A/N: I know it's been a super, duper, INEXCUSABLE amount of time since I've posted. But, I hated leaving things unfinished. I won't blame you if you commented on that last sentence cause yeah I sound like I'm full of crap. But, I recently found my muse and urge to write. So, here's a somewhat helpful recap. (It might even help to read the last chapter again to refresh. Again, I'm so sorry!) I hope you don't hate me too much to not finish the story because I am on the way to finishing it. Actually there are just a few more chapters left. So, thank you so much faithful readers. You are the freaking BOMB. Enjoy, and, as always, comment and tell me what you think.

RECAP:

Risa confronted Itsubaki at the Seniors Only Event, thinking there was still a chance he'd actually be a cool guy and give her back her bracelet. Well, he's still a dick because, before she knew it, there goes her bracelet—a precious momento from her childhood—broken in half. Risa left the place, with one half still in hand, and stumbled upon Ryou, who also happened to be there. There was dancing and some mushy stuff. And then, after leaving Risa at her place, he slipped on the Millennium Ring, resolving to confront Itsubaki himself. Will Ryou be able to handle Itsubaki on his own? Will Yami Bakura ever get his Millennium Ring back? Will Risa finally get a hold of her feelings? Will all these and other dramatic questions ever be answered?

Well, yes, hopefully!


Love and Hate

Ryou

After I had dropped Risa off at her house, I walked-No, I ran back to the school. The Seniors Only event should be wrapping up shortly. The awards ceremony was the big finale of the whole night. I would probably arrive in the middle of it or maybe the end. Who cares? I needed to do this. I've never run this fast except when Yami Bakura invited me to play paint ball with his 'friends'.

I was running away then, but not this time. No, this time, I was rushing at full force towards the problem. I don't think I've ever done that before.

I turned the corner and stopped right in front of the school. The gates were open. A few people were already shuffling out and about. Was I too late? Maybe Itsubaki thought the whole thing was lame and decided to head home early?

No, Coach Karita had definitely nominated Itsubaki in the sports and athletics category. He was sure to win some kind of award. And Itsubaki loved his awards.

I ran inside the school, straight towards the gym. I was sweating in this attire. I was also breathing really hard. But, I wasn't exhausted. I was furious.

My head pounded, but I liked it. There was a wave of heat radiating all over my body, and it filled me in a way like no other. I hadn't felt this way in a long time. Not since-

"No," I said under my breath, shuddering at the thought. That wasn't what was happening right now.

My speed never faltered, not even when I pushed the doors open, creating a short pause in the ceremony. Sure, I got plenty of looks, but there was only one face I was looking for.

Impeccable timing. Yami Bakura, I noticed, had always had the best timing. Maybe I had learned a little something from him because just as I'd burst through the doors, I noticed Itsubaki, among others, was on the stage. Sports category. I had made it just in time.

"Ah, Bakura! Glad to see you could join us again," Mr. Cylinder said, placing a hand on my shoulder. "May I ask where you've been all this time? You were supposed to be helping with the-" I shook his hand off my shoulder and moved towards the crowd surrounding the stage.

"And the winner is... Itsubaki Muyo!" Itsubaki walked up to the podium with that smug grin that he always wore. I really hated that grin. I growled in fury. He didn't deserve to be happy right now.

Not now. Not ever.

"I just wanna say that-" Itsubaki had started speaking, but I soon cut him off.

"Yeah, you go man! You really earned that!" I yelled, clapping from the middle of the crowd. He simply laughed it off, clearing his throat to continue his speech.

"I wanted to say-"

"Yeah, go Itsubaki! The man is a literal basketball God! Am I right?! No one can match you in that field!"

"Yeah, well-"

"Not even that freshman kid. What was his name? The one who showed such promise, such talent. Only to end up in a hospital with two broken arms after tryouts last year!" I was yelling now. People were now shuffling away from me, creating a small space in the center of the crowd, leaving only myself exposed. Itsubaki's grin had faded.

"I'd like to see you speak up now, bro. I know who you are. I can see you."

"I don't think you'd be wearing that smug grin if you could really see my face," I hissed, glaring at him.

Just then, I felt two heavy hands land on each of my shoulders. I turned around to see Coach Karita and Mr. Cylinder with annoyed expressions.

"I know what you did! I know everything you've done!"

That was the last thing I yelled before I was dragged out to the sound of clapping and cheering. Either many of his fellow classmates didn't know what kind of person Itsubaki was or didn't care. His name was infamous among underclassmen, however.

The last thing I heard was Itsubaki's loud, obnoxious laughing and jeering. I thought I was mad before. Just then, something inside of me snapped and was replaced by something else entirely.

"I'm going to kill you," I whispered under my breath. And I meant every word.


Risa

I was running for what felt like an eternity. Images of memories passed me by like shooting stars. They moved so fast, causing drafts of wind to blow through my hair and knock me off my balance. I was running, and I was getting tired.

