Chapter 10:

What's a friend?

Yu-Gi-Oh! :Another story

Yugi and Anzu looked down at their friends from roof, where they were eating their lunch…. And spying on the others, of course! They had witnessed Hanoa almost bursting into tears after she was complimented by Jonouchi on her looks.
“I hope this was a good idea, Anzu.” Yugi said. “I think she’s a good person, but she’s… well… I guess the closest word I can find is ‘weird’, as rude and mean as that sounds. I don’t mean it in a bad way, but I can’t think of any other word that fits. I think that she’s been through some bad stuff. She’s worried about everything, always looks down on herself, thinks that there is nothing out of the ordinary about people treating her horribly…” he trailed off.
It was like Hanoa had some sort of mental conditioning that she created to survive; she was passive to the point of being stepped on and seemingly accepted the bullying she got. It was almost like she was playing the part of a character in a play because she was worried about something worse happening if she stood up for herself or acted the way she really felt.
Yugi trusted her pretty fully now. He had been suspicious, but had quickly discovered that she was harmless and shy. Whatever had set off his sixth sense about their new friend was still possibly real, but she obviously wasn’t plotting anything and was genuinely a clueless new student. At the same time, he knew that there was much more to her past and her family than what she had told them. Something must have traumatized her in the past. And the confusing way she acted… what had led her to it?
Given that she was upfront about being abandoned and raised in a foster home, and the horror stories that floated around about kids like her… He shuddered. He didn’t know how much he really wanted to know about Hanoa. Whatever had put him on alert the moment he met her probably wasn’t anything supernatural. But still… there was SOMETHING that had concerned him and that nagging, worried feeling was still lurking in the tiny back corner of his mind.
“Yeah,” Anzu agreed, bringing Yugi out of his own thoughts. “She doesn’t hate anyone for how they have been treating her, but I can tell that she is really hurt by what’s going on. It’s like… she doesn’t realize that what she is feeling is pain and sadness. Either that, or she just hasn’t acknowledged it yet. And she doesn’t seem to think it’s all that important in the long run. Which, to be fair, it really isn’t, not that that excuses how she is being mistreated, but still.” Anzu frowned slightly before continuing quietly. “She must have lived through some horrible stuff at some point to have such an extreme doormat personality. But… I don’t really think that matters. I like her.”
“Yep! That’s actually just what I was thinking! Maybe…” He hesitated, not wanting to jinx himself or get his hopes up. “Maybe… we can help her. I know that we may not be able to really understand her, and we can’t just make whatever pain and trauma she has disappear but… maybe… just being there if she wants to talk and being together will be enough. I just hope Jonouchi-Kun doesn’t scare her off.” Yugi added more lightheartedly.
Anzu rolled her eyes. “I have no clue what that idiot is doing but, if we are all going to be friends, she was going to have to meet him at some point. She seems to have warmed up to them pretty quickly, so I think my plan worked!” It was vain, but she happily took a good chunk of the credit for them becoming friends with Hanoa. Hey, at least she kept Jonouchi-Kun from making them all look like a pack of fools!
Yugi really liked Anzu even more right now; she was amazing at understanding and dealing with people! It was her idea for the Jonouchi, Honda, and Bakura to find Hanoa and eat lunch with her. She knew about the garden and had seen Hanoa heading that way earlier; Hanoa had been intent on ignoring them, and the garden was a good place to hide and be alone. She thought that surprising her would make it hard for her to get away, and figured it would be less awkward if the two of them weren’t with the others. It would seem much more thoughtful if they appeared to want to approach her out of pure interest and friendliness without outside encouragement from the two of them. She had even figured out a way to approach Hanoa and get her to willingly hang out with them yesterday!
Anzu nibbled on her lunch. She wasn’t as confident or reverent of her “planning” as Yugi was; it just seemed natural and not like a calculated plan or anything. She just wanted to be friends with Hanoa, they all did. But, with that girl’s trust issues and shyness, they had to be a bit more thoughtful and slowly earn her trust. They weren’t just going to give up on her.
She knew they could all be very good friends; they all had had bad pasts and problems back before they all met. She actually admired Hanoa a little bit. She was very talented, but her personality was a bit refreshing; she was extremely humble and adorably awkward and just… human. She wasn’t at all the elitist everyone had labeled her as. She was just Hanoa Atsuka; her appearance, personality, skills, and quirks were just… her. Every single human on the earth was different, and Hanoa had made Anzu realize how ridiculous judging people and wanting to be normal and accepted was.
