Chapter 9 - I'm Alive

Yami shuddered, pushing himself back into his home, his safe haven. The Shadows couldn't get him there. No…no, of course they could. He could never escape from them. Never.

Yami 's fingers pierced his skill, his palms pressing into his ears. Crimson eyes were glued open, think pupils shaking in fear. 'What's wrong? What's going on? Why are they active!?'

They were supposed to be resting at ease. He had even wandered off the day before so they could find souls to keep their hunger in check, so he was SURE Yugi would be safe...they were not supposed easily triggered...

"So why, why, why why WHY.!" Yami shouted, shaking his head vigorously, body arched against the rotting door of his home.

"We must we go," the Shadows hissed into his mind, their blackness licking Yami's shoulders. "We have to go, GO host pitiful host FOLLOW THE BOY! We must follow him, we must kill him! We MUST GO HOST!" The Shadows screamed, using Yami's mouth to speak. Yami shivered, trying to bit back the Shadows voice as it ripped from his throat.

"I CAN'T please don't, please please just leave him alone..." His knees buckled as he fell to the ground, trying to plead between the Shadows river of words. "Please, just this once, let someone live...please…please, please stop...please just let him live..."

Yami dug his nails into his skull and a trickle of blood trailed out under his fingers. He cried out, body arched over his knees and forehead grinding into the ground. He continued to plead, his works slowly fading to minute mumbles. Yami suddenly winced, his shoulders rising, before they gradually relaxed. His arms slowly drifted from his head to lie haphazardly on the ground.

Yami's head lifted gradualy from his knees, Shadows swirling in his irises. The Shadows brought his body to a standing position, a smirk forming over his lips. They shuffled his body forward, Yami still pushing against the Shadows from the inside.

"My host, we will find him - they have to die, they cannot ruin us. Let's play a game host, let's play a fun, fun game, and see how long you last."

-Break-

The sun lowered in the sky, the buildings catching a glimpse of the fading orange rays through the gray clouds that surrounded the city. A convoy bustled about, men packing up the lab gear for the day. Soldiers helped with moving heavy tables, and others in lap coats compiled their notes into multiple folders that were laid out on the ground. One soldier with bright green eyes stood watch, his visor reflecting the scenery in front of him. The man narrowed his eyes as a shifting shadow caught his attention. He raised his gun, eyes alert and sharp. He stared into the shifting shadows, not noticing the slowly darkening sky.

The soldier motioned to the rest of his party, waving his hand to indicate defense. The other soldiers raised their guns, many moving themselves strategically around the researchers. The green-eyed soldier inched forward, boots crunching over the barren concrete.

"Who's there?" he called out, positioning his finger on the trigger.

The figure shuffled forward, limping on their right leg. The soldiers kept their guns held high, adrenaline running like fire through their limps.

Colorful tri-colored hair came into view, then tattered, torn cloths. A body wobbled into focus, thin limps protruding from a dirty shirt. The soldier with the green eyes slowly lowered his weapon inching forward.

"Hey, you okay?"

Yami's grimace was not seen by the soldier as the Shadows continued to move him forward. 'Damn you Shadows' He muttered in in his mind. 'Damn you, don't you dare think you can…'

SILLY HOST!The Shadows exclaimed, in his mind, giddy. We are not going to kill these luscious, delicious things yet. No no no nononono, OUR DEAR HOST we have plans. You have wanted us gone so long-yes, yes you have OH YES. So DEAR HOST we shall BE GONE! But do not worry dear host we will not be far…we will not be far…

Yami winced as he felt the Shadows slowly seep out of his muscles and into the corner of his mind. Suddenly, he felt his soul thrust back into his body. Yami gasped, his knees quivering as he crumbled to the ground, his muscles too weak on their own to hold him up

They laughed. They laughed and laughed and Yami could only listen and pray the soldier would stay away. His prayers went unanswered as he heard footsteps pounded over dirt and Yami felt the man touch his shoulder. The soldier slowly turned Yami over so he was lying on his back. Yami coughed harshly, cracking his eyes, trying to plead with the man with his gaze 'Please, please leave me…'

"Hey there, you ok? You look like you've been out here for weeks!" The soldier exclaimed, reaching into his belt and unhooking his canister. "Here drink some water."

