Shadow: Not much to say right now – I'm kind of busy with schoolwork/coursework. First (or is it second?) of the 'medium' pairings for Compy's contest – Clashshipping (Yami Yugi x Yami Malik).

Notes: References to the tales of the Red Dancing Shoes, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Snow White, Ali Baba and the forty thieves, Alice in Wonderland, Jack and the beanstalk, and the Snow Queen. One vague reference to William Shakespeare's The Tempest. I don't own these.

Warnings: Contains shonen-ai/yaoi (boy x boy), and a bit of language. Rather dark and a bit twisted, with death. If you don't like, please don't read.


Happily Never-Ever After

For exactly thirteen days, two hours, twenty-seven minutes and three seconds the spirit that was known informally as Yami no Yugi – or even more simply, 'Yami' – disappeared from his soulroom in the Millennium Puzzle. His aibou and other half, Yugi, never noticed his absence to the degree where it overly worried him – the spirit was prone to locking himself away for weeks on end to explore the labyrinth, the maze of thorns of his mind alone, and wouldn't appear unless there was an important duel at hand or Yugi's life was in certain peril.

For just over thirteen days, Yami was gone. It was during that lull – tricksy, sneaking pause that it was - between the Battle City tournament and the irritating incident with DOMA, and both events by far eclipsed – in the opinions of others – Yami vanishing – evaporating, slipping away into the dark, dark woods - for a little while to think.

Yami had not vanished 'to think'. He'd been stolen.


Aladdin had a cave of wonders from which he'd liberated the magic lamp, and Ali Baba had yelled his cry of 'open sesame!' with great aplomb before sneaking in to steal all the riches of the legendary forty thieves. What secret password had been required to break open perhaps the greatest safe of them all, where the greatest treasure destined to save the world a few times over rested his weary head? It took a lot to crack a puzzle, and no mystery was greater than the puzzle of the Puzzle so the password would have to be thrice and thrice again as many times as great.

Yami woke in a room made of gold, with his cheek pressed to cold metal floors that chilled and burned. His own face looked back at him, distorted, blurred, and mirror, mirror, his own eyes were large and dark and confused as he stared down at his face, golden, golden as a princesses' hair.

"So you're awake."

Not a kiss that woke Yami from confusion but a bolt of lightning, searing and indignant as he suddenly twisted – ah, that hurt his spine – and found himself looking up, up, such a long way up! Only a beanstalk could climb so high in his perception, and then the world tilted and span and came crashing down to earth with all the screaming starlings and angels – and didn't Lucifer burn as he tumbled from grace? Someone set his wings aflame, and cast him down to Hell –

"Malik." The name was hissed in such a tone usually reserved for the wickedest of Wicked Queens. Yami no Malik, insane 'other half' of Marik Ishtar, bearer of the Millennium Rod. "How-?" Words died and were encased in crystal coffins, untouchable forevermore. After defeating the other so soundly at Battle City, was it any wonder Yami had never expected to see the other spirit again? The other had been taken by the darkness he'd so longed to control and he should be dead; he should be dead; he should be dead. He'd swallowed his own poison apple quite by accident and by the trickery of the not-so-pure princess not quite as white-as-snow, and he should be dead. Everything Yami knew, had come to know, agreed.

He wasn't dead, irritatingly, worryingly enough. What prince had been stupid enough to resurrect the evil Queen?

Malik smiled – leered -, crouching down on his hindquarters next to the still-crouching Yami. "I thought you'd sleep forevermore…" He reached out to brush a hand over the other's cheek and Yami instinctively recoiled – "Did you want to sleep forever, and never dream at all?"

"Get away from me." Yami was on his back, arms awkwardly placed, eyes angry. The wolf bites. "How are you here – and where is 'here', anyway?" Demanding. "Where have you brought me?! Where's Yugi?" Straining for his mental link with his aibou, Yami met nothing at all. It was empty, emptier than when the genie escaped his lamp, and the loss was -

"Maybe you're going mad, little king, and wandered here by yourself…?"

"Tell me the truth, Malik! Where's Yugi?!"

"Only spirits are kept in bonds, pharaoh." Purple eyes were bright, gleaming, terrible with the secrets they could impart. More terrible still was the cruel grip that darted out to snatch at Yami's wrist, nails digging sharper than any type of thorn. Blood ran and dripped and fell from that grip, and Yami stared at it in a kind of fascinated horror. Spirits couldn't bleed.

