This is what happens when I read too much stuff by Minase-sensei. BUT ANYWAY.

This fic...what to say, it's another one of those "let's break tradition" times I go through. Though it's more like my own writing-tradition than fandom-tradition...I'll let you decide on your own?

Understanding is the First Step to Acceptance
By – Hime no Ichigo

Genre: Drama/Family
Rating
: PG-14
Pairings
: Yami/Yuugi
Story Type
: Drabble/one-shot
Summary
: He didn't know when, but during these six years, he was a wreck. But he wouldn't admit it, never.

Disclaimer: Yuugiou is of course the property of Takahashi-sensei. This is my little(?) deviation.

Spoilers: None.

Warnings: AU, OOC, one switch of POV, swearing, implied incest, all things strange and violent and unheard of from me (so far)?

Notes: For Karalen the Wood Elf, who dared me back on Halloween (2009) to write a "Yami/Yugi (or viceversa) fic where Yami is a weeping, sobbing uke." This has less of the romantic viewpoint than what that slash would indicate, by the way. I would totally place all blame on you for making me write this little monster, Kukki, except your dare-prompt wasn't even specific enough for me to do that.

Senpai refers to someone your senior; onii-chan refers to an older brother. Tou-Dai is University of Tokyo.

-----

When my oh-so-honourable and respectable father came home that night, on my birthday no less, bringing a boy with him, I jumped out from my seat and sprinted down the hall, towards the front door.

I could vaguely recall my father shouting at me to come back here, young man, it's late at night and raining, where do you think you're going?! But I hadn't looked back. There was no way I could have done so.

Without realizing I had ended up at Jounouchi-kun's apartment, and he let me stay.

That was when I was fifteen. I was looking for my own place with the part-time money I'd been saving up, but meanwhile I still stayed at Jounouchi-kun's place, doing housework as rent, sometimes at Honda-kun's when things got a little crazy between Jounouchi-kun and his father with empty beer bottle fights and broken glass. They, along with Anzu and Bakura-kun, were all there when I ran away from home.

That was six years ago. They hadn't bothered to keep in touch, and I was only too happy to let it be that way.

Until the second semester of my third year as a university student started.

-----

"Hey Atemu!"

Irritation didn't begin to describe him. That voice would always be so loud even when the person he was speaking to was near, and it only got even louder if he was farther away. Without looking up, he snapped, "What is it, Jounouchi-kun, I told you I'll be busy studying—"

"Oh, I'm sorry, I've got the wrong person."

What?

"How can it be conceivable that you can confuse me with other people? And after knowing me for how many years now?"

"Well, you're both short. And I thought you let your hair down today."

"You know perfectly why I don't do that."

"Yeah, yeah..."

"Is this something important? If it's not, I'd like to get back to studying for this test tomorrow."

"Which demon do you have to give you a test on the first week back?"

"Takizawa-sensei. This is completely out of schedule though, just because three people showed up late on Tuesday's lecture he decided to give us this."

"Oh – good luck in that class, man. I heard Takizawa-sensei's having a bit of personal problems, so he might be taking it out on his classes...anyway, Anzu's coming to visit this weekend."

"Is she? That's good. I haven't talked to her in a while."

Jounouchi flipped open his cell phone. "I'm going to give Honda a call about what we'll do. Call Bakura, okay?"

"Sure."

When Jounouchi trudged away, speaking loudly, all he could think about was how he could be confused for someone else. Unless—

Why now?

-----

"Hey Motou, let's go somewhere after."

Now there was a voice he didn't recognize. He looked up, schooling his annoyed expression—

"No thank you, I've got something to do."

What – again? Motou? No way.

The voices were coming from just outside the lecture hall. "That's a shame, Motou, because we really want you to come. You don't have any friends, right? Think of it as your welcoming party."

"Hey, what're you doing? Let go of me!"

It's a common last name, right? ...What's going on today?

"If he says let go, do as he says."

