EXPOSED SHADOWS

A/N: Hello all...I know, this took forever...and I'm sorry...hopefully it's worth it?

THANKS TO: , angiembabe, Fictional Sadist, and Hirami for the wonderful reviews. Again, I am so sorry that this took so long, but hopefully the length and the content make up for it.

Disclaimer: I do not own Yugioh, or any of its characters, clearly…or it would have gone significantly more different.
Warning: This story contains graphic violent and sexual content, yaoi, along with profanities. If you don't like, don't read; and if you read and cannot handle it, don't complain to me, you've been warned. Also, please note that this story takes place in the Yugioh Universe, or Canon, approximately 17 years after the end of the show.

CHAPTER ELEVEN

Unconsciousness

He was cold, that was the first sensation that hit him. Feet were drenched and clad only in socks, they were starting to freeze. Moving his toes the ground crunched under him, the familiar sound of snow being trod on. Realising his eyes were closed he snapped them open, blinking rapidly at the blinding brightness around him. The light was fading; the sun had long begun to set, filling the sky behind the looming mountains ahead of him with deep purple and golden shades. The tall lights around the mountain were already lit, illuminating the brilliant snow and the landscape around. Staring in stunned shock up at the ski hill he cocked his head, where the hell am I? Glancing down at himself he could see the dark jeans he remembered wearing before and the dark red long sleeved shirt. Bewildered he swivelled around and took in the panoramic view below.

Halfway up the mountain he could see the expanse of the world below him. The massive mountain stretched below him scattered with skiers and snowboarders. Lights signalling the different slopes down towards the lodge near the bottom. Right at the base of the mountain was a small village, street lights already on casting a warm glow over the log chalets. It was familiar. Narrowing his eyes he peered up to the top of the mountain, immediately recognizing its shape. He was at the base of Mont-Gele, the smaller peak just below Mont-Fort; the village below was the ski resort village of Verbier in Switzerland. As a kid they had come here every year till he was twelve, his uncle and aunt came with his cousin Milan and his grandparents would usually join them as well. It was the family's way of spending Christmas, getting away from the business and escaping for two weeks. They had all been close then, even after the move to Canada to control the branch of Ridder Corp there; they had called and visited each other often. But after his mother's passing, and his father plunging into his selfish pit of mourning and liquor, they had slowly grown apart. He still went and saw his grandparents, spending the summers with them. But his Aunt and Uncle never seemed to know how to approach him afterwards, and Milan was Lysbet's age and University had become his focus.

"Mama, Yami!"

That sounded like Lysbet. Glancing a little way down the hill he could see her, confusion filling him at the familiarity of her outfit and her somewhat younger features. He froze, two voices responded barely four feet away. Turning he felt his throat tighten and the cold within him increase, the individual's standing in front of him and that voice speaking happily and rapidly in Dutch filled him heavily. His twelve-year-old self stood there adjusting the toque on his head and pulling off the goggle blocking his eyes, balancing perfectly on his brand new snowboard, his Christmas present. Beside him, in a slim fitting black and turquoise ski suit was his mother; identical hair to Lysbet pulled back tightly into a pony-tail and her goggle resting on her forehead, her wine coloured eyes mirthful as she stared down at her mirror image, the only sign towards her age was the small laugh lines around her eyes.

"I thought you were finished Libby, went for another run?"

"Just a short one. Papa and Tante have started making supper and coco, they asked me to tell you and Nonkel and Milan that you probably have time for another run before its ready."

Laughter, warm laughter that filled him with wonderful memories, and her voice again in a teasing tone.

"Well, we were going for another run anyway," tenderly Reiyame wrapped an arm around her son, beaming. "We'll see you in an hour."

Shaking her head Lysbet waved at them and headed down the hill, "Suit yourselves, its cold. Love you!"

"Love you too," Reiyame called down then winked at and gently ushered him towards the nearby ski lift. "Let's go my love, this will be the best time to go, it looks empty up there."

"I saw a few guys go up there ten minutes ago," his younger self responded, clambering onto the lift. "But otherwise, it's empty. Do you really think it will be a good idea for me to be up there, I've only been using this board for a day, it's bigger than I am used to and that's a black run?"

She winked again at him and affectionately ruffled his head as the lift took off, "I've been with you all day, if you aren't used to it yet you have fooled me. Just take it slow, don't do anything fancy."

As soon as they were seated, she grinned and tapped his leg, "Listen, recognize it?"

He grinned, the music blaring through the speakers reaching him, "That's an insult. Phil Collins, In the Air Tonight."

A warm chuckle and she nudged him with her arm, starting to sing along, her smile widening when he joined her.

Shivering Yami watched them disappear up the hill, a deep pit filling his stomach knowing all too well what was to come. As he continued to stare the night darkened the sky, only the lights along the ski hill made the area visible. He knew exactly where they were, along with the sudden shift of snow above them, then the careening wall of snow and ice crashing down and engulfing the top of the mountain. Tears filled his eyes as the screams of horror around him rose in a crescendo and echoed in the valley. The ignition of ski-do's roared behind him at the ski lodge, rescue units mobilizing and blazing up the mountain. Arms wrapping tightly around himself, both for comfort and to ward off the cold he stared up the mountain at the horror unfolding.

Five had been caught in raging snow, including his mother, all of them perished from asphyxiation or injuries not compatible with life. It took ten hours to find them all; his mother was one of the first pulled out, and he was the second last. Milan had been part of the group that found him; he was trained in safety rescues on ski-resorts. He was also never one to sit still. It had spooked him, he remembered that, it was part of the reason Milan had troubles being around him afterwards.

Yami had been lucky; when the avalanche finally stopped he ended up close to the surface, and before passing out had been able to dig through the few inches in front of his face to allow him to breathe the outside air. If that hadn't happened, he would have suffocated like the others had. Average statistics are if found in the first 18 minutes, survival is over 90%, after 35 minutes survival rate is below 10%.

For Milan, finding your cousin's hand poking out from the snow, nearly eight hours after the avalanche assured him that it was more than likely a body retrieval. Then, seeing your cousin breathing when he looked dead, should have been dead, had rocked him to the core.

A gentle, feminine had glided over his shoulder, a familiar warmth filling him he felt his mind freeze, eyes tilting sidelong to stare at the familiar face peering at him. She smiled, as she always did, crimson eyes bright and her face full of cordiality. He felt the breath leave him, jaw hanging slightly agape, unable to form words. She chuckled, a hand reaching up to cup his face, the heat and tenderness radiating from her hand calming him; unconsciously he leaned into it, covering her hand with his. With a sigh she pulled him close, wiping the tears from his face as she did so, wrapping her arms around his neck while his shaky one encircled her back.

"You need to fight this, my love," she whispered, voice soothing while her fingers caressed the back of his head, the sound and sensations welling up within him and forced the tears to keep flowing.

"Fight what?"

Pulling back she gave him a sad smile, "Can't you feel it. You're dying. The doctors have done all they can, but you need to fight to survive this."

Confused he tried to formulate words. Instead, an overwhelming somnolence filled him, sinking him to his knees. As she knelt down in front of him the pain began to rise, familiar and sharp, every single joint burning and his leg seized violently. Gasping against it he desperately clenched his hands over his thigh, trying to put pressure against the pain to dull it, but all it caused was the crunch of bone and further agony. Feeling her hands on his face he lifted his head, barely able to stay upright, stammering out.

"I was hoping that was a dream."

"It wasn't," she said gently, eyes sad as she stared into his. "I need you to fight this, my love. It's too early for you to join me."

"And what if that's what I want," he gasped out, not surprised by the annoyance that rose in her face. "All I have done since you passed is fight. I can't do it anymore."

Sitting back on her hunches she scowled, "Yes, I know that, I have watched it. But, you've chosen to fight alone for it even when there was helping hands. That can wear down even the strongest person. You don't fight alone anymore; you've finally let people help you."

"If I keep letting them help, they will be killed!"

"Yami," she said sharply, one hand ducking under his chin to hold it up, gaze intense. "You are far stronger than you give yourself credit for. Look what you have been able to accomplish on your own, and remember what you have already been able to do with the few hands of help you have taken. Imagine what you could do with all of them behind you and some confidence in yourself."

"What little we have accomplished was not worth the cost," he ground out, knuckles clenching against the increasing discomfort pulsating through him. "Nothing is worth their lives."

"Bakura knew what he was sacrificing. They were going to kill him eventually after his cover was blown. There was nothing he or you could change about that. He knew it, you knew it." Seeing his mouth purse and the shaking increasing she lifted her other hand to his face, brushing a blond bang behind an ear just like she always used to. "Fight through this. Survive this. And they will take nothing more from you."

He did not realise that he had closed his eyes; the feeling of lips against his brow shook him, his voice weak, "I miss you…"

Another sad smile and she rested her brow against his, "I love you. Please, my love, never stop fighting."

"Mama," he gasped, feeling her touch dissipate he snapped his eyes open. Sobs filled him, she was gone, and so was the mountain. The world around him was hot and dark, the air dusty and overpowering. Collapsing he shot his arms out, barely keeping himself from falling flat. His ragged breathing filled his ears, along with the howl of the wind.

