28. Personal

Yugi frowned, a little apprehensive. "Atem's name?"

"Yes. You were there, weren't you? Was it really Ishizu Ishtar who discovered Atem's name? And I want the truth."

He sighed and leaned on the corner of his desk, crossing his legs. "No, it wasn't Ishizu. Kaiba told you, I take it?"

"Never mind what he told me. I want to hear it from you."

He sighed again, putting his hands into his pockets. "We found the name. Me, Joey, Téa, and Tristan. Uh… well, maybe not Tristan."

She shook her head as if not quite believing it even though it clearly had been the answer she'd been expecting. "You and your friends. You were, what, seventeen? How did you do it?"

He stopped, not sure how to answer that. It didn't help that he couldn't actually remember any of this; he just knew the details as if it were a story he'd been told. "We… needed to know, so we searched his tomb. We found a cartouche with the name on it."

Sara paced around the small office. "Just like that? You can't be serious! That tomb was riddled with traps—"

"I already told you, my grandfather had been there before. He told us how to get past the traps."

She stopped pacing and looked at him. "Okay, that's another thing. You were hardly the first people to ever set foot in that tomb. How is it possible you found a cartouche that everyone else somehow missed?"

In point of fact, they'd been in the tomb via Atem's memory, so in a manner of speaking they'd predated even his grandfather's 1960 visit by thousands of years. Instead of even attempting an explanation, however, he just shrugged.

Sara shook her head again, some of her white hair coming loose from its knot and hanging in her face. "All right, let's move past 'how' for a moment. Why is Ishizu is taking credit for it? This is appalling. She hoards texts, and now—"

"Wait a second!" Yugi threw up his hands to hold her off. "She did it as a favor to me."

"But why?"

"It was a closed tomb. We weren't exactly supposed to be there."

She glared at him. "So you hand off the credit for a find to Ishizu to not get in trouble? You do realize what happened, don't you? You were a high school student, and Ishizu is rather clever. She manipulated you into believing it was in your best interest—"

"She did not manipulate me." He rolled his eyes, his hands going back into his pockets. "I was young, yes, but not nearly as naïve as everyone seems to think. I don't want people to know because this has nothing to do with scholarship. In case you haven't noticed, this is personal to me." His hand closed around the little wooden crocodile in his pocket. "He's important to me, not his history. I don't want something that is deeply personal and private to be turned into an issue for scholars. I found the name for him, not for posterity." His intensity surprised even himself. That was Yugi's emotion, not Atem's—

"Because you believe he possessed you." It wasn't a question.

Yugi narrowed his eyes, glaring at the door over Sara's shoulder. "For someone who likes to pretends none of this ever happened, Kaiba sure is talking about it a lot."

"That one came from Mokuba," Sara said. "But it's true, isn't it?"

He sighed. "It's more complicated than that. You don't think it's coincidence that I look like the carving in that tablet in Giza, do you?"

She gave him a startled look, then blew out a huff of air. "That bloody tablet. I—" She stopped, shaking her head. "You're starkers, you know that?"

"I've been called worse."

Grunting in exasperation, she resumed her pacing. "Yugi, Atem never possessed you. He died thousands of years ago. If you discovered his name, it is an amazing accomplishment for a high school student, but it is nothing more than that."

"I never asked you to believe any of this."

"No, but you certainly didn't explain any of it before I dragged myself halfway around the world to help you."

He leveled a gaze at her. "Not in depth, no, because frankly, it isn't any of your business. But I did say he was too close to my heart for me to be dispassionate. You were in the room when I argued with Ishizu about how important it was for me to bring him back. I told you I once owned the Millennium Puzzle and warned you about the dark magic associated with the Millennium Items. Don't make out that I misled you into thinking this research was about scholarship. You offered to come, over the objections of your own mentor." His brows furrowed as another thought came to him. "You made a discovery of your own, one we're also keeping quiet."

She gaped at him. "Oh come now, that is completely different! I discovered a crime, not an historical find! That was kept quiet for my safety!"

"I'm not questioning that. But how you came to discover it, how you came to be in Seto's tomb in the middle of the night—this isn't just about scholarship for you, either."

"Of course it is! This is what I do!"

He shook his head. "Back in Luxor you compared it to falling in love." He thought of his other self, and for this it was the same no matter which self was "other." "That's exactly how it is for me. I don't want what's personal to become a matter for scholars to debate. I'd rather leave that to Ishizu."

She studied him for a long moment, her expression troubled. "I don't know why I came here."

"Do you want to leave?"

She seemed to consider this. "No, I still want to help. I think your reasons are daft, but I still have my own reasons to do what we're doing here."

Yugi pushed away from the desk, pulling his hands out of his pockets. "Then let's concentrate on that."

Her eyes met his in a silent battle of wills. After a moment, she relented, but not by much. "Fine. But I'm not through with this, Yugi. I intend to discuss it with Ishizu when I get back."

He nodded as he held open the office door for her. "Do whatever you need to do."

When they returned to the common room, Kaiba looked up from where he was seated on the edge of the sofa. "It seems to me if you're having Shadow Games up in your bedrooms, it might not be the best time to have a houseguest."

Sara stopped in her tracks and looked down at the floor.

Yugi smirked at him. "I see you've been briefed. No denials that Shadow Games are real?"

