Author's Note: As always, a big THANK YOU to my awesome beta's, MyAibou and PharaonicWolf. I love you guys!! XD
Disclaimer –"Yu-Gi-Oh!" and all related characters, events, and concepts belong to Takahashi Kazuki and any other related owners/distributors/producers. I get no monetary benefit from this. My benefit is the enjoyment of dealing with beloved characters.
"The Definition of Family"
Chapter 1 – The Jaws of Death
Cognition returned in slow degrees, bringing with it a level of pain he had never known before. Or at least, could not remember . . .
He lay for a moment longer, attempting to take stock of himself, sense where it was that he was so damaged, but it seemed as though everything hurt. All right, then. What hurts the most? Left leg, left arm – definitely left arm . . . ribs, head . .
What happened . . . ?
Eyes still closed, he tried to think back to the last thing he could recall, but it was proving almost impossible to concentrate through the pain and disorientation. Then, an image hit him – one of gaping reptilian jaws bearing down on his face.
Yami sprang to his feet in a heartbeat . . . and dropped again the next instant, his left leg giving out from under him. Collapsing to his knees, he threw his right arm out to catch himself as his left hung limp at his side. His head pounded, and he found that he could not see straight. He snarled in frustration and fear, forcing both his eyes and mind to focus past the agony.
A sound like a gunshot had broken through the noise of rain and traffic. Yami had taken over to respond to the threat, but had not been able to act fast enough as . . . as something, something big, had hit him and sent him flying. He thought that he must have blacked out because he did not remember anything more until opening his eyes to the sight of – Gods, that had to have been Ammit! He would never forget that horrific monster, the Egyptian devourer of wicked souls, that once had trapped him as Shadi tested his mind and heart. It was one of only two times he could recall when something had managed to frighten him enough for true terror to lock his mind, however temporarily. He swallowed. So . . . where am I now? And what of Aibou?!
Little by little, his sight cleared and his surroundings reconciled around him.
He was in his soul room, the labyrinthine walkways and stairways stretching away from him into seeming infinity. He looked down at himself, but could find no apparent wounds to explain the numbing agony. No, of course not, he admonished. I haven't a body to injure. Which means . . . He gasped in horror. AIBOU!!
He shoved to his feet once more, swayed, and stumbled to the heavy iron door, pulling it open with effort. Across the ephemeral hall between their soul rooms, Yugi's door stood cracked open, and Yami could see his partner's sneakers and the ends of his pant legs lying on the floor within. He lurched across the space, throwing open the door and dropping by his other's side, gathering the insensate soul into his arms. "Aibou! Aibou!!" A soft groan escaped in response, but Yugi did not gain cognition. His ethereal "body" did not show any wounds, either, but Yami was not surprised. This environment reflected not the physical but the psychological. What's happened to us?! Yami knew of only one way to find out. Reluctant as he was to leave his aibou's soul, Yami laid him back down, careful as though he were handling fine porcelain. He arranged the soul of his other heart as comfortably as he could manage, then stepped back out into the hall, traveled through the blackness down the corridor, and slid his spirit into possession of the physical body.
A shallow, choking gasp gurgled its way up his throat as the agony raging through him increased a hundred-fold. Yami forced his eyes open, blinking to clear them, alarmed by a watery red haze tinting his vision for a moment. He lay on his back, apparently, because far in front of him or high above him – he was disoriented enough that he could not rightly tell for sure – appeared to be a ceiling with banks of long fluorescent lights. Something shifted very close on his left, but before he could turn to see what, another figure caught his attention, sudden terror sticking his breath in his throat and threatening to stop his heart. Ammit sat above his head, reared back on hind legs. Blood smeared the arms, chest, and jaws. Then, Yami got a better look at the dark, reptilian god. That's . . . not Ammit. That's . . . that's . . .
"Honda! Dammit, pay attention! He's awake!" That was Jonouchi's voice, from somewhere past his feet and out of sight.
The mass on his immediate left shifted again just then, leaning over him. "Yugi! Hey, d-don't move, okay. You're, ah . . . y-you're hurt pretty bad."
Refocusing, Yami saw that the face of the figure beside him matched the voice, though he had never known that voice to tremble so. He could hear the great effort to remain calm. "H-honda? What . . . h-happened?"
"Shh. Don't talk. Just lay still."
"It probably just looks worse than it actually is. Head wounds bleed an alarming amount even if they're only small cuts. I'm sure he'll be fine." The source of the calm, feminine voice was above and to his right, the tone of soothing confidence telling him she must be an emergency response person of some kind.
Yami scowled and started to sit up. "Honda – !! NNGYAHHH!!" He fell back as the motion pulled on his left arm, shooting new waves of pain through his consciousness, and only too late did he realize that Honda was holding it down. "H-honda!!? D-damn . . . Honda, w-what are you – ?!"
Honda frowned and did not relent, but looked at him a bit askance. He glanced up at a woman standing on Yami's right, barking orders at several of the crowd that had gathered. Leaning in closer, he whispered with a frown. "Yami?"
Yami managed a very small nod, ignoring the fire in his head, but before either of them could say more, the woman heard them talking and twisted around, dropping to her knees. "Listen, hon. Don't move. I'm Kiyoda Miriko. I'm a trauma nurse with Domino Medical Clinic. Can you tell me your name?" Hers was the calm voice of confidence.
Yami swallowed, his throat dry as alarm mounted ever further. "M-mutou Yugi," he croaked.
"Mutou-kun, there's been an accident. An ambulance has already been called, but we need to start stabilizing you now." She looked up as an older gentleman handed her a long-limbed, stuffed monkey toy. "Thank you. Mutou-kun, your friend here is going to tourniquet your arm to staunch the blood flow while I wrap your neck to brace the cervical spine." The elder knelt at Yami's head, gentle hands cradling the sides of his skull as Kiyoda reached for the Millennium Puzzle.
A pitiful squawk wrenched itself from Yami's throat as his good hand came up to clench the chain. "NO! N-no . . . you can't have – "
Honda scowled, shaking his head, even as the old man reached down to loosen Yami's grip, and the embodied spirit startled at the amount of blood covering the gnarled hand. Yami's grasp only tightened, weak though it was, but Honda's words surprised him. "Ya- . . . I mean, Yugi, i-it's . . . it's okay. We gotta get the Puzzle off. Trust me. I won't let anyone take it. I swear." Honda's voice clogged as he spoke.
Just then, Anzu appeared next to Honda, kneeling by Yami's leg. She had started to speak, but the sight caused her to choke in horror. Jonouchi came into view next, leaning over his friends. The flinch in his eyes wrenched at Yami's heart. "Oh, man . . . Hey, you're gonna be okay, buddy. I promise. Just do what she says. She really is a nurse, 'kay? I'm sorry, but you gotta let her do whatever she needs to do."
"You may have some spinal injury. I need to immobilize you. Let go, hon." Her voice was as gentle as her grip was uncompromising.
G-gods have mercy . . .
Yami studied them, this nurse and three of the very few people he truly trusted in this life . . . and peeled his hand from the Puzzle's chain. He would not let even his own protectiveness and pride risk his aibou further harm. He would just have to trust. He glanced at Honda and Anzu, then locked eyes with Jonouchi, unable any longer to keep his own fear from showing, as the nurse nodded and lifted the Puzzle from his chest, slipping the chain up and free with infinite care as the old man manipulated his head. The broken physical contact forced him out of the body and into his soul room with the violence of a shockwave, slamming him back to the floor.
He lay as he had landed, knowing that it would be a long moment – at least! – before he could bring himself to move again.
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