The Art of Mediation
A Yu-Gi-Oh! fan fiction by Hitokiri-san
A/N: Ishizu should be glad. The petty argument, finally, is going somewhere; with any luck she might even be able to go back to Egypt in peace soon. While the story does not end with this chapter – I have encountered the familiar problem of "Crap, since when did the chapter get this long?", but I am confident that I can…probably…possibly…wrap it up in the next.
Er. This sounds familiar for some reason, but you should probably believe me.
The chapter in a nutshell: Atem is curiously naïve, Yugi stands his ground, and Yugi's mother is traumatized. Jounouchi and Honda prove to be honourable friends. Meanwhile, Ishizu sits around in Kaiba's office and presumably drinks tea – I cannot be too sure.
That said, on with the story!
Yugi was hardly able to believe it at first, but Atem had made a niche for himself in Japan with a sort of eerie ease. They had Kaiba's papers to prove it, after all; some vague explanation about how he'd grown up outside of Japan, and people had simply accepted him without much fuss.
It had, Yugi thought dourly, something to do with the aura his other half gave off. He inspired faith in most people, even when he wasn't telling the truth. Something Yugi couldn't quite manage even if his life depended on it.
Yugi's classmates and other acquaintances were easy enough to fool as well. While they were all amazed that Yugi actually had a twin brother – they had never heard anything of the sort from the short boy before – the sad fact was that none of them were close enough to know it wasn't the truth.
It made Atem angry that no one, other than their usual friends, had taken the effort to understand Yugi better, but Yugi himself was ecstatic at this development.
"It's actually working!" the boy proclaimed when they got home, hands thrown jubilantly into the air, and Yami found it difficult not to contract his excitement. "The other me, we've done it! Now you're officially 'Mutou Atem'! I can't believe it, Kaiba-kun is just so cool!"
Kaiba, when one had earned his respect (which was improbable if not impossible, seeing that he'd only ever held respect for two people on this planet: Yami and Yugi), proved to be an extremely resourceful man. Yugi would be forever awed by how easily the CEO had managed to forge documents and admit Yami (illegally) into Japanese borders.
Despite his aibou's explanation, Yami had a hard time fathoming why he would need pieces of paper to prove his identity. He supposed it was one of those modern world intrigues he would have to learn over time.
"I'm glad," he'd replied with a heartfelt smile anyway, and watched curiously as Yugi busied himself with plugging up the Playstation in the living room.
Two hours later, he was considerably less glad.
While Yugi and Sugoroku flew off to Egypt "for a short sightseeing trip", Yugi's mother had taken the chance to visit her parents in Kansai ('Please leave other people's graves alone this time, Grandpa,' she'd warned, eyes narrowed knowingly). Since she spent the majority of her time raising her son and looking after her father-in-law in Domino, it had been a while since she'd seen her own parents.
When she finally returned from her trip, it was to see two Yugis seated in front of the television, engrossed in a fighting game against each other.
Eyes bulging in sheer shock, she'd dropped her luggage with a very audible thud. The two teenagers turned around at the noise, and promptly mirrored her expression. On the TV screen, Armour King and Law abruptly ceased their heated scuffle.
The resulting upset threw the household into instant chaos.
The twins story was enough to fool almost anyone, Yami thought darkly, except you couldn't exactly tell your mother she was supposed to have another son.
The fault was, Yami conceded, entirely theirs. They really should have remembered to break the news to her instead of springing it on her like this, but they had been too overwhelmed by everything that had happened to take this into account.
"Please don't be so upset, Aibou," he'd sighed when Yugi threw himself onto his bed after another session of heated argument, face scrunched up miserably. Yami had learnt to stay out of these clashes when he realized that his presence was only making things worse. "Mother is only trying to protect you and Grandpa. She doesn't know who I am or how much I should be trusted, after all."
Yami even sounded mildly approving of her decision. Apparently, it took one guardian to know another. Yugi glared half-heartedly at him over the Marshmallon plushy he'd gathered onto his lap.
