Title:—Manic
Written by:— Izzy
Edited by:—M
Chapter one:—Pain
Summary:
Yugi suffers at the hands of his rich, powerful father, leaving little desire to live. But when he meets a rebellious outcast named Yami, his world is turned into chaos.


1…

Rays of moonlight splintered through the blinds at his window, mind echoing the number.

2…

Shadows twisted and fell, sweeping across his bedroom like a plague.

3…

His eyes, so struck with pure innocence, tightly shut in terror.

4…

His tiny hands clutched mercilessly at the covers, a whimper bracing the silence.

5…

Slowly, tauntingly, his bedroom door opened and a figure emerged.

6…

As the last number echoed inside the walls of his mind, the figure spoke, forcing a pair of amethyst eyes open and to face the darkness before him. His thoughts had become a meaningless haze, scattered like a puzzle wrenched apart.

"Yugi…" The figure's voice was deep, solid. It reeked of authority, of undeniable power that swelled each time he spoke. He…was meaning this dreadful man, a sorry excuse for a human.

'Please…don't come near me,' he silently pleaded, cringing. The strong smell of tobacco washed over him, coating him with an unsavory scent. 'Stop! Don't come near me!' To no avail did his mental pleas bring. The figure stepped closer to the boy's bed, towering over as a puff of smoke slipped into the air.

"I expected better from you, Yugi. How could you think of letting me down?" the man chided sternly. "As the heir to this family, you should have more confidence."

"F-Father," Yugi stammered. "I'm sorry… I-"

"Enough." Silence drifted between them, Yugi's amethyst gaze falling to the floor, body tense. His fingers clenched firmly on the edge of his blanket.

Like a knife, his father's bellowing laugh sliced the air, but it was far from joyful. It was rough, forced, used to poorly conceal his disgust. Yugi knew what would follow, and clamped his eyes shut. As expected, his father's hand reached down, finding his son's tiny neck and closing around it. The air left Yugi's lungs, leaving his heart to beat in sporadic rhythms against his ribcage. It wouldn't be possible to speak, not that the young boy had the intention to anyway. His terror had consumed every cell of his existence.

"I should have disposed of you long ago, Yugi," his father hissed. "You're a disappointment!"

The words lashed into him like a whip, despite hearing them time and time again. They never lost their effect, burying any sense of pride Yugi possessed, any hope he dared to create. Like he was told, he was a disappointment. Nothing could ever change that.

His father's hand clenched tighter, depriving him of air until his lungs blazed in pain, tiny hands clawing wildly against the powerful grip. Yugi lost strength, letting his hands collapse beside him on the bed, the figure of his father becoming hazy. He could feel the life draining from his small body and he wished in desperation for death to sweep him into a blissful embrace. He just wanted it to finally end.

'Just end it already!' he demanded mentally. 'Just take my life and let me die!'

"Takeshi, dear… Are you coming to bed?"

Everything went still thanks to that single voice coming from outside Yugi's door. The hand from his throat slid away and the shadow of his father disappeared abruptly from his side, leaving Yugi to silently gasp in lungful of air.

"I'm coming, Izumi," his father called. He turned toward his son, eyes ablaze with hatred before he slipped through the door, closing it behind him.

A sense of disappointment filled Yugi's heart as he sat—now alone— rubbing his tender neck. His mother had saved him from death. It meant there would be another moment where his life would be under the control of his father, wish left unfulfilled.

Yugi lay back against his pillow, body curled into the fetal position as he began to cry, hope defeated.


The rain spilled, endless, across the asphalt like tears; the sun long since forgotten beneath a gray, hostile blanket. Streets once littered with people—happy, content—were now empty, a bitter mirror to the animosity swollen within a young boys heart. Darkness reined, unbridled, beckoning hatred to rise into an eternal flame; hatred that would forever smolder in deep-set crimson hues, overlooking the world in despair.

He only blinked to fight back the stinging sensation that violated his eyes. Never would he allow himself to cry.

"It's over," came his faint, barely audible, whisper. But with a leer, his eyes fell to the headstones at his feet. "No, it's only just begun," he corrected.

Anger seethed around him like a void, his hand tightening around the handle of the umbrella until his knuckles turned bone white. No, he wouldn't allow himself to be torn apart. Revenge, it smothered his clarity, leaving his thoughts a pile of hazardous desires. There wouldn't be anything standing in his way, and he would bid farewell to his rage, delving out justice to the bastard responsible for destroying his life.

He then, with a powerful swing, threw the umbrella, sending it tumbling into the moist grass.

No, there would be no other way. Even if revenge led him toward self-destruction, he refused to allow such an inhumanly tyrant go unpunished. The bastard would truly believe hell had come to pay him a visit, Satan himself will cower.

"I swear to you, Takeshi Mutou, your life is in my hands from here on out," he hissed to a quiet, heartless world. "Just wait." The boy turned away from the graveyard, malevolent hues glittering with chaos. But, only one step forward and he was forced to stop, a pair of sullen violet orbs watching him carefully, cautiously.

"Yami." The figure possessing those magnificent eyes drew in a sharp breath, as if daring himself to step forward. "You didn't think I wouldn't find you?" Remaining rooted, gripping his umbrella with a tight fist, he gave a sour look. "I will always know where to find you, today of all days."

Yami… His name trailed into the air like black, toxic smoke. He found it ironic, really. His name meant darkness, and belonged to a teenager bent on revenge. His life was anything but a pleasant dream, filled with only sorrow and horrid memories.

"Marik," Yami said, voice soft with a dangerous edge. "Why are you here?"

The violet eyed boy forced a laugh. "You really have to ask?"

"Your compassion is wasted."

"Is it?" Marik challenged. "I would think it's aimed in the right direction. Yami, can't you see you're destroying yourself with this obsession of yours?" Nine years ago, he remembered, and not in the slightest sense had Yami changed. He'd always been driven by the darkness in his heart, fighting to tame his wild need to execute revenge.

