My love for Yu-Gi-Oh has been reborn! I've spent the last few days watching old episodes and reading my manga again. And itching to get back into fanfiction.

(None of this story is meant to imply yaoi.)

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

I'm home.

Well, not quite. But it's what I consider to be home. It's the place where I feel comfortable and has the people I care about most. It's also the place I've been longing to see so desperately for the last while. The place I've wanted to be. Five years of this timeline I've been gone, living – if it could be classed as such – in a timeless realm with those of my first life.

The afterlife. The goal which I sought for so long. I finally achieved it, and so left all my modern friends – and my partner – behind. It was where I was meant to be, the place I was always heading towards. And while it was everything that could be expected…it wasn't right.

I saw my father again, my mother, all who had fallen from battle or age but had been with me in the past. I was welcomed with open arms and quiet ceremony. I was back where I belonged, supposedly. Back where I had always meant to be. But it didn't feel right. I didn't feel right being there.

I don't know how long I had been there before the sense of displacement started to creep upon me. The feeling that I was out of place here, in this bright world of the Gods. That every other person with me – mother, father, the priests, even Mana – was somehow far more comfortable here than I ever could be. The feeling lasted…days? I do not know how time was measured in the afterlife, if it was measured at all. But sometime after identifying the initial feeling, I began to realise what it was.

I missed my second life. My modern life. I missed the new friends I had made, missed duelling, and missed my 'new' world. But above everything, I missed Yugi. Yugi who had been with me every step of the – and suddenly our parting seemed so sudden. There wasn't really any time for words or for a proper goodbye. I finally could admit it to myself: even if was what I was supposed to do after everything Yugi and I had been through was to move on, I hadn't been ready to leave.

My discomfort was noticed by some others. Mana, for she knew me best, and my father, were the first. The noticed something was wrong, and took occasion to speak to me about it. At first I tried to convince them, as well as myself, that everything was fine and this was where I belonged. But they knew me better than that, and soon I confessed my longing to see those I had left behind again, to live the life I had been.

Mana felt disappointed she could not help me, but my father merely looked thoughtful before leaving my side. I did not know where he was going until later, when I was summoned by Ra himself.

My father, it turned out, had left my side to ask advice of the Gods and argue that I be given the second chance I so dearly wanted. After patiently hearing my father's words, Ra had consented to give thought to his request. I was being summoned to give my own thoughts on the matter – and this time, I knew lying would not do me any help.

As calmly as I could – speaking to the Gods is not something to be done lightly – I explained my desires. I wanted to see my friends again, and see my partner. I was out of place here; I had made another identity for myself in the future world and was always going to partly be that person. Ra, almighty God of the Sun, watched me under unblinking eye. My father also implored, with my gratitude, that after all I had done and how young I was, I should be given a life to live.

And Ra the almighty agreed.

He cautioned me that the world had aged while I had been here in Paradise, and although here time was not measured or noticed, that five years had gone by in Domino City. I replied I did not mind, and still wanted to return. He nodded once, and I was standing before him not in the Egyptian finery of royalty, but in modern clothing similar to what Yugi and I had worn. I also felt slightly heavier in body, for Ra had also given my body five more years: I was as I would have been should I have lived to twenty-two. There was a murmur from those watching (for my court had accompanied me out of curiosity and support) and I took the chance to speak briefly to them, wishing them all well and promising I would see them again. For I would, but only when the Gods decreed it for a second time.

I turned back to Ra and stood before him. He nodded once to me, and suddenly I was standing in the middle of Domino Park, and a wet and windy afternoon. I was thankful Ra had given me a long black coat with a hood as part of my apparel, for the rain was icy and evidently it was winter. I pulled up the hood.

I did not take me long to find my way through the familiar streets and back to the Kame Game Shop Yugi's Grandfather owned. And now, here I stand, basking in the reality of it all.

Home.

I hesitated outside the game shop door. What was holding me back? Through this one door was everything I had wanted back. Five years older.

As I was hesitating, another man came up behind me and I moved aside to let him in. As he opened the door, I quickly slipped in after him, turning my attention to a display of Duel Monsters cards – five years and evidently still popular – and listened to what was going on behind me.

