Chao- And so this fic officially breaks Chao's first record of ten chapters by an extra five… Kinda sad about that since "Dreaming of You" was such a wonderful story… But, this was still a huge challenge to write but it was a lot of fun, not to mention a total pain. Enjoy the end!
Chapter 15: Smiles and Tears
Yugi slowly unlocked his heavy pupils. His mind was groggy. His abdominal area endlessly caused him great discomfort. He winced in pain as he tried to shift his position.
"Don't move so much," he heard a delicate voice tell him.
He decided to obey; his entire form screamed out in agony, his own soul exhausted. He rubbed his tired eyes and glanced around. He remembered he was within his own Soul Room with his darker half. Realizing he had his head rested against his friend's chest, he moved away slightly. He never wanted to appear weak even though it was only him and his other half.
Glancing up towards his partner, he whispered, "Ya… Yami?"
"I know this will be hard," the spirit began gently, "but we need to solve this problem. If not, then you may be admitted to the hospital once more. Is that what you want for your family and friends?"
Yugi changed his view against the ground. He had recently woken up after his moment of rest, and already he was being interrogated. He recalled he was in the middle of a debate with someone who still considered himself a friend before he nearly passed out. He chastised himself, believing he caused more of an argument with himself rather than alongside his darker self. His companion only wanted to assist while the former persisted to push the latter away.
Closing his eyes, he sighed and shook his head. He never wanted to be a burden to his family, nor did his wish to worry his buddies he had managed to create such a strong bond with, a bond he never wanted to lose.
"I know allowing others in is still something you may not be accustomed to," Yami discussed in a caring tone. "But if you don't let someone in, if you don't speak about the problems you have, how can you expect yourself to have faith in others? How can you expect them to have faith in you?"
The adolescent remained quiet. His company brought up a fair argument. He truly wanted to trust others and have them trust him. He held strong confidence within his darker half, and he often forgets that the pharaoh needs someone at his side, a light to guide him from his dark path, a blaze to assist him to find his truth hidden within his forgotten memories represented by a twisted maze.
Yugi was about to stand up when he abruptly felt another painful sting bash his stomach, his soul. He grunted a little as he clasped his eyes tightly. He felt his body move closer towards his partner. He then felt someone holding onto him with a firm grip on his shoulder.
"You do not need to rush out your feelings at once." Yami advised in a soft whisper. "Take your time."
As Yugi rested, a part of him enjoyed the tender moment between him and his other self. He took another pause to think, unclear of what else he could talk about. He already mentioned his feelings towards his friend and felt slightly ashamed for what he had said.
"I… I don't know… what else to say…" Yugi admitted in a whisper.
"What else is on your mind?" the spirit suggested.
"I… I don't know…" the teen repeated quietly.
Yami glanced towards the ground. He was surrounded by toys and stuff animals, symbols of his friend's natural nature. The same personality which caused his classmates to shun him, resulting in him feeling embarrassed about himself.
The pharaoh pondered about what the younger one could bring up. He had been by his light's side but stayed lost as to what truly was bothering the boy. Yami truthfully wished to not place Yugi on the spot light and force the boy to speak. However, if Yugi did not talk, he may withhold his own emotions, causing his body to continue to suffer underneath his stomach ulcer, like he had been doing. He changed his view towards his partner. The small teen had his eyes shut, but Yami could tell Yugi was pondering something.
The young adult brainstormed about his possibilities. His darker half stood by his side despite all the lashing he received. His friends entered his Shadow Game as he was being tested by the Puzzle. His family took take care of him while he was sick.
"Everyone continues to do their part because they care about me." Yugi reflected. "But… what am I supposed to say? I just want everything to stay the way it is."
The spirit of the Puzzle noticed his light was struggling with something. He called out gently, "Yugi?"
"I… I just want everything to stay the same." a tiny voice finally confessed.
Yami was glad to have a little break through, but he was uncertain of what Yugi meant and needed some clarification. "What do you mean?"
"I… I… I just want everything to stay the same," the adolescent repeated. "I don't want to start college and be separated from everyone. I like having my friends at Domino High School. I like that I'm not worrying my family as often as I did. I'm glad I'm able to play Duel Monsters with people who like the game for the game. I like being with you and having you by my side."
The teen paused, a tad tired from his list but was relieved about what he finally placed into words. Both he and his other self felt one of the many knots in his stomach unfold.
Yami was pleased to have uncovered something he was looking for. His smile quickly faded sensing the coil return, causing his light to cringe in pain once more.
"So… he's afraid of his separation from his friends." Yami observed.
To keep his light from receiving too much throbbing at once, he gently held onto his companion and played with the boy's bangs to keep him calm. He became content knowing he had something to work with. He recalled how the young one placed others before himself. He was willing to sacrifice himself for everyone he cared about. However, even the strongest of souls cannot stop what is set out in front of them. Time moves forward, and everyone has their own place to be, even if it means the departure of close ties with others.
