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Title: Murasaki (part 4 in the Colors of Heaven & Hell series)
Fandom: Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters
Characters: Mutou Yuugi & Yami no Yuugi/Atemu
Prompt: # 16, Purple
Word count: 9.088
Rating: PG
Warnings: shounen ai
Summary: After the tournament, Yami is crowned King of Duelists. Yuugi wrestles with his feelings for him, wondering what part Kaiba Seto might still play in Yami's life. In the midst of this rollercoaster of emotions, Yami’s dark and mysterious past catches up to him and on top of that, there are thieves and robbers out for the God Cards…
Author’s note: This is the fourth installment in a series of fics following the prompts of the Fanfic100 challenge @ LiveJournal, containing a color (red, orange, yellow, green etc...). The colors will be named in either Japanese or Ancient Egyptian (I’m not a native speaker, but I thought it fit the theme). ‘Iwen’ is Ancient Egyptian for ‘colors’. The entire series will contain fluff, drama, angst, some emo, waff, lots of friendship, strong!independent!Yuugi and dark!asshole!Yami (he’ll get better, sort of). Almost everything about the Duel Monsters game in this fic is made up by yours truly. I’m too old to learn the proper rules of the game, so I invoke my artistic license. Made-up first name for Yuugi’s mother: Sumiko. Please read in the designated sequence, starting with part 0 (Colorless). Feedback is, as always, greatly appreciated.

Key : ------------------ = scene change





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Yuugi was at a loss at what to wear. He couldn’t decide: formal or informal? Casual or business-like? How did one dress to attend a ceremony crowning a King of Duelists? He was so glad his friends and family were coming as well; Kaiba had extended his invitation to them, albeit grudgingly. The ceremony was strictly meant for the top ten finalists of Battle City, selected press and KaibaCorp.’s business relationships. Yuugi was sure Yami had simply said he wouldn’t be at his own ceremony if Yuugi’s friends and family weren’t allowed to be there.

It said a lot about Yami that he regarded them as his friends and family as well as the last couple of days, said to be crowned King of Games had been more distant than ever. His mesmerizing eyes with the reddish hue constantly narrowed, his eyebrows in a permanent frown and his lips drawn into a tight, small line, Yami didn’t make the impression he was very happy. Yuugi tried on another shirt and stared at himself in the mirror. He knew what concerned the other, of course. It wasn’t the part that he was going to be declared the official winner of Battle City and show his three God Cards, but the part that he would show those God Cards in front of an Ancient Egyptian ceremonial tablet, depicting a game between a Pharaoh and a Priest.

Yuugi felt nervous. Something was wrong, and he had talked Yami into doing this. Who could he blame but himself, if it went wrong? He wondered what Ishizu had seen and wished once again that the woman hadn’t mysteriously disappeared along with her brother Malik, the runner-up of the tournament, who had caused such great damage and mayhem. Which reminded him… Yuugi opened the top drawer of his desk. Before she left, Ishizu had given him a letter, written in hieroglyphs. He couldn’t read it and he didn’t dare to show it to his grandfather Sugoroku, who had visited Egypt in his younger years. Perhaps the elderly man’s knowledge on hieroglyphs was a little rusty, but Yuugi was convinced that the content of the letter was something very private. He hadn’t told his family about the whole ‘light half and dark half of a nameless Pharaoh’s soul’ bit. His friends knew, and that was more than enough. He pocketed the letter and picked out another shirt.

“Yuugi-kun! Your friends are here!” His mother’s voice was loud enough to reach his bedroom in the attic.

“Coming!” Yuugi hollered and quickly finished dressing himself, settling on a pair of black slacks, a grayish shirt and a gray jacket. He thundered down the stairs. “Hey guys!”

“Ready?” Jounouchi smiled and gave him a thumbs up, excited for the ceremony, despite not having participated in the tournament himself. Anzu and Honda flanked him, flashing similar smiles. Yuugi was excited to see them.

“Where’s Yami?” he asked.

“Haven’t seen him yet,” Jounouchi answered. “Everything alright?”

“Yeah,” Yuugi said. He was a bad liar and he fidgeted with a button on his jacket to hide his embarrassment. Jounouchi was clearly dissatisfied with his answer, but he didn’t create a scene, for which Yuugi was grateful.

“Yuugi, you’re tearing the button off your jacket,” Anzu gently chastised him. He removed his hand, slightly blushing and looked up expectantly when the door to the guestroom opened. Yami stepped out, dressed for the occasion: he had bought himself a nice suit and he looked absolutely gorgeous in it.

“Ready to go?” Yuugi asked, beaming at him.

Yami nodded. “Yes. Has Kaiba send his limousine over yet?”

Kaiba. Yuugi hated to admit that he was jealous. He couldn’t believe that Kaiba Seto was Yami’s ex-boyfriend, and how they had fallen into each other’s arms. He couldn’t get the image out of his mind. Why had he fallen head over heels in love with for the other duelist, why was his heart yearning and aching for him? They had kissed and they referred to each other with rather… intimate names, but nothing else had happened. Yami hadn’t taken any initiative and Yuugi had taken some distance after witnessing Kaiba and Yami cuddling… no, that wasn’t true and he was ashamed for his bitter, jealous thoughts. Kaiba had been worried; even if they were ex-boyfriends, that didn’t mean that all ties were cut. It was hopeless.

“Neat! I’ve never been driven by a limo before,” Anzu said, interrupting Yuugi’s train of thoughts. Honda was pumped at the idea and discussed with Jounouchi what kind of limo: a Rolls Royce or a Mercedes Benz? Yuugi’s mother, Mutou Sumiko, joined the group with Sugoroku, Yuugi’s grandfather who recently had been discharged from the hospital after his back surgery. He was in a wheelchair as he was in the midst of his recovery, actively taking therapy to get back on his feet again. Jounouchi immediately offered to push the heavy wheelchair and Sumiko thanked him.

“You’re looking great, Yuugi,” Anzu complimented him.

