There was a 'Fin', but no 'owari'. A finish, but no end. Yugioh was over, but there was no happy ending for Yuugi and the others, because the point was that life went on. But sometimes life just 'going on' isn't enough, and change is always inevitable. Which then brings us to the—
Future Tense – Chapter One
DISCLAIMER: A priest, a rabbi and a Irishman all walked into a bar, sat down, ordered drinks, and began talking. The bartender said, "What is this, a joke?"
The Gateway internet café was not a place people went to check their email.
In all honesty, the Gateway internet café's computers were as useless and pointless as an ice-maker in the Antarctic. No one ever used them for anything more than the inner-café chatroom, and that was only so the customers could introduce themselves to each other before going over to spend the rest of their time flirting.
The truth was a time honoured tradition of secrecy, started when the general management realised how pathetically slow their hardrives were. It took them several months to realise why they had yet to go out of business.
"Give me a Rabbit Roll'em," groaned a familiar voice, and deep chocolate eyes looked up from their current duty of overseeing the creation of three other kinds of alcoholic milkshake.
Ryou smiled, flicking the silvery strands of his hair away from his face before going back to the drinks. "Yuugi! Long time no see!"
"Yeah, I've been visiting Anzu," he said wearily, gazing around the café from under half-open eyelids. "But I've been back for two days and have yet to go home and sleep in my own bed. My eyes're only open out of spite."
"Spite for who?"
"I refuse to fall asleep anywhere but the confines of my rubble. And besides, I'm still on New York time. I should be having lunch right now," he added, and his head collapsed into his arms. Ryou smiled sympathetically, but said nothing as he went about making Yuugi's favourite caffeine laden, vodka-choked, very bad for your health drink. Like most of Domino city, Yuugi had become addicted to the Gateway's infamous milkshakes a long time ago, though he never came for the drink itself, so much as to see his friend. It had just been a nice bonus that Ryou had started working at the café over the last year. Almost a minute passed, and Ryou set the drink down in front of him, causing Yuugi's head to rise from its makeshift pillow. He gazed at him thoughtfully, slowly uncurling himself from his huddle. "It's your birthday soon."
"Uh huh. Twenty-two," he agreed, leaning back against the other side of the bar. "I don't really like the sound of the age… Sounds like something from a ninja film, doesn't it?"
Yuugi chuckled. "So I suppose you wouldn't appreciate a pair of decorative nunchucks?"
"Funnily enough… no."
"Anything you do want? Aside from money and-slash-or gift certificates?"
Ryou hesitated, before an embarrassed grin flashed onto his face. "I can think of something… but you wouldn't be able to get it for me."
"Hey, Ryou, come on. I work for the Kaiba brothers, I can get anything," he said playfully. "So name your impossible gift, and I'll have it to you by next Saturday."
He blushed, then pointed at something behind his friend. "If you can get me that, you'll never have to buy me another present for as long as you live."
"What, a car or something?" he asked, turning around. He couldn't see anything that spectacular, aside from the flashing sign across the street that advertised the wrong kind of coke in a very subtle way. He blinked at the window, rolling his wrist in question. "I don't see anything. Unless you're into drugs all of a sudden, there's nothing out there that –"
"Not out there. In here. Over there," he said quietly, and Yuugi glanced back at him in time to catch his nod toward a booth beside the window. It contained only two people: a tall, muscle bound, pale blue haired man with a nasty glint to his icy blue eyes, and a vaguely long-limbed, wiry man with dark, bicoloured hair. His eyes were sharp, though that could have just been because of the way he was glaring at his friend. They looked like they were arguing about something and trying not to be heard. They weren't drinking, either.
"Out of towners." Yuugi surmised, reaching back for his drink. "Which one were you looking at?"
"The good looking guy."
"They're both okay," he said vaguely, tilting his head to better appraise the slimmer man. There was something kind of familiar about the way he was sitting in the booth. It was completely relaxed while still being painfully… regal, for want of a better word.
"The really good looking guy. The god. The Atlas!"
Yuugi smirked, turning back to him. "Atlas?"
"He's just amazing," Ryou said wistfully, a quiet sigh escaping his lips. "I didn't know men like him really existed."
"Since when do you even care?" he asked. "I thought you said you weren't going near either sex until you knew which you wanted for sure."
