Title: Fragile

Disclaimer: I am writing this story for fun and not profit. The characters belong to Kazuki Takahashi. Therefore I own nada and make nada.

Warnings: AU. Sexual relations between males. Violence. Profanity. Angst. Drug usage(Not by Yugi). OOCness.

Pairings: Mobiumshipping. Side pairings will vary.

Author's Rant: This will be a medium to slow paced romance, with plenty of angst, minor character deaths and mental frustration. I estimate this plot to be between 20-30 chapters long. If you prefer cutesy, cuddly, warm and fuzzy romances, then please go elsewhere. Trust me, there's going to be hell before happily ever after. If you're ready, enjoy the journey to these three's romance. ^_^

Summary: Domino City's been divided for decades. The North belonged to the Blue Eyes. The South belonged to the Red Eyes. Atem lead the Blue Eye Aces. Yami reigned over the Red Eye Spades. As for Yugi, he was just a normal high school with hopes for a future and a world outside this rough life. He'd never meant to get involved on either side.


Responsibilities


Domino City Police have concluded the two week search for Heba "One Hit" Muto, after discovering the body of a young man fitting his description behind Domino City Plaza. Forensics was able to confirm through dental records and blood tests that the body did indeed belong to the city's All Star First Baseman for Domino City High School. Heba finished his final tournament against New Domino City High School and earned this year's MVP Player of the Year nomination, safely securing the sixth consecutive win of the season for his school.

Witnesses stated around 8:39 p.m., just minutes after gaining the city their first National Championship win, Heba was last seen exiting the Domino Hall Stadium with two unidentified youths. A 2007 Black Tahoe Z71 pulled up to the curb, where Heba and the two unknown youths entered. No one had seen the senior baseball player since.

Heba Muto's death is believed to be in connection to the recent increase in violence between the Blue Eyes and Red Eyes, rival gangs whom have caused majority of the city's crimes. Domino Police, however, refuse to answer further questions to the claims. No arrests have been made. Rumors circulate of bribery keeping suspects off radar; perhaps tools of the Blue or Red Eyes. The city is left in a quiet disdain and with little hope of their being a change in the community's gang activity.

Heba J. Muto, a well-respected A/B honor roll student, leaves behind a eleven year old brother, a grandfather and a slew of friends.

Another casualty due to endless bloodshed, senseless war and unspeakable conspiracies from terrorizing gang members; there doesn't seem to be a silver lining in sight.

Heba J. Muto shall be missed.


Domino Hall Stadium 2013

Domino Hall Stadium was lit brighter than Las Vegas on the fourth of July. The audible bedlam was ridiculously loud, the music bass pulsed beneath the ground from the speakers of sports cars, classic vehicles and high shined rollers, wanting a chance to advertise their fortunes. Outsiders of the enormous building would think a beast was demanding freedom from how the walls rumbled, how the screams echoed to the skies and how the lone clack of a bat stole the breath of every soul within.

It was the most anticipated game of the season; the last before the trip to the National Championship. Domino High School vs. Heartland Academy High, and Domino's first baseman, Tristan Taylor, walked up to base, casually twirling his crimson and grey metal bat, prepared to hype up the crowd before the main event. The tall brunet cracked his neck from side to side, hunched his shoulders and poised over the diamond plate. He gave a slow practice swing, and then hung it tight over his shoulder.

The stadium fell silent.

Tristan's brown eyes observed the competition from beneath his dove gray helmet, as his upper torso twisted in his solid white and blue rimmed uniform. The pitcher paused, eyes shifty. Tension condensed the atmosphere thick as oil.

Everything was set. The pitcher wound his arm back and thrust a fast eighty-two mile pitch. Tristan smirked. The snap of his bat to the baseball ripped throughout the stadium and skyrocketed high above. The out fielders sprinted for the ball's landing somewhere in the distant field. Tristan managed to race to second base, pushing their second baseman to third base.

