A/N: Rewriting is seriously painful business. I am the queen of Stupid Ideas, I swear. Next time, someone stop me! And I hope this came out okay! Happy 2007!


Sweet Perfected Naivety Meets Its Counterpart

Chapter 7: Submerged

By LilPurplFlwr


The senior stared into the glass of the shop door as if it would bring him some clarity--just a little explanation for Yami's abrupt dismissal, something to soothe the anxiety in his mind, for the more he thought about it, the more upset he became. Just when the teenager was about to snap from frustration, the side door to the house clicked quietly as it was slowly pushed open.

"Yuugi?" Ryou entered the shop, bewildered at his outgoing friend's lack of response. "Did something happen?"

Yuugi turned an indifferent expression towards Ryou, who was not the least bit fooled when Yuugi's violet eyes began to glitter suspiciously. Eyes held steady otherwise, jaw set and lips a lax line across his face.

"Not much," Yuugi answered shortly in a clipped tone, turning away quickly to avoid the other boy's scrutinizing gaze. However, he could still feel it on the curve of his cheek and mentally winced.

Ryou suddenly nodded toward the bundle in Yuugi's arms, sighing beneath his breath. "Honestly, Yuugi."

Golden bangs fell into Yuugi's face as he cast his gaze downward, hands white-fisted into the returned article and quivering slightly. "But…!" Yuugi began, wanting to pour forth the truth but forcibly suppressing himself, unsure of how to phrase himself.

Ryou raised an eyebrow at the stammer. As Yuugi looked up into the other boy's face, his comforting chocolate-brown eyes wavered into arrogant crimson as Yami's words came crashing back to the forefront of his mind.

'I never want to see you again.'

Yuugi gritted his teeth as his chest tightened uncomfortably, snapping before he could stop himself. "I don't care!"

Still composed, Ryou softly reminded his friend of his neutral position. "Don't care about what, Yuugi?"

The shorter senior exhaled softly, seemingly defeated as he was brought back to the reality of the shop interior. "It's nothing. He looked to the ground, pulling at the edge of his shirt in response to his stifled confession.

The white-haired teen shrugged his shoulders lightly in resignation, realizing that he should give Yuugi the space he so seemingly desired. When the other boy wanted to talk, he would let him know. Pressuring the answer out of him would do neither of them any good in the end. So Ryou stood there next to his friend, hands in his pocket as he waited for the silence to pass.

"Ryou…"

"Yes, Yuugi?" Ryou asked gently, letting a small smile of encouragement touch upon his lips.

Yuugi stood for a moment, eyes searching Ryou's expression with a subdued sense of urgency.

"You understand, don't you?" he finally asked, the ambiguous question tapering off into the silence of the room.

-

Ryou turned to his side underneath the blanket, feeling uncomfortable with his own bones. His pillow seemed annoyingly uncomfortable, as did his bed. Hell, everything felt uncomfortable, from the way his sheets tangled around his calves to the insistent throb in his head. He knew he should be asleep, but his eyes and mind were rather uncooperative.

After a few more minutes of futile attempts, Ryou pulled his leaden body into an upright position and slid his legs over the edge of the bed.

Hell, he would be getting up in two hours anyway. Why not just get a head start?

Twenty minutes later, in school uniform glory, he sat patiently on the roof while taking leisurely bites of a piece of toast slathered in butter. The sky was a dark, chalky gray, the ugly duckling stage before it blooms into a graceful dawn, all feathery wisps of mauve and ashen blue. It was chilly, as winter mornings go, and Ryou played with the idea of returning inside for a jacket.

Just as he was preparing to hoist himself up on his search for warmth, he noticed a figure racing across the dead street. Ryou nearly rolled off the edge in his shock.

Squinting, Ryou inched further towards the edge as safely as he could to get a better look. 'Insomnia is highly overrated,' he griped mentally to himself as he worked to focus his blurry vision on the rapidly disappearing figure.

