"Woah, Anzu! Do you see that look?" Miho whispered excitedly. "Talk about scorching...!"

Anzu looked up distractedly from the latest copy of her monthly doujinshi, which had just come in the mail that very morning – a nice little Christmas present hiding handily inside the cover of her notebook so that none of the other students had the slightest clue of what she was really studying. "Huh? Who are you...?"

Miho only hooked an inconspicuous thumb over towards the edge of the cafeteria by the west hall. Curious blue eyes glanced discreetly in the direction that her friend had just indicated only to see Atemu lounging indolently against the wall, his intense ruby gaze directed somewhere behind and just to the right of their little group, a possessive gleam evident in his eyes.

Swiveling around to see just what had caught the elegant game king's attention she spied Yugi's smaller form approaching from the other side of the cafeteria, still bundled up in his winter gear from his late start that morning, completely oblivious to the smoldering gaze that was being aimed at him as he rifled distractedly through his papers. Anzu frowned at the implications of that heated gaze, her eyes darting between the two look-alikes without turning her head.

Could it possibly be...?

Speaking of Yugi, he'd been awfully quiet over the past couple of months, and she had caught him staring off into space more than once, a soft blush staining his features. Her astonished gaze shot back over to its original target. Atemu. The former Pharaoh was always within sight when Yugi spaced out. Always. Anzu gave a mental pout as she realized that while she had been so caught up in her crush on the two of them she had missed out on what might possibly be developing between them. And she glanced between the two of them again, the gears turning in her head.

Could it possibly be...?

" – wonder who that's directed at?" Miho rambled persistently, tugging on the brunette's sleeve. "He's so gorgeous! What I wouldn't give for him to throw a look like that my way! I mean, seriously, who wouldn't die for a chance with him. He's got looks, money, style...He's probably really good in...Hey, you're friends with him, why don't you – "

Anzu only shook her head, tuning out Miho's incessant chatter. She already knew that Atemu would have nothing to do with her friend. Not that Miho was a bad person, she just liked to talk. A lot. As in on and on and on. With a roll of her eyes, the bemused brunette gave another glance between her two friends. There was a whole lot more to that sizzling look than just the bond between instructor and protégé, she'd bet money on it. How long had this been going on? And why hadn't she noticed it before?

" – Oh my god, he's coming this way!" Miho began to fidget, drawing Anzu's thoughts away from her two friends as the sleeve of her shirt was nearly ripped from her arm. She shot the blonde an exasperated look.

Leave it to Miho to be such a drama queen. Yes, Atemu was gorgeous with his slanted scarlet eyes and his chiseled, angular features, but Yugi was just as beautiful, his soft features and stunning smile able to light up any room, and yet due to his quiet nature no one ever seemed to notice him. Come to think of it, though, Yugi had been looking more and more like his darker half lately. Anzu gave a wistful sigh. Somehow her petite, gentle friend was managing to grow up without her noticing.

But before Anzu was able to muse over these new developments any further Miho gave another sharp tug on her sleeve, a little too excited over Atemu's presence for Anzu's piece of mind. Giving a pointed look at Miho's over-exuberance, she patted the blonde on her arm, trying to calm her before she embarrassed herself any more than she already had.

"Hey Anzu, Miho." Yugi's unexpected voice from just over her shoulder caused the brunette to spin around and nearly lose her balance due to Miho's demanding grip on her shirt.

"Oh, hey Yugi." Anzu replied casually, righting herself as she shot another discreet glance over at Atemu, only to find that he had managed to mask the obviousness of his emotions in the short time it had taken her smaller friend to reach their little group. Another tug on her sleeve attempted to draw her attention but she determinedly ignored it to smile at her closest friend. "How's it going with you?"

Yugi opened his mouth to answer –

" – Anzu, Yugi..ah...?" Atemu acknowledged them with a regal nod as he stepped into the midst of the quickly growing circle, closely followed by Malik and Ryou who came from somewhere in the crowd. Miho gave a shrill giggle and the former Pharaoh raised a questioning brow at her behavior. Shortly afterward Malik and Ryou began to nudge each other, snickering quietly and making moon eyes at former Pharaoh behind his back.

