Claim: Marufuji Shou
Notes: This is my post for 20_kuribohs, which means it's a 20 Facts story, kind of like the ones I wrote about Sachiko and Mikami back in the day. This time I'm using a character from Yu-Gi-Oh GX, Marufuji Shou. This is written as the story of his life, spanning from childhood to marriage and kids, from feeling inferior to Ryo to taking care of him in the hospital, from unashamedly adoring Judai to not being sure if he should ever speak to him again. Enjoy, and please let me know what you think. Be warned, this contains spoilers for the whole series!
Also, I'm sorry for using a song lyric for the title. I just felt that it had to be done. This is not a songfic.
1. As a child, Shou was terrified of water. Not of drinking it, he didn’t have rabies like Ryo kept insisting he did, but of being submerged. He was okay with taking baths as long as one of his parents was there with him, but whenever they’d go to the beach or the pool he’d sit outside, reading or drawing or complaining that he wanted to go home. It was for this reason that he never learned how to swim. In later years, he couldn’t remember if he was really scared of drowning, or if he just didn’t think he could keep up with Ryo’s masterful strokes.
2. When Shou was six, he collected stickers. He had an album for them with big, glossy pages, and a smiling blue train on the front. Each page had a different scene—a lineup of bears, a picnic in the park, a baseball game played by aliens. Sometimes, he peeled the stickers off and arranged them in new ways until the adhesive came off. Sometimes, if they were really special, they stayed in their packaging forever. He took his collection with him everywhere he went. When Shou was seven, his brother discovered Duel Monsters. Shou wasn’t any good at it, and losing made him cry, but if he was going to be anywhere near as wonderful as his big brother, he was going to have to get used to Duel Monsters. He threw away his sticker collection when he was seven and a half.
3. Test taking, for Shou, was an ordeal. He would convince himself he was going to fail, then pull three or four all-nighters in a row trying to change this. By the time the test actually arrived, he had a sheaf of incomprehensible notes, dark circles under his eyes, and a tendency to burst into tears if anyone so much as glanced at him. He would end up with a failing grade, shattered self-esteem, and absolutely zero comprehension of whatever it was he’d just studied. Still, nobody could say that Shou didn’t try.
4. His deck was an amalgamation of his brother’s cyber dragons, Pegasus’ famous toon deck, and the memory of sitting in the garage with his father, listening to explain what he was doing as he tried to fix the family car.
5. Since he wasn’t good at very much, Shou decided to shove his small successes in other people’s faces. When his classmates would spend the whole day mocking him and throwing things at him, and when all that negativity and mess culminated into a duel that he was actually winning instead of him bursting into tears, he crowed like a rooster. When Ryo stopped the duel and told him he should respect his opponent, he was so humiliated that for a moment he couldn’t speak.
6. When Shou told people what kind of music he listened to, they were often shocked, or disbelieving. He didn’t look like the type of person who had even heard of Ludacris, let alone the type who knew most of his lyrics by heart. He and Judai once stood in their room, using spoons for microphones and replacing the lyrics to Pimpin’ All Over The World with lyrics about the E-Heroes. The next day, they parroted their lyrics back and forth all day, bursting into laughter almost every time.
7. Even as a teenager, Shou’s mother still called him adorable, which made his father cringe. She would hug him whenever she saw him, pinch his cheeks and talk about what a sweet baby he’d been. She called him “the sweetest thing since sugar.” He tried not to be too embarrassed by that. He wanted her to be impressed with him, like she was with Ryo, but since there wasn’t much to be impressed about, this was the only way she had to show her love.
8. Shou was the second shortest person at Duel Academy, and he wasn’t very happy about it. One day he complained to Judai, and Judai told him that Yugi Mutou, the greatest duelist either of them had ever heard of, had been just as short as Shou is now when he was in high school. It didn’t matter that their dueling skills were worlds apart, that comparison was more than enough to make Shou happy.
9. Buried deep within the recesses of his laptop’s C Drive was a folder which was labeled Homework, but which actually contained almost a full gigabyte of Dark Magician Girl porn. He only looked at it alone, in the bathroom, with a towel stuffed under the door to muffle any sounds he might make while enjoying it.
10. Moving to the Yellow Dorms had been a mixed blessing. On the one hand, Shou was proud that he’d actually gotten good enough at dueling to be promoted. On the other hand, even a moment’s separation from his aniki seemed entirely unsurvivable. The first night that he didn’t fall asleep to the sound to Judai’s snoring was the loneliest night he’d spent in years.