Yami tried to shake his head but he could barely move, his body too weak without the Shadows help. He could not even remember the last time he had complete control over his body. He opened his mouth to retort, but all that came out were harsh, raspy groans. The soldier took the chance, gently tipping water down his throat. Yami coughed harshly, his whole body moving with each cough, but his body accepted the water greedily.

"P..ple…a…se…le…ave….me…." he managed to grind out once the water had ceased to pour. The soldier shook his head, clicking the canister back on his belt and reaching under Yami's shoulder's and knees to lift him off of the ground.

"No way, we're getting you back to base. You need to get to a hospital."

Yami grimaced. "N…no….no…" but he was unheard as he felt himself being carried back to a van, and his vision began to blur. "Plea…se…you…will…" his voice trailed off as darkness and sound ceased and he fell into laughing Shadows.

-Break-

The dense smell of sterilized sheets and latex gloves slowly waved into Yugi's nose. He wrinkled the appendage, brows creasing in annoyance at the intense smells.

He never did enjoy hospitals much. Then again who does?

His eyes slowly opened, expecting to be hit with an onslaught of sunlight, but instead his gaze met a dark and empty room. There was a dull beeping next to him, but otherwise it was absolutely silent. Yugi slowly inched his head to the left, squinting his eyes at the machine. His eyes roamed the walls, looking for any indication of a clock.

His eyes finally fell on a dim analog clock near his bed, reading 2:08am.

Yugi groaned, slowly letting his body relax back into the sheets. He the lifted his arms from his side and placed them on his chest. He patted his ribs.

"Nothing hurts," he murmured, voice cracking. He flexed his fingers, toes, moved his neck. Everything felt good. Nothing hurt.

That was good...so then why was he in the hospital?

Violet eyes widened as the last many weeks flooded back.

"...Yami..." barely a whisper in the wind. His heart clenched and a dull ache expanded through his chest. "I found Jounouchi...I'm back..." tears began to well in his eyes, from relief and despair. He vaguely heard his heart monitor begin to speed, as he choked out a harsh whimper. "I'm back, I'm alive..." he raised his fist to his mouth, biting down on it to distract himself from the ache in his chest.

The light flicked on, a nurse running over to his side.

Yugi raised his other arm over his eyes and sobbed into it, tears cascading down his cheeks, mumbling over and over "I'm alive...I'm back and I left him...but I'm alive..."

Yugi continued to hiccup through his tears, the nurse merely sitting and waiting for the episode to be over, her hand placed gingerly on his arm. As Yugi began to calm, she gently offered him a cup. Yugi slowly raised his arm off his face, slowly taking the water she offered and drinking it.

Once he finished, she took the cup, patting his shoulder. "I'll give your grandfather a call now to let him know you woke up. He wanted to be told as soon as possible, even if it was the middle of the night. But don't worry, he won't come out at night, but he will probably be here bright and early tomorrow."

Yugi nodded, thanking the nurse before lying back down and trying to drift to sleep, but the memories plagued him. He knew the Shadows weakness. He knew how they existed in the world.

He knew how to kill them.

But...

SLAM

Yugi jumped nearly, falling from his bed as he was crushed in a large hug. Shaggy blond hair tickled his face, and caring brown eyes glared down at him.

"J-Jounouchi..."

"Don' you DARE do tha' again YUGI!" Jounouchi yelled, making his friend flinch. Jounouchi sniffed, bringing his best friend into a stronger hug, his head leaning on the others for support. "Man we wer' so worried 'bout ya'...you...I didn' think I was gona see ya ever again Yug...I really didin..."

Yugi smiled, returning the hug. "I'm sorry I worried you Jou. I didn't mean to."

They hugged in comfortable silence before Jounouchi moved back, coughing in embarrassment, before sitting down in one of the hospital chairs.

Yugi grinned. "So how did you get here so fast? Were you waiting outside my room or something?"

Jounoiuchi, though still teary-eyed, laughed. "Naw, you're at the hosbital at the base. I'm on duty. But they said I could come down if you woke up."

