Disclaimer: All canon-based characters, situations, and plotlines are copyright to their original owners, creators, and designers. I make no profit, nor want any.
Story Title: Halloween Tricks
Chapter Title: Fight For Fun
Characters: Juudai, Johan
Story Word Count: 22,287
Chapter Word Count: 3,147
Genre: Friendship, Humor, Supernatural
Rated: PG-13
Status: 8 of 8 chapters
Notes: This takes place in between Juudai vs. Johan's duel in 106 and 107, and Juudai vs. O'Brien in 108 and 109. This picks up right where the last chapter left off. Also, I use the anime effects for cards, in case anyone was wondering. Comments and criticism gratefully accepted.
Summary: Juudai gets it into his head to throw a Halloween party to welcome the transfer students. But there's one new student who thinks there's a much better way to spend the holiday of the spirits.

Juudai fell back a bit as the insectoid warrior smashed through Sparkman and drove his life points down even farther. I've got to win. Whatever this was, it wasn't what Saiou, or the Light of Ruin, or whatever that had been had predicted, and it wasn't what he'd dreamed about just a couple of weeks earlier. It was something that he could handle. But at the same time, there was something off about the whole situation. It didn't feel right.

Juudai had always been able to get to know people through their dueling. With each turn of this duel, he grew more and more certain of one thing: he'd been dueling Hachiro all along. Not something or someone wearing him, as had happened before. But this was the real person.

All right. So why all of this? Juudai liked having fun with duels. To think that someone was trying to scare everyone else, and obviously not in a fun way for Halloween, annoyed him. He'd went to a lot of trouble to set all of this up, and now people were getting scared. If winning, and winning hard, was what it took to get fun back, then Juudai was prepared to do it.

He was already fairly sure on how he was going to win. His deck had been giving him what he needed all along. No one had said anything to him, but he didn't need it to know what the cards wanted to do.

He shot a quick look over at Hachiro's side of the field; Zera the Mant and that face-down monster were still there. Skill Drain made it hard for him to use some of his better monsters, but he could get around it, as he already had with Hane Kuriboh. Not to mention, it wasn't as if Skill Drain were going to be that much of a problem for very long. He'd have to work fast to finish this duel, find out what was going on with Hachiro, and then have as much fun as possible until they absolutely had to go to bed.

With a single smooth movement, he pulled his next card and could not help the broad grin that burst forth across his features. Just one more and I've got it all. He trusted that his deck would come through for him, just like it always had.

"I play O-Oversoul, and summon back Clayman in defense mode!"

Manjoume groaned audibly from the crowd. "Juudai, just finish him and get it over with. Stop playing around."

"Hey, playing around is what I do best!" Juudai retorted, grinning.

"Don't remind me."

Hachiro glared at them all, his voice darker and deeper once again. "May I remind you that your souls are on the line here?"

Whatever response he might have expected could not have been what he got. Manjoume didn't so much as look nervous. "Juudai's going to win. You've already lost, you just haven't figured it out yet."

"Aniki never loses!" Shou declared fiercely, echoed a moment later by Kenzan. "Well, almost never! But he won't lose to you!"

Hachiro waved one fist at Juudai. "We'll just see about that! I'm like nothing you've ever seen before! I'm going to devour all of your souls!"

Manjoume tilted his head a little, his gray eyes distant. "Actually, you're not."

"Of course I'm going to devour your souls!" Hachiro's voice briefly lost that deepness, and he sounded more like a fifteen year old whose voice was just starting to break.

The black Osiris snorted, glaring at him contemptuously. "What I meant was that you're like nothing we've ever seen before. We have seen all kinds of people and creatures and cosmic abominations that want to devour our souls." He started to tick off on his fingers. "There were the Seven Stars. Most of those were dark duels that threatened to kill whoever lost them. Kagemaru wasn't a pushover, either."

"How would you know?" Shou taunted. "You weren't the one dueling him!"

