"Love, lust; kissing, snogging; making love, sex… it's the same thing, really, isn't it?"

So this started after some people reviewed 'From the Moment After' and asked how Yuugi had been so experienced. I knew even back then, and it seemed a bit of a joke, to me. But hey. I can make angst out of any joke, and the story kind of spiraled anyway, when I was thinking about Bakura and Ryou… So here we are. Warnings of both shounen-ai and het, and most probably that you require a bit of an intelligent imagination. I wish you luck.

The three of them blinked, staring back at Yuugi in surprise.

A moment passed, Yuugi folding his arms in obvious indignation, before Yami slowly turned toward Anzu, standing silently off to the side, an innocent grin frozen across her features. Another second of silence crept by before he took a step forward. "You."

"What about her?" snapped Yuugi, his eyes narrowing. "She was about the fourteenth, thank you."

Yami choked, and both Jounouchi and Honda's eyes bugged out, every stare spinning back to the small boy. He just glared at them all in turn, scowling when Anzu looked away. His arms folded more tightly across his chest, and he looked back at Yami. "Don't go blaming her for anything but breaking my Gameboy in fifth grade."

"But- but- Yuugi!" cried Jounouchi, finally finding his tongue, walking forward with his arms spread imploringly, as if this were some huge joke he were playing. "You can't have… have kissed that many-"

"I haven't," he snapped.

"But you just said-" began Honda, before Anzu shifted uncomfortably.

"He hasn't kissed many people, but…" she sighed, looking away again. "He's been kissed more times than I can remember."

"What's the difference?" demanded Jounouchi, roughly.

Yami's eyes widened, slowly sliding back to Yuugi, who just gave them a harsh look in return. Obviously, he was offended. Whether it was by the fact that Jounouchi and Honda had assumed he'd never experienced a girl-guy hug, let alone a kiss, or whether it was the topic of conversation in general, they weren't sure. Yami didn't particularly care. He wanted to know whatever it was he apparently didn't know about his aibou.

"Should we tell-?" began Anzu, cutting off when Yuugi looked back at her. She turned away, holding her arm. "Should we tell them?"

"If it'll make them realise I'm not some little kid that doesn't know anything," he snapped. "But you tell them. I'm getting a drink."

Jounouchi winced, stepping back as Yuugi stalked past. Yuugi had always been kind of sensitive about the fact he was regularly confused with a ten year-old… must've hurt to hear it from his friends…

After he left the room, Yami waited a grand total of two seconds before stalking across the room to Anzu. "Now. What the hell are you talking about? And it had better be good."

The glass smashed, and Ryou cringed, his shoulders rising as it shattered, bouncing and falling in a dangerous shower over the bowl he'd just dropped his keys in.

Well, now, this was an interesting scene to come home to. Bakura was standing in the middle of the hall, panting, teeth bared as he glared around the room; his shirt was half hanging off his shoulder, a good chunk of his long hair missing, as if it had been cut off by a blind sheep shearer. Ryou licked his lips, slowly pulling off his jacket. No sudden movements, and he might be able to calm him down.

"I'm home," he said quietly, and Bakura's eyes, strangely pale in the light, snapped toward him. "Good afternoon, Bakura."

"What do you want?" he ground out, teeth clenched.

He smiled tentatively, nodding his head. "I was thinking about-"

"Thinking," he snarled. "Always thinking, aren't you? Always thinking, and planning, and coming up with new ways to get to me."

He stiffened, his chin rising slightly. If he showed weakness, that would just make him angrier. If he was proud, and tall, and strong… if he was like Bakura, he'd be fine.

"Oh, look, there you go, putting on your tough look for all the world!" he scoffed, waving a wild hand at Ryou's posture. "Oh, no, you're not scared of the dark, or enclosed spaces, oh no, you're just fine and powerful, see if anyone can get through to you!"

Ryou balked, frowning as he watched him. "Bakura?"

"Don't care about your memory, now, do you?" he snapped, moving quickly forward and forcing Ryou to stumble back. "Don't care that you don't know who the hell you really were! No, all you care about is power. Ooh, careful, don't falter, or the pharaoh might seem some kind of weakness! Or worse, I might! Even better, watch out, or Ryou might see you for what you really are, you pathetic little fuck!"

