What Do You Think? By: Shimegami Warnings: Yaoi, angst, dark Disclaimer: Not mine. Don't sue. AN: Plot-bunny. Thankfully, it's not a multi-parter, just one long one- shot about an issue that's been bugging me. Maybe. Read, and thusly, you shall see.

Special Notes:

In this, I am a firm believer of the fact that Set resides in the Rod, and Malik's insanity came in part because he was not the true owner of the Rod. Thus, when Isis gives the Rod to Seto, he would release the spirit. Malik's yami was his own mind, and not the Rod, so Set could have easily stayed in, waiting for the Rod to pass into the correct hands. Whatever. He's here, and I like him.

/Yugi/ //Yami// [Ryou] [[Bakura]] :Seto: ::Set::

The Wonderful Adventures Of Yugi Motou And Company (part one...?)

Yugi always hated his reflection.

The reasons why had changed vastly over the years, but the basic fact remained that he avoided mirrors whenever possible.

First, as a small child, his vastly overactive imagination spun many stories, many over his strange appearance. He made up thousands of stories. Some had been childishly wonderful: he was someone important of some magical race, and the mirror would spirit him away to his home world, where he would be welcomed with open arms and celebration, and he would live a wonderful life. He created these stories when his own family life became a little too much for him to bear, and allowed himself to feel hopeful.

The majority of his imaginings, however, weren't so lovely. He was afraid that his reflection housed his evil self, just waiting to switch places and wreck havoc in his little fragile world. A extension of the strangely dark smirk that would slip over his face when he was little, when he was just trying to smile normally. He became so afraid of that expression that to this day he never smiled in more than a large grin or a slight upturning of lips.

Of course, his fear of an evil self evaporated when said evil self turned out to be quite kind and loving, to him at least.

The appearance of Yami and the related events were the highlights of his life really. And those days held a different dislike of the mirror. Not one of fear, but of self-loathing and hatred.

His beautiful dark half, confident and commanding, who was not afraid to let that dark smirk slip across his face, was everything Yugi Motou was not. Yugi Motou was a tiny body with an overly soft face, and an unerring bully magnet. Yami defeated the bullies Yugi had lived in such fear of. For that Yugi had both loved and resented him. He never hated Yami. It was impossible to hate the spirit when they talked, communing on a such a deep level that Yugi had never felt with anyone else. Still, when Yami retreated to the depths of his soul room and Yugi was alone in the bathroom, all he could see was the weakness in his soft face, the total lack of anything that could have been called "strength".

Yami had laughed at him for that.

He had then leaned forward, and ruffled Yugi's hair. (It had pained the spirit, then, that Yugi was the only solid thing he could touch, affect.) He had then stated that Yugi held a different kind of strength, one that was not much appreciated in modern times. Yugi held the kindness and compassion that his commanding other self lacked, and in a way Yugi was everything Yami was not. They were two halves of a whole, and should one leave, they would never feel complete again.

Yugi never resented his darker half ever again.

After those words, he had a blissfully short time when the mirror held no fear for him. Everything had been put in order during that time - Ryou had gained control over his darker half by a confession, and the spirit had tamed down considerably. Seto gaining the Rod had resulted in the freeing of a new darker half, that of Set, Yami's former High Priest. Tension had reigned high for a while, then explanations came forth and all was resolved and forgiven, if not forgotten. Malik had become manageable, and even somewhat friendly. All in all, the last of high school and college had been a blissfull time, full of friends and comforts, devoid of worries and frights.

He should have known it wouldn't last. Nothing in his life ever did, except Yami. The spirit was the one thing that would never leave, and Yugi was glad for that one constant.

However, his new life was gaining a new constant, and he didn't like this one as much. It was the sole reason he feared mirrors once more.

He sat in front of one now, studying his reflection intently. He hadn't grown much taller, only equalling Yami in height now. His body resembled his darker half's as well; lithe and slightly muscular. He didn't understand this, as he never worked out. Yami merely shrugged and said it was because he had been active in ancient Egypt. They were bonded magically, and he was a partial reincarnation. Yami had failed to mention the other side effects of their bonding. Such as the fact that he didn't look a day over sixteen really, despite the fact that he hadn't looked this way at sixteen. His face, although slightly narrower, was still soft. His eyes, although narrower, were still wide and guileless. In short, he barely looked sixteen, and eighteen would be pushing it.

