Disclaimer: Plain and simple. I do not own Yugioh.
A/N: This is a Y/Y. And this will be your only warning. I understand and accept if you don't like yaoi. All I ask is that you treat me with the same respect that I am treating you. Do not read knowing you won't like it, and then blame me for writing it.
Other couples may be hinted at, depending on what my readers want.
Yuugi and the gang are around 20 years old. Other ages will be announced if they have any relevance to the story.
Questions and comments are welcomed. Feel free to email me. And most of all, enjoy!
Fly Away Home
Chapter One: Landing
Though the newspaper could be seen, the sound of its rustling pages could not be heard over the hustle and bustle of the people outside.
At any given time, the airport was filled with people; some on their way to fulfill life long dreams, others out to seek a temporary escape from the mundane routine their lives had taken, still others returning home after a long absence. The reasons for departure were as varied as the people who took to the air to leave their fair cities behind.
Taking a sip from the styrofoam cup that held an excessively bitter brew of coffee, Kenta leisurely turned to the sports section of his newspaper. Noting with disinterest the results of the latest high school clash, he continued his lazy perusal of what reporters deemed to be the worthy news of Domino City, Japan. Kenta, as his name implied, was a rather stout and portly man, with a three-day shadow grazing his face and salt-and-pepper hair that hung limply in his eyes. His appearance exuded an aura of indifference. Passengers hardly noticed the man behind the wheel of the taxi, often missing the spark of intelligence in the older gentleman's gray eyes as he listened indiscreetly to their conversations.
And that was why Kenta loved being a taxi driver. Upon the death of his late wife, Kenta had withdrawn into a hastily crafted shell. His children were unable to coax him from his prison; the pain of his loss held the weight of the vast ocean on his shoulders. Yet gradually, as the months of seclusion slowly passed by, Kenta began to feel the tug of the outside world. The allure of life diligently pursued him until he was unable to resist, reluctantly shedding his shroud of despair and replacing it with the slightly lighter cloak of depression.
After trying many different professions – Kenta was turned down many times due to his 'unfavorable' personality – he settled on the highly needed and greatly unappreciated profession of the taxi driver. The job surprisingly became Kenta's liberation. He no longer boarded himself in his house, closing the blinds and blocking all light from invading his dark haven. Instead, Kenta now had a reason to show his face to the world. Listening to the idle talk of passengers allowed Kenta to live dozens of lives he no longer had the energy or desire to experience on his own. It was the perfect solution.
A shrill noise made it's way to Kenta's ears. With a sigh, he placed his potent cup of coffee into the designated cup holder and folded his newspaper on the passenger's seat before slowly rolling his taxi in front of the young couple that had caught his attention. He noted with slight amusement in his eyes a metallic whistle grasped in a slender hand of a woman, while her male companion stood with both hands clasped tightly against his ears.
Placing his car in 'park,' Kenta hefted himself from his vehicle and made his way to the trunk, glancing at the unusual luggage the young couple had piled around them. Numerous art supply boxes hid the feet of his newest passengers, adorned with large art cases, a gym bag, and various other luggage. With a curt wave of his hand, Kenta summoned the pair over.
"Just gettin' in?"
Kenta asked the question absently as he took the bag handed to him by the young man. His companion had remained on the curb, energetically talking on the cell phone she had produced from her purse. She was pretty enough; Kenta mused – good enough for a once-over, but nothing to write home about. Her once styled brown hair danced roughly about her face, led by the fierce wind created as the traffic of the airport sped past at an alarming rate.
After casting a slightly irritated look over his shoulder, the youth standing beside Kenta answered him with a soft "hai" before returning to the curb to retrieve more of his luggage. He returned promptly and, with a slight smile and shake of his head, refused the hand Kenta offered and placed his luggage in the trunk himself. This procedure was repeated until all the luggage, save one special piece that the youth insisted upon carrying on his lap, was placed in the trunk of the taxi. Kenta then returned to his position behind the wheel while his two passengers climbed into the back of the vehicle. After a quick inquire as to destination, Kenta slowly guided the car away from the curb.
