Title: Boys Days In or Out?
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 touched. I am not making any money off of this and write with the sole intention to entertain.
A/N: Lo and behold, the last chapter. Personally my favorite along with the previous since it focuses more on the emotions and relationship between the characters. Warning: language (courtesy of Kai and Bryan).
"Hon! Yo, Cutes!"
A hand grabbed his arm though it didn't stop him and he actually dragged the woman a step or two further before realizing that she was holding on to him. Looking away from the doors he had been focused on, the first thing he noticed were the woman's large assets. What was her name again?...Olga? No. In any case, it was the woman who had taken their jackets which, coincidentally, were slung over her other arm. He recognized his black leather jacket and Ata's white one.
Wait, if Ata wasn't in the club (Kai had failed to detect his chip within the establishment), and was outside, then why was his jacket still here?
"Are you leaving?" Martha (what the hell was her name?) asked, letting him go. "Red ran out before I could give him his. It's practically flooding out there. Take it with you."
He nodded, accepting the articles.
"Better hurry. He looked pretty upset."
Stepping through the glass doors, which the doormen opened for him despite the late hour, he could barely see across the street. The line had long since disappeared and the bouncers were sitting under the sheltering red awning above them. Recognizing the mountain of a man that had greeted them upon their arrival, he walked over though the guard saw him and, no doubt knowing what he wanted, stood and met him halfway.
"Where?" was all he asked.
His tone of voice indicated that he wasn't going to waste his time explaining anything so the man merely pointed down the road.
"Looked like he was heading towards the station."
Station? The train station?
Muttering a quick thanks, he dumped the jackets plus the keys to the car in the surprised man's hands and set out, leaving the dry sanctuary. His boots splashed in the already deep puddles, soaking the bottom of his pants and he could feel the cold biting at his bare arms and the exposed skin of his waist, seeping through the thin fabric of his top. The streetlamps illuminated the droplets as they fell and he heard nothing but the pitter-patter of water on cement and the thud of his footfall.
Why on earth had Ata gone to the station? Was he trying to leave on a train? Or…or would he do something more dangerous?
His fears heightened as a train roared by, quickly overtaking him though they both had the same destination. He could already see the brightly lit building that was Moscow Central Station. Despite the distance between them he could hear the shrill shriek of the heavy metal wheels as the conductor pulled on the brakes to ease the train alongside its intended platform. In his mind he could imagine the man doing so in total panic as a red-haired teen threw himself before the massive machine…
'Oh, get a grip!' his mind shouted when dramatic images began to play like a morbid slide show. 'He would never do that!'
The station's plain was empty save for a few late, or early, depending on how one saw it, travelers that hurried through the rain, pulling their luggage behind them, their heads bowed down to their chests. The ever-present line of taxies lined the massive glassed face of the grand hall. Drivers hurriedly hustled their paying passengers inside before placing the suitcases and bags in the trunks, wiping their cold hands together as they quickly made their way back to the front of the car. Clouds of steam rose from the covered manholes, adding to the poor visibility.
Dashing across the road, just barely side-stepping the departing taxi which blared angrily at him, he ran on, turning slightly to pass through the automatic doors that were too slow for his taste.
Though he wasn't the only wet person he did draw attention from others when he ran into the place, slightly blinded by the bright lights and sparkling floor. He ignored them, including those who recognized him as a homeland champion and were coming towards him, and looked around.
There were a lot more people inside. Station staff were manning the place, getting things ready for the first of the early morning rush hours; tickets sellers were in their boots, conductors passed by carrying their metal lunch boxes, janitors continuously mopped the floor as people tracked muddy footprints everywhere. Travelers had already arrived while others were still waiting on their trains, some sitting at an all-night café while others browsed through the newsstand that had opened early for business.
Yet, despite the relative calm of the station and the amount of people, he didn't see the bright red hair of his missing friend.
Leaving his admirers behind without a second glance, he began jogging, heading deeper into the seemingly endless hall, stopping every now and then to try and pick up the signal usually given off by Ata's chip. He felt nothing, which worried him since he could always tell the wolf's exact position within a two mile radius with ease. The station wasn't that big, meaning that either Ata wasn't here…or his chip had gone offline for some reason…
His anxiety now reaching danger levels, he walked on though he didn't have a clue as to where he could find Ata. He could still hear the rain pounding on the five story-high roof and could see the drops splattering on the windows as he crossed a catwalk, looking straight down on the platforms.
"Platforms…" he mused at a sudden inspirational thought.
Seeing as he had no other lead, he began running once more, this specific spot his best guess. He skidded around the corner, almost colliding with a surprised group of Japanese business men (A/N: Sorry to interrupt, but has anyone ever noticed in films that whenever a character is running through an airport/train station/whatever, they almost always run through a group of Asian business people? I swear, it's true!). Shouting an apology behind him in Japanese, he was relieved to see the board that appointed this to be the platform in mind. He descended the steps quickly, skipping two or three in his haste. Landing at the foot of the stairs, he looked around.
The platform was completely empty, stretching on into the dark haze. Though the long roof shielded the tracks, the strong winds blew the rain at sharp angles; particularly forceful gusts even wetting the concrete ledge. Ignoring the nagging urge to check the tracks as he walked, he looked at the electronic timetables above him but they were blank; no trains were expected at this platform for now. The small snack and coffee shop was dark and locked up tight. With the exception of the falling rain and the occasional piece of paper that fluttered in the wind, the area was basically lifeless.
He stopped, staring around him with a lost expression. This had been the only place he could think of. If Ata wasn't here…
Something suddenly struck him and without missing a beat, he walked back, retracing his steps until he reached the stairs but once there he passed them, heading to the back of the stone steps. The platform also stretched on beyond them, but the moment he passed their concrete base he looked to his left.
And sighed. Relieved.
Feeling rather tired, he took a seat on the wooden bench, leaving just a foot between him and its other occupant who didn't even turn to him or move at all.
The blue eyes, those dull eyes, saw nothing, staring blindly down at the cement floor. His legs had been drawn up to his chest, hugged close by his arms. Like Kai, he was also completely drenched but his body wasn't coping as well, confirming Kai's earlier fear that the chip had blocked him for some reason, probably out of self defense. Meaning that Ata's system was weak now, but he didn't seem to have noticed. He was shivering, drops trickling down his face. Only they weren't rain drops, but tears.
