A/N: Finally I have a new story! I'm interested to see what you guys will think of it, since it's a little different than my usual writing style... Also I'm posting this as I go along instead of having the fic finished to start with, so updates will be a bit slower, but I'm aiming for once a week.
This fic is dedicated to Dragon for helping me with plot ideas, and to Rekall just because I like her and I want to.
Disclaimer: I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh.
Yami slowly lowered his binoculars and set them beside him on the damp, musky ground. Polaris. The North Star. Even that had changed since his days in Egypt. He slowly lifted his hand and, squinting, pointed out Polaris once more. Then he stretched out a slim finger, glowing pale and grey in the moonlight, and traced a line up, up, and to the left until he found what he was looking for.
A dull star, smaller and fainter even than that traitor Polaris. That was what should point north. That star. Yami traced another line with his finger, a serpentine design stretching out from the star of his youth, the North Star he had watched so long ago twinkling in Egyptian skies.
Draco. The Dragon.
His hand shaking now, Yami traced the outline of the constellation once more before picking up his binoculars and climbing from the damp moss. Why did he come here every night? What was the point in sneaking out to go look at the stars…and why didn't he tell anyone he was doing it?
Slowly Yami trudged along the grassy clearing, the ground sinking a little beneath his heavy footfalls until he reached the sidewalk. He couldn't explain his actions, not even to himself. Yugi wouldn't think he was strange for having an interest in the stars – though Jounouchi would probably strain a few brain cells trying to figure out why anyone would care about anything that resembled something educational. Still, Yami kept his nighttime excursions a secret, waiting until Yugi and his grandfather had fallen asleep before grabbing his binoculars and sneaking out here just to look at the sky.
No… he wasn't just looking at the sky. He was looking for it, the same constellation every night. Yami was looking for that picture that twined and twirled across the sky around the new North Star.
He was looking for his dragon.
"Yami. Yami wake up."
Yami groaned, running his palm heavily over his face as he cracked open one bleary eye. A pair of enormous violet eyes stared back at him. He blinked; then shut his eyes again and rolled over.
"What is it, Yugi?" the crimson-eyed young man groaned, feeling fresh waves of exhaustion wash over him as he lay unmoving on his stomach. He had spent far too long looking at the sky last night, and it would be wonderful to just drift back to sleep right now…
"Get UP!" Yugi yelled crossly. "Today's the day I'm leaving for my field trip, and you said you'd help with the shop! Don't tell me you forgot; I reminded you a thousand times! There aren't any tournaments for two months so you don't have a good excuse for not helping, besides being lazy. Don't you want me to have fun? You're being deliberately unhelpful…"
"Alright, ALRIGHT!" Yami groaned sulkily, sitting up in bed and rubbing his eyes. "I didn't forget, Yugi, I'm just tired." Yami glanced warily at the ranting teen, but Yugi's annoyed frown immediately dropped and his violet eyes twinkled merrily when he saw that Yami was awake.
"That's alright, I'm sorry for yelling at you," he said cheerfully, the sudden shift in moods making Yami blink tiredly a few more times. "Now hurry up and get ready, Jiichan and I are leaving soon."
With that, Yugi trounced from the room, humming happily, while a bleary-eyed Yami sank wearily back amidst the covers. He lay there a minute or so longer until he finally convinced his heavy limbs to slide from the bed, since Yugi really needed his help today, though Yami couldn't help worrying a bit at his circumstances. Yugi-tachi were going on some sort of camping field trip for a few days and Jiichan had volunteered to chaperone, which left Yami in charge of the game shop until they returned the next Monday. When Yugi had asked him, Yami really hadn't thought that was a good idea, but the hopeful expression in the young teen's wide violet eyes had squelched any protest.
He just hoped he could get through the weekend without mind crushing anyone.
Though, with everyone gone he'd have more time to look at the stars… As he hurried into the first decent-looking outfit he pulled from his closet, Yami's eyes drifted involuntarily to Yugi's computer, where he'd spent countless secret hours poring over maps and star charts, learning the new names of the bright points in the heavens, the new shapes that replaced the old familiar patterns that glittered over Egypt.
