Disclaimer: I don't own either Yu-Gi-Oh GX nor Yu-Gi-Oh 5D's
So, I am on a YuGiOh starve in the last few months. Went through the first two seasons of GX (again) and the first of 5Ds like they were water and the tag force games. So, I thought I could make my take on it, using as main character my favourite one. Maybe you already guessed who he is from the title, but hey, if you didn't, I'm not going to spoiler. Last note before I let you to read: I'm going to use the original japanese names, here. No Leo and Luna, Rua and Ruka. Nice? Nice. Now, enjoy! My first take on YuGiOh fanfiction!
"Hmm-hmm... Hmmm..." She hummed to herself as she brushed her hair a few more times before finally tying them in place in the usual two tails that made up her look, before she put the brush back to his place and focused her attention on her uniform. Everything was in place, not a wrinkle. She smiled at herself, her aquamarine locks swinging as she turned around.
It was the start of a new scholastic year at Neo Domino City's Duel Academia, and as always, each year, she wanted to look at her best. Her mother always told her that if the first day of school went well, then the whole year would go well. She had always believed in that and always tried to look and act her best on the first day of school.
"Ahhhh! Where's my shirt?" Her brother, on the other hand... "Ruka! Did you..."
"Your closet, Rua." She didn't need to look behind to know that he had completely forgot to look for the first place where one would usually look for clothes into. His nervous laugh as he backed away was indicative. She sighed as she checked her school-bag for the last time, thinking about just how Rua seemed to be anything but similar to herself. It was like everything that got left out of her had gone to Rua... Including a healthy body, it seemed. She got sick so often that it wasn't funny.
"Alright! I'm ready!" She picked up her school-bag and walked out of her room, finding her brother still trying to tuck the shirt in while munching on a pancake hanging on for dear life from his mouth. "I'm gonna kick ass this year in school!"
"I hope you can get better grades too, Rua... Last year's report wasn't very encouraging." Rua just laughed a bit more.
"Heee... I will do better this year, I'm sure!" Ruka rolled her eyes. If only wishing could make things true, her twin would already be Duel King and a superhero.
"Ahhh! Patty! Bob! Tenpei! Wait for us!" The two twins were currently running, risking being late because Rua had forgot his school-bag and had to go back and pick it up. Their three friends just laughed at their predicament.
"I bet Rua-kun forgot his school-bag!" Patty giggled as the two finally came to a halt, the younger of the siblings panting and the older one sighing in relief, since if their three friends were walking that relaxedly it meant they still had time before class started. It was the first day so they wouldn't be doing much, but still, being late on the first day would have been a very bad start.
"Guilty as charged..." Rua replied, laughing out loud right after. He then threw himself past bobby and over Tenpei, latching around his neck. "Hey, Tenpei! You've got some new machine cards, didn't you? Didn't you? Let's trade!"
"Ahhh! Rua, get off!" The bespectacled kid lost his footing and fell to the ground with the aquamarine boy on top of him, much to the laughter of the others. Ruka finally regained enough breath to stop panting and smiled uneasily at her classmates.
"Good morning, Ruka!" Bob cheerfully saluted her, while Patty looked at her female friend with a bit more apprehension.
"Hmm... You're still sickly, Ruka? That's too bad..." She sighed and straightened her posture, crossing her arms over her chest. "Seriously... I thought you would have gotten better over break. You stay almost all day holed up in your house... It's a great house, but I wish you could come out and play more often."
"It's alright... I was born like this, so it's not like I can do much about it." Ruka tried to make her smile a bit more charming and calming, but it didn't seem to have that much of an effect on Patty. She tried tactic number two: changing the subject, just as Tenpei got back on his feet and they all started walking towards the academy's doors. "So... How was your break?"
"Hmm... It was nice. Me and my parents went on vacation! We visited lots of famous places, you know!" Patty suddenly went starry eyed. "And we even went to see a pro dueling match! It was beautiful!"
"Ahhhh! Pro dueling?" Rua let go of Tenpei and was suddenly in Patty's face, much to her surprise. He moved to her right to let her walk, but he kept his head in her field of view. "How was it? Who fought? Who won? What cards..."
"One question at a time, Rua-kun!" Patty stopped the torrent of questions, and Rua just grinned at her. The dark-skinned girl sighed and put a finger to her mouth. "Hmm... I was sleepy because it was late. I don't remember the names of the duelists..."
"Ahhh, too bad... What do you remember?" Rua went through depression and back to high spirits in the arc of two seconds.
"Well... I remember that it was a retirement match." Bob blinked, confused.
"A retirement match?"
"It means that it's the last match before retiring from pro dueling of one of the contestants." Tenpei explained, earning a 'Ooooh' of understanding from Bob. Patty nodded.
"Yes, but... Now that I think about it it's strange... I mean, it's usually old people who retire, right? Both the duelists, though, were really young. That I remember." The blonde haired girl continued, and Rua pressed her on for details.
"Then? Come on, tell me who won! How did he won? What did he look like?" Patty focused and recalled back to the duel.
"Well, one duelist had black hair, while the other aquamarine one... Only lighter than your own, and wore glasses... It happened that..."
Ten days before
"I-I-I-Incredibleeeeeeeeee! This duel is getting better and better the more it nears its end! As expected from these two duelists!" The roars of the crowd were proof enough that the duel was one of the best anyone had ever seen, but the commentator was the most excited of the whole stadium if the volume of his voice were any indication. "These two young duelists share almost everything! The same age of twenty-one years old, the same day of debut in the pro league, the same three years long career, the same undefeated streak of duels! Today, tonight, though, only one will come out of this dome still !"
The commentator went on to expose the latest moves while everyone observed the field, the two opponents staring at each, one with one big machine type monster on his side of the field, the other one with not a single card face down on the field and just one in his hands, and yet, they were both smiling at each other, the second one a bit more soberly, even if he was the one with the worse situation. He had 1100 life points left while his opponent had only 900, but his field was wide open with the exception of a trap card, while his adversary had one monster with 3000 Attack on his side of the field.
"... This has been a long time coming, hasn't it, hn?" He said, then sighing longingly as he remembered past times long lost.
"Indeed... But are you sure this is what you really want?" The opponent said, remembering that this was supposed to be the other's retirement match. "Retiring? After only three years?"
"I'm already on top of the world, pipsqueak." He snorted. His usual character was back. "I'm an undefeated duelist, I was rich to begin with, I'm beautiful... Why, I might dare to say that I'm perfect." He sweatdropped as he noticed that his ego hadn't changed one bit either. "... There's only one thing left that I want from life... Well, two, actually." And the blush and the stupid face told him that his crush was still there as well, even if it disappeared right after. "But I realized that I can't have one of them by staying in the pro world, staying in one place."
"... It's about aniki, right? I'm sure he..."
"Your aniki doesn't care about the pro world. He doesn't care about dueling like he did before... Not any more." He raised his left arm, bringing up the duel disk and he swiftly drew a card from the deck. "The time for waiting is done. It's time I become proactive about the matter."
"... Well, nice of you to leave me the only unbeaten duelist of our joined group as a farewell gift, then." He smirked as his dark haired opponent looked at the card he had just drew. "I did my homework. I watched all your duels and know the composition of your deck. You're out of gamebreaking cards."
"Am I, now? And yes, I noticed. You modified your deck so that you always had a nice counter for all my moves... But, I noticed that you didn't do it fully." That smirk. He suddenly tensed. Even back in the academy, whenever he smirked like that, it never meant well for him. "About the rules of his duel."
"Huh? What do you mean?" The bespectacled duelist was confused, and his opponent just chuckled.
"Retirement duels are one of the few occasions when duelists are allowed to add forbidden cards to their decks." He paled as his opponent raised his hand and a card out of his other hand to the sky. Indeed, he didn't know that. "Trap Card, activate!"
"A Trap Card...!" While he may not have known about that detail, he remembered the list of all the cards forbidden by the league. The crowd roared and commentator went into hyperdrive. What card will it be? Maybe...
"Activate! Trap Card, Return from the Different Dimension!"
"... Return from..." His eyes widened, this time in confusion and surprise as he saw his opponent light point go down to 550 as he paid the required price to special summon back on the field...
"X-Head Cannon, Y-Dragon Head and Z-Metal Tank!" The three mecha monsters reappeared on his side of the field in all their mechanical glory, before... "Combine! Form XYZ Dragon Cannon!" The three mechanical monsters hovered in the air one over the other, before they approached each other and in a flash of light, the three monsters disappeared to leave place to just one of them. Then he took another one of his cards and put it face down on his duel disk. "I place one card face down. I end my turn."
