Ray gently guided Kai into a seat, careful not to apply too much pressure to the teenager's chest. A quiet growl was suddenly heard from Kai's stomach, causing the older teen to blush slightly as he glanced up at his teammate.
"Fancy something to eat?" Ray chuckled.
"Please." Kai smiled back. He watched as Ray headed for the door, his golden orbs glancing over at the other group of boys. Kai's smile faded quickly as he too looked over at his old team. His eyes hardening Kai dropped his gaze to his hands, aware of Tala and the others walking over to him.
Kai didn't raise his head as he heard three chairs scraping back; however curiosity of which member hadn't seated forced his eyes to glance up for a second. It appeared that Bryan was absent from the room. Kai's body began to tense as Tala moved his chair closer into the phoenix's personal space. Kai watched Tala's movements out the corner of his eye, his eyebrow rising slightly. What was up with Tala lately? He usually respected Kai's personal space.
"Since when were you so needy?" Kai could feel Tala's breath on his ear; it caused a shiver to run down his spine. Noticing Tala smirked; glad he hadn't lost his touch with the phoenix.
"Don't recall you ever needing to use one of us as a walking stick!" Spencer folded his arms as he stared at Kai. His eyes flickered to the top that covered Kai's bruises. Sure he and Bryan had done a good job on Kai, but he'd received worse in the past and always been able to stand and walk by himself after. Maybe Boris was right, Kai had gotten weak. Very weak.
Again Kai ignored the comments, instead glaring into the centre of the table. Tala's constant breathing on his neck was beginning to irritate him.
"Or is there more than friendship between you and the kitty?" Ian smirked. Kai's eyes widened in horror as his head snapped up to look at Ian. Ignoring the growl that had come from Tala, Kai stared with his mouth hanging open at the small boy. Had he really just suggested what Kai thought?
"Oooo, he's speechless," Ian nudged Spencer in the ribs, "Not normal for Kai. Must have hit the nail on the head."
Kai couldn't answer. Was Ian honestly saying he thought he and Ray was an item? Opening and closing his mouth again Kai couldn't get any words out. Tala's hands had begun to curl into fists at Kai's lack of answers.
Was Ian right? Had he caught Kai out? The way Kai and Ray acted, anyone would think...Kai had never let any of they, not even himself, as close as he had Ray. So that could only mean. Frustrated Tala slammed his fist down on the table.
Ray quickly began to prepare egg and soldiers for Kai; he didn't wish to leave the teen alone any longer than was needed. Reaching for some bread Ray was suddenly aware that he was no longer alone in the kitchen. Turning his head slowly he was greeted with the unwelcoming sight of Bryan.
"Err...yes?" Ray continued to prepare breakfast for Kai, although making sure to keep Bryan within his sight. The Russian stood against the counter, his falcon eyes watching every movement of Rays.
After getting no reply Ray decided to try again, "Was there something you needed?" Forcing a smile on his face Ray turned his entire body to face Bryan.
"Actually there was." Bryan tore his gaze away from Ray and began to examine his fingernails.
"You and Kai seem to be very...close." Bryan's eyes jumped back to Ray, watching. Frowning at the weird behaviour Ray shrugged,
"I suppose..." Bryan returned to look at his hand, almost as in thought. "Though Kai's never been the one to treat people like actually teammates. He doesn't appear to be as...as fond of your other team members as you. Same could be said about you in fact."
Ray's frown deepened as he took in what Bryan was saying. A smirk played on Bryan's lips as Ray's facial features changed.
"So you and Kai don't have anything more than a...teammate relationship?"
Ray could feel his cheeks burn as Bryan's words and the meaning behind them began to sink in.
"Me and Kai are friends. He is my captain and I his teammate," Ray was shocked as his voice came out higher than normal causing the blush on his cheeks to burn.
"I see...so you see Kai only as a captain. There are no other feelings between you? Or should I say you don't feel anything more than a friend should?"
Bryan watched as Ray's golden orbs widened as he spoke before the tiger dropped his gaze completely hiding his eyes beneath his bangs. His smirk fully formed Bryan pushed himself off from the counter.
"Looks like the ickle Kitty got a crush." Ray snapped his head back up at Bryan's mocking voice, "Well the kitty best watch out because wolves eat kitty cats for breakfast."
