Shorter Disclaimer –"Yu-Gi-Oh!" and all related characters, events, and concepts belong to Takahashi Kazuki and any other related owners/distributors/producers. "Rifts: Role-Playing Game," "Nightspawn/Nightbane: Role-Playing Game," and all related characters, events, and concepts belong to Palladium Books Publishing and related entities. I get no monetary benefit from this. My benefit is the enjoyment of dealing with beloved characters.

"Between the Shadows"
by DragonDancer5150

Chapter 11 – Common Ties

Pur-n'kln padded up to a tree and reared onto his hind legs, arms reaching high above his head. Sickle-curved claws scratched shallow furrows into the bark as the feline enjoyed a very long, leisurely stretch, wings extending so that the tips touched the ground behind him, tail stuck straight out but for a little curl at the end.

Yami watched him, feeling a bit ornery. He leaned over on the bench and lightly poked an ethereal finger into the fur and flesh of the other's ribs. His companion shivered with a sharp squeak and dropped back to all fours, sitting on his haunches and looking up with a tilt of his head and sheepish tuck of the chin, ears folded partway back. Yami chuckled softly. "Sorry, Purn."

Pur-n'kln shook his head, the Talisman of Tongues around his neck swaying slightly with the motion. "Oh, do not be. It is just that . . . your touch . . . I am still not completely accustomed to it." A shy smile danced in emerald cat eyes.

Which is what makes doing that so amusing, Yami thought with a silent laugh, hand absently flexing and clenching, fingers rubbing to work out the sensation in the one tip. Even if it's odd for me as well. Normally, Yami could not stand the uncomfortable feeling of something solid invading his energy pattern. He did not pass through things or people, nor let them pass into him, unless it was necessary. He had tried to describe the sensation to Donovan once, who likened it to the teeth-gritting "pressure" one would get from the energy fields of holding two magnets in hand and trying to force them together negative-pole to negative-pole. Yami did not have the luxury of a physical body with which to test the effects of a magnetic field and could only concede that it might feel rather similar. Still, he could tolerate the sensation if he had to – or chose to, such as to tease his companion.

He sat back against the bench and let his gaze wander down the length of the arboretum as Pur-n'kln settled on his stomach at Yami's feet. Yami shook his head, resisting the urge to reach down and scratch behind inviting cat ears . . . and trying to ignore the sight of the whiplashes interrupting the bloodied coat of fur under folded wings. He had grown accustomed to the sight of the terrible wounds, but they grieved him all the same. He knew that, while Pur-n'kln had long learned to deal with them and hardly noticed them anymore unless he moved just wrong – he could even fly despite the tears in the wing leathers – in truth, they still hurt as if freshly inflicted. Yami himself knew the punishing burn of whipfire all too well, and wished there were something he could do for his friend.

His "friend." Yami thought about that for a moment. Yes, it was true. Perhaps it was born of a desperate need for friends. Yami still missed Donovan terribly, even more than a month later. How could he not? Donovan had been his only friend, and for over twenty years. The Dee-Bee had taught him the most about this new world, far more than the immediate necessities with which Anghrist usually favored him before any given mission: about ley lines, monsters and magic, about Atlantis, the Coalition States, the Federation of Magic, the Xiticix, the New German Republic, the Vampire Kingdoms, the Gargoyle Empire, and so much more. Donovan also had seen to Yugi's physical needs with such care, and truly had grieved at Yami's situation, doing what little he could to ease his friend's suffering.

No. At first, perhaps, any feelings of kinship with Pur-n'kln might have been more out of a rebound from the loss of Donovan than from anything sincere, but Yami knew that it was more than that now. Pur-n'kln was an individual who shared his experiences, who suffered a similar fate. Unlike the rest of the company, Pur-n'kln was a slave too, with all the same expectations, limitations, and threats of punishment for even the slightest failure. He was also a surprisingly kind soul, good-natured in spite of all the horrors he had seen and suffered in his life. And from what Yami understood, they had been many. Still, he had proven an honorable, trustworthy, and capable ally, and he took care of Yugi with a level of attention that rivaled Donovan's. That, if nothing else, Yami could not ignore.

