Strange Things Happen

By Lucky_Ladybug

Notes: The characters aren't mine, the story is, and this is friendship stuff! ^___^ It's really stupid to think these two characters I'm gonna feature would be having a romantic relationship, because they're both kinda the womanizer type! XD

If you had told me yesterday that I would be stuck today in the basement of a collapsing building, cradling my worst rival's dying body in my arms, I would've said you were crazy. Only . . . now it's not as crazy as all that.

Everything started this morning when I was walking to school with my buddy Joey.

"Man, can you believe that guy Duke?!" he cried. "This time he's gone too far!!"

"What'd he do this time?" I asked in confusion.

"He asked Serenity on a DATE!!" Joey wailed.

That didn't improve my mood any. It already seemed like it wasn't going to be a good day, and this news was the final nail in the coffin. "HUH??!" I turned to stare at him. "But she didn't accept, did she?!" Please say no, please say no. . . .

"Yeah, she did!!" Joey informed me as we entered the school building.

"No!! She CAN'T!!" I couldn't believe it. Serenity *couldn't* go on a date with Duke!! She . . . she's MY girl!! Of course, we haven't actually vowed to be going steady, but stiil. . . . "When I get my hands on that Duke, I'll . . ."

"Not if I get to him first!" Joey snorted. "How dare he try to woo my sister?!"

And my girl!? I added silently. I know Joey doesn't really want me going out with Serenity either, but he likes the idea of Duke dating her even less.


I didn't see Duke until everyone was heading for lunch in the cafeteria. Then I sure didn't waste any time in grabbing him and telling him exactly what I thought of his actions.

"I told you to lay off with Serenity!!"

Duke blinked boredly at me. "Oh? Since when do I take orders from you?"

"SHE'S MY GIRL!!" I yelled, ignoring the weird way everyone was looking at us—and the weird way the floor was starting to shake. Maybe it was just the force of my scream. At least, that's what'd ran through my mind at the time.

"Oh really?" Duke said, still in that same annoying, calm voice. "Did she say she wanted to be your steady girl?"

I glared. "That doesn't matter!"

"But Serenity matters, and if she hasn't clearly stated her feelings one way or the other, then we're both on equal ground," Duke retorted.

Before I could say the angry words on my tongue, the whole building lurched and we toppled over.

"It's an earthquake!" Duke cried.

"I'll quake your world!" I retorted, drawing back to punch him. He intercepted and punched me first. Then I landed a good one right in his face and it was all-out war.

Before long things started to fall down around us. Duke got up and prepared to try slugging me again, even though the floor was shaking uncontrollably. But I saw something that he obviously didn't.

"LOOK OUT!!" I shoved him away just as a heavy statue fell off the top of a cabinet and crashed where he had been standing.

Duke jerked and then stared back in shock. "That could've killed me! But why did you . . ."

I didn't answer. At least, not truthfully. I wasn't in the mood for that. "'Cause I want to take you down myself and not let some statue do it for me! You can't have Serenity, Duke Devlin!! She's mine!!"

We fought for several minutes more while the earthquake continued to rage around us. Looking back, I don't know how we managed to do it. Finally I shoved him against what I thought was a wall. Turned out it was really the door to the basement.

We tumbled down the stairs, each one trying to get the upper hand. All around us everything was still shaking. Then it suddenly stopped.

"Huh?" I looked up from where I was trying to pulverize Duke. "It's all dark in here now. . . ." The lights had been on when we had first fallen through. "And . . . so quiet. . . ."

Duke pushed me away. "We could be locked in here!" he grumbled. He went up to the door and tugged on it. "It's jammed!"

That was never good news. I ran up beside him and we both slammed ourselves against it, trying to force it open, but nothing happened.

"Something must've fallen in front of it!" I realized.

Duke clenched his fists. "No one will find us for hours!" He turned back to glare at me. "This is your fault, Tristan!"

I didn't appreciate being accused. "Oh yeah? If you hadn't asked Serenity out, none of this would even be happening!!"

"You mean if you weren't making mountains out of molehills, this wouldn't be happening!!"

Now I was mad. It was time to tell him exactly what I thought of him. "You don't even really care about Serenity anyway!! You know you just want to add her to your list of heart trophies!!"

Duke just stopped and looked at me with an expression I'd never seen from him before. I can't really describe it. . . . It was like rage, shock, and melancholy all rolled into one. Then he narrowed his eyes and glared, looking cold again.