The stranger glanced around, inching into the shady street where Ryou had entertained an overly familiar memory all night long. Black eyes seemed to glimmer dangerously as they locked with Ryou's for an infinitesimal moment, and just as soon, the man (Ryou was certain of that) had disappeared.

"Oh, no…" Ryou murmured, frozen in place, very much threatened at the mere glance. He could feel panic rising in his chest. 'If that was…if there was another fight… I just…'

He moved as quickly as he could back into the security of his room and shut the window, hands shaking so forcibly that he could barely lock the window. For a couple of minutes, Ryou stood motionless before shaking his head as if to clear his thoughts.

When that didn't work, he headed to the bathroom to wash his face, hoping that the cold water hitting his skin would bring with it mind-clearing effects. 'One moment of carelessness…'

Outside, sirens squealed through the suburban neighborhood like a screeching banshee.

The water hit Ryou like reality. '… and you'll get dragged under.'


Spread around Malik in a haphazard circle was an array of medical necessities. One hand fiddled with a disinfectant spray while the other tapped anxiously on a roll of gauze. Near his knee was tape, the end pulled out for quick access.

The moment the first body entered through the back door, Malik jumped up to assist, nervous energy sending his body forward with an abrupt jerk.

Bakura caught his friend's wince, the scowl on his face twisting even further. "Sit down, idiot."

The tanned blonde glared right back, a similar scowl forming on his lips. "Then hurry up and get your ass over here."

There was a pause and a long minute before Bakura made it over to where Malik was. With the light finally on Bakura, Malik suddenly felt quite sick to his stomach.

Bakura was covered, head to toe, with blood: a solid mass on his pants, splatters on his shirt, spots on his arms, speckles across the gaunt curve of his cheek. In short, he looked like hell. However, that wasn't the question; the true question was how much of the massive amount belonged to Bakura.

The white-haired gangster reached up and brushed his messy hair out of his face, further smearing more blood across his cheeks and into red-tinted strands. "What the hell are you ogling at?"

The Egyptian swallowed heavily, eyes jumping up to Bakura's face at the question from where it had been riveted on a particularly large splotch of blood. "Nothing. You hurt?"

"What, you can't tell?" was the harsh retort.

Contemplating his response and deciding that Bakura couldn't be terribly wounded if his mouth was still spouting off rudely like that, Malik answered snidely, "No, Miss Congeniality. Excuse me for my lack of eyes."

Bakura gave one last glare before slowly making his way to the bathroom, pace slow and steps lethargic. Malik studied him curiously before dismissing the vapid movement as a result of exhaustion.

Next stumbled in Mai, Jounouchi following closely behind. After one glance, Malik proceeded to rip off a decent amount of tape with his teeth, pulling Mai's messily wrapped arm closer to the light as he began to work. Mai's violet eyes drew together in pain when the alcohol in the disinfectant found its target, but Malik's grip on her arm tightened, preventing escape as he adroitly cleaned the wound.

Once the wound was wrapped and taped securely, Mai's arm received a fond pat from Malik, drawing a small wince from the woman.

"Ow," Mai finally offered, cradling her arm against her chest as if proximity would lessen the pain. "I would have preferred to stay there and fight if I knew I would be treated like this at home."

"Oh, shut it. Jou?"

The blonde was sprawled on the floor, staring with profound disinterest at the bare ceiling. "Beaten."

Malik scooted over to the prostate blond while Mai tended to the minor wounds scattered across her body, rummaging through the medical supplies until she came across an ointment that boasted faster healing.

"Where?"

"Everywhere," Jou sighed softly, lips scarcely moving, as if it the slightest movement would warrant impending pain. "Nothing broken, hopefully." It hurt to breathe, but not in the unbearable splinters-of-bone-in-lung way—or anything drastic like that. Nonetheless, soreness was soreness, and Jou was not enjoying it in the least bit.

"It's not bad--"

Yami's quiet entry interrupted Malik's focus altogether, and the Egyptian all but gave up on patiently waiting for Jounouchi's short verbal clips, unusually distracted that evening. "--Mai, can you help Jou?"