One out, two bases full, and now the players were becoming antsy. Bedlam waves began to drum into the stadium seats when Bone Crusher's "Ain't Never Scared" throbbed from the stadium speakers. Screams grew in volume and howls escalated from the dugout to the top round seats as Domino High School's shortstop, emerged from the dugout.

So I'm outside of da club and you think I'm a puuuuuuuunk So I go to my loaded Tech 9 thats off in the truuuuuuuunk I told that muthafucka I ain't never scared (eastside!) I ain't never scared (westside!) I ain't never scared (southside!) I ain't never scared (northside!) I ain't never scared (southside!) I ain't never scared (eastside!) I ain't never scared (westside!)

Eighteen year old shortstop, Yugi Muto, sharp hitter, 6.3 runner, and 84 mph pitcher, stepped up to the plate, the sound of fans escaping him. Yugi straddled the plate, his wooden bat a lifeless swing in his left hand as he zeroed in on the enemy pitcher's right arm. The entire stadium shushed down the rows until total silence swept the arena. The pitcher knew Yugi's weak left side and knew the youth didn't know how to completely defend against a curveball. It was predictable. The team waited with chewed lips, baited breaths and eyes focused solely on their star player.

The pitcher hiked his leg, wrung his arm back and shot a fast curveball, hooking on the left.

It was too easy. Yugi grinned wickedly and swung his bat hard.

The sound popped, cracking like a shotgun and making the ball soar.

The crowd gave a mighty roar, setting an earthquake of excitement. The ball got plenty of air time and wasn't looking like it planned to come back. Yugi tore off to first base, then second and third, smile becoming wider and brighter the closer he came to home base. Heartland's pitcher and out fielders, shook their heads and slammed their hats to the ground. Yugi Muto had set out to accomplish what the team needed the most.

One homerun. Tristan and their center fielder came sprinting in with Yugi not far behind. The eighteen year old's cleats barely grazed the home plate when he was bombarded by his teammates. The game was over. Victory was secured. Fans poured from the bleachers in waves, wagging the school colors on flags and hollering at the top of their lungs. Yugi galloped into their arms, fists balled to the air. Heartland Academy evaporated from the field like a rain fog, grumbling and depressed.

Tristan trudged through the swarm of players to reach the center. He stood a moment, watching the humbleness roll off Yugi's face. Having this much attention on himself was never his forte. Honestly, he preferred the quiet, but you'd never guess from the way the enthusiasm radiating on his face. He was positively glowing.

And he earned it. After all this time, Yugi deserved this moment.

Not to mention the whole tradition that came with the end of every baseball season for those who gave the most towards the team. Tristan grinned like he found a million bucks and disappeared in the crowd along with two other players.

A news reporter brown haired suddenly sprouted from the ground when the team escorted Yugi close to the dugout. She thrust her mic forward, "Yugi Muto, this is your second attempt to taking the team to the National Champion. How do you plan to bring home the title this year?" She asked, grey eyes alit with gusto.

Yugi shushed his teammates, and stepped off to the side. A few he had to shoo away when they tapped his ass for good sportsmanship, "Well, the same as I always do I guess," Yugi said with a Colgate smile, removing his helmet. Sweat matted his oddly fingered spikes to his scalp, matting his blond, ebony and red hair into a volcanic nest. He smelled of stained grass, the orange dirt and sweat, but it was well worth the thrill. "Hard work, team play and determination. We couldn't have made it this far without practicing together. Coach is always preaching, if we get in the habit of doing good, good things will happen."

The news reporter, Keisha, looked over Yugi's shoulder, giggled and stepped to the side, "And do you plan to use that same vigor to bring home the title? I can understand how overwhelming the pressure is."

Yugi shrugged, "It can be at times, but I never try to think about it. After all, I've always got my teammates to back me up. Even when they tend to get out of hand." Yugi laughed. Keisha patted his shoulder and took one long step to the side.

