Disclaimer for whole story: I don't own Yugi or any of the characters. I'm just borrowing them for my story :-)
I am sorry it took me so long to complete this but I was having a rather hard time with this story. Thank you standing by me and for all of your reviews. I really hope you like my story and this makes up for the long wait.
AN:Thank you so much 'Yugiknowitall' for naming my story. You also, in fact, gave me the idea on how to finally finish my story.
Thank you :)
From Shadow to Light
Love at first sight?
The sun was just beginning to come over the horizon. Its light shining into a large room through an open balcony window. The rays shimming against the golden trim surrounding crimson colored walls and the small specks of gold in the dark carpet that was made from the softest furs that made it feel like you were walking on a cloud.
A lump on the bed groaned when the sunlight hit his closed eyes. He reached out, pulling the covers over his head to block out the annoying rays. The figure lay there for a few more minutes grumbling about having to get up at such an ungodly hour. He sighed as he rolled over and slid out of his warm bed.
A tall, lean man emerged with multicolored hair and narrowed crimson eyes. His hair was black except for the crimson tips, and if that were not strange enough, he had blond streaks running through his hair, oddly resembling lightning bolts.
The man with the unusual appearance was well known throughout all the lands. He was the Pharaoh of Egypt, the Son of Ra.
He was a cruel Pharaoh, who cared little for his people, since he knew they cared little for him. He taxed them till they were almost starving, having to beg or steal for their meager food. Those that couldn't pay, were forced into slavery to work off their debts or thrown into the dungeons for the rest of their miserable lives.
'And why should I care about them,' The male thought angrily as he summoned his slave to get him dressed and ready for the mornings meetings, 'I am only sought when they are in need of something, or to see how much they can get from me. That's all I'm good for to them.'
'Even when I was only a child they wanted nothing to do with me.' That last thought put the Pharaoh in a sad and depressed mood. He had no friends as a child, had no need for one. They only used him time and time again until he eventually hardened his heart, no longer able to stand the pain of rejection, the pain of being used.
Hating the feelings that emerged when he thought of his childhood, he turned them all to anger, a feeling he knew very well how to handle. Unfortunately that just shortened his already infamous short temper. So when his slave moved too slowly, in his opinion, to get him ready he just snapped and started beating his personal slave for no reason other than he was the Son of Ra and could do anything he pleased. No one would dare question him.
"You worthless piece of filth," he yelled as he continued beating the slave that was now on the ground,"when your Pharaoh tell's you to do something, you do it NOW, not when you feel like it!"
"I'm sorry Milord," the slave whimpered curling up tightly, "It will never happen again."
Ignoring the slaves plea, he continued to punish the poor boy until he was finally unconscious. He called for his guards and had him immediately sent to the dungeons to await further punishment when he awakens.
'Oh well,' he thought now calmed down since he was able to release some of his anger, 'Well I guess that means its time for me to get another slave. Hopefully the next one will be more fun.'
He finished getting ready and made his way to the throne room for the morning council meetings. He hated those meetings. He wanted some fun and excitement in his life not sit in boring meeting day after day.
Although he was constantly surrounded by people, he felt completely alone. There was not one person, except Seto, that he was close to. His council was only with him because of his power as Pharaoh. It was power that they craved and tried to use it to their advantage by persuading the Pharaoh to abide by their wishes.
The guards followed him around everywhere but it was only because it was their job to protect him, that's what they got paid for. They could care less about him as a person, once again they were using his power as Pharaoh, not because they actually cared about him.
Their was only one person that Yami thought of as friend, almost brother even, and that was Seto. His sorcerer and most trusted advisor. The two had grown up together, the best of friends. Seto was the only person who was not using Yami for his own personal gain. Seto didn't care about his power or his position, Seto only cared about Yami. And when Yami's parents died, it was only Seto who comforted the young boy.
As he walked down the hall, Yami quickly composed himself, masking his true emotions.
'Lowlife scum,' Yami thought as he watched the servants and slaves scatter to get out of his way, 'If they were not so useful, I'd murder the lot of them.'
Those that were not fast enough, quickly kneeled down, foreheads pressed against the cold, hard stone. No one was allowed to look at the Son of Ra unless, he himself, gave permission and there was very few that were allowed that privilege.
Yami quickly pushed his thought aside as he approached the throne room. Taking a deep breath, Yami opened the door, the room falling silent. Without a word, Yami entered and took his seat beside Seto.
As soon as Yami was seated, Seto turned to him, "I hear you'll be needing another slave."
"Yes, I'll go into the market place and find myself a new one," Pharaoh replied, "I was getting bored with that slave anyway. Maybe the next one will be more entertaining."
Seto shook his head at his friends answer, knowing that's not really what the Pharaoh meant, before turning his attention back to the council.
"Your Highness, we have slaves making more blocks to finish with the repairs on the palace wall, but those good for nothing slaves are lazy and work too slow." one commented.
"And also," another butted in, "The Tomb robber is still on the loose, he slipped past your guards again and disappeared."
Pharaoh growled at this and the council knew that those guards were in serious trouble. His anger toward the Tomb robber was well known, except none of them knew exactly why or how it had started.
Pharaoh had ended the meeting early telling the council that he was in need of a new slave and that he would personally go supervise the work on the blocks the slaves were making.
As he was getting ready to leave Pharaoh turned toward Seto. "You want to come with?" He asked, but already knowing what the answer will be.
"Of course Yami," Seto replied, the only person allowed to call the Pharaoh by his real name, "You know me I'm always ready."
The two of them donned their capes to cover up their royal clothing and made their way through the busy marketplace to search for a new slave.
Meanwhile in another part of the city, while the young Pharaoh woke in a large bed of silk, a young boy sleeping on a pile of rags was awakened by a whip hitting him on his already bleeding back. The young boy immediately woke up and kneels at the Overseers feet trying to hold back the whimpers that threatened to escape from the beating. His body started shivering in anticipation of what punishment he would receive.
'Oh, Ra,' the young boy thought, starting to panic, 'I must've overslept.'
The older male smiled sadistically at the shivering form on the ground. He whipped the boys unclothed back once more before bellowing at the cowering child, "That was not fast enough. When I walk into the room, I expect you to be on your knees within seconds."
The furious man continued to pulverize the small boy, hoping to get him to cry out, but the boy kept quiet and didn't make a sound. He just continued to keep his head down, keeping silent. After a few more strikes, the older male lifted the boy up by his hair and dragged him to his feet. The boy only looked to the ground. He knew the punishment for looking the overseer in the eyes and it was worse than just a few whippings.
"Now get your worthless hide out there and get to work."
The boy nodded fearfully, struggling to stand up. He bowed once more to the Overseer before he limped as fast as he could outside. As soon as he stepped outside, the boy was momentarily blinded by the bright sunlight. As he stopped to rub his eyes, the boy was immediately whipped by the Head Guard.
"Get to work NOW!" The male screamed at the boy, shoving him to the ground.
Quickly pushing himself up, the young boy nodded to the guard. He grabbed his small pail and immediately ran over to join the other slaves in the hot and scalding sand.
Since the slaves were not allowed to use shovels, they had to use their hands to scoop up the sand. Filling the molds and packing it down until it formed into solid blocks. Then the slaves had to carry the extremely heavy molds to stack along the carts waiting to take them to the palace. All the slaves were either making the bricks to work on Pharaoh's palace or they were at the palace patching up the broken wall.
It was very hard work and many slaves died. They had to survive the burning sun with little to no water, they were practically starved and very weak. So it didn't take them long to perish under these horrendous conditions.
The Pharaoh couldn't care less about how many slaves it took, he never seemed to have trouble finding replacements for them. On a good day, according to his master, they would lose only four or five a shift. To the slaves, just one was too many. They feared everyday that they would fall, trip or give their master any reason at all to punish them. The overseers enjoyed coming up with new and creative ways of punishing them, each trying to outdo the other in cruelness.
'What did I do to deserve this?' the young boy thought as he struggled to carry the brick to the cart, 'was I such a terrible child that my own mother didn't want me anymore?'
Tears came to his eyes as he thought about his mother. He didn't have many memories of her and the ones he did remember were all very faint. He did however, remember the day she gave him to his first master. Many of the other slaves thought he was born into slavery, instead, his own mother sold him. Just so she could have money to get more alcohol. That's all she cared about, not her two year old child who was only looking for just the slightest bit of affection.
As the sun rose higher into the sky and the day started getting hotter, the boy stumbled a few times before finally falling to the ground. He put his arms out to brace himself for the hard impact. He realized his mistake too late, however, when his bucket hit the ground causing the not yet hardened brick to crack and break apart.
'Oh, No.' the boy frantically grabbed the pail and quickly tried to re-pack the sand back into the mold. Unfortunately, he was not fast enough.
The nearby Overseer had seen him fall and ran over to investigate. He pulled his whip from his belt and snapped it on the ground right in front of the boys face. Grinning sadistically as the boy winced in fear.
"Resting on the job?" asked the guard maliciously, "I could have you punished for that."
The tall males grin widened when he saw the boy shaking, cowering before him. He grabbed the boy roughly by his arm and pulled him to his feet. Deciding on the proper punishment, the guard tightened his grip on the frail arm and dragged the younger to his tent.
'Please, no.' although the child wanted to pull his arm back and get away, he knew he couldn't. So he did the only thing that he could. The boy just shut his eyes and willed his mind away to a safer place.
"Now get back to work!" Yelled the guard as he threw the boy out of his tent, bringing him back to the present. "You know what happens when you can no longer work?"
The young boy nodded his head frantically. He already knew the answer to that question and was in no hurry to experience it himself. So, as quickly as his injured body would allow, he got off the ground and limped painfully to where he had left his bucket.
The other slaves looked at him sympathetically but knew better than to interfere or help in anyway. Their Master and the overseers were quick to separate people who became too close for fear of an uprising, but there were some that ignored that rule but were very careful not to get caught.
Even though, the boy himself even knew of a few who chose to ignore the rules, he wasn't about to join them. And even if, among all the slaves, there were three of them that he could almost call 'brother', he was still too scared to get too close to anyone. Getting close to others, meant getting hurt and he knew better than that.
Pharaoh and Seto had been riding the entire morning, searching every single market place for a new slave. But so far, they had seen the same thing in every village. Slaves that, from a distance, all looked exactly the same. Yami didn't want just another slave, he wanted something more. He wanted one person who wasn't afraid of him. One person who he could talk openly to.