He certainly didn't look twenty-eight.

He wasn't aging. At all. At twenty-eight he still looked the exact same as at twenty. Although one could argue that such a time didn't have drastic aging leaps, he knew that there were at least minor ones. Minor ones that he was still not having. He looked the *exact same*.

He remembered when he had first confessed his barely forming doubts to his best friend. Jou had turned, looked at him, then, hiding the strain behind his *aging* face, Jou had cheerily proclaimed that of course Yugi had changed. He was just too used to looking at himself to see it. His smile hadn't reached his eyes.

But Yugi knew his face better than others. It is hard to have a near- identical spirit in constant contact with you, and not learn every line of your face intimately when comparing yourselves. They used to spend days just pointing out the differences between their eyelashes.

And now, two years later, even Jou couldn't deny it anymore. Yugi was simply *not changing*. It felt strange and terrifying at times, and he would avoid the mirror and curl up under the covers, trying to avoid facing the day. Other times he would find himself angry, not at himself, but at others. At Jou, for looking like a responsible man nearing his thirties, never mind that responsibility was still a foreign concept to the party- loving blond. At Honda, for always looking older than he was, and currently looked to be in his mid-thirties, a source of never-ending aggravation for him. At Mokuba, who actually looked his age of twenty-two and didn't fucking get asked at the movie theater if he wanted a student ticket.

He had asked Yami about it, of course, two months ago. And the spirit was never able to deny Yugi anything, especially when it made him this distraught.

So Yami had looked at him with pained eyes and whispered hoarsely "I'm sorry."

It was an effect of the Puzzle, of course. Everything in Yugi's life had revolved around it, and he should've known that it would be involved in this as well.

The magic bonding the Item to the owner was very strong, and mostly revolved around protecting them. However, this magic was so very strong that it protected its owner from *all* harmful effects, be it the decay of cells during aging or a bolt of magical energy. In fact, in a few years, as the magic worked its way through his body and firmly entrenched itself there, not even physical force would harm him.

In effect, he had become immortal, in all forms of the term.

It had shocked him, at first. Him, live forever? He didn't know if it was forever, or simply as long as the Puzzle worked, or whatever, he had simply spent a week in a near robotic state, mind unable to handle it.

Then came the anger. Anger at Yami for not telling him earlier, although that one dissolved quickly. Anger at the Puzzle, for doing this to him, although it was strange to be angry at an inanimate object, no matter its power. Then, the anger dissovled, and the fear remained.

He didn't know what to do. What was going to happen? Although his personal safety was guarunteed, what of his friends? Jou, Honda, Anzu, Mai, Mokuba, all of them had no Item or magical powers. They were aging, and they would fall prey to the unstoppable force of death that no human escapes.

Except him, of course. He would be left alone.

Of course, he wouldn't be totally alone. Ryou and Seto suffered the same fate. Yugi had asked Yami if all of the holders of the Items would suffer this fate. He had said no, that the Items without a spirit didn't have strong enough magic to preserve their owners so perfectly. The Items with a spirit had to have magic to keep said spirit alive, and so had extraordinarily strong protective powers. Strong enough to grant immortality. While the other items would grant longer life, and most likely faster healing, their owners would not live forever. One hundred and fifty years at the most, had been Yami's estimation.

Of course, due to Bakura and Set, Ryou and Seto at least would always be with him.

And even if they left him, Yami would always be there.

Now, two months after the discovery, all he felt was numb acceptance. But it was coming back to slap him in the face with his rapidly ailing grandfather. Another victim to a weary body that couldn't support its soul anymore. Another consequence Yugi would never face.

The fear had never gone away, not really.

The others were all drifting away from him, slowly. Despite all their friendship speeches, it only holds so long when you realize that long after you're six feet under and rotting, your best friend will be no different. He had to tell them all the truth, he had to. It would be unfair to them, had he stayed the same, year after year, unchanging, while they succumbed to arthritis and cataracts and other signs that your body is failing you. They at least deserved to know why.

He wondered sometimes, if telling them was anymore fair than not speaking up.

But there was nothing he could do about it.

He couldn't get rid of the Puzzle. It would always find its way back to him, its rightful owner, and he would risk serious mental damage should he try to break its bond to him.