"Sure, hon. Come here, you big baby."

Jou sighed again before promptly making a face at the dull ache in his chest. "Ma-a-a-i-i…"

"Wha-at?" she innocently returned, brandishing one of the popular analgesics she had come across earlier in her search for ointment.

"Can't move," Jou informed matter-of-factly, groaning as he tried to shift a few feet before giving up and flopping back down on the floor with a whine. Mai shook her head in vague amusement as she slid the short distance towards across the floor towards the other, quipping about what a baby he was and blissfully ignoring the other's complaints as she set to work.

Ignoring the banter between the other two, Yami dropped onto the floor next to Malik and examined his wounds carefully. Damage surveillance.

"It won't be long," the petite teen's voice rasped, ragged from the assault, "before police get down to it. Did we kill people tonight?"

"I don't think so," Mai interjected, taking little notice of Jou's watery eyes, currently the only indication that she was going overboard with her well-meaning massage.

"Maybe," Jou choked breathlessly, so swamped with pain that he was certain he was going to pass out soon. In fact, he could feel his vision darkening already. So overwhelmed with pain that his protests and complaints had been silenced—until now, when a particularly sharp knuckle bit roughly into his bruised and battered rib cage. "One or two—FUCK YOU, MAI!"

"Yes. Two. Definitely," Malik answered indifferently, though the reason behind his clipped words was quite evident. A good half of Malik was bandaged, and now that he was finally sitting still instead of running around after others, the ache in his body was making itself quite apparent to him. A small groan left his lips as Yami pressed a cursory touch to his shoulder, which was swelling up rather beautifully. In the raging fight for survival, where he was concerned with his friends' safety, he oftentimes forgot that he, too, could get injured.

It was that exact moment, in the shadow of silence that followed Malik's admission of pain, that Bakura hobbled into the room, face tense to avoid contortion. Almost as a collective whole, everyone's eyes widened with the exception of Jou, who had his eyes squeezed mid-wince when Mai's grip tightened on him in shock. Bakura looked about as blood-stained as when he had left for the shower, jaw set even tighter, if possible, in an effort not to grimace. Even cleaned up, blood dripped down Bakura's pale skin from various wounds. The worst seemed to be on his leg, a foot-long expanse of gaping flesh and tendon, overrun with a small well of blood. It wouldn't be a surprise if that slash reached the bone.

Malik let out a flood of curses, his own pain once again forgotten as he rushed over to the other. In the next second, Bakura's knees buckled and he fell forward into Malik's quick grasp, unable to sustain his own weight on his battered body any longer.

"Emergency room?" Yami asked, stepping closer and trying to gauge the degree of the wound. Fairly smooth incision versus a serrated laceration; boded well for disinfection, less chance of severe inflammation. But blood loss and shock was a threat.

"God, I hope not," Malik said between clenched teeth, using his incisors to help him tear off long pieces of tape as he pushed the gaping wound together. With the fresh blood quickly seeping out, and no trace of any clotting whatsoever, it appeared as if Bakura had already disinfected the wound himself, which made things easier for Malik. He worked quickly to emulate butterfly stitches with the tape, muttering absent apologies whenever a barely perceptible groan emerged from above him as he pushed the edgeds of the wound firmly together, ignoring the trembling in the muscles beneath his hands and the blood that had coated his palms.

"Someone get me two pairs of socks. Now," he grunted as he worked. Malik could hear shuffling in the background and once the tape was in place, already stained crimson, two neatly rolled pairs of socks were dropped down besides him. Malik carefully pressed one of the socks against the wound, adding a substantial amount of pressure as he unrolled the gauze with his mouth, casting an apologetic glance at Bakura when he winced. Holding the edge of the gauze roll in his mouth so to stretch the material as taut as possible, he wrapped Bakura's leg carefully, adding the second roll as he went down his shin and cursing when he ran out of gauze and had to start on a second roll. Eventually, with a little creativity and a great deal of tape, Malik had managed to dress Bakura's wound in such a way as to assure the slash would not open or shift too much.

