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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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The following day was Saturday. With Atemu still asleep, Yuugi silently got up and dressed himself, to do the usual weekly grocery shopping. To his delight, Akina went along to help him. She wasn’t rehearsing today; she and her group had decided to take the weekend off as they had worked non-stop for the last couple of weeks and needed a break. He appreciated her help and agreed to go with her to visit Kazuo in the hospital later that day. When they got home again, Yuugi could hear Atemu rummaging in his study, and he brought him lunch. He put a plate with food on his desk and gently raked his fingers through Atemu’s hair. He didn’t start talking about what had happened, leaving Atemu all the room he needed to process everything.

“I’m going with Akina-chan to the hospital,” he said. “We’ll be back later. Please eat something, mou hitori no boku.”

Atemu nodded and Yuugi pressed a kiss to his cheek. He was excited that Atemu turned his head to respond to the kiss, which lifted his bad mood indefinitely. After one more ruffling of his Pharaoh’s hair, Yuugi left to go with Akina to the hospital. He was actually kind of curious to Kazuo’s reaction after his stern lecture yesterday. When they arrived at his room though, Kazuo was grumpy and irritated, not responding to Yuugi at all. Akina talked about school and her graduation projects, and Yuugi took the opportunity to search for a doctor. He was about to call for a nurse’s help when doctor Watanabe passed him.

“Ah, Mutou-san,” he said.

Yuugi bowed to him. “Watanabe-sama,” he greeted him. Watanabe Akihisa was the family’s physician, after following into his father’s footsteps.

“This way,” he said, leading Yuugi to his office. “I was shocked, Mutou-san, to learn about your son here at the hospital.”

“I was very shocked too,” Yuugi said. Watanabe closed the door behind them so they could talk in private. Yuugi explained to him about Kazuo’s situation, not skipping any detail. The man looked somber when he finished.

“Dealing with an addiction is tough, and it’s even tougher for friends and family in particular,” he said. “It’s a miracle Kazuo-kun hasn’t been using hard drugs. From what I gather, any other person would’ve been shooting heroin by now. He must still have fear for the hardcore substances, but he’s very close to the edge, Mutou-san.” Watanabe consulted his computer and studied a file. “The ground white powder you brought with you for examination, came back as a mixture of XTC, painkillers and cheap aspirin. We were in time to pump his stomach, and during observation he hasn’t shown any symptoms of memory loss, dehydration or disorientation. I’ll discharge Kazuo-kun as soon as possible.”

“Thank you, Watanabe-sama. I just don’t know what to do anymore,” Yuugi said. “We can’t force him, and he doesn’t want to change. It’s so complicated.”

“It’s very hard indeed,” Watanabe said. “I don’t envy you in this, Mutou-san. I’m sure you’re doing the best you can. How’s Mutou-sama? He’s not with you?”

“He had a very busy week and he needs to rest,” Yuugi said. “He was here yesterday, but… Kazuo-kun said some exceptionally harsh words and he thought it was for the better not to accompany me today.”

“I see.” Watanabe folded his hands. “Yes, sometimes you need to take some distance. I wish you luck in this, Mutou-san. Send Mutou-sama my regards.”

“I will, Watanabe-sama. Thank you so much.”

When Yuugi walked back into the room, Akina’s throat had run dry as the girl had been talking nonstop, just to fill the silence. Kazuo still looked grumpy and made non-committal, grunting noises. Yuugi tapped Akina on the shoulder.

“It’s time to go,” he simply said.

“When can I leave?” Kazuo asked brusquely.

“Watanabe-sama will discharge you as soon as possible. I’ll come pick you up when you’re ready to leave,” Yuugi answered, his voice neutral. Kazuo arched an eyebrow, but didn’t comment.
Without another greeting, Yuugi took Akina with him, out of the hospital.

On their way back to the subway, as they passed a fast-food restaurant, she asked: “Hikari Papa, can I have a milkshake?”

Yuugi didn’t see why not. Rather silly, he bought himself one too: vanilla, and a strawberry one for Akina. She smiled at him, happy with the frosty treat. After a while, she said: “What’s going to happen to Kazuo-kun, Hikari Papa?”

“He has no other option but to go back into rehab,” Yuugi said. He never lied to his children and Akina was smart enough to realize what was going on.

“I just don’t get it,” she said, pensively. “I don’t dare to ask him, though.”

“Ask him what?”

“Why he’s doing this. Why he’s always going on and on about his mother while he has us as a family.”

“I’m not sure, Akina-chan. Just like Tzuziko-chan, you never asked about or showed any interest in your biological parents. Kazuo-kun on the other hand, seemed to be rather obsessed with his biological mother.”

“I’m curious about them, yes,” she admitted. “But I’m not invested enough to actually search for them. Maybe one day I’ll call the adoption agency and ask, but no, I’m not really interested. Maybe later? I don’t know. I’m just happy with both my fathers.”

“That’s sweet of you,” Yuugi said.