"You don't know anything about me! But as long as we're on this subject, you're quite the ladies' man yourself—or at least you wish you were." He stepped closer. "Unfortunately you don't have much luck with them. So maybe you're so desperate to keep Serenity because she's the first one who took an interest in you!"

I was seeing red. "Take that back!!" If I'd been mad at Duke before, it was nothing compared to the fury surging within me now.

"What if I don't?"

"Then I'll take you DOWN!!"

Before I knew it, we were scrapping again. We fell down the stairs leading up to the door and started to wrestle on the basement floor.

And then the aftershocks started about the same time. The first one seemed worse than the original earthquake. The whole school swayed dangerously as if it was going to collapse any minute. Beams that helped keep the structure up began falling down. And I wouldn't have been surprised if the boiler had exploded right at that moment—but it didn't.

I still don't know entirely what did happen. All I remember is the way everything was falling down around us. . . . Then I was being shoved to the floor by Duke as he yelled, "Get out of the way, Tristan, you idiot!!" And then I heard a scream of pain followed by silence.

It took a while for everything to stop shaking, but when the dust finally settled and I was over the shock of it all, I got up slowly to look around.

"Duke!! Hey, where are you?!" I called, admitting that I was genuinely worried about him. And . . . had he actually saved me from something?! "Duke!! Answer me!!"

I didn't get any reply at first, and I looked around desperately for something that would shed some light on the darkened room. I remembered that I was carrying a miniature flashlight in my pocket, but I didn't think it would really work after all the tumbling and fighting I'd done. But I tried it anyway, and to my shock, it did work.

"Duke!! Come on, this isn't funny!!" I yelled now. "Say something!!"

A weak moan came from somewhere to my right. "I'm over here . . . what's left of me. . . ."

I didn't like the sound of that. Running toward the sound of his voice, I found him laying crumpled on the floor under a heavy metal beam.

"Duke! Oh man. . . ." I knelt down beside him and struggled to lift it, but it wouldn't budge.

"I already tried," Duke said wryly. "It won't move." He closed his eyes briefly. "I guess . . . I must've passed out. . . . I woke up hearing you calling for me. That was kind of a shock." He gave a weak smirk.

I ignored those remarks. "I'm not gonna give up with this!!" I retorted, referring to moving the beam.

He and I must've tried to lift that thing a dozen times over the next hour, but it never once moved an inch.

Duke soon resigned himself to his fate. "It's no use, Tristan. Looks like I'm going to be trapped here for a while." He coughed like he was having trouble breathing.

I looked at him helplessly, wanting to do something to ease his pain. "Do you think that . . . anything's broken?" I asked, wondering if he could've broken his back since the beam had fallen across it.

Duke fell silent for a moment as he tested his arms and legs. "No . . . I'm fine," he said then. "I just . . . can't breathe very well. . . ."

"That's hardly fine!!" I shot back in frustration.

I felt so angry at myself! I knew it really was my own actions that had caused this. I shouldn't have been trying to fight Duke during an earthquake! How stupid could I be??! And I knew if I couldn't get him out soon, he wouldn't make it.

"HEY!!" I screamed, running over and pounding on the door. "Someone's hurt in here!! Can anyone hear me?! He could die!!"

It was weird . . . talking about Duke dying. I don't know . . . somehow I guess I must've seen him as indestructible—the same way I see all of my friends. We've come through so many scrapes together, and by now it just seems like whatever happens we're always okay in the end.

Except for what happened to Shadi. He wasn't indestructible . . . and I know that no one really is. Especially Duke right now.

I clenched my fists tightly before going back over to him. "How're you doing?" I was really worried. How would I help him if he wound up not being able to breathe at all?! I couldn't just let him die on me!

Duke shuddered. "I'm pretty good, considering I'm stuck under this thing that's heavy enough to help hold up the school." Now he clenched his fists, as if trying to ward off pain.

I knelt down by him again, setting the flashlight up nearby to shine down on us. I could see that he had some bad cuts from the experience and I tried my best to clean them. "Oh man . . . Duke . . . I'm sorry. . . . You're right. . . . This was all my fault. . . ."

"Hey . . . I'd say we were both responsible. Let's not worry about it now." Duke started to close his eyes.

I couldn't believe it. He wasn't acting all high and mighty? "Duke . . . you've gotta stay awake," I told him, laying a hand on his shoulder.

"I'm awake," he muttered.

I was quiet for a minute. "Hey Duke?"


"Why did you save me?"

Now Duke was quiet. "Heh. . . . Well, maybe I was thinking the same as you. I wanted to vanquish you myself." He laughed weakly.