"So when were you going to tell us about this?" Malik asked wryly, with a bit of anger laced in his words, as he patted Bakura's shin lightly, hand resting on the mounds of gauze and socks. "When you fell over, sweating and shaking, from shock?"

"Che," Bakura scoffed shortly, shifting slightly and flat-out ignoring the fact that the wound on his arm had re-opened with the movement.

Malik sighed and proceeded to wrap Bakura's bicep again, a considerably easier task than tending to his leg. All the while, he was studying the other's jagged expression. Blood lust had seemingly left Bakura's system, but that was a questionable statement at best. His body had given out, but his eyes indicated his mind was still running on the adrenaline.

Hoisting the white-haired man up, with great difficulty and the eventual help of Yami, Malik lead Bakura the short distance over to the bed, ignoring the death glare targeted at him. Laying him down and propping his injured leg up with pillows, the Egyptian sat down on the edge and started checking Bakura's pulse and feeling his forehead for any signs of increased perspiration or fever; vigilant for the signs of shock, which he could do nothing about.

"Bakura…" Malik was just about to tell Bakura that he would personally kick the other's ass if he walked on his injured leg at all during the next week when he noticed the expression on Bakura's face.

The young man's eyes had darkened considerably, the grim set of his jaw tightening further as he lay still on the bed. "That bastard got away."

"What?" Yami interjected, eyebrows raised at Bakura's sudden burst of information.

"Who?" Mai asked curiously as she helped Jounouchi onto the couch, finally through with her less-than-gentle massage. Jou groaned as he was released onto the soft, yielding cushions where he proceeded to fall asleep out of sheer exhaustion, too enveloped in his own dull agony to care about the conversation at hand.

"Nothing," Bakura stopped abruptly, crossing his arms across his chest and glaring at his raised leg, all but giving the appearance of being quite unhappy about lying like a weak cripple in bed.

Mai huffed, running her good hand through her long golden strands. "Oh, whatever should we do with these two?" she mused absently, nodding at Bakura while motioning vaguely to the blond that lay unconscious on the couch besides her.

Yami looked pleasantly amused, not so much at their pain, but rather at their difficult personalities. "Chuck them into bed and restrain them until they recover?" With a smirk, he looked over at Bakura. "Well, in his case, just restrain."

"Stay away from me," warned Bakura, darkly glaring at Yami while Malik continued to check him for symptoms of shock, only partially listening to the conversation.

"Oh, shit…" Malik did, however, manage to get the hell out of the way before Mai and Yami struck.


Medicine was one thing. Milk was another. Unfortunately, while Yuugi was not a fan of either, the latter just overwhelmed the competition in Things Yuugi Disliked. He sat at the kitchen table staring at the untouched liquid before deciding to ignore it altogether.

Turning away, Yuugi rifled through the separated sections of the newspaper that his grandfather had left on the table. Although he had decided he wanted to forget Yami, he was too curious to pass up a chance to learn about what was happening with the gang situation.

When he had finally glanced down at the paper he was holding, he almost dropped the gray-inked news as if it burned him.

It was a rather short article despite the large black and white picture. Front page, center -- there was another gang dispute that morning. The fire department was summoned to an abandoned warehouse that was disintegrating rapidly, eaten by hungry, roaring flames. It was suspected there were bodies in the building, but the warehouse was unable to be saved. It was hard enough to stop the fire from spreading further, what with the dryness and age of that downtown area.

The longer the conflict continued, the more precautions the gangsters were taking not to be caught. It was frustrating, the article stated, but Yuugi felt the chill of fear, not for the neighborhood or society, but for a particular group of five.

He had always wondered why the gang's numbers were so small.

'Yami… are you dead?'

Of course, Yuugi was not close to any of the five, but still… still.

The feeling would not leave unless he saw for his own eyes--

--that he was alive.

