relationship with anyone, and that maybe settling down for a while would help her to live a more normal life. Of course, in a few years we could start back up again, provided we continued practicing while we were not competing, but we would wait until we reached that bridge to cross it. She told me these things that she would tell no one else but me…and while it made me happy to know these things…I wished for more.

The thought of her settling down with someone else nagged at me…I nearly stood up to her again so that we could continue blading just to avoid such a fate…but I decided against it. I had known it was coming eventually, and I knew it would be best not to prolong this any more than necessary. Yet, I did not want it to end.

And still, she was and had always been the more vocal of our duo. So it was decided that at the conclusion of the World Championships shortly after our 21st birthday we would announce our temporary 'retirement' from Beyblading to pursue 'other goals.' We would put on one last show for all our fans…typical of her, I decided, and something that both of us would enjoy very much in spite of the nostalgia.

The tournament was to be held in France, and before we knew it we had touched down in Paris for our final performance. Once again we were forced to share a bed due to Romero's lack of funds…even though he still had enough money for his ever-present martini…damned martini. I did not know why we still relied on him at all to manage us…we had plenty of money to pay for our own rooms…but we did. I suppose it was our way of thanking him for all he had done for us. I did not mind sharing with her that much anyway. In fact, it was on these rare occasions where I could lie next to her without anybody getting suspicious that I felt the happiest.

Luckily or unluckily, we would not have to worry about that problem much longer. With our impressive performance in the tournament, especially hers, the endorsements were sure to begin rolling in again once these Championships finished. I felt a tug inside my chest as I watched her turn away from me that night, preparing to sleep. This was something that I would miss when everything was over…when I slept next to her, I felt complete…like nothing in the world could bring me down. I knew it was wrong…I knew…but something possessed me…whatever it was…to tell her so.

"I'm going to miss this…" I whispered sadly in the dark. I was not sure if she heard me, and if she had not, I would have been content merely having spoken my mind. And yet, she had heard. Rolling over to face me, her beautiful face was painted with confusion.

"What do you mean?" she asked quietly yet sharply, snapping me from my thought. I did not realize she was paying attention, and finding out that she had heard my previously personal though both thrilled me and scared me. I could have lied to her…but she would have seen right through me…she always could. So, I told the truth.

"This…being together like this…we never get to be close like this any other time," I started slowly. She made like she was ready to point out something very obvious, but I cut her off, continuing. "I know we are together all the time, blading together and all…I just…this is different…I like being with you…like this." I stuttered…why must things always be so complicated? She looked at me in confusion once more…but this time, I could see in her gorgeous eyes what she had kept hidden from me for so long.

Discomfort…something was wrong. And yet, she smiled at me. "I do too…like being with you like this…I guess I'll kind of miss it too…when it's over, that is." I would have liked it if that was all that was bothering her, but to my eyes it was plain that it was not. I made to ask her about it, but as always, she read my mind. She smiled, continuing, "There's…something else too, I'm sure you noticed. It's just…I don't know how to tell you this…" she trailed off, unsure about how to continue.

It hit me like a ton of bricks then…she was about to tell me what I had always dreaded. We could not be like this any longer…we were twins, after all. This was what the retirement was really about. She had finally noticed. Brother and sister should not feel for each other the way I did for her. It was wrong, and yet, to me it felt so right. How could it feel so right to hold her in my arms or to feel her lips upon my cheek? Did it matter anymore? With all my heart I prayed that she was not about to tell me what I thought she was. I had to act…I could not lose her like this…at all…so I spoke quickly.

"Don't," I interjected quickly as tears formed in my eyes. I did not want to say these words, but God help me I could not bare to hear her say it, "don't say it Julia. I know. I shouldn't feel this way, but please…don't tell me this is the end of us..." Tears slowly trickled down my cheek. I did not want to cry in front of her…I always was a bit of a crybaby, or so she told me…but the pain was too much. "I know that you want to move on…to quit Beyblading…find a man…forget about this. But…I…I don't. I love you…to…too much…"

I nearly broke down completely then, and her silken hand came to my face, her thumb stroking away my tears. I had expected a harsh retort…a slap…anything that was not this. I closed my eyes and imagined that all of this was real…that it was okay to feel the things I was feeling. I imagined that loving her was just as natural as watching a sunset, riding a bicycle, or tasting a delicious, sweet apple.

