Summary: After the battle with Brooklyn, Kai has bruises that won’t go away.
Warnings: Slash. Kai/Tala.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by Takao Aoki and Madhouse Studio. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. This story is also based on the lyrics of "Skin" by Rascal Flatts.
Kai Hiwatari rarely found himself to be scared. But now, two months after his battle against Brooklyn, he still had bruises that looked as if he had just gotten them. He had always been a fast healer, thanks to the experiments done at the Abbey, so these bruises were starting to worry him.
“You still have those?” Tala questioned as he leaned against the doorframe that led into the kitchen of Kai’s apartment. He had been watching his friend closely as he made them lunch so he didn’t miss the wince Kai gave when he turned a certain way.
“Yes, but they are almost gone,” Kai lied.
Tala shook his head. He was the one person Kai could not lie to, though the other would never admit it. Pushing himself away from the doorframe Tala walked over to Kai and raised his shirt up to get a look for himself.
“What are you doing?!” Kai demanded as he smacked Tala’s hand away.
“Kai… those look fresh… nothing else has happened has it?” Tala questioned in concern.
“No, they are from the battle with Brooklyn.”
“Kai, I think you should go to the doctor. Now, I know you hate doctors and hospitals but these should have faded by now. Please? For me?”
Kai sighed. He couldn’t deny Tala anything, never could. “If they haven’t started to fade by the end of the week I’ll let you call alright?”
Tala wasn’t happy with that condition but he nodded. Kai returned the nod and went back to fixing their lunch. Tala busied himself by getting the plates and glasses from the cabinets of his best friend’s apartment. The dual haired ex-beyblader was thankful for this because that meant Tala didn’t see his hand shaking.
A week and a half later he sat between Tala and Mr. Dickenson, the elder man having been made his guardian until he turned eighteen, as they waited for the nurse to call them back. It had been three days since his first doctor’s visit and the blood samples had been taken. The doctor’s office had called yesterday afternoon saying they had the results of the tests back. The doctor wanted him to come back so that they could discuss the results.
Kai used every trick the Abbey had ever taught him to keep calm, to keep his fear from showing. Tala reached over and rested his cooler hand on Kai’s clenched fist. “It’ll be okay Kai, just relax.” Kai took a deep breath and nodded. Leaning forward he picked up an outdated magazine and started to idly flip through it.
Another thirty minutes passed before the door leading back into the exam rooms opened and his name was called by a nurse with a smile. “Kai Hiwatari? Would you please come with me?”
“Do you want me to come with you Kai?” Mr. Dickenson asked as Kai stood.
“I’ll go,” Tala said before Kai could reply to his guardian.
Mr. Dickenson nodded. “I’ll wait right here then.”
Wrapping a comforting arm around Kai’s waist, Tala led him back through the door. The nurse led them to an exam room and told them that the doctor would be with them in a few moments. Kai sat on the exam table while Tala leaned against the wall.
“I think you should lay down when we get back to your apartment,” Tala said. “You look tired.”
Kai sighed; his shoulder’s drooping just a little. “I’m fine Tala.” Even as he said this he was overcome by a yawn. “Shut up,” he said at Tala’s pointed look.
“I’m just saying, you’ve looked more tired than usual. You’re not training now so you should take the time to rest.”
Kai’s reply was cut off by the knock at the exam room door. It opened a moment later and the doctor he had seen three days ago entered. “Mr. Hiwatari, I have the results of the blood tests we did the over day.”
“That much I already know doctor,” Kai replied.
“Of course, we told you that much on the phone didn’t we?” The doctor questioned not letting Kai’s sour tone get to him. He came further into the room and sat on the stool in front of the exam table. “Well the results weren’t as good as we had hoped…”
Kai didn’t realize he was holding his breath until the doctor said the next few words. He wanted to gasp… but couldn’t.
“Between the red cells and white, something’s not right. I’m afraid that you have cancer Mr. Hiwatari.” The doctor let the news sink in for a moment before he continued. “But not to worry, we’re going to take care of you.”
“What will you do?” Tala questioned.
The doctor blinked as if only just now realizing that Tala was there. “I’m sorry; I shouldn’t be saying this in front of anyone but Mr. Hiwatari and his legal guardian.”
Tala growled menacingly but it was Kai who spoke. “He’s my best friend, he can stay.”
Looking unhappy but having Kai’s permission the doctor continued, “Six chances in ten, it won’t come back again with the therapy we’re going to try. It’s just been approved; it’s the strongest there is. I think we caught it in time.”
