A livejournal meme I took from rayemars:

I've always been fond of the five things concept, but it's occurred to me lately that not everyone who runs outside of Buffy and other western hemisphere pop fandom circles knows of it. Basically, therefore, it consists of writing five scenes that are a departure from canon, either drastically or more subtly. They can be interconnected, or they can not be. The whole point is just to come up with five separate possibilities.

My IV is similar to rayemars's III, but only in certain ways.

At least two of these end in death. That's all the warning you get.


I. Family

Two boys wait in an orphanage. They refuse to be separated; they develop an unhealthy dependence on each other.

An older man waits in a hospital. He refuses to go home; he will not leave until assured of his son's health or death.

The two boys watch potential parents come and go. Even if they like the older boy, none are willing to take on two children. They find other orphans to take home.

The man watches nurses and doctors walking about. Even if they did have news for him, few would be willing to approach a man as intimidating as he is. They find other things to do.

The boys wait, and nobody comes for them.

The man waits, until a calm doctor approaches him. The man's expression is neutral, but when he stops in front of Gozaburo, he smiles. "Mr. Kaiba?" he asks. "Noa's going to be fine."

The boys are going to be waiting a long time.


II. Petite Soeur

When Amane was five years old, her mother and older brother died in a fire in their apartment building.

Truthfully, Ryoh was only ten minutes older. Hardly deserving of being called older, but he always was quick to point out his seniority whenever the chance arose.

The twins hadn't ever been apart more than a few hours. And at such an age, how was Amane expected to understand a concept such as death? Even as she grew older, she had a different understanding of death than that most of her peers. She had grown up with the idea that Ryoh had merely gone away; this idea had settled in over the years and despite when she was told otherwise, her perception of death refused to alter.

When she started talking to Ryoh a month after he'd died – speaking out loud and saying "big brother," though she might have been alone in the room – her father did his best to handle it. It wasn't uncommon for children to develop imaginary friends at such an age. He tried to tell her that Ryoh was gone and that her friend couldn't be Ryoh, but she merely asked who else it could have been, then, when her friend had the same white hair and green eyes and insisted that he was older than her whenever he could? It was Ryoh. Her father gave up and left her to her own devices, figuring that she would realize eventually.

When she learned to write, and her teacher told the class they had to keep diaries or write letters, Amane addressed hers to Ryoh every time. Each journal entry began, "Dear Ryoh," each letter, "Dear Big Brother." It became so ingrained that she was still keeping a diary addressed to him when she was thirteen and had long ceased to speak aloud to him.

Her father, by that point, had been able to keep his former son from his mind. He didn't see the diary entries, and she was no longer talking to an imaginary friend, and so he could avoid thinking about the other half of his family. Of course, something so stable doesn't last long, and when Amane had to get up to answer the phone in the middle of writing a journal entry, the open book was easy to read. The "Dear Ryoh," at the top of the page was the first thing he saw.

That was their first, and last, real argument, the first time Amane really revealed that indeed, she was a thirteen-year-old teenager and starting to pull away from her parent. She screamed just as much as he did, and their neighbors complained to the landlord soon after.

Her father always had been more passive aggressive than anything else, and so there were no more loud arguments. Rather, the two began to avoid each other, a solution that Amane found no problem with. Perhaps it helped motivate her father to accept a job he'd been offered, a job that involved a great deal of traveling.

Absence did indeed make the heart grow fonder, and Amane and her father got along the best when they weren't living together. In fact, they were almost fond of each other when one was in another country. Her father began buying her souvenirs from every new place he visited, getting extras on her birthday.

When she was sixteen, he sent her a necklace he'd found in Egypt. It wasn't her taste – it was too big, too garish, and she absolutely preferred silver jewelry. However, she wore it a day after it had arrived in the mail, so that she could tell him she'd worn it and not be lying. It wasn't really his fault he didn't realize the thing was horrid – he wasn't around to see the types of jewelry she did wear.

As she slipped the metal circle beneath her uniform top, there was a flash of light. It was painfully blinding, and she stood rubbing her eyes and cursing like a trucker for at least half a minute before wiping the half-tears away and looking up.

The boy was transparent and sitting on her bed, and his eyes weren't green, and his skin was too dark. But it had been a while, and she didn't remember as well as she could have, and he looked very lost.

"Ryoh?" she asked. He stared at her, wide eyes with bright red irises. "Big brother?" she tried again.

Her subconscious knew the answer, but she ignored it. She was lonely at school, and much as she would claim to love the fact that her father was gone, she was lonely at home too.

It took him a long time, but eventually he nodded. "Yeah. It's me."


III. Bluff

Yuugi knew his other half perhaps better than he knew himself. It was, after all, far easier to analyze someone besides oneself; analyzing oneself involved admitting one's faults. So Yuugi knew the Pharaoh completely; he knew his other's feelings and could, often, predict the spirit's actions before they happened.

'He won't die,' Yuugi's other assured him. 'That sort of thing is a bluff – you know they wouldn't risk something like that. They're desperate. It's their last gamble.' Their conversation was thoughts, shared instantly, imperceptible in the real world.

Outside, Bakura gripped his arm and watched them. His eyes were fogged, and though the blood was dripping, there was no recognition of the pain. He didn't know where he was, nor what was going on. He hadn't known for months.

Yuugi knew everything about his other half. When they talked, the transference of thoughts was so thorough a communication that he sometimes found that speaking aloud to others was difficult and incomplete. It was, therefore, painfully obvious when his other was lying.