Saturday – April 19th
0500 – Toronto General Hospital

His world felt numb. Everything filtered past him in a blur, ability to focus on anything but what was in front of him – white tile floor crystal clear and Hannibal's sulking bulk- was non-existent. He remembered at some point that he had been wrapped in a blanket, given dry hospital scrubs and a hot cup of tea. At that time the oxygen mask had been removed from him, his levels finally at a place the doctors were comfortable with. Intermittent he heard voices, some talking to him but most were directed at the occupant of the chair beside him or between each other. With the stuttered responses, he imagined Karel was struggling with all this just as much as he was. The past few hours had been spent virtually incapacitated, barely able to absorb what was being said or being able to process what was transpiring around them. Seto could not get the image of Yami in the ambulance out of his head. Finally debilitated by the drug Yami had passed out, though his pulse and ability to breathe went with it. Seto lost count of how many times the Paramedics had to shock him, had to pound against his chest and break ribs to perform CPR, never mind the number of IV's they initiated or the drugs they injected. He had nearly toppled over when they intubated Yami, shoving a tube down his throat and attaching it to a bag to force him to breathe, even if it was artificial. All that time Yami became paler, soft bronze skin taking on an ashen hue far worse than when he had overdosed previously, the greyness amplified by the rain. His hand had been freezing cold encompassed with his; no matter how hard he tried he could not warm them.

The medics had wheeled him away from them at the hospital, straight into surgery, leaving them to be checked over by ER nurses and surrounded by police officers. When they had come back to check on them in the emergency ward they seemed exhausted. Apparently the surgeons had kept them there, extra sets of hands that they desperately needed. That, however, was hours ago; they had arrived at around 10:30pm, and the medics had left the surgical room around midnight, the lifesaving portion of the surgery done and closed up. The surgery to fix the bone was pushed off until he was stable; at least that's what the doctors had said. Since then, they had yet to hear any truly definable good news, just little tidbits amid the jaw tightening terror, bread crumbs to keep them stumbling behind.

He's out of surgery…His heart cannot handle this, we cannot get his rate and pressure to stabilize…We've stopped the bleeding in his leg…His kidneys are borderline shutting down…His temperature has stabilized, it's high but not dangerously so…The drug is taking a long time to process, everything we have done to eradicate it from his system hasn't worked.

Police had questioned them, pulling all the information out of them that they could, leaving when it was clear that both were too drained to continue answering them.

"Excuse me, Mr. Kaiba, Mr. Raske?"

Hearing a feminine voice speaking he lifted his head, acknowledging the nurse beside him blearily.

"You can come see him now. His condition has stabilized," she stated gently, a hand reaching out to him in offering.

He didn't need it. The words spurred him up, nearly dropping his blanket; Karel matched him, and Hannibal stood up and gave a small whine. They startled the nurse; she stared at them in bewilderment then calmed a moment later.

"He's stable?"

She nodded to their unilateral question and signalled for them to follow, "As stable as we can get him. Until the drug leaves his system we have put him in a chemically induced coma. It will keep his heart rate and blood pressure at equilibrium and manage his pain as best as possible." She peered over her shoulder, leading through the chaos of the emergency waiting room and into the calm of the back of the ward, directing them towards an elevator at the back. "The doctor will explain more in a few minutes, the rest of the family should be arriving any minute and I will elaborate then. Be warned, he is in the intensive care unit; some of the bruising has begun to settle and he's hooked up to a lot of machines."

"Will he make it?"

Averting to Karel as they clambered into the elevator she smiled tightly, "It will all depend on how his body copes with the healing process over the next twenty four hours, the doctor will explain why in a few minutes. If he survives that, then he has a good chance."

"And his leg?"

The elevator chimed open and she gave Seto a strained smile, "The doctor will explain all that when the rest of the family arrives. Until then, I want both of you to sit with him and rest. Don't worry; I called your daughter Lysbet about ten minutes ago. They shouldn't be long."

Both of them cowed, their worry getting the best of them. Clearly the nurse was tired, especially if she was in the ICU. Quietly they followed behind her in the sterile ward, white walls, greyish tiles, dim lights and eerie silence. The front desk blocked the massive room from the direct vision of the elevator; it was the main source of light for the rest of the ward behind them, aside from the coloured glow of machines. It was wide open, the beds surrounding the outside of the room with only curtains dividing each of the beds; each one surrounded by pulsating and softly beeping machines. There was about twenty beds total, a little more than half were occupied. A long rectangular shaped desk was in the middle, hollowed out in the centre allowing for several doctors and nurses to sit there if needed, though currently it was unoccupied. The nurse led them towards a bed on the far wall, the curtains draped to cover their view and create privacy. Reaching it she gripped them and glanced back at them, gaining shaky nods of readiness she drew back the curtains, both gasped and stiffened causing her face to become gloomy.

"I'll go grab a second chair," she murmured, stepping away, giving them the space they needed.

Yami's skin was still ashen, at least what was visible. Dark bruises marred his wrists, neck, face and what was visible of his shoulders and chest. Every area he was touched after the drug was injected had bruised. Two IV's were hooked into the crook of his elbows, marks from where they had failed dotting up his hand and arms in purple hues. One ran desperately needed blood, while the other pumped saline and medication into him. The tube was still in his throat, a ventilator softly breathing for him, torso rising and falling in barely notable motions. His left leg was outside of the covers; it was propped up by pillows and tightly bandaged. An electronic compressor and cooling unit wrapped around it, reducing the swelling, the rest of his leg had a compression sock for the same purpose. Attacked at his hip and ankle was a traction splint, forcing the bones into alignment, pulling the joints apart.

Hannibal didn't wait. Immediately the canine joined his partner gingerly on the bed, lying against his right side snuggly between him and the railing of the bed. Letting out a low whine he rested his head on his partner's shoulder, tongue darting out to lick his jaw.

Inhaling, the dry hospital air scraping against his lungs, Seto moved up along Yami's left side. Gingerly, hands afraid and shaking, he leaned over and glided his digits down Yami's left arm, encompassing his hand gently when he reached it. Using his other arm to brace himself, elbow sinking into the pillow beside Yami's head, he tenderly kissed his cold brow before resting his own against it. He could feel Yami's trembling, body still raged with agony even though the chemically induced coma was alleviating him from directly having to deal with it. Hearing motion he lifted his eyes; Karel was at the other side of the bed, hands quivering and tears forming in his gold eyes. Over the past few hours Seto hadn't pressed him, wanting to wait and see if the sincerity and concern was genuine. In this moment he began to believe what Yugi had said previously, that there was something more going on, that perhaps Karel didn't despise his son as much as he made it seem. The words that followed tightened his heart, mind processing it in shock.

"I really am a horrible father. I let them take you away, I let them hurt you. All because I was too afraid to face the world without your Mother, too afraid that I would never be everything that you needed without her, so I just abandoned you thinking it would be better. I let my selfishness, my own pain, and the drink to change me into a monster. I've hurt you more than they ever have. I don't blame you if you hate me, and if you can never forgive me…but you don't deserve this…please don't die, please…you're my baby boy…"

Sobbing broke up his words; Karel hunched over and tightly took hold of Yami's hand and brought it to his lips, kissing it softly. "I'm so sorry Yami, I'm sorry. I tried to stop this. I hoped that by giving them the drug and the money that they would leave you alone. But, I allowed my fear of the drug being used that I couldn't bring myself to let them have the new batch and the chemical formula. I was wrong, your life is more important than that, keeping them away from you is more important than them having that accursed drug. I'm sorry I didn't listen when you tried to warn me about them, when you tried to tell me about what Yevgeny was doing to you. I was so lost in my own head that I didn't want to acknowledge that anything else was wrong, that anything bad could happen. I firmly believed that by distancing myself from you that you would be better off. I was wrong."

The elevator door grinding open, footsteps and voices snapped Karel up; gaze locking with Seto's he wiped the tears from his eyes. Chest still heaving from the sobs he diverted away, watching Lysbet, Yugi, and Graham head towards them through the gloom.

Lysbet quickened her pace, reaching Karel first and hugging him tightly, turning immediately afterwards to lean over her brother, delicate feminine hands ghosting over ashen cold skin of his face and chest, those same hands encircling his hand and holding it desperately. Yugi went to Seto first, concern evident in his bright azure eyes as he hugged him then focused his attention on his cousin. Graham stayed speechless at the end of the bed, tentative hand reaching out to pet Hannibal, who whined but accepted the comfort.

Gaining her wits, Lysbet rasped out, voice filled with fear and anger, "What the hell happened?"

"Arik," Seto answered simply, voice surprising quiet and submissive. "He attacked us at the house with his men and brought Karel. He wanted the new batch of the product that was made and the chemical formula for the drug. And he got it."

"What did they do to him," her voice cracking. "Why is he dying and you two are just bruised."

"They tortured him to get what they wanted out of us. Even though we were cooperating as best as they were allowing, Arik apparently was also using the torture as a form of punishment for Yami getting Yevgeny arrested and for what happened in the vaults."

Fury rising in her, protectiveness taking over she snarled at them. "This is all because you had the damn shit the entire time and didn't give it to them. What the fuck did they do to my brother because of you?!"

"Lysbet, calm down honey," Graham whispered, his hand reaching out to tenderly caress her arm then cupped her tear soaked face. "Let them talk."

"No, I've had enough," she snapped, gaze directing over her shoulder furiously at her father. "He's been continually put through hell because of you. How many times does he have to nearly die for you to protect him? He's your little boy, how can you abandon him and watch him suffer while you do nothing!"