“You too, Anzu,” Yuugi said. He wasn’t lying about that; she looked absolutely stunning in her little black dress. Usually she would dress more colorfully, but for the official ceremony she had chosen for something classy and stylish. Pleased with his compliment, she suddenly extended her hand to him. Yuugi didn’t hesitate to take it and the next second, the limousine announced its arrival. Yuugi accompanied Anzu to the car. She seemed delighted with his gentlemanliness and simply radiated happiness. He didn’t have the heart to tell her that he didn’t love her. He wasn’t really sure if Anzu was crushing on him, he found it difficult to read such signs, but he knew he couldn’t return her affections, one way or the other. The object of his affection… no, his love, was sitting in front of him, riding shotgun. He was wearing his golden earrings; one of his few personal possessions. Yami had never divulged how and why he had acquired them and Yuugi had never asked; some things were still too personal.

When they arrived at the museum, a horde of reporters besieged the limousine. Duel Monsters was a widely popular game, national and international, and Yuugi was quick to overlook the fact that he was a topic of interest for the amassed press as well, due to his first-time participation and ending up in the top ten of a major tournament. The most attention was for Yami, who reacted with great aloofness to the flashing cameras, staring stoically in front of him. Jounouchi and Honda waved at everyone as if they were the winners, grinning and making victory gestures. Anzu looped her arm through Yuugi’s and he didn’t know who was actually supporting who.

“Let’s go inside,” he said, but his voice was drowned out by the yelling photographers and the public who tried to catch a glimpse of the lucky finalists. A bunch of burly bodyguards guided them to the entrance of the museum, shoving at everyone who came to close, press or no press.

Yuugi heaved a sigh of relief when they were inside the building. Domino City national museum was a haven of relief compared to the craziness outside. He couldn’t remember how long it had been since he had visited the museum. It was weird to be here after visiting hours; it looked so grand and majestic, but it had an eerie vibe to it, devoid of visitors. The guests were directed to the Ancient Egyptian exhibit, all other exhibits were closed off. As they approached the main hall, Yuugi could hear a live orchestra play classical music and waiters walked around, offering champagne and hors d’oeuvres to the guests. The entire group was impressed, safe for Yami; he declined the champagne rather rudely and shooed another waiter away with just a harsh frown on his face.

Kaiba wasn’t a penny pincher when it came to organizing these kinds of events. Not only had he hired the entire museum, he had also taken care of the tiniest detail. Yuugi had to close his mouth a couple of times, his jaw dropping open from the splendor of the exhibit and how effortlessly the ancient artifacts were made a part of the modern world, showcasing KaibaCorp’s holographic technology, displaying a selected amount of monsters as to stress the link between the game and Ancient Egypt, as the original creator had drawn inspiration from that era.

Jounouchi and Honda were just glad to see that there was a buffet as well and they stormed towards it, leaving Sugoroku in the capable care of Sumiko. The elderly man snickered and wasn’t perturbed at all by their antics. At the far end of the large room was Kaiba himself, standing next to the Ceremonial Tablets on prominent display. Yuugi had never seen them before, yet a weird sensation in his underbelly took a hold of him after one look at the massive stone panels.

“I wish I could see them up close,” Sugoroku sighed next to him. As an amateur-archeologist with a passion for Ancient Egypt, he was highly interested in taking a look at the tablets.

“I’ll ask if I can get you any closer,” Yuugi said. This is going to be awkward, he thought to himself as the group approached the tall CEO, obviously impatient, judging from the look on his face.

“There you are,” Kaiba said. “We’re going to start in five minutes. Yami, get up here.”

“Big brother, we have plenty of time,” Mokuba said and waved at everyone. “Hi, Yuugi!”

“Hi Mokuba-kun,” Yuugi greeted him. Yami stepped up on the stage and Kaiba claimed his attention, instructing him how and when to present his God Cards. Yuugi figured now wasn’t the right time to ask Kaiba; maybe later, when the ceremony was over. It was painful to watch the two interact. Kaiba made grand gestures, showing Yami where to stand and hold up the cards, yet it didn’t escape Yuugi how the CEO managed to touch Yami every now and then; very lightly and modestly compared to his other movements, but it was a touch nonetheless. Yami listened only half-heartedly, his head averted from the Ceremonial Tablets but a warm shine had appeared in his eyes since he had joined Kaiba on the stage.

A couple of reporters came up to Yuugi and he was distracted by their questions; this wasn’t an interview for a tabloid, bet genuine interest and he was in his element, explaining his tactics and discussing his love for the game. In the back of his mind, he made a firm resolution to talk to Yami in private, as soon as the ceremony was over and done with. He couldn’t expect the other to open up if he didn’t so first; Yami wasn’t a mind reader, how was he supposed to know what was going on? They had to talk, about a lot of things, and if Yami still was in love with Kaiba… so be it. Better to know for sure than to live in constant doubt and agony. He thanked the reporters for their intelligent questions and checked his watch. Those five minutes had long gone by now…

“Hey, look who’s here!” Anzu sounded surprised and excited.

“Bakura-kun?” Yuugi shared her surprise. He had run into Bakura Ryou during Battle City, but they hadn’t dueled each other. Bakura came over to them, holding a small plate with ebi tempura. He was joined by Jounouchi, who wasn’t as modest; he had heaped up an almost scandalous amount of food.

“Yuugi-kun, Anzu-chan,” Bakura said politely.

“I haven’t seen you in quite a while,” Jounouchi said, in between large bites of his takoyaki. “Where have you been?”

Yuugi was a bit shocked by the question. Wasn’t Bakura supposed to be in class with them all year?

“I’m sorry,” Bakura said. “My father has been ill for quite a while, and I had to take care of him.”

Knowing from experience how tough and difficult it could be to take care of someone else, especially a family member, Yuugi offered his sympathies. “I’m sorry to hear that. Is he alright?”

“Yes, he left for another dig at Egypt,” Bakura said. “I’m not sure exactly where, though. Say, this is really a nice place, isn’t it?”

He wondered why Bakura had been invited, then it suddenly dawned to him. “Bakura-kun, you must be here because you’re a finalist too, right?”

“I came in tenth,” he said, smiling sheepishly. “Just high enough to get an invitation!”