And of course, there was no force on Earth, not even immortality, that would make him give up Yami.

Ryou had reacted with quiet shock. The large chocolate brown orbs blank with failure to absorb the information. Bakura had been unnaturally subdued. No doubt he hadn't wanted to let his light in on this nasty little aspect of the Items, but seeing no other choice. Even now Ryou looked beautifully angsty in his quiet despair. A fallen angel mourning his loss of Heaven. It had hit his gentle soul the hardest.

Seto was unbelieving. It had taken him months to accept the fact that Set even existed, and even now it took a lot of convincing to make the elder Kaiba believe anything that wasn't solid hard fact. But even Seto couldn't ignore the way that his facial features hadn't changed since he had acquired the Rod. Even he couldn't deny that no one, not even Mokuba, could take a picture of him at twenty-two and picture of him now and state which was which.

And so that let him to where he was now. At twenty-eight, when he should be starting his road of careers, or start becoming settled into one, he was pondering if it was even worth it. What was the point of living to watch all your friends die? He wasn't immune to physical harm just yet, a slice of a steak knife or a few too many pills, and he wouldn't have to worry about it.

//But you won't do it, aibou.// The voice settled like dark chocolate velvet around his mind, as cinnamon-tinted arms wrapped around his shoulders. That voice, no matter what depths of hell Yugi descended into, would always be welcome, and would always be with him.

/No, I won't./ He leaned backwards into his dark half's arms. He closed his eyes and let his entire body relax into the protection of the spirit. It had taken a great deal of energy and practice, but Yami had finally regained the power to appear in a solid form. The first night he had done it had been filled with a joyful but solitary celebration between Yami and Yugi, a celebration of roaming hands and delicate touches, of endearments gasped out loud for the first time. Despite the fact that Yami had the energy now to stay solid for days at a time, they rarely ever had sex. They had loved each other almost as long as Yugi had known of Yami. It would be extremely hard to not love literally a half of yourself with your total being. It was even harder when you shared your mind with them. Compared to the soul-bond they had, physical fun seemed a bit cheap. Sex just didn't equal feeling a pure bubble of just pure love sent to you through a mind-link. It didn't come close to just sitting there and *feeling* with someone.

Of course, physical fun had its place, too.

/I won't, because that's running away, and I would be failing them. Besides.../ He tilted his head back to stare into Yami's ruby eyes, that either lightened into a beautiful rose red with mischief and laughter, or darkened into deep blood-wine with deeper emotions of lust or sorrow. His eyes were darker now, not the total depth they could achieve, but a tinted crimson. It was the color of worry and reassurance.

//Besides, if you live on, and carry their memories with you, then they're immortal too, in a way.// Yami finished his sentence, demonstrating the effortless rapport they had. Compared to a soul-bond, any other relationship felt very shallow to Yugi.

He smiled softly at his dark half. /Exactly. Not to mention Jou would yell at me for being a coward and a "selfish dork" as he puts it. And.../ His face became more serious, and he reached up to caress the skin that was magically tanned, a memory of hot sun once felt. /If I die, then I'd kill you too, and I wouldn't do that for anything./

A "bubble", as Yugi so termed it, was simply a group of emotion and feeling. He called it that, because to make one you had to gather you emotions into one solid group, and then send them down the mind-link, where it would "pop" and surround the other end with the emotions. It was their favorite way to communicate. Much like everything else, words fell short to pure emotion.

He received one now from Yami, a bubble of love and gratitude and comfort. It was nice to know he was needed, and that he needed that person in return. But, despite all the comforting feelings in the world, it couldn't erase the uneasiness that one day, he would have to watch all his friends being lowered into the ground. And that hurt.

The hand that had been caressing Yami's cheek now moved to tug at the golden bangs insistently. The spirit obediantly lowered his head and met his mouth with Yugi's. After the short kiss, Yugi turned himself around to grant better access to his face, and to prevent awkward postitions. Yami accepted this change with shifted weight, and caught Yugi's face to press another kiss to the pale lips.

Yes, physical reassurances of love seemed rather cheap to the "bubbles" of mind-links and soul-bonds. But it did one thing they couldn't, and that was to cause forgetfulness. It helped to forget the fears of an uncertain future of a light-souled young boy, and it helped to ease the memories of endless darkness of a spirit who understood all too well the meaning of immortality.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------

The beeping of the heart moniter and the sound of labored breathing were the only sounds to permeate the white-washed room.