"You don't want to move on to college and meet new people?" Yami asked.
Yugi thought about his prose. Although the idea sounded nice, it may not work out as planned. He shook his head for his response.
"And why is that?" Yami questioned. He figured if he kept his examination in a calm manner it will keep the boy talking without struggling to give too much of his privacy. Even though speaking would bring a little heart ache, the act would at least distract the boy from his ulcer pains.
"I… I like the way things are." Yugi answered truthfully after some thought.
"What is it you like?" Yami asked, wanting details.
"I like being able to hang around with Joey, Tristan, Ryou, Duke, and Tea."
"What about your classes? Your teachers? Your peers?"
"I like that most of my classes have my friends. I like that school isn't as hard as it used to be. It's actually fun looking forward to class and seeing everyone. It's nice to have group projects with people who care about me and hear what I have to say. And at lunch, I like having people to sit with and talk to rather than eating by myself and playing games alone. I also can say to my friends that I would see them later… It's nice going someplace knowing someone will be waiting for you…"
"And you met such people because you reached out for them. Do you think you could do the same in college?"
Yugi became quiet. He then shook his head.
Yami grew confused; he failed to understand why that was. The adolescent always was cheery and light hearted. "Why not?"
"…Be… Because…." Yugi stuttered, unsure how he could say the answer he knew in his recovering heart.
"Because… I'm not at all brave like you."
The teen closed his eyes and allowed tears to fall. Even with all he managed to accomplish, he still did not view himself like his darker half, the person he aspired to be.
"Brave?" Yami questioned perplexed. "Yugi, you possess courage of your own. You stood up for yourself plenty of times before."
"Different as in…" he sighed as he continued. "I only met everyone… because of you… If I didn't solve the Puzzle, then I wouldn't have met Joey, Tristan, Ryou, Duke, or everyone through Duel Monsters… If it were just me, I wouldn't have been able to. I'm not brave like you are."
He recalled back to the time when he and everyone was trapped within their favorite monsters at Duelist Kingdom. Although what the blonde male had commented about the two Yugi's was only a joke, the words hit the small teen's heart hard. For a second he was reminded how weak and uncool he was. He wanted to prove his strength not only to his friends but subconsciously to himself as well. His triumph was short lived. He allowed his emotions to take advantage of him. He gave himself permission to fall prey to an obvious trap.
He sighed with great discontent. Everyone was rescued because of his heroic other self.
Yami analyzed the response. He figured his partner still suffered from low self-esteem even after all he's been through. A part of his heart sank as he never realized how much pain the boy carried in his heart even among the people close to him. He also did not understand why the adolescent was comparing himself to him.
"Perhaps Yugi feels this way because we are part of each other," Yami deducted. "We have separate souls in his body. For quite some time, no one could tell the difference between us. Yugi would even assume whenever I took control he only underwent a minor black out…
"Yugi, why do you do this to yourself? Why are you comparing yourself to me?"
He then recognized something after thinking about the times the younger one had mentioned. He answered gently, "Yugi, I only played the games. Once the challenge was completed and you were fine, I retreated back to the Puzzle. I only ensured the ones who caused others harm were punished. You, on the other hand, were the one who had greeted others and offered your friendship. Most of them see their errors in a different light because of you, and most of them accepted your kind gesture."
Yugi stayed quiet. He felt a hand touch his cheek as he heard, "If it were me and just me, I may have never been able to trust the people you do now."
"But you are still the one who is strong." Yugi quickly replied.
Yami was thrown off. He realized his lighter half had been thinking about this for quite some time, perhaps even before he became very ill. Remaining calm, he decided to remind his friend, "You are brave. You wanted to save Joey after he was possessed. You were willing to sacrifice your own life for him and everyone else."
The teen nodded. He had the same notion during the final match of his trial.
Yami decided to keep persisting with his train of thought as the idea had captured his partner. "And what about the Shadow Games you faced? You managed to complete them."
"But I didn't win them all…"
"So? Doesn't it count even a little you didn't give up?"
"Only because my friends were there… They didn't give up on me even when I wanted to."
"Then basically, your definition of staying strong is to complete all trials without the aid of a loyal band?"
"I… I don't know... I wouldn't know."
With plenty of experience, Yami knew the tricky Shadow Games. The play was designed to test the heart of the player. Yugi won with his companions by his side and not his second heart. The spirit tried a new idea, "The first game you played, Concentration, you said you had matches with your friends."
"Yeah, I did. I wanted to try and find you since I knew you were trying to find me at the beginning… I was taken back at first."
"Perhaps the Shadows mimicked what lied deep within your heart, even if it was something you yourself were not aware of."