Kai closed his eyes letting the information sink in. Behind his closed lids he could see himself standing outside a bey-dish getting ready to launch his beautiful Dranzer. The bey-dish was somewhere in the country, green grass as far as the eye could see. Behind him stood someone else, arms wrapped around his waist in a protective gesture. The soft wind blew both of their hair around their faces.
Kai Hiwatari had never been one to care about what others thought. He never cared about being popular with the fans, or at school, but after two months on the medicine for his cancer his emotions were all out of whack. For the first time in years Kai found himself crying, really crying, as Mr. Dickenson held him.
Mr. Dickenson had insisted that Kai come to live with him during the duration of his treatment. He had said he wouldn’t take no for an answer so Kai had reluctantly agreed. It had been the best decision really, there were days that he was to weak to get out of bed, a fact he hated to admit.
School was questionable. In the beginning he had still attended, missing a day here or there due to the medicine making him sick. His weak days were increasing and Mr. Dickenson had offered to bring in a private tutor but as long as he could still go, Kai wanted to go to school. He hated when people worried about him and if he stopped going to school his team, the Bladebreakers, would find out why because no, he hadn’t told them yet and he didn’t plan to.
It had hit him suddenly that day. He was leaving school when he saw the poster advertising the prom. The event was only two weeks away and no one, not a girl or a boy, had asked him to go. As he stood there staring at the poster he had heard the whispers.
“No one’s going to ask him.”
“Why not? Kai’s a hottie.”
“He’s sick. Haven’t you noticed? He wears that baseball cap all the time now to cover his baldness.”
Kai had ran at that point. The medicine played hell with his emotions and he barely made it to the car Mr. Dickenson sent for him at the end of every day before he started to cry. Mr. Dickenson had been home when he got there and he held him as he cried.
“Shh Kai, we knew this was coming.” Mr. Dickenson was right, he had known that eventually he wouldn’t be able to hide it any longer but he thought he would have longer…
Just the morning before he had woken to find a handful of strands of hair on his pillow. It had been the cruelest of truths. If he hadn’t believed he was sick before then…that did it. It would be a mistake for someone to take a guy with no hair to the prom. He still couldn’t believe that when he thought about it he had actually been looking forward to going. Now he wouldn’t have that chance…
“Sleep Kai, you need your rest,” Mr. Dickenson said softly.
Kai closed his eyes and let sleep take him.
In his dreams he was standing on a grassy hill looking out over a city they had visited once while on tour. He couldn’t recall which city it was but he had loved this view, he had spent many hours there. In his hand he held his beautiful Dranzer. There was some movement behind him but Kai didn’t feel threatened so he didn’t turn. Long legs came to rest on either side of him and arms wrapped around his waist in a protective gesture. A soft breeze picked up playing with their hair.
At a quarter to seven there was a knock at the door. Mr. Dickenson smiled as he went to the door to answer it himself. “Kai! Tala is here!”
“I’ll be just a minute,” Kai replied as he tried to tie his tie.
“Hello Mr. Dickenson,” Tala greeted as he stepped inside.
“Hello Tala. Kai will be just a moment; his tie was giving him some issues. I’m impressed that you found a cap to match your suit… but what’s it for?”
Tala shrugged. “I just felt it was right,” he answered.
Kai came out of the bedroom he had been given by Mr. Dickenson with a smile. Tala had surprised him by asking him to the prom three weeks ago. He had been so excited that someone had asked him, even better that it was his best friend, he had said “yes” immediately.
“What’s the hat for Tala?” Kai questioned as he took the boutonnière that Tala offered him.
Without another word Tala took off his baseball cap. Tears filled Kai’s eyes, tears filled Mr. Dickenson’s eyes, tears even filled Tala and the butler’s eyes. That morning when he had stopped by to see how Kai was feeling he had had his long red locks, but now…
Kai reached out and touched the bare skin where Tala’s hair had been. “You did this… for me?”
Tala took Kai’s hand and kissed his fingers. “I’d do anything for you Kai. I’ve just been waiting for you to realize it.”
Kai smiled widely and grabbed his own baseball cap. After a series of pictures they left for the dance. “What’s the theme for tonight?”
“Under the stars,” Tala replied.
The driver dropped them off at the dance, promising to return for them at midnight. Following other students that were arriving, they walked around a small hill and Kai’s eyes widened. Under the stars was right… everything was open here in the park, everything was green.
“Let’s dance,” Tala said wrapping a protective arm around Kai’s waist. Kai nodded and they went onto the dance floor. Dancing close Kai couldn’t keep the smile from his lips. For a moment, just this moment, he wasn’t scared.