A/N: Well that was… fast. Honestly I had most of this written already, but some of it I had to finagle because it was geared towards the original plot of the story. And the last bit is completely new. Please enjoy.
Beneath the Surface
Yami awoke feeling wonderfully warm and comfortable. He was vaguely aware that the warmth was coming from the soft form pressed against him. Opening his eyes, Yami blushed slightly as he saw that he and Yugi were thoroughly entangled in each other under the blankets. It wasn't a bad feeling, though…
Although he wanted to stay there with Yugi, Yami's growling stomach forced him out of bed and in search of food. The bag of packaged foods from the gas station was sitting on the floor just outside the bedroom, where Yami had dropped it. Yami emptied it out onto the table; a loaf of anpan, three packages of Pretz, three packages of Pocky, several more of dried meat snacks, some rice crackers and all the crispy seaweed chips the store had had (Yami figured Yugi would like them). Yami grimaced; he had no idea how long they would have to hide, and this wasn't going to last them more than a few days.
Yami looked around the small house; there was only one bedroom, the living room had a sofa, a threadbare carpet and some rather nasty-looking wallpaper, and Yami was quite sure that the stove and refrigerator in the kitchen were older than he was. The paint was peeling everywhere and the lights occasionally flickered ominously. Otogi had been right; the place was rather crappy.
Yami jumped when he heard a loud thump and he quickly went to the bedroom. Yugi was on the floor just a few feet away from the bed and was trying to sit up. Yami kneeled down next to him.
"Good morning," Yugi signed with a grin. Yami couldn't help but smile despite his exasperation.
"Good morning," he replied. "Are you all right?"
"Yes, but I don't think my legs work yet." Yami laughed.
"You just need practice."
Yami picked Yugi up and carried him into the kitchen, setting him down in a chair. Yugi gazed curiously at the unpacked food that was scattered across the table. He picked up one of the colorful packages of Pretz, which happened to be pizza flavored, and tried one of the crunchy sticks. Apparently not opposed to the flavor, Yugi finished the stick and moved on to the seaweed chips. Yami had been right; Yugi's eyes lit up as he recognized the taste and he quickly devoured the contents of the package. Yami smiled as he opened a package of the meat snacks. Yugi was just so darn cute.
As soon as he finished eating, Yami stood to gather the rest of the packages and store them in one of the very dated cabinets. When he turned around, he was alarmed to see that Yugi was trying to stand up again. He quickly stepped over to Yugi's side of the table, but stopped himself as he saw that Yugi was doing all right. He had his hands on the table, supporting him as he stood. Yugi seemed to have the strength, he just needed to develop his balance, Yami thought to himself. Then, very slowly, Yugi drew his hands away from the table and stood up straight. Yami stayed close, ready to catch Yugi in case he fell.
Yugi let a smile creep onto his face as he continued to stay upright. Yami nearly relaxed, then his heart skipped as Yugi took a rather sudden, staggering step. He quickly lost his balance, but Yami caught him and held him up. Yugi carefully righted himself, giving Yami a rather embarrassed smile.
Yami held Yugi's hands as he cautiously took one tentative step after another around the kitchen. He vaguely reminded Yami of the many toddlers that had come through the orphanage that had learned how to walk with the caretakers holding their hands and urging them on.
Becoming more confident, Yugi took his steps a bit faster, now that the motion of putting one foot in front of the other was more familiar. Yami, walking backwards, led Yugi out of the kitchen and into the living room. As they passed in front of the couch, Yugi slowed and withdrew his hands from Yami's grip. He managed to take three steps before he faltered and fell against Yami's chest, flushed with embarrassment.
"I can't seem to keep my balance…" he signed unhappily. Yami stood holding Yugi for a moment, then abruptly threw himself and Yugi down onto the couch, eliciting an involuntary squeal from Yugi.