That didn't seem funny in this situation. Now I was regretting having said what I had earlier. "That wasn't really true . . . what I told you about the statue," I spoke up slowly after a stretch of silence. Duke's eyes were still open and he was watching me, so I knew at least he was still conscious.

"Oh?" He made an effort to perk up, looking at least partially interested.

I shook my head. "I just . . . didn't want anything really bad to happen to you," I admitted. "I know I started that fight with you . . . but I didn't really want to hurt you . . . much. . . . I'm sorry, Duke. . . ." It was hard for me to believe I was saying these things, but somehow I felt that I had to tell him now. . . . That . . . maybe I wouldn't get another chance.

Duke grunted. "Yeah . . . well . . . I . . . I didn't really want you to get hurt either." He tried desperately to shift his position so he could breathe easier, but there wasn't anything either of us could do about that. "I'm not really that bad a guy." He smirked. "Though I *can* play a mean game of Dungeon Dice. . . ."

Again we fell silent. I was frantically racking my brain, trying to think of what to do for my buddy, but nothing would come to mind. I pounded on the door again, but I only heard dead silence in reply.

Now I found time to worry about my other friends. Yugi . . . Joey . . . Téa . . . Bakura . . . even Kaiba. . . . I saw them all earlier, so I know they're all here . . . but . . . what I didn't know then and what I still don't know now is, Are they still alive? What if Duke and I are the only ones still alive in the whole school?!

"SOMEONE GET US OUT OF HERE!!!" I screamed, slamming against the door and not having any luck.

"They . . . they can't hear you. . . . Don't waste the air. . . ." Duke looked like he was about to pass out.

Instantly I ran back over to him. Somehow I had to keep him awake. . . .

He was thinking that he needed to stay awake too. Either that or he just wanted to talk.

"I . . . I guess I don't really know why it is . . . that . . . that I'm always chasing the girls. . . . Maybe . . . maybe I'm just looking for that special one. . . . Or maybe . . . maybe I just want to feel that someone cares about me. No one really much ever did. Oh sure the girls flock around me . . . but then they flock around anyone they think is 'cute.' It really doesn't mean much to me. I know they're only fair-weather friends."

I rocked back in shock. I couldn't believe Duke was starting to tell me the deepest thoughts he kept hidden. Maybe he was getting delirious. And . . . Duke got lonely? It was a hard picture to fathom.

Duke seemed to sense that's what I was thinking. "No . . . I'm very much alert, Tristan. . . ." He tried to raise himself up on one elbow but found the effort too much. "I don't know why I'm telling you this any more than you know. Maybe . . . I just want someone to know the truth before. . . ." He trailed off.

"I know about those rumors that go around about me," he said after a pause in which I hadn't known what to say. "I don't pay attention to them. . . . I know they're not true. If someone wants to think those things about me, that's their problem." He was breathing more raspy now and his eyes had started to glaze over. "The truth is . . . I never have done anything inappropriate with a girl, ever. I do have integrity."

"I never thought you didn't," I replied, though secretly I did admit that sometimes I'd wondered.

"Don't try to make me feel better, Tristan. I think that's one reason why you've been so upset about Serenity liking me. That, and you're afraid that I'm going to break her heart." Duke had given up trying to get into a more comfortable position by now.

"Well, uh . . . yeah, actually it was," I said finally, deciding it was useless to deny it.

Duke half-smiled. "I thought so. But . . . Tristan . . . I actually do care about Serenity. Think about it. Have you ever seen me flirting with any girls since Serenity came along?"

I did think about it. "No," I admitted.

"Serenity . . . she's not just another 'heart trophy', as you like to call it. I love her, Tristan. . . . I genuinely love her. She's . . . different than the other girls I've seen. There's something . . . fresh and new about her. . . . A naive innocence that I haven't seen all that much from any other girl." Duke started to go slack. "I am afraid, though, that I will be breaking her heart. . . . But not in the way you've been thinking."

I raised an eyebrow. "What other way is there?" I demanded.

"I don't think . . ." Duke gasped, "I don't think I'll be able to keep that date with her."

Instantly I caught the hidden meaning of his words. "Don't talk like that!!" I yelled angrily. "Of course you won't be able to, if you just give up like that!"

Duke reached up to rub his forehead. "I'm not giving up, Tristan. . . . I'm stating a fact."

"No you're not!! Someone's gonna get us out!!" My voice was climbing. I didn't want to lose one of my friends. Even though Duke and I are rivals where Serenity is concerned, we really are buddies. At least . . . that's the way I've always thought of it.

