Hello everyone. Um... I haven't uploaded a fanfiction for quite some time. I'm really not much of a writer, so my account has pretty much been there for the sole purpose saving stories to favorites. But this idea just popped into my head one morning, and for some reason I had to write it. It's a one-shot; only took four or so hours to write.

The entire fanfiction is Honda telling the back story of how he and Jounouchi met, then how they became friends. The story also goes into explaining Honda's feelings and actions throughout the first volume of the manga, as he and Jounouchi meet and become friends with Yuugi and Anzu. Much of this story is just speculation on my part of how the events could've taken place, though a lot of the information included in the story is referenced from the first seven volumes of YUUGIOU, namely the first and second volumes.

Pretty much the premise of the story is based off of an Irateshipping (Malik/Jounouchi) roleplay I am currently participating in. The entire story is pretty much Honda trying to help Malik learn a little bit more about Jounouchi, because Malik and Jounouchi fight a lot and has a hard time understanding each other's personalities.

While Malik is never actually mentioned in the story, the entire thing is in Honda's point of view, and his audience is in fact Malik. That is also why the entire story is in quotes, because Honda is talking the entire time. (kind of like when the dæmon in Frankenstein tells his story to Victor)

I rated the story T because there is some violence, mention and use of drugs, and some mild cursing, though I do not believe the content is adult enough to warrant an M rating. However, if you think that the content should be rated M instead of T, please tell me so, and I will promptly change the rating. Also, while this story did originate from an Irateshipping roleplay, there are no actual shippings in this fanfiction, unless you count Honda having a crush on Nosaka Miho.

Anyway, I guess that's about it. I hope you all enjoy the story, and would appreciate any reviews that are not flames. (constructive criticism is happily accepted though)

Disclaimer: The YU-GI-OH! franchise is property of Takahashi Kazuki Sensei. This work of fiction is for entertainment purposes only, and I am not making any profit off of this story.

Honda's Story:

"I think that in order to better understand Jounouchi, you first need to hear how he and I first met and became friends, and then also how the two of us together met and likewise became friends with Yuugi and Anzu.

"It all started I guess when Jounouchi and I were about half-way through our ninth-grade years, meaning we were in our Senior years of junior high here in Japan. We didn't go to the same junior high, though we lived in pretty close proximity to one another. While I live in an area that isn't as junky as where Jounouchi lives, Domino is a pretty small city, so both of our areas are in walking distance of the other.

"One day I had been walking home from school; in order to get from my junior high school to my house, I had to cut through the bad part of town where Jounouchi lived. As I was walking in a secluded area, I noticed a relatively large gang eyeing me. They were obviously considering mugging me, but that was pretty normal for this area, and I knew how to defend myself. So, not thinking much of it, I continued walking, but coincidentally enough, there was another gang nearby who also seemed to have the same intentions.

"As that gang came out of an ally way towards me, I heard the first gang curse to themselves. From what I did hear, the gang that was now heading towards me was one of their rival gangs, Hayashibara's. They were obviously pissed that their "target" had been picked up by a rival, but I wasn't about to become anyone's target. As Hayashibara's gang approached me, I counted six or so guys, all carrying some sort of weapon like a pole or a switch blade. The guy whom I assumed was the leader, Hayashibara himself, demanded that I hand over all my money or face the consequences, same old, same old, blah blah blah.

"I of course refused, so the entire group came after me, but they were pretty sloppy. I managed to knock them all out within a few minutes. The other, larger gang had been of course watching the entire time, then decided to approach me themselves. The guy who was obviously the leader was tall, well-built, and had pale blond hair that he kept in a short ponytail. 'Well, I can't deny that that was pretty surprising.' he said with a smirk, 'What's your name?'

"Not wanting to get involved with these guys, I only offered a glare in return. The gang's leader frowned, but quickly plastered that smug look back onto his face, reaching a hand out to me, 'I'm Hirutani, the leader of the most powerful junior high gang in Domino, and these are just a few of my gang members.' he gestured with his shoulder to the guys standing behind him. I refused to shake his hand. This time, losing that smirk permanently, he grabbed my right hand and firmly held it, 'It is impolite to not shake someone's hand when they offer it to you.' he said with a cold glare. I returned my own cold glare, pulling my hand away once he had loosened his grip.

"Deciding not to linger too long on my rudeness, Hirutani went straight to business, 'We saw you take out that entire group of Hayashibara men.' he told me, as if this weren't obvious, 'Needless to say, I'm impressed. You managed to knock all of them out in a short matter of time without using any weapons.' once again, he stated the obvious. 'Seeing as those men you took out are our rivals, how would you like to join my gang? Normally I require an entrance test to prove that you're worthy to be a member, but since you've already pretty much proved that, I'll make an exception.' If only you could've heard his tone of voice; he sounded as if he was offering me the greatest thing in the world.