I had never been much a runner. I was always the slowest in my class and got winded pretty easily. But, I just had to keep going this time. There was a sense of urgency in me. I was running away from something. But I was getting so tired of running from it, and it was catching up. I could tell that it was only a matter of time until-

WHOOSH

Something whizzed by my head, knocking me down—hard. I turned onto my back, ready to look my super-stalker right in the eyes. I can take him, I thought to myself.

"I can and I will, of c-" My exclamation filled with vigor was soon cut off.

"Mom?" Beads of sweat dotted my forehead. Tears welled up in my eyes. I knew this day would finally come—the day when I would be reunited with her—and I told myself I wouldn't cry. I made myself promise.

She put a cold hand to my cheek and looked at me with warm eyes. That's when I freaking lost it. I began sobbing in her arms.

"Shh, shh, I'm here now. There's no need for tears, baby, I'm here," she cooed. I remember this feeling so clearly now—the feeling of her embrace. The last time I felt it was when I was only about ten. The last time I saw her and my dad.

Oh my god. I remember now.

"Am I dead?" I said in between sobs.

"I certainly hope not," she laughed, wiping my tears.

"Is Dad here too?"

"Just me," she said sadly. I solemnly nodded, understanding.

"I missed you so much," I said, hugging her tightly. She hugged me tighter, filling me with warmth. Then, she pulled away, holding my shoulder tightly.

"Risa, you know why I'm here, right?" I didn't know how to respond. She, then, put her hand to my cheek and then to my forehead. "But, you know we can't stay here. You have to let me go, sweetie. You have to let this go."

My mind hadn't been this clear since, well, since I don't even know. It definitely wasn't this clear when I came to Domino or even for some time before then.

"Have you been taking your pills?"

The question stung me and hurt to even think about.

Pills? What pills?

"You should take one pill each morning with food. When they run out, give me a call, okay?" Dr. DeWolfe said.

That was after the accident.


I never really understood what my parents did, and no one ever really bothered explaining it to me. All I know is that they were never really there. They must have had really good jobs, though, because we never seemed to need to worry about anything—financially, at least.

At around ten years old, my parents got into a car crash while coming home from a late-night dinner party. There was a funeral, and I don't remember much of it. I do remember that that's when I was passed onto my mother's parents. My grandmother had recently retired and my grandfather was sick. I knew I was a burden. And they were constantly stressed. The only thing I liked about staying with them was being able to meet their doctor who was often at the house, taking care of my grandfather.

Being at the large house all day also gave me a lot of time to think—maybe too much time. Over time, daydreams turned into delusions. I came up with an image of the family I'd always wanted. Spies for parents... How exciting? Quirky aunts and uncles and cousins who always "visited" me. Countless adventures created for myself and my trusty band of friends. I drew further and further into myself. I lived in my fantasies and never accepted reality. As far as I could tell, it was better that way.

I was living in my own world where love and adventure were ever-present. What more did I need? I was happy, wasn't I?

Dr. DeWolfe became concerned, especially when my grandfather died. My grandmother wished to leave the house and travel the world now that she was free to.

That's when Dr. DeWolfe decided to take me under his care.

"I've decided to take care of you, Risa. I hope you'll be okay with that?" he said, smiling warmly, as he took a card from the deck and added it to his hand.

"Focus, man. It's crunch time, and your next move could make or break it!" I yelled. We had been playing for quite some time, and I was going to beat him again. He was the only guy I'd ever played against and probably why I never got any better at it.

"I end my turn. Your move," he said, grinning.

Your move...Your move... My move?


My gaze softened as I recalled everything in mere seconds. I, then, looked up at my mother, who smiled warmly at me. I now understood.

"That's right, baby. I was never real," she said, wiping under my eyes once again.

"I wanted to believe in you so badly, though." My voice cracked.

"You needed me, and I was there for you for a while. But you don't need me anymore, baby. You don't need any of us." Just then, they all appeared—my dad still in his spy gear, my grandparents wearing bracelets that matched my broken one, my quirky cousin who laughed at all of my jokes, and friends I never had. They were all there in the distance, waving. Then, there was my mom still right in front of me.

"I still need you, just in case! Please!" I pleaded, not wanting to let her go.

"Oh no, not anymore. Too old for that, hun," she said, rubbing my back. "You're not alone anymore. This is the real world. I thought that's what you wanted." My mind traced back to a conversation I had not too long ago.


"Okay, Dr.! I have an idea!" I yelled frantically. It was another time we had been playing Duel Monsters together. That was the only game that had ever been able to get me out of my shell. Dr. DeWolfe knew that, which is why he always put up with its "complicated rules" and played with me.

"Risa, what have I said about your inside voice. I'm right here," he said, sighing while inspecting his cards.