"I'll make up my mind for him," he said bluntly, and Yuugi smiled, rolling his eyes up to the ceiling. If not for his aforementioned age, he would have called it a prime example of high school love. But it was typical of Ryou. Since 'the Millenium phase' (as Yuugi called it), the almost-albino had been in more 'instant relationships' than the rest of their friends combined – not that it was saying much, but it was still worth noting. And every single one started out as an infatuation with a Greek god, western fairytale, or legendary demon.
"So why haven't you gone to talk to our muscle-bound moron, yet?" asked Yuugi, casually leaning on his palm. "You've got a perfect opening, working here. Just tell him about your famous milkshakes. Introduce him to the wonders of a Leviathan or something."
"Me? Talk to him? No way!"
"Remind me… when did we leave high school, and how long have you been a girl?"
"Yuugi! This is serious!" he whined, and Yuugi chuckled at his tone. "He's really good looking, I wouldn't have a chance… I bet you he likes girls, anyway."
Yuugi's smirk turned nasty, but Ryou cut him off with a glare. "I am not pitching my voice any higher, thank you."
"But it did work last time…"
"That was a dare from Honda-kun! Never again!"
They fell silent for a moment, and Yuugi checked over his shoulder again, an amused smirk playing on his lips. "I don't know, Ryou. You can never tell who likes what these days. Look at Seto."
"Look at you, more like it," he added tartly, and Yuugi laughed. "If you're so sure about it, go and check it out then."
"I have enough twisted relationships as it is, thank you," he replied calmly, picking up his drink again. "Besides, muscle-bound men are not in my personal taste, so I'll leave it to you."
Ryou's gaze remained over his friend's head, and he picked up a glass to absently polish. Yuugi made a face at the cliché gesture, but he just shrugged, looking back at him. "What's wrong with him? Or are you just so self-obsessed that you think you'd end up stealing him away from me?"
"Hardly. As I said, I have enough relationship problems without adding someone my friend has a thing for," he said dryly. "And I don't like… him. If—and it's a very small if—I wanted to pick up either of the two, I'd go for the stringbean, not Sir Stronghold."
"Would you really?" asked a sly voice, and Yuugi's eyes widened, looking off to the side as a figure slid onto the stool beside him. The slimmer man from the window booth was smirking at him, crimson eyes sparkling in amusement as he settled his chin on the back of his finely tanned hand. Yuugi leaned back slightly, and the man flashed a line of white teeth. "Now that's an insult I'd like to hear to my face."
Yuugi blushed, before shooting Ryou a glare. "You couldn't have told me?"
"You remind me of Honda-kun's little joke, I get to see you squirm," he replied happily, and Yuugi tsked. He should have known Ryou to hold a grudge.
He took a deep breath, bracing his hands on the bar as he turned to the stranger. "I said if I wanted to. I'm afraid that doesn't imply what the rest of sentence does."
"I'm sure it doesn't," he said playfully, still smirking in a satisfied, cat-ate-the-canary way. It was the same smile Seto had when he had some very nice blackmail, or a reason to get his way in a bad situation. Seto could always make Yuugi fidget with that smile, and on this man it even resulted in an embarrassing blush. But he didn't follow through with it, merely turning to Ryou, dirty blond forelocks swinging with the movement. "We need another hour online."
"Four hundred and fifteen," he said brightly, setting his glass and rag down beside the till. He tapped the command into the computer as the man searched his jacket pockets. "Could I maybe interest you in some drinks while you're working?"
"No, thanks. Knowing the price of your internet connection, I think I would be scared to see the drink rate," he said wearily, picking out the coins. "No offence meant, but you're lucky you're the only net café around here, or you'd be out of business."
Yuugi snorted into his drink. Ryou glared at him quickly as he accepted the money. "Actually, very few people come in here for our internet," he replied calmly. "Most come –"
"For Ryou, you know. The girls like the eyes," Yuugi whispered conspiratorily, leaning over as if in confidence. "The guys like the fact he's too girly to go out with the girls."
He chuckled, but the man had suddenly stopped smiling, going stiff as he looked from one to the other. He blinked several times, his gaze snapping to Ryou's eyes, and then back over the chin-length silver-purple hair. "Um… this uh…" He coughed, turning back to Yuugi. "This might sound forward, but um… which high school did you go to?"
They paused, exchanging curious glances before looking at him again. "Domino High."
"That so…?" He took a slow breath, straightening a little. "And um… how long ago did you leave high school?"
Yuugi frowned, looking at Ryou warily. "Four years," he said slowly. "Why?"
