Weeelll..It hasn't been that long has it? XD Lol! Sorry for the wait my precious readers, but, as warned last time I posted I've been rather busy since chapter 14. If you're now asking, "Oh, yeah, sure, and what exactly did you do?" I will give you a quick update, ok!

Since chapter 14, I've: finished high school and remodelled 7 uniforms into 'the 7 dwarves' costumes (turns out I'm the only one in my group who can sew, who knew?), studied for a month non-stop (not exaggerating), done 6 exams, written three essays, passed my VCE with a very good score, thank you very much, successfully gotten into the university course I've been aiming for all year, and even done a little original writing and NCIS fanfictioning on the side. So never fear, I've spent my time well ;)

This chapter I managed to write in 6 days, so yeah, I started on Thursday. Um…not sure how I did that…

I want to dedicate this chapter to darkheart1992, AnimeCrazy88, MrsMonkeyDHitachiinx3, and DarkAngelita, who review almost every chapter. Thank you guys so much for your support!

Enjoy


Feelings and a Fever.

Kaoru stood on the balcony, slouched over the railing and arms hanging down loosely towards the city below her.

"Tyson, I'm going to kill you!"

It was just another average day in the hotel room of the world champion team.

"Just because you know I'm right - ahh!" A pot of eye glitter soared out of the open balcony doors and Kaoru watched its flight with mild, but unconcerned interest.

She was getting bored. The city was beautiful, without a doubt, but she'd been standing looking at it for a while. She briefly considered dropping a spitball down into the masses of pedestrians, but thought better of it. She was a polite person.

"Give my damn phone back or I'll take your balls in compensation!"

Kaoru walked back into the room just as Tyson squealed like a girl and dived behind a couch. She took a pad of paper and walked back out onto the balcony.

"Geez - ah!- Kai, dammit, I'm just, -shit -, looking! Stop," a crash sounded, "attacking me!"

To dear yourself. Kaoru wrote. I am bored. She tore the sheet and then threw the paper from the balcony, watching it dip and glide down across the streets and out of site. She sighed.

"I don't care what your just doing! Give me my phone dipshit!"

"Come on! We're mates aren't we!"

"NO!"

Kaoru stared across the side of their hotel to a balcony three floors and two rooms across from them that she happened to know belonged to the All Starz. She narrowed her eyes, considering the distance and trajectory, and then, taking a blank sheet, folded it into an aeroplane, aimed and threw.

"We've known each other for years!"

"I've known Ray and Max for years to and I wouldn't let them have my phone either! Give it back!"

The plane flew wide but only by a little. Kaoru's eyes narrowed further at the failure and she stood up, walking back inside and ducking as the phone flew over her head into the hands of a surprised and suddenly terrified Hilary. Kaoru took a paper clip, and walked back to the balcony, watching Tyson swoop down and reclaim the phone as she went.

"Kai you have like 6 contacts!"

"I will throw you off the roof!"

"No, one, two, three - eight! Eight contacts, look!"

She attached the paper clip and as an after thought wrote a short note on the paper. Then, squinting in concentration, threw it at the All Starz balcony. It touched down, sitting outside the door innocently. Kaoru began to cackle in delight.

We are gonna beat your asses. Love, Kaoru.

"You are dead!"

"Wah! Ray save me!"

Over her current entertainment Kaoru turned to watch the fight. Tyson had fled behind Ray, still clutching Kai's phone.

"How do you do it, huh, Kai? You have girls throwing themselves at you everyday, and yet the only people you've got numbers from are us, Kenny, Hiro and Mr. Dickenson."

"Ever consider that I don't want to talk to stupid fangirls, moron?"

"Yeh," Tyson laughed, "Or actually just once they realise what a total asshole you are they forget to give you the number to call them back on."

"I'm just not as interested as you are, Tyson. Give me my phone."

"So your gay?"

"I'm not gay! Give me the phone!"

Kaoru raised an eyebrow, amused as Max restrained Kai, Ray shielded Tyson and Hilary stood between looking worried.

"But you're not interested…."

"No, I'm just not desperate. Like you apparently are. At least I don't have a crush that I'm just too cowardly to admit. Right Tyson? How's it coming with Hilary anyway?"

"I'm not desperate!" Cried Tyson, suddenly being restrained by Ray instead of protected, "And I don't like Hilary!" He tacked on, loudly.

Kaoru smiled at the scene, resting her chin on a fist, and elbow on crossed legs.

"Bullshit, anyone with half a brain knows you do. Oh, wait, no, I guess you wouldn't then."

"Dammit! Shut up you jerk! The truth is your such an antisocial ass you couldn't get a date if you tried!"

"So your blind and dumb!" Sneered Kai, "Just a moment ago you were going on about the masses of girls that threw themselves at me! And you don't think one could be persuaded to date me?"

"Well then none of them could possible enjoy a date with you!"

"And what's the wager?" Kaoru asked politely, coming to stand beside Hilary.

Faces turned to her in surprise, Tyson and Kai finally falling quiet.

"The what?" Asked Tyson, blinking.

"What's the wager? What are the rules and what's the reward if Kai succeeds?"

They continued to stare at her.

"I propose that if Kai wins, and manages to make a girl enjoy a date with, then you become his slave for a day, Tyson." The boy gaped. "Naturally, however, if Tyson wins, and indeed said girl does not enjoy the date, Kai becomes Tyson's slave. What do you think?"

"I think I could use a slave." Kai grinned.

"What? You jerk; who said you'd win? There's no way. You're gonna be my slave before you know it!"

"I'll take that as a yes." Kaoru smiled. "So, rules, the date must be planned and executed by Kai solely, and can go on as long as he sees fit for the girls enjoyment. The girl can be anyone."

"Accept you and Hil." Tyson cut in, "You two are bias, you'll say you enjoyed yourself just to make me be his slave."

Kaoru laughed, and Hilary blinked, then smiled guiltily. "Alight, not us then. But to test if the date was a true success, Hilary or I will ask the girl what she thought of going out with Kai without her knowing it was a dare. She'll feel like she can tell the truth to us, and she'll say if it was bad or not."

There was a pause.

"I guess." Grumbled Tyson, maybe realising that this wasn't the best idea.

"Fine." Agreed Kai.

"I doubt you can even get a girl, asshole."