Yami glanced sideways, opposite the tree. Yugi – his body, at any rate – sat next to him on the bench, staring at . . . what, Yami could not fathom. Likely nothing. So why does it feel like there should be more awareness there? he thought. Over the past few weeks, Yami got the feeling of something faintly amiss every time he looked at Yugi, like there was something different, something that had changed, but he could not place it. His aibou's movements were just as slow and mindless, the gaze just as empty. Yami suffered from nightmares of one kind or another almost every time he slept, always had, even back centuries ago in Japan. Some were pure fabrications of his subconscious psyche. Many were memories from his present "life," his slavery to Anghrist and the things he had seen and suffered. A number were from before, during the time of Duels and Shadow Games, of Bakura's Ring-spirit, Malik, and the God Cards, the time of family like Yugi's mother and grandfather, and of dear friends: Jonouchi, Anzu, Honda, Bakura Ryou, Kaiba and his brother, and so many more. Even the dreams from those pleasant memories invariably turned into nightmares as he would fail in his fights, his opponents winning the Duels and other Shadow Games and destroying everything he held dear, while he was left powerless to protect his loved ones. And with the incident in that unknown summoning chamber, a few of those nightmares had taken on some new angles . . .

Lately, however, there were some times when he did not suffer from the nightmares that reminded him of how he had failed his friends and his aibou. He did not remember any dream at all, but on those occasions he awoke with Yugi's bright laughter ringing in his ears, and the impression of his aibou's eyes before his, dancing with life, encouragement and hope. His own eyes filled with tears now as he studied the silent, listless body beside him.

He flinched a bit, startled, as Pur-n'kln shifted just then, wings fluttering a little and tail-tip thumping the ground in a slow but restless rhythm. The spirit had all but forgotten his partner's presence. Yami grimaced at that term, but there really was no other way to describe him. Yugi was Yami's "partner" in terms of what Fate had meant for them to be to each other, how they had been given to each other to help one another in their lives' journeys. Heh, "life" being a relative term in my case, of course. However, as he gazed down at the felinoid at his feet, he could not deny that he truly had a "partner" now in this present existence as well, at least for as long as Anghrist continued to lease Pur-n'kln from his Atlantean masters. He hoped that was quite a long time. In addition to the friendship the two had developed in the past few weeks, Yami had never known anyone, in this present existence nor the previous one, who could match and compliment Yami's powers with abilities of his own. Only the spirit of the Millennium Ring might have been able to do that in the past, but that one, Yami knew, would all but face annihilation before he would agree to work with his declared arch-enemy. Pur-n'kln, on the other hand, had a set of trained skills and mystical powers he used freely to blend with anything Yami did. And in addition to the magics he claimed his masters had given him, he was a capable thief, spy and assassin, as well as a kick-ass fighter when he knew that he was allowed to fight at all.

Yami paused, a little surprised at himself. "Kick ass"? He shook his head with a suppressed chuckle at himself for using a phrase he had long come to associate with his old friend. Gods, Donovan, I miss you.

The sound of Yami's chortle made Pur-n'kln's ears perk and swivel in his direction, and the felinoid sat back up on his haunches to look at him. Yami gave him a wry grin. "Sorry, did I derail your train of thought, there?" He swallowed a mock-groan at himself. That was another strange phrase he had learned from Donovan. In fact, he had been finding himself using a lot of "Donovan-isms" lately.

As was the case more often than not, Pur-n'kln seemed completely oblivious to any subtle humor in Yami's choice of words, merely shaking his head. "Not really, no." He tilted his head, ears laying back a bit. "May I ask you about something, though?"

Yami did chuckle aloud at that, amused in spite of himself. "Purn, how many times do I have to tell you that you don't need permission to talk to me about something not directly related to a current assignment?" And when did you become "Purn" to me, anyway? So informal and familiar, so endearing, to call one by a nickname . . .

Pur-n'kln's chin tucked, ears lying a bit flatter. This time, however, he did snicker softly at himself. "Ah, apparently as many times as you have plus once, at least."

Yami chuckled again. "Apparently. What's on your mind?"

"Well . . . I . . . I have been thinking . . . about our partnership and assignments, and what Master Anghrist must be paying for my rental."

Yami scowled, the words escaping him before he could stop them. "Don't, Purn. Don't put it that way." Pur-n'kln's ears had relaxed and begun to shift forward, but they laid back again at that as he flinched from the admonishment. Yami felt bad that he elicited such a reaction from his friend but, exactly because of that friendship, he would not back down on his point. "Things are 'rented,' Purn. You are not a piece of equipment."

Pur-n'kln's gaze had dropped. "Yes, sir."

