I promise I won't say much in the AN this time since I was really long winded last time.
Okay my lovleies: An early Christmas present for you. And, surprise, a long chapter! That said, read on and please enjoy.
Chapter 5, Reunion
Yugi looked at Yami. He wasn't quite sure what his dark one meant with those words. Taken at face value, they were innocent enough. But there was something there, just under the surface of the voice that he couldn't place. The phrase was cryptic and it confused him. He chuckled silently to himself. Maybe I'm reading too much into him now. I had become so used to trying to see the story beneath the surface when he couldn't remember his old life—I must be looking for something that might not be there.
The two young men sat quietly on Yugi's bed for quite some time. Both were lost in thought. Yami was the first to break the long silence. "Aibou…" Yugi's eyes refocused onto Yami as his strong voice brought him out of his thoughts.
"What are you thinking? You had a faraway look on your face." Yami smiled gently at the other boy.
"Oh. Um, well, I was just thinking about how all of this is so surreal." Liar. Well, not really, it is surreal. Yugi looked down at his hands. He was unconsciously wringing them and he forced himself to stop. He was getting nervous and it was making him even more uncomfortable. Since when do I get nervous around Yami?
Yami could see that Yugi was acting a little edgy. He had noticed his aibou fiddling with his hands and then suddenly stop. He had seen Yugi make that unconscious gesture a few times—mostly when he had been forced into situations where he felt his confidence was lacking. Those were the times when Yugi had pulled his strength from Yami, and Yami had been happy to help. The nervous habit had steadily decreased until it was rare to see it at all. Perhaps my returning from the afterlife is more overwhelming than he has let on. I have an idea. "Do you think we could get together with everyone? Maybe go out for dinner?"
Yugi smiled. Yami always had a way of taking a negative situation and turning it around. This time was no different. "Yeah, that'd be fun. I'll go call the guys and see if they're available." Yugi jumped up off the bed and nearly skipped out of the room with excitement.
Yami watched as Yugi retreated from the room. He had been so excited to return, but he hadn't expected to feel like he was interrupting Yugi's life. What was I expecting? Perhaps my expectations were too high. I haven't spent a day without watching him, but Yugi has had to move on with his life. He has built a world that doesn't include me in it. Perhaps I was wrong to return?
"Yami!" Yugi yelled up the stairs.
"Yes Aibou?" The voice came from behind him. Yugi spun around so fast that he nearly knocked into Yami who stood right behind him.
"Sheesh! Don't scare me like that!" Yami chuckled at Yugi's outburst. "Jonouchi, Ryou and Honda are going to meet us at six o'clock. Otogi'll be there at six-thirty. I didn't bother calling Malik since he won't be off of work until late this evening."
"Well, let's get going. It should be nice to see the group once again."
"Well, you could change out of your shenti into some normal clothes. Most of my stuff should fit, especially since we're nearly the same size now."
Yami looked at Yugi. He had grown. Yugi was almost the same height as himself now, and his childlike features had matured. Those beautiful violet eyes had stayed nearly the same though—perhaps as a testament to the bright light that still burned inside Yugi.
"Alright, let me go see what I can find. I'll be back in a minute." He glanced back over his shoulder at Yugi before he walked up the stairs. The boy had already settled on the couch to wait, keeping busy by flipping through channels on the television. Yami continued up the stairs to change.
After about fifteen minutes, Yugi looked over at the stairs. Geez, he's taking awhile. I hope he's not having any trouble. "Yami! Are you okay up there?" Yugi yelled up the stairs. He waited for a reply. No response. "Yami?" Still nothing. Getting a little worried, Yugi made his way upstairs to his bedroom. He cracked open the door, making sure to keep his eyes lowered. "Yami? Are you okay in here?"
"Um, Aibou?" Yugi looked up at Yami. "A little help here?" Yami looked over at Yugi sheepishly. He was standing in front of Yugi's closet, attempting to untangle a maroon shirt from its many buckles and zippers. Yami held the shirt out to Yugi who took it and began to flip the shirt in and out, twisting it around itself until it was back to its normal shape.