"... What was the sense of that move?" He voiced his confusion out loud, and his opponent just smiled back at him. He diminished his life points and his XYZ Dragon Cannon can't fight my Jumbo Drill. It's not powerful enough. His eyes slowly fell down to the set up card. ... It's that card then, the real danger... But of all the forbidden cards... He rapidly went through the list of forbidden trap cards. ... I can only think of two cards that could help him in a pinch, but they're both useless to him. At most he could end this with a draw if that was Ring of Destruction. "... My turn, I draw."
"It will be over with my next turn." The black haired duelist said with a smirk, while he just sweated as he focused.
He's bluffing... There's no other way. His number of cards in the deck is still the same, and he only has two left, and I know that he has no cards able to turn around this duel... He wants to end this in a draw. He looked at the card he had just drawn. His last Polymerization. He didn't need it, though. A draw... I guess it's fine. It is his retirement duel, after all. "... It's been a fun duel, Manjoume. Too bad it's over. Super Vehicroid Jumbo Drill! Attack!"
The monster obeyed, speeding up on its wheels till he reached terminal speed while his enormous nosedrill started spinning around wildly and then departed, planting himself into the chest of XYZ Dragon Cannon, sparks flying everywhere. "Hn!" The solid vision explosion raised dust and the loud noise made Manjoume flinch as always as his points dropped to 350, much to his opponent's confusion.
"... You didn't activate the trap card?" He said, confused. "Why didn't you activate the trap card?"
"... Heheheh, Sho. Look at you, all grown up and an undefeated pro-duelist... You had never battled me, though." Manjoume chuckled as he straightened himself and smirked. "You're always so susceptible." He raised his hand as the card did as well, raising itself up from the ground. "Trap Card! Ojama Trio!"
"O-Ojama Trio?" Sho flinched as three puff of smokes.
"Black!" Announced the entrance of the ugliest speedo wearing group of siblings the world of Duel Monsters had ever seen. "We are the Ojama Brothers!"
"... Turn end." Sho just couldn't wrap his head around what had just happened. Manjoume usually used that card in tandem with another that could let him destroy the tokens summoned that way, since they gave 300 points of damage to the opponent for each destroyed one, but he had already used all the cards in his deck that allowed him to do that, and his field was again wide open. "Your last trap card... That wasn't a forbidden card at all. If you could, why didn't you..."
"Put in potent ones? Really, Sho?" Manjoume put a hand to the two remaining cards from his deck and drew one, adding it to the one he had in hand. "Have you forgotten even the basics? Powerful cards do not a strong deck make..."
"It's about how well they work with other cards, I remember that." Manjoume nodded.
"Indeed. Mentioning forbidden cards was just a ruse to throw you off your game and not let you summon that last Steamroid in your hand ahead of time." Sho's eyes widened in shock while his dark haired opponent just smirked again. "And also, because Trap Cards can't be activated in the same turn you set them! And now...!"
"Yeah, do it aniki!"
"Make him beg for his life!"
"I discard the other card in my hand to activate Lightning Vortex!"
"... Lightning Vortex?" The three Ojama stopped cheering when they saw the scary lightning bolt card appear in the middle of the field. "... Aniki..."
"Which destroys all monsters on your side of the field!"
"Waaaah!" Sho covered his eyes as the three Ojama Trio and his own monster disappeared in a big explosion of light, only to fall on his knees right after. "... You... This card..."
"I added it, Sho." Manjoume just smiled as his opponent's life points rapidly descended to zero, because of the effect of the Ojama Tokens. "I usually build my deck just like that to fight my opponents, it's right... Which means that it's easy to just substitute a card or two to throw the strongest ones off their tracks."
"... The strongest ones, huh?" The crowd went wild along with the commentator, while Sho stared at the ground. His undefeated streak ended there, and yet he smiled. "... That was probably the biggest compliment that will ever come out of your mouth."
"Yeah. So don't push it." Manjoume walked across the field and offered his hand to his shorter opponent, helping him back to his feet. "So... Keep it up for me too in the pro world."
"... I was already doing it for aniki. Talk about pressure..."
"Ladies and gentleman! Our winner, and the retiring, undefeated duelist is... ALL TOGETHER! 1!" The commentator exploded.
"10!" One half of the crowd chorused.
"100!" The other half, right after.
"1000!" The whole stadium together. Manjoume laughed and raised his free hand to the sky. Sho laughed and mimicked him, joining everyone but the not about to be sleepy any more Patty since while she could have gotten used to the crowd's anymosity. "MANJOUME THUNDER!" That last shout was the loudest thing heard that evening in the Kaiba Dome.
"So yeah... It went like that."
"Wooooooooooooow! Awesome! Awesome awesome awesome!" Rua got easily excited, it seemed, much to the chagrin of everyone in the classroom while they waited for the homeroom teacher. "When I get older, I'm gonna be a pro dueler just like that guy you don't remember the name of!"
"Rua, the teacher! Pipe down!" Tenpei admonished his friend while the whole class quieted down, hearing footsteps going down the hall. They stared at the opened door for a while, ready to greet the teacher, only to see someone else pass by the door, a male wearing a white shirt and black pants, holding a briefcase with his left hand. "... False alarm, I guess. But who was that guy? I don't recognize him..."
"Maybe he's a new teacher?" Ruka suggested, and Patty blinked.
"... He looked familiar, actually... Maybe I'm wrong, but..." She 'hmm'ed, annoyed. "Why can't I remember?"
He slowly walked down the hall of the building, following the directions he had gotten from the other teacher to reach the principal's office. Suddenly, he stopped in front of a window which was clean enough and received the right light to send back a reflection of his image. He observed the black trousers, the polished shoes, the white shirt tucked safely inside, the red tie. "... No. Nonono. I'm not going like this."
Since it was his first day of work, he had decided that for once he could be more formal, but that just wouldn't be like him. "This is not me." He stretched the tie without removing it, till it just hanged from his neck, then he pulled the shirt out of his pants and opened the last and first button, exposing the first centimeters of his chest, and then pulled up the collar. He smirked. He didn't own a single shirt which collar wasn't big, and that was just him. He smirked as he admired his handiwork. "Now, this is Manjoume Jun... Manjoume Thund..." He stopped midway while raising his free arm to the sky to bring it to his chin. "... Maybe I've got to take a different nickname now that I'm a teacher... Maybe Manjoume Teacher? … Thunder Teacher?"
Chapter 1: The new teacher in town
"Really, Principal? A former pro duelist?"
"Indeed, miss Maria. He should be..." A knock on the door broke the principal's conversation. "Should be him... Come in!"
The door opened slowly, revealing a fairly young man with a mane of long black hair in a shape that defied logic and gravity walking into the room. "Mister principal."
"Ahh... The young Manjoume. Do come in." The slightly overweight man, purple suit that reminded Manjoume of another principal oh so much, stood up and approached him to shake his free hand with both of his own ones. "Manjoume Jun. It's a great pleasure to meet such a prodigy in person."
"You do me too much honour, principal. I'm just a teacher, now." He replied with a smile, though the female teacher noticed how it wasn't a normal smile. He was trying to be pleasant, but it still came out as his usual teasing one.
"Ahh, then let me introduce you to your senpai." The principal joked, releasing his hand to make him turn to the senior teacher. "This is miss Maria. She teaches the middle school children."
"Ah... It's a pleasure, Manjoume-san." The woman extended his hand and Manjoume was really pleased by the honorific. He guessed he could go back to that. He gently shook the offered hand.
"I think we're going to get along just fine, miss Maria." He said, smiling again before releasing the female teacher's hand.
"You're going to be her aide until after summer vacation." The principal crossed his arms behind his back as he continued, noticing Manjoume's raised eyebrow. "I have no doubts about your dueling prowess, but you have no teaching experience, right?"
"... True." He nodded, acknowledging that indeed, he wouldn't put an inexperienced person alone in an important position as that of a teacher. He returned his attention to the young woman. "Then, I look forward to your guidance, senpai."
"Ah... Y-Yes, of course." Manjoume should learn a wider array of facial motions, since using always that same smile, the teacher couldn't understand for her life if he was mocking her or flirting with her, while he just wanted to be respectful. It just left her confused.
"Good. Well, then, I guess you'd better go. Your class is waiting just for you for homeroom to start. Maria will brief you on the working hours on the way." The principal shook Manjoume's free hand once again. "And so, I officially welcome you to Neo Domino City's Duel Academia."
"Thanks, mister principal." Manjoume bowed slightly and then followed Maria out of the room as the elder man returned to his desk, turning around with his chair till he found himself looking outside the window at the sun illuminating the city.
"Hmm... I'm really curious to see if Samejima was right once again."
"Here she comes!"
"Are we sure, this time? Tenpeeeei..." Rua commented, not really up to getting back on his feet for nothing.