Yami sighed. He no longer bothered to correct the use of "sir" to a fellow slave as he had early on, having learned enough of his partner's psyche to know it would never truly do any good. Pur-n'kln allowed himself to be more informal and familiar with Yami most of the time because that was what Yami desired but, in the creature's mind, all other beings were above him in station, even other slaves. In his mind, he really was no better than a thing, a tool for others' use, just as he had stated that first day. No matter how they had discussed it, no matter how Yami had tried to get him to see himself otherwise, it was as though Pur-n'kln simply could not, like there was some sort of psychological lock on his thought patterns.

"I assure you this one will give you no such trouble. He has been through specialized training procedures and implanted with certain safeguards to ensure his functionality without defect."

Yami recalled that High Lord's words, a scowl twisting his features at the memory. He had wondered back then if Pur-n'kln were a mechanical with some kind of central processing unit coded to follow rules and reject input that went against its programming. Yami knew now that his partner was indeed a living entity and guessed that whatever bound his thoughts was psionic or magical in nature. Hn, another thing we seem to share, Yami realized with a soft snort, thinking of his own sealed mind. His grimace deepened as he wondered, not for the first time, what had happened to lead Pur-n'kln's masters to do such a thing to their slave.

Then again, he thought maybe he did know.

Perhaps it was to help keep Yami's mind from stagnating in solitary confinement, but Anghrist called his slave out of the Millennium Puzzle for at least a few hours every day. Yami had long been allowed to roam as he pleased if his master did not have some task or assignment for him, so long as he did not cause any trouble with the rest of the company. Over the decades, Yami had explored every corner of the sprawling complex many times over, but rarely enjoyed the presence and companionship of any of the people around him except Donovan was not busy. The Dee-Bee not only had volunteered to care for the human vessel of his team's ghostly recon scout, but had gone out of his way to obtain permission from his employer to closely befriend and spend time with Yami, educating him a little on the world and giving him the companionship he so desperately needed. By then, Yami had earned a few privileges, such as roaming, after proving that he had properly "learned his place." Anghrist had not had to punish him for rebellious disobedience or escape attempts for almost a year. Yami had enjoyed hours talking with Donovan about anything and everything and, to this day, cherished the memory of those times.

With Donovan gone, Yami was still allowed to move about and socialize with his partner in off-duty times like this one, and he and Pur-n'kln had traded stories of their lives and experiences. Pur-n'kln, too, had once been willful and rebellious, back when he was still fully human. One escape attempt too many, accompanied by a distraction scheme designed to leave as much chaos in his wake as was possible, had proven his undoing. The whole plan had backfired with disastrous results, and he was captured before reaching the rendezvous point with those who were to help him get off Atlantis. He had gained his "beast form" during the punishment of a Bio-Wizard transmutation chamber, a tank filled with thick, green, magic fluid designed to heal and enhance, transform, or simply torture with agonizing deformity. The transfigurement brought with it strange, mystical powers that his masters claimed to have built into the torturous mutation. He had survived their experiment and proved to be a great asset in the powers he had gained. Yami wondered if part of the experiment included the psychological seals he guessed to be present in his friend's mind. He also wondered how the Splugorth had managed to embed their slave with powers that seemed to derive from the very Shadows he himself wielded . . .

Yami shook himself as he realized that he had allowed his mind to wander. He refocused on Pur-n'kln, noting that his friend had not moved, his head still bowed in submission. Yami ran a hand over his face with a soft sigh. He still had not learned to anticipate Pur-n'kln's frozen silences, having to recall anew each time it happened that his partner would not move nor speak again until given permission any time he felt he had done something wrong. Yami leaned forward, reaching out to pet gently at the fur behind the ram horns. He felt Pur-n'kln flinch at the touch, which for Yami was all the more reason for him to do so. Yami had learned firsthand the value of touch contact that did not involve pain, and knew that Pur-n'kln had discovered, to his surprise and pleasure, that he loved to be petted like a normal cat. "I'm sorry, Pur-n'kln," Yami murmured, his tone soft. "I didn't mean to snap at you. It's just that you know I don't like that you think so little of yourself."

Pur-n'kln allowed a small, tentative nod as he dared to glance up and meet Yami's eyes for an instant, his voice equally soft. "Yes, I-I do know. Thank you."

A sad grin touched Yami's lips before he let the matter pass. "Anyway, you were saying?"

