A Family Portrait No More

“Kai! Kai, come in now! Tea’s ready!” a woman’s voice called out across the lush green garden.

In the middle of the garden, a four-year-old boy was sat on the soft green grass, playing with his pet cat. The moggy had long black fur, bright green eyes and a smile on it’s face that was reserved for Kai. This cat’s name was Englebert, and Kai loved him to bits.

“Come on, Engle. We need to go for din-dins,” Kai said in his squeaky voice, standing up, and patting his bum as he walked away, motioning for Englebert to follow him.

The cat faithfully followed the little boy into the house, watching as Kai took off his shoes, and seated himself at the dinner table. Kai giggled as Englebert sauntered up to the table, and sat next to him, his front paws up on the table, hoping that Kai’s parents would let him eat with them, just this once.

“Oh, Kai, you know how I don’t like Englebert to sit at the table,” Michiko, Kai’s Mother, said as she walked into the dining room, placing a bowl of leek soup in front of her son.

“Please, Mama. Just this once,” Kai pleaded, turning his nose up at the dish in front of him, and staring up cutely at his Mother.

Michiko looked down, and ruffled her son’s hair, sighing. She nodded, walking out back to the kitchen to prepare Englebert’s tea. Kai giggled as Englebert rubbed his head against Kai’s arm, and sat licking his lips as he watched Michiko return with his bowl of cat food. With Englebert’s face planted in his food, and Kai slurping away on his soup, Michiko called up the stairs to her husband.

“Susumu! Tea’s ready!”

Kai looked up from his soup as he heard feet pattering down the stairs. His face lit up as he saw his Father walk into the dining room, holding a blue spinning top. Susumu sat down next to his son, ruffling Kai’s hair as he did so. He held out the blue spinning top once he was seated.

“Is it finished?!” Kai asked excitedly.

“Almost,” Susumu smiled.

Kai took the Beyblade from his Father’s hand, and held it up. Kai positively beamed at it, not wanting to wait to help his Dad test it out. Kai held it out to Englebert, who sniffed it, and then meowed in approval. Kai giggled, and scratched Englebert’s ears.

“Susumu… Kai, what have I told you both about bringing Beyblades to the table?” Michiko said, a little bit irked, when she brought Susumu’s soup in and placing it in front of him, and seeing Kai holding the blue Beyblade.

“Aww, but Michiko… I was just showing it to him,” Susumu pouted, and looked down at his soup. “And you know I hate leeks!”

“Well, it’s tough. You’ll have to eat it or go hungry,” Michiko replied, ignoring her husband’s pout and returning to the kitchen to fetch her own soup and some bread for her and her husband.

When she returned, she sat down, and dipped some bread into her soup. Some horrific slurping noises were coming from Susumu and Kai’s direction, and she looked up to see them eating the soup and bread at top speed, clearly wanting to go and test the new Beyblade out.

Michiko raised her eyebrows as Susumu and Kai ran out of the room, thanking her for the meal. Two pairs of feet thudded up the stairs, and a door slammed. Michiko looked at Englebert, who was now licking Susumu and Kai’s bowls clean.

“At least you appreciate my cooking, Englebert,” Michiko sighed, sipping some soup from her spoon.

Englebert looked at her and purred.


Up in Susumu’s ‘study’ (i.e. where he tinkered with Beyblades, trying to get the best combination of parts), a Beydish had been placed on the floor, over which Kai was now stood with the blue Beyblade his Father had given him. Susumu himself was picking out a launcher and ripcord for Kai. He chose the ones that he had tinkered with and looked promising.

Kai put the ripcord into the launcher, with his tongue poking out as he attempted to line the ripcord up with the appropriate hole in the launcher. He had never managed to just push it in in one go without having to think about it. Susumu had told him that would come in time.

Once all set, Kai launched the Beyblade into the dish. Susumu recorded on some paper the Beyblade’s movements, and that it was a little wobbly when it turned to the left. Kai got down, his nose level with the Beydish, and he watched the Beyblade with amazement.

“Kai, I’ve told you before not to get too close to the dish,” Susumu laughed.

“Yeah but, Papa… It’s cool,” Kai replied, his eyes still following the Beyblade.

