The Sun Scratched in the Stars
A Yu-Gi-Oh VRAINS fanfic
Summary: A boy on the run from a dangerous home situation falls asleep at a dojo in the countryside. Discovered and taken in by the owners, he grows to understand what love – and loss of that love – truly means, with the help of a rambunctious, fiery-spirited boy close to his age.
The days after were a dream.
Takeru still had to stay in the house and study for that entrance exam. And Daddy said nothing about when Takeru could roam about town once more or even when he could see Kiku again. He was tired of studying, of staring at the same thing for a long time and it not sticking to his brain. If this is what school was like but for even more hours, Takeru failed to see why he had to go.
But after Ryoken told Takeru that yes, he would stay, and yes, he would be his friend, none of it was so bad. While Takeru studied, he saw Ryoken through the window, planting in Ojii-chan and Obaa-chan's small garden, prepping the plants for the incoming cold. When Ojii-chan and Obaa-chan weren't looking, Ryoken would walk to the window and greet Takeru with a wave and the prettiest smile Takeru had ever seen, then scurry away before he could get caught. Takeru's heart, always beating too fast in his chest while he was awake, would slow down. Things at home were still all over the place, but, knowing Ryoken was around and wanted to be around him made it all go away, even for a little bit.
Takeru felt such peace being with Ryoken, peace he's never had before.
Takeru's favorite part, though, was when he and Ryoken would talk during lunch and dinner—as much as they could without getting caught. Takeru would talk about how boring studying was, and Ryoken would talk about his gardening and his reading. Takeru teased him, but, really, he admired and was even a little bit jealous of Ryoken for reading for fun. Takeru could never do that. Reading for studying was hard enough. But Ryoken could read books without being forced. That was amazing!
Takeru and Ryoken talked about serious things too, especially Ryoken's papa. Daddy could be scary—very scary. Compared to Ryoken's papa, though? Takeru was lucky. But even Takeru could tell Ryoken was trying not to talk badly about his papa, always blaming his papa's behavior on how he did. It was never his papa's fault—it was his. His papa was the greatest and could do no wrong. Then he would suddenly change what they were talking about.
Takeru could tell Ryoken was hiding something. The last thing Takeru wanted, though, was to make Ryoken feel sad, forcing him to say things he'd rather not say. But Mommy always said bottling so many bad feelings hurt the body. And Takeru wanted to help Ryoken. Friends helped friends. But he didn't know what to do.
Takeru was stuck.
So it happened that one, very cold day, Jii-jii called the house. Takeru knew it was Jii-jii not because he answered the phone—Takeru wasn't allowed to answer phones. But he knew from the way Ojii-chan talked, all gruff, all annoyed, all short-tempered. Takeru noticed Daddy, Ojii-chan, and Obaa-chan would be nice on the phone with everyone else. But when Jii-jii or Baa-baa answered the phones, they could be angry or cold. Takeru didn't understand why, but he knew Daddy, Ojii-chan, and Obaa-chan didn't like Jii-jii or Baa-baa very much. Mommy was the only one who talked nicely to Jii-jii and Baa-baa. And rarely would Daddy, Ojii-chan, or Obaa-chan let Takeru speak with them on the phone. Mommy was the only one who let him when they called.
But, that day, perhaps Ojii-chan forgot that unspoken rule among him, Obaa-chan, and Daddy.
"Takeru, could you come here?" Ojii-chan called. Takeru rolled to his feet and put his books on his desk, making his way towards the TV room. Ojii-chan handed Takeru the smooth black cord telephone and walked off.
"Ojii-chan?" Takeru asked, but Ojii-chan grumbled to himself, not hearing Takeru. Takeru stared for a few moments before he put the phone to his ear. "Jii-jii? It's me, Takeru."
"Takeru!" Jii-jii's loud voice boomed. He always talked like he was right next to Takeru, even over the phone. "How's my favorite grandson doing?"
Takeru sighed. Jii-jii never asked that question before a few weeks ago. It was weird!
"I'm your only grandson, Jii-jii," Takeru sighed.
Takeru's eyebrows shot up. "What that mean?"
But Jii-jii acted like he couldn't hear. The usual. "How's the studying going?"
"It's boooooring!" Takeru whined. "I dun wanna study anymore. It's too much."
"I get it," Jii-jii said. "But you want to get out of that small town, right? Going to school is the first step to that."
"That's not fair, Jii-jii! You didn't go to school, and you turned out okay!"
"The rules were different back in the day, Takeru." Jii-jii sighed, then said, "Very different. So that's not gonna work now," Jii-jii laughed, making Takeru even more frustrated.
"Okay, Jii-jii." Takeru made no effort to hide the disappointment in his voice.
