The Sun Scratched in the Stars
A Yu-Gi-Oh VRAINS fanfic
Summary: A boy on the run from a dangerous home situation falls asleep at a dojo in the countryside. Discovered and taken in by the owners, he grows to understand what love – and loss of that love – truly means, with the help of a rambunctious, fiery-spirited boy close to his age.
Ryoken blinked to adjust to the morning glow coming from the windows and stretched his legs, the adrenaline rushing to his head. He'd forgotten he wasn't by himself until he moved his hands, finding one of Takeru's in between. Heart racing and remembering the night before, Ryoken pinked.
Whatever embarrassment he felt, though, vanished as he looked at Takeru, still fast asleep without a care in the world. So, the little firecracker was capable of sleeping. It was strange, Takeru not bouncing off the walls. But Ryoken smiled as his heart pounded and he grabbed Takeru's hand, holding it tightly. He had so much trouble sleeping, but he hadn't wanted Takeru to worry. Ryoken still didn't understand what it meant, being friends, but he was sure it didn't bring others into the walls of one's messy life. Ryoken's fear—that was between him and Father. No one else.
But Takeru came crashing through anyway.
Ryoken relaxed, wanting to get up, but Takeru still held on.
"Ryoken..." muttered Takeru sleepily. "Stop moving so much."
"Takeru, it's morning," Ryoken sighed. "We gotta get up."
Takeru sprung up like a jack-in-the-box, eyes wide, hair in many directions, and he got to his feet. Ryoken was amazed how quickly Takeru can stop being tired.
"We need breakfast!" Takeru said as he grabbed for Ryoken's wrist, but Ryoken pulled backwards.
"Takeru, they don't want us seeing each other. It's gonna look bad if we show up at the same time," Ryoken said. "You can go first."
"No!" Takeru whined. "Come with me, Ryoken!"
"But we'll get in trouble—" Ryoken started. Takeru's eyes stopped him.
"If we do, I can take the trouble for us," he said, grabbing for Ryoken's wrist again. Ryoken didn't put up a fight this time. "I. I want us to be together. No matter what."
Ryoken's eyes widened. "Takeru..."
Takeru's eyes softened as Ryoken was pulled to his feet. Takeru didn't let go of Ryoken's wrist as he walked forward. Ryoken's heart pounded as Takeru moved his hand from the wrist to his hand, but Ryoken said nothing as he squeezed Takeru's hand, interlocking their fingers. The two made their way to the kitchen, but finding no one, Takeru scratched his head.
"Did they eat breakfast without us?" Takeru sighed. Ryoken looked back and forth at the unset table to the appliances in perfect order. Nobody's touched anything in the kitchen since last night. That was strange. Usually in the mornings the kitchen was bustling with activity, Homura obaa-chan or Ryoko standing in front of the stove, cooking all sorts of fish and rice for the morning, and Homura ojii-chan and Hisahito-san chatting or Hisahito-san reading the newspaper.
"Let's check Ryoko and Hisahito-san's room," Ryoken suggested. "Maybe they're all gathered there for something."
Takeru's arm stiffened.
"I . . . Daddy told me that room is off-limits," Takeru muttered. "Nobody but he and Mommy can go in there."
Ryoken raised an eyebrow. As strict as Father was, even Ryoken was allowed to go into the study sometimes. So Takeru being forbidden to go in his own parents' room didn't seem right. But Ryoken didn't push it. Ryoken, however, really wanted to know.
"I've . . . I've been in there before," Ryoken said. "Maybe they'll let me in?"
Takeru looked away, letting go of Ryoken's hand. "Okay. I can stay here."
Ryoken grabbed Takeru by the shoulders. "No. You're coming with me, Takeru. We need to stick together."
Takeru smiled, saying nothing more. The two of them walked to Ryoko and Hisahito-san's room as mumbled voices got louder and louder. Hisahito-san, Homura obaa-chan, and Homura ojii-chan were standing around a high-rise bed and didn't seem to notice Ryoken and Takeru standing at the door. They walked closer until they were able to see Ryoko, face incredibly pink, breathing faster than normal.
