A/N: My first official request, though admittedly not the first that I completed. I rather like how it came out. It's from Pixie, who rocks to high hell and should have an account up here but unfortunately does not. Shounen ai hints; Yuugi's POV on one of Jounouchi's little "issues." You know the one, guys.

"The Kindness Of Strangers"

"If you want to know someone, start by finding out what makes him mad."

~ Gon; "Hunter x Hunter"

I used to think that those bruises were from fights. He did get in a lot of them, after all.

I also used to believe in Santa Claus.

I give him the usual look; he ignores it like always. Or tries to, anyway. His grin flickers- he knows when I know. I'm sorry, but it's just so easy for me to tell. His smiles lack pride after his father's through with him. The bruises he earns in a fight, however, he appreciates. They teach him things and prove that he's both brave and a troublemaker. Both of those distinctions make him happy.

Nothing about his father makes him happy.

He gives me his own version of the "usual" look. The one that tells me he'd like to be crying in my arms as much as he likes to tell me that everything's okay. I can only sigh and take on the "kicked-puppy" expression, which gives him guilt over upsetting me and then makes ME feel guilty for upsetting HIM.

Damned irony. Why can't it go bother someone else for a while? Like a certain white-haired tomb robber- or at least somebody who doesn't live within twenty minutes of me?

He gets up from his chair without the usual fluid grace- his father probably clipped his leg with another hurtled bottle. He's gotten pretty good at ducking, but his dad's got a hell of an arm for a drunk. Irony again, I think, although I am not quite certain which particular type of irony is running our lives today.

Jounouchi, you know you can come to me, right? You can always come to me. It's not like I've got more important things to do or something.

After all, nothing was ever as important as Jounouchi, not even to my other me.

I think, if anything, that my other me loves Jounouchi even MORE than I do. I'd be jealous, except he is supposed to be me as everything I can become, and I would love to be able to give so much of my heart to someone as the other me can. I don't think the rest of the group even knows how much he feels for people. He is like Jounouchi in that way- loving deeply and passionately, but not explicitly stating his feelings.

It would be interesting to become my other me, but I think I'd prefer to be a little more open than he is. I want those I care for to know how I feel.

I want Jounouchi to know how I feel.

Even when we were strangers, fighting in our own odd little way- Jounouchi to make me "tough", and me to keep my cool- even then, it was so easy to like him. Not his methods or the things that he did, just him. Just Jounouchi as he was.

And then we became friends, and I discovered what a strange kindness it actually was, being strangers. When we were strangers, he was not flawed; when we were strangers I never knew how deeply he could suffer, how much he felt . . . well, everything. That remarkably brief and awkward time when we were just discovering each other's existences in the universe was so precious, and I never even knew it until now.

But now . . . now I can see him cry, even if he's hiding it. And for some reason, all the emotional baggage and misery and neediness are completely worth it, because I know him now.

And as awe-inspiring as it was to see him unflawed, he is even more beautiful now that I understand him. Now that my words hold the power to make him or break him, and his can do the same to me. I have never allowed anyone to get so close to me in my life.

I'm afraid that this is going to end in tears.

But oh, the fun we're going to have along the way.

* ende *

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