It was rooms like these that caused Yugi to hate his association with the pure color. It was so empty and sterile and so devoid of life that it was hard to believe that anything *could* live here.

And very soon, a soul would be released to the grip of the maddening safety- white of the walls and ceilings.

It had been three years since the discovery of the Puzzle's true effect on Yugi. And, true to word, he still had not changed. Seto had finally come to accept the fact that he was not going to change, and now watched Mokuba, engaged and in training to run Kaiba Corp., with a devestating calm. Ryou had dissappeared with his father to Egypt, hoping to escape his frightening future by immmersing himself in the past. And Yugi remained, immovable.

'He won't make it through the night, so you'd best stay here if you want to be there when...' The attendent's words had faltered then, halted by the threat of death and by the almost-dead stares given to him by the two nearly-indentical men standing in front of him.

That had been an hour ago.

The bed held the once-lively form of Sugoroku Motou. The old man, barely teetering on the edge of life, was succumbing to the call of age at last. He was dying the quiet death of the old, a slow and gentle breakdown of the vital functions. Yugi made a morbid bet with himself on which would go first, the heart or the lungs.

Yugi hated hospitals.

The only other person in the room tightened his arms around his light. There was nothing he could do. His powers all revolved around darkness and destruction. He could only bring death, not stop it. His place here was to comfort his delicate light.

"Will it all be like this?" Yugi's voice, spoken out loud, brought a blink from Yami. Yugi was watching his grandfather with a resigned air. "Everyone. Am I to watch them all slowly waste away in this damned excuse for a room, while I go on? In this stupid bright white room. I hate this room. It's too bright and dead. It's a pitiful excuse for a room of healing. Am I to watch them all slip away from me, stolen by this stupid - fucking - white-" Yugi, in the middle of his rant, leaped up out of Yami's arms and made his way to the life support, grabbing the power supply wire. He halted for a moment, and turned to watch his darker half with dead eyes. Yami merely looked back.

There was nothing that could be said or done that hadn't been said before. Instead, he merely got up from the chair and wrapped his arms around Yugi again, and sent everything he felt and knew towards Yugi.


It did it. Yugi slumped into his arms, totally spent. /Yes, you'll always be here. And I can't ask for anything more, can I? I hate to see him like this, Yami.../

//Then send him on his way to a peaceful afterlife, aibou, if you wish.// Yami spoke quietly, with a mental nod of his head towards the wire held in Yugi's pale hands. The black line ran across his palm, an inky mar against the pearly marble of his completion. Yugi liked the contrast. Black and white. Dark and light. Yami and Hikari.

"Anywhere is better then here." He mumbled softly, giving the black cord a deft tug. Then, to the sound of a flatline moniter and astonished nurses running in, Yugi turned into Yami's shoulder and cried.

Ryou------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------

Sand. It was everywhere. The wind tossed it around, throwing it into his food, his mouth, his hair. When one came to the Sahara Desert, sand was inevitable. As long as the desert existed, so would the sand. As long as the Ring existed, so would he.

Ryou Bakura hated the sand with a passion. He hated inevitability. He hated things beyond his control. And ever since the Ring fell into his surprised hands from its birthday wrappings, there were many things that Ryou hated. Because Ryou hated not being in control, and everything was fast slipping away. Even control over his own life.

He snarled as he jabbed the small hand shovel into the ground, shovelling out sand only to have more fall in. If one looked at him now, he resembled his dark half more than the gentle and innocent Ryou. Eyes narrowed against the glaring sun, teeth bared in a feral expression as he tried futilely to remove sand from the hole, one would fully assume that Bakura was in control.

This was not the case.

"You're doing it wrong." The voice was dark, not the smooth velvet chocolate dark of Yami, or the deep thundering storm-cloud dark of Set, but the jagged broken obsidian dark of Bakura. His darker half.

He turned an uncharacteristic glare on the spirit. There was a time that he had hated him. "And, pray tell, how am I shovelling dirt *wrong*?" It was a challenge, something he wouldn't have dared issue to Bakura ten years ago.

Such a long time ago.