Ryou squeaked, falling over his feet until his back hit the door, and he straightened again, pressing himself into the wood as Bakura continued forward. "Bakura! Bakura, it's me. It's Ryou."

"Don't you try and hide behind that lie, you camouflaged pile of garbage!" he shouted, swinging back his fist. "You aren't little Ryou, and no one's ever gonna believe you are!"

"Bakura!" he shouted, raising his hands. "Bakura, stop!"

"Weak!" he yelled, his fist crashing down in the space Ryou had been. He whirled around, glaring as Ryou hurried down the hall, staring back at him fearfully. "You fucking coward!"

"Bakura, please! Please, I'm sorry!" he cried, struggling with a door, watching Bakura stalk toward him. "Whatever I did, I'm sorry, and I swear I won't do it again, I-!"

"Always running away from everything!" he shouted. "You're always hiding! When are you going to learn your lesson, and figure out that you can't run away from yourself?!"

Ryou managed to force the door open but too late. Bakura's fist slammed into the side of his head, sending him sliding into the room, landing painfully in front of the back of the chair. Ryou sobbed dryly, balling his hands into fists. Why did this always happen to him? Why couldn't he have the perfect life? Why couldn't he have Yuugi's world? Why did he have to-?

His collar was suddenly yanked around, cutting into his neck as Bakura hauled him up, only to punch him in the gut, right over the couch, hitting his arm and scraping his back on the coffee table. He yelled, barely noticing the empty coffee cup and magazine fall around him. "Stop it!"

"Stop what, you screwed up excuse for a pickpocket?" he shouted, clambering over the couch. "Stop pointing out how goddamned pathetic you are?"

"No! I know that!" he cried, curling further into his ball. "Bakura, I know that! I'm sorry!"

"Sorry for what?" he snarled, pulling him back up by the shirt. "Sorry for what?"

He opened his eyes wide, and Bakura froze, staring back at him in shock. Seconds slid by, before Bakura opened his mouth, blinking. "Ryou?"

He nodded quickly, and a slow sneer spread over Bakura's lips. "Ryou…"


"You poor excuse for a hikari," he hissed, sliding back onto his knees and pulling Ryou to his. "You know, you're supposed to be all brightness and sunshine."

He swallowed hard, his gaze darting from one pale eye to the other. "Bakura, what was-?"

"I could almost mistake you for me," he whispered harshly, and Ryou blinked in confusion. What was that supposed to mean?

But before he could think too far on this, Bakura's grip on Ryou's collar tightened, and he twisted it, so the fabric cut into his neck again. Ryou choked, his mouth jerking in search of air. "Ba… k-ku…"

"Lucky you're not," he said, before yanking him further up. "Or maybe for you… Too bad you aren't. Then I'd have an excuse not to take you," he informed him quietly, and Ryou stared at him, barely understanding through the grip on his neck.

"S-st- s-"

Bakura grinned maliciously, and the pressure on Ryou's throat disappeared, only to be replaced by something else.

It was so much hotter, wetter, more terrifying. In his mouth.

Three or four years ago, I guess it was.

We were thirteen, that first summer, and Yuugi had been practically ordered to go by his father. He said a camp with a group of strange kids would be a good experience. That it would be a chance to be who he was, without any past to ruin it for him.

What he obviously didn't notice was the fact it's not Yuugi's past that's his problem.

But, regardless, Yuugi was forced into going, and he begged me to come along with him, just so he would have someone to look at without being scared of retaliation.

Would you all calm down? He'll get in a worse mood if you go all macho-protective on him.

So we went… and although I met some nice people, I preferred to hang out with Yuugi. He was the only one without hormones going at full throttle, and if he was, he was keeping it to himself. But, even so, we had to separate at night, when girls and boys got split up for sleep.

This is where the problem started. Yuugi's not stupid enough to sleep in dorm full of fourteen guys all intent on torturing him. Every night, after the camp leaders had made sure everyone was 'asleep', he would sneak out and spend the night just walking around, until it was late enough that the guys really would be asleep. Problem was that the only place he could really go without the leaders seeing him was the back of the wood, near the girl's dorm. Only he didn't know how close he was, so he hung out there, completely unaware that we were all awake and that Yuki Kojimi was watching him.

