Title: Be All My Sins Remembered
Originally written and posted 6/12/08 for 50_lovequotes, Theme: 027 - "It's not that I want to have you. I want to deserve you." Formerly titled Fear of Scars.
Parings: Yami no YugixYugi implied
Warnings: Overabundance of Yami angst, whee~ 8D
Spoilers: Minor spoilers of Yugi's backstory
Summary: Just because memories and guilt are intangible, that does not mean they don't leave wounds.
Disclaimer: I don't own Yugioh...yes, I was surprised to find that out too.
The pain came out of nowhere, pulling Yugi from his dream. Instinctively he could tell that he was uninjured, leaving only one other place it could have come from.
Mou hitori no boku?
In an action he'd perfected over several months, he pulled his mind away from the real world and into his soul room, materializing in the bright chamber. Yugi opened the door of his soul room and glanced across at his other self's door. The pain had lessened, but still seemed to pulse slightly from his side of the hallway. He studied the closed door curiously. What could it have been? It was the middle of the night, and the spirit had seemed fine when they said good night a few hours before. Yet, to cause an ache so heavy that it had even penetrated Yugi's dreams, something must have happened to him.
"Mou hitori no boku?" Yugi called as he knocked, then opened the door to the spirit's soul room and peered inside. He saw no signs of trouble, and stepped in further, telling himself it wasn't trespassing if he was inside his own head. "Hello? Are you okay?"
"Mou hitori no boku? It's me! I want to talk to you."
What would normally be cause for his other self to appear instant earned him nothing, and Yugi frowned, even more concerned. Normally the spirit never ignored Yugi calling for him. In fact, usually he would sense Yugi was in his room and appear before Yugi could even think of calling. So where was he now?
He's never ignored me before. And right after that weird feeling…what's going on? Has something happened to him? But if that's so…then why does his room look undisturbed?
Yugi considered just going back to his own soul room and returning to his normal sleep. If the spirit wasn't answering him it might be that he simply wasn't in the mood to talk. It didn't mean he was in any danger. And the feeling might not have been a sign of something bad. This other self had been a little stressed out lately with the prospect of finding his lost memories so close at hand. It might have simply been him dwelling on that for a moment…
Then Yugi changed his mind and started walking deeper into the maze. Those excuses…he didn't honestly believe them. It wasn't stress he'd felt, it was a sharp, stabbing pain. He couldn't just go back to sleep and ignore that, even if it had only been a quick flash. His body was safe in bed and there were hours before sunrise. Maybe by wandering around he would find his other self.
Picking a staircase at random, he started off through the maze of doors and hallways, pausing to call for the spirit every now and then. The fact that he was getting no response worried him more than anything else. If the spirit wasn't answering, he either didn't want to, or couldn't. Yugi couldn't think of a good reason for either possibility.
Absently he reached for yet another door, calling, "Mou hitori– ow!"
Grunting at a sudden painful thump, almost as if someone had hit him, he stumbled backwards. He winced, brought one hand to his chest and stared at the door he'd been about to open. "What the…?"
Reaching for the door again, the same pain hit him, only a little less hard now that he was prepared. Yugi frowned through the ache.
Why does it hurt when I come near this door?
Yugi was aware that not all of the rooms in his other self's mind were empty. Some held traps, others held memories he wasn't aware of, and still more held new memories or emotions or thoughts that he'd gained while with Yugi. Something painful was behind this door, Yugi could sense it, and for a moment he hesitated. Did he really want to try opening it?
Maybe mou hitori no boku wouldn't want me in there…maybe it's something private.
But I was led here, so maybe I'm supposed to open it. I do want to know what that feeling was about.
But it just…seems like invading his privacy…
Torn, Yugi finally took a breath, closed his eyes through the pain, reached out, and yanked open the door. The pain sharpened for a moment, then dulled to a distant, throbbing ache; bearable, but still noticeable.
When he opened his eyes, he found himself staring back at him.
Except it wasn't him. It was a younger-looking version of him. Confused beyond belief, Yugi stepped into the room, looking at his younger clone carefully.
"Um…hello?" he said aloud.
The other Yugi didn't pay any attention.
He probably can't hear or see me. Maybe he's just a memory, Yugi rationalized, and took a step closer to study himself in more detail. He felt the air, heavy and dark, press in on him.
