A/N: this is it :D hello my dear readers. Welcome to the final chapter of this –very long—tale. I am honored that you've all stuck this far until we've reached the end. I hope it was enjoyable, didn't get too boring and wasn't cliché'd or disappointing to anyone.

I had planned on splitting this into two chapters, but then thought that my OCD can't settle for an odd-number of chapters XD so I decided, as a treat and since this is the last chapter, I'd put the two chapters in one and give you a nice big juicy chunk to say goodbye.

I apologize to those expecting lemon. It just didn't fit into the story's finale. It is only mentioned in passing.

Thanks again for reading. I hope you will enjoy the final chapter of Bows of Promise.

Bows of Promise

Chapter Twenty

It was a scene that had repeated many times before.

The setting was the same, except for very minor details. A cool, enclosed, isolated operating room floor. A very large hall-like area, consisting of over ten operating rooms each with a scrubbing area attached, all of them connected by a hallway painted in pale greens and blues and lit with bright fluorescent lights.

He felt strangely confident as he walked once again with Rafael towards the PACU. He could straighten his spine fully even as they passed by Bakura to get the patient who was getting his vitals measured by one of the nurses. He could feel the brown eyes fixed upon him and he knew that ignoring them would be giving their owner exactly what he wanted.

And so, he did not do what he would have usually done in such a situation. He did not keep his own crimson eyes ahead of him, resolutely and firmly avoiding contact with those familiar brown ones. He knew that avoiding them would be giving Bakura was he wanted. The feeling that he was making him uncomfortable enough to try and avoid any and all contact with him no matter how unnatural it was to just avoid staring at one person in the same enclosed space.

His eyes met Bakura's, easily reading the glee and anticipation in them. He knew Bakura was expecting him to get flustered, look away quickly to avoid eye contact. So, it was expected for surprise to blossom on the familiar handsome features when he refused to do that, staring long and hard at him. Not looking away, not cowering in fear.

It was a bit of a victory when it wasn't him who looked away first. Pegasus was saying something to Bakura, who kept up his stare for a few seconds longer, then looked away, a slight scowl on his face. Yami stared ahead as they stopped beside the patient and grabbed the file to stare over his lab results before beginning.

"Who is that?" Rafael asked him, placing his stethoscope into his ear and putting its cone on the patient's chest, addressing him, "Take a deep breath and let it out for me."

Yami blinked and looked questioningly at him. Rafael's eyes trailed over to the two white-haired surgeons standing on the other side of the PACU, while shifting the cone of the stethoscope over the patient's chest, encouraging him to continue taking deep breaths. Yami looked over at his ex-lover once again then back at Rafael.

He shrugged.

"Pegasus. And his new thesis partner. He's here for the observership program," he explained.

Rafael raised an eyebrow, gently placing pressure on the patient's shoulder to make him lean forward slightly so he can auscultate his back. "He's been looking at you and Kaiba funny ever since he walked in here."

Yami rolled his eyes slightly, "He was my senior resident in Egypt when I started work. We know each other."

Rafael paused. He looked as if he wanted to ask something else, but decided against it, looking unsure. His mind was made up when someone stepped closer to the bed, standing with them. It was the red-haired young man from yesterday and Yami smiled at him when he greeted them good morning.

"What time is it?" Rafael snapped with a scowl.

Yami blinked at him. The kid stared at his watch calmly, replying, "Five minutes past eight."

"And what time are you supposed to be here?"


Yami watched the exchange quietly, as Rafael put down the stethoscope and faced the young man with his impressive scowl, amazed at the junior resident's much more impressive ability to stare up at an angry Rafael without a flinch, as he admonished, "You are five minutes late."

"Rafael," Yami groaned at him, his eyebrows inching together with annoyance. He knew what this was, but never thought Rafael would be so easily drawn into it. It was sexual tension and the blond was dealing with it in the absolute worst manner. He was snapping and pushing away at the source of it, alienating the newest member of the anesthesia department and it was obvious that the kid was confused.

To his surprise, the redhead raised a placating hand towards him, "It's alright, sensei…" Yami blinked at him. apparently, he had been talking to Honda and Ryuji and took up the habit of calling him that. Before he could say anything about that, however, the young man turned to Rafael and said, "I apologize. It won't happen again."

Rafael turned bright red and his scowl deepened. He turned away and directed his attention back to the patient while Yami stood awkwardly trying to make the young man with red hair smile a little after this little public rebuke from Rafael.

"It's alright," the young man repeated with a slight grin at his efforts. "It's the way things are here. We're not like the surgery department. We must be here before hours and no matter what my reasons are, I should make it on time, if not before that even. It is my problem I cannot adjust my other circumstances to match the department's requirements."

Yami smiled kindly at him. "What's your name?" he asked.

"Amelda. I just started two weeks ago," he explained.

He was about to add to this, but Rafael's voice interrupted him with an annoyed half-snap, half-bark at him to ready OR 5 for a general anesthesia procedure instead of standing there and chatting. Apologetically, Amelda excused himself and left with calmness that Yami envied him for.

Once he was out of earshot Yami turned to glare at Rafael, "Don't be an ass, Rafael." Rafael pretended to look over the lab results, so Yami quickly snatched the piece of paper from him. "Don't mess the kid up because you can't deal with a stupid crush."

"This is department policy, I didn't…"

Yami cut him off, "That's bullshit, Rafael and you know it. We've all been there. Trying to adjust to a new lifestyle, while still unsure if this is the right choice as well as trying to get a feel of politics that they never bothered teaching us in school? How about you cut him some slack and stop being an ass because you can't deal with your—God forbid— feelings?"

Rafael scowled at him, "Fine. I'll make it up to him." Yami stared hard at him so he rushed out again, flushing a bright red color that made lovely contrast with his fair-colored hair, "I promise!"

Yami let the matter go for now. He returned the piece of paper with the lab report written on it back in the file, answered a few questions the patient was asking, then fell into step next to Rafael again as they headed towards the scrubbing areas and the room where the surgery would take place. They parted ways, Rafael going to his premedication and patient preparation area and Yami heading towards the sink where he would scrub up.

Seto were already there. He paused slightly at the entrance and Seto looked at him. then he turned back to his task.

"Hello," Yami said.

He stepped into the small scrubbing area, standing next to the brunet and starting to wash his hands with antimicrobial soap.

"Good morning," Seto said calmly. He glanced at him and Yami felt the heat of the gaze on the side of his face.

He smiled tentatively and looked up at Seto, meeting his eyes with bravery that suddenly seemed to fill him in surplus. The blue eyes were much warmer than the past few days and his heart raced with hope. They were still swimming beneath heaps of hurt and blame but that didn't intimidate him as much as before since the coolness in them faded, replaced with a tired expression instead that manifested as miniscule burst capillaries in the whites next to the blue and slightly dark smudges beneath untidy and clumped lashes.