Ray watched as Bryan turned on his heel and left the kitchen, the toast popping out of the toaster quickly catching his attention. Shaking his head free from the conversation Ray focused his attention on the breakfast, making up two plates to prevent Tyson from snacking off Kai's.
A large bang caused Ray to jump, grabbing the plates he rushed out into the living room.
"Come on Tyson!" Kenny gripped his laptop as he watched Tyson whip his skirt back and forth in the mirror. Kenny and Max had already changed and discarded their outfits in the corner of the room. Tyson however had changed all except for the skirt. Max glanced a worried at Kenny from his place on the bed.
"Man girls are lucky! Skirts are awesome! Look at it move!"
Unable to stop the giggles Max fell back onto the bed as Kenny stared in horror at the capped teenager. Turning to look at his friends Tyson frowned.
"What? It's comfortable!" Pouting Tyson threw a pillow at Max as the blonds' laughter grew louder. After a quick pillow fight Tyson agreed to change into more 'male appropriate' clothing.
A sudden loud banging caused all three teenagers to turn to look at the closed door that lead out into the living room. Quickly they ran out, as they did Ray appear from the kitchen holding two plates. They all turned to the cause of the noise.
Tala was stood from his seat, his fists on the table. He glared down at Kai whose eyes were firmly fixed on the pale fists. The red heads chest rose and fell heavily; his tensed jaw showed how hard he was trying to control his anger. Slowly Kai dared to lift his gaze to meet the burning blue eyes that glared down at him.
"Is there a problem Tala?" Kai spoke slowly, allowing him to keep check of his voice. He wasn't going to make a fool of himself whilst his teammates were present. Tala was also now aware of the sudden present of the Bladebreakers. Growling in reply Tala sat back down keeping his eyes locked with Kai's.
After a few seconds of silence Ray dared to move closer to Kai, placing down the plate Ray smiled as Kai turned to him nodding his thanks. Glancing up Ray froze. His blood felt like ice as it ran around his body, although he was sure his heart had stopped. Never in his entire life had Ray received a death glare of this intensity. He wasn't even sure if Kai could produce one of the same standards. Bryan's mocking voice replayed in his mind as gold met blue.
"Wolves eat kitty cats for breakfast"
Gulping Ray couldn't tear his eyes away. It was as though his mind no longer controlled his body, Tala's glare so intense it was hypnotising. He could hear voices around him, sense people moving but he couldn't register who or where. Suddenly Tala lazily turned his gaze as a tug on Ray's arm almost sent the tiger into the arms of Tyson.
"Arrgh Tyson!" Ray quickly caught his balance saving both himself and the plate of food left in his hand.
"Finally Ray!" Tyson grabbed the other side of the plate, "I've been talking to you for ages! I assume that this food is for me?" Tyson licked his lips as Ray nodded allowing him to take the plate and devour the food.
"You okay Ray?" Kai paused the fork that was near his mouth watching his teammate. He appeared suddenly paler. Looking back down at his captain Ray weakly smiled and nodded. Hadn't anyone noticed the look Tala had given him? Feeling the glare back on him Ray dared not look up as he headed over to the settee with his friends.
"Hurry up and get out of this room now before I change my mind!" Boris pulled open the door leading to the landing. His command was directed at the Bladebreakers as his own team were already outside in the corridor. Max and Tyson bounced out the room excitedly, followed by a terrified Kenny. Ray slowly headed for the door that Boris held open, aware of Kai begrudgingly following not far behind.
Kai kept his gaze directed in front of him as he past his old mentor. His neck suddenly felt like it was burning, the memory of Boris's teeth sinking into it the skin and the man's lips sucking hungrily on him raced to the front of his mind. Kai could feel his legs shaking with each step; tears began to form at the memory. Gritting his teeth Kai quickened his pace to fall in step with Ray who welcomed him with a smile. As they headed down to the lobby Kai could feel the eyes of group behind him but he was determined not to acknowledge them.
Tala glared at the back of the tiger. He never believed he'd hate someone as much as he did Boris, but ever since Tala had seen Ray's hands touching his phoenix he learnt of how powerful an emotion jealousy was. Why couldn't Kai deny there was anything between them? Tala's glare hardened as Kai caught a laugh leaving his lips and instead smiled at whatever Ray had said to him. Never had Tala gotten Kai to be this comfortable. Sure they laughed and joked at the abbey, but only when they were alone, locked in their room. It annoyed Tala to see Kai laugh and smile so openly with Ray.