"Hello, I'm looking for Yugi Muto?" The man's voice, polite and inqurining. My breath caught as I heard the name he mentioned. Yugi!

"That's me, sir. How can I help you?" The reply – was that Yugi's voice? It still had the same sincere ring to it, but it was…older. Just a bit deeper. I moved slightly so I could see around the display to the counter.

Yugi was leaning on the shopkeeper side of the counter. Five years had been kind to him – he was taller! As tall as I was now, at least. His eyes were still as I remembered them, but otherwise he had grown. He was leaner now, made more of muscle than thin bone: no longer a skinny teenager. But I could see reality he was still the same Yugi I had known – our identical hair, pointed and tri-coloured as always, the same bright, open face. Just…a bit older. But still my soul brother, whom I loved very much.

"You're Yugi?" The man seemed surprised. "I expected someone older."

Yugi laughed – the same laugh. "Many do. How can I help you?"

"I'm Jason's father. He's ill today, but said you had a card he was meant to pick up?"

Yugi bent down for a moment, removing a box from a low shelf. "Yes, I saw he didn't come this afternoon. It's the Dark Magician he wanted. I'm about to close, it was lucky you got here in time."

"So you're the one who runs the after-school group?"

I frowned, puzzled but curious. After-school group?

Yugi was nodding. "It's not really anything official. I offer free deck-building and duelling advice to those who want it, and run the store after I get back from University."

"What are you studying?" the man asked curiously as Yugi carefully wrapped up the card for safe transportation.

"History and archaeology." Yugi paused for a moment. "I have a personal interest in Ancient Egypt." As he spoke he fingered an Eye of Horus charm on a chain around his neck that I hadn't noticed before. I smiled. Five years then, but not forgotten.

The man nodded. "Not much money in that though."

"It's more about the discoveries," Yugi replied politely. "And I am still an exhibition duellist. Some people pay ludicrous amounts for an exhibition duel – they pay me to do what I love!"

"A perk of being the undefeated world champion, right?" The man laughed, picked up the card and wished Yugi a good day. He turned to leave – and I suddenly realised this would leave the two of us alone in the store. Before I knew it, I had walked out in the man's wake. I was a few meters down the road before I stopped myself. Why had I done that?

I breathed deep. I was…scared. Nervous was perhaps a better word. After all, it had been five years for Yugi – and the others. And he was okay. Still world champion at Duel Monsters – I couldn't help but feel a bit of pride in my partner for that. Still duelling. What would happen – or what could happen if I walked back inside?

Might I interrupt his life in some way? He was getting on okay without me, and suddenly reappearing wouldn't help. But…he had mentioned studying archaeology. A personal interest in Ancient Egypt.

There was no denying that. Five years on, I was still in his thoughts. Not forgotten.

I turned back to the game shop. The light was off now. There was nothing for it, nervous as I was for his reaction. I didn't know I how would react had our positioned been reversed. He probably had given himself up to the thought of never seeing me again. I had, after all, when I entered the afterlife.

I stood outside the door, in the pouring rain, and knocked.

ooooooooooooooooooooooo

The day had been long. I was looking forward to a hot tea and some television, before Joey came back from work later and we had to start on the Egyptian Mythology essay. Even five years on, Yami was influencing me. Joey and I both were aiming for archaeology, and he was living here now. After school finished and Grandpa passed away, I had too much space to myself. So Joey and I lived in the apartment and we still had an extra bedroom.

The game shop was mine too. I opened after classes finished, to sell and advise younger duellists. Duel Monsters still sold big, and did Duke Dungeon Dice Monsters. I was the leading stockist in the city: mainly because I could get whatever sent to me by Duke!

It was a good life. Exhibition duels and occasional tournaments allowed me to keep the shop in good repair and look after the house bills – even though Joey worked so he could pay his way too. I was pretty much set for life, already. It was a strange thought.

I was finishing restocking the shelves when there was a knock on the door.

"Sorry, we're closed," I called out.

The knock came again.

"Come back tomorrow." I really wanted that hot chai tea.

It came again, this time just once, as if whoever it was had hit out with their fist once. I sighed. Anyone who came out in this weather then stood in the rain…I should be nice to.