Before Yugi could wonder why, Tristan and the two players appeared out of nowhere and dumped a ten gallon cooler of red Gatorade all over the youth's body. "Ha, hell yeah, we got 'em. We got his ass. Yeah!" The trio hi-fived and high tailed it out of there, cackling like a flock of banshees.

Yugi was soaked to the bone, shivering and taking it all in stride, "Yeah, yeah, laugh it up. You got me," he laughed too, unable to resist. Wearing a white uniform, now sullen in red juice was definitely going to give the audience an eyeful. Keisha, who'd been giggling behind her hand, carefully found her place back to Yugi's side and held out her mic.

"Does this count as being out of hand?"

Yugi shook his hair, it too, a soggy ruin, draping in tangled clumps, "Nah, this is tame. I've had way worst."

"I guess it's to be expected. I remember your brother being doused in orange gatorade when he won the final game. Heba received his MVP nomination and possible recruitment by the New York Yankees. How do you predict your future? Perhaps as bright as his?"

His brother. Right. Yeah. "Probably, yeah, I mean I try hard to be a good player and. . ." It 'll never be centered on his success. "I think that's enough about me tonight. I'm just gonna, gonna shower. Excuse me." Yugi brushed passed without another word, mood soured with age old memories.

Why should he be surprised? Even an ounce? When it boiled down to it, it always lead back to this. Him and . . . Heba.

Yugi trucked his way passed the team and his best friend, leaving Tristan's raised high five in the air. Tristan's gaze followed Yugi's back until he disappeared around the hall corner. That look spoke plenty. Tristan sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. "Hey guys, I'll catch ya at the bar tonight. Something just came up!" He said to the few who heard and the others who weren't listening. If he was going to do damage control, it was better now than later.


Yugi's worked hard and trained since he was eight years for this moment; for this one special moment and he couldn't own it. Yugi fingers clutched the front of his helmet, compressing the foam inside until his nails ate through the material. It wasn't fair. "Damn it!" The anger built so rapidly, Yugi smashed his helmet against the cement floor and splinters of acrylic went flying. It did nothing to lessen the rage, the humiliation and bitterness in his propped down hard on the locker bench, hiding his frustration in his hands, taking several deep breathes.

Sometimes—sometimes he wanted to let all this balled up anger out. He wanted to have a right to be upset, to be disappointed, and yet, how could he? How could he. . . Yugi suddenly stood and snatched open his locker, grabbing a wash towel, his body wash and shower shoes before stalking to the shower stalls. When he entered the checker tiled stalls, the light sensors automatically flickered to life, a panel at a time until the whole bathroom glowed.

Yugi unbuttoned his dirt stained jersey, revealing the white under armor t-shirt, he wore underneath and then flung the rest of his uniform over the overhead bar. Tendrils of his anger lessened but only a smidge. The shower knob was turned to hot, a steaming temperature to match his attitude. Yugi cleaned with vigorous scrubs, jerky strokes and harsh scratches until his skin was littered in red blotches.

"Of course Heba gets the steal," Yugi grumbled, lathering up more soap on his rag. "He gets everything. It wasn't me they saw, it was him. It was fucking him." He smacked the sods on and continued the soapy abuse on his body. Yugi paused where he was rubbing his shoulders, staring off into another time, another space, another moment; when everything was so much easier then. Memories of living carefree, never having to worry about being a carbon copy of anyone . . . back then he would've been his own person, his own success.

If only, if only Heba hadn't died . . . Yugi growled, eyes sealed shut, "Heba, you ruined everything." The harsh hiss of the shower turned his skin a shade of red, though it didn't hurt as much as the anxiety and aggravation swelling in his chest. As he caved in allowing the water flood his body, it couldn't mask the gentle knock on the door and the glass door sliding to the side.

A rush of cool air blasted Yugi's backside, yet he didn't turn around to meet the disapproving glare of his best friend.

"You plan on savin' some for the rest of us?" Tristan reached pass to twist the knob, getting himself drenched in the process. "Sheesh man, it's fryin' in here. You alright?"

