Hm. I guess this is a farewell fic? For my lovely Zoo-doll. Though maybe instead of quitting, you should just tell people that you're taking a "potentially permanent hiatus" from YGO fanfictioning. ^_~ Quitting is just so… final.

"Once-pharaoh" is a term that I first read in one of Zoo's fics. Seems fitting to use it here.

Here. Have some fluff. Don't forget that sugar is bad for your teeth and that you should brush those pearly whites twice a day.

Soundtrack: "Hikari" by Utada Hikaru

Enter a noisy street, and put on the mask of destiny.

The sidewalk reflected the bright sun, the cars shined even worse, and there was little Yuugi without a pair of sunglasses, having to squint his eyes against the glare. The normally tourist-packed street was now only comfortably crowded with people, many of them having been scared off by the bright sun. Or so the sun liked to tell itself, but the reality of the situation was that it was a Monday, and a lot of people actually had jobs or school. Still, the sun was lighting the picturesque street with its novelty shops and restaurants, and all in all the day looked, well, bright.

Yuugi's taller companion followed him, weaving through the shoppers, sometimes losing sight of his short leader and other times forgetting to walk when something new caught his eye. Yuugi was patient, though, and whenever he noticed that the accompanying person wasn't behind him, stopped to wait. Despite his height (or lack of), it wasn't really difficult at all to find Yuugi in the throngs of people. The two progressed thus, in short spurts up the street and seemingly moving against all traffic.

"Here we go," Yuugi declared, and made a sharp right into a building. The taller boy bumped into a woman on his way in, gave an apology that was ignored, and hurried after Yuugi. The restaurant was small, with a large window serving as most of the front wall, and so the sun happily lit the entire place, with the exception of a single table in the back. Yuugi and his companion sat at one of the two-person tables next to the glass wall, basking in the natural light.

Yami Yuugi, for that was Yuugi's companion – not Jounouchi or Honda or even Bakura – stared out the large window at the people walking by. He'd seen people in this modern world before, yes, but never been able to make them the chief object of his observation. Always before, his mind had been occupied with other things (usually life or death things, or at least something rather demanding of his attention), and any people around were either potential threats or potential casualties. So he took his time now to watch them walk on by.

His skin, tanner than his modern counterpart's, was highlighted almost gold in the sunlight. It was a good colour for him. Why he was tan and Yuugi wasn't, neither of them was sure, but that wasn't their main concern and probably wouldn't ever be. It just was one of the random details, like why Yami Yuugi had appeared wearing what he'd been, (not in Yuugi's clothes but not naked either, clad in plain white cotton boxers and nothing else [and it had been impossible to find a pair of pants that would fit him right because he was too big for Yuugi's]) that wasn't going to be questioned much. The big questions revolved around other issues, such as the fact that Yuugi's dark half was leafing through the sushi menu and casting his own shadow.

But all that could wait until the food arrived.

The waiter, with an obnoxiously charming attitude that was strikingly similar to Jounouchi's, took their orders. Yuugi ordered for the both of them, assuring the Puzzle Spirit – but was that still an accurate name for him? – that he'd enjoy the meal. Though, when Yami Yuugi picked up his chopsticks a moment later, one in each hand, it was apparent that a couple lessons on etiquette were in order. The back of Yuugi's mind told him that they probably looked like idiot foreigners, but that was alright because the neighborhood got stupid tourists all the time. Besides, Yuugi didn't have an icky American accent, and that was always good if you wanted to get decent food.

By the time the food did arrive, sushi rolls and rice balls, the older one was at least holding the chopsticks correctly.

"No, no," Yuugi stopped him, "you pick up the rice balls with your hands."

Yami Yuugi frowned, his lighter half laughed softly, and he put the chopsticks down. He was grateful, though, since he doubted he'd have been able to hold something as large as the rice ball with the little sticks. He grabbed one of the triangular … things, wrapped in, what was it, seaweed? A few grains of rice stuck out of the corners. If the thing was filled entirely with rice, it looked rather boring… still, Yuugi had told him it would be good. He took a large bite.

This time, Yuugi gave a full laugh at the taller boy, watching little bits of rice that had been sticking to his mouth fall as he tried to chew. Yami Yuugi glared but, thankfully, kept his mouth closed. The salmon filling had taken him by surprise.

