Disclaimer –"Yu-Gi-Oh!" and all related characters, events, and concepts belong to Takahashi Kazuki and any other related owners/distributors/producers. I get no monetary benefit from this. My benefit is the enjoyment of dealing with beloved characters.

"Afterlife"
by DragonDancer5150

Chapter 4 – Soul Train

Yugi gaped in disbelief at the weathered old man in a conductor's uniform who had just tapped his shoulder. "Well?" the old man groused at them. "Are you coming or not?"

Yugi shook his head in bewilderment, noting a massive blue steam engine where the dead-end had just been. "C-coming? Coming where?"

Yami took a moment to glance around the corner. "Aibou, it's gone. ACK!" he protested as the conductor took them each by the scruff of his jacket collar. "You! Unhand us!"

"Come on, boys. We ain't got all night. All aboard!" He shoved them towards the open door of a train car, snatching something from each one's pocket.

"Hey!" Yugi sputtered, relenting when he realized it wasn't one of their cards, which he had stowed in that same pocket. In fact, it looked like a train ticket. What in the world - ? He climbed the stairs to the interior out of obedient reflex, Yami a step behind.

"Now that you're on, you can't go back." The conductor shut the door even as Yami reacted, slamming into it. The whistle of the train sounded, shrill and echoing in the night air.

"No! Open this door!" Yami fell against the wall as the train lurched into motion, Yugi stumbling into his back. No matter how hard he pulled, the door would not budge.

"Maybe . . . maybe we're supposed to be on this train," Yugi offered. "Come on. Let's go ask someone where this thing's headed." With a sigh, Yami relented and followed.

They passed people of all ages and descriptions, but no one would meet their eyes. Finally, in a car near the very back, they found some empty seats, settling in for the journey. "I think I've heard that some people believe you take a train to your final destination after you die," Yugi mused. "Of course, it depends on who you ask. There are so many versions of Heaven, Hell, and all. Oh, Other Me . . . your Deck." He pulled the stack of cards from his jacket pocket, noting the quiet grief in his partner's eyes as they were accepted back by their owner. "I'm sorry about the ones we had to leave behind."

8 8 8 8 8

Yami let his head fall back against the wall behind him, eyes closing for a moment as the grief threatened to overtake him. "Mirror Force, Curse of Dragon, Alpha the Magnet Warrior, Swords of Revealing Light . . . and Dark Magician," he intoned, his voice flat. He knew every card in their Deck, knew the sight and mystical feel of them in his hands, the monsters and spells re-ingraining themselves in his mind with every draw. He opened his eyes, finding Yugi's at a soft noise of empathy and inexpressible sadness. Yugi gazed back, his eyes wide with stricken disbelief. There were no words. Any loss was a grievous one, but to have lost Dark Magician, his old friend Mahaad . . .

Yami finally let his gaze fall to the Deck in his hand . . . and gasped in shock. Dark Magician gazed up at him from the top card. He shuffled quickly through the rest of the Deck, finding to his relief and bewilderment that they were all present.

"How – ?" Yugi's voice failed him in his shock.

Yami had one speculation but was reluctant to speak it without more proof. "I don't know, Aibou," he admitted with a shrug. Straightening the cards carefully, he slid them back into his Deck case, then turned to gaze out the black windows as vague shapes of darkness flitted by.


Author's Note: Please be sure to check my bio page for any updates, etc. Thanks!

And yes, this fic is marked "Complete" for a reason. The rp never went anywhere, and neither did this. No, I have no plans for continuing it. Had I been able to come up with an actual plot by now, I would have. And the more I look at it, the more I kinda like this open-ended ending anyway. The fell beast was a plot device to get the boys moving before they could really explore the missing Puzzle, keep them from visiting the living before they got on the train, and to make sure they /did/ get on the train . . . as well as an idea I offered up to fellow muns on the comm for a foil that people could use to get some action going. If anyone noticed, no one said anything.

You, however, gentle readers, are free to continue the story in whatever direction pleases you, if you feel the need for it to /be/ continued. All I ask is acknowledgment back here as well as to the comm that inspired it . . . and let me know when/if you post so I can read and enjoy as well.