Thicker Than Water


-fwWWRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!-

Sounds of trains coming and going from the station filled the air, drowned out by the chatter of passersby and screeching sirens heralding arrival and departure. For some people, they were visiting family. For others, simply coming in for work.

In the case of himself and Yugi however, it was just a vacation. The week long break between year two and year three of classes had finally arrived; and while Seto and Mokuba were in the USA for business reasons, he and his friend would be visiting Shizuka and the others in Osaka. "I'll be back in a few days," Yugi was telling Anzu for the moment, Katsuya looking around the station as he stood by the open train door. "We'll still be going to that one place right?"

Anzu giggled a little, nodding and giving her friend a hug. "Yep! Be sure to take pictures though, I've never seen Osaka! Also," she continued, "There's something I need to tell you, so-"

The boy nodded, as Anzu spoke, before another loud siren like noise belted through the air. "AH-" He turned. "Sorry Anzu! You'll have to tell me later!" Despite the obvious disappointment in response to that, he headed for the train. "I'll email you!"

"Right..."

"Yugi! Hurry up, we'll miss it!"

"Ah- Y-YEA!"

Doors soon closed and from the window Yugi could see Anzu waving, apparently having troubles abandoning the discomfort of not being able to share what it was she'd hoped to share for the sake of a proper good bye. As it was, it wasn't long before the train pulled out of the station... And soon enough Yugi was walking down the hall to where Katsuya sat. "Hahhhh... I almos' thought y' didn' make it!"

Yugi laughed, taking the second of three seats. "It wasn't that bad!"

"Ahh, well, we got four hours now. What was it tha' Anzu was going to say anyway, felt like somethin' important..."

The boy turned, blinking. "Eh? You think so?"

He stared off a moment, shrugging in the end. "Well, it can't be anything that won't go in an email right?"

"Right!"

"Well, we got good seats at least," Katsuya decided, leaning against the seat. "We should get a shot 'f Fuji fr'm here, an' the train route through Kyoto's not too bad either..."

"Ah, is it?" Yugi leaned over, peering around his friend briefly before leaning back himself. "I'll have to show the Other Me later, when he comes back."

What- "Eh? Comes back?"

He nodded. "Y-yea," he admitted somewhat uneasily. "We decided- rather, the Other Me decided, to test our distance limit..."

"...An' tha' means?"

"He's still at the station."

"WHA-" The blond hurriedly choked down his shouts as people around began to look over, waiting for them to turn back before speaking. "Th' hell's he doing at th' station still?!"

"We figured that it would be the quickest way to test it," Yugi explained. "The bullet train won't take too long to reach our limit I would think."

"Th' hell's gonna happen 'f it stretches all th' way t' Osaka..."

Errrr... The boy's face went rather blank despite the smile, and he laughed. "Hahahaaaaa. I- I suppose a 'switch' would bring us back to the same spot."

AH.

Would that even work? "So- So I guess we'll find out in abou' an' hour huh..." There was a bit of uneasy nodding at that, before the boy pulled out his deck.

"Y-Yea... Hey, you want to duel while we wait?"

"Heh! Sure!"

For the week of free time between one term and the next, there were a fair number of travel plans underway. Aside from Yugi and Katsuya, the Kaiba siblings were currently plane-bound to the United States for matters concerning business. Bakura was spending some time with his father- as was Otogi. Honda had little more than a walk however, same as Anzu.

And in the end, regardless of who was going where, there was a silence for a fair span of time. After about an hour of travel duels were stopped for the sake of other things. Mount Fuji was indeed spotted- the two briefly stared at the window at the sight, but being who they were found themselves quickly bored again. Food was also pulled out before the two hour mark; simple lunches of rice and canned drinks, and in the end they were back to what one normally did when all options were exhausted for boredom.

Sit, and stare off in silence. For Yugi, this meant sorting through his deck. Cards were soon sitting on the sidearm between himself and his friend, a few others in his hands. For Katsuya himself, he simply stared out the window, watching as sights switched between fields of rice to the occasional tree and eventually sights of a city.

'Now approaching station,' a voice chimed from above, Yugi briefly looking up as a sound Katsuya had long forseen echoed through the air. 'We repeat- now approaching station. Any who intend to disembark,' it continued, Yugi's cards slowly placed back to the side as he listened, 'Please gather your things in an orderly manner and await a full and complete stop.'

"Ahh, Kyoto already," Yugi started. "And still no-" He froze, Katsuya blinking as his friend's expression began to twist and contort.

"...Yug'?"

"Sgggg..." The boy curled up, grabbing at his head. "Shhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa..."

"...Yugi?"

"'te 'te 'te 'te 'te," he muttered to himself, his friend unable to keep from looking mildly amused. "My head," he hissed, standing from his seat and moving to head toward the train's washroom. "Aaaaaah..."

"Ah- Y-Yugi, you alright?"

There was no response, but in the end he sat back down, shrugging as he waited for his friend to return. Well. Guess they knew the limits of Yugi and his other half's 'connection' now.

"A-An- Ano..." Katsuya blinked, watching as someone else came from the opposite end of the hall. "I-If you don't mind... Is the third seat here available?" Ahhh?

The blond stared for a moment. "Ah- You're tha' girl fr'm Battle City!" he realized, the girl in question jumping somewhat.

"Mn- I-If you don't want me to sit here, th-h-that's fine..."

