It's been a while, hasn't it?

Sorry this update is late. School has been a nightmare!

I'd like to say thanks to these fabulous people:

Angel's Charm, Darkyami7, Amethyst Grey, spiritfire, Atemu Yugi Lover34, unseenwater, DaakuKitsune, dragonlady222, Kyo lover with little sanity, Yana5

Thanks for reviewing guys! I hope you're still with this story!

-I-

Shin no Duelist

Stage VI: Safe?

-I-

Yugi froze in fear at the sight of the Blue Eyes Toon Dragons charging towards him, their sharp claws all too ready to tear into his flesh. If it wasn't for Atemu grabbing him around the waist and dragging him out of the way, the two dragons would have dug their claws into his chest and would have easily pulled his flesh away from his bones.

Yugi gave a groan of pain as he and Atemu landed hard on the ground. Their skin felt hot being exposed to the roaring fire and was slowly beginning to burn.

Atemu rubbed his head and sat up quickly. He looked back at the dragons and saw them preparing for another attack.

"Aibou!" he cried. "Aibou, I have to transform!"

He gently shook his master's shoulders, but soon saw that his attempts were in vain. Yugi's wide gaze was fixed on the burning house in front of him, and nothing else. He looked on in fear, oblivious to the world around him.

"Aibou!" Atemu tried again, shaking Yugi a little harder. Still, it did not work. "Aibou, please! I cannot transform without you. I need to transform so I can protect you! Please aib-"

Suddenly, the Pharaoh heard a roar. He turned around and saw the two Toon Dragons standing in front of the burning house. They both opened their mouths simultaneously, allowing a glowing blue ball of energy to form in their mouths.

Without hesitating, Atemu grabbed Yugi again and pulled him out of the way as one of the attacks was launched. It narrowly missed them both, crashing into the trees behind them and snapping them in half easily.

Again, Atemu let out a groan of pain as they landed on the ground, but Yugi was too entranced to notice. Before either of them could recover, the second attack was launched, landing on the ground beside them. The force of the blast threw the pair into the air. They screamed as they seemed to fly a great distance before gravity pulled them back down to the ground. They landed painfully on the hard surface.

Atemu yelled out in pain, his right arm coming up to cover the top of his left arm as he attempted to climb onto his knees. The bone felt broken. He could taste blood in his mouth from a head wound. He tried desperately to stand up on his feet, but stumbled as he felt dizzy and sick.

"Ai…bou…" he tried desperately to call as he stood up. He clenched his teeth tight to stop himself screaming in pain. "…Aibou…" He tried to listen for an answer over the roar of the fire, but none came. "Aibou!" He looked around at the scene of destruction around him. "AIBOU!"

He managed to spot Yugi lying unconscious on the ground some distance away from him. His left side had been burnt by the dragon's attack. The Millennium

Puzzle lay on the ground beside him, though it was still somehow still attached to the brown leather chord around his neck.

Still holding his injured arm, Atemu started to stagger over towards his partner. But he was stopped when fear gripped his body like a vice. One of the dragons was circling above Yugi's body, like a vulture waiting to feed.

The dragon folded his wings underneath him, and let himself fall to the ground, landing perfectly on his feet. With the second dragon now choosing to circle above him, he slowly approached Yugi, the drool already leaking out between his teeth.

"Aibou!" Atemu shouted, trying to reach his partner. "Aibou! Wake up! Please!"

But Yugi couldn't wake up. His body remained still on the ground, the Blue Eyes Toon Dragon moving ever closer to him.

"AIBOU!" Atemu screamed. He reached his right hand out in front of him, trying to reach Yugi.

Suddenly, his vision became blinded by pain as something painful erupted on his forehead. It pulsed through his veins. He could feel it flowing through his arms, until a golden beam of light suddenly burst from his palm. It collided with the Blue Eyes Toon Dragon, causing him to scream in pain as it was blinded in one eye. Screaming, the dragon unfolded his wings and quickly flew up in to the air, its paws covering its injured eye.

Atemu staggered, his body suddenly feeling weak. He looked at his right hand. There was no scar, nor any blood from the beam of light. He brought his hand up to his throbbing head, slipping it under his crown and gently touching his forehead. His eye-shaped scar felt hot under his finger tips.

"What…What was that?" He asked out loud.