The other didn't respond or show any sign of having heard him. Sliding off the bench to kneel before the other, Kai placed his hand over the clasped pair around the slender legs and was worried at just how cold the skin was.
"Ata, I'm here."
The fingers twitched, but that was the only reaction.
Silently, he got to his feet and waited, moving his hold to Ata's wrists.
It took another minute, but Ata slowly unfolded himself and Kai gently tugged him to his feet. The moment the redhead was up Kai pulled him close, their wet clothes noisily sticking together. Wrapping both arms around him, trapping his unmoving arms against his body, Kai rested his head against the red hair.
"Everything is going to be alright. I'll take care of you," he promised.
At long last, Ata's tense body eased up, leaning against him and he felt Ata's chin sag onto his shoulder as the trembling hands wound their fingers into the material of his shirt. Bringing a hand up, he cradled the head gently, brushing back wet strands of hair.
"Let's go home."
Ata hugged him closer in response and Kai heard the strangled sob despite its softness. His eyes narrowed and he glared into the blurry distance.
'This is far from over, James…'
Forcing himself to let the redhead go so that they could walk, Kai kept a hold on Ata's cold hand but the wolf never looked up or said anything, not even as he was gently tugged towards the stairs and up the steps. He didn't notice the stares the two got as they made their way back to the front hall. Even the fans, still on the look-out for Kai and now in the presence of the captain of their country's team as well, didn't approach, watching the solemn duo pass them, respectfully making way even though they couldn't understand what had just happened. Mercifully, there wasn't a camera man in sight. All who were present only watched as the two teens exited through the glass doors, into the unrelenting downpour with not even a jacket to protect them.
Once the bright lights of the station were behind them as they walked down the pouring streets towards the club, Kai felt the wrist in his grip slide away. In its place, fingers entwined with his. He gave them a small squeeze but they did not react. The only sound between the two of them was the drumming of the rain, even when they passed the night club.
"Never run off like that again," he scolded softly, leading the way with Ata following soberly. "Vitha has stopped transmitting signals and I wouldn't have found you if it weren't for the bouncer having seen you leave."
He could not recall the last time he had lead the conversation.
"We're both lucky I guessed right about the platform or it would have taken me a lot longer and I highly doubt you would have survived any longer."
He sounded like an angry parent right now, and he was, to some degree, angry at Ata for making such a stupid decision, but Kai kept his tone soft and held the other as close as possible. When Ata still failed to reply he decided to give it a rest for now and just walked.
The platform he had found the wolf on, platform 4D, held a great deal of significance to Ata. That had been the platform on which he had arrived with his mother and father years ago when they came to Moscow to work for Boris in the Abbey. Kai couldn't understand how his friend could hold any memory associated with his heartless (now lifeless) parents dearly, but he supposed it had something to do with the fact that that day had probably been the first 'normal' day Ata had ever had in his life back then.
He had told Kai how his mother had awoken him that morning at seven, instead of four, and had dressed him in nice clothes and combed his hair before giving him a kiss on the cheek, all excited about their new chance in life. Both parents had held his hand as they had boarded the train, the first one he had ever seen in his life, and how they had sat together in a little booth. He had sat in his father's lap as the man pointed out all the new sceneries. Upon their arrival his mother had gathered him in her arms and carried him off the train, looking happy for the first time in Ata's memory.
Understandably, after all the Hell his parents put him through after that train ride, that one moment of actually family interaction was the only positive memory Ata had with his parents and while he was ultimately the one who killed them, it was only natural that the wolf appreciated something they had shared.
That said, Ata had returned there in hopes that there would be some comfort to be found. He had known that his friends would have been unavailable while they dealt with James, but the redhead must have forgotten that Bryan preferred to deal with things alone, and that Kai was very protective and would have seen to his wellbeing first.
Up ahead, the club had come into view. The spotlights were now off and the music was considerably softer, despite that there were still a good amount of cars parked outside. The bluenette sighed as the rain continued to pour. He dearly hoped that he wouldn't catch another cold so soon.
Surprised to hear Ata speak, Kai didn't notice the weakening of the hold on his hand until the fingers gave his an alarmed squeeze before Ata suddenly slumped forward, clutching his chest.
Catching his friend before he hit the pavement, Kai turned him around but the body in his arms was limp. His eyes were closed. Placing a hand over the back of the neck, Kai waited for Inga's assessment.
"201121 has gone temporarily offline. Back-up systems are up and functioning. Breathing, normal. Heart rate, normal. Vital signs, normal. Minor functioning difficulties in heart. No threat detected. Estimated repair time: 20 minutes. Estimated time of recovery: 1 hour."
The chip, having no emotions of its own, made it sound very unnerving but it was merely trying to diagnose things as best it could. As unbelievable as it may be, Ata was, for lack of a better explanation, suffering from a broken heart, which Vitha believed itself capable of repairing by just changing a few wires around. For once, the chip would not be able to solve the problem.
"Don't scare me like that, Ata," he swore, gathering his friend in his arms and rising to his feet. "You'll be home soon."
The front of the club was now deserted of all bouncers but he wasn't worried. Despite his hasty departure he knew that their third companion had known what to do with the jackets and car keys the bouncer had presented him with as he had left.
Sure enough, crossing the wind-blown road and entering the side-street, he was not surprised to find Bryan already waiting. The tall blader was leaning with his back against the car in the rain, arms crossed and face turned upwards, staring blindly at the skies, occasionally blinking away the water with an almost peaceful expression. He heard the footsteps though, and turned towards the bluenette. When he saw his captain in the bluenette's arms he stepped away from the car and opened the door without a word passing between them. Their jackets, including Bryan's, had been laid across the back seat.
Bryan looked at Ata, then at Kai who shook his head.
"He'll wake up soon."
Appeased, the falcon watched as he gently placed Ata on the backseat, laying him down and using a jacket to cover the wet body. Once certain that the redhead was comfortable, Kai got out, softly closing the doors behind him and faced Bryan. The dark stains on the front of Bryan's shirt and on his knuckles, which were also slightly bruised, proved that the falcon had made good time of his fifteen minutes. Kai easily guessed Bryan's MO as he caught sight of the bloodied dagger that was now visible from where it was tucked into the teen's belt. Again, Bryan had managed to enter a public, and guarded, place with a weapon and get away with it. For once, Kai was glad that the falcon had perfected his skills so well.
