A New Kind of Summer

By Lucky_Ladybug

Notes: The characters are not mine and this piece is! It was written for the challenge Summer at the YGODrabble community on Livejournal. It is my attempt to work out some of the details of my more manga-influenced backstory for anime Duke. As always, "David" is a canon character; he speaks with Duke in episode #46. He and his apparent closeness with Duke fascinate me.

Summer was a time Duke both liked and dreaded, as far as his business was concerned. It was open longer hours to better accommodate the customers. They came in droves, and while some were window-shoppers, many bought things.

And they also turned the place into a disaster zone. Most days at least some merchandise fell to the floor and was not picked up. There were also collapsing displays, wild kids, and the occasional idiot who brought food or drinks into the building and dropped some of them here and there and everywhere. The staff was busy throughout the day and after-hours, cleaning up the messes as well as tending the counter.

Duke collapsed across said counter after one particularly exhausting day, spreading his arms along the cool glass. "Oh boy," he mumbled.

"It's not all that bad, Dukey-boy," he heard his store manager say from somewhere above him. "Just look how full the cash register is."

"Yeah, sure, David, that's great." Duke yawned. "Don't tell me you've still got energy after today."

David plopped on the chair that they kept for slow days. "Actually, no," he admitted. "I was running around most of the time."

"I thought so." Duke pushed himself up and turned around, leaning on the case with his elbows as he faced the snarky college student. "I guess right now you're grateful that classes are out."

"Am I ever grateful." David peered at his boss and childhood friend. This was not the first summer they had been running the Black Crown, but it was the first since the death of Duke's controlling and revenge-driven father. Duke had started the business in defiance of him after a lifetime of oppression, but afterwards, when approached one final time, he had given in and agreed to help him with his plot against the Mutos.

He had never been able to resist the man for long. Duke felt sorry for him and guilty for any time he tried to walk away. He knew Mr. Devlin needed help; he just wasn't sure how to give it to him.

There was the fact that Duke had honestly wanted the Millennium Puzzle, too. He'd had dreams of harnessing its power and gaining glory for himself. But those ideas had faded soon after he had met Yugi and found that he could not hate him, as his father blindly did. And when the twisted and crazed man had decided to kill Yugi with the Devil's Boardgame, Duke had at last put his foot down, as David had tried to encourage him to do for so long.

His father had perished from being caught in the house after the game had gone berserk and aged the building, causing its collapse. Duke and Yugi had escaped.

Duke was still not sure how he felt about the situation. He was physically free, but his father's memory and teachings were still strong. And the manner of his death had badly shaken Duke. He had become independent and was doing well, but he also continued to hide behind the mask of a debonair ladies' man. He still kept people at arms' length, wanting whenever possible to avoid anyone seeing the real him.

At the same time, he wished someone would.

"Duke, you are falling asleep on your feet," David declared as he ended his musings. Duke was, too; he had slumped down so far he would fall on the floor if he weren't careful.

"What? Oh." Duke straightened. "It's bed for me. I'll see you tomorrow." He fumbled as he reached for the keyring.

"No, I think you'll see me right now," David said. "You're in no condition to drive. You'll fall asleep at the wheel and crash into something."

"I'm fine," Duke grumbled. But he tossed David the keys. "You're just looking for an excuse to drive a fancy old convertible."

David caught them. "On the contrary, I'm not," he said. "Too wild for me."

"Whatever." Duke wandered to the door, yawning again. David followed, twirling the keys around his finger.