Yu-Gi-Oh!, in all its various incarnations, was created by Kazuki Takahashi and is collectively owned/distributed by this aforementioned creator, Shueisha, Toei Animation, NAS, VIZ Media, 4KIDS Entertainment, and numerous others worldwide. The individual hiding behind the pen name olesia.love is not affiliated with any of these individuals or organizations, named or not, and any of the viewpoints expressed within this fan work should not be construed to be in any way endorsed by any of the legal owners of Yu-Gi-Oh! This fan work does not attempt to infringe heavily upon the rights of these owners.
And who knows - maybe in 2090, someone will wind up writing a ridiculously popular Yu-Gi-Oh! AU that winds up not only getting published, but also gets turned into a Broadway Musical with a happy romantic ending. It happened with The Wizard of Oz, after all.
Happy Valentine's Day. Yes. Happy.
There was nothing Yuugi hated more than water. He couldn't stand the rain, which always screwed up his hair and ruined whatever he was reading, and he'd always drop and irrevocably damage his books and playing cards in the leftover puddles. He'd never had a positive experience at a swimming pool, the one time he went to a hot spring he was robbed, and both times he went to the beach he wound up with ruined clothing and, making it one of Yuugi's 'worst days ever,' a bruise on his head from where someone's neglected child had dropped a shovel upon his hiding form.
He wasn't even particularly comfortable with showers (not since early adolescence, and its two straight weeks of shampoo in the eyes), which was probably why his were only half as long as his roommate's; this conveniently saved them a ton of money on utilities, which was an added bonus.
Yuugi wasn't afraid of the water; he just hated it.
So the reason as to why he had agreed to coming with his roommate to a lakeside cabin in the middle of nowhere was convoluted, long-winded, and involved two fires, a trans-gender beauty competition, a tourist, and an ill-timed game of Mah Jong. Not a moment had gone by since Yuugi's harried surrender did he not regret agreeing to this idiocy.
"Lighten up, Yuugi. It's not like I'm going to drag you out fishing or anything." When Yuugi lifted two tackle boxes out of the back of the truck at the statement, raising his eyebrow, Honda only laughed, taking two of their suitcases into the cabin proper. "Well, I didn't say I wouldn't try."
They'd arrived two days ago now, and Honda hadn't even touched the tackle boxes; he'd been spending most of his time hunting game birds in the back woods. (Yuugi had, understandably, declined going with, claiming that he didn't want Honda to get confused over what type of game he was hunting. Honda knew it was because Yuugi was squeamish around the dead-and-dying, even if he was always really excited about eating those same dead things later.)
Having exhausted his supply of batteries for his handheld games, bored, and not particularly wanting to get shot, Yuugi went on a walk around the lake.
The area was beautiful, he had to admit; every tree and flower seemed ancient, as though he had wandered into a storybook from his childhood. The way the sunlight filtered through the aged canopy, the quiet cacophony of insects and smaller beasts: these struck Yuugi as slightly magical, and he was sure that if he came across a fairy ring, or demon spirits in these woods, he wouldn't be surprised.
So, when someone called out to him, he wasn't.
"Please," came the voice softly, a susurrus in the quiet forest, "will you help me?"
Yuugi had wandered into a secluded copse, the wood no darker but appearing ages older than even the ancient trees Yuugi had already passed. The voice, though, had not come from some forest sprite or a hidden wood nymph; it came from the water.
This inlet of water seemed to have long been isolated from the rest of the lake, for the thick layer of scum on its surface was almost an unbroken green. Had the water not been rippling and displacing the algae, Yuugi would have described it as 'blanketed.'
In the middle of this pond, at the source of the ripples, there stood a young man about Yuugi's age. Where he was not dripping algae from breeching the green, his skin was a chilled pale. Yuugi couldn't tell for sure from the distance, but he thought the other man's skin might be covered in goose-bumps. His hair was dark and polluted, and he had what looked like seaweed hanging down to frame his face instead of bangs. Yuugi thought momentarily that, if the other's hair were clean and dry, it might look like Yuugi's own dark crown of spikes.
Yuugi turned fully to the lake and the man therein, but did not approach the water's shallow edge.
"Please," repeated the man, plaintive and sad, "will you help me? It's so cold in here."
