A/N: So, here's (finally!) the last chapter! Sorry if it's not what you expect, (lol) or if it seems rushed. I really did try. PLEASE let me know what you think! Please! :)
Disclaimer: I do not own Beyblade or any of its characters.
A little over a week had passed since the Bladebreaker's swimming trip, and the rain had not yet ceased. Sadly, neither had Max's anger with Rei. The blonde had finally had enough and was resolved not to talk to Rei until the raven-haired teen came to him; he'd had enough of it being the other way around.
Tyson and Kai watched Max on the couch opposite them, fiddling with his blade in silence.
"It's been days since they've talked." Tyson whispered to Kai.
Kai merely frowned and nodded. After a while, he looked at Tyson.
"This has gone on long enough." He whispered firmly. "You take Max, I'll take Rei."
Tyson nodded and both teens stood up, one walking to the couch with Max, the other walking to the kitchen to find Rei.
"Hey buddy." Tyson said casually, sitting beside Max. "What's up?"
"Nothin', just fixing my blade." Max replied cheerfully. If it weren't for the fact that the blonde wasn't talking to Rei, Tyson would swear there was nothing wrong with his best friend. He was still his normal, cheery self, but Tyson wasn't fooled. Max was a master of disguise and could make one believe he was ecstatic when in reality he was ready to break down and cry.
"Yea, I noticed." Tyson replied. "Is it broken?"
Max paused for a moment.
"Um.. no." He replied, pausing again before speaking. " I just... need something to do ya know? Something to keep my mind off of-"
Max stopped abruptly, catching himself, and cleared his throat.
"Something to keep me busy..." He said instead, going back to his blade. "Being stuck in the house is really starting to get to me."
Tyson had to agree with this. They had all gone out a few times since the storm; mostly just to the store, or the movies and such, but for the most part, there was little to do while the rain kept going the way it did.
"I see." Tyson said. He waited a few moments, then spoke again.
"Hey Max? I know it's not really any of my business but... how come you and Rei aren't talking? I mean.. you guys haven't said a word to each other in days..."
Max frowned then, the first time in days, and stopped his fiddling.
"Cause." He replied simply. There was yet another pause before he spoke again. "I've had enough Tyson. I'm sick of Rei keeping secrets, and if he really does like me, then he's gonna have to grow a back bone and tell me! I mean, I've tried really hard, you know I have!"
Max paused for a minute, waiting for confirmation of this from Tyson. Receiving a smile and a nod, he continued.
"Exactly! I've tried, I've given him signs and hints, and I've stuck out my neck in an effort, but he hasn't done anything!"
Tyson gave Max a sympathetic smile.
"Maybe he's scarred." The blunette replied softly. Max snorted indignantly.
"That's no excuse." The blonde said bitterly. "I was scarred too! But why should I have to do all the work? Why should I have to be the only one sweating over this, squirming nervously and making myself sick with worry and whatever? It's not fair! If Rei really cares about me like everyone thinks and says he does, then it's his turn to take a risk. If not, then fine! I give up!"
Max's frown deepened then and he looked down at his beyblade, his voice lowering to a little over a whisper.
"I mean... He can't really care that much if he's not willing to take the risk can he?"
Tyson gave Max another small smile and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"I can't answer that Maxie." He said quietly. "But... don't count Rei out just yet OK?"
Max said nothing as he starred at his blade. He just hoped Tyson was right.
Rei looked up as Kai entered the kitchen. He gave his best friend a small smile and looked back down at the pot he was throwing things into.
"Hey Kai." He said as evenly as he could. "Food's not quite ready yet."
Kai leaned against the doorframe of the wall and crossed his arms, eyeing the white tiger intently.
"That's not why I'm here and you know it."
Rei sighed and turned a dial on the stove, making sure it was fully off before turning back to Kai.
"Yea, I kinda figured." He replied. "So, what do ya wanna know?"
"What's up with you and Max." Kai asked bluntly. Rei couldn't help but smile at this.
"Boy, you sure don't waste any time do you?"