"Looks like I can't, either," Yami signed, and Yugi smiled. Yugi shifted position on the couch, then his eyes suddenly became very wide and he quickly sat up. Yami, alarmed, turned to follow Yugi's gaze. Out of the living room window, the sandy beach and frothy waves could be seen. Yami turned back to Yugi to see his eyes bright with excitement. He knew Yugi's question before he actually signed it.
"Can we go down to the sea?"
Yami pretended to think about it, then smiled and signed, "Of course."
It was a beautifully bright morning, the sun reflecting off the swirling waves and the damp sand as Yami approached with Yugi in his arms, his legs still too unsteady to carry himself over the uneven terrain. They had barely reached the sand when Yugi began squirming about, his excitement apparently uncontainable. Eventually Yugi couldn't stand it and he made a rather comical flying leap from Yami's arms, stumbled a few steps forward in the sand then sank to his knees in the soft waves.
Yami kicked off his own shoes and went to stand in the shallow water next to Yugi. One look at his face told Yami that Yugi probably wasn't aware that he was there; he was only aware of the ocean, its sound and feel and smell. This was the home that he had been torn away from, the home to which, hopefully, he would soon be returned.
It was the right thing, of course, for Yugi to go home. And yet… it made him sad.
Then, there was a rather sudden splash, and Yami abruptly found himself sitting in the water while the waves swept innocently around his waist. Yugi, having gotten Yami the rest of the way into the water, scrambled off towards deeper water before Yami could quite react.
Yami quickly tried to stand, struggling with the wet sand that his hands and feet were sucked into at his every movement. He was rather embarrassed that Yugi had caught him off balance, and was also slightly worried that Yugi had gone off into deeper water without really knowing how to operate his legs.
He really shouldn't have worried, though.
Yugi dove beneath the surface, carefully remembering to hold his breath. Movement was so much easier underwater, so much more natural. He didn't have to worry about how to keep himself upright or how to put one leg in front of the other; he could just let his body bend to the movement of the waves and travel along with them.
After a while Yugi noticed an odd, uncomfortable tightness in his chest; it took him another moment to realize that he must be in need of air. Yugi effortlessly swam upward and broke the surface. He was rather surprised that the salty water stung his eyes and was rather annoyed that he was so out of breath from that short swim. It was amazing that humans could get around in the water at all; they obviously weren't meant to.
Yugi could see Yami still standing near the beach, his clothes sopping wet. Wondering why Yami hadn't joined him in the deeper water, Yugi swam back until the shallow water forced him into a sort of crawl, as he wasn't going to attempt to walk. He grinned sheepishly up at Yami, who didn't appear angry, but also wasn't quite pleased.
Yami, meanwhile, sighed at Yugi's grin; he couldn't be mad at him. Yami opened his mouth to say something as he took a step forward, but what he was about to say would never be known as his foot, still quite stuck in the wet sand, refused to budge and sent him flailing into the seawater for the second time in the past ten minutes. He sat up calmly and dared to take a sidelong glance at Yugi. The boy had his hand over his mouth, obviously trying not to laugh. Yami sighed again and signed, "Go ahead."
A muffled giggle quickly turned into a full on laugh. Yami's embarrassment was forgotten as he realized that this was the first time he had heard Yugi laugh, and he idly wondered how he had ever gotten by before without ever having heard such a sound. The heart-quickening, melting feeling from earlier that morning returned, and Yami didn't bother to push it away.
Neither of them noticed a sudden surge of surf until it was nearly on top of them. Yami groaned inwardly; he was never going to get dry at this rate. As the water slid back down the sand, Yami looked over at Yugi to see a mess of seaweed stuck in the boy's hair. The sight triggered something in him and he began to laugh. Yugi looked at him in confusion. Without thinking, Yami said aloud, "I think you have something in your hair…"
Yugi tilted his head uncomprehendingly, and it took Yami a moment to realize that he had spoken aloud rather than signing. He repeated with his hands and Yugi fished the seaweed out of his hair, but the quietly curious look stayed on his face. Now that he could clearly hear human speech, it intrigued him. Once they had pulled themselves out of the water and were lying on the sand away from the waves, Yugi signed, "Can you show me how to talk like you do?"
