Summary: Bryan is thinking about his loss to Rei and Tala needs to talk to him. Shonen-ai at the end.

Rating: PG. Totally PG.

Genre: Angst, and a bit of romance.

Bryan sat in his hotel room staring at the wall. The beating of his heart the only sound that he was to hear. He had woken up in that room only to find out that he had lost. He had lost. Bryan had lost. Bryan Kuznetsov had lost. How could he lose? He was perfect. Every hour he had spent blading, every year that he had been in the abbey, it had all been for nothing. Nothing...

Bryan continued to stare at the wall as Ian came out of a room holding a brush.

"Come on Bryan. I started you a bath and I expect you to take it. It'll be full soon." Ian finished just before running the brush through his thick blue-grey hair and leaving the room.

Bryan watched him go. Ian just didn't get it. How could he? Bryan had been in the abbey ever since he was a child, Ian hadn't come until he was ten or eleven or so. He listened as the sound of rushing water in the conjoining room blocked out the slow and steady beat of his heart.

Slowly he lifted himself off of the bed that he was sitting on, leaving a bit of a crease. It wasn't made-up so it didn't much matter. He hadn't left that bed since he had woken up, just moved himself to the end of it. Bryan sighed as he looked down at the messy bed and ran a hand through his ruffled hair.

Walking into the bathroom he bent down and turned off the constant stream of water. He shook his hands from the wetness and turned to the mirror above the sink. He was quite a sight to see. Bryan's hair, though short, stood straight up and looked a bit matted. His face was even more pale than it normally was, giving him dark purple circles under his now dull eyes. Bryan sighed as he rested one hand against the smoky and heated mirror and shut his eyes.

After a moment he removed his hand and started to undress. First went the gloves, and then the vest. He continued until just the body of a young boy hung. He truly looked sad, his posture slouched and he looked even leaner than he had before. In his own opinion, a living skeleton.

Stepping in, he found it to be much hotter than he had anticipated. Not bothering to hide it, Bryan winced a bit as he lowered himself. Once in, he found it to be comfortable. Or at least, as comfortable a hot bath could be to a child that lost everything.

Yes, he was a child. He had underestimated his opponents strength, something that he rarely did, and lost. Not just lost, lost horribly. He was thrown off by the large white cat, Drigger. He was hurt, not exactly physically, though he was a bit, but mentally and even emotionally. Like a child he crumbled and tasted defeat.

They had lost. They had all lost. Not individually, but as a team. They lost, Tala, Sergei, Ian, and himself, the Blitzkrieg Boys' had lost. He saw it on Balkov's face, he even saw it on Voltaire's face. Disappointment, anger, disappointment, shock. He couldn't take it! It was too much! The only one who seemed alright with it was… Tala.

Bryan glared at the water, Tala had seemed happy about it. How was that possible? From what he knew about him Tala took defeat very seriously and never lightly. He had seen Tala himself almost kill himself he was practicing so hard after defeat, and then he let Voltaire 'upgrade' him, just so that he would never have to lose again. Sure, he always took defeat with grace, but never without the promise of a rematch. He hadn't seen the match himself, but from what he heard Tala and Takao had an amazing battle. Even more amazing he heard from Sergei that Tala had taken Takao's hand in friendship. He also heard he was in the hospital…

What did that mean though? Was he still with the Blitzkrieg Boys? Was he still going to Blade with them? Or was he with Takao now? These questions among many others ran through Bryan's head as he continued to glare at the still water floating around him.

Bryan moved a bit in the water as he felt himself get a bit light headed. When he heard a knock at the door. Averting his eyes just enough to look at the door, he made no sound. The knocking continued.

"Open up Bryan. I've got to take a piss." The voice on the other side yelled hoarsely through the door. He recognized that voice. Tala! Bryan pulled the shower curtain across as he called out, "Whatever," Though he had to repeat it because his voice was no more than a whisper from not having been used.

He peeked out from behind the shower curtain long enough to catch a glimpse of Tala, or more, his condition, which was considerably worse from the last time he had seen him. Tala had several layers of white bandages around his head and seemed to be having a bit of trouble breathing. Tala's launching arm was kept in a sling.

Bryan turned back and let the shower curtain fall. It was true. Tala looked different. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. There was something in his eyes, well, the visible eye, that was very different. It seemed almost… Peaceful? No-that didn't sound quite right. Either way, there was a noticeable difference in him.

Bryan closed his eyes, the sound of his heart beat returning to him, until he heard Tala mutter curse words under his breath, it seemed he couldn't get his zipper up. That was actually amusing to the broken boy in the bath. Tala Valkov couldn't zip up his pants. That was humorous.

"Bryan?" Tala started, it seemed that he had finally gotten his pants together. Bryan simply listened, not wanting to reply.

"Bryan?" Tala asked again, with more force. Bryan couldn't help but want to respond, he was trained to listen to his team captain. Tala stepped closer and pulled the curtain aside. Trained to do so through many years, Bryan looked up at his captain. Tala was doing the best the could to frown/glare in his sorry condition with only one eye.

