New Authors Note:
Hello to all my awesome readers. Yes. I've rewritten the few 2 Episode of this season – the reason for this is because I got stuck on a subplot that I really wanted to do but it wasn't working out so I took it out. I realised I had no choice. So. That's why I haven't updated in a LONG time. Sorry!
I think it works better this way – but I am sad I had to take out a subplot.
Thank you all for being so patient with me. I really appreciate all your friendship.
So, if you've already read the first 2 episodes do re-read them, I've added extra stuff and I think it all flows better ^^;;
Older Authors Note:
Okay, first and foremost, if you are new, you will not understand a single word of this unless you have read Season 1 of 'Those Distant Stars'. So please, before you head along into this season, start with season one (no matter how horrible the beginning is, I promise you, its a good yarn if you can make it through my terrible spelling and grammar).
Secondly, I hope that this season will have the kind of feeling I wanted to try to go for – a feeling of the characters having matured. Yugi is in this early thirties (thought he wouldn't look it, obviously) he's a Dad and juggles being a Dad of a kid, who is obviously not normal, work and having a dark spirit so I hope in my writing that maturity in his adulthood will come through. It's really interesting to put a character like Yugi into this kind of situation and see where he goes.
All these characters have gone through things that have made them into who they are in this new season.
So, I hope you all enjoy it.
Thanks for coming along for the ride.
For those who wish to know this season is set in Season Nine of Stargate SG1 – which pretty much gives away everything but I thought it might need to be said before someone asks it. :)
Those Distant Stars
The Per-aa Rising
"My will shall shape my future.
Whether I fail or succeed shall be no man's doing but my own.
I am the force;
I can clear any obstacle before me or I can be lost in the maze.
win or lose,
only I hold the key to my destiny."
– Elaine Maxwell
(Donated by the lovely Aislynn Goldleaf)
Season 2 – Episode 1: Finding your Feet
A soft silence hung over the control-room of Stargate Command. Not even the humming of the computers nor the tapping of fingers on keyboards disturbed the beautiful peace that had settled over those within the dimly lit underground world. The weeks of non-activity amongst the SGC had settled a relaxation amongst its inhabitants. The technician by the panel controls glanced up from her space and frowned in thought as her eyes caught sight of a young man, dressed in the high-tail blue dress of the air-force, wander up the ramp within the Gate-room.
His eyes settled upon the revered, looming ancient alien device, thoughts obviously distant from the glaze over his expression.
"Hey," the technician glanced around to Air-man Walter, the gate-technician who seemed to never leave the control-room. It was rumoured, even, that he slept somewhere in the SGC and never left. She honestly couldn't believe such rumours, so many seemed to float around the SGC like wild-fire. "Who is that?"
Startled out of reading a large book Walter looked up and glanced through the glass-wall between the control-room and gate-room. Is brows drew together in a small frown and he flicked a look at the watch on his wrist.
"That is Lieutenant Colonel Cameron Mitchell, six months ago...dog fight over Antarctica, SG1 uncovered ann Ancient Outpost and took out the Replicator Fleet heading towards Earth."
"That's him," the woman's voice went slightly high in surprise. "That's the guy who saved the Pharaoh's Light?"
Walter nodded, placing aside his book. "Saved SG1...the planet in general...the Pharaoh's Light. Sure, the guy didn't give up. Even Priest Malik gave him the thumbs up for his piloting skills." He looked across at the young man in the gate-room.
"I heard about the battle. The Replicators pretty much wiped out the Goa'uld and then we had to fight the Replicators?"
Walter smiled at the technician weakly, "Pharaoh figured we should let the two bad-guys fight it out...we just didn't expect the Replicators to create humanoid Replicators. It was a bad couple of weeks but...hey...we won."
"We always do." She grinned.
Walter only shook his head but remained silent in his inward remark. He was simply waiting sadly for the day they did not win. At some point they would lose somehow. In some way, they did every time they lost a member of the SGC. Discovering the stars beyond wasn't all brilliant scientific discoveries and meaning-of-life-stuff, in-between all that was a fair about of 'bad-stuff'.
"Poor guy..." Walter sighed, standing to his feet abruptly, deciding it was time to torture the new young Colonel.
"Why?" Looking suddenly confused as Walter passed her by, she turned in her seat.
Walter shrugged, "He'll find out."
The breaths in his lungs were strained with anxiety. Months he had been preparing for this moment and now he finally stood within a history-marking room before a history-making alien device. Cameron sucked in his lungs before forcing the breath through his teeth. The Stargate's texture on his finger tips has he brushed the cold surface caused a small shiver to trail down his spine. He closed his eyes, sensing the odd sensation of memory trickling into his mind.
The swell of recollection almost caused a gush of nausea to overwhelm him and yet the voice, calm and gentle, settled him.
He could not remember much from the labyrinth of a fight over the pristine white ice sheets of Antarctica but he knew he had been sent their on a mission to protect SG1 at all costs as they had fought to find a way to destroy the Replicators or at least stall them from their vicious attack upon Earth.
At the time, he hadn't even known what a Replicator was. At least, not until his F-302 had been shot down, crashed and his co-pilot killed by a mechanical bug. That creature, such a hellish nightmare, still taunted his mind in the deepest of his sleep.
But nothing haunted him more than the gentle, tender face that had brought him back to the land of the living while within the pristine blue walls of the air-force hospital. They had called him the Light, that young man, with a smile and tears as he had looked at him in his half conscious state and thanked him for saving SG1.
Cameron breathed out slowly, squeezing his touch upon the Stargate. He nodded as if silently speaking to himself that this moment was right. He had waited for months and finally, today, he would make history in the history making place.
From behind, foot-steps approached up the ramp. Cameron tipped around, his sharp blue eyes glancing over the control-room technician, Walter, a rather small middle-aged man, balding with glasses yet carrying the authority of someone who knew the Stargate and the Stargate realm from the very beginning. Word around the SGC said he was the eyes and ears of General Jack O'Neill.
"Chief Master Sergeant Walter Harriman." Walter gave a salute.
Cameron slandered down the ramp.
"The General is ready for you Colonel." Walter motioned to the blast-door of the gate room.
Cameron tipped his head backwards to the Stargate. "Bigger than I thought it'd be."
Walter smiled, "Yes sir." He followed the young arrival with an almost practised movement. "Welcome to Stargate Command."
"Good to be here."
The closer they drew to the General's office the tenser Cameron felt his muscles grow until tight balls formed in the back of his neck, riding down his shoulder-blades. He had been waiting for this moment ever since he had managed to get out of the hospital bed and walk.
Walter opened the door and motioned him into the foreboding interior of the well set out office. Across the desk papers were scattered as if someone had simply discarded them as though they were clothing to be cast side in a hurry. The concrete walls of the underground base had been covered in pictures, some even photographs of particular people. All in all, it really didn't look or feel like the office of a high-ranking air-force officer.
It even smelt a little bit too much like chocolate chip cookies and donuts.
Cameron paused beside the desk, his lips thinning as he spied a photograph on the wall behind the messy desk. Displayed upon a cabinet the face of the Light was perfectly captured and preserved within a photo. His heart rate quickened. Would he ever see that face in reality again? How could the people of Earth walk around never knowing that under them lived an entire world? It was unbelievable, even more unbelievable than the existence of the Stargate.
"Feel free to have a seat." Walter startled him from his thoughts. The air-man pointed to a large couch. "General O'Neill will be with you in a minute. He's just finishing up a briefing with SG-12."
Cameron gulped as Walter left, shutting the door behind him. He made a movement to sit down but paused, deciding instead to stand and stare at the photograph. The face was youthful, bright and despite the alien colour of the bright purple eyes and the fantasy glow of a tri-coloured hair, it was an altogether human face.
"Yugi's got a smile to die for hasn't he?"
The voice made him choke.
Cameron spun around on his feet and stared into the weather-worn features of General Jack O'Neill. For a General who commanded such respect as his position over Stargate Command, Jack had the most outrageous relaxed appearance of any out-standing officer. Cameron tensed and snapped up a salute.
His idol was staring at him with calm, warm blue eyes under brushy grey eyebrows and he almost appeared to be smirking. Such a hidden expression was unnerving.
Jack wandered around the desk and collapsed into the large grey chair behind it.
He puffed out his cheeks as he looked at the mess of files on his desk. "You know, I bet Carter that I would never sit in this chair...I should have known never to bet on my own future." Jack grumbled, playing a small, squishy stress-ball happily between his scarred fingers. He fished out a file and flipped it open.
"Sit down." He pointed without looking up.
Cameron quickly followed the order and sat.
"Soooo, you must be Lieutenant Colonel Mitchell."
"Yes sir. It's good to be here sir."
"Well," Jack raised his eyebrows, still gazing at the file in front of him. He hooked up a leg and propped it over one knee. "Your service record is impeccable Mitchell. What's wrong with you?" The General cast the file onto the desk and stared at the new arrival in all seriousness.
"Nobody's perfect...okay...so...no, don't worry about him, he doesn't count. Everyone...in the air-force at least, has some kind character flaw. What's yours?"
For a moment Cameron forced calm, his heart rate returned to a natural rhythm, or as close as he could make it. Slowly he replied in the same serious tone as the older man before him.
"Sometimes I can be impatient. Sir."
"Yes...all pilot's have type A personalities." Jack rubbed is chin, "no...no...I'm talking about your super-man kryptonite. Don't worry...I'll figure it out." The General scrambled for a larger pile of files. He frowned, at the mess.
"Walter!" He called out.
Over the small com device under a pile of papers upon the deck a muffled voice replied. "The personnel files on your desk, Sir, are to the left...they're the one's your about to request."
"About to request..." Jack frowned, "Walter! Is Carter talking to you again!"
"Push the big red button to talk sir." Walter replied.
Jack glared at the com-device and reached over to press a large red button. "Thank you Walter." He rolled his eyes and looked back at the young Colonel. "The thing that's hardest about getting use to this job up the top is realising how damned good everyone else is at their jobs. I had no idea this place ran with such clock work until I fell face first into this position."
"I'll try not to lower the average sir." Cameron added softly.
Jack cracked a grin and pointed at the new arrival. "Hmmm, interesting. You have a self deprecating sense of humour. You think it'll make people like you despite your outward perfection."
"No." Cameron back-tracked quickly.
"Ah, ah!" Jack wiggled his finger as he stood and gathered up the pile of files. He wandered around the desk and happily deposited them into the young Colonels' lap. "Here you go snappy. Get started."
Staring in confusion at the files Cameron slowly raised his eyes to the standing General looming over him. "Sir? I..."
Jack wiggled his fingers in the air, "you heard the disconnected voice of the little sergeant with psychic powers. Those are personnel files. Start picking your team." He tapped his nose knowingly as he spun back to his desk, pouring himself a cup of coffee.
"Wait. General. I'm here to join SG1."
Jack gave a small laugh, "Nope. You're here to lead SG1."
"Ah...what about...Lieutenant Colonel Carter?"
"Well..." Jack's expression shifted slightly, though for the life of him Cameron had no idea what kind of expression it was. "She's...er...taken up training the up and coming cadets out of the American Duellist Academy while being part-time at Area Fifty-One. She likes multi-tasking...God knows why...that woman..." Jack blew a rasp through his lips.
"Since...when?" Cameron choked out.
"As of a few months ago now, I believe." Idly Jack flipped at a calendar. "Yup."
"And...Doctor Daniel Jackson?" Cameron whispered.
"Doctor Daniel Jackson put in for re-assignment. He's in the Tombs at the moment, up there, somewhere..." Jack motioned to the unseen sky above them. "Teal'c left the Program pretty soon after the Replicators wiped out the Goa'uld and we wiped out the good old'metal buggy wuggys." Jack's bright eyes gleamed as he made a spooky wave with a hand as if mimicking the motions the alien robotic bugs that had terrorised them so easily. "He's trying to put a government together for the Jaffa. Hell of a job."
Jack's attention shifted like a switch, turning fully upon the young Colonel's saddened and disheartened face. "Not my place to say."
"Sir...please," Cameron leant forward, beseeching, "the...the reason that I...requested this post...wh...why I worked so hard...well..." His chest fell at the blank expression across the relaxed General's rugged features.
"Hmmm," Jack winced as he sipped his bitter coffee, "listen to that will you. He expresses himself poorly when faced with an unexpected challenge. Really, Mitchell, your sheet says you have outstanding leadership skills. Take the files, Colonel, choose your team...and try to enjoy it. You know the strings I had to pull for Yugi to get you to this position...a lot of them."
Pulling in his chest Cameron grasped the files and stood, his cheeks drawn out darkly in silent, brooding frustration. "Yes sir."
Jack smiled at the young man's turned back. He pointed a finger at the departing figure and whispered. "Gotcha. Hook, line and sinker..."
The bitter air nibbled eagerly at his already cold finger-tips. There was an unwelcome eeriness of his new surroundings, though he had to wonder if it was just his inward uneasiness that caused him to think walking down the long outdoor corridor was spooky. Cameron fiddled worriedly with the cuffs of his large jacket, quickly pacing down the darkened corridor of the apartment block building. Five levels up he had passed numerous doors, all with lights flickering and casting terrible shadows around the concrete. He finally noted his destination and despite having no desire to speed up his approach, he quickened his pace towards the warm bright light, the only light that did not flicker hung before a welcoming blue painted door.
Cameron scrubbed at his short hair, gazing over the door.
