Bad News Travels Fast
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 Eighteen: Bad News Travels Fast
Jim awoke in a fog of pain, dazed and confused. The last thing he could remember was being in the cell and falling down. He looked around him and found he was in a different bed in an unfamiliar cell. He'd been in jail just about a month now and hated every passing day. The pain he was in was getting worse, he assumed it was because of the terrible sleeping arrangements he'd had to endure. He looked over to the right and down to his hand and saw to his surprise that he had an IV dripping some unknown clear fluid into his system. As his vision cleared he saw a doctor he'd never seen before coming over to his bedside.
"Hello Mr. Wheeler, glad you're finally awake. You collapsed in your cell and we did some tests and the results, well I am afraid it's not good news."
Jim groaned and rolled his eyes, "Spit it out doc what's the problem? Slipped disk in my back or something?"
The man shook his head, "No, something much more serious Mr. Wheeler. There is no easy way to say this, but you have colon cancer and I am afraid it is in the final stages now. You have maybe a month at the most to live. That is what the IV is for, some pain medication because you must be in incredible pain."
"What the hell? You're telling me I am dying? Go to hell you damn quack! Get away from me!" Jim yelled angrily.
The doctor didn't bat an eye at the loud voice Jim used that would have made his son cower in fear.
"Mr. Wheeler, I'm truly sorry but the tests show it's inoperable and you're actually living on borrowed time now. You could have a matter of days actually; it has progressed that far. Is there any family you'd like us to inform about this?" asked the doctor sounding somewhat sympathetic.
"Just my boy, but he won't care, he hates me," Jim muttered already feeling hopelessly sorry for himself.
I can just see him dancing on my grave when I'm gone. Looks like I'll be joining my dad a lot sooner then I ever thought. Dammit I can't believe this.
"Then we will see about notifying him for you. Perhaps he can come in for a visit, but you're going to remain here in the infirmary until, well, for the rest of your jail stay you'll be here and we'll do our best to make you comfortable as we can."
Then the doctor moved to the cell door and waited for the guard to let him out. And then Jim was alone with his morbid thoughts. Even if somehow Joey found it in his heart to forgive him he'd never be able to forgive himself for all that he'd put the boy through. For the first time in at least twenty-five years tears fell from the eyes of the man who'd spent the better part of his life making people around him miserable. He thought about his father's funeral and how sad people had acted. Would anyone care when he died? Somehow he doubted they would and he closed his eyes as he sobbed quietly in his bed.
Joey was working the front register when Duke came in with an envelope in his hand and an alarmed expression on his face. He waited until the customer Joey was waiting on had walked away before he handed the envelope to Joey without saying a word. Then he put his hand on Joey's shoulder and told him whatever it was about he'd be there for him.
"What is this?" asked Joey looking at the return address from the dept of corrections meaning it was from the Domino Jail.
He opened it as Duke shrugged. Joey's eyes went wide as he read over the letter before he swooned and nearly fainted before Duke reached out to steady him. Duke had a feeling it had to be really bad news if it had thrown Joey physically off balance so badly. He didn't know how he could help his friend but whatever he could do he would do. Joey handed him the letter and whispered that he needed to sit down Duke helped him over to the chair behind the counter where there was a computer that was used for inventory reasons and ordering things from their distributor's warehouse.
"Read it Duke, I don't know what to say," Joey breathed as he lowered his head onto his arms and did some deep breathing that Duke was fearful would turn into sobbing any moment.
He motioned to one of the other clerks and whispered to him to take over and that he was taking Joey upstairs, also that he might not be back down for some time and to just worry about taking care of the customers. Then he leaned over and whispered to Joey that they should go upstairs if he felt up to it. Joey nodded and let Duke help him to the elevator. Duke was too worried about his friend to read the contents of the letter yet so he just held onto Joey's arm, which Duke had put over his shoulder to help support his friend's weight better.
"Duke have you read it yet?" Joey asked in a shaky voice.