He looked up at Bryan who, in a rare display of comprehension, said,
"Cops arrested him and took him away."
"Who called them?"
"I did…when I was done with him. He's alive, if that's what you're worried about."
"The only one I'm worried about is Ata," Kai admitted, staring back into the car but Ata remained in restful sleep. "Take him home."
"And do what?" Bryan frowned, not exactly the nursing type.
"He's freezing. Get him out of those wet clothes and dry him off before putting warm clothes on him, then get him in bed and make sure he stays warm until I get home."
"Are you kidding me?" the older blader snorted. "I don't do bedside manners."
"Then be creative and pretend that this is a real situation of survival and Ata is counting on you to keep him alive." He took a breath to calm himself, not wanting to get into a row with this blader right now. "You were there, Bry. You saw and heard what happened. He's hurting. Just…Just do this. If not for me then for Ata."
The lavender-haired teen considered that for a moment, then nodded.
"You do know that this means that you're giving me permission to drive your car."
Rolling his eyes, he granted the other a half-hearted glare.
"At least you have a driver's license. And you better damn well make sure nothing happens to it as long as Ata is in it. I don't really like the idea of you getting hurt due to reckless driving either."
That took both of them off guard.
"Didn't know you cared. Disgusting."
Growing impatient, Kai pushed him in the general direction of the driver's seat.
"Just go already before Ata catches hypothermia."
"What are you going to do?" Bryan asked, his hand on the door handle.
"What do you think? I've got some things to clear up with a certain someone…"
While Bryan's usual façade was one of cold menace, he very rarely showed any serious behavior. Resting his arms on the roof of the car, he did so now, staring hard at the younger teen.
"If you really kill him then you're only going to give that thing more power. Don't do something stupid, Hiwatari."
"I know. But I have an alternative that will be almost as satisfying."
Bryan cocked a brow but said nothing. Opening the door without a second glance, he got in. Kai mentally winced at the thought of the falcon's wet clothes ruining the seat, but he could not hold that against him. Ata would soon be in the heated and dry comfort of his home; paying the couple thousand dollars to reupholster some car seats would be worth it.
Stepping away as the engine started, Kai didn't leave until the tail lights of his car rounded the block. He wasn't worried about either teens' safety concerning Bryan's driving. Of course, Bryan was a good driver. There were many things the falcon knew to treat responsibly, but he usually acted reckless just to spite Kai.
'I still owe you though, Bry,' he thought with a small smile.
For now, though, he owed a certain American a little visit…
"We're keeping him down here, Mr. Hiwatari."
Having been silently following the officer down the cell blocks for the past minutes, he spoke.
"Has my grandfather been contacted?"
The officer nodded nervously.
"His lordship has granted complete
No one in the station actually knew what the foreigner had done. The call they had received from an anonymous tipper had not revealed much. Walking in on the chaos that once was a room, they had found no one but the unconscious man laying sprawled on the floor, aware and in terrible pain. He had been covered in his own blood from head to toe, the red substance dripping and leaking from dozens of slices in his flesh. They weren't stab wounds, but their clean cuts proved that the weapon had to have been a knife of very high quality, wielded by one who knew how to handle it well. Also marring the man's, who appeared to be a foreigner, skin were many bruises, plus one black eye, but the cuts were the main cause of his anguish. However, instead of taking him to the hospital, as they would have normally done, the police had brought him to the station and had him cleaned up by a resident medic: the caller, who they had still to identify, had told them that Kai Hiwatari would be coming and that the police were to leave the prisoner, as he was said to be, up to the teen.
Lord Voltaire's grandson, having arrived half an hour ago, gave the distinct impression of knowing exactly what was going on, but he had made it very clear that he would not be sharing any information with the police other than the fact that the man had committed a terrible crime against not only the Hiwatari family, but the Biovolt Co. and Balcov Abbey as well. The police knew that that was all they were going to get. The champion blader and heir to a capital empire answered to no one except his grandfather, who in turn answered to no one, period. Lord Voltaire was far more powerful than the police and if the American had indeed done something to jeopardize his business then the police was not going to get in the way of the elder Hiwatari's wrath.
"Contact the Abbey and tell Boris Balcov to call Bryan Kuznetsov. He will brief him. And any order given to the police by Boris will be obeyed. No questions asked. Understood?"
They made the rest of the journey without a word, the officer too nervous to speak and his important guest in thoughtful contemplation as he walked, red eyes giving the strange illusion of glowing in the shadowy corridors that were underground. Those eyes only left the floor when the officer stopped and they found themselves at the end of the hall before an iron door whose hinges were caked with rust, proof that it was hardly ever used. The prisoner had been moved to this cell under direct orders of the young Hiwatari and, again, the police did well to obey his wishes.
"You can expect a visit from Boris Balcov after I've left. The prisoner will be leaving with him. There will be no paperwork done. Am I clear?"
"Yes, my lord."
Taking that as his cue to leave, the man respectfully bower and hurried back, assuming that the teen can find his way out once done with his…dealings with the prisoner. Chief of Police for 25 years, yet he had been unable to meet those blood red eyes or dare to question the teenager's words. The Hiwatari family had always had that influence on the rest of society.
Left alone, Kai didn't hesitate and turning the key that had been left in the lock, he pushed the heavy door open. It groaned loudly in its frame, scraping dirt and debris along beneath it to produce a teeth-grinding sound. Undeterred, Kai stepped into the room, leaving the door open. There was no way the man would ever make it past him anyways.
Looking up from where he had been sitting huddled in a corner, James' brown eyes no longer radiated pompousness. His handsome face, what remained un-bandaged that is, was no longer stretched in an egoistical smile. All that was left was a damaged shell of the man he once was.
'Just a taste of what you've done to Ata.'
Recognizing the silent visitor, James sat up, revealing that his body was almost fully covered with bandages, some of which were already stained with his blood that had seeped through. Wincing as his action stretched the cuts, the older male stared at the teen.