"Let's talk about something else then," he said. "How're things with that other boy? What did Ryoko say you called him again . . . ?"
Takeru sighed. Jii-jii's forgetfulness could be really annoying, but that's not Jii-jii's fault. Mommy said to just be patient. And that's exactly what Takeru would be. For other old people, it'd be hard, but for Jii-jii, it's worth it.
"Yeah, that little squirt!" Takeru moved the phone away from his ear. "The two of ya gettin' along yet?"
"But we have to stay away from each other..." Takeru said, not knowing if Ojii-chan or Obaa-chan were around listening.
"That hasn't stopped you before, has it? You're as much of a rebel as I was when I was your age. You'd find a way," Jii-jii said.
Takeru smiled, pressing the phone harder against his ear. "You got me, Jii-jii. But please dun tell Mommy, okay? I dun want her to get in trouble."
Jii-jii paused. A soft chuckle. Takeru missed seeing Jii-jii so much. "I won't tell a soul, Takeru," A deep breath. "So I take it you two rascals are buddies now?"
"Uh-huh!" Takeru's mood changed entirely. "He's very weird. He likes reading for fun. I dun get that. But he's . . . he's a really nice boy." Takeru smiled. "Even though I said all those mean things to him, and I tease him, he still wants to be my friend."
"Ya got yourself a good friend, Takeru," Jii-jii said. "I'm happy for ya. 'specially after how ya two started out. Finally got to an understanding."
"About that..." Takeru sighed. "Jii-jii, I wanna ask you something."
"What is it?"
Takeru glanced around, then he put the phone back to his ear. "Say you had a friend. A friend you could tell anything to. And the friend could tell you anything back. But there's this one thing the friend keeps hiding. And you think it would be better for the friend if the friend just told you. But they won't." Takeru clutched the phone closer to his ear. "What would you do?"
At first, Jii-jii was silent, for a really, really long time. Ugh, he fell asleep again!
"Jii-jii, are you awake?" Takeru groaned.
"Yeah, yeah I am," he replied. That was unexpected. "Just thinking. That's a tough one, Takeru. But I have gone through that before."
"Yeah." Jii-jii's voice was soft. Very unusual. "Your friend... they sound a lot like my brother I've told you about. Foster brother, really, but he's like a blood brother to me. Nicest guy around. But he was always bottling things up, always keeping to himself. But he never talked or did anything like anything was wrong until it was too late. Or I thought it was too late. It worked out, but, to this day, it still hurts knowing I should've noticed sooner."
Takeru held the phone with both his hands. It was rare to hear Jii-jii get so sad. "Jii-jii…"
"Point is," Jii-jii continued, "you ain't even half the age I was when that happened, yet you already feel something's the matter. That's good." Takeru heard the smile in Jii-jii voice. "I guess if I were you, I wouldn't force it."
"Jii-jii, he's hurting!" Takeru said. "He can only keep all that inside for so long, right?"
"You're right. But if he hasn't told you yet, he has to have a good reason. If you make him talk too soon, it might make that thing worse."
Takeru relaxed his grip on the phone so he was holding it loosely. "But... it's hurting him now, Jii-jii." Takeru bit his bottom lip. "I dun want him hurting."
"I know, Takeru. Your heart's too big to ignore stuff like that." Jii-jii laughed. "Just like me. Just like Baa-baa. Just like your mommy. But not everyone's willing to talk about their feelings like we are."
Takeru sighed. "Or talk at all." That made Jii-jii laugh even more. For a good while too, until he started coughing.
"Jii-jii? Are you okay?" Takeru asked. Takeru heard the swish of water and gulping.
"Yeah, I'm good. Warn me next time before you crack good jokes like that!"
"Okay, Jii-jii." Takeru sighed.
"But, wow, your friend and he really are a lot alike," Jii-jii said. Then there was a pause. Takeru could hear running sink water in the background and Baa-baa's gentle humming. He really missed seeing them. Mommy said Daddy and Ojii-chan and Obaa-chan loved him. Of course Takeru believed Mommy. Mommy could never lie. But some days, it was easier to believe than others. But with Jii-jii and Baa-baa, Takeru never stopped believing that. It was so easy to see, the way Baa-baa would hug him tight when he stepped in the door or Jii-jii would ruffle his hair and crack a joke like "Now you look even more like me!"
Nothing like here.
"Jii-jii?" Jii-jii had stopped talking for a long while.
"Yeah, still here," he said. "Takeru, just let him have his space, okay? Don't make him talk if he doesn't want to."
Takeru sighed. "Okaaaay."
"But, if, when he does . . ." Jii-jii took a deep breath. Takeru heard Jii-jii swallow hard. " . . . no matter how ugly it gets, no matter how scary it gets, stay with him, okay?"
