Chapter 6:

The problem child

Yu-Gi-Oh! :Another story

Hanoata and Rukia sat in silence on the back of the wrap-around porch of their family’s home.
Hanoata was barefoot, still in her school uniform, tending Rukia’s wounds. Luckily, Ruki didn’t have anything that could count as a major injury; couple of scratches on her face, a few scrapes up and down her legs… the worse was her skinned hands. But those poor boys… Hanoata starred off into the distance.
Their immense house stood alone on the outskirts of town overlooking the ocean. She looked out at the horizon; the sun blazed a fiery orange and red as it set into the sea, and there was the tangy scent of sea salt in the air. Hanoata tried to make herself relax, but even the glorious sunset view couldn’t make her tense, stressed mind power down.
She was upset and disappointed; Everything had gone horribly wrong from the moment she first walked into her first day of class her paperwork and enrollment date had been messed up, everyone had whispered and glared at her horrible face, her homeroom teacher had further called her out on her appearance… and it all had only gotten even worse from there! Everyone treated her with a mixture of disgust, fear, and suspicion. No one wanted to even make eye contact with her! She was always alone. Even if someone had wanted to spend time with her, she wouldn’t have let them; everyone would only make fun of them and make them feel as miserable as she did.
She didn’t even know why she cared so much; she’d always been alone. It had been only her and the kids practically forever; she never had a ‘friend’. She didn’t know what it was like to spend time with someone who wasn’t related to her. She didn’t even really know what the term ‘friend’ meant! When it came to bonds between people and the motives and logic of the human mind, she was totally clueless.
She didn’t even really get why everyone treated her so poorly. At first, she assumed that she had been doing something wrong; she couldn’t understand why or how anyone could truly hate someone based on looks and poor judgement. She still didn’t understand, but she did know that she hadn’t done anything to deserve this treatment. Not that it was any comfort; it made her feel even more helpless and crappy than if she had actually done something to accidently hurt her classmates.
When she had found out she would be attending public school, she had been really nervous, but excited. It had been so scary moving to the city; before the move, her family barely had spent time in a small town, much less they city! Her siblings were all smart and had had more exposure to civilization and culture, but Hanoata didn’t even have a clue how to deal with people! Reading books about the human mind could only get you so far, and real people were nothing like the descriptions in the old physiology tombs she had access to; as much as humanity tried to explain and categorize itself, it was really quite illogical and explainable!
But she hadn’t realized that less than two weeks ago. She hadn’t even been worried about anything tangible; she was just scared back then for no reason at all! She had foolishly known nothing about what she was getting into and trusted everything to turn out perfectly fine. She had been stupid, so idiotically stupid!
As if her own culture shock wasn’t enough, she had to handle her plethora of younger siblings as well. While most of them knew as much about modern life in Japanese cities as anyone else in Domino, it was mostly from their long-forgotten past experiences, the internet, TV, magazines, and books. While they may have known how normal life worked, none of them knew how to actually put that knowledge into practice; none of them had ever been in a large population for long or been publicly educated or anything like that, and the changes and resulting stress had brought out hidden problems and personal quirks in almost all of them.
Hanoata had actually been worried about her sister Tamura more than anything in the beginning; Tama was always so reclusive and serious, and Hanoata had had a paranoid fear that Tama-Chan would have problems adjusting to her new surroundings or get pushed around by her classmates.
She shouldn’t have worried; fortunately, her sister didn’t appear to have any problems. Tama had been elected class president, placed first in all the freshman test rankings, was unanimously accepted onto the cheerleading team as a late recruit and was extremely popular. She was intelligent, ridiculously polite and formal, and, while not overly social or super friendly, she was more fun and likable than her sisters. While extremely, popular she only had a few ‘friends’ but that was more than Hanoata and Rukia had! Some of the girls from Tama-Chan's class had come over before, and Hanoata thought they were quite nice. People thought that Tama’s formality and seriousness were hilarious, but other than being teased a bit for that oddity, Tama was very popular and respected; she was widely considered the only normal one of the Atsuka sisters.