"Atemu, Miho, one of my friends from junior high that just moved back into town, Miho, Atemu, Grandfather Sugoroku adopted him during our trip to Egypt this past summer." Anzu said as quickly as she could, cringing as she waited for the fallout.

"Ah, nice to meet you, Miho." Atemu gave another nod in greeting before turning to address his smaller copy with a smile, resulting in an adorable blush from Yugi.

Miho only gave a giggle, fluttering her lashes coyly. "Nice to meet you too, Atemu. You have a beautiful name – "

As Miho continued to spout off about any topic she could think of, out of the corner of her eye Anzu caught sight of Malik and Ryou's blatantly obvious attempts to mimic her actions. She simply closed her eyes, wishing for the floor to swallow her up. As much as she loved her friend from the lower grades she found herself wishing that Miho had not transferred back to Domino this past week. The girl was going to make a fool of herself.

And with those two around – or Malik at least – there was little chance that Miho's unrequited crush would not make the gossip rounds within the day. Atemu turned, nearly catching the two in their play, to give them an inquisitive look, only to have Ryou and Malik smile back innocently.

"Hey...Other, uh Atemu...Ryou, Malik." Yugi replied after Miho finally took a breath, turning his attention back to Anzu to whisper conspiratorially. "To answer your earlier question; it's going okay, had a stupid pop quiz in math, so watch out. The smell of 'mouthwash' is overpowering again...I think Mr. Bender's on a – " He snickered quietly. "bender."

With a roll of her eyes, Anzu reached out and pulled the maneuver that she most often used on Jounouchi – she smacked Yugi gently upside the back of his head, smiling as she did so. "Hahaha, I get it. Very funny, wise ass. You think he's drunk again?"

"Hey!" He pouted, smoothing his hair back into its normal spikes as he ducked his head. "That wasn't fair. But yeah...he's acting all weird and stuff. That was so not called for, Anzu."

"Neither was your early morning humor, Aibou." Atemu laughed, coming to stand before Yugi only to tweak his nose. The smaller of the two waved him off, notebook poised to come crashing down on his head should he entertain the idea of doing so again. "Some of us are not awake enough to understand the significance of your wit at this hour. And leave your instructor alone...if he has been drinking its only because you all drove him to it." He grinned.

"Oh whatever!" Yugi protested, to which Atemu answered by poking him in the ribs. This started a small scuffle that everyone in the group laughed at as Yugi found himself locked up in his other half's tight embrace. "Okay! I give!" He shouted laughingly.

"As well you should, Aibou. You know better than to go up against me in a game of wits." Atemu prodded the smaller teen one last time before letting go.

Once the two of them settled down Yugi bumped his taller look-alike with his hip, causing Atemu to reach for the boy's waist in order to keep his balance. "You've never been a morning person, Oth...Atemu. But just cause you're not doesn't mean that none of the rest of us are."

"Speak for yourself Yugi." Malik chimed in with a wide yawn, Ryou only shaking his head.

Anzu watched the exchange silently, ignoring Miho's giggles at their display, noting how close the duo's behavior came to actual flirting. With a quiet sigh she came to the realization that she needed to get her head out of all the shonen-ai stories that she carried around with her for light reading. There couldn't be anything going on between her friends...could there? She took another surreptitious glance as Yugi and Atemu moved on to another topic, this time including Miho and the others in their discussion.

The two of them were close...no, they were closer than close. They shared everything – notes, lunches, clothing, she thought they might even share a room, honestly she wouldn't be surprised if they actually shared a bed, they were literally that close. It wouldn't be that far of a stretch to think that...Anzu closed her eyes. I'm so reading too much into this...

" – so what do you think, Anzu?" Yugi queried, pulling her quickly out of her thoughts.

"Huh?" Anzu had the grace to blush at being caught off guard. "About what, Yugi?"

"About throwing a Christmas party over at the game shop." Yugi gave her a concerned look. "Are you okay?"

She blinked. "I think that sounds like an awesome idea." And waved off his concern. "I'm fine...I just remembered that I have a test this afternoon. I had forgotten about it. But that sounds great, do you need me to bring anything?"

"Nah, Oth...Atemu and I got it covered." He replied breezily, giving her an impish grin. "You guys just need to show up and have some fun. It'll do us all some good to relax and unwind."