"Yes, I'm sure! These are heels! Well, there are some other shoes too... The point is, everyone pipe down and get on your feet!" The class obeyed as one just as the teacher walked into the room, greeted by a collective 'good morning'. "Sit."
"Good morning and welcome back, children. I hope you had eventful vacations, because it's time to study hard." A loud groan was heard in the room, and Ruka sighed. "Before starting though, I wanted to introduce to you to someone. He's going to be a new teacher in the academy starting September." The class's attention though was then brought immediately to the new subject and to the person they had seen passing by the classroom a few minutes before. "For now, he's going to help me with your class. So, may I introduce you to..."
"Manjoume Jun." That was when he made his entrance, smiling smugly with his eyes closed as he walked inside the room under the surprised gazes of everyone in the classroom, including the teacher. Then, he dropped the briefcase on the floor and grabbed a piece of chalk, starting to scribble on the blackboard. In a few seconds, he had filled it with the ideograms used to write his name, he turned back to the classroom with eyes open, this time. "You will refer to me as Manjoume-san. It's nice to meet you a..."
"Ahhhhhhhhhh!" Patty got on her feet and shouted, pointing her right arm and index finger right at Manjoume, much to everyone's shock. The subject of the outburst because of the suddenness of the gesture, the class and teacher because Patty was usually a quiet girl, during class. "I-It's him! It's really him!"
"Him who, Patty?" Ruka asked, trying to discern what was wrong with her friend.
"The Pro! The Pro Duelist who won the match I saw! The one who retired!"
"Ehhh?" The whole class turned as one man to Manjoume again, who recovered as soon as he heard the words 'pro duelist'.
"... Guilty as charged." He replied, chuckling right after. The class broke into whispers, including 'Wow! A pro duelist!', 'He retired so young? But why?', 'He looks so cool!', 'Is he really going to be our teacher?', and so on till miss Maria cleared her voice a bit loudly, making everyone shut up on the double.
"Yes. Manjoume-san is a former pro duelist but he will probably be teaching in a higher grade." Some of the students went 'Awww' at this. "Till summer break, though, he will be my aide in teaching you all. So, let's show him just where those students come from, shall we?" Various nods of just silence were everyone's reply to the question. The teacher smiled while Manjoume took a vacant chair and sat on it beside the teacher's desk. "Alright. We'll start with a small written test to check if you did study, this summer."
"Hmm... Cafeteria food."
"Huh? It's not to your liking, Manjoume-san?" Manjoume and Maria were currently having lunch with the other teachers and the students in the school's cafeteria. The principal preferred for the two categories to not have separate places to eat, as to help them bond.
"No, it's all good. It's just... Nostalgic, you know? I did graduate from the Duel Academia." Manjoume continued as he then scooped up some more curry sauce and rice and brought it to his mouth. "Hmm... Delicious. Do you have breadpan day here too?"
"We did. There was in incident, though, so we had to remove it." Maria laughed nervously right after, remembering how a kid had broken one arm in a silly fight over the last...
"Over the egg breadpan, right?" The teacher blinked, surprised that he had got that right. He rolled his eyes. "Go figure. We had the biggest fights over those as well. The others didn't taste that well."
"Ohhh! The Duel Academia? The one on the island?" Manjoume nodded. "Must have been cool living there! I bet you had some great dormitories!"
Manjoume actually snorted in an unrefined laughter at that. "As long as you weren't in Osiris Red. You see..." Then, he realized something. He wasn't talking to his senpai anymore. He slowly turned around in his seat and he sweatdropped as his gaze fell upon the four eager looking kids standing behind him. "... You are..."
"We're from miss Maria's class! I'm Rua, they're Bob, Patty and Tenpei! So? How was The Duel Academia? What about the dormitories?" The aquamarine boy identifed as Rua continued, much to Manjoume's annoyance. He was way too loud, just like a certain...
"Rua! Guys! Leave the teachers alone while they're eating!" His rage was suppressed when another girl who looked very much like the loud boy came to them and immediately pinched his right ear and pulled.
"Aaaah! Rukaaa! That hurts!" The boy moaned in pain, while who he guessed was his twin sister or something berated the lot of them.
"Serves you right! If you want to ask questions, ask them when people are not eating! And you three!" The other three friends flinched. Ruka didn't get angry very often, but when she did it meant big trouble. "You usually try to keep him in check! What happened today?"
"But Ruka... He's a Pro Duelist!" Bob whined, and the other two had similar miserable expressions. Manjoume groaned.
"Former pro duelist. I'm retired." He cut in and the thought about the situation. This was a situation that would happen time and time again as long as he kept on being a teacher. Handling students. "Say, I'll cut you a deal." The group of five kids all turned to him. "You let me eat in peace, you keep quiet about this and you try to keep the decibels in a zone that doesn't puncture eardrums..." He sent a glare in Rua's direction, who grinned weakly. "After class, I'll answer all the questions you want."
"Really? Th..." Patty and Ruka both slammed one hand over Rua's mouth, remembering what Manjoume had just said about volume.
"T-Thanks! Then, later, Manjoume-san!" With that, they dragged Rua away and the black haired teacher aide sighed.
"I knew this would happen sooner or later, but the very first day?" He returned to his meal under the amused gaze of Maria.
"You have to understand, Manjoume-san... They can't help but feel excited to have a pro dueler, former or not, around. Good thing they didn't remember that you're undefeated." The female teacher drank some water from the bottle that she got in front of her tray. "You're what most of them aspire to be, after all."
"... Heh. Someone who throws away his pro dueling career to follow his other ambitions?" Manjoume laughed grimly, confusing Maria with his affirmation. He shook his head and raised one hand in sign of apology. "I'm sorry. I said too much, pay it no mind."
"... And that's how it went down." Manjoume had kept his promise and stayed after class ended with the five kids who had gotten that promise out of it. Four actually, but Ruka had stayed as well and seemed just as interested as her friends in his words. After a few questions about the academia, Rua had asked him to narrate one of his toughest duels.
He had decided to keep those to himself, mostly because they probably wouldn't have believed some of the stories and also because it was better to keep most of the dangers he had fought alongside Judai and the others a secret, so he told them about a duel he had had against a very old pro duelist in his own retirement match.
"Wow! You're so strong, Manjoume-san!" Rua had respected the volume rule at least in part, it seemed.
"That's a given. Now, though, it's got pretty late." Manjoume turned his head to the class's clock, noticing that it was four PM. He stood up from his chair and 'shoo'ed the students away with his hands. "Come on, back home! Before they arrest me for kidnapping! Scram!"
"Alright! See you tomorrow, Manjoume-san!" Patty was the first to excuse herself, and she was quickly mimicked by Bob and by Tenpei who shouted something about missing his favourite show, leaving just a grinning Rua and a sighing Ruka in the room.
"... Didn't you hear me?"
"It's fine! Our parents aren't at home! We can continue!" Manjoume slapped his forehead. Ruka narrowed her eyes and grabbed his right ear again. "Ahhh! Rukaaaaa!"
"Rua, you still have to study. I don't think today's test went particularly well, if you wrote down that Kuriboh is a light attribute monster." The black haired former pro sweatdropped as the female twin dragged away her complaining brother. She suddenly stopped on the door and turned to him smiling. "See you tomorrow, Manjoume-san. Thanks for the stories."
"Hmm... As long as you keep in check your brother and you call me Manjoume-san, you're welcome... Ruka, right?" She nodded and then bowed before dragging away Rua, still holding him by his right ear, much to his chagrin. Manjoume shook his head and laughed, before sighing loudly. "What a first day. Still, I thought it would be worse." He turned around and picked up his briefcase. "I should go back home too."
After a few minutes of walking, Manjoume reached the building which housed his apartment. When he had started planning his moving, he had passed on a lot of more luxurious ones for the simple fact that this one was near the school and was as such also well connected. If there was one thing that being in Osiris red all that time had been good for was to learn to adapt one self. He found the key and opened the door. "I'm home."
"Aniki, welcome back!" That, and how to adapt the surroundings to oneself. He did restructure a whole half of the Osiris red dormitory into his own flat, and he had done this too. He had bought that apartment and the next one, tore down a wall and made them one.
"Manjoume-sama!" The spirits of the cards saluted him as he put the briefcase down and started slipping out his shoes. One apartment he had turned into a living room connected to a kitchen, the other half, still separated by the wall and a door, was split in half with a bathroom containing a large jacuzzi, and a large room where he kept his bed and all his cards. He hit the jackpot when he had joined the two balconies.
"I'm back... Whoah!" Manjoume's eyes widened and then he frowned as one of the spirits had just tried to tackle him, as usual, and it was always the same. "Spirit of the breeze, what did I tell you about trying to tackle-hug me?"
"That you'd like that very much?" Replied the green skinned sprite.