Tama may have easily fallen into life as a high school freshman, but Ruki, on the other hand… She hadn’t taken to the changes well. She had clashed with the principle even before they had started school; she had flat out back-talked him and behaved rudely to his face when they first met him to enroll! She disregarded the rules, disrespected the teachers, and taunted her fellow freshmen. She fought all the time. Hanoata had tried to be patient with her, but it was getting old and starting to grate on her nerves.
Ruki just loved fighting and shedding blood; she had a real, sadistic love of blood, and didn’t seem to really care or realize that her bloodlust actually hurt people. She struggled with all the things she was expected to know and learn and was unable to comprehend how to behave in public. She just couldn’t wrap her mind around how civilized social conduct and society’s rules worked. It was as if her mind was wired totally different than her siblings.
Homework was another issue altogether. Ruki HATED it. She struggled, she got angry, and she could barely make it through their family’s study time without having a meltdown; half the time, the younger ones would end up scrambling away as she screeched and flung a textbook across the room. Hanoata tried her best to help her, but she couldn’t; it was like Ruki’s mental state was unstable and incompatible with living a regular life. She had been able to handle Ruki’s instability when her sister was a child, but this was on another level altogether; this time, her sister’s mental disturbance was rooted extremely deep and wasn't just sheer sadism or violent outbursts or something she was physically able to stop. Hanoata didn’t know if there was anything she could actually do for Ruki-Chan this time around.
“Hurry up, idiot, this is boring.” Ruki broke the painful silence in her typical manner.
Mentally sighing, Hanoata wrapped up Ruki’s hands. They were injured the worst, but it was only the result of skinning them on the pavement; the boys had landed a few punches and managed to scratch her up, but that was nothing compared to what her sister had done to them!
Ruki stared off carelessly at nothing, oblivious to her elder sister’s frustration and internal turmoil. The fact that she was now expelled didn’t seem to have any significance to her whatsoever. To her, it probably registered of even less significance than brushing her teeth.
Hanoata was annoyed and on the verge of a rare outburst of true anger; she tried as hard as she could for all her siblings and she wished Ruki would just stay out of trouble, if for no other reason than to make things easier on her. Rukia was making things worse and unraveling their new life. If she kept this up…people were already talking about her sister’s near demonic strength and speed. While humans were confusing and pretty illogical, their sixth sense was generally exactly on point; how much longer would her family be able to keep their true nature and identity’s a secret? If Rukia kept on this path…!
It wasn’t only the secrets she was hiding that worried her.
The stress of managing Rukia on her own was starting to wear on Hanoata's nerves and she could tell that it was having a negative effect on her mental state. It was slowly chipping away at her sanity; how long would it take for her to reach the point of being unable to care for the other's?
She struggled intensely with her volatile emotions for a moment, then couldn’t hold back any longer.
“Ruki-Chan, why would you do something so utterly stupid?” she finally burst out. “You already got in a fight earlier today and had a pending detention for swearing at your math teacher! Why would you purposefully provoke a fight when you knew you would be expelled? WHY? You sent four boys to the hospital! One of them had a concussion and two others needed surgery! Are you purposely toying with me for your own amusement?” She grabbed her sister’s shoulders. That was another possibility; Rukia only truly cared about Rukia, she had no love or concern for anyone else, even her own family; she only stayed with them because of some explainable force that drew her soul to the others and bound her together with them. Rukia admitted that she didn’t particularly care for them and occasionally wondered why she even stayed instead of striking out on her own. Rukia did whatever amused her, and it wasn’t actually that far out of the realm of possibility for her to fake a bout of emotional disturbance to mess with the minds of her family just because she thought it would be fun.
Rukia still showed no emotion, despite her elder sister’s outburst, and Hanoata was on the verge of tears. She tried SOOO hard to help, but even she couldn’t understand Rukia or reach into her sister’s isolated world. Her sister was truly incapable of comprehending or caring about the effects of her behavior on others.
