I just couldn't seem to help but feel anxious. There was this real sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach and it churned and twisted around, making me feel like vomiting. I got up and tried walking it off, but it just seemed to get worse. I took medicine, but even after an hour, nothing changed. I started to think that my body was trying to tell me something much more serious, but I couldn't peg what it could be.

Eventually, I let myself go. I stopped trying to think about it and just let my body act on its own. It would straighten itself out eventually, right? I wound up downstairs and dialing the phone. I called Tristan, asking him how things were going. I wanted to keep things as casual and normal as possible. If I started making it seem like something was wrong before I knew what it was, I'd have the whole gang here in a hurry. I didn't want to worry them at this hour.

When everything checked out with Tristan, I dialed Joey's number. He was chatting away, the sound of an obnoxious video game in the background, and I knew everything was right in his world. I tried to be brief, finally coaxing him into letting me off the phone. The only person left was Téa. Unfortunately, the uneasy feeling in my stomach worsened when her mom answered and said she hadn't come home yet.

Before I even realized what I was doing, I had bolted back up to my room and was throwing on my coat and shoes. I didn't even bother grabbing the Puzzle; I was in too much of a hurry. I could hear Grandpa calling out for me as I scurried out the front door, but I didn't answer him. When the sinking feeling I had escalated, my only thoughts were to move faster and pray to God that I was just an overly-paranoid teenager.

I made it down to the street corner where we all went our separate ways after school. Joey and Tristan headed off one way, while Téa and I went the other. Téa usually walked me to the Game Shop and then continued on towards her house. It was ironic to think that she was the one walking me home instead of vice versa. But those thoughts aside, I remembered that today, Téa split off from all three of us to go down to Burger World. She said something about having to speak with her boss and then left.

It wasn't long before I was practically sprinting down the street and my eyes darted left and right in search of her. My heart pounded hard and fast against my chest and my lungs felt like they were on fire, but I couldn't stop myself! My body somehow knew that she was in danger and that time was of the essence. How it knows, I don't think I ever will.

I came skidding to a halt - almost toppling over myself - right in front of the entrance. I peered through the glass windows, but I couldn't see anything. The lights were off and the doors were locked, so I had no way of getting inside. So I backed off and looked around, but I was the only soul out on the street at ten o'clock at night. Some cars would drive by occasionally, but that was it. It seemed as if I was all alone.

Panting and gasping for air, I huddled over and pressed my hands to my knees in order to support myself. Before I could recompose myself and keep moving forward, my mouth started moving without my permission. I was shouting, "Téa!" at the top of my lungs. I didn't really care if I was disturbing anyone, but I was still rather embarrassed. I wasn't greeted with a voice, however, but a clanking sound. It sounded like a glass bottle rolling around on the cement.

I walked forward, my inner-coward rearing his ugly face. Now was not the time to be scared! It was moments like this that I cursed myself for leaving the Puzzle. Yami Yugi would be better equipped to handle situations like this. Pushing through my fears, I peaked my head around the corner by Burger World and looked down the alley. I saw a couple of guys leaning up against the wall, giving me these really creepy looks. It wasn't shocking that I was becoming more and more terrified by the second. They looked like trouble.

I would have just turned and walked away, but something caught my eye that forced me to stay. By the dumpster, well, there was this little blue shoe, and it looked an awful lot like one of Téa's. As I was eying it, though, one of the guys pushed himself from the wall and started walking towards me. I backed up a bit, fear settling in quite nicely, but held my ground otherwise. He leaned up against the corner of the building and smirked at me.

"See somethin' interesting, do ya, punk?"

His breath smelled horrible and I felt my body tremble slightly. I couldn't show this much fear and panic in front of these guys. They'd pummel me on the spot. I knew I didn't look tough or strong, but if I could at least show a little bit of confidence, I might not be such a sitting duck. I let my eyes linger on the shoe and the thoughts of what could have happened echoed in my mind. But that didn't last for long, because the guy slammed his palm against the building and regained my attention.