"Ah, Motou-senpai—"

"Well?" He, by no means, had any height advantage at five feet three. But he had a positive (yet dangerous) reputation going on for him at this university. He glanced wearily at the five circling the heap on the ground. Boys from the basketball team. He could probably take them on, but today really wasn't a good day; his patience was already wearing thin. Maybe he would go talk to their captain some time later. He was still gripping the door, knuckles turning white.

"We're very sorry!" They fled hastily, leaving a crumpled pile behind.

He was about to step over the boy when he spoke. "Thank you."

"Whatever. I hate people who bully others just because they're new to the school. Make sure you fight back next time – oh, I don't mean physically. Just be more aggressive, or else they won't leave you alone." He took a step down the hall, resolutely not looking at the other's face.

"Senpai, wait – if it's not too much trouble can I stop by your dormitory?"

My dorm? "Sorry, I don't live on campus." I don't have time for this. Just go home already.

"Oh...is that so?"

"Don't you have a room?"

"I do, but...it's...I can't live in it right now."

He wheeled around. "Don't joke with me, the residences were just checked and cleaned before the semester started."

Brown eyes looked up at him. "I think someone's broken into it and made it so I can't stay there. Not until at least two weeks when management fixes all of it."

Brown...? I was so sure it would be—but that's good. Brown is good. As long as it's not that. "Fine, you can come and stay with me until it's all cleaned up. But you have to do as I say and follow some of the basic rules, all right?"

"Thank you very much, senpai."

-----

"Do you live by yourself, senpai?"

Why does he have so many questions? "Yes. You can stay in here." He knew he was being too terse and rude. He was also tired and he wanted to sleep. He'll just have to deal with this.

"This is more than enough, thank you, senpai!"

He wasn't getting this kid. "...I'll get you some spare clothes. And while you're here, you'll have to do your share of chores and grocery shopping. I'll exempt you from the bills unless you can't go back in two weeks. You're to be back before midnight, and you can't bring anyone over. You have a cell phone? Good. This is my number, so if an emergency – and only in the case of an emergency – happens, you can call me. Got that? Okay. Give me yours later. Go take a shower and sleep now. Towels are in the bathroom."

-----

The week passed uneventfully. The kid had introduced himself as Yuugi. Atemu felt his guard slowly lowering, because maybe, just maybe, that he was mistaken himself at first. It certainly was nicer now that someone else washed the dishes and swept the floors. No, no, I can't get used to it. He's leaving in a week, remember?

The problem came on the night of the second Thursday. Yuugi wasn't back yet, and it was Atemu's turn to clean the house. The sunroom was his study before becoming Yuugi's temporary room. Muttering a silent sorry for intruding, he went straight for the garbage can. And found casings for contact lenses.

Coloured contact lenses.

-----

"Didn't I say you have to be back before twelve?"

"Ah, sorry, senpai, it took longer than I expected. Management called me and said they've fixed the problems now. I guess they thought I didn't have a place to stay so they wanted me to know the minute I can move back in...?"

"That's good. Pack up your things and leave."

"Eh? But—"

"I don't like living with liars."

"I—"

"Motou Yuugi, don't you feel any shame? When I asked where your family is, you said they're in Tokyo. When I asked who your parents are, you said you're an orphan. At your age, you should be in your second last year of high school, not in university yet. Take out your contacts."

"How did you—"

"This is my house and you have to listen to me. Take them out."

His hands shook so much Atemu was somewhat afraid he would end up poking into his eyes instead. Slowly, he raised his head back up.

Lavender. I knew it. "I can't believe this." He laughed, burying his face into his hands, shoulders trembling. "I can't believe this..."

"...Senpai?"

"Of all people, it has to be you I end up helping. You're the last person I want to see, Motou Yuugi. Get out, now."

"Senpai..." He tried again, hand reaching out to touch Atemu's, only to be smacked away. He winced, not only from the slap, but from the glare. During his stay, his senpai had never raised his voice or hand at him, despite his cool and seemingly uncaring exterior. But he knew he did care, in a very odd way.