"What happened in the second game?"
"I don't want to talk about that one."
"Ok, that's fine. But it would be best to learn from our mistakes. What about the one after that?"
"… I should have chosen that one first though… since it was easier… All I had to do was place together a puzzle box… which turned out to be the eye on the Puzzle. How stupid could I have been to not have realized that?"
"It seems it would have been easier, but it was something you were familiar with, yes? Perhaps like in that match, in life, we should take everything one step at a time and go in order. If not, then our arrogance will be a downfall."
"And the game in the fourth trial?"
"I was playing on a board game… My piece was Dark Magician. Even though I didn't know who my opponent was, the game piece was Blue Eyes White Dragon, and it moved on its own."
"Rivals to the bitter end. This was the other game you lost, correct?"
"It's important to get back up even after we suffered defeat."
"My final one was a game of Duel Monsters… that was never completed."
"And you played against yourself."
"That… made it very hard."
"Yes, it's always difficult to face your past. But you accepted what was in front of you. Maybe you could start to let the past go."
A small spark in Yugi's eyes flashed. He had told his partner similar thoughts and ideas when the spirit was depressed over his choices he had committed. His eyes lowered as he then said, "I… I'm not sure… about that."
"Because… If we don't learn from our past, we end up making the same mistakes in the future. Maybe this is why we need to work together… to find your memories… so there won't be anything like this ever again."
"Heh, perhaps this is why destiny brought us together."
"I'm very grateful, though, I have someone like you as my partner."
"… Someone like me? Why?"
"As I said before, you had brought light to me and everyone. You also continue to move forward, even when times were tough, whether it was a Shadow Game or just everyday hardships."
Yugi sighed. He tried to allow his conversation with the spirit sink it, but a few portions were harder to register than others.
Yami noticed this. He decided to bring up another valid point, "Perhaps sometimes you feel your actions mean nothing. But, Yugi, they can mean everything to one person."
"What do you mean?"
"Like Tea for example. Didn't having her around bring a smile to your face when you were feeling down?"
"Yeah, it did, actually."
"And what about when you're around your other friends? You wanted to be there for Joey and Tristan when they had tough times, right?"
"It's never fun to go through something so tough and scary on your own."
"Which is why I'm glad we are partners through this. You may see this sometimes, but your light and smile has helped me a great deal."
Yugi remained silent. He closed his eyes as he thought, "Can having someone just being here mean so much to someone? I know I felt the same way when I played with Tea when we were young. And I guess it's the same with Joey and Tristan… But… what's going to happen after graduation? What's going to happen to Yami after we defeat the Shadows and get his memory back? I… I don't think I can be strong on my own…"
The spirit hugged the boy after he gasped in pain. After resting for a bit, Yami observed his friend. The boy struggled with something once more. Rather than losing his opportunity, he decided to keep the boy in this world. He gently called, "Yugi?"
"Yami I…" the teen struggled once more to say what had been on his mind since the beginning. "Because people give each other strength, and man was not made to live alone… then… then what is a hero without teammates? How can someone take on a task alone in a dark future?"
Yami turned quiet; the questioned was heavy. He started to string together some of the replies he heard earlier. He believed, however, it was best to keep himself as the interviewer instead of having his partner avoid exploring his own thoughts. He recalled the adolescent feared being separated from his friends, and most of his distress began with the mentioning of higher education.
With an idea, Yami asked, "Is that what has been bothering you? Are you afraid you won't be able to handle yourself on your own?"
Yugi glanced away as his heart struggled with the truth. He lowered his eyes in shame as he confessed, "I… I didn't tell you… because… I didn't want to… worry you."
Yami looked at the floor. He understood his partner's emotion; he had felt similar in the past. During the late hours of the night, he would walk aimlessly in his endlessly maze, lost in thought about his missing past life or reflecting about his options while being with Yugi. Sometimes the teen felt the angst and loneliness he experienced. Yugi would ask if everything was all right, and sometimes he would tell a white lie.
The only difference was that the spirit was only a spirit, while the boy would suffer physical aches.
Yami could eclipse his own emotions. He often wore his dower appearance whereas Yugi would seem as though something truly had upset him. Wretchedness does not look right on the cherubic face as oppose to someone who was a born leader. Darkness could contain anything, and nobody would notice. Light on the other hand is in plain sight.
"Why does a hero need to take on journeys alone?" Yami asked.
Yugi looked back up and saw how crestfallen his other half turned. He glanced back down and replied, "Because… because there are times in everyone's life… when they need to do some things alone…"
Yami reviewed the quote the boy had said before falling underneath the dark spell. Yugi managed to complete his task and prove to destiny he was willing to continue with what was set in front of him. However, even now, he was unsure of what specifically Yugi was mentioning, or even if he had any ideas at all.