The younger Yugi was just standing there, and slowly as Yugi lost interest and starting scanning the room, more things came into view. Yugi gasped involuntarily. There was the Millennium Puzzle, in pieces and still in its box, appearing unsolvable as it had for years. Standing around the edges of the room were bullies or people who had hurt him before in the past, some with shadowy faces obscuring their features. Jounouchi and Honda were there, also younger, back when they had picked on him, sneering at him. The Orichalcos seal glowed nearby, lighting up a square on the wall with Yugi's likeness carved into it. Kaiba was there, drawing his hand across his throat, challenging Yugi to take his life. The heavy feeling in the air was coming from fog, cold and deadly and reminding Yugi greatly of the Shadow world where he had almost lost his life and soul more than once. And a lonely feeling in general, a lonely feeling Yugi knew well. The pain of being alone with bruises on his body and a childish smile on his face even with no reason for a smile to be there. Yugi felt a painful lump in his throat and his eyes stung as he stepped backwards, choking. All the bad things from his past were here…
Why did his other self have a room inside his mind with all the bad memories Yugi had?
I don't understand…why is this…?
Jumping, Yugi spun around to see the spirit standing behind him, staring at him. "What are you doing in here?" he demanded.
"I…um, I was lost–"
"Come on." His other self had turned around and was walking away. Yugi hurried to follow, and as he left he heard the door slam shut by itself.
Now both pained and confused, Yugi was also scared. The spirit was acting uncharacteristically short with him. "Mou hitori no boku…I'm sorry…"
He didn't acknowledge him, and Yugi fell silent, looking down at the floor and feeling terrible. He wished he'd never opened that door, he wished he had never even come in here and that he'd stayed in his own room. The images he'd seen only brought back sick feelings in his stomach and a stinging in his heart, and now the spirit was angry with him. And while part of him still wondered why that room existed, most of him just wished he'd never seen it.
Reaching the main area, the spirit stopped walking and said gruffly, "I'm sorry about what you saw."
Yugi turned. The spirit had his head down; it was hard to see his eyes. "Oh…don't be sorry, you didn't do anything wrong."
His other self said nothing.
"I'm the one who's sorry, anyway. I…I didn't mean to…" Yugi felt awkward, not knowing what to say. "I wasn't trying to snoop or anything, I was just lost and…I'm really sorry about opening that door, if…if it was supposed to be private."
"Don't be. I expected you to leave when I didn't answer you, and did not think to lock it better. I was careless…I take responsibility for that." The spirit's voice was flat, a dead, dark tone that Yugi hadn't heard from him in a long time, and it worried him further.
"Are you okay? I…earlier I felt this pain coming from in here, if there's anything wrong–"
"I'm fine, Yugi."
He registered the cold change from his nickname to his common one, but asked anyway, "Are you sure? I…it just worried me."
"I told you, I'm fine. Now leave."
Yugi grit his teeth. Something wasn't right. "Mou hitori no boku, I know something is wrong, this isn't you. You aren't cold like this."
"Yugi, this is my room, I will act however I wish in it."
"I've been in here before and you never spoke to me like this!" Yugi snapped, hurt at his words.
"That was before you came in here without my permission, sneaking around and finding things that you shouldn't have seen!" the spirit snapped back. "If you can't respect my privacy, then I have no obligation to be polite!"
Yugi glared through tears, but couldn't find the strength to argue back. He didn't even want to argue, how had things gone so wrong?
"Fine…I'll go back to my room then…if all I am is an obligation to you." He turned. Behind him he heard his other self sigh heavily, an unusually sad sound
"…I couldn't protect you," his voice followed.
"What?" Yugi frowned, turning back again.
"I…the reason that room is there…there are times I couldn't protect you." The spirit was staring at the floor now, sounding as if he was forcing the words out. "And times I…it's where…there are things I regret, Yugi. Bad things…and bad memories of when I couldn't help you…that's where they go. I can't deal with them. I need to put them someplace. Tonight…I was thinking about them and I suppose that's what you felt. I'm sorry…you weren't supposed to notice anything and you were never supposed to see that room. But I'm fine…so you can stop worrying."
"But…most of those were memories of before I met you!" Yugi stared at him in shock at this sudden confession. "Has this been bothering you all this time? You weren't even here when most of those things were happening!"
