A/N: this is inspired by ARCatSK's wonderful fanart: "You Monsters..". It's on DeviantART. I will add a link to my profile because ffnet won't let me add a link.

Without the spaces. It's beautiful. This is a platonic relationship fic. However if you want to think of it as the beginning to something more, then knock yourself out. Enjoy and please heed the warnings.

Aftershocks

Chapter One

The security guards betrayed him.

In a way, he maybe deserved what was going on now and what would most probably happen next. It was his fault he didn't personally handpick the people in charge of his safety. His brother's safety. It was so cliché it actually made him cringe. Especially at this time when he should have been more careful, with the unrest going on amongst the Big Five and the stunt they pulled with the Virtual Reality game and teaming up with Pegasus before that…

Their plan didn't work. Obviously, however, that wasn't going to deter them. He had woken from the pod he had been trapped in, unable to leave except by winning that game that went just too far for it to be legal. The last thing he remembered was the face of one of the frankly shit security team, a blinding pain in his temple, followed by complete darkness.

It was a bad day from the start right up—or down—to this exact moment as he regained his grasp on reality.

A part of him thought that perhaps waking up in and of itself was a gratifying notion. After the past few weeks, with Mokuba's kidnapping and what just happened in the game, he now knew the Big Five would do anything to stay in power and it was impossible to keep a positive outlook on things. It was difficult, therefore, to find joy in consciousness with the pounding headache that felt as though it was trying to tear his head apart, and the fact that he realized he was bound, hand and foot.

It suggested that perhaps this day was getting worse and worse every passing second.

He opened his eyes with difficulty, almost crying at how bad the pain behind his eyes was. He pulled at his arms, confirming with sight and hearing, along with sensation that, indeed, he was shackled both hands and feet by long, sturdy, scary-looking shackles. The manacles easily surrounded his limbs, fitting around them not tight enough to kill circulation, but enough for him to feel them pressing against his skin. And from them, extended very thick, very ominous-looking chains, which were long enough to allow him the slightest of movements in his very same position, but no more than half a step from where he was held. The end was attached to a loop that was embedded very –very—securely into the wall of the…

Just where was he?

He took a look around him, for the first time starting to shiver heavily, not because of the cold –although it was cold in here—but because of the fear that suddenly started gnawing at the pit of his stomach.

The place looked like something out of a lame, historical horror movie. It was very dark. He couldn't see the far corners of it. It had no windows at all, and the only way out seemed to be the bars that constituted the door of the place. The stone, which the whole…cell –for there was no other word for it—was made of, was damp. He felt the coldness of the place seeping through his clothes to cool his flesh, making him shiver more and more…

It reminded him of Pegasus' dungeons.

He pulled experimentally at the shackles, only to find out that there was no way at all out them. He reprimanded himself mentally, because…really, he could see and feel that there was no way out of them; so why was he frustrating himself even more by trying to pull on them? What, was he checking to see how helpless he was?

He blinked, trying to force his eyes to adjust to the dim, almost nonexistent light. Where was he? What was going on? It was very, very obvious the Big Five were behind this. He knew this was, as it always was, about Kaiba Corporation. He just didn't understand what the purpose of this was and how his kidnap was going to solve anything. He owned the controlling interest in the company. There was no point in this, as opposed to when Mokuba was the one kidnapped. Back then, they had used his little brother to try and persuade him to give up his control of the company. What was the point of making a move on him now?

He shifted, adjusting his position, because his right foot was dead, and the chains were digging into his thigh rather painfully. Once more, he took another look around him, examining the place, whose corners he could actually see right now. It was not much different from when he first examined the place. The only conclusion he came to was that the place was completely bare except for himself and the chains he was attached to and a huge basin in the corner with a faucet attached to its far edge. The pipes were rusty but, as with everything in the place, looked very sturdy and menacing.

Fear was a feeling he was familiar with. Naturally, it wasn't a very pleasant feeling. He thought he had left it behind so many years ago. The past few weeks showed him that perhaps he was too naïve to think he wasn't going to feel this afraid ever again.

He worried about Mokuba… about Yugi. No, it wasn't Yugi. It was his other self. There was no way the person who stood with him facing the five-headed dragon was Yugi. He worried they may not have gotten out of the pods. He didn't want anyone getting involved with the mess KaibaCorp was going through. He didn't want anyone getting hurt in the process that didn't involve them at all.

