Chapter 18: Tabula Rasa

Choirs of souls sang from the ship in merriment. A long lost son of Horus had returned at long last, and he returned as a hero to the whole world! The very sands beneath them cried out in joy! The stars glittered behind them, and the moon shown extra bright. There would be a celebration like no one had seen in nearly two thousand years in the heavens that night, with the King of Games as the honored guest.

His brother, now known only as Yugi Moto, watched longingly from his spot in the desert as the ship sailed out of his reach forever. His eyes, tired from crying and watching and waiting and fighting, turned away after a few moments. His destiny lay away from the crown. Anzu, his grandpa, Jonouchi, and his mother came forward and held him tightly. Yes, this is where his new destiny rested.

Yugi closed his eyes and took in the warmth and comfort of their embrace. In the background, he could softly hear the music ringing…

The ringing seemed to grow louder and louder.

Yugi rolled over and tried to muffle the sound by putting his pillow over his ears. 'Damn alarm,' he thought with a groan.

"Yugi-chan!"

Yugi groaned again. "Hai?"

Yugi's mother knocked on his bedroom door. "Time to get up, son! And it's raining hard outside, so dress warmly!"

Yugi heard his mother's footsteps hurry away as he reached out to turn off the alarm. 'What a dream,' he thought. 'We were in Egypt, and Yami got his memory back, and I was a prince, but-"

His hands searched for the Puzzle on the nightstand, but touched only wood. Yugi sat bolt upright and looked under his bed in case it fell. No Puzzle. He looked in all his desk drawers. No Puzzle. He looked in his bed. No Puzzle. His floor. No Puzzle! In the pillow. No Puzzle.

"Okasan," Yugi yelled. "Have you seen my puzzle?"

His mother gave no response. Yugi gave a small whine and scanned his room once more. He sat down and put his head in his hands. 'What's going on now? Can… Can Yami really be gone?'

Yugi's mother stuck her head into the room. "It's been ten min- Yugi-chan? What's the matter?"

"Mom," Yugi asked, "when did we get back from Egypt?"

His mom blinked. "You… you've never been. You've asked your grandfather, but-"

"H-How about my trip to America? How long ago was that?"

"America?"

"Or Battle City!"

"What's Battle City?"

"Duelist Kingdom?"

Yugi's mother put one hand to Yugi's forehead and the other on hers. "You don't feel like you have a fever. Maybe you should stay home from school today."

Yugi took a deep, calming breath, before giving his mother a bright smile. "Its okay. I want to go to school." It was a half-truth. 'I want to talk to Jonouchi, Anzu, Ryou, and Honda to make sure I'm not completely nuts!' would have been the whole truth.

"Okay. But you'll have to be driven to school. Grandpa will call Jonouchi so he can meet up with you later."

"Arigato." Yugi watched his mother go, trying to clear his mind. 'I'd better stop worrying about monsters, pharaohs, and ancient spells until I get to school.' He paused. 'That'd sound so weird if it wasn't me!'

Mechanically, Yugi pulled on some uniform pants, a black undershirt, a white shirt, and his jacket. After brushing his teeth, he almost ran into his mother again, who was pounding her fist into the guestroom door.

Or at least, it used to be a guest room. Who was in there?

'No questions until I talk to the others!'

"Morning, Jiichan," Yugi yelled as he reached the bottom step.

Grandpa Moto just hung up the phone. "Ho Yugi! Your breakfast is on the table."

"Yea! Pancakes!" Yugi started wolfing down his food as his grandfather spoke. "Jonouchi wasn't in. He must've left already. Maybe you'll run into him on the way."

"Demo," Yugi asked, "aren't you driving me?"

"No. Your mother's getting-"

Before the old man could answer, they heard Yugi's mother roar in frustration, and she stomped down the stairs. "Dear, what's the matter," he asked. Yugi had another puzzle to solve. His mother didn't drive! How was he getting to school? Who would take him? Mrs. Moto ignored the old man, stormed right past Yugi, kicked open the cupboard under the sink, and filled it with cold water.

