Can you believe it? Something new from me. And so far it's even harmless, no lemon (or I wouldn't have posted it here on FFnet. I prefer Adultffnet since some time now because it allows lemon). It could happen that I will add a lemon later, but in that case you have to look on my ID at Adultffnet anyway since I won't post it here.
This little story was my entry for the Valentine's Day Challenge on Pharaoh's Hikari and to my utter surprise it even made the first place. I hope you will enjoy!
Title: Five Years
Author: Usagi romance, fluff
Pairings: Atemu + Yuugi
Criticism: Constructive criticism welcomed
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, I don't make money from fanfiction.
Description: Ever since Atemu left for the afterworld, Yuugi has been getting a gift from a secret admirer every year on Valentine's Day. And now after five years has the time come for Yuugi to find out the truth behind the gifts.
Thanks to my betareader Maelyn and SF for the very quick work.
A young man in his twenties looked up from his paperwork when the door to his office was thrown open. Grinning from ear to ear, his most treasured friend, Katsuya Jonouchi, strode into the room, closing the door behind him just as forcefully as he had opened it.
"Wonderful Valentine's Day, isn't it?" he all but chirped. The young man behind his desk raised an eyebrow at his friend's behavior.
"Jonouchi-kun, don't you have work to do instead of bugging your boyfriend's employees?" he asked, his face torn between amusement and annoyance. "It's difficult for me to imagine Seto sending you to keep me from working."
Jonouchi just grinned wider, if possible, and waved his hand carelessly.
"Bah, I will make it up to him tonight, so don't worry."
"I bet you will," Yuugi mumbled under his breath. "You're the only one that can get away with stuff like this anyway."
He shook his head, not able to deny the amusement he felt about the proclamation. Then he turned his face back to the blond, whose features had now changed from a grin to shameless curiosity. Oh, Yuugi knew all too well why his best friend had come today.
"Okay, enough with the joking around. Spill. Did you get something?"
"I knew it," Yuugi sighed but smiled nonetheless. "Yes, I got something again, Jonouchi-kun."
He opened a drawer in his desk and retrieved a small, long package. It looked quite noble with its black wrapping and the beautiful, glowing red bow.
"It arrived with the intern mail just before you raided my office," he told his friend, putting the item on the table carefully. "I am still trying to recover from the shock of finding it within my mail from work. I mean, this means this person knows where I work."
Jonouchi just shrugged, not really too concerned.
"So? It's not that difficult to find out anyway, really. I mean, who in the world has not heard of 'Mutou Yuugi' the world's greatest duelist ever? And I guess a lot of people are aware of you working for the infamous Kaiba Seto."
He grinned when Yuugi started to blush.
"I am not the 'world's greatest duelist' as you put it," he muttered. "I just have luck."
Jonouchi snorted but dismissed the subject immediately.
"Now, instead of talking about being famous, let's come back to your little admirer here." He waved at the black package. "Come on, open it!"
Yuugi shook his head again, not able to withhold his amusement. One could think it was Jonouchi who had the secret admirer, not him. But with his own curiosity rising, the young man now untied the red bow carefully and lifted the lid.
Inside was one single, blood-red rose, in full bloom and beautiful to look at. Some of the leaves were attached with small stones which looked just like raindrops. And under the rose laid one sheet of paper addressed to Yuugi.
Jonouchi let out a small, impressed whistle. It was just like every other year. And Yuugi was sure if he showed the small water droplets to a jeweler, he would again be told that the stones were real diamonds, just like Seto Kaiba suspected when he had seen the first present Yuugi got years ago. When the truth of that came out, Yuugi was barely able to keep himself from fainting in shock.
Staring at the beautiful gift in front of him, the young man of 21 reflected back to the time when this had all started.
It had been five years since the fateful duel in the old ruins of Kura Eruna between Yuugi and the spirit of pharaoh Atemu. Five years since he won and was forced to say good-bye to the person he treasured most. That fateful day, unknown to everyone, even Atemu, Yuugi felt a part of his heart leave with the pharaoh. After that day, Yuugi lost a little bit of his carefree nature, of his laughter, of his joy in life.
He still lived, loved, had fun and played games, continued with school, and met with his friends to hang out. He loved his family and friends dearly; they did a lot of fun activities, and he joined as many gaming tournaments as possible.
But he was not able to put his whole heart into the things he did anymore. And sometimes, when night fell, he could be found sitting at the windowsill, watching the stars and crying silently for his loss. No, he couldn't stop thinking of Atemu and he couldn't stop mourning his loss. Not at all.
And it was just the way it was supposed to be. Even if it hurt, sometimes a lot, Yuugi still wouldn't have it any other way. His greatest fear was that he would forget. Forget the time they spent together, their bond, their friendship, and his love for the other. And he didn't want to forget. The hurt was proof that he hadn't forgotten yet.
