Disclaimer: Don't own. Want.

A Long Walk

Rei started as the car came to a halt. He'd been happy drifting in his own world for the entire car trip, trying to ignore the mounting fear as they got closer and closer to their destination. He looked over at Kai, who had a carefully neutral face. The mask was broken as Kai's hand snaked around his to give it a squeeze, the clamminess of Kai's sweaty palm the only hint of his nervousness.

"Ready?" Kai asked, the smallest hint of a smile on his face as Rei squeezed his hand back before releasing it to struggle with his seat belt. His fingers had become stiff from being clenched too tightly in his lap the whole trip and they weren't obeying any of his commands

"No," Rei said definitely as he won his struggle and the seatbelt released with a shtk. "Can we put this off a little longer?" he asked, looking up at Kai with what he hoped was the perfect look of innocence, dread, and hope that would make Kai agree and let them leave.

Kai didn't bother to answer, reaching for the handle and opening up the car door. They'd been putting this visit off for too long already. It had been fun, at first, keeping their relationship a secret, dodging from opportunistic photographers and making up excuses to sneak away together (Kai's personal favourite from that era had been when he had convinced the team that he and Rei had had to go away for 'special training' for the upcoming World Championships. Best weekend he'd ever had). They'd eventually had to come out to their friends— even Tyson had his limits of gullibility— but they'd been avoiding this.

He took a deep breath of the too-well-remembered smell— the rotting leaf litter and fresh pine combined with the unmistakable mustiness of age and lost grandeur. Kai looked up at the grim facade of the Hiwatari Manor, recalling the way he'd always used to imagine a thunderclap whenever the name was mentioned when he was a child. Actually, it wouldn't have surprised him if the mansion had been used in a few horror movies back in the day. It wasn't hard to imagine Dracula or some other unspeakable monster of the night skulking around the cold hallways after a night of feasting on the innocent (Apparently the guilty and the morally indifferent weren't worth feasting on— Maybe they didn't taste as nice?). He shook his head and cleared his mind of the nightmares of his childhood. He didn't particularly want to face up to his grandfather with ghouls and demons on his mind.

Rei whistled lowly as he looked up at the building. "Did you grow up here?" he asked, craning his head back to take in the full effect of the imposing facade. He'd never been to the Hiwatari Manor. Kai had talked about it before but only in the vaguest of terms. It was surreal to see it here, both less and more frightening than he could ever have imagined.

Kai shook his head as he walked around the car. "No. I lived in a more... normal house most of the time. I only came here for a few weeks every year to visit." He wrinkled his nose as he reached Rei. "Grandfather doesn't even live here fulltime. It's mostly used to intimidate people."

"At least you know it works." Rei said, swallowing uncomfortably.

Kai smirked and wrapped his hand around Rei's again. "Old stone and scowling gargoyles? Is that really all it takes to scare you?" he teased. "Disappointing, Rei."

Rei made a face and detangled his hand from Kai's, conscious that they may not be unobserved. He was looking forward to not worrying about that anymore. "You lead the way then, oh Fearless One," he said mockingly,"I won't mention the way you squealed like a little girl when we were in Australia and that spider crawled on to the bed."

Kai made a face, "That spider was launching a ninja sneak attack. It was trying to assassinate us in our sleep." He paused for a few seconds, scowling at the memory. "Besides, I didn't know they came that big. It caught me by surprise— that's all"

Rei grinned "Or the time I found you cowering behind a vending machine at the train station after you'd been spotted by one too many fangirls."

"You only found me because you needed somewhere to cower too," Kai pointed out.

"Or the time—" Rei stopped when he looked over and saw Kai's expression. If Kai wasn't Kai he might have termed it a pout. But, things being as they were, Rei decided to go with disgruntled. Yes, Kai was disgruntled. "Feel better?" He asked with a grin. It was better that Kai be annoyed with him than have that carefully neutral face on. Rei had only seen that expression on Kai's face a handful of times and every one of them had ended unpleasantly for all involved, not least Kai himself.

Kai's lips quirked into a half smile. "Come on," he said, turning and walking up to the double doorway. He paused for a few seconds before putting one hand on each handle and throwing the doors wide open as he strode inside.

Rei couldn't help but roll his eyes. Most people would quietly let themselves in one door and be done with it. But not Kai; Kai had to do it in the showiest way possible. From the face paint to the scarf, Kai understood the impact of a good bit of showmanship and style. It was one of the things Rei both ridiculed him for and admired the most. He followed Kai through the doorway and into the entryway.

The sound of Kai's footsteps on the wooden floor echoed as he strode to the very centre of the entryway and paused. Rei restrained himself from sighing and hung uncomfortably just inside the doorway. Always the dramatics.

"Master Kai? It's been a long time." A butler materialised from the shadows to stand beside Kai, making Rei blink. Where had he come from?

"Hn." Kai regarded the butler cooly. He had no doubt that he and Rei had been watched from the moment they stepped out of the car. The interest the butler showed in Rei as he looked over at him confirmed Kai's suspicions and strengthened his resolve.