Yuugi returned the smile. He was about to congratulate Bakura, when he heard loud voices, coming from Kaiba and Yami. Their discussion was getting quite heated, in a bad way. Kaiba looked like he was chewing on rocks and Yami’s eyes were dark and cold, his face distorted in a disapproving grimace. Yuugi didn’t know what to do. Should he intervene? He was into deep, caring for Yami, loving him as his Other Self, as someone who was the other half of his soul… the soul of a Pharaoh, who sacrificed himself to save the world from eternal darkness… and he was supposed to be the ‘light’ side, and Yami the ‘dark’ side. He wanted to defend him, protect him somehow… and he took a step forward.

“Nii-sama, we’re going to start,” Mokuba piped up and Kaiba immediately jerked back into his position as rich and powerful CEO, shutting down any personal interaction. The guests gathered together in front of the stage and Mokuba handed his older brother a microphone. Kaiba was extremely experienced in speaking in public and he launched into an introduction of Duel Monsters, giving the attendants a brief oversight of the history and rules of the game. He moved on quickly to the strategy and tactics involved, then to the holographic technology of his own company and finally to the official part, declaring Yami the winner. Not a word was mentioned about Malik Ishtar, conspicuous by his absence. Yami appeared on stage, receiving a large trophy with his name engraved. He had to take the microphone from Kaiba, which he did reluctantly; however, when he started to speak, the entire crowd went silent. He told a little about his love for the game and how he had trained and dueled to come as far as he could, earning him the current title of King of Duelists. He added that he would continue to compete nationally and internationally in tournaments before handing the microphone back to Kaiba. Now it was time for the guests to mingle and enjoy the rest of the evening; journalists interviewed the remaining finalists and snapped more pictures, while the business people amassed around Kaiba to talk about his technology.

Jounouchi was in line for the buffet again, followed by Honda. Anzu shook her head amusedly. Yuugi followed them, knowing that Yami couldn’t join them for a while as reporters circled around him, asking questions about the tournament and the God Cards.

“Are you coming back to school soon, Yuugi-kun?” Bakura asked, picking up their conversation.

“My grandfather recently had surgery,” Yuugi explained. To his delight, Sugoroku was in front of the Ceremonial Tablets, studying them up close. Apparently, Yuugi’s mother had taken the opportunity to ask Mokuba, who’d been happy to comply. “After he has regained his strength and works at the Game Shop again, then I’ll go back to school… but I missed so much of the year already. I don’t think I could ever make up for that, and I wouldn’t want to repeat the year and not being in class with you guys.”

“What about tutoring? Extra classes? Summer school? We could help you,” Bakura suggested several options.

“I’ll have to work at the Game Shop for a while,” Yuugi said, “as my grandfather hasn’t fully recovered yet and I don’t want him to hurry and overexert himself. Don’t worry, I’ll get my diploma, somehow.”

“I’m sure you will,” Anzu said, popping up on his right. She handed him a plate with assorted, delicious food. “Here, eat up!”

He thanked her and they ate while talking amicably. The food was more than delicious, it was exquisite; Yuugi finished his plate and wanted to ask Anzu if she cared for seconds, when she put her plate away and opened her small clutch.

“Oh! Before I forget… the gift shop was still open,” she said and took out a small envelope. “Here. I know you like Ancient Egypt, and you deserve something after all your hard work in the tournament.”

“Anzu, I can’t accept this,” Yuugi said. “I appreciate the thought, but…”

“I want you to have this,” she insisted and pressed the envelope into his hand. It wasn’t heavy, but not too light either.

“I…” Yuugi searched for words. This was hardly the right moment to tell her that it wasn’t going to work out between them - or was he misinterpreting the situation and was he offending and hurting her by refusing?

“Finalists, step forward,” Mokuba used the microphone to get their attention, “gather around the stage, please.”

Not-understanding, Yuugi obeyed. He’d talk to Anzu later and he put the envelope in his jacket pocket, on top of Ishizu’s letter. Bakura wore the same confused expression. He wanted to ask what was going on, but it became clear quickly: they had to pose for a group picture. All ten finalists of Battle City together - which stressed the absence of the runner-up Malik Ishtar once more - in front of the Ceremonial Tablets. Yuugi took the opportunity to ask Yami if he had eaten something yet.

“No, I did not have the chance to,” Yami answered, looking bored and annoyed. He didn’t like to be surrounded by this many people and he was a little agitated.

“I’ll get you something as soon as we’re done with the picture,” Yuugi said and bumped shoulders with Bakura. “Oh, Yami, this is Bakura-kun, he came in tenth! Bakura-kun, this is Yami.”

Bakura bowed to him, albeit a little stiffly. “It’s a great honor to meet the winner of Battle City in person,” he said. “It was my first time participating, I can only dream of reaching the top three.”

“Placing tenth is a remarkable feat if this was your first tournament,” Yami said, slightly distracted. He was holding the God Cards in his hand.

“Yami, please hold up the God cards,” the photographer requested. “A little higher? Kaiba-sama, a little to the left, if you please?”

The group shifted a little, following the photographer’s instructions. Yuugi put up his biggest smile. He had managed to secure a place next to Yami, with Kaiba on his other side; too good to be true! A shiver went through Yami.

“Are you cold?”

“I am freezing,” Yami said. “I left my jacket in the limousine.”

“Take mine,” Yuugi said and took off the garment.

“Please, stand still,” the photographer said irritably. “God Cards higher, Yami. Yes, thank you! Alright, big smiles everyone!”

Yami grunted as he stretched his arm. “When is this charade over?” he asked and the next second, the God Cards lit up.

“Huh? What kind of effect is this?” the photographer asked. Kaiba looked at Yami.

“What are you doing?”

“I am just holding up the cards!”

“What…” Kaiba looked over his shoulder. The Ceremonial Tablet was mirroring the light. The three engravings above the Pharaoh and the Priest shone brightly and the intensity of the light quickly increased. “What’s going on?”

In a reflex, everyone brought up their hands to shield their eyes. “Shut down the system!” Kaiba barked. Yuugi held up his arm to block the blinding light. He had the sinking feeling that the light had nothing to do with Kaiba’s holographic technology. This was what Ishizu had seen. She had to have an ulterior reason. The light went out abruptly and in the next second, Yami fell to the floor, like a puppet whose strings had been cut. He just sagged, limp, lifeless, and his body made the most sickening ‘thud’ sound when it hit the floor.

