Chapter 18: Never Doubt

A/N: Another missed deadline I know, but again, life sometimes takes precedence over pleasure. I'm currently in my last two semesters before graduation, so I've had to buckle down to finish up my courses. The Grant Writing course especially is kicking my butt right now. Trust me, if you want a class that will put you to sleep and make your brain hurt at the same time, that's the class for you. To make up for it, I've made this chapter super long. It's a bit rushed in some areas but I'll go back and fix that once the whole story's been written. So please enjoy the read and try not to aim too many torches at me for being late.

Even as everyone prepared to leave for what they knew would be the final search, Yami still tried to call out to his Hikari across the mind link. That was what he had been doing all this time, even if the others had remained unaware of that fact. Yet no matter how hard he tried, he met with the same results each time. There was only a void where Yugi's mind should have been. It left him even more on edge than before, nearly forcing him to abandon the others and blindly seek out the little one on his own. Only the words of Dark Magician and the goading of Kaiba kept him from doing so, though the human was still walking a dangerous line by that point.

Still it continued to keep him in check, even if only by the barest minimum. Using what Yami had been able to sense just after Yugi lost consciousness however, they did have an area where they would be searching. Monsters and humans would be dividing up into teams, hoping that by doing so they would be able to cover more ground and find Yugi sooner. A sense of dread was overcoming all the longer the light spirit's fate remained unknown to them.

Not everyone would be going on this rescue mission however. There were some that would have to remain behind either as backup or because the journey would prove too dangerous. The latter applied to Mokuba more than anyone else. As he was so young, neither human nor Monster had been willing to risk his safety on this last part of the mission. So despite the boy's very loud protests, he had been left behind under the care of Mystical Elf and a group of Kuriboh. He would remain their responsibility until the others returned with Yugi and would remain so should anything happen to the other humans.

Even if it meant ensuring his brother's safety, Kaiba had been unsure of the arrangement. There were few humans that he had ever trusted with Mokuba, let alone creatures that could tear the boy apart without a second thought. The urgency of the situation did little to shake this uncertainty from his mind. He tried hard not to show however, so as to keep his little brother and the others calm about the situation. It wouldn't do to lose his cool demeanor now after he had already stood up to a homicidal dark spirit and managed to survive intact. Besides, that's what loudmouths like Honda and Jou were for or so Kaiba privately thought. While he might not have said anything as they finally departed back to the human realm, those two certainly had. They were just smart enough to keep the questions confined to Monsters they knew wouldn't bite their heads off rather than get the whole group riled up.

"Are you sure Mokuba gonna be okay with those guys?" Honda asked as they approached another of the dark tunnels that led back to Earth.

"The boy will be fine. Even if circumstances were not as they are, that would still be the case. He is perhaps the only one of your number who does not have to fear our wrath," Dark Magician replied without sparing the teen a second glance.

They were part of the main group that would be following Yami. The dark spirit had taken the lead, with several Monsters following behind him. Dark Magician, Solitaire and the humans were bringing up the rear, having bid farewell to a still protesting Mokuba. Ahead of them, Yami walked as if he were unaware of anything else. His gaze remained fixed on the horizon, mind closed to almost everything else as he continued to search for the link to Yugi.

"How come?" questioned Jou.

"Creatures born of the Shadows are destined to deal with the wicked and greedy of other realms. Should such a soul cross our path and fail the test presented, then they are ours to deal with as we see fit. It is not done out of cruelty as humans might see it, but balance. Light and dark must always be kept in check with one another," Dark Magician said," We Monsters can tell when there is a true innocent in our company however. Those are souls that we will never harm regardless of the situation, for they represent a light that is rarely found in our world. For that reason alone, the boy would have been safe even without Yami-sama's order."

He would not go into further detail beyond that though the humans did try to question both him and Solitaire. They had both shaken their heads, pointing out that it was better to focus on what was to come rather than other matters. A diversion that might have worked so well if they had not been on their way to help Yugi. If Dark Magician and Solitaire had said anything, it would reveal too much to the humans and enough of that had been done already. They had already been given more knowledge of other realms than their species was not meant to possess. A problem in some aspects but one that could not be changed now. At least they had proven loyal and were willing to help, even though many would see them more as a hindrance rather than actual allies.

