A Sad Visit, Tragic News
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.
Dog Days Chapter Twenty-Four: A Sad Visit, Tragic News
Monday came and went and Tuesday Joey had overseen the truck that came to take the remaining furniture, his father's double bed, the couch and the kitchen table and chairs all being loaded onto the truck. It was now Thursday and tomorrow they would be getting his sister to have her over again for the weekend. Their father was getting weaker by the day and Joey wasn't sure he'd be able to hang on until Serenity got to see him one last time. He had seen him just last night and he'd looked really bad, his skin was gaunt and gray, his hair was even falling out rapidly from malnutrition even though he was still eating as much as he could keep down.
Duke would be the one to drive him to pick up his sister as Mai was off shooting a commercial that weekend. She was leaving in the morning and Joey missed her. It was the second weekend in a row she'd be gone and he wished she could be with him when he went to see his dad Friday night. As Duke drove them home Joey looked out the window feeling really depressed about his father. The conversation last night had been short as he'd been too tired for a long visit and that had been obvious from the way he'd had trouble keeping his eyes open.
Duke had taken him and was surprised when Joey had come out after only five minutes, but that was as much as his father was able to stay conscious for. Joey was afraid that he might fall into a coma at any time and the time of his passing was definitely growing nearer. He watched the buildings go by and ran the conversation of last night over in his mind again. How Jim had told him to always be there to help his sister, to share the money from the house to help her get into college too. Which Joey had already planned on doing, but hearing it from his father made it even more real to him that the man was dying, deteriorating right before his eyes, each day growing weaker and weaker.
'It is so sad he didn't get help in time. He could have beaten this if only he'd gone to the doctor a year ago. I hope his pain ends soon, it hurts so much seeing him suffering so badly,' Joey thought sadly.
Duke pulled up in front of the Black Crown and the two young men got out of the lime colored Cadillac heading inside, each with their backpacks slung over their shoulders. Duke understood how sad Joey was, and he'd even offered to play him in backgammon last night after they'd returned home but Joey declined, opting to go chat with Mai for awhile before going off to bed. He knew Duke was worried about him, but when it was all said and done Joey knew his father was dying, that wasn't going to change and he knew it. He was handling it as best as he could and having friends trying to cheer him up helped even if he didn't visibly lighten up, he felt lighter in his heart.
They both went upstairs to get their homework out of the way. Duke reminded him that tonight was pizza night so at the mention of this Joey smiled and chuckled, which in turn made Duke grin as he went to his room waving to Joey as he disappeared into his own. It was nice having his own money and being in charge of his life, but part of him missed his father. He wished things had been different, but he knew there was nothing that could be gained from wallowing in the 'what if's' and 'could have beens' that haunted him so much lately. He shook it off and focused on his homework and soon he was only thinking of the Math problems he had to finish before the reward of pizza could be enjoyed.
It was the next day after school when Joey found his thoughts back on his dad again. As they were driving into Maples to pick his sister up from the library. Joey was a little frustrated with his mother for not letting him just pick his sister up at the apartment they lived in, he found it insulting that she didn't trust him with the location and even worse that she'd forbidden Serenity from telling him where exactly they lived. Duke had remained quiet as they drove along, only the radio playing broke the silence between the young men. It wasn't long before they were at the Maples Library and Serenity came out with two backpacks like last time.
She got in the car and Duke greeted her warmly, "Hello Serenity, you're looking well. Nice to see you again."
"Hi Duke! Thanks for picking me up. I am so anxious to go see Dad. Do you think we can stop by there on the way back?"
Joey frowned, he'd have to call and see if that would be ok with their dad. He pulled out his cell phone and called the hospital, asking for room 343.
"Let me ask him ok Sis? I'll just be a minute..."
A nurse answered and Joey asked to speak to his father.
"Hello Joey, is your sister with you?" came his weak greeting.
Joey swallowed at the lump in his throat before replying, "Yes, she's right here, we were wondering if we could stop by on the way home, are you up to having us visit now?"
Jim coughed and held the phone away from his mouth so that he could take a moment to clear his throat before he answered.
"Sure son, come on down. I don't feel really good so it will have to be a short visit but I'd love to see you kids."
"Ok then Dad, we'll be there in about half an hour."
"All right Joey, see you then son. Bye."
"Good bye Dad," Joey said, fighting tears.
Something told him that this might be the last time they got to see Jim conscious and he felt like racing to the hospital.
"Hey Duke? I think we should hurry up and get there soon. He didn't sound too good at all."
"Oh no! What do you mean Joey? He's ok isn't he?" Serenity cried.
Joey shook his head still fighting tears he refused to let fall.
