Title:Puzzles and Dreams, Chapter Two
Yami glanced up as a stuffed turnip bounced by him. He looked over at Yugi -- still pawing through a toy box -- and went back to searching beneath the bed. A moment later, he heard a grunt.
Yami stopped searching. Yugi was trying to push the box onto it's side, surrounded by a massive pile of toys. "What are you doing?"
Yugi dumped the toys and righted the box, peering inside. "I was right!" he said, hopping to his feet. "It keeps refilling itself!"
Yami looked at the massive heap of toys and the comparatively tiny box. "It took you that long to figure it out?"
"There's no way these are all my toys!" Yugi said with an elated laugh. "Grandpa's wrong, I'm not spoiled!"
Yami gave into temptation and wound up a small car near his left foot. It zoomed away and crashed into a wall as he smirked. Even slightly dented, it trumped by far anything he had as a child.
"Whatever you say," he said to Yugi, and went back to the bed.
Yugi laughed again, pushing his hair out of his face. "Have you found anything at all?"
Yami frowned as he remembered what they were looking for. He pushed a book about three pigs out of his way and said, "No."
"I don't get it. The passage led us here."
Yami pushed a white box out of his way without really looking at it. "It's probably just a coincidence, Yugi."
"I don't think so. If it always leads you here, then there must be something here. We just have to find out where it's hidden."
Yami looked around himself briefly. He was in a room full of toys and child's paintings, simple and carefree. It was hard to think of his dark past secreted away beneath the bed -- it was hard to think of anything secreted away here.
Yugi left the toy box, apparently realizing that a bottomless container of toys would take a long time to search. "Maybe there's something written on the walls," he murmured. "Beneath the paint . . ."
The idea was far fetched, but Yami often found things written on the walls of his own mind. He turned, intending to ask Yugi how he would look beneath the paint when something caught his eye; a box, the white box he'd pushed away earlier.
It was about one foot wide, three inches deep, and completely white -- except for a child's drawing on the lid. Yellow scribbles decorated the bottom; a giant sun, a sky, and one fluffy white cloud filled the top. A brown triangle drew his attention to the scrawled horizon.
A surprisingly three-dimensional brown triangle. With a messily-drawn eye . . .
Yami traced the child's version of the Millennium Puzzle with a shaky hand. So here it was. Hidden in someone else's soul, buried beneath their mind-bed, but here it was.
He lifted the lid as Yugi searched for hidden doors and messages. The box was full of tiny pieces of cardboard -- Yami held one up and recognized the shape. A puzzle piece.
"Did you like puzzles when you were young, Yugi?" Yami asked.
Yugi turned from the wall he was inspecting. "Yeah, I loved them," he said. "Puzzles and Duel Monsters. It's weird, though, that there aren't any cards in here, or puzzles."
Yami let the piece fall back into the box. "I found a puzzle."
Yugi heard the strange note in his voice and crawled onto the bed, peering over the edge to see what Yami was looking at. "Yep. Looks like a hard one, too, see how small the pieces are?" He lifted one. "I wonder what it's a picture of. It looks like a photograph of some sort . . ." He trailed off.
Yami lifted his head. Yugi sounded alarmed. "Yugi?"
Yugi dropped the puzzle piece. "A moving photograph," he exclaimed. "What's on the cover, Yami?"
Reluctantly, Yami showed him.
"Of course! You found it!" Yugi flashed him an excited grin. "Perfect, Yami! If we just assemble this puzzle, I bet we can figure out your past!"
Yami frowned at the puzzle, but said nothing.
"Here, let's do it up here," Yugi said, lifting the box into his lap. "There's more room. Come on, Yami, d'you want to help?"
Yami stood and perched on the edge of the bed, as if worried that his slight weight might tip it. Yugi poured the pieces onto the blankets and rifled through them. "This is going to be hard. It doesn't look like there are any edge pieces . . ."
"Pieces that make up the border," Yugi explained. He set the box aside. "They have straight edges, so they stand out, and they're easier to assemble. I always start with the edges."
