Christmas Hope

The chilly wind whistled softly, whipping a young boy's blond bangs around his face. Slightly cold, he brought the jacket he was wearing closer to his neck. As he walked, the snow crunched underneath his feet. Gently flakes of white fell from the heavens, catching a ride on his clothes as he continued home.

Opening the door of the Turtle Game Shop, Yugi gladly accepted the warmth his home had to offer. Taking off the hat covering his hair, he shook off any remaining snowflakes. Dropping his school bag on the ground, he removed his jackets and boots, proceeding into the kitchen.

Rubbing his hands together, Yugi decided to fix himself some hot coco. Opening the pantry, he reached up for the mix, which was just slightly out of his grasp. Slightly frustrated, he stood on his toes, trying to pull it down with the tips of his fingers. He didn't realize the lid wasn't on all the way, until he succeeded in almost knocking it down.

He turned his head away, closing his eyes, expecting to feel himself covered in coco powder. When he didn't, he looked up, seeing that a hand had caught the container before it tipped on it's side completely. He looked next to him.

"Yami!" he said, slightly surprised.

The spirit pulled the container down, handing it to the young boy. Though the dark spirit still wore the black tank top, a black leather jacket covered it. Black jeans had replaced the blue pants, Yugi noticed as Yami slipped his hands in his pockets.

"What are you doing, Yugi?" he asked.

"Making hot chocolate. It's cold outside."

Yami followed the child towards the fridge. "So I've noticed."

"You want some, Yami?"

Though the spirit of the puzzle didn't normal have to consume any form of food or liquid, his acceptance of such seemed to give the young boy some sort of strange relief. Did Yugi worry about him not eating or drinking anything, thinking it might affect his health? Even if he had told him numerous amounts of times?

"Yami?"

"Sure, Yugi. I'll have some."

He noted the fairly pleased smile on the boy's lips, pulling out an extra cup for him. It amused Yami slightly to see Yugi getting so worked up on the fact that he hardly ate anything. It was kind of cute.

A faint tune was picked up by Yami's sensitive hearing, as he noted that Yugi was humming some sort of jingle. Under normal circumstances, he would be able to guess what tune it was because the boy usually hummed the same ones. However, this melody was foreign to the spirit's ears, enough so that he decided to question.

"Yugi, what are you humming?"

"Just a little Christmas carol."

"A what?"

"Christmas carol." The small boy paused in his actions to face his duplicate. "You know what Christmas is, right?"

Yami blinked in slight puzzlement.

"You don't?" Yugi asked, slightly surprised.

"I don't think I've ever heard of it."

He almost dropped the cup he was holding. "You haven't? It's only one of the most popular holidays of the year."

"What's so special about it?"

Yugi poured a lot of the chocolate in the steaming water, then going to the fridge, he pulled out a can of whipped cream. "Well, Christmas is a time of joy and family. Families get together and celebrate with each other, giving gifts to each other and just spending time with one another."

Yami couldn't help but notice the sad glint in Yugi's plum orbs as he talked about this holiday.

"Everyone loves this season, since they can go and see their families, sometimes after such a long time, and they can just relax and have fun."

"Sounds like quite a holiday," Yami commented.

Yugi nodded. "It's coming up in a couple of weeks. That's why you see people starting to buy Christmas trees, and start putting lights up, and stuff."

"Is that what all that fuss is about?"

The boy nodded again "They're decorating. Plus, The malls are going to be packed because people will be buying presents."

"I see."

"It's a nice holiday, really."

But Yami wasn't sure what to think when he saw the despair in the young boy's eyes. If Christmas was supposed to be a season of joy, why did it seem as if Yugi was becoming more disheartened as it drew closer?


Yugi stared out the window, watching as the snowflakes fell gently to the ground. He heard the sounds of his classmates mingle with the melody of the Christmas music behind him. When the day was over, Christmas vacation would begin, and they would all be free from school for a few weeks.

Many people were talking about what they would be doing over the vacation. As the young boy had discovered, most would be going out of town to visit family for Christmas.

Family. There was a term that was to be taken lightly. It was always around this time. Christmas. The season of joy and giving. The season when. . . . . 'No,' he thought, shaking his head slightly. 'I promised myself I wouldn't think about that this year. It was supposed to be different this year. But. . . . . .' He glanced over at his friends, talking and laughing. 'They're all going away for Christmas this year, too. Jounouchi's gonna visit his sister, and Honda, Anzu, and Bakura are going with their parents out of town for Christmas.'

"Hey, Yugi!" Jounouchi called, shaking the young boy out of his thoughts.

"Yeah, Jou?"

