Edited: April 2014 (yes, this is getting rewritten!)
MasterFranny: BrooklynKai needs more love. That's why I am writing this… I love the couple and love both of them. Enjoy!
Summary: (main BrooklynKai, side GarlandTala, ReiMystel) Post G–rev. Kai still has some 'grudges' against Brooklyn, but the older teen is determined to erase them…
Warning: this work contains (obviously) yaoi. Read at your discretion.
Disclaimer: I do not own BeyBlade, it belongs to Takao Aoki.
"(Talking into other languages)"
–dreams sequences, flashbacks, memories–
Chapter 01: Presence
The sky was dark, just as dark as his thoughts were, and as he looked up, observing the gloomy clouds hovering above him, he idly thought it was just fitting, even though he enjoyed this kind of weather.
The clouds were so dark they blended together like a thick mist, and it was late enough in the afternoon that the contours started blurring with the darkening sky behind them, making it look like a blanket was slowly covering the city, hiding away the few glittery stars from sight.
From where he was standing, he had the perfect sight in front of him of the city as night advanced on it, the lampposts and the streetlights flickering like little fireflies in the distance, small beacons of light in the dark, and Kai sighed, returning his attention upwards after a last, almost forlorn glance.
Crimson eyes followed the glinting red eyes of a plane soaring high until it hit the blanket of dark clouds, then he lost interest, muscles lax and limbs sprawled out on the grass, strangely soothed by the complete silence around him.
Kai Hiwatari, BeyBlade champion and leader of the BladeBreakers, idly wondered if it would rain later, and allowed the thought to linger in the back of his head, unconcerned about it either way.
Everything was quiet, and he relished it, a moment of peace that allowed him to forget about all his duties and responsibilities, few precious minutes of rest to recharge without interruptions or loud people.
A patch of sky still free from clouds attracted his attention, eyes staring at the quarter moon glowing softly, and Kai allowed himself a few precious seconds to fool himself that nothing else existed but himself and the moon, taking some relief in the fact that he was alone, with himself, and nothing was wrong in the world.
There were times he just needed this kind of feeling, even if he was just fooling himself, to know that he wasn't needed anywhere, that he could relax without keeping up his cold attitude, stop behaving like others wanted him to.
He shuffled a bit, feeling the soft fabric of his scarf carefully folded under his head. His scarf was usually heavy, as an extra workout exercise, but it felt good to remove it once in a while to let his muscles rest.
There were times he wondered if this was even necessary anymore –it wasn't like Boris would come back, it wasn't like his grandfather would ever come out of prison. He was technically safe, he could lighten up on his regime, he could…
Ah, but it was useless to think like that. This training had been carved into his mind through years and years of servitude to Voltaire, and it wouldn't be that easy to just relax, even if a part of him wanted to.
Kai sighed, trying to stop this train of thoughts. It wouldn't do to start this again, not when he just wanted to relax.
Propping himself up, his head comfortably nested in the crook of his joined arms, unfocused eyes still idly focused on the sky above, Kai tried to think when the last time he'd felt this free had been.
There were days, prior to joining his team, prior to getting most of his memories back, that he would have spent days on end like this, free of worry and free of care; days when he hadn't needed to worry about championships, or people trying to conquer the world.
There had been days when he would spend all day like this, when he hadn't needed to worry about championships or people trying to dominate the world. Days when hours would be spent resting and thinking and no one had ever known –not even Boris, who was his Director and knew everything about him.
But years had passed by, he grew up and things changed, until nothing would ever return to what it was before. But still, as his mind went back to his past, the slate haired teen slouched on the grass knew he would not entirely miss what he'd let back, either.
His past was too dark and too painful, and concealed behind the mask he usually wore, he was determined in not allowing it to hurt him anymore. Looking up, he was searching for his freedom, for a way to cope with it without getting hurt.
But in nights such as those, nothing really mattered. Nothing else was important.
He had chosen this particular spot because of its good view on the city, a small hill surrounded by trees with no nearby artificial illumination and secluded enough that nobody would even want to come here, no cars, no people. Just him.
