One night together with you again
Characters: Mutou Yuugi and Yami no Yuugi (Atemu)
Warnings: Valentine angst, drama, and even more drama!
(Post Ceremonial Battle) Life is strangely empty to Mutou Yuugi after
losing his best friend, and the upcoming romantic holiday doesn't
make things any better.
Author's note: unbeta-ed and written just for entertainment purposes.
"Jii-chan, I'm home!" Yuugi's voice rang out through the Kame Game Shop; he never used the front door of the house, he always came in through the shop, greeting his grandfather first.
"Yuugi, there you are," was the elderly man's standard reply, and he moved away from behind the counter to take a good look at his grandson. "How was school today?"
While Yuugi was answering, merely droning on about the uneventful and boring classes, Mutou Suguroku cringed inwardly hearing his flat, toneless voice, seeing a dull, almost blank look in his eyes, and noting the air of disinterest and general unhappiness. Ever since Yuugi had returned from Egypt, he had slowly fallen into this state of… blandness, so to speak. It wasn't like he was depressed, but he certainly was less cheerful and positive as usual- and he knew what was bothering his grandson. Yuugi was mourning—mourning the loss of his best friend, the one he had shared body, mind and soul with, on a level that couldn't be surpassed; a level of intimacy that only those who literally share a body can reach. Being the vessel for a nameless Pharaoh, living through adventures in search for his name and lost memories, and in the end defeating him in a Ceremonial Battle to release his soul, had finally taken his toll on him. Yuugi never did want to win, but he knew he had to; Atemu –as that was the Pharaoh's name- had to return to the Afterlife, finding and receiving eternal rest.
"There's tea and biscuits, if you like some," he encouraged Yuugi. "Why don't you come help me out in the shop once you've finished your homework?"
"Sure, jii-chan," Yuugi nodded, knowing that he was being offered a distraction. He had been doing nothing but distracting himself lately; working in the shop, doing massive amounts of homework (even more than the teachers gave to their students), helping his mother with household chores, and hanging out with his friends. He wasn't really sure what he'd been without his friends; they listened to him, tried to support him, and almost always managed to cheer him up- if only temporarily. Loyal, goofy Jounouchi-kun with his heart of gold and a strong will that rivaled Atemu's. Beautiful, faithful Anzu-chan with her warm compassion and unlimited patience. Honda-kun, Otogi-kun, Rebecca-chan… the list was almost endless, and he was glad and grateful for having so many good friends, people who cared about him, asking him how he was doing, offering distraction after everything that had happened. Yuugi smiled faintly, berating himself mentally for feeling so down. He had no right to feel down, with all these people caring for him… but there was only one, one only, who he wanted to see again, receive an e-mail or a text message from, hear his voice on the phone, or go to the movies with. Atemu was gone, and it had felt nothing short like an arm being ripped off, or a soul being torn in two.
His mother wasn't in the kitchen, even though she clearly had been only seconds before to put the boiling hot tea and the large dish of biscuits on the table. Picking up his mug and some of the sugary treats, Yuugi immediately went to his room, plopping down his large backpack and sitting down behind the desk, realizing he still moved his chair that much backwards to leave room as if the Sennen Puzzle was still resting on his chest, dangling from its usual chain. The next second, his hand went to his chest, pressing his fingers against the fabric of his shirt. The Puzzle was gone as well- destroyed, buried? He didn't know; after the Gate had closed behind Atemu, the Afterlife welcoming him as a long lost son, the Ceremonial Tablet holding all the Sennen Items had collapsed and broken into pieces, together with the rest of the tomb- everyone had run for their lives to get out on time. Yuugi heaved a sigh and pulled out his schedule out of his backpack, checking on what homework he should start with first. It was only then that he noticed the date; tomorrow it would be February the 14th… Valentine's Day. A faint smile tugged at his lips. A day for lovers, secret admirers and more-than-good friends to give each other presents or roses, anonymously or not. He never cared for Valentine's Day much, simply enjoying his friends' antics about this special day, but for some reason this year's February the 14th seemed even emptier than the days before.