"And have a couple of drinks." Malik grinned, earning a blank look from Ryou and a disapproving frown from Atemu and Miho. "Aw come on! A guy's got to have fun sometime!"

"If you say so." Atemu replied. Just then the bell rang, startling everyone in the group. The former spirit glanced over at Yugi. "Are you ready for chemistry, Aibou? I seem to recall you not having done your homework from yesterday."

"Oh shi-shoot! I forgot!" Yugi slapped a hand over his face. "I gotta go guys, I'll see ya!"

With that he turned and fled down the hall, leaving his darker half to stare after him – and Anzu to watch Atemu's expression. It was just that quick, that if she hadn't been watching so closely she would have thought that she had read too much into their actions, but there it was again, that look of complete longing, of infatuation. Atemu was crushing on Yugi, that was a fact. But how did Yugi feel about the former spirit? Was she right in her thinking? Now that was the question.

"Damn...I really don't want to deal with algebra right now." Malik muttered sullenly. But yet he gave a halfhearted wave and sauntered off down another hallway, grumbling to himself.

"Dork." Ryou rolled his eyes as he glanced around, pulling his backpack up further on his shoulder before taking a step out of the group. "Yeah...well, have fun all, I'll see you after school."

"I have to go as well." Atemu nodded in Anzu's direction, having completely masked his feelings once again.

She grinned at him, already seeing through his act. Oh the fun she could have with this situation. "See you guys!"

"Bye Atemu." Miho waved excitedly. Once he was gone she turned to Anzu. "Oh, isn't he just the sweetest! I swear I'm in love...I've got to have him! And you've got to help me, Anzu...Uh...Anzu? Anzu?"

But Anzu had other things on her mind as she waved distractedly at her friend, leaving the hall for her own class. Atemu and Yugi. Yugi and Atemu. Both so beautiful...She'd had a crush on both of them for the longest time, never daring to ask after either of them, not only for the sake of their friendship but for the fact that she couldn't have chosen one over the other if her life depended on it.

They were like a package deal; if one was around then the other wasn't far behind. Even during the time Atemu was trying to adjust to his new life it was still that way. They were literally a twin fantasy come true. And she did so love her twin fantasies. Her newest doujinshi attested greatly to this fact, featuring all her twin-esque anime crushes in one large volume.

Anzu's heart skipped a beat when she envisioned her two almost identically attractive friends locked in a loving embrace, desire evident in their eyes, their lips only millimeters apart. Her face colored, and as she slipped in the door to her class she hid her blush behind a curtain of hair, sure that someone, somewhere would be able to read her dirty thoughts. She rushed to her seat and slapped her books down on the desk, busying herself with finding her assignment from the night before, paying no attention to the idle chatter going on around her.

Wow, that was a mental picture. She could have drooled at the vivid image of the two of them together. They would be perfect together. Wonder which one would play submissive? They're both so competitive...She grimaced the instant that erotic thought crossed her mind, and then her head hit the desk with a dull thud. That was enough of that, she groaned, this was getting out of hand and it was only the first day that she even suspected something was up.

Just then the instructor walked in the door, immediately requesting their assignments and she was glad to have something else to occupy her time. She needed to discuss this with someone. Someone who would understand her thinking.

~ o ~ O ~ o ~

The group met up again after the last bell of the day rang, this time without Miho thankfully, as the blonde girl had left only moments ago to catch the bus. And to Anzu's relief she had managed to put her x-rated fantasies behind her so that she could look her friends in the eye when they spoke – a hard feat to be sure, with all of those risqué thoughts swimming around her brain. They said goodbye to Ryou and Malik, just outside the gates of the school grounds, beginning the long, excruciatingly cold walk home while discussing the obscene amount of homework that they had been given, Jounouchi's extended absence and the new substitute in the chemistry lab.

But during the course of their walk home Atemu did something that brought that fantasy back with a vengeance, and her questions right along with it. Most likely the former Pharaoh didn't mean it, he was only doing what he would have done for his smaller partner at any time during their association. But nevertheless it brought that fantasy right back to the forefront of Anzu's mind, and kept it there during the remainder of their walk.

"Oh!" Yugi cried out as the toe of his boot caught in the uneven, ice-filled crack of the sidewalk. He was going down for sure. Visions of skinned palms and knees danced around his brain and he closed his eyes, awaiting impact.