Desolate, Karel moved away, unable to take the harsh truth being slapped against his face. Feeling the eyes of the others bearing into him, he balked, barely finding his voice. "I tried to make it right, I tried to give them what they wanted; but I wasn't fast enough, and my conscience weighed far heavier about the drug than it should have. None of this is because of Yami; I never wanted to hurt him. But, when I realised that my actions had done the damage that they did, I also realised that what I had done was irreparable and that I didn't deserve to be forgiven. I allowed my grief and my inability to handle the aftermath of the avalanche to turn me into a monster; I became selfish, drunk and cruel; and he paid the price."

Brow pinching, arms crossing, Yugi peered at Karel with a mixture of rage and pity. "Then why keep up the façade."

"Because I am a coward," Karel answered honestly. "I didn't want to deal with him shutting me out forever, like I thought he would even if I begged for his forgiveness. I didn't deserve it; he would have had every right to do it. So, instead of trying I just left it how it was."

"Do you know what he said to me the other day, after the dance recital when you acted concerned and held him?" Gaining a shake of Karel's head and confusion from the others, Yugi sighed deeply and frowned. "Is it wrong that part of me wants to believe that what he just did was genuine? I needed him, I needed him to be there, to love and protect me. What did I do wrong that made him abandon me?

"I don't think he ever stopped loving you, and I don't believe he ever hated you. He truly believes that it was his fault, that you despised him because he survived the avalanche; that you let all this happen to him as punishment for living when Reiyame didn't. He has severe survivor's guilt because he was the only one pulled out of that avalanche alive, coupled with the fact that she died and he didn't. It's slowly destroyed him. Everything with Yevgeny has just been confirmation to him that he should never have lived."

"He said this to you?" Seto questioned.

Giving a nod, Yugi answered. "I went over there for lunch the next day; I needed to make sure he was alright, especially after what he said he did to himself after he got home."

Shaking her head, Lysbet held Yami's hand against her chest, "What happened…can one of you please answer."

Shoulders slouching, head bowing, Seto murmured out. "Arik broke his femur, and injected that accursed drug into him."

Eyes widening, Graham glanced over the extensive bruising on Yami's pale body, "That drug did all that? They didn't hit him anywhere else."

"Not really. They restrained him, and Arik nearly choked him out, but the only blows that really happened were to his thigh. Arik gave me a time limit to hack in externally with a shitty old laptop and get the files that he wanted from Karel's computer; they wouldn't let him tell me anything about where the files were. I…I was ten seconds too late." Not realising that he was shaking, nor that his fists were clenched until Yugi took hold of them.

"Seto, you did everything you could, Arik set you up for failure."

"That doesn't matter, I failed him. The bastard injected him with the drug first, overdosed him on it; he was in so much pain and I didn't save him. And now Bakura's dead and the house is torched."

"What?!"

Karel nodded, ashamed. "Bakura sacrificed himself, Arik stated that he was too much of a burden now to keep alive, a thorn in his side basically. So, Bakura made Arik promise not to take Yami away in exchange for his life. They lit the house on fire, I doubt that the firefighters were able to save it, it was fully engulfed in flames before we even got out."

Silence hung heavy upon all of them, the gravity of the situation resting full atop of them, the burden unbearable. Yugi and Graham both stepped away, barely restraining the tears, while Lysbet began to quake and sob, dropping down and burying herself against Yami's chest. Seto's fists clenched till his nails dug into his palms, tears of rage and desolation trailing down his face, cerulean eyes ablaze. Karel hung his head, hands covering his face as he collapsed down into the chair.

The doctor had watched the exchanged from a distance, picking up bits and pieces of the conversation. Sighing heavily he realised now was the only time that may be appropriate to approach them, he also internally considered having the patient transferred to a private room to allow the family the privacy needed. He had a general idea of the incident, and surmised that the family was probably going to be going through a long stretch of turmoil and healing. Pursing his lips he forced his feet to move and crossed the expansive room; they all noticed his approach and composed themselves enough to face him. He smiled at them tiredly, one hand in his lab coat pocket the other holding the clipboard with the patients information.

"I am guessing all of you are his family." Gaining nods he shifted his feet and peered between them. "I suggest all of you find chairs, this is going to be extensive and I am guessing all of you will have questions."

Listening, Graham went and gathered chairs for him and Yugi, Lysbet opted out by sitting on the edge of the bed refusing to let go of her brother's hand. Once they were settled, the doctor continued.

"I'm Dr. Selkirk, I'll be in charge of Yami's care while he is in the Intensive Care Unit. Now, I am guessing all of you know what happened, so I am just going to give you a rundown of the medical effects it has had on him and what the recovery looks like. Does that work for you?"

Again, nods.

Flipping open the charts in front of him he debated where to start, "Let's start with the…mystery…and frankly repulsive drug that was injected into him. We have seen it before over the years, just never had a name to it. Though, thankfully it's been nearly ten years since it was last found in someone. The dose injected, out of what we can surmise, was over double the needed dose to effectively use it. We know it's designed for torture; specifically it binds to the pain receptors in the body and turns them on. It also causes the sympathetic nervous system to activate, which increases heart rate, pulse, respiratory rate and releases catecholamines into the body; basically the fight or flight response. That's why he bruised so badly, the minor bruising that comes from injuries was amplified by the fact that his blood was so thin that it couldn't coagulate and he just kept bleeding. So, coupled with pain, his body kicked into hyper drive to protect itself, but it really just sent him into shock faster. Because his heart was pumping so quickly the drug was able to work faster and caused a rapid fall into shock from the overdose. That's also why his artery shredded so easily when his femur broke, the scar tissue there normally would have been a buffer."

"How did he not bleed out?" Graham questioned.

Dr. Selkirk shrugged, clearly baffled, "He was close. If the paramedics had taken a few more minutes, he would have. But, they got there insanely quick and had a massive stock of saline."

"Is the drug still in him," Yugi pressed.

"It is, if our calculations are right it will be for another five to six hours. Since the drug binds to the pain receptors in the body, any painkillers we could give are ineffective. The little while that he was awake after surgery we could not manage the pain, we tried everything we could for over an hour, but nothing even phased it and the rest of his symptoms from the overdose needed to be managed or he would have gone into cardiac arrest again. So, with his blood pressure tanking again and his kidneys showing signs of shutting down, we made the decision to put him into a chemically induced coma. He will stay like this until the drug is out of his system, the last blood transfusion hemodynamically balances him, and his body stabilizes enough that his kidneys don't shut down; or anything else for that matter. We will be doing blood tests every hour to monitor all of this."

"And his leg?" Yugi asked, raising the other question on all their minds.

"Honestly, time will tell. The surgeon that did the repair from his IED surgery in Iraq was incredible; most other surgeons would have amputated it and not even tried to repair it. The bone, which was missing chunks due to the IED, fractured far easier than normal, especially since the pins were not kept in. It was an oblique fracture about two inches above the patella, it did displace though so there was some fragmented bone we had to remove. He's not hemodynamically stable enough for us to attempt the surgery on the bone. For now, until he is, the traction splint will stay as is to keep it apart and in proper alignment. We will be pinning it, so there will be a metal rod in it stretching through the entire bone that is going to be permanent. Hopefully, we will be able to do that operation within the next five to ten hours. Right now the compression we are doing, along with the cooling, should pull all the toxins built up in the muscles from the drug and all the blood along with minimize the swelling.

"In terms of recovery, considering it has twice been a comminuted fracture; it is quite a miracle actually that it didn't re-shatter like that, or break along the lines of the old hairline fractures from the other incident. The muscles, well, what he has left; were damaged more from the drug than the fracture. The femoral had to re-graph but it did so beautifully and his body has shown no signs of rejecting it. The surgeon in Iraq stitched everything back nearly perfect, aside from the chunks of bone, muscle and skin that were blown off. So, it actually healed fairly well considering what had happened, and it seems like Yami took really good care of it and built it up. I mean, clearly he can run and is very fit, not just by looking at him but by his job. I am fairly confident it will heal, the only thing I am not confident about is how long it will take and how much function he will regain."

"It's what, average four to six month recovery right?"

Nodding at Graham, Dr. Selkirk elaborated. "Average yes. It all depends on the person and the severity of the injury. Out of what I heard, the first two fractures Yami recovered from within six months. The last one took almost nine months, but that was complicated by the all the other fractures through his leg and the damage done to the muscles. So, him dependant he should be back to normal function in approximately six months."

"How long do you think he will be in a coma?"

Glancing at Lysbet he leaned back in his chair, expression bleak, "Probably till at least tomorrow. We want his pain levels to be manageable and for all the effects of the drug to be gone, and unfortunately organs take a bit to purge all the toxins that build up. His kidneys were the only organ that was shutting down; but his brain, heart, lungs and liver were showing signs of starting, his heart especially. All that is fairly standard with severe overdoses. Right now, it's a waiting game; he is still not in the safe zone and won't be until the drug is gone and his body can regain homeostasis. Average amount of time for that can be anywhere from ten to seventy-two hours, so long as no infections take hold or they start shutting down again. Just depends on the damage done and how long the body takes to purge and rectify it."

All of them slumped down, depleted, exhaustion high and their minds overwhelmed.