'Besides Seto of course.' Yami's mind was quick to supply. Glancing over to his long time friend, Yami was well aware that Seto knew the real reason behind his search and he was grateful that his friend did not chose to bring it up.
"Yami, don't give up," Seto said encouragingly, "I'm sure you'll find them someday."
Seto was the only one to see the other side of the Pharaoh. The side that just wanted to have fun, to laugh. Someone who doesn't care about his title, just him. A person to love him and who he could love unconditionally. His friend had a big heart, but after getting hurt too many times, he put up a cold and uncaring exterior. A mask, to hide his true self.
Yami sighed disheartened, he was just about to reply to his friend when he realized they were passing the sight the bricks for the castle were being made. Raising his hand to stop the procession, Yami swiftly dismounted from his horse.
As Yami strode down the dusty streets, he glanced at the slaves as he passed. He saw them struggling with the heavy bricks in the hot mid-day sun, some were limping badly, while others, were barely able to stand.
For the briefest of moments, Yami felt a sliver of sympathy for the filthy slaves, but quickly squashed that thought down. They were only useful as slaves, and besides that, they knew of nothing else. They had no other skills and he didn't have the time to think of jobs for them to do.
After only a few minutes of walking, Yami approached who he thought was owner of the slaves. The male was quite tall, with long straggly hair. He was currently beating some boy, even though the youth was clearly unconscious. After a few more kicks, he summoned his guards to drag the slave to the dungeons.
The tall male continued to yell out obscenities even after the youth was out of sight.
Yami was suddenly filled with repulsion by this filthy males actions, although he was not sure why. He himself, had done the exact same thing only this morning.
The other male, hearing Yami's approach, quickly turned around. And before the started male could attack, Yami immediately had the male pinned to the ground.
"Who are you and what the hell do you want?" the slave owner yelled as he struggled against the stronger male.
Getting off the smaller male, Yami pulled back his hood and smirked as the owner paled and hurriedly got to his knees.
He bowed his head and said immediately,"A thousand apologies Your Highness. I did not know it was you."
"I could easily have your head for that," Pharaoh stated as a matter of fact. His voice was so cold, the owner started shaking in fear, "This time I will let you off with a warning, but remember the next time I might not be so forgiving."
"Yes Your Highness," Omoto answered fearfully as he shakily got to his feet, "I can assure you it will never happen again."
"Now," Pharaoh said getting straight to the point, "I am in need of a new slave."
"I'm afraid that I don't have any slaves worthy of you, Your Highness, these slave are worthless." Omoto admitted.
"Of course there is no slave worthy of me." Pharaoh snapped back glaring at the revolting man before him, "But that is for me to decide. Not you."
"Of course, Your Highness." Omoto groveled as he led the Pharaoh to where the slaves were working. Glancing around himself, Omoto couldn't imagine one of his slaves being personally picked by the Pharaoh himself. But then he thought of his smallest slave. The youth had a striking resemblance to the Mighty Pharaoh, enough so that the Pharaoh might actually pick the boy and Omoto did not want to lose his favorite slave.
Omoto was about to steer his Lord away from where the younger was working, but his Pharaoh had other ideas.
"I am looking over here." commanded Yami. His voice alone leaving no room for argument.
"Yes, Your Highness," Omoto cowered before his angry Lord, "What ever you say."
Yami dismissed the other male as he studied the slaves as he passed.
'None of these will do.'
Yami was just about to admit defeat and return to his Palace, when he spotted a slave like no other. The child was a lot smaller than the other slaves, by at least a foot, if not more. But that was not the reason the Pharaoh stopped, in fact the reason behind his sudden halt was the boys appearance. He had never, in his life, seen or even heard of another that resembled him so closely. Their hairstyles were almost exactly the same. The only difference was the child's blond bangs framed his face more and gave him a more angelic, younger appearance.
Yami studied the boy as he worked in the hot blazing sun, struggling to carry his heavy load to the awaiting cart. The boy surprised him by actually making it to his destination, when the Pharaoh thought for sure the child would have collapsed in this oppressive heat.
After watching his newest slave head back to the sand pits, Yami glared over at the boy's former owner.
"That slave," Yami ordered pointing at the youth he'd been watching, "Bring him here."
Omoto cursed under his breath when he saw who the Pharaoh was referring to, but he knew better than to argue with his Lord.
'He does not want to part with this slave.' Yami thought, crossing his arms authoritatively. Patience running extremely thin, Yami glared at the Slave owner when it looked like he was about to protest. Daring the other to question him, NO ONE questioned Yami. His word was law.
Omoto gulped as he saw the look of murder in his Lord's eyes. No slave was worth the punishment he would receive for disobeying his Pharaoh. So, fearing for his own miserable life, he immediately called to the nearest guard.
"Pharaoh wants the little runt." Omoto pointed to the youth in question, who was currently staggering back over toward the sand pits.
As the Guard walked away to carry out his duty, Omoto turned to his Pharaoh intent on convincing his Lord to pick another slave.
"Milord, you don't want this worthless slave, I have others who are more suited to one of your position, My Liege." Omoto groveled before his Lord.
"You dare to question me?" Yami narrowed his eyes threateningly.
"No Milord," stammered Omoto, trembling on the ground in fear for his life, "Never Milord."
"I did not think so." Yami declared watching the guard fetch his newest plaything.
The Guard headed to where his boss had indicated. He stopped right in front of the small youth and, without making a single sound, brought his whip down harshly upon the boys unprotected back. He watched in satisfaction as the boy stumbled before collapsing to the ground.
'What did I do?' was the thought running continuously through the boys mind as the Overseer grabbed him by his neck and lifted him to his feet. Then not even giving him a chance to recover, the guard practically dragged the boy behind him as he stormed back to his Boss.
The small boy stumbled as he tried to keep up with the guards larger strides, but it was impossible for his smaller legs to move that fast, leaving the guard no choice but to drag the youth behind him.
After walking for ,what felt like miles to the younger, the Guard suddenly stopped dropping the boy in a heap on the hot sand. The smaller boy heard the guard mumble something, but he was unable to understand what was said. No sooner had the boy landed, he was violently kicked in his side causing him to curl into a ball.
"Here's the runt," the Guard sneered glaring at the trembling form, "Don't understand why you want him though."
"That is not for you to understand." Yami informed the guard.
"I apologize, Milord." The guard bowed to the Pharaoh before returning to his assigned post.
"Well, here is the slave you requested." Omoto tried once more to change his Lords mind, "Are you sure I cannot show you the higher quality slaves, Milord. One more worthy of someone of your stature."
Yami glared at the sniveling male furious that his order was being questioned.
Fearful for his own life, Omoto quickly turned his attention on the small slave. He kicked the youth harshly in his already abused side, smiling in satisfaction as the boy wrapped his arms more securely around his injured mid section.
"Kneel before your new Master, you pathetic little runt."
'New Master?' was the thought running through the young boys mind as he struggled to his knees as quickly as his sore body would allow him to. Finally getting his legs to work properly, he knelt in front of his Master and obediently kept his head down, eyes cast to the ground.
Pharaoh circled the youth cowering before him as he waited for the younger to start sprouting out apologizes for angering his Master. He was quite annoyed however, when he didn't receive the standard groveling he always got from his slaves.
"See this boy is not worthy of you My Liege," Omoto tried one more pathetic attempt to keep his plaything, "Let me show you my best slaves."
'The Pharaoh is my new Master?'
The small boy was terrified. He had heard many frightening stories about the young Pharaoh, and each new story had scared him even more. But there was nothing he could do about it, he was just a slave. He had no rights, no real future. It seemed his lot in life was to have the most horribly cruel Masters, each one more worse than the last.
"I am taking the boy." ordered Yami as he nodded to Seto who was still standing by the horses.
'No, please,' the young boy wanted to cry out, 'anyone but the Pharaoh.'
"Milord." Seto bowed to his friend once he reached his Pharaoh's side.
"Pay for the runt." commanded Yami glaring once more at the trembling figure still cowering in the sand. Not bothering to wait while Seto paid for his new slave, Yami just grabbed the boy by his wrist and dragged him over to where their horses were waiting. Grabbing both the boy's wrists in one hand, Yami used his free hand to dig in his bag for a piece of rope. Finally finding the elusive rope, Yami gathered the boy's hands and tightly wrapped them together before tying him securely to his horse.
Seto could tell from his friends demeanor that he was not too happy with his new slave. The boy just sat there shaking, not even trying to apologize.
"How much?" asked Seto as he watched his friend dragged that worthless slave behind him, the younger struggling to keep up.
"20,000 gold coins." was the asking price. Omoto was not about to give up his favorite slave without getting a substantial amount in return.
"You must think you're dealing with an amateur," Seto replied towering over the smaller male, "No pathetic slave is worth that much gold."
"But he is special, worth more than just a regular slave. He had unique qualities that make him..." Omoto blurted out before he realized what he was saying. He quickly tried to cover up his mistake, hoping the sorcerer had not noticed the slip up, "I mean he..."
"Enough!" Commanded Seto, narrowing his icy blue eyes angrily, "First you say he had no worth, now you claim he is special."
"That boy is a pleasure slave," Omoto unwillingly confessed, "I need him, Sire, he brings in the most money. I will starve if you take him."
"This boy brings in 20,000 gold coins a night?" Seto narrowed his eyes in disbelief, "I seriously doubt that."
"But it's true, Sire." lied Omoto, willing to do anything to keep his pet.
"I will pay you 2,000 gold coins," Seto held up his hand when the Slave owner began to argue, "That is being more than generous, don't you agree."
"Yes, Sire." Omoto replied defeated.
"Glad you see things my way." Seto stated as he counted out the correct amount of gold.
Yami had just gotten on his horse when he heard how much the boy would cost. He too was surprised at the astronomical amount the Slave Trader claimed the boy was worth. No slave was worth that kind of money.
Yami waited for Seto to finish up the transaction, he was eager to get back to his Palace. He had plans for his newest slave.
"Can you believe that man?" Seto ranted as he approached his friend, "He must think we're absolutely crazy."
"He thought he could get more, after all I am the Pharaoh." was Yami's reply as the duo started the trek home.
"I know what your wishing for with this new slave." Seto stated quietly, breaking the silence of the ride.
