A/N: Gangshipping (Hirutani x Katsuya Jounouchi) for Season 10 Tier 9 of YGO Fanfiction Contest. Sadly, I haven't read the manga and had not the time to look up the anime episodes featuring Hirutani for reference, so everything I wrote was based on that one article on YuGiOh Wikia. A lot of liberties were taken, orz. This is why I present you with a vaguely mafia-tinted AU written to the tune of all of the 12 Stones songs that I had on hand, most notably 'Stay', 'Far Away', and 'Lie To Me'. Title of fic also shamelessly stolen from a 12 Stones song with the same title.

Disclaimer: Kazuki Takahashi and all associated companies are the rightful owners of the Yuugiou! franchise and I claim no association with any of them. No copyright infringement intended with this and no money is being made from this. Please support the creator by purchasing the official releases.

Warnings: all of the warnings. And triggers.

Anthem For The Underdog

"You said you were there for me
You wouldn't let me fall
All the times I shared with you
Were you even there at all?

- Lie To Me by 12 Stones

When chivalry was still alive, when goodwill still mattered and friends didn't stab friends in the back… but this isn't a story about that. At the time this story takes place, the chivalry was long since dead, any person committing acts of goodwill was a laughingstock, and friends didn't just stab friends in the back. They twisted the knife for good measure.

In the beginning, it wasn't that big of a deal for Jounouchi, or Joey, as Hirutani christened him when they began branching outside of Japan. Just a little job here, a small tax collection there, a few choice threats dropped in passing. Nothing too stressful, noting too serious.

Somehow, the little yo-yo swinging gang had grown well beyond the schoolyard bullying and now, years after graduation, they had taken to the streets and made a word for themselves in the lower ranks of the yakuza. They were still the small fish in the pool of sharks; the remora, picking off parasites off the skin of the larger predators. It worked out well enough for them. Hirutani, now calling himself Diesel Kane in order to sound more formidable, had gathered a great team. There was Sleazy who looked like a distant relative of Insector Haga, the small league duellist, without actually being related to him; Min Hwoang, also known as Giant Wang behind his back, with good connections amid the Chinese criminals; Spike who always wore his hair in a way that emphasised his name; Matador Bill whom nobody dared to call 'Bull' to his face because of his giant size; Kusakabe Kyoya who kept his name unchanged because it worked well enough; Needle Nil who was among the largest drug dealers in the area; the American twins Jack and Joe whose family had moved to Japan more than a decade ago; and the bald Ikkaku whose look alone drove fear into their opponents even before he started swinging his fists. And, of course, Jounouchi 'Joey' who was still on the team because Hirutani was his best friend.

Once upon a time, Jounouchi had dreamed big. He'd had plans on making it to the top in the duelling world, to, one day, beat Seto Kaiba himself. But reality had made its call. His sister had needed an urgent operation and they hadn't had the money to pay for it. His father, the alcoholic that he was, hadn't even been sober enough to process the news. His mother had already resigned to the fact that Shizuka would become permanently blind in less than a year. Hirutani had been a lifesaver then.

"I'll talk to some friends," he'd said and only a few days later Jounouchi had been presented with an opportunity.

"You don't have to do it," Hirutani had repeated several times after laying out the details of the task. "But it's a real chance. It's real money. If you miss it, there won't be a second."

Jounouchi had accepted the offer, though with a heavy heart. It was for his sister, he reminded himself. All for his sister.

From that day forth, he became Joey. Delivering a sealed package to this person, taking pictures of that car blowing up or this building burning down and sending them to this or that address, beating up a person who refused to pay the tax for the safety of their property. Taking a kid hostage until his or her parents got their act together and did what was expected of them. Small things, compared to what the other team members were doing.

Every now and then he saw his former classmate Yuugi Mutou on the television. The new King of Games, they called him. They replayed the duels which Jounouchi should have won, showed the tournaments where he should have taken part. And that girl hanging off Yuugi's arm – wasn't she also their classmate? And Bakura? He'd been right in line with Seto Kaiba with his grades; the quiet, smart kid who was among the top five world-renowned duellists now. It could have been him, standing there. It should have been him, Jounouchi thought in resentment. But life had had other plans.