Taking the hint, Dr. Selkirk rose to his feet, hands running through grey dusted blonde hair. "I am going to do my rounds, the nurse and I will come back in about an hour. If you have any concerns, just press the call button on his bed."

No one responded to him, feeling the heavy weight of loss within the room he diverted away, unable to handle the intensity of emotions within the small space.

0600 – Yami's House

Exiting the car, he was met by duelling situations. The rain had finally stopped, leaving the faintly lit morning dewy and warm, the relaxing smell of fresh rain and wet trees filled his sensations. Wafting through that was the opposite; heat and the aroma of burnt embers, melted plastic and scorched metal. His mood was already sour. No one had notified him when the officers from last night had not reported in, nor had he been informed of the reason for it till just over an hour ago. Even then, pieces were missing, grating on his already infuriated nerves. Hearing the door of the passenger side open and close he glanced sideways, frowning in unison with Kevin as the man strode around and stood beside him, a lit cigarette between his lips.

"Has there been any kind of update as to Seto, Karel and Yami's conditions?"

"Just that they are in the hospital, one possibly critical, but no one seems to know who or why."

Taking a long drag of the cigarette Kevin clasped it between his fingers, removing it to allow the smoke to puff out. "Straight to the hospital after this?"

With a hum in the back of his throat for answer, Alex shoved his hands in the pockets of his police windbreaker and strode across the street towards the chaos.

Three body bags were hidden under a hastily built tent, sheltering them from scrutinizing eyes and protecting them from the elements. Approaching them they were immediately overwhelmed by the familiar smell of burnt flesh, a rancid odour that was a combination of overcooked sour meat and blood. The two officers that stood guarding the tent peered at them expectantly, calming when they both flashed their badges.

"I knew the two officers were murdered. Who's the third?"

One of the officers shuffled, "The guy that was interviewed at the hospital said it was a man named Bakura Vasiliev. Parents both immigrated here from Russian, father was in the Bratva. The guy said he was an undercover cop."

Silence fell between them, and the officer that spoke stiffened in nervousness, possibly realising that he had said too much from the shocked and disheartened expressions that crossed the faces of his superiors.

"Jesus, fucking hell," Kevin cursed and stepped away, fingers shaking as he inhaled from his cigarette. "Shit."

Body twitching, Alex glanced at them. "Is his body identifiable?"

Giving a nod the second officer scrambled in and hastily began to undo the bag. "Just from the waist down had started to burn before the firefighters pulled the body out."

"Cause of death?"

Finishing unzipping the bag the cop frowned sadly at Alex, tentatively pulling aside the bag to reveal the body it held.

Breath held, both Alex and Kevin stared down at the familiar face of their colleague and friend. The officer did not have to answer them. An obvious indentation in the side of his head signalled a bullet entering, and the spray of crusted crimson soaking the opposite side signalled where it left. Russet eyes milky with death stared sadly forward, resigned and calm.

Kneeling down Kevin scowled deeply; cursing again he flipped the bag closed to cover Bakura's face, unable to deal with the sight. Rising up he stared hard at the officers, tone demanding, "Do you know anything about the other individuals that were here and what their condition is."

The second officer quickly closed the body bag then addressed them, "A Mr. Kaiba and Mr. Raske were checked in with minor injuries, some smoke inhalation issues, the K9 that is with them was reported to be uninjured. The home owner, the son of Mr. Raske as we have gathered, is in the ICU. Apparently the Bratva overdosed him on something and broke his leg, if our intel is right he got out of surgery around midnight, last we heard he was still critical."

Sharing a look Alex grunted in agreement, voicing their dual thought, "They used that damn drug."

"Not a single one of them was caught?" Kevin directed the question at the officers, flicking away the large amount of ash on his cigarette. "Every single one of those bastards got away with killing three cops and critically injuring another. Isn't this a fine day for Toronto PD."

Glowering, though not directed at the cowering officers, Alex averted away and snagged the remainder of the cigarette from Kevin then stepped out from the tent, inhaling roughly on the bud he ignored the intense protest his lungs gave him. As he exhaled Kevin stepped up beside him, both staring sadly at the blackened house in front of them. Firefighters were sifting through the rubble, pulling up evidence, taking pictures, and removing what appeared to be several large fireproof boxes and some slightly damaged military cases. Striding up to them Alex dusted away the ash, acknowledging the firefighter that approached them by inclining his head and flashing his badge.

The firefighter grunted, eyebrow quirked in surprise. "I didn't think the Chief of Police visited crime scenes."

"Not normally. Special circumstance, I know the homeowner."

"You mean Rasky?"

Kevin coughed, unable to hold back a grin. "I'm guessing you know him too."

The man nodded, removing his helmet and held it against his side, grey hair and mustache wet from sweat. "Done a few calls with him over the past couple years. Smart kid and Hannibal is one incredible animal. They make a pretty unforgettable team. Was with the kid a month ago when that little girl went missing in that building fire. Damn they found her quick, stupid as they were to go into that burning building."

"This coming from someone that goes into them for a living," Kevin quipped, gaining a grin from the firefighter.

He shrugged, and chuckled, "He went in when none of the rest of us would without a massive amount of gear. All the little bastard did was take a SCABA for him and the dog…not really sure why the hell he carries around a mask specific for dogs, didn't even know they made them. And he doused Hannibal before they went in, and put some fancy booties on his feet."

Unable to resist a smile, Alex finished off the smoke and stamped his foot on it where it dropped on the grass. "Fear does not seem to be a thing Yami understands, doesn't help that he seems to be a damn boy scout and is always prepared for everything."

"Oh, that reminds me," the firefighter reached into his jacket pockets and produced two sets of keys. "I think one of these opens these cases. And, we got the vehicles out before the garage went up, got them parked out back. I should get back to it; let me know if you need anything else."

Taking them, Kevin watched the man grin at them then return into the rubble of the house. Jiggling them in his hands he flipped through to find small keys, he tested one out in the three small fire proof boxes and on the two large military ones. Satisfied that he found the key for each he pocketed them and produced another smoke from his pocket, taking a pointed step away from Alex as he lit it. "It's been years since you've stolen one."

"He was right," came an aggravated murmur. "We should have listened to him. He doesn't strike me as the person that panics for no reason. We ignored his red flag."

Blowing out the smoke from his last inhale, Kevin grimaced and nodded. "Yes, we did. I knew he was panicking for a reason, but I honestly thought that we had all the angles covered. Was really hoping that it was just his fear of Yevgeny that was driving the panic."

"Let's head to the hospital. I have a few phone calls to make."

"Making sure the fucker stays behind bars?"

Giving a nod was his response before he snagged the cigarette, took a long drag, then handed back and headed to the vehicle.

0800 – Toronto General Hospital

"Fucking christ," Kevin cursed, hands clasping behind his neck as he turned away, head bowing and shaking.

Exhaling stiffly Alex glanced at Kevin in concern before averting back to Seto, gaze filtering over Yugi and Lysbet's somnolent expressions. His own mind was barely processing what had been divulged in the last half an hour, Seto explaining everything to them in a quiet submissive tone that Alex could barely match to the voice he knew.

Nothing was equating in terms of Seto. Yugi had apparently taken him to his apartment not long ago and got him to shower and buy a few sets of clothes; Graham was currently doing the same with Karel, along with picking up the girls. The normally stoic almost cocky man was slumped forward in the chair, head supported by his hands; baggy hoodie and jeans out of place for his normally well dressed self. Desolate cobalt eyes peered at him, exhaustion casting a grey hue through them.

"Do you honestly believe Arik?"

Head shaking, Seto answered. "I don't."

"Arik is a hard ass, and a bit of a psychopath," Kevin cut in. "But he doesn't strike me as a liar. He's an Urkas, at least if the rumours are true. They follow a rigorous honour code. If he promises something, he probably means it."

"Well, he did make the comment that he couldn't attest for Yevgeny."

Alex pursed his lips, "We also thought that they wouldn't attack without Yevgeny to give the order. Obviously that belief went far."

Kevin and Seto rose their brows at the sardonic comment, but did not disagree.

"Should we have police protection in here?"

Shrugging, Alex acknowledged Lysbet. "I'm not sure."

Arms crossing, Kevin added. "They probably won't do anything to him here. And I doubt they will do anything until they can find a way to get Yevgeny out of prison."

"With the evidence, there's no way a judge could be bribed to decide in favour of it, it would risk damaging their reputation too much. That video is pretty damning."

"True," Alex agreed, glancing at Seto. "But that wouldn't stop a guard from being bribed. Or for them to pull a stunt at the trial."

"The Solntsevskaya Bratva and the European branch of the Cheka-Soldaty have been stirred," Kevin murmured, leaning against the foot of the hospital bed. "Not surprising considering the Cheka's Pahkan is Yevgeny's cousin, and they are tightly tied in with the Solntsevskaya. My contacts there are keeping an eye on them, seeing if they decide to try and pull anything. As it stands, bail hasn't been posted yet, but as soon as it is I have a feeling like they will try and get him out and then smuggle him out of the country."

"Is there anyway to convince them to permanently detain him until the trial?" Yugi pressed.

"The evidence we have isn't substantial enough. We'd have to prove that he's involved with the Bratva and poses a risk of re-offending when he gets out, or at least that he is a danger to the public. And we'd have to prove that he is a flight risk," Kevin stated, exhaling dramatically, cheeks puffing out.