Kai simply starred at Rei in response. Rei sighed again and leaned against the stove, resting his hands on it on either side of him.
"Max came to me a few days ago..." Rei said slowly. "He told me he was talking to Mariah and that she understood everything and wanted me to be happy. That made me feel better, but..."
Rei paused and took a deep breath, trying his hardest to will back his tears. Eventually he continued.
"But, then I misunderstood something he said and, well... for some stupid reason I thought he liked Mariah... Anyway, once that was straightened out, he asked me who I liked but... but I couldn't tell him. He got mad at me after that, mad at me for keeping secrets from him... He told me to come talk to him when I was ready to trust him. But... it's not about trust. "
Rei closed his eyes then and squeezed them shut.
"I couldn't tell him Kai... I couldn't tell him that-"
Rei's voice trailed off and he bit the side of his cheek to will back his tears.
Kai starred at him with a deep frown. After a long time, he finally sighed and straightened.
"As much as Tyson and I are worried about you two, there's nothing we can do. This is something you need to work out yourselves."
Kai then walked up to Rei and placed a hand on his shoulder, causing Rei to look up at him through glossy eyes.
"But there's one thing you need to know; if you've got something to tell Max - and we all know you do, even he knows that - then you'd better hurry up and tell him. He's not gonna wait for you forever Rei, and you know you'll never forgive yourself if you let him go."
Kai let go of Rei then and walked away to the exit. He paused before leaving, not looking back at his friend as he spoke again.
"You never know if a risk is worth it until you take the chance. Trust me, I know. And I know how hard it is, but in the end it's always worth it. Take the chance Rei, no matter what Max says, you won't regret it."
Kai left then, leaving Rei to his own mess of thoughts.
Two blunettes met in the hallway, halfway between the kitchen and the living room.
"Man, Max is pretty shaken up about this..." Tyson said worriedly. "He's tryin' real hard to hide it, but... you can see it."
Kai nodded solemnly.
"Rei too." He said with a frown. "Tyson, I know you care about them, I do too, but we can't get involved in this, it's not our place. You know that don't you?"
Tyson nodded with a frown, looking down at his feet.
"I know..." He said quietly. "I just feel terrible that they're both hurting this much and there's nothing we can do..."
Kai placed a finger under the younger boy's chin and lifted his face to look at him.
"Hey, there's always something you can do. Just be there for them. It doesn't seem like much, but it means a lot when you feel alone... trust me, I know."
Tyson gave Kai a small smile.
"I hope you know you're not alone either Kai... You never were."
Kai smiled, a ghost of a smile.
"I know." He whispered softly.
He then leaned down and pressed a small kiss to the blunette's lips.
Pulling away, Tyson intertwined his fingers with Kai's and turned back towards the living room.
The two boys had merely taken a few steps when they heard the door open. Turning in curiosity, they looked at each other, then made their way towards the front door.
Tyson and Kai stopped, a little surprised at who had just piled through the door.
"Is this rain ever gonna stop?"
"I hope so! Boy am I glad we weren't here for the past few weeks!"
Tyson's mouth dropped open slightly.
The two new arrivals turned to Tyson and Kai with smiles, shrugging out of their raincoats and taking off their boots.
"Hey guys!" Kenny greeted the two.
"Guess what?" Hillary said enthusiastically. "Kenny's family and mine met up on our vacation and we all ended up spending it together! Isn't that cool? How weird is that huh?"
"Yea. It's pretty unlikely, but evidently not impossible. I rather enjoyed myself."
Tyson gave them a small smile.
"That's great guys." He said half-heartedly. Kai simply nodded.
Kenny and Hillary looked at each other, then back to the two boys.
"You don't seem to happy to see us." Hillary teased gently.
Tyson and Kai exchanged looks then too before turning back to their friends.
"Sorry guys, a lot has happened the past week." Tyson said with a sigh.
"Really?" Kenny asked curiously. "Like what?"
Tyson sighed again and began his explanation, punctuated occasionally by Kai, who added bits and pieces here and there.
