northwind_gale: (Default)
Gale ([personal profile] northwind_gale) wrote2017-07-09 07:39 pm

[FIC] Black & Blue - Chapter 98

Series: Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's
Rating: PG or something like that
Warnings: when you pick up a fic after not writing for it for like over a year and you stare at your writing skills with a mix of "god i'm rusty" and "what the fresh hell happened to my writing style" like what
also this will probably be put on AO3 once i get it proofread y'know


Chapter 97
 


Even with the gratuitous use of bones to help him drag his luggage up to the Tops, Kiryu distantly found himself thanking everything for the existence of elevators. In that state of mind, it was simple to do nothing else but mechanically unpack everything in his room and collapse onto the bed in dreamless sleep.

When he woke up, it was mid-afternoon. Damned jet lag. He had a moment of panic on finding out that he’d overslept, before remembering that Bruno had already agreed before the trip to get the kids ready for school for today as well. Bruno had even thoughtfully decided to take Pone with him to the garage, lest the dog’s barking wake him up. Thank goodness. With that knowledge in mind, it was surprisingly easy to fall into a lazy sort of mood, a quiet languor that carried him through the apartment as he slowly shook off the stresses of travel. He sat on one of the couches facing the large screen doors and marveled at the view, musing idly on the fact that despite being in the tallest building of the bustling ritzy center of one of the largest cities in Japan, it was possible to still feel very much alone. After all that had happened in such a short time, this train of thought was actually rather calming. At least he had a nice place to be alone with his own thoughts.

Soon enough, however, he grew restless doing nothing, and his thoughts turned to what had become daily routine once his position as caretaker had been cemented. According to the clock, the kids would likely be out from school soon enough, so that left him enough time to look over the home and check for anything that might have been left undone. Other than West neglecting to clean his side of the bedroom (again) and Rua leaving his duel board maintenance supplies out (again), the home was practically spotless, and the only thing left for Kiryu to do was to go over a week’s worth of unopened mail, helpfully left out and sorted on one of the counters. Granted, given that Kiryu and the kids didn’t do much in the way of paper correspondence, there wasn’t really anything to go over than the obligatory billing statements…and a business-like standard envelope addressed to him from an unfamiliar address. Huh.

Opening it cautiously (with a bony appendage, held a goodly distance away from him with some more bones-never let it be said that Kiryu ever fully gave up the paranoia that had marked him so deeply) led him to discover that it contained a few pages of folded paper, lined front and back with such and such words and official-sounding jargon that it took all his weeks and weeks of experience within the hells of government-sanctioned red tape to make any sense of it. The detachable portion at the end of it all, however, was easily understood. A little rectangular slip of paper, signed with his name, and bearing a sum with a decent amount of zeroes: a check. The letter: a congratulations for being hired by so-and-so caretaking agency, on the behalf of Mr. and Ms. First Name Last Name, his first assignment being the care of their twin children Rua and Ruka. The rest of it was a long spiel detailing the code of conduct and details of the job-which he’d already been following long before actually being hired, before finishing off with the presentation of his first paycheck. Huh. On the week he wasn’t even there to perform the job he was presumably hired for, at that!

His first paycheck, really? He couldn’t help but reflect on distant memories at that thought-a time when a regular paycheck was nothing but a dream to be dashed like all the rest. Everyone in Satellite who didn’t work in the factories-hell, even those who did-had indulged in that idle fantasy. A regular, sustainable paycheck, just what would they buy with it! The answers ranged anywhere from the simple toy or pack of cards, to the dreams of a proper house or apartment, to the snarky request of more booze (“hey, bartender, fill ‘em up!”). While Kiryu would have liked to say he focused more on bigger ideas back then, it was humbling to remember childish memories that proved otherwise. Haah…

Idly drumming his fingers on the envelope for a few moments brought him to thinking over his current situation, and he couldn’t help but laugh. His living and food expenses were completely covered by default of living with the twins. The previous under-the-table payments he’d been getting from the parents had been enough to purchase a decent wardrobe for himself, Nico and West, and other than the occasional purchase of a new card pack for West or some new accessory or other for Nico, he hadn’t had opportunity or desire to spend money on anything else. His first paycheck in his entire life, and he had nothing he needed or wanted to spend it on. How quaint!

