YU-GI-OH: The College Years
Arc One - The Different Story
By Yuugi Motoh
DISCLAIMER: I do not own "Yu-Gi-Oh" or any of the series characters, creatures, situations or locations that are mentioned in this story. Those are all property of Kazuki Takahashi, 4Kids Television, and any and all other people, organizations, and whatnot who were involved in the creation, publication, filming and'or broadcast of the anime, movie or manga. Absolutely no copyright infringement is intended. This is a non-profit work of fan fiction.
That being said, any of the original characters and settings that may appear in this or subsequent stories in "The College Years" line might kind of sort of be mine. Or maybe they're their own. This series has been begging to be told for two years. Who am I to keep telling the King of Games "no"? grin
Please note that this story takes place sometime after the end of the "Battle City" arc, but does incorporate the events of the movie. However, the Doom Corporation doesn't appear here (sorry, Doomie fans) nor does anything after that. This is an alternate universe, and my previous story "The Road of Souls" does tie into it. Consider "Road" as sort of a prequel, if you will.
I apologize in advance for the fact that the American names, rather than the Japanese ones, are used; likewise, I apologize for the fact there may well be stronger language and more adult-like situations than some viewers of the series might expect. There's also the point that the powers of the cards and the style of playing a Duel might not be strictly "tournament legal"... but then neither is the series itself. I'll do my best, I promise.
Now that the boring stuff is out of the way, listen closely; this is how it might've been, somewhere, somewhen.
I'm so lonely on my way, waiting for a better day
only one thing left behind-a world of lust and crime
There's no place for me to hide, I don't know what's wrong or right
pain and sorrow in my mind, a world of lust and crime...
See the wise man in the graveyard screaming, 'Play the different story'
lonely people, it is so hard, know the answer just for everything
Love turns a friendly card
with a different story it'll open your heart
forever love is an endless game
you don't have to worry cause it's easy to play...
--Peter Schilling, "The Different Story"
Yugi Motoh finished cramming a few last items into the battered suitcase, then pushed down on the lid to get it closed. With a sigh he plopped down on the floor beside his bed. From the tips of his sneakers, his gaze wandered slowly up and around the little room he lived in over the Turtle Game Shop. The shelves and walls looked a little bare, with good reason. A large portion of their previous contents were packed neatly away in boxes by the door, ready to be picked up and taken downstairs. Only one thing sat on his desk now, and the morning sun through the skylight in the ceiling picked out warm highlights on its surface.
Standing, Yugi walked over, picked up the metal box, and opened it carefully. It wasn't large, and the contents were few; a single cloth-wrapped bundle. Folding back the cloth, he looked at the first card on the stack of three. A great metallic beast, partly like a dragon, partly like a griffin, stared back up at him. Someone else might've thought it was their imagination that made them feel as if the creature pictured was staring back patiently, waiting for its name to be called.
"Ra," Yugi whispered, and brushed his fingers over the picture. The faintest stir of wind from nowhere answered him, like a gigantic wing slowly unfurling, then lazily closing again. He closed the box again and stood there, holding it in both hands, eyes closed.
Should I leave them here, with Grandpa? Or hide them somewhere, I wonder? Sometimes just having them is trouble. I don't blame the cards; it's just... I never wanted to be famous. I never wanted to have people chasing me everywhere I go, wanting a shot at the God Cards and the King of Games. Not to mention the weirdos who keep popping up wanting to use the cards for all the wrong reasons.
No... I can't really leave them. They're safest with me. With us. If the worst thing I have to worry about is people showing up wanting a Duel, then I've got it pretty soft. It's been quiet these last two years. Maybe, maybe we've finally gotten through it all. Though I can't help thinking that--
'We've discussed this.'
Yugi half-winced, but not with any real feeling behind it. "Yeah, we have," he said, turning towards the speaker, "but I really wish you'd reconsider."
'There is nothing to reconsider.' Across the room a second version of Yugi folded his arms. Well, not quite; the resemblance was strong, the likeness of identical twins. But the second form was taller, older, and his eyes held more than a hint of power. 'Egypt may or may not hold answers for us, but one thing is certain: the past is the past. I should resign myself to the idea I will never re-capture it. All that truly matters is that we face the future together.' The steely gaze softened. 'You can't sacrifice everything for me all the time.'
