Author's Note: December 12, 2007 – THANK YOU SO, SOOO MUCH to PharaonicWolf and MyAibou, my beta's. MA's work, especially, has been insightful, to an extent that I've spent a lot of time reworking this whole thing. Chapters are shorter, which also means there's more of them before getting back to new material, so reviews dated before this date are "off" in the chapters referenced. Chapter 1 is now Chapter 1 & 2. What was Chp 2 is now Chp's 3 & 4. Chp 3 is Chp's 5, 6, & 7. Original Chp 4 is now Chp's 8, 9, 10 & 11. Chp 12 starts all new material. THANKS SO MUCH to all who are reading!

Disclaimer –"Yu-Gi-Oh!" and all related characters, events, and concepts belong to Takahashi Kazuki and any other related owners/distributors/producers. The world of Reirinsei and all related characters and concepts belong to Lunnaei. Dragon's just havin' fun. We get no monetary benefit from this. Our benefit is the enjoyment of dealing with beloved characters.

"Otherworld I: The Door"
by Lunnaei and DragonDancer5150

Chapter 1 – Behind Amethyst Eyes

Yugi sat gazing at the solid gold box on the desk before him, tracing the hieroglyphs across the front. He knew its every line and curve, had memorized its every inch some ten years ago when he first found it collecting dust on a back shelf of his grandfather's game shop one day where he had been playing as a child. Until two years ago, it held a puzzle no one had ever solved, including him. Then, one day, he did manage to solve it, changing his life forever. The result of eight years of diligence now hung on a thick, sturdy chain around his neck – an inverted pyramid known as the Millennium Puzzle. The Puzzle itself held great power and many secrets, not to mention its raw monetary value due to the solid gold that comprised it, as well as its great age and history, but what made it a dearly-loved treasure to Yugi was none of these. The Puzzle was also the home of a possessing entity, an amnesic spirit who had been trapped within, awakened with its solving. In fact, it had only been in very recent months that Yugi and his friends – and the spirit himself, for that matter – had begun to realize that the spirit was not just a facet of Yugi's own personality, developed out of the Puzzle's energies, but a separate individual in and of himself. Still, with no memories of his own, the spirit had no name of his own. To this day, Yugi thought of him as "Other Me" or "My Other Self" and the others called him the "Other Yugi."

They had recently learned that the spirit had once been an Egyptian pharaoh and that he had lived about 3,000 years ago. They had also learned that the spirit's memories had specifically been stolen, sealed from him for a reason none could fathom.

Within this box lay the keys to unlocking that seal. Yugi let his mind turn that thought over and over in its mental hands, exploring the implications. The God cards are in this box, the three God cards that Other Me fought hard to win in Battle City. They're a piece of the puzzle in the search for his memories. After school, Yugi would be going to the museum with Jonouchi, Honda, Anzu, and Bakura to see a stone slab on display from an ancient Egyptian temple. I haven't seen it, he mused, but Anzu said there's an image of a pharaoh carved on it that looks like Other Me. Apparently that stone slab means a lot to his lost memories. The three God cards, this mysterious slab . . . His fists clenched in determination. I promise you, My Other Self, you'll find your memories soon! The spirit did not react outwardly but Yugi knew that, deep within the room of his soul, within the Puzzle, the spirit knew well his conviction.

His mind turned to the conversation with his grandfather only moments ago. Even though it was well past midnight, Grandpa had wandered into Yugi's bedroom. Yugi knew that his mother would have been on both their cases if she had known that they were still up – or at least on his case, seeing as how it was a school night. Grandpa had begged to see the exceptional cards "just one more time" – he had already ogled them at least a dozen times by then – and they wound up in an argument over whether or not Yugi should allow him to display them in the shop as the ultimate in collector's items. Grandpa had pushed to the point that Yugi finally lost his temper, if only for that brief instant – "I said NO!" As Grandpa relented at last, he explained, "You don't know how hard it was, Grandpa. You don't know the life-and-death duels that Other Me had to go through in Battle City to win the God cards!" Not to mention everyone else's sufferings – Bakura, Mai, Jonouchi . . . Rishid . . . Malik . . .

"Hm?" Grandpa had interjected. "Other you?"

"Urk!" Yugi had gasped. "D-did I say 'other me'? I meant . . . uh, 'it bothered me'." Ut-oh . . . Grandpa hasn't met Other Me . . . . Well, there was that time, almost a year ago, when Grandpa had spoken to both him and the other him from time to time during the Duelist Kingdom tournament. Then again, it had been from within a videotape in which his soul had been trapped – so maybe he did not remember . . . .

"Yugi." Something in the tone snapped Yugi's attention back to the present with a twinge of foreboding. Still, he was completely unprepared for his grandfather's next words. "You're talking about the pharaoh's soul, aren't you?"

Yugi nearly fell out of his chair. "WHAT? Grandpa, how did you . . . ?"

