Summary: Yugi comes home to find Yami acting... strangely. Is there a method to this madness? Or has Yami finally gone insane?
Rating: ...PG, not by too much, but just in case. Could probably pass for G, but...
Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh, or the song "If You're Going to San Fransisco", and I imagine the copyright's expired on Dante's 'Inferno' but I'll assure you that I'm not Dante anyway, because I'm nice that way. (eh heh)
I do own the Chick in the Car, Annoyed Guy, the Tomato-Seller, Moonflower and Bob, and the Funny Bunny theme song, the lyrics of which I came up withI think for a fic I've never gotten entirely typed about the chaotic lives of KaibaCorp engineers (and employees in general, but mainly the elite squad of engineers). They have made cameos in a couple of my other works, thoughand, as it happens, are mentioned, though not by name, in this one as well. I don't know if I'll ever get their story typed up, given that it was born out of fustration with the plot holes in the series, but hey. You never know.
Notes: I have no idea how I came up with this anymore. But I did, quite some time ago, and wrote the funny half of it before I stopped getting the WB channel and gradually lost intrest. Why it suddenly popped up again in my psyche, I have no idea. Why I was actually able to finish itin one night, no lessI understand even less. Possibly my abrupt general productivity has something to do with my essay due in a fortnight and my two tests next week... embarassed wink
I usually use plain text files, and double "/"s have a history of not showing up on so Yugi and Yami thinking at each other are both indicated by single "/"s. It only happens in one conversation, so I hope it shouldn't be confusing.
Yugi wryly reflected on how everything Yami didand Yami in generalwas now referred to as completely Yugi's problem. It was a little like a puppy had followed him home, and they'd finally let him keep it, "just as long as you take care of it. It's your responsibility, now, and I don't want to be left to clean up after it..."
Yami, Yugi noted, took marginally less cleaning-up-after than a dog. Yami's messes, though, were far more subtle...
Yugi filed the "Yami as a new pet dog" simile to explore later. Because what was that music coming from his room?
He opened the doorto hear strange music playing on the radio, and Yami rooting around under the bed.
"Yami?" Yugi asked, confused but not yet alarmed.
Yami drew his head out from under the bed, and looked at Yugi, perfectly calm. "Do you have no beads at all?"
"Beads...?" Yugi had crossed the subtle line between "confused" and "perplexed".
"Beads," Yami said. "Little round things on a string? Usually worn as necklaces?"
"I know what beads are," Yugi said, now slightly irritated as well. "Why are you looking for beads?"
"Why does anyone want beads?"
Yugi wasn't sure if Yami was asking that rhetorically or was trying to insult him, but either way, he found it fairly annoying. "So what, are you going to wear them, or are you going to make prayer beads or something?"
"Prayer beads? Beads for prayer?"
"From which I'll assume you'll be wearing them."
"I wasn't aware they had any other use..." Yami said, doubtfully.
"Why," Yugi asked affably, "do you want to wear beads?"
"For what they symbolise."
"What do they symbolise?"
"A way of life." Yami opened a drawer and tossed things around halfheartedly.
Yugi was confused again. "A way of life?"
Yami gave him a dirty look. "For heaven's sake, child, don't you ever read the things you give to me?"
Yugi absolutely hated it when Yami called him "child"when anyone called him child, really, but particularly Yami. Before he could say anything about that, though, Yami had thrown him a book.
"That history book," Yugi said, looking at it.
"And this has what to do with anything...?"
"You must have read the thing." Yami turned back to the drawer.
Yugi was about to say something, but he suddenly realized what station Yami had the radio set on. But no, it was ridiculous. Impossible.
"Where is San Fransisco, anyway?" Yami asked, offhand.
Yugi now understood the look he'd gotten from his grandfather, the "this guy is your problem, kid, yours, don't look at me" look.
"And why flowers?" Yami asked.
"It's..." Yugi said, "In America, on the west coast of it, I showed you a globe, andWHAT are you doing!"
"Looking for beads," Yami said, calmly, rationally. Except that if he was doing what Yugi thought he was doing, "rational" was the last word to describe him.
"I am becoming," Yami announced cooly, "a 'hippie'."
Yugi quickly struggled to take hold of his emotions and identify them. That was humor, that was anger, that was exasperation, that was confusion, and that over there was blind, irrational fury. And there was a flash of worry about the anger, and there was an incredulous voice asking him why the heck he was naming what he was feeling instead of swallowing it and asking Yami if he'd somehow eaten anything out of the ordinary today, and there
Yugi stomped down on the emotion and asked, slightly wary, "Yami, have you been, somehow, eating anything? Any pills? Any strange-smelling milk?..."
"Milk always smells strange," Yami said, unperturbed, looking through another drawer. "And no. Yugi, maybe I haven't spelled this out clearly enough, but I don't actually eat..."
"I know that!" Yugi snapped.
"Then why did you ask?"
"'Cause" Yugi struggled for words. "'Cause you're behaving irrationally! Yami, there are no hippies! That was, like, forty years ago, and it was a stupid movement to begin with!"
Yami's head snapped up, but his (freakish, unnatural, insane) normal calm demeanor remained undisturbed. "Are you demeaning my religion?"
"WhaNo! That's not a"
"Because people frown on that these days."
"It's politicially incorrect."
"IT'S NOT EVEN A RELIGION!" Yugi cried, confusion and exasperation rising to the top in what was now becoming an increasingly unstable jumble of emotions.
"Lifestyle, then. Worse."
"You can't stop me," Yami said calmly, and walked out of the room, obviously intending to take his search elsewhere.
Yugi put his head in his hand. "God, god, uh, there's gotta be a self-help book for this somewhere, 'How to Stop Your Teen From Becoming One of the Long-Haired Freaky People', even if it's from the 60's, I'll take it, I" He stopped. He was babbling. "YAMI!"
"Yes?" Yami was now rooting though Grandpa's closet, looking approvingly at a brown vest.
"I can so stop you."
"Uh..." Yugi realized that he couldn't actually stop him, given Yami's selective corporeality and Yugi's unwillingness to take apart the Puzzle. "I'll cry."
"No you won't."
"Yes I will."
"No you won't."
"I'm about to right now."
"Why do you lie to me?"
"Nnnnnn..." Yugi fumbled around for another angle. "I'm scared for you, Yami. Hippies are persecuted!"
