Set after Duelist Kingdom but not before Battle City.
Comments are always welcome.
Words That We Couldn't Say
By, Nicole Silverwolf
"Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall."
"Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one."
-Jane Howard 'Families'
The quiet teenager was startled from his contemplation of the finer weave of the tablecloth at the sound of his grandfather's voice.
"Is something the matter Yugi? You haven't touched your dinner." There was a deep concern in the elderly man's tone, soft and worried but not pushing.
"I thought you loved hamburgers."
Wide violet eyes grew even wider, as if Yugi hadn't noticed up to that point what was on his plate. Indeed, in the center of the dish was his favorite food, a home cooked hamburger exactly how he liked it. There were even French fries and soda, both rarely found foods in his house.
His mom and grandfather were both health conscious and junk food was a treat rather than normality.
Yugi realized he hadn't spoken an answer yet and that the look his grandfather was giving him was getting more concerned by the second. He hastily scrambled to answer, upset that the older man was even worried at all. There was almost a desperate tinge to his voice when he spoke.
"No! No Grandpa...I love hamburgers, I really do...it's just...I'm just...not hungry that's all."
He lowered his head before mumbling into his lap. "You're still recovering Grandpa...you shouldn't be doing lots of extra work. You should be resting."
If Mutou Sugoroku didn't know better, it was probably the most miserable he had ever heard his grandson. His voice was wracked with guilt, quiet and remorseful to the point of being painful. What was the matter?
"Yugi," he waited until the child lifted his eyes a little, not to his face for the child wouldn't, "I wanted to do something special for you because you won the tournament and because your mother and I are very proud of you. It's because of you that I'm here at all!"
At this his daughter shot him a heavily questioning glance, wondering what in the seven continents he was talking about. Sugoroku ignored her as he watched the boy critically. The last sentence seemed to hit a nerve and the boy trembled finely before fractionally curling in on himself.
A painfully awkward silence ensued after that statement, only the ticking of the wall clock and the occasional rush of a car passing the shop could be heard.
"May I be excused please? I'm finished with dinner."
Yugi was again fascinated with his lap. And hadn't eaten a bite of his meal.
Strong, but elderly violet worriedly eyed the plate and the very uncomfortable young man contemplating his wringing hands.
"Alright Yugi. We'll leave your plate in the fridge. You can eat it later if you're hungry okay?"
"Thanks mom." And with no more than that he slid out of his seat and darted up the stairs to presumably his room.
The two adults were left at the table more upset than before. "What was that all about?"
"I don't know dear. We'll leave him alone for now though...I have an inkling of what this might be about. I'll talk to him a little later when he's calmed down." Sugoroku replied and picked up his fork to eat. Honestly he made little progress on the meal from that point on.
Maxwell received a rather large sprinkling of hamburger with his traditional dog food that evening.
After the dishes were done, and the kitchen clean for the evening, Sugoroku found himself slowly climbing the stairs to the second floor and the bedroom his only grandson resided in. The large Rottweiler slowly matched his pace up the stairs, providing his own form of moral support.
Yugi's room was atypically neat, even though the boy was in no way a slob. Homework was finished and piled neatly on the desk, so much so that the corners of every book and page were crisply aligned with the grain of the wood. His dirty clothes were nowhere to be seen and his bed was made. All of his puzzles and toys were in their proper places instead of all over the floor. It looked more like a museum than a teenager's bedroom.
"Yugi? Can I come in please?" His grandfather would not force entry into his grandson's room. He respected the young man's privacy too much.
There was a scuffling sound and something that might have been the mucous filled sniffing of someone who had been crying. Sugoroku found his grandson sitting cross-legged on his bed, a reading light on and a thick book open on his lap.
The Lord of the Rings, somewhere in the middle of the 'Return of the King' from how far he had turned in the book. Realistically, it was doubtful that Yugi had been reading. The red splotches on his cheeks were a dead giveaway.
"Can we talk Yugi?"
Maxwell--too old to clamber up on the bed anymore except for extra special occasions--curled into a ball on the thick woven rug on the floor next to the bed. He sensed this wasn't one of those times to pry just yet.
"Sure Grandpa...what about?" Yugi's voice rang with false cheer as he made extra space for the older man to sit next to him on the bed. The book was laid beside them; forgotten for the time being.
"About why you've been so upset, guilty and anxious the past few days for one. I know that a lot's happened and you are obviously upset about something. Care to let me know what that is?"
He did not fail to notice Yugi's eyes shutter and his posture stiffen.
"You can tell me anything Yugi, you know that...I won't be mad or upset...I promise."
The boy fidgeted for a long moment before mumbling something. Sugoroku had to lean in a bit to hear it.