"What made you pick this one?" Yugi held up the open shirt so Yami could slip it on.
"It looked interesting." Yami shrugged the shirt on with Yugi's help, and then turned around to face him. Yugi zipped up the front of the shirt and began to buckle the many straps that Yami had managed to undo during his struggle with the garment. After finishing the last buckle, Yugi looked to Yami's face. A faint blush crept onto his cheeks when he saw Yami staring at him intensely. I could drown in those eyes. Yugi broke the gaze and turned away awkwardly.
"I think we should get going."
Yami did not reply. He followed Yugi out of the room and down to the living room. He watched as Yugi grabbed his keys and made his way to the front door.
"Come on Yami! Let's go!"
"Alright Aibou, I'm coming."
The two boys stepped through the door to Tony's Pizza Place. The parlor had opened up during the summer between their last year of high school and their first at university. Now, it was a regular hangout spot for Yugi and his friends. You could almost always find at least one of them there studying or just having a good time. The owner was an American named Tim, and had turned out to be a great tutor in English and History.
Yugi led Yami through the obstacle course of tables and chairs to the back where there was a large semi-circle booth. Jonouchi was already seated there, carrying on a heated conversation with Tim. As the two boys neared the table, it appeared that they were discussing Jonouchi's latest project for his advertising class.
"Hey guys!" Yugi waved at the two men at the table. They waved back without looking up from the stack of paper. Neither had noticed Yami.
"Hey Yug! How's it goin'? You skipped out on us yesterday. What's goin' on man? What was so important that you'd ditch us?" Jonouchi looked over his best friend, and realized that he had brought another person with him. His eyes widened as he realized who it was.
Yami had hung back a little bit from Yugi. He was feeling out of place, which was unusual for him. Having just come to the realization that he might be intruding on Yugi's life, he only had one thought, this evening was going to be interesting.
"Uh, Yug? Am I seeing two of you?" The question sounded dumb to Jonouchi even as he asked it. Yugi looked at him and then at Yami. His dark partner had that odd look on his face again. He wasn't acting like he used to around Yugi.
"No, Jonouchi." Yugi spoke calmly, knowing that this situation was going to get tougher before it got any easier. "You are seeing just fine. Yami is back from the afterlife. He returned here late last night."
"Huh?" Was heard from both Jonouchi and Tim as they stared at Yugi then to Yami and back again.
Tim had heard the many fantastic stories from Yugi and his friends. He hadn't really believed many of them, writing most of them off as products of overactive imaginations. Some of the stories were just too fantastic to believe; saving Atlantis from its ancient ruler who wanted to destroy the world, saving the world in Ancient Egypt. Yes, saving the world seemed to be a common theme in the stories. He remembered that the group had spoken fondly of one of the ones that left at the end of the great adventures—the yamis—they called them. Supposedly he was Yugi, or was a part of Yugi, or was something to Yugi. He never understood how that relationship worked. Tim's mind regressed back to the two standing in front of him. The new boy standing in front of him looked identical to Yugi, perhaps only an inch or two taller. Could it all be true?
Jonouchi was the first to recover from his temporary stupor. "What are you saying Yug? That Yami's back? That's Yami?"
"Yes." Yugi studied Jonouchi's face as the other boy processed this information. He wasn't sure what to expect at this point.
"Oh. Um, well…"
Yami stepped forward and looked down at Jonouchi. "Jonouchi, it is me."
Jonouchi's eyes widened, finally, with recognition. He stood up from the table and walked over to Yami. Slowly he raised his hand up to the ancient Pharaoh and moved it forward until it rested on his shoulder. He's solid. And warm. And Yugi's over there. "It's you."
Yami smiled at the boy in front of him. Jonouchi took that smile as an invitation and pulled Yami into a huge hug.
"Dude! Where have you been? How'd you get back here? I thought you were in heaven or the afterlife or something!"
Yami hugged Jonouchi back and then broke the contact. "Yes, yes, I was in the afterlife. How I got back is a…complicated…story."