"NO! THAT IT ISN'T POSSIBLE BECAUSE YOU'RE A SPIRIT AND THAT IF YOU EVER MANAGED TO GET CORPOREAL TO DO IT, I WOULDN'T LIKE IT!" The sprite giggled and then floated till she mock-hugged him around his neck, since she couldn't really do that. His forehead twitched as he observed that his apartment was full of spirits. "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU ALL DOING OUT?"
"Aniki, don't be mad! We wanted to wait for you!"
"Giving you a warm welcome back after your first day of work!"
"We even wanted to cook you something, but... We're incorporeal!" The three Ojama laughed, and were joined in by all the other spirits of the cards that he had found that dreaded day in that well.
"Ahhh, boss! Welcome back!" That, and the Dark Scorpion spirits, and many others, as Don Zaloog's appearance always reminded him. He didn't understand why, but it seemed that while Judai only talked with his spirits during a battle, with the exception of Winged Kuriboh, he had managed to pick up lots of cards which spirits could come out and disturb him at will. "Me and the others of the gang have made a recognition around! There's this nice place you should really check out!"
"Thanks, Don... NOW WILL YOU ALL SHUT UP AND GO BACK INTO YOUR DAMN CARDS?"
"Stupid cards, stupid spirits, stupid me..." Manjoume growled as he turned off the hot water knob and removed his bathrobe, slowly stepping inside the jacuzzi and relaxing somewhat as he felt the small bubbles obtained because of the water's temperature tickling his skin. Also, what's the deal with them just up and leaving?
As much as he knew, Jaden's spirits couldn't just up and leave his immediate surroundings, apart the ones which didn't reside in his cards like his neo-spacian monsters and Neos, but his monsters seemed to be able to leave the cards and wander further and further. The distance seemed to increase by the day, and that unnerved him because he didn't find any possible explanation in the cards' nature, apart maybe Don Zaloog and his gang. He had been one of the Seven Dark Stars, but all the others? So, that only left... "... It must be me, right?"
He knew that seeing the spirits of the cards wasn't something that anyone could do. He was special. That had brought him more annoyance than anything else in his life, or at least that was what he would admit to anyone. Still, he could wrap his head around them just being seen by him, but this was something... He found a yellow butt wrapped in a speedo in his field of view. "... What do you want?"
"Anikiii... We were wondering... Now, guys!" His eyes almost threatened to explode from the bulging when all the spirits appeared again, inside his bathroom and chorused... "CAN YOU PLEASE BRING US TO SCHOOL WITH YOU? PLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE..."
"AAAAAAAAAAAARGH!" He threw his hands to the sides of his head, his poor eardrums feeling all the pain possible. "STOP THIS, YOU LITTLE...! ARGH! FINE! BUT YOU HAVE TO STAY SILENT! STARTING NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!"
"Thanks, Aniki!" And just as they had appeared, the disappeared, along with the voices. Manjoume waited a few more seconds to be sure before removing his hands from his ears and the slowly slumping under the water's surface.
"... Well, at least they're obedient, barring these kind of incidents." Otherwise, it would have been like being haunted.
"Ahhh! The first day of school was awesome!" Rua shouted as he helped Ruka set down the table. A table for two, as always, their parents not being around most of the year, always travelling and leaving them to tend to themselves for the most part. "We met a real pro duelist! Isn't that just the coolest thing ever?"
"Former pro duelist... And did you forget already about the test, Rua?" Ruka set the last plate and Rua just grinned at her.
"I will do better at practice! So I will impress Manjoume-san and maybe he can take me as an apprentice!" Ruka sighed, shaking her head from side to side. She doubted that teachers, even aides, could show favouritisms to students, but also she doubted Rua could really impress a pro duelist. She loved her brother, really, but he didn't take dueling, at least the academic version of it, very seriously. "So, what did you think of him?"
"Manjoume-san? Hmm..." Ruka started thinking about the black haired aide and how he had acted during the day. Most of the time during class he had just stayed silent, observing what the teacher and the other students did, almost studying something himself. Every now and then, she noticed that he would smirk or smile to himself, like he found something really funny, something that was only occurring to him.
She had noticed during lunch how he seemed to have little patience for loud people or people who did insensate things, but he was quick to forgive when she showed that she was in control and could keep the others' attitudes down. He appreciated that, it seemed. He was probably competent in dueling if he really was an undefeated pro and had graduated as the top duelist of his graduating year at the Duel Academy.
"He seemed okay." She couldn't really say anything else about him, with those few pieces of information that she had.
"Just okay? I think he's awesome!" Rua replied, quick to get excited, especially over these kind of things. Then, he pouted. "Too bad he's going to teach another year..."
"That's what miss Maria said... But she could be wrong." Ruka replied, remembering what their teacher had told them, and her brother perked up at that. "If I remember correctly, the teachers have a say in what grade they want to teach... So..."
"So, if we make a good impression on him, he could decide that he likes our grade better and stay as our teacher? Woooohoooo!" Rua cheered, and Ruka smiled even if a bit uneasily. It wasn't that easy, since miss Maria was their teacher, but she guessed that she could use the fact to make Rua study a bit harder.
"Hmm, memo to self. Gotta buy a different coat." He had noticed the previous days evening that even if it was April, afternoons and evenings tended to get a bit chilly, and the only coat in his wardrobe was his usual one that he had wore for years and hardly washed during his schooling days, and he couldn't wear it. Not because of the filth, but because it made him easily recognizable. "I guess I will have to bear it today again."
"Anikiii... You feel so different without your black coat..." Manjoume grunted and closed the wardrobe before walking out of his apartment, Ojama Yellow right behind him, since as promised, he was bringing his 'talking' deck at work with him. It had taken two more days and a repetition of the bathroom incident to make him declare just which day he would be taking them to school with him.
"Tell me about it. I hate this white shirt, but it's the only one I had..." He grunted. "What did I tell you about talking?"
"But we're not at school yet, Aniki." His forehead twitched.
"So what? There are still people on the road! Remember, they can't see you, so what they see when we talk it's just me talking to myse..." And right on the money, he ran into the complex's landlady, an old woman who was indeed looking at him like he had grown a second head. "... Good morning." He smiled forcefully and then high-tailed it out of there, grumbling under his breath. "Memo to self: tomorrow afternoon, it's shopping spree time. Memo to you: shut. Up. In public."
"Now, it's Rua against Tenpei."
"Alright! Manjoume-san! Manjoume-san! Watch me!"
"Rua... Your duel disk." Ruka handed her brother his school duel disk while he embarrassed himself even further since Manjoume was ignoring him, instead focusing his attention on a teaching guidebook the principal had given him. Each now and then though, she noticed one of his eyebrows twitching, like there was something ticking him off.
It had been four days since Manjoume had become miss Maria's aide, and up to that point he had done nothing but observe, learn. She guessed that he would take a more active role starting from the next week, probably by supervising their dueling practice. They would see just what kind of teacher he was from...
"Aniki! Anikiii!" Her line of thoughts got interrupted when suddenly, something small, yellow and ugly floated through a wall and past her right shoulder. She gasped as she recognized it. A duel monster spirit. It wasn't any card she had seen before, but the ethereal appearance and its shape left no room for doubt. She hadn't seen one but her Kuribbon in years. Maybe she... Then, she noticed that it wasn't talking to her. "Anikii, this school is awesome!"
The yellow monster had flew over to Manjoume's side, the black haired aide keeping his attention on the book. She was confused by the gesture, then she noticed that he was frowning. "There are so many kids, and cards, and teachers! Do you remember your teachers, aniki? And the food smelt so good!" Again, Manjoume kept his attention on the book, but Ruka was observant enough to notice an increase in the pressure he was putting in holding the book with his hands. "And then... Ah, right. No talking in public! Sorry, Aniki... Pipe down, you other guys!"
The monster then suddenly disappeared, diving inside of Manjoume's briefcase, and Ruka noticed how the former pro visibly relaxed. Her mouth opened in surprise and then realization. He hadn't reacted at all to the monster, but she could see that all his body said 'annoyance' for a few seconds, and since Rua was focusing on his match, probably because he was winning, that only left one source of said annoyance.
She brought a clenched hand to her chest, lowering her gaze. It couldn't be. Ever since she woke up from the coma, she had never met someone else able to see monster spirits. Sometimes she had even thought she was just imagining things, she had been a small child after all, and that lingering doubt still surfaced every now and then. The only people who she had told about what had happened during that month long coma had been her parents and Rua, and only her brother believed her, her parents deeming it just her imagination or a leftover of the shock of going into a coma.
Since there had never been someone who documented a case similar to her own, she had no possible way to know if she really was able to talk with spirits or if she was just imagining things all the time. Now, maybe, though... If he was...
"Yatta! I won!" It seemed like the duel ended, in Rua's favour. The boy grinned and turned around to watch Manjoume. "Did you see, Manjoume-san? I won! I won!"