He needed some examples, "Such as?"
"Well… Such as…" Yugi swallowed hard as he whispered, "… c-college…"
"You said earlier you did not wish to leave high school, as well as everyone." Yami brought up carefully. "You also feel you are not brave. Is this what has also been a bother?"
"Kinda…" the boy replied, feeling embarrassed.
"You mustn't worry so much." Yami tenderly advised. "Even if you are afraid to start something new, what is wrong with that?"
It's just that… you're so brave and—"
"Yugi, what's wrong with admitting you are afraid of something?"
"I… Well… If… If there was fear… then… then what would be accomplished?"
"Is admitting you have fear the same as not enduring the pain of doing something you may fail at?"
"I… I dunno…"
"Do you remember the few days before the start of Battle City? You wanted so much to assist me, and even though the Puzzle was stolen, you chased after the man possessed by Malik back to when he wanted revenge."
"You didn't know what path you were entering. You didn't know what lied ahead."
"Other than a trap."
"And you went and faced it on with the duel. Even as the warehouse was burning, you placed together the Puzzle once more."
Yugi sighed, "But the reason we made it out alive was because everyone risked their lives. If not then… I dunno what would have happened."
"Doesn't even the fact you risked your life for me mean anything?"
"And what about before Duelist Kingdom? We did not know much about each other, and you weren't even aware of your friends sneaking on board to join you. You entered the tournament to save someone you cared about."
"But all of that could have been in vain if I had lost… I would have lost Grandpa… And I could've lost you."
"And let's say even if that were true, don't you think your friends would have stayed by your side? You all may have even continued to keep fighting, because that's the person you are, Yugi."
The spirit lifted the boy's chin. The two pair of purple eyes met.
"Yugi, even though the future is unclear, you may be afraid, you may even fail at crucial moments, but life was never guaranteed to be easy."
Yugi's stomach and chest tightened at the bitter truth. He closed his puppy pupils as he whispered in defeat, "Yeah, you're right."
A few tears slid down before he heard, "But what would have happened if you did give up?"
Yugi glanced back up towards his other half. "You said it took you eight years to solve the Millennium Puzzle, and during those years you have faced many battles, both physically and emotionally. What would have happened if you did give up? What if you never completed the Puzzle?"
The questioned stung the adolescent's heart hard. Images of his life quickly swept past his mind. He couldn't imagine life without his other heart.
"I… I guess we would have never met… I wouldn't have been friends with Joey and Tristan… and maybe I would have lost Tea… She was always out going, and I wasn't… We may have even grown apart…"
Yugi's shoulders rose and fell as he cried. The arguments his friend brought up tugged at his heart and spirit. He had seen similar point of views but not in the same manner.
"And what about the people you had met after its completion?" Yami continued to challenge his friend. Although he wanted to comfort his light, he still needed to keep the boy moving.
The small teen pondered the questioned. He had met with so many different people after he had saved the world numerous times with the gained courage from the spirit.
"Well… Maybe Kaiba and his brother would still see the world is a cruel, uncaring place… Maybe Mai would still be a lonely duelist… Maybe Duke would still be consumed by greed… And maybe Malik would still be controlled by his darker half…"
"What about yourself? Do you think you would still be someone locked inside his room alone?"
"I… I dunno… Sometimes I feel as though I still am…"
"Why do you say that?"
"Be…cause…" Yugi broke away from his companion's hold. He ignored the pain in his stomach as he brought his knees closer together to himself. He whispered whitewashed, "Here I am… in my room once more… sick again… all because I can't make at least one decision for myself… by myself…"
"Again?" Yami questioned uneasy. "Yugi, were you ill like this before?"
The young adult remained silent.
As much as the spirit wanted to further question the event, he chose to ask something else, "And what decisions can you not make for yourself?"
"… I can't make up my mind about what I want to do with my life."
"And why must you settle such an important decision right now at this very moment?"
"Because college is very important! It's always being shoved down our throat! If we don't get a good education, then we won't live a good life!"
"Who is to say what is good and what is bad?"
"You… You wouldn't know… and it doesn't matter for you…"
"You live in the Puzzle! You are nothing more than a spirit! You were a PHARAOH in a past life! YOU were the one to make all the decisions! YOUR opinions mattered! They were seen as facts!"
Yami became silent once more, unaware how much thought his light had placed into his issues. He wished the boy would stop comparing himself to him. After allowing the younger one to breathe, he asked, "Why do you believe your opinions don't matter?"
Yugi sighed frustrated, "It just feels everything is already predetermined for me."
"Are you referring to your options about college?"
"Yugi, I'm sure your parents just want what's best for you. As you said, education is important."
"Yeah, but… where am I supposed to go?"
"What's wrong with the university you investigated earlier?"
"I… I dunno…"
"You did like it, didn't you?"