Only to blink uncertainly when the pain wasn't forthcoming. It was then that he noticed a pair of strong arms had encircled his waist and were dragging him back from an unfortunate meeting with the pavement. "Perhaps you ought to watch where you are going, Aibou." Atemu gave a husky laugh once he had the boy safely in his arms, drawing Yugi in against his body as he settled him back on his feet, gathering the backpack off of the cement and handing it back. "It would save you many skinned knees and hands."

Yugi coughed slightly, squirming against his savior as he attempted to right himself. "Uh, thank you, Other Me..." A blush steadily rising over his wide-eyed features.

"It was no problem. You would have done the same for me." Atemu replied as he casually strolled ahead of the two of them, hiding a blush of his own within the confines of his down-filled winter coat.

And Anzu's mind went wild at their adorable reaction toward each other, supplying her with enough images to start her own exclusive doujinshi. There was the answer to her question of earlier. The feeling was mutual. The two of them were acting like a couple of kids crushing on each other. She had to help get them together. She just had to. There was no one in the world better suited to the two of them than each other. And now that she knew of their feelings she wouldn't let anyone come between them, not even Miho.

They approached the game shop where Atemu and Yugi gave a friendly wave before disappearing into the store front, leaving Anzu to walk the last few, freezing paces to her own door not three houses away. She rushed into the house, threw off her coat, and snatched up the phone, wracking her brain for someone to call and share her news with. Someone to plot with over how to get her two friends together.

"Jounouchi!" She exclaimed, dialing the number from memory.

As it rang she recalled the long, bumpy path that had taken their blonde friend from broken-down son of an alcoholic to fiancée of the richest teen in Domino. It had taken those two forever to get together, for their feelings had become somewhat evident well before Atemu had been granted a physical presence by the gods, well before Battle City. In all honesty she probably could have pointed to Duelist Kingdom as the time when the two of them had started to develop feelings for each other. And that was nearly a year ago.

"Yeah...you rang?" A raspy, sleep-filled voice answered.

Oh no! Jou was still recovering. "Oh Jou...I'm sorry, I don't mean to bug you." Anzu replied guiltily. She had forgotten all about his illness in her excitement. "I'll just call you later this week."

"Nah, it's okay." Jou called out before she got the chance to ring off. "'m sick of layin' here doin' nuthin. What's up, Anzu?"

She smiled into the phone. She had to admit it was good to hear his voice. He had been so sick this past week. "Not much, Jou. How are you feeling?"

He sighed heavily into his end of the phone. "Better. Lots better. I'm hopin' to be back at school next week."

"That's good to hear. We miss you." She replied, pacing the floor. "Especially Yugi...he's been so quiet lately. You had us all really worried."

Jou gave a hoarse chuckle, which ended in a wheeze. "Yeah...scared me too. And Seto. He's actually gone and taken the week off just to help me...he won't say it, but I think he's gone soft."

She could hear the outraged exclamation of the blonde's future spouse, and the CEO of Kaiba Corporation over the phone and she gave another laugh. Jounouchi was good for him, obviously, just as he was for Jou. The pair were such a great match for all their arguments and battles of pride. If they could only get over their competitive streak. Or maybe not, it was such an intricate part of their relationship, almost like a peculiar sort of foreplay.

"Well, good for him, Jou." She murmured. "He needs to take a break every once in a while or he'll end up coming down with something worse than what you had. I'm just glad to hear you're feeling better."

"Yeah, yeah...so come on, you gotta have the good gossip, right?" Jou changed the subject. "I'm dyin' over here...bored to death. I'm so sick of bein' sick! So tell me what's goin' on?"

She gave a light giggle at his obvious discomfort over their concern. "Well...I have more of a problem than gossip...and I'm kinda hoping that you can help..."

Jou perked up. "Who's givin' you shit? Or are they givin' Yugi shit?What's up?"

"Oh no, nothing like that...I just..." Anzu cleared her throat, suddenly feeling like she was about to give away a secret that wasn't hers to give, the enormity of what she was about to undertake weighing down upon her. Was this truly something she wanted to do? What if she was wrong? Was she? Instead of coming right out with it she decided to edge around the topic until she could figure out how she wanted to approach the subject. "I was...just kind of concerned about Yugi..."