"It doesn't matter!" His voice rose suddenly. "You were a good person…you deserved better…and life dealt you that…why didn't someone help you while you were feeling alone and sad? Why didn't I help you?"
Tears were suddenly rolling down the visible part of his face. The sight of them sent a chill through Yugi's chest.
"Hey…" Yugi took a few steps and gently touched his other self's arm gently. "Mou hitori no boku, come on, you couldn't have helped me because you didn't exist. There's no reason to feel guilty, you can't blame yourself for something that happened before we even met."
"You don't understand."
"Of course I–"
"And what about other times? What about when I hurt you?" he demanded aggressively, grabbing Yugi by the arm to yank his hand away, his grip making Yugi jump in surprise. "I did have control of that. What about all the danger I put you in every time the Shadows got involved? What about when my enemies put you in danger just to get to me? What about when I hurt you by attacking against your wishes? What about when I almost lost you because I gave into hate and darkness…and you took the fall for me…I had a chance to do the right thing and prevent more pain on you and instead I betrayed you that way."
Saddened by his words, Yugi stared up at him, trying to help. "Mou hitori no boku, listen to me, please calm down, I understand–"
"No, you don't!" Suddenly he was snarling through his tears, "You don't understand, Yugi! You don't know how it feels to look at a person you love and to know there's all these painful things in their past, and to be helpless and know that you can never do anything to take that pain away! You have no idea how–!" Panting from the force of his shouting, he suddenly went silent, his eyes widening slightly as he realized what he'd let slip. He suddenly released Yugi's arm, white marks outlining the places where his grip had cut off circulation, and stepped back.
"Mou hitori…" Yugi gazed up at his darker half, heart pounding, hating the sound of the anguish in the spirit's voice, but afraid to act and cause him to lash out again. He wished he would just meet his eyes, but the spirit was keeping his face turned away. Finally Yugi stepped forward, reached out, and simply placed his hand on his other self's cheek.
It was the touch that stopped the spirit from retaliating or jerking away. Yugi was often affectionate or kind, but not overly touchy-feely. He blushed easily when hugged by anybody, and he had never openly touched his other self's face before. His argument died away instantly, as Yugi used the opening to speak. "Yes I do, mou hitori no boku. I do know how that feels. I'm feeling it right now, seeing you in pain like this," he murmured, running his thumb over the spirit's cheek, brushing away the tears.
"Y…Yugi…" He was still looking away, but his voice had become shaky.
Yugi wasn't sure what to say. He knew the spirit held guilt for his actions in Duelist Kingdom, and in the match against Rafael, but not that it would reach back in Yugi's solitary past. The spirit must have been hiding this from the very beginning, harboring it until he couldn't contain it in a single room anymore. He felt guilt of his own for not realizing it sooner. "You don't need to feel like my past is your responsibility. And you don't need to 'make up' for it either. Look at those memories…I know they hurt. They hurt me to see them too. But think about them. Are they real?"
The spirit blinked. "Yes. They are."
Yugi shook his head. "They're not."
"Yugi, stop!" He was shouting again, his eyes squeezed shut. "I don't want your pity, I don't want your kindness…don't you see that is what I need the least? I've benefited from you for too long, and given you nothing in return. I do not deserve you. I know you're angry, give me that! Your anger I can handle!"
"No, mou hitori no boku!" He stared at him desperately. "You're the one who's angry, you're angry at yourself! But I am not angry at you at all and I need you to realize that. All those bad things, all those bad memories…you've avoided facing them and failed to realize that they're not real."
"Is the Puzzle broken? Are Jounouchi and Honda cruel to me? Am I locked up in the shadows or the Orichalcos, and is that particular evil controlling you right now? No! Because those things happened, but they're not happening now and that means that they aren't real anymore. They're just memories. That room could be empty if you let it. But if you hang onto regrets and guilt like this…it won't." His voice softened. "Mou hitori no boku…please. Stop being angry at yourself for this. It's in the past now."
The spirit turned his head away.
"Mou hitori no boku?" He waited before saying, "Look at me."
His other self didn't move.
"Mou hitori no boku, look at me!" Yugi shouted, grabbing him by the shoulders. "Stop being stubborn and look at me! I'm real, I'm here in front of you and I'm real, those memories aren't! Me standing here in front of you and talking to you and holding onto you, I'm the only real thing. Stop looking back on those bad memories and look at me!"
