Well, this is one of my many, many favourite pairings, most of which I have yet to write a fic on! So, let's add another one to my 16 unfinished fics! I'm an idiot sometimes...
Disclaimer: Me no own Beyblade, series I, II or III. Happy?
"Ray, how on earth did I get myself into this?" Kai muttered, shuddering in revulsion.
"You didn't say no at the right time," the Chinese boy told him, hiding a grin.
"And when would that have been?" Kai inquired sarcastically.
"Just before he opened his mouth." Ray chuckled at his own joke. Kai gave him a stony stare and turned away, resting his hand against his temples for a brief second. "Kai?" Kai blinked and met Ray's concerned golden eyes. "You okay, bud?" In response, he simply walked away. Finding what could well be his last peaceful place for far too long, he swung himself up into the tree and sat on a broad branch. With a quiet sigh, he rested his aching head against the rough, abrasive bark. As the ceaseless pounding faded slightly, he was at last able to think clearly. He swore softly under his breath. He hadn't had a stress headache for over two years now. Why did they have to come back now? Next thing he knew, he'd be cutting himself and having panic - no, don't tempt fate! he ordered himself sternly. How had he ended in this awful, unthinkable position anyway?
"Kai? Kai!" Tyson yelled, jogging through the dojo, head swivelling full circle in his efforts to find the long-suffering team captain. Kai watched him run past at least four times with amusement before finally succumbing to Ray and Hilary's combined glares of annoyance.
"What?" he said curtly, timing it at the exact moment that Tyson reached the ankle-height table. Amid muffled curses, the loud-mouthed dustbin on legs clambered to his feet and looked around for his still-elusive captain. "I'm behind you, you imbecile." He smirked, which grew into a slightly malicious grin as he saw Tyson glaring at him, holding one ankle and pouting childishly. "You're trying to intimidate me?" He shook his head in mock-disbelief and stood up slowly. "Let me show you how that works…" Suddenly, all amusement fell from his face. His expression turned cold, grey eyes blazing with irritation. He began to advance on Tyson, trapping the younger boy in the corner of the room. Tyson laughed nervously.
"O-Okay Kai, you've made your point.," he said apprehensively, backing away one step at a time. "Kai?" Not so much as a twitch. "Kai, stop it!" he pleaded, fear showing in his eyes. Kai continued to advance until he was barely five centimetres away from the cringing boy. As abruptly as it had changed first time round, his face sprang back into its normal half smirk. More than half a smirk at that precise moment, actually. Seeing the fear in Tyson's eyes dissipate only slightly, he reached out and patted him awkwardly on the shoulder.
"That's how you do it." he said. Tyson glared at him again, muttering something under his breath to the tune of "stupid, scary Kai and his stupid, scary death-glares…" "Anyway, what did you want me for?" Kai asked, moving away to lean comfortably against the wall. Tyson's face creased for a moment as he searched through his unreliable memory, which at the moment was overwhelmed with pictures of killing Kai slowly and painfully with his own glares. Suddenly, his face cleared.
"Oh yeah, I remember now!"
"The Saint Shields are gonna be in town for some charity match thing, and they've invited us to stay in this exclusive hotel thingy with them."
"So?" Kai prompted impatiently. Tyson looked bewildered.
"Well…can we?" he asked uncertainly. Kai shrugged.
"Whatever Mr Dickinson says."
"Oh, that's good." Tyson grinned. "Because he said yes!" Everyone alternately winced (Kenny, Ray, and Hilary) or grinned (Max and Tyson) at the fleeting look of horror that swept across Kai's face before he managed to compose himself. Seeking for something to distract himself from his sudden predicament, he turned to Kenny, a quizzical expression on his face.
Oh yes, he remembered. Damn Tyson and his unstoppable enthusiasm for all things and people remotely connected to beyblade…
"Hey! Kai!" Ray's yell jolted him from his half-doze and reawakened his throbbing head. He didn't bother even looking at Ray, concentrating entirely on the hammer thumping at the inside of his skull. He'd forgotten how to cope with these now, it had been so long… He just needed to relax, that was all, just relax and he'd be fine. There was a slight creak as Ray jumped up beside him, demonstrating his enviable gymnastic abilities. "Kai? You feeling okay?"
"Yes." He didn't dare nod his head.
"All right, then," Ray said uncertainly.
"What's saying I'm not?"
"Well, for a start you look like something just hit you round the head, and secondly you've been really brusque towards all of us today. Unless Black Dranzer or Wyatt's made an unwanted reappearance, that means you're not feeling your best."
"The next Sherlock Holmes." Kai muttered sarcastically, closing his eyes. He felt Ray gently rest a hand on his arm, a feat that he would never have dared a month ago before they had teamed up in the second World Championships.
"I'll tell the others to leave you alone for a bit, shall I?"
"That would be good."
"What's the matter, anyway?"