The worry was a bit muted than when Mokuba was outright kidnapped, though. At least now those idiots realized that he was the only one that was supposed to get involved in any shit related to the corporation. He was glad it was him, this time, without involving Mokuba or anyone else.

He was human, though. He was still scared, the fear coiling tightly in the pit of his stomach and making his heart race uncomfortably.

So, he leaned his back against the wall, pulled his legs up, knees brought closer to his chest, and placed his hands on them, looking at the door and trying to force his heart to stop thundering in his chest.

And there, like that, he waited.


Seto was missing.

Yugi didn't know if this was supposed to be as terrifying as it should be or bordering on hilarious. Now that his grandfather was safe home and the nagging worry about him subsided, he had time to really think of what happened over the past few weeks. The Kaiba brothers were obviously in a very bad position right now. First with Seto vanishing, then Mokuba's kidnap right before them, then Seto's near suicide. After getting things straight with Yami and making sure he knew how horrified he was he was just letting Seto kill himself over a duel, no matter how important it was or what was at stake, he had witnessed for himself how things had gotten worse for the Kaiba brothers. Even after setting them free from Pegasus and the Big Five's dangerous virtual game…

They had all exited the pods to find Anzu and Honda waiting for them, looking relieved. After a short explanation, they found out that the security had been trying to break into the room, but suddenly stopped and left them alone. Mokuba had immediately gone searching for Seto. After looking for him in the room where his pod had been and not finding him there, then systematically going through all the places he could be at in the whole building, realization dawned on them.

The Big Five were nowhere to be found either. The black suited security had disappeared as well. there was no trace of them anywhere. There was no trace of Seto, anywhere.

It wasn't difficult to put two and two together.

Mokuba was frantic… and Yugi was sympathetic. The younger Kaiba was terrified. And although he had all of them huddled all around him, Yugi knew he felt very lonely.

He could relate. He put himself in Mokuba's place and it didn't feel very nice. Yami may be strange. He was an alien presence in his mind and, deep down, he kind of scared him in quite a substantial way. But he was the most dependable person in his life. With Yami whatever worries he had dulled. The anxiety that used to ruin his life and relationships and his ability to deal with any situation was getting less crippling with every new challenge they faced together. Solid and steadfast and so comforting, Yami was in Yugi's back, his own back providing support he could lean on without fear of falling.

He imagined Seto was the same for Mokuba. The thought of Yami's strength disappearing from his life for any reason left him uneasy.

That unease mirrored, on a surprisingly smaller scale, the agitation he felt radiating from the presence within his own mind. It was a bit of a surprise, in all honesty.

He stood to the side, as Mokuba tried contacting the police to explain that Seto was missing. They were giving him a hard time and Yugi could feel his nervousness growing but he wasn't sure if it his own feelings about the situation, or Yami's bleeding through.

"Yami, are you alright?" he felt he needed to ask through their mind link.

Yami stood in the corridor between their rooms. His eyes were dark, expression unreadable.

"I do not like this, Aibou," Yami replied, his voice low. "These men have proven they are harmful. I do not like the idea of Kaiba in their hold while we wait for help to find him."

Yugi blinked. "I don't know what we can do, Yami," for some reason, he sounded so apologetic to his own ears. He knew he was being useless to Yami, as usual… for some reason, he felt that helping Seto was so important to Yami and he was unable to do anything to help.

He couldn't understand what exactly was happening between his other self and the older Kaiba. It wasn't hate and it couldn't be mere rivalry. Yami had felt so much anger at Seto's defeat at Pegasus' hands that his self-control broke, letting him take over Yugi's body to emerge livid and promising a dark end to the white-haired older man. The agitation Yami was feeling now at Seto's absence added to the puzzle of how Yami felt towards the callous, stone-hearted brunet.

Yami didn't answer him. He stood thoughtful in the middle of the corridor, not moving and not giving any other comment on the situation, but his tension so palpable, it made Yugi want to gasp.

Mokuba was currently hurling his phone at the wall, letting out a cry of frustration while surrendering to the tears that had been threatening to fall ever since he couldn't find Seto where he was supposed to be, almost two hours ago. Yugi rushed over to his side and placed a hand on his shoulder. The kid looked so panicked and wild, as if he was going mad. He wrapped his arms around his shoulders, letting him fall apart like he wanted.

Within his own mind, Yami was hitting his fist against the wall of their joined corridor in frustration.