A Christmas reef, looking hand-made, was hung up, covered in an over-abundance of glitter. In itself that was enough of an easing sensation through his limbs. He wasn't scared. No, he was a Colonel of the United States Air-Force. He had fought Replicators – sure, he had almost died saving Earth, but he would have done anything for SG1 and...for...the Light that had stood beside him while on the operation table.
Still, no one was questioning his courage here, standing in front of this door, in the cold of a November night.
It was just the Pharaoh, that illusive, strange and whispered word that ever so often one would catch a hint of within the Air Force. The rumours, as outrageous as some of them had been, ended up being oddly true in the strangest of ways. He had read the mission files, every single one of them, over and over like a drug until they were burned into his memory. He hadn't really had anything else to do while in hospital waiting for his legs to recover from the near fatal crash aiding the Tombs in defending SG1 (and the unknowing people of Earth) from Replicators.
Okay, so it was only after his clearance had been cleared he had been allowed to actually read such classified files above the work he did being a pilot and it was then that he realised he was mistaken about the Stargate problem, it didn't just deal with aliens – it dealt with hell and shadows and life beyond...well...the vale.
The Pharaoh and his Court was above every level of clearance one could possibly get, beyond the stuff about the Stargate Program. Heck, he was sure even the President had to be cleared to know the things he had been given leave to read. The Pharaoh, the Court, it was the kind of secret that very few where pivotal too and he was one of them, for reasons he couldn't understand. Maybe he had earned it, fighting those Replicators and defending Earth.
Yeah, he'd earned it.
At least, that was the only way he could think about it without having his brain sizzle to death.
It was insane, right, to imagine a creature of such power living amongst normal people right on Earth and here he was, standing at the door, hoping to convince a dark lord from centuries ago to help him in getting SG1 back together.
He was mad.
He was insane.
What could he offer an ancient being, the undercover protector of their galaxy, the mediator between their realm and another darker realm? He had nothing. Nothing but himself and hopefully that would be enough.
Clearing his throat he brought his knuckles to tap at the door, paused, noted the door-bell and quickly pressed it before he had a chance to back-out. Somewhere inside he heard it echo a chime and he waited. The door was unlocked and pulled open by someone he hadn't been expecting and it almost caused him to back up two paces. Then again, what had he been expecting, he wasn't sure, but it wasn't what he saw standing in the back-light from inside.
He had to look down at the young man, at least, he was sure he was young but something around his eyes, the illusion of faint wrinkles behind bright blue squared glasses. Something said he had lived a lot longer than his out-ward appearance of twenty-five even though, Cameron was sure, the man was trying to look older by the sheer manner in which he had cut his crazy coloured hair and wore his thick glasses.
The young Colonel felt a shiver as the large, strangely beautiful purple eyes peered at him. A smile broke across the smooth, slightly rounded features that graced him with a kind of familiarity he felt only around his closest friends and his parents.
This was, no doubt about it, Yugi Motou.
This was the Light that held their galaxy's ruler and protector, the Light that pieced the darkness.
The seemingly young man was dressed in an overly large knitted jumper, coloured in the prime colours for Christmas. Across its front the words 'Space' had been knitted into the weave. Somehow it had a grandmother-given feel to it. It hung over a dark pair of easy fitting jeans that had long ago been torn at the hems. His feet were oddly bare before it being so cold, but he didn't seem to care.
Cameron tilted his head. The most alarming thing about the little man was not his alien eyes, nor his oddly coloured hair cut around his chin and flicked back in a tamed fashion, it was the large hunk of gold around his neck, settled on his chest as though it was meant to be there as a part of his body itself.
It was the Pyramid, the Puzzle.
His head began to spin and Cameron quickly steadied himself.
He could do this.
If he could fly an F-302 into the heart of battle, then this should have been a piece of cake.
"Cameron," the young man's voice was slightly accented, and in the manner in which he said his name Cameron felt as though he had suddenly known the man for decades. "It's good to see you..."
The soft smile was gentle. It was a smile from the eyes instead of the lips.
"Er..." Cameron flinched, "yeah." Those eyes were amazing, looking right at him, almost through him. He shivered at the sensation of being inwardly studied, though interestingly enough, it wasn't a bad feeling.
"What are you doing out in the freezing cold! Come on, get in." Cameron felt his arm grabbed and with more strength than a small person should have, the young man dragged him inside. The door was slammed shut and locked again. The warmth of an interior heating flushed through Cameron and he rubbed at his slightly runny nose worriedly.
"Shoes off, if you please. Saves me from ruining my back vacuuming..."
"Oh, yeah sure." Cameron kicked off his shoes, placing them beside the line of others in a rack beside the door. He glanced around the homey apartment, smelling the scent of cooking spices rising from the kitchen. The young man had ducked around a counter, grabbing a wok and tossing diced vegetables into the stir-fry in expert grace of someone who obviously enjoyed the task of cooking. The kitchen, oddly enough, had an overly homey and rich feeling, as if it had recently been renovated to better standards. Pictures, both photos, and coloured pencil sketches had been stuck all over the free walls, looking as though a small kid with far too much talent for drawing, had been given leave with the glue-tack and gone mad. Cameron gave a small smile at the photos of cheery faces and beach scenes.
"My son loves the beach." Yugi offered an explanation from his place beside the oven. "Mostly sunsets and sunrises at the beach, he actually hates swimming and bathers but he loves pretty shells and long walks along the sand. He has an eidetic memory...so...pictures are his way of letting us remember like he does." He was magically juggling putting bread rolls into the already heated oven while pulling out a readied chocolate pudding.
"I'm sorry to intrude." Cameron rubbed the back of his neck, knowing he should have checked the time, but he'd been so furious about the whole not being told SG1 had been broken up that he had just gone with his first instinct. Hunt down whoever could help him and considering no one else of SG1 was currently on Earth but the Pharaoh he had had no choice but to come knocking.
"You're not intruding, I was expecting you, hence the four places on the table my friend. Sorry, Yugi Motou...you might not remember me to well from when you where in hospital but I stayed with you for a few days."
Gulping back saliva Cameron nodded slowly as he took the offered hand. "Yes...I...I remember it a little. Thank you."
"No, Cameron." Yugi's eyes smiled again from the inside, "thank you. Had you and your squadron not come when you had and had you not run head long into a pile of Replicators, I would not be here today...you are the hero. I simply repaid the favour my friend."
Cameron watched the young man move around the kitchen again.
"I did what my gut told me, that's all."
The Light of the Pharaoh laughed. "Trust me, my gut doesn't tell me to run into danger, it usually tells me to get the hell out of town. I've just been amazingly good at ignoring it, birth defect apparently...according to my Grandfather."
Cameron forced himself to calm. The voice, every time it spoke, made him recall his hospital stay. Those nightmarish days and that beautiful Light that had stayed with him through the worst of the pain.
This was him.
That wasn't all he had read during the months after the crash of his F-302. From the mission files, the young man in front of the oven, looking completely at ease and perfectly graceful, was the mortal flesh to the most powerful being their planet had as an ally.
He was pretty much standing in the doorway belonging to the equivalent of high royalty. This young man could have chosen to live in a palace with doting servants but instead he was happily running around a small kitchen of a high-rise apartment. Nothing in the apartment looked over done, it was all plain, and maybe a little bit run down, however so well kept that it was obvious how well loved it was as a home.
"Cameron." Yugi wiped his slim hands upon a tea-towel and peered through his blond fringe. "I am not the one you need to talk to about what's transpired. I believe Yami's the one you want to speak to, he's in the living room with our son, they're making Christmas cards. Just go around that corner and follow the sound of carols. " He made a shooing motion with his hands. "Go on, I promise, Yami really isn't all that scary, not like people think at least. Go, go, shoo, shoo, out of my kitchen."
Cameron quickly followed the instruction, smiling slightly when he heard the pop-sensation songs playing from hidden speakers. The walls of the dark passage were lined in more photographs and paintings. Whoever the person was who painted and sketched, was beyond a master at it.
The closer he drew to the sitting-room of the small apartment he picked up a deep, majestic voice that spoke over the carols. He knew that voice too, it had spoken over the speaker of his F-302 six months ago and he hadn't heard it since.
"Do you want more glue Sol? No...how about you put that photo over here...see, looks much better. Hmmm, yes, I am sure Uncle Duke is going to love the Dice you made..." The deep voice caused a shiver to spread through his skin and he noted in the corner of the corridor twisting shadows, licking at his heels. He forced calm, knowing from the documents he had read that to act in aggravation towards the shadows studying him would only cause trouble.
He propped a hand upon the doorframe and peered into the brightly lit living room, boxes of yet to be put up Christmas decorations sat to one side, along with a tree that hadn't quite made it to is rightful place. A flat screen television was playing a Pokemon movie silently in the background, two large arm chairs, well worn and covered in blankets sat to one side. A rung had been rolled up to leave the wood flooring clear so that a table could be set up in the centre of the room. There a small boy was going mad with a glitter tube while the elder was cleaning the glitter off the surface of the table.
Cameron gave a step back, startled that though the Pharaoh hadn't even turned in his direction, his presence was already known. His name sounded so odd coming from such a rich accent, a voice that could command armies of inter-dimensional beings, and it simply said his name.
"Come in, the heaters on in here..."
The ancient, frightening being of immense power that was controlled and tamed by the man he had left in the kitchen, turned to face him. Cameron felt all breath sucked out of him.
The Pharaoh's eyes were non-reflective, frightfully so, showing in them death. Black as night, with only the pupils displaying a red tinge, demonic and yet with his current, kindly expression he seemed almost gentle as though he could put anyone at ease. He radiated reverence and Cameron found himself in the awkward position of feeling the need to bow low, not quite understanding why he would ever feel such an odd sensation pass through his limbs. He wore an almost identical out-fit to his light counter-part, a same grandmother knitted oversized jumper that actually fit him far better than it had Yugi, across its front the word 'hot-shot' had been knitted in bright red.
Cameron forced himself not to laugh out-loud, instead falling into what he had been taught in academy.
"Pharaoh." He saluted swiftly.
"Call me Yami." Yami stood in one fluid movement and held out a worn, scarred hand, covered in glitter, "I can imagine you're still reeling from the shock of the day. Jack can be very annoying to work with when he drops a boom-shell on you. Please, accept my apology for not speaking to you earlier about SG1's current status. Come, a good meal should help you recover from the woes of your day. I don't even have to eat and it still helps me."
Cameron shook the offered hand, feeling a jolt swell through his body, as though something had quickly passed into his limbs, making him substantially more at ease than he had been. The ancient spirit smiled, a genuine smile of sincerity.
"It takes a lot of courage to take things into your own hands and to walk into my house knowing full well who and what I am." The Pharaoh turned, dusting his glittered hands on his knitted jumper, looking to the small boy who was busy sticking a photo of a beach scene on a blue card. "I commend you for your courage." Yami glanced down at Sol before Cameron could answer with thanks.
"Solomon, can you go wash your hands, dinner soon."
Sol glanced up and Cameron noted the boys eyes where just as frightening as the Pharaohs. They looked wrong in the face of a child. From his readings, he knew about the kid too. The tiny boy was a clone and in some manner, he actually looked like one. Maybe it was simply because he already knew, and maybe it wouldn't have been so obvious to a normal everyday person but he saw the almost inhuman perfection of the artificially grown child. He just had to imagine the government agencies who would want to get their hands on such a work of art and science.
Cameron winced, suddenly feeling the intense desire to protect the boy.
Yami chuckled, "don't worry, that happens to everyone who looks at him."
The young Colonel twisted towards the Pharaoh, noting the spirit hadn't moved from his spot, looking awfully unnatural in his stillness that no real human could have managed. Only his lengthened hair, flicked around his broad shoulders shifted in a illusionary wind. Cameron thinned his eyes, if from what he read was correct, the Pharaoh had three forms of illusionary configuration. The first was his entire spirit form, encased in demonic shadows, the second was a semi-realistic illusion that could still walk through walls and the third was a solid reality, one that could be touched and affected by the physical realm.
He had to be looking at the third stage, the stage that was apparently the hardest to hold.
"What?" Cameron frowned. "What happens them someone looks at him?"
Yami shrugged. "It's a protective mechanism built into him by the Asgaurd who cloned him. He is designed to make people like him; he affects the chemicals in your brain to bring out the basic desire of protection. At least, that is what Aibou has theorised and Colonel Carter figured out."
"Quite so." Yami shrugged, "Sol, wash hands...come on, off you go."
Sol grinned a full set of happy teeth, nodded silently. He took off in a run towards the bathroom.
Yami smirked, placing a hand upon Cameron's shoulder and leading him back towards the kitchen.
"I'm not sure if you remember me visiting you in hospital." The Pharaoh offered conversation.
"No, sir...I...I was unaware you visited." Cameron flinched.
Another thing General O'Neill failed to mention. Honestly, just what was the man trying to do, kill him in shock before he even managed to get out on the field? "I...I know...Yugi...did...but, you sir...no..."
"Well, I did," Yami shrugged, "you saved SG1 and my Light, with your sacrifice. I don't take that lightly Cameron. You've shown the abilities of a great leader and I like-."
"I was expecting to be a part of SG1, not have to make my own." Cameron thinned his eyes darkly, the words welling out of his mouth before he had a chance to clamp down on them.
Yami nodded slowly, "I know, but things change Cameron..." He pushed the young Colonel into the kitchen, stepping back one pace as Yugi dashed past, holding a large bowl.