Yami quickly tore his glance away and rushed out the door, wondering for at least the hundredth time why he didn't tell anyone about his fascination for the stars; but as he trudged down the stairs and his fingers automatically traced a familiar winding design along the smooth wood of the banister, Yami knew. He knew; but he wasn't ready to admit it to anyone just yet.
Not even himself.
"Blue Eyes White Dragon, attack!"
A rush of light filled the room and the young, dark-haired duelist covered his eyes with his forearm as his monster's hologram shattered and his life points skidded to zero with the dragon's attack. Blinking as the light gradually faded away, the teen's slate-gray eyes slid to the glaring zero on the duel disk he proudly sported on his arm. "Aw, man!" he grumbled, scowling deeply.
"You lose, Mokuba." Mokuba's nose crinkled in annoyance as he continued to sulk and Seto Kaiba spared a small smile for his brother. "You shouldn't act so surprised." Truthfully, though Seto had an almost spotless dueling record, he really wouldn't have minded if his little brother actually beat him once in a while. He – with the exception of one certain short, crimson-eyed duelist, of course – was the only person Seto could tolerate losing to.
But then, he loved Mokuba. As for Yami…
"Aw, can't you just let me win at least once, Seto?" Mokuba whined.
Seto rolled his eyes. "You know you'd lecture me forever if I did that. You want to beat me on your own – and I'd never just throw a game, anyway. It's pointless; your victory wouldn't mean anything…"
"Yeah, yeah," Mokuba interrupted snidely. But he smiled. "One of these days, though, I'll beat you, and then Yami will have to duel me instead if he wants to keep his title!"
Mokuba strode from the room, gesticulating wildly at nothing as if he were fighting an imaginary battle with the air as Seto followed silently after, trying to ignore the strange twist in his chest at the mention of his rival's name. Mokuba dropped it so casually, as if the young man – or ancient spirit, as he claimed, though Seto still scoffed at that – was a good friend; mentioned Yami's name like he was a part of their daily lives.
Well, for a while he had been, though the "friend" part was something Seto avoided like poison. So why did the thought of him still make Seto feel like he'd taken a step in the dark and hit empty air? Surely he wasn't that obsessed with beating Yami anymore…
Seto had moved on, or thought he had at least, from that unending desire to defeat his rival in a duel. He didn't really need to, not anymore, since he had his company firmly established and Mokuba wasn't being threatened by any maniacs – not recently, anyway. Kaiba Land was up and running and Seto had moved on to other projects, though he always spared time to duel with his brother. Still, though the game would always be important to him, it had gradually become less and less of a driving force in his life.
He often wondered what would take its place.
"Alright, Mokuba, I know you have homework to do. Your tutor's coming in an hour; I really shouldn't have let you come with me this morning," Seto sighed as he followed his brother from the dueling arena and into the bright fluorescent lights of KaibaCorp's hallways. "Come on, I'll take you home."
Mokuba scowled but followed his brother wordlessly, trying to imitate the casual stride of the brunet as he stalked through the halls, his white trenchcoat sweeping out behind him at the slightest gust of air. Seto glanced at the twelve-year-old through the corner of his eye and slowed his gait the tiniest bit, hints of a smirk playing about his lips as Mokuba's shorter strides caught up to his own. "Seto? We still have an hour until my tutor gets there…" Mokuba ventured as they reached the parking lot and climbed into Seto's jet-black convertible.
"Can we please stop by Yugi's game shop because I know you can get me whatever I want but I still want to see what they have and it's fun to shop sometimes, plus Yugi-tachi are probably at school right now so you won't have to see them anyway and I'll only shop for a minute, please?"
Seto blinked. "Ah… sure…"
Mokuba cheered. "Thanks! It's been so long since I actually shopped for cards! Hey, I wonder if they have any Capsule Monster stuff. Do you think they do? But I should really focus on Duel Monsters if I ever want to beat you…"
Seto allowed his brother to ramble on as he started the car and pulled out onto the highway, the boy's chatter vaguely echoing in his ears, though a part of the unresponsive CEO still noticed and registered every word even as he appeared not to notice, his cobalt eyes glued on the busy road.
"Fasten your seatbelt, Mokuba," he said.
"Now Yami, we'll be gone three days, remember. We'll be back early Monday morning. There's food enough in the fridge to last 'til then, and money in the jar in the cabinet if an emergency comes up. Don't leave the cash register unattended unless it's locked; don't let anyone in the shop after it's closed; don't let the shelves get too low, there are boxes in the back room clearly labeled so you can tell which things to restock…"
"Come ON, Jiichan, we're going to be late! Yami knows this stuff already!"
