The Road to Paradise
Cover Art by Yugi-eh at tumblr (commissioned piece)
Chapter One: Warning Signs
The school bell rang through the hallway marking Kaiba late for class... not that he cared. In his mind, running one of the most successful companies in Japan was a pretty good reason to be late. Besides, it wasn't as if he was missing the beginning of a lesson. Today was field trip day. School was pointless for him on a normal day, and was even more pointless on a field trip day.
Kaiba narrowed his eyes as he walked down the hall to his classroom, irritation clear on his features. If it wasn't for attendance purposes he wouldn't be here. Heaving a sigh and feeling a headache already starting, he pushed the door open to class. Students were scattered about the room, standing, sitting on the chairs, sitting on their desks. The teacher was up at the front calling attendance.. or at least, Kaiba thought she was just calling attendance. He froze as soon as he heard:
"Yugi Mutou and Seto Kaiba."
The teacher stopped and looked around the room. Her eyes landed on Yugi sitting in his chair about halfway back on the far side of the room. Yugi perked up a bit when his name was called. Once the teacher saw him she continued scanning the room for Kaiba; Yugi was doing the same.
Was she calling out partners for the day? The brown-haired executive's blood froze in his veins. There was no way he was suffering an entire field trip with the pint-sized wonder as his "buddy." Not a chance in hell. A field trip was bad enough. He didn't need this.
The teacher hadn't seen him yet. If he acted fast enough he could turn and pretend he had never been here. Without a second thought, Kaiba turned to flee from the room.
A hand slapped on the CEO's shoulder.
"Yo, Moneybags," Behind Kaiba was Jou, disheveled as always in his blue school uniform, satchel tossed over one shoulder casually. Perhaps Kaiba would have gotten away for the day, but the blond's voice was awfully loud. "You runnin' late too? It's a good thing we both made in time for the field trip, yeah?"
Kaiba casually brushed Jou's hand away from him as he turned around. "Katsuya", he stated the surname coldly, "Late as always I see. I wouldn't expect anything less from a third-rate duelist like you."
"Hey-!" The blond's mouth was wide opened to respond, but Kaiba's dismissive glance cut him off. After giving his version of a greeting to one of his least favorite people in existence, the young CEO turned back around and strode into the room, his unbuttoned school jacket fluttering about his waist in a way no one else's uniform seemed to. Pretending he hadn't been about to flee the school property, Kaiba passed his teacher without so much as a nod and made his way to his favored seat towards the back of the classroom. Along the way he passed his riva,l sparing the miniature duelist the briefest of glances, his cold blue eyes growing a shade darker.
Yugi glimpsed over at Kaiba with his bright violet eyes as the CEO passed. He offered the brunet a small smile, but didn't say anything. Jou was quick to hurry to his own seat, waving brightly towards his best friend before sitting at the desk.
The teacher cleared her throat. "Thank you for making it here, the both of you." She didn't press more on the issue. Kaiba was Kaiba, and, well. Jou was always late. The teacher continued sounding off the rest of the pairs. Yugi glimpsed back, trying to see if he could catch sight of his partner for the field trip.
Inside his head, another voice spoke. One he was familiar with.
'So both you and Kaiba have been partnered together.' The deeper, more confident voice that Yugi had become accustomed to spoke out, echoing within the depths of his mind. Yugi didn't respond; he didn't need to. The voice of his darker self, Yami, faded into nothingness, but his presence still lingered.
Noticing that his assigned partner was trying to get a look at him, the brunet duelist turned his attention to the window in an attempt to avoid any accidental eye contact. He was not, and never would be, Yugi's friend in any sense of the word. He didn't want to give his rival the wrong idea by choosing to acknowledge him at school now.
It was a bright day outside with a few scattered white fluffy clouds. Once the CEO had successfully drowned out what he considered the droning of his teacher and the quiet mutterings of his classmates, Kaiba could hear the distant sounds of traffic and life in general. At the very least, the everyday noises were far more interesting than anything that was going on in this room. Not by much, but it was better.
No longer able to lie to himself about the outdoors being amusing, Kaiba turned his attention to the book bag he had propped up against the legs of his desk. Still avoiding any potential eye contact with anyone, the cold duelist managed to cast his blue eyes on his bag and fish out a book… a few seconds too late.
"Now that everyone knows who their partners are and attendance is complete, please make sure you have anything you may need for the trip packed up. Remember the assignment we discussed yesterday. It will be turned in at the beginning of class tomorrow." The teacher's voice cut into Kaiba's mind, easily grating on his nerves. It wasn't that the woman had an unpleasant voice... he just didn't want to have to listen to her. Not today. The young teacher clasped her hands together and gave her class a warm smile "Also, please remember to behave yourself at all times during this outing. Misbehavior will not be tolerated." She paused and gave a discrete glance to a couple of students in the class. Both Jou and Honda glanced at each other from across the classroom. "Now everyone please make your way down to the buses. Our class is on bus two. You will be sitting with your assigned partners."