"I never felt like that, and you know it!" Yugi scowled a little. "It wasn't a sacrifice. We shared it. We're partners."
'We are far more than that.' Yami moved over, one translucent hand reaching out to rest on Yugi's chest. 'YOU are the heart of the Pharoah.'
Yugi flushed a little and nodded, shy and proud at the same time. "Okay, but if you change your mind..."
'If I change my mind, I'll let you know.' Yami turned away, looking out the window. 'It... will seem strange, not being here.'
"Yeah. A little scary, too. I keep wondering if I'm ready for this."
The Spirit arched an eyebrow. 'If you're ready for THIS?'
"...That did sound kind of dumb, didn't it? After all we've been through, you'd think moving away to college would be the least of my worries. Am I stressing out?"
'Perhaps a bit. It is something of a step into the unknown. Still, I have no worries. I know what you're capable of. And I admit I'm curious as well. We've had so little time to really experience the world outside Domino. I want the time and leisure to learn more about it.' Yami smirked. 'Despite what Seto Kaiba may think, we have better things to do than be at his beck and call for Duels. The last time I checked, I did not have 'Property of KaibaCorp Research' stamped on my arse, and neither did you.'
Yugi giggled. "I think I'd've noticed if he tried that. --He's not going to leave us alone for long, though."
'No. His preoccupation with defeating us in a Duel is bordering on fanaticism, or obsession, or both. Although it is a testament to his skill and drive that his business does not suffer from it. He manages KaibaCorp well, whatever his personal goals are.'
Outside, a horn blew twice, followed by the sound of a voice downstairs: "Yugi! Taxi's here!"
"Coming, Grandpa!" Hastily Yugi crammed the box with the God Cards in it into his backpack, slung it over one shoulder, snatched up his suitcase and clattered down the staircase. "I just have to get my other cards and my posters and stuff. Did you find that tote you were looking for last night?"
"Sure did." Solomon Motoh held up a slightly scuffed Army-issue duffle bag. "It's a little beat up, but I think you'll find it's perfectly servicable. Can't begin to tell you all the places that thing's been. It's probably got more miles on it than I do!"
"Great, I think the boxes will fit." Taking the bag, Yugi hesitated. "Grandpa, I...I'm so gonna miss you."
"Don't you worry about me, grandson. I've got my shop to take care of, and there are plenty of kids that hang out here. There always have been. Just give me a call or write an e-mail from time to time, and come home for the holidays." Solomon reached out, put his hands on Yugi's shoulders, and smiled at him gently. "I always knew, someday, you'd be leaving Domino to make your own life. I knew whatever you wanted to do, you'd succeed at it. You've always been a lot stronger than anyone expected you to be--even yourself. Now, go on, let's get you packed and on your way, that taxi meter's running."
The train station was crowded, hundreds of voices crisscrossing in conversation as travelers hurried on and off. Yugi kept scanning the crowds, hoping to see some of his friends. "I wish I knew where they were," he muttered under his breath, "I thought they'd at least come see me off..."
"Yuge! Hey, YUGE!" a voice bellowed over the din. "One side, dere, comin' through (oops, 'scuse me, was datcha foot? Sorry)--hey, MAKE some room, man on a mission here!" A lean figure pushed through, momentum making him almost stumble over Yugi. "Whoops! heh Hiya, short stuff."
"Joey!" Yugi''s face lit up. "Cool, you made it!"
"Like I would miss dis?" Joey Wheeler beamed down at his friend. "So, c'mon, let's get th' party started."
"Uh.. what par--" Yugi broke off as he noticed the bags slung over Joey's shoulders. "Joey, are you going somewhere?"
Joey favored him with a huge grin. "You are lookin' at an officially college-bound guy! Look out world, here comes Joseph Wheeler!"
"You're KIDDING! I mean, that's great, but you didn't mention--"
"It's a surprise, bro." This from a second young man, even taller than Joey, with short-cropped brown hair that was shaped in a retro 50's style cut. "Didn't think you'd get out of town without us, did you?"
"Tristan? You too?"