Yuugi also didn't look out for new love. He knew if he held to his love for Atemu it would mean that he would stay without love for the rest of his life. But he had decided. Should he unexpectedly fall in love again, so be it, but he would not search for it.
Since he hadn't been that popular with people anyway, he couldn't imagine that someone would be interested in him. Thus, time passed and soon it was February. Valentine's Day arrived, leaving the whole school in uproar and excitement.
That was the day when everything started. Yuugi had just come home from school, more than thankful that he finally got away from that place. Watching a lot of the female students running around and giving small little presents to the objects of their affections was causing his heart to sting more painfully than usual.
Of course, he understood that his classmates were the right age for romance. But he didn't exactly enjoy the fact that he was forced to be around happy couples. It had not been that long ago since his Atemu had left, so watching others being happily in love left him feeling empty and alone.
That day after school he just wanted to flee to his room and not come out again till morning. But the moment he stepped through the door into the house, his jii-chan was there with a small package in his hands. The item was addressed to him, but there was no return address, or any other hint about who sent it.
He was too tired to care, so he just took the package with him to his room and unpacked it on the bed. That was the first black box with red ribbon he'd gotten. Inside was a beautiful, red rose and a small paper, sadly without a signature.
The next day he showed the package to his friends. Everyone was excited about Yuugi's sudden secret admirer. They speculated and discussed the whole day about who could have sent their friend such a beautiful Valentine's present.
But in the end, no one had an answer. Yuugi, when he found out about the package's contents, hoped for a second it could have been from Atemu. But he got rid of that idea immediately. Even if the pharaoh returned his feelings, no force in the world would have been able to send him a gift from the world of the dead.
Yuugi had seen a lot of magic since the time he met Atemu. But if there was one thing he had learned it was the fact that the underworld had no contact with the living. Thus, as much as he wished otherwise, the gift could not have been from Atemu.
But even though he and his friends tried hard to find out who sent the package, they were not able to. They even asked Seto for help. That was how Yuugi found out the decorations were real diamonds, when he showed Seto the gift. But even the intelligent CEO, with his hacking skills and connections, was not able to trace the package back to its owner. Giving up, Yuugi gave the package a place on his shelf to show that he appreciated the efforts the sender put into it.
One year went by and another Valentine's Day approached. Yuugi's friends had already forgotten about the mysterious present but he himself was always aware of it. Still it turned out a surprise when another package appeared in the mail. And just like the year before there was no hint of the sender. It was again a plain, black package with a single red rose, decorated with diamond dew drops and a small piece of paper without a signature.
For the next two years, every Valentine's Day, Yuugi got a package from his secret admirer. It was one of the few things that never seemed to change, no matter what else happened. And there were a lot of changes.
The first important change happened in their last year in school. Seto Kaiba, with a lot of nagging from his younger brother, had already been trying to be more social to Yuugi and his friends. But that year, the small hints of friendship got a whole new meaning when it came to Katsuya Jonouchi.
Without realizing it, the two young men fell in love. It came with finding out more about the other, seeing more than just the surface they were used to seeing. It turned out that they had more in common than they could have imagined and the silent understanding the two reached formed a deep bond which slowly turned into an even deeper, caring love.
Seto and Katsuya got together on their graduation day. Jonouchi even started a job education program at Kaiba Corporation. That way both men had a chance to spend a lot of time together, and it also offered the young blond the chance to earn his money because everyone knew, even though Seto would have willingly offered Jonouchi a home and money, he never would have accepted it. He was proud, and he didn't want to depend on anyone but himself.
The next change came for Yuugi himself. After he left school, he had planned to start working full time at his jii-chan's game shop. But his jii-chan unexpectedly became seriously ill. Yuugi, even though he knew a lot of what to do at the game shop, lacked the skills and knowledge to take over the business all alone until his jii-chan regained his health.
It seemed as if they had to give up the game shop, because without business they would not be able to cover all the bills which came with running a business. Yuugi didn't even dare to talk about this problem with his friends. They weren't supposed to worry.
But in the end, when everything became too much, he at last told Jonouchi. This turned out to be a good decision, because the blond immediately informed his boyfriend. The next day Yuugi was shocked and surprised when Seto visited him with an offer to become a member of Kaiba Corporation.
Yuugi's gaming skills were, after all, unique, and Seto needed someone exactly like him. He offered a salary high enough that would cover every bill concerning the game shop. Yuugi's jii-chan had enough time to recover without fearing the loss of the shop. For this, Yuugi was always grateful.
The next change in Yuugi's life was not so fortunate. Anzu, his friend since childhood, left to fulfill her dreams in the USA. Everyone, even the Kaiba brothers, went to the airport to say goodbye and wish her luck.
To Yuugi's grief, the parting of his longest friend reawakened the memories of Atemu's departure with full force. Even though he had never forgotten, he had been able to remember with a little more peace in his heart about his loss. But that day, the pain was as great as it had been on the very first day.