Sitting back down at the table, he resumed sorting through the mail, somewhat amused at the mundane turn his thoughts had taken. A few years ago, he would have scorned at such a future, but here and now he found himself relishing it. The horrors of the past were over, and a secure future was ahead. A bright future…what a strange, intoxicating thought. What to do…? Well, maybe…he hadn’t had opportunity to do so before, but with his official paperwork having been established and his first paycheck coming in, maybe now would be a good time to set up some kind of account? If he had the luxury to now save up for later, he should take the opportunity: he couldn’t expect to be living on the twins’ charity forever, after all. They’d grow up, and so would Nico and West, and he had to be ready for that, and…

(If Kiryu had taken the time to think about it, maybe he would have amused himself by how happily he was planning out for the futures of the kids he’d taken under his wing; so similarly to how he’d taken and shaped three young boys out of the dregs of Satellite a few years ago, set their sights on bigger and greater things. How genuine it was now, instead of the self-serving conquest it was before. How starkly different it was, instead of a laser focus on a specific goal and forming an ideal based on that, it was the reverse, setting short goals in pursuit of an ideal. What a turn of thoughts!)

Finishing sorting through the mail, he found a note from Bruno saying that he’d invited the twins to come to the garage after school rather than come straight home, just in case Kiryu still needed to get things in order. Thoughtful of him…Kiryu wondered if maybe a good use of the paycheck would be to at least get Bruno some kind of compensation. The guy would have obviously lost some income for his and Crow’s garage, considering taking care of the kids cut into how many appointments he could have taken, and he’d clearly done at least a decent job of keeping things straight in the apartment. Of course, Bruno probably wouldn’t take the charity, and getting him to accept something would probably be a hassle, but it was the thought that counted, right? He’d have to pop down by the garage later anyway, to pick up the kids and Pone, so he had ample opportunity to at least present the idea, and to see how everyone was settling in the garage now that-
Kiryu stiffened, the note falling from his hand and gently dropping to the table. He’d never had the chance to tell the kids and Bruno that Yuusei was staying at the garage now. He’d neglected to tell the spiritually sensitive Signers that an Earthbound God was now living in the garage.

Shit.
0-0-0-0-0
Truth be told, Yuusei had always wanted a garage space like the one Crow had. It wasn’t large or roomy by any means, and scorch marks from explosions marred the ceilings and walls where it was too high to reach, and the garage itself was a tad underground, a bit musty, but Yuusei liked it all the same. It had the sense of being lived in, filled with the scent of oil and grease and always had some sort of human presence in it, whether it was Crow or Bruno being hard at work, the kids or Jack and Carly coming to visit, the occasional customer (which had apparently become a lot more than “occasional” after one of Carly’s streams, or so Crow had remarked off-handedly), or even Zora working at her own clock shop duties upstairs. It was a home, a place for people to return to. While Martha’s house would always be his beloved childhood home, and Team Satisfaction’s base was always a welcome place to return, a dedicated workspace like this spoke of someone who had the time and means to devote to themselves to their craft, and Crow had certainly carved out his own niche in Neo Domino City with this room.

Despite this, Yuusei didn’t have it in him to be jealous, and instead enjoyed himself immensely with some gadget or another, especially after Crow had promised to bring him a laptop or something to fix up the next time he went junkyard digging. With a third computer, Yuusei could help contribute to their programming endeavors as they worked to upgrade their D-Wheels (and what fine D-Wheels they were!) for the WRGP without constantly interrupting their own programming work to interject with his own observations.

(Crow had offered to fix up the laptop as well, but Yuusei decidedly expressed his own preference to spend time fixing it up himself. Yuusei wasn’t Yuusei without some project to engage him, after all.)

