Disclaimer:  I do not own YGO.  Presumably little green men from space do, because, seriously? Who else could come up with the idea for Yuugi/Yami's hair?

A/N:  Um.  Yes.  First fic.  Wildly insecure author.  Therefore, any comments and / or constructive criticism = muchly appreciated.  Yes.  They really would be, too.  *vigorous nodding*

BTW, Canadian spelling.  Hope that's all right, eh? *wink*

Note!  Yaoi/Shonen-ai ARE NOT present in this stuff.  However! As a (huge) yaoi-fan myself, all those reading this fic can feel free to insert whatever lewd overtones they want.  And yes, maybe everyone IS in a huge orgy (except Anzu)!  We all know everyone is Very Good Friends anyway, right?

As for Tea/Anzu.  Um.  I really can't stand her in the show.  Seriously.  But I really like it when she's realistically portrayed in stories.  So.  Yeah.  Sorry.

As for the story itself, well, it's after Battle City, but it's weirder.  I didn't go into details much.  Let's just say that no-one fully realizes there're two people in Yuugi yet, ok?  I mean, no-one's really stupid on the show, so they are gradually wising up… but.  Yuugi knows about Ryou and his yami.  Ryou knows about Yuugi and his yami.  Sorry for the weirdness of it all.  It's just I've read a bunch of stories where everyone just assumes that the yamis/hikaris are two separate people (except for precious few stories – they rock!) and so I decided to write about how they split.

Additional note!  *cups hands over mouth for the cheap megaphone effect*  I'd really like a beta-reader!  Please please pleasepleasepleaseplease!  E-mail me!  *straightens jacket*  That didn't sound too desperate, right?  Desperate attitudes scare people away. *more decisive nodding*

*Checks author's notes*  Gaaah.  Sorry these have gone on so long…

Therefore, knowing that this is my first fic and it's unbeta-ed, feel free to plunge right in!  *deep breath*  Here we go…

Writing Code:

~ *spooky voice*  I am a flashback!  Woooo! ~


\Hello, non-defined yami!  This is hikari speaking!  Over.\

//Yami here.  Coming in loud and clear, non-defined hikari! Over!//

\Ten-four, good buddy!\

And Then There Were Two

The sun's rays melted onto the beach and the birds soared through the air, intent on making ground dwellers writhe with envy.  Around the island, the ocean's waves lapped the shores with timeless grace which made the recently moored boats rock gently back and forth.

Joey was having none of it.

"Come ON, people!  Let's go duel!"

Pumping his fists in the air vigorously, he was soon on the beach and tapping his foot impatiently.  Yuugi grinned at his friend's constant enthusiasm and looked around.  Honda, Ryou, and Anzu offered various expressions of anticipation.  This was, after all, the third national duelling championship hosted by Seto Kaiba himself.  Once the victors had proven their worth, they could either duel Kaiba or take home the prize money.  A very large amount of prize money.  Yuugi thought it was a very nice arrangement, although faintly creepy with the Pegasus overtones.  His yami, on the other hand, was filled with confidence and excitement for the upcoming duels.  Already Yuugi could feel his other half subtly try to gain control of his duelling hand in order to reach for his deck.  Yuugi mentally rolled his eyes and giggled.  After spending so much time with each other, through good times and bad, calm times and life-threatening situations, Yuugi knew his yami almost as well as he knew himself.

"Um…" Ryou quietly interjected.  "Perhaps we should join Joey on shore before he develops heat exhaustion?"

Yuugi blinked and came back to the present.  Offering a sheepish smile to Honda, who had been staring concernedly in his direction, he jumped off the ship and ran over to Joey.

"'Bout time!  An' I thought you guys were nevah comin'!"

Honda swatted his head.  "Moron.  When do we NOT go to a duel tournament?"

Anzu jumped in, "We'll support each other!  Friendship will always triumph!"

Laughing, the five companions made their way to the registration booth, unaware of Bakura's mental snide remarks or the video camera trained on them.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In his central Headquarter tower, Kaiba watched the group plod through the sand.  His eyes narrowed.  "Computer, zoom in and focus on contestant Yuugi Mutou.  Begin analyzing."

Soundlessly, the machine obeyed and automatically began recording information.  It transferred the accumulating data to the already expansive folder concerning Yuugi Mutou.