It was obvious that the past few days weren't difficult for him only.

The brunet looked back at the sink. Yami mirrored his actions, leaning forward to let the water flow over his arm and above his elbow, keeping his hands up above the level of the rest of his arm.

"Are you ready for today?" he asked, carefully keeping his tone casual. There was silence for a little while and he looked up to see the reason for the extended silence. There was a confused expression on Seto's face and Yami smiled again, explaining gently, "The elections?"

Realization blossomed on the handsome features and Yami felt a rush of affection. "Oh…" Seto exclaimed. Yami chuckled lightly and turned back to washing his hands. He was scrubbing under his nails with the file that came with the scrub-brush package as the brunet shrugged, mumbling, "I suppose… I am not too excited about things, though."

Yami cringed. He sighed and shook his head for a second, then dropped his hands. He stepped away from sink, feeling Seto's eyes on him. He let his wet arms hang by his sides as he stared at his feet, which were shuffling on the gleaming ceramic ground in the pair of dark-grey crocs he was wearing.

He heard the water going off in front of Seto and realized that the brunet too had stepped away from the sink, halting the process and turning to face him.

He looked up, swallowing the lump at the back of his throat and with it, every last dregs of stubbornness and doubt and pride and betting everything on the fact that…even though he really couldn't confirm anyone's words, he had seen what kind of person Seto was. There was no way to confirm anyone's words. Unless he was present for every single detail that happened to people he now knew, witnessed everything that happened to them in the past…he really had no way to confirm anything.

He met Seto's eyes determinedly.

"I know this isn't the right time, but I cannot wait to say this because I am the reason you are getting what should be a very rewarding experience ruined for you," he started. Seto's eyebrows inched together in confusion so he added, knowing that he was about to be interrupted, "I am sorry, Seto… I am so, so sorry."

Whatever Seto was about to say, he apparently changed his mind. Yami didn't know why, but he was grateful for not being cut off when he absolutely had to hold on to whatever courage making him speak this out loud.

"I have thought long and hard about this and I had meant to speak to you sooner. I hate apologies," he admitted. Truthful and honest, he kept his eyes fixed on Seto's while he spoke. "I hate receiving them and I hate giving them even more. But you deserve one because I was wrong for even entertaining the possibility that what he said was true," he admitted, keeping his voice calm and level.

He paused for a few moments to collect his thoughts. He did not want to sound like he was rambling. Neither did he want to sound as though he was rushing out his words quickly as if to get things done.

"I was… I was angry and hurt that day," he started once again. He looked at the edge of the stainless steel sink they were standing in front of, unable to keep up the eye contact any longer. "I am not trying to make excuses for my behavior. I know I was rude and abrasive and tactless at handling things. I am just trying to explain why I acted the way I did, even if it wasn't acceptable."

"Yami…" Seto breathed out.

Yami quickly shook his head and looked up at him again, "Please, Seto… let me finish."

The blue eyes softened and Yami felt a pang in his chest at that. The way Seto looked at him made his knees weak and the complete absence of the horrible coolness he treated him with for the past few days and the return of that soft expression made him so happy, he felt faint with it. Giddy.

"You've been nothing but kind and patient with me. You've stood beside me when you didn't need to and you've offered me more love and support than everyone I knew for my entire life combined. You've given me no reason to believe Bakura's accusations. In fact, I don't even know why I even considered them, especially since I was getting my ass kicked by the person saying those things."

He swallowed once again and looked elsewhere once again.

"You were right…" he mumbled in low tones, for once allowing his voice to weaken. "I have taken out the frustration and anger at the fact that… more than half a decade following my relationship with him, I was letting Bakura control me, push me around as he pleased, on you. And for that, I am very, very sorry."

He said it just a few seconds ago. He hated apologies. Truly, it took so much out of him to admit he was wrong… trying to fix what he messed up was so much more difficult that what he usually did in such situations. He usually just walked away. Burned everything to the ground and walked away without second glance at whoever it was he was destroying with his mistakes. It was a thought that hit him with a sudden epiphany. He really hadn't cared what he left behind.

Seto was different. He supposed Seto was so different that it made no sense making comparisons.

He was damaged. He had gone through trauma that rendered most people useless for the rest of their lives. Not only had he gone through it and emerged alive…he had made something of himself in life. Unfortunately, his pride at his own personal achievements, at his strength and the way he revived himself from the proverbial ashes of those tragedies, usually blinded him to the ugly side of it all. It made him think of himself as invincible, without faults.

It was why apologies were so difficult for him.

But for Seto?

Seto deserved an apology. And he was offering him one, knowing that the brunet had every right to reject it, perhaps humiliate him by walking away and turning him down. But he still deserved the apology and the risk related to it. The blemish on his invincibility and the tarnish to his pride.

The silence was stretching for far too long over the small enclosure. Yami was uncomfortably aware of that fact. He raised his eyes to stare up into Seto's eyes, facing the verdict the brunet was going to pass on him. The expression on the familiar, painfully handsome features was something he was used to. Softness, vulnerability that he knew…somehow he knew, was reserved only for his eyes. The coolness, the closed-off expression and aloofness was the norm for Seto. He supposed that, in a way, he too was an exception to many rules Seto had that he hadn't discovered yet.

The silence was broken by Seto's clear voice speaking out loud, giving him and his apology enough respect not to come out as a mumble, but a plain and honest tone that soothed the sting of shame that came with standing repentant and asking for forgiveness.

"I do not want to lose you, Yami…"

Yami took in the words carefully. He was holding his breath while listening. He didn't know what else Seto was going to say. He was hyperaware of the fact that the water had finished dripping from the tips of his fingers, where his hands were loosely hanging by his sides. He could feel the remaining suds of soap bursting on his skin, tickling it with the minuscule touch it left on it.

"I don't mean to belittle your apology. I understand how difficult it is for you… but I haven't… I haven't been expecting you to apologize." Yami was silently staring at him in confusion. "I've done my share of thinking and I know that it's unfair to hold you responsible for thinking the way you did that day. You had just been attacked by someone who abused you for years, Yami. Of course you were going to consider his words very carefully. And to be honest, there really is nothing that can prove his words wrong. The only thing I could think that night after calming down was how to prove his words wrong to you, Yami."

"Seto… I already told you I don't need…" he started, shaking his head and quickly trying to evade the way Seto was trying to absolve him of the way he had mucked things up.

Immediately, Seto cut him off.

"I am going to let Pegasus have the seat, Yami…"

The words seemed to echo for the longest while after they were uttered in the small space. Yami remained silent in the face of this new declaration, his eloquence all but gone as he realized that, once again, Seto was breaking a general rule in his life, proving wrong solid facts and cornerstones of reality and his very existence as a passerby in this life. He was usually dispensable. Too much work and too little compensation for it. Easy to discard, easy to forget.

