Lego: My apologies once more, dear readers. It has been four months since my last update. Please forgive me for my insolence. Work was killer during the time of my last update and then school started. It's kept my attention pretty solidly. I'm pleased to note, however, that in the midst of midterms for me, I was able to put this together. I hope you enjoy!
Notes/Warnings: Not too much canon action, but still some action here. Canon plot will move forward a little bit in the next chapter.
Chapter 6: Troubles from an Intoxicated Father
Joey stretched with a yawn. As he had promised, Kaiba's invitations had arrived at their required destinations. Although surprised to have gotten one, Joey couldn't deny the thrill at being able to attend another tournament, especially Kaiba's. He'd spent the afternoon reading through the list of new rules—40 cards in a deck, 4000 starting lifepoints, the card ante rule that required the loser to cough up his rarest card in addition to the special cards used to reveal the location of the finals, among others.
This tournament would be a definite challenge, but he would conquer, just like he did at Duelist Kingdom. Joey grinned like the dork he was, though it faltered slightly when his stomach gave a hungry growl. Time to find food.
The blonde teen opened the door to his room and stuck his head out. Nothing stirred, though Joey couldn't help but notice the beer bottles scattered all over the floor—because he'd been with Yugi so often lately, he hadn't taken the time to clean up his father's mess. He stepped around them without disturbing any as he made his way toward the kitchen. He'd get to those later.
Joey rummaged through his cupboards but only found junk food and moldy bread. He frowned. He really had been spending a lot of time with Yugi recently—he hadn't gone shopping for a couple weeks and now there was nothing to eat.
His mild irritation was interrupted by the opening of the front door.
"Boy, get over here." His father's drunken slur sounded even more muddled than usual.
Hesitantly, Joey turned to face his father and took a couple steps forward. The man held a beer bottle in one hand as the other gripped the doorknob. A barely suppressed growl spurred the blonde to move until he stood beside his father.
"Don't just stand there, boy." His father clipped him hard behind the ear with the edge of his palm, a hit Joey hadn't been expecting.
Just before Joey opened his mouth to express his confusion, brown irises caught sight of the cases of beer behind the other male. Ignoring the way his newfound injury smarted, he leaned down to haul one up and made his way back into the apartment. His father entered after him and went to peruse the kitchen. Joey went back out to fetch the other set of beer. He'd only just made it to the fridge when his father let out an awful growl.
"Boy, where is all the food?" For being drunk, the man's voice was terribly calm.
Joey quickly contemplated his options as he placed the beer next to its companion inside the fridge. He could either answer his father honestly and risk his rage, or he could stay silent and risk his rage. Neither option sounded good. "I haven't had a chance to go shoppin' lately."
His father swore terribly and threw the empty beer bottle at him. Joey's eyes widened as he tried to dodge, but it slammed into the left side of his face. Pain burst across his skin and temporarily disoriented him.
"You insolent brat!" His father shouted, throwing a punch Joey's way. "You're so irresponsible! I go out and work hard all day, and all you do is sit around here!"
Too late he noticed a giant fist heading for him. One went to his gut, and as he doubled over in pain, a second fist caught him in an uppercut to the face.
Adrenaline rushed through his system. It felt like those days back in Ushio's gang. He was cornered. There was only one way out. Joey stumbled backward while straightening then blocked a side swing and punched forward.
Time slowed. His father's head jerked backward. The realization set in. Get out! his mind screamed. Rage filled the other man's eyes.
His father swore. "I'll kill you!"
Get out! it screamed again. Joey shakily dodged to the right as his father came charging forward then stumbled into a run. He scrambled through the still-open apartment door and thundered down the stairs. He could hear his father releasing his wrath behind him. He pushed himself harder. Had to get away. Couldn't get caught. Not this time. Idiot. You fought back. He'll kill you now.
Joey burst out of the apartment complex, pumping his legs as hard as he could. Gotta find some place to hide. Gotta get away.
BREAK BREAK BREAK BREAK BREAK
Voices pierced the inky blackness. They called him back to reality, pulled him from his temporary sleep. He struggled to pass through, to return. Lights flashed around him, albeit blurred and unrecognizable. Then it cleared, came into focus.
Yami distinctly heard Anzu's concerned tone as she said, "Spirit? Are you alright?"