Pur-n'kln relaxed a little more, though he did not meet Yami's gaze again right away. "I can guess well enough what Master Anghrist must be paying Master Splynncryth for my . . . that is, for me to be here. It's quite a large amount, and the rate is per day. And yet, the missions for which he retains me so far are both infrequent and have me operating well below my full capability. Yours, too, for that matter, if I may say it. And if all he wants me for are these assignments, why does he retain me during the times in between as well? It would be far more economical for him to fetch me as needed, as I do know that one of the regular destinations programmed into some of the transport chambers here is a teleportation room in the Great Pyramid in the city of Splynn. It is easy enough to reach me that way." He shrugged. "My only duty in the meantime, really, is to care for Master Mutou, which I do gladly but, for Master Anghrist, it would be far cheaper to have one of his own men do it." He looked up once more at that, his tone sincere. "Again, not that I mind at all . . . nor that I mind your company."

Yami smiled. "And I enjoy yours as well, very much. You're right, though, and I've thought about that myself, in regards to both of us. I have to wonder if it has anything to do with our similar energies."

"What you call 'the shadows,' yes," Pur-n'kln put in with a nod. "We do seem to wield much the same power, if not in the same manner. I can enter and travel through both normal and mystical shadows, fire blasts of dark energy or call down lightning bolts of it, blur the motion of my body into multiple afterimages, create a sizable pocket of subspace for storage and transport . . . things such as these, while you can cover an area in a cloud of shadows, create a shield and even a sword of solidified shadows, see into and across shadows . . . and that is to say nothing of what you can do with those cards from which you summon your creatures."

"The Shadows, yes. Before meeting you, I have only known a handful able to touch the Shadows in any way, and usually only to affect the outcomes of the Duels of old, as I have told you. There are only three I have seen instigate Shadow Games as I do, and all three of those could do so only because they had artifacts like mine." Yami's hand went to his stomach out of reflex, but his manifestation of the Millennium Puzzle was not there. Only when Yugi wore the real artifact did Yami reflect it with one from his own subconscious.

"The Millennium Items. And those three were Shadi, Bakura Ryou – or rather the malicious spirit that often controlled him – and Malik Ishtahl. These individuals bore the Millennium Key and Millennium Scales, the Millennium Ring, and the Millennium Rod, respectively."

Yami gazed back at his friend. Pur-n'kln's ability to retain and process information never ceased to astound him. "Yes, those."

"Whereas what I do is not focused through any suchartifact." Pur-n'kln's slitted cat eyes shifted to regard Yugi. "And he feels as though he could wield them as well, were he only able to try, and that without bearing your Puzzle, which Master Anghrist currently has in his study a few hundred feet from here. The feeling I have about Master Mutou and the shadows is just as strong even with that separation."

"Probably because he has been bound to me for so long, and has wielded along with me in the past."

"Perhaps . . . "

Though the felinoid would never dare to do so outright, Yami knew from the tone that Pur-n'kln disagreed, at least in part. Yami could guess what it was that his friend was thinking. Pur-n'kln felt a kinship with Yugi he could not explain, as though something specific to Yugi himself drew the felinoid's attention to him and, within a range of some six hundred feet, Pur-n'kln could pinpoint Yugi's exact location through that sensation alone. Yugi, too, reacted to Pur-n'kln's presence in small ways, which he had never done with anyone else, except occasionally with Yami, as though something in his instinctual subconscious recognized something about Pur-n'kln. Yami found that disturbing and could only be glad that Pur-n'kln was the friend that he was. He hated the thought that Yugi would be drawn in some way to someone or something that would threaten him. Pur-n'kln was no threat. Yami had made sure of it shortly after recognizing the seeming connection between him and Yugi by daring to instigate a minor Shadow Game, seeking to test his new partner's heart. Of course, Anghrist had discovered the unauthorized action and punished his slave for the disobedience, but Yami had to be sure. Pur-n'kln had proven to have a good heart, which meant that Yami was the loser of that Game, and he had endured the Penalty Game that the Shadows inflicted upon him without complaint, justified by the reassurance that he could trust his new partner.

