Disclaimer: I do not own anything that comes from the series Yugioh. Though I do own the plot of this story which is the main component of the hundreds of headaches I've been subjected to so far.

Chapter 3: Of Speechlessness

They ran in the sun bronzed open hallway, through the garden, through the pond fields, through the inner gates of the Pharaoh quarter, ran for fifteen minutes straight without either of them saying a word, leaving behind a gaggle of shocked and bewildered courtiers and priests. They were a far way away from the Throne Room where just minutes ago he made his spectacular entrance to the royal court. He had no idea why they were running in the first place, but there was something breathless in the pit of his chest, a sense of urgency, of… panic… that had him following the Pharaoh without question.

When they finally reached… wherever it was that Ya… Atem… wanted to go to, Yugi was out of breath and light in the head. Man but he was out of shape. He stood there, not quite sure what was expected of him as the man… the other half of his soul if Shadi was to be believed… turned around to face him.

He looked… God… he looked just like Yami. He was Yami… in a way, but not really. The skin was tan whereas it should have been pale. The plane of the face, the jaw, the angles of his body, the calluses on his hand. Little differences that no one but Yugi would have noticed, for the simple fact that they shared a body for years. The eyes were the same color but… Yami's always looked… old and lost. Despite how confident he always appeared, there was always that slight flicker of uncertainty in the corner of his eyes. And there was an indescribable sadness that never truly left.

This… younger version of him… lacked that same vulnerability, though he was twice as assured as the thousand years old Yami was.

The Pharaoh stood before a set of ornate closed off bronzed door. With his gaze still on Yugi, he laid one hand on the door, pushed. The gates opened with a groan and through them, Yugi saw the greenlit garden and single ivory pavillion inside.

"Come…" He said, squeezing their still interlocked hands and led him in.

"No one is allowed in here. Except for me… well, us now." He said as they walked the winding path that led from the door, through fields of celosia and rows of sycamores, to the pavillion. Yugi could feel his hand shaking.

The pharaoh was nervous, but then, so was he. "You can be… anyone you want to be here. You can be yourself here."

He sat down on the pavillion bench, slightly dazed at the implications of Atem's honest statement. As he sat there, watching, the pharaoh buzzed around the pavillion like a busy bee. There were cupboards beneath the benches and from them he took out cups, an iced pitcher, and several different types of fruits, and set about pouring them both something to drink.

What do I say to him? He thought as he watched Atem go along the motion of one who was pretending to be busy as he worked out his own thoughts. What do I say to this man who is the dearest person to me yet a complete stranger at the same time?

Aside from the still very vivid recalling of 'The Memory World Atem' in the last leg of his journey with Yami, Yugi knew little else about this flesh and blood pharaoh… little that he did not learn from a slab of rock that is.

If he were honest to himself, Yugi half expected to be in an interrogation room by now, or at the very least at the receiving ends of a barrage of pointed questions whose consequences of a failure to answer he probably wouldn't want to know. Questions such as…

Who are you?

Why do you look like me? What sorcery is this?

How do you know my priest's names?

Where did you come from?

Why are you here for?

The kind of questions people of eras past would ask a time traveller upon his … very much unplanned and unforeseen… arrival. The kind of questions that would be pitched in a sci-fi show. The Whovian kind.

Then all of a sudden he had a cold cup in his hand, and the object of his thoughts was sitting down on a carved wooden armchair right across from him. He stared at Yugi, quiet, opened his mouth as if he wanted to say something, then closed it without saying anything. The emotions flickered on his face, too fast to read. He brought his own cup to his mouth, drank from it as if to wash away the nervousness, then finally the words came out.

"I… had hoped to introduce you to the court in a much less conspicuous manner. They are a suspicious lot, and prone to thinking the worst of strangers. I feared that without prior notice, that would have proved disadvantageous to you. I did not want to expose them to you so soon." He said, smiling weakly in an attempt to break the ice. "But I guess that works too."

Yugi swallowed. Something raised in his chest, bubbled, threatened to overflow. He put his own cup to his mouth and keep it there, ashamed and afraid. Sweet ambrosia caressed his lips but if he swallowed, he was afraid he might just choke. His face felt strangely hot as he endured his counterpart's gaze in the awkward silence.

A simple thing like talking should not be this hard between them. They were brothers of the same soul, fragments of one spirit. They shared a body once and once upon a time he couldn't go a day without feeling Yami's presence in his life. But something held his mouth. The distance of many years between them. The distance of their abrupt separation. The distance of his own self-imposed isolation and the drowning speechlessness that had become his life back in modern day Japan and Egypt.

After Yami, life had lost… a little something. Something he couldn't quite put a name to. After so long of being a duo in his own mind, the sudden return of singularity left him reeling. His friends didn't understand. His grandfather might have, but the sight of Solomon Mutou filled him with more memories of a past that would not come back, and then shortly after, even the old man had left him.

The distance of knowing that even leaving his life behind, going thousands of years into the past did not truly return… and would, in fact, never return... the Yami he knew and loved to him.

The cruel truth that this was a stranger wearing Yami's skin sitting before him.

Then suddenly the silence was broken.

"You don't have to say anything." Said the stranger but not really stranger, his voice quiet and oddly calm. "My… father…, to save me from my weakness and his own foolish mistake, struck you from my soul and sent you far away where you were left to fend for yourself. I could never imagine the life you had there, the magics and wonders of a future that I could only dream of, and what you had to leave behind to return to me."