"Sorry." Yugi threw hot bread roles into the bowl, passing it to the Pharaoh, "mind putting that on the table for me. Thanks. Cameron, have a seat..." The young man dusted his blond fringe to one side, trying hard to tie it back as he smiled, motioning to the small rounded table in the dining area.
Cameron glanced around, "I...I really, I mean I can come back, I don't want to intrude-."
Yugi's firm glare stared towards the young Colonel and he pointed the knife he was holding at chest level, "sit down, now, Colonel Mitchell."
Yami laughed as Cameron near jumped for the nearest chair, seating himself without a second bidding. Yugi gave a snort, placing his knife away in victory. "I still got it." The light twisted on his heels, ducking behind the counter to pull out a jug for the juice.
"You've met my light then?" Yami hummed, his expression gentle as he watched Yugi juggle tall glasses and a jug of juice to the table, "wonderful is he not."
"Yes," holding his hands to his knees Cameron nodded, "I...never would have imagined...the reports where, well..." He trailed off, no words coming.
"Bit of a thing to wrap your head around, I know." Yami chuckled warmly as he placed the large bowl of bread rolls on the table, "but I assure you, we're the same person, just different sides of that soul."
Sol suddenly burst into the kitchen, slipped and fell flat on his face only to hoist himself up without complaint with a swell of shadows. The boy made an annoyed face, staring darkly at whatever invisible thing had tripped him over. He pointed at nothing and waggled a finger as though telling something off like an adult.
"Solomon, did you wash your hands?" Yami pulled out the boy's chair.
The boy threw his hands up for viewing. Yami nodded, "good boy, clean as a whistle..."
"Unlike you." Yugi placed down bowls for the pudding, turning with a raised eyebrow to the Pharaoh's knitted jumper. He gave a laugh, dusting at the jumper with a hand, "sparkly Pharaoh."
"Usually the word I equate with you, Aibou."
"Someone went crazy with the glitter, heh Sol?" Yugi helped the small boy onto his chair, seating him on a bunch of pillows to prop him higher. Sol grinned impishly, waving his hands in sign language. Yugi gently smiled, rubbing the boy's hair fondly.
"I know, Aunty Tea is very beautiful and she will love the very beautiful card too. Very creative of you Sol. Here Cam, chop-sticks or knife and fork, you get to choose in this family?" Yugi held up the two choices. Cameron quickly took the knife and fork. Yugi threw the chopsticks towards Yami who smoothly caught them, easily slipping into his own seat. With a sigh of relief Yugi landed in his own chair beside Cameron, cracking his chop-sticks apart and contently staring at the well made meal. "Well, I threw that together rather brilliantly, I think." He commented drily. "Dig in all."
Sol giggled happily, manning his chop-sticks as he hurriedly began. Yami patted the boy's mop of hair gently, soothing back the wild locks.
"Someone is hungry."
The boy only grinned.
Cameron looked to Yugi, "thanks, its good."
"You're most welcome, Cam, sorry about the General today. He's abrupt and amusing and enjoys watching people suffer with sudden information. You'll get used to him eventually."
"Yeah...I...was kind of expecting to meet SG1-."
"You've already met them Cameron," Yami offered softly, "we all popped in to say hello while you were in hospital."
"I know." The young Colonel nodded slowly, "I remember flashes every now and then. Listen I can't build a team. What if the world needs saving?" His firm jaw gritted together in frustration. He hated to admit it, but he doubted himself in this moment.
"You'll save it." Yugi offered. He stood and poured drinks. "You will. Trust me. I have studied many people in my amazingly short life time and you have the 'save the world' gene."
Yugi pinned him with a gaze and Cameron felt his face being studied, every lined and wrinkle, the dull brown of his hair, the blue of his eyes and he supposed, even the chicken-pox scars on his forehead, were being scrutinised by the mesmerising Light.
"Of course," Yugi puffed out his cheeks suddenly, "everyone is born with this gene, it just takes the strength, inward fight and the deep, deep trust in one's self to bring it out. I was lucky." Yugi looked to Yami, "I had a split soul, I could see that strength whenever I looked at Yami...but you," the Light turned back to Cameron, "you have to find that other side of yourself in you. I suggest a mirror...they're very handy."
"Aibou..." Yami waggled a finger, "stop teasing the poor man. He's had a rough day."
"I can't do this alone." Cameron placed down his knife and fork to scrub a hand through his short military cut hair. Weakly his eyes flicked towards Yami with a dark, brooding glint. "Please..."
With an all too human sigh Yami shook his head, "Cameron, the General gave you files-."
"We can get SG1 back together. I want to work with the best of the best...I want to work with you, the Pharaoh. I can't save the world without you."
Yami sighed heavily and finished a mouthful in silence, watching Sol happily eat, ignoring the conversation of the adults around him, lost in his own little world.
"I cannot leave Yugi, Cameron, not yet-."
"Hey." Yugi pointed a chop-stick at the Pharaoh. "It has been almost six months since the Replicators attack. Look at me; I am the picture of health." The light fanned his body.
"Aibou, you were near drained of your strength holding up that shield around the Ancient base-."
"And I've recovered..."
The Pharaoh's brow furrowed darkly. The shadows within the apartment twisted in distorted shapes, making the world seem all the smaller as the walls groaned from strain.
\Aibou, I took this awful desk job to be with you...I don't think it's been long enough.\
Ignoring the influx of shadows, Yugi smiled across the table, \but its killing you Yami, you're a warrior, an adventurer...you're not meant to be cooped up here on Earth in an office.\
\You talked to Jack didn't you...you're both in on this.\ Yami sent a small waver of disproval across the link. \I don't want to tax you...\
Yugi gave a shrug of his shoulders, \Yami, we didn't go through everything we went through to not use our split soul to our advantage – to be in two places at the same time. I know you're worried about me, but please, I will only know what I am able to do if you let me discover it for myself. Anyway, the universe out there needs you Yami. This is a chance to bring back what you once had, a chance to expand your future empire, let me worry about the Court here on Earth. Cameron is a good young man, he saved Earth and he saved us during the final Goa'uld battle with the Replicators. I don't want you denying yourself because of me. I will be fine, I have to fight the pain associated with separation anyway, one-day, we'll need to be able to work apart from each other despite the pain it brings.\ His mental voice softened, \better work through it now, than later, my darkness.\
Yami mentally sighed, \you make me better Aibou...\
\I'm your light, what do you expect and anyway...They...are coming and you won't be able to defeat Them stuck in an office trying to crush Senator Kinsey with pretty words.\ Yugi prodded with a chip-stick in the air.
Yami grumbled, \if he becomes President in the next election we're all dead and I will happily destroy the world to save it from itself.\
\He won't, American people are smarter than that.\
\Or China will become the new world order.\ Yami thinned his eyes, \no...Australia, Australia is a good choice too. I should talk to the Australian President-.\
\They have a Prime Minster, Yami.\ Yugi perked up an eyebrow.
\That, Aibou, is what they want you to think.\ He pointed his chop-stick at his partner once more. For a moment Yugi paused, then blinked, releasing the young Colonel was beginning to glance back and forth between them in confusion.
"Sorry Cam, force of habit, mental communication and all." Yugi coughed, scratching his neck in an embarrassed manner, "Yami will be happy to help you."
The Pharaoh gave a low, inhuman growl, "Aibou..."
"He'll be overjoyed to help you." Yugi stated as he stood to gather up the used plates, "won't you?" He raised an eyebrow at the Pharaoh, daring him to deny.
Yami hissed, "Bakura is right, you and Ryou know far too well how to manipulate us."
"Credit where credit is due, you know my buttons, my Pharaoh, I know yours. Now be a good boy and get back out in space...do what you're good at doing." The young man dumped the plates on the kitchen bench. "Let Kinsey rot in his office, or even better..." Yugi gave a grin as he grabbed the large pudding bowl, "let me have a crack at him. I'd love to see how well he'd do if I super-glued his backside to a chair during a Senate meeting."
Yami shook his head and gave a long sigh.
The phone on the wall rang and Yugi's head tipped around in surprise. Placing down the pudding on the table he grabbed for the offending phone.
"Hello, Motou residence. Oh, hey..." Yugi waved a hand towards Yami and vanished around the corner into the passage, his language switching to something Cameron couldn't understand.
Quickly the young Colonel whispered towards Yami. "Ah...can he...you know, actually super-glue the Senators butt to a chair?" Cameron felt his own chair for a moment.
Yami folded his hands in front of him, his expression serious, "Yes, Cameron, I assure you, Yugi may be a light, but he has found...ah...ways to create havoc in his own right. Much to my continued amusement."
"Life is never boring."
"Oh, it gets boring every now and then...but...life without a lull is not life at all." Yami chuckled and gently soothed a hand through Sol's hair, "you need the peace in the business to wish for the peace again..."
"Yami." Yugi poked his head around the corner of the small hallway, "Kala's pregnant."
"Oh hell no." Yami twisted in his seat, "I warned Malik!"
"What, you can't control him Yami, just because he's your High Priest?" Yugi placed the phone back onto its hook, "Yami, they have sex and when people have sex, babies happen. Remember, I explained this amazing natural occurrence to you several times..."
"Shut up, Aibou." Yami paused then raised both brows, "I'm putting my money on twins."
Yugi nodded. "So am I, from their family history, they're about due for a set...now, lets see, Yami...you were about to say something?"
For a moment the Pharaoh sat staring at his partner before he shifted uneasily in his chair and turned to face the young Colonel.
"Alright Cameron," Yami folded his hands upon the table, "I will aid you in bringing SG1 back together, but I am warning you, once you start this journey, there will be no going back..."
Cameron gave a small pump of his fist in victory.
Yami chuckled at the young Colonel, before glancing towards Yugi with a warm smile, his entire mannerism changing in a split second, "Aibou, it was a wonderful meal, thank you."
"Always happy to cook." Yugi shrugged, seated himself back into his chair. He raised his eyebrows before winking teasingly towards Cameron, "So Cam, tell me, what do you know about us? The General's told me you've been doing a lot of reading of the old SG1 files...betcha have a few questions." He motioned to Yami as the ancient king moved around the kitchen, taking out mugs for decaffeinated coffee.
Cameron shook his head at them both, "You're nothing like what I imagined...you know, for protectors of Earth and all..."
Yugi laughed, the sound startling the young Colonel back in his chair at its richness. He turned his warm, purple eyes towards Cameron, raising his brow as Yami placed a hand upon his shoulder, passing Cameron a mug of coffee.
"No Cameron, we're usually not what people imagine." Yugi slid backwards in his chair. The large skivvy he wore slipped slightly down his arm as he tucked his knees under his chin, watching as Yami began to make coffee, "but we're what Earth gets."
"I can live with that..." Cameron tipped his head forward, looking over the young man, every bit the angel he had seen standing beside him while near death.
Yugi smiled as Yami's large hand touched his shoulder, squeezing it tenderly. Cameron looked between them both.
Yep, the Earth, for sure, was in good hands.
Whoever said that hell was hot was amazingly wrong about that assumption. Cameron felt the cold, the chill and the all together frightful freeze of shadows encase him. They twisted, snaked and consumed his skin, nipped at his hairs and if possible, he could have sworn he heard them giggle. As soon as the sensation came, it left and he was suspended in nothing then dropped like a pin into reality once more.
Wet ground squished under his feet. He dared to open his eyes. Beside him the Pharaoh was standing, smile crocked with a wiry little tilt to his eyebrows. Behind the brown eerie change of his eye colour the demonic red still lingered in the changed chorea. It was impossible not to be impressed or overwhelmed by the sheer majesty of the powerful creature that walked Earth so naturally.
Yami slipped the leather gloves from his hands and watched as the young Colonel snuggled deeper into his jacket with a shiver. He chuckled at the young man's uneasiness at their current cold location.
"Aren't you now glad Yugi told you last night to not eat breakfast?" The Pharaoh offered.
Cameron nodded weakly. "So...that...was...a shadow-portal?"
"I dragged you through hell and back, yes." Yami flashed a grin then shifted into a serious tip of his head as if studying the air-man, "You did well for your first shadow-portal, most mortals freak out...or throw up." The Pharaoh raised his eyebrows, pocketing his gloves into his thick black jeans as Cameron stared upward at the nearby hospital, confusion obvious over his brow.
"Nothing like flying a F-302." Cameron flashed a smile around to the Pharaoh, "and crashing one."
"Good point my friend." Tapping the heels of his boots Yami tucked his hands into his long trench-coat. He noted Cameron was finally realising just where they were in the world.
"Hoping not to the sound stupid here, but...why we here...er...in England...and that is a hospital?" The Colonel pointed at the tall building. "I should tell you now, that I am perfectly fine. My legs work great!"
"I'm sure they do, I made sure they would, but they are not the reason why we are here." Motioning with his hand Yami allowed Cameron to fall in step with him as they made their way into the hospital, "you wish to get SG1 back together, well...this is where my...hmmm, my best friend...works."
"You say that with some difficulty."
"Bakura and I have a very odd relationship." The Pharaoh chuckled as he stepped through the automatic doors and into the busy and warm interior of the hospital entrance.
"Bakura?" Cameron flinched at the name as though a knife had been wedged into his shoulder, "um...what I read about him...er...he doesn't strike me as the...um...Doctor kind of guy."
Yami nodded, passing by the main front desk and giving a wave of the woman behind it. Quickly Cameron followed after the Pharaoh, only mildly surprised that they were simply allowed through into a restricted area. With the commanding presence of the ancient being beside him he was sure they could go anywhere without trouble.
