The Comfort Of A Friend
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 Twenty: The Comfort Of A Friend
Joey called Mai and waited for her to answer. It took her four rings, after which she greeted him anxiously. She wasn't sure if he still wanted her over or not, but Joey assured her that he did, so she told him she was almost ready to leave.
"I'll be there in about fifteen minutes, Joey. Ok?" she said sweetly.
"Ok, Mai; see you soon."
Since the store was still open, Joey didn't have to go unlock the door. He looked around his room but it was pretty clean. It would be the first time Mai stayed overnight and he was looking forward to it. He figured they'd order something for dinner and eat upstairs, then maybe sit and catch a movie on television.
Joey continued to make his bed and then changed into a new shirt before heading downstairs.
Duke was down in the activity room, holding a gaming session, so Joey knew he would be busy for awhile. He was glad that he'd been able to take him to see his dad and still have time to do what he'd planned months ago. The gaming sessions were held twice a month and people loved to watch him take on any challengers that were brave enough to attempt to beat him at his own game. To date, only one person had ever done such a thing and that was Yugi Moutou.
It wasn't long before Mai appeared. She came right up to Joey, who could see her face expressing her concern for him, which made him feel bad that this situation with his father was worrying her so much. He held her hand as they walked to the elevator, and once the doors closed he pulled her close and hugged her tight, resting his head on her shoulder. She returned his warm feelings by reaching around his neck and stroking his back softly. When the doors opened, he was reluctant to pull away so he reached over and held the doors open.
"Let's get out of here and go order something for dinner. You hungry, Mai?"
She shook her head, "No, not really. I'm more worried about you, hun. Are you ok? How did the visit go?"
He shrugged and led her into the room he now called his own, after which he closed the door behind him.
"It went as good as you could expect. He's awful sick and looks like hell. He's in a lot of pain too, but even so I couldn't stop thinking about him dying. He really is dying..."
Mai sighed and sat down on Joey's bed, patting the comforter next to her, indicating she wanted him to sit down, which he did.
"Death is never easy to face, Joey. I know it must be really hard on you right now, but one way to look at it is that his passing will be an end to his pain. That's how I dealt with it when my favorite aunt died. She had cancer too and suffered horribly for almost a year before she finally died."
Joey trembled and was afraid he would break down and cry, but he'd already done that in front of her before. His emotions had never frightened her before and he doubted they would even now. That was when he decided to let it out and he leaned into her side, resting his cheek on her shoulder, which gave her the opportunity to run her fingers through his hair. He reached for her other hand and she eagerly gave it to him as he began to sob.
"Oh Mai, I feel so damn bad for him. I wish there were something I could do. You know what he said? He is leaving the house to me and said he wants me to sell it to pay for college. Can you believe that? /College/?"
Mai nodded, "Sure I can, hun. Maybe now that he is facing death head on, he is coming to realize how bad he was to you and how you didn't deserve to be treated like that."
Joey agreed, "I think that's it exactly."
He clung to her and let some of his grief out and she held him through it all. He'd never been so grateful to not be alone as he was right now. He found comfort in her presence, one that he couldn't in any other person's. She was his girlfriend and she'd come to be here for him, knowing he would be pretty shaken up after seeing his dad in jail. He admired her so much; she wasn't afraid of anything and she took the bull by the horns, no matter the situation.
"So, Jim, if you pay restitution for the injuries you gave your co-worker he's willing to drop the charges and you can be taken to a hospital since you are so sick you can't possibly take care of yourself anymore. As your lawyer, I highly advise you to take this offer; it's a one time deal."
The man in the gray and white pinstriped suit shifted position; he'd much rather be home with his wife, but then he was getting paid for his time so he tried not to care that he'd be late getting home once again.
"Fine, give me the pen and show me where to sign. I have had enough of this place. Not that hospital food will be any better, but at least I could get out and have a damn cigarette now and then," Jim muttered, as the man handed him his expensive silver ballpoint pen.
"Fine, you should be released to a hospital Monday morning now that I have these papers. I'll get them filed right away so that by Monday lunchtime you'll be in the Domino Oncology ward."
"Good, thank you for your hard work on this. I made an ass of myself and won't be repeating that mistake for as long as I live, which judging by the way I feel won't be that much longer."
The man held in a disgusted sigh, "Right, Mr. Wheeler. You just think about making your peace with whatever deity you pray to and being with your family these next few weeks."
