Chaos Notes: This is a Chaos Realm Request Line fic for ffx2player, who has been graciously and patiently waiting for…far too long, now. -_-U Here it finally is! Happy Reading, and thank you for participating! Criteria: TyKa, arbitrary other pairings; V-Force based; genre of general/romance; appearances by the Saint Shields and Zeo.
Warnings: Contains varying amounts of adult language, sap, angst, fluff, and shonen ai; do not read if this is offensive or you are underage. Rating: K+ (PG).
Disclaimer: Kali & muses do not own Beyblade or its characters. We just borrowed them for the sake of this fanfiction, and the only profit we get is personal enjoyment.
Pairing(s): TyKa; minor Max/Miriam, Rei/Mariah
Summary: Takao is growing up and must learn to overcome his fear of being alone. Kai provides a dose of reality.
Dedication: for ffx2player; thanks for being a fan!
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Takao would pull another miracle win out of the most impossible odds against him. But it did. They’d all been hopeful – it was a weak hope, but still…hope. The likelihood of defeating Zeo in the final match was enough to make even Kai want to give up and go home. In fact, he almost had. If Hilary hadn’t been as persistent and, hell, brave as she’d been to come looking for him and basically rip him a new one for even contemplating ditching his team at such a desperate time, he probably would have walked away forever and never been the same again.
Thankfully, it didn’t turn out that way at all. Therefore, Takao didn’t dwell on the ‘what ifs,’ since they served no purpose other than to give him a headache. Yet for all the relief he felt getting Kai’s beloved Dranzer and Max’s Draciel back, and Zeo losing but learning a valuable life lesson (courtesy of Takao) despite being a robot (and was his life always going to be some weird mix of fantasy and science fiction?), there was still this vague, niggling feeling of loss. It confused the hell out of Takao, because he just didn’t understand where it was coming from.
And he absolutely hated to lose.
So here he was, on the far side of the dojo surrounded by bladers from other teams, all wanting to talk to him and congratulate him, to spend time with him in a setting where they could be friends and not rivals over a beydish. Such opportunities were so rare, what with most of them being from different countries all over the world and the only times they were ever all in one place being at tournaments. The dojo was really quite crowded, what with every team that had participated this round of World Championship matches present, and all wanting a piece of the repeat Champ himself. Even the Saint Shields and Zeo had come. Takao had been soaking up the attention and praise like a sponge, thoroughly basking in it like a cat in a sunbeam. On the outside, that is. On the inside, he was stewing over the unsettling feeling that he’d lost something, big time. It was really getting harder and harder to maintain his cool and happy-go-lucky exterior.
Finally, the crowd around him thinned out a little as his friends began to mix and mingle a bit more with each other and leave him to breathe. Speaking of, he found he could really use some fresh air and stepped outside to the side of the Kinomiya residence, going over to Gramps’ koi pond and watching the golden orange fishes swim lazily about their clear waters. Sitting down on the side, he sighed deeply and stuck a finger in the water, swirling it around gently but without conscious thought as he contemplated his problem. Inside, the party was in full-swing, the music blaring with laughter, dancing, and singing its accompaniment.
Takao just tuned it out.
Ozuma’s voice broke through his reverie, and he turned slightly to look up at the powerful leader of the Saint Shields questioningly. “Hey, Ozuma. What’cha doing out here?”
The redhead looked over his shoulder toward the noisy dojo, shrugging and making a face. “I’m not really one for dancing. I saw you come out here and decided it was a better option if I wanted some peace and quiet.”
Takao laughed. That wasn’t usually something he was accused of. Sobering, he gestured at the rock wall of the pond. “Pull up a seat, then.” He offered, patently unable to be inhospitable to a guest, even in his darker mood. Besides, Ozuma wasn’t one of the friends he would ever think of as ‘noisy.’ He sort of reminded Takao of Kai, all silent strength and stoic reserve. It was soothing rather than stimulating, something that Takao was reluctant to admit he sometimes needed in his life more often than not.
