"Thank you for walking me back to my dorm, Yuma."
Yuma smiled as he and Ruka approached the female Ra Yellow dorms on Duel Academy Island.
"Ah, it was nothing!"
Throwing his arms behind his head, Yuma looked up at the sky, which was a mix of purples and oranges from the sun setting over the ocean.
"Y'know, you, prez and that other guy are pretty awesome, with all that signer stuff."
Ruka glanced over at Yuma for a moment, but her eyes soon trailed down to the floor.
"Some days it doesn't feel as great as it seems."
Yuma watched as Ruka slowly walked away from where they were standing only to sit down by a nearby rock.
"What are you talking about!? It sounds amazing! You guys are like heroes chosen by destiny, or something like that! Plus you get a cool dragon! What's there to hate about that!?"
Yuma fell silent when he saw the crestfallen look on Ruka's face as she looked down at the mark on her right arm. Quietly, he walked over to her and sat down beside her.
"The signers are chosen by a higher being, called the Crimson Dragon. Each of the signers gains a mark on their arm that represents a part of that dragon and are given a dragon partner that serves it. My friends and I originally came from an alternate future, where we were the signers of these dragons, but for some reason the Crimson Dragon sent us to this timeline with no explanation as to why. I was only 11-years-old then and we remained here for the next five years. I grew up here, in this timeline that wasn't my own... we stayed here so long that I began to feel conflicted on where I really belonged. I wondered how worried my parents must be, but at the same time I had started to make a new life here, I felt I had a purpose here, I made new friends here... I worried what would happen if I had to choose between the two.
Then, last year, I woke up to find my friends missing. I'm sure the Crimson Dragon took them back to where we were originally from, but for some reason it left me behind.
In the end, I didn't have a choice. None of us did. To this day, I haven't found out why I was left behind."
Yuma found himself pulled in by Ruka's story. Holding onto the Emperor's key around his neck, Yuma remembered his own missing family, his mother and father, and how it was sometimes difficult to ignore the hole in his heart, left by their disappearance. Ruka must be going through that same pain, that same uncertainty, knowing that they're out there somewhere, but there's no certain way to start looking for them.
Glancing down at Ruka's mark and then at the floor, Yuma could only feel sorry for Ruka, that she had to go through that.
"That's just... too cruel..."
Looking up at Yuma, Ruka realized that she was making him feel bad for her, so she attempted to try and lighten the mood.
"But... like Shinoko said, I still have friends here. I have her and the other signers, I have you and Shinji and I have those I know in the city. Right now, the support and kindness of all those I have met here are the things that get me though each day and give me the strength to keep going forward the best I can."
Yuma looked up at her and then gave her a huge grin.
"It's what friends are for, right!?"
Cheerfully, Ruka gave him a nod of agreement. Somehow, she found Yuma's positive attitude quite uplifting. His love of life, his boundless energy and boisterousness and his love of dueling somehow reminded her of her brother, especially when they were younger.
"Yuma, hold out your right arm for a second."
Although puzzled, Yuma did as she asked and held out his right arm to her. As he did, Ruka reached into her pocket and pulled out a red pen which she began drawing on Yuma's arm with.
"There's one mark of the Crimson Dragon that my group has which the current group doesn't at the moment and I feel it's something important to have in any group."
When Ruka had finished drawing on his arm, Yuma held it up and looked at it curiously.
"A... rocket ship..?"
Ruka shook her head slowly.
"It's the heart of the Crimson Dragon. The one in my group who has this mark is my brother."
Ruka nodded. "Yes. And I think every group needs someone to be the heart of it. The one who keeps people smiling, the one who supports and protects their friends and who never gives up, no matter what the challenge."
"Ruka..." Yuma glanced back at the drawn mark on his arm, smiling at it with fondness. A mark Ruka has entrusted to him from memories of her brother.
"YUSH!!" Yuma suddenly jumped up to his feet, clenching his fists with excitement. "I'll do my best to live up to the mark you've entrusted to me!! YEAHH--"
Pausing, Yuma looked at his arm again, then held it up to Ruka.
"Y'know, not trying to spoil this or anything but... this comes off right?"
Ruka laughed lightly at him, as she also stood up.
"Don't worry, it'll come off in time."
Grinning, Yuma picked his bag from the ground, still filled with the items he had brought on their "dragon hunting adventure" before throwing it over his shoulder.
"I know that eventually, you'll find your brother and your friends. Kattobing, Ruka!!"
Ruka smiled at Yuma in response. "Thank you, Yuma."
"Haha! Well, I'll cya around!"
With that, Yuma began to walk towards the direction of the Osiris Red dorms, occasionally looking back and waving to Ruka, before eventually moving into a sprint.
Ruka stood and waved to him until the moment he went out of sight. For a moment, she remained stood outside the Ra Yellow dorms, just looking at the sunset over the ocean.
"Rua... I know one day I'll see you again, but until then... I have good friends here, who are looking out for me, so you don't need to worry."
After a few more moments had passed, Ruka turned around and began to walk towards the dorms, feeling a renewed sense of strength and courage over her situation. She knew the path ahead was likely to be rocky, but somehow she now felt she could well and truly face the challenge of such a road.
Kattobing. Maybe there was something behind that saying of Yuma's after all.