"You -" Yami swallowed thickly, watching the scarlet dribble and run, feeling pain, pain, pain for the first time in ever. "What did you do?"

Malik only smiled again, teeth gleaming as coldly as his eyes, and let the other go. He backed off and the golden walls reflected a thousand, thousand faces, a million courtiers at a ball all circling the strange newcomer who stood out for being different. All million of them seemed to fade as one, until all that was left was he Cheshire Cat smile. "Remember you now are mortal, little king." The voice slid around Yami, soft and heavy as a fur-lined cloak. But…the room was empty now for everything except himself and his thoughts. "Bones will break, blood boil, and flesh sear and slice apart like soft butter."

Yami was lost, staring at the colour of his blood, and saw mortality for the first time he could remember. He didn't like it.


Staring across the horizon without end, one could get some concept of eternity. It was dark – so dark – and the balcony upon which Yami stood let the chill winds of the Realm attack, nip and bite and claw his breath and heart and soul. He knew vaguely where he was now, and it wasn't as comforting a thought as it should be. The Shadow Realm was endless…

Despair was a strange emotion for Yami to feel, but what felt like weeks of loneliness in a castle god knows where was beginning to take its toll on him. Everything he wanted was provided for him except company and freedom – Yami slept in grand bedrooms draped with velvets and silk, bathed in tubs made of marble and crystal, ate at tables of a length so vast he couldn't see the other end should he sit himself at the head. He felt like some pathetic damsel hiding from such unnamed and unverifiable beast in this castle of ill-creation, barred with Shadows rather than thorns – such a maze could be seen from the windows! This palace locked in a stranglehold, where no prince would fight his way in because no-one knew the princess was trapped in the first place – and so Sleeping Beauty slumbered, slept, and the world span and she helplessly saw it all go by without her, the bad fairy holding her in her half-dead state so that each painful second felt like a year. Such trouble it was, when thieves crept into another fairytale! The common tale was bent and warped until it was no longer recognisable as what it had once been, the lines blurred between pages and chapters until there was no longer than black words on the crisp white page but instead an endless ocean of shifting – slithering – slippery – grey. Such stuff of nothing that dreams and nightmares were made on, trickling away like sand when limb and logic tried to grasp it and bring it near.

"It's unusual to see you so quiet…" The drawl rose from everywhere and nowhere. "Usually you're spouting some righteous speech or other."

"You expect me to talk to myself?" Yami's back stiffened when he felt a hand touch his shoulder, the king whirling immediately around. "Don't touch me!"

"But I brought you a gift…" Malik offered up a beautiful golden chalice full of some red liquid or other for his companion's perusal – carefully sniffing it, Yami deduced it was warmed wine.

The young king was suspicious. "Why are you giving me this?"

"I thought you might be cold." Malik had the perfect neutral expression, even as he finished pressing his gift into the other's hands. "Your fingers are like ice, little king; did you catch a little sliver of mirror in your eye?"

Yami frowned. "…What are you talking about?"

"Nothing. By the way…" Yami had raised the cup to drink, feeling the warm liquid against his lips – "the wine's poisoned."

The chalice clanged as it hit the ground, crimson liquid splashing across the marble floor. Laced…with poison. Like everything else about this entire situation.

Now Yami thought about it, watching the cup roll around the floor, he should've flung the thing at Malik, wine and all… "You -" words failed him, apart from things that should never grace a most noble princess' lips, "you bastard."

"Is it my fault you're afraid to die?" Malik bent down to pick up the fallen chalice, rolling the goblet between his two palms thoughtfully.

"It's your fault the option of death is even on the cards in the first place!"

"But everyone dies someday, didn't you know?" Lavender eyes gleamed again, cold once more. "Or do you think yourself powerful enough my little king to cheat both death and fate?" At the other's silence – "I admit three thousand years is a long time for anyone, but…that may not mean anything. Do you think you are immortal, little king? Or do you think like me and believe the only reason you're still here is simply down to sheer. Dumb. Luck?"

Yami glared. "The reason I'm still here is to wipe out deluded bastards like you." Malik only laughed, and walked away. Yami glowered resentfully at his back until he was out of sight.


The next time Yami saw Malik again he'd been woken from his slumber – and it could've been midnight, gone midnight so the spell was broken into a thousand and one pieces like the Queen of Snow's mirror and the carriage was a pumpkin and the dress was in rags -, and the drowsy pharaoh was not pleased.

"Go away, Malik."