Even with all the excitement of poring over Crow’s garage and getting his fingers in all of Crow’s projects and schematics (oi, Yuusei!), the spirit found himself feeling rather hungry. It was rather funny-when he was alive, he’d have gone full days without sleep or food when engrossed in some project or other, but now that he was dead and keenly aware of his own spiritual weakness, he was almost actually eating like the average person. Or it might have been because Crow kept nudging him to eat and take a break every now and then. Could have been either, really.

Crow had idly mentioned that Yuusei was free to help himself to anything that wasn’t Zora’s (he just had to make sure that the elderly landlady herself didn’t actually spot him spiriting anything away), and it didn’t take long for Yuusei to find a box of cup ramen stashed away in a corner. Red…Daemon’s…Noodle? He visibly made a face reading that, since when was Jack’s dragon a popular brand name? Weird. Still, cup ramen was cup ramen, and the spices put into it admittedly did smell rather good when Yuusei put hot water into them to cook. It didn’t take long for the noodles to finish and for Yuusei to find himself seated comfortably on the couch in the garage, holding child size for the time being while opening up the cup of noodles and taking a mouthful-

Sfff-!

Ah…he’d eaten too early. The noodles were still piping hot, and as he found his eyes watering he couldn’t help but remember a scene oddly familiar to this. Where the soup was in a chipped bowl rather than a Styrofoam cup, thin and watery compared to the rich broth but hot and delicious all the same, and Crow looking at him with a concerned look, the same he’d give to any of his own children. How different these times were! How bright the future seemed now! How nice it was, to look up at Crow with watering eyes and truthfully say that the only thing wrong was that he’d accidentally burned his tongue, that nothing heavier hung over his shoulders than the oversized cloak that covered them!

“Hooooooiiiii! Crow!”

“Crow! Welcome back!”

He’d nearly emptied the cup when a small group of schoolchildren came in, giggling over something or other that had probably happened either in school or on the way here. He settled into a corner of the sofa, preparing to be ignored by the small group like he had been by all the other customers that had come through. Maybe if he ate slowly enough they’d just ignore the cup sitting there and just assume it was discarded?

“Eh? He’s not here?”

“He and Bruno must have stepped out for a job or something…should we really be here, Rua?”

“Mah, it’s fine, Ruka! The door was open, wasn’t it? They musta just gone out or something, and besides, it’s not like we’re gonna do anything!”

“I don’t know…between Rua and West, we might have a reason to worry…”

“Ah, big sis! That’s so mean!”

Yuusei stared at the children, interest piqued. Those names sounded familiar…didn’t Kiryu mention that he’d started taking care of some kids? A brother, a sister, and a pair of twins…this group looked like that, so that meant…

“Aaah! W-what’s that?! O-on the couch!” Yuusei stiffened.

“Looks kinda like a doll…a weird one…”

“I guess, but…” One of the twins came closer and reached out for him (Rua, or was it Ruka?), curious. “It looks kinda cute, too-uh?!” Their arm lit up a bright red and they pulled it back, the image of a claw glaring mockingly back at him. He flinched-the light itself seemed to burn him, and even that small action made all the kids jump.

“Huh? Ruka, isn’t that your Signer mark?” the youngest of the four asked, holding onto her other arm. “Why’s it lighting up? You said it only did that if things were dangerous-“

“Aha!” The other twin leapt in front, pointing accusingly with an arm bearing a completely different mark, one that looked like some sort of angular face, or a highly stylized arrowhead. “I know, I know! That’s an Earthbound God!”

Yuusei’s mouth dropped open.

“Rua, that can’t be right! They were all sealed, so-“

“But then, why else would the mark be lighting up? Anyways, you can feel it, can’t you? That thing feels like an Earthbound God! It musta managed to get free or sneak away from getting sealed somehow, and now it’s come back here for revenge! It probably ate Crow and Bruno already and now we’re next!”