"Understandable, however because both Bakura and I don't need to sleep Bakura found that occupying his mind at night was a wonderful chance to grow his knowledge and...er...stop himself from plotting to destroy things. He's become one of the most sought after surgeons the medical community has to offer. He fixed you up well enough, didn't he?" The Pharaoh pushed on a door, holding it open for the Colonel.
Cameron paused from his walk, "he what?"
"The damage done to your spine by the Replicator was extensive but...I pulled a few strings and Bakura obliged to my string pulling to operate on you, a normal surgeon would not have been able to fix the damage."
Recovering from his shock Cameron quickly caught up with the ancient king, "That's cheating though, right?" the young Colonel snorted, "you guys wouldn't make mistakes, your hands would be as steady as possible and you have magic powers." He twiddled his fingers, causing Yami to grin at the action that Jack had often used to display his displeasure at the magical aspect of his life.
Yami shrugged. "Saving lives, Cameron, can come in all forms and Bakura has taken many lives...this place," the Pharaoh opened his arms to make his point at the hospital they walked through, "gives him the opportunity to give back. We are dark creatures, Cameron, make no quell about it, we are not kind and we are not nice but we do know the pain of death and the pain of loss. If Bakura wishes to use his abilities to help mortal humans then I will not bother him about it. He always did like blood and cutting people up. He likes to know how people tick and what better way than to study them. Better him do it here..."
"You really don't see yourself as human anymore do you?"
Yami shrugged, "no, Cameron, I am not human...I am the shadow of one."
They came out into a cafeteria and Cameron stared around at what looked like a mall inside a hospital.
Yami pressed a hand upon the young Colonel's shoulder. "Grab us a seat, I'll be back in a few minutes with Bakura."
"Er...okay..." Cameron nodded.
He had no idea how Bakura was able to work within a hospital as a creature of death. Wandering silently down a long corridor Yami glanced briefly into each room as he passed swiftly by. His dislike of hospitals was not a general dislike that a normal human would have suffered. Hospitals held something in them, the ebbing of life. He could feel the pain in the air and hear the voices of those long passed within the caring beds.
And too, hospitals reminded him of the amount of times he had landed Yugi in one.
How did Bakura manage the pain that came with being a spirit in such a place he had no idea but it was a very Bakura like thing to shoulder such pain and plough onward.
He paused at a nurses station and smiled at the young woman behind the desk.
"Doctor Amir, is he in by any chance?"
The girl nodded quickly, "he's finishing up...ah...well..." she pointed to a door, "in there."
"Thank you." Yami inclined his head, inwardly smirking at the effect he still had after all these years. Middle age, he figured, was treating him well enough. Truth be-told neither he nor Yugi had aged but they at least tired to appear older in their wardrobe styles and mannerisms. It was surprising what a good wardrobe did for aging. Wandering to the nearby door Yami paused from opening it, a sudden swell of intense grief hit him like a stone block and he choked, clutching at his chest. He slipped away and peered through the window into the small waiting room.
His lips parted in a soft sigh, seeing who the grief was being admitted from. Bakura stood before a father and mother, by the motions of his hands, his news was not good.
The Pharaoh watched silently, the sorrow of the moment building as Bakura spoke gently to the parents before him. He could see the emotions across their faces and knew the conversation was not of a warming nature. The mother broke into tears. The use of her legs crumbling as her husband caught her, settling her onto a seat as she sobbed openly. Bakura bowed his head before turning away, leaving them in their mourning.
Yami raised both eyebrows as his fellow spirit noticed him and shifted in his direction, closing the door behind him. The ex-thief gave a small sigh as though finally being released from a bond.
"Temmy?" Bakura'a hoarse whisper held none of his usual stinging demeanour, if anything, it was broken in weariness. "Not that I don't appreciate the visit, but what are you doing here?" The once thief king managed a weak smile of greeting. For the sake of them both appearing as human as possible, the contacts covering his usually fully black and red eyes, gave him an overall nice and frighteningly friendly look. Very un-Bakura like, but then again, the whole hospital was very un-Bakura.
"Afreika, you look deader than usual my friend." Yami touched Bakura's shoulder, squeezing it firmly. They could only really reveal their strength around each other, knowing neither could damage the other with their solid grips. It was always a worry around their lights, knowing that one slip up could end the mortal halves of their broken souls in hospital with cracked bones.
But two darks together meant neither could unintentionally hurt the other, the support they offered each other could never be understood by any mortal.
The exhausted doctor tipped his head to one side, rubbing his neck wearily as he cracked it to one side in a human motion before he dusted back his white short hair, contrasting to his dark Hebrew skin. From Ryou's letters, Yami knew Bakura had turned down numerous inquires into his personal-life, the nurses swooning over him for being a well proportioned, and apparently, good-looking man, aged in his early thirties. To the world outside, he was simply Doctor Bakura Amir, no relation to Ryou Bakura what so-ever and Ryou highly enjoyed telling stories of the Queens spies who were sent to 'discover' the 'truth' behind the secret lives they lived. It was all rather James Bond, which Yami knew Ryou highly enjoyed.
It irked Bakura.
But it there was one thing both he and his fellow dark lord kept in common, it was the sacrificial nature they submitted to their lights, and together they would suffer anything to keep Ryou or Yugi contently happy.
Bakura groaned, tipping his head back and thumping it upon a wall, "Sixteen hours Temmy...I actually thought she would make it. I was so damn sure she would make it!" He glanced back to the parents within the room, "the worst part is...the idiot that drove into her did make it. If he had been on my table, I would have let him die...damn it, I can't say that...shoot. You know, I could just go and kill him right now but I can't...that's the worst part about this bloody job."
"You can't change that, Bakura, you did your best, you always do." Yami murmured sadly, knowing the strength it took for his old friend not to run off to kill the offender. It took amazing amounts of self-control to not kill killers despite them both having the strength and abilities to do so and yet for the sake of their lights, they did not taint themselves anymore than needed. "Come on, I'll buy you a coffee and a meal."
Bakura nodded, "I would appreciate it. Caffeine...drug of the gods, honestly..."
"Sure thing Doc." Yami teased, side stepping as Bakura snarled, moving to kick him hard between the legs.
"Say that again, and I swear I will kill you with my bare hands."
Yami gave a twirl on his feet, "Oh...I am so scared..."
"You should be! Oie, Penny sweetie, I am taking my shift off." Bakura called to the nurse behind the counter, "be a good girl and make sure I'm not paged unless it's for the Queen herself."
The timid nurse nodded quickly. Yami hid a laugh as they passed by the desk, feeling Bakura fling an arm around his shoulder, making use of his short height compared to the thief's. He supposed being a leaning post wasn't beyond his dignity.
"You scare the poor girl witless."
"I know," chuckling Bakura ribbed the Pharaoh, "I love it. She's got a crush on me."
"You mean the you, you pretend to be?"
Yami grinned, "Well, I'm sure if she knew the real you, she'd run the other way."
"Wouldn't be too sure about that Temmy, girls of this century like bad-boys. I gotta keep them off Anakin, they're like leeches...I'm so glad Ryou decided to home-school the boy." The spirit snorted, "Not that he needs to know anything more. Freaking kid can do anything."
"Is he still working for the Secret Service?"
"Every now and then he tweaks a mobile for them I guess. Ryou's not too fond of it so Anakin tries to make sure he keeps his old man happy. He's a good kid."
Yami smiled. "Yes, he is."
"How's Yugi and the little one?"
"They are fine." Yami shrugged, opening a door and allowing Bakura through. They both paused at an elevator. "Yugi's trying to take things easy...Sol keeps him occupied I suppose...but you know my light."
Bakura gave a dark chuckle. "He never stays still."
"He always needs mental stimulation or he gets amazingly grouchy." Yami thinned his lips into an amused smile. "As for Sol? He is going well enough. Yugi had him tested for Aspegers the other week."
"Yeah...that's right, Ryou mentioned that. How'd it go?" With a curious tilt to his head Bakura tapped the down-ward button on the elevator. The doors dinged once and opened.
Together they stepped inward with a fluid movement.
"Negative. He can read emotions too well, among other things..."
"So, what? He's just a weird kid?"
Chuckling as he pressed ground floor Yami winced as the doors shut and the elevator jolted into movement. "His high intelligence in the visual arena cannot be laughed at. I suppose Yugi and I simply won't ever know the full extent of his intelligence until he decides to tell us."
"Yeah well," Bakura ribbed him playfully, "that'll teach you to clone yourself Pharaoh."
"I had nothing to do with it!"
"Yeah, but secretly, deep inside, you wanted a chance to be a Papa. Admit it, you want to clone Yugi again. That way you'll always be surrounded by love and affection." The ex-thief happily twirled in the elevator. "Admit it, you shouldn't be ashamed, we're darkness, we crave love and gooey things."
"Hell no, watching you squirm is delightful after a painful surgery."
"Glad I could be of use to you."
"You're my bitch, Pharaoh, admit it."
"I will never admit to being anyone's anything, let alone a female dog."
"You're Yugi's b-."
"Shut up! Damn it Bakura, leave my light out of this entire conversation please."
"Oh, but it was starting to get interesting..."
Slapping his friends head hard Yami heaved a sigh as the elevator door swung open. Bakura waved to the people outside as they exited and grinned at the confused stares they received from Yami's grumbles as the Pharaoh grabbed the ex-thief's arm and dragged him towards the small cafe.
"Come on, I've got a proposition for you." The Pharaoh released his friend's arm.
"A proposition?" Bakura frowned in seriousness as Yami wove his way through the chairs and tables till he reached a spot where a young man was sitting, reading a news-paper.
With an inquisitive tilt to his head Bakura smirked as the young man gave a startle motion from the seemingly silent approach of the two spirits.
"Bakura, you remember Cameron Mitchell?" Yami offered a wave.
"Ah," Bakura pointed at the young Colonel suddenly, "you're the chap who led the F-302's thingies into battle over Antarctica to save the Pharaoh's butt from the Replicators while Ryou and I figured out an Ancient device? I fixed your back, how are you legs treating you? Any minor pain? No? Good, good..." Sliding into a seat Bakura stole a menu from the table, peering over it before throwing it away, "oie, Pharaoh, get me food."
"What do you want?"
"Hot chips...I love chips."
"Cameron, would you like a meal?" Yami offered with a smile.
"He pays," Bakura jutted a thumb at the standing Pharaoh, "trust me, leech him for all he's got. He's a Pharaoh, that credit card is never ending."
"Sure." Cameron shrugged, "I'll have chips too then."
"Sweet, I like you already!" Bakura made to swing his legs onto the table.
Yami snagged his shoulder. "This is a hospital Bakura."
"I know, I work here." The thief grinned.
"Put your feet on that table and I swear I will drag you to the nearest man's room and whip your hide off with a cat'o'nine tails." Yami released his shoulder and moved off to the cafe counter.
Bakura slid his arms behind his head, "parent-hood changed that guy, I can tell you that much. Once it would have been, 'Bakura I will cut out your intestines and cook them before your very eyes before hanging you by your own gizzards then I'll decapitate your head and flush your eye-balls down the loo...' Now, all I get threatened with is a measly whipping." The ex-thief snorted, "He's a wuss in his old age."
Cameron stared blankly, not eternally sure what kind of expression he needed when faced with the white-haired dark lord. He gulped. The stories he had read, the tales he had heard whispered every-now and then of the English Lord and his darkness hadn't even begun to cover the creature now sitting across from him.
"Why so serious?" Bakura pouted playfully.
"Um...you're a doctor...right?" Deciding it was safer to talk than to stare at the oddly mesmerising white hair, Cameron fidgeted as he spoke.
"Best in the business, a surgeon actually...on many areas. What can I say, I have steady hands and I don't mind blood...why? Is it surprising to you that I, a creature of darkness, would bother?"
"True, I shouldn't be bothered." Bakura gazed to the ceiling, "but trust me when I say boredom changes you. And, what can I say, after a life time of killing it seemed natural to learn how to fix people. Still I can't save everyone." Bakura frowned darkly in memory. "Mortals with their stupid little fleeting lives...so easy to kill. Like snuffing out a candle..."
"Deep Bakura, careful, if you go to much deeper you might never come back up." Yami propped a table number onto the table surface and slid into his seat.
"I ordered your coffee." Yami tugged at his trench coat sleeves, not bothering to look at Bakura. "Cameron here is the new leader of SG1."
"Hit the jack-pot." Bakura pointed at Cameron. "Come on..." The ex-thief leered across the table at the young Colonel. "...Smile a bit, you got promoted big time."
"I wanted to work with SG1 but there is no SG1 to work with."
"Ah..." Bakura paused, frowned and looked to Yami. "Oh, that's right, you took up work on Earth to watch the pip-squeak after the Replicators."
Yami nodded. For the sake of Cameron he explained, "Yugi wasn't supposed to be there, Cameron, he had left SG1 only a few months before hand but the Ancient Outpost in Atlantis was needed to protect Earth and destroy the Replicators. Yugi was needed to help work it but expanded too much of his light keeping the Replicators back. I had to leave SG1 to be with him until he recovered enough that we could physically be apart again.
After that battle for Earth, Jack got promoted to General of the SGC, Sam took up work in Area Fifty-One to help Seto and Seth on integrating Asgard technology into the Star-Fleet, Teal'c's helping the Jaffa on Daraka and Daniel's hopefully...leaving with the Tombs to find an Asteroid to bring back to Earth and use as Docking Station."