And suddenly, the taste of apples no longer seemed sweet…because an even sweeter taste suddenly invaded my mouth as her lips met mine in a soft, meaningful kiss that stole my breath away. All my worries faded away as I melted into her kiss, trying desperately through actions to share the love I was too afraid to express through words. In that moment, I would like to imagine, I had felt that same love in her own kiss. Then, she pulled away…reluctantly I made no move to follow, merely allowing my eyelashes to flutter open and gaze upon her perfect form.

She smiled lightly, and for the life of me I could not guess just what was going through her mind at that moment. And yet, in my confusion I could not help but try. "B…but Julia…you can't…I can't. We're…"

"Not," she cut me off. My eyes flew open in shock…is she saying…? "We're not twins Raul. We're not even related," she stated simply. To say I was stunned would be the understatement of the century. Of course we were twins…we looked alike, we act…well we did not act alike…, but we had a bond. I would have liked that bond to be more but it could not be…I knew that. Surely she was lying…but why would she lie? Her hands grasped my own, securing them tightly before allowing a small smile to grace her lips as she peered into my eyes.

"How?…Why?…" I stuttered, unable to put together a sentence in this instant. A knowing smile crossed her beautiful features and she kissed each of my palms lightly. My skin tingled where her lips touched, and I barely registered the sound when she began to speak.

"I am sorry for making you wait so long to hear this…I just…was scared. But I think I should tell you the whole story before I get into that," she started slowly, a distant look entering her dazzling eyes as she began. "It was shortly after the very first tournament we entered that it all began…something happened at that tournament that made me wonder about the two of us. It just…I couldn't believe for some reason that we were really brother and sister.

'Call it wishful thinking, but to me, we were just so different. At that tournament though, you showed me something…a fire and determination that I had never seen before…not even in myself. You wanted more than anything for the two of us to win…and I guess I got to wondering…what if? We never knew our parents, we were raised in the circus…they were our family. Maybe…maybe we weren't actually brother and sister…I had always suspected it simply by how different we acted, but then I started…feeling things…things a sister should not feel for her brother. It was hard keeping my feelings from you, Raul…sometimes I don't think I did. It was all so frustrating to think about. Eventually, I had to find out for sure…I wanted to know who our parents were. So, I went in secret to Romero and asked him to help me find out. I don't know for sure why, but he said he had always suspected the same thing…in spite of our similarities…and agreed to help me.

'We searched for months, calling hospitals for or looking up records involving either of our births…I always made sure you were busy when we did it so that you wouldn't be suspicious. Finally, when we were 18, Romero found something…a Raul born on the same day we were born…same records, blood type, and he just so happened to be born in the same hospital as a certain Julia whose files matched my own. But they were not from the same parents.

'I found out that we were not twins…we were not even related…but somehow, we ended up together in the circus. As for how we ended up together in the circus…well…there's no easy way to say this. Medicine where we were born just wasn't what it is today, and so both of our mothers died that day giving birth. I guess our fathers were fragile after losing their wives because sadly, that day they both committed suicide in that very hospital. Shortly after, a man came into the hospital carrying a girl who'd broken her ankle in a trapeze accident, and he overheard a couple of nurses talking sadly about the four tragic deaths and the two little orphans left behind. I guess the man was touched by the story because the man ended up adopting us and taking us in as his own two children. That man was the ringmaster of the circus we call home, and that's how we came together as 'brother and sister.'"

My eyes watered more at the horrible story she had just told me. My parents…her parents…they both died like that? I know we had never really known our parents, but we had never really known how they died. I guess it was a bit of a shock to finally know…and I guess, I would be lying if I said my tears were not partially because of the fact that I just found out I did not have a sister either. I know this should have been good news, but…well…she was the only blood family I had…my twin sister. Then my mind strayed…if we were not twins, how could we look so much alike? I was about to voice this question, but a rueful chuckle cut me off once more.

