Hello everyone. Kika again, although I'm quite late considering this chapter got released already. [/shot]
Anyhow, just wanted to poke in and say I hope I'm not killing ya guys with my inability to keep schedule.
Welp, with that aside, for those who haven't read this chapter yet, I hope you enjoy!
If you like it, feel free to like/review/anything you wish really. C: Makes me feel better knowing I do well!
Day 4 - ? ? ?
"Zig Kraft, you are dodging the question! I won't stop asking until you give me a proper answer: how is Jack able to inflict real damage on people during his duels?" Trudge slammed the table separating him from Zig. No matter what approach he took, Jack's accomplice wouldn't budge. As Zig moved into town recently, there wasn't anything he could use as reference to figure out why or how Zig decided to get involved. He was interrogating a brick wall.
"I'm dodging the question because I can't answer what I don't know! I've never experienced a duel where any damage you inflict physically harms your opponent, so what do you expect me to tell you?" Zig trusted his recent friend. He wouldn't weave an accusing story against Jack to save his hide. "The extent of what I know is whatever rumors are saying. People are probably calling me Jack's accomplice because I visited him at Cafe la Geen yesterday."
Ah, there was some actual information out of the sassy punk. "Are you aware that Sector Security attempted to arrest Jack at the cafe? I don't remember seeing you there; where were you?"
Zig calmed himself, content Trudge stopped murdering his eardrums by demanding he know a criminal's inner workings. "I wasn't there for long. I ordered a meal, talked to Jack for a few minutes, and then I left. Some sirens went off ten minutes after, which I'm assuming was you and your team. From there, I stayed in my apartment, slept, and then you rudely woke me up." His story consisted of a few truths to avoid having to compose a story on the spot. Completely lying wasn't his forte anyway.
Ignoring the last part, Zig's alibi lacked any holes to produce meaningful contradictions. Asking him where Jack fled, assuming Zig's story wasn't false, wouldn't be helpful either. Until he found evidence suggesting Zig's further involvement, he had no reason to keep the Marginal Duelist here any longer.
"Suspicions on you are cleared. Feel free to explore the building or leave, doesn't matter to me." Trudge sat up and pushed his seat in, unlocking the door to allow Zig his long-awaited freedom. "Stay out of trouble, alright? Fourth day here and you've already been brought in for questioning; I hope this doesn't become a regular routine, Zig. You don't seem the type for crime if we're not including your attitude."
Zig thanked Trudge for not breaking any of his bones and made a beeline straight for the exit. For a future savior of New Domino, he wasn't off to a flying start. He wondered if Vizor kept an eye on him and saw this predicament in its entirety. If their operations were secret, this could be a stain against his credibility or a badge for his loyalty. The latter sounded pleasant.
Day 4 – Morning
Public Security Bureau Building
(Ninety minutes after Zig's arrest)
This morning started out on a bad note: woken up way earlier than intended, arrested due to some stupid rumors, and treated like a thug for about an hour before his interrogator couldn't scavenge another reason to hold him there. As a silver lining, it wouldn't happen again so long as nobody vividly described him and Jack fleeing Cafe la Geen to his apartment.
Zig yawned, exhausted by his lack of over-abundant sleep. As he already embraced the outside world, he'd deal with his tired state and move along to repair what started as a horrible day. That begged the question: what to do? Besides his forced duel against Vizor and his daily trips to Cafe la Geen-a tradition he'd skip for the day as to not earn the place a worse reputation-his time-wasting consisted on getting lost, sleeping, and losing duels.
No one remotely smart would duel a suspected criminal, and it'd be a day or so before rumors about him died he speculated, so no dice. His single option was visit Zora's to see if Jack made it home alright and avoided Sector Security unlike himself. If she thought the rumors untrue, then she'd treat him better guaranteed.
Checking the map he bought while babysitting Jack in his apartment, Zora's shop was a short trip northeast from the Security building. His apartment lay a bit farther up from there to put things into proportion, although his apartment complex lived in the shadow of New Domino City's Tops area, cementing it as a great hiding place. No one ever thought to check underneath a rich man's shadow.
