Waiting Is the Hardest Thing To Do
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 Nineteen: Waiting Is the Hardest Thing To Do
Joey waved to Yugi through the door and smiled as his friend came up to the Black Crown. The shop was already closed so Joey had to unlock the door to let Yugi in, which he did quickly because it had started raining. Yugi locked his bike up to the rack that was there out front under the cover of the awning and lugging his backpack he trotted into the store smiling at Joey. Joey felt bad that he'd not warned Yugi about the bad news, but then he hadn't wanted to upset him as the news was bound to effect him after how they'd run into his dad that night over a month ago.
"Hi Joey. What's up?" Yugi greeted Joey warmly.
Joey let his face fall a bit answering, "Hi Yug, I got some bad news today. Let's head upstairs and we'll talk about it."
Yugi looked concerned as Joey expected he would be, but that couldn't be helped, he didn't want to break down here in the middle of the store, he'd rather be upstairs in the living area of the place then down here where he'd first read the letter. He led Yugi to the elevator and they got inside, with Joey pressing the button to take them up to the second floor. You could see over a banister down into the shop area near the stairs at the back of the store that led up to the second floor, but that made Joey uncomfortable as he wasn't really ok with heights.
Dueling in the sky for the Battle City Finals had been quite a challenge for the young man but he'd been confident that no one had picked up on his fear of falling. As he led Yugi to his room his cell phone rang, taking it out of his back pocket and saw it was Mai's number coming up on the LED. He looked to Yugi and whispered that it was Mai so he had to take it but wouldn't be on long. He answered the phone and her sweet voice greeted him. He smiled and told her he had company and that he really couldn't talk at the moment but he'd call her back. She understood and told him she would be home so just call when he could.
"I will Mai, bye," Joey said as he prepared to flip the phone back up and stuff it back into his pocket.
"Bye hun," Mai said sweetly and then she hung up.
They got to Joey's room and went inside. Yugi put his backpack down near the bed and then he turned to Joey.
"Where do you want me to sit?" he asked unsure of where to sit down.
"Anywhere is fine Yugi. Listen, I got a letter today from the Domino Jail about my dad. He's been in jail for just about a month now and he apparently collapsed in his cell."
Yugi's face went from content to upset in mere seconds, "Oh God Joey, is he ok?"
As Yugi sat down on the edge of the bed Joey took the desk chair and pushed it over to the bed before sitting down. He shook his head and went on.
"No, he's dying Yugi. They did some tests and discovered he's got colon cancer. In the last stages too. I'm gonna go see him tomorrow, but for now I am just so upset and conflicted I don't know what to do. Which is why I wanted you over tonight. I didn't really want to be alone," Joey stated as he slumped over, propping himself up with one hand under his chin resting his elbow on the arm of the chair.
Yugi choked and Joey could see from his reaction that he was as shocked as Duke had been. Still he was grateful his friend was here, he meant it when he'd said he didn't want to be alone tonight. There was no school tomorrow and they could stay up late talking without having to worry about being late for school. Joey sighed and wondered how on earth he would handle seeing his father in jail. He could remember when he'd been in jail once before but it hadn't been for very long. This time he wouldn't be leaving and that made the young man sad.
"Joey I don't know what to say, I can't believe he's that sick and didn't know it," Yugi cringed as he spoke making Joey think he was remembering the night they'd run into his father in that alley.
"Yeah I can't either, but you remember what you said right? It looks like part of it is going to come true, he is going to die but he won't be alone and even after all he's done to me I still care. So does my sister. Do you want to go with me and Duke tomorrow to see him? I mean you could just be there to keep Duke company you don't have to go in and see him or anything," Joey asked hoping Yugi would go so that he could spend more time with his father then he would if Duke was waiting on him alone.
"Of course I'll go Joey, you'll need us both after that I'm sure."
Joey nodded and then sighed. He wanted to cry but then he had earlier and it wasn't like he had any tears left for his old man. He'd been cruel there was no doubt of that, but even as harsh and cold as he'd been towards Joey he didn't deserve to die in horrible pain like cancer caused. Joey wondered how bad he looked, if he'd been in jail for a month he hadn't been able to drink that entire time so he must be in bad shape.
"Thanks Yug, I knew you'd be here for me. It means a lot to me that you came over like this."
Yugi reached over to Joey's knee and put his hand there, "Joey I'll always be here for you, we're best friends and best friends stick together not matter what."
Joey nodded and even though he thought he had no tears left, imagining what his dad must be going through upset him so much that he started crying. He didn't notice that Yugi's eyes seemed to have changed and that he looked a bit different, but the spirit in the puzzle had come out to try to comfort their friend. Yugi didn't know what to do so he'd asked Yami to come out and besides Yami wanted to be there, especially since his prediction about Jim's demise was being proven to be somewhat accurate.