He pushed his chair back, getting to his feet and promptly wincing at the movement. He would have to take the painkillers or else he would not even make it out of the house; then, he would never know if the gang had made it.

Screwing his eyes shut, Yuugi grabbed the horrendous glass of milk and chugged it down with his pills.


The neatly typed letters meshed into a black blur. Mentally alarmed, Ryou tried to focus on the paper. He willed his eyes to focus, but it was no use. His body had reached its limit.

He needed sleep. Badly.

By lunch, he knew he was done for. He had zoned out in all his classes, fighting heavy eyelids and foggy no-no-must-stay-awake! thoughts—and to further the guilt, he would be breaking a pristine attendance record if he left school to return home and sleep.

No, he could push through another few periods. It was just a couple of hours more until his head could hit his soft pillow, his body cushioned by his warm covers--

As he pushed his books into his locker and reached for the ones he needed for the rest of the day, he swayed on his feet precariously. Catching himself, Ryou leaned his forehead against the cool metal, inhaling slowly, trying to bring back a sense of reality.

Instead, his eyelids closed of their own volition, and his mind swam into satisfied oblivion.

-

"Hey."

'No… dun-wanna…'

Even his mind was slurred. The firm grip on his shoulder was persistent, though, and he was shaken harder yet.

Slowly, Ryou groggily awoke, comfortable but not the least bit happy with being woken. His eyes refused to adjust with the brighter than usual surroundings, and he squinted a bit from the light. He rubbed his eyes as he waited for the discomfort to pass and, quite suddenly, noticed the blurry movement outside. He felt sick to his stomach for a second before he slowly brought his focus together.

'Holy… '

He was moving. In a car. With a gorgeous black leather interior, enviable audio system, and glossy wood trim.

"Where am I?!" Ryou sat up straight in a rush of panic that caused a good wave of dizziness. He flung off the hand that had coerced him to an undesirable state of consciousness and grappled with the seatbelt that had been clipped across his body.

All feeling and thought were knocked out violently as he was slammed back against the passenger seat.

"Calm down." The stranger's arm had Ryou anchored securely, and the senior exhaled shakily, brown eyes darting before settling on the other's face—because, of course, it hadn't occurred to his sleep-deprived and panicked mind to see who his kidnapper was before. "Just dropping you off."

There was a split-second pause before Ryou sputtered in a rather unbecoming manner.

"Kaiba?"

Putting both hands on the steering wheel again, the brunette retreated from Ryou's personal space. The white-haired teen, who rather disliked the feeling of being pinned down, breathed a sigh of relief.

Suddenly, Ryou felt the seatbelt jerk across his chest as Seto stepped on the brakes abruptly.

"W-what happened?" Ryou asked shakily, not feeling well at all.

"What the hell…" was all that Ryou heard from his stoic classmate in response to his question, the mumbled words further obscured between barely open lips. Seto stared off to the side for a second, thumb running absently over the edge of the steering wheel and, in essence, ignoring the confused boy besides him. This, of course, grated on Ryou's nerves, which were already strung taut from lack of sleep and unwelcome motion sickness.

"Oi! I asked you a ques—"

The car started again with an abrupt jerk, once again knocking the wind out of Ryou and effectively quieting him with a small lurch to his stomach.

"Ugh… what the hell is wro--" Another look at the yellow CAUTION tape wound egregiously around multiple orange poles cut off Ryou's outburst. "Kaiba! Taped-off area at twelve o'clock!" Ryou wailed, more to himself than to his classmate, who seemed to take no notice of him whatsoever. At that moment, Ryou wondered rather desperately to himself whether he was going to die at the hands of Seto Kaiba, Mad Driver Extraordinaire.

Of course, Seto paid little attention to the irritated teenager in his passenger seat and raced quickly off the main road, making a sharp turn (which earned yet another outburst from Ryou) towards what looked to be a small one-way street.