The other spirit's smile was eerie in the darkness of the darkness, in the night of the Shadows. "But I brought you a present."

"If it's anything like your last one, I don't want it." Yami refused to show his back to Malik – who knows what manner of object the other would stick in it?

The insane Egyptian perched beside the monarch on the bed. "You'll like this one."

"Malik, I don't -" Yami stared as his companion suddenly brought out his hands, opening them up to show a tiny baby blue-tit. "You brought me a bird?"

"Isn't it pretty?" The blue-tit cheeped pathetically, opening and closing its beak searching for food. Too young yet to fly the little bird could only hop tiny distances, sheltering in the warmth of Malik's hands while it waited for its mother.

"Why a bird?"

"It reminded me of you." Yami frowned, unsure of how to take that statement. "Do you want it?"

"I suppose I have no option." The king took the blue-tit, carefully cradling it. "If you took it back its mother would kill it now – what happened to its mother, anyway?"

"Its mother is dead." Quite perfectly flat. "You're its stepmother."

Yami scowled. "Why do you take such pleasure in killing?"

"Why shouldn't I?" Malik's answer was flippant. "You did too in your past."

"The past is gone and dead -"

"And still you keep searching for it." Malik leaned almost unnervingly forward, so close yami could feel the other's hot breath on his arm. "Did you like killing all that much?"

"Why would I like ending someone's life?" Yami was scathing. "To take pleasure in death is inhumane."

"But what about the pleasure of control?"

The pleasure in giving a command and knowing another would follow it implicitly – the power of life and death, the power to lock a stepdaughter away or make her work all day in the cinders, to order another girl to be taken into the forest and slaughtered like an animal… What a pleasure that could be!

Malik smiled rather darkly, taking his companion's silence as a reply. Reaching over and grasping the baby blue tit once more he stood, walking off. Yami, frowning, slid from the bed he'd been trying to sleep in, padding barefoot after the other spirit.

"Where are you going…?"

Malik didn't reply, silently walking. They ended up in the palace's approximation of a garden, twisted thorn bushes (there was no roses in sight, but plenty of briars) growing from black soil, no green visible. The earth was bare, the dirt dead.

Here Malik stopped, fixing Yami with his flickering, unsettling gaze. "You love to control, Pharaoh; admit it."

"I will not." Yami denied.

"Then you are a liar, and a hypocrite." Malik's voice had become cold, Yami unconsciously rubbing his arms to restore heat to them – whether it was the other's words or the chill of the Shadows, neither knew. "You know as well as the rest of us we must control, or be controlled."

"That's not true."

"Liar." Malik crouched, setting the bird he'd so carefully carried on a large stone on the ground, the feathered creature still cheeping pathetically. He didn't look at Yami. "We who

have strength seek for utmost control always for fear of having the shackles clipped around our necks, for fear of having our lives stripped away at the whim of another. No one with strength likes to be controlled."

"Malik -"

Lavender eyes were slits. "Pharaoh – I control." Malik took another rock into his hands, a heavy, blunt-faced thing. This he raised over the blue-tit -

Yami started forwards, suddenly realising – "Malik-!"

The stone fell. Milliseconds of flight, but it felt like eons, the giant toppling from the top of the beanstalk and falling, falling –

There was one terrible crunch, soft, brittle bones snapping instantly. The cheeps had stopped.

Yami was left, staring, aghast, one hand outstretched, frozen partway through trying to stop his companion. "You -"

Malik raised the upper stone, lifting and examining the smeared mess of blood and feathers curiously. "Yes?"

"You bastard!"

"Yes," Malik agreed, as if the title were a point of contention and not a statement of fact. He held out the bloody stone. "Do you want your present back?"


Did it sound pathetic to say Yami wanted to go home? He missed his aibou and his aibou's friends, but his cheating captor – prince, demon, wicked, wicked, Queen – kept slipping away into nothing before Yami could grab at him, hold him, force him to let him go. The Beast eluding the unwilling and unfortunate belle. Like the bad fairy, however, he still constantly insisted on showing up when he wasn't wanted…

"What do you want?" Yami set down the charcoal he'd been using to sketch with on a rough clay wall, his arms smudged with black up to his elbow from where he'd absently rubbed at the skin when not paying attention. His clothes were loose fitting - a short-sleeved tunic and trousers he'd found in one of the chambers of the palace -, with dark spots on the cloth where his fingers had brushed against it from time to time.