It wouldn't do to ruin everything by allowing himself to think about the past again.
He forced his eyes close again, and breathed deeply, making his muscles relax one by one.
The past few weeks had been seriously heavy on his mind, and for the duration of the new championship he had avoided any sort of rest, no matter the kind of weight that put on his back. His teammates might have protested, if he had let them know, but alas, they were still in the dark about it, and even Mr. Dickinson didn't know of how much he'd strained himself for the sake of competition.
Now, he was just too happy to take everything off his back and try to get some of his deserved rest. Boris, Tyson's idealistic idea of justice, the fight and the new opponents… he let everything go.
To think that one of those matches had been almost able to kill him… Kai had faced dire situations more than once, had brushed sides with death over and over, even facing his own demons and choosing the right path, but the kind of despair he'd confronted when blading against that genius Brooklyn had been something else entirely.
Brooklyn was strong –stronger than Kai was, possibly stronger than he could ever be, and Kai had seen something far too dark that one time. He had thought he would die, too… but in the end, it hadn't happened.
By a twisted turn of fate, Kai's hold on life had been tight enough to keep him living, and that was fine. He hadn't really wanted to die, not now.
Unfortunately, this last strain hadn't left him unharmed. After the severe loss of energy due to that fight, he'd been left with… health complications… that had yet to fade, even now that the weariness and the weakness were finally leaving his body.
The sound of footsteps on grass alerted him that someone was coming, bursting his safe heaven with their presence, and he tensed up minutely, fighting against the instinct to open his eyes and glare at the newcomer.
Was it Tala? The red-head knew where Kai went when he needed some time off, so it was possible he'd decided to visit to make sure he was ok. It wasn't really like Tala to be uncaring of those who had been on his team, after all. Kai knew that.
Kai felt the other person sit down next to him, a whiff of air making his hair sway at the motion; the visitor was careful to keep the silence going as so not to annoy him, but unfortunately his small bubble had been shattered with this person's arrival, so Kai knew one of them would speak sometimes soon, and break this quiet once and for all.
His entire body tensed up now that someone else was there, Kai took a deep breath and then finally opened his eyes, ready to glance at whoever the other person was–
Bright orange hair was the first thing that met his eyes, together with bright, white clothes, and Kai's calm demeanour faltered at the sight of him sitting there like nothing was wrong. Brooklyn wasn't even looking at him, green eyes lazily staring into the air, at the sky above them, vacant expression making it seem like the teen hadn't even realised Kai was there… which was obviously just a pose, since Brooklyn was the one who'd approached him.
Still, neither spoke yet.
Kai was starting to feel uneasy, as this silence was tense on his part and not one he liked to keep, but the orange-haired teenager was an enigma that he didn't quite like, and he couldn't relax in his presence, even though Brooklyn seemed to think nothing was wrong.
And yet he couldn't speak, not to him, not…
Time ticked on. Seconds, then minutes, but the tension in his shoulders didn't go away. He shifted uncomfortably, not wanting to relax back but also not wanting to leave, because this place was his, and Brooklyn was the unwelcome visitor. He didn't want to relinquish his spot to the other teen like that… it wouldn't be like him.
He debated with himself about it for a bit, and just when he had decided that Brooklyn could keep this place if he really liked it so much, and was ready to stand up and leave, green eyes finally shifted from the sky to stare at him, burning through him and nailing him to the spot, unable to move away.
Still, Brooklyn did not speak, but his focus on Kai made the other teen unable to move, frozen on the spot as memories of their last meeting flashed in front of him. memories of their BeyBlade fight, of the heated battle that caused his greatest fears to play again, wrapping around him and trying to drown him away. Memories of the dark creature that Brooklyn controlled, eyes lingering right out of sight, observing Kai, enveloped in darkness–
Crimson eyes met green in a long, wordless glance, both teens looking blank and emotionless, although one of them was hiding his turmoil and his growing panic with increasing difficulty.