"What? Not done with me yet?"
Ah, so there was some arrogance left in him.
"I haven't even started," Kai answered, walking closer until he stood above the other.
"Didn't that psychotic friend of yours do enough already?"
That cynical tone was beginning to annoy him. One quick flashback of Ata's solemn face was all he needed to rekindle the flame he had first felt upon discovery the real James.
James cried out in pain when his legs were swiftly kicked apart but he froze when he felt the pressure of a booted heel placed threateningly on his crotch. Gasping, he looked up with scared eyes at the scowling face.
"I think my friend may have missed a spot," Kai snarled, leaning his weight forward.
"You just had him do your dirty work because you didn't dare!" James hissed, still defying him.
A loud howl echoed down the empty corridor. Kai stepped back, allowing the man to slump forward, curling around himself and gripping his crushed genital. Uncaring red eyes watched as he whimpered, cursing and moaning at the same time. The same booted foot roughly pushed him onto his back, forcing him to look up into a shadowed face as flaming red eyes stared down at him. Kai could see his own glowing orbs reflecting in James' now tear filled ones. The man's pain did nothing for him.
"How long?" he asked in a eerily low voice. "How long would you have respected Ata's wishes? How long would you have kept your hands off of him?"
Realizing that this teen was now just as serious at the tall one that had taken a seven inch hunting blade to his person, James stumbled over his words, trying to think up an excuse quick enough.
"I-I-I would hav-have waited…"
Reaching down, Kai grabbed the prison shirt by the front and slammed the man against the wall, leaving many red smears on the dark stones. James was as tall as Bryan but in his current state he slumped against the wall, kept up only by the teen's arms.
"That is a lie," Kai hissed, roughly throwing him back onto the ground. "A bitch in heat; isn't that what you called him back in the club? Admit it, one more week and you'd have jumped him against his will."
He saw the guilt flicker across the bandaged face.
"You can't do this!" James gasped, not answering and raising himself onto one elbow with a grimace. "You have no rights to treat me like this! Do you know who I am?"
Kai crouched down, firmly taking hold of the man's face and forcing him closer until their noses practically touched.
"I'm sure you were someone important and popular in America, James. And I'm sure all that power made you feel invincible. And I'm sure you've used that power to get away with preying on young boys and screwing them. I don't know who you are. I only know your first name. I don't know where you work. I don't know where you live."
His nails dug into the man's face, cutting into the already lacerated flesh. James squirmed, trying to pull away but it only made the pain worse.
"However, I do know that you are currently in Russia. I do know that you are no longer in the safety of your homeland and that you hurt my best friend. Now here are a few things you should know about me. I am Kai Hiwatari."
James stopped his fidgeting. His pupils dilated.
"And you are on Hiwatari grounds. And, during your stay, you have committed a rather offensive crime that will not go unpunished. And so, James, I am here to deal you your punishment."
"You-You can't do that! The law--"
"I am the law!" Kai snarled, feeling the surging flames spreading through him. He grinned, eyes glowing. "There is no one in this building, in this city, in this country, that will stop me. There is no one who can stop me…"
Sweat was beginning to soak the American's clothes as the stones surrounding them began to sizzle. The temperature was rising. Steam began to rise off the floors. Shaking in the teen's still painful grip, the man's breath began to come out in terrified pants as his eyes darted about, trying to find the source of the unnatural phenomenon. The haunting sound of a bird-like cry brought his eyes back onto the teen and the skin beneath the bandages paled.
"What…What the fuck are you?" he breathed, eyes beginning to water.
Dranzer Demon was in his head. In his soul. A willing witness to what was about to happen. He could hear its blood roaring in his ear. His heart beat now matched that of the beast's wing beat. His vision had long gone red but he could feel the world around them now growing dark, James the only visible object before him. There was no holding back anymore.
"It doesn't matter what I am. What you should worry about is what you will be."
"I…I-I don't unde-understand…" he sobbed.
"Killing you would satisfy me, but it will be an easy escape for you. I'm going to let you live…"
"Oh! Oh, thank you!" A shaking hand gripped his shirt. "Thank you! I--"
"But you will wish for death soon enough."
Pain…Deceit…Lies…Blue eyes…A stolen smile…
His mind could no longer hold on to reality after that last thought as he felt the sudden rush of darkness. Beyond his sight, somewhere in the shadows that now surrounded him, James began to scream.
"OH GOD! NO! STOP IT! NO! AAAGH! PLEASE! PLEASE STOP! FUCK! NO!"
It was a tortured scream. A loud scream writhing in agony and fear. And it went on and on, never faltering. Louder and louder until the American was shrieking. Horror. Pain. He could still feel the man's face in his hands but he saw nothing other than the black cloud. He could feel the movement of the man's jaw in his palms as he screamed and he could feel the violent jerking and contorting of the body. He heard the hands and feet as they punched and kicked the ground, the bones within snapped and broke under the panicking struggle. Louder and louder. Scared. His ears were now ringing sharply. He could feel as the shadows penetrated the American, the tendrils of darkness forcing their way into his wounds and contaminating his blood, making their way up into his head. James gave the loudest cry his now torn throat could muster.
And then…the screams stopped.
The silence that followed was chilling. Even the ringing in his ears had stopped. It felt as if the world had ceased to exist, leaving him in a dark void. However, the shadows began to pull away. First from a distance, the dark mist began to peel itself off the walls, sliding down to puddle onto the floor only to continue to withdraw, slithering back to him as the abyss was drawn back to his body, returning to the demon within that was now singing with victory.
As the gloom withdrew a pair of legs became visible before him. The mist crawled up, exposing the still body. First the legs. Then the back. Then the torso. Until finally, the cold fog vanished beneath his finger tips. The hatred lessened.
Feeling his own thoughts returning, Kai calmly blinked away the remaining effects and looked down at the face still held between his hands.
Brown eyes now static white, his lips dripping blood from the damaged vocal cords in his throat, James was alive, his breathing coming out uneven as sweat now ran in torrents down his face. His head was twitching and he could only murmur inaudible words, forever caught in a state of extreme shock that could never be reversed. Forever trapped in a world created by the teen kneeling before him; a world in which he'd live out his deepest fears for the rest of his life. A world in which his soul will linger after death.