"Well… They did have a Duel Monster's club… And they are offering me a scholarship… Grandpa says those aren't easy to come by… Even my mom got one and studied overseas for a semester."
To certify the smaller one would not do any further damage to his stomach, keeping his position in a locked one, the older one gently pulled down his legs and arms. As he did, he questioned gently, "What is it you don't like? You've been told by everyone you have the option to go elsewhere."
Once again, Yugi was quiet.
Yami carefully examined his light's eyes that faced down. He guessed, "Is it since your friends are not attending, you may not have your own courage and enter the challenge?"
The teen felt his voice becoming shaky once more. After discussing the matter as much as they had, he figured his darker half would not leave until the specific matter was solved. He only nodded. He closed his eyes and allowed tears to fall once more. He had already told his partner he was afraid of being alone and that he wasn't brave enough by himself. He remained unstable about what else could be spoken. To him, he felt he was racing around his problems and answers in circles.
"Yugi, even without your friends being physically at your side, they will continue to be there for you." Yami smoothly brought up. "Just like some of our duels, they were always there. And you were there for them."
"I guess… It's just not the same… A duel is one thing… but school has always been something else."
"Even though everyone takes a different path, don't you believe it's fair for them to go on separate roads and live their lives?"
"I… I thought about that, too… But… Maybe I'm just being selfish…"
"And just think about some of the people you will meet. Some may be friends while others will just be classmates… We can't always find people we relate to right away. Take us for example: If we were two classmates rather than being connected through the Puzzle, do you think we would have been able to get along right away?"
"I… You might have found me annoying… like everyone else."
"But after getting along… after seeing each other through different eyes, our two souls enjoy each other's company. Perhaps there are people like you and me and everyone one else out there who may be afraid to start something new. But we won't meet them unless we explore."
"But I don't want to say goodbye to anyone!"
Once the teen realized what he blurted, he quickly looked away. Closing his eyes, he cried once more. He had admitted another reason he tried to reserve.
Yami grew startled by the response. Despite him holding a good intention, having a person see through another lens would take time. He tenderly placed his hand on the boy's cheek and quietly asked, "And why does any of this have to be goodbye?"
"Because… everyone is going on different paths…"
"Perhaps one day, those paths will connect once more. If your ties weren't disconnected during the harshest realms of darkness, do you believe they will once you all enter life outside of high school?"
"M… Maybe… I… I don't want to lose anybody…" Yugi embraced his other half with a firm grip. "…Even you…"
Glad he was included, he returned the gesture as he said, "And we don't want to lose you. Every moment we have with you and your smile brightens our day. We all need to be strong and continue to move forward. With each of our journey, we cross paths with one another. As you said, man was not made to live alone.
"Whether we are standing together or alone, you will always have someone with you. I'm always truly grateful we are with each other. You may need to choose important decisions, and it's beneficial you are evaluating how it will impact your life, but let's try and take this one step at a time. If you come to a problem, there are those who care about you who will listen to you and assist you. Think you can manage that?"
A knot within the teen's stomach uncoiled. As tears ran down his face, he nodded. He reflected about what was said. He was happy to have someone like Yami with him. Even in the past, previous words of encouragement had always put a sparkling gem on his rough but pure heart.
Slowly, as some of the pain left him, Yugi began to smile.
The spirit became relieved seeing the teen no longer struggled through his current state at the moment.
The adolescent would be brave, like he had been. He decided to not run away but instead ask for assistance; he was there for his friends, and they will be there for him. He would remember his past, so he would appreciate his present to help create a brighter future.
As he lifted his head, he said with a calm, cheerful smile, "Thank you, Yami."
"Yugi," Yami said gently. "Are you sure you're all right?"
Yugi smiled his angelic smile. He understood his partner's concern; he nearly lost one of the harshest games the dark realm had to offer, as well as survive a tough, painful, physical illness and emotional unstableness. He only nodded.
Yami was glad his light was well. However, although he knew the reasons behind Yugi's action and emotional trauma, he still wondered what gave so much courage to the boy. Here was a soul who sustained to be pure, not tainted by hatred and revenge, a soul that appeared filled with misery prior to the restoration of an ancient artifact when he only wanted a friend.
"Yugi," Yami began. "I have never met a soul like you in all of my time."
Yugi continued to smile as he listened.
"You are so brave and willing to forgive everyone," Yami went on. "But even heroes need someone to save them from time to time. You have done so for me countless times… but… what gave you so much courage? You had demonstrated your group of friends had given you courage, but what about before that? What about when you were younger and were bullied?"
Yugi grinned as he said, "As I said earlier, a hero is nothing without friends to support him. And sometimes, heroes need the strength to stand on their own two feet. And, well, I did tell you that you could share my memories until we found yours…"
Yami nodded as he waited for his answer.