When they first met, Pur-n'kln had asked Yami if Yugi had been altered as he had. From what little Pur-n'kln had described of the transmutation chamber, Yami could only pray that his aibou had not suffered the same, but he had to wonder. The two of them had slept for several centuries before being recalled from that subspace that had held them. What if Yugi had been pulled out at some point before that and Yami just did not remember or know? Was it possible that Anghrist had experimented on his other heart as Splynncryth's minions had experimented on Pur-n'kln? As much as Yami loathed the thought of his beloved aibou having been tortured by such a process, he could not ignore the fact that Yugi had not aged just as Pur-n'kln had not, and that he healed as rapidly as Pur-n'kln did. There definitely existed a very real probability of shared fates through the common ties of knowledge, interests, and business dealings that Yami's and Yugi's master shared with the vile ruler of Atlantis, whose race was renown for such sadistic practices as Bio-Wizardry, the magic – one might call it "science" – of genetic enhancement, manipulation and enslavement by means of magical transformation and surgical augmentation through parasites, symbiotes and the implantation of limbs and other living components. The predatory monstrosities known as Conservators, such as the three that had accompanied Pur-n'kln's arrival more than a month ago, were prime examples of the kinds of "bio-borgs" – biological cyborgs – that were the specialty of Bio-Wizards.

But, if that were the case, then why did Conservators or any other bio-borgs not wield the Shadows as well, nor Pur-n'kln feel the same kinship with them that he sensed from Yugi? No, there had to be more to the story, pieces of the puzzle that he and Pur-n'kln had yet to uncover.

"Anghrist may have had Aibou experimented on and altered as Splynncryth did to you," Yami mused, "but what made you and Aibou different from any other poor victim of their tortures?"

"Perhaps the experimental aspect of the process involved the incorporation of the living Shadows?"

Yami nodded, having come to the same conclusion. "But . . . all right, back up. That brings us back to the point of why Anghrist is retaining you even between missions, or has . . . has hired you in the first place." Yami refused to call it "rent" under any circumstances.

"You needed a partner."

"I had a partner." Yami groaned, planting his face into one hand. That comment had sprung from him by reflex. "Sorry. But still . . . Hn, perhaps there is something about you, specifically, that Anghrist wants, but he doesn't know when he'll need to employ it."

"That could be. What, though, I wonder."

"What, indeed. It may or may not be something that Aibou holds as well, considering the apparent similarities between you two, but to make use of that, Anghrist would have to reunite Aibou's body and soul, and to do that would lose him one of the most compelling means by which he manipulates and controls me. And for that matter, he's been allowing me to be out for far longer stretches than he ever has, except for on assignments. With my binding to the Millennium Puzzle, I can be out for ten-hour stretches at a time before I must return to it for at least an hour and a half to recover."

"What you call your 'house arrest'." A glimmer of amusement shone in Pur-n'kln's eyes.

Yami chuckled in spite of himself. "What Donovan once dubbed it, yes." He pulled a breath, thinking. "Whatever it is he wants from you, and the true reason he holds me, perhaps is not for these missions he has us running but something else entirely. Perhaps he's just using us for 'other things' in the meantime, preparing for his true goal to manifest somehow. And I wonder if it is deliberate that he allows us to spend as much time together as he does."

Pur-n'kln's head tilted, ears twitching, as he considered that. "You and I wield the same energies, though in very different ways, and neither of us has ever known another who can wield as the other does, and now here we are brought together . . . why?" His brow furrowed under blue-black fur.

"And why now? You are older than the length of time that Aibou and I have been here. Has he been waiting for something?"

"As you know, until about three years ago I had been in the New German Republic and the Gargoyle Empire on an assignment that took thirty years to set in motion and fully complete."

"And we've been here for over forty, but it was some fifteen from our . . . 'arrival' before Anghrist – " Yami stopped himself. Considered me sufficiently "broken" and house-trained. There was no way Yami would voice that shameful opinion willingly, but he could not deny that it was Anghrist's own wording . . . nor that it was true, in essence. Yami had tested his bonds every way he could imagine, and had failed at every turn, blocked by his master's greater cunning and power, and viciously punished or at the very least disgraced and humiliated each time, enough so that Yami had finally stopped trying. Not that he did not keep an eye out for opportunities to try again, but he knew that such chances would have to come from outside sources, from someone outside of himself, and he would not ask for help, not knowing the tortures that would await not only him but his would-be accomplice should they fail. He could not bring himself to ask that of another.

Pur-n'kln had been waiting patiently for him to finish his thought, watching the expressions that Yami knew had to have crossed his face. He swallowed, unable to meet his friend's eyes for a moment. "A-anghrist . . . would not have been ready for you to start working with me until after you were already on assignment," he concluded in a subdued voice.