“Mou hitori no boku!” Yuugi cried out and immediately knelt next to him. He turned him over and screamed at the look of his open eyes, staring into nothingness. “No!”

“What’s going on?” Mokuba appeared out of nowhere, next to Yuugi. “Should we call an ambulance?”
Yuugi shook and trembled. This was just like when Yami’s soul had been transported to the Shadow Realm. That haunted look in his eyes, yet devoid and empty of any emotion…

“Is he still breathing?” Mokuba asked. “Yuugi? What’s going on?”

“Get everyone away from here,” Yuugi said. “Get them away!” He yelled at seeing Mokuba’s bewildered expression. More screaming and yelling from the people around him, but he couldn’t care less. Yuugi gently shook Yami, but he already knew it was to no avail.

“Please tell me you’ve not gone to that awful Shadow Realm again,” he softly said. “Please, no. You don’t deserve it.”

A hand on his shoulder startled him. It was Jounouchi, who had made his way over to him.

“He looks just like before,” he mumbled. “Yuugi, what…” He suddenly reached in front of Yuugi, picking up the three cards Yami had dropped when he fell.

“Leave those stupid cards,” Yuugi all but snarled.

“They’re gone,” Jounouchi said.

“What?”

“The God Cards are gone,” Jounouchi repeated and showed Yuugi the cards. The text was still visible, but the pictures had disappeared. The images of Ra, Obelisk and Osiris were missing, now they were just empty, blacked out spaces. Yuugi couldn’t care less.

“We have to get him home,” he said. “We have to make him comfortable. Jounouchi, if you…”

“Guys!” It was Anzu, panicked. “What happened to Bakura-kun?”

Yuugi looked to his left and shockingly, Bakura was on the floor as well. Anzu and Honda were closest to him. Honda shook his head.

“He has the same… look as Yami,” he said. Anzu had never witnessed these strange circumstances before and she was obviously frightened and upset. Yuugi locked eyes with Honda.

“Please take Anzu home,” he said. He nodded and took her by the elbow. Anzu wildly withdrew her arm.

“No! I’m staying here!”

“Anzu, please,” Yuugi pleaded her. “I promise you, I’ll explain everything to you later. For now, please, go home with my mother and grandfather. There’s nothing you can do at the moment.”

“But Yuugi…”

“Stay with my family,” Yuugi said. “I’d appreciate it very much if you could stay with them. Please.”

Her resistance subsided and she allowed Honda to guide her towards Sugoroku and Sumiko, who were just as frazzled and upset as her. Mokuba cleared the area with the help of security personnel. The other finalists and the photographer were discreetly whisked away from the stage. Kaiba barked orders and within another five minutes, Yuugi, Jounouchi, Mokuba, Kaiba himself and a few of his men in suits were the only ones left, safe for Yami and Bakura on the floor, barely breathing.

“Kaiba-sama?” one of the men in suits asked, insecure.

“Isono, make sure the press won’t get wind of this,” he said, almost mechanically.

Jounouchi glared daggers at him. “You still can only think of your image and your company right now?” he asked incredulously.

“No,” Kaiba’s tone of voice dropped to sub-zero temperatures, “to protect Yami. You don’t seem to be too shocked. You’re going to tell me all about this, and don’t you dare even think of lying to me!”

Yuugi clenched his fists into Yami’s shirt. “Kaiba-kun, I’ll do anything you want,” he said, steeling himself as he looked up at the tall CEO. “But don’t take the other half of my soul away from me.”


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“Pharaoh. Pharaoh!”

Someone nudged him, rather harshly. Yami grunted in response.

“Pharaoh. You can’t fall asleep on your throne. Wake up!” The voice, slightly gravelly, carried a mix of panic and irritation, and Yami opened his eyes. Someone was standing next to him, the bottom half of his face covered with a veil, and he was wearing a weird hat and strange robes. Confused, Yami blinked at him. “Wh-what?”

“Great Pharaoh, they’re awaiting your judgment.” The man jerked his head into a different direction. Yami couldn’t hide his confusion. This wasn’t the National Museum. Where was Yuugi? The silence weighed like a ton of bricks on his shoulders. Something was expected from him, but he didn’t know what. His eyes darted back and forth; six people stood in front of him, three to every side, staring at each other, standing still like statues. All dressed in various robes and wearing different headpieces - but one man stood out. Yami recognized him immediately and a huge wave of relief surged through him.

“Karim!”

“Yes, Great Pharaoh?” The man turned his head towards him, lowering his eyes as he spoke.

“Karim, I am so glad to see you! They told me you were dead! What is going on?” Yami rose from his seat and with loud gasps, everyone around him hurried to throw themselves on their knees, including Karim. Disorientated, Yami took a few steps forward. Where was he? What was this, some kind of dream? The last thing he remembered was holding up the God Cards in front… of the… Ceremonial Tablets… Raising his hands, Yami noticed the tan color of his skin, and the rings on his fingers. The massive weight on his head was unfamiliar and he raised his hand higher, touching a golden crown, nestled in his hair. “What is going on?”

The man closest to him raised his head. “Great Pharaoh, you must be exhausted.”
Yami knew that voice. He turned sharply on his heels and stared the man directly in his face, not knowing whether to feel relieved again or disturbed.

“Kaiba! What are you doing here?”

The man looked appalled, but he regained his senses quickly. “Great Pharaoh, you are beyond exhaustion. We will escort you to your quarters and postpone the judgment. Mahaado!”

For all the shocks and surprises he already had gone through, nothing could prepare Yami for the person who stepped towards him. Yami hadn’t recognized him as his headpiece covered his hair and obscured large parts of his face, but he was definitely the same as his bodyguard, Mahaado. It was too much. Yami’s body gave out on him. Before he could topple over, the Kaiba-lookalike was within two steps at his side and caught him. Yami grabbed his robes and clung to him. The shock from seeing his bodyguards again and the strange nature of his situation was too much to bear and he sank into unconsciousness. The last thing he heard was a loud commotion, people yelling “Pharaoh!”, an uproar of voices, and then he knew no more.