Despite his words, Yugi immediately fitted two pieces together, and another two, and then three. Yami watched, very still, hands in his lap, as Yugi assembled the puzzle with truly awe-inspiring speed. He wasn't even watching as he put the pieces together, simply reaching out blindly and finding exactly the right ones.
When he had assembled a piece about the size of his hand, he set it carefully on the bed. "Look, Yami!"
Yami was. "It looks like Tèa."
"That's just what I was thinking." Yugi frowned. "What does Tèa have to do with your past?"
Yugi went back to work.
Yami watched him silently, took in his quick hands and lively expression. He glanced away and caught sight of the puzzle box. He scowled ferociously.
"And look, that looks like Joey!" Yugi ran his hands through his hair, leaving it even wilder than usual. "Maybe this shows the future instead of the past. I'm running out of pieces, though . . ." He trailed off as Yami reached past him and lifted the puzzle box, dumping a fresh batch onto the bed.
"I guess it's another one of those refilling boxes, huh?" Yugi said.
"It seems that way," Yami said. He dropped the box. This time, they watched as pieces materialized until the box was full.
"Why does everything in my mind constantly refill itself?" Yugi asked, looking unhappy. He continued to assemble the puzzle, however. "It makes things complicated."
Yami said nothing, turning his eyes to the door. He thought about the light that constantly flowed from it, Yugi's continual good cheer, how he never seemed to run out of smiles or laughter.
"Maybe this isn't the way to figure out your past," Yugi said, drawing back Yami's attention. He was putting the puzzle together almost absently. "Maybe this is . . . I don't know, showing us your future?"
It was the second time Yugi had mentioned prophecy. Yami wondered what was bothering him.
"I don't know." Suddenly irritated with the bottomless box, he clapped the lid over it and flipped it over. At least he didn't have to keep looking at the Millennium Puzzle. "This isn't a good idea, Yugi."
Yugi laid off the puzzle, lying down a piece that showed a picture of himself -- or of Yami, it was hard to tell. "Why not?" He sounded disappointed. "Maybe we can find out something to help you."
In your mind?Yami wondered. Why would the secrets to his future be hidden in Yugi's mind? Were they that connected?
He looked into the innocent violet eyes of the boy in front of him.
"I don't think we'll find anything," Yami lied. "I think this puzzle is . . . dangerous."
"How is that possible?" Yugi crawled off the bed as Yami stood and headed for the door. "We found it in my mind. I don't see how it could hurt you, because I would never -- I mean, I wouldn't hurt either of us."
Yami didn't look back. "We can work on it later," he said. "You should get some real sleep, or you'll be tired tomorrow."
Yugi was standing in the middle of the room when Yami paused in the doorway.
"I just want to help," Yugi said apologetically.
"I know," Yami said. "Get some sleep."
Yugi looked uncertain.
"Just go to sleep in here," Yami explained, gesturing to show that he meant the room. "Even if your body is resting right now, your mind isn't. When you wake up you'll be back inside of your body."
"That's what I thought," Yugi said quietly. "I'm sorry, pharaoh."
Yami didn't like hearing his title on Yugi's lips. "Good night," he said, and made to close the door.
"No, leave it open," Yugi said. He was moving the puzzle pieces he had assembled to the floor with the utmost care, his face unusually thoughtful. When he looked up and found Yami watching him, he added, "It just feels right open."
Yami was relieved. Even with the door to his own mind shut, the light from Yugi's soul room was the brightest illumination he could find, far brighter than anything he could produce himself.
Yugi smiled at him. "Goodnight, Yami."
The next night, he woke with someone gripping his shoulders tightly. He cried out, sat up, fighting desperately and blindly. Hands caught his and held onto him gently.
Gasping, he managed to get his eyes open, managed to look at the person in front of him. He recognized them by the shape of their hair, traced by moonlight. His hands stilled. "Yami?"
Yami let him go. "Are you all right?"
Still panting, Yugi drew the blankets up closer. He was freezing. And if he closed his eyes, glimpses of his nightmare played against his eyes.
Yami sat silently at his side. When he spoke again, Yugi was much calmer. "What were you dreaming about?"