Ozuma obligingly sat down, bringing a leg up to hug a knee, balancing himself on the wall comfortably. They both looked toward the dojo as the noise rose briefly in volume then fell again. “At least everyone is able to blow off some steam and enjoy themselves again. The sport is supposed to be about fun and competition, and there was so little of that the last few months.”
Takao nodded, kicking at a pebble on the ground absently. “Yeah. It’s a relief.” He glanced at Ozuma out of the corner of his eye. “Are you satisfied with us, now? Have we proven to you that we’re worthy of our sacred spirits?”
Surprised, Ozuma turned to face him fully. “Of course! Would you still have them if I didn’t believe it?” He frowned at Takao’s uncertain expression, and shook his head at himself. “I’m sorry, Takao. Perhaps we were a little…harsh, even with good reason. We wished only to push you toward your true potential, and to make sure that the Sacred Four weren’t being misused. I apologize, if it seems to have worn away your confidence. That is the last thing we wanted.”
Sighing, Takao waved a hand in the air and shook his head emphatically, reaching up to pull of his hat. “No, no…it’s alright. I understand where you guys were coming from and all. I don’t know what’s wrong with me right now, Ozuma. Ignore me.” He slapped the hat against his leg irritably.
“Something is bothering you? I would think you’d be the most excited and happy right now.”
“Ha! You’d think! I don’t know…I am happy I won, and it’s over, and everyone’s bit-beasts are back where they belong, but something doesn’t feel right. I feel like…I’ve lost something. I can’t explain it.” Takao huffed in annoyance at himself, scowling up at the twilight sky.
Ozuma was silent for a moment, then tried slowly, “Is it something from Dragoon? Does he feel…unsettled?”
Takao blinked, gave that idea due consideration (his hand stealing into his pocket where Dragoon’s blade was a comforting weight), and finally shook his head in the negative. “No, he’s fine. Tired, but quite content, all things considered.”
“Ah.” The other blader tilted his head thoughtfully. “Then you know it’s not something that is wrong with the Spirits. He would let you know, if there was something.”
“I guess so. We’re all still learning about them, after all.” Takao’s mouth quirked slightly in a half-smile. “As I imagine the Spirits are learning about us.”
Ozuma grinned. “True. It is the beginning of relationship that will be, no doubt, extremely interesting. Flash Leopard and I have been together so long, I forget how new others are to each other.”
The bluenette had to grin, too, at that. He almost envied the other teen’s relationship with his bit-beast, but Dragoon was the best there was and Takao was honoured that he was being given the opportunity to get to know the dragon spirit now. He was sad that he hadn’t fully understood what Dragoon and the others truly were until now. It felt like they had, indeed, been misusing the Spirits that had chosen them.
“Perhaps you are just tired, Takao. You’ve had a long, hard few months, after all.” Ozuma looked back toward the dojo. “Everyone will clear out soon enough, and you’ll be able to return to the normal.”
Oddly, that wasn’t the comforting idea Ozuma meant it to be. Takao had to fight not to curl into himself, physically recoiling against the loneliness that washed over him at the thought of everyone leaving. And the light bulb suddenly went off.
“Ah. Well, I hope this isn’t the last we’ll see of you and Miriam, Joseph, and Dunga.” He watched from their distant seats as Max was shoved forward by Rei and Mariah toward where Miriam was standing with Joseph, Emily and Michael of the All-Starz, and Kane and Jim of the Psykicks. Takao quirked an eyebrow as the blonde blushed bright red and walked over, shooting heated glares back over his shoulder at the teasing – but encouraging – calls from Rei and his feisty girlfriend. Shaking his head in amusement, he watched Max touch Miriam’s arm to gain her attention, then say something before leading her out into the space that had become the ‘dance floor’ in the dojo’s main practice room. “I’m thinking Max would be particularly disappointed if he never saw Miriam again.” He mused, chuckling.