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



He woke to the sound of soft murmuring. Whoever was speaking, he or she was far away. Yami turned his head from left to right. He was in a bed; someone had undressed him. Yuugi. He needed Yuugi. Where was he? The cool sheets shifted over his body as he moved. Yami threw his legs over the edge of the bed, feeling extremely vulnerable. A small pile of neatly folded clothes was on a wooden chair and he quickly dressed himself, as well as putting on the golden jewelry. He felt cold to his core and he grabbed a purple cape, draping it loosely around his shoulders. After he was done, Yami sneaked into the direction the voices were coming from. They were just around the corner of this huge bedroom. A woman was speaking, her voice melodious and serene, and yet strangely familiar.

“I didn’t foresee this,” he could hear her say. “The tension as of late is hard on him.”

“His father’s passing took a greater toll on him than we thought.” Kaiba’s voice.

“It took a great toll on all of us,” a third, male voice that he had never heard before. “The Kingdom is in great disarray. We have to act accordingly. Set, you must assume the throne in the Pharaoh’s place, if he’s not well enough.”

“Akunadin!” Yami recognized this voice; it was the man who had stood beside him when he woke up on the throne. “Hold your tongue! How dare you even insinuate that our Pharaoh isn’t up to the task?”

“We need a strong leader,” the previous voice, Akunadin’s, rang out. “War’s on our doorstep, the entire nation’s going to be besieged, and thieves are running all over the Palace! A fainting Pharaoh is not fit to rule!”

“Your opinion is duly noted. But you’re not the Pharaoh, and you’re not deciding this. He’s young and healthy, he’ll bounce back right away.”

“I…” Akunadin suddenly halted and looked to his right. He made a shallow bow. “Great Pharaoh, it’s great to see you up again.”

Everyone’s head snapped into his direction. Yami hadn’t bothered to hide himself from the speakers. He eyed the elderly man, Akunadin, with great distrust before schooling his face into a neutral expression.

“There is work to do,” he said and his voice carried the anger he felt. To hear Akunadin speak of him so dismissively… he had no idea what was going on, but he wasn’t going to be shoved aside like this. “You are all dismissed,” he said coldly, “except for you.” He pointed rather rudely at the woman bearing Ishizu’s face. “I want to talk to Mahaado and Karim, send them over to me!”

“Yes, Great Pharaoh,” The Kaiba-clone, referred to as Set, bowed to him and ushered everyone out of the room, leaving Yami with the Ishizu-look-alike.

“What do you wish for me to do, Great Pharaoh?” she asked.

Yami hesitated. This all felt so real. It was too coherent to be a dream, or a nightmare. He had to find out what was going on and he had to find Yuugi. He had to find out where he was. Great Pharaoh. I believe that you are the dark half of … no! This couldn’t be Ancient Egypt. It just couldn’t be!

“Ishizu, was I out for long?” he demanded louder and harsher than he intended.

“A couple of hours,” she answered. “You needed the rest, Great Pharaoh. You’ve been working very hard and everyone knows it. Forgive Akunadin for his audacity. He’s usually not this aggressive.”

Yami made a noncommittal noise. He had to think fast. She was obviously not the Ishizu he had met in his own world, though she responded to the same name. Ancient Egypt didn’t exist. It was impossible. How could he have ended up in here, and how could he get out?

“How is your brother doing?” he asked.

She tilted her head elegantly. “Great Pharaoh? Are you alright? You know I don’t have a brother.”

He was at a loss. What in the world was going on? Was this a game, and if so, what were the rules? He opened his mouth to speak, when a knock on the door announced the arrival of Mahaado and Karim. Ishizu bid him goodbye and left, but not after giving him another quizzical look. Yami’s heart filled with joy when he saw his bodyguards.

“Mahaado, Karim, I am so glad to see you!” he said, unable to keep the relief out of his voice.

“Are you alright, Great Pharaoh?” Mahaado asked. “You scared us.”

“I feel fine,” Yami lied through his teeth. He wanted to cry out don’t you see it’s me, Yami! but he decided against it. “Tell me what is going on, please!”

“There’s a thief running about,” Karim said, frowning at the thought. “You’re in danger, Great Pharaoh. He’ll try to kill you.”

“Really?” It was out of Yami’s mouth before he realized it.

Mahaado shifted from one foot to the other, a little uneasy. “Great Pharaoh, are you really alright? How could you possibly forget how this man stormed into the Palace, and you called for Obelisk to defeat him?”

“I called for… Obelisk?” Yami was flabbergasted. The worried looks on Mahaado’s and Karim’s faces unsettled him. They were deeming him weak, unhinged… he had to do something about it! Why couldn’t he remember a thing? Obelisk… was a God Card. He had won Obelisk from Kaiba in the Battle City tournament… in a world that was far, far away from here.

“Only the Gods are strong enough to protect you,” Karim said solemnly. “We’ll do our best, Great Pharaoh, but there are forces at work that not even we can comprehend.”

“I am very grateful to have you around.” Yami had been raised by Karim and Mahaado after his father's early passing, but this… was very different. They were not the Karim and Mahaado who acted as his guardians, in every way possible. Here, whatever ‘here’ was, they were Priests - and the distance between Pharaoh and Priest was a great one.

“The thief calls himself Bakura,” Karim continued. “He boasts to be the ‘King of Thieves’. I’m afraid he’s going to create much more trouble for us all, judging from that monster of his, Diabound.”

“Bakura?” Strangely enough, that name vaguely rang a bell. It was overwhelming. He had so many things to learn, so many things to figure out. How was he supposed to deal with this situation? He only knew one way. He’d been transported to this world. This was some kind of ‘new’ world. Every world had rules, like a game. Games had rules. He was the King, and his Priests were his pawns. He already knew his enemies: this King of Thieves, and Priest Akunadin, who had loudly made it known that he thought he, Yami, was weak. He took a deep breath. He had dueled a thousand times, he had faced tremendous adversaries and he had been to something called the Shadow Realm, which he had survived. At the thought of the Shadow Realm, he thought of Malik again and automatically he brought up his hands, to look at the scars the other had caused. The doctor had removed his bandages a couple of days ago and had told him that he’d been very lucky. The scars could’ve been a whole lot deeper, and a whole lot uglier. Yami suppressed a gasp. His skin was flawless. That wasn’t right. Malik had cut his hands. He had seen the cuts himself, there should be light scarring. His skin couldn’t be flawless.