"How about, 'me three'-- and thanks SO much for WAITING, you goofballs," a third voice said as a young woman dragged up a huge locker and sat down on it with a sigh.
"Sorry 'bout that, Tèa. Fast game, though, ya gotta keep up."
"I bet my fist is faster. Care to check on that?"
"Eeesh, somebody got up on th' wrong side of th' bed this morning, huh?"
"Can it, guys," Tristan said. "We need to get a move on or we'll miss the train."
"Wait a second, wait a second!" Yugi looked from Tèa to Tristan to Joey and back again. "You're... all going on the train, too?"
"More than that, we're going with you." Tèa smiled. "We all applied at the same college you're going to, Yugi. We didn't tell you becase we weren't sure we'd all be accepted."
"Can't bust up a beautiful friendship like ours, can ya?" Joey grabbed Yugi in a headlock and scuffed his hair absently as he continued, "You're gonna need some REAL competition up there, yanno, to keep you sharp. Dese college kids probably don't know a Baby Dragon from a Petit Dragon."
"What Joey's trying to say, Yugi, is, well..." Tristan fidgeted. "It's not like any of us had any serious plans that we can't take care of if we just happen to be at the same school you're at, and, well..."
"What TRISTAN's trying to say is, we decided we didn't want to lose track of you, or each other. Maybe later on we'll all go our seperate ways, I mean, that's part of growing up. But there's no reason we can't stay together as long as we can, right?" Tèa finshed hopefully. "You're not mad or anything, are you? You don't think we're butting in...?"
"NO! I think it's great!" Yugi wriggled free of Joey and flung his arms around as much of the three as he could. "You guys are the best. But, how..?"
"Talked to ya grandpa," Joey said. "And, turns out my mom and dad set up me an' Serenity each a college fund when we were babies. Couldn't touch it f'r anything else, which is why Mom couldn't use it for Serenity's eye operation. It ain't a whole lot, not like Moneybags here--" he jabbed Tristan in the ribs with an elbow. "But I'll get by."
"And I got a scholarship," Tèa said.
"I... gosh, I don't know what to say..." Yugi blinked, trying not to tear up.
Tristan just smiled and held up his right hand with the back facing outward. "Friendship," he said simply. "The ink faded--"
"But our promise is forever," Tèa added. Beside her, Joey nodded and held up his in the same position.
"All aboooooooard!" the conductor shouted from the trackside, cutting across the moment. In a mad scramble, the four friends grabbed their various pieces of luggage and hurried aboard the train, oblivious to a figure watching them surreptitiously from behind a pillar. When they were aboard and out of sight the watcher moved across, walking calmly up the steps after them and settling in a forward compartment well out of sight.
"Tickets, everyone, please show me your tickets," the conductor said as the train began to move. "Excuse me sir, do you have a ticket?"
"Of course." As the newcomer spoke, on his chest a golden necklace, shaped rather like a dreamcatcher, flared into sight briefly. "Everything is in order, as I'm sure you see."
"Yes sir," the conductor replied, his eyes clouding over. "Enjoy your trip."
"Thank you. I'm certain this trip will prove to be... most interesting." Yami Bakura watched as the conductor passed by, then smirked. Think that you've escaped me, Pharoah? By no means. We still have a score to settle, you and I. I'm not letting you, your Millenium Puzzle, OR the God Cards get away.
Some eight hours later, the train drew to a halt. "Jankenpon Center," the announcement came, "all passengers for Jankenpon Center please disembark. This train is continuing on to Ace City, Bridgeport, Washington, New York, and points north. Again, all passengers for Jankenpon Center please disembark on platform 5."
"That's our cue." Tristan stood and lifted luggage off the overhead rack, passing it over to the others. "We'll need to pick up Tèa's stuff outside."
"Yeah, trust a girl t'bring half da house with her," Joey joked, then ducked as Tèa swung at him.
Outside, the quartet finished collecting their things and moved off to one side, looking around. "Holy cow," Tristan said, "this place is big."
"Nah, it ain't all dat. We been in bigger places." Joey nudged Tristan. "Quit gawkin', you don't want folks thinkin' we're a buncha country rubes."