"There's always going to be someone in this world we hate," Marik tried again when a dangerous glint flashed in Yami's terrifying blood-red gaze. "But you're just letting Takeshi Mutou win because you're setting up all your energy trying to destroy him. You're letting his existence run your life!"

"Why do you think I'm set on destroying him, Marik? Don't you think I've tried to move on, to let myself find peace? You forget he killed my mother," Yami stated. Marik was hushed into silence. Then, upon realizing this, Yami chuckled. His entire body was soaked from the rain, but he felt happier that way, as if the tiny droplets could somehow strip the memory of that day from his mind forever. Breaking from his reverie, he turned to the gravestones once more and shook his head, sly smirk playing at the corners of his lips.

"I never told you what happened, did I?"

"No," Marik said. "You never allowed anyone to step near that subject." He couldn't bury the curiosity that budded in his mind. Was Yami going to tell him? He wanted to know, but at the same time, terrified. Discovering what had driven him to the edge could be lethal, he thought, if not deadly.

"I was seven at the time," Yami began, drawing back Marik's attention. By this time, he had closed the distance between them and allowed the blonde haired boy's umbrella to shelter him from the rain. "She was such a gentle woman…. She didn't deserve to die that way. No one did."

"And Takeshi Mutou is to blame?"

Yami's eyes darkened, holding a tranquil glint, making his expression unreadable. "Yes. That man… He's always been so careless, too ignorant of consequence when he defied the rules of society."

A sudden thought came to Marik, and he fought to keep a smirk from making the other angry. Yami wasn't one to be concerned about consequences either. In fact, Yami was the one person willing to break nearly every single rule, going against the law. It's how the boy lived, how he gained a sense of freedom in this chained society. Yami refused to be pulled down by anyone or anything.

"It was eleven years ago today, exact, when Takeshi Mutou sped through my neighborhood. My mother and I…we were walking home in the rain. I was eager to stay outside, but she insisted that we return before my father did so we could make dinner. I ignored her warning and ran out into the street. No one was around, so I didn't think anything of it. Cars rarely ever passed through on Saturdays. But, my mother came into the street to retrieve me when I wouldn't return, and that's when….that's when…." He stumbled on the words, choked on them. He lowered his head, anger becoming evident as his body shook.

"Takeshi hit your mother while driving," Marik finished, voice trailing.

Yami nodded. "What was worse…was that she could have been saved. After he hit her, he stopped the car and got out. When he saw me, he seemed to panic and quickly jumped back in his car, leaving us there. I had no way of contacting anyone and I couldn't bring myself to leave her side."

Marik had a feeling that there was more to it than just what he heard and braced himself.

"By the time helped arrived, it was too late. She had passed away and she was then taken away from me forever. My father was devastated. After the funeral he wound up locking himself in his study, refusing to eat or acknowledge anyone. One day, after returning from school, his door was open for the first time in months…but he was there, hanging from the doorframe with a rope around his neck clutching a portrait of my mother. By then, everything was taken away thanks to Takeshi Mutou," Yami hissed. His hands clenched into tight fists, barely restrained from lashing out at something.

"What did you do afterward?"

"I was supposed to live in an orphanage until someone in my family could claim me…but I ran. I wanted nothing more," he stated, sullen. "And ever since, I've been on my own, an outcast of society."

"And two years later, we met," Marik said with a chilled laugh. "And ever since we've been at each other's side, along with Bakura and Jounouchi."

Nodding, Yami brought his eyes to meet Marik's. "So now you know."

"Yeah, but I still think you're on a self-destructive path, Yami. Even Jounouchi thinks so."

"Either way," Yami said, stepping from underneath the umbrella, letting the rain fall over his skin once more "I will exact my revenge, even if it kills me."

'That's what I'm afraid of,' Marik thought sourly. "Come on, let's get back before someone sees us here."

Without an exchange of words, the two boys disappeared from the cemetery, Yami's umbrella left behind, leaned up against his mother's grave as if protecting it from the rain.


Yugi's eyes settled on the window, mind blatantly occupied with worries. Day in, day out, he came to this prestigious school for a temporary release from his father, but it wasn't enough. Not anymore. The moment he returned home, he could feel the chill of hatred crawling in his heart, fear making his body jittery and his mind paranoid. He could never tell when his father would be there, ready to finish what had begun. It became a game of sorts.

"Yugi, are you alright?"

A voice… Whose was it?

"Yugi, you're starting to scare me! Come on, answer me, please?"

Right, the bell had rung for lunch, and as predicted, Anzu was standing by his desk, gently shaking him from his reverie. Yugi looked up at her, unable to hide the blush that swept his cheeks.

"Anzu, I'm sorry," he said, stammering. "I guess I was lost in thought."

Without retracting her gaze, Anzu pulled a notebook from her schoolbag and set it on Yugi's desk. "You've been daydreaming a lot more lately… Is everything alright?" she questioned. Finally she peered into her bag, searching for something while Yugi studied the notebook. "I wrote down notes since you weren't paying attention…again."

Yugi flushed red again. "You don't have to keep doing that for me…. It's not fair to you, Anzu."

"Don't worry about it, Yugi," Anzu laughed. "It's clear you have a lot on your mind. I wouldn't want you to fall behind." She yanked out a bento box a scooted it toward him. "Both in class and eating." With a sigh, she pulled out her own lunch and sat directly across from her childhood friend, eyes holding a patient gleam as she studied him. "I noticed you haven't been bringing lunch either."

"Mm, I tend to rush out of the house and don't have time to make one," Yugi stated, nervous laugh escaping. He knew Anzu could detect there was more to this then he was saying, but his gaze begged for her to refuse inquiring him about it. "I'll tell you later," he added, shrinking in on himself as if ashamed. It was then that it clicked in Anzu's mind, chopsticks falling from her hands.

