A/N: Kay, so I re-edited this. Hopefully the format is a little easier to read now. Hope you guys like and please R&R!
Warning: Contains boy/boy love. You have been warned. For those of you who don't mind; enjoy! :3
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Tyson sighed. His ever-present grin was wider than ever as he starred out the window in front of him from his comfy spot on the couch.
"Oh yea, this is definitely the best view ever!"
Tyson's grin widened more as his spectacular view suddenly got a whole lot better.
"What are you grinning about?"
Tyson's head snapped to the right and his eyes widened when he saw his two friends regarding him with amusement.
"Nothing!" He blurted quickly, jumping up to hastily close the curtains.
Max raised an eyebrow as the smile on his face widened.
"Really? You sure looked pretty happy about 'nothing'."
Tyson's face flushed a little and he crossed his arms, turning away from his two friends in defiance.
"I said it was nothing. Geeze, can't a guy relax without someone nagging on him about it?"
Max looked at Rei with a grin, receiving an amused smile in return. The blonde then walked over to the couch and reached for the curtains behind it.
Glancing back at Max and seeing what he was doing, Tyson's eyes widened again and he jumped to grab Max's hand.
"Why don't we go find something to do huh?" He said with a nervous laugh.
Max had to bite his cheek to prevent himself from openly laughing at his friend.
"Tyson, what's got you so riled up that you don't want us to see?"
"Ah. So that's what he was looking at."
The two boys turned to see that Rei had opened the curtains and was looking out the window with an amused grin.
Tyson's eyes widened as big as saucers as Max moved to look out the window too. Max and Rei were kneeling on the couch and looking over the back of it out the window, mimicking the position Tyson had been in earlier.
"Oh yea Ty, I can see why you liked this view so much." Max said, trying desperately to bite back a laugh.
Tyson's face turned crimson as he stood frozen in place.
Just outside the window was Kai, mowing the lawn. He was wearing a folded black bandanna around his forehead to keep the sweat from his eyes, a pair of black sunglasses, simple black sandals and long, faded denim shorts that reached just below his knees. But that was all.
While the inhabitants of the house were kept cool, thanks to the air conditioning, poor Kai was victim to the harsh rays to the sun. Because of this, he had not long ago discarded his shirt, which had been what had made Tyson's view that much better earlier and widened his natural grin considerably.
Kai's toned muscles rippled each time he pulled or pushed the lawn mower and his toned chest glistened with perspiration.
Max's grin widened so much his face threatened to crack. He looked back at his blunette friend and rested his elbow on the back of the couch and his head on his hand.
"Gee Tyson, I didn't know you had such an interest in gardening."
Rei snorted and bit his lip to hold back his laugh.
Tyson's flush deepened as he have Max an unamused look.
"Hardy har. I was just watching him to make sure he didn't pass out from the heat!"
Max snickered. Of all the excuses he could have used!
"Oh come on Tyson! You couldn't come up with something better than that?"
Tyson's flush deepened considerably.
"Whatever!" He replied moodily. "All this coming from the guy who I caught-"
Max's eyes widened and he jumped up to tackle Tyson and clap a hand over his mouth. He knew exactly what Tyson was going to say.
Max's grin was impossibly big as he silently observed the scene before him.
He was sitting under the shade of a tree in Tyson's yard, pretending to be fixing his beyblade. In reality, he was actually watching a certain neko-jin very intently. The raven haired teen was sitting on the grass near-by tweaking his beyblade, totally oblivious to his blonde spectator. It was a very hot day so he was simply wearing a pair of thin lounging pants. He was wearing no shoes or socks and no shirt and his chest sparkled and glistened with perspiration from the hot sun.
Max had long ago abandoned his blade, and was watching Rei with a huge, dopey grin when Tyson discovered him.
"Hey Maxie. Watcha doin?"
Max jumped in surprise and looked at Tyson, noting the grin on his face as well.
"Uh - nothing." Max said, attempting to sound casual.
Tyson's grin widened.
"Yea, right! I wonder if Rei knows he has an audience."
Max's face flushed.
"I don't know what you're talking about." He attempted casually. For once, Tyson saw through it.
"Sure, Maxie!" The blunette replied teasingly.
Max looked over at Tyson as he sat down next to him.
"Hey Ty, you're my best friend. You know that right?"
Tyson's grin faded to a smile and he nodded.
"Yea, I know. You're my best friend too Buddie."
Max smiled back.
"Good. So it's only fair to warn you." Max leaned closer to Tyson with a completely uncharacteristic dark look that actually almost scared the blunette. "If this ever comes out of your mouth, being best friends won't save you!"
After getting over the intial surprise, Tyson laughed.
"Your secret is safe with me Maxie!" He said with a huge grin, holding one hand over his heart and one hand in he air teasingly.
Max smiled at his friend and leaned back again with a laugh of his own.
"Good! I'll hold you to that Ty!"
Max shook his head to rid himself of the embarrassing flashback. That was one memory he intended to take to the grave. He looked at Tyson and gave him a small glare.
"So much for 'your secret is safe with me'." He muttered irritably.
Tyson gave Max's hand a big, slobbery lick, making the blonde pull it away in disgust and wipe it off in his shorts. When his mouth was free again, Tyson spoke.