"Oh you just watch, idiot."

"Hey, how long does he have for this Kaoru?"

"Hm…How about we say until midnight tomorrow?"

"What!" Cried Kai, eyes suddenly bulging.

"Hah!" Tyson yelled jubilantly. "Let's see how you do now!"

Kaoru smiled and winked at Kai. "Don't look so betrayed. Would I let you down?" And whipped out her phone, the others watching curiously as she dialled a number.

It rang for only a moment.

"Hey." Kaoru grinned as the voice of her friend poured into her ear. "Yeh…yeh I know it was super exciting. Yeh, I'm sure." She laughed a little. "Hey, listen, I've got an offer for you which I think you will like." She smiled, at looked at Kai with amusement and wicked intent shining in sapphire eyes. "How about a date with the one and only Kai Hiwatari?" The phone screamed and Kaoru held it away from her ear.

"What!" Cried Tyson at the same time. "You can't help him like that!"

"No," Kaoru assured her friend while the phone continued to shriek and squeal. "I can't help him with anything to do with the date. No one ever said I couldn't help him with the girl." She put the phone back to her ear. "So when are you free." A tumbled of excited words poured out of the phone for several minutes. "Yeah…" Kaoru agreed unsurely. "So later today? 2:00 sounds good. Yeah, he's looking really forward to it." She laughed. "Ok, see you later! Bye!"

She hung up.

"You have a date at 2 o'clock Kai-kun. Looks like you won't be needing two days after all!"

The whole group gaped at her.

"And…uh…" Kai frowned at her, "My date is?"

Kaoru smirked. "Oh? You met her earlier, remember? Nikki!"

"What!" Cried Tyson and Kai in unison.

"That's not fair! She's obsessed with Kai!" Burst Tyson, while Kai just sunk to the floor, shell-shocked at the idea of going on a date with a fangirl.

"Uh-uh," Kaoru waged a finger, grinning. "The agreement was ANY girl." She began to walk away from the group humming, "Oh," She suddenly remembered, and turned around. "I'll be putting $50 on Kai, if anyone wants to bet me." She winked, and disappeared. New entertainment procured.


When Kai had asked Kaoru where he was meeting Nikki for their date (the word make him shudder) she'd frowned at him and said, "I can't help you with the date remember?" Instead she'd given him the room Nikki was staying in, and her phone number.

Unsurpsingly he'd opted to text her, rather than picking her up.

Now he sat uncomfortably on the booth side of a table set for two in a little café near to, but not in sight of their hotel. The café was decorated in shades of reds and whites, the tables small and quaint, and made of polished wood, and a counter set along one side, playing host to one very big, very expensive looking coffee machine, and a display of fifty odd little cakes, slices and sweets. He thought he'd done pretty well on location, for someone who'd never had a date in his life.

That was the thing, and he'd never let Tyson know it, but he was nervous. More so because it was a fangirl and god, if he had to sit there for hours being told how wonderful he was he was going to take that big cream puff and shove it down his throat until he stopped breathing and died.

The bell on the door chimed happily and he looked up to see Nikki come through it, a little smile on her face as she spotted him.

"Hi." She blushed.

"Hey." He returned unsurely.

She sat down, her eyes moving towards the counter and cake display, part in curiosity and part in shyness. Kai guessed it was probably a big deal to go on a date with your idol.

"Thank-you." She said suddenly, just as Kai was feeling the need to fill the silence. He looked back at her and found happy green eyes looking up at him without fear or inhibition, shining sincerely. "For taking me on a date."

"Your welcome." He answered, and it was, surprisingly, the truth. He liked the sincerity in her smile, and the boldness that few other girls besides Kaoru had, to look him straight in the eyes. "Kaoru said that, uh, you'd always been a fan of mine, and that a date would really mean a lot to you so, I thought, why not."

And then she grinned, "Yeah, I'm sure! Really though, what did Kaoru do to force you into this?" She asked, and suddenly all shyness fled and she laughed at the thought, and his obvious lie.

Kai scoffed, upset to be found out for lying, and yet for some reason liking her more as the girl took no offence from finding out her date had been a sham. Nonetheless he felt the need to regain control, and remembering their meeting, asked haughtily, "Shouldn't you be bowing now?"

Nikki's laugh trailed off and she raised a brow. "Oh, I don't know. You asked me on the date, maybe you should be bowing." She returned, and a smile that said she was very pleased with her spread across her lips.

Kai fought it, but found despite his best efforts his own amused smirk on his face. "I don't think so."

Nikki was a not a submissive fangirl, like so many others. She liked being in control, and was bold enough to try it even with him. He thought about the way she controlled her team like an army, the rough, loud commands, and their easy, automatic obedience. He liked her, and wondered when he'd started liking people so easily. When he'd started to be able to talk to people and joke so easily.

The waiter came to their table and Kai ordered himself a jumbo cappuccino, and an almond croissant. When he'd finished they both looked to Nikki, but she smiled at him and asked, "Why don't you order for me."

He didn't hesitate. "She'll have tap water and an assortment of scraps from you bin."

The waiter blinked and the girl kicked him under the table, making Kai yelp in surprise and pain. Nikki frowned. "I'll have what he's having." She insisted to the waiter, "But a muffin instead of the croissant, please. Blueberry." The waiter nodded and walked away looking worried.

"That's why they say 'be careful what you wish for.'" Kai smirked, and again wondered at his newfound social skills. Was it Kaoru?

"You jerk." Grumbled Nikki, frowning, but behind it all he caught a little smile, and suddenly knew his competition with Tyson was in the bag. Trust Kaoru to find the one person he could actually have an alright time with, who'd have an alright time with him too.

"Okay," He was just going to have to put his faith in Kaoru's girl picking for now, "Turns out I can actually stand being around you."

The girl laughed, "Well, gee, what a relief."

He glared a little at the interruption but kept going, thanking his lucky stars (and Kaoru) that he'd been right and she wasn't offended. "So I've been wondering about something."

"And you think I can clear it up." Nikki filled in easily.

"What's the code?"

That made the girl blink. "The code?"

"The thing you were going on about the other day. Whether Kaoru was being good, and…following the code. Right?"

Nikki smirked, "You want to know the fangirling code?"

"Uh…yeah."

"Say pleaaaase."

Kai glared.