"Of course, I straight-out refused, 'Thanks but no thanks. I'm not interested in joining a group that gets its kicks by hurting people.' I stated matter-o-factly, then proceeded to turn on my heel and walk off. However, Hirutani didn't seem ready to take 'no' for an answer. He proceeded to pull out a small knife, then came from behind and grabbed me, holding said blade to my throat, 'And what makes you think you have the right to deny me so rudely...?' he asked dangerously.

"Well, this was quite a predicament. I knew gang members were bad, but I had been by no means expecting this. Trying to think of a means of escape without having to join the gang, I stood there quietly, noticing that I was now sweating bullets. Then suddenly, a new voice spoke up. This one sounded surprisingly annoyed, as it said, 'Hirutani, stop being stupid. You always think you can get your way by using force and threats, but what makes you think this guy would be a good addition to the gang if you have to force him to join? He obviously doesn't want to, so it's not like he would have any loyalty. Just let him go.' the voice finished.

"I felt the knife press more firmly against my neck. It seemed to be shaking with anticipation to draw blood, but also with frustration at this other guy's words. Finally, Hirutani pulled the knife away, angrily letting me go and walking back to his gang in a huff. I turned around to see if I could figure out who had saved my ass, then, luckily, heard that voice again, 'See? Now that wasn't so hard you big idiot.' a kid about my age said.. He was lean and tall, though still pretty short compared to a lot of the gang members. He had blond hair like Hirutani, though it was more of a gold color than a pale yellow color, and much more thick and healthier-looking.

"I looked him in the eye, wanting to thank him without actually saying the words out loud. He looked back at me, a hint of recognition of the thanks flashing in his expression before he turned away, 'Okay, let's go.' he said, crossing his arms and beginning to head away. The rest of the gang followed, including Hirutani, though he looked positively furious. I had to admit that I was curious why the leader was letting this guy boss him around like that. And I was also curious why this guy was even in the gang; he seemed better than that, at least by the small impression I had gotten of him.

"After that day, whenever I would walk to and from school, I would make sure to keep an eye out for Hirutani's gang. I didn't want to admit it, but I had developed an interest in gang life ever since then. Not an interest in joining mind you, but an interest in how they worked, what their codes of ethics were (if they even had any), and what the reasoning for certain people to join were. I payed specific attention to that blond kid who had saved me. As I watched him and Hirutani's gang, I came to realize that he was quite different than the other members. While he was by no means a nice guy or anything, he had as sense of honor that the others didn't. He would always watch out for the little guy. If the gang wanted to attack or mug someone that wasn't a rival gang member, he would refuse to participate, and if they went after someone who was considerably weaker, like a young kid or an elderly person, he would out-right object and usually succeed in getting Hirutani to stop. I realized that I was in a way starting to look up to him.

"I soon found out that his name was Jounouchi Katsuya, and that he was second in command of Hirutani's gang. I never really did find out why Hirutani would almost always listen to him, even when he didn't want to, but I had my theories. I pretty much assumed, after watching the group participate in a few fights, that Jounouchi was the strongest of the gang (though he didn't look it) and Hirutani knew this. My guess is that Hirutani knew that if Jounouchi ever decided to challenge him to take over as leader of the gang, he would win. Not only was Jounouchi stronger, but the other gang members seemed to like him better than Hirutani, so a siege would not be much of a problem for Jounouchi.

"But Jounouchi didn't really seem like the type who would want to be leader. He seemed content just being second in command, and Hirutani must've known this too. I assume that he wanted to keep Jounouchi content, so he would never try to take over as leader, and that is why he would almost always listen when Jounouchi objected to one of his actions. And that is probably what saved me back then as well.

"After coming upon this conclusion, I began to wonder why Jounouchi had joined Hirutani's gang in the first place. He didn't seem to particularly enjoy being in there. But for the life of me I just couldn't figure it out. It was obvious that Jounouchi wasn't being blackmailed to be in the gang, because he did, in a sense, have more power over Hirutani than Hirutani had over him. If Jounouchi wanted to stop a blackmailing, all he would have to do would be to take over leadership. He did seem to enjoy fighting, but not enough to stay in a gang just for that. And it was obvious that Jounouchi could fend for himself without a gang's help. So I eventually just gave up on trying to figure out why Jounouchi was in the gang, and instead concentrated on observing the gang's activities.

"There were some close calls occasionally. A couple of times the police came after the group, and probably would've succeeded in arresting the entire gang if it hadn't been for Hirutani's smooth talking. Members would also get hurt quite often of course; one of them even got killed while I was watching them. They often smoked and took drugs and drank too. Jounouchi tried smoking a couple of times but didn't like it, and he almost tried meth once, but no matter how many times the other members offered, he always out-right refused to even take a sip of alcohol, which I thought was kind of strange.