"What are you doing there all by yourself? Come here. These are the last few hours of school, ya know?"

Yugi went over to join his friends. "Didn't we agree to meet before you all went away?"

"Well, yeah," Honda said. "But as Jou said, these are the last few hours of school, and then we'll be free for a few weeks. So we should spend as much time as we can here before we get out."

Anzu rolled her eyes. "Aren't they something?" she said sarcastically.

"Oh, they're something alright," Bakura replied. "It's what they are, we don't know."

Jounouchi and Honda stuck their tongues at the two, who responded by sticking their tongues out right back at them.

Yugi couldn't help but laugh. "Come on, you guys. That's not exactly the Christmas spirit, is it?"

"Oh, we're just kidding," Honda said. "Right, Jou?"

"Of course we are," the sandy-haired teen replied.

"Well, sure they are," Anzu said, "but that doesn't mean Bakura and I are."

Yugi laughed again as Jounouchi and Honda nearly fell over. "Come on, you guys," the small boy replied.

"Oh, of course we're only joking around," Bakura said.

"You better be," Jounouchi commented.

The young boy's attention turned back to the window, the snowflakes gently falling towards the earth, softly thrown at an angle by the wind. Unaware of his feet moving on his own, he walked towards the window, peering down at the road below. Right across the street, a man got into a taxi, and it began to drive away. 'A day just like this,' Yugi thought, 'all those years ago. . . . .a day just like this. . . . .'

Yugi?

He was startled by the slightly deeper voice of his counterpart. 'Yeah, Yami?' he replied.

What are you talking about?

'What?'

What about a day like today? What's wrong?

The young boy cursed himself slightly for forgetting that the link between him and Yami was still open. 'It's nothing, Yami.'

Are you sure?

'Yeah, it's fine. I'm fine, Yami.'

And yet Yami found he had a hard time believing his young light.


Sighing loudly, Yugi dropped his bag on the ground, flopping on the couch. School was finally out for the semester, and everyone was grateful for the break for the holidays. Grabbing the remote from its hiding place under the cushions, the young boy flipped on the TV, watching whatever Christmas special was on.

There was a loud 'thwack', and, propping up on his elbows, Yugi caught sight of his grandfather's hair, covered by a large box that he was carrying.

"Grandpa, what are you doing?" he asked.

"Just getting the store ready."

"Ready? For what?"

"I have to clean the shop before I leave for the conference."

Yugi smacked himself on the forehead. "That's right, you're going to the conference in America this week."

"That's right."

"Do you need some help, Grandpa?"

"No, I'm almost done, anyway. Don't worry about it."

"Are you sure?"

Sugoroku nodded before walking away. Yugi settled back on the couch, watching the program on TV. He ignored the familiar shine from his Millennium Item, and the couch sagging from the added weight.

"Yugi?" Yami said.

"Yeah?"

"Why exactly is Grandfather going to the conference this week?"

"You know about that, Yami. We've known about it for a month."

"Yes, but didn't you tell me that people usually take a vacation during this season?"

Yugi pulled his eyes away from the television, his violet eyes meeting with the spirit's. "Well, yeah, usually, but Grandpa has planned this conference for a while. He's being paid extra to go during the Christmas season."

"Doesn't Grandfather usually turn down offers like that?"

"Yeah, but business has been down lately, and he said that we need that money if we're gonna support ourselves."

"How long will he be away?"

Yugi flipped to a new channel, which, evidently, was also showing another Christmas special (A/N I just hate when they do that, don't you? When they're showing a Christmas specials on every single channel). "I dunno. Sometime in January, I think."

"Isn't that after Christmas?"

"Yeah."

"Doesn't that mean he'll miss Christmas with us?"

Yugi flipped to a new channel. "I guess so."

"Hmm. . . ." 'That's strange,' Yami thought. 'Yugi doesn't seem to be upset by this at all. Then again, he sees to be blocking something from me. I wonder what that could be.'

He glanced over at his counterpart once again, noting the listless way he watched the TV, the glow from the screen dancing across his features. 'He doesn't seem too happy about the fact that Christmas is coming, either. I wonder what's wrong.'


Shifting the box in his hands, Yami was thankful when he finally was able to place it in the trunk of the taxi. Pushing down so it would fit, he wiped the sweat off his brow with the sleeve of his sweater. Even though it was cold, and snowing, carrying something that heavy required much of his strength, especially for one with such a lean frame as he.

Closing the trunk, he then walked over to Sugoroku. "Is that everything, Grandfather?" he asked.

"I believe so," the old man replied, slipping his wallet into his pocket. "If everything goes well at the conference, I should be back in the beginning of January." He looked up at the boy. "Where's Yugi?"