Many still questioned exactly how the humans would be able to help them find Yugi. Humans were not like Monsters. They did not have any special abilities, any claws or fangs to help them fight with. Should they face anything with magical powers, they wouldn't stand a chance. Humans were just pathetic creatures that made interesting playthings when their souls proved to be foul and rotten to the core during a Shadow Game.

Regardless, there were still those that respected the humans for what they were attempting. The loyalty that they displayed towards Yugi and their friendship had a strong value in the eyes of the Shadow Realm residents. To them, it meant that these humans, while foolish and more than likely walking straight to their own deaths were brave creatures that would stand by their word. They were not cowards as many assumed their kind was. These at least, were worthy of notice and respect among the Monster ranks.

Their return journey to Earth had been a short one. That was a fact that the humans were grateful for. Their bodies just couldn't take the constant change that was natural for the Shadows to constantly go through. It left their stomachs queasy and the humans themselves feeling a bit on edge. Such was the result of coming into contact with what was otherwise an alien power.

Different tunnels had exited to various parts of the surrounding area. By doing so, it was hoped that the groups would be able to cover more ground and lead to a quicker discovery of Yugi's location. The place that they had come to was not one that any of the humans recognized, though they knew without a doubt that they were still on Earth. It was a deserted, rundown area that looked like it hadn't seen much activity in years. The buildings were old and crumbling, with Kaiba at least recognizing them as old factory buildings that were used in the early decades of the 20th century.

"What a dump," Honda muttered.

"That's an understatement," Anzu nodded.

"Yugi is here, somewhere," Yami said absently.

Those were the first words that he had spoken since they had left. He had continued to stay ahead of the others even after exiting the tunnel, always scanning the surrounding area. Still unable to pinpoint anything via the link, all he had to go on was the general feel of Yugi's light magic to go on. It was radiating out from the source but even then something was attempting to block that. There were powerful forces at work here, as he could now sense. A secondary power that he would have to be careful as there was no telling exactly how strong the source behind it actually was.

Even so, with knowing that Yugi was almost within reach, Yami knew that he would have to go forward. He surveyed the buildings before them. At first, the only entrances that he could spot were the windows that were high above their heads. While it would not be difficult for him or any of his servants to reach these places with the aid their magic, it was not a route he wanted to take. Doing so might alert someone to their presence here, if the vibration of shadow magic hadn't already done that.

That was not an element that Yami was willing to give up. Instead, he would rather choose something closer to ground level so that it would be easier for him to meet the enemy head on. Yes, despite having brought the loyal Monsters with him, Yami had already decided that he would be the one to face Yugi's captor. It was his right both as the hikari's lover and protector as well his duty those that dared to harm what was his.

In time, his eyes fell upon a doorway. It was partially obscured by the long shadows the building cast in the dying light of the afternoon. A stronger sense of Yugi's light magic was coming from that spot, meaning that he was either nearby or had recently passed through the portal. Either way it didn't matter to Yami. It was a point of entry and he would use it without hesitation.

Stepping forward, he gave no sign that he noticed the others. They too had been searching the area for a way in. Each of the humans had gone near the wall, the Monsters who had accompanied them searching alongside them. Only the Dark Magician had remained away from the others. Instead he had kept an eye on his master, waiting to see what the dark spirit would do. When he saw Yami move towards the doorway, that was all the answer he needed. All that remained to know was what Yami wanted the others to do now.

"Yami-sama?" Dark Magician asked as he came up behind his master.

Yami stopped for the briefest of instances. He had no desire to delay this any longer. He knew that he had to go on before anymore time was wasted. Still, he knew that he had to give some kind of order to keep things in check while he was gone. Even if it was only to ensure that there was no outside interference for the battle that he knew was about to take place.

"Let no one enter here once I have gone through. If anyone but myself or Yugi appears, destroy them on sight," Yami ordered.

Bowing his head, Dark Magician murmured," Yes Yami-sama."