"It IS bigger than Domino," Tèa remarked. "This is going to take getting used to."
"I wonder where the college is?" Yugi stood on tiptoe, trying to peer past the people milling around.
"I don't think it's anywhere near here. The brochure said it was just outside of town."
"So, how do we get there, Miss Genius? I didn't exactly have a suitcase big enough to pack my scoot." Tristan shrugged. "Dad said he'd have it shipped up, but till then..."
"Like we could all fit on the back of YOUR SCOOT," Tèa shot back. "Hey, over there, is that a bus?"
"Yeah, looks like... I think it says something about 'College' on the side. Cool, maybe it's a charter."
"So, let's check it out. C'mon, Yuge." Joey shouldered his bags, then bent and picked up Yugi's duffle.
"Joey, I can carry that, honest!"
"Ah, don't worry about it. It don't weigh that much. You just worry about keeping up. Those little shortie chicken legs of yours, yanno." Joey cackled.
"What's WRONG with my legs!"
"Okay, Joey, cut it out," warned Tèa.
"Ah, you know I'm only teasin'. Ain't a best friend got pickin' rights, huh? Though, yanno..." he eyed Yugi. "I think you've grown an inch or two over th' summer, ain'tcha?"
"About that," Yugi admitted. "But I don't think it's going to be much more. Short runs in our family, Grandpa says."
"Doesn't matter." Tristan shrugged. "It's not how tall you are that makes you who you are."
"Maybe not, but I sure wish I didn't have to shop in the boys' section for clothes still."
"I think you're the perfect height, Yugi." Tèa put an arm around his shoulders and snuggled him to her side a moment.
"Yeah, perfect portable boyfriend," Joey murmured under his breath, then yelped and hopped off to one side as Tèa gave him a well-aimed kick in the ankle. "Shall we? she said sweetly as Joey tried to pull himself out of the shrubbery he'd careened into. "Oh, Joey, by the way, it's a fast game, you've got to keep up."
"Man, I bet she's here on a football scholarship," Joey muttered. "Hey, wait up! Wait f'r me!"
"Good morning," the bus driver said as they walked up. "Heading for JCC?"
"JCC?" Yugi asked.
"Jankenpon Community College. This is a charter for new and returning students. Hop on in if you need a lift."
"Great, thanks. Come on, everyone. --I call window side!"
As the bus drove through the streets of Jankenpon, all four studied the city. "Pretty place," Tristan said.
"Look, they have pedestrian trails. That's so cool!" Tèa all but pressed her nose to the glass. "Oh, a mall!"
"Down in flames," Joey remarked to no one in particular. "Sorry about dat, Yuge, I'm seein' her, you, an' a stack of boxes about a mile high in ya future."
"Oh, I don't mind. Maybe they have a game and model shop in the mall."
"Considering the fact this college actually offers a course in Dueling..." Tristan waved the course catalog around.
"What? Ya kiddin' me. How'd I miss dat?" Joey snatched the book from Tris and read through it. "You AIN'T kidding. heh Guess I know what YOU'RE here to study, huh, Yuge?"
"Actually..." Yugi ducked his head. "I wanted to study archaeology."
"Archaeology," Tèa repeated. "You know, Joey, the scientific study of ancient civilizations?"
"I know what da word means! Jeez, I ain't a complete moron, yanno. It's just, I dunno, I never thought of my buddy here as another Indiana Jones or whatever."
"Well, Grandpa was an archaeologist, kind of. Especially when he was partners with Professor Hawkins. He told me some great stories about his travels. And I think I'd be pretty good at it. I love puzzles, after all, and having to piece together a broken pot or reconstruct a skeleton is SORT of like assembling a puzzle."
"Not to mention the fact that if you specialize in Egyptology you've already got a step up on most people," Tristan said quietly.
Yugi ducked his head. "Uh.. well, that's not the MAIN reason, no, but..." Oh, shut up, he finished silently, hearing a ghostly voice chuckling.
'Young one, I need to keep a closer eye on what you're up to sometimes, I think.' In his mind's eye Yugi could see Yami tip his head, amused. 'That's three times you've outmanuvered me since we met. I'm slipping.'
