What Night is to Me
By – Hime no Ichigo
Story Type: One-shot
Summary: As night covers the earth, 22-year-old Yuugi Motou once again travels back to his memories, to live and relive.
Disclaimer: Yuugiou belongs to Takahashi-san. And the song, which sort of sparked this plot bunny (and that I felt angsty for a sudden o.o), is S Club 7's Never Had a Dream Come True. Yep, I listen to old songs, bite me.
Spoilers: None…unless you STILL haven't watched the ending to the series to find that Yami/Atemu has returned to the afterlife.
Warnings: Um, angst. Written in third person; Yuugi's POV in a way. Not really following manga setting. I consider it as a bit of AU, because we don't really know what happens. (is ignoring Yu-Gi-Oh! GX's plot and stuff)
Notes: The age of majority in Japan is 20. The reason I looked this up is that I want to apply the idea that once you turn an adult, a childhood wish will disappear because you'll set out to achieve it yourself. (Similar to having a dream of becoming a doctor when little.) In this case, the Ceremonial Duel happens shortly after Yuugi's 20th birthday. Since Yami appeared when he completed the Sennen Puzzle when he was 8, it is considered that Yami is a 'childhood wish'. Yuugi, as an adult, would no longer need his wish to carry on with life, and therefore, Yami leaves. However, we all know we need a bit of childhood to sustain our lives. ;P
Night-time. For some, it is a time when bedtime monsters like the Boogeyman come alive and feed on children's fears; for others, it is a time to steal the opportunity to enjoy the outside air with their significant others; for others still, it is a time for recovery, to rest their active minds from the day's work, to recharge for next day's demands.
But night is entirely different for Yuugi Motou, who is anything but ordinary.
For starters, his hair has always attracted attention…whether it is desired or not. As his parents have left him in the care of his grandfather ever since the young age of three, he supposes he can only blame this particular condition on genetics. Spiked so that it is gravity-defying, blond bangs nest snugly amidst the purple-red rimmed black mass. But while Yuugi uses gel everyday to maintain its shape, his hair is remarkably soft.
He is no longer the kid that seeks reassurance from his grandfather that there are no monsters lurking in his room. He no longer has his significant other to cuddle with.
And he finds it difficult to find peace in his sleep most of the time.
Yuugi enters his room, footsteps muffle against the blue carpet. He closes the door gently behind him, to prevent disturbing the only other occupant in the house, who is currently catching the last news broadcast before retiring for the night.
He makes his way to the window, taking a moment to appreciate that the architects have allowed sitting space in the form of a ledge. No wonder, when his grandfather has told him to move in here as his possessions gradually got out of hand, he hasn't complained. Even though Yuugi's own skylight proffers a beautiful sky view, he has sometimes slept in his room, sharing his bed.
He opens the window and climbs on to the extension, props himself up so that his back is against the wall, right leg forming a triangle with the bottom of the expansion. Similarly, his right arm hangs limply on his knee, the other against the cool surface of the ledge, palm up.
As relaxing as the posture seems, it isn't what Yuugi is feeling.
He turns his head and looks out the window; the moon shines brightly, casting warm glows and long shadows on the ground, dimming its neighbouring stars. The wind toys with the leaves, branches swaying in rhythm.
Yuugi stares aimlessly into the sky, partially absorbing the vague constellations that pale under the city lights.
The wind weaves through his hair.
Lost… it seems to have whispered it into his ear.
"Yuugi?" A knock on the door announces the quiet presence of his aging grandfather at the grand age of 82, Sugoroku Motou.
The young man does not reply, but his gaze shifts slowly from the window to the door momentarily. Sugoroku takes his silence as a 'come in', and peers inside. He is tentative; this Yuugi is no longer the same grandson he has taken under his wing nineteen years ago. Two years… it has taken him two years to finally face and accept the fact that his grandson has changed.
Although he is growing older by the minute, his sight hasn't quite failed him yet. He has seen the subtle differences in his grandson: the face is not as round anymore—if anything, the chin has sharpened to lend to a more angular visage; height is not an issue either—Yuugi is taller than he is, though not by too much; his clothing style has taken up a more punk-like style, his wardrobe filling up with more leather and chains than he has thought possible.
But the one thing Sugoroku notices and misses the most is the pair of violet orbs that used to always greet him every morning with a twinkle, along with that now permanently missing grin.
The eyes that have once been sparkling windows into the soul have turned dull. Bright amethyst jewels have hardened into dark mauve stones through time and experience. That's what greets him nowadays, and a fleeting smile that seems to disappear as soon as Sugoroku looks closer.
'Mature, yes, but at what price…?'
"Still awake?" He asks softly, leaning against the doorframe when Yuugi makes no attempt to move from his position.
Yuugi gives a barely perceptible shake of his head, serving the dual purpose of acknowledging his grandfather and giving an answer.