Susumu laughed again, and bent down over the Beydish himself. He picked up the Beyblade, and ruffled Kai’s hair. Kai pouted as he watched his Father put the blue Beyblade he had taken a liking to back into a box.

“It’s no good looking like that, Kai. It still needs some work done on it,” Susumu said, noticing the look his son was giving him.

“When will it be finished?” Kai asked, tilting his head cutely.

“Whenever I finish it, I guess,” Susumu laughed, ruffling Kai’s hair again. “Now, I think it’s time you went to bed, little man.”

Kai giggled as Susumu picked him up, and carried him to the bathroom. Susumu helped Kai brush his teeth, though the toothpaste was more on Kai’s face than in his mouth, as he would not stop wriggling. Once Kai’s pearly whites were eventually brushed, Susumu left the bathroom to let Kai go to the loo. Once he was finished, Kai sneakily opened the door to see the back of his Father.

Grinning, Kai crouched down and bolted through his Father’s legs. Susumu was caught by surprise when he saw a giggling dwarf run through his legs and down the landing towards the stairs. Susumu caught up with Kai, though, just before he had a chance to run down the stairs, and Susumu quickly picked Kai up and threw him over his shoulder.

“Oh, thought you could get away, could you?” Susumu asked, grinning. Kai just kept giggling.

“What on Earth is going on up there?!” Michiko’s voice sounded up the stairs.

“Nothing, honey. I’m just putting Kai to bed!” Susumu called back.

Susumu put Kai down when they reached the boy’s room. Kai quickly changed into his pyjamas, clambered into bed, and latched onto his cuddly teddy bear. Susumu turned on Kai’s nightlight, and pulled the covers over Kai, who had lay down. Susumu bent down to give Kai two whiskery kisses.

“One from me, one from your Mother,” Susumu smiled.

“Papa, you need to shave your beard off,” Kai giggled.

“Do I, now? I’ll do that tomorrow for you, then,” Susumu laughed, and patted Kai’s head.

Susumu wished his son goodnight, and closed the bedroom door behind him as he walked out. Kai watched his Father leave, smiling, and closed his eyes as soon as his bedroom door was shut. He thought he was the luckiest child alive to have a Father like his.


A commotion downstairs made Kai’s eyes snap open. He sat up, listening to three raised voices downstairs. Kai yawned and looked at his little phoenix alarm clock. 12.20am. It was gone midnight, so who would be arguing with his parents at this time?

Kai slid out of bed, and opened his bedroom door. The voices became louder, and Kai pattered towards the stairs, picking up Englebert for comfort as he walked down the stairs. Kai peeked through the gap between the living room door and the doorframe. He could see his Grandfather shouting at his Father, with Michiko in between, trying to calm them both down.

“You’re not taking him!” Susumu growled.

“If you just agree to become the heir to the Hiwatari business, I won’t have to take him!”

“You just want to make him into one of those soldiers that you plan to use to take over the world!” Susumu said raising his fist, and advancing on his Father.

“Susumu! Voltaire! You’re going to wake Kai up!” Michiko said, still holding her hands out between the two men.

A quiet voice at the door all made them stop.

“Mama… Papa, what’s going on?”

The three adults turned to look at the door. Kai put Englebert down, and he made his way over to his Father, clutching onto his leg when he reached him. Susumu put his hand on Kai’s head, and looking angrily back at Voltaire.

“You come in here, demanding things and threatening to do other things, and you wake Kai up in the middle of the night! It’s not on, Daddy-dearest.”

“It wasn’t just me shouting, Susumu. And if you just agree to-”


Voltaire frowned.

“If that’s really how you feel…”

“It is,” Susumu nodded, frowning as Voltaire approached him and Kai.

“Then I have no choice…” Voltaire said, coming to a halt a few feet away from Susumu.

Voltaire reached out, and grabbed Kai, pulling the little boy away from his Father. Both Susumu and Michiko shouted out, but Voltaire backed towards the doorway, and pulled a gun out of his pocket, waving it at Susumu and Michiko before pointing it at Kai’s head.