Manjoume interrupted his reading and closed the book, since the end of Rua's duel also signalled the end of lessons for the day. "So I see. Good job." Even if it was probably just a circumstance compliment, it still had the effect of making Rua positively beaming at the praise.
"Alright, students. Good job, everyone." The students turned in miss Maria's direction as she talked to them. "Today's lessons are over, but don't forget to be on time tomorrow morning."
"Yeah! Hanami!" One student cheered, and Manjoume raised an eyebrow. He had almost forgotten about that. The class and the two of them would be going to Neo Domino City's park to watch the sakura in bloom. He hadn't done that in years, ever since he had joined the Duel Academia. There weren't sakura on the island.
Good. That means that I will have more time for shopping, tomorrow. No afternoon classes. Manjoume nodded to himself for a good plan and then started making a mental note of stopping by a shop to buy something to turn into food to bring along.
"Remember. We meet each other here at school at 8. Bring your lunch." The class chorused a 'Haaaaaai' of reply before the teacher dismissed everyone and Manjoume started putting his book away in his briefcase. Ruka stared at him for a few seconds before swallowing and starting to walk to him. "Manjoume-san, a word if I may."
Only to spin on one heel and march back with the other students out of the room as miss Maria beat her to the punch, a blush on her face because she felt silly. T-Tomorrow, at the hanami. I'll talk to him tomorrow.
"Yes, senpai? What is it?" Manjoume replied after closing the briefcase and throwing it over his left shoulder, holding it with one hand.
"I understand that you'd want to acquaintance yourself with the rules as soon as possible..." She was referring to him reading the guide book in the middle of the practice session. "But I'd prefer if you focused your attention on the kids, during practice. Pointing out their mistakes and helping them overcome them is going to be your job."
"Hmm... Yeah, I guess they do need the help, especially that green haired kid." Manjoume moved his eyes upwards, in thought. "He has a nice machine type deck, but he seems able to only use those kind of monsters. And even when he uses it... I would have saved that Limiter Removal for a later turn. In the end, he didn't need it to win against the kid with glasses."
Maria's eyes widened as well as her mouth opened, in disbelief. Manjoume returned his eyes to normal height and smirked. He gently leaned a hand on Maria's left shoulder and patted it. "Thanks for the advice, senpai. See you tomorrow." He smiled and then walked away after the kids, waving at the shocked teacher with his right hand. The eldest educator blushed, narrowed her eyes and crossed her arms under her chest.
"... He seems like a good person, but I'd prefer that he wasn't that smug. Way to make me feel like an idiot." She commented under her breath, not noticing the gaze of the principal from one of the gym's tribunes. The man chuckled to himself at Maria's expenses.
"You seemed caught in the opponent's trap in the beginning, but you managed to stay two, maybe three moves ahead nonetheless, right?"
"Damn, that's arrogant."
"He snatched the mic out of the commentator's hand? Talk about rude."
"That's Jack for you." In the meanwhile, somewhere else, on an island that most people in Neo Domino City preferred to not even nominate, three people were watching the outcome of yet another challenge to the city's 'King', Jack Atlas.
"If the King went all out right off the start, things would be over in a second! The King's dueling must be entertainment for all!"
"Hmm... Though...!" The noise of an engine getting started prompted the three spectators to turn around, witnessing that someone had entered the abandoned metro tunnel, someone riding a red D-Wheel, with piercing blue eyes and black hair streaked with gold locks. "Y-Yo, Yusei!"
The 'largest' of the three immediately turned off the screen and put a hand behind his head, smiling apologetically at Yusei. "Sorry 'bout that. Jack's been bugging us after all. And this is the only place the TV'll get reception."
"He sure was something." Commented the talles one, and also the one wearing glasses of the trio. "He's getting even stronger." Yusei connected a nearby laptop with his D-Wheel, running diagnostics on it.
"Was he facing a wimp?" He asked as he multitasked, talking with them while working on his ride.
"Yeah." The third and last member of the trio nodded. "Jack completely toyed around with him."
"... He must be pretty bored." The black haired rider said, knowing fully well that Jack couldn't be kept satisfied for long fighting people that below his level.
"... So, how's your D-Wheel holding up?"
"Don't go there." The bandanna-wearing person stopped his larger friend. "You can tell just by looking, can't you?"
"Yeah, true." Yusei had been working on it, building it from scrap for two years, but it still wasn't up to the task he intended to use it for. "Wonder what's up with Jack's D-Wheel from befor-"
"GET A CLUE, ALREADY!" This time the guy wearing the bandanna slapped his friend on his head. That was an even more sensitive subject.
"Ow..." He retaliated, swatted the hand away and turned around in the chair, narrowing his eyes. "But we're all mad at Jack! You know how he left and what he did in the process!" His outburst seemed to affect his two friends, if their angry eyes were any indication. "To top it off, that damn Jack even took the D-Wheel that Yusei had managed to build!"
Yusei ignored his friends and kept on working on his D-Wheel, until in a few seconds footsteps could be heard echoing from up the nearby stairs. "Yusei!" His name being called earned a reaction out of Yusei as he turned to his right to see a young boy wearing a yellow cap over long curly wavy red hair approching them.
"Yo, Rally!" The trio saluted the youngest member of their little friend circle.
"Ah, you guys are here too? Yusei!" Rally gave them the briefest of attention before turning to Yusei again. The rush of the young boy made the three curious. He stopped in front of Yusei and dove for one of the pockets of his long robe. "You can use this for your D-Wheel, don't you?"
Rally presented him a computer chip. He recognized it as a very high quality chip used for the D-Wheels system coordination. A CPU of sorts. "Hey, what's that?"
The guys observed it for a few seconds more before the guy wearing the bandanna understood something. "Hey, this is brand new, isn't it? Where'd you get this?"
He grabbed Rally's wrist to better observe it, and the boy flinched, twisting his arm away from the grip. "N-No, you got it wrong! I found this in some junk." He held the chip closer to his body and turned his gaze away. The trio looked at each other, knowing better than to believe that.
"You haven't been stealing again, have you?" Rally didn't reply to that.
"If that turns out stolen, we all could get caught!" The largest member of the group berated him while the one wearing glasses knelt beside Rally.
"I'd hate if they put this thing on us..." Saying that, he used his left index finger to make circles around the small golden triangle on Rally's skin, right under his eye. It was a warning of sorts, a mark that signified that the one wearing it had committed a crime. One for each arrest.
"Lay off." Yusei finally talked, getting back on his feet and approaching Rally, holding out his right hand. The young boy observed him dazed for a few seconds before handing him the chip. The black haired D-Wheeler picked up the chip with his left index and middle finger, observing it. "I'll use it." He declared, before sitting down on a chair to install it in his D-Wheel.
"... Are you sure, Yusei?"
"I bet it's gonna be fast! No, I guarantee it!" Rally and Yusei had pretty much toned out their friends as the latter installed the chip.
"... You know Yusei, I can understand where you're coming from, but you should give this Jack business a rest." The one wearing glasses commented, not feeling comfortable in his friend using stolen goods.
"Yusei is gonna go settle the scores with Jack!" Rally retorted, not really affecting the taller man.
"Well, like I said, it's not the sort of thing I'd be bending backwards over thin ice for."
"But Jack even stole Yusei's ace monster!" The man ignored the raging Rally and pushed him out of the way.
"Yusei, are you really going to leave Satellite?" He asked.
"... I'm not leaving. I'm going." The question finally got a reaction out of Yusei as he mechanically continued to work on his D-Wheel's programming, tapping away at the laptop's keyboard.
"Just give it up. You know he doesn't belong with us." The member wearing a bandanna said, shrugging his head to the side right after. "Jack's been different from us from the very start."
Yusei finished the data input and then stood up, gripping the D-Wheel's controls, giving it gas. The thundering roar of the engine promptly shut up everyone in the surroundings, proving that Rally had really hit the jackpot with the chip. "How is it? It's nothing like before, is it?" Rally asked excited, and Yusei nodded. Smiling, he picked up Yusei's helmet off the ground and handed it to him. "Let's take it for a spin! It'll go superfast!"
Suddenly though, the darkness of the tunnel was broke by the sudden appearances of long cone of lights. "What the...!" The tall guy wearing glasses walked forward and looked upward, recognizing the shape of an helicopter. "It's Security!"
"Verification number AWX-86007, Rally Dawson, you're suspected of larceny! Surrender yourself immediately!" A loud voice coming out of some kind of speaker declared. It seemed like indeed, Rally didn't obtain that chip the honest way. "Come out! As long as that marker is on you, you won't be able to escape!"
"I'm sorry!" Rally raised the helmet between him and a menacing raised fist, aimed at his head. "I really did take it from the manufacturing plant... But only because I wanted Yusei to beat Jack!"
