An insistent tapping startled Kisara from her almost sleep. She blinked and realized it was coming from the door, her door. She fumbled for a moment, clumsily untangling herself from the blankets then pulled on a robe and shuffled sleepily across the room.
When she got close enough to reach for the knob she realized that she could hear whispers and muttered phrases as though the person on the other side was afraid of speaking too loudly. She leaned curiously forward and listened hard as the voice was very soft.
"Hurry, hurry, someone please hurry, someone please open the door, hurry Kisara, please open the door Kisara, hurry before it finds me, please . . ."
She immediately recognized it as Ryou and hurriedly stepped back, pulling the door open with her, baffled as to what could have possibly drawn the reclusive boy from his room and wondering why none of the nurses had stopped him and contacted Seto or herself.
Ryou flew through the door, not even waiting for it to open all the way and almost knocked Kisara backward as he attached himself to her, burrowed his face into her shoulder and tried to hide under her hair.
"Close the door, close the door, don't let it find me."
She could feel the poor thing shaking and rubbed his back soothingly as she maneuvered carefully around him to nudge the door closed with her foot. At the same time, she concentrated and drew upon a bit of magic, surrounding them both with the protective aura that always helped to calm him. It was just one of the powers of her Ka that she had learned she could access at will.
Ryou responded immediately and he relaxed into her embrace. She felt his heart rate return to normal and his trembling gradually subsided.
She maneuvered him over to the bed and tried to sit him down, but he clung to her so fiercely that she ended up sitting with him. He snuggled into her side and she stroked his hair, speaking to him softly.
"It's ok Ryou. It's ok sweetling, I'm here now. Nothing is going to hurt you."
The frightened boy finally settled down to the point where she could question him, but first, she raised a hand to the necklace she wore on which a sapphire blue dragon was silhouetted against a silver background. She pressed on the dragon and it sank into the setting, giving off a small beep.
"Seto?" she spoke tentatively into the communicator. It was the first time since she had received it as a gift that she had reason to use it but she needn't have bothered. She heard an odd, electric echo of her voice from behind her own door as it was pushed forcefully open and the Seto himself looked in, having been woken by her magic. Kisara and Ryou both jumped and Seto gave them an apologetic look though it was only received by Kisara as Ryou had hidden himself behind her and was, once again, babbling about hiding from . . . something. Neither of them could quite figure out from what.
"What's Ryou doing here?" Seto asked, his expression turning to one of confusion at the boy's presence and irritation at the nurses not doing their job. He made a mental note to find out who was on duty and fire them in the morning.
"I don't know." Kisara answered as she comforted the trembling boy and attempt to coax him back to coherence. Or as close to it as Ryou ever got these days.
Seto started forward to lend a hand but froze in the middle of the room, his eyes widening and his gaze becoming unfocused. Kisara looked at him in concern and then felt for herself what had made him stop, a small spike in magical energy coming from the direction of the Mutou household.
Before either had a chance to respond, the small spike became a very large one causing Kisara to gasp and hold Ryou closer, covering his head protectively and speaking softly and quickly to him, trying to keep the panic she'd seen in his eyes at bay. Seto hissed and pressed the heal of his hand to his forehead, fighting against a sudden, splitting headache that threatened to overwhelm him. He stumbled slightly and Kisara, her magic being of an entirely different type and therefore not affected as badly, reached out to grab his arm, steadying him and pulling him toward the bed to sit on her other side. He sank down awkwardly and immediately leaned forward, covering his head with his arms. She rubbed his back worriedly, trying to think of something she could do when Ryou let out an earsplitting scream, holding his side and curling around it in pain.
Kisara was momentarily torn between the two until Seto waved her away, the ache in his skull already settling into a low throb as the energies dissipated.
She leaned over Ryou was curled protectively around his side and sobbing quietly then hesitated, not quite sure what to do for him. As Seto sat on a nearby chair, massaging his temples and trying to rub away the last of the pain in his head, she rubbed Ryou's arm and spoke quietly to him, finally calming him and convincing him to show her what was wrong. He sat up slowly, moving as though in pain and, still leaning to favor his right side lifted his shirt and pointed to one spot in particular. "It hurts."
She squinted at the exposed skin, looking closely for anything different but seeing nothing outwardly wrong.
"Right here?" she asked, lightly touching the spot with her fingertips. He yelped, pushed her hand away, and sank back into the bed, arms firmly locked around the area that bothered him.