It turned out to be even more cliché than he initially thought.

It was actually very stupid. And he didn't know what the point behind it was.

Apparently, where their wits and strategy failed miserably, they realized that they had no other option except brute force to persuade him.

Literally.

They had appeared before him. Ugly and evil looking as ever. They made sure to let him know why he was here. They were going to 'persuade him' to give up KaibaCorp's ownership to them and disappear out of the picture forever.

He hated the disadvantage of being on the ground and having to stare up at those five idiots. He hated having to look up at them as they sneered and snickered among themselves as if they were so sure that whatever came next would surely make him change his mind and give up the empire he had worked hard to get to. He was so angry.

He knew, though. Deep down, he knew he was using his anger at the situation to mask the fear that was otherwise going to drown him in the undertows of its paralyzing myriad of reactions, starting from unnoticeable sweat slicking his bound hands up to pleas for mercy that he knew he wasn't going to get at the hands of these monsters who had proven the word didn't exist in their dictionary at all.

It didn't matter, anyway. Both the anger and fear were accompanied by a split second of humiliation and utter indignity and all of those mashed up together when he was grabbed by the locks of his brown hair to properly expose his face to the large, meaty fist of one of the goons hired for this purpose specifically…

The first few blows were useful. To him and to his captors.

They had used the daze he had passed into from the shock of pain and brutal display of violence to render him unresponsive for a few precious minutes. They had used those minutes well. He was unshackled from the wall, but not to be released completely. The chain was attached to the ceiling, pulled tightly and fixed securely so he was pulled almost to his tiptoes, hands bound above his head to expose every part of his body to whatever they had in store for him next.

He had taken advantage of those few minutes as well. But not intentionally, or with a well thought out plan like them. The first few blows hurt like nothing ever did before. He could feel the bruises already forming. Along his left jaw and cheekbone. The second blow's weight had landed entirely on his left cheekbone and the arch of his brow… the skin broke. It was all a big myriad of unpleasant feelings; sudden burning, lasting stinging and dull ache that melted into the sensations from the blow that followed. He was paralyzed with it, letting them move him as they pleased, but he started noticing something. The pain and its sub-categories of unpleasant sensations became one constant ache and he started getting numb to the blows.

He wasn't given enough time to recover enough to start realizing the exact damage done. It all blended together, to form a huge, unidentifiable period of massive agony that he couldn't even begin to discern where its boundaries were.

He didn't think of it. It was easier to just think of the pain of one big period of time than to try and think of what kind of pain will be caused by the next blow and where exactly it was going to land. He allowed himself to let his thoughts wander away. There was no other way for it. He had to disconnect, otherwise, he would weaken. He had to focus on the hideous pattern on the cheap, black polyester suit the solid wall of flesh inflicting continuous blows on him with the persistence and tirelessness of someone doing this for a living on regular basis.

He realized the futility of his efforts, however, when his evidently inappropriate response to the savage beating he was receiving annoyed the large thug. He was obviously expected to give a more dramatic response than the lifeless way with which he hung from the ceiling, making no sound except very rarely when the breath was beaten out of his body, gasping only softly when the pain became too much. The response too meager compared to the physical effort placed behind the blows. Drowning in the laughter and evil little chuckles emitted from the Big Five and the other thugs present in the cell.

Generally, being disappointing…

The laughter had died down. They were bored with his substandard response. Naturally, the efforts were increased to try and tear a more apt response from him.

The scream of agony that erupted from very deep within him echoed for many seconds after a muted, sickening snap was heard when a fist collided with his right side. It wasn't the first time since this nightmare started. It wasn't even the strongest hit he had received so far. But, it was the most thought out one. It was placed right at the angle his ribs formed to taper backwards towards his back… with just the right position chosen and the proper application of force and the bone gave.

He didn't realize that his eyes had clenched shut against the pain. He didn't realize that perhaps he made more sounds than just that tormented scream that escaped him unchecked. He didn't realize that his hair was sticking to the sides of his face and the back of his neck, soaked with sweat and—towards his face—blood and tears that flowed out of tear ducts that have been hollow and abandoned for years and were now spilling their contents unchallenged by any self restraint he might have possessed. It was instincts at work. Involuntary body reactions when the natural response to move away from the pain, curl up around it and flex to protect himself against it, failed…

But after the initial agony faded for just an iota… his very second nature kicked in.