Kenny and Hillary listened intently as Tyson and Kai told their story, then starred worriedly once they were finished.
"Gee... that sounds awful.." Hillary said sadly.
"Indeed..." Kenny said thoughtfully. "I can't imagine those two not talking... it just doesn't seem right.."
"Why don't we go greet them?" Hillary suggested. "Maybe a change in pace will cheer them up a bit."
The others agreed and went to greet the two boys in question.
Tyson, Kai, Kenny and Hillary all sat on a couch in the living room. They had greeted both Max and Rei and received a minimal response, after which both boys had retreated to their own rooms.
"This is serious..." Kenny said gravely. "There must be something we can do..."
Kai, who hadn't spoken for some time, finally spoke up then.
"This isn't our business. I know they're friends of all of us, and we all care about what happens to them, but this is their problem and we can't get involved, it's that simple. We'll just have to wait it out and hope for the best."
The others once again agreed, but didn't like this option one bit. Still, they knew Kai was right and they had to let Max and Rei straighten things out for themselves.
"Geeze, what a thing to come home to.." Hillary teased humorlessly. "Can't we leave you guys alone for a few weeks?"
The others humored her with a smile but said nothing, each lost then in their own thoughts.
Rei settled in on his place on the over-stuffed armchair as Tyson turned off the lights. Once they were out and everyone was comfortable in their spots, Rei stole a glance at Max through the near-darkness. The blonde was sitting at the far end of the room as far away from Rei as possible. He pretended to be interested in the movie just coming on, but Rei could see that the blonde was far away from the living room and everyone in it.
"Max... I wish you'd talk to me..." Rei thought miserably.
"Shh! It's coming on!" Tyson hushed excitedly. He snuggled in next to Kai on their couch and Kai shook his head with an amused smirk as his arm slipped around the blunette's shoulders.
Rei looked at his two friends enviously. It was already common knowledge that Kai and Tyson were an item and Rei couldn't help but feel jealous. Turning away from the two, he looked back at the big screen TV and followed Max's example, pretending to be interested in the movie. In reality, he was as far away from the room as he could possibly be and couldn't care less about the images flashing across the screen. Still, he didn't need to ruin his friends' fun because of his lack of enthusiasm.
It was halfway into the movie before Rei glanced back at Max again. He was missing the blonde's presence next to him, now being so used to have him nearby when they watched movies together. It didn't seem right for them to be so far apart now.
Obviously sensing Rei's eyes on him, Max turned to the older boy with a frown. Their eyes met for a few moments before Max stood up.
"I think I'm gonna go to bed guys." He said calmly, adding a stretch and small yawn for effect. "I'm kinda tired. See you guys in the morning."
"But... Max, you've wanted to see this since it came out!" Tyson reasoned in vain.
Max gave his friend a small smile and headed out of the room.
"I'll see it some other time." He said on his way by. "Night guys."
The people remaining in the room all chorused a response in unison before Max disappeared, then fell silent again when he was gone.
Rei sighed heavily and rubbed the bridge of his nose.
"This is eating me alive..." He thought with a deep frown. "Kai's right, I've got to say something, and soon."
Rei stood up then too.
"I think I'm gonna turn in too guys, not really my kinda movie."
The others exchanged looks before turning back to Rei.
"Man... are you sure? We have another one too." Tyson asked with another frown.
"Yea I'm sure. You guys go ahead. Night."
Tyson sighed and Kai frowned. Kenny and Hillary exchanged looks.
"Night Rei." They again chimed in unison. With that said, Rei was gone too.
The four teens remaining in the room all exchanged worried looks but said nothing. They'd already made a pact to stay out of Max and Rei's business and they intended to stick to it. This was something the two really did need to work out themselves.
Rei awoke the next day at around mid-day. It was the second time in a little over a week that he hadn't had tea with Kai due to sleeping in late. He figured Kai had left him alone knowing Rei had needed his space. For this he was grateful.
