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(The following fic is an interlude fic in the ongoing 'A sorta Fairytale' arc, chronicling the life of Mutou Yuugi, Atemu and their adopted children: Tzuziko, Kazuo and Akina. The entire series of fics contains mainly sappy, fluffy and waffy scenes, as well as a little angst and drama. It also contains shounen ai and minor/major character death(s) - please refer to the author’s notes of each fic for appropriate summary and warnings. Thank you and happy reading! Feedback is greatly appreciated :)

Title: A Sorta Fairytale, interlude IV
Fandom: Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters
Characters: Yami no Yuugi/Atemu & Mutou Yuugi
Word Count: 18.107
Rating: G
Summary: Every day presents a new opportunity, a new beginning, but also a new challenge and new temptations. While Kazuo slides down further into his addiction, Akina graduates from her performing arts school and Tzuziko gets married. Yuugi and Atemu face a minor crisis in their relationship.
Author's Notes: Interlude in the A sorta Fairytale storyline, set after part 8. End of series “fix-it”. Characters are around 47 years of age.





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Yuugi could barely keep his eyes open. It had been a hectic week and this Friday evening was the first moment he could actually sit down without any of his colleagues (or Kaiba) disturbing him. He didn’t even have the energy to cook dinner, his usual way to wind down from work; fortunately, he had taken care of that problem by text-messaging his residential Pharaoh and asking him with a kissy face if he would do the cooking tonight.

“Aibou! Dinner is ready!” Atemu called out to him.

“I’m too tired!” Yuugi hollered back. “Can’t you come here and feed me?”

Atemu approached the living room, his stride firm and confident. He stuck his head around the corner.

“Do you want me to bring you a bowl..?”

“No, no, I was just kidding. I’m coming over.” With a deep groan, Yuugi got up from the comfy couch and straightened himself. The scent of grilled fish lured him to the kitchen. His appetite was tantalized by the spices used in the dish; both Yuugi and Atemu had incorporated Egyptian-style food into their diets, especially after Malik Ishtar had taught them the basics during his visit. Yuugi sat at the table and yawned.

“You should go to bed early this evening, aibou,” Atemu said with slight concern in his voice.

“No, I want to watch the game show with you.” Yuugi didn’t want to miss out on their Friday evening tradition of watching a particular game show, a quiz on TV they both enjoyed.

“As you wish,” Atemu said. “Well, eat up, aibou.”

Yuugi ate a few pieces of the delicious flaky fish and instantly felt better. Those long days at work had just been killing him. “Kaiba-kun’s really pushing his Virtual Reality System V,” he started talking. “It’s going to be revolutionary when it’s finished!”

“Leave it to Kaiba to come up with technology that surpasses every boundary and imagination.” Atemu put more vegetables on Yuugi’s plate and he dutifully ate everything.

“It’s delicious, mou hitori no boku.”

“I am glad,” Atemu said, content. “Now you will go rest, while I take care of the dishes.”

“Oh, just forget about the dishes,” Yuugi said. “Come to the living room and relax with me?”

Atemu was sorely tempted. Yuugi batted his eyes at him, looking as cute as he could be. It worked, as usual; Atemu gave in quickly and they went to the living room to watch the game show. After it had ended, Atemu retreated to his study to answer some mails. Yuugi booted up his own laptop and groaned at the sight of the sheer number of emails waiting for him. Fortunately, Kaiba paid him a good salary to put up with all this work pressure. Even though Atemu didn’t mention anything about financial woes, Yuugi put in overtime a lot because of Akina’s expensive private performing arts school and recently, the entire roofing of the house had to be replaced… and that was aside from all the regular, monthly bills that kept pouring in.

Yuugi didn’t like to work alone and trotted towards Atemu’s study, Tzuziko’s former bedroom. Their eldest daughter had left the parental house and she was about to get married. Her boyfriend, Hosokawa Isao, had proposed to her after their graduation from Tokyo Medical & Dental University and now they were settling into their lives. Yuugi was very happy for the couple and was looking forward to the day, though a definite date hadn’t been picked yet. Tzuziko didn’t want it to coincide with her younger sister’s graduation. Akina was in the second year of her studies at the Masuda performing arts school and her graduation meant the world to her.

Tzuziko didn’t want to take that place in the spotlight away from her, but as a physician, she was also extremely busy and simply hadn’t had the time to make arrangements for the wedding. Yuugi went into the room, as always feeling comfortable in the warm, cozy study. It was such an improvement from the former cold and small study on the ground floor. Yuugi had told Atemu to decorate it the way he wanted to be. Atemu never asked something for himself, and he felt the former Pharaoh deserved his own space, exactly the way he’d like it to be. To no one’s surprise, the study had ended up Ancient Egypt-themed; Yuugi loved the sandy and beige colors.

“Do you mind if I sit here?” He wanted to have Atemu’s permission as he felt like he was entering the Pharaoh’s palace, and he didn’t want to disrespect him by just plopping down somewhere uninvited.

“Not at all,” Atemu said as he looked at Yuugi, a soft smile on his face.

“You can barely keep your eyes open either.” Yuugi walked over to Atemu and glanced at the laptop in front of him. “You have as much mail as I do!”

“They are mostly inquiries from tourists, aibou,” Atemu said, slightly derisively. It happened quite often that people approached his store to buy an Egyptian themed (mass produced) trinket, hence why Atemu referred to them as ‘tourists’. Whenever something interesting happened in Egypt, like the discovery of a tomb, he would receive a surge in emails from customers wondering if he had an online store where they could buy Tutankhamun-related gifts, not understanding that his antiquities store was rather exclusive, dealing in genuine ancient artifacts with a price tag that most people couldn’t afford. However, he did reply to every email and answered every inquiry; he had a professional reputation to maintain. “Let me show you something, aibou.”

Atemu switched programs, calling up a picture of a beautiful lapis lazuli necklace with as small scarab, refined and elegant. “This will be arriving soon,” he said. “It is beautiful, is it not?”

“It certainly is,” Yuugi agreed. “The buyer will be extremely pleased.”

Atemu nodded. “Let us work for another hour,” he suggested, “and then we shut our computers off. We need to think about our health and well-being.”

“You’re right. One more hour, then.”

Yuugi was pleased with what he was able to accomplish in an hour and he had no trouble shutting his laptop down when the time was up. They decided to retire for the night.

“Akina-chan’s going to be late?” Yuugi asked.