Yuugi could not help but feel entranced by that sorrow, but even the intense stare of the other could not overcome Yuugi's fear of the water. Hate. He meant hate.
Yuugi shook his head, extending his hand in a gesture that mimicked the other. "Why don't you come out of the water?" he asked kindly, "I'm staying in a cabin not too far from here, and—"
The distressed note of panic in Honda's distant call made Yuugi turn to the noise, startled. "Honda-kun?!" He called, starting to leave the copse, but hesitated a moment to look to the water.
If not for the rippling of the algae, Yuugi might have thought he imagined the other man; without further hesitation, Yuugi ran to find his injured friend.
Yuugi was obviously insane.
It was the following day: Honda was still sleeping off his run-in with a sharp stick, and Yuugi was obviously crazy, even if his dream the night before had been haunted by the stranger he'd refused to help just because the man was standing in some water.
The copse of ancient trees was easy to find, and the algae-covered water was quintessentially the same as it had been before.
"You came back," said the man, and Yuugi did not approach the water. Nothing had changed in the man's appearance from the previous day, save his expression, which was now merely curious. "I didn't think you would."
Yuugi nodded, stepping slightly closer, but not at all close, to the water's edge. "I… I'm sorry," said Yuugi, trying not to stare, "I didn't mean to—" He flinched, and bit his tongue. Shaking his head, and calling himself an idiot for the twelfth time that day, Yuugi shrugged off his favorite leather jacket, taking another cautious step towards the water.
Without giving himself time to think, Yuugi flung his coat out over the water and quickly retreated to a safer distance. The leather made a dull flop on the water, but did not have time to sink beneath the algae screen. Even as the man lifted the now slightly wet jacket, he seemed perplexed.
"You said you were cold," said Yuugi, ignoring the flush on his own cheeks, "it's waterproof a bit, so it'll help keep the chill out, and—" Yuugi bit his lip, grimacing. What was it about the man in the water that made him babble like an idiot? The man lifted the coat, now itself partially stained green, and surprise colored his pale features.
"It's warm," he said, his voice soft with wonder, hugging the material to his bare chest.
Yuugi tried not to think about how much that jacket had cost, and hoped he hadn't left anything important in the pockets.
"No one's ever been this nice to me before," said the man, and with a start Yuugi realized the other man was smiling; it was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen, and he wasn't even sure why. His heart thudded painfully in his chest, and he felt his cheeks turn red. "Th—"
"Don't mention it," said Yuugi, much too loudly, his face burning red, staggering backward a step. "I— I just remembered, I have to, to, to go! I—"
Yuugi had continued backpedaling, and thus should not have been surprised when he stumbled into a tree root; though he did not fall, he did flail to maintain his balance (and any dignity he may have had was surely lost). Now red for entirely different reasons, Yuugi's farewell was incomprehensible to his own ears, and again he ran away.
And yet, he was back out by the lake the next morning, having left early in the predawn light, bundled in Honda's coat. The man in the water was just as surprised by this turn of events as Yuugi.
"You keep coming back," he said, looking obscenely sexual in Yuugi's unfastened leather jacket, everything wet and covered with green (and Yuugi did not just think that!). "Why?"
Yuugi seated himself on one gnarled and mossy tree root several feet away from the edge of the water, and he shrugged.
"I… I don't think I can help you," admitted Yuugi, staring at his own hands and willing the flush from his cheeks; "but… it must be lonely out here, waiting for someone who can."
The man in the water watched Yuugi curiously, obviously perplexed, but after a moment he nodded. "Yes," he admitted, "it is that. Lonely."
There was a long moment of silence – thirty seconds, at least, of nothing save the gentle lapping of the lake water settling against the shore, until—
"My name's Yuugi."
"Yuugi… it's a good name," said the man in the water, brushing his seaweed bangs from his eyes, and Yuugi's heart skipped in his chest. "I like it."
"You do?" asked Yuugi, too quickly, before amending, "You do. Well, thank—"
"Don't mention it," replied the man with a small little smile, and Yuugi laughed.
"Hey, that's no fair," he complained, grinning, "You haven't given me your name yet!"
The tiny smile on the other's face, as minuscule as it was, faded. "I'm sorry. I would tell you if I could, but… I don't remember what it is."
