Season 1 : The Mirror

Summary: 'Lifting his eyes up to the mirror before him, he allowed himself to see what he had been avoiding in his reflection for the past few weeks. A child of the Abbey. A child of fear. A child Kai had forgotten existed. Until now.' In the weeks following the World Championships in Moscow and the return of his memory, Kai is left with the impossible task of sorting through what his memories are, and what are only nightmares. Who will help him piece his mind together?

Disclaimer: Kai, Voltaire and any other Beyblade related themes belong to Takao Aoki, not me. Mori Towers and Chiyoda are real places and they belong to, well, Japan. I own nothing!

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2. The Truth

Lifting his eyes up to the mirror before him, he allowed himself to see what he had been avoiding in his reflection for the past few weeks. A child of the Abbey. A child of fear. A child Kai had forgotten existed. Until now.' In the weeks following the World Championships in Moscow and the return of his memory, Kai is left with the impossible task of sorting through what his memories are, and what are only nightmares. Who will help him piece his mind together? 

Disclaimer: Kai and any other Beyblade related themes belong to Takao Aoki, not me. Asahi, Otaru and Saporro are brands of Japanese beer and they belong to, well... themselves.

A/N: Well, I decided I couldn't leave this unfinished. :3 This will probably turn out to be a short series of its own, so stay tuned. Brief alcohol warning for the chapter ahead: what can I say, things tend to get worse before they get better.

 

Through the fog in his brain, Kai could hear a loud, shrill bleeping inside the apartment. ...Why? Why was there bleeping inside his apartment?

'Doo-doo dah, doo-doo-dah…. Doo-doo-dah, doo-doo-dah.'

Two low notes followed by a higher note, and then quickly repeated. There was a long pause before the whole sequence was repeated again. He was sure he'd heard it before. But why was it here? Where was it coming from?

"Whuzzza, huhh…?" Kai's brain mumbled, trying to figure out what was happening through the sluggish haze of sleep. It failed. The incessant bleeping made it difficult for him to figure out much of anything.

'Doo-doo-dah, doo-doo-dah…. Doo-doo-dah, doo-doo-dah…. Doo-doo-dah, doo-doo-dah.'

...That pissing phone. It was ringing.

Why was it ringing? It shouldn't be ringing. He unplugged the cord within two days of moving in because the stupid thing annoyed him half to death with its constant ringing. Kai opened his eyes, blearily looking around for the damn thing so he could level a glare at it. But his tired eyes did nothing more than squint around blindly in the sudden light.

The maintenance man. Kai groaned, remembering the previous day.

In the two weeks that had passed since identifying his grandfather in the line-up, he'd been breaking a lot of things around the apartment – but the microwave really was the last straw. It just… stopped working. It still lit up, turned around and told him the time – it simply refused to heat. What good was an appliance if it refused to do the one thing it was built for? So he plugged in the phone again and called the tower's maintenance man, asking him to do a sweep of the apartment while he was out that day. He was to fix everything in the apartment that needed fixing, but especially the microwave.

Then Kai left. Leaving the phone connected. And forgot all about it.

Languidly, he weighed up the pros and cons of getting up off the couch and disconnecting the stupid thing again. He could gain silence in exchange for wrenching his heavy, aching limbs off the sofa. Or, he could endure the shrill ringing and stay exactly where he was, sprawled face down over the arm of the couch, with his untamed hair falling wildly over his eyes and pins and needles tripping their way up his left arm.

Kai's mind had just began to drift into wondering when exactly he became so pathetically indecisive, when the phone quit bleeping and the ringer was taken to the voicemail. The decision was made for him. Kai would stay exactly where he was.

– Kaaa~aai…. Kai-kai-kai-kai-kai! Kai, man, pick up the phone, already! –

"Sonofabitch," Kai grumbled, his bleary eyes snapping open at the sound of the offending voice coming out through the phone's speaker. Tyson. He'd forgotten how the teen had that quality of voice that just made you want to vomit. And he'd been doing enough of thatlately, thank you, without his idiotic motor-mouthed ex-teammate helping matters.