"Well, come on! Let's sit down and get something to eat! You can tell us the story over pizza!" Yami was pulled over to the booth to sit.
Yugi watched the scene between Jonouchi and Yami silently. The questions would come soon now, and he was just as interested in the answers as his friends were. That went surprisingly well. I guess it's just easy to relapse into the old 'expect the unexpected' in life, especially after going through the strange things that we did years ago. He sat down next to Jonouchi, acting as a buffer between the blond and Yami.
Tim finally took the chance to speak up. "So it's true then?" All three boys looked at Tim, now remembering that he was still standing there. They nodded.
"Yeah, it is. Sorry Tim, I forgot my manners for a second. Tim, this is Yami. Yami, Tim. He's the owner of the restaurant, and is a great tutor for a lot of our classes. He loves history." Yugi introduced the two.
"It's a pleasure to meet you."
"Well, you might as well sit down and stay for the story, Tim. You'll probably enjoy talking to Yami—remember I said he was a Pharaoh back in ancient Egypt." Yugi motioned to an empty spot in the large booth. Tim sat back down next to Jonouchi, who was shuffling his schoolwork back into his bag. "So Jonouchi, where's Honda and Otogi? I thought they'd be here by now. It's close to seven."
"Well, they called and said they'd be a little late. They said they were busy at the game shop, which probably translates into them doing you know what." Jonouchi grinned. "Ryou called and said he couldn't make it at the last minute. He said he had something come up that he just couldn't miss."
"Oh, so should we order then?" Yugi looked around the table.
"Sure, might as well. Man, I'm starving!" Jonouchi smiled brightly at the nearest waitress and she began to walk over. "Miss, can we get the regular? Honda and Otogi'll be here too, so there's gonna be six here tonight, including Tim here." The girl nodded and walked off to put in the order.
"Only six tonight? What, you couldn't get Kaiba to come out?" Yugi spoke jokingly to his friend.
"Naw, he's got that big 'secret project' he's been working on for awhile now." The blond put on a fake pout. "I don't even know what it is, and I've been bothering him for weeks to try to find out!"
Yami's eyes widened at the mention of Kaiba. He had almost forgotten about the young CEO. Realizing that the blond boy was talking about the cold young man in such a relaxed tone, his expression twisted into one of mild bewilderment. "Jonouchi, why are you talking about Kaiba so casually? Last thing I remember, you two weren't into speaking civilly to one another."
"Yug, you didn't tell him?"
"No, I haven't really had the chance to update him on everything that's been going on." Yugi looked over at Yami sheepishly. "Sorry."
Jonouchi grinned at Yami. "Well, I guess this is gonna be a shock, but Kaiba and I are together now. Some stuff happened and we ended up hooking up back in the last year of high school." Yami just stared, still listening. "Yeah, and Honda and Otogi hooked up a couple of months after you left. They both run the big game shop now."
"Ah, I see. Now I understand the comment you made earlier about the two." Yami smiled at Jonouchi. "It's nice to know that you and Kaiba finally got together. It was getting old watching you two flirt all the time. I can only imagine how much worse it got before you two got smart."
Jonouchi's jaw dropped open. "You knew?"
"Of course I knew. My culture was more sensitive to that sort of thing. I had a hunch that I'd be right to think that there was an attraction there." Yami leaned back in the seat, folding his hands behind his head, and smiled at Jonouchi. "I see that I was correct."
"Yeah, well thanks for saying something."
"Would you have listened?"
"Okay, okay guys, break it up. Here come Otogi and Honda." Yugi looked to his friends pleadingly. The topic was still a public taboo, even if everyone at the table was okay with it. He just didn't want to see any arguments break out so soon.
"Hey Yugi, Jonouchi, Tim, Yami! Yami?" Honda called out to his friends before doing a double take at the newest addition to the group.
Otogi draped over Honda's shoulder. "Wha? Yami? What the hell is going on here? How'd you get back?"