Yuugi's cheer dissipated like so much morning fog. "You don't remember your name?" he repeated, and the man in the water nodded, sinking so the lake's surface rose to his clavicles.
"I haven't needed it, so I…" he turned his gaze away, sinking further in the water with shame.
"I'm sorry I brought it up," Yuugi murmured, shoving his hands into Honda's coat's pockets, his fingers crinkling the many cellophane wrappers.
"It's not your fault," said the nameless man, his pale skin surprisingly flush considering the chill and his previous unflappability. Yuugi, however, was more focused on the mysterious contents of Honda's pockets.
"If you say so," said Yuugi, pulling out a handful of small candies, and he laughed shortly as he piled them in his lap. Looking across to the nameless man in the water, Yuugi picked up one of the yellow confections.
"Hey, I've some candy. Do you want some?" Yuugi nearly smacked himself for how bad that sounded, but the other had risen some from the water, and he no longer looked as morose.
"I'd love anything you're willing to give me, Yuugi," he said, and Yuugi's fingers twitched against the cellophane; how could the other do that to him so easily? Shivering for reasons unrelated to the morning chill, Yuugi leaned forward and with an ease brought on by too many hours spent beating supposedly rigged carnival games, he gave a short underhand toss and threw the butterscotch easily to the man in the water.
The other was surprisingly deft at unwrapping the candy, and he slowly slid the butterscotch passed his lips. The man winced, and Yuugi had half an apology out before he realized the man was making no moves to spit out the candy.
When he started humming, Yuugi's mouth went dry.
The man smiled, swaying a bit in the water, and after a moment gave what Yuugi could only describe as 'a giddy little spin.'
"Can I have another one, Yuugi?" he asked with a lilt in his voice, "I've missed the taste of sweets."
Yuugi nodded after a beat, and he spent the next hour emptying Honda's pockets. It wasn't until the sun was creeping into afternoon before Yuugi headed back to the cabin to remedy the fact that he hadn't eaten since the afternoon previous.
He was halfway through packing a full-out picnic before the reality of just what he was doing struck him, and he nearly sliced his hand open instead of chopping vegetables.
Oh, god, Yuugi realized with some amount of horror, I think I'm in love.
They were only supposed to have spent a week out at the lakeside cabin, but the reconstruction work at the apartment complex where Yuugi and Honda had lived before was still too far behind schedule, and staying at Honda's sister's cabin was much less expensive than trying to find another apartment before the insurance money came in, or renting a hotel.
Although they were roommates, Yuugi and Honda were not the closest of friends: Honda didn't know, or care overly much about, whatever it was that Yuugi was doing all day out in the woods, so long as it wouldn't result in Honda having to drive him three hours to the nearest hospital. Even though they were not close, Honda was still worried by the fact that, midway through their second week of stay, Yuugi had locked himself in the bathroom for six hours.
Honda hadn't even remembered Yuugi had "a thing" about water until the second hour in, when every few minutes he'd hear a splash, mild cursing, and feet scrambling on the wood floor. After the fourth of these, Honda had, like any decent person, told Yuugi to stop trying to kill himself, please?
By the seventh hour, Yuugi was able to sit down in the surprisingly deep bathtub with the lukewarm water up to his chest for a full eight minutes before he had to get out. This was a vast improvement from the first hour, when he couldn't even stand the water covering his feet.
Perhaps if Honda had known the extent of Yuugi's aquaphobia, he would have been suitably worried.
"The place is all fixed up," Yuugi said softly, his toes skimming through the pond scum. He sat on a large, mossy rock right on the water's edge, and the algae clung to his toes. "So Honda-kun and I're going to head home tomorrow morning."
There was a crackling of cellophane at the pronouncement: unable to get the wrappers onto the shore, the nameless man had fashioned the several dozen semitransparent squares into a thin, gold diadem that crinkled when he scowled. The noise somewhat ruined the effect.
"That… it will be very lonely without you, Yuugi." The man said, after a long pause.
Yuugi started at his partially green feet. "I… will you forget me?"
There was a shallow ripple against Yuugi's feet; the other had sunk into the water partway, and Yuugi knew he had stricken a nerve.
"I do not wish to," he said, softly, "but I do not recall much. My life is long, my memory short. It may be inevitable."