"Oh, I see now," the old man nodded.

Yugi had no clue what was going on. His mother added some ice to the bucket, and proceeded to carry it carefully upstairs. 'What the Heck is Mom doing with that water,' Yugi wondered. 'She's pretty mad about something.'

A scream pierced the air, making Yugi's hair, bangs and all, stand on end awkwardly. It was a male scream; a familiar scream. But how…?

Grandpa Moto sighed. "Your brother can be as lazy as a cat on a throne when waking up in the morning, ne?"

Yugi's head snapped around to look at his grandfather. "My… my WHAT?"

Angry screams from upstairs made the table vibrate, and hurried stomping could be heard moving from the guest room, to the bathroom, back to the guest room. All the while, Mrs. Moto continued her rant. "Moto Yami! I swear to God! Your laziness will one day destroy your life and ruin your family name! If you weren't my oldest boy and had to go to work to help support this family, I'd take a baseball bat and…"

The footsteps moved down to the stairs and Moto Yami took them two at a time. He looked almost exactly as his spirit had while occupying Yugi's body, only now his hair was still wet from his un-expected cold shower! He had a silver studded belt in his teeth, and he zipped up his gray 'Kaiba Corp.' windbreaker and pulled up black jeans as he took the stairs two at a time to escape the wrath of Mrs. Moto.

"Yo, Yeehan, Yuuhi" he called, still with the belt in his mouth.

"Good morning, Yami," said Grandpa.

Yami reached the bottom of the stairs and took out his belt. "I hate mornings," he grumbled as he walked past Grandpa and grabbed a dishtowel. "Monday mornings should be illegal!"

"Yami, don't use a dishrag!"

He was already running it through his hair to dry it. "Mm? Did you say something?"

Grandpa shook his head. "Never mind. I'll go calm your mother."

Yami leaned against the table, drying his hair, nearly falling asleep on his feet. He looked down at Yugi, and gave a smirk as only the King of Games could. "Trying to attract flies?"

Yugi realized that his mouth was hanging open full of food. He closed it and swallowed, trying to think of something to say. Yami's presence caught him so off guard, he did not know what to even think! The last time he saw the pharaoh, he was on a boat to the heavens. Now he was here, flesh and blood, in his kitchen starting to make himself some coffee.

"Uh… Yami?"

"Hm?"

"What are you doing here?"

Yami glanced at the clock. "Missing a precious half-hour of sleep. Coffee?"

"No thanks. Uh… Are you taking me to school?"

"Ah! Normally I'd let you practice driving, but not in this weather. And not in my new car either!"

Yugi's mind saw Yami as Pharaoh Atem, staring out the window, and then back to reality (?) with fair skin and wearing the Kaiba Corp. logo on his jacket. Only Kaiba Corp employees wore those. Wait! Yami working for Kaiba! He rubbed his eyes. 'I'm going crazy!'

Yami poured the strong liquid black into a thermos, and noticed Yugi holding his head, mentally freaking out. "Something wrong, Aibou," he asked.

'Aibou?' "Uh, Yami, were you… I mean, were we…" Yugi stopped. How could he ask such a weird question without sounding psychotic?

"Boys," yelled Grandpa Moto. "It's really coming down out there! You'd better get going!"

"Hai," both responded. Yami grabbed a granola bar, Yugi put his dishes in the sink, Yami took his briefcase, Yugi took his backpack, and both buckled on black boots. Grandpa met them at the back door with two umbrellas, one red one blue. "Have a good first day, Yugi," he said, handing the younger the blue one.

"Thanks, Jiichan!"

"Be safe on the roads, Yami."

"I will, Jiichan!" He got the red.

Once in the garage, Yugi saw that, next to his grandfather's old jalopy, Yami had a brand new black Mustang. "Hop in!"

Yugi inhaled the new car smell and ran his hands along the sleek interior. "Can I get one when I graduate," he teased.