Idly sneaking a glance in his rear-view mirror, Kenta took a moment to assess the two that occupied his back seat. Turning his eyes from the young woman who was still talking on her phone, he moved to take a closer look at the man sitting beside her. The most outstanding feature, of course, was his hair. Long and black, the strands of hair radiated from the youth's head defiantly, effectively blocking half of Kenta's view out his rear window. The ends of his hair were tinted with a deep violet color, insuring that no eye could miss the distinguishing cut. Blonde bangs, shaped to resemble forked lightening, framed the youthful face. Combined with the unusual color of his eyes, the affect was that of an avid punk rocker.
'Too bad,' Kenta thought with a disappointed sigh. 'He seemed like such a nice boy.'
Casting a glance to the road in front of him in time to stop for a red light, Kenta continued his silent observation. Even in his sitting position, Kenta could tell that the boy was on the shorter side, no matter what his age. Absently assigning an age of twenty, he truly noticed for the first time the eyes of this young commuter. Striking round eyes were turned towards the window, absorbing every detail that passed within their view. Their color was stunning, resembling that of an iris, and doing the flower every bit of justice. There was a petal softness that most eyes did not contain. And yet, as Kenta continued to stare into those unusually hypnotic eyes, there was one trait that did not belong with which he was all too familiar.
Many thought that loneliness was nothing more than a momentary condition, easily curable by surrounding one's self with people. And though this was true for some, the remedy was wholly insufficient for those who suffered from true desolation of the soul. A longing to be seen, or heard, or even genuinely noticed by anymore. The loss of a loved one could produce such a need.
Or never having found that one perfect love.
Kenta's musings were interrupted as the young woman with the ocean blue eyes ended her phone conversation and turned to her companion, gaining his attention as she softly cleared her throat.
"That was Michi-kun. She wanted to make sure our flight got in okay," she said quietly. The young man smiled slightly and nodded. "Are you happy to be home, Yuugi-chan?"
Yuugi shifted in his seat so he could better address his companion, readjusting his bundle and leaning back against the side of the car. Taking her hand in his, he gave his reply. "Hai, I am. It's so quiet here compared to New York. And I can't wait to see Ji-chan again."
A pause. "I'm sure he's just as anxious to see you," Anzu replied.
This remark was rewarded with a fuller smile from Yuugi. Kenta was surprised at the dramatic change in Yuugi's features as the smile lit his face and brightened his eyes. The look of loneliness, for a fleeting moment, left him and was replaced with pure happiness. His gaze softened as he considered his next words.
"I can't believe we were gone for so long, Anzu-chan. Too long. I shouldn't leave him alone like that," Yuugi whispered.
At this, Anzu removed her hand from Yuugi's, heaving a tired sigh in the process. She turned her body to face away from him, though not closing him off completely. The happiness was gone from Yuugi's eyes as he lowered his gaze to his hands. Kenta recognized these actions for what they were; well rehearsed movements for a well-rehearsed argument.
"You have a right to live, Yuugi," Anzu said. Yuugi shifted uncomfortably as she continued. "He's a grown man. He can take care of himself. He doesn't need you-"
"Yes he does," Yuugi interrupted. His tone was stern, but edged with signs of fatigue. "He's not well, Anzu. You know that as well as I do. He tries to convince me he's fine, but that's just who he is. He doesn't want me to worry." He then proceeded more softly. "Ji-chan doesn't have much time left. Why is it wrong for me to want to spend his remaining time with him?"
Anzu sighed again, bringing a hand to her face. It was the same question Yuugi asked every time they had this argument. Though this time he had asked much earlier than usual. The flight back from New York had been hard on both of them, and now was not the time for a heated quarrel.
Turning so that she once again faced Yuugi, Anzu leaned forward and rested her head on his shoulder, careful to avoid the large art bag in his lap. She gently clasped the same hand she had released earlier. Yuugi closed his eyes and rested his head on top of hers.
