A punch.

Kaido took it, catching the wrist then and swinging his fist around for his own punch. Unfortunately, he was only one person against four, and a hit to the back of the head caught him by surprise. Releasing the wrist, he spun to hit his second attacker and got put into a tight headlock –he was wide open. Blows rained down hard, punishing his stomach that was already hard muscle, and taking a few swings at his face. He couldn't move if he wanted to, so Kaido stilled and let the bullies take their course. 'Just take it, Kaoru…' He told himself, 'then they'll go away…'

After a while, the older boys grew tired of beating on an unresponsive victim and left. Kaido waited until they were gone before he sat up and groaned. His body burned, so he leaned against the alley wall and sighed.

He slept off the pain there.


Hours later,Kaido woke up in a pitch-black alley with a dark figure approaching him. He hissed in alarm, rising to his feet, and saw the figure pause at his appearance.

'Back for more?' Kaido thought dismally, squaring his jaw. 'No way!' He turned on his heel, feeling his ankle throb, and pounded off down the pavement. It called for him but he refused to stop and become a victim for the second time. He pushed his body hard, finding that even a jog made him hurt all over, and slowed to a weary stumble.

Hands met his back lightly and Kaido spun, delivering a punch that connected roughly with his attacker's face. 'No! I don't want to get hit again!' The other teen grunted, didn't retaliate, and Kaido went for another hit.

"Kaido," said his victim quietly and he froze in horror before he could follow through his punch.

"Momoshiro…" he breathed, suddenly feeling his eyes fill with tears. Hissing, Kaido pulled back in fear of the tears being discovered and turned his back on his rival. "What the hell do you want?" 'Help me.'

"Are you okay?" Momo deflected the question with one of his own and reached for the grouchy boy's shoulder again. "They didn't hurt you bad, did they?" Kaido felt his pride sting as his rival suggesting they had beaten him.

"Shut the hell up." He hissed venomously, swatting the hand away. "Don't touch me, dammit!"

"Kaido!" Momo grabbed the boy, holding him in arm's reach, and they locked eyes. However calm Kaido had made himself, the worried look in Momo's eyes brought his tears back a little and ruined his mask. "Kaido?" Shaking away from his rival, who let him go, Kaido looked away and hunched his unbruised shoulder.

"I'm fine," He grunted, "what are you doing here? How did you find me?" Glancing at Momo, Kaido saw him hold up his hand and wave the cloth in it wordlessly; he had Kaido's bandana, which also had a big patch of blood from his split lip.

"I found it outside the school gate and thought you'd need a backup."

Kaido narrowed his eyes: "How did you find me, Momoshiro?" 'Why are you here?' He watched Momo look around nervously, shuffling his feet and shifting his weight from one foot to the other without saying anything. "Tell me!" 'Please don't lie!'

"I just kept looking." Momo admitted grudgingly, and Kaido hissed.

"You 'just kept looking'?" Kaido repeated, scowling, "What is that supposed to mean, idiot?" 'Why do you care? Stop it!'

Momo sighed, "I looked all day and all night until I found you." Kaido stiffened, shocked by his rival's answer, and backed up. Momo saw it and followed him, "Kaido, I'm-"

"Stay away from me," Kaido snarled, fisting his hands. "I know what you're trying to pull! You just wanna mess with me, don't you? Screw with me 'cause I got beat! Well, piss off! I don't need any shit from you!" The snake-like teen stood straight, trying to look imposing, but his body protested and he groaned aloud. 'I don't want to hurt anymore!' Squatting, Kaido clutched his ribs and hissed a breath between clenched teeth; he would bet any money that they were bruised bad.

"Need a hand?" Momo was at his side, kneeling to help him, and Kaido pushed him onto his back.

"I told you I don't need you!" Kaido sneered, heart racing. 'Help me, please!' "Why can't you just get the message?" 'Don't leave me by myself!' Sitting up, Momo rubbed his head and came back to his side, only to receive a harder shove and harsher words.

"WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?" 'Why are you caring about me?'

"DO YOU HAVE A DEATHWISH?" 'Do you know how much it hurts?'

"ARE YOU STUPID?" 'You're so nice to me…' "WHY! ARE! YOU! HERE!" 'Are you going to hurt me?'

"Because you're telling me to get away," Momo murmured, putting a hand on his bicep and looking him in the eyes sadly. "but you're eyes are screaming for me not to leave you by yourself." The two boys knelt there in the darkness for a while until Kaido bent his head to hide his teary eyes from the other boy.

"Kaido," Momo said quietly, "you know I'm here for you, right? I'll… I'll back you up; we're teammates."

"So?" Kaido spat, rubbing his face.

"So… we may not be pals, but I'm not going to make you take those jerks by yourself." Momo bent his head, trying to catch Kaido's eye. "You don't have to do it alone… no one said you have to take it."

"So?" Kaido didn't look at Momo, and the purple-eyed teen sighed. Putting an arm over Kaido's shoulders, Momo pulled the stiffening teen to his side and rested their heads together.

"So, I'm here for you." He said thickly, "I'm not gonna leave you alone…"