With that, Yami turned and entered the doorway. Power crackled from within him as he instantly attacked whatever spells attempted to keep him out. While the trap spells were strong in nature, they were no match for the fury of the dark spirit. His powers batted them aside without hardly any notice. Any that might have caused trouble by seeking out new targets were repelled by the Monsters that had taken up guardianship of the entrance to the factory.

When Yami had entered the factory, Anzu and the guys hurried to follow. They had neither heard Yami's command to Dark Magician to keep watch nor were they aware of the dark powers that were emanating from within the building. All that they understood at the moment was that Yami had apparently found something and that if he had, then it would more than likely lead them to Yugi. Before they even got to the door way however, a certain pair of Monsters between themselves between the two.

"What are you doing? We can't just stand around. Yug's in there somewhere. He's gotta be if Yami's going in there," Jou protested.

"Yeah, why aren't you following him?" Anzu demanded.

"Because our role is fulfilled. Whatever happens now is out of our hands," Dark Magician said.

"Out of our…? You can't mean Yami's going in there to face that Miaka lady alone, do you?" Honda demanded.

"That's exactly what I'm saying, human," Dark Magician replied.

"No. Way. We've come too far to just sit on our butts. We said that we'd help find Yugi and that's what we're gonna do," Anzu insisted.

"Then you can help by doing what we say and help keep watch out here. This isn't our fight anymore, Anzu. We've come as far as we were meant to. Whatever happens after this, it's up to Yami-sama," Solitaire said.

"But…," Anzu protested.

"I said no. Staying here is the best thing that we can do. If any of us went, we'd just be in the way. Heck, there's no guarantee that we'd even make it back in one piece even if we did go," Solitaire insisted.

"Cause of that witch? I ain't scared of her," Jou snorted.

"It's not the witch you need to fear, human. It would be Yami-sama," Dark Magician warned.

"I thought we got passed the whole 'I'm a dark spirit and I'll destroy you' bit," Kaiba snorted.

"That's not the problem," Solitaire said.

"Indeed. Now that his light is so close, our Master will stop at nothing to reach him. His mind is too far gone now to consider any possibility. He would tear down anything that got in his way, even us," the spellcaster agreed.

For the humans, it was a hard fact to accept. They had come prepared to fight for their friend's safe return. Even Kaiba was of a like mind, though he would never openly admit to such a thing. To them, Yugi wasn't the other half of one's soul or a precious creature meant to be protected and revered. Yugi was their friend, plain and simple. He was in trouble and that meant that he needed them. At least, that's what they would have liked to believe was true.

This time, no matter what they felt, it wouldn't be enough as it had in the past. A time comes in life when even the greatest of best intentions are not enough to help a friend. When that happens, there is only one thing to be done and that is to step back so that events could take their course. In this case, that was staying behind and allowing Yami to go forward unheeded. If they truly wanted to ensure Yugi's return, that was all that they could do.

As with anything that dealt with the humans beyond their relationship with Yugi, if Yami had known of their intentions he wouldn't have cared. He cared only for finding Yugi. There was no thought beyond this as he walked deeper into the lair of his enemy. He was continually attacked by more of the spells that guarded this place. Each time, his own merely batted the attacking spells out of his path. It would clearly give his position away to the enemy, which was the exact opposite of what he had intended when he had first been searching for an entrance to this place.

That had changed the more he sensed of Yugi's light magic. What he felt was strong and viable, almost to the same degree as when he was in the same chamber as his beloved. For Yami, that was too much of a temptation for a mind that was existing almost on instinct by this time. Whatever common sense or strategy that he might have had had long since flown out the window. Now that he was so close to being with Yugi again, all that mattered was getting to him and taking the little one safely within his embrace once more.

Forcing away yet another defense spell, a kind of webbing that would have disintegrated any other creature caught in its hold, Yami at last came to the end of the corridor. There was no door to bar his way as it had on the outside. This time, it was an open portal that appeared as if it had been left that way for him. Oddly, there were no spells surrounding this spot as there had been on the journey here. Such a thing could only mean that he was expected and that this was a trap waiting to be sprung.