"We're both tired. Let's not do this now," Anzu pleaded. Yuugi nodded his head slightly in agreement, relieved that the argument had not progressed further. He simply did not have the energy to continue.
A short while later, which had been spent in silence by all occupants of the car, the taxi came to a stop in front of a store. It was a modest two-story building with a large window on the ground floor housing display shelves that proudly presented their merchandise to potential customers. In large letters above the door the name of the store was prominently displayed: 'Kame Game Shop.' A sign on the door proclaimed that the store was closed but would open early the following morning.
Kenta looked at the building skeptically, turning his questioning eyes to the couple behind him.
"My grandfather owns the store. We live on the second floor," Yuugi explained.
A soft grunt was all the acknowledgement Yuugi received as he and Anzu exited the vehicle and proceeded to unload their luggage. Again, Yuugi refused Kenta's help, not wanting the older man to injure himself, much to Kenta's displeasure. He relied partially on the tips passengers would give him when he aided them with their luggage, and begrudged the young man for keeping him from earning the extra profit.
So he was thoroughly surprised when, after being paid for the ride from the airport, a generous amount of yen was placed in his hands. Again, he stared questioningly into cool violet eyes, looking for an explanation. Yuugi simply smiled, and with a sincere "arigato," grabbed his luggage and followed Anzu into the store. Kenta watched them go from the curb before returning to his taxi. Many thoughts traversed through his mind, most concerning Yuugi and the unexpected kindness he had shown him. His actions were not what Kenta had expected from the man with the punk rock hair. This was not the only fact that had left Kenta a little bewildered.
"He lives above a Duel Monsters store?"
If the prestige of one's home was an implication of the success of its owner, then by all accounts Motou Sugoroku was not a wealthy man. His home consisted of a small dwelling hidden behind an equally small store. The store in and of itself was marginally successful, better known for the kind elderly man who would sit behind the counter and greet each customer with a sincere smile than for its market value. Other stores were larger, more elaborately furnished, and far more commercialized than the privately owned Kame Game Shop could ever be, drawing the business away from the little neighborhood store.
But there were those few and faithful that preferred the friendly and familiar atmosphere that the cozy store was able to provide, and so were willing to overlook the smaller variety offered and the slightly higher prices needed to keep the store alive. And because of these people, Sugoroku was able to provide a comfortable living for himself and his grandson Yuugi. Neither was concerned with wealth or prestige, content with the fact that they were able to spend their lives promoting their shared passion for Duel Monsters. Though they did so through two completely different venues.
While Sugoroku dedicated his time to the selling of the cards that comprised the game, Yuugi had discovered that he had a remarkable talent for painting. Not wanting to waste this ability, he decided to use his gift to create paintings that brought the cards to life. He was able to take the rather plain, two-dimensional drawings found on the cards and transfer them onto what had been described as a 'living canvas.' Yuugi was able to envision what the monsters inscribed on the cards would look like if they were living, breathing entities that could move and dance as well as the duelists who played the game.
Yuugi was by no means famous for his artwork, but his popularity was growing as the card game itself became more renowned. His paintings were sought after mostly by those who followed the game, and that market was rapidly growing. Within his own community, Yuugi had become somewhat a local celebrity, the citizens of Domino City anxious to embrace someone who could bring a little fame to their name. The fact that he was Sugoroku's son aided in the success the game shop celebrated. On a few selected days during the week, Yuugi would set up his easel and paints within the boundaries of the store, in part so he could greet his fans, but mostly so he could spend time with his grandfather.
Currently, Sugoroku was sitting in an overly stuffed easy chair in the small living room of his home. His gray hair, proudly displaying the Motou family gene of defiance of gravity, drooped slightly around his face. Once strikingly violet eyes, dulled with the passage of time, slowly perused the book in front of them. Low music could be heard in the background, and a rather old and particularly loud grandfather clock 'tick - tocked' against the far wall.
"Aww, Ji-chan, I was hoping by the time I returned, you would have passed through your country music phase."