The Chinese blader sat up and stretched, then got up and headed to his bathroom for a quick shower. The steaming hot water did nothing for his sullen mood as the White Tiger got back out and dried himself off before getting dressed.
Heading downstairs, Rei walked to the living room and sat on a couch by the window. Kenny and Hillary were there on another couch looking and laughing at something on Kenny's laptop. Seeing him enter the room, the two turned to him with smiles.
"Hey Rei." Kenny greeted cheerfully.
"Morning Rei." Hillary added. "We're looking at pictures of Kenny's and my vacation. Wanna see?"
Rei forced a small smile.
"No thanks. Maybe later."
The two teens nodded and turned back to the laptop while Rei turned to the window.
"Looks like the rain has finally stopped." He thought absently. "Well... mostly. It's still a little drizzly, but at least the clouds have thinned considerably. About time too... a week in the house is enough to drive even me crazy."
It was at that moment, for some unknown reason, that Rei remembered something Tyson had said to him sometime the day before.
"Hey Rei, if you get the chance, check your email. I sent you something I think you'll really laugh at!"
Rei smiled lightly. Heaven only knew what the blunette had sent him. Knowing his sense of humor, it was likely something extremely odd, but still funny nonetheless. Rei turned back to Kenny and Hillary.
"Hey Kenny, do you mind if I borrow your computer for a minute? I just wanna check my email for something."
Kenny smiled at Rei and nodded.
"Sure Rei, let me just close out of all this stuff..." Kenny clicked a few things, then smiled again and handed the laptop to his friend. "There you go."
Rei returned the smile.
Rei opened a new window and got into his email account. He scanned down through the emails and smiled at some of the names he saw. There were a few from some of his friends he'd met along his travels, some from his old team mates - which was always nice to receive since he got so few - and then there was Tyson's email. Rei moved the mouse to click on it when another name a ways below it caught his eye instead.
"Huh... There's one from Max.."
Rei hesitated for a moment, then clicked on the email. There was no subject, which was odd because Max usually wrote one when he sent something. He opened the email and scrolled down. The email was blank but there was a file attached so Rei clicked on it. Once the file opened, Rei scrolled down again, but this time he gasped at what he saw.
"Oh wow, that's some picture Rei."
Usually Rei would have jumped at the voice but this time he was too shocked to even register it. Dizzi spoke again.
"Looks like someone's got a crush." She teased playfully. And after a few moments, she spoke again. "And someone else has a blush."
"What are you guys looking at?" Kenny asked, moving to look over Rei's shoulder. Following suit, Hillary sat on Rei's other side.
"Awww! That's really sweet Rei! Did Max draw that?"
Rei was speechless as he starred at the screen before him.
On the screen was a picture of himself, only he wasn't alone. Standing in the frame with him, lips locked with his, was none other than his favorite blonde himself. Upon seeing the picture, Rei knew immediately that this was the picture Max had drawn, and later sent, on the night of their Truth or Dare game. Suddenly everything since then made sense - and so did everything before that come to think of it. Rei understood now. His eyes were the ones the blonde had described in detail. He was the one who had made Max so uncomfortable. And he was the reason Max had not been overly excited about Mariah's visit. Rei was Max's crush.
Rei swallowed hard and looked back at the screen. It was only now that he saw the writing beneath the picture and read it aloud.
"This is so much more than a dare to me Rei. You're so much more to me."
"Aww! That's so sweet." Hillary cooed again, folding her hands and placing them against her cheek dreamily. Kenny looked at Rei thoughtfully.
"Yea...?" Rei asked, starring off into nothing in a slight daze.
"What are you still doing here?"
Rei looked at the brunette and blinked a few times, then grinned wide and thrust Dizzi into his lap.
"Good question buddy!" He said, standing then and racing from the room.
Rei ran past the hallway at top speed, darting towards the bedrooms as fast as his legs could carry him; but he stopped dead in his tracks when the words of a familiar voice entered his mind.
"I can't take it anymore! It hurts way too much and it's driving me nuts! ... I gotta go."