"It's nothing. Just a bit of a headache."
"A bit…okay, that mean it's probably something like a full-blown migraine." Ray said, as if to himself. The corner of Kai's mouth twitched upwards at the blatant reminder that he was irritatingly skilful at understating himself.
"I get the point…" he mumbled. He stretched out along the branch and lay still, listening to the soft rustle of wind through the leaves. Ray patted him lightly on the shoulder and swung down fluidly.
"I'll wake you up when we need to get moving yeah?"
"Mm…" Kai vaguely registered that Ray had said something, but didn't really care. He was comfortable, he was tired, and most importantly, his headache was fading. Lulled by the silence and lack of pain, he welcomed sleep with open arms.
"Kai?" Somebody was shaking him. "Kai, wake up!" Groggily, he opened his eyes and jumped at Hilary's face, less than five centimetres from his own. "God, you're almost as bad as Tyson!" the girl grumbled, climbing awkwardly down the tree, hampered by her miniskirt and chunky heeled shoes. "We're heading for the hotel as soon as Ray's finished with Tyson." Kai eyed her face warily. It wore an expression that could only be described as gleeful.
"What'd he do now?" he asked, slowly raising himself into a sitting position and staring down at Hilary, who grinned wickedly.
"Almost sent Ray to the hospital for stitches!" she declared triumphantly. Reluctantly, Kai took the bait.
"Care to explain that?" From the merry account that followed, little of which Kai actually paid attention to, long used to filtering out the useful pieces in Hilary's chatter, he worked the following out.
Tyson had broken a plate whilst stealing food from the cupboard. That he knew already, as the resulting smash had woken him partially up.
Scared of being discovered by Hilary, Kai or Kenny (in that order), Tyson had shoved the broken plate back in the cupboard…
…where Ray had discovered it two hours later, when he sliced his hand on the jagged porcelain.
Suddenly, the familiar sound of Tyson's yell rang out from the dojo. Hilary sighed in satisfaction.
"Punishment served." she murmured, a small smile on her face, which transformed in an instant upon hearing Kai's quiet comment.
"Sadist." Furious scowl met stony glare. This was one of the rare occasions where neither of them won, both slightly embarrassed by what they had said. Muttering under her breath, Hilary stalked away. Kai climbed down from the tree. His head was almost back to normal, just a faint sense of dizziness left to remind him of the monster that had gripped his skull in its cruel claws. He wandered over to the front of the house and stood next to Kenny, who was typing on Dizzi as usual. They nodded politely to each other.
"You feeling better, Kai?" Kenny questioned absentmindedly.
"Yes, thank you. What did Ray say?"
"Oh, just that you'd got a headache and to leave you alone for a bit. Glad it's better."
"So am I." Kai muttered. He gazed into the distance and speculated about the coming horrors of staying with a group of people who only Tyson and Max really knew at all.
Tyson shuffling round the corner, his head down, face miserable, interrupted his increasingly morbid thoughts. Hilary followed him, patting him comfortingly on the shoulder.
"Ray really went for him." she whispered as the two of them passed Kai. "Punched him round the head, then screamed at him for about fifteen minutes non-stop. Mind you, I don't really blame him for being mad. I wasn't kidding about him maybe needing stitches, you know."
Soon afterwards, Ray rounded the corner. His left hand was bandaged tightly, courtesy of Hilary. His hair was slightly dishevelled, and his eyes glittering with anger and pain. They fell into their regular groups. Tyson and Max walked in the middle, due to numerous disasters with cars and cyclists. Kenny and Hilary walked at the back, discussing, as usual, the team's tactics. Kai and Ray strode out at the front, due to being the only ones with any idea of a sense of direction.
Kai shot a concerned glance at Ray. The boy hadn't said a word since they started walking, or even looked at any of them. He just stalked along, golden eyes fixed on the pavement, right hand cradling his injured left to his chest. They reached a slight dip in the pavement. Predictably, Tyson and Kenny, neither of whom were looking where they were going, tripped and fell flat on their faces. Unpredictably, Ray, cat-like, athletic Ray also stumbled and would have fallen if Kai hadn't caught him a split second before impact. As Kai pulled him upright again, their eyes met in an unspoken communication.
What was that?
Later. Troubled, Kai let it slip for the moment.
"FOOD! I'm starved!" Oh yes, they'd been walking for the grand total of ten minutes and Tyson decided he was the only survivor of a ten year famine. No, wait, that was just what he was acting like… Shaking himself back to reality, Kai concentrated on the task at hand, which was trapping Ray in the restaurant toilets and finding out what the hell was up with him. Standing up, he walked towards the toilets, after sending Ray a glare that clearly meant "follow me or die". Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the people at the table opposite them nudge each other, clearly interpreting the glare the wrong way.
"God, some people have sick minds…" he whispered, shaking his head in disgust.