"Nothing important," Yugi lied quietly. He wrapped the blanket around his shoulders, pulling his legs up to his chest. "Just a nightmare. Did I, um, wake you up somehow?"
Yami sounded a bit amused. "No," he said. "I was awake." He sighed. Yugi had to watch his face closely to tell where it was looking -- he was surprised to find that Yami was staring at him. But Yugi had his back to the window. Yami couldn't see his expression, could he? It was as if Yami could see right through him.
Uncomfortably, Yugi asked, "Can I ask you something, Yami?"
"Um." Yugi took a deep breath. "If . . . if you thought you had to. I mean, if it was important, would you -- take over?" Nothing. "You know, my body?"
A long pause.
"Like Yami Bakura?" Yami asked.
"Uh." Yugi looked down, unable to escape the feeling that Yami could see his face. He was looking right at him! "Kind of. But -- Not evil. Just. Would you?"
Silence. Yugi could hear the faucet dripping in the bathroom.
"No," Yami finally said, voice tight. "Of course not."
Yugi wasn't reassured, but he forced himself to nod. "Thank you."
"For what?" Yami asked bluntly. "For not being evil?"
He sounded bitter. "Of course not," Yugi said. "For telling me the truth." Even though I'm lying to you. "For not getting mad at me for asking."
Yami sighed. His expression was faintly guilty.
"I understand," he said.
Yugi wasn't sure as to what he understood, but he knew that he shouldn't have to ask. So he adjusted his grip on the blanket and tried not to shiver.
"Are you cold?" Yami asked eventually.
"Yes," Yugi said. "It's not -- normal cold."
"No," Yami agreed. "I was always cold . . . after I had a prophetic dream."
Yugi said nothing.
Yami stood. "I'm leaving," he announced. "Good night, Yugi."
"Good night, Yami."
He vanished. Yugi stared at the spot where his ghostly silhouette used to be and felt the chill in his bones.
Rather than sleep, Yugi fell into the trace he'd used the night before. And rather than dwell on his nightmare, he thought of his soul room, something he was now quite familiar with.
When he opened his eyes, he was staring into Yami's unusually dark soul room. Was there any light in there at all? Should he search for Yami. make sure that he was all right? Worried, he turned and looked through the open door of his room.
Yami was there.
He sat in the center of Yugi's bed, his elbows on his knees, his head buried in his arms. It was a crying pose, but Yami certainly wasn't crying. He just looked tired.
Yugi entered the room. When he reached Yami's side he felt something small under his foot -- he looked down at them to see what it was. His eyes widened.
The puzzle pieces. All that he had managed to assemble . . . they had been broken, thrown to the ground and scattered.
Disappointed, he knelt to look at them more closely. There were more than he remembered . . . .
"Yes." Yugi's head flew up. Yami was watching him with tired eyes. "I worked on it."
Yugi straightened. "What did you see?" he asked eagerly. "Did you learn anything?"
"What did you see?" he pressed. He realized that something was wrong. Concerned, Yugi sat at Yami's side, resisting the urge to put an arm around him like he would for Joey or Tèa. "Is everything all right, Yami?"
"Yes, of course." Yami's legs straightened, his feet landed on the ground. He stood. "I shouldn't have come in here without your permission. I'm sorry."
Yugi waved his hand dismissively, more concerned with the dark expression on Yami's face. "It's fine, you can come in here whenever you want."
He was pleased. "Thank you, Yugi."
"But tell me what's wrong. Something's bothering you."
Yami shook his head. "It's nothing, Yugi."
"It's something. Yami, when I'm upset, you make me tell you what's wrong." Yugi stood, minimizing some of the difference in height. "You do everything you can to help me. Let me do the same. Please?"
Yami sighed. "There's nothing you can do, Yugi," he said. "Please don't ask me anymore."
Yugi caught his breath. Well, that was rather final. And, he couldn't help but think, a bit harsh.
"All -- all right. If you're sure . . . ."
Yami nodded and turned to go. Yugi waited until he stood in the door way to call him back. "Yami?"
Yami looked around at him.
"Is it something I did?"
Yami inspected his face very closely. Yugi felt himself flush.
"You didn' have a choice, Yug."
