So I'm really sorry. It's been over a year, which has been a really weird year for me, and the weirdness is not really over, but I'm learning to get up off my butt and get on with things anyways.

To anyone still actually reading this story, thank you so much for your support. A special thank you to SpookedRabbits, who wrote me pretty much the nicest review ever. And thank you to Anzu, zero25, M.M., EqyptianSoul.88, Miss Chocolat, Strop, and varee. You guys are all so sweet and amazing, and you deserve a much better author than me.

I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh or any of its characters. The pale boy is mine though, with all of his grumpiness!

"Um. A giant, huh? So like, by giant, you mean…" the girl trailed off, brain stalling.

"A giant. Grind your bones to make his bread and everything," the boy answered, a bit of dark amusement creeping into his voice. "Now, you need to remember what I told you before-the giant can't directly affect other people aside from you. Unless they defeat you, that is. But they can interact with and manipulate inanimate things, like, ah, buildings, so to speak."

"But what about the people inside the buildings?" she asked warily, for that right there seemed like an enormous loophole. She re-adjusted the book bag, its heavy weight dragging on her shoulders like a tangible manifestation of the responsibility she felt.

"Depends," he said, ushering her around another corner, keeping a wary eye on the pedestrians surrounding them. Tea wondered if he even realized he was glaring at a toddler that went by on a tricycle. "If you win, then the buildings will still be destroyed, but everyone inside and in the vicinity will be alright. Magic," he explained with a snort in response to her look of skepticism. "You should know it makes little sense."

"And if I lose?"

"Then everyone dies regardless of damage done to the buildings, because a giant's going to eat them," he snapped, and Tea blanched. The boy grimaced, a bit regretfully. "Look," he soothed. "You can do this. Probably."

Tea stumbled. "Probably?" she squeaked.

For a second remorse passed over his face, but then his black eyes hardened. "You'd best," he stated firmly, and Tea might have answered that, but as she took another step, the gem in her hand burned brightly. The people around them vanished. The pale boy tugged Tea back to hug the wall, and together they inched around the final corner and beheld the giant.

He stood in the center of an intersection, his feet spanning the length of the joining roads and easily the width of a road lane each. His head rose up to vie for height with the buildings on either side of the road, and Tea, with ice lining her stomach, knew him to be at least ten stories tall.

She sucked in a breath that burned, her body struggling against adrenaline and shock and terror. Her heart raced inside her chest on rabbit feet, her pulse rising to hammer in her ears.

A cool hand rested lightly on her shoulder, and she started, whirling to face the pale boy. He wore an expression she had never seen before, and she, in the part of her brain not consumed by fear, pondered that this seemed to characterize her odd friendship with him, expressions and emotions peeling back one by one.

"Probably," he said simply. "You can probably do this." And he lifted his hand up and drew it back, and some of her fright seemed to leave with his hand, allowing her to think more clearly.

"Probably," she agreed, and she shoved aside the part of herself that wanted to crumble away into pieces and hide.

"Alright," Tea encouraged herself quietly, keeping an eye settled firmly on the giant. There was no time for hesitation; she had to do this, and better here and now with the buildings to cover her than some other place where the giant would have more of an advantage. "How do I do this?"

"Go for the throat," the boy answered easily. "I'd say eyes too, but chances are your arms aren't long enough to reach through his eyes to his brain to kill him. Stomach, maybe, but again, your best option is the throat."

"Oh my god, how is this actually a conversation I'm having," Tea muttered to herself, but her mind was already working. She darted back down the road a bit and behind a dumpster to sort through her weaponry. Sharp edges would be her best bet in this battle; anything that worked primarily through application of force, like her baseball bat, would be a laughable offense against the giant. The weapons she couldn't use she stashed behind some bags of trash to retrieve later. Hopefully.

She kept her knifes up her sleeves, her machete, a wickedly sharp hunting blade with a serrated edge, a coil of rope looped over her arm, and her chainsaw easily accessible in her backpack.

Thus equipped, she stood, wiping her clammy hands against her pants.

"Alright," Tea whispered to herself again. "Alright." She screwed her eyes shut, taking a minute to gear herself up. The faces of her friends and family flashed through her mind; so many people she loved dearly, so many people she would do almost anything for.

Even kill a giant.

Opening her eyes, she gave a nod and a shaky smile to the pale boy in his thick dark coat and his old, old eyes, and then the girl darted back down the street and slid around the corner. Although she made very little noise, the giant's head snapped around to face her immediately. With no surprise on her side, Tea grit her teeth and ran at him, hoping her speed at least would help her confront him.

The giant's lips curled as he watched her advance, and he kicked at her charging form. He was faster than she had hoped, but slower than she had feared. The girl dodged, and his booted foot slammed down next to her, cracking the pavement and sending vibrations through the ground that almost had her toppling over.