"No Sis, I don't think he is ok this time. We need to get there as soon as possible and I want you to be prepared for the worst Serenity. He looked really bad last night and I know from how he sounded just now he's not any better."
Serenity reached into her purse pulling out some tissues, dabbing at her eyes to wipe away the tears she couldn't stop from flowing. She knew that the time was coming when he'd be gone and it hurt her deeply. She also knew it hurt Joey just as badly, if not more because he'd lived with Jim for all those years she'd been away from them both. Duke sped up to do five miles over the posted speed limit and it wasn't long before they were at the Domino Hospital. Duke dropped them off at the entrance and then went to park the car. He knew that time was of the essence and could sense the urgency Joey felt to get to his father's side.
Joey took Serenity's hand and led her to the elevator, then they quickly got on and he hit the button for the third floor. It stopped on the second floor and no one was there so the doors closed and then finally it opened at their destination. Joey walked swiftly holding her hand still, right to their father's room. A nurse was in there taking his blood pressure and Jim looked unconscious. Joey felt his heart pounding thinking they'd been too late and he was surely in a coma. The nurse smiled at them then looked back down to Jim with pity in her eyes.
"Is he...in a coma?"
The nurse shook her head, "No, but we don't hold much hope that he will survive the night Joey. His organs are all shutting down and...well you should be with him right now. I'll leave you three alone now."
Then she left and Serenity went to one side of the bed as Joey went to the other. His heart was racing and he couldn't fight the tears any longer, his cheeks were wet with them and he reached to the box of tissues pulling some out for himself and some for his sister, he passed over to her. She took them and blew her nose, which made Jim stir. He opened his eyes and looked at her first and then turned his head slowly to face his son.
"Hi Daddy," Serenity said through her tears.
"Hi Dad," Joey said forcing himself not to cry in front of his father.
Jim nodded and weakly coughed.
He didn't say anything yet, just squeezed both of their hands softly and sighed.
Finally he spoke, but it wasn't what either of them wanted to hear.
"My time is coming. I can feel it in my bones kids. I don't think I'll be here much longer. I don't want you..." he paused to take a deep breath and then went on. "I don't want you to grieve too badly about me. I'm moving on to a better place and you have your whole lives ahead of you."
Joey and Serenity both squeezed his hand, as if the act itself could make what Jim said not be true.
"I am having trouble focusing you two. Tell your mother I'm sorry for all the things I did to her. And you know I love you both. I even still love her after all these years. I know she hates me but I don't care, I deserve it for how badly I treated her...and both of you."
Joey shook his head and tears fell that he quickly wiped away before his dad caught sight of them, but his eyes seemed some what glassy so he doubted he'd notice even if he looked right at him.
"Daddy please don't die..." begged Serenity.
"Darlin' I can't help it. It's my time to go, my number is up and there's nothing anyone can do. Please don't cry too much. I know you're sad about it, and I wish I had been able to be there for you more as you were growing up into such a pretty young lady. But it wasn't meant to be honey."
Serenity lowered her head, tears falling onto her pink shirt rolling down her face and neck. She was sobbing and shaking with grief, but Joey resolved to stop crying in front of the man who he'd forgiven for all his cruelty. Something clicked in his head and he felt his heart numb up, like a switch being thrown shutting down his emotions for the moment. It reminded him of how he'd done that consciously whenever his father had been beating him and he figured this was one time such a thing was useful, to keep his grief inside to be strong for his sister's benefit.
Jim sighed, "I told Joey I want him to sell the house. I want him to use the money from it to go to college and set some aside for you to go too Serenity. I'm sorry that I have been a bad father, to you and to your brother. You two support each other no matter what, and you'll be fine..."
Jim's eyes closed and he squeezed their hands. Joey felt his heart pounding in his chest, he thought that this was it, the last time his father would speak to either of them.
"I love you Dad, rest now. Just know we love you and you know I forgive you for everything," Joey said as he squeezed Jim's hand and then he brought it up to his mouth and kissed it, before putting it to his cheek holding it there for some long moments.
Serenity cried, "I love you too Daddy, you get your rest and don't worry about us. We'll make you proud I promise we will. You weren't a bad Daddy, not to me you weren't. I'll always love you."
Jim nodded but didn't open his eyes again, they could hear him wheezing with every breath and they only stayed a few more minutes in silence before then could see he was either sleeping or unconscious. Then with his arm around his sister's shoulders they left the Oncology Ward behind. It was to be the last time they ever saw their father alive again and deep down both Wheelers knew it.