"Mommy!" Takeru cried out, running up to her, Ryoken behind him. The other three adults stopped chattering. Hisahito-san's face scrunched, so Ryoken moved closer to Takeru.
"It was my idea," Ryoken spoke up. "If you want to take it out on someone, then…. then take it out on me."
But Ryoken felt a hand gently grab his forearm. He turned to find Ryoko, softly smiling, eyes impossibly soft. It was the most docile he'd ever seen her.
"No one's taking anything out on anyone." Ryoko's eyes sharpened towards Hisahito-san. "Not if I have anything to say about it." Ryoken was about to respond, but Takeru bumped into him, grabbing Ryoko's arm.
"Mommy!" He had tears in his eyes. "Mommy, are you okay?"
Ryoko's soft eyes and smile returned as she threaded through Takeru's hair, making it neater, and held Takeru's face in her hand. "It's okay, Firecracker," she said. "Mommy just has a super bad cold. I'll be better in no time."
"Mommy..." There it was. That whine. Ryoken turned away.
"You heard her, Takeru. So don't bother her while she recovers," came Hisahito-san's gruff voice. "This room's off-limits."
A long sigh. Ryoken turned towards Ryoko, who was holding Takeru's hand.
"Hito, can't you see he's worried? Have a heart, will you?" Ryoko snapped. "He can come in anytime he wants." Then she turned to Ryoken. "Ryoken too."
Hisahito-san grumbled before he went over to his parents, talking with them in hushed tones. Homura obaa-chan continually nodded while Homura ojii-chan looked straight at him, expression like Hisahito-san's earlier expression. Then Homura ojii-chan sighed as the three of them walked out. Ryoken turned his attention back to Ryoko and Takeru.
"Mommy, are you sure you feel okay? You dun look so good," Takeru said. Ryoken had to agree. Her face was unusually red, almost like the tomatoes in the grandparents' garden.
Ryoko, soft smile on her face, ruffled Takeru's hair.
"I must be a sight, huh?" she said. "I don't feel the greatest, but it's nothing I'm not used to."
Ryoken sighed. "It's just a cold. She's gonna get better. Stop worrying."
Takeru turned to him, nose all runny, which Takeru furiously wiped with his sleeve. "Easy for you to say, Pretty Boy. You probably never had a cold before."
Ryoken sighed again. The Pretty Boy nickname was back, huh? Well, two could play that game. "Well, Take-kun, I haven't. But it's a cold, not a terminal disease."
Takeru puffed his cheeks and huffed. "Hmph. Whatever!"
Laughter, however, interrupted the two of them. Ryoken looked at Ryoko, teary-eyed as she laughed.
"Oh my god, you two are just like them, I can't believe this," she said, trying to catch her breath.
Ryoken blinked. "Them?"
Ryoko smiled, though a few laughs escaped. "My dad and my uncle. Well, foster uncle really, but he's pretty much a brother to my dad. Speak—" A cough interrupted her. It was a long cough too.
"Mommy!" Takeru cried.
"I'm fine, Firecracker," Ryoko said, taking a swig of water. "Speaking of, Jii-jii wants you to go visit him and Baa-baa today, Takeru."
Takeru's eyes widened. Ryoken didn't think they'd get that big. But then his expression changed, and he looked at the floor. "I thought I was supposed to stay here and study. That's what Daddy said. No visits to Jii-jii and Baa-baa allowed."
"I took care of that," Ryoko said, glancing at the door. "You'll be able to go." Then she turned to Ryoken. "You too, Ryoken."
"Me?" Ryoken was confused.
"My parents really want to meet you," Ryoko said. "Dad especially. 'When's that white-haired rascal gonna visit?' he keeps asking."
Ryoken must've looked surprised because Ryoko and Takeru glanced at each other, then Takeru jumped in, "He means it lovingly! He calls me rascal too. He does it to people he likes." Takeru flashed the brightest smile. Ryoken could believe him.
