Chapter Three: My Cherished One Returns
Pharaoh... Yugioh... Pharaoh Yugioh...
The two words continued to rotate in Pharaoh's mind.
Yuugi loved one. The other had threatened to kill him. One was a man. The other a god. Both were Yuugi's lover...
But the two were the same! They had to be! How could you possibly have one without the other? Where would the crown rest if not on the head of the man? Who would the man be without the definition of the crown? You could not separate the two.
But Yuugi did.
Yuugi insisted that the two were different. He felt so strongly about it that he declared his love for one and hatred of the other. Felt so strongly that the pain at seeing the two merge had brought him to tears when questioned on the matter. Felt so strongly that at the first opportunity had left Pharaoh's side during an argument to tend a patient rather than staying and bringing the matter to a close.
Pharaoh's brows furrowed and his eyes narrowed as his anger at his confusion threatened to consume him. Is that what Yuugi had been referring to, what he accused him of not doing? Not separating himself... But then that just brought him back to the fact that he and Yugioh were one in the same and impossible to separate because there was nothing to separate.
Pharaoh raised his fist, intending to slam it against the bed in a futile attempt to release some of his anger. His arm stopped abruptly when it was in front of his face, the gold band around his wrist reflecting his wide eyes and stunned expression.
Pharaoh stared hard at his reflection. How... hadn't he removed the jewelry when he had bathed? Was that not part of his nightly ritual? He raised his free hand to trail his fingers over the polished metal, having to prove to himself through touch that the band was indeed there and not some morbid projection of his weary mind. His eyes trailed over to his other wrist, the same gold band encompassing his arm, the same rings adorning his fingers.
He didn't feel the urge to check and see if he still wore the rest of his jewelry. If these pieces were still on his body, then the others would be as well. He didn't understand. He didn't understand how he couldn't feel the cold metal against his skin. He didn't understand how he had associated the weight of the gold with his own.
He couldn't remember the last time the pieces had been removed.
Placing his finger on one of the wristbands, Pharaoh summoned a portion of his remaining magic and slowly cut through the gold, the only possible method for removing the adornment, allowing the piece to fall to the stone floor.
He paused as he looked at the newly exposed skin. His tan did not extended the length of his forearm, stopping just below his elbow and resuming again at the base of his wrist. The skin that had been hidden by the gold band was pale, dry, and now that it was exposed to the air, itched like mad. Pharaoh ignored the discomfort and proceeded to remove his jewelry.
The other arm band.
Plink. Plink plink. Plink, plink, plink.
The gold bands around his ankles.
The golden necklace that framed his chest.
The earrings he wore.
Clink. Clink. Plink clink.
Pharaoh closed his eyes and took a deep, cleansing breath, amazed at how the removal of a weight he did not realize he carried could be so freeing. Not only did his body feel lighter for his efforts, but his spirit, his mind, his thoughts, his heart... just everything. He wondered how long it had been since he last felt this lightness, how long it had taken for the tan lines to become as obvious and telling as they were.
A small grin of pride graced Yuugi's lips as he watched Pharaoh's body relax with its newfound freedom. He had returned to the room by way of a secret passage, unwilling to be glared at by any more guards this evening. He had crept quietly into the room, unsure what response his return would garner. He returned in time to watch Pharaoh remove his rings, having kept his presence hidden so as not to interrupt Pharaoh's remarkable shedding of his title.
Yuugi could barely contain the joy in his heart as Pharaoh continued to remove his jewelry. As each piece clinked against the floor, Yugioh took another step on the long road back to him. The jewelry was the greatest symbol of Pharaoh, and the sheer courage it took for Pharaoh to discard the imagery made Yuugi fall in love with him all over again. Pharaoh had listened to his words and was making an attempt to correct his actions. Even if he did not succeed, the effort alone was enough to restore the faith Yuugi had in him.
Pharaoh opened his eyes slowly, looking around his chambers as though for the first time. It was the same room, of course. Same furnishings, same balcony, same view, same purpose. But it looked a little different, felt a little different, was a little different. Just like himself. He leaned forward on the bed, bringing a hand to his head so he could run it though his hair. Only his hand never got the chance as it froze when it came in contact with the final, solid, brazing symbol of Pharaoh.
Pharaoh's fingers hesitantly traced the intricately carved detail of the golden headdress, picturing the curves of the metal with absolute perfection. This... this is who he was, who he had been, who he was seen as, who he was expected to be. It was his comfort, his consort, his conscious, his being. And yet, according to Yuugi, that had not always been so. At one point he had not needed the crown, had not been associated with it. The crown had held no meaning.
He had been Yugioh. Just... Yugioh.
Pharaoh frowned as he found that his hand was not moving as he had instructed it to. It remained still against the crown despite Pharaoh's best efforts to force it into action. He wasn't sure if he was ready for this, wasn't sure if he could be anyone other than Pharaoh. But Pharaoh had been the one who had hurt Yuugi, threatened his life...
With a final surge of emotion Pharaoh grabbed his crown and tore it from his head, flinging the offensive item across the room and as far from him as possible. He sat panting as he watched the crown skip along the floor, skidding to a rest against the furthest reaches of his balcony. His hand burned from the action and his mouth was dry.
But he had done it.
Yuugi gasped quietly at Pharaoh's sudden and violent removal of his crown. He watched in fascination as the crown skidded to a halt, screaming its protest as it was so blatantly cast aside. Yuugi immediately made his way over to Pharaoh, concern mixed with pride burning from his eyes as he watched his lover tremble with the massiveness of his action. The two eventually made eye contact as Pharaoh was able to wrench his gaze from the balcony.