"When, Tristan? A few more hours? A day? Maybe a week?" Duke started to cough again. "I won't last another hour. Not like this. . . ."

"I'll get you free!!" I yelled, even though I knew I couldn't. Again I fought with the beam holding him prisoner, but I couldn't make it budge, just as I knew I couldn't. But I couldn't accept that he was going to die.

"It's a miracle I've lasted this long," Duke said quietly. "Tristan . . . I can hardly breathe . . . and it's getting worse. . . . There's too much pressure. . . ."

"You're not going to die, you hear me??!!" I tried to raise him up as much as was possible so he could maybe breathe easier, but that didn't work either. I could feel the life slipping from him, but I wasn't going to let him leave.

"Heh . . . it's not something I really wanted to do," Duke said sardonically.

This is where we are in time right now. Duke's been silent for a long time, but I can still hear him breathing. He's alive for now . . . if we can just keep it that way!

I've been pondering on everything he's said. . . . It's strange . . . how little I (or really anyone) really knows the guy. I guess he's kinda like Kaiba . . . he keeps to himself most of the time and no one can tell what he's really thinking.

Now he speaks again, but it's obviously with much effort that he does so. "I guess . . . if I don't make it . . . at least I'll know Serenity has the better man."

I'm stunned speechless.

"Just . . . take care of her, okay?" He looks up at me desperately. "Don't ever leave her lonely . . . and don't *you* ever break her heart. If you do . . . then I'll just have to come back and haunt you for the rest of your life."

"Haunt me in the flesh!" I retort.

"I wish . . ." Duke draws a final, haggard breath. "I wish I could. . . . But . . . this is it. . . . See you around . . . Tristan. . . . It's nice . . . to know that I did have friends. . . ."

I feel him go limp, but I won't accept it. He's just unconscious. He'll wake up again in a few minutes. . . . He will! Duke can't be dead. . . . Not now . . . not like this. . . . Not because of me.

Even if he doesn't cast blame, I have to. This was my fault. All of it was. Duke wouldn't have been hurt if it wasn't for me getting so angry and wanting to fight him. He wouldn't have been trapped under the stupid beam if it wasn't for me.

"Duke!! Come on, buddy, wake up!!" I yell. I don't dare shake him, but I'm gripping his shoulder tightly. I even resort to slapping him lightly across the face, but it doesn't work.

In the glow of the flashlight I can see how still he is. . . . And how pale. . . . I know he's not breathing. I would hear him if he was. All during the time since the beam fell on him, his breathing has been very loud and pained. Now he's just silent.

"Duke . . . come on . . . say something!! You can't leave . . ." I rack my mind frantically. "You can't leave Serenity!!"

Somehow, though, I know he has.


I must've been down here with Duke's body for hours before I hear someone calling me on the other side of the basement.

"Tristan!!" It's Yugi. "Tristan, are you down there??! Kaiba said he thought he saw you and Duke fighting over near here!" He bangs on the door, hoping for a reply.

I wince at his words. "Yeah . . . I'm in here, Yugi," I call back quietly.

Yugi picks up on my tone. "What about Duke?" he asks in a quieter tone.

"He . . ." I shake my head. "A beam fell on him. He . . . didn't make it." I don't feel like telling Yugi the whole story.

I can hear him gasp. "Oh. . . ." He swallows hard. "Well . . . we'll get you out, Tristan. Just hang in there!" If I know Yugi, I know he's starting to cry about now. He can't stand for anyone to die, no matter who it is. And Duke was our friend.

I'm not a crying person, but . . . I do find myself shedding a tear or two over him as well. He . . . wasn't really a bad guy at that. A bit conceited at times, sure, and definitely a womanizer . . . but I think I have a better understanding of him now. And he did have a good heart.

"I'm sorry, buddy," I whisper as I hear people outside working to get the door open. "I'm sorry this happened. And I'm sorry I was such a knucklehead. I'll take good care of Serenity. I promise I will. . . ."


I've been in such a daze. . . . It's only been ten minutes since we got out of the basement, but it seems more like an endless eon.

Everyone else is okay . . . at least that's something. But I can't help feeling like it was my fault Duke died. I know I won't forgive myself for it.

The medics have laid his body down on a couch and are trying to see the extent of the damage he took from the beam.

"Poor kid," I hear one of them say. "Nothing's broken. It must've cut off his ability to breathe slowly but surely until he couldn't at all."

I clench my fists. "I can't tell Serenity," I say quietly.

Even Joey looks disturbed by what's happened. "Don't sweat it, man. I'll tell her," he assures me.

