Good 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 Twenty-One: Good News Travels Fast
Monday morning came painfully slow for Jim. But true to his word the lawyer did his part and it was sometime after breakfast that he was taken from his cell by wheelchair and driven in a van over to Domino Hospital. He hated that Daniel, the chump he'd punched, must have had heard he was dying and had pity on him to drop the charges as he had. One thing Jim Wheeler hated was being thought of as someone deserving of another's pity. But as he sat strapped down in the wheelchair in a wheelchair transport van he knew deep down that he was pitiful and he hated himself for it.
It is just my luck that I get out of there only to go die in a hospital. At least my little girl can come see me there, instead of going through what Joey did seeing me in jail.
Jim groaned in pain as the van bounced him around as they hit a series of bumps in the road. He couldn't wait to get to the hospital and get some more pain medication. While Jim was glad to be out of jail, he figured that some of his co-workers might try to come visit him, and that bothered him. The last thing in the world he wanted was to see that pig Daniel again. He'd had enough of that guy to last him the rest of his days, even that was only two weeks or two months, he didn't ever want to see him again.
After arriving at the hospital Jim was taken to the Oncology ward where they left him in a room by himself. There was an empty bed next to his own, but there were also flowers and stuffed animals so he got the feeling that someone else was in the room, but just wasn't in it right now. He tried to rest, but his back hurt really badly so he ended up on his side cringing as waves of pain hit him until the pain medication they'd given him began to take effect. After that he fell asleep and he didn't wake up until dinnertime, not caring that he'd slept through lunch.
At school Joey was restless. He really wanted to spare his sister the embarrassment of seeing their father in jail as he'd had to. He couldn't think of any way to make that happen though, so he sighed and tried to pay attention to the teacher. Yugi had told the rest of the gang about his father's situation. At least Joey hoped he had, only mentioning the cancer part and not telling them about his being in jail. But he couldn't be sure if Yugi had said anything about that or not until lunchtime. From the looks Tristan and Tea gave him he figured Yugi hadn't mentioned that his dad was in jail.
When class finally ended and it was lunchtime Joey found he couldn't stop thinking about Mai. She had a photo shoot today for a fashion magazine and he missed her a lot. She'd been wonderful to stay over with him until she had to leave Sunday to get ready for her shoot today. His cell phone rang from inside his back pocket, so he answered it quickly. It was Mai of course and she'd just wanted to check in with him to make sure he was all right. He smiled as he told her he was fine, looking around to see that he wasn't being listened to by anyone in particular.
Yugi was in line with him as was the rest of the gang, but they knew about his and Mai's relationship so that wasn't a problem. He told her he'd call her later or meet up with her online since he had to work and she said she'd be waiting. Then he turned off his phone and put it back in his pocket, glad it hadn't gone off in class since he'd thought it was turned off. Joey sighed as the lunch line moved slowly along, with Yugi finally able to get his tray and start through the assembly line of foods. Joey followed suit as did their other friends, but Duke was already sitting at their table waiting for them holding their seats.
Joey and the rest of the gang filed over after getting their lunches, sitting down in the same order they usually did. Yugi sat next to Joey who was across from Duke, with Bakura at his side and Tea on his other across from Tristan. The six of them always sat together at lunchtime and that was when they did the majority of their talking and setting up plans for the weekend or weeknights. Though Joey and Duke ended up working many weeknights together anymore so weeknight get togethers at the arcade were far and few between.
Tea smiled at Joey and tried to break the ice first.
"So Joey, how are things with Mai these days?" she asked.
Joey grinned, "Just fine Tea, thanks for asking. She's at a photo shoot right now and that was her that called me when we were in line."
As if you already couldn't tell Mrs. Gotta get into everyone's business. Joey added mentally.
He knew she meant well but it was annoying sometimes how she'd state the obvious at times just to have something to say. Bakura was next to speak but it was directed at Yugi.
"So how are things at the game shop Yugi?"
"Fine, we just got another shipment in of some really decent cards. If you want to check them out we can walk home together today if you want to."
Bakura nodded, "That sounds great Yugi, I'd love to get some new cards and I happened to bring a twenty with me today so I can get some packs or maybe a couple special cards if something strikes my fancy."
Yugi grinned and then everyone at the table fell silent. Joey held in a sigh that he felt over his friends feeling awkward about talking to him today. It wasn't like he /had changed/, it was his father who was dying and yet it looked like they were at a funeral by the somber expressions everyone wore as they ate. Joey finished his pizza and made an excuse up that he was going to go to the bathroom and he took his tray over to the garbage can, dumped the paper plate with its bland vegetables before sliding the tray onto the pass through that led back into the kitchen.
