I just wanted to say thanks so much everyone for reading this story. It means so much to me, and I couldn't appreciate you all more for riding this one out for me. I can only hope you have enjoyed this story, and I hope that you continue to read my others. Thank you so much for everything, guys. You all are the world to me. (: Enjoy!

Run This Town


~Two Years Later~

Life got worse before it got better.

For a while, I didn't think I was going to pull through it. I had spent a lot of time with Atem at the hospital because of the extreme case of pnemonia that I was struck with, and when I finally got released, I went back to the warehouse with him. For months, Atem's constant presence was the only thing connecting me to reality. He was my anchor that held me down and kept me sane. And I was his.

I had nightmares for a long time -- horrible, horrible nightmares that would have me screaming and thrashing all through the night. One time, it was so bad, that when Atem had tried to wake me up, I hit him hard enough in the face that I fractured his jaw and cracked three of my knuckles.

The week after my mother's death, I went back to my old town with Atem and buried her beside my grandfather with the money from her life insurance. Jou had come, too. So did Ryou. And they all stood by her grave with me, even after the sun set and the stars appeared. I was all set to stay there with her forever, I wouldn't have minded. But I knew I couldn't and Atem made me realize that when he pulled at my hand and led me back to where we came from.

One night, right before we had gone to bed, I asked Atem how he knew where to find me. He told me that he found me the same way I found Ushio. For me, that answer was enough. And then, after that, we never spoke of that night again.

Not long after my mom's funeral, Atem and I moved away to another town with what was left of the money, into a small apartment complex where nobody knew our names. Atem got a job and, after a year of coping, I finally got my diploma.

In that new town, we slowly began building our lives again, from scratch. At first, it seemed almost like an impossible thing to do. Without my mother, I didn't think I could do it. There were nights where I would cry for hours, nights where I wouldn't sleep, and days where I wouldn't eat. I blamed myself, and even to this day, I still do. But, as time when on, the pain lessened and I could feel the hole in my chest, the void in my heart that she had once filled, begin to heal. I still hurt, and I could still feel it even on good days, but it was a start and that's what I needed.

I had a major set-back in February of last year, when Jou tried to break up a bar fight and was stabbed in the throat. I was in the waiting room when they told me he didn't make it.

For weeks, Atem and I didn't even speak to each other. We didn't know what to say, the grief in our hearts silencing all words. For a moment, I thought that Jou's death would be the end of us. But then, one night in late March when we were eating dinner, Atem reached forward unexpectedly and touched my hand. And then I burst into tears and held on to him like he was my lifeline. Because he was.

We eventually recovered, but to this day, it's hard to look back into the past and see all the people that we had lost, all the people that were no longer here with us.

At Jou's funeral, we saw Malik and exchanged phone numbers so that we could meet up sometime. But Malik never called us, and we never called him, because it just wasn't the same anymore. Even if we did have something to say to each other, we knew it wouldn't make a difference. And maybe it was better that way.

I still see Ryou. He comes by every now and then to visit us. At first, it was awkward, and every time Atem and Ryou made an attempt to speak to each other, Bakura managed to linger in between them and haunt them both. But they eventually got used to it, and sometimes when Bakura would drift into one of our conversations, in the briefest of moments, I could see a little bit of who they used to be shine in their eyes. And then its gone, and the reality of who they are now sets in.

I'd always known my time in that town would be temporary. And I was right. But what I didn't know was that the time I had with the people I loved was going to be temporary, too. If I had, maybe I would have held on to those special moments just a bit tighter and I would have said I love you just a few more times.

I wish things weren't permanent, but sometimes things are, and you either give up or you move on.

Not a day goes by that we don't think about Jou. Not a moment that I don't reminisce on a memory with my mother, or Atem look back into his past and not see Bakura. We still have our bad days. But we'll heal, and things will get better. They have to. And if they don't, well, that's why I have Atem.

Because even when the world caves in on me and I feel like giving in, Atem always has the power to make me smile a little brighter and laugh just a little bit louder.


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