"Hey, you get what you give." He replied with the same tone.
Rei cocked his head to one side as he starred at the two questioningly.
"What was all that about?"
"Nothing!" Max blurted before Tyson could say anything.
Rei raised an eyebrow and shook his head in amusement.
"I don't know about you two." He said playfully. Then he looked back out the window.
After a few moments pause, Rei looked back at Tyson with a grin.
"You know Tyson, poor Kai looks pretty hot out there. Maybe you should bring him some lemonade or something."
Instead of getting another rise from the blunette like Rei had expected, Tyson's big, dopey grin returned.
"Yea, I should shouldn't I? Here we are, comfortable and cool, while poor Kai is slaving away mowing my lawn!"
With that said, Tyson flew from the room.
Max and Rei looked at each other, then burst into laughter. They both turned back to the window and watched as Tyson appeared behind Kai. They watched his lips mouth the elder boy's name before the mower turned off and Kai looked at him questioningly.
Tyson smiled and walked up to him, then handed him a glass with a smile.
Kai gave Tyson an odd look before accepting the drink and giving the younger teen a small smile of his own. They watched as Kai emptied the contents of the glass and handed it back to Tyson. Tyson took it with a grin, then said something, actually emitting a laugh from Kai.
"I wonder what he said?" Max voiced in amazement.
"I think I've got a pretty good idea."
Max looked at him questioningly, then looked back out the window and grinned as well upon watching his friends.
Tyson was gesturing towards the sprinklers. Kai laughed again and shook his head, replying something inaudible to the two inside. Tyson looked a little disappointed but quickly covered it up with a shrug and another grin. He said one last thing then gestured towards the house. Kai smiled and nodded before starting up the lawnmower again and resuming his task. Tyson then disappeared from view and soon appeared beside them on the couch again.
Max looked at Tyson.
"Aw, poor Ty. Kai didn't want to play in the sprinklers with you?"
Tyson's face flushed a little but he smiled in spite of himself.
"Haha. Funny. I didn't ask him to 'play in the sprinklers with me'. I told him I could turn them on for him if he wanted, so he wouldn't be so hot. But he said he couldn't cut the grass if it was wet cause it would get muddy and it would be too hard."
Max smiled. Yes, a wet Kai would certainly pique Tyson's interest considerably. He shook his head.
"Well, keep an eye on our team captain Ty. Make sure he doesn't 'pass out from the heat'."
Rei laughed and shook his head. Tyson gave Max another unamused look but when Rei turned and left the room, he gave Max a small grin instead.
Max smiled and shook his head, then gave Tyson a playful wink and a laugh before leaving the room.
Max met back up with Rei outside the living room.
"I don't see why they don't just tell each other how they feel and get it over with." Max said thoughtfully. Rei was quiet for a minute but he finally looked at Max with a small smile.
"It's not easy to tell someone you like them. Especially when that someone is a close friend."
Max chewed his cheek for a minute. That was true, oh didn't he know it.
Max nodded without looking at Rei.
"Yea." He said simply.
The two left the living room behind and headed instead outside to sit under the tree in Tyson's yard. After a while of silence, Max spoke up, still not looking at Rei.
"Rei, you said it's hard to tell a close friend you like them right?"
Rei looked over at the blonde.
"Yea." He replied. "What about it?"
"Well, suppose you were in that situation... I want you to actually think about it. Like, pick someone in your head or something. If you liked a close friend, what would you do about it?"
Rei sighed and gave Max a half-smile, looking then ahead of him.
"I'm not really the right person to ask that question, Max."
Max finally looked over at Rei.
"It's just a question. Please Rei. I'd really like your opinion on this."
Rei was quiet for a long time until he eventually spoke again.
"Well, it's no good to say what I'd do, but if someone were to ask me seriously for advice on it, I'd tell them... they should really think about where they stand with that person. I mean, if it's a best friend or someone who really means a lot, then would they want to risk loosing them all together for the one chance that the other person might like them back? Or does the person mean too much for them to risk not having them at all. Perhaps it's more than like, perhaps it's love and you decide that you just have to know, you just have to risk it because that one, tiny chance is enough to risk everything to be with them, just because you love them that much..."
Rei was silent for another while and Max followed suit as he waited for him to say something else. After a while, Rei spoke again.
"I guess it all comes down to how brave you are, what you really want, and what kind of risks you're willing to take. Sometimes just being friends is better than nothing at all... And sometimes it's just not enough... "
Max starred at Rei for a moment, then nodded.
"You seem like you really know what you're talking about." He said softly. Rei finally looked at him and gave him a small smile, though his eyes were desperately trying to conceal some unfamiliar emotion Max couldn't identify.
"You could say that." He replied softly as well.
Max and Rei starred at each other for a long time until Max finally lost his nerve and looked away with a swallow.
"So, uh... any chance of you telling me who this special person is?"
Rei smiled again and looked away as well.
"Maybe someday... I'm just not sure I'm ready to tell just yet."
Max fought back a sigh and looked back at Rei with a forced smile.
"Anyone I know?"
Rei laughed a little.
"Yea, you know them pretty well."
Max felt his heart drop but forced himself to hold his smile in place.
"Well, whoever it is, they're really lucky to be liked by someone like you."
Rei starred at Max in surprise.
