'Ello, 'ello, 'ello! I'm a hardcore Spiritshipping fan, but re-watching the episodes... well, it just struck me awfully hard how much Jim was interested in Judai primarily and no-one else. Sure, he acknowledges the others, but he never went so very out of his way to keep them safe as he did Judai. Everyone vanishes and who does he think to look for first? Judai. Everyone else just gets forgotten, abandoned by the wayside. Jim was such a warm, meaningful character in his 'death', I couldn't bear the fact that there wasn't so much as an "Oh yeah, I killed you, didn't I? Whoopsie-daisy, didn't mean it," from Judai. I think there was one and they just never wrote it in, and I felt the need to present it, coupled with everything that makes it meaningful. Jim deserves that apology. He fucking died to get it.

DISCLAIMER: Yu-Gi-Oh! GX is the property of Tetsu... Tetsu... Tetsu-something, I'm pretty sure. Oh, fuck it, just Google it when you have the chance. I'm going to feel awfully silly if 'Tetsu' isn't part of this guy's name now.

Just Anyone

Karen didn't like just anyone. In fact, Jim had been damn sure that she was a crotchety old girl who wasn't fond of anyone at all, excluding Jim himself, of course. Then along had come Judai. Jim almost laughed himself sick at the memory. He'd been so very close to crapping his pants when Judai had attempted to feed the testy reptile. He'd been certain that a friend was about to lose some very important body parts, and the thought had filled him with a short burst of blind terror.

But he'd been wrong. Karen had happily munched on the wide array of foods that Judai had managed to produce, pleased as punch. First had come shock. Then there was awe. Then, a tiny twinge of jealousy: after all, the knowledge that he was the only one from whom Karen would take food (and avoid taking fingers with it) was him, and that had always made him feel special. But it was Judai for the love of the Lord; it was impossible to be jealous or angry at the boy. His honest delight in his success somehow gave Jim a feeling of... pride? For weeks, he hadn't been able to figure out why.

Then had come the incident with Yubel and being sucked into alternate dimensions and all that general nonsense. Judai had tried to hide it, but all could tell he was secretly excited and intrigued by the whole experience. The others had wagged their fingers and shook their heads, demanding the boy to get his act together and take things seriously, but Jim had just been amused. It was so like Judai to think that, and he didn't want his friend any other way. Growing up in the wilder parts of Australia, where the smallest, most insignificant little creatures could kill you horribly, Jim had missed out on a lot of the moments of childlike wonder. He respected nature and its power, but somehow had never thought to take delight in it such as Judai did. Every time the boy spoke with that little racing undertone of boundless energy and mischief, Jim felt his own heart speeding up and a smile on his face. If Judai liked something, so did Jim. If Judai was displeased with something, Jim followed suit. Life was just more fun that way.

But then Johan had been left behind there. Judai's smiles and mischief were gone. He had withdrawn into himself and it had nearly broken Jim's heart in turn. Now, he had a great fondness for the European boy who had sacrificed so much for them all, and he probably would've gone along to the other dimension for the hell of it one way or another, but the fact remained that when he set out with the others from Duel Academia, it hadn't been Johan he was determined to save.

Things had gone downhill so quickly, Jim wasn't entirely sure what happened. Judai and so many others had gone missing. While he was worried about them all, his first thought would always be to find Judai first. Judai's obsession with finding Johan was mirrored in Jim desire to find and protect Judai, not that he'd realised it until so very much later.

Then he had found Judai and things had been much worse than he'd imagined. Haou, the Supreme King, had been looking back at him, not his beloved friend. The decision had been instantaneous: save Judai from the depths of his own mind, or die trying. There was nothing he wasn't willing to do as long as he could bring back his friend from the pit of despair into which he had descended. Judai was meant to have a smile on his face and a silly question on his lips; that was just the way the universe worked. But Jim hadn't been enough, and oh, how that thought had haunted him. He had remained in a place he privately dubbed, "The Dreamscape," desperately wanting to know what had happened. Judai filled all his thoughts, intermittent with hopes that O'Brien had finished the job after his own failure. And then O'Brien himself had popped up, declaring what he hoped had been a victory, but lacking confirmation. And Jim was left to his worries all over again. Being stuck there was bad enough. Being unable to be there for Judai was worse.

Somehow, they had all been returned home. At the time, Jim had been bewildered and appalled, thinking Judai had been left behind. Sho had explained to them all later that Judai was going to be along soon, or so the implication was. He had also explained Judai's recovery from the continuing self-loathing and paralysing fear of his own power. Jim had been heavily conflicted in that instant. There was intense guilt that he hadn't been there during this crucial time, anger that the others hadn't been especially helpful (not in the way he would have been, had he been there), and again, pride in all that Judai had achieved on his own. The others had grown skeptical of Judai's eventual return after about a week, but Sho and Jim both had never wavered in their faith. Jim would wait forever if necessary to greet his friend when he came home. He needed to look the boy in the eyes and apologise over and over again for failing him when he needed Jim most. He would never rest in peace if he didn't.

At the end of that very long week, Judai had come back, sobered and matured, but still the person they all loved dearly. He had said hi to them all, clasping hands both with Sho and Johan especially, but then had caught Jim and O'Brien's eye and asked for a moment alone with the two of them.

"I... Good God, I'm crap at this, so don't expect flowing prose, all right? The first things coming to mind are 'I'm sorry' and 'thank you,' but they don't really come anywhere close to what I'm trying to say. I dunno if it's my fault; that I'm so stupid, my vocabulary can't cover what I mean, or the language's fault, like the words haven't been invented yet. I... I just... Jesus, I'm so sorry!" And he had thrown himself into Jim's arms, crying as quietly as he could manage. "I fucking killed you both!"

"We're right here," O'Brien had pointed out.

"Not a scratch," Jim seconded, laying a warm hand on the boy's hair, ruffling it like an indulgent older brother.

"Well, yeah, but I didn't know that was gonna happen at the time!"

Jim had laughed, holding Judai as close as he could, the other squeezing back just as tightly. That moment of contact had made it all better, just for that moment. Who cared if his ribcage was being crushed? Who cared if he had failed? Clearly, Judai was well and truly saved, and to be able to hold him that close... was comforting. It had been all Jim could think about those long days wandering what was, in essence, limbo. His heart had swelled and he'd been incredibly reluctant to let Judai go, but there was a reunion party underway and they hadn't wanted to miss out.

Leaving the small room for the larger one, Jim saw the way Judai's eyes absolutely lit up when he caught sight of Johan and felt his heart drop through his feet. In that moment, he'd figured everything out.

Maybe Judai would've thrown himself into another dimension for any one of his close friends, but since it was Johan, it had been something more. Maybe Judai would've smiled that way for anybody, but since it was Johan, there had been meaning behind it.

Yuki Judai didn't become a genocidal fascist for just anyone.

Judai didn't offer up his heart and soul for just anyone.

Judai didn't fall in love with just anyone.

There was only one person in particular.

It was a shame that Jim was officially 'just anyone.' A shame, but a fact of life. Jim was quite certain that, when the time came for him to fall in love with someone new, the person would be so infinitely more than 'just anyone.' You had to be, with Yuki Judai for precedent.

(A/N): So! What did you think? Toss me a line, should you feel the need.

Also, joyous news! I got my Learner's Permit and the picture doesn't give the impression I was dropped on my head as a bairn! SPLENDID!