The group walked silently through the lobby and out into the pool area. Boris had suggested that they spend the day down at the pool, surprising both the Bladebreakers and demolition boys. It seemed that the man could no longer stand being locked away with Tyson in such a small place. They headed over to some sun loungers in the corner, away from the rest of the holiday makers.
Kai slumped down on the plastic lounger, his body screaming out it thanks. Never had he been in this much pain after a beating or special punishment. It made him feel so weak!
"You feel okay Kai?" Max sat down to Kai's right as he began to take off his top.
"Hn." Kai nodded; secretly glad it was Max and not Tyson who had taken the lounger next to him. His relief grew as Ray sat down to his left. Lying down on is back Kai allowed the sun to wash over him and warm his skin, closing his eyes Kai was contemplating actually sleeping. Suddenly the sun disappeared causing Kai to groan.
"You coming for a swim?" Tyson's cheery voice rang in the darkness.
"Aww come on! It'll be fun."
"Kai!" Kai winced as Tyson's whining voice grew louder. Opening his eyes Kai sat up hoping a glare would shut the annoying boy up. "Kai!"
"Tyson!" Kai voice mimicked the whine Tyson's own held. All heads turned to the duo, either their eyes wide or their mouths open. Tyson stared at Kai, unable to do or say anything but blink. Growing bored of Tyson's goldfish expression Kai quickly rose, grabbing Tyson as he went. Kai had moved so quick that Tyson was unable to react until his emerged from the pool.
"Kai! I can't believe you just did that!" Tyson blushed as he shouted up at Kai, who looked down from the pool's edge a triumphant smirk on his face. Kai turned back to his lounger as Tyson swam over to Max and Kenny.
"Did Kai just...whine?" Ian whispered next to Spencer.
Lying back down Kai winked at Ray who had currently paused in reading to watch the events. Shaking his head Ray returned to his book as Kai closed his eyes, wishing his could remove his top. It wasn't long before Boris had Ian and Spencer go watch Tyson and the others who'd grown bored of the pool and run off into the arcade.
Ray placed down his book and stretched. He'd lost track of what time it was. Tyson and the others seemed to have been gone ages. Boris had left moment earlier to make a phone call; during that time Ray was sure that Kai had actually fallen asleep. Ray unconsciously began to watch the sleeping teen. Kai's mouth had fallen open only slightly, reminding Ray of how old Kai was. Not that he knew exactly, none of the Bladebreakers knew of Kai's age or Birthday. Kai never told them and when asked Mr Dickinson simply replied 'ask Kai'. It was Max who had come up with the idea of making Kai's birthday the same date that the Bladebreakers had become a team. Ray's eyes ran down Kai's body before returning to the peaceful face, if he was forced to guess he'd say Kai was no older than a year or more than he himself. Kai slightly moved his head and one of his bangs fell away from his forehead, it was then that Ray realised he'd been staring.
Turning away Ray could feel his cheeks burn, the conversation with Bryan replaying in his mind. Surely he didn't have feelings for Kai, they were friends! Daring a look over at the falcon Ray was relieved to see that Bryan was paying no attention to him. A glance to Bryan's left caused Ray to frown. When had Tala left?
"Finally put your book down then?" Ray turned his head back to Kai who had sat up and begun to stretch.
"Hey guys!" Kai and Ray looked to the opposite side of the pool were Max was waving at the frantically. "Tyson found a bey stadium! Come on!" Max turned and ran back inside the small hut.
"Shall we?" Ray turned back to Kai. His eyes once again ran over Kai's body.
"Whatever." Kai sighed. Both teenagers stood, stretching out their muscles. They both pulled out their blades and launchers from the duffel bag Kenny had brought down.
Entering the hut Kai felt a shiver down his spine at the sudden shade. A grunt behind him informed him that Bryan had followed. Rolling his eyes Kai followed Ray into the crowded room. A large crowd had formed in circle where Tyson's cheers could be heard. Ray pushed through the crowd to the centre were Tyson's Dragoon was currently attacking a purple blade.
"Dragoon final attack!" Ray watched as Tyson launched his blade into its opponent sending the purple blade flying out of the bowl and into Ray's outstretched palm.
"Now that wasn't very fair Tyson," Ray mocked handing the blade back to its owner. Excited whispers broke out through the crowd as they soon spotted Kai and Ray, however they quickly stopped as eyes fell on Bryan.
"How about we blade?" Ray pulled out Driger as Dragoon flew back into Tyson's hand.