"Th-... thanks Max! That really means a lot to me... especially coming from you."
Max's smile slipped a little, but still he forced himself to hold it in place.
"No problem Rei. That's what friends are for right?"
Rei's expression slipped for a second as well but he quickly recovered and gave Max another smile.
"Yea. That's right Max... Friends."
Max looked away from Rei and cleared his throat. He needed to get away, this conversation was killing him.
"Uh, well... I think I'm gonna go fix up my beyblade."
Rei gave Max an odd look.
"Didn't you fix it up yesterday?"
Max felt his face flush considerably and had to turn completely away from Rei to conceal it.
"Uh... yea, but.. I didn't finish it."
"Oh. OK, well... I guess I'll see you later then."
Max nodded and stood up.
"Yep. See ya later Rei."
Max entered his room and plopped down on the bed.
"Ugh! Why can't I tell him?"
He thought for a moment and his thoughts soon came back to what Rei had said.
"Yea, you know them pretty well."
Max frowned deeply.
"Great! He's probably in love with Kai too! He just didn't want to tell cause he knows Tyson likes him. Either that or it's Hillary... or Kenny. Or maybe even one of his old teammates, like Mariah. Oh that would make SO much sense. And it wouldn't really be a surprise ... or maybe Rei likes one of my old teammates! I know all of them really well!"
Max paused in his thoughts for a moment as a tiny light shone through the darkness.
"Maybe it's me... I know me pretty well..."
Max shook his head. Of course it wasn't him! Why would it be him? Why would Rei be scared to tell him if it was him? Why would he be afraid to loose their friendship if it was him? Max wasn't mean, he wouldn't break off a friendship with someone because they liked him. Rei knew that, they all did.
And there goes the light.
Max sighed heavily. It was maddening. Was simple little talks together and pretty smiles all he would ever get? Was watching Rei and wishing all he would ever be able to do? Would his dreams be forever plagued with a gorgeous white tiger he could never seem to get close enough to to touch? Never be able to hug it, pet it, caress it. Would he have to forever watch Rei from afar and force smiles that were as fake as the flowers on Tyson's dining room table? Forever have to daydream about holding Rei and being held by him rather than experience the real thing, have to savour the occasional hug knowing that that was as much as he would ever get...?
It sure looked at way.
Max put his arms over his face and groaned loudly.
"Somebody put me out of my misery!" He groaned miserably.
Just then a knock was heard at the door. Max sighed and removed his arms from his face, then plastered on a fake smile.
"Come in." He said cheerfully.
The door opened and Tyson stepped into the room, closing it behind him. He walked over to the bed and sat down at the foot of it, leaning back so he could observe the blonde before him.
"You know, talking to yourself is the first sign of insanity." Tyson teased.
Max laughed lightly and looked up at the ceiling.
"I wasn't talking to myself. I was talking to anyone who would listen."
Tyson smiled sympathetically.
Max looked back at him and gave him a small smile.
"I know Ty."
Max looked back up at the ceiling again.
"Have you ever wondered if watching Kai from afar is worth it?"
A slight flush appeared on Tyson's cheeks.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I mean... have you ever wondered, 'what am I waiting for? Why don't I just tell him'?"
Tyson starred at a random spot on the bed for a moment before answering.
"Sometimes, yea. But then I think about how I would feel if I lost his friendship. I think I'd rather have him as a friend than nothing at all."
Max snorted humorlessly.
"That what Rei was saying earlier. He said you have to think about what the person means to you and what kinda risk you're willing to take."
"I know I'm not the smartest person in the world, but I know enough to get me by. Crushes are kinda like beyblading; most times it's fun but sometimes it's scary too. And sometimes you just know you're in a situation that you just might not stand a chance in... sometimes you need to take the risk in order to know if it's really worth it."
Max looked at Tyson in surprise.
"You're right Tyson. You might not be the smartest person in the world, but you're far from stupid either. That may have been the smartest thing you've ever said."
"Really? See, I'm helpful sometimes."
"Never doubted you for a minute."
Tyson smiled again, then looked up at the ceiling like Max had done earlier.
All was silent for a long time until Tyson finally spoke again.
"Everyone knows you like Rei." He said casually. Max looked at him in shock.
"It's obvious. I mean, c'mon! If I can notice it, everyone else sure can!"
Max's mouth dropped open. He was speechless.
Tyson looked back down at his best friend.
"Well, everyone except Rei of course."
Max closed his mouth and chewed his cheek for a moment, then frowned.
"Yea. And he's the one who counts."
Tyson starred at Max for a long time before continuing.
"I think he likes you too."
Max's head snapped back to look at Tyson again.
"What? Why do you say that?"
"I duno. It just seems like it. I mean, Rei is almost as hard to read as Kai... but there's these little things I notice."
Max furrowed his brows.
"Like what?" He asked incredulously.
Tyson looked back at him with a grin.
"Just things. Besides, I think the both of us need to grow a backbone! We've faced monsters and life-threatening situations and we can't even tell people we like that we like them? What kinda wimps does that make us?"
"It makes us human, Ty."
Tyson smiled back.
"Yea, maybe. But I still think we should tell them. If we put it off for too long, it'll eventually be too late. We'll be wrinkled old men, sitting around in our rocking chairs all day regretting what we didn't do."