"No, I'm almost afraid to honestly Joey. Are you going to be ok man?"
Joey slumped over and started sobbing, "No Duke I don't think I am. My dad is dying and he's in jail, been in jail for over a month too. What am I going to do?"
Duke was stunned. He knew there was nothing he could say that would help Joey right now so he didn't say anything. Then the elevator doors opened and he helped Joey to his room. Once they made it inside Joey collapsed face down onto his bed and cried. Duke stayed put and reached out to rub his back in what he hoped would offer the young blonde some comfort.
"Duke, I need to go see him..." Joey stated, his voice trembling with emotion.
"Of course Joey. I'll take you no problem," Duke replied.
"I need to call my mom," Joey said, his voice sounding better.
Duke was encouraged that Joey seemed to be calmer, so he began reading the letter. His eyes went wide and the color drained from his face as he read that Joey's father had been diagnosed with a fatal disease left him speechless. He slowly handed the letter back to Joey and still couldn't find a voice to speak. Joey smiled weakly and looked up at Duke.
"Thanks for getting me out of there, I was close to breaking down in front of people and that won't do. I think the shock is wearing off a bit so I am going to call mom. What are we doing for dinner?" Joey asked, taking Duke off guard a moment.
"Feel like ordering a pizza maybe?" Duke asked in response.
Joey nodded so Duke nodded back and left his friend to call his mother. As he left the room Duke felt Joey was trying to put on an act for his benefit so he hoped now that he'd left that Joey might let out some of that stunned grief he knew had to be churning inside of him. But most of all he felt that Joey was hurting, just as he knew he'd be hurting if he'd found out his own father was dying.
"Hello Mom? It's Joey," began Joey when his mother answered the phone.
About twenty minutes had passed from the time he'd told Duke he was going to call and when the tears began flowing again. He still could hardly believe the news but he had to tell his sister and his mother. He hoped Serenity would be able to go see him and if their mother let him Joey would gladly go with them on such a visit to maybe smooth out things and be a buffer between his mother and his dying father. That was assuming she even wanted to go visit him and he wasn't so sure she would agree to, but surely she'd let Serenity go.
"Well hello Joey. Serenity isn't here, she's at the library but I'll tell her you called."
Joey shook his head, it was just like his mother to want to get him off the phone as soon as possible. But this time there would be no fast good-byes, not when he had such heavy news to discuss as his father being in jail and dying in jail.
"Yeah well I can talk to her later. I need to talk to you Mom. Are you sitting down? I've just gotten some real bad news we need to talk about," Joey said softly hoping his mother would get the hint and be a mother to him for once.
"What is it Joseph? I'm standing up and there isn't a chair nearby so just out with it."
Joey coughed and held back tears, the last thing he wanted to do was to cry on the phone with her.
"It's about Dad. He's been in jail for about a month now..." he began. "He's got cancer too. They just found out and said he has a month at most, maybe less. I don't know if you'd want to go see him Mom, but I can take Serenity with me when I go if that is ok with you."
The silence was deafening and it went on and on until finally he had to break it, "Are you there mother? You ok?"
After a moment he heard her breathing and relaxed, he'd been afraid she'd hung up on him.
"Y-yes I'm here. I gather he's at the Domino Jail then?" she replied with an unreadable tone of voice.
"Yes that's where he's at. Did you want to go see him?"
"Heavens no. He made his bed years ago with me and knows he has to sleep in it alone. I'm sorry to hear he's sick though. Are they certain it's cancer?"
Joey sighed, "Yeah Mom, they wouldn't have sent me a letter like this if they weren't sure, you know? So can I take Serenity to see him at least once?"
"Joseph that isn't up to me. I'll leave it up to her, but I think she'll want to. She still talks about the weekend she spent with you and that Duke boy you live with. So maybe you could have her over again, I know she'd want to be close to you after seeing him like that and I am at a loss as to what to do for either of you because of my own issues with him."
