'He has to be somewhere.' Yami grouched at his Aibou as the boy headed downstairs, 'Bakura can't just have vanished off of the face of the Earth.'
Yugi didn't say a word. He was much more worried about his friend than Yami was about Yugi's lack of sleep. He hadn't seen Ryou for days. When the time loop caused by The TIME card had ended, Yami, in his body, had gone after the Tomb Robber but Ryou hadn't been at home, nor had he seen him in school. Yugi was worried that something had happened to the boy, but when he'd phoned the hospital to ask he'd been told that there was no one by that name in the hospital.
The exhausted Shadow Mage slumped down onto a stool and tried to register why Joey was singing.
"Oh the weather outside is frightful..." Joey warbled happily as he stared out the window.
"Wheeler-Kun," Kaida interrupted as she bustled around the warm kitchen trying to get the boys' breakfasts and everyone's lunches up together at the same time, "It's June, not December."
"It's snowing though."
"What?" Yugi, who had barely slept for the eighth or ninth night in a row (he was losing count), despite Yami's best attempts to ward the bedroom against the entrance of the damn butterfly that seemed to bring the nightmares with it, yelped. The tired Shadow Mage darted over to the window and looked outside to find the world coated in around two feet of snow. "But it was baking yesterday!"
"Apparently today it's snowing." Joey shrugged, wondering if that meant they were going to have a day off from school.
"We don't live in England Joey." Yugi chuckled, kind of hoping school had been cancelled, "The weather doesn't normally flip this drastically."
"Clow Card?" Yugi's mother was the first to suggest the possibility out loud, though the thought had crossed Yugi's mind as he leaned across the kitchen side and turned the radio on, the low noise filling the kitchen.
Yugi was just dialling Sakura's number to find out when the radio started listing off the schools that were closed due to the snow. He darted into the hallway, narrowly avoiding getting his eardrums blown up by Joey's loud and rather obnoxious cheering when it was announced that they did in fact have a Snow Day along with pretty much every school in Tomoeda.
"Hi Yugi." Sakura sounded insanely awake and happier than even Yugi was sure he could deal with, though the lack of a decent night's sleep in over a week probably had something to do with that, "We've got the day off. Did you know?"
"Yeah." Yugi nodded though Sakura couldn't see him, "It's kind of hard to miss the snow. Is it a Clow Card?"
"Blatantly." Sakura didn't sound too worried though, "Kero says it's not too urgent to catch it though. It's an offensive card but it's more like self defence than FIREY's outbursts. And I'm not complaining about snow."
Yugi chuckled, relaxing slightly as his doorbell rang, "So what've you got planned for your day off?"
"Snowmen?" Sakura didn't sound too sure. "I mean it won't be as much fun alone but..."
Yugi took that for the very unsubtle hint it was. "We'll be over after Mum goes to work. We just have to wrap up warm first."
"Thanks Yugi." Sakura sounded delighted as Yugi opened the front door to the postman, who was wrapped up in several layers of clothing and looked rather ill amused, "See you later."
'Are you sure you're alright to go out, Aibou? I mean...' Yami trailed off as Yugi signed for the package and sent reassurance over the link.
"I'm okay. I'm just tired." Yugi responded, trying to reassure the spirit of the Puzzle who was feeling useless, since he couldn't even protect his partner from something as simple as a butterfly. "Besides, playing in the snow isn't exactly hard work. You'll enjoy it, just you wait and see."
He picked up reluctance from the Ancient Egyptian spirit, who had never seen snow before and wasn't sure what could possibly be fun about the strange white substance that was all over the ground.
Kaida had left for work long before Joey and Yugi were wrapped up sufficiently warmly, as Joey didn't have many clothes with him and though Yugi's mother had bought him some, she'd not thought about the possibility of him being there when the winter snows arrived so she'd not thought to buy him anything other than a warm coat.