And most importantly… in comparison to such an esteemed position… he was insignificant.

Guilt immediately rushed over him in waves and he vehemently snapped, "I can't allow that."

Seto shook his head and shrugged, "This is not up to you."

"It is up to me if it's done in my name… I am not worth this. Nothing is worth this, Seto. It will not make me happy and it will always be something I will never forgive myself for. Please…" he said the last bit with his voice breaking. He was desperate and he didn't even bother hiding it. "This is not the correct decision, Seto…"

"This is the only way to prove to you that I haven't been seeing you just to get through the elections, Yami," Seto calmly informed him.

"I don't care anymore if you are using me to get through the elections, Seto!" he snapped angrily.

The statement surprised him almost as much as it surprised Seto, who stood gaping at him in shock, anger and a whirl of something that once again, Yami was affronted to realize that it mimicked pity in a very upsetting way.

Quickly, he rushed out, "I don't care about that nonsense anymore. I have no way to prove Bakura wrong…but I do know one thing. I too, don't want to lose you, Seto. I want you. And I know that you have some idiotic thought in your mind that you are obliged to cater to my every whim and every insecurity…every stupidity; I just want you to know that you don't have to think that way and I don't need to be coddled this way. You say you don't want to lose me. Trust me, leaving this position for me is the way to do just that. You aren't obliged to give something like this up for me. I won't allow it and I don't want it, nor welcome it."

"Yami…you aren't being coddled…" Seto breathed out after a few seconds silence.

"You are. I am not worth such a sacrifice, Seto, and you shouldn't have to choose. And you don't have to choose," he firmly said.

Silence hung over them for many moments after that. They were both silent. Yami had nothing more to say to express how upset he was over Seto's suggestion. He didn't know the reason behind Seto's silence, though.

He didn't get a chance to ask about it. Jou appeared at door to the small enclosure, looking hesitant and looking between them after clearing his throat to announce his arrival.

Yami turned to the sink again as the blond asked, "You guys alright? Rafael is grumping about the patient getting agitated at the table."

Yami started the scrubbing process all over again as he listened to Seto grunting that it was Rafael's fault for ordering the patient's transfer into the OR before either surgeons were there with him. he listened as he rubbed his nails with a new nail file from a new scrub-brush package which he opened, his thoughts going around in circles. He was torn between relief that he could consider his apology accepted and frustration that things were not yet settled between them. He didn't know if Seto was still upset and how long it will take for things to just go back to being normal. He then remembered that Bakura was going to be present for the next while and he almost swore and his stomach fluttered in fear.

He didn't even notice how his morbid thoughts had left a scowl on his features as he pushed open the OR doors with his back, until the circulating nurse helping him put on his gown asked him if he was alright and when he stared at him in confusion, he told him that he had a very scary look on his face.

Yami closed his eyes and tied his disposable gown closed properly, sighing and clearing his head of these thoughts. This wasn't the time or place. He distracted himself by staring at the patient's abdomen, planning his incision sight. He glanced at the X-Rays and CT-Scan sheets hung up by the display at an empty wall of the room to think about the possible techniques to hold the trocars while retrieving the bullet that sat in the patient's lower abdomen.

He cast only one glance at the observation panel, holding the brown-gaze with his own with ease and nonchalance that surprised even him. Seto's arrival after he finished scrubbing up broke the non-verbal exchange. The brunet had cast a cold gaze onto Bakura and Yami was upset to see the little smirk playing on the handsome features that belonged to his ex-lover. He approached the table, offering a nod to the assistant nurse as greeting.

Seto stood on the opposite side of the table. Yami looked up at him, grateful for the familiarity and the affection he saw in Seto's blue eyes.

He smiled and shifted his eyes to watch Rafael and Amelda starting to intubate the patient and finishing their final adjustments to their machine. He was happy to see Rafael allowing amelda to slip the tube into the patient's mouth, letting him confirm its correct placement; he knew this was Rafael's way of apologizing for scolding the younger man. They looked up at him, Rafael letting Amelda give Yami the permission to go ahead and start his own work.

Mechanically and in record time, he made his incisions and placed his ports into the abdomen with ease and practiced motions that surprised even him. He raised his head to look at view through the LCD screen hung next to the bed. While he waited for the abdomen to inflate with carbon dioxide, he felt Seto staring at him. He met his gaze, a questioning look on his features, so Seto shook his head and looked at the screen as well.

There was nothing but silence in the room for the next few minutes as he made the final adjustments to the view and started maneuvering his way into the patient's lower abdomen, through the track left by the bullet.

"Why are we removing the bullet?"

The question rang out from somewhere above him. He blinked and looked up towards the source of the sound, the speakers beneath the glass panel where people sat watching. Bakura was leaning forward to speak into the intercom. He had a thoughtful look on his features, but Yami's eyes hardened when he caught sight of the mischievous glint that he was trying so hard to hide from his brown eyes.

He looked back to the field, asking, "What do you mean, Dr. Akeifa?"

"I mean… the patient is obviously hemodynamically stable. The X-Ray doesn't show any perforated viscera and the CT doesn't indicate the presence of damage along the bullet's track. Why would we try to remove the bullet? Expose the patient to the complications of anesthesia and post-operative infections, surgical-site infections and medications when we can just leave it there?"

He knew what Bakura was doing. Apparently, so did Seto. Yami felt Seto's hands tighten around the probes. He glanced up briefly to see him rolling his eyes with his back to the viewing glass and he grinned inwardly in affection.

He was expected to get flustered at being questioned. Bakura had no new tricks up his sleeve, apparently. He still thought he was the same insecure, inexperienced surgeon who was still green; unsure of himself, unsure of his own worth in the field.

This was all very different now and he intended, just like he had been doing ever since the start of this day, to break the rules that Bakura thought he was going to play by.

He smirked and looked up once again after pausing for just a few seconds to peel another layer of peritoneum off the muscle sheath.

"Could we recall together the indications for bullet removal, then, Dr. Akeifa?" he amiably suggested. Silence rang in the room for a few seconds, in which Bakura's eyes were fixed on him in shock that he could feel even if he didn't need to lift his eyes off the laparoscopic field as he cut through muscles with ease and expertise. When the silence persisted, he looked up, noting the taken-aback expression that indicated that Bakura still had the habit of studying things without organizing the scientific matter. That once he was surprised with a question, he couldn't provide a suitable answer. He didn't really care for saving him the embarrassment of saying he couldn't recall, or even attempting a weak, jumbled explanation, insisting, "Well?"

