Chapter 9: What once was lost, now is found
Tala groaned as he slowly returned to the waking world. He frowned when he opened his eyes and found their tiger still sleeping between him and his phoenix. He had hoped that at some point Rei might wake up and try to crawl into Bryan's room like he had already done several times during previous nights. As he watched the sleeping tiger in front of him, he felt a hand brush a lock of hair away from his face. He gazed over at the red eyes looking back into his own blue ones.
"The kitten was in no shape to make that move pup."
Tala sighed. "I know. I was just hoping that maybe Bryan would come to his senses last night and realize his mistake. I know he doesn't really want to hurt Rei, he's just blind right now."
Kai gently shifted himself away from the other two men occupying the bed. "Well, I left Flare at Bryan's door last night. Based on the fact that he isn't in here at the moment, he must have gotten into Bryan's room. He wouldn't have slept by himself all night in the hallway. That cat is just as much of a heat leach as our tiger hear."
Tala nodded in agreement. "So, Bryan had to have wanted and accepted some kind of company last night. Practically this whole past week that Rei has been here they've shared a room."
It was Kai's turn to nod in agreement. "You watch over Rei. I'm going to peek in on Bryan. He would have left his door cracked for Flare to seek out Rei."
Tala nodded and pulled Rei in closer, tucking the blankets tight to compensate for the lack of Kai's warmth.
Kai softly padded down the hall to Bryan's room. He noticed the door opened just a crack and slowly pushed it open further. He found Flare curled up against Bryan's chest as the falcon lay curled in on himself. Kai had only ever seen Bryan this protective of himself once. That had been when the falcon had first arrived at the abbey when they were younger. Ever since then, Bryan had been the strong one of the group. Seeing him like this again was hard on the phoenix.
Kai made his way over to the bed and sat down against Bryan's back. Flare peeked up and over the falcon's waist before meowing at the phoenix. Kai reached over to pet the orange fur ball gently on the head before the cat jumped off the bed and ran out the door. Kai assumed that he had run off to find Rei and returned his gaze to the falcon beside him. He gently brushed Bryan's bangs back behind his ear as he watched the falcon.
Feeling the friendly fingers slide behind his ear, Bryan turned over slowly and opened his eyes to see who had entered his room. He frowned and buried his head back into the pillow, turning away from Kai once again.
"I don't want to talk Kai. Just leave me alone."
Kai slid himself down to lay beside his friend. "I think you need to talk Bryan."
"No, I don't. Now go away."
"I love you like a brother Bryan, but I will not let you do this to Rei. He doesn't deserve it."
Bryan only lifted his head slightly. "How is he?"
Kai frowned and sat up again at the foot of the bed. The falcon obviously wasn't going to make this easy. "I don't think I want to tell you that. Your actions last night towards him, tell me that you don't really care."
Bryan snapped up, letting his anger return to the front of his mind. "If I didn't care then I wouldn't have said anything. We're here to help him right? I don't think helping him entails letting him discover every fan out there that wants to take advantage of him."
Kai's frown deepened. "What makes you think Josh was trying to take advantage of him? Rei is a good judge of character. He doesn't seem to think Josh is that kind of person."
"Rei also isn't thinking right. He's been depressed since who knows when. That's the reason you brought him back here Kai."
Kai just sat and stared at Bryan in shock. "Bryan I didn't bring him here to lock him away. He needs us, yes. But he needs to find other friends too."
"He doesn't know what people can be like Kai. He trusted this Kai so easily. He doesn't even know him and he trusts him like they've known each other forever."
"Bryan, if he treated people like you want him to, he would never have trusted you and Tala enough to come here. He'd still be in China. He may have even dropped to a desperate and dangerous level. He's gotten very close to you Bryan. Why all of a sudden are you acting like this towards him?"
Bryan stood from the bed and began pacing. "He's only known the guy for a day. Yesterday was the second time they had met each other and he's letting this guy kiss him. How can he trust so easily? I don't want to see him get hurt Kai but he is throwing himself out there for anyone who comes along."
