Ugh. College. Not as much free time as I expected. But then again, writing is my life so I'll always make time for it. =]
Rated: T (for Teen). Will be raised to M (for Mature) in future chapters.
Warnings: Language, Violence, Drug Use, Sexual Themes, Character Death.
Disclaimer: Do I own Yu-Gi-Oh? Nope. Not yet. But I'm working on it.
Inspired by: Jay-Z. I don't own him either.
Run This Town
It had all happened so fast, before any of us had a chance to stop it. One day, he was healthy. The next, he was in a hospital bed. His death was quick; so sudden that I didn't even have time to mourn, to really understand what had happened, to comprehend his loss. And then came the funeral, a rushed service due to a shortage in our finances. After my grandfather's death, we couldn't keep the house, the shop that the elder had worked so hard to build. It was his life. But now that he was gone, so was it.
The private high school I had been attending was the second thing to go. Education was important, but not as important as a home to go to or food to eat. And so now there was nothing tying me to the neighborhood I grew up in. That month, I lost everything. My grandfather, my house, my school. And the funny thing about it was that I had not shed a single tear, for it all happened so fast that I didn't even feel it go. It was as though I had become immune to the suffering, as if I was just numb.
The houses to his right flew by the window in distorted flashes. At first, he thought it was because his mother was driving too fast. Then he realized that it was just because he wasn't really paying attention. His mind was focused on something he couldn't pinpoint --or maybe on nothing at all-- and his stomach churned, a glass bubble of anxiety settling into it's pit. Some people would be happy to move; maybe they saw it as a new life, a fresh start. But not Yuugi. It was a new life, alright, but it wasn't one that he wanted.
At first, the colors of the houses they drove past were bright blues and pastel purples. Some where pink. Others a clean white. But as the minutes passed, the colors were less bright, the houses less distinguished. He knew they were close now, not by the street names, but by the growing sense of dread in his stomach.
Out of the corner of his eye, Yuugi looked at his mother. Sara Motou, a woman who had gone through it all in her short thirty-five years of life. Her normal violet eyes were dark and tired, not from age but from experience, from disappointments, from loss. Her dainty hands were curled around the steering wheel, and her eyes were glued to the road straight ahead, looking forward, never once glancing in the rearview mirror to see all of what they were leaving behind. Her hair is a long wave of blonde that falls over her shoulders in loose curls. She never styled it anymore. She never put make-up on anymore. She hasn't for two years, since the day that she lost her husband to a girl half her age.
She glanced over at her son and flashed him a smile; one that didn't reach her eyes. None of them do anymore.
Yuugi offered her a half-smile in return, and then turned back to the window. He looked at the people on the streets; walking, loitering, smoking. The more time that passed, the less people he saw, and it was only when the car pulled to a stop that he turned to his mother again. He inhaled a deep breath, building up his strength, and then went to unbuckle his seatbelt. He paused when his mother's ivory hand fell over his. He looked back up at her and, this time, was rewarded with a soft upturn of her lips.
"It'll be okay, Yuugi," she assured softly.
He nodded and looked away from her. "I know," he whispered, but he really didn't.
Pressing the red button of the seat buckle in with his thumb, Yuugi untangled himself from the belt and opened the car door. It was only when his mother joined him outside though that he actually looked at his new house. The first thing he noticed was that it was gray and peeling like it was sun-burned. It was an apartment complex with three floors, theirs being on the very bottom. With a motion from his mother, Yuugi followed her inside. The outside screen door led into a small hallway with three mail slots built into the wall, each with their own key lock. To his left were a flight of stairs, leading up to the second and third floors; to his right, a brown wooden door.
He watched his mother dig into her jean pockets and pull out a key. She stuck it inside of the lock, jingled it a little, and then pushed it open. She looked back at him. "Are you okay, honey?"
"I'm fine, Mom." Yuugi walked inside the door first to prove his point and quickly glanced around, noticing that their furniture was already there. He scanned the rest of the apartment. There was a living room, a kitchen, a small bathroom, and two bedrooms. He walked towards one of the bedrooms and peeked inside. The walls were an off-white, just like all the other ones, and the floors were made from wood. He stepped forward with one foot and pressed down lightly, biting the inside of his lip when he heard it groan underneath his weight.
"So," his mother asked, coming up behind him. "What do you think?"
Yuugi turned from the room and looked at her. He smiled slightly. "It's great."
Yuugi had never attended a public school. There were no uniforms, no hand-picked religion associated with the school, and practically no rules or structure. At least, not at this school.
His class was huge, almost as though the school didn't have enough money for classes so they decided to just make one. He had arrived twenty minutes early and had settled down in the back near the window, trying his best to just disappear into the background. Everyone else was sitting on desks, laughing and chatting away. Others stood in the corner, exchanging phone numbers, or at least that's what Yuugi's positive side told him when he saw them slipping things into each others' hands.