Smirking, Kaiba leaned back.  His plan was working perfectly.  The revenue this tournament was reeling in was causing his company's stocks to soar.  Not only that, but when tournament reached the finals, he'd be able to duel Yuugi, or whatever name Yuugi had given to his schizophrenic mind-friend.  After all, when had the boy not beaten the odds? Despite his mental state, though, no-one could argue that Yuugi – or whoever – wasn't an excellent duellist.  Kaiba was prepared for this duel, too.  His new duel strategy was unbeatable!  It could not fail!  He was looking forward to this ultimate duel between him and –

"Mr. Kaiba, sir?"

Kaiba felt his gloating mentality disappear and impatience take over.

"What is it, secretary?"

A gulp.  "Sorry to bother you, sir, but your 11 am meeting is here."

He sighed.  Sure, the vast wealth was great and Mokuba was leading the great life he deserved, but he sometimes wished there was another way to go about it all.  Meetings were the prime cause of his irritation: they accomplished nothing and interrupted his Yuugi-watching time! …Not that he had just thought that.  Taking a deep breath, he ordered his secretary to send in the representatives.

With a click, his door opened. Two men walked professionally into his office and bowed politely.  Kaiba started the meeting right away, with an abrupt gesture for them to be seated.

"What can I do for you, gentlemen?"

The taller one smiled.  "Hello, Mr. Kaiba.  My name is Mr. Marion, and I represent the Equal Duellists Organization.  We're here on behalf of our small but growing corporation in order to ensure that all duellists are given equal treatment."

Kaiba blinked, then frowned.  He had never heard of this company before.  This equal treatment, though, had to be positively reinforced.  It would not do to receive a bad press publishing at the beginning of the tournament.  "Are you a sort of duelling union?  At any rate, let me assure you that there is not, has never been, and never will be any discrimination present in our duel evaluations."

"That may very well be, sir, but recent authorized investigation into your archives has shown a disturbing concentration on a certain," Here, Mr. Marion checked his report, "…Yuugi Mutou, I believe?"

His partner interjected.  "Further study revealed that this individual is a fifteen-year old middle-class male from Japan who suffers from no physical disabilities and is not part of any religious or societal minority."

Kaiba glared.  He did NOT like the direction this…interrogation… was taking.  "Be that as it may, Mr…" He raised an eyebrow in query.

"My apologies.  My name is Mr. Carcedas, sir."

"Mr. Carcedas, then.  Yuugi Mutou is the subject of intense supervision because of his surprising and abrupt rise in ranks due to his duelling ability alone." Kaiba laid his hands flat on the table for emphasis.  "Gentlemen, I cannot stress that enough.  Whether Mr. Mutou is part of any majority or minority is none of our concern.  We at KaibaCorp are interested solely in duelling ability."

Mr. Marion nodded politely.  "Then you won't mind if we proceed to ask you some questions?  It is very important that we ensure that no one is given special treatment."

Kaiba frowned some more.  "…Very well, gentlemen.  However, I ask that you be brief, as I must formally welcome the duellists and begin this tournament shortly."

"Very well," said Mr. Carcedas.  "To begin, when did Mr. Mutou begin his surprising rise through the ranks?  Recently?"

Seto thought hard, "To the best of my knowledge, the first real demonstration of his progress occurred during Pegasus' duel competition.  I believe that was approximately 3 years ago."

Marion nodded.  "Thank you.  Have you ever met this duellist?"

Seto sighed.  Had he ever.  "Yes.  I have met him several times personally, in addition to our occasional battles on the field."

Carcedas frowned.  "Do you approve of him as a person?  Do you find you wish to 'make life easier' for him?"

Seto cut him off shortly.  "No!  He is my rival on the field and I have no wish to make his life easier than it already seems to be.  He has a caring guardian –much like a …father," Seto spit this last word out, "in addition to his many supporting friends."  He sighed.

Marion followed up.  "In that case, if you have met him, have you perhaps noticed his…um…" He glanced at his report again, "His 'necklace' for lack of a better word?  It is on a heavy chain, and it seems to hold an inverted pyramid, of sorts."

Seto rolled his eyes.  "Of course I have.  It is rather hard to miss, isn't it?"