"You should have never given me the Puzzle."
Bushy eyebrows drew down sharply at that.
"All that I managed to do was make things worse. No one would have been in danger if I hadn't solved it. You..." Here it was clear that the boy was trying to control his breathing. "You almost died Grandpa and it was all my fault..."
"No!" The elder man nearly shouted. It startled the boy and the dog enough so they both lifted their eyes to the man.
"Yugi, look at me." He took the thin shoulders between his large hands and turned the limp body to face him. A finger under a rounded chin and the child finally turned upset violet eyes on him. Tears were pooled at the edges but the child was doing a great job of keeping them from spilling.
"Listen to me Yugi...none of this, NONE of it was your fault."
"But Pegasus wanted me! He hurt all the people I care about to get to me! How is that not my fault?" One lone tear managed to slip past at that. He was trembling in his grandfather's loose grip.
"You didn't ask or tell him to take my soul did you?"
"But...I could have stopped him, I should have stopped him!"
The child paused before replying in a voice that was annoyed at having to think logically about his last statement. "I don't know..."
"Yugi," he gently rubbed the tear away, "you didn't know what he was going to do. I didn't know either, and neither did Kaiba or Mokuba or any of your friends. No one knew what Pegasus was actually planning to do with the Millenium Items. It's not your fault that he decided to do what he did. It's not your fault that you solved that Puzzle and it isn't to blame for this either. And if you hadn't been there, who would have saved Mokuba and Seto huh? I know you have great faith in Jounouchi's abilities but he would not have won against Pegasus even though I believe he will one day be a great duelist."
"Besides...I always knew you could do it. I always had faith in you. That will never change, no matter what happens along the line."
Yugi was more embarrassed than he could ever remember being in quite some time. He was supposed to be strong; he wasn't supposed to be burdening his Grandpa with something like this. It hurt to realize that he had been held up with such faith and that he had doubted it so much.
He crumpled into the older man's solid arms hanging onto him as if he were the only solid thing in the world. He was crying so hard and he couldn't get up the nerve to care about how much of a weakling he felt like.
Sugoroku let the boy cry, holding him tight; somewhat satisfied that this was indeed what his grandson had been so upset about. There were times when Yugi doubted himself far too much and placed far too much of the burden and blame squarely on his shoulders.
In between sobs, the whole story seemed to trickle out, from the promise at his bedside in the hospital, to the tournament, to Kaiba, Mokuba and how he had been unable to help or protect them. A dark evening overlooking the ocean and losing his faith in everything, including dueling. The dinner and nightmares, Pegasus' story and that acute loneliness and fear that even if he did manage to defeat Pegasus and regain those lost souls, that it would not be enough. That his only grandfather would just continue to slip away in a hospital bed until he was gone and dead. Eventually, to the present, where he was reminded daily of what he had almost caused and almost lost.
"Yugi, you aren't supposed to be able to solve everyone's problems. You aren't supposed to save the world."
Yugi refrained from voicing it, knowing that it would only cause more problems, but mentally he was shouting. 'But what if I am?' Lingering thoughts of a strange man and his equally strange words plagued him.
Sugoroku somehow could hear his thoughts. "And even if you are...I know you'll make the right decision my boy. You are a great person. And that is why I gave you the Puzzle."
Disbelief filled violet eyes as he looked up at his grandfather.
"Everyone makes mistakes Yugi, even me. And there have been many times I have doubted my ability and my faith that things will be alright. That's what makes us human. Our gift...is the ability to learn from those things."
Yugi smiled sheepishly at that.
"Too sappy huh?" Sugoroku half-grinned.
"A little..." the boy replied cheekily holding up fingers about an inch apart, "but it's still right I guess."
"I don't regret giving you the Puzzle Yugi, not for a second." The older man gave a gentle squeeze to his shoulders before scrambling off the bed.
"Now...this old man is going off to bed, as are you Yugi. You have school tomorrow...and don't give me that look. It hasn't worked for the better part of your life."
Chuckling Yugi reached out again to hug his grandfather. "I'm so glad you're alright Grandpa." He said fiercely into the worn collar of his shirt.
"I know Yugi. I'm so glad you're safe as well. Are you going to be alright?"
Nodding the young man drew back. "I will be. I promise Grandpa."
"Good. Maxwell...make sure he sleeps, ok?"
The dog hrumphed from the floor.
Around three in the morning Yugi and Maxwell raided the fridge for the leftover dinner. No way he was letting a perfectly good hamburger go to waste.
Soooo any comments, criticisms, praise flames...anything you'd like to throw at me? Please do so now.
Thanks for reading.