Disclaimer: I don't own YuGiOh! GX.
My new writing system (AKA write 500 words per day) works really well! The only problem is that I frequently delete what I have to rewrite it in a better way. But I still have this out with only 10 days between updates, so I'm counting it as a success! Woohoo!
Chapter 2: Misremember Me
The walk to the boy's Blue Dorm lost its luster fast. I'd given up on my shoes five minutes in, and now they clunked in my right hand, loud and painful. They were the weapons I chose to wield against Jesse's door, and they cracked like gunshots against it. The pair would have to be deaf to miss it, or incredibly stupid to ignore it.
It opened a crack, but before I could push my way in Jesse grabbed my hand. I was inside the room before I could gasp, and Jesse had the door closed and his fingers shushing before I could speak. There was nothing intimidating about him; he was stuck in frumpy pajamas and already apologetic, but I stayed quiet all the same.
I crossed my arms. He pointed towards his bed, jammed in the corner of the room against the wall. Jaden was dumped over the covers. I edged closer to him, feeling my face thaw as his came into light. His eyes looked bruised and beaten in their dreams, his skin pale and tight in the depths of nightmares. A muscle twitched from his mouth down to his fingers, which grasped at vapor above the bedspread. The blue sheets bleached his colors and left him a ghost of himself, lost somewhere in the confines of his mind.
Shivers captured him, and raised my hand to stroke them away. But Jesse caught me, shook his head, and gestured towards the open balcony doors. The pleading in his eyes kept me still, and I dragged myself away from Jaden's bedside, the promise of information enticing. Jesse closed the balcony windows behind us and nearly exploded with a sigh.
"Sorry Alexis," he said. "Jay just fell asleep, and well, you can tell he needs it. So what can I do for you?"
He pulled his hands through his hair and walked to the railing, keeping his head cocked upwards. I spared a glance too, and saw a few stray stars peek down at us.
"I heard you two on the roof," I said.
He froze mid-stretch. We shared uneasy glances, sizing the other up. "How much did you hear?"
"Jaden thinks he killed Zane," I hedged. "And Ruby knows there's something wrong with him."
Jesse unhinged to put his hands to his face and groan, kneading the long night away. "Well, crap. Nothing's really going as I hoped."
"What?" I snapped. "You didn't want us to find about it?"
"No, not at all!" Jesse insisted, waving his hands in surrender. "I wanted him to talk to you himself! I can only handle so much. You guys know him a lot better than I do."
I returned his personal space and leaned against the railing, facing the room. I could see the shadow of Jaden's silhouette on the bed, his back to me. I bit my lip. "I'm not really sure about that anymore."
I could feel Jesse's gaze on my cheek. "Why do you say that? This isn't because of this Zane guy is it?"
"No." Jaden shifted in his sleep, sending locks of hair into his face. My fingers ached at my sides. "I don't think he meant it. Jaden's got the best and worse hero complex I've ever seen. I came here to make sure he stops blaming himself."
Jesse looked away, and I took up his mantle, tearing into him with my eyes. He was angled away from the lake, from the candles, the stars, and me. He was open only to Jaden, who stole his attention without any effort at all. The night grew deeper and colder between us, and I saw him working through his words with care.
"Alexis," he began. "I don't really know much about this Zane guy."
I could tell him anything he wanted. Zane wasn't much of a talker, but I had listened to every flicker in his face, every motion of his hand or quirk in his lips. My brother brought home stories of him long before I came to the island. I knew him as one of the smartest duelists left, one who relied on strategy rather than luck, and who loved his family only in secret, who treated me with unparalleled kindness until his fall.
"He used to be our friend," I answered. "He fell into the underground dueling arena after graduating, and he got himself addicted to power. The shock collars are part of those types of duels. Jaden told the Chancellor that Zane knew his heart was going bad, and that he wanted to die fighting the ultimate opponent. Jaden gave him one of the best duels of his life when Zane graduated, and so he kidnapped Syrus and myself to make Jaden duel his best. I don't think we were in any real danger"—I fingered the light marks around my Bio-Bands—"but the duel was very real to Zane. He needed Jaden to fight him like he's fought every villain that's come here."
"Villains?" Jesse prompted. He shifted his weight on his heels. "Has Jaden acted… odd around any of them before?"
He tried to keep his face neutral, but was betrayed by worry lines around his eyes. I felt my own begin to form, and hugged myself to keep warm. "In our second year, a cult called The Light came to our school. They spread their brainwashing through duels, and I was one of the victims. Jaden was the only one who lost and wasn't brainwashed. He disappeared into Neo Space after the duel, and came back with new monsters."
Jesse's frown deepened. "The Light? I think I've heard of that somewhere…"
"They were a pretty active cult." I shrugged. "But why do you want to know?"
Jesse bit the inside of his cheek, dimpling his face. "Something really weird just happened with Jaden. I'm not sure what to make of it, and hoped you could help."
I leaned into the railing, keeping my movements slow. This was the information I'd been waiting for. The bubble of glee in my chest shoved aside any guilt for abusing Jesse's trust. "Weird how?"
He took his time with the answer, mulling over the words. "Has Jaden ever had… memory problems before?"
"Memory problems?" I repeated.
Jesse hesitated, took a long look at the prone figure in his bed, and then unloaded on me. He explained his concern that Jaden forgotten what happened with Zane, about his childhood, and had almost been a different person on his balcony. Jaden called it misremembering, but Jesse was entirely certain there was something else going on. He gestured empathetically to his shoulder where Ruby must have been, explaining the connection he and Jaden shared with Duel Spirits.