"You got some business here, kid? 'Cause if not, you need to bail!"

Balling my fists, I looked back at the shoe and said, "I'm looking for my friend, Téa!" The man just laughed at me and so did the boys in the back. I must have sounded like such a little kid, but I didn't care. Why did that shoe have to look exactly like hers?

"Sorry, kid. We don't know nobody by that name. Now scram!"

Taking a few more steps back, I slammed my eyes shut and just let loose.

"She's a high school girl with short brown hair, blue eyes, about five foot and some odd inches tall, and she's wearing a Domino High School uniform! She's my best friend and I need to find her!"

With roaring laughter emitting from the background, I saw a figure move and stand up from behind the dumpster. It was pretty dark and the person looked really lumpy and oddly shaped. He wore a crazy purple hat with white stripes and he had bits of spiky black hair sticking out from underneath. One of his eyes was covered and the other was a light red color - almost pink.

"Well why didn't you say so? We seen a girl like that earlier. Pretty little thing, she was. She had quite a feisty attitude, though. A real spirited one, but that was alright. She's your best friend, huh?"

Gulping, I nodded my head, petrified by the look in his eyes. The way he talked sent chills up my spine, but it also flared up some anger within me. I knew I didn't stand a chance against him, especially not with all of his buddies, but something told me I still had to be brave. And when he stepped out into the street light, I knew why.

He pushed somebody to the ground in plain view. There, in front of my eyes, was the bruised body of Téa.


Running towards her, there was a sharp pain in my side. The guy who initially approached me had kneed me right in the ribs. I hit the ground hard and grabbed at my side, praying that I didn't have any internal bleeding or broken ribs. My eyes were still locked on my friend and my anger rose a little more as I counted all the visible markings on her broken form. There was a gash on her lower lip, blood still pouring from it. There were dark bruises on her right cheek, both her legs, and her wrists. And that was just what I could see.

I saw that one of her feet were exposed and knew that it had been her shoe I was eyeing. Her socks were covered in blood and dirt and her skirt was ruffled and hiked... oh, dear God, no... no!

"What did you do to her, you bast-!"

I was kicked violently in the head and my body rolled a good four feet, at least. I was never one to curse, but this was Téa we were talking about here. Not only was she attacked, beaten, and probably tortured, but ra-... ra-... I can't even think such a thing!

Forcing my eyes open, I saw hers start to flutter open as well. She lazily locked on to my gaze and, for a moment, I smiled and felt relief and happiness. Her eyes widened in horror at seeing my little body on the ground and bloody. I had a pretty nice flow of blood coming from my head and out of my mouth. She tried to push herself up and come to me, but quickly fell back down and cried. The pain was coming back to her and I watched as she curled up into herself and shook. Tears ran down her pretty face and my anger knew no limits. I was officially done.

I temporarily forgot about the pain and skyrocketed to my feet. I grabbed a nearby bottle off the ground and charged at the man in front of me. I caught him off guard and smashed the bottle right on top of his head. Then I kicked him with as much force as I could muster. One of the other guys came racing at me and I turned around and let my fist connect with his face. I hadn't even meant to do that, it was just my natural reaction, I suppose. But that was where my glory ended.

The next thing I remember was Téa crying out to me while all of the men took their shots at me. I was punched, kicked, shoved, tossed around, bitten, spit on, and everything else in between. I thought for sure I was going to die right before her eyes. Then God only knows what would have happened to her. Would they go back to her and hurt her again? Would they leave her there to suffer? Would they kill her? I don't want to leave her...

All of a sudden, a metal pipe came flying out of nowhere. It nailed one of the guys straight in the face and sent him flying off of me. I couldn't open my eyes, I'm pretty sure they were both black and swollen shut. But I would recognize those two voices anywhere.

