By: Azurite
azurite AT seventh-star DOT net
Site: seventh-star DOT net
Edited: August 16, 2011

The Need To Know: Aside from the obvious (I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh), this oneshot (meaning, it will NOT be continued) is based off a short scene in Volume 38, or the final volume of the Yu-Gi-Oh manga. Consider this your first, last, and ONLY spoiler warning. The scene in question is Battle 337, "Down the Nile," followed by Battle 338, "The Ceremonial Battle!", Battle 339, "Yuugi vs. Atemu," Battle 340, "Strong Feeling," Battle 341, "Versus The Strongest Servant," and Final Battle: "The King of Games."

Oh yes, and it's implied Yuugi/Anzu. Shocking isn't it? Okay, now put your eyeballs back in their sockets. Thanks.

Oh, and on the Atem vs. Atemu thing, I've kind of given up at this point. No, it's not proper Egyptian, but no one said Kazuki Takahashi did much studying on ancient Egyptian nomenclature, anyway. I find both names acceptable.

"Yuugi, is it okay if I come in?"

Night fell on Egypt some hours ago, but the air remained warm and dry. Everyone was aboard the yacht the Ishtars rented for the purposes of picking up Yuugi and his friends at the Cairo International Airport. From there, they departed down the ancient Nile River, to a place where a "ceremonial battle" would take place...

"Anzu?" Yuugi looked up from the table where his Duel Monsters cards were spread out in a haphazard array; he knew he had to prepare a good deck for the final battle. He knew it had to happen sooner or later. And now, the time was almost upon him.

"Uhm…I just wanted to tell you we'll be reaching the Valley of the Kings tomorrow morning…" Anzu murmured, lingering in the doorway. Keeping her hands clasped behind her back, she nudged the door shut with her fingers, hoping for some semblance of privacy. She wasn't sure if she could go through with it–if she could say what she felt, even knowing that there was no way…

"Okay," Yugi replied softly. Anzu slowly stepped forward, pushing the timid, hesitant girl from her soul. She couldn't be afraid of Yuugi! But then again...

"Are you thinking about the 'Ceremonial Battle?'" Anzu asked. She knew she was. She couldn't get it out of her head, ever since Malik announced it when they'd all met at the airport.

"Yeah," Yuugi responded, his gaze rising to the ceiling, "and I'm absolutely going to try in the Battle. I think my other self wants to continue…"

He abruptly trailed off, realizing what it meant if his other self–no, Atemu–continued his search for the truth about his past. He wasn't sure if Anzu knew it too, but he couldn't bring himself to ask her. He knew what she felt for his other half...

Anzu, for her part, was trying to swallow her fears. She pasted on a cheery smile and spoke. "Well, ask him to come out and say so! I'm sure he'd come out if you asked him!"

She was being two-faced, and she knew it. She didn't want Atemu to come out just so Yuugi could get the answers he wanted. She wanted to see him too, if just to quell the aching in her chest.

Yuugi closed his eyes for a moment, and there was silence in the room. But nothing happened. Yuugi remained the same, and when his eyes opened, they reflected an odd sense of worry.

"The other Yuugi…?" Anzu murmured, wondering why Atemu hadn't come forth. Unlike Jounouchi, she still couldn't bring herself to call the once-Pharaoh 'Atemu,' even to Yuugi himself. Even if she'd given him that blank cartouche, calling him by that name meant she was really differentiating between him and Yuugi, and that she was giving up...

'Maybe it's not that simple. Maybe I can't admit they're different because…I wish that Yuugi really was like his other self, but still himself'

She couldn't have the best of both worlds, though. Inside, she knew the truth.

"Did you say something?" Anzu asked, curious as to whether Yuugi really retreated into himself to query the spirit of the Pharaoh.

"Yeah," Yuugi replied, still concerned, "I tried to spot him inside my soul room, but there wasn't anybody there…"

Anzu's head dropped, without her even realizing it. "Oh."

A thought blossomed within her–an unspoken promise she'd made to herself. If the Other Yuugi came out, she'd tell him how she felt. She'd get these odd sensations and thoughts out of her head and out of her heart, and she'd finally admit that she…

'That I love him.'

And if he didn't appear? She'd be strong. She'd understand what that meant–that he knew they couldn't be together, that nothing could come from a relationship between them. She'd get over him–no, them. Not just Atemu, but Yuugi, too.

She loved them both equally, and until that very moment, she'd been unable to discern between the two. But now, they were two very different people, yet staring out at her with the same face, the same eyes.

She hadn't fallen for Yuugi Mutou, or even Atemu the Pharaoh. She'd fallen for them both. But she couldn't have both, so that meant she'd lost. There was no way they could go back now, no way she could have that man of her dreams.

But she was determined. She was strong, just like the rest of them. She wouldn't give in to the intensifying ache in her chest–the pain of heartbreak.

Anzu stood up, clenching her fists. Maybe–just maybe–she could tell Yuugi anyway, and she wouldn't have to experience this heartache.

"Hey, Yuugi…"

"Yeah?" He looked up at her with those wide, innocent eyes. Of all the ways to tell there was a difference between Yuugi and Atemu, Anzu realized now, it was through his eyes. Even if some considered him naive, his wide, innocent eyes could hold a strength and determination like nothing else. It wasn't the same as the narrowed, fathomless depths that belonged to Atemu. His strength was quiet and firm, like a cold fire burning in the distance.

But the eyes staring at her now were purely Yuugi's. The Yuugi she'd known since grade school–the Yuugi who had to walk away from all this, because that was simply the way it had to be.

