Author's Notes – Written as a self-challenge based on a prompt from cypsiman2 – http : / / tvtropes .org /pmwiki /pmwiki .php /Main /CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming (and remove spaces, of course)
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.
"A Light in the Fog"
Yami had tucked himself into the corner against a bulkhead of the chopper's belly, curled up on the bench and trying to get some rest before reaching the American aircraft carrier and, from there, facing Dartz. As exhausted as he was, however, his mind and heart were too full to let him truly rest.
Aibou . . . I get now what you were saying. Back in the Stone Wilderness – gods, was that really only just yesterday? I don't know if that was merely a reflection of my own heart, as Ironheart said, or if that really was a sliver of you still somehow with me, brought forth by the power of that place . . . but I get it now. Were you there when I fought Raphael again this morning? I heard him. I felt him! The cries of his heart, his pain! How could I have missed it before?
"Because the Orichalcos wouldn't let you hear."
With a sharp hitch of breath, Yami spun around, finding himself standing in darkness – a cool, all-too-familiar darkness of shifting purple-black vapors. The Shadows! And before his eyes, the Shadows gave way to the bright, sickly-green glow of the Orichalcos, lighting a single, translucent figure in their midst.
"Aibou!" He took a step forward before catching himself. How could he face his Light? Even now . . .
Yugi's eyes were sad but, unlike yesterday, the sadness was tempered with contentment rather than remorse, the boy's heart for rather than against the dark spirit. He smiled gently and shook his head. "You still don't get it, do you?"
Yami couldn't help but frown. "Get what?"
Yugi raised his hand, cupped palm held out, and Yami watched a pendent appear, the one he had taken from Gurimo. He caught himself from closing the distance between them and knocking the thing from his aibou's hand, without even quite comprehending the impulse. Yugi tilted his head at him, then picked up the pendent between the fingers of his other hand, holding it up for Yami to see. "Now you understand?" When Yami didn't respond right away, he said, "This is a piece of the Orichalcos itself, Other Me. It brings out the darkness in people's hearts. Raphael knew exactly what to say to push buttons you didn't even realize he was pushing, with this magnifying every word."
Yami's fists clenched and he looked away, eyes closed. "Was he just pushing buttons, Aibou . . . or was he just right?" His throat felt as raw as his emotions as he spoke, the last word coming out almost a rasp.
He felt Yugi's gaze on him for a long moment before the silence was broken again. "Did you notice how many times you gripped the necklace when Raphael was talking, even if he didn't mention it? Did you see how it glinted even though the sun wasn't hitting it directly? Other Me . . . do you really think anyone would have been able to talk you into using the Seal card under normal circumstances, let alone lead you to choosing to do so on your own? That's not like you, Other Me."
Yami thought about that, and felt some of the tension drain from his body. Perhaps Yugi was onto something. That had been another thing about that terrible duel which had been tearing him up – the fact that he'd actually chosen to use the card, that he'd thought he needed to.
That he somehow, somewhere along the line in that duel, had lost faith in the strength of his own Deck – his spells and traps and especially his monsters – as he never had before.
He looked up to see Yugi give him a small, supportive smile. "And I hardly think you can be held responsible for your words and actions after that, not when you were in the grip of the Orichalcos and you'd not even been rightly prepared for it. We both know that wasn't you talking . . . and our Deck knows it too."
Yami choked on the sudden shame that washed through him. "D-does it?"
Yugi shook his head. "Dark Magician, Big Shield Guardna, Berfomet, Dark Magician Girl . . . Timaeus . . . they were all disappointed, to be sure . . . but they don't blame or hate you for it. Can't you feel it? Their forgiveness?"
Yami swallowed, turning away again. Who was he to gain or even deserve forgiveness, from his monsters or from anyone else? True, he'd gone to the Stone Wilderness to seek Yugi's forgiveness, which he needed most of all, but . . .
"And you've always had it."
Yami fairly cringed from the ghostly touch on his arm. No . . . Aibou, how can you? After all that I've done? Several memories spun through his mind, things he'd done even just since this whole mess began: betraying Yugi, betraying their Deck, pushing his friends away . . . Haga . . . Oh, gods, Haga . . . And that was without the stone! Honda said Raphael took the necklace back after I lost consciousness. I can't blame the Orichalcos for anything I've done since.
"No . . . but you woke from the influence of the Orichalcos into a biting grief. People do all kinds of things in the name of grief, and Haga exploited yours to the fullest. No, Other Me, it doesn't excuse what you did," Yugi added when Yami started to protest, "but it does explain it." He sighed. "My other self, will you look at me please?"
It took a moment for Yami to be able to make himself, and when he did, the weariness in his voice surprised even him. "Aibou, what . . . what am I?"
Yugi blinked at him. "What are - . . . ? What do you mean, what are you?" Then, his eyes widened a bit as the meaning hit him.
Yami nodded. "Allowing for everything else, there's one more thing Raphael said that I can't ignore. He asked me what kind of king I really was, if I can say I was a good one. I-I . . . I don't know. Orichalcos aside, what kind of person am I?" All the way back to the beginning of his present memories, he could trace his footsteps, alone and with Yugi . . . and he could not say he was proud of the things he had done that were his alone.
Yugi studied him a long moment, then tilted his head, gaze falling away as if his attention had turned to something only he could hear or sense. Finally, he refocused on his other heart. "You'll be arriving at the carrier any moment. We don't have much time. Other Me, you've learned once again to hear the cries of others . . . but don't forget your own pain. You do matter too! And everyone makes mistakes. Don't let yours blind you to your own true heart."
Yugi's form and voice began to fade suddenly, the Shadows vibrating and dispersing in a crescendo of helicopter noise as Yami regained consciousness. He curled further into the wall, burying his head in his arms to hide the tears as his aibou's last words echoed across his mind.
Even if you've not always gone about it the 'right' way, no matter how it hurts you, you always fight to do the right thing no matter what, Other Me.
That is who you are.
Author's Notes: Please be sure to check my bio page for any updates, etc. Thanks!