Author Note: I do not own Yugioh or any of the characters from the show. I hope you enjoy this story and I look forward to seeing what people think of it. If you like it please R&R. I don't expect this to be a long story like my other two Yugioh fics, but I think it will be a fun ride as it moves along. Just a warning; this story will contain spoilers for Battle City and possibly the Noah's Virtual World saga. This fic has been beta read by Minor Arcana; a big thank you to her for all her help and advice on the story.
Dog Days Chapter Fifteen: Dangerous Encounter
The next afternoon Joey and Yugi were in the parking lot after school while Duke was stuck, held up by some of his fangirls. They were waiting by his car just talking about school. The sun was out in full force and there was no breeze to speak of to offer relief from its unrelenting heat. Yugi was glad to have Joey back in school and they had spent lunch together talking, the whole gang was there and relished in Joey's triumph which he shared only because there was no way to get around the fact something had caused him to move in with Duke. Had he been able to hide that fact he'd have kept the news about his father secret from Tristan, Bakura and Tea.
Finally Duke was free from the girls who were all swooning from his promise to chat later tonight. He was quite a local celebrity. As much lately as Yugi was, but Joey knew that was due to his clever marketing skills and the fact he was working with Kaiba on a new game. His website was totally awesome and very interactive so his ability to relate directly to his fans was on a whole other level then Yugi could compete with. Not that the young duelist would want to. He hardly ever dueled anymore, unless it was for fun with Joey. But both duelists had their decks with them never the less. You never knew when a challenge would present itself and the game offer the only non-violent way out of a bad situation.
"Hey guys, you coming over Yugi?" Duke asked as he came over, his keys were out and he was heading for the door to unlock the car.
"Yeah Joey and I were going to head to the arcade after it cools off a bit."
Duke grinned and unlocked the doors, gesturing to his two friends to get in the car. Joey got in the front seat while Yugi got in back, but moved to the middle of the back seat and leaned forward so he could move between Duke and Joey. Duke started the car and Joey put on the radio, then they were off. Duke was a good driver and he put the air conditioner on because of the heat. It was just too hot to go with the top down. Of that all three young men were in agreement.
"So Joey, do you think you can beat my high score?" Yugi challenged.
"I don't know, but I sure am going to try. I don't know why you got a gift with games, but it's undeniable that you do Yug."
At that they laughed and Duke looked up at Yugi through the rearview mirror, "Feel like a pizza before you guys go?" We can get a couple delivered. I saw you both going over your decks during lunch. You may not be dueling but you love your decks like I love my dice."
Yugi nodded, "Yes I sure do. Weird huh? It's like each one represents something that really existed. At least that is what it seems like sometimes. I guess it's just Kaiba's holographic technology that makes them really come alive for people."
Joey agreed whole heartedly, "Definitely. I can't not see them in my mind like the holograms. Got to respect him for making that happen, but I'd never tell him that. He's already too arrogant to stomach, if he knew I felt like that he'd be even more nauseating."
I bet you'd tell him Joey. I bet you would if he ever gave you that same respect you've given him, even if you don't say anything. I think he knows you feel that way already though. He's not stupid and it's not hard to miss the incredulous looks his dueling technology earns the game. Duke thought to himself as he stopped as a yellow light went red.
"Well he sure knows how to throw a duel tournament though. Gotta give him credit for that too," said the dark haired young man, while he watched cars going by in the intersection in front of them.
"I think you're right about that too Duke. Though I know he wouldn't appreciate hearing it from any of us, I think he knows somehow though and just doesn't want us to think he cares. But I think he does, I don't know when exactly it started, but I haven't felt hatred from him for a long time now."
Yugi looked out the window of the passenger side of the backseat as he waited for their responses if either young man had one. Next to Yugi in the backseat appeared his old friend, Yami. He was looking at Joey and then brought his gaze over to Yugi. When he spoke his lips didn't need to move, they knew each other's thoughts.
--Yugi, you really think that don't you? I don't think he has hated except for perhaps after we defeated him in the Battle City Finals and his Blue Eyes was used against him by Joey. I know that incensed him as it always does.-
-Yes I do think that Yami. I don't think he hates any of us. Funny how he almost feels like a part of our group, even though he'd deny it; there's not denying that we've been through a lot with him and Mokuba.-
--Yes we have. I have an uneasy feeling Yugi. Something doesn't feel right. Be wary today please. Should something happen just let me take over, I can't explain it other then something has me on edge.-
-I can. You're still worrying about Joey and his dad aren't you? I have a feeling we won't be hearing from him anytime soon. Try not to worry Yami.-
Yami nodded and disappeared back into the darkness within the puzzle yet left his mind on the surface watching; always watching to make sure his friends were safe. Though Yugi seemed to think the older man who Joey was freed from would not make any trouble for the young blonde, but Yami wasn't so sure. As the day had gone on this feeling had only gotten worse and Yami had learned the wisdom of his gut feelings; using them to prepare himself to spring into action at a moment's notice.