Rukia Atsuka, had had a severe case of Narcissistic personality disorder since she was very young. Although, that wasn’t exactly quite it; NPD didn’t usually begin to emerge in a person until they were a teenager, but Rukia had had had her mental problems for as long as Hanoata could remember. What her sister had was something much different, but NPD was the closest normal disorder that there was to her sister’s problem, so that’s what Hanoata called it. It wasn’t like it really mattered what she called it; they couldn’t go to a regular doctor or anything like that for treatment, so Hanoata more or less had to make stuff up as she went to handle Ruki and keep her in check.
It was like her sister was a machine without a mind or emotions or clear intentions. Sometimes, it was as if Ruki-Chan wasn’t a human being or any other intelligent life form, even, that’s how bad it was! She wanted to know her younger sister’s motivations with a burning desire so fierce, it actually pained her and threatened to consume her sanity.
Even more confusing than Hanoata’s new surroundings and the people in them was how quickly Ruki had regressed to her childhood ferocity; when she was young, the second oldest Atsuka girl had been violent to the point of attempting to maim her younger siblings for fun, until the idea that it wasn’t okay to do that was introduced to her. Before she had started living with the others, no one had ever thought to teach her about morality, or the value of life, or the permanence and tragedy of death. To little Ruki, violence was normal and not unpleasant or sad at all.
But Ruki wasn’t a child anymore; she had retained a tad bit of her sadism and violent nature, but had kept it in check and no longer rejoiced in death and suffering; she generally left people alone unless they annoyed her. Although she still stuck out like a sore thumb, she had become quirky as opposed to psychotic or dangerous. So why the sudden outbursts? At this point, though, Hanoata was beyond annoyed and no longer cared to brood about her sister’s mental state.
“What are we going to do now? All the other schools in this city are even more expensive to attend, and most of them are privet! I barely make enough money from working three jobs to cover my own tuition, and we are already struggling with money for food and the other kid’s school fees! Not to mention getting you accepted! How are you going to even be able to pass an entrance exam? You can’t even finish your chemistry homework! And no,” she added, knowing her sister’s mind for once. “You cannot ‘just not go to school at all.’ You will be going to school and growing a brain, dummy! Leaning some manners couldn’t kill you, either! I’ll have to skip school tomorrow so that we can try to find somewhere that will accept you, at least until I find a better school and can get you set up to take the exams!”
Rukia swung her feet back and forth and turned to her big sister.
“I’m not sorry at all. It was fun.” A wicked grin inched across her face. “Besides, it was about time someone taught those sons of…… a good lesson. Their blood looked really pretty decorating the pavement.” She licked her lips and glanced up sadistically. Hanoata sighed, rolling her eyes and eliciting a cackle from Ruki-Chan.
Ruki wasn’t a bad person at heart, at least, so Hanoata believed adamantly, despite how her sister hurt her all the time, but she should have known better than to expect understanding or sympathy from her. That was just the way her oldest younger sibling was. Hanoata would just have to deal with it herself, since her sister was unable to realize or worry about how much she was ruining her own life. Not to mention the fact that she was downright ignorant and unfeeling about the emotions of others. Ruki turned to her.
“You know, I did at least give them a fair warning. I didn’t attack “innocent”” she made air quotes with her fingers “people unprovoked; I know how you would feel about that, even if they are actually total shit heads.” Something in Ruki-Chan’s demeanor didn’t feel right to Hanoata. “They did something to you, didn’t they Ruki-Chan?”
Hanoata could feel the panic setting in as her chest tightened.
Rukia rolled her eyes dramatically. “Well, Duh! I was minding my own business in the hallway yesterday morning, when those four bozo’s showed up. They started making some vulgar comments about the size of my chest and my nice legs. They were acting like disgusting perve’s, so I shoved that blond jackass who leads them out of the way and got out of there. That was what started it all. They decided to come back for revenge today.”