Max starred at Tyson in awe. The blunette had said more intelligent things in the last few minutes then he had said in all the years they'd known each other.
"Tyson, where is all this coming from?" Max asked in amazement. Tyson grinned again and tapped his head.
"I dunno. I guess there's just some smarts that have been building up inside here for all my life, and they're only coming out now."
Max laughed and nodded.
"Well, honestly, I think you're right."
Tyson nodded too.
"So here's the deal; we each set a time line for ourselves where we have to tell Kai and Rei the truth. If we don't do it before times up, we forfeit our beyblading skills and never have another battle as long as we live."
Max's eyes widened. This was steep. Never beyblade again? He couldn't imagine it. But then, truth be told, it was probably the only thing scary enough to make him do the equally scary task Tyson had appointed them. So, with more resolve then he had ever had in his life, Max nodded and set his face into determination.
"Alright Ty! It's a deal!"
Tyson smiled and stuck his hand out for Max to shake. Max hesitated for a second, then took Tyson's hand.
"OK so, how are we gonna do this? How are we gonna make sure we don't chicken out on both?" Tyson asked. Max thought for a minute, then pulled Draciel from his pocket.
"How about this. We trade beyblades until our time limit is up. If one, or both of us, doesn't complete the deal, the other guy destroys his beyblade."
Tyson swallowed hard and pulled Dragoon from his pocket, starring down at him when he did. He starred down at the picture of his bitbeast for a long time, then finally looked up at Max with determination in his eyes and nodded.
"OK. That's what we'll do... I'm pretty sure that's the only thing that would force me to do it anyway..."
Max nodded solemnly.
The two friends held out their most precious possessions, the pieces of their very soul, and after a slight hesitation, traded them to each other.
Max sighed heavily and looked down at Dragoon, then put him in his pocket.
"OK. Now for our time limits."
Tyson placed a thoughtful hand on his chin and thought. After a few minutes, he seemed to have an epiphany.
"I know! The championship kickoff party tomorrow night!"
Max's eyes bugged.
"Tomorrow night?" He repeated incredulously.
"Yea." Tyson replied. "Think about it. It's gonna have to be then. I mean, we can't battle with each others blades, and the championship starts in a few days. And if Kai haves us training like every other competition or whatever, we're gonna need our blades right? So it has to be then."
"I see what you mean... but... it's sooo soon..."
"Yea, I know... but like I said, we don't have any other choice. Besides, do you really want something like that riding on your mind? I don't! I've put up with it long enough! C'mon Maxie! Whatta ya say?"
Max frowned and starred at his bedspread for a long time. Finally he sighed and looked up at Tyson, smiling brightly.
"Alright Tyson! Tomorrow night it is!"
Tyson grinned and gave his best friend a high five."
"Alright! Tomorrow night!"
Tyson bid Max goodbye and left his room. When he was gone, Max looked down at Dragoon and smiled. Even if Tyson didn't finish the deal, he knew he could never destroy his blade or bitbeast. And he knew Tyson wouldn't hurt his either. At least, he didn't think so... but hopefully the possibility and the fear would drive each other to do what they had to... It HAD to. Their sanity's depended on it.
Max looked in his mirror one last time and sighed as he looked himself over. This was it. This was the night.
He was wearing a white button down dress shirt, faded denim jeans and his favorite sneakers. His cuffs were rolled up loosely and his top few buttons were undone. For once, his unruly blonde locks were gelled and arranged into perfectly neat, casual spikes.
Max reached into his pocket and fingered the beyblade inside it. Was he ready for this? Was one night too soon? Had him and Tyson been a little hasty in their decision?
Perhaps. But it was too late now.
Max started as he heard a knock at his door.
"Come in." He replied, trying to keep the nervousness from his voice. It didn't work.
The door opened and once again, Tyson came in, closing it behind him. He looked Max over and grinned.
"Lookin' good blondie. Someone you trying to impress?"
Max grinned and looked at the blunette.
Max looked Tyson over too.
"Looking pretty good yourself, Tyson."
Tyson grinned. He was wearing dark jeans, as opposed to Max's faded ones, a red button-down short-sleeved shirt with a black t-shirt underneath and also a pair of sneakers. Surprisingly, Tyson's ever present hat was absent and his usually unruly hair looked neat and tidy, secured as usual in a low pony tail at the back.
"Wow Ty, leaving your hat behind? You sure you can survive without it?"
"Believe me, it wasn't easy! It was definitely the hardest thing I've ever had to do!"
Max smiled again.
"Yea, but you're soon gonna have to do something a whole lot harder."
Tyson's smile slipped a little.
"Yea. Thanks for reminding me." He said sarcastically.
Max grinned and walked over to his friend, throwing an arm around his shoulders.
"Hey, don't worry about it. Wherever you are, know that I'm close by, dying of embarrassment too."
Tyson laughed and threw his arm around Max's shoulders too.
"I'll keep that in mind." He said with a grin. He then looked at the clock on Max's wall, then back at the blonde with a small smile. "Everyone else is supposed to meet us there. You ready?"
Max took a deep breath and nodded.
"Yep! As ready as I'll ever be."
"Alright, lets get this over with!"
"I was talking to Michael earlier, and he said they're going to be there. Apparently they've been training non-stop ever since World Championships last year."