Tears fell down Yugi's face as he closed his eyes and whispered in a shaky tone, "I want to show you."
A sudden familiar light flashed. Yami shut his eyes but did not fear it.
When the radiance diminished, Yami looked around and saw a younger version of his partner lying on his bed with a cold cloth on his head.
The spirit was swept away with the boy's memories by his torture from the male students and the taunting from his childhood friend's so called companions. Yami nearly lost his balance from his mind and heart receiving too many emotions at once. There were black outs, but the boy was recently released from the hospital after recovering from his horrific fever, but he continued to stay home after remaining ill.
Young Yugi turned to his side on his bed and allowed more tears to fall off. He had thrown up violently and remained in his room alone. He was too emotionally drained to take any other action. He had earlier endured the toughest day of his life and couldn't take anymore.
He did not want to face his peers.
He did not want to undergo the harsh beatings nor hear the piercing words he had been told so many times.
He felt completely worthless.
A gentle knock occurred on the door. The boy's mother called out softly, "Yugi, Tea is on the phone and she would like to speak with you."
Yami picked up the heartache his partner felt upon hearing the name of his only friend.
However, the boy gave reply. He had no strength to use his small voice. He believed he had no voice.
Yami heard Yugi's mother walking away apologizing and explaining to the other line her son was still resting after being released from the hospital.
Suddenly, he heard Yugi's thoughts once more.
"I'm sorry Tea… But I don't want you to get hurt because of me… I'm sorry for being a loser… with… with no friends…"
Yami gripped his shirt once more in agony. As the pain lessened, he walked closer to his pal. He assumed this was where his light had mentioned earlier he was unwell in bed once more. He wanted to show his presence and comfort but remembered he did not exist yet.
"I've always done my best in everything," Yugi continued woefully. "I've gone to school with a smile on my face, I've been nice to everyone… and yet… there I was again with blood on my face and my underwear stretched out even more…. I was in the hospital for three days, but I still don't have any courage to go to school…
"I just wanted a friend… A friend who would be there for me, and I would be there for them… Is that so much to ask for…? I've always heard of people trying to find their purpose in life… I'm almost in high school, and I don't know what mine is… Am I… am I destined to be alone forever?"
Yami's eyes widened as tears proceeded to fall down. He pieced together the reasons why Yugi never believed in himself and why he refused to be alone again. In time, he knew Yugi would solve the Puzzle, but his partner felt completely hopeless.
"No," the spirit tried to discourage. "No… that isn't your purpose at all!"
The child sighed as he thought about running away.
"Don't do that, Yugi!" Yami yelled even though he knew he wouldn't be heard by anyone.
"Would I be missed by anyone? I think not… I wouldn't be a burden to my family… Tea could hang around with whoever she wants… I wouldn't have to deal with any of those bullies anymore… I barely survived school… I don't think I can make it anymore… How much pain do I have to go through…? I don't think anyone will miss me..."
Yami fell to his knees screaming, "Yes! Someone would miss you! Your family would miss you! Your future friends will miss you! I'd miss you!"
Yugi's voice faded as his depression consumed him, "Why should I bother trying anymore? There is nothing left for me…"
"Yes there is!" Yami bellowed once more. "Yugi! You have so much to live for! If not for me, you still will have your family and high school friends!"
Silence took control of the room. Yami only sobbed as Yugi felt very hazy and dizzy as his spirit was draining. Yami realized a part of his partner existed that he never saw before. Even though he gave his advice and comfort, this may have been something for Yugi to deal with alone, a journey for himself. Yami wondered what gave Yugi his strength to make it to high school and solve the Puzzle that eventually would lead to them meeting and becoming friends.
There was a knock on the door. Yugi did not respond as it opened.
"Yugi," Solomon stood in the doorway with a gold box in his hands.
Yami's eyes enlarged. He recognized that box. It was the same confinement that had imprisoned for thousands and thousands of years. It was the same storage that contained the pieces to not only Yami, but Yugi's second heart.
"I know how you like to solve puzzles," the elderly man began, "and I thought this one was the challenge you were looking for…. So why did you place it back on the shelf?"
The young child did not reply. He appeared not interested anymore, especially in what seemed to be another childish game.
"There is an ancient script that reads whoever solves this will received the powers of the Shadow Game," Solomon informed, attempting to make his grandson sound interested once more. He understood Yugi might have given up because of all the difficulties he was facing in school and other areas.
The boy's ears perked up hearing his grandfather say, "The one who solves this Puzzle will also be granted a wish."
He sat up from his bed and gazed over at the gold box.
"Why not try another crack at it when you feel better," the old man suggested with a soft laugh, placing the box on the boy's desk. "I'm sure you will be the one who solves it if you try again."
He smiled as he walked out of the room.