"They, uh... They get mugged, and mocked, and things," Yugi offered lamely.
Yami chuckled. "Mugged. That brings back good memories."
"From?" Yugi realized what he was talking about. "Good memories! Yami, that was awful!"
"He deserved it!" Yami countered, coming up with a tye-dyed t-shirt.
"But it was awful!"
"But he deserved it!"
"ButSee! You're sadistic! You can't be a hippie! They believe in peace, and love, and mind-altering substances!" Yugi latched on to his new argument.
"I believe in that. And if only everyone else did, too, my life would be so much easier. Just think about it! Seto Kaiba, and Yami Bakura, and Yami Malik, and Shadi and Noah and Pegasusjust imagine how much easier our lives would be if, instead of making silly, ill-thought-out plans to take over the world, they had just sat at home, loving their families, working for world peace, and altering their minds?"
Yugi was lost in the vision for a moment. "You have no idea what a mind-altering substance is, do you?"
"Their minds could use a little altering. Couldn't possibly do any harm." By now, Yami had thrown on the t-shirt and vest. Yugi hadn't seriously believed he'd do that, and the sight made him nearly double over, laughing.
Yami, unruffled, found a comb and ran it though his hair, attempting to get it to hang down. "Have you figured out why our hair does this?"
"No, I never have."
"I thought they would have made some sort of progress with that by now."
"No one else has hair like this. Anyone who wanted to get their hair like ours would have to use dye and a fair amount of hairspray..."
Yami held a strand of his hair down and watched, scientifically, as he let it go and it popped back to its original position. He quickly gave up on his hair and hurried away.
Yugi suddenly remembered what was happening. "And another thing..." he said, and suddenly noticed something else. "Where are you going?"
"I'm hitchhiking to a free concert a few towns away," Yami said calmly. "Here's the flier."
Yugi stared at the pink piece of paper without really reading it. "You're hitchhiking...?"
"Of course. What will they do to me? Try to cut my throat? That would be amusing." He laughed darkly.
"Yami, I don't know what the heck you've been reading, but nobody picks up hitchhikers anymore. They're afraid they'll get killed. They pick you up, they may be right," Yugi added, as an afterthought.
"I won't kill anybody. Unless they give me cause."
Yugi prayed, as he had many times before, that Yami's definition of "cause" was the same as everyone else's. "Yami, you can't leave."
"Watch me." He headed for the door.
"I'm not coming with you!"
"Yes you are."
"No, Yami, I'm not! This is insane!"
"I'm going," Yami said calmly.
"You're out of your mind!"
"Are you coming?"
"NO! Have you gone crazy!"
"I'll see you soon." Calmly, Yami walked out the door.
Yugi looked after him, incredulous. Nothing that had just happened had made any sense at all. Yami had quite clearly gone insane.
"He's really leaving?" Grandpa looked out over Yami's shoulder.
"So he says." Yugi still didn't quite believe him, but apparently Yami was serious.
"What are you going to do about it?"
"Why do I have to do something about it? How would I? Let him be crazy! He'll come back." Yugi huffed and stormed away to his room.
Grandpa again renewed his troubling contemplation of what the heck sort of relationship his grandchild and this ghost had. The "normal" part was troubling enough, but then you had the psychic-metaphysical thing, and then the trouble of figuring out what all that translated to in conventional terms. He wasn't altogether sure he wanted to know.
It was almost an hour later that Yugi was forced to comtemplate the same issue. In the middle of his math homework, it suddenly occured to him that the strange, sick, dizzy feeling he had wasn't hunger or indigestion or some strange malfunction of his blood sugar, and it was also intensifying. He tried to wonder what was happening to him, but he knew.
He muttered something he'd been told never to say and stood upand was shocked at how dizzy he became, how strong this pull at him was.
Cursing under his breath, he made his way to the kitchen and threw together a little foodsome easily transported leftovers, a couple of sandwiches, and three cans of soda. He emptied his backpack and dumped in the food, and a little money, and kept a book and his homework.
"Grandpa," he called, defeated, "I'm gonna go find him."
"I'm gonna go find him!"
"But why? Even if you're off tomorrow! I will not let you"
"I have to, Grandpa!" Yugi leaned against the wall, in the direction he knew very well Yami had gone. The only consolation he hada bitter, dark, evil consolationwas that Yami was feeling exactly the same way. But would the psychopath give up and come home? "Nooo, he's got to stay on and drag me out there. Stubborn little"
Yugi realized he'd mumbled the last bit and stopped abruptly. "I have to, Grandpa," he repeated.
Grandpa sighed, understanding that Yugi somehow literally had no choice, and wondered again what sort of relationship the two had, and whether either of them would survive it.
"Okay," he said. "Go. Come back. Try to call me."
Yugi nodded and hurried out the door.
Sometime laterYugi wasn't sure whenhe caught up to Yami on a street corner. Breathing heavily, he glared up at Yami, with resentment that was shocking to see in him.
"You came," Yami said happily, serene as ever.
"You," Yugi said between breaths, "are the supremeresidentevil beingof the firesof the underworld."
"I know," Yami said serenely.
"You are coming," Yugi said dangerously, "back home, with me."
"No I'm not."
"Yes, you are."
"No," Yami said, "I'm not."
"What on earth is WRONG with you?" Yugi screamed.
"I'm sure it will all become clear."
"When the realm that YOU are god of freezes over," Yugi spat. This stupid little stunt had seriously thrown him, scaring him with the implications of whatever strange symbiosis they had and how easily it could be turned against them. A little further, further apart than they could go themselves, and what might happen?
"Actually, that happens fairly frequently."
"Shut up." Grudgingly, Yugi walked alongside him, annoyed that Yami had power in the relationship too. Because the way that this relationship worked, as far as he could tell, any power was almost all-consuming, was power to destroy...
"Where the heck are we going?" he asked grumpily.
"I gave you a flier."
"We can't walk there."
"We're going to get to the main road and hitch a ride."
"For the love of God, Yami," Yugi said passionately, "whatever you're doing, whatever you're planning, let's please, please give it up and go home!"
"Home is where the heart is," Yami said serenely.
"Right now, my heart is in a dark alley beating you up," Yugi muttered, and was shocked at his belligerence.
Yami just smiled. "Here we are. Let's see..."