"So are you up to coming with us Duke? To the arcade I mean?" Asked Joey.
Duke shook his head, "I can't. I got some work to get done, but you two should go and have a good time."
Joey nodded and looked over at Yugi over his shoulder. He gave the young teen the thumbs up and then turned around facing the front again. Yugi was happy to be with his friend, Joey looked wonderful and he surely seemed to be doing well on his own with Duke. If only it lasts, Yugi knew that was the true test of happiness, if it lasts.
Duke pulled into the parking lot of the and then shut the car off when he'd parked it in his spot. Yugi chuckled and got out after Joey did. Duke was last out and he locked the doors before heading into the Black Crown. The two young duelists followed behind their friend and then went upstairs to the kitchen. Duke already had the cordless phone in his hand when he sat down at the big bench style table. Joey got them all cans of soda and then joined Yugi and Duke at the table.
Soon he left them to go downstairs and Joey asked Yugi go with him to the living room, where they waited watching television. It was just under an hour later when Duke appeared with two carry out pizza boxes and sat down in a chair near the couch Joey and Yugi were sitting on. Duke put down some paper plates and napkins, and sat back to dig into the piece of pizza he'd just whisked off the open supreme pizza. Joey took two slices from the same one while Yugi went for the one that was covered with vegetable toppings.
They ate in silence and when the two pizzas were all but gone Duke excused himself. He then went to his room and Joey was ready to get going. They took a can of soda with them and headed out to the arcade. Because they knew the town so well they knew how to get around, they took some back ways there. It was still light outside so they figured they had plenty of time before the arcade got very busy with older teens and they would have to leave or face possibly running into trouble. The arcade was starting to get a lot of kids as it was after dinnertime, but they were in several tight groups around different machines.
Joey and Yugi went to the pinball machines for a little while, dismayed there was a small gathering of kids at the video game they'd come to play. That was the trouble with the arcade, if you weren't the one with the next quarter sitting on the machine you were out of luck. It seemed that they weren't going to be able to get on the game but they had fun anyway. They played a shooting game and Yugi naturally won with his superior reflexes. Then they played some pool and it was starting to get busier around them so without saying a word the two teens gave each other a look and snuck out the back way where they'd meet the least resistance.
"Damn I really wanted to get on it today. I hate it when Dan and his groupies hog the good machines. Sorry Yug." Joey apologized and then he led the way behind the building heading for the back way they'd come.
"Aw it doesn't matter Joey, I had fun anyway so don't-"
A man jumped out at them and to Joey's horror he realized it was his dad!
"So you get your freedom and this is what you do with it. Go out with your girlie friends and play kid games. How pathetically predictable."
Yami flared up in Yugi's mind and he swooned from the rapid switching of consciousness. He knew right away Yami was in a rage. This was what he'd sensed earlier that Yugi hadn't. It was almost too much to believe that Mr. Wheeler would jump out at them like this. Did he always talk to Joey like that? So patronizing and cruel?
"How dare you jump out at us like that!" Yami growled.
Jim looked over at him with surprise and then he smirked dismissively at the spikey haired teen, obviously not seeing a threat in Yami that Joey had no doubt he saw was there. He had moments to try to diffuse this situation before it exploded.
"What the hell do you want Dad? Get out of my face with your bull crap."
Jim looked at his son with such a smug look that Joey clenched his fists he was so angry.
"You think you got what it takes girlie boy? Huh? You wanna take on your old man in front of your little boyfriend?"
Then with great swiftness Jim threw a punch at his son, but the young blonde was prepared for it and caught the fist hurtling at his face, then he moved out of the way and roughly pushed Jim aside. He got a whiff of alcohol and wondered just how drunk he was to be out here like this. He could get himself in real trouble like this, but then he must be aware of that. Joey knew his father wasn't stupid just because he'd never gone to college.
"Dad, you need to get a life other then trying to hurt me. Your days of hurting me are over."
Joey moved to walk away and Yami was behind him yet watching. As he expected he tried to sucker punch Joey, so Yami grabbed his wrist and twisted it. Not hard enough to snap it, but hard enough to get the drunken man's attention through his hazy brain.
"You listen to me old man. You are setting yourself up for tremendous pain and suffering. Continue as you are addicted to alcohol and to hurting people, causing suffering and you will surely die a lonely and sad, pathetic death with no one to be there to care when you do. Be smart and do as your son has asked or else I won't hold back on you next time we meet."