I went over and unlocked the door. Pulling it open, I came face to hood with a figure leaning on the doorframe, soaked through.

"Can I help you?" I asked gently.

"Yugi?"

I stopped dead. That voice. I knew that voice. He raised his head to look at me, and I was looking at violet eyes. Eyes which I knew well.

"By almighty Ra…" I whispered. Was this an apparition? Or my mind playing tricks?

My other half, my soul brother, my darker half who I loved more than the world – had come home.

Without stopping to think, I pulled him out of rain and into a hug, which he returned. I hadn't ever dreamed I would see him again. He had died – well, technically he had. I had grieved to be alone for a while, but I had moved on. He was never far from my thoughts, true, but I had just continued with life. There hadn't been anything else I could do.

I pushed him back gently, and stood with my hand on his shoulders, just looking at him. He wasn't different. Well, not much. A bit…older? Like me…at least I could now meet him eye to eye without having to look up.

This was incredible. I had missed him so much – it is hard to adapt to life alone when you've been living with a voice inside your head for a few years. He shivered involuntarily, and I came back to myself. Who knows how long he'd been out in the rain? Curing my foolishness, I closed and locked the door and led my strangely silent darker half through to the kitchen.

He was smiling, in an exhausted way. I put a mug of hot chai tea down in front of him and he sipped gratefully, before looking up at me and smiling broadly.

I was still stunned. "How…how are you here? I thought I'd never see you again."

He signed and told me all about the afterlife and feeling out of place, of the discussions with the Gods, and of Ra's decree. How he was sent back, given a second chance to replace the life that was taken from him so early.

He looked over at me again, and suddenly we found ourselves dissolving into laughter. Laughter of relief, of joy, of happiness. Before long we were sprawled in front of the fire and Yami was quizzing me on everything that had happened in the last five years.

Tea was in New York, studying dance. Tristan was in the army now. Kaiba was…Kaiba. Duke was designing games, and Serenity was engaged to him. Joey was studying and living with me. Malik, Isis and Odion were still hosting Egyptian exhibits and on the Council of Egyptian Antiquities. Grandpa died a few years ago, leaving me everything.

"Right." Yami went quiet for a moment. "I didn't think I'd ever see you again, aibou."

I nodded solemnly. "I didn't think so, either. I missed you. We all did."

Silence fell between us. Somehow, I knew everything would be all right. He would take some time to adjust, sure, but he was here. He was home. I felt whole again, even if I didn't want to admit that I hadn't been after he left. I reached out and placed a hand on his shoulder. His eyes met mine.

"Just checking you were real," I shrugged, grinning. "It's still hard to believe."

He nodded, uncharacteristically solemn. Then he sat up and pulled me into another strong embrace, which I returned gratefully. I had missed him, so very, very much. The events of five years ago still were fresh in mind, and although seeing Yami had momentarily brought the pain of his leaving back, it was soothed by his presence. I felt such happiness inside me; I had not been truthful with myself about just how much I had missed him after he left.

Yami released me and took another mouthful of his drink. "How are you? You look…taller, for a start, but otherwise just as I remember. How have you been these past five years?"

I laughed. "Okay, all in all. After you left things were rocky for a time…it took me a while to get back into the swing of things without you. I didn't realise just how accustomed I had grown to your presence, your friendship. There was almost a feeling of a death for a while – like it was a subject no one else brought up. But I kept living each day," I held up the Eye of Horus. "I grew a bit more attached to Ancient Egypt. When I graduated, I stayed here in Domino to pursue archaeology. Joey too, he lives here with me. Everything was left to me when Grandpa passed away."

Yami was nodding as he listened. He sighed , running his hand through his hair. "I'm sorry for everything I put you through, Yugi. It never occurred to me what I would leave behind, or how you and the others would be affected, until it happened. I found myself wanting to see you more and more. But I think we were ready to separate and be independent. But I wasn't ready to leave."

"I wasn't ready for that, either. Yami?"

"Yes, aibou?"

"Welcome home."

oooooooooooooooooooooooo

This story was born out of the mental image of Yami standing at the doorway in the pouring rain. It's not much, I didn't know where I was going with it when I started. But still, I like where it went.

Read and review!