But he didn't have time to find an answer. The two dragons above were not finished yet. And now, they were angry.

Atemu glanced up at the dark sky and saw the dragons were preparing to attack again. Still feeling weak, Atemu staggered over to the still unconscious Yugi. Stumbling more than once on the way, he managed to reach him, collapsing to his knees. With his uninjured hand, he shook Yugi's body in an attempt to wake him, careful not to cause more damage to his wounds. He felt something prickle in the corner of his eyes, his chest feeling heavy all of a sudden. But still he tried desperately to get Yugi to speak, move, anything to reassure him that he was alive. But Yugi just wouldn't wake up.

The dragons gave another blood curdling roar. Atemu looked up in fear to see the two dragons hurtling towards the ground at incredible speeds. Thinking of nothing else he could do, Atemu threw his body over Yugi's in an attempt to protect him. He clenched his eyes shut and waited for his painful death…

…But it never came.

CRASH

The sound of bone colliding with metal rang through Atemu's ears. His eyes bolted open. Small sparks were slowly falling to the ground around him. Confused, the Pharaoh slowly picked himself off of Yugi and looked up behind him. He gave a gasp of surprise.

A tall creature that resembled a wolf on its hind legs, with two heads placed on his shoulders, stood in front of Atemu and Yugi. His body was covered in metal armour, and on his right arm a large shield protecting both him and the pair on the ground. In his left, a weapon that Atemu could not name was waiting in its hands, a long chain attached to it trailing to the ground.

"What in the-"

"Atemu!"

Atemu jumped at the sound of his name. At first, thinking it was Yugi, he looked down at his partner, only to realise that he was still unconscious. Panicking, he looked around the area. 'How can someone know who I am?' Still looking around, all that he saw was the strange beast standing before him, battling with the two Blue Eyes Toon Dragons.

"Atemu!" The voice called again, only closer than it was before.

Hearing the sound of footsteps, Atemu jumped at the sight of a robed man suddenly standing before him. Although most of his body was cast in shadow, the light of the fire was enough to illuminate his face just enough for Atemu to recognise who he was.

"It's you!" Atemu exclaimed. "But how did you-"

"There is no time to explain!" the man said hastily. "We must get you two out of here as quickly as possible."

"But-"

"Do not worry," the man reassured, crouching beside Yugi. "You can trust me. Yugi does. And do not worry about the dragons. My partner will distract them long enough for us to escape and hide our tracks."

"Your…partner?" Atemu asked, confused. He quickly glanced at the creature before looking back again. "But how-"

"Quickly!" the man ordered, scooping his arm under Yugi as he began to pick him up.

Atemu was quick to help him, deciding to take Yugi in his arms and carry him.

Without looking back, he followed the man as he ran into the woods, leaving the burning farm behind.

-I-

"Yugi!"

Yugi jumped at the sound of his name. Frantically looking through the darkness around him, he saw a familiar figure standing some distance before him.

"R-Rebecca?" he gasped. He rubbed his eyes to make sure he wasn't seeing things. "I-Is that you?"

Rebecca giggled, her laugh echoing around them. "Of course it's me, silly! Who else would it be?"

"B-But I thought you were dead!"

Rebecca pouted. "Well that's not a very nice thing to say." She put a smile on her face. "Are you coming?"

Yugi gave a few confused blinks. "What?"

Rebecca giggled again. "You're acting weird today, Yugi." She looked up. "Isn't he, Grandpa?"

Yugi jumped back in surprise as three more figures suddenly seemed to appear out of the darkness, all standing besides Rebecca. "H-Hopskins! Silver Fang!" His gaze fell upon the final member of the group. His voice suddenly became quiet. "Grandpa…"

"Yugi, m'boy!" Yugi's grandpa cheered. "Are you coming on our trip or not?"

"It won't be as enjoyable without you," Arthur Hopskins said.

Silver Fang gave a bark in agreement.

Yugi couldn't believe his eyes. His family was alive. They were all alive! Indescribable joy filled his heart and soul. He wiped away a tear of happiness from his eye. "I'm coming!" He called back, before starting to jog towards his family.