Taking up his pencil, ignoring the date on the schedule and focusing on the homework instead, he couldn't help but feeling sad about the upcoming day; it would've been nice if he was in a relationship to share the day with, but on the other hand… it was just one day of the year, and why should only one specific day be the right occasion to give a gift to the one you loved? Oh yeah, the secret admirer part… Yuugi shook his head and started on his math homework, the equations and sums complicated enough to drown out his thoughts about Valentine's day. Atemu had only known the very basics of math and had always been silent when Yuugi was doing his homework; sometimes, when a subject touched something about Ancient Egypt he often commented about it, but in general he left Yuugi to work alone, not wanting to break his concentration. Still, even if he was silent, he was there. Simply there, as a presence, a comforting presence, only a heartbeat away. Warm, consoling, encouraging, strong… maybe loving, if they had ever sit down to talk about it. Atemu had been convinced that Yuugi had a crush on Anzu, which he did have for quite some time, but his affection was slowly turning into love for someone else. A love he could never have, a love that was about to die from the moment it started, a love that would never share a Valentine's day… and the Pharaoh, despite his eye for the obvious, had failed to notice the change, and sweet words of love had never spilled from his lips. It didn't take long for the tears to fall, and Yuugi continued his homework as if he wasn't crying, avoiding the blots on the paper as he was writing.
The rest of the day went past him, even though it was quite busy at the shop and he got engaged into a conversation with a top duelist who wanted to hear his opinion about a new strategy, and before Yuugi knew it, it was dinnertime.
"You look tired, Yuugi-kun," his mother commented as she passed him the rice. She had never really understood a thing about the Sennen Items, the other entities, the danger the world had been in –twice-, she just thought that her son was a little too occupied with games, instead of focusing on his schoolwork.
"I think I'm going to bed early, kaa-san," Yuugi admitted- he was feeling tired, and just wanted this day over and done with, nevermind that he wasn't really looking forward for the day of tomorrow. His grandfather took one look at his plate and shook his head.
"You don't eat as much as you used to," he scolded Yuugi, albeit gently. "If there's anything wrong, we can help you…"
"Nothing is wrong, jii-chan," Yuugi hurried to answer, showing him a smile. Unless you can bring someone back from the dead, you can't help me… To satisfy his grandfather, he added another scoop of rice to his plate, knowing it would cost him every ounce of strength to eat it—he wasn't that hungry, that much was true.
His bedroom was cold; he'd forgotten to close the window. Leaning on his desk, Yuugi reached forward and closed it, shivering from the cold. Wishing he hadn't forced himself to eat everything, he started undressing himself, preparing for bed. He was feeling miserable, blaming it on the food, and as he was slipping under the covers, trying to find a comfortable position to sleep, irritation and frustration were added to his misery. Was every day going to be like this? He knew his grandfather was keeping an extra watchful eye on him. He was aware of his friends being careful around him, also watching him- but he couldn't help these feelings, couldn't help but sink away in this nothingness, the emptiness of having lost someone who mattered more to him than the world. Maybe time would heal all wounds… if he lived for more than a century, and even then it was doubtful he had learned to live with it. All those times he told his friends to carry on, to lean on him, to have faith… the same words failed to encourage him, only made him see how lost he felt. I thought I had grown, that I had matured… but how could I, when I wasn't strong to begin with? Tossing and turning, he finally rolled on his side, clutching at the covers, willing himself to sleep. After all, the math teacher could always decide to surprise his students with a pop quiz, as the man was prone to do… he had to buy some chocolate for Anzu-chan… he was drifting off, feeling more comfortable and warm… much more warmer. A soft, dark yellow light was caressing his skin –he vaguely wondered if he had left the light on-, it almost looked like sunlight, felt warm like sunlight… and he certainly didn't imagine the warm hand on his shoulder.
"Aibou," Yuugi heard the voice, his body immediately locking up in shock. "Aibou, open your eyes."
"Nnn…" It couldn't be. What a cruel dream! What kind of tricks was his mind playing on him? He tried to bury himself deeper into the covers, stubbornly ignoring the voice.
"Aibou…" A hand caressed his cheek. Fingers slowly, reverently, touched his skin, exploring. It was real, so very real… Yuugi started to open his eyes, gasping when he felt weight on the bed, weight next to him; someone was sitting next to him. He couldn't hold it much longer and he bolted upright, eyes wide and opened his mouth- to be frozen the next second. Impossible!