Flushed with humiliation at weakening and showing it, he kept his eyes clenched shut and buried his wet face into his stretched-taut right upper arm. His pride flared with pain much more considerable than his physical one, making him bite hard onto his lower lip to silence any further cries of pain trying to tear through him. He breathed heavily through his nose, trying to calm himself and get his reaction to the pain under some semblance of control…

He was still trying –and failing—to do so when someone spoke.

"You don't have to put yourself through this, Seto… you know what to do. Just sign the papers…"

He was disgusted to feel one of them touching him. A fat, meaty hand was on his hair. It was probably meant to be a fatherly pat on the head…

His eyes slid open. Just small slits, half blinded by the pain and hazy with the tears burning them. He couldn't see clearly who was in front of him. The sentiment was the same, however.

Before he could stop himself, he had gathered whatever his fear-dried mouth could produce from saliva and with all the anger and fear that dominated his senses at that moment, spat in the man's face.

It gave him a huge measure of satisfaction to see the man cringe back in shock, releasing his hold on his hair. He summoned his best glare even though he couldn't see very clearly, but making sure to put as much venom into his look as he could summon, determinedly keeping his eyes open. He did not know if he was going to get out of this alive; he decided to get as much pleasure as he could from any source he could find. And right now, there was nothing more pleasing to the eye than watching the older man wiping away the wetness on his face with a handkerchief he produced from his pocket.

It was a stupid thing to do, he knew that.

And he braced himself for the consequences of his childish need to piss off his captors.

Or at least, he tried to.

He didn't know how much longer passed. He lost all sense of time and place. At some moments, he lost all sense of position as well. His perception of time was altered. It now became random bits and pieces consisting of short, transient moments of terror and anxiety as he wondered where the next blow would land, and longer, more blissful stretches of time, where he almost slipped into the gentle, but ever-elusive unconsciousness.

He was just grateful when he realized that it all stopped for now. The horrifying snap heard over his ribs had repeated twice more. His left wrist and one of his fingers. His left hand was cradled uselessly into his body which he realized was now in the corner of the room.

Unconsciously, he must have pulled himself there after they had let him down from the ceiling's shackles. He was curled up into fetal position. He didn't know if he was trying to make himself smaller or if it was a natural body reaction to the immense pain he was currently suffering from.

He couldn't dwell on it much longer. Darkness was at the edges of his vision and he chased it gratefully, hoping never to awaken again.


Yugi insisted Mokuba stayed with them.

Sugoroku made sure to usher the boy into the guest room, depositing towels and showing him to the bathroom and offering change of clothes. When he emerged from the shower, the old man continued his endless fussing, leading the way down to the kitchen, seating the boy and starting to make a hearty chicken noodle soup and urging Mokuba to eat.

Yugi knew the younger Kaiba's stomach was too tied up in knots to put anything in it. But there was no stopping his grandfather. He didn't even try. He kind of agreed with him, to be honest; he and the others had eaten when they got back from Duelist Kingdom. Considering the frankly suicidal manner both Kaiba brothers acted, Yugi wasn't so sure if they bothered eating anything. And so, he didn't lift a finger to try and help Mokuba.

Yami was frantic, Yugi observed as he sat quietly beside Mokuba as he grudgingly ate. He wasn't sure what to do to make his Dark settle down. He didn't even know why he was so anxious; he thought he hated Seto.

"I don't hate him, Aibou…" Yami corrected.

"Well, considering that you both almost killed each other last time you met, I find that hard to believe," he dryly answered. There was a small flinch from Yami, followed by silence and Yugi immediately realized his mistake, "I'm sorry…" he rushed, wanting to slap himself.

"Err…it's alright," Yami mumbled. Yugi cringed slightly at his lack of tact. He knew Yami regretted what happened at the top of the tower before the gates of the castle's entrance, leading them to the finals. It was a touchy subject for his Dark. He was usually more thoughtful when it came to it, but he had been careless. "But really… I don't hate him. He is a good friend."

Yugi couldn't help raising an eyebrow at him so he tutted impatiently, flushing.

"Alright, alright," Yugi rushed, not wanting to make his friend uncomfortable.

"We shouldn't be sitting idly like this while he is missing," Yami insisted.

"Look, I don't know what to do. We don't know where he is and we have no way of knowing where he is, the police have started an investigation so we should just let them do their job," Yugi finalized. He knew Yami did not like this, but there really wasn't anything else they could do but be there for Mokuba.