Both bladers loaded their blades into the launcher as Max took his position between them. The crowd once again began to talk in excitement.
"3..." Max held up his hand and looked between his friends.
"2..." Tyson and Ray held their launchers ready.
"1..." Max dropped his hand.
"LET IT RIP!" The crowd shouted. Kai shut his eyes at the noise, his head beginning to feel heavier. Why had he left the comfort of that stupid plastic lounger? The cheers from the crowd echoed in Kai's ears, this was the reason why Kai never bladed in small enclosed spaces with spectators.
"Kai watch out!" Kai's eyes snapped out at Tyson's voice, he felt someone grab his arm and pull him towards them just in time, Kai watched as Dragoon flew past his head and the parted crowd and smashed into the wall. Kai stared at the blade now lodged firmly into the wood; he couldn't believe it had almost hit him. Dragoon had nearly hit him! Turning back to the owner Kai's glare vanished as everyone was now staring at the new blade in the dish that was repeatedly slamming into Driger.
"Come on then Kitty, show me what you got!" Tala slowly emerged from the crowd his eyes fixed on Ray.
"Hey what's the big idea? We were already battling!" Tyson approached Tala his hands on his hips.
"Yes, I noticed." Tala pushed passed Tyson, his blue eyes never leaving Ray.
Kai looked back down at the two blades; the dish had begun to crack under Driger from the power of Wolborg's attacks.
"Let's see how a kitty faces off against a wolf shall we." Tala's voice held laughter that his face didn't show; it unnerved Ray at how unpredictable and unreadable Tala was.
"What's wrong? Can't the little kitty fight off the big bad wolf?" Ray dropped his gaze to the dish, Wolborg again slammed into Driger. Tala continued to stare at Ray.
Kai watched as Driger tried to push back but the attempt was weak. This wasn't like Ray, he wasn't trying. Kai returned his gaze to the bladers; Ray's attention was on the match he clearly wasn't comfortable battling Tala. The red head however seemed intent on destroying Driger. Although he never spoke a commandment nor did he ever look at the blades the hatred and anger in his eyes burnt, his emotions controlled Wolborg and Wolborg fed on them.
Pulling out his own blade Kai wasn't about to watch Tala destroy Driger.
Tala watched the tiger. He refused to look him in the eye, instead pretending to watch their blades battle. It was clear from Driger's poor performance that Ray wasn't concentrating which infuriated Tala even more. Out the corner of his eye Tala was aware of a flash of blue which suddenly turned red blinding him. Once the flash of light had faded Tala saw Ray drop to his knees, Driger sat before him. His blue orbs jumped back to the dish to find Wolborg who was still spinning next to him was a blade which gave off an aura he knew only too well.
"Playing the hero once again Kai." Tala lifted his gaze to where Kai stood next to Ray.
"You want to battle and take your anger out on someone, you battle me! Leave my team alone!" Kai's voice to an outsider would have appeared hard and cold, but Tala could hear the weak plea. Why did Kai continue to protect those weaklings? Protect Ray! Tala knew it was most likely his mind tricking him but did Kai ever stand that close to him?
Kai could feel his mind drifting, taking him into unconsciousness; his legs were once again shaking as he forced himself to stand. Kai watched Tala waiting for that millisecond when he would let down his mask and show his true emotions. People thought that Tala was heartless, ready to destroy anyone's blade, believe he took pleasure from others pain but that wasn't him. Kai knew Boris wouldn't have told Tala to go after Ray, and he wouldn't have done it out of boredom as he stated, something was wrong.
Pain suddenly shot through Kai, breathing heavily Kai looked down to see Wolborg again attack. Blinking Kai stared down in shock; he hadn't actually expected Tala to battle. Wolborg again went to attack, however this time Dranzer swept to the side.
"Kai you can't battle in your state!" Ray hissed. Glancing down Ray watched as a wobbly Dranzer again barely missed an attack from Wolborg. People around them had begun to whisper about Kai and Dranzer's weak state. Blocking everyone out Kai focused on Tala who stared down at his blade.
"What's going on Tala?"
Tala replied with an attack on Dranzer, biting his lip to stop his scream Kai refused to counter.
"Kai attack him!" Tyson shouted, gaining loud cheers from the crowd. Tala seemed unfazed by the crowd as he continued to stare at his blade, deep in thought.