Takeru gripped the phone. "Okay."
Takeru and Jii-jii talked for a little while longer before Takeru heard Baa-baa's voice calling him. After thanking him and saying goodbye, Takeru hung up. He walked back to his room, sat at the low table and pulled out his colors notes, absentmindedly flipping to the blue page.
Takeru noticed the color, smiling to himself. It was one of the harder colors to remember the name of before, but now, the name came easily to Takeru's crowded brain. He used to never like that color. It made him sleepy every time he looked at it, and he didn't like being sleepy. But, after all this time, he accepted it, even liking it a little. The color wasn't out to get him. It wanted Takeru to slow down is all.
As Takeru turned the page to the next color, his mind wandered back to what Jii-jii had said, the color not in focus. Takeru knew Ryoken was hurting. He knew he wanted to help him. But Jii-jii had been right. Ryoken wasn't ready to talk about what was hurting him. All Takeru could do was wait, be that friend Ryoken never had.
Takeru was bad at waiting, but if it was for Ryoken, he could do it.
Then it started happening.
The daytime went on as usual. Takeru still secretly saw Ryoken as he studied, and they still talked during meals. But something about Ryoken was off, like he had no energy. He tried putting up a front, but Takeru knew something was wrong. Taking Jii-jii's advice, Takeru said nothing of it. If Ryoken stayed away from the subject, so would Takeru.
But, at nighttime, something was horribly, horribly wrong.
The first few nights, Takeru was too sound asleep to notice. But as his worry for Ryoken grew, he finally heard shuffling from the other side of the wall. Over and over and over again. Then came the groaning a few nights after. But, still, Ryoken said nothing, so Takeru said nothing.
Then came the muffled screaming.
At first, Takeru thought he was imagining it. It had been such a short sound. But the next night, it continued, and his heart broke. When Takeru heard nobody coming to help Ryoken, he made up his mind. Mommy and Daddy might not want them near each other for whatever reason, but to not help Ryoken when he needed it was too mean.
Takeru wanted—no, needed to be there for Ryoken, even if it meant getting caught, even if it meant being in huge trouble.
Takeru rubbed his eyes and walked to Ryoken's room.
Ryoken . . .
It'd been the same as all the other nights: Ryoken not seeing what was in front of him, Father's voice, Ryoken wanting to get away. But no matter where he turned, Father appeared. That was nothing new. But, in this dream, there was more than one Father, and they got closer.
"Ryoken, how could you?" All of the Fathers said, the voices pounding in Ryoken's head. "What happened to my dutiful son?"
"He's gone!" Ryoken spoke with unusual courage, heart pounding in his chest. "He's not coming back!"
"Ryoken . . . you can't escape your fate." Father and his mirages got closer, closer, closer.
"You'll regret this."
Ryoken was trapped.
"No. . . no, stop . . ." Ryoken's eyes watered. A rush of what felt like wind engulfed him, over, over, over again, his body hurting. He shut his eyes. He wanted out.
Whose voice was that? Ryoken still kept his eyes shut, but the voice kept calling out.
"Ryoken! Ryoken, wake up!"
Ryoken's eyes snapped wide open, his body chilled to the bone, his chest tight. Everything was fuzzy, as if he were still in that dream. He tried taking deep breaths, but he could only cough, abruptly sitting up and almost knocking someone in the head. The fuzz in Ryoken's head broke enough for him to remember where he was. He wasn't at Father's anymore. He was at the Homuras'.
And he had that horrible nightmare again.
"Ryoken..." a gentle voice broke through his blurred thoughts, guiding him further and further back into reality. Who was it? Ryoko? No, no, the voice was too high-pitched for it to be her. His eyes finally got used to the dark, the figure in front of him becoming clearer. The white and red hair, glowing in the moonlight, came into focus first, then the blue-gray eyes. Ryoken's heart beat faster.
"T-Takeru!" Tears poured down his face, and Ryoken immediately pulled his arms up to wipe his eyes, but Takeru grabbed them and pulled Ryoken towards him for a hug. It was suddenly warmer, a lot warmer, much like his first hug that he experienced. It was like the late summer sun was pulling him in, its healing warmth piercing every part of his body.
"Ryoken, it's okay now," Takeru whispered in his ear. "The bad dream is gone. I'm here."
Words wouldn't come out. This affection, this warmth—it was overwhelming. Ryoken gripped Takeru's white cotton shirt, hands shaking. Overwhelming as it was, he didn't want this to go away—he felt safe, the safest he's ever been in his life. And he didn't want to let go of that. He didn't want to let go of Takeru.
Or, rather, he didn't want Takeru to let go of him.
"T-Takeru, I'm scared. Don't go. Please. Don't leave me!"