Hanoa was strong and obviously smart; she was raising a bunch of kids on her own while going to school, had managed to outscore everyone in their class; and much of the school; even though she was self-home schooled, and didn’t let anyone’s low opinion of her stop her, even if she was acting a bit false or was hurt by it. Even though it probably wasn’t easy, Hanoa was still leading her own life and pursuing her own dreams. She was shy and a bit scared, but she wasn’t weak at all; they probably would never be able to understand or comprehend the inner strength that hadn’t let their new friend just give up on living. And that was okay, Anzu was fine with not knowing or understanding everything about Hanoa.
“Hey, Anzu, look, but don’t make it too obvious.” Yugi whispered out of the corner of his mouth. “Wha-? “Out of the corner of her eye, Anzu saw what her friend was talking about.
All the way across the garden on the other side of the roof, a figure was holding onto the fencing surrounding the roof.
It was a young girl, wearing a Domino High school uniform. Her long, black braids billowed out behind her in the breeze, and she stared at them with a harsh, violent gaze.
Taking in the hair and style that the girl wore her uniform in, Anzu whispered “Hey, Yugi, isn’t that Tamura? Hanoa’s younger sister?”
Yugi tried to discreetly squint at the figure across the way. ‘I-I think so. I mean, it is kind of hard to tell because we’re so far away, and she isn’t wearing her glasses, but…yeah, I think it is Hanoa’s sister. Do you think she’s looking out for her sister? Because she’s alone with a bunch of guys?”
A shiver went down Anzu’s spine.” No, look, she’s staring across at us, not down at them! It’s like… she’s mad at us or something! But… how can she see us? We can barely see her! And… does she even know who we are? Why would she be mad at us when we haven’t actually met her yet? “
* * *
It was true; Tamura Atsuka was watching them with a mix of hate and disgust. She didn’t trust them at all. She knew they were manipulating her sister; they had lured her into eating lunch with their three male friends. They had acted like they cared so much about Hanoata Nee-Sama, even though they knew absolutely nothing about her sister. She knew that they had to be planning to use her sister for their own ends. She put her glasses back on and turned to leave, pushing her glasses up on her nose as she started down the stairs. She had no clue what their endgame was, but she wouldn’t let them out of her sight until she knew why they really were so interested in her big sister.
• * *
“Ummm! Anpan and Choco Coffee Beat!” Hanoa munched on one of the sweet buns as she threw the greasy pastry bag and the plastic gas station bag on the low glass table Tamura was studying at. “Get your filthy bags off my textbook, please.” Tamura said calmly, scarcely looking up from her textbooks. Hanoa picked them up and plopped them down a half inch away from where she first put them, and then flopped down on one of the plush purple pillows that served as chairs.
Tama’s room was pristine, organized, and serious, reflecting her personality, but it was cozy and comfortable. She also had it all to herself. Unlike everyone else, sans Rukia, who all shared their rooms out of a desire to not be alone, Tamura wanted to room alone for the peace and quiet that were necessary for studying, which was almost as much of a hobby to her as cheerleading.
“Seriously, sister?” Tamura rolled her eyes. “I was wondering why you didn’t come home right away, even though it wasn’t your afternoon to walk any of the kids home and you did not have Kendo practice. THIS was what was so important?” “What?” Hanoa said innocently through a mouthful of bean bun.
“The ‘big, important thing’ you had to do was… buy a bunch of fattening, cheap sweets from the gas station?” Tama said resting her chin on her propped up arm. She looked at her older sister with amusement. It was just too tempting to tease her! Nee-Sama looked so cute with crumbs all over her face and that annoying, obliviously happy look she always had. Her dear sister really was child-like, even more so than the actual children that they cared for! It pissed her off most of the time but… if her sister was happy… that was alright. After the hell Hanoa let herself be put through, she deserved to be happy.
“So…want a bean bun?” Hanoa asked, waving the bag around. “Oh my god, how many did you buy?” Asked Tamura. “Umm…six? I already ate two.” Hanoa admitted sheepishly. “Oh, big sister, what am I going to do with you?” Tama sighed. “And for your information, no, I would NOT like a bean bun. I am a cheerleader. I need to stay in shape. Besides, stuff like that is not healthy at all. You eat too much junk food.” Hanoa stuck out her tongue and blew the raspberry at Tama-Chan. Seriously! Ruki-Chan ate way more junk than she did! With how much fried food, prepackaged food, gas station food, and ramen Rukia ate, Hanoa was sure her sister was headed for a heart attack. And some of her younger siblings, especially Kiro-Chan and Umi-Chan, weren’t exactly the most… well-mannered… when it came to food. Seriously, some days, she wondered if Kiro even chewed or tasted his food, or if he just sucked it down.