He groaned, sat up, stared at the brunette in front of him, and promptly ignored Ishizu's towering figure on his other side. The pharaoh attempted a small smile. "I'm fine. I just—" His words cut off as his eyes widened. It all came rushing back. The tablets. His identity. His mission. The tournament. A new evil. His daughter.
Yami coughed. "I'm fine, I'm fine."
Although the worry didn't leave Anzu's deep blue eyes, she offered him a hand and helped him up. The spirit immediately turned to Ishizu, violet eyes hard and cold.
"You've given me much to think about," he said slowly, then inclined his head only slightly. "I bid you farewell."
Ishizu nodded, then lowered her eyes toward the floor. "Until we meet again, my Pharaoh." She backed up until she reached the stairs then disappeared from sight.
Yami and Anzu shared a look. He spoke first.
"I do not like that woman."
Anzu nodded her agreement. "I think we should get out of here as quickly as possible."
As they headed up the stairs and back out into the museum lobby, Yami mulled over what Ishizu had told them. The idea of another foe to defeat added another layer of burden to his shoulders. How he wished to rest. But it was his duty to protect the world—or so he'd gathered from his experiences thus far—and he could not give up.
His having a daughter . . . Yami shivered. In all the time he'd been with Yugi, the spirit had never thought to question his age; ever since he had awoken from his sleeping state inside the puzzle, he'd taken on the majority of Yugi's image, enough that when he took over Yugi's body, no one really noticed the difference.
Yami could never have imagined that he had been a father in his past life. That thought brought along many questions he had no answers to—who was his wife, what had she been like, when had she died, who was his daughter, how could she still be alive, where was she now, was she his only child, had he had more? The only thing he knew for sure was that his daughter was alive, somewhere, and she was to assist him in the new challenge he faced. He had to find her.
Anzu broke him from his reverie as she held the museum door open for him and asked, "Lost in thought?"
Yami shrugged but went through, catching the second door for her with a fleeting smile. "There's a lot for me to think about."
The brunette winced. "Ah, yeah. That was kinda dumped on you, wasn't it? I'm sorry you had to find out that way."
They paused at the top of the staircase. Yami frowned, then ran a hand through his hair. "My entire past is a dark void. There are no answers. Even learning of my origins as an Egyptian Pharaoh, I have more questions than answers." He glanced at her with a sad smile. "I suppose the most important thing is finding the identity of my daughter."
Anzu nodded, but her deep blue eyes were fixed on something past him. Yami turned to find a lone figure coming toward them on the street below. He squinted just as they walked through a dying patch of sunlight; his violet orbs caught sight of silver streaks among a field of gold.
Yami's heart pounded incessantly in his chest. Next to his missing memory, Kel was the greatest mystery in his life. Every time he saw her, his soul pulsed with a deep energy. The urge to speak with her on that matter suddenly leapt through his being and lodged itself in his brain.
When she got close enough, Kel seemed to hear Anzu's calls, for she looked up to make eye contact with the brunette. Her face was passive and blank, though from the distance, Yami couldn't tell if her eyes were cold or not—he could imagine they were, cold and hard as an amethyst.
Then they met his and he could tell in that moment that Kel was going to bolt; her shoulders tensed, her face went deathly pale. She turned away from them and burst into a fast run. Yami's heart jumped as he gently brushed Anzu's shoulder, offered her a quick, but sincere, apology, and took off after the blonde. It wasn't the most gentlemanly thing he could have done, but he knew Kel was important. He needed to speak with her, and he couldn't accomplish that with her running all over the place.
It surprised Yami how much it hurt in his attempts to keep up with her. While his legs burned and his breath came short, Kel just kept going. It seemed as though the spent energy didn't affect her at all. What she did in her spare time to build up that kind of stamina, he couldn't fathom a guess. He used all of his brainpower to concentrate on her—he had no time to keep track of the surroundings because if he even glanced in another direction, he'd lose sight of her.
Kel rounded a corner and disappeared, but as soon as Yami had done the same, he stumbled to a stop. She stood in the center of the street directly in front of the game shop. The pharaoh took a moment to regain his breath as Kel looked around. Before he could say anything, she turned to look at him, a fire burning in her amethyst orbs—eyes so like his own, it scared him. She backed up a few steps but a yelp from further down the street caught both of their attentions.