Yami blinked. "I suppose so," he signed back. "We can start with my name again."
Yami slowly sounded out his own name for Yugi several times. "Now you try," he signed. Yugi slowly tried to make each sound.
"Y… aa… mmm…. eee…."
Yami smiled. "Good!" he signed. "Try again."
"Ya…mee…" Yugi said again. "Yami."
Yami nodded. "That's right!" he signed. Yugi smiled proudly, then stuck out one of his legs and pointed to it. "What about this?" he signed. Yami spent the rest of the morning teaching Yugi how to say many of the words that Yugi already knew in sign language. However, Yugi had a great deal of difficulty pronouncing the consonants "t" and "p". They always came out as a "d" or a "b" sound. Eventually Yami managed to figure out from Yugi that these sounds, though regularly used in human speech, were nonexistent in Yugi's native language.
After a while Yugi's stomach grumbled; he looked down at it crossly. "You're hungry," Yami said aloud. Yugi looked up curiously.
"Hun…ry?" Yami just chuckled and picked Yugi up. It was time to go see if the showers in that house were working or not.
He woke with a start, the remnants of a dream of home still lingering in his consciousness, which only made his spirits sink deeper as he was reminded of where he really was. There was only darkness outside, which increased the oppressive feeling of the walls that surrounded him. He looked down; the other was still asleep, momentarily safe in the sanctuary of his dreams.
A strange grinding sound filled the space. At first it had scared him, but now he hardly noticed it. Some greenish pellets floated down through the water to the floor where he and the other lay. Their meager meal was hard to eat, never managed to fill them up and tasted terrible.
White locks of hair rippled the water as he turned; the other was waking up. Soft lavender eyes stared up into his green ones, and after a moment they saddened as the other also realized that he was imprisoned rather than in the home of his dreams. The other stretched his gold-green tail as much as he could, which was not much in the tiny space; neither of them could stretch out completely and any movement beyond simply turning around was impossible. He found the urge to exercise his own white tail but quickly dismissed it; the urge would not be met.
The other surveyed the pellets with obvious distaste; Malik liked the strange food about as much as Ryou did. But, day after day after day in the prison had taught them both that they weren't going to get anything else.
"Have you seen them yet?" Malik asked. Ryou shook his head, attempting to suppress his gag reflex as he swallowed. He knew exactly who Malik was referring to: their captors, their tormentors, had not been present for several days. Not that Ryou was complaining about it; if they were going to be imprisoned, he would prefer that they were alone and bored out of their minds rather than terrorized and tortured by those cruel humans.
The only thing that had happened recently was that a few strange men had put a large… something in the room outside their tank. Neither of them had been able to tell what it was. Another way for their captors to torment them? Ryou wouldn't be surprised. He was jarred out of his thoughts as Malik spoke again.
"I believe I was winning?" he said with a grin. Ryou smiled; this would be much more intolerable if he was by himself and didn't have someone else to play word games with. For just a little while they could pretend that all their other troubles didn't exist.
A/N: When writing fanfiction for a story originally based in Japan, I'm rather uncomfortable writing about food; I don't want to put in a bunch of American brand names, but how do I know what they eat in Japan? Believe it or not, I did research for a fanfic. For those of you not wanting to google it: anpan is a type of Japanese bread with a bean paste filling, Pretz are kind of like Pocky except savory and pretzel-like, and apparently dried meat snacks are also rather popular. A friend of mine got some seaweed chips from Japan; they were teriyaki flavored and quite yummy. I assume most of you know what Pocky is; a lot of places in the US sell it anymore. Another note: I'm using "Malik" and "Mariku" to distinguish between hikari and yami, in case anyone was confused. Click the review button, not the back button. Yes, you.