A first day wrap-up!

Chapter 9: End of First Day

As the sun begins to set, everyone has been walking all across parts of China and after a little face-off with the croc bandits, everyone really got used to Max being the youngest leader of this mission after finishing them off with his ways of handling major situations his own way. Kaizer completely saw a different person in Max that afternoon and he was starting to become very impressed with his performance on the first day and how he handles himself amongst every situation, mostly the drama between him and Tigress' jealousy.

Takami became the most amazed by how impressive Max is a rookie leader and the cub's skills looked as if he's been doing it his whole life and he's really looking forward to see what else he could do in the next day. As Max saw the sun go down, he figured that this would be a good idea to set up camp and Takami asked, "So...how much further?"

"We've been walking for a long time...so we're like 20 miles away now." Max replied, looking at the map.

Takami lets out a big sigh and he said, "That's a long way around."

"Very long. We'll continue on in the morning, so for now...it's best that we should set camp tonight." Max added.

Takami nodded in agreement and he said to the others, "All right, you heard the kid. We'll camp here for the night and set off in the morning."

Everyone began pitching their tents and set up everything for the night before they can continue making their way to where Arizona and Sierra are held off at and around the same time, Phoenix and Logan helped pitch a tent to sleep in where it'll be them and Max together in one tent and after they were through, Phoenix and Takami helped start up a fire, to which Takami gladly obliged to start off the fire, surprising Phoenix.

"Dude...I could definitely rely on you for fire." Phoenix said, blown away.

"Well, don't get too used to it." Takami added.

Soon after, Phoenix brought in a small pot of noodles and dumplings that he placed in under the fire to re-cook them for dinner and Kaizer sat down on the ground and he looked up at Phoenix and said, "What a day."

"Yeah, you're telling me. But...it's all good though." Phoenix replied.

Kaizer looked to Phoenix as he also sat down on the log and he asked, "Phoenix, right?"

"Yep, that's my name. My original name's Raizo Phoenix Bushido-Akio, but for some reason, my dad likes the name Phoenix because he thinks of it as like rising above from obstacles or challenges." Phoenix replied.

Kaizer nods his head in understanding with how a name like that could mean rising above and he asked, "Is Max one of those?"

"A phoenix? The kid's really strong. You know, you talk a bout a kid who lived a very rough and horrific life when he was a smaller cub with two birth parents taking advantage of you and being abandoned by them, you expect them to be so distant, angry, shameful and guilty because of something so terrible happened. It may be true with Max, but my dad always has his ways of seeing a true potential in him and that he is something. It took him a few months for him to get over that and once he saw what we're all about when he was slmost seven, he really started to turn around. Everything my dad does, Max emulates. He's like a normal kid and he's been easy-going, full of energy, intelligent and if you teach him anything, he gets it so quickly." Phoenix explained.

Kaizer widened his eyes to that and he didn't know Max was like that when he get used to being in that family and it almost made him feel like he wanted to be the same way he is; not letting the past define him and he asked, "About Max...does he still feel sad and angry after what his birth parents did to him?"

"Of all the kids my dad has fostered, most kids have suffered a lot and always feel like they'll never be good enough for anything when they get older...but not Max. He got over it and he always looks at the brighter side of everything. I think Arizona gave him that little nudge that he can do anything he sets his mind to. But he doesn't really let anything like this get to his head. He's still a good kid and he just inspires us to be a better person and shines a light to everyone of us...even you." Phoenix stated.

That part Kaizer got really touched by and he just felt this overwhelming feeling inside of him like he's really amazed with what Max has gone through and how he became so friendly and easy-going after going through a dark time in his life. Phoenix checked on the food to see if it's ready and soon after, Takami sat down on the log next to Kaizer and he said, "I sorta overheard everything you guys said about Max. Is it all true?"

"I'm still trying to figure out if it's for real or not." Kaizer replied, hiding the real answer to Takami.

"It's all true. Max can surprise you." Phoenix responded.

Later on, everyone gathered around to eat some noodles and Max sat between Takami and Layla as they gorged down some noodles and he also witnessed Ryo's eating habits as he chowed down an entire bowl of noodles and all of them responded with a little weirded out look as he ate them so quickly, gets another bowlful and gobbles it down like it's the last dinner.

"Ryo...chill, man. There's plenty enough for everyone." Phoenix stated, trying to calm Ryo's eating patterns down.