"Yeah, but even so...!" Yusei stopped the berating member of their group, who just got angry at him as well.
"You're to blame for this too!"
"We can't get out of here with that marker on 'im!" The largest guy said, as Rally nervously fingered the golden marker. "It's sending a signal that's linked up to Security!" Yusei tapped something else on the laptop before disconnecting it from his D-Wheel, and sitting on it.
"The marker's signal is disrupted." Yusei declared, holding out his left hand so that Rally could hand him his helmet.
"You mean you jammed it?"
"You guys should move it." Yusei declared, putting his helmet on and lowering the visor. "I'll draw Security away." It seemed like the ideal occasion to test out the newly upgraded D-Wheel.
"Hmm... Damn, what should I do?" While in Satellite a group of friends were currently facing the dilemma of escaping from justice, back in Neo Domino City, Manjoume Jun, the Black Thunder, the undefeated duelist, was facing another predicament. "All these brands..."
"Anikii, just choose one already!" Alias what kind of sandwich to buy. He had never learned to cook that well, even now that he lived in the city he mostly ate out if not for breakfast, he could pour milk in a glass, but the following morning he would have to bring something to eat, and he had realized just on the way to the convenience store that he didn't know what to buy. He had never been to a convenience store.
He had been rich and served everything when he was little, Osiris or Obelisk the academy was pretty much the same, having a cafeteria and everything, but now he was faced with the orrifying and numerous names of various kinds of brands of food. "... I'm feeling dizzy." He slowly fell on his knees to the ground.
"Aniki defeated by food?"
"This can't beeee!"
"Ehm... Excuse me... Is something wrong?" Manjoume fought against the dizziness spell and slowly raised his head up, finding himself looking at the concerned face of a member of the other sex. A black sweater and long black trousers hugged a figure whose most noticeable characteristics were her big, dark amber eyes and her blue hair.
"... Everything's wrong. Damn me and my sheltered life." He sat cross-legged on the ground, the basked on his left.
"... You don't know what to buy?" The woman discerned from the words he had pronounced a few moments before. He shook his head.
"Nope. I don't know a single one of these brands, now what's into them. Ahh, why the hell didn't I do a course or something before moving..." The woman stared at him in disbelief before slowly picking up a boxed sandwich and kneeling on the floor in front of him.
"You see, usually..." She gently moved the box in front of his face, and Manjoume found his eyes drawn to the sticker on the side of the box, a voice in particular that preceded a list. Ingredients. "What's inside it's written somewhere on the box or the wrapping."
"... Oh." Manjoume grabbed the sandwich and went through the ingredients for a few more minutes. He raised his head and looked at the now similarly standing up woman. "Thank you."
She chuckled at his expenses, and he had the decency to blush. "You're welcome." That said she bowed and walked away, still holding her own basket in her hands as Manjoume watched her go.
"... So gentle. She was quite pretty too..." He commented, blushing as he turned to the side. Then he smiled, recovering... For a few seconds before his eyes became hearts. "Not as much as my Asuryn, though!"
"Oh, god, Aniki, not again..."
"Everyone's here, then?"
"Ehm... Actually, we're missing Manjoume-san, miss Maria." As the teacher had recommended, all the students had been punctual. All the students, that is. A certain aide was still missing, as Bob had made Maria notice.
"... I guess he was ill or..."
"Sorry I'm late." Everyone turned in the direction of Manjoume, who was carrying a sack over his right shoulder, and was sporting a bit of sweat going down his forehead. Sign that he had been running to get there on time. "I forgot to pick up something while getting out."
"You forgot to buy something to drink yesterday evening, aniki." Ojama Yellow's head pocked out from behind Manjoume's shoulder, who swatted him away like he would do a fly.
"So, shall we?"
"Ahh, it's so pretty!" After a few minutes of walking which Manjoume used mostly to observe his surroundings, they had arrived to the Neo Domino City park. It had been one of the first areas to be rebuilt and cared for after the incident that almost destroyed it. The last area to be touched had been the 'historically relevant' one, alias the area connected to the life of the Duel King, which had curiously escaped destruction, but in the end it was touched as well.
Manjoume didn't know, but he and the others, during that second year trip, had been one of the last people to see the original shape of that part of the city, while everything else was being restructured already. Returning to the park, they had done a fine job with it, especially when it came to the cherry trees. One quarter of the park was full of it, having been projected and built so that it could contain thousands of people at a time.
Other sakura had been planted more in isolation in the rest of the park, and those were spots that people could reserve. It was the case with the school, and they had booked for the morning the biggest tree in the park. The children were playing, some dueling on the grass, all under the watchful eyes of the teacher and her aide... Well, probably just the teacher, since Manjoume was napping away under the cherry tree, enjoying the shade broke here and there by the sun and the noise that the branches made when the wind moved them. He was in his little slice of paradise.
"Hmm... Aniki..." And just like that, it was over. He grunted and tried to ignore the fastidious yellow spirit. "Aniki, sorry... But I mean, there's this girl that's been staring at you the whole time..." That got his attention. He slowly raised one eyelid to look at him.
"What are you talking about?" He whispered and Ojama Yellow turned around and pointed a small finger in a direction.
"That girl over there, aniki. The one with the green hair." He opened both eyes, hearing that particular. The only girl with green hair in the class was Ruka. She was sitting on the grass a few meters in front of me along with Patty and a couple other female students, and she seemed nervous, being silent and staring at the ground while her friends chatted.
Then, she turned around in his direction. As soon as she realized that he was staring as well, she turned back to staring at the ground in front of her knees, blushing profusely, probably out of embarrassment at having been caught. "She has been doing this for a while now. I think she wants to talk to you but she's shy... Or scared. Aniki can be scary sometimes."
"... Is that so." Manjoume said, closing his eyes again.
"Huh? Aniki! You're not going to do anything about it? Aniki!" Manjoume ignored his spirit again. Even if he knew that she wanted to talk to him, it wasn't like he could just come out of the blue and say 'hey, an annoying ugly yellow monster told me you wanted to talk'. Also, if she was that embarrassed, it was probably because they weren't alone and she wanted to talk about something private, even if he couldn't for the life of him guess what it was.
"Oh. I forgot to bring some water." 'Chance', thought Manjoume as he heard that miss Maria had the same predicament he had been into that morning. "I should have bought some on the shop out of the park... What now?" He immediately got back on his feet and opened his sack.
"Allow me to go buy you some, senpai. In the meanwhile..." The woman turned in his direction only for a bottle of water to be shoved in her face. "Help yourself to some of mine."
"Huh... Thanks, Manjoume-san. But are you sure you remember the way? You're new to this place right? The park is big." He grinned inwardly. Playing right into his hands.
"Indeed. I guess I'll just some student to accompany me... Ruka-san!"
"Ahhh!" Hearing her name called out so loudly and so suddenly scared the green haired girl, who jumped on the spot before standing and turning into his direction. "Y-Yes?"
"Would you be so gentle to accompany me to buy some water for miss Maria? I think I may get lost." He said, and Ruka stared at him for a few seconds, surprised, before nodding her head and walking to his side. "Good girl. We'll be back in a few minutes, senpai."
"Hey! Can I..."
"Sit, boy." Rua whined as Manjoume made him pipe down and focus back on the duel he was having with Bob.
"Thanks. Come again."
"Yeah." Bought the bottle water, the duo of aide and student were now walking again back to the park. Passed the gate, they were again surrounded by trees and grass. "Nice place... Well, not as big as the forest we had back on the Duel Academy island."
"Ah..." Much to his annoyance though, Ojama Yellow had been right. Ruka was really nervous and he noticed how each now and then she would try to talk to him, but to no avail. He had tried initiating conversation with her, then, but she had always replied in monosyllables.
Alright. This is getting ridiculous. Manjoume started looking around and noticed that they had hit a corner in the road where they were well hidden from other onlookers. "... Ruka-san."
"Yes... Ah!" He suddenly grabbed her by the shoulders and jumped behind nearby bushes, still holding her with both hands. The startled girl moved around in his grasp but he soon sat her on the ground in front of him, before he sat as well, cross-legged. Her initial reaction was to just stare at him warily.
"... So, shoot."
"E-Eh?" Then, came surprise. He just crossed his arms in front of his chest and stared.
"You've been trying to find the nerve to talk to me the whole morning. Now they can't see nor hear us. So, start talking." He explained and while she was still surprised she relaxed.
He noticed, then. And he asked for me to accompany him so that we could talk alone. She lowered her head and smiled weakly at the concern showed and the attention, but the she swallowed, nervous again. After all, other than the fact that she didn't want to talk about it in public, there was the matter of the subject itself. "... Huh... Manjoume-san... I was wondering if..."