"It's possible. But, that is something they might be able to bribe a Judge into ignoring. We'd need a damn good lawyer to be able to dig all that evidence up and convince the court that it is the best option," Alex finished.

"Do you know of any?" questioned Seto.

"Two actually," Alex stated, tone optimistic. "Both are considered sharks in the industry, neither have ever lost a case. But, one has been more exposed to the media, she's been on a lot of high profile cases. She might be the better option."

"Calling someone never hurt no one," Kevin encouraged, the others nodding alongside him.

Shrugging, Alex shoved his hands in his jacket, "It's worth a shot. If we can keep Yevgeny behind bars, we stand a much greater chance at keeping Yami safe and shutting the gang down."

Feeling his phone buzz in his pocket, Alex grasped it and pulled it out, staring at the screen in surprise. "It's the district office, I have to take this, I'll be right back," with that he answered the phone with a gruff greeting and strode away from them.

Brows pinching, both in concern and curiosity, Kevin swivelled his attention away from Alex and focused it on Yami. "How were the results of his last blood test."

Yugi frowned, digits running through his hair as he answered, "The drug is almost out of his system. Hemodynamically he seems to be stable finally. His kidneys are still showing signs of shutting down, but it's lessening."

"That's good right?"

Head shaking, Yugi glanced at the red-haired Aussie, "Somewhat. The other problem that is remaining is his temperature, he still has a fever, and it's not showing any signs of reducing even with medication. It could be attached to the drug, or the kidney failure; but it should be subsiding if both of those factors are being rectified."

"Infection?"

"It's possible," the former nurse stated, leaning forward and crossing his arms on the edge of the bed he gently ran his hand over Hannibal's head. "We will know in two hours or so. If the drug is gone and his kidneys are stabilized, then it is more than likely an infection."

Heavy footsteps gained all of their attention, gazes turning to Alex as he trudged towards them, expression a mixture of elation and foreboding. Inclining his head to Kevin he signalled towards the elevator

"We need to head back to the station."

Confused, Kevin cockced his head, eyes narrowing. "Why?"

"That was the tech unit. Annushka, Yevgeny's wife, just turned in a bunch of DVD's that she found in the house. If what she says is on them is true, then we have what we need to lock that bastard up and keep him there."

Curiosity peaked, Seto demanded, "What is on the DVD's?"

Seeing all eyes bearing into him, the intensity uncomfortable, Alex swallowed hard and whispered, "The date stamp is Dec. 3, 2000; exactly twenty-four hours after they kidnapped Yami. If what Annushka said is true, it depicts what Yevgeny did to him in his cell. And, with how many tapes there are, it may show the entire three months that they had him captive."

Paleness entered all of their faces, along with elation and disgust, understanding to Alex's visible conflicting emotions from before was now clear. Lysbet covered her mouth in reaction, eyes closing as tears welled in her eyes, barely containing her emotions. Yugi, shock clear in his face, he reached over and tightly took hold of one of Lysbet's hands, squeezing it comfortingly. Kevin and Seto stared blankly forward, heads bowed, eyes contemplative.

A twinge of regret ran through him, but more of him was certain that he had made the right decision. Shifting his feet he caught Kevin's attention, "We need to head down to the station. The faster we get that evidence evaluated, the faster we can bring it to a judge and divert Yevgeny from getting bail."

Nodding, though comprehension was still slow to come, Kevin stood up, "Right then. If any of you need anything, anything at all, just give us a call," he directed the comment at Seto. Gaining slight nods in response Kevin pivoted and headed towards the elevator, Alex at his side, reluctance to leave radiating from both of them.

Cobalt eyes followed them to the elevator, watching them enter it and the doors close, blocking them from his view. Huffing he scrubbed his fingers through his hair, hanging his head he rested his elbows on his knees, hands still fisted in his hair. Exhaustion weighed heavy on him, causing his limbs to shake and his mind to race. An aggravated groan left him, eyes closing tightly in frustration.

"Should I take you to my place," Yugi questioned gently. "You need to get some sleep."

Head lifting just enough that he could see his friend, Seto shook his head. "Not yet."

Pursing his lips Yugi scowled in frustration, "If you pass out I'm going to kick you."

Glaring at him, Seto murmured. "I'll be fine for a few more hours, it's not like I have not pulled my fair share of all-nighters over my years working at Kaiba Corp."

"This is a different kind of exhaustion Seto," Lysbet stated firmly, uncovering her face and staring at him with bloodshot eyes brimmed with tears. "Having a loved one in critical condition will sap everything from you, believe me, this is my fourth time in this predicament. If you don't want to leave, you should at least sit back and try and sleep for a little while, you'll need your energy."

Scowling he leaned back in his chair, Seto did not disagree but his stubbornness was winning out.

Seeing the tightening of his friends shoulders, and the darkening of his eyes, Yugi puffed out his cheeks in annoyance. Rising up just enough he leaned over the bed and pelted Seto's nearest shoulder. Mentally swatting aside the glare he received without an effort, he glared just as furiously back.

"Stop being an idiot and sleep. If he wakes up, or something changes, we will wake you up. You are useless to him if you are beyond the point of exhaustion and not functioning."

Crossing his arms Seto huffed, but when he ducked his head to his chest and closed his eyes he signalled to his friend that he was unwillingly acquiescing. It did not take him long, his mind gratefully drifting off to sleep, his breathing leveling out and he relaxed fully into his chair.

Exhaling dramatically in relief Yugi turned his head to Lysbet, "When will Graham and Karel be back with the girls."

"Around supper time. Papa is sleeping first, Graham is keeping watch on the girls and is staying by the phone. There is no point in all of us being here the entire day, it would just be torture."

"True," Yugi agreed, scrubbing his face with his hands and yawning. Stomach gurgling and the final tips of tiredness sitting on his shoulders, Yugi rose up and stretched. "I'm going to grab a coffee and a snack, want anything?"

"Sure, whatever you want to grab," she murmured, hands returning to tightly holding her brothers, digits grazing over the bruises.

With a tight smile Yugi gave her shoulder a squeeze before venturing away. Hands shoving in his pockets forlornly he slowly walked towards the elevator. He needed the space, mind not coping well with seeing the state Yami was in as well as medically knowing how bleak the outlook was. Entering the elevator he drifted to the back and leaned against it, hand coming up to wipe away the tears that had began to fall the instant his back was to Lysbet. He needed this release.

Unconsciousness

Sand. Blistering sand encompassed his knees, replacing the bitter cold snow. The heat was overwhelming, a dry stifling heat that caused the wind to burn skin and the body to dehydrate at an alarming rate. The darkness was dissipating around him, though not fully evaporating. Rapidly, with a mirage quality, the world around him sharpened. It was night, but the brilliance of the stars above illuminated the world as if the moon was a bright as the sun. He was at the base of a small plateau, or hardened dune, peering towards the end of a small valley. A road weaved through at the end of the valley, appearing to be more of a path than a drivable road. The terrain was rough and hardened sand, with patches of looseness to catch a foot in and break it. The wind was mild, picking up the loose sand and spinning it around before moving on. Not far to the south of him he could see the lights of what could be a camp emitting from a cave in the distant hills. Though, through the flickering lights no movement could be discerned.

All of it was familiar, wracking his brain he tried to remember, then it clicked as the image of a humvee appeared at the bottom of the valley and snapped to a sudden halt. It backed up, disappearing from view, remaining hidden beyond the dune.

The crunch of heavy boots sinking into the hardened sand nearby snagged his attention. Twisting he was not surprised to see himself striding past, full military gear on, assault rifle casually slung across his chest with one hand on it, hair not visible beneath his helmet; all of it crusted with small splatters of blood. With grace, Ryker moved alongside him, the belgian malinois high on alert, continuing the glance behind at the struggling captives at the back of the group.

Fist rising into the air, Yami watched his younger self bring the group to a halt several meters from where the humvee was waiting at the end of the valley. A smile whine rose from Ryker, paws shifting antsily.

Striding up to him, one of his comrades murmured, "IED's?"

"Probably," Yami answered, loosening his grip on the leash, giving Ryker plenty of give to move around. "Hold everyone up here, I'll do a quick sweep. Radio the humvee and see if they can bring it around behind us."

"Roger that, Sarge," the man smartly saluted then meandered back towards the rest of the group, voice quietly explaining everything before clicking his radio to speak with the group in the humvee.

Reaching down, Yami gently rubbed Ryker's head, "Slow and steady buddy," the canine whined low and licked his hand. "Seek."

The next ten minutes consisted of him allowing Ryker to lead him around the area towards the road. Whenever Ryker would bark and sit down, he would pull out a neon flag and place it in the ground, marking the location. Nearing the centre of the area, Yami peered back at all the areas he had marked. There was a wide area that they could traverse towards the vehicle without detonating one of the IED's. He had already heard over the radio that the humvee could not go around, so the fact that they had a fairly clear path to the road eased his conscience. Clicking his radio he waved back at his crew.

"I've cleared the area, slowly make your way down here, all the IED's have been marked."

"Thanks Sargeant," came Kevin's voice over the radio, along with the man visibly waving from the far end of the valley nearly a kilometer away.

Sighing, Yami headed back towards the humvee, glancing towards the sky as he did so, "Over an hour late."

Ryker whined at him, rubbing his face against his thigh as they walked. Hand drifting down Yami scratched behind his partner's ears, trying to calm him. Once they reached the humvee he waved the men sitting in it, they rolled down the window and waved back.