“It’s the truth,” Akina said vehemently. “I can understand Kazuo-kun’s longing for a mother, but to put her above you? She lives in a bad place, she can’t take care of herself, let alone of her son! He has everything, why is he throwing it all away?”

“Maybe he can’t help it,” Yuugi said. “Kazuo-kun was born addicted, and it has affected him his entire life. Maybe it influenced him so much that he was predisposed to get into drugs, like he was pre-wired to go search for his mother. Sometimes a longing can get so great, that you’ll forsake everything to just fulfill it.”

“He might be more vulnerable to addiction because of his birth,” Akina agreed, “but he made the conscious choice to go visit his mother, when his friend found her. He could’ve decided against it.”

Now it was Yuugi’s turn to arch an eyebrow. Akina was much more perceptive than he gave her credit for. She might be often with her head in the clouds, daydreaming about becoming a famous actress, but she sure knew how to analyze a situation when necessary. She heaved a sigh and sipped her milkshake.

“I hate it when Yami Papa is silent.”

“I know, dear.” Yuugi hated it too. “He’s not as talkative as you, though.”

“He always has something to say,” Akina said. “News, weather, culture, Ancient Egypt, food, my clothes are too revealing, I should do my homework, tea…”

Yuugi chuckled. “True that. Just be extra sweet to your Yami Papa, all right? It’s not easy for him.”

Akina happily agreed. “I’ll do my best!”


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Instead of spending a romantic weekend with his lover, Yuugi called private clinics to see if there was a vacant place for Kazuo. It was painfully obvious that, no matter how much his heart ached, it was no option for his son to come home and perpetuate the cycle again. Yuugi wasn’t sure if Kazuo was going to learn anything from his overdose, and he’d rather not watch him slipping away further into this downward spiral. It hurt so much. What more could they do to help him? As long as his biological mother and her ‘friends’ kept this hold over him, Kazuo wasn’t going to improve and Yuugi was no longer willing to have his family and most of all, the man he loved, suffer because of it. He finally found a private clinic in Hokkaido who could take Kazuo in at such short notice, but before he gave the definitive yes, he wanted to talk to Atemu.

He found him in his study, his favorite place to retreat. Tzuziko’s former bedroom wasn’t overly large but it was square, allowing enough space to have a seating arrangement next to the window. Atemu loved to read in the big, comfy chair he had bought for this purpose. With the sun setting at the end of the day, the warm light shone so lovely through the window, casting a beautiful glow on him. Yuugi stood for at least five minutes in the door opening, just admiring his profile. Atemu looked at him over the rim of his reading glasses.

“Aibou,” he said.

“Mou hitori no boku, do you have a moment?”

He closed the book and put it on the small table next to him. Yuugi closed the distance between them. He wasn’t going to nag about how little he had eaten; Atemu’s appetite would return once this storm blew over.

“I found a clinic in Hokkaido that has a place for Kazuo-kun,” he said. ‘It’s a private clinic, so I wanted to ask if you’d agree… it’s pretty expensive.”

“We want the best for our son,” Atemu answered. “If they can help him…”

“The minimum stay is at least six months,” Yuugi said, “with barely any outside contact. Intensive therapy, cold-turkey detox… it’s a very rigid and strict program.”

“For his sake, we will give it a try,” Atemu said. “He needs supervision and discipline, and much more that we cannot give him. I am not sure though, if we can keep it up much longer.”

“I know,” Yuugi said. He knew that Atemu wasn’t referring to the financial aspect, but the emotions involved. “We have to protect ourselves, and protect him from himself.”

“We did everything in our power, aibou. What more is there to protect? We cajoled, we discussed, we negotiated...”

“He’s addicted, mou hitori no boku. He’s sick. He needs our love and support, no matter how tough it is. We’ll be there in the background, and we’ll step up when he needs us. But for our own sake, we have to give him this chance.”

“You have always believed in chances,” Atemu said. “That is what makes you so strong, aibou.”

“You believe in chances as well, mou hitori no boku. Otherwise you wouldn’t agree.”

Atemu showed him a small smile. Taking that as a confirmation, Yuugi retrieved his cell phone. “I’ll call the clinic and tell them we’re bringing Kazuo-kun over this Sunday.” He redialed the number and walked out of the study to make the arrangements. His stomach tied itself into knots, but strangely enough, after finishing his conversation with the clinic, he felt a little better. He had good hope that the clinic would be really good for Kazuo and if so, they could return to being one, whole family. Yuugi wanted to tell Atemu the news so he went back to his study, but the former Pharaoh wasn’t there anymore. Yuugi took the stairs to the bedroom in the attic. Atemu stashed a pile of clean laundry in one of the cupboards. Daily life continued as usual, and to see his lover busy with common, domestic things always endeared Yuugi.

“Mou hitori no boku,” he said, “everything has been arranged for. I can take Kazuo-kun to the clinic this Sunday.”

Atemu nodded, yet he looked displeased. Yuugi put his hand on Atemu’s upper arm. “Why don’t you sit down?” he asked.

“I have work to do,” Atemu said.

“Sit down on the bed, mou hitori no boku. Please.”

