Disclaimer: If I owned Yu-gi-oh, the ending would have ended up more like this, if not outright shonen-ai…

A/N: This is me trying to write that reward-fic for Daikaio. Devotion-style again, sorry. Stream-of-consciousness seems to be easiest currently. I'm going to start writing and see where I end up. It's a little confusing where the hes and hims mean Yami or Yugi, but you should be able to figure it out if you look at it…mostly, and the blurring between the two of them is important.

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They'd watched him for weeks, after the Pharaoh, Atemu, had left.

They'd called him the Other Yugi, first, echoing him, back when he'd called him the Other Me. At first… he'd been so scared then, it made him smile looking back. When he hadn't known what was going on, why he was blacking out, why terrible things were happening to those who did wrong, but he had known, underneath, in his soul.

But his mind hadn't known, except that he wasn't scared. And that had been the scariest thing of all. That some… presence was taking him over, dealing out vengeance that seemed horrific but he'd always known was just, and he wasn't afraid. He didn't mind at all.

That he was insane; that there was a voice in his head… he hadn't been afraid at all.

The only thing he'd feared was losing the new friends he'd gained, the old friend he'd become closer to than sharing games in his room and watching her twirl around laughing, so graceful and not caring he was so small and clumsy.

And then he had known, and seen, and watched.

And then the Other Me had slowly become a badge of pride. That this presence, so strong and sure and warm was somehow a part of him, that he was this brave, this fierce as well as loyal.

He'd wanted to reach out, to aid as well as be aided, and on the one hand it was a little frustrating and on the other it was so sweet that it had been almost unbearable that the presence had insisted on guarding him, not burdening him.

So grateful to him for allowing its presence, letting it have this half-freedom, this half-life, it also, Yami also, felt as though he did not do enough for him. For Yugi, the one no one but his Grandpa and Anzu had bothered with for years…

So horribly guilty for burdening him, as though Yugi wasn't the burden, always needing to be saved…

And he swelled with pride, even now the world held him in highest renown, greater pride than anything else could cause that sometimes, just a few times, he had helped him, saved him, lifted him up and shown him how good and brave he was, just as Yami had shown him.

But Yami would have… early on, smiled quizzically then truly, later on ruffled his hair calling him Aibou, Partner, and laughing.

Yami. Darkness, he'd named himself, after Pegasus had given the first clue to his identity.

Don't you know the Millenniums are evil, are darkness? He knew, his Grandpa had told him, and he didn't care. He'd told Yami that, then, and seen that same quizzical, this is too good to be true look.

And then a smile.

And then he'd been able to invite the spirit, invite Yami to share his thoughts, share his day, share his worries and dreams. It had made him so happy, every time Yami had looked away and cautiously asked him if Yugi truly didn't mind him intruding.

That Yami valued him, his thoughts and privacy, so much he'd be willing to go back in the puzzle if Yugi had been even slightly discontent at his presence… but that presence was the greatest of his friends, and neither of him would ever turn a friend away.

He'd gotten the chain to bind the puzzle around his neck; he'd been the one truly worried, not Yami with his trust in fate and their friends, all their friends, human and monster alike. The same heart that beat in the cards beat in Anzu and Jounouchi and Honda when they'd bent all their will to aid him, beat in Seto to rescue his brother and only friend as it still, still beat in Kisara to aid the only one who had ever shown her kindness save her long-dead family.

And, after that… Yami had shared his worries with him, been confident enough in Yugi's friendship to let him bear a burden Yami insisted he had no right to give him, convulsed with guilt at the danger he had placed the young one in… his partner in.

And partners, and friends, shared their worries.

Pharaoh, he'd called him, as others did, to remind Yami he'd had a past, he had memories… in the irony, to remind him he had a name, a name none but them knew. The name Yami had bestowed upon himself in barely remembered guilt, the memories Yugi had sworn he would share with him… and been gratefully accepted.

As he'd reminded him, after the Seal had broken his control that if there was darkness he struggled to hold back, none of that darkness, no evil, was within him. And he'd smiled, and if being apart had broken his heart he'd known he would get him back, even in the depths of his despair.

He'd still called him the other me, to others, or Pharaoh as the mood took him after that. To remind them all, friend and foe, he was a Pharaoh. To remind them all he was a part of him.

He'd never known fear like when he'd been taken from him.

Drawn into darkness, losing touch… had he gone to the afterlife? Would he see him again? But he had. He'd defeated the foe Yami couldn't, as his otherself had defeated the darkness that had destroyed them all, guardian and thief, and sought to do so again and not just them…

He'd had so much to fight for. He'd fought for five millennia, holding it back.

Alone.

And what could stand against evil but justice? What could hide in the darkness, revealed and strengthened by light, but shadow?

To fight evil, one has to fight. To protect the good, to guard the borders, the choices no one should have to make must be made. That is the role of a king, of a god, of Shadow.

And the other gods bowed to him, yielded to the glory of his Light.

And he'd smiled, and called him the other me, called him Atem, as he walked into the light, to be with them again. With all his friends.

Back with him. Mind in mind, soul in soul…

His friends had worried. Worried that he'd lost someone so important to him, lost part of his soul.

Lost? Dead? Gone?

How could he leave?

Leave here, where his cousin looked out through grouchy eyes, protecting his little brother as he'd failed to protect his cousin, fulfilling his Pharaoh's wish to protect the people with benefits packages and praising the gods and the spirits with glorious images that brought those the world over together in just battle…

Leave where a girl who'd lost her innocence a thousand times yet snatched it back with bloody hands gazed in worship at the brother who'd died protecting her, who fought every day to win renown, so he would never fail his little sister again, never fail his wife again… their first child would be the one she'd died beside him still holding.

Leave the energetic little priestess who'd bossed him into eating enough to get through the next day, each day after his father had died, knowing she was risking her head to do so… leaving the guard who had kept silence as she did so...

Leaving his old tutor… the land beyond the sunrise was the world anew, the world again. And here they all were: those he'd never lived to meet then and those he'd known all his life and those he met the first time here.

How could he ever let his soul leave him, how could he ever leave his soul. Save to protect it, save to protect it all. This world, these people, who watched him worriedly as they had before, as he smiled and knew his story was just beginning, at the age it had ended before.

Here with the light warming his shadows and his shadows curled around his light, hiding and protecting and strengthening him, when before he had almost guttered out in the cold, cruel winds…

They'd smiled and known he was fine in the end, or else he would have had to tell them something none but a god should know. They knew he was happy and whole.

Surrounded by cheering fans, acolytes wielding duel disks of steel and plastic instead of electrum and bronze, surrounded by friends…

Heaven was here. And so he smiled, and laughed, and played, and reached out to aid those who had the spark of knowing in their eyes, if not understanding.

He wondered when he'd look into a child's eyes and see his father, battered and bruised by betrayal yet still looking out.

Then they would all, truly, be home.