Disclaimer - I do not own any character, plot, or storyline of Yu-Gi-Oh. However, that doesn't mean I can't wish that I owned certain individuals from it . . . *cough, cough*
Author's Note - Well . . . here it is. This story was known as 'Out of Darkness', but I took it down to rework it. I didn't like the way the original version was going. Now, it's re-titled 'Redemption' which is much more fitting with the storyline I've got going.
As for time line . . . it's about a month or so after the end of Battle City. No, I have not seen those episodes yet . . . I'm stuck with the Kids WB as my Yu-Gi-Oh source at the moment, and they've only gotten up to the whole thing with Noah and the game thingy. So, I guess you could say it's AU after Battle City. *shrug* Anyway . . . there is some OOC in it, especially from my two favorite individuals, but I'm hoping that you'll accept it and let the storyline flow with it. Hope you enjoy.
Okay . . . before we get started . . . **THIS** is light (Ryou and Yugi) talking to dark *THIS* is dark talking to light.
Yami = Yami Yugi
Bakura - Yami Bakura (pretty obvious there)
Marik = the normal, only slightly insane version.
Malik = the twisted, totally psychotic 'I wanna be a super saiyan hair style' version
Just for future reference.
Chapter 1 - Thoughts in the Dark
Tea stepped out of Domino High eagerly as the final bell rang, signaling the end of another normal, boring day at school. She sighed in relief as the doors closed behind her, glad to be free of the building for the day, but concerned none the less.
Battle City had ended just over a month ago, coming to it's stunning conclusion that they all felt somehow had changed them . . . but it hadn't. Only two of their number had been changed by that final cataclysmic battle . . . four if you counted the spirits that co-existed with them in the same body. Ryou had awoken himself for the first time in a very long time, in control of his body fully at last. It was Yugi that worried them all the most, however . . . since the end of the tournament, he had become increasingly silent and withdrawn . . . and none of them had seen a reappearance of Yami, who had become as much a friend to them as his aibou was.
Speaking of Yugi . . . Tea spied a familiar flash of tri-colored hair in the crowd ahead and hurried her pace to catch up to the slight duelist.
"Hey . . . Yugi!" she called as she broke into a jog. The small teenager turned around, his lips turning up in a small smile as he spied his one-time crush jogging towards him.
"Hey Tea," he murmured as she stopped beside him, looking up at her and trying to ignore the worry that was evident in her eyes. All his friends were worried about him . . . he knew that, but he was more worried about his other . . . his Yami, the spirit of the Millennium Puzzle and a five thousand year old Egyptian Pharaoh. Refusing to dwell on it further, since it didn't seem to be doing any good, he turned his attention back to Tea. "How is dance school going?"
Tea blushed and murmured that it was going fine. She was still embarrassed by the fact that Yugi was, in a sense, her benefactor in having been accepted to the prestigious dance school there in Domino City. With some of the prize money he'd won in Battle City, he'd bought her a slot in the new dance class, and paid for her tuition. While she was grateful to him, she was also mortified by it. She had wanted to do it on her own . . . but that would have taken years, she now realized. She had gotten a glimpse of how much Yugi had paid . . . and even though she didn't want to admit it, she never would have been able to get that money, no matter how many after school jobs she worked. She knew that Yugi wanted nothing but her friendship for it . . . he had even refused to accept her thank you's, saying that's what friends were for and that he couldn't have done any of it without her and the other's support. Well, since he wouldn't accept anything but friendship . . . then that was what he was going to get.
"Yugi . . . what's going on?" she asked quietly. "You've been so quiet and distant this last month . . . is something the matter?"
Yugi looked up at her solemnly, and sighed. It wouldn't do any harm to tell her. . . and he was tired of trying to figure things out on his own.
"It's Yami," he said finally. "He's been . . . well, I guess distant is the right word, but it's more like non-existent. I can still feel him . . . but he's locked himself up and won't come out. I don't know what's going on . . . and I'm worried about him. If he would just talk to me . . ."
Tea heard the loneliness in his voice, and wrapped a gentle arm around his shoulders, squeezing comfortingly. She knew how close Yugi and the Spirit of the Millennium Puzzle were . . . one could not live without the other. Yami had given Yugi the courage and self-esteem to carry on in the face of any obstacle, and was Yugi's best friend . . . almost a brother to the short duelist who had been picked on so much before the Puzzle had been solved. Yugi, in turn, had rescued Yami from thousands of years of imprisonment in a black void where time had no meaning and had taught him about life again. They were everything to each other . . . which made this sudden silence and separation even more strange and ominous.
"Well . . . he does have a lot on his mind right now, Yugi . . ." she murmured, hoping that it might comfort her smaller friend. "It's not every day you discover that you were once a living person who sacrificed your entire existence to save the world."