It took months for the young man to recover from his heartbreak again. And how he was able to keep his grieving from his friends was something Yuugi never understood himself.
Yuugi stayed in contact with Anzu, exchanging e-mails and letters regularly. She seemed to enjoy her time in the foreign land. And she hinted that her dancing career was going well, too.
The loss of Anzu was the last big event that took place in Yuugi's life within those five years. He and the rest of his friends started to settle into their new lifestyles. They slowly got to know the world of work and business and the students of the past finally grew into young, hardworking adults.
However, sometimes when a new tournament for Duel Monsters took place, the teenagers of the past showed up again. Forgetting about work and the usual worries of adults, the friends got together with old friends and rivals and made new friends and new rivals. Of course, one fact always remained: in the end, there was one champion announced - Yuugi Mutou.
And all the time, no matter what happened, on Valentine's Day the undefeated King of Games would find a package in his mail. A package revealing a small black box, wrapped in a red ribbon and containing a single red rose and a little paper.
Yuugi was brought back from remembering his past when Jonouchi suddenly poked him in the side. He looked up, a little embarrassed at getting caught off guard.
"Sorry, Jonouchi-kun, I fear I spaced out."
The blond just grinned.
"I wouldn't have noticed," he teased playfully before becoming serious again. "So, since the package didn't arrive at your home like the last four years, did you find a hint of who your secret admirer is this time?"
Yuugi shook his head in regret.
"This time the package didn't come by mail, I guess," he sighed. "See, my address isn't even written down. The box was already unpacked. I guess by now my admirer thinks I am able to recognize his little gift without an address for confirmation."
He shook his head, a little saddened.
"I feel a little sorry for him," he admitted. "I mean, he is investing a lot of money into these gifts and I won't even be able to feel for him the way he seems to wish for."
Those words caused the blond young man to sigh as he took a seat on one of the chairs in Yuugi's office.
"Because your heart is still with the dead, huh?"
In the course of time, Jonouchi had been the only one Yuugi had told his little secret to. The blond was the only one who knew where Yuugi's heart laid. When his small-built friend confessed to him, he understood very well. He tried everything to help Yuugi get over his loss, but after more than four years of trying, both knew that Yuugi seemed to be fated to live with his love for a dead man till his own death.
Of course, this didn't prevent Jonouchi from hoping with all his heart that, in the end, Yuugi would find a fulfilling love. Someone who cared about his best friend deeply. Maybe someone like this secret admirer Yuugi had.
The young man watched as the slightly smaller one opened the little piece of paper that always came with the rose. Reading it, Yuugi's eyes widened in surprise. Now, this was new. Not only did his Valentine's gift arrive with his business mail today at his office, but the sentence written down was different as well.
For four years Yuugi had always received the same single sentence.
'I am looking forward to meeting you face to face again.'
The only thing that changed about this sentence was the way of writing. The first time, it was typed out. But already the second time, it was handwritten. Not really beautiful though. It was spidery and reminded Yuugi of a child's first attempts to write its own name.
It changed again the third year, becoming more elegant and easy to read, even beautiful. The handwriting was far better than he could claim of his own. From third to fourth year, the writing didn't change again. It was the same sentence, in elegant, beautiful handwriting.
And now, it was not the handwriting which had changed, but the content. Still only a single sentence, it read:
'I am happy to be able to see you again.'
Slightly puzzled, Yuugi showed the paper to his friend, but Jonouchi was as clueless as him. The slightly smaller young man decided that he would think about this at home where he had more peace. Knowing he wouldn't come to any conclusions right now anyway, he was about to tell the blonde his decision when, suddenly, the door opened and Seto Kaiba stepped into the room.
The blue eyed CEO didn't seem the slightest bit surprised to find Yuugi in the company of his boyfriend. He raised an eyebrow, spotted the open Valentine's Day gift on Yuugi's desk and rolled his eyes slightly. Jonouchi, noticing the conclusions his lover made, grinned a little embarrassed.
"Well, now that you have kept my most capable employee from his morning work, you may as well take your break. There is no use for you two to try and start working these last five minutes. But after the break both of you will return to your work instead of fooling around. I am not paying you to hold a private tea party."
Both men, already used to Seto's sometimes still gruff attitude, just nodded and decided to get a small meal at one of the fast food restaurants. On the way they talked about anything and everything that didn't include Yuugi's secret admirer. Jonouchi knew that after Seto's sudden entrance the topic was now closed. His smaller-built friend always needed some time alone to muse over the gift; that he knew from past experience.
Thus, instead of talking about Valentine's Day, he decided to approach something he had wanted to ask Yuugi anyway. "Did you read the paper this morning?"
The more delicately built young man, who had just finished paying for his lunch, took his food and shook his head in answer. "I was a little late today, so I had no time to take a look at it," he explained. "Why? Did something happen?"
"Well," Jonouchi started, taking a bite from his burger and chewing thoughtfully for a moment. "You remember that article they wrote some years ago, about the man who woke up from a coma?"