It was no secret to her. From the moment they first met, Anzu had discovered the darkness that loomed over Yugi like a taunting cloud of despair. She couldn't help but reach out to him, bewitched by the innocence that he held protectively around himself.

'How could someone so pure and fragile be the son of that tyrant?' she thought, dumbfounded. It didn't make sense to her, but it seeped into heart, uninvited, forcing her to reach out to Yugi. There was only so much she could do, and what little she did didn't seem to be enough.

"Yugi…"

"I'm okay, Anzu," Yugi said, smiling, fake. "There's nothing anyone can do."

"Do you really accept that?"

Anzu's words surprised him, pierced through his heart and forcing a guilty conscious on him. What did he accept? Yugi always knew the ways of abuse, accepting it full heartedly. His mother didn't know and even if she did what could a woman who fears the same man do? As far as Yugi knew his mother was never struck physically, unlike him.

He lowered his head, defeated. "I don't know anymore," he whimpered softly. "No matter what, I'll never really be able to escape him. He expects me to inherit his company… But he's so disappointment in me already and the…." He couldn't bring himself to continue. Each year the abuse became worse, life-threatening. Yugi never told Anzu that his biggest wish was to die, but he was too much a coward to strip his own life. As much as he wanted to die, he wanted desperately to live, but not like this. Never like this.

"Listen, Yugi," Anzu said suddenly, tearing Yugi away from his morbid thoughts. "Your father doesn't own you. Once you turn eighteen in a few months, you'll be able to escape, to move out. He can't force you to do anything!"

Yugi shook his head in despair. "It's not so simple, Anzu. My father… He'd find me, force me back home. No matter when I go he won't let me leave until I'm the son he always wanted. I don't think I could ever live to his expectations. No matter what, I never want to be like him!"

Anzu could clearly see the terror in Yugi's amethyst eyes, brimming with tears. "Yugi, it's alright. We'll figure something out. In the meantime, please eat something?"

Reluctantly, Yugi bit into the omelet, enjoying the taste, but hating the way his stomach flipped with unease. He only hoped that Anzu was right… Maybe there was a way out and he just hadn't discovered it yet.

He certainly was in for a surprise, unaware of how drastically his life would truly change…


Night fell, the rain long since dried on the walkways leading to the warehouse. Yami sighed, unable to tear his eyes away from the television even after the door slammed shut, a muffled set of curses drifting in the air around him. Had Jounouchi returned already? It was the blonde boy's turn to retrieve dinner.

"Yo, Yami."

No reply.

"Yami?"

"Shh," Yami hissed. His crimson hues were settled in irritation on the figure taking up the screen, teeth gnawing on his lower lip, making it bleed. 'Damn him…. Why does he have to haunt me? Torment me?' he thought, fuming. It didn't matter where, he would always see that mans horrible face and with it the memory of his mother's death…

Jounouchi placed the bags he'd obtained on a table and turned toward Yami, his eyes narrowing as a sigh escaped him. 'He's obsessing again…' He knew nothing of Yami's past, only that he had become an orphan at the age of seven and Takeshi Mutou was responsible for his mother's death. It was the smaller details he lacked. He could sense the pain and rage seeping from Yami a mile away and knew it best to avoid the subject at all times, unless he wanted a broken nose…again. The last time he had inquired about Yami had nearly sent him to the hospital, and Marik explained the pain Yami must be going through.

He forgave him six months after their fight, and learned to hold his tongue. Yami was definitely never one to mess with that was for certain. A realization he learned late.

When the TV went to commercial, Yami turned his head to look at Jounouchi, eyes flickering with an unknown emotion. "You're back," he finally said, voice a soft murmur. The blonde nodded and tossed an apple at him.

"Where's Marik and Bakura?"

"Out. Bakura was getting anxious being inside so Marik took him somewhere," Yami answered absently. "Speaking of which, I'm going to head out myself."

"You're just gonna leave me here alone?" Jounouchi complained. "I just got back…."

"You really want the company of Bakura? Take advantage of having the place to yourself."

Yami was right. He probably shouldn't complain about having the warehouse to himself. Bakura always managed to turn peace into chaos, making it a rather lively place to live. So, without further adieu, Jounouchi plopped down on the couch and changed channels, letting a content sigh escape him.

"I'll be back later," Yami stated. Jounouchi gave a short wave, too distracted by the TV to really say anything more.

The cool night air flew onto his face in a gust. Yami shut the warehouse door behind him, losing himself to his thoughts. He still couldn't believe he had told Marik everything and so easily too. It just wasn't like him to share his secrets… In a way, he believed Marik deserved it, having been by his side the longest, the one who didn't appear to abandon him on any level. In fact, it was Marik who kept peace within the warehouse.

They had met Jounouchi five years ago when he had gotten tangled up with yakuza. Rather than letting the poor boy die, Yami stepped in, able to defeat every last one of them in a game of chess. It helped that with their defeat, the yakuza member's souls were lost to the Shadow Realm for all eternity. It was that instant when the blonde outcast had clung to them, managing to befriend them, despite Yami's chilling nature.

Yami didn't mind though. Jounouchi was good to have around when he didn't wish to think so much. It helped him find peace when his relentless mind, crazed, kept him from sleep, like tonight. He didn't wish to deal with the blonde, however. Not now, not when he was still reeling from the grief of what today represented.

Eleven years ago today…. Had it really been that long?

Sighing, Yami paused, lifting his hand to examine the apple Jounouchi had thrown him, and took a bite. The flavor filled his mouth, pleasing him as he chewed slowly, savoring the fruity taste. It had been awhile since he had been able to sink his teeth into the delectable fruit. It appeared Jounouchi was able to steal quite a few things tonight on his dinner run, though it was Bakura who managed to steal most of the good luxuries.

Thinking back to it, the warehouse was bare up until three years ago when Bakura had discovered them. Marik had brought him back one night after he'd gotten into trouble with the cops for starting a fight at the club. It appeared the two had bonded almost immediately, and Yami didn't think it would hurt to have him around, being a masterful thief.

