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The Pits

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"Kai?"

Giving no indication that he heard his roommate, Kai kept staring out into the city. He was glad that their financer always picked high floors for their accommodations. The views they ended up with were beautiful to the team – and practical to him for navigating his first few walks around the location. And his wanderings weren't something he would pass up. Ever. Things to explore, places to find.

He heard Ray step closer to the window on the railing of which the stoic teen was lounging. Gritting his teeth, Kai mentally prepared himself to be questioned. The beyblade in his hands was squeezed tighter, the attack ring almost cutting through the skin.

"We missed you at diner."

"Not hungry." It was an answer that a few months his junior probably came to expect.

Kai tensed as the body closed in and glanced at the tiger that stepped to the window he occupied, as if curious about the view. Looking out into the night, examining the lights of the buildings around them. Kai noticed that their room was still in the dark. Only one explanation for that: Ray accepted and respected his time alone staring over the city.

"You never are when we arrive somewhere."

Kai stared down at the teenager for a while. Noting the space between his leg on the fence and the hand of the other boy. Just one of the many reasons why he rather had Ray as a roomie in all these years since the BladeBreakers formed. The guy was nosey, that much was obvious, but he was – or tried to be – subtle about it.

The tiger wanted a conversation, but he would not dive into it like Max would. Kai actually considered not taking the bait, but Ray also wasn't prone to one-sided talks like Tyson and Chief were. So, Kai smirked and stared back out over the city. "Too much on my mind."

"Like when you're gonna squeeze in your next excursion?"

Kai's smirk disappeared. His scowl barely visible, but still very much there.

"It's Moscow, Kai. You lived here. What do you think you'll discover?"

Sometimes Kai forgot that their little group has been together off and on for the last four years. It took so much time and energy to follow other guys' hyperactive moods that he sometimes forgot Ray's energy went into different things. More dangerous things. Things like reading people.

"It's not always discovering, Ray. Sometimes it's just checking up on stuff."

"What kind of stuff?"

Silence. Ray would know what it means. Drop it or face the consequences. Those can vary according to Kai's mood. Sometimes it can be simple hard truth, other times it could get physical. Kai leaving, following with Ray trying to forcefully stop him and make him talk, the situation ending up in some smaller brawl that would make them not talk and/or glare at each other over the next few days.

Tonight it would probably be the truth.

Still, Ray decided not to risk it. He sighed, and turned back into the room, dropping onto his soft bed face-first.

Moscow. The place made the other guys turn into nervous wrecks whenever they were around Kai. As if he would suddenly lash out. As if he ever did after that first time years ago.

"Is training still on for tomorrow?" came a muffled voice from the mattress.

Subtle. But Kai wasn't an idiot. Ray was asking if he planned to have his little 'excursion' tomorrow and if it would be during the morning, day, evening or night. He wasn't going to grab the bait. "Nine sharp."

A yawn.

"Go to sleep. I'll wake you up at eight."

Rustling in the background as the seventeen-year-old changed into his pajamas. They stopped going to the bathroom for it a few years ago. Around the time with the incident where Tyson pulled Kai's shirt off, exposing his heavily scarred back. He had to drive them two times harder for the next month just to stop their annoying questions. Finally, the message settled even into Tyson's hard head and they stopped asking about it.

More muttering as Ray confiscated the small heater and aimed it at his half of the room, turning it on.

"Night," came from the bed.

"Good night, Ray."

He stared out into the city, wondering.


=[2 months ago]=

Cairo. Centre of Egypt. A place where the African tournament was about to happen. The southern hemisphere decided that beyblading could go even more global. So it did.

Bladers here, however, were something of a mystery. Never showing up in the tournaments before. No data. Chief's nightmare. BladeBreakers' tough luck as well, seeing how it was Kenny and his computer or the bit-beast within that came up with most of the strategies. At least, most of the strategies that everyone accepted without too much protest.

No data.

The captain of BladeBreakers knew where to find some.

He didn't bring his team around, though. Didn't want to expose them to what was sure to be a messy sight. The Pits were dirty holes in best of the cities. Kairo's, with all its history and not far from the third-world countries, would be a chaos.

Also, he didn't want to expose himself to their astonishment by his knowledge about places such as these. He could handle them better when they thought he was simply sightseeing. By himself. They were used to that.

So after they finished their tour of one of the great museums, Kai walked off in the other direction without a word. Some protests could be heard from the group he left behind. Like for instance, how this is a city they don't know. Like, how this is a different continent than what they were used to. Like, how he doesn't even know the language. He didn't know Chinese or French or German that well either. He managed it.