Yugi's shoulders slumped as limp as his hair. Tristan had stripped down to his royal blue boxer briefs, black tube socks with a white towel wrapped around his neck. He knew what was bugging Yugi. Hell, the guy only wore this expression when a particular subject came up.

Yugi finished up and came out, wearing his terry cloth towel around his waist. He took up the seat next to Tristan, and cupped his face in his hands. "I'm just tired. Everything's stressing me out; the pressure and," Yugi shook his head. "It's just, just everything."

Tristan's cinnamon eyes softened, "I know. Being an all-star's no cake walk," he chuckled. "I know I'd be rippin' my hair out if I had to sign autographs and talk to reporters every day."

"No, its not that," Yugi groaned, purple eyes peeking through his fingers. "I can't stand it."

"Can't stand what?"

"People not seeing me. I, I feel like they see somebody else, like they want me to be him." Him was said with so much contempt, Tristan squinted close to see if Yugi would start spitting acid from his mouth.

And this was where the meat of his attitude was coming from. Tristan pinched the bridge of his nose, and loosely exhaled, "Yug', this is getting tired man. I'll never get what's so bad about being the little brother of a super star. People loved Heba—"

"And that's the whole problem," Yugi spat, eyes licked with rage. "They loved him, Tristan? They still do. I can't go a single day without being asked what it was like being his brother, how often I got to watch him play or 'do you think you'll measure up?' I'm sick of it! It's always about him." Yugi stood and started pacing like a lion biding its time before the cage opened.

Tristan followed every step before shaking his head, "Dude, we must've went to a different game, because out there," Tristan thrust his thumb over his shoulder, indicating the still robustly loud crowd lingering around the stadium. "I heard them yelling Yugi Muto, not Heba Muto. It was about you—about all of us getting this win so we can hit the big leagues."

Yugi whirled around, scowling, "It was about all of us. But you wouldn't be able to tell when all they ever ask me is if I think I'll bring the title home like Heba. I know I'll be able too! I'm nothing like him. Why can't they see that?"

No, no Yugi wasn't anything like Heba. Tristan could see that in the way his best friend grew up before his eyes. Since Heba died, Yugi tried everything in his power to step out of Heba's shadow by all means of change. He smiled more where Heba rarely did. Yugi focused on teamwork and sportsmanship, making friends, accelerating in school. Heba kept to himself, never speaking to anyone or bothering to hang out with others. He just went to school, made his grades, went to work and then went home; never straying from routine. Where Heba had been tall 5'11 to 6'0, bulky in frame, with a gruff voice, Yugi wasn't. He'd grown from 5'0 to 5'6 and stopped there, he worked out as much as he could to gain enough lithe muscle so as not to come off as a starved child. It helped build his confidence, boost his endurance and sometimes, won him adorations of the opposite sex.

Now, if Tristan was into that sort of thing, and he sure as hell wasn't, he'd admit that Yugi was a good looking guy. His chest was sculpted with slim cords and ropes of muscle. His arms were strong and thick from days of swinging a bat and his legs were toned like a runner. He had the body of a baseball player. Yugi the like kind of guy woman dreamed about in Men's Vogue with a disposition as sweet as candy canes.

Tristan straddled the wooden bench and turned his head to the side, glaring half serious, half amused at Yugi, "Ya know, we don't exactly have it easy either, always being compared to you. It's always, where's Yugi, will Yugi play today, how will we fare without Yugi and blah, blah, blah. I tell ya man if we weren't best friends, I would've knocked ya out from sheer jealousy." he said, making Yugi halt his pacing, eyes drifting to the side.

"I'm sorry," Yugi murmured, glancing up. "I wasn't thinking. I never imagined—I don't encourage it."

