"And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had…"
3: Side Effects
"I'm home~!" rang Yusei's voice as he walked inside. "Jack? Bruno?"
"We're in here!" came Jack's voice from the living room area. Yusei entered it to find Jack watching TV and Bruno on a spare laptop.
"Was everything okay today?" Yusei asked, setting down his box of tools.
"Fine," both boys replied.
"Well, that's good," Yusei said with a smile, "Crow should be home soon with dinner."
The day went on in silence. Jack watched TV lazily while Bruno worked on his laptop, trying to recreate the lost program. Bruno worked hard and without a break, as this work was the only thing distracting him from the events of that day.
Yusei busied himself with fixing up his D-Wheel. When Crow arrived with take out, everyone was good and hungry. Bruno hadn't eaten anything all day and was starving. However, he wasn't sure if his nerves would let him keep his food down. But he decided to take the chance, knowing he'd regret it if he didn't eat. Plus, Jack might think that seemed suspicious, and do God knows what to him.
He was silent all throughout dinner as Yusei, Jack, and Crow chatted. He purposely sat way from Jack, putting as much distance between him and the crazy blonde as possible, but not as to make it seem he was trying to avoid him. He didn't dare make any kind of eye contact with anyone at all, and he could feel Jack's eyes on him, staring right through hm.
"Bruno, how's the new program coming along?" Yusei asked. Bruno dropped his chopsticks on his plate, startled at having been spoken to.
"Uh… it's… doing okay…" he said quietly. Yusei gave him a strange look. Bruno picked his chopsticks back up, his hand shaking.
"He worked on it all day," Jack said, making Bruno freeze. He felt his stomach drop. He no long felt hungry.
"That's good," Yusei said, "If you need any help at all Bruno, just say the word."
Bruno didn't answer. He stared blankly at his plate. Help… that was exactly what he needed. But not with his engine program.
"You okay there, buddy?" Crow asked, patting Bruno on the back, "You look a little pal-"
Bruno gasped and leapt up at Crow's touch, his face turning paler. When Crow had touched him, all he could feel was Jack violating him. Everyone around the table gave him a strange look.
"S-Sorry," Bruno said, sitting back down, "I'm just… a little jumpy…" He went back to eating. Crow gave him a concerned look.
"Are… you sure you're okay?" Crow asked.
"I'm fine," Bruno lied. Yusei's expression changed to match Crow's.
"Bruno… are you still having… issues?" he asked. Bruno ignored him, feeling Jack's gaze burning into him.
"You know, you'll never feel better if you don't say what's bothering you," Yusei continued, putting his hand reassuringly on Bruno's other shoulder. Without knowing, Yusei had put his hand on the hickey's Jack had given him. Bruno cried out and jumped backwards, tripping on his chair and flying back. He scrambled to his feet, his face pale and his heart threatening to rip itself out of his chest. He didn't even explain himself this time; he just ran from the table and threw himself into his room, flinging the door shut.
"What… was that all about?" Crow exclaimed, looking at Bruno's overturned chair. Yusei put his chopsticks down and stood up.
"I'll go talk to him," he said, and he turned to leave.
"Wait," said Jack, putting his hand on Yusei's shoulder, "This happened earlier. I'll go talk to him. Know how to handle this."
"You… sure?" Yusei asked quietly. "Trust me," said Jack, and Yusei nodded. He stood up and made his way to Bruno's room.
Jack knocked on the door.
"Bruno? May I come in?"
"No!" replied the voice from inside.
"Well I'm coming in anyway," Jack said, opening the door, knowing it wasn't locked because he had personally broken it. He found Bruno huddled in a corner, curled up like a ball, shaking.
"Shhhh…. It's okay…." Jack cooed, carefully making his way over. He stroked Bruno's head.
"Come on, stand up. I'm not going to hurt you."
"L-Lair!" he gasped, curling up tighter.
"No, I mean it. I'm not going to hurt you. I swear it on Red Daemon's Dragon. Now please, stand up." Bruno looked up at Jack.