Kai slid to the edge of the bed and laid his arms over his knees. "You need to stop that train of thought right now Bryan or I will not hold myself responsible for my actions. You say you don't want to hurt him but yet you want to lock him away from the world that he needs to be a part of. That's why he came here Bryan. He wanted to escape the life of a small enclosed village Bryan. I will not leave him trapped in this house. You are hurting him whether you acknowledge it or not and I will not allow you to continue to do so."
Bryan stopped pacing at the firm command in Kai's voice. Kai had always been dominant over the group, but now Bryan was being singled out of the group. He had never been on the receiving end of Kai's anger. "Kai, I don't mean…"
"No Bryan. I don't even want to hear it. I thought you would have pulled around on your own last night, but obviously I need to help you along. All I want to hear from you now is what is really going on?" What happened yesterday? Why did you act like that to Rei?"
Bryan just frowned and turned away from Kai. "Forget it Kai. I don't want to talk about it, ok?"
"Well tough. You had the opportunity and from they way you're acting this morning, you just passed it by. I'm taking control of this situation now before anyone gets hurt worse. Now tell me what happened yesterday. What really made you go off like that?"
Kai was surprised when Bryan simply slid to the floor in front of him and wrapped his arms around his waist. Kai gently returned the embrace and held Bryan's head to his stomach. "I can't let you turn away from this one Bry. Not when this involves both of you so deeply. There are some things that you need to hear before you completely walk away from this. It won't disappear. I love you both like brothers, but if you walk away from this now, walk away and leave Rei like this, I can't let you try again. I can't let him go back down the road he was on. I can't take seeing him like he was in the village again. If you walk away now, you walk away for good. You'll be giving up something that could have been wonderful for the both of you."
Bryan looked up. "I didn't mean to hurt him Kai. I swear I didn't. When he told me about lunch yesterday, all I could see was the possibility of him getting hurt. I just wanted to protect him but things got out of hand. I know I said some things I shouldn't have. I just can't stand to sit here and watch him get hurt."
"It's only a probability Bryan. This guy could be a good friend for Rei. If that's the case, you can't lock him away from this opportunity. You will only cause pain for him that way and he will come to resent you for it. I don't want to see that happen."
Bryan turned again to face Kai with confusion written all over his face. "You heard him last night. There's no place for me anyway."
Kai smiled at the falcon's slip and pulled him in close. "You think entirely too much Bryan. I think you're the one who didn't hear things last night. Try listening to what the kitten was trying to tell you. You were so busy reading what wasn't between the lines, that you didn't hear what was being said plain as day. Like I said, there are things you need to hear yet. It's not my place to tell you, but you need to hear it. Stay home today. You and Rei need to talk."
"I can't face him Kai. Not this soon. I screwed up yelling at him like that. I said things that I knew would hurt him so badly. I practically called him a whore."
"Then why did you say it Bryan? If you knew it would hurt him, if you didn't think there was a place for you, why did you get upset and hurt him like that. If you care for him as much as you say, then all you would really want for him is to be happy."
Bryan stared sightlessly into Kai's chest. "Because all I saw was red. Even though I knew he could do better, I had hoped so much that there would be a chance. This last week I've seen things in myself that I thought I would never see again. It's been like starting over for me. All of a sudden a whole new set of doors opened for me. Then he told me about Josh and I saw red. I knew there wasn't a chance. It hurt to think that he had actually found something better than me. It hurt to think that there really was something better for him. I felt every door slam right back in my face. It was like something was trying to tell me that I really can't do any better for myself than the abbey. I slipped back into my old self. I hurt and I wanted him to feel that hurt. I did exactly what I was afraid of doing to him."
Kai frowned and lifted Bryan's chin up to face him. "You have to watch that Bryan. You can't make Rei hurt every time that you do. It's not fair to him and it will only make things worse between you two. If you don't talk to him, he will continue hurting like this, and so will you. You both have healing to do. You need to learn to trust those around you too. You thought with your head and not your heart. You're head told you Rei would hurt you and you pushed him away. You need to resolve this as soon as you can. Trust me Bryan. You two just need to talk and you need to listen this time around. You can trust him, he won't hurt you. Last night, Rei was hurt more by the fact that you wouldn't listen to him than he was by what you said and how you treated him."