"Pressure areas, sensei," Honda spoke before Bakura could. "If the bullet is in an area where the patient's weight is supported, it would be painful. Removal is a must."

"Excellent point, Honda; what else?" he praised with a pleased grin.

"Err…can I say the rest of them?" Honda asked, uneasily looking around him, especially at Bakura, who looked way older than everyone sitting with them and was shooting positively murderous looks his way.

"Sure, go ahead," Yami nodded, fixing his eyes once again on the field.

"Local abscess forming around it due to dirty cloth fragments is also an emergency. We can remove it depending on the place it is stuck; impinging on nerves, lodging in vessel lumen, in joint spaces, in the eye…some children, in very rare cases, show signs of lead poisoning after a few months and that too is an immediate indication for removal."

Yami smiled and looked up at him. "That's great, Honda. What else?"

Honda shrugged, "Patient-related factors."

Bakura snorted. Honda immediately recoiled. Yami scowled at him.

"Like what, Honda?" he insisted. Honda turned his brown eyes from Bakura to stare at him and he paused his action on the trocars to hold his junior's unsure brown eyes with his own. He raised an eyebrow encouragingly and repeated, "Like what, Honda? What are these patient factors?"

Honda started speaking again and Yami was angry to hear the unsure stutter in his voice. It was an expected reaction. He had been in that position for so many times working with Bakura. Unsure of his information as he just started reading, confidence hanging by a very thin thread that a derisive sound like the one Bakura made was very easy to sever.

He listened to the kid stutter out, "Err… the patient… err… has a cosmetic problem."

"Great…when does this happen?" he asked encouragingly.

"When the bullet is bulging. Low impact artillery cause that."

Yami nodded. He continued his pathway towards the bullet surely, he and Seto in perfect attunement to one another. Their motions were almost automatic. They've worked these cases together so many times now, Yami's experience with the equipment improving with every surgery he scrubbed up for. It helped that this was an uncomplicated case, the patient of average size without excess fat or abnormal anatomy.

He could focus a good deal on his conversation with Honda.

"You missed one point," he said, expertly cauterizing a small bleeder he noticed on his way. He glanced up to acknowledge the questioning expression on Honda's features, then added with a grin, "This patient does not want to walk around with a bullet inside him."

Honda's face broke into a grin. "I suppose no one would want that, sensei!" he agreed with a slight chuckle.

Bakura spoke again, forcing Yami's eyes to rest on him.

"You should punish him for speaking without permission."

Yami paused. He felt the subtle almost-convulsive tightening of Seto's hand on his trocars at the words. He looked at Bakura and smiled, sure that his white-haired ex-lover would clearly see it in his eyes which were the only visible part of his face under the surgical mask.

"That's not my style, Dr. Akeifa. Honda is a resident. Not a slave who needs permission before speaking."

Bakura snorted. "I've lived to see scrawny little Yami with his own style and speaking of human rights."

Yami felt his ears reddening and looked down at the surgical field to continue, trying to ignore the retaliation to his apparent 'insolence'. After all, he had embarrassed him by having an actual rationale for the bullet removal, he allowed a junior resident to answer a question that he, Bakura, couldn't…and to add to all of that, he rebuked his recommendation on how to treat his juniors, favoring the kid's welfare instead.

Yes, there will be retaliation and he steeled his nerves to face it.

"Remember that surgery list that had eight explorations, Yami?"

The corners of his mouth and his eyes hardened; yes, actually. He remembered it very well. Too well for his liking. Something that vengeful done against him for no reason whatsoever, other than the fact that he had argued about the method of closure for a wound on the upper arm…yes, he remembered very well how thoroughly he had been punished and he most probably wasn't going to forget it. Over twenty-four hours of continuous surgeries. An average exploration took him four hours. He had worked eight during that list. Thirsty and hungry, he had refused to drink or eat anything, not because he didn't have time –which was partly the issue—but also because he knew he wouldn't have time to go to the bathroom after. He stood through four of them, until his thighs had started shaking and his legs started cramping in pain. One of the nurses had brought him a chair, covered it with sterile sheets and helped him sit down through the rest of it.

"I used to control every single move you did as my junior resident, Yami…" the plain evil chuckle that followed this admission made Yami's skin crawl. He bit at his lip behind the mask. He tightened his fingers around the trocar to try and prevent his hands from shaking, knowing that it was all on display on the screen.

The rigid way with which he moved the trocar made his hold on the tissues before him slip. Seto immediately moved his own trocar with a grasper attached, pulling on the coils of intestine before they could slip back down and obscure their vision. Yami glanced up at him, meeting the blue eyes with his own, easily reading the anger surging through the brunet at the words.

And to make things worse, Bakura wasn't done. Yami wasn't sure if he should be grateful or horrified at that. He was still speaking, thankfully not noticing Yami's slip-up as a result of his words.

"You didn't dare speak without permission back in those days. And when you did, you ended up with surgery lists like that one… or getting stuck in the ward for weeks, doing nothing except taking patients' vitals, denied from entering the surgery lists as punishment. It was quite amusing, watching you take those punishments so silently and docilely. I thought you'd be doing the same with your own juniors."

Yami refused to acknowledge him still. He didn't rise to the ante, didn't give him what he wanted. There was no point. He knew that there was no point in working himself up. He was safe from Bakura's violence, surrounded by Seto…by his junior residents, by Rafael… by his friends from the nurses, Jou, the superior who was ready to throw punches for his employees. His reputation was untouched here, no matter what venomous words Bakura was spouting. He had no reason to reply.


"I suppose it gives you some high and mighty feeling that you aren't doing this to this wet-behind-the-ears rookie. I do wonder why you bother defending such unsure and unconfident little…"

Yami's head snapped up.

"Dr. Akeifa, please step out of my operating theater. I won't continue this surgery in your presence."

Yami felt everyone's eyes on him. He ignored each and every one of them, dividing his attention between Honda, whose face reddened and Bakura, who stared down at him in shock through the observation window.

The silence stretched, except for the rhythmic sound of the ventilator's monitor beeping away with the patient's heart-rate and saturation percentage.

Yami's scowl deepened when the white-haired man didn't make a move in response to his words. He motioned for Seto to halt his onward motion with the trocar with the camera attached, as well as shook his head at the assisting nurse who was preparing the bean dish where the bullet was to be extracted to, insisting, "I said, leave my operating theater, Dr. Akeifa. You are not welcome to observe my work, neither is your unpleasant lack of work ethics, the way you are openly insulting a colleague present in the same room in front of everyone else."

"I didn't insult you, Yami," Bakura smirked, about to add to his statement, but Yami interrupted him.

"I don't care what you are saying about me. You've insulted my department's junior resident. Please leave the operating theater."

"But I am here for an observership. You can't…"

"I can and I am," Yami coldly insisted. "Get out, or I will have to have you escorted out by force."