Atemu held his toothbrush and the toothpaste. “She did not expect to be home before midnight,” he answered. They both weren’t all that happy about Akina dancing and drinking until late at night, but the girl was almost twenty; they couldn’t keep her cooped up at home. They had to trust her, no matter how difficult it was. Yuugi slipped under the covers and Atemu followed suit. As usual, like every other night, Atemu spooned behind Yuugi, wrapping his arms around him. Yuugi was unable to sleep without his lover’s safe and warm presence and protection. After a while, he turned around to face Atemu.

“Mou hitori no boku.”

“Hm-mm?”

“When was the last time we had time for each other? Real quality time?”

Atemu opened his eyes. A small ray of moonlight fell through the skylight, lighting up the contours of his face. “I am afraid I do not know, aibou.”

“Exactly,” Yuugi said. “We’re working so hard. I thought it might lessen a little when the kids were older and more independent, but it feels like we’re putting in more hours than ever before.”

“There is just so much to do,” Atemu said. “The house, the store, everything for Akina’s school, your work…”

“We’re on the top of our careers, and even growing,” Yuugi said. “Kaiba wants to involve me all sorts of business and you’re asked for so many lectures and conventions, that we forget about ourselves, in every way.” He pressed a kiss to Atemu’s cheek. “Isn’t it sad that we can’t remember the last time we took the time for each other?”

“We kiss and snuggle a lot,” Atemu protested, albeit gently. Yuugi looked at him, drinking in the sight of the handsome face of the man he loved so much.

“I like kissing you, and I like snuggling with you,” Yuugi agreed and crept even closer. “But I want to feel you too. All the way. I want you on top of me, and I want to look you in the face when you take me.” He kissed him on the tip of his nose. “We shouldn’t have to schedule, but with our busy agendas, it’s probably for the best. I miss you.”

“You are right, aibou,” Atemu said. “We should definitely reserve time for ourselves. We should not lose sight of each other, due to all our obligations and duties.”

“We’ll start tomorrow, right away,” Yuugi said. “After we’ve done the grocery shopping, how about we take the rest of the afternoon off? We’ll do something together, like going to that tea house that opened recently?”

“I am all for it,” Atemu said.

“Great!” Yuugi snuggled up to him and completely entwined, they fell asleep.


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Kazuo’s music was blaring upon their return from the supermarket; it sounded like a group of people was trying to kill each other with chainsaws and motorcycles, screaming and wailing as loud as possible. Atemu went upstairs while Yuugi yelled: “Kazuo-kun, people in the house!”. That made him lower the volume most of the times, if only a little. Yuugi went upstairs as well, shaking his head, and bumped into Atemu and Akina in the kitchen.

“Good morning, Akina-chan,” he said. “We didn’t hear you come home yesterday.”

“Good morning, Hikari Papa,” she returned the greeting. “Sorry that it got so late. We’ve been so busy, we just had to dance the stress away.” Her graduation projects consisted of a group effort to produce a short movie and a play (one in Japanese, one in English), and two solo projects: for one, she had to write her own script and for the other one, she had to write and play a re-imagination of a scene from her favorite movie, free of choice. Needless to say, she was pouring every free minute and all of her energy into it.

“How are the projects coming along?” he asked.

“Completely going according to plan,” she said, smiling. “I have to learn my lines for the English script though, and I asked Souma-kun to help me.”

The young man had tutored Akina before. Yuugi nodded. “That’s okay.”

“Is it also okay if he stays for dinner? It’s going to take a while before I have all that English memorized.”

“But of course,” Atemu said, putting the groceries into the cabinets. “You need to eat well after so much hard work.”

Akina couldn’t help herself and stuck out her tongue to her Yami Papa, not to mock him but because she knew he was quite smitten with Tsutsumi Souma, in his eyes the perfect husband for his daughter. She wasn’t in love with him at all, she just regarded him as a good friend. Her current boyfriend, Kimura Yoshitora, wasn’t as popular in the Mutou household, though neither Yuugi nor Atemu let it show. The former Pharaoh thought he was a pompous ass and Yuugi didn’t exactly disagree, but for the well-being of their daughter, of course they welcomed her boyfriend in their home.

“We won’t be around in the afternoon,” Yuugi said.

“Not? But I wanted to perform in front of you,” Akina said. “Who else is going to listen to my declamation?”

“We’ll be back before dinner,” Yuugi reassured her. “That leaves us plenty of time to watch your performance, Akina-chan. We want to go to a tea house.”

“Neat,” she said. “Have fun! I’ll be ready when you get back.”


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“This is an exquisite blend,” Atemu said after the first sip of his tea. Yuugi inhaled the aroma, he hadn’t tasted it yet. He felt very relaxed already, not having to think of any other obligation for this afternoon. Maybe scheduled time-off wasn’t such a bad idea after all. This kissaten, a typical tearoom annex coffee shop, had opened recently at the edge of Domino City Park. It was a bit of an outdated concept, especially with the impressive (and aggressive) rise of many Western-style cafés appealing to the young population in town. The Kyubei, a couple in their mid-forties, understood that not everyone was fond of a hip, cool place with lots of loud music and youngsters drinking coffee, and provided a place where the original tea ceremony and its traditions was kept in high regard, and where customers could sit down comfortably, no stress or pressure. Yuugi carefully sipped the hot liquid.

“I like it,” he said. “I think it’s very deep, more like a winter blend.”

“You are right,” Atemu said. “I like how the flavor is so deep and rich.”

Yuugi nodded. He reclined into his seat, knowing that Atemu wanted to talk about something. It wasn’t something grave, or else he would’ve sensed anxiety or worry coming from the other.

“What’s on your mind, mou hitori no boku?” he asked. Atemu wasn’t surprised at all that Yuugi asked before he could bring it up himself. Their bond ran so deep and was so intense and unique that it looked like they were sharing a mindlink again, just like when they had shared the same body. They were so in sync with each other’s emotions and feelings that they could simply sense what was going on with the other, anticipating without words.

Atemu put his cup of tea down. “Aibou, I got an invitation to an antique fair,” he said. Yuugi nodded, this wasn’t uncommon. “The International Antique Fair in Tokyo. It is an excellent opportunity to meet people in my field, and to exchange experiences and knowledge.”

“And you would like to go,” Yuugi assumed. “You don’t need to ask for my permission, mou hitori no boku. It’s your line of work, your field of interest. Of course you should go!” He wondered briefly if Atemu wanted to ask him to come along. He certainly had more than enough free days, but an antique fair was so boring. Atemu shook his head, answering Yuugi’s unspoken question.

“It spans several days,” he said. “This year’s theme is Ancient Egypt, and along with my invitation, I was asked to give a couple of lectures and attend several meetings.”

“That’s great,” Yuugi said, until the full realization hit him. “Several days?”