"What the Hell do you think you're doin' to our friends, scuzzballs?!"

"Yeah, you got a bone to pick with somebody?!"

Joey and Tristan. But how? I didn't tell them anything, but here they were. I felt myself being let go of as the other guys ran towards my friends. I wanted desperately to open my eyes and move. To stand up and help them fight. To crawl over to Téa who was still crying and saying my name. Hell, to get up and get out of everyone else's way would have sufficed. But I was rendered immobile and the only thing I could remember before blacking out was that last high-pitched scream yelling, "Yugi!"

Opening my eyes, I looked up and saw a bright light and then a white ceiling. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust and for me to figure out that I was in the hospital. It was better than being dead, but where was everyone else. What happened after I blacked out?

My door opened and my curtain was pulled back. A nurse was standing there and smiling at me. She picked up my chart and started scribbling on it. As she wrote, she said, "How are you feeling? Do you know where you are?" I nodded for her and she asked, "Do you remember your name and address?" I sputtered it off for her and she was pleased with my answers. Before she could walk away, I had to get some answers of my own out of her.

"Wait! What exactly happened? I was with some other people. Where are they? How did I get here? Where is-"

"Whoa, there, settle down. You have some visitors; I'll be happy to send them in. I think they can explain everything to you."

It hadn't even been two minutes before my door was practically ripped off its hinges and Joey and Tristan came stomping inside. They had bandages on their face and hands, but it didn't look like anything serious. Joey stood by my side and Tristan was at the end of my bed.

"What the Hell were you thinkin', Yug?! Did you wanna go and get yourself killed or somethin'?"

"Yeah, man, you must have been crazy to try and take on all of those guys on your own!"

"Gramps has been throwin' a hissy fit out in the waiting room since he got here and he was blamin' us for you bein' here!"

They kept hollering and berating me with questions, but I just threw up my hands and surrendered. I was alive, they were fine, and all was well. But what about...

"What happened to Téa?"

Joey and Tristan both gave me that look like something wasn't right. My heart dropped and I could feel the tears forming at the brim of my eyes. Before I could cry, though, Joey put his hand on my shoulder.

"She's in the IC unit (A/N: Intensive Care Unit). They doctors say she was roughed up pretty good, but that she'd make a full recovery."

I was relieved to hear that, but there was still something wrong. My eyes pleaded with Joey's and he looked away and scratched the back of his head.

"They ran a rape kit on her. Nothin' turned up, so she's fine."

"Then why do you still look something else is wrong?"

They both stepped away from me and turned to look out my window. I felt like my body was ready to shut down and give up on functioning. They way they said and did nothing made me anxious and depressed. I couldn't forgive myself if something worse had happened to her...

"They got her good, Yug. the doc says that if you hadn't of showed up when you did, they would have done it. Téa keeps floatin' in and out of consciousness, but every time she's awake, she screams and cries for you. They finally just sedated her. I don't know what's gonna happen to her when she gets released."

Tristan shoved his hands into his pockets and remained silent. My worst fears had been put to rest, but they were absolutely right: what happened next? Would she make a full mental recovery? Would she ever feel safe walking alone again? How was this going to affect her social life? What about her love life? Would she stop trusting men entirely? Or even worse... would she stop trusting me?

My mind reeled so much that I had actually worked myself up enough to pass back out. The nurse had Joey and Tristan leave and go back out to my Grandpa. I knew he wanted to see me before they started talking, but he probably just didn't want to stick around to hear about all of the horrible things that happened. I don't blame him one bit.

The next day, I woke up with an odd determination. Someone dropped off the Millennium Puzzle and left it on my nightstand, but I still didn't want to put it on. I got this far on my own, what more could happen?

I crawled out of bed and started pacing the floor. My whole body ached and screamed for me to rest, but I tried to shake it off. I had to get out of this room. I eventually forced myself to open my door and wander down the hall. Everything was pretty quiet, so nobody paid much attention to me. I finally found the IC and made my way inside. I asked one of the nurses for a Téa Gardner and she just smiled at me. I followed her around the corner and she opened a door for me. I wasn't sure what her smile meant, but I was grateful to her nonetheless.

