Disclaimer: I do not own Yuugioh and I am making no profit from this.
A/N: This takes place a month or two after the Duelist Kingdom on Pegasus' island; Yuugi is aware of Yami, but their partnership still has a few bumps in it. Mixes the manga and anime shamelessly. Also, I can't remember the name of the criminal in Burger World to save my life. Er. Help?
Aibou means 'Partner', but it's a little deeper than that.
Mou hitori no boku translates to 'my other self', which is why I choose to use the English phrase.
It was one of those things that was simply a matter of time. A lot of little things adding up, mostly, and finally, clicking.
First it was the extremely dangerous prisoner, Bandit Fox, on television.
"Aww, Grandpa, turn it off," Yuugi protested when he came down the back stairs into the shop to see the old man watching the news. "Turn on something more interest … wait a minute," he paused, cocking his head at the television. "That's the guy who hurt Anzu!"
Sure enough, the man on the television was the escaped convict who was posing as the manager of Burger World some months ago. He was strapped in a straight jacket, drooling slightly, as he shuffled along in cuffed feet to a police transport.
"The infamous Bandit, re-apprehended after his escape from Domino Jail six months ago, is being transported to a more secure mental health facility today. Until the day he was caught in the Burger World at the heart of Domino, he was believed to be a perfectly sane individual. However, upon arriving at the scene the officers found the man twitching on the floor, utterly convinced that he was continuously burning alive. Efforts to figure out exactly what drove this criminal over the edge have so far proven futile, which has given rise to complaints about the use of tax dollars on life-interred prison—"
Yuugi suddenly grabbed the TV knob and changed the channel.
"Hey!" his grandfather protested, turning to look up at Yuugi – and paused. Yuugi was pale. "Yuugi?"
"I-I remember him," Yuugi said quietly. "He was an awful person, but …" He remembered the criminal confident, striking Anzu for speaking, holding a gun and demanding alcohol and cigarettes …
And then he remembered the man screaming, writhing, demanding that imaginary flames be put out. "That's still sad," he sighed.
"Yuugi …" his grandfather looked at him seriously, then smiled. "You're too nice for your own good. Now, get yourself to school! You're going to be late," he chuckled, snapping open the newspaper.
"Right!" Insane criminals forgotten for the moment, he ran out the door with his bookbag slapping his back.
In the Puzzle, Yami was quiescent. This might have been odd, only he didn't stir for much outside games, even now. Sooner, now, rather than later, he would realize he should have worried.
It was a couple of weeks later when Yuugi and his friends had gone out simply to go out that the second incident occurred. Jounouchi had treated everyone to milkshakes, and now he, Yuugi, Anzu, and Honda were all sitting side-by-side on a park bench, lamenting homework and life in general.
"It's time to start thinking about cram schools again," Honda sighed.
"Relax, it's only first year," Jounouchi pointed out, tilting his head back. "Just enjoy the day. Exams don't start for another few weeks."
"Soon it will be nice enough to go out and enjoy the sun every day," Anzu enthused thoughtfully.
"Hard to believe it's almost second year already …" Jounouchi looked at Yuugi, who was studying his feet and swinging his legs. "You're kinda quiet down there, squirt."
"Jounouchi!" Yuugi protested, but he smiled distractedly. "All this reminiscing reminded me of things. I was just thinking about how we got to be friends and all," he admitted. "Whatever happened to Ushio-san?"
Jounouchi and Honda both stared at Yuugi. "Ya mean you don't know?"
Yuugi blinked. "Should I?" And now Anzu was staring at him as well. "What?"
"Ushio went to the mental hospital," Anzu said in a low voice. "He was convinced that everything around him was made of money. Somehow …"
"Yeah, it was completely weird," Honda put in. "I guess you wouldn't have heard, after all! You weren't in classes the next day."
"I was kind of beat up," Yuugi confessed, remembering. "That was just after I'd put together the Puzzle," he recalled.
There was a pause while Jounouchi and Honda looked at each other, then back at Yuugi. "So?" they said in unison.
Yuugi blushed. The wish I made … I never told anyone. He hadn't even told his other self how hard he had wished for friends. But like a lucky charm, as soon as he had finished the Puzzle, people had gravitated to him. "Oh, nothing," he said.
"Everyone was pretty happy to see Ushio go, anyway," Jounouchi scoffed. "'Bodyguard' my ass!" He made a rude gesture.
"You're just angry because he beat you up," Anzu sighed.
"He jumped us!" Jounouchi and Honda protested, one right after the other. "It wasn't a fair fight at all!" Honda continued.
"And everyone knew he was shaking people down, just that nobody wanted to say anything," Jounouchi added. He grinned widely, directing a wink at Yuugi. "I heard he's never recovered."
Yuugi frowned. "That's not something to be happy about!" And for a moment, he couldn't help but think of the Bandit, poor insane Bandit, drooling and in a straitjacket … after a run-in with himself.