Ozuma’s expression was torn between amusement of his own and consternation. “Well, I doubt this will be the last time we meet, Kinomiya Takao, but probably not as often as we’d wish. Our tribe is isolated for a reason, after all.”
Takao nodded. It still hurt to know that everyone was going to go away. Was it always going to be like this? He would gain new friends, people he admired and wanted to spend as much time as possible with, only to have to watch them walk away from him again after too short a time? He wasn’t sure if this part of growing up was something he could deal with. And at fifteen years old – another birthday having passed by almost unnoticed – the future seemed a long, long way away.
At that moment, a shadowy figure slipped out the side door and paused, looking in their direction for a moment before slowly making its way over. When the light shifted, Takao sat up a little straighter in recognition and greeted the figure warmly, “Kai!”
“Kinomiya.” Kai acknowledged him, but his eyes were on Ozuma and they were suspicious and wary. He came to a stop near Takao, folding his arms over his chest imperiously and staring down at Ozuma with a distinctly unfriendly vibe. “Ozuma.”
“Kai.” Ozuma smirked, unfazed and entirely too amused by the proprietary way Kai was standing over Takao, slightly between the two seated bladers. He wondered if Kai knew why he was so possessive and even protective of the younger teen, but figured it wasn’t for him to explain to Dranzer’s chosen that he was already falling for Takao. Hard. Even at such a young age, the first steps were laid out for him in that direction – a knowledge that came from Ozuma’s worldly wisdom thanks to his tribe’s training and teachings, despite being of a comparable age as the other two bladers.
Sometimes it was a pain in the ass to be the next in line for leadership.
“Got tired of the party, too?” Takao asked, either not noticing the alpha-male stand-off going on under his nose or else decidedly ignoring it. He was looking only at Kai, though, which told Ozuma that Takao’s path coincided with Kai’s perfectly. He almost burst out laughing at the sheer karma of it, but managed to hold back – although his smirk grew just a little bit wider. Kai’s stare deepened and turned heated in response.
“Takao, I’m going to go back inside, make sure Dunga isn’t picking any fights with anyone.” Ozuma stood up, turning away from Kai and looking down at the bluenette with a strange fondness he wasn’t quite sure he knew the source of. More seriously, he said, “Don’t let whatever is bothering you take away from the day for you. You deserve the joy of your accomplishments.” He gave Takao a reassuring pat on the shoulder before leaving, ignoring the tiny growl from Kai.
“I’ll try.” Takao promised, watching him walk back to the dojo. He sighed a little, then blinked when Kai dropped down onto the wall next to him, taking over Ozuma’s spot and watching him with an expression that looked eerily like a dragon overlooking his hoard of treasure. It was a little unsettling – and entirely too thrilling. Takao grinned cheekily at him, unable not to tease. “Could you be any more obvious? Jealous much?”
“Shut up, Kinomiya.” A hint of red stained Kai’s pale cheeks under the blue face paint. “I don’t trust him.”
“No, really.” Takao intoned sarcastically, nudging Kai’s leg. “That wasn’t what I meant, either, and you know it.”
Kai sighed, shooting him a glare. “He was a little too cozy with you for my comfort, that’s all.” His crimson eyes were burning into Takao’s stormy blue ones, even in the twilight. “And not just because of Dragoon.”
Takao rolled his eyes. “He’s a friend now, Kai, and I highly doubt he’s developing a crush on me. It’s not like he’s one of those rabid fans who scream a lot and chase us all over town.”
“Obsession comes in many forms.” Kai muttered darkly, looking away. “I’m not going to argue about it.”
“Fine! I don’t want to argue anyway!” Takao threw his hands up in exasperation, scowling again. Kai gave him a strange, unreadable look.
“What did he mean by ‘whatever is bothering you,’ anyway?”