"Are you…" Sugoroku hesitates, afraid to provoke the thoughtful silence. He notices that Yuugi has been doing this more often as of late, especially during these hours of night, and Sugoroku cannot help but wonder how his grandson always have the energy next morning to deal with university matters.
For the first time that day in the household, Yuugi utters something, albeit barely above a whisper. "I'm all right, Jii-chan." His voice sounds coarse due to a lack of water, like sandpaper rubbing against wood. Sugoroku winces and is again reminded that his grandson rarely spends any more time with him anymore, who prefers to lock himself in his room, working…or so Yuugi says. "Don't worry," he continues before Sugoroku can argue. "I'll be going to bed soon."
Sugoroku realizes a lost battle when he sees and hears one. "All right, if you're sure then. Don't stay up too late."
"I won't. Good night, Jii-chan."
"Good night, Yuugi." Sugoroku glances over his shoulder to look at his grandson one more time before retiring for bed. He sighs, knowing it is futile to ask what is on his mind; Yuugi remains in the same position still.
'Why won't you let us help you, Yuugi…?' And the door closes with a quiet click.
Once he is alone again, he still doesn't bother to stretch or move. His muscles protest, but he ignores them. He is oblivious to time, only letting his five senses wander, and his subconscious sinks deeper and deeper into memories.
Sometimes he wonders why he goes through with this, but…
It has become some sort of routine, to go through his unconscious, to relive moments, to learn and know that he is, somehow, still here, when he half expects himself to not be…
Tonight, a different set of lyrics enters his head. He gazes at the moon; for him, a full moon has always meant reminiscence, because a cycle has completed itself, and it is time to reflect before moving on.
But it doesn't matter. He does this with or without the moon, full or not.
His lips move and his voice carries faintly into the night and onto the streets below.
--- "Everybody's got something they had to leave behind… One regret from yesterday–"
This is his regret, then.
Always under the impression that as holder of the Sennen Puzzle, he is the one who had to do the "right thing", and in convincing himself so, he has won the duel, and let him slip by and on to the afterlife…
'I had a choice,' he thinks this again, miserably. 'If only… why couldn't my last bet be wrong? Why did you have to play Monster Reborn?' He interrupts his thoughts with a chuckle, an ironic thought having resurfaced. 'But that only proves how well I know you, didn't it…?'
--- "–that just seems to grow with time…"
'Two years… do you regret both of our decisions?'
--- "There's no use looking back or wondering, how it could be now or might have been…"
But he has.
The following weeks after the Ceremonial Duel he has looked over his shoulder many times everywhere – in either of their bedroom, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, in the living room, in the hallway, on his way to school, in school, at his desk, in the school courtyard, in the park – and has expected him to be standing there, smiling at him, for him, and him only.
Yet it is only the faces of his friends that stare back at him in concern.
'We were always together, side-by-side, never one without the other, and we've been to all those places…
'If I close my eyes I can see the two of us, but when they're open you're gone. I want to see; see and believe…'
--- "I never had a dream come true, till the day that I found you…"
'You brought me so much more than what I asked for…though sometimes I doubt if you have ever believed me when I say that. You were always so unconvinced that you were the greatest thing that ever happened in my life…
'You offered companionship when no one did; you offered confidence when I lacked it; you offered yourself as both a focus and a distraction, which, I still haven't quite forgiven you for…'
He laughs internally at that.
'Then you offered something even better; you and your promise of love, and that was all I needed in this lifetime…'
--- "Somewhere in my memory, I've lost all sense of time… And tomorrow can never be, 'cause yesterday is all that fills my mind…"
He watched – half amused, half exasperated – as a certain someone pressed his nose flat against the quickly fogging glass.
"Aibou, I can't see! What is this…mist on the window?"
"Well, if you'd just stop breathing on to the glass and take a step back, it'll become clearer."
The advice was taken and immediately there was a strangled cheer. He chuckled.
"And just what is so funny?" The tone was demanding.
Yuugi, deciding to be teasing for the day, stepped up next to the other. "…nothing."
"Uh huh." An undignified snort of disbelief, but the curiosity of seeing something as simple as snow was still there.
"Want to go outside?" He asked cheerfully, starting to tug the other towards the closet that hid their winter garments.
A widening of eyes, then – "But it's cold outside!"
"You won't be when you put your coat and scarf on," Yuugi insisted. "Please?" He added as an afterthought, adding huge eyes to amplify the effect.
"…all right." A sigh of resignation, and Yuugi grinned. "You're too evil to be my Light, you know that?" A ruffle of hair.
"You still love me."
"Ah, well, sometimes I wonder about that…" Apparently Yuugi was not the only one who had been infected with the teasing bug.
"Just joking, aibou." A quick and chaste kiss was planted on his lips, the kiss whispering 'sorry' and 'I love you' at the same time.