"Puh-leeeeeeeeeaaaaaassssseeeeee." Nikki sounded it out for him.

"I would like to know the fangirling code, pleeeeeease." Kai sneered. The girl giggled.

"Okay, then. Well, as you can imagine fangirl groups are quite, uh…difficult to coordinate, what with the whole organisation pretty much going after just one guy. If someone gets him the others get angry, jealous, they want to stop being friends with her, and then she ends up unhappy when she should be over the moon and it's just a big mess."

Kai nodded.

"So that's why fangirl groups really need some kind of code, so that they can maintain peace and equality, and of course, happiness between their members. There are more or less two main types of groups. The first is the 'Everyone gets the toy or no one gets it' rule, kind of pre-schoolish." She giggled. "So, because not everyone can get the guy, no one is allowed to get him. It's a looking but not touching agreement. Our group doesn't work like that though."

Kai groaned suddenly, and Nikki laughed. How he'd have liked a looking but no touching policy. "So your group?"

"Our group believes in the chance to meet out idol, to speak to him and maybe have a relationship with him. We don't want to deny our members that ability. But since that means that not everyone will be happy, we have an agreement that we must make the most important person happy. And the most important person, is of course, you, Kai."

The boy looked up from where he had been becoming more and more depressed at words like, "relationship", to find Nikki smiling at him softly.

"Our group agrees that, so long as you're happy, we'll be happy. Even if it's not us who make you happy. But that's why, if a fangirl begins to get close to you, she has to be doing it in a way that isn't annoying or upsetting to you, or else it's not ok with the code, you see?"

The boy nodded numbly.

"And that's why we asked Kaoru if she was being good, and that you weren't getting sick of her. It may seem a little silly for you, but it's important to us."

He nodded again, and then a thought struck him.

"Do you think that's why Kaoru's always so nice to me? Just because she has to be?"

Nikki's bright eyes flew open in surprise and their food took that moment to arrive.

While the waiter placed the meals before them Nikki scrutinised Kai. The soft worry line in his brow that he was trying to hide, the suddenly unhappy eyes, and the down turned lips that, thought they were a regular sight on his face, seemed to give away a deeper sadness.

And suddenly it clicked.

Nikki grinned, eyes curved and excited as she leaned forward over the table and her muffin, bracing herself on an elbow as she looked at him.

"What?" He questioned when her silence, and delighted face began to scare him.

"You, Kai Hiwatari," she began, joyously and eagerly, as though she had just discovered some very valuable treasure, "You, like Kaoru."

Time stopped.

"She's my friend."

"But you like like her."

"I what?"

"You're friends, but you want to be more than that. You like her."

"I…what on earth makes you say that!" He asked, eyebrows pulled together tightly in disapproval and confusion. And just a hint of a blush touching his face.

"The look of mortified worry on your face when you wonder if she's just being nice to you because she has to." Nikki filled in with a smile.

"I don't like her."

"Uh-huh."

"I don't."

"Mm-hmm."

"Say a word!"

"Sure."

"Dammit!"

Nikki laughed, taking a bite from her muffin as she revelled in the sight of Kai's cheeks flaming red; one she never would have thought she'd see.

"You like her." She said matter-of-factly around the really good muffin.

Kai snorted, seeming to overcome the shock. "Prove it."

Nikki smirked. "Oh. I will."

After finishing their food the couple took to the streets, Nikki wrapping her arm around Kai's happily as they walked and she steered the conversation.

"So is my date over or is there more?" She asked cheekily.

"What do you want to do?"

"I..." She thought, "Would like to see a movie. Your shout of course."

"Of course. What movie?" He grumbled, Nikki giggling at his sarcastic tone.

"Oh, well, I'd hate to drag you into something you didn't like. Or maybe you do like chick flicks? Hmm?"

He gave her a look that answered the question without words. She laughed.

"Well what movies do you want to see? Then I'll pick."

They ended up seeing a fast-paced action, with crashes, and guns and explosions, which Nikki seemed to enjoy just as much as him to his great astonishment. Afterwards, when she insisted they take a walk through the park, he found himself not minding as her, happy voice replayed the movie over from start to finish, commenting on the acting here, cinematography there, and her favourite part, when the car had exploded.

She was a good person, if a little loud, and her company was, as much as Kai found anyone's company, enjoyable. It was a bit like being with Kaoru, as far as easy, stress-free conversation.

"Feel like an ice-cream Kai?" Nikki asked, breaking him away from his thoughts, and directing his attention to a little, rather high-end looking ice-cream parlour across the street.

"You sound like Kaoru." He snorted, nonetheless turning to walk with her towards the place. "Is liking ice-cream part of the code too?"

Nikki ignored him, "Aw, you know her so well." She cooed instead.

"You don't have to know Kaoru well to know she likes ice-cream."

The girl chuckled.

Nikki pondered the flavours for minutes, before finally deciding on an almost frighteningly blue, bubble-gum one. Kai only skimmed the flavours once before ordering something with praline in the name.

"Your teeth will go blue." He commented as he paid for them both.

"Maybe I want blue teeth." She smiled.

"Maybe you were dropped on your head as a child." That made the girl laugh.

"And maybe you should remove that icicle from your arse!"

He rolled his eyes, and gave up the battle.

"Mm," Nikki moaned, taking a lick of the horrid blue thing, "It's good though. What have you got? It looks yum."

"Something praline. Kaoru always gets them." It was only as he said it that the mistake registered, "I mean-"

Nikki snorted, then made a very ungraceful attempt to swallow the large bit of blue ice-cream in her mouth before laughing loudly at him.

"Shut up." He grumbled.

"You know her favourite ice-cream flavour!"

He glared.

"Kai." Nikki laid a hand on his arm, as if explaining something to a toddler, as they walked back into the streets. "You know Kaoru's favourite ice-cream flavour. You pick it when you get ice-cream. You like her Kai."

"It's a nice flavour."

"You know Kaoru's favourite ice-cream."

"Will you stop? I don't like her!"

Nikki gave him a sly, devilish smile, and almost sang, "You know Kaoru's favourite ice-cream."

Kai frowned. "If I didn't know any better I'd say Kaoru set this all up."

Nikki blinked. Then laughed. "I take it back! You really don't know her at all."

For some reason that made him frown more.