Pharoah, you know I'm not trying to pull a fast one--
'Of course not. But it is VERY convenient that what you're interested in learning to be is something that both of us can relate to and take part in.'
Maybe it's just something we-- he-- the person we used to be-- might've taken an interest in?
The Spirit blinked; looked thoughtful. 'That... is a point I'll have to consider. But it feels right. That we, he, the King that we were... that he was a man of learning, and wished to know more not only about his own civilizations but those that came before him... it does seem reasonable. Certainly we both share that desire now, to know more about ourselves, the world we live in, and our past. And I don't think it's only because I--' he fell silent.
Because sometimes you feel lost, not being able to remember. See, that's why I think we should go to Egypt someday. Your past is my past too, don't you see?
Slowly Yami nodded. 'Very well, I admit that's a valid argument. But I still believe we need to concentrate on our lives now, not our life then. However, I will withdraw any objection to eventually-- eventually, mind you-- going to Egypt to see what we can discover for ourselves.' A faint smile appeared on his features. 'You know, I am rarely prouder of you than when you show me you ARE capable of out-thinking me.'
Yugi tried to keep the answering smile off his face and failed. Thanks...
"Earth ta Yugi. Ya in there? We're here, pal." Joey tapped Yugi's nose. "Check it out. Ya missed the river already."
"Yep, we crossed a river." Tristan jerked his head out the window. "Like the Wheeler says, check it out."
The bus was pulled up in front of a complex of buildings set in a valley, almost flush to the face of a large hill (or small mountain). Numerous tiny parks and greens dotted the campus, lending it the appearance of simply having grown up among the trees rather than clearing the land to remove them.
"Oh..." Tèa clasped her hands, eyes wide. "THIS is the college? It's gorgeous!"
"Yes, miss," the driver said, pausing in handing out various pieces of luggage from the rack under the bus. "Almost got our own little town out here. There are a lot of storekeepers that set up shop right beside the college campus proper, and then we have non-dormitory housing too-- see the houses? Lots of the faculty lives here year-round, pretty much, and students can rent a house to live in if they prefer that. If you want anything fancy, you drive back into town, but it's only about a fifteen minute ride. Shuttles four times a day, at nine, twelve, three and six o'clock."
"Sweet," Joey said, taking a deep breath and letting it out gustily. "Ah, smell dat fresh air."
"And you would know fresh air how?" Tristan retorted. "The closest YOU ever got to being a nature boy was when we had to camp out on Duelist Kingdom Island."
"Ey ey ey ey! I was a Cub Scout!"
"CURB Scout, more like."
"Come on, Yugi," Tèa said, holding out a hand to him as the two boys wrestled on the ground behind her. "Let's go find out where we're supposed to get started."
Because it was fairly late in the day when they arrived, the reception lines weren't very crowded. All four were able to get their student ID's set up and given a quick explanation of where everything was. The next day would be registration, they were told, and it was recommended they arrive as early as possible to make sure the classes they wanted were still open. There would also be counselors available to help students work out curriculums.
"Too bad we're not gonna be staying in the same place," Tristan said. "Looks like Joey, Yugi and I will all be in the same dorm, but Tèa's halfway across campus."
"Darn." Tèa's face fell. "Well, I don't guess we could expect anything else... we did register awfully late. I bet all the co-ed dorms filled up first thing."
"Maybe we should look into one of those houses the driver told us about," Yugi suggested. "I mean, if it's campus housing, then the rent can't be that expensive. Students have to be able to afford it."
"Rich students, maybe," Tristan corrected him. "Living on campus in a dormitory is rent-free. If you want more deluxe living space, you have to pay for it yourself."
"Well, we can still find out, can't we?"
"Can't hurt." Tristan leaned over the counter, smiling at the receptionist. "Can you tell me where we can find out about renting a house off-campus?"
"Of course." The girl pointed to her right. "Third table down, where that white-haired boy is standing."
"Is it just me talkin' here," Joey observed as they made their way over to the table indicated to them, "but does that guy kinda remind you of anyone?"
"He DOES sort of look like--" Tèa gasped as the young man ahead of them turned around. "Bakura!"
"Oh!" Bakura's eyes widened. "Good heavens! Tèa! Joey, Tristan, Yugi-- whatever are you doing here?"