Malik stood behind the other, light eyes scanning the strange picture the other had been drawing on the wall. "…I never knew you could draw."

"There are many things you don't know about me, and I'd prefer to keep it that way." Yami's tone was clipped. "Now what do you want, Malik? You usually have some issue to discuss or some torture to inflict on me when you show your face."

Malik approached, smirking. "You're keeping tally, my little king? I'm honoured."

Yami bristled. "I am not, nor ever will be, yours, so stop referring to me as such. Secondly – I am not 'little'! And y-what the hell do you think you're doing?!" Malik had slid arms around his waist. Furious, Yami tried to pry the other off, black handprints marring tanned skin, but the action failed so he elbowed the other spirit in the stomach.

Malik backed off, expression darkening. "Playing in the cinders, Pharaoh?" He looked down at his arms. "Or just playing with dead things in general?"

Yami scowled. "Stop speaking in riddles, and let me get out of this fucked-up golden Escher of a palace and back to Yugi."

"So you can go back to your Escher of a soulroom?" Malik snorted. "I built this 'fucked-up' palace all for you, little king; don't you feel quite at home?"

"I want to go home to Yugi!"

"No."

"Malik-!"

"You think yelling my name loud enough is going to convince me?" Malik approached once more, taking the other's face into his hands, oddly gentle for a change. Lavender stared down into cerise. "Your anger no longer affects me."

Yami frowned. "Then what does?"

Malik kissed him. It wasn't the kiss of dreams and spell-breaking, no life was breathed back into a sleeping damsel's lips. The 'princess' certainly didn't leave the affair doe-eyed and besotted with her prince, Yami shoving back Malik rather indignantly and fleeing after a few bewildering seconds.

This was nowhere near a fairytale end.

Malik pursued him, in the following days – but who could tell what a day was, in the realm of Shadows? Time passed differently there, seconds sliding into hours, hours into days. It felt as if Yami had been there months, chased by the Queen hell-bent not on his death anymore – least, that was what was said – but his attention, whether he wished to give it or not. Aladdin stole a lamp from the Cave of Wonders and Malik stole precious time, winning small victories at each ball his Cinderella accidentally danced at and leaving her confounded. Yami was deeply, deeply confused by the kisses and touches and words, and damn it Malik was a bastard, an evil, sadistic –

But should he follow the dance? When they step too hard the glass will shatter and the fairytale will break, but they'd still be locked together as shards of sharp dreams are driven into the soft soles of their feet. Let them waltz! Malik would hold the other to him when Yami stumbled and staggered, and together they'd leave circles of scarlet behind them in the trembling king's steps. Dance of fire, dance of pain and blood and vainglory, the crimson shoes of Yami's pride, his vanity forcing him to dance, dance, dance until his heart burst and the Wicked Queen stole it – thief! – and locked it away in her black-wood jewellery box. Bleeding hearts got nowhere, not anywhere at all, except to stain pretty gold and diamonds before being served up on a plate.

He was so –

If there was a dance its dancers made both the music and movements, Yami playing a simple tune from his native days. A lilting, bittersweet melody it was, wistful and longing, delicates notes wavering in the air before slipping away into silence, already forgotten. It was a beautiful, mournful song, old when the world was new, tremblingly speaking of the rise and fall of kings and empires, the ages of the world past. Heart-sorrow was the melody, the melancholy of one searching for what is lost, the tune fluting and falling before fading to nothing.

This was just –

If Yami was the delicate harmony Malik was very much the brash percussion, rising from nowhere, leaping rudely into the air to snatch all attention. It started from what sounded like the middle, loud and obnoxious, a crazy tangled mess of improvisation – no tune -, and ended abruptly, cut-off, mid-note.

This was their harmonious discord where the music chased itself around in circles, royalty stalking royalty, shadows fleeting in the night. If even the great Beast could cave from continuous pressure so too could the more 'frail' belle, Malik just persisted in his actions again and again and again and again –

Yami caved one day. Malik made sure he was there to watch him fall.

Malik caught a furious punch thrown at him by his prey with one hand, cruelly laughing at the bubbling anger-frustration-despair on Yami's face. "It drives you mad with longing, doesn't it?" The spirit pulled sharply at the limb in his possession, dragging the flustered – irate – Yami to him with arrogant ease. "To be so close…" lips pressed to the smooth skin of Yami's bare shoulder, nails digging in so the other couldn't skitter-skitter-slither away, bolt like the untrained colt he was, "and yet be so far…" Nips at the sweet skin, sharp teeth snapping up the jugular, feeling the frantic thud-thudding of a pounding heart beneath a smirking mouth. "No wonder you hate me."