"I'm sorry Ryou. I'm sorry. I won't touch it again, come here." She reached out and gathered him into her arms again, petting his hair, soothing and comforting him as one would a child. He relaxed into the embrace and then tiredly shifted so that his head was resting in her lap. The boy closed his eyes and his breathing evened out as he began falling asleep.
She smiled down at him then, remembering Seto, turned anxiously back to him.
"I'm alright." He reassured her quickly before she even had a chance to ask. She nodded and looked back worriedly at Ryou, running her fingers through his hair.
"There's nothing on the outside, so it must be something on the inside. Perhaps one of your doctors can look on the inside and see?" She reasoned and turned an inquiring gaze toward Seto. He gave her a small smile, amused at her choice of words.
"I don't think a doctor will be able to help with this." He paused briefly to arrange his thoughts around the lingering headache. From what he could tell, someone, probably Yugi, had gathered a great deal of raw light energy, and then had . . . thrown it. The light had hit something dark, something that had previously been hidden from his magic senses and when the shadows had screamed, so had Ryou. They were connected somehow. He was sure of it, and several theories were already beginning to take form. "What's hurting his isn't physical. I'm fairly certain that it's magical in nature."
"But," Kisara paused and thought back to something Seto had mentioned in their late night discussions. "But, you said that Ryou never had any magic, that it was the spirit of the ring who could use the shadows."
Seto crossed his arms. "Yes, though the timing of events tonight leads me to believe that Ryou is still somehow connected . . ." His eyes took on a distant look as he focused them on the wall, lost in thought. "The thief accessed those powers while in Ryou's body. Even if . . . no, especially if Ryou was never intended to touch or sense magic energies at all, the spirit would have had to force open the part of the brain that is receptive to magic. And, well, if that is the case, Ryou wouldn't necessarily be able to close those receptors again by himself. Then when the thief left for good . . ." He trailed off again, following the through all the way to it's conclusion. "Yes . . . yes, that would be more than enough to drive a person mad." His gaze refocused and he began finish through the pockets of his pajamas for his cell phone. "But it's still just a theory. I'll have to speak with Yugi and Atemu before any real conclusions can be drawn . . ."
Located and pulled out the phone, already searching for the number to the game shop, intent of speaking with someone who could confirm or deny his conclusion despite the lateness of the hour. Kisara put a hand tentatively on his arm and he looked at her, raising an eyebrow.
"I'm not nearly as sensitive to magic as you are, but even I could feel that. Whoever draw up that much magic must be exhausted," she stopped briefly to amend the statement, knowing that there was really only one person who could have handled that much light energy, "Yugi must be exhausted. Perhaps we should not bother them until morning."
Seto frowned down at the phone, suddenly torn between the request from the girl he liked and the asshole of a business man who didn't care what time it was if he had a question that needed answering or a problem that needed solving.
Kisara rolled her eyes at him, correctly identifying the small wrinkle that appeared on his forehead as one of inner conflict. "Though I suppose we should check to make sure everyone is alright."
Seto snapped his head up, turning the frown in her direction and wondering how it was that she could read him so easily when he'd spent years making sure no one could. Though he supposed it was harder to hide from someone who had seen the inside of your mind.
He turned his attention back to the cell phone and though for a moment before hitting the send button. He was the Kaiba Seto after all, he certainly couldn't go around just asking people if they were ok. Someone might mistakenly think he cared.
"Yugi? Kaiba. Stop throwing around magic like a goddamn n00b, it's giving me a headache from here. Everyone is still alive over there? Good. There is a matter that I wish to discuss with you, meet me in the lobby of Kaiba Corp headquarters tomorrow at one. Don't be late." And without giving Yugi a chance to respond, he snapped the phone shut looking vaguely pleased that he had been able to ascertain the health of those in the shop and set up a meeting for tomorrow in a conversation that had taken less than a minute.
A snort from Kisara caught his attention and he looked over to see her attempting, and failing, to smother laughter behind one hand.
"What?" Seto asked sharply, his voice low so as not to disturb Ryou. This only made it worse and more snorts and muffled giggles from Kisara caused the boy in question to wake and look at her sleepily. She took the opportunity to get him tucked into the bed. That done, and her laughter under control, she finally answered the question.
"Nothing." She said primly, not quite hiding her amusement. "Absolutely nothing."
"Right." Seto gave her a look of skepticism but decided not to press the issue and looked at Ryou who was now snuggled into Kisara's bed. "Shall I take him back to his room?"
"No, let him rest here tonight. He's already asleep and someone should keep an eye on him." Seto nodded and Kisara caught the slightly reluctant quality it held.