He expected Yami to argue. He didn't.

"Alright," his Dark softly replied, a thoughtful expression in his crimson eyes.

Yugi watched him reenter his Soul Room. Yugi stood staring after him for a few moments, then forced himself to turn his attention back to Mokuba who needed it more than Yami did at the moment.

The next few hours passed with Mokuba pacing around and Yugi following him around. Sometimes he offered words of comfort and sometimes he stayed silent. It took all of his concentration to not sound stupid and say something out of place. After his grandfather was taken captive by Pegasus, he had suffered silently with people telling him everything would be alright eventually at the exact wrong moments. He tried to do a better job for Mokuba.

Eventually, the younger boy surrendered to his tiredness. Yugi made sure to place a hot water bottle in the bed in the guest room to keep the bed warm and draped one extra blanket on top of Mokuba when he finally closed his eyes, drifting off to sleep almost immediately. He drew the curtains to shut out the orange street lights entering the room through the raindrop-splattered glass and switched off the lights, heading to his own room.

However, he was just about to take off his shoes and settle in for bed as well when Yami spoke, "Sorry, Yugi… but we need to do something."

Yugi sighed in exasperation, "Really, Yami, there's nothing we can do. Just settle down for tonight and leave this to the police."

"The police didn't exactly help when your grandfather went missing," Yami pointed out. "I have an idea…"

"What?" Yugi asked, interested.

"Take us to Bakura's house…"


He had woken up before they came back. It was dark. He didn't know if it was dark, still, or if light never reached this place and the darkness would remain. He didn't know if it was a comfort or a curse. He didn't dwell on it. Instead, he thought about the smell of rust hanging in the air. His mind, too clear for it to be comfortable, supplied that this wasn't rust. It was the smell of dried blood.

He didn't dare move a single muscle. He didn't know how long the reprieve was going to last and he was not about to add to his own suffering by trying to move. It was a pity his broken rib's parts didn't misalign and penetrate his lung. He would have bled into his own lung and drowned from the inside on his own blood…died peacefully in the darkness he had slipped into.

He didn't know what was going to happen to him. He was too stubborn and too proud to sign off the papers that released ownership of his corporation over to the Big Five. And it was that; stubbornness and pride. He was not going to lose everything after the many years of plotting and planning. And to what? To this…this brutal, basic method that lacked finesse. No. He was stronger than that. He had survived a battle of wills with a serpent like Gozaburo…he was going to survive this.

It was a decision he made in the absolute darkness around him, lying completely still on his side, his broken hand cradled into his equally broken ribs.

He wasn't so sure of that decision's feasibility when they returned.

Hands had grabbed him. Moved him. The pain from that alone was almost enough to nauseate him, almost breaking his resolve and making him give in. His entire focus was on trying to hold himself together not to beg for the pain to stop.

It wasn't until he was on his knees in front of the large basin beside the wall that he started understanding what will happen next. It was filled with water… he was pushed to his knees before it. Two men stood behind him, both of them easily twice his size. Clearly, there was a point behind this placement, behind the basin and the fact that it was filled to the brim with water…

Within split seconds, his mind made the awful connection and that was where the horror at the realization released just the right amount of adrenaline to numb whatever pain he was feeling and he started to struggle. Unfortunately, before he could move to try and distance himself from the water –although a dark, savage part of his own mind knew he had nowhere to go—a broad hand wrapped all the way around his neck, squeezing tightly, effectively holding him in place as well as cutting off his air supply.

The panic from seeing the water and realizing its purpose faded just a bit to the back of his mind as the large, meaty fingers squeezed at his neck that suddenly seemed too small… he felt too small; it was a very strange and unwelcome sensation. He wasn't small in any way and usually his height gave him an advantage, but right now he felt too tiny trapped as he was. The painful pressure on his windpipe was a feeling rivaled only by his increasing need for air. His eyes were tearing up once more and he was gasping, trying to take in breath through a pathway that was blocked.

Suddenly, the hold on his neck was released.

There was a split second of relief, where he took just one single gulp of air into his lungs and released it. He was preparing to take his second breath in, when another hand suddenly grabbed hold of his hair tightly and before he could react, before he could struggle, before he could be ready, his head was pushed forward, getting dunked without pause into the very dark pit of water before him.

