A/N: Hello, everyone. Just a couple quick notes: 1) I gave Yuugi's mother a name: Sachiko. She's not important in this story, or anything, but it seemed odd that Yami would just refer to her "Yuugi's mother". Most likely, he'd just call her 'Mutou', but I thought that might confuse her (in the story) with Yuugi's grandfather, so I gave her a name.
2) I went with JP canon and didn't use the name Yami. I also took some liberties in the narration with how Yami refers to Yuugi. 'His partner' would have gotten old *really fast. He still only uses 'aibou' in dialogue, though.
3) I did the editing and Beta-ing for this story myself (after waiting a day or two to let the "shiny" wear off), so if there are any mistakes, forgive me. Any feedback or concrit is appreciated. Enjoy. ~ Shadow
She had come to the rooftop after school alone at his request, and now he had to go through with it. There was no turning back. "I... I love you, Anzu!"
Yuugi could not suppress the quiver of nervousness—of fear—when Anzu's breath caught, and she gasped. "What? But— Yuugi..."
He looked up to her, something he had not been able to do before the words left his mouth. He immediately wished he hadn't. The look of fear was more than he could take. He knew what that face meant. She didn't want to hurt him. She didn't want to tell him that she didn't love him. His chest constricted and he could barely hold back the tears. Yuugi had told himself this would happen. He had promised himself he wouldn't cry. But, right now, it was hard to keep that promise.
"It's..." He had to pause to swallow away the pain in his heart. "It's okay, Anzu."
He put on his well-practiced smile, hiding his coming tears behind closed eyelids. He didn't want her to worry. He'd be okay. Everything would be okay. He wanted to believe it. He wanted her to believe it, too. "Well... that was all. I'll see you tomorrow!" Yuugi waved to Anzu, and ran to the stairwell door—his escape—as fast as he could. He had to get away from there. He couldn't cry in front of her. He'd promised.
"Yuugi! Wait!" Anzu's voice followed him down the stairwell, the echo bouncing off the walls. But he had to ignore it. To stop, and see her face looking down at him again, it would hurt too much. He wouldn't be able to handle it.
'Aibou... I'm sorry...' The voice of his other self came far more quietly than usual. The worry came through the mind link unimpeded. But he had to ignore it. He had to ignore everything, except the running.
The puddles strewn about the concrete landscape from the rain earlier in the day splashed with each of his footfalls and clawed at his pant leg. The blue umbrella he'd been forced to bring that morning beat against his knee in a painful rhythm. The air smelled dirty--the rain had only served to weigh down and thicken the pollution in the air, not wash it away.
It was then—mere blocks from the Game Shop—that Yuugi lost his battle, and the first tear fell, smearing his kohl eyeliner. It made little difference to him now whether the tears came before he'd made it to the safety of his room, or after. His grandfather would be watching the shop and his mother never seemed to notice that anything was amiss, even when it so clearly was.
The tears fell freely and he didn't bother to try and stop them. He knew there was no way they would. The pain was too much for him to bear—it called out for release. And it wasn't something he could share with his other self. Yuugi knew he had more than enough to deal with without his minor hardships burdening him further.
Thankfully, the door was unlocked. Yuugi wasn't certain anymore whether he would have been able to successfully unlock it. The chill in the air, along with his own precarious emotions, made his hands shaky and numb. His fingers definitely wouldn't choose to listen to their master right now.
"I'm home." The declaration sounded meek and empty even to his own ears. Perhaps it was only the dry throat, or maybe not. It didn't matter. Nothing did.
The climb upstairs to his room was far longer than it should have been—each step an indomitable mountain to his shaky legs. The echo of the shut door permeated the silence, as Yuugi took off his uniform jacket and school satchel only to discard them, uncaring, at his feet.
"M- Mou hitori no boku?" It may as well have been a silent question for the little sound it made.
'What is it, aibou?' His other had been there. He had been there for the confession, the rejection, and the race home. Yuugi had felt his other leave the stream of consciousness open for them to share and that he had made no secret of his concern. He was grateful, but he was not yet ready to face him.
A wordless question stemming from his other self's confusion flowed over the mind link.
"Do it." Yuugi swallowed the uncomfortable lump in his throat and whispered one final word, "Please."
While he could not see his other, he almost felt the spirit's eyes close in contemplation. The lengthy moment of silence only served to further this theory. 'All right.' Then, the darkness.
When the magic faded from the Millennium Puzzle and his partner's room once again dimmed, the nameless Pharaoh opened his eyes. The wetness of freshly fallen tears stung his cheeks and his chest pulsed gently from the stress it had been put under. But while he felt them, they were not his own. These were not his tears, or his pain.
He exhaled silently and allowed his eyes to slip closed—another tear slipped from its duct. But it was not his. "Aibou..." In the borrowed (or, was it given?) body of Yuugi, he leaned back against the wood of the bedroom door and allowed himself to slide to the floor. He did not belong here--this was his aibou's place. His existence.