"That's nice of them," Yugi chided. Jounouchi nodded, before drifting off into an awkward silence. Yugi wrung his hands, not used to having such a silence with his best friend.

"...Yugi..."

The other glanced up. "Hm?"

Jounouchi opened and closed his mouth a few times, trying to find the right words. "How...how are you alive man? I mean, I am happy, so happy you are here but...you were out thar for weeks man..." he leaned over his uniform-clad knees, arms dangling over his legs. "How...are you alive?"

Silence.

Jounouchi finally looked up to see Yugi not meeting his gaze. The other had his eyes fixated on his own hands, fingers gripping the sheets.

"...Yug?"

Violet eyes flickered to meet his, before breaking contact. Jounouchi stared. Yugi never was afraid to make eye contact. He rose up, walking forward and sitting down next to Yugi on the bed.

"Yugi Motou...what happened?"

"I..." Yugi started before shaking his head. "I don't know...how to explain it. Nor do I feel like I can..."

Suddenly Jounouchi shot to his feet, backing away. "You ain' possessed by the Shadows are ya!?"

Yugi barked out a laugh. "No Jounouchi I'm not. Besides, if I was, they would have killed you by now."

Jounouchi chuckled though it died quickly on his tongue. "Ah yeah…Probably. So...how are you here then?" he pressed, still not moving back closer to Yugi.

There was a long pause before Yugi finally whispered "...I met someone..." Jounouchi stared at him, watching as a soft smile wove its way over Yugi's lips. "I met someone who was able to protect me from the Shadows, and he helped me get back."

Jounouchi blinked, before crossing his arms, unconvinced. "You was in the centa' and met some dude who was just livin thar? Who could somehow keep ta Shadows at bay? I ain't buying it Yug, what really happened?" Yugi's eyed softened, his shoulders dropping.

'Should have known he wouldn't believe me with just that small bit of info. Jou's always wanted to know everything. I guess I mind as well tell him the whole truth…' He thought, taking in a breath.

"That is what happened Jou. I met someone who lived at the center. He…he's the only person who even has a chance to control the Shadows." He paused, still mulling over if it was right to tell Jounouchi. The hesitation soon died, as he locked eyes with Jounouchi and kept the contact. "He is the one the Shadows come from. They rely on this man to exist. The person, who helped me, gave me food and helped me get home, is the anchor for the Shadows. I…I found the reason the Shadows exist."

A stiff silence. Jounouchi's eyes were wide shining with disbelief, fear...hope? "You mean to say..." he finally looked away. "That da Shadows existence is because of some guy? Just some normal guy? And he protected ya...why...Yugi I don't understand, I just..." Jounouchi sat down in the guest chair. "How can the Shadows come from a guy...is it like, some chemical experiment gone wrong, like dem superhero villains?"

Yugi shook his head. "I don't know how it all works, but no it's not a chemical. The Shadows are…alive. The person I met merely is their host, he is the connector for them to this world, though I don't know where they come from. The Shadows need him to survive."

Jounouchi raised his head. "So all we have to do is kill this guy, and that's it? This nightmare is over?"

Yugi's eyes hardened and he suddenly felt a boiling anger in his gut at the mention of killing Yami. "You can't kill him! It's not his fault that all this happened, the Shadows are merely a parasite that uses him to live!" Yugi took in a breath, trying to calm himself from the onslaught of strong, and almost foreign, emotion. "Besides he is not some guy. His name is Yami and you can't kill him. He's immortal. The Shadows won't let him die."

A/N – Hey everyone! I realized that I should get in one more update for 2013. Of course I wait until the last minute! Hahaha. So, thank you all so much again for sticking with me through all this. I know this story has been a terribly long one to wait for an ending, and I'm going to try my damnest to get it done next year. It's possible.

I have started a full-time job, so I do not have as much time in a day to review and write, but I am going to really push during the spring to get the rest written so all I have to do is review, edit and post.

You guys make writing amazing, and I can't thank you all enough for sticking with me through this journey. Love you all, HAPPY NEW YEAR!