The child's eyes were glued to the gold object. The artifact reflected light off from his lamp.
"One wish…" he repeated riveted.
He thought about what he wanted. He had no interest in cliché cravings like money, fame, or fortune. He also had no desire to control the Shadow Games, as they were called. There was only one thing he wanted more than anything in the world: a true friend.
He did not want to eat lunch alone anymore. He did not want to be picked last for any P.E. activities. He wanted to greet someone at school and hang out on weekends instead of being in his room alone like he was now.
Finally stepping out of his bed, he sat down on his chair. Glancing down at the box, he examined it carefully. A part of him wanted to believe in the inscriptions, but the other part felt doubt. He wondered if what he was told was true. He didn't want to be taken advantage of anymore.
He closed his eyes and scoffed, "One wish? More like a joke; sounds too good to be true."
Yami grew shocked. He wanted to protest and comfort his partner. He then remembered Yugi only felt the way he did because of the way he was treated. However, the Yugi that Yami knew was always gentle, kind, and friendly. He always placed others before himself and trusted everyone he met, even complete strangers. Yami then recalled his partner's attitude was recently altered when he began to fear attending college on his own, and that he was constantly taken advantage of as a child.
The pharaoh saw this was a part of Yugi the boy never wanted anyone to see.
Yugi opened his pupils and stared directly into the encrusted eye. He felt drawn to the hidden power. Cautiously, he lifted his hands towards the object.
Yami felt his own heart beat with anticipation. He wanted his partner to start the Puzzle and complete it as soon as possible. Although he wanted to be set free from his prison, he held a stronger yearning to set Yugi free of his pain. His concentration broke upon hearing the sound of metal pieces falling onto a desk.
He looked up and saw Yugi examining the gold shards. Some were already placed together while the rest remained jumbled up, a complete mystery as to which fit with what.
The boy wondered if he should even try.
He wondered if anyone would try and steal his gift from his grandfather.
He wondered if he even would be granted a wish at all.
Yami understood all the emotional torment his light underwent. He acknowledged what Yugi was feeling was an emotion called fear. He now knew Yugi was afraid of trying and believing in himself only to fail miserably.
Yami shut his eyes and prayed, "Please Yugi… don't give up… Try… Just… believe in yourself, like all of us believe in you."
He shot his pupils open hearing the sound of metal clicking together. He saw a young boy with tri-color hair smiling a tiny smile as he managed to fit two pieces together.
"That's it, Yugi," Yami encouraged. "You can do it… You managed to do it and set me free… set all of us free."
After hearing several more clinks of metal, the boy sighed with frustration as the pieces were not fitting together. Yugi leaned back on his chair a tad annoyed, but the spirit saw in his light's eyes a spark reforming. A light of hope had renewed within Yugi Muto.
Yami couldn't help but smile, glad to see Yugi found something enjoyable that would lead him to a better life.
There was a sudden knock at the door. Yugi's mother opened it and walked in towards her son with a piece of paper in hand.
"What is this," she asked as she lifted up a progress report card with low grades.
Yami's smile faded. He felt unhappy not only Yugi was not doing so well in his studies but because his moment of bliss was brief. However, to his surprise, the young child still smiled.
"I'm sorry," Yugi said calmly. "But I'll do better next time. I promise."
The young lady sighed but smiled as well.
"Ok," she said as she gave her child a kiss on the forehead.
Just then, an elderly man walked into the room. "Tea is on the phone and would like to know if you're going to school tomorrow."
The child nodded, "Yes, I will."
Before the woman left the room, she remarked, "I'm a bit too tired to cook tonight. How about we all go out for dinner…"
"Yeah!" Yugi exclaimed with joy.
"That's fine with me," Solomon agreed.
"We'll be leaving shortly," the woman informed as she left.
"I can see the puzzle has captured your attention," the old man winked as he left.
Yugi smiled as he said to himself, "I want to at least try."
He walked away from his desk and placed on a fresh pair of clothes. He then returned to his desk and admired upon the shards he placed together.
"It feels like my heart is coming back along with these pieces," he reflected happily. "This can be a project… My project… Until I find my purpose in life."
Yami felt relieved hearing his light's thoughts. He felt guilty he invaded his partner's privacy, but Yugi had wanted to share this memory with his friend, who had no memories of his own, except for his new found life with his light.
Another bright blaze consumed the spirit of the Puzzle.
Yami embraced his other half.
Yugi grew confused about his partner's action.
"Thank you," the spirit whispered as tears streamed down his face. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
"Yami?" Yugi question.
The spirit tightened his grip on the smaller boy as he continued, "Thank you for not giving up… Thank you for setting me free… Thank you for giving yourself another try…. Thank you… for everything."