Without another word from the teacher, all the students in the room began stuffing their necessary belonging in their bags and started filing out the door, the dull chatter raising in volume. Kaiba remained seated, watching everyone start out the doors. Sit with your partner? This trip kept getting worse and worse. He had been hoping to sit by himself on the bus.
Yugi rose from his chair, but before he could go and meet up with Kaiba, Jou slung an arm around his small shoulders, pulling him in.
"You're gonna be stuck on this whole trip with Kaiba?" Behind him, both Honda and Anzu came up, the young girl glancing over towards the CEO who was still sitting in the back of the classroom. "Man, way to suck."
"Kaiba-kun isn't that bad," Yugi chastised his friend, and his purple eyes made their way over to where the brunet sat. "...It will be fine." He had to wrestle Jou off of him, and reluctantly, his friend released the small boy.
"If you say so," And both Jou and Honda headed out the door of the classroom. "Later, Yug!"
"Be careful," Anzu added, as if Kaiba was planning on maiming him. Yugi smiled, waving after her until Anzu disappeared out of the classroom with a flutter of her pleated skirt. The two rivals were now alone.
The noise level died significantly as all their classmates traveled further and further down the hallways on their way to the buses. Aware of the growing silence, Kaiba slowly turned his attention to the only other person in the room. Once again his already cold eyes grew darker as he looked at his partner.
"Don't think for one second that I am going to like this," he finally stated darkly. Kaiba reached down and snatched up his book bag, rising fluidly from his chair. Irritation growing with each passing second, the young CEO reached up and pulled at the collar of his button up shirt as he began his walk down the rows of desks. He brushed by Yugi, almost making it a point to send the smaller duelist backwards into one of the desks. Yugi's hands caught himself before he toppled over and he looked over at Kaiba, only catching sight of his back.
The CEO didn't stop. He briskly made his way to the door, not that reaching it would spare him any significant time from his partner. He probably only had seconds before his pint-sized nightmare came padding along after him telling him how this trip might not be so bad and trying to make him believe it might actually be a little fun.
He was right. Yugi was quick to exit the room, hurrying along until he reached Kaiba's side... kind of. It was a little hard to match his friend's long stride (well, he considered Kaiba his friend, anyway). Yugi released a sigh, glad to have caught up.
"The museum should be interesting!" And already the small talk had begun, making Kaiba cringe internally. This was already turning into a long day and it wasn't even passed 9 AM. "There's supposed to be some really interesting exhibits there! I'm sure we'll be able to get a good look at some great artifacts!"
Kaiba sped up just a little bit more. If anything he could make it a little harder for his partner to keep pace with him comfortably. If he was really lucky the younger duelist might just give up on talking and focus on walking. "What makes you think that I care about some old artifacts?" The older duelist shot back in response. "This trip is nothing but a grade to me. I just want to see what I need to finish my assignment and that's it."
"Well I think it's interesting..." Yugi said slowly, voice trailing off.
The brunet reached the stairs first and took to them, taking two at a time. Not a normal thing for him, but it would make it harder for Yugi to keep up with him. Not to mention if he was really lucky his assigned partner would fall down the stairs and be sent home early. Not that the older duelist was counting on it, but he could dare to dream. "You can daydream and stare at all that useless junk all you want, just don't get in my way or cause me any problems," Kaiba replied, not even sparing a second to look back.
He could hear Yugi following him down the steps. Of course, with Kaiba's long legs, the blue-eyed student was already out of sight before Yugi was halfway down.
Out at Bus #2, the class was already boarding. Their teacher was still standing at the door, waiting for the last two of their group. It was then that she saw Kaiba heading her way.
"There you are, Kaiba-kun." She looked down to her clipboard. "...Hm? Where is Mutou-kun?"
Kaiba shrugged and stepped past his teacher, "Somewhere back there."
Before his teacher could say anything else, the brunet had already taken all the steps up onto the bus. Almost every single seat had been taken by the different sets of partners. Quickly he spotted an opening but just as quickly dismissed it. It was directly next to Jou and across the way from Honda. He was already attached to his rival by a figurative chain, he didn't need the two loudmouth friend's of his rival within arms reach to top it all off.
Within a few more seconds he spotted another opening and just as quickly dismissed that one as well. It was still a little too close to the first two pains and put him within easy earshot of Anzu. He definitely didn't need any speeches about friendship and the chatty girl would be almost guaranteed to give one. With a captive audience how could she not?
Growing desperate Kaiba scanned for another seat. He dismissed one more over some pretense or another before finally spotting one that was suitably far enough removed from the classmates he deemed the biggest headaches. Before anyone had the chance to change their seating choice, Kaiba swooped into place and moved over next to the window. From that spot he could keep his attention on the scenery rather than his pathetic classmates and their antics.
