Hey all! Another quick one-shot from Cloud, while I was in the mood for it! Romance, angst, one tiny bit of fanservice. Hope you enjoy!

Before the dawn, I hear you whisper
In your sleep, 'Don't let the morning take him'

Outside the birds begin to call

As if to summon of my leaving

It's been a long time since I found someone
Since I found someone who would stay
I waited too long, and now you're leaving
Oh please don't take it all away

It's been a lifetime since I found someone
Since I found someone who would stay
I've waited too long, and now you're leaving
Oh please don't take it all away

Before the dawn, I hear you whisper
In your sleep, 'Don't let the morning take him'

Judas Priest, 'Before the Dawn'


Without a word, the teen slipped softly out of bed, his feet almost soundlessly touching down onto the floor. Turning to check his lover hadn't awoken, a thin smile played across his lips.

Silhouetted in moonlight, illuminated by sunlight, or caressed by shadows, Yugi was always beautiful. This was the first time he'd ever properly seen his partner like this, and he intended to remember it. The faint light present in the room gave Yugi's face a soft accent, as if the gentle curves never really ended but just faded away. The boy had an almost ethereal radiance about him, tender, alluring, and innocently seductive.

An almost inaudible gasp of horror came as Yugi began stirring, moaning softly in his sleep as he became subconsciously aware that the familiar warmth beside him had left. The teen hurriedly shifted closer to the bed and leaned down, gently brushing his fingers down Yugi's cheek and kissing his forehead to comfort him. "It's okay, little one…" he murmured. "I'll be back…"

The soft, almost kitten-like smile and sigh that came in reply to this statement showed Yugi's trust in the owner of that voice, and the teen felt a soft pain in his chest at his betrayal of his younger partner. If he was coming back, it wasn't going to be any time soon. He knew that much.

Reaching over to their dresser – and it was their dresser; they shared everything – he picked a stuffed toy from the top and walked across to the window, twitching one curtain aside just enough to let in a chink of light to examine it. It was a soft, worn teddy bear, with occasional small bald patches and one ear slightly torn. It was clearly old and ragged, but it was his favourite. It always had been, from the day he'd received it as a child. It had gone everywhere with him – it was the sole physical memento of his youth that still existed.

Feeling a tear prick at the corner of his eye, he returned to his and Yugi's bed, setting the toy down in Yugi's loose grip. "You keep it," he murmured softly. "Keep it, and think of me…"

The teen watched as Yugi's grip on the teddy tightened, the boy nuzzling fondly against it as if doing exactly as he'd been instructed, and he felt tears forming in his other eye too, as well as a lump in his throat. Wiping furiously at his eyes with the heels of his palms and swallowing thickly, he paused to compose himself.

He couldn't afford weakness now. For Yugi's sake, he had to leave. For Yugi's sake, the boy could never know why or where, unless he returned. If he could return, it would mean the danger had passed

As hard as it was, and as much as it hurt, for Yugi's sake, he couldn't cry now. He couldn't afford to waste time, and he couldn't afford to waken the boy.

The teen leaned down to kiss his lover again, but stopped himself halfway. The more sentimentality he showed, the more affection he let out, the harder it would be to walk away. Somewhat regretfully, he stood again and turned away, silently opening the door to a cupboard and retrieving a rather full rucksack from it. He'd packed everything he'd needed while Yugi had been in the bath that night, and hidden it away so as not to arouse suspicion. He barely had a quarter of his belongings in the bag, choosing to travel light, but he hadn't wanted to even chance being asked anything.

Having dressed quickly, the teen glanced over his shoulder at the young boy sleeping alone in the bed, before slipping silently out of their room, closing the door behind him with a faint 'click' and stealing away down the stairs.

He knew that, ideally, he should just walk out. Right there and then, he should leave, without looking back. He couldn't bring himself to actually do it, though. There were too many memories in the house, in every room. The house had become a part of his life – practically a part of him – and if he couldn't say goodbye to Yugi, he could at least bid a fond farewell to all their memories.