Anzu stood, knock-kneed and silent on realizing this. Her face was flushed, and for a moment, the strong girl façade she'd put on vanished, revealing her every weakness.

They could never be...

"S-Stomach medicine! I forgot, Honda's all groggy and seasick right now, and in his state, he can't exactly walk around!" Anzu tried to smile, covering up the intensifying ache in her chest with a smile. "Well, if you can't talk to him, that's okay!" Anzu scuttled toward the doorway, heedless of Yuugi's astonished expression.

"Good night!" And with that, she slammed the door shut. Seconds later, she collapsed against the cool steel surface of the door, gripping the handle like it were a lifeline. Forget seasick…she felt like she was crumbling apart inside. There was nothing left to hold her up, to keep her steady, to keep her strong.

The moment had passed, and...

When you walk away, you don't hear me say "Please, oh baby, don't go…"

'Now that I think about it, I probably should have said something the moment he came off the boat. Even if everyone would have heard me, it would have helped things some…if I'd said it earlier, instead of letting that feeling fester within me, all the way up to the last minute. I wish I could know for sure whether he could tell just by looking in my eyes, because that's how I felt around him so often…'

But the moment passed.

They found themselves in an ancient palace; massive monoliths carved with the faded remnants of Duel Monsters on their faces. Once the seven Millennium Items were placed in the carving, a bright light struck the center of the Eye of Horus on the split door until the entire block glowed, filling the room. Yuugi closed his eyes, his face a mask of calm and readiness.

And when the light died down, two Yuugis stood side by side.


It was then that she looked at him–the real other Yuugi. He still wore Yuugi's clothes, and had Yuugi's eyes and skin color–but there was no denying that this was the Pharaoh. This man was the reason she'd started to see her best friend in a different light, and the reason why her heart raced at night, and her skin flushed whenever he appeared.

His steadfast strength and determined composure, combined with Yuugi's selfless nature and loving personality–who couldn't love him? But now, the truth was painfully–and quite tangibly–clear. The man she'd dreamt about–the man she wanted to give her heart and soul to–didn't exist. There were two people standing before her now, one of them Yuugi Mutou, her best friend…and the other the spirit of a Pharaoh, temporarily given a corporeal form for the purposes of prophesied ceremonial battle.

This was the end.

One card after another. One spell, one trap…lights flashing, monsters dueling, pieces of her breaking and fading away.

Stronghold and the three Gadgets. Obelisk. The Silent Swordsman. Mashu Melon. The Black Magician. Destructive Dragon Gandora. The Silent Magician. Black Magician Girl.

And then, when the powered-up Silent Magician blasted away both the Black Magician and his female apprentice counterpart, everything changed. Jounouchi was right–Atemu had been enjoying the duel up to that point. But when his life points dropped, the expression on his face changed, as did his stance. Somehow, they all knew, right then and there, exactly what they'd been denying for years now.

They knew that this was the last time they'd ever see the Other Yuugi–no, Atemu.

The last time...

Yuugi was going in for the finishing blow. For a moment, Anzu felt as though she could understand his hesitation, his fear to actually beat the other self that had helped him through so many duels up to this point. And then, the dead rose. Osiris was on the field.

A god resurrected...

Fear in Yuugi's eyes. Not because he was afraid of winning, when he'd been so close–but the opposite. Afraid that destiny would somehow change at the last moment, and that he had no idea what to expect if he lost.

But then, a golden light, and a magical effect. Anzu looked up amidst the blaze, and saw the form of a Pharaoh imposed over he who had become known as 'the Other Yuugi.' He'd accepted his destiny now, because he knew...

Not even the most ancient of Gods could take him from his path now.

A dead soul didn't belong in the world of the living….

'Yuugi, you weren't the only one who had something to say in that moment. I just wish I had your courage….'

Even when Yuugi broke down crying after he'd called that final attack, she still saw him as the strong one…always. Even when that great door opened, a portal to the Afterlife, and a world where Atemu could finally find his peace, he was still the reason why she'd begun to look at everything differently–the reason why Anzu felt the need to grow strong, to keep going, and to find her own path.

Together, they were unstoppable. Apart…was the way they were meant to be.

Of the entire group–Otogi, Jounouchi, Bakura, Honda, Sugoroku, Malik, Rishid, Ishizu, and Yuugi himself–Anzu remained silent, wishing that she didn't have to watch him go. Honda bawled like a child, while Jounouchi clenched his fists in silent anger. Even Otogi and Bakura, once enemies of their cause, seemed unwilling to believe that the moment had come when they had to let go.

'Not many people get this chance, you know,' Anzu wanted to say. 'Not many people get this chance to say goodbye. This is the moment people dream of, the time when you can reveal everything and let your soul rest. But I won't say what's in my heart, because…'

Atemu stood on the dais separating the doorway from this world and the Afterlife, his skin darkening to a deep bronze, and the Domino High uniform he wore melting into the robes of royalty.

A lone tear tracked its way down Anzu's face, even though her head was bowed and her eyes concealed from view by her hair.

Atemu looked back at all of them, one by one–until his gaze met hers.

'I won't ever forget you…'

She wasn't sure if she'd thought it or if he had, and somehow, his words came into her mind. She wasn't sure if that nod–slight, and directed only toward her–was some sort of acquiescence that he knew, that he understood, that he was sorry.

A thumbs-up.

A goodbye.

The light faded. The door closed.

He was gone.

The moment was over.

'But our story is just beginning.'

Regardless of warning, the future doesn't scare me at all...