"I just… I had a cousin that went to Domino High, and uh…" He blinked at Yuugi rapidly, his brow furrowing. "He said there were two guys in his year that… one's name was Yuugi and…"
"Well… I'm Yuugi Mutou, does that help?" he asked, but the man just seemed to lose the strength in his legs, because both feet slipped off the barstool.
"Mu… Yuugi Mutou… as in… did you ever play Duel Monsters?"
Yuugi's eyes darkened ever so slightly, his smile turning a little frostier. "A long time ago. Not anymore. Why?"
"He… he just said… why'd you stop?"
"Does it matter?" he asked darkly, and the man shook his head, seeming to recover some of his poise.
"No. No, my cousin was a fan, and he's interested," he said quickly, looking him over with a subtle glance. Yuugi Mutou definitely didn't match the publicity posters plastered on the windows of the game and hobby shops he'd passed on his way into town. The trademark dark red and gold hair was now cropped and gelled down around his neck, dyed a deep, unassuming black. His eyes didn't sparkle, and the lids were lowered as if he was tired, accentuated by the square-framed glasses perched in front of them. He was also dressed in simple loose jeans, long sleeved red shirt and black blazer, the exact opposite of the publicity's eye-catching leather ensemble. He didn't look a thing like he was supposed to.
The man eventually turned his head away again, thoughtlessly tapping the bar. "Well. My cousin will be glad to know you're alive and well…"
"Who is your cousin?" asked Ryou, and the man's eyes flicked back to him.
"Um… Myouji…n. Gegari Myoujin," he said. "He was in class G."
"Class G," said Yuugi thoughtfully, frowning. "We never talked to them much. Sorry, I don't remember him."
"Oh, no, wouldn't expect you to. He was arrogant and didn't talk to anyone back then…" He hesitated, before holding his hand out in offering. "Call me Yami… Yami Myoujin."
Yuugi's head tilted at the name, but he quickly decided that people in glass houses shouldn't question people with weird names. He smiled, taking his hand. "You can call me Yuugi, and this is Ryou Bakura."
"Yuugi," he repeated, almost breathlessly. "Right."
"It's just Ryou these days," said Ryou, smiling. "Now about those drinks. They're actually cheaper than the internet connection, and they're what people come here for. You want some?"
"Oh, um… sure. Why not," he said vaguely, his gaze flying in every direction before he held up a finger. "I'll be right back… just gotta check something with… my friend's name is Bakura too, how about that? I'll just… check with him… bye."
Yuugi and Ryou both stared after him as he practically fled back to the booth. He violently whispered at his friend, whose eyes widened and shot around to look at the pair at the bar. The pair quickly began another whispered argument, and Yuugi turned back to Ryou, raising his eyebrow.
"I could get to like him."
"I could get to love his friend."
Yuugi shook his head, rolling his eyes up to the ceiling for reason.
"Mm. It's not a bad job, and it pays really well, but I just don't have the time for a life because of it. It's a miracle I got off so early today."
"What time was that?"
"Six. Usually I'm at the office until eight or nine."
"No, I like it. When I'm working, I don't have to be anyone but an employee. And talk about the compliments you get for it."
"What do you mean?"
Yuugi smiled at him, and Yami's curious gaze melted down into a gentle look. With Ryou and Yami's friend Bakura they had spent the entire evening talking over milkshakes. At nine, Ryou had gotten off work, and Yami had invited Yuugi into showing him around the area. He didn't really know Domino, he explained, and therefore didn't know where he was meant to be going from one day to the next. Yuugi's opinion of Yami being 'weird' hadn't changed in the slightest, but he found him just as interesting. Not to mention the strange fact that he felt undeniably comfortable with him, which he hadn't been with anyone for years. There was just something about Yami that made him want to relax.
"Part of my job for Kaiba Corporation is that I go with one brother or the other and talk to the business associates. According to the Kaibas, I'm just so cute that I make people see it our way and end up getting the best deal," he said, chuckling. "All I have to do is have lots of guarana and caffeine, maybe a bit of sex, and I'm suddenly so beautiful that no one can resist me."
Yami's laughter quickly died, his head jerking around to look at him. "Sex?"
"Yeah… kinda gives everyone this healthy glow," he said, smirking playfully. "Not to mention the content smile."
"You… You have someone to do that for you?" he asked haltingly, his smile suddenly cold enough to crack. "At work?"