Silently, he did as he was told and sat down on the bed. Yuugi leaned into him and reached for his face; not to kiss him, but to take off his heavy earrings. Atemu let him be, completely trusting him. Yuugi put the jewelry on the nightstand and then unbuttoned Atemu’s dress shirt. In the weekends, he usually wore a simple t-shirt underneath. Taking off the garment, Yuugi put it aside and then climbed on the bed, positioning himself behind Atemu. He rubbed his hands together to warm them up, before placing them on Atemu’s neck. Gently, he rotated his thumbs over his skin.

“You’re so tense,” Yuugi commented. “I feel knots all over.”

“Hm-m.”

They had massaged each other before and Yuugi continued to work the knots out, using different techniques. He wasn’t a professional, obviously, but he pressed and pushed with his hands, using his fingers, rotating, kneading and dabbing. Atemu had closed his eyes, totally surrendering himself to Yuugi. He put his hands on his shoulders once more and pressed a feather-light kiss on his neck.

“I made a stupid decision, mou hitori no boku. I’m sorry.”

“There is no need to apologize, aibou,” Atemu said. “You scared me. The thought that something could have happened to you…”

“I can take care of myself,” Yuugi reminded him gently. “I know you want to protect me, and I revel in your strength… but I can hold my own.”

“I know,” Atemu said. “It is not like that. You are your own person. The last thing I want is something to happen to you. It was the mere thought that you could be gone… I cannot live without the other half of my soul. I would never forgive myself if something bad happened to you.”

“I’m sorry to have worried you.” Yuugi knew he had played with fire. He’d been at a very dangerous place, without even considering the consequences.

“You are my everything,” Atemu said. He looked over his shoulder. Yuugi pressed a kiss to his lips.

“You’re the other half of my soul.”

Atemu leaned back and craned his neck to kiss him. Yuugi moved his arm around Atemu’s chest to cradle him, his other hand cupping his face. They kissed passionately.

“Promise me,” Atemu whispered against his lips, “that you will never do something like this again. That next time, if there is a next time, you will at least take someone with you.”

“I promise.” Yuugi kissed him again. “I won’t rush into dangerous situations without calling for you.”

“That is all I wanted to hear.” He moaned into the kiss. Yuugi’s hand traveled lower, his fingers tugging at the rim of Atemu’s shirt. He pulled the fabric up, exposing the bare skin of his abdomen. Leaning backwards, Atemu moved up his arms so Yuugi could pull the shirt over his head and discard the garment. Shifting his own position, he gently pushed Atemu down on the bed and hovered over him, his hands on his sides, kissing him on the collarbones and chest. “This is not really a massage anymore,” Atemu added, sounding very amused. Yuugi tickled him slightly, eliciting a snort and a laugh from the former Pharaoh.

Atemu pulled Yuugi closer and roughly pulled at his shirt, removing the offending garment. While he was at it, he hungrily nipped at Yuugi’s lips and used the opportunity to revert their positions. Yuugi didn’t mind to be rolled onto his back and he looked at Atemu, surprised at his ferocity. He knew his passion and his need, but he hadn’t often seen him this ferocious before. His body and mind responded to it with even more intensity, and he didn’t protest at all when the rest of his clothing was removed, and he could even hear some fabric rip. All he wanted was to feel the other in every way possible, around him, inside him, reveling in the attention and love, the protection and strength and he cried out with the same love and care in his voice, calling the name of the man he loved more than anything in the world.


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Domino City Hospital was familiar territory to him. Yuugi didn’t like hospitals at all, but he was here to pick up Kazuo. As before, Atemu had decided not to come along, but it bothered him greatly that he couldn’t say goodbye to his son; Kazuo would only react badly to his presence. Yuugi steeled himself. This was going to be difficult. He had to tell Kazuo that he wasn’t coming home with him. He walked into the room and saw Kazuo sitting on the edge of his bed, a small suitcase next to him. Yuugi had brought him clothes and toiletries during an earlier visit, and Kazuo had packed up everything, looking quite anxious. He hadn’t forgotten Yuugi’s words, even though he did his best to look as disinterested as possible.

“Let’s go,” Yuugi said. The love he felt for his son, wasn’t any less. He wasn’t mad at him. He wasn’t even disappointed. He just wanted to help him, but it was obvious Kazuo wasn’t going to accept his help. He had to protect his family. He had to protect Atemu. He had to protect Kazuo from falling down further. Kazuo picked up his suitcase and followed Yuugi without a word. He huddled into his coat when they walked outside and he had to adjust his stride to Yuugi’s, as he was much taller than his father. At the subway stop, Yuugi choose another line color and number than he was used to, and Kazuo couldn’t help but to shoot him a curious look. This particular subway line had Domino City Central train station as its last stop.

“Where are we going to?” he asked.

“To Hokkaido,” Yuugi answered. “I’m accompanying you to the Fuzukawa clinic.”

“Fuzukawa clinic?”