The spirit looked up at a certain window of the Turtle Game shop. "In his room, I believe," he replied. "He hasn't really come out of there save the times he goes to eat or talk to his friends on the phone."

"Yes. Christmas is coming soon, and this time of year always brings him down."

"I've noticed that." Yami looked at the older man. "Why is that? Yugi told me that Christmas is a time of great joy, and spending time with the ones that you care about. But from what I've seen, the closer Christmas gets, the more depressed he seems to become."

"This time of year reminds him of a sad event in his life, that's all."

"What sad event would that be?"

Sugoroku sighed slightly, pulling his coat closer to him. "It happened when Yugi was very young. It was almost Christmas time, and Yugi, like any child, was very excited about it."

"So what happened?"

"Well, just a few days before Christmas, when Yugi and I were coming back from the mall. When we returned, we saw Yugi's father with a bunch of suitcases."

"Yugi's father?"

"Yes. He bade his goodbye to Yugi and me, promising to be back as soon as he could, and got into a taxi, and left. We haven't heard from him since."

Yami looked down at the ground. "That is terrible."

"Yes, and Yugi still hasn't let it rest. Every year, around this time, I still catch Yugi looking at the window, as if he is still holding onto his father's promise that he will return."

"No wonder poor Yugi is so sad."

"Yes. Ever since that day, Christmas was just me and Yugi."

"Wasn't there anyone else you two could have spent it with?"

Sugoroku shook his head. "We have no other family," the old man replied. "This year was going to be the first year Yugi would have spent Christmas with friends, but they're also going out of town for their vacation."

"I see."

"It's worse now, since I have must go to the convention this year. You're the only one Yugi has this year to spend Christmas with."

"And it doesn't help that I have no idea how to spend Christmas," the spirit sighed.

The old man smiled kindly. "Don't worry about it. I'm sure you'll get it."

The horn of the taxi blared as the cab driver was beginning to get impatient.

"I better get going," Sugoroku said. Checking his watch, he added, "If I don't, I'm going to be late for my flight."

"All right. Have a safe trip, Grandfather."

He was about to leave, when he suddenly remembered something. "Oh, Yami?"

"Yes, Grandfather?"

"I left Yugi's Christmas present in the broom closet. Could you give it to him on Christmas day?"

"Um. . . . . of course. . . . ."

"Christmas is on the 25th of this month, Yami."

"Oh, right."

The familiar chime of the bell sounded as the door flew open, and Yugi suddenly appeared. He ran up to his grandfather and jumped into his arms.

Sugoroku smiled, holding his grandson close, before pulling away to meet the boy's violet orbs. "Now you be good while I'm gone," he said.

"Of course, Grandpa," came Yugi's reply. "Come back as soon as you can, okay?"

"Right." He ruffled the boy's unruly hair, before getting biding him and the dark spirit farewell. He got into the taxi, and it began to drive down the street.

A small breeze pushed strands of his golden bangs in front of his eyes, as Yugi watched the taxi disappear into the street traffic. Tears stung at his eyes as he tried to blink them back, reliving that one fateful day. A shiver ran down his spine as he remembered that one Christmas season, only a few years ago.

Yami noticed as the small boy shuddered, wrapping his arms around himself. Placing a hand on Yugi's shoulder, he said, "Let's go inside. I'm sure what you're wearing isn't very warm. We don't want you getting sick."

Yugi chuckled slightly, looking down at his tank-top and shorts. Yami was right. In this winter day, what he was wearing wasn't very warm at all.

"Yeah," he replied, "let's go back inside."


Yami walked down the familiar street, the backpack he had slung over his shoulder casually. Walking down the busy streets, the wind blowing white flakes into his face.

As he approached the video arcade where Yugi was supposed to meet his friends, the spirit noticed a strange sight before him. Anzu and Honda seemed to look uncomfortable, yet Jounouchi and Bakura had sly smiles on their faces. As he approached, he was surprised when Anzu leaned over and placed a small kiss on Honda's cheek.

He stopped behind Jounouchi and Bakura. "Did I miss something?" he asked.

Surprised, Anzu pushed Honda away from her, and he fell and hit the ground. Bakura and Jounouchi started laughing.

"Oh, yeah," Jounouchi said, trying to catch his breath. "You missed a lot."

Honda and Anzu refused to look at each other, as they walked inside the arcade.

"Why did they do that?" Yami questioned.

"Anzu and Honda were standing under the doorway, waiting for the rest of us," Bakura explained. "When Jounouchi and I came, though, we noticed that they were standing under the mistletoe." The snow-haired boy pointed to the small plant hanging above the doorway.

