Ta-da! Comes the "orange-head". Don't own 5D's - I'm sitting here in deep-seated denial of the fact that it's over in Japan, for goodness' sake. And Zexal premieres tomorrow. (shudders)
People seem to like this fic, which is good to see.
-First Meetings: Crow Hogan-
His first encounter with Crow Hogan happened to have said guy punching him in the face.
It was really a big misunderstanding—one evening Yusei had been out walking, young and quite alone. A Sector Security officer had called him "Satellite scum" a few hours prior, and it had affected him so deeply that he split off from his friends and took a walk.
The night had grown later and later, the sky darker and darker, until Yusei could not tell the color of his own sleeves and skin except by memory. It matched his dark mood. Bitterly, he kicked a can and sent it scattering off loudly into the night, heedless of the consequences of being caught out past curfew.
I'm not scum, he thought angrily. I've never talked down to others, or pushed them around because I had more power, or locked them up because of where they came from! But they have…
He heard a sound behind him, like footsteps pattering through mud.
Yusei whirled around, breathing heavily as he checked for shadows darker than normal shadows. Nothing. He loosened up, but his heart rate did not slow as he turned to walk on.
As he thought of Sector Security again in the darkness his blue eyes flashed, and he growled low in his throat at the injustice of it all—in the meantime, his foot shot out and kicked another rock, which hit something with a loud thump.
Wait—had that been a building? Should he check?
At that very moment of indecision and confusion, someone or something crashed into Yusei, and he recognized the pain of a fist connecting with his cheek.
Sadly, he went down easily—but he came back up fighting mad. Still, his heart ruled his hot head, and he shoved his still-attacking assailant off of him with extraordinary patience.
He could not, however, keep from shouting: "Who is this? What the hell was that?"
"Get away from here, you—you scum! How dare you prowl around the home of some defenseless kids and expect to get away with it? I'll make sure you never bother—"
Yusei saw red. He listened for his attacker's pants of rage, somehow sensed the fist coming toward him in the dark and managed to stop it with his own hand; then he twisted the arm connected to that fist, pulled firmly it behind the other man's back, and his assailant shouted in pain. But he did not release him yet—after today, the stranger's words had just been too much.
"I am not scum! Security's wrong and you're wrong too—how could you possibly think I wanted to harm some kids? I'm a stranger to them and to you—you don't even know me!"
"Exactly," puffed his attacker; then he winced with both pain and surprise as Yusei pushed him roughly away.
The pitch-black darkness around them suddenly became dim light—someone was shining a lantern near them, brightening the two, letting them see one another for the first time.
Yusei saw orange hair matted with dust, gray eyes, and a black jacket with some kind of yellow bird drawn on it. The other young man saw black hair, blue eyes, and features as young as his own—not the 'attacker' he'd pictured when he heard noises.
Children's voices rang out then:
"What's all the noise?"
"Who's making that racket?"
"Crow! Crow! Are you okay out there?"
"Is someone else here? Is it safe?"
Yusei's face softened as he heard the children and then saw their dirty-but-angelic faces; the change did not escape the orange-haired young man's notice. With a sheepish smile, while brushing off his clothes and massaging one arm, he used the other to stop Yusei from walking off.
"Hey—I'm sorry. Sorry for attacking you like that. …You see, it's just that—well—"
Yusei held up one hand. He paused a moment before allowing himself a smaller smile than his counterpart's. "I understand… You have to protect those kids from any perceived threat. I respect that. I promise—I didn't mean any of you, anyone, any harm."
The other boy grinned. "You sure fight like you could hurt someone. For a minute there, you had the upper hand…. I'm glad you're not a threat. But what were you doing out here alone and past curfew, anyway? You suicidal?"
Yusei glanced toward the kids again—so loyal and trusting. They grinned shyly at him, and he gave them a thumbs-up back. I don't even know why I was so mad anymore. "…I was really upset earlier. I decided to take a walk—clear my head."
"Aaaahhh… so I was almost used as a punching bag, there." He called out to the children he'd seemingly placed under his own care. "Thanks again for waking me, guys! And for coming in the nick of time—you saved me from getting my butt handed to me by a harmless stranger. Glad to know I can always count on you."
They giggled and came closer, crowding around the two older boys, chattering, the timid ones pulling at the orange-haired one and the braver ones poking at Yusei and, when he ruffled their heads of hair, outright laughing and calling him "nii-san".
In the midst of all this, the orange-haired boy held out the hand he'd used to punch Yusei only minutes before. "So, are we good?"
"I'm Crow Hogan. And you, stranger?"
They shook hands; as they did the shy children smiled, and the bold ones became even bolder. One even leapt on Yusei's back, chanting: "Yusei nii-san, Yusei nii-san!"
Despite himself, Yusei laughed.
Crow gestured toward the small building barely lit by the children's lanterns. "Hey, Yusei. Come on inside, for a little while at least. If the kids trust you, I do too—and this isn't an area where you want to be alone on foot."
Yusei looked at the building, and then at the children wrapped around his legs and Crow's. He thought of his friends, and of his run-down home, and of the anger at Security and doubt in himself that had led him to these new people—these sweet, unquestioning children, and this inviting new friend, all of whom had seen him for who he really was and not dismissed him as a piece of trash. And for the first time that evening, he smiled his true smile.
"Thanks. I'd like that."
And he followed Crow inside with a lighter heart.