“It’s a rehab facility,” Yuugi said. He had the greatest trouble keeping himself calm and he kept repeating the mantra in his mind: ‘stay calm, stay calm’. This was so hard. “You’ll be treated there for your XTC addiction.”

“I don’t want to go there,” Kazuo said and put his suitcase down, defiantly standing still.

“I can’t force you to get on board of the train,” Yuugi said. “But you can’t come home with me either. This is the moment you have to choose, Kazuo-kun. It’s up to you. Your choice. You can either shape up and work on your life and your future, or throw it all away and have nothing left.”

It didn’t matter that Kazuo was much taller, his height wasn’t of any importance. More so, he seemed smaller than his father, now that he was confronted with such a forceful choice. Kazuo pursed his lips and frowned in anger. He didn’t like it at all, and neither did Yuugi - he rather took Kazuo home with him to lead a happy life than to accompany him to a rehab facility, that was for sure. The subway arrived and the doors opened, allowing the travelers, commuters and passengers to leave or to get in. Yuugi waited patiently. It didn’t surprise him that Kazuo let the subway pass. The next one would arrive in another ten minutes. Neither one of them said anything and stood amidst the Sunday crowd. The ten minutes passed and the next subway arrived. It also left and Yuugi stared after it until it disappeared from view.

“What do you think?” he asked.

“I don’t have a choice,” Kazuo said. Yuugi didn’t want to suggest he could choose to live with his mother, as he rather didn’t want them to be together in such deplorable circumstances. The fact that Kazuo even didn’t mention her, told him enough. The woman had never shown up at the hospital, fueling his son’s general bitterness.

“Believe it or not, it’s the best choice,” Yuugi said. “We love you and want to help you, Kazuo-kun. Unfortunately, you’ll have very limited contact with the outside world the first few months, but I’m going to do my best to get you permission to visit Akina-chan’s graduation play and Tzuziko-chan’s wedding day.”

Kazuo snorted loudly and stepped forward on the subway platform, crossing his arms in front of his chest. Lips drawn into a tight, small line and eyes narrowed in suppressed anger and dismay, he waited until the next subway arrived. Yuugi picked up the suitcase and came to stand next to him. No other words were spoken during their travel to Hokkaido. The clinic was just outside of the city and they had to take a bus before they finally arrived at the secluded gates. Yuugi had the feeling he was delivering his son at a prison, despite the painstaking efforts the personnel had undertaken to make the facility look friendly and inviting, by placing plants and decorations everywhere.

He repeated his words to Kazuo, that he was loved and that his family would support him, only to receive another snort in return. After the official admission papers were signed, Yuugi watched how Kazuo surrendered his small suitcase to the staff as no personal belongings were allowed. He disappeared behind a door and that was it. Yuugi swallowed. Not even a word of goodbye. His heart cried out and he couldn’t wait to go home and find solace in Atemu’s arms. The travel back home seemed to take hours and he stared out of the window, seeing nothing.


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“I’m glad we decided to buy new tuxedos,” Yuugi smiled at his lover.

“I think we will be getting a lot of use out of them,” Atemu agreed. Today was Akina’s graduation play and two months later, Tzuziko would get married. According to Yuugi’s expectations, she had settled for a traditional wedding, much to Atemu’s delight and Akina’s disappointment; she had hoped to be a western-style bridesmaid. Yuugi put his hands on Atemu’s shoulder to brush away a few dust particles.

“You look so sexy in a suit.”

“I know.” Atemu gave him a very confident and lecherous grin, just before he dove for Yuugi’s lips. “You look very handsome as well, aibou.”

“Mmm…” Yuugi reveled in the kiss. “Have I told you today that I love you?”

“No, you have not.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“We’re going to be late. Akina-chan will never forgive us…”

“You are right. We cannot miss our daughter’s performance.”

“I’m really glad she studied so hard,” Yuugi said. “She held herself perfectly to all the assignments and deadlines.”

“With help from Souma,” Atemu added.

“I know how much you like him,” Yuugi tapped his nose, “but Akina-chan isn’t in love with him, so I think you can kiss him goodbye as your favorite son-in-law, mou hitori no boku. We want her happiness to come first, remember?”

“Am I that obvious?”

“I can see right through you.” Yuugi teased him.

“Let us go,” Atemu said after checking his watch and turned around to leave.

“Ah, wait!” Yuugi exclaimed. He grabbed the large earrings from the nightstand and held them up. “You weren’t forgetting about these, were you?” Atemu inclined his head for Yuugi to clip the jewelry to his lobes. “Now you’re all set.”


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Yuugi couldn’t believe how quickly two years had passed. It seemed like yesterday when he and Atemu had that conversation with Masuda Kameko about Akina’s admission to her performing arts school. Now Akina was graduating; the school offered two extra years of study, focusing not only on acting, but also on producing, script writing, camera techniques and directing. She wasn’t all that interested in the technical aspect, so she was still weighing her options: to get acting jobs or continuing to study for another two years.