"How," Yugi asked, "do you expect anyone to want to pick us up?"
"It all hinged on you coming to join me before I started trying," Yami said, holding out a thumb sideways.
Irritated, Yugi shoved his hand into the correct position. "Why would that help?"
"I imagine people would feel safer picking up the two of us."
"What, murderers don't work in pairs?"
"Not very often..."
"Wait, are you thinking some woman will pick us up 'cause she'll think we're a cute couple?"
"Not in the sense you mean..."
"Then what" Yugi stopped, flabbergasted, as a car actually did pull over.
"My god!" said the woman, rolling down her car window. "How did you two get stranded out here!"
"We were on a camping trip..." Very suddenly, Yami seemed olderyoungermore helpless, less certain. "I guess someone stole our car, or we got more lost than we thought..."
Yugi hadn't been aware that Yami knew so much about camping trips. Come to think of it, he shouldn't know so much about hitchhiking, cars, or the 60's either. Come to think of it, he really should be speaking Egyptian... How in the world?
"Oh my God, that's so sad," the woman said sympathetically. "Do you need a ride?"
"Unless we're really lost, I think you're going our way..." Yami said. "Right, Yugi?"
"Uh, yeah," Yugi said, having learned through long experience that it was always best to follow Yami's lead. Of course, he wasn't sure of that today, but instinct kicked in before he could help it. "It looks like it..."
"Hop in the back," she said, unlocking the door. With incredible audacity, Yami obeyed.
"How old is he?" the woman asked.
"Sixteen," Yami said apologetically. "Bad genetics. Got it from me..."
A cold feeling passed over Yugi as he realized exactly what Yami's plan had been, and why he'd thought Yugi would be an advantage.
"His mother" she asked. "She let you go away for a week like this?"
"Some sort of 'bonding' thing." Yami waved it away. "I tried to tell her we were bonded enough already, but..."
"TOO bonded, if you ask me," Yugi muttered.
"Yugi, for heaven's sake, this woman picked us up off the side of the road. Could you please behave yourself?"
BEHAVE! Yugi screamed in his head, incredulously. He was almost certain he saw Yami wince.
"YOU'RE the one who got us into this! Don't play innocent! YOU suggested the trip, and YOU suggested that stupid spot, and YOU were the one who got us lost"
Against his will, Yugi stopped, and it would be a fairly long time before he knew why. "Sorry, sorry," he sighed. "It's been a really long day... I'm sorry."
Yami sighed. "Me, too."
Somehow, though he knew it wasn't true, Yugi found himself believing Yami meant it. But if he really was sorry, then WHY THE HELL HAD HE DRAGGED THEM OUT HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE!
Yami winced again.
"Teenagers," the woman said sympathetically. "My sister has one."
"She bought one on the black market?" Yugi sassed without thinking, then jumped, apalled. Since when did he get so bitter, vocal, and irreverent? Since when did he start acting like the worst teenager stereotype in the world?
It occured to him that he knew when this had started, and he shot a suspicious glare at Yami. If Yami could change his behavior so dramatically, playing the dorky, clueless, patronising father, then was it possible he'd given Yugi a little... nudge?
"always like that too," the woman commented. "Every time I say something to her..."
"Maybe you treat her like property too."
"Shut up," he snapped. Whyever he was playing this surly teenager role, he was really starting to like it.
Yami just sighed helplessly, partially to say "Teenagers these days; I try so hard; what can I do?"
Yugi heard the message and resented it. This stupid lie was getting him even more confused; was he angry at Yami for saying these things, or was he still angry about the whole "hippie" thing?
"I..." The woman glanced in the rearview mirror for a moment. "I'll put on some music."
Yugi was darkly pleased that he'd made the woman so uncomfortable.
/Don't start enjoying this too much/ Yami thought at him.
/Yes, enjoying this. I'm being a bad influence on you./
/What you call my "sadisticness"and I'm almost certain that isn't a wordis rubbing off on you./
/Rubbing OFF on me/
/Yes, Yugi, that is what I said. Thought. Whatever./
/Your psychopathy is NOT rubbing off on me/
/I don't think "psychopathy" is a word, either./
/IT IS SO/
/We'll have to look it up./
/NO WE WON'T! YOU'LL LISTEN TO ME FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE! We will NOT look the stupid word up! AND IT IS A WORD! Do you UNDERSTAND/
Yami obeyed, though he was infuriatingly smug about it. The rest of the trip passed in silence, except for a few minutes when the woman sang along with the radio. Yugi nearly told her exactly what he thought of her singing, but repented at the last second and turned to an appaled contemplation of his current state of mind.
"Here okay?" she finally asked. Yugi jumped and noticed that they were in a town he vaguely recognised as being the town a couple towns away from his town.
"I think we could get home from there," Yami said. "Or at least find a pay phone and call my wife."
"All right." She pulled to the side of the road. "I wish you well!"
"Goodbye!" Yami waved at her, smiling as she drove away.
"Wow," Yugi said. "That actually worked?"
"You just noticed?" Yami asked, amused.
He glared at him. "I was distracted," he muttered, looking at Yami venomously.
"Well. I suppose we should"
"Nah-ah!" Yugi slung his backpack. "I am going to call my grandfather and let him know that, by some uncontemplatably improbable miracle, we survived the trip here. If you have any trouble with that, I will be very happy to take apart the Puzzle and throw it down twelve different storm drainsin twelve different townsin twelve different countries! Am I clear?"
"No you won't," Yami said, amused.
"Try me," Yugi spat, and put a few coins into the phone. "Said yourself your psychopathy was rubbing off on me..."
"No I didn't. I didn't think 'psychopathy' was a word. Remember?"
"Shut your mouth."
"I don't have one."
"YA" Yugi coughed. "Hi Grandpa!"
"Yugi! You lived!"
"Don't count your chickens... How's everything going?"
"Uh... reruns... Yugi, how did you getwhere are you?"
"The proud site of 'Wuudosutaaku 3.5'," Yugi said, resigned. "Couple towns over, I think I left a flier on the table."
"Ah yes. How did you get there?"
"C'mon, Grandpa, I get in more dangerous situations every day," Yugi defended. "What threat is anyone going to pose to me that's worse than Pegasus? Or Seto Kaiba? Or any of the other idiots looking for me out there?"