"Tala?" Kai gritted his teeth as his voice faded into the cheers of the crowd; even if Tala was paying attention he wouldn't have heard him.
"Tala!" As Kai shouted Wolborg slammed into Dranzer causing Kai's voice to come out in a pained scream, Tala's eyes shot up as Kai collapsed to his knees. Tala watched horrified as Kai's body trembled, crimson orbs peaked through silver bangs. They shone with unshed tears. Guilt hit Tala hard, never had he wanted to hurt Kai. He only wished to protect the phoenix, prevent those tears falling. Tala watched as Ray bent down and put an arm around Kai's shoulder. Tala's anger returned.
Holding out his palm Tala called back Wolborg as soon as the blade touched his skin Tala turned and ran out of the hut. Kai watched his go confused. Pushing Ray off him Kai stood.
"He forfeited? Kai won!" Tyson's voice spoke through the silence, soon followed by cheers. Calling Dranzer back to his palm Kai continued to watch were Tala had run off.
"I wonder what's wrong with him," Max whispered to Ray. Kai could hear them whispering, could hear them talking about how heartless and evil Tala was, but it's not true. His grip tightening around Dranzer Kai prayed his body wouldn't give up yet as he pushed through the crowd and followed after Tala.
He had a decent idea were Tala would head and so Kai headed for the hotel roof. His body running entirely on adrenaline. Bursting through the door out onto the roof Kai glanced around, empty. Stopping Kai bent over trying to catch his breath, closing his eyes he started to think. Where would he be?
Turning back around Kai decided he'd try the hotel room only to pause, in the shadow of the wall was a figure. Stepping closer Kai earlier prediction had been true; Tala leant against the wall watching him.
"Why did you follow me?" Tala asked.
"To find out what was up with you back there!"
Tala looked away before replying. "I was bored."
"This is me you're talking to Tala. That you back there isn't really you! Something's happened to get you so pissed off you have to take it out on my team!"
"That's because it's your team's fault!" Tala pushed himself off the wall and headed for the door, only to be blocked by Kai.
"My team has done everything you've made them do since becoming your slaves! What was that? Payback for the championships? Couldn't beat Tyson so you thought you'd boost your ego by destroying Driger and humiliating Ray?"
"Why do you give such a damn about him?"
Kai frowned. This wasn't how he expected this conversation to go. "What?"
"Come on Kai! You didn't answer Ian earlier and you're playing dumb now. What's going on with you and that Ray kid?"
"Why would you..."
"Just answer the question Kai!"
"What does it matter to you?"
Tala opened his mouth to speak but froze; the words he'd longed to say since forever were stuck at the back of his throat. Here Kai was, demanding to know Tala's true intentions and yet he was chickening out? No! This wasn't how he wanted to tell him.
"We were once best friends; never did you let me as close to you as you have Ray. It hurts to see you so depended on him when...you would never let yourself with me." Tala waited, Kai's face was emotionless.
"You're this angry because I'm actually making friends with my team?"
"No! You've never let me or any of the other guys help you how you're letting Ray help you. Earlier you were leaning on Ray for support; never would you do that with any of us."
"It's because of them I was like that!"
"You know they had no choice!"
"Just like none of you had a choice but leave me alone with Boris every time he demanded it? You all made out you cared for me Tala; each of you shifted the blame away from yourselves. Convinced me that there was nothing any of you could have done every time Boris raped me!"
"There wasn't anything..." Tala was shocked; Kai's eyes had again begun to shine with tears as his body shook. Whether it was from anger or fatigue Tala couldn't tell.
"My team. Tyson. Max. Kenny and especially Ray would never leave me alone with him! If they knew what he really did to me, just like you lot. They would never leave me! They would fight and try and help! That's friendship Tala. That's why I let them closer to me than I ever did you lot. With them I don't have to fight by myself, with them I know they are always there for me just as I am them. All of you ran and left me. You let him touch me."
Tala couldn't speak. What could he say? Seeing that was the end of the conversation Kai turned.
"Leave my team alone Tala or it's me you have to be scared of. Not Boris." Slamming the roof door behind him Kai wiped his eyes; he didn't want his true friends to see his cry. He'd do anything to protect them.
Tala stared at the door in front of him. Did Kai honestly believe that he'd run away and let Boris do as he pleased? Tala's hand ghostly ran under his top over his side, his fingertips touching the scar healed years ago. Did Kai really not know that Tala had fought for him?