Very short one shot. This was inspired by real events that happened to me today, that when I got to thinking about them, I was like, "Gosh. That fits Vanish shipping." And...writing it helped my find some closure. I own nothing.
I waved goodbye to my friends as they headed away, off to finish the tasks they needed to in order register to be a senior at Domino High School. I turned to my new locker, wanting to open it to make sure it worked. I glanced to my left and sighed, wishing I had been given my locker from last year, merely one away. Shaking myself to clear my thoughts, I spun the combination in, amazed at how smoothly the locked twirled and the handle slid up. Grinning, I opened what could be a perfect locker.
My smile quickly fell and my face twisted into that of horror. Suddenly, I realized what locker I had been given as I looked upon the items the locker still held.
No thoughts swirled through my mind. Tears stung behind my wide sapphire eyes and the people in the hallway stopped as I gasped loudly, feeling like I had been sucker punched. I stumblingly backed away from what to anyone else would have seemed like inoffensive objects.
"Yuugi…" Even I could here the despair and anguish that twisted the call for my friend.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Yuugi slowly turn to face me, a look of confusion on his face. I pointed at the blue locker.
"They gave me his locker!" I cried out, my dam bursting and tears rushing from my face, smearing my mascara. Yuugi rushed to my side as my knees gave out and I fell to the floor, sobbing. I no longer cared that other students and teachers were watching me.
Jonouchi and Honda hovered beside Yuugi and me, unsure of what to do. They looked miserably upon the contents of the locker. I buried my face in my hands and sobbed, ignoring the quizzical looks that were thrown my way as Yuugi rubbed my back soothingly.
I felt nothing. I felt numb. How could the school do this to me? My best friend Mutou Atemu had died at the end of the previous school year and no one had thought to clean out his locker? And then they assigned it to his best friend?
"This was the last place I saw him…" I whispered brokenly.
I pinched my eyes tighter close as the memory of the last time I had seen him alive passed through my mind. I had been in a rush and was trying to leave. I had only spoken a few words to him. He had looked so carefree that afternoon. Smiling the way he would have any day. Neither of us knowing that it would be his last.
I would never forget the wave of emotions that flowed through me when I was first told of an Egyptian exhibit at the local museum collapsing, killing everyone involved. I thought fleetingly of how Atemu had volunteered at museum because he one day wanted to go into Egyptology. Then I received the text from Jonouchi.
Atemu had been killed when the ancient stones taken from the tomb of an unnamed Pharaoh had given way and fallen on him and three others. I had screamed out and fell to the ground, curling into a ball. I had never before felt such unimaginable pain.
Now, I was fighting back the need to scream out again. I lifted my head and looked again at the notebooks he had so carefully decorated with pictures of his favorite Duel Monsters cards. I bit my lip as I eyed the Millennium Puzzle hanging from the top hook of his old locker. My locker.
It winked at me in the dim lighting. Somehow giving me the strength to stand. Yuugi hovered at my side, fighting his own tears as I reached for the necklace. Something Atemu had treasured. I lifted the heavy, gold pendant in my hand, feeling the weight and smooth gold of it.
"There are over five hundred lockers in this school…How did I end up with his?" I asked no one in particular.
My friends moved closer to me. "Well…maybe it's his way of saying goodbye." Yuugi whispered.
I gathered Atemu's forgotten books and necklace in my arms. I had to take them to his family. I couldn't just leave them there…
"I think you should change lockers. I don't like the thought of you usin' his." Jonouchi spoke up.
I shook my head fiercely, my eyes narrowing. "I want this locker." Yuugi had a point. Maybe this was his way of saying goodbye to me. As our last goodbye had been fast and superficial. I clutched the books to my chest, my hand tightening around his puzzle.
A teacher not much older than us slowly walked towards us, holding a cardboard box. Her face gave away the grief she felt for us. "Is that not your stuff?"
I shook my head, not looking at her. "It's Atemu's." I whispered.
She nodded and set the box down at my feet. "That's what I thought. Just put it in here." She glanced over at two boys who were pretending to fiddle with their lockers, but were really watching the spectacle I was producing with my friends, as if they had front row seats to a soap opera. "Come along boys," she murmured, leading them away.