He gestured to the guard and then stood to leave. Jim was in a wheelchair now; he'd walked when Joey had come but he'd used up all his strength doing so. He hated being in the chair, but it beat falling down and hurting himself so he let the guard help him out of the conference room and back to his cell in the infirmary where he was helped into bed and then soon fell asleep. His last thoughts were that his daughter would get to see him in a hospital instead of the damned jail and that made him smile.
Joey brought the Chinese take out that had been delivered upstairs to Mai; they had decided to eat in the living room and watch television. He grinned at her when he came to sit next to her. Duke was still downstairs and the shop would be closing soon which meant he'd be the one to let the people out of the shop after the private gaming session. Joey had gotten him something, which he put aside. It was one of Duke's favorites, vegetable fried rice and sweet and sour pork. He'd gotten sweet and sour chicken for him and Mai, which they had some rice with.
They ate, watching a documentary on penguins that made them laugh because the little black and white birds were so agile underwater; it was precious to see them as they'd not been seen before.
After they'd finished eating, they got up. Joey put the leftovers, along with Duke's dinner, in the refrigerator before getting two sodas and heading with Mai back to his room. It was strange having her over, but he was glad not to be alone. She sat in his desk chair and took off her vest, hanging it over the back of the chair.
Joey moved over and put the cans of soda down on coasters. He'd enjoyed being able to be more neat and tidy with his room and it was a nice feeling to look down at her sitting there in the chair he usually sat in to chat with her online in. He leaned down and gently kissed her cheek, her hand came up behind his head and her fingers buried themselves in his hair, sending chills up his spine. He moved down to her bare shoulder and then the phone rang. He sighed and moved over to answer it.
"Hi Joey, it's me, Serenity. Your little sister, remember? You sound like you're in the middle of something. I can call later."
"No, no it's fine, Sis. How are you?"
She sighed, "Oh, just wondering how it went tonight. You did go see dad, right?"
Joey grimaced; he'd just gotten the visit out of his head and was starting to feel better when it all came flooding back to him like a ton of bricks.
"Yes I did. He's looking pretty rough, you know..."
"He still wants me to come visit him, doesn't he?" fear was evident in her voice.
"No, nothing like that. He wants to see you. It's just he isn't doing so good, you know?"
Serenity sighed again as Mai reached over to Joey's hand, understanding he was upset again.
"I am going to see him, I don't care how bad off he is, I know he's dying, big brother. But if he died before I got to see him I don't know what I'd do."
Joey squeezed Mai's hand, "He's hanging in there and I have no doubt he'll be around at least a couple of weeks. He was walking and all. Even if he looked a little shaky, he was walking."
And it was true; he'd seemed like he might fall over, but Jim had held his own. Joey figured he'd need to use a wheelchair soon, maybe even by the weekend if he steadily got worse. It would be harder on both him and Serenity to see him like that, but the alternative was out of the question. He was still their dad and they loved him, no matter what he'd done.
"That's good to hear. I'm sorry if I upset you, I just wanted to talk to you, is all. I'll talk to you next week, big brother. Thanks for being here for me."
Joey felt bad, but all he could do was tell her it would be ok, even if it wouldn't.
"It's gonna be all right, sis, you'll see. We'll get to go see him this weekend and you'll stay over. Hey! Maybe we can see a movie and Mai can come," Joey squeezed Mai's hand again and looked at her with a smile.
"Oh, that would be great, Joey! I'm looking forward to see you and the gang again soon. Bye!"
"Bye, Serenity." Joey waited until she'd hung up first before he laid the phone back in its cradle.
He was glad he had managed to end it on an upbeat, instead of her feeling insecure about getting to see their father before he died. Now the old guy had to hang in there long enough for her to get that chance to see him and say goodbye, even if it was just in her mind that she said the two painful words: goodbye daddy. They were two words Joey knew he'd be saying at their next meeting, but saying them in his head rather then aloud because it would only upset his dad, and the last thing Joey wanted to do was to upset his dad right now.
Mai turned around in the seat and Joey moved to sit on his bed. He tried to get the image out of his mind of his father walking away from him after the brief hug but couldn't. Mai scooted the chair over and rested her hands on Joey's knees. He reached to them and smiled. Looking into her eyes helped, he saw all the love she had for him there and he hoped she could see his for her in his own brown eyes. She sat up and moved to the bed next to him and soon they were kissing. All thoughts of his father had fallen out of his mind, replaced with thoughts of being with his girlfriend.
Duke waved goodbye to the last of the people from the intense gaming session and locked the door behind them. He headed to the elevator, making a beeline for the kitchen. He hoped that there was something good in the refrigerator and he practically jumped up and down when he saw the take out boxes. He'd missed seeing Joey after they'd gotten back home, but it wasn't a surprise to him that his thoughtful roommate had ordered his favorite dish from the restaurant around the corner.