“Three, actually,” Atemu said apologetically. Tokyo wasn’t exactly close to Domino City. In their corner of the kissaten, Yuugi put his hand over Atemu’s.

“You should go,” he said. “Accept that invitation and go. It’s about your home, your roots. You belong there.”

“But… three days, aibou.”

Yuugi knew what he meant. They hadn’t been apart for one day since a very long time. Atemu visited fairs, conventions and other antique shows quite frequently, but he was always back home by the end of the day, come hell or high water. However, this Tokyo fair was too much of an opportunity to pass up, and Yuugi would never forgive himself if he didn’t give his consent.

“You should go,” he repeated. “You’re going to like it there. Take this opportunity, mou hitori no boku.”

“It is in the middle of the week,” Atemu said. “Wednesday through Friday.”

“All right.” Yuugi took another sip. “That means we’ll have the weekend to catch up on lost time.” He showed Atemu a lewd grin. “And I know exactly how.”

“Aibou..!” Atemu was very pleased though, as he hid his smile behind his cup. More seriously, he said: “I wish you would come with me.”

“I know,” Yuugi answered. Atemu knew just as well that Yuugi would be bored; not because of the Ancient Egyptian theme, but because of all the meetings with other antique dealers, talking about nothing but artifacts and other stuffy old objects. It made Yuugi feel extremely guilty, that he didn’t share any interest in this part of Atemu’s life. He’d seen more than enough of Ancient Egypt and since the Puzzle was gone, he didn’t care for other artifacts either. “I’m going to miss you very, very much.”

“So am I.” Atemu hadn’t touched the bowl with sweets, while Yuugi had been snacking on them.

“The dango is delicious. Would you like some?”

“No, thank you, I am fine,” Atemu said. It always amused Yuugi to no end that the former Pharaoh didn’t like sweets, yet he doused honey all over his yogurt, making Yuugi squirm at the sheer amount. He picked up the last of the dango.

“We should do this more often,” he said. “Reserving time in our agendas, just for ourselves.”

“It has been so hectic,” Atemu admitted. “And there is still a lot going to happen: Akina’s graduation, Tzuziko’s wedding…”

“Busy, busy, busy,” Yuugi said. “What are we going to wear to the graduation and the wedding? A tux? Should we rent or buy?”

“I would like to buy a new one,” Atemu said. “What do you think?”

“As long as we’re going to buy it together,” Yuugi said. “You look so sexy in a suit.”


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Yuugi’s hours at KaibaCorp. were mostly hogged by Duel Monsters. The game had attained the same crazy height in popularity as in Yuugi’s teenage years. He was asked to give demonstrations and master classes and as he had helped to relaunch the game, by designing many new cards and revamping the rules, Yuugi was completely submerged by it once more. However, at home, he never played the game; too many connections to the Ceremonial Duel. He didn’t even play the board game, and Atemu never asked about it either. He didn’t mind to hear Yuugi’s stories about the game though, but neither one of them suggested dueling ever again – two minds alike, as usual.

Atemu was preparing for his upcoming trip to Tokyo, gathering materials and information for his lectures. Yuugi wasn’t looking forward to him leaving. With Akina so often away and Kazuo also being scarcely around, he didn’t like to sit alone at the kitchen table for three consecutive evenings. He planned to ask Jounouchi and Honda over for dinner so they could catch up, and perhaps Otogi for the second evening. He could always invite himself over at Anzu’s for the third evening, so if he planned it right… Yuugi’s head was still spinning from all the details he had heard about Kaiba’s new Virtual Reality system today and he wanted to do nothing else but to kick back and relax. When he opened the front door, Kazuo’s voice rolled downstairs, voluminous and angry.

“… fucking put it in your fucking stupid study!”

“… asked you politely where you put it,” that was Atemu’s voice. What was going on? In record time, Yuugi put up his coat and changed into his house slippers, running up the stairs at breakneck speed.

“I don’t have it!” Kazuo yelled as Yuugi appeared in the door opening of the kitchen.

“What’s going on?” he immediately blurted out. Father and son stood opposite of each other, Kazuo towering over Atemu.

“I only asked him a question,” the former Pharaoh said.

“He accuses me of stealing things!” Kazuo yelled.

“Kazuo-kun, volume down. What happened?”

“Remember the lapis lazuli scarab necklace I showed you earlier?” Atemu elaborated. “I called the shipping company why it hadn’t arrived yet, as I was expecting it two weeks ago already. They told me they had delivered it by private courier and that someone had signed for it upon receipt. I asked them to mail me a copy of the signed document. It was Kazuo’s signature.”

“I don’t deny that,” Kazuo said, heatedly. He bounced from one foot to another.

“He told me that he had put it on my desk, in my study,” Atemu continued. “But I cannot find it.”

“That’s not my problem! I put it there, right there!” Kazuo held his hands apart. “It wasn’t that big. I took it upstairs!”

“It is not there,” Atemu repeated.

“I didn’t take it!”

Yuugi eyed his son suspiciously, not because of what happened with the necklace. He could see that Kazuo’s eyes were dilated, and that jittery bouncing from one foot to another was a tell-taling sign. “I’m so sick of being treated like a criminal!”

“You leave us very little choice, Kazuo-kun,” Yuugi said. “You’ve been using again. What did I say about that?”

“No drugs in the house,” Kazuo mocked his tone of voice. “You can check my room. I have nothing on me!”

Yuugi refrained from answering. Technically, Kazuo had never brought drugs into the house indeed, but it was apparent that he had taken something and the conversation would only get worse from here, with more screaming and yelling.

“I’m going to get to the bottom of this,” he finally said. “Go to your room, you’re high and aggravated.”

Kazuo grumbled, but he accepted Yuugi’s order and walked out of the kitchen, muttering expletives under his breath. Atemu was angry as well, and Yuugi directed him to a kitchen seat.

“I did not accuse him of stealing,” Atemu said. “I simply asked where he had put the package. Before I knew it, he was screaming his head off.”

“He’s high,” Yuugi said. “Whenever he’s been using, he flies off the handle about the littlest things.”

Atemu supported his head with one of his hands, heaving a sigh. “I wanted to take the necklace with me to Tokyo. The client who ordered it, will be there.”

“I’ll help you search for it,” Yuugi offered.

“No aibou, you need to rest and eat. You just came home from your busy workday.”

“And you don’t need to eat?” Yuugi looked sternly at him. “You know I don’t like it when you skip meals. You’re always so quick to forget to eat and you’re already thin, mou hitori no boku.”

He relented. “All right, we will have something to eat and then we will search for the necklace.”