He chuckled to himself, wondering whether their home-sweet-home would ever become discovered and taken away. So far, they had managed to stay off the radar, able to live in the now luxurious four story warehouse. To keep the bickering to a minimum, each had their own level, Yami's being the very top, then Marik's, then Jounouchi's, then Bakura's. The only thing they ever shared was the first level, set-up as a living room slash kitchen.

Even if their home was discovered, he had no intention of giving it up. He'd banish anyone to the Shadow Realm who tried.

Yami came to a stop, finishing the last bits of apple before chucking the core off to the side. He glanced around struck with a sense of awe, unable to pinpoint where he was exactly. Had he been that caught up in his thoughts to have not noticed which direction he had wandered off to? It didn't help that it was nearly pitch black either.

As he was about to turn around, head back the direction he came, he glimpsed a figure from his peripheral, forcing him to set his crimson hues toward a boy. He was heavily in thought, steadily rocking himself back and forth on a swing across the street. With piped interest, mostly due to the striking resemblance, Yami strolled casually toward the playground.


'Why does it have to be like this?' he thought with malice. 'Why can't I just end it?'

Yugi tugged at his sleeve, yanking it up over his elbow as he stared at the bloody bandage on his wrist. This is what he wanted, wasn't it? So why had he become so reluctant about taking his own life? What was keeping him tethered down, unable to perform one simple act? All these questions and no answers, spiraling in his head at an overwhelming capacity, driving him to the brink of insanity.

"Why can't I do it?" he shouted, cupping his face in his hands. Tears stung his eyes, spilling over and wetting his cheeks. This feeling…this horrible, toxic feeling! He just couldn't release himself from it! It ate away at his heart, making any compassion seem worthless. "I hate it…" he whispered, sobbing.

"Hate what?"

Yugi's head jerked up and with a yelp, fell backwards off the swing. His eyes were large, surprised, darting around until landing on the tall figure concealed in shadow. Squinting, he prompted himself into the sitting position, heart aflutter in his chest. As his thoughts gathered, finally making sense of what just happened, the figure stepped forward offering a hand.

It was Yami, though to Yugi, it was just a strange boy.

"Who are you?" Yugi asked softly. He glanced at the boy's ring decorated hand, to his wrist where a black leather buckled bracelet kept the sleeve of a long sleeved shirt down, before gingerly reaching up and grasping the larger hand. He yelped again when he was lifted up without the slightest bit of effort.

"My name's Yami," he answered with a dark chuckle. "I didn't mean to startle you. I thought you heard me approach." He nudged the smaller boy in the side with a wink. "Must've been a girl on your mind?" Yugi laughed, nervous, unable to hide how obvious it was that Yami guessed wrong. Though according from the glint in Yami's eyes, he already knew it wasn't a girl Yugi was thinking off.

"Perhaps you're thinking of something darker," Yami continued, holding his hand up. Yugi immediately stopped breathing, noticing the streak of blood across the boy's beautiful palm… Then, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible, glanced down to see that he had bled through the white bandages on his wrist.

Yami sighed, unfazed by the horrified expression on Yugi's pale face. In fact, he seemed quite amused by it. His dark eyes fell to the bandage, droplets of ruby streaking the younger boys trembling hand. It was like he had suddenly become mesmerized by the flowing red, bringing a whirl of memories to streak across his normally unreadable face. It was brief, but long enough to make Yugi take a step back.

"I should go," Yugi murmured.

"Wait," Yami said, quick to grab Yugi's hand. "First tell me why you tried to kill yourself."

"That…doesn't concern you." This strange boy…his gaze, his grip, Yugi found it to be entirely too unriveting and he couldn't shake the eerie feeling that washed over him. Why would a stranger be too fascinated by his reason for attempted suicide? It made no sense. Without hesitation, Yugi pulled his hand away, but made no effort to walk away. "I…I don't know anymore," he admitted." Logic had long since abandoned him.

Yami turned thoughtful, unsettling gaze still fixated on the wound. "You're bleeding too much."

"I didn't cut deep enough. I'll be fine."

"Do you have someone to care for it properly?"

Yugi had begun walking away, but when the question was sprung, he paused. A bad mistake. Yami maneuvered so he was standing in front of the shorter boy. That small hesitation gave him away. Despite coming from a rich family, Yugi never dared to put trust into any of the household servants. They would always report back to his father, no matter what they said, and he knew this all too well.

"I'll just wrap it up tightly," Yugi said suddenly, averting his eyes.

Yami snorted, obviously amused. "If you want to cut off your circulation." He crossed his arms, still refusing to budge.

Yugi's irritation was growing, and fast. "What do you care? You don't even know me."

"You're right, I don't," came the haughty reply. "I could care less about your intentions for wanting to kill yourself, but the fact you tried… Believe me, it's not worth it."

"And how would you know?"

A soft, dry laugh skittered into the air, leading an awkward silence to drift between them. Yami's aura had gone from serious to hostile, making Yugi squirm. He regretted speaking of, suddenly piecing together the answer for himself like a puzzle. Then, with a burst of naïve courage, Yugi looked Yami in the eyes, amethyst orbs suddenly wide.

"You tried…to… I mean, you tried…too."

A flash of anger ignited in Yami's eyes. "Correct, but I got a hell of a lot further than you." With haste, he grabbed his own wrist, yanking off the buckled bracelet and jerking his sleeve up, revealing a faded scar going vertical. "It was the stupidest decision I ever made in my entire life," he added. "It's not worth it."

This was all so…much. Yugi had only snuck out of the mansion to clear his head, and now he wound up with more thoughts than ever expected. Yami was a strange boy, so bold, so confident. It was hard to imagine someone like him trying to commit suicide and suddenly he didn't feel so weak… Somehow Yami managed to piece himself together again, and if that was possible, then maybe…he could too.