"I was talking to Tala earlier too, and -"
Rei starred at Kai, waiting for the elder boy to continue. When he didn't, Rei gave him an odd look.
"Uh, Kai?" He questioned confusedly. When Kai didn't answer, and Rei noticed he was looking past his shoulder, he turned around to see what his team captain was looking at. His jaw dropped slightly at what he saw.
Tyson and Max had just entered the party and were being greeted by friends, family, acquaintances, fans and all kinds of people all around. The two boys were both wearing their ever-present grins and were each greeting people on all sides cheerfully. Tyson, for once, looked neat and well groomed; and Max, well, Max looked... wow.
Rei swallowed and turned to Kai.
"Hey, you wanna go over and-?"
He stopped when he noticed his team Captain was no longer beside him. Rei looked around and soon spotted Kai already making his way towards the blonde and blunette. Rei smiled and followed after him.
Max laughed at something Emily had just said. Both him and Tyson had been instantly surrounded as soon as they had entered the party. Being a total socialite and all around happy-go-lucky person, people loved to talk to and be around the cheerful blonde. This usually wasn't a problem for Max, but at the moment, he just wanted to get away from them all and go find Rei and Kai. Glancing over at Tyson and the fake smiles that only Max could see through, he could see that his friend was thinking the same thing.
Max sighed inwardly and turned back to the people he was talking to with a smile. Just then he felt a soft nudge to his ribs. Turning to his right, he saw Tyson. The other boy leaned in so only Max could hear him and spoke softly into his ear.
"Looks like we don't need to go looking for Kai and Rei."
"Why?" Max asked, blinking in confusion.
"Don't look now, but they're coming directly towards us."
Max pulled away from Tyson and casually looked out over the crowd, pretending to be simply observing. As he scanned, he saw that his two team mates in question were indeed walking towards them.
Max turned back to Tyson with a smile.
"Shall we?" He whispered playfully. Tyson grinned and both boys turned to the people surrounding them.
"Excuse me." Max said politely, giving them a smile. He then pushed past them, followed by Tyson, and walked to meet his two older team mates half way.
Max's breath caught in his throat when him and Tyson finally met up with their two friends. Kai was wearing a black button-down with white pinstripes and dark blue jeans. His spiky two-toned hair was arranged perfectly so not a hair was out of place and the blue paint that usually adorned his cheeks was surprisingly absent tonight. Kai looked very handsome but it was Rei, of course, that Max was interested in. The neko-jin was wearing a simple, silken, Chinese-style red dress shirt with black trim and white silk pants. His normally braided and wrapped hair was now simply fastened in a low ponytail and draped over his left shoulder. The normally gorgeous raven-haired teen now looked like a total knockout - at least, that's what Max thought.
Max swallowed and forced himself to keep his cool. However, he almost completely lost it all when Rei flashed him a fanged, cat-like smile.
"Nice to see you boys finally made it." He teased playfully, looking between the two kindly. Max smiled back and laughed.
"Hey, good things take time." He replied playfully.
"That's right!" Tyson added with a grin, gesturing between Max and himself. "Looks like these don't happen in seconds. It takes time too perfect this kinda thing!"
The three boys laughed and Kai smiled, shaking his head slightly.
"So, what are we standing around like a couple of wall flowers for? Lets show these people how to party!"
"Yea! Lets party!" Tyson cheered enthusiastically.
The two boys made their way to the dance floor and their team mates were forced to follow.
After much dancing - on Tyson and Max's part at least - the two decided it was time for a break. Max lifted Emily's hand and gave it a polite kiss, thanking her for the dance. Tyson gave Hilary a charming smile and thanked her as well. The two then turned towards the table Rei and Kai were sitting at and stopped in their tracks. The other boys had their heads together and were whispering among themselves furiously, each looking like they were ready to strangle someone.
Max and Tyson looked at each other in bewilderment.
"What in the name of beyblading is wrong with them?" Tyson asked in confusion. Max shrugged.
"I dunno... but I'd hate to be the people they're talking about!"
The two boys laughed and headed over to their friends' table, taking a seat each.
"Hey guys. Doesn't look like you guys are having much fun."
Kai and Rei looked at the new arrivals, but their expression's didn't change. However, this didn't discourage their younger team mates.
"What's with the faces you guys? There's enough spite in your expressions to put the biggest brat to shame."
Rei simply looked away from them all with a sour look. Kai crossed his arms and turned away from Tyson.
"Hn." He said simply.
Tyson and Max looked at each other, then moved to sit in front of a boy each.
Tyson reached out and pinched Kai's pale cheek teasingly. Despite his long hours in the sun, he hadn't gained a shade of color.
"Aw, wats wong? Can't find anyone who wants to dance with you? Guess you're just not as cute as us, that's all."
Kai's frowned deepened and he reached up to swat Tyson's hand away.
Unfazed, Tyson merely grinned.
"C'mon you old sourpuss, gimme a smile! I'm just kidding!" He tilted his head a little and gave Kai his most winning smile. "You can't tell me you got all dressed up looking that good and aren't gonna at least try and have fun!"
Max watched as an involuntarily smile tugged at the corners of Kai's mouth. Whether it was because of the nickname Tyson had long ago doubted him or the some-what compliment he had received, it had worked.