The three shared a smile.  "It does tend to project slightly, does it not?" smirked Mr. Carcedas.  "At any rate, did he have this puzzle before he began his astounding progress?"

Seto frowned again in concentration.  "I…do not…believe so.  I'm fairly sure not. Why?"

The two exchanged a glance.  "Well, Mr. Kaiba, sir, we do not wish to alarm you, but we feel that his 'necklace' might contain a device for … cheating, somehow."

Seto's eyes widened.  "What?!  That's preposterous.  Yuugi would never cheat!  …I mean, contestant Mutou is an extremely honourable individual, even more so on the field.  From my observations." He coughed slightly.

"Ah yes, your extensive observations.  You note he is more honourable in the duelling arena.  Would you say he is like another person?"

Seto returned to his frowning.  "Per…haps…  Gentlemen, I do not quite understand where you wish to go with this extensive questioning, but I do understand it is wasting my time."  He rose with finality in order to override the objections he could sense bubbling beneath their surfaces.  "And now, gentlemen, this 'meeting' must be ended, as it is now time to formally greet the duellists and begin the tournament." He stalked over to the door and flung it open, making sure that his trench coat/cape billowed dramatically.  "Good day, gentlemen."

They still protested of course.  "Mr. Kaiba, we have not finished –"

"Good DAY, gentlemen."

As they left, grumbling under their breaths, he breathed a sigh of relief and headed to his private helicopter.  He did have that speech to do, and perhaps a high-speed flight in a machine whose blades slashed the air and destroyed the flight paths of those stupid birds would make him feel better.  How DARE those two question his discrimination – or lack thereof?  How DARE they waste his time with pointless questions?  Fuming, Kaiba waved off the chopper pilot and took off towards the island.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The two black-clad businessmen left Kaiba's office and continued frowning until they reached their car.  As soon as they had entered, though, they immediately burst into huge smiles and pumped each other's hands enthusiastically.

"Good job, 'Mr. Marion'." A suppressed chuckle.

"Why thank you, 'Mr. Carcedas'." A broadened smile.

"Little did that fool Kaiba realize that we are not representatives from the Equal Duellists Organization, but really evil scientists who want to RULE THE WORLD!"  This statement was followed by an indulged maniacal laughter.

"Really, Dr. Garu, as my assistant, you are in no position to announce that plan.  Which is incorrect, I might add.  We are merely interested in subject Mutou's seeming alternate personality and its connection with that chain-necklace.  By studying Mr. Mutou's mental aspects, we will be able to further our cause in the annual Psychologist's Debate."

Dr. Garu ducked his head apologetically.  "My mistake, Dr. Ceebague."

Dr. Ceebague grimaced.  "Quite all right.  Let us then direct ourselves to our laboratory and review our evidence.  I believe we will find Mr. Kaiba's unwitting confession to be most useful.  You did record it on tape, did you not?"

"Of course I did, Dr. Ceebague."

Glasses glinting ominously, Garu started the car and drove off.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Dark Magician, attack his life points directly! Reduce them to zero!"

His opponent was beaten!  Once again, Yami felt the euphoric rush.  Once again, his faith and expertise had joined with his aibou's and they had triumphed over the beginning – though surprisingly good – duellist.  As always, his light, his hikari, his aibou, his other half, had shone through with his determination and had lightened his heart in times of trial.

\Great job, Yami!  Let's go find the next challenger, alright?\

A smile appeared on Yami's face. //Very well, aibou.  Although perhaps you would care to repossess your body for a break?//

A flash of pleased surprise.  \Um…ok.  Don't you want to stay in the physical world a bit longer, though?\

At his hikari's sweet concern, Yami's eyes softened. //That is not necessary.  Besides, the timing device on your wrist indicates it is your usual hour of repast.  I do not want you to be weak because you have not eaten.  I also know you enjoy- //

In his soul room, Yuugi squealed. \Yami, you're the best!\

As the body stepped from the podium, a discreet change took place as their minds switched.  Yuugi shortened, his eyes grew bigger, and his hair flopped down once more.

"Thanks for cheering me and helping to support me, everyone.  Come on, you guys!  What say we grab a bit to eat? Hmm?"