Yugi made it onto the bus, looking around until he spotted Kaiba. The youth brightened upon seeing him, and he made his way over, pausing by the seat. Maybe Kaiba didn't have the same sentiment in mind, but Yugi was determined to make the best of their trip, Kaiba be damned. Of course, if would make him feel a lot better if he could get the CEO to get in on the fun. Maybe he would loosen up a bit if he did.
The small duelist took a seat beside Kaiba on the bus. He sat his backpack on his lap. The teacher did a final headcount, and the bus started moving.
"Um..." Yugi didn't want to sit in silence. "...I ah, brought my deck with me!" He unzipped his backpack, reaching inside and rifling around. "I even got a few new additions, too! Gotta make sure it stays fresh and all."
Kaiba kept his eyes glued on the window, though the mention of Duel Monsters did peak his interest. It always did, and his personal misery very well knew that. As much as he tried to ignore his fellow duelist he couldn't. Not entirely.
Half against his own will Kaiba responded, "New additions? Hah. With the modifications I have made to my deck whatever you've done to yours won't help you. Next time we duel, you will lose to me, Yugi."
"I guess we'll just have to see!" Despite Kaiba's comment, Yugi was in good spirits. When it came to Duel Monsters, Kaiba couldn't get him down. In the end, regardless of what Kaiba said, he was still the current champion. Of course, Yugi wasn't opposed to the thought of being beaten... if he was, that just meant there was even more to improve upon. The youth held his deck up; on the bottom, the Dark Magician showed its face. Perhaps it was just the way the artwork was, but the magician seemed to be staring down Kaiba with an intense gaze. "I guess Kaiba-kun gets to see all of the new cards before they come out, hm? Ojiisan is usually really good about getting the new booster decks when they come out, though!"
The CEO was listening but he was doing his best to ignore the miniature in the seat next to him. He wasn't for idle chatter. It was a waste of time and served no purpose. Before he could get sucked back into a position where he couldn't help but talk, Kaiba reached into his bag and fished out the book he was going for when the teacher had made the announcement to get ready to leave earlier in the classroom. Feeling the worn spine with his fingertips, the brunet felt a sense of relief. A reliable distraction was now in hand.
With no further delay, he pulled the book from his back and then placed his book bag on the ground between his feet. With no further regard for Yugi, the brunet promptly flipped his book open to the place where he had left off last with no problem, even though he was not using a bookmark and he hadn't read from the book in a few days. From here on out the plan was to keep immersed in his book to avoid conversation with anyone and everyone.
It worked. The buses finally arrived to the Domino City History Museum, and once they had parked everyone began to file out. Jou and Honda waved to Yugi as they passed by. The small duelist waited patiently beside Kaiba, glancing over to see if his "buddy" was still engrossed in his book or not.
"Ready to go, Kaiba-kun?" Yugi asked, rising from his seat once everyone had exited.
Letting out a short sigh he hoped no one noticed, Kaiba rose from his seat, resigned to his fate. Before he picked up his bag and followed after his partner, the CEO took a moment to straighten his shirt and button up his jacket. Walking around school with an unbuttoned jacket was one thing. Walking around in the open public was something else completely.
Content that he was presentable, Kaiba slowly followed after his partner. Out of the blue he found himself more than a little irritated that the shorter youth barely made it past his waist. How could anyone be that unfortunate? His rival was in highschool and had grade school kids as tall as he was. He couldn't imagine being in his position.
Briefly Kaiba's features twisted out of confusion. Since when had he ever considered anything about Yugi other than how to beat him in a duel?
Once off the bus he plowed by his assigned partner and made for the place where all the students were massing up in front of all the teachers near the large ornate entrance to the local museum. The museum was a large, light stone building, its shades and hues closer to whites and creams rather than gray. Shallow steps led up to entrance and in front of the stairs large carved pillars stretched up from the ground like small stone towers. About two stories up the pillars attached to the large overhang that covered the entrance and the stairs.
Everyone was eager and excited. The students chatted happily amongst themselves creating a small sea of babbling noises as they waited for further instructions. The small mass did nothing to help the CEO's already fouling mood.
Unwilling to get himself surrounded on all sides, the young executive picked a spot next to a large white stone pillar. At the very least he could guarantee he would have one side where no one could stand. His mood going further and further downhill due to his now forced idleness, the brunet crossed his arms over his chest, finally letting his body language catch up to how he was really feeling. With any luck the teachers would get their instructions over with (for the hundredth time) and turn them all over to whatever museum officials and workers that they needed to. With any extra bit of luck any tours or what not would be completed quickly so he could get down to finishing his assignment. If the powers that be had any sort of mercy in store for him this day they would make it so there were no other planned activities other than lunch and the initial tours and educational talks.