Joey is always doing stuff like that, though. He's really one of the best friends I've ever had. Duke thought to himself, as he took out the two boxes that practically had his name on them.
He went to get a plate and then dumping everything onto it before putting it all in the microwave to reheat it. Duke then went to get a soda and waited for the food to warm up. Tapping his foot impatiently Duke watched the plate spinning around and around in the microwave and he could hardly wait to get his fork into the vegetable fried rice and pork. After a minute went by, he pulled it out and grinned from ear to ear as he went out to the living room to turn on the television.
Since Mai is over tonight, I don't mind just vegging out in front of the tube a bit. Joey needs to keep his mind off his troubles and Mai is just what the doctor ordered.
The phone rang and it was answered before Duke could wipe his hands on a napkin to get it himself. He paused and listened to see if it was for him, and when Joey didn't call out from his room he knew it had to be either Yugi or Serenity calling. Letting his attention go back to the plate of food, Duke began eating with great enjoyment. It was perfect and he hardly paid attention to the nature show that was on about snakes. It was only when one bit the host that he noticed and laughed so hard he nearly choked watching the snake chomping into the arm of the host. It was non-venomous, of course, or it wouldn't have been funny or aired on television for that matter.
He laughed hard at that host grimacing and thought that he'd never pick up a snake like that himself. He thought they were neat to look at, but one that could bite was not one he would ever contemplate picking up. He coughed until he cleared his throat and then began eating again. These gaming sessions he held always ran past dinnertime. Although had he not been taking Joey, he'd have had time to eat, but being there for his friend was more important then his need to eat. And his reward was his favorite meal.
Duke felt really good as he finished off his last bits of rice and sweet and sour pork, and he switched channels to something else.
Not finding anything worth watching he got up and washed the plate and fork off, placing them in the drying rack before washing his hands and drying them thoroughly and then he headed to his room. He had a lot of work to do and he knew that Joey would probably not be in need of his company tonight. Booting up his computer Duke sighed and sat down relaxing for a moment as he watched the desktop come to life with the screenshot of Orgoth the Relentless, one of his favorite monsters. As the booting sequence finished he loaded his media player and put on his headphones.
If Joey needs me he can knock hard on the door since he knows I wear these when I am working like this. He grinned, thinking about Joey with his lovely girlfriend.
As much as Duke liked Mai and thought that she and Joey made a nice couple, he himself couldn't imagine being in a committed relationship at this point in his life. That didn't mean he couldn't enjoy being around Serenity when she came over next weekend though, but he was sure Tristan would be coming by to visit as he always did whenever Serenity was in town. He wasn't as annoyed by this as one might think because he knew Serenity had a crush on him and thought of Tristan only as a friend.
But as much as he might want to take her out, he knew that she was too young for him still. He let his mind get absorbed into his work and soon he was lost in thought as he worked on the new game. Seto had sent over a file in email so he opened it, reading the email that asked him to contact him when he got online. Duke loaded his instant messaging program and soon he was in a chat with the young CEO himself. It seemed that Seto needed his approval on the plot and Duke smiled into the camera as Seto looked on.
"Sounds good to me, Seto. I think it's a great idea having the guide offer choices of adventures either in the forest or towards the castle leading to the dungeon."
Seto nodded, "I had thought you'd approve, but before I went any further with it I needed to know for sure about the forest idea as we'd only discussed it briefly in our last net meeting."
Duke fingered a lock of his hair and nodded, "I definitely like the idea and think creating a Robin Hoodish character for them to face would be a nice touch. Go with it, I wanted to send over some drawings I did of the dungeon so here they come."
Seto accepted the file transfer moments later. Soon he was looking over the pictures, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.
"These are exceptional, Duke, as always you prove to be a fine artist. I'll get these over to my rendering team and they can get to work on the dungeon specifics from these. That was all I had for now, so if you don't have anything else I am signing off," came the compliment, and then the farewell that was all too familiar.
Duke waved and shook his head, "Nope that was it for today Seto. Have a good night and I will be up if you need anything."
Seto smiled and then closed his end of the video chat, leaving Duke with his work.
I'm glad he liked the drawings and I think his idea of having a forest challenge is promising.
Hours passed and finally Duke had to go to bed. He shut down his computer and headed off to the bathroom to brush his teeth and take a shower. After blowing his hair dry, Duke went back to his bedroom and was sleeping within ten minutes of getting into his pajamas and into his bed. Dreaming about the game he had such high hopes for.