Kairo was a different city. Everything was more in the open. The sun made him pull up his hood. He didn't want to get a sunburn. As pale as his skin was. Especially the back of his neck as he cut the lengthy bangs off a month ago. They would grow back fast enough.

The heat was very noticeable. The air was nicer though. Not clean, definitely not clean. But not as dry as he would expect. People were everywhere. Traders were very personal, trying to coax him closer with gifts and whatnot. He was sure the others will be going from this place with full bags of stuffs. Each one of them had a soft spot for something that this place provided. History for Chief. Seemingly friendly people for Tyson. Souvenirs for Max. New style of clothing and perfumes for Hillary. New cuisine[?] for Ray. He smirked at the thought.

Kai stared at the group of kids running around. Offering stuff to tourists. Wanting money for any small favors they pulled: from showing the way to protecting the bags, to translating between the seemingly ignorant seller and the frustrated buyer. Then there were the police. Always in the corners, watching. Usually in twos. Talking amongst each other. Smoking and taking pictures with the visitors. And longer Kai watched, more similarities between them and the kids he noticed. They also asked for money for every small thing. Not as pushy, though, but he still noticed some coins exchange hands. This wouldn't happen in any of the cities they visited so far.

I wonder.

Kai straightened his back and walked up to the duo lounging in the shadow. As he walked up, they stared at him a bit strangely. They expected a question, but they were also on edge. Must be my glare. I really should learn how to turn it off.

"English?" he asked.

One nodded, enthusiastically. "Eng-hlish."

Well. Close enough.

"I'm here for the beyblading tournament."

"Bey …" The policeman #2 was stuck on the word.

The first one said something to him in their native language. They must use some other word for it. Or it was the same, just pronounced differently.

Suddenly the other one started nodding as well. Pointing into the direction of the stadium.

Kai knew where that was, so he shook his head. "No. Not searching for the stadium."

The police officer #2 kept pointing and chattering enthusiastically, but the first one seemed to have figured out what Kai was saying.

"No stadium?"

Kai shook his head. "The Pits."

"Ha?"

Yes, of course. It was probably not called like that here. But it was hard to explain what he wanted without using any long words. He blinked, thinking.

The policeman #2 seemed to have calmed down in the meantime. Now they were both staring at Kai expectantly, waiting for him to tell them what he actually wanted from them.

Kai nodded to himself, bringing out Dranzer and pointing at it. "Beyblade."

They both nodded in unison. Understanding.

Then he pointed at the kids that were playing with a ball on the square. "Street-blading?"

Nothing.

He groaned, then got another idea. Pointing downwards, he tapped the ground with his foot for the emphasis. "Underground." That is what the Pits were called in America.

They stared at him.

"Local. Non-professional."

"Loh-cal?" the first one understood that. "Profee-"

"No." Kai shook his head, getting more annoyed by the second. "No stadium. Local." He tapped the ground again. "Illegal."

Now that got a reaction from both. They started talking amongst each other, glancing at Kai warily every so. Until now he wasn't sure if he took the right approach. Perhaps the tension between the law and the Pits here was as brutal as in the civilized world. But these police officers didn't look like they were going to arrest him or chase him off. They simply seemed to be explaining to each other what they thought Kai really wanted.

Suddenly the second one nodded and said something to the first. That one turned to Kai, saying "You search for Khore."

Kai nodded and shrugged at the same time. Well it probably was what he was looking for. He couldn't be sure.

"No tourists." That was hit closer to home. "No rules."

Jackpot.

"One rule," he corrected.

A nod and something in Arabic that sounded like a phrase. It was the right length, though. No winners, losers. Only those who finish the game.

He pulled out his wallet and took out two bills. No coins. They seemed to understand what they had to do to get their reward.

The policeman #2 fished through his pockets and pulled out what seemed to be an old bill and something that was once a pencil. The map he drew was barely readable, but Kai recognized some of the landmarks. That was the main market in the corner, he was sure. A bit more of Arabic talk and the first man turned to Kai.

"Show," he pointed at Dranzer, "to beggar here. Corner. Black mark," he pointed at the forehead.

The first guy said something else, and his companion nodded.

"No police when you lose." He pointed at the blue beyblade again, glaring a warning.

Kai smirked. "If I lose." This was another country with different people, but he learned some stuff since the BladeBreakers formed. Even the great power of Kai Hiwatari had its limits. Don't underestimate your opponent. At least not when your blade is at stake. His smile fell as he accepted the piece of paper. I am NOT going to think 'thank you, Tyson'. He growled to himself as he gave the money to his helpers. Nodding at the two adults, he went in search of this Khore or whatever it was.

Time to get myself some data.