Pur-n'kln hesitated another moment, empathy shining in his eyes as he regarded Yami. At length, he nodded. "Master would not have begun my rent before he needed or wanted me, but if he was only waiting for me to finish with my last assignment for Master Splynncryth, he would not have waited another three years, which would seem to mean that there is indeed a timetable in effect for Master's plans as well as the possible blending of our powers." His eyes widened a little as a thought seemed to occur to him. "Energies blend all the more easily and fully when the wielders are well familiar with one another and able to cooperate and read each other, both in action during the wielding itself and in terms of personality, that the individuals themselves are well-known to one another. Perhaps that is why he keeps us together so much even when we are not actively working together on an assignment."

Yami nodded, gaze falling to the grass at his feet as a thoughtful frown creased his forehead. "You may well be onto something, Purn." He looked up again suddenly, his words heartfelt even through the sheepish grin he gave. "I hope that doesn't mean you'll stop spending time with me, just to spite Anghrist."

Pur-n'kln shook his head solemnly. "I cannot defy my master, nor disobey any he sets over me, and Master Anghrist did specify that I am not to leave your side without his express permission." A small grin tugged at his lips as he added, "Which I suppose means that you are 'stuck' with me, Yami."

Yami chuckled. "No complaints, my friend. No complaints at all. Seriously, though . . . thank you. For what you do for Aibou and for me."

"It is truly my pleasure, Yami. I am happy to work with and serve you both."

Yami started to respond to the comment of being "served," but motion out of the left corner of his sight chased the thought from his mind.

Pur-n'kln chuckled, his tone rather fond. "Oops, I think we have kept Master Mutou out for too long."

"I think so," Yami agreed with a laugh. Yugi had slumped over sideways on the bench, curling up to sleep.

Pur-n'kln moved to reach for him. "Shall we get him back to his room?"

"No, we'll let him sleep here, at least until I have to withdraw again. The fresh air will do him good." Well . . . as fresh as one could get from what was recycled throughout a completely submerged complex. Yami himself did not have to breathe, but he understood that the plant-filled arboretum itself went a long way in keeping the air from stagnating. "Do you still have that spare blanket in your subspace Shadow pocket?"

"Yes, sir." Pur-n'kln raised a hand, tracing a claw in a slow line downward through the air as though tearing a cloth. Shadows trailed the gesture, then separated like the edges of a deep cut parting, and Yami could see purple-black Shadows twisting across the surface of the new spatial rift. Pur-n'kln reached in, his hand and forearm disappearing deep into his personal dimensional pocket before withdrawing again, clutching a neatly-folded, light thermal blanket.

"Oh, good. Roll that up for a – " But Yami need not have clarified, as Pur-n'kln had already bundled the cloth and started to tuck it under Yugi's head as a pillow. "Thanks, Purn." When Pur-n'kln had first revealed this particular power, Yami had to admit to having considered asking for his help then to steal Yami's three "treasures" – Yugi's body, the Puzzle stand with Puzzle and dish of soul-bearing mercury, and the steel box with his Deck – but Pur-n'kln unwittingly staved off the request before being made when he revealed that no living matter could be completely contained within. Pur-n'kln could reach in to retrieve things, his hand being living flesh, but if he placed something living and tried to close the pocket, whatever he put in would be pushed back out as the pocket collapsed. On some level, Yami was almost glad for that, as it saved him from the moral dilemma of asking for his friend's help, knowing the punishment if they were caught, or succumbing to the cowardice of not asking.

"Actually . . . a nap sounds like a wonderful idea," Pur-n'kln murmured as he waved his hand to close the small, Shadow-borne tear in space. He dropped to all fours, then rocked back on his haunches for a long stretch before settling at Yami's feet once more.

Yami grinned. "You do that, Purn." Though he had never said as much, Yami liked being active sometimes while his friend slept. Pur-n'kln suffered from almost constant nightmares as well, but they seemed to be lessened, even dispelled, when there was a friendly hand to comfort against them with a soft pet to the head, shoulder, haunch, even along a wing limb, anywhere that avoided the whiplashes and kept from reminding the felinoid's mind of the reason for the nightmares to begin with. Yami was glad to be able to offer that comfort. He only wished there was a way for someone to do that for him . . . as Yugi once had done.

Yami laid a hand on his aibou's ankle and settled back, enjoying the peace of the arboretum, letting himself forget for a moment the cares and horrors that lay beyond. He would deal with them again soon enough.

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