"You should have begged me to kill you," Kai said, releasing the head that now began to shake and twitch more than ever.
"…N-No…" the man whispered, his hands grabbing and yanking at his tousled hair, looking like a frightened child. No matter where he turned his white eyes could see nothing. He was now caught in a night mare world of his tortured mind. "D-Don't leave…leave me h-here…Get me out! I-I don't want to be he-here! Don't leave me!"
"You can hear me, can't you? You can hear me on the other side. In the world you'll never see again. As of now, you are no longer a citizen of America. Your files and papers have been destroyed and your identity stripped. You no longer exist to the world, James. You will be taken away to a place far from Ata and me and no one will ever come looking for you. You are now no one."
He felt no sympathy as he coldly stood, stepping away from the hands that desperately grabbed after him. The last time he would see James of America was as the man laid in a pitiful heap on the floor, rocking himself back and forth, foaming at the mouth as he was left to fend off the demons that assaulted him in a dark world in his mind. A far cry from the egocentric lech he had met days ago in the mall.
'No one crosses a Hiwatari. Not even you, James,' he thought as he closed the door behind him.
The final embers died within as Dranzer Demon returned to its slumbering state, finally freeing the teen of its satanic grip. For the first time since entering the cell, Kai was able to think again all on his own. As he thought back on what he had done a large part of him did not regret it. But, walking away, still hearing the doomed man's petrified cries, he did not wipe away the single tear that marked his face, evidence that, despite the force that possessed him, despite the events that had led up to this, he was just a teen who, like James, was also caught in his own world of nightmares.
The cold water felt soothing on his skin that still radiated heat. Cupping a few more handfuls and splashing it on his face, Kai slowly looked up at his reflection in the mirror hanging before him. Even though he hadn't put on any face paint that night, the lingering gloom of his actions marked him all the same. His eyes looked dim, drained temporarily and would take hours to regain their bright brilliance that was just one of his trademarks amongst his fans.
Fans…Stupid regional tournament in Japan…He was seriously considering just skipping it this year. It would go against his nature to just back out of something, but he'd have to learn: he had a suspicion that he was going to be sacrificing a number of things in the upcoming months, maybe even years. Yet it wasn't how much, but what he might have to give up that worried him. Normally, a worse case scenario would see him failing and losing his life to his enemies, but for him it was the risk of losing his partner in crime…if he'd still be up to fighting by his side.
Grabbing the hand towel, he dried off his face before pressing the soft fabric hard against his skin and releasing a tired sigh into it. It was then tossed over his shoulder carelessly as he stepped out of the bathroom room from where the kitchen was visible at the end of the hall. He had purposefully used one of the downstairs bathroom, wanting to get rid of as much evidence as possible before searching out his friends. Too weary to take a bath, he had merely wiped himself down with a wet washrag before drying off and changing into a night shirt and pants.
The dimmed lights of the kitchen gave off a ghost-like effect, as if he was caught in a time-warp. Everything looked the same way it had a few days ago, when he had been stubbornly battling a couple of coughs and a sore throat. Too proud to admit weakness, he would have probably made it ever worse had it not been for his friend who had returned and, after a few smart comments, send him off to a good shower and his bed. He could almost hear their exchange in the kitchen as he stood there, looking around with a slightly lost expression.
He had 'solved' one problem. But what good was the infinite power of shadows and flames when his best friend was an emotional wreck? Dranzer Demon's greatest strength was its hatred and despair; it had no interest in those who were weakened. No, the demon phoenix could never help. This was something that he had to do on his own.
To his great relief he felt the signal of Ata's chip when he made a new attempt to contact him. Vitha was still on guard and thus not up for data exchange, but a quick check was enough to assure him that Ata was indeed conscious and present in the compound.
Climbing the stairs, he was able to determine that Ata was in his own room. Since he had seen no sign of Bryan anywhere downstairs and the room the falcon always stayed in when visiting was empty Kai concluded that the teen had followed his instructions and had remained by Ata's side the entire time. Bryan, unpredictable as he may be, was dependable when it came to the wellbeing of those of his pack, as it had once been commented by a researcher in the Abbey. Though Ata was the wolf, in Bryan's mind their little group was a pack, one that he protected and in return was guaranteed sanctuary from the criticism he faced when amongst people who didn't know him, or rather were too afraid to understand him. Kai couldn't help smiling, the first since coming home, as he neared Ata's room. Bryan would easily leave a stranger dying in the streets, but to his pack, his friends, he had a code of loyalty that was one of the strongest and purest Kai had ever seen in another human being.
Reaching Ata's door, which was located right next to the steps that led up to Saskia and his rooms, he found that it had been left slightly ajar so he pushed it open. The room beyond was totally dark and silent with no sign of movement though Vitha's frequency was now stronger than ever. He heard James' screams begin again but he banished them, blinking to help his eyes adjust quicker. Though the lights were off the drapes were still open, allowing moon and starlight to shine into the room. Suddenly feeling the prickling sensation of someone's eyes on him, he looked to his right to where the bed was situated against the wall between the windows and a large, electronics covered desk to meet the piercing stare of one of the two teens laying on the king-sized mattress, watching him silently as he walked over and took a seat on the edge.
"This would make an adorable Christmas card," he teased half-heartedly.
Bryan's silent answer was a one-fingered salute executed by the arm closest to Kai though he could not raise it fully since it was being used as a pillow by a sleeping redhead. Curled up against Bryan's side, his head resting on the falcon's shoulder, Ata slept soundly. He was wearing a thick sweater and pants along with socks that Kai could not recalling him ever owning. When he placed a hand on the redhead's cheek he was pleased to find that it was no longer cold to the touch. Bryan had also found time to change out of his own wet clothes though his hair was still somewhat damp. Having always had a high tolerance against the chill (more like not caring at all if it was cold or not) he had merely donned a t-shirt and loose pants.
"Has he said anything yet?"
"Woke up, cried, fell back asleep," Bryan summed it all up rather nicely.
"Did Boris call?"
"He's sending a few quacks to pick the guy up. Said he was going to be used for experimentation somewhere in Chukotka. If he's still living, that is."
Again, Bryan studied him closely for a minute, eyes scanning his face and posture. The light brows rose.