"Yeah we know you don't," Tristan nodded, his soft grin spreading up his cheekbones. "You never showboat around or shove it in our faces how much the fans love you. You always try to make us feel important too." He tugged Yugi down in the center of his spread thighs. "But you gotta see that they see you, dude. No one's purposely comparing you to Heba. When you graduate, whose name is gonna be on the diploma? You," Tristan emphasized by pressing his finger into Yugi's shoulder. "And when you get recruited in the major leagues, you really think they're gonna give three shits about who your brother is? Hell no, they'll want Yugi Muto on their team."

Yugi's eyes grew wide, expressive as a lavender pool. Slowly, oh so slowly, his head lolled to the side and fell gently on Tristan's shoulder. Neither were ashamed of the close connection. "Thanks Tristan," Yugi warmly whispered. "You always know what to say."

"Yeah, I know." Tristan's palm came up to pat the center of Yugi's back. "So why the hell I gotta preach this same shit every Friday? I'm startin' to think you're fishing for compliments." He patted him again, noticing Yugi's flinch. Tristan frowned, "Ya good?"

"Cool, I'm fine."

"Yug'," Tristan wasn't convinced. He dipped his head backwards to get a look at Yugi's midsection and growled. "Again? When did this happen? Before the game or yesterday?" In the center dip of Yugi's back was a bruise as ugly as mold on bread. It was a wonder the shortstop could play at all with this injurt. It was the size of a disc, bubbling under the flesh in red, blue and black. "Damn, they did a number on you this time."

"I said I was fine. It wasn't even the same thing. I hurt my back at the shop unloading a shipment."

Tristan blinked, "That's the biggest crock of shit, I've ever heard."

The shortstop rolled his eyes and shoved away, "Totally ruin the mood, why don't 'cha? You're good at that too."

"Oh come on, don't I get points for effort?"

"You get a C for effort."

"Tea would say I always got it right. As a matter of fact, she told me I could lighten her mood anytime," Tristan's grin could impress the Grinch as he lecherously bounced his eyebrows. "Actually, me, her and the rest of the team were heading off to the bar to celebrate. You wanna join?"

"Can't, sorry. Grandpa needs help closing the game shop. I wanna make sure he gets to bed on time."

"Ok, what about afterwards? It shouldn't take that long, right? The gang's not gonna leave until nine thirty anyway."

"Maybe some other time, Tristan," Yugi said apologetically. "We'll do something tomorrow. I'm just not up to being around anymore crowds tonight."

"Yeah, I feel ya there man." Tristan re-flipped his towel over his shoulder and cupped Yugi's shoulder. "You wanna wait a sec until I'm done? I could walk ya home. You know it's bad out there."

Yugi patted his friend's hand, "I'm good Trist'. I'll call you when I get home."

"Make sure you do," Tristan's tone hardened cold as stone. "I mean it Yug', don't let me hear about another scuff without me in it. Cool?"

"You won't," Yugi eased away, secretly warmed to his core at his best friend's concern. It was nice and comforting having someone care about his welfare because they genuinely gave a damn. He offered a smile and a two fingered salute, "I promise. Expect my call as soon as I step through the front door. See ya!"

Tristan pivoted on his foot just as Yugi rounded the corner, "I mean it Yugi Muto! I'm givin' you till nine on the dot. No call, no dice, I'm comin'!"

He didn't get an answer back. Not that he'd expected one. Tristan ducked back inside his shower stall, shaking his head. Thirty minutes, that's all he was giving him. After that . . . well he just hoped there was an after that.


Yugi dressed down in a pull over grey hoodie, some jet black jeans and white Converse shoes. Leaving the arousing activities and back pats of the stadium wasn't nearly as hard as walking home. The difference in environment was as drastic as a new color. Here on the south end of Domino, hardly anyone ventured through. The better part of the city refused to acknowledge its existence, since it only tarnished Domino City's neat, visually perfect, fabricated name.

On the outside there, everything was cleaner, the air pure as spring water and the people, full of smiles and a handshakes.