"Oh come on." The girl smiled. "Kaoru steers away from love like it's a deathly plague. You think she'd employ me to talk you into liking her?"

"Then why are you?"

"Because you do!"

"I don't!"

"Oh Kai," Smiled Nikki, "I'm almost glad you're so delusional. Because one day, you're going to look back on this, and realise that I was right, and you were wrong."


When quizzed on how their date had gone, Nikki only had nice things to say. She gushed about how conversational he'd been, she hadn't expected it, and how he'd taken her to a movie she'd been dying to see, instead of a chickflick he thought all girls would like, and finally, how he'd shouted her ice-cream on the way home, her favourite treat and something she'd been craving. It was one of the best dates she'd had in ages.

Needless to say, Tyson lost the bet, and lost fifty dollars to Kaoru, as he'd been the only one silly enough to put money on his success. He became Kai's slave for the next twenty-four hours, serving as, among many things, a footrest, a personal feeder, and, to the benefit of the entire team, a cleaner.

When Kai woke in the morning it was to a sneeze and a light sweat. He frowned and disregarded the symptoms as something up his nose and too many blankets, but called Tyson in to bring him tissues for fun.

"Are you alright?" Kaoru asked, watching him worriedly as he blew his nose and dabbed his brow with Tyson's offerings before sending the boy to find more, claiming they weren't soft enough.

"Fine, just too many blankets."

"Really? I slept fine." She frowned, and leaned across to his side of the bed to lay a hand across his brow. "You're hot."

He tried to ignore the soft, long fingers where they brushed him. "You were part of the fangirls how long, and your only now figuring that out?"

"Ha-ha." She rolled her eyes. "I mean it Kai, you feel hot." She checked against her own forehead for comparison, "And you look a little pale too."

"I am pale. Stop worrying."

"You're pale and stubborn." She corrected, suddenly leaning forward to touch his forehead to her own.

His breath caught in his throat at the sight of her so close, sapphire eyes, suddenly big and round with worry, lashes each defined at this distance, and the tip of her nose just lightly brushing his. It made Nikki's words flood back into his head with a roar.

"Yep, and hot." She nodded against him.

"I'm fine."

"No, you're sick. Or, at the very least you're getting sick. You need to lye down and rest."

"No." He corrected her, pulling away when he realised her forehead was still against his, "I need to go to the beystadium and captain my team to victory today in our first match."

"You need to rest."

"I need to beyblade. And I'm not sick, I'm fine. We have a doubles battle today, you need me."

"We'll make it a battle royal."

"We won't make it anything." He got out of the bed defiantly, ignoring Tyson when he came to the door with the promised softer tissues. "I'll blade. We'll blade. Discussion over. And what are you doing here?"

Tyson opened his mouth to respond.

"Leave!"

And did a 180 and left.

By the time they arrived at the beystadium for their first round in the tournament however, the 'light sweat' had manifested into pronounced and exceedingly hard to disguise fever, and the sneeze had gone in favour of a blessedly soft, but unfortunately wheezy and sickly cough.

Kaoru was frowning at him without censor, but thankfully it seemed the others had yet to catch on, and he was hiding the symptoms well. When they arrived in the prep room he excused himself and went and stood in the wings, happy to be able to wheeze and cough as loudly as he wanted in peace while he tried not to concentrate on the pounding, aching heat the was invading his head and limbs.

"Five minutes to game Bladebreakers."

Kai sighed, and trudged back to the prep room. They were to face the Golden Order team, who, it seemed, were all fabulously wealthy and had earned there place in the tournament by paying for new innovative technology to be installed on their blades. Kai anticipated no challenge, the blades were first class, but the bladers behind them were inexperienced and naïve and Kai was sure his vastly more experienced team could take them with ease.

"How's it coming Kenny?" Asked Kai, standing near the small boy's workbench, where he was currently tinkering with Max's blade.

"Good." Smiled the boy, "All the blades are in good working order, and I think our match ups are strong, if indeed they send who we expect them to. Hilary and Max have gone over the strategy with me a few times, and Kaoru's almost over confident of beating your two opponents. She says she'll do it without you." He laughed.

"I'm sure she does." Scowled Kai, knowing that the reason for her self-reliance was not confidence but his health.

"Kai." And speak of the devil.

"What?"

"I really don't want you to do this. I spoke to Tyson, and he's happy to be my partner for today."

"You told him-"

"That Mr. Dickenson wanted to talk to you about something." Kaoru frowned. "Trust me a little won't you? The other's are also happy to do a battle royal."

His body was getting hotter; he could feel it creeping out from the base of his neck. But he shook his head, ignoring the dizzy swirl it brought on. "No. We need Max and Hilary to be fresh to face those expensive blades, and you and Tyson haven't partnered in a while. I'm fine. Forget it."

"But-"

"Forget it Kaoru. I mean it." He glared at her and she shut her mouth and glared right back. Following his orders because he was her captain, but not happy about it.

He sat on the couch quietly until they were called out, and then walked a pace behind them as usual, focusing on keeping his breathing steady and deep.

"Give it up for…The BladeBreakers!" Called DJ Jazzman, and the crowd erupted, the noise making Kai groan softly as it penetrated his sore head.

"Both teams are choosing a doubles battle today, AJ."

"So I hear Brad, and it's shaping up to be a good match. I know I'm personally hoping to see Kaoru blade today."

"I hear ya AJ, after her explosive come from behind victory in the China tournament, I think a lot of people out there are wondering what more we can expect from the newest BladeBreaker. I sure am."

"Let's hope they send her today Brad."

Kaoru barely head the announcers as she focused on setting the team up on the sidelines and then readying herself for her participation in the first match. While she took out her blade and readjusted her launcher, she watched Kai, becoming more and more worried by the minute about their battle.

"The first match will be a doubles battle!" Cried Jazzman. "From the Golden Order…" He checked for confirmation, "Alice and Daniel! And from the Bladebreakers…Kai and Kaoru!"

Kai strode towards the beydish confidently, and Kaoru followed him, frowning worriedly at the back of his neck.

"Kai," She tried once more as they stood side by side on the edge of the beydish.

"Enough." He interrupted. "We will blade, and we will win. This team will improve in its doubles battle capability and grow even stronger. We are setting an example."