But as Yugi took his steps towards them, he suddenly found that for some reason he couldn't reach them. For every step he took, it seemed that the others were taking two steps back. Worried, Yugi quickened his pace, thinking it would help him reach his family faster. Unfortunately, the opposite happened, and Yugi's family began to grow further and further apart, disappearing into the darkness.

"Wait!" Yugi cried, reaching forward. "Come back!"

"Yugi…" The voices of his family called, their bodies fading into the dark.

"Wait! Come back! Don't leave me! Please!"

But it was too late.

They were gone.

"NO--!"

Yugi bolted up off the ground, only to stop and scream as a piercing pain erupted down his left side. Still screaming, his hand came to cover his left side as he fell back down on his back again, his skin brushing against a soft fabric underneath him. He could feel the rough fabric of bandages wrapped around his torso as he continued to hold onto his injured side. He screwed up his eyes and clenched his teeth as he tried to fight the pain.

"Aibou!"

The familiar voice echoed through Yugi's ears, soothing his body and mind. With the pain slowly beginning to subside, Yugi managed to open his eyes, his amethyst gaze falling into deep crimson.

"Atemu…" Yugi said softly.

"Yes, aibou. It's me," Atemu answered. Pain and worry were etched into his face, spoiling his handsome features just as the bandage on his arm spoiled the beauty of his body. "Thank Ra you're all right! I was worried about you."

"Worried…about me?" It was then that the memories came flooding back like a tidal wave. Bolting up again, this time a little more carefully than before, Yugi looked deep into Atemu's eyes. "What about my family? What about Hopskins and Rebecca? Are they all right?"

To say that Atemu was surprised by the question was an understatement. Closing his widened eyes, he lowered his head.

"Th-They're all right, aren't they?" Yugi tried again. "They made it out the fire, didn't they?"

"I'm sorry, aibou," Atemu said solemnly, averting his gaze. "They…They didn't make it."

A cold chill ran down Yugi's spine. "You mean…they're dead?"

Atemu slowly nodded his head.

"No…" Yugi gasped. "No…That…That's not possible. That's just not possible!"

Atemu's head shot up in surprise. "Aibou-"

"They're not dead!" Yugi protested. "They're not! I saw them! I saw them alive with grandpa-"

"Aibou," Atemu interrupted gently. "You told me you're grandfather died a year ago. He can't possibly be alive."

"But I saw them! They were all alive!"

"It was a dream," Atemu said, trying to calm Yugi down.

"No! It can't be! It just can't!"

"What the Pharaoh speaks is true," a mysterious voice cut in.

The piercing voice was enough to knock Yugi back to his senses. He looked up at a familiar figure seated on a tree stump. "S-Shadi?"

Shadi did not look at Yugi. He gazed remained fixed ahead of him. "I'm afraid your family did not survive. They are dead."

Atemu couldn't help but finch at Shadi's words. His gazed lingered back towards Yugi. "I'm sorry…"

The now pale Yugi was silent, except for his heavy breathing to try and calm himself down. His hands tightly clutched the cloth that had been placed over him as a blanket. "They're dead…My family is dead…" Although he felt like crying, for some reason the tears refused to fall. "But…how did I survive?"

"It was Shadi," Atemu answered, trying to get Yugi to look at him. "He and his partner distracted the dragons and helped us escape."

Yugi looked up at Shadi. "Partner?"

Shadi, still averting his gaze from Yugi's, nodded slowly.

"Who's your partner?" Yugi asked warily.

"Him," Shadi answered nodding ahead of him.

Yugi blinked. Slowly, he twisted around, careful not to cause more damage to his injury, and looked at the creature that was hiding amongst the trees. Yugi could just make out its shape in the flickering light of the small fire in front of Shadi. He almost jumped back in fear.

"T-Two Headed J-Jackal Warrior?" He stuttered. "But…But how is that possible? They're just a myth!"

"He is possible," Shadi answered slowly, reaching into his robe, "because of these." He pulled out two golden items that shone brilliantly in the light.

'He's a Duelist!' Yugi felt his heart stop. "You have two Millennium Items?" Shadi nodded slowly. Something inside of Yugi started to boil. It was a sensation that Yugi had never felt before. "And you were going to tell me when?"

It was anger.

"I could not tell you what I know before, Yugi," Shadi replied calmly. "I would have placed you in too much danger."

And what I just went through wasn't dangerous enough?! I was just attacked by two dragons!"