"Thanks Mom. I appreciate it. Do you want me to call later to tell her the bad news?" asked Joey, fully prepared to do it should he need to.
"No, I can tell her Joseph. You have a lot to handle with this already, the least I can do is break the news to her myself. Will you be home later? She should be home in half an hour so I know she is going to want to talk to you when she hears this," answered his mother sounding sad.
"Yeah I'm not going anywhere tonight. I am thinking of seeing him soon though so I'd like to be able to tell him if she is going to come visit or not, so definitely have her call me after you two talk," Joey requested, hoping that his sister would take the news well, but something told him she wouldn't.
"Ok I will Joseph. Thanks for calling. Have a good night son," she said as she prepared to hang up the phone.
"Sure, you too Mom," Joey said softly, feeling his heart ache at the lack of affection he felt from the woman who'd brought him into the world.
Then he hung up and lay back on his bed. He wished he could just call Serenity himself on her cell phone, but he'd agreed to let his mother tell her so he had to stand by that. He could only hope she mustered up the compassion to tell her in a decent fashion and not just blurt it out. A moment later Duke knocked on his door telling him that the pizza was there so Joey got up and went to the dinning room kitchen combo and sat down to dig in to the pizza with his friend. His mind was still troubled by thoughts of his father's suffering but as he ate slowly he began to feel better.
Joey was waiting for the phone to ring and when it did he jumped because it startled him. He expected to hear Serenity's voice but he heard a masculine voice, once he recognized instantly as belonging to his father! He swallowed at the lump in his throat and greeted him coolly.
"Hello Dad, I got a letter about you today. So I have been thinking about you a lot. You ok?" Joey asked, feeling incredibly stupid when he knew the man was anything but ok, yet he'd been unable to stop himself from asking.
"Sure son. I'm just dandy. Got a damned quack in here telling me I am dying or some shit, but I ain't listening to him, you know how I am about doctors."
Joey remembered just how strong his father's aversion to anyone in the medical profession was the time he'd spoken of wanting to be a doctor when he was a boy. He shivered now remembering the string of obscenities the man had yelled at him and how his dream of doing something big with his life helping people had died that day.
"Yeah I know. So can I come see you soon?" Joey asked hoping that was the reason for the call.
"Yeah that is what I am calling about. To tell you the visiting hours are from five until eight in the evening so you have that boy you're living with drive you on down here and let your old man see you before he dies, will ya?" Jim's voice sounded bitter and Joey felt twinges of regret over the lengths he'd had to go to free himself from this man who in spite of what he'd done to him, he found he still loved him.
"You can count on it Dad. I'll see if I can come by tomorrow or Sunday. Would that be ok?"
"Sure sounds good to me. They got me all screwed up on some drugs for pain and all so I won't be in the best of shape. So maybe you try to get here around six or so and I can try to make them give me medication before that so that I can visit with you proper."
Joey flinched at his father's bad use of language and was grateful that his own grasp of English was good enough that he'd been able to finish his story and garner some good experience from it too as well as some positive feedback from people who'd read and enjoyed it. He knew his father hadn't taken his own education very seriously and he would doubtlessly laugh at the idea that his son had written a story to completion, yet do so he had. One he was very proud of.
"Ok, I'll be by tomorrow evening around six then. Good to talk to you Dad. Take care," Joey said with some sadness.
"All right, I'll see you then. Good bye," Jim said and then hung up.
Joey sat there holding the phone stunned that his father had actually called, then he remembered his sister was supposed to call and he put the phone back in its cradle. It rang almost immediately and this time it was his sister.
"Hi Sis, you hanging in there ok?" he asked with great concern.
"Oh Joey I don't know what we're going to do! I don't want Dad to die, are they sure he's got cancer?" Serenity asked in tears.
"Yeah, they wouldn't send me a letter like that unless they were sure Serenity. I just spoke to him though and he sounded ok," he lied hoping that she wouldn't pick up on his deceit.