– Come on Kai, pick up! It's four-thirty, it ain't like you're sleeping or anything! –

Hah, four-thirty. No, he really shouldn't be sleeping. Kai shifted his weight and turned into a sitting position on the couch, but immediately wished he hadn't. The movement made his head throb like a bitch and caused the room to spin. Gravity was punishing him again. He smirked in spite of himself. He shouldn't have expected anything less, really. Leaning forward, he held his head in his hands and closed his eyes. Inhale. Exhale.

– …Tyson, he's probably out. So just leave a message – you know he won't appreciate you clogging up the answer phone… –

Hn. Sounded like Kenny in the background. What did they think they were doing, phoning him anyway? He didn't want to speak to them. He didn't want to speak to anyone. That's why he let his cellphone die. It's why he unplugged the landline. It's why he didn't give anyone the number to this apartment. Speaking of which… how did they get this number?

– Tchh, fine. Oi, Kai, listen up. – Oh. Tyson was talking again. Kai wished he wouldn't. – I dunno why you're ignoring all our messages, dude, but it ain't cool! Kenny wanted me to tell you that we're worried about you –

Kai bristled at this. Worried? Worry equated to pity and he didn't need that. He didn't need or want anybody's pity.

– but I wanna tell you that I think you're being a total grouch again and ya should just quit the act already, 'cause it ain't foolin' me. ...Come on dude, it's been like a month already. Stop ignoring me, just answer the stupid phone already so I can ––

Tyson's voice was cut off as the recording reached its limit, so Kai never found out what it was Tyson wanted to do if he ever answered the phone.

Not that it mattered. He wouldn't be answering the phone anyway. With the Championships over with, he simply had nothing else to say to them. They never had anything in common to begin with – and now, there was nothing he could say to them that they would understand.

As if to prove this to himself, Kai slowly pushed himself off the couch and blundered his way past the furniture to the hall by the front door. There, he bent down and unplugged the little black cord which killed off all the handsets around the apartment. Standing up, he leant backwards against the hall and clumsily ran his fingers through his unkempt hair while his head gave another dull throb. Painkillers.

Kai began this morning, or afternoon rather, the same way he'd began most days recently: scouting the kitchen for painkillers. He'd developed a terrible, unconscious habit of placing them in a different spot each time he took them, so the hunt was a self-inflicted, unnecessary necessity if he wanted to relieve the gnawing pain between his ears that he woke up with each day. Today, he found them by the apples in the fruit bowl and, ignoring the faint, but increasingly insistent tapping on the windows, he opened the little box and popped out two, small, round white pills. He swallowed them without water.

Kai leant back on the counter and rubbed his temples, before opening his eyes and looking sideways under his lids into the lounge. There, on the coffee table, were littered a number of empty, dark-glassed bottles and cans. Asahi, Otaru, Saporro. Conclusive evidence of his recently acquired bad habit. Sighing, he pushed himself off the counter and walked over to the coffee table, gathering the bottles and cans up into his arms.

Within the space of a week, what started off as curiosity quickly became second nature.

It began the first time he heard his own name called out to him, in an echo of his own voice. He'd began a frantic, desperate search of the apartment for anything that might make it stop. It was bad enough that the memories assaulted him during his sleeping hours. His waking hours should have been safe. So when Kai stumbled upon the cooking sake in the cupboard, almost too conveniently, he'd wondered… why not? It was worth a try. It tasted like shit – but three-quarters of the way through the bottle, the boy had grown quiet, and Kai felt more relaxed than he had since the first day he stepped through the doors of the Abbey with his team.

Thus, with the numbing promise of oblivion, his daily routine had changed. He now spent his afternoons shaking off a hangover (and, ironically, restoring his supplies), his evenings grinding his body into the ground in the training room, his nights dodging his own reflection, and his mornings in a drunken stupor. It was just easier that way.

But the nights had been growing increasingly worse. Kai found himself, even despite the drinking, fighting sleep at every turn, because it was only in sleeping that he seemed to remember. His mind projected memories he didn't want to see – memories that, in his waking hours, he refused to believe he'd seen at all. Images of nameless, faceless boys, training themselves into the dust. The creaking of doors and the cracking of whips. Soulless chants that preceded battle. A flash of blue. A glimpse of red, pooling on the stone-flagged ground. The screams of those who lost just one too many times, disappearing into the darkness, never to be seen again.