Shiiiit. For Haga's sister, this girl was- "It's fine! What w's yer name again, Haga..." First name first name, he wasn't gonna feel right using Haga all day-!

"S-Sen! H-Haga Sen!" She bowed, moving to take the seat closest to the aisle. "Th-Thank you very much!"

"Don' mention it!"

"Eh?" At that moment Yugi appeared, hair mussed up in the typical fashion that came with the presence of the 'darker' side. "Someone's sitting here?"

Sen appeared to shrink somewhat, Katsuya nodding in the meantime. "Yea! She's th' girl I ran int' a Battle City; Haga's sister!"

This resulted in a fairly owlish stare as the girl continued to shrink against her seat. "...Haga's sister?"

"H-H... Hello! I- M-My name is S-Sen! Pleased to meet you!" Err...

There was a little more staring, before the boy slipped past to take his seat. "I didn't realize Haga had a younger sister."

"Ah- A-Actually, I'm o-older than him... I-It's only by a m-minute or so, admittedly, bu-but..."

Once again there was a bout of staring, Katsuya scratching his cheek a moment. "Righ' well at any rate-" Wait. "...Hang on, th's the Kyoto stop."

Yugi blinked, before quickly realizing what his friend meant by that. "Aah- if you're Haga's sister, wouldn't that mean you live in Tokyo?"

Sen nodded. "T-that's right... However, a few days ago I moved to Kyoto... My oldest sister was supposed to house-sit for a friend there, but I offered to go in her place... Th-That way, I wouldn't have to worry about rent while I go to school!" she added, the others briefly raising their eyebrows at the statement.

"Nn. If you just moved," Yugi began, "Why are you on the train to Osaka?"

"A-Ah, th-that is..."

"...Yer visitin' Haga righ'?" The 'right' was more of an add on really- he knew exactly what the reason was. However, the less who looked at him oddly, the better.

At any rate, the girl nodded, clutching the bag she'd brought on the train close. "Y-Yes!" She smiled, continuing. "K-Katsugi moved to Osaka with his friend... I wanted to visit, s-so I've been saving up some money for the trip!" The smile dimmed, and she looked down. "A-And.. I know that my sisters wouldn't want to... S-So, I want to see how he is at least..."

Mnnn...

The boys shared a look, silent. It felt like they were missing a fair bit of what was going on to be honest. Even so.

"Um..." They looked back, Yugi staring as Sen awkwardly held a small note pad out. "S-Sorry but... You're 'Mutou Yuugi', r-right?" He nodded, and Sen's smile grew. "Aaah... I heard that you're considered 'best in Japan' right now, r-right? I was wondering..." Eyes turned back to the notepad. "If you could s-sign..."

"Ah-" He stared, an awkward silence falling over the three. "...Very well."

The train trip from that point on wasn't quite as awkward as the meeting, thankfully.

Katsuya however couldn't help but grin inwardly at the idea of one of Haga's relatives going to Yugi for an autograph- even if she didn't ask the blond for one as well.


"Tch. What's he doing here?"

"Hahahahaaaaa. I could ask the same."

The situation at the station was tense, though thankfully not as much as it could have been. As Ryuzaki groaned quite audibly, smacking his face with his hand, the girls both watched in silence- one with a broken smile, the other looking quite uncomfortable.

As it was, it would have been one thing if it was just himself and Haga- but Haga hadn't been talking about the blond, and having the 'Other Yugi' here instead of the 'normal' one wasn't going to help matters at all.

'Yugi' snorted. "Ohh? I can't visit friends?"

It looked as though Ryuzaki was going to make a response to that first, but quite sadly, it was Haga who opened his mouth first. "Hmph! As though you'd associate with anyone within my circle," he spat, 'Yugi' merely shrugging as he smirked.

"I wasn't aware you even had a circle, let alone one that overlapped."

"Hey, you know, we went through this at Christmas," Ryuzaki grumbled from behind his hand, only for Haga's ego to again squash whatever hopes of peace there were.

"I don't know that it does overlap!"

"Are you saying these aren't your friends then?"

"I'm saying they're not yours!"

While Ryuzaki merely groaned and rubbed his head, Shizuka glared at her brother, hissing. "Nihan," she warned, her brother merely glancing back.

"Mn?"

"Nihan. Do something." she insisted, her brother shrugging at the request.

"Like what?" he whispered back as he looked to the crowd. The girl from the train- Haga's sister- was currently and unsuccessfully muttering 'please stop fighting' in an attempt to quell things, but the lack of confidence she had next to the others drowned her out quite entirely. Katsuya gestured to Ryuzaki, snapping the boy from his quiet groaning. "And how come he can't do anythin', he's the one who knows the guy!"

"Yea I know him enough to deal with when you're here," Ryuzaki countered, "But you decided to bring YUGI FUCKING MOTOU with you!"

"I said I w's bringin' a friend!"

"I figured it was one of the guys who showed up over the summer, not the fucking champion!"

"He's my best friend and you thought I'd let championship stop tha'?"

"Nihan..."

"No I figured Haga's past experiences would, it's fucking school break, not summer vacation!"

"KEICHI..."

"P-P-Please stop fighting!" Sen reiterated, again lost in the sea of bickers as Shizuka found herself struggling to mediate. "A-Aaaaah..." Her unease led her to wander around the group, panic set in her face as she wiped her brow. "P-Please... Um-" She cut herself short, eyes drawn to the side of the station where a small raffle could be seen. "N-Neh, wh- why not try that over there? That's- Um..."