That was the magic between them.
Decked out in scarves, coats, gloves, and boots that didn't bother to disguise their well-kept figures, the two companions made their way outside and found themselves calf-deep in snow.
Yuugi left the other to stand and marvel at the falling white snowflakes while he crouched and scooped some into a sphere.
Giving a squeal, Yuugi took off towards the back of the house and to his delight the other followed. He felt his breaths pull up short and his pace slowed.
Darn winter and his endurance in this season.
He was subjected to a flying tackle; he twisted his body around so that he looked into his soul-mate's glittering (mischievously, he noted) eyes, all the while sporting a goofy grin. "All right, I give."
"You'd better." A scoff, but with an underlying trace of mirth.
It was silent except for their rather ragged breaths, which came in quick gasps. Slowly gravity took its toll on the upper boy and he had no choice but give way to nature. Both groaned at the contact.
Yuugi half expected a continuation, but it never came. Instead words were replaced by a pair of lips; warm, sweet, and devious ones that coaxed his mouth to open, and stole his permission to explore the cavern. His arms attached themselves to a familiar neck and tried to convince himself that there must be a way for their bodies to melt into one – right here, right now.
Something in his brain clicked.
"Wait, not here…"
"Why not?" A grunt, clearly displeased at the ill-timed interruption.
"Hey, don't let desire cloud your judgment," Yuugi scolded lightly. "It'd be a miracle if we don't get pneumonia or hypothermia if we decide to…get that far."
"'Get that far'? Well, well, well…" A rise of an eyebrow elegantly; something evil was brewing inside. Yuugi shivered. "Fine…you and your reasoning always have to make good sense. However, once we are inside…you will rue the day you stopped me now." A smirk that could have passed as the evillest grin Yuugi has ever seen, then he was tossed onto shoulders like a sack, his bottom awfully close to his partner's face.
He blushed, and wondered vaguely if his lips' fate would be any different inside or outside – they would probably be bruised with just the faintest hue of blue anyway.
--- "… All this I know but still I can't find ways to let you go…"
Yuugi smiles at the memory, along with many others that throw themselves at him.
They are endearing; they are heart-wrenching; they are raw.
They are forever etched in his mind.
--- "… Even though I pretend that I've moved on, you'll always be my baby…"
'Two years ago, just barely before I turned twenty, we had to duel, and I just had to win, didn't I?
'You came when I was a child, so my dream was realized.
'Did Fate meant for every adult to lose that one dream they've always wanted, or was this some cruel joke played on me?'
"Not…fair…" he mumbles, the song losing its rhythm.
The memory of Anzu's surprised voice echoes in his head: "But Yuugi! What's so good about her?! She's…not right for you!"
And just as vaguely, he hears his own retaliation scream back: "Just leave me be, Anzu!"
"I won't! You don't even know what you're doing!"
"Yes I do! I'm going out with a girl, as any normal guy would do at this age. What's wrong with that?"
"What's wrong? I'll tell you what's wrong! You're lying to yourself and you know it! While we may not be attending the same universities, Yuugi Motou, I know you! Those pictures you've sent me and those times we hung out with her around…it's all wrong! Your smile's forced! Your body's tense! There's nothing that shows me that you're completely at ease with your 'girlfriend'!"
"But I do love her!" Yuugi desperately tried to cling on to his reason before Anzu tore it apart entirely. "What would you know?" The words came out before he could stop them.
Anzu stopped, blinked, then returned a small scowl. Her voice dropped from her previous shouts, yet just as dangerous. "What would I know? What would I know? I'll tell you…
"I admit that, yes, I have liked both of you before. But they were crushes – symptoms of blushing, heart beating faster, butterflies in my stomach, legs quivering at the stares – I fooled myself into thinking it was love. Of course it wasn't love! But I managed to convince myself that one day, one of you will love me back, and I'll tell you that when you announced that you both got together, I was hurt. I was hurt that my childhood friend could do this to me, and that he managed to get the only other man I would've wanted…"
"Anzu… I didn—" It felt so awkward.
She shook her head. "No, it's not your fault, nor is it anyone else's. If anything, it's mine. I didn't realize it then, but I've always known that one day you guys would get together." She smiled a little. To Yuugi's surprise there was no trace of bitterness; a little regret, perhaps, but no resentment. It made him squirm. "And as time passed, I found myself healing. I could deal with it…
"Because it wasn't true love."
Yuugi sat patiently and waited for his friend to continue. A little bit of his reason peeled away and exposed his vulnerability a little more.