Joey immediately grinned.  "Yuug, you're the best!  I was just thinkin' 'bout how hungry I was!"

Honda rolled his eyes.  "Dude, you're never NOT hungry.  You're such a pig."

"What was that?  I'll pig you, you—"

"As if you could!"

A cloud of dust, flying fists, and kicking feet suddenly appeared as the two leapt into their friendly, male-bonding, testosterone-oozing session.  As Anzu rushed over to try to stop it, Ryou turned his eyes towards Yuugi.

He shyly moved forward and said, "I'd like to go for lunch, as well, Yuugi.  Th- Thank you for…uh…inviting me."

Yuugi's eyes widened.  "There's no need to thank me, Ryou!  You're our friend and you're always welcome to join us!  You should know that!"

Ryou lowered his eyes, "Thank you.  I'm…afraid I haven't been much of a friend in the past, though.  Um… I'd like to apologize once again for my yami – I mean, Bakura's – behaviour."

Ignoring the yelp of protest and subsequent growl that came from Bakura's soul room, Ryou hurried on.  "I could not stop his actions and I do feel so very sor—"

"I won't have you apologizing anymore, Ryou!" In a rare moment of temper, Yuugi's eyes flashed.  "You're not responsible for him or his actions.  And besides, you've done the best you could, considering the trauma you've been put through.  I mean, you still have that scar on your arm, right?"

"Well...yes.  Although I tend never to really look…" Ryou trailed off and shuffled his feet nervously.

Yuugi's eyes softened.  "I'm sorry.  How have things been for you?  Is he still making you sad?"

Ryou looked up, startled.  "Oh, no!  Not at all!  I mean, he sometimes insults me, but only when I really deserve it!  I am weak and pretty pathetic half of the time."  He half-grinned at Yuugi who was opening his mouth to vehemently protest. "Besides, he's still working on the initial stages for his next evil plan, so I think we're safe for a while."

Yuugi grinned.  "Great!"

In his soul room, Yami rolled his eyes.  //Great.  Another Evil Thiefy plan.  Doesn't he ever get tired?//

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Later, though, sitting around the table, Yuugi thought about Ryou's words.

\Safe… We're never truly safe, are we?\

Yami roused in his soul room.  //What is it, aibou?  Is something wrong?  Is someone threatening you?//

\No, nothing like that!  Don't worry, Yami.  It just seems that whenever we enter these tournaments, we get in danger.  You know.  Pegasus, Bakura, Marik, Noa, the Big Five…\

Extreme reluctance.  //…Do you wish to withdraw from this, aibou?  No tournament is worth the risk of putting you in danger.//

Yuugi's eyes filled with tears.  Duelling was Yami's life, and to give it up, just for him…

"Yuugi?  Are you ok? Why did you stop eating?" Anzu's voice seemed to come from a great distance, as did Joey's answer.

"Fugget it, Anzu.  He's all spacey again.  He's probably just thinking to himself again."


\Sorry!  Of course we won't drop out!  It's just sometimes it seems as if we're always the ones targeted!  …You know?…\

//Don't worry, aibou.// Warm, liquid reassurance flooded down their mind link.  //I will always protect you.  Always.//

\Yami…\ Well, this was just no good.  He couldn't start crying in front of his other friends.  Then he'd have to explain why and it was really just too complicated.

Finishing his burger, though, Yuugi decided he couldn't help but feel so affected.  His yami was his darkness, some might argue, but he wasn't a jagged, sharp blackness that tore upon contact.  His yami was more like a shadow: Ever-present, with soft edges that enveloped him carefully.

Yuugi smiled.  And just like a shadow, he thought, we're never going to be parted.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Machines beeped.  Motors hummed.  Liquids boiled.  A solid, reinforced plastic cage sat in the centre – empty for the moment.  On a far wall, an enormous screen was scrolling though information collected on a certain Yuugi Mutou.

Thoughtful as always, Dr. Ceebague nodded occasionally as he read some particularly interesting data.  Turning, he called his assistant over.

"Yes, Doctor?"

"I believe everything is in place.  All the variables and dependents have been set in the best position.  How fares your situation?"

"Very well, doctor.  After we turn on the pre-tested power into the containment unit, all will proceed as expected."