Yami paid no heed to whatever might come as he boldly stepped through the doorway. He stood at the top of a long staircase that led to a vast chamber below. The chamber that greeted him was a dismal place that was covered in shadows that his crimson gaze easily pierced. Whatever this place had once been, it had been totally transformed since Miaka had taken up residence. That much Yami could tell right off.

It was a laboratory filled with potions and equipment that were similar to ones that he had seen in Bakura and Marik's palaces at one point. Even he had such a place in his palace where he sometimes experimented with new spells and powers to ensure that he would be able to use them. Those he could have understood, but this place gave no such aura. There was a taint about the vials and instruments that made even a dark spirit want to wretch. A sort of madness that clung to everything like a second skin. Only one thing in the entire chamber escaped that classification and that was what drew Yami's full attention.

Whatever light was in this place was focused upon a single location. Just as he had been to the wall, Yugi was chained to a tilted platform near what could have been the center of the chamber. Inserted into his harms, shoulders, and upper torso were wires that were connected to an odd machine with a large clear canister on top that sat a short distance away. It was obvious that the hikari was trying to break free from his bonds, but these were weak at best. Yugi was showing obvious signs of exhaustion, his body covered in bruises and cuts that hadn't had the chance to even begin healing over yet.

Crimson eyes turned to pure flame when Yami saw this. Seeing Yugi like this was more than he could bear. Everything within him demanded that he go to the other immediately and take him away from this nightmare. Fear and rage reached a new level in him as he leaped from the doorway and down to the floor at the bottom of the stairs. He landed hard, never missing a step as he charged forward to come to his hikari's aid.

"Yugi!" Yami cried.

The instant the word left his mouth, the hikari wearily lifted his head to meet who was calling him. Eyes that had long since lost their sparkle immediately began to show signs of improvement the instant Yugi saw the dark spirit racing towards him. If he had been able to, he would have smiled in joy at seeing the other. The most he could offer was a feeble sigh of relief before he tried to speak himself.

"Y-yami," Yugi whispered.

"I'm here, little one. Just…," Yami began.

He was cut short as he bounced off an invisible barrier that was barely a few feet from where Yugi was chained. Yami fell back in shock upon the stone floor of the chamber. A little disoriented, he quickly rose to his feet again, hands out as he tried to make sense of what had happened. He was met with a solid wall that kept him from his goal. Behind the barrier, he could see as shock also fell over Yugi's face as tears filled his eyes at the realization of what had happened.

"Yugi!" Yami cried, pounding on the barrier as he futilely sent wave after wave of shadow magic to open a path.

"I wouldn't be wasting my energy like that if I were you. This is a special barrier I made just in case we had any uninvited guests," a voice said from the shadows.

Turning with a snarl, Yami growled," Show yourself, witch. You will not keep me from him."

"And who says that I'm going to give him back to you, yami?" Miaka asked, her voice seeming to float from every direction," I went to a lot of trouble to get this little wretch and I'm not going to just give him back. That would just be a waste of my time, you know."

"Give him back, NOW!" Yami ordered.

"Temper, temper. You yamis really do need to learn how to control yourselves better. It's a wonder that your stupid little hikaris can stand you at all. If they were smart, they'd drop you like a bad habit," she teased.

By now, Miaka had appeared within the barrier with Yugi. She wore the same sneer on her face that she had had earlier when taunting the hikari. He visibly shuddered at her presence, a fact that didn't escape the witch. Miaka openly smirked at him before turning her full attention back to Yami.

"Release my hikari now, witch. Your battle lies with me, not him," Yami demanded.

"And again, that would be a waste of my time. I have use for this whimpering little brat and I intend to go through with it. You're free to watch of course. I would find that quite amusing," Miaka said.

She turned away from Yami and headed towards the machine. When she waved her hand over the main console, the machine instantly leapt to life. It groaned and whined for a moment before heading into full function. The wires that connected it to Yugi began to glow a sickly yellow color that spread down the length of the wires. When the glow reached Yugi, he let out a piercing scream that echoed throughout the building. He began to struggle violently as the glow began to spread over him. Within seconds, the sickly glow was replaced by a white radiance that slowly began to filter from Yugi back to the machine.