"I don't know what you mean," Yami replied nonchalantly, a glare from his friend told Yami that he was not fooled. Yami sighed before asking sadly, "Do you think I am meant to be alone?"
"Of course not Yami," Seto replied firmly not doubting his answer for one moment, "You'll find the right one. You just have to be patient."
Yami laughed sadly at that, "And unfortunately patients is not one of my strong suits."
"I know Yami," answered Seto patting his friend on the back, "Just hold on. You might find them sooner than you think."
During their conversation, neither male remembered about the small boy. Didn't notice that the boy was struggling to keep up with the steady pace they set, never noticed as the boy collapsed due to heat exhaustion, and neither noticed that they were dragging the now unconscious boy through the rough terrain behind them.
It was only when they finally reached the palace walls did they remember the small slave they had just purchased. As the Pharaoh dismounted his horse, he glanced behind him seeing his newest slave lying unconscious on the ground.
The small boy had severe burns on his arms and down the length of his body from being dragged through the hot sand that covered the desert floor. He had blood running down his face from a gash that was above his left eye. His skin on his wrists was practically torn off, the rough rope digging into the boys skin.
As Yami looked over the battered and bruised body, he felt an unknown emotion rush through him. He actually felt sympathy for the young boy, but why he felt this, he could not explain.
'Could I finally have found the one?' Yami thought as he watched his Elite Guards cut the boy free from his horse and drag him into the Castle, 'No, this is just another trick to get me to lower my guard. I will not fall for that again.'
"Now what Yami?" Seto asked as he followed his Pharaoh.
Yami sighed. He really had no plan on what was going to occur after he found his new slave. He never really thought that far ahead. Yami was saved from answering however when the group had finally reached the Pharaoh's Chambers.
"Place him there." Yami pointed to a bed of rags settled in the far corner of his spacious room.
"Yes, Sire." the Guard replied as he walked over to where his Lord had indicated and unceremoniously dropped the boy upon the bed of rags.
Both Yami and Seto were quite surprised that the boy didn't make a sound when he landed roughly on the hard stone, the worn rags barely cushioning the fall.
Yami observed the young boy as he stirred in his unconscious state. He almost gasped when the younger finally opened his eyes. Never before had Yami seen such a color. Large amethyst eyes shimmering with fright as the boy looked around at his new surroundings.
'Where am I?' Yugi thought as he slowly returned to consciousness.
Yugi fearfully opened his eyes as he nervously surveying his surroundings. Once he realized that he was not dreaming, that the All Mighty Pharaoh was indeed his new Master, Yugi scrambled to his knees. His entire body started shivering in fear of what his punishment would be.
As Yami watched the small boy trembling before him, he once again felt a strong need to protect the boy, even if it was from himself. Shaking off the foreign feeling, Yami glared at the boy, as if he was willing the boy to look up at him. Anything to give the Pharaoh a reason to use anger as a mask to cover up this unwelcome feeling surging through his body.
Yugi stayed in that position tensing as he waited for the pain to start. When it didn't come, he looked up fearfully making sure to not look at the Pharaoh's face and noticed he was standing right in front of him staring at him.
"On your feet runt," Pharaoh ordered harshly, "I am assigning you to your duties."
The young boy slowly rose to his feet keeping his eyes downcast as was required of him. He slowly followed the Pharaoh as he left his Chambers, making sure to memorize everything that was told to him. To forget one's duties, equaled pain. Pain so intense you almost wished it would kill you, at least then, you'd be free.
'Ra must really hate me,' Yugi thought depressed as he mindlessly followed his new Master, 'what did I do that was so horrible?'
Yami glanced at his new slave often as he led the boy throughout the Palace, showing the child his new duties. He was getting extremely frustrated with the boy, when the only indication the boy made to acknowledge he was even listing to Yami, was the occasional nodding of his head.
Wanting more of an answer than just a nod, Yami stopped abruptly, nearly causing the young slave to crash into him. He turned around quickly, glaring at his new slave.
"Do you understand your new duties?" asked the Pharaoh directly.
Yugi was quite surprised when his new Master stopped so suddenly. He had to take an immediate step back to avoid running into his Lord. It was then that his instincts kicked in and he quickly got down to his knees, forehead almost touching the ground as he nodded profusely.
Yami, not satisfied with that answer, punched the young slave square in the jaw knocking him flat on his back.
"I asked you a direct question!" bellowed Yami as he kicked the boy harshly in his chest, knocking the air from the younger, "I expect a direct answer!"
Since he was not expecting the hit, Yugi fell to the ground surprised. The surprise didn't last long, however, when a sudden kick to his chest expelled the air from his lungs. Leaving the boy gasping as he tried to curl up to protect his mid section.
'What did I do?' Yugi thought fearfully as he tried to make himself as small as possible, 'Slave's are not allowed to speak, that's what Master always said.'
"When your Pharaoh asks you something you ANSWER!"
Yami could feel his anger rising at the young boys continued silence. Wanting some sort of reaction, Yami kicked the boy directly in his side. The resounding crack was easily heard but the boy still did not cry out, in fact, he had yet to make even the slightest of sounds. Frustrated beyond belief, Yami took his anger out on the small slave. Kicking the younger long after he had fallen unconscious.
He was just about to have his Guards drag the boy away, when a blond slave came rushing down the corridor. After glancing worriedly at the bleeding figure, the blond immediately got to his knees waiting to be acknowledged.
After a few more hard kicks, the Pharaoh finally stopped hitting the unconscious youth. He turned his attention to the blond slave, giving him permission to speak.
"A thousand apologies for the intrusion, Your Highness" the blond slave bowed respectfully, "This boy will not answer you."
"Explain." commanded Yami not in the mood for uncooperative slaves.
"As slaves, we were not allowed to speak," the blond slave clarified, glancing nervously at the smaller slave, "A slave must be silent at all times. To speak was to be punished."
"Just for speaking?" Yami demanded, careful to mask his surprise. He had never heard of a Master being that strict as to forbid talking.
"Yes, My Pharaoh," confirmed the blond, "The beatings were long and unbearable. They usually didn't end until the person was barely alive, then they were dragged to the dungeons. The poor soul stayed in those cells until they either died from their wounds, or from the continuous beatings they received. So, Milord, no matter what you do, he will not speak."
"Enough!" Yami raised his hand, not wanting to hear anymore of this slaves sob story, "Just get the runt and follow me."
"Yes, Milord," The blond wasted no time as he rushed toward the small unmoving body. He gently gathered the unconscious form into his arms and cradled the younger to his chest.
"Oh, Yugi," whispered the blond as he followed the Pharaoh to his Personal Chambers, "I thought I'd never see you again."
The blond felt tears building in his eyes as he thought about all the young boy in his arms had gone through, in his short miserable life. Although he really didn't know a lot about the boy's past, the Masters they had shared, told the blond all he needed to know about the small boy.
The blond immediately pushed those thoughts aside as they reached the Pharaoh's Personal Chambers.
"Put him down here." Yami ordered as he indicated the small pile of rags bunched up in the far corner of the room.
"Yes, Sire." the blond replied. He walked over to where his Lord had specified, gently laying the injured boy down. He sighed sadly as he brushed blond bangs from the younger boy's face.
"How do you know him Joey?" Seto asked suddenly causing the blond to jump slightly. In all the commotion, he had forgotten his Master was beside him. They had just returned from the Dining Hall when Joey suddenly stopped. He was in complete shock when he saw the small boy being beaten by the Pharaoh. He had run over immediately to help the younger.
"I had met him a few years ago," Joey looked down at the boy and sighed sadly as he fixed the thin worn out blankets over his friends still form, "I had just been bought by a new Master and because I was uncooperative, I was immediately thrown into the dungeons. Anyway, when I was finally able to look around, I saw Yugi. He was laying unconscious on the hard cement floor. His wrists were raw and bloody, his whole body burned from being dragged through the hot desert."
"I didn't think he'd survive the night," Joey had to pause as his emotions became overwhelming. Taking a deep breath, Joey continued. "I found out later that Yugi was being punished, that's why he was in the dungeons."
"A Master will discipline a slave anyway he sees fit." Seto stated firmly, "I am sure the punishment fit the crime."
Joey shook his head not taking his eyes off the little slave, "All he said was 'yes Master' when asked a question."
Yami and Seto both were confused by this statement.
"And?" Yami asked wanting the blond to get to the point.
"Didn't you hear what I said?" Joey said angrily, pounding his fist into the ground, frustrated at his inability to help his small friend, "it's not what he said, it's the fact that he had spoken."
"Watch your tone, slave!" Yami said threateningly.
"A thousand apologies, Milord," Joey replied quickly, realizing his mistake he bowed low to the ground, seeking forgiveness for his outburst.
"Is that why he doesn't make any noise at all?" Seto trying quickly to defuse the situation before his slave did something that really angered Yami.
Joey nodded sadly as he glanced at the figure beside him, "Yugi has been a slave his entire life, and as Masters went, Yugi continued to get the worst of the worst. Each more horrible than the last. If you spoke or made a single sound, you were severely punished. At a young age, it was just something you learned very quickly. So when you asked him to speak, he was extremely confused. He didn't know what to do, or how to respond without getting into more trouble."
"Yugi?" Seto asked curiously, "is that his name?"
"Yeah it is," Joey replied smiling at the younger boy, "at least that's what someone once told me, but no one's ever heard him speak before. I had tried to become his friend, but he's so timid and fearful, he refuses to speak or allow anyone to get close to him."
"I thought you were his friend?" Seto asked, now more curious about his own slave as well. Joey never liked to talk about his former life, which Seto completely understood why. But now, he was getting a small glimpse into the world his young slave once lived in and he would be dead in his grave before Joey ever had to live that life again.
"I am his friend," Joey replied, "he's just scared. Afraid that everyone he meets is going to beat him and he doesn't always understand why. Not that our former masters ever needed a reason before."
Seto couldn't believe what he was hearing. 'Punish a slave for no reason? I may not be the kindest master but I only punish my slaves if they give me a reason to and the severity of the punishment depends on the crime itself.' Seto thought to himself, 'but to not even allow your slaves to speak even if spoken to, that's a little strict.'
'No wonder he refused to answer me,' Yami thought watching the blond slave care for his newest one, 'Who cares, so what if he's had some cruel masters. He's still just a good for nothing, pathetic slave anyway and probably deserved everything that he got.'