Hanoata stared at her sister; her pupils had shrunk to the size of a pin’s head, and they had begun looking less green and more like red gold. “You got into a fight first thing this morning.” She remembered. “You told me it wasn’t your fault; I didn’t believe you.”
Oh, god! If those boys did ANYTHING to her sister, and she had refused to listen to her, Hanoata would never forgive herself! She was supposed to protect her siblings, even the older ones who claimed they were capable of looking out for themselves. She began shaking with fury. Why didn’t she think about it earlier?
Ruki may have mellowed out quite considerably over the years, but she still retained her violent, brash personality and liked fighting and arguing for fun. But to reach the level of violence and raw anger that she had shown to the boys, she had to be provoked; even she didn’t get bent out of shape the way she had been today because she felt like it!
“Don’t worry, I didn’t just sit there and let them violate or beat on me.” Rukia soothed. “Now can I finish?” Ruki’s attitude helped Hanoata calm down a little bit. Rukia would have told her if something truly horrible had happened to her. Besides, despite her general lack of caring, Rukia was near impossible to calm once she was genuinely angry about something. She had went insane on the four boys from school, but had reverted back to her normal self almost right away, so, whatever they did, it must not have been too bad; the boys would have ended up in the morgue instead of the hospital if they had actually done something worse than mess around with her mind.
“Okay, continuing; that guy whose arm I broke today, he pinned me to the wall right after second period and tried to grope me while the others watched. I obviously slapped the crap out of him and told them to leave me alone; the rest of the gang wasn’t happy about it. Don’t worry,” she added quickly, “It sounds worse than it was; he actually wasn’t all that violent or gross. Honestly, it wasn’t as horrible as it could have been; they were mega perverts, for sure, but I can definitely tell that they never would have, say, raped me or anything actually awful like that.”
“Anyway, one of the teachers happened to come our way, and you know how scared everyone is of ‘The Big Four’. She saw us fighting, but took only me to see the principle. She claimed that I started the fight by ‘attacking a group of students unprovoked’. Of course, she conveniently left out who the other students were.” She rolled her eyes. “Jeze! Those marshmallows aren’t even all that tough, but everyone acts like they’re the four riders of the apocalypse or something! It’s so god damn annoying!” Hanoata gave Ruki a death glare. She did not need a bunch of kindergarteners and ten –year- olds running around copying their older sister’s vulgar language!
“Sorry. Anyway, “Rukia fluffed her red hair with her hand. “They obviously didn’t like the insult of a member being told off and beaten up by a girl, so they came looking for a fight after school. They said that no one makes fun of the big four and gets away with it. Obviously, they picked the wrong girl to mess with, because I am entirely capable of taking care of myself.”
Hanoata was relived, but still was a little angry. She wanted to hurt those thugs; she honestly felt that, if the happened by right now, she could actually kill them without a second thought. She knew it was wrong to think something so horrible, especially about some insignificant little bullies, but still…!
Rukia reached out and grabbed her hand. “Hanoa-Sama, calm down! I’m fine! God, you’re such a Mama bear; I can take care of myself you know!” she gave her sister’s hand a squeeze.
Hanoata knew that well enough; Ruki was only two years younger than her, after all. But still, she was one of her kids; she had a responsibility to protect them all, no matter how old or young they were. The oldest ones who claimed that they could totally take care of themselves needed her just as much as the littlest ones who couldn’t even decide what to eat for lunch or get their school uniforms on without some help.
Besides, Ruki more or less had the mentality and judgement skills of a two year old; egotism, most childcare textbooks called it. She did whatever she wanted on her own terms. But, with Ruki, it wasn’t childlike carelessness and naivety so much as selfishness and apathy. Unlike a two year old, Ruki could seriously hurt people, both emotionally and physically, weather that was her intention or not.
Ruki wasn’t above trampling on other people’s emotions or letting them be hurt, either for her own pleasure or because they were in her way, and was totally oblivious to the pain and heartbreak she created. She fought all the time, back-talked, was totally blind to the affects her actions had on her siblings, was lazy and rude, refused to listen to anyone, slept like a rock at the most inappropriate of times, ate like a pig… she was pretty much an oversized delinquent child.