"I did," Yugi said softly. He reached over and tugged the blankets up around Bakura's chin. He looked smaller, incredibly fragile, lying in the hospital bed. "There's always a choice."
"Well, there were no good choices, then." Joey stuck his chin out stubbornly when Yugi glanced at him. "And that -- that Spirit thing knew it, too. He was usin' you. That was a rock and hard place, Yug."
Yugi looked at the serenely sleeping boy in front of him.
"Ask anyone," Joey continued. "Ask Yami. He'll tell you. And he won' lie to you, Yug. I don' think he'll lie to anyone."
"No." Yugi voice was unusually quiet, even to himself. "Maybe not." But he didn't really believe it.
"Aren't you supposed to be eating breakfast?"
Yugi turned and nearly fell off the staircase. "Yami! I was looking for you."
Yami tilted his head inquisitively, standing on the floor just in front of Yugi's staircase. "Is something wrong?"
"Yes," Yugi said firmly. "You know, Joey doesn't think you lie to anyone. Ever at all."
Yami blinked. "I try not to," he said cautiously. "Do you think I do?"
"I think you're lying to me. I think --" Yugi sat on the step he'd nearly fallen off of. He was just level with Yami's eyes when he sat here. "I think you're not telling me the truth about what's bothering you. And I really want you to. I can't make you, but you said we're partners."
"You said we're friends. And partners and friends help each other." Yugi took a deep breath and looked down at his knees, at his twisting hands. This was going to be hard. "And I have something I have to tell you first."
Yami looked as if the turns were coming too hard and fast for him to keep up with. He hooked his fingers in his pockets and nodded once, looking at Yugi's face intently.
"I, um." Yugi forced himself to look up. "I lied to you," he said miserably.
Yami's eyes widened. He looked as if a lie from Yugi was the last thing he had ever expected, as if he hadn't even thought it possible.
Yugi's insides twisted with guilt. "I'm sorry," he said quickly, looking down again. "But --" He lifted one hand to rub at his eye. "I didn't want to worry you. I didn't want you to think -- that I don't trust you."
"But you don't, do you?"
Yugi's head flew up. "I do trust you!" he said hotly. "More than anyone, even Joey!"
Yami's lips parted, quietly stunned at this vow. They looked at each other in silence -- and then Yami shook himself.
"It's all right," he said. "You shouldn't trust me." He joined Yugi on the stairway, sitting just two steps down. "Tell me what you need to tell me, Yugi. I'll listen, I promise."
Yugi slumped again, unenthusiastic. "I have these dreams. Nightmares. They've been happening for a long time now." He took a deep breath. "It's the same every time. I'm on a dueling platform. Mokuba is right across from me, and Kaiba is beside him." He looked at Yami -- all he could see of his face was his profile. He wasn't even looking at Yugi; rather, he seemed to be staring over his knees. It made things easier.
"And I look over to my right, and you're there." Yugi swallowed when he saw Yami swallow. "I'm outside of my body, watching you duel. And I can't shake the feeling that something terrible is about to happen -- whether you win or lose, something terrible."
Yami turned around finally. Their eyes met. Yugi was stunned with the knowing he found there.
"Mokuba shouts for Kaiba to stop," Yami said quietly. "He says that he doesn't want this to happen, that he should forfeit, just please . . ." He looked away. His voice was flat. "Just please stop dueling."
"Yes," Yugi said, entranced. "Did you have the dream too?"
"Then -- you know that I ask you to do the same thing." Yami's eyes fluttered. "That I'm begging you to stop. And you -- you don't. And that's what frightened me." Yugi scooted forward, plopping himself down on Yami's step. He gave into his urge to grab Yami's hands and wrapped them tight in his own.
"That's why I didn't tell you. I was afraid that I would make things wrong by telling you. And I was afraid that if you found out about your past -- that you'd become evil, like Yami Bakura. And I didn't want you to become evil and I didn't want to mess things up I just wanted you to let me help you. I'm sorry."
Yami looked at him.
"I'm really sorry," Yugi said. He lowered his eyes. "Pharaoh, really and truly. I'm sorry."