“I…” Yuusei swallowed, his mouth having gone dry. He couldn’t speak, he- “No, I…you’re mistaken, I didn’t-“

“Rua, that’s ridiculous, we would have felt it through the mark, they’re probably fine-“

“Okay, but that definitely is an Earthbound, though! Hey, you!” The more energetic twin pointed at Yuusei again, making him flinch back. “You, and me, we’re dueling! Right here, right now! I’m not gonna let you hurt my sister or anyone else!”

“…” Yuusei tried to swallow, to speak, but the suddenness of everything, the brightness of the mark and how he felt like melting under its light, the air of hostility with no warning…

“CRRROOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW! WHO GOT THEIR THIEVING FINGERS INTO MY SECRET CUP RAMEN STASH?!” Jack Atlas’ dulcet tones set the whole garage shaking (as usual) and got all the children’s attention off him for a split second, and Yuusei took the opportunity to flee under a nearby table, shrinking even smaller as he went. In his haste to disappear, he didn’t notice the dregs of his ramen cup empty out onto the floor. Thankfully, it seemed like the kids didn’t notice either, if the shouts of “Ack, it disappeared!” and “It’s bad if we lose tabs on it, let’s keep looking!” meant anything.

Yuusei stared into his empty ramen cup, unseeing. He drew long, shaking breaths in an attempt to calm himself, but it proved futile, and his fears only continued to escalate. Was…was this what he had to awaken to? He’d accepted it, that he was stuck like this forever, that he’d taken the identity of something feared and reviled and the stigmas that came with it, but to be confronted like this…he pulled his robes closer, shaking. Just like last time he’d been brought back to life, he thought to himself, seemingly into freedom, but instead exiling himself into dark corners lest he bring up unsavory thoughts, lest he bring up hostility and anger and and and-

There was more shouting going on outside, he dimly realized. With the voices echoing around him in this cramped spot, hidden in the darkness, it felt too much like being trapped there, with the gods relentlessly snarling and mocking every waking moment. He knew that this wasn’t anything like that, who all these voices clearly belonged to, and yet he couldn’t help but grip the cup tighter, crinkling it as he sat there in the corner, shaking. Couldn’t they just shut up, shut up shut up shut up and just let him hi-

“Yuusei?”

The ghost found himself staring into Kiryu’s face with wide eyes.

Shit.
0-0-0-0-0

He’d expected some kind of chaos when he came driving up to the garage, but not quite like…

“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, YOUR STASH?! THIS IS MY GARAGE!”

That.

“WELL, A SECRET STASH CAN HARDLY BE KEPT IN MY OWN HOME, CAN IT?! EVERYONE WOULD LOOK FOR IT THERE!”

“BUT WHY WHERE I’M LIVING?! ZORA ALREADY GIVES ME A HARD TIME ABOUT YOUR ATTITUDE, IMAGINE THE EARFUL I’D GET ABOUT HER FINDING OUT YOU STORE STUFF HERE WITHOUT HER PERMISSION!”

“WELL, I THOUGHT I COULD TRUST A FRIEND TO SAFEGUARD SOMETHING SO IMPORTANT. BUT CLEARLY YOU’RE NOT THAT GOOD OF A FRIEND NOW, ARE YOU?!”

“THAT FUCKING CLOWN FROM SECURITY ALREADY BROKE IN HERE AND STOLE CUP RAMEN BEFORE AND YOU THINK THAT’S A GOOD IDEA?!”

WHAT?! I WASN’T INFORMED OF THAT PARTICULAR DETAIL! I RESCIND MY PREVIOUS OPINION OF YOU, YOU ARE COMPLETELY INCOMPETENT AND-“

“YEAH, YEAH YEAH, JUST GET YOUR STUPID RAMEN OUT OF HERE!”

“FINE! BUT IF I FIND OUT THAT BRUNO WAS THE ONE WHO ATE IT WHILE WE WERE GONE-“

“I-I didn’t touch any cup ramen! H-honest!”

