My first entry for the TyHil Love Countdown event. I'm going to keep all entries here to make it easier to find and for the themes to flow through one another better. They will all be connected through said theme. Each entry (or season) is a single piece that, collectively, takes place in the span of one year.
Spring: Cherry Blossoms
"Ok, so what kind of base are you looking for?"
Hilary kept her hands against the glass, her nose pressed so close circles of fog grew and shrank with each breath. She pulled back her pursed lips, pressing them into a line as her eyes scanned the rows and rows and rows of parts in various sizes, colors, shapes, weights, and materials. Laid out in an eye-catching display, it may as well have been puzzle pieces Hilary had been tasked to shove together and make something work.
She knew this was a bad idea.
"There's a lot of different ones you can use," Tyson continued, standing close. She didn't have to see his mottled reflection in the glass or hear his voice over her shoulder to know. The heat coming off him, that fuzzy staticky aura demanding her attention clued her in. And, despite the intrusion, she welcomed his proximity. Her heart slowed at his presence and her muscles relaxed, taking her shoulders down from her ears. Just a notch, anyway. "This one's a weighted base. These are good if you want to go for a more defensive approach, but I talked to Max, and he said they're a little tricky. Or you could do a spring base." Tyson's finger wedged in between hers, jabbing at an aqua colored base beneath her middle finger. The lump in her throat broke when she swallowed and took a step away from him. She spotted him glancing at her out the corner of her eye and if her moving away bothered him any he didn't show it. "You could talk to Kenny about that one. He's the only one who's been able to master one of those but I'm sure he'd be able to teach you."
Hilary let out a quiet scoff. Kenny was a genius, but he wasn't always great at delivering information for those who didn't think the same way he did. While she studied hard and got good grades, there weren't many variables in math or history or English. One plus one always equaled two. The samurai had power over Japanese politics. Commas can be replaced with coordinating conjunction. But this? The world of beyblading? There were too many options, too many what ifs, too many variables. That's what started it all, she supposed, her need to understand. How could she be a good manager if she didn't understand? All she wanted to do was answer a question.
Then Tyson had to get involved.
"Well?" His elbow pressed into her side. The push rattled her, dislodged the vice around her throat.
She turned on her heel and faced him, nostrils flaring. "Knock it off, Tyson."
"What?" His eyebrows crinkled and he blinked, taking a step back. "I was only asking a question. You weren't saying anything."
"I was thinking."
"Well, you're thinking too much. You don't need to think here." He shoved his hands into the front of his red hoodie and stood with a relaxed ease. Her hands curled into her fists at her sides. "Just feel it out. Let the blade choose you."
"Maybe I don't want it to." The bite in her words surprised even her. He was just trying to help but…well, that was the problem. Helping. Tyson helping. She didn't need his help. He wasn't even supposed to be a part of it. He wasn't supposed to be looking on her computer. They were only supposed to be studying together but then Tyson had to go and be Tyson and now here they were.
Holding up his hands, he took a step back. A chill swooped in, pushing past the heat he'd brought in. Good, she needed space. "Okay, why do I feel like I did something wrong?"
"Maybe because you did?" She brushed past him at his following silence, bumping his shoulder with hers. It was a little difficult. He'd gotten a bit taller over the years and her boots didn't add the extra height she liked to throw on. He had to go and mess that up too. Stomping past the moon-eyed kid staring up at the bright-colored, glossy poster hanging by the door, she shoved the door open with all her weight. The bell jangled and clanged due to the force of her push. She kept walking.
"Hil, wait up!" Darn him and his longs legs. She'd barely made it two stores down when his fingers closed around her wrist, effectively stopping her. Tilting her head back and throwing a silent curse to the sky, she faced him. "Seriously, what did I do? I thought—"
"That's the thing, Tyson, you didn't think! You don't think! You don't…" Her lips pressed together. Peach splashed against her tongue, the extra bits of chapstick squeezing through. She pushed a breath out her nose and forced herself to look him in the eye, wincing at the confusion and hurt rolling in them, like storm clouds rushing in from offshore. "I didn't want to come here," she said, her voice barely above a whisper.
Tyson blinked. "But…you didn't say anything."
"I couldn't. You just went ahead and…" When her words failed her, she waved her arm at the shop she'd been in and out of numerous times. So many times, she couldn't count.
"I don't get it. Then why were you looking at the site?"
She focused on anything other than the puppy-like tilt of his head. The faded lettering on the sign above the door which needed a good paint job. The little girl grasping her father's hand as they walked down the street, licking ice cream cones covered in rainbow sprinkles. The dancing leaves in the light wind clinging to nearby trees.
"I'm a manager. I…" Hilary slapped her hands against her face, rubbing. Uttering a sigh, she dropped her hands and reached back, grasping one elbow, rubbing her thumb into the crease. "If I'm going to be a good manager, I need to understand how these things work."
"Huh? Whataya mean?"