Now, you know how girls are at thirteen. We're completely pathetic, and we want to be like the drama stars on TV. We want to be doing stuff no one in their right mind really does. So, on the second night, we were playing truth or dare, and Yuki dared… Michiko Tonpuson, I think… to go and find a guy, and kiss him. Then she pointed out Yuugi, who was stupidly taking that moment to stare at the moon, and his hair was doing that whole sparkly black thing it does, with the wind blowing, and… It seemed the most obvious dare in the world.

And when she came back, saying how much fun it was- cause Yuugi had been so shocked he'd just stood there until it was over- a lot of girls kind of… took it beyond a joke. About the third time, Yuugi finally reacted, and demanded to know what was going on, but Jeri, the girl, just said it was his own fault and he would just have to learn to live with it.

Okay, wait… did you just growl? Sorry, continuing…

Yuugi just took the whole thing for some kind of once off, and didn't bother to think about it too much. But then it was Yuki's turn, and she snuck up on him again. Thing is, her mother let her watch the adult shows, and she knew kissing was more than bumping lips. The weird thing was that Yuugi didn't run off, but just completely froze. He literally didn't move for five minutes. Eventually, I went out there to talk to him, but he chose that moment to run off…

But when the leaders didn't find out about it, some of the girls started thinking… you know, maybe he didn't really mind. We already knew guys were supposedly all for anything they can get from a girl, so… But after Kano kissed Yuugi when he was hiding under the boys' dormitory, rather than in the woods, Rei decided to take charge and call it off.

But Rei wasn't at camp the next year. And Yuki had gotten better at what she did best.

That time I know you just growled. And you, knock it off before your teeth get ground down to stubs.

No! You just don't get it, do you? We thought it was some kind of game, and Yuugi wasn't complaining… I found out later it was because he thought it was some girl-form of teasing, and if he did complain it would get worse, but that's beside the point! We didn't know any better!

Well, I obviously am now! It was terrible, I know, I feel guilty about it every time someone says the word 'kiss'.

I hate it. I know what we did. It was wrong. But none of that matters anymore.

It was three years ago, we don't talk about it.

I don't think he understands what we did to him. Worse, I don't think he cares. The point is, it happened, he's experienced in the lip lock, and you three are not helping his esteem by assuming he doesn't know what these things are for.

Now would you leave me alone, I need to go… go have a shower, or something…

Just… leave me alone…


Kaiba didn't raise his eyes from the computer, still tapping at the keyboard wearily. He'd been at it since coming home from school the day before, with barely an hour's sleep over the thirty-hour period. But he still had the weekly Industrial Illusions copyright mess to sort out, and then he needed to figure out what he was going to say to Mokuba's teachers tomorrow… how that kid managed to get himself suspended twice in one day was beyond his ability to comprehend, but it was enough…

"Kaiba-sama?" repeated the husky voice, and a pale hand appeared beside his laptop.

"I heard you the first time. I was waiting for your explanation of why you chose to interrupt my work," he snapped, refusing to look at her. He knew who it was. He didn't need to hear her voice, or see the hand. He could tell by that perfume… the spicy, exotic scent she'd started wearing since Ishizu Ishtahl last came to visit. He could tell by the timing of the swish of her stockings… a perfect rhythm, and a strong stride. He could tell by the sensual confidence that just filled the room when the door snapped shut.

But he couldn't afford to look at her.

"I just want you to know that I've finished my reports," she said, and he could sense more than hear the long swish of her ponytail sliding back over her shoulder. "I'm free for… anything more you would like me to do for you."

He paused, tired eyes finally surrendering to temptation and rising to her neck, taking in the delicate chain, swinging slightly as her hand rubbed her neck enticingly. "Really."

"Yes, Kaiba-sama," she breathed, her hand trailing down her neckline.

He tapped a finger against his desk, eyes still on the golden necklace. "Is there something wrong, or are you just out of breath?"

"Out of breath, sir," she said quietly. "I'm kind of… hot, tonight."

He swallowed, but she couldn't tell. They could never tell. Only Yuugi could tell when he was nervous, and he could read Yami's emotions, of all people.

"Do you mind if I take off my jacket, Kaiba-sama?" she asked, her voice suddenly innocent.