“I’m pretty much done with school books,” she had said, as Masuda, true to her word, demanded her students to study languages, history, geography and many other subjects as well, as she didn’t believe in ‘empty-headed actresses and actors’. Now the moment had arrived for Akina and her class to perform the final part of their graduation ceremony: a play that they had arranged themselves, without help from their teachers. The group had chosen for a modern take on the Romeo and Juliet tale, with Akina playing the part of Juliet.

Yuugi looked around to see if he saw a familiar face. Having lost Atemu in the crowd somewhere, he felt a bit alone in the sea of parents, friends and guests invited to see the play. He was hoping to catch Tzuziko, who had sent him a text message that she’d be over soon. Of course she had made room in her hectic schedule to attend her sister’s graduation play. Kazuo however, hadn’t been granted permission from the clinic to visit. The imposed regimen was very strict and as long as he didn’t show any improvement, he wasn’t allowed to go anywhere, not even with supervision. Yuugi made sure to send him a weekly care-package, with candy or a snack, and something like a game or a book. He also put in a letter, just like Atemu; often Akina would add a personal note too.

“Otou-san,” a female voice rang out close to him. Yuugi turned around with a happy smile on his face.

“Tzuziko-chan! I knew you’d find me.”

Amused, she looked briefly at his hair and Yuugi chuckled. It wasn’t hard to spot him or Atemu in any crowd, of course; their hair was conspicuous enough.

“Isao-kun,” he said as her fiancé popped up next to her.

“Yuugi-san,” Isao greeted him. Yuugi had given him permission to call him by his first name and it had taken the young man some time to get used to it. “Where’s Mutou-sama?”

“I lost sight of him,” Yuugi said, “he’s around here somewhere.” He turned his head into a different direction, spotting the former Pharaoh perfectly even though other, taller people were surrounding him. “I think they’re trying to cast him because of his foreign looks. Excuse me while I go save him.”

Akina had mentioned that talent scouts would be present during the graduation, leading to much excitement and anticipation on her part. Yuugi was used to Atemu’s tan skin and his love for large golden jewelry, but it was a given fact that he stood out in the general crowd. He managed to ‘save’ him from more prying looks and questions by pointing out that the play was about to start. Everybody took their seats and the lights dimmed. Yuugi took the opportunity to put his hand on Atemu’s knee and Atemu put his hand on top of his. Together they enjoyed the play, proud of their daughter on the stage, performing with such natural talent as if she was born there. When the play was over, the performers were met with utter silence, the highest form of respect and praise the audience could give them.

“Truly, a magnificent performance,” Atemu said. The lights went back on and the performers left the stage to quickly change, as the official graduation ceremony would be next. Yuugi stole a quick kiss.

“What if Akina-chan’s leaving for Hollywood?” he asked.

“That is not going to happen.” Atemu frowned a little. “At least, not anytime soon. She is barely twenty; she needs to build up her experience first.”

“Mou hitori no boku, Anzu was barely eighteen when she left for New York.”

“Anzu was better prepared and never allowed any fame or fortune get to her head,” Atemu said.

Yuugi patted his hand. This was something they had discussed many times before. If it were up to him, Yuugi would rather have Akina close than to see her off to Hollywood; but who knew what the future was going to bring her?

The ceremonial part was over and everyone was invited to attend the reception, offering a drink and a bite. The guests discussed the play and congratulated each other with the performance of their daughter or son. Yuugi smiled at all the compliments regarding Akina, thanking for the kind words. He hoped she would join her family soon; like a real diva, she was changing for the third (or fourth?) time today before making a grand entrance. It took a while before she appeared, this time she was wearing a short, colorful dress, with her hair curly and bouncy.

“I’m so glad you could come!” She hugged her fathers and her sister. “Did you enjoy the play?”
Before anyone could answer, she was swamped by her friends and fellow students. A lot of people wanted to talk to the star of the play, vying for her attention. She shot a helpless look at Yuugi, not knowing what to do.

“It’s all right,” he said. “This is your moment. You deserve the spotlight, Akina-chan.”

She smiled at her fathers. “Can I paint the town red tonight, Yami Papa? No curfew, just this once?”

Atemu wasn’t really fond of not knowing when his daughter would be home for the night, but this was her graduation day and he didn’t want to spoil her moment, so he nodded. She hugged him quickly again, said goodbye to Yuugi, Tzuziko and Isao and disappeared into the crowd. Tzuziko turned to her parents.

“Otou-san, otou-sama,” she said, “we came here straight from work, and we haven’t had time to eat properly yet… we don’t know anyone else around and the play’s over, why don’t we go to a restaurant?”

Yuugi didn’t have a problem with that. A light donburi wouldn’t be that hard or too much to stomach.

“That is fine by me,” Atemu said. “Do you have a place in mind?”

“Have you ever been to Tsuda’s?” Isao asked. “Good portions, nice prices, and they serve excellent yakitori.”

“Ooh, I haven’t had that in a while,” Yuugi said. “Let’s go there!”


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Yuugi enjoyed his yakitori. He sat next to Atemu and opposite of Tzuziko. Her fiancé was talking to the former Pharaoh about budget cuts in arts and culture and Yuugi knew how passionate Atemu could get over the ‘downfall of cultural values in modern day society’. He focused his attention on Tzuziko instead.