"She should understand! She can't tell you to get out of the house like this, it is not fair –"
His other half cut him off gently. "What do you expect her to understand? You've only told her something along the line of 'this doppelganger of mine is staying permanently' and 'I refuse to tell you how or why'. You have to know that it is not fair on her, either. "
Yugi considered this, large purple eyes dim, and ventured, "…maybe if we think up a good enough story…"
"Aibou," he shook his head, smiling, but his tone was firm, "I refuse to lie to our mother on this. If we are to tell her anything at all, then it must be the truth."
Yugi tightened his hold on the plushy, distraught.
"You're right, the other me," the shorter boy acquiesced, lips thinning into a line, "but I don't think she has ears for the truth right now. She's positively livid out there." He glanced out of the room with the apprehension of a child who knew he'd incurred his mother's wrath.
"Please leave this to me, Aibou. I will find a time to smooth things over with Mother," the ex-pharaoh brushed a hand absently over his hair, "in the meantime, if it will appease her, I'll try to get an apartment nearby."
"The other me!" his aibou grabbed his arm, looking instantly alarmed, "when Grandpa and I said you can come back to Japan with us, we didn't mean we'll dump you out there to fend for your own!"
Yami frowned, and tried to look as consoling as he could. "This is only a temporary arrangement. I'll be right back when I've managed to straighten out this situation…"
"No," Yugi looked up, and there was that determined set to his eyes, the kind of look he got when he announced that he, and not Kaiba-kun, would be duelling Yami in the Ceremonial Duel, "your home is right here. No one can tell you to leave – not even Mom."
Atem was so thrown off he couldn't come up with an immediate reply.
The domestic war waged on.
"He said that?" Jounouchi's voice was wrought with surprise over the phone. The blond fell silent, probably stunned, and Yami sighed.
"Yes, he did," he rubbed his temple lightly, trying to ward off an oncoming headache, "thus the current predicament."
"Wow, that's manly!" if anything, their best friend sounded immensely proud, "that's my little guy!"
"Jounouchi-kun," Yami admonished, his tone weary from days of watching Yugi argue with his mother, "you're not helping. Aibou is just being plain stubborn – things would have been much simpler if he would just step back and let things cool down for a while."
"Uhm…" he could feel Jounouchi scratching his head uncertainly, "if you want me to talk to Yugi, I'll do that, but I can't promise I'll talk him out of what he's doing."
"…Jounouchi-kun. You know how upsetting it is for Aibou to argue with his mother. I wish he could allow me to handle this. This is why I'm asking for your help."
"Yeah, I know I know," Jounouchi said quickly, hearing the displeasure in his friend's voice, "but man, you have to understand. This is something like… something he thinks he has to do, you know what I mean? Like….taking over the duel when I was being brainwashed by Malik. Or heck, insisting on taking you on at the Ceremonial Duel. It might not be in his best interests to do that under the circumstances, but hell if he'd let people talk him out of it."
Jounouchi sounded fond. It was one of the most endearing traits Yugi possessed, and they all knew it too well.
"Do you think he would have left the Puzzle at the warehouse and ran because it was burning down?"
"Then how probable do you think he'll let anyone chase you out of the Game Shop?"
"…point taken, Jounouchi-kun," Yami sighed, recognizing the truth in Jounouchi's words. "It's just that the status quo worries me."
"You know, dude, these days you're sounding more and more like an overprotective motherh… ouch! What the hell, Honda? Gimme back the phone! I'm trying to talk to…"
There was a series of dull noise, as though something was getting hit, and Yami blinked at the contraption, curious. While he'd gotten used to the phone very quickly after his return, there were moments when the thing still managed to befuddle him. He could hear a faint "do you want to die a shadowy death?" coming from the phone, and decided to try again.
"Jounouchi-kun?" he ventured blankly, and Honda's voice cut in.
"…Insensitive idiot," his other friend muttered, and raised his voice. "Hey, Atem. What this guy is trying to say is that you'll probably have to lay low and let Yugi do his thing this time."