“No one else could’ve taken it, somehow?” Yuugi didn’t want to imply that Akina might’ve been the culprit; she never came into her father’s study and she wasn’t the kind of person to snoop around. Kazuo on the other hand, had lied before, yet Yuugi was hesitant to accuse him of stealing the necklace. He had accepted the package and claimed to have taken it upstairs and put it in Atemu’s study- but had he really done that? If he’d been high when accepting the package, he might think he had taken it upstairs… Yuugi felt guilty. They had visited the lovely kissaten that Saturday afternoon, just to break away from their hectic schedules and obligations, and right that moment, the private courier had arrived.

“I doubt it,” Atemu answered. “It has to be around here somewhere.”

They had dinner, but Yuugi obviously noticed that Atemu wasn’t enjoying the food, so he hurried to finish as quickly as possible. He plunked the dirty dishes in the sink and they started their search. Hours later, they had turned the entire house upside down, safe for Kazuo’s bedroom and Akina’s, as Atemu and Yuugi didn’t want to enter her bedroom without her permission.
Exhausted, they sat on the couch, both exhausted from the search. No sign of the necklace anywhere. It was a precious artifact that couldn’t simply be ordered again.

“I will own it up to the client,” Atemu said, downtrodden. “He has not paid in full yet, but it is a great sale I am missing.”

“I’m sorry, mou hitori no boku.”

“Why are you apologizing, aibou?”

“I know how much it affects you,” Yuugi said. “You’re upset, and we both know what we don’t want to say out loud.”

Atemu lowered his head a little. He didn’t look Yuugi in the eyes. He knew he was right; neither one of them wanted to say that Kazuo might’ve stolen the necklace and sold it cheaply to buy himself or his mother drugs. Atemu was also missing a small statue that he had ordered for a client who withdrew from the sale at the last moment. He had kept the artifact, knowing he could sell it any other time, but it had disappeared from the store. He first thought he had misplaced it, but he was extremely meticulous with his inventory, comprising of valuable artifacts and objects. He had never spoken it out loud, and Yuugi never asked.

Yuugi often missed money from his wallet; he had confronted Kazuo about it, but the boy had never admitted nor denied taking the money. Yuugi made all of his purchases with his debit card and only kept loose change, but it disappeared just as quickly, as if the thief didn’t even want to bother hiding the actual theft. He didn’t like the idea that it was wasted on a quick fix of weed or a couple of pills. At Yuugi’s request, Atemu didn’t meddle with Kazuo anymore to keep the peace, but Yuugi had already realized that Kazuo, despite treating him with a little more respect, didn’t listen or obey him either. He had told his son to make a choice, but he never came back to it, keeping the situation in an impasse. Something had to happen. If Kazuo was truly stealing from the store... Yuugi opened his mouth, but Atemu raised his hand, pressing his fingers to Yuugi’s lips.

“Not tonight,” he said.

“I understand.” Yuugi snuggled up to him on the couch and enjoyed their time together.


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Domino City Airport was crowded, as usual. Yuugi pushed the trolley with Atemu’s suitcase and his laptop bag. He tried to ignore his anxiety as he was about to be separated from the love of his life. It was just three days, just three days… earlier this morning, Akina had said a teary-eyed goodbye to her Yami Papa; the girl didn’t like it one bit that her favorite father would be gone. Yuugi kept repeating the ‘just three days’ mantra to himself as they arrived at the gate. Atemu checked his ticket and the departing time once more. Yuugi put up a brave smile. Atemu had asked him again and again if he was okay with it and Yuugi had said yes; this was important to the former Pharaoh, and he would never forgive himself for denying this to him.

“You’ve got everything?” he asked for the umpteenth time. Atemu showed him his ticket.

“Yes, I am all set.”

Yuugi halted the trolley and moved to hug him. He couldn’t care less if people were offended by two men hugging and kissing, he was going to miss him and he wanted to be with him until the last moment!

“Come back safe and sound, mou hitori no boku,” he whispered.

“I will, aibou.” Atemu returned the hug. “I will call you as soon as I arrive.”

“You better.” They had waited until the last moment, as to make the painful goodbye as quick as possible. Yuugi would return to KaibaCorp. as soon as he had seen Atemu off; he was glad that he had his job to distract him. Jounouchi hadn’t been available for tonight but he would come over tomorrow, together with Honda. Yuugi was looking forward to that, but not to being alone tonight; Akina wasn’t at home either, busy with her graduation projects. A quick kiss as Atemu didn’t like much more than that in public, and they exchanged a couple of sweet words, as his flight already was boarding. He had to hurry; Yuugi waved at him as Atemu went through the gate and as soon as he was out of sight, he heaved a very deep sigh. It was time to get back to work and get distracted.

On his way home, Yuugi ran some errands and got himself groceries. Maybe Kazuo would have dinner with him, but he wasn’t counting on it. His son was all but reclusive, retreating into his room all the time. He only came out to take a shower or to raid the fridge, and for the rest Yuugi didn’t know where his son hung out. Maybe in the next couple of days he could have a talk with him. With his arms full of grocery bags, Yuugi opened the door and was greeted by the infamous death metal Kazuo liked so much.

“People in the house, Kazuo-kun!” Yuugi hollered. Usually Kazuo would lower the volume, but now he didn’t. Yuugi didn’t think much of it. He took off his coat and slid into his house slippers. He went upstairs, into the kitchen and took care of the groceries. He pulled out pots and pans, and the heavy drumbeat of Kazuo’s music almost shook the entire house. Most of the time, Yuugi would simply shrug it off or remind Kazuo once more to turn the volume down, but he was already agitated, missing the other half of his soul, and the loud thumping noise and throaty grunting voices grated on his nerves. He stomped down the stairs and hollered again: “Kazuo-kun! People in the house!”

Only now he noticed that the door to Kazuo’s room was slightly ajar. That was strange, as he always closed himself off, listening to that loud music or playing those violent video games.

“Kazuo-kun?” Yuugi stuck his head around the door. Kazuo was on the bed, lying face down, his arms spread over the bed linens. There was nothing relaxed about his posture. Yuugi’s first instinct was to leave him alone and close the door again, but something told him it wasn’t right. Kazuo was lying too still. Fear crept into his stomach. He went into the room and shut down the music first. Yuugi approached the bed, calling out Kazuo’s name more urgently with every step. His hand trembled slightly as he reached for his son’s shoulder.

“Kazuo-kun?” He shook him. No reaction. Yuugi leaned a little into him and saw a very small, plastic bag next to his elbow with remnants of ground white powder. A few cans of cheap beer, the liquid still leaking on the bed, surrounded the bag. His heart froze. Quickly, he grabbed his cell phone and dialed the emergency number.