Yami twisted, struggled, but the nails dug in harder, deeper, Malik dragging the monarch's stubborn chin up for a fierce, harsh kiss, bruising in force. Drawing apart for frantic, clumsy breath disdain and conviction were hastily searched for, collected, gathered together to drip off of a judge's tongue. "You disgust me."

"Oh I know…" Malik's smirk was all smug confidence, Cheshire cat disquieting as he suddenly dropped, falling to his knees before Yami with his hands painfully crushing the teen's hips, cheek pressed uncomfortably against Yami's thigh – almost his crotch – "and yet this is where you want me, isn't it?"

"I -" a thick swallow, Yami at a sudden loss at how Malik rubbed against him, occasionally placed hot, lingering kisses on the exposed skin of Yami's stomach – "You – I -" his cheeks felt pink, his legs pathetically weak, and surely Malik had to feel that growing hardness so near to him…?

Malik took him to bed, and though the king and queen might have burned all the spinning wheels in the kingdom a spindle had still remained for the princess to prick her finger upon, and Yami fell, fell, fell. Deep sleep, where the scratch of the spindle drew blood as the mark of nails and teeth left blood and bruises, and the sleep of the princess was the cruel darkness they woke up into afterwards, breathing soft, heavy, the sheet covering their flesh feeling like a thousand weights pressing down on the confused Yami's back and head.

Malik lay beside him, eyes glitter-glitter bright, skin tan beside Yami's pale – he'd inherited Yugi's skin colour it seemed and Yugi… "Compared to mine, your skin is white as snow…"

A slitted glare from eyes are red as blood in the ebony darkness, velvet skin sliding away and storming from the room. There was the distant sound of a door being slammed shut, and water running. Malik cynically wondered how scalding it was; so that the princess could wash off the cinder sin she now wore as a second coat.

Running through the dark woods got one dirty after all.


Sitting before a dresser and mirror, Yami's eyes were cold. He spoke to the one behind him, his chin tilted with its usual cool defiance. "What am I…your doll to dress up and play with?"

Malik smirked, fingers brushing the nape of Yami's neck as he clipped an expensive choker in place. "I always liked pretty dolls…" His hands were heavy as he laid them on the once-pharaoh's shoulders, standing behind the other and staring into the mirror. Possessing. Demanding. "I was preparing for our 'fun' later."

"Or my grave." Red eyes, impassive scarlet gleamed back at him, the necklace glittering high about its wearer's throat.

Malik leaned a little heavier on the body before him. "You still think I'll kill you?"

"Yes," the answer was clear, "though whether it is by accident or design depends entirely on your given state of psychosis at the time."

Malik only laughed, and Yami scowled, his own expression looking back at him. Mirror, mirror, mirror in the house full of them, where the only reflection was hate-filled and grief-stricken. When the mirror's mouth could lean forward and kiss you, and you could feel cold glassy lips against your skin. Was everything about this relationship always so cold, already dead?

Yami was both sides of the mirror, himself, and his reflection He was both sides of the mirror: - the cold face frozen unless coaxed to life by questions, and the irate Queen receiving ill news from the other side of herself. Either way he looked Yami saw a reflection of himself, locked in a cycle, a circle, a spell, the deep sleep after he'd pricked his finger on the spindle, choked on the poison forced down his throat. He was both sides of the mirror, and the mirror itself. The only problem was, he wasn't sure what would break first.


Yami awoke one day to find a black scorpion scuttling up his stomach, Malik watching the arachnid's movements with a fascinated air. The black scorpion was deadly poisonous, its stinger trembling with venom –

Yami froze, bleary, sleep-fuddled mind screeching to a halt as frost set in and withered all the blooming roses in the garden, thoughts hanging in wickedly sharp icicles. The once-pharaoh's body went completely rigid as the scorpion crawled across his chest and paused, quivering, just above his left nipple. "Malik…."

"Hm?" Absorbed lavender orbs looked up at Yami.

"Get it off me." The spirit spoke lowly, afraid his chest would vibrate too much and cause the scorpion to become irritated and strike –

"Why?"

"What do you mean 'why'?" Yami couldn't hide the slight edge in his voice, gifted to him by near-panic. "It's a scorpion – get it off!"