Yami untwisted the hand and wrist then pushed Jim roughly, knocking him off balance. But Yami could see his words had hit home and that he was reeling from them as much as he was from the shove. Then Yami came up beside Joey and reached up to his arm, whispering to him that they had to leave now. He only had to gesture a few times to get Joey walking quickly. Had they been able to run without looking suspicious Yami would have told him to run. But walking fast proved to be enough and they thankfully didn't have another encounter with the elder Wheeler man.
Joey told Yugi he didn't want Duke to see him so shook up and they didn't go right back to the Black Crown.
"I just can't face him right now. I mean after all he's done to help me here I am feeling no better off then I was three weeks ago and it kills me Yug."
Yami let Yugi take back over and tried to comfort the young teen. He hadn't been able to hold back what he'd said. It was exactly as he'd seen it to. Sometimes when he was angry or upset he could see things and got flashes of things happening to other people. Like in this situation he saw Jim in horrible pain hooked up to some kind of pump thing. He had been able to keep the details of it from Yugi and he hadn't told Jim more then he needed to know. There was still time if he made changes now, but Yami had seen it would not come to be and it made the former pharaoh sad to know his friend had something painful ahead. It couldn't be helped.
"I know Joey. It's ok. We can sit here as long as you need. Don't worry about it. And if you don't mind my saying so? You are better off now then you were before you filed to become emancipated. I am really proud of you Joey. You're a wonderful person and I am proud to call you my best friend."
Yugi reached over and squeezed the blonde's shoulder as he'd spoken, wanting to reassure his friend that everything would be all right.
"Yeah I know you're right. It's just hard to handle seeing him like that again out of nowhere to just be facing that abuser and his bullshit. Yugi I was afraid he was going to try to hit you. I would have lost it if he did."
"Nah, he wouldn't do that, he'd end up in jail if he touched me and I am sure he knew it. It's you he thinks he can get away with hurting. You should just stay inside for a week, don't go to the arcade, maybe even call off your date with-"
"Are you insane? Call off my date with my gorgeous girlfriend? Sorry Yug, but think about it. No way in hell am I calling off ANYTHIING when it comes to Mai Valentine. Write that one down alongside me never turning down pizza because it ain't changing."
Though Joey was smiling Yugi was sure he was still shaken up, but they moved on this time finally going back to the shop. After sitting in the living room for awhile Duke had come out and offered to take Yugi in to school the next day which was fine with him. This way he got to be close to his friend when he needed him and tonight he was certain he would need him. So they got ready for bed, Joey lending Yugi some pajamas to sleep in, then they went back to the living room to call Yugi's grandfather and to watch some movie that was just coming on.
Why that fucking bastard...How dare he talk to me the way he did. I swear to god that bastard kid and his friends are such pricks. Jim thought angrily to himself as he walked home.
It wasn't far to his house and he was soon inside, getting into the shower to wash the memory of seeing his son and that strange kid with the intense stare. But then at least he had shown some guts this time. He'd stood up to Jim and that was something Joey had never done before. In a twisted way it made Jim proud; almost like he'd succeeded in his job as a father by imparting the wisdom of defending yourself from oncoming attacks.
Rationally of course it was insane and the furthest thing from what fatherhood was all about, but to Jim Wheeler as he got out of the shower, wrapping a dingy brown towel around his slender hips, he could only think about his next beer. Getting out of the bathroom, he walked out to the kitchen. He'd gotten himself into the habit of keeping things clean because he hated bugs. Had a real phobia of them and it probably stemmed from his own childhood where he'd had them in bed with him at night sometimes.
It was a sick memory to him; one he loathed. Anything that reminded the man of his own past vulnerabilities was something that he could do without. He had always known his life would end badly, his own family had been broken apart early on, his mother took off and left him and a brother with their father. It had not been a good thing for the boys and looking back at it for a moment Jim felt a pang of regret that he hadn't been strong enough to overcome his upbringing and to make something of himself. To have been a good father in spite of not having had a good one, that used to be what he wanted most when he was growing up.
To be like anyone other then his father, the man was an alcoholic womanizer. He had different women all throughout the time that he'd been alive. He'd died ten years ago. Right after his wife left him ironically. He could have tried to get her to stay but he hadn't been able to come to terms with what that would mean. He couldn't make himself vulnerable to her, she'd hurt him in the past and he had a feeling that women were just that way. That was why he'd always done his womanizing away from home. He'd hoped that Joey might have the balls enough to bring a girl over during those times he was out but he doubted it.
He went to the kitchen and got a beer, then headed out to the living room. He turned on the television and sat down in his recliner, still wearing just the towel. He wanted to think about anything but how alone he felt. His life was so fucked up that he knew it was beyond repair. It just pissed him off that kid had the nerve to talk to him the way he did. Knowing what the prick had said was true didn't mean it helped him find a way out of the hole he'd dug for himself for thirty years. He knew in the end there'd be no escape for him; there was no escape for anyone, death comes for everyone equally and without concern.