He could feel everyone holding their breath, everyone's gazes shifting between and Bakura, watching to see this standoff and how it would proceed. Only Seto had an idea of what was between him and Bakura. No one else understood what was happening and the full, real depth of the confrontation taking place, but everyone was perceptive enough to realize what a battle of wills this was. And they were all watching to see how it would end. Yami had done enough, proving that his junior's knowledge outdid this seasoned surgeon's. It was now the time to decide if his victory would last, or if Bakura was going to dominate anyway.

"You're throwing me out for saying he's a rookie?" Bakura asked in disbelief, pointing at Honda with a degrading wave of his hand.

"Yes. I actually am, Dr. Akeifa. You've done it twice presently. Leave the OR now, I will not repeat myself," Yami callously insisted. He saw no need to raise his voice beyond the cold, calm tone he was using.

There was a faint hum around them. Yami saw the assisting nurse whispering something to the circulating nurse and he could feel Amelda's wide eyes fixed on him in disbelief. He firmly ignored all of that, fixing his ex-lover with a cold look that he honestly had no idea where he got the strength for. For almost a minute, they held each other's eye, Yami's cold and dismissive, Bakura disbelieving that he, Yami, was throwing him out in this humiliating manner. He seemed to try and find ways to wiggle out of this to avoid bending to Yami's power. Yami understood that very well. It was why he continued holding the brown gaze with his own crimson one.

Until Bakura finally yielded.

He got up, shook his head disdainfully, casting a disgusted look at the OR, then at Honda who seemed to want the earth to split open and swallow him whole, then left.

It was past two in the afternoon when they placed the final stitches on the final surgery for the day. He was aware he had finished the surgery list in record time. He had taken off his disposable gown and the gloves and proceeded to wash his hands when he found Honda standing next to him, face flushed a very alarming shade of crimson, panic in his brown eyes.

"Sensei, I am so, so sorry…" he was blurting out in an urgent, horrified tone of voice. "I did not mean to embarrass you or make problems. I didn't even know who that was, Sensei. I'm so, so sorry…"

"Shhhh, Honda…calm down," Yami rushed out, having to raise his voice ever-so-slightly to speak over the rush of mumbling apologies spilling out of Honda's lips.

He took his arm and led the way out of the area where anyone could hear or see them. The way the kid looked like he was about to pass out with mortification genuinely upset Yami beyond belief and he was determined not to handle this tactlessly. He made his way over to the locker rooms, checking that they were empty, then led Honda inside them and shut the door after they got inside and after he pushed the younger man down to sit on the bench provided next to the lockers.

Silence stayed with them for a few moments. Honda wasn't looking at him. He looked terrified, Yami was disturbed to see. He looked up tentatively to meet his eyes, once again starting to apologize.

"I am so sorry," he started but Yami shook his head dismissively.

"What the hell are you sorry for, Honda?" he asked in exasperation.

"That person is not…"

Yami cut him off again, "That person is someone who should not be a reason for you to be so upset. No one should make you this upset, kid, do you understand?" Honda stayed silent, not replying at all and still looking far too remorseful and confused for Yami's liking. He sighed. "Honda… do you know who that is?"

Honda shook his head.

"Dr. Akeifa was my senior back in Egypt," he explained. He sat down next to Honda on the bench, hands on his knees and looking the younger man straight in the eyes. Realization spread over the neat, handsome features of Honda's face and he oh-ed silently, so Yami added, "He still thinks things are the same as they were back then. He still thinks that when he is vile and rude and questions each and every step of any surgery and actually affect my performance during that surgery."

"But sensei, nothing can do that with you," Honda argued, awed. "Even now, you've kept your cool, you've finished the list faster than…"

Yami nodded and interrupted him, "Exactly, Honda. His words no longer hold power over me. It's why I didn't say anything until he started disrespecting you. That, to me, is unacceptable. This isn't your fault. It is my duty to defend you. I would do it again, over and over, in your presence and behind your back. I don't appreciate having insecure and traumatized junior residents. This is not how I do things. Don't think you have to apologize for that."

"Sensei…" Honda breathed out.

"You keep apologizing to me and I don't like that, Honda. You haven't done anything wrong," Yami continued, staring at the lockers ahead of him, his voice quiet. "I know too well what it feels like to be a junior resident. I know that you try to juggle your schedule with reading and studying, as well as trying to deal with politics that no one bothers teaching you in school. I know the uncertainty of it, I know that you're trying to adjust to inhumane working conditions…in the name of the nobility of the profession and in the name of doing something you are passionate about." He paused for a few moments, then turned to once again look at Honda, adding, "I know, alright…? I just know."

Honda stayed silent, staring at him in a shocked way. Yami raised his hand and placed it on his shoulder, giving him a small pat.

"Don't apologize. You actually made me proud," he reassured with a gentle smile.

Honda ran a hand over his face and groaned slightly, "Just how did that happen, Sensei? He's right, you know…it was not ethical for me to speak out of turn. I've embarrassed him and embarrassed you and it's just…"

"Honda, this is not some medieval prison where you have to ask permission before speaking," Yami patiently repeated. "You haven't done anything of that sort. This is a place for learning. If he knew the answer to my question and if he was genuinely interested in the reason behind the surgery, he would have continued the discussion to the end. He wasn't asking for the indication for the bullet extraction because he wanted to know, Honda. He was just questioning for the sake of doing just that. You, on the other hand, genuinely wanted to discuss the case. I assure you, whether you spoke up or not, he would have found a way to get himself kicked out the way he was."

Honda looked uneasy still, but it seemed that he was slowly getting the idea.

"Please Honda, just let the matter go and try and ignore what just happened," Yami pleaded. Honda nodded hastily, so he paused for a few moments, then added, "You are smart and you are very skilled, Honda. Please don't let someone like that kill the passion in you, alright?"

"He didn't kill it in you, Sensei," Honda whispered, looking at his feet and shrugging.

Yami looked at him in shock, taken aback by the statement.

Honda looked up at him, asking, "Did you really do explorations for eight patients one after the other?"

Yami paused slightly. Then he nodded, "Yes. I did."

"That's why you're so quick with your stitches," Honda observed.

Yami smiled, "I've said this before behind your back and I will say it again. You're giving me a run for my money, Honda."

The kid chuckled lightly. "I will never be able to take on three explorations one after the other, Sensei… never mind eight."

Yami smiled, but didn't comment further on the matter. He didn't think there was anything more to be said. He was glad that the young man was no longer apologizing and he was satisfied with that. The last thing he wanted was to have Honda traumatized for getting caught up in the middle of a war he had no idea was going on. He needed to make it clear to him that Bakura's venomous words weren't true.