"So...?" Bakura smiled at the waitress as she placed his coffee before him. Yami thanked her as she handed over two lattes to himself and Cameron. "What can I do for you then? I never was part of SG1, I was the hanger-on."
Yami sipped his coffee, smiling in silent delight as he sunk back into his chair.
"I'm offering you a spot." Cameron spoke suddenly, "On SG1, I'm trying to get everyone back together and you're needed...out there...you both are."
"Fighter you are." Bakura grinned as his plate of chips where put in front of him. "Alright, tell me about what you're planning and how you roped the Pharaoh into it. Give me the rundown."
Cameron looked hesitantly towards Yami. The Pharaoh simply smiled and gave a sideway motion of his head in encouragement. The young Colonel breathed in deeply.
Surprised that neither darkness looked at him as though he was insane in his fear of failing SG1 standards, Cameron felt himself slip into a general rhythm with the two eerie spirits. It was only part way through the conversation that he realised something peculiarly odd about the two illusions of humans. Sometimes they did not blink for extended periods of time, nor did they move and shift like a regular human would and if they did move, it was an imitation of a normal movement. They had to move at points; otherwise their stone still figures would become noticeable.
He found himself wondering just how they retained their bodies.
"With some difficulty." Yami suddenly interjected and Cameron closed his speech.
"Pardon?" He twisted towards Yami in surprise.
"Your thought patterns are all over the place Cameron, try to consecrate on one line of thought." The Pharaoh tipped his head thoughtfully, "and these bodies take a bit of work but they are worth the bother of being bombarded by physical stimuli. You need to understand, Bakura and I are difficult to control, if you wish us both to join you in the distant stars, you're going to need to be prepared to face the consequences of being in charge and having us knock you out because we disagree with you."
"Yeah," Bakura leered, "the Pharaoh's got deep anger issues...like...super deep. We're the darker sides of a soul, little Colonel. If you tear out that hidden shadow inside everyone, we're it, and we don't play nice when we get irritated."
"Okay, so, I'm asking for a world of trouble, right?"
"Yes." Yami chuckled. "You are."
"Hey, he's got guts," Bakura finished his last chip in mock delight, "and I like that. You'd get along well with my kid."
"So?" Cameron inched forward in his seat, "will you both come and rejoin the SGC?"
"Well," Bakura hummed, drumming his fingers upon the table, "I always did enjoy taking bodies apart more than putting them back together." He cracked a sinister grin, causing Cameron to jerk backwards in slight fright at the sudden demonic change of the man across the table. "Alright...I'll have a chat to Ryou this evening and get back to you."
Yami nodded, standing to his feet, "give my regards to Ryou, Yugi is missing him."
"Lights...honestly," Bakura leant back into his chair with a sigh, "you decide to take a job on earth so they don't feel pain and the next thing they know they're telling you to leave again..."
Yami shrugged, replacing his gloves, "whatever Yugi wants, Yugi gets." He flashed a smile in Cameron's direction, "you have him to thank for his, Cameron."
"Does he like chocolates?" Cameron raised his eyebrows.
Yami chuckled, "you know, in all the years we've been together, I have never once asked him that question. I have no idea if he does nor not."
"Damn glad you're not my boy-friend." Bakura snorted, "Honestly, Pharaoh, that's as bad as not knowing if your wife wants kids or something..."
"It's just chocolate Bakura. What, do you expect me to walk up to Yugi randomly one day and inquire 'Yugi, do you like chocolate?'"
"He's never said he likes chocolate?" Bakura frowned. "Ryou tells me he loves cream puffs all the jolly time. "
"Yes, well, Bakura," Yami places his hands upon the top of the table and smiled in all seriousness, though his tone said otherwise, "Yugi and I have this strong bond, a kind of relationship that is built upon more than just general knowledge about each other but a love forged by-."
"Oh for the love of all that is sweet and innocent, shut the hell up, Pharaoh."
"You cannot tell me to shut up, I am Pharaoh."
"I can too, I just did, shut up...oh look I did it again."
"Well, I'm ignoring you."
Cameron smiled inwardly. Life was going to be so much more interesting now.
He had forgotten the general business of the SGC, he had also forgotten how annoying Jack could be when amused. According to his undercover Priest-turned General, being ringed into rejoining SG1 was by far the best event of the year. Forgetting for a moment that the motion of sighing heavily was utterly useless when alone, Yami felt his chest expand the moment he touched back into their apartment living room.
He was home.
Though his mental presence could roam as far as it wished from the Puzzle, he would always be bound to the gold, there he would always be bound to his light. He had to admit, somewhere deep inside his half-soul, that the apartment had very much become home. Yugi had a way of making a place into a home.
In his absence it appeared both Yugi and Sol had gone ahead and put up the Christmas decorations and decked out the living room. The Christmas tree, however, still had yet to be covered in decorations. The decorating of the tree had always been Yugi's final act, always an act the light liked to do with him, as if in some way decorating it was a form of giving their family a little more normality.
The floor was clear of Sol's toys, and on the coffee table two mugs had been left. Yami frowned, his shadows flickering around as he shifted, sensing an unusual echoing presence in the air. Someone had been in the apartment during his absence. He frowned, picking up the scent of something different. His lips parted, realising just what it was.
Tea's perfume was distinct – distinct enough that he had not needed the giant Cleopatra themed bill-boards to know it was hers. Obviously the beautiful actress, sometimes model, had been visiting. He had no doubt it was about coining another 'group get together' which was Yugi's kind of gig, even if the light still feared his immortality, there was some air of acceptance that had begun to grow over his light in the passing of years.
The Pharaoh silently walked through the dark apartment, pausing at the door to Sol's room. He peered in and sensed the protective shadows smothering the small, brightly painted room. The boy lay curled up tightly with his ever present Pikachu, hopefully deep in slumber.
Yami shifted away and drifted down the small hallway, ignoring the use of walking in his own territory. In his apartment, he could act as godly and otherworldly as he wished, or so was the agreement he and Yugi had eventually come to. Here the two of them did not need to fear the abnormality of their lives. Sure, Yugi usually refused to use his unnatural abilities to do house-work, oping instead to 'be-human' and perform everything the way he thought they should be done, but there were things his light did that no other human would and often they were things the light had no idea he was even doing.
It was that eventual normality of his abilities that Yami knew the light feared. Someday, though, he would have to accept it. That wasn't today, and that was alright, they had the time.
Noting the small light admitted under the door of the master-bed room Yami fazed through it, dragging his cloak of shadows through the wood and into the dim light. He allowed his body to grow solid once more and looked towards Yugi.
The light in the room didn't come from the head-lamp above the bed. Instead, Yugi sat perched with legs crossed upon the surface of the bed, admitting a soft, pulsing glow to read the files scattered around him.
"Yugi, you'll ruin your eye-sight."
"Save's energy bills." Yugi glanced up, peering over the rim of his square glasses, "and therefore, the planet, since we only have one...until Ryou realises his evil plans for a New England could become reality... Welcome home, honey. Good day?"
Shaking his head in mirth Yami reached into his large trench-coat, "Yes, I suppose it was a 'good day'. Cameron...well...he has much potential, he is an interesting young man."
"Is always interesting."
"He's agreed, about time for him to start getting out in space..."
"Ah," Yugi smiled, "you'll have a playmate, how lovely, you can mind-crush people together." He began gathering up the files in front of him, packing them away into a bag at the bed side.
Pulling from his trench coat a box of chocolates Yami flung it onto the bed, to land perfectly beside Yugi.
The light of the room flickered as Yugi's admitted surprise. Yami winced as the brighter glow ebbed away to the dim glow Yugi usually allowed to reflect off his skin, the safe glow, any brighter and Yami was sure he would have to leave the room.
Yugi stared in confusion at the box. "Yami, how romantic, you got me chocolates." He paused, "wait is not Valentine's Day..."
Chuckling Yami pulled off his scarf and hung it on the rack in the wardrobe. "They're from Cameron, read the note." The Pharaoh twisted the firm hidden clip from out of his hair and let the tri-coloured locks fall down into place across his shoulders before dumping kegs and mobile out of his pockets onto the bedroom counter. He flicked his gaze at the mirror, watching was Yugi slid open a small envelope and silently read the contents.
The young man smiled tenderly from the words of the note. He slid off the bed. Carefully he placed the tiny card upon the bedroom counter beside an array of get-well cards before he slid his arms around the Pharaoh's shoulders.
"Tea's invited us over next weekend." Yugi breathed out.
Yugi rolled his eyes. "Yes, she popped around...she's been in the city for a bit of modelling work."
"If you can call naked photo-shoots wonderful?" Yugi snorted. "Don't answer that." He pointed a finger under Yami's nose as the Pharaoh smirked darkly.
"As you wish."
" Anyway, she's invited everyone. Even Ryou and Bakura. The Duellist Kingdom bunch she's dubbed us...so...?"
"So?" Yami brushed back a lock of the light's hair.
"Should we go?"
"I see no reason why not. Why? Were you planning anything else that weekend?"
Yugi puffed out his cheeks at the small jibe in his lack of social activities.
"Aibou, don't do that, you'll make me laugh and ruin the moment." Yami whispered at the sight Yugi made when pouting. "I'm going to miss you. One good thing about having a nine to five job was coming home...like a normal man."
"Yami, we are not normal. I mean, I am just clutching onto my humanity as it is. Come on, you'll live, I promise."
"Technically, I'm dead, so...I think the question is more, will you live?"
Yugi raised both eyebrows before his expression settled into a gentle smile. "I'll miss you too." It wasn't hard to admit, and he was sure Yami knew the hesitance in his voice wasn't from the words he spoke, but the emotions that came with them. Separation across vast distances was a strain on the Puzzle and therefore, on his mortal body as it fought to reconnect with the piece of soul missing. This continuous fight was what, in the end, kept them both animate, but it wasn't a pleasant way to live. Sometimes, it hurt.
Yugi breathed out deeply as the Pharaoh's figure faded slowly into darkness, smothering what light he did admit. Only the spirits red eyes remained as the shadows gathered and flickered playfully through the room. Yugi tensed as twisted up his legs and pulled at his arms. A soft freckle of light glistened in warning from the surface of his skin, he tightened his control of the swelling of energy wishing to be released and firmly centred his gaze upon the red eyes.
"Yami, we cannot do this tonight."
\Why?\ The voice didn't whisper in his ear, even though something flickered there. Yugi tipped his head away from the shadows.
He spoke up again, quicker, hoping he had the will-power not to give into the playful shadows daring him to release his light and fall into the darkness. "Because you have to get up tomorrow morning and if we try to join you'll exhaust your shadows and be amazingly grumpy tomorrow. Yami, I am warning you...don't..."
The Pharaoh's illusionary form gathered together once more and Yugi folded his arms firmly over his chest to level the darkness with a firm glare.
"Hey, at least I have self-control. You're a self-harm addict. I'm not."
The ancient king pouted. "Here I am grumbling that you ended up with that aspect of our personality. You know, I had great self-control before you took it all form me."
"Not my fault you decided to split your soul."
"No." Yugi raised both eyebrows, "Though I would highly enjoy creating a small super-nova inside of myself again, the last time we tried getting high on each other I was a mess for a couple days afterwards and I had to have Grandpa and Emily baby-sit Sol."
"That's because you overdosed on shadows." Yami brushed at the light's hair, "next time I'll pull my half away quicker. It is just so lovely to be near your light and then...when our soul reconnects..." Yami smiled faintly, his eyes glazing in recollection, "it's almost as if I can feel again...even just for a second...I'm alive."
"I am glad, Yami..."
"So am I, Aibou."
"Pharaoh!" Sol's soft little voice squeaked out.
They wrenched apart in surprise and turned in unison towards the suddenly open door of the master bedroom to see Sol standing in his overly large night-wear, clutching his Pikachu tightly as though his little life depended upon the toys presence.
Yugi covered his mouth, smothering a sudden laugh behind it. He hid his head into Yami's shoulder and the Pharaoh felt the light laugh into it.
Sol stood, rubbing sleep from his eyes, the tiny boy seemingly not all together awake.
"Solomon." Yami spluttered, glanced to the clock on the bed-stand. "It's almost one in the morning, what are you doing up?"
"The monster under my bed won't go away." Sol ran into the bedroom, grabbing Yami tightly around the legs, "make it go away...Daddy! Make it go, quickly, before it eats my dust bunnies!"
Yami sighed as he reached down and plucked the boy off the floor. "What are we going to do with that monster that terrorises my Prince and his pet dust bunnies? Come on, let's go see if I can teach it a lesson. Aibou, get some sleep."
"What about the monster under my bed?" Yugi tipped his head to one side as he collapsed onto the bed and yawned.
Yami flashed a leered grin as he exited, "usually he's on your bed Aibou, not under it."
Grabbing the nearest pillow Yugi flung it hard at the retreating king. "Atemu!"
His manor upon his estate was by far one of the grandest built, in his personal, totally bigot opinion. Maybe it was simply because of the prime condition it had been kept in due to the magic imbedded into its bricks and woven through its corridors or maybe it was simply because of the tender love and care the peasants...wait...no, peasants wasn't the right word was it?
"Hired help..." Ryou mumbled with a frown, "I must remember to called them hired-help...or...the town-folk..."