The radiance ran from the machine into the large canister that sat on top. At first, nothing could be seen within the canister. Then, a sparkle could be seen near the opening at the bottom. As the seconds ticked by, the sparkle became more definite as it took on the white coloring of the radiance draining out of Yugi. A wide, evil grin spread over Miaka's face as she watched while horror overcame Yami was he watched Yugi continue to struggle in pain.

"NO! Yugi! What are you doing to him?!" Yami shrieked.

He once again began to throw shadow magic at the barrier as well as physically charging at it in an attempt to break through. The more he tried though, the more obvious that it became that Yami's struggles were in vain. As Miaka had said, she had designed this barrier for a special purpose. It fed upon shadow magic and the more that Yami cast upon it, the stronger the barrier became. Soon, while it would not drain all of Yami's power, it would take enough to weaken him. Which was exactly the moment that Miaka was waiting for as she continued to wait Yami struggle and scream to get to Yugi.

"Oh nothing too serious. I'm only draining away his power. Such a gift is wasted on a weak minded Hikari. I could easily put it to better use, so I'm just taking it. Of course, the process will probably kill the little wretch but that's no concern of mine," Miaka shrugged.

Hearing this, Yami went wild. He had become a wild animal now. Not only was he throwing every bit of shadow magic that he had at the barrier, but he was literally trying to claw his way through even as he threw himself against it. Yugi's creams goaded him on even further, making it impossible to concentrate on anything else. That was all the chance that Miaka needed.

"Then again, why bother with a hikari when I have a yami ripe for the picking instead? Yours power will be of far more use to me than his ever could," Miaka smirked.

She chanted, moving her hands in the necessary pattern to complete the spell. As she did, the wires that had been draining Yugi suddenly pulled themselves out of him. He let out a final scream before slumping heavily against the platform where he lay. Every part of him ached in ways that he didn't think was imaginable. It was unbearable to the point that Yugi nearly fell unconscious from shock. The only thing keeping him from into such an oblivion were Yami's enraged and pleading screams.

No longer bound to Yugi, Miaka instead directed the wires to a new target. She had no trouble creating openings through the barrier for the wires to pass through. These then shot into Yami's body, crashing into with incredible force. He was knocked by midstride, pain shooting through him as the vile things began to take root. For a moment, he struggled to free himself but it was of little use. Now that she had him, Miaka no longer had reason to keep up her barrier. Rather, she let this drop while she instead focused her attention on keeping Yami in place as the wires began to drain the shadow magic from the dark spirit.

From where he lay, Yugi could only watch as he his would be rescuer instead became the victim. It was heartbreaking in so many ways to see such a proud and mighty creature falling to such a fate. Agony spread not only through Yugi's heart but his soul as well. This was not how things were meant to be. He was so close, but all he could do was watch as Yami was destroyed in his place. There wasn't even the comfort of being able to help him across the length, to give him the strength and support he could use to fight this off.

{It can't end this way. It just can't. I want to help you, Yami, but you can't even hear me} Yugi sobbed, even though he knew it was impossible for the other to hear.

Little…one? Hi-hikari… Yami whispered.

It was strained, barely noticeable through the grief. Yet it was still there. Somehow, in that moment of grief, their bond had managed to reach one another. There were nowhere near the strength that they had used in the past but that didn't matter. To Yugi, that was the spark of hope that he needed right now. It meant that they were still connected. Somehow, they could still fight. They couldn't give up. Not yet, not when it meant that they could lose each other.

"No, no. NO!" Yugi screamed.

Every fiber within his small being reacted on a combination of pure instinct, adrenaline, and fear. There was no way in all the realms that he would ever allow the fate that Miaka planned to befall his beloved Yami. What had happened between them before didn't matter anymore. It was petty and stupid. What mattered now was the life of the one who he loved more than his own existence. Even if it cost him everything he had, Yugi knew that he would give it without question if it would save Yami.