Luckily Yugi had a spare hat, one that refused to fit on his head because of his hair, and there was a pair of spare gloves in a drawer that were one size fits all, even if they belonged to Yugi's mother and were lilac, and as for a scarf, well Yugi had plenty of those, it was the rest he kept losing.
It took them much longer to get to Sakura's than usual, wading through the snow to the main road, then walking down the salted road until they hit the turning onto Sakura's street, where Yugi attempted to switch with Yami to allow the Pharaoh a chance to get used to the snow.
Yami lasted all of two steps into the snow bank before he said something unsavoury and shoved Yugi back into control. Yugi staggered, unused to being shoved quite that hard by his Other Self, and faceplanted into the snow.
"I take it he doesn't like snow then." Joey chuckled as Yugi picked up both himself and the package.
Yugi prodded Yami who just sent back the mental equivalent of a head shake.
'No thank you, Aibou. I am more than happy to remain in my Soul Room today and let you have all the fun.'
Yugi couldn't help but wonder if it was less to do with letting him have fun and more to do with the fact it was warm in the Soul Rooms but he just sent back a shrug, "You'll miss it all."
When Yami didn't respond other than a shrug, Yugi turned his attention to the package. It was quite a solid white box that had a letter attached to it. While he'd been waiting for Joey to finish getting changed he had taken a quick peek at it and had been stunned to find that it was from Industrial Illusions, the company that made the Duel Monsters trading card game.
He hadn't opened the box though, he was planning on doing so when he met up with his friends. He had no idea why he had a package from Industrial Illusions. The only thing he could think of was that it was because of the tournament that he'd gone back to play the final match of a couple of days ago, but that didn't make sense. Not when the finals had only been a couple of days ago and the package would have had to have come from America.
It looked undamaged though so the pair continued on, reaching the front yard of the Kinomoto residence just in time to narrowly avoid a snowball that had been thrown by Toya. Joey suspected that Toya had been aiming for them since the ball of snow had flown over Sakura's head by around a foot and he'd only just managed to dodge in time.
"Yugi! Joey!" Sakura grinned at her friends, "Toya's got the day off."
"I can tell." Joey responded, already making his own snowball and tossing it over the fence, only to miss Toya by a mile.
This, of course, started a snowball war that had Sakura dragging Yugi inside to put his package down, before the pair headed back outside to team up in an attempt to break up the battle that was beginning to look more like a massacre. Toya, who had competed against his classmates in snowball battles before now, was out classing Joey at every turn and the poor blonde was beginning to look like a snowman.
"Do we have to catch The SNOW?" Sakura asked when they finally crashed out on the chairs in the living room, wrapped in fluffy blankets as they tried to dry off and get warm. "It's so much fun."
"You're going to need to, unless you want Tomoeda coated in snow forever." Kero pointed out as he settled on the table and stole a marshmallow out of Yugi's hot chocolate, "And I don't know about you but I don't want to get snowed in."
Sakura sighed heavily. She knew Kero was right, they had to capture all the Clow Cards, even the ones that got them days off of school, but she had been hoping to have a little more time playing with her friends without worrying about magic and Clow Cards and monsters.
"Hey Yuge." Joey piped up, poking Yugi as he did so. The kid in question started awake and blinked at his friend, confused. "So what's in that package?"
"It's from Industrial Illusions?" Tomoyo looked shocked, "Already?"
"Maybe their Asia branch?" Tea suggested, curious herself. "Was there a secret prize offered?" She asked Yugi who shrugged.
"I didn't think there was a secret prize." Yugi said, trying to think, "It was only supposed to be a little thing. The regional's aren't for another fortnight. I've already got my name down."
"So open it." Joey urged as Tomoyo set up her camera to record, unable to resist getting more footage for what she was calling a school project but was turning more into a film that would have been classed in the fantasy genre if they weren't living it.
Just as Yugi reached for the packing tape the doorbell rang causing Joey to groan as Sakura darted for the front door.
"Mutou-San?" Sakura's voice floated through the open front door, "What're you doing here?"