He sighed and then left the cafeteria behind heading for the bathroom. He didn't really have to go but he figured he could find some peace in there if there weren't any guys in there smoking. He hated it when guys would sit in there and smoke because it made you smell like the foul stuff even if you were not smoking, since it quickly filled up the bathroom. Luckily though it was deserted so he went into a stall and sat down, squatting on his feet on the seat itself so that if anyone came in they wouldn't think anyone was in there.
Images of his father shuffling away from him the other evening came back to him and he fought tears. He pulled his phone out of his back pocket and turned it on, about to call Mai, but then he decided against it and put it back into his pocket. He sighed heavily and wished he could go see his dad again sooner then the coming weekend. He missed him now that he knew he wasn't going to be around much longer and it hurt not being able to see him when he knew that he was in pain. Even if he'd been cold and cruel to Joey, he was still his dad and he'd love him in spite of the bad things he'd done.
After about ten minutes he got up and left the bathroom and headed back to the hall where his locker was to get his books for the rest of the day. He was rather tired, but it was more tired of being in school then physical fatigue. The bell rang and he headed off to his next class, psychology, it was a class he loathed because Kaiba was in it. But then he had Kaiba in three classes, this being the last one of the day that he had to put up with the oh so full of himself CEO thankfully. So he went to the room it was held in and took his seat, hating that there were three classes left altogether before he got to go home.
After Joey and Duke got home they both got ready for the evening shift as they both were working together tonight because one of the employees had called in sick with the flu. Joey was up front while Duke was working elsewhere in the store and helping customers when the phone rang. It was after six and Joey thought nothing of it as he answered it.
"Hello Black Crown Game Shop, can I help you?"
"Uh yes I'm looking for my son Joey. Is that you Joey?" came the voice of his father.
Joey choked and answered, "Dad? Hi, how come you're not calling collect? Everything ok?"
Jim chuckled, "Yeah son everything is fine. I got moved to Domino Hospital, the cancer floor and wanted to tell you my room number. It's 343, so you can come see me here next time."
"Wow Dad, you got out and they moved you there huh?"
"That's what I just got through saying isn't it? Now be sure you let your sister know I'm out of there and in a better place. The doctor here said I probably got a couple of weeks at least but I think he don't understand we Wheelers are stubborn sons of bitches and don't let people push us around," Jim's voice was cocky, a tone he knew all too well and Joey rolled his eyes.
"Yeah well Serenity will be glad to hear you're there now, I will call her and tell her your room number. Can we come see you this weekend still?"
Jim coughed and cleared his throat, "Yup, anytime is fine as long as it's before eight-thirty. That is when visiting hours end."
Joey smiled, relieved his father wasn't in jail any longer.
"Ok Dad, I'll make sure we get down to see you Friday night before visiting hours are over. I'm glad you called to let me know."
"Sure thing son. Now you get back to work, I didn't expect you to answer but I guess it was meant to be. I know that dark haired friend of yours that came to court with you don't like me too much. Can't say as I blame him after all the crap I did to you, but you don't got to be afraid of me no more. But I better get off the phone and let you go," Jim said quietly, obviously feeling remorse over how bad he'd hurt Joey.
"It's ok Dad, I am glad you called. I'll talk to you soon. Bye," Joey replied hoping that the old man didn't beat himself up over the past too badly.
That he felt bad about how he treated Joey was enough for him. He'd already forgiven him and was ready to move on. Just as he hung up someone came up to the counter with a game they wanted to buy. Joey smiled and rang up the game for them and looked over to where Duke was. Duke was working a small crowd of girls who were drooling over him making Joey's smile deepen. He admired how Duke was able to acquire new fan girls almost on a daily basis. After the customer left, Joey moved over to the chair behind the computer and sat down.
They'd run a mile in gym class today and he was sore. He was good in gym at least and usually ended up with a "B" for his overall grade whereas poor Yugi was lucky to get a "C" so he knew Yugi was sore too if he himself was. He pulled out his cell phone and dialed up the number to the Kame game shop and hoped Yugi would answer. After two rings Yugi's grandpa answered and Joey asked if Yugi was there. Mr. Moutou said he was and asked Joey to hold on while he told him he had a phone call.
"Yugi! Joey's on the phone!"