His lungs weren't filled with air. He wasn't ready… he didn't think any stretch of time could make him ready for this. The coolness of the water itself made him gasp. But instead of air entering his airway, it was cold liquid. He choked and struggled, survival instincts kicking in. His uselessly broken hand found strength and ignored the previously excruciating pain. It was holding onto the edge of the basin, pushing with all his might against it with the other hand along with all the strength he could muster at the moment, trying to push back and raise his forcibly submerged head out and above the water's surface…

It was useless.

He was too weak. Yet in spite of that, he continued struggling. There was nothing else he could do. He was caught in a vicious cycle. The initial gasp of surprise he took against his will and the water he breathed in caused his body to convulse, trying to cough out the liquid. It caused him to gasp once more, only to take in more water and increase his panic and renew his futile struggles. To make things worse, he started gagging which eventually worsened his current situation that seemed like it couldn't get any worse.

He was drowning. He was suffocating.

He was dying…

His struggles grew weaker. Apparently, that was the cue they were waiting for. The hand holding him under the water pulled harshly at his head and out of the water.

Unconsciously, he gasped hungrily for air. He has never felt pleasure more powerful than the sensation of sweet oxygen reaching his lungs. Finally, finally, he could breathe again. He coughed and splattered and tried to struggle out of the vice-like hold on him. There was a lot of commotion; he was confused, dizzy and unable to determine what was happening. And before he could satiate himself with air, he was horrified to find the hold on a handful of his hair and tugging hard enough to nearly scalp him, tightening and he knew what was coming next.

Time lost its meaning. His awareness of time was no longer categorized into moments, seconds and minutes. It became something more terrifying. Periods of getting dunked underwater, sometimes very short if he wasn't prepared for it and a great deal longer if he dared try to get ready for it by gasping in a breath which eventually ran out under the water until he was forced to inhale under the surface, suffocating himself. There was also the very short moments spent outside the water. Very short. Too short. Not enough.

The cycle repeated too many times and he lost count. He was too busy trying to do something about his predicament to try and count. He couldn't stop what was happening. He couldn't just die and be done with what was happening. He couldn't do anything other than struggle futilely.

Finally… he was pulled out of the water but this time, he was flung like a rag doll to the corner he had been curled up in. He landed on his broken wrist but didn't exactly try to change his position. He lay down on the floor, coughing uncontrollably and trying to gasp in air and fill his starved lungs. He could feel his face getting scraped by the stone floor and that the cut on his brow was bleeding again. The blood smelled so strong, adding to his discomfort and entering his eye as the water that soaked his hair pushed down his face.

Something was being said above him. He could also hear laughter and cruel jabs and jokes being said. He tuned everything out and focused on trying to just breathe properly. He just noticed that someone said something about leaving him for a little while to rethink of his answer to their proposal.

Then, he was dragged by the chains attached to his feet for a few footsteps. He offered no resistance as the clink of metal was heard as the chains were attached once more to the wall. There was the sound of footsteps and through hazy, tearful eyes he could see people leaving the cell. He held on to the tattered remains of whatever consciousness he had until he heard absolute silence around him, then allowed his eyes to slide shut, letting beautiful darkness overtake his senses and give him reprieve from the agony he was currently going through.


"Relax, Aibou. Bakura will understand," Yami was reassuring him.

"I hardly think so," Yugi timidly pointed out.

"I will persuade him."

Yami was scary, at times. Yugi knew what he was capable of. What the puzzle wrapped around his neck was capable of. It was frightening now to think of it. It was frightening to remember what Yami did to people before he, Yugi, managed to find a way to communicate with him. Before the dependable and loyal person Yami was right now, there was a completely terrifying stranger. There was anger and rage that made itself known while Yugi was unaware. Thankfully, that was all behind them.

Or at least Yugi hoped so.

Bakura had answered the door, looking sleepy. Yami had asked to come in, saying he needed help. Bakura let him in, looking bewildered. Yami had waited until the door closed and he stated his purpose. He needed the Millennium Ring.

Bakura argued he didn't have it. Honda threw it away. Yami was resolute, repeating his demand. Yugi was worried and voiced out his concern and Yami stated that he was going to persuade Bakura to help them.

"I don't have it, Yugi. Leave, I don't understand what you want." Bakura was obviously just as adamant.