"Couldn't get to work, all the roads are closed." Yugi's mother replied, startling all the children and causing Toya to wonder about his own ability to get to work while the snow was bad, "Are Yugi and Wheeler-kun here?"
"In the living room, we were about to see what was in the package Yugi got this morning. Would you like a cup of tea?" Sakura's reply caused Tea to budge over, shoving Joey further up the sofa and making room for the adult.
"Yes, thank you Sakura. I could use one, it's rather cold out." Kaiya replied as she stepped into the living room, nodding to them all as she crossed and took the seat offered to her.
Joey spent most of the time it took Sakura to make Kaiya a small pot of tea grumbling about how long it was taking Sakura to make a cup of tea, distracting them from the fact Kero was giving the box a funny look, and once they'd all settled again, Yugi finally got to open his package.
Inside it was a VCR tape, an envelope and a completely opaque card protector that was firmly sealed and didn't reveal anything of the cards inside.
"That's it?" Joey looked disappointed as he tried to yoink the card protector out of Yugi's hand only for Tea to slap his hand away.
"Yugi's gift, not yours." She scolded the blonde as Yugi opened the envelope and became highly confused by the fact that it appeared to have a set of three plane tickets to America in. "There might be instructions on the video."
It wasn't until the video was practically in the machine that Kero realised why he'd wanted nothing more than to glower at the box for the last five minutes and by then it was too late. The tape, which had been the source of the weird feeling Kero had been getting, was already being absorbed by the machine that would set it playing and the tv had been turned on.
"Hello, at last we meet, Yugi-boy." The man on screen spoke the moment the video started playing, "Nice to meet you at last."
"I know him." Tomoyo paled slightly, "He's Pegasus Maximilian. He does business with my mum. Relies on her company for his computer hardware."
"No, no, don't be surprised." The video continued. Obviously the man had hoped for another reaction to the one he had gotten, "I just wanted to send a video letter to the esteemed Yugi-boy."
That caused Yugi to frown. He hadn't done anything impressive yet. He could have understood attracting the man's attention if he'd managed to get to Nationals, or the World Championships, but not for some local tournament, no matter how easily he'd won it.
"I hear you're very skilled at Duel Monsters." Pegasus continued, his words causing Yugi's hand to stray to the pouch he'd been wearing on his belt for the last few months which contained his deck, "I want to test that skill right here and now."
"How?" Kaiya sounded dismissive, "You can't duel against a video tape."
"The box you were sent has a false floor," Pegasus explained, "Take five minutes to build your deck from those cards and when you're done the game will begin."
"Free cards?" Joey asked, immediately poked at the box's bottom until he managed to get the false bottom up. There was a lot of cards hidden below the false bottom and Yugi quickly scoured through as Joey pulled them out, building a new deck from scratch.
"Wait, you're going to try it?" Tea asked, confused.
"Why not?" Joey asked, "It's not like it shouldn't be..."
"Finished." Yugi accidently interrupted Joey's comment.
"Then let's begin. The duel will last fifteen minutes, but not a second longer, Yugi-boy." Pegasus responded, confusing Yugi slightly, as a timer appeared in the top left corner, "Duel."
"Duel." Yugi responded, trying to ignore the headache that was beginning to form as he shuffled and drew. "I'll start by summoning the Koumori Dragon, in attack mode." He felt a bit daft announcing his move to a video tape as the timer started counting down.
"Let me guess, the Koumori Dragon right?" Yugi's embarrassment turned to shock as Pegasus responded to the move.
"How? How did he guess the name of my card?" Yugi yelped. Yami's attention turned completely towards the television, having been paying more attention because of Yugi's headache anyway and suddenly very wary of the man on screen.
"You see Yugi-boy, I knew you were going to play that card. In fact I know every card in your hand. You're planning on polymerising your Koumori Dragon and your dragon knight next turn."
"How?" Yugi squeaked aloud this time, shocked.
"What is he? Some kind of mind reader?" Joey complained.