Bakura watched him, wolfish face expressionless. His voice remained the same as he spoke. "You can't shovel sand so hard. You'll just disrupt the walls of the hole and cause it to cave in. You should be more gentle."

Strange, hearing a command from Bakura saying to be gentle. But Ryou obeyed, seeing the sense in it. However, it didn't remedy the problem totally. Not all the sand fell back in, but enough did to make half his hole redundant.

"Slowly. You just have to keep at it, slowly and surely. It takes more time and effort to dig in sand than dirt." Bakura's voice remained even, unchanging. He hated it when things didn't change. Ryou flung his shovel down.

"I can't do this." He wasn't talking about the sand.

[[You just think you can't.]] The voice, once an intrusion, he now welcomed with open arms. Bakura, even if he didn't change, at least would always be there. If something wasn't going to change, it should at least always be there. Stability was nice, when it wasn't stifling.

[How am I supposed to live forever, 'Kura?] He only used the nickname in mind-to-mind speak. The spirit would beat him senseless if it ever fell from his lips. He had hated him once.

[[The same way I survived thousands of years in darkness. Just live. Don't think about the future or consequences. After all,]] A mental smirk filled the spirit's tone. [[You can pretty much do whatever you want now. Doesn't that feel nice?]]

He smiled tiredly. It did sound nice. Maybe he was in control after all. But if he were in control, then he wouldn't be facing his current, never- ending problem.

[[You may not be in control of how long you live, but you're entirely in control of everything else. You can't stop your friends from dying, but you can control how you react to it. You may not be in control of the events of your life, but at least you have been given the time to deal with them.]] The spirit was unusually calm today. He reminded Ryou of someone.

He snorted. "You sound like Gandalf." Laughter bubbled up in him, slightly giddy and relieved. Bakura would never leave.

"Gandalf? You mean that wizard prat in that English book you've been reading?" His darker half tilted his head to the side, face annoyed. "I do not sound like a dried up magical old fart."

Ryou laughed then, a real laugh. He hadn't heard himself laugh in years, it seemed. Perhaps he hadn't. "You just sounded so knowing and wise, it reminded me of him."

Bakura watched him sullenly, then turned on his heel and stalked out of the flimsy shelter of the pavilion and to the more sand-free enviroment of the closed tent. He shot words back at Ryou, however.

[[You'd best pay attention to that book, hikari. They have a whole race of immortal creatures in that book, and I don't see a single one of them moping about it, unless they lived with Men. What does that say to you?]] The white-haired former thief slid into the tent and was hidden from view.

Ryou sat staring at the small shovel at his knees, feeling the sand collecting in his hair once again. It would be tinted brown for a while.

What did that say, indeed.

Seto------------------------------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------------------------

Gold. Shimmering gold, that slid through his fingers and rested in his hands like it had been sculpted to fit there. Or perhaps his hands had been shaped to fit perfectly around it. He wasn't sure about anything anymore.

It would be so easy, to slip this golden shimmering object into his chest. To feel the sharp point slide firmly to the muscle that kept his body going. He wasn't completely immune to physical harm yet, a direct blow to the heart would certainly end his life.

::Such depressing thoughts, hikari.:: The voice was powerful and deep, beautiful, but promising lightening if one disobeyed. Seto imagined it sounded much like the god that voice claimed to serve.

:How else am I supposed to think?: Their conversations were much like this. A statement would be issued, then a question. All were one sentence long. All other words were frivolous, and not needed.

When Set had first appeared, the instant he had slid the gleaming Rod into his hands, he hadn't trusted the ancient spirit. Set had had a less than perfect record, and even if he didn't, Seto wasn't a trusting type of person. Their relationship had been very rocky at the beginning.

Golden arms slid around him. The darkest of the spirits, Set had retained his imprint of the harsh Egyptian sun. The former priest had a subtle strength to him, much like Seto. Despite a wirey and thin frame, his muscles were like iron. He wondered who would win in a physical fight, him or the spirit.

::Why would I want to fight you, hikari?:: The voice came in a seductive purr, and Seto tilted his head around to see the golden face smirk suggestively. Set's eyes, a darkened sapphire lined with the typical ingrained kohl lines of the dark spirits, glinted as they watched him intently. He found it strange that in their physical extensions, those remembered kohl marks became reality, and no matter how hard you rubbed at their eyes, no smudge appeared and the hauntingly dark lines remained. Seto wondered how it would look on him.