Shizuka as well turned, and catching what the girl was attempting to do, looked back to the group and spoke clearer. "Katsuya-nihan!" she started with a somewhat sugared tone, "Look, a raffle draw!"

"A raffle?" Ryuzaki repeated, only to find himself half blown over as the blond looked around him. "G-OH-"

"Oh sweet, free raffle draw!"

"OW WHAT THE FUCK-"

"Mn? Jonouchi?" 'Yugi' asked in the meantime, looking back from his own argument.

"Hey-! Don't ignore me, bastard!"

"Oiii, Jonouchi, what is it!" the duelist instead called out, running after.

"WHAT- I said don't ignore me!"

"N-Neh, O-Otouto-"

Haga's words quieted as his sister approached, and after a bit of grumbling he wound up following with the others to watch as Katsuya rolled his sleeves for the draw. "Tch, these things are always rigged," he muttered, rolling his eyes. "Who could possibly get worked up about this?"

"K-Katsugi, it's still f-f-un right?"

A dismissive snort was the response, and for the most part aside from an amused glance from Shizuka, and rolled eyes from Ryuzaki, it was ignored. "Heheheeee... Time to show you just what happens to rigged games when I play 'm then!" Katsuya laughed as he glanced back, the others responding with their own flat stares.

"Wasn't the last time when I..." As 'Yugi' began to trail off, a loud disembodied 'shh!' followed, the teen quite suddenly growing white as Katsuya turned back.

"Time when you what?" Haga asked somewhat suspiciously, Ryuzaki muttering something along the lines of 'not asking' while the bespectacled boy narrowed his gaze.

"Doesn't matter!" Katsuya decided, shoving his arm into the raffle bucket with a grin. "Just watch! I'll prove ya wrong!"

More rolled eyes, this time from Haga as he grumbled about something he could have been doing other than this, and in the meantime the others merely waited. The papers lay piled and scattered along the bottom, and yet for the size of the barrel it seemed to Katsuya that he was reaching into nothingness. That what he should have easily grazed the bottom of was far out of reach, his arm groping through the darkness at nothing as he attempted to grasp a single ticket.

"Ah-" Then at last they managed to connect with something. A single folded piece was pulled out, and as he unfolded it he froze. "I-"

"Tch! I told you didn't I?" Haga snorted, turning on the spot.

"I can'-"

There was something in the tone of Katsuya's voice that had Haga glance back, eyes narrowed as the others stared. "Hey, what is it, it's just a blank ticket right?"

The ticket was turned around, and from its unfolded envelope they could see taped to its paper a brilliantly coloured travel brochure, Katsuya still half choking on his words. "Gran' prize..."

"H-Hehhhh!?" Shizuka sputtered, slowly developing a grin in the place of her shocked expression. "Tha- That's great nihan! I mean, the chances of that!"

"You didn't think you'd win did you," Ryuzaki laughed lowly, Katsuya growling at the jibe.

"Sh- SHADDUP!" he roared, 'Yugi' coming over to take the paper and look it over.

"A trip to 'India'?" he started, looking back to his friend. "Whe-"

"India?" Shizuka cut in, unknowingly sparing the other Yugi an awkward issue of explaining how he had never heard of the place. "That's an odd thing for a raffle prize," she murmured, the other Yugi quite swiftly making it seem as though he knew exactly what she was talking about.

"It says 'all expenses paid for'," he stated.

The others stared, and as Ryuzaki leaned over to look he choked. "WH- It says six people for this WEEK!"

"I won a free pass for six of us to take a vacation th's week!?" Katsuya shouted, the others merely gawking.

"This week?" Haga remarked incredulously. "It can't be real if it's this week-"

"S-Six people means that w-w... We could all go, r-right Otouto?"

"Why would I want to go at all!?"

"It- It sounds like fun, we're a-all packed too-"

"Yes Haga, why so quick to turn it down? Afraid of a little charity?"'Yugi' quipped slyly, the boy seething in response.

"Other me, that was a bit of a low blow..."

"Mn?" The spirit merely frowned, an unspoken 'what!' merely coming in response as Yugi sighed.

"Aw man th's the greatest timing," Katsuya was cheering in the meantime, "Six 'f us, free vacation, an' we'd still get back 'n time!"

"Nihan," Shizuka warned, "Katsugi-kun still has a point about this."

From beside her, Ryuzaki nodded. "Yea. Hate to break it to you, but it's probably a scam."

"Scam?" Katsuya snorted. "Th' heck would they be getting', me?" He grinned, adjusting the bag he'd brought with for the week. "We're all packed, an' there's a plane trip with our name on it! C'mon Shizukaaaaaaa!"

"Nihan..."

"If it's a scam, it won't be any trouble," 'Yugi' added, his partner fixing him with a disbelieving expression as the others stared.

"What are you going to do," Haga 'asked', "Duel him into submission."

"Better than you."

"WHAT-"

"We'll jus' ask mom if it's alrigh' Shizuka, c'monnnnnn!"

His sister frowned, and he persisted.

"Please?" he tried. "...Pleasepleaseplease?"

"He's not gonna stop," Ryuzaki added with a yawn, his friend merely crossing her arms with a frown.

"Mmmmmm..."