"I am aware of that, and I see now that it is the right time to tell you of my true life, and the true life of your parents."

"My…My parents?" Yugi felt his heart hammering in his chest. "You know about my parents?"

"Indeed I do," Shadi answered, choosing now to gaze at Yugi. "Your parents and I were close friends when we worked for the King and helped to guard the Millennium Items."

"What!" Yugi exclaimed.

"Aibou, calm down," Atemu said, worried about his partner.

"You mean to tell me you knew everything about my parents and you never told me? Not only that, but now it's only now that I find out you're a Duelist?!"

"Aibou, please," Atemu said, seeing the anger in Yugi's eyes. "Be reasonable."

"How can I be reasonable, Atemu, when my closest friend has been keeping these secrets from me for my entire life?"

"He had his reasons," Atemu argued.

"'He had his reasons,' huh? Well I don't give a shit anymore!" He grabbed the Millennium Puzzle around his neck and forced it off. "I've had ENOUGH!" He threw the sacred item straight at Atemu.

The Pharaoh caught the item in his hands clumsily. "Aibou-"

"NO!" Yugi cried. "I am not you're "aibou" anymore! I am not a Duelist and I NEVER WILL BE!"

Throwing the cloth away from his body, Yugi stood up hastily. Being that his wound was still fresh and still needed to heal, as soon as he got to his feet he stumbled in pain.

"Aibou!" Atemu cried, rushing to his feet to help Yugi.

"Get away from me!" Yugi cried, pushing the Pharaoh away roughly. He was vaguely aware of the mystical creature stumbling behind him as he forced his own body to move hastily forward into the dark forest.

Atemu stood in shock as he watched Yugi disappear between the trees. He glanced down at the Millennium Puzzle in his hands.

"Aibou…"

Yugi couldn't do this. He shouldn't have been acting like this, not when he was badly injured - Atemu felt a pang of guilt grip his heart, knowing he could have protected Yugi better. He knew that Yugi was angry, but acting like this would only make things worse. 'I have to help him.' Pulling the puzzle's leather cord over his head and letting the sacred item hang around his neck, Atemu dashed forward after Yugi.

"Aibou!"

Yugi ignored the call, continuing to stumble forward. He forced the low branches out of his way, snapping them off if he had to before throwing the useless things to the ground. He tripped over rocks and roots hidden in the night's darkness, but found that he didn't care anymore. Nothing mattered anymore. Nothing.

Eventually, Yugi pushed his way through to a large clearing, where the forest ended at a cliff. Not caring about his pathetic life anymore, Yugi slowly approached the cliff. He stepped to the edge, a few pieces of dirt falling away as he stepped on them. He looked down at the distant trees and rocks at the bottom. They looked so small and insignificant from this height; Yugi soon found that he didn't feel afraid anymore. He just continued to stare downwards, the rocks and trees becoming ever more inviting…

"AIBOU!"

Yugi slowly glanced behind him. "Don't try and stop me, Atemu."

Atemu stood close to the trees, his heart pounding in his chest, and not from the run he had broken into to catch up with Yugi. He gulped as he saw Yugi standing so calmly on the cliff edge. "Aibou, please, you need not do this!"

Yugi looked back down at the rocks. "Why not?"

"Because you have so much to live for!"

Yugi threw his head back as he laughed loudly, his voice echoing below him. "I have nothing to live for. Not now! Not when my family is dead and my life has been a complete lie!"

"No, it hasn't!" Atemu protested. He took a hesitant step forward-

"Don't come any closer!" Yugi screamed, hearing the footstep.

Atemu stopped. "Aibou, your life wasn't untrue. Just because Shadi has hidden a few things from you doesn't mean that your entire life has been a complete lie-"

"How do you know?" Yugi argued. "He knows about my parents! I know nothing about who they were. I don't even though they're names! I was left with my grandpa when I was only a year old. I know nothing about my parents!"

"But at least you had a family," Atemu retaliated.

"I know nothing about who I am, only that I am a Pharaoh, a mystical creature that exits because of you and the Millennium Puzzle. I know nothing of the Millennium Items or how it is that I originate from them. I have no family, I only have you."

Yugi's hands clenched by his side. "So what? Maybe it's better like that. After all, you haven't got a best friend that's been lying to you for your entire life!"