"'Tis a bad day for you, little one," boomed the giant suddenly, and Tea stumbled from the surprise of his sudden speech. "But then it is to be your last day," he murmured in a voice like cracking boulders. "And such times are not meant for niceties."

He swept his foot along the ground after her, and Tea was forced to alter her original course.

Like a spider before a broom, Tea fled across the pavement. She ducked behind one of the many trees lining the roads, but the giant just reached down and dragged it from the earth. Its roots gave with a loud groan of protest, and the giant hefted it like a large leafy bat.

"A good enough tool," he decreed, and suddenly Tea felt very inadequate with only her chainsaw and knifes. He thrust the tree at her abruptly, and the girl could not dodge entirely. The branches of the tree caught her side and spun her into the air. She landed painfully, but forced herself up to her feet. She shook the dizziness from her head right as the tree came whistling down towards her again.

This time the girl caught at the branches of the tree as it swept by. She hissed as her shoulder was jolted against the pavement but hung on. The girl was scraped over several yards of pavement until she managed to swing herself fully onto the trunk of the tree. There she balanced, planning on climbing up onto his arm and making a dash up to his shoulder and vulnerable neck.

But then the tree gave an unexpected lurch, and to Tea's horror she realized the giant had thrown the tree from himself at a terrifying speed.

She screamed as the tree flipped leaves over roots. The world spun by in a blur of blue skies and black pavement, and then she screamed again as the tree collided with a skyscraper. Glass exploded up and out like birds startled into flight, and several shards lodged in Tea's left side and arm.

Acting on reflex, Tea climbed up through the tree, bleeding hands reaching up through the broken branches to the shattered glass of the window. She hauled herself through the window, wincing as the glass scratched her.

With a muffled thump, the girl fell to the carpeted floor on the interior. She kept moving, crawling into a row of cubicles, her bloody fingers leaving prints in the fibers of the carpet.. Tea let herself halt under the desk of one cubicle, clapping her hands over her mouth to muffle the sound of her panicked breathing.

What to do? What could she do? How could she possibly kill a giant?

A row of cubicles to her right was suddenly airborne. It flew through the air to smash into the far wall, propelled by the giant's massive hand. Tea cringed, blue eyes wide.

The second sweep of the giant's fist brought her back to herself though, and she lunged clear as he demolished her hiding place. Tea knew that if she lost, the employees who worked here, in this building, would suddenly find themselves in bizarre upheaval, dead and dying and soon to be eaten. The knowledge gave her strength, and she stood, ignoring the pain (and the glass jutting out of her skin ew ew ew). She glared out at the giant, who had his face pressed against the building to peer in at her with, to her fury, amusement.

"You are not entirely unworthy of being the bearer of the stone," he boomed, and she could she his enormous teeth quite well at this angle, the size of boulders, the color of marble.

"Thanks," Tea wheezed, because Ryou's politeness was contagious, and then she whipped a knife out of her sleeve and hurled it into his eye.

He roared, and the sound was terrible. But she kept her wits about her, and when his fist shot out towards her, she jumped up and over his balled up hand, racing the length of his arm. He swung it wildly, but Tea stabbed her machete into his elbow and hung on that way, blood spurting up around her blade. He brought his other hand down upon her. She jumped clear, catching onto his sleeve and clambering frantically around to his back where he could not reach her as easily.

Her muscles burned from the exertion, and where her sweat ran into her open wounds it burned as well.

The giant attempted to swat her off, but she clung to the middle of his back, where only the most flexible people can reach. Big the giant was, but flexible he was not. Stealthily, the girl removed the rope from her back and tied it around a clump in the giant's shirt to mimic her presence there. Then, as lightly as possible, the girl clambered up to the giant's shoulder. Her ruse worked, although she knew it would not for long.

Reaching into her backpack, she drew out her chainsaw. As soon as she activated it, the noise would alert the giant to her plan; she had to time this perfectly.

Unfortunately for her, this was the moment the giant caught onto her deception, ripping free the rope and beholding it with a yell of fury.

"Where are you girl?!" he bellowed, and the volume of that yell at such close proximity cause Tea's ears to bleed. He waved his head from side to side, trying to find her. Panicked, Tea made her move.

Barely keeping her balance, she sprinted across his shoulder and latched onto one of his locks of hair as it whipped her way. Holding onto it, she swung back across his face as he turned his head again.

There was a second where she stared directly into his one remaining eye (blue like her eyes were blue) andd then she fired up the chainsaw using one hand and her teeth and hurled herself at his neck.

The vibrating blade drove right into and through his flesh; she braced herself on his collar and swept the machine in a wide arc all the war across his throat.