Zig kept a comfortable pace as he studied the city and avoided wandering eyes. The odd person or two called him by his derogatory nickname "Marginal Duelist" and challenged him to a duel, both ending in wins for him. His average was slowly becoming less insulting and more a tribute to his long struggle. At an average of twenty wins and fifty-five loses, the gap wouldn't be much of a gap for long.
Spotting Zora's shop in the corner of peripheral vision, Zig broke into a sprint to maybe save him from missing Yusei by a couple seconds or less. Not much time passed from when he was forcibly woken up, so odds were Yusei hadn't left for the day to do whatever daily routine he followed. If only his routine were similar to Jack's, tracking him wouldn't be a game of hit-and-miss.
"Heeey, Zig! Wait up!" Oh god damn it. Zig skidded to a halt, stopped by a group of four kids. "Why are you in such a rush? Forget breakfast?"
No doubt, from the tone to the unmatchable hair color, it had to be the twins he met at the WTGP grand opening, Leo and Luna. Two of their friends, one for each, weren't faced he recalled, meaning his reputation wouldn't suffer at the hands of stories involving his various losses. "Sort of, but that's not why I was in such a rush. I got some directions to a store I wanted to visit, so it'd be better if I left early to find it and have time to get home if I spent my time getting lost."
Luna's eyes sparkled, the older sibling lightly shoving her brother aside to take the center stage. "That's right, you're new to the city, Zig! Since we were on our way to the Shopping District too, we'll give you a tour! Do you mind, Leo?"
Leo couldn't contain his excitement as his form shook worse than an earthquake. His senses were telling him Zig was this unbeatable duelist who always pulled through in a pinch. They weren't wrong to this day, so he wouldn't let this opportunity pass! "Of course not! It'll be fun: you learn some stuff, we get our shopping done, and then we all have dinner at our house! C'mon Zig, this chance won't come twice!"
"Wha-Hey, I haven't agreed to anything yet!" Leo, eerily similar to his encounter with Vizor, held Zig's arm in a death grip, leading him away to crush his plans for the day. Was it wrong for him to seek out the first friend he made? Fate deemed it so.
Day 4 – Afternoon
New Domino's Shopping District sheltered a majority of the city's population during the day. Kids, adults, couples, groups, everything imaginable wandered through the busy walkways carrying bags of various sizes and contents. Duelists were crowding around the card shop, the one place Zig should visit and thus far abused to beyond constructing his first deck.
Zig's first deck was a product of begging and limited sympathy. As the currency from his country wasn't accepted here, he had no possible way to buy himself a few card packs to construct a makeshift deck. Ditching his pride, he knelt down and swore he'd do anything the shopkeeper demanded so long as he could spare him enough packs for a standard deck.
At the price of having an "interest loan" as he put it, the man gave him whatever packs were left from that evening's sales. A solid half the packs were Beast-Types as they weren't "in season" at the moment, and the others were mismatch spells, traps, and monsters that could be useful in any deck. While not uniform in the least, Zig's deck fit its user's nickname and lifestyle: it wasn't the strongest deck out there, but it could hold out against tough opponents.
"Zig, are you falling asleep?" Leo waved his hand in front of Zig's face, clueless as to why he kept staring blankly at the ground. It took the oldest group member a minute to realize he completely spaced out, earning a few laughs from the kids. "Heh, you're just like Yusei. When he's thinking real hard, he zones out too."
"Just like Yusei", was he? He'd take that as a compliment. Leo talked about Yusei like they were siblings, a position he wouldn't mind filling if the elusive Duel Champion took leave for the day. Luna shared this fondness, although she'd blush a lot when Yusei and another girl were in the same sentence.
"Leo, we're going to visit the toy store really fast. If you want, why don't you and Zig go to the ice cream place? We'll catch up!" Luna pointed to a store behind their posse, the windows decorated with plushies and figures alike. Any kid would want to at least peek inside when passing it by. Luna couldn't apply the same logic for their resident adult.
Zig, not much concerned to buy things for himself, thought about buying a few gifts for his friends. In his plane of thinking, if he got them stuff kids would like, if they disliked the gift it'd find a new owner who'd eventually appreciate it. The thought earned him points for effort, and someone'd be happy at the end of the day. No downside in sight.