"Yeah, I know Tea. But I get the feeling it's more than that. I just wish he would tell me." Yugi sighed, his slight shoulders rising and falling in a small shrug as he fell silent. Tea had a point . . . his yami did have a lot on his mind just then. But he couldn't help feeling there was more to it than Yami trying to come to grips with a past he hadn't known he had. Something just told him that something was wrong with Yami . . . his other half was usually so self-confident and strong . . . what could make him completely withdraw from him like this? His eyes caught on the Millennium Puzzle, bumping softly against his chest as he walked. The Puzzle . . . he wondered again what it had been like for Yami to be trapped in there for so long. Had he been conscious the whole time? Had it been like sleep? These questions had been plaguing him for a while now . . . ever since he had discovered that Yami was not just a hidden part of him, but a completely separate entity. They had never talked about it though . . . Yugi had never wanted to remind Yami of what must have been a horrible experience for him.
He turned his gaze inward, looking towards the Soul Room where Yami spent most of his time lately. The door was firmly closed . . . as always. He wished he knew what was going on . . . but Yami wasn't even answering him fully anymore. Whenever he did get through, he received a murmured reply along the lines of an 'I'm fine' or 'Do not worry about me, Yugi' and it was driving him nuts. And there was always that slight tinge of darkness to the mental voice that answered him. He couldn't help but worry . . . something was bothering his Yami, and he wanted to know what. It was time he did something about it. He wasn't usually a forceful boy . . . his quiet nature and gentle demeanor didn't allow it . . . but if Yami was going to continue to try to hide it, Yugi was just going to have to force his yami to accept his help. He was tired of being patient and waiting.
"Tea, I have to get home . . ." he murmured to his friend. She simply nodded and gave him a strong hug suddenly.
"Call me if you need me, Yugi," she whispered, before running off to her after school job.
"I will Tea. Thank you."
Finishing his chores in the game shop quickly, Yugi shot up the stairs to his bedroom, collapsing onto his bed with the Puzzle clutched tightly in his hands. Concentrating, he allowed his consciousness to slip into his Soul Room. He looked around quietly. Everything was in it's usual disarray here. Toys lying everywhere, although older things were starting to pop up . . . things a young teenager would be more interested in. He wished he could discuss these changes to his soul room with Yami.
Thinking of Yami made him remember why he was here in the first place. He walked quickly out of his room, and stood before Yami's door, hesitating for a moment. Was he doing the right thing? Just because Yami shared his mind and body didn't give him the right to barge in on him . . . Yami respected his privacy, after all. No, Yami needed help, whether he wanted to admit it or not, and Yugi was going to give it to him. He'd left the spirit alone and worried in silence for long enough. His mind set, Yugi laid a hand on Yami's door, and pushed with all his might. It refused to budge. Growling softly under his breath, he put his back into it, shoving as hard as he could. Still nothing.
Sighing, Yugi sank down to sit with his back to the door, thinking. Now what . . . his eyes widened as an idea came to him . . . an idea sprung from the memory of his meeting with Shadi, the holder of the Millennium Key. Duel Monsters could come to life here, right? Quickly, Yugi reached into the pocket of his school jacket, pulling his dueling deck out hesitantly. What to use? He couldn't use the Dark Magician against Yami's door . . . the Magician was soul bound to Yami, and would not go against him. Valkyrion would work . . . but it would probably break down the door and then some. He came across Big Shield Guardna and paused. This could work . . .
Concentrating, he summoned the monster from the card. The card began to glow briefly, and Yugi was suddenly standing beside the huge, shield bearing warrior. He willed the card-made-real to push on Yami's door, and watched as he moved to do his bidding. Yami's door glowed softly, an angry red light that blazed up, then faded abruptly as the door was shoved open.
Dismissing the monster with a whispered thanks, Yugi stepped into the Soul Room of his dark counterpart.
He was startled at the complete and total darkness of the room. He couldn't see anything . . . the room was in total inky blackness that threatened to consume him even as he stood there.
"Yami?" he called softly. There was no answer, which only worried him more. Yami had never failed to answer him before this . . . what was going on? He shuffled through his deck quickly, coming up with the Horn of the Unicorn. This would give off light, right? He summoned it silently, sighing in relief when it lit the room with a soft light. Holding it aloft in his hand, he looked around. The room hadn't changed since the last time he had been here . . . it was still a maze of closed doors and stairways. Where, in this mess, could Yami be? He took the first set of steps hesitantly, retracing his path of the time before, pausing to open doors and glance into rooms as he went. There was no trace of Yami.
He finally came to the door that Shadi had entered last time . . . the one had nearly led the Egyptian to fall to his death through a trap. Hesitantly, he opened it, peering in cautiously. Nothing . . . the trap was still there though. Sighing, he closed the door and turned around, to find himself suddenly facing a door that had not been there before.
"What's this?" the young aibou murmured, laying his hand against the new door. It was cold to the touch . . . and he could almost feel waves of darkness rolling off it. Suddenly even more worried than he had been before, he pushed it open, his eyes widening as he saw what lay within.
Yami floated in midair, his body wrapped in shadows. His knuckles and face were cut and bruised, his clothing torn in places. His eyes were closed, his hands dangling limply.