The locker room's door opened before anything else could be said between them. Yami turned to his left, where the door was to see who had entered and felt a sink in the pit of his stomach at the sight of the white hair, tanned skin and cold brown eyes.

"Oh nice… having a comforting little chat with the hurt little junior, Yami… isn't this adorable?" Bakura was already spitting his venom as Yami expected him to. He got up and took a step forward towards him, just as he added with a sarcastic, derisive look towards Honda. "What? Did I make him cry? We both know I have a talent for making juniors cry. You're far more resilient than he is, how…"

Yami interrupted him. "What do you want, Bakura?" he asked in a quiet tone.

"Me? What would I want, Yami?" Bakura grinned, crossing his arms and leaning closer, invading his personal space.

Yami stood his ground bravely, with power of will that he supposed was made of titanium. He felt Honda rising to his feet beside him as well and he could just feel the buzz of nervous energy the young man was exuding behind him. He panicked, knowing that Honda was going to physically attack Bakura if he didn't do anything.

He turned, looking up at the younger man, quietly telling him, "Honda, could you please give us a few minutes alone?"

"Sensei…" Honda protested and Yami shook his head.

"Go, Honda," he insisted, a pleading look on his features.

The young man looked very uncomfortable, shooting aggressive, unhappy glances at Bakura who had a predatory look on his features that Yami knew all too well. Thankfully, Honda took the hint, opened the door which they stood in front of and left them alone, rushing out and apparently he knew that he didn't want to witness the confrontation taking place and didn't even close the door properly behind him in his haste to leave.

Yami shifted his eyes to look up at Bakura. He let his arms hang at his sides as he faced the brown-eyed, white-haired man with a closed off expression, hiding the racing of his heart at yet another familiar scene unfolding. A closed locker room with only him and Bakura in it. Every single time they stood this way, the experience ended in a lot of pain. It was simply a different setting. Yami remembered that the door had been to Bakura's back each time. It was a tiny comfort that it was to the side, this time. Perhaps if he wanted to run away in fear –like every sense screamed at him to do right now—he would be able to do that.

His pride forced him to remain standing, however.

"I suppose you enjoyed that thoroughly, didn't you?" Bakura amiably asked, chuckling darkly.

Yami blinked, "I don't know what you're talking about. I am going to ask you once again, Bakura. What do you want?"

"You've grown some claws, Yami," Bakura repeated the statement he said back in Tokyo and Yami felt a chilling shiver rushing down his spine.

"Bakura if you think you can walk into my life again and start terrorizing me the way you did back in Egypt, I will have to tell you that you are sadly mistaken," he calmly said.

He chose his words carefully. He was trying to be reasonable. Bakura was erratic and had cornered him again. He supposed that a part of him was raging and regretting that he told Honda to leave. He felt tiny and scared suddenly, missing the presence of someone with him right now. But he knew he could never live it down if Honda saw the power Bakura held over him. He knew that he couldn't appear this weak in front of the young man.

"Yami… I've ruined everything you've been struggling to pretend that you built, just by walking back into your life," Bakura smirked. Yami stayed silent, having nothing to say to that. "You easily swallowed everything I've said to you about Kaiba. And just like that, I've ruined that for you. You can do nothing except believe every single thing I say to you. Don't think for one second that you can walk away from me, Yami. We both know that you are too weak to do that."

Yami stayed silent for a while, making sure that Bakura was done. "Are you done?" he asked, an unimpressed look on his features.

"So how did the fight unfold? Did you and Kaiba yell a lot? He looks very intimidating. Has a very scary glare," Bakura amusedly added.

Yami stoically stood listening, not giving any reaction to the words and enduring them, waiting for Bakura to just be done. He had tried reasoning before and it didn't work. He tried being aggressive and that too didn't work. Very long ago, he tried affection when Bakura got like that. He was sadly mistaken that time as well.

Years later and he was standing there, trying yet another technique with Bakura. Perhaps letting him speak, saying everything he had to say, would make it easier to reason with him. Calm the pure evil residing within him, soothing the urge to just…hurt whoever stood before him?

And for what seemed like the millionth time… Yami was mistaken.

There just wasn't a right answer with Bakura. Answering him annoyed him further. Offering affection did the same. Apparently…staying unresponsive had the exact same effect as every other thing he tried with him before.

Without warning, he was pushed back into the lockers. He hadn't been expecting it so soon, especially since he really didn't say anything at all. He flinched and looked up at the irate face above him.

"Why aren't you answering me, Yami?" Bakura asked, his tone angry and his eyes livid with emotions.

"Bakura…leave," he quietly pleaded. He was sure that his eyes reflected the strength of his emotions. The anger seemed to amplify in the brown eyes and Yami knew that whatever Bakura planned on doing, he was going to do it anyway, regardless of his response and its appropriateness or lack of it. So he added in a pleading whisper, "I don't understand what you want from me. I don't want you back. And you don't want me back. Just leave me alone… go on with your life. I've gone on with mine."

The last bit caused whatever anger was there on Bakura's features to turn into a very scary expression that sent Yami's heart to his throat, a split second before he was once again slammed back into the lockers with a loud sound that seemed to reverberate in the empty room. A hand was on his chest, pinning him against the metal cupboards, while the other was fisted in his hair in a very familiar, very sickening way. His eyes were clenched shut at the expected pain and he couldn't see anything.

He was shocked when he felt Bakura pressing his lips against his.

His eyes flew open in shock and horror and that was when he started struggling earnestly. His hands rose and he clawed at the larger body pinning him against the lockers, turning his head away and trying to escape the unwelcome, unpleasant and frankly nightmarish feel of those familiar lips against his. The hand in his hair tightened, holding him in place and one of his hands was slammed back against the lockers.

One armed as he was and pathetically overpowered by Bakura's larger frame and paralyzed with fear and disgust, he felt tears of anger, humiliation and disgust gathering in the corner of his eyes. He was helpless against yet another form of abuse that Bakura apparently had no qualms pulling on him.

He closed his eyes, humiliated and ashamed to feel tears slipping beneath his lids as he continued to futilely struggle against this new form of assault and groaning in pain against the hateful touch as he felt the familiar pain in his scalp from the hold Bakura's hands had on him. There was no way to escape. He could only offer this token struggle without hope of evading it. He knew that nothing could help him out of this situation and he hope that, just like any of the others before it, it would pass.

Suddenly, he felt something brush his hand that was fisted in Bakura's clothes, trying futilely to push him away. A moment later, he felt his ex-lover's hold on him loosen slightly, then, as he was opening his eyes to see what was going on, completely let go of him.

In a déjà-vu that sent relief rushing through him, he saw a repeat of what happened that morning almost a week ago in the hotel's café in Tokyo. A familiar arm invading his vision.

Only this time, it wasn't to wrap reassuringly around his hand around a mug of coffee.