"Then one day, something interesting happened. I found out that for a long time Hirutani's and Hayashibara's gangs had been fighting over territory. There was one area in particular, an area that had a bar called "J's" that both gangs frequented in it, that they would always fight over. One day, the two gangs agreed to have one final fight over this particular piece of territory. However, they didn't want to draw police attention, so instead of a full-fledged street battle, they agreed to each pick a gang member for a one-on-one fight to the death. Whoever returned the other's dead body to the dead fighter's gang would be rewarded with the territory.

"I was soon horrified to find out that Jounouchi had been chosen to fight on Hirutani's side. Of course, the gang wasn't going to send their leader into such a dangerous situation, and Jounouchi was the strongest in the gang, so I suppose the choice made sense, but I was still surprised by it. Jounouchi had never seemed like the type to kill, and I had begun to wonder if he had ever done so before. Strangely enough, he didn't object at all to being the one chosen, and instead agreed wholeheartedly to participate in the fight.

"I learned where the meeting place would be and found out that each gang member must be alone, and that the rest of their gang must wait at their home base for the return of either their own fighter victorious, or the fighter of their rival gang carrying the dead body of their own gang member.

"Hirutani had insisted on bringing the gang to hide in the allies as backup, but Jounouchi refused. Even when facing potential death he still had a sense of honor that the others did not. So Jounouchi, on the decided day, went to the meeting place alone, or so he thought he was alone. I secretly followed him, planning on intervening if things looked bad for Jounouchi. And it was lucky that I did follow too, or Jounouchi probably wouldn't be here today.

"Hayashibara's gang was by no means as honorable as Jounouchi was, so they ended up doing an even dirtier trick than Hirutani had originally been planning: When Jounouchi was waiting for his opponent to arrive, a group of four or so Hayashibara men snuck up behind him. Jounouchi heard them, but right as he turned around to defend himself, one of the men shoved a drugged rag against his mouth. I'm not sure what it was that they used, but it wasn't chloroform, since Jounouchi didn't pass out. (I guess they weren't that merciful) However, Jounouchi did collapse to his knees, seeming completely dazed.

"Hayashibara's men then began kicking and beating him relentlessly. They obviously planned to torture him first instead of killing him immediately. I wouldn't allow this though; I joined the fray, quickly taking care of all four of the men. They were all now safely knocked out, so I turned to Jounouchi to see how he was. He had managed to prop himself sitting against a wall while I took out Hayashibara's men, but he was now only staring down at the ground as if he was in another world. I tried to ask him if he was okay, but he didn't even notice me, so I just picked him up and began heading to my house instead.

"Once we arrived there, I laid him on my bed. He was still completely out of it from the drugs, staring up at the ceiling as if it were something else entirely. I proceeded to treat his wounds. Luckily they weren't too bad since I had intervened quickly enough; just a few scratches and bruises, one broken rib, nothing major.

"Jounouchi continued staring off into space for a while after that before the drugs began to leave his system. At least they did enough where he seemed aware of his surroundings, though he had no idea how he had gotten there. He obviously didn't recognize me, because he kept demanding to know where he was and who I was, even though I kept answering him over and over again. He seemed extremely paranoid, and kept warning me that his friends were hiding in the allies and would come attack me any minute now unless I let him go. (even though I was not restraining him in any way) The most I could do was keep calmly telling him that I wasn't an enemy and that he needed to rest. Eventually, he seemed to finally get that through his thick skull, before finally passing out from exhaustion and after effects of the drugs.

"I stayed up all night watching him, not about to fall asleep while a gang member was in my house. Finally, in the early morning, he awoke, and the drugs finally seemed to be completely out of his system. He looked up at me groggily and mumbled in confusion, 'You're that guy that we tried to mug...' It turns out that the last thing he remembered was standing in the meeting spot waiting for his opponent. He didn't even remember hearing people sneak up behind him. Needless to say, when I explained to him what had happened, he was completely enraged, cussing out Hayashibara for resorting to such cowardly actions, and shouting that he was too nice for agreeing to participate in the fight.

"Interested in what Jounouchi was talking about, I asked him what he meant. He told me that he had agreed to be the fighter for his gang so he could prevent anyone from dying. He had intended to get into the fight, beat the other fighter up to the point where his victory would be obvious, then make a deal with Hayashibara that he would left his fighter live if he conceded defeat anyway and gave Hirutani full rule of the territory. I was pleasantly surprised by this statement, but Jounouchi was still furious, raving and cursing some more after he had explained to me what his plans had been.