Joey burst out of a side street and headed straight for them. Yami caught sight of his panicked expression and a moment later, knew the reason why. An older male who looked way too much like Joey to be coincidence followed Yugi's best friend. He shouted obscenities and threatened the blonde teen with what looked like a beer bottle.
The blonde male skidded past them then pulled to a stop. Over his shoulder, he shouted, "Run!"
Yami's legs immediately responded and he stumbled as he attempted to follow Joey, but he stopped once more when he caught sight of Kel. She had placed herself in the path of the oncoming man and stood firm.
"I wouldn't take another step if I were you."
Kel's cold tone sent chills down Yami's spine and even caused the man to falter. He growled, however, and threw the beer bottle as hard as he could. Yami tensed, ready to warn her of the flying trajectory, but she merely snatched it out of midair and tossed it to the pavement where it shattered harmlessly.
The other male—presumably Joey's father—increased his speed and wildly threw a punch at Kel. She retaliated by ducking it then slamming her shoulder into his chest. He grunted as he stumbled while Kel slid easily out from under him.
Yami noticed Joey's look of shock out of the corner of his eye but didn't have time to comment on it—Joey's father whirled around with a crazed shout and pounced in Kel's direction. She darted out of the way and ended up behind him. Without a beat of hesitation, she kicked him squarely in the kidneys. The man let out a wail of absolute agony as he collapsed to his knees.
Kel warily backed away from him a couple of steps even as he swore at her and cursed her in ways that made Yami blush. The female took it without batting an eye. Yami couldn't help but wonder if she was used to being sworn at. A hoarse groan erupted from the man's lips just as he leapt up with the broken neck of the discarded beer bottle in hand and swung down at Kel.
Joey yelled. Yami yelped. Kel simply deflected the glass but it still tore her shirt. Yami's heart pounded incessantly in his chest as the two wrestled, eyes roaming her for blood. He nearly had a heart attack at the red splayed on her stomach; it took him a moment to realize that it was tattoo ink and not blood.
In his thoughtless stupor, Yami nearly missed the man grabbing hold of Kel's shirt as she shoved away from him. The force of her sudden movement and his hard grip caused the tear to widen until the entire bottom of her shirt had been pulled off. The spirit jumped with the sound and called out. Kel ignored him, bouncing out of the way of the broken bottle once more and putting her back to Yami and Joey.
Yami stared at the red Egyptian dragon tattooed on Kel's back. It seemed significant—the hole his lack of memory left behind almost burned with familiarity—but he couldn't place it. Kel moved again, so Yami merely blinked and stored the information and image away for later when he wasn't focused on hoping Kel wouldn't die in front of his eyes.
She ducked around another wild swing with the bottle and managed to get behind the man again. Before he could turn, however, Kel had leapt onto his back and held an arm around his neck. One arm tried to pry her off while the other flailed wildly. Yami's heart wanted to burst from his chest—what if he hit her with that blade? Kel didn't seem fazed at all, not even like she was struggling with him, and in moments, the man collapsed.
Yami stood in another stupor as he stared at the still-breathing-but-fully-unconscious man on the ground. Joey's shout of, "Kel, wait!" jerked him from the reverie in time to see Kel dart around a corner and out of view. He almost went after her, then stopped himself. Unconscious man who tried to kill Kel and would have done the same to Joey had she not been there—someone should call the police.
"Mr. Moto!" Yami scrambled to get around to the back door of the game shop then threw the door open and clambered up the stairs. Yugi's grandfather stumbled out of his room just as Yami reached the hallway.
"Yugi? What's wrong?" Purple eyes conveyed the fatigue and grogginess that came from being woken from sleep.
Yami didn't hesitate. "Call 911."
BREAK BREAK BREAK BREAK BREAK
The glass doors shuddered in her wake. Fire burned her from the inside out and she felt its incredible power every step she took. By the time she'd gotten to Ishizu's office, her body felt like an inferno that could not be repressed.
Ishizu ignored the brand new hole in her wall from the force of Kel's shove against the door. "My princess, to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?"