Blood erupted from the wound. It poured over the girl, still warm and steaming. It came in such a flood that the girl had to struggle to breathe. She lost her hold and began to tumble down, but a single large palm caught her and raised her back up to the level of the giant's face.

For a second she thought he would surely crush her with his dying strength, for all he would need to do would be to close his fingers. But he merely caught her gaze (blue to blue) and gave a strange sort of half-smile.

"Well done," he rasped weakly, red bursting in bubbles upon his lips. Then the light died in his eye and his jaw went slack. His hand dropped, and Tea clung onto his fingers as the wind tore at her. He fell to his knees with a crash and then toppled forward.

With a gasp, Tea lost her grip and dropped down and down to the ground. She landed, and knew one moment of terrible pain, but then darkness overcame her vision.


The pale boy sighed as he surveyed the crumpled form on the pavement. Already the giant's body was dissolving, particles of light whirling through the air to fade into the stone on the hand of the prone girl. The tree was pulling itself back down from the window to re-root in the ground; the pavement was smoothing itself out as though new. All damage done was being unmade, and the boy knew it would not be long until the citizenry of the city reappeared. That being so, he made his way over to the girl and hefted her up over his shoulder. It wouldn't do for her to appear from mid-air with so many witnesses about.

Her weight was nothing to him, and he carried her back down the street with no difficulty, pausing only to gather her discarded weaponry and store it back in her bag.

The girl's breath mussed his hair; he scowled, but almost fondly. He felt a flash of regret for the knowledge he had withheld from her, but that was alright. He would take care of things, make it so she never had to know.

"Now where to put you," he mused aloud to the sleeping girl. They couldn't keep walking the streets like this, any minute the people would return and-

The people should have returned by now.

The pale boy suddenly twisted around, careful not to jostle the girl on his back. He could sense others of his kind present in he vicinity, several of them. What madness was this? The rules of the challenge were being broken, disregarded as if they meant nothing.

Which, to most of his kind, was indeed what they meant, the boy concluded grimly. Whoever was destroying the barrier had given those of his world the chance to override the normal mandates of the rite of challenge, and they had clearly seized upon the opportunity.

Well then. With his sharp teeth set in a snarl, the pale boy picked up his speed, leaving his brethren behind. He grew a bit less anxious when the people of the city suddenly popped into being around them, indicating they had put distance between them and their pursuers.

Still, it wouldn't be long before they were after Tea once more, and she was in no condition to fight again.

But then, if the rules were broken by his kindred, perhaps he and Tea could break them as well. He rather hoped so, or they would both die very soon.


Marik was not amused. He was normally very amused, because he found a large range of things amusing, including pain and blood and death, and hiding in the back of Tea's pink infested closet. But it was hard to be amused when there was no one around to amuse him. The little Bakura had gone away on some errand or other, so Marik had no one to terrify by popping out of corners, and Tea, changing, surprising, hilarious Tea, had not yet returned either. The little Bakura, Ryou, had left him a pile of newspaper clippings advertising jobs, with a pointed comment about Marik's obligation to help with rent.

Marik had waited until he had left, then eaten the newspaper clippings one by one.

But that had been only the work of a minute, and from that point on the man had nothing to occupy the perils of his attention.

Marik was not amused. Marik was bored. And a bored Marik was a destructive Marik.

Firstly he went through the apartment and removed all the light bulbs and taped them to the underside of chairs. At this he grinned, imagining the many furious faces the girl would make when she saw what he had done.

Next he rearranged all the plate ware, so that when Little Bakura went to bake he would not know where anything was. Little Bakura did not get angry as easily as the girl, but he did make wonderfully tired sighs, as though weary down to the bone.

Marik was just dropping knives into the toaster when the door was opened. There was no sound of the key in the lock, which struck the tall Egyptian as interesting since he knew the door had been locked.

Marik blinked his violently purple eyes, something predatory entering them. His teeth shone white against his tan skin; this could be amusing.

"It's not nice to break into people's houses," he chided without turning around. "Especially if you're not me." Whirling, he hurled a knife at the intruder.

To his surprise (and disgruntlement, since he liked it when people bled), his blade (miserable dull dinner knife that it was) was halted in its flight, slender fingers snatching it out of the air.

A pale boy with dark hair stood in the doorway, umbrella in one hand, and this boy was not human. Marik knew this, knew it by the way he knew himself to not be full human either. But this did not get as much of his attention as it might have otherwise, since the pale boy had Tea (marvelous angry volatile brilliant Tea) draped over his back, and Tea was covered in blood.

"Someone's in trouble," the Egyptian snarled, his eyes narrowed into slits as his mind churned ( how best to kill the boy, how best to rip his bones out of his pale skin without destroying the amusement that was the girl, the Tea girl so limp and still. He wasn't done with Tea, bizarre and changeable and growing Tea, not yet, not soon either.)