"You mean the man who had been in a coma all his life? Yes, I vaguely remember reading about it. The doctors still don't know what kind of illness he had when he was born, do they? They had to feed him through machines. It was said to be a miracle that he lived through all those years. But what's so important about that? I mean, I know this happened in Egypt and, yes, I am interested in that country but you know I am more interested in its past, not its present."
"Sure I know that, Yuugi. But do you know who partly paid the medical bills?"
"There were sponsors?" Yuugi asked, surprised. Jonouchi nodded.
"Yes, that man's parents had always fought for his life but they died unexpectedly in an accident and the doctors were thinking about just ending it because keeping a human alive costs a lot of money. But then a sponsor offered to pay the bills to keep the man alive. And now the man woke up."
"And who's the sponsor?" Yuugi asked, knowing full well that this was the topic Jonouchi wanted to discuss.
"Well, guess what, it's the Ishtar family! What do you say now?"
Yuugi nearly choked on his Coke.
That evening, Yuugi, for the first time since he started working for Kaiba Corporation, was unable to concentrate on his work. Too much was going through his head.
For one, there was his secret admirer. The black box with the rose still sat on his desk, reminding him every second that for five years now he didn't know who had taken such a liking in him that he would send diamonds and roses on the day of lovers.
Also, there was the last message. Yuugi felt like he was missing something there. This time the message seemed to hold more weight to it than it had the last years.
And third, there was the Ishtar family and their mysterious sponsorship for a comatose young man. Jonouchi had told Yuugi that ever since the man had woken up, every reporter in the world was dying to meet him. But, so far, the Ishtars had always made sure the identity of the man was not known by the outside world.
Just for fun, Jonouchi suggested they contact Isis and ask her for details. "Imagine the money we would be able to earn from our inside knowledge."
Yuugi remembered the blonde man joking, but Seto, who had been listening to his lover's fooling around, just hit Jonouchi's head in pretended annoyance.
"Get real, Jou!" he chided fondly. "You want to profit off the fact that you happen to be a friend of the Ishtars?"
Yuugi still couldn't help but grin when he remembered the face Jonouchi made because of Seto's action. Sighing, he threw his pencil down and decided to call it a day. It was just no use trying to work; his heart was not in it. And without his heart he was not able to come up with new gaming ideas anyway.
The young man considered whether he dared to inform Seto of his desire to leave early or if he should just sit out his time and then leave. But his musings were interrupted when the door opened and the young woman from the reception stormed in. It was obvious that she was not only deeply troubled but had run the whole way to his office because she had to take in some deep breaths before she was able to address him at all.
"Mu... Mutou-san there... there is someone waiting... for... for you. Down there... yeah at the entrance. Uhm..." She gesticulated a little helplessly to the ground. Yuugi, who had his office on one of the top floors, guessed that she meant for him to go down to the lobby to greet whoever was waiting for him.
Covering his own confusion with a smile, he nodded.
"I'll be down in a moment, Mika-san," he assured. "I was planning to finish for today anyway."
Mika nodded quickly and then left to do whatever she had been planning to do now. Still a little confused over the young woman's behavior, Yuugi organized some last papers on his desk and straightened the business suit he was forced to wear in the building even though he had never really been fond of it. The last thing he did was carefully pick up his newest Valentine's Day gift before spinning around to finally leave.
To his surprise, when he entered the floor, Jonouchi was already waiting for him. The blonde smiled quickly before looking utterly confused. "Do you know why I have to accompany you to the lobby?" he asked while entering the elevator with his best friend. Yuugi only shook his head.
"I don't have the slightest idea. Mika-san was quite strange though, don't you think? I don't know what the problem is with me meeting someone in the lobby. It's not as if I haven't had meetings in the lobby before now, is it?"
Jonouchi chuckled while pushing the button which would get them downstairs.
"Maybe this is not about business," the blond suggested, mischief already glowing in his eyes. "Maybe this is your secret admirer asking for your hand in marriage."
He snickered when Yuugi started to blush in embarrassment. A snort was all Yuugi thought that joke was worthy of.
"Sometimes, Jonouchi-kun, I question your age," he finally announced just before the door opened with a loud noise, revealing one of the most unusual sights they had ever witnessed in the lobby of Kaiba Corporation.
"Isis-san! Malik-kun! Rishido-kun! Minna-san!" Yuugi blinked in astonishment, taking in the whole group of people he knew so very well. There was the whole Ishtar family. Ishtar Isis, who hadn't changed one bit from the beautiful woman he met back during Battle City. She smiled just as kindly as she always had at Yuugi. Then there was Ishtar Malik, grinning
Over the last few years he had grown into a fine young man. His anger and grudge from the past was long gone, old wounds closed and fully healed. Left was a life-loving, intelligent man with a well-built body. His tan was as dark as ever and his hair still blond, though maybe a little longer than it had been in the past.