"C'mon what do I have t' do t' get yah to agree!?"

"Well you're certainly going to need another two people regardless!" Haga scoffed from the side, only for his sister to turn to him with a torn expression.

"A-Aah... B-B-But it's free, and h-he said we could come..."

'Yugi' blinked. "Did we say that?" he asked quietly, his other half merely looking to him with a frozen stare.

"Other me, we're talking later."

"Ah-"

The fact that the two switched in that moment likely told a few of the others that something was going on between them, but it was with perhaps a little more relief than typical that Katsuya was able to confidently tell himself that Haga wouldn't be asking why Yugi suddenly seemed to have neater hair than typical.

Though in hindsight it was entirely likely that Haga just didn't want to see the bizarre shift in attitude that was typically reserved for duel tournaments as anything but a two-faced facade.


It wasn't a scam in the end.

Perhaps that had been his mother's assumption nonetheless; after finally relenting in giving Shizuka permission to go herself, and making sure she was getting a call every day they were there, it seemed somehow that she didn't expect it to be real.

Yet it was, and so there they were on the plane.

It was a small plane; nice enough, but small, and private. Probably associated with whatever made the prize in the end, that was the theory at least. There had been a bit of argument before they left; not a very audible one mind, given that it had been between Yugi and his other, evidently still curious self, on the topic of 'how far can we drift before snapping'. Any questioning from Haga (not to mention his horribly confused sister) was cut short by the pilot's own arrival- they were loaded onto the plane, luggage included, and after a short briefing on the safety exit and life vests they were off and in the air.

And slowly, conversation arose.

"Keichi's great aunt is in India right now too isn't she?" Shizuka asked idly as they flew, Haga looking out the window with a sour frown as his sister turned to nervously join the conversation.

"Ah- she is?" she asked quietly. "D-Do you think we'll s-s-ee her?"

Ryuzaki snorted, Yugi and Katsuya briefly looking from their short duel to listen in. "Tamae-ba? Hah! Not likely," he laughed. "She's supposed to be off looking at some ruins with a collegue; something about fossils being where they shouldn't," he added.

"Where they sh-shouldn't?"

To their surprise it was Haga who continued the conversation, as opposed to the others. "What is it, an ancient museum?" he asked somewhat sarcastically.

Shizuka shrugged. "It's happened before," she noted. "They found a palace full of artifacts from all sorts of different eras didn't they?"

Another shrug. "Eh, whatever it is, not what we're dealing with," Ryuzaki decided, turning as a loud sigh came from Yugi's spot.

"Hmmm... At least you know roughly where she is," he lamented. "Grandpa didn't even tell me where he was going."

"Your grandpa?"

A nod from the two of them, and as the duel had come to its end they packed their decks back into the holsters on their sides. "Grandpa used to do a lot of traveling when I was little," Yugi explained calmly, "And even more before I was born. My mom said that he was a bit of a game hunter actually," he laughed, rubbing his head uneasily. There seemed to be a twitch of recognition from the Haga twins in the back, but both remained silent with a mix of dislike and unease holding their mouths shut. In the end, lest things become too awkward between the group, Shizuka decided to change the subject.

"Ahh... Sen-chan?" she asked curiously. "I was wondering- if Katsugi-kun came from Tokyo, why did the ticket on your bag say Kyoto?"

"Ah-Ah... Y-Yes well," she started, her brother merely turning back to the window, "A friend of my o-oldest sister asked... I- I was supposed to look after a h-h-house there until she was done in the u-u US... A-Apparently another friend of theirs is ou-out of the country..."

"Oh?" Shizuka commented, those already aware of the story more or less drowning it out. "A friend in the states... Well, I suppose it worked out at least!" she decided with a smile.

"Y-Yes!" The girl beamed. "I've e-even got a place in a s-school there!" she added, her brother jumping somewhat in response. Though Sen didn't question the reaction, she did briefly turn to him curiously, only for her brother to resume his stare through the window. It was harder to pull his haughty defense when among 'friends', or so it seemed to Katsuya. Whatever connection he had to Shizuka and Ryuzaki was certainly different than whatever he was used to, or so it seemed- it was probably to be expected, but Haga's current friendship with the two was probably the first friendship he'd ever had.

If at least for a long while.

Dueling was a good way to pass the time while they traveled over the sea, but in the end they were soon flying over Asian land once again. "Ahh, nihan!" Shizuka shouted once they were, "Come see! It's so different from Japan!"

"Eh? Is it?" he asked without thinking, Yugi laughing quietly from the side.

"It's a different country so..."

"MN- There's... There's so much green!"

"Ah-" Him too!?

That seemed to be about what Yugi was protesting back to his other half, but to no avail, and soon enough they found themselves subject to the curious spirit's questioning of how different other countries were. "I thought China was supposed to be full of people and cities!"

"Yea but China's a heck 'f a lot bigger th'n Japan," Katsuya answered with a slight yawn, leaning back in his seat. "They've got fields, an' farms, an'-"

"Nihan, so does Japan."

"Well yea, but not tha' much-"

"Who are you even talking to!?" came a sudden snapping shout, Katsuya fumbling in shock from his seat while the others turned.

Haga's annoyance was more than clear, and while his sister ducked under the shout to cringe, he paid it no mind. "That's right, not everyone here-"

"Other me," Yugi warned quietly, Ryuzaki letting out a long breath as he slowly looked away. "Stop."