Yami looked at it. "Mistletoe?"

"It's a tradition," Bakura continued, "to hang mistletoe above doorways and such. It's also a tradition that if two people are standing under the mistletoe, they have to kiss."

"Since they were standing under the mistletoe together, we made them kiss," Jounouchi finished, the sly smile still on his face.

Jounouchi then walked inside, Bakura making sure to walk behind Jounouchi, as to avoid the "mistletoe traditions." Yami, glancing up at the mistletoe one more time, walked in after Bakura.

The three approached the table Honda and Anzu, who still refused to look at each other, their still faces red with embarrassment.

That's when Anzu noticed Yami. "Hey, Yami," she said.

He simply nodded a greeting to her. The others also greeted the spirit of the puzzle, and they received the same reply.

"Hey, Yami?" Jounouchi said. "Not that it's a bad thing, but what are you doing here? And where's Yugi?"

"Yugi had suddenly taken ill last night," Yami replied. "He could barely get out of bed, so he asked me to come down here for him."

"He got sick?" Bakura asked.

"That's terrible," Anzu said.

"Poor guy," Honda agreed.

"Wow," Jounouchi said. "That's too bad. I was hoping to see him before going over and visiting my mom and sister. I even brought the gift I was going to give him for Christmas, so he could have it before I go." The blond boy pulled out a wrapped package from his coat.

"Me, too," Anzu said, pulling one out of her bag.

"So did I," Honda added, also taking his out.

"I think we all did," Bakura commented. He too pulled out a wrapped gift.

Yami nodded, removing the bag from his shoulder. "Yugi also asked me to bring these gifts that he got for all of you. He wanted you to have them before you all go." Opening the pack, he removed four gifts, each labeled with a name written in black marker. He gave each package to its respectful owner, as they gave him the gifts for Yugi.

"So what happened?" Anzu asked. "I mean, how come Yugi got sick overnight?"

"He was feeling a little depressed last night," Yami explained, taking a seat next to Jounouchi. "Grandfather left for a conference in America yesterday, and won't be back until January at the earliest. That, and he wasn't dressed adequately enough for the cold temperature."

"Yugi's grandfather went to a conference?" Bakura asked. "So close to Christmas?"

"No wonder Yugi's so down," Honda remarked.

The spirit nodded. "I also found out the Yugi always feels this way around this time of the year, because his father left him and his grandfather a few years ago around Christmas. This season usually reminds him of that and brings him down a bit."

"Man," Jounouchi said. "I had no idea. I wish there was something we could do to cheer him up."

Yami smiled. "I know. I wish there was a way to cheer him up. So, I was planning this little surprise for Yugi. But I'll need your help."

"What do you need us to do?" Anzu asked.

"Well. . ."


It was a quiet Christmas Eve at the Turtle Game Shop, except for the television playing another Christmas special. Yugi and Yami both sat quietly on the couch, the spirit the only one actually watching what was being aired.

The elder glanced at his young charge, noticing the distant gaze in his violet eyes, as he looked at the screen of the TV, but wasn't really seeing it.

Suddenly, the young boy sighed softly, standing up. "I'm going to bed," he said quietly.

"All right," Yami said. "Goodnight, Yugi."

"Are you going to stay up?"

"Maybe just a little longer."

"All right. Goodnight, Yami." The dark spirit watched as the child walked away, ascending the staircase, until he was out of his line of vision. He heard a door open, then close, as Yugi shut himself in his room.

With Yugi in bed, Yami could now get started on his surprise for Yugi. Getting up, he walked over to the closet where the things were kept hidden from the boy.


Dream

The small child watched as his father got into the taxi, and it drove down the street. He ignored the snow falling around him, tears streaming down his cheeks. "Why daddy?" he asked the lonely air. "Why did you leave? It's not fair."

He sat on the cold ground, his small body racking with sobs. He suddenly felt a warm hand on his shoulder, and he turned his head to see someone standing behind him.

The boy stood, suddenly older than he was mere seconds ago. "Yami?" he asked.

The spirit of the puzzle smiled. "It's all right, Yugi," he said. "Everything is all right."

"How can you say that?" Yugi asked. "My dad left me so close to the day that families are supposed to be together. Why would he just leave like that? What did I do to make him leave?"

"Yugi, whatever reason Father left has nothing to do with you."

Violet met crimson as the young boy looked up. The spirit's smile deepened, his arms encircling around the smaller boy.