"What about Yug?" Jou questioned, suddenly concerned. "What's goin' on?"

"No, its nothing bad, Jou...He's just so quiet lately and I think that he's...oh, I don't know, maybe got a crush on someone..." She trailed off, allowing the other to take the bait.

Jou only laughed. "Well hell, Anzu, everyone knows he's got a major crush on Atemu. I can't believe it took you this long to notice. Think about it, the two of 'em are really two halves of one soul...or however Isis said it. How'd ya find this out? He hasn't really been all that open about it."

"Oh...just watching...seeing things I haven't before, you know." She prevaricated, stunned that she wasn't the only one that knew of the duo's hidden feelings for each other. "I didn't know that anyone knew about this. I want to help them, Jou."

"Ah, yeah..." Jou yawned into the phone, making her realize how much of a toll the conversation was taking on him. "You ain't gonna get Yug to admit his feelings for Atemu, not without somethin' from him...and I dunno how he feels about the whole thing. Trust me, I tried."

Anzu blushed, recalling that scorching look from earlier. "Oh I don't know...from what I saw today I'm thinking he feels the same and just isn't going to come out with it until he gets some encouragement from Yugi."

That news got Jou excited as he literally yelled into the phone. "Seriously? You mean to tell me that Atemu's let the mask slip long enough for someone to tell he's not dead and just walkin' around for spite?"

"Jou!" Anzu laughed. "That wasn't nice!"

But it was so true. Atemu rarely ever gave away what he was feeling or thinking. As far as their tight knit little clan was concerned the former Pharaoh could have gone on to the afterlife with little to no regret with as much emotion as he let slip from behind that mask of implacable calm. Their friend was so closed off, in fact, that Malik had once offered to poke him with a sewing needle just to see if he would respond. Bakura had offered to do more than that, but the offers were both graciously declined by Yugi when he found out about their plotting.

"But its true." Jou whined. "Come on, tell me its not."

Anzu giggled lightly. "Okay, okay, you win. He is rather much like those statues you see on the history channel...all up tight and still as stone – "

"Oh please..." Jou snorted. "If you stuck a lump o' coal up his ass you'd get a diamond back in two days!"

At this Anzu had to laugh – loudly. Jounouchi had such a colorful way with words. She could hear Kaiba's voice through the phone as the blue-eyed CEO took exception to the comment. And she laughed even harder when the two of them started bickering good-naturedly at each other. She missed this. She missed this very much. Finally, after a few choice words for his fiancée, Jou came back on the line.

"Ah, Seto says I gotta go...but before I do, I wanna know what'cha planning."

She glanced at the calendar on the wall. "There's three weeks until Christmas – oh, and Yugi's throwing the party this year. But anyways, I want to get them together by that time. Just think on it for me will you? We'll talk more when you're feeling better."

"I can do that." Jou responded, his grin heard down the phone line. "I'll talk at'cha later."

Anzu held the phone tighter, as if she could hug him through the cord. "Yeah. Feel better okay? I'll see you soon."

~ o ~ O ~ o ~

Meanwhile, as Anzu and Jou were talking, Yugi dropped his overstuffed backpack on the floor of his room, kicking aside some of the clean laundry that he had forgotten to put away over the weekend. He heaved a forlorn sigh and wandered over to his bed, flopping down face first on the mattress. Reaching beneath the pillow he pulled out his ipod and stuffed the ear pieces in his ears, switching it on to drown out his thoughts, not that it worked, but it was at least something to try rather than doing nothing.

As Paramore's Crushcrushcrush came on he berated himself mentally for the earlier mishap. Oh god, he was such a klutz! Why did he always have to make such a fool of himself in front of his darker half? It wasn't nearly so bad when they had shared one body, but now, now that Atemu was his own person incidents like that were always happening. And it was all due to his paying more attention to his darkness than to where he was going, so if he looked stupid in front of the other it was his own fault.

But there had been a bright side to the incident. He had gotten to feel the warmth of his other's arms around him, even if only for a brief moment or two. And that had made it almost worth it – almost. But he still came out looking like a fool for doing something as stupid as tripping over a tiny crack in the sidewalk. Would there ever come a day where he didn't come off looking completely incompetent in front of the former spirit? Or was he doomed to always be the butt-end of a joke around his gorgeous darkness?