Malik, obligingly, knocked the scorpion to the floor and drove his heel down on it. A sickening crunch, much like the bird that had died days before, and the scorpion was no more, what was left ground remains, blood and splattered venom. It was gone, and barely recognisable - Malik didn't just break things; he smashed them. Had the Queen cut out the middle party and just opted for pure poison without the apple now? "Do you hate me?" Malik glanced down at the youth on the bed, Yami breathing heavily from adrenaline, some…some fear…

"Yes."

"I thought so." Malik didn't really seem to care.

Yami scowled – his perpetual expression as of late. Yami could not see himself dying to save 'his one true love' if such a man was Malik. Angsting little mermaids could fling themselves hither, thither to their impending deaths as much as they liked, but Yami would take the knife offered to him by his brethren and rive it so deep into his 'darling' other's heart that the point emerged at the other side.

Malik was driving him mad.


Twelve days of torture – and yet in the Shadows it had been twelve weeks – and Yami was no longer the same as he once had been. Yugi's sweet warmth had faded away and the thorns of the garden had taken deep root in Yami's heart again, prickly barbs flourishing in the dark and acid soil Malik gave them. Yami had been quite ruthless when he'd first left the Puzzle and it was to this ruthlessness he returned, millennia locked in darkness showing strains in the somewhat psychotic manner with which he dealt all who'd stood in his way. And now Malik had brought that Yami back out to play…

Soft and insidious was the whisper pressed as a kiss against Yami's throat, mocking imploration raised almost to the status of sweet nothing against the shell of the once-pharaoh's ear. "Open your pretty eyes for me, little king…" Malik's breath was hot, Yami's shudder at the thrills sent racing through him at the heat delicate, coal-dark lashes flickering and opening obediently, liquid blood-red pools revealed. "I want to see all the pretty plots you plan in your deceitful eyes…"

The slightest curve of a mocking smile on refined lips, a breathy question swept and sent scudding across Malik's collarbone. "Don't you trust me?" One traitorous hand was raised, brushing back burnished gold hair from tanned skin.

A fully-fledged answer, sneer, wrist of the cuckoo-bird intruder seized in a death-grip. "Not at all."

Yami laughed. It wasn't a friendly sound, and it wasn't 'nice'. Crimson eyes were a dark, bloody red. "That's probably the smartest thing I've ever heard you say."


In most fairytales, the punishment of the persecutor, the great villain, happened quickly, quietly, off-screen. Most of them were merely abandoned, forgotten, but that was when the fairies put the pretty spin on it. Most of the beautiful princesses could look just as beautiful with their faces twisted in spite, but this was the chilling frost of the Snow Queen and this cold killed.

Snow White had been made of porcelain and yet she'd found the conviction to punish the stepmother who'd tried to kill her. Such a pretty princess, but such a vicious killer to dream up such a demise. Had she been somehow conscious, in all her years asleep? There would've been ample time to plot revenge then, and hide it behind closed lashes and red lips. No-one could have guessed, for no-one thinks to interrogate those who appear dead.

Yami grew weary sleeping, enchanted by mirrors and apples and spindles, deciding to attend one last ball and force the midnight that never came to rush onwards. His clothes were beautiful rags and his slippers were broken, the blood from his feet reflected in his cold eyes. For his prince he provided another set of footwear, holding the other closely, tightly, like the thorn bush that never bloomed, as the metal heated and Malik began to wither under the pain. Yami never let him go, his grip the grip of the seemingly dead, revengeful.

The little mermaid stabbed her darling through the chest; Jack took an axe to the dead giant's chest; Aladdin kicked the poisoned corpse of the evil magician until he was spent for breath. 'Belle' was savaged to death by the Beast who refused to change his ways; the wicked stepmother and her two ugly daughters were hanged; the sleeping beauty hunted down the fairy that cursed her and had the sprite's wings torn off and set alight, and poor little wondering Alice went quite, quite mad.

Yami poisoned his lover with a kiss, the golden gift Malik had first given to him full of venom that he'd smeared on his lips. Malik died; Yami watched, impassive. The fairytale broke, and the shards stung and bit and bled. The palace in the Shadows dissolved to nothing. Yami stood in his soulroom, home, the golden palace drifted away like the dream of the princess named after light, the princess who'd slept for a hundred years. There was nothing left but a withered rose and a broken mirror – such a pity, but that swiftly meant The End.

Yami went on with his life, and his subsequent death. He never bothered to inform others what had occurred to him, and left the speculation for stories.