"Heh heh." Pegasus chuckled, thoroughly creeping out the watchers of the game along with his young opponent, "We can't have that... so I'll remove your Koumori Dragon with my Dragon Capture Jar."
Yugi and the others watched in horror as the dragon appeared only to be sucked into the television.
Then it finally struck him, the tendrils of Shadows that had been making their way around the room, the way Pegasus seemed to be able to know what he was planning.
This wasn't a plain duel.
"This is a Shadow Game." Yugi started the sentence but Yami finished it, taking control of the body, allowing Yugi to retreat from the darkness, protecting the soul of his young partner.
"That's right Yugi-boy. And there's a Penalty Game waiting for the loser." Pegasus nodded, highly amused at Yami's responding growl, "Now, I've stolen your dragon Yugi-boy, sealing it in my Capture Jar." Pegasus boasted, then paused, noting the look on Yami's face, "Come on, why so angry? This is a game, you should enjoy it."
Yami didn't lighten up in the slightest as his friends commented about sheer dumb luck. He knew better. The Shadow Games could warp reality. Somehow the man was reading Yugi's mind. But the question was how the pre-recorded message was doing it.
A thought occurred to the former Pharaoh that he didn't really like. The man's name was Pegasus and he could use Shadow magic, the man who had attacked Li's family was also called Pegasus and had been able to wield the Shadows using the power of his Millennium Eye.
Yami grimaced as he realised that they'd walked straight into his trap.
"I thought you'd enjoy the chance to see a new card that I've only just created." Pegasus continued, "Now, Yugi-boy, since that Baby Dragon you're considering using would be as helpless as your Koumori Dragon, why don't you try something else."
Yami snarled quietly, only to have Yugi reach out, offering advice and reassurance. "We can do this." Yugi offered, "Together."
Pegasus snickered and Yami glowered at the screen, wondering if the CEO had heard Yugi's words. "Fine, if a dragon won't help then I'll play this. Silver Fang!" The powerful silver wolf appeared with a howl.
On his next turn a completely unfazed Pegasus set a card face down and used his Dragon Piper to summon Yugi's Koumori Dragon out of the pot and set it on Yami's Silver Fang, burning the poor beast to death.
Yami scowled as the timer continued to tick down, passing the nine minute mark. He needed something more powerful than Koumori Dragon but there wasn't much in his deck that had higher than fifteen hundred attack points.
Then he drew, a small smirk growing on his face as he realised what he'd pulled. "Summoned Skull, come forth!"
Pegasus looked highly amused as the Summoned Skull moved to destroy his dragon only for Pegasus to activate a trap card that destroyed his demon. "You should just give up, Yugi-boy. You can't win."
"This duel is still on, Pegasus." Yami growled at the man, trying to ignore the counter in the corner. "I'll never surrender, not to you."
"Are you sure, Yugi-boy? I know every move you're going to make before you make it." Pegasus pointed out. With the scores stood at 1700 to 2000 the CEO had a small lead but with the time counting down it was more than enough to win Pegasus the game unless things changed, "What would you say if I told you I wasn't the one who created Duel Monsters?" Pegasus's question threw Yami's train of thoughts and the ancient Pharaoh turned away from his cards and glowered at the TV monitor.
"Isn't stealing someone else's work called plagiarism?" The Pharaoh asked, his tone snappish. He was in no mood for babble.
"Indeed." Pegasus looked amused, "But then I don't think there's anyone alive who remembers the original games. You see Yugi-boy, five thousand years ago the Shadow Games were played by Kings and Sorcerers across the globe. These Shadow Games eventually devolved into a war that could have destroyed the world." Pegasus considered his cards carefully as he spoke, setting another card face down. "Until an ancient, powerful Pharaoh gave his life to lock the dark magic away. He was believed to hold your Millennium Puzzle, Yugi-boy."
Yugi could feel Yami snap to attention as the spirit realised the CEO of Industrial Illusions was talking about him.