"It's ok Joey, I'm here," he said as he moved to hug the grieving young man.
He held Joey as he cried and tried to offer him some comfort. They moved to the bed and Joey let out all the pain he'd built up over his dad's illness. He asked why such things happen, and though Yami didn't have an answer, he told Joey that no one knew why things like this happened, but that all we could do was to be there for our loved ones and try to accept that there were some things we couldn't change. After a awhile Joey began to get tired and Yami told him they should think about sleeping.
"You should try to get some rest Joey, let me help you into bed," he said softly, standing and laying Joey back under the covers.
He took off the blonde's shoes and then Joey pulled out the cell phone, which he put on the nightstand. Then he turned on his side and Yami sat down on the bed next to him, with Joey facing the door to his room. He rubbed his back gently and told him not to worry that he wasn't alone as Joey drifted off to sleep. Some time passed and Yami got up and went to the bathroom where he brushed his teeth and washed his face. His younger half coming out to take over as Yami slipped back into the puzzle.
"Yami? Do you think he's going to be all right?" asked Yugi as he finished getting ready to go to bed.
"I don't know young one. I hope so, all we can do is be here for him and hope for the best. His father treated him really badly, that we know, but he's still his father and nothing will change that."
Yugi sighed, "I know, I just wish there was something more we could do for him, you know?"
Yami nodded, looking at the semi-transparent reflection of himself in the mirror next to Yugi.
They left the bathroom and Yugi took out his pajamas, which he quickly changed into, then the cell phone rang waking Joey. He mumbled that he'd forgotten to call Mai as he answered it.
"Hi Mai, I'm sorry I didn't call back. I am pretty depressed tonight. I got some bad news about Dad."
Mai said something Yugi couldn't hear and then Joey replied, "Yeah, he's in jail and what's worse, they discovered he's got cancer."
Joey was quiet for a few moments and then he responded to whatever Mai had said with, "Yeah I'm going to see him tomorrow. So maybe we can get together tomorrow night or something. You could always come over and stay the night here if you want to."
Then Yugi watched as Joey whispered, "I love you too Mai. Good night, sleep well."
Joey turned sleepily towards Yugi and lifted the covers, "Here Yug, grab that pillow and let's hit the hay, I'm really tired, you must be too it's gotta be about one in the morning."
"Sure Joey, thanks. Good night," Yugi said as he slid into the full sized bed next to his friend.
"Good night Yugi."
They were both asleep before long and only Yami stood by watching over them as they slept. The spirit felt sad for Joey, but he didn't feel bad for Jim at all. The man had spent the better part of his life hurting people who loved him and that made Yami angry. Of course when he'd peered into the man's twisted heart he'd seen that he would die sooner then later and he'd seen the blackness of cancer eating away at him, even if he hadn't announced it out loud, this news was no surprise to him. As he looked out the window of the bedroom down upon the wet, empty streets he felt in his heart that justice was being carried out. Even if it was painful and hurt his friend, it was his father's own doing that had brought this fate upon him.
The next morning they got up and went to eat breakfast, Duke was long since up and had made eggs and bacon for them, which Joey microwaved to reheat them. They two of them sat down and ate while Duke was off somewhere working or perhaps downstairs taking care of his business. The two young men had slept well considering the late hour they'd gone to bed at. As they ate they were quiet, neither having much to say this morning with the impending visit to the jail looming over them it was a depressing morning.
Joey finally broke the silence when he finished his breakfast and took his plate over to the sink to wash it up.
"So Yug, you sleep ok? I hope I didn't kick you or anything."
Yugi chuckled, "No I slept fine, you didn't kick me or anything, don't worry. So what is on the agenda for the day until we head over to see your dad?"
Joey sighed, "I don't know maybe watch some television or play some video games? You up for that?"
Yugi nodded, "Yeah sounds great, I'd love to play that new fighting game Duke was talking about in school yesterday."
"Cool let's go get the console set up and play a bit. I am sure Duke will be up later, he's working on some stuff now I bet. Awful nice of him to make us breakfast like that though, I will have to thank him for it. He sure cooks better then I do."
Yugi laughed and agreed with Joey about his cooking, "Yeah but no one can eat as much as you can Joey, so you'd think you'd be a better cook then you are. Maybe you should take a cooking class or home economics or something."
Joey playfully punched Yugi in the arm and told him to shut up. Then they went to the living room to waste some time. Duke appeared an hour later and Joey did as he said he would, thanking him for breakfast, which Duke told him was no problem at all. Then he challenged Yugi to a round of the new game which Joey sat back and watched the two play. Duke was much better at it then Yugi was, that is until Yami appeared, then the tables began to turn and Yami beat Duke before the round was over.
"Man how did you pull those moves off Yugi? I want a rematch!" Duke demanded and laughed as they began a new round of fighting, more evenly matched this time around because Yami was starting off fresh.