"You were wondering if?" She flinched at his voice. Pressing her on wasn't doing miracles for her confidence or nervousness.
"I... You..." She clenched her fists in her lap. "By any chance... Are you able to see duel monsters spirits too?"
It was Manjoume's turn to be surprised. He had no idea what she wanted to talk about, but of all the subject, he really wasn't expecting that one. Then, he noticed that right after asking that question, Ruka had started shaking, in fear and nervousness. "... Too?"
"I... I am..." Her voice was shaking too, he noticed. "Ever since... An incident, I have been able to see Duel Monsters spirits." She admitted, and Manjoume understood that it was costing her a lot to open up about that matter. "But I never met anyone else that could do that, and Rua is the only one who believes me. Everyone else I told this to thought I was imagining things... Or that..."
"Your parents too?" He didn't let her finish the sentence. She just nodded slowly.
"Yesterday I... I saw a small yellow spirit talking to you. You didn't reply, but I saw you... Getting tense, annoyed... You were reacting. He called you 'aniki'..." She continued, and the black haired duelist just kept on listening to her. "So, I thought that maybe... Maybe you..."
"... Oi, idiot." He suddenly said, startling the already upset Ruka, who probably believed he was talking to her. "Get out." Then, she got confused.
"Yeah, aniki?" Ojama Yellow suddenly got out of the deck pack strapped to his belt, and Ruka finally raised her head up. The spirit's eyes suddenly turned to her. "Ahh, the girl! So you're talking to her, aniki!"
"... Don't know about you, but the thought that I was crazy never crossed my mind from the moment this started happening." Manjoume said with a sigh, holding the bridge of his nose as he shook his head, eyes closed in thought. He then used the same hand to point at Ojama Yellow with his thumb. "Because if that was true, it would mean that I'm doing this to myself, so I would be both crazy and a masoc...!"
Manjoume's eyes opened wide as the air got knocked out of his lungs, since something had just hit his chest and was currently latching around his body. "W-What the...?" He moved his gaze down to find that Ruka had thrown herself at him and was hugging him, much to his flushing. "L-Let go, you..."
"Huuu... Aniki..." Manjoume was about to lash at his spirit when he felt his shirt starting to get wet around the spot were Ruka had buried her face into his body, and then it hit him. She was crying, and he felt a sting of pain in his chest. Welcome, guilt. "Yeah. That."
Oh, god. This isn't fair! How am I supposed to get angry at her for invading my personal space when she's crying? "W-What am I supposed to do?" He whispered to Ojama Yellow, the terrible feeling of having someone crying while hugging him and his personal space invaded like never before making him ballistic, in a bad way.
"Huu... I don't know..." Ojama Yellow was pulling on his eyes, perturbed as well. Then, the proverbial light-bulb appeared over his head. "Ah! Aniki, I know! Do what your daddy did to you when you were crying when you were little!"
"... My father?" He went back with his memories to the times he hurt himself or got sad, anything that made him cry. He sweatdropped. "Really bad example, idiot." His father usually just shouted at him to man up and grow up already. When he was four, which caused him to just cry harder. Why did I always go to him first? Probably because then mom would hold me longer.
He wisely decided to ignore his father and focus on his mother. He swallowed and slowly put one hand in the middle of her upper back, holding it there while he put the other on the back of her head, starting to caress her scalp and run his fingers through his hair, embarrassed all the while. Ruka felt stiff at first, but she relaxed, almost mellowed as he kept on caressing her. He flushed again. "... Stupid kid."
"Better, now?" They had to make another stop once Ruka had calmed down, by a nearby fountain since they couldn't just bring back Ruka with her face matted with tears. She had washed her face and had now just dried it using a tissue Manjoume had given her.
"Yes. Thanks." She nodded before throwing the used tissue in a nearby trash-can, before turning back to Manjoume.
"... You're all smiles now, aren't you?" He said with a small frown, but Ruka just kept on smiling.
"Yes... I mean, I'm happy... And I've always had so many questions, and doubts..." Manjoume sighed.
"Sorry to burst your bubble, but I don't know that much about it." Even so, Ruka's good mood didn't recede. He turned around and placed one hand behind his head, ruffling his hair. "Still, I guess we can... Talk about it."
"Thanks. Now... What do we tell the teacher?" Ruka asked as they began to walk back towards their section of the park. Manjoume groaned. He had almost forgot that particular. They had been gone for more than forty minutes.
"... I got both of us lost, I guess." He sighed, his shoulders slumping. "Before you ask, today I have something to do."
"Ah. It's alright." She replied, almost instantly, and Manjoume scored a small victory. "So... Maybe tomorrow? You could come to lunch."
"... I guess." He already felt an incoming migraine. He would be stuck between the hyperactive boy who went gaga over him being an ex-pro and the girl who he had seen cry and felt horrible at just the thought of being the cause of that happening again. A week. I've been here seven damn days, and I'm already knee deep into something that's outside my intents. Just my luck... I just wanted to be a teacher!
"... Ok. What the hell happened between you and Manjoume-san, Ruka?"
"Huh?" Ruka stopped eating her bento when Patty said those words. She just smiled. "What do you mean, Patty?"
"Don't play dumb with me! This morning you were all nervous and scared and you were staring at him every now and then, now you're all smiles!" Ruka was surprised for one second, she wasn't aware that someone had noticed, but she went back to smiling right after.
"We just talked about something that was bothering me. That's what you're supposed to go to teachers for, right?" The green haired girl's words, though, only made her friend more curious.
"Then what did you talk about? I've seldom seen you so upset..." Everyone turned to her with a raised eyebrow. Patty laughed sheepishly. "I heard it in a soap opera."
"Sorry. I can't tell you that... It's personal." It was Patty's turn to be surprised and raise an eyebrow.
"It's personal but you can talk about it with a teacher aide but not tell your friends?" Ruka flinched at that.
"I'm sorry... It's just... It's something I could only talk about with him." The green haired girl replied. Patty 'Hmm'-ed and decided to let the matter go for the day. She slowly turned her head in Manjoume's direction, observing how he munched away at his sandwich while reading with attention something on the wrapping.
"Ohh! Aniki, this place is so big!"
"Ah, right. I never brought you with me to a mall, did I?" Manjoume replied instinctively to Ojama Yellow as the glass doors opened in front of him, revealing a bustling conglomerate of floors, shops and people that was called a mall, even if it was still relatively quiet since it was just right after lunchtime. The real chaos would come in couple more hours. Plenty of time to buy me some new clothes. "Hey, guys. Why don't you take a look around while I shop?"
"Heh? For real?"
"Ahahahahah!" If anyone else but Manjoume had been able to see cards spirits, they would have seen a real show. A torrent of differently coloured and shaped spirits erupting from Manjoume's back and rotating all around in a tornado of colours before they scattered in every direction. "Thanks, anikiiii!"
"... And the nuisances are gone." Manjoume sighed before looking around and... "... Not again." Realizing that again, he had no idea what to do. He cursed under his breath. While he had shopped for clothes before, not trusting anyone but himself to understand his taste in clothing and knew how to choose and everything, there was a reason why he always had someone accompany him, usually his manager: he didn't know the way to the shop, he never bothered to learn it, and this was a completely new city and mall, making the matter even worse. "... Just fantastic. Great. I'm such an idiot. I could have used the Ojama brothers and the others to find the way, but nooo, I had to..."
"Don't tell me. You don't know what shop to choose." His musings were broken by a familiar voice that he felt was referring to him. He turned around with a jerk, bewildered, laying eyes on a blue haired and amber eyed figure that he had indeed seen before, in a similar predicament. What differed was her attire: a white shirt, a skirt of the same colour covered by a long grey/blue jacket, and black shoes with short heels.
"Ah... You're..." Manjoume raised his free hand to point at her, the other still holding onto his sack, and then blushed, turning to the side. "... I'm just lost. It's the first time I come into a mall on my own."
"... Seriously? You seem a bit grown up to me." He blushed further and the young woman laughed again, approaching him right after, slowly. "I'm sorry, I don't want to make fun of you, but... It's strange, you have to admit it."
"... I guess I'm strange, then." Manjoume replied, turning his head to the side, pouting like a little kid, which only surprised the young woman and made her laugh a little more.
"Don't be like that... Maybe I can help you? What are you shopping for?" That made him relax a little. He guessed that he could bear a bit of fun at his expenses if he had the help he needed in exchange.
"Clothes. Maybe some accessories." He replied almost instantaneously. The girl nodded in reply.
"Alright. For future references, malls come with maps." She slowly stretched her arm to make him turn towards a big post hanged to a nearby wall, which provided a map of that floor of the mall with a big red dot saying 'You're here' and under it, the names of the various shops with assigned numbers and the corresponding floors.