Though surprised, Yugi heard Yami whisper, "As you told me, Christmas is a time of joy and celebrating it with the people you love. You shouldn't dwell on sad memories of people who aren't around. Instead, you should be thankful for the people that you have with you now. Just as I am."

End Dream

Yugi's eyes opened, as he slowly sat up in bed. Rubbing his eyes, he looked over at the Millennium Puzzle, hanging next to his bed. Reaching out to pick it up, he was slightly surprised that he didn't feel the spirit's presence within the artifact. However, he could sense the spirit was SOMEWHERE in the game shop. Securing the puzzle around his neck, he opened his bedroom door, and proceeded down the steps.

A fresh aroma took hold of him as he entered the kitchen. He wondered what smelled so nicely, but shrugged it off, still trying to find the spirit. As he entered the den, he froze in his tracks.

The entire room was decorated with things, brightening the room with shades of red and green. At the fireplace, though the fire was nothing more than ashes, two stockings were hanging there. There was also a Christmas tree, decorated with ornaments, colored lights, and even a star on the top. Underneath the tree were some presents. Even though it wasn't many, they were all for him.

A quiet snore brought Yugi's attention behind the tree. Peeking around, he saw Yami sitting in one of the chairs, sleeping. Though he wore a black sweater and jeans, a red Santa hat covered his hair. On the table next to him lay a mug, halfway filled with now cold coco.

Yugi smiled, moving towards the spirit. Sitting down in the chair next to him, the small boy snuggled up against Yami in a gentle embrace.

The sudden movement jarred Yami out of his sleep, and he looked down as Yugi looked up. "Good morning," Yugi said.

"Good morning," the spirit replied. "Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas to you, too."

Yami's eyes shifted, as he gazed around the den. "I see you've discovered your surprise."

"Yup. You did all of this?"

Yami nodded. "Took me all night, too."

"Thank you. But, really, Yami, you didn't have to."

Shifting underneath the boy, Yami somehow managed to get up, stretching his arms and legs. "I know. But I wanted to do something to cheer you up, and I thought that, since the game shop was rather. . . .dull. . . . I decided to decorate a bit."

Yugi smiled, a genuine smile that had been absent from his features for the past few weeks. "Thank you."

Yami smiled too, but then looked down, somewhat embarrassed. "However, while I was getting everything together for this, I wasn't able to get you a gift."

"But Yami, you already gave me a gift."

"I did?"

The boy nodded. "Gifts don't have to be wrapped, Yami. What you did for me is a great gift. You did it because you wanted me to be happy, and because you care for me. That's what makes it great."

Yami then smiled, nodding, as he ruffled the younger boy's hair.

"Oh, wait," Yugi said, jumping off the chair. "I'll be right back." He ran out of the room, and the spirit heard his feet pound up the stairs, as he ran towards his room, then back down again. He returned, holding a green-wrapped gift, wrapped with a bright red bow.

Yami was surprised when Yugi placed the package in his hands. "Merry Christmas," Yugi said happily. "It's not as nice what you gave me, but I thought it was cool."

"Yugi, you didn't have to get me anything."

"I know I didn't. But I thought that, since this was your first Christmas, you deserved something." His smile widened. "Well, go ahead. Open it."

Carefully, Yami slipped the red ribbon off the package. Removing the top, he blinked, pulling out the large snow globe. He titled his head in slight wonder.

"It's a snow globe," Yugi said. "If you shake it, it's like snow is falling. Plus, if you wind the key on the bottom, it plays music."

Flipping the item upside down, Yami turned the key all the way. Flipping it back up, he watched the "snow" fall around the lone bear walking down the path to the tune of "Winter Wonderland."

"Thank you, Yugi." Placing it on the table next to him, he got up and said, "Why don't we get something to eat? I cooked a lot of food for today."

"I thought I smelled something good. I didn't know you could cook."

Yami chuckled. "I didn't either. I'm just glad it turned out alright."

Yugi laughed, walking towards the kitchen. He stopped, though, when he noticed that Yami wasn't following him. Turning around, the young boy asked, "Aren't you coming?"

"You're going to have to go first, Yugi."

"Why?"

The spirit pointed to the small plant hanging above the doorway leading towards the kitchen. "I hung some mistletoe around the house."


Yami smiled, placing the item on the lone table in his soul room. He then heard the sound of his young light calling out to him, asking him to come out so they could spend time during this Christmas day. Always obliging, he closed his eyes as he focused, and he suddenly disappeared, joining his light.

In the middle of the nearly empty room, under the only source of light, stood a lone table. On the table, lying next to the bright red Santa hat, sat the snow globe, the glittering snow falling around the bear inside, the tune of "Winter Wonderland" echoing in the chamber.

The End