"Don't leave me behind! I've been saving up DP for a while, so if anybody doesn't have enough for something, I'll pitch in." Leo and Luna had to be getting allowances at their age still; if they lacked a few hundred DPs, he saved a majority of his earnings for a rainy day. What use were they if they forever lined his pocket?
Leo rushed straight past everybody to get first dibs on his findings, followed by Micheal, Edith, Luna, and lastly Zig. The Marginal Duelist scanned the shelves near the store's front to find something that'd be slightly practical to give to maybe Yusei or Jack. His search stopped at a plush resembling the Tuner monster Shiba-Warrior Taro. As a guy, he shouldn't find dolls adorable, but he couldn't help himself. Its beady little eyes made it irresistible.
Shedding the regular guy rules this once, Zig grabbed the fluffy Shiba Warrior and ventured deeper into the shop to see anything else not too pricey that he'd be willing to actually give to someone as he initially told himself to do. Leo and Micheal were climbing onto each other's shoulders to reach the almost untouched upper shelves, the former complaining the latter kept stepping on his fingers. "Hurry, would ya? I can't be your stool all day!"
Micheal scoffed, disregarding the threat to swipe whatever his stubby arms reached, throwing Leo off-balance. Down they fell not a second later, the mess they made cushioning the fall. Both kids couldn't resist laughing at the result of their teamwork. Zig left them alone; they were having fun by themselves.
In the opposite corner, Luna and Edith were holding towers of stuffed animals. From what the teen could make out, the two were searching for the cutest and softest animal that didn't require Leo and Micheal's stunt to reach. "I think Kuribon's the cutest, but Watapon's definitely the winner for the softest... I don't know Edith, they're all really cute." Luna refused to be beaten and switched to the next row of shelves.
"Maybe we should ask Zig to help you buy both! He said he'd pay for whatever we couldn't afford, right?" Edith nudged Luna several times to get her point across. "I have enough to buy myself one, so I'm set. Just ask him Luna, the worst he can do is say no!"
Zig heard his name and thought to surprise the girls by keeping the noise to a minimum as he stealthily settled down right next to them. Neither girl noticed him; the matching peaks of Mt. Stuffed Animals obstructed their vision. He piped in when the moment felt right, "She's right, Luna. You can consider this a thank you for showing me around the shopping district."
Luna stumbled and dropped her collection to spot none other than the man of the hour. "Zig! You scared me!" She swiftly set all the plushies on the floor besides Watapon and Kuribon back on the shelves. The remaining two were snuggled against her. "I can buy one of these with my allowance, but are you sure you want to spend your money? I have a lot of stuffed animals at home already."
"Yeah, I insist. I'm buying stuff for myself and I have a feeling Leo's going to beg me to pitch in for a number of figures. It wouldn't be fair if I left you out, Luna." Zig smiled faintly, patting the young lady's head as he got back on his footing. "I'll be at the counter. If you're sure you about taking Kuribon and Watapon home, meet me there."
And off he went, disappearing past the farthest shelves to buy his stuff and, as he predicted, help Leo finish his collection of Elemental Hero figurines. Luna nuzzled her face into Kuribon, doing her best to hide the growing blush on her face. "We shouldn't keep them waiting. Let's go, Edith." Luna surprised Edith as she jetted at top speed. They weren't in a rush.
Day 4 – Late Afternoon
Ice Cream Shop
Dead right from the toy store was the ice cream shop Luna mentioned before their adventure got side-tracked. As the larger tables were taken or dirty, the group split up: Zig, Luna, and Edit at one table, Leo and Micheal at a table next to theirs. At first they agreed to girls and boys only tables, though this plan changed last minute as Luna joined Zig at the table he chose.
Leo and Micheal wolfed down scoops of chocolate ice cream, spurring a competition where the loser had to buy the winner another cone. Zig positioned his seat so he'd be able to see them through Luna and Edith's chairs to make sure neither contender cheated. Luna and Edith were more civilized and leisurely ate their orders of vanilla and mint in that order. Zig finished his before anyone else as he bought a cone of Eskimo ice cream-he asked the counter lady for the craziest flavor available, and his order tasted great.