"After he had calmed down though, he reluctantly thanked me for saving him before saying he needed to get back to Hirutani and report what had happened. I insisted that he should rest a bit longer, but he refused, attempting to stand up, but falling back down to the bed from the sudden jolt of pain his broken rib received. Jounouchi cursed to himself. I simply shook my head, telling him that he was being stupid and should at least give some time for the pain to recede.

"Not very happy with the idea, Jounouchi eventually consented, figuring that if he ran into trouble on the way to Hirutani, he would have a difficult time defending himself.

"I decided now would be a better time than ever to attempt to find out a little more about Jounouchi. I first introduced myself as Honda Hiroto, though failed to mention that I had pretty much been stalking his gang since we had first met. Mr. Paranoid didn't need to know that at the moment. Jounouchi introduced himself as well, of course not realizing that I already knew his name.

"After introductions were out of the way, I asked him if he went to school. He replied in the affirmative, stating that he went to Daishippai Junior High, the rival school to my own Hommei Junior High. I was glad to hear that he still went to school, but didn't remark on that. Instead I asked him other various questions: What year of school he was in, what his favorite foods were, what his blood type was... pretty much just little things to get him to feel more comfortable talking. Jounouchi answered with a bored tone of voice, not seeming very interested in having a conversation.

"I inwardly sighed, deciding it might be best to just get straight to my point, 'Why are you in that gang anyway?' I asked, trying to sound conversational but pretty much failing at doing so. Jounouchi looked up at me with a raised eyebrow. He was obviously aware that I realized I was asking a personal question, but he answered anyway, 'Just for something to do... when I got to junior high, Hirutani and his gang were starting at the same school as me that year. When they saw that I had a reputation as a troublemaker they invited me to join.' he said with a shrug. I could tell he was hiding at least part of the truth, but I wasn't sure why, 'Oh, really?' I asked, making sure to sound only mildly interested, 'Because you don't really seem like the type of person to enjoy being in a gang.' I mimicked his earlier shrug.

"'How would you know what type of person I am?' Jounouchi asked suspiciously. Damn, I wasn't very good at talking to other people... I just shrugged again, though more nervously this time, 'Guess I'm just good at reading people...?' Jounouchi frowned. He could tell I knew something he didn't, but wasn't sure what it was. Then I realized I did have a way to support my statement without revealing that I had been watching him, 'I mean, after all, you didn't seem to agree with the way your leader acted when he tried to get me to join...'

"Seeming satisfied now with this answer, Jounouchi replied, 'Oh, yeah, I guess... Hirutani's just an idiot, I don't really like him.'

"'Then why do you continue to follow him around?' I asked curiously.

"'Because.' Jounouchi replied, as if this was a great answer, but then frowned, 'Because... he and the gang are the only people I got. I mean...' he began chewing on his lip awkwardly, 'I've never really had any friends at school before... my reputation kind of just follows me around, you know? People automatically think I'm a bully and a troublemaker, just because I've made some mistakes in the past... Hirutani and the guys were the only people who would have me...' he seemed uncertain if he should be telling this to a stranger, but at the same time, talking about it seemed to take a load off his chest.

"I, for one, was taken aback by this. What he was saying, it was so familiar... it was... exactly how I was... I got into some trouble when I was younger, then that branded me for life. After that, everyone in elementary school saw me as nothing more than an outcast, and I was unable to make friends. Teachers didn't give me a chance either, so I eventually just stopped caring and let my grades plummet, becoming just the troublemaker they all thought I was.

"'I thought that when I got to Junior High that I could start over, turn a new leaf, but my reputation had followed me there and no one even gave me a chance...' Jounouchi took the words right out of my mouth. It was as if we had had the same life, that we were bonded together by similar circumstances. The only difference was that Jounouchi had given in to gang life in order to feel accepted somewhere, where's I had withdrawn into myself and only watched other people from afar. But all the same, both of us were alone. As much as he wanted to, it was obvious that Jounouchi didn't consider Hirutani and the other gang members as friends, and they likewise felt the same for him.

"'I... I can't believe how much you're reminding me of myself.' I spoke up. Jounouchi looked up at me questioningly, and I proceeded to explain myself, 'That's exactly how my life had been... make one or two mistakes, and everyone rejects you. And the same thing happened to me in junior high, where I tried to start over, but no one let me... I didn't think there was anyone else out there that was going through the same thing.' I smiled awkwardly.

"Jounouchi seemed just as taken aback as I had been when he heard my words, 'But... you're not in a gang or anything, right...?' was the first thing he asked. 'No.' I replied, 'I wasn't willing to be with people I didn't like just to have companionship. That is the difference in our situations.' Jounouchi looked down, seeming ashamed of himself now. I hadn't meant it that way; all I had meant was that we dealt with our loneliness in different ways, but that shame he was now exhibiting showed me how much he truly hated gang life, how much he really just wanted to get away from all of them and find a real friend instead.