"Yeah, yeah, but I just had a freaking brain fart! Okay, okay, so here me out!"

That was when I told him about living on my own. Right, that was my idea. How did I convince him to let me do that?

"I think it'd be really great if you let me live on my own because that'd motivate me to want to get off my ass and-"

"Language!"

"Right, but it'd make me want to explore the world and all its possibilities. That's what I need. Exposure therapy... Ever heard of it?"

"I'm familiar," he said, analyzing his cards carefully. I was about to win but he still took twenty minutes to choose his next move.

"Yes, yes! That's what I'm saying..."

"So, you're telling me you want to live on your own so you can meet more people?"

"Yep!"

"That doesn't make any sense to me."

"Come on! I'm about to be a freshman in high school! I'm old enough."

"Not quite."


Somehow I had convinced him because that year, freshmen year of high school, I was living on my own. Well, not really.

Dr. DeWolfe lived a few doors down in our apartment complex. Still, I felt relief. That year of school wasn't too bad either. I joined a kickboxing class and actually learned to speak up for myself thanks to my aggressive teacher. I still ate lunch alone in the library but classes were bearable and I was able to make small talk with some of the students, which was a big improvement for me.

"And then the teacher said some joke that completely fell flat with everybody, like honestly, no one laughed," I said, laughing.

"Huh, what a tragedy. Okay, here you go," Dr. DeWolfe said, handing me a small, green pill.

"You know what? I think I'm actually getting alright. Like, I was a total freak before but now-"

"You were never a freak."

"Maybe half a freak, like just a little bit," I said, squinting my right eye while squeezing my thumb and pointer together to show the small degree of freak I probably was.

Then, the homecoming dance came along. Oh yeah, that... Yeah, some stuff happened, and I try not to dwell on it.

Basically, I became a hermit after that.

"Maybe a change in scenery could do you some good."

"I hate my life..." I muttered under my breath. I had been sitting in the corner of my bedroom, drawing people I'd never actually physically met before but people I felt like I knew.

"What was that?" Dr. DeWolfe was standing in the doorway, observing me from afar. Even he couldn't stand being near me. I mean, it fit in with everything else around me.

"I hate you for making me go to that dance!" I yelled. I wasn't using my inside voice again. I was acting like a child. I would never be able to actually exist in the world everyone else seemed to be in.

He turned to leave when I spoke up again.

"Hey, Dr.," I slowly started. He had gotten me thinking. "Change of scenery... What did you mean by that?" I turned to him and stared straight into his eyes-the first eye contact I had had with anyone since the dance, which was weeks ago.

He smiled.

I would spend sophomore year of high school in a small city in Japan—a place I'd always wanted to go.

"Dr., I don't want people to know I'm weird. It's gonna be a clean slate for me. I want them to think I'm okay."

"Okay," he said slowly, not fully understanding what I was about to ask him to do.

He thought I was making progress, opening up to him and wanting to go to a foreign land and attend school again. But I was still-I still am-


"Broken." I looked up at my mom.

"No, no, no. You've come a long way, Risa, you really have!" She was gripping me harder now.

"No. I came here with the same mental state I had when I was ten years old. I wanted to start over so badly I completely forgot all the therapy and all the everything! I reverted back into that little girl who just wanted a fa-" I broke down crying again. It felt like years of emotions were finally rushing out of me, and I had no way to control them. "I even pushed the only family I had away. I'm so stupid. Stupid and awful!" I yelled this time while tears blurred my vision.

I was awful. A real shitty person.


"Dr., I don't want people to know I'm weird. It's gonna be a clean slate for me. I want them to think I'm okay."

"Okay-"

"I want to live on my own. And I don't want to have a doctor. Not anymore. I want to be independent and be able to protect myself and I don't want to have a doctor."

"Okay, you said that but-"

"Butler! And part-time chauffeur! Like batman!"

"Risa," Dr. DeWolfe turned around to face me with a serious face, "you know you're not batman, right?"

"I'm just making a reference," I said, slowly. For a moment, though, I had believed that maybe I could be like batman. Dead parents? Check. And now, as far as I knew, I had a butler. Isn't that all I needed? No, people would see right through that. I wanted a new story for myself. Not the real story—the pathetic situation that was my life. I needed something nobody would see coming, something interesting, like my old daydreams and fantasies.


I am stupid and awful.

"At least, you know it now." I looked up when she said that. So, she admitted it. She agreed with me. "At least you know where you went wrong." I stayed silent. I had lost sight of myself. I fooled myself into really believing what I desperately wanted others to believe. I was a fucking nut case. "Risa, you can fix things. You know where you went wrong, and now, you can turn yourself around."

"I've been living a lie," I said somberly. My tears had already dried up, staining my cheeks. My eyes were sore and my throat felt raw.

