Someone Else to Come and Save Me
Notes: The characters are not mine and the story is! It was inspired by realizing Linkin Park's Leave Out All the Rest easily fits my perception of Duke Devlin—which, by the way, is more manga-inspired as far as backstory goes. Duke and David (who is canon, just unnamed; he talks to Duke in episode #46) discuss said backstory here. My stories are basically the anime canon overall, just with a slightly tweaked version of Duke's manga introduction instead of the awful introduction he got in the anime.
Running a business was hard work. There was keeping track of the inventory, keeping up with good press relations, and keeping the books. When it was a relatively small—albeit successful—business, there was only a limited staff. It wasn't especially something Duke wanted to have get around, considering the superstore image he had projected for the Black Crown, but most of the management was handled by just two people.
David Tanaka tapped his pencil on the page as he pondered over what he had written in the columns. "Something went wrong somewhere," he muttered aloud. He studied the page again. And at last the error jumped at him. "Aha!" He smirked. "You little numbers can't fool me for long." He erased the contents of one box and carefully printed the correct numerical amount.
He was the financial genius, Duke had told him. After all, that was his major in college. (He was minoring in business management.) With all of his focus on numbers, to excess if Duke was to be believed, he was the perfect one to balance the books. And it suited him fine. The written evidence of all the money rolling in was enough to satisfy his greedy mind.
The abrupt thump and yelp from the office down the hall sent the pencil dropping from his fingers and his glasses slipping down his nose. "What the . . ." He looked up with a start. "Duke?" Frowning, he came out from around his desk and headed into the corridor.
The door to Duke's office was half-open. David drew closer, pushing it open the rest of the way. Duke was kneeling on the floor with one knee. One hand dug into his black hair, while the other gripped the cream-colored couch under the window.
David folded his arms in amusement. "What did you do?" he greeted. "Forget you weren't laying on a bed and roll too far?"
Duke started now. From the look that flashed in his eyes, he wasn't sure whether to be grateful or sheepish for David's presence. "It was nothing," he said. Pulling himself up, he sank into the couch and leaned forward.
David sobered. He advanced into the room and sat on the other end of the couch. "Do you want to talk about this particular nothing?" he asked.
Duke gave a weak laugh. "It's so stupid."
David picked up on the hint of bitterness in the younger man's voice. "Oh, so it's one of those nothings," he deduced.
That got Duke's attention. He looked over with a frown. "What are you talking about?"
"You forget that I'm very observant, Dukey-boy," David said smoothly. Duke rolled his eyes at the tolerated nickname. "I happen to know that whenever you take on that tone of voice, the problem is most likely something dark and nasty."
Duke half-smirked. "As dark and nasty as a dream that I'm missing and almost everyone could care less?"
David raised an eyebrow. "Okay, you surprised me. And almost everyone?"
Duke shrugged. "There was one person looking for me." He gazed at the carpet. "He kept running into these other people I know and asking if they'd seen me. They always said No and acted like he was nuts for being worried."
"And was he?"
Duke shook his head. "I was dead. He found me in the street. This crowd had followed him, and when they realized it was over for me, well . . ." He sighed. "Some of them laughed. Some of them said it was awful, but it didn't really bother them personally. No one was that upset, really. No one except the guy who found me." He rocked back into the couch, staring at the ceiling.
"Duke . . ." David watched him in concern. "You don't think that's the way it actually is, do you?"
"Maybe not to that extent. But let's be honest, David." Duke sat up straight. "My mom skipped out when I was a kid. So she couldn't deal with Dad. I don't blame her for that. But she never even tried to take me with her. Maybe I wouldn't have gone; I felt like I had to stay with Dad and help him. But it bothers me, it really bothers me, that she didn't even try to get me out of there.
"My dad was a mess; there's no need to go into that." David knew it better than most, save Yugi and his friends.
"And then there's Yugi and the gang. Oh, Yugi's alright. Téa, too. They're all good people. But sometimes I can't help wondering if some of them have ever forgiven me for what I pulled when we first met." He glanced at his store manager. "You were right, you know. When you tried to warn me about going along with my dad that time."