"I suppose that's one way of getting rid of him," the falcon commented, having seen enough to know what the phoenix had done during his absence.
"A lot less bloodier than your method."
"And twice as much fun."
There was a certain tone in his voice that all his friends knew all too well. It was a clipped tone, somewhat impatient and no small amount of need. Kai rolled his eyes.
"Have you eaten anything since coming home?"
"Haven't eaten anything since leaving home."
Bryan, bottomless pit that he was with an inferno for a metabolism, couldn't go more than an hour without food. It came and went, and he usually needed only small amounts of food at a time, but that stomach was always in demand for something to digest. Having spent almost five hours in a club, fifteen minutes shredding one man and then waiting over an hour for his friend while looking after the other one had cost him a lot of energy and his body was now in desperate need of refueling.
"The delivery people brought the shopping today. There should be some pizzas in the freezer," he said, shifting to take over from the older teen.
Grunting to show that he had accepted the offer, Bryan gently (a word not often associated with anything he'd ever done) extracted his arm from under Ata, making sure not to jolt the other too much. He managed to do so but the moment their bodies loss contact Ata's breath in his sleep hitched as if panicking and his hand reached out, grabbing Bryan's shirt. The Falborg blader usually never tolerated anything getting in his way of food but now he just paused, looking at the hand and then to Kai, who shook his head with a small smile. It would have been interesting to sit back and watch Bryan try to get away, but he couldn't for two reasons: he owed Bryan and was thankful for what the falcon had done that night, and he didn't want to cause any more distress to Ata.
Sliding over, he laid himself down behind the still sleeping teen, spooning behind him and wrapping his arms around the other. Feeling the renewed body contact, Ata finally relinquished Bryan and turned over, burying his head under the bluenette's chin. Pulling the redhead as close as humanely possible, Kai pointed silently to the blanket that had been folded at the foot of the bed. It was accordingly pulled up to him by Bryan and he settled it over them both. He was watching Ata's peaceful face intently but looked up when he heard Bryan's footsteps heading for the door. Looking back over his shoulder, he waited, knowing the falcon would pick up on the staring. He did.
Wordlessly, Kai simply nodded, closing his eyes briefly as he did so, effectively expressing his gratitude for the older teen's aid all throughout the night. Nodding back, though he looked strangely troubled, Bryan accepted the 'thank you' and stepped out of the room, quietly closing the door behind him.
Why couldn't it have been like this? Why couldn't his life have been filled with things that other teenagers worried about? Why didn't Ata get the chance to meet a more worthy person? Why hadn't he and Bryan gone to a club before? Why was it that this was the first time that the two of them had teamed up for something other than training, mainly to help their friend? Why couldn't they just be…normal? Instead they were trained to near death, enhanced and modified. He was forced to live with something akin to Hell within him that threatened to take over the moment he let his guard down.
'If we win…If we beat my grandfather and Boris and Dranzer Demon…What will we do? Would we be able to live normal lives?'
One thing he knew for sure; he would not be able to live without his team. He doubted any of them could go on without at least one other. If he was to go to Japan to compete he knew he'd be more withdrawn and asocial than usual; being away from his team mates, especially Ata, for too long always made him bitter and grumpy.
His pondering was interrupted though he wasn't sure by what at first. It wasn't until he felt a twitch against his chest that he realized that the cause of his distraction was Ata, who was beginning to stir, slowly waking up.
"Ata?" he said softly, stroking a smooth cheek to speed up the process.
Long lashes fluttered a few times before fully parting. Blue eyes stared at his chest for a couple of seconds before they traced a path up to meet his. Recognizing the face, Ata quickly looked away. Kai frowned and placing a hand on the side of the face, he forced Ata to look at him again. The tears. That's what Ata had attempted to hide.
"He's not worth it."
Ata drew a shuddered breath.
"…I wanted him to be."
Pulling the other higher onto the pillow so that they were eye-to-eye, he stared into the teary eyes.
"I wanted him to be worth it…I wanted him to love me so much that he was worth crying over…I…I wanted the first man in my life to love me just as much as I loved him…then it wouldn't have been so painful…"
"How can you want a relationship like that?
Tears were now streaking down, soaking the pillow case and forming an ever growing dark stain on the fine material.
"I don't know…what came over me…I don't know how I could let this get to me. I would have never thought that it would affect me like this. I…I feel like I have shamed everything we've worked so long and hard for…I don't even recognize myself any more…I was such a fool…such a fool…I don't know what's wrong with me. I shouldn't be feeling this way. Not after how he treated me. Not after what he said to me. But…But I…I wanted him to want me..."
"He did want you, but for all the wrong reasons."
"I don't know…" Ata whispered, looking so lost that it hurt the bluenette. "I don't know why…It's just so strange. When with him…towards him…I just felt…wonderful. I felt like I was the most important thing in the world to him. I've never felt anything like it before. And I didn't want it to ever go away. And it won't…no matter how much I wish it would now. He'll always be here…in my mind…"
Making a frustrated noise, Ata clenched his eyes shut and buried his face in the pillow.
"Stop it, Ata," he ordered, growing agitated with the situation. "He never loved you. Not the way you deserve to be loved, anyway. How can you still feel anything remotely related to fondness towards him?"
"I want to hate him, Kai," Ata admitted, turning his face out of the pillow. "I want to hurt him the same way he hurt me. He was the first person I had ever fallen in love with…and now I know that he never loved me to begin with. All he wanted was my body. Being my first; that's what excited him. The idea of…of claiming me. That's what it was all about to him. That's all I was worth to him…That's how it's always been…"
"What do you mean by that?" Kai demanded, forcing the other to look at him by taking hold of his chin. "What has always been?"
The stare was almost too heartbreaking to meet but Kai forced himself, seething on the inside of the idea that something had been ailing his friend for some time now and that he had never noticed anything.
"What do you see when you look at me, Kai?"
"My best friend," he answered honestly. "My team mate and captain. The guy who earned all those titles through the years he's been at my side. A great blader and team player."
"That's what I want others to see too. I want them to see who I am, not what I look like. Until I met James, all I'd ever gotten were compliments on how I looked. I'd go to the clubs and have men and women come up to me and comment on how pretty I was and how good I looked, but they never stayed around long enough to find out more."