Why was Brooklyn here? How had he found him? Why now, too?
And more to the point… why wasn't he speaking? The silence was making Kai feel anxious, was making him focus on things he didn't want to think about –Brooklyn's BitBeast, Zeus, so similar to Black Dranzer, enticing and scary and so powerful…
Kai kept his expression schooled into a neutral one, but inside he kept wondering why was Brooklyn there. They hadn't met after their battle, and given how obsessed Brooklyn had been with Tyson, Kai didn't think the other teen even remembered who he was, so…
Damn. Brooklyn was really weird.
Not that he had any right to talk, Kai had to remind himself. He was well aware of how strange he could appear to normal people, what with his unusual crimson eyes and the shark fin marks on his cheeks.
But Kai knew of his own reasons for keeping the fins on his cheeks, and he knew his own reasons for being… well, for being himself.
On the other end, he couldn't understand Brooklyn, he couldn't get what made him tick.
To his eyes, he was just a kind of strange that he could not process.
He always smiled as if nothing was wrong in the world, quiet and serene, eyes warm and welcoming, like the world was a playground of happiness and cheer (and possibly drugs, given his vacant eyes whenever he wasn't fighting a worthy opponent) and then, in the blink of an eye, the reassuring smile would turn to a sadistic grin, eyes turning sharp and intense, taking on an edge that Kai would even call lusty.
He could not read him like he read everybody else, like he could look at anyone from the other teams and know what would make them tick, what would make them react.
And this inability made him wary. He didn't like not having the upper hand.
Weird, strange, it didn't matter; Brooklyn was someone he couldn't stand being close to. It was not fear, he kept repeating over and over in his mind. He was not afraid of Brooklyn, not at all, and he was not afraid of Zeus!
Kai was particularly proficient in ignoring a small voice that murmured of denial in the back of his head.
Brooklyn was still looking at him, unreadable eyes burning into his own, and just when Kai thought that maybe he could move again, a small smile slowly appeared on the other teen's lips.
"Stay," Brooklyn finally murmured. "You don't need to go, Kai".
Brooklyn's voice so soft it was barely audible, and it was jarring how to Kai it felt like he hadn't even broken the silence, almost as if his voice was meant for the silence.
What scared him about that was that Brooklyn was looking comfortable, at ease, and a part of Kai felt that he could be the same, if only he could relax in his presence…
And he didn't like that.
He didn't want Brooklyn to act like he could be comfortable in his presence, and he certainly didn't want to feel like that either. Not with Brooklyn. He didn't want to get along with him, because… because…
No, it wasn't fear, he didn't fear him, he didn't.
Another flash of memories, of darkness, and a majestic shape attacking him… Zeus.
The feeling of hopelessness, of sinking down without anything to grasp onto, falling and knowing that he would be drowned out, and darkness would find him again
Empty and hollow and filled with a darkness as thick as blood, wide insane eyes watching him drown, Zeus and Brooklyn staring down at him, faces twisted in a sadistic smirk, destroying all the barriers Kai had painstakingly created to keep himself from ever going back, making him face his nightmare, that he wasn't nearly strong enough–
Hell inside his own mind, lost and trapped within the confines of himself, facing all his mistakes and his weakness, and knowing there was no hope for him to ever come out, that he was faulty and broken and things would never be mended again, no matter how much he acted like things were ok.
It had hurt then, and it still hurt now.
And despite his denial, the fear of ever having to face that again was there, paralyzing him. He came out of that darkness once, not feeling like he had conquered anything, simply feeling tired and even more burdened with things he'd tried to forget, and he knew that he might not be strong enough to do it again. That darkness had threatened to make him lose himself, and he would not be lucky enough to escape a second time.
Kai hadn't even realised he had looked down at his hands, but he could still feel the weight of Brooklyn's gaze on him, so he looked back up, not wanting to look as weak as he felt, and faltered once more under the scrutiny of the other teen. Brooklyn's eyes were warm, filled with something caring and gentle, and Kai couldn't understand that kind of gaze, he didn't want to, and there was something else inside it, an edge that felt familiar to Kai, almost… almost like a craving.