"Zig, have you found a partner for the WTGP yet? It isn't for a while now, but everyone around town's already seeking out partners to prepare themselves beforehand." Luna broke the silence as she inquired the drifting-off duelist.
"Not yet. Jack and this woman named Sherry both asked me at the party, so I may partner with them if they haven't found someone already. Sherry's my best bet as I'm sure Jack's going to ask Yusei to be his partner." Two professionals who were close friends-why wouldn't they partner up for a huge tournament? He'd ask Vizor too if Sherry never showed herself.
"Oh-I thought you'd have a partner since you're a great duelist." Luna complimented Zig out of the blue, a gesture he wish he'd be exposed to more often. "But if you're still not sure, maybe we can-"
"HA! I won!" Leo's hands struck the table hard enough to hush the entire shop. Micheal recognized his loss and hung his head. It still hung as he left his table to buy and hand over the victor's prize "I told you I'd win! Maybe next time you can practice so I'll have to buy you the ice cream next time."
As Leo began eating all over again, whatever heads he caught the attention of lost interest and resumed their previous activities. Zig chuckled at the display, congratulating Leo on the win by raising his spoon and tapping the side of his victory cup. Micheal pretended to fade out of reality for the rest of the evening in response to Leo's public triumph.
"Your brother's rather excitable. I can't imagine how you stay sane living with him, Luna." Zig revived their previous conversation by adding a pinch of lightheartedness.
"You get used to it. He's not that bad so long as you don't flatter him too much." Luna finished the last of her ice cream to notice the setting sun behind Zig. His coat and hat blended in with the sun's reddish rays. "Zig, is your favorite color red if you don't mind me asking?"
Zig did his best to hold back a laugh; he thought everyone'd figure this out within ten seconds of meeting him. "You guessed it. Bright and warm like fire, red represents strength and passion where I come from. I like to think I haven't lost my connection to both of those." In the city where Zig lived previously, people treated battles like a sport. You learned how to communicate by clashing swords or whatever weapon you so chose. The Ranker-turned-temporary-Duelist mastered five different types to add the element of surprise in battle.
Weapons here were warning signs and tickets to be arrested by the attitudes of the people and the tranquil environment besides duelists shouting during their duels. All of his equipment stationed themselves in Zig's closet except Galgano-a custom Magnum Revolver made by the master gunsmith Barbaro. Both him and his son, Galgano, departed a few months ago, the latter passing its ownership to him. If he encountered the person posing as Jack, a few .500 caliber bullets of stopping power could stop him if a duel wasn't enough…. Not to imply he intended to kill or anything. No sir.
"Erm... How about you, Luna? Let's say a guy gets you flowers; what color would you hope they'd be?" Zig warded off his thoughts by directing his attention back to Luna. Thank the heavens mind-reading wasn't invented yet; if Trudge or any of Sector Security knew how vile his thoughts could get... Bad news.
Luna's face flushed, Edith smirking as her friend couldn't find words-she spoke fragments, yet neither of the other table occupants found any connecting pieces. Kuribon shielded her face as the elder twin kept psyching herself up to relax and name a color. All he asked for was a color. Just a color.
"I-If I were to get flowers from someone, I think I'd..." Luna breathed in deeply, releasing built-up tension as her heart slowed itself to a normal speed. "...I'd like for them to be pink. Or green. Both would be very pretty colors for flowers. You never really see them either." All the time you saw people handing each other red Roses or yellow Mums, though when was the last time you saw a man hand a girl real pink or green flowers? Luna never saw such a thing.
Zig appeared satisfied, going so far as to retrieve a notepad and scribble something down. He wrote in cursive without over-exaggerating letters, but they were quite sloppy thanks to him rushing. She'd never fully understand her new friend, would she?
"My old friend Iris loved those colors too. She always decorated her office with the most over-the-top flowers you'd never see anywhere else unless you grew flowers yourself." The male disregarded his plans for secrecy as he rambled on about one of his friend from home. "She trained to be a nurse since a day doesn't go by when someone isn't injured in Ghandoar. I can't imagine what she's facing now... I hope they haven't done anything drastic for the scene I made."
Edith and Luna's faces made him realize how cryptic he sounded, mentioning his friend's current state at the hands of a person he never met. Even Leo and Micheal were turned around to face him, hopelessly lost as to why the girls were so shocked. Four sets of eyes begged him to explain himself; nobody dropped a bomb like that and left people hanging.
