Hilary walked into the BBA building and began to weave her way through the hordes of teams that dotted the lobby floor. She squeezed between the Blitzkrieg Boys and the PPB Allstars to arrive at the front desk.

"How can I help you?" The woman behind the desk questioned.

"Hi, I'm Hilary Tachibana, manager of the Bladebreakers. I'm here to check them in," She said as she handed the women a form from her bag. The woman took the form and examined it before handing Hilary a schedule.

"Welcome to the sixth annual BBA tournament." Hilary smiled and took the papers.

"Thank you."

"Hil!" Hilary turned around, her dark curls fanning around her head. She smiled when she saw who had called her name.

"Mariah!" She exclaimed when said girl embraced her. "How are you?"

"I'm great!" The pink-haired girl responded. "It's been too damn long!"

Hilary started to agree, but was suddenly shoved by a girl with long blue hair.

"Um, excuse you," Mariah said to the girl. The girl turned her head and shot the pair a glare before stalking off.

"Wasn't that Miriam from the Saint Shields?" Hilary questioned. "What's her problem?" She turned back to Mariah. Her face was guilty. "What is it?" The brunette questioned.

"I'm guessing you haven't heard the most recent rumor floating around…" She started. Hilary shook her head. What is Mariah talking about? "There's been some talk about your relationship with the rest of the guys…"

"…My relationship?" Hilary questioned.

"Yeah, there's been some talk that you're more than just a friend to them," The pink-haired girl said as delicately as possible. Hilary raised an eyebrow.

"There's more. You're just not telling me," Hilary said, reading her good friend's expression.

"Well…I guess they've been saying that you're sleeping with them."

"Them?" Hilary exclaimed. "As in more than one?" Mariah nodded solemnly. Hilary frowned deeply.

"Who would start rumors like that about me?" She questioned.

"I dunno," Mariah admitted. "But Miriam must've heard. You know she's always had a thing for Max." Hilary sighed. Like things weren't rocky enough between her and the other girls of the beyblading teams.

"Hey, I have to check in right now, but do you maybe want to grab a bite to eat later?"

"Sounds great," Hilary responded dully.

"Don't let these rumors get you down Hil," Mariah said. "I'm sure they'll blow over."

"Yeah, you're probably right," The brunette said with a small smile. "See you later."

"See you!" Hilary began to make her way towards the doors that led to the lower levels of the stadium where the locker rooms were located, her mood somewhat deflated. She showed her I.D. badge that identified her as manager to the Bladebreakers to the man guarding the doors before making her way inside. Who would start a rumor like this about me? She mused as she made her way through the halls to the Bladebreaker's locker room. Probably one of those damn entertainment shows… Having been with the team for more than a few years now, Hilary had had her share of the spotlight and had become something of a small celebrity herself.

She let herself into the locker room. Kenny was typing away furiously on Dizzy, Max was just finishing buttoning his shirt, and Rei was sitting on one of the benches, fiddling with Drigger.

"Hey Hil. How'd it go?" Rei questioned, not looking up from his blade.

"Okay. You guys are all checked in," She said. She noticed Hiro leaning against one of the lockers and handed him the papers the woman had given her.

"Where're Tyson and Kai?"

"Tyson went to go check out the buffet. I don't know about Kai," Max responded.

What else is new? Hilary thought to herself.

"The opening ceremonies start in half an hour," Hiro said, not taking his eyes away from the schedule. "You guys better finish getting dressed."

"Damn," Hilary suddenly cursed.

"What?"

"I forgot my dress at the dojo. I'm gonna have to run home and get it." The dojo had become not only a home for the boys, but Hilary as well. Grandpa was off on another one of his self-discovery trips, but trusted the team well enough to let them stay.

"Do you want one of us to come with you?" Max questioned.

"No, it's fine," She said as she turned on her heel to run out the door. "I'll just meet you guys there."

XXX

Hilary rushed back into the now deserted BBA lobby. She came to the doors of the ballroom where the ceremonies were being held and straightened her dress before attempting to walk inside.

"Excuse me miss. This is an exclusive event," A man in a dark suit said as he blocked her entry. Hilary sighed and opened her purse to pull out her I.D. She pushed her lip gloss and wallet aside, but the card was nowhere to be found.

"You've got to be kidding," She mumbled to herself.

"No pass, no entry," The man said as he crossed his arms.

"I left my I.D. in the locker room," She argued with the man.

"I'm sure you did," He said mockingly. Hilary felt her face get red. She opened her mouth to retort when a voice behind her interceded.

"Hilary?" She turned to meet the eyes of a silver-haired beyblader.

"Oh. Hi Garland," She said to him.

"What's wrong?" He questioned.

"I forgot my badge in the locker room," She admitted. He smiled.

"She's with me," He said to the security guard. The guard nodded and let the pair pass. She resisted the urge to stick her tongue out at him.

"Thank you," Hilary said graciously once they were inside the room where Mr. Dickinson was already speaking on stage.

"Anytime," He said, his gray eyes twinkling.

"Well…I'd better find my team," Hilary said as she scanned the crowd. "See you later." He nodded before she disappeared into the crowd, searching for her lost teammates.

Hilary walked through the groups of people, hoping to find at least one of her missing friends. Finally, she caught sight of Rei, leaning against the wall furthest from where she stood.

"Hey," She whispered when she came up beside him. Kai was leaning against the wall beside him, his eyes on the stage. He was looking especially elegant in a black tux and for once was without the blue triangles on his cheeks. Hilary blushed lightly.

"Hey," The nekojin responded. He took in her appearance. "You look nice."

"Thanks," She said with a smile. For the occasion, Hilary had purchased a red silk halter dress that ended at her mid-calf. It was classy and stylish.

Rei's eyes trailed over her shoulder. Hilary followed his gaze to see a group of male bladers in a small group, staring directly at her and speaking in hushed tones. Hilary shivered when she saw the leering looks on their faces. Rei took her by the arm and placed her against the wall between him and Kai before sending a cold look in their direction.

"Don't worry about it," He whispered. Hilary frowned. It seemed like she was being told that a lot today.

"Rei's right," Kai said, speaking for the first time. "Just ignore them." Hilary glanced at him, before nodding.