In so many ways he no longer liked the society he lived in. It was wrong. It felt wrong. He almost wanted to pick up his entire Estate, the town below it and dump it on some other planet to begin his own England, the way he wanted England to be, the fantasy England.
"Fancy that Snow," the lord glanced down at the puffy white cat upon the longue beside him, the pretty creature grooming herself contently, "I'm sounding like my darker half, I want to own a planet." He bent forward, hugging the heavy coating around his shoulders as he reached for the pot of tea upon a small, marble table in the centre of the pristine garden out-house a good distance from the main manor.
Maybe it wasn't the smartest thing to be out in the garden out-house in the middle of a thunder-storm, drinking tea, but there was nothing better in his mind than watching the rain batter furiously upon the glass nor to watch lightening strike across the green hills he owned. After all, he was perfectly safe and warm from the boiling heat of the stove bubbling with flames. The large ferns and array of colourful plant life his father had collected over years of travels almost acted like insulation, keeping in the tight warmth.
He leaned himself back, taking a sip of the tea and sighing in relief.
A small gasp escaped his lips as the Ring grew heavy for a brief moment, causing him to automatically lean forward as if accommodating the weight of the ancient item. In front of him he watched as Bakura's shadows gathered like thin threads quickly building the spirits physical form. Ryou raised an eyebrow, amused that the dark lord appeared in front of him mid-way through the action of taking off his black gloves. He cast them onto the marble table before collapsing with a puff of shadows onto the couch beside the light.
Snow hissed, the cat scratching bitterly at the ex-thief. Bakura snarled back, flashing fangs. Throwing up her tail the cat leapt off the table, sending him a glare before vanishing into the thick gardens.
"Sorry I'm late, there was a major car-accident and I was paged to patch up a kid...but...I'm home." He spread his arms and did a small mocking bow.
"I noticed." Ryou smiled in mirth, sipped his tea again as Bakura swung up both legs onto the couch and rested his head back onto the light's lap with a long, heavy, all-to-human sigh. "Snow still hates you?"
"She's a demon-witch cat from the depths of hell. I hate her too."
"She's a house cat 'kura."
"An immortal cat."
"She's immortal because I love her, don't complain. She keeps me company."
Bakura drew silent for a moment, his mind elsewhere.
Ryou sipped is tea, waiting patiently. The Ring was heavy, there was obviously a lot on the spirits mind and he had learnt long ago to simply let the dark lord mull over his thoughts and never press an issue.
Bakura said what he wanted in his own time. They were equal in such a manner. Thoughtful in the presence of each other but brash and forthright when in company of others. It was little wonder the peasants...no...the town-folk came to him for very direct advice. He had become terribly blunt in his middle-age. They usually put up with him for the sake of him being apparently loveable, at least according to the general population of women in the town.
"Well, at least you don't own a Lynx or something..."
"Oh, I should think about getting one, what a lovely idea, they're endangered...I could start a collection of endangered cats..."
"To go with your new England planet?"
"Yup." Ryou popped his lips.
The light smiled and looked down at the spirit lounged over his lap, "yes?"
"There are many uninhabited planets out there...I could find you one."
Ryou felt a slight blush touch his cheeks. "Heavens, 'kura, that's the most romantic thing you've ever said."
Bakura sat up suddenly, looking slightly embarrassed. "Well...I...could..."
"Alright..." Taking a long drink of his tea Ryou curled up his legs under the heavy rug around him, "how are you going to find me a planet for my New England in which I can set up my dynasty?" Oh, he knew he was saying it in mockery but truthfully, a part of him dared it, and that part of him Bakura most defiantly knew.
An ever so slightly sheepish expression lifted over Bakura's features before he glanced away and barely whispered. "Pharaoh would like me to join SG1."
Ryou raised his eyebrows. So. That was what his darkness had been trying to get to.
The light smiled, setting aside his tea, "I thought SG1 disbanded...Yami said he was focusing on making sure Yugi recovered after...well...everything I suppose. Poor chaps had it a little rough over the years...and he is so small. I'm amazed his body isn't black and blue."
Bakura leaned to the marble table, pouring himself his own tea, dunking three table-spoons of sugar into his china cup, ignoring the mirth coming through their mental link from Ryou. "Got a new kid on the block who's stirring up a bit of the oldies. Pharaoh's got that fire look in his eyes...something's coming, I can feel it in my gut."
"So...you think you'll jump on the band-wagon then?"
Bakura's black inky eyes flicked in the light's direction thoughtfully, "someone has to keep the Pharaoh's arse covered."
Ryou peered over his spectacles at the darkness, "and I take it that someone is you?"
"Who else would it be?"
"That pompous dead-priest can hardly hold a fork in his illusionary fingers. Anyway, he is far too busy inventing and running schools for his inventions..."
"Right..." Ryou raised both eyebrows in amusement, "so...you and Yami are going to...let me see...team up?"
"It's not impossible."
"Our galaxy might not survive."
"Temu and I are ancient dark spirits; I think we can handle our selves. Even if I wish to smash his head against a wall at particular moments..."
"Oh please," Ryou smiled, reaching for his book once more and replacing his head upon the dark spirits lap, "you and Yami get along like a house on fire. If both you actually admitted, for once, your endearing brotherly affection of each other the world would sleep in peace."
"We can't admit it." Bakura said softly, bending forward and propping his elbows to his knees and his palms to his cheeks in contemplation.
Ryou glanced up in surprise at the tone of the dark lord. "Pardon?"
"We can't admit that we consider each other brothers because if we did...it would be like...forgetting everything that transpired. It would like...we...where putting aside the pain, the suffering, the destruction we caused...we...cannot do that. We must always remember. Remembering keeps us from becoming...darkness."
"Oh, 'kura...but...you where being controlled by a Goa'uld..." Placing a hand upon the spirit's arm Ryou leant forward. "Yami knows that."
"I know he does, and he knows I know it and well...that's about as far as we're going to get. Even if I was being controlled by a Goa'uld, Ryou, I still feel like a part of me still hated him for being the son of the man who destroyed my village. I was human once, and humans just...harbour odd things inside. Come on, admit it, you and Yugi may get along like brothers but deep inside...you feel it too, that programmed response to him because once he was Pharaoh and once you where me, his General. You and Yugi have your little tiffs at each other because you knock heads, not outside, but inside. Your mortal bodies remember the past...even if you don't."
"Goodness, that's getting rather deep. I guess...you and Yami have discussed this?"
Bakura chuckled darkly, wrapping an arm around the light and pulling him close as a crack of thunder shook the glass of the out-house, "many long nights we have spent watching both you and Yugi sleep, we've had the time to talk."
"So...inside you admit you're both brothers in arm but outside..."
"I hate his guts."
"Alright...well..." Ryou curled up tightly. "Makes sense to me." He closed his eyes, contently enjoying the peace of simply being there, in the storm, with the only solid thing in his life who happened to not really have a solid body but a Ring around his neck.
"So..." Bakura's chest inflated and Ryou felt it breathe out, though their came no heart-beat or sound of working lungs from within. It was simply a throw-back motion of a spirit who remembered being mortal.
"Do you want me to find you a planet?"
Smiling Ryou pulled himself up, raising both pale hands we smoothed them through the dark lord's shortly chopped white hair, "Yes, find me a planet."
"As you wish."
"What do you think of King Ryou?"
"Hmmm, doesn't quite have a ring to it...stick with Lord Ryou."
Yami stared around the half packed office that Yugi had also once inhabited. Now it was just Daniel Jackson's again, though from the looks of the boxes and piles of packing gear, it was soon to be just another office of the SGC.
Daniel, Priest of the Scales, was shipping out to join Malik and the Tombs in discovering and towing back a meteor for both mining and as a docking station for Seto and Seth's Star-fleet Federation training grounds. It was all going to take almost a good decade to develop but the sooner they started the sooner Earth would earn her place in the stars once more.
Daniel rounded the corner into the small office space, arms full of books for packing. He stumbled to a stop at the sight of the slightly floating Pharaoh in his path.
Yami dropped back to solid ground, giving a sheepish smile.
"Yami!" Daniel fumbled for a moment, quickly putting down the books he carried on a bare area of the table before holding out a hand to the ancient king. "Good to see you again? How's Yugi?"
"Yugi is well." Yami took the hand, giving it a gentle shake in greeting. "But you already know that."
Daniel shrugged, "yeah, but Ishziu tries to insist I act like I don't know things. Is...er...kind hard being the barer of truth and stuff..." He rubbed at his neck in slight embarrassment.
Yami chuckled. "I'll take your word for it."
"Sooo..." Daniel grabbed the books and slotted them into a nearby box, "what do I owe this visit? I thought you were keeping an eye on Kinsey out in the real world? According to Jack the guy is being a real pain."
Chuckling Yami folded his arms across his chest and leant back upon a bare wall, "I was for awhile, but if Kinsey wants something he can come and ask me...and I thought you would have left with the Tombs by now?"
"I would have," Daniel rolled his eyes, "but unlike you, I have no shadow-magic to help with packing my office. I'm about as useful as Jack half the time...no, no, there is a Tomb waiting for me in orbit. Ishziu's Tomb."
"Ah, so Malik gave her one then?"
"Yeah and...wow...you should have heard their argument. Talk about sibling love. I think Malik was just putting it on though, to irk her, he was intending on giving her one the entire time..."
Yami raised both eyebrows. "Good for you both, have many children and fill it."
"I'm not kidding." Yami smirked.
"Okay, your highness," Daniel pulled out more books and spun on his heels, "if you're not here to wave your hands and help me pack, what are you here for?"
"I'm here on behalf of Colonel Mitchell." Yami pushed away from the wall and gave a small wave of his hand. The remaining books upon the shelf vanished and reappeared within the boxes allocated for them.
"Oh, yes, I heard he got the job as new leader of SG1. Good call, he's like a miniature Jack...um...what I can do for him? Does he want my apartment? I can give him my apartment." Daniel fished for keys in the pockets of his pants. Yami chuckled, gently shaking his head. He waved a hand in a cutting motion.
"No, Daniel...Mitchell wishes you to rejoin SG1."
The Priest of the Scales dead-panned him with a stare. "You're kidding right?"
"Pharaoh, I know I owe him, we all do, but I'm heading off." The archaeologist priest waved his hands in the air.
"I know you are." Yami patted his shoulder, "but give it some more thought Daniel. I know for you, the temptress is waiting, but I would feel more comfortable being out there with you by my side. Good luck with the packing." The Pharaoh smirked in leaving. "And the babies I foresee!"
He ignored the groan from behind as he wandered down the long twisting corridors, hands deep into his pockets. He flicked his eyes around, studying the faces of the SG personnel who worked and lived a lie amongst a planet of unsuspecting humans who had no idea of the wonders that lay hidden under a mountain nor beyond the border of atmosphere. He turned around a corner and quickly fazed out of physical form as he was walked right through. The air-personnel paused in fright and turned towards him.
Yami realigned his form with the right plain of existence, shifting shadows back into a solid body. He chuckled at the white faced woman-technician. "Not a problem. Happens all the time." With that he turned and continued onward towards the mess hall.
The day's usual travel and business had picked up already, therefore the mess-hall was void of most life apartment from the odd straggler who had missed breakfast. He peered around and noted SG-4 busily gobbling down a first decent meal in what he figured was a number of days. He waved to them as he passed by.
"Long hall?" He offered.
"Got stuck on P9X-392...storm cut us off from the Gate."
"Glad you made it home then." Yami inclined his head. "Good luck on your mission briefing." He mocked a thumbs up, hearing a an overall moan and grumble from the SG-team as he moved on towards Colonel Mitchell and Bakura seat in a corner of the mess hall.
Bakura flicked a knife readily in the air and Cameron watched him slightly, seemingly entranced by the movements Bakura could pull with the blade. He gave a start as Yami placed a hand upon his shoulder.
"So, what did he say?" Cameron practically lunged up from him his seat at the return of the Pharaoh.
"No." Yami offered, pouring himself coffee. He seated himself.
Cameron's chest fell.
"Have faith, Cameron," Yami patted his shoulder, "Daniel is a Priest first and foremost, and he knows this..."
"You're so devious Pharaoh." Unlinking his legs from atop the table Bakura stood. He waggled a finger at the royal dark spirit.
The Pharaoh gave a haunting leer, "I know."
"Guess we head to Dakara then? To see Teal'c." Cameron grabbed his jacket from the back of his chair.
"Hey, cool, I've wanted to see the Jaffa home world and the old T-man again." Bakura gave a cheered whoop.
"Can I at least finish my coffee?" Yami stared at the black liquid in the paper cup. Half wondering why he wanted to finish the horrible abomination that was instant coffee, what he really needed was a real Espresso. Maybe he had time to take a quick shadow-port to Italy.
"No," Cameron pointed as he walked backwards, "time cannot be wasted, the world might need saving."
"Stop and smell the roses." Bakura snorted at the vanishing young Colonel, "Heck," the ancient spirit looked to Yami as the Pharaoh stood sipping his coffee, "what have you got me into Pharaoh?"
"Destiny." Yami grinned and patted Bakura's mop of chin length, frazzled white hair, "Our destiny."
"Bitch," Bakura hissed through barred teeth.
"Jerk." The king grumbled back.
The planet Dakara, from the stories and legends that had survived, had originally been inhabited by the Ancients, those allusive great beings that had left foot-prints across the galaxy. The Jaffa believed it to be the first planet the Ancients had landed upon when first they arrived within the Milky Way.
