Author's Note: I apologize for both the abrupt ending of The Proud and Bitter Crown, and also the strange, rather mangled way that this story takes up right where the first
monstrocity ended. I've written and rewritten it several times, and this is about the best version that I can hack so far. To update those who don't have the time,
inclination or desire to read through the first installment, (dang, that sounds pretentious!) Yami was killed off by Yugi, (sort of since he was technically dead, anyway,
and has been ressurected...to reside in poor Seto Kaiba's head. I am not sure if this will be an angst, humor, or pathetic fic, but I have a nagging suspicion it will be
a toxic mix of all three. God forgive me, and bless you.
One thing you will probably notice is that my chapters are getting shorter, and shorter, and more sparse. I hope that is a welcome change. I am open to any
critism to make sure my writing doesn't suck as much as I fear! And, to clarify, this chapter is where Yami is first put in Seto's mind...geeze, that just sounds wrong...
It was the breaking, the fragmenting, and the equally cleansing, hurting recreating from the same Hands that spewed for the stars
from the abyss, and the world from gently flung dust.He remembered little of the reformation of spirit to mind, of the memories
being poured out in all their weavings to form him for the last time. All he remembered of the strange abyss was the comforting serenity, the womblike
dark, and the shock and the abrupt searing as he was heaved out into the waiting world again, with a scream, and a tear.
The last remnants of who he was still lingered in his depths an unseen ocean that churned across his heart, and the eternal scars that now graced his spirit
still echoed in throbbing pain of what was once.The faded, jagged slash that still adorned his throat only ached in reminder, rather than screamed in futile
anguish. It was a welcome change, had he the cognition to really notice. Awareness slowly trickled back with the instinctive, but unnecessary act of breath.
Eyes opened with the depths of the first sunrise of creation's glory, to blink in languid peace. Yami's breath was slight, as he he groaned, twisted, and
flinched at both the shattering dismay of both his surroundings, and jubilation that he had not been cast back into the shadows, again.
Instinctively, he shivered, though his temporal form was far behind him, and he did not understand the strange memories of flesh and its sensations
that still made him mimic many of the same actions in life. They were dearly familiar, even if no longer necessary. There was something both liberating and
terrifying of being with a body.
He gazed around, trying to find a foothold in the reality that everything had been altered once again. He groaned and shook himself with a sigh of bitter resignation.
It was obvious from both the lack of vicious intention directed at him, or the shining golden bricks, that he was no longer in the Puzzle.
No, the walls around him were of dark velvet, and fire, radiating hostility,well-disguised turmoil, and over everything, a sheen of diamond hard ice, shimmering
in veneer, and guarding the small sliver of fear and fragility beneath.
Yami hesitantly probed a wall with outstretched fingers, and pulled them back with a yelp. To his horror, the velvet shifted, and the bright eyed dragon revealed
displayed fangs in a hissed warning, and retreated only when Yami stepped backwards. With an eerily satisfied look, the dragon wafted almost lazily back
into the shadows, calmly as a fish might submerge in water. From both the familiar sensation of being trapped in a magical binding prison, and the alien
sense that he was outside of a being, but looking inward, Yami was able to surmise with a gulp of frantic thought that he was in another soul room.
Clearly, it wasn't the Puzzle, Yami realized, as his limbs went slack in wonder and relief before his spine stiffened reflexively in alarm again.There was no radiating peace,
and there was no indication of who Yami inhabited now.
With a grunt of frustration, Yami sat down heavily, wondering if he should make his presence known, and then stopped himself from screaming in despair.
Thoughts, cruel as blades, and hungry to hurl him back into the darkness began their ravaging attack on his heart, as he shivered in pitying misery.
He was yet again trapped in another person's mind. He had no way of knowing who, or where this person might be, or what the results would be should
he choose to manifest himself in whatever world lay outside the confines of the vessle's mind.
And after seeing the decay of Yugi...
Yami buried his throbbing skull in shaking hands, as he let the tears fall without any attempt to wipe them away. To be subjected to the torture of being stabbed
and bleeding at the hands of Seth almost shattered what little hope he reserved for redemption in anybody. But to see Yugi's snarl of satisfaction as Yami's life was
ground out of existance with no more regard than an annoying cockroach? Was this the world that he had bled, and suffered and died-twice for, now?
For one insane moment, Yami wished with all his heart that he still had the Puzzle around, if only to have the ready excuse for all the horror he endured was
just another attempt of the Puzzle to break him. Yami just curled up again, in helplessness. It was getting all too familiar for him to lose everything, he thought
with a despairing groan...
The involuntary flinch that made the left side of his face twitch in sudden anguish completely blindsided Seto, both from the sudden onslaught of the unexpected emotion,
but also the most bizzarre urge to sob. Seto shuddered with a grunt, and mastered the unexpected sensation with an indifferent shift of his position to signal his boredom,
as he waved impatiently for the usual corporate drones to finish their worshipping blather so he could go home and actually accomplish something.
When he actually felt the tear leek down his cheek, he clapped a horrified hand over it, and hastily scraped it away, with a snarled demand for a tissue, because
"something got caught in his eye."
For one terrible, humiliating moment, Seto thought he heard an unwise minion chuckle at his embarrassment, as he rounded on all of them with his characteristic
fierceness, and rose to his full, intimidating height to give them both an eye and an earful with the roaring retort of, "If I am shedding any tears, it's only because you've succeeded in boring me to them! Get to the point, and then get out of my office!"
He was rewarded by seeing them slink away with their heads cowed, and their tails between their legs like the worthless, cringing dogs he always thought them to be...
Seto heaved a deep sigh of relief that the pointless business meeting had concluded and his annoyances had left him in peace, but was not so pleased to realize that
the tears were still leaking down his face, no matter how much he gave himself an internal snarl session, or tried to distract him. There was no eye irritation, nothing
wrong with his mood. He felt as irritated and out of sorts as usual, but neither one of them had ever made him weep before...and it scared him.
Seto Kaiba prided himself on several things, but chief among them was both his absolute control over himself, and his mastery of his own innerworkings, despite what happened in the world around him. He did not glide through life, or bother himself side-stepping pretension.
If other people didn't like it, they could deal with it, and leave him the hell alone, thank you.
So, when he heard voices in his head, he simply downed an extra glass of wine, with a couple of
sedatives that he took when he couldn't sleep, figuring that the stress of KaibaCorps, and the
weight of the rest of his numerous responsibilities were simply getting the best of him. He blew off the terror with a forced shrug, met Yami's
echoing screams in the confines of his skull with so much resistance that Yami felt like he literally smashing a fist against a brick wall.
It was truly unnerving for poor Kaiba to be subjected to so much misery that wasn't his own...