He could hear people around him asking who he was, or why his hair looked like that? He almost wanted to turn around and tell them that, regardless of what they thought, he wasn't deaf, but then decided against it. No point in making enemies his very first day.
Out of everything that he'd lost, his old school was the one he'd cared about the least. Everyone who attended was usually rich and stuck-up anyways. Sure, he had made a few friends along the way, but none of them were lifelong bonds. The only reason he went to that school was because of his grandfather. The elder wanted Yuugi to have the best education he could afford, which meant that his grandfather usually worked overtime in his beloved game shop. His mother contributed as well, but as an assistant for a small company in human resources, she wasn't exactly making half of what everyone else's parents were.
Not that he cared, though. Money was something that Yuugi never saw as a valuable attribute in a friend or significant other--not that he had many of those. Of course, people needed money to survive, but he was perfectly happy living in the small house behind the game shop with his loving relatives who wanted nothing more than to see him succeed in life. All of that was put on hold, understandably so, when his grandfather died. Though he didn't have very good life insurance, his mother refused to cremate him, knowing that he had always wanted to be buried next to his dead wife, Yuugi's grandmother, Susan.
Up till then, most of their income had gone towards Yuugi's education, thus they didn't have a lot in savings. That's why his mother had to sell the game shop; to pay for his grandfather's funeral and to have some extra money to find another, smaller, more affordable place to live until she found a new job.
But regardless if he was in his old school or in this one, it did not matter. Yuugi had a plan; a way to get out. He had always been bright, his grades reflecting his intelligence in straight 'A' form. All he had to do was get through the remainder of this year, ace all his subjects, and then get a merit scholarship from Columbia University, or any of the other Ivy-League schools. From there, he would work part-time to help out with the finances and then by the time he graduated, he could get a high-paying job with a degree under his belt and support his mother for the rest of his life. It had been his plan from the start. Besides, all they ever needed was each other. His mother was his life, his star, his everything. And he knew he was hers.
Yuugi was brought out of his musings when he heard someone pull up a chair beside him. He pretended not to notice their presence, unsure of what to do.
Yuugi hesitated, and then looked up at the person invading his personal bubble. He was met with wide doe-brown eyes and a warm, inviting smile. "Hi," Yuugi greeted as he continued his observation. Long tumbles of paper-white hair brushed against the boy's shoulders, the other sporting a white sweatshirt and blue jeans.
"You're new, right?"
He nodded. "Yes, I am. My name's Yuugi."
"Nice to meet you," Yuugi said with a small smile.
"Likewise." Ryou brushed one of his bangs to the side and tucked it behind his ear. "It's not very often that we get transfer, especially in the middle of the year." He laughed lightly. "Usually we have people dropping out, not in. Why did you transfer anyways?"
Yuugi shrugged his shoulders, looking down at his desk. "I moved."
"Oh, I see," he replied softly.
Ryou changed the topic after that, as though sensing Yuugi's reluctance to talk about anything concerning the reasons for moving. Instead, they talked about their favorite subjects, the type of music they liked, what they did in their free time, and everything else that acquaintances shared when getting to know each other. Yuugi looked up when the door to the classroom opened, and a man in his mid-forties walked in and settled by the teacher's desk.
Ryou followed his gaze. "Oh, Mr. Simon is here. Well, I'll see you later, Yuugi. We can sit together during lunch if you'd like."
Yuugi beamed. "I would love to. Thanks."
Ryou smiled in response, and, nodding slightly, he got to his feet. He gave Yuugi a small wave and then turned, walking over to his desk. It was then that a big guy, probably twice Ryou's size, pushed him into a nearby desk. Yuugi felt himself lean forward to stand up, out of instinct, but stayed seated.
"Move freak," the guy spat, making his way to the other side of the room. Ryou didn't seem to be affected by this and continued toward his seat like nothing was wrong.
That night, Yuugi came home with a black eye because someone pushed him into his locker, and he spoke up. He guessed it was because he was still under the impression that everything was wrong.
"You should be more careful, Yuugi," Sara said a few days later. "This is the second time you've come home from school hurt."
"I know," he replied from his spot across the table. "I'll try not to be so clumsy, Mom."
It had almost been a week since they first moved in. So far, everything seemed to be going fine, excluding Yuugi's accidents at school. Of course, he didn't tell his mother about what was really going on in school; no reason to make her worry. She had enough on her plate. Yuugi would deal with it. Besides, it wasn't like he was in pain twenty-four seven. Just those times that he spoke up for himself.