Max turned back to Rei and grinned.
"And what's wrong with the kitty cat? Can't tell me he got all dressed up to sit here and be a grumpy old kill-joy all night?"
Rei looked back at him but his expression didn't soften.
Like Tyson, Max was completely unfazed.
"C'mon pretty kitty, gimme a smile! You look so much better when you smile!"
Rei simply starred at Max with a unamused look.
"Geeze tough crowd!" Max thought. "But there is NO WAY I'm gonna let him be a grouch all night! It's gonna be hard enough to tell a normal Rei my secret. I'll never be able to tell him if he's like this!"
Max leaned in extra close to Rei's face and grinned the most Max-like grin possible.
"C'mon, don't break my heart. How can you possibly deny a face like this?"
Rei starred at Max for merely a few seconds before he finally cracked and burst into laughter.
"Alright, alright! Geeze! You're right, how can anybody resist that face?" He then smiled. "And I wouldn't wanna break your heart Maxie."
Max looked over at Tyson with a grin and Tyson grinned back. He then looked back at Rei and Rei smiled at him again.
"Glad to hear it. So, what's eatin' ya?" Max asked kindly.
Rei glanced at Kai and the two gave each other a serious look. Max and Tyson exchanged looks before looking back at their crushes.
"Nothing." Rei said casually, even going so far as to give the blonde a convincing smile.
Max raised an eyebrow. He wasn't convinced.
"Nothing." Max repeated skeptically.
"Yea. Nothing." Rei replied.
Max starred at him for a minute, the smiled.
"Yea. Right. How about we take a walk?"
Rei looked at Max in surprise.
"Uh.. yea, sure."
Max stood up and glanced at Tyson again. Tyson reached down and patted his pocket suggestively. Max reached a hand inside his jeans pocket and once again fingered the beyblade inside. He looked back at Tyson and nodded, then walked away with Rei following close behind.
Max lead Rei outside and down a nearby path. He had no idea where the path lead, but the moon was brighter than twenty street lights so he knew it would be hard to get lost.
"So, are you gonna tell me what's wrong with you?" Max asked his friend as they walked.
"I said it was nothing." Rei replied. His voice was calm but Max picked up a cold edge to it. Max sighed.
"Well that's funny, cause you seemed fine when I arrived first. Now your sour enough to put lemons out of business."
Rei smiled at Max's comment. Where did he come up with this stuff?
"Max, I said it's nothing. Don't worry about me OK."
Max looked at Rei with a frown. Rei's expression softened. He hated to see Max frown. He hated to see any expression on the blonde's face but a smile.
"You know, a smile suits you so much better." Rei said kindly. Max ignored him.
"I can't help but worry about you Rei. You're my friend remember?"
Rei stopped walking, forcing Max to stop too, and looked ahead of him. After a long time, he looked back at Max with a serious expression.
"Maybe that's the problem, Max. Maybe I don't want to be your friend anymore."
Max's brows furrowed and his heart began to beat wildly.
"What? What's that supposed to mean? He doesn't want to be my friend anymore? Why? Was it something I said? Or something I did? Oh no! This can't be happening! How can I tell him now? Oh no! Oh damn! This was a stupid idea! What should I do?"
Max felt his eyes flood and turned quickly away form Rei.
"I'm sorry you feel that way Rei..." Max said, voice cracking slightly. "I don't know what I did.. but I'm sorry."
Rei regarded Max in confusion, not seeing the other boy's tears.
"Max... what are you talking about?"
Max frowned and Rei's confusion only grew.
"You said you didn't want to be my friend any more... so... I'm apologising for whatever I did or said to make you feel that way."
Max took a deep, shaky breath, careful not to let Rei hear it. When he felt he had control over himself again, he continued.
"I wish you'd said something before Rei. But I guess it doesn't matter now, it's out. I'll leave you alone."
Max turned then and walked away.
Rei's head was reeling. What just happened? Something told him that Max hadn't taken his comment at all like he'd meant it.
Rei watched Max walk a few feet until he finally shook his head.
Max stopped but didn't turn around.
"Max, please look at me."
Max didn't move.
Rei reached out to take one of Max's hands and noticed with a start that they were both clenched tightly.
"Max..." Rei said softly. "You obviously didn't take that the way I'd meant it..."
Max lowered his head.
"It doesn't matter how I took it..." He said, his voice sounding strangely alien to Rei's ears.
"It doesn't matter because... because I'll never mean to you what I want to."
Max swallowed hard, trying desperately to control himself.
"I'll never mean to you what you mean to me... and I know you said that you've got to know what the other person means to you and what kinda of risks you're willing to take... well I know Rei. I know that you mean everything to me, you're more than a team mate and more than a friend and I can't take it anymore. I can't stand seeing you every day and knowing that I'll never have what I want. I'll never get my happy ending because happy endings only exist in fairy tales! They only exist for princes and princesses, not for people who fall in love with their best friends! And I've thought long and hard about this and I've realized that if I can't have you in my life and be with you Rei, then I can't have you in my life at all... it's just too painful and I just can't do it anymore. So please, just let me go and don't say anything."
Max took a step forward but paused, deciding he needed to say one last thing before he was finished.
"I love you Rei..." He whispered painfully. "And nothing you say or do will ever change that..."