Joey grinned and waited for Yugi to pick up which wasn't long.
"Hi Joey! What's up?" Yugi's cheerful voice greeted him.
"Oh I just wanted to see how you were feeling. Your legs hurting like mine are?"
Yugi laughed, "Yeah probably worse because mine are shorter then yours Joey. But aren't you working tonight?"
"Yup, but guess what? Dad called, he's in Domino Hospital instead of jail. They moved him there so he is probably going to end up staying there until...well the end I guess."
"Oh, well that's better then jail right?" Yugi asked trying to sound hopeful.
Joey agreed, "Yeah I think so, but he probably doesn't care except that he can get out to smoke from the hospital. I hate smoking."
"I do too, but it's not like it's going to matter much if he does, so try not to let it bother you too much Joey."
Joey sighed, "No it doesn't really bother me that much, I mean I've been away from him for awhile so I am just glad we don't have to go back to that damn jail to see him this weekend."
"Is your sister still coming over?"
Joey grinned at this, "Yes she sure is. I am glad Dad got out of that place so she didn't have to see him in there like I did. It was pretty awful."
"Yeah it scared me just sitting in the parking lot honestly Joey. I couldn't have made it inside I don't think."
Joey silently agreed that Yugi wouldn't have been able to get past the guards, not that he was afraid of people, but the jail was just not someplace you wanted to be unless you deserved to be there. Trying to change the subject Joey asked how the visit with Bakura went.
"Oh he got a few packs of cards and hung out awhile and then went home. It was fine. Listen I better let you go Joey I don't want to get you in trouble with Duke or anything."
Joey smiled, "No problem Yugi, I just wanted to share with you the news about my dad. Have a good one bro'."
"Bye Joey, talk to you later."
And then Yugi hung up the phone, while Joey turned off his cell phone and putit in his back pocket. He was glad his father was out of jail but he wasn't going to call his sister just yet. He wanted to make sure that it wasn't some kind of mistake and that he was still there Thursday. Besides her knowing wouldn't make much difference, although it might make her feel better that he wasn't in jail anymore.
After thinking about it some more he decided he'd go ahead and call her when he was up in his room later. The shop didn't close until nine so he had two hours left to go before he got off duty for the night. About an hour later Duke came up and Joey told him about the call from his father and Duke looked pleasantly surprised. It was slow so they closed up about fifteen minutes early and Joey waited for Duke to let the last employee out before they both headed upstairs.
Duke went to his room and Joey went to his own room, thinking about his sister. He sat on the desk chair and turned on his computer, thinking that he would chat with Mai after he got done talking with Serenity. He picked up the phone and dialed the number to his sister's cell phone. It rang and after the third ring she answered. He was grateful she had that phone and that their mother had let him get it for her. It made things easier on him so that if he didn't want to talk to their mother he could call her and she could call him back.
"Oh hi Joey, I'll call you back on your phone from my room let me just get in there..." he could hear muffled background noise and thought she must have been watching television or something from the sound of it.
"Take your time Serenity. No hurry. I'm in my room so call the game shop and I'll answer," he replied, already having told Duke she'd be calling him back.
"Ok, I'll be just a minute big brother, talk to you then!"
He chuckled as he hung up the phone and sat waiting for her call. Her enthusiasm was charming and he was grateful things had worked out so that she didn't have to go to the jail to visit their father. He was thinking about Mai when the phone rang and he quickly snatched up the receiver and answered it knowing it was his sister.
"Hi Joey, what's up?" she asked.
He smiled, "Oh I got some good news, Dad is in Domino Hospital now, room 343. They let him out of jail so you don't have to go there to visit him and we can stay as long as we like."
"Oh that's great Joey. I'm so glad to hear that. To be honest I was having a real problem working up the courage to go to the jail. I am so relieved I don't have to now. Hospitals are much easier, but I bet he hates it anyway."
Joey sighed, he knew what she meant. But what Serenity might not have known was that their father had wanted to see her when she was in the hospital except their mother had absolutely forbidden it. Things had really gotten bad back then for Joey as his father had taken it out on him, both the fact he couldn't go see her and that he hadn't been the one to come up with the money for her surgery.
"It's going to be ok Sis. He is dying any way we look at it, but at least it will be there instead of jail. I think he will just be happy to see you, it's been over five years I think. Anyway forget about that, I just wanted to let you know he called me and told me he got moved today and I knew you'd want to know."