"Honda-kun, are you telling me to wait and do nothing while the situation deteriorates?" Yami inquired, more intrigued than offended. It was not often that Yugi's loyal friends would ignore Yugi's plight.
"I'm not saying that. I know you want to shield him from this mess and all that…but I reckon that sometimes, you should let Yugi have his own say. This isn't something you can solve by just moving out or duelling his mom into submission. You know he can do it, right?"
"Of course he can," he replied, instinctively, and continued rubbing his temple, "but I wish he could have let me handle it. There are times when I wish Aibou isn't so stubborn."
There was an amused snort at the other end of the phone. "You know, Atem, he learns from the best."
"Please don't be so upset, Aibou," watching Yugi plop onto one of the leather chairs around the conference table with a kind of gloomy abandon, Atem couldn't help but feel a strange kind of déjà vu.
Yugi looked back at him, pensive, and sighed.
"The other me, we're putting someone in jail," his light told him slowly, "someone we've already hurt before."
Atem met his eyes steadily, having gathered his resolve on the way here.
"I know," he admitted, taking a seat alongside his aibou. He took a deep breath, as though he was considering what he was going to say next.
"Aibou, you have to know," he started softly, "…the Shadow Games …I've never meant to endanger or scare you."
The Shadow Games were something they both knew about, but had studiously avoided mentioning. To Yugi, it was simply easier to live without the gruesome details. Yami, likewise, was content with pretending that the Games never happened. They had both been in denial, and for the most part that had worked. What was important was that Yami had stopped doing it – or so they thought.
But now they were coming back to find them. Karma, it seemed, would not be denied.
"I would be lying if I say that I fully regret my actions. It is my duty to protect you, and I am willing to go to any length to fulfil this duty," Yugi looked like he wanted to protest, but Atem put up a hand, signalling that he wasn't finished. The ex-pharaoh continued, his voice echoing in the empty room.
"But I was too cruel, too unforgiving…I have hurt those people more than it was necessary, and now I have burdened you with my retribution. For this I am sorry."
The apology was sudden and unexpected, and Yugi felt suddenly perturbed, as though something in this was not quite right. He looked back at Yami, brows creasing into a frown. He couldn't shake off the feeling that they were somehow talking past each other in this conversation.
"As for this man…Aibou, you are gentle and forgiving, and you see the best in everybody. However, I…" he visibly steeled himself for his next words, "am not as merciful. I realize I should not have initiated the Shadow Game with him, and I regret damaging his mind, but…I…cannot feel any remorse for his current demise. He is only reaping what he has sown…"
His voice wavered uncertainly as he watched the way Yugi's lips trembled in distress, and wished he didn't mean what he had just said.
"We've already done enough!" Yugi looked at him desolately, hands clenching, an earnest plea for him to understand, "the other me, we hurt him because he posed a danger to us, and he came back for revenge because we've hurt him! The cycle has to stop somewhere…"
He trailed off when it became apparent Atem did not share his sentiments. The darker spirit simply lowered his gaze, one hand laid comfortingly against Yugi's arm.
"I'm sorry, Aibou," he murmured, troubled, "if this makes you sad. I cannot deny what I am. I am not a kind person by nature."
Two years of living with Yugi and his friends, and Yami had learnt compassion and forgiveness. He was no longer cruel and vicious, and – somewhere along the way – he had given up on using Shadow Games to punish those who he deemed evil. And while he still disliked losing with a passion, he had learnt not to resort to brutal, selfish means to ensure his victory. It was no longer apparent, to his friends or to others, why he had once been closely associated with darkness and revenge.
But he was not Yugi.
There were still things he could not bring himself to forgive, and harming those he cherished was on top of that list. If left to his own choosing, he would not hesitate to execute his own brand of justice.
He was sorry for his earlier cruelty and madness. He was sorry that his violent deeds had found their way back to Yugi. He was sorry that his callousness had upset him.
He was not sorry to see ill fate befall the man who had harmed his aibou; for the most part, he was content to sit aside and see justice run its course.
He was apologetic for all the wrong reasons; and it suddenly struck Yugi, as he considered his other half, that while they were nearly indistinguishable in appearance, perhaps in some instances they still saw the world in a very different light.