"Like you calling me Pretty Boy?" Ryoken said without thinking. As soon as the last letter left his mouth though, he covered it with a hand, face turning red. Takeru's face too. Ryoko laughed again, patting both their heads.
"Exactly!" Ryoko grinned as Takeru pouted, face still a dusty red. "You're getting it, Ryoken. Get along now. Jii-jii and Baa-baa are waiting. Also, be sure to stop by Kiku's house on the way."
"Kiku's coming with us?!" Takeru's voice suddenly jumped several octaves. Ryoken covered one of his ears.
Ryoko laughed. "Someone's gotta make sure you don't get in trouble along the way. Yes, she is. Not that I don't trust you, Ryoken, but—"
"I got it," Ryoken said, not wanting to make any more trouble for himself. "She's visited your parents before, so she knows the way, right?"
"You catch on quick," Ryoko said. "You'll have breakfast and lunch at my parents', and you'll be back for dinner."
"Okay!" Takeru said as Ryoken muttered "Okay," at the same time.
Ryoko smiled. "Alright. Be careful in the city especially, Takeru."
"Okaaaaaaaaay," Takeru sing-sanged. But then his eyes changed. "You gonna be okay, Mommy?"
"I'll be just fine, Firecracker," Ryoko said, softly smiling. "Have a safe trip."
Takeru was the first to rush out the door. Ryoken wasn't too far behind, but then a "Ryoken?" stopped him in his tracks.
"Could you come over here a moment?"
Ryoken's heart sank. Oh no, what was this about? Did she catch Ryoken in Takeru's room last night? Had that been the final straw? Was that why Hisahito-san was acting so gruff earlier? Oh no, no, no—
"Wha-What is it? Am I in trouble?"
"No! No, absolutely not," Ryoko interjected. "But I need to tell you something important."
"Something . . . important?"
Without another word, Ryoko grabbed his wrist and directed it to where his hand was on her belly. Ryoken's face pinked.
"What, what, what's this all about?"
Ryoko laughed. "Just feel."
Getting over his embarrassment, Ryoken let Ryoko move his hand around her belly. Ryoken didn't feel anything at first. But then, something moved! Startled, Ryoken pulled his hand back.
"What is that?!" Ryoken jumped backwards as Ryoko laughed even more.
"I'm guessing you've never met a pregnant woman before," she said. "I was gonna wait to tell you and Takeru, but the due date's coming faster than I thought. I'll just have to tell Takeru when you two get back."
"Pregnant?" Ryoken didn't know what that word meant either.
Ryoko smiled patiently. "It means I'm expecting a child. I had this cold when I was pregnant with Takeru too."
"Wait . . ." Ryoken had never asked Father where babies came from, but the story he got when he asked Dr. Aso, Dr. Taki, and Dr. Genome was about some bird that delivered babies from the heavens. Nothing about people having babies inside them. "Doesn't a bird bring the babies? So how does a baby get inside then?"
Ryoko's face pinked, then she cleared her throat. "You'll have to ask my parents."
Ryoken scratched his head but accepted that maaaaybe human babies weren't delivered by birds. Another thing Father's coworkers were wrong about. "So, when's the baby coming out?" Ryoken asked, looking at Ryoko's stomach. Ryoko certainly didn't look like someone who had a baby inside her.
Ryoko softly smiled. "Doctor said in about six months, maybe earlier. We find out if Takeru's getting a baby brother or a baby sister next month."
Ryoken was extremely fascinated. Ryoko's stomach was so warm. And it had another life inside. He thought back to when he was at Kiku's and held her baby brother. Such a helpless, hopeless, yet happy little baby he was. And to think the Homuras would have such a small being in their own home in half a year.
To think Takeru was small like that once. Still helpless and hopeless, though. A helpless, hopeless boy who had his heart.
Humans really were fascinating. Why did Father dislike them so much?
Ryoken snapped out of his daze as he pulled his hand back. "Sorry, Ryoko," he muttered.
Ryoko cupped a hand around Ryoken's face. Ryoken's face warmed at the touch. "Don't apologize, okay? It's fine to be curious about these things." She let go. "That's all I wanted to tell you. But don't tell Takeru yet, okay?"