"And you want to set them loose?" Yami asked with a snarl, knowing instinctively that it would be really bad for the Shadows to break free.
"No, no, nothing that gauche, Yugi-boy." Pegasus sniggered, "I just need to borrow the power for a little while."
"What do you...?"
"Yuge." Joey interrupted with a hiss, catching Yami's attention, "Time."
Yami quickly took in the clock. Pegasus had bought himself crucial time with his little speech. With less than a minute to go on the duel, he was down on lifepoints and out of ideas on how to beat Pegasus's mind reading. Every strategy he and Yugi came up with, Pegasus knew. They couldn't keep him out of their head and Yami had tried repeatedly.
Then it hit him. Pegasus couldn't know their hand if they didn't know their hand. He set the hand of cards down on the floor and drew from the top of their deck.
"I play Monster Reborn!" Yami crowed, "And I use it to call my Summoned Skull back from the Graveyard!"
The demon reappeared painfully slowly, his hands crackling with electricity.
"Summoned Skull! Lightening Strike!"
Lightening streaked across the playing field, arching towards the dragon that Pegasus had stolen.
"Please, please, please!" Yugi begged as the attack entered the television.
The timer hit zero.
The attack vanished just millimetres from Koumori Dragon.
"No!" Yami bellowed. To come so close only to lose it all at the last second...
"Oh nice try, Yugi-boy." Pegasus chuckled, "If that attack had made contact I would have lost."
Pegasus was gloating now and Yami's hands clenched into fists. It was over. He had lost. And now there was a Penalty Game awaiting them. He wrapped his magic tightly around them, desperate to defend his aibou from his failure.
"But it didn't, did it Yugi-boy?" Pegasus continued, easily able to sense the magic Yami was trying to defend himself with and internally chuckling as his gaze turned to those the boy didn't even think to defend. "And now for the Penalty."
Bright light erupted from the television, flash blinding the Pharaoh. Behind him, Yugi's friends called for him, scared, but it was the sound of something hitting something soft that caused the Pharaoh to wheel around, still blinking sunspots from his vision as something bright darted past him and entered the television.
Kaiya had collapsed.
"Yugi!" Before Yami could react, he heard her voice coming from the television. He wheeled around to stare at the screen, only to find her image on screen, pounding on the glass, terror obvious.
"Okaasan!" Yami was dumped into the passenger seat as Yugi ricocheted into control, practically screaming in his own fear and guilt as he too pounded on the glass, "Okaasan!"
"Now, now, Yugi-boy." Yugi recoiled from the television as Pegasus appeared on screen, "You'll get her back, as long as you accept my invitation."
"Take me." Yugi pleaded, "Leave Okaasan alone."
"I'm sorry Yugi-boy, but that's just not possible." Pegasus didn't look sorry at all, "However, should you come and enter my World Championships and make it to the prize match, I will fight you again. Who knows, you just might be able to earn back your mother's soul."
Yugi just stared at him torn between shock, fear and several other emotions all clawing at him at once. World Championships? He hadn't even fought in the Regionals yet.
"I've included your tickets and the cards that I've giving away both as invitations and prizes for entering, Yugi-boy. I've even sent enough tickets for your friends. So unless you really don't want your mother back, there's no reason not to show."
Pegasus was smirking and Yami was fuming, but Yugi was too numb to take it in.
They had lost and his mother had paid the price.
"Yugi-boy," Yugi stared blankly at the screen, "I look forward to seeing you there."
With that the tape ran out.
Author Note: *glares at Pegasus*
Sorry for the very long time to update, this fic is a lot of work. Merging the two universes isn't as smooth as I thought it would be. I was actually contemplating taking Sunlight down because I have such trouble writing it. I think from now on any updates are going to be sporadic at best. Sorry about that.
Editor's Note: Why Sakura doesn't consider just using the Snowy herself for a few days after catching it (to pretend that the snowfall was natural, obviously!) I'm not quite sure... Also. Subtlety. She lacks it.