Disclaimer: I am much too sad already. But if you feel the need to depress me further, then FINE, wrench it out of me. I don't own YGO. Happy now?
Author's Note: I can't quite fathom it, that this is the end. It started as just some scribble in my notebook, and this is the result. 92 reviews (OMG) and 7,327 hits. I just re-read it from start to finish, and there are parts I love, and parts I hate. But all in all, I wouldn't change a thing, because this story not only made me happy, it also made other people happy. And that is all I wanted. I might have more thought up on my profile. Many thanks to my reviewers: Pace, Almadine-Azaleea, Dogdate, Darkyami7, Oroko, HOPPY SAN 2345, Linzy, and Timme for all your repeat reviews. Everyone else, I love you to bits. It's all for you. Merci.
Reminder from last chapter: I knew I locked the door! Someone must've broken in! Yugi was able to think in panic, before the light was flicked on, and his amethyst eyes widened in surprise at what he saw.
The room flooded with light, and Yugi felt as if his heart was in his throat. His room had been completely changed. Covering his walls, and littering the floor and bed, were hundreds and hundreds of photographs. The hand slipped from his mouth, but the young boy barely registered it, as he looked in awe around his room. A light chuckle behind him made him remember the intruder, and he spun on his heel to see who it was.
Ryou grinned back at his smaller friend's surprise. "Do you like the redecorating?" he asked innocently, nodding to indicate the pictures.
Yugi turned back to his room, and took a step more into it, slowly spinning as he looked around at all the pictures. He was careful to only walk on the photograph-free path on the carpeted floor. "Ryou," he whispered, "What is all this?" Yugi's voice was awed, as he faced a wall covered in snapshots.
"All the pictures of are you and him," Ryou said softly, as if not wanting to break the quiet moment. "I took every one out of the Pharaoh's album and put them up. And I made copies of some of the ones Jou and Mai had. I only had one to add, but there are still quite a few, aren't there?" he reached out and nudged Yugi in the back lightly. "Go look at them," he urged.
Numbly, Yugi peered closely at what decorated his walls. Each one held a memory, and some were newer than others. Posted just above his desk was a picture that made the corner of his mouth turn up in a half-smile. Yugi had been on his way over to Anzu's to meet up with the gang, when he had been caught in a rainstorm. His normally spiked up hair had been plastered to his face and shoulders with the rain. Jou had taken the picture, just as Yugi had come into the house, but it had ended up tilted to the side as Yugi had attempted to put up a hand to stop the shot. And in the background, Yami lounged against the half-open door, his crimson eyes sparkling in amusement, and a hand up to his mouth to shield his smile that no one would have been able to see anyways.
The next picture was of Seto and Jou in each other's faces; Seto was looking smug, arms crossed over his chest, and Jou was looking irritated, mouth open in a snarl. The blonde's one fist was raised, as if he wanted to knock the smile right off the millionaire's face. Yugi was standing between them, almost dwarfed by the two taller teens. The small gamer had his hands held up and was obviously attempting to quell the argument as best as possible. Yami was in the background in this photo as well, caught right in the middle of a very un-pharaoh-like rolling of the eyes.
Yugi reached a hand out to brush the tips of his fingers over the barest corner of the pictures. There were ones when they as a group had gone to the library. Yugi was chewing on a pencil, and Yami was leaning over a red book, looking interested in the title. One other was of Yami looking helpless as Yugi was captured mid-fall from an untied bootlace.
Some of the photos Yugi recognized as being taken by Anzu; it was well known her previous obsession with her camera she had received for her birthday. Still others were tiny cramped sticker-style pictures that you had to cram into a booth to take. These ones were stuck to his lampshade.
Yugi turned back to look at his white haired friend, not really noticing that his own amethyst eyes shone with tears. "Ryou, how did you do all this? How did you know that me and the pharaoh—"
Ryou reached out and slipped something up and over Yugi's head, letting it fall to settle around the smaller boy's neck. Yugi looked wordlessly down at the millennium puzzle, and then back to Ryou's amused chocolate brown eyes. "Ask him yourself, Yugi," He told him in explanation. "You have a lot to talk about."
Almost instinctively, Yugi brought his small hands up to cradle around the cool gold object around his neck. Though his bond with the pharaoh was still closed off, he felt what could only be compared to as a spark run up his fingers as he made contact with the item. He battled hard with the tears in his eyes, as he slowly turned to look at the bed, all thoughts of Ryou forgotten.
Yami sat a bit awkwardly on the comforter, gingerly placing himself between two sets of pictures that rested on the bed as well. He looked up and winced, then looked back down at his feet. "Hello Yugi," the pharaoh intoned, his voice soft. He smiled a bit as his hand ghosted over the photograph that he could see but not touch.
"Yami," Yugi breathed, a scant trace of a blush staining his cheeks at the awkwardness he felt in his heart where friendship used to be. "I…" he trailed off, and looked back to Ryou helplessly, only to find that the other boy had slipped back out of the room; closing the door silently behind him as he did so.