Ryoko smiled. "Alright. Get along now. And be careful."
Ryoken took a good look at Ryoko one last time. She seemed to have improved tremendously since he and Takeru barged in. Smiling to himself, Ryoken closed the door.
Ryoken covered both his ears. "Takeru, you don't have to be so loud."
"What took you so long? We gotta get going! I'm hungry!" Takeru said.
"Right, right," Ryoken said, slinging his satchel over his shoulders. "Let's go to Kiku's then."
The pair put on their shoes and headed out the door. Ryoken had expected Takeru to shoot off ahead, since he obviously knew the way to Kiku's house better than he did. But, instead, Takeru stood next to him, wrapping his upper body around Ryoken's arm.
"What are you doing?"
"Making sure you stay with me, Pretty Boy." Takeru grinned. "So you dun get lost."
Takeru did have a point. The town was small compared to the city he was in all those months ago, but he could very well still get lost. And add going to another city on top of that? A real challenge.
But was he going to admit Takeru was right? Not a chance.
"That's my line, Take-kun," Ryoken said with a smirk. "Don't go running off."
"Humph!" Takeru pouted, holding Ryoken's arm tighter. "I know this town real well. I wunt get lost."
"Whatever you say."
The two walked farther along until they reached the outside of Kiku's house. Ryoken didn't see anyone waiting outside, so maybe they had the wrong house. But then loud footsteps, as though they were running and stomping at the same time, came toward them.
Ryoken untangled and distanced himself just in time before Takeru was attacked from behind. Takeru wobbled but somehow was able to stay on his feet. When Ryoken finally figured out what was going on, he saw a girl in a gold dress with sparkling blue shoes, dark blue hair in various fancy braids. Ryoken blinked.
But Kiku paid him no mind as she held onto Takeru, who was giggling.
"I missed you so much, Takeru!"
"I missed you too, Kiku!" Takeru said back with the same amount of energy. Ryoken smiled, but it didn't last long, Kiku's overreaction to seeing Takeru finally getting to him. They wouldn't have gone so long without seeing each other if it weren't for him. Sure, Kiku didn't seem bothered when he was with her, but there's no reason she would want to have anything to do with him after that.
But while Ryoken was deep in thought, Kiku had gone right up to him. Ryoken let out a surprise gasp. Kiku smiled.
"Welcome back, Ryoken," she said, grinning.
"Welcome back?" Takeru scratched his head. "Kiku, what does that mean?"
Kiku took a deep breath, but Ryoken put a hand out, interrupting her. She pouted.
"Fine, you can admit it then," Kiku huffed.
"Admit what?" Takeru was visibly even more confused. Not that Ryoken could blame him.
Ryoken sighed. "When . . . when I ran away, when everyone was looking for me, I was here, Takeru. I was hiding in Kiku's room."
"Really?!" Takeru grabbed Ryoken by the shoulders, shaking him. "Ryooooken, whyyyyyy?"
Ryoken looked to the side, then at Kiku, who was nodding encouragingly. But, losing the amount of courage he had, he said, "I'll. I'll tell you later. We need to get going, right?"
Takeru stared for the longest, as if trying to stare the truth out of him. Ryoken wouldn't budge. Both Takeru and Kiku sighed at the same time.
"True. I'm very hungry." Kiku held a hand to her stomach. "Mama said I had to have breakfast at Jii-jii and Baa-baa's place."
"Mommy said that too," Takeru nodded. "Let's go then!" he said, grabbing Ryoken's hand. Ryoken's face pinked. "I want food!"
"Uh...huh," Ryoken responded, his face getting shades of pink darker as he looked at Kiku, who had a very smug expression on her face.
"Let's go, you lovebirds," Kiku teased. Ryoken thought his face would combust.
And Takeru absolutely did not help the situation. "Lovebirds? I like birds, yeah, but—"
"Takeru!" Ryoken said as he yanked Takeru along. Kiku's laughter carried them as they made their way to a large, crowded bus station in a city close to town. People crossing in many directions, talking on their phones or in groups. There were even swarms of people in dark business suits and briefcases, running to the buses they needed. Ryoken couldn't help but stare at the large colorful buses, taking in the smell of a strong, noxious odor.