"Let me speak to him," Yami calmly said. Yugi didn't understand. Speak to who? He didn't understand what was happening. And for sure, Bakura too didn't understand…

To his surprise, Bakura's entire demeanor changed before his eyes. He didn't know what changed, exactly. His entire body language seemed…wrong, somehow. His eyes were now shadowed as well, a smirk playing on his extremely pale features and Yugi generally felt uneasy looking at him, knowing that something was just wrong with his usually calm friend.

And when he spoke next, Yugi's puzzlement just increased tenfold.

"You must be very desperate to come asking me for help."

"Seto Kaiba is missing… I need you to help me find him using your Ring," Yami stated his purpose once more, this time elaborating a bit further.

"What makes you think I will help you do anything, Pharaoh?"

Yami raised an eyebrow at that. "What did you call me?" he asked, sounding genuinely confused.

Bakura approached him. He stood too close for it to be comfortable, invading Yami's personal space and Yugi could feel the unease rolling off his Dark at the close proximity. For long, long moments, he stood staring with dark brown, almost black eyes into Yami's crimson ones. Silence hung thick in the air, broken only by the occasional rumble of thunder outside in the storm raging outside.

"You really don't know who you are, do you?" Bakura seemed amazed by that.

"What are you talking about?" Yami asked, frowning and his eyes flashing in annoyance.

Bakura laughed. It seemed to irritate Yami even more. "Well…I could tell you… but you have to choose. Do you need my help finding your Priest, or would you like us to sit down and have a little chat about… things." He said the last part with a chuckle.

"My…priest?" Yami repeated.

Inside his own head, Yugi was telling Yami, "Ask him what he means… let's find out. He may know who you are. Maybe he has the answers to the questions you wanted an answer to."

Uncertainty was rolling off Yami in waves. It was obvious he wanted to know what Bakura –or whoever it was who was with them in the room—meant. But soon, the determination that had been fueling Yami's actions ever since they left the Game Shop was evident once more.

"No, Bakura… tell me where to find Kaiba. I am sure whatever interesting stories you have to tell can wait until we can be sure he is safe," Yami decided. Yugi had to admit that if their positions had been switched, he would not have had the same self-discipline Yami governed himself at this moment with.

For some bizarre reason, Bakura was going to help them. Yugi didn't understand what was going on. This stranger –because surely, this couldn't be their friend—had muttered something about needing Seto later on. For what purpose and when exactly that 'later on' was, they did not know. They were on the move again. Bakura did not bother getting under the umbrella, deeming it laughable and walked before Yami, his Millennium Ring making an appearance on his chest and proving that Honda throwing it away apparently wasn't enough to get rid of it for good.

He was led to the suburbs. Yugi's restlessness was growing. Bakura wasn't to be trusted. He did not know why Yami did this, why he sought out this…this stranger's help. He could be leading him out of town under the ruse of helping out.

They reached a wrought-iron fence, holding a garden with high trees within it. Yugi was just about to ask Yami to turn back and leave; obviously, Bakura was just playing them. And that was being optimistic. He could be planning something a lot more sinister than 'playing them'. However, before he could voice his concerns, the white-haired young man turned around suddenly, using the fact that Yami couldn't stop in time and grabbed him by wrapping one arm around his waist, the other hand holding on to Yami's wrist and pushed him quickly into the fence.

Yami opened his mouth to cry out when one of the iron bars dug viciously into his back, causing dull pain to shoot up all over his spine. However, Bakura's hand that had settled on one of his hips rose, covering his mouth tightly to drown the sound. Yami struggled, trying to shake off the white-haired teen's firm hold on him and Yugi could clearly read the intent to use physical violence.

"Shut up, or this whole rescue mission goes to hell," Bakura stopped him by hissing angrily in his ear, voice low and urgent and his hold tightening on his wrist, other hand pressing tighter against his lips to make sure he kept quiet.

Within just a few seconds, realization dawned on both of them. Yami kept still but Yugi still felt uneasy as darkness surrounded them. It was the same darkness that wrapped around them while they dueled Pegasus. There was nothing in the world that could reassure him that any good could ever come out of that darkness. His agitation bled over to Yami, who was already too tense and taut with adrenaline at being grabbed and held still so suddenly. In an instinctual reaction, Yami tried moving once again.

Bakura swore under his breath and he pushed him tighter with his larger frame against the fence.

"Someone's coming," Bakura hissed, his voice still low. "You can grow up and stand still for a few seconds or we get busted and you can kiss your Priest's pretty ass goodbye, you little brat!"