"So then we come to university," Anzu wiped a few of her persistent auburn bangs away from her azure eyes. They seemed to sparkle a bit. "And…I met him. I went through the same symptoms I experienced when I had crushes on you guys, but this time, I knew it wasn't some silly school girl crush. I just…somehow knew. But then…
"We broke up after a month and I was so shocked and devastated. I tried not to think about him, I tried to go on with my work and my education, but it was so difficult, Yuugi. It was like a constant jab in the ribs, reminding me everyday of all the times we spent together in that short month." She shook her head when Yuugi opened his mouth. "No, don't apologize. There's no need."
She looked out the window, absently stirring her coffee. She continued.
"I wondered if it was my problem, or was it his? I decided that it was both of ours…
"But then, another came into the picture and he had the time and patience to heal me, again. He's really nice and all, but…it was just never the same. We managed to make the relationship work, but…I didn't want to continue it anymore. Because it's just not the same. And he accepted that; we went back to being friends, and he was still happy about that. I'm glad I found another who understands…
"Don't you see, Yuugi? Deceiving yourself into thinking that you love your present girlfriend doesn't make anything better. It slows everything down and you'll end up hurting her. I'm sure you wouldn't and would never attempt to," Anzu said quickly, just as her companion opened his mouth to protest. Cut off, again. "But sometimes, that's what will happen, and you'll feel guilty. Don't live with guilt over something that you could've prevented, Yuugi…
"I know you'll need time to think about what I've said and what you'll do," Anzu said quietly. "You…" she faltered for the first time. "You do remember how you felt when he was here, don't you? And as a bystander in something I myself have experienced, I kn…just, it isn't true love." She hesitated and stood up. "I have to go now, Yuugi, I have to get back to finish my paper. I'll meet up with you another day, all right, with Jounouchi and the others?"
He didn't reply. He didn't acknowledge the scraping of her chair on the granite floor, or the sudden breeze as the door opened. He was staring at his cup of coffee, eyes starting to sting, and ears ringing with a single phrase:
"It isn't true love."
--- "You'll always be the dream that fills my head…"
'I've spent a lot of time chasing after you, and I guess in that weird obsession to be like you I didn't realize after that I didn't want to be like you… I wanted to be with you…
'And no one could have taken your place, even if they tried…'
--- "…You'll always be the one I know I'll never forget…"
'Anzu was right…'
--- "…I just can't say goodbye… no no no n…"
His voice cracks and so does his resolve to hold his tears at bay. All pretences fall away as the song faded and blended with the silence outside. He has been told by him, even he himself has promised to be strong, and he is trying; he tries and tries but always, he ends up like this…
Snivelling, vision growing blurry, eyelashes clumping together, tears falling and marring, what he claimed, a beautiful face…
"You're beautiful when you cry, aibou," he breathed. "They're like crystals that only angels are capable of giving."
But they are just tears cascading down his cheeks like a child… a child…
There's nothing beautiful about a crying child.
That's what he is: a child stuck in a body that doesn't even look remotely like 22 years old.
"But—" Yuugi hiccoughed. He shushed him.
"Shh, my angel, we'll let this all out at once. Once you've stopped crying I'll be able to see the most stunning colour on the rainbow."
Yuugi blinked and hiccoughed again. "A—a rainbow?"
"Yes," he smiled. "Just like when the sun shines after a shower, through the raindrops light is split into seven colours, and the seventh colour is always the most unique.
"Indigo… it is the most exquisite shade that I see in your eyes, and they shine even more after they've shed tears."
'But the light…where is it? I can't seem to find it tonight…'
Yuugi blushed. He started in a small voice, "But what if…if…" He hesitated.
"If you're not here one day when I cry, how do I…?" Yuugi asked quietly, not quite meeting his eyes, question not quite asked, but he understood anyway.
"Look inside your heart, aibou. Am I not always there?"
"Oh!" Yuugi threw his arms around his neck and new tears splashed through.
"Now, aibou, what did we just say about crying?"
'How…silly of me to forget,' Yuugi's lips form a watery smile. 'The light…yes, I think…tonight's enough.'
As he climbs off the ledge and exits the room, he feels a smile directed at him. He does not look back though; he does not need to, because his recollections have reassured him for the night.
"Good night, Yami," he whispers into the darkness of his room.
And the smile lingers, watching over him until he is sound asleep.
Night is, a time for parents to put their children in their place by scaring them with fairytale creatures; a time for strolls in the park with someone who has a special place in the other's heart; a time for rest, reassurance, comfort, and safety in homes.
But for him, night is a time when he faces his past; a time of reminiscences, soft bitter smiles, and the odd feeling of relief afterwards.
Yes, Yuugi Motou is anything but ordinary.
- Owari -
Authoress Notes: Okay, that took a weird turn that I didn't really see. Fic just kind of went off on a tangent at the end there, I'm sorry.
The entire song isn't written out, due to ff(dot)net's no-song-fics policy. (shrugs) So I only picked the "crucial" phrases that emphasized each "section" I wanted to get across. Song credit at beginning of fic!
Um, read and review, please? n.n;