"Any casualties?"

Yami nodded, "Three, they are in the bunker."

The driver nodded, expression solum, "Will have to send a crew out in the morning to retrieve them. Any wounded?"

"Minor," Yami answered, feeling a tug on the lead he glanced down at Ryker. His partner was whining again, front paws shifting. "Ryker, seek."

Immediately, the dog surged towards the front of the humvee, plopping into a sitting position with a bark barely a meter in front of it. Eyes wide Yami signalled to the driver to remain stationary, pulling out a flag from his bag he marked it then gently eased Ryker away.

"Sergeant, get down!"

Shrill screaming filled his ears, some of it sounded much akin to a war cry, while the others were his men. Freezing he glanced over his shoulder, the two hostages were barrelling towards him, two of his men hot on their tail while Kevin and Brett followed a few meters behind. Dropping to his knees he released his hold on Ryker's lead, kneeling between his partner and the IED he tightly protected his partner as the two prisoners stumbled towards him. When they didn't stop and continued past him, he tensed, knowing they were pretty much on top of the IED.

The explosion rocked the ground, flinging the humvee up end over end, setting off multiple IED's before it finally rested in a heap of metal and flames several yards away. The two prisoners were instantly engulfed in flames; the shock wave flung Yami and Ryker several feet, both tumbling to a halt directly in front of Kevin and Brett where they collapsed from the shock wave hitting them. His other two men, who had passed him trying to stop the prisoners, were shredded; their mutilated bodies landing nearby, one of them gurgling through his final breaths.

Kevin and Brett scrambled forward, each grabbing hold of Yami and Ryker and dragging them away from the flames, flinching as another explosion filled the night sky with flames and smoke, the gas tank in the humvee had finally melted. Gasping the two of them stared around them in horror. They knew their companions and the soldiers in the humvee were dead. Angry flames plumed into the sky, dark smoke twirling in it, engulfing the humvee and anything else nearby.

Voice hoarse, Kevin scrambled for his radio, yelling into it for backup and relaying their locating, still holding Yami desperately with his free hand.

Hands shaking Brett averted his gaze away and focused on Ryker, shaking the dog he heard an audible crunch. Going pale he shared a look of horror with Kevin before he ran his hand down the canine's neck, choking when he found the obvious deformity. Gently, he eased Ryker off his lap and onto the ground, tears forming in his eyes as he gave the incredible canine an affectionate and good-bye pet. Shuffling, he glanced down at Yami, panic filling him.

"Is he?"

Kevin shook his head, fingers smearing through the blood on Yami's neck as they pressed against the still pulsating jugular, his other hand unhooking Yami's helmet and chucking it away. "No, he's alive. Check him, see if you can find where the rest of this bleeding is coming from."

Giving a nod Brett flicked on the flashlight on the front of his helmet, allowing him to illuminate the area around them more intensely. Immediately the damage became visible, Yami's leg was mangled, most of his clothes on his left side were ripped or burned away. Seeing the blood pooling above Yami's hip, Brett signalled for Kevin to roll him. When he did, all Brett could see was mangled and burned flesh stretching all the way up Yami's back. Hands drenched in blood he shakily looked up at Kevin, expression desperate.

"What do we do, he'll bleed out…"

Head shaking, as if in denial, Kevin laid Yami flat - cushioning the bleeding gash on the back of his friends head with his jacket - trembling hands covering the centre of his thigh, trying to staunch the spot that seemed to be bleeding the most. "Put pressure wherever you can, the chopper won't be able to reach us for another twenty minutes, we have to keep him alive until then."

From where he was still kneeling, Yami stared at the scene before him. Tears had long stained his cheeks, his fists clenched tightly in his lap. He re-lived this event over and over again in his dreams, guilt stabbing him in the belly and clawing apart his mind. There was nothing he could have done to change it, but it still slowly disintegrated his sanity.

Feet crunched in the sand beside him, confused he glanced sideways, breath hitching when Bakura haphazardly dropped down beside him into a casually sitting position. Stunned he stared at him, confusion being replaced with grief and horror.

Seeming to feel his scrutiny, Bakura glanced at him, smiling wryly, "Don't make me blush, asshole."

Making to retort, Yami stumbled over his words, instead his mouth simply hung agape.

Bakura chuckled, attention drifting to absorb the scene in front of them, "Bout time I made you speechless. Though, I have a feeling that has something to do with it."

Swallowing hard, Yami nodded. Tentatively, he drifted one hand out, surprised and not when it found Bakura's solid and very real arm. The former cop turned to him, expression sullen.

"I'm still gone Yami. That's the only reason why I can talk to you, your consciousness is drifting around on the border of death and sleep. I know you saw your Mother earlier, she poked me in the right direction to find you."

"So that did happen," he murmured, seeing Bakura nod again he exhaled deeply, trying to steady the pain he was feeling. "Why is my mind replaying these…memories."

Almost pouting Bakura shrugged, expression as close to confusion at the man could muster.

"Probably has something to do with your life flashing before your eyes. Could have something to do with how bad of shape you are in, a mental way to beat yourself down so you don't fight." Clicking his tongue in thought, Bakura leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. "Which if it is, it can kindly fuck off. It's not your time yet."

Head dropping, Yami shook it, unable to process what he was hearing and seeing. He began to sob softly, hands clenched and angry pressing against his temples. Feeling Bakura's arm drift around his back he unconsciously leaned against him, trying to absorb the comfort from his friends strong figure.

"I see what you mean now," Bakura said softly, trying to gain Yami's attention. "This was fucking horrible. Makes perfect sense now why it nearly destroyed you."

"The whole mission was cursed," stammered Yami, voice barely audible.

Letting his cheek rest against the top of Yami's head, Bakura sighed deeply. "I need you to wake up Yami. If you die, everything I did was in vain; and I'll be right pissed if that happens."

"Why did you do it?"

Shoulders slouching, Bakura answered. "My death warrant was already signed. I had heard Arik talking about it with Kiril, Dmitri and Svenkov. With Yevgeny arrested, their reason for keeping me around was null and void, they had their excuse to get rid of me finally. They also had found out that I had leaked a bunch of information to the police and interpol. But, I'm much more glad that I went out the way I did, then the way I would have."

"You know this changes nothing, they will still come after me. You died for nothing, nothing but buying me some time before they come back. There is no way in hell that that is worth your life."

"As long as Yevgeny is in jail, they won't touch you. Arik is a terrifying bastard, but I can attest to his honesty, when he promises something he follows through. So no, my death was not in vain, it had a purpose."

"You've already done too much. You're the only reason I am still alive...you saved me from myself when I did not have the will to fight anymore."

"You only tried to commit suicide because you thought it would make those bastards leave everyone else alone. It had nothing to do with you not wanting to fight anymore, that is the one part of you that has never given up. So don't try and pull that shit with me."

Shifting, Yami peered at his friend, warm russet eyes bearing into his, "I was supposed to get you out of this."

Head shaking, Bakura frowned, "You knew that was never going to happen. As soon as my cover was blown I was dead. They just strung me along so that I could keep tabs on you and further their control over the police. We both always knew how this was going to end, you were just in denial." Hands coming up he cupped Yami's damp face, tone desperate. "You have so much to live for still. Your family needs you, and you need them; you need to be around for a hell of a lot longer than this to make up for the times that you stayed away. And you have Seto, I know it's scary and new but he is everything you have ever desired and deserved; he will be your rock. Your family and Seto are your greatest support network, along with your friends; all of them will get you through this, you just have to let them. Don't let Yevgeny win, put that fucker six feet under. He deserves to burn in hell for what he did to you, and I'll make sure he makes it there, you just need to send him my way."

Trembling, mentally finally giving into what he knew was the truth, he launched himself forward, fervently embracing Bakura, ignoring the pain it caused. Arms wrapped around him just as tightly, both of them no longer succeeding at holding in their emotions. Burying his face against Bakura's shoulder Yami gasped out.

"Thank you...I love you…"

"I love you too. Now wake up!"

1700 – Toronto General Hospital

"The surgery was successful," Dr. Selkirk stated, glancing around at the faces locked on his, he could see hope in their eyes. It crushed him, especially with the knowledge he had. "We put in the metal rod to hold the bone fragments in alignment. Everything went back together as well as to be expected. However, there is still some pretty extensive damage done to the muscles, and some of his nerves have been damaged. I honestly don't know how well he is going to be walking after this, it will all depend on how well the muscles and nerves heal."

Yugi, Lysbet and Seto's hope faded, it did not fully dissipate, but it's strength was severely depleted.

Finding his voice, Yugi questioned. "How is everything else holding up?"

Fiddling with his pen in his lab coat pocket, Dr. Selkirk expounded. "Better. Hemodynamically he is fine, obviously or we would not have done the second surgery. He started breathing on his own, and we have kept the tube out of his throat and replaced it with the non-rebreather mask as you can see. The drug has been out of his system for several hours. His kidney function is returning, very slowly but it's a start; and his fever is reducing. We also did a CT scan before the surgery, there is no brain damage that we can see, so there is that as well. Also, once we were done surgery I ceased the flow of the drugs we have been using to keep him comatose. Now he just needs to wake up."

"So the only bleak outlook is his ability to walk?"