"What is wrong with you? Get over it." He rasped through staggering breaths. Team Captain through and through. Mentally he looked up at Tala's face, he was battered, and hurt, and possibly scarred, but not broken. He looked almost together. Could he have been 'downgraded'? Maybe since he lost he reverted back to normal. Tala was a lot colder when he was 'Cyber-Tala.'

Bryan looked down and very quietly whispered. "I can't"

"What?" Tala asked as he glared a bit more, it seemed that he didn't hear him the first time. Bryan cleared his throat as he spoke again.

"I said, I can't." He finished as he turned to face the water again. Tala glared as he looked down at Bryan.

"We'll finish this conversation when you're done." He staggered around and limped through the door. He looked like he needed to still be in the hospital.

About an hour later, Bryan left the bathroom, a trail of steam following him. He had changed into his pajamas which consisted of a pair of blue baggy shorts and a white t-shirt that hung loosly over his form. His hair was damp and his skin brightened red from the heat of the water. It was then that Bryan noticed Tala sitting on the bed across from his own, he seemed to be resting. He remembered what Tala had said, but wasn't particularly looking forward to it, he didn't want to talk.

Tala's nose wrinkled as the steam from the bathroom rose and tingled his nose. His good eye opened and focused itself on Bryan.

"Bryan…" He started as Bryan took a seat across from him.

"You lost." Tala commented, causing Bryan to frown and look to the ground.

"You lost Bryan. Look at me." He commanded, though hurt horribly he still managed a sharp, yet different, look in his eye.

"I have nothing to say." Bryan whispered out as he looked into his captain's face. Tala smirked a bit at this. The old him seemed to appear, if only for a moment.

"You're beating yourself up because you lost to that boy. You lost to Rei Kon." He was still smirking. This infuriated Bryan! How dare he! He lost too! Was he simply trying to make him feel worse? Or was he trying to get him to practice harder? With Tala you could never be sure.

"Do you think I don't know that?" Bryan spat. "You lost too you know!" He was now glaring at his captain, which seemed to have no effect.

"Yes. Yes I did." Tala laughed. Bryan looked at him strangely, thinking that he had finally completely lost it. Why was he laughing at defeat?

"What is wrong with you? I think those head injuries screwed you up. You lost Tala, to Takao!" Bryan yelled. Didn't he get it? This only served to make Tala laugh more. It was a frightening sound, Bryan hadn't heard Tala laugh much before, maybe a chuckle here or there but a laugh? That didn't happen very often at all.

"I lost Bryan. You weren't there. It was amazing." Tala seemed to smile at the thought. This only confused Bryan more. What was wrong with him?

"But it's okay." Tala breathed out, seeming to relax a bit.

"Tala, I tried, I really did." Bryan said as he tried to explain himself, the guilt he felt for not being able to win was unimaginable.

"I noticed." Was all that Tala had to say. "Listen Bryan. Just take the defeat. You'll blade again and you can train harder in the mean time." Tala finished. Bryan noticed that he seemed more open. It was odd to see him that way

"So, that's it? You're just going to except having your face rubbed in the dirt by that amateur?" Bryan shouted.

"Actually," Tala started, bringing a glare back to his face to top Bryan's. "I feel pretty good." He finished as he laid back and let his head rest on the pillow on his bed.

No revenge? No threats? No nothing? That wasn't like the Tala he knew at all.

"I know exactly what I want. Everything seems so clear. Amazing." He stated as he stared up at the ceiling. Bryan shook his head.

"What do you mean you know exactly what you want? You knew what you wanted before!" Bryan yelled again, suddenly feeling tired. Tala frowned a bit at this, still looking up at the ceiling.

"No. Not really." Tala stated as he looked over at Bryan, his eye the picture of calm and clear.

What the hell does he mean 'No. Not really?' Bryan though as he let his tired body fall to the other bed. Tala looked over to him.

"I realized a few things too." He stated in an almost mysterious way.

"Oh yeah? What's that?" Bryan asked as he felt himself calm down a bit and fall back into self pity.

"Well, for one thing-" Tala started as he grappled with the bed to raise himself. Bryan had to wonder what he was doing. It was almost pathetic. Tala walked toward him as Bryan raised himself into a sitting position.

"I realized-" He said as he brought his face closer to Bryan's, eliciting a small blush out of the already flushed boy. Just before he brought up his good rm and brushed Bryan's chin, letting his lips touch the other boys, just for a second.

"How I feel about you." He finished as he smiled, staggering back over to his bed. Tala didn't seem to be ashamed or regret what he had done at all.

Bryan touched his lips as the other boy turned over, leaving only his back to face him. It certainly wasn't an amazing kiss. Just a simple brush of the lips. Like someone would kiss you on the cheek. It wasn't dramatic or long like in the movies. It was simple and short. But almost… Nice all the same.

If Tala wanted to take his mind off of Rei he had succeeded. Bryan knew that he wouldn't be able to think about much else for a while. Even defeat. But you know what? He didn't really mind.


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