“Akina did very well,” she took the words out of his mouth, “she was really born to be on stage!”

“Oh yes, we never doubted her talent,” Yuugi said. “We ah… often doubt the things that come along with an acting career.”

“I’m still not sure if she can handle the stress of auditioning and the disappointment of not getting the part,” Tzuziko said. “Akina likes the appeal of fame and adoring fans, but I doubt she realizes what fame actually entails. No privacy. Paparazzi. Stress. She’s talented enough, but sometimes she misses a reality check.”

“Exactly.” Yuugi was almost finished with his plate. “Masuda-san touched upon any possible negative impact of an acting career, but I don’t think Akina-chan really listened to that part. We have to have faith, of course.”

“Of course, otou-san.” She looked from him to Atemu and showed a warm, appreciative smile. “I’m so glad you’re both looking so well and happy with each other. After everything that has been going on with Kazuo…”

Yuugi returned a beaming smile. He wasn’t going to deny that the both of them were still struggling, but finding solace and comfort with each other. He didn’t want to add any tension to the fun mood by talking about Kazuo, sad as it was. “We’re never going to be apart, Tzuziko-chan. Nothing can separate us.” He sipped his drink. “How about your wedding day?”

“We’ve got everything arranged for now,” she said.

“Efficient as usual,” Yuugi said. “We’re looking very much forward to it, dear.”

“I can’t wait either.” Tzuziko looked fondly at Isao, who was too caught up in his conversation with Atemu to notice, but the former Pharaoh did and winked at his daughter. Tzuziko couldn’t help but laugh, a genuine upbeat laugh that was so rare for her. After the impromptu dinner, they said their goodbyes. Tzuziko and Isao had an early shift at the hospital and wanted to catch some sleep.

“We’ll see you soon again, otou-san, otou-sama,” she said as she kissed them goodbye.

“Then you’ll be the bride, Tzuziko-chan,” Yuugi reminded her.

“Enjoy the rest of your evening, Yuugi-san, Mutou-sama,” Isao said. Yuugi and Atemu waved the couple goodbye. They knew they didn’t have to worry about their eldest daughter, she had everything under control. Maybe she was a little too strict and stern, but nobody was perfect; she wasn’t in any kind of trouble like Kazuo and she didn’t like to drink and go to clubs like Akina. Yuugi decided not to wait up for her. After all, she had permission to ‘paint the town red’, and he didn’t expect her to be home anytime soon… which left him plenty of opportunity to peel Atemu out of his exquisite tux and do deliciously indescribable things to him.


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



The Shinto priest’s voice was perfectly audible as he performed his ritual chants to purify the shrine. He stood on the right of the ceremonial wedding altar, laden with salt, water, fruits, vegetables and the sake for the upcoming san-san-ku-do ceremony, the traditional exchange of sake cups, reflecting ‘three oaths taken three times’. The to-be-married couple, Tzuziko and Isao, stood in the middle of the room. She was wearing a beautifully white uchikake kimono with intricate embroidery, combined with a Tsuno Kakushi hood, richly adorned with ornaments. Akina, dressed in a colorful tomesode kimono, had been as kind as to take care of her sister’s make-up; she looked absolutely stunning. Isao couldn’t keep his eyes off of his bride, he was just dying to kiss her. But first, the ceremony had to be completed: sipping the sake, reading the vows and the offering of sakaki tree branches to the altar, to appease the kami to bless this union.


Yuugi watched attentively and discreetly blinked a couple of times. He was not going to cry at his daughter’s wedding day. It was just that… his desire to stand there in front of the shrine and marrying his beloved Pharaoh, was simply overwhelming. It was such a devastating reality that they could never be legally married. Atemu picked up on his strong emotions, their bond so deep and intense, that he sought out Yuugi's hand in a rare initiative of public display of affection, to offer him comfort. Yuugi leaned into him briefly, overwhelmed by the emotions.

He wanted nothing but to scream their love to the rest of the world and make it official; of course, no piece of paper, no written document could be a confirmation of what they shared, they’d been together for so long now, but still… it would’ve been so lovely! He watched how the couple exchanged the cups of sake and tried to stomp on his misplaced feelings of jealousy. How could he be jealous of his daughter on her most wonderful day?

He was a lot more relaxed at the wedding reception. The guests - family, friends and coworkers - mingled and he truly enjoyed himself. He received many congratulations on behalf of his daughter and many well-wishes for her wedding. Atemu received many congratulations as well as Isao’s parents: kind, good-natured people who didn't have any trouble with the parents of their daughter-in-law being of the same sex. The newlyweds had changed into less traditional wear to attend their own reception, interacting with all of the guests. The happy bride took her time to talk to everyone around her and she smiled when she saw both her fathers standing together.

“Otou-sama, did you enjoy the ceremony?” she asked.

“It was wonderful,” he answered. “A beautiful bride, a handsome husband and so much happiness.”