I pulled back a curtain and saw her. The face that had been soaked with blood, dirt, and tears was now cleaned up and bandaged. They brushed out her hair and had her laying all pretty and comfortably in her bed. I pulled up a chair and let my body fall into it. I couldn't stand anymore. I reached forward and grabbed her hand, tenderly but firmly holding on to it. I couldn't seem to do anything else but hold her hand and cry. Then I feel asleep.

And for the next few hours, we slept deeply next to one another. Hospital staff was looking all over for me, but the nurse who helped me find Téa kept them away from her room. I felt a warm and comforting sensation on my head and registered it as fingers being run through my hair. Whoever it was, they were careful to avoid my wound. They had really soft hands.

There was a light humming sound and the owner of the voice sounded very weak. I was sad to hear such a pretty voice sound weary and sad. My eyes eventually fluttered open and I saw fingernails and skin in my peripheral vision. I looked up and saw Téa sitting up, tears rolling down her face, humming sadly, and stroking my hair. I violently pushed myself up, grunting in pain, and said, "Téa! You're awake!"

She was surprised, but smiled at me and nodded. Tears kept falling, but I ignored them for a moment and leapt at her. I was halfway on her bed and suspended from the floor as I hugged her. My own tears began to fall as she wrapped her frail arms around me. We stayed like that until my body begged me to lie comfortably. I slid off of her and back into the chair, my cheeks a crimson color. Her cheeks were tinted pink and she looked away from me, a small, subtle smile on her face. I wiped the tears from my eyes and smiled, too.

We sat in uncomfortable silence after that. What was I supposed to say to her now? How are you feeling? Are you O.K.? Of course she wasn't... not after something like that.

"Thanks, Yugi."

I looked at her and blinked, realizing that was the first time I'd heard her speak without screaming or crying out in pain since the attack. It was nice to hear just her.

"Don't thank me, Téa. If I had been there earlier-"

"Don't start that!"

I snapped my head up in confusion. She sounded hostile now. I think she was scaring me more than all of those guys combined right now.

"Don't you dare go blaming yourself for what happened to me. If anything, this is all my fault. If I had just gone home or had someone with me in the first place, this probably wouldn't have happened!"

I couldn't stand hearing her blame herself. She did nothing to deserve this. This beautiful, perfect woman in front of me didn't cause this.

So I leapt up again, fully positioning myself on her bed and I... oh my...

I had been doing nothing but acting rashly and without thinking since this all happened. Making late night phone calls, running around outside, screaming, getting into fights, sneaking out of my room... and now this! I kept my eyes squeezed shut, readying myself for a violent smack to the head or to be forcefully pushed off of her. My whole body tensed and I prepared myself, but nothing happened. Well, nothing like that. Actually, quite the opposite occurred.

She kissed me back.

We spent the remainder of our time in her room talking, crying, and hugging. I had never felt so warm and wanted by someone. She curled up by me and the way she latched on to me made me feel pretty good. I was a short little pipsqueak who couldn't defend myself against an elementary school student, but she was holding me like I could protect her from anything. It was great. I wrapped my arms around her, breathing in the scent of her hair. I couldn't do much for her, but if there was one thing I'd never fail at, it would be loving her.

Yeah, I could do that all on my own.

"A/N: I don't know what my problem is, but I have been on a violent streak lately. I want to write all of these fanfictions with violence and someone getting hurt. I actually want to write a gruesome tragedy where someone dies, but I can't bring myself to. I still have an inkling for romance. Anyway, I hope this story wasn't too terribly OOC. I was trying so hard to keep everyone in character despite what was happening. Just please, leave a review and tell me what you think, kay? Try not to be too harsh."