"Sit down you guys. Food's coming, and Yami said he'd explain over dinner." Jonouchi pointed at the empty space next to Tim.
"Jonouchi ordered for you guys, I hope you don't mind." Yugi informed the two newcomers.
"Naw, he knows what we like. So does all the staff. We're here enough that they should." Otogi grinned at Yugi. "So how long ago did you guys order? I'm starving!"
Yugi noticed the waitress walking over with two pizzas in hand, and two other servers following behind her. "Well, you won't have to wait long. Here comes the food. You guys sure have good timing. Otherwise you might not have gotten any with the way Jonouchi's been going on."
"Hey! I resent that!"
The pizzas were set on the table with plates and extra silverware that would likely go unused. There was a moment of silence, and then table manners disappeared as the group scrambled and fought for slices of pizza.
As the dust settled, and everyone had at least started on their second slice, Jonouchi spoke up. "So, Yami. You said you'd spill the details over dinner. So spill." He threw a playful smile at the ancient pharaoh.
Yami looked up from his nearly finished slice of pizza to glance at everyone around him. "I guess there's no way out of telling the story?"
"No way." Otogi spoke up. Yami shot him a quick glance before putting his focus onto the group again.
"Well, you all know that I was a Pharaoh named Atemu back in Ancient Egypt. We had quite a few adventures together, and managed to save the world many times from the magic of the Millennium Items, as well as other evils. When the adventure ended, it was time for me to go, and so I did. After leaving you all back in Egypt, I found myself in the afterlife that I had been denied for thousands of years while my spirit was trapped in the puzzle." Yami looked around the table. Everyone had either slowed or stopped their eating. They were hanging on his words. "I found myself among the gods of Egypt, in a magnificent palace where only gods may dwell. I was told that I had fulfilled my duty as Pharaoh and was to live out my afterlife in that beautiful place. Things went well for awhile, but I just could not forget my friends. I felt out of place there—I had a life that I had abandoned and I wanted it back. I know I would have been happy there had I not known that there was something missing. Unfortunately, I knew that there would be no way to return without angering the gods, so I remained quiet in my unrest. It seemed that I was not quiet enough. Hathor, the wife of Horus, and the mother goddess of the Pharaohs, noticed that I was unhappy. It was she who pleaded my case to Osiris. In turn, he made my wishes known to Amun-Ra." Some mouths had dropped open in response to the supernatural name-dropping he was doing. "Amun-Ra made it clear that I was asking a great favor, and I was sure he would say no to me. It was a shock and surprise when he said he would grant my request in return for the sacrifice of giving up my life to save Egypt as I had. I said my thanks and then the world was gone in a flash of white light, before giving away to darkness. I was quite disoriented when I came to my senses, but I found myself in front of Yugi's home late at night. I figured I'd try to wake him up, so I went up to the door and knocked. I was lucky Yugi answered since I found out soon after that I had showed up at nearly three in the morning." Yami had been expecting more of a reaction than what he had gotten. Most of the group was still sitting in awe of the story he had just finished.
Tim was the first to recover. He stared at Yami, before realizing his mouth was still gaping open a bit. He consciously shut it, and shook his head in disbelief. "So, you're saying that those stories are actually true. All the stuff about saving the world, they weren't over exaggerated figments of imagination?"
"Yes." Yami was amused by Tim. He was trying so hard to wrap his mind around a foreign concept, especially since he didn't have any memories to fall back on like the others, who did. The rest of the group had an advantage, they had become used to odd occurrences over the years that they had all been together. That fact alone made it easier for them to come to terms with the idea of his return. "Don't worry too much about it, Tim. You will understand in time."
Yugi sat next to Yami in silence. The others had started to emerge from their thoughts and were asking Yami questions, and he was doing his best to answer. Yugi's mind continued to reel. There had been a lot that Yami hadn't said in that story. It made sense as you listened, but Yugi had known Yami better than any of the others, and he could tell that there was something missing, something that had been deliberately left out.
"Hey Yug! Earth to Yug! Yug!"