"Well, I guess you have a"
"Did I just DEFEND this?" Yugi put a hand to his head. "My God, what is WRONG with me!"
"I suppose that Yami is rubbing off on you..." He sounded sad, resigned, very slightly disapproving.
"Him and his sadisticness and psychopathy..." Yugi muttered.
"Um, Yugi, I think the word is 'sadism'."
"Oh," Yugi said. "Right. Uh, what about psychopathy?"
"I'm not sure."
"Could you look it up?"
"I don't think you want to know."
"It is SO a word!" Yugi screamed.
"All right, all right!" he said quickly. "Lord, Yugi!"
Yugi sighed. "I guess... We'll be.. doing something now. Pray I don't disassemble the Puzzle."
"I love you."
"I love you too, Yugi. Oh, by the way"
The phone cut off abruptly. Yugi started, before realizing that he'd probably run out of phone time.
What had he thought had happened? The game shop was under siege? Yugi shook his head, infuriated with himself.
"He all right?" Yami asked, leaning against a wall.
"Well, of course he's all right. Might have given him a heart attack to learn that we were."
"DON'T even start."
Yami shrugged. "I suppose now we wait until tomorrow."
"Or we could go home, like sane, normal people."
"What fun would that be?"
"Not as much fun as beating you up, no, but second best..."
"Wait a second. What do you mean we wait until tomorrow! You want us to sleep on the street!"
"I don't sleep."
"YOU DO NOW!" Yugi yelled, grabbing Yami's arm roughly. "And you're not GONNA sleep! 'Cause you'll be keeping lookout all night! HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT!"
"Wha?..." Yami blinked several times. "Yugi, I don't sleep."
"YOU WILL NOW! Except you won't! Because you'll be up all night! HA!"
"SHUT UP AND HELP ME FIND A DOORWAY!"
"I'm confused now. So you want me to sleep, but you don't want me to sleep?"
"I think I understand now. You want me to want to sleep, so that you can keep me up and deprive me of sleep tonight. Is that it?"
"I SAID, SHUT UP AND HELP ME FIND A DOORWAY!"
"There's one right over there!"
"They'll kick us out of that one!dear GOD! I can't believe I'm TALKING about this! I can't believe you're making me sleep out on the street!"
"We could find a shelter..." Yami trailed off, aware that this was the exact wrong thing to say.
"WecouldfindaWHAT! YAMIII! FOR THE LOVE OF"
"Shh, the man under the newspapers is looking at us strangely," Yami hissed, pulling Yugi close.
"I WONDER WHY?"
A light came on in a second-story window. "People are trying to SLEEP! Shut up!"
"SO AM I!"
"Hard to do while YELLING!"
Yami smacked Yugi upside the head. "Yugi!"
Yugi slapped him back. "This is ALL YOUR FAULT!"
"No! I categorically deny that! I am merely the catalyst!"
"Well," yelled the man, "catalyst yourself the heck away from my apartment!" He slammed the window.
Yugi was about to yell something else at Yami, but Yami slapped his hand over Yugi's mouth. "Rail at me tomorrow!" he hissed. "Now let us live through tonight!"
"Like that's gonna happen!" Yugi yelled, muffled.
Yugi settled down, seething. "You're making us sleep on the street, you stupid"
"I know," Yami said calmly.
"I hate you," Yugi said.
"Give it a few days," Yami answered calmly.
"I hate you with the fires of a hundred suns," Yugi said.
"It won't be for much longer," Yami said calmly.
"Want to bet?"
"Absolutely. And you know I never play to lose."
"You must have noticed."
"You mean I'm really going to stop hating you?"
"If my cards read right."
"You mean, if you read your cards right?"
"No, if my cards read right, Yugi. I mean what I say."
"What about that time you called Téa a saccharine, flaky wench?"
"You meant that too?"
"You DID, didn't you?"
"She has potential! If she stops being saccharine and flaky, which I'm certain she can, she would be very, very nice!"
"But you meant it."
"You drive me crazy."
"You were already."
"I was NOT."
"Perhaps not," Yami conceded.
"Well, I will be now. On the STREET?"
"We could walk around all night..."
"Pretty moon out."
"You're not serious?"
"Yami, there is no way I can sleep out here in the street. For one, my seething hatred of you and your stupid ideas wouldn't let me. Second, it's not hygenic or safe. Third, my seething, boiling hatred of you"
"I understand," Yami said quickly. "Look, there's a church. Do they lock their doors?"
"So I hear."
"Isn't that... uncharitable?"
"As if they really care. They're all hypocrites. Everybody. I hate them."
"Right," said Yami. "Let's just check, shall we?"
"What, you're ASKING now? Of course not, it was just a figure of speech. Because you don't care about me. You don't care about anything. Except winning. You're full of hate and it's gonna drive me and everyone else who might love you away and then you'll fall down in a ditch somewhere and cry."
Yami thought about that. "Yes," he said, "that's accurate, and remarkably insightful. You should explain that again to Seto Kaiba the next time we see him."
"I wasn't talking about Seto Kaiba!"
"You could have been."
Yugi contemplated that. "You're right. I'm quite frankly amazed that Mokuba hasn't run away already, or turned himself in to the social workers, or something."
"I think he's been living with some employees, as it happenspossibly on-and-off, or only when Kaiba goes insane and recklessly endangers his life in a foolish, roundabout, ill-planned attempt to control the world..."
"Which is all the time..."
"Yes, either part-time or full-time, I'm not sure."
"Huh. Good for him."
"Come over here." Yami held open the door.
"Wow, it was actually open!"
Yami shrugged. "You might not want to know."
Yugi's eyes widened. "You broke into a CHURCH!"
"Great! Now we're condemned to burn for eternity in the fires of"
"I thought you said they were all hypocrites."
"Well that doesn't mean that they aren't RIGHT!"
"...Yes, it, kind of does."
"NO IT DOESN'T!"
"Yugi, stop screaming in the chapel! It's not classy!"
"This is a new low," Yugi muttered. "This whole day is just a new low. I shouldn't have been surprised."
"Don't worry about the breaking in," Yami lectured. "We won't hurt anything. And besides, if they are right, we were both consigned to burn in the unholy pitch-black flames of hell a long, long time ago."
"I coulda redeemed myself."