"Bladers ready?" Asked Jazzman before Kaoru could respond.

"Ready." Answered Kai immediately for their side.

"Ready." Confirmed the other team.

"Then 3, 2, 1, Let It Rip!"

Ignoring the unease she felt Kaoru launched her blade and it exploded into the dish beside Kai's. Across from them the high tech blades of the team hit the dish. One was silver and had great long spikes protruding from it the glittered in the light like diamonds, and the other was black and very small, but very fast.

The silver blade balanced easily in the middle of the dish while the black one took off around the side towards them, both Kaoru and Kai immediately moving to take evasive action. But the black blade was far faster and it caught up to them with embarrassing ease. They had no time to turn around, the black blade only gaining with each spared second, and shared one brief, fleeting look in which crimson and sapphire met and understood each other, before their blades made a turn, Kai's using it's light, lither build to spin suddenly, sharply towards the middle, and Kaoru's instead taking off towards the outer edge of the dish.

They'd taken their inexperienced opponents by surprise and the speedy black blade was in front of them before the blader realised they were no longer there. The silver blade, too slow to respond to the sudden change of tide received for it's blunder a massive full frontal attack from Kai that sent it crashing into the side of the dish, and slightly off balance when it landed. Kaoru's blade spun up the edge of the dish, flew into the air, flipped over, and landed back in the dish, in prime position to attack either of their opponents.

"Damn it!" Cursed the girl with brilliant white blonde hair across from them. "What the hell Daniel! Why didn't you attack them!?"

The purple haired boy scowled. "Don't you talk Alice. You were just sitting in the middle of the dish waiting for me to do all the work!"

"Dranzer, flaming gigs inferno."

"Dammit! Kalzar, evade!"

"Defence Floreian!"

Having had her blade move safely behind Kai when she'd seen him go into battle position, Kaoru watched with interest as the black blade zoomed out of the line of the incoming attack, while the silver one used its lethal spikes to defend. She frowned. Inexperienced or not, money had brought them first class blades if both were able to stand up against Dranzer like that.

"Kalzar!" Called the boy, Daniel, and a great orange hummingbird rose from the blade to face the phoenix across from it, the two birds fighting in a clash of talons and beaks.

"Floreian!" The silver blade glowed as Alice hurried to back up her partner, their argument now seeming forgotten. From her blade a giant, grey, armoured spider rose.

It was appropriate for the many-spiked blade, Kaoru thought, looking at the many-legged creature and shuddering.

"Aura!" The angle appeared just in time to intercept the spider as it made a beeline for Kai. "Faithspell!" She called, and as Aura fought, her wings and fingers glowed a blue-purple light, that became tendrils that reached towards Kaoru before the spell connected and they vanished. She smiled, feeling the slight presence of the angel in her, and allowing her access to all the information she knew about the team and their currant opponent.

When she'd felt Aura absorb the last of it, and change immediately from the full attack strategy she usually favoured to one the alternated between bouts of attack and defence to accommodate the supreme power of the spider bit, she turned her attention to Kai's battle, knowing for the moment that Aura could handle herself.

"They're strong." She whispered, and saw him shake his head.

"They're not strong, just their blades. The spider girl is worse though, she'll be harder than this guy to beat."

Kaoru nodded. "So why don't we take him out now? I'll help.."

Kai instantly knew what she meant and nodded, almost a little too eagerly. He was feeling ill, and ready to get this stupid battle over with.

"Aura," she called, "Shadow reaper!"

The angel beat her wings and darkness spread from them, filling the dish like liquid, obscuring the bitbeasts and their battle and spilling up and over the edges to pool around the bladers' feet. Though she could not see what was happening behind the veil of black, Kaoru focused on what she wanted done, willing the darkness to compress down on the spider and bird bit, suffocating them and suppressing their attacks. Then she only had to trust Aura to not be in the way.

Ignoring the confused cries, and useless attack commands of the other team, she counted, giving the angel ample time to take evasive action. "1, 2, 3, 4, 5."

Without any other confirmation Kai understood. "Dranzer! Fire arrow!"

The shadow reaper was not focused on suppressing his power, and Dranzers attack exploded within the blackness, tearing rips in its surface that spewed fire into the arena. The shadow reaper deflated and disappeared, and from within it the black blade Kalzar flew past his master and landed on the floor behind.

"Shit." Swore the boy, looking over his shoulder at his blade dejectedly.

"Argh!"

Their attention snapped to the girl as she screamed in frustration.

"Damn! You may be the world champions, but don't you dare think you've beaten us yet!" Her rage seemed to reverberate in the air, and above them and the beydish, dark rain clouds grew suddenly in earnest. "Floreian, Storm Tempest!"

It began to rain, and where the droplets touched their bitbeasts, they burned and smoked.

"What!" Kaoru gasped, staring wide-eyed at the attack as Aura cried out silently in pain.

"Acid rain." Frowned Kai angrily as he attacked the opposing blade only to be deflected by the spikes.

"Aura." Kaoru insisted, "Shadow Reaper!" The darkness flared out of the spirits wings again and then fought with the rain attack, each keeping the other at bay, and where they met forming dark, sickly black smoke. "Ugh." Kaoru groaned under the stress of the attack.

"Dranzer…Blazing gigs."

The fire attack flared out, and somehow, between the two of their attacks they managed to wound the spider bit enough that the deadly rain ceased to fall.

The girl screamed. "Floreian!"

The silver blade went back on the attack, slamming into both of their blades furiously, like she wasn't out numbered and out classed.

"Aura!" Commanded Kaoru, and her blade fought back, but where she'd expected Kai's to do the same, no command came.

Then, out of the corner of her eye, she saw him step back suddenly as though to catch himself, his head bobbing as he did so just a little too loosely in place, and she knew what had happened. She looked at him quickly, and saw as she'd expected his eyes rolled half into his head, and a light sheen of sweat across his brow and nose.

She swore. What perfect timing.

"Kai." She hissed softly, "Any chance this is going to get better?"

He didn't answer her, and that was all the answer she needed. She nodded.

"Put your hand on my shoulder." By some miracle he didn't question her, and did as she said. "Now hold tight, don't you dare faint ok? Open your eyes properly and look forward at the battle. Look confident and sure, like you know what we're about to do and it's all your idea and everyone in this stadium better be afraid of you."