Kai swallowed the knot in his throat and realised that he was trembling, though it wasn't noticeable, and he was feeling cold, like ice was spreading inside him and sucking away all warmth.
Green eyes, piercing through him…
Kai stumbled up to his feet.
He didn't want to stay any longer in Brooklyn's presence, forced to see things, forced to think about stuff he wanted to forget, and without caring what it would look like, he simply turned around and ran, pride momentarily forgotten in his haste to just get away.
And even then, even as he ran, he still refused to admit of his fear.
Brooklyn stared at his retreating form, confusion and… hurt? clear in his eyes, not sure as to why Kai would run like this from him, then with a soft sigh, he eased his body down on the grass, mimicking what he'd seen Kai do before, and looked up at the sky, watching the moon being swallowed by the thick blanket of clouds.
It would rain.
Overall, Kai felt he was lucky.
He had managed to get away from responsibilities again and for an entire afternoon, so instead of training (he felt he could forego a day of training just this once) he returned to the small hill he'd chosen the previous day.
With the sun shining above his head instead of the moon, and the warmth on his skin, he felt like he could doze off, no dark thought hanging over his head despite the encounter of the night before.
It was unfortunate the other teen had appeared when he had, ruining Kai's night like that. He'd hoped to get some rest but no, Brooklyn had to appear.
Despite the warmth of the sun, Kai shivered, feeling cold.
It was a reaction he'd come to expect whenever thinking about Brooklyn, and he didn't like it.
Uneasy wouldn't be how he'd explain he felt about the orange-haired teen, simply because it wasn't that easy. Brooklyn was a bit like him, in a way –he hid away his emotions behind a mask, only Kai's was an emotionless one, while Brooklyn hid what he felt behind a layer of pleasantness.
Kai shook his head, refusing to listen to the ghost whispers of his past. That was time that would never return, and he wouldn't let it. He still had a long life to live, and he was determined to free himself and only face forwards.
Still, it was harder than he'd thought, especially after his fight with Brooklyn, when instead of forgetting he'd been forced to remember.
He grabbed his arms, nails digging into his skin, and the sharp pain was a relief from the memories, preventing him from falling back into them. It would be ok, he knew it, it had to be. He just needed more time.
A sudden stab of pain from his hands reminded him sharply of his current problem, so he slowly let go of his arms, relaxing his tense fingers and lowering his arms down, his breathing shallow as he waited for the throbs of pain to calm down.
The fact that thinking about Brooklyn could force him out of his defences, make his carefully built mask tremble, was enough of a reason to keep away from him, and since Brooklyn also reminded him of the darkness, it was all the more reasons not to see him again. He didn't want to end up insane, and things were building too fast for his liking.
He had to keep the other teen away.
Kai was used to act as if nothing could scare him. It was a defence mechanism, and acting up would only make others back away, leaving him space to breathe.
The truth was, if there was someone he was scared of, that was Boris; all the boys at the abbey were frightened by him, even the once Demolition Boys, now Blitzkrieg Boys, or NeoBorg, and he knew he had to become strong, stronger than anybody else, so that nothing could ever scare him again.
He swore to himself that he would grow up and stop being afraid of Boris, of his grandfather, and that never happened; he had never faced anything that scared him, and slowly his mask had strengthened, until he was pretty sure of his own capabilities. He hadn't thought he would ever find anything else that would challenge it…
He wasn't scared of him. He wasn't afraid of him. It was just that…
Looking up, tense and filled with dread, he saw the same person he'd been thinking about walking calmly towards him, eyes sparkling and a soft smile on his lips.
For a split second, Kai's stomach tightened and twisted, though he wasn't sure exactly how to feel about it, then he swallowed and tried to calm down his nerves, feeling his nerves twitching.
Brooklyn wasn't doing anything, he was simply there, smiling, and that was enough to trigger Kai's instincts, and to shatter his control.