Such a belief, Yami figured, stemmed from the existence of the super-weapon hidden within the volcanic remains of a great mountain. A super-weapon, or a creation-machine for it had given rebirth to life within the galaxy after some form of devastating plague they knew had transpired.
Yet to the Jaffa the super-weapon meant little.
Dakara had much more symbolism than any Ancient leaving technology there. Come the disappearance of the Ancients the planet had fallen under the control of the Goa'uld and as history told it had been the place the false gods had preformed the first Prim'tah ritual. It was the place of their enslavement.
Yami smiled faintly.
It was also the place of their freedom.
The fall of the Goa'uld had not been their victory.
Not the victory of SG1.
They had not brought down the false god's of old. The victory had been won through the aid of creatures made of iron who consumed everything in their path. Yami could still feel the horror he had felt the first time he had gazed at a Replicator, a creature so alien it had chilled his dark soul, he had hardly been able to believe they could exist in a place other than the Shadow-Realm.
They had come like a plague, maybe, like the locusts sent from the Hebrew God during his great-great-great grandfather's reign.
Yet no matter how much he had feared them, they had done the impossible, they had defeated the Goa'uld and in turn, a few remaining Goa'uld, seeing their obvious demise, and SG1 had defeated the Replicators with Ancient technology found on a stunningly beautiful world; the long begotten home world of the Jaffa, Dakara.
The defeat of the Goa'uld had left a vacuum form of peace in the galaxy; many different factions of humans fighting to gain dominance and somewhere in the mess of it the Jaffa were struggling to built up their nation as a whole when they had spent thousands of years in enslavement and in war with each other.
Yami rubbed at the back of his neck, feeling slick moister lingering under the collar of his loose jacket. He had chosen the third state of his illusionary form, the state he did not use often, only around Yugi for the most special of moments when his partner needed it, or if he was forced to be as human and alive as he could possibly get – such as those times he had to suffer being in a room-full of governmental officials who had no idea he was a spirit. This form was super-realistic, he could imitate a heart-beat, sweat and even blood, it was also a form that allowed him to eat naturally, the food being consumed turning into energy to keep the illusion of realism functioning. Yet it came at a price. The physical realm stuck to him like plastic to a dying fish, he could already feel the slick covering of invisible molecules and particles sticking to him.
But, it was part of his job to endure such things and here on Dakara he would honour the Jaffa with his physical presence, not just his mental presence and the illusionary form he usually took on missions that did not suffer the same kind of bombardment from a universe trying to reject him for being a germ.
Slipping sunglasses over his eyes Yami stepped down from the risen platform that held the Stargate within the square before the volcanic temple that was the hive of the Jaffa's new forming government. There were two things one would instantly notice about Dakara when first arriving upon the planet. One was the odd tinged colour of the atmosphere that coloured the entire world in a hue unlike Earths cool-blue. The sky was reddish like the kick-up of Australian desert-dust, muggy and unnatural, but the earth was in no-way barren like the surface of red Mars. Beautiful, luscious trees were scattered across high terrains of old volcanos that ringed the growing city but due to the strange colouring the leaves did not look green, but instead were purplish in their glow. Everything was alien. Even the grass under his feet between the stones towards the Stargate was a coppery purple.
The second thing about Dakara was the smell.
It was not a smell of humans, it was a smell of Jaffa. Yami wrinkled his nose, hating another thing about being a spirit, his over-stimulation of every human sense. Honestly, sometimes it was like he was being rather rudely slapped across the face.
Beside him Bakura was pulling a face. "I hate having to remember to breathe sometimes..."
Yami chuckled, "I know..." He sucked in a breath, letting himself sort it out automatically, ignoring the taste in the air that told his mind he was no longer on Earth. He had to remember that everything he was doing now was practise, someday he would need to be stronger with his manipulation of the physical realm if he was to protect the Milky Way.
Cameron was looking around like a school-boy on a high, gazing at every possible sight he could possibly spot as they walked slowly through the ceremonial arch-ways leading down from the Stargate.
The Pharaoh smiled in silent pride, admiring just what the once repressed nation of proud people had done to the beautiful stonework that had once stood in ruins. In the six-months since the Replicators had defeated the Jaffa and they had defeated the Replicators with the Ancient creator-weapon, they had done an astounding job.
Despite the use of technology, the world had a rustic and ancient feeling to it, even though most of everything was brand new. Overhead, Ha'ak and Cal'tesh's glided through the air, their sounds like the airplanes of earth yet far more frequent.
"I must say, I like what they've done with the place. Reminds me a bit of what Earth used to be like back in my day," Yami chuckled as a ship glided over head, "ancient Egypt used to be full of such vigour and the smell of spice imported from distant planets."
Realigning his sunglasses Cameron threw him a grin, "man I wish I had known about Ancient Egypt being technology advanced back in high-school, that would have made one heck of a good report."
"Yes, well, Daniel's paper on the Pyramids being landing pads for space-ships didn't go down well, even though we did build them to be landing pads as well as tombs. My ship was grand in her day, and my pyramid reflected that grandeur."
"Yeah, until Zork put a big gun to the pretty pyramid...you're lucky your ship survived for Malik to trot around in." Bakura slung in between them both, using their shoulders as a catchment to his momentum. "Heck, I love this place! Come on, let's find T-man the Eye-man."
Bakura swept past them both, leaping onto each large stone embedded into the red earth and purple grass underfoot.
Yami shook his head as he followed the ex-thief. He settled his eyes upon the ancient volcano that the city had been built around and the temple that lay within the bowl of the volcano. Convincing Teal'c to return to Earth and not aid his people in rebuilding their scattered society was a big ask, and he doubted very much so that Cameron was going to manage his hopes and dreams of getting SG1's original's back together. Then again, Yami smiled inwardly, he had seen miracles happen before. Cameron Mitchell was right about one thing, the galaxy did need saving, just from who and what, was the million dollar question.
For now, they all had to make the most of the strained peace.
Bakura tugged as his black air-force clothing, trying to figure out just what it was he was missing in his outfit. In the main foyer of the council chamber they waited patiently, standing amongst the high pillars that had been salvaged and restored from the original Ancient monument that had once stood in the volcano.
"Those Ancients," Bakura muttered, "sure knew how to leave things behind. You'd think they would be smarter about where they left their super-weapons." He cleaned his useless sunglasses and slipped them into the pocket of his vest-coat. Flicking his dark red eyes towards Yami, Bakura gave the Pharaoh a once over and pursed his lips thoughtfully.
"Oie, you listening to me?"
"Sorry?" Yami's image fazed out for a moment, whisky shadows lapped around him and he shifted around, forming a solid body once more. "I was deep in thought about something..."
"I noticed." The ex-thief chuckled, eyeing a passing Jaffa female strolling by. "I'm glad these guys figured out how to live without Goa'uld larva in their guts..."
"That may be so," Yami frowned darkly, "but look around Bakura," he motioned with hands, "they have thousands of years of slavery and anger between their factions to fan out. It is a mess. They won't be allies for a long time. The Goa'uld did their damage and they do not trust the Tau'ri nor me to aid them..."
Bakura twitched his shoulders. "I guess I see your point. People of Earth were lucky you opened the Shadow-Realm and kicked the Goa'uld off long enough for us to be all happy-lappy-humans."
"Oh," Yami looked to his fellow spirit, "you're complementing me. Shall I mark this day on my calendar..."
"I see that neither of you have changed." Teal'c's firm and deep voice resonated from behind them. Bakura's grin widened and he spun around to thump the Jaffa heavily in the chest. Cloaked in a large white gown, patterned and spun from a fabric that almost glistened, it was strange to see the warrior Jaffa turned into a member of a parliament. The Millennium Eye was well hidden from view, a patch having covered it, to anyone other than those who knew, it was simply a war wound.
"T-man. Good to see you!" Bakura sized the warriors hand firmly, giving it a strong shake.
Cameron jogged up, panting from the dash down the stairs of the temple. "Damn, those stairs..." He brushed at his hair and looked to Teal'c, "how do you go up and down them everyday?"
"With some difficulty."
"You should install a lift or something." The young Colonel puffed out his cheeks for a moment before he slapped his hands together, grinning at the three. "Well, say hi everyone."
The Jaffa raised an eyebrow at the young man before he turned slightly towards Yami and gave a small incline of a bow.
"Pharaoh, it is an honour for you to visit Daraka. Had I known you where coming, I would have organised for you to visit the Council."
Yami shook his head at his Priest, "I do not wish to make your people fearful of me nor think that I wish to rule them Teal'c. They may see as much as much a distrustful false-god as the Goa'uld where."
"You are still the legendary Pharaoh, in that, you have our respect."
Yami inclined forward in a small honourable bow of grace. "Thank you."
"Is Yugi well?"
The Pharaoh laughed in mirth, "Everyone seems to ask that. Yes, he is quite fine."
"I am glad." Teal'c's gaze softened slightly. "And the Prince?"
"Sol is his usual self...Yugi is greatly concerned about his shadow-magic coming into full development soon and neither of us are quite sure of what to do when it happens. When I was his age, my father locked me in a chamber for weeks until I balanced myself out but doing that to Solomon would be rather difficult. His shadow-magic, after all, is not like mine was...also...there is the whole child-protection laws we need to consider. We get enough trouble already from the authorities..." Yami sighed heavily. "Neighbours, honestly, they don't know how to take a hint..."
"Is there a possible way in which you could contain his shadows?" Teal'c frowned.
Yami smiled, "Yugi is looking into it, and when Yugi looks into something, he usually finds an answer."
"So," Bakura glanced around the foyer, "I love what you've done to the place. I recall I tore this place up pretty good...heh...doesn't even look like I was here!"
"Indeed." Teal'c nodded, "it has been a mammoth effort to repair your damage." He smiled in pride.
"Yup," Cameron slapped a large column, "its got a real high council feel to it. I do hope you've taken lots of before and after pictures."
"I must inquire," looking at the three of them thoughtfully the Jaffa settled his eyes upon Cameron, "for what do I owe this visit? Where is the rest of your team Colonel Mitchell?"
Yami glanced to Bakura and they both smirked. The Eye did give Teal'c an edge in communication, but the oddest thing was the Jaffa very rarely, if ever, activated it on the account of seeking information he could easily get by asking.
\He really was the right choice you know.\ Bakura slumped an arm around Yami's shoulder casually, \guy won't abused the shadows even if you asked him too.\
\Well, he is a Jaffa and has lived under tannery all his life, he knows the meaning of strength and power.\
\Yeah, still, I would use it more.\
\I know you would.\ Yami rolled his eyes.
Cameron pointed to Yami and Bakura, "my team thus far; two dark spirits. We're...here...because I was hoping you could help me."
Teal'c pursed his lips as he folded his arms behind his back, his long white robe shifted at the movement as his brow furrowed. "I can offer some names of those I consider to be honourable warriors."
"I'd appreciate that. I know you're busy." Cameron nodded.
"We're attempting to build a whole new system of government that will span Jaffa worlds throughout the galaxy." Teal'c almost sighed.
Yami pushed away from the pillar he leant against, "I hear it is not going so well."
"Indeed, Pharaoh, it is not."
"I heard Major Davis and SG-7 are trying to aid." The Pharaoh reached into a pocket attached to his belt, pulling out a small i-pad and glancing over it briefly, "their last mission report I received didn't sound very positive."
"It has caused problems as well. Many view the Tau'ri with the same level of mistrust as a would be enemy. They see the proposed system of government as a means to control and subvert their acquired freedom. My allegiance to the Tau'ri is not serving me as well as you might think in the votes from the most traditional Jaffa electorate."
Bakura snorted, "Heck. Politics really does suck everywhere you go."
Teal'c gave a small smirk in the direction of his white haired friend, "indeed."
"Can't you just, use the Eye and figure out what your opposition is doing and then crush them in the opinion polls?" Bakura pounded a fist into the flat of his hand.
Teal'c have an uncharacteristic smile of mirth at the ex-thief, "if I did that, Thief King, I would be no better than the god's we over-threw."
"Yeah, thought you'd say that."
Cameron interjected, giving Teal'c a slap on the shoulder. "Well, listen, hey, maybe its a good thing we game by...if this doesn't work out and you know, before all the space on the team fills maybe you could..."
A Jaffa woman ran up suddenly, paused and stared at Yami for a brief moment before she turned to Teal'c. "Teal'c. The Council is returning from recess."
Teal'c's expression darkened. "I must go." He bowed towards Yami. "My Lord."
"Be safe Teal'c." Yami waved as the warrior left in a flurry of his white robe, the Jaffa woman quickly following him.
Cameron's chest deflated. "Well...that didn't go so well."
Yami replaced his sunglasses over his blood red eyes and turned to the large entrance into the temple, "Colonel," he placed a hand upon Cameron's shoulder as they exited the interior, "Teal'c has an obligation to his people and I released him to do what he wished, he has desired for the Jaffa to be free and now they are."
"They're sounding more trapped then ever if you ask me." Bakura snorted, wrapping his arms behind his head as they started down the long stairs back into the city below. "I wouldn't be if surprised is a civil war on the bringer."
Yami gazed over the shimmering horizon, the red shine in the sky looking for a moment like the staining of blood upon a wall. Sadly he couldn't help but agree with his fellow spirit. Maybe it was something about their disembodiment and being upon another plain of existence, but they both had that sixth sense when it came to death and unrest amongst mortals.