"Ryoken, let's go," Takeru said as he pulled, snapping Ryoken out of the daze he was in. The trio made their way to a bus that had green and blue stripes painted on the sides and a picture of a chocolate cake on the side with pink lettering. They got on the steps, Kiku in front, Takeru in the middle, Ryoken in the back. After Kiku handed the bus driver the tickets and gestured towards Takeru and Ryoken, the bus driver looked at them carefully but said nothing. So, the three went on their way to pick out seats.
The trio settled on a group of four by a window—two facing the front, two facing the back. Ryoken was going to let Kiku and Takeru sit together, but Takeru was weirdly insistent on sitting next to Ryoken. Even weirder, Kiku agreed! Ryoken sighed, telling them to do what they wanted. Takeru promptly sat, put his stuff at his feet, and wrapped an arm around Ryoken. Ryoken's face pinked, but he said nothing, turning to the window.
The bus revved its engine and left the station. Ryoken stared wide-eyed as the walls of the stations turned into the concrete jungle buildings, zooming past crowds of all kinds of people, from the babies and kids like Ryoken to the adults like Ryoko and Hisahito-san and even older. Eventually that crowd gave way to rolling fields, full of flowers and swirling patterns in fields of grass—rice paddies. Ryoken recognized the patterns from one of his science books.
Before long, Takeru had fallen asleep against Ryoken, head on his shoulder. Kiku, to Ryoken's discomfort, had a cheeky grin on her face.
"So, you two are really close friends now, huh?" Kiku said, staring at Takeru.
Ryoken huffed. "I don't know what you mean by that. Takeru says we're friends, so I guess we are."
"Never would have guessed." Kiku sipped her water from her sparkling clear blue bottle. "It makes me happy you two get along now."
Ryoken looked at Takeru, who had his mouth slightly open, cheek against his shoulder. He sure fell asleep quick. Ryoken smiled. "Me too. You were right, Kiku. About Takeru."
"As his best friend? Of course I am!" Kiku grinned. "Well, if Takeru says you two are friends, then that means we're friends too! Not that we weren't friends before."
Ryoken stared out the window, as much as he could with Takeru's head on his shoulder. "Friends, huh?"
"Is that a problem?"
"No, no!" Ryoken waved his hands. "It's just . . . Takeru says we're friends. You say we're friends. But I . . ." Ryoken looked down at the floor. ". . . I don't know what that means. I've never had friends before."
Much like with Takeru, Ryoken had half-expected Kiku to make fun of him. But, instead, Kiku sat back in her seat. "It means we're not lonely when we're with each other, Ryoken," she said. "And that we're alike in some way. And we help each other when things are tough, and maybe when they're not so tough too."
"Then . . ." Ryoken bit his bottom lip. " . . . I'm a lousy friend, Kiku. You two've done so much to help me, but all I've done is cause trouble."
Kiku looked to the sleeping Takeru on his shoulder and drank more of her water. "I wouldn't be so sure about that," she said. Before Ryoken could say anything, however, Kiku suddenly looked out the window. "Oh, our stop's coming up! Get your stuff!"
Ryoken shook Takeru, who lazily opened his eyes and groaned. "Come on, Takeru, get up. We're here."
Takeru's eyes widened as he sat up in his seat, and the trio made their way to the front, bags in tow. When they got to their stop, Ryoken was the first to get off the bus, followed by Takeru and Kiku. Ryoken marveled at the blue steel buildings that reached high in the sky, shimmered white in the sun. He stood still, taking in the frantic energy of the people crowding around him, going in many directions. But, something about the tall buildings, especially the one building with red on top, looked familiar, as though he'd seen them in a book somewhere before . . .
He saw a sign mentioning "Neo-Do—". He hadn't finished reading before someone grabbed his wrist, pulling him away from the crowd. He turned and saw Takeru, tightly holding on to him.
"Come on, Ryoken!" Kiku huffed. "We have to stick together."