And then he saw her. The woman who should have been his, hanging off the arm of his favourite movie star Jean Claude Magnum. Mai, he caught her name during one interview. Mai. His woman. His should-have-been life. But the money for his sister's operation wasn't piling up fast enough and he had to ask Hirutani for favours again. Jounouchi was the only one in their group who still referred to their leader by his real name. Nobody else dared to address him that way.

Hirutani's answer was unchanging. "I'll talk to some friends."

This way, Joey committed his first murder. Though his target was nothing but a fellow criminal who had ratted to the police, thus destroying a minor drug delivery team, treason was heavily frowned upon. And generally punished by death.

The nausea had only set in the next day after the fact. Jounouchi had felt sick to the pits of his very soul. Sick for taking somebody's life. Sick for finding it so easy. Sick for pulling the trigger while chanting to himself the quiet mantra of "this is for Shizuka, this is for Shizuka, thisisforShizuka, ShizukaShizukaShizuka". He wondered what his classmates – his now famous classmates – would say if he called them up for a chat. Not that he knew their phone numbers, but… he could find out. He had the connections. What would they talk about, anyway? "Hey, Yuugi, remember me? I used to be in your class. Yeah, sorry I bullied you so much back then. I saw you on TV the other day and figured I'd call you up. Ask how you're doing, you know? I'm a dog of the mafia, by the way. And the dead guy they found in the alleyway in Rintama last night? Yeah, that was my job. Also, your girlfriend has nice tits." Yeah, that one would just go over splendidly. He snorted and stubbed out his cigarette, making a hasty trip to the bathroom because a new wave of nausea surged up and seared the back of his throat.

One Friday night over sake and masterfully prepared fugu, Hirutani shared the big news that had been building for weeks. Their group was being promoted. Sleazy, who was a master hacker even if his personal hygiene was worth crap, had already proven his ability to break into any system their higher-ups set their gazes on. Ikkaku and Kusakabe had had the highest ratio of perfectly completed tasks and Needle Nil had managed to triple the drug distribution in a matter of weeks, and the J-twins had ventured deeper into the territory of foreigners than anyone else, thus opening new options for swindling unsuspecting tourists and foreign workers. Their promotion included bringing in girls for work on the streets, and where the girls were, money followed. Min Hwoang had already pulled in favours with his Chinese acquaintances and the first party was already on its way.

Jounouchi did not refuse outright, but later, he spoke with Hirutani in private, asking to be left to deal with the same business he'd had before. Beating people up, carrying out threats. He insisted that he had nothing against carrying out executions of traitors for as long as he needed not take part in herding the prostitutes. Though obviously disappointed in his best friend, Hirutani grudgingly allowed him to carry on with those tasks. It didn't matter to Jounouchi that the rest of the team mocked him behind his back for this; that they called him a weakling. He'd seen the girls on the streets. Some of them couldn't be even eighteen. He didn't want any part in this because his mind immediately wandered to his sister. Her condition was getting worse and worse and there still wasn't enough money because new expenses arose along the way. Sometimes he dreaded that she would have to end up on the streets just like so many other girls; she'd be just another blind whore begging her pimp for her daily dose.

Jounouchi's resolve broke when his mother died in a hit-n-run case, leaving him to take care of Shizuka. This time, when he approached Hirutani, he loathed himself for doing so, but seeing how the other teammates were faring, the amount of gold they had begun wearing, the shiny new cars… He didn't need half of that. He didn't need any of the expensive trinkets. He just needed a few more hundred thousand yen for one final surgery, which would restore his sister's vision to what it had been before.

Hirutani pursed his lips and stared at Jounouchi for the longest time without saying anything. There was no "I'll talk to some friends" this time. Instead, "Well, I do happen to have one free spot. If you say you're ready for it…"

"Yes," he said fiercely, chanting his usual mantra in his mind. This is for Shizuka, this is for Shizuka, this is for Shizuka.

"I'm sure you've heard of the trouble we recently had in America. One police officer ruined a fine deal."

Of course, Jounouchi had heard of this. The biggest drug deal their branch had worked on this year had been completely destroyed because of one nosy cop and their higher-ups were pissed.

"He needs to be taught a lesson," Hirutani continued smoothly and handed Jounouchi a manila folder. "That lesson is here."

Jounouchi flipped through it, soaking up the information on the pages in front of him. "This is…"

"His daughter. She's coming over for a visit tomorrow. I'd like you to give her a warm welcome."

