Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! © Kazuki Takahashi
Author's Note:
Written for challenge #22, Forgiveness, at the ygodrabble livejournal community. Implied drug use.

Kaiba clicked his laptop shut. "No," he said resolutely.

Yuugi's fingers itched for a cigarette, and he scratched away at pinprick scars that weren't visible on his skin. His tongue felt like he had swallowed wax, his nose throbbed, like it would burst a blood vessel any minute, and his stomach was as heavy as lead. "Please," he murmured, voice raspy. "One more time. That's it."

He was not above begging, but he and Kaiba had played this game far too many times to resort to that. They were even in the exact same positions as usual: Yuugi, in Kaiba's office, barely able to stand on his feet and bracing his hands on Kaiba's desk to support himself. To another viewer, it could have looked provocative... and Yuugi wasn't above that either. (Not that Kaiba would have been interested.)

Kaiba's blue eyes bored into his own, searching for an answer to a question he would never ask. "Why should I?" he drawled finally, leaning back in his seat and crossing his arms and legs. He could mimic Yuugi's other self perfectly when it was called for, and it made Yuugi's heart twist painfully.

He licked his dry, chapped lips and force a smile. "For an old friend, Kaiba-kun?"

Kaiba narrowed his eyes, a hint of a smirk at his lips. "What would your friends think, Yuugi?"

He was overwhelmed with an urge to laugh until he cried but, instead, his voice came out breathlessly, "We're Japanese, Kaiba. We don't tell each other our personal problems."

Kaiba said nothing and, when he rose from his chair, Yuugi knew he had won. "This is the last time," Kaiba muttered as they walked into the darkened hallways of Kaiba Corporation after hours. They both knew it wasn't true, but Yuugi had predicted Kaiba would never comment on his vices. It would be hypocritical, and Kaiba refused to be a hypocrite.

Entering Kaiba's virtual world was like his brain being dipped in a warm bath — it wasn't something he could replicate with any other artificial substance. Once emerged, the ache and hunger and pain of his body was replaced with different sensations: gritty sand at his feet; the hot, brilliant sun burning his skin; rich, cool air filling his lungs. It was like coming home.

In the glare of the sun, he emerged, golden locks and jewelry, dark skin, purple cloak billowing out in the sun. He smelled like spice and cinnamon, and he enveloped Yuugi into a tight hug, puzzle pressing into his stomach. Yuugi clung back, burying his face in cool white linen, drowning in the soft whisper of "Partner."

"I'm sorry," he croaked, feeling emotions — guilt, anger, pain, sadness — burn up his throat and into his eyes. "I told myself I wouldn't do this anymore, but I can't help it, other me. I can't help it. I'm so, so, so sorry. I just need to hear it. One more time. That's it. Just once more."

His other self's smile was like the sun and moon and stars rolled into one. "I forgive you," he said and Yuugi's heart soared again, happiness bubbling up from the pit of his stomach. He buried himself back into the Pharaoh's arms and let his tears — the ones he couldn't let fall the first time — free.