He had realized since day one that if he had just kept his mouth shut, he probably wouldn't be the target for many of the bigger guys at his school. However, he was not someone who was easily broken. He had gone through too much, dealt with too much pain to let a few guys push him around. Compared to what he'd been through, this was nothing. But he would keep quiet anyways, if not for his own, then for his mother's sake.
Exhaling a sigh, Yuugi drummed his fingers against the table top as his mother sorted through the bills, trying to decide what was necessary and what wasn't. Lights were a must. Cable and telephone. Not so much.
He glanced up when she shifted in her chair and reached into her pocket. She took out a twenty dollar bill and extended it towards him. "Can you run to the supermarket, Yuugi, and pick up some food for tomorrow?"
He nodded and plucked the bill from her hand, even though he knew he should have just said no. It was 9:00 P.M. In his old neighborhood, it would have been fine. People his age were out and about all the time, and everyone knew each other. Here, it was a completely different story. The people outside were not the same people he grew up with, and there were barely any streetlights to guide him to where he wanted to go. It was too dark to go anywhere and far too dangerous. These were the streets where people died, where drugs and meth labs were found in kitchens more often than food, where gangs ran the streets; the town that the Major had given up on a long time ago, deeming it too 'problematic', unworthy of the local police to waste their time and resources on.
His mother must not know how high the crime rate is here. But in the end, he would rather go, than let her go. He would rather be hurt, than her.
On his way out, he grabbed his jacket, protecting himself against the crisp autumn air that greeted him with a chilling breeze. The supermarket wasn't that far, only about three blocks away. However, the amount of people lingering the street surpassed the amount that did so in daylight hours. Yuugi avoided them as much as possible, crossing the street or taking slight detours. He kept his hands in his pocket and his head hung low, trying to blend in. When he was only about a block away, he heard a loud, angry shout from inside the house he was passing. Against his better judgment, he paused.
There was another round of cursing, followed by the sound of glass shattering, possibly a mirror or a vase. A moment later, the screen doors flew open and a blond came tumbling out. "Eh, fuck you!" he yelled when the door slammed close behind. "I don't need ya, you bastard."
Yuugi didn't even realize that he was still watching everything until the blond turned and spotted him. Immediately, the amber eyes narrowed. "Do you hav' a problem, buddy?"
Yuugi quickly shook his head in response, and then made to leave. He wasn't fast enough though, and he flinched when his arm was grabbed harshly, nails digging into his skin. He was yanked backwards and spun around to meet an amused smirk. "You must be new around here, kid," the blond said. "Let me give you some advice. Keep ya nose out of other people's business." He tightened his grip on his arm, and Yuugi had to bite his lip to keep from wincing. "Wouldn't want ta get hurt, now would ya?"
Yuugi nodded and went to pull away, but the blond didn't let go. Instead, the latter slipped his fingers into his pocket and pulled out the twenty his mother had given him for food. "You can't take that!" Yuugi yelled before he could stop himself.
The punch was quick, so fast that Yuugi didn't even see it coming. One minute he was standing, the next he was on his knees, doubled-over in pain. He wrapped an arm around his stomach and placed his free hand on the ground to hold him up. He struggled to breathe in the air that had been literally knocked out of him, as his stomach throbbed with unreal pain.
"Lesson number two," he heard the blond say. "If you're gonna speak up, you gotta learn how to defend yourself."
Yuugi's eyes clenched close as he tried to regain a steady breathing pattern. He faintly heard the sound of footsteps walking away from him. He couldn't let the man leave. He couldn't bear to go home and tell his mother that he lost the money she had given him; however small amount that may be. If he let that man leave, he would not only be losing his money, but his pride and his dignity. And, besides from his mother, that was the only thing he had left. He inhaled sharply. "You can't take that. I need that money," he said, easing his eyes open once more.
He heard the steps falter, surprised, and then looked up to see the blonde staring at him, a spark of interest flashing in his eyes. Suddenly the man started laughing. "You got spunk, kid," he said, his lips turned upwards into a large grin. He gestured behind him with his head. "Follow me."
Alarms went off like a thousand bells in the back of Yuugi's mind. His mother would be waiting up for him, and for all he knew, this man was taking him to an abandoned alley to beat him some more, or rape him, or kill him. But part of him felt like even that would be better than returning home to see his mother's crestfallen expression when he told her that someone had stolen their money. The worst thing about it would be that the next time they needed something, his mother wouldn't let him go and instead go herself. And Yuugi's heart and soul would break if something ever happened to his mother.
The blond had already started walking, leaving Yuugi to decide whether to follow or not. He stood to his feet slowly, his stomach still stinging with promise of a bruise, and dusted off his pants with his hands. He looked in the direction the man was walking, then back the way he came.
He turned to his left and followed.
To Be Continued...
Reviews/comments appreciated as always.