Setting the bag down by the front door, he pushed the door to the living room open, wincing slightly as it gave a faint creak. It wouldn't have been enough to even reach their room – no, Yugi's room – but it still seemed too loud in the silence that otherwise pervaded the vicinity. Stepping through, leaving it open to spare him having to go through the same thing when he left, he paused in the entrance area of the room, looking round.

The portrait that hung on the wall. Him and Yugi together, in better times – their first anniversary, as he recalled. Walking over to it, he reached up and gently stroked his fingers down Yugi's face, feeling another soft pain as he saw the wide smile they both wore, wishing he could take it with him. He knew that he couldn't – he couldn't afford to take anything that might identify what was going to be his past life – but the wish remained strong never the less.

Regretfully, he turned away from it, knowing that he was wasting time again. Immediately, his eyes fell on the couch. It had been the first thing they'd bought when they'd moved in together, and had been where they'd first made love to each other. Closing his eyes as he remembered that act, a single tear slipped down his cheek.

"Nnn…" the boy moaned softly, his body hot under his lover's fingertips. "Please… m-more…"

"Patience, little one…" the elder chuckled. "We've the whole night ahead of us yet…"

The teen suddenly blinked back into awareness of his surroundings, looking about him in surprise. At some point during his reminiscing, he'd sat down on the couch, right in the spot the two had been together that night. Standing up, he glanced worriedly at the clock, relieved to find he'd only lost ten minutes. It was still ten minutes too many, but it was preferable to, say, almost an hour.

The teen shook his head again. He couldn't afford any more time. As much as he wanted to be here, he couldn't.

Silently padding through into the adjoining drawing room, the boy picked out a notepad and a pen from a drawer, and sat down to begin writing.

What could he say though? Sorry for deserting you? I might not be back, but keep your hopes up anyway? He wanted to tell all, to get it out in the open, but it was safer that Yugi didn't know. Chewing on the cap of the pen miserably, he stared down at the blank sheet before him. He wanted to say so much, yet could only afford to say so little, and had even less time to say it in with every second that passed.

Eventually, he decided to say the one thing that summed up all he felt and all his reasons.

Dearest Yugi,

No matter what else, just remember one thing.

I will always love you.

Folding the note in half, not daring to read it back, the boy left the room and padded silently back up the stairs. Opening the door to their – no, no, Yugi's – room again, he winced at the soft click, before creeping in and picking his way across to Yugi's bed.

Setting the note on the dresser where the stuffed bear had been sat, the teen leaned over his younger lover and, for what might have been the last time in his life, pressed a soft kiss to the corner of his mouth.

"I love you, Yugi," he whispered softly. "Take care, smile like you mean it, and think of me fondly. If I can come back to you, I will."

Biting on his lower lip to hold back the sob that threatened to escape, the boy stood and hurried out of the room again, making his way down the stairs and slinging his bag up onto his shoulder. He just wanted to go now. He'd delayed it all he could, and said all he dared. If he didn't leave now, he'd lose his nerve and give up.

Slipping out of the front door, the boy pulled his keys out of his pocket and locked it behind him. After a moment's hesitation, he pushed the keys back through the letterbox, knowing that now he couldn't back out without Yugi knowing even if he wanted to.

The clatter that came as they hit the floor was the single most heartbreaking sound the teen had ever known.

Turning, walking out the gate and down the street, the boy finally allowed his tears to fall. Barely twenty paces round the first corner, he stopped and slumped against a wall, crying his heart out. He cried for all he'd left behind, for all he was going to miss, and for all the pain he was going to cause. For Yugi, and for his unknown future, torrents of water ran down his cheeks, until eventually he felt his knees buckle under him. He knew he had to go on, that he had to do what was right for Yugi…

But there's never been a right time to say goodbye.

A small figure stirred as a soft clattering stole into his dreams, blinking sleepily as he awoke to reality again. Looking across the bed at the wide, empty space beside him, Yugi sat up slowly as he realised his partner wasn't there.


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