Takami sighed amusedly at Ryos' eating and he said, "Phoenix...any way you say it, Ryo has a very unlimited stomach. He can't stop eating even if his life depended on it."

"I bet he'll reach the Dragon Warrior's weight soon." Logan added.

Ryo takes a deep gulp and a big burp after eating and he said, "You guys sound ridiculous. Besides, it's been a long day. A wolf's gotta eat."

"I just hope he doesn't eat them all in one sitting. We've only got enough to last this entire trip." Phoenix said.

Layla looks at Max while he's eating and she lets out a smile and said to him, "Maxie...for a first timer, you really know your skills when it comes to being a leader."

"Yeah, you did pretty good for your first day." Takami replied.

"Thanks. I didn't think I'd expect that to happen." Max said, a little bashful.

Tigress scoffed at this and she muttered, "Obviously not."

Hope couldn't agree more and the brown bear said, "Most kids would never get the chance to do something big without a second thought. You're really something special, little guy."

"Aw, stop." Max said, chuckling.

"Nah, Hope's right. If anything, we definitely believe you got what it takes to be a leader." Faith said, happily.

Takami then said, "He's still got a lot to learn though, but I do believe that he's gonna be awesome through the whole trip."

Phoenix couldn't agree more with that and he was very happy for his little tiger brother and said, "I'm proud of you, Maxim."

"Yeah, I gotta admit...the kid's amazing." K.C. added.

As everyone starts commending Max for his first time as a leader, the tiger cub felt completely humbled by this and he knows that it wouldn't change who he is and he said, "Aw, you guys...I really appreciate being given the chance to do so, but I'm still the same kid."

"The same kid who always pranks me every morning back at home with a fake hand gag." Logan added.

"And you always fall for it everytime." Max said, snickering.

Then, Takami looks at Max and tells him, "Listen...I'm sorry about my master taking out her rage on you for no reason. I'll make sure that it'll never happen again."

Takami spent the last sentence glaring at him and that rubbed Tigress the wrong way as she lets out a snarl directed at both tigers, specifically Max for that and she said, "My own student calls me out...and I'm supposed to deal with this kid being a leader? I'll bet it was just sheer luck that he got us through those crocs."

"Do we have to do this now?" asked Faith, exasperatedly.

"I'm with Faith on this one." Hope said, quickly.

Tigress then used her dangerous glares at Hope, in which the bear shuddered in fear and said, "You stay out of this!"

"Hey, hey, hey, hey! Can we all like sit down, take a deep breath and count to ten before someone gets hurt, please?" Max said, in the calmest way possible.

"YOU SHUT UP!" Tigress screamed.

"You're not supposed to say 'shut up'." Max said.

Tigress completely felt angered by the fact that Max just told her that she's not supposed to say 'shut up' to him and she said, "I will not let you rule over all of us! You're going to regret standing up to me."

Suddenly, Kaizer throws his katana sword to the ground where Tigress was nearly standing and he said, "Put a lid on it! Do us all a favor and leave Max alone before one of us will do something that we might regret later."

Tigress looked really alarmed and shocked that Kaizer...of all people...would also defend Max and Ryo echoed in on the same response and said, "Yeah, this kid's doing great. Why you gotta mess it up for him?"

"Again, I'm sorry, Max." Takami added.

"Eh, it's okay. She doesn't bother me one bit...not yet, anyway. I was kinda expecting it and I sorta knew it was coming, so I might as well prepare for it." Max admitted.

"Wait...you were expecting it?" asked Faith.

Max nodded his head and replied, "You know the old saying, 'wish for the best and plan for the worst'? Whatever she says doesn't really matter because none of it is true."

Logan chuckled at this and it's like Max didn't really care about any outbursts Tigress puts in on him and he said, "Maxie...okay, I'm convinced. You do have what it takes being a leader after all."

Tigress just walked away in a huff after everything she said to Max brushed it off like it's nothing, but unaware that Max is a little bit nervous about this and asked, "Was it something I said?"

"Nah, it's nothing. Just give it some time. She'll come around...hopefully when she doesn't claw you in the face." Kiba stated.

"AKIBA!" every shouted.

"What'd I say?" Kiba whined.

That was interesting. Next up...a little Takami/Layla moment just for Spiritual LoneWolfXIII!