With a noise of acknowledgement, Ryoken was dragged through the busy city, avoiding collisions multiple times, until finally, the bustle dwindled to only a handful of people. Tall skyscrapers and concrete sidewalks full of groups of people gave way to fancy, multi-floor, pastel houses with endless-looking steps engraved in the hilltops with virtually no people walking by. Ryoken had most definitely seen this in a book he secretly read in his father's study.
"Kiku, Takeru," Ryoken finally spoke up as they walked along," where exactly . . . are we?"
"Oh! We're in Jii-jii and Baa-baa's neighborhood!" Takeru grinned.
Ryoken thought his braincells would disintegrate on the spot.
"No, Take-kun. What city are we in?"
"Heeeeeeeh? Take-kun, huh?" Kiku said as she walked backwards next to Takeru. "I knew you two were getting along, but now you got a pet name?"
Takeru's face turned multiple shades of red, but he still held on to Ryoken's hand. "Sh-shut up," Takeru mumbled. Ryoken and Kiku looked at each other and laughed at Takeru's sudden sheepishness.
"Anyway, welcome to Neo-Domino, Ryoken!" Kiku said, spreading out her arms. Then she looked upward, as though deeply thinking. "Though . . . I guess this is really Tops, but still part of Neo-Domino."
Ryoken's eyes widened. "Did. Did you say Neo-Domino?"
"Yeah?" Kiku tilted her head. "Why you ask?"
Ryoken's mouth dropped. No way. No way, were Takeru's other grandparents really . . . ?
Before Ryoken could finish his thought, Takeru took off running, and Ryoken struggled to keep up as Kiku chased after them.
"JII-JII, BAA-BAA, WE'RE HEEEEEEEEERE!" Takeru yelled at the loudest volume possible as Ryoken's eardrums pounded. They finally stopped at the only house not situated on a hill in the neighborhood, the house neatly decorated with rosebushes and all sorts of perennials and blue and white flowers that Ryoken recognized from the garden back at Father's place. The path leading to the door was a walkway that looked as though it was recently painted.
Suddenly, the door at the end of the walkway opened, and Ryoken's eyes widened as he took in the older man standing there. An older woman appeared next to him, and Ryoken wasn't sure how wide his eyes could get.
"Takeru, you don't need to shout," the older man grumbled as he walked – shockingly at a regular pace – towards the three of them. "You in rich people territory. They don't like all that shouting."
"Jii-jii's right, Takeru," the woman spoke softly. "They didn't like it when I was a kid, and they certainly don't like it now. That's the way it is, unfortunately."
"Sorry, Jii-jii, Baa-baa," Takeru said.
The closer the older man and older woman was to them, the more surprised Ryoken got. There was no mistaking it. Their hair was a lot grayer than the pictures and videos he saw, but nothing else was different. The man had the same M-shaped criminal marker on his forehead and the two lightning bolt ones on the cheeks and bright, spiky orange hair as him. The woman had the same signature front twin tail purple hair style as her. It had to be them. Two of his heroes, right in front of his very eyes. Here in Neo-Domino.
They were Ryoko's parents and Takeru's other grandparents?!
The older man looked at Takeru and Kiku and smiled. "All good. It's good to see ya again, Takeru, Kiku." Then he looked straight at Ryoken. Ryoken thought his heart would burst out of his chest. "And finally nice to meet ya, Ryoken!"
"Hold on," the older woman said. "Let Takeru introduce him to us and us to him. It's part of his studying, remember?"
"No, but I'll take your word for it," the older man sighed, his eyes softening as he looked at her. Ryoken's heart felt it could burst. It just had to be. They were in Tops. They were in Neo-Domino, the birthplace of one of the most legendary dueling teams. It had to be.
Takeru smiled big. "Right! Jii-jii, Baa-baa, this is Ryoken. Ryoken, this is Jii-jii and Baa-baa, but their actual names—"
It had to be them.
"You're . . ." Ryoken interrupted, swallowing hard. "Crow Hogan-san and Izayoi Aki-san . . . right?"