Not raising his eyes from his book, Sugoroku chuckled as he gestured towards a large bookcase that looked to house numerous photo albums. "Need I remind you of some of the more... interesting phases you passed through that I, your beloved grandfather, endured with remarkable patience and understanding?" Turning towards his grandson, Sugoroku raised an eyebrow for emphasis.
Yuugi vehemently shook his head as he placed his luggage on the floor. "Iie, onegai. I don't think I could handle that right now. You know, jet-lag and all." With a brilliant smile, Yuugi rushed forward and threw himself at his grandfather, hugging him tightly. Sugoroku returned the embrace just as forcefully, abandoning his book for the beaming adoration of his grandson.
After a few moments, Sugoroku loosened his hold on Yuugi, and turned towards the young woman standing before him. "Hello Anzu. It is a pleasure to see you again, my dear."
Anzu nodded her head, a slight smile forming at the corner of her lips as she too leaned forward and embraced the older man gently. After giving her own greeting, she stepped back and walked into the small kitchen that rested off the living room. Yuugi watched her go before turning his attentions back to his grandfather.
"So, tell me all about it, Yuugi. How was New York?" Sugoroku inquired.
Yuugi lowered himself to the floor, sitting cross – legged in front of his grandfather. He sighed before answering, his voice low. "Same as it always is, I guess." He lowered his head to stare at the hands he had folded in his lap. "Loud. Busy. It truly is the city that never sleeps. You can never stop when you're there. It's extremely tiring."
Sugoroku softened his gaze as he listened to Yuugi's words. Each time he returned, the boy was a bit more melancholy, a touch more drained than he had been before he left. It was painfully obvious to Sugoroku that Yuugi did not like New York. He was a quiet boy raised in a small town, and that was were he belonged. Grandeur simply did not fit the personality of Motou Yuugi. And yet, he would subject himself to the harsh environment once a month in order to make his girlfriend happy. It was simply Yuugi's nature. He always placed the needs of others before himself, and would not be deterred from such actions. It was a trait that Sugoroku both admired and hated in his grandson. Yuugi's heart was large enough to encompass the entire world.
But Yuugi seemed unable to find room in his heart for himself.
"Yuugi-chan, may I speak with you for a moment?" Anzu asked from the kitchen.
After giving a small smile to his grandfather, Yuugi rose from the floor to answer the call. Watching him leave, Sugoroku couldn't stop the slight frown that formed on his face. He was worried at the sadness he had seen in the once happy eyes of his grandson. The happy and energetic child he had known was slipping away, being replaced by a withdrawn and distant copy. Spurts of happiness would shine in those brilliant eyes on occasion, but those occasions were growing few and far between. Mostly, they centered on Sugoroku.
Having raised Yuugi since he was a toddler, Sugoroku was the only family that Yuugi had ever known. His parents were never meant to have children. Materialistic and vain, they found little time to spend with their newborn son, preferring to attend outlandish parties and travel the world. A baby did not fit in with their lifestyle, and instead of inconveniencing themselves, they decided it would be easier to simply rid themselves of their problem.
Sugoroku had eagerly adopted Yuugi when his daughter and son-in-law had approached him. It was an action he had never regretted. The love and warmth the small boy had brought to his life was invaluable, and Sugoroku would do anything for him. A part of him never forgave his daughter for abandoning her son for her own selfish desires, but a part of him was grateful for that selfishness. Without it, Yuugi would never have been such an integral part of his life.
A letter would arrive infrequently from Yuugi's parents; insincere inquiries as to health and welfare, a brief summary of the latest events, and well wishes were the contents of the letters. Impersonal to the point of being insulting. The latest return address announced that the couple now resided somewhere in Africa. An exact location was never volunteered.
Sugoroku surmised that this was the main reason behind Yuugi's selfless nature. One heart-breakingly-insightful moment had come when Yuugi was eleven years old, and he had asked his grandfather a simple question.
"Ji-chan, can I choose not to become my parents?"
Yuugi had been afraid that he was destined to become his parents. The pain he had endured as a result of their actions had lead Yuugi to a firm belief that it was wrong to hurt anyone. For any reason. He hadn't wanted to be selfish like his parents, because selfishness caused pain and hurt. Yuugi didn't want his pain to ever be experienced by anyone else, especially by his own doing.