"What do you plan to do with her?" He had to ask. He didn't want to know. He could imagine, but… Shizuka, Shizuka, Shizuka. This is for her, he reminded himself again. All for her.

"Break her in. Get her on a needle. Then make a few tapes and send her back to her old man. Along with the tapes." The grin on Hirutani's face was nasty and Jounouchi was left wondering if he'd always been like this, because he can't remember another time during their years of friendship when he'd worn an expression even remotely similar to the current one.

He took the job.

The next afternoon, he lounged on a couch in one of the rooms where his teammates usually broke in their future whores, a cup of sake in his hands while he waited for the American girl to be delivered. He managed to not flinch when she was roughly showed into the room by Needle Nil. She couldn't be older than sixteen, just as the photo attached to her file had suggested. She was avoiding his gaze, absolutely terrified of her predicament – or, perhaps, the lack of knowledge, now that her world had been cast upside-down. She let out a small surprised cry when Needle Nil grabbed her arm in a vice-like grip and jammed a syringe into her vein with cruel precision. He cast a feral grin Jounouchi's way before leaving the room and locking the door behind him. Jounouchi held the other key, but the girl didn't need to know this. Especially because of Nil's haunting parting comment.

"Have fun, big boy."

Without the slightest trace of doubt Jounouchi knew that he wouldn't. He took a sip from his cup, letting the alcohol burn a path down his throat. It somehow helped keep the nausea at bay. He scraped together what little he remembered from his high school English classes to form a simple question.

"How old are you?" He regretted asking it even before it left his lips. Mistake. Terrible, horrible mistake.


Fuck. He sloshed the sake around in his cup. The girl was slowly getting dizzy, as the drug worked its way through her system. He frowned. This was no longer for his sister. This was no longer…

"What's your name?" Another terrible mistake. He'd read her name on the file, but he kept forgetting it because of how foreign it sounded.


Jounouchi grimaced and drained his sake in one intake, hoping to swallow the memory of her name. He had to do this before his courage had left him and before the nausea had fought its way to the back of his throat.

"Well, then, Katelyn, suck me off."

Once done with the girl, he practically fled the room. He was stopped by Hirutani, who, he was willing to bet his trigger hand, had been lurking in the corridor all the time.

"Done so soon?" Hirutani's eyebrow rode up in a manner that Jounouchi had never before found as arrogant and disgusting as he did now.

He shrugged in response and tried to save face. "Ran out of smokes."

"Ah, I know what you mean. Nothing like a good smoke after a good fuck. Here, you can have mine."

Muttering a hasty thanks, Jounouchi grabbed the carton from his hand and made for the door before the nausea overtook him then and there. He needed to get out. He needed to get some fresh air. He needed to get away. But where would he go? And when he died in a masterfully set up accident, who would take care of Shizuka? There was no way. There was never a way out for him; he should have realised that sooner, he scolded himself while smoking one cigarette after another. He didn't stop until the pack was empty and his throat was raw from the smoke. After this, Hirutani became 'Diesel Kane' to him because their friendship was done for. It had been over a long time ago, he realised belatedly. He just hadn't been able to see it. Hadn't wanted to see it.

There were many other girls after Katelyn, but she was the one who always haunted him in his nightmares and waking hours alike. The name with the face which he couldn't erase no matter how many bottles of sake he consumed. He paid for Shizuka's operation, but never visited her. He kept sending her money, but stayed out of her life because he couldn't bear the thought of her looking at him and seeing the man he'd turned into. Once, he'd dreamed of a better life. Of a different life. Of a life where he'd been a better man. Of being someone his sister could look up to and rely on.

Eyes on a target and finger on the trigger, Jounouchi let out a bitter laugh. Once, he'd dreamed.


So, the names of the gang members.

Minion A – Sleazy

Minion B – Min Hwoang

Minion C – Spike

Large Minion – Matador Bill

Black Haired Minion – Kusakabe Kyoya (a nod to the Katekyou Hitman Reborn and their Namimori Middle Disciplinary Committee who sport similar hairdos)

Blonde Haired Minion – Needle Nil

Minion D and Minion E – twins Jack and Joe because the only thing different about Minion E is the baseball cap to my sleep-deprived brain

Minion F – Ikkaku because he reminds me of Bleach's Madarame Ikkaku.

Also, this story deserves to be expanded on, for which I simply had not the time, orz.