This time, Seto's hand ended up wrapped around Bakura's neck, squeezing tight enough for his knuckles to turn white and for Bakura to let go of him. Instinctively, he backed away from him a few steps. He could clearly see the scene unfolding before him.

The locker room's door was open. It had been open throughout, it seemed, since he couldn't remember hearing it close and recalled that Honda had left it open in his haste to leave. Realization dawned on him that the kid had probably gone directly to call Seto and he felt a rush of gratefulness that was based on an entirely primal and very basic survival instinct. He supposed that if he had been an outsider to the situation, he would have balked at Honda's actions, but all he knew was that he had been spared the frankly terrifying situation he had been placed in and for that, he was eternally grateful.

But once the initial relief that he had been spared Bakura's hateful touches, he took in the scene before him and realized what was going on.

Seto had a terrifying look on his face.

His heart, which had calmed marginally with Seto's appearance, started racing once again at the expression on his lover's features. He looked as if he was never going to smile again. The softness that made his eyes so breathtaking, that caused his heart to catch in his throat with the way they looked at him, was all gone. Instead, his eyes were half-lidded and hard in anger, fixed as if in a trance on Bakura. His eyebrows were fixed close to one another in a scowl and his mouth was set in a tense line, his jaw tightening with the anger that Yami could feel him radiating all around him.

His arm was stretched out in front of him, his hand still wrapped firmly around Bakura's neck. Yami could see clearly the way the long, slender fingers dug painfully into the neck they were holding on to. His thumb was lodged quite painfully into the side of Bakura's trachea and Yami knew—from past agonizing experiences—how much that particular grip hurt.

Yet, in spite of that past experience and in spite of the fact that it was Bakura who had given it to him before, Yami felt his heart sinking. Seto looked murderous. His arm was unwaveringly steady, heedless of Bakura's powerful struggles against it, pushing and splattering and coughing –quite pathetically, Yami noted. He knew that Seto wasn't about to let go of Bakura so easily. In fact, he didn't think he was going to let go of him, unless he was sure that he had done lasting damage.

"Seto, please," he quietly stepped up next to him, placing a hand on his outstretched arm.

There was noise coming from beside them, curses in Jou's distinct voice. He was asking Seto not to be stupid and to let go of the white-haired man, but it was apparent that Seto wasn't going to listen so easily to them.

"Seto," Yami tried once again, his hand tightening around Seto's forearm, standing in front of Bakura and staring up pleadingly at the brunet.

He was endlessly thankful when a hint of recognition appeared within the depths of Seto's blue eyes. Slowly, he blinked and stared down at him, not loosening his hold on Bakura, who had turned a scary shade of red, his lips turning blue and his struggles growing less violent.

"Please… Seto," he repeated in a soft tone, pleadingly looking up at the brunet. "Let him go. He won't bother us again," he said.

He didn't know what he was doing. He didn't give a rat's ass about Bakura, but he didn't want Seto to get into trouble for seriously hurting his white-haired ex-lover. In a burst of enlightenment, he made the realization that this, as well as Bakura's previous proclamations that Seto was simply using him, must be some part of a grand scheme.

He could clearly see the unfair play and Pegasus' scheming, along with Bakura's uncultivated thirst for vengeance. They had tried using rumors and the divide-and-conquer strategy, but apparently he and Seto had gotten past that. It was the only logical explanation why Bakura would attack him in broad daylight in a public locker-room. He was no longer in Egypt. People wouldn't turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to such an assault. And no matter who came to his aid, he knew Seto would react violently to this once he found out about it. With just the right push, he would lose control and do something unethical that would get him in trouble with the University's board. Physically fighting with an international observer wouldn't sit well with the board and perhaps… this was Bakura and Pegasus were aiming for.

"Seto…" he insisted once again, his hand tugging on Seto's arm, praying that he would listen.

To his relief, Seto responded.

It first started with his expressions. The coolness and dangerous look remained, but there was a slight, almost non-existent falter in the tight set of his features, recognition seeping through the red haze of blind anger to shake his self-control back into action. A few moments later, his fingers loosened around Bakura's neck. The tautness, the tension in his arm faded gradually beneath Yami's hand, the muscles slackening. Bakura crumbled to the floor, coughing and gasping for breath he had been denied, and grasping at his aching neck pathetically.

Yami breathed a sigh of relief, feeling his body relax as well. He felt himself leaning against Seto's taller frame, his knees feeling weak and wobbly all of a sudden. He wasn't disappointed. In addition to the solidity that Seto's frame provided him, he felt his hand, wrapped destructively around Bakura's windpipe just mere seconds ago, rising to wrap around his waist and pulling him close. He melted against him, letting his head rest on his upper arm, burying his face into the scrub top's sleeve and letting Seto's scent overwhelm him and soothe his frayed nerves.

There was silence in the room for a while. No sounds were heard other than Bakura gasping for breath and that too, started dwindling down to harsh breaths, then quieter tones.

It was then that he felt Seto taking in a deep breath, then felt the vibration of his voice rising from deep within him to speak in the silence of the room.

"Do not touch him again."

There seemed no need for any other words to be said. Long after the echo of them faded, the threat and finality in them extended menacingly and Yami was so grateful he wasn't at the receiving end of Seto's wrath, neither did he see it often.

Yami clenched his eyes shut tightly, his hands rising to cling to Seto, who turned, letting him lean his head onto his chest, hiding it from view and from what was going on around him, his hand rising to the back of his head. He was aware of things happening around him. Bakura cursing and threatening, Jou speaking to him in firm tones and Honda cutting in to add something. He felt his ex-lover addressing him, but didn't catch what he said and was endlessly grateful when he left. He was followed by Honda and, finally, Jou, who had whispered something at Seto before leaving.

The day was a blur after that. He recalled staying in the locker rooms with Seto for a very long while after. They had talked quietly. Gently, Seto asked him if he was alright and Yami had shakily nodded at him, complaining that once he went Kaiba, any other lips on his made him feel nauseous. Seto lightly laughed and threatened that that better be the case. They had stayed in silence, the mood much lighter all of a sudden as they stood together, Seto's arms wrapped around him protectively. He told him that he wasn't mad at him anymore and that for someone who hated apologies, he sure as hell gave the very best of them. That he wouldn't give up being the head of the department if it upset him, but that if he, Yami asked him to leave it all, he would do it gladly.

It was then that Yami stepped back, glancing at the clock and told him that they should head for their department's meeting hall. It was past four in the late afternoon. He took a deep breath and stepped away from Seto's arms, fixing his hair and his clothes, wiping the remainder of the tears on his face, then looking up at his lover, reminding him that they had to be there for the voting ceremony which still had thirty minutes until it was over. Seto had looked about to protest, but Yami vehemently shook his head and pleaded that they would just go now and enjoy the fact that Seto was going to kick Pegasus' ass, without tarnishing this victory with arguments and gestures that the brunet thought he wanted as proof for his love.