Suddenly gone were the light-heartedness and the half-joking greed over the cards. Mutou Sugoroku regarded his grandson in silence for the span of several heartbeats, and Yugi could see the memories and deep thoughts playing behind amethyst eyes as rich as his own. At length, he laid a gnarled hand on his grandson's shoulder. "All I know is . . . the one who solves the Millennium Puzzle inherits the will of the Pharaoh, and that person will be endlessly tested. Yugi, that is the fate of the chosen one."

Grandpa . . . . For a long moment, grandfather and grandson gazed at one another, and Yugi could almost hear his grandfather's thoughts, in truth or imagined – No matter what, you mustn't give up! Finally, he nodded in all confidence. After all, he was not alone in facing whatever fate had in store for him. "I know."

With that, the moment passed, the dark seriousness broken. "Oh, ho!" Grandpa laughed, ruffling his grandson's thick hair affectionately. "Well, time for bed. Good night, Yugi!"

"Good night, Grandpa!"

"Say . . . Yugi?" Sugoroku hesitated at the door. "What time are you and your friends going to the museum tomorrow?"

"Hm? Ah, well, we're heading over right after school. By bus, we should get there, um . . . " Yugi's voice trailed off as he tried to recall the exact times of the bus schedule to Domino City Museum.

"Would you mind if an old man tags along? Or would you and your friends rather not be hanging out with your grandpa?" he teased with a wink.

"Oh! No, of course not! Er, w-we wouldn't mind, I mean."

Sugoroku nodded. "I'll close up shop early and meet you there, then. Be sure to get some sleep. I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be a very important day." With that, he closed the door behind him.

Yugi gazed at the door now as he had a few minutes ago when Grandpa had left, then returned his attention to the box. I . . . I wonder just how much Grandpa does know about what's going on. He's the one who found the Puzzle to begin with, navigating the traps in the Tomb of the Nameless Pharaoh some thirty years ago when he was a world-wide traveler and gambler, before meeting Grandma and settling down to open the Kame Game Shop.

"That is the fate of the chosen one." Why did Grandpa say that? He recalled similar words from the dark spirit that had, until this past weekend, inhabited the Millennium Ring. "To awaken the pharaoh's memories is the duty of the one chosen by the puzzle." How could he have known? How much did he know about all that? Thankfully, Yugi thought, there was no asking him anymore. The mysterious spirit of the Ring had apparently perished when Bakura Ryou, his host and Yugi's friend, had suffered his soul being separated from his body as penalty of a lost Shadow Game inflicted during the terrible Battle City Finals. Yugi and his other self had managed to win Bakura's soul back along with many other victories by the time those horrible duels were over with for good. With the end of the finals, too, Yugi had found himself in possession of four of the seven Millennium Items, including the Ring. His other self had already checked it out to the best of his ability, thoroughly exploring its energies with all of the Shadow power ability at his disposal, and the sadistic, self-serving possessing entity was nowhere to be found.

Yugi let out a deep sigh and shook his head, feeling the lateness of the hour aching in his limbs. Without taking the Puzzle from his neck, he clicked off his light and climbed into bed. Morning would come soon enough.

8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8

The spirit waited until he believed Yugi to be asleep before manifesting himself. He sat at the desk where his aibou had been only a half-hour prior, himself gazing at the fateful box for a long moment. Out of ornery whim, he reached out to touch its golden lid, even though he knew before it happened that his ephemeral hand would simply pass right through. He turned his eyes to gaze out the window in the steeply slanted roof-wall. Had it only been three nights since last he had sat like this? He heaved a deep sigh, his mind wandering over all that had happened in the interim.

For one, he recalled Yugi going into Bakura's room on Kaiba's ship, where their friend lay in a coma. Yugi did not know what had happened, and the spirit manifested himself by Yugi's side to explain that the dark spirit of Bakura's Millennium Ring had lost a Shadow Game to Malik, who at the time was still bent on mistakenly-targeted revenge. Bakura's soul could not return unless the man who established the Dark Game was defeated. The same held true for Mai's soul . . . and no one was quite sure what had befallen Rishid. The whole situation was resolved at long last – Malik realized his mistake at the very end and fought to right all the wrong he had done – but not before a great deal of damage had been wrought. The spirit thought about his aibou's deep sorrow as Yugi commented from the side of Bakura's bed that there had been too many sacrifices in this tournament. The spirit remembered his own grief as he had apologized – and not for the first time – saying that he was to blame, that Malik was doing it all out of hatred for the Pharaoh he had been condemned to "protect" and whom, Malik thought, had betrayed him. The spirit would never forget the look in the young man's eyes as Yugi had earnestly protested that this was not the spirit's fault, that he could not be blamed for things he could not remember. Did he not try to protect everyone? He encouraged the spirit to continue the battle, believing that it was still possible to save everyone. The spirit had agreed, saying that a True Duelist would not quit in the middle of the fight.