Still, it made no sense as to why a strange would even care. Didn't outcasts of society hate rich kids?

Yugi blinked back tears. This was all just too much. Too unexpected.

"Come on," Yami said, voice barely hinting toward any emotion. He seemed to be entirely swallowed up in thought. "You need to get that wrist bandaged again before it gets infected."

"But I…"

"Relax, I'll have you back to this spot in one hour," Yami assured.

It didn't appear there was room for arguing, so reluctantly, Yugi followed.

'With my luck he's probably some psycho killer who's lured me in,' Yugi thought with dread.

Yami took several alleyways, keeping to the shadows and frequently glancing around. He was cautious, rightfully so, considering they left all traces of the safe neighborhood Yugi knew to the darkness where drug dealers, prostitutes, and outcasts lurked. He was pretty certain that the yakuza dwelled in these parts too. What on earth had he gotten himself into?

Finally, the two arrived at the docks where most of the abandoned warehouses stood, tall, ominous. Signatures to a life of crime. Yugi unknowingly inched closer to Yami, looking every which way possible. Yami merely chuckled as they came upon the largest warehouse in the district and stopped.

"We're here," Yami said.


Yami slid the door open, only to be greeted by a whirlwind of chaos.

Inside, Marik was standing beside the single kitchen table looking up, annoyance clearly written on the Egyptians face, arms crossed. Bakura was on the table attempting to lift himself onto one of the large pipes trailing the ceiling, muttering curses. Jounouchi was nowhere to be seen, most likely out and about.

"Bakura, get down from there," Marik hissed. "You're too heavy to be on those pipes."

"And Jounouchi isn't? He's crawled up here several times," Bakura retorted, hoisting himself up. The table wobbled then settled, the thief officially clinging to one of the pipes and pulling himself further up and out of sight.

"You realize we can't afford to replace anything, right? We're lucky we get by as it is."

"Lucky? We live like kings!"

Marik quirked a brow. "Only to an extent. We have no money to have someone look at the pipes if they break under your weight. It took a lot of effort to set up the water and heat in this place! We don't have any alternatives.""

"Then blame Jounouchi. He's the one who decided to throw it up here like an idiot."

"What the hell is going on?" Yami finally interjected from the doorway. He didn't quite know how to react to the display before him, but he felt the soft throbbing of a headache coming on because of it. "I leave for an hour…and already you two manage to do something idiotic."

"Me?" Marik had a look of pure innocence on his face. "Look at Bakura and Jounouchi this time. I'm not in this."

"Got it!" Bakura exclaimed and jumped from the pipe to the table, making it precariously wobble again. In the thief's hand was a knife of expensive taste. "He's lucky he didn't put a hole in the pipe when he threw it up there."

"I'm staying out of this," Yami muttered. "I'm going to my room." When he stepped further into the warehouse, Yugi became exposed to sight, no longer able to successfully hide behind the taller boy. Bakura's gaze fell on him, a devilish smirk creasing his lips. Marik merely glanced at Yami, studying him closely. Yet another mystery neither one could solve that the strange crimson-eyed boy.

"Who's the shrimp?" Bakura questioned, sliding off the table. "Here I thought we were your only friends! Nice to know you're capable to coming out of that cold shell you live inside all the time."

Yami didn't bother answering, his annoyance peaking. Instead, he pulled Yugi along by the hand and toward a set of spiral metal stairs. It looked to be a long way up, making Yugi's stomach flip. He hated heights. But without a word, he followed the older boy, ignoring the comments the white-haired boy, Bakura, threw at them.

He had to admit though…the warehouse didn't look like one at all. The first level was decorated in expensive cloth and couches, a plasma TV in the center. Several different game systems littered the makeshift shelves along with movies and games. Pool tables and air hockey, darts…it was like a gaming paradise. It was clear Yami and his friends were no ordinary outcasts.

When they reached the top floor, Yami's floor, Yugi couldn't hold back the gasp that escaped him. It was like a palace room…. Gold curtains hung over the windows, draping everything in shadow. A large king sized bed was shoved in one corner, luxurious blankets and pillows fluffed on top. Then there were various couches and chairs of magnificent black leather set up. Another plasma TV was settled in the center. There was even carpet, a deep scarlet, covering the cement!

This was fancier than his own room….

"You look impressed," Yami murmured. He didn't understand the shorter boy's reaction. He was rich, so shouldn't he be used to luxury? Quirking a brow, he moved to Yugi's side, looking him in the eye. "Something wrong?"

"No… I just… I…."

"Not used to seeing an outcast living like this?"

Yugi could only manage a nod.

"I'm far from ordinary," Yami laughed. "Now, let's change that bandage."

Yugi immediately brought his hand close to his chest, as if protecting it. "Right…" Well, at least Yami wasn't cornering him like a savage in an attempt to murder him. That was a plus, although he still felt nervous being here. What if Yami didn't walk him back to the park and he was forced to find his way through unfamiliar streets? He wouldn't make it back home alive!

"Before you get blood everywhere, take your shirt off. The sleeve is soaked." Panic rose in Yugi as Yami disappeared into a small room that was used as a washroom, returning a moment later with a box and washcloth. The elder boy paused, taking the time to look at Yugi, his brow quirking up in confusion. "Did you not hear me?" he asked.

Yugi squirmed under those crimson orbs. "Can't I just roll up my sleeve?"

"Only if you want to get blood on my carpet…and I honestly wish you didn't."

"Then let's just go outside and do it," Yugi offered with a sheepish laugh.

"Are you embarrassed about being shirtless?"

If only Yami knew…. It was hardly about embarrassment, but shame. The moments his father's anger flew into an uncontrollable anguish, it left Yugi battered and weak. His mother knew nothing of it, living a sweet, oblivious life while the dark colorations of her son's ribs told of a whole new side to her 'loving husband'.

"No, it's not that," Yugi said. "I just don't feel comfortable."