Yami smirked. "We'll see."

"Hey, you're an executive at Kaiba Corp.! You-" Yugi stopped himself. What did he just say? An executive? How did he know that? When did all of this happen? What the HELL was going on?

Yugi got into the back seat on the passenger's side, too confused to talk to his brother directly. Normally he and Yami were close. Right now the younger just wanted some physical space to help spread out his thoughts. Yami did not seem to notice or care as he turned on the radio to some hard rock music and backed out of the garage.

Yugi stared at the scenery passing by as he went over every event from the past year in his head. Most of the events dealing with Duel Monsters or Egypt began to mesh together slightly, as if the rain somehow made it to his brain and washed everything around every which way. Was his first battle against Bakura before or after Death T? What time of year did Battle City start? When did Nazo move to Domino? The windowpane mirrored Yugi's distorted reflection in the rain, and he thought off-hand of how he could have been a prince of Egypt. The entire experience, to the logical mind, seemed utterly ridiculous! Perhaps he'd gotten sick over the spring break and read something that made him lose touch with reality.

Just then, Yugi saw Jonouchi running through the crowds of pedestrians, holding a newspaper over his head and his book bag to his chest. He kicked up water in the direction of the departing bus that ran by their high school.

"Oy, Yami," said Yugi. "It's Jou!"

"Hold on." Yami signaled, but a car tried to cut him off, and he honked furiously. Then Yami let loose a few well-chosen English phrases Yugi knew were not taught in school!

This successfully caught Jonouchi's attention. He waved to them in gratitude and ran over before Yami fully parked. Yugi opened the door before scooting over behind Yami so that his friend could sit on his left.

"Ah! Thanks a lot, guys" exclaimed the blonde, shaking the water from his sneakers before entering. "You saved my life!"

"If that wet newspaper even touches the inside of this car," warned Yami seriously, "you're gonna wish I'd let you drown!"

Jonouchi set it on his lap. "Obsessed, much!" He turned to Yugi. "So, Yugi, how's your break from the norm been?"

"Same ol', same ol', I guess," muttered Yugi. Somehow, seeing Jonouchi with both eyes intact unsettled him even more.

"Really?" Jonouchi's eyes darted to Yami and back. Then he leaned down to whisper. "Nothin' – uh – weird happen at all?"

"What do you mean?"

Yami held back a snigger.

Jonouchi shook his head. "Never mind. It's stupid."

Yugi shifted positions to face his friend better. "Wait! What do you mean 'weird'?"

Jonouchi waved his hand. "Forget it. Sounds too strange to be real anyway."

"Did it have something to do with the Millennium Puzzle?"

Jonouchi gaped at Yugi. "You remember that?"

"Of course I do!"

Yami burst out laughing. Both of his passengers stared up at him. "Let's see… It only took you two about a minute to figure it out! Glad you still trust each other enough to ques-"

"Figure what out," interrupted Jonouchi. "We don't know shit! We're confused out of our minds!"

"You bastard," exclaimed Yugi, starting to get angry. His brother – other half – whatever – saw him freaking out that morning and didn't say a word! "You almost gave me a heart attack! I thought I was losing my mind!"

Yami shook his head and glanced at him in the rear view mirror. "Sorry, Aibou! I was kind of hoping you'd ask me when I woke up this morning. But I guess we both have too much pride to admit when things aren't fully settled."

"Meaning…" Jonouchi prodded.

Yami pulled over to the side a block away from the school so he could face them. "The Man'jet Boat ended at the gates of the Underworld, where I had an audience with Lord Osiris. As a reward for my good deeds, and compensation for everything he and other gods felt was in excess, he granted me three choices: One, I could become a full fledged god and oversee the Shadow Realm forever. Two, I could move on to Paradise and shape an eternal world to my pleasure. And three, I could be granted a mortal life in the present.

"Lord Osiris informed me of the pros and cons of each choice, and allowed me one week to make my decision." Yami closed his eyes. "I spent every minute of those seven days searching within myself deciding the best course of action. The result would be irreversible, no matter what I chose."