Yami and Seto came out of their thoughts as the young boy started stirring and slowly waking up and Joey's attention was immediately brought back to Yugi as he watched the young boy finally open his eyes.
Yugi opened his amethyst eyes and looked around the room, it didn't take him long, however, to realize exactly where he was. With the amount of gold scattered about and exquisite tapestries adorning the walls, it could only be the Pharaoh's Personal Chambers. Prepared for the worst, Yugi was quite surprised to see his friend staring back at him instead of an angry Pharaoh.
'Joey?' Yugi thought as he slowly sat up and titled his head in confusion, 'What's he doing here? I thought he was sold to Master's brother.'
"Long time no see, huh Yugi?" Joey asked smiling gently as he saw the confusion in his young friends eyes.
Yugi nodded his head in agreement although Joey still had not answered his question.
"This is my new Master," Joey replied indicating the tall male standing beside the blonde, "He bought me from Omoto's brother. I have been staying here ever since. You're allowed to speak here Yugi, when spoken to first of course."
Yugi nodded to show he understood as he glanced once more around the room. Once his scan had revealed the Pharaoh, the young boy scrambled to his knees, bowing respectfully before his Lord and Master.
"I have to return to my meetings," Yami stated as he watched the boy tremble before him. He pointed at the blond slave as he continued, "You, clean him up and dress his wounds. Unless your Master requires your assistance with something else."
Seto had been watching the interaction between the two boys and he knew that his young slave would in fact like to spend some more time with his friend. And although he didn't have to, Seto decided to allow his slave this small request.
"You can stay," he replied raising his hand before Joey got too excited, "As long as you are back in my chambers by the noon meal."
"Yes, Master." Joey immediately agreed, his eyes showing the gratitude he could never fully express with just mere words, "Thank you Master."
"Well now that that's taken care of," Yami replied authoritatively, "I must return to my meetings."
With that said, Yami strode out of the room, Seto following quickly behind him.
Once the older males had left the room, Joey immediately turned his attention back to the shivering boy.
"You'll like it here Yugi." Joey replied softly as he gathered the smaller boy into his arms, comforting the frightened child. Joey just sat on the hard floor holding Yugi until the younger finally stopped shaking. Once the other had calmed down, Joey picked Yugi up and carried him to the Bathing Chambers.
"Its not so bad here," Joey continued to explain as he gently set Yugi down and set about removing the younger boys clothes, "As long as you obey the rules, they won't hurt you. They're not as strict as our former master was."
'Won't hurt you?' Yugi thought unbelieving letting Joey do as he pleased, 'They may not hurt you at first, but it never lasts for very long.'
Although Yugi didn't move a muscle since Joey had set him down, his eyes followed the blonds every move. He watched as Joey walked to the far end of the Bathing Chambers to where many buckets had been hung over a row of small flames. He kept his eyes glued to the blond as he proceeded to fill up the large tub with the heated water.
'The water is heated?'
Now Yugi was beyond confused. Slave did not deserve hot water, they considered themselves lucky when they were allowed to bathe in the chilled waters of the rivers. No, warm water was a luxury meant only for royalty and overseers, not for slaves such as himself. Yugi became even more confused when Joey came over to him and started leading him to the warm inviting bath.
Joey was concerned when he turned around and saw Yugi shaking his head frantically while trying to pull his arm free from his grasp.
"What's wrong Yugi?" Joey asked concern clear in his voice, all he had been trying to do was give Yugi a bath. He had grabbed the smaller males hand leading Yugi to the awaiting stone tub, and now the small boy was trying to get free from his grasp shaking his head frantically. Not wanting to hurt the small boy even more, Joey released his grip on Yugi's hand.
Yugi stumbled back a couple steps when his hand was abruptly released. Quickly regaining his balance, Yugi pointed at the warm bath, willing Joey to understand him.
'That can't be for me Joey,' thought Yugi almost in tears, 'I don't deserve such treatment. I'm just a slave.'
It only took a few moments before Joey finally understood what was troubling his young friend.
"It's ok Yugi," Joey replied soothingly trying to coax the boy into the water, "This bath is for you. It's ok, I promise."
Yugi, although still unsure, nodded to show he understood. He timidly walked closer to Joey before climbing into the large stone bath. Yugi almost sighed as the warmth of the water quickly penetrated his sore body instantly relaxing the tense muscles. Yugi leaned forward against the side of the tub resting his head on his outstretched arms.
Joey smiled encouragingly at the younger as Yugi slowly walked toward him. And although Joey could clearly see the fear in Yugi's large expressive eyes, he was proud of the younger boy for finally taking such a large leap of faith. Gaining Yugi's trust was not an easy task, seeing as the younger was always fearful of letting others get too close.
Taking pride in his enormous accomplishment, Joey made sure to proceed with caution. He did not want to do anything to frighten Yugi, especially now that he was finally calmed down. Trying to be as gentle as he could, Joey carefully cleaned the deep gashes covering the boys small frame.
"I'm sorry." Joey whispered as he went over a particularly deep cut across the boy's back causing the younger to wince in pain. He felt like he was being stabbed in his heart every time Joey saw the pain flash briefly in his friends eyes, "I'm almost done. Then there is a cream I will put on your back to help with the pain."
Yugi nodded tearfully biting his lower lip to prevent himself from crying out as the pain was excruciating. It felt like his whole body was on fire. Yugi was in such agony that he didn't even realize he had bitten his lip until he felt warm blood beginning to run slowly down his face.
"I'm almost done, little brother," Joey whispered soothingly to his shivering friend as he gently wiped the blood from Yugi's lips, "I know your scared Yugi, but you trust me right?"
Yugi nodded hesitantly. He really did trust the blond, Joey would never hurt him. In fact, the blond did everything in his power to protect Yugi.
"Then please believe me when I say that things will be different here." Joey prayed that fate would not make him a liar, especially considering that Yugi's new Master was the Almighty Pharaoh himself.
'I will do anything to keep you safe Yugi,' Joey thought fiercely as he helped Yugi out of the bath and proceeded to dry the younger with a soft and fluffy towel, 'Even take on the Pharaoh himself.'
'I trust you Joey.' Yugi thought as he closed his eyes. He couldn't help but be a little fearful, his entire life so far, was filled with nothing but lies, pain and suffering. The only time his life had ever been tolerable was when his brothers' were near him.
Joey was starting to get a little worried when Yugi didn't answer him. The younger boy was sitting in front of him with his eyes squeezed shut. His face contorting as if deep in thought. He was overjoyed a moment later, however, when the boy finally opened his eyes. Shimmering amethyst meeting chocolate brown.
Yugi almost sighed as he reopened his eyes. And for the first time, Yugi actually looked someone straight in the eye without flinching. He had never done that before. And although he was fighting his natural instincts to look away, Yugi continued to look the blond square in the eye. He nodded slowly telling Joey he in fact did believe him.
Joey smiled with true happiness lighting up his entire face, they were together again. Except this time, nothing was ever going to separate them again.
Joey had finished drying the younger. He pointed Yugi to lay down on the towel as he proceeded to put a soothing cream on the boy's inflamed back. After the cream was applied, Joey went to retrieve Yugi's new outfit.
Heading straight for the smaller closet, Joey pulled out Yugi's new outfit. Although at first glance it appeared to be just a plain white tunic, it was not something just a normal slave would wear. This particular tunic was pure white, spun from the softest of silks. Intricate golden patterns embroidered along the collar and sleeves of the outfit, telling all Yugi's new status. He was now the Pharaoh's personal slave. Yugi didn't have to listen to anyone else, and no other could touch or punish him.
After grabbing the proper accessories, Joey returned to the bathroom. He saw the look of surprise that crossed Yugi's face when he noticed what he would be wearing.
'That's for me?' Yugi was quite shocked when he saw his new clothing, never before had he seen anything so exquisite. He was extremely nervous as he stepped into his new outfit, he was afraid he was going to rip the delicate material. Yugi was very thankful when Joey saw his hesitation and immediately helped him.
As Joey helped the younger get properly dressed, he couldn't help but be amazed at the small progress he was once again making with his little brother. Normally, Yugi shied away from any kind of touch. Even the smallest contact sent the young boy into a panic, so Joey was very careful to go slowly and not make any sudden movements.
"Come on Yugi," Joey reached out waiting for the younger to accept his outstretched hand and, after a moments hesitation, Yugi reciprocated grasping his brothers hand tightly in his own.
Joey squeezed his brothers hand reassuringly before leading the younger out of his new Masters Chambers.
"Its almost time for the midday meal," Joey informed the younger as he skillfully navigated the maze of corridors, "We should get our Master's lunches ready. I'll show you around the palace along the way."
'This place is huge.' Yugi thought as he followed Joey, trying hard to memorize the correct path so as not to get lost. The problem, however, was that almost all the corridors looked exactly the same, how was he ever going to get back to his Pharaoh's chamber without the blond leading him?
Joey, misreading the younger boys expression, laughed when he saw, what he thought, was an awed expression on Yugi's face. From experience, Joey knew that Yugi very rarely showed any facial expressions and to see him finally comfortable enough to express his emotion, made Joey feel truly honored.
Yugi had been so absorbed in his task of picking out slight differences in the identical hallways that he had only been half listening to his friend. He was quite surprised, and a little hurt, when he heard the blond laughing at him. Yugi turned to regard the blond, hurt evident in his eyes.
"Oh, Yugi," Joey said sadly seeing the pain in his little brothers eyes, "I was not laughing at you. It was just nice you see you finally feeling comfortable enough to let me see your emotions.
Yugi tiled his head to the side. He still did not understand.
"The look on your face reminded me of the time I had my first tour of the palace." Joey clarified, "I was awestruck when Seto first showed me around."
Yugi was unsure on how to respond to that due to the fact that Joey had misread what he was feeling. He was not awestruck. He was terrified! How could Joey just laugh it off like it was no big deal?
"I am not making fun of you," Joey kneels down to his friends height. He placed his hands on the younger boys shoulders, giving a gentle squeeze in reassurance, "Yugi, you're like a little brother to me, you know that right?"
At Yugi's hesitant nod, Joey continued, "Then please trust me. Things will be different here. I promise you."
'I trust you.' Yugi, unable to say the words, just rested his head against his big brother's shoulder. As he felt his brother respond by wrapping strong, comforting arms around him, Yugi reciprocated bringing his smaller arms around Joey's neck.