Kai tightened his hands into fists, ignoring the sharp pain travelling up his arms, and looked down at the grass, unwilling to keep his attention on Brooklyn, not if he couldn't control himself.
An image of Zeus flickered before his slightly unfocused eyes, but Kai willed himself not to be dragged away by the rush of memories.
In a great effort, he managed not to shudder under the piercing gaze, and with an even greater strain and effort, he looked up and straight into Brooklyn's eyes, almost as if daring him to come any closer.
"What do you want?" he wanted to sound harsh and disdainful, but his voice almost wavered, so he settled for trying to look uncaring. Either way, it was better than squeaking anyway. So what if his voice sounded slightly panicked? At least he wasn't backing down… it was just… Brooklyn.
Brooklyn's smile never faltered, and again Kai thought how similar they were, both hiding under a mask of deceit… but the thought was replaced by Zeus's image, and then the BitBeast turned into the Black Phoenix, and suddenly he felt lightheaded.
'No!' he told himself. 'Don't think about her, don't think about anything, focus on him'.
Brooklyn cleared his throat. "You disappeared last night, and I wanted to know… how are your hands?"
Kai froze once more.
The question left him shocked, as he hadn't thought somebody had noticed. Not even Tala, of all people, knew, and they were tentatively friendly with each other. He'd been good at hiding his problem, so that nobody would even notice anything was wrong.
Kai bit his tongue to the point of drawing blood in order to stop himself from trembling. He couldn't take this.
Coppery liquid filled his mouth and for a single moment he had the urge to spit it on the perfect smile the older teen was offering him, but instead he swallowed it, almost doubling over in disgust at the metallic taste.
"How…" he gritted his teeth, his voice didn't sound like him at all.
"Well, that'd be a secret, Kai," Brooklyn replied, his smile holding an edge of smugness that Kai didn't appreciate.
Zeus' wielder shook his head, seeing Kai's uneasiness at his words, and decided to add, "it was obvious by the way you act," his smile thinned a bit as he glanced down at Kai's clenched fists. "They have to hurt, right?"
Kai retreated lightly, until his back was pressed against the tree behind him, eyes watching every move of the older teen. Brooklyn didn't seem aware of the tension he caused in him, because he advanced, ignoring Kai's defensive stance, until he was as close to him as he could, one hand reaching out for Kai's cheek, slowly caressing it, ignoring how still Kai was.
"Take care of yourself, ok?" Brooklyn murmured, leaning forwards and smiling again, somewhat sheepishly.
Without thinking, Kai reacted by grabbing Brooklyn's wrist, pushing the hand away from his face even though just holding it was painful, panic flashing into his eyes.
"Don't. Ever Touch. Me. Again," he growled, eyes narrowed and filled with contrasting emotions. "I don't like being touched".
Suddenly, Brooklyn's expression changed. The carefree and happy mask melted away, leaving him looking completely serious, eyes almost flashing as he replied, "but you know, I don't like being told what to do…"
Kai let go of his wrist, shocked by the abrupt change, and inhaled sharply. Instinctively he looked around, trying to find a way to escape Brooklyn, and the thought filled him with shame. He shouldn't be running, he should stand his ground and make the other teen realise there was nothing to be gained there, and that Kai wasn't afraid.
And still, he couldn't control his reactions, and his instincts screamed for him to run again.
"If this is a threat, I am not afraid," he growled.
He hoped he looked convincing enough, as his voice was anything but steady.
Not afraid, he was not afraid–
Brooklyn's serious expression melted into a small smile again, a faintly amused one.
"Maybe you should be," he replied smoothly, though he chuckled after a few seconds, almost as if to say he'd been joking.
Kai paled slightly. Brooklyn was so close to him he could faintly smell the fruity hair conditioner the other teen used, and he glanced into his eyes, hoping he could finally grow to understand him, but it just was not possible.
They were green and mesmerizing, and Kai felt another wave of something fill him, a mix of apprehension and dread, or maybe something different that he couldn't name. Brooklyn's presence could mess up with him this much, and his lack of control, of understanding, was too much to take.