“Send an ambulance!” Yuugi yelled his address. “My son has taken an overdose! Hurry!” He took the small plastic bag and stuffed it into his pants pocket. Perhaps in the hospital, they could research the ground white powder and determine its properties. He didn’t want to think about it, forcefully steering his thoughts into a different direction. He yearned to call Atemu. His strong and wise Pharaoh, he would immediately drop everything out of his hands and take the first plane home. Yuugi was still in doubt whether to call him or not, when the ambulance arrived. Everything happened in a flash; the paramedics stabilized Kazuo before hauling him off on a gurney to the hospital, to get his stomach pumped. Yuugi was allowed to come along and during the ride to the hospital, he held his son’s hand and told the unresponsive Kazuo that everything was going to be all right.


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In the hospital, Yuugi was told to wait. As he paced back and forth, his phone rang – it was Atemu, probably to tell him that he had arrived safely. Yuugi stared at the display. What should he do? If he mentioned one word about Kazuo, Atemu would immediately return home. As a matter of fact, Yuugi would love it if Atemu would be here right now, holding him, comforting him. This was a very serious matter, and Atemu would be terribly upset with him if he didn’t tell him. Yuugi took a deep breath. He was going to lie to his other self. It was a terrible decision, but he would deal with the consequences later. He pressed the button to accept the call.

“Mou hitori no boku,” he said, thanking his lucky stars he was in an empty waiting room, so the hospital sounds weren’t that obvious. He was also lucky that Atemu was calling from the hotel lobby, creating a lot of distracting noises on his side.

“Aibou, I am in Tokyo,” he said, “and I had a terrible flight. I just made it in time for the dinner!”

Ah yes, the invitation-only dinner for the participating and visiting antique dealers. Yuugi kept his fingers crossed. Atemu was too occupied to notice his slightly high-pitched and jittery voice. He had never been good at lying, and if Atemu hadn’t been that far away and slightly distraught, he would’ve picked up on it effortlessly.

“You eat well now, hear me?” Yuugi said, focusing on Atemu, which calmed him. “You have the terrible habit of not eating when you’re not feeling okay. And after dinner you’ll get some rest, all right?”

“I will,” Atemu said. He sounded amused, even. “I will think of you in my dreams.”

“I’ll dream of you too,” Yuugi said. Atemu said that he had to go and they ended the connection. Yuugi released the breath he’d been holding. A few other people had joined him in the waiting room, discreetly turning away from him as to not intrude on his phone call. Yuugi sat down and picked up a magazine, but he couldn’t focus. When a nurse finally came for him, he dropped the magazine out of his hands.

“Mutou-san?” She gave him a friendly smile. “You can go to room 50 B.”

“Thank you so much.” He bowed to her and quickly left in search of the room. It was on the second floor; a spacious room with four beds. Only two were occupied at the moment. Kazuo was in the one closest to the window, looking pale and haggard. In the harsh hospital lights, Yuugi could actually see how skinny he was. Despite eating so much, Kazuo looked underfed. His collarbones protruded from his ghastly skin, and the IV attached to his bony hand formed a grotesque bump.

“Kazuo-kun,” Yuugi said, keeping his voice low as to not bother the other patient. He opened his eyes, slowly. When seeing Yuugi, he frowned weakly and turned his head away. “What happened? Why did you do this?”

“Did you call him?” He brusquely asked, his voice raspy, throat irritated.

Yuugi didn’t understand at first. “Who?”

“Him, of course,” he said.

“Your father,” Yuugi answered. “No, I haven’t called him yet. I was too busy worrying over you.”

Kazuo refused to look at him and stubbornly stared out the window.

“Why?” Yuugi asked. Kazuo shrugged. Maybe it was the wrong question to ask. The last thing they needed right now, was a heated discussion about how, why or what. Yuugi relented. “Is there anything I can do for you, Kazuo-kun?”

“I don’t want to see him,” Kazuo said.

“He’s in Tokyo, for crying out loud,” Yuugi said, unable to keep the irritation from his voice. What had Atemu done to Kazuo to make him despise him so much? Why had Kazuo picked him and isolated him to take out all his frustrations on? “You know, if I were to call your father, he’d fly over immediately to see and to help you. I know you’d never do the same if it were the other way around, but think about what your father would sacrifice right away if he heard you were in the hospital.”

“I don’t care. He can stay in Tokyo forever.”

Yuugi felt anger well up in him and he mentally urged himself to stay calm. “Is there anything I can do for you?” he asked again. Kazuo stared at his hands.

“I want to see my mother,” he said, voice soft. For the briefest of moments, Yuugi caught a glimpse of that rare vulnerability that Kazuo had shown before, the hurt and lonely boy who desperately searched for love and attention in all the wrong places. It was replaced immediately by that dense wall that Atemu had crashed himself into, and Yuugi was about to do the same. All that pain, all that grief, and nothing ever changed, no matter how hard he tried.

“I’ll look her up,” Yuugi said. “Where does she live?”

Kazuo gave an address in the Hasimoto district, an old, ratty suburb most people avoided. Local government had petitioned to tear the dilapidated buildings down and transform it into a hip, new suburb with restaurants, cafés and businesses, but no project investors had come forth. Every city had an underbelly, and Domino City wasn’t an exemption. Hasimoto was a gathering place for the social weak, the outcasts, the criminals and the rejected. Yuugi checked his watch. “I’ll go see her tomorrow,” he said. “I’m going to talk to a doctor.”

“When can I leave?” Kazuo asked.

“I’m sure the doctor wants to keep you for the night, for observation. I’ll see you tomorrow and then I’ll bring some clothes for you.”

Kazuo didn’t answer and Yuugi left the room, emotions running high. He couldn’t find the doctor but a helpful nurse told him what he had already expected: Kazuo had to stay for the night. Tired and upset, Yuugi went home and straight to bed. An empty, cold bed and for the first time in decades, he wished he had the Puzzle with him, yearning to feel its familiar weight.


----------------------------------



Yuugi had put in more than enough overtime throughout the years, but he didn’t want his work to suffer. Family problems were his problems, not KaibaCorp.’s. He was very lucky with such a flexible employer; KaibaCorp had granted him time off for family-related issues before: when the children were adopted, when his grandfather and mother had passed away. KaibaCorp. was very lenient, and not because he was Mutou Yuugi; their employee benefits were simply the best in all of Japan. Yuugi told his secretary that he’d be at his office until three o’clock. He skipped lunch and any other break to get his daily work done. When it was around three, he took his coat and left, hurrying towards the subway station. Yuugi had no idea how to prepare himself mentally and dreaded the stop for the Hasimoto district. Well, he had dealt with the likes of Pegasus, Dartz and Kaiba, surely he could deal with the biological mother of his son?