Shifting uncomfortably, it was Takao’s turn to look away. “Nothing. I’m just being stupid. Nothing new there…”
Kai snorted. “It’s something if it’s bothering you, and since when has that stopped you from telling me anything? Whether I wanted to hear it or not?”
“I don’t want everyone to leave.” Takao blurted out, plaintively. “Now that all the dark and dangerous stuff is over with, they’re all going to go away and we’re not going to have any time to get back to enjoying ourselves and blading like we’re meant to! I don’t get to keep anybody, Kai! They all go away…” he trailed off to a whisper, “…especially you…”
Kai sat in stunned silence for a moment, then stood up, held out a hand, and said, “Come with me, Kinomiya.”
Takao raised his head, tears in his eyes that had yet to fall, and stared at Kai’s hand in surprise. He didn’t even stop to consider anything, reaching out to grasp it and letting Kai pull him up and lead him away. He even left his hat sitting on the wall of the koi pond.
They left the dojo, Kai only dropping his hand when he was certain Takao was going to follow him without resisting, and walked for a while in silence. Takao trotted along beside Kai, keeping up with the slightly taller teen’s longer strides easily. Curiosity was overshadowing his melancholy, but he hesitated to break the quiet sense of companionship between them by asking questions.
Finally, they turned onto the path that ran alongside the river. It was a familiar place, full of memories for them both, and Takao unconsciously slowed down as he looked around and took in all the well-known scenery. “Kai?” he questioned softly when the older teen came to a halt at the bottom of the embankment, near the bridge. They’d once battled here, the two of them, only a short two years ago. It was a fateful first battle, brought on in response to Takao’s innate sense of chivalry when he fought Kai for the blades of his friends that Kai’s former gang had basically stolen in unfair battles. Takao had been reckless with that first challenge, not understanding what he was getting himself into then, but the defeat he suffered only served to make him more determined, and in the rematch, he’d done what no one else had ever done – he defeated Hiwatari Kai in a fair beybattle.
Now here they were, friends, teammates, and…whatever it was that was building between them. Takao understood what it was, knew Kai did, too, but he was pretty sure neither of them were ready for it and neither of them were prepared to admit just how deep the river ran. It was scary, being so connected to someone else like this, but at the same time, Takao was positive he couldn’t – wouldn’t – give it up for all the tea in China. There weren’t many people in his life who knew him as well as Kai did – his team being the few who did. They knew that all his apparent self-confidence and ego were real, but only to a point. It all hid the deep well of uncertainty, insecurity, and a need to please others that Takao worked very hard not to show.
Kai looked around, then nodded almost to himself in satisfaction. They were totally alone here, which was the point. He hadn’t wanted everyone else to be present when he said what he had to say – it was embarrassing enough as it was.
“You remember this place, what happened here?” He asked, continuing only when Takao nodded. “I’m betting you remember every single detail. Probably more than I do.” Well, that might be stretching things. Kai was pretty certain he had a damn good picture of that day, too. “I’m also betting you remember every detail of every battle you’ve ever fought. You gather moments in your head like a photo album, Kinomiya, and you recall them just as easily as pulling the album off the shelf and flipping through the pages. Yet for all the memories, you still seem to think you’re losing us? Me?”
Takao frowned, crossing his arms defensively. “Well I am! The only ones who stay are Max and Kenny – and now Hilary will be following us around all the time, too.” He made a face. “I doubt Max will stick around this time, though, not now that he’s on good terms with his mom and the All-Starz. Learning what we have about our bit-beasts has sparked a curiosity in him that will take him back to America to research with his mom. I just know it.”
“Kenny?” Kai demanded, prodding him into getting it all out so he could proceed to put Takao’s fears at ease. “Rei?”
“Kenny will be here, yes. And I’m very grateful and glad for that.” Takao had to admit. “He’s the first friend I ever had. I mean, real friend, not just people who I hang around with at school and occasionally beybattle. But he’s so smart that in a couple years, he’ll leave me behind, too and go on to college or whatever, and then what?” Takao began to pace. “As for Rei, well, you know perfectly well he’ll go home to the White Tigers. I never really expected him to stay, not when he’s got so many ties to them.”