Ceebague smiled.  "Wonderful."

Garu looked at Yuugi's image profile.  "And isn't he just the cutest little thing?"

Ceebague turned disapproving eyes upon his subordinate.  "Whether or not the subject is… cute… has no bearing upon our experimentation.  Now, we shall review the procedure and equipment once more for certainty, then begin at 1900 hours tomorrow.  Is that acceptable?"

Garu nodded vigorously. "Most certainly, doctor.  My apologies again, doctor. I shall go verify the equipment immediately!"  He quickly turned to leave, but was brought up short by Ceebague's stern reminder.

"No running in the lab!"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Kaiba nodded in approval as he looked upon his monitoring system.  Despite the early morning hour, several duellists were already about and making full use of his holographic duelling machines.  He smirked.  Those had to be the biggest revenue created by his company.  Although expensive to create originally, copies had become remarkably cheap as time progressed, yet people were still amazed enough to pay their child's way for the tournament.  Frowning, he stared out the window.  It would have been nice to have such a caring parent…

A sudden beep from the computer alerted him to Yuugi's presence on the main duelling field.  Torn from his melancholy wishes, he sat down in his stuffed leather chair with his heated coffee in hand and settled in to watch the duel.

Halfway through the duel, though, his door flew open.  Knowing that he had given orders not to be disturbed unless a critical emergency had occurred, he swivelled abruptly to face the intruder.  His hot coffee splashed onto his lap and he winced – twice fold as something crashed into him.  Jerking his arm holding the coffee away from the bundle in his lap, Seto only managed to scald his arm.  He did the only thing he could do in this situation.  He Glared.  The Official Seto Kaiba Glare.


"Hiya, big brother!  Whatcha doing?  Oh, hey!  Yuugi's duelling!  Cool!  You mind if we watch it together?  I'll go get my chair!"

Seto twitched.  Then he shook his head fondly and made space for his brother.  With all the preparations for the tournament, he knew he had been neglecting his little brother.  Pushing down the surge of guilt that followed that realization, he rationalized.  At least he was spending some time now, wasn't he?

"So who's he duelling?  Hey!  The Dark Magician!  D-Mag is in da house!  Whoo hoo!"

"D…Mag?" Seto whipped his head around to stare at Mokuba in horror.  "Mokuba.  How many bowls of sugar cereal did you have this morning?"

Mokuba giggled.  "I'm KIDDING, big brother!  Wow.  I was right.  You do need to loosen up.  Good thing I'm here, huh?"

Seto slowly smiled.  "Yes.  It is a good thing."

They watched the rest of the duels together for the morning.  At six, Seto left his office, intent on taking his favourite – ONLY – brother out for a rare dinner-on-the-town.  It was for this reason that he missed the unauthorized black helicopter flying in, spotted only on Kaiba's advanced monitoring office system.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Wow, Joey!  That was a great duel!  You sure have come a long ways since you started!"

Joey rubbed his head sheepishly, "Aw, geez, Yuug.  I'm still not nearly as good as you, though!"

Anzu smiled encouragingly.  "But you're doing a lot better!  Yuugi's right!  And with our help, I'm sure you'll become one of the greatest duellists of all time!"

Soul Room Yami sulked, peeved.  //That's my title.//

Yuugi snickered.  \YAMI!  Behave!\

Anzu frowned.  "Yuugi!  That wasn't nice!  I'm sure Joey will be a great duellist.  There was no need to laugh at him!"

Yuugi blinked, startled.  "Wha--?  Oh!"  Realizing what he had done, he backed up, waving his hands frantically.  "Oh, no!  That's not what I was doing at all!  That just…um…reminded me of a joke!  That's all!  I'm so sorry, Joey!"

Joey laughed, all initial hurt washed away.  "Chill, Yuug, it's ok.  Don' worry 'bout it."

Honda glanced at his watch.  "Hey guys?  It's getting on 8 at night.  We should probably start heading back to the inn."  Glancing at the silent white-haired boy beside him, Honda realized that Ryou hadn't spoken in some time and was in fact staring at the ground.  He frowned.  Ryou was their friend, despite that weird…thingy… in that ring necklace.  He should be included in their conversation more often.

Nudging the smaller boy, Honda asked, "Don't you think so? Ryou?"