"Shadow Games?" Sara asked. "Does that have something to do with what you call Duat? The 'Shadow Realm,' was it?"

"Don't ask for an explanation. It will only make the little runt pull out his soapbox, and I don't have the time to waste." Kaiba shifted his gaze from Sara to Yugi. "I don't care how Ramesses does it, but he does have a way to control the behavior of others, and with what I've been hearing from Mokuba and Sara, there's been a lot of strange behavior around here. Beyond even your usual level of weird, I mean. It just seems to me that this is not a good place for innocent bystanders."

"That's a good point," Duke said. "Maybe Sara should come stay at my place until she goes back to Cairo?"

Kaiba snorted. "Where would you have her sleep, in your closet?"

Duke glared at Kaiba. "My apartment may not be a penthouse in the Financial District, but it's not that small."

"Actually, Duke, I was hoping Marik would stay with you when he gets here," Yugi said. "I think some distance between him and Mai would be a good idea, just to be safe."

"Marik?" Kaiba's eyes narrowed. "Why is that freak coming here?"

"He's going to try and help us figure out how Ramesses has been able to use Mai's nightmares against her. He is the one who started them, after all," Yugi said.

Kaiba nodded. "Well, we have guest suites at Kaiba Corp. She's welcome to stay there."

"Wait." Joey's mouth was agape. "You're… inviting someone into the Kaiba Inner Sanctum? Since when are you willing to associate with, you know, people?" Téa, however, was looking between Kaiba and Sara with a curious expression while Sara continued to examine her shoes.

Kaiba glared at Joey, sniffing in disdain. "I don't have a problem with people, just morons and losers and posers."

Joey moved forward in his seat as if he were preparing to launch himself at Kaiba. "What's that supposed to mean, rich boy?"

Mai groaned and put a hand on Joey's shoulder. "Oh give it a rest, hon. Quit taking his bait."

"Well, come on, you don't think we should make Sara go stay at Kaiba Corp, do you? It's bad enough Yugi roped her into working with Kaiba, now she's gotta stay there too? How much do you think one person should be asked to take?"

"It's fine," Sara said quickly, looking somewhat discomfited.

Yugi frowned, trying to figure out what was making her uncomfortable. "Are you sure you don't mind? It's not that you aren't welcome. It's just that things have been pretty… wrong around here."

"I don't mind. It makes more sense, really, since I'm doing most of my work over there anyway. I just need to pack up my things, and perhaps take more of the Egyptian texts with me."

"I'll help you pack," Téa offered, somewhat eager.

Sara shook her head. "No, that's quite all right. I can manage."

"Oh, but I insist." Without waiting for Sara's consent, Téa got up from her seat and started toward the stairs. Sara followed reluctantly while Yugi finished updating Kaiba on everything else that had been going on.

Kaiba rolled his eyes. "You dorks keep up with all the hocus-pocus. I'll stick to more real-life methods of figuring out who Ramesses is and how to stop him."

Before long, Sara and Téa returned with Sara's bags and another box of texts. Kaiba took the box, instructing Sara to leave her bag for one of his assistants to retrieve later, but Sara insisted on bringing it herself.

Kaiba shrugged as they headed for the elevator. "Suit yourself."

As soon as the elevator door closed behind them, Joey whistled. "Man. That poor girl. I can't believe we're doing this to her."

"I don't think she minds," Téa said. Her voice sounded like it was a balloon that had been over-inflated and was threatening to burst.

"Okay, you know something." Mai leaned forward with interest. "Spill."

Téa grinned at Mai. "She likes him."

Serenity squealed. "No way!"

"Well, that would certainly explain a lot," Duke said.

"Wait." Joey scratched his head. "She likes him who?"

Téa let out a hiss of air. "Him Kaiba, you moron. Who do you think?"

"Kaiba? She likes… no way!" Joey shuddered dramatically. "Who the hell can even stand Kaiba, let alone actually like him?"

"I think I'm with Joey," Tristan said. "That's just wrong."

"He's rich and he's hot. What's not to like?" Mai asked.

Joey glared at her. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"It means, Josesph, that he's rich and he's hot." Mai leaned back and crossed her arms. "Which part of that is hard to understand?"

"The part where you're talking about Kaiba!"

"Well, yeah, but the richness and the hotness can make up for a lot."

Joey launched into a tirade, but Mai merely rolled her eyes. "Oh shut up, would you? I wanna know more about Sara and Kaiba."

"Yeah, Joey, shut up. I wanna hear this, too," Serenity said.

Yugi tapped his foot on the floor, his arms crossed. "We've got more important things to talk about. Joey, you and Mai are going to track down Valon, remember? Téa and I will keep looking for a way to bring the other me back. Serenity, Tristan, and Duke, I'd like you to do some research on the Shadow Realm. Pegasus has a lot of weird books in his library that might help us figure out how we were locked out and see if there's a way around it."

"How did you get around it?" Duke asked.

"I think it's because I used to own the Millennium Puzzle. But we have to find a way for all of us to get past the barriers. We can't afford to be handicapped by not being able to summon our monsters if Ramesses brings another shadow war to us." He looked around the room. "I don't know about you, but I'm tired of playing defense. Let's find some answers and bring the fight to him."

To be continued in Part III: Main Phase…