"Whatever you're thinking of doing," spat the pale, paler than pale boy. "Do us all a favor, and don't. She's going to bleed out unless we bandage her injuries."

Marik loped over to him, lavender eyes sharp. The pale boy sneered at him (and look at those teeth, so sharp and white- ooh, Marik wanted those teeth, wanted them piled in his hands with the incisors on top) and moved around him, supernaturally silent. He lay Tea on the couch, but then hovered uncertainly over her battered form.

He stared expectantly at Marik, who blinked lazily back. This normally annoyed Ryou and alternately exasperated and infuriated Tea, but the pale boy reacted differently. He laughed, guttural and short. His dark eyes (darker than the tomb Marik had been twisted into being in, darker than the space between stars) shifted away from Marik, and he strode confidently down the small hallway, tossing a parting comment over his shoulder.

"Don't know what I expected of a half-person," the pale boy said, and the remark is more injurious in that it is delivered without any particular malice. He re-appeared quickly, the first aid looking strangely out-of-place in his pale as moon hands. He set to work quickly, unrolling a long strand of gauze and placing it over the girl's injuries.

However, it soon became clear that despite the quick fluidity of his motions, he had absolutely no idea what he was actually doing. The gauze ended up in small mountains of cloth draped lightly over the girl's wounds, rather than wrapped around, and he didn't even use any of the disinfectant sprays.

Marik, against his greater desire to be as annoying as possible, decided that an intervention was necessary in order to preserve the source of amusement otherwise known as Tea Gardner.

With little fanfare, he bodily shouldered the pale boy aside (and it burned a bit, where his shoulder brushed the other's, burned like a night in which all the stars had turned away). Disdainfully, he swept aside the not-human's (even less human than he was human) attempts at bandaging, smirking at the boy as he did so.

The boy did not react beyond a slow, unimpressed blink, and Marik huffed. What a dull creature.

He turned his attention to the Tea-girl, so changed and un-changed. It'd been something he'd been thinking about recently, in between random bouts of household destruction. She'd changed (bolder, fiercer, happier and sadder at once), but the change was less in who she is and more in how she expresses who she is. Still an idiot who cared too much for friendship and morality, all rainbows and smiles.

An idiot to be sure, and yet Marik didn't mind that idiocy as he once did. Because behind the rainbows and kindness was steel and brutal determination, and her loyalty was mixed with ferocity when challenged. And Marik respected that. Respected the punch thrown in his face, respected the blood spilled from her skin. And oh, beyond respect, he delighted in the twist of her face, from laughing to scowling, from pensive to fierce.

A strange and enthralling idiot, and Marik wondered if maybe he had learned something of change from her after all, because standing over her now, wounded and prone (so still, her face drawn and bruised), he felt a new something creep-crawling over his insides. It felt like rage, but twisted and dampened and focused.

This was a new sort of rage, and he savored its bite, even as he wound strips of bandages around the girl's worst wounds.

The pale boy observed him keenly as he worked. "You're more competent than you appear," he mentioned off-handedly, around those moonlit fangs.

Marik couldn't decide if that was an insult or not, so he resolved to try and set the boy's hair on fire just to be safe. Sadly, there were more pressing matters to be attended to.

"What stupid little thing ripped up funny Tea so badly?" he asked lightly, beginning to pick bits of glass from her skin. That new odd anger swelled up as he asked; it talked about knives and blood and magic that could shatter a person's bones in their flesh.

"Little," the pale boy snorted. "Ha. What did it is dead. She won."

Marik very lightly bit down on his lower lip. He reminded himself that it would do no good to wring the pale boy by his paler neck, that doing so would give no answers to the questions buzzing like wasps in his brain, stringing at the inside of his skull. It would do no good (but feel so nice), and Tea girl when she woke up might actually try and kick him out.

"I'll answer some of your questions if you'll answer some of mine," the boy offered, and Marik wondered briefly if the strange not-human could read his thoughts. But no, Marik knew the way it felt to have one's mind intruded upon; this was not that. This was a genuine negotiation, and that meant that this not-human slice of moon and midnight wanted information just as badly as he, Marik did.

A slow grin spread over his tan face-he had leverage now. "Where even to start?" he mused aloud.

"You could start," interrupted a shaky but furious voice. "By telling me what the blazes happened to Tea!"

Marik and the pale boy turned to regard a rather red-faced Ryou, who had arrived unnoticed in the open doorway.

Marik blinked slowly (because this was a precious part of what he had given up revenge for, this sweet marvelous hilarity that was an angry Ryou) and smiled sweetly. "Oh welcome home, Ryou," he expressed pleasantly, and even the pale boy arched a brow as the British boy released an unbridled shriek of frustration.

Thanks for reading! Love to you all!