"You are! You are a good person, the other me, you've always tried your best to protect everyone…" even in his distress, Yugi sprung immediately to his other half's defence, "you were confused at that time. You didn't mean to harm them so much."
Yami was mute for a moment, unable to bring himself to disillusion his partner on this point. Instead, he patted Yugi on the head, and watched with absent amusement as the boy's hair immediately sprung back up, like a giant stalk of grass.
"Aibou, if you truly believe that I meant no harm, that I only wanted to help…then I will ask you this. This incident…I ask that you trust me to handle it. I'll talk to Kaiba about the possible actions. I promise that I will try to find the best solution to it," he paused, tone heavy. "I did not mean to pull you into this."
Yugi studied him, hesitant. "…I can help, the other me. We can get through this together."
His darker half smiled; but when he spoke up, his voice did not brook any argument. "No, Aibou. My past deeds are my own to bear – I have already troubled you so. I will take care of it - you need not worry."
Yugi would not relent. "There must be something I can do! You call me 'Aibou' for a reason – we solve problems together!"
Yami looked a little puzzled at his insistence, brows drawing slowly together. Then realization struck, and when his gaze settled on Yugi, it was slightly sharper.
"You do not trust me to deal with that man," he began, as though he was stating a fact, but Yugi could already feel the rising tension in his tone, "you think I might do something that would jeopardize his position further."
"Aibou…"he sighed, "you should be able to trust me more than this."
"I wish you would forgive him…" Yugi said, wistfully. He knew full well, however, that he couldn't force someone into forgiving another. Shaking his head slightly, he drew a heavy breath and continued.
"But that is beside the point. There is no reason you should leave me out of this, the other me - I am not a child. For all that matters, it is Mutou Yugi who injured that man, and Mutou Yugi whom he has been seeking revenge against. Your name - according to Kaiba-kun's papers, anyway - is Mutou Atem. Am I right, the other me?"
Yami raised his brows. "Of course, but –"
"You can't pass for me, no matter how alike we look," his aibou cut in, with an expression that would have meant, on the duelling field, I know your next move. "We act too differently."
"Please, the other me," there was quiet steel on the normally soft countenance, "this is something I must do."
And for the second time, faced with his partner's determination, Yami found himself at a loss.
It wasn't that he believed Yugi was helpless without his protection - far from it. He was probably the only one who wasn't surprised when Yugi managed to beat him in the Ceremonial Duel.
He was, however, adamant that he shielded the boy from harm. Yugi may be strong, but he was not a fighter in the physical sense; this world was practically infested with psychos, and most of them hadn't even been his doing.
And even if it wasn't something that could physically hurt his aibou – Yami knew better than anyone that words and actions and unfortunate circumstances could cut deeper than any sword - it was better that he took care of it for his aibou. Yugi was a gentle soul, and should probably be kept from such things, anyway.
It was natural, therefore, that the matter of their wellbeing became part of Yami's jurisdiction. Yugi, for the most part, was content with this arrangement. He had always trusted his other half's decision.
Which was why, when Yugi insisted on a course of action that deviated from his own judgment, Yami never quite knew what to do.
I know you want to shield him from this mess and all that…but I reckon that sometimes, you should let Yugi have his own say.
Honda's words came to him, unbidden, and Yami wondered if, all along, his friends had been trying to tell him something deeper, a mistake he had been making all along.
He rubbed his temple, trying to get over his momentary lapse. "What do you intend to do then, Aibou? It may not be my place to say this…but the man is already beyond help."
Yugi pondered this and shook his head, golden bangs brushing softly against his face as he expressed his dissent. "I may not be too sure of what to do now, but there must be a way I can help him."
At Yami's sceptical look, he added, "I'll start with um, writing a letter to the judge? Asking him not to be too harsh with the judgment?"
He sounded unsure, and looked to Yami for confirmation. It was one of those rare times when it didn't work; Yami blinked back at him, the usually regal features looking clueless.