"Yes, well, I died before the time of Chirstianity and am thus doomed to wander in, at best, the first circle of Hell for eternity, and even if they managed to sort us out I highly doubt you'd rate any better."
"Okay, you'd rate better, but I read the Inferno and that's where I'd be."
"I don't think anyone believes that anymore... Not quite so strictly..."
"Of course, being dead already, I assume I have escaped that fate..."
"Huh," Yugi said. "I told you they were all hypocrites."
"But you don't believe that."
Yugi thought about it. "No."
"Not in the least."
"No. Huh. That's strange."
"Yes, it is, isn't it?"
"This has been... a really strange day. I think I'll, I think I should just get to sleep."
Yugi curled up on a pew. "G'night, Yami," he said.
"Good night." Yami paused. "You know, Dante, as it happens, was incredibly wussy. Did you know he faints, oh, three times in the first fifty pages?"
He glanced down at Yugi and realized he was already asleep. "Well. That was remarkably fast."
Arms folded, Yami stared ahead, keeping watch for the rest of the night.
("Get over here!"
Seto Kaiba, dressed in a Funny Bunny suit, was chasing him, had been chasing him, Yugi had no impression of for how long. It was woody and brambly, but there was something in the sky, and castles and pyramids somewhere in the distance.
"You gotta duel me!"
"I don't want to! I want to go home! Actually attend school for once! I don't even like this card game anymore! Why don't you play chess? It's a game of kings!"
"I wanna duel you an' take over the world!"
"What's so special about the world! Don't you see what you're throwing away! Your brother! I never had that! Your life! You have a choice in all of this! How on earth can you possibly stay?"
"I want to duel you!" Kaiba yelled. Yugi turned around, and saw that Seto was standing on the edge of a castle, pink bunny-ears on a headband swaying in the wind, holding Mokuba up by his vest. "If you don't duel me, I'll drop him off the ledge!"
"Don't listen to him!" Mokuba yelled. "He'll drop me if you do duel him, too!"
"Are you insane!" Yugi screamed. "You're risking your brother's LIFE!"
"No I'm not!" Kaiba said. "I'm saving him! All of this is for him, everything I've done!"
"You're hurting me!" Mokuba cried. Yugi saw a drop of blood hit the ground. Another, as the wind picked up, splash into Seto's face.
"All of this is for him!"
Mokuba moaned, bleeding more heavily.
"I won't let you or anyone else hurt him!"
Mokuba let out a piercing scream as his brother's grip slipped, and he started to fall. Yugi ran to the parapet in horror, looking down, but he couldn't see anything; the tops of the trees were close, but the ground was an infinity away.
"That's why I hate that imbecile Joey," Kaiba said. "He's stupid, he can't duel, and he doesn't care about his little sister at all."
"Joey's a better person than you'll ever be," Yugi said, staring at the nonexistent ground. "And smarter, and better at Duel Monsters, and worthier, and more loved... than you'll ever be."
"You can give me everything I want," Seto saidthough the voice was briefly Pegasus's. "Impossible power."
"Do you really think she'd want you to kill people just so she could be alive?"
"I haven't killed anyone."
"You have so. And why do you assume, even if you got the Puzzle, that it could do what you want? Aren't some things impossible?"
"That doesn't matter. Regardless of what your bauble can or cannot do, I want it anyway."
Yugi turned to look Setoyes, it was still Setoin the face.
"Watch this," Kaiba said, and snapped his fingers. Tiny figureslike children in pink bunny costumesstarted to dance aroundand, to Yugi's astonishment, to sing the "Funny Bunny" theme song.
"Funny Bunny, he's our hare,
Funny Bunny, he's so cool,
You can beat that dumb McDrool!
Over here, over there,
Funny Bunny's every"
Yugi lost his temper and punted one of the bunnies over the parapet, his anger only increasing as he watched it sail off screaming into the distance.
"It's time to duel!" Kaiba smapped his fingers and they were surrounded in darkness, tangible darkness, enveloping, tentacled
"YAMI!" Yugi screamed, as the darkness wrapped around his throat. "YAMII!"
"He's not coming," Seto whispered in his ear, slipping his fingers around Yugi's neck. "He's given up, don't you see? He's given it all up and left the responsibility to you, like he always does. Gone around the bend and left you here."
Yugi tried to call out again, but he didn't have the breath, could only struggle helplessly against Kaiba's unaturally strong hands.
"You actually thought he cared about you, didn't you? Thought you mattered to him? Thought he'd protect you forever?"
Yugi struggled, more weakly now, trying to hear as all sound started to fade.
"Naive of you. Your Yami, after allhe's so like me")
"Yugi?" Yami shook him gently. "It's"
Yugi bolted up, screaming, breathing heavily, staring at the stained-glass windows without knowing what he saw.
"Yugi! Are you okay?"
"Go the hell away!" Yugi yelled, snatching himself away from Yami's arms. "Come on! That stupid thing of yours has started now, right! Let's get going!" He got up and stormed out of the chapel.
"Uh, okay..." Yami shrugged and followed him.
"Where is it!"
"Did you... sleep well?"
"No!" Yugi snapped. "Wow, are you perceptive! You should apply to the psychic hotline! You should work the radar on a submarine!"
"Sounds, interesting. Better than that job at the fast-food place."
"Well they wouldn't take you! Because you're not in any way perceptive!"
"This is... getting kind of old."
"WELL IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT!"
"How could that be?"
"ARRGH!" Yugi pushed into the crowd of hippies angrily. "OUTTA MY WAY, FLOWER CHILDREN!"
"Uh, sorry," Yami apologised to the shocked hippies, "he misheard the song, thinks it's the age of Saggitarius. I'll get him sorted out."
"STOP APOLOGISING FOR ME!"
"STOP BEING NICE!"
"That shouldn't be too hard."
"THERE!" Yugi yelled. "There's you a nice spot in the mosh pit! Now stand there and listen to your damn music and find me when you decide to STOP this foolishness!" Yugi stormed off, back into the alarmed crowd.
"He prefers disco," Yami explained.
Nobody bought it, but they didn't care enough to contradict him.
Yugi slogged though the crowd, trying to ignore most of the things he saw like the Grandpa's-boy he was. Finally, he camped out under a car and sat there, for a long time, with his head to his knees, trying to control his spiraling fustration.
"Funny Bunny, he's our hare!