“I will take some of those Choco-Coffee, though!” Tamura said. Hanoa got out the yellow tube, uncapped it and held it over Tama’s mouth. She tipped it and poured some of the chocolate candy into her sister’s mouth. Tama swallowed. “Just what I needed! I have a lot of studying to do, and some caffeine couldn’t hurt!” Tamura turned back to her book, propping her head up with her hand. “So, how was your day? Anything interesting happen to you for once?”
“Ummm…I think…” Hanoa took a deep breath. “I think… I finally made some ‘friends’!” She smiled, her face glowing golden. Literally. “You must be happy because you are glowing, sister.” Tamura said, still without looking up. Hanoa’s glow turned tomato red. She hated it when she did that! Good thing she had held onto her emotions earlier, or she would have had a major problem on her hands! If her eyes or face had started glowing… or something like that…in front of Yugi-Chan and the others… it would not have been good! People generally weren’t very accepting of what they couldn’t understand, and she didn’t fancy being studied by the Japanese government. She stopped glowing and gave a horrified, inward shudder. ‘No don’t… don’t think about… THAT!’ she told herself. ‘You never have to return to that place again.’
“Friends? Those two classmates of yours? The class president and that little-boy oddball? The ones you went out with yesterday?” “Yep! And some of their friends; three of the other boys in my class. I ate lunch with the boys in the garden today.” She reached into the gas station bag and pulled out a bottle of strawberry milk. “They were…so…nice…kind.” Hanoata uncapped the lid and took a sip of her drink, then stared, embarrassed, down at the lavender rug print with white flowers.
“Ummm…Tama-Chan…Can I please ask you a question? I know it will sound kind of stupid, and maybe I am kind of stupid but… I need to know.” “Hanoata!” Tamura said sternly as she stared her sister down. “You are not stupid, and you do not need to beg me to merely answer a question you have. I would do anything for you, you know that. I’m not going to be mad that you are just curious. Unless you are going to be like Kiro-Chan and ask a question like 'the sky looks blue, so is it blue?' that doesn't deserve an answer?"
“You’re right, Tama-Chan! Gosh, how awkward and weird am I that I would actually be embarrassed to talk to my own baby sister?” She smiled. “Please stop, Nee-Sama.” Sighed Tama, making a pouty face. “I’m almost THIRTEEN! We are NOT toddlers anymore! Besides, you are only approximately four years older than me! I’m not all THAT little! I skipped ahead multiple grades!” ”Okay, okay! Sorry. But, um, anyway…” Hanoa felt bad bugging her younger sister with her trivial problems but… it wasn’t like there was anyone else for her to talk to.
“I was…wondering…what’s a friend?” She blushed sadly. “I mean… I’ve read about them and seen them on TV but…I don’t get it. What does it mean, really? I… I guess it’s kind of like a sibling, only you don’t live together or have to share everything or stuff like that. But I don’t… I don’t understand what that kind of bond is like. How do I feel it? How do I understand it? What am I supposed to DO?” she cried out helplessly. She cared about her ‘friends’ so much, even after only two days. They made her happy. They gave her joy and something to look forward to. But… she didn’t get what this bond meant, how it worked or why it made her feel so conflicted and anxious. She was so clueless when it came to other people!
Tama looked at Hanoa with a calm, steady gaze. On the inside though, she felt like someone was squeezing her insides. Her big sister was one of the sweetest, most caring people she had ever met… but she was also very week and helpless in many areas, which wasn’t entirely her fault.
Hanoa was very intelligent, although obviously not as much as she was, but she was not very people smart. She didn’t understand how to deal with them. She could understand their siblings completely with no problems and was good with young children but when it came to other people…. Hanoa was a mess. Tamura didn’t understand it; it seemed so illogical. But, to Hanoa Nee-Sama, people and social interaction were illogical and scary. According to the online psychology classes Tamura took, mental trauma took on many forms and wasn’t always clear to or understood by outsiders. Hanoa was just ignorant. From the way she said the word friends, it sounded like there were quotations around it.
“Well, let’s look it up!” Tamura pulled out her trusty pocket dictionary. Hanoa giggled. “You really are the smart, preppy- girl type, aren’t you, Tama-Chan?” “Laugh all you want. At least I sound like I have a brain. Need I remind you that your adopted daughter is the one who asked for an egg salad ‘Smamawitch’ when we went to out to buy lunch last Saturday when it was just us three and Umi? Dear god, I thought I was going to pass out from embarrassment when the owner started laughing! Umi didn’t make it any better, either! She sat there and cackled like a hyena!”