Dr. Selkirk glanced at Lysbet, half nodding, "Partially. He also needs to wake up. If he stays in this comatose state, he may not wake up."

"Oh," she murmured, glancing down at her brother she swallowed hard, emotions welling within her. "I thought you said he woke up after the initial surgery, so that shouldn't be too much of a concern."

Head shaking, Dr. Selkirk frowned sadly, "No. He was never conscious, just visibly responding to the pain that he was in. I am hoping, that he stayed in that state then because of the dug and its effects. But, for now, we are just going to keep things how they are until he does. Do you have any further questions for me?" Seeing them shake their heads, he bobbed his own. "Alright, I'll be doing my rounds. If you need anything just grab one of the nurses."

Hannibal gave a small whine, tongue darting out like it often had today to lick Yami's face, not understanding why his partner wasn't responding to him, but also knowing that something was very wrong.

Dejectedly, Seto extended his arm across the bed and gently smoothed his hand down Hannibal's flank, trying to soothe the canine.

Lysbet pulled her somewhat wild hair into a messy bun, contemplative gaze staying on Hannibal. The canine had only left Yami's side during the surgery, Seto taking him for a brisk walk around the entire hospital exterior. He had barely touched the water they had brought him, and the food hadn't even been sniffed at. She was concerned, not only for her brother but for Hannibal; the poor dog had never been away from Yami for any sort of extended period of time, she wasn't sure if he could cope.

"Getting him to leave tonight is going to be difficult, especially if Yami doesn't wake up."

Yugi gave a grunt in agreement. "Do you think, if we can get him away, that he will stay away. I mean, your place might be far away but I can't imagine that Hannibal would not try and get out and make his way here."

"He'd probably succeed too," Seto added. "Damn dog is smarter than most people."

"We are just going to have to risk it," Lysbet rubbed the back of her neck. "They won't let him stay, not without someone here to monitor him."

"Speaking of accomodations, are you going to stay with me or Lysbet?"

Blinking, bemused, Seto shrugged, "Hadn't thought about it yet."

"Well, like I told you before. Both of you, and Hannibal, can stay at my place. You can have the entire basement until the house is rebuilt, or whatever Yami ends up doing. It'll be good for him, he'll have a lot of people around to help him heal."

"I spend more time over there than at my apartment," Yugi admitted, adding to the argument, seeing Seto's incredulous narrowed eyes, he scowled. "You know how shitty of a cook I am, at least Lysbet can somewhat cook, same with Graham. It's better than the boxed stuff I try and create."

"So...I'm staying with Lysbet, and it sounds like Yami doesn't get a choice in where he is going."

"Nope," was the unanimous response.

Giving a bob of his head, Seto pursed his lips, tone sardonic, "Yay...family time."

Eyes rolling, Lysbet stood up from where she was sitting on the edge of the bed and stretched her arms in the air. Rolling her neck to stretch out the kinks in it she rubbed it with her fingers. "Graham and Karel should be here any minute now with the girls. I have to run to the washroom then I'm grabbing another coffee from the cafeteria, you two need a top up?"

"Sure," came the dual answer.

"Black, Seto? Half full of cream and sugar, Yugi?"

Both men nodded in assurance.

Confident, she smiled somnolently at them then trekked away.

Exhaling dramatically in exhaustion Yugi buried his face in Hannibal's side, the furry pillow protested and grunted at him, a wet tongue slobbering his forehead. Head shifting so he could stare at the dog, Yugi grumbled, "You are not part of the, 'German Shepherds make amazing pillows,' memo are you?" Gaining a snort for an answer Yugi propped himself up. "Fine, spoil sport."

Shuffling Seto sighed indignantly at Yugi, amused but too tired to show it. Reaching the top of the bed, he leaned his elbows on the mattress, one hand tenderly reaching out to caress Yami's forehead and brush aside golden bangs. There was some colour in his skin again, it was still pale, but the bronze hue was returning slowly. The tube no longer being in his throat was an immense relief, the sight of the mask misting with every breath Yami took of his own was even more reassuring. Almost tentative, Seto took hold of Yami's hand, caressing it just as softly. Worry raged through him in a way he could not comprehend, he desperately wanted it to go away, for Yami to wake up and for the nightmare to start dissolving.

Quietly, Yugi watched his friend tenderly touching his cousin, fingers featherlight as if he was afraid Yami would crumble beneath the weight. It warmed him to see it. Even when Seto's last relationship had been at its best, he never saw Seto and his ex be this affectionate with one another, Seto always seemed uncomfortable with public displays. With the relationship in his head, he mentioned a thought that had been running through him all day from watching Seto clearly restraining himself from giving it away.

"When are you going to tell her? Or you know, anyone other than myself, Kevin and Graham."

Glancing at Yugi, eyes narrowing in astonishment, "They know?

Incredulous, Yugi facepalm. "Did you not see them wink at you in the vaults, they saw your little exchange, even an idiot would have been able to read into it."

Bristly, Seto grunted, "Is it honestly appropriate to drop another bomb on everyone's lap, I doubt some in this group even know that he's gay."

"I think it would be worse if you didn't tell them and they find out in other ways."

"Other ways?"

Clearly annoyed, Yugi signalled with waving hands at what was currently transpiring, "You don't exactly do that to a friend…"

He could discern voices. Familiar, speaking quiet and rapid, the words in Japanese too fast for his exhausted mind to translate. The world was bright beyond him, his eyelids shielding him from its intensity, however a near blinding red met him instead. Annoyed he felt his face scrunch up in discomfort, sensations hitting him in rapid fire succession. Headache, nausea, bone weary exhaustion, inflamed joints that burned from fever, and pain. Inhaling sharply he felt his hands tighten, one around a large hand that was engulfing it, the other he felt his nails dig into his palms. A soft warm tongue licked the back of his free hand, encouraging him to open his eyes.

"Yami?"

Blearily he peaked his eyes open, adjusting to the bright glare around him, reduced by two figures looming over him. Blinking he tried to force his vision to adjust, finally bringing into somewhat clarity the two elated faces staring down at him.

"I'm going to grab one of the nurses," Yugi stated, one warm hand rubbing his shoulder with assurance before he disappeared from his view.

"Yami?"

Hearing that voice again he somnolently peered up at Seto, mind barely processing the beaming smile and tears brimming in cobalt eyes. He could feel trembling fingers running through his hair, the sensation soothing. Shuddering from the shiver of pleasure it caused, soft tender pleasure, he tried to keep his drifting vision on Seto. Realising whose hand it was that was holding his, he squeezed it in assurance, not trusting his voice to work. Feeling the wet tongue again he tentatively reached down and found Hannibal's seeking head, weakly he stroked it, hearing excited whining he felt his body begin to calm.

"You're in the hospital," Seto murmured, voice shaking just as much as his hands, elation soaring through him at seeing Yami awake even if not very alert. "You're in the ICU."

Foreign hands placed themselves on his shoulder, glancing over he spotted a doctor checking the monitors then staring down at him intently, smile warm.

"Hello Yami, do you know where you are?"

He gave a small nod.

"Do you remember what happened?"

Another slow nod.

"Good good. How are your pain levels?"

Jaw grinding, he shook his head, his grip on Seto's hand increasing. The doctor seemed to understand, he nodded and began to fiddle with the IV drip.

"I've increased your dose of morphine. Are you dizzy, nauseous?"

Nodding he felt the world begin to spin, face scrunching again in discomfort he felt the tremors in his body slowly increase.

"I'll grab you something for that alright. Relax Yami, take it easy for a few minutes, I'll be right back."

Yugi moved to where the doctor was, his soft smile comforting, violet eyes warm same with the hands that gently caressed his arm and face. "You've had us all pretty scared, Yami, we almost lost you."

Voice gravely, he gasped through the mask, "Is everyone...ok?"

Both of their faces became grave, Seto gave a nod in answer. "Yes; Karel, Hannibal and I are all fine." Seeing relief in hazy garnet orbs, Seto heaved a sigh. "How much do you remember?"

"Everything," Yami ground out, breathing heavily he gripped the bed railing. "Raise bed...please...can't breathe."

Quickly, Yugi pressed the button on the side of the bed, one hand steadying Yami by pressing against his chest he allowed the bed to raise into a semi-seated position till Yami tapped his arm in signal to stop. Fussing, Yugi fixed the blanket where it had pooled at his cousins waist, then adjusted the mask so it sat better on his face. Trained eyes watching Yami's chest ease, breathing reducing to a slower more rhythmic rate. Hearing footsteps Yugi glanced sideways and shuffled backwards, Dr. Selkirk skirting past him and injecting a medication into the IV line.

"There," Dr. Selkirk shoved the needle into the nearby sharps container. "That should help with the nausea. Has the pain started to go down?"

"Yes, thanks."

With a smile, Dr. Selkirk shoved his hands in his pockets, "Do you think you can handle some water, or ice cubes? Your throat is probably very dry." Gaining a slow nod he stepped away. "I'll send a nurse over with it. Try not to move too much, your system is pretty fragile still. I'll check back in a little bit."

Watching the doctor stride away, Seto heaved a dramatic sigh of relief, exchanging a matched worried look with Yugi, he leaned over and continued to gently run his digits through blonde bangs. Pale eyes stared up at him, somnolent and drained, swallowing hard he felt his throat go try as the words formed. "I'm sorry...I'm so sorry, I was too late."

