Hey everyone! Finally, an update! It's hard for me to update quickly because my dad has free reign over the computer and I only manage to use it when he's not home, so I'm sorry for the long waits between chapters! And I've decided that there will not be a final duel, because it wouldn't really fit with the story. But I may have a bad guy in here somewhere...we'll see how it goes. Anywayz, get out your tissue and enjoy!
Oh, yeah! And this chapter's song is "Name" by the Goo Goo Dolls. This song actually makes me think of Kaiba and Jounouchi everytime I hear it. If you haven't heard it before, go listen to it! It's a good song!
Chapter Six: Darker days will always live in me
"Where have you been?" asked the man in annoyance.
Jounouchi glared hard at him. "I should ask you the same thing—dad..."
Kaiba was surprised. This man, who looked like he hadn't showered or shaved for days, was Jounouchi's father. All those beer bottles I saw when I first came here, thought Kaiba. They must have belonged to him. He looks like a drunk.
"Don't talk to me like that, you brat," said his father. "You've been gone since Friday."
"I was in the hospital," said Jounouchi. "What about you? You weren't here when I came back."
"What were you doing in a hospital?" He sounded angry.
Jounouchi's face remained serious. "I was in an accident. Nothing serious. But the other guy with me—"
"How the hell do you expect me to pay for your medical bill? I'm not made of money, you know!"
"My friend's grandfather offered to pay for it, and I promised to pay him back myself," said Jounouchi with a defensive tone.
"Your friend paid for it?" the man scratched his chin and let out a hoarse laugh. "What an idiot! You're not even worth it..."
Kaiba looked at Jounouchi, who was still staring intently at his father. But he thought he noticed Jounouchi's eyebrow twitch when he called Yugi's grandfather an idiot.
"Since your friend is being so generous," the man began, and Kaiba knew he was thinking of something sinister, "I wonder if you can ask him for a little more dough..."
"I can't ask Yugi to do that!" Jounouchi shouted, unable to hold in his anger. "He's my friend!"
"Don't get jumpy, you'll pay him back," his father crossed his arms.
"No way! The hospital bill was too much already, I can't ask for anything more!"
"Listen to me, you ungrateful little shit!" he yelled, pointing his finger threateningly at Jounouchi. "You better take advantage of this opportunity, or I'll make you regret it!"
"You're out of your mind," Jounouchi waved the finger away. "Find some other way to get rich quick, like you always do."
"Don't you dare talk to me like that!" He grabbed Jounouchi by the collar of his jacket and rammed him into the wall face first. "Don't think you can talk to me like that for one second! I am your father! You listen to me, dammit!"
"Let me go, bastard!" Jounouchi tried to get free. His father grabbed him by the hair and threw him to the floor then proceeded to beat him with his fists. "Stop it! STOP!" Jounouchi shouted.
Kaiba stood frozen in shock and horror. This was not at all what he had expected to see when he took this task. He never thought that something like this could possibly happen to Jounouchi. Feeling helpless and sick to the stomach, he was suddenly reminded of his days with his stepfather and the terrible abuse he was put through. But this scene before him was worse than all that. Much worse.
Finally, his father picked up the bloody and beaten Jounouchi and dragged him to his room. He threw him on the floor and said, "Now you think about what you did and you better listen to me next time!" Then he slammed the door.
Kaiba watched Jounouchi's father storm down the hall then came slowly through the door and looked at Joey on the floor. Jounouchi was still, but suddenly he wheezed and coughed, spitting up blood on the floor. He tried to sit up with difficulty and finally managed to lean against his bed. He breathed in and out slowly. Kaiba knew he was in an unbelievable amount of pain.
He noticed Jounouchi clutching his chest tightly with one hand and holding his head with the other. His ribs might have been damaged again, he thought. And his head is bleeding pretty badly...
Suddenly, he was overcome with a revelation. "Could this be...the way I'm supposed to save him?"
The next morning, Jounouchi cleaned himself up and got ready for school as if nothing had happened. He picked up his bag and headed for the door but stopped when he noticed his dad asleep sitting up on the couch with the TV still on and a beer bottle in his hand. Jounouchi went into the kitchen and opened the top cabinet above the fridge. He reached in, pulled out a wad of money, stuffed it in his pocket, and left.
Although he was beat pretty bad, the only visible mark on Jounouchi's face was a right black eye. He told his friends that he was jumped by a gang from another high school on his way home last night. They believed him and warned him not to get involved with people like that.
Kaiba couldn't help but think of what fools they all were. Couldn't they see through his lies? Couldn't they tell he was hurt? Every time Jounouchi bent over, a look of pain flashed over his face. Couldn't they see that?
And just how the hell am I supposed to help him? Kaiba wondered. He can't see me, hear me, or feel my presence. What am I supposed to do?
Kaiba went on top of the school building at lunch to think things through. He had to find some way to warn Yugi, at least, but how? He didn't understand how he could hold material objects like notebooks or sit in chairs but couldn't touch anyone. It was all nonsense. These rules about being dead were pointless.
"I can't handle this anymore!" he screamed into the air. "I'd much rather die!"
"Giving up already, Seto?"
Kaiba wheeled around. "Yume?"
Yume winked at him. "The one and only! Now what's this about you deciding to quit?"
"It's not that I want to quit or anything," began Kaiba, "it's just that...all these rules are so confusing and I really have no idea how to 'save' Katsuya. How can I return the favor if I can't even make contact with him?"
"I'm afraid I can't help you with that, Seto. That's something you must figure out for yourself."
"You said there are other ways," Kaiba remembered. "What other ways are there?"
"I just told you, I can't tell you!" Yume tapped him lightly on the head with her staff. "I only came to see how you were doing. And by the way you're talking, it's obviously not good."