If Kaiba were here, he would have gritted out, venomously, that would be an appeal letter for leniency of judgment, Yugi, how ignorant can you get?
"I'll confirm with Kaiba-kun afterwards. I think he'll be able to help me with this…" the boy pondered, sounding more and more sure of this course of action as he went on, "I'll convince him. The other me, this is going to work. Please."
Kaiba-kun was obviously not going to be happy with this. Anyone who messed with Kaiba had to go down, and it would take much for the CEO to change his mind. Yugi probably knew this as well. And here he was, trying to push a plan of action not only through Yami, but through Kaiba as well.
It occurred to Yami, at the moment, how much Yugi had grown in soul and spirit within a short span of two years. Despite the circumstances, he felt immensely proud.
"This whole thing is my doing, Aibou, it isn't fair that you should have to be the one to deal with it," he reiterated, only to have Yugi smile at him reassuringly.
"But you've always protected me, haven't you? From bullies and dangerous people. It's only fair that I help out once in a while – there usually isn't much I can do."
"You underestimate yourself," Yami said, shoulders dropping in acceptance. If there was something he'd learned after his release from the puzzle, however, it was how to accept defeat with regal grace.
"…we'll do it your way, Aibou. I can only hope this turns out alright for all that is concerned," he said eventually, not without a faint trace of reluctance.
"Thank you, the other me!" Yugi turned around to hug him, looking considerably brighter than he had been since the start of this affair, and Yami couldn't find it in himself to be overly surly with him.
He patted his partner's back, trying to stifle a sigh. There were times, he acquiesced, when even he had to learn to compromise. This was something he would have to learn to accept over time.
"That aside, there are other things I need to talk to you about. Or," he added dryly, recalling the tomb keeper and her manipulative ways, "Ishizu insists that I need to talk to you about.
His aibou pulled back, looking mildly amused as he recalled how Ishizu had been bent on becoming Yami's shadow throughout the whole day. "Um?"
"Let's put it like this…" ruby eyes were resolute as they gazed upon Yugi, "I should have been clearer from the beginning, but I want you to know this.
"It has been a long time since I have initiated a Shadow Game with anyone. I will not do so, instead in the direst of circumstances, and even so I will ask for your opinion - you have but to tell me your will. I ask that you trust me on this."
"You know I trust you with my life, the other me," Yugi studied him with tentative, thoughtful eyes.
"But then you have always been too generous with your life," the darker half returned, slightly indulgent. If left unchecked, Yugi would sacrifice his life for friends and enemies and total strangers; and this was exactly why the boy needed a guardian like him. He softened his tone, and insisted gently, "I am asking that you trust me with the lives of our enemies."
"...you can't sic the Dark Magician – or any other monster, for that matter! – on those people either," his light bargained, having suddenly realized the loophole in Yami's words.
"Mahaado will not be amused if I tried to break a promise with his young master," he smirked – clever child - and quickly sobered. "I promise there will be no dark magic. For any action I take, I will talk it over with you first.
"…And in return, Aibou, you will need to promise not to keep things like this from me. I cannot protect you if you are not honest with me…and believe me, I will find out sooner or later in any case."
He could see that Yugi was thinking this over, blinking slowly as he digested what he was saying. Yami waited him out, going on only after a moment's pause.
"If this sounds fair enough, do we have a deal?"
He held out a palm in front of Yugi, offering a smile. Soft violet eyes – still tired and miserable from the ordeal - considered him for a moment, and Yugi slapped a palm lightly against his.
Then there was a timid hopefulness in his voice. "The other me…the horrible things I said earlier…I didn't really mean them. I'm…I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings."
The ex-pharaoh momentarily looked as though he might be embarrassed. It was a rare expression, one he had once given Jounouchi when the blonde called him out on the "Heart of the Underdog" card.
"…neither did I. As for the actions I have taken…"
He shifted uncomfortably in his seat, looking torn, as though he was trying to summon the appropriate words without success. It was an expression that Jounouchi or Honda would have given money to see.
Unsurprisingly, it was Yugi who finally came to his rescue.