"Don't touch me with your filthy hands. You remind me so much of my bastard of a father, who brought you home six years ago thinking I'd accept you with the blink of an eye. And you...you made my family collapse. If that bastard didn't have you with another woman he wouldn't have filed a divorce with my mother. I wouldn't have been left in custody with him because they think my mother was incapable of taking care of me. My mother moved away and I never heard from her again. My grandfather couldn't take the strain of having such a disgrace in the family and died in the hospital when the doctors were still trying to resuscitate him from his heart attack. You showed up as if you're the lost little lamb – do you remember? I took one look at you and that's all I needed to know. It's the same hair and the same face, and I would've accepted you as a brother if those eyes of yours didn't remind me of some other woman than my mother." He stopped, breathing heavily. And he realized he was crying – why won't these stupid tears stop anyway? He hadn't cried over this since the day he left. That was six years ago. He wasn'twon't – be affected by this anymore. And he was in front of this guy

Hands grabbed his head and held on tightly.

"What are you doing—let go, I said I don't want to see you—"

"Senpai." Yuugi's voice was surprisingly firm at a moment like this. "I want you to listen to me. I'll say it once and then I'll leave you alone. It was half a truth when I said I'm an orphan. My mother died shortly of cancer before we met, and dad got into a car accident just a week after you ran away, and I had nowhere to go. There was no one on either side of the family to take me in – except you, but you hated me and how could you possibly take care of me when you were still in high school yourself? I'm glad you stayed here for Tou-Dai though, because I was working so hard in fast-tracking and hoping to reconcile with you before you graduated, since by the time I would enter university, you'd be gone. I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you so much for so many years...but I guess no amount of apologizing can take away the pain, right, onii-chan...?"

When Atemu became aware of his surroundings again, it was empty except for him, sitting on the couch, holding his head, and missing the warmth.

-----

"Atemu, you look like you've been to hell and back."

"I'm not back from hell."

"Oh...well, you still look terrible."

"Thank you for pointing out the obvious, Jounouchi-kun. Don't you have a midterm in two hours? Please don't get a borderline mark again, I won't help you if you don't show me some effort."

"Fine. I'll leave you alone to brood then."

"If you don't get an eighty, I'm definitely not helping you."

"Fine! I'll leave you alone to philosophize, happy?"

"Ninety."

Jounouchi ran.

Since then, Yuugi had been true to his word. Tou-Dai, while not small, wasn't an overly huge campus either. It was strange that after so many coincidences on that day, he wouldn't even bump into the other nowadays.

The other's words were ringing in his head. So he's been living by himself and with strangers for six years? Awfully considerate, the way you put it, as if trying to soften all the blame placed on me. And since when was I so weak to be such an emotional wreck over this incident? Didn't I make myself swear not to care about this anymore? I've always said that there's only one child in the Motou family and that's Motou Atemu, and no one else. So there have never been any siblings in my life. Never.

"Hey, did you see, some first year's left the dorms crying. Think he can't keep up with the work? Hahaha..."

Abruptly, Atemu stood and made his way to the management office. "Excuse me, is Motou Yuugi in?"

"He's moved out of the dormitories two days ago."

What?

-----

Stupid brat. Who does he think he is, doing whatever he likes, moving out of the dorms with nowhere else to go. It's not like he can't keep up with the work if he's worked so hard to be accepted by Tou-Dai.

"Another one," he hiccupped, putting down the glass heavily on the counter.

The bartender looked at him pitifully. That had been his sixth one, all of high alcohol content. "Sir, we're closing, I'll call a taxi and bring you home."

"Senpai?"

"You know him, Motou-kun?"

"Yeah, he's..."

The voices were getting groggy and fading quickly.

-----

"Atemu, mother has to go on a long, long trip, and probably won't be back. Listen to your father and take care of your grandfather, okay?"

"But I want to stay with you!"

"I'm sorry, honey, I have to go."

-----

"Are Motou Sugoroku's family members here?"

"Where's grandpa?!"

"I'm sorry, we've done all that we can. You can see him one last time."

"What do you mean 'one last time'? Grandpa, why are you leaving me behind too? I promised I would be a good boy..."

-----

"From now on, he's going to live with us. Atemu, quit sulking and at least greet your little brother—"

"I don't have any siblings! And I certainly don't have a father like you!"