"You're cut has more of a chance at getting infected outside than in here, so suck it up and take your shirt off."

"Or what?" Yugi challenged, naïve to what he had just ignited.

"Well, I could do a lot," Yami mused, taking a single step forward, leaving mere inches between them both. He let the box of bandages tumble from his hand to the couch, watching those amethyst eyes draw away from his own gaze, then, with his newly freed hand, brought it up to the top of Yugi's shirt, unbuttoning it.

Yugi's attention tore away from the box at back to Yami, cheeks flaming red and with a yelp, jumped back. "W-What're you doing?" he stammered, gripping his shirt to keep Yami's fingers from continuing what they had started.

A mere laugh slipped through the older boys lips. "Do you think you can keep me from getting my way? Going outside will infect your cut and I would rather not have blood on my carpet. And since you seem so reluctant to take your shirt off, I'll do it for you."

"S-Stay away! I have my reasons for not wanting to!" Those words froze Yami, and his curiosity piped. Reasons? Slowly, he dropped those pools of ruby down the Yugi's neck, eyes narrowing in the dim light. Was it just him or was there discoloration around the boy's collarbone? No, it had to be the light. What on earth was he saying? Yami knew exactly what he was looking at! The poor boy had one hell of a bruise and it probably wasn't the only one…

The boy quickly buttoned his shirt again, turning away from Yami. "I should leave."

"Not quite."

He knew it. Yami was probably some schizophrenic that was now going to kill him because he went and made him mad! Yugi cursed at himself mentally, trying hard not to simply bolt for the stairs. This was not a situation he perceived as good.

"Yugi."

Yugi jumped, startled upon hearing his name. Granted, they had only known each other for about forty minutes, but it wasn't the fact that Yami's remembered his name… It was more like the way he said it: Low, soft…a deep-set emotion that he couldn't place lining his tone.

Without turning around, he glanced at his wound, and halfway hugged himself with one arm. "Yami? I really should leave… I can take care of the wound myself."

"Your wrist… It's not the only thing hurting, is it?"

That's when Yugi turned to face Yami, bewildered amethyst meeting dark crimson orbs, terror marking its place on his features. "I'm leaving!" But, before Yugi could even turn to run, Yami had stepped close, taking Yugi's hand and pulling him into his arms in order to keep him inside the room. Yugi's cheeks flushed red, his brain unable to comprehend anything. It registered that Yami had his arms around Yugi, but it was hardly an embrace of romance…but more like anger…of possessiveness. There was a glint he feared in those crimson orbs, something he knew probably appeared quite often in this boy.

"Y-Yami?" Yugi stammered, looking up. Yami was glaring off to the side, lost in thought.

Finally, he turned to face Yugi, harsh eyes making amethyst pools avert suddenly. "Who hurt you?"

"No one," Yugi lied softly. He kept his head down, forehead resting on Yami's chest. "I don't know what you're talking about."

Yami had no idea what had come over him… Perhaps it was the fact he had discovered someone who was so…timid, so fragile. Marik and Bakura, even Jounouchi never put up with anyone's shit. He hardly ever had to worry about any of them being considered weak, but this boy…Yugi, he was so reluctant to stand up for himself it seemed. Yami didn't like seeing someone like this. It made him edgy, reminding him of his own weakest moment when he found himself bleeding and sedated in a hospital, hoping to die.

"You're lying," Yami said softly. He released Yugi, stepping back, but his hands maneuvered, one resting on Yugi's chest near his heart, the other gently picking Yugi's wrist up to examine it. "You did this," he said, indicating the wound, "Because someone hurt you more than you could bear."

Yugi was absolutely baffled at what to say. Again, he couldn't help but think this was all too much for him to handle. Instead of struggling against Yami, he lifted his head, eyes glistening with tears. Whether this boy understood or not, the feelings bottled up would not be contained any longer and hopelessly Yugi began to ramble. "I-I just wanted it t-to end!" he sobbed. "I'm tired o-of being w-weak! It's all I-I ever am!" He ducked his head down, wet streaks forming on his pale cheeks leaving Yami speechless. "I didn't choose this l-life! I wanted to be n-normal! To have friends!"

This was certainly turning out to be a rather odd night, Yami thought. Of all the things, this was the last he ever expected to have happen. "Who is it that does this to you?"

Yugi couldn't possibly bring himself to answer. To tell a stranger that his own father hated him, beat out his frustrations because he wasn't perfect… It was a secret only Anzu and himself knew. How could be possibly tell another, a strange nonetheless?

When Yugi remained silent, Yami sighed and stepped away. "At least let me rewrap your wrist…" By now, Yugi's sleeve was drenched in blood clear up to his elbow and on the side where he had kept it from dripping on the floor. It was bleeding more, meaning Yugi had reopened it and somehow made it deeper. It was stringing a hell of a lot more than it had when the kitchen knife slid across his flesh.

Yami disappeared again, though he was unsure that Yugi wouldn't just bolt. He went and grabbed a medium sized towel, returning to, half surprised to still see the smaller boy standing there. "Here." He handed the towel to Yugi with a soft sigh. "Wipe your tears and use it to help keep the blood from falling on the floor. Come into the bathroom near the sink, it should help."

His skin felt sticky from the blood and wondered if he really had cut deeper than he thought…. No way would he be bleeding this much and this long. Worry crept over him as he padded the wound, wincing. It certainly stung like hell. He went into the bathroom, followed by Yami where he sat at the edge of the bathtub, gingerly beginning to remove the bandage. Sure enough, the gash was deeper than he thought, but not deep enough to have been fatal. He didn't quite understand how the body worked, though he remembered that Yami's scar had been vertical whereas his was just straight across his wrist.

"You're lucky you cut yourself the wrong way, otherwise you could have been dead by now," Yami said. "You barely missed the main vein."