He paused, gaining the courage to say the following.
"I've been offered money to sleep with men, Kai. They come up to me on the dance floor, or even while I was walking down the street, and say that if I come with them they'd pay me up to a thousand dollars. Once…One time I joked with one of them and asked if he wouldn't prefer a real relationship. He laughed and told me that someone like me wasn't meant for relationships. 'A little cunt like you was meant to be fucked, not loved.' That's what he told me when I had refused to get into the car. And…and after James…I'm beginning to believe that…God, I feel so pathetic!"
Seething that he had not kept a closer eye on his friend, Kai was about to object to Ata's train of thoughts but someone else cut him off.
Turning onto his back, Kai looked over to the door that was now open, the backlit form of Bryan leaning against the doorframe. He didn't know how long he had been there as he had been so focused on Ata to detect the other's return but the narrowed eyes and dangerous sneer meant that Bryan had heard Ata recite the stranger's unflattering comment.
"Bryan?" Ata asked softly, looking past Kai, strangely surprised to see him. He must have been too disoriented earlier to realize that he had been using the falcon as a pillow.
Both teens on the bed started when he stepped into the room, slamming the door loudly. Kai felt Ata almost wilt against him at the offended glare Bryan was pinning him with as he stalked closer. Bryan had never harmed the redhead but right now he was looking downright murderous.
Stopping on Kai's side of the bed, Bryan stared defiantly at the redhead who watched him nervously.
"Look at you," the older blader scowled. "What the fuck is wrong with you? Crying and moping over some goddamn pedophile! Get a fucking grip, Tala! You've been through worse! Your parents used you as a guinea pig, you were comatose for 2 years, Boris keeps messing with your system, but now you're laying here whimpering because one fucking foreigner didn't turn out to be some prince charming? You are pathetic!"
"Bryan!" Kai barked, sitting up. "You are not helping!"
"I'm just telling Tala to take it like a man instead of some love-sick school girl crying her heart out to her best friend! This is Tala Ivanov, Hiwatari, not some weak-hearted teenager! You talk soft words and hold him close but look what that has done to him! He's weak!"
Now getting to his feet, he roughly shoved Bryan in the chest. Ata made a sound to intervene but the two were too buys shouting at each other to notice.
"Don't you fucking tell me how to treat my friend! He's just had his heart broken by his first love and needs someone to talk to about it! Stop being such an emotionless jerk for once and try to be a bit more sympathetic!" He pointed at Ata, who was watching them with wide eyes, still sitting on the bed. "This is Ata! Not our team captain! Not a soldier of Russia! Not Biovolt's prized specimen! This is our friend! Don't you even care what he's going through!"
"Of course I do!"
"Then why are you acting like such an ass!"
"Because I'm scared for him!"
Kai's arm fell limply to his side, the tension in his features and posture fading into a stunned expression. Behind him he could practically hear Ata's jaw dropping. Before him Bryan shifted in frustration, angrily running a hand through his short hair and cursing a few choice cuss words in Russian. Seeing as he had already admitted it, he went on, speaking in an angered voice.
"Feeling sorry for yourself…blaming yourself. It doesn't help. That's what my mother did after that useless father of mine ran off with some whore. She just sat in the corner, crying and hating herself. It didn't help, only made her worse. Woke up one morning and found her dead in that corner; she took a razor to her wrist. The police came and took me away and put me in that godforsaken Abbey because I was too young to be on my own. All because she couldn't get a grip. All because she acted the same way you are acting right now. So don't you fucking think that I'm going let you do what she did!"
Silence. Not a word. The room was so quiet one could have heard a pin drop downstairs. His audience, taken back by the raw display of emotions, of fear and concern, could not think of anything to say for almost a minute and merely stood there, watching him. Embarrassed by his outburst, Bryan mumbled something under his breath and looked away.
Ata was on his feet, a guilty expression on his tear streaked face.
"I'm sorry, Kai, for not listening to you about James and arguing with you. And I'm sorry I worried you and made you think of what your mother did, Bryan. I shouldn't have allowed someone come between us…"
"I still can't understand why you are so dead-set on finding someone…but you can do better that American, Tala," Bryan muttered, crossing his arms and leaning back heavily against the wall.
"You deserve way better than that," Kai corrected, sitting down on the edge of the bed, exhaustion having finally caught up with him.
"I want to forget about everything that happened these past few days. I really do…"
"You will. We'll just have to give you time," he said, looking over at Bryan who snorted but nodded. Staring up through his bangs at his redheaded friend, he smiled. "And you'll have a lot of time to find someone else. Though, personally, but I don't think you ever will."
"I won't…?" Ata asked sadly, also sitting down though staring at the carpet.
"No…cause you're too damn good for anyone."
The blue eyes blinked. And a faint shadow of the redhead's smile showed itself as a tiny sparkle flickered behind the remaining tears.
"You're just saying that to keep me put."
"Maybe I am, maybe I'm not," he teased, turning to sit against the headboard and stretching his legs on the bed behind Ata. "You're just going to have to trust me."
Wiping his eyes on the sleeves of his sweater, Ata managed a light laugh.
"I've learned my lesson there so I guess I'm going to be hanging off your every word for the rest of my life."
Crawling over the bluenette's legs, he stretched himself out like his friend and both looked back at the remaining teen still standing near the wall.
"Man enough to sleep in the same bed as your bestest friends?" Kai smirked, getting a raised brow.
"That's not even a word."
"Just get over here. As your captain, I command you to lay here," Ata patted the space beside him.
"…Just make sure you keep your hands and mouth to yourself," Bryan warned though he walked over, going around the bed to climb on, lying down on Ata's other side.
They simply laid there. Bryan with his hands behind his head and eyes close though they knew he wasn't asleep. Kai and Ata followed his lead and Ata now laid with his head on Kai's shoulder while the bluenette stared up at the ceiling.
"Elvis is on your ceiling."
"Really?" Ata asked, looking up.
Bryan opened his eyes, looking at the two quizzically before also looking up at the patterned lines of the ceiling.
"All I have is the evolution theory and you've got the freaking King of Rock 'n Roll," Kai sighed. "That is so unfair."