Yuugi kicked into the water. "I wouldn't forget you," he murmured, his tone somewhat petulant, but his anger dispelled rapidly. "I'm sorry that I said that. It's not your fault. I—"
"Yuugi," said the man, but he shook his head, "don't—"
"I don't want to leave yet," he said very quickly, staring at his feet, as white and as green as the exposed flesh of the other's chest. "I… I don't want to go back to work and school and not enough sleep and too much noise and—"
"And I don't want you to forget me."
Yuugi said nothing more after that, trailing his feet slowly through the water, sending ripples to the nameless man who sent them back softly by his mere presence in the water, like sonar. They did not speak for a long time, and the cries of the hidden animal life in the distance seemed to take notice of their quiet and receded, leaving Yuugi and the nameless man with only the rustling wind and the lapping water.
Minutes passed in near silence, until finally the nameless man brushed the seaweed from his eyes and just stared at Yuugi intently.
"Why do you want to stay, Yuugi?" he asked in a quiet voice, and the sound itself seemed to ripple through the water, vibrating into Yuugi's body through his toes, and Yuugi shook at the sound. He turned his gaze and met those dark eyes, closer now than Yuugi had ever seen them.
Oh, god, thought Yuugi, I'll never love anyone else in my life.
"Why don't you want to go home?"
His hands tried to grip the moss on the rock, but the stone beneath did not yield. Yuugi's mouth went dry as the other stared at him, his eyes dark and hooded, the water from his thick, black hair dripping onto Yuugi's leather jacket, looking better waterlogged on this man than it ever had on Yuugi. With a shudder, Yuugi bowed his head.
"I… I w-want to stay with you," he said weakly; the worry in his chest seemed to lessen in weight, and Yuugi looked up with a smile. "I won't let you forget me. I want to stay. I want to stay with you."
The nameless man in the water closed his eyes, a tiny little smile tugging at his lips. "I would like that," he said, rising from the water until the green of the algae was lapping at his waist, and Yuugi's body gave a not-unpleasant clench at the sight of all that white, wet skin. "I would like anything you'd ever give me, Yuugi."
Yuugi slid from the rock, and the water rose to his ankles. The gritty soil beneath his feet was weak, and he sank into the muck easily, but he squelched a step forward. Again, again, he moved forward, muckraking through the thick, muddy lake soil as he went. With each step the water crept higher and higher on his body, flooding up his pant legs with water and dirt and the slime of the disturbed soil.
The water was too cold, and it climbed too fast – Yuugi was still several feet from the man in the water, and already the water was to his waist. There was no sign of the ground leveling off.
Yuugi stopped, panic seizing through him. "I d-don't think… I c-can't do this, I—"
"Yuugi," he whispered, the pain in the word like a whip of ice, curling around Yuugi, and he gasped, jerking back. There was a raw desperation in those dark, bloodshot eyes. "Please," he whispered, a hitch in his voice, "please. It's so cold. Lonely."
Yuugi's breathing quickened, a note shy of hyperventilation, and when he tried inhaling deeply his lower jaw quivered behind his closed mouth. Biting down with intense resolve, Yuugi clenched his eyes shut as he kicked off of the slope beneath him. After a moment of elevation he sank back down through the algae screen, and he could feel the pond scum clinging to his eyelashes and his face, water surrounding him, surrounding him, and he couldn't see, he couldn't breathe, he couldn't hear anything except the pressure of the water in his ears.
Terrified, Yuugi flailed in the water, shaking out of Honda's heavy and oversized coat and scrabbling desperately for the surface. He gasped for air, struggling to stay afloat, his eyes clenched shut against the algae. Oh, god, why had he thought this was a good idea? His heart was going to explode out of his chest, it was too cold, too wet, too much, too much, too much—
Strong hands grasped at Yuugi, clutching him firmly under his bare elbows, and he felt himself being lifted, being dragged upwards through the water, and Yuugi's hands grasped desperately at those stable arms. The hands were cold, and the leather jacket was waterlogged and covered in algae, but Yuugi could think of no better life preserver than this. Yuugi choked down lungful after lungful of delicious, clean air, but kept his eyes clenched shut against the wetness and the algae on his face, and focused all of his attention on the feel of air moving through his throat so he wouldn't have to think about the grit and the water soaking him, chilling him to the bone, gnawing—
"Yuugi…" the word was a whisper, low and husky, and Yuugi felt his body being pulled flush against that of the nameless man. Without hesitation Yuugi exchanged his grip on the other's arms for a tight, death-grip embrace around the other's torso, fisting his hands into his former jacket. Yuugi tried to steady his breathing, steady his racing, erratic pulse, but he couldn't – he was getting dizzy, he couldn't breathe, no matter how many breaths he took or how quickly he swallowed them down he couldn't get enough air in his lungs. The water was lapping against him like a tongue, and ohgod it was going to swallow him down, down, down into the darkness and the cold and the wet and Yuugi's body was shaking even as he felt the other man's cold fingers gently wiping the pond scum from his eyes.