Yugi got out from under the car and glared around, finally spying a TV that a bored-looking teenager had wired out from an RV. He took a large rock, hurled it with surprising accuracy into the set, and ducked back under the car before the guy could see him. He waited a considerable time longer before he was sure that the teen had given up his search for the culprit and stormed back into the RV to listen to music. Then, bored, he ventured out again.
"If you're goiiiiiiing, to Saaan Fraaan-sisco..."
Yugi hurled another rock and ran away.
Yugi sighed and dropped to the ground. "No. I do not want anything. I do not want to be here and am filled with ever-increasing hate."
"Yeah, me too," said the tomato-seller, a redhead about Yugi's age. "My parents dragged me here. Told me to sell organic produce while they went to the concert. Jacked the prices up too. Said hippies were easy targets. How about you?"
"My, uh, Yami dragged me here against my will and tyrannically forced me to sleep in a church last night."
"No, I just couldn't think of what to call him. Friend would imply that I, well, liked him to some degree, you know? And I don't. Anymore. I hate him to the bottom of my soul and will wreak vengeance upon him for this if it takes me my life and afterlife."
"Sleeping in a shelter is pretty much," the tomato-seller agreed.
"Oh no. It wasn't a shelter. He broke into a church. So now we're damned for all eternity. Oh, I hate him."
"And you know what he said? He said I shouldn't worry because we were damned already! God!"
"Yeah, you should maybe calm down," said the tomato-seller. "Peace, love and understanding and all that."
"He didn't even LIKE this music until yesterday!" Yugi yelled. "And then he's suddenly all 'Save the Rainforest, Save the Beach, Hug the Trees' and he drags me on this trip! We had to HITCHHIKE!"
"Oh yeah?" she said. "What's that like?"
"AWFUL!" Yugi yelled. "He pretended he was my father and we got a lift from this REALLY annoying woman who thought teenagers were mindless property!"
"...You are a boy, aren't you?"
"What theYES! Why in the"
"No reason. The hair, that'skinda ambiguous. How do you get it to do that, anyway?"
"He wasn't even ALIVE in the sixties! For the love of"
"The pointy thing," she said, "It must take a lot of hair gel."
"No," he said, "it just does this. We don't know why. I was, like, exposed to radiation or something, and all I got was this hair. And Yami. And compared to, like, flying, that's a raw deal, that is in no way fair. Am I rambling?"
"Well, it eases the virulent hate in my soul, so I think I'll keep doing it. Is that okay?"
"Sure. Want some corn?"
"I have some cereal."
Yugi realized he hadn't yet eaten. "How much?"
She shrugged. "They never told me, so here." She tossed a baggie over to him.
"Thank you." He started to munch. "This isn't very good cereal."
"Yeah, they're really bad at growing stuff."
"Then how do they sell it?"
"They call it organic."
"Figures. They lie, as they all lie."
"Businessmen. You know, capitalist pigs. Someday us honest working people are going to rise up against their foul injustices, and the streets will run red with their blood, and the people will rejoice, and we will return to the law of nature, with the skulls of the rich stuck on pikes to forever warn us against ever again sucumbing to the capitalist plague."
"...Riiight. What are pikes?"
"I dunno, spear things or something."
"Huh." She paused. "So what do your parents do?"
"I live with my grandfather," Yugi said, and munched another mouthful of sour cereal. "He runs a game shop."
"Duel Monsters cards, and older games, and such."
"So he's a businessman."
"So he's a capitalist."
Yugi shrugged. "We all are. So?"
"I thought you wanted to see the streets run red with the blood of the wealthy capitalist oppressors."
"Huh. So did I." He munched thoughtfully. "Weird. I don't actually think that. Then again, my grandfather doesn't actually fall under the category of 'wealthy', so..."
"I think he's just generalizing from this one guy we know," Yami said, walking around the corner of a tent. "He's a rich businessman, and he's clinically insane. Bullies us and our friends all the time. Seriously psychotic. Hi Yugi. I didn't know you were a communist."
Yugi looked at him strangely. "I'm not. I didn't know you had the right to exist."
"Yes, you wouldn't believe the lowlifes they give that to."
"Whoa," the tomato-seller said, suddenly noticing Yami's hair. "You're Yami?"
"You guys have the same hair! Are you brothers or something? I thought you said you were just friends!"
"II don't even know anymore." Yugi dropped his head to his lap. "I swear to anything, I don't even know anymore. I don't think I ever really did."
"He's having a bad weekend," Yami said.
"And it's all YOUR fault," Yugi snapped, entirely recovered.
"It actually isn't, as it happens."
"What! It it my fault for getting angry, you're saying! I could have had a marvelous time if only I wasn't so full of hate!"
"GO BACK TO YOUR STUPID CONCERT AND DON'T COME BACK 'TILL WE CAN LEAVE!"
"We can leave now," Yami said.
Yugi was silent for a moment. "What?" he finally said, with a disturbing lack of emotion.
"We can go now. This isn't a good concert. It's a long lineup of pretentious hacks pretending to rock on in the spirit of love and the age of Aquarius only so that they can sell ridiculously overpriced merchandise to hopelessly nostalgic morons. So we can leave."
"You're not happy?"
"You drag me ALL the way out here, to this STUPID thing, and then we just LEAVE!"
"...Yes, it does appear so."
Yugi screamed at the top of his lungs. Yami winced and clapped his hands over his ears as the tomato-seller ducked under her table.
"...Are you done?" he asked, hesitantly.
"That really did hurt me more than it hurt you."
"That was the POINT!"
"Yes, it was, wasn't it?" Yami blinked. "You do still want to leave, right?"
"FINE!" Yugi stormed away, muttering curses under his breath.
"He's having a really bad weekend," Yami explained to the tomato-seller. "He's usually not like this. And it really isn't his fault."
"STOP APOLOGIZING FOR ME!"
"I have to go," Yami said, and quickly ran to catch up with Yugi.
"So!" Yugi snapped.
"So how are we going to get home!"
"Oh, I met this nice couple who are heading our way."
"We're hitching again!"
"You really need to overcome your prejudice against hippies, Yugi. It's simply not acceptable nowadays."
Yugi said nothing. And kicked him. Hard.
"Ow!" Yami cried. "Just because I'm dead doesn't mean I don't have any feelings!"
"Yeah it does."
"Well, mostly, but it doesn't!"