Max bit his lip and forced himself to walk. Every step was excruciating and the silence was tearing him apart. Half of him wanted to turn around and see exactly what Rei had thought of his confession, but the other half knew he wouldn't be able to stand Rei's rejection, knew that if he turned around and saw the disgust, the repulsion and the down-right disturbed look on Rei's face, it would be the end of him. It would either drive him to the grave or into a padded room with a straight jacket.
Max's fists clenched tighter and the tears he had been so desperately biting back now spilled unchecked down his cheeks. The hot, salty liquid was the most foreign thing imaginable to ever touch Max's lips. He couldn't remember the last time he had cried, because for all his life, there had never been a reason to. Now his whole world was unravelling at the seams and a lifetime of tears were cascading down his cheeks with enough water to rival Niagara Falls.
"C'mon Max! Walk faster! The faster you get away from him, the faster you can find some way to ebb your pain away."
Max's mind trailed then to the beyblade in his pocket. He looked at his watch and noted that it was past midnight. If Tyson hadn't completed the deal by now then Dragoon was history - or at least that's how it was supposed to be. Max knew he'd never be able to harm the dragon.
"At least I finished the deal." Max thought miserably. "I told Rei how I felt, even if I didn't get a good response... Sure hope Tyson had better luck then me..."
Rei starred after Max while his mind was in utter turmoil. What the hell just happened? Had he been hearing things, dreaming, imagining what he'd heard, or had Max seriously just confessed his love for him?
No.. he couldn't have... could he?
Rei's mind trailed back to Max's last sentence.
"I love you Rei... And nothing you say or do will ever change that."
Rei shook his head. There was no doubt about it, he had definitely heard the blonde right.
Rei watched Max walk a while and noted the way he seemed to be lifting his feet like they were solid cement blocks, the way his shoulders were slumped depressingly, the way his from was quivering and shaking almost violently and the way his head was bowed in a mix of shame, embarrassment and complete sorrow.
Rei frowned deep. No, Max had definitely not taken his comment the way he was supposed to!
Rei swallowed and hesitated for only a second more before bounding after Max.
When he reached him, Rei took Max's hand and stopped him.
"Rei, please don't!" Max choked, sounding like he was in mortal pain. Rei's frown deepened and he walked around to Max's front, then placed a hand on his chin and lifted his face.
Upon the sight he saw, Rei's heart shattered into a million pieces and his own eyes flooded with tears.
Max's cheeks were streaked with tears and more were steadily streaming down his fair face. His normally cheerful, ocean-blue eyes were dulled with sorrow and he looked like a beaten and abused puppy.
"Oh Max..." Rei choked painfully. "You didn't take that the way you were supposed to! Not at all!"
Max bit his cheek hard.
"I told you, it doesn't matt-"
Rei placed a finger to the blonde's lips.
"Would you shut up for a minute and let me talk." He said softly. He removed his finger and Max bit down on his lip as the tears streamed faster down the younger boy's cheeks, breaking Rei's heart all over again.
"Max, when I said I didn't want to be your friend anymore, I didn't mean because I was mad at you or didn't want to see you again or didn't like you anymore! I said it because I couldn't stand being only your friend anymore."
It seemed to take a minute to sink in but after a few moments, Max's brows furrowed and he looked up at Rei through glossy eyes.
"What?" He said hoarsely.
Rei took Max's face in his hands and starred into his eyes.
"I'm sick of being your friend because I want so be more. I want so badly to be more."
A pair of tears slipped down Rei's cheeks as he moved his thumbs to wipe Max's from his face. He then blinked to push back the rest of his own and gave Max a small smile.
"I love you too Maxie... Heart and soul..."
Max starred at Rei in shock and another pair of tears rolled down his cheeks. Rei was just about to wipe them away when Max grabbed the front of his shirt and yanked him forwards. Their lips met and Rei immediately melted. He wrapped his arms around Max's waist and pulled him tight.
Max's arms slid around Rei's shoulders and squeezed tightly. He let out a small moan as Rei's lips hungrily devoured his. He felt giddy and thought for sure he would collapse. Max felt his knees buckle and lowered himself to the ground, Rei following him.
The two knelt down and pulled each other closer. Max felt like his heart would explode. Who knew? Who knew Rei had felt that way? And how long? As long as Max had? Longer? He'd definitely have to ask.
How stupid had he been? How could he have taken Rei's confession - he knew now that that's technically what it had been - the wrong way? How had he not seen the signs Tyson had been talking about? Why hadn't he ever realized these things sooner? He could have had this, had Rei all to himself, long ago! But instead he'd missed it, and in turn, missed this precious time with Rei.
Max moaned again as Rei licked and gently nibbled his lower lip.
Screw the past and wasted time! He'd just have to make up for lost time from now on!
"Oh, Rei..." Max moaned feverishly.
He opened his mouth to allow entrance and Rei smiled into the kiss. He gently pushed Max back until he was laying in the grass and pressed his body against the blonde tenderly.
Max's heart was beating wildly, like a caged animal threatening to break free of its confines. It was threatening to strangle him and Max wasn't sure how much more he could take. He pulled away from Rei and hugged him to his body, trying to catch his breath and slow his racing heart.
"Oh, why didn't I tell you sooner!" Max said breathlessly.