Sugoroku had never admired his grandson more than he had at that moment. The strength required to admit that you don't want to be a certain way, and the courage needed to take actions to ensure that outcome never becomes a reality, were traits that eluded most adults. And here was an eleven-year old boy, willing and ready to become who he wanted to be. Yuugi had always been an exceptionally intelligent boy, and at that moment, his intellect had shone with the brilliance of the sun.
However, the answer that Sugoroku had given Yuugi had had an unforeseen side affect. This is where Yuugi's inability to place his needs before others originated. Having been told to consider the needs of others before choosing his actions, Yuugi had come to see ever considering his desires as being selfish and over time came to rarely consider himself at all.
This brought Sugoroku back to the current situation.
Masaki Anzu, Yuugi's girlfriend of four years, wanted to be a ballet dancer. It was a passion carried over from childhood, and her desire only increased as she grew older. Her best chance of becoming a famous dancer resided in New York, home of one of the world's best ballet studios. Yuugi had accompanied her on her first visit to the studio, where Anzu had immediately fallen in love with the American city. She had grown restless in the small city of her birth. The cultural variety and excitement of New York had drawn her as a moth to a flame. Anzu was determined to achieve her dream.
And herein lied the problem. Anzu wanted to be a dancer. Yuugi a painter. She loved large cities, bright lights, and lots of activity. He enjoyed quiet evenings and familiar surroundings. Anzu wanted to expand her horizons and travel. Yuugi thought he could grow without having to leave his hometown. She had no ties binding her to Domino City. He had an elderly grandfather he loved more than anything in the world.
Masaki Anzu wanted to move to New York City.
Motou Yuugi did not.
Sugoroku could hear voices coming from the kitchen. However their discussion had begun, emotions were starting to emerge in the voices of Anzu and Yuugi. The volume was steadily rising, and Sugoroku had a sneaking suspicion he knew what the couple was arguing about. Occasionally, he could make out what was being said. They were all words he had heard before. Words he had used when he had argued with his late wife. The words in themselves did not hold much meaning; rather it was the tone in which they were said that mattered.
He could hear the fatigue in both of their voices. Why they were arguing now was a mystery to him. Yuugi had insisted that he and Anzu not argue in front of his grandfather, but as the arguments had become more frequent, that rule seemed to no longer apply. Suddenly, the argument took a turn for the worst. The words were beginning to matter.
"I just don't understand why we can't, Yuugi. There is nothing keeping us here!"
A knot began to form in Sugoroku's stomach. A remark like that could only mean one thing. Anzu had mentioned moving to New York again, and again Yuugi had refused. The compromise for the past year had been the monthly commute between cities. And it was beginning to take a financial toll on the Motou family. Yuugi made some kind of response, one that Sugoroku could not understand. Whatever he had said, Anzu did not appreciate the words.
"That's bullshit, and you know it," she said hotly.
Yuugi flinched at both the words and tone of Anzu's voice. She was more upset than usual, having attacked Yuugi directly rather than trying to convince him of the advantages of moving to New York. Yuugi himself was becoming angry, something he desperately tried not to do. Few had ever seen him truly angry; most would be surprised to know that he was capable of the emotion. There was a good reason Yuugi hid is anger from the world. He did not like the person he became when the anger took control. Fueled by his pain and sense of loneliness, when he allowed himself to become angry, Yuugi was down right vicious.
Anzu remained silent as she watched Yuugi's features harden, his jaw clench and his eyes narrow at the corners. She had been with Yuugi long enough to recognize the warning. Through his body language, he was telling her that she was on the verge of going to far. He turned, much to her surprise, and walked stiffly back into the living room. Following slowly, Anzu found Yuugi standing rigidly next to his grandfather.
"Ji-chan," Yuugi said. He waited for Sugoroku to acknowledge him before continuing. "Ji-chan, I want you to be completely honest with me." Again, Sugoroku nodded, more slowly this time. "How would you feel about me moving to New York?"