"Jealous?" she asked lightly.
"What? Of course not!" He replied a little too quickly before realizing that she was teasing. She had the oddest sense of humor sometimes. He hid a small smile and he decided to play a bit.
"Well, perhaps a little." He said and waved his hand dismissively as though it didn't really matter. "Though if anyone is sleeping next to you it should be me." He was pleased to see her eyes widen and a blush spread across her nose and cheeks. Seto grinned, giving the game away and she hit him.
"Join us for lunch tomorrow?" he asked.
"Of course." She punched him one more time for good measure. "Now go get some rest before then or I'll have Mokuba give you a good scolding."
He laughed. "Alright then, see you at one."
Seto hesitated before leaving and looked quickly at Ryou to make sure he was asleep before leaning forward to press a soft kiss into Kisara's lips. Light tapping on the door, however, caused them both to jump. They moved apart as Mokuba opened the door and peeked in, a little surprised to see everyone gathered in the same place.
"Sorry," he whispered, "I had a bad dream and niisama wasn't in his room . . ."
"It's alright." Kisara motioned him inside and he entered, Nailah hanging from his arms. He put her down to receive hugs from both Seto and Kisara and the kitten took the opportunity to jump onto the bed and curl up next to Ryou. "I suppose it's just not a good night for sleep."
"Oh, I don't know, they look fairly comfortable." Seto nodded at the two, boy and cat, who seemed perfectly content snuggled into the blankets. Kisara let out playful, long suffering sigh.
"At this rate there won't be any room left for me."
Mokuba grinned and grabbed both her and his brother's arms, dragging them toward the inviting bed. "Of course there is! It's huge, we can all fit!"
Seto tried to protest but was defeated by puppy dog eyes and a shy but firm insistence from Kisara that it was alright. Thus he woke the next morning to a cat tail tickling his nose, his brother's leg across his stomach, and someone's elbow in his side. He sneezed and started to untangle himself from limbs and blankets, determined to seek his own bed until there was a soft sigh and the sharp elbow was replaced with a warm, soft girl as Kisara decided that he was a much better pillow than the one she had previously been using. Seto paused, then put an arm around her and relaxed back into the mattress. His own bed could wait, this one was suddenly much more comfortable.
Across town, loud pounding on Yugi's bedroom door woke both boys. Yugi sat up with a start, causing Atemu, whose weight HAD been precariously balanced half on Yugi and half on the edge of the small bed, to slide gracelessly to the floor. He landed with a loud thud and Yugi immediately leaned over the side to see if he was alright. He had to stifle a giggle at the sight of his dark sprawled across the bedroom floor and rubbing the spot where his rear end had connected with the ground. Atemu looked up and grinned back at the boy, realizing how utterly ridiculous he must look but they both sobered when Solomon's voice sounded through the door.
"I want you both decent and downstairs in ten minutes!" His tone booked no argument and two pairs of eyes met, one looking up from the floor and one looking down from the bed. They didn't need the mind link to determine each other's single thought.
Solomon's eyes were fixed on a spot in the center of the table and Yugi and Atemu's gazes were pointed away from each other and generally downward.
The silence was getting awkward.
"Right." Solomon finally started, trying to recall the exact phrasing he had rehearsed last night. "I won't pretend it's the easiest thing for me to accept but I will try my best and I do understand. With as close as you two were, sharing head space and all, and as much as you did together … well, it's not too terribly surprising that … well, um … Right." He made a mental check and decided he had covered enough of the high points. The elder added just one more thing before switching to a more comfortable subject. "But from now on, you will stay in your own rooms at night, and if I find you both in one bedroom again there will be trouble, got it?" He did look up at that point to make sure they both understood. Yugi blushed brightly, even Atemu's coloring looked slightly darker, and they nodded vigorously, still keeping their gazes fixed on the floor.
"Good. Now with that bit of business out of the way, we have more important things to discuss." Curiosity got the better of the two and they looked up hesitantly. Yugi's face lit up when he realized what his grandfather was hinting at and his eyes widened excitedly.
"That's right! You used magic last night grandpa!"
"Well, where did you think you got it from?"
"That's right! I used magic last night!" Yugi practically bounced in his chair, a wild grin on his face. "It felt wonderful! I can still see the light particles in the air!"
Solomon nodded, giving his grandson a proud smile and Atemu turned a curious look toward the elder.
"So it is," he searched through what he remembered of Yugi's schooling for the right word, "hereditary?"
Solomon nodded. "It was also how I was able to safely handle the puzzle when so many others were hurt or killed in it's pursuit."