Finally, after a long pause, the spirit's eyes flicked towards Yugi's, tears still glistening in them, and a sorrowful guilt darkening them. But it was the weariness that struck Yugi. The spirit had looked tired, weak, sad before…but never like this. Anguish filled his expression, the condensed result of pain harbored for too long. Of course he knew his other self was a ghost from the past, but somehow Yugi always overlooked his true age. In his eyes, the spirit was and had always been a young man. But now…for the first time since they'd met, his other self looked every bit of his three thousand years; weary and tired and broken. He could see the wounds, the scars the spirit had continued to tear open rather than allow to heal. He'd ripped himself up inside. Yugi felt a stab of remorse for shouting at him.
"I'm sorry…I know that you're right. But…nobody was there for you. I hate it. I can't stop myself from questioning it. Someone should have stepped in, someone should have helped. I should have seen from the first day what you needed. I should have appeared sooner somehow to help you."
"Mou hitori no boku, that's crazy. The life before we met cannot be your fault."
"But it's easier," he whispered. "It's easier to live with guilt than with helplessness, but even that…the guilt gets to be too much sometimes. I should have been there, I shouldn't have let you down, someone should have done something." He fell back against the wall, seemingly out of fight. His voice was hollow as he said, "I never…told you what…made me play the Seal of Orichalcos, did I."
It was a statement, not a question. But Yugi felt he was supposed to answer anyway.
"No, you didn't. But it doesn't matt–"
"Because I was afraid…that's what it was. Fear, combined with my own darkness, and I lost control…all because I was so afraid of letting you down."
"Look…look at everything you've gone through. You're right, I wasn't here when you were younger, I couldn't do anything. But even after I arrived, all the times I had to watch you suffer…all the times I should have helped, but never did, or times when the control was taken from me and I was powerless to keep you safe from my enemies, and then there we were again, and that time you were safe. Unlike Pegasus and Marik and those who obeyed Marik, Rafael couldn't hurt you as long as I stayed in control. And I valued that control so much…that I was willing to give into darkness if it just meant I had enough power to never lose control to anyone else again."
Yugi remained silent. He and the spirit had mostly avoided discussing what happened at that time. It was something that, once solved, didn't really need to be brought back up. People made mistakes, and the spirit had made amends. But now…
A sudden crack shook him from his reverie. His other self had just slammed his fist into the wall and was almost doubled over against it, shaking. "I was an idiot. Power means nothing. All those times I assured myself and others that power was no match for wits or a pure good cause…but at that moment it seemed so clear, so easy. If I had power, he would not, and if I was in control, you would always be safe…and that whole wonderful scenario encased in one little card." This time he willingly met Yugi's eyes, his expression begging him to understand. "I saw myself stopping anything from ever hurting you again, I saw myself being able to make up for all the time I wasn't here, and for when I was helpless and all the mistakes I made…that's why I played that card. That's why…I just wanted…for you to not have to suffer anymore."
Yugi's expression softened. Mou hitori no boku…
"But look what happened…I almost lost you. I did lose you."
"No…" He reached out and took the spirit's hand, partially to comfort and partially to stop him from hitting the wall again. "I'm here. You still have me."
"I don't want to 'have' you. You're…too kind…you would be here for me no matter what I do wrong. I don't want that…I want to deserve you. And I never will–"
"Mou hitori no boku, no!"
"I failed you."
"No, didn't fail me. You helped me. Mou hitori no boku, you've made me happy, because you care," Yugi whispered as he put his arms around him, holding him firmly as the spirit's words broke down into tears. Slowly Yugi lowered them both to the floor, locking him in a protective embrace.
"Shhh. It's okay." He closed his eyes, cradling him in his arms, and his heart beat faster as he felt the spirit lean into him. "You haven't failed me."
Notes: The time frame is somewhere between Doma/KCGP and the memory arc. Hooray for obscure anime timelines that allow for little interjections like this. xD;;
Been there, felt this before. Knowing you were helpless to protect someone you love, even if it's pointless to dwell, is probably the worst pain in the world. =/
The parallel with the scene in the manga where Yugi feels pain coming from Yami's soul room was actually unintentional. I drafted this long before reading that, and was highly amused by the similarity. xD Does this mean I think like Takahashi? Because if so, that's proof that Takahashi is a Puzzleshipper. …I KNEW IT.