This failed to help the situation much, and Haga merely continued to glower. "Are you just crazy?" he snapped. "Is this some kind of joke!?"

"O-Otouto-"

"Because I'm sick of it!" he snarled. "Maybe I can put up a face," the boy went on lowly, "But at least I'm not stupid enough to just play nice right after I drop it!"

"Oi!" Katsuya growled in response, standing from his seat. "If you think Yugi an' th' Other Yugi are some kinda game, then I got one hell 'f a less'n for yah," he warned, Haga briefly flinching before holding his ground.

"Nihan!" Shizuka shouted in protest, Yugi as well standing to come between the boys.

"Jonouchi-kun!" he started, "It's not like it's the first thing-"

"Not the first-" Haga faltered, shaking his head. "What are you TALKING ABOUT!?"

"Yugi's got an ancient gold artifact with a dead king stuck in it and they've been switching bodies since probably before Duelist Kingdom," came the bored response from the front, those who already knew turning to him with dry frowns as the others gawked. Ryuzaki blinked, looking up from the book he'd taken along with him and shrugging. "What."

"How th' hell did y' manage t' sum it all up like tha'," Katsuya muttered, Ryuzaki raising an eyebrow.

"Wait I got the Duelist Kingdom thing right? Sweet," he muttered to himself, moving to go back to his book as Haga shook himself.

"It's a 'magic puzzle'?" the boy scoffed, shaking his head. "Really? That's what you're going with?!"

Before Katsuya could do more than growl and glare at him again, Ryuzaki's words again came over the air. "Didn't see you complain when we told you Jonouchi got future visions did we?"

Silence fell, with Sen looking uneasily from Katsuya to Yugi, as though they were both from a separate world entirely. Haga's face burned with embarrassment, but he remained silent, and in the meantime the other Yugi took the moment to hover near Katsuya with raised eyebrows. "...He knows you get visions?"

"I kinda had one in th' middle of th' hall on New Years," he admitted grudgingly, his friend staring blankly at the confession.

"On... New years?" Yugi repeated blankly, Haga flashing a rather vicious smirk.

"Oh? He didn't tell you?" he laughed. "Dropped five trays of food and stared blankly at the wall for a full four minutes!" While the others, Katsuya included, merely looked to him with a slight glare, the boy continued. "Of course if it's the future then it's obviously not going to be much!" he sneered. "Seeing how I heard him say-"

"Hold on!" Katsuya roared, turning on the boy as he stiffened. "You w're eavesdroppin!?"

"Ngh-!"

"Katsugi-kun!" Shizuka protested, simultaneously sparing her friend from a potential beating. "That was supposed to be a private conversation, why would you do that!?"

"How abou' because he was bein' a rat!?"

"A rat? Don't compare me to the likes of rodents!" Haga hissed. "And no matter what I am, it's still better than a stupid, idiot dog-"

"DOG!?" Quite suddenly Yugi and the Other Yugi both, the latter finding it quite fortunate that he could even get a grip on his friend's arm, found themselves holding the blond back as he roared. "Y' prick! F'rget a duel, I'm gonna throw you off th' plane!"

"Oh please, as if-"

"TRY ME!"

"Nihan, calm down!"

"You'd actually throw me out of a plane? We're thousands of miles in the air, and you'd risk everyone's lives?"

"I swear to fucking god if y'r alive by th' end of th's plane trip-"

"You're the one who invited me along!" he laughed, the sound reverberating as it was joined by another.

"L-L... Loud," came a quiet, squeaking sound in the seats, cutting Haga's laughter quite abruptly short. "It's t-to-too loud," Sen wept, her voice scarecely more than a whisper. "Ple-pl... Please don't... Please don't fight," she managed to force out, shaking herself as Haga looked back. "Please. D-Don't..."

"S-Sen..."

While Haga looked back, Katsuya relaxed, his friends releasing their grip while the other two on the plane watched. "Tch." The blond glowered, before moving toward the back of the plane where the restroom was. "Y' should be glad we're in a plane," he snarled, "'F it was anyone else, y' pro'ly wouldn' even be here!"

He vanished into the restroom and in the silence that settled Haga looked back to those on the plane, mixed expressions being his response. A cool frown from Yugi that seemed mixed with a disappointment that put a spark of anger in his chest, enough that he prepared to snap a defensive remark against the one who was now returning to his seat. Ryuzaki had no expression- he was already reading again, albeit likely muttering incredulous curses under his breath. And as for Shizuka-

She looked to him with a somewhat betrayed expression, and it was this which doused the flame and froze it solid. In silence, he went back to his seat beside Sen, staring out through the window as China's fields and settlements passed beneath them. He would not speak for the next number of hours.

Perhaps that was for the best.


When he returned to his seat he did not even spare Haga a glance, instead taking one of the few empty rows and looking out through the windows himself. They were still flying over China at the time- the plane trip was to be over eight hours in the end, and that was hardly something that could be called 'quick'. Laying back in his seat, the plane was still eerily silent, the Other Yugi back inside the puzzle somewhere, and the others either busying themselves with quieter hobbies, or, in the case of Yugi himself, and the girls as well, merely sleeping.

That wasn't a bad idea in the end, he figured. It was night (or at least seemed to be), and he was tired; whether the earlier argument was the cause of that, who knew. Regardless, he was tired, and sleep was more than welcome to him.