"You do not look very well, aibou… I can feel your sadness."
"Mou… mou hitori no boku… how?"
He was beautiful- no, scratch that, he was gorgeous. The golden jewelry brought out his tan skin and his vibrant, crimson red eyes, looking at him with a slight hint of curiosity, masked by the overall confidence and a little arrogance- just as Yuugi knew he was and always had been… whatever had changed, his other self hadn't and a strange feeling of relief washed over him. Atemu sat on the bed next to him, his hand still resting on his cheek, back straight, calm and composed, the regality of his position as Pharaoh oozing off of him. Yuugi felt pain and happiness at the same time, not being able to speak more words and he gaped at the other like a fish.
He moved his hand from Yuugi's cheek to his forehead and to his hair, long fingers brushing the strands of hair. "How is not important… 'what' is more important. I feel your pain, aibou… and I have come here to help you, just as you have always helped me."
"A-are you going to stay?" Yuugi asked breathlessly, his heart pounding in his chest. The gentle touches send shivers through his body and he refrained from biting his lip; this was heaven and hell at the same time.
Atemu smiled at him, tilting his head a little, his fingers trailing over Yuugi's ear. "Aibou, I am already staying with you." He brought up his other hand, placing it on Yuugi's chest, on the heart area. Yuugi blushed immediately, eliciting a chuckle from Atemu, before he continued, his voice low and soothing. "Remember what Jounouchi-kun said to me when I was about to leave, aibou. No matter who I was- mou hitori no Yuugi, the nameless Pharaoh, Atemu- I would always be his friend, I would always be in his heart no matter where I went to. He would always carry me around in his heart, in his mind—as that is what friends do, aibou."
"Just fr-friends?" He hated himself for it, but tears were forming in his eyes and he couldn't do anything to stop him. This wasn't what he wanted to hear; he wanted to hear sweet promises of love, of being together for eternity, of never ever letting go… his hand found its way to his chest and placed itself over Atemu's.
"Aibou, I know what you wish me to say," he softly said, scooting a little closer, his other hand carefully lifting up Yuugi's chin. "Yes, I love you. I always have and I always will. You are with me, always and forever, in my heart, in my mind. I…"
"Take me with you!" Yuugi cried out, suddenly lunging forward and wrapping his arms around Atemu. He was solid- no more a spirit, and Yuugi felt the other's warmth soaking into him and he gasped again, tightening his grip. "Take me with you, please!"
The silence said it all and he continued to cry, trying to suppress the sobbing, to no avail. Atemu had returned the hug, patting him on the back, rocking him gently.
"I cannot, aibou, and you know it. You know I love you, and you know I cannot be with you. I am not of this world, I never was. You will always be with me…"
"That doesn't help me! It's not fair! I want to be with you!"
"I am with you, aibou… or are you telling me that you have already forgotten about me?"
"No! But… but it's different! I want you beside me, in flesh and blood! I want to laugh with you and hold your hand and… and…"
"I know, aibou. I know."
Atemu loosened his grip on Yuugi a little, pulling away to look him in the eyes. "Aibou… Mutou Yuugi… there is so much left for you in this world. People are caring about you, you have a wonderful circle of friends. You are strong, you are talented, and you are beautiful. Everyone sees it but you… I am a ghost of the past, an entity not belonging to this world. Do not forget about me, aibou… as long as I am in your heart, I will be with you… forever and always."
"I love you, mou hitori no boku," Yuugi whispered.
"I love you too, aibou." Atemu looked at him, a soft smile curling his lips.
"I'd do anything for one night together with you again," Yuugi said, voice nothing but a whisper, filled with need and longing.
"Then tonight will be our night together," the Pharaoh nodded in return, leaning into him and capturing his lips, startling Yuugi with his sudden move, but he welcomed it, parting his lips and burying his fingers in the thick purple cape, tugging at it.
He didn't know how much time had passed, nor did he care. His body felt tired, exhausted even, but reveled in love and attention, his skin glowing, every nerve and muscle relaxed as never before. Yuugi opened his eyes, smiling at the one beside him, the one that looked so much like him and was yet so very different. It didn't matter to him that Atemu had taken every initiative to kiss him, touch him, stroke him, and make love to him. It was all that he could ask for and even more; love and warmth surrounding him, a moment he never wanted to end. His hair was touched again and his smile grew wider; Atemu had been continuously touching him, never breaking contact. A chill ran through him, nevertheless; Yuugi knew what was coming.