Takeru held him close, as if the two could've been any closer. Takeru's calm heart beat against his rapid one until his rapid one synced with Takeru's.
"I won't let go of you, Ryoken," Takeru said. "I won't. Promise." Takeru put a hand behind Ryoken's head. "Any bad dreams, bad people, bad anything, will have to go through me."
"I...I-I..." Ryoken couldn't string a sentence together before he collapsed in Takeru's arms and cried, Takeru's soft, cotton shirt wettened by the tears. "Takeru! Takeru!" Such a mess he was making, but Takeru wasn't bothered by it at all, the way he pulled Ryoken close. Soft lips touched Ryoken's forehead, shocking Ryoken, eyes instantly drying. Ryoken pulled back but still held on to Takeru's arms. Takeru smiled.
"If you kiss what's hurting, it gets better in no time!" Takeru said with a grin that was brighter than the moon outside. Then he laughed. "That's what Mommy says."
"But Takeru—" Ryoken started. But something in Takeru's eyes stopped him.
"We need to sleep now, or we'll get in trouble," Takeru whispered as he pulled away slightly. But Ryoken tightened his grip on Takeru's arms. Even if Takeru was right there, Ryoken was afraid something bad would happen if he let go, like those nightmares coming back. As though reading Ryoken's mind, Takeru's hand moved and curled around Ryoken's as he laid face-up on the pillow, and Ryoken let him pull him down. Ryoken was surprised by the softness of Takeru's hand. It was even softer than the pillow.
Ryoken pulled Takeru's hand closer and put his other hand over it, protecting it. Takeru turned his head, smile still on his face.
"You can sleep, right?" Takeru whispered. Ryoken nodded. And in no time at all, Takeru fell asleep. Takeru's breathing in his ears and fingers intwined with Takeru's, Ryoken smiled as sleep called for him too.
At last, Ryoken realized why his heart had been so restless all this time. And he wasn't going to let him go.
Ryoko and Hito stood outside Takeru's room and stared. The door had been opened, but Takeru wasn't in the room. His bed was without its occupant, the Christmas gift from Dad tossed aside. Ryoko automatically assumed the worst.
"Hito, where's Takeru?" She couldn't hide the intense worry in her voice. If anything happened to Takeru, she would never forgive herself.
Hito said not a word as he looked around, touching the windowsill, the closet, the dresser. He sighed. A lump formed in Ryoko's throat. Ryoko had heard some shuffling and a door being opened, and it scared her, thinking someone had broken in, so she woke Hito and said they had to check things out, make sure everything was alright. But this, this wasn't what she was expecting.
"Hito..." Ryoko bit her bottom lip.
"We'll find him, Ryoko," he said. "We'll turn this house upside down if we have to."
Ryoko nodded, trying to keep herself together. On a whim, she walked to the next room, Ryoken's room, and put a hand to the handle. She and Hito looked at each other before she opened the door to find her son asleep on the floor . . . next to Ryoken.
"I thought I told those two to—" Hito moved forward, his voice getting louder, but Ryoko held an arm in front and shushed him. It didn't make sense to her either, but she had noticed Takeru was spending a lot more time in his room, more than he usually liked. At first, she thought he finally got serious about studying for the entrance exam, but knowing how much he took after her and her side of the family, that just didn't seem likely. After all, he was only supposed to study and sleep in that room.
But then, she heard him and Ryoken talking to each other, but in their rooms. She wanted so much to stop them, thinking they were fighting, thinking that night was going to repeat itself. But then she heard it—Takeru and Ryoken laughing together.
"Ya gotta leave those kids alone," Dad had told her after she told him. "You and that pigheaded husband of yours. Separating kids like that isn't good. They need the interaction. And they'll find ways to get it, whether you and that numbskull like it or not."
The insults against Hito aside, Ryoko tried to defend her and Hito's actions, but Dad insisted that keeping them apart wasn't good. It didn't make sense. Ryoko had told him what happened that night, why they were separated. She didn't understand why he would say that.
But, seeing Takeru and Ryoken together, it was all clear.
"Ryoko!" Hito protested, but Ryoko only pointed to the two sleeping, Ryoken's hands wrapped around Takeru's hand.
"Hito, they've completely outsmarted us," Ryoko said, smiling. "For the better. They need each other. Just let them be."
"But Ryoko—" he said, but she shushed him as Ryoken moved slightly in his sleep.
"We should go back to bed," Ryoko said. "We've done more than enough."
Hito sighed as he turned and walked away. Ryoko stayed put. She sat on her knees, threading Takeru's hair behind his ears as well as Ryoken's. A tired smile rested on her face as she put her hand on top of theirs.
She might not have understood how they started getting along, but she wasn't about to question it. If Takeru was happy, then she was too.
"Sweet dreams, you two."