I kneeled beside the box and began to set the stuff inside it. Jonouchi and Honda turned away and began to direct passing students and teachers away from me.
I stared brokenly down at the puzzle as I placed it in the box. Atemu had spent eight years working on it and had left it in his locker that day for some unknown reason. I choked back a sob as I began to fold the flaps of the box closed, Yuugi's hand shot out and his fingers curled around my wrist. I slowly turned to face him, tears brimming in my eyes again.
His face was blank as he opened the box containing the forgotten school books and prized possession of his best friend. A boy that could have been considered his twin or brother from their closeness. I refrained from stopping Yuugi as he opened the box again. He reached inside for the puzzle and picked it up, holding it out to me.
My throat tightened and I looked up at him through my blurry vision. "Yuugi…"
Yuugi stared into my azure eyes with his violet ones. "He would have wanted you to have it."
I shook my head. "No…you helped him put it together." And I was right; Yuugi had been there, supporting Atemu even when he had gotten frustrated because the pieces weren't fitting together quite right.
Yuugi shook his head. "You're wrong. The day he met you he finally finished it. He said that your dream of wanting to dance is what inspired him to finish the puzzle. He told me that for you to feel so passionate about your dream caused him to feel a renewed passion for his love of Egyptology."
Tears dripped from my eyes as I stared down at the puzzle. "Why did he leave it behind? He always wore it." I whispered.
Yuugi shrugged. "Atemu always had an odd way of knowing about the future, Anzu. Maybe he somehow knew that that day was going to be his last…and that you would be the one to get his locker. Maybe he left this here for you to find."
With a shakey hand, I reached out and gently took the puzzle from Yuugi. "I would not have wanted any of you to have been the ones to find it. We've all been through enough pain healing from his leaving. I would not have wished opening that locker and realizing it was his on anyone. Not even Marik."
Yuugi laughed as I made the small joke at the end about Marik. None of us could stand him because he was such a jerk. We considered him to be evil. As evil as anyone could be in high school.
Hearing Yuugi laugh is what allowed me to place the necklace over my head and sigh as the heavy puzzle swung down, hitting against my stomach. It felt warm, as if a piece of Atemu was locked inside the puzzle and would forever be with me. I returned Yuugi's smile.
"Thank you, Yuugi."
Yuugi nodded and closed the box. We both stood as the teacher from before came back to us and picked up the box, smiling sadly at us as she took it away to the administrations office. I closed Atemu's locker –my locker- and turned to face my friends. Yuugi reached up and brushed away a trace of my smeared mascara, cleaning my black tears away and causing me to smile at his casual touch.
"You know, you could always put a picture of the two of you in it. So that way it'll be your locker." Yuugi suggested.
I turned back to glance at the locker. Our locker. "You know, Yuugi. I don't have to put a picture in our locker for it to be ours. It already is." I turned back to my friends and smiled.
Seeing me smile caused them to smile. Honda nodded his head towards the exit. "Let's go grab a bit to eat. I'm starving."
Jonouchi punched his shoulder. "You just cleaned out my fridge! How are you still hungry?"
Honda grinned. "I'm a growing boy!"
Jonouchi grabbed Honda in a head lock and I laughed along with my friends as we started heading towards the exit. I stopped when I felt something warm brush against my cheek. I raised a hand to my cheek and looked to my left. For the briefest of moments, I saw Atemu standing next to me. He smiled and waved at me before fading away. I lifted my hand from my cheek and waved to him as well, realizing that I was standing in the exact spot that I had last seen him.
"Good bye, Atemu."
I felt closure wrap its warm arms around me as I turned and caught up with my friends, walking beside Yuugi.
As long as I had my friends, I would never be alone. My small hand cupped the side of the puzzle, the same way that I had seen Atemu do so many times.
Ok...so I didn't get to keep the item in my friend's locker that I felt connected to. I put on a brave face and put it in the box. And I also didn't get the goodbye that Anzu did. But, whatever. I also changed the way that my friend died so that it would fit. Review please. No flames as I'm at the end of my emotional rope today.