HEY what's up welcome to all my Gay Atem headcanons, and my insatiable love for fic that actually explores the characters' lgbt identities instead of just "i ship it therefore they're gay"
also a lot of Atem's struggles in this fic were drawn from my own personal experience. not the being an ancient pharaoh part, but the being gay and struggling with internalized homophobia part
i dont own yugioh etc. are these disclaimer things even necessary anymore
"Oh, I forgot to mention," says Yuugi sleepily, "but I heard Anzu and Jounouchi talking today. Apparently she still likes you - Jounouchi was encouraging her to go ask you out."
"Mm," says Atem into Yuugi's shoulder.
"We probably should tell everyone," says Yuugi. "About us. Anzu sounded a lot more hesitant than Jounouchi, but she still seemed to think she might have a chance..."
Atem frowns. "Really? I thought she knew that -" He fumbles. "That I, that I'm -"
"That you're gay?" asks Yuugi quietly.
"Yeah," says Atem. "That." His arms draw in closer around Yuugi's waist. "It's still hard to put into words."
Yuugi traces one hand over his arm. "I know," he murmurs, then - "Was it hard for you, before?"
"You mean in Kemet?" Atem stirs, lifts his head from the pillow slightly then falls back again. "Yes." Just that single word.
"How did people feel about it?" asks Yuugi. "I mean, gay stuff?"
"Not very good," says Atem grimly. "There was nothing wrong with being with a man if there was no other option - if there were no girls around, like among soldiers. But actively preferring men over women was... shameful. It was wrong."
Yuugi's hand finds his and squeezes it. Atem squeezes back.
"There was no concept that someone might be - be inherently predisposed, like this culture has today. But there was a word for someone who had desires towards men... ḥmtj... It came from the word for coward, or weak."
Atem reaches up with the hand that isn't holding Yuugi's and wipes at his eyes with the heel of his palm.
"I was a prince," he says. "I was going to be the pharaoh of all Upper and Lower Kemet. I could not - be like that. It would be shameful -"
Yuugi is squeezing his hand so tightly the knuckles are going white. Atem stops and takes a deep breath and says quietly, "It was very stressful for me."
"I'm so sorry," says Yuugi softly.
"Don't be," says Atem absently.
"I still am. That must have been awful."
"Siamun asked me what was wrong several times," Atem recalls. "He was very worried that a growing young man like myself wasn't taking a healthy interest in all the girls at my disposal. It was a good thing no one made the leap from me not liking girls to, to liking boys - like I said, that connection didn't really exist back then... And I really was trying to, I made myself look at girls and force myself to try to, ah, appreciate them, and think about them, and be attracted to them, but none of it worked. And I tried so hard - " He breaks off.
Yuugi kisses Atem's knuckles, one by one, and Atem rests his forehead on the nape of Yuugi's neck. For a while they lie there in the dark room, in heavy silence amidst the memories.
Then Atem says, his voice more even, "There was this one boy -"
"One of the servants at the palace. He was one of the ones who brought food to the table, and I noticed him... staring at me, a lot. It... gave me a kind of nervous thrill, you know? But I wanted to make sure it wasn't just wishful thinking, because it very well could have been."
"So what did you do?" asks Yuugi quietly, after a significant pause on Atem's part.
"You're going to love this one," says Atem, his voice low and humorous. "I took a piece of bread that was particularly long and thin -"
"Oh my god -"
"- and I made direct eye contact and ate it as suggestively as I could."
Yuugi bursts into laughter.
"Which wasn't very much, since I was a little panicked and had no idea what I was doing, but I guess it had an effect. He almost dropped the plate he was holding."
Yuugi is shaking with silent giggles at this point. "I can't believe it," he gasps. "I would have paid to see that."
Atem smacks him lightly on the arm. "I'd like to see you do better. Anyway, after dinner I called him to my private chambers -"
"I know you're doing something with your eyebrows, even if I can't see your face, please stop it. When he arrived he knelt in front of me, asked what his great Pharaoh wanted of him, the usual formalities. So I ordered all my guards and attendants to turn their backs and plug their ears, and then - my hands were all sweaty - I told him to stand up and then I kissed him."
There's a moment of heavy silence.
"Just kissing?" asks Yuugi innocently, then, "Hey!" - after a pinch on the leg from Atem. "Look, it was a fair question."
"Pervert," says Atem gently. "No, it was just kissing. Very clumsy too, since neither of us knew what we were doing, but we were both pretty enthusiastic." He stops and considers. "All right, and there may have been a few wandering hands."
"He had a very nicely defined rear."
"Well - yes. And then I made a noise. It was louder than I expected -"
"Well, you are pretty loud."