Power that he had thought drained by Miaka's spells rushed to the surface in an incalculable rush. It was like being caught in a tidal wave yet being able to direct what path it took. As more and more power began to flow through him, Yugi truly revealed that he was indeed a light spirit. It took on an ethereal glow that made him appear as a ghostly creature that was composed entirely of energy.

The chains that had held him in place strained under the pressure that was now placed upon them. It was obvious that the spells that Miaka had placed upon them were fighting to stay in place. They shuddered and quaked, as if struggling to just stay alive. In this battle of wills however, Yugi would prove to be the stronger. Regardless of the pain, he allowed his power to push itself out even further. That was the breaking point as the chains suddenly burst under the assault that the light had placed upon them.

No longer held up by the chains, Yugi briefly stumbled from the lack of support. He fell to his knees, using his hand to keep himself from falling completely. If he had any other choice, he would have allowed himself to just fall upon the stone floor. It sent chills deep into his bones just to have it touching his bare flesh but that wouldn't have mattered. The strain that he had just faced was taking its toll on his body and he was steadily feeling the effects even now.

Heart and soul screamed against such an action though. The power that he had gathered within him would not be ignored now. Its other half was in danger and for once, the darkness needed protection that only the light could give. As unsteady as he was, Yugi forced himself to his feet. Still struggling to hold himself up even then, he forced back the pain and instead focused his attention on Miaka.

For the time being, the witch had been ignoring him. Instead she had focused her attention on keeping Yami bound. Even if she had managed to catch him, that didn't mean he was going to take such treatment lying down. His own powers were still trying to fight against Miaka's spells even as he was steadily being drained of shadow magic. As such, she literally didn't know what hit her until it was too late.

Yugi gave no warning as he unleashed a full blast of light magic upon the witch. Such a thing might have given her a chance to counterattack. While a hikari might strive for balance, there are times when even they will act in desperation. For Yugi, there was no question that this was one of those times. He poured everything that he had into that blast. The force knocked Miaka cleaned across the room, sending her nearly through the opposite wall itself as she was knocked away from Yami.

Without Miaka to control it, the machine ceased its draining of Yami. For the moment, the wires still remained in place. Thankfully, no lasting damage had been done to him from the draining process. He would be weak for a time but eventually the dark spirit would recover.

It was done. With that final surge of power, Yugi had done it. By breaking free from Miaka's spell, he had prevented her from trying to sap Yami's powers as she had planned do to him. Though he was in great pain and felt as if his mind were about to split apart, to Yugi it didn't matter. So long as Yami was okay, that was enough for him. He could live with whatever happened after. With those thoughts in mind, he slumped forward and gave into the darkness yet again. Within seconds he fell into blissful semi-consciousness as he landed on the cold floor below.

For Yami, seeing Yugi fall seemed to happen in slow motion. He tried to rush forward to catch his beloved but was unable to at first due his still weakened state and the wires that were still connected with his body. Yami could only watch Yugi landed with a dull thud onto the cold stone floor. Dust flew into the air from where he had landed and that was the only reaction surrounding the hikari. Beyond that, he lay completely motionless and still. The implication of which would not have settled well even in more moderate situations.

"YUGI!" Yami screeched.

He forced himself to move despite the numbness that still lingered in his limbs from the binding spell. Yami even ignored the pain of the wires as they were pulled from his body as he moved forward. Scrambling across the floor, Yami moved to the hikari's side within an instant. Shaking hands frantically gripped at the tattered clothes that Yugi wore as he tried to turn the smaller over to face him. The sight that met him was one that sent his heart reeling. Once vibrant amethyst orbs were now dull and almost lifeless as Yugi stared out through partial closed eyes. His skin was deathly pale, making him seem almost similar to a human corpse than the light spirit that he actually was. Bruises littered his body where he had been roughly handled by Miaka and her servants. Dried blood still flaked off his cut and torn wrists from where he had tried to fight the chains that had held him only seconds before.

In all, it was a sight that would haunt Yami for the rest of eternity. This was not how things were supposed to be. Hikaris were creatures of light and happiness. Their eyes were meant to be filled with the simple of joy of just being alive, the admiration and love that they felt for their darker halves. They were never meant to know the least bit of pain or suffering. Such a thing was just incomprehensible.