"Never forget me, aibou," Atemu said, placing an almost chaste kiss on the cheek. "As long as you remember me, I will be with you forever."
"How could I ever forget?" Yuugi answered, bitterness audible in his voice. "You're going to leave me…"
"I know… mou hitori no boku… will I ever see you again?"
"Close your eyes and you will see me," Atemu kissed him again on the cheek. "Rest now, my beautiful aibou. Remember me as I will always remember you, and we will always be together. Go to sleep…"
"I… I don't want to…" He wanted to scream, to yell, but he was too tired. Sleep was claiming him, too fast to his own liking, and he wanted to panic, to open his eyes and see Atemu for the last time… lips brushed against his for a last kiss, like a desert breeze filled with tears as a mirage, and the lips were gone and he could taste sand, sand and sandalwood and sun and darkness all at the very same moment.
"Yuugi-kun! Time for school!" The banging on his door woke him up and Yuugi startled, eyes flying open- to see no one lying beside him.
"No," his voice hitched, "no… don't leave me… No!"
The door went open and his mother peeked inside. "Yuugi-kun? Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, kaa-san," Yuugi answered curtly and cringed. He certainly didn't want to snub his own mother, but the disappointment of waking up alone was too much at the moment. Maybe it had all been a dream… a wonderful dream, but a dream nonetheless. He should've known… Yuugi sighed and moved to get out of bed and suddenly groaned. Dream or no dream, his body remembered the physical affection of the previous night, sending sparks and delicate shivers through his system, and Yuugi almost forgot to breathe.
"Are you sure you're all right?" His mother looked at him quizzically; eyes focused on her son, searching for anything, the smallest sign, of discomfort. "Yuugi-kun…"
"No no, I'm fine, kaa-san," he quickly said, showing her one of his largest smiles. "I'll get up now, it's time for school!"
She nodded, closing the door behind her, temporarily satisfied. Yuugi shook his head a little, mentally trying to cheer himself up, to gather strength to live through another day and he looked at his alarm clock on the nightstand. There was a rose lying on it, a rose as crimson red as the eyes of the former nameless Pharaoh. Reaching for it, Yuugi picked up the rose and examined it in amazement. It had a divine scent, as if he could smell the desert, the sun, the sea, exotic fruit and Atemu all in one. He knew his scent, and this flower would remind him as long as it would live.
Suddenly, a true, genuine smile graced his face. He hadn't received the words he had hoped for, but he had received words of hope. Words of hope and faith, and everything that Atemu had said, had been true- as long as he was remembered, he was never forgotten. Yuugi jumped out of bed, the rose still in his hand, the thorns not harming his flesh. Hope and confidence were flowing through his body, a newfound energy coursing through his veins. Gathering his homework and putting it in his bag, jumping around to find his clothes to dress himself, Yuugi suddenly realized that it was February the 14th…. Valentine's Day. The day for lovers and secret admirers. He'd had one night together… but one night together to rest a lifetime.
The rose wouldn't need any water. It wouldn't need any care but being placed in a long, small vase on Yuugi's desk, so he could smell it whenever he was busy with his homework. It would not die, not wither, and not wilt. It traveled with him to the outskirts of the world, when he was leading archeological digs himself, when he was demonstrating Duel Monsters or participating in a tournament. It would accompany him on his travels when he promoted his book about a nameless Pharaoh who re-discovered his name thanks to a small boy, who found strength and confidence through him in return. Finally, it would stand in a long, small vase on his desk again, when he was writing his essays on Ancient Egypt and its studies, already renowned for his knowledge and skills on the subject. It would smell like the desert, the sun, the sea, exotic fruit and Pharaoh Atemu, having found his eternal rest as he deserved. It would accompany Mutou Yuugi on his last travel, being the single flower to go with him, but his friends knew how much it meant to him. When it was his time, Yuugi would be reunited with his Pharaoh, who gave him a rose for Valentine's Day, the day for lovers and secret admirers.