"Don't call me that," Yami said softly. And when Yugi worked up the courage to meet his gaze, he added, "I'm sorry, too."
Yami smiled faintly, bitterly. "You'll see."
Yami kissed him.
Yugi didn't even think to gasp -- he didn't think anything, really, which was unusual. He barely had time to take it all in; the warmth, the wetness, Yami's hand on his shoulder, the soft brush of his breath. There was no time to do anything but sit, eyes opened wide, and be kissed.
Yami drew away and didn't look at him. "Leave, now."
Yugi stared at him helplessly. "I --"
Yami got to his feet and started up the stairs. Unbreachable distance filled the air between them -- Yugi thought to reach out but his arms were glued to his sides.
Yami's voice was gentle. "Now, Yugi."
Yugi finally found his wits, his breath. He fled.
Panders was not as comforting as Yugi remembered.
He sat on his bed, surrounded by puzzle pieces and toys, and Panders rested in his lap. Yugi tried hugging him, talking to him, all the things he used to do as a child. But try as he might, Panders was just a bundle of furry cloth and buttons. And plastic bamboo.
This was a real problem. An adult problem. Panders couldn't help with this. It was the sort of thing he might have talked to Joey about, or Tèa, but he couldn't think of a way to broach the subject. Well, I was having this conversation with Yami, see, and he . . .
No, he couldn't tell them.
He wondered, idly, if he could maybe tell Bakura. But -- Bakura was unconscious. And what if Bakura had an answer? What if Bakura thought . . . well, he couldn't picture Bakura saying that something was sick or wrong, but what if Bakura told him he should put a stop to it?
It was what Yami was afraid of, he thought. That Yugi would tell him to stop, that he might refuse to help him in his quest.
But of course, he couldn't do that.
He refused to hurt Yami. The feeling bubbled up inside of him with such intensity that it took his breath; he would not hurt Yami, he would not let Yami be hurt. It was a feeling stronger than anything he'd ever felt, even the fear when Grandpa's soul was stolen. A feeling stronger than his affection for Joey or Tèa or Tristan or any of his friends . . . .
Yugi laid back in his bed and managed to go to sleep.
Yami is standing in a stone room, surrounded by cloaked and hooded men. There are three narrow windows, near the ceiling, revealing a glimpse of the sky at sunrise. The men are chanting, harsh Egyptian words that Yugi doesn't recognize, can't understand. He avoids entering the circle that the men form and peers between them at the face of his friend.
The chanting continues. One man steps forward, a serrated blade held in his hand. Yami is staring past him, out the windows, at the sky -- he holds his arms out for the man without looking away. His lips move, following the chant, without looking away. He lets the blade part his skin, lets patterns be traced in his blood, without looking away.
He is still looking out the windows when the men file out silently. He is still looking out the windows when Yugi approaches him at last, nervous, and stands at his side. He is still looking out the windows when Yugi glances at them in an attempt to see what he is seeing, when Yugi identifies that delicate shade of purple; the color he sees in the mirror, the color of his own eyes.
But when Yugi glances over, he finds Yami watching him.
He found Yami in a dark passage within the pharaoh's own soul room, head tilted backwards, hands in his pockets. Yugi watched him silently, observing the sharpness of his chin, the lines of his throat. His hands.
"Are you all right, Yami?"
Yami jumped, looked at him. "Yugi?"
"It's me." Yugi smiled. "Are you all right?"
Yami looked at him intently. He straightened suddenly, his hands falling to his side. "Yes."
Yugi looked around curiously. "Where are we?" he asked. He put out his hand and touched the wall -- it felt warm and dry, real. He looked at Yami with his head tilted. "What's this passage?"
Yami looked away, staring down the dark corridor. "I'm not sure," he said. "I've never been down here before."
"Then let's explore!" When Yami looked at him, clearly startled, Yugi beamed. "Come on!"
Yami followed him. When Yugi began chattering, talking about Joey's latest strategy, Bakura's recovery, the threat of Marik, he seemed surprised, nonplussed. It was like he didn't know what to do. Thankfully, however, he didn't order Yugi to leave.