"As long as you take it with you on your way out," he said, apparently careless.

The blazer fell to the floor, and Kaiba finally raised his eyes to her face, meeting the grey eyes with effort. "And what, Secretary, makes you think you can parade around without a blouse or brassiere on in the building of my company?"

She just smiled, her hand rising back to her neck. "I was hoping you could let it… go. Just tonight. That's all I'm asking for."

Seto Kaiba's laptop finally closed with a quiet click, and it echoed around the silent office like a gunshot.

Jounouchi folded his arms behind his head, sinking back against the pillows with a sigh.

Talk about your realisations.

Anzu was right, when you got down to it… No matter how mature he was, it was easy to think of Yuugi as some little kid. It was impossible to think of him as some kind of…

Swapping porn was one thing, but to actually have done anything… even if it was just a few dozen kisses…

He blinked slowly, listening to his father stumble painfully against the wall outside his door. After the chorus of swearing had passed, he wondered absently just how many kisses it had been.

And Yuugi, of all people…

Made some sick kind of sense, though. Yuugi was the class loser back then; it would've been a great joke if you didn't like the guy. Make him out to be some kind of toy for the girls to play with. Maybe point out that he can't even stand up to a group of girls. The hidden bully in Jounouchi's mind started planning out all the mean things he could have done, if he'd known.

But now he did know… and it wasn't funny.

Kind of sick.

Really depressing.

Little Yuugi had been kissed way before him. By heaps of girls. More than once. That meant Yuugi was better at it than him. He'd only been kissed once, and it had been more of a fluke than anything… It had only been one night, in Battle City… a victory meeting between him and Mai.

He scowled, rolling onto his side. Not that he held it against him really, but damn, did he get sick of Yuugi being better than him at everything!

Yuugi was a better Duelist, he was nicer, he was a better friend, he was smarter, and in a lot of ways he was stronger than even Yami.

Jounouchi growled, punching his pillow in annoyance. This had been the one thing he had over Yuugi! He had been kissed! Girls checked him out in the courtyard at school- everyone knew it- even Anzu admitted it! He was better looking, and he was more manly. It was the one thing he could support Yuugi in, and make him feel better about. The one thing he could say 'hey, it doesn't matter man, believe me, I know' about.

And now it turned out Yuugi knew better than he did that it didn't matter!

And he'd been so cool about it, like it didn't matter! Like kissing girls was nothing! Like it was all some piece of old news, or a toy he'd gotten sick of already!

When Jounouchi had gotten back from meeting Mai that night, it had been all he could do not to run into Yuugi's room and tell him everything. How it felt to feel that warm weight in his arms, those supple lips, the guiding hands… how amazing it was, that first kiss, and then the first tongue, and then the first breast… If it hadn't been for all the stress Yuugi was under, he would've demanded they stay up all night, and relive the entire experience.

To him, kissing Mai had been the start of his new life as an even better person.

It made him better. Stronger. Cooler.

Would Yuugi have even cared?

Yami wouldn't have. If he'd been in control when he'd come in, Jounouchi would've been flayed alive for bothering them with such insignificant dribble.

Yuugi would've pretended to care. Yuugi would've acted like he was jealous, but still supportive and kind of proud… same way he did when Jounouchi beat him in that History exam.

But that's all it probably was to him, really. Just another insignificant event in a long line of insignificant events.

Maybe kissing wasn't such a big deal…

Maybe it wasn't something to be proud of…

Maybe it was just another layer of Mai's lipstick lost to the ages…

Several moments passed as Jounouchi considered this, listening silently to his father fall around the bathroom, swearing and slurring insults at the bath. Something hit the wall, and he jerked, his eyes softening slightly.

No… no, it had been something else. That last, long kiss with Mai had meant something, he knew it. He could see it in her eyes, before she lost the duel to Marik.

He smiled humourlessly, half-disgusted satisfaction biting at his subconscious. He still had one up on Yuugi.

Yuugi may have been kissed more. But at least Jounouchi had done it right.

Another textbook slammed against the wall before thumping heavily on the desk, making the ridiculous little alarm clock shudder dangerously.