Serenity sighed, "I can't forget about it though big brother. I know Mom thinks she's done the right thing but I miss him. I can't help thinking it could have worked out differently if she'd just been a little more forgiving sometimes."
"Yeah well you know Mom Serenity. She knows best so don't think badly of her for wanting to do what she feels is right for you."
Joey said thinking how mad he'd gotten over this very thing over the years, and how he'd fought with their mom to try to get her to ease up and at least let their father at least see Serenity. But the stubbornness didn't just come from his father's side of the family; their mom was pretty darn stubborn herself. He bit his tongue to keep from saying anything that would inflame the situation because he wasn't sure if their mom had picked up and was listening in. He wouldn't put something like that past her; she was that overprotective over Serenity. But when it came to Joey himself she seemed not to care much about what happened to him at all.
"Ok, you're right, I know you are Joey. Listen I better go I bet you have homework needing done but I'm glad you called. We're still on for Friday right?"
"Definitely, do you want Mai and I to pick you up?" he asked.
She giggled, "Oh yeah that would be great! I can't wait to see Mai again. Ok, talk to you later then big brother, bye!"
He smiled, there was that contagious enthusiasm of hers again, "Ok bye Serenity."
He hung up the phone after hearing two clicks, which confirmed his suspicion about their mother listening in. He jumped up from his desk pacing the room angrily. He was pissed that she'd listen to their conversation like that. Well next time he had something to say he'd tell her to stay on the damned cell phone! At least that way they'd be assured of more privacy then the regular phone offered. He felt like kicking something or hitting something and he caught sight of himself in his dresser mirror and then he calmed down.
No, Dad is the one who breaks stuff, not me. I may be pissed at you Mom, but I am not going to let you push me over the edge like you not letting Dad see Serenity pushed him over the edge.
He ran his hands through his hair and felt his heart racing in his chest. He was just so furious at her at the moment that he didn't know what to do. So he did nothing. He knew that talking to Mai might help so he went to get a soda. Joey headed back to his room and loaded his instant messaging program and saw she was already online so he sent her a chat invitation. She soon accepted it and he saw her pretty face on the screen, as she posed for him.
"Hey handsome, how's it going?"
Joey winked at his web cam, "Oh it's going ok, how was the shoot?"
"Exciting, I was posing next to a tiger for some makeup ad. It was really neat. I have a few souvenir photos that are just awesome."
Joey grinned, then he looked down at his desk. He needed to get it off his chest and the sooner the better.
"Hey Mai? My dad called tonight. He got out of jail and is in Domino hospital. I just got off the phone with my sister and we were talking about next weekend."
Mai perked up at the mention of Serenity, "Oh really? That's good news Joey, he'll be much better off in the hospital. So is your mother dropping her off or are we going to get to go pick her up?"
Joey grinned slyly and rubbed his chin as if he was thinking while Mai fidgeted in her chair obviously wanting to be there to pick Serenity up.
"I don't know, my mom was listening in but she didn't /say anything/."
Mai's face fell instantly, "She what? She was listening to your phone conversation without Serenity's or /your permission/? I mean I know she's your mother but that is /just wrong/."
Joey frowned, "Tell me about it. I was pretty upset about it. I'm still upset actually. She couldn't talk to me but she can sit there and listen to what I am talking about with my sister like that. I don't think Serenity even knew she was listening either, that is what gets me the most. I know how her mind works unfortunately."
Mai frowned and put her elbows on her desk and rested her chin on her linked fingers, while Joey sat there with rage boiling over again that his mother would do that to his sister. Then he took a deep breath, counted to ten silently and it was over. He let it go as he looked at his lovely girlfriend, he counted all the ways he was lucky, and suddenly his mother and her underhanded tactics of trying to protect Serenity no longer mattered.
"So yes, we're going to pick her up unless Mom says something to the opposite which I doubt because Serenity was pretty excited about getting to see you again."
Mai smiled and unlinked her hands, putting them on her cheeks resting her chin on the heels of her palms.
"That is great Joey, I can't wait to see her. I think about her a lot too, I want to make sure we take a lot of photos so she has some to take home with her," Mai said with some excitement.
"Yeah that will be nice Mai. But we might want to wait until Saturday before we do that. She is bound to be upset about seeing Dad, so the next day would be better. Can you take us to the hospital too? You don't have to go in and see him or anything but he'd be happy to meet you."
Mai frowned, "No I don't want to meet him, but I will take you both, no problem. She does know about 'us' right?"
Joey laughed, "Of course she does Mai, do you think I would not tell her about how happy being with you makes me?"
