This is another one that comes out of stalling on—er, I mean outlining my longer sequel to Revival. A big part of the focus of that is going to be Yugi's bond to his other self and his wrestling with exactly what that means.
When I first found Yu-gi-oh fanfic, I was perplexed by the YY/Y yaoi fics. Having always seen the two as part of the same person, halves of one whole, and being unable to picture Yami in his own body, I couldn't wrap my mind around the idea of them having a sexual relationship. Recently I began reading Future Tense by LeDiz, which is an absolutely phenomenal YY/Y story. Don't know why I ended up reading something with that pairing, but I did and I'm glad I did. The pairing itself still doesn't really work for me in general, but in this story it's so compelling, it really is reminding me what a deeply powerful bond they have and I now can totally see why so many people are fond of that pairing.
This got me to thinking. It's hard to really put words around the depth of the bond between Yugi and his other self because we can only conceptualize two souls sharing one body on a metaphoric level and usually "you complete me" or "my other half" is used to describe romantic/sexual/spousal relationships. So how do you describe a love that isn't romantic but isn't exactly platonic, either? Here's Yugi's musings on the subject.
Summary: In Greek there are four words to describe love. But there is no word to describe the bond with my other self. YxYY – NOT yaoi or shonen-ai. End of series spoilers.
Disclaimer: Yu-gi-oh isn't mine. 'Nuff said.
Rating: K+ for allusion to adult themes.
In Greek, there are four words for love.
Philia. Brotherly love. Friendship. That's easy. It's Joey. Tristan, Bakura, Duke, Mai, and many of the others, too, but primarily Joey. He is my brother, my best friend. He means the world to me.
Storge. Family love. That's easy, too. Mostly that's Grandpa. Mom, too, but she isn't around like Grandpa is, so when I think of the bonds of family, he's it. I also think of Joey and Serenity or Kaiba and Mokuba. Their relationships are so beautiful to me. I'm an only child, so I can only understand from the outside what it's like, but it's still something well-defined and clear.
Eros. Romantic love. Falling in love, being in love. Desire. This, of course, is Téa. She is my light, my life. I can't describe what she means to me, but then I don't have to because the whole concept of Eros is a familiar one. Volumes have been written on the subject; what could I possibly add? It's funny how everyone in love feels like their love is completely unique, completely indescribable, but if I call her "my girlfriend," it's very clear the space she occupies in my heart. It has known boundaries that everyone understands.
Agape. That's the big one. It's altruism, the love of mankind, giving your life for others in a general sense. I like to think that I have a sense of this as well, that I've done all the things I've done, fought the battles I've fought, because it was the right thing to do. Maybe not totally. Duelist Kingdom was personal for me, more Storge than Agape. Battle City was personal for him, fighting for his memories. The whole Orichalcos thing was more along the lines of Agape, but in the end, that got personal, too. It usually does, though, when you're trying to do the right thing.
So there are four Greek words to describe love. You'd think that would be enough. And yet, even now, even three years after he left, there is no word to describe my bond with my other self, my Yami half, Atem.
Agape is too general.
Philia isn't strong enough. As much as I love Joey, as much as he means to me, the words that describe our friendship could only scratch the surface of my bond to Atem.
Storge isn't right either. He's not my brother. He's not my father or my child. He's a part of me. Maybe that's how parents feel about their children. I don't know because I'm not a parent. But it doesn't seem the same because where children come from their parents, they still are separate from their parents. Separate beings unto themselves. And the relationship between parents and children is one-way; the child comes from the parent. My other self came from me, and I came from him. It's reciprocal. He's not the parent and I'm not the child, nor am I the parent and he the child. So Storge doesn't quite cover it, either.