"So…" Yuugi started, looking at his sushi. "What do…" he stopped, selected a piece of the yellow tail roll, and decided that important matters could wait. The worries still lurked in the back of his mind, but for the moment they were content to merely lurk. "Is it good?" He ate the sushi in one bite, waiting for his dark side to finish chewing.

It took nearly a minute before Yami Yuugi was able to swallow and nod. "Delicious," he declared. "Rather simple, but an amazing taste."

Yuugi smiled and picked up another piece of sushi. Before the darker boy could take a second bite of his rice ball, there was a roll of rice and raw fish being held beneath his nose. He stared at it, then at the boy holding it, then back at the sushi.

"Try it," Yuugi encouraged. There was another moment of staring, as though Yami Yuugi expected the thing to pop out a pair of fins and start flapping about, before he tried to take the sushi with his teeth.

The sushi made a run for it. Or, in laymen's terms, Yami Yuugi was too clumsy and the sushi fell. He grabbed at it, fumbling with the little seaweed-wrapped roll, and it was only by that dumb luck that followed him wherever he went (much like a crazed stalker) that he was able to bounce the morsel onto the table. The spiteful little sushi tumbled over itself once, before landing upright on Yami Yuugi's plate.

Yuugi smiled. Yami Yuugi frowned.

Both boys started laughing.

Today I'll eat delicious things.

It didn't take long for Yami Yuugi to clear his plate, and then help Yuugi finish his meal. Taste had been forgotten along with everything else; relearning it was amazing. The flavours were marvelous – it wasn't an elaborate meal, nor the best restaurant in town, but the new sensation was absolutely wonderful.

The opportunity to just relax with his partner, to laugh at himself instead of at his opponent's folly, to suddenly start choking on his rice when Yuugi said something funny while he was in the middle of chewing, to just ignore responsibilities like Yuugi's school and the questions that they were going to have to face – it was pure bliss. Even after the food was gone, the two sat at the table, talking and watching people walk by. Just watching normal people with their normal problems, while they chatted with friends or on cell phones, cut class like Yuugi was at the moment, or held the hand of their beloved. Pointing out that girl's shoes, with the platforms higher than Anzu's, or that boy's nose piercing, or that one's mohawk with the foot-long spikes.

Yuugi turned away from the window then, fiddling with the snaps on one of his studded bracelets, and looked at his other half. Their conversation had dwindled, and he had procrastinated for a long while.

"What'll we tell grandpa?"

Yami Yuugi also shifted to face his partner, his grin fading. At that Yuugi wanted to take back his question; the once-pharaoh had a gorgeous smile. It was some compensation, at least, that the loss wouldn't be permanent… Yuugi hoped.

The darker one gave a shrug. "We tell him what he needs to hear. I think he may have known even before you."

The smooth voice was calm and utterly nonchalant. Yuugi relaxed slightly at hearing it. He was not, however, completely mollified; asking about his grandfather had caused every other question that had been calmly floating in the back of his mind to rush in a crash to the front of his thoughts. "What about… what will you do?" The words were coming quicker in an agitation rarely seen from the small teen. "Will you work, will you go to school—"  Yami Yuugi's dark eyes met the lighter boy's, and he moved a hand to hold Yuugi's.

"—will you still live with me?"

Both his hands were clasped around Yuugi's paler ones, and he held Yuugi's gaze. "I would never leave you," he stated. Though his voice was quiet, it was firm and even. "Everything else, we will take as it comes." A pause. "Together."

Yuugi felt his worries slipping and falling back. They fought to keep a hold on him – they were, after all, important worries, and they would need to be addressed – but they weren't important yet. And slowly, Yuugi holding Yami Yuugi's stare the entire time, they disappeared.

It's okay if the scenes go on one by one. The light known as "you" reflects my scenario.

The two were still holding hands when they exited the restaurant. Despite all the time that they'd spent in the little place, the sun was still shining just as brightly outside. Dragging Yami Yuugi along, Yuugi darted off in search of a pair of sunglasses. The darker boy, occupied with keeping pace with his smaller companion (which made no sense to him, since Yuugi had shorter legs and Yami Yuugi should have had no trouble at all keeping up), didn't notice why Yuugi stopped. He looked at his companion quizzically, then, following the direction of Yuugi's stare, discovered the reason.

Across the street, oblivious to their observers, a pair of boys with hair white as the moon navigated through tourists.

Yuugi smiled, squeezed his darker half's hand, and the two started off again.

[la fin]