Perhaps he should have known to suspect that welcome feeling.

It was a repeat dream, in a sense. Back in the tunnels beneath the village 'he' called home, the village locked away behind stone cliffs the size of mountains, rocks with dragons hide that was worn by the sands and winds of time, steps carved and guarded by tall walls and vicious watchers above.

For there was none who wished for the village to lose what safety it bore.

None.

In the doorway of the home he stood, speaking to a woman with greying hair and greyer eyes. "What do you want?" she demanded, the goat herd before her folding his arms behind his back. "You've had your year with my son," she continued. "Do you not know now if he will live or not?"

He merely bowed his head. "I have not come to bargain this time," he said quietly, and before him the woman snarled.

"And why should we?" she spat. "It is bad enough that you come here- but this?! Not a day after you left we suffered a raid," the woman growled.

"I know."

"Do you then!? And do you know who died?"

"There were none who died in the raid," he answered confusedly.

"No," the woman laughed bitterly. "Not that you should have known anyway! This isn't normal," she warned, "This is a curse! And you've spread it to this village with your feet! Or did you not realize," the woman snapped, "That there is one less child playing near the well?!"

He did not speak, merely looking to her in silence.

"How many more must die?" she wept, shaking her head as she broke down. "How many more must die!? TELL ME!"

Was he crying? His face felt wet but he could not tell but as he looked to the woman he shook his head, breath ragged as he moved to speak. "Everyone," he answered, and it was then that shouts began to enter the air. It was then that the watchers above the rocks were shot down by unknown forces formerly locked away from mortal hands, as an army of King's Soldiers swarmed the streets in droves far unlike the pathetically small parties which would occasionally attempt to bring 'justice' to the village's sacred grounds.

These were his last words to her as he was snatched from behind, forced into a line as the woman screamed in terror. They were his last words as he heard the men behind him shout to gather 'only those with unnatural hair and eyes!'

'Kill the rest.'

The blood stained the ground and their clothes both, without argument he was led down to be remet with a vision he'd already seen (oh but had he?), had already experienced (Now now, he couldn't have possibly), had already-

(He couldn't have possibly died twice after all.)

"GH... Lk..."

The blade tore through his middle (this already happened though), and it was pulled out just as quick.

"HhhaaaaAHHH-"

His insides were severed and bleeding and the blood was staining his already filthy tunic and the ground below- he stumbled back, and he tumbled into the fresh dug pit beneath him, as screams above met his ears and as visions of more victims-

But wait.

His eyes flashed and instead of the people of the village who had been singled out for slaughter he now saw fire. Fire blazing and water twisted, metal screaming and crunching beneath the force of the merciless earth. Engines cutting short, a man skinned and impaled by glass-

"MN-gH!"

Katsuya jolted awake and in his panic immediately grabbed for the life preserver beneath his seat. "Mn- Nihan?" came a groggy voice from the side, the blond's panic slowly rousing the others.

"Get up!" he shouted seemingly without reason, hurriedly throwing the vest over himself as he ran to get Yugi awake. "C'mon get up, grab a vest, go!"

"Ngh-" As Yugi blearily opened his eyes the others followed, staring confusedly. "What-"

"Jus' get a vest an' get f'r th' door!" he shouted, grabbing one of the others and roughly forcing it on his friend's being as the boy was jolted awake by the force. The others seemed to only slowly move and he continued to grow pale, running to grab his sister. "Don' jus' stand there, c'mon! We're gonna-"

Sirens blared and without warning water splashed up against the sides of the plane, knocking him from his feet and down the hall. The screeching sound of metal and screams again filled his mind as stars filled his vision, and in the crushing force of steel, and earth, the stagnant and sickening taste of bloodied water came into his being, the darkened slate of the lake blinding his eyes.

They blinded his eyes and filled his lungs, and for an instant he watched the others experience the same, all but one-

And for an instant in his dazed confusion he thought for sure he was mistaken, as glittering gold and glass met with his gaze before reaching to pull him toward the door of the plane and away from the roof his life vest carried him up against, and as a pale hand wrapped around his wrist.

For an instant that was what he saw.

And in an instant more, there was naught but darkness. Darkness, sinking steel, spiraling waters and the burning need for air, air, AIR his lungs screamed but his dazed mind could not move his body and so it was only the weak pull of a younger boy and the floating nature of the vest which did so for him.

His mind did not clear when he broke the water, even as he gasped for air and choked on what water and blood had entered his throat. It did not clear as he was dragged onto shore, and as the others gathered, huddled and cold and wondering what had occurred.

When it did however- when his vision finally ceased to blur and spin, he was met with fire once again. Fire warm and bright and alluring, his sister laying with Ryuzaki not far from the side, and Yugi- both spiritual and not- sitting with him.

"Ah- You're up!" Yugi whispered in relief, his other half visibly relaxing in the same way.

Katsuya merely groaned, holding his head as he sat up. "Ugh... Y-Yea... We all get out?" he added, both Ryuzaki and Shizuka turning their heads from where they were as the Other Yugi shook his head.

"All but the pilot," he stated curtly, though his tone gave away his distaste. "...Dead on impact," he added, having likely floated down through the water itself to check.