"Jaden is convinced," Jesse said, puncturing his words with his hands, "that he summoned a real monster. He says he can't remember what it was, but when I got out of the bathroom, he was out on the balcony looking at Polymerization. He was acting like a completely different person, but he still knew me. Just… differently."
"What do you mean?" I pressed.
"He was more formal and his mood was off," Jesse listed. "He mentioned a woman, and he was really excited about something, but he had no idea what my name was, or even what his was. It's like he thought we were different people."
The transfer's face was a question, riddled with hard lines and empty answers. He folded and unfolded his arms, rocked on his heels, and sucked at the lining of his cheeks. Nervous energy vibrated between us, sending chills down my exposed arms.
We both knew something the other didn't. I had first hand experience with what Jesse was describing from my second year, when the Light had poisoned my mind. I knew I was dueling my friends, was fighting against Jaden and all I believed in, but he warped into my enemy, a person with a similar face and no importance. What Jesse knew I couldn't even guess, and judging by his fidgets and cautious words, I doubt he had it figured out yet either.
"Do you think he was possessed?" I whispered.
The nod was immediate. His chin jutted out like he wanted to speak, but then he drew back, shaking his head. "He passed out when I tried to question him. I'm not sure what to do."
I wasn't either. Jaden had been the mover and shaker over the years. There was little planning involved in his actions, just heart and drive that forced him through every obstacle. When there was trouble brewing, he'd charge in headfirst grinning, looking for opportunities in every duelist he faced.
"Oh," I said, and laughed at the simplicity of it all. "Of course. WWJD?"
"'cuse me?" Jesse replied, his accent bursting out. "Do you mean we should get a priest to exorcise him?"
I shook my head and smiled. "No, sorry. I just had an epiphany. What would Jaden do? What's his go-to solution for every problem we have?"
Jesse crossed his arms and folded his expression. "Normally I'm all for a duel. But this could be really dangerous Alexis. He's not himself."
"That's why this needs to happen," I countered, standing straight. "I owe him. First thing tomorrow morning, I'm going to challenge him to a duel. I won't take no for an answer."
Jesse was quiet again, but his gaze was soft. A sly smile shadowed his lips and he looked away, towards the prone figure on his bed. "Jay's a lucky guy to have a friend like you watching out for him."
It was moments like these that made me realize Jaden Yuki and Jesse Anderson were not the same person. I pushed him, he nudged back with a snicker, and we both made our way back into the room, relieved to have a game plan. Without having to speak, he bid me goodnight and I left to burn my dress. It would be too easy to love him behind closed doors, with his gentle charm and blunt empathy. He was too different from Jaden, who could blaze so hot he burned all of those around him.
But I didn't want to think about that.
Third Person POV
He watched this dream from a distance because he was not sure who he was, or if he belonged here at all. Dressed in red, but in different clothing at every blink, he had no way to see himself. So instead he focused on the two worlds playing out before him and puzzled at their wonders.
To his right, two young children were playing near the ocean. The sky was pastel and the waves reflected their laughter. He wasn't certain how he knew this—but the purple haired one was only dressed like a boy. She had been the other's closest friend since birth, and he loved her the way only children could. He was royal where she was plain, but they shared enthusiasm and warmth all the same.
To his left, the same boy sat doodling at a table. His clothing was modern, but simple for his age, and he hummed over his crayons and doodles. Someone was moving downstairs, and the lovely aroma of shrimp wafted through the vents. Over the boy's shoulder was not his mother, father, or sibling, but a demonic creature with two wings. Its clawed hands rested over the boys slims shoulders, and there was fear in its dual colored eyes. He wanted to call this creature a female too, but could not say for certain.
He knew he should not be seeing these things, should not be making connections between the boys and their playmates. He knew that he wasn't quite either of these children, but he might be them both. He knew the two-toned brown hair that they wore rested atop his own head, and that the winged companion loved the boy in the way the boy loved her. He did not know what way this was anymore.
He did not know if he preferred this dream to the others he had nowadays. Confusion plagued these warm half-memories, but fear swarmed the other. He knew who he was in the darkness of his heart, and was a ghost in his swimming mind.
There was a stranger behind his eyes. Fragments of memories hung between them like mirrors, hanging suspended in time or shattering to the shadowed floor. While he was chained, screaming without the aid of his mouth, the man took the shape of his body, gained the hue of his skin, and stared down at him with contemptuous golden eyes.
He was not sure who this was either. Sometimes, he thought it was himself—who he really was or even who he was supposed to be. But then the mirrors shook until they screamed, and he curled into himself tighter until the pain blurred. He knew he would wake up someday, would roll over and see someone there beside him, shaking him into safety. Sometimes he knew her name, others he didn't.
It came and went at a fancy, flitting through the lips of his tormentor, who did nothing but stand and speak, who could tear him apart with a single word. But he was not in the pit tonight; he was floating somewhere above it or maybe inside it, stuck in one of his reflections.
Yubel. That was the name. He tasted it, committed it to memory, and sighed as it blew away in the summer wind. There was no helping forgetfulness, and he supposed he was old enough to excuse it. Yubel. Yubel.
He was pretty sure she was dead tonight.
Alexis and Jesse would make really good friends, I think. If Alexis would give him a chance anyway. But after rewatching Gx Season 3 and 4 twice, I realized how sly Jesse is underneath all that fluffy hair. He makes me want to pinch his cheeks.
Regardless, things I could use feedback on are:
1) Characterization (especially Alexis. She's hard to get a read on)
2) Plot. Please tell me what you think happened so far so I know what needs to be clarified as the story progresses. It really helps me out!
Thankfully, pronouns aren't an issue in this chapter. I've got "he and I" for the first block, and then the second block is supposed to be confusing. So woohoo again!
Thank you for sticking with this story guys. Every review helps me out!