"You've been sleepwalking through life for a long time, Risa. Now, it's time to wake up because you got people who actually give a damn. Do you hear me?!" Woah, fairytale mom wasn't really the yelling type. I looked at her and stepped back a bit. "You've always had Dr. DeWolfe, and now you have friends, too. And I didn't help with that. None of us did!" She raised her hands and so did all my other dream people behind her. "You did it all on your own, which means you can do it again."

"But, what if-"

"No, buts! You're a grown-ass woman. You can figure it out!" Could I?

There was a sudden gust of wind, and then, I was facing myself. Except it wasn't me. This girl had long, luscious hair, and radiant skin. She was literally glowing. She was who I wanted to be.

"Yes, you can." Damn, even her voice was perfect. But, she was too perfect. It made me uncomfortable just looking at her. But, I was still somehow awestruck by her.

"How do you do that glowy thing?" I asked.

"Listen, Risa, perfection is overrated. And, you're so interesting on your own. I mean, you literally deconstructed your own psyche in one night." I'm not sure that was something to be completely proud of...

"Wait, I'm dreaming right now?" I was still staring at her, wide-eyed. Damn, I was over being uncomfortable. I would kill to be her.

"You are loved. And you are wanted. You just need to learn to love yourself a bit better." At that, a wave of memories flooded me.

I saw Dr. DeWolfe teaching me to cook for the first time, I saw my old kickboxing teacher complimenting me on my roundhouse kick, I saw Biscuit running up to me like he did every time I arrived home, I saw Yugi and Yami playing Duel Monsters with me, I saw Ryou eating lunch with me for the first time, I saw Joey cracking jokes in the art room, I saw Mr. Matsu-err Glen racing me to the lunch room, and I even saw Bakura helping me throw Itsubaki's body into the car. I saw so many people and the good times we had had. I couldn't help but start to cry again.

"Thank you for that." That was all I could say. But other me was already walking away about to join the other fantasies I had. "I'll probably never forget you!" I yelled over a wind that was growing around me.

"Then don't!" Other me yelled back. "Just don't forget to live your own life, too!" She didn't even look back while she said that. She just waved. Damn, I should take notes cause she was hella cool.

A sudden wind rushed through me and threw me into nothingness. And, I just sort of went with it. I didn't even try to fight it. I could let go of that other life. I was done with it. I was content.


I woke up, dripping with sweat. My cheeks felt hot, and I figured I had probably been crying.

"Woah." That was all I could say. I checked my cell phone and saw that it was only 4 AM. I knew I wouldn't be able to go back to sleep after that, however. So, I jumped out of bed and ran downstairs.

"Okay, okay. So, my parents aren't really spies, and they're actually dead. Yep, that's right, I think." I clapped my hands together several times and nodded. Yeah, that was actually right. "Biscuit?" I called out to him. I had to make sure that aspect of my life was correct, as well. I heard a familiar tapping against the floor and eventually saw my small little friend. "Oh thank God," I said, hugging his small body close to mine. "I love you so much," I whispered to him.

I, then, got up, wiping a tear from my eye, and ran into the kitchen. I went through several drawers before I found what I was looking for. It was the small brown bag that I'd gotten the first day I got here... when I had told Dr. DeWolfe I needed space. Well, I basically said that, just in a more elaborate manner.

I slowly opened the bag, pulling out two bottles.

"Pills... And that note..." With a now-clear head and shaky hand, I read it aloud.

To my beloved Risa:

I just wanted you to know that I love you very much. I won't be as close to you as I once was due to your "conditions", but that doesn't mean I won't still think of you often. You're like a daughter to me, and although you do have your quirks, I can't say that I won't miss seeing you as often as I had. I wish I could have done more for you, but I know that you'll figure yourself out. I know that you're smart and responsible enough to take care of yourself and Biscuit. I hope you adapt well to Domino City. I also hope you have that adventure you've always been yearning for. I've given you your pills. Just call when you need them refilled or, really, feel free to call whenever. I'd love to hear from you any chance you can get.

Goodbye and good luck.

Dr. DeWolfe

I traced my fingers over his familiar signature. How could I have reduced him to such a small and distant figure in my life? And how did all of the other shit become so central?

"So, there was never a pistol..." I said, sighing.

A not-so-random thought then crossed my mind. So, when I had pulled out a "gun" on Bakura and Ryou..? I focused really hard, recalling that night. Then, I started laughing hysterically.

I didn't even realize I had pulled out a pill bottle and "aimed" it at them. No wonder Bakura started laughing.

"Risa, put the gun down"

"Risa, put the - down"

"Risa, put the pills down."

That's really what Ryou had really said. How had I misheard it? His expression had been a mixture of shock and concern—more so concern.

"Oh my God, I'm gonna need therapy after this," I muttered to myself.

I, then, picked up my cell phone and started dialing Dr. DeWolfe. I had a lot to tell him.