"Shut up!" Manjoume glared over at the smaller boy, who only grinned mischievously back. Pretending to ignore him, Manjoume kept on going. "Then there was Saiou, who was a real pain." Those who had known Manjoume the previous year tried to maintain a straight face, since Manjoume himself hadn't been that easy to get along with then either. "We've seen a whole lot of people and creatures that say they want to end the world, eat our souls, or whatever it is they want. You're nothing all that special."

Hachiro very nearly exploded at that. "How can you, Manjoume Jun, be saying all of that? You're sticking up for that…for that Osiris Red! For that guy who beat you! You're too good to be beaten by someone like him! You shouldn't be wearing that, you should be in Blue where you belong!"

A collective sigh rose up from every third year and at least half of the second years. "Manjoume-kun wears that because he earned it," Asuka said, stepping forward a little. "He's come a long way from being who he was when he first started here." She glanced at him, and very few were surprised to see him blushing beet red. "Though he has a long way to go, too."

Hachiro shook his head even harder. "He's playing defensively! He doesn't have anything that can get through my strategies! He can't use his effect monsters. He doesn't have any way to get anything on the field that will stop me from finishing him on my next turn! He only has one card in his hand!"

Almost as soon as he finished speaking, he cocked his head a little, as if listening to someone else. Johan, Manjoume, and Juudai all stared at him. They'd seen that sort of look before, and others had seen it on them.

"You claim to have studied Signore Juudai's deck. Perhaps a pop quiz is in order, na no nae." Professor Chronos strode up, his arms folded over his chest as he stared down at the first year. "What cards does he have that can turn this entire situation around, especially given what he's already played?"

Hachiro didn't act as if he'd heard the question. He shook his head once again, then turned towards Juudai. "Is that all that you're going to do?"

"Nope!" Juudai shook his head and held up the one card he had in his hand. "I play R-Right Justice, destroying one spell or trap card on the field for every Elemental Hero I've got on the field! And since I've only got one, and you've got that Skill Drain, that's what I'm going to be destroying!"

His opponent's jaw dropped for a moment, before a crafty look entered his eyes. "So you've got your monster effects back. Is that all?"

"Yeah. I didn't really need to do that, though. But you'll see why I did once the duel's over with." Juudai grinned cheerfully. Everyone's comments had made him feel that little bit much happier. His party was one hell of a success after all! Everyone was having fun! Well, maybe not Hachiro, but once the duel was over, they could find out what his real problem was.

Hachiro drew a card and the smirk was something horrible to see. Somewhere along the line, no one had actually noticed when, all of the special effects that weren't directly related to the duel had just stopped. Hachiro didn't care what anyone thought anymore. What mattered now was just beating Juudai in this duel, and Baou had promised that he would do that for him. This very card proved it.

"I play Book of Taiyou, turning one face-down monster face-up! And the monster that I choose is mine, Guardian Baou!" Book of Taiyou, when played on a face-down Guardian Baou, enabled the duelist to bypass the summoning requirements necessary. The plan was simple and perfect in his mind. "Zera the Mant, destroy his Clayman!"

Yes. This will be your victory. Baou didn't care what this school had suffered before his arrival. He didn't care about their souls or about anything but winning the duel. There is something strange about this Yuuki Juudai. He hadn't realized it until the duel was in progress. Power slept within that boy. Great power.

Power that he either wanted, or wanted to destroy. Before it could awaken, and destroy him.

Once again, Zera swept over to Juudai's side of the field and brought his fist down in a crushing attack that blew Clayman away completely. Juudai's life points were down to a mere four hundred, and with Baou's natural attack points being twice that, there was nothing that could be done to stop this duel from being Hachiro's.

"Guardian Baou! My favorite monster! And the one that's going to win this duel for me! Attack Juudai's life points directly!" There was something of a collective gasp from the spectators as Baou leaped forward, ready to blast at Juudai with all of his strength.

Juudai waited until Baou was just about to hit, before he made his move. "I activate the effect of Necro Guardna, sleeping in my graveyard! By removing him from play, I can negate the attack of one of your monsters!" Baou's fist was stopped by the filmy presence of Necro Guardna as he folded his arms protectively around Juudai.