"You swear… on your Dragon?" Jack nodded. Slowly, Bruno stood up. But looking at Jack made him anxious, and he backed up into the corner. He was completely cornered by Jack. He felt as if the walls were closing around him, suffocating him. He couldn't fight it back any longer. Bruno let out a wail and began to cry hysterically, burying his face in his hands. Jack sighed.
"There there. It's okay," he said, wrapping his arms around the sobbing Bruno. Bruno had never felt so alone in his life, or at least, the tow weeks he remembered. He felt even more alone with Jack's arms around him. There was no comfort in them at all. No comfort anywhere in the entire world.
Suddenly, Bruno felt his nose begin to run, fast. He felt it run down his hands.
"Jack, let go! M-My nose…!"
Jack let him go. Both boys gasped. There was red flowing from Bruno's hands to the floor. It had gotten all over Jack's white jacket.
"My jacket!" Jack gasped.
"M-My nose…!" Bruno wailed. He threw himself to his trash can and bent over it so the blood wouldn't continue to drip on the floor.
"I'll get paper towels!" Jack said, leaving the room. A few minutes later, he returned with a full roll.
"Here, use these," he said, ripping off a few. He handed them to Bruno who took them and covered his nose. He felt like his face was a faucet. His hands were dripping and sticky. Why was his nose bleeding? Was something wrong with him?
"Hey, is everything- Oh my God!"
Yusei had come to check on them.
"Jack, what happened?"
"I don't know!" Jack said, "He just started bleeding!"
Bruno relaxed a little. He felt safer with Yusei in the room.
"Here, tilt you head back Bruno," Jack told him. Bruno began to tilt his head back.
"Don't do that!" Yusei hissed, pushing Bruno's head down. "Jack, are you stupid or something? That's the worst thing you can do! He'll drown in his own blood! Bruno, keep your head down! And inch your nose, hard!" Bruno did as he was told.
"But-" Jack began.
"You, outta here!" Yusei commanded, pushing Jack out of the room, "Go help Crow clear the table!"
Yusei returned by Bruno's side. He pulled off more paper towels and held them out.
"Change," he said, and Bruno took them and replaced his old bloody ones. It looked as though someone had tried to clean up a murder scene.
"W-Why is this happening?" he choked out.
"Hm…" Yusei said, "I think it might have to do with when you were attacked the other day… The blow to your face must have damaged a blood vessel in your nose. You'll probably be prone to lots of nosebleeds now…"
Bruno felt himself tearing up. He hated this, all of this. Jack was making his life utterly miserable. Yusei saw Bruno's eyes turn glossy with tears.
"Don't cry!" he said, "That'll make it worse!" Saying that only made Bruno more upset. He began to whimper.
"Shhh, calm down. I'll go get you some ice. A nosebleed isn't the end of the world. You'll be okay." Yusei left.
Oh Yusei! Bruno thought, How can you be so kind when everything is falling apart?
Yusei returned with a bag of ice.
"Bend your head down," he told Bruno and Bruno obeyed. Yusei moved Bruno's hair and set the bag of ice on his neck. Bruno immediately began to shiver.
"You should change your paper towels…" Yusei handed him new ones. Bruno switched them and threw out the bloody ones.
"Now, just pinch your nose for a few minutes and we'll check again."
They sat in silence as Bruno pinched his nose tight, waiting for the bleeding to stop.
"That idiot…" Yusei muttered under his breath, "If I hadn't come in here when I did…"
"D-Do you get nosebleeds too?" Bruno asked, his voice muffled.
"They're not uncommon for me," Yusei said, "I bump into my D-Wheel a lot when I work on it. Jack, on the other hand, doesn't know anything about anything, especially first aid."
Bruno was pleased to hear the disdain in Yusei voice when he talked about Jack.
"Alright, let's check your nose," Yusei said, bending down. Bruno moved the paper towels away. His face was bloody, but no blood was running from his nose. Yusei handed him new paper towels. Bruno blew his nose. It was only excess blood.