As Yami sat through the meeting with his councilors, he could not keep his mind off his newest slave. The small boy constantly invading his thoughts. Never before had he felt such strong emotions from one so small. He was starting to feel physically ill at the amount of pain the boy unknowingly emitted.
'Why does this boy stir such emotion in me?' Yami thought not even listening as his councilors droned on about this and about that. He couldn't explain the overwhelming need he felt to protect the small boy, the intense desire not let the other out of his sight. Not even for the briefest of moments. Never before had a slave, or anyone for that matter, awakened such intense emotions in him.
"We need to discuss the situation with the slaves, Sire." A monotone voice bringing Yami back to the present.
"I was just down there yesterday," Yami reported not bothering to hide his yawn, "The work was being done adequately."
"We lost over twenty slaves yesterday," the short stubby male informed his Lord, "The southern wall collapsed, the slaves were trapped within the rubble."
"Then just get more slaves." Yami waved his hand intending to just dismiss the issue. He was unprepared, however, for the feelings of guilt that simple phrase had invoked in him. Not wanting to contemplate the issue further, Yami ended their meeting early.
'Joey must be pretty happy here,' thought Yugi as he continued walking not noticing that Joey wasn't beside him, 'I have never seen him so happy.'
Yugi didn't know how long they sat embracing on the cold hard ground, but it had been so long since Yugi had felt so safe and content, that he was reluctant to leave. When they eventually parted, Yugi wanted nothing more than to be wrapped within those warm arms again. Shrugging of the unaccustomed feelings, Yugi just stood up and started walking away.
Joey was not surprised to feel Yugi squirming in his arms moments later, although Yugi did trust him, he was still not used to affection. He allowed his friend to step out of the embrace, knowing Yugi was still trying to get used to the idea of letting someone get close to him.
So, not saying a word, Joey just smiled and followed his small friend.
After a few more winding turns, the boys had finally reached the kitchens where Yugi was met with yet another surprise. Yugi saw a boy with snow white hair scurrying around the large kitchen, quickly preparing lunch for everyone from Pharaoh to slave.
'Is that?' thought Yugi as he recognized the boy standing in front of him, 'but I thought he was sold Omoro's older brother?'
As if the boy heard Yugi's thoughts, he turned around and smiled when he saw who was there. He quickly dropped what he was doing and ran over to Yugi.
Yugi kept his head down while Ryou hugged him. He knew in his heart that Ryou was a friend, more importantly, his brother. But in his mind, he was still terrified. In his experience, physical touch meant pain. A constant reminder to Yugi of the life he had lead so far.
'Oh Yugi,' Joey sighed sadly as he watched the exchange between the two friends. He saw Yugi tense up immediately when Ryou touch him, 'You can trust us, Yugi, you can trust your brothers.'
"Yugi, what are you doing here?" Ryou quickly changed the subject, he too couldn't help but notice the way Yugi stiffened when Ryou approached him, "I thought I'd never see you again."
Then he turned to Joey, "Joey? How did he get here? When did he get here? What..." Ryou finally stopped to catch his breath and blushed as Joey burst into laughter. After he finally calmed down, Ryou took a deep breath then said in a slower, less rushed voice, "Hello Joey, what can I get for you? Are you hungry again?"
Joey shook his head.
"Not this time," Joey replied, smiling at his long time friend and little brother, "I'm just showing Yugi his way around the palace and just now realized its almost time for the midday meal. And to answer your other question, Yugi just arrived today."
"I'm so glad to see you," Ryou replied happily once again embracing his long time friend, "I thought I'd never see you again."
Yugi, unsure on how to respond (not that he really could), just relished in the feelings of comfort his brother provided. Just like with Joey, Yugi found himself once again resting his head on the others shoulder basking in the feeling of being protected, for finally feeling safe.
"Ahem." Joey cleared his throat. He hated having to break up such a tender reunion, but he had no other choice. They had to leave soon if they were going to make it back to their Masters Chambers on time.
"So, um, you said you were here for the Pharaoh's lunch," Ryou led them over to a counter where a silver tray lay waiting, already loaded with an assortment of wonderfully smelling food. After adding a few more items to the already overloaded tray, Ryou turned and handed it to Yugi.
"Here's the Pharaoh's lunch," Yugi almost rolled his eyes at the obvious statement but took the offered tray nonetheless.
Ryou chose to ignore the look of annoyance that briefly crossed Yugi's face, smacking Joey on his arm when he started to laugh. Handing the blond a similar tray, Ryou continued as if nothing had occurred, "Once you deliver your Master's meals, come back here and I will fix you both something to eat."
Yugi nodded slightly to Ryou as he took to offered tray. As he followed Joey back through the winding maze of hallways and staircases, Yugi couldn't help but wonder what other surprises were in store for him. He never imagined he would ever be reunited with Joey and Ryou, it was a dream come true for the youngest of their group.
'There has to be a catch,' Yugi thought as he rushed to keep up with the blondes longer strides, 'Nothing this good ever happens to me without consequence.'
Yugi had no time to dwell on the issue, however, as they had finally reached his new Masters Chambers. Yugi stopped slightly behind the blond waiting patiently for his Master to respond to Joey's knock. Not a moment later, the Pharaoh's deep voice was heard through the thick wood telling them to enter.
As Joey headed towards his own Chambers, Yugi slowly opened the door while trying to maintain his precarious grasp of the tray in his arms. He sighed in relief when he reached the small table, pleased with himself for not spilling a drop. Setting the tray down, Yugi began removing the items from the silver tray and placing them on the wooden table before his Lord.
"I almost had to wait," Pharaoh said coldly, not even looking at the small slave, "if you are late again, you will be severely punished."
Out of the corner of his eye, Yami saw the young boy flinch when a punishment was mentioned. Wanting nothing more than to ignore the feelings of guilt threatening to overwhelm him, Yami pushed those unwanted feeling aside and concentrated on eating his meal.
Yugi quickly glanced out the window as his Lord ate, making a mental note of the suns position so as not to be late with Pharaoh's lunch again, 'So when Ra is straight overhead, its time for the midday meal."
Joey mindlessly roamed the winding corridors to his Masters Personal Chambers. His Master. That phrase used to repulse Joey with every fiber of his being until he had meet Seto. The older male was nothing like Joey had been expecting. Nothing like the Masters he used to have.
In the beginning, Joey was afraid of his Master. The taller male was very intimidating with his cold blue eyes and icy glare. Eyes that could penetrate the body, right down to your very soul.
But as it turns out, that was not what his new Master was like. Well, maybe in the beginning, but over time, Joey had seen a different side to his new Master. A side that was surprisingly caring and compassionate.
Joey never dreamed he'd have such a life.
In that sense, Joey actually didn't mind being a slave because Seto really didn't treat him as one. He was one of the few that were allowed to call their Masters by their first name, even though he only did that when they were alone. Seto was very kind toward him, he asked instead of ordered, and he never punished him. It was strange to say but Seto treated him more like a friend than a slave and because of that, Joey never tried to run away and was very loyal to his master.
On the way back to Seto's chambers, Joey couldn't help but think about his friend, alone with the Pharaoh. He prayed that one day, Yugi would finally find some happiness in his life. To realize, that there are people that love him, care about him. To understand that he was safe now, the smaller boy didn't have to be so timid around them anymore, he didn't have to be in a constant state of fear.
'I'm just sorry that his new master has to be the Pharaoh,' Joey thought dejectedly, 'He can be as mean as, if not worse, than Yugi's former Masters. That's definitely not what Yugi needs to start opening up to people.'
Joey was abruptly driven from his thoughts when he suddenly crashed into someone, causing him to fall back in surprise, landing harshly on the hard stone. Joey couldn't help but cringe as the tray came crashing down beside him. He quickly scrambled to his knees and bowed in front of the person.
After completely setting the table, Yugi had returned to his bed of rags. He sat quietly in his corner, pondering what it must be like to eat this way all the time. Yugi blushed when his stomach growled in response to the wonderful smells drifting from his Masters plate, he quickly wrapped his arms around his mid section, praying his Master didn't hear him. It seemed that luck was on Yugi's side when his Master made no acknowledgment of even hearing him.
"I am finished," declared Yami getting up from the table signaling that Yugi could begin clearing off the dishes, "Once your tasks are completed, you may ask the Cook for something to eat."
Yugi nodded and started cleaning up the table as the Pharaoh left the room. After carefully balancing everything back onto the tray, Yugi then proceeded to slowly carry his load back down the long winding corridors.
As he walked into the kitchen, Yugi saw Ryou once again preparing for the next meal as he scurried around stirring boiling pots and cutting various vegetables.
Ryou turned around when he heard someone enter the kitchen and nodded in greeting to Yugi.
"You can just put those dishes over there Yugi," Ryou said while pointing to the only clear spot left on the counters.
Yugi nodded and put the dishes down where Ryou had indicated. He stood there for a few moments before he decided it must be his job to do the dishes. He was just about to heat the water when Ryou walked over to him and placed his hand on Yugi's arm making the young boy jump in surprise.
"You don't have to do that Yugi," Ryou replied to the startled boy, "Why don't you sit down over there and I will fix you something to eat."
Yugi nodded hesitantly and sat down at the table. Ryou placed some food on a tray and set it down in front of Yugi.
'This can't all be for me?' Yugi thought as he looked at the overflowing plates of food in front of him. He was lucky if he got table scraps once or twice a week. He looked at Ryou confused and Ryou smiled at him.
"You don't have to eat table scraps here," Ryou explained knowing what Yugi was thinking, and from his own past experiences, "anytime you get hungry just come and find me and I'll fix your something."
Yugi nodded his head to show that he understood, but Ryou could tell he was still unsure. He ate the food cautiously as if he was expecting someone to jump out and start yelling at him or take it away from him. Ryou sensed Yugi's apprehension and tried to calm the young boys fears. He placed his hand comfortingly on Yugi's shoulder. He noticed Yugi tense up and smiled at him.
"It's all right Yugi," Ryou said calmly, "life here is different than with master. As long as you do what your told, they will not hurt you."
'That's exactly what Joey said,' Yugi thought as he continued to eat his food. It was the best thing he'd ever tasted not that he had a lot to compare it to but, to him, it was still the best. Although he was still a bit nervous, he nodded his head to please Ryou.
As hard as he tried, Joey was unable to keep the trembling out of his voice as he addressed the one he ran into.
"Please forgive this clumsy slave," Joey replied shakily.