Kaiba looked down at the grounds below where the students were having their lunches. "So how's it going in the Afterlife?"
"Oh, that." Yume made a nervous laugh. "Chaos. Discord. Just as expected."
"Oh, no! Don't be sorry! It isn't your fault. I just need to get everything in order, that's all. Soon everything will be in order again."
Kaiba looked at her. He felt stupid for asking, but he had an impulse to do so: "There won't be any zombies roaming around, will there?"
Yume looked surprised. Then she started to laugh. "Ah ha! No, no, of course not! Oh, Seto, you're so funny!"
Kaiba didn't tell her he was serious.
"No, the dead souls are just lost and wandering around the Afterlife. They can't get out unless the Lord of the Dead let's them. When your soul didn't make it, the spirits got loose through the empty slot where you should have been. It's alright, though. We'll manage."
"Good." Kaiba looked back at the students. He spotted Jounouchi and his friends eating their lunch under a tree. After a moment's pause he said, "I never knew Jounouchi's father was like that."
"It's sad, isn't it?" Yume's voice became sympathetic. "After so many years of pain, it's a wonder he's still alive at all. But you know what? No matter how bad things got, Jounouchi still managed to keep a smile on his face. He never let the truth stop him from being who he really is. He didn't become cold and distant, afraid to let others in. He just kept being himself. I think that's the most important thing of all."
Kaiba didn't say anything. He just looked out at the grounds, not really seeing it. He remembered what Jounouchi had said in his diary: ...my father's just as bad, but I manage a smile on my face everyday. You just need to forget, move on...I guess that's the major difference between us.
"The difference..." Kaiba muttered to himself. He turned to ask Yume something, but she was gone.
Jounouchi went to see his puppy after school, like he promised. The puppy was so happy to see him that it jumped up and licked every inch of his face. Jounouchi fell over and laughed.
"I don't mind keeping him for you, Jounouchi, but it would be nice if you'd train him. He isn't housebroken," said Yugi.
"We found that out the hard way," added Grandpa.
Kaiba looked on at this happy scene, a mix of anger, confusion, and sadness burdening him. He was angry they couldn't see Jounouchi's suffering, confused with how he was supposed to help him, and sad because...he didn't want to admit it, so he didn't think about it. But nonetheless, the sadness was there.
Kaiba felt miserable, especially when it was time for Joey to go home. When Yugi offered Jounouchi to stay for dinner, he declined. But Kaiba saw the look of longing in Jounouchi's eyes; he really wished he could have stayed. And he could have, if it weren't for that man waiting for him at his apartment...
Sure enough, Jounouchi wasn't welcomed home warmly when he came back. The first thing his father asked was, "Did you get the money?"
"He, uh—wasn't at school today," Jounouchi lied.
"Then why didn't you go to his house?"
"I think they're out of town...you know, business trip. Something like that."
"Hmph. Well, you better make sure you get a hold of them somehow. I need that money by Friday."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever..." Jounouchi muttered so he couldn't hear. He went into his room to start on his homework. Kaiba glared at Jounouchi's father and said to him, "You selfish pig. Even I wouldn't sink that low." Even though he couldn't hear him, Kaiba felt somewhat satisfied. But the sadness still tugged at his heart.
Kaiba walked through Jounouchi's bedroom door—but Jounouchi wasn't in it. The window was open, the curtains blowing lightly in the breeze. Kaiba went after him.
And even though the moment passed me by
I still can't turn away
'Cause all the dreams you never thought you'd lose got tossed along the way
And letters that you never meant to send
Got lost or blown away
Kaiba caught up to Jounouchi, who had run all the way to the beach, which wasn't too close to his apartment building. Kaiba was out of breath, but Jounouchi seemed fine, facing the sunset over the ocean and feeling the wet breeze on his face and through his hair. Kaiba had never seen him look so alive.
And now we've grown up orphans that never knew their names
We don't belong to no one, that's a shame
You could hide beside me, maybe for awhile
And I won't tell no one your name
Jounouchi held his arms up in the air so that he looked like a jagged cross, welcoming the waves to cover him although the water didn't touch him. He whispered out loud, "Please—somebody...anybody…I need help..."
Scars are souvenirs you never lose
The past is never far
Did you lose yourself somewhere out there?
Did you get to be a star?
And don't it make you sad to know that life
Is more than who we are?
Kaiba was surprised by this sudden cry for help. He looked up at the sky in wonder. Who was he asking for help? he wondered. But then it occurred to him that he knew the only person who could help, the only person who can understand his problem.
It was him.
You grew up way too fast
Now there's nothing to believe
Re-runs all become our history
A tired song keeps playing on a tired radio
And I won't tell no one your name
Kaiba walked up behind Jounouchi, who was still standing with his arms outstretched and his eyes now closed. Kaiba knew there had to be a way to reach him, some way to let him know he was there. He slowly put one hand on Jounouchi's right shoulder. It didn't go through. Then he slowly moved his hand down his arm to his hand.
I think about you all the time
But I don't feel the same
It's lonely where you are, come back down
And I won't tell 'em your name…
Jounouchi opened his eyes. He felt this strange sensation, like there was someone behind him. He felt something go down him right arm slowly and stop at his hand. The same thing happened to his left arm. Now he felt like there was someone standing with him, letting him know that they were there to support him. The feeling sent chills down his spine.
He turned to see if there really was someone there, but he was alone. Although there was no sign of a person, somehow Jounouchi knew there was someone standing with him on the beach that night. He knew someone must be watching over him.
A/N: Yes, I did it. I put poor Jounouchi through all that abuse...I'm sorry, Jou! It hurt me to do it! T.T