The Lone Wolf

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Tala had his face towards the sunlight streaking across his hospital room. Kai knew Tala was aware of his presence the moment he stepped in. Unable to sit comfortably without displaying his mass of feathers, he picked the wall opposite of his bed and leaned against it. The leather gave little creaks as he folded his arms across his chest.

Tala's blue eyes flashed to him for only a moment before looking back to the sun. "You've lost weight rather quickly. Been sick?"

"You could say so." Kai tugged out the warped, melted form of Dranzer's blade and tossed it to him on the bed. "Any chance you could get me a new skiv when you get out?"

Tala stared down at the once gleaming glory of his Dranzer. The corners of his mouth cut into his face.

"Good God...that's...damn it, Kai, that's high-heat resistant alloy." He touched the blade, as though touching a corpse. "Does this perchance have anything to do with why you were sick?"

"Perhaps. Yes or no?"

"So demanding." He gave the attack ring a ginger tug just to hiss as a wayward edge of still sharp metal cut into his nail. He stuck his thumb into his mouth.

"You good with the same deal as before?" Kai asked.

"Technically you saved my life, lack of manners or not."

"We weren't trained to be good dinner guests." But now it came to the real reason why he had come. "Why didn't you tell me? When you were taken."

Tala snorted. "Dear me, you make me sound like a kidnapped virgin. You know you're the only one who will be deflowering me."

Kai sighed and gave his old teammate his most dead pan glare. He wasn't in the mood for Tala's joking. He had just spent half his food budget allowance on breakfast alone and his legs were still shaking from having walked from the front door of the hospital.

Tala let it slide off him like dew off fur, though, and took up the twisted metal with a critical eye. Kai knew he could see the blank yellow of the bit beast piece, but must have decided not to say anything about it.

After a few more seconds filled with the noise of the hospital staff moving about outside the door and traffic far below the window, Tala lowered the blade. His express was unreadable, as all of them had learned was best from an early age.

"I may not be a part of your cute BladeBreakers, but that didn't mean I wanted to lead him right to you."

"Don't give me that. You could have let me know easily without catching his attention. It wasn't like it was much there to begin with."

The red-haired teen humphed in his throat and closed his eyes, a wry smile playing against the flat plain of his high cheeks. "I thought I would at least try. It's funny you think I'd actually care to tell you. What are you, my mommy?"

"A warning would have been nice, but fine, yes. For this conversation, I'm your mommy. Why'd you go out and get yourself cut up by the bad kids, Tommy?"

"Woa, you wield sarcasm like a blade. Can your lack of humor get any more scary?"

"If you're refusing to answer the question just say so and I'll wait for my blade. I figured I'd at least pretend we'd been friends."

Tala, still molded and frozen from their Siberian past, stared. He hadn't the presence of Tyson or any of the others to thaw him, so hearing the word 'friends' so raw and blunt threw him off. Even having accepted his teammates as his new family, old Abbey friends weren't exactly great at helping you get out of your anti-social, cold, murderous issues. They were busy enough dealing with it themselves.

Only respect for Tala's pride stopped Kai from laughing. Lord, it felt good to be on this side. He knew putting up with Granger's crap for all these years would amount to something.

"Friends?" said Tala faintly. "Since when...Like I'd do something so—grow up."

"Big kids have friends too, Tommy," he said, drunk on this new adventure in his usual taciturn personality. "If you'd just let me known maybe I could have done something about...the others..."

All good feelings left when he said that, as quickly as they came. Guilt took their place as he could see it twist, dark and unfathomable, on Tala's face.

But that was why he had come. He knew those feelings wouldn't go away, and he also knew Tala had nothing to keep him from doing the stupid once he left the supervision of the hospital. Trained in the art of merciless killing, suicide would be as easy as sniffing. It would be inevitable.

Which meant Kai would have to deal with being uncomfortable. He was all Tala had now.

He dropped his arms. "Look, I...we suck at talking about this sort of shit, so I'm going to be blunt. After the others were killed I don't see any other reason for you to keep on living, and yet you did. You didn't get a hold of me, which I have theories too, and then you saved my life. Your actions say we're friends, and I'm here to just make it clear that..." he cleared his throat, looking at everything besides Tala. "That we were before you did all that. And, if you don't have anywhere to go—" No, he had to come clean with this. He had to bite it. "No, I'd rather if you'd move in with me. You don't do good alone."

When nothing happened and no sound come from the wolf, Kai dared to take a peek at him. From the extreme angle his eyebrows and mouth had made, he wouldn't have been surprised if the wolf launched from his bed and attacked him. He was just thinking he should leave before Tala did just that (and because his face was getting annoyingly hot), when Tala spoke.

"Can I think on it?"

A breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding rushed out from him, more loudly than he had intended. Tala's face relaxed as a bit of humor lit up his glacial eyes and Kai scrambled to gather up his dignity, now running all over the floor like escaped marbles.

"My address and number," he snapped out a card and tossed it onto the hospital bed alongside his blade. "It's cramped, but if you're not a lazy ass and get a job, we can fix that."

"Says the man who walked in here and demanded I supply him with another shiv beyblade," said Tala, mirth scenting the edge of his words. "I could always say make your own blade, you lazy ass."

"Ha ha. When can I expect your reply?"

Tala hesitated. Then, glancing at the card, he said, as though it were admitting an embarrassing weakness, "The hospital will release me in another week. Expect it then."

Kai gave a curt nod, and now that his business was concluded, he made his move to flee.

"Hiwatari."

That stopped him just at the door.

"Thank you."

"Hn." And with that, he left, wiping his sweating hands against his sides.

Maybe he should have mentioned the wings? He had just turned into a creature like unto Cain, who had killed Tala's teammates. Kai had meant to mention it, but somehow, on seeing the look on his face as he said to let him think on it, made Kai realize that the artificially enhanced human would be the last one to have problems with Kai turning into a freak. Asking if he would be okay with it would have probably insulted him, and Kai needed him to stay where he could keep an eye on him. 

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