I've always wondered about how X can stay so calm no matter what he's put through. He's only given up hope once, that being at the end of X8, and every other time he's managed to keep not only his spirits up, but those of his friends, too. That, and he's saved the world, what, nine times at least? And with the exception of a few pouting sessions (...okay, all of X7...), stayed a bright, light individual?

At which point Light translated to Hikari and ran straight into the "Yu-Gi-Oh!" marathon I'd been watching for going on six hours straight.

Also note I have no plot for this yet. What I have down now is nothing more than a string of loosely connected one-shots. When it's done, then... Yeah.

Please Read and Review! Feedback Welcome!

Disclaimer: Rockman X / Megaman X is set Pre-Command Mission but Post-X8 (which is going to make for an interesting Command Mission fic...maybe). Yu-Gi-Oh! is set after episode 224. I own neither. The following story is made only for fun -- that, and I've got mild writer's block on the Shooting Stars re-write.

Translation Notes are located at the bottom of the story.

Sennen Yami no Rockman X

Prologue: Questions Asked, Yet Never Answered

How did he do it?

Everyone wondered about it at one point or another. There were too many inconsistencies between what his abilities should have been, and what they were. It was a given fact that, if you traveled into the Lion's Den too many times, you were going to be bit. And yet, for all the times he had gone into the mouth of Hell itself, he had always managed to come out with nothing more than a few bruises and maybe, maybe half a limb short. Taking into account his Father, all his armored gifts, and one semi-suicidal sempai, and you had answered the riddle as to why he had managed to evade being killed after all those decades on the job.

But everything still did not add up. The overall question was still left unanswered.

He'd seen Hell itself. Looked the Devil in the eyes and told him point blank to go back. Faced more monsters in an hour than many men could claim to see in a lifetime. And had done it all again every time Sigma or one of his Virus-infected stooges decided to crawl back out from wherever it was scrap-heaps like them came from.

And every time he came back from war, he came back the same. His soul had gained a scar or two -- no man could live without gaining at least a few Black Marks as that was the nature of life -- but it was the lack of depth on those scars which were the strangest of all. Sure, they had hurt. That was why he was such an insistent pacifist pansy. But they had never gone deep enough to dim him. To dim his light. Which brought everyone back to the same question.

How the hell did he do it? How did X stay so... so light?

So... hikari...?

And why was it that every time Zero looked at him now, he got the feeling X was a lot older and a lot deadlier than he was normally?

Those few people Zero had asked about his friend and former student's attitude had waved him off, claiming he was overreacting to X being stressed. After a few days of subtly observing him from afar, Zero was forced to agree. X had just been under a lot of stress lately. Putting down the Seventh and Eight Rebellions had taken a lot more out of him than usual.

So if he just kept telling himself that there was nothing wrong with X, then the nasty feeling festering in his gut would eventually leave him alone. ...Right?

Shadows swam lovingly over decaying stone tablets, weaving their way closer to their ultimate prize. Ghost like creatures moved in time with those strange shadows, floating or crawling, or both, towards what appeared to be a human-shaped beacon of light. They had a good chance this time, they knew. No one save their burning prize and themselves were in the Corridor now.

One ghostly hand was no further than an inch away from taking hold of its goal when he noticed.

Blood red eyes pierced through shadows within a heartbeat. Despite the distance between the handful of ghostly monsters and the almost insane-looking eyes, it was obvious that the creatures were terrified.

A voice purred through shadows like freshly melted chocolate tipped with pure ice.

"I've told you before. He's mine."

The creatures shuddered, before shattering like glass.

Footsteps echoed in their wake, echoing in time as the eyes seemed to bounce forward. Shadows parted before them like loyal servants welcoming their king.

The human-shaped being of light winced as consciousness returned. Slowly, as more and more of it awoke, it winced, lifting its -- no, his -- head off of unforgiving stone. It was with a tremendous effort that he managed to get his hands under him. He paused for a moment in an attempt to catch his racing breath and calm his agitated heart. With one great heave, he pushed, attempting to get himself to his feet.

A soft hand, firm yet gentle in its hold, grabbed a hold of him as what felt like the last of his strength left. He looked up, trying to see who this strange aid was.

"Who... Who are you...?"

Eyes that looked like glowing blood framed with pure white spikes of hair seemed to gentle as they looked him over.

"Hum. You're lucky, yadonushi. A few seconds later, and you would have met... Ryou-kun..." the strange, chocolate ice-like voice dipped into what sounded almost akin to despair. As quickly as it had saddened, it returned to its "normal" range. "Ah, but as it is, I'd say you managed to survive the Shadow Realm quite nicely. Far better than that now eyeless bastard thought you would, anyway."