He immediately regretted not going home and change first. He obviously stood out as a sore thumb in his business suit; not that his clothes were expensive, it was just a very different… attire from the people on the streets. Ragged clothes, mismatching and ill-fitting, often stained. They looked unabashedly at him, eyes taking in his suit; he refused to back down and met their gaze, one by one. Holding a straight posture and walking upright in a confident stance, he searched for the right address. It was daunting to see the young age of many people on the streets. Some of them crept back into the shadows, hiding themselves from public view; others dared him to look at them, taunting him with just their eyes. Some of the girls wore exclusive clothes, often stressing their slender figure, but they had that same worked up, hyper active glitter in their eyes like Kazuo after he had used something.

Yuugi shivered and continued walking. People kept staring at him, some turned away from him, and others looked at him curiously. He halted in front of another run-down house. This had to be the right one. The door was open and a rotten stench hit his face. Grimacing, Yuugi went inside the building. In the hallway, with empty pizza boxes and garbage strewn all over the floor, a boy and a girl younger than Kazuo, were kissing. There was nothing romantic or cute about the couple; they both looked worse for wear, their eyes soulless and empty. He shivered once more.

The girl was too young to be Kazuo’s mother, so he kept looking. The kitchen was empty, the sink filled with dirty dishes and empty food cartons, wrappers, and more garbage accumulating around an open trash can. He went upstairs. Someone was sobbing loudly and a harsh voice told him or her to shut up, aggressively. Yuugi looked around when he reached the first floor; a man walked straight up to him, zippering up with a lewd grin on his face.

“Second door on the left,” he grinned at Yuugi, who stared at him incredulously. The man went downstairs and Yuugi waited until he had disappeared out of sight before moving on. The second door on the left was open and he pushed against it. A woman, with her back turned to him, sat on the rumpled bed, putting on her bra. The room held no more furniture than said bed, a chair and a cupboard. The window was open, letting a cool breeze in; it barely covered up a rancid smell of sex, sweat, dirty clothes and various drugs, burned for consumption.

“Kawagichi-san?” he asked when the woman was done dressing herself. She reached for something on the chair; Yuugi didn’t recognize the attributes and hoped it wasn’t any drug paraphernalia.

“It’s been a long time since someone addressed me with -‘san’,” she said, barking a crude laugh. “Leave me alone, I’m done for today.”

“I’m sorry to bother you, Kawagichi-san, but I need to talk to you.” His polite speech made her turn around, her face carrying a suspicious look, and she narrowed her eyes as she gauged him, measuring him up and down.

“What do you want from me?”

“It’s about Kazuo-kun,” Yuugi said.

“What about him?” She put her chin forward. “Isn’t he going to bring me the shit I wanted? Are you going to get it for me? I told him to get it to me! I need it!”

“Your son is in the hospital,” Yuugi said.

“So?”

Yuugi was aghast. “Don’t you even want to know what happened to him?”

She shrugged, in the same way as Kazuo always did. It hurt. “He can take care of himself.”

No, he can’t. “He was asking for you,” Yuugi said. “For his mother.”

Silence. She looked at Yuugi again. “At least I did something right,” she said without any hint of sarcasm or self-pity. “My son ended up with someone with a steady job and a roof over his head. You’re his father, right? The Egyptologomist.”

“I’m his father, yes,” Yuugi said. “My partner has roots in Egypt.”

She made a dismissive gesture. “Sorry, too posh for me. I barely finished high school. A baby will do that to you.”

“The adoption agency didn’t give out any information,” Yuugi said, withholding the “only that his mother was a junkie” part. “I’m not here to judge you or condemn you, Kawagichi-san. He asked for you, so I’m here to ask you to go please see your son.”

She mulled over his words. She looked much older than she was supposed to be, the prolonged drug use having left its marks. She scratched her arm. “How am I supposed to get to the hospital?” she finally asked, annoyed. “I don’t have a car.”

Yuugi took out his wallet and held out a couple of bills. “This should be enough to cover your fare.”

She grabbed it, all but tearing it from his hand. “Fine, I’ll go visit him.” Yuugi opened his mouth, wanting to hear an “I promise” from her, but he knew it was too much to ask for. She glared at him and he stepped back, out of the room. He left the house as fast as his legs could carry him, and it was only in the subway on his way home that he realized that she never asked which hospital Kazuo had been taken to.


------------------------------------



Jounouchi slurped the noodle soup and put down his bowl as he was done. “Delicious as usual, Yuugi,” he said. “No matter how often I try to make it myself, I never succeed as well as you do!”

Yuugi smiled at him. No matter how bleak a situation, Jounouchi always succeeded in making him smile and laugh again, distracting him from the things at hand. Honda was just as good a friend as Jounouchi and Yuugi was glad they had came over, especially after he had told them about what had happened. After leaving the Hasimoto district, Yuugi had hurried home and taken a shower of at least thirty minutes. He had dumped his clothes in the hamper and had tried everything to get that rancid smell out of his nose, by burning incense everywhere in the house and using lots of air refreshers. After that, he had called Jounouchi who couldn’t believe him and immediately said he’d come over, and by default, Honda as well. Yuugi had ordered take-out as his mind wasn’t exactly focused on cooking dinner and so he ended up with his best friends at the kitchen table, laden with food; he had ordered way too much.

“So, what does our Pharaoh think about the entire situation?” Honda asked, after finishing an entire box of ebi fry. “Is he on his way back home?”

Yuugi colored a deep shade of red. Jounouchi tilted his head.

“You can’t be serious, Yuugi. You haven’t told him yet?”

As to make matters worse, Yuugi’s cell phone buzzed constantly with messages and pictures from Atemu, showing how much of a good time he had at the convention.

Honda was in shock. “You didn’t tell him?”

“Not yet, not yet,” Yuugi defended himself weakly. “It’s so important that he’s doing something for himself, I don’t want to take that away from him.”

“But Yuugi, Kazuo is his son too,” Jounouchi protested.

“I know, and I also know he’s going to be very upset and disappointed,” Yuugi said. “But that’s for me to deal with. I made this decision.”

“You made a lousy decision,” Honda said harshly. “You can’t keep this from him!”

“I will tell him,” Yuugi answered heatedly. “I don’t want him to miss out on the opportunity of his lifetime. He’s at that convention, having the time of his life talking to people he know about his beloved homeland. Besides, he has taken the brunt of everything for far too long. I told him that I would step up to the plate. Enough is enough.”

“This is too much for one man alone,” Jounouchi reminded him. “We’re not talking about a fever here, Yuugi. He has taken an overdose. He could’ve died!”