"He doesn't hate me after what I did?"
Kai shook his head. "I don't think he could ever truly hate you Bryan. Rei wasn't mad, he was upset. He's trying to figure out what he did wrong. As far as Rei knows, you hate him. You two need to talk so that he can understand that no one did anything wrong. It was a misunderstanding."
"I don't want him to blame himself. I just don't know if I can fix it. I just don't feel like I can trust Josh. It's not an issue of Rei, its Josh. How can Rei be so certain that he's a good guy? That Josh won't take advantage of him because of who he is to the public?"
Kai leaned his head against the top of Bryan's. "Why are you so certain he's a bad guy Bryan? Maybe after you talk things out with Rei, you should find Josh and have a talk with him. It seems that Rei has found a good friend in Josh, and he isn't going away any time soon. You two need to sort things out for Rei's sake. He can't choose between you and I don't feel he should. Talk to them both Bryan. If you need reassurance on Josh's behalf, find him and talk to him. Talk to Josh yourself and ask what his intentions are towards Rei. Rei is a good judge of character. Trust him. There has to be a reason for Rei to choose to stay in touch."
Bryan simply nodded and pulled away from the phoenix.
Kai smiled and stood from the bed. "Take a nice warm shower and stay home today. Take it slowly with Rei." Bryan again shook his head and headed towards his private bathroom. Kai softly closed the door and left the falcon to ponder his morning.
As Tala and Kai left for work that morning, Rei remained curled up with Flare in their room for a little while. After an hour or so, Bryan decided it was time to make breakfast for himself and Rei. Hopefully the tiger would feel like eating and find it in him to join Bryan instead of avoiding him. With intentions of luring Rei downstairs, Bryan decided to make one of his favorite breakfast foods, pancakes. Not long after the smell had circulated through the house, than Rei slowly edged his way into the kitchen. Bryan tried to offer an apologetic smile, but Rei refused to look at him. They both sat quietly through breakfast. Bryan continued to try to speak with Rei but the tiger kept his gaze steadily on his plate, remaining silent.
By the time they finished their breakfast, neither one had said a word. As Rei stood from the table, he passed by Bryan in order to place his dishes in the sink. On his way back towards the door, Bryan finally awoke from his daze and reached out for Rei's hand.
"Rei, wait, please!" Rei simply stood there, without turning to face Bryan. Bryan stood from his chair. "Look, Rei, about last night…"
"Now you want to talk? Or would you like to throw more criticism at me? Am I a whore now?" Rei replied calmly.
"No Rei, please, I didn't mean it like that."
"Then how did you mean it Bryan? Did you think I was just looking for anyone to fill my time? Did you think that I had sunk so low?"
"I thought nothing of the sort Rei. I know you're better than that."
"Are you sure Bryan? Were you just upset you haven't gotten your turn with me? Is that what it was about? Josh stole a kiss and you're jealous? Have you been waiting for your turn with the tiger Bryan?"
Bryan was surprised by the coldness in the tiger's voice. "Rei, I didn't mean to imply anything like that. Look, yes, I find you attractive, and yes I was jealous, but it's not like you think."
At this point, Rei turned to face Bryan with tears in his eyes. "Then why, Bryan? Why don't you trust me? Why did you refuse to listen to me last night? You say you trust me and yet you wouldn't even listen to me. You thought I was just making excuses. I was trying to explain to you and you just shut me out. My word meant absolutely nothing to you last night Bryan. What did I do to make you think so little of me?"
Bryan wrapped his arms around Rei's waist and pulled him close. "I'm so sorry Rei. I know it's not an excuse but I slipped back into my old self. I was just so mad and hurt that he tried something with you and yet you still trust him. I told you that you deserved better than this Rei. Why do you allow me to stay so close? I'm so sorry. I don't want you to hurt like this. I pushed you away last night because I didn't want to be the one hurt.
I care so much about you and I was afraid that you had actually found something that would be better for you than me and I didn't want to be hurt by it. Instead I hurt you so badly. I was wrong last night Rei and I'm truly sorry for it."