Mentioning the letter was out of the question. If he spread someone was blackmailing him to win the WTGP at all costs, no doubt a chain reaction could start and get people unrelated involved. If such a chain reaction started, his friends would pay the price in blood, ultimate victory or utter defeat. Without a clue where the mastermind stationed his captives, the risk wasn't worth it.
...I think I have a way to fix this! Zig said Iris worked as a nurse in his ramblings... By extension it meant she had a boss, so...! "Hey, even adults can be afraid of shots you know! Truth is I'm not the biggest fan of them, and I created a big scene when he told me I wasn't up to date on my vaccinations. Iris helped me calm down at the time, though her boss wasn't too pleased her "rowdy friend" caused such a ruckus."
Silence ensued. For an entire minute, nobody said a word as they processed Zig's story. Leo broke the ice as he keeled over laughing, clutching his stomach as he rolled across the floor. "You're scared of the doctor, Zig? That's funny! Even I'm not scared of shots anymore!" Everyone else joined in to giggle and snort at his partially-fabricated fear of the doctor, although Leo stopped a few times to add insult to injury. "I thought adults weren't supposed to be scared of anything! You're so weird, Zig!"
Weird was acceptable than a number of choice words people called him during his stay in New Domino. The Marginal Duelist meant two things in context-the more offensive one was more commonplace thanks to his souring reputation at the hands of his various losses and public arrest this morning. Ah well, he'd show them someday.
Day 4 - Evening
Ice Cream Parlor
As the laughing fest came to a close, Micheal pointed outside to the orange-tinted sky. "Oh shoot! Mom's gonna kill me if I don't get home soon! Sorry guys, I gotta go!"
Edith too realized her curfew approached at a frightening rate, gathering her things and throwing away the garbage from her frozen desert. "Yeah, me too! See you guys later! Hope we can hang out like this again!"
The group reduced itself to three, Leo and Luna not all alarmed how much time passed or how their friends took off to avoid a harsh grounding. Strange, wouldn't their parents worry the same way? "Shouldn't you two be heading home? I can't imagine your parents are going to let you stay out after dark."
Leo flicked his wrist, huffing at the mention of their parents. "Our parents are always on business trips. They wouldn't notice if we stayed out until midnight or we left for weeks and lived with Yusei. Sometimes the lady next door takes care of us, but me and Luna mostly take care of ourselves."
Wow, that went south in seconds. "Sorry, I didn't mean to overstep my bounds..." He typically hit soft spots on accident. Apologies only got him so far; Zig knew this and rubbed the back of his neck as a nervous reflex. How was he supposed to rebound from this? "If you want, I can walk you two home. My apartment's in its special little corner and-"
A lightbulb flashed over Leo's head, the spastic child hatching a brilliant idea. "Hey, you can stay over with us! We live in this huge house in the Tops. You won't feel cramped at all!" He grabbed the back of Zig's coat, tugging at it so hard it nearly caused its owner to topple over. "C'mon, please? We haven't had anyone stay since we first met Yusei, and that's a long time ago! Don't you want him to stay too, Luna?"
Luna jolted as her brother asked for reinforcements in convincing Zig to sleep over. She'd like for the teen to stay, sure, but browbeating him seemed wrong. "Leo, if you're going to ask Zig to stay, at least do so while letting him have a chance to say no!" She scolded as her mood shifted to, as a shocker, aide Leo in his conquest. "But it'd be nice to have someone stay over. It gets a bit lonely with only Leo and me at home."
With both the twins begging him to stay, dare he decline? His apartment felt a bit stuffy compared to his old home in Ghandoar, so a bigger home may help him readjust to a smaller place bit by bit. That, and he wondered what sort of places rich people lived in New Domino. The chance may not come twice.
"Alright, you win. I'll stay for tonight. Don't be surprised if I sleep the entire morning." Heaven knows why he bothered to mention his sleeping habit. Zig hardly woke up by his own free will. People never tolerated his love for sleeping in...