Sugoroku looked his grandson in the eye. Even though he had been expecting Yuugi to ask him this question for many months now, he was unable to answer. Stealing a glance at Anzu, he noticed her nervous posture. When their eyes meet, he could tell she was pleading with him to say it was a good idea. She was looking for support, and he wasn't sure if he could give it to her. He had known Anzu for many years and thought fondly of her. She had been Yuugi's first friend, and had become his first love. But even this fondness could not keep him from feeling some contempt for the woman for trying to push his Yuugi into doing something that would make him miserable. Yuugi came first in his eyes. He didn't want to see him hurt, but he didn't wish to see Anzu hurt either.
Yuugi watched his grandfather coolly, betraying little emotion. He could sense his hesitation, and decided to amend his question. "Do you want me to move, Ji-chan?"
This was a question Sugoroku could answer easily.
"I want you to be happy, Yuugi."
A small smile crept its way onto Yuugi's face. It amazed him still how his grandfather always knew what to say. The simplest words sounded like the greatest wisdom when spoken by his grandfather. He hoped that one day he would have that skill.
Yuugi turned and regarded Anzu, whose features had fallen at Sugoroku's words. She knew in her heart that Yuugi would never move to New York unless he had his grandfather's blessing, and only then with great cajoling on both their parts. She had lost this battle.
"It's getting late. Let me take you home so you can rest and unpack," Yuugi said as he moved past Anzu to gather her luggage. She nodded quietly, and Yuugi felt a pang of guilt at the harshness of his tone. Looking over his shoulder at her, he spoke more gently. "I'll pick you up later, around seven or so, and we can go have a nice, quiet dinner. How does that sound?"
Lifting her blue eyes to look at him, Anzu nodded her head, a genuine smile on her face.
"I'd like that."
The streetlights dimly lit the quiet neighborhood that housed the numerous apartment buildings. "Shoebox stock," as the locals had come to affectionately call the cramped housing that lined the pavement, was a stepping stone for young individuals ready to leave their homes and venture out into the world. The community was geared towards support; a gentle weaning of the dependence placed upon the family and a redirection of that energy onto the establishment of one's self.
Within one such building, in a small and modestly decorated room, Anzu and Yuugi were curled on a loveseat sound asleep. After having dinner, the couple had returned to Anzu's apartment, succumbing to the fatigue of their flight. Light from the muted television played across their features, creating intricate patterns of shadows that highlighted the pair.
Shifting in his sleep, Yuugi woke himself when his leg fell with a 'thud' off the couch and onto the floor. Blinking slowly, he looked around the room trying to identify his surroundings. His eyes froze on the TV as confusion enveloped his fogged mind for a moment. Tilting his head to the side, Yuugi tried to comprehend the meaning of the small, square, and yellow cartoon sponge on the screen, wearing a pair of underpants on its head.
Shaking his head slightly, Yuugi decided that he did not want to understand the imagery before him. Looking down at Anzu, whose head was resting against his chest as his arm was draped lightly around her waist, Yuugi's eyes caught sight of the clock that rested on the coffee table. A loud groan emanated from his throat, effectively waking the woman sleeping against him.
"Hmm... What is it, Yuugi?" Anzu asked through her yawn.
Yuugi brought a hand to his face, rubbing his eyes before pulling his hand back through his hair. Motioning he wanted to stand, he removed his arm from Anzu and brought his weight onto his feet. Apparently, his feet had not received the message.
"Yuugi! Are you okay?" Anzu asked.
An embarrassed mumble from the sprawled form on the floor was her reply. "Hai... guess my foot fell asleep." Yuugi again tried to stand and this time, with a bit of luck (and numerous stompings of his foot), he was able to make his way to a fully erect position. He then proceeded to gather his coat and keys. A tired query caught his attention.
"It's late, Anzu," Yuugi said as he gestured towards the clock. In bright, red numbers, the time of 1:30 in the morning was proudly displayed. "I need to get home. Ji-chan's probably worried."
