It hit me just the other day that Jaden goes through a lot of crap in seasons 1-3 of GX, and for most of it he kept up a sunny outlook on life. He was always smiling and laughing and being all optimistic. Then I said "BS! Somewhere in that boy's crazy messed up life he was completely miserable." And then this song came into my head and I was like, "You know, Jaden really is the most like a superhero. I mean hello, Elemental Hero deck!" The rest just sort of came to me.

So, enjoy!

I wish that I could cry
Fall upon my knees
Find a way to lie
About a home I'll never see

It may sound absurd, but don't be naive
Even heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed, but won't you concede
Even heroes have the right to dream
And it's not easy to be me

I'm only a man in a silly red sheet
Looking for special things inside of me
And it's not easy...
It's not easy to be me

~Superman, Five for Fighting

His shoelace had snapped.

It really wasn't such a big deal when you compared it to their current situation- they were stuck in an alternate dimension after all.

But it had been such a long day. He'd walked across a desert, battled real Duel Monsters, fought his way through an army of Duel Ghouls- which now included Ms. Fontaine, Chazz and Syrus- and now it was God's-Hour-O'clock at night and he hadn't been able to sleep yet because he'd offered to take the first watch. So, he'd spent the last hour walking through the hallways armed with only a flashlight (which was running out of battery) and his deck. He'd been jumping at every sound because he was so on edge and finally he'd stepped the wrong way and SNAP, there went his shoelace.

So Jaden stood and stared at it for a while, thinking about how sad it looked, his shoelace…half of it lying on the floor and the other half hanging limply from his foot.

And then suddenly he was slumped against the wall while tears came rolling out of his eyes, one after the other…seemingly endless, and without his permission.

Jaden buried his face in his hands and tried to reason with himself.

'It's only a shoelace; I can get another one! There's bound to be one somewhere. I'm only crying because I'm tired and hungry and I…'

He was gasping now, and somewhere in the back of his mind he knew that he was going to hyperventilate if he kept it up. But it seemed that each time he told himself to calm down, he only cried harder. So finally he gave up and sank to the floor, pulled his knees up to his chest and gave in to the misery and self-pity that was welling up inside him.

At that moment, Jaden wished he could be more like Zane. Not in that he wanted to go off the deep end and dress in black and start dueling with a zapper around his neck. No, he wanted to be like the Zane from his first year, the Zane who had always been calm and who- no matter what the circumstance- knew what he was doing. You could bet that if Zane were here he wouldn't have been curled up on the floor sobbing like a child, he would have been pacing around those halls with his head held high and daring those Duel Ghouls to come at him- he'd show them! He would have put them in their place, and he would never let something like a shoelace throw him off.

Realizing that he was being kind of loud, Jaden raised his hand to his mouth and bit down on his wrist in a desperate attempt to muffle the sobs. It didn't really work.

He banged his head against the wall repeatedly, hoping the pain would make him snap out of it, but now he had a headache on top of everything else.

'Maybe I'll just stay here…maybe nobody will notice I'm gone…maybe-'

"So, here you are."

Jaden would recognize that voice anywhere, even if it hadn't been followed by "Winged Kuriboh told me where you were. Said you needed a friend."

Jaden pulled himself together at last and looked up into Jesse's face. He didn't want Jesse to know that he'd spent the last who-knows-how-long crying over a shoelace though, so he tried to smile, but knew it looked pathetic so he stopped.

"It's nothing," Jaden said. His voice sounded off though, so he cleared his throat and started again.

"I'm alright, I just…hit my head. Really hard." There, that wasn't a lie, and his head really did hurt.

Jesse nodded and plopped down next to Jaden. He put his arm around his friends shoulders and said, "Okay."

Jaden sighed in relief, but then Jesse said, "No why don't you tell me why you were crying before you hit your head against the wall?"

Jaden intended to ask how Jesse could have possibly known that, but instead he blurted out, "My shoelace snapped in half."

Then he winced, half expecting Jesse to laugh. But of course, he did no such thing. Rather, he looked down at Jaden's feet and nodded solemnly.

"Well, so it did."

Jaden laughed, but it turned into a sob. Then, in a tearful hiccupping mess, the rest of the story came tumbling out of him.

"I don't know w-what to do anymore, Jesse. I have no idea what I'm doing or why this is happening and I'm scared and I just…I just want to get home!"

Jesse pulled Jaden closer to him and Jaden collapsed in his friends arms, hiding his face in Jesse's shirt. They sat like that for a long time; Jaden cried until he had no tears left and Jesse just let him cry, occasionally reaching up to smooth his hair back. When he'd finished crying Jaden didn't try to get up, instead he moved closer to Jesse, wrapping one arm around his waist and the other resting on his chest.

Jesse gently brush the remaining tears off of Jaden's face and leaned down to rest his head on top of Jaden's.

"Fell any better?" Jesse asked.

Jaden was surprised to find that he did. "Yeah, actually I do." There was a brief pause, and then Jaden said in a sheepish voice, "Sorry for breaking down on you like that."

Jesse laughed lightly. "You have nothing to apologize for, Jay. Even heroes need to cry sometimes."

Jaden shifted his head so that his ear rested directly over Jesse's heart. "Thanks, Jesse. You're the only person who's ever said that to me."

Jesse leaned back against the wall with a smile on his face.

"Go to sleep, Jaden. I'll make sure nobody comes through here."

That night Jaden did not dream about sand statues that collapsed in the wind or giant eyes watching him from a gray sky. That night Jaden dreamed about sitting on the roof of Duel Academy, the sun setting behind him and Jesse's green eyes and smiling face in front of him.

Oh my god, cheesy!

Oh well. The world needs more cheesy fluff ;)