Greetings Readers! Here is the beginning of my new series of character one-shots. These are centered around the aftermath of the Oreikalkos duel that took away Yugi's soul.

This chapter is more of a set-up than anything else, the next chapter will start with the actual character perspectives. I hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh, or any of its characters. Unfortunately.

Yugi lost.

The two words, although deceptively short, packed more pain and confusion than any of the friends could have possibly imagined. They played over and over in the heads of the three boys in the car and the boy on the horse like some broken record as they returned from the site of the duel to where the others were waiting at the mobile home. None of them spoke, completely absorbed in those two words that resounded within their minds, quiet but able to drown out every other thought.

Yugi lost.

That concept made the entire situation that much more surreal – Yugi never lost. He had lost the duel with Pegasus which had led to his grandfather's soul being captured, but Pegasus had used an underhanded trick to grab the victory that would have been Yugi's. He had lost the duel with Kaiba in Duelist Kingdom, but only when he refused to attack when doing so could have killed Kaiba. He had lost the duel when he'd dueled Joey when he'd been mind-controlled by Marik, but he had done so to save Joey's life. There had always been some unfair advantage that had tipped the scales in his opponent's favor. But not this time. This time there was no other person to blame, and it was by his own mistakes that he'd lost.

Yugi lost.

None of the boys bothered to push the thoughts away, since they poisoned all other possible thoughts. Or maybe the thought was allowed to overwhelm the boys because it delayed the realization of what had really happened.

They had lost Yugi.

Minds that had been able to embrace the concepts of mind control, magical items, and the manifestation of the spirits of ancient Egyptians were unable to fathom that Yugi was gone. It was beyond comprehension and it left them all numb.

Yugi was gone.

The absence of the quiet, friendly, forgiving young man they all knew and valued as a friend was foreign to them and felt as though the beating heart of their group had been ripped out of its chest. They had forever valued his presence, but it wasn't until he was gone that they realized his importance to the group. His optimism, his cleverness, his unassuming leadership skills, his instinct that had proved unerringly right time and time again – they couldn't imagine going on without Yugi. His loss made their job a lot harder than it had been before.

The boys in the car focused on the pain of the separation and the anger at the people who had taken Yugi away, feeling the absence of the heart like it was still torn away – the pain pounding in a feeble attempt to mimic the restorative beating of the heart. But the boy on the horse looked completely empty; where the others felt the pain when the heart was ripped away, he seemed to be enduring what was present when the heart was absent – nothing. He looked hollow, his normally proud eyes dull, his face looking drawn and worn – the normal stridency and firmness of his countenance completely washed away in the numbness.

They were so wrapped up in their own shock that they forgot about breaking the news to the others until the mobile home was in sight; and then their hearts sank as the two girls rose up with joy in their faces, knowing the joy would be fleeting.

It was too hard to break that joy with the truth, but it had to be done. Looking around at the shaded face of the Pharaoh and the hidden faces of Tristan and Duke, Joey took a deep breath before taking the job into his own hands.

"We got a problem, guys."

A/N: And that's the beginning. Starting next chapter, I begin with the character perspectives. I hope you enjoyed the beginning.

Thanks for reading and please review! You can also vote for which perspective you'd care to see first, if you like.

Thanks again!