Rei smiled and captured Max's lips again for another heated kiss. When he pulled away, he smiled again.
"I really wish one of us had said something, but there's no use dwelling on what should have been done. I don't know about you Maxie, but I won't let any time from now on go to waste."
Max grinned wide and starred into Rei's face.
"Me either." He said happily. "We'll just have to make up for lost time."
Rei returned Max's smile and leaned back down to capture his lips again.
Max smiled in delight as he kissed his new-found lover back. He took back what he'd said earlier; he hoped Tyson had as much luck as he'd had, because there was no way he'd had better.
Max and Rei walked back into the party a few hours later. They earned a few odd looks, along with some smiles and looks of approval due to their intertwined fingers, but no one really seemed surprised or to mind.
"I wonder where Tyson and Kai are." Max mused as he scanned the room. The crowd had diminished considerably since the blonde and raven-haired teens had disappeared.
"I'm sure they're around here somewhere." Rei said, scanning the room as well.
Just then, Max's cell rang.
"Hey Ty." Max answered, recognising the ring.
"Not interrupting anything am I?"
Max grinned and looked at Rei.
"No. If you were I wouldn't have answered."
"Yea OK, you got me. So? How did it go? Did you finish our deal or will you be saying goodbye to Draciel?"
"No Ty, I'll be taking my bitbeast back."
Rei gave Max an odd look but the blonde just shook his head dismissively.
"And you're happy?" Tyson asked excitedly. "So I guess it's alright, huh?"
Max grinned again and looked at Rei.
"Better than alright! Way better!"
Max had to pull his cell from his ear as a deafening hoot was heard from the other end. Both Max and Rei laughed and Max replaced the cell to his ear.
"So? What about you? Do I have two bitbeasts instead of one?"
Tyson laughed again.
"Nope! Sorry to disappoint you Maxie, but I got two things tonight!"
Max could practically see Tyson's huge grin before him.
"That's great Ty! Looks like we did alright!"
"Yep! Looks good to me!"
"Well, where are you guys? It's almost four thirty in the morning?"
"We're back at the dojo. We just got home when I called you."
"Oh." Max replied. "Well, I guess we'll head home too then?"
As he said this, the blonde gave Rei and enquiring look. Rei smiled and nodded and Max smiled back.
"Kay. See you guys in a bit, Ty."
Max closed his cell and put it back in his pocket.
"That was Ty.. duh. He said-"
Max paused as a yawn broke through his speech. Rei smiled at him.
Max smiled back and nodded.
"We could catch a cab?" Rei offered. Max shook his head.
"That would be such a waste. It's a nice night, lets walk."
Rei smiled at him.
Max nodded again.
"OK." Rei replied, lifting Max's hand to place a kiss to his pale fingertips. The two walked around the party for a bit, saying goodbye to all their friends, then left and began their walk home.
When they were a few blocks away from the party, Rei looked at Max.
"Hey Maxie, just tell me one thing."
Max looked at him questioningly.
Rei gave him a lopsided smile.
"Please tell me you and Tyson didn't make a bet involving Kai and Me."
Max blushed a little and smiled, looking forward.
"We didn't make a bet per say, it was more of ah... an insurance policy."
Rei raised an eyebrow at the blonde for a moment, then laughed.
"I don't even want to know." He said with a smile. Max laughed and turned to him.
"Don't worry, everything turned out just fine."
Rei stopped walking, causing Max to stop too.
"I think things turned out better than fine."
Max smiled up at him and wrapped his arms around the white tiger.
"Well, maybe a little better." He teased playfully. Rei raised an eyebrow.
"Just a little?"
"Just a little."
"Well, let's see if I can change that."
Rei smiled down at the blonde, then leaned in to give him the sweetest kiss Max could ever imagine.
In a hotel very nearby, a redhead stopped in his tracks as something out his window caught his eye.
"Hello." He said to himself with great interest. "What do we have here?"
"Tala! Where are you?"
Tala turned his head slightly and called over his shoulder.
"Hey, Brian! Come here, hurry!... I'm in the living room!"
Seconds later, a lavender-haired young man appeared next to the red-head.
"What?" He said bluntly.
Tala pointed out the window and Brian's eyes bugged as he leaned against the window and pressed his hands and forehead against it, trying to get a better look.
"Is that Max and Rei?"
"Don't ask stupid questions." He replied bluntly. "You know it is."
Ignoring the rudeness, Brian continued to gawk.
"What are the chances of them stopping right in front of our window?" He asked incredulously.
"Dunno. But I'm pretty glad they did. What's that? Two months? Even sooner than I expected."
Brian pulled away from the window and looked at Tala, noting the all-too-cocky grin on his team captain's face. Tala then held out his hand and wiggled his fingers.
Brian crossed his arms with a snort.
"What do you want?"
Tala looked up and listed things off on his fingers.
"Rubles, Yen, Dollars. It's up to you."
He then looked back at Brian with a sly expression.
"Unless you can think of some other form of payment."
Brian grinned and grabbed Tala, pulling him tight to his body.
"I'm sure I can think of something." He muttered huskily, then leaned forward and captured Tala's lips hungrily.
Tala smirked and kissed the other teen back as Brian wrapped the redhead's legs around his waist and carried him into the bedroom.