Yami had to fight a grin at the high-pitched whine in his aibou's voice as Yugi tugged impatiently at his grandfather's sleeve. The shorter boy had been excited about this trip for weeks – which Yami suspected had more than a little to do with the idea of being out in the woods with Anzu, in an area known for its romantic scenery – and now he was practically jumping out of his skin at the slightest delay. Though Jiichan's repeated recitations of the rules were a bit annoying.
"I'll be fine. Have fun, you two," Yami assured Jiichan with a smile, and with one last worried glance at his store the old man allowed his grandson to drag him out the door.
Yami watched them go, waiting silently until their departing forms disappeared completely from sight before breathing a loud sigh of relief. He raked his fingers through his spiky hair and let out a low chuckle as he plodded to the store register and sank bonelessly onto Jiichan's stool, his arms stretching out atop the counter and his face following shortly after. He was still so tired… though it definitely wouldn't do to fall asleep. No, he really needed to stay awake…
His head still resting atop his arm, Yami's eyelids slowly drifted shut while his fingers traced achingly familiar patterns across the worn countertop. There was Virgo, and that curved dent was the mane of Leo… up to Ursa Major… and then he was back to the Dragon…
What would he do while Yugi-tachi were gone, really? He doubted the game shop would be very busy, since most of its clients were away on that school camping trip, and Yami couldn't work the entire weekend, anyway. He couldn't spend the whole time stargazing either, and since he really didn't know anyone outside of Yugi-tachi, it would likely become a rather dull weekend.
Yami yawned widely, the idea of a nap becoming more appealing by the second, when the bell above the front door chimed loudly, announcing the entrance of a customer. The crimson-eyed male sat up quickly – oblivious to the red marks his sleeve had left etched across his left cheek – and nodded politely in greeting; until he saw exactly who the customers were and blinked several times in obvious surprise. Then his blood-colored eyes narrowed distastefully. Of course; his first customers had to be those two.
"You'd better not steal anything," Yami warned.
Bakura just smirked at him.
The white-haired thief whispered something to his blonde companion and the two of them snickered viciously before beginning their casual stroll through the game shop aisles. Yami eyed them suspiciously, but since they technically hadn't done anything wrong he couldn't really throw them out – knowing Bakura and Malik they'd tell Jiichan just to cause trouble for Yami. So he merely sat rigid atop his stool and watched the two troublemakers pick up item after item and pretend to study it carefully, sadistic grins painted across their faces all the while.
Eventually Yami let out a low sigh and let his posture relax the tiniest bit. He got the feeling that the two weren't really planning to steal anything, after all, but simply enjoying tormenting him by acting suspicious. It seemed like the sort of thing they would do; lately, since the tomb keeper had come back from Egypt, Malik and Bakura had struck up a strange sort of friendship, their major goal seemingly to simply cause as much trouble as possible for Yami and his friends. Apparently Malik hadn't reformed quite as much as he'd claimed.
Honestly, though, the pair's antics didn't bother Yami all that much. As long as Yugi-tachi were safe, Malik and Bakura could plot as much as they wanted – though of course Yami kept a close eye on them anyway. Yami shifted into a more comfortable position on his stool, glancing at the two fair-haired troublemakers, who had progressed to an enormous display of cards and were removing them all, one by one, before carefully placing them back in the pile in the wrong positions.
Yami sighed once more. It looked like it was going to be a long weekend.
Seto pulled into the parking lot of the Kame Game Shop amid his brother's promises that they would only be there a few minutes and he wouldn't buy much, etc. As he followed the dark-haired boy into the game store, however, a vague sense of uneasiness, a strange, unnamable feeling, settled over Seto – and he didn't think it had anything to do with Mokuba's purchases. But Seto brushed it off, dismissing the feeling as superstitious nonsense, and stepped through the swinging glass door into the shop.
Mokuba ran in eagerly, rushing toward the first brightly-colored display to catch his eye, but the tall CEO followed a little more slowly, observing the store, and paused in amused surprise at the sight that met his gaze. Two fair-haired teens, one thin and pale and the other Egyptian tan, stood in the center of the store, each holding a card in his hand and studying it carefully. Then the two looked at each other, exchanged cards and stared at those for a moment before replacing them in the display and randomly picking up another card.