Joey sat back on the couch as his friends had fun competing his cell rang, he knew it was Mai so he answered it right away. It was nice to have a girlfriend and he put his hand over the phone a moment and then asked Duke if Mai could come over tonight and Duke nodded as Yami knocked his guy out.
"Aw no fair I was distracted, rematch!" Duke complained, as the next round began with Yami laughing that he wasn't all that distracted, he was just up against the king of games so naturally he was out of his league.
"Come on Yugi, you can't be the best at everything, let me win will you?" Duke whined as Yami beat his guy down once again.
"Where's the fun in that Duke? You almost beat me before I got the hang of the game, Joey beat me once, so keep fighting and maybe you'll do the same." Yami said smiling sarcastically as he knew Duke would be even more motivated to try to beat him having heard how Joey beat him.
But what he didn't know was that Yugi had been the one who'd gotten beaten, now Joey wouldn't stand a chance against Yami because he was just really good with the controller and got off the special secret moves easily while Duke fumbled with the controller in his hands. Joey got up and left the room so he could talk to Mai without having to compete with the two fighting friends.
"So what do you think, my place tonight?" he asked hoping she'd agree.
"Sounds good to me Joey. But are you sure you're up to having company tonight? Why don't you call me after you get back and we'll see how you're feeling."
Joey knew he'd want her over, but he appreciated her consideration of his feelings just the same.
"Ok but pack your overnight bag anyway because I know I'm going to want to see you no matter what state I'm in. Ok?"
She agreed and they said their good-byes before hanging up. Joey went back to the living room where Yami had beaten Duke again and he decided to just sit back and watch the two going at it some more. He was surprised Yugi was still beating Duke as Duke had beaten him almost every round they'd played. After a few more rounds he did succeed in beating Yami, but truth be told Yami had let him win, fumbling around and saying his hands were just tired when he'd really just wanted to let him win one.
"Sure Yugi, I buy that. Not! I won fair and square! Hey Joey wanna have a go?" Duke asked, but Joey shook his head.
"Then maybe we can catch something on television, there is a cool movie coming on at eleven," Duke replied, switching off the gaming console.
They three of them sat back and watched the movie, losing track of time as second one came on. Soon it was lunchtime and they went out to Burger World. Time passed and it was getting closer to the time they'd need to leave, so they went back to the Black Crown to wait until five-thirty when they'd leave to go to the jail. Joey was very worried about what he'd say and how he react upon seeing his father in such a place, but there was turning back now. He'd said he'd go see him and see him he would no matter how afraid he was of his father's condition. He was dead set on seeing him this evening.
So they headed off at five-thirty with Joey wrestling with his fears as they got on the main road that the jail was, ready to face whatever lie ahead for Joey together. Duke parked the car and then the three of them sat there waiting for it to be six o'clock. Finally about ten minutes later Joey took a deep breath and left his two friends as he headed to the gate where he'd be allowed in to the jail. He was worried about seeing him, but he'd brought his identification card and hoped that they wouldn't give him any trouble about seeing his father. He was allowed in after signing a sign in sheet and them checking his ID.
He was shown to a room where his father would be brought out in a few minutes. He was told that he could call out to the guard when he was ready to leave and as soon as the guard left him Joey felt the urge to call out to him to come let him out. He fought it and forced himself to just sit there because he knew he had to see his father tonight and get it out of the way. Nothing would stop him from doing this, not even his own fear. Which was the hardest thing to overcome. He knew that he couldn't hurt him anymore, yet he was still afraid of what the man might say to him. His words sometimes hurt more then any punches he'd inflicted on him and he swallowed at the lump in his throat hoping that this visit would go all right.
Waiting was so hard, the longer Joey sat there the more he felt like running away. It wasn't much longer before he saw his father coming towards the room through the glass. He cleared his throat and took in the sight of his old man, noting right away that his shoulders were slumped and his face looked really pale. He was suddenly frightened that his dad might not make it another week for his sister to come see him and Joey wondered what kind of effect seeing him in here like this would have on her. He hated that he'd told her to wait, but he needed to know that their dad was up to seeing her. He would be so angry if the old man hurt Serenity in any way, so this was the only thing he thought that he could do to test the water to make sure that bringing her here was the right thing to do.
As he waited for his dad Joey prayed that this visit would go all right, he didn't pray usually, but this was an exception. He needed strength to get through it and as his Dad made his way slowly into the room and sat down into the chair across from him, Joey felt his heart sinking as he saw dark circles under his dull brown eyes that usually held a sparkle that meant trouble for the young blonde. But in here there was no chance that his father would risk getting himself in more trouble by attacking Joey. He looked up at him finally and the guard left them alone, to watch from behind the glass.
"Hello son, thanks for coming. It's good to see you," Jim began.