Rei's eyes widened and he let out a gasp. His hand flew to his mouth and he ducked behind a nearby wall to conceal himself and listen.
Seemingly not having heard him, Max and the two people he was talking to continued their conversation.
"Are you sure it's really that bad Max..?" Tyson asked a little uncertainly.
Rei peaked out from behind his wall and saw Kai's shoulders heave a heavy sigh.
"Yes Tyson." Their Captain said, speaking as if to a child. "It's obviously 'that bad.' I have to admit... even I'd go if it was me."
Tyson frowned deeply and sighed.
"Well.. OK, if you guys are sure." The blunette said sullenly. "But I gotta say Maxie... I'm sure gonna miss you..."
Max gave Tyson a sympathetic smile and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"I know Ty, but I'll be back eventually."
Tyson nodded but his frown didn't disappear.
Rei's eyes widened once again. He couldn't believe they were all so dismissive over this! Max was leaving, and Tyson and Kai weren't even trying to stop him!
"Max... NO! You can't go!"
Rei held his hands to his head and squeezed as if trying to drive the unpleasant reality out. He closed his eyes tightly and clenched his teeth, trying his hardest to will back his tears.
Max couldn't be leaving! He just couldn't! Rei had just realized the truth, realized his mistakes and what he'd said and done wrong. He let go of his head and threw it back against the wall, a few tears escaping and streaming down his face.
"Please Max! Don't leave me!"
Rei chewed his cheek and took a deep breath, then looked back around the corner at his teammates.
Max took a deep breath and starred down for a minute at what Rei assumed was his suitcase, not able to tell for sure because half of Kai's frame, whom was leaning, as usual, against the wall, was concealing it.
"Well... Here goes." Max said, attempting a smile. "See ya guys, and... I'm glad you understand."
Max turned around then and opened the front door, but before he could make another move, a pair of arms grabbed him, spun him around, and pulled them close to the body they belonged to. The blonde's eyes shot open in shock as he stood motionless in his captor's arms.
"R-Rei?" He stuttered, utterly stunned.
Rei buried his face in the younger boy's shoulder and let out a quiet sob.
"Don't go Max!" He choked out painfully. "Please! You can't go!"
Max's shock renewed itself.
"Uh.. huh?" He questioned, completely confused now. "Why not..?"
Rei sniffled but didn't release his hold on the blonde.
"Because... Because I need you..."
"I have to go Rei... I really have to go... Can't one of the others help you?"
Rei shook his head from its place on Max's shoulder and pulled him closer.
"No..." He whispered, his voice straining now to be heard. "No, they can't. I need you Max. Just you..."
Max looked absolutely lost now.
"Rei... what are you talking about?"
Rei swallowed hard and nuzzled the pale skin of Max's neck, making the blonde shiver lightly and bite his lip.
Rei bit his lip for a second, then sighed lightly.
"I love you too Max... I love you so much! And... and I don't want to lose you before I even get a chance to know what I'm missing! So please don't leave me!"
Max's eyes widened as big as saucers and his mouth dropped open. He pushed Rei away so he could look into his face, looking as if he was fighting with himself over something.
"What did you say?" He whispered a little harshly. Rei sniffled again as his eyes pooled threateningly.
"I... said I love you Max... I love you too... And, now that we both know this, you don't have to leave, I can fix your pain! I can make it go away! Please Max, just gimme a chance to prove how I feel and how sorry I am!"
Max blinked at Rei, his mouth still hung open. After a few moments, the blonde shook his head. He looked like he was ready to smile, but then his face suddenly lost all expression.
"Why do you keep asking me not to leave you?"
"I heard you say you're leaving... You said you couldn't take the pain so you were leaving... You're going to America or something right? Well now you don't have to!"
Max starred at Rei for a few moments, making the White Tiger very nervous.
"It didn't matter.." Rei thought miserably. "He's still leaving..."
Rei looked down and blinked back more tears. Max probably felt bad enough already, he didn't need Rei making things worse.
Just then, Rei's head snapped up and he starred at Max in shock. The blonde boy was laughing - hysterically. So much so that he was doubled over and holding his stomach.