But it wasn’t like Hanoata could just kick her out; Rukia would never truly be able to survive on her own, she would only fall deeper into her own insanity and recklessness.
‘Besides’, Hanoata thought, ‘she was already abandoned once as a child, what sort of monster would I myself be if I knowingly subjected her to the same treatment twice?’ Abandoning a child to pursue your own, selfish desires was the greatest crime a parent, even an adoptive one, could commit.
But Hanoata was scared. Not really for Rukia; she was already doing everything she could for Ruki-Chan, and her sister’s currant bad behavior was a major step up from the wild child that she had been as a small child. Besides, she was too tired to worry about her much more; She was done and over with the Ruki-Chan problem for today.
Hanoata was selfishly worried for herself. Even though she didn’t understand most of the names people called her and the things they would say about her, they still hurt her heart. She could tell that her classmates were trying to hurt her on purpose and she still didn’t understand why; she hadn’t grown up around many people, and human behavior and social habits still mystified her.
She didn’t hold any of it against them; why should she get mad about such little things as teasing? But… some of the students, especially the girls, in her class could be downright vicious. She’d her books and homework destroyed, had rocks and trash thrown at her, been tripped and shoved down the stairs… the list went on and on. Lately, though, it was getting worse. She had been attacked in by a small gang of girls at least twice already in the last week!
The first time was the day after she had tried out for the Kendo team. She found out that she had been accepted onto the team; after the president’s defeat, at least seven boys had quit the team and the team needed her, whether they liked it or not. When she accepted the offer and joined, the teacher who coached and supervised the team had quit in disgust as well. As soon as the news had made its way around, she had received violent verbal attacks. During break, a group of ten girls from all three grades had jumped her in the bathroom. They beat on her and kicked her, all while taunting her about showing them how strong she was.
At least that one had ended alright; her history teacher had heard the attack and ran into the bathroom screaming like a maniac. Hanoata liked Mr.Narra; he had actually taken the other girls to the principle and made sure they were punished, and then let her rest in the infirmary for a good part of the school day. While she was still mortified because of him inadvertently embarrassing her on her first day of school, he was one of the only teachers who didn’t treat her any differently than the other students.
The second beating had taken place only two days ago. She’d been ganged up on by four of the girls from her class in the gym locker room; they tore up her dress shirt, threw her jacket in the toilet, and cut her with razor blades. She had shown up to math class late, bloodied and wearing her gray gym sweatshirt. The teacher had given her work dentition; he didn’t ask her about the cuts and all the blood, and she hadn’t told him. The girls came and laughed in her face as she was sorting papers in detention that afternoon.
She was worried about what her classmates would do to HER when they found out about her sister’s expulsion. Everything she said and did, every story about her family or her sisters, EVERYTHING and anything could and would be used and twisted to insult and hurt her. Worse, the principle had blamed her for her sister’s bad behavior and had threatened to kick her out or revoke her and Tama’s permission to work if she did anything he didn’t like! That would surely only feed the fire!
Everyone, not just the girls, would have a field day with this! Even the teachers. Many of them either didn’t see what was going on or simply didn’t care; one teacher had even refused her a Band-Aid for a cut she got after being shoved down the stairs, and had even implied that she was getting what she deserved. The principle was no help. His thoughts about her were already clear. After Ruki-Chan’s expulsion, he had sent Ruki out of the room and proceeded to scream at her. He thought she was a bad big sister who should have never been given custody of her siblings.
She didn’t hate any of her class mates or teachers; she could never hate them, no matter what they did. In the grand scheme of things, their bulling wasn’t important or even significant; they wouldn’t even be in school together a year from now. She just… wanted them to stop, she just wanted to be left alone.