Joey didn't know what to say but he spoke anyway, "Hi Dad, you look bad, are they feeding you ok in here?"
"I'm dying boy, what did you expect? Cancer is eating away at my very core. Nothing is able to change that, not surgery not God and certainly not food. You should know that," Jim said softly.
Joey was surprised that he seemed so weak, "Did they give you pain medication like you'd wanted?"
Jim nodded and sighed, "Yup, but it still hurts like hell. I should have paid more attention to what my body was trying to tell me and gone to the doctor long before this. Then maybe...well it doesn't matter now. How is your sister? Is she going to come see me soon you think?"
Joey nodded, he'd already decided that it would be far worse on her to not see Jim then to see him in here like this. It was up to her if she wanted to come for a second visit. He knew he'd be back tomorrow, if Jim wanted him to come that is.
"Yes, I will bring her next weekend ok?"
Jim nodded and sighed, "Didn't trust me enough to bring her before you saw me eh boy?"
Joey's jaw fell open and he shrugged.
"Can't say as I blame you after all the shit I put you through. About that Joey, I know sorry will never amount to much, but I am sorry I hurt you. I don't know why I did the shit I did, but I know now that it was wrong and I am really sorry I took out my pain on you. You deserved so much more."
Joey sat there stunned, his father had never in all his years ever apologized for anything to him. Joey didn't know what to say so he sat there trying to shut his mouth.
"I know I haven't been a good dad, hell my own old man was a bastard, but still. I wish things had been different son. I guess now that I am dying and cold sober my vision finally got clear enough that I could take a good look at my life and realize some things. Like it wasn't really you I was ever mad at. It was me son. I'm really sorry and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me someday," Jim said, his gaze locked onto his son's as he apologized with all the sincerity he could muster.
"I...I forgive you dad, I wish things were different too. But we can't change the past. We can only live in the present," Joey said, remembering Yugi saying the very same thing to him the night before as he'd cried on his friend's shoulder.
"Yes well about that, it doesn't look like I have much present left to live son. I want you to know I left the house to you and if you want to sell it I'd understand. You should maybe go to college and do something with your life. Make me proud after I'm gone to know that at least that small thing, leaving you the house like this might help get you started on the right path in life," Jim said, then coughed, covering his mouth as he coughed again even harder.
Joey got up and went over to his dad and kneeled at his side, "I promise Dad, I will make you proud of me. I will do something with my life. I don't know what yet but I'll do something and make sure I remember you as you are right now. My father."
Jim turned to face Joey after his coughing fit subsided and he ruffled his blonde hair and laughed softly, "That's my boy. Now I gotta go get back into bed, I feel like shit but it was good to see you. When can you come again?"
"Would you want me to come tomorrow?" Joey asked unsure of how hard it was on his dad to come out like this to see him.
"No, I think it's gonna be another bad day tomorrow, but next weekend would be soon enough. Maybe I can call you sometime this week? Would that be ok?" he asked.
"Sure dad, call anytime ok?" Joey told him grateful for the honest conversation.
"Ok son, take care of yourself and when you come next weekend let's try to make your sister feel ok, I know she is going to take this pretty hard since I've been out of her life so long...You know what I mean right?"
Joey stood and nodded, "I know what you mean Dad, don't worry I'll help her get through it. That's what big brothers are for."
Jim nodded and gestured to the guard as he stood. Then as if he was fighting with himself he turned to face Joey, just standing there in a great deal of pain from what Joey could see, then he suddenly opened his arms and embraced Joey hugging him tight like he had when he was a boy. Joey was caught off guard but reached around the man who'd been so hard on him for so long and hugged him back. It didn't last long, but as Jim was being taken away he thanked Joey for coming again and then Joey was left alone as a guard from the other side of the glass came and opened the other door to lead Joey out.
Joey was all conflicted when he finally made it out to the car, he'd had to go into the men's bathroom there and cry for a few minutes before he'd been able to make himself leave. He'd really been moved by his father's apology and he prayed that his suffering wouldn't last long. He just hoped he would live long enough for one more visit and to see Serenity one time before dying and leaving this world and all its pain behind. Duke and Yugi seemed to sense he was upset and before Duke even turned the car on he reached over and put a hand on Joey's shoulder in silent support of his friend as Yugi reached over to his other shoulder from behind in the back seat.
As they drove back to the Black Crown Joey realized how lucky he was that he had such good friends as Duke and Yugi to lean on right now. Even though he wanted to see Mai later, right now he needed his friends more then anything and they were there for him like always. When they got back to the game shop Yugi followed Joey up to his room and stayed with him awhile until Joey felt up to calling Mai. Then Yugi headed home, he had to help his grandfather with a shipment that had come in today so Joey thanked him for his support and said goodbye. Duke had gone to his room to work on the game and Joey picked up the phone to call the only other person he cared about right now. Mai Valentine.