"Come back here, young man—"

-----

His eyes flew open and he immediately regretted it. His head hurt like he was hit with a boulder. And there was something dry sticking at the corners of his eyes, which he passed off as not tears. Definitely not.

Groaning, he rolled over. It was his bed and the same white wall. Small rays of sunlight were teasing him from between the blinds; he was most likely late for his nine-o'clock lecture with Takizawa-sensei but he couldn't bring himself to care and get up.

"Senpai?"

What— He sat up straight and regretted that too. What is he doing here? Taking it slowly this time, he swung his legs off the bed and shuffled towards the door, holding on to the wall for support.

"It's eight-thirty, I made breakfast, so you have about ten minutes to go before leaving for class on time."

"What are you doing here?" He asked hoarsely once he got the door open.

"Oh...well, I brought you home yesterday since you were dead drunk. You kept cr...vomiting and muttering in your sleep so I thought it'd be better if I stayed the night. I know I shouldn't meddle in your affairs but there wasn't anyone around yesterday to hel—I'll leave now," Yuugi ended hastily at the look on Atemu's face.

"I didn't do anything, did I?"

Yuugi's face coloured considerably and his words came out in a rush. "No, of course not! Oh would you look at the time I should be going now or I'll be late for my class too bye!" Slam.

Atemu groaned again. I did do something, didn't I? And it's probably something I'll regret.

-----

He sent a quick mail to Yuugi to ask him to come over later and finish the talk from morning. He didn't get a reply back, but he assumed he would come. Yuugi didn't seem to be like a person who left things unfinished either.

"Senpai?"

"Here, cold green tea, it's all I have left."

He fumbled with the catch. "Ah, it's okay—"

"Just take it."

A heavy, awkward silence blanketed them. Yuugi fidgeted with the bottle, even more nervous than sitting for an exam. Atemu stared past his shoulder, keeping the other's actions in his peripheral vision, and was wondering how to broach the matter when Yuugi spoke.

"...What is it that you want to finish talking about, senpai?"

Well – good, straight to the point, just like how he wanted it too. "Yesterday. Be truthful. What did I do when I was drunk?"

"..."

"I know you can hear me perfectly well." His hand twitched in minimal annoyance, crushing his can. Yuugi jumped slightly. "Look, if it's something too embarrassing for you to say, then just say so. I'm sorry for—"

"You seem to apologize a lot, senpai."

"It's because I did something rude to you, right?" He frowned, not understanding.

"When I was bringing you home, you were mumbling apologies over and over again." Yuugi looked at him squarely in the eyes; Atemu was taken aback by this move. "You were crying and saying things like I'm sorry, mother, I'm sorry, grandpa, please stay with me. Did you know dad felt awful when you ran away and refused to answer his calls? He was always telling me stories about what you guys did when you were younger, going on and on about how great you were, how proud he was of you. I was jealous – pretty stupid, since I was the outsider, the accident, in the first place, right? But I couldn't help it. I wasn't planned in the first place, and it took dad by surprise too."

"You mean – it still doesn't excuse him for fooling around!"

"Yeah, but dad was looking for you endlessly. I was alone in that house most of the time, other than school. I'm still envious of you; he got into that car accident because apparently someone who looked like you was spotted in a bad area of town, and in his rush he ran a red light."

What...how come no one told me about this? "What an idiot—I thought he hated me after that—"

"Dad never hated you, senpai."

Atemu couldn't take all this new information all at once. So I was wrong, for six years? His head throbbed, his eyes itched, and before he could stop them the tears were falling onto the carpet. He brought his hands automatically to hide his face, muffling the hiccoughs and sniffles. "Dad—I'm sorry for misunderstanding you all this time—"

He was once more enclosed in a hug. It seemed like Yuugi didn't care if his clothes got wet or not. He thought he felt a light kiss on the top of his head, if the small pressure was anything to go by.

"Dad knows, onii-chan."

- Owari -

Authoress' Notes: Huh, and I thought I was incapable of writing anything over a thousand words anymore, haha.