"'Jounouchi... leave Hirutani and the gang.' I suddenly said, hardly thinking my own words over before they came out. Jounouchi looked up at me in shock, 'What...?' I didn't let my determination die down quite yet, 'You heard me. Leave the gang. You obviously hate it, and it's not good for you. It's not worth having companionship if you're that unhappy.' I said firmly.

"Jounouchi glared up at me, 'You think I haven't considered leaving before? It's not that easy... I mean, yeah, I could leave, but then...' he frowned, 'I can't be alone again now that I've had people to hang out with... even if we're not friends, that's all I want, someone to be with during and after school... I don't care if it's a crappy group, at least it's someone.' he looked up determinedly at me.

"'Well what if I were to be that someone?' I suddenly asked. Jounouchi stared at me in shock, 'What... do you mean...?' I realized now, that I didn't want to be alone either, and even more than that, I didn't want Jounouchi to be unhappy. I didn't think I'd be able to stand watching Hirutani's gang anymore, knowing now how Jounouchi felt. 'You don't have to be alone, and you don't have to be unhappy. Neither of us do. We can be a group, or a gang, or buddies, or whatever you want to call it. Just the two of us.' I grinned, really beginning to grow fond of the idea, 'The world turned its back on us, so we can turn our backs on the world. Highschool starts for both of us soon, and if we can go to the same school... then we can be buds. Sure, we'll still have our bad reputations, but at least we won't have to deal with them alone, and at least you wouldn't have to go around with that stupid gang anymore.'

"Jounouchi stared up at me, seeming to consider my offer for quite some time. Finally, he grinned as well, suddenly raising his hand up and taking mine in a handshake, 'Honda Hiroto, it's nice to meet you. I'm Jounouchi Katsuya, your new best friend.'

"After that, the two of us planned our course of action. We decided that we would go to Domino Highschool together, because it was situated right in between our two junior highs, not to mention the entrance exams were relatively easy to pass. Better yet, Hirutani and his gang were already planning on going to Rintama High, a slightly older school that was near Domino High, but had even easier entrance exams. Hirutani's gang also had a policy that members are not allowed to leave except under certain situations. One of these situations is if a member was no longer going to the same school as the leader, they were no longer obligated to be in the gang, since it was more difficult to meet up with the gang from a different school.

"Jounouchi decided to use the excuse that Domino High was closer to his house (which it was, though only slightly), and also he was going to say that he had an older cousin who went to Domino High, and who could easily integrate him into the school and help him gain high status as a bully, though this was a complete lie. Once we had gotten everything planned, Jounouchi said he would go back to Hirutani and report what had happened with the territory fight against Hayashibara, then wait a few days before announcing his decision to go to Domino Highschool.

"I offered to escort Jounouchi back to his gang, but he insisted that that wasn't necessary. So off he went. We had agreed to meet at a nearby burger joint in about a week's time so Jounouchi could tell me if our plan had worked or not, and also just so we could hang out for the first time. And in said week's time, I arrived at the burger place, taking a seat and waiting patiently for Jounouchi. He soon showed up, only ten or so minutes late, and grinned at me, saying that the plan had worked. Hirutani had been disappointed at Jounouchi's decision, but because of the gang's policy, could not stop him. He even considered going to Domino High himself, though decided not to because the entrance exams were "too tough." So Jounouchi agreed to continue participation in the gang until April, when the first highschool school year would begin.

"Time passed, and Jounouchi and I got together as often as possible to... "study." At least, that is what we said we would do, study for the Domino High entrance exams, but we almost always ended up just talking or going to the arcade. We got along great. It was like we were made to be each other's best friends, but because Jounouchi was still involved in Hirutani's gang, we wouldn't be able to hang out very often until junior high was over with.

"However, all the same, I was happier during those times than I had ever remembered being, and I think Jounouchi was too. And you know what they say, "Time flies when you're having fun;" entrance exams seemed to arrive almost immediately after we had become friends, and while both Jounouchi and I struggled with them, we did barely manage to make it into Domino. Better yet, we ended up with the same home room, Class 1-B.

"Domino High pretty much turned out as we expected; there were other kids from both of our junior highs there, so word soon spread about our bad reputations, leading to students avoiding us and teachers shaking their heads at us. But Jounouchi and I didn't care this time. We no longer felt alone, and that was all that mattered. We didn't care what people thought of us, so we decided we might as well have some fun by living up to our bad reputations. We ended up becoming the "bullies" of the Freshmen year. While we by no means beat people up or did anything too cruel, we did pick on people and occasionally take things from them. Our reputations, of course, only grew worse because of this, but Jounouchi and I were happy anyway. At least, we thought we were...

