Title: Choose Your Reality 1?

Author: Sorceress Fantasia

Pairings: Too many to write here; mainly YY/Y

Warnings: AU, slight angst, spoilers for YGO's ending, maybe an OC or two, humour

Archive: Finally Fantasia (my homepage)

Disclaimer: I would love to say I own Yu-gi-Oh, but sadly, I don't. I own only this plot.

Intro: They say that for every universe that exists, there is another universe that runs parallel to it. But when Yami discovers that, he also finds himself faced with two Yugis: one who sees him as his best friend, and another who loves him more than life itself.

Note: Inspired by a short (one-shot, in fact) manga by Watase Yui, who is also the author for 'Fushigi Yugi' and 'Ayashi no Ceres'.

When Yami lost the ceremonial battle, he had been prepared to leave for the afterlife like everyone had expected him to. Or so he thought. It had taken only one backward glance, one soulful look and all thoughts of leaving were banished immediately like dust in the wind. It had taken just that to break the heart of the former pharaoh of Kemet, the morning star and the son of the Nile, and he, against his better judgments, decided to live out his mortal life. Yami would never forget the moment he turned back and saw Yugi gazing at him, smiling poignantly while soft tears were gathering in his amethyst eyes.

It had been all well and good in the beginning actually, when Yugi would talk to him enthusiastically and hug him for all he was worth. On his mischievous days, his little hikari would even pounce on him to wake him up. They shared a bed during thunderstorms, snuggled under the same blanket when they were watching a horror movie at home, and picked food from each other's plates. Yami honestly thought that he would have Yugi all to himself forever.

But apparently, even forever had a limit.

Just two months ago, Yugi had gotten up enough courage to ask Anzu, his long-time crush, out for dinner. And he had made it quite clear that it was just the two of them, in a nice, cozy restaurant he had stumbled upon one day.

Yami had not even seen that coming, but he had let it slide, thinking that Anzu was just too shy at rejecting Yugi in front of everyone. After all, he was sure that Anzu had always haboured a crush towards himself. How wrong he was.

Soon, one date became two, and two became three… it wasn't long before Yugi and Anzu were declared an official couple with the catcalls of Jonouchi and Honda from the sidelines. Courtesy of the two loudmouths, news of the relationship swept across the school like wild fire and for days, everyone was amazed at how poised Yugi was when he defended his girlfriend. It was then that things finally sank into Yami's head, that Anzu really liked Yugi, and that the relationship had been set in stone.

After that, it became commonplace for Yami to find himself left at home with Sugoroku jii-san on the many nights that Yugi went out with his girlfriend. Tonight was no different.

He leaned his forehead against the cool windowpane in his room, sighing. He remembered a time when he reveled in the way the raindrops splashed against the windows and how the lightning streaked across the night sky like a huge tear for the rain to fall. But that had been a long time ago, when Yugi would crawl under his covers to seek comfort and warmth from the storm. And Yami always welcomed him with opened arms, holding him close and whispering in his ear when the rain passed, they would see the most magnificent rainbow.

Now, however, the rainstorm was keeping Yugi away from home. Just minutes ago, the hikari had called back, telling him that Mrs. Mizaki forbade him from leaving their house and had in fact prepared a room to let him stay overnight. The rain, she said, was just too heavy for a safe trip.

The logical side of Yami's mind had to agree. From the way it was raining, he wouldn't be surprised if he were to find Domino flooded by the next morning. But the other side of his mind, the possessive side, growled at the loss of his precious aibou. Anzu and her mother were plotting something, he was sure. They were probably busy devising some devious schemes to further ensnare Yugi.

For the umpteenth time for the night, Yami gritted his teeth and pound a frustrated fist against the window. The pane shook in its frame, as though trembling from fear at the pharaoh's wrath. But in his frustration, Yami could see nothing but how his Yugi was drifting away.

How could he have not foreseen this turn of events? How had he let the one he loved so deeply fall for another right before his own eyes?

He had been so sure, that day when Yugi cast him that soulful look as he stood at the threshold of the gate to the afterlife, that his little one loved him. Perhaps even loved him as deeply as he did him. It was for this love that Yami had decided to stay behind. But had he misjudged? Had that soulful look been just a figment of his over-active imagination? Had he fooled himself into believing that Yugi did not want him to leave?

It was too late for regrets, however. Pharaoh Atemu had chosen his fate, and there was no turning back. The gods had warned him, had cautioned him that if he gave up his only chance at the afterlife, he would become mortal and hence be doomed to a mortal life filled with sickness, aging and death. There would be no more shadow magic, no more miracles, and most of all, no more paradise in the afterlife. Where he would go, after his mortal death, would be a result of Anubis' weighing (1) and discretion.

But surely, nothing Anubis deal to him could be worse than what he was already experiencing. An empty house, an empty bed, an empty heart. His heart could not even afford to bleed in pain, for he was supposed to be happy for his hikari, wasn't he? He, as a guardian, should be happy that his young charge was in love with a girl who loved him back! After all, falling in love with a girl was better than falling in love with a boy, especially in this day and age where homosexuals were mostly frowned upon. Yami only had to see how Ryou and Bakura were treated to know this. If it weren't for Bakura's nasty temper and stubbornness, the couple would have been picked on by every bully in the school and then some.

Still, this knowledge didn't ease the pain in his heart.

Yami looked out of the window again. Back in those days of his prosperous kingdom, rain had been a luxury and a joy to see. It was rare; so rare that people thought it was a miracle that it rained at all, let alone a storm as heavy as this one. As the rain cooled down the dry, hot earth like a gift from heaven, it wasn't uncommon for people to wish for something as the gift was bestowed. It was much like how people wished upon a shooting star nowadays.