Anzu suppressed a sigh as she straightened herself on the couch. All the years she had known Yuugi, his life had always revolved around his grandfather. Sugoroku never demanded such attention from his grandson. He tried to encourage Yuugi to enjoy himself and not spend so much of his time worrying about 'the old man at home' with little success. Yuugi's devotion could not be shaken.
Anzu stood and made her way over to Yuugi, who in his sleepy haze was attempting to put his right foot into his left shoe. As fond as she was of him, Anzu was becoming increasingly irritated with Yuugi's insistence that Sugoroku came first. Granted, she cared deeply for the older man who had shown her such kindness. But she was Yuugi's girlfriend... shouldn't she come first once in a while?
Sighing, Anzu knelt before Yuugi and removed the wrongly placed shoe. "Must you go? You're so tired you can't see straight."
Yuugi nodded his slightly, straightening his jacket after correctly placing his shoes on his feet. "I've been looking forward to sleeping in my own bed for two weeks now," he said quietly.
Holding back her disappointment, Anzu went to the kitchen to retrieve her cordless phone. She wasn't surprised by Yuugi's choice. It was the same choice he had always made. At first, she had agreed whole heartily. She knew the bond that Yuugi shared with his grandfather. But now, as her feelings for Yuugi had grown, Anzu was no longer as eager to support her boyfriend's choices.
Walking back to Yuugi, she handed him the phone. "Here, Yuugi. At least call a cab to take you home. You can pick up your car tomorrow." Anzu looked at him pleadingly.
Looking at the phone for a minute, Yuugi raised his head and smiled softly. If that was what Anzu wanted, then he would do it for her.
After calling the cab company and kissing Anzu goodnight, Yuugi now found himself standing on the sidewalk next to a street light. A cold breeze sauntered by, encouraging Yuugi to pull his jacket tighter around himself. Underneath the light, he was unable to gaze at the stars above him. The stars had always been a source of comfort for Yuugi. He was never quite sure why. Perhaps the knowledge that they would always be there, or the crystal clear light that they offered...
Yuugi was stirred from his thoughts as he heard a car rounding a corner. Raising his head to see if it was the taxi that he had called for, he was greeted instead by a exceedingly bright pair of headlights. Clamping his eyes shut and groaning lightly, he shook his head to clear the spots from his vision as the car pulled to a stop in front of him. Reaching out his hand and grabbing the cold metal of the door handle, Yuugi quickly pulled himself into the cab.
Closing his eyes, Yuugi allowed himself to sink into the seat as the warmth of the cab surrounded him. Without meaning to, he began to fall asleep before telling the driver his destination.
"I hope you are headed home at this hour, Yuugi."
Yuugi jumped at the sound of his name. Casting a weary eye towards the front of the car, he hesitantly answered the driver with a nod of his head. He rose an eyebrow as the driver chuckled.
"Don't look so surprised, son. I never forget the face of someone who gives me that big of a tip."
Releasing a large sigh of relief, Yuugi again fell back against his seat. Now he recognized the driver. It was the same man that had driven him and Anzu home from the airport. Realizing how long ago that had been, he turned a questioning gaze to the gentleman.
"Double shift," Kenta replied as he pulled his car away from the curb and headed towards the game shop. He laughed at the irony that he was driving the same boy as earlier that afternoon. He hadn't been able to get the young man out of his mind since their meeting; a feeling of familiarity haunted him as violet eyes encompassed his thoughts. And now he knew why.
"Your Motou Yuugi, aren't ya? That local painter of ours," he said. Yuugi nodded his head, his eyes closed and his head propped against the window. "You've got real talent."
"Arigato," Yuugi breathed. He was not having much success keeping himself awake. It would be rude to fall asleep while the driver spoke to him, but the warmth of the cab was coaxing him to forget his manners. Making one last grab at social grace, he asked, "You are interested in Duel Monsters?"
Kenta shrugged. "Not really. But my grandkids are. Real fans of yours, by the way." He was quite a moment as he continued to drive down the deserted streets. "Can I ask ya somethin'?"