11. Being repeatedly kidnapped began to take its toll. Shou found it difficult to trust anyone he didn’t already know, and he felt antsy and suspicious whenever he had to go out alone. Sometimes the only thing that kept him from vomiting in terror was the knowledge that Judai would save him if it ever happened again.
12. For a long time, Shou hated Tyranno Kenzan. He hated the way he muscled in on his territory, claiming Shou’s aniki for himself. As if Shou hadn’t been there all that time, devoting his every moment to Judai! Kenzan had brothers of his own, real brothers, and he had plenty of other friends. All Shou had was the cold and distant Ryo, and precious Judai. But one day, when they were at the drug store looking for shampoo that would work on dreadlocks, they talked about how much they loved him, and why. It turned out that they both just wanted someone to guide them—and to give them more love than Judai had inside of him. It was wonderful to find someone who understood this, and so he couldn’t bring himself to hate Tyranno Kenzan too much anymore.
13. He hated Johan, too, but it wasn’t the same kind of hatred. With Johan, Shou wasn’t angry or self-righteous. Shou felt flayed alive at the thought of losing Judai, and he knew that that was how Judai felt about Johan. He couldn’t blame Johan for that, any more than he could blame Judai for his own feelings. All the same, he felt sick whenever he looked at him, or thought about him, or heard anyone (especially Judai) speak his name.
14. The decision to step aside and simply watch as Haou broke the world, was a painful one. Trailing after him in the Dark World meant having to accept that he simply didn’t matter very much to his aniki anymore. He was a castoff, so unwanted that even Ojama Yellow would rather be with someone else. He wasn’t okay with that, but he searched for him, endlessly, until his feet were blistered and his chest was as heavy as lead.
15. Watching what he thought was Ryo’s death was the worst thing he had ever been forced to endure. He knew it was going to happen, if not in the duel against Johan then soon after, and he thought he would be able to comfort Ryo. But Shou could not be stoic about it. He could not watch his brother clutch his chest and scream in agony, or watch him break into a million glowing shards and leave him, without screaming in agony too.
16. After two weeks of begging his mother to visit Ryo in the hospital, she finally stopped making excuses and told him why she wouldn’t come. She said, “it was his fault he ended up like this. He could have come home when his career went south. He could have gone to college like a normal kid, or found a new job. Heck, I would have understood if he turned to drugs. But this death dueling is something I don’t understand. He’s a completely different person now, and I don’t know how to be his mother anymore. But Shou, it sounds like you know how to be his brother. I’ll leave his care to you.”
17. For the first time in his life, Shou was someone’s everything. Ryo always needed something, and since Ayukawa and the rest of the hospital staff were usually busy, it was Shou who had to help him. Shou made him tea (his favorite was oolong with jasmine), pushed his wheelchair out to his favorite places on campus (he liked the lighthouse) and fed him his meals when he did not have the strength to feed himself. He didn’t like to see Ryo so sick and weak, but he did like feeling important.
18. When Judai left Duel Academy without bothering to say goodbye, Shou wanted to break something, but wasn’t sure what. Judai hadn’t left him with anything tangible, save for a few random birthday gifts that either wouldn’t break or were worth saving. Anyway, Shou wasn’t the type to destroy things. In the end, he settled on scribbling an angry face on the note his friends wrote for him. He wasn’t sure if he should cry or not, and he missed the days when his answer would have been an unselfconscious yes.
19. The Marufuji Dueling Partnership that Ryo had proposed turned out to be little more than a pipe dream. Ryo never got well enough for the rigors of professional dueling, and anyway no one was willing to sponsor him after his dramatic downfall. At Ryo’s urging, Shou attempted a career of his own. At one point, he found himself facing off against Johan Andersen. He wanted desperately to beat him. He thought that somehow that would prove that the life he’d built with his brother was better than the one he couldn’t have with Judai, and better than the fleeting moments that Judai and Johan had shared. He wanted to win using Power Bond. He did win, but it was mostly luck—Johan was distracted by seasonal allergies, and Shou drew some very powerful cards right away—but he didn’t get to use Power Bond, and when he won it didn’t prove much of anything.
20. It was nearly a decade before Judai crashed back into Shou’s life. At that point Ryo was dead, and Shou had gotten married to a girl who was in one of Kenzan’s college courses in paleontology, and had two daughters named Ryoko and Yukie. Ever so obviously named after those he had lost. When Judai showed up on his doorstep, dragging three filthy suitcases and yawning uncontrollably, Shou didn’t know if he should let him in. Judai didn’t say anything for a few minutes, but then he smiled at him. A few teeth were missing from his grin, but it was such a welcome sight that Shou couldn’t help but open up his home to him.
This Tornado Loves You - Neko Case