Even though he was Seto's personal slave, and no other could punish him, Joey automatically tensed in anticipation of the blow he would receive. But just as quickly as his body tightened up, he immediately relaxed when he heard familiar laughter. Glancing up confirmed his assumption was correct. He had run into Seto.
Seto, no longer smiling, offered his hand and helped the boy stand up,
"Thoughts like those will get you in trouble," Seto stated seriously, "Especially when your thinking about your Master and Pharaoh. You better hope that Pharaoh did not hear those thoughts as well, he will not be nearly as forgiving."
Joey kept his head down, ashamed he had been thinking such thoughts in the first place.
"I'm sorry Seto," He replied sadly, "I just want Yugi to know that all people are not like his former masters. That there are some people that care about him. I want him to have the kind of life you have given me."
"I understand," Seto replied and he truly did, "Go to the Kitchens and retrieve another tray. I will meet you in my Chambers."
"Yes, Seto," Joey replied immediately staying in his bowed position until his Master turned the corner. Once is Master was out of sight, Joey quickly gathered up the scattered dishes. When that task was complete, Joey hurried to the Kitchens to get his Master a new meal and discard the broken dishes.
Joey practically ran down the long corridors, not wanting to keep His Lord waiting. Arriving at the kitchens, Joey was surprised to see Yugi sitting at the counter.
"Hello," Joey replied suddenly startling both boys.
Yugi shut his eyes tightly, his entire body tensing up at the sudden unexpected voice. He relaxed a moment later, however, when he realized that he recognized that voice. Cracking one eye open confirmed who the voice came from. Yugi almost sighed in relief.
"Sorry Yuge," Joey apologized, he never meant to frighten his friend, "What are you doing here anyway, I thought you were still with Pharaoh."
"Pharaoh had his lunch, now its time for Yugi to eat." Ryou answered for the smaller boy, "What about you? Are you hungry again?"
Joey blushed before answering, "No, I was daydreaming when I ran into Seto."
Joey paused before whispering, "Literally."
Ryou laughed when he heard Joey's explanation, "So I take it, Master Seto needs another plate?"
"Yea," Joey replied sheepishly, scratching the back of his head in embarrassment, "I cleaned up the mess as best I could, but I should probably still sweep the floor. Make sure all the glass has been picked up."
Ryou laughed again as he set about getting another tray prepared for Master Seto.
As the boys laughed and joked around, neither noticed that they were being watched as crimson eyes observed their every move.
'I have never seen a slave as terrified as that little one is,' Yami thought as he studied the interaction between the three boys.
The blond and the boy with the snow white hair, 'Ryou and Joey.' his mind supplied, were playfully bantering, while the smallest of the three, sat quietly at the table nibbling on his plate of food.
Yami had never seen a boy so frightened. The small slave was very cautiously eating his lunch, but he still looked ready to jump at the slightest command. It was as if he was expecting to get punished for simply just eating.
'Why do I even care about his feelings?' Yami thought watching the Kitchen slave and Seto's slave having a mini food fight, while his look-a-like continued eating as if nothing was occurring around him, 'why does this one pathetic slave stir something in me? A need to protect? A need to comfort?'
As the friends started dispersing, Yami decided to head over to his personal Gardens. The only place were he would not date be disturbed, he needed to think.
After Yugi had finished his lunch, he nodded his thanks to Ryou and headed back to the Pharaoh's chambers for further orders.
'My big brothers, I have finally found two of my brothers.' Yugi thought happily as he slowly navigated his way through the palace, 'Could things finally be looking up for me?'
Yugi paused, shaking his head to get rid of those thoughts, 'No, every time I think its going to be different...Master always makes sure I remember my place.'
Yugi slowed down even further when his thoughts turned depressing. Although he trusted his brothers, Yugi was still waiting for the other shoe to drop. He knew that things did not stay good for very long, at least, not in his experience.
'Get your head out of the clouds stupid.' Yugi berated himself when he realized he had already reached his Master's Chambers.
Yugi shook his head to clear his thoughts as he timidly knocked on the hard wood door waiting patiently for the Pharaoh to call him in. When he received no reply, he cautiously opened the door and peeked his head in. Yugi was surprised to see that the pharaoh was not in the room.
'I wonder where he went?' Yugi thought entering in empty room, 'what does he expect me to do in his absence? He told me my duties, but he has not shown me where anything is yet.' Then Yugi started to panic. 'What if he did tell me and I forgot. I better think of something quick. I don't want to get punished again.'
At that thought the young boy started trembling. He looked around the room for anything to do so the Pharaoh wouldn't be mad at him for just standing around. The room was already clean and Yugi couldn't find anything else to do.
For as long as Yami had been sitting in his gardens, he was still no closer to an answer than he was when he first arrived. For some reason he could not get the small boy off his mind, especially how terrified the boy was when just eating his lunch.
'Why do I even care about his feelings?' Yami thought wandering mindlessly through his garden. 'I must talk to Seto's slave and the kitchen slave later about the boy, then maybe I will understand this unusual feeling that I'm having whenever he is around. Wait a minute.' Yami thought angrily, 'I, The Pharaoh, can not and will not go up to a common slave and start asking them questions. I will not appear weak in front of these weak and pathetic slaves.'
Yami, having made up his mind, quietly walked away heading back to his personal chambers.
Yugi, still in the process of finding something to do, turned around fearfully when he heard a noise by the door. He immediately went to his knees when he saw the Pharaoh staring at him. Yugi pressed his forehead further into the plush rugs, trembling fearfully as he heard the Pharaoh's steps get closer.
"Get up slave," Yami ordered, crimson eyes narrowing at the cowering boy, "I need to tell you exactly what I expect of you when you do your work."
Yugi shakily got up and quietly followed the Pharaoh out of the room. Yami told him what he needed to do in every room and then led him back to his chambers.
"I have to get back to my meetings, you start on your work but you must be back in my chambers before Ra sets. Understand?" Yami said.
Yugi nodded his head and quickly left the room to start his work.
On his way to his meetings, Yami ran into Joey in the hallway. Joey bowed respectfully and awaited the Pharaoh to address him.
"Where is your master?" Yami asked the blond haired slave.
"I think he's in the throne room waiting for you Pharaoh." Joey replied.
Yami didn't reply and headed toward the throne room. When he arrived he saw Seto sitting in his chair beside the throne and approached him silently.
Yami sat down and waited for his counsel to start talking.
"You look troubled Pharaoh." Seto remarked, "what's wrong?"
Yami looked at him and sighed, "I don't know...it's just that," he stared to admit before his cold personality reappeared, "Nothing is wrong, Counsel continue."
Seto was saddened when Yami wouldn't tell him, then he went back to his cold self.
'What's bothering you Yami?' Seto thought, carefully hiding his thoughts from Yami, 'You used to be able to tell me anything.'
Yami noticed Seto's sadness, 'Forgive me, my friend, but how do I tell you that I, the Pharaoh, am having feelings for a slave. But then again I've noticed something between you and your slave.'
"Seto I need to speak with you privately after this meeting." Yami said.
"Yes, Pharaoh." Seto answered.
For Yami this meeting seemed to go on forever and he was thankful when the old man finally quit talking. Yami got up and started walking toward his private garden. Seto followed and waited patiently for Yami to tell him what was wrong.
Yami walked around the peaceful gardens for a moment before he went to the bench and sat down.
"Seto, I am having strange feelings since I first saw my new slave." Yami said quietly, embarrassed about admitting a weakness to anyone, even his best friend.
Seto nodded his head in understanding, "What kind of feelings, my friend?" He asked even though he already knew the answer just by looking in Yami's expressive crimson eyes. Even though Yami's face never showed any expression, Seto could always tell what his friend was feeling by looking into his eyes. They were the one place not even the Pharaoh could keep his feelings from showing.
Yami sighed and replied, "I sense a deep sadness and pain in that boy. He makes me feel like I want to protect him from everything, make sure he never gets hurt again and I am guessing that, that's how you feel for your slave as well."
Seto was surprised that Yami picked up on that. He tried to be careful about letting is show too much while they were in public.
"You're right Yami," Seto admitted with a smile, "that is how I feel toward Joey, and since you picked up on that, I'm sure that you know what it is you feel toward Yugi."
"I guess I do know, but how do I even get close to him when he is so afraid of people and won't talk to me?" Yami asked. He also wanted to ask his friend about something else he sensed from Yugi, but decided to keep that to himself.
"Just try and be his friend first, and hopefully he will start to open up to you." Seto answered
"What do you mean by hopefully?" Yami asked not liking that response one bit.
"You heard what Joey said, he's known him longer and Yugi won't even talk or open up to him. Maybe you should talk to Joey. He might be able to help you better."
"I can't just go up to a slave and ask that." Yami replied stubbornly crossing his arms, "I refuse to appear weak in front of my slaves."
"Well then you will never get anywhere with Yugi." Seto informed his friend, "From what I've seen that boy needs to be shown affection for once in his life. He won't see you as nothing but his Master until you show him otherwise."
Yami opened his mouth but shut it quickly at Seto's remark.
'He's right.' Yami thought, 'how can I get him to open up to me if I refuse to do the same for him?'
"You're right." Yami admitted reluctantly, "I shall go find your slave and ask him."
"You're going to have to tell him why and how you feel." Seto said, "from what I've seen so far, Joey thinks of Yugi as his little brother and will want to make sure you're not going to hurt him."
"I know," Yami admitted again rather reluctantly, "do you know where he is?"
Seto looked toward the sun, "if I know him well enough, he should be in the kitchen eating or pestering Ryou." He replied laughing.
Yami shook his head and got up. He headed toward the kitchen his thoughts on the relationship between Seto and his slave. 'Seto is the only person I know who call the slaves by their names.' he thought, 'Joey, I think that's his name, seems really happy and he makes Seto happy as well.'
Yami was brought out of his thoughts when he heard talking coming from the kitchen and as Seto had thought, there was Joey sitting at the table talking to the kitchen slave. He stopped at the entrance to listen to what they were saying.
"How did you meet Yugi?" Joey asked curiously, wondering if their stories were the same.
"He saved me." Ryou whispered as he looked over at his blond friend, his large chocolate brown eyes sad. The snow haired teen closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
"He had saved me from a guard," Ryou continued, finally opening his eyes to look at his friend once more, "It was my first week there, I had fallen from exhaustion. I had tried to get up, but the Overseer kept hitting me, telling me I was lazy. That I was too slow."