"Well, if you were a normal dead guy, you wouldn't. And that's hardly my fault, is it?"
Yami shrugged. "I don't know. I can't remember."
"How could it possibly be my fault!"
"Hey, Moonflower, Bob!" Yami called. "This is my little brother Yugi!"
The couple stopped their loading of the car to stare at him uncomprehendingly.
"The one I was telling you about?" Yami prompted.
"Oh! Yeah," said the woman, rushing up to shake Yugi's hand. "I'm Bob."
"Hi, uh, Bob," Yugi said, and shook her hand.
"That's my lifemate Moonflower."
"Hi!" Moonflower waved and slammed down the lid of the trunk.
"You're riding with us, right?" Bob headed for the car. "Hop in!"
"Moonflower and Bob?" Yugi hissed as they walked toward the car.
"It was a deeply strange time that they were born in. Also, I think their minds have gone."
"If we get murdered," Yugi said, his voice low and dripping with dark malice, "I will haunt you untiluhforever."
"I thought that was my job." Yami opened the back door and gestured for Yugi to go in first. Hating him deeply for it, Yugi did.
"Okay!" Moonflower got in the car. "Keys, keys, where're the keys..."
"In your hand," Bob said.
"Oh! Right." Moonflower chuckled and started the car. "To our cosmic journey!"
"'Till past forever," Yugi whispered.
"Uh-huh," said Yami.
"You okay back there?" Bob asked, as they got onto the road.
"Yes," Yami said.
"As well as can be expected," Yugi said, as civilly as he could manage.
"It's not too low for you, is it?"
Yugi and Yami looked at each other. "Is what too low?" Yami asked.
"The ceiling," Bob said. "It's a compact car, you know, and whenever we drive our friends around somewhere, they always complain..." She looked back at them.
Yugi and Yami looked at each other again, suddenly aware that Yami's hair barely even touched the ceiling.
"Wow," Bob said. "You are gifted by the Cosmic Powers that Be with an exceptional lack of height! You're so blessed."
Yugi and Yami stared at her.
"Thanks," Yugi finally grated out.
Bob beamed at them. "And such hair! It must be really thick. You should let it down, it would be prettier that way."
"We can't," Yami said.
"We tried," Yugi said.
"For a very long time," said Yami.
"And it just won't do anything else," said Yugi.
Bob contemplated that. "Well, it's a good look for you, I guess. Certainly means nobody'll ever miss you in a crowd!"
"You'd be surprised," Yugi said quietly.
"Especially with the flowers," Bob added.
"Flowers?" Yugi's head snapped up, and turned to look at Yami's head. To his shock and horror, he realized there was now a daisy embedded in each spike, the stems and flowers emerging from the tips like the strangest flower arrangement ever. "What in the!"
"Looks better, doesn't it?" Moonflower chirped happily.
Yugi started to answer, then decided he probably shouldn't.
"We should give you some, too," Bob said.
"Uh, no thanks," Yugi said, and rapidly tried to come up with an excuse. "People will be able to tell us apart now! We've always had trouble with that."
"It's true," Yami agreed.
Bob shrugged. "Okay. Your little brother seems to feel much better now."
"Yes. Strange, isn't it?"
Yugi glared at Yami, annoyed at being talked about as if he wasn't even there.
"Not really," Moonflower said, chuckling. "After all, this is the car of good vibrations!"
"Oh, yes! Which reminds me!" Bob produced a cassette tape and shoved it into the player.
"If you're goiiiing..."
Yugi moaned, almost inaudibly, and sank into his seat, praying for the trip to end.
"Yes, this is it. Yugi, wake up." Yami shook him.
"Wha? We're there already?"
"You must have fallen asleep. Come on." Yami opened the car door, pulling Yugi out after him. "Thank you so much, Moonflower, Bob! We won't forget you!"
"May the love of the universe be with you!" Bob called back, as the hippies drove away.
"You are so going to forget them," Yugi said, as he pushed open the door.
"Grandpa!" Yugi called. "The lunatic decided to let us come home!"
"Excellent!" Grandpa came up and hugged Yugi. "How did it go?"
"Okay. Sit down on the couch. I'll make some tea and you can tell me all about it before dinner."
"Great! See, it all started with Yami going utterly insane."
Yami rolled his eyes and walked away.
"...and finally, he got us a ride with these hippies!" Yugi yelled, some time later. "Moonflower and Bob!"
Grandpa shook his head. "What kind of parent would name their child 'moonflower'?" he mused.
"Same kind that would name their girl Bob."
"Wow. You have had an exciting day."
"I wouldn't use that word, but, yes."
"What word would you use?"
"I don't knowterrible, horrifing, pointlessly painful, hel"
"Forget I asked," Grandpa said. "I'll make dinner, and then you can rest up or do whatever you like, okay?"
"Okay," Yugi said.
Grandpa smiled and ruffled Yugi's hair before he went into the kitchen.
Yugi sighed, sinking a little further into the couch. It had been a terrible day, so terrible that the hate Yami had sparked in him had not entirely died out. It would, though, he knew, and for now he was happy.
"Yugi?" Grandpa called. "Have you seen the dishes anywhere?"
Yugi's head snapped up.
"YAMI?" Yugi stormed around. "YAMI!"
He shoved the front door open and found Yami sitting serenely on the street. On a blanket. With the plates. And a frying pan. And some chessboards. And a sign made out of cardboard that said "Free Store".
"What is it, Yugi?" Yami asked.
Yugi stared at him, seething. He bent down, picked up the plates, hurled the door open, and stormed inside.
Yami shrugged and turned away. A moment later, Yugi came back out, picked up the frying pan, hit Yami upside the head with it with all his strength, and walked back inside.
"Oh my God!" Yugi's grandfather rushed out. "Are you all right!"
"I am, fortunately, already dead," Yami said, though his voice was deeply muffled. "Ow."
"God, II don't know what's come over Yugi, hitting you like that! I"
"He'll get over it," Yami said. "Soon." He paused. "Very soon, I think. Hope."
"I don't understand it," Yugi's grandfather said, shaking his head. "It isn't like him! It"
"Oh my God, Yami!" Yugi rushed back out the door and kneeled beside Yami. "Oh my God, are you okay?"
"I was dead already, I'm fine," Yami said, lifting his head a little.