Again the boy did as she said. Though his vision was a haze of heat and pain and dizziness, he locked unseeing eyes on the battle before him, forcing his brow into its usual sure, straight line, and his lips into a familiar confident smirk.

To an outsider their image now gave away a notion of a superior, senior team member, giving support and permission to his underling to try something she found a bit difficult.

"Look at this Brad," Came AJ's voice from the commentators box. "What do you think the Bladebreakers are doing?"

Kaoru ignored them, "Ok. Now whatever happens don't look surprised, and don't let go! Remember, this is your idea, and you're proud of it. Ready?"

The hand on her shoulder gripped just a little tighter. She took that as a yes.

She took a deep breath, steeled herself, and then pushed all her energy and authority into her voice.

"Aura! Spirit Bow! Dranzer! Flame Saber!"

The audience gasped and she felt Kai's hand grip her, as both bitbeasts reared up to execute the command, Aura pulling back into the familiar stance and Dranzer gathering flames like it would any other attack. But it wasn't any other attack, and surprise rang through the stadium, from the commentators, their opponent, and the crowd.

No one should be able to control another's bitbeast.

A second passed and the Spirit arrow was in the air, leaving a trail of feathers in its wake, and then Dranzers fire attack was soaring through the air after it. The fire touched the arrow and engulfed it, so that it became a flaming arrow instead that pierced the defence of the spider bit. At beyblade lever, both Kaoru and Kai's blades hit the silver one at once, and with a whoosh of air, it soared out of the dish, and crashed to the floor.

A cheer went up among the confusion.

"Look confident." Kaoru spoke quietly again to Kai. "Smirk. Then turn around and walk. I'll be right behind you. You just have to make it to the wings. You're not hurrying, you just don't have time for armatures like this, and you're frustrated."

Kai did as she said, though every step sent a spin of dizziness over his head, just to the wings, try to look confident, smirk, no time for armatures.

Kaoru stayed on the beydish a moment longer and looked at their competition with contempt before collecting their blades and then wheeling to follow Kai. As she passed their team she nodded quickly to them, and let the confidence drop from her eyes to betray the worry. They understood and followed, Kenny sending a quick call to the commentators that they needed a brief recess to debrief after the last match.

"Oh Kai!"

The boy had made it about 5 meters into the wings, and stood still, his hand holding a pounding head as he slumped forward. Kaoru rushed to him, any annoyance gone as she threaded an arm around his waist to hold him up.

"Ray!" The black haired boy was on Kai's other side in a moment, his arm immediately around Kai's shoulders.

"What's going on?"

"Kai are you alright!" Gasped Hilary, as the others reached them.

Kaoru shook her head, wondering if Kai would give her double training for revealing he was sick. "Let's get him to the prep room."

With a sigh Kai slumped on the couch as soon as they let him go, hand covering his eyes and breathing deeply and slowly. The battle had been too much for him, Kaoru realised, and his ill body was protesting the exertion.

"Kai." She sighed, and knelt before him hands on his knees. When he didn't answer she lifted her hand and touched the back of it to his forehead, eyes softening when she felt the sickly heat.

"Hey, what's going on?" Max suddenly questioned, when all else was silent, "What's wrong with him? And what was that move? You shouldn't be able to control Dranzer in a battle."

"Quiet." She shushed him at once, her concern elsewhere. "Kenny, sit next to Kai. Ray, next to Kenny. Open Dizzy. Kai," She addressed the boy more softly, "Look at the screen ok? It'll be better if you have your head facing down." He nodded and did as she said. "Hilary will you get him a drink? Max and Tyson on that couch, turn the TV on."

Ray and Kenny did as she said immediately, having both already understood that something was wrong. Hilary hesitated in confusion, before doing as Kaoru asked, and the two others, who were more annoyed about not knowing of the new technique than worried about Kai, frowned at her before grudgingly doing as they were told.

"Is Kai sick?" Hilary asked gently when she came back with the water.

Kaoru sighed, and then nodded, hoping he wouldn't kill her for admitting it. "Yeh. Look, we have some damage control to do." She stood up. "Now you're all going to sit here and pretend everything's normal while I go lie to the spectators about that little move I just pulled. If someone comes in asking about the battle, you tell them I'm making the statement as we speak, and you won't comment on it further. If they come here for anything else, tell them to leave, if they don't, call security."

Ray nodded and that was good enough.

"I'll be back in a minute."

She left through the wings and the room went quiet.

"Are you ok Kai?" Asked Kenny carefully.

The boy growled, "Fine."

And then Kaoru's face flashed on the TV.

"Kaoru! What a battle! Can you tell us a little about it?" The commentators had come down from their box to interrogate her, and Kaoru smiled politely.

"Sure, what would you like to know?"

"Well for a start, what on earth was that technique?"

She laughed. "We've been working on it for a while, Kai and I. You see, I've always had a bit of an ability when it comes to communicating with bitbeasts, so Kai thought we'd try to utilise it in battle. It took a lot of work on both our parts, but as you can see, the results are fantastic!"

"Absolutely!" Agreed Brad Best excitedly, "I've never heard about someone being able to control another bitbeast."

"Well, there's a bit more too it than that, but I'm sure you'll understand if we don't give away all our secrets."

"Of course," Smiled AJ, "But why use it now? In the first game you've played in the American tournament, in the first round?"

Kaoru frowned at the difficult question, working fast to find a plausible answer. "It's not a technique we'll use often." She admitted, "It's quite difficult to do and consumes a lot of energy, but we wanted to send a message to all the teams out there. We're the BladeBreakers, and we're world champions for a reason. We can do anything we set our minds to and we will be winning the America tournament, and the world tournament after it!"

A couple more questions and some friendly banter later and Kaoru was able to politely slip away back to her team.

"Gee AJ." Brad Best grinned on screen; "I don't know about you, but I sure as hell wouldn't want to be facing the BladeBreakers after that!"

"I hear ya Brad! I hear ya."

When Kaoru walked back into the prep room all eyes fell on her at once.

"Lie." She answered the question before it could be asked. "Come on, you guys know I can talk to bitbeasts. This shouldn't be that much of a shock for you?"

"But why not use it all the time then?" Asked Tyson frowning.

"Why use it all the time?" She returned. "If Kai is beside me, perfectly capable of telling Dranzer what to do himself, why should I do anything."