She hung her head in depression. She was so weak and worthless. She was too frightened to ask her classmates to leave her alone, or even say anything. She knew that her school’s treatment of her was biased and unethical, but she was too scared to go to the school board or the authority’s, or even challenge the principle. She really, really wanted to be friends with all the people in her class, but couldn’t work up the courage to try and talk to even one person. She wanted her siblings to have happy, fulfilling lives, but couldn’t even keep Ruki-Chan under control!!
How could someone as worthless and cowardly as herself be a role model and good sister to the kids when she couldn’t even deal with her own minor life problems?
“Hey, Sis?” Ruki tugged on her sleeve. “I’m not at all sorry and don’t regret what I did.” She said bluntly. “I don’t feel bad that I made those boys pay for their perverted natures. I don’t care what that loudmouth old bag was bellowing in my face, or that he expelled me. I’m not sorry about anything that happened today, and I really couldn’t give a crap what you think or what this has put you through.” She took a breath.
“I won’t ever stop fighting or anything, not even for you, Nee-Sama, or my little sister, who thinks I’m some type of role model” She scoffed “But, for what it’s worth, this all isn’t fair to you at all. You are one of the nicest and most caring people I know, and you don’t deserved to be bullied, punished, or blamed for my decisions. Life isn’t fair, but the fact that you of all people have to suffer still sucks, for what it’s worth.”
Hanoa gave a sideways little smile and patted Ruki on the head, like she used to do when they were little.
It wasn’t anything close to being an apology, but it was enough; this was as close to one as you could hope to get from Rukia. Even though she tested her sanity and got her in trouble, Ruki-Chan was her sister; she loved her. She was actually pleasantly surprised; this was the first time Rukia had shown anything close to concern for her.
As they stared off in silence at the beautiful sun set, Hanoata’s eyes were on the four little girls and one boy chasing each other around and screaming down by the oceanline.
Compared to her past, compared to the past the little ones had known… this was actually a good life. This burden; the treatment from her peers, the mental strain, the lack of sleep from working, studying, and raising a house full of young children; it wasn’t that bad. She could easily carry it. She liked school and being able to learn about the world and being able to have access to endless books to read. She was able to stuff herself with delicious food at night and doze off with her youngest sisters cuddled up to her, safe in an actual house with real walls and locks. She could freely draw and write music, lay out in the sun, and could decide her own future.
She was happy where it counted. Besides, she couldn’t let herself be broken; that would mean that she let herself be defeated. And despairing would get no one anywhere in the end. As crazy as it sounded, she could only feel better by accepting the cruelty and pain. It was like the law of energy; an action will create an equal or opposite reaction.
If you did nothing, nothing would happen; dwelling on only the negative would make her blind to the good in the world and impede her ability to live and feel joy and properly take care of her family.
If you kept moving, even if you were barely crawling, you were still moving forward. If you hated the bad in life you had to DO something; fix it, ignore it, learn how to handle it! Otherwise you had no right to feel sad or cry because you didn’t care enough to do anything but let it happen.
Besides, she had no choice, she had to move forward, for the kids. Her siblings were always the most important thing to her; they were all she had now.
“Okay!” she announced cheerfully as she bounced to her feet, ready to put today behind her. “Come on, let’s make dinner! We have a long, busy night ahead! What do you want to make? I’ll let you choose tonight.” Rukia got to her feet and crossed her arms behind her head. “I want Tamagoyaki and Ramen; beef Ramen, not that nasty shrimp stuff that Umi forced you to make last time.”
“Okay, Mrs. picky, you do realize that at least three of the girls don’t like beef ramen?” “Geez, just make a bunch of different flavors with whatever we have in the fridge. What do I care about those picky brats? I. Want. Beef.”
Hanoata’s head rolled through the math of how much food she would have to make to meet everyone’s tastes… and the fact that she hadn’t done her homework or studied for her English test, and how she was pretty sure that only three of her siblings had actually done their homework but lied to her about it… ‘Urg! It’s going to be a REALLY long, painful night!’ she whined to herself in her head as she let out a yawn.

You can resume reading from this paragraph.