The blond nodded, looking to the fire a bit. "...Well at leas' we all got out," he murmured, only to frown. "Wai'..." His last memory was of being slammed back by the force of gravity, of metal clashing against his skull and knocking him into a half-witted daze. So then- "How did I-"

"Haga," Yugi responded, voice quiet as they looked across the fire pit that had been made, to where the boy was holding his sister close. "I hit my head on the plane," he admitted, "So while the others got out, Ryuzaki helped me get through the door. But I didn't see Jonouchi-kun," he went on, swallowing. "Not until Haga went back..."

The silence that followed was almost stiffening. Stiffening, and all at once chilled in a strange sense. Rather than break the silence however, he found himself slowly leaning back against the chair he'd been propped against, looking away. There were a few things he could foresee, and a few things he could come to expect.

To have been rescued by Haga, when only 6 hours ago he had threatened to end his very life, was very far from one of those things. And as the fire burned, small portions of their luggage recovered from the wreckage, they one by one fell into an uncomfortable sleep...

Never once realizing, as they drifted to the comfort of their minds, that they were not as alone as they thought.


AN: I'm alive! I'm alive I swear to god I'm alive-!

Just got stuck on a scene here and wound up dragging my way through school and other stories- (OTHER STORIES? USAGI...)

Oh, I was made the head mod of a Dreamwidth game too, fun stuff.

At any rate, you've probably guessed by now that there's no real set schedule on updating, but just a reminder: I will never, EVER, put this on Hiatus, Discontinue it, or simply Delete it. NEVER.

So you know.

I wonder how many of you are screeching and screaming now that you know for sure what this arc is, HMMMM... I guarantee you'll enjoy what twists I've pulled with this (particularly given how long it took to make the plot even remotely tolerable...), so sit back and enjoy the ride!

I'll be trying to update a bit faster at least ahhaha...

Speaking of updates and fanfiction however! How many of you like 5Ds (or zexal)? And... How many of you have a tumblr?

You can find my account on the latter with the same username as usual; 'usagisquared'. You'll also find all the ficlets and aus I've been typing at in the downtime there, and while not as super-long as Skin by far, it's certainly worth looking at!

Also worthy of mention, is the contest!

During the coming Doma Arc, it's been decided that the main cast will need to travel from San Francisco to some unknown destination on the East Coast, preferably one within close range of a Navy Base. Or at least docks with navy boats on 'm. You'll find out why in the end. I'll be gathering entries with the next update, but right now I have to dig through to find a fair number of them...

Speaking of digging!

Anonymous Review Responses

Hello, Fsdfsdfsd! Alas, I can't help but feel anxious about things like purges and such... So I always end up taking a paranoid precaution ahahaha!

Maggiemay! It's good to see you again! I'm so glad you enjoy the fillers- they're really quite a joy to type once they get going (if not a bit of a point for paranoia before it's posted). At any rate, I've got your entry for a potential route, and eheheheh yesssss Disney... KaibaLand US certainly WOULD fit in around there wouldn't it?

Oh, another new one- Pleased to meet you Somebody! I'm so glad you enjoyed the fanfic thus far, and I hope you enjoyed this chapter as well despite the delay- thanks so much for reviewing as quick as you did! (Given the rush for the phone I mean, ahahah)

And just following that, Guest! WAIT YOU RE-READ-

someone make a trophy for this anon, ah-

I hope you enjoyed this chapter! And aaaaah I'm so glad you enjoy the art! (Perhaps I should find a way to incorporate it more into my class work...)


Usagi's Manga & Japan Guide/Corner

The section that's not entirely sure why her plane suddenly lacks a pilot. UH.


Thicker Than Water! What a wonderful title, but what does it have to do with-

Oh.


How odd, what was Anzu going to say...

You'll have to wait until the vacation's over I suppose ehehehe. Or at least until she shows up again.


Side note, recently I looked into a rough timeline of DM-GX-5Ds. Dangerous, I know.

However using Ushio's rough age (45 is about what I'd say), and the fact that if you look at certain adverts in the 5Ds series, the number '2021' can be seen (YEA IT'S NOT THAT FAR), we can do this!

Zero Reverse in the series happens 17 years prior episode one, making Ushio about 27-28. Now recall that GX is ten years after DM; in otherwords, about when Ushio himself should be perhaps in grade 11-12. Assuming he's roughly 16-17 during that series, we can actually say that GX ends within the very year Zero Reverse occurs.

In other words, Juudai leaves, Domino goes boom. YAY.

Regardless. Assuming the adverts are right, going back 17 years from there would take us to 2004. Not bad, seeing how I'm pretty sure GX was supposed to take part in the early 2000s.

Even better? Going back 13 years from 2004 (Because GX takes place over 3 years, the standard for highschool in Japan), we're at 1991! Yu-Gi-Oh DM was first published in 1995, so that's not actually an unbelievable date!

Back on topic, think about where technology sat in the early 1990s. Now look at everything the series gave us. WOW.

The only issue with this theory is that according to GX itself, Juudai enrolled in 2004. With that in mind, it would boost DM's date up to, go figure... 1995. So at least those guys were accurate. In hindsight, it's entirely likely the adverts for '2021' seen in 5Ds were referring to some sort of engine thing. Who knows! Regardless; we're not that far off on 5Ds even with this knowledge. If we kept on going with the theory that Zero Reverse happens soon after Juudai leaves, we can safely say that Yuusei takes off for Neo Domino in 2024. ...Twenty... More years... After the last series.

Either way- makes for an interesting contrast to Skin, which is currently actually in the year 2013.