Clutching the prone figure to him, Yami sobbed," Yugi! My Yugi! Please, little one, speak to me. Please!"

His pleas were enough to break even the stone heart of Kaiba Seto had he been present to witness such a thing. As such, the only witness to this was the one who had brought about such a tragedy and sympathy was the last thing on her mind. Miaka was watching the scene with growing interest. She had been thrown back by Yugi's final outburst, left stunned for several seconds while light and dark were finally reunited. What she had witnessed was beyond her wildest expectations of what Yugi was capable of. If that was his true power, then she had indeed chosen well when she had captured him. Now all that remained was to harness that power before he could try a second time.

"So the little beast has some sharp claws after all. I never dreamed he held such power," Miaka panted as she staggered to her feet.

Her poorly chosen words and timing snapped Yami out of the panic that he felt as he tried to rouse some kind of response from Yugi. An almost guttural sound escaped his throat as he spared the witch a halfway glance. Instinctively, he pulled Yugi closer to his own body as he sought to shelter the other from Miaka's prying gaze. Crimson eyes went to mere slits as he took in the hungry gaze that she dared to look upon his hikari with.

"His power is no concern of yours," Yami hissed," He is mine."

"For the moment, maybe. But I don't think you're strong enough to handle me, dark one. Not if it took your precious little light to save you from my spells," Miaka sneered.

Yami growled at that accusation. He didn't like to admit it, but it was true that he had been caught off guard. The dark spirit had been so focused on getting to Yugi that he had let his defenses down for the briefest instant. That had been all Miaka's spells needed to get passed his own magic and take control. It was a mistake that surely would have cost them all had Yugi not found the final bit of strength to save his lover.

"Well, we'll soon see how much you both can take. It would be a waste not to examine such power before adding it to my own," Miaka said.

"You will not touch what is mine again, witch!" Yami bellowed.

"How can he possibly be considered yours when you obviously took such poor measures to ensure his safety? If you really cared about him, you would have kept him under lock and key like the other yamis. At least they had brains enough to set traps while you just left your hikari alone and defenseless," Miaka sneered.

That was the last straw. Something deep within the dark spirit snapped completely. Sanity no longer held a place in the once keen mind of Yami after hearing that. Now all that remained was the instinct to protect his hikari at any cost. If anything got in his way, then he would destroy it without remorse. And at the moment, that happened to be the Sorceress Miaka.

A familiar symbol began to glow upon his forehead, taking the shape of a blazing golden eye. It shone fiercely, pulsing as it had done so many times before in the past as Yami called upon some of his deepest powers. It was not often that he called upon this ability outside of his own realm. There was no need to as the enemies who warranted such an action had grown few and far between through the long eons. Now though, Yami would not hesitate as he turned his gaze upon Miaka.

Shadow magic pulsing through him with such intensity that the energy practically crackled from deep within his body, almost forming a second skin. Gathering the power to its fullest, Yami pointed towards the witch. The gesture was unnecessary as it had no affect whatsoever on the powers that Yami was calling upon. He could act simply by looking at Miaka. The sole reason he acted thus was to let her know that she was his only target from this moment on. There was nothing that would save her from her fate, as he was about to personally ensure.

Too late did Miaka realize the folly of her bold words and overconfidence as Yami began to focus his powers upon her. She had been relishing in the fact that she had found a way to overcome what was supposedly one of the strongest forces in all the realms. A feat which had never before been accomplished by anyone else. That and the thought of the power that she could gain from this had left her gloating in what she would soon do. That was one of the mistakes that would now cost her more dearly than she could have ever imagined.

"MIND CRUSH!!"Yami screeched.

No words could possibly ever describe the pain and anguish that Miaka felt in those first few seconds. Needless to say it was a sight that no mortal creature could have watched and left with their sanity intact. She raised her head, mouth open in a silent scream as the dark powers released upon her by Yami began to take their full effect. Miaka could literally feel as her soul was being eaten away, torn from its physical shell and taken to a realm from which it would never return. Within seconds, her eyes were more dull and empty than Yugi's as her body slumped lifelessly to the floor. A sure sign if any that her soul was gone and that that was truly the end of things.