Here on the inside, the roads were cracked and aged with pot holes. The night's dreary chill added more to the South Domino's skeletal area. Yugi gripped his backpack straps, and forged onward, eyes focused forward. The buildings were cracked, chipped and peeling. Crimson and Black graffiti designs, marking RES on every stretch of space available. Some reached as high up as the third story windows and others stretched as far the wideth of the building it was canvased on. The further Yugi walked, the more pronounced, colorized and artistically violent the initials became.

It marked the entrance into Red Eye Territory, this and three quarters of South Domino. It all belonged to them; those who wore their colors in pride. The graffiti served as advertisement and a warning to those who entered. The gang members were out there. A lot of them were, mostly foot soldiers. Yugi never made eye contact with a single one as he trucked home. They were becoming more visible to eye the closer to home he came. Some hung out drug houses and loitering near abandoned buildings and alleyways.

Kame's Game Shop was one of a few that didn't get turned into a 'Sling House' or drug house. It remained off radar, tucked in a tiny patch of wood about few meters from the main portion of this division. Yugi was glad for the most part. It meant him and his grandpa didn't have to wake up every other hour to gun shots or police sirens echoing in the distance.

He thought they were safe from that nonsense.

Or so he believed.

When Yugi came up to his street, the hovering mercury lantern wasn't on. The glass bulb was bust from the outside. His whole body flexed and his jaw tensed when he spotted three cars lined along the rocky dirty road. One was a 2007 Black Sedan nestled on chrome rims. The middle was a royal blue 2009 Crown Victoria sporting polished gold rims size 28'. The last was tucked to the side, a few years newer and more expensive: a 2011 dark crimson Chevy Tahoe perched on silver and chrome lipped rims.

Yugi recognized the tags RES4LFE immediately and picked up the pace, already snatching off his bag, flinging it to the side. The slick smack of grime and dirt clung to the bottom of his shoes. The front windows were broken as bad the light post. Worst, they were broken from the inside. Glass shards glittered under the porch light, thousands of them surrounding mixed in with the lamp used to break it. The only light in the place came from the bottom floor, a lone artificial beam dotting from the left. The dangerous aura filtered from the game shop like a nightmare. Yugi half wished he'd taken Tristan up on his offer, but shook the idea as fast as it came. It would've ended worst then it was going to tonight. Yugi looked around for his metal lead pipe, one he'd used the last time it got this unexpectedly crowded.

Yugi pressed his back against the door and checked the doorknob. It was unlocked. He twisted once and pushed forward, moving as the door fell open. The door evilly creaked, alerting the three gangsters inside. Yugi's eyes fell on his grandpa sitting in a chair, surrounded but thankfully unharmed.

"Damn kid, 'bout time ya showed up. I was losin' my damn mind stickin' around this dump," The first of the grunts said, lazily stalking to the door. He flicked his bright red hair to the side, to show his red contact lens.

Yugi straightened, fingers gripping the end of his pipe carefully.

The one approaching noticed the weapon and his hand went to the back of his jeans, "Ya plannin' on doin' something with that, son? 'Cause I doubt you really wanna go there."

"What are you doing here? We paid our protection fee yesterday!" Yugi snarled angrily, completely bypassing the question asked. He gave the shop a clean sweep, growing increasingly angry. Cards were scattered all over the floor, some with ridge prints and others ripped to pieces. The glass case beneath the register was bashed open and whatever was fragile ended up on the floor. "Was all this necessary?!"

"It sure was." The second one, a brown haired lanky fellow with brown eyes, stepped forward. "Turns out you forgot to pay taxes."

"Taxes? What the hell? Since when do you tact on taxes to protection fees?"

"Yugi."

Yugi's heart thumped when he heard the rough hiss of his grandfather's voice, fragile as a butterfly wing, erupt from the center of the mass. "Just give them the money. We only owe three hundred more and we'll be fine until next month."

Yugi gasped. "Three hundred?! We already paid you eight!" he snapped, outraged. "We can't afford to fork out money like that. What are we supposed to live off of?"