Yami glanced up at the quiet ting of an arm hitting the bell, but otherwise didn't react to Yuugi's furious 'clean up'. He'd come in while Yuugi was having a shower, intent on discussing what Anzu had revealed, but had since lost himself in his thoughts. Now he was more concerned with figuring out his own mystery than Yuugi.

He couldn't remember his own first kiss.

He couldn't remember anything of his personal life.

A third textbook hit the desk, but it knocked straight into the alarm clock, and sent it flying onto the headboard, where it bounced and fell against Yami's shoulder. He frowned at it for a moment, reaching around to hold it.

He remembered a great deal about his time as pharaoh. He knew the customs, the gods, the laws, his duties… he even remembered that he was technically related to Seto Kaiba, and that the puzzle was made with the blood of a village.

But he couldn't for the life of him remember anything about himself.

It wasn't that it wasn't there to remember… he knew, in the back of his mind, that as pharaoh, it would have been shameful to have not been well versed in that particular area of his education.

So why couldn't he…?

He glanced up at Yuugi, who was currently bent over the dresser, muttering as he shoved clothes left and right, searching for something Yami wasn't sure was even there. Yuugi let out a yell of exasperation, falling back to kick the drawer closed, and Yami smiled softly as he folded his arms and legs, hunched over and scowling at the drawer.

There was something about him when he got like this… when his cheeks puffed out like that and his eyes narrowed in an adorable parody of a glare… Not that Yami would ever admit to thinking it, especially not to Yuugi, but it just made him look all the more… cute.

He lowered his eyes to the clock in his hands, his thumbs sliding over the arms.

The clock hardly the most childish thing Yuugi owned… the stuffed kuribo, or the star spangled pajamas maybe, the 'magic' 8-ball he relied on for test results, or the strange toy that shot rockets into the air, or perhaps even the 500-piece puzzle he solved whenever his self-esteem hit rock bottom…

But Yami couldn't see them as childish… he saw them all as Yuugi-ish…

They all made him smile…

Like when Yuugi's puppy-dog eyes came out in full swing, or he started to pout because Yami wouldn't tell him something.

Which was strange… he didn't tolerate that sort of thing in other people.

Like when Yuugi curled up against his side, arms wrapped around his own, head resting on his shoulder… he didn't complain. Sometimes he would even shift to put an arm around him.


Yuugi didn't like to admit he could cook. He hated admitting to any commonly accepted 'feminine' traits. But all Yami had to do was comment he was peckish, and Yuugi would fill a kitchen.


The human body didn't bother Yami. The entire world could walk around naked, and aside from wondering about the cold, he wouldn't bat an eyelid. A bare leg embarrassed Yuugi. Yami often told him he was being ridiculous.

So why was it that when Yuugi got caught in a rainstorm, his shirt clinging to his frame, or when he emerged from the bathroom wrapped only in a towel or boxers… why did Yami's stomach twist, and his ears heat up?

He sighed inwardly, sitting up against the headboard. Too many questions without any real answers. But probing questions like this were Yuugi's specialty.

"Aibou," he began.

"I don't want to talk about it, Yami. It's not important, so just forget it, okay?"

He raised his eyebrows, surprised. "Forget what?"

Yuugi's head rolled around to meet his gaze, unamused. Yami frowned, completely lost for several seconds before realisation dawned on him. Oh, yes… he'd come in here to talk about that. Well, it was probably easier to talk about than what he'd been going to… "Anzu told me what happened to you."

"What happened to me?" he repeated, his eyes widening again. "You make it sound like a bad thing!"

"It is, and you know it," he said quietly. "Don't pretend like it's nothing, Yuugi."

"But it was nothing," he said firmly, leaning back on his hands. "It was just a game. A stupid trick to make fun of the class loser."

He couldn't stop the growl that rumbled out at that one. Yuugi ignored it, but Yami shook his head, watching him carefully. "They stole-"

"They didn't steal anything!" he snapped, pushing himself to his feet. "They gave me something, and to tell you the truth, I'm kind of grateful, here!"


"Yami, stop being you for a second and think," he said loudly, holding out his hands, as if to stop him from moving. "In three months and six days, I will be eighteen. Do you know how embarrassing it is to be almost eighteen and have the entire world think you don't know a thing about sex? Or even understand what a kiss is? Do you understand what that's like?"