“I’m glad you liked it,” she said. “It’s such an amazing day!”

Yuugi beckoned her closer. "Don't forget to relax every now and then," he urged her. His ambitious daughter would work herself to death if she didn't watch out.

She pecked him fondly on the cheek. “Thank you, otou-san. Don’t forget to relax yourself, such a busy-body as you are, and you’re not twenty anymore.”

“Are you…” Yuugi started, but she cut him off, hugging him.

“I was just kidding, otou-san. But seriously, you’ve been under great strain.” She knew about his visit to the Hasimoto district and how mad Atemu had been that he had walked into such a dangerous situation without asking for help. He admitted defeat.

“You’re right, Tzuziko-chan. I promise I’ll take it easy for the rest of the week, alright?”

“Alright. The same goes for you, otou-sama,” she said at a particularly innocent looking Atemu.
“I know all about your conventions and artifacts and lectures. So take it easy, the both of you!”

“Yes dear,” they answered in unison.


It was getting late. After the wedding reception, the guests moved on to the nijikai, the after party. Yuugi spoke with Isao’s family and friends and as always, when the topic got to work, everyone was interested in what his job entailed at KaibaCorp.. Atemu kept a little distance though and took a seat in a corner, sitting upright, like a ruler overseeing his nation. Yuugi excused himself and went over to him. The music was playing a slow, romantic song.

"Dance with me, mou hitori no boku?"

Atemu didn’t hesitate to accept the invitation and followed Yuugi onto the dance floor. Slowly moving to the music, Yuugi adored being in Atemu's arms like this. It was such a perfect fit; their height difference was minimal, with Yuugi just an inch or two shorter. He was still a bit emotional.

"I wish I could marry you," he whispered.

“I know, aibou,” Atemu whispered in return. “If I could put a wedding ring on you, I would’ve done so a long time ago.”

Yuugi looked at his ring, the one Atemu had bought from the money he had earned by working at the Game Shop. They had been wearing the same ring since they were seventeen. Yuugi thought it was the most beautiful and unique ring in the world and he had never taken it off, not even for a second.

“This is my wedding ring,” he murmured. “My engagement ring, my promise ring, my friendship ring, my everything ring…”

Atemu shifted his arms a little to hug him while they shuffled to the music, forgetting the people around them. “Everything.”

“Everything,” Yuugi sighed. He tightened his arms around Atemu. “Mou hitori no boku…”

“Yes?”

“You’re not going to leave me, are you?”

“Aibou, why do you even ask? I will never leave you.” Atemu rubbed him on his back. “I loved you since the moment I first saw you.”

“I can’t imagine that I was scared of you at first,” Yuugi said.

“It was a very confusing moment for the both of us,” Atemu admitted. “I thought I was you at first, and I did… certain things to protect myself and my friends… but I always knew you were there, and I loved you from the start.”

“I know. I guess I just wanted to hear it again.”

“I will tell you as often as you like it, aibou.” He ruffled his hair. “I think it is time for us to go home.”

“I think so too.” Yuugi was tired, and he hadn’t even been the center of attention like the newlywed couple. The after party was at its end, and truthfully enough, Yuugi longed to be in his bed and rest. The intensity of the last few months was getting to him, and all he wanted to do was sleep.


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



A few weeks later, Yuugi rearranged the pictures on the side table in the hall. It used to be a shrine to his mother and grandfather, but over the years it had turned into the ‘family pictures’ table. He had put a prominent picture of Yusuke and Sugoroku in the middle, surrounded with more pictures of the family, with the wedding picture of Tzuziko and Isao as the latest addition, right next to Akina’s graduation ceremony picture. Yuugi couldn’t stop smiling. His fingers rested on a separate picture of Kazuo, who hadn’t been present at the latest events, due to his stay at the rehab clinic. Yuugi shoved his picture a little closer. Kazuo was still his son, he was part of the family and Yuugi didn’t want to exclude him.

The hallway was silent. Strange how it felt so disheartening that he missed the loud, obnoxious death metal music Kazuo always was playing. Akina was now the noisemaker in the house; she chattered constantly on her smartphone. If she wasn’t talking on the phone, she had her many friends over or her boyfriend, Kimura Yoshitora. She was still waffling back and forth on taking the second part of Masuda’s performing arts school and she had heated discussions with Yoshitora about it. He had enrolled already and tried to persuade her to do the same. Yuugi wasn’t very fond of him, thinking he was a pompous youngster with a rapidly growing ego and arrogance. Not the confident arrogance of Atemu during a Duel Monsters game, but the arrogance of someone who thought that everyone and everything was beneath him.

It was a mystery to Yuugi why Akina had fallen in love with him, but it was quite serious nonetheless. He hoped that Yoshitora wouldn’t become his son-in-law, though… and then he felt guilty. It was Akina’s choice and it was her happiness that counted. Despite everything, Akina had landed a couple of acting jobs in commercials and some voice-over work. As long as she ‘hadn’t made it big’ as she called it, she continued to live at home and even offered to pay a modest contribution towards rent and household expenses. Yuugi had deferred her to Atemu as he was the one in charge of the finances, but he didn’t think he would ask for much, if anything at all. He stared at the pictures on the table and moved them around once more, when the front door opened and Akina bounced in, waving enthusiastically with a wad of paper, cheeks red with excitement.