"I want to see him Joey can I go with you to see him soon? If I don't get to see him and something happened I'd never be able to live with it."
"Don't cry Serenity, you can definitely come with me to see him. Duke is taking me tomorrow to see him and if Mom says it's ok you can spend the weekend next week and we'll go see him then," Joey hoped she wouldn't push to see him this weekend with him because Joey wanted to talk to him alone first.
"But can't I go with you tomorrow? Please big brother?" she implored him still crying.
"I don't know, I think I probably ought to go see him first Serenity, you know? Just to see how he's doing," Joey said feeling bad for his sister that he wasn't able to hug her like he knew she needed.
"Ok, if you really think that's best, but I am going with you next weekend. All right?"
"That's fine Sis, that is just what I was thinking too. In fact you can probably stay the weekend again if you'd like to that is," he added hoping to help cushion the impact of the bad news and realization that she wouldn't be going to see him this weekend.
"Ok, I'll ask Mom but I bet she'll be fine with it."
Joey smiled, "Yes we talked about it earlier and she is fine with it Serenity so don't worry. It's all set, ok?"
She sighed and Joey could feel her pain, "Ok Joey. Call me tomorrow after you see him ok? And please tell him I will be coming next weekend."
"Ok I will, good bye Sis," Joey said softly.
"Good bye big brother."
Joey waited for her to hang up the phone before he hung up his. He got up and left to go watch some television and get the situation with his father off of his mind. Duke wasn't in sight so Joey figured he was probably working in his room. He'd been working a lot lately and from what he'd shown Joey he was pretty impressed with the new video game version of Dungeon Dice Monsters he was working on with a gaming company.
There was nothing on so he surfed channels for awhile before giving up and leaving it on the music video channel. He lay on the couch and took out his cell phone. There was only one person he wanted to talk to right now so he dialed the number for the game shop Yugi's grandpa ran hoping he'd answer and be able to come over. Right now he needed the comfort of a close friend and Yugi was his best of all friends. Later he'd call Mai, but right now he wanted to talk to Yugi.
"Hey Yug, it's Joey. What are you up to?" Joey asked after Yugi answered the phone on the second ring.
"Hi Joey! Nothing really why something up?" asked his best friend.
"Yeah, I kinda need someone to talk to, you busy tonight or can you come over?"
Yugi hesitated a moment and then replied, "No I'm not doing anything, want me to come over? I can get my bike and be over in fifteen minutes."
Joey smiled feeling relief was on the way, "Yes that would be great, bring stuff to stay the night ok?"
"Ok Joey, see you soon, bye."
"See ya Yug," Joey said feeling better already.
He put his cell back in his pocket and got up to go knock on Duke's door. He called out to him from beyond it to come on in. Joey opened the door and sure enough Duke was sitting there in front of his computer working hard.
"Hi Joey, what's up? Everything ok?" Duke asked with a serious expression.
Joey nodded, "Yeah I'm better now, but I wanted to let you know I called Yugi and he's gonna spend the night tonight. And my dad actually called, can we go see him tomorrow like aiming for six-thirty?"
Duke nodded, "You bet we can, not a problem. If you need me I'm just right here ok? You know you can always talk to me if you need to."
Joey smiled, "I know I can Duke, thanks for being there for me earlier, I was a real mess."
Duke smiled back, "It's ok, that's what friends are for."
"Thanks man. I'll let you get back to work now. We're probably going to be hanging out in my room or the living room if there is anything good on. See ya later Duke," Joey said as he turned to leave his friend to get back to his work.
He went to the elevator and headed downstairs to wait for Yugi. He had a feeling it was going to be a long night and he was grateful for the comfort he knew being with Yugi would bring. He knew he was lucky to have such a good friend and he vowed that if Yugi ever needed him he'd always be there for him. Joey had already proven that he would many times, and he knew that if a need arose he'd be there for Yugi no matter what.