Ryou paused for a moment, fighting to get his emotions back under control.
"I was almost unconscious when I heard the Overseer shout something in frustration. I was terrified but I looked anyway. There was Yugi, standing defiantly between me and the Overseer. To this day, I still don't understand why he did it. He didn't even know me. Anyway, the guard was furious, he grabbed Yugi by the neck and dragged him away.
Joey gave Ryou all the time that he needed. The blond could see how hard this was to relive. He could see it in Ryou's eyes, in his posture, in his voice.
"It's ok Ryou," Joey placed a comforting hand on his friends shoulder. Although it hurt Ryou to tell the story, the blond knew that it was good for Ryou to talk about it, get his emotions out so they do not stay bottled inside, "Take all the time you need."
Ryou smiled at his older brother. He leaned forward, wrapping his arms around the blonds shoulders.
Ryou, from the comfort of his brothers arms, continued his story, "He was gone for the rest of the day so when it was time for bed I went looking for him. It took me almost most of the night to find him but I finally did. Master had him tied up in the dungeons. He was naked and bleeding. He had large gashes on his back that I didn't even want to know what they came from. His wrists were raw from the rope digging into his skin as he hung from the ceiling. He was also unconscious and had blood running down his face. It took me hours to get him down. I stayed up most of the night cleaning his injuries as best I could, the whole time fearing that he'll never wake up again from the large wound on his forehead. I was so relieved when he finally woke up during the night. He looked around the room fearfully and then was confused when he saw me next to him."
"My God." was all that Joey could say, "what did he do next?"
"It took me awhile to get him to calm down. I gently placed him in my lap and rubbed circles softly on his bandaged back. After I finally calmed him down I told him how grateful I was for him helping me the other night .I thought he might have been falling asleep but then he suddenly lunged forward wrapped his arms around me and started crying silently in my shirt. I held him as he cried but I was quite surprised. I was told when I first got there by the other slaves that Yugi didn't show his emotions, that he did help people but never got close to anyone. I rubbed his back reassuring him that I was there for him. Unfortunately just as Yugi was finally going to sleep, the guard came in and noticed us together so he grabbed Yugi and dragged him away again. I was so worried that he was going to punish Yugi again and I cried when I heard the sound of the whips. What surprised me the most was that they never came back to do the same to me. He just left me alone. I tried to find Yugi the next day, I found out that he was sold to another master and I never saw him again until today. Where is Yugi anyway?"
Ryou said the last part just to change the subject as he could feel the tears threatening to fall once more.
"I think he's doing his work now." Joey replied, sensing the others need to talk about something else, "you'll probably see him later when he comes in for Pharaoh's dinner."
"I heard that his former master was the worst one yet." Ryou whispered sadly.
"Yeah he was," Joey admitted, "he only gave his slaves the scraps that was left over, that is if they didn't eat it all and they usually did.
"I noticed that. He looked at me quite surprised when I placed his food in front of him."
Both of them stopped talking when they saw the Pharaoh walk into the kitchen. They bowed immediately and waited to be acknowledged.
Yami cleared his throat unsure how to ask about Yugi.
"Follow me." Yami commanded and they followed him obediently.
He led them back to his chambers and motioned for them to enter. Once they were seated he decided to tell them why he brought them here.
"I want to ask you both about Yugi." Yami said. He could tell both boys were shocked at his statement.
"Why?" Joey asked suddenly suspicious of the Pharaoh's change in behavior. Then after receiving a smack from Ryou, he quickly added, "I mean, can I ask why, my Pharaoh."
"I sense something whenever he is around. It makes me want to get to know him better." Yami replied nervously.
Ryou and Joey smiled at each other both thinking the same thing, 'Maybe this is Yugi's chance to finally be happy.'
"What do you want to know, My Pharaoh?" Ryou asked politely.
Yami was thankful that it wasn't as hard as he thought it was going to be. "Well you have been his friends longer and I want him to feel more comfortable around me. I don't want him to be terrified all the time."
"Unfortunately, that we can't help you with My Pharaoh." Ryou replied sadly, "Joey's known him the longest and Yugi won't even open up to him. All I can say is just be nice to him and show him that you care. Just to warn you, he is not used to any gentle contact so he will tense up and he's very afraid of loud or raised voices. I'm sure if you're patient with him he will learn to trust you."
Yami was about to ask another question but stopped when he heard a timid knock on his chamber door.
"Enter." he commanded, a little annoyed that someone had interrupted them. His annoyance disappeared quickly when he saw it was his little slave that entered the room shyly.
'I wonder what they're doing here,' Yugi thought looking at his friends confused, 'Is Master going to send me away? Have I done something wrong?'
"You two have your orders, now go do them." Yami replied to Yugi's unspoken question as Ryou and Joey got up.
They both nodded and went up to Yugi.
"See you at dinner." Joey remarked and Yugi nodded. As they left the room, Yami slowly walked up to Yugi. He noticed sadly that as he approached, Yugi quickly went to his knees, gaze always downward.
"It's okay Yugi, you can get up." Yami said reassuringly, "I'm not going to hurt you anymore and I sincerely apologize for the times that I have."
'Is this real?' Yugi thought as he looked up unsure and confused. 'Or is this another trick?'
Yami could see the uncertain look in his eyes.
"I don't want you to feel afraid around me anymore." Yami replied to Yugi unspoken question, "I don't want to be the cold hearted person that I have been and I won't treat you like your former masters either. You won't be punished for having friends or speaking while you're here and you don't have to worry about being sold away either. Unless you disobey my rules and you have to go pretty far to get sold around here."
Yami watched the internal struggle that Yugi seemed to be having with himself. 'He must have really been hurt by his other masters.' Yami thought.
'I want to believe what master has told me but I've been tricked so many times by my other masters,' Yugi thought. 'I'm so confused. What should I do?'
He nodded his head to show he understood what Yami told him, but he was still unsure about what to do.
'Every time I trust someone they end up hurting me,' Yugi thought, 'the only ones who are still my friends are Malik, Joey and Ryou. Maybe I could trust him also.'
Yugi was unaware that Yami was reading his thoughts, he was too deep in his own to notice.
'That's why he's so reluctant to believe me. I wonder who Malik is?' Yami thought to himself. Yami came back to the present when he heard someone knocking on his door.
"Enter." Yami commanded and smiled when he saw Seto and Joey enter his chambers.
"Hello Yami." Seto replied as he came in. Joey went up to Yugi right away and started talking to him, "care to join us for dinner?"
Yami nodded and glanced over to Yugi.
"Come on Yugi," Joey replied grinning happily, "its dinner time."
"You're always hungry Joey." Seto said laughing, "I swear you have a bottomless pit for a stomach."
Joey looked at his master and grinned, "Hey, I'm a growing boy and I need to eat."
Yami and Seto laughed at Joey. "How about we eat dinner in here tonight." Yami suggested. Everyone agreed. Yami then turned toward Yugi and Joey, "go and get dinner you two." Yami said in a authoritative voice.
"Yes, My Pharaoh." Joey answered. He grabbed Yugi's hand and led him to the kitchen. When they left the room, Seto turned to Yami.
"So?" Seto asked.
"I talked to his friends and heard some disturbing things," Yami started, "I was just talking to Yugi when you guys came in. I heard his thoughts, he wants to trust me but I'm guessing that he's been tricked many times by his former masters."
"I can see why he's not to trusting of people. What did they say you should do?" Seto asked curiously.
"They basically just told me the same thing as you." Yami replied rather annoyed, "the problem is that the other two slaves have known him longer and he is just as quiet and withdrawn to them as with anyone else."
"You'll just have to think of a way to get him to open up and be less scared," Seto said, "it won't be easy, but I'm sure you can think of something."
Yami looked around the room and then got an idea, "well I could probably start with getting him a new bed," Yami stated, "that might help a little bit."
Seto in approval, he was going to say something else but a timid knock at the door stopped him.
"Enter," replied Yami.
The door opened slowly and three people walked in. Yami was surprised to see that Ryou had come with them.
"Why are you here?" Yami asked curiously.
"I was helping Yugi and Joey carry the food back here, My Pharaoh." replied Ryou as he walked over to the table and set the trays down.
Yugi followed behind him and was just about to set the tray down, when he suddenly tripped on the edge of the rug. The tray landed with a loud bang as it hit the ground followed closely by Yugi. He scrambled quickly to his knees, fearfully keeping his head bowed down. He tensed as he waited for the feel of the whip or whatever else his master decided to use on him.
"Yugi!" Joey exclaimed running toward the small boy, "are you alright?"
Yugi looked up fearfully and nodded his head at Joey, then he glanced at his master and was surprised that he didn't see anger in his eyes. Ryou walked up behind Yugi and helped him to his feet. Yugi was very hesitant, 'why is he helping me up, my master hasn't told me to stand yet.'
Yami noticed the way Yugi was very hesitant to stand and, reading his thoughts, he knew why, "It's okay Yugi," he said calmly, "you can stand up."
Yugi looked up surprised, getting quickly to his feet. He looked at his master confused as to why he wasn't being punished but when he noticed his master looking back, he quickly lowered his head once again.
'Why is he not punishing me?' Yugi thought as he watched his master approaching him, 'All my other masters would of severely punished me for dropping the food.'
Yami approached Yugi slowly, "its alright, Yugi." Yami replied calmly, "you're not going to get punished just for dropping the tray."
Seto was shocked, he had seen Yami punish people for doing that and other small things. 'He must really like Yugi,' Seto smiled at the thought, 'I hope so, maybe Yugi can help melt Yami's cold heart and show him compassion and love that not even his own parents had shown him.'
Yugi looked up at Yami questioningly wondering if he had really heard him correctly, but when Yami smiled at him he quickly lowered his head again.
"You..um Ryou," Yami said unsure, "go and get another tray of food."
Ryou nodded his head and bowed, "Yes, Your highness."
Ryou then left the room quickly to get some more food. 'Wow, I can't believe how nice the Pharaoh is being,' he thought to himself, 'he must really like Yugi. I hope so, with the life that Yugi has had he deserves to have some happiness in it for once.' Ryou entered the kitchen and started preparing two more plates of food, then he quickly returned to the Pharaoh's chambers and set the food on the table.