"I don't think at the time we realized what true happiness was, since we had been miserable for so long. Just the fact that we were no longer miserable seemed like happiness to us. But we still weren't good people, and I think deep down be both hated ourselves for that. And we took that hatred out on other people. Those who would always be themselves instead of giving into peer pressure and acting "cool," those were our favorite targets. I think it's because we were jealous of them, that they could show their true selves and still be happy, even if other people didn't accept them for that. There was one kid in particular, he was in our class, and he was just so weird... He was extremely short, wore leather under his school uniform, was obsessed with games (not sports or video games, but things like checkers and cards), and had the weirdest hair anyone had ever seen. His name was Mutou Yuugi.

"He was our most common target, that weird little Yuugi kid... Jounouchi and I never even really discussed why we picked on him; we just seemed to have an unspoken agreement that we would. I think we hated how he seemed to have no problem with being a loner. He would always bring his little games to school and play by himself while all the other kids went to recess. And he was always so polite and kind towards others, even though some treated him cruelly, like Jounouchi and I did. Actually, most students weren't really that mean to him; they respected him for being who he was and all, but even with that, he really only did have one friend, a girl name Mazaki Anzu.

"Anzu is what most would call a "cool girl." She was always pretty popular, so she had other friends besides Yuugi, meaning she often left him alone to do his own thing. But she would always return to hang out with him occasionally, and Yuugi seemed just fine with this. Anzu was also very strong-willed. Whenever she caught Jounouchi and me picking on Yuugi, she would yell at us as if she was our mother. And usually the people who were strong-willed enough to stand up to us like that were also the people who would have no problems telling a teacher on us, so whenever she'd show up, we'd leave Yuugi alone for the time being; we didn't want to have to deal with teachers more than we had to.

"Then there was that one day... seemed to be just an average day. Jounouchi and I went into the classroom during recess, only to find Yuugi talking to himself. Annoyed at this, I noticed he was holding some weird golden box that looked like it was from Egypt. I snatched it from him and decided to have a bit of fun, tossing the box to Jounouchi as Yuugi tried to catch it. Jounouchi looked inside and saw that the box was filled with pieces of a golden puzzle. (the Sennen Puzzle, as I'm sure you've already guessed) Annoyed that Yuugi would have something so girly, Jounouchi tossed the box back to me, but Anzu ended up catching it from out of no where.

"No idea how she managed to get into the room without anyone noticing; Anzu can be scary that way. But anyway, after enduring a bit of yelling from her, Jounouchi and I left the room. We were upset that our fun had been stopped, but our concentration soon changed to a different issue: Ushio the hall monitor. Now, Jounouchi and I may've been bullies, but we were nothing compared to Ushio. He was this huge guy with a warped sense of justice. Probably the tallest and most muscular person in the school too. He acted as if he was always doing good, but in reality he would force people to "hire" him for services that they didn't even want him to do.

"Jounouchi and I saw him in the hall and he heard us talking about bullying Yuugi. He left after only giving us a small hinted warning, so we thought that we were safe, but Ushio had other plans...

"So anyway, once we were passed that obstacle, Jounouchi revealed to me that he had stolen a piece of Yuugi's puzzle. We thought, with our sick sense of humor, that it would be funny if Yuugi could never finish it, so Jounouchi ended up throwing the piece out a window into the school pool. But just for a second after he threw it, I noticed he had an expression of pain... he looked sad and angry, but I think it was more at himself than at Yuugi, and for that once instant he also looked as if throwing that puzzle piece was one of the biggest regrets of his life.

"Of course, Jounouchi would never admit to feeling that, and I would never admit to noticing that he felt that, so it was never brought up. Then, we went on with the rest of our day like normal. The next day wasn't so normal though...

"The next day at recess, Jounouchi and I had been told by a random student that someone wanted to meet us behind the school building. So we went there, not thinking much of it, but were surprised to see Ushio there waiting for us. Without saying anything, he approached us. We stood there quietly, wondering what he wanted. Then he suddenly, unprovoked, punched me in the stomach, winding me and causing me to fall to the ground in pain.

"Jounouchi, half in shock, retaliated by attacking Ushio. Even though he was much faster, Jounouchi's hits hardly hurt that tank of a human at all, so all Ushio needed to do was get one hit in, and Jounouchi was finished. And he did just that, blocking one of Jounouchi's hits with his left arm, then punching Jounouchi right where he had punched me with his right.

"Both weakened from the blows, Jounouchi and I tried in vain to defend ourselves, but Ushio was just too strong. He kept attacking us, hitting us over and over again until we were too weak to stand.

