Silence reigned, and the click of the door behind him echoed jarringly loud. There had been a time when there was never a moment of silence in this place; when laughter could be heard, when loud voices rang above the buzz of the television, when footsteps sounded as the members of Team Baron went about their day – training and planning, testing out their latest moves and practicing their routines, or just plain hanging out and lazing around.
Now, though, there was only him, Kumon Kaito.
He could still remember the looks of utter betrayal on Zack and Peco’s faces as he dismissed them; the rest of the team had gotten off lightly, but for the two he considered to be his most trusted, his words had been harsh and his tone hard – he had had to be tough on them, especially them, because he couldn’t drag them into this battle, this war.
‘I don’t need people who can’t fight, and right now, you’re useless to me.’
And, there was only Jounouchi Hideyasu.
The leader of Team Invitto – or former leader, as Kaito soon discovered, Jounouchi had too disbanded his own team – had turned up at his doorstep, his usual smirk in place, but his eyes colder – sharper and darker – than Kaito had ever seen them. There was no explanation as to where he had been, where he had come from or even why he was here; he looked neither threatening nor particularly eager. But, he was clearly here, at Kaito’s doorstep, with a purpose.
‘I would like to offer you a deal.’
So, here they were – the two of them - no longer leaders of Beat Rider Teams, no longer young adults with naïve dreams and illusions about their futures.
After all, who would spend the time and energy to think of the future when they didn’t even know if they were going to live past tomorrow?
‘I got lunch.’
Even though the other man was not in the room, Kaito knew that he didn’t need to raise his voice to be heard, and sure enough, just as he was unpacking his own lunch – plain bread and a thin slice of ham; even the simplest of fares were a luxury now with the state that Zawame City was in – Jounouchi appeared. ‘I see you dropped by Keiko’s,’ said the bespectacled man, gesturing at a bag filled with a bunch of bananas, a couple of apples and a whole watermelon.
‘She stopped me on the way back,’ Kaito replied, handing him his lunch – which was also plain bread, though Jounouchi’s had tomatoes as well as a slice of ham – and nodding his head in thanks as Jounouchi handed him a glass of water in exchange, ‘She’s leaving town tonight; her family was worried about her and demanded she join them. Wanted to give us something that would help us tomorrow. She sends her love.’ At the last sentence, Kaito rolled his eyes; he could never understand why the girls were absolutely infatuated with Jounouchi. Even Team Invitto had been more like a harem than an actual dance team.
‘Now, now, no need to be jealous,’ Jounouchi needled playfully, though, Kaito noted, the light-heartedness never reached his eyes, but that was...