The call came late; it was after midnight when Joey answered the phone. He'd been unable to sleep and when the doctor told him Jim had died in his sleep a few minutes ago Joey thanked him for calling/ Then he got up, tears streaming down his face as he went to the guestroom his sister was staying in. He knocked on the door and she quickly answered, knowing it was bad news. He told her and she broke down right there in his arms. He held her and Duke came out hearing her crying and came over to put his hands on both of their shoulders.
He didn't say anything, what was there to say? Jim was gone now and that was all there was to know. His suffering had finally come to an end and now his two children would have to grieve before moving on with their lives. The three of them stayed like that in the doorway of the guestroom for ten minutes before Serenity stopped sobbing for a moment. She looked up at Joey and then Duke and smiled.
"At least we got to say goodbye today. Thank you both for helping me to see him one last time. I think I'm ok now. We should all try to get some sleep," Serenity said with tears still rolling down her cheeks.
Duke nodded and squeezed her shoulder one last time before turning to go back to his room. Joey hugged her tight and then released her.
"Its ok Serenity. Dad's not in pain anymore and we have to start moving on. I will carry out his wishes though and put aside half of the money for you for going to college on. And I will see about getting myself enrolled once I graduate next month. It will be all right. I'll always be here for you Sis."
She nodded and then headed back into her room. Joey sighed as she shut the door and figured he'd wait to call their mom in the morning. It wasn't like she could do anything and he didn't even know if she'd care that Jim had finally lost his battle with cancer. He went back to his own room and got into bed, his thoughts on the funeral arrangements that had to be made. It would be a rough day, but he'd already secured a cremation deal, which was what his father had wanted, with a plot in Domino's main cemetery to have the urn with his remains interred. He figured the ceremony would be small and would take place Sunday afternoon or maybe Monday.
It didn't really matter to him just as long as things were going to be taken care of. He'd never felt so depressed in his entire life as he did right now. If Mai wasn't out of town he'd call her, but she was probably still awake. The more he thought of her the more it urged him to call her. So he took his cell phone off its charger and dialed the number to hers. After the third ring she answered, but it sounded like she was a party with all the noise in the background, but she moved away from it and soon he could hear her better.
"Hi Joey, I guess this isn't a social call is it hun?"
"No, I needed to talk to you. Dad just died. In his sleep and I feel so sad Mai. I know tomorrow is just going to be hell from telling Mom about it to setting things up for his funeral. I wish you were here Mai."
"Oh Joey, I'm so sorry, I wish there was something I could do. I should be home Sunday though, things went well here and tomorrow we're finishing up shooting so I will be on the first plane home that I can get."
"Sunday is fine Mai. Just hearing your voice makes me feel better. You got your laptop there with you? Maybe we could chat instead of talking on the phone. I'd love to see your pretty face right now."
"No it's in my hotel room, I'm at a party my agent absolutely insisted I go to even though I'd much rather be in my room talking with you hun. Are you ok?"
Joey sighed, "Yeah, I'm ok. I don't think Serenity is taking this too well though. She was really broken up about it and cried all the way here from the hospital. The doctor told me he never regained consciousness after we left so that was the only time we could have seen him. I am glad we both got to tell him we loved him and to say our silent goodbyes. If we had missed that chance I'd feel so much worse."
Mai sighed, "I know Joey. I can't even imagine how hard it is for you right now. Damn I wish I was home, I should have told Reggie to find someone else..."
"Mai your career comes first you know that. I am not going anywhere. I'll be here when you get back so don't beat yourself up over this ok?"
She sighed again, "I wanted to be there to hold you though, I know you need me and here I am out in California two thousand miles away. It just hurts that I know you're in pain and I can't be there for you right now."
He could tell she was on the verge of tears and he sighed, "Mai don't cry, it's ok, really. I'm fine all right? Don't worry about this. I love you my Rosewhip, now get back toyour party and wow'em for me ok?"
"Are you sure you're ok?"
He smiled even though she couldn't see it, "Yes I am. Now you go back to the party and try to enjoy yourself. If you want to chat tomorrow afternoon or evening then just email me and I will meet up with you."
"Ok Joey, I love you so much. Take care hun."
"I will, you too. Goodbye Mai."
"Bye Joey," Mai said before hanging up the phone.
Joey thought about her dressed up in a sexy outfit and wondered if she was the prettiest girl there. He figured she had to be since he thought she was the prettiest girl he'd ever seen and to think she was his girlfriend brought a smile to his face that stayed with him as he lay down in bed. Joey said a silent prayer that his father was in heaven now and that his suffering was over, but he couldn't be sure he was truly at peace. Tomorrow was another day, one he knew wouldn't be any easier to get through. His last thoughts were on Mai and that she would be back in time to go to the funeral with him.