"Thanks," I whisper, feeling numb.

It turns out that we both have to tell her.

"Joey! Tristan!"

We look up as the beautiful, auburn-haired girl runs toward us.

"I was so worried!" Serenity sobs, hugging first Joey and then me. "I was so afraid someone was hurt . . . or . . . or worse. . . ."

I can hardly bear it. "Well . . . Serenity," I say slowly, "the thing is . . ."

Joey can tell I'm having trouble telling her. "Serenity . . . something happened to Duke," he says gently.

Serenity stares at him in horror and then looks at me. "Where is he??!" she demands. "Is he hurt?! Please let me see him!!"

Joey holds her close. "Sis . . . you don't wanna see him. . . . Trust me. . . . He . . . he was caught under a beam, and . . . he . . . couldn't make it. . . ." He brushes her hair out of her face. "I'm sorry. . . ."

Serenity just stares, not comprehending. "No," she says softly. "No . . . Duke . . . he . . . he can't be. . . ." She looks at me, pleading for me to tell her that Duke is alive.

I bite my lip. "He died in my arms," I say gently. "He's gone, Serenity. . . . He's gone. . . ." My heart breaks as I see her expression. First it's stunned shock. Then horror. Then a sad acceptance.

She comes over to me, tears threatening to fall. "Was he . . . in a lot of pain?" she whispers.

I pull her into my arms. Joey, for once, doesn't protest. "You know how Duke is," I say. "He wouldn't admit to being in pain, even if he was." I pause. "His last words and thoughts were of you, Serenity."

She can't control her tears. Now she buries her face in my shirt as she cries for him. But is she crying for him as a friend or as something more? Right now, I don't care. I just know we're all going to miss Duke Devlin.


The medics are going to take his body away. I don't want Serenity to see, and I know Joey doesn't either.

I don't especially want to see his deceased body again, but one of the medics pulls me away from the others. "Come here a minute, Mr. Taylor," he says quietly, taking me into the room where Duke's body is.

"What is it?" I ask, feeling irritated. "What do you need me for?"

The medic bends over Duke, who looks eerily like he's just asleep and going to wake up any minute. "Would you say for a surety that your friend died in your arms earlier?" he asks.

"Of course," I retort, angry that they think I wouldn't be able to tell. "He stopped breathing and I couldn't revive him! He was dead!"

The medic nods, accepting this, and starts to pull a sheet over Duke's body. I turn around to leave when the sheet is abruptly thrown off.

"What the . . ." The medic narrows his eyes in confusion and then I come over as well. Duke is laying still and . . . and dead, as he was before.

"What happened?!" I demand.

He shakes his head. "I don't know."

The door opens and Joey comes in. "Serenity wanted me to find out what's happening," he says by way of explanation.

"Somehow the sheet got thrown off," the medic tells him.

Joey blinks and comes over to stare at Duke. I follow close behind, though I don't know what it is I expect to see.

Whatever I expected—and whatever Joey expected—it was not for the emerald eyes to suddenly snap open and stare up at us.

Joey stares back in disbelief and then lets loose with a blood-curdling scream, backing up against the wall. I almost feel like joining him.

But I don't. I just continue to stare. Words don't come to me. "Duke?!" I cry finally.

"You were expecting someone else?" He smirks. That same old, annoying, Duke smirk. But this time I'm okay with it. It means he's alive . . . somehow. Right now, I don't even care that there'll still be the same old love triangle problem.

"It's good to have you back," I say finally, "though I'm not sure how you are."

"That makes two of us," Duke snorts.

Joey, finally recovered from the shock, runs over and grabs him by his red vest. "MAN!!! Don't you ever do that again!!! You almost gave me a heart attack!!!" he yells.

Duke regards him calmly. "Fine then. Next time I'll just stay dead."

Joey lets go and shoves him back to the couch. "Don't do that either!!!"

"Hmm. You people are hard to please." Duke continues to smirk.

Joey messes up his hair in frustration.

The door flies open again and now Serenity runs in, her hazel eyes bright. "Duke!!!" she exclaims, running over and hugging him tightly. He winces, probably from the pain of the bruises he got, but then he hugs back anyway. "Oh Duke . . . they told me you were. . . ."

Duke holds her close. "Shh. It's alright. As you can see, I'm very much alive and well." He leans back against the couch to rest. He looks completely drained and exhausted from everything, and I don't blame him in the least for that.

I feel a tinge of jealousy rising as he hugs Serenity, but I push it down. I am truly happy that Duke is alive. He's a good friend.