"That may be, but that doesn't mean that your whole life was a lie! Why can't you see that? I know you've had hardships in your life, but everyone does. And they cannot ruin the memories of the happiness you experienced."

A silent pause filled the air.

"You speak of happiness, Atemu?" Yugi said quietly. "How can I remember, or even feel happiness, when the painful memories I have block out the happiness." He looked back down at the bottom of the cliff. "I don't want to…I don't want to be tortured like this anymore. I can't stand the pain, or the lies. I can't!" He lifted up his foot.

Atemu panicked. "Aibou, you don't need to do this!"

"Yes I do! I have nothing to live for anymore. I have no one!"

"WHAT ABOUT ME?!"

Yugi froze, his foot stopping in mid air. Another pause fell upon the pair, where the only sound that filled their ears was the sound of the cold wind blowing through their bodies.

Atemu felt his heart pounding in his chest. Knowing very well that this was his only chance, he carried on speaking. "Aibou, without you, I am nothing. I cannot exit in this world without you. If you die, I die too. But that is not the reason why I want you to live." He paused. "It was because of you that I was brought into this world, and I do not regret it one bit. Everyday has been an adventure for me, and I know that there is still more to discover. And I want to discover that with you."

Atemu paused, seeing if Yugi was listening to anything he was saying. He hadn't jumped off the cliff yet, so that was a good sign. But Atemu knew he was speaking nonsense. For some reason, he just couldn't say was he so desperately wanted to say.

Seeing that Yugi wasn't going to speak any time soon, Atemu took a deep breath and continued. "Aibou, I know you have been hurt. And I know you feel that your life was a lie, but it wasn't. You say you do not know anything about your parents, but Shadi is giving you the opportunity to finally find out what they were like. You are this close to finally discovering your origins, whereas I believe I will never discover all the secrets to my origin. Do you really want to throw all that away?"

Again, Atemu stopped for Yugi to speak. But again, Yugi did not utter a word.

"Aibou, you and I share a unique bond that no one can understand. I can sense in my heart that you don't want to do this. So don't. I want us to carrying on living together, sharing each other's lives and feelings, discovering new things together everyday. I don't want this to end, and I know that you feel the same way. So please," he took a step forward and outstretched his hand. "Please come back."

The tears were now slowly pouring out of Yugi's closed eyes, cascading down his rosy cheeks and falling down the cliff. Atemu's words struck him in the heart, touching his soul. His body shook with emotion and fear as slowly, he reached behind and gently touched Atemu's waiting hand.

"Help me," he whimpered, his legs unable to move.

With relief flooding over Atemu's body, he stepped forward and gently aided Yugi away from the edge of the cliff. Once they were at a safe distance, he wrapped his cloak around Yugi, holding onto his waist with his uninjured arm. It was then that Yugi finally broke down. All the sadness and anger that had built up inside suddenly burst free. Falling to his knees, and bringing Atemu down with him, Yugi sobbed hard, his cries echoing in the night.

But Atemu did not leave. He would not leave, not when Yugi needed him. Placing a gently arm on top of his head, the other remaining around Yugi's waist, he gently stroked Yugi's hair in an attempt to sooth him. He remembered when he was still young; Yugi had done the exact same thing once. The memory caused a smile to play on the Pharaoh's lips. Yugi had always been there to help him, and Atemu would always be there to help Yugi.

"Shh…" he soothed gently. "It's all right. Everything is going to be fine, aibou."

Yugi continued to cry, his sobs slowly dying down as Atemu continued to comfort him. He was so thankful to the Pharaoh, words could not being to describe how he felt. Maybe being a Duelist wasn't so bad after all. If he had never discovered the Millennium Puzzle, he would never have met Atemu.

But, then again, his family would not have been killed.

The minutes passed, and Yugi was soon able to calm down. His body felt drained as he continued to stay in Atemu's arms. He could hear his soothing heart beat in his chest.

Atemu looked down at the now quiet Yugi. "Do you wish to return to camp?" He felt Yugi nod his head. He smiled. "Very well." As gently as possible, Atemu aided Yugi to his feet. With his arm still holding onto his waist, they made their way back towards the camp.

-I-

Yeah, not a very good ending…

Anyway, sorry for the long wait. I hope you enjoyed this chapter!