Okay, so maybe I am a pet. There are worse fates for my kind, and at least I know I always have a safe place to sleep and people who care about what happens to me.
It all started when Bakura Ryou first arrived at Domino High. Now, you have to know a little background info to understand the significance: first off, by that point I'd been living a double life as a wereleopard in a fairly gang-ish pard by night and a delinquent from a broken home by day for nearly a year. None of my schoolmates knew I was a Were, the teachers didn't talk about it although they did know (some law or something says the school has to know when Weres or vamps are students, I think), but everyone avoided me. They knew I was an outcast and a dangerous one at that. And most transfer students intuited that fact upon laying eyes on me.
Which is why I was so stunned when lunch time came. As everyone else was trying to get as far away from me as possible, Ryou dropped into the chair right next to the one I was slouched in and offered me a bright smile.
I didn't say it, but mentally I was going, Nyow?? I was used to being shunned or ignored by normals; Kaasan and Shizuka don't count since they're family and witches so... yeah. Ryou's behaviour confused me as much as it did the other students--hell, Honda Hirota looked ready to pass out from shock and he was just barely tolerated by the student body as a whole!
Before I could overcome my surprise and confusion enough to respond he was speaking again: "You looked a little lonely so I thought I'd sit with you. Aren't you going to eat? My brother thinks I don't eat enough and put a little too much in my lunch. You want to share? Oh, and I'm Ryou, but you know that. What's your name?" And that was all in one breath, too. I took a moment to just stare at him before finding my voice to answer.
"Jyonouchi." As an afterthought I added, "Katsuya."
"I'm pleased to meet you, Jyonouchi-kun," he replied with a bright smile. "So... want to share?"
I blinked at him a couple times before nodding a bit hesitantly. Truth be told I hadn't had a real meal for about a week at that point--Oyaji would much rather lock me out of the apartment than feed me, Hirutani couldn't be bothered with making sure any of the pard ate, and I'd just seen Kaasan the previous weekend. My 'lunch' plans had been to go sit outside and hope that a squirrel wandered too close. Well, yeah, they can be kinda chewy but when you're as hungry as I was getting....
Did I mention that Ryou's got one of those light-up-the-whole-damn-city smiles? He flashed me another one of those and began pulling food out of his bento. I knew my eyes must've been in danger of popping out of my head; hell, I didn't know you could fit that much in one of those boxes!! Ryou noticed my attention and snickered softly before pushing a few pieces of the meat towards me.
"I know, Niisan went a bit overboard, but I know he just wants to take care of me. The beef's pretty good, but Niisan likes it a bit too rare for my taste." I later found out Bakura's idea of 'rare' is to run it through a warm room, which is a bit too rare for even me.
Let's not even mention squirrels again, okay?
Anyway, back to what I was saying. I still wasn't too sure of what Ryou was up to, but the beef did smell good. Keeping my eyes locked on the other boy I quickly snatched a piece and bit into it before he could change his mind about sharing. He was right, it was good. Not too rare, and not too much spice added. I finished it in a couple of bites and grabbed some more, still watching Ryou.
His smile brightened a bit and he laughed softly. "I'm not going to take it from you," he said. "I can't eat this much by myself." As he spoke he pushed some more of the meat and a few pieces of broccoli towards me. "Besides," he added, the hint of a frown crossing his lips, "you look too thin."
...well, yeah, I was--and still am, actually--too thin for my height. Part of that comes from being so young when I was turned, the rest from Oyaji's oh-so-wonderful parenting skills. That's one of the reasons Kaasan's pleased that I don't live with Oyaji anymore.
I didn't really answer Ryou's observation, just shrugged and quickly devoured--yes, devoured--everything he'd put in front of me. Despite my bad manners he seemed pleased and started in on his own lunch. I could hear the other students around us whispering, but I was so used to that that I ignored them. Ryou frowned a bit but did likewise.
He stuck by me pretty much the rest of the day, shooting looks at the gossip mongers from time to time and politely asking Tekashi-san if he could move his seat next to mine permanently. Tekashi-san was a bit stunned--like I said, the teachers all knew what I am--but seemed okay with that. I think, in all honesty, that she was pleased that someone was making an effort to be my friend at a time when I really, really needed one the most. My grades were in danger of plummeting and I had no real interest in doing anything about it. That's changed a hell of a lot, but that's a story for later.