“I know,” Yuugi almost yelled in despair. “I’m having a hard time dealing with it, and mou hitori… he’s going to take it hard. I want him to have some time for himself, to not be burdened…”

“I understand your reasoning,” Jounouchi filled up his bowl again, “but I don’t agree with it. This is far too important, Yuugi. If it were one of my kids, I’d be devastated if I hadn’t been told about it. He’s definitely not going to be happy about this.”

“I know,” Yuugi repeated, voice a mere whisper.

Jounouchi took pity on him. “You know where you can reach us,” he said, leaving the ‘when the shit hits the fan’ unspoken. They continued dinner, but no one commented on Yuugi not touching any of the food.


----------------------------------------



Yuugi had an incredible bad night. He tossed and turned, not used to sleeping alone. He missed Atemu's arms around him, his familiar calming presence. It was eating him alive that he had lied to him; but what other option did he have? Yuugi sighed and turned on his side again, blinking at the alarm clock. He was glad that at least someone in the house was sleeping peacefully; Akina had come home late, after Jounouchi and Honda had already left. She was shocked to hear the news about her brother. She wanted to visit him, even though he hadn't always been kind to her and had often mocked or belittled her choice to become an actress. Yuugi had promised to accompany her to the hospital whenever she wanted to go. He felt so conflicted. He couldn’t wait for Atemu to be home again, yet he dreaded the moment at the same time. He had to come clean, he had to confess that he had lied to him. Every hour seemed to go by like an agonizing century. Maybe it was for the best if tomorrow never arrived. Yuugi buried himself in the blankets. He should’ve told the other half of his soul, convention be damned.

He was startled out of his restless sleep by the beeping alarm clock. Yuugi chugged down several cups of strong, black coffee to keep him awake after his broken night. Grumpily, he rode the subway to KaibaCorp. and locked himself into his office. His secretary only needed one look at his facial expression to understand that he didn't want to be disturbed, and he was grateful for her tact and discretion. Unfortunately, work didn't distract him as much as he hoped it would and he was still struggling to answer his email when it was time to go to the airport to pick up Atemu. Sighing once more, Yuugi packed up his stuff, bade his secretary goodbye and took the bus to Domino City airport. His stomach was bouncing up and down and going around in circles. He hadn’t eaten anything since yesterday afternoon, yet he wanted to throw up.

Yuugi checked the arrival times; the flight from Tokyo had a fifteen minutes delay. It was only delaying the inevitable. He bought himself another cup of coffee but couldn't get himself to drink it; the hot liquid burned holes in his stomach. He waited and waited, his anxiety growing. Watching the electronic message boards, Atemu’s flight had landed and the passengers were en route to retrieve their luggage. Finally, the first passengers showed up and reunited with friends or family. Yuugi craned his neck. Atemu was easy to spot in the crowd; relief and love washed all over him and he waved exuberantly. The former Pharaoh noticed him immediately and returned the wave, picking up the pace to close the distance between them as quickly as possible. Wordlessly, Yuugi flung himself into his arms. The moment he inhaled Atemu's familiar scent, he started to sob.

"Aibou," Atemu said fondly. Just to hear the sound of his voice, set Yuugi off even more and he sobbed louder. Atemu shifted his arms, keeping one around Yuugi’s waist and the other one on the back of Yuugi's head, his hand soothingly stroking and petting his hair. "I am never going to leave you again. It is not worth it."

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," Yuugi said, his voice muffled against Atemu's chest. "I did it all wrong. I’m too weak, mou hitori no boku."

"What are you talking about? You are the strongest person I know." Atemu held him close, the two of them an island amidst a sea of travelers. People were too occupied to pay attention to them; even so, Atemu would value Yuugi's comfort above anyone else's. "Let us go home," he said.

"No, we can't," Yuugi said. He wanted to break himself free and look Atemu in the eyes, but he couldn't. Shivering, he pressed himself even closer.

"What do you mean?" Atemu sounded alarmed. Taking another deep breath, Yuugi mustered the courage to look up and blurted out everything about Kazuo and his overdose. Atemu's expression went from shocked to angry to concerned. Yuugi didn't let go of him and clung to him, fearing the inevitable silence.

"Mou hitori no boku, say something."

"We will go to the hospital first," Atemu said.

"Are you sure?"

"He is my son," Atemu said. “I want to see him.” Yuugi nodded and he hooked his arm through Atemu's. Together, they left the airport.

Atemu was silent during their ride to the hospital, which took twenty minutes by subway. Yuugi knew that the hard part still had to come, it wasn't over yet. Right now, he didn't speak either but simply sat next to the man he loved so much. No words were exchanged while they climbed the stairs to the second floor, to room 50-B. All the beds were occupied and Kazuo, close to the window, looked up with eagerness and hope, until he saw Yuugi and Atemu. His facial expression changed in a split second, but Yuugi was sure Atemu had seen the disappointment. As they had traveled straight from the airport, they still had Atemu's suitcase and laptop bag with them. Atemu set the luggage aside to approach Kazuo.

"What are you doing here?" Kazuo spat.

"I came to see my son," Atemu said. He too was shaken by how ghastly Kazuo was looking, despite having a little more color to his cheeks than yesterday.

"Well, you’ve seen me, now you can go," he grumped.

"Kazuo-kun," Yuugi said. "We came directly from the airport."

"So what?" He defensively crossed his arms in front of his chest.

"What did the doctor say?" Atemu wanted to know.

"Ask him," Kazuo pointed rudely at Yuugi, "he spoke to a doctor."

Yuugi shook his head. "Not yet." He looked from one to another, unsure whether this had been his cue to remove himself so Atemu and Kazuo could talk... but the tension had already increased tenfold, hanging thick and heavy in the air. He grasped for something to say. "Has Kawagichi-san paid you a visit?"

"She'll be here," Kazuo said. "She can be here any moment!"

"Kawagichi-san?" Atemu repeated, not immediately recognizing the name.

"My mother," Kazuo said, "she’ll come to visit me!"

"Your mother? How would she even know you are here?" Atemu didn't understand, while Yuugi turned red. Kazuo picked up on it infallibly.

“She’ll take me home,” he said.

Yuugi shook his head. “Don’t go there, Kazuo-kun,” he pleaded, but it was too late.

“She’ll never accuse me of stealing,” Kazuo didn’t bother to keep his voice down, “it’s all your fault! You and your stupid fucking necklace!”

“What?” Atemu visibly paled.

