Author's Notes: This is based on the assumption that Yami could have been corrupted by the power and darkness inside the Puzzle and the other Items. Yes, this is AU; take it as you will.

{Blah} = Yami's thought-speak
[Blah] = Seto's thought-speak

Whoever Fights Monsters
Seto has always been recalcitrant. Yami likes that.

"Whoever fights monsters should see to it that
in the process, he doesn't become a monster."
Friedrich Nietzsche

Yami has always liked to stroke his hair.

It's soft and silky under his fingers, against his chest, as its owner rests there, long slim body sprawled haphazardly on top of the sheets. Blue eyes flicker open slowly, and Yami frowns absently, not liking the defiance he sees in them. Another chain snaps out from his mind, joining its fellows in wrapping around his companion's psyche. Binding him.

The defiance fades slowly, but not completely. He feels a twinge in his mind, like a fingernail scraping lightly down his skull. Yami chuckles darkly, cupping Seto's pale face in his hand.

"You'll never stop fighting me, will you?" he asks, almost affectionately, stroking Seto's cheek with his thumb. A hesitation, lasting so long that Yami's eyes narrow dangerously, and then Seto leans into the touch, closing his eyes and just breathing.

"Never," is the word that's breathed brazenly against his hand, and Yami's grip tightens hard enough to bruise. Seto whimpers, and he's submissive again. Yami loosens his grip, placated for the moment.

His body is submissive, Yami mentally corrects himself. Seto's mind, no matter how ruthlessly chained down, will always be recalcitrant.

He likes that.

"You know," Yami begins softly, caressing Seto's hair like a favourite pet, "you're the only one who hasn't broken." A wince, not large enough to be visible, but painfully obvious against his hand. He keeps petting. "Jounouchi gave in last week."

A growl, low and dangerous. This earns Seto not one, but three more chains, wrapping themselves securely around his soul and mind, binding him down. He's helpless like this; he can't move, can't control his body at all. Mentally, Yami counts — Seto is five chains away from the destruction of his soul. Interesting. Jounouchi had finally broken when he'd been sixteen chains short.

Seto had always been the stronger one.

"Ironic, isn't it?" Yami muses, more to himself than anyone else, looking at the grey wall on the other side of the massive room. "We always told you to lean on friends, Seto. But in the end, it's your independence that's kept you alive this long." He leans forward, to whisper in Seto's ear. "Yugi cried for you when he fell."

The twinge in his mind snaps one of the chains, shocking him into momentary abeyance, and Seto's body shifts, one hand flashing up like a lightening bolt to wrap around his neck.

Yami lets him do it. He might as well let the poor mortal have this satisfaction, if nothing else.

To his surprise, Seto's hand doesn't tighten, but falls away. A sob bubbles up from his throat, and Yami pulls Seto's head to closer to his chest, soothing him, but no other noises escape.

"You'll never give in, but you know you can't win this one." Yami rests his chin on Seto's head, smiling. "An interesting philosophy, Seto."

Seto takes a deep, shaking breath.

"You know I'll never kill you." There's a strange sensation in his mind, like someone tugging fretfully at his hair. Yami smiles and opens the link. It's not often that Seto will consent to speak with him.

[I wish you would.]

That breaks his heart, it really does.

{You know I'll never give you that victory.}


{You know I love you,} he think-speaks gently, stroking Seto's hair even more so. And he means it, he really does.

Seto's body shudders, in reaction to his emotions, and Yami realizes that he's loosened six of the eighty-two chains. Seto has more control than usual, but... Yami doesn't rectify it.

This is nice, for the moment.

[Don't say that. Please.] Seto's own mental voice, more than a little broken to Yami's sensibilities. He can see it in his mind's eye; Seto's soul cracked and splintered and, in some places, dull and nearly dead.

Seto never says please unless he's desperate.

Seto, lately, is always desperate.

{You know I do,} Yami replies, and lifts Seto's head up, staring into the empty blue eyes.

{You used to be so beautiful,} he says regretfully, brushing brown hair out of Seto's vision and leaning in to kiss him. Reluctantly, the young man responds, though there's nothing like love in it.

There's nothing like hate, either. Seto doesn't have enough energy left to spare for something so strong as hate, not to mention that he just doesn't care anymore. He's indifferent.

That actually hurts, if anything can.

[Kill me,] Seto says, and his pain is worn and dull against Yami's mind.

{I love you too much,} Yami replies, even as he sends another chain to repress Seto's mind, even as the bruises his fingers left begin to blossom on Seto's pale skin, even as Seto howls in agony in the confines of his soul.

Even as Yami loves him.