“Hikari Papa! It was so great! They want me to play the part of Tanizaki Minami!”

“That’s wonderful, Akina-chan!” He shared her enthusiasm. “I don’t have to ask how your meeting went, then.”

Akina twirled around. A group of young, up-and-coming writers had invited her for an audition; they had scouted her at her graduation play and they were busy translating a typical Western soap-opera to the Japanese audience. “I’m going to be a lead character in a soap opera!”

She twirled towards Yuugi and hugged him. “I think Yami Papa will like it too,” she said, still flailing the huge wad of paper. “Where is he? Oh, read this first!” She ran up the stairs after handing Yuugi the paper, which was the script of the first two episodes of the soap opera. Yuugi took it with him as he went upstairs, to the kitchen. Akina was making herself some tea.

“I didn’t want to disturb him,” she said. Since a couple of months, aside from his highly sought-after opinion and advice on Ancient Egyptian artifacts, Atemu’s expertise had also been called in for restoration of ancient jewelry, a chore he had surprisingly much patience and talent for. It required utmost concentration and Yuugi sometimes wondered if Atemu didn’t surround himself with too much Ancient Egyptian. He would never deny his lover to pursue his own interests; after all, Atemu had a pretty unique background. “Will you read the script, Hikari Papa?”

“Of course. I’m actually kind of curious.” He tilted his head. “Where’s Yoshitora-kun?”

Akina dunked the teabag in the hot water and shrugged, a little too nonchalantly. “He doesn’t think very highly of soap operas in general,” she said, sounding slightly aggravated. “Sure, it’s not the newest Shakespeare and the influences are mostly western… Yoshitora wants everything to be traditional and old-fashioned, just like Yami Papa.”

“I don’t necessarily agree with that, Akina-chan,” Yuugi said. He took the opportunity to pour himself a cup of tea as well. “Your Yami Papa has roots in a very ancient culture and yes, he embraces it with perhaps a little too much heart and soul. But he acknowledges and respects the influence and importance of other cultures, instead of rejecting them like Yoshitora-kun does.”

Akina nodded, pensively. Her lip quivered a little and Yuugi pressed on, albeit gently. “What did he really say?”

“That a soap opera would rot what little left I had of my brain,” she said and busted out in tears.

“What?” Yuugi immediately jumped to her defense. “How dare he!”

“I love him so much, Hikari Papa,” Akina wailed, “but he can be so mean! Just because he received offers from prestigious theater groups..! He’s so talented, I can learn so much from him, but lately…”

“Akina-chan, he might be approached by well-known theater groups, that doesn’t give him any right to look down on your work. Anyone who’s mean to you, looks down on you and thinks himself much better than anyone else…”

“I know, I know.” As quickly as the tears had come, they stopped. She used a tissue to dab at her eyes and groaned in annoyance when she noticed that she had smeared mascara all over her face. “I love him,” she repeated.

“You don’t have to convince me,” Yuugi reminded her gently. “It’s your heart, Akina-chan.”

“When I was at Tzuziko’s wedding…” she said, “I thought to myself: ‘I want that too!’ Getting married, I mean. But I want to get married to someone I really love… like how you love Yami Papa. And I’m not sure if I love Yoshitora as much.”

“Matters of the heart are complicated,” Yuugi said. “You’re so young, Akina-chan. You’re barely twenty and your career is about to take off. You have plenty of time to fall in love and get married.”

She looked at him. “You got together with Yami Papa since you were fifteen, Hikari Papa. You told me so yourself. I’m a late-bloomer compared to you!”

Yuugi blushed. “Please don’t compare yourself to us, Akina-chan. Our circumstances were quite… unique.”

She wiped the rest of her mascara off. “You two were so cute when dancing at Tzuziko’s wedding. You were totally engrossed with each other, you barely noticed anyone around you!”

“Yes, true,” Yuugi said and blushed even harder.

She picked up on it. “I’m sorry Hikari Papa, I didn’t want to bring up a painful subject. If only it was legal for you two to get married.”

“I don’t see the laws change anytime soon,” Yuugi said, a little downtrodden. “In any case, it doesn’t make our love less significant.”

“Of course not. You’re my parents, you’re together… as far as I’m concerned, you’re married.”

“Thank you, dear.” He continued to sip his tea, pleased to be in the company of his youngest daughter, wondering what the future had in store for her.


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




Part one

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) | Interlude IV (part one) |

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
ragnarok_08
Feb. 10th, 2017 03:22 am (UTC)
Oh this was just lovely and very nice, and that was a such cute scene at the end ♥
the_goldenpath
Feb. 10th, 2017 04:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for reading and commenting, dear! ♥ There's going to be a lot more cuddlyfluff domestic Puzzleshipping in the future :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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