The brown haired gangster guffawed like a hyena, "Ain't our problem kid. If you want protection, ya gotta put up. Otherwise, ain't no telling who might fuck up this lil' shop of yours."

"Yugi please—"

"Grandpa, we can't!" Yugi stressed. He looked to the gangsters, each wearing a bored, amused and carefree expression in light of the situation. Yugi's grip fastened so tight around the metal weapon, the ridge grooves dug into his palm. "There's no way. I'm sorry. We can't afford to pay that and then have enough to live on until next month. Just add it to next month's fee."

Red hair shrugged, "No dice, kid. You're barely getting in the eight hundred we need. That'll put you at eleven hundred plus two more for not paying now."

"Fuck this," the silent one spoke at last, dark hair combed to the back and red contacts lit with annoyance. "I say we make change. The old man hasn't spat out a cent. Let's take it outta his ass!"

The red hoodlum chuckled, "Now that's the best idea I heard all night, C.J." He nodded once and the trio started toward the aged man.

"Wait, hold on," Yugi sprinted around, arms spread out out and feet firmly placed. "Get it out of me. I'm all for it and I won't fight back. I don't care."

The three paused, sharing glazed looks, then turned to face their new victim. "You're sayin' you'll take your granddad's whoopin'?"

"I did yesterday."

Blondie snickered, "Well damn. That's even better then C.J's idea."

"Yugi no, please don't," Grandpa Solomon grasped his grandson's pants legs, crinkling the material in his hands. "Boy, listen to me. I'm old and feeble. I don't have much else to live for. Let them do it to me."

Yugi pivoted down to one kneel, keeping a diligent eye on the trio as he spoke to his grandfather, "Grandpa I'll ok. They won't kill me. It'll last only three minutes. Just three minutes and we won't have to worry about paying the extra money."

"Yugi please, just—just get it out of my savings. Please, I can't let you do this to yourself. I can't risk your life. You're all I have."

"And it'll stay that way, Grandpa. I'm not going to leave you. I promise I'll come back in, right as rain. If you don't want to hear, go upstairs and sit in the living room."

"Yugi—"

The brown haired gang member yawned obnoxiously, stretching his arms overhead, "I don't give a damn who wants this ass whoopin'. Let's just get it done. Some folks got places to be, bitches to fuck."

"I know that's real," the blond said. "Let's go pretty boy. You got ten seconds and five are already gone." The three made their way out the door and waited.

Yugi helped his grandpa up to his feet, offering a soft assuring smile, "I promise," he whispered. Solomon hesitated, glancing nervously out the door and at his grandson. Yugi urged him up to his feet and watched his grandfather disappear into the dark.

Yugi took in a long, deep breath and released it through his nose, long and winded. Glancing out of his broken window, he saw the three assailants waiting for him outside, cracking their knuckles, faces as bloodthirsty as a pack of wolves.

It would only last three minutes. A minute for every hundred he couldn't pay. Only three minutes, was what he mentally told himself over and over again. Yugi shut the door and followed where they led him to the edge of the woods.

They surrounded him. He braced him.

Only three minutes. Only three minutes.


If there was anything J.R. hated, it was doing surveillance. His mission was a steady, easy survey of the deep sector of RES territory. There were twenty seven foot soldiers on the loose around the area, twelve of them were pushers, some were regular patrollers of the division and the rest were street runners. J.R. was in charge of making sure the money flowed without interruption. No one was allowed to go pass the boundary without checking in with him for inventory purposes. He knew every last one of them by sight, scent, habit and personality and they knew he wasn't one to be messed around with.

Especially when his attitude was running hotter the devil's nut-sack.

J.R. was dressed in his usual supervisor gear, a jet black jean vest with a sleeveless white tee, black jeans and low top Air Forces. It wasn't that he didn't like his job; being second in command came with its perks. It was just the idiots that reduced him to this unnecessary labor, he didn't like.