“I never thought to take the stuff, until you pushed that shit with the necklace on me,” Kazuo insisted. Yuugi didn’t know what else to say but ‘stop, please!’. Kazuo’s voice increased even more in volume and everyone in the room stopped to listen to them. Atemu made a movement and for a moment Yuugi thought he was collapsing, but instead he grabbed the handle of his suitcase and tugged at it.

“I need some fresh air,” Atemu said, turned around and left the room.

Yuugi stood next to his son’s bed, curling his fingers around the chrome bars. He looked at Kazuo who defiantly stared back. His expression was mixed, like triumph was fighting over something else that Yuugi couldn’t identify. He found himself uncaring; his limit had been reached.

“You think you have nothing to fear from me,” Yuugi said, voice uncharacteristically low and cold. “You think that because I’m the one who gave you the most chances, you can manipulate me to do whatever you please. You have crossed the lines again and again, and yes, I’ve allowed a lot. I’ve allowed it to come this far. I believe in second chances, in third chances. But now the time has come to draw the definitive line.” He didn’t give Kazuo an opportunity to respond. “Have you forgotten who you were talking to? Have you forgotten who you have hurt and rebuked, over and over again? To you, he’s your father, but to me, he’s my life. He’s more than my life, he’s everything I have, everything that gives me a reason to exist. I love him with every heartbeat more than the previous heartbeat, and you dared to accuse him of being responsible for your current situation. This is where I draw the line, Kazuo.”

His son’s eyes went wide, without hearing the so familiar –‘kun’ to his name. He opened his mouth, but Yuugi cut him off. “The man who taught you how to walk, how to read, how to write. The man who loves you and believes in you as the son you are to him, and you gave him nothing but disdain. You were so busy disliking him that you forgot what he meant to me. You took me for granted, and your father as the ultimate punching bag to take out your frustrations on. Do you even realize how many times he stood up for you, defended you, protected you? No, you were too busy ‘caring’ for people who don’t give a rat’s ass about you, using you for the money and stuff you bring them, and in return they ‘reward’ you with substances that puts you in the hospital! We tried to help you, we willingly perpetuated the cycle because we wanted to keep you safe. That’s going to change now. You just broke your own safety net, Kazuo. My place is no longer at your side, but at his side. I don’t care anymore how that makes you feel. We both have done more than enough for you. As soon as the doctor discharges you, you’re going to a rehab and you’ll stay there as long as it takes for you to kick the habit. Then, we’ll look for a place for you to live. You’re not coming back to our house. It’s our house, not your home anymore.”

Yuugi shot his son one more look, daring him for once to protest. Kazuo didn’t answer, his hands fisted into the fabric of the sheets. A minute passed by slowly, without anyone talking. Yuugi relaxed his own hands and let go of the bed frame. He walked out of the room, calmly, his back straight. It didn’t mean he was happy. His heart was breaking into a million pieces as he walked away, overwhelmed with guilt. Was he abandoning his son? Could he have hope that Kazuo would understand him? Did it really come as a surprise that his mother hadn’t visited him? He should’ve known better than to give her money; he should’ve called a cab. She had probably spent it on whatever shot of drugs by now, and it hurt so much that Kazuo was hung up on her, instead of his two, loving fathers. Yuugi stalked through the large hallway. He didn’t need to wonder where Atemu went; he knew where to find him. When he had said that he needed some fresh air, he had meant it literally; Atemu was outside the hospital, next to the entrance, staring into nowhere. Yuugi approached him and took him by the elbow, gently.

“Let’s take a taxi.” Yuugi wasn’t up to sitting in public transport. It was a luxury to take a taxi, but they could afford it. He flagged one down and helped Atemu to get in, putting the suitcase and the laptop bag in the trunk. The drive was silent, even the taxi driver instinctively felt that no one was in a talking mood. At home, Atemu brought his luggage upstairs while Yuugi heated up the leftover soup from yesterday, when Jounouchi and Honda had come over. He listened if Atemu was taking a shower but no, he came down the stairs again. He poured the soup in the bowls.

“Here, eat something,” he said and put the bowls on the table. As expected, Atemu stabbed the noodles in the soup and Yuugi wasn’t very hungry either. He took a deep breath and blurted everything out: how he had found Kazuo, the ride to the hospital, the empty beer cans and the white ground powder. He told everything about Kazuo asking for his mother, and how he had went to the Hasimoto district to look for the woman, giving her money to visit her son and how she had failed to do so. He talked until there was nothing left to say, his throat raw and dry. A deep, awkward silence fell.

“So you went to the Hasimoto district to look for the woman who’s ruining her own son,” Atemu said, and the bitterness in his voice was extremely painful. Yuugi cringed. “A district known for its yakuza, junkies and garbage? What were you thinking? Did you not consider the danger? You could’ve been robbed, stabbed or worse, killed!”

“I’m sorry, mou hitori no boku,” Yuugi said. “I didn’t think it over very well. I wanted to fulfill Kazuo-kun’s request…”

“You risked your life to find this woman, who I refuse to refer to as ‘mother’, yet you did not think of warning me, his father?”

Yuugi cringed some more. “You were at the convention, and you had such a good time,” he said. “I wanted you to have a couple of stress-free days, doing something you love…”

“No convention, no matter how unique, is more valuable or important than the life of my son,” Atemu said. “I should be at his side, even if he does not want me there. I cannot believe you withheld this from me, aibou.”

“It wasn’t the best decision I ever made, no,” Yuugi apologized. More silence. He hated the silence, even though he knew Atemu didn’t do it to punish him. He was too caught up with his own emotions to speak. Sure enough, Atemu stopped eating.

“I do not feel very well,” he said. “Excuse me.” He got up from the table and left Yuugi alone in the kitchen. He stared into his bowl, at the rapidly cooling soup. No tears came, but he felt miserable. He lasted for only half an hour before he went upstairs, to the attic. Yuugi wanted to talk, he had to know if Atemu would forgive him. But when he opened the bedroom door, Atemu had already gone to bed, exhausted from the busy convention, the flight and the visit to the hospital and all the ensuing emotions. Yuugi wasn’t so cruel as to wake him, just to get his own peace of mind. Atemu had forgotten to turn off the light in the bathroom, so Yuugi flipped the switch and silently snuck out of the bedroom again.


----------------------------------------




Part 2

Main Arc: 1-1 | 1-2 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8-1 | 8-2 |

Interludes: Interlude I | Interlude II (part one) | Interlude II (part two) | Interlude III (part one) | Interlude III (part two) |

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
ragnarok_08
Feb. 10th, 2017 03:16 am (UTC)
This was so compelling, and oh, such a sad ending!

I hope that things get better for them soon!!
the_goldenpath
Feb. 10th, 2017 04:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reading and commenting, dear! I'm glad you enjoyed the story so far~
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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