“Great Pharaoh? Something wrong with your hands?” Mahaado was quick to close the distance and he took Yami’s hands in his. A jolt went through him. Yuugi would take his hands in his exactly like this. Yami didn’t know what to say and mumbled something unintelligible. “I do not see any damage,” Mahaado said, after close inspection. “You have been working very hard as of late, and had little to no rest… you should take it easy for the afternoon.”

“Take me to the library,” Yami said. He needed information, urgently. This wasn’t his body, this wasn’t his world. This was a game, and he had to familiarize himself with the rules as fast as possible. Where to find more information than at a library? Mahaado bowed to him.

“But of course, Great Pharaoh. This way.”

Karim walked along, talking about general things, and Yami made sure to pay attention to his every word, filing away the information for later use. The man, who had spoken first to him, was his vizier, Shimon Muran. The names of the Priests were: Set, Shaadah, Mahaado, Karim, Akunadin and Ishizu. This was the Royal Palace, and the Great Pharaoh had infinite resources at his disposal: guards, soldiers, servants… At the top of a flight of stairs, Karim bid his goodbyes to them. Mahaado and Yami continued their way down. Yami was sorely tempted to ask Mahaado if he knew who he truly was. The one responsible for creating this game world had to know personal information about Yami. Why else would he use his bodyguards as pawns? He wasn’t sure if he was doing the right thing, but treating this like a game was his only method of survival at the moment.

“Great Pharaoh, we…” Mahaado suddenly halted.

“What is…”

“Shh.” Mahaado stared intently at a large vase. Yami arched an eyebrow. This vase wasn’t any different from the others he’d seen so far. He hadn’t thought it or the vase shook and rattled, and a girl jumped out, crowing in delight. She immediately attached herself to Yami, wrapping her arms and legs around him. He stumbled backwards and almost fell, surprised by the sudden ‘attack’. Irritated, Mahaado plucked the girl off of him.

“Mana! What did I tell you? Such behavior is inappropriate in front of the Pharaoh!”

“Master! I just wanted to greet him the old-fashioned way!” She grinned from ear to ear, but when she saw the confused look on Yami’s face, her smile faltered and disappeared, looking like a puppy who just got kicked.

“I do not mind at all,” he hurried to say.

“Prince, are you all right?”

“Pharaoh, Mana, he is the Pharaoh now,” Mahaado corrected her with a sigh. “Tell me, what you were doing in that vase? You are supposed to study your spell book, remember?”

“I just wanted to greet him,” the girl said, downtrodden.

“I really do not mind, Mana,” Yami repeated, speaking her name. She immediately lit up as he addressed her.

“Can we do something fun, Prince… eh, Pharaoh? You’ve done nothing but talking to people…”

“The Pharaoh is responsible for us all and his burdens are heavy,” Mahaado cut her off. “There is no time to play, Mana.”

She looked disappointed. “I understand, Prince... eh, Pharaoh.”

“We were on our way to the library,” Yami said. “Would you like to join us?”

“Sure!” She took him by the elbow and skipped along. Yami had no idea who she was, which saddened him. She obviously knew him and had a fondness for him…and he had no idea how to return that kind of affection. It reminded him of Yuugi again. Yuugi… where was he? Where was his aibou?

“Are you looking for something in particular, Great Pharaoh?” Mahaado asked as they entered the library. Yami was seriously impressed; the walls of the room were covered from floor to ceiling with wooden shelves, storing massive amounts of scrolls. He could see more rooms stretching out behind this one, and it dizzied him.

“I want to know who else but Bakura has entered the Palace without my permission.”

“Very well, Great Pharaoh. I will take a look at the records with the unauthorized entrances.” Mahaado walked off, obviously knowing his way around. Mana leaned into Yami.

“He’s so stern, isn’t he? Ever since you became Pharaoh, he’s been so worried about you, but he won’t let it show.”

“Worried about me?” Yami asked.

“Yes,” the girl said. “We had so much fun together, studying and living together, and now it’s all changed. Being a Pharaoh is big and scary.”

Yami hesitated. “Mana…”

“Yes, Prince?”

“What am I called?”

“What do you mean?”

“What is my name? How do you call me?”

“Silly Prince! You’re the Prince, of course! Eh, Pharaoh, Pharaoh!”

“My first name, Mana,” Yami insisted.

She shook her head wildly. “I just can’t call you by your first name!”

“You may call me by my first name,” Yami pushed on.

Mahaado returned at that moment, his arms loaded with scrolls and saving Mana from answering. The Priest took a seat at one of the large tables and carefully rolled out the delicate scrolls. Yami sat down as well, adjusting the long, flowing purple cape around him. The fabric was soft and comfortable and soothed his nerves somehow. He concentrated on the scrolls. He could read the hieroglyphs and he spoke the current language well, as everyone understood him. That was at least some kind of consolation. Yami was sure of one thing, though: he could trust Mahaado and Mana with his life. He had found his enemies, but also his allies. He would figure out his name later, for now he was simply ‘Pharaoh’.

“Here, another breaking and entering.” Mahaado showed Yami the scroll. “Just after your father passed away.”

What cruel game was this, that even in this world he wouldn’t get to be with his father? Even if it was a game setting, Yami would’ve killed for a moment with his father. Just to see him, to talk to him… but maybe it was for the best. He couldn’t afford any distraction right now. He had so many questions and so much to do, and he missed Yuugi. He needed Yuugi. Without him, he was lost and he could never be the Pharaoh the others expected him to be.


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



“Other half of your soul..? What kind of nonsense it that?” Kaiba snorted. “Mokuba! Where’s the goddamn ambulance?”

“We don’t need an ambulance,” Yuugi said, voice soft. “Call it off. This can’t be taken care of in a hospital.”

“What are you talking about? What do you know about it?”

“We know because we’ve witnessed it before,” Jounouchi said. He balled his fists; not to shake them at Kaiba, but in pure powerlessness. “Just listen to us!”