They had the most physical relationship of all the Item holders with spirits. Yami and Yugi were too "fluffy" as Set put it, to really go at it, and Bakura and Ryou had a quietness around them that hinted that physical doings were not a part of the relationship. With Bakura's track record, Seto was not surprised. But Set and Seto were notorious in the fact that they could barely keep their hands off each other. Perhaps it was the "newness" - Seto had been in the possession of the Rod for only so long, compared to the others, and it had taken even longer to accept the spirit, much less take a roll in the sack with him. Perhaps it was the lack of mental contact - both being private persons, mental contact was anathema to them, and they did it as rarely as possible, and conpensating by excess physical contact. Perhaps they were just both sex addicts. As he said, he didn't know anything anymore.

"Mokuba will die one day, and I will be there to watch it." He stated it, surprised by his lack of emotion. Even Seto Kaiba, Ice King, had feelings for his little brother. The fact that he could talk about Mokuba's death so calmly was slightly disturbing.

"That he will." Set followed his light's example and spoke out loud. He remained as distant and cold as the strange sapphire that colored their irises. Strange, in that in both of their cultures such color was rarely found.

Seto stared quietly at his dark half. Black-lined eyes stared impassively back. In an unspoken agreement both mouths met, and Seto proceeded to drown out his fears of death and Mokuba and watching his little brother being lowered into the ground.

He drowned them in ebony-caged cerulean and dusky tanned skin and gold, endless gold...

Everything should be like the gold.

Yugi (For those wondering, they're supposed to be fifty-three now. ^^;)----- --------------------------------

He had moved, finally.

It couldn't be helped. Ten years and he still looked the exact same. People were suspicious and confused. He didn't exactly blend in, with his hair and eyes, and Yami's commanding presence drew even more attention.

So, he moved. Nothing but bad dreams remained in the old game shop, deserted when its owner died ten years ago.

Seto came with him, and he was unsurprised. Mokuba had taken over the company, now thirty-five, with his wife and three kids. He was the very picture of the happy CEO with the loving family. It was a slap to Seto's face. His brother was happy, and his happiness didn't include him. So, he moved with Yugi, both them and their ever-present spirits dissappearing into the namelessness of Tokyo.

They had a fairly fancy apartment, courtesy of Seto's never-ending amount of money. It was the one contact he kept with Mokuba, and Mokuba was more than happy to provide the means to make his brother happy.

Yugi had ordered Seto to buy one with three bedrooms, and the former CEO complied, unsurprised. Neither were they surprised when Ryou showed up on their doorstep a month later, shadowed with Bakura in tow.

It has been another ten years.

So, they lived now, in relative harmony. They didn't make contacts with neighbors, no more than a pleasant greeting. In Tokyo, no one would recognize their faces, and they could stay that way for a long time.

A very long time.

"I'm home!" Ryou's melodic voice called from the front of the apartment. In an attempt to feel helpful, they had all gotten jobs, save Bakura and Set, the former who was deemed too violent to deal with society. Even now, the spirit's outbursts brought haunted shadows to Ryou's face and caused their neighbors to look at them worriedly. Set was still too new to the modern world, the threat of a fatal slip would be very real.

Ryou changed jobs sporadically as a minor store clerk. He had an amazing success rate of being hired, his large eyes and angelic face gaining trust with employers, and his calm, composed demeanor was well-liked. His current job was as a department store clerk.

Seto had gotten himself hired as a computer programmer. They had argued over this, for there was a good chance that someone would recognize the former CEO and computer genious. But he was insistent, and had chosen a company with no previous Kaiba Corp. involvement. No one had recognized him so far, for which everyone felt they were lucky.

Yugi and Yami also worked as store clerks, but with a more solid job than Ryou. They studiously avoided game shops in fear that the "King of Games" might be recognized by a rabid Duel Monsters fan who once researched the person claimed to be the best player of all time. Instead, they held down rather firm jobs, Yugi as a music store clerk, and Yami as another department store clerk. Yami was a surprisingly good salesman - his powerful personality and charisma easily winning the hearts and money of the people. Bakura muttered about the pharaoh's ability to steal better than he ever could.