Yami closed his eyes and stayed still. Yugi forced himself to calm down as well.

Soon, he understood what was happening when he heard loud, boisterous conversation coming from just around the corner. There was a group of men, all in intimidating black suits that made all of them look the same for some bizarre reason. It didn't help that all of them had a similar look of sadistic pleasure painted across their features and Yugi felt his heart hammering in his chest. He had seen that look before; he could recognize it anywhere and on anyone's features no matter how much time had passed since the last time he saw it. It was the same look of aggressive accomplishment that distorted the features of every single person who picked on him before he became friends with Jonouchi and the others. Before the puzzle. Before Yami's protection.

In spite of the situation, and in spite of his own discomfort with Bakura's proximity and the fact that he was restrained and that obviously inspired anxiety of his own, Yami held his hand as they stood in the corridor between their soul rooms. Yugi looked up, knowing that his apprehension was clearly written on his face and was met by the open, encouraging expression on Yami's own features.

"Stay brave, Aibou. They cannot see us. I am here with you."

Heart rate calming just a little at the reassurance and now that he understood that the darkness surrounding them was hiding them from view, he watched as the group lazily came closer, their boisterous conversation becoming clearer.

It wasn't a conversation, per se. It was more like a string of jeers and awful hollers that broke the mantra formed by the falling of raindrops on the concrete and the rustle of tree leaves in the wind. They were excited, discussing what Yugi was horrified to hear were the details of what Seto was obviously going through as they spoke. Quite easily, Yugi forgot all about his fear as it was replaced rapidly by anger at the honestly disgusting way with which someone's pain was mocked. And knowing the kind of shit Seto just went through in the past few weeks did not lessen his anger any. He definitely did not need what these scum were implying was done to him.

Yami was now grateful for Bakura's tight hold on him. He wasn't so sure he could have held himself still at what they were hearing.

Luckily, they had moved farther away before Yami lost his self control and moved even against Bakura's will. He was concerned they were too late. He feared for the older Kaiba's life which was clearly in danger. He jerked his face away from Bakura's hand and hissed, "Let's follow them."

"Oh no…" Bakura whispered back. "I have nothing to do with this."

"Fine. Let me go…" Yami snapped back at him, shoving him away.

"Ungrateful brat," Bakura commented, shaking his white-haired head in mock disbelief. "Follow them into the house. You will find him in the basement. He will not be alone and he most probably will not be in any condition to leave with you. I will phone the police."

Yugi was going to suggest they waited for the police. Yami immediately disagreed.

"While we wait for them to try and find out if the anonymous tip is a real lead or not, he might die at their hands in there. No we shall not wait…" determination was the dominant tone in his voice as he spoke to Yugi through the link.

The darkness still surrounded them even when Bakura left. It made Yugi a bit nervous that Yami could conjure up the same darkness Pegasus could. It reassured him just a small bit as well. Surely, someone with immense power like that was going to be safe, right?

"Aibou…" Yami's voice was sterner than usual. Yugi blinked and looked up at him. "You heard what they were saying. You understand what is going on inside right now… what our friend is going through. Surely, we cannot sit around waiting." It was what Yugi knew was true deep down. He couldn't help the fear making his heart race. "Let's go…"

Yami made his way around the fence until he reached the gates that led towards a large mansion. The gates were still open, the group of suited men standing there. They had obviously been out buying cigarettes which they were now sharing with the man standing guard at the gate. Yami slipped inside, hurrying towards the house. The front door was open and Yugi was so happy for their good luck.

It took Yami a few minutes until he found the stairway leading to the basement. Yami descended the stairs quickly and carefully. There were sounds coming from below. Yugi felt apprehension intensifying at the truthfully disturbing myriad of noises getting clearer with every step Yami took.

There was no lights on except for a depressing overhead yellow lamp hung in the corridor that stretched before the staircase. The commotion came from the end of the corridor which Yami crossed with fearlessness that Yugi had to question for a few moments until he began to discern for himself what the sounds were. The sound of laughter… sick, twisted and evil laughter, offering some kind of perverse background music to other sounds. The sound of something whooshing through air quickly, a loud crack that raised his hairs on end, followed by a sharp, wet snapping sound. There was a hoarse cry of agony that Yugi was sure was going to stay in his nightmares for years to come.

Yami broke out into a run. He turned around a corner and stopped in his tracks at the sight that met him.


to be continued...