"Don't play games with me," Kel said, her voice dangerously low. "You are going to tell me right now what in Ra's name is going on. I want to hear it all. What are these so-called 'dire circumstances', why am I here, how is it possible that my father is still alive, and why haven't I already been told?" Her voice shook with rage. The wood of Ishizu's desk groaned under the blonde's grasp.
"Your Highness, I'm afraid that fate dictates me to not reveal that information to you at this time. Suffice it to say that the Pharaoh's destiny is unfolding—he is the only one who can stop my brother." Ishizu bowed her head with a small frown, eyes wet.
Kel slammed her hands against the table, jaw clenched tight—her magic begged to be let out, to squeeze this woman until she was crushed. The blonde fought to hold it back, promised it vengeance later. Her thoughts swarmed through the memories she'd had of her time with the Tomb Keepers. Marik, the little child who followed her around those dank hallways, always asking about the outside world and begging her to teach him what she knew. The precious little sweetheart she had grown to truly care for, and he was suddenly the enemy?
"What have you done to him?"
Despite Kel's warning tone and intense violet gaze, Ishizu refused to look up at her and retained her silence. Kel growled, the inferno scorching her edges as its temperature raised slightly.
"If anything happens to Marik, I will personally slit your throat." Kel shoved back from the desk. "Mark. My. Words." Then she was gone.
BREAK BREAK BREAK BREAK BREAK
Grandpa Moto placed two mugs of hot chocolate on the table and sat beside his grandson. Joey nodded in the elder's direction before helping himself to one. Yugi took the other.
"What a night," the blonde mumbled, forehead creased ever so slightly. The past hour had gone by so fast, it felt as though they'd been living in a temporary blur—his dad came home, he got angry, the stupid punch, running, the game shop, Kel, the police, the ambulance, the questioning. Joey shook himself. He didn't even know how to think about what had happened.
"We're just glad you're alright." Plum irises shone above a bright smile, so typical of its owner.
Joey smiled back. "Thanks Yug'."
They sipped their drinks in silence for a moment. The blonde caught Grandpa Moto staring at him with a gentle frown on his face. He shifted uncomfortably in his chair at the attention.
"I don't mean to be serious, but what will happen to you now, Joey?" The elder's voice held that note of concern Joey had grown used to hearing from Yugi's grandfather.
The blonde shrugged. "Since my parents are divorced and Dad had full custody of me, it's likely I'll go into a foster program or somethin' like that."
Yugi's look of utter horror mixed with an underlying sadness tugged at Joey's heartstrings—that kind of program couldn't guarantee where he'd end up, and it was possible he'd have to switch schools. The two Moto's stared at each other, almost as though they were having a silent conversation.
Joey glanced back and forth between them until Grandpa Moto caught his brown gaze with his own dull violet and said, "What would you say if I adopted you as my grandson?"
His jaw dropped. No sound came out of his mouth no matter how hard he tried to speak. He didn't even know what to say. Ever since Yugi had made friends with him and Tristan, Grandpa Moto took them in and babied them as he would his own children. Within the Moto household, he knew he was loved. To see that love in action, and to think that he'd finally have someone who loved him . . . he could barely contain the emotion that suddenly pierced his eyes.
"I don't know what to say. . . ."
Joey stared at his best friend, who blushed at the sudden attention.
"Well, I mean, if you don't want to . . ." Yugi glanced down at his hot chocolate and took a sip.
A grin spread across the blonde's lips, turning his attention to Grandpa Moto. "How could I say no?"
Yugi made an odd sort of half-laugh, half-shriek very unbefitting of his manliness that had him in giggles while Grandpa Moto and Joey could only laugh.
"I'll finally have a brother," Yugi explained when the laughing subsided.
Joey's heart warmed at that as they shared a smile. "Me too, Yug'." He paused as his grin turned mischievous. "A little brother I can tease as much as my baby sister."
Yugi sputtered indignantly but the grin behind it revealed that he understood the underlying declaration of love. The younger teen quickly went back to his hot chocolate to hide his expression.
Making mention of his sister calmed Joey's mood a little bit—her operation was scheduled for Monday and he'd promised to be there. Serenity had never been comfortable with hospitals and as a big brother, he couldn't let her go through that alone (his mother didn't count)—not to mention, he'd been the one to finance the whole thing.