"He then left back towards the front of the school, leaving Jounouchi and me sitting there in pain and confusion. However, Ushio soon returned with Yuugi. Suddenly it seemed clear to both of us: Yuugi must've requested for Ushio to do this to us, as revenge for us always picking on him. Sure, it didn't seem like something Yuugi would do, but it was the only logical explanation, right...? However, Yuugi seemed just as shocked as we were, asking if we were okay and asking Ushio why he did this.

"Apparently, Ushio had opted to become Yuugi's "bodyguard" (without Yuugi's consent) by beating us up. He told Yuugi that for ¥200,000, he would teach us a lesson for picking on him and also allow Yuugi to hit us as much as he wanted. Yuugi refused... he said, 'I can't do that to my friends!'

"I'm sure you can imagine how shocked both Jounouchi and I were, to hear Yuugi say that after we had been so cruel to him. And then... when Ushio was going to keep hitting us, Yuugi stood in front of us and said to hit him instead. Ushio did just that, Jounouchi watching helplessly. He said that the charges still applied, and threatened Yuugi with a knife if he didn't pay the ¥200,000 by the next day. After that, Ushio left.

"That night, I stayed at home, feeling guilty for how Jounouchi and I had treated Yuugi, and how he had taken a beating for us. But that's all I felt, guilt. Jounouchi felt much more. He had been touched by Yuugi's kindness, and from Yuugi stating that he considered us friends. He wanted to amend how terrible he had been to Yuugi, and he wanted to become friends with Yuugi...

"Even though it had only been him and me since highschool started, Jounouchi was now ready to find new friends. He had just been waiting for someone to reach out to him, to not hate him because of his reputation. I didn't feel the same way; I wanted it to remain how it had been, just the two of us, like we had originally agreed. We had turned our backs on the world, and now Jounouchi wanted to return to it, but I didn't. I wanted to remain in our own little world, the one the two of us had created together. But that night, I was not aware of the step that Jounouchi would take towards our future with Yuugi, the first step to ensuring our destinies.

"If I had known that night, I'm certain I would've tried to stop him... but I'm now more glad than anything that I didn't. That night, Jounouchi returned to school and dived into the pool fully clothed. It was dark, but he searched and searched, diving over and over again and feeling around the bottom of the pool until he found the piece of Yuugi's Sennen Puzzle he had thrown in. He then located Yuugi's house, knocking on the door and meeting Yuugi's Grandpa. Jounouchi explained everything about Ushio and also returned the puzzle piece to Sugoroku Jii San, asking that his name remain anonymous.

"And that night, Yuugi solved the Sennen Puzzle... I'm not exactly sure what happened after that... apparently, Mou Hitori no Yuugi played a Game of Darkness with Ushio, causing him to go crazy. I think he's still in a mental institution today...

"Then the next day, when I was approaching Jounouchi to say good morning... I heard him talking toYuugi in the halls. He said that... that Yuugi had shown him friendship... "Something you can see but can't see..." and that he wanted to be friends. Jounouchi hadn't talked to me at all about wanting to become friends with Yuugi, so as you can imagine, I was quite shocked.

"I didn't want to lose Jounouchi. I had finally found a friend, and if he was to become friends with Yuugi, then I was afraid he would abandon me... of course, I was just being stupid and selfish... I never even thanked Yuugi for protecting us the previous day... instead, while I didn't pick on Yuugi as much as I had, I was still cruel to him when I had to be around him. Jounouchi, numerous times, tried to get me to try being friends with Yuugi, but I refused, thinking that if I wouldn't be friends with him, that Jounouchi would eventually have to choose between the two of us, and I was confident that he would choose me. But I was wrong; Jounouchi never did choose. He found a way to make it work. He would hang out with Yuugi in some classes and me in others, then switch off who he hung out with after school. He was determined to keep both of us as friends, and as he continued hanging out with Yuugi, he began to make even more friends.

"While he and Anzu did argue a lot, they at the same time hit it off and became pretty close, since Anzu would often hang out with Yuugi while Jounouchi did, and so they ended up becoming friends also. Then, as Jounouchi became better and better friends with Yuugi and Anzu, he became less of a bully and a jerk, and classmates started hating him less. He became more of a class clown than anything, and people enjoyed his company, even though they started making fun of him a lot. Jounouchi didn't seem to mind too much though; he enjoyed the attention either way. Teachers also started acting a bit better towards him. Instead of just shaking their heads and sending him to detention, they would lecture him about keeping quiet in class and about how he was ruining his future. The fact that they now bothered lecturing him showed that they finally had some hope in him.