"Well, I think it is," Jounouchi snorted, sucking the last of his milkshake dry. He rattled his cup. "Hmm … anyone else up for seconds?"
The third incident was not an incident, but rather, a lack of one, four days later.
He was walking home from the arcade, which was, as usual, the most entertaining time to be aware of his Other Self. His other self had manifested in a way, walking next to him with a transparent body. When he appeared like this, he was taller than Yuugi, but otherwise mostly identical. Yuugi wondered if he could imagine himself taller, if he ever appeared like the spirit did.
//These 'virtual' games, they're quite entertaining.// His other self gave the impression of thoughtfulness, a hand on his chin.
After Duelist Kingdom on Pegasus' island, Yuugi had become fully aware of his other self as not only an extension of himself, but as a separate being, housed in the Millennium Puzzle. Of course, this had initially confused him – but it seemed to confuse the spirit even more.
Now, there were occasional questions, little, childish ones. //What is that? How does it work?// And always for the oddest things – the telephone. The toaster. A remote control.
Strangely, nary a question about the virtual reality machines that brought Duel Monsters to life.
Yuugi supposed, after a while, that a spirit which had been trapped in a virtually unsolvable puzzle for millennia might be a bit confused by the modern world. So he patiently answered any questions thrown his way.
/It's hard to believe that was your first time, though,/ Yuugi thought to his other self, remembering how the spirit had immediately taken to Mortal Kombat 3.
//The controls were simple enough. Not a game, I notice, that awards mercy.// Yuugi's other self smiled, giving a short bark of laughter at a private joke.
/The finishing moves are the best part!/ Yuugi protested, but his other self had looked up suddenly at that point.
There was a man, dark-skinned but with skin that sagged unhealthily. His bulky clothes hung off of him as if they had once fit a bigger man, and his head was turning this way and that frantically. His chest labored, and when he spotted Yuugi, he reared back. Sunglasses hid his eyes from view, even though it was getting dark.
Yuugi felt his other self straighten, everything about him tensing like a man set to hold his ground, and suddenly his spirit form was gone.
The man started towards Yuugi, stumbling. "Make it stop!" the man begged, and the closer he got, the more Yuugi could see that his face was scarred from something tearing his skin and his clothes were filthy. He started to step back in confusion, wondering why his other self had retreated, wishing that there were other people on the street. "Make the ticking stop--!"
And then Yuugi was suddenly two blocks from his home.
Yuugi staggered as he suddenly became aware of himself again, looking back down the road where he had come from. There was no sign of the crazed man.
This was the first time since before Duelist Kingdom that Yuugi had blacked out. Only now, he knew who – or what – was responsible. /My other self?/ he asked the Puzzle, cradling it in his hands. But his other self was silent, and Yuugi suddenly had such a strong impression of a great stone door being shut in his face that he fell on his butt.
Yuugi picked himself up with a rueful blush and gave up for now, trotting home. Maybe his other self didn't want to talk about it, but if there was one thing Yuugi excelled at, it was puzzles and logic. And this particular puzzle seemed to have a sobering conclusion.
Yuugi Mutou wasn't the sort of person to remember the names and faces of everyone who had hit him. First of all, that would have been a lot of names and faces to remember. Secondly, he was a forgiving sort so he didn't bother with grudges. So it took him a while to figure out where he had seen the crazy man on the street from, and when he recalled, he sat up and snapped his fingers. The watch store! He was the watch fanatic who had been so intent on getting the special edition watch he had stolen it from Honda.
Yuugi had gone after him to demand it back. He remembered being hit by the man, and then …
And then, nothing. He had woken up with the prized watch beside him, and the man had been long-gone.
There was a definite pattern forming here, and Yuugi didn't like it.
Ushio-san was still in the mental hospital after all. He had been gone from school since the day after he had beat up Yuugi, Jounouchi, and Honda. Yuugi recalled that he had been knocked out cold by Ushio, and yet despite threats to take his Millennium Puzzle, it had still been with him when he woke up.
And of course, the Bandit Fox … the last thing Yuugi remembered was Anzu being struck across the face. The next thing he knew, the Bandit was screaming for help and Yuugi was halfway across the room. That man was still insane as well.
All of this had happened in the months immediately following Yuugi's completion of the Millennium Puzzle.
Yuugi gripped the Puzzle as he sat at his desk, closing his eyes. I want to believe I know you, my other self. I know you have a good heart, even if … Yuugi thought of Kaiba, risking his life to win against Yuugi's other self … and his other self not caring in the least, the game all-consuming. No, I want to believe in you! Please, talk to me.
When Yuugi opened his eyes, he was in a corridor, facing a stone door with the Eye of Ra emblazoned on it amongst faded hieroglyphics. The door was shut. Yuugi glanced behind him to see the soul room he had so recently become aware of, filled with childish toys that he never really played with, but comforted him.
The stone door before him opened, and there stood his other self. Even here Yuugi was smaller than the spirit, but not by as much as in the real world when the spirit manifested. "Aibou," the spirit said. "You wished to talk?"