So that was it… He had failed because he didn't cut himself right. Either way, he pushed that thought away and dabbed at the wound a bit more before Yami took the towel and turned the water on. Once the cloth was damp with warm water, the older boy took over, gently taking Yugi's hand and pressing the cloth onto the tender, mutilated flesh.

"Ahh, it hurts!" Yugi wanted to jerk his hand away, but forcefully kept himself still.

"Gee, I wonder why…" Yami muttered sarcastically. Once the blood was washed away, Yami stood, dropping the towel into the tub and disappearing for a third time. Yugi examined the wound closely, fascinated by the split skin. He wondered how bad of a scar would be left behind and whether he would be successful in keeping it a secret from his father and Anzu. Just then, a white shirt dropped into his lap, ripping him away from his reverie.

"Huh?"

"You can't keep running around in the shirt you have now. You'll draw too much attention no matter where you're at." He kneeled beside Yugi, once again taking hold of his hand, examining it. "It's not bleeding as bad… But it's still going to go through the bandage."

"How do we make it stop?"

"This is going to sting," Yami warned. From the box he removed a small vile and opened it, looking inside before tipping the bottle onto his fingers. It was a clear gel like substance without a scent. Yugi hadn't seen anything like that before and looked at Yami. "Give me your wrist." Yugi complied obediently, tensing as Yami's fingers grazed the wound, sending a chilling pain to rush through him. He winced, immediately attempting to yank his hand away, but the strong grip Yami had was like a steel encasing.

"What is that?"

"I'm not really sure… They used it on me at the hospital. It acts like a seal to keep the skin together and to keep the bleeding down. It helps to make the scar less noticeable." After finishing up, the older boy grabbed the gauze and pressed it gently against the wound, using medical tape to keep it in place. "That should do it." When he stood, Yugi felt obligated to say something more than a simple thank you…but anything that he could think of sounded foolish or cheesy. Instead, he looked down at the white shirt in his lap.

"I'll wait outside." Yami left the boy alone, bathroom door shutting behind him, dejected.


"Yami's never brought someone home with him before, even a woman," Bakura stated, peering up the ceiling, as if he would somehow be able to see what was happening. He had been pacing around the room since Yami's return, tempted to travel the dangerous lengths of the stairs, knocking on the door, and asking. Marik had convinced him not to, making it a point that method was practically suicidal.

"Not sure what to tell you," Marik replied. His own curiosity had risen, though unlike the thief, he was able to maintain a casual appearance. Bakura simply paced, made comments, and growled in anger when he was convinced to stay put.

"Why can't we just ask? I mean, yeah, Yami has a temper…but he would—"

"For the last time: no." With a sigh, Marik stood, switching off the TV and glancing at the white-haired male. "Whoever it was…he looked an awful lot like Yami."

"Say, you don't suspect Yami's into cloning, do you?" Bakura asked, looking up at the ceiling for a sixth time. Distracted, he didn't see the wadded up magazine being tossed through the air until smack it hit him square in the jaw. He growled and glared at Marik, who had turned his gaze away innocently. "Marik!"

"What?" The blonde smirked, crossing his arms. "If you want to fight, you know I can take you on at any given time." It was a downright wonder how Yami put up with the two as long as he had…

Bakura crossed the room, fists clenched. "You're pushing your limits, Ishtar!"

"Oh, really? I'm not the one who's saying absurd things."

"Absurd? Cloning is possible, and there's no way someone could be born with Yami's hairstyle and not be cloned! It's impossible."

Marik just laughed. "I highly doubt that boy was cloned. Besides, wouldn't he have red eyes and extra blonde in his hair? He was missing those attributes that Yami has." Pondering, he added, "besides, if he were Yami's clone, he would be taller and not so kid-like."

Bakura was about to counter, but the loud creak of the warehouse door sliding open made him turn his gaze away from Marik. So far, only Yami and the thief were successful in entering the warehouse without being detected. He sighed, relinquishing the argument and focused his thoughts on Jounouchi, who was standing with a baffled expression plastered on his face.

"What're you two talking about? Have you gone completely insane?" Jounouchi asked. He managed to overhear part of their conversation about cloning, and was quite certain he didn't want to know.

"Are you insane?" Bakura hissed, reaching behind him and pulling out the knife that had been wedged in the ceiling earlier. The blade flashed and Jounouchi gulped. "Did you think I wouldn't find it? It's my knife and you threw it into the ceiling…."

"Hey, it's not my fault you wave it around! Last night you nearly poked my eye out with that thing," Jounouchi defended. "Anyway, where's Yami?"

"Upstairs," Marik answered. "I wouldn't disrupt him though. He has company."

Surprise became evident on Jounouchi's face as he took in Marik's words, connecting the dots. With a frivolous smirk, Jounouchi made his way toward the stairs, looking up much as how Bakura had earlier. "So Yami finally brought home a girl?" he asked, hopeful. "'Bout damn time!"

"Don't get your hopes up," Bakura stated quickly. "He brought home a guy."

"One that looks like he's in middle-school or something," Marik added.

Jounouchi stood there, officially confused. "Wait… Since when did Yami become a pedophile?" Like Déjà vu, two wadded up newspapers came flying with such force the blonde had to grip the railing of the stairs to keep from falling over. "Hey, what was that for?" On his left cheek was a bright red mark.

"You idiot! Yami's not a pedophile!" Bakura barked. "What in god's name goes on through that head, of anything…"

"The boy was injured," Marik stated nonchalantly, watching as Bakura plopped down on the couch and switched on the TV. "He hasn't come down since he arrived home."

"Have you tried going up and asking?"

"And die by Yami's hand for disrupting him? I think I'll pass, thank you."

With a defeated sigh, Jounouchi made his way toward the kitchen, fishing something out to eat. "He'd better have a good explanation, 'cause I'm not living with a pedophile," he muttered, apparently not soft enough as another newspaper smacked him in the back of the head…


'What's taking him so long?' Yami wondered. It had been ten minutes since he left Yugi alone to change shirts. Worry was beginning to overcome him to the point panic was starting to rise. What If he did something to hurt himself? Without as much as a second thought, Yami's fist banged on the door.