"Needless to say, I was jealous. People still considered me an outcast, a troublemaker. And Jounouchi was leaving that status without me. Sure, it was my own fault, but I didn't want to blame myself. I wanted to blame Yuugi. I kept telling myself that it was his fault that Jounouchi and I were growing apart, and that if I could just keep being mean to him, things would eventually go back to normal.

"I was so stupid. As Jounouchi slowly grew happier and happier, I grew more miserable, and I no longer cared if Jounouchi was happy or not. All I cared about was if I was happy. I was a selfish bastard.

"And then there came Nosaka Miho... everyone at school called her "Ribbon Chan" because she always wore this cute yellow ribbon in her hair. When I was busy wallowing in my own grief, I started to turn back to my old habits of quietly observing people. Once I went to the library to return a book and noticed Ribbon Chan there. She was the student librarian and was quietly organizing some books. I watched her for a little while. I had never noticed how graceful and cute she was... but she was also very shy. Definitely not the type of girl to go for a guy like me.

"Even with that in mind though, I began returning to the library every recess to watch her, as I had been watching Jounouchi when he was in Hirutani's gang. I developed a mad crush on her, and eventually couldn't take just sitting there watching anymore. I ended up confronting Jounouchi about the issue, seeing if he could give me some advice. After making fun of me a bit, (as was to be expected) Jounouchi grinned, saying that he would take care of it.

"After school that day, I was walking with Jounouchi, who ended up approaching Yuugi. To my horror, he ended up telling Yuugi about how I felt for Ribbon Chan. I half-wanted Yuugi to laugh at this news, to tell me I was pathetic and didn't stand a chance with her, just so I could have a good excuse to hate him, but he was of course understanding and promised to keep it a secret.

"He also brought me to Sugoroku Jii San's Kame Game Shop, to look for a potential present for me to give Ribbon Chan. I ended up settling on a blank jigsaw puzzle; the point of it was to write a message on it, then break it up and give it to someone as a gift. I wanted to confess how I felt to Ribbon Chan this way, but I wasn't poetic at all, so I ended up getting Yuugi to write if for me, since he seemed like the sensitive type.

"The next day, Yuugi brought the gift to school and Jounouchi put it into Ribbon Chan's desk. However, there was a problem: Our crazy bitch teacher, Chouno Sensei, decided to have a desk inspection that day. She soon found the present in Ribbon Chan's desk. She opened it and began putting the message together, saying that dating was against school rules as she read it aloud. She then asked who had written it, and as I was about to stand up, I was surprised to see Yuugi suddenly stand up in my place. He stated that he had written the message, earning laughs from different classmates.

"I was in shock. Once again, even though I was terrible to him, Yuugi had stood up for me, (this time literally) and sacrificed himself for my sake. My stomach sunk. I felt terrible, like I must've been the worst person on the face of the planet. Then, Jounouchi suddenly stood up too, claiming that he had put the present in Ribbon Chan's desk. Of course, neither of them were lying, but at the same time, they were taking the rap for something that was my problem. I felt touched, and at the same time sick to my stomach.

"I finally realized why Jounouchi had become friends with Yuugi. It wasn't because he wanted to abandon me... it's because Yuugi was a great person, who had reached out to him when Jounouchi needed someone. Yuugi could give Jounouchi much more than I could ever get him. I was barely better than Hirutani's gang... all I could do was be a source of companionship for Jounouchi, but for the first time in my life, I realized that we were never really truly friends. We were just a couple of bullies, trying to use each other to support ourselves, as if we were two people drowning together, both trying to stay afloat by pushing the other's head down into the water. I wanted that to change. I wanted to become true friends with Jounouchi, and with Yuugi too. I stood up, and told Chouno Sensei that the message was mine.

"I'm not exactly sure what happened after that. Chouno Sensei's makeup suddenly disappeared, showing that her face was really hideous. She left the classroom, telling us to forget that class session had ever happened. So we were off the hook, not really knowing how her makeup had come off. I think it was Mou Hitori no Yuugi who did it, because Yuugi suddenly seemed pretty out of it after Chouno Sensei left, but I've always been too embarrassed to ask him...

"After that, I acted kinder to Yuugi, but it wasn't out of guilt; I genuinely wanted to become friends with him. And we did. He is one of my best friends now, and I ended up becoming good friends with Anzu too. As for Jounouchi and me, we got along better than ever. We still pick at each other and bicker a lot, but for the first time we were truly friends. We were no longer trying to use each other to keep ourselves from drowning; now we were both working together to get ourselves out of the water at the same time. And now that we had Yuugi and Anzu, getting out of that water didn't seem so hard anymore. Our group of four kept moving along together, making more friends as we continued our lives, adding to that group. And I think every time someone joins that group, they realize for the first time what it means to have friends. Jounouchi and I definitely realized that, and we've changed for the better ever since..."