Yuugi nodded. Aibou … It was such a tight, close term of partnership. He supposed it fit, after Dueling at the Duelist Kingdom. "M-my … soul room would be all right?" he asked, stepping aside to offer his other self passage.
The spirit's eyes widened slightly, then, with the air of one given a great privilege, he stepped inside. Yuugi followed him, and with a questioning look the spirit communicated the question of whether or not he could sit. Yuugi smiled and gestured to the desk chair, and the spirit took it readily, leaning forward. "What is it you wished to speak about?" he asked.
Yuugi sat on the bed, realizing abruptly that his soul room had taken the shape of his real bedroom, albeit with more toys. "Ah," he began, looking for a place to start. "I guess I just … I've discovered something, my other self."
The spirit was silent, his face open but somber. He made a small motion with his hand for Yuugi to continue.
"I guess there's just no good way to say this," Yuugi sighed. "My other self … what did you do to these people?"
In his hands appeared pictures of Ushio, the Bandit, and the watch fanatic. Yuugi watched his other self scowl at them before his eyes lifted. The emotion there wasn't confusion, Yuugi realized, but rather cool confidence. "I did nothing," he said, "that they did not deserve. They were judged and found wanting, and so, their fitting ends."
Yuugi's lips parted. "What do you mean, they were judged and—"
"Remember the Shadow Realm?" The spirit interrupted. Yuugi nodded dumbly, recalling what Pegasus had done. "That is not the first Dark Game you, nor I, have played."
Yuugi took a moment to digest this. "But we were brought into the Shadow Realm by the Millennium Eye," he pointed out before he realized his mistake. "You played Dark Games against them!? B-but – they don't even Duel!" At least Ushio hadn't, to the best of his knowledge …
"There are other Games," the spirit replied calmly, unflinching. "Ones more suited to the darkness in their souls."
Yuugi reeled a bit, and then he clutched his head. "You did this to them, then, on purpose …" The spirit didn't reply, and Yuugi elaborated. "You drove them insane, my other self! Ushio-san and the Bandit are both in mental institutes, and the other …" Should be in one.
"I did not."
Yuugi looked up at the declaration. His other self had sat up now, perching himself as if on a throne and not an old desk chair, staring off into space. "I challenged them to games and they accepted. I told them the rules, and they accepted. I told them the consequences, and again, they accepted. And without exception they cheated." The spirit's eyes met Yuugi's. "And so, they faced the Penalty Game."
And the Penalty Game was insanity. For the rest of their lives.
Yuugi met his other self's eyes, and there was no repentance in them. Internally Yuugi shuddered. "They didn't understand," Yuugi said sadly. "They didn't understand the consequences would be so great. Aren't you the least bit sorry for what happened?" Please be sorry, he pleaded in his mind. Please.
The spirit considered this. "Yes," he said, after a long moment. "Anyone would be moved by their fate. But I do not apologize. They were given their choices." His other self dipped his head slightly, and said, almost to himself: "The Dark Games reveal the depths of one's soul."
Then what, my other self, is in your soul? Yuugi thought, his eyes flitting to the open door of his soul room and the stone door beyond. If the Games reveal you, then is it hatred? Mercilessness? How can you be so callous?
"What did you do to the watch fanatic?" Yuugi asked without looking back. "When we met him on the street tonight, you took control of my body again, in a way you haven't for a long time. Why? What did you do to that man that you didn't want me to see?" His voice rose a little, from fear of the answer.
Yuugi looked up. The Yugi-ou, however, was looking down and away. "I do not apologize for the Dark Games, aibou. Those people trespassed on your soul, and above all, I will protect that. But for your sake, I didn't want you to hear of it. I simply … wished to move you away from that spot. Physically. So I did so."
"He might come back. Find me – us – again," Yuugi pointed out.
"He might," the spirit agreed.
"They are people with families," Yuugi continued. "They were hurt as well."
"Nothing can hurt so much as to know the truth about someone you love," the spirit acknowledged.
"Yes," Yuugi agreed quietly, and his other self's eyes widened as their gazes met again, the implications visibly sinking in. "I didn't know how dark you were, my other self."
For a long moment the spirit was silent. He closed his eyes. "I am what I am, aibou," he replied.
"Yes," Yuugi whispered. "You are."
For a moment the spirit did not speak. "What's done is done," he said finally. Yuugi didn't look away, and he continued. "You are gentle, my light, and kind beyond measure. I am not, and I do not wish to be. But the time for me to move on my own is passed now." The spirit paused, his jaw moving slightly. "I have already submitted it to you, but aloud now: I will not engage another in a Dark Game of my own will without your presence, aibou."
Yuugi felt tension that he hadn't even noticed leave his body. "My other self—"
"We are partners, yes?" the spirit smiled – did Yuugi just imagine it, or was it a bit hopeful? "Partners act together."
"Yes," Yuugi said, smiling back. "They do."
What was done was done. But it did not have to be repeated.