“His soul has been transported to a place where we can’t reach him,” Yuugi elaborated, his voice still soft. Kaiba had to come close to him to hear his words. “I’m not sure if he’s gone to the Shadow Realm, but there are strange forces at work here… forces we can’t understand.”

“Shadow Realm? What kind of strange forces?” The CEO’s voice clouded with more frustration with every question. “What do you mean, you’ve ‘witnessed it before’?”

“I know you care a lot about him, Kaiba-kun,” Yuugi said, his arms around Yami. He had pulled him up so he was resting half in his lap, not on the cold, hard floor. “I know what he means to you. But I care for him too, more than you’ll ever know.”

“How could you,” Kaiba hissed. “You know nothing about him!”

“He’s the other half of my soul!” Yuugi cried out. Slightly embarrassed by his outburst, he continued: “Yami needs comfort and care. He’s battling in a place where we can’t reach him. He’s fighting, and we can’t even show him our support!”

“Battling? Fighting? Who’s he fighting?”

“I don’t know.” Yuugi looked down at Yami, the empty, lifeless look in his eyes greatly disturbing him. With the gentlest of touches, he moved his fingers to close his eyes. Yuugi cradled him to his chest, if only to hear his faint breathing. That was all that reminded him of Yami’s life: his even, yet weak breathing. He wanted to cry. He wasn’t going to bring back Yami by crying. A large shadow fell over him. It was Kaiba, towering over him menacingly. The CEO crouched down and put his hand on Yami’s forehead as if checking his temperature.

“You might care for him,” he said, growling like an injured animal, “and you might think he’s the other half of your soul, but he has been mine for a long time.”

“This isn’t a pissing contest as to who Yami belongs to,” Yuugi said, brusquer than he intended, not liking to hear the rumors confirmed. “He needs our help, not our bickering.”

Kaiba had to chew on that. When he looked at Yuugi again, Yuugi saw his vulnerability under the layers of raw strength and unsurpassable willpower. He truly cared, and his voice was a lot mellower as he said: “Tell me what to do.”

“Yami needs to be somewhere comfortable,” Yuugi repeated. He didn’t think it was a good idea to bring Yami in this state to the Game Shop.

“I have plenty of rooms available at my mansion. I can arrange for a medical team and all or any medical equipment you need, so he’ll be taken care of 24/7.”

“Yes, that’s good.” Yuugi didn’t correct Kaiba’s misinterpretation, still believing this was a medical issue that could be solved with doctors or pills. He didn’t bat Kaiba’s hand, still resting on Yami’s forehead, away either. It was such a tender gesture and Yuugi hoped that somehow, Yami could feel the love and care surrounding him.

“What about Bakura?” Jounouchi asked suddenly.

“Kaiba-kun, please extend to him the same courtesy as you do to Yami,” Yuugi said. “I don’t know why or how this happened to him as well. Perhaps he’s fighting the same fight, and he might be with Yami, wherever they are.”

“Alright.” Kaiba was curt, but not irrational. He straightened himself, his fingers lingering on Yami’s face until the last moment. He turned towards the two men in suits and started to bark commands as usual. While they scrambled to execute them, Kaiba folded his arms in front of his chest, apparently lost in thoughts. Yuugi stroke Yami’s hair, his hands raking through the multicolored strands in an attempt to soothe both Yami and himself. Jounouchi hunched over him.

“Is there something I can do?” he asked.

“Will you please stay?” Yuugi asked in return. “I understand if you want to go home, Jounouchi-kun…”

“Hey man, ‘home’ is where my drunken father’s waiting for me. I’d rather stay with you and try to help out.”

Yuugi was grateful for his friend’s support. “I need to talk to Ishizu-san,” he said. “She has foreseen this. The way she-”

“Ishizu? Malik Ishtar’s sister?” Kaiba had overheard them. Before Yuugi could answer, one of Kaiba’s men, the one called Isono, materialized next to the CEO and said: “The car is waiting, Seto-sama.”

“We’ll talk later.” Kaiba reached for Yami, together with Isono, but Jounouchi was faster. He scooped Yami up from Yuugi’s arms and said curtly: “Show me where the car is.”

“This way,” Isono said. Honda followed with Bakura, and Mokuba brought up the rear. On their way to the car, another limousine, there was no one in sight. Isono had gotten rid of curious eyes effectively. The drive to Kaiba’s mansion didn’t take long and after they had arrived, Isono showed Jounouchi to a large bedroom. It was as large as the entire Game Shop’s surface and decked out in a luxury atmosphere and decoration that would make anyone gasp - but Yuugi didn’t have any eyes for it. Isono left with Honda to show him where to put Bakura, leaving Kaiba, Yuugi and Jounouchi behind in the current room.

“Where do you want him? In the bed, right?” Jounouchi asked.

“Yes, please, lie him down,” Yuugi said. Jounouchi walked over to the bed. Kaiba followed his every movement with suspicious eyes. “Kaiba-kun, Jounouchi-kun, could you leave us alone? I want to make him as comfortable as possible.”

Kaiba grunted something that Yuugi couldn’t understand, and Jounouchi looked worrisome, but they retreated as per his request, without loud or sneering comments. Strangely calm and composed, Yuugi started to undress Yami. He gently and carefully removed the garments, taking his time and folding each article of clothing before moving on to the next one. A pair of pajamas was laid out on the chair next to the bed, soft and velvety, and he put it on him. His body was so limp, so lifeless, that Yuugi had to check various times if he was still breathing. It made him sick to his stomach. This was so wrong. Yami should be talking, frowning, smiling, anything but this… comatose state. Was he once more in the Shadow Realm? Yuugi could very well remember how Yami had been so afraid back then, not understanding what was going on. What battle was he fighting? Was he, once more, alone and afraid? How could he help him? Yuugi pulled the sheets over Yami and covered him with the comforter, tucking him in snugly. He stared at Yami for so long that he lost track of time, until a knock on the door jerked him out of his thoughts.

“Yuugi?”

It was Jounouchi. Yuugi heaved a sigh of relief, releasing some of the tension he was holding.
“Yes, Jounouchi-kun?”