Jou, Honda, Anzu and Yugi stood around together, chatting as the rules were gone over and everyone was starting to split up. Anzu was torn away from the guys by a group of girls, and she waved, stating firmly they needed to all meet up for lunch. Jou looked to the side where he saw Kaiba being a wallflower. The blond made a face before looking back to Honda and Yugi.
"You really gonna hang out with that blowhard all day?" Jou asked, jerking his thumb towards the CEO.
"He's not a blowhard," Yugi stated, shaking his head at his best friend. "Kaiba-kun is Kaiba-kun! I think once he gets in there and sees the exhibit, it will be a lot of fun!" Boy, he was sure counting on it. However, the young man winked towards his friends. "Don't worry about me!
"I've got a, what would you say... a trump card to play, anyway."
Around his neck, the Sennen Puzzle gave a faint, golden gleam.
"Good luck," Honda stated, and the two taller guys lifted their hands, waving as they headed off with their assigned tour group. "Later!"
Yugi waved after them. He turned, looking over towards Kaiba from where he stood. Already Kaiba was absently following their assigned group, his expression clearly indicating his dislike even for this particular task. The smaller duelist trotted over to catch up with his group as they started off down one of the many hallways.
Less than an hour and a half later all the students found themselves making their way back into the grand entryway of the museum. Once there a teacher gave them further instructuctions though they had heard most of it all ready if they had been paying attention earlier. However, repetition for high schoolers was rarely a bad idea, especially on a field trip day.
Once the teachers were done speaking with a group they were dismissed to wander about the museum to look at any of the exhibits that they wanted to with clear instructions to stay out of trouble and to meet back up in the lobby in around two hours for lunch. Like germaphobes fleeing the plague, the students quickly dispersed around the museum relishing their new found freedom.
Now free to move about the museum, Yugi took a quick look around. They might have been brought on a very brief tour of parts of the museum but that did not mean he had gotten a good look at all the exhibits he would have at his disposal. Their guides had mentioned a few ones to go check out other than the ones they were showing. Across the way the small duelist saw what he was hoping to find.
Pleased, Yugi pointed towards the dark opening into one of the exhibits. Above the dark doorway was a gold Eye of Horus that shimmered, beckoning for all to enter. "Kaiba-kun!" He called out to his partner. "Lets go! We don't have all day!"
Quietly Kaiba looked to the archway the smaller youth had indicated. His eyes narrowed ever so slightly. "I am not spending my time in that exhibit." Searching for an out, the taller youth glanced about the lobby to see just what his escape options were. From what he could tell he could care less about all of them. "I'm going there,", he finally announced with the tilt of his head, indicating the exhibit on ocean life.
Yugi took one look at the exhibit entrance Kaiba had indicated and grew immediately confused. Seeing that the tiny duelist wasn't buying into his weak attempt at feigned interest, the CEO gave an audible sigh and started for the Egyptian exhibit his partner had pointed at. At this point it was pick your poison. Why not pick a poison that would distract Yugi most?
Seeing that Kaiba was following, Yugi hurried off into the exhibit, disappearing into the darkness. Kaiba watched as the other was completely enveloped by shadow before making his way inside himself. The interior to the exhibit was dimly lit, in fact, the whole exhibit was in an attempt to give it a feeling of mystique. Within glass boxes were several displays set up of golden icons and decaying artifacts.
In front of a large stone statue of the god Horus, the distinctive figure of Yugi could be seen.
Only this time...
Upon Kaiba's entering the area,the CEO noted that Yugi's body seemed too still. One hand rested on his hip, cocked out into a casual, confident stance. That was all that it took in order to tell apart that one from the other, normal, sweet Yugi that walked around during the day. The form seemed to have grown taller, but it was not in height... just in presence.
The dim light that filled the exhibit hall reflected off golden bangs and wine-red tips. The eyes, now those were different, abandoning their plain purple color for a more fiery, intense hue that seemed to engulf the whole of his being. It was those eyes that now stared down Kaiba from across the room, easily seen, completely overpowering all the ancient wealth and majesty that surrounded the two duelists.
This was him. The one Jou and the others called "the Other Yugi". The Dark One.
Kaiba locked his dark blue eyes with the fiery eyes of the alternate version of Yugi. The CEO never wanted to believe there was another Yugi, especially one in the exact same body. Before, he had always denied what he saw...told himself it was something to do with the lighting or the heat of the moment. Kaiba sought to find reason for the man's "existence", but in the end he couldn't. Nothing he thought of remotely made sense. So here he was, numerous encounters later and still unable to come up with a logical explanation.
Like previous times, he simply let acceptance wash over him and he walked by Yami, making his way to a display to the left of his true rival. He found himself looking down at what he called a bunch of old rocks. Really it was a few old stone tablets with old carvings embedded in their weathered surfaces.