"As for why we look alike…I guess we can chalk that one up to coincidence," she let out a breath, her story finally complete. I sat, mouth agape in our bed. If what she was saying was true…I would finally be free to love her as I had always dreamed. And yet…why did I not know about this? How could she keep this from me all these years? Why would she keep me in the dark for so long? She said she was scared…scared of what?

"Why?" I asked her simply, wiping the last of the tears from my eyes as I tried to put on a strong front. "Why didn't you tell me? What were you scared of?" She lowered her eyes to the bed…the submissive position was one she rarely occupied unless she was either depressed or embarrassed. I wondered which one currently resided in her mind.

Her response was barely a whisper, "Because I was afraid I would lose you…" suddenly, her head raised and she smiled at me, her eyes meeting mine, shining with untold emotion. "You know you've always been my strength, Raul…whenever I was afraid I wouldn't make it, you were always there to back me up. I wouldn't be anywhere near where I am without you. It's the bond between us that makes our team so special, and I guess…I guess I just thought you might forget about me and find someone else to…to love. That's kind of why I decided on retiring…so that either I tell you all of this or…I give you the chance to move on without me…"

I gasped…was she saying…? "J…Julia…you love…" I gulped, "m-me?" God, I sounded like an idiot. And yet, she smiled nonetheless.

"Yeah, can you believe it?" she joked, laughing nervously. Sensing my own nervousness, she wrapped her arms around my neck, and pulled herself against me tightly. I could feel her perfect body rub against my own as her face came closer. Our lips nearly touched when she whispered breathily, "I love you, Raul."

Her hot breath against my lips was enough to wipe all rational thought from my brain, and so I immediately kissed her, letting any further questions drop from my tongue. Speaking of my tongue, it was now engaged in a fierce battle that I was not surprisingly losing with Julia's…and I loved every minute of it. She was clearly in control as she rolled me onto my back, her mouth never leaving my own. All the pent up longing I had felt was finally being released as I continued to indulge in the sweet taste that was Julia…

Never in my life would I have dreamed I would be in this position with Julia…as long as I could remember I had never wanted anything more than to be near her, and at this moment I was as near as I could possibly be! I laughed into the kiss and pure bliss overcame me as she swung her leg over my prone body to straddle my hips. She giggled into the kiss as well…an odd action for her, but one that I enjoyed hearing nonetheless.

I looked up into her shimmering eyes as she broke the kiss and slowly undressed above me, tempting me to take her that very second, but by the mischievous glint in her eye, I could tell she would stop me before I could even get started. Yes, she was still in control. A smirk graced her lips as she threw her sleek nightgown aside, bucking her hips once to tease me…she had not even been wearing undergarments! Good God! Had she always been this bare under that nightgown when we shared beds on the road? I did not even have time to hide my obvious reaction to seeing her in such a beautiful state of undress because her hands were soon gripping mine and guiding them to my own clothes.

She did not allow me the same pause to undress as she wildly assisted me in removing my sweatpants and my t-shirt, leaving us very much exposed to one another under the covers of our single hotel bed. As I gazed upon her complete perfection, it was then I realized how much I truly loved her. She was so perfect…her personality, her skills, her body…everything about her made me love her just a little bit more. "I love you, Julia." I whispered softly, caressing her smooth skin gently, sending shivers down her spine.

She guided my tentative hands to her more sensitive areas…her surprisingly solid back, her beautiful, round breasts, her…err…well you know…knowing full well that I would not dare do so without her permission. The pleasure she felt caused her to moan softly, causing any final restraints between us to burst instantly. We had been waiting for this moment for far too long…so when she purred into my ear, 'Make love to me, Raul, ' I did not hesitate to assent to hers…and my…desires.

That night we made love for the very first time…it was slow, it was sweet, it was nothing short of ecstasy… and the magic of the moment was not lost upon either of us as we both came together after hours of sensual lovemaking and years of waiting. No, this was not sick…this was beautiful…perfection. Together, this night, we were everything I had ever dreamed we could be and more.

I was one with my goddess…and even though she would always be in control, I would always be her partner. She liked it that way.

So did I.