“When you’re… eh… done, Kaiba wants to talk to you.”

“I’m done,” Yuugi said.

“Are you alright?”

“No. I’m not feeling very well.” Yuugi gave his friend a watery smile. “This is so hard.”

“We’re here for you,” Jounouchi reassured him. “Come on, let’s go see Kaiba.”

Yuugi followed Jounouchi, through large hallways and corridors, up a grand staircase and around numerous corners. He had lost total sense of direction within five minutes; this mansion was a maze! Jounouchi halted in front of a double door.

“Ready?”

As his answer, Yuugi pushed past him and opened the doors, stepping into a large room, tastefully decorated. The interior breathed modern comfort and luxury, not over-the-top wealth or splendor. Everyone else was already there: Kaiba and his brother Mokuba, Honda and Isono, who apparently was more than just an assistant, even a personal assistant. Yuugi was fine with his presence, the man had proven his worth and if he worked for Kaiba, he was loyal and trustworthy.

Yuugi sat down. “You wanted to talk to me?”

“Explain to me what the hell is going on!” Kaiba immediately demanded.

“If I knew all the answers, I would tell you right away,” Yuugi said.

“You obviously know more about this. Why didn’t you want him to go to a hospital?”

“Because no doctor can help him, Kaiba-kun. There’s nothing physically wrong with him. His soul has been transported to a place we don’t know.”

Kaiba snorted. “His soul has been transported,” he repeated, mocking Yuugi’s words.

“Back off, Kaiba,” Jounouchi said.

“Do I have to remind you that you’re in my house?”

“Do I have to remind you that your ex-boyfriend needs all of our help?” Jounouchi bit at him.
That seemed to calm Kaiba down, if only a little. Yuugi reached for the water pitcher on the coffee table and poured himself a glass. He drank thirstily. Mokuba handed his brother a tablet, but he didn’t look at it. Yuugi reclined into the seat and the words came on their own. He told Kaiba about dropping out of school, his love for Duel Monsters, why he participated in Battle City. He told him about Karim, Mahaado, the dinner in Yami’s suite, where he first met him. His distant behavior. His impersonal attitude. That cruel exterior, crushing every opponent in the game, yet his care for the people around him; his two bodyguards, his father who was with him, in spirit and in mind. Yuugi told about Ishizu, about her visit to the Game Shop and her ominous words. The young and brave Pharaoh, splitting his soul in a dark half and a light half. The Shadow Realm. Malik Ishtar. The cuts on Yami’s hands. Winning the God Cards. Everything, and when he was done, his throat was raw and he had no saliva left. Jounouchi poured him another glass, which he accepted gratefully. Both Mokuba and Kaiba exchanged disbelieving looks.

“I think it’s your turn now, Kaiba,” Jounouchi said. The CEO glared daggers at him.

“I met Ishizu Ishtar two years ago,” he said.

Two years ago?” Yuugi and Jounouchi parroted simultaneously.

“No one ever questioned my having a God Card in my deck,” Kaiba said. He sounded both irritated and perplexed about it. “The truth is, I didn’t win that card. Ishizu gave it to me.”

Nobody said a word. “She handed me a God Card and just walked away,” Kaiba said. “It was at the same time the Ancient Egyptian-themed exhibit came to the Domino City museum. She acted like some kind of representative, I was there when the exhibit was officially opened. Somehow she managed to corner me and give me the card.”

“What did she say?” Yuugi asked.

“That it was a gift, and that I needed to hold onto it until it was time to return it.”

Jounouchi took the three God Cards out of his pocket. Yami had dropped them and everyone, subconscious or not, shuddered at the sight of the blank images.

“They’re gone,” Mokuba said superfluously. “Big brother, what does that mean?”

“It means that Ishizu has orchestrated all of this. Who knows how long she’s been brooding on
these plans?” Kaiba’s voice increased in anger and frustration. “Mere weeks ago, she visited me again, right here in my office. She knew I had done my research and that I had learned of the existence of Osiris and Ra.”

“Did Yami never tell you about how he got Osiris?” Yuugi couldn’t help but ask.

“You know how private he is,” Kaiba said. “I guess he simply didn’t remember. He didn’t remember a lot of things.”

Jounouchi wasn’t convinced. “Surely you remember winning a God Card and having it in your deck?”

“It doesn’t matter at the moment,” Kaiba snarled. He tapped on the tablet in front of him. “I want answers, and only that Ishizu woman is able to give them to me. If you’re asking me to believe all that crap about light halves, Pharaoh’s souls and whatnot, you’re sorely mistaken. I don’t give a damn about it!”

“Kaiba-kun, you don’t have to believe any of it,” Yuugi said. “Yami is living proof of what has happened. Do you…”

“No,” Kaiba grumbled in response. He shoved the tablet towards them. “As soon as I heard you mentioning her name, I have given orders to find the woman. All of her contact information has proven to be false, and her current location is unknown. The Ishtar clan seems to have vanished, but she won’t be able to hide for too long.”

“We have to go to Egypt,” Yuugi said.

“Egypt? Preposterous. KaibaCorp. has the latest, state-of-the-art satellites. Believe me, she will be found, even if she’s hiding in a godforsaken desert.”

“This was all her idea,” Yuugi said. “She orchestrated it from the start. She’s a seer. She has seen something that would happen when Yami presented the God Cards to the Ceremonial Tablet, that’s why she suggested the idea in the first place. If there’s anyone who knows what’s going on, it’s Ishizu.”

“Exactly. Hence why everyone in my service is working around the clock to find her,” Kaiba said, as if talking to a small child. “We don’t need to go to Egypt at all.”

“Yes, we do,” Yuugi said. “I’m not sure we can find her, state-of-the-art technology or not.” He dropped a significant pause. “I’m sure she’ll be waiting for us.”


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





Previous chapters: 0 | Hikari | Yami | Desher |

This entry was originally posted at http://the-goldenpath.dreamwidth.org/85988.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
ragnarok_08
Jun. 26th, 2017 04:51 pm (UTC)
This was really, really good!!
the_goldenpath
Jun. 27th, 2017 07:02 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for reading and commenting, dear! I'm very glad you liked it!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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