The door creaked slightly on its hinges as Ray came in. Kai turned around, his face carefully neutral.
"You okay, Ray?" he asked. Ray's lips curved in a small, sarcastic smile.
"Anyone got a feeling this has happened before?" he murmured, refusing to meet Kai's searching gaze. "Yeah, fine, never been better. Why?" Kai strode over the Ray and put one hand flat against the wall each side of him, effectively trapping him.
"I've never seen you do more than snap at Tyson, and suddenly I have Hilary telling me that you've punched him round the head."
"You know how Hilary exaggerates."
"I then had to catch you from tripping on a hollow that normally wouldn't have even entered your mind, let alone made you fall. What's wrong?" His voice was dark and intense, the sort of voice that says "If I don't get what I want, somebody's going to get hurt" Ray glared at him, refusing to back down. A flash of realisation suddenly hit Kai. "Who is it? Mariah or Salima?" Ray visibly flinched, his eyes suddenly wide and watchful. "Or both…that's it, isn't it? You can't decide between them." The look of humiliated defeat in Ray's eyes told him all he needed to know. He sighed and stepped away from him.
"One's willing, and one's not." Ray said softly. "Mariah couldn't be any happier if I asked her out, while Salima…" He trailed off, leaving Kai in no doubt about whom he really wanted. "Salima wants Kane."
"Well she'll have to wait for a while." Kai said offhandedly, with a faint smirk. Ray blinked in confusion.
"Kane's gay." Kai grinned at the look of sheer shock on Ray's face. "Didn't you see the way he kept looking at us all? So, think about it that way and you've still got a chance." Ray nodded, looking much happier.
"Yeah!" he agreed. "Thanks, Kai!" He clapped Kai on the shoulder in thanks and went out.
With a faint sigh, Kai leaned on one of the sinks, staring into the mirror. If he concentrated, he could see the person that people thought was him. Closed off, untouchable, invulnerable. What amazed him was that no one could see what he could. A frightened child, staring wildly into the mirror, out of control and in pain, most of it self-inflicted.
Pushing away the unexpected wave of self-pity, he straightened up. No use crying over split milk, after all. He couldn't change the past. Not even if it appeared to be coming back to haunt him… He wrenched his train of thought away from that dangerous subject and walked out, idly wondering whether Tyson would be finished yet.
"Hey, Kai?" Tyson yelled sheepishly. "You got any cash on you?" Rolling his eyes, Kai plunged his hand into his pocket. Before he could bring his wallet out, Max had already placed a wad of money in Tyson's outstretched hand. Tyson's eyes nearly fell out of his head. "Where - how - what…" he spluttered, staring at the notes. Max's eyes sparkled with laughter.
"My mom just sent me some money." he said carelessly.
"Tyson, pick your jaw off the floor before someone treads on it!" Ray joked, looking on with amusement and a faint jealousy. He never had anything resembling money.
"Some money? Some? If I had this kind of cash…" Tyson looked almost longingly at Max, who laughed, flushing slightly.
"It's guilt money," he said, shrugging sadly. "I'd prefer having her here more, but who am I to turn away free money?" Satisfied with this new answer, Tyson peeled off three notes from the bundle and headed towards the till.
"Thirty? How much did he eat now?" Kai asked in resigned dismay.
"You don't want to know." Hilary and Kenny said in unison. Kai opened his mouth to protest. "No, you really don't." Hilary said doggedly.
"Fine." Kai watched as Tyson came back from the till, clutching a receipt that looked to be about a mile long. "I'll find out in a minute, won't I?" He gave them a slight grin. "Let's get a move on, then." he reproached, herding the five of them towards the exit.
"Mariam! Over here!"
"Hi, Max! How are you?" Everyone on both teams exchanged meaningful glances as they looked at the two bladers, who couldn't seem to take their eyes off each other. Eventually, Kai and Ozuma tired of lovebird watching and stepped forwards to shake hands.
"Good to see you again, Kai."
"Same here." Kai replied, noticing that Ozuma had yet another earring, a heavy golden hoop hanging from his left ear.
Ozuma in turn noticed the faint shadows under Kai's eyes that spoke of a virtually non-existent sleeping pattern. Putting it down to training-induced insomnia, he dismissed it and turned just in time to intercept Tyson's enthusiastic embrace.
Kai cringed inwardly as Tyson rushed forwards to hug Ozuma tightly. The older boy's strange green eyes closed briefly in what looked like resignation, then he returned the embrace for a moment and detangled himself from the overexcited World Champion.
"Good to see you too, Tyson!" They grinned at each other, a grin that suddenly had a lot of teeth and not much smile. Kai grimaced when he saw the unmistakeable challenge being shot between the two. There would be a battle before long, no doubt about that.
Well? All opinions welcome! Please don't expect fast updates,I do have 16 other fics on the go! Please, please review!