The strange glow surrounding him began to dim ever so slightly as strong, ancient arms wrapped around him, supporting his weight and bringing him to his feet. A strange black cloak, the ends of which were frayed and dipped in -- was that blood...? -- wrapped its way around him, pushing him closer to exposed well-toned flesh.

"That didn't..." he winced as he wrestled to his feet. Even with the support of this stranger, standing, much less moving, was a painful process. "That didn't answer my question..."

"Ma, my yadonushi, you need to go on a diet! You weigh a ton!" the stranger moaned theatrically.

This time as he took a step forward, he managed to get a good look at his strange patron.

His skin was well tanned as though he had lived a lifetime in the desert. A strange scar ran down his right check starting from directly under his eye, looking like some kind of perverted bloody tear. Pure white hair framed his features in spiked locks, giving him the impression of having horns. All of which was entrapped within the face of a fourteen year old boy.

"My little yadonushi," the strange fourteen year old look-alike smirked almost sadly, for once looking him eye to eye, "You should not ask questions you do not want an answer to."

After barely a moment to register what the stranger had said, his mystery patron yanked him back to his feet. "Now, come, my little yadonushi. No mortal can survive his first trek through the Shadow Realm, even with help, without needing at least a month to recover."

"But... But I...!" The stranger reached over, putting two fingers gently over his lips, effectively silencing him.

"I know you have questions, little X-kun. For now, though, trust in me. Trust in you Touzoku."

With those words, whispered in a conspirator's loving tone, X felt his conscious slip away once more. The so called King of Thieves released a minor "Omph!" under his breath as X's full dead weight leaned against in him in one solid blow.

"I supposed I underestimated your exhaustion, then, X-kun," Touzoku muttered, yanking X back into a more maneuverable position.

"Ah, oh well. I suppose I can puppet your body for a few more days without anyone noticing. Well... with the exception of that Zero-sempai. He'd have made a good thief a few millennia ago. Great eye for-" there was a momentary pauses as Touzoku kicked a strange metallic door hard with his foot, nearly dropping X in the process "- detail! Gah! Open up! Stupid door!" He released a long, drawn out sigh.

"We really should fix this Soul Door of yours, yadonushi. It's far too difficult to get it open when you're in this condition. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. The harder it is to open, the harder it is for you to get out when you shouldn't."

It was with mutters like those that the King of Thieves and his charge disappeared into a strange, warm whisper of light.

Now that Zero was thinking about it, X had started acting strange about a week ago...

The two were on a joint mission together, their individual teams working in tandem to track down and take out one strange Maverick. Scattered reports had been coming in from various Hunter and Civilian sources for around a month about how the Maverick had been able to "Steal the souls of its targets". To add to the weirdness, there were also reports of it being able to read another's mind, be that person organic or Reploid. Those rumors had led to the suggestion that the Maverick was a New Generation Reploid who had studied for far too long on hypnotism, making his opponents think that their "souls" had been taken or that their movements were being read.

It took less than two "Soul Stealing" attacks for the Maverick to reach right up there with B Rank. A new record, Zero had teasingly pointed out to his unit.

X had taken the whole of the mission relatively calm. A little calmer than normal, perhaps, since he hadn't started with his whole "Try to be Nice so there can be Peace" pep talk as he normally would have. Then again, this wasn't the first time he had skipped the pep talk -- true, it'd been the first time he'd done it voluntarily, but still...

It was only when X's fourth in command, practically a child who was a genius with strategies, was found comatose missing his left eye that Zero noticed X... change. Everything that was X inverted itself within the span of a single flash of golden light. Everything, including his demeanor, which flipped from calm to calculated homicidal rage.

Thinking on it, Zero was pretty sure that was the first time he'd ever heard X say, "I am going to rip that bastard's soul straight out his (explicative) and feed it to the Shadows!"

...And while it was true X had not, necessarily, been talking to Zero at the time, he had growled just loud enough for Zero to catch it.

Touzoku gently ran his hand over his yadonushi's strange bed's glass canopy with the patient love of an anaconda. Looking in on his sleeping light, resting as he was with his brownish almost blue hair an ethereal mess and a small, warm smile on his lips, always made him feel warmer as well. He supposed it was a side effect of his bond between Darkness and Light -- something similar had happened before, after all, a lifetime ago...

Mental breaks hit that train of thought faster than any mortal could conceive. Thinking back on his last host was an invitation for disaster. The guilt trips alone would put his new yadonushi into more danger than his Ryou-kin had ever been in.

After all, there was a world of difference between Soul Stealing nutcase Egyptians with mind-controlling magic sticks, and lethally armed titanium reinforced super-soldiers of doom straight out of an old B-Rated movie. Putting those two together had set the stage for "A Whole New Ball Game", as Ryou-kun would have said.