Quite suddenly, Seto slowed down, letting the engine cruise smoothly along the small passageway, a vivid contrast to the jerk-stop driving that had upset Ryou in more ways than one. But before Ryou could get a single word of out of his mouth, Seto's composed voice cut him off.

"Are you going to see Mutou?"

The question caught Ryou off-guard, and he temporarily forgot about the rant he was preparing in favor of blinking up at the brunette. "Huh? Oh, yeah… Dropping off his homework. Why?"

Seto simply lifted an arm off the steering wheel, pointing straight ahead. Ryou's dazed gaze followed the line of his arm, past the long, defined fingers and down the desolate street.

"I think you'll miss him if you were to stop by his house," Seto commented wryly.

Ryou's eyes gravitated to the small figure walking down the street amongst the police tape and grime. Suddenly, the reason for the brunette's wild driving became clear to him.

"Yuugi?"

-

Yuugi looked up in surprise when a sleek BMW slowed to a stop right in front of him. He had seated himself right in front of the gray residence from which he had seen Yami exit (injured and mourning the loss of his shirt). The passenger door swung open and Ryou bounded into view.

"Yuugi! What are you doing here? This place is dangerous! Why aren't you home?"

"Calm down," sighed Seto, who rolled down his window. Running a hand through his chestnut strands, Seto vaguely wondered if Ryou had high blood pressure with how high-strung the boy was.

"Kaiba, you really don't have to--" Ryou began lamely.

"I don't need you collapsing next to me again," the brunette said shortly, not paying much attention to the conversation that would soon ensue between the two close friends.

It was rare enough to be in these areas, and Seto was curious, albeit clandestinely, about what was peppering the news lately. He nearly sideswiped the last roped-off scene, but driving to this exact spot, he had seen another scene nearby when turning into the street. Was it simply just a gang rivalry?

Yuugi looked alarmed, "It's only lunchtime, Ryou. Are you sick?"

"NO. I just didn't sleep last night!"

"Are you ditching?" Yuugi asked, jokingly shocked, "What a delinquent!"

Ryou threw up his hands, "Kaiba does it all the time!"

Seto rolled his eyes and twisted his arm to check his watch for time. Granted that he would have left school anyway at this time for Kaiba Corporation duties, he wanted to pick up Mokuba and do lunch. Seto then had to mentally chastise himself. He could not just believe he was putting his little brother in terms of business. What Mokuba did to his car before was a clear indication that the brush-off treatment needed to go.

'That reminds me…'

"Yuugi," Seto spoke out of the blue, most likely interrupting the other two seniors' talk.

"Yes?" The tri-colored senior immediately responded, as polite as ever.

They had a tacit, though weak, understanding of each other. However, as business went, they were almost connected. And Seto hoped Yuugi knew best because he lived around this area.

"Ever heard of… Jou? Male. Blonde," Seto tossed the few general, vague details to Yuugi, who furrowed his brow in thought.

Yuugi's mind connected him to images of the smiling, good-natured teen who he had seen a couple of times among the group of five.

When Seto realized Yuugi was recollecting something but still uncertain, he unconsciously drew up more details, surprised that he himself could remember such details on one particular person, "Amber eyes. Tattered jeans. Not someone who would attend our school."

"Yes," Yuugi finally breathed, slowly, and focused on the other's sharpened blue eyes, "I met him. I know him."

-

There was no way in hell that Yami was falling asleep. After a night like that, when the other four had nearly passed out where they stood, he was going to risk being caught defenseless in another sudden emergency--be it attack, ambush, or police investigators.

It was only an all-nighter. Not terrible, but rather uncomfortable, especially since it was nearly midday.

To keep himself busy, Yami had busied himself with menial tasks, which included taking cupboard and refrigerator inventory, checking locks and entrances and windows and doors, and fixing the broken sink in the bathroom.

He was fighting the urge to sleep as he shuffled through bills when he heard the front doorknob rattle. It was very quick, like a timid test, but Yami was on his feet, ready for something or someone to break in somehow.