"I don't know what came over me, I'mI'm so sorry!" Tears started to fill his eyes.
"Don't worry, it wasn't your fault," Yami said, getting up. "Let's put all of this away while your grandfather heats up the leftovers."
"Okay." Yugi sniffed and picked up as much as he could. Grandpa, now thoroughly confused, decided to heat up the leftovers and hope someone would eventually get around to explaining it to him.
"God, Yami, I'm so sorry."
"I didn't mean it!"
"Yes, I know." Yami held open the door.
"I don't know what happened! It's so strange!"
"It seemed so rational at the time, and then it suddenly didn't, and I realized what I'd done, and I couldn't believe it, because I'd never do that to you, except I did, and"
"I know. It's perfectly all right."
"I have no idea what came over me! I'm so sorry!"
"Yugi? Please stop."
"Okay." Yugi sniffed some more. "You can have my dinner."
"I don't eat, Yugi. It's okay. You didn't mean it. ... Well, you meant it, but it wasn't your fault you meant it, so..."
"What?" Yugi blinked at him.
"Leftovers are ready!" Grandpa called.
Yugi walked, with his head down, to the table. Yami sighed and followed.
"Oh, and if anyone wants to tell me what's been going on, that would be really nice," Grandpa said.
"I have no idea," Yugi said, still horrified. "I have no idea what came over me, I'm so sorry!"
"Well, that Yami of yours seems to." He fixed a stare at him. "Care to explain? Or do you want to see what happens when Mr. Puzzle meets Mr. Incinerator?"
"You didn't have to threaten me," Yami said primly. "What did he look like?"
Grandpa stared at him blankly. "What did who look like?"
"The person who came in here seeking the king of games."
Grandpa blinked. "Oh! Yes. I was about to tell you about that when you called, Yugi, but the time must have run out. One of your friends came asking for you."
Yugi blinked. "What did he look like?"
"Lime-green hair, long black cloak, weird black tattoo on his forehead... He didn't seem to know your name, just was looking for the 'yuugioh'. I did as Yami told me to and directed him to that kids' tournament at the fast-food place. Was that okay?"
"Yes. Did he ever come back?"
"Yes, as it happens. He said that wasn't what he meant, and I told him that was the only king of games I could think of. Then he went away. He hasn't come back."
Yami laughed a little. "What a poser. That's just lame."
Yugi momentairily forgot his question and stared at him.
Yugi shook his head quickly. "Do you know who he was?"
Yami shrugged. "Not by name or anything, but it hardly matters. He's another one of those idiots who wants the Puzzle."
Yugi blinked. "Is that why we went on that ridiculous trip? So we wouldn't be here when we came?"
"Oh my God! Wait. How did you know he was coming?"
"You got angry."
Yami smiled; all detectives, plotters, and magicians love the reveal, and Yami could surely fit under at least one of those categories. "Do you remember fourth period yesterday?"
"No," said Yugi, slightly concerned about that.
"You got angry at your science teacher when he told you the science fair was mandatory."
"Oh, yes," Yugi said.
"And you threw chalk at him."
Yugi colored. "I did?"
"Yes. Among other things. It was quite a show. It scared me deeply. I had to tell them your pet dog died so they'd only give you a reprimand. Which, by the way, you should probably get your Grandfather to sign now. It's in your backpack."
Yugi was too red to say anything coherent.
"So that told me something."
"What?" Grandpa asked, curious now.
"Well, I had to search for a few minutes, but I realized that someone had cast a spell to locate us. Or, actually, Yugi."
"What!" Yugi cried.
"They must have gotten his signature from, I don't know, the location of some tournament we played, I don't know. They tracked Yugiwell, it should have been because, being, well, alive, Yugi's signature is more distinct and takes less energy to find, but given the average practical intelligence of the people who come searching for us, he probably just couldn't tell the difference."
"A locating spell," Yugi said.
"You have got to teach me how to do that."
"I'm sure you'll find a way to rope me into it."
Yugi shook his head. "But why did that make me so irritable?"
"Simple," Yami said, smiling in a way that would have been insanely infuriating to Yugi half an hour ago, and still bothered him a bit. "You subconsciously realized that the spell was coming and changed your signature. To do that, you had to act completely unlike yourself, so that the spell wouldn't recognise you. And thus, the extreme rage, which began, ebbed, and ended with the spell."
"Aaaah," Yugi said. "Butif people do that when someone puts a locator spell out for them, then why would anyone bother with those spells at all? If it wouldn't work."
"Usually, they do," Yami said. "People generally either don't realize there's a spell out for them, or don't change their behavior nearly enough."
"Then why did I?"
Yami shrugged. "I would assume that it's somehow my fault. But I don't know."
"So when you got onto this hippie bentyou were just trying to make me angrier!"
Yami nodded. "It wouldn't have worked as well on your own. You wanted to be angry at something, and by being infuriating, I amplified that angerlike a feedback loop. You want to be angry, and you're already genuinely angry at something, so you get angrier at it, and you still want to be more angry than you are, so you do, and..."
Yugi nodded slowly. "So this whole hippie thing was a lie?" he asked hopefully.
"Of course. I saw a flier at your school for it, and it was the best thing I could think of. I thought that he'd eventually give up, and think that the spell didn't work, so we would not only escape him, and another time- and energy-consuming match, but hopefully also get him to retaliate in some way against the irresponsible idiot who taught him that spell. If it stopped one more idiot from nearly killing us, I thought it would be worth it."
Yugi nodded. "So you're not a hippie now."
"Heck no! It's far too naive for me. Harmony, communism, dependence on the kindness of others, flowers in your hair..." Yami rolled his eyes. He noticed, after a moment, the other two staring at him, and, after another moment, yanked the wilting daisies out of his hair.
"Thank God. I was scared there for a while."
"No, that decade isn't my style." He paused. "The seventies, however..."
"Yami? You do know disco sucks?"
"It does not. Besides, there was a great deal of great non-disco music back then!"
"...You've been going through the vinyl records, haven't you?"
"It gets boring when you make me stay at home."
"Riight." Yugi turned his attention to his food at last.
"I mean it!"
"I need to buy more alcohol," Yugi's grandfather said to himself.
One disaster (hopefully) averted, life went back to normal in the Mutou household.
Except, as they could all tell you, "normal" can be a wildly fluctuating thing...