"I wasn't aware that you were here, Baou." Necro Guardna spoke softly.

"You might say that I was Special Summoned." Baou smirked briefly as he returned to his side of the field. "I won't be staying long, unfortunately." He could wreak quite a bit of havoc if he could. Unfortunately, that was not to be.

Juudai blinked a few times. "Hey, I didn't know that you had a spirit partner! That's pretty cool!"

"What? I don't know what you're talking about." Hachiro reacted instinctively, sensing a chance to regain at least some of the ground he'd lost.

Juudai tilted his head to the side. "You mean you can't see him? Too bad. But Guardian Baou's really there, helping you fight."

"A card" Hachiro laughed derisively and looked around at everyone else. "Do you believe this? He's so weak he's reduced to fairy tales to try to throw me off my game! He thinks the cards are more than just holograms and paper!" Which they were, but why turn down a chance to shatter Juudai's reputation? That was what this whole duel was about.

"They are." Johan said quietly. "I can see him too. Even if you can't, you've got a bond with him. That's something you should treasure."

Manjoume snorted a little. "Guardian Baou. He's better than some monsters I could name."

Someone else had fastened onto other words that Hachiro had said. "Aniki isn't weak!" Kenzan growled, his eyes flashing in the starlight. "He's beaten better duelists than you!"

Hachiro smirked smugly. "That's what he wants you all to believe. It's just fool's luck. My own cousin had to save him from being stupid back in his first year. I know just how much of an idiot he really is. Just because you've all been fooled doesn't mean that I will be!"

"Oh, really?" Juudai looked a little confused now. "I don't really remember needing to be saved from anything back then. Who was your cousin?"

"I doubt that you'll remember, but it was Takadera Aoi. You, being an idiot, tried to call up a Duel Spirit and my cousin dueled to save you."

Juudai looked over at Shou, and both of them began to laugh. Hachiro didn't like the sound of that, it was just too …too happy. Why were they laughing about Juudai's idiocy?

"You've got that all wrong!" Juudai told him, shaking his head. "He was the one who summoned up Psycho Shocker, and Psycho Shocker nearly took him and his friends when he did it. Didn't he tell you that?"

Hachiro snorted some. "He didn't have to. All he had to say was that Psycho Shocker had been summoned and that you were involved, and that was all that I needed to know."

The roar of laughter, all of it directed right at him, nearly took Hachiro off of his feet. Shou clung to Manjoume as he tried to prevent himself from simply falling over with how much he was laughing. Manjoume wasn't exactly being quiet himself, either.

"You've got a great deal to learn, Yamaguichi-kun." Professor Chronos said, struggling to maintain a serious demeanor and failing miserably. "I believe it is your turn, Signore Juudai?"

Juudai nodded and drew his card. Hachiro sneered; whatever it was, there was no way that he could win. His defenses and his strategy were simply too well put together. But Juudai was still smiling!

"I play HERO Flash! By removing H-Heat Heart, E-Emergency Call, R-Right Justice, and O-Oversoul from play from my graveyard, I can Special Summon one Normal Elemental Hero of mine, and any Normal Monster that's an Elemental Hero can attack your life points directly this turn!"

Hachiro sneered even more. "All of your really good monsters are the ones with effects. Your fusion monsters. Go ahead. You can't hurt me."

"I Special Summon Elemental Hero Neos!" Juudai declared. The brilliant white hero of the cosmos leaped up beside him, and those with the eyes to see it saw him nod a greeting to Juudai, as well as to Guardian Baou. "Now, attack his life points directly!"

Hachiro had only enough time to see that Neos's attack strength was two thousand and five hundred: three hundred more than his own current life total. Then the powerful monster was in front of him, slicing him down the middle and draining everything from him: his life points, his hope of victory, and his belief that Juudai was a liar and a fraud.

No one…no one could win like that because of luck. I was wrong. I should've known better. Juudai might laugh and joke around, but he had still won: because he was a better duelist. Because he'd destroyed a card that hadn't needed to be, in order to get part of his combo where he needed it to be. All of my studying and I still didn't figure out that he would do that.