Beside the young Egyptian, heir of the Ishtar family, stood Ishtar Rishido, Malik's adopted older brother. Like Isis, the young man hadn't changed one bit. He smiled warmly at Yuugi, one arm wrapped around his younger 'brother's' shoulder to hold the excited young man at bay. Though Yuugi always suspected that there might be a little more to the 'brotherly' gestures the two often exchanged than what met the eye.
Next to the Ishtar family stood the rest of Yuugi's friends: Honda Hiroto, Jonouchi's oldest friend, and Otogi Ryuuji an excellent gambler, just like Seto, Katsuya and Yuugi. Next to the tall, dark haired man's side was Bakura Ryou, who, despite the years, had never lost his calm and shy nature. Like Yuugi, the white haired man had been one of the few Sennen Item holder which was posessed by an ancient spirit.
Seto and Mokuba were there as well, the first looking surprisingly calm about the sudden gathering in his lobby and, for a second, Yuugi even suspected that the young CEO was smiling slightly at him. But he was not sure if he should believe that or call it his imagination. Mokuba, on the other hand, was obviously grinning from ear to ear.
Absolutely confused, Yuugi glanced at Jonouchi, who didn't seem to know how to take the whole situation himself. The blonde was blinking and, suddenly, he poked his small friend in the side with his elbow. "Yuugi!"
The young man looked up again and gasped. He had been so caught up with seeing all his friends so suddenly gathered in the lobby of his work place, that he hadn't noticed what should have been unavoidable.
Standing in the middle of the room was a lone figure, not that tall, but also not too small. Yuugi could make out dark tanned hands and tight blue jeans which showed off the slightly muscular legs. What else this person wore Yuugi couldn't tell because the upper body and face were all covered by what must be hundreds of red roses.
The person held a huge bouquet of the same beautiful flowers he had gotten every year on Valentine's Day. And in the dim light, he was even able to make out the slight glitter of diamond dew drops on the leaves.
The red roses and dew drops made it unmistakably clear who the person in front of Yugi must be. The young man swallowed slightly and, with sudden shyness, glanced at his side to where Jonouchi stood, still gaping.
"Maybe you weren't so wrong after all," Yuugi stuttered, referring to the joke the blond had made when they were in the elevator. Glancing back to the figure, he watched the person slowly walk closer until he stood two feet away from the young king of games.
Jonouchi, who saw Seto beckoning him over, silently left his place at his best friend's side, whole-heartedly trusting his lover's judgment.
For a moment there was silence. It was Yuugi who cleared his suddenly dry throat, breaking the silence.
"Uhm, I guess you are the one who's been sending me all those Valentine's presents these past five years, aren't you?" he stuttered quietly though never waiting for an answer. "I... well I really appreciate your work, you know, this must have cost you a fortune. I mean, the roses, the diamonds, gods I still can't believe someone would be crazy enough to do something like this. Especially for me."
His words were all spoken quite quickly, never really pausing, never giving the other a chance to respond to anything he said.
"I mean... you know, even though I appreciate your gifts, gods they are beautiful, but... I can't really accept them. I am very sorry, please believe me. But it's just not possible for me to accept a Valentine's gift from anyone. That's just the way it is."
He bowed formally before the other, his eyes closed in embarrassment. "Please accept my sincere apology for not being able to accept your Valentine's gift, whoever you are!"
And looking at the ground he waited with a loud, pounding heart for how the stranger would react. Though he could imagine a lot of different reactions, he never expected that the next words he heard would bring his whole world falling down.
"Not even from me, aibou?"
Yuugi's eyes tore open and he let out a loud gasp. That voice! That kind, warm, loving... no it couldn't be! Looking up he watched with wide, shocked eyes as the bouquet of flowers slowly turned aside until he was looking directly in the loving, smiling face of Atemu.
The young man's hand covered his mouth in shock and tears flowed out of his eyes so suddenly he did not even have time to realize it.
"Oh Gods!" he sobbed. "Mou hitori... Atemu is that really you? I'm not dreaming, am I?"
The smile of the young Egyptian man never faltered.
"No, aibou, you are not dreaming. I am all real and alive, believe me."
Another sob escaped Yuugi's lips and, then with a loud cry, he flung himself into the former pharaoh's arms. Yuugi's actions caused the young man to lose his hold on the roses and they fell soundlessly to the ground. But neither of the young men cared.
Yuugi had his arms tightly wrapped around the other's neck and was sobbing uncontrollably by now. Atemu himself cried silently in his aibou's arms, showing to everyone who watched how much he had missed the younger one.
Finally, after what seemed like ages, the two young men dried their tears and broke apart, though Yuugi never took his arms away from their place around Atemu's neck. Looking into the older one's eyes he sobbed, whispering a single question.
"Yeah, that's something I would like to know as well," Jonouchi, who was now walking straight to the reunited young men, agreed. He limited his joy at seeing the other again to clapping him quite hard on the back.