He stared intently at them so he didn't have to pay attention to Yami. The other young man had always disturbed him on some level, precisely because his existence made no sense to the brunet. Ignoring him was an easy concept... but impossible to execute.
The carvings danced a little before his eyes as his gaze intensified and for a few seconds understanding started dawning on him. Words and meanings were flooding into the forefront of his mind like a rush of water from an opening dam. Alarmed, Kaiba quickly looked away from the stone and found himself looking directly at the dark version of his rival. The silence of the room was suddenly beyond overwhelming. The air was still charged with energy and it made the CEO's skin crawl. He hated being in the presence of this other young man.
Nothing normal ever followed.
Yami was staring right back. His wine-red orbs burned holes into his rival, though there was no malice or disdain behind it. He just stared.
It may have seemed like an eternity, but it ended as soon as it came. Yami turned away from Kaiba, looking towards the stones that the other had been staring at but quickly turned his gaze from.
They were alone in the room.
"...You could read it then, couldn't you." Unlike Yugi's voice, Yami's was deep and silken. Assured and smooth. Nothing he truly said was a question, it was a statement. A fact. This was no different. His eyes were trained on the stone tablets.
"Don't be absurd," Kaiba responded stiffly, a faint shadow of a frown possessing his thin lips. The brunet swallowed hard as a small voice in the back of his head whispered.
'Lies'. He clenched his cold eyes closed for a second as soon as he turned his back to the only other person in the room. He pushed his thoughts away but his stomach twisted at the action. Denial. Cold. hard denial and he knew it… but he grasped at the hope of normalcy. He wanted nothing to do with anything supernatural.
Kaiba opened his eyes again and searched for something else to put his attention on, but nothing seemed to offer the lure of comfort. Everything in the room should have felt foreign and old, but almost none of it did. That feeling was nagging and making him feel on edge. He wanted to run but it would be a cold day in hell before he was seen noticeably fleeing a situation. It was a bunch of old stones and decayed remnants of a past long dead.
'Not dead. Just sleeping,' whispered a thought. The CEO flinched a little and dismissed it as quickly as he could.
"None of this holds any power over me," Kaiba assured himself outloud, though some part of him didn't even believe himself.
"It's just an exhibit, Kaiba." Yami's tone of voice seemed to have a touch of humor to it as he listened to Kaiba's declaration, though it was mocking. "...There's no need to get so excited." He moved past the CEO, but this time, his own shoulder bumped against his brunet rival, the clicking of his slightly heeled shoes echoing over the tiled floor. He moved to another display; a beautiful collection of shimmering jewelry.
Kaiba came crashing back to himself in full when Yami brushed by him. There was a sense of familiarity with the contact. It was a warm and comforting sensation. The effects lasted all of five seconds before the taller youth was able to shrug it off and turn his back to the seemingly taller Yugi. The move struck Kaiba as a little childish, but in this instance he didn't care. He didn't really want to look at Yami to begin with and now he really didn't want to.
He walked as calmly as he could over to the exhibit to the right of the initial one Yami had been standing in front of before. Maybe a little distance from his supernatural bane would help. Feeling a little tired and drained, the brunet walked up to the case. This time he found himself looking at some beyond ancient tools.
Normalcy was slowly returning to him. He could feel the muscles he didn't know were tense loosen. Remembering his assignment now that he could think, Kaiba pulled his bag up towards his chest so he could effectively dig through it for his spiral and pencil. Glad to find it, the taxed duelist glady flipped his notebook open with one hand finding the papers he needed to do his school work. Every second he spent reading over questions and prompts brought him closer and closer to a relaxed state.
Yami stared up at another display, this one a rather massive slab decorated with hieroglyphs and pictures. He ignored Kaiba for now, staring at it in hopes that he could derive some sort of clue, or any kind of information, really. The past was something thousands of years away, but still. His memories, his name always seemed to be on the tip of his tongue.
His mouth parted for a moment.
"Kaiba," Yami called out, as if summoning the CEO. "...Do you believe-"
Something caught Yami attention, off to the left. There was a fluttering of... hair? Fabric? Something. Whatever it was, Yami's attention had been completely captured. The exhibit, as well as Kaiba, had been pushed to the back of his mind. Yami's sharp gaze lingered to where he swore he saw someone move off to. Another student? But...
He started moving. His footsteps started to fade as he moved further from Kaiba, turning the corner past the main displays until he disappeared altogether. Kaiba, however, was writing down a few things for his assignment. He had been electing to ignore Yami at first when the other duelist had started talking to him, but the fact that he had never finished his inquiry suddenly got the CEO's attention. Not a whole lot shut the other youth up.