David nodded. "But you've hung out with them a lot since then," he said. "And the crazy stories you come back with!"
"Heh. Yeah." Duke turned and propped himself up on an elbow. "But have you ever noticed that they never actually invite me to hang with them? I only get involved if I invite myself along or if some nutcase scoops all of us up, me included.
"I know they'd all be worried and upset if something happened to me. I just wonder if they'd forget about me a lot sooner than they would someone else."
David shook his head. "You've got me there," he admitted. "I don't know any of them too well. I can't say one way or another what they'd do."
"I know." Duke pondered. "I've tried to make up for what happened. I guess maybe what I really wonder is if there's any way to really make up for something that terrible."
"Duke, it was your dad, not you, who tried to kill Yugi. You can't keep apologizing for him. He's dead and gone." David contemplated a moment before continuing. "You've done a great job of defying him—getting this business going, helping Yugi, even hiring me to be your manager. But sometimes I get the feeling that you're still held down by his ghost. Oh, maybe not literally, but what he taught you and what he did is still chaining you to the past, even while you're trying to go forward and forget it."
Duke just nodded. "You're right. I had his warped teachings drilled into my head every day of my life until just a couple of years ago. It's not something I can just up and forget."
He was certainly trying. But he still hid behind his masks and facades a great deal. David suspected that Yugi and the others didn't have much, if any, idea of that. It was a tough habit to break.
"But that's not the only problem," Duke continued. "Yugi and Téa and Joey and Tristan . . . they already had a strong bond before I ever came along. They accepted me as a friend, but I couldn't get into that tight inner circle. Actually, I'm not sure anyone has. They have lots of friends, but they're not close to any of them like they are to each other."
"Then that's the reason right there," David said. "It's nothing against you or the stunts your dad pulled."
"I know it probably isn't. I just can't help wondering sometimes." Duke got up and crossed to the water cooler. "I think I was jealous of them the first time I saw them. That was the main reason I mocked Yugi and Joey's friendship that day in school. My dad never let me get close like that to anyone." He poured a cup of water and downed half of it. Leaning on the water cooler, he added, "I was jealous of you, too. You had a good family."
"And I would've given anything for you to join it."
Duke nodded in acknowledgement. ". . . I never really thought about it before, but I want to be remembered when I'm gone. And I don't want it to just be for being my dad's son. Or even for creating Dungeon Dice Monsters. I want it to be for something that actually means something."
"I think everyone does, deep down," David mused. "But don't worry. I'm sure you'll have plenty of time to leave your mark on the world." He pointed at Duke. "You are not the kind of guy who dies young."
Duke raised an eyebrow. "I didn't know there was a specific kind for that."
"Well, maybe not. But you're the kind of guy who will one day take control of this crazy world. While I sit back and draw in all the profits that you don't want," David added with a smirk.
"Haha. I'll bet."
"I'm not the kind of guy who dies young, either. I stay out of danger, keep my nose clean, and plot ways to gain the highest percentage of money in the nation."
Duke finally cracked a smile. "And you'll die rich and old with all of the money you've collected from playing the stock market, Scrooge."
"Don't forget that Mr. Scrooge turned over a new leaf and became very charitable before his death," David said. "But he was still a good businessman."
"Oh yeah. How could I forget that?"
David adjusted his glasses. "And I'm very charitable now. I came to see what that big crash was when I was in the middle of a very important mathematical dilemma."
"And that's a big thing for you," Duke smirked.
"Of course." David stood, crossing the room. "By the way. The guy looking for you in your dream. Who was that?"
Duke glanced at him. "You know that already, don't you?"
"I'm not a mind-reader," David protested.
Duke finished the water and tossed the empty cup in the trash. "You don't have to be." He headed for the door.
He had retreated into his shell again. But David was not too worried; they had made some excellent progress.
He followed. "Oh, one other thing, Dukey. What made you fall off the couch?"
Duke grunted. "I forgot it wasn't a bed."