Ryou's head flew up.  "Wha-?  Oh.  Uh.  Sure?"  He offered a weak smile.  It had been a long day, as he tried to suppress his yami, and so he hadn't really been listening.  Bakura was getting stronger as the days progressed from his journey into the Shadow Realm.  Soon, Ryou wouldn't be able to stop him from taking control again.  He sighed.  He was bound to his yami.  He had accepted that.  Light and dark were intertwined, just as the days were long.  Ryou just wished his yami wouldn't make life so hard for him.

They all headed back, taking the shortcut through the fair-sized forest.  Anzu stooped to admire the flowers as Joey and Honda bickered amiably.  Yuugi smiled, his eyes glazing, as he chatted with his yami.  His yami, who always understood everything.

Ryou suddenly felt a surge of bitterness.  Everything – Everyone – was so idyllic.  It wasn't fair.  He couldn't take it anymore!  Turning abruptly, he dashed off into the woods, not caring about the branches that tore his clothes, his face.  Not caring about his companions' concerned shouts.  Not caring about his yami laughing hysterically – insanely – in his soul room.  Not caring about the Anzurs that fell from his eyes.  Not caring from the hoarse sobs coming from his throat.  Not caring.  Just. Not. Caring.

As Ryou abruptly ran off, Yuugi, Honda, Anzu and Joey immediately shouted after him.  It was going to be absolute dark soon, and without many lamps around, he could get lost!

"What's wrong with him?!"

"I knew it! We were shunning him, guys!  I'll go get him!"

"Hey, Honda, I'll go with you!  See you in a bit, you two! Don't move, ok?"

"Wait – Joey!  Honda!"

"Wait there!  Be back soon!"

Taking off, Joey and Honda were soon lost to sight as they followed Ryou's broken trail through the thick underbrush.  Anzu peered after them, and Yuugi frowned concernedly.

\Yami?  Do you think that could have been Bakura's fault?\

//…No…I do not.  Although I would not know, that seems to me to be a simple case of trying to escape something…else.//

\But what could it have been…OW!\

Yuugi yelped as he rubbed his shoulder.  Stupid mosquitoes!  He forgot that twilight was their favourite time to feed.  Did they have to bite so…hard…?  Wait.  Why hadn't Yami inquired if he was alright yet?

\Yami?  You there?\

//…hmmmm?… Of course I am… aibou… I'm just feeling rather…tired…*yawn*  I believe I will go rest. Good night, aibou.  Wake me if you need me.//

Wha-?  Why was Yami asleep if Yuugi's body wasn't even tired?  Although, now that he had mentioned it, his eyes were getting rather heavy.  Too bad they had to wait for Joey and Honda to return with Ryou.  Poor Ryou.  He yawned.

"Anzu?  How're you holding up?  You tired yet?"

"Me?  Oh gosh, I'm fine, Yuugi.  I'm really worried about Ryou, though.  What could have made him run off like that?"

Yuugi shrugged uncomfortably.  "Um…I don't know? I hope they come back soon, though.  It's getting awfully dark.  Do you have a flashlight?"

Anzu grinned and flashed a victory sign.  "Yep!  Be prepared!  And if all else fails, we can spend the night telling ghost stories!"

Yuugi chuckled.  "No thanks.  Ghoulies give me the creepies."

Anzu smiled.  "Poor baby… Wait.  Did you hear that?  I think they're coming back!"

Yuugi suppressed another yawn and looked up to two – two? There should be three – figures coming from the bush.  "Guys?  Did you get him? Wait – who are you?"

The taller dark-clad one smiled.  "Hello, Subject Mutou.  Please give us your full co-operation in our experiment.  Upon completion, in accordance with the necessary psychological regulations, you will be given full details about the purpose of the experiment, all right?"

Yuugi frowned.  Wha--? \…Yami…? Wake up, please.  I need you.\

He could feel Yami stirring.  //Aibou?  Whazzrong?//

\I don't know but… YAMI!\ Sudden white-hot panic slashed down their bond. \Yami!  He's pointing a gun at me!\

Yami frowned and tried to get up to his soul room door to take over.  He had to defend his precious light.  He had to…

Dr. Ceebague smiled as he fired the gun and the beam ray sliced through the air and lit up the night.