"You're right. I think I'll be spending much more time in my room from now on. You're room is too boring."
"What the Hell are you two talking about?"
Rolling over onto his stomach, Ata grinned down at the frowning falcon.
"Unless I move over into Bryan's room and see what he's got on his ceiling."
"Touch my bed and I'll burn it. With you in it."
"Aw, I thought you cared for me."
"I'm done caring. And one word to Spencer or Ian about what I said back there and you'll regret it."
"You wouldn't dare," Ata pouted.
"He had enough guts to dance," Kai remembered, grinning at the image.
The blue flames in those eyes ignited. The trademark smile returned. The twisted humor had resurfaced. The latter much to Bryan's dismay.
"You danced, Bryan? How was he?"
"Made us look like a couple of amateurs."
"One word of that to Spencer or Ian and I will make both of you regret it."
"Did he moved his hips?"
"Elvis couldn't have done it better."
"I'm leaving if you don't shut up."
"And he danced with that knife buddy of his too."
"What? No way!"
"Got all close and personal."
The bed shifted as Bryan sat up but Ata was quicker and pinned him back down, sitting on his stomach to keep him from leaving.
"Tell me all about it, please?" he begged, using the old big-eyes routine. "It will make me feel much, much, much better!"
"If you don't get off me right now…"
"Got something to hide?"
"…Fuck you, Hiwatari!" Bryan snarled when he picked up on the innuendo.
"You're hot," the redhead suddenly said.
Sputtering, the falcon was about to say something but a hand on his forehead brought both boys attention up to Ata who, still perched on top of Bryan, was frowning.
"You're running a fever," he clarified.
"Am not," he huffed.
Right on cue: one massive sneeze.
"Wooks wike one wittle birdie caught a cold out in the wain," Kai grinned maliciously. "Poor, poor wittle falcon. Guess you're going to have to stay in bed for a few days."
"Not to mention take a lot of medicines," Ata added.
"And have your temperature taken."
Sneezing again, Bryan growled.
"You're both a pain in the ass."
"And you like it that way," Ata grinned. Not giving Bryan a chance to react, he planted a big old wet one on the falcon before jumping to his feet. Rounding the bed, the spring back in his steps, he grinned at the bluenette who remained calmly where he laid. "I'll make the soup, you get the thermometer."
Snickering, Kai sat up while Bryan cursed, spat and wiped his mouth on the other side of the bed.
"Which way is he going to have take it?"
"I'm thinking rectally, since he likes it when we are a pain in the ass."
"Go to Hell!" Bryan shouted as they closed the door behind them but a session of heavy coughing forced him to stay put. He'd most likely try to slip away but with the entire penthouse bolted and locked he had no where to go. And, skilled as he was, he could not hide with all the coughing he was doing.
"He is too cute sometimes," Ata smiled as they headed down the hall towards the stairs. "Makes me want to hug him and kiss him and never let him go."
"I'd love to see you try."
"You never know."
"Kai?" He stopped, taking the other by the arm. Standing in the dimly lit corridor, his eyes shone bright blue. "After what has happened…I don't think that I will ever be the same. I'll try my best but there will always be a part of me that I cannot bring back. And neither can you…"
Stroking a cheek with his knuckles, he shook his head.
"Then I suppose I'll just have to settle with what's left. Even then, I'm not letting anyone anywhere near you for some time and I don't want to hear any complaints, alright?"
"Then I suppose I'll just have to settle with you."
Their lips met, still curled in warm smiles.
"Hm, still the best kisser ever," Ata teased, pulling away. "I swear, Kai. If you weren't my best friend…"
"I prefer to let you watch from a distance. Longing but not getting."
Nipping the bluenette on his lower lip for mocking his own words a few days earlier, he lightly shoved him in the direction of the stairs.
"Let's hurry before Bryan scales down the building via the window."
As they descended, planning ways to totally humiliate their friend for as long as they can keep him in the penthouse and under their medical care, Kai watched the other, almost lightheaded with the sight of the blue eyes so vivid and alive and sound of Ata's excited ideas and laugh.
They were different from others. They were facing a threat beyond all rational thought. They'd been through Hell and back and still had many trips to make before they could even begin to hope that they'd be free. Normalcy had never played a very important role in his life.
But for now, for this one night, for this one moment, things were back to normal. And if this was what awaited them after they'd defeated the tyrants of Biovolt and the beast within him then Kai was willing to go at any distance to win.
More important things awaited him now, though. Namely where he had left that thermometer…
Bryan was so going to regret making fun of him when he had been ill.
Wah? Over 10000 words for one chapter! Egads! Well, it took me almost an entire year, but this one's a wrap! The shortest fic I have ever completed (excluding one-shots) but well worth the effort.
With this Iwanted toestablish a better sense of friendship between Kai and Ata and Bryan, who will be a prominent character in 'Stand By Me'. Yes, the other characters (like Saskia and Natasia) never made a physical appearance, but that was deliberate because I wanted to focus this story only on the three guys. It may seem as ifKai values Ata over Saskia, but that's just due to the plot of this fic. The relationships established between all three of them in this fic will play an important role in the sequel.
And, once again, I have added something to this Beyblade universe that I had originally intended to have in 'Untold Truths' but ultimately decided not to include, namely Kai's abilities to transfer peoples' minds into a world of their greatest fears. Which made me almost laugh when I first found out about the third seasonsince back then I hadn't known the character of Brooklyn. Oopsie, me thinks me may have given away a part of 'Stand By Me's plot.
The deal here is: In this story, Kai is greatly angered by what James did to Ata and so, at this level of rage, he vented it out on James by trapping him in horror land. In 'Untold Truths', everyone thought that Ata had died, plus Saskia had been kidnapped and Ray had left after the two had confessed their feelings to one another. All of this made Kai ubber-pissed, far more so than he was in this fic. He was so wrathful that he lost complete control of Dranzer Demon, so the beast got loose, attacked, and you all know the rest. All in all, Kai's temper and emotions are his weakness because the more he lets them get a hold of him, the more power and control he surrenders to Dranzer Demon.
Yup, I thought all that up all by my little old self.
Last chapter and all, but I love to know what you thought of this chapter as well as the entire story, soooo…
Read & Review, please!
Ladya C. Maxine