"You're so warm, Yuugi. So warm…" The cold, life-saving hand cupped against Yuugi's face and he gasped at the chill, at the wet, and Yuugi blearily opened his eyes. It was hard to focus on the other's face – it felt like his eyes were trembling within his skull – but he was so close that Yuugi could smell the butterscotch on his breath.
The cold hand slid across his cheek like seaweed, and clammy fingers combed into Yuugi's wet, limp hair at the base of his skull, other's other arm moving to grip Yuugi in a hug. Yuugi tried focusing his mind on the feel of the other's body, on the way his heart would skip when the other man looked at him kindly, or smiled, or said his name, but the water, the water, the water—
Cold lips pressed against Yuugi's own, wet and tasting of sugar and scum, and Yuugi pressed against the other tighter. Yes, yes, Yuugi thought, his nails digging into the leather jacket, focus on this, think about this, nothing else, no one else.
The nameless man's grip on Yuugi tightened in return, a quiet sound rumbling from his throat as he opened his jaw, deepening, intensifying the kiss. Like a wave it overpowered Yuugi, and the other's candy-sweetened tongue was pressing against, pressing into Yuugi's mouth as though trying to drink him down.
Yuugi tried to gasp for breath, but the other's mouth was too strong upon his own, and breathing through his nose wasn't enough, wasn't enough—Yuugi tried pushing away, trying to breathe, but the hands on him were like iron, like steel, even as the one moved under his shirt, sending a fresh wave of water onto his back, and the other's fingers were digging into his flesh to the point of bruising.
Yuugi tried kicking, tried pushing, tried screaming that he couldn't breathe, there wasn't enough air, but the other just moaned into his mouth, nearly grinding against him. Yuugi wanted to react, wanted this to feel as good as he knew it could, but he couldn't, not while the water was against him, cold and gnawing, and climbing, and climbing, and—
Yuugi screamed into the other's mouth as the water overtook them, pond scum clinging to his face, to his eyes again, the water weaving its sinister way into his hair, and Yuugi had been right that the other's hair would look like his, but Yuugi couldn't breathe. He kicked at the other, thrashing, his arms now between them trying to knock the other away, but it was no use; the other was too strong.
He was pushed down, down in the water, his heart ready to explode in his chest, and he felt the squelch as he was pushed into the lakebed. The other man still held tight to him, kissing Yuugi with the fervor of a desperate lover, and Yuugi's lungs were burning, burning in his chest, and he couldn't see, he couldn't think, and everything was getting fuzzy, shaky, dark. His limbs weren't responding when he tried pushing or kicking the other, and even when Yuugi tried sucking the air out of the other's lungs his own still burned, and Yuugi's shakes were calming down because he didn't have the strength to keep them up anymore, and what would Honda think when he found out?
His grip on Yuugi still tight, forceful, the nameless man pulled away from the kiss with a kind smile, full of love and adoration that made Yuugi's heart thud painfully in his chest (or was it the suffocation doing that?).
"Yuugi," the other whispered, just as audible here as he had been above the surface, and Yuugi couldn't fight back anymore, the darkness creeping in his vision like water encroaching on a sponge. Yuugi closed his eyes, his arms sinking in the water as the nameless man laid kiss after kiss on Yuugi's face, gentle and kind and so, so cold.
And before Yuugi slipped unconscious, he heard and understood the other's words, though now they were little comfort (even if his heart did skip a beat at the utterance, and skip, and skip, and then stop all together):
"I love you, Yuugi, I won't forget you, ever. I promise, I promise, I promise."