"Sure," Yuugi replied.
"Why do all your paintings occur at night? Seems kinda dark to me."
Yuugi shifted himself into a sitting position, eyes half open and directed towards Kenta. "Not at all. I mean, that isn't what I intend." He shifted his gaze to look out his window. "I've always loved the night. It's too bright during the day. Nothing can be hidden. There is no mystery because everything can be seen. At night, there's an illusion of privacy. Shadows are present to hide whatever it is you might not want someone to see."
He lowered his eyes sheepishly, a slight blush on his cheeks. "I know it sounds silly, but I've always felt protected at night. Like the stars are watching over me, and the darkness is there to surround me and keep me safe." He let out a soft sigh as he looked towards Kenta again. "We all need our havens. I have found that mine exists after the sun goes down."
Kenta looked away from Yuugi and out onto the road in front of him. The child's words were haunting, tainted with wisdom unbecoming of his age. A young man such as he should not be spending his time looking for a place to hide. He should be eager to great the day and go in search of life. The feeling in the cab took on a chill that rivaled the outside air.
The rest of the trip was spent in silence, Kenta musing in the front seat as Yuugi slept lightly in the back. As the cab approached the Kame Game Shop, Kenta discovered that the entrance to the shop was blocked by a large and white news van. He turned off his headlights and pulled the cab behind the van, turning to give his passenger a nudge. Waking slowly, Yuugi's eyes widened at the sight of the local news crew that stood before his home's door. He hesitantly reached for the handle of his door.
The moment Yuugi exited the cab a woman rushed to stand in front of him. An aura of giddiness surrounded her and her mint colored suit, and Yuugi instinctively took a step back at her predatory smile. A tall and slender man stood behind her, precariously balancing a camera on his shoulder.
"Hi! I'm Leiko. It's a pleasure to finally meet you!" At Yuugi's lack of response, other than the look of utter confusion on his face, Leiko continued. "I told you we would get to him first, Jiro," she called over her shoulder. Jiro merely shrugged.
"First?" Yuugi was able to force out of his dry mouth. This woman had completely overridden his already tired mind.
"I'm so excited," Leiko continued, not hearing Yuugi's meek question. "This is going to be our big break! Finally, no more reports on the monthly sock fair. I swear, if I have to fold one more pair-"
"He's leaving," Jiro interrupted.
Turning sharply, Leiko watched as her prized interview was walking towards the front door of the game shop. Yuugi had just placed his key in the lock when Leiko grabbed hold of his wrist.
"Wait! Please, just a few moments of your time, Yuugi-san. I just want to get your reaction on being chosen to host the art fair for the children's wing of the hospital." A microphone was placed in front of Yuugi's face, expectantly awaiting his remarks.
Frankly, Yuugi didn't have any remarks to give at the moment. Any that Leiko would care to hear. This was the first he had heard of being chosen for anything. The honor was lost on him as the weight of the hour pressed on his shoulders and his eyelids. He closed his eyes with a heavy sigh, trying to compose himself so he could make a graceful exit. He was allowed no such luxury as the bright light of the camera was focused on his face.
"Look, it's late. I just want to go to bed. I'd be happy to talk to you tomorrow," Yuugi said as he looked at Leiko pointedly.
"Just a few questions, it won't take long. It wouldn't make much difference anyway, as you said, it's already late." Leiko emphasized her statement as she eagerly pushed her microphone closer to Yuugi.
The woman was beginning to try Yuugi's already fleeting patience. He gave a firm shake of his head. "No."
Leiko was about to press further when Kenta came and stood between her and Yuugi. He gave Yuugi a gentle shove towards the door, then turned and gave Leiko a stern gaze. "The boy said 'no.' Now leave him be."
With a grateful nod, Yuugi flashed Kenta a smile before ducking into the store. Turning a triumphant grin to the duo in front of him, Kenta stood with his arms crossed, daring either of them to pester Yuugi further. When it was obvious that they would comply, Kenta walked to his cab and opened the door. Before entering the cab, he addressed the news crew one last time.
"Now, about my faire..."