Yuugi didn't see the look, his eyes fixed on the moon, blushing bright red. But his grin spoke volumes, and Yami turned back to the path ahead, his hands punching into his pockets so Yuugi wouldn't see his twisting fists.
"Yeah, it's weird, but that's not the only part of my job," continued Yuugi. "I have to hang out in arcades, pretending to be a teenager so I can find out what they think of Kaiba products; talk to the people that want to sue us, so they won't; act as a go-between for Seto Kaiba and the lower personel; check out the online fanbase; and sometimes I even have to check over paperwork figures and such. It's simple work, but it takes a lot of time."
"Um… sorry, but are you okay?"
Yami blinked, looking around at him. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"You look like you're gonna punch something."
He blinked again, his shoulders relaxing under Yuugi's concerned gaze. He smiled guiltily, shaking his head. "Just remembered something I forgot to tell someone before I last left Domino."
"Anything important?" he asked, pointing toward a corner that they had to start toward.
"Yeah… forgot to tell this guy to keep his hands off my things," he muttered, but shrugged off Yuugi's confusion with a wave. "It's okay. Nothing I can't get back with a little effort."
"That's good. It would be terrible to lose something so important that you'd get that worked up," he said, sympathetically relieved. "So what is it you do, Yami? You're not a spy for another gaming company that's only talking to me for Kaiba Corp.'s secrets, are you?"
He laughed, shaking his head. "No, no… Nothing that great. I work at the museum… tour guide. I'm also trying to figure out everything that happened from about a thousand BC to two thousand AD. Maybe write a book… call it A Three Thousand Year Story."
"Three thousand?" he repeated. "Why three thousand years?"
"Because I've had enough of the ancient world, and my knowledge of it stops at a thousand BC."
"Oh, man, do I know what you mean about that," he laughed, his hand absently rising to take hold of Yami's wrist. "These days, I can't hear a word of Ancient Egypt without wanting to tear out the other person's throat."
Yami laughed weakly, trailing off into an uncomfortable cough. "Well, that's… pretty much all I know best…"
"So have you got a grant to research?"
"Uh… not really. That's why I'm working at the museum, starting tomorrow. Doing tours of the Ancient Egypt exhibit… you know, boring stuff that gives you a paycheck?" He nodded, pushing his hands back into his jacket. "That's why I'm thinking of getting back into gaming. I was a damn good player. I hear you can get good money doing that."
"If you enter the right tournaments, yeah. Don't go for the glory, go for the cash. Stay as far away from Kaiba Corporation as possible," he added. "Winning something from us is prestigious, but not so good for the wallet."
Yami smiled, and they fell into silence for a few minutes. Eventually, Yuugi realised Yami was still smiling at him and frowned, leaning away slightly. "What?"
"Nothing… I was just thinking that I really enjoyed talking to you tonight."
Yuugi blushed, smiling as he looked away. "Well… Ryou wanted to talk to your friend, and that left us alone."
"So it didn't have anything to do with you preferring to pick me up, rather than Bakura?" he teased, and Yuugi laughed.
"Unfortunately, no. I'm not looking for a guy right now."
He tilted his head as they came to a stop, simultaneously turning toward each other, barely even realising they were outside the block of flats Yami had said he was staying in. He smiled. "You're not looking for a guy, or you're just not looking right now?"
"Why do you ask?" he asked coyly, and Yami's cheeks tinted slightly darker.
"Just out of interest. I've been talking to you all night and we never broached the subject of that little comment you made to Ryou."
"Well, it's a bit of both," he said vaguely, folding his arms over his stomach. "I like girls, most of the time. And I'm pretty seriously involved with someone. As well as my work, of course."
"Two-timer," he teased, and Yuugi bowed in agreement. Yami nodded, glancing up at the moon. "I have to admit, the only person I've ever really cared about has not been of the female variety… but I wasn't suggesting anything. I was just thinking that I really did like talking to you. And I'd really like to do it again sometime soon."
"Me too. You're… Me too," he said finally, holding out a hand. "Well, not to say I go by there a lot, but maybe I'll see you around the Gateway sometime."
"I hope so," he whispered, taking the offered hand and squeezing it gently.
Yuugi's smile dropped slightly at the hold; something familiar about it stirring his memory. He untangled his hand and stepped away, raising it in farewell instead. "See you, Yami."
"Yeah. G'bye…" he added, as Yuugi began walking off into the orange darkness of the street. He waited until the shorter man had turned the corner before letting his hand drop, "… aibou."