There are actually really great reasons why these two are experimenting with distance (potentially involving battles with giant snakes), but until then enjoy Yugi with a headache.


Sen returns! Get used to her face, she's going to be all over this arc you guys. As for her decision to get an autograph, it wasn't on screen, but she actually assumed that Haga would want a top duelist autograph!

Haga's probably going to sell it when he gets home.


HAGA MEET YAMI YUGI. YAMI YUGI MEET HAGA.

PLAY NICE. This coversation took AGES to write; it's actually what held up the chapter for so long! In the end it came however, and we're all good now...

Poor Sen.


The Other Yugi doesn't know about India?! Usagi what are you doing!?

Guys.

Think back to the time our dear Pharaonic spirit is from. Think back to how much of the world outside the capital he likely saw (And recall that this is about 5000 years ago). And more importantly, realize this: the main reason India is the focus of Capmon, most likely, is because of Alexander the Great's failure there. He invaded in 326BC, and was eventually forced to turn back at the demand of his troops; soon after he died in Babylon and the empire fell apart, but regardless! The point is, the LEAST number of years following Atem's reign that this could possibly take place, is 700; because 3000 years from now brings us to around 1000BCE. (And it's here that I remind you I always say '3000 BCE in approximation' in the fanfic, which is, fun fact... 5000 years ago! Dub got it right for once.)

So yea enjoy that bit of headcanon.


Who is that friend of Haga's eldest sister? Who knows! As for the third friend? Well that's up to you to figure out isn't it.


On a more serious note, hello Haga, take a step into your character development box shall we?

I just had so much fun with his defensive attitude toward Yugi, ridiculous as it was. And when you look at it, it shows a strange bit of improvement too; it's really, really not easy for Haga to trust anyone, let alone openly admit something like a bond. The fact that he's 'claimed' Shizuka and Ryuzaki both as his friends is actually rather astounding. And of course most wouldn't give it much thought in that way, because most wouldn't... Have that issue with friends, one would think.

But Haga does, and likely always has, and overall there's going to be lots of Haga development in this arc.


Speaking of Haga! It was fairly interesting getting everyone on the same boat here; it was already likely obvious that the 'Osaka three' (Shizuka, Ryuzaki, Haga) knew something about Jou's mind-thing. Shizuka would likely be the only one to get the entire thing though, and lets face it, it was jarring. He literally experienced death in that vision. Maybe he'd have kept quiet if no one saw him in the hall, but even so. He'd be questioned, and likely stick to telling only his sister.

Meanwhile of course, does Haga know of the puzzle? Hell no he doesn't. But you can bet that Ryuzaki has, since possibly the first duel on the Airship. So yea, fun with secrets and the lack thereof.

Enjoy Ryuzaki and his lines of snark.


Oh yea have I mentioned that 'Four' is the number of death in Japan due to the whole 'Shi' (four) and 'Shi(-ne)' (Die) thing?

FOUR MINUTES. Hahahaha yes.


Oh hello trust issues. Jou's already having a bit of an issue trusting Haga- key words, he doesn't. But he trusts his sister, and he actually does, for fanfic-obvious reasons, trust Ryuzaki. So he actually did not think that Haga would have been listening. He just didn't. So it's one hell of a blow for that to come out (hence the rage), and for the others? Well, just see how Haga reacts. These are his first friends after all.

He doesn't want to lose those.


Where the fuck is the pilot in all this!?

He actually can't hear them. On another note, one would wonder how the ticket got to them regardless... But hey, answers for later.


Oh look drowning.

Oh look HAGA?! What's Haga doing, saving the day? (Also how did he pull JONOUCHI out?)

Well, think of it this way. Once upon a time, your friendly author Usagi qualified as a lifeguard (this has expired though, so I can now go to pools without fear). Lifting someone UP in the water is hell. I can say that without issue after the brick tests. Technically, pushing and pulling is the same, however if you have enough momentum behind you, it's not AS difficult. That's where Haga has the advantage; he could have been kicking off plane seats as he went. Hard, but it works.

And then of course he has the advantage of the lifevest and it's immediate pull upward, hahaha.


Oh and Jou bit his tongue, if you were wondering why there was blood in his mouth. No internal bleeding here!

Hey look, more relevance to the title... OR IS IT?

Alas, I'm too much of a jerk to say just yet...


Fan Art and My Art Section

Sadly I didn't get to actually make much art for Skin this time, partially because the artistic drive was spent on either classes or other writings...

Or on me crying over my inability to write the scene I was stuck on in this chapter HAHAHHAAaaaaaa.

At any rate, to keep the jar from being completely empty, I've linked to you the (occasionally used) art tag on my tumblr.

Sadly I have a bad habit of not tagging things...

Oh well!

Side note, but the very start of the url has been giving me issues for sticking on in spaces here, so sorry about that! The page should load without it though. It's been giving issues with lots of things to be honest; hence the brackets and words and such.

Usagi's Art Tag Which Doesn't Actually Have All Her Art (sorry) – usagisquared. (tumblr) . com (slash) tagged / Usagi's %20Adventures %20in %20Art


Musical Notes

None this time around! ...Mostly.

While hardly integral to the chapter's typing, I absolutely must recommend you visit this page here: terriblefate . com

Very good music, and VERY FREE!


Until then, that was this chapter! I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you continue to enjoy what's yet to come!