"Man, we missed you, Atemu!"
"Easy, Jonouchi-kun, easy," the former pharaoh managed to cough out and smiled at the blond. "You haven't changed much since I last saw you. None of you have." He suddenly smirked. "Well, beside the fact I never thought there would come the day when I would see either of you in a business suit."
He eyed Yuugi first, who was wearing a business suit with combination of black and white and blushed when his choice of clothes was mentioned. Jonouchi, however, who was wearing a dark blue business suit, just grinned.
"Yuugi never got comfortable with the idea of wearing a suit but rules are rules here, and Seto can be quite stubborn when it comes to his firm."
Seto, who had taken his place beside his boyfriend now, just nodded, smirking. Atemu raised an eyebrow, looking Yuugi over again.
"Well, even though those business suits might not be as interesting to look at as a good leather trouser and plain black t-shirt would be, I still think you look hot in your working clothes, aibou," he announced with a smirk and a wink. Jonouchi started to laugh, while Seto's lips curled up into another smirk, and Yuugi thought his glowing cheeks were steaming by now.
The former pharaoh's smirk changed to a loving smile when he watched Yuugi. He stroked the younger one's cheek slightly before releasing himself from the other's embrace to bend down and pick up the forgotten flowers.
With a small smile, he held the roses out to Yuugi.
"I guess these are for you, aibou!"
Yuugi looked first into Atemu's smiling face before glancing back to the flowers. With shaking hands, he took the offered bouquet.
"Gods Atemu, this must have cost you a fortune," he whispered in awe. But the Egyptian waved his hand carelessly.
"Nah, don't worry about the money, aibou. You have no idea how much gold the tomb keepers have been watching all this time. It was supposed to stay with them until I fulfilled my destiny, then be buried forever when they created a symbolic final resting place for my soul. But since I am alive again they decided that I, as the rightful owner, should take it with me."
"Yeah about that," Jonouchi now interrupted, finally remembering that they still did not know how Atemu had come to life again. Nodding, Atemu gestured to the sitting area of the lobby where most of Yuugi's friends were already seated and waiting. Most of them had known how much it would mean to Yuugi to see his pharaoh again and, thus, they decided to leave them with their privacy.
Seto, Jonouchi, Yuugi and Atemu now made their way over to them, taking their own seats, though Atemu was daring enough to just grab Yuugi's hand and pull the surprised young man down right onto his lap. The others seemed to be more amused by this show than anything else, and Yugi adjusted to the new situation quickly. With a happy sigh he pressed himself against the former pharaoh's chest, which caused the other to break out into a surprised smile.
"Now, about how I came back to life," he started, leaning his chin comfortably on Yuugi's shoulder. "Well you all read about the miracle of Egypt? The man who had woken up from a coma he had been in since his birth?"
Realization dawned on most faces and Atemu grinned.
"Right, that was me. Or better yet, it was my body. Let's just say, and I know you don't like the meaning of it, Seto, it was destiny."
The CEO snorted loudly but Atemu didn't really care and continued telling his story.
"As you all know, I've been a spirit living inside a puzzle for 3000 years. When my body was born, my soul was still trapped inside the Sennen Puzzle. Without a soul, however, the body can't live. Thus the baby, my body, stayed unconscious, soulless.
"Now, after my last fight against Yuugi, I was supposed to leave for the afterworld. I have to admit I left quite heartbroken because I was forced to leave something behind in the world of the living which meant everything to me."
He paused for a second to look Yuugi directly in the face. The man on his lap opened his mouth in surprise and his eyes widened. But before Yuugi could utter a word, Atemu decided to continue.
"The gods, it seemed, had foreseen this problem from the beginning. Imagine my surprise when I entered the world of the dead and they told me that my soul would return to the world of the living and enter the body which had been waiting for my soul for 21 years now. Though I guess I can thank Isis for the fact that I had a body left at all."
The young Egyptian woman smiled at this declaration and bowed her head slightly.
"While you guys were busy helping Atemu regain his memories, Malik and I returned to Egypt to prepare everything for the last battle," she continued. "During the time of preparation, I had a dream of a young teen in the hospital who was in a coma. The doctors had just decided to let the young one die because the costs of keeping him alive were too great. The vision immediately reminded me of the well-known story of a boy being in a coma since his birth. I realized then that it must be Atemu's body, and even though I had no real idea what it was supposed to mean, I knew I had to save that man."
"So, Isis went to the hospital and declared her sponsorship to keep my body alive," Atemu now took over again. "And soon after we said goodbye in Kura Eruna I woke up in the hospital. I think I gave quite a lot of those nurses and doctors a heart attack."
The former pharaoh grinned before becoming serious again.
"It took me these last five years to recover. Believe me when I say that, especially the first year, was hell. Even though this time I remembered everything, I had to relearn how to speak, to eat, to write and to walk. In the first year, my body was so unstable that I couldn't even sit upright for more than a minute. And it hasn't even been a year since I was finally able to take my first steps."