Rei wrapped his arms around Bryan's shoulders and leaned his head on the falcon's chest. "I told him no, Bryan. He understood that I wasn't interested and didn't try anything further. He obeyed my wishes and didn't pursue anything further. That is why I continue to trust him the way I do."
Bryan pulled away from Rei far enough to look down at him. "I'm sorry that I didn't listen to you Rei. You're right. I should have trusted you."
Rei looked up at Bryan. "You need to hear something else Bryan. I wasn't interested in him because… because I can't picture my life without you beside me."
Bryan gently leaned his forehead against Rei's "I am so sorry for the things that I have said."
Rei closed his eyes as he felt Bryan's hesitant breath against his face. "Just please don't turn away from me again. I couldn't take it again. I couldn't stand to lose you Bryan. You're too important to me."
"Please, forgive me for the wrongs I have done you."
Rei pulled back to look into the eyes of his falcon. "There is nothing to forgive Bryan. There is only acceptance to let me in."
Bryan stood gazing into the kitten's eyes for a mere moment before his lips gently met Rei's. The tiger stood in shock at first, but soon returned the kiss. Once Bryan felt Rei respond, he moaned softly, placing a palm to the tiger's cheek and tilting his head to deepen the kiss. Bryan felt Rei's arms tighten around his shoulders as the tiger whimpered in his hold. The reaction he was receiving from the tiger only provoked the falcon further. He slid his hands slowly down the tigers sides and wrapped each hand around each upper thigh, lifting the tiger from the floor. Rei immediately wrapped his legs around Bryan's waist for support. Bryan slowly backed his away across the kitchen until he reached the counter. He turned and eased Rei down to sit on the countertop as he slowly broke his lips away from the tiger's.
"Bryan?" Rei gasped as he leaned his forehead against Bryan's.
"Yeah, there was definitely something there."
Rei laughed gently. "You only felt something?"
Bryan smirked. "Ok, there was definitely a lot there." Bryan quickly leant back down to crush his mouth against the tiger's. Nothing seemed to matter anymore. Everything was right as long as they had each other. Bryan shuddered as Rei's hands found their way underneath his sweater.
Slowly, the passion began to dwindle from the kiss as both began to separate for much needed oxygen.
"You can't understand how long I've wanted to do that."
"Wow, If there was any doubt before, there's none there now. I think next time, Falcon; you should shut up and let your actions do the talking. I don't think I could misread that if I wanted to." Rei laughed.
Bryan smiled and wrapped his arms around Rei, pulling him in closer. "Actually, I think there is a little bit more talking I still need to do."
Ray pulled away with a questioning look.
"I think I need to have a few words with Josh." Bryan explained.
"Bryan, really, I thought we had settled this. Josh understands that I'm not interested in him. He thought I was already involved with you after I turned him down. There's nothing to worry about."
Bryan placed a finger to Rei's lips. "I don't need to talk to him about his intentions towards you. I need to talk to him about mine towards you. He deserves to know you as we do, and you deserve to have a friend that's not part of the beyblading world. If he is going to be a part of your life as a friend here, I think we should get to know each other a little better. I owe him an apology for thinking so little of him without knowing him."
Rei smiled and kissed his falcon one more time before easing himself away from the couch. "I need to go get ready to go to the restaurant for a little bit. Why don't you find Josh in that time and have a talk with him? He should be either going on lunch or at least getting a break. I'd like very much for my new boyfriend to escort me to work so that I can show him off."
Bryan grinned as Rei slid off of the counter. "I'd be happy to escort you, love, but don't push it. I'm more open with you, not the public."
Rei didn't take very long to get himself ready for the afternoon. He hoped everything would go well between Josh and Bryan. He didn't see a reason why they shouldn't be able to be civil if not friendly towards each other. Bryan's biggest problem had apparently been jealousy. Things were quite clear to all involved now as to where Rei's interest lay. He jumped only slightly when his cell phone rang on the counter. He quickly crossed the room to answer it. "Rei speaking," he answered.
"Rei, Are you home? I hoped you were but I wasn't sure." Kai asked hesitantly on the other end.