Kaiba paused in his writing and listened. Other than distant footsteps he was surrounded by a thick silence. Quickly he looked up and glanced around the room. His "partner" had managed to disappear on him. Bristling, the CEO listened carefully for where the footsteps were. Locking in on the sound, the brunet rushed around the corner and down the hall, snatching up his book bag and cramming his notebook back in. He could care less about the Dark Yugi but if a teacher or chaperone came in and found him alone he would get in trouble. In the grand scheme of things he didn't really care what any teacher would have to say, but why get in trouble when he could avoid it? On top of it all he had a clean record. It looked better. All he needed was one teacher having a bad day to bust him disobeying class field trip rules and writing him up.
Back to irritated, the brunet stalked through another archway of the Egyptian exhibit. Maybe it had been intuition or perhaps he had heard something he didn't now recall, but Kaiba had found his dark rival.
Yami glanced back towards Kaiba when he heard him approach, much like last time. The Egyptian section of the exhibit was much larger than it had initially appeared. Yami turned away from Kaiba, glancing about the exhibit. This section was even darker, as photosensitive material was being kept on the premises. The room was so dark, the two barely managed to cast a shadow. Within the room, several open scrolls and documents were on display, many of which showed depictions of several duel monsters.
Yami was silent, though he could hear Yugi speaking to him in his head. 'Did you see it too?'
Kaiba had something angry and witty on the tip of his tongue the second he found Yami but it died the second his eyes truly took in the dim room he had walked into. It was still part of Egyptian exhibit but it had something to do with Duel Monsters. He had always known the Duel Monsters origin, how could he not? But there was a difference between knowing it and seeing an exhibit on it. He hadn't thought the local museum would have an exhibit like this.
There was a dull thudding against his chest, his own heart beat. There was an energy to this room and almost everything he looked at had a familiarity, and not just from the resemblance of some of the carvings to current day cards. Unlike the room before Kaiba didn't find this familiarity near as alarming. It was almost comforting. Then a heavy thick..feeling...crept over his skin and the wonderment was lost and the discomfort began.
Despite his normal sentiments and beliefs he found himself gravitating towards his fellow duelist. Something was crying out to him but he couldn't put his finger on it. Something wasn't right. The CEO tried to shake the feeling. It was the lightning messing with the overall atmosphere of the room. At least that is what he was choosing to try and convince himself of. Before he could feel the effect of his own assurances, the brunet walked up next to Yami. There was barely any room between the two. Less than an inch over and they would be touching.
The displays showed more than anyone could tell, and Yami was in the same boat his rival was. They stood side-by-side, and before where the two would have instantly made a move to put some distance between them, neither of them budged. There was something about the game, about Duel Monsters, about... his past... that connected the two of them together.
That thinly veiled string of fate...
But another feeling was creeping over Yami's shoulder. One he couldn't shake, and it took him a moment before he realized what it was.
"Kaiba." The CEO's name rolled off his tongue in a gentle wave. "...Can you feel it?
"...Someone is watching us."
As Yami spoke Kaiba's eyes narrowed and he looked carefully around the dimly lit exhibit. The CEO gave it as second before he responded to the other duelist, still searching to put his finger on where he was getting this feeling from. "Yes,"he spoke evenly into the eerie stillness, "I feel it too."
Feet in front of them, the glass display for a scroll with the Dark Magician inked upon it shattered into a million pieces. The museum's alarms instantly went off. Yami and Kaiba both stepped back as glass scattered across the floor, sliding around their feet as it dashed across the tile floor. The alarm's ringing increasingly grew louder. Yami winced, hands flying up to his ears to keep the piercing noise out. The destruction didn't stop there. To the right, another glass case imploded on itself, shards trickling down its display. Two more cases followed suit, crushing and spitting out glass shards.. The siren's noise only increased.
Just beside Kaiba, a piece of parchment that showed the Blue-Eyes White Dragon flickered in its case. The two duelists looked to it just in time to see the glass shatter in thousands of sharp slivers. The parchment instantly flew out, shooting past the two and to the ground. Kaiba's arm shot up, guarding his face from the glass that seared past.
The first scroll, the Dark Magician, fell out of its case. The Blue-Eyes parchment landed among the field of glass, easily catching the Dark Magician as it fluttered to the ground, and the two sat there, unmoving.
There was yelling over the alarms. The sound of footsteps from the museum security guards filled their air, though they were drowned out by the screeching wail of the sirens.
Kaiba instinctively stepped between Yami and the noises indicating the incoming security guards. The vaguest hints of panic filtered through his mind as he took in all the destruction. He didn't know how they were going to explain this. "I'm sorry but everything magically exploded and broke" just didn't seem like something that would fly with security.
Then again this was a museum which meant security systems and good ones. At least he hoped that would be the case. Before the security guards burst into the room the taller student noticed a few different cameras right there in the room. At least two of them should have had visual of them both at the the time everything went crazy. So in all this crazy chaos they had one bit of luck. There was no way they could get blamed for it.