The next morning Joey called his mom and let her know about Jim dying during the night. She wasn't surprised and wasn't sympathetic either. Joey wanted to slam the phone down he was so angry she couldn't at least try to act like she cared that the man she'd married and started a family with was gone. But he figured she'd spent too many years hating him to be able to feel anything but hatred for him. Still he hoped that she wouldn't be a problem at the funeral. The last thing he wanted was to argue or fight with her at Jim's funeral.
"Yeah it's set for Sunday Mom."
"Then I will pick up Serenity today and we'll see you..."
Joey fumed angrily, "NO Mom you're not picking her up today, she needs me right now so deal with it. You can come to the funeral and then take her home, but right now I am what she needs."
"Don't give me that Mom, you lost any right to Mother me years ago when you took Serenity away from me, but that's your problem so deal with that too. She is staying here with me until after the funeral. We're both really upset and you obviously don't care, so drop it."
"Joseph Wheeler how dare..."
"How dare I what? Tell you the truth for a change? Give me a break Mother. If you cause any scenes at the funeral tomorrow I swear you'll regret it. And you'll only upset Serenity. We need to be alone with each other right now, so this is the best place for her. Here with her friends and her brother."
"Fine. But we're not staying for the whole service Joseph..."
Again his anger raged, "Then don't bother coming, I'll bring her home afterwards. Oh I forgot you don't trust me enough to tell me where the heck you live, so then you can get her here tomorrow night. Seriously don't BOTHER coming Mom, I doubt anyone would miss your presence anyway, I know I won't since I am used to you not being around when I could use support."
She was silent and he wanted to hang up in the worst way but he didn't. He waited and counted to ten and calmed down enough to speak again.
"Look Mother, just leave Serenity with me until after the service at least ok? I can understand you stopped loving Dad a long time ago, but we both love him still. We're hurt he's gone, please just try to understand that. And if you can't make it to the service don't worry about it. I'd like it if you were there for us, but only you can make that choice. Ok? I'm sorry I yelled, I am just pretty upset right now."
"I'm sorry too son. I know I haven't been the best mother I could have but Serenity was all I could handle and your father...well it doesn't matter anymore. I'll try to make the service, was it at two you said?"
"Yeah two o'clock. Talk to you later Mom," Joey said as he prepared to hang up.
"All right, tell Serenity I'll be there. In fact she's going to need a dress..."
"I'll buy her one Mom, thanks for the reminder."
"Ok, well then goodbye Joey."
"Bye Mom," Joey said sadly as he waited for her to hang up, which after a few tense moments she did.
Joey was relieved that Serenity was in the living room. It would have really upset her to hear their arguing over her like that, but Joey held back so much for so long it was like a dam burst within him and he no longer could bottle up the anger he felt towards her. Now though, he just felt sad. They would have to go get her a black dress today. Another sad reminder of their father's passing. Joey sighed and stood up from his bed, heading out to the living room where Serenity was watching something on television. Duke was sitting in a chair near her, they both looked up when he entered the room.
"Hey Duke? We need to go to the mall and get Serenity a black dress for the funeral tomorrow. Do you think you can take us?"
Duke nodded, "Oh of course, no problem. Do you want to go now? The mall is open already and I don't feel like having breakfast. Do either of you want to eat something and go?"
Serenity shook her head as did Joey.
"Then shall we go?" Duke asked.
They both nodded and Serenity slowly stood up. She was in a daze and Joey wasn't much better off. Duke was worried about his two friends and vowed to do whatever he could to help them get through the next couple days. He'd been to a funeral before but never a close relative. Only his grandfather's funeral, which had been sad, yet didn't really bother him that much as he'd only met him a few times it wasn't like he really knew the man. On the other hand, seeing Jim in the court as he had was the way Duke remembered him and would probably always remember him, full of life and seething rage.
As they went to the elevator Duke felt really bad that Joey's father was gone, yet he also felt relief, now there was nothing to stand in his friend's way of making something out of himself. He would do whatever he could to help Joey find his place in the world and looked to him as his best friend. Even though he knew Joey would offer to buy the dress for Serenity Duke wasn't going to let him. It would be his gift to her, and though it was a sad gift, it would show he cared about the young girl. They left and soon were on their way to the mall, the radio playing softly as Joey and Serenity both looked out the windows of the car.
'I wish there was something I could do to make you both feel better, but I know the only cure for grief is time and that's something you both have plenty of,' Duke thought to himself as he drove them all to the mall.
Author's Note: This is the next to last chapter so if you enjoyed it please let me know by submitting a review. I can see the story is getting hits and I really want to know what those of you reading Dog Days are thinking about it. Do you like it? Is it a good Joey x Mai romance or do you hate it? Thanks for reading the story. I have loved writing each and every chapter.