"No...I just...never mind, I am being silly. I just had a thought that maybe you were embarrassed about our relationship, like admitting it to her or something."
Mai looked sad for a moment but then she smiled at her web cam, "Forget about it hun."
"I think I know what you're getting at and I am not that kind of a guy Mai. I am very proud of you and I am not ashamed to admit it to the world. Whoever pulled that crap on you in the past was a real jerk."
Mai sighed, "Yes he was...Thanks hun, for understanding."
Joey winked, "I'm the one who should be thanking you for all your understanding. Don't worry about it. I wish you were here, I'd show you how grateful I am to be with you."
She laughed and he smiled as they continued chatting for another twenty minutes, flirting casually and finally Joey had to go so he blew her a kiss which she caught and blew one back to him before they ended their chat. Then Joey went to the bathroom to get ready for bed. He felt like he was the luckiest guy in the world to be with Mai and he couldn't imagine the kind of jerk who would ever be so mean as to try to make her feel bad over being beautiful. To him she was the most beautiful girl around and he loved her with all his heart.
All the anger that he felt towards his mother was gone, replaced by love overflowing from being so close to Mai even if they weren't in the same room, the web cams made it feel like they were and it was better then he could ever have imagined. Before he'd come to live with Duke he'd had no idea just what computers were really capable of in terms of bringing people closer together, but he'd caught on quickly and made good use of the technology at his disposal. He was so glad he and Duke had gotten closer.
He knew that he was probably his best friend and Duke himself was right up there with Yugi in Joey's list of best friends. As he went back to his room, Joey looked and saw a light on under Duke's door so he knocked softly, then waited. After a few moments of silence he knocked harder, then he heard Duke call out from beyond his door to come on in. Joey grasped the doorknob and twisted it open, pushing the door inward before greeting his friend. Duke pulled his headphones away from his ear, resting them behind them on his head.
"Hey Joey, what's up?"
Joey smiled from the doorway, still holding the knob, "Hey Duke. I just wanted to come in and say thank you for everything you've done for me. I can't imagine what it would be like if I had stayed there. It was really getting bad and you stuck your neck out for me man. I appreciate that more then I can ever say in words."
Duke took off the headphones and stood up, then he came over to Joey smiling, "Aw Joey, it's nothing, really. We're friends man, I couldn't just sit by and let that continue once I realized what was going on and I know it was probably worse then you'd ever admit out loud."
Duke reached to Joey's shoulder and added, "You're that kind of guy and I admire you. You're loyal, you're hardworking, there are so many good things about you I couldn't just stand by and see all that destroyed. I know how it can be to have a dad who is physically abusive. Mine wasn't the best either, but we just have to shrug it off and move on. Like you have."
Joey nodded, "Well I just wanted to come in here and thank you for being my friend and for being here for me tonight. I know Serenity is pretty excited about coming over next weekend so I wanted to make sure you knew just how much you mean to me and how much I appreciate all that you've done. You have faith in me, like Mai does and that helps empower me to move on. Thank you Duke, thank you for being such a good friend to me."
"Hey, that's what friends are for right?" Duke squeezed Joey's shoulder and then pulled his hand away smiling broadly at Joey.
"Yes it's true, that's what friends do for each other, so you just know that if you ever need anything I'll be there for you."
Duke nodded and went back to sit back down, "I know Joey, I know you will."
Joey nodded, "Well I am off to bed, sleep well Duke, good night."
Duke raised a hand and waved, "You sleep well too Joey, good night."
Joey smiled as he headed back to his room. He felt so good to be here with Duke. It would be weird to sell the house, but it would be for the best. It entered his mind that his mother and sister could move in there and that way they'd be closer and she could go to school where he did. But he knew that would probably never happen, his mother had moved away purposely to put physical distance between Jim and herself and Serenity. Pushing the daydream away Joey entered his room and turned off his computer, then he turned off the light and took off his clothes down to his underwear.
One of the best things about living here was that he could sleep in his underwear if he wanted to and he didn't have to worry about anyone walking in on him and beating the crap out of him because of it. Which his father had before telling him he was being indecent and Joey shrugged the memory of it off, calling up the image of Mai smiling at him over the net earlier. He'd have to see if Duke would mind if Mai stayed over Friday night when Serenity was over because he knew that would make Serenity and Mai both very happy to have a girl's night in to play around with nail polish and do their hair. That was the last thought he had as he drifted off to sleep, the two of them doing girly things and having fun.