Yami sighed, and got to his feet, turning to look at all the pictures scattered over the once bare walls. "They're wonderful," he said in a shaky conversational tone. He pointed one ghostly finger, "That's the one I like the best."
Yugi turned to follow the pharaoh's indication. It was a smaller picture, pasted to the headboard of Yugi's bed. He recognized it right away, though it had been altered; for the original picture did not have only himself and the pharaoh in it; Honda had been there too. It was edited and enlarged to show just the two tri-colored hair teens. Yugi was grinning up at his counterpart, and Yami likewise was captured in the middle of a laugh. Peeking in the background was the lush grass of the park they had been at, and the bright sun of early spring. The two partners looked for the whole world as if the only thing they saw was the smile on the other's face.
"I like it too," Yugi admitted softly, his heart aching to have those fun, carefree times back. Is this distance between us too great now? Can we ever expect it to go back to the way it was? It was our first real fight…things changed now. He'll be wary around me, and can I trust him like I used to? Filled with questions he had no answers for, Yugi just rubbed a thumb over the corner of the puzzle in his hands. "Yami, I—"
The pharaoh held up one translucent hand. "No, please let me. I'm afraid if I don't start, I never will." His crimson eyes were weary. He opened his mouth, then closed it again, afraid that he would say the wrong thing again. He cautiously moved closer to where Yugi stood, encouraged when his partner did not take a step back. "I wanted to say that I was sorry. You're the other half of my soul, Yugi, and when I thought I had lost you because of my selfishness, it made my heart ache."
Yugi could not make his eyes meet with those of his other self, and instead let his gaze wander about the pictures; never lingering on the scenes for too long or the tears would threaten to overflow.
The pharaoh continued, turning lazily left and right so he could see all of the decorations on the walls. "To me, these are my memories. I lost the ones I had from Egypt. I was frightened at the thought of loosing these memories of you— and loosing you as well." A bitter smile graced his lips. "Is it strange that the time I have spent here, I value as much as I value my old life as a King?"
He continued on, not waiting for an answer to his question. "Everything can't go back to the way it was, can it? It will always be different now. But if you can forgive me, I can try again. I—well, Ryou and I—did this so you could see what I see." Yami moved closer still, and reached as if he wanted to place a hand on Yugi's shoulder, but stopped himself before trying. "I see us, Yugi. Just…us. I want you to be by my side as my partner and as my friend."
Quietly, for a full moment, Yugi was completely still. Then he felt his numb hands slide from the puzzle, letting its weight pull on his neck. As he did so, he felt his connection to the pharaoh blaze back open, and not even caring that Yami could hear every one of his jumbled thoughts now. It won't be the same as before, it will be better. Yugi closed his eyes; they were blurred with tears anyways. I was so stupid, Yami. I was jealous, and I overreacted—
Shh, Yami's deep mind voice was a heavy and comforting presence in Yugi's thoughts. Shakily, the pharaoh reached out a hand to let it hover just over the top of his aibou's head. We…together we can do it. Because I…Emotion overwhelmed even his thought-voice.
Yami moved without thinking. He reached forward tentatively, his crimson eyes half-lidded, and pressed his lips to Yugi's slightly parted ones. The young hikari's eyes flew open as he felt—not a ghostly apparition of the lost soul of the pharaoh—but the feather light touch of his first kiss. The moment stretched on to eternity, not even interrupted by the soft click of a camera's shutter.
Ryou smiled from his spot in the shadows, and set the new Polaroid picture down on the desk, its image not even developed yet. He then swiftly eased himself out of the room again, the camera held loosely in his hand. He stepped out of Yugi's house entirely, and checked his watch, smiling up at the sunlight as the wind ruffled his white hair. A minute passed, and for Ryou it was just long enough, until he heard the voice from the ring whisper, It's time.
I know, he said back, and placed his one hand on the cool metal of the millennium ring, allowing himself to be once again absorbed into its semi-darkness; reluctantly releasing his control of his body. When he opened his eyes again, they were a deeper brown, bordering on black.
What were you doing at the baka-pharaoh's house? Bakura inquired, jamming his hands into his pockets. What were you up to, Yadonushi? The spirit asked suspiciously, turning on his heel, and stalking away. He didn't like being so near the millennium puzzle and knowing he had to bide his time. Did you do something stupid?
I was just helping someone understand, Ryou said back, already getting ready to settle into the solitude of the ring. And … we looked at some photographs.
The small black frame suited the Polaroid picture perfectly. It was tucked away in a quiet corner of Yugi's bedroom—not hidden, but rather, treasured dearly. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but in cramped gold writing, only one was scrawled on the upper corner of the black frame; in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.
To everyone who reviewed, or put this on favorites, or even just read it in general, thank you to the bottom of my heart. I couldn't have done it without you. I really need to go before I get even more emotional than I already am. I hope you enjoyed it.