As tears began to trail down his cheeks, Seto stiffened as the weakened hand in his squeezed his, seeing forgiveness in crimson orbs and feeling it in the grip he bowed down and rested his forehead against Yami's. Nuzzling the still feverish brow he exhaled shakily before pressing a soft kiss against a warm temple, "The firefighters couldn't save the house. But, they got Bakura out, and apparently they were able to remove the vehicles from the garage before it was engulfed. There's some fireproof boxes that were recovered, and your military cases were all saved."

Mustering up a joking, though haggard, tone Yami murmured, "Goed, Opa zou uit het graf zijn opgestaan en mij hebben gedood als die auto was beschadigd."

"Say what?" Yugi questioned.

Groaning Yami tiredly waved dismissively, "Sorry, brain too tired for English."

"Take it easy then," Yugi chided gently. "You've been through hell over the past seventeen hours. Your system is probably overloaded."

"You sound different too, you sound like…," Seto started.

"Like Papa," Lysbet's voice cut in from the edge of the bed. Hurriedly she placed the tray of coffees on the nearby end table. Hurried, Seto moved out of her way. Shuffling around, tears in her eyes, she sat down on the edge of the bed and quickly enveloped Yami tightly. With barely any energy, she felt his arms encircle her waist, embracing her with as much fervour as he could muster. Feeling the weakness she increased her hold, raining soft kisses on his face, one of her hands tenderly rubbing the back of his neck. Then, she heard him speak, voice soft and in Dutch. In that moment, the world melted away, leaving just them.

"I saw Mama."

Pulling back she peered down at him, hands encompassing his face, caressing it gently. "When you were unconscious? Did she say anything?"

He nodded, shifting he buried his head against her shoulder, "It's not my time, and to never stop fighting."

Feeling a smile spread across her cheeks, Lysbet's voice choked, "And are you going to listen to her?" He nodded, the motion barely noticeable. Releasing a relieved and shaky breath she wrapped her arms around his neck, her head resting against his. "You have no idea how badly I've needed to hear you say that, for your to understand just how much you are loved. I've been so scared that you weren't going to fight this, that you weren't going to come back to me. I love you, I don't want to lose you."

"I'm sorry," he heaved out, voice barely above a whisper. "I never should have shut you out."

"It's alright, I understand why, and I don't blame you for it. Just please, never shut me out again, never shut any of us out."

"I promise."

"I'm sorry, about Bakura, I know how much he meant to you," she said gently, she bit her lip nervously as his trembling increased, tears began to soak her shoulder. Soothingly she held him, hands rubbing slow circles on his back. "I'm sorry."

From where he stood, his body was frozen. His mind began screaming at him, just as it did before. The tone vicious. Even with the girls and Graham at his side, he suddenly felt alone, as if he was hitting a brick wall as they all continued forward.

'You don't belong here, you don't deserve to be here. Leave, you pitiful disgrace for a father.'

His little girl, his baby boy; crying and enveloped around each other tore at his very core. Instinct told him to go to them, to hold and comfort. But, his mind, in that horrid voice told him otherwise.

'You ruined him. You abandoned him. You don't deserve their love.'

His feet shuffled, preparing to turn, to leave. A small hand held his, forcing him to acknowledge the eyes staring at him intently. All three men stared at him with a mix of pity and revulsion, anger that he did not know if he could ever quell. The girls watched him in confusion, both not understanding the emotions raging between everyone around them, though they could feel the tension in the air. Even if they didn't understand it, the emotions were palpable from their intensity, making them shift their feet in discomfort.

'Look what you've done to your family. She'll never forgive for hurting her children. You monster.'

"Opa," Emmy's voice cut through his fog, pulling on him, drawing his attention down to her sweet face. "Is Nonkel ok? Why are we stopping? Why are they crying?"

He couldn't form words.

Graham sensed this, frowning sadly at him before kneeling down and taking hold of Emmy's hands he explained gently, "Nonkel is very sick, but he will be ok. They're crying because they are sad. Nonkel lost a very good friend last night, Bakura passed away."

"Did the bad men hurt him?"

"Yes sweetie, the bad men hurt them."

"Is Mr. Bakura in heaven with the angels, he was a nice man, he was always really nice to me."

With a tight smile, Graham nodded. "Yes, he's in heaven now."

"Oh, that's good. Are the bad men going to jail?"

Pursing his lips, Graham shook his head, "They got away, the police have to go catch them now."

"Is Nonkel safe?"

"We'll protect him, don't worry sweetie, he's safe with us." Rising up he lifted Emmy and strode towards the others, a encouraging hand on Rei's shaking back, the young girl timidly taking his offered courage and walking forwards. With a directed look over his shoulder, Graham signalled to his side at the end of the hospital bed, pointedly drawing Karel from his stupor and over to them. Satisfied that Karel responded, even if the man was curled in on himself, Graham shifted his hold and handed Emmy off to Yugi.

Taking her, Yugi taped on Lysbet's shoulder, smiling at her when she pulled back and wiped tears from her eyes. Seeing Yami doing the same Yugi gave him a moment to compose himself and for Lysbet to stand up before he assisted Emmy in sitting on the bed. She squirmed from him quickly, shuffling on her little knees she gave Hannibal space but barely gave Yami time to react before she wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her face against his chest. Heart reflexively tightening Yugi lowered his gaze; Rei took that moment to snuggled up beside him, draping an arm around her shoulders he rested his chin atop her head, rubbing her back soothingly.

"Emmy, be care…"

"It's fine Libby," Yami assured, voice still quiet and accented. Hands coming up he held the little girl close, feeling her trembling he reached up and removed the non-rebreather mask. He couldn't fix the IV's, or all the other machines, but at least if the mask was gone perhaps the shaking in her little body would subside. She looked up at him, having felt him shuffling, a bright smile crossing her features. Smiling, albeit tiredly, he gently leaned forward and rested their foreheads together.

"That mask is kind of scary looking isn't it?"

She nodded, a tiny hand tracing over the imprint it had left on her uncles face. "What does it do?"

"It helps me breathe better," picking the mask back up he let her take it, she shifting so she was sitting on his good leg, curiously turning the device over in her hands. "It takes the air that we breathe normally and makes it super concentrated, so it's more clean and easier to breathe in."

"And you need it because the bad men hurt you and made you sick?"

"Yes," somnolently he smoothed back some of the loose golden curls around her face. The mask was suddenly against his face again, holding still he watched her try and put it back on, succeeding somewhat he smiled at her and adjusted it. "Thank you."

Small hands, curious, poked at the IV's in his elbow, "Is that medicine?"

"It is."

"Will it make you better," her bottom lip trembled, hands fisting in his hospital gown, tears coming to her eyes. "You won't go to heaven with Mr. Bakura right? You'll stay here with me forever."

Stiffening Yami pulled her close, holding her against his chest as she began to sob. Laying small kisses against her head, he whispered to her. "I will never leave you Emmy, never. I love you too much to leave you."

Through sobs, she stammered out, "Promise."

"I promise."

Wiping tears from her eyes, Lysbet leaned over and encouraged Emmy off of the bed, holding her she stared down at her brother. He seemed exhausted, eyes barely staying open as his hands drifted down to pet and pay attention to Hannibal. One hand lifting she ghosted it over his face, one of his took hold of it and squeezed it knowingly.

"I'm going to take her home. I'll see you in the morning, get some rest," she kissed the back of his hand. "I love you."

"Love you too."

"Seto, we should head out," Lysbet stated as she passed him.

Nodding at her, he rose up and leaned over the bed. Resisting he smiled down at him, gently caressing his arm before taking hold of his hand. Crimson eyes seared into him, the hand he was holding squeezing tightly. Seeing the pleading in those eyes he could not hold back, Yugi may have been right, but finding the words right now was impossible. Internally cursing he shifted the mask aside, tenderly he pressed his lips against Yami's, sighing contently as he did so. Yami trembled beneath him then relaxed, the action soothing his just as much. Retracting he smiled, the sentiment returned by Yami, who stared up at him appreciatively and tired.

Graham, clearing his throat, gained all of their attention; taking great pleasure in the deep set blush on Yami's face and Seto's abashed one. "About time you two made it public, only took a near death experience."

Shakily, Yami scowled at him, moving to flip him off but thinking better of it.

"Funny man," Seto glowered, though taking in the looks he was receiving, only one of them was shocked, the rest were elated and amused. However, Yami's hand gripping his again signalled towards his reaction to Karel's clearly astonished expression. Averting he could see Yami staring at his lap, both hands holding his nervously.

Pointedly, after seeing Yami's reaction, Graham stared at his future father in law, gaining the man's attention. His scowl seemed to force Karel into composing himself. "We should head out though, you need to get some sleep Yami."

"Hannibal?"

"He'll stay with us," Graham assured.

Giving a nod, Yami loving stroked the top of the canine's head, "Be a good boy and stay with Lysbet and Graham. Alright Hanny, I'll see you soon."

Whining, but listening to his partners request, he licked Yami's face before jumping down from the bed and trotting over to Graham's side. Sad brown eyes watched as each person, save Karel, hugged his partner. Then, with a final whine, he followed them to the elevator; taking a small comfort in Seto's hand as the man rubbed his ears.

Yami watched them disappear, exhaustion overwhelming him he didn't even bother flattening the bed before closing his eyes. He hoped for peaceful dreams.