And tonight, Yami made a wish.

"I only wish for Yugi to return my love, in a world where our love is not judged by the gender of our other half but by the intensity of our feelings. That's all I want, and that's all I ever need," he whispered, voice almost drowned out by the loud splattering of the raindrops. His sigh faded away in the night.

Strangely, the storm wasn't as bad as it seemed, and two days later, Domino was as dry as it could get. And it was just the right time for the sakura feast, something the group of friends participated every year. It seemed that no one could resist the beauty of the sakura flowers, especially when a breeze came by and swept the fallen petals away in a whirlwind. But actually, this was the one of the rare times that everyone could meet up.

Leaning against a sakura tree trunk, Yami stared across from where he was seated on the straw mat. Jonouchi and Mai were laughing at their own little joke, occasionally poking at each other. Honda and Otogi were trying to drink each other under, much to the distress of their respective girlfriends, Miho and Shizuka. The two girls were already pouting, and it wasn't long before their boyfriends turned back to them. On the other side, Mokuba was eating from the picnic basket and talking animatedly to Anzu; those two had gotten pretty close after Anzu risked her life to save the younger during Battle City. Kaiba was hovering nearby, keeping to himself and at the same time, keeping a watchful eye on his brother.

Nobody asked where Ryou and Bakura were because they all knew. There was little doubt that they were at home, enjoying a little time to themselves and for Ryou to lick his wounds in the privacy of his own apartment. As much as Bakura loved and protected him, even he could not protect the boy's fragile heart from being hurt by the rejection he received from his family. Having invested so much hope in Ryou, his parents were devastated when they found out that their dear little boy was gay.

Yami sulked inwardly. Some parents those two were.

Suddenly, he spied his aibou waving for Anzu. Yami did not bother to even listen to what they were saying. He already knew. Hours earlier, Yugi had showed him, with no small amount of excitement, the thing that was currently threatening to eat his heart out from the core. It was tradition, he said, to carve a love umbrella (2) and the names of lovers under it on a sakura trunk, not just as an open declaration of their love for also as a prayer for happy times ahead. And there it was, staring in his face as though gloating, the love umbrella bearing Yugi and Anzu's names.

"It's supposed to bless you with a smooth sailing relationship! And others say that it also casts a charm of sorts to make you fall in love even more!" he said with a laugh, hopefulness shining in his amethyst eyes.

So that was how it was? He had given up paradise for a meager existence, ignored by his friends, put aside by his hikari, and forgotten by the rest of the world? Battle City marked the end of days of dueling and hanging out together. It was after that tournament that Jonouchi and the rest quickly found their other halves, and the lovers promptly made their relationship priority. Not even Yami's friendship, the same thing that had tided them over so many challenges and encouraged them to do things they never thought they could, was good enough to keep them with him. The millennium puzzle that still hung from both Yami and Yugi's necks no longer bound them together as a yami and a hikari; its weight served only as mockery directed at him, telling him that he was just that: a burden.

He laughed deprecatingly, soft enough to let the winds carry it away. But Yami was certain that even if he laughed out loud, no one would notice his presence. The couples were too caught up in themselves to care; even Kaiba had his brother to fuss over.

Yami slipped away silently. It was getting too hard to stay there, bearing witness to what he wanted but could never have. His little angel was too busy romancing his girlfriend to notice how he always looked at him with such love, with such tenderness.

Usually, when the sakura bloomed and the sweet smell wafted through the chilly air, the streets would be packed with bustling activity under every sakura tree. People danced under it, picnicked under, sang under it. Everyone in Japan seemed to love the annual sakura feast. This year, however, the avenues were oddly empty except for a few sparse families picnicking. Still, the number of love umbrellas on the trees did not seem to decrease.

Yami's heart wrenched. He continued walking along the streets, not knowing where to go. He was reluctant to return home; Sugoroku jii-san would only worry for him.

That was when he saw it. A solitary sakura tree -an oddity in itself since the trees usually grew in bunches- with a clean, untouched trunk. The flowers were more brightly coloured and more beautiful than the others, and its trunk slim and yet sturdy. Its beauty was unrivalled, its strength unmatched. It was as though it were a phoenix standing among a bunch of sparrows, its sparkling feathers dimming the dull brown of its counterparts'. It was too easy to tell which the truly striking one was.

It seemed to beckon Yami, and he answered without a word, walking towards it in a trance-like state. Standing before it, he made a decision. He pulled out the small ornamental dagger –a gift from Yugi after his so-called rebirth- he always carried and plunged it into the thick bark. With a few swift strokes, he finished up a seamless love umbrella, with his name on one side. Ruby eyes burning with a little more determination, he started to carve another name onto it, the name of the one he would always love. Yugi.

"Yugi…" he whispered forlornly, tracing a finger over the name. Closing his eyes, he made his wish again.

"If you are as good as Yugi says, then give me his love. Let him love me like he loves no other. And let me be his only one. Forever."

A gust of wind rushed down, pulling the sakura petals with it and before Yami knew it, there was a shower of pink upon him. A dreamier person would probably see it as a shower of blessing, but Yami knew better. He had been made cynical, made skeptical. His friends had made sure of that.

Mentally chastising himself, he turned to go. It was about time he returned… but to where, he didn't know.


(1): According to legends, Egyptians are required to let Anubis weigh their hearts against objects representing truth and justice after their death. Basically, it's just like what Shadi did with the millennium scales.

(2): I have seriously no idea what to call this thing they carve on the sakura trunks. It looks like an arrow more than an umbrella actually, and people carve their names and the names of their boyfriend/girlfriend under it on the other side of the arrow.