"When you think you're ready, gently begin to breathe through your nose again," Yusei told him. After Bruno was sure his nose was okay, he slowly began to exhale and inhale from his nose.
Without warning, a warm rush flooded up Bruno's throat. By pure instinct, he bent back over the trash can and threw up. It was blood. He spit, and then looked up at Yusei with horrified eyes.
"I'm gonna die…!" he cried, and Yusei saw the color run out of his face, "I threw up blood…!"
"You're not gonna die," Yusei told him, "That's natural. When you have a nosebleed, blood drips down your throat because your nose and throat are connected. You're stomach doesn't want the blood, so it purges it. You're gonna be fine." He patted Bruno on the back. "C'mon, let's get you cleaned up. You look like you just killed someone."
After Bruno was all cleaned up and his trash changed, he and Yusei returned to the living room. Jack and Crow looked up. Jack had changed his jacket.
"You okay…?" Jack asked, standing up. Bruno shrank back behind Yusei. He didn't feel like dealing with Jack anymore. Yusei saw Bruno become nervous. He also saw Jack narrow his eyes as if he were becoming angry at Bruno for not responding.
"He's not feeling all that well," Yusei spoke up, "He lost a lot of blood and needs rest. So please don't bother him." Yusei turned and led Bruno back to his room.
"Don't mind Jack. He has a short temper," Yusei told him. Bruno looked at the floor.
"Yusei…" he said, "Thank you… for everything…"
Yusei smiled warmly and patted Bruno's shoulder.
"I know you're still not fully recovered from the incident the other day," Yusei said, "but… you really need to relax… No one's gonna hurt you while we're around."
Oh the irony of that statement Bruno thought.
"Well, get some rest," Yusei told him. Bruno sighed.
"I don't know if I can…" he said quietly. Images of waking up to find Jack hovering over him flashed through his mind. Yusei frowned.
"Why?" he asked, "Why can't you sleep?" Bruno didn't answer. He just looked down at the floor, wishing Yusei would stop asking him questions.
"Bruno, why aren't you answering me?"
"Well, good night Yusei," Bruno said, ignoring Yusei's question. He walked to his bed, got in, and pulled the covers over his head.
"Bruno…" Yusei said. Then he turned off the lights and left the room. Bruno bit his lip to keep himself from making any noise as tears ran down his face.
When Yusei returned to the living room, both Jack and Crow silently stared at him.
"I've decided," Yusei told them, "tomorrow, I'm going to take Bruno to a therapist."
"What? A therapist?" Jack exclaimed, "You think he needs therapy?"
"You guys saw how strange he's been acting," Yusei said, "Getting beat up and having something stolen shouldn't have provoked this kind of behavior. I think his attacker played some kind of mind game with him or something. But Bruno won't tell me anything, and the only way he'll ever feel better is by telling someone what happened. He won't tell me, so to therapy he goes."
Jack was not happy about this at all. If Bruno told the therapist what really went on, the he could get into some serious trouble. He couldn't let him ruin everything! Not now.
"I'll take him," Jack said, "It… It's the least I can do… this all happened because of me…" He laughed internally at how true that statement really was.
"No, I'm taking him. Just me," Yusei said sharply.
"What? Why can't I take him?" Jack hissed.
"Jack, you're not exactly the most sensitive person to be doing this," Yusei told him, "And plus, Bruno seems to only trust me."
"That's because you've been babying him!" Jack snapped.
"See? It's reactions like this that makes you unqualified to take him," Yusei said, "Now enough's enough! My decision is final!"
"Who made you in charge anyway?" Jack hissed.
"The Crimson Dragon!" Yusei shot, yanking his right glove off and pulling back his sleeve to reveal the mark of the Crimson Dragon's head. "Now, enough's enough! I don't want to hear another word from you Jack!"
Jack grimaced. If Bruno said something… Well, Bruno would regret it.
He'd make sure of that.