Joey jumped slightly when Grandpa Moto cleared his throat and realized both he and Yugi were looking at him. Heat flooded his cheeks. "What I miss?"
Grandpa Moto chuckled. "I just wanted to know if tomorrow morning would be a good time for you to go downtown with me to fill out the paperwork and to collect your things at your father's place."
Joey nodded immediately. "'Course, Gramps."
"But you'll stay the night, right?" Yugi's plum irises begged him to agree.
Just to tease his newfound younger brother, Joey couldn't help but say, "Well . . ." Doing his best to ignore the crushed look on his best friend's face, the blonde couldn't help a small laugh. "Why wouldn't I stay?"
Yugi immediately grinned though he tried to keep a betrayed look on his face. "That's right." He sat up straight and waved a finger at him. "You can never leave this house."
The two erupted into fits of laughter at Yugi's attempt to be demanding. Somewhere in the midst of it, Grandpa Moto bid them goodnight and headed up to the second floor. The two teens finished their hot chocolate and shortly followed him up. Yugi got out the spare mattress they often used when Joey needed a place that wasn't home to stay.
After helping Joey set it out, the younger teen disappeared into the bathroom and returned a moment later wearing a pair of light blue fleece pajamas covered in yellow stars. He plopped on to his bed and grinned down at Joey.
Before Yugi could say anything, Joey cleared his throat. It was time to bring up something he hadn't been able to stop thinking about. "What was Kel doing here tonight?"
Yugi's face immediately fell into a concentrated frown uncharacteristic of his friend. "I don't know. Yami hasn't said anything all night."
A chill ran down Joey's spine at the mention of the ancient spirit stuck in Yugi's body. He'd met the guy once, but admittedly, he still couldn't quite tell the difference between the two when Yami took over, though he had noticed the change in eye color—Yugi had a plum purple while Yami's were vibrant violet. At least Yami seemed nice.
"So," the blonde started slowly, "you weren't actually here during the fight, were you." It came out sounding like a statement rather than a question.
Yugi nodded with a sigh. "Anzu had agreed to take Yami around today to get his mind off his past so he could relax for once. I promised to stay inside the puzzle all day."
"I take it these circumstances are special." Joey indicated the room around them and sweeping them over himself at the same time.
Yugi laughed. "Well, sort of. Technically when he said goodbye to Anzu, that made it okay for me to come back out, but he didn't switch with me until Grandpa had called 911." The frown returned. "Even then, he only told me the bare minimum of the situation."
Joey pursed his lips. He really didn't like to see Yugi so down about this whole thing. Better to try to cheer the guy up. "Doesn't he normally share with you?"
"Then maybe something really important happened, right? He could be thinking about how to tell you about it or maybe he's not sure how to deal with it yet and needs a little time."
Yugi's frown remained for a moment but then his lips split into a smile and he nodded. "Yeah, you're probably right." He rolled over so Joey couldn't see his face anymore, just the top of his wild spikes. "I think everyone should get together tomorrow, maybe in the afternoon, to talk about this." He went silent for a moment.
Joey almost spoke, but realized Yugi wasn't done yet when he tilted his head back a little so his plum eyes could be seen (though Joey wasn't sure how comfortable that was).
"You, Anzu, and Tristan for sure," the younger teen said, "but I also want to include Kiara." His lips quirked in a typical Yugi smile. "I want her to keep hanging out with us, so we need to tell her about Yami."
Joey found himself nodding. "Sounds good." He didn't know how the redhead would react. She seemed to do okay after having been initiated into their group of friends, but if she was anything like Tristan, thinks could go wrong—Tristan was still their friend and loyal to them, but he didn't take the news as well as he could've and had taken an immediate disliking to Yami. Anzu, on the other hand, had grown rather attached to him.
"I'll text Kiara in the morning so we can go down and get our Duel Disks for the tournament after Grandpa takes you downtown," Yugi added. "Maybe we can meet up with Anzu and Tristan later."
Joey nodded again, letting out a loud yawn with the action. "We should get some sleep first."
He made himself comfortable on the mattress as Yugi leapt up to turn the lights off then jumped back onto his bed. They bid each other good night. Because of the exhaustion caused by the night's events, Joey was asleep in minutes.