It was like another life on a movie reel, scene by scene, always disjointed and chaotic, burrowing its way into Kai's mind, searing itself onto his eyelids. One night he was six years old, soldiering his way through spoilt milk on gruel in the mess hall. The next he was ten and dismantling firearms. Then he was eight and walking through the dark stone corridors, heading to his first death-match. It was too much. It wasn't the life he thought he knew.

He was Kai Hiwatari. He was cold. A jerk. An arrogant prick. But he was strong and he could handle anything that hit him. Anything but fear. He didn't know fear – there was no room or timefor it.

This boy from the Abbey knew fear – knew nothing but fear.

This boy from the Abbey wasn't him.

So now, when Kai saw him in the mirror or reflected in the windows at the dead of night, he turned away. When he began to pound his small, bruised fists on the glass, crying his name, begging to be heard, Kai spun on his heel and left the room. There was nothing he wanted to hear from this boy. Nothing he could learn. He didn't need his fear or his experiences. Eventually, he would disappear the same way he did before, and Kai would be left in peace.

But the echoing tap on the window behind told him otherwise.

'...Kai?'

"Go away," Kai muttered, thrusting the bottles and cans roughly into the trash can. He tried to ignore the small voice as thoroughly as he ignored the fading light of day. He did not turn around.

'Why...?

Kai strode away from the window and towards the bedroom as the banging grew louder. With his jaw set he ignored the fact that when he passed the bedroom mirror, he saw a flash of the desperate, crimson-eyed plea of that child. From the draws beside his bed he pulled out a clean set of clothes and went into the bathroom. But the child followed him there too, beating his small hands through the glass of the mirror. He was crying.

'Kai… why don't you look at me?'

Ignore. Ignore. This wasn't happening.

Twisting the dial of the shower with shaking hands, he waited for the hot water to fill the room with steam. But he could hear the child continue to pound on the glass, regardless of the growing veil of condensation that covered it. It was growing hysterical now.

'Why? Why don't you see me, Kai? ...Please!'

"See what?" Kai spat over his shoulder, pulling a fresh towel off the shelf. He removed his shirt and threw it in the laundry basket. "There's nothing to see!"

'But Kai... I'm right - right here!'

"Shut up!" Kai threw the bathroom door open and left the room. He went to the fridge, wrenched open the door and pulled out a small, slim-necked bottle. Just one, to take the sting off. Then he'd take a quick shower to wake himself up, leave the apartment and hit the gym.

'Please, just turn around...'

"Fuck off," Kai growled through gritted teeth. He didn't even bother looking for the bottle opener. Instead, he brought the bottle down and nicked the edge of the counter with it, forcing the metal cap off that way. Through the child's pounding, his tears and his pleas, Kai missed the sound of it hitting the floor.

'You're just like them! They didn't see me either!'

"Just leave me alone."

'They never wanted me! Not me!'

Kai brought the bottle to his lips, tipping his head back.

'They never loved me!'

"Go away."

'But you'll never understand!'

"Good! I don't wanna hear anything you have to say..."

'Boris just wanted to use me.'

"Leave me alone!"

'Grandfather – he hated me!'

"Stop it!" Kai began to pace the apartment, one hand running through his hair, the other gripping the bottle-neck tight with shaking, white knuckles. Windows, mirrors everywhere, not a safe place in sight. He was surrounded by ghosts he couldn't seem to forget. Everywhere, the sound of that child, screaming, crying, beating his small, bruised hands on the glass. There was nowhere else to go.

'Even you… you hate me too!'

"I never asked for you to come here!"

'You just want me to disappear!'

"SHUT UP!"

'Why do you hate me!"

"I said SHUT UP!"

'Why Kai? Why do you hate me so –?'

"– BECAUSE YOU'RE ME!"

Kai wound his arm back and hurled the bottle towards the glass, away from himself. It fractured against the window-pane before him, spraying its contents in all directions, shattering into a million pieces against the glass, leaving only deafening silence in its wake.

Panting, Kai fell to his knees on the floor.

He looked up to the glass before him, and between the drops of beer trickling down the fractured glass he saw only his own reflection. Exactly as he was. Chalk-white, dark-eyed, panting, shaking, alone, and afraid.

More afraid than he'd ever been in his life.

"… because I'm you."

 

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