“Please, Voltaire… Don’t,” Michiko pleaded, tears in her eyes as he and Susumu still slowly made their way towards Voltaire.

“Father, put that gun down,” Susumu ordered.

“If you and Michiko move back and stay back, I’ll move the gun away,” Voltaire replied.

Michiko and Susumu did as Voltaire said, and moved backwards. Tears were streaming down Kai’s face as his eyes flicked back and forth from his parents to his crazed Grandfather. The gun was moved from his head and pointed towards his parents.

“Voltaire… Please give Kai back to me,” Michiko asked, her hands outstretched.

“No. Your husband, my son, has made his decision. If he doesn’t want to be the heir to the Hiwatari business, then I shall take your son as his replacement!”

Susumu moved forwards, and Voltaire shot at the floor.

“I told you to stay back,” Voltaire warned. “I’m leaving with Kai, now. If either of you move… I’ll kill him.”

Michiko burst into tears, and Susumu stood with his fists clenched as they watched Voltaire kick Englebert out of the way, and run out to his car with Kai. Kai was pushed into Voltaire’s ride, and the chauffeur was ordered to drive. Kai screamed and kicked and cried, and slammed his hands against the window he was next to. Voltaire grabbed him.

“Kai! Be quiet, you little brat. You’ll be much better off without them, trust me!”

Kai continued to scream and shout, wanting to go back to his home, and when Voltaire tried to grab him a second time, he bit Voltaire’s hand, earning him a slap to his right cheek. He stopped making a sound, more from shock than anything else, and held his cheek whilst looking fearfully at his Grandfather.

“That’s what will happen if you don’t do as I say,” Voltaire warned the boy. “But where I’m taking you to… If you disobey, they’ll give you much worse than a slap, do you understand?”

Kai nodded and sniffed. He was quiet for the rest of the journey, and didn’t even question Voltaire when they walked into a hotel. Once up in his room, Kai was told that they’d be flying out to Russia the next day. Kai had naïvely asked if it was like a holiday. Voltaire had just smirked and said yes.

When Voltaire left the room, Kai heard the lock on the door click, and knew he had been locked in. Kai lay down on his bed, missing his teddy, missing Englebert, but more than that, missing his parents. Already.


The journey to Russia had taken a few hours, and now Kai was walking towards a black car with his Grandfather, shivering like mad. He looked up at his Grandfather, who was wearing a thick fur coat, and wondered if the old man would be kind enough let him wear it for a while. Before Kai could ask, though, he was pushed into the car by the man who had taken him from his parents.

“The Balkov Abbey, sir?” the driver of the car asked, and Voltaire nodded.

Kai tilted his head, wondering what on earth the Balkov Abbey could be. Why was his Grandfather taking him to a church? Kai opened his mouth to ask, but Voltaire made a zipping motion, and so Kai closed his mouth again.

The car journey didn’t last long, and Kai soon found himself stood outside a large grey building, the complete opposite of his image of an Abbey. Kai began shaking involuntarily as his Grandfather put a hand on his shoulder, and steered him through the gates. Kai could tell that he wasn’t going to be happy here, and his pining for his parents and Englebert immediately became stronger.

As Voltaire led him into the looming building, and through it’s twisted halls, Kai shivered as they walked past some boys, some of whom looked beaten, bruised, and terrifying. Kai looked back at the ground as he and Voltaire made their way up two flights of stairs.

They approached a big wooden door, which Voltaire pushed open without knocking or announcing his presence. He didn’t need to, apparently, because the man sat behind the desk Kai and Voltaire were now facing immediately knew they were there without having to look up.

“Voltaire…” the man said, continuing to scribble something down onto a piece of paper.

“I have brought my Grandson, Kai. He will stay here for you to train. I don’t want you to treat him any different from the other boys, but if you kill him, accidentally or otherwise, I will have your head and display it at the top of the tower of this God-forsaken building,” Voltaire warned.

“I understand, Voltaire,” the man said, standing.

Kai looked up at the man. He had purple hair, and a very prominent chin and cheekbones. He was also wearing the most terrifying pair of goggles with red lenses that Kai had even seen. Kai couldn’t help but take a step back as the man walked around his desk and came to stand in front of him and his Grandfather.