Day 4 – Night
Leo and Luna's Penthouse
Leo and Luna guided Zig by each taking one of his hands hostage and forcing him to hunch his back so his heels never dragged and he wasn't sliding across the road or sidewalk on his back. Almost notably the route to their house had few differences to the one that he mapped out as a way home. Odd coincidence.
But that didn't matter. What mattered was how freaking ginormous Leo and Luna's house measured out to be-both inside and out! Their parents had to be rolling in cash by the millions to afford a place like this in direct view of the entire city! Their estate came equipped with a deck-like area surrounding an equally oversized pool and palm trees to add a bit of life to the venue.
"Heh, told you! You didn't believe me, did ya Zig?" Leo poked at Zig's stomach, smiling in victory.
Zig did believe their home had to be huge to be considered a house for rich people. He never visited such a place and couldn't begin to expect a house fit for twenty people or more; no wonder the two felt a shred of loneliness living by themselves here! The sheer amount of space baffled him.
Not wishing to stand outside all night, the Ranker walked inside and found the nearest couch to nestle on and survey the area. There were stairs leading to an upper level in the house-best guess Leo and Luna's bedrooms were up there. The house essentials like the kitchen and such were downstairs in separate sections, the couch he found marking the middle of the room. His stuff moved itself to the table right next to the couch, leaving his deck to be nabbed by ever-curious Leo.
"This is your deck, Zig?" Leo flipped through the entire thing, his expression changing as he saw card after card. "Hmm... It's really weird, but I bet that's the point, right? Nobody can expect what card you'll play next!" That marked one way to describe his mismatch deck. "Hey Luna, you wanna talk to his deck's Duel Spirits?"
"Duel Spirits?" Zig absently repeated the term.
Leo handed over Zig's deck to Luna as she explained the basics. "Every Duel Monster has a spirit. Some are really nice, some are actually kinda mean. But no matter what they're like, they'll always talk about their owner truthfully. That's how we figured out Yusei was a good person when we found him outside our house in an alleyway."
The concept of cards having secret spirits made for a cool topic in a novel or something, but in relation to himself? Zig worried his monsters may spill his secrets about the mystery letter or his arrest due to helping Jack escape Sector Security. Either that or they'd call him a horrible duelist.
Luna placed her hand on top of Zig's deck, diving into a state of unbreakable concentration. Zig's spirits were overall enthusiastic and friendly, eagerly sharing their opinion on their panicking duelist. When she got a word from all of them, the deck returned to the table in the proper order.
"Your Duel Spirits said you're a very kind person who hates to give up in the face of any threat. A few confessed you are kind of new to dueling in general, but they recognize you're trying hard to improve and they can respect that..." Huh. Zig expected harsher opinions from his monsters. "...But at the same time, all of them insisted you were very lonely and sad because you lost all your friends, so you have a hard time talking to others. Is that true, Zig...?"
And there came the question he dreaded. Anything relating to his old friends touched a sensitive area in his heart. This area grew dark when learned all of them were taken hostage just because they befriended him; he brought nothing but trouble no matter where he stayed. "...Yeah. It's a long story, but we'll leave it as I'm here in New Domino City because of them." Zig tipped his hat down to hide the water building in his eyes. "Sorry, I'd rather not talk about it. Can you two keep it a secret, please?"
The twins huddled together to discuss Zig's request. Both of them initially thought about telling Yusei as he always found a way to cure people of their problems, but Zig trusted them to keep this a secret. In the off-chance Yusei couldn't help him get better, the risk of upsetting him further measured high... "Okay, we'll keep it a secret." Both said in unison.
Zig removed his hat and smiled as a thank you, the water in his eyes leaving during their discussion. "Thanks you two. I think we all need a good night's sleep, yes? I'm tired from all the excitement I had this morning..."
"Okay, goodnight Zig! Better not run away!" Leo called as he rushed up the stairs far faster than Luna. His sister took her time walking up the stairs, saying her own goodnight as she snuggled up in her bedroom a room away from Leo's.
Before he too drifted off, Zig picked up his deck and stared the bottom card, Des Koala, in the face. "Next time you guys confess my private matters, I'm throwing you into the sun." He set his deck back down and relaxed, his thoughts imagining a group of shaking Duel Spirits...he assumed he imagined it at least.