"Yugi, are you alright?" he asked. "Is something wrong?"

"Not…exactly," came Yugi's soft murmur. He had slipped out of his white button up, but was unable to slip the white shirt Yami lent him over his head. How could he let such a vital thing fall from his mind? Just weeks ago, his father made him accompany him to the stables where six of the United Kingdom's best horses were boarded. His father had been determined to own them, simply for show. Yugi had been disgusted by such vanity, but rather than resist, he followed like a dog.

Being afraid of heights, Yugi was reluctant to mount the horse, whose height reached a healthy seventeen hands. (1). He absolutely hated it… His father wanted him to be able to ride perfectly, despite it being Yugi's first time even going near the graceful animals. So when he fell, landing a nasty bruise on his collar bone when it connected to the fence, his father flew into a bitter rage, using the crop (2) to land a gash across his back.

The wound wasn't deep, but it was strewn across his muscles, making the wound open if he moved wrong. To say the least, it burned as if a scorching frying pan had been tossed at him. He had been lucky not to reopen the wound until now, when he forgot and lifted his arms up in an attempt to switch shirts. Up until now, he wore button ups which took little to no movement to slip on.

"Nn, gah!" he hissed. He felt the warm trickle of blood on his back. Damn, it had opened. But he couldn't allow Yami to see him like this…

"Yugi?" Yami called again, unable to keep his panic under control. He couldn't afford to leave the boy alone after he had made a suicide attempt… For all he knew he could be attempting to finish what he started. "Yugi, I'm coming in," he stated.

"No!" Yugi shouted. "Please, I'm alright!" He winced. 'Liar…' He wasn't alright. "On second thought I…" He didn't even have to finish when the bathroom door swung open. Yami's crimson eyes immediately fell to the large, bloody mark on Yugi's back, eyes widening.

Unsuccessfully, Yugi shrank away. Running up his ribs were bruises, fading, but still very evident. Along his collar bone, from falling off the horse, was a large and blue and along his arms were bruises in the distinct shape of a large hand….

Yami couldn't believe what he was seeing. This boy was obviously is worse shape than he originally thought. "Yugi!" he said, rushed, and knelt beside him. He could feel rage building up, ready to explode. "Who did this to you?" he demanded, low, hushed…dangerously. He leaned over the tub to retrieve the towel from before and gently pressed it against Yugi back, making the boy wince and hiss in pain.

Yugi knew it was futile to try and get Yami to leave. What would it accomplish anyway? He saw how badly battered his body was… "I-I can't say," he whispered, broken.

Yami growled in frustration, trying, with difficulty, to keep his touch gentle. At the moment, he needed to concentrate on the wound. He fumbled for the box, taking out the vile from before and pouring it on his fingers. The wound was, for the most part, clean from dapping at it with the damp towel. So, without hesitation, Yami rubbed the gel on the wound, holding Yugi's shoulder to keep him from jerking away. Once he pulled away, Yugi fell forward, panting, as Yami paused.

"Are you alright?" Yami asked, placing a hand on the younger boys shoulder. "Is this why you didn't want to take your shirt off earlier?"

Yugi nodded, clenching his hands. Fresh tears welled up in his pure eyes. "I didn't…want…anyone to see…me like this!" he stammered. "I thought maybe…maybe…" Unable to finish, he pressed his forehead against the floor, sobbing uncontrollably.

Who in their right mind would do something so horrible to someone like this? Yugi didn't look to be a threat to anyone, so why? Yami could barely maintain his own anger, finding the idea of abuse so incredibly repulsive.

"This…is going to sting," he murmured. Yugi flinched when a pad of gauze pressed again the wound, and then another, then a third and final piece kept together by medical tape. Yami remained silent, gently pulling the younger boy back up and helping him slide the shirt over his head while careful not to irritate the wound further. Once Yugi was fully dressed again, the tears now silent streams down his face, Yami moved so that he was sitting in front of him, crimson eyes bearing into sorrowful amethyst.

"Tell me who did this," he whispered. "I'll make them pay…suffer for this."

Yugi shook his head, biting his lower lip until it bled. Yami softly reached up and traced the newly acquired wound, wiping the blood away and bringing a bloody finger to his own lips, letting his tongue flick out and taste the red liquid.

"You really need to stop bleeding. It's a wonder you have any blood left in you."

Still, Yugi did not answer.

Yami leaned close, grabbing Yugi's unhurt wrist and squeezing gently. "Why will you not tell me who did this to you?" So what if they only knew each other for an hour…. Yami didn't understand, nor care to even acknowledge the feelings that swept over him in a powerful wave. Was it because of the state Yugi was in or Yugi himself that ignited such a protective demeanor in Yami?

"I can't tell you…because you don't stand…a chance against him," Yugi finally said, barely audible.

Yami chuckled darkly. "Believe me… no one stands a chance against someone like me."

"My…father."

His father had done this to him? Yami was utterly appalled. Yugi's words only fueled his anger, the darkness within him rising like an untamable beast. How could people like that even be allowed to exist? They should be killed on sight, forced to suffer by their own crimes, experiencing every ounce of pain they inflicted times ten.

"I'll destroy him," Yami hissed.

Yugi choked on a sob, bowing his head in defeat. "You won't…be able to touch him."

"And why is that?"

With great hesitation, Yugi peered into Yami's eyes, silently begging for him to just let it go. "Because," he said. "My father is Takeshi Mutou, Japan's most untouchable man."

In that exact moment, Yami froze, unblinking. The blood in his veins ran like ice, heart thrumming against his ribcage, eyes darkening as his world turned upside down.


1.) A method used for measuring horses
2.) A short whip

Patience is a virtue. I try to update around one or two weeks, so be sure to check back. Please review. Reviewing not only helps me out and gives inspiration to update faster, but it's courteous too :D