Yugi's thoughts stuttered to a halt at that question. Before Atemu had first appeared to him as a spirit he had always thought himself straight. But once he had been the recipient of a glance from those stunning ruby eyes – even in ethereal form – he had forgotten all about his crush on Anzu, seeing those eyes in his dreams, hearing that deep, velvet-soft voice in his fantasies. And now that the teen Pharaoh was a physical entity his dreams had evolved into something almost worthy of a steamy pornographic movie.

It was sad really, the erotic cast his nightly dreams had taken on since his other half's appearance. He could well picture that regal face in his mind, the angular jaw, deep-set, exotic scarlet eyes that seemed to see into his very soul every time they glanced his way, thick eyelashes that any girl in his school would give their gucci handbag for. And that body. Yugi could feel his face heating up as he recalled the last time that he had come across his other half wandering the upper floor of the house clad in nothing but a fluffy white towel.

His darkness was all lean, chiseled muscle mass, with curves in all the right places, and long, shapely bronze legs. Briefly he wondered how it was possible that someone only a scant inch or so taller than him was able to have legs that seemed to go on forever, but the thought was lost as he recalled his embarrassing reaction when Atemu, not realizing that he had wandered into the room, bent over in front of him to gather his clothes, nearly losing his towel in the process.

The heat rushed to Yugi's face and he jumped from the bed. He tossed the ipod towards his pillow, bolting from the room in search of a cold shower. He couldn't stand the sensual, arousing images any longer, they were doing things to his body that he'd rather no one found evidence of. He shot down the hallway toward the bathroom only to slam face first into the one person he least wanted to see, toppling them both to the floor.

Oh joy. This was just not his day – again.

"Aibou where – hey!" Atemu landed on the ground, with a thoroughly freaked out Yugi lying on top of him. What was this all about? "Are you alright, Aibou? What's wrong?"

"No-nothing, other...Atemu...just have to pee." Yugi responded, untangling himself from the other's limbs, blushing furiously at this latest blunder. Oh, how he wished the floor would open up and swallow him whole. And then maybe he wouldn't have to worry about his darkness's reaction if he happened to notice his little problem. "Sorry, sorry...I..."

Atemu pulled them both up the rest of the way, taking Yugi's face in his hand and searching his eyes. "Relax little one, you may call me as you wish, you know this. All those outside our group think they're just cute nicknames that we gave to each other." He searched a little more, taking in the whole of the smaller teen's frazzled appearance, and pressed the back of his hand to Yugi's forehead. "Are you certain that you're not coming down with what Jou had? You look awfully flushed, Aibou. Perhaps you should rest for the day. Grandpa can deal with your instructors if need be, for missed homework."

Yugi's heart fluttered at the contact and he jerked back away from Atemu's touch, apologizing once again as he looked for an escape. But the moment he moved Atemu's eyes narrowed and the other seemed to have come to a split second decision about how he was truly feeling. Yugi ducked his head beneath the intensity of his darkness's keen gaze and offered a silent prayer that the regal teen would just let leave him be and go on about his business. However, he knew that with someone as intuitive as Atemu around there was a good chance that was not going to happen.

"You are coming down with something." Atemu decided, leaving Yugi weak-kneed with relief at his erroneous conclusion, only to be caught off guard when he next said. "Or hiding something...or both. Either way, you need to rest, Aibou. You have been working too hard lately."

Yugi edged away from the conversation. "Oh, haha, I uh...just so much on my mind right now, Other Me. I uh...I'm not hiding anything from you guys, honest...I just...I'll be back in a minute..."

And he bolted to the bathroom, slamming the door behind him, but not before hearing his darkness's parting comments on the topic. "Just know that I am here for you should you decide that you wish to talk about whatever it is that bothers you." Atemu called. "And when you are finished I want you back in bed. I'll make dinner tonight, you just rest."

"Sure thing." Yugi called weakly through the closed door as he slid to the carpet, plucking at a few strands in his preoccupation. Well, that didn't exactly go as he wanted it to. Now his other half was going to watch him like a hawk. Which was only going to make him even more nervous. And the more nervous he got the more accident prone he became. Now what was he supposed to do? If this continued the gorgeous former spirit was going to consider him nothing but a burdensome child, an image he desperately tried to rid himself of when the other first came on the scene.