"Yami!" Yugi cried, racing forward. The shadows departed from the light of the horn in his hand, and Yami began to fall limply to the floor. "Yami . . . please be okay . . ." Yugi whimpered, holding his other's head in his lap, smoothing the hair back gently from the bruised forehead. "What happened to you?" he whispered, staring down at the proud face of the former Pharaoh. "I have to get you out of here . . . I have to do something . . . but what?" he murmured, thinking out loud. An idea came to him suddenly. Summoning the Dark Magician from his deck, he instructed the card to carry it's master back to the main room, which it did silently, Yugi following closely behind. Once there, the Magician gently set the still form on the ground before bowing to Yugi and disappearing back into the card.
Yami groaned suddenly, bringing Yugi back to his side quickly. His eyes flickered open, crimson meeting amethyst in confusion.
"Yugi . . ." Yami whispered, his voice hoarse. "What are you . . ."
"I had to come . . . I was worried about you," Yugi said, staring down at his spirit in concern. "What happened? Why have you been so distant? I've been so worried!" Yugi buried his head in Yami's chest suddenly, his small arms tight around the spirit's waist. One hand lifted to gently run over Yugi's hair, comforting the small boy.
"I am sorry, Yugi . . . I have not meant to be so neglectful in my duties as your guardian," Yami murmured, breaking the silence. "I have been . . . attempting to find myself . . . to find more glimpses of my past in this maze . . ." Yugi raised his head slowly to look at him, dashing away tears with the sleeve of his jacket.
"Why couldn't you let me help you?" he whispered. Yami shook his head slightly, raising himself into a sitting position slowly.
"My Soul Room is a dangerous place, little Yugi . . . even for myself. There are many things I still do not know . . . and many traps still lie in wait for the unwary. I did not wish to risk harm to you by allowing you to help me. This is something . . . that I must do on my own, my aibou."
"But you've been hurt!" Yugi cried, looking at the disheveled appearance of his spirit.
"I cannot be hurt in that sense, Yugi . . . I am not alive anymore," Yami murmured. A touch of bitterness entered his voice . . . which Yugi caught on to.
"Yami . . . what do you do in here when you aren't protecting me or dueling for me?" Yugi asked suddenly. For some reason, the answer to that question seemed important suddenly.
"I exist, aibou. That is all I can do, exist and wait for when you need me again." Yami shrugged, looking at Yugi's face with an air of simplicity. "I have no other reason for being here that I know of, little one." He stood, brushing himself off slowly. "Why do you ask?"
"It must be terribly lonely . . ." Yugi murmured softly. Yami only sighed, and kneeled next to him.
"Aibou . . . I am only here to assist you. Loneliness and emotions such as that have no room here . . ." Yugi looked up at him, a slight frown on his lips.
"Everyone has emotions, Yami. Even a spirit." Yami sighed, and simply looked at him.
"I was not saying that I do not have emotions, Yugi. What I meant was that how I feel has no impact on why I am here . . . I simply am. How I feel is of no consequence to anything that needs to be done."
"That's not true . . . you're still a person, Yami." Yami stood suddenly, his shoulders tightening. Yugi looked up at him, noting the sudden change in his yami's demeanor. It looked almost as if he had hit on a sore subject . . . but why would Yami suddenly be upset?
Yami turned away from his aibou, unconsciously dropping his emotional shields back into place. How could he tell Yugi, his aibou, his light, that he felt trapped? He was trapped . . . this puzzle was his prison. He was not a person . . . he was a prisoner, a spirit bound to the Millennium Puzzle and it's owner . . .bound to his fate by his own act of sacrifice.
How could he tell Yugi that he despised his fate . . . that he envied Yugi his chance at life . . . a chance that he himself had thrown away in a desperate attempt to save the world? He sighed, angered at himself suddenly for having such thoughts. He had made his choices . . . he now had to live with them . . . or rather, exist with them since he was no longer alive. He couldn't tell Yugi any of this . . . not without it sounding as if he no longer wished to be with Yugi, which was so far from the truth.
"You must go, aibou. Your grandfather is calling you for dinner . . . and unlike me, you still need to eat," he whispered.
"Yami . . ." Yugi whispered, reaching out unconsciously towards his yami, his voice pleading.
"I am fine, Yugi. Just go . . . I will not close you off again. Just . . . if you wander in here, come no farther than this room, please. I have no wish for my Soul Room to hurt my aibou." Yugi sighed and nodded, releasing his consciousness from the puzzle carefully. Opening his eyes, he sat up slowly.
"I'm coming, Grandpa!" he shouted down. He stood carefully, slightly dizzy from the amount of energy he had expended in his search for Yami. He walked slowly down the stairs to dinner, his thoughts centered on his yami.
Yami sank to his knees in his Soul Room, his head cradled in his hands, his eyes staring unseeing at the wall before him long after Yugi returned to the real world.
"I am sorry, little Yugi . . ." he whispered to himself. "I cannot tell you . . . how much I wish that I could have a life of my own again."
AN - Okay, well, that's it for the first chapter. I hope you enjoyed. Please review with any question, comments, concerns . . . that whole thing. For those of you who were or are fans of Starlight and Shadows . . . I'm still working on the sequel, I swear.