Over the course of the years they had been here, they had changed jobs to stem suspicion, of course, but still garnered the same type of job.

"Today was hell." The pale man was in the habit of cheerfully informing his housemates about his doings of the day, no matter how bad. It made him feel normal.

"This woman would not leave me alone, kept chattering and asking where I got "this lovely hair job" done, and she couldn't accept the fact that it was natural." Ryou reached into the fridge and pulled out a can of chocolate coffee, an addiction all of them had picked up.

Yugi chuckled. "I wonder what she'd say to me. No one ever believes the fact that this is natural." He ran a hand through the crimson-tipped spikes, dragging his golden bangs up through his hair, causing him to look like Yami for a brief moment. Then the bangs fell back down and he was Yugi again.

Only Yugi and Ryou were home from their jobs at this moment. Yami would be home in an hour, and Seto a few more after that. The ever-present dwellers of the household emerged from the bedrooms, Bakura yawning and Set as composed as ever. Bakura slept all day, and no one knew what Set did aside from Seto. And they didn't feel the need to know.

"That's true." Set's voice ran smooth in his chuckle. "When I first met the Pharaoh, it took the longest time to convince myself he was human, and not some fantastical Shadow Monster. And then I wondered what sorcery he used to get his hair like that. It does make quite an impression." He also aimed for the fridge, but instead of canned coffee, he withdrew an apple. The spirit had a strange love for fruit of all kinds.

"Hey, no eating before dinner." The nagging look Ryou gave Set gained giggles from the other residents.

The former priest drew a pained look, signalling a start of one of his "Drama Queen Possessions",Yugi had termed them. Set would have strange flashes of melodramatic moods, where he would make long artsy speeches. They supposed he did this to be funny, but no one bothered to ask.

"And starve? Why, you don't start dinner until at least three hours from now! My body craves nourishment! I will not starve like a common child waiting for my light to come home. Besides, I hardly think this little morsel," he indicated the apple. "Is going to fill me up so much that I will not enjoy your marvellous cooking."

Ryou had a pained expression of his own. Set could be downright unbearable in such a mood. "Fine, fine, eat your apple. See if you get dessert." Jokes and taunts. It has been ten years since they last saw the people they once considered friends.

In a lull in the bantar, Yugi murmured his sentiments out loud.

"It's been ten years...I wonder what's happened to them." No one needed to ask who "them" was.

Everyone remained silent. The threat of years pressing in on them, years spent like this, isolated with only themselves. No friendly passing faces, no normal humans to at least lighten their lives once in a while. And no way out.

All of a sudden, Yugi felt completely alone. He reached out frantically towards the one thing that never left, never made him feel alone when they're there like now when he's surrounded by people and totally alone...


//Yes, aibou?// A questioning tone in the mental voice. Yugi rarely contacted Yami at work, he didn't want either of them to space out to the real world as they communicated with each other. But right now, Yugi needed Yami by his side, if not physically, then mentally.

/I'm lonely./ His simple statement was sent with a bubble of everything he felt at the moment. He waited as Yami digested the emotions and thoughts in the bubble. Then, a warm tendril of caring and love, tinged with sadness.

//I know, aibou. I know.//

Yugi clung to the one thing that stayed, then reluctantly returned to the normal world, sending a parting bubble of love towards his darker half. He was always there.

Everyone had remained in the same positions as before, but the sudden refocusing of their eyes indicated that they had all reached out for the one thing that always stayed. But even that comforting presence couldn't erase the absence of smiling faces of normal, honest friends. It couldn't erase the memory of golden hair with a golden personality, of a confident girl with a little girl's dream, of a steady brunet whose background presence was always appreciated.

"The Elves were wrong." Ryou murmured to Bakura, remembering a conversation in the heated sands of a place important to all of them.

Set remembered a night of heated kisses and passion, or gold, so much gold, everywhere, gold.

And Yugi looked at his palm and remembered the black wire that slashed so darkly against his pale palm, remembered the flat glaring sound of death, and watched the tears fall into his hands.



AN: I honestly down know where the hell this came from, or even what itis. Call it a long exploration into the consequences of magic and immortality, I dunno. Mebbe it'll have a sequel, or I'll expand on it, or I'll sit on it and rotate. I'm tired, sleep now.