"It's okay," he tilted his head, large eyes twinkling with silent amusement, "I understand."
There was obvious relief on Yami's features, and if Ishizu were here, this would have been her cue to turn around and roll her eyes discreetly.
It occurred to them, after a while of companionable silence, that perhaps it was a good idea to get back to Kaiba. It was, after all, a bad idea to keep the busy CEO waiting, and they weren't exactly looking forward to Kaiba's icy declaration about how they were wasting his precious time with their antics. It got tiring after the first few times.
Feeling his phone vibrate, Atem fished it out of his pocket. Curiously, he didn't even have time to say hello.
"Where are the two of you?" Yugi's mom demanded over the phone immediately, and from how she sounded, the ex-pharaoh was confident to say that she was pissed. "Atem, do you know what time it is?"
It seemed that Kaiba wasn't the only person they had kept waiting. Yami grimaced, checking the time on his phone. 8:24pm. They were in for a whole lot of trouble.
"Mother, we are at Kaiba Corp Headquarters – the meeting with Kaiba has run on for quite some time. We should have called you about this beforehand," he conceded, voice level. He noticed that, at his side, Yugi had gone still at the word 'Mother'.
"When are you two coming back?" she asked, sounding a little less agitated, and Yami fell silent for a moment, considering. It was perhaps best that they leave the meeting with Kaiba for another time, unless they wanted to face Mom's wrath.
A week after what Yami had grudgingly termed "The Family War", Yugi's mom had searched him out in his room when Yugi had gone to school. They needed a talk, she'd said, not unkindly, and Yami had followed her out with a kind of vague dread.
"You are Yugi's friend," she started by saying, and Yami couldn't see any trace of the fury she had exhibited throughout this whole week. If anything, she sounded calm.
He didn't know if Yugi had told her anything yet. Hopefully he had, but Yami had reservations. It wasn't exactly an easy story to accept, after all.
"Yes, I am," he said solemnly, red eyes unflinching at her scrutiny, "Mother."
"Mother?" she sounded puzzled, lips thinning into a tight line, "you call me 'Mother'. Why is that?"
"I have never known what else to call you."
He sounded a little wistful. Back when he and Yugi still shared a body, the woman had been mother to them both. On the days when Yugi had been too tired to take charge of the body, it had been Atem whom she had welcomed into her home; Atem whom she had served dinner to. Yugi's mother might never know, but he would never forget.
The woman across him ran a hand down her face, frowning.
"Atem-kun," she said, gently now, "where is your family?"
"They haven't been in this world for a long while," he said, smiling reassuringly when she looked faintly apologetic, "but there will come a time when I shall see them again."
Yugi's mom considered him deeply. "You have to understand, Atem-kun, that I hold nothing against you. But if Yugi wants you to stay, he will have to give me a good enough reason."
"I can explain in his stead, if you will accept it."
"…If only Yugi is half as mature," she groused absently, but shook her head. "He eventually came around to explaining some of it, with Grandpa's help. Or he tried to. I…cannot make sense of what he has said, still."
She sighed, exasperated, and suddenly went off on a rather different tangent, finger tapping against her face in an absent gesture.
"My father-in-law used to be a rather…legendary man. He excavated tombs, collected ancient artefacts, and played cursed games with adventurers all around the world. I was told he encountered quite a number of life-or-death situations during his adventures," she rolled her eyes, disapproving, and Yami couldn't help but chuckle. "There are still a number of those artefacts down in the basement. I figure that it would be best not to touch them."
"Indeed," he replied, sounding interested. Some of the artefacts might be infused with spells or protected by magic, and it was probably best that Yugi's mom left them be. But he – a magician in his own right - could have a look at them if he ever had the chance.
"And then, a decade ago, he gave Yugi a puzzle made of pure gold. The boy was utterly fascinated with it. It turned out to be a pyramid, you know, an inverted one. A pharaoh's possession, Grandpa says."
She was watching him closely, Yami found, as though she was looking for a reaction of some sort. He returned the gaze levelly, unmoved.