Sachiko, Yuugi's mother, he could tell, was gathering the wash from the upstairs utility room and readying it to hang on the line. Her discovering a complete stranger in her son's room was something that would not help matters, he knew. Though, he almost doubted whether she'd even notice the difference. Very few others seemed to. Yuugi had told his friends of his existence and they still did not seem to be able to tell who was in control many times. To most, he was Yuugi.
But he was very much not. Their looks were similar, but that was as far as it went. His partner, his other self, was everything he was not: selfless and courageous, among others. Yuugi was everything he wanted to be, but could never obtain.
Yet, Anzu had rejected him. She had shown romantic interest before, but not for the one who wanted it. Not for the one who belonged here. Not for the one who was so much more than the games he played and the evil he judged.
'Aibou?' he called tentatively. He did not belong here. More than that, Yuugi had refused to speak to him for some time. Not including the half-command, of course. His partner's pain was far more important than that of a long-dead spirit without memories.
"That's... not true." The nameless Pharaoh blinked, startled. He had not noticed his other showing himself in the room in spirit form.
"What is not true?" The statement had caught him rather off-guard.
"That my pain is more important." Oh. He must have been broadcasting his thoughts through the mind link without realizing it. He would have to work more on that later. He allowed his gaze to follow his partner as he moved to sit right against his arm--Yuugi's arm. The familiar tingle of spirits touching erupted all along the side of his body as his partner settled against the living flesh. "You're a long way from your home in Egypt--a long time away from your home, too--and with no memories except the few I can give you. You're... alone." His voice fell to little more than a whisper. "You're far more important."
'I'm not!' It took every ounce of the spirit's concentration in his current, somewhat emotional, state to keep that reaction from reaching his partner over the mind link. He forced himself to calm before he spoke.
"I am no more important than you, aibou." He moved his hand to rest over Yuugi's incorporeal counterpart. "And I'm not alone. I have you."
'You allow me to live,' were the words he most wanted to say. Without his memories, his time with Yuugi was his life. Without his partner, he would have been no more than an irreparable piece of fancy jewelry. However, those were all thoughts he could not share.
"Mou hitori no boku..." was a quiet murmur in his partner's light voice, amplified for his ears by their mind link. Ghostly fingers wrapped around his hand in accompaniment to his given name, encompassing his hand in the well-known prickly sensation of his touch.
For some minutes, neither spoke. His other's involuntary, yet entirely unnecessary breathing fell slowly in time with his own.
The smaller hand in his tightened its grip. "I have you, too." His partner's gaze was faced away, so he could not see it, but the mind link told him Yuugi was crying again.
He dipped his head in acknowledgement—and agreement—to his other's words. He knew he did not have to speak.
Several more minutes passed between them before his partner manuevered himself into his lap and buried his face into his solid shoulder, all the while refusing to let go of the hand he held.
Though his other was merely a spirit with no physical body at the moment, he almost believed he could feel the wetness of his partner's tears soak through the white shirt of the school uniform and onto the bare skin beneath. He thought he could almost feel the weight pressing down on his legs and chest. As nice as it was, this was very odd behavior.
"Aibou. Are you—"
"Why?" came the barely audible, choked voice of his partner. "Why didn't she want me?"
He closed his eyes and leaned forward to rest his forehead against his other's semi-physical hair. An inexplicable pain in his chest had risen--a physical pain that was entirely his own. "I... do not know, aibou." He voice came out far softer than he had intended, but he knew his other would hear. At the very least, his partner's uncharacteristic behavior was now explained. It was about Anzu.
A quiet sob emitted from Yuugi as the smaller form attempted to press itself even closer to his borrowed warmth, letting go of his hand in favor of grabbing handfuls of his shirt.
His arms found their way around his other, protecting him from the evils of the world beyond the reach of their power, no matter what that evil might be. His partner was everything. "You are perfect."
With those words, his other cried quietly, but freely, into his shoulder. He knew of no words that could make Yuugi's pain less. He knew he could not make Yuugi happy, but he would not give in. Words were not his only tool. He moved one arm to allow his fingers the ability to gently run themselves through his partner's translucent hair.
The quiet sobs and the tears of his partner eventually subsided, though neither moved to separate. "I will want you," his mouth decided to murmur after another minute more of silence, but before his mind had been able to make any move to stop it.
His other's gaze shot up to meet his own immediately as those words left their home. His partner's face was only centimeters from his own. He could see the absolute mess the tear stains littering the flawless skin had made, but also his eyes that reflected the light of the sun like crystal, from unshod tears. And they moved, focused on him, searching. For what, he could not say. Perhaps his other did not know well enough himself to share it.
"Thank you." If it were not for the mind link, he did not think he would have heard it. Even if he had not, the small smile that graced his partner's lips would have been gratitude enough.
That smile was what he lived for. "Always."