You had to just live life and accept that your small role in it amounted to a drop in the ocean of reality. Jim took a long sip from his beer and closed his eyes. He deserved the backache he had all the time, he'd been such a bastard to his son. The truth was there, he knew it but he couldn't face it. It was too easy for him to zone out and ignore the world around him. He was soon lost in the movie that was on and just finished his beer. What else was there for him? As he sat there he couldn't answer that and gave up trying to.
Joey sighed, "I don't know why he did that Yugi. I'm sorry I feel really sick. I don't know that I am going to go to school tomorrow."
Yugi moved over, rolling onto his side looking at Joey who was lying on his back, head resting on his hands.
"Come on Joey, forget it. It's ok, besides you've missed school this week already get that thought out of your mind because you're not sick," Yugi playfully kicked Joey's shin and the blonde closed his eyes.
"Come on man. I'm serious," he looked up miserably at the ceiling and then went on, "I am sick to my stomach from seeing him and if you keep moving I am going to have to run to the bathroom and throw up."
Yugi sighed, "Joey, I understand you feel that way emotionally, but you are stronger then him. You are a good person and maybe one day a long time ago he was a good person too, but he's changed. He's become clouded and convoluted by poison; alcohol is killing him Joey."
Joey nodded and sat up. He shrugged and then got up. He went to his desk and turned on his computer. He wanted to talk to Mai. Something in him needed to see her face and hear her sweet voice. It didn't matter that Yugi was there, he could be there and be quiet. That was the thing about Yugi. He understood Joey better then anyone except now perhaps Mai. Once he had it booted he got comfortable in the chair and opened his email up to see if she was online.
"I'm sorry Yugi, I need to talk to Mai. I can't think about him anymore. Thanks for staying around tonight. You're right, I shouldn't let him make me ill physically anymore. He can't hurt me unless I let him and wallowing in it all is letting him win. Thanks man. I won't be long if she's even on now."
Yugi lay on his back and smiled, "Don't worry about it Joey. I'm not going anywhere. That's what best friends do for each other. Be there when they are needed. I hope she's on. So are you ever going to tell me details about being with her or do I have to go on suffering in ignorance?"
Yugi rolled over to look at Joey who was blushing, this made Yugi laugh and he fell off the bed he was laughing so hard. Joey's blush deepened and he told Yugi to shut up.
"Come on man, shut up already, she's coming online to chat. She'll hear you stupid!"
Yugi stopped and looked up at the computer from the floor. He saw Mai's face appear in a window that showed a web cam stream, coming from her end of a chat that Joey was beginning now.
"Hi handsome, I was hoping you'd be on. I missed you."
"I miss you too Mai. You look hot as always."
Yugi covered his mouth and grabbed a pillow, he shoved it in front of his face to stifle his snickering.
Somehow Yugi managed to stay quiet for the ten minutes they talked and then Joey said goodbye to Mai. He'd smiled at her before shutting down the web cam and finally the computer. He got back into bed and sighed happily. He didn't want to kiss and tell, but he figured he'd toss a few facts to his friend.
"So, you ever kissed a girl before Yug?"
Yugi choked, "Uh, well not really. Not a real kiss no. Are you going to tell me about kissing Mai Joey?"
"You wanted to know right?"
Joey looked over at Yugi and waited until he nodded and went on.
"Well, it's incredible. You know how we used to think kissing with tongue was gross."
Yugi gaged, "Ugh, I don't think I want-"
"Aw shut up already, you know you asked, so anyway it's not gross. It's freaking incredible. You get chills from your toes to your hair. I kid you not man. I felt all kinds of things in my stomach the first few times we kissed and even now just thinking about what it feels like I got the weird butterflies and my knees are weak."
"Wow Joey. It's serious isn't it?"
"Yes, I'd never kissed anyone either Yugi. I'm glad I didn't because it was just so perfect with her. I don't regret anything that's happened between us. I just hope she doesn't"
"Oh please, she's in /love/ with you Joey! Come on I heard her, she's thinking about you as much as you think about her. I think it's wonderful you two have each other."
Joey nodded. "Thanks Yug. Good night. Kick me if I snore too loud."
"Night Joey," whispered Yugi as he curled up on his side.
Joey thought about Yugi. He knew of his secret crush on Tea, but he didn't like to talk about it because he'd accepted that he'd never act upon any of those feelings out of fear of losing her friendship. As they sat there in silence for a few minutes Joey felt bad for Yugi. He hoped that Tea would show interest in him someday. He deserved to be happy and Joey would be there for him when he was and like Yugi was there for him when he was down, Joey would be there for him during those times too. After about twenty minutes Yugi was snoring softly and Joey turned over. He was asleep in no time dreaming about his date with Mai this weekend.