"All right, I'll admit that. So I was worried the attendants would hear, even with their ears plugged, and even if they did have strict orders of secrecy. But I was so nervous and excited that I sort of panicked, and I basically told him, 'Thanks, that was nice, now leave.' And... I didn't say it outright, but he knew there would be severe consequences if he told anyone what had just happened."
Yuugi sucks in a breath. "Harsh."
"Not my finest moment," says Atem bitterly. After a moment's reflection he adds, "And I think I'd gotten his hopes up, inviting him to my room like that, especially with the display at dinner. But I didn't know what else to do. And after he left I just sat down on the bed and stayed like that for maybe half an hour."
Yuugi gives his hand another gentle squeeze.
"It was so..." Atem exhales. "Remember when we first kissed?"
"Of course I do," says Yuugi, a little breathlessly.
"It felt about as overwhelming as that. More, even. There was a lot less of the certainty and the being in love, and a lot more confusion and fear and excitement and... I didn't know what to feel or think. It felt sort of like I'd just discovered some huge and important secret that was too much for one person to hold. I think my hands were shaking."
"Oh," says Yuugi, soft and pained, and takes one of those hands and kisses Atem's palm.
"I've never told anyone else this." Atem's voice is very quiet.
"Thank you," says Yuugi.
Atem rests his chin on Yuugi's shoulder. "Thank you." After a while he says, "When I was, when I was you, so to speak... I didn't remember anything. I couldn't have known what I'd been through before the Puzzle. But seeing inside your head, that you were bi, and that you were okay with it... and knowing that this was something, something other people had..."
He's struggling to find the words. Yuugi's grip on his hand is tight and warm.
"...I couldn't have known why at the time, but some part of me felt so... relieved. Like deep down, everything finally made sense."
Yuugi lets out a long slow exhale, then says, "If I weren't the little spoon, I would kiss you so hard right now."
"Oh," says Atem.
Yuugi laughs a little, and it vibrates between them. "You're making that wide-eyed surprised face, aren't you."
"Stop being so surprised that I love you," Yuugi mumbles. "You'd better get used to it. It's not going away." Then, "Other me, you're squeezing the breath out of me."
"You calling me that doesn't help." Atem is a little breathless himself.
"You big sap," says Yuugi, amused and affectionate.
"You're one to talk," says Atem, and then kisses Yuugi's neck, making him giggle and then sigh happily.
Then Atem says, soft against Yuugi's skin, "How did you find out?"
Yuugi quiets. "You mean, that I was bi?"
"Honestly?" says Yuugi, and then exhales resignedly. "Jounouchi's porn tapes."
"Wh -" Atem has to stifle a laugh. "Really, partner?"
Yuugi gives a shrug and says, "I couldn't help it. They were right there, I mean the people on the screen, and once I realized I was looking at the guys just as much as the girls I thought, Well, that settles it."
"That sounds like it was so easy." Atem sounds pained.
"I was lucky," says Yuugi, and once again takes Atem's hand, rubbing soft circles with his thumb.
Then he says, "Also, Jounouchi and I kissed once."
"It was kind of spur-of-the-moment, but yes. I think he saw it as just an experiment that still let him be straight." Yuugi wiggles into a more comfortable position within Atem's arms. "Although, honestly, I have my doubts about that."
"Oh," says Atem.
"Maybe we can, um, sort of nudge him." There's an edge of laughter in Yuugi's voice. "Help him to discover himself -"
"We can start by telling him I'm -" begins Atem, then his voice muffles into Yuugi's shoulder.
"Gay," Yuugi finishes for him, gently. "You don't have to say it if you don't want to."
"Thanks," says Atem, and exhales. "I think I just need time to get used to it." Then after a pause, "But I'm still telling him that I'm not going out with Anzu. Or any girl -"
"Or anyone except you."
Yuugi gives a delighted little smile. "Wow," he says happily, then, "Hey, that was actually smooth."
"What? I was telling the truth." After a moment's reflection, he adds, "And we really do need to tell everyone about us."
"And how we're together." Atem sounds reverent. "You know, five years ago - or, well, three thousand five years ago I guess - I'd never have pictured myself like this. It didn't - it wouldn't have been -" He stumbles, trying to find the words.
"I know," says Yuugi quietly.
"I'm glad I met you," says Atem, and his eyes drift shut. "I'm so glad it turned out this way."
"Me, too," says Yuugi, and tucks himself a little further into Atem's arms. "I love you too."
I know I say it a lot, but I would really appreciate reviews! And the more detailed the better! (No pressure of course; if you can really only leave a short review then don't feel forced to come up with more stuff) if you liked this fic then tell your friends too maybe
I'd especially appreciate feedback on the pacing (since to some parts felt a bit rushed or too suddenly switching tone) and characterization (since i am perpetually Winging It when it comes to these too)
have a nice day and please review!