Yami was very, very glad he had been awake. No matter how lightly the gang of five slept (life style choices and all), there was very little that could wake the other four right now, much less an attempt to break in.

When there was no more sounds, Yami's suspicion grew. Who had that been?

Instead of sitting down, Yami remained standing and began to pace. It was only several minutes later that he heard a car drive down the street (and from the near silence of its motion, ruined by wind, Yami could tell it was a nice car), but suspiciously, it stopped right in front of the door.

'Fucking shit,' Yami cursed silently, hearing voices, and inched closer so he could try to decipher the conversation. He needed to know if he needed to wake the others or not.

However, after a shocking revelation after a glance through the peephole, Yami nearly fell over after looking at the disoriented event occurring through the curved lens.

There was no mistaking that hair.

Now what could he do? It was bad enough to endanger one, but…

Two more?

-

Yuugi felt genuinely sorry that he could not offer more information about the blond in question, but like the private individual Seto was, the brunette brushed the random interruption away with practiced nonchalance.

"Yuugi," Ryou eased the change of subject to his favor, "… Are you here to see someone?"

'That good-for-nothing someone?' Ryou condemned with a mental scoff.

"Actually…" Yuugi fidgeted, feeling awkward knowing that Ryou would not leave unless… well, either Seto, who was now looking familiarly agitated due to the obvious, dragged the white-haired senior home or Yuugi made up a believable lie.

Of course, Yuugi would bet his allowance that the former would happen thousands of years before the latter might be possible.

Suddenly, there was an attention-grabbing snap that came from the door. The door was all but wrenched open.

"Yuugi!" The friendly smile on the taller teenager's handsome face was disconcerting.

The teenager in question jumped considerably at the strange tone, and whirled around. Focusing on the older teenager within the door frame, Yuugi couldn't help but scan the other over for any injuries.

Trying not to appear nervous, Yuugi replied quietly, while trying to get his nerves settled, "Ya--? Yami. H-hi."

Ryou tensed visibly, brows furrowing. Seto, as cool as ever, could not disguise that his attention had been caught.

"I was expecting you," Yami continued brightly, enthusiastic to the untrained eye. He grabbed Yuugi's wrist and pulled the younger boy into the house. With a burst of inspiration, Yami let his lips graze the other's cheek like a chaste greeting, "It's good to see you again," and with a slight backward glance, he thanked the scrutinizing pair and politely addressed them like strangers, "Thanks for dropping Yuugi off."

The door was shut behind Yuugi. Ryou was left stunned and completely speechless.

Seto finally broke the other's reverie, "See? Now get in the car."


"Just what do you think you are doing?" Yami heatedly whispered, locking and shoving the bolt into place. His grip tightened around Yuugi's wrist.

"I--"

Yuugi was interrupted almost immediately before he could speak. "Why didn't you listen to me?" The other's crimson eyes were smoldering, "You could have been killed. I told you--"

"I know what you told me!"

The sudden loud outburst from Yuugi caused Yami to drop the other's arm and take a step back. In such a strange situation, Yami fell characteristically quiet. His head tilted in his attempt to comprehend what exactly he was responsible to do.

The high school senior shakily inhaled, heavily swallowing the feeling to burst into tears, "I mean…" he tried to assemble what he needed to say, but he really had nothing planned, "I mean… yes. Yes, I know. I know I'm not supposed to see you, I know I'm not supposed to talk to you… I know… I know I'm not supposed to… think of you…"

Yami blinked, and shook his head. He leaned against the door and with one hand, tried to stop the pressure building in his temples. Who knew this was going to be so painful.

"Stop. Yuugi. Just stop."

The petite student winced and turned away, using his fingers to quickly brush away the liquid threatening to spill from his eyes.

"I--"

"Yuugi. Sit down." Yami cut in quickly again, slowly stepping closer and giving the other a gentle push toward the couch. He cautiously avoided looking Yuugi's face that showed obvious signs of emotional discomfort.