"You... will not be... disappointed... with me, will you?" Yugioh asked quietly, the trepidation and uncertainty he felt causing his voice to sound fragile and whisper thin.
Yuugi's eyes widened at the question. It had been so long since he had last spoken with Yugioh. Too long since he had heard the words of the man he had fallen in love with. He was overwhelmed with the moment, emotions swirling and colliding within his heart with such force that he thought he would burst. Love, surprise, nervousness, fear, heat, chill, excitement, joyfulness... breathtaking elation that threatened to spring forth and drown both him and Yugioh in its passionate embrace.
Yugioh began to feel anxious as time ticked by and Yuugi had yet to answer his question. Perhaps he had been too late, or maybe he wasn't whom Yuugi had remembered him to be. He wasn't use to such feelings of insecurity. He didn't know how to deal with the emotion, how to respond to the nervous energy that was flooding him. He slowly curled himself against the head of his bed, burying himself into the pillows that did their best to offer comfort.
Yuugi blinked when Yugioh's movement registered in his mind, pulling him from his memories and back into the present. He felt a sharp pain in his chest when he saw Yugioh's fetal position, guilt searing through him as he realized that he never answered his question. He crawled onto the bed and laid his hand on top of Yugioh's head, massaging his fingers through his hair in apology. He then placed his hands on Yugioh's shoulders, encouraging him to sit up and look at him.
"I have never been disappointed in you," Yuugi said as he placed his finger under Yugioh's chin, raising it gently so he could see into those stunning eyes. "I don't think that is even possible. Annoyed? Yes. Frustrated? Many times." He paused as the ghost of a smile crossed Yugioh's lips. "But I have never been disappointed in you, Yugioh."
The conversation paused as both men allowed themselves to fall into the moment. Yuugi had wanted to speak that name for so long; the sensual pleasure of pushing the word over his tongue and past his lips was enough to make his whole body tingle.
A similar effect was had on Yugioh as for the first time in a long while he had been addressed by his name, not his crown. There had been a time when he would have loathed hearing his name, would have hated the sound and the implication of mortality that accompanied it. But when Yuugi said his name, it was like listening to honey as it sweetened whatever fruits it was placed upon. How he had missed his name, missed its sound, missed the look in Yuugi's eyes when he spoke the word.
"Yuugi?" Yugioh asked softly as a question rose in his mind.
Yuugi tilted his head slightly, indicating he was listening as his eyes sparkled with curiosity. He leaned forward, his eagerness getting the better of him as he easily slid into the comfort he had always felt when he was with Yugioh.
"When was the last time I kissed you?"
Yuugi pursed his lips. "You kiss me all the time. The last time was right after breakfast, I think."
"No," Yugioh corrected. "Not Pharaoh. When was the last time I kissed you?"
Yuugi's eyes widened for a moment in understanding before he considered the question. He folded his legs beneath him as he tried to remember the last time he and Yugioh had kissed. He wasn't having much luck.
"I take it from your silence that you are having difficulty remembering," Yugioh said as he brought his knees under him. Yuugi blinked up at him, blushing lightly as Yugioh so easily noticed his inability to remember. "That is not acceptable."
Yuugi's eyes drifted closed as Yugioh's fingers brushed over his lips, traced along his jaw, and curled into the hair at the nape of his neck. He held in a sigh as he felt Yugioh's cool breath pass over his lips before he felt Yugioh kiss him softly, barely allowing Yuugi to feel the touch before pulling away and leaning back in with the same amount of softness.
The kiss progressed slowly, not fueled by a sexual passion but a mutual love and respect for the other. Yuugi parted his lips slightly, passing his tongue slowly over Yugioh's bottom lip to indicate his desire for a more intimate kiss. Yugioh immediately obliged, his tongue reaching out to curl beneath Yuugi's upper lip so he could guide it between his own and give it proper attention. Yuugi moaned softly in appreciation as Yugioh suckled his lip and tickled his fingers in his hair, holding his head affectionately as he tried to begin making up for the pain he had caused.
Yuugi raised his hand and placed it flat against Yugioh's chest as he leaned further into the kiss, his tongue plunging into Yugioh's mouth as the relief and joy he was feeling melted into a fiery passion and lustful urgency to be one with Yugioh before he had a chance to disappear again. Yugioh noticed the sudden forcefulness in Yuugi's movements and broke their contact slowly, letting Yuugi's lip slip from between his with a final kiss. He pulled back far enough so he could rub his nose against Yuugi's in a soothing manner.
"Your fear is warranted, love," Yugioh whispered as he brought his hands forward to cup Yuugi's cheeks, keeping their faces touching, using his thumbs to wipe away the crystal tears that glittered Yuugi's cheeks. "I understand your tears. And though I will have to assume the role of Pharaoh on occasion, I promise you that I, that Yugioh, will never forsake you again."
A hiccup escaped Yuugi as he smiled through his tears. He knew he could trust Yugioh, trust the conviction behind his words and the promise in his touch. It would take time, but already the flames on the bridge between them had been extinguished and all that it required now was attention.
Yuugi chuckled. "I have an answer for your question." Yugioh narrowed his eyes in confusion, not following Yuugi's rather sudden admission.
"You just kissed me now."
Yugioh groaned at the light jab as Yuugi laughed and leaned in for another kiss.
~ Drw ~