After the strangeness of the day I opted not to run with my pard that night, instead sneaking into the apartment and hiding out from Oyaji in my room. I didn't get much sleep since the bastard realized I was home sometime around midnight and kicked me out. I wound up wandering around the classier side of town, since Hirutani wouldn't be caught dead where the Master vamp of Domino might see him. True, Gozaburo really didn't give a fuck what the Weres did so much as they left humans alone for the most part and didn't start anything in the streets, but Hirutani was already on thin ice 'cause of my existence. Turning a teenager is illegal and all that, but the cops tend to let the Master deal with it. Although Kaiba senior didn't do much 'cept rip Hirutani up one side and down the other then gave him some kinda warning about not fucking up again. I'm pretty sure I know what that means... I'll get into that a bit later, too.
Eventually morning came, so I wandered off to school, half-wondering if the class spokesbitch Mazaki Anzu had gotten to Ryou yet. If so, I was almost positive that he'd never speak to me again much less share his lunch. I was pretty resigned to that fate. After all, I was the class outcast. Being shunned was nothing new.
Let me just take a moment to say I've learned not to jump to conclusions.
I was barely in the building when I could hear Mazaki and Ryou; I hadn't even realized Ryou could get that loud. And while others could only hear snippets of what was being said, I caught every word.
"You don't know what he's like! He hardly even comes to school and our class would be much better off if he dropped out all together!"
...did I mention that Mazaki's a bitch?
"And you do know Jyonouchi-kun?" Ryou snapped back--I later swore that he actually snarled--as I reached the door to our classroom. "I bet you never bothered to even talk to him. Do you even know his first name?"
"He's a low-life punk!" Mazaki returned, ignoring the fact that I was now in the room. "A complete loser! He has been for years, but for the past year he's gotten worse!"
Now that stung. It was a reminder of what I'd lost--of all that I'd lost--and I raised a hand to the thick leather collar around my neck. Yeah, Weres heal fast and all that, but Hirutatni's bite never faded. He damn near ripped my throat out; my collar is the only thing that covers the scars.
The bitch may have been ignoring me, but Ryou wasn't. And he had definitely noticed my reaction to Mazaki's words; in point two seconds he went from annoyed and mildly angry to incredibly, scarily pissed off.
Side note: a scarily pissed-off Ryou is enough to make the most jaded vampire whimper. Believe me, I witnessed that myself, but that's another story altogether.
"You know absolutely nothing," Ryou hissed. "About Katsuya-kun"--I swear Mazaki paled when he used my given name--"about real life, about real friends... nothing. Jyonouchi Katsuya is my friend, and if you don't like it...." He paused, glaring at the class as a whole (even the teacher's student-aide Kaiba Seto, who was on the other side of the room 'innocently' pretending to read an upside-down novel) and apparently trying to decide what to say to drive his point home. After a moment he smirked and concluded his thought: "If you don't like it, then you can all go fuck yourselves."
I wish I'd have had a video camera to record their reactions. Queen Bitch's eyes widened in shock and her mouth kept moving although nothing came out; Nosaka Miho gasped and delicately covered her mouth with one hand as her face turned bright red--for the record red clashes horribly with her hair; Honda fell off his chair, then swore at said chair as if it wasn't his fault he'd lost his balance; Se-Kaiba dropped his book and stared at Ryou. There were some other great reactions, but those were the most notable or amusing.
I just felt oddly happy. I hadn't really had a friend since before my turning and I had to struggle to keep from purring aloud. Somehow I managed to maintain a neutral expression as I remarked, "Yeesh, Ryou, I think you broke 'em all."
Ryou shrugged, still smirking. "They were asking for it. I think Niisan would have gone further, though. Oh!" The smirk vanished, only to be replaced with a slightly nervous smile. "You wanna come over to my place after school? Niisan wants to meet you."
My first thought was, Who would want to meet me? I pushed it away quickly. Ryou was being friendly and it was generally no big deal for the siblings of your friends to want to meet you.
Of course, if I'd've known then what I know now, I would have declined... and probably run the other way. But like I said, I've learned not to jump to conclusions.
"Sure," I said with a small smile of my own.
Well, there's chapter one of Cursed Gold. More to come, promise ^_^