To Yuugi, time seemed to slow down as he watched the light travel towards him.  He felt the tingling as the green light hit him, the shiver that traveled from his chest to his head, and the horrible wrenching agony as he felt his other half ripped out of his soul room.  And all the while, in the events that followed, he stared in shock and did nothing.  He.  Did.  Nothing.

Nothing as Yami was ripped from his most private, most precious area of his mind.

~//I will always protect you.  Always.//~

Nothing as he watched Yami suddenly solidify in mid-air, as the beam smashed his yami's beautiful, strong, unbeaten body against the hard oak tree, wrenching a shocked, pained cry from sun-browned lips.

~//…Do you wish to withdraw from this, aibou? No tournament is worth the risk putting you in danger.//~

Nothing as a pair of mental scissors snipped the link between them, leaving only a void of consuming emptiness.


Nothing as Yuugi watched the black-clad bullies grab his other half and slung him over their shoulder like a sack of garbage and leave through the trees.

~//What is it, aibou?  Is something wrong?  Is someone threatening you?//~

Nothing as he became…nothingness.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

To Anzu, being held by the other goon, it happened all too fast.  Yuugi screamed for a few seconds as the green light hit him, then another form appeared out of nowhere and was thrown – hard- against a nearby tree. She winced, even as she struggled against the freak who was holding her back.  He threw her down then, grabbed the lump of a boy who seemed to look exactly like Yuugi, and then they both left as she tried to catch her breath.  Yuugi stood still in the centre of the clearing for a few more seconds and then seemed to merely…collapse.  He crumpled to a shuddering, broken state on the mud-covered ground, just as Anzu began to scream.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Joey and Honda were making good progress as they ploughed through the bushes.  But as the seconds ticked by, Honda was getting increasingly worried about the albino and was thinking about calling out his name.  It couldn't hurt right?  Unless Ryou didn't want to be found…

Suddenly, Joey stopped and squinted to his right.  "Hey, Honda?  I think I found him."

Honda's head whipped around and peered in the direction Joey was pointing.  A flash of white hair caught in the burgeoning moonlight and Honda sighed in relief.

"Ryou?  What's wrong?"

"Hey, buddy, you ok?"

A sob.  Soft and shuddering, but low and intense.  "Go away."

The two shared a concerned glance before Joey stepped forward in determination.  "No way!  You're our friend!  What just happened there?"

Honda followed reluctantly.  "Joey?  Maybe you should back off."  At his suggestion, Joey glared, then relented.  Honda continued.  "Ryou?  Do you want to talk about it?"

"…No.  Go away."  A pathetic sniffle.

Honda frowned, troubled, before trying another tactic.  "Well, at least come back with us to the inn.  You can't sleep out here.  There's umm…" He looked around, "there's bugs and stuff!"

Joey chimed in.  "Right! And no one likes bugs except for that icky creep Weezel.  And he don't count."

Honda smiled.  "So true.  You, on the other hand, Ryou, do count.  Please?  Come back?"

Slowly, the bent head turned to face them.  Ryou lifted red, teary eyes to look at the two who had followed him into the forest.  He gazed, hurt, at their shocked faces.

"Ryou! Holy crap, dude!  You're covered in blood!"

Ryou slowly, looked down.  He smiled forlornly as the hand he wiped across his face came away with the blood from his scratches.



"…Yami likes blood."  It was no more than a whisper, but it caused both teens to step back, slightly disturbed.

"Ryou?  What did you say?"

Ryou raised his eyes once more, then narrowed them.  "I said, Yami likes blood."  His eyes suddenly glazed over as he seemed to listen to something invisible.

//Yadunoshi, you IDIOT!  You gave away my identity!//

\Oops.\  A mental, high-pitched giggle rang through the soul room.

Crazed, slanted eyes narrowed further at his hikari's behaviour. //Cut that out, weakling.//

\Mee~aanniieeee….\  The word was drawn out, every nuance explored as Ryou decided to succumb to the darkness.  Insanity couldn't be so bad, right?

