I have posted this before, at Beyblade_fics I think... but since I hope to have a sort of little archive here...^^
The story is set around GRev 11, when Claude gets spiked in the arm. It's just a drabble about a different perspective on the Coach.
Barthez half helped, half carried Claude out of the stadium. His worried teammates hovered around him. His arm was painful and bleeding profusely. The crowd were booing the PPB All Stars and their roar filled the stadium; the performance was perfect and flawless. But through all of this confusion, Claude became aware as their team neared the tunnel of the Russian Team watching him closely. Red headed Yuri wore a shrewd frown. Boris glared at Barthez with a psychotic gleam in his eye. Claude wondered vaguely what their expressions meant as he was born away. Why did they look at him like that? Shame rose up inside him. They knew, somehow they knew. They must do. He looked away, pretending worse pain to hide his guilt.
A few hours later, he found out for certain.
The weather in New York was hot and sultry but the aircon made the stadium somewhat cold; the contrast was making Claude feel nauseous and his arm ached badly. He slipped away from his team and went out into the quiet backstage corridors to go to the toilet, find a drink and generally enjoy a few moments on his own before the team grabbed their bags and returned to their hotel to make ready to fly to Europe. That was when he found himself cornered by the Russian team.
They were as intimidating in person as in the stadium. Yuri, Boris and Sergei (Sergei was huge!) circled round him - Kai stood off by himself, but Claude could see him watching. It was a vulnerable position to be in. Lightweight and alone and injured, encircled by one of the most infamous teams on the circuit, reknown for their ruthless behaviour. But before Claude could make a move or a sound, Yuri spoke to him.
"Why did you throw the battle?"
Claude's heart froze. He felt slightly queasy. They did know then. At least they hadn't said anything. Yet.
Yuri was peering at him with a cool curiosity.
"I....was hurt", Claude stumbled uncomfortably over his rehersed words.
"Bullshit", said Boris.
Yuri smirked. "Ah, the official line. Let me rephrase the question. Why did you do what he told you even though it got you hurt?"
Claude was sure that he was white as a sheet.
"I have *very* good hearing", Yuri said, "...and I quite clearly heard him tell you to stand your ground. I think he would have liked it if you'd been impaled. Wouldn't that have been a great show? So. Why did you do it?"
Claude could not say anything. He stood there like a mute staring at Yuri dumbly.
"Are you being threatened?", Sergei asked suddenly.
Claude turned to look at him.
"Against every normal instinct, you stood your ground", Yuri said, "...even though you were clearly crapping yourself, and you took the fall. So. Incurring your Master's wrath frightens you more than the possibility of getting a three foot spike through your arm? Why?"
"It's certainly interesting", said Boris smoothly. "How could he possibly have you that worried?"
"He's not worried", Kai contributed without moving or looking up, "...or scared. He's just a good soldier following the orders of his commander. Isn't that right?"
"Sounds familar. Good soldiers. 'Yes Sir!'. Mmhm", Yuri was smirking again.
Now the light began to shine in Claude's head. Of course he'd read about the past of the infamous Neoborg - everyone knew about Balkov Abbey, about it's 'training' regime, about the 'coach' Balkov...he began to wonder if this wasn't some weird gesture of solidarity.
"I'm alright", he ventured.
Yuri tipped his head and studied Claude. "Are you?", he asked. The rest of Neoborg were silent and watchful.
"We don't like people like Barthez", Yuri said flatly.
"You should go to Dickenson and turn him over", Sergei said, "and get yourselves out before one of you gets really hurt."
"Before Barthez gets really hurt", said Boris.
"That could happen", said Yuri.
Claude glanced around to see Miguel hurtling down the corridor towards them. Neoborg didn't so much as move a muscle. They didn't even look round.
"You OK?!", Miguel was slowing down. He looked red, angry, unsure how to beat off this circle of predators.
"We're fine, it's fine", Claude said, "They...we were just talking about...."
"Survival", Yuri cut him off, finishing his sentence, "...and other mutual interests."
Yuri stepped back and Boris and Sergei turned away and began to walk off. Kai followed them, his scarf billowing out behind him.
"Think about it Claude", said Yuri, "...and I'm sure I'll see you around."
With that he turned around and followed his team.
Miguel hurried up.
"Shit, are you OK? Christ, I thought they were going to pulp you for sure! That guy Boris - he's crazy! You know what he did to Rei Kon and that was with thousands of people watching!...Man...man, you've got so lucky..."
"I don't think they wanted to hurt me...", Claude said uncertainly, "I think they were sort of...worried..."
Miguel gave him a look that said 'you have to be kidding me!'.
"No, seriously...I think...they...the Commander and that guy Balkov, their old coach...I think...they just wanted to see if I was...OK. But they know about the stunt".
"Will they say anything?" Miguel said quietly.
"I don't think they will", Claude said.....