Damn, he needed to do some fast thinking – and talking – to get himself out of this mess.

~ o ~ O ~ o ~

That was...Strange...Atemu shook his head, heading back down the hallway with the papers that he had come up to his room for. He needed Grandfather Mutou's signature in order to get into the advanced physics class that he and Yugi had signed up for earlier in the year.

Yugi had done it the moment that the paperwork had come home, but he had been procrastinating, wondering if he wanted to try his hand at such an overwhelming class. Truthfully the subject fascinated him, seeing as it was his first time learning about such things, and in the end he had come to the decision to take the course right along with his little one, for more than just his own curiosity.

Ever since his separation with Yugi not more than four months ago the former Pharaoh had found himself nearly overwhelmed by all that this new world had to offer. And he had briefly drifted from the group, shutting himself off in order to study this modern age, and the people in it – to gather his thoughts and figure out who he was supposed to be in this life.

It had taken him a couple of weeks to get his bearings, to learn to cope with the changes, and once he did he asked for their forgiveness of his preoccupation, realizing where it was that he truly wanted to be. And the group had welcomed him back into their fold with open arms, never once chiding him for his need for space. But in that time something had changed between him and his lighter half. On his end, as well as on Yugi's. And for a while it tore at his heart as he tried to rebuild the bond they once shared.

From the moment that his Aibou had first solved the puzzle and freed him from his lonely, solitary prison Atemu had developed a bond of hero worship with the boy. And it had continued that way throughout his time spend as a bodiless spirit stuck in the physical realm. But it wasn't until he had attained a physical presence that he realized just what that bond had morphed into. And it frightened him how profound his attraction to the petite, beautiful puzzle-holder had become.

He wanted Yugi to himself, beside him for the rest of his days, to be able to look into those stunning amethyst eyes and know that he was needed, that he was wanted. In truth that was part of the reason he distanced himself from the group. He was deathly afraid that he would scare his Aibou off if the other ever found out about the intensity of his feelings. It was something he would never, ever do. To risk not having even the slightest bond with his other would be nothing short of a sin. Yugi had given him so much, who was he to impose any more?

"Here are the papers, Grandfather Mutou." Atemu called out to the elderly man as he stepped through the door between the shop and the house. "They require your signature in order for me to attend this class."

Sugoroku took the papers from his adopted grandson and glanced them over. "Hm, well my boy, have you thought about what you want to do with this second chance? What you want from life this time around?"

Atemu nodded, a faraway look to his eyes as he murmured. "That I have...but I doubt that what I desire is anywhere near my reach."

The older man gave a harsh laugh, appraising his newest charge with a knowing eye before leaning over to apply his signature to the paper. "Humph, I think that what you're wishing for is a lot closer than you think, Atemu. All you need to do is reach for it."

"I'll think about it, Grandfather." Atemu reluctantly admitted as he gathered the signed papers and made his way back into the house. Oh yeah, he would think on it alright. And deny himself all the same. Yugi was too good for the likes of him. After all the times his mere presence, let alone his selfish intentions, had put the boy in life threatening situations, Yugi was way too good for him.

"You do that Atemu." Sugoroku called out as the door shut. "And when you're done do it again, cause what you want isn't going to wait around forever for you to decide." But it was too late, he doubted that the former Pharaoh had even heard a word he said.

"Teenagers." The old man snorted. Even he could tell what was going on between his grandson and the former Pharaoh. And contrary to popular belief about people his age he agreed wholeheartedly with their choice of partners.

He reached for some of the new Christmas stock that he had been pricing and began to assemble the colorful displays, speaking quietly to no one in particular, as he was frequently known to do. "I swear they're going to drown in their angsty, no-one-understand-what-I'm-going-through mood swings. Pfft, as if I haven't been there."

And then he proceeded to set up the new displays around the shop, wondering at the stubbornness of the two individuals that were occupying the upstairs apartment. Hopefully, with some luck, and maybe a little push the two of them would finally realize how much they mean to each other. But until then he was stuck with a pair of moody, angsty teens on his hands. Oh lord, he wished someone would intervene. Someone that they would listen to, cause it was either that or he ended up killing one of them with his bare hands. They were driving him crazy.

~ o ~ O ~ o ~