Yugi shut his eyes and allowed a few tears to fall down as he returned his friend's hug. As time moves on, sometimes people forget how others seem them. Yugi often neglected the way others saw him, even by those closest to him.
The two boys sat together closely with their backs against one of the walls. The younger boy pulled his legs closer to himself and hugged his knees tightly.
The older one was about to stop the action when he sensed the boy's stomach was not suffering. Throughout their time together, Yami noticed his partner only took that body position whenever he was truly sad or unsure about something. He was curious to know what was on the boy's mind now.
"When I was younger," Yugi began quietly. "I would get sick often… My stomach would start hurting… and sometimes I would leave school early feeling sick… Sometimes, I stayed home for a while as my fevers got worse… I even had to stay in the hospital when I got really, really sick."
Yami placed a hand on the teen's shoulder for comfort. He understood humans became ill if their emotions took a toll on their body. He wanted to say something soothing but knew words could wait until Yugi was done speaking what dwelled on his mind. He allowed his light to carry on.
"I still went to school… I did my best in everything I did… but because of my size and since I wasn't great at sports, the boys would pick on me… I would sometimes hang out with Tea and some of her friends… but they all started to change… And then they started to treat me the same way like everyone else did… And after that beating I received, the one you saw, that was when I got really, really sick…
"I was in the hospital for three days… I couldn't eat or drink anything… It was almost like my body rejected everything and wanted to cave in… I worried my parents and grandfather… I stayed home for another day or so not wanting to go to school… I… I wanted to give up…"
"Then you were given the Puzzle once more," Yami jumped in. "And because of your strong nature and pure soul, you solved the puzzle no one else ever had. If not, your soul would have been destroyed like others have been in the past."
"Revenge doesn't solve anything… It only causes more pain… I didn't want anyone else to suffer because of me… and I didn't want anyone to feel the same pain as I did… There would just be an endless cycle of pain and suffering."
"I guess you and I are alike seeing how we both spend so much time alone… The only difference was you kept your pure heart while I allowed myself to be consumed by darkness and hatred."
"But when I got into high school, I was very lucky to have Tea, Joey, and Tristan in most of my classes."
"Even before you were friends? How exactly were those two different from the other bullies?"
"They weren't picking on me…. They were teaching me to be a man…"
"The way they talked to me… the way they treated me… it was different… They showed interest in me and not what I had or because I was weak… They acknowledged me rather than just take my stuff or push me to the ground… Neither of them pitied me either."
"Then why do you offer friendship to Kaiba? He does have Mokuba, and the boy accepted your friendship."
"I'm sure Kaiba was like me, tired of being picked on for the way we were… I wanted to show Kaiba not everyone in the world is like that… I'm grateful to meet everyone like I had… I wanted to share my joy with him…"
"He's lucky to have his brother. That is at least a start, I suppose."
"We spread our circle of friends with Duke, Mai, and Malik. We even helped saved them from themselves from being controlled by revenge or loneliness."
"Like you said, friendship is a better offer than revenge."
"And then there's you…"
"What about me?"
"I know some of the games you've played…even before we actually met…"
"Yes, I know. I am sorry, but it was the Shadow Realm who judged them… I didn't want anyone to harm you… I couldn't stand seeing people hurting others due to their own insecurities."
"But I am very grateful I have you for a partner."
Yugi embraced Yami with a tight hug. Tears started to cascade down his cherubic face.
"I want to help find your memories." he sobbed sincerely. "That way if you remember anything painful, I can be there for you, like you were here for me."
Yami retuned the hug back as he whispered gently, "I know… and thank you… Thank you for the memories I have now… I won't ever forget them… I won't ever forget you."
The smaller boy gently fell and landed on the spirit's shoulder.
The pharaoh kept a grip on his partner to ensure the teen would not smack against the floor.
Yugi had agreed he would take everything one step at time. His spirit could finally relax. Knot by knot, his stomach slowly uncoiled itself.
Even though he remained uncertain of his future, whether it was a week, a few years from now, or even the next ten minutes, Yugi was able to enjoy what and who he had at this very moment.
What's a smile without a few tears?
Sometimes a smile can mean more after tears had been shed.
Chao- Oh gawd it's over! After all that typing, editing, and restoration, it's over!
YChao- And NOW I get a speaking part?
Chao- Bah, it's supposed to be serious!
YChao- Says the author who lost the original idea and meaning of this.
Chao- Yeah… Kinda forgot why this had to be typed. Maybe it was spur of the moment with all the Romance and whatnot all about here.
Yugi- Yay! I got better!
YChao- Who said you were? Most issues weren't even solved!
Chao- Yeah, that's not the focus on the story! It was just to enjoy the current moment and take everything one step at a time, geeze.
Yugi- I do agree, sometimes after crying, a smile can be more powerful.
YChao- Grr… I guess…
Chao- Thank you all who read this! Please review!