Poor Bruno. They didn’t even notice Kiryu rolling up to the garage, clattering bones and all. All the better, he supposed. Maybe he could get done with things in pea-

“Aah, so you weren’t eaten after all! Great, great!”

…What.

“Hah? Who’s getting eaten?” Crow raised an eyebrow, apparently not sure whether to be confused at the sudden interruption or wondering when Rua had gotten into the garage.

“THE ONLY THING THAT WE SHOULD WORRY ABOUT GETTING EATEN IS MY PRECIOUS-“

“NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOUR STUPID CUP RAMEN, JACK!”

Right, then. Kiryu ignored them in favor of heading inside, although he did raise an eyebrow at Rua insisting that they should all listen to him, that something big was going on inside the garage. His suspicions were only confirmed at finding Nico and West staying close to Ruka, who looked unsure about the whole mess going on.

“D-Don’t worry. I’m pretty sure it can’t be as big a deal as Rua says…”

“Eh? But Ruka, didn’t you say that it did feel like an Earthbound? So what if it really is…”

Immediately, Kiryu stepped into the garage, garnering the kids’ immediate attention. He ignored their surprised cries at his presence, however, instead focusing on whatever clues he could find to figure out what had happened. A trail of spilled noodles and broth on the floor near them was what he’d found, and idly remembering the subject of the argument outside, he followed it. It led to under one of the tables in the corner, and as he kneeled down to investigate he didn’t notice Rua dragging the others inside.

“Yuusei?”

The spirit’s eyes had grown to inhuman size again, he noticed. With how small he was, it really did make him look like a small bug lurking in the corner, and Kiryu couldn’t help but remember him and the other Dark Signers constantly finding Yuusei hiding in the oddest places. Back then, he’d never really thought as to why Yuusei was always doing that, he’d chalked it down to curiosity back then, but…
Yuusei didn’t answer, and Kiryu reluctantly reached over to fish him out. Normally, he’d let him be, but with everything going on…it was better to get things straightened out as soon as possible. Yuusei didn’t resist being taken out, but he clearly wasn’t happy about it if the way his head flopped somewhat to the side meant anything. Still, by the time Kiryu stood up to look over Yuusei properly, his eyes had closed, the two curved glowing lines being the only indication that he was affecting a smile.

“Ah, you found me…I was just finishing this up, see? It was getting a bit noisy, and I wanted to eat in peace, so…”

Yuusei really was a terrible liar, Kiryu noted. Even back in Team Satisfaction, Yuusei was one of the more open of the group, heart always on his sleeve and passionate to the end despite his cool demeanor. How strange was it, then, that he didn’t notice these tells during his time as a Dark Signer. How could he fail to notice Yuusei tensing up every time he was snatched up, the hint of a waver in his voice as he searched for the right words to say without stepping on the god’s toes, or the unnatural smoothness that would sometimes happen if either of them spent too long on their thoughts? How could he never see the reason for Yuusei constantly squirrelling away? The way he was back then…would he even be unable to see this obvious farce, the invisible smile and tense body, holding an empty, crinkled, upside-down ramen cup that was barely bigger than him?

“Yuusei.”

The ghost blinked, eyes shrinking back down to normal in his surprise. Kiryuu could have almost laughed at such transparency, but instead chose to put a hand on Yuusei’s head, patting down the spiked hair and forcing the ghost to look directly at him.

“It’s okay. You don’t have to hide anymore.”

“…” Yuusei’s mouth dropped open, his small body starting to visibly shake. He bowed his head, dropping the ramen cup to the floor as he finally lost his grip on it. “I…I…”

Kiryuu held him close, and the spirit found himself burying his head in the man’s shoulder, the two oblivious to the others watching with different levels of unease, confusion, and realization.

And for the first time since he’d come out of the ground, Yuusei cried.
0-0-FIN-0-0

[A/N]: don't worry it's fine zora was out for groceries so nobody got in trouble
 

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