Takao glared at him, still pacing. “They’re spread out all over the planet, Kai! How am I supposed to spend time with them when they’re scattered to the winds?”
That stopped Takao in his tracks, and he whirled, angry and desperate. “You always leave! No matter how much I beg you to stay, you just…leave.”
Kai reached for Takao and grasped his upper arms to give the bluenette a shake. “And I always come right back again, don’t I? We all do. Whether we planned on it or not, we come back. Do you really begrudge everyone having their own lives and their own places in life to go? Because if so, you’re not the person I thought you were.”
Takao shook his head, red-faced and annoyed with pretty much everything. “No, of course not! I want everyone to be happy! But is it so wrong to want to be happy, myself?”
Pulling the other teen closer, Kai sighed. “Takao…no, it’s not wrong. Look, you’re seeing a future that really doesn’t exist. It’s childish to want everyone to stay with you forever. You’re not a child. Stop acting like one.” He ordered a stern tone.
He should be offended, he really should, but Takao couldn’t help feeling more chastised. Kai was calling him on his irrational fears, and it wasn’t pleasant. He grabbed Kai’s shirt in his fists, angrily wanting to push Kai away, until Kai spoke again.
“I know you don’t want to be alone. I’m not sure where that fear is coming from, exactly, but you have to know that whoever made you this afraid…not everyone is like that. No one’s leaving you. I’m not leaving you, even when I’m not right here 24/7/365.” Kai stared at the top of Takao’s bent head, the midnight blue hair too much temptation not to touch, so he did. He grazed his fingertips over the strands lightly. Takao raised his head at the touch, eyes so full of wary hope that Kai had to say it, albeit grudgingly. “You’re my friend, Kinomiya. More than that, you and I are…”
When he stopped, unable to put a word to what it was between them, Takao finally smiled and raised a hand to place a finger to Kai’s lips.
“Okay. I get it.” Takao sighed and gave him a sheepish look, smoothing out the wrinkles he’d made in Kai’s shirt. “I told you I was being stupid.”
“Yeah, well, I’ll keep you in line.” Kai smirked a little, releasing his hold on the bluenette and stepping away with a slight flush. “It’s what I do.”
Takao chuckled ruefully, rubbing at the back of his neck. “Unfortunately. That’s one of the reasons I need you around – to smack me with reality once in a while.” He stuffed his hands in his pockets and tilted his head at Kai. “So…thanks.”
“Hn. Whatever.” Kai brushed his gratitude aside, annoyed at himself for being so affected by the younger blader’s mood that he got all sentimental. “Let’s go back, before they send out a search party.”
“Sure.” Takao followed him back up the hill, walking side-by-side again back to the dojo. As they neared his home, Takao grabbed Kai’s arm and stopped. “Wait, Kai…”
“What?” Kai obligingly stopped and looked at him.
“About you and I…” Takao hesitated, then plunged on. “…I know we’re not, you know, ready for much, but…”
Kai studied him closely for a moment, then leaned in and very softly and carefully touched his lips to Takao’s. “Kinomiya, you think way too much. You’re going to hurt something.” He said gruffly, walking away with a tad more speed than necessary. Takao stared after him, shocked and amazed, and before he knew it he was chasing after him – lips tingling pleasantly.
“Kai! You jerk! You can’t just…just…and walk away like that! Come back here!” He yelled as he ran. He caught up in the front yard, just beyond the gate, and leapt at Kai’s back. Kai grunted at the impact, and resignedly let Takao hug the stuffing out him. Well, he made out like he was put upon, but he was sure that Takao knew better.
Tucked in against Kai’s side, Takao ushered him back inside the dojo, where they were met by the loud welcome of their friends.
Maybe growing up wouldn’t be so bad after all.