His hands gave a tiny shake. He put his cup down on the table between them, the movement of his hand slow and restrained, as if he himself was afraid. Then he reached out, slowly, tentatively, and took Yugi's free hand into his own. Then he held it there with his head downcast.

"I could never ask anything more of you. There is nothing that you need to tell me, nothing to explain. You have given me enough by being here. You have given me everything I have ever wanted for the last ten years. A brother. A kindred spirit. Someone who sacrificed his own life for me." He said to their interlinked hands. "I would never dare ask anything more of you. But if I have a wish..."

He paused then, and, still not looking at Yugi's face. The hands tightened their grip, then he said at last. "... but if I have a wish, and if Gods above see fit to grant me yet one more selfish desire, I wish… that you would never leave me again."

He paused again for a moment, and, in a trembling voice that could have come from a fearful child, he continued.

"I wish… that you would stay by my side forever." Now the words came pouring out, heaved with great difficulty but with ever quickening need from his chest, his throat, his mouth. "I wish… that you would love me… and me alone… for the rest of your life. And if Gods above see fit to grant me my selfish wish, then I will never wish for anything else for the rest of my life."

He looked up, eye to eye with Yugi. His face was pale, bloodless, as if he had bled out till he was near death, yet still the words keep coming. "Take my riches from me. Take my crown from me. Take my name and my honor from me. Give me pain and death. But if Gods above would only grant me my selfish wish… then I would willingly and joyfully take all the suffering that Meretseger has to offer, and I would never… ever… beg for her mercy."

Then he fell quiet and between them were only the sounds of the trees and the afternoon wind.

End Chapter 3

Hi guys! Long time no see. It's been… 6 years… since the last time I posted a chapter to Paradox if I remember correctly. It was in… April of 2008. Really really long time.

1/ Yes, this is the official return of Paradox. I will now restart my work on Paradox alongside my current running series

2/ The revival of Paradox is due to the many extremely loyal readers that I probably don't deserve who kept on hounding, begging, pleading, coercing, bargaining, threatening me for new updates and status years after years after years. You guys are one obsessed bunch I can give you that. I really don't know what I did right (or wrong…) that give me fans like you… but I'm thankful all the same. If it weren't for you (and you know who you are), this series would never have seen the light of day again.

3/ This is a very short chapter I know. Before you cry out at the injustice of it all, please understand that it has been an incredibly long time for me. My initial plan for Paradox is a huge one, with definite arcs and storylines that will see Yugi participating in the politics of ancient Egypt, get taken hostage, lead a revolutionary, become a god in the eye of the Egyptians (but not really. He's just our sweet ol simple Yugi), etc… But that plan was 6 years ago and whatever drafts I wrote I no longer have. I am trying my best to revive that spark of inspiration I once had but it is not easy and it is not quick. This chapter is in a way my promise to the readers who still follow this story that yes, you can now start looking forward to future updates again. And while it may take time, it will definitely come.

4/ Please help me as much as you can to recall my old love for this story (I pretty much came back to this because I felt guilty for all the obsessive nuts mentioned above) by letting me know what and how you feel about the story as a whole, your thoughts and guesses on where the plot will go and how the relationship between Yugi and Atem (not Yami) will work out, what you love about the story, etc... Anything, anything at all helps.

5/ The dynamic between Yugi and Atem in this story is basically a mark for direction I'm working forward to. I know a lot of you probably expect them to get all happy cuddly right away, but to my writer's eyes, especially now that both I and my writing have matured through time and experience (when I started Paradox I was still a college student. I am now a published author and journalist), that development is just not real at all. In fact, it smacks of teenage feel-good romance story… which… to me… is just not gonna happen between two grown men (Yugi is in his late twenties here. Yes I retconned his age from 20 as mentioned in the first chapter to mid-late 20ish, around 26-27 years old, though he looks a lot younger than he really is with his lean build and perpetually gentle manner to life and people in general. Now that I reread what I wrote, I thought having Yugi at only 20 was highly unrealistic and stink of my inexperience as a writer back then. And yes, he actually is older than Atem in this story, who is either 15 or 17 depending on whether you go with the manga or the anime but still underage on both accounts… which makes their relationship kinda hot and kinky now that I think about it! Ahah! I can feel my inspiration coming back!... ok, just kidding… but not really)

You know that feeling when someone you have a long and colored history with, maybe someone you really love but also hurted you a lot, and you haven't seen each others for years and years and you think you may have managed to forget about them and the heartache they brought you… only to one day run into them again. The emotion that that encounter engenders… and the awkwardness that ensues when there is so much you want to say but you can't find the words to. You both have changed so much and despite the fact that you feel the same about them in the past, this current them fills you with hope, fear, and uncertainty.

Yeah, that's what's happening to Yugi right now. For a long time I thought about the dynamic of their relationship and this my… more or less… decision on the direction that I want to develope them upon. It is not a normal kind of love or relationship that will ensue between these two (because face it, they are pretty much twin brothers / doppelgangers / opposite personalities of each other. There is a certain… incestous edge to the relationship even), but I feel this is the more interesting story to tell rather than your vanilla fluff canon fodder.

Please let me know your thoughts, feelings and predictions of their relationship as portrayed in this chapter as well. As above, it will definitely help to rekindle my old love for this story and make it that much more likely that I will get to finish this after all.

See you next chapter and no it's not going to take years to come out again. Come kick my butt if you feel I'm taking too long. It already worked once so you know it will definitely work again.