She huffed, crossing her arms, keeping herself steady and safe despite the heat rising to her cheeks. "I mean I can't continue to go in blind. How can I do my job if I don't understand what I'm managing? How can I manage you all if I don't even know how to do it?"
"No, not that. The 'good manager' part." Tyson's fingers curled around the words. "You've always been a good manager."
She scoffed. "Yeah, right." Not too long ago he bemoaned having to do basic exercises like pushups and sit-ups, calling her a tyrant. Though that was probably more due to having to exercise at all.
"No, really! I mean, yeah, you're a nut case sometimes and you could lighten up a few notches." That…could be true. Sometimes. They worked hard and she wanted to show them she put in the same effort for them as well. The gym workouts and the training she created was for them to be at their best, though Tyson acted like she personally wanted to torture them all. …Okay, sometimes she did want to torture Tyson, but it was only after he was particularly callous. So, really, he started it. "But, as a manager, you're the best. The other teams can only wish they had you around."
She threw an unamused look his way. "Tyson, half the time you don't want me around."
"Well, why d'ya think I brought you here?" Hilary shook her head, blinking rapidly, at his outburst or the frustration settling on her face she couldn't tell. Her brain still stumbled over his words, deciphering them. What kind of trick were they hiding? "I wasn't snoopin' on your computer or anything." Hand rubbing the back of his neck, a sheepish smile appeared on his face. "I just saw it on the screen. I thought it would be cool to have something in common for once. Instead of yelling at each other." Dropping his arm, he took in a big breath and let it out, lifting his chin to look her in the eye. "Sometimes, I actually want to talk to you."
She should've known. With Tyson there was no trick, what you saw was what you got with him. He lived his life so far outward, it was almost like he wore his heart on his face instead of his sleeve. And she felt him, his words, all the way down to her bones, making her thrum in such a way she may have been coated in neon.
All the fight in her died and her shoulders slumped, and she settled herself in the warm and pleasant fizz frothing in her stomach. "I don't want to…join a tournament or anything," she said slow, studying his face, fingers tightening on her arms. "I don't really want to play. I just want to understand how it all works. So, I can cover my bases."
"Fine. That's cool. But, you're not gonna understand without getting your own beyblade first." Tyson paused and a sparkle appeared in his eye. Hands resting on his hips, he bent forward at the wait until they were almost nose to nose. "Were you embarrassed?"
"Of course not!" She rolled her eyes.
"Because you could've just asked me, y'know." Leaning back, his grin got wider, and she spied the look in his eye that appeared when a good challenge came his way. That determined focus which caused her heart to skip a beat. "As the world champ, I do know a thing or two about beyblading after all."
"Nevermind. Beyblading has done nothing but cause me trouble."
"What kind of trouble have you been in?"
"I'm so glad you asked!" Hilary extended her hand and tapped at the tips of her fingers. "I got kidnapped and thrown in a van. I was trapped on an island. I was thrown into a glass case. I've been stalked. I've been watched. I've been threatened. I could keep going."
"And what does that tell you?"
"I need to make better life choices."
Tyson rolled his eyes, waving her statement away. "No, it says your boring life has gotten more exciting because of beyblading."
"Exciting isn't the word I'd use."
"Then you need to expand your vocabulary."
She let out a sharp laugh. He was one to talk, studying for English was what them into all this in the first place. "Yeah, I'm the problem."
He clapped his hand down on her shoulder. "Glad you can admit it." Then, before she could protest, he dragged his hand down her arm, leaving a trail of sparks in his wake, and grasped her hand, having pulled her back to the Tates' hobby shop before she could register they had moved. "Just look at this one. You don't need to buy it today. But I think you'll like it."
He nearly shoved her to the counter they'd been standing at before, but a beyblade lay on the surface this time. Hilary let out a soft gasp at the sight of it. The pearl pink, almost white, coloring seemed to soak up all the light hanging above, as if placed beneath a spotlight. She picked it up, noting the light weight and the dots of glitter embedded into the plastic. Like little stars nestled in a pink sky.
"I went for an attack kind," Tyson said from next to her, where perched with his back against the glass, legs crossed at the ankle, hands shoved into the pocket of his hoodie. But his attention was all on her. It burned the side of her face. "But gave it good weight so while it has speed and attack it won't be knocked out in one hit. Kinda like you." He laughed at that, a soft chuckle that spun around in her head.
"Tyson…" She closed her hand around the blade, closed her eyes, let the weight settle in her hand, the plastic of the attack ring mold against her fingers. When she opened her eyes she turned him, a small smile curling her lips. "Thank you. I…really like it. Why pink?"
"Cherry blossom," he replied so suddenly she, for a second, though he answered a completely different question she hadn't asked. "That's your favorite flower."
"Oh." She hadn't realized…. He remembered that? She looked at her beyblade again, rubbing her thumb against the empty bitchip put in place. It was a bit obvious of an obvious answer, wasn't it? Considering where they lived and everything. Still, he remembered… Taking a step closer to him, she leaned her arms against the glass, smiling up at him. "So, what kind of launcher will I need?"