"No, I don't, but that's not what this is-"

"Would you shut up and think?" he cried. "Look at me! Just… just look at me for a second! Not as my yami, not as my friend, but as a person. Look at me."

He rolled his eyes, hand on his hip. "I am looking at you."

"No, you're not!" he snapped, and spread his arms, barely noticing the slightly too long arms fly over his hands. "Just look, Yami. Who do you think is ever going to look at this and think 'wow, I'd like to be with him for a night'? Who is ever gonna look at me and wonder if I'm going out with someone?"

"What are you-?"

"Wel, look at me! I have… I have huge feet. You are bigger than me, we should not be able to wear the same shoe size! And my eyes are even more out of proportion than them! They are big and wide and the wrong colour! And my hair is even worse than yours! At least yours looks like it sticks up because it's a mess! Mine looks like I gel it into perfect line! And… and I'm so freakishly pale that even Westerners think I'm one of them! And… would you just look at me?"

Yami frowned, turning away as Yuugi pulled his pajama shirt taut against his sides. "Look! I'm either too thin or fat!" he cried, poking his cheek angrily. "Who has puppy fat at seventeen?"


"And that's not even mentioning the fact I can easy pass for a ten year old!" he added. "Now, Yami, here. Come on and tell me. Who or what in their right mind would honestly be interested in me as anything more than a friend?"

He fell silent, brow furrowing as he thought over Yuugi's description. A moment passed, before he moved forward, shaking his head. "Aibou, I've never thought of you like that."

"Oh yeah?" he snapped, glaring at him. "So what do I look like to you, then, huh? Your aibou? Your partner? Your light?"

"No…" he said slowly. "I've always thought you were too thin… that you needed to eat more. I've always thought your skin was pale, but you are not a Westerner. You have snow for skin, and that is all. I never even noticed your feet, but even so, there are many people that say big feet is a good thing."

Yuugi blinked, a blush quickly spreading across his cheeks. "Yami!"

He just smirked, reaching up to run a gentle hand through Yuugi's hair. "Your hair is soft and smooth, not gelled. It's just too thick for its own good," he added, and Yuugi rolled his eyes, earning a soft chuckle from Yami. "Aibou, you are not a freak, nor are you strange. You are beautiful, and anyone who says otherwise is blinded by their own ugliness."

He snorted, looking away. "You managed to skirt around the eyes, I notice."

"Your eyes," he continued firmly, snatching Yuugi's chin to catch his gaze. "Are everything I admire about you. Oversized or not. And I am not one to talk about strange colouring."

He giggled, and Yami smirked, cupping his cheek. "Don't ever let me hear you using your appearance as an excuse to belittle yourself again. Or there will be hell to pay."

"Yeah, but…" his smile faded, and he gazed up at him seriously. "I'm still never gonna be anything but a friend to anybody."

"You aren't my friend," he whispered, rubbing his thumb along Yuugi's cheekbone. "You're my aibou."

"Same thing."

"No, it isn't…" he said softly, before he stiffened, frowning as Yuugi blinked.

It wasn't the same thing.

It never had been.


All Yami's questions came rushing back to him. His memory, the present problems, the reason he had been willing to seriously maim Anzu when he thought she was the one responsible for Yuugi ever being kissed… it all had the same answer.

Then there was the question… how far did 'aibou' go?


"Yuugi, I…"

He stopped again, suddenly apprehensive. If they… but then, what if he was wrong? Nothing could ever be the same.

He never wanted to lose Yuugi… never wanted to lose what they had… and if he was wrong, then…

"Yami, are you alright?" asked Yuugi, staring at him. "What were you going to say?"

He flinched, turning his eyes back to meet his gaze. "I…"

"Yami?" Yuugi frowned, peering up at him in concern. "You can tell me. Please."

He just smiled, smoothing the gold of Yuugi's hair back into the red, before leaning forward, gently pressing his lips to Yuugi's forehead in a long, lingering kiss. The only kiss he could afford to risk.

"Yami?" repeated Yuugi, blinking as he pulled away. "What's wrong?"

He just smiled, moving around to the door. "Go to bed aibou. You have school in the morning."


Yami shut the door behind him, leaning back against it with a sigh.

It wasn't worth the risk.