He remembered walking in to stubbornly cast his vote, holding his head high and throwing a disdainful look at Pegasus who has an irate, annoyed look on his features and Bakura was standing next to him, looking murderous. He placed his slip of paper into the box and walked out after directing yet another disdainful glance at the duo. He hadn't know then that Pegasus would resign from their hospital two weeks later and leave Domino and that Bakura would leave Japan and its observership programs and that this would be the last time he ever laid eyes on him.

He didn't know all that as he walked out, looking ahead just to watch his way without knocking into anyone or anything. He paced through the now-familiar hallways of the hospital. He passed by the in-patient wards that he and Honda spent hours in, discussing cases and changing Yami's perspective on doing rounds, while the kid learned new tricks and tidbits from him. He passed by the offices where he and Seto argued over their thesis topic, took the elevator where they first kissed. He passed the operating rooms' floor, and exited the elevator to pass by the cafeteria where Seto endlessly teased him about his diet and suggested swimsuit colors. He saw Ryuji performing CPR on a patient in the ER's arrest room and unseeingly exited the building.

It was raining. It seemed like ages since he had arrived this morning and left his tiny car in the parking area. He was still walking as if in a daze towards his car. He stopped halfway between the gates through which he exited the building and the spot where he parked his car, suddenly realizing that he had gotten soaked thoroughly as he stood contemplating several things at once.

The day had been a remarkable one.

While Bakura had managed to physically attack him yet again, there were many other things that Yami did not allow him to do. He hadn't cowered out of the PACU as he had done a few months after Bakura started outright abusing him, at work and outside it. He used to cower and doubt himself when asked a very simple question, such as the indications for a surgery, but with a venomous tone and a sarcastic leer. That day he had kept calm, didn't let anything make him forget how much time, energy and literal blood sweat and tears he spent on making himself a great surgeon. He didn't let insults get to him, but at the same time, managed to embarrass Bakura by jumping to the defense of the junior-most resident of the department. He did not allow him to ruin the ego of yet another person. And that was the greatest victory he had achieved today.

He would always remember standing there for many minutes after that and not knowing what was it that made him pause like that. The feel of the rain beating down on him, dressed in his scrubs still with a sweatshirt donned over it for warmth, drenched through to the bone. He didn't know if it was tiredness that stopped him like that, or mental strain, or the fact that he once again had to face a nightmare he thought he had left behind.

The day was remarkable. He would always remember it.

He would remember the shock-like sensation that froze him beneath Domino's chilly, violent downpour. He would always remember the relief that he hadn't fallen into one of the most intricate traps of medical politics he ever encountered. He would always remember that he felt too tired after the battle that he had been dragged into unknowingly, almost ruining quite possibly the best relationship he had with someone else.

He would always remember Seto running out in the downpour towards him, shaking him and asking if he was alright. He remembered a numb nod, Seto's concern at it, his insistence that he provided a sane answer for the very insane way he was standing the way he was in the rain. He remembered the way the brown locks were plastered to the sides of Seto's face, the way his nose was slightly red from the coolness of the weather. He remembered the way they had kissed under the rain, letting the stress and tension that lingered between them fade away completely, washed away by the water soaking both of them through. He remembered how grateful he was for the fading memory of Bakura's unwelcome touch, the way he never noticed how breathless he was getting under the rain and kissing the way they were.

He would always fondly look back on the few days after that incident, where they both stayed bed-ridden with a nasty cold from standing in the rain for too long and going home, instead of drying up completely, they preferred the slow love-making without making sure that the house was properly warmed and all the windows closed. They had been far too busy trying to establish a physical contact, the intimacy that mingled every moment of their sexual activity, to really care. And after they were done, spent in one another's arms, they were more preoccupied with the fact that Yami had clung to Seto and cried, the tension of the past two weeks making itself known at a moment of vulnerability. The relief and safety of Seto's arms around him made him oblivious to the cold, and it was obvious that Seto was more concerned with calming him down and making sure he was alright, than the cold that was slowly weakening his immune system. They slept, giggling slightly at Seto's remark that he didn't know if he should take it as an insult that his partner cried right after sleeping with him. They woke up with sore throats, clogged noses and fever.

They had attended the party thrown in honor of the new head of department looking sharp in their suits, but looking pale and ill, with tissues in their pockets and Tylenol pills taken before it. He would always remember fondly the way Seto had once again offered, while blowing his nose that was an adorable shade of red from being sick and eyes too glassy and bright with fever to be considered normal, to let go of the position for him. To reassure him.

Yami had joked and told him to get well soon, because there was no way he was wiggling out of his new job.

He knew that the only thing that can prove Bakura's claims about Seto wrong…was time. The only thing that could prove the wisdom behind giving up the safety of walking away from the uncertainty of it all and instead actually taking that leap of faith they both spoke of, would be time.

And so, he waited.

He waited for those first few weeks. Waited for the funny comments at work to stop, but the childish banter between them that amused everyone in and out of the OR resumed, everyone waiting for the new ways with which Seto would embarrass him or make him blush and all the sassy comments he, Yami had to say in reply. He waited for their little coffee dates to cease, but they didn't.

He waited for stupid comments on his work, and instead, Seto made sure to openly praise every new skill mastered, or every difficult case managed fervently, even contacting one of Japan's most prestigious medical journals with a paper Yami had written and sending it to them, surprising him during a candlelit dinner with the journal asking permission to publish it. He had waited for comments to be made at his frankly shit moods and the way he dealt with stress. Instead, Seto's patience seemed to be abundant in ways that Yami thought should be studied with avid interest.

He waited for the disinterest and boredom Seto spoke of with past lovers to come through…but instead, Seto never tired of telling him that he loved him, showing him that repeatedly. He even waited for the sex to get boring…but there was never a dull time in their bed and each time they were joined felt like the very first one. He had waited to be left alone during a few bad days where he felt too depressed to get out of bed. Seto had immediately taken time off and stayed with him, holding him and simply being there until he got better.

He waited for weeks, then months and months after it.

Then it finally sank in that, for once, he had made the right choice. All he had to do now was hold on for as long as he could. After years and years of disappointments, loneliness and fear of pain. After making sure to confirm that he wanted to proceed with this and…try, he knew that all he had to do now, is fall deeper, hold on tighter and simply enjoy their days together.

It was time to give life a second chance.

The End…

A/N: thoughts? Remarks? The fic as a whole…hated, loved, what was it like? How can I improve? What did you want to see and was disappointed when you didn't find it?

Let me know, lovely people. Thanks a million 3