Warnings and Disclaimer: Okay, I own my three mages, but the rest have to go home with someone else for the moment.  *looks at Yugi*  What?  I'm trying!  Those damn lawyers won't let you go!

A/N 1: As said in the summary, this story is only temporarily off hold.  A couple people reviewed asking me to continue this, and when I found out they'd put this on their favorites list, I decided the least I could do was post what I had written when I stopped, though I doubt I'll actually write more.  Since I was starting the ninth chapter when I realized my plot sucked, I'll probably finish that and quit.

* * * * *

The three strangers looked down at the small child.

"It's a kid."

The lone woman snorted.  "That's rather obvious, Akai.  'Kara, could you give us some light?"

Chikara pulled out something from beneath his cloak.  Closing his fist around it, he concentrated for a moment.  Then he opened his hand, revealing a small, glowing crystal.  "Do you have any idea how old he is?" he asked quietly.

"No clue.  Odd-looking, isn't he?"

"Akai, he is not!  He's cute!"

"Kasan, you're a girl," the redhead replied.  "You think anything smaller than you is cute.  Hell, you even thought those imps we ran in to out in the Badlands were cute."  Akai ducked as his teammate swung at his head irritably.  "I mean, there's no way that hair's natural.  Think he uses a spell?"

"That's enough, both of you," Chikara cut in, gazing down at the figure on the ground.  "He's waking up."

* * * * *

Awakening came slowly for Yugi, as his sleep-fogged mind tried to remember just what he was doing lying on the ground.  He shifted slightly, and whimpered as cramped muscles began to scream.  Then memory flooded back, and he whimpered again.

"Are you alright?"

The hikari jerked in surprise, sitting up so fast he swayed from the sudden rush of blood to his brain.  A hand reached out and steadied him, and he looked up into a girl's kindly face.  "Wha-…?"

"Easy there, you look like you're gonna fall over if Kasan lets you go."  Yugi blinked as a gangly redhead settled awkwardly to the ground.  "'Course, if you happen to enjoy fainting, we won't stop you."

The girl sighed, using her free hand to tug a wisp of blonde hair away from her face.  "Akai, you're not helping."

The boy had just opened his mouth to retort when Yugi at last found his voice.  "W-who are you?"

They both blinked, looking at the fourteen-year-old.  "Oh, right!" the blonde exclaimed, smiling sheepishly.  "I'm Kasan, that idiot sitting over there is Akai, and the guy propping up the tree behind you is Chikara."

Yugi whirled, eyes wide as he saw there was indeed a third person behind him.  Grey eyes watched him steadily, and their owner nodded his dark head in acknowledgement.  Yugi nodded back warily, and glanced back at the others.  "I'm Yugi.  It's… it's nice to meet you, I guess."

* * * * *

Chikara frowned, watching the tiny boy.  He was, well, not completely relaxed, since he was after all talking to complete strangers, but the fact alone that he'd fallen asleep outside told the mage much of this world.  Such an innocent place, where one didn't have to worry about monsters hiding in every shadow…

A pity it would not last much longer.  Such innocence should have been preserved, cherished…

Damn the Void for making this necessary!

He sighed inaudibly, stepping away from the tree.  "Yugi, why are you out here?  Shouldn't you be at home this time of the night?"

The boy tensed.  "I… I came out here during the day and fell asleep."

Chikara arched an eyebrow.  "Alone?  Is that really safe?"

Surprisingly, the question only sparked the slightest of smiles.  "Not really."

"So why aren't you at home?"  The mage hated to do this; it was obvious the child didn't want to answer his real question, but it felt important.  And as an empath, Chikara had learned to follow his feelings.

For a moment the boy stayed stubbornly silent, before his face abruptly crumbled.  "I- please, don't make me go back there.  I don't want to go back…"

Surprised, Kasan wrapped her arms around the child as he began to tremble, though his eyes stayed locked on Chikara.  She gazed up at her teammate, the silent question in her face plain.

"Do you think…?" Akai asked, obviously touched despite his practiced cynicism.

Sighing again, the oldest of the three joined his comrades on the ground.  He set the bit of quartz down in front of him, knowing the magic in it would linger long enough for their purposes.  There was a gasp from Yugi as he caught sight of the crystal, and Chikara couldn't help his smile.  Apparently magic was rare here.

"Why are you here?"  The three blinked at the unexpected question, sharp and suspicious, and Kasan let go of the boy.  There was a new wariness in his eyes, and he'd stopped shaking.

"We're here to warn you."  Chikara closed his eyes as he spoke of their home, their war, and of what was coming.  "We came to find… well, an ally, if you will."

Yugi snorted.  "No one will believe you.  You'll be lucky if all they do is toss you in a mental hospital."  He grimaced at their curious looks.  "Don't ask, they're not nice places.  Anyway, there are very few who still believe in magic, and they're dismissed as delusional."

"But you believe in it," Chikara commented.

The boy just pointed at the still-glowing crystal, smirking, and the mage winced.  "Good point.  But if what you say is true, then we'll have to change our plans.  We need… an ambassador, someone to argue our case."

"The Council won't like that," Akai said, grinning.  "Let's do it.  What do you think?" he asked Yugi.

"What… you mean you want me to be…?" the boy asked, shocked as the redhead nodded.

"You seem smart enough, and besides, I think Kasan's adopted you," he said, glancing over at the blonde, who had somehow managed to hover motherly over Yugi without even moving.  "She'd hurt us if we left you behind.  Provided you want to go, of course.  It… didn't seem like you wanted to stay."

Chikara smiled at the boy as he looked around at the three of them, trying to decide if they were serious.  It was only a minute before he broke out into an answering smile, and the mage knew he had a new teammate.

"All right, I'll do it."

* * * * *

A/N 2: *looks back at her first author's note and grimaces* Well, so much for not writing any more then I already had.  This is about twice the length of the original chapter, and has a lot more characterization and plot development.

Review Responses:

AngelsKitten, Liz, Black RoseL Me, and Dragon Princess, I don't know that any of you are still reading this after so long with no updates, but thanks anyway.  Sakurai No Yuki, Pika C./Yugi's girl, thanks for getting me to post some more of this.