Eros. I'm not in love with him and he was not in love with me. I don't feel physical attraction for him. The very idea is unsettling to me because his body was mine. And yet…. How can I explain it? I can't. There's a depth that's associated with Eros that comes closest to describing what we meant to each other. What he still means to me, even three years later. He's my other half, the one who completes me, my soulmate. We were one flesh, two souls joined as one. The thing is, these are all familiar words, metaphors that have been used to describe romantic relationships and marriage and sex. But ultimately, they're only metaphors. When I'm with Téa, I feel all these things. I feel so close to her, like she understands me as no one else could. She feels like my soulmate, but she isn't, not really, because she's not me. She's still a completely separate person from me. Even in our most intimate moments, there still is a clear-defined place where I end and she begins, and if she were gone, I'd be miserable, but I'd still be me.
He, on the other hand, is literally all these things. He is my other half. He does complete me. He is my soulmate. We were one flesh, two souls joined as one.
He is gone, and I'm not sure if I am still me without him.
What's puzzling, then, isn't just that there is no word for love that accurately describes our bond. There's no real frame of reference for describing us. He is me, so I guess technically what I feel for him could be described as self-love or even ego-centrism. But he's also not me. He has an existence that is completely joined with mine, but he also had an existence separate from me and I had one separate from him. He's me, but he's not me. It's a paradox that defies easy definition and most people can only understand on that metaphoric level that is Eros.
The closest I can get to finding a word that feels right is the name he called me. Aibou. Partner. But that word is so often associated with gay couples and how they define their significant others that it, too, has romantic connotations that don't fit. But still, it comes the closest. I am his partner. His… significant non-other maybe?
So where other relationships fit neatly into one category or the other, our relationship blurs the lines, spilling over across all the categories, making it hard to pin down. The problem with this is that it complicates all my other relationships.
It complicates my relationship with Téa.
When I look at Joey, I'm envious of how deeply he can love Serenity and how deeply he can love Mai. The one is Storge, the other is Eros. They don't conflict with each other. Even when he sometimes has to choose one over the other, there still is a distinction between the two that means there is no incongruity. He can love them both easily and they each know where they fit in his life and how that differs the one from the other. They occupy clear and separate spaces of his heart.
Atem, Téa, and I overlap in a sort of murky quagmire that leaves me feeling confused and at odds with myself. I can't separate out the Eros from the Partner-ness cleanly and so I am constantly struggling to get my bearings, to know where the me that is me fits.
If I were to greatly oversimplify things, I could say that we started as a triangle. I loved her. She loved him. He loved me. Because I loved her, I wanted her to be happy and since I knew she loved him, I tried to set them up. Because he loved me, he wanted no part of it.
This could have kept us stagnant indefinitely but for the fact that it never really was that simple at all. She loved him, but she loved me too. She couldn't always tell where he ended and I began. I loved her, but I loved him too, so I never wanted him to leave, even though it made things so complicated. He loved me… but he loved her too. And he didn't know what to do with that, so he swallowed it. For me. And I don't know what to do with that, either, because in my worst moments, when I'm at my most insecure, I feel like maybe I'm the interloper. I'm the one who doesn't belong here because he had everything, everything that she could love, everything that could make her happy and if he didn't love me so much, he could have let himself love her the way she wanted him to.
And then I get angry. Angry at him for being here and making it hard to know who I am. Angry at her for loving him first. Angry at him for leaving. Angry that I'm somehow supposed to be him now that he's gone, but it mostly only feels like playing pretend. I can't be him and I can't be me, either, because the time we were together irrevocably changed us both forever.
So every day I find myself fighting the Ceremonial Battle all over again. Every day I duel him. I want to win, I don't want to win. I want him to leave, I want him to stay. I want him gone so I can have Téa to myself; I want him here because I can't be enough for her alone. Every day, I fight this fight. I always win and nothing changes. He's still gone and he's still not gone. So the next day I fight the battle all over again.
I will keep fighting this battle, every day, until I can find the word to define him. To define us. Until I can find a way to put him in his place in my heart and Téa in hers so that the two don't overlap and blend together. So that I can see her and not see him. So that I can see him and not see her. So that I can believe when she looks at me she sees me. So that I can finally, finally understand what it means to be me. Until then, I'll fight. Until I can find that word.
Or until I lose. Then he would stay behind and I would go.
But there's no word to describe that, either.