"Wow, that doesn't sound like fun at all," Jonouchi admitted, feeling honestly sorry for his friend.
"But he managed well," Malik told them with an amused grin. "The first word his highness was able to get out of his mouth was 'laptop'. Quite an ingenious idea if you ask me, because his mind was fully intact and working furiously. And even if he was not able to speak coherently for a long time, he was able to communicate with the help of a keyboard."
He started to snicker when he added.
"The doctors were absolutely shocked to find out that their patient, who had just woken up for the first time since he was born, was able to use a laptop and write sentences which made sense. Now they all think Atemu is a natural genius."
Said man just groaned. It seemed Malik's words had triggered some not-so-fond memories of his time in the hospital. Trying to ignore the teasing of the other young Egyptian, he turned his attention to the man on his lap, who was stroking the Egyptian's leg with his free hand to show he felt with him. The simple gesture indeed coaxed a smile to the former pharaoh's
Isis, who had already watched their silent and still a little unsure display of affection for some time now, stood up and looked over the group.
"Well, I guess we've covered the most important parts of your curiosity now, haven't we?" she asked smiling. "I would suggest that, for today, we leave things right here because I have a feeling some people need time to talk about some things in private."
Most of Yuugi's friends were quick enough to understand the hint, making Yuugi suddenly realize he had apparently shown more signs of his secret feelings for the former Egyptian pharaoh than he had thought. It was obvious from their behavior that all of his friends seemed to know of his love. It also explained very well why everyone had been grinning like idiots, knowing that he would meet Atemu again any second.
Standing up from his living chair, he turned to all of his friends and bowed low.
"Thanks, you all are the best the best friends a guy could wish for!" he declared, a happy smile decorating his glowing face. Atemu followed his example, bowing slightly and thanking everyone for their support, friendship and understanding. All the two got in return were friendly, understanding smiles.
Hours later, Yuugi and Atemu had both settled down in the living room of Atemu's small apartment. It turned out that the former pharaoh had been able to buy a place of his own only two houses away from the game shop. And since both young men felt that there was still much to talk about, they had stopped by Yuugi's place to get the usual things he needed to stay overnight at someone else's place and to inform his family that he wouldn't return home until the next day. Yuugi had even gotten the day off from Seto, his silent declaration that they should take all time they needed to clear up what had been left unsaid.
First, Atemu had shown Yuugi his place. The furniture had a clear touch of the old days of Egypt and the decorations, which Atemu explained were mostly the remains from his time as a pharaoh, more than supported the feeling of ancient times. But there were still some modern hints in the decoration as well. An old looking desk with a computer on top were one of those hints.
Atemu also had a CD player, a phone and a fully furnished kitchen with every single electronic object which made living comfortable nowadays. Yuugi had fallen in love with the kind-of-romantic but still modern apartment immediately.
Now the two men had settled down on a comfortable couch, half-emptied drinks sitting on the table. Yuugi had his head in Atemu's lap while the former pharaoh leaned against the cushions, lazily stroking his fingers through the other's thick hair.
"There is one thing I don't understand, though," Yuugi suddenly disturbed the comfortable silence which had settled between them. "If you were alive five years ago, why didn't you contact me immediately?"
Atemu sighed and closed his eyes. For a second he stopped stroking the other's hair to gather the best words to explain. Finally continuing his work on Yuugi's hair he opened his eyes again, looking down at the younger man.
"Because we were not sure if I would survive, aibou," he admitted quietly. "I knew you missed me and I also knew that meeting again would make you happy. But if I had to leave again I would have caused you to become sad for a second time. That was something I didn't want you to go through."
Yuugi didn't reply immediately. Instead, he struggled to change his current position. He turned around and pulled himself a little higher until they were lying chest to chest, face to face. Both men were the same height by now, just as it had been at their last duel and Yuugi liked it that way.
Done with repositioning himself, he looked the former pharaoh straight in the eyes.
"But why would you not have survived?" he asked softly. "Didn't the gods themselves allow you to live again?"
"Sure they did," Atemu confirmed, "but all they could do was send my soul to the body. They had no control over a body which hadn't been used for 16 years. It was uncertain if my soul would adjust after having left the body alone for so long. For the doctors it was simply my immune system they had no control over. Hell, I had so many breakdowns I had already given up counting in the first week."
He sighed and watched Yuugi rub his cheek against his throat. The younger was deeply touched by what he had just learned.
"The fight of soul and body took four difficult years before it finally became clear that I would be able to recover. At the beginning I swore to myself that I would not inform you of my presence as long as it was not clear if I would survive. And believe me, aibou, when I say that it was hell for me."
He grasped Yuugi's head with his hands carefully and bent forward to kiss the younger man's forehead lovingly.
"I have feelings for you, aibou," the former pharaoh admitted softly. "I always have, and because I was not with you I feared you would fall in love with someone before I was even able to try and win your heart for myself. That fear followed me into my dreams until I told Isis about my worries."