"M-Max?" Rei stuttered in shock. At this, Tyson burst into laughter too, and even Kai chuckled a little.
Rei starred at his three friends dumbfounded. What was wrong with them? Was he the only one who didn't find Max's departure amusing?
Finally, after an eternity, Max straightened and wiped tears of laughter from his face and eyes. Still grinning, he looked back at Rei.
"Rei, you didn't hear me say I was leaving, you heard me say I had to go." He said pointedly. Rei blinked in incomprehension and Max continued. "I'm not leaving Rei, and I'm definitely not going back to America."
Rei blinked again.
Max's grin widened as he shook his head.
"No. Yesterday, when I was tweaking my beyblade, I twisted my wrist pretty bad. I tried to ignore it at first but it just got worse and I knew there was probably something wrong with it."
When Rei still didn't seem to understand, Max laughed again and continued once more.
"I was just going to see the doctor Rei... I'm not leaving."
Rei starred at Max without a blink this time.
"The... doctor..." He repeated to himself. After a few moments of pondering this, Rei shook his head.
"But... Tyson said he'd miss you? Why would he miss you if you were only going to the doctor?"
Tyson stepped up then.
"I said I'll miss him cause our favorite show is soon coming on. Max and I have never missed it and I've never watched it without him. It'll be the first time if he goes to the doctor, so... that's why I'll miss him."
Rei starred at Tyson for a long time, mouth slightly agape and eyes unblinking.
Eventually Kai smirked and slipped a hand into Tyson's.
"Come on Ty." He said, not bothering to hide the amusement on his face as he pulled his lover away. "We'll leave you two alone for a bit."
Rei starred at the spot where Kai and Tyson had just been in shock. Soon, a hand on his shoulder snapped him out of his trance and he turned back to see a smiling Max.
"You really thought I was leaving you?" He asked softly. His voice was lined with amusement, but Rei didn't miss the touched look on the younger boy's face. All he could do was nod and return a weak smile of his own.
Max stepped up to Rei, his smile widening.
"What happened?" He asked with the same soft tone, knowing Rei would understand what he meant this time.
Rei's smile widened a little too.
"Finally opened that email." He replied just as softly.
Max regarded Rei questioningly. It took him a minute, but he finally seemed to get it and a small blush spread across his cheeks, making Rei's smile broaden.
"Oh.. that email."
"Yea, that email."
Max's smile returned as he starred up at Rei, his eyes sparkling again with new life.
"Well, I'm glad you liked it." He whispered quietly. Rei smiled again.
"I loved it." He whispered back.
Rei leaned down into Max's face and Max swallowed, leaning up to meet him. He then reached for Max's hands and intertwined their fingers, but upon taking Max's right wrist, the blonde flinched and pulled away from him.
Rei frowned down at the younger boy.
Max looked down at his wrist.
"My wrist... I really gotta go Rei."
Rei looked down at Max's wrist when the blonde held it up and his frown deepened. The wrist was swollen and a little red and it looked very tender.
"You're right. You have to go."
Max smiled a little then.
"Wanna come with me? I'd like to have you there."
Rei smiled and slipped his hand into Max's uninjured one.
"Sure Maxie, I'll always be here if you need me."
Max's smile widened and he lead Rei outside and onto the front step. He stopped again and smiled as he looked around at the front yard, then up at the sky. The rain had completely stopped and tiny rays of sunlight were peeking through holes in the clouds.
"Looks like there's sunshine in the forecast." The blonde said with a happy grin. Rei smiled and took his hand from Max's, slipping them instead around the blonde's waist.
"There's always sunshine in the forecast when you're around Max."
The blonde's smile widened considerably as Rei pulled him closer and dipped his face down, pressing their lips together.
Max melted into the kiss and wrapped his arms around Rei's shoulders, letting out a content sigh as he kissed the older boy back happily.
"Finally!" The blonde thought, simply ecstatic. "Guess it was true what they say; good things really do take time."