"And you brought a guest," the butler said, apparently unaware of the glare Kai was sending him. He turned back to Kai and met his glare with a cool, knowing look. "Will you be staying here long?"

"No," Kai answered curtly, turning to shoot Rei a look, trying to telepathically tell him to stop looking so goddamn guilty. "Where is my grandfather?"

"He's in his study. May I take your coats?" The butler accepted the coat Kai shrugged off and moved smoothly over to Rei. "May I take your coat Mr—"

"Rei," he said meekly. "Just call me Rei." He just wanted to disappear. Everything had seemed like such a good idea while they were discussing it. But now they were here and Rei couldn't get over both the enormity of the situation and the decision Kai was making. The coldness of the old that permeated the manor was slowly seeping into his bones and he shivered, wanting to escape, to be anywhere that wasn't there.

"Master Kai's teammate?" the butler asked, his voice the bland, uninterested tone of the powerfully curious.

"Keep those on hand. We won't be here long." Kai interrupted, indicating with his head for Rei to follow him before turning and walking quickly up the stairs. Rei followed him quickly, catching up with Kai at the landing.

"If you let the man's butler intimidate you we're pretty much screwed, you know that right?" Kai said lowly, turning and leading Rei down a connecting hallway.

"You didn't warn me it'd be like stepping into one of those haunted mansions like the ones I'm always yelling at coeds to stay out of." Rei hissed back, wiping his now sweaty palms on his pants. "I keep expecting the resident psychopath to jump out from around the corner with his chainsaw."

"The resident psychopath doesn't need to do that— he's quite happy sitting behind his desk with a scowl and a pen as his weapons." Kai said smoothly. "Now stop panicking. You're making me nervous"

Rei let out a short laugh, wincing when the sound echoed down the hallway. "You're doing a good job of hiding it then."

Kai shot him a look— one that spoke both of exasperation and disbelief, "I am." He turned and nodded towards the door at the end of the hallway. "That's it."

"Can we go now and congratulate ourselves on a job well-tried?" Rei asked, looking at the door and biting his lip. "This seemed like a good idea when we were psyching ourselves up in the hotel"

"Is that what we're calling it these days?" Kai asked archly. "Come on."

"Why are you so calm about this? It's your future we're talking about here," Rei said, reaching out to grab Kai's arm, unwilling to take another step towards the door. If they just turned around now they could pretend like none of this ever happened.

Kai's eye darted around the hallway, watching for observers, before he leaned in lightning-fast to place a peck on Rei's cheek. "It is." He agreed amicably. "And it's a future I'm looking forward to. Why are you so nervous?"

Rei sighed. "I just don't want you to wake up in five years time and regret everything you've lost." Rei looked up into Kai's eyes and ran a gentle hand down his face. "I don't want to be responsible for the biggest mistake of your life."

Kai let out a quiet chuckle. "You know me, Rei. What makes you think I'm doing all of this for you?"

Rei made a face, "You always know the best way to put things, don't you?"

Kai smirked. "My point is that I'm gaining a lot more than I stand to lose." He chose to ignore the way his voice shook on the last word. What he was telling Rei wasn't a lie— he had weighed up the advantages and disadvantages of coming here with more care than he had given anything in his life. He was aware that the decision he made today would feasibly affect the rest of his life. He'd made peace with that, confident that he was making the correct one. It was facing his grandfather that made him nervous.

But being nervous wouldn't help anyone. So he shot Rei a confident look accompanied with a knowing smirk, "come on now, the future awaits," He said grandly, as much for himself as for Rei. Keeping up appearances. Maybe then he would feel as self-assured as he acted.

He missed Rei involuntarily rolling his eyes as he turned to face the door.

Kai took a deep, calming breath before he placed his clammy hands on the doorknob and pushed the door open. In the next few minutes he would probably be disowned and disinherited. But he'd walk away free.

He glanced at Rei who had come to stand beside him, an expression of forced calm and resoluteness on his face. No matter what happened he was walking away with everything he needed.

Kai looked up to meet the steely cold gaze of the man sitting behind the desk. Despite Rei's presence, his attention was fixed firmly on Kai, and Kai had no doubt that everything from his expression to his clothes was being analysed and judged.

"Hello, Grandfather."

I've been feeling a bit uninspired lately and wanted to write a KaiRei to brighten my mood. Sadly, it seems that I suck and have trouble writing without a challenge behind it. So I decided to write a story where they literally walk down a hallway and... that's about it (Okay, so they walk from the car, to the entryway and then down a hallway. The spirit of the challenge still remains). And I managed to get almost 2000 words out of it without slipping too much into purple prose which... yay? I guess?

Though I'm interested if it actually kept your attention. It's totally okay if it didn't, mind you. I'm well aware that not much of interest happens. I'd just really like to know.

I'm also considering writing a short humour fic about Kai squealing at the spider because everything about that mental image makes me cackle. Thoughts?

Please tell me what you think.