Yami watched them from behind the counter, his face slightly pink as he glared at them in thinly veiled frustration.
He stood there a moment, deliberating whether or not he wanted to get involved, until Bakura and Malik switched cards again and Yami groaned audibly. Making up his mind, Seto stepped over to the card display and glowered down at the two. "Are you going to buy anything or just keep standing here taking up space?" he drawled disdainfully. They paused, glancing up briefly at Seto before replacing their final cards and strolling toward the door, and Seto heard Yami make a tiny sound of relief.
But then, as Malik opened the door, Bakura grabbed a handful of mangas from the window display and the two thieves took off running at full speed.
"HEY!" Yami shouted, leaping to his feet and sending the metal stool clattering to the floor behind him. He raced toward the door, knocking into Seto on the way and sending the brunet a few steps backward, but by the time Yami burst through the wildly swinging glass door and ran out on the sidewalk Bakura and Malik had disappeared from sight.
Seto watched as the wild-haired teen ran a palm tiredly over his face and muttered something foul under his breath before plodding stiff-legged back into the store and approaching Kaiba once again. Yami stopped a short distance from the brunet and gazed up at him from under thick bangs strewn haphazardly across his angrily flushed face. "Sorry about that Kaiba; may I help you with anything?" He gave Seto a polite, if slightly strained, smile.
"No; Mokuba will find what he wants," Seto answered shortly. Yami nodded and moved past the CEO to begin the painstaking task of rearranging all the merchandise Bakura and Malik had scattered, but as Seto observed the way Yami's shoulders sagged slightly and noticed the decidedly frustrated pout on the other's lips, something moved him to offer his assistance. Seto spoke the words before he'd really even thought about them. "I'll pay for whatever they stole."
Yami whipped his head up in surprise, card packages in both hands. "What? Why?"
Seto shrugged. "I take responsibility for what I do. I provoked them."
"You did not," Yami replied, narrowing his eyes at the brunet. "They would have stolen something anyway, whether you spoke to them or not. And you were just trying to help, so thank you."
"Don't make assumptions about things you know nothing about, Yami."
The spiky-haired teen merely rolled his eyes and went back to rearranging the display.
Seto watched him for a moment, but Yami didn't acknowledge him again, and before long Seto's thoughts turned from the two thieves and he began noticing instead the slim figure of the other, and the way his wild hair swayed and tendrils of the blonde bangs stuck to his slightly sweaty face as he moved, the muscles in his back and his slender legs flexing as Yami stretched to place something on the very top of the display. The brunet's breath hitched slightly and he opened his mouth to say something, though he wasn't sure exactly what, when he felt a tug at his jacket sleeve.
"Seto, I'm done shopping," Mokuba chirped, grinning, when he saw he had his brother's attention. Surprisingly, Mokuba had done as he had promised and only held a few small items tucked under one arm. Seto raised an eyebrow.
"That's all you want? Alright, take it to the counter then." Mokuba nodded and ran off and Seto turned back to Yami, but the other had disappeared, already headed back to the register to check out Mokuba's purchases, so Seto shrugged and followed his brother to where the crimson-eyed teen was carefully stuffing Mokuba's game supplies into a plastic bag.
As soon as Yami handed the bag to Mokuba, the boy grinned excitedly and raced out the door, eager to open everything and examine it. "I'll be in the car, Seto!" he called over his shoulder as he disappeared.
Seto shook his head slightly at his brother's antics before he approached the counter. Yami stared up at him with a serious expression in his exotic eyes, though the corners of his lips tilted up slightly, almost stretching into a full smile as Seto met his gaze and didn't look away, the two frozen in an indefinable moment, merely watching each other, not even really thinking or wondering at their actions. Finally, with a shake of his head Seto tore his eyes away from Yami and dropped a few large bills on the counter, more than enough to pay for Mokuba's toys and whatever Bakura and Malik had stolen.
He turned away before Yami could react but the other's voice stopped him before he reached the door. "Wait Kaiba! You forgot your change!"
Seto snorted and kept walking. "Don't make assumptions about things you know nothing about."