"But wait, why didn't you ever say anything?" Yugi asked, suddenly curious as to why something so wonderful had been kept from him.
The old man hesitated before answering. "Well, it doesn't always show up in every generation. Your mother never developed the ability to see the light, let alone manipulate it and she wanted you to have a normal as possible life if you couldn't either."
Yugi snickered at that and intertwined his fingers with Atemu's under the table. His dark gave him an amused grin.
"Yes, yes," Solomon said in mock irritation. "I suppose ever since you first touched the puzzle normal was never really an option."
"And why now?" Yugi continued his line of inquiry. "I mean, this ability would have been really useful during any of the battles we fought over the last couple of years."
"You were simply still too young. The ability rarely develops before nineteen and never before eighteen." Yugi grinned proudly, he was still a few months shy of his eighteenth birthday. "Yes, they surfaced while you're still too young and at a power level that is unheard of, that's why you must learn to control them quickly so that no one gets hurt in the event of your doing something you didn't intend."
The boy paled, uncomfortable with the idea that someone could get hurt and it would be his fault. "But, everything seemed pretty straightforward last night. I mean, gathering and throwing the energy was easy. Though perhaps my aim could use a little work . . ."
"There are many things that you will be able to do by instinct but training and practice will allow you to refine your control and some spells work better when taught. The idea is to do more with less." Yugi looked skeptical the last statement and Solomon sighed. "Just watch."
The elder held out his hand, palm up, and a small sphere of raw light, about the size a golf ball but hardly the shape, appeared hovering over his hand. The energy pulsed and spiked, its shape changed continuously and its brightness was inconsistent. Overall, it looked like a much smaller version of what Yugi had managed the previous night. Solomon's eyes narrowed in concentration and the orb began to expand outward, smoothing as it grew, inflating to about ten times its size without Solomon having added any energy at all. It was now a polished sphere with a flawless, glasslike surface and a glow that was brilliant and even all the way through. It only stayed that way for a moment, however. As Yugi and Atemu stared, it suddenly split into segments which jumped into the air, one by one, 'popping' with a bright flash before disappearing as they hit the various surfaces of the kitchen. The effect was similar to that of a firework or sparkler.
Yugi reached out to catch one of the sparks as it flew past him and closed his fist around it, giggling as it popped in his hand and the bright flash glowed red between his fingers. Atemu considered doing the same for a moment but stopped as Solomon confirmed his suspicions.
"You may not want to try that, Atemu. Your own magic is dark and they might sting a bit."
He nodded understanding, then quickly hid a frown. The shadows and his inability to use them had been just the topic Atemu was trying to avoid this morning and now the worries and doubts practically screamed themselves into his mind. Atemu pushed them aside, however, now was not the time to be bogged down by such things and he hoped no one had noticed his momentary distraction.
Solomon did see the troubled expression that flickered across Atemu's face. He had raised too many teenagers (his daughter, Yugi, and even some of Yugi's friends) not to recognize the 'something's wrong but no one will understand so I just won't say anything' look. He did also came to the conclusion that now was not the time, though, and resolved to find out what was troubling the boy later.
The last few sparks flickered out and the kitchen's lighting to normal. Suddenly the sun didn't seem nearly as bright as it drifted in through the large windows.
"That was amazing, grandpa . . ." Yugi breathed, coming back to himself after the entrancing display. "Can you teach me to do that?"
"Not so resistant to leaning a few tricks then after all?" Solomon asked and Yugi gave his a sheepish grin. "Of course I will. It's just a trick, really, but it's also an excellent training exercise and will be one of the first things you lean." He stopped to think. "Actually, I think the first lesson will consist of helping me set up new wards around the game shop."
"There were wards around the shop?" Atemu asked, surprised. "But I never felt anything."
"They certainly wouldn't have been very good wards if you could. Ideal wardings use so little magic that they are virtually indistinguishable from the magic that naturally exists in the atmosphere. In fact, the less energy you use for any spell, the less detectable it is." He stopped again and grinned as someone's stomach rumbled. "But here, we can continue discussing magic theory over breakfast."
A/N: Yeeeeeah, if ever I give you a time estimate on the next part or chapter, promptly laugh at me. And then kick my ass. And then keep bugging me about whatever deadline I've given and maybe it'll actually get done in a reasonable amount of time! Hehe, but anyways, I ended up splitting this chapter in half as it just kind of kept expanded on me and I wanted to post sooner to let people know I wasn't dead! The good news, I already have four pages of the next chapter and more still in my notebook. XD