Never again would Miaka, Witch of the Abyss, rise to attack another. For eternity, her soul had been banished to the bowels of the Shadow Realm where it would rot away as the shadows endlessly fed upon it. What tortures her soul would face as this came about, no one could truly say. All that is certain is that it was an ending that the Fates had decreed long ago if this was the path that Miaka chose. For by attempting to go against the natural order of the realms and destroying what was meant to keep balance, it was inevitable that this is the outcome that Miaka would face.

For others though, that was a concern that no longer mattered. Yami had dealt out the final punishment, thus ensuring that Yugi would never again face such a foe again. Now all that mattered was the one before him. A single, almost strangled cry of despaired joy escaped Yami as he once again gathered his limp hikari into his arms and held him close. He buried his face deep into the tangled mass of Yugi's hair, deeply breathing in the scent of the little one. That alone sent his heightening senses into overdrive. It was all that he could do to keep a grip on himself and not start to ravish his injured hikari on the spot. But he held himself in check, instead satisfying himself with knowing that his beloved was safely back in his arms where he belonged.

Yugi knew instinctively not to try and squirm free of his counterpart's tight embrace. If he tried, then Yami would only hug him tighter and thus restrict his movement even further. Instead, it was better to just remain as he was, allowing Yami to hold him for as long as he felt necessary. Not that Yugi really would have complained even if he were uncomfortable in their present position.

In his present condition, he was really too weak to do much of anything mental or physical. The best that he could manage mental whimper that even Yami could barely hear. And even that took such a great deal of energy that it almost brought Yugi to the brink of unconsciousness. But it was enough to let his darkness know that he was still alive and that he was needed.

{Don't leave me} Yugi whimpered weakly.

Yami held him more tightly at these words, if that was even possible. A myriad of emotions was battling within him when he heard those words. Part of him was relieved beyond belief that his hikari was still somewhat conscious and aware of Yami's presence, while another was outraged that he had been left in such a weakened state. How could anyone ever be so heartless as to treat someone as innocent as Yugi as if they were no more than a plaything to be torn apart and tossed aside?

It was more than enough that it made Yami wish that he had not already shattered that worthless bitch Miaka's soul. If he hadn't, then he would have the chance torture her as she deserved. For every mark that she had put on his hikari, he would triple them and the pain that had followed. He wanted her to suffer so much more for what she had done to his hikari.

What he desired was impossible though. Once a yami banished someone to the Shadows, there was no hope of reversing the effects. The being was permanently sealed away into the bowels of the Shadow Realm and there was nothing that could ever release them, even one who was native to the Realm to begin with. So the best that Yami would have to satisfy himself with knowing that Miaka would spend the rest of eternity drifting through the darkness having her soul continually torn apart. She would never again be free to terrorize any other innocent hikari as she had done to his Yugi.

Miaka didn't matter anymore though. With her banishment, she would soon become a bad memory that everyone involved would try to forget. That was perhaps for the best. For the crime she had attempted to commit was not one that could be so easily forgiven even if there were those that felt pity for her fate. What mattered now was Yugi. The little one was shivering fiercely even within the warmth and protection of Yami's embrace.

Never, little hikari. I'm never letting you out of my sight again Yami swore fiercely.

There was no further response from Yugi. His mind remained quiet and unresponsive as it already sought to repair the damage that had been done it by the recent memories of pain and torture. Yami expected this however, as he could already sense as the damage was being repaired. He even tried to help in his own way by lending what energy he could to his lover's dwindling powers. As drained as Yami was right now, it was not much but it would help speed the process nonetheless. And for him, anything that helped his light to heal mattered more than his own wellbeing at this point.

A/N: There is it, folks. Yugi's saved, Yami got his hikari back, the psycho lady is gone forever, and all is right with the world. That's not the end though. I have a few more chapters planned to wrap things up. So be ready for more updates in the coming months. Later.