The guards that Kaiba guessed had been closest came rushing through the archway they had entered from. Yami's own eyes were trained to the floor, looking around at the destruction that surrounded the two, shoes crunching against the layer of glass that covered the floor, glittering like the Egyptian sands under the beaming sun. There were three guards, and they all seemed to gape, surveying the destruction before the lead turned to Kaiba and Yami, looking as if he was about to tell them off-until, of course, he saw exactly who it was.
"Yugi Mutou!" The guard let out in awe, and Yami's bright eyes lifted from the damage to meet the guard. By then, however, the older man's attention had turned to the taller, more imposing figure who stood in between him and the reigning Duel Monsters champion. "K-Kaiba Seto!" There was always some kind of 'Oh, shit' factor to the CEO's name, and all the guards seemed to stand to attention at his presence.
Seto Kaiba only gave the guards a long cold stares before he tore his eyes away from them and started really looking around at the destruction for the first since time since it all started. A frown darkened his somewhat pale features as he took it all in now that the debris had truly settled. The CEO lingered on the destruction briefly and then turned back to the guards.
With a nod of his head he indicated the security system. "I want a copy of the footage from this sent to me immediately," Kaiba commanded quietly to the security guards. He had no interest in the museum exactly, though some part of him did want to understand what the hell had just happened. No, his true reason for demanding the footage was protection. He didn't need someone twisting this incident against him. With his own copy of the footage he could protect himself. A little security.
The more senior of the security guards, a man that looked to be in his late forties with light thinning hair, seemed to be fighting internally with himself. Indecision plagued his lightly aged features. "That isn't exactly museum policy," the man finally said, barely at regular speech volume. He was fighting to maintain composure in the face of the CEO, and the CEO almost wanted to commend the man's courage. Almost. In the end the man was attempting to stand between him and what he wanted.
After releasing a long breath Kaiba turned from the older gentlemen. "What is your name?" he finally asked as casually as he could, as if he was bored with the whole situation already. Yami caught the faint, threatening tone that Kaiba held to his voice, but he made no move to interrupt, given the situation.
The older gentlemen shifted slightly. Along with Yami, he was smart enough to pick up on the idle threat hidden in Kaiba's innocent sounding question. "I will talk to my supervisor immediately," the lead security guard answered with just a little too much haste. Kaiba smirked. So much for that lion heart.
Quickly the man fled the room after giving brief nods and instruction to his fellow guardsmen, his dignity more or less intact given the fact that he had dared to stand up to a person that never liked to be blocked by anyone no matter the circumstance. What Kaiba wanted he got.
Now under instructions from their more experienced counterpart, the younger two security guards began pacing the room, careful not to disturb the scene. They began by poking around the cases trying to determine if anything was missing. As they began working Kaiba watched at first, though his interest, like with most things, didn't last long. The brunet gave Yami a sidelong glance. Only around this Other Yugi would anything like this happen. Yami returned the look with a sideways glance of his own.
Ready to be done with the whole thing, the taller duelist turned to leave the room. Yami watched him for a moment, remaining in place as the CEO started to head off.
'What do you think happened?' Yugi's voice rang out from inside Yami's head. The darker version of the duelist glanced back, watching as the guards bent down, pointing towards the scrolls that had fallen out from their cases. 'There's no way something like this could have been an accident!'
Yami was thinking along the same lines. He glanced back to where Kaiba was just about to head out of the exhibit, before looking back towards the mess. Among the wreckage, a single display remained untouched: a gorgeous stand of a Pharaoh's double crown. It shimmered in the light created by the dim display beams and the shattered glass. Yami turned slightly to it. For some reason, it...
There was a loud crack; the remaining guards both looked up quickly towards the last display, and Yami's wine-red eyes seemed to be caught on the crown, wide like a deer in headlights. Kaiba, almost clear of the room, whirled around to face the source of the sound, his own icy eyes narrowing as his fight response kicked into high gear. A large, seering crack tore across the front of the glass of the tall display. Kaiba found himself surging forward towards Yugi's literal other half as the display shattered, glass flying through the air. The guards both screamed as glass sliced across their faces and clothing; Yami's arms flew up to shield his face just as Kaiba reached him from behind, the CEO's arm lifting to shield his own.
The crown in the display rattled before clattering to the ground, right before Yami's feet. The small duelist lowered his arms, expression incredulous. He took several steps back, almost colliding with the taller youth.
The crown then mimicked the display.
In one go, a large crack tore across the middle of the crown, before it severed into two clean pieces before the two duelist's eyes. Kaiba's muscles tensed. The crown remained important to him for a fleeting second before he couldn't help but look to Yami. Just as quickly as the concern had appeared it died. He had never cared what happened to his rival. There was no need to start now. Before the shorter youth could notice, Kaiba turned his back to him.
"Yugi!" Anzu's voice shrilled out from somewhere not too far from Kaiba. Trailing behind her were Jou and Honda. The brunette didn't spare Kaiba a second look as she moved past him and towards the duelist who was still staring down at the now ruined double crown, the wailing of guards filling the air along with the alarms. Jou and Honda glanced at Kaiba as they made their way past him, following behind Anzu. "Yugi, are you okay?!"