"You chose mortality," asked Yugi.

"You chose to not be a god," asked Jonouchi, shocked.

"I chose you guys! I knew I could never create exact copies of you in Paradise! And immortality in the Shadow Realm? No thanks! I was not satisfied being alone with no one to protect or love. You, Nazo, Jiichan, and everyone else mean more to me than the power of Ra himself! So, I said good-bye forever to Aknamukanon and his queen and relinquished my rights to godhood in order to return here.

"It took some doing," he continued to his stunned audience, "but the completed Millennium Puzzle managed to reroute time and space, creating a timeline in which I was born about three years before Yugi. Everything is as it was before, only now I am physically a part of the word, and the events dealing with the Items never occurred."

"What about the Items," asked Yugi.

Yami unzipped his jacket. The Millennium Puzzle, the pyramid pendant only, was hooked to a chain around Yami's neck. "I'm still its guardian. Its connection to me is about all I have left of my former identity. Just like your Items in your backpacks."

Jonouchi and Yugi scrambled for their bags. Sure enough, the Shen and the Eye sat in the front pocket of both their bags. "No one remembers except those of us with Items. Nazo has the Bracelet, Kaiba has the Rod, Bakura the Ring, Isis the Necklace, and Karim the Scales. Shadi kept the Key in order to ensure our safety, so the damn tomb robber won't try and gather all seven again."

"So, that's it," asked Jonouchi. "I mean we're done? We saved the world, now only the nine of us know?"

Yami added, "And Keiko, but she's the exception to everything!"

Yugi could not help but feel a little disappointed. He kind of liked that he'd impressed Anzu so much with his heroics. He came back from the grave on her behalf. Now she will never remember how much he loves her. He looked up to Yami's slightly concerned face and smiled. 'I guess having Yami here is worth it. I can prove my feelings to Anzu some other way.' "I'm glad you're back, Mou hitori no boku."

"Guess our destinies are down the same road after all. Besides, I have some unfinished business with Nazo." He opened his briefcase and pulled out a ring box. "Think she'll still accept me after I left her twice?"

Yugi grinned. "Definitely!"

"Where do you work, Yami," asked Jonouchi, impressed that Yami could afford a sports car and a diamond ring!

"I'm the Chief of Kaiba Corporation's Intercontinental Relations Department." He smirked. "Nazo's dad is dead here, and I got his job."

"How did that happen?"

Yami paused. "You'll remember things in time. Right now you'd better get to class. I've got to call Isis and make sure she understands."

Jonouchi opened the door and stopped. "Wait! What about Bakura?"

"Don't mess up my car!" Yami reached over and slammed the door, forbidding water to enter. "Yes, Bakura's alive here, too, as Ryou's cousin! He's a senior and goes to school here. I figured I owe him for helping us, so he gets a second chance to avoid Hell." He shifted positions to glare at them. "But don't get near him if you can help it! I still don't trust him much!"

Jonouchi held up his hands. "Psh! Unchallenged! But Ryou makes us hang out with him anyway!" Jonouchi got out. "Later, Motos!"

Yugi watched his best friend hurry into the building. "Guess you were right that we'd start remembering things. Ja ne, Mou hitori no boku!" Yugi got out, opened his umbrella, and closed the door.

"Yugi!" Anzu, wearing a rainbonnet, rushed up to him from the front building.

"Oy, Anzu!"

Before Yugi said another word, Anzu rushed over and kissed his cheek. "C'mon! Let's head over to the lockers! We still have a few minutes before class!"

Yugi's cheeks went pink. "Uh? What for?"

She nipped his earlobe. "Take off your choker and I'll show you!"

Yugi's head snapped to look at Yami. {Yami... Is she my girlfriend?}

The older Moto gave him a thumbs up. {See ya later, Aibou!}


Title Translation – Tabula Rasa is Latin for "Blank Slate."

THE END... for now!