"Yugi used to wear it around so much – he doesn't now," she continued, pondering, "I wonder what happened to it."
Yami considered the hidden question, lips quirking into a small smile. It seemed that Yugi had told her enough for her to grasp a rough understanding of what had transpired.
"…It has fulfilled its purpose. Now it is sealed of its magic, and will sleep in its resting place for eternity."
"You really are –" he saw her eyes widen, but she caught herself and shook her head slowly, as if dismissing it.
"It doesn't matter anymore, does it? I am far too old for this kind of thing." she exhaled, and raised her brows at him.
"I have met you before, I know it." She told him grudgingly, and Yami understood what she meant – she had come face to face with him before, even if he had been trying his best to parade as his aibou at the time. When she thought back now, it must have been apparent how different he was from her own son.
He hoped she wasn't too bitter at his deception.
"You have," he replied with a small laugh, "your miso soup with clams is the best, Mother."
She looked flustered for a moment; obviously Yugi was not in the habit of complimenting her cooking. Finally she huffed, and got up from her seat.
"Curfew is at eight, Atem-kun. I trust you to drag Yugi back from whatever entertainment centre he's stuck at – or we will start dinner without you both. And you, young man, will also find yourself in great trouble."
"Does that –" Atem started, surprised, but then his expression eased into one of warm acceptance. "Duly noted, Mother."
It had been a long enough day, Yami thought with a sigh; they didn't need even more trouble.
"I promise I'll bring Aibou back at about nine. Please don't worry," he said smoothly, and Yugi's mother gave a small snort, as though she couldn't quite manage to be angry with him.
"I'll save dinner for you two."
"Oh, and Mother, do you think you have food for one more person? We have a friend with us," Yami continued, already grabbing Yugi by the wrist and heading out of the door. They didn't have long until nine.
"Jounouchi-kun or Anzu-chan?"
"Someone you haven't seen before," he replied, a tad mysteriously, and Yugi's mom chuckled in amusement. Yami snapped his phone shut after a short 'goodbye' and continued his way along the corridor, Yugi in tow.
"How do you always do that? Charm Mom into letting you off the hook," Yugi pouted behind him, complaining, "she would have floored me verbally if I were on that phone!"
"It is simply a matter of tact, Aibou. Be sincere, and she will respond to your sentiments," he told him, deadpan. His aibou did not look convinced.
"I think it's the charisma, the other me," he objected, squinting in mock suspicion. "I bet you must have been very…tactful…with the girls in your pharaoh days too."
He doubted it, though. It was fascinating, how Yami was simultaneously the epitome of male sexiness, but was curiously oblivious to any interest or advances from the opposite sex. It had taken Jounouchi and a massive slip of tongue for Yami to realize that, actually, Anzu had been – and still was - in love with him for a very long time. He was shell-shocked and stopped teasing Yugi about her right after.
"The guytotally squanders his looks," Honda had lamented with the profound sadness of a dedicated friend. When Yami came back to inform him – with palpable pride - how the city's young women were all engrossed with duelling and had actively sought his instructions, Yugi couldn't help but agree.
Yami cocked his head, looking thoughtful. "I do not remember having to be…particularly tactful with the ladies. I did have a harem, afterall -"
"What?" Yugi's face was slack in astonishment, before he started shaking his head vigorously. "Ahhhhhhh! The other me, I don't want to know!"
His darker half merely looked inquisitive. "What is the matter? It was an arrangement befitting of my position."
It was a while before his aibou could get over his spluttering. He glared at Yami, baleful.
"Would you," Yugi gritted out, his face a heavy shade of crimson, "want to imagine the details of how you came to be born?"
"Of course I would want to know the details of my birth – especially since I had lost my memory before," Yami was looking more and more perplexed, "Aibou, won't you want to know?"
"You…you are impossible, the other me! I'm so not talking about this with you!" Yugi cried, utterly mortified, and stalked off towards the general direction of Kaiba's office.
In the remainder of the short trip, Yugi resolved to cleanse himself of all thoughts about Atem, harems, his parents and all questionable activities altogether.
…to be continued