That silenced them. It made perfect sense.

"Besides, I wasn't lying when I said it take a lot of energy and concentration. Plus I need to be touching him to do it." A couple of the team nodded at that, remembering Kai's hand on her shoulder, "So you know, that would involve, what? Holding his hand while we fought? Plus, Dranzer's not my bit. She doesn't have to do what I say. Today she understood the situation we were in and decided it was best to cooperate but on a normal day you think she'd sell her obedience to me just to put on a show?" Kaoru quirked a brow in question.

The team sat in silence, all understanding suddenly of why they'd never heard of her ability to do this.

"So in other words it's perfectly useless." Grumbled Kai tiredly from the couch.

She snorted. "Yeah. Impressive, but useless. Unless of course your teammate is fainting." She growled pointedly.

Tyson laughed. "You sound pissed Ru!"

"Pissed is an understatement." She hissed, the words positively vehement, causing Tyson to shut up quickly and shrink back into the couch away from her. "I told you, I told you you were too sick!" She rounded on Kai. "You're so stubborn! If you'd died proving me wrong you wouldn't have minded one bit!"

That made him angry. "Like you'd have stubbornly gotten yourself killed in the China finals to prove to me you could win it!?"

"I made a promise!"

"You nearly died!"

"And you nearly fainted into the damn beydish! Next time you wake up with a raging fever I'm locking you in the bathroom and you can give me quadruple training for as far as I care! I shouldn't have let you come today! You're going to be so much sicker now, god! You probably have the flu, with that fever even pneumonia! I should've…should've just…just tied you to the damn bed or something! You stupid…stupid stubborn, idiot. Dammit."

She trailed off, running a shaking hand through her hair, worried eyes looking anywhere but his face, and the room was quiet again.

"I'm fine." He signed in defeat, anger giving way to the need to make Kaoru happy. "It's probably just a cold."

"How do you know?" She moaned miserably.

"Because it's not that bad." He implored her to see reason, "It's really not. I'll just rest up tonight and I'll be fine tomorrow."

"You'll rest tomorrow too." She growled, suddenly turning on him.

"Yeah, ok, fine, tomorrow too! Just stop worrying. It's not that big a deal. Really."

She sniffed but seemed to calm, the other too afraid still to say anything.

"Fine." She agreed slowly. "Ray, you can be in charge for the rest of the day. You'll tell them that Hiro's called Kai and I've tagged along to see my brother. The subject matter is classified. Max and Hilary will blade as planned."

"Don't boss my team around."

"Any thing you care to revise." She snapped at him, and Kai sighed.

"Do as she says."

Ray nodded, "Right."

"Go now." Kai added. "We've already been absent too long. They'll come looking soon."

Again the dark haired boy nodded. "Alright, come on guys. Max! You're up next. Are you ready?"

"Yeh, just about. Kenny, can you give Draciel the once over quickly."

The voices of their friends faded as they moved further down the wings and as they disappeared Kaoru sighed.

"Come on. Let's get you back to the hotel." She held out her hand.


When they got back she'd sent him straight to bed, ignoring when Kai insisted he wasn't tired.

He was asleep within ten minutes, the exertion of fighting through his fever having caught up with him almost quicker than Kaoru expected. She smiled, and rolled her eyes at him, softly sleepy in the tangle of covers on their bed.

"Not tired my ass."

The others arrived home about two hours later, victorious of course. Both Hilary and Max had won their matches, making it three for three, though Max had lost the first round of his match to a beyblade that they told Kaoru with wonder and excitement, could in fact fly.

"Yeah I know!" She agreed, walking out of their room quickly to grab a spoon from Ray before popping back in to sit with Kai as he ate dinner in bed, "But apparently it was like a helicopter-ish design! Isn't that amazing?!"

The boy frowned, taking the spoon from her and beginning his soup. "Less amazing than worrisome. We'd better look into it and make sure there aren't more of them in more skilled hands lurking around."

Kaoru sobered and nodded. "I'll get Kenny onto it."

"You know I could have sat at the table?"

She smiled, but did nothing to comply with his wish. "You could have, if I'd been silly enough to let you get up. But I'm sure you're just as capable of eating it here."

The boy frowned and Kaoru laughed at the sour expression.

Giving up the battle, Kai placidly sat up in their bed to eat his soup, while Kaoru sat next to him comfortably, reading his book. The soup was good, and she'd thought to close their door, knowing how much he'd hate to be seen like this. It occurred to him that Kaoru and he were really beginning to know each other well.

He looked at her then, simply watching her now familiar face. The soft smile that pressed across her lips as she read his book and enjoyed it, her eyes as they darted to and fro across the words. She was beautiful.

You like her.

And then, as he hurried to banish the words from his mind he found something in her eyes that suddenly made something make sense. It was tiny. Just the smallest upturn of the brow that made her look, just ever, ever so slightly sad. He understood then, the anger from before, the worry in the morning, and her eager, almost desperate care of him through out the day. More than worry about his illness, it was-

"Something up Kai?" She glanced up at him with a smile.

"I'm going to be fine you know." He answered swiftly, and Kaoru blinked, surprise and confusion lifting her brows. "It's not going to be like your mum."

She frowned, "Why would you say-"

"You once told me about something that happened when you were younger. Some time after your mother died, Tyson had the flu, and you slept with him all night crying because you were afraid he would leave you like she did."

Kaoru didn't say anything. They hadn't talked about this sort of thing since the night she'd cried herself to sleep on his lap. Loneliness, and regret…Her brow furrowed, lips turned downward and she looked at him unhappily, waiting for him to stop.

"Isn't that what you're most afraid of? Losing the people you care about again? Being alone again? Kaoru?"

She couldn't respond, only watch him with that deep, almost angry sadness as he continued to decipher her like he shouldn't have been able.

"Isn't that why you were so worried this morning? Why you got angry with yourself for not making me rest? Why you're so keen to take care of me? Are you afraid I'll leave you too?"

Her eyes welled, but she refused to let the tears slip, glaring at him and willing him to stop.

"I won't." He told her, eyes meeting her boldly and giving a new promise, that he hadn't known she needed back when they'd made their first agreement. "I won't you know? I'm going to get better. And if I get sick in the future I'll get better too. Even if everyone else in the world dies I'll still be here. You'll never be alone again, okay?"