Rei smiled at the concern in the phoenix's voice. "Yeah, I'm at home still. Everything's ok, Kai. We talked after breakfast."
Kai smiled from the other end. "I'm glad to hear it. I wanted to check up on you to make sure. Is he taking you to work then? I'm still not sure I like you being out and about alone quite yet. I told him to stay home today so you guys could talk things out but if you have taken care of everything already then he can take you. He has nothing else to do today. I'd rather he be there to help you get comfortable with where you're going."
Rei laughed through the phone. "Yes, he's taking me to work. While I'm there, he's going to find Josh so they can talk things out between them. Thank you Kai."
"There's nothing to thank me for."
"Bryan wouldn't have come around completely on his own Kai. I heard some of the yelling this morning. At the least someone had to have given him a little push into talking things out. You said yourself that you told him to stay home today, so, thank you. I think things will be much better from now on."
Kai smiled at the implied meaning. "No problem kitten. Can you just do a favor for me and keep it mellow around the wolf? He doesn't need any more inspiration or influence."
Rei blushed and laughed once more. "Alright Kai, I really have to go now though. Bryan's calling and I have to get to work. I'll see you when you get home."
"Alright, we'll see you when we get home. Behave yourselves."
Rei laughed as he heard the phone disconnect and wandered downstairs to meet Bryan at the door.
"Thank you for bringing me Bryan. Even more so, thank you, for working things out between you and Josh. That really means a lot to me."
Bryan slid his arm around Rei's waist as they made their way down the walkway in the mall. Rei huddled closer to Bryan's side, using the busy walkway as an excuse to be so close to the falcon.
"There's nothing to thank me for, Rei. I should have done this before but I was too stubborn and closed minded."
Rei turned to look at Bryan as they reached the restaurant. "It still means a lot to me Bryan. It shows that you are pulling out of your shell, and that will only be good for you."
Bryan wrapped his arms around the tiger and hugged him tightly. "I'll be back in an hour or so when I finish talking with Josh, okay?"
Rei smiled against the falcon's chest. "I'll wait right here for you if I finish everything before you get back. I shouldn't be here long today. They just want to get paperwork filled out."
"No problem. I'll be back in awhile, take your time."
Rei waved one last time and Bryan continued to watch him until he disappeared around the corner of the kitchen. Once the tiger was out of sight, he turned around and headed towards the other end of the mall. Rei had said that Josh worked in one of the game shops on the other end. It didn't take him long to spot Josh through one of the windows as he strolled down the hallway. He took a few moments to take in the scene of the other man laughing and joking with one of his fellow associates behind a counter. The store didn't appear too busy so he figured it wouldn't be too hard to get him away for a little bit.
Josh spotted him as soon as he walked into the store and smiled. "Bryan. How are you? Talk about coincidence. Who would have thought I would see you guys so much in just a couple of days."
Bryan looked around the store, now feeling nervous. "Actually it's not so much a coincidence. I know you had lunch with Rei yesterday. That's actually part of why I came to see you today. He told me you worked here. Is it possible for you to take some time to talk with me?"
Josh frowned and looked at his coworker. "Jim, are you okay if I take lunch now?"
The other man behind the counter simply shook his head in approval. Josh locked his station and stepped out from behind the counter. "Thanks."
He then turned to Bryan and gestured for him to go ahead of him. "Please, after you, Bryan. What did you need to talk to me about?"
Bryan hesitated as they continued side by side towards the food court. "I actually came to talk to you about Rei, and to apologize."
Josh looked at him, confused. "Why do you need to apologize?"
Bryan hesitated while they placed their order and received their food. When they sat down he looked down at his food, avoiding the other man's eyes. "I judged you without knowing you yesterday."
Josh received a confused look from Bryan when he groaned aloud. "Rei told you about lunch yesterday, didn't he?"
"Did you not want him to tell me about your meeting?" Bryan raised an eyebrow at the other man.
"It's not that I didn't want him to tell you about it. I had just been hoping that it wouldn't have the affects that it has apparently had. Look, you don't have to worry."