Still, Kai could also see the kind of appeal that Brooklyn had, he could understand as much at least, and it was scary to think that even with his background, even with the memories forced out by him, Brooklyn could still look so… attractive.
The moment was broken by a well-known voice calling out from somewhere nearby, "Kai? Where are you?"
Kai snapped out of his shock and hastily pushed Brooklyn away, eager to put enough distance between them to feel a bit more at ease; he glared in his general direction before rushing away, trying to keep his pace sedated despite his panic.
"Stay away from me," he hissed, but cowardly avoided looking at Brooklyn's eyes either way.
Then he turned around and schooled his expression back under his control as he moved to greet Rei, who was clearly coming to find him.
Brooklyn observed with curiosity the way Kai acted with his teammate, tilting his head to the side and wishing idly he could hear what the two were conversing about. Kai acted with him in a way he didn't with the others, and that irked him.
Pressing his back against the same tree he'd cornered Kai against, Brooklyn closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep, calming breath. His lips were curled in a pleased smile, because all he'd wanted was to see Kai, and he'd managed it, and now this desire had twisted, instead of dissipating, and he wanted more.
"Oh, but do you know what I do like, Kai?" he whispered to no one, chuckling softly. "I like challenges…"
"Kai, are you sure you're ok? You look like you were caught in the middle of a storm," Rei smiled at him, to signal he was just poking fun at him, then looked ahead. "It took me a while to figure out where you could have gone, and I swear it was not easy! Anyway, I wanted to talk with you about something…"
Kai wasn't really paying attention to Rei. There was a loud buzzing in his ears, and he couldn't concentrate, because Brooklyn had triggered his panic and it was hard enough to keep his face emotionless, let alone actually calm himself down.
Brooklyn's dark beast had nothing on that other creature, darker than Zeus could ever be, eyes as red as blood and feathers of the deepest black, a living embodiment of evil and hatred…
That was it, wasn't it? The moment he'd seen Zeus, during his first match with Brooklyn, the sight of that beast had made Kai remember another creature he longed to forget forever. They had the same hatred filled eyes, the same aura of evil around them, but as opposed to him with Black Dranzer, Brooklyn could control Zeus.
Or at least he could most of the time. Kai had seen him slip during his fight with Tyson, and that was another thing they had in common… and yet, despite his momentary lack of control, Brooklyn didn't seem to care nor realise the kind of power he wielded.
Maybe he didn't care, maybe he was not aware of what could happen, maybe the creature was controlling him, letting him believe things were ok until it decided to strike… Kai didn't know. But the thought only served to remind him of his own situation.
He'd had a beast exactly like Zeus once, and it had been hard to get rid of it before it was too late, and even now Black Dranzer still haunted him in his sleep, and the whole situation was growing to be far too much to handle. Black Dranzer and Zeus were enough to be worrisome, but even Brooklyn himself was a source of discomfort.
Kai still didn't know why he was scared of him, and he hoped he would get it soon. Denial would only work for so long before it shattered, and Kai had to learn to be honest with himself at some point… right?
"Kai, are you ok? Kai?"
Crimson eyes trailed down to his aching hands, flashes of the fight against him once again showing up in his mind, and the trembling returned.
Every time the green eyes looked at him. Every time he heard the older teen's voice. Every time he felt his presence was close…
"Kai? Why are you trembling?! Kai, can you hear me?!"
Rei was worried, as Kai had started trembling, eyes focused on his hands, and wasn't answering no matter how much Rei called out to him. He didn't know what was going on, or why Kai was reacting this way, but it worried him, and he wished he could help.
On his own, Kai had come to terms with the harsh truth, and it only made him feel more ashamed of himself.
He was scared of Brooklyn… and he didn't even have a reason for it.
MasterFranny: thank you for reading this chapter! If you like BeyBlade, be sure to check my other fics, though they are mostly Tala/Kai.
If you liked, feel free to leave a review!