The tears fell one by one, running slowly down stubborn cheeks. She still refused to cry, refused to sob and moan and give in to the relief and sadness and need that she felt, but she couldn't stop the tears.

"Dumbass." Sighed Kai, but his voice was kind and he gentle cleaned the tears from her cheeks with his napkin. "Now take this back to the kitchen. I'm tired, you can stay up if you want, but I'm going to sleep."

She nodded then, and gave a gulped, and slightly wobbly, "Okay," before practically racing his bowl back into the kitchen. Then she was in the bathroom, crashing and banging around, the sound of an electric tooth brush humming, another bang and the door was thrown open, Kaoru in her night dress, the lights flicked off, and she was beside him in bed.

He couldn't help chuckled lightly at the frantic sleep preparations and in the light from their window saw her own embarrassed smile answer him back.

"Goodnight." He whispered.

"Goodnight."

He turned away and then in the silent darkness of their bedroom heard her voice once more.

"Kai?"

"Hmm?"

"Thanks."

And fell asleep.


"Kai Hiwatari, that is IT!"

From the floor he stared at her, eyes wide and twitching.

Crap.

He'd woken up with the same fever and sweats that morning. He thought he'd felt fine but Kaoru disagreed, pushing him forcefully back into their bed and threatening to tie him to it if he didn't stay willingly.

Kai had agreed, grudgingly, he'd made a promise and, if it made her feel better…

In some small way he hated how he was letting her happiness rule him.

But the soft smile changed his mind. Truthfully he knew his body needed another day of rest.

"Ray, you'll have to be in charge again today. Since I'm apparently not allowed out that door." He glared at Kaoru who smiled brightly back. She'd made a huge concession by letting him have breakfast at the table, so he was going to make sure to use the time to get his team prepared for the day.

"Hey, why aren't I captain?" Asked Tyson haughtily, "I'm the world champ after all."

"And when I want to see the team fall apart I will make you captain Tyson but not before." Kai continued unfazed. "Since we're one short: go for the doubles battle. And don't lose."

"Oh." Smiled Hilary, "And here I was always trying to, thanks for clearing that up."

The team laughed. Kai rolled his eyes.

"What do we tell them?"

"That I'm still away with Hiro on some business."

He'd done it all perfectly well, without so much as being short of breath, but as he stood from the table his head gave one, single, swinging turn and he caught himself as he stepped. He knew what would happen before it did.

Kaoru was instantly beside him, arm holding his in case he fell. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine. Geez. I'm not that fragile you know. Let go."

"I'm not sure." She sat him back down. "You keep getting dizzy spells, and your fever is so high. I should stay and make sure you don't get worse."

"I'm fine."

"What about when you need food?!"

"I'll go to the kitchen?"

"What if you can't make it?"

"I'm not that sick. Beside, even with a flu I trust myself more with the kitchen than you."

She frowned. "I think I should stay. You guys will be ok without me right?"

There were affirmatives all round.

"See?"

"Forget it. We won't be two bladers short. You're going."

"But I-"

"Will go."

"But Kai!"

"Not buts!"

She pouted. "Fine. But I don't like this."

He'd begun the day rather enjoying being by himself, though the majority of it was sleeping, the hotel room was blessedly quiet without the idiots running around. When he didn't sleep he read his book, and when he couldn't read or sleep anymore he did some work on the laptop. It was only when he finished this that he realised, to his great surprise, that the silence in the hotel room, and the lack of human entertainment, was actually starting to bore him. He wondered when he had become so accustom to company.

Later in the day as Kaoru had foreseen he'd gotten hungry, and slipped out of bed to go and pick through the fridge in peace. He took out the cold noodles from the night before and heated them in the microwave. And as he stood and watched the plastic container rotate, he didn't notice as his eyes slowly clouded.

The oven dinged, and he stepped forward quickly and it was only then that the hot-cold, flush of blood leaving his face washed over him, his head swam and the foggy vision hit him full force. With desperation he stumbled back, at least make it to the couch. Just the couch! But it only took two steps before darkness seemed to erode his vision. With the little sense and strength he had left he lowered himself a little towards the floor to make the fall less.

He woke to the sound of a slammed door and his name, called in a high, happy voice. He groaned, his head was sore, and he was freezing. But that didn't make any sense, since he was supposed to have a fever. And then he remembered the kitchen, the tiled floor and fainting.

Someone gasped, "Kaoru!" It was Hilary, he struggled to lift his head and then heard the others enter the kitchen and stop short. He looked up at them, squinting in pain and now, he realized, faintly shivering.

What struck him immediately, even through the fog of pain, sickness and chill, was Kaoru's face, eyes wide, lips pressed, and radiating fury.

"Kai Hiwatari, that is IT!"

Was Kaoru always so scary?

Next thing he knew she was barking orders again and Tyson and Ray where half walking, half carrying him back to his room. Then she was there beside the bed.

"From now on, until I have a doctor confirm that you're better, you are staying in this bed, rugged up, resting! Since you can't seem to keep yourself safe, I will be staying with you from now on and that is non-negotiable! And I swear, Kai, if you get sicker there is going to be hell to pay!"

He shrunk back in the covers, not even wanting to argue with her, he was so cold.

"I don't need a nurse."

"Clearly you do."

"But the team needs you."

"Oh, well, anyone feel they're sufficiently not needed by the team that they can baby-sit?" She asked sarcastically over her shoulder, but it seemed his team had gone quiet in the face of Kaoru's fury. "Well then, I suppose it's settled."

"But-"

"No buts!"

He shut up. It had been getting lonely by himself after all.


TBC.

Well, that's all for now! But I thought I'd let you all know that I'm feeling really good about DMA right now so feel confident in seeing the next chapter soonish (but don't go crazy, it's not going to be up tomorrow, lol XD)

The reason I tried to get this chapter done so fast is because my dear friend and reader Miss Cloud is going off to the army in February. I hope you'll all wish her good luck! (And maybe pop over to her account and give her a few reviews as a going away present?)

Finally, if you're an NCIS fan please check out my new NCIS fanfics. They've gotten some good reviews so far, and I'm planning to post more in the near future.

Thanks for reading and remember, reviews don't take long, but they really mean a lot!