"Ah, my little yadonushi, you have no idea what you missed being born two hundred years too late. It was so much fun trying to take over the world. Well... and that one time when I tried to save the world... But that was only once and if it weren't for the fact you're also into the whole 'Save the World' thing, I wouldn't be doing it now as well."

The King of Thieves lazily spun his way through the mismatched maze of wires, toys, games, and occasional doll dressed in well-crafted armor.

"Your time is so strange, yadonushi," Touzoku sighed, running his hand over a bleeping computer console. "You know nothing of magic and yet you can wrap souls into steal, securing it with nothing more than hope and electronic life. The world bristles around you with warmth and magic just waiting to be reawakened, and yet the chaos caused by this has driven many of your number mad.

"Not that I can blame them. The Shadows have grown strong enough unwatched these past two hundred years, I'm only surprised we Item Holders weren't called back to it sooner."

He paused for a moment, looking thoughtfully over at his sleeping charge with the strangest look of insanity and concern gracing his fourteen-year-old features.

"But I wonder... if, for your sake, I went too far with that one eyed bastard. I mean, you could argue that, given he had been driven mad by the Sennen Eye, he didn't know what he was doing..." Another second of thought passed before Touzoku tossed his hand back, waving away his concern with a gesture of innocent bloodthirsty glee.

"Nah. He deserved everything he got just for touching one of your own, my yadonushi. But for touching you... Oh, no, he did not get nearly the proper level of punishment."

Whatever had happened before Zero finally managed to catch up to X had been as quick as it had been brutal. There had been scuff marks on the walls made from an odd mix of hand-to-hand combat, plasma blast burns, plasma melee weapon burns, and some strange unidentified slime which almost looked like drool.

X hadn't looked too worse for wear. He still looked pissed, leaning against a nearby wall with his hand clamped down over his leaking Buster. There was damage on his armor consistent with melee and long-distance combat, along with a strange scratch mark just under his right eye.

Considering how their Maverick looked, X had gotten off lucky. The poor bastard looked as though he had died from pure fear. This added in with a large helping of drool and both of his eyes missing made for a strange case.

Zero was just glad his Unit was specialized in combat only, not post-combat analysis.

"He tried to use some kind of device on me. It... it was imbedded in his left eye. I didn't... there wasn't really much of a choice... Whatever it was had started to malfunction and... well..." X's statement, shaky though it was, had remained constant over the weeks leaving little room for doubt.

After all, it was X he was talking about here. The Blue Bomber wouldn't hide anything from anybody unless he had to. Even then, he wouldn't hide it from Zero.

...Yet that festering feeling of disquiet still rang clear in Zero's gut, and only grew stronger with each rationalization.

It finally reached the point where Zero had little choice but to wave X down and talk to him.

"You're over-reacting, Zero," X had smiled, his features normal and light. Yet Zero couldn't shake the feeling there was something shadowed about them...

"Are you sure, X? There's nothing you need to talk about?"

He had stopped trying to dodge Zero there. In fact, he stopped walking all together. X looked his sempai straight in the eye, an expression of seriousness marring his features in a way Zero had rarely seen.

"There is something I need to tell you, Zero, but... I'm not ready yet. Give me some time..."

So he had gotten that far, at least. Now he knew there was something eating away at his friend, just like he had figured. What it was, exactly, he didn't know, but he did know X would speak to him when he was ready.

Just because he knew that did not making waiting any easier.

"Ah, yes. For touching you, pulling you from my safety straight into the Shadow Realm during our private battle... Oh, no, just loosing his one mortal eye was not nearly enough punishment."

The King of Thieves leaned back against his charge's glass canopy. Reaching up to pet glass covered hair, he sighed, "I apologize for having forced your hand earlier, yadonushi. Please understand it was either this, or banishing Zero-sempai to the Shadow Realm. He's too damn observant for his own good."

He stood back up on his own two feet, his mid-back length hair flowing about him with the same gentle caress as winter's first snowfall.

"And besides. One day, I will have to reveal myself to you, and in turn you may have to reveal me to a piece of your world. This way, you now have an ear who will listen fully to your -- and, perhaps, to our -- story. To a story which should have ended millennia ago.

"To the story... of Yu-Gi-Oh."


Sempai -- honored upper classman / senior member of a group. Zero is X's sempai since he is -- by now, make that was -- X's superior.

Yadonushi -- landlord. The King of Thieves lives inside his host, hence he calls X his landlord. He has a variety of ways for paying his "Rent", not all of which are necessarily good for you. If you've watched / read "Yu-Gi-Oh!", then you should know who the King of Thieves is. Here's a hint -- his soul is stuck in the Sennen Ring.

Sennen -- millennium.

Touzoku -- Japanese way of saying "King of Thieves"... I think.