//Wha-?  Yadunoshi?  Cease this unseemly behaviour!//

Another high pitched cackle.  Ryou could understand why Bakura looked to be having so much fun all the time.  Insanity was fun!  Now he could play with Malik!  Not that he wanted to, of course.  Malik or Marik or Yalik or Yarik were very mean.  Which was it, anyway?  It's like they couldn't decide on a name.  Like his puppy.  His puppy never came when he called it, so he'd tried calling it different names, so it could come over and play with him and it never did and then yamihadKILLEDitbecausepetsareforweaklings--


The sound echoed sharply through the mental hallway.  Ryou blinked several times, then turned confused eyes towards his yami, whose hand was still raised.  Bakura stepped closer to him, and then spoke directly into his ear.  //Ryou.  I am insane.  You.  Are.  Not.  You will not pretend to be insane.  You will remain calm and sweet and caring.  You will continue to serve me and I will protect you.  As usual.//

Tears started to run down Ryou's face.  \You never protect me!\

//I do.//

\You don't!\

//Very well.  If you insist that I don't protect you, then perhaps you'd LIKE to have your memories come back to you?  What I did with your body every time I've possessed it?  Our time in the Shadow Realm after our  defeat at Marik's hands?  Every second of year-long agony, screaming when no one can hear?//

Ryou paled. \You keep that away from my mind?\

//I do.//

He suddenly felt a surge of compassion overwhelm him. \You're keeping that locked up inside your mind, so that I don't experience it?  You have to suffer through that everyday?\

Bakura shifted and drew back, the sneer automatically in place. //It's not that bad, landlord.  I am a creature of darkness.  I revel in despair.//


//But nothing.  You can do nothing.  Therefore, we will continue as before.//  A nervous glance at Ryou who lay on the floor, still holding his reddened cheek.  //All right?//

\Yami…\  A ghost of a true smile drifted across Ryou's face as he got up and briefly dared to squeeze his darkness' hand.  \All right.\

A blink of puzzlement from the thief was memorized, recorded, and put away in his prized memories as Ryou returned to the physical world.



"Come ON, buddy!  Snap out of it!"

"Wait, Honda, check it out!  He's smiling!"

Ryou let out an amused, completely sane giggle.  And through all of this, in the dirt, darkness, and strange forest, his friends still cared.  He could do this.

"Sorry.  I'm afraid I rather drifted off, there."

Once again, Joey and Honda sighed with relief.  Then Honda narrowed his eyes, "You sure you're ok?  You're still covered with blood and everything…"

"No, really.  I assure you I am quite fine.  I believe I have a handkerchief somewhere with which to wipe it off…" Some rummaging in his pocket produced the desired material.  "Here we are!  Good as new.  I am sorry to have worried you, but I do believe that I am much better now."

Joey's answering grin spoke volumes.  "Tha's great to hear, Ryou.  Now come on, we should be getting back to th' others."

Honda nudged Joey, "I hear Yuugi's afraid of the dark."

Joey snickered.

Ryou smiled.  It looked as if things were getting back to normal.

But no more than five steps had been made when Anzu's panicked scream ripped the night in two.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

End Part One

Yugi:  You…took….my…yami…AWAY?

Yami:  Aibouuuuuu!  *voice trails off as he's carried away*

Divey:  He'll be back soon!  I promise!


Joey: *snerks *   Warning!  It's Spastic Yuugi!  Stay back everyone!

Yuugi: *runs around in circles * Yami!  Yami! Come back!!!

Yami:  *hogtied in the corner * Aibou!  I'm right HERE!

Yugi: oh… Yay!  *glompy Hug*  I missed you! *starts untying ropes*

Anzu:  Man.  And you guys have only been apart for …what…five minutes?

Seto:  Ms. Dive, doesn't this story concentrate on their rather angsty separation?

Divey: Per…haps…? *desperate smile *

Y+Y: *flat, deadly tone*  What.  did.  you.  say?

Divey:  *runs from Yami's 'Oblivion' attack*

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Additional Note: Um… If you see a reference to your fic, then that just means I've read it, loved it, built a shrine to it and am unable to stop myself from referencing it. Thank you for being inspirational!

PS: *rolls eyes* Of COURSE reviews are welcomed with open arms and happy gushy emotions. I'm absolutely desperate for feedback. No flames, though, please, because mean people make me cry. On the other hand, constructive criticism is happily embraced! Improvement is my friend…