“They’re just kids, Tama-Chan.” Hanoa said, leaning forward on her knees. “Let them be. They are still learning; they’ll learn, someday, until then, be nice to your sisters, okay, Tama?” “You know I don’t try to be mean.” Tamura said as she flipped through her book. “I just have zero tolerance for stupidity. Like Kiro-Chan acting up in public. Or Umi-Chan flashing people because she doesn’t understand that she needs to be lady-like when she wears a skirt. Or that stupid Floriceita. She is such a cowardly crybaby! That child is going to get someone killed someday! She is such a damn waste-“Hanoa’s eyes flashed. “Do NOT talk about Flor that way. If you are so worried about her, then help her. Teach her to know better. But you DO NOT get to call her worthless and treat her like trash!”
Tamura dropped the subject.
“Okay, here it is.” She told Hanoa. “Friend: a person who is attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard. Or; a person who gives assistance, a supporter.” She closed the book. “Hanoata. Just. Stop. Worrying! I know it is hard, but friendship is a normal human bond, and humans are diverse and irrational. There is no one way to have or be a friend. Also long as you are not being rude, abusive, cruel, or just plain mean, or having someone be those things to you, there is no wrong way to be a friend. For example, we may be sisters and family, but can also be considered friends. Kobi-Chan and Floriceita-Chan are sisters now, but have been best friends since they were little and alone. They call each other friends, they act alike, dress alike, finish each other’s sentences, and even claim that they are twins, despite the fact that they are clearly two different ethnicities and could not be biologically related. Got it now?”
“Uh…Nuh-un.” Hanoa shook her head no. Tamura sighed. ‘Even though you are my dear big sister,’ Tama thought, 'And I love you very much, your denseness is rather appalling sometimes.’ She smiled. “It’s okay, Nee-Sama. What it is saying is, basically, just for you to be you. Friendship is more or less one step down from family. It’s more casual, but still very powerful. You don’t need to be anything different or special, you just need to generally care about someone, enjoy their presence, and want to be with them and help them.” Hanoa’s expression changed and she looked like she was starting to understand.
“I know you look down on yourself. I know you worry. But please, just don’t. You…” Tamura struggled to phrase her words in a way that wouldn’t upset big sister. “You are kind. Sometimes too much, and sometimes you border on being too passive because of it but… you care. Even though you don’t really understand people and are hurt by the fact that people chose to do bad things and the fact that a lot of people in our past did bad things to you… and me… and our other siblings…and each other… you will make a good friend. You already care so much about all of the rest of us, when a lot of people would have just ignored us. Just… be yourself. Act naturally and it will just happen. You may not every understand your friends all the way, but you don’t have to. You can do this.”
Hanoa sat thinking, furrowing her eyebrows. Tamura reached over and gently grabbed the bottle of flavored milk from her sister’s hand. She casually took a sip and passed it back. The two had been together for so long, that they were pretty casual around each other.
“Umm…” Hanoa blushed happily. “Thanks, little sister.” She lunged across the table and caught Tamura in a tight hug. “You know…. I’m glad I have someone to talk to.” She said softly into her younger sister’s hair. “And…I feel better now. I’ve been… so scared. Scared that I might get hurt again. But…I can’t treat them like that and I don’t want to. They should be punished for the sins of people they never met, you know? They deserve a chance. Just a chance. I wish someone had done that for us a long time ago before now.” Tama patter her back. “It is quite alright. I get it. And…” they both pulled back. “For what it’s worth, I’m happy for you. I’m happy that you are finally happy." Hanoa beamed.
“Thanks, Tama-Chan! She got to her feet. “Well, I guess I better do my homework and study while I have the chance. I’ve got a history test tomorrow, and Narra Sensei isn’t good at actually teaching us what will be on the exams. We have to basically teach ourselves on our own time if we want to pass! She walked out the door. Tamura sighted. “Nee-Sama.” Hanoa’s head popped back into the room. “Uh-huh?” “Your food?” “Oh, yeah!” Hanoa ran back in and grabbed the pastry bag in her teeth and flung the plastic bag over her wrist. “See you later.” She said through her teeth, patting Tamura on the head as she ran back out.
Tamura stared out the window, lost in thought. ‘Yugi Mutou-Kun. Anzu Mazaki-San. Katsuya Jonouchi-Kun. Hiroto Honda-Kun. Ryo-Bakura-Kun. What are you planning, I wonder? Why does my dear elder sister interest you so much?’

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