"What is it?" Yuugi kept his eyes trained on the table beside him, even when his body faced Yami's when they settled onto the cushions.

"Look," Yami reached out and gently turned the other's face toward himself, "I'm sorry about all of this, but--"

"--but what?" Violet eyes narrowed slightly. Who wouldn't be angry about being brushed off? He should have the right to be miffed.

Yami sighed. The watery pseudo-glare was worse than any old I-hate-you-so-much glare. "Don't you get it?"

"I'm not weak," Yuugi firmly pointed out.

An atypical look of surprise crossed Yami's features. "I never said…"

"That's what you've been thinking. I'm getting involved with a dangerous situation. I can't handle it. Right?" Yuugi crossed his arms.

"No… I mean, yes," Yami frowned, trying to get his words straight, "It is dangerous. It's a question about your safety, not… not about your ability to… be okay," he finished lamely, unable to find the word.

"Why worry? I'm fine!"

"I wouldn't call hospitalization and survival on painkillers 'fine,' Yuugi!!" Yami finally exploded, expending all suppressed energy on volume and restraint from shaking sense into the smaller teenager. "You could be killed!"

"So can you!" Yuugi yelled in return, "Where would you go for broke--"

"I wouldn't get hurt!"

"Bullshit!" The curse flew easily out of the high school senior. "Wouldn't get hurt, MY A--"

An irritated groan from the small hallway made both freeze. "What the fuck, Yami." Mai sounded like she had been run over. Monotony wasn't the tone for her. "Can't you fight with your boyfriend outside or something?"

A heavy silence fell on the small inhabitance. Say what?

The blonde rubbed her eyes, trying to wake up, "I thought I was having one crap-ass dream before I realized it wasn't a dream."

Yami coughed awkwardly, clearly trying to move past Mai's groggy complaint, "Sorry, I--"

"--Yeah. Get some sleep," Mai yawned into her palm, "I'm tired of listening to you two go back and forth when you're cranky and stressed."

With her numerous interruptions, she was leaving no room to argue. Yuugi shot Yami a wide-eyed look of confusion. Yami barely lifted his shoulders in a subtle shrug.

She was moving to the kitchen, most likely for sustenance, "Make up and nap it," she commanded, opening cabinets for a bowl, "Or else I'll sit there and watch."

What did chronic headaches indicate? As he tried to relax, Yami realized how truly tired he was. But he would rather pass out and risk a concussion before letting an issue go by unresolved.

"Mai, may I--" Yami started, rising to his feet. He held out his hand to help Yuugi stand up.

"Yeah. Go." Being a woman of few words, Mai settled to staring at the wall before her as she spooned a mass of damp cereal into her mouth.

"Where are we going?" Yuugi questioned softly, half afraid that the blonde would overhear and inject with another string of short clipped phrases. As his hand slid into Yami's grasp, he was pulled to his feet.

Yami let a small smile tug at his lips. Mai was, as always, understanding down to a pin drop. He tugged Yuugi toward where Mai exited, "Her room."

"Why her room?" Yuugi asked curiously, specifically ignoring the satisfying feel of their hands clasped together.

"She has a bed," Yami answered promptly with a mischievously smile just as they entered through the doorway.

The high school senior stumbled in surprise, but the other simply closed the door behind the both of them.

"Why is a bed important?" Yuugi sputtered, turning pink when remembering that they were supposed to 'make up'.

Yami gave Yuugi's hand a light squeeze. "Don't worry," he reassured, tilting the other's face upward and closing the distance between their lips to a point where they could be recycling air between themselves, "I'm pretty good at it."

"W-wait! Ma-making... up?" Eyes wide, the senior stumbled over his words, flushing deeper as he did.

Impressed by the fact that Yuugi had not backed up, the older teenager chuckled lightly and pressed a chaste kiss to warm cheeks.

"Well, yes. But the bed is for sleep. Remember?"


A/N: I know it was awful. I tried, really! Feedback, please? I beg. TT.TT