He smiled a little when he remembered. "She came up with the idea of sending you an anonymous Valentine's Day present. I thought it over and came up with the rose and the paper. I didn't want to write down my undying love for you; I think the flower was able to
formulate that quite well. But I wanted to make sure you knew I was out there and wanted to meet you. That I was looking forward to meeting you."
"You wanted me to wait and look out for you," Yuugi concluded and Atemu nodded, grinning proudly.
"That's right. Thus, for four years I prepared you a rose and a piece paper. And as you may have realized, the first year I was still so weak, I was not able to hold a pencil in my hands. I had to type and print it. The next year I had just started to try and learn writing and reading, and I was able to write with my own hand that time."
He blushed a little when he remembered his first attempts at writing.
"I guess I am kind of embarrassed by now that you had to endure that ugly handwriting in you second gift."
But Yuugi just smiled and shook his head.
"It's not embarrassing. And I am proud of you, Atemu," he declared using the moment to return the affectionate kiss from earlier, now to the former pharaoh's forehead.
Atemu gave Yuugi a wide, thankful smile before he continued with his story.
"In third and fourth year I perfected my handwriting. And it was with the start of my fifth year at the hospital that the doctors declared I was finally out of danger and that I should start to use my body outside of bed. My first thought then was to contact you, but then Isis told me about how you had reacted when receiving the latest Valentine's Day gift. She said that you seemed to be determined not to fall in love with anyone anyway and suggested that I try to get my strength back and surprise you on the fifth Valentine's Day. And, well, here I am."
Atemu smiled, suddenly a little shy, something Yuugi thought was very unusual behavior for the former pharaoh. Suddenly very touched and feeling very emotional, the younger man pressed himself against the other body and pressed his head into the crock of Atemu's neck.
He stayed in this position for a moment, taking deep, calming breaths.
"Atemu, do you know why I wasn't searching for a lover?" he finally mumbled against the older one's neck. Atemu shivered when he felt lips and breath touching his skin. It took a moment for him to find his voice and inform Yuugi that he had no idea.
The younger man smiled, his face still hidden in the soft neck of the elder.
"I didn't search for a lover because I thought my heart was already gone to the underworld, together with the one who had unknowingly been holding it in his hands the whole time."
Yuugi finally looked up, fresh tears now pouring down his face.
"I love you, Atemu! I always have!"
The answer of the former pharaoh was a loud sob followed by his own tears, a final release of all the tension he had felt for four years when he still had no idea what would become of Yuugi and him. But now, it seemed, after all the wars, the fights, the madness he had come across, finally it seemed the gods had granted him the happiness he craved and needed.
"I love you, too, aibou!" he whispered. "With all my heart and soul!"
Shaking lips came closer until they finally met in a first, long craved for kiss. Both men had their eyes closed now, tears still running down their cheeks. But they didn't care. All that mattered was the feel of a finally fulfilled longing.
Lips moved against each other and it didn't take them long to deepen the kiss. Tongues met for the very first time, touching shyly, carefully. Breathing became harder and hands pressed with a sudden fire of want against the other's back, bodies abruptly craving closer contact.
With a final, lingering kiss, Atemu pulled away from the other when he started to realize what kind of direction their actions were inevitably going to.
"Aibou, do you think it's wise to continue this?" he asked unsure. "We've been without a relationship and intimate contact for as long as we lived. And now everything is threatening to happen within one night. Just kissing is already setting my body on fire. If we go on right now there is no way it will not end with you and me naked, one taking, one being taken."
To his surprised Yuugi started to grin widely.
"That was my idea for the progress of this night, Atemu," he admitted. "And I have no second thoughts about taking this step."
His grin softened to an honest smile.
"I've been in love with you for more than six years and I never thought I would ever be able to have sex with you in life. The fact that we are sitting here, free to do just that right now is like all my dreams come true at once. I don't want to back out. We like each other; we've been friends for a long time. Hell, we've loved each other nearly as long as we've been friends. And there is trust in our relationship, is there not? So, even though we admitted our love just minutes ago, why should we not go all way? Personally I see no problem with this, if you don't."
For a second, Atemu was so surprised by Yuugi's speech that all he could do was stare. "And here I though you hadn't changed at all," he finally voiced. "Never in my life had I thought you would one day talk so freely with me about sex."
This caused Yuugi to satisfy the former pharaoh with a slight blush.
"But it's still the truth," he mumbled and smiled at the other. "I have your heart. I can finally have you all. And it's Valentine's Day, the day of lovers, isn't it?"
Yuugi's smiled turned into a grin when Atemu's eyes lit up in agreement and realization. With a sudden move he hadn't seen coming, the younger man found himself pressed to the ground, the former pharaoh now on top of him.
"Well, aibou," Atemu declared grinning, "then let's make this a Valentine's Day we'll never forget!"