“So… Kai,” the man said, and held out his hand for Kai to shake. “I am Boris, director of this Abbey.”

Kai looked nervously at Boris’ outstretched hand, and received a clip around the ear from Voltaire.

“Shake his hand, boy!”

Wincing from his Grandfather’s order, Kai gingerly held out his hand, and gently gripped Boris’ hand, shaking it a little. Boris and Voltaire looked satisfied, and they began taking about their plans, none of which Kai could really understand. A knock on the door stopped their discussion, and Boris opened it to reveal a boy roughly a year older than Kai, with flaming red hair.

“Preehvyet*, sir,” the boy said to Boris.

“Good morning, Tala,” Boris replied.

Tala glanced at Kai and Voltaire, but said nothing. Boris noticed, and motioned at their visitors.

“I believe you’ve heard of Voltaire Hiwatari, Tala?” Boris asked, and Tala nodded. “This is his Grandson, Kai. He will be sharing your room.”

“But, sir-”

“No buts, Tala. Take him to your room immediately.”

“Yes, sir.”

Tala walked out of the office, and Voltaire pointed for Kai to follow the redhead. Kai did so, a little confused, and fell into step behind Tala, hearing the door close once they were out of the office. Kai wanted to ask Tala some questions, he wanted some answers, he wanted to know what he was doing here.

Tala led him through some dark and cold hallways, and eventually into a room that held two beds and not much else. Tala pointed to a bed in the far corner, and Kai went over to it and sat down. Tala sat on his own bed, and stared at Kai.

“Just because you’re Hiwatari’s Grandson, don’t think you’ll get special treatment,” Tala informed Kai.

“Erm… What is this place?” Kai asked, looking around, choosing not to ask what Tala meant.

“The Abbey. It’s where boys like us get trained up to Beyblade,” Tala replied, watching Kai curiously.

“Beyblade?” Kai repeated, scowling. “I liked to Beyblade when I was at home…”

“Well, if you don’t ‘blade to Boris’ standards here, you get… Disposed of,” Tala said, sneering evilly, hoping to scare the boy opposite him.


“Never mind.”

Kai stood up and walked around the room.

“You don’t have much in here, do you?”

“Not allowed much, that’s why,” Tala shrugged.

Kai walked over to Tala.

“Wow… Is that your real hair colour?” Kai asked, changing the subject quickly, without realising it, and pulling on a bit of Tala’s hair.

“Ow! Yes, it is.”

“It’s bright. And weird.”

“Yours isn’t normal either, kid.”

“‘Kid’? You’re not much older than me, y’know!”

“So? You’re still younger than me!”

“I’m the same height as you!”

“I’ll grow!”

“So will I!”

A little wrestling match broke out between Tala and Kai, and they fell onto the floor giggling. Tala forgetting that he had wanted to scare Kai a moment ago.

“Tala… You’re funny. You remind me of home a little, when my Dad used to play with me.”

“I am?”

Kai nodded, and Tala beamed.

“Hey, I stole these from Boris’ office one time,” Tala said, getting up and reaching under his bed. He pulled out some face paints. “Let’s paint our faces!”


“We’ll do like little markings or something. What colour do you want?”

“… I’ll have blue.”

Tala rubbed his finger in the paint, and drew two little triangles on Kai’s cheeks. Kai giggled as Tala drew them, wanting to scratch his face where it tickled. Kai then dipped his own finger into the orange, which Tala had wanted, and drew one triangle on each of Tala’s cheeks. Once they were both done, they looked at each other and giggled. They ran into the adjoining bathroom, and giggled some more as they looked at their reflections.

“Hey, those really suit you,” Tala said, poking one of the triangle on Kai’s cheeks.


“Yeah. I think you should draw them on more often,” Tala giggled again, and ran back into the bedroom.

Kai tilted his head and looked at his reflection more seriously. He had been snatched away from his family, brought to a new country, and been placed under the care and training of a man he didn’t even know. Kai touched his cheeks. These triangles were a way for him to hide away from it all.


A/N: *Preehvyet (Привет) - is ‘hello’ (informally).
I'm quite proud of this =)