The lengthy tunnel wound up leading them right back to where they'd started. Yugi spent a moment tracing their path in his mind; there was no way that they'd walked in a circle. If anything, he figured, they'd been walking more or less diagonally. How, then, did they end up here . . .
"It's not real," Yami said, sensing what bothered him. "Just a mental representation of thought. It doesn't always . . . work the right way."
His legs aching with tiredness, Yugi plopped onto a stair, glancing up at Yami. "Sit here with me?" he asked. Yami sat.
Yugi began chattering again. Yami watched him attentively, commenting only when Yugi demanded a reply. Finally, Yugi paused for a breath -- and Yami leapt in. "Yugi?"
Yugi turned so that he was facing him. "Yes?"
"What are you . . ." The pharaoh stared at him for a moment, and shook his head. "What are you doing?"
"Talking to you," Yugi said. "I've always liked talking to you."
Yami blinked a few times. "Oh."
"D'you want me to stop?" Yugi asked. Inside his sleeve, he crossed his fingers.
Yami blinked a few more times. "No," he said at last.
Yugi grinned, relieved, and scooted closer as unobtrusively as possible.
"Bakura will be all right," Yami said, with his continual air of reassurance. "You've done everything you can."
"I know," Yugi said with a sigh. "But I still feel guilty."
The two of them were standing in the doorway to Yugi's soul room. Yami insisted that Yugi get some sleep, lest he fall asleep tomorrow during a duel.
"You have nothing to feel guilty for," Yami said, He gestured for Yugi to enter his soul room. Amused, Yugi did. Yami could be as bossy as Grandpa sometimes.
A bit unsure of himself, Yugi sat on his bed, still messy from the last time he slept there. He looked around critically. "I really need to clean in here," he said, changing the subject. "There are toys everywhere."
Yami looked around as well. "It not easy to clean a soul room," he said thoughtfully. "It's more complicated than simple cleaning."
"Oh," Yugi said.
"Besides, when everything's messy, it's easier to find things."
Yugi laughed. "You sound like Joey!"
Yami looked highly amused by this. He pointed to the bed. "Get in there," he ordered. A little bashful, Yugi did, lying back too quickly and almost bumping his head. Blushing, he rearranged himself and lied down properly.
Yami reached out and pulled the covers up to his chest. "Now go to sleep."
"It's not that easy," Yugi protested, even as his eyelids drooped. "I'm not tired."
Smirking, Yami sat on the edge of his bed. "I'll make sure you go to sleep," he said. "Just close your eyes and breathe deeply."
Yugi tried that and felt lightheaded. When he peeked to see if Yami was really watching him, he received a stern glare. Finally, tired of trying to sleep on his back (a very uncomfortable position) he rolled onto his side, facing Yami, and felt his body begin to relax.
A warm hand placed itself on his shoulder, pushing his hair out of his face. "If you start to dream," Yami promised, "I'll wake you."
Yugi thought of his most recent dream. "It's all right," he said slowly. "Let me sleep."
The hand stroked his cheek, his forehead. Yugi opened his eyes just as Yami kissed his temple, his nose, his lips.
Stunned, Yugi strained to face him -- he reached up and grabbed the back of his neck, his fingers tightening in the cloth of his shirt. He hadn't known that someone could make you feel so much just by kissing you. When Yami's tongue tasted his bottom lip, he shivered.
Yami pulled away, looking at the flushed, open-mouthed boy before him.
"Now I'm not tired at all," Yugi said.
Yami put his hand on Yugi's forehead, drawing his thumb over his his left eyelid and his pinky over his right. Drowsiness hit Yugi like a wave.
"Cheater," he mumbled.
The last thing he felt was Yami settling beside him, the last thing he remembered doing was pulling him closer, until Yami could place a soft kiss on his mouth again.
(A/N: The end! Well, for now. I'd like to write more, and if I manage to catch all of the Battle City reruns, I definitely will.
Hugs to Midnight_Phoenix, YamiSilver, Riaku, Nenya85, Yugi-obsessed, YugiYami Lover, bluepapercrane, Cyberkat, my lovely Space Case, Erikahavikel, Misty, and Meemo for their kind reviews. *snuggles*)