For instance, rumors were filtering through the network of several collectors collecting a little more than they were supposed to for the gang and keeping a healthy sum for themselves. J.R. would recognize the culprits as soon as he laid eyes on them, because they always fell out of routine. There were stooges missing in action. They were scheduled to be back by now with the loot from that Muto house. Workers who failed to meet an appointment were usually the crafty assholes to keep watch over.

Those are the kind of employees the O.G. didn't need. And those were the kind of assholes Joey "J.R." Wheeler didn't need to babysit. Workers only get three warnings. Just three. These idiots were creeping up on their third, so that meant they were going to need a lesson in manners. The lieutenants stationed at each sector had told them to lay off the stealing. The O.G. had sent word down the food chain that they better behave.

Well they never got a warning from J.R.

J.R. reached around his back for his M1911 pistol, turning it from safe to semi and made his way down the road. He re pulled his cell and pressed speed dial for the name O.G.

It rung once and clicked on, "You found them?" OG's voice rumbled quietly through the receiver.

"Yeah, they extortin' da' loot. I tracked 'em to that Muto kid's house." Joey spotted the three vehicles parted on the edge of the woods. "Ya might wanna send some grunts fer the cars. These assholes won't be needin' em."

"Already done, but don't kill them. I'm sending Thief out for the bodies."

Joey barked a short laugh, "You're sending that maniac out here? So does that mean I can't play nice?"

A moment later, a cold distilled laughter caressed the phone, "I never said that. By all means, enjoy yourself."

Oh, he planned too. Joey heard the familiar crackle of bone and a shout of pain. Since they were having fun—he cranked his gun—he planned to have fun too.


It hurt more than last time. Yugi didn't remember it lasting as long either.

Anticipation was probably what scared him more the impact of the first strike to his side and then the rest to follow. A shout was strangled in his throat when a stumbled to the ground by a punch to his temple. Yugi landed on his side, cradling his ribs and his skull the best he could from the swarming kicks and elbows and punches. No matter how he defended himself, there seemed to be an opening for a foot to get to his jaw, a fist to his thigh or a stomp to his stomach. Yugi shut his eyes, choking on strings of blood threatening to seep through his teeth.

He tried to keep quiet. The sudden shouts of pain seemed to feed into this frenzy. However, his silence triggered an even harsher beating. No one would come to save him from this. A swift kick slammed into his chest, and collarbone. Three minutes. That's all he had to survive for, was three minutes. But dear God how could he? The brute force of their attacks was snapping nearly everything in range.

A fist wound tight as a noose in his hair and lifted his blooded face. Yugi's left eye was swelled shut, the other involuntarily wincing. His body was on fire with agony, and there was so much fire running through his veins, though he dared not fight back. Even the slightest bit of retaliation would guarantee his would be grandfather harmed.

A large foot came forward and cut across his open face, slicing his lip and connecting with the bridge of his nose. Yugi's head rung, eyes knocked out of focus. They would wait a few seconds, then began again, so cruelly giving Yugi false hope that it was over, only to restart again. Yugi clung to his last bit of insanity when it seemed they'd likely kill him before the three minutes were up.

He was close to believing they were doing another false pause when soon no more attacks came. The ringing his ears became overwhelming sharp without warning and his face was dropped to the ground. Yugi didn't dare lift his head or dare think it was over. He waited, prayed, silently wishing for reprieve.

He chanced turning his head to the side and saw a pair of dark shoes, attached to a pair of lithe, long legs.

"Now," the stranger's New York accent pierced the silence like his rapid three gunshots. Horrified screams trailed behind each shot. "Shut up, I said shut up, I barely grazed ya!" The shoes stepped forward. Yugi saw them aiming straight for the flopping figures on the ground. When a warning shot left the gun muzzle, all fell quiet. And Yugi's heart rate spiked. "Before I start lightin' up this whole block, I'm gonna ask the three of you's, one damn time. What the fuck is goin' on?"