Then, Jonouchi had fallen.

That had to have been the most savage blow to both their hearts – the spirit and his living partner. Jonouchi was Yugi's closest friend of all those that he had. As a brother, Yugi loved him dearly. The spirit closed his eyes in pain at the memory of standing materially by Jonouchi's bed as Yugi, himself in spirit form, cried his best friend's name over and over again, begging him not to die. That had been too much for the spirit's wounded heart, and he withdrew into the hallway, followed only by Yugi, still sobbing bitterly. "Jonouchi-kun, if you die, I . . . "

At those words, the spirit responded in his own anguish by switching off his Duel Disk. "I can't fight anymore." He did not have to look to know that his aibou's eyes were on him at that, full of concern. He recalled the promise he had made to Jonouchi to play him when Jonouchi had finally become a True Duelist. To carry out that promise should have been his goal in Battle City. "Finding my memory, the God cards . . . it's all nothing compared to a promise to a friend. Did I sacrifice Jonouchi for that?" He felt Yugi's ethereal hand on his arm, but he could not bring himself to acknowledge it. "All I have left is my hatred for Malik," he muttered, then punched the wall in sudden fury, vehemently demanding, "but after that, what do I have left!" Yugi had not had an answer for him, but the Millennium Necklace in his pocket, which Ishizu had given him after losing to Kaiba in the semi-finals, did.

Alongside an unexpected visit by Jonouchi's soul, the spirit was given a vision of the future wherein he and Jonouchi did indeed have their promised duel, that Jonouchi was going to be all right. Deciding to trust in the reality of that future, the spirit had gone ahead and finished what he had started. Thanks be to the ancient gods, fate, or whatever it was out there in charge – everyone had been saved in the end, even Malik himself.

The spirit's eyes wandered from the box on the desk to the knapsack on the bottom shelf of the bookcase to his right, within which rested the other three Millennium Items in his and Yugi's possession. So much suffering – he could not help but wonder . . . was it all worth it? And what lay ahead for him? What was his fate now?

"Nakama . . . "

Yugi's voice was so soft that, for a moment, the spirit could not tell if he had honestly heard it or merely imagined it. Hearing the nickname his closest friend used in private, he looked over to see Yugi sitting up in bed, regarding him with those large expressive eyes he had come to cherish so deeply. He had already caused the innocent young man such pain . . . -I'm sorry. Did I wake you?- As a ghost, his words were not so much heard by human ears as felt in his partner's mind.

Yugi shook his head. "No. I couldn't sleep, either. After all, tomorrow we might get your memories back! You've been wanting them for so long! I'm too excited to sleep!"

Such incredible selflessness . . . The spirit looked away briefly to gaze out the window, unable to meet those bright, generous eyes. It was a long moment before he could speak. -Aibou,- he started hesitantly, -I know that who I really am . . . is the soul of the pharaoh sealed in the Millennium Puzzle. I met you when you became my aibou, my partner in the search for my memories. Then I met Jonouchi and Anzu, Honda, and lots of other friends . . . -


-Now I have new memories, the memories of being with my friends. No matter what happens to me, those memories will always be there.- That was one thing that bothered him deeply, that he would lose his present self in regaining his past. Speaking the words aloud, however, helped him to start believing them as he had not been able to yet. He turned to meet Yugi's gaze then. -To me, the memories of my friends are an eternal treasure.- He could not emphasize that enough.

He watched Yugi absorb his words, mulling some of his own thoughts behind amethyst eyes. Yugi's hand found the Puzzle sitting in his lap, and he cupped it up in his palm before raising his gaze once again to the spirit's. "Nakama, this is just like when I put the Millennium Puzzle together. This time it's your turn to put the pieces of your memory back together. As long as you need me, I'll always be your partner!"

-Aibou . . . - No words could begin to express the spirit's gratitude. It was Yugi's boundless hope, courage and conviction that had always given the spirit the strength to face any challenge set before him – and now more so than ever. With a big, genuine smile on his face, the spirit nodded. -YES!-

Author's Notes: Please be sure to check my bio page for any updates, etc. Thanks!

Aibou – "Partner" or "Pal." Yami's nickname for Yugi, born both of fondness and respect (per canon).

Nakama – "Buddy." If only for my own sake, this is a nickname Yugi has given Yami (not canon :grin:). His full (canon) name for Yami is "Mou Hitori no Boku" – "the Other Me" or "My Other Self" . . . but also, it just seems to me that Yugi would respond to having a nickname by giving one in return, something personal just between the two of them. And according to , for one, an expansion of the connotative meaning of the word is (paraphrased) someone who is as close as blood family, especially if the other character has no apparent relatives of their own. Which Yami doesn't . . . so Yugi's claiming him as such, in a sense. XD