"Ah. That's useful." The girl suppressed another giggle, badly.
"Though, not every shop has the same clothes nor the same prices. It depends on one's taste and money, mostly. How much do you want to spend?" That question earned the girl the first smug smile she would ever receive from Manjoume.
"Money is the only problem I don't have." Having become used to the 'lost lamb' state of Manjoume seeing him suddenly use a confident smile like that, that surprised the girl for a few seconds. She recovered right after, though.
"Well, then I guess you can come with me." She started walking towards the elevator, him following her just with his gaze for a few seconds till she turned around. "It's on the sixth floor. Come on."
"Hmm... Nice choice, and I understand the concern about the prices."
"It's not exactly a normal shop. It's a tailoring boutique." That the shop wasn't normal Manjoume had understood by three things: the first was that it took up half of the floor, the second was the quality of the clothes, the third were the price tags. "The owner and his assistants mostly make custom-made clothes, and if he particularly likes a certain creation he puts it on exposition."
"I see... Just what I needed. This is perfect." Manjoume fingered the sleeve of the long black coat in exposition in the middle of the room. He then turned again to the blue haired young woman. "Thanks... Huhh..."
"Sagiri Mikage. And you are? I can't call you 'eternally lost boy', can I?" She joked, still with a smile, and Manjoume sighed. He felt like she would think of him exactly that for as long as he lived, now. He turned around completely to face her.
"Manjoume Jun." The girl's smile suddenly disappeared, her eyes wide.
"Manjoume... Manjoume?" She muttered, like she was trying really hard to remember something. Then, it hit her. "You... You wouldn't happen to be related to the Manjoume Group?"
"Hmm... I'm the third youngest son." He heard her gasp, and he smiled. Maybe getting rid of that nickname wasn't an impossibility any more.
"The pro duelist? But... Then, what are you doing in Neo Domino City? The pro league isn't fully operative yet, after the reconstruction." Manjoume rolled his eyes.
"I retired." She gasped again. "I'm currently a teacher aide at the local Duel Academy."
"A teacher aide? But..." She realized she had been raising her voice, so she coughed in her fist and calmed down. "I mean... Why? I don't mean to be rude, but... Going from being a pro duelist to a teacher..."
"It's lowly, I know." Manjoume just nodded and crossed his arms over his chest. "Let's just say that being a pro duelist kept me from doing what I really wanted to do."
"... Oh." Mikage decided to not ask any more questions, and he noticed this.
"What about you? What do you do for a living?" That seemed to break her out of her trance.
"Ah. I work for Security."
"Oh... Then, what are you doing wandering around in a mall at the moment?" She flushed, his chuckles saying that it was his turn to tease her.
"Well, at the moment... I'm on a special assignment, with all the implied duties. That includes also retiring some clothes, from time to time." Manjoume raised an eyebrow at that, and she flushed a bit more, embarrassed. She turned her head to the side, a bit angry. "I-If you really must know, I'm the King's personal assistant!"
"Huh? Yugi Muto's personal assistant?"
"N-Not the Duel King! The King!"
"Elvis? But he's dead as a doornail!"
"No! Neo Domino City's King! Atlas-sama! Jack Atlas!"
"... Who?" Mikage gasped at that single word.
"Y-You don't know Atlas-sama?" She suddenly was in his face, and even if she was shorter than him, she was currently shouting at him from above, her sheer intensity making him bending back. "How is that possible? Have you been living under a rock in the past two years? Atlas-sama is the king! The greatest duelist of the city! The city's idol!"
"Woahwoahwoah! Calm down! I've only been in the city for ten days, most, and I haven't been watching much television!"
"What about the manifests? Posters? Merchandise! The whole city is filled with them!" She would have none of that, it seemed.
"I didn't look around much! Ever since coming here, I've only left my house to go to work!" She narrowed her eyes at him a bit more, but then relented. She got back in a normal position, arms crossed and eyes closed. She shook her head, like she was pitying him. That irked him a bit.
"... Fine. You're excused. This once." He groaned. She was so amiable and nice a few seconds before, and now he discovered she was crazy.
"So... I guess this tailor-made thing is for him?" She relaxed again and nodded.
"Yes. It's a special coat made for Riding Duels."
"Miss Sagiri." The talk was interrupted by one of the shop's workers calling out to Mikage, carrying a bundle of plastic enveloping something white. "Your order."
"Thanks. I'll be right there." She said, before turning back to face Manjoume. "Well, I hope you can find your way out of here on your own."
"I'll manage... I'll see you around, I guess." Mikage nodded.
"I do my laundry every Sunday night. If you need any help or if you just feel like talking... Well, bye." She bowed and then hurried to the girl who had the clothes she needed.
Manjoume watched her go while thinking just what kind of relationship he had just formed with the girl. He guessed he had made a new friend, barring that he didn't talk about this 'King' badly, if at all since he had no idea who the guy was and if the rage was any indication, the girl worshipped the ground he walked on. Also... "What the hell is a riding duel?"
"I-I'm sorry, Atlas-sama!" It seemed that her fastest hadn't been enough, since once again, the King had had something to say about her work, even if the 'lateness' was non-existent since he hadn't given her a time limit in the first place. The tall blonde then approached her and took the bundle out of her hands. "I guess... I got sidetracked. I apologize."
"Sidetracked, you say." Jack opened the plastic and inspected the riding suit. He didn't find any flaws in that, at least. "By what?"
"Well... By someone, actually. No one important."
"That's for me to decide!" He raised his voice again, and she winced. "Who was he? And how did he sidetrack you?"
"Well... He used to be a pro duelist." She decided to give him the information that she thought would be more interesting to the King first. "Now he's a teacher at the Duel Academy."
"Hmph. So you had to give directions to an old man who got himself lost? Pitiful." She knew that the insult was for Manjoume, still she sweatdropped.
"Ehm... Not really." His piercing gaze was on him again. "I mean... He's not an old geezer. I think he's twenty-one. Twenty-two at most."
"... Twenty-one years old and he already retired from the pro dueling scene?" He turned around to face her completely. "Was he that bad?"
"Not really, Atlas-sama. Last I heard, he was undefeated." She replied, and Jack's eyes widened a little bit more. That was the most surprise he would show.
"... An undefeated pro retires at twenty-one years old to become a teacher in a Duel Academy in Neo Domino City?" He closed his eyes, 'hmm'-ing as he thought about the idea. "That doesn't make sense... Seems far-fetched... So it's probably true."
"He said that being a pro duelist kept him from what he really wants to do." Mikage replied. Jack thought about it a bit more... And then he smiled.
"Heh. I think I may have an idea... It's obvious." Mikage was confused. "Of course! Pro duelists can't fight opponents that aren't other pros unless it's for special occasions!"
"... Huh?" That was true. Pro duelists were pretty much limited in their choice of opponents, and they had to keep a schedule, mostly because being a pro signified being a duelist of a superior level and it was unfair to allow them to compete in amateur tournaments, unless the rules stated precisely that it was open to everyone.
"It's obvious! He came to Neo Domino City, renouncing his career, because he wanted to find an opponent of a superior level! He wants to duel the King!" She sweatdropped and resisted the pull of gravity.
"Huh, Atlas-sama, actually..."
"That's it! Mikage! I have a new assignment for you!" She stopped talking because of the pointed finger and the enthusiasm in his voice. "You have to gather more information on this pro duelist, and you have to organize a match between the two of us!"
"I can already see it! The headlines! An undefeated pro leaves a promising career for a chance to fight against the King! It will be a Riding Duel for the ages! The purest form of entertainment!" She really needed to tell him that Manjoume didn't even know who he was and that whatever the reason he left pro dueling was, it sure wasn't to duel him. "So, what are you still doing here? Go!"
"... Yes, Atlas-sama." But he looked so excited and enthusiast, and he was at his most beautiful when he was so focused and anticipated a proper duel. How could she ruin that? "I will commence my mission immediately."
"Aniki, you caught a cold?"
"Sniff... No, I know colds. This is something else." Manjoume closed the door of his apartment behind him, putting down the bag containing the new clothes he had bought. He had also ordered a tailor-made black coat, but it would have to wait a few days for that to be finished. The jackets and pullovers would make nicely for the nights, though. "This is brewing trouble."
"Trouble? Maybe it has something to do with tomorrow?" Manjoume blinked at that and turned to stare at Ojama Yellow. "You know... Ruka-chan's invite to lunch?"
He slowly pushed his right middle knuckle against his forehead till it hurt. "I knew I was forgetting something."
To be continued...
Manjoume starts his job as a teacher, and he discovers that there's more to it that pointing a student's faults and forcing them to face it. In the meanwhile, something starts to brew in the city, as he gets contacted again by Mikage and successively by her superiors. The Black Thunder meets the King. Stay tuned.