"I know. You don't have to go into it. Rei and I talked this morning. That's why I wanted to apologize for judging you."
"So you guys worked things out? You aren't jealous? You aren't mad at me?"
"No, I'm not upset anymore. Like I said, I'm sorry for judging you."
"Bryan, did you guys talk about everything? Tell me you did."
Bryan nodded and continued to look at his plate. "We did. We're together now."
"I'm happy to hear it Bryan. I could tell when I first saw you two that there was something between you, but I couldn't tell what."
Bryan frowned. "I just hope I can be what he wants. I don't want to hurt him again. I hurt him so badly last night when I got jealous over the kiss."
Josh blushed slightly at the reference. "Umm, I'm sorry about that Bryan. I promise it won't happen again. I won't cross lines you don't feel comfortable with. I don't want to come in between you guys. He really cares for you. I don't want him to lose that."
Bryan looked up at Josh then. "Actually, I want you to stay close to him. I got my lesson this morning. I was lucky that he would talk to me this morning. I don't want to see him hurt like that. I can guarantee that I'll never hurt him on purpose, but I still might hurt him accidentally. I can't control that. I want him to have someone he can talk to that doesn't live in the same house. Rei needs a friend that he can talk to, and Kai and Tala don't deserve to be put in the middle like they were."
Josh smiled. "Bryan, if you care enough to tell me that, then you guys shouldn't have any major problems. Every couple has their small differences. Besides, I hope you'll eventually consider me your friend too."
Bryan nodded and they both remained quiet until they had finished their food and Josh's lunch break was over. As they stood to empty their trash, Bryan caught Josh's attention. "Thank you, Josh, for being there for Rei when I wasn't."
Josh smiled. "It was nothing Bryan. I just gave him a shove in the right direction. I wish you guys well."
Bryan nodded and the two men split into their different directions. When Bryan got back to the restaurant, Rei was just finishing with his paperwork. The tiger easily slid into the welcoming embrace of the falcon. "How was lunch?" he asked quietly.
Bryan tightened his hold on the tiger. "It went well. Josh and I worked out our differences. And he knows that when we disagree and I'm being a total jerk and not listening, he has full permission to knock some sense into me."
Rei smiled as the two headed towards the exit and then the car. "Hmm, I'll have to remember that for the next time."
The two shared a quiet laugh and exited the mall.
Rei barely had time to brace himself inside the door before he found his arms full with a redheaded wolf. "Well, good evening Tala. You're in a good mood."
Tala smiled as he pulled away from the tiger. "And why shouldn't I be? You guys worked things out this morning and you're both happy. That makes me happy." Tala frowned though when he looked past Rei and saw the other Russian. "Should you ever pull that stunt again, I will not hesitate to sit you down myself and force some sense into you." The wolf then smiled and wrapped his arms around the falcon. "I'm glad you came around Bry. I'm happy for the both of you. Now come on, we picked up Chinese for dinner on the way home. Kai has everything set up in the living room."
The trio made their way into the living room to find Kai curled in one of the chairs with Flare and food spread all over the small table in the middle of the room.
Rei laughed when he heard the contented purr coming from the kitten. "I see he found another friend."
Kai scowled. "The brat hasn't left my side since we got home. He's not a very independent cat, is he?" Flare simply meowed at Kai when he shifted the kitten out of his lap. It only took a few seconds for Flare to realize that Rei had come home and was seated on the couch. Flare quickly ran to the couch and made himself comfortable in Rei's lap.
Bryan laughed and slid onto the couch beside the tiger and rubbed the orange cat behind the ears. "He still knows who his favorite is though."
All four made themselves comfortable eating dinner and watching movies for the rest of the evening. No one felt the stress of worry any more. Things had worked out in the end. Rei never thought he would have found himself staying in Russia, but now as he lay curled in the arms of his falcon, he looked around the room. Tala had slid himself into the chair with Kai and the two were curled comfortably together. As he took in the scene, he found that he felt more at home here than he had anywhere in his whole life. His teammate, captain, and friend had brought him here, and here he knew he would stay, for he couldn't picture himself anywhere else now except in the presence of the phoenix, the wolf, and his falcon.