Everyone sat down and started eating. Yami and Seto were talking about a ceremony that was taking place soon while Joey and Ryou were talking about things they used to do together when they were younger. Yami stopped talking to Seto and glanced around the table. He was surprised to see that Yugi has not touched his food and he still kept his gaze on the table.
"Yugi is there something wrong with the food?" Yami asked, "why are you not eating?"
"A slave is not allowed to eat at the same time as their master." Joey answered Pharaoh, "that was one of the rules that our former master had." Then he turned to Yugi, "You are allowed to eat with your master here Yugi, you don't have to wait until their finished."
Yugi looked up, 'but I had to wait earlier when Pharaoh ate his lunch,' he thought confused, 'why is it okay now but not then?'
Yami read his mind and quickly understood his confusion, "if you're invited to sit with your master during a meal then you may eat with them."
/What are you talking about?/ Seto asked.
[I made him wait until I was finished eating before I sent him to the kitchen for his own food] Yami replied, [I was angry at him for being late, I didn't think. OK?]
/Well, you need to control your anger Yami/ Seto reminded his friend /Especially if you want the little one to trust you/
[I know] Yami sighed in defeat, he knew that his friend was right
Yugi, not noticing the exchange between his Master and the Sorcerer, nodded his head and slowly ate his lunch, he kept looking up as if he was expecting someone to hit him for doing something wrong. When he received no hits or yelling he continued eating.
When dinner was over, the three slaves started balancing the plates back onto the trays. As they headed out the door, Yami stopped them.
"When you're done putting the dishes in the kitchen you may take a break," Yami replied, "just be back at your chambers before Ra sets, Understand?"
Ryou and Joey smiled at each other and grabbed Yugi's hand and quickly set off for the kitchen.
Seto looked at Yami, "I have never seen you give a slave time off," Seto commented astonished, "and I have known you your entire life."
"I really can't believe it either," Yami admitted, "is it possible to fall in love with someone that you've only known for a short period of time?"
"Yes it is," Seto answered smiling, "its called love at first sight, its how I felt when I saw Joey for the first time."
"Was he just like Yugi?" Yami asked curiously, not really knowing much about his friends slave.
"He wasn't like Yugi, actually he was the exact opposite." replied Seto with a smile, "he would always talk back and had a very smart mouth."
"How did you eventually get through to him?" asked Yami, interested in hearing more.
"It took awhile," Seto admitted, "I just did pretty much the same things that you're doing. I'm afraid that with Yugi's past and untrusting nature, it might take a little longer."
Yami saddened at that and was about to reply when he noticed that Joey had returned. Joey walked up to them and bowed his head.
"If I may speak freely, its not part of Yugi's nature to be untrusting," Joey replied sadly, "he used to be very trusting even to people he just met, but some of his masters used that against him and now he's too scared to trust someone again. I think that's why even though we're friends, he still thinks that we will betray him."
"How long have you known him?" Seto asked.
"Um, I'm not exactly sure," Joey answered, "we had the same master for about 5 years and its been at least two since I last saw him."
"What was that master like?" Yami asked curiously.
"He was the worst one I had had up to that point, but from what I heard, some of the ones Yugi had were worse." Joey shuddered at that thought, "he also had the no speaking rule and you got punished for every little thing that you did. He especially hated when the slaves would start becoming friends, anyone who did was sold away very quickly."
"Why didn't they like the slaves to talk?" asked Yami suddenly, still confused about that particular rule their former master's seemed to like, "what is the harm in that if they still do as their told."
"He was afraid that there would be an uprising and even though we were weaker, we still outnumbered him and I think that made him uneasy."
"How did you finally meet him?" Seto asked.
"He saved me from a punishment. I had just arrived there and was smarting off to the guards. The first time I saw Yugi, he was hiding behind one of the slave shacks watching me with an almost awed expression on his face. I didn't think much about it until the guard followed my line of vision and saw the boy. He quickly forgot about me and started yelling as he chased the younger boy down but I don't know what for." Joey replied, "I decided to follow them just to find out what was going on. It took me almost two days to find him and when I did, I found him in a dark dungeon and he was chained to a wall. It looked like he was beaten every minute that he was missing. I saw the gratitude in his eyes as I helped him down even though his facial expression stayed the same. I was the only one that ever saw something other than fear in his eyes. I was surprised to hear from Ryou that Yugi cried after Ryou had saved him. I'm just happy that he finally is starting to feel more comfortable around others. I just wanted to tell you that maybe it might not take that long Pharaoh for him to open up to you also."
"You really think so?" Yami asked.
"Yeah I do," admitted Joey, "he is still a little unsure about you, but I can see in his eyes that he wants to trust you. It still might take awhile, but so far your doing a good job. Well I better get back before Ryou and Yugi start to wonder where I went."
"Thanks for the help and advice," Yami admitted uneasily, "I appreciate it."
Joey bowed his head and walked to the door, he turned around and smiled before quietly closing it behind him.
Seto returned the smile to Joey and looked at Yami amazed, "I have never heard you thank a slave," he said, "I think that Yugi coming into your life was destined by the gods. I have never seen you so happy."
Yami looked at his friend and smiled in return, "You know Seto, I think you may be right."
Yami stood up and headed toward the door, "Come on, lets get a nicer bed for Yugi to sleep on."
Yami and Seto had the bed set up and made by the time Yugi and Joey had returned to the Pharaoh's chambers.
'Where did my bed go?' Yugi wondered as he looked around the room confused before he finally looked questioningly at Yami.
"This is for you," Yami replied to Yugi's unspoken question, "that way you don't have to sleep on the floor."
Yugi walked up to the bed cautiously and couldn't believe his eyes. 'Why would he get me a bed?' Yugi thought still very confused, 'slaves are not supposed to have beds, my other masters always said that I was lucky enough just to get the rags that I slept on.'
"Well come on Joey," Seto said, "its getting late we should be going now."
Joey nodded his head and walked up to Yugi who was still staring from the bed to Yami and then back again. He put his hand on Yugi's shoulder and saddened when he felt Yugi jump.
He leaned down and whispered, "life here is very different from what you have known. The Pharaoh is trying to be your friend, please let him and remember that Ryou and I are your friends also. We love you little brother, and you don't have to be afraid anymore."
Yugi looked up at Joey surprised then he smiled as he nodded his head. Joey returned the smile and gave him a hug, he was elated that Yugi didn't flinch or tense up at the touch.
"Good night Pharaoh," Joey said out loud, "Good night Yugi, remember what I said."
Yugi nodded his head again and Yami replied, "Good night you two, see you tomorrow."
Seto and Joey left the room and Yugi returned to looking at the bed.
"Well," Yami said, "first off, we'll take a bath. Then go to bed."
Yugi started trembling a the mention of a bath, but still fearfully followed. As Yami started getting undressed, Yugi started to shiver even more.
'Now he will become like all my other masters.' Yugi thought sadly,'he was only pretending to be nice.'
Yami was about to get into the water when he glanced over and noticed Yugi's trembling.
"Are you okay?" Yami asked him concerned.
Yugi didn't even raise his head, 'I knew it was too good to be true,' thought Yugi as he backed up in the corner and slid down the wall bringing his knees to his chest.
Yami walked up to him slowly and kneeled down in front of him. He put his hand on Yugi's shoulder and Yugi started trembling worse. Nothing Yami tried was helping and he was starting to get worried so he decided to ask Seto about it.
[Seto I need you and Joey to come here as soon as possible]
/Why, what's wrong?/ Seto asked concerned.
[I was about to take a bath but Yugi started shaking and now he's on the ground trembling like crazy ] Yami replied.
/We're on our way now./ replied Seto.
Yami was relieved when he heard Seto and Joey enter his room, he was surprised to see Ryou with them. Joey immediately went over to Yugi to try and calm him down while Ryou asked Yami to join him in the next room.
"What happened Pharaoh?" Ryou asked, worry for his friend clearly seen in his bright brown eyes.
"All I was going to do was take a bath," Yami explained, "and Yugi just started freaking out and I don't know why."
Ryou lowered his head and sighed sadly, "I know why, My Pharaoh," he replied, "The master that we had together used to do things to him."
"What kinds of things?" Yami asked, not sure if he really wanted to hear the answer.
Ryou paused, unable to answer as tears came to his eyes.
"He liked to molest the younger children in the bathing chambers," Ryou replied hesitantly, "so when you said take a bath, he must of had a flashback."
"A flashback? No wonder he was so frightened," Yami said, "that's not at all what I meant."
"I know that, My Pharaoh." said Ryou reassuring the Pharaoh, "but to Yugi he thought of his former master and he had no idea what you meant. I just wanted you to know what happened."
"I appreciate you telling me this. Does he have flashbacks often?" Yami asked suddenly not wanting to set off another one.
"I honestly don't know my Pharaoh," Ryou replied softly, "its been many years since I last saw him."
"I see," Yami said, "lets see if they calmed Yugi down yet."
As they entered the bathhouse, Yami was saddened to see that Yugi was still shaking on the floor. Joey was kneeling in front of him, whispering comforting words to him.
"Its okay Yugi," Joey whispered, "I know what Omoro and our other masters did, but that's not what Pharaoh meant when he said take a bath. He wouldn't do that to you."
'But how can I be sure,' Yugi thought, 'how can I trust him?'
Yugi looked up tearfully and leaned closer to Joey. He hid his face in Joey's shirt and started to cry. Joey, startled, wrapped his arms around the small boy and held him as he continued to cry. When Yugi had finally calmed down and fell asleep, Joey picked up the small boy and carried him out of the bathhouse. He gently placed him on his bed and then turned back to the Pharaoh and his master.
"How is he?" Yami asked concerned as he stood by the side of the bed, looking worriedly at the small boy..
"He'll be alright now," Joey replied, gently brushing the bangs away from his little brother's eyes, "Our former masters were very cruel, they especially liked the younger boys and he thought you were going to do the things that they did."
"Well since everything is alright now, we should get back to my chambers." Seto replied, still standing in the open doorway, "Good night Yami."
"Thanks guys," replied Yami gratefully, "See you guys in the morning."
Seto, Joey and Ryou left the room and Yami glanced sadly at the now sleeping boy.
'What terrible things have they done to you,' Yami thought to himself as he sat on the edge of the bed, 'I would never hurt you the way that they have.'
With that promise Yami took one more look at Yugi before climbing into his own bed. His last thoughts were of Yugi before he finally fell asleep.