"Osiris!" Yami Yuugi called.

Yuugi didn't hear the order to attack because he didn't want to face the truth. Bakura didn't hear the order because he couldn't anymore.

Yami Bakura heard the order, but too late. Malik heard the order, but didn't care too much.

It was probably a mercy killing.


IV. Inbreeding

When Malik was born, it took all the medical skills Isis had learned from her mother -- incomplete skills, since the two of them had counted on having more time to teach the daughter -- to keep the boy from dying. He'd been born small and prematurely, not to mention obviously malformed, because it was apparent even on his little body that his torso was too long and his left foot was crooked. Despite being so tiny he had taken everything his mother had to give, and so Isis was forced to preserve his life on her own. Father Ishtar screamed and raved, calling Isis incompetent, and took his frustrations out on the wall instead of Rishid. The boy suspected it was because the man expected his true son to die and didn't want to incapacitate the spare.

Malik did survive, however, perhaps because even as an infant he had his defiance and strong will, or perhaps because somewhere on the other side of the Earth Yuugi was alive. However, as he grew older he grew no stronger, and as a toddler his limbs were tiny and his ribs visible no matter how much his family fed him. Often their father forced the boy to eat more than he could take, and then later Malik would upchuck the lot and be worse off than before. Isis still took care of him as well as she could, but now a small part of her regretted not killing him on purpose when he'd been born. Now that he was older, toddling about and beginning to speak and be feebly adorable, the rest of the family loved him, and if he died now the loss would hurt much more than it would have before.

Rishid wanted to hate the boy, but couldn't bring himself to feel anything but pity for their father's true son. Malik's death would have hurt even his older brother.

As he grew even older, more problems became obvious. His left foot caused him to limp, and he complained (though never to his father) that it often hurt to walk. His legs were short on account of his torso being longer than it should have, and he had to walk faster than the others to keep up with them, thus hurting his foot even more. Rishid began to give him piggyback rides when their father wasn't around to see. He never confessed to Isis if he felt anything more than pity for the younger boy, though, and because he kept his face blank she never knew.

Though the boy was so weak physically, his willpower (more often than not labeled stubbornness) and strength of mind were far stronger than a young child usually had. The trait was probably one gotten not from his father, who wasn't willful but merely insane, but from his mother. In addition to being defiant and strong willed, he was sincerely sweet to Isis, Rishid, and even their father when the man wasn't screaming. When this happened the older man would stare at his son, and the surprise and affection he felt could bring him close to tears, though all he could do was stare with a shocked face.

When Malik turned ten, his father went on with the ceremony. Isis prayed for Malik's strong will to get him through it, since she had doubts about how much his little body could take. Rishid kept his face blank.

The day after performing Malik's funeral rites, Rishid and Isis ran away with the Tauk and Rod.


V. Friendship

The reason that Yuugi had always immersed himself in games was that he lacked any friends, save Anzu. She was nice, and as good a friend anybody could ask for – she put up with his perverse grandfather, she tried to play some of the games, although strategy never interested her, and she rarely made fun of his height. Believe it or not, however, Anzu had other friends and wasn't able to spend every waking moment with Yuugi. Besides that, there was dance practice and her secret part-time job.

The point is, however, that if he'd had more friends, Yuugi would have played fewer games and not gotten so worked up over that silly puzzle.

The puzzle had been a gift from his grandfather. At age eight, Yuugi had been unable to solve it, and so he'd put it aside and gone to play Magic: The Gathering with his grandpa some more. Out of sight, out of mind, and so the puzzle had stayed hidden and forgotten in its box beneath Yuugi's bed for years before he found it again. This time, however, sixteen-year-old Yuugi had been intrigued when he couldn't immediately put it together. For at least a week, it was all he could think about, even when Anzu took him out for burgers. He had dreams about it, and upon waking, regretted the fact that he hadn't yet been able to put all the pieces together. It had immediately become an obsession.

It was incredible fortune, Anzu thought, that Yuugi met Jounouchi when he did.

The blond, Jounouchi, attended a private school, and had Yuugi been paying attention to where he was walking he wouldn't have run into the other boy, and then they never would have met. As it was, Yuugi was so absorbed in thinking about the puzzle, which was sitting on his bed at home at the moment, that he walked smack into Jounouchi and fell back on his ass.

"Are you alright?" Yuugi looked up, and stared.

A brief description of Jounouchi would help the viewer understand exactly why Yuugi stared. Jounouchi was tall, with golden hair that was, shockingly, natural. His voice was refined, no words slurred, the result of years at elite private schools, and he was always smiling, even after being run into by a kamikaze midget (Yuugi). His uniform was crisp, unwrinkled, and bright black with absolutely no little hairs or other marks on the dark material. He was friendly and gregarious, and best of all, though it wouldn't be discovered until later, loved Magic: The Gathering. (He played a red deck with no less than four Fireballs and Disintegrates, and kicked Yuugi's poor ass the first time the two played.)

In any case, the blond helped the stunned midget back up to his feet, and the two got to talking, Yuugi being understandably shy and intimidated, though Jounouchi quickly charmed him into relaxation, and before Yuugi knew it, he had been talked right out of thinking about the puzzle.

That night, he shoved the half-completed hunk of gold back beneath his bed to retrieve his boxes of Magic cards and rebuild his deck.


Meanwhile, Ryoh stared at the gift his dad had just given him, and wondered what the Hell the man was smoking to give Ryoh a bling-bling for his birthday. He put the thing on out of courtesy anyway.