"We're, ah, going to school here," Tristan said. "Or we will be starting tomorrow."
"You're joking! But that's wonderful, I'd no idea! This is just the thing." Bakura gestured behind him. "I started last quarter, and I was hoping this time around to get a house-- they were all taken when I came in before-- bit on the pricey side though, for one person. I don't suppose you'd all be agreeable to sharing one with me? I was just thinking I'd have to put an advert up for a roommate, or go through another quarter of some random footballer who leaves the place reeking of beer on the weekends."
"How much is it?"
"Four hundred, but that does include utilities and water. Phone's our responsibility, I fear, and groceries, though of course we can eat for free on-campus at the UC or the cafeteria. Don't really recommend a steady diet of it, though." Bakura gave a fastidious little shudder. "The Mystery Meat Thursdays are for the desperate only."
Tristan rubbed the back of his neck thoughtfully. "That's eighty bucks a pop to begin with. Figure another fifty, sixty a week for groceries, and the phone bill... say about a hundred and thirty at least a month from each of us."
"Can't get a place outside f'r that much by yourself in th' real world," Joey pointed out, "not unless you're livin' in a one-room box in th' dumps."
"Yeah, I heard that. I'm willing, if we can find one with enough rooms."
"There's a few three bedrooms left," Bakura said, "we lads can double up and leave the third room to Tèa."
"As long as I get first dibs on the bathroom," Tèa said. "And NO LEAVING THE SEAT UP."
"Then it's agreed." Bakura turned back around to the desk clerk. "Can we get moved in tonight?"
"I believe so," the young man said. "Which one were you interested in-- the one on Brook Lane, Green Street, or Gambler's Circle?"
Bakura smiled. "Oh, well, let's live a bit, I've always wanted to have a flashy address. Make it Gambler's Circle."
"Sure. If you'll fill out this paperwork... and I'll need the first month's rent in advance."
A moment's silence as everyone checked their funds, wondering if they could scrape up the cash--until Yugi hesitantly said, "Uh... I've got it."
"Say what?" Joey paused.
"I said, I've got it." Reaching into his backpack, Yugi pulled out a wallet. "Can you take a bank card?"
"Debit card? Yes."
"Whoa," Tristan said. "Yugi, sorry for asking, but since when did you have four hundred bucks to blow at a pop?"
The smaller boy hunched his shoulders a bit. "I..."
"It's all right," Tèa interrupted, "it doesn't matter where he got it (Tristan, that was RUDE, you know...)"
"No, no it's okay." Yugi looked round. "Battle City."
"Doh!" Joey slapped his forehead. "I shoulda remembered, just like Duelist Kingdom. It ain't like you're not th' King of Games."
"Yeah. Kaiba didn't make a big thing of it, but there WAS a cash prize included for winning. I wasn't in it for that, but I wound up getting a check for it about three months afterwards anyway. Grandpa opened a savings account for me with it." Yugi smiled. "It paid my tuition and left me plenty to get by on while I'm here at college. And I can't think of a better reason to spend some of it than getting us all a place to live in together."
"Well, we certainly owe you for that," Bakura said. "In that case, I insist that after we get moved in, you let me treat you all to dinner. There's this charming little Italian place with the absolutely best spaghetti I know of..."
"Italian? NOW you're talkin'." Joey grinned ear to ear.
As the other four started chattering among themselves, Bakura turned back towards the desk clerk. His expression shifted instantly to a far less innocent demeanor. Very good, he said silently. Make sure the records are adjusted appropriately. I will attend to everything else.
The clerk, his eyes blank, nodded once in reply. Yami Bakura smirked. It was so easy to influence these fools with the help of the Millenium Ring. Later that night, he would slip out and 'visit' the various professors on campus, instilling vague memories of his presence in class. With this clerk entering false records in the school database, no one would ever know Ryou Bakura HADN'T entered college here last quarter.
I will simply have to keep my guard up. The Pharoah might be able to feel my presence if I am too open about using the Ring. I haven't been in close enough contact with them these last few years to be sure what he has and hasn't remembered. But when I am... when I'm sure...
He's exactly where I want him. Living in the same house with me.