He looked up when he felt a hand on his shoulder, and saw Juudai looking back at him. "Is that why you pretending to be possessed? Because of what happened with your cousin?"

"I thought…I thought that you'd tricked the whole school. That you weren't really a great duelist and if I could make you scared in front of everyone, then they'd all see the truth. Or what I thought was the truth." Hachiro drooped his head. He wouldn't tell Juudai about how he'd brought in Guardian Baou. It wasn't as if he would be there for much longer, anyway. The spell had only been temporary, and he suspected that it would maybe last another couple of hours at most.

Juudai patted his shoulder comfortingly. "Don't worry about it. Everyone makes mistakes. So, you want some cider or something? That was a really fun duel, you know! Maybe we can have another one sometime? I'd really like to see Guardian Baou in action!"

Hachiro found a smile somewhere on his lips. No one seemed to be taking his idiocy all that hard. "Someday. When I'm better at this." Just what 'this' was, he left up to Juudai's imagination.

"You got it." Juudai declared. "And maybe someday, you'll be able to see your partner too. It's been known to happen."

With another wave, he headed over to the refreshments stand, meeting Johan, Shou, and Kenzan along the way. Hachiro watched for a moment or two before he quietly left the area, heading deeper into the forest. He was very tired, and he thought he just might go to bed early.

He is more than he seems to be. Baou's voice murmured softly. Much, much more.

"You can say that again." Hachiro sighed deeply. "At least, if nothing else good came out of this, I was able to meet you. You always have been my favorite."

Baou appeared before him, arms folded. Whether or not I can stay, you are my partner, and I am yours. That will remain unchanged until one of us dies.

Hachiro smiled again, one that had a touch more strength to it. "So, partner. Want to give me a few pointers before you have to go? I think I can use the help."

Of course. And if there was a hint of slyness in the smile, Hachiro didn't really care. Baou was a fiend, after all, and despite his having uncovered the truth, Hachiro knew that he wasn't that good of a person either. He would duel Juudai again one day, and that day, he knew that he would be the victor.

Back at the party, the last duel was still the general subject of conversation between Juudai and his friends. "That was a pretty neat way to get around Guardian Baou's summoning restrictions," Johan mused. "He's got talent as a duelist."

"I hope I can duel him again sometime soon." Juudai grinned as he sipped his cup of cider. "What would you have done, Johan?"

As the two of them began to hash out Johan's strategy against such a deck, they wandered farther away from the group, until they stood by the oceanside. They stood there side by side, companionable silence falling over them.

"This was a really great party, Juudai," Johan said quietly. "Thanks for having it."

"No problem. I'd have a dozen more if I could!" Juudai yawned some and stretched. "Too bad that Hachiro can't see Guardian Baou. But maybe he will someday. Like I said, it's been known to happen before. Not everyone can see them from when they're a kid."

And that brought up that same thought as it had when he'd first met Johan. When had he first started to be able to see Duel Spirits? He thought sometimes that he could remember, but then the snatches of imagery floated away on mental winds.

Not so far away, other eyes watched and if she had had a mouth, Yubel would have smiled. She knew what he was thinking. She knew him so very well. She hadn't needed to do anything after all. Her beloved had won without her. And he hadn't even needed those dreadful Neo-Spacians. It's nearly time, my beloved Juudai. Soon, now. So very soon.

In the morning, Cobra would hand out dis-belts to everyone, and the extreme duels would begin.

Juudai still hoped for the day that Hachiro could see Guardian Baou.

And Guardian Baou returned to his own world, and waited for the day when he would meet Yuuki Juudai again. When that day came, however, it was unlike anything that either of them could have imagined.

The End

Note: Takadera is a canon character. He showed up in episode 14, and he and his friends Mukouda and Isaka summoned up Psycho Shocker through a Ouija Board. Juudai dueled him to free their souls. For the purposes of this fic, Takadera dropped out of Duel Academia shortly after that, and his cousin got a very garbled account of what happened, so he blamed Juudai for everything.