"Anzu." Yami's voice was nothing to mistake Yugi's for, and Anzu seemed to halt in her tracks just before she reached him. Yami glanced over to Kaiba first, before his gaze returned to his three friends. "...I'm fine."
Anzu nodded a few times, but her expression was still filled with worry. "We heard the sirens go off in the Asian Arts exhibit...! When we heard the guard talking about the alarms in the Egyptian Exhibit..."
Jou walked up next, slamming a hand down on Yami's shoulder. "We knew it was you! But you're okay, so everything's good yeah?"
Yami offered the faintest hint of a smile towards his blond friend. "...Hopefully." But if he had to ask himself, something was oddly suspicious about the whole thing. Jou continued chatting Yami up, but the duelist's gaze long left the brown eyes of his friend and drifted towards Kaiba.
He wanted to see that tape, too.
Slowly Kaiba made his way over to the archway leading into this particular part of the exhibit. More museum staff rushed by and one finally stopped upon seeing a handful of school students still in the no disaster zone. "Please accompany me to the lobby," she stated calmly. Her voice was even and soothing but Kaiba could see by the amount of stress she was under that the staff member was more than a little anxious.
Any normal person probably would have acknowledged her and then followed. Instead, Kaiba stepped around her like someone had thrown an obstacle to be dodged in his way. The woman started slightly and side stepped to try and clear the way, though she wasn't fast enough.
Once at the door the dark eyed CEO looked back over his shoulder at his field trip partner. "If you're done gawking I would like to get back to our classmates. If I show up without you I'll get an earful from the teachers. I have enough of a headache for one day so please just spare me the hassle and come along," the taller partner seemingly requested. The CEO might have said 'please' but his tone betrayed him. It was one of power, irritation, and a little exhaustion. In the end, his tone accompanied by his body language told the others who were paying attention that his request was a demand. He didn't want to be kept waiting.
The museum attendant simply stood there part way between Kaiba and the small group of friends, intimidation showing strongly in her stance and facial features. Her pink-colored lips parted briefly as if she were about to speak before she closed her mouth and looked hesitantly at Kaiba. As far as she could tell she didn't exist in the eyes of this young man and nothing she said would reach his ears. In the end she could only stand by like some statue on display in the mesum.
Yami's eyes narrowed, and when he spoke his strong voice rang out around the exhibit.
"You can wait, Kaiba," Yami instantly rebutted, and the duelist turned his back to him, effectively letting the CEO know without words that anything else he said from this point on would fall on deaf ears.
The brunet's lips thinned, his eyes darkened, and his brows furrowed ever so slightly in anger. Anzu looked fretfully between Yami, the lady attendant, and Kaiba, unsure of what to do or what would ignite from Yami's dismissive comment.
...Maybe if Kaiba had added that 'please' in earnest he wouldn't have been met with such contempt.
"Ah, if you could..." The female staff member tried again, but Jou already began to talk over her, looking around and surveying the damage of the area. Honda accompanied him, looking around. Of course, they didn't have much to worry about as they were always getting into trouble anyway. Anzu remained firmly planted beside Yami. Yami, on the other hand, bent down to take a closer look at the crown, though he didn't touch it.
There was silence, the alarms having finally been turned off just a few moments before.
'Yami,' Yugi's voice spoke out. 'Lets get out of here.'
"...Hm..." Yami didn't really respond. However, he did finally stand. A part of him wanted to see if he noticed anything about how the crown had split in half. He felt some kind of strange presence but it seemed to have vanished. Another part of him was just defiant and wanted to cause Kaiba some grief. He never said he wasn't a little petty when it came to his rival. He looked towards Anzu, who was looking down at the crown as well, and the taller girl tilted her head to him as he spoke. "Lets go." he looked out towards the exhibit floor. "Jou. Honda."
"Right away, Yug!" Normally Jou would have switched over to Yami's name by now, but during school hours and around so many unfamiliar people, it probably wasn't the best idea. Yami nodded his head, before heading towards the archway, and Kaiba. His wine-red eyes glanced up towards the much taller male with a hint of a smirk, but he said nothing. Kaiba's icy eyes widened as he made eye contact with Yugi's darker half. He did not tend to make eye contact with the other young man, and whenever it happened it left him more than just a little surprised or off balanced.
Before the other duelist could see what effect he had on him, Kaiba turned abruptly and fled the room in a way that most people would not recognize as a retreat. He cleared the archway after only a handful of steps and disappeared from sight, the gentle sounds of his footfalls drowned out by the many others that filled this section of the museum.
Thank you for reading Chapter One: Warning Signs.
This is our very first collaborative story together.
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The Priest and His Pharaoh