"You've been too quiet since Yami finished his story. Are you okay?" Jonouchi looked at his best friend with concern.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just have a lot on my mind right now."
"Well, okay, if you say so." The blond looked skeptical of Yugi's answer.
"Actually, I think we should get going. I've still got some homework to get done, and it's starting to get late."
Yami glanced at the clock on the wall. It read 9:24. It's not that late, I wonder if he's okay. Maybe we should get going. We need to talk in private. "Yes, Yugi, as great as it has been to see everyone again, I'm getting a little tired. I'm still not used to having a physical body in this world again, and it's been draining me of energy." Yami scooted out of the booth and stood, followed by Yugi. "It's been great to see you all, and I'm sure we'll get together again soon. Tim, it's been a pleasure. Have a good evening." Yami smiled and turned to leave.
"See you guys." Yugi managed to wave goodbye before he had to stifle a yawn and followed Yami out.
The walk home was quiet. It seemed that both young men had a lot to think about, and were grateful for the silence. Both were unsure of their relationship, and now that reality had settled in, it was time to visit the difficult questions.
They reached the game shop and Yugi fiddled with the lock while Yami hung back a bit, watching. The walk had been a pleasant relief from the noise of the rest of the group. Yami did care deeply for his friends, and had been glad to see them once again, but it had been a little too much too soon. He should have waited a couple of days. It would have been better to deal with his concerns with Yugi before complicating their situation even more. Well, hindsight is twenty-twenty. At least I don't have 'seeing the friends again' hanging over my head anymore. They took everything quite well. I hope there's not a case of delayed shock that we'll have to deal with later. Enough of them though, I need to focus on Yugi.
Yami followed Yugi into the house, closing and locking the door behind him. He saw Yugi retreat to the kitchen from the corner of his eye. The excuse he had given to the others so that Yugi and he could leave the parlor early this evening really hadn't been so much of a lie. Yami was feeling exhausted now. He let himself drop onto the couch and waited for Yugi to reemerge from the kitchen.
Yugi walked back into the living room carrying a piece of paper. "Malik's going to be out late tonight. He said not to expect him back before two. I wonder what he does that keeps him out so late?"
Yami looked back to his aibou. "You don't know?"
"Nope. All I know is that he's out of work by nine-thirty on his late nights. He goes out and does something every once in awhile where he stays out late. He's never said what."
"Perhaps you should ask him?"
"Yeah, maybe." Yugi tried to stifle another yawn. "Man, I'm tired. What about you?"
"Well, I feel bad about making you sleep on the couch, if you want, you can camp out in my room until we figure out what to do for more permanent arrangements." Yugi gave Yami a small smile.
"I'd like that." Yami stood and grabbed the pile of blankets and pillows that he had left there from the morning. He followed Yugi upstairs to his room.
Yugi found some nightclothes for Yami to sleep in, and the two boys got themselves ready for bed. Yami had made a nice makeshift bed on the floor by the desk. As the two settled in, both began to think about the conversation at dinner again. Yugi turned off the lamp near the bed, plunging the room into darkness. Outlines of the furniture were visible from the soft moonlight that entered through the skylight. Shadows cascaded across the walls, and Yugi stared at them while he gathered his thoughts. He looked down at Yami's silhouette, which lay quietly on the floor nearby.
"I, well, I guess I was wondering, you sounded like you were leaving something out in your story this evening. Is everything alright?" Yugi's question was met with silence.
"Yami?" More silence. Yugi was about to sit up and turn on the light when he heard a soft reply.
"Yes. Yes, Yugi. Everything is alright." Yami knew he was avoiding the situation, but he just didn't have the strength to deal with it at the moment. He cut off the conversation as best he could while trying to not hurt Yugi's feelings. "It's been a long day, you should get some sleep."
Yugi could tell that there was something bothering his friend, but he knew this was not the time to pry. Yami would talk to him when he was ready. He just hoped that it would be soon. "Alright Yami. Goodnight." Yugi rolled over in bed and started to drift off to sleep.