The Jaffa may have been free on the outside, but inside, they were still caged by the Goa'uld that had enslaved them.
From the shadows of the control-room void of most of the usual skeleton crew that worked night-shifts Yami hid in silence. By all rights he should have been home, tucking Sol into bed and curling up in front of the heater with Yugi, listening to his lights gentle breathing pattern and simply being thankful that he had such blessings. Yet, here he was, worried and irritated. Cameron was not taking things well, his interviews with possible new people for SG1 had not gone well and Yami had to admit, he had not liked any of the possible people on line-up for an SG1 position. He had nothing against any of them, for he was sure they were great in their fields but none had clicked. The one thing that had made SG1 work was that they had been a family.
Cameron was currently perched in the dim lights of the control-room, facing a computer screen with Colonel Samantha Carter's image from a web-cam being displayed.
The Priest of the Necklaces eyes were gentle, though outlined in weary bags from the obvious stress of her overtaxing work with Seto and Seth. The problems faced with the new hyper-drive engines on the enterprise-019 line of ships were proving to be an ever increasing headache. Not to mention Yami knew just how much the woman worked with the young duellist recruits, almost as if the woman foresaw how important the next generation was going to be.
Cameron clipped on his mike and Yami listened to the conversation thoughtfully. Half wondering if he should inform Yugi of Sam's currently exhausted looking state; his light would very happily take up teaching in the Academy's if it was asked of him.
"Hi Cameron." Sam's voice was high-pitched over the speakers.
"Hey Sam." Cameron gave a small wave at the camera. "Good to see you."
"Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. We have been up to our ears double checking the new hyper drive. Then the uplink was jammed with the long range plotting program being transmitted by the Asgaurd...anyway...no need to bore you with the details. How have you been, you look good." She graced him with a warm smile.
"Thanks. Listen Sam. Come back and join SG1." Cameron went straight to the point.
Yami tensed at the firm and tight emotion the young Colonel admitted. He really had no belief in himself, it was almost painful to sense, such a deep pit of despair. The Pharaoh thinned his red eyes, wondering just what could be done about such a hole in a strong soul.
"I heard you'd been given command of SG1. Congratulations." Sam chimed. Her hand moved to the collar that covered her neck in an almost unconscious movement but Yami noted it. He smirked. The woman never missed a beat.
"I'm not kidding," Cameron insisted, "you can keep an eye on the ships and things in your spare time just like you always have and...they could find someone else to take your place teaching...and plus...Doctor Lee's been pouting because you got to work with Seto and Seth and he wanted to."
"Really?" Sam's eyes widened slightly.
"No, I made that up."
Yami chuckled to himself. Sam could not see something that didn't exist after all, there were ways to get around the Necklace and he dreaded the idea of their enemy knowing such a fine detail about his Court.
Sam shook her head, "I have my reasons for wanting this job."
"I had my reasons for wanting this job too." Cameron inched forward on his seat. "One of them was working with you and please, don't say that's nice."
"You got the Pharaoh on board Cameron."
"Yeah...but..." The young Colonel scratched his head, "no offence to him or anything, but I think he's only going along with me because Yugi told him too...I get the impression I'm this new kid on the block and everyone hates me..." Cameron paused suddenly and blushed, "um...can we pretend I didn't say that."
Sam nodded kindly, "done."
A voice over an intercom in the background sounded suddenly, "Lieutenant Colonel Carter to the bridge. Lieutenant Colonel Carter, report immediately to the bridge."
Sam turned in the direction of the intercom, "sorry, I have got to go."
"Yeah." Cameron sadly sighed, "hey, buy you breakfast when you get back on solid ground."
Sam grinned, pointed at the camera on her side of the link, "You're on. See you soon." The image on the screen faded away.
Cameron shoved back into his chair and collapsed with a heavy sung sigh. He scrubbed a hand through his short scruffy locks.
"Doesn't look like I'm getting the band back together."
"Have a little faith, Lieutenant Colonel Cameron Mitchell." Yami pulled out of the shadows, forming a solid body. Cameron spun around in his chair and stared in surprised horror at the emergence of the dark spirit's overwhelmingly powerful presence. The control room seemed to groan as shadows twisted and twirled throughout the technology, snuffing out all light in the area.
"Um...how long...have you been there?"
"Awhile." Yami grinned darkly, his red eyes shifted as his body wavered and he vanished, reappearing in a seat beside the desk of computers overlooking the Stargate in the gate-room below. "Cameron," Yami placed this hands into his lap, "give things a little time...I have a feeling..." the Pharaoh glanced towards the looming shadow of the Stargate, silent and ever watchful of their movements. "A feeling that tells me things are going to happen soon..." He turned back to face the young Colonel, "and you and I are going to be good friends."
"Anyone who has the guts to say they think I hate them has enough guts to get along with me." Yami rose in a swell of shadows and wandered away, giving a back handed wave, "good night, Colonel Mitchell, try to get some sleep."
Yugi bent all the way into the front-loader drier of the apartment blocks Laundromat. His warm slippers on the tiled floor slid and he slapped down, his chest hitting the rim of the machine.
"Ouch..." He hissed, pulling out and touching his chest, figuring it was going to bruise. "Gosh...here I am, possibly the most powerful human on the planet getting beaten up by a washing-machine." He sat back, giving a smile of amusement at the oddness of his thought patterns. He wasn't powerful, he was immortal yes, he had abilities that put in him a realm of supernatural, but he was still under it all, flesh and blood.
He had yet to figure out if he liked the monotonous way in which life just kept plugging onward or if it was beginning to irritate him. The whole doing the washing thing was enjoyable, much easier than exploring the universe for sure, much nicer than getting beaten up by aliens, but it was just the washing.
With a pout he went back into the drier, finding the last piece of clothing he had been unable to reach and giving it a good yank. It popped loose and he sat back, gazing at the pair of pants.
"Great...another ruined pair. I really do have to remember to check the tags..."
He heard the door of the sticky smelling Laundromat open with a clang and clatter as someone else entered and slid down a basket; someone else who obviously had the same strange late night pattern of doing the washing as him.
He pulled out and glanced around, noticing the late night arrival. It was Amie, the young woman who lived next door to him. He had made an effort to know everyone in his apartment block, at least by name.
"Evening Amie." Yugi dusted back his pale fringe, tucking it behind an ear.
Amie wasn't exactly a slender young woman, but she was pretty in the average kind of way he had always liked in girls. She had obviously had the same problem as him, coming down to do the washing simply because there were no more clothes to wear, considering they were both wearing the daggy kind of left-over clothes one found in the back of a drawer.
"Hi Yugi. I just saw your boy-friend on my way down, he wanted me to tell you he has fish'n'chips."
Yugi rolled his eyes, "He's late..."
"I know, you only ever do the laundry this late if he's not around."
"No, I do the laundry this time every week." Yugi held up a finger. "I have a pattern and it must be followed."
"Yes, a pattern of running out of clothing."
"Yeah, laugh it up, you're obviously on the same pattern." He smirked, crossing arms over his slim chest as she slapped down her heavy basket.
"Speaking of boyfriends though, how's your new one going?" Yugi hoisted himself up onto a machine, kicking his legs back and forth playfully, "is he treating Talia alright?"
Sol's Saturday morning playmate was Amie's small little daughter, she was also Sol's first childhood crush, much to Yami's high amusement.
The young woman's pervious boy-friend had not been the kind of man he found easy to relate to and had deserved the firm kick up the groin he had received.
Most of the apartment block residence did consider him to be the elected police-come-councillor of the block. He had to always have tissues and a pot of coffee ready; he never could know who would come knocking on his door with a problem in need of fixing.
Amie blushed slightly, a good sign, in his opinion. "He's...been great with her."
"Good, because if he wasn't, you would tell me, right?"
"I told you the last time didn't I?"
"No, if I recall, Yami asked you if you where having consensual sex or if you where being black-mailed into," Yugi made quotation marks with his fingers, "prostitution by the vile and disgusting man currently living with you."
Amie covered her mouth before a giggle could escape. "How do you even live with him, honestly Yugi, he can be so blunt."
Shrugging Yugi smiled, "He gets straight to the point and it works for him."
"Well," the young woman bent, sorting out her washing into piles, "don't worry about the new one, he's wonderful...and he loves Talia. I think I might have found someone..."
"We should plan a meal then, if you think he's a keeper." Sliding down from the machine Yugi picked up his basket, propping it on his slim hip.
"I would like that." Amie finished dumping her washing into the machine, "Yami's a good radar, he always seems to know the bad ones from the good ones. You do realise he has every man in this apartment block scared silly of him."
"He's an alpha male...he likes to prance around being all alpha like." Yugi rolled his eyes, wandering towards the door. "Which, I had better go and make sure he had a good day...have a lovely evening!"
"You're welcome, hon." Smiling as he shoved his way through the glass doors into the chill of the un-sheltered section leading to the stair-well, Yugi quickly dashed towards the stairs. The sooner he got into his apartment, the sooner he would be warmer and if he was lucky, Sol would be asleep.
The climb was good for his legs, creating just enough of an ache for him to know he had been lacking in his usual exercises. With Kala living in the Tombs in orbit around Earth, and now he supposed they were gone on an adventure across the stars, he had no one to jog with and it wasn't as if he was going to leave Sol alone to go out in the early morning to do a lap around the apartments. Reaching the door Yugi gave it a small shove and it eased open. Instantly the warmth of the lovely home welcomed him inside and he slid the washing basket upon the table scattered with Sol's drawings from that day.
\Yami!\ Calling out mentally as to not wake Sol, Yugi pulled off his slip-on shoes and placed them at the rack near the door. Unzipping the fly of his jeans as he entered the master bedroom he folded them up tightly and placed them back into their spot for the next morning before fishing around under the pillows of the bed for his night-time slacks.
\Yami?\ He tried again, hearing no response and sensing no stirring within the Puzzle of the Pharaoh's mental stimuli. The Puzzle had grown lighter, indicating the spirit was closer and their shattered soul was relishing in the lack of strain that it now took to draw enough shadow magic to continue keeping them both functioning. Yugi shook his head, finishing dressing for the night, he grabbed the nearest hair-tie and bundled back his mop of hair as he headed into the small living room of the apartment.
Sitting neatly in his arm-chair Yami was perched like the regal king he was, his usual daily newspaper hiding him from view.
\Why didn't you answer me?\ Yugi propped his hands upon his hips. He smelt hot chips and his stomach grumbled in protest to the late dinner. Sol had happily gone to bed with an apple and sandwich for dinner, far too exhausted to complain about the lack of food in the house. The boy's current stage of development had him worried, Yugi had to admit, it was almost frightful to see his child suffer the consequences of being a creature of shadows. At some point he knew Sol was going to go through the same thing Yami had experienced as a Prince of Egypt. Shadow magic would tear through him, burn into his body like acid. Neither he nor Yami had any chance of stopping the natural occurrence of a human crossed with shadows; they could only hope that when the moment came they would be there to sooth the pain and to contain the light and shadows that would collide in such a tiny body.
Yami's red eyes peered over his newspaper. "Sorry, interesting topic." He turned back to his reading.
Yugi shook his head in dark mirth but grabbed for the packet of hot chips and fished for a couple. "How was work?" He collapsed onto the larger arm-chair, threw his legs over an arm and lounged back, happily eating the oil rich food.
"Cameron is losing hope..."
"He's got the best of the best looking out for him." Munching on the chips Yugi smiled. "Are you losing hope too?"
"Life changes, Aibou, I know that...but Cameron is young and head-strong, he will not stop until something clicks."
"Good, you'll get along great then."
Yami peered over his newspaper again and raised an inquisitive eyebrow at the relaxed looking light. "And how was your day dear?" The Pharaoh smirked as Yugi grabbed for the nearest toy and threw it bluntly in his direction. It squeaked as it bounced off the wall.
"My day was fine, thank you, dear." Yugi shuffled around.
"Save any damsels in distress today?" Folding up the newspaper Yami cast it aside and stood from his arm-chair. Rounding the living room coffee table he picked up Yugi's lounged legs and seated himself beside the light, replacing the legs over his lap.
Yugi gave a weary smile, "Old Harold needed his sink unblocked so I helped him there...does that count?"
Yami pulled a face. "I don't think Old Harold is a damsel..."
"And I'm not a knight..."
"That one is actually debateable." Yami mused, taking a chip and wiggling it in the air. "If I recall correctly you have the training of a knight."
"Being Knighted in Narnia doesn't count Yami."
"Once a Knight of Narnia always a Knight of Narnia."
"That's a King, Yami..."
"Wasn't when we where there."
"Stop being so picky."
"Stop stealing my chips."
For a moment they stared at the other before breaking into soft chuckles that died away into a comfortable silence.
"How is Amie?"
"Listen to our conversation did you?" Finishing the last chip Yugi poked the kings cheek.
"Then don't, for heaven sake, scare her new boy-friend off."
"I'll do my best, cannot make any promises though. Not everyone likes living next-door to a supposed-to-be-gay couple with a child who looks oddly like them..." Yami raised his eyebrows in mirth. "The next time we have the authorities coming around for child neglect, I'm letting you deal with them."
"I think we do a good job with our facade. Not a single person in the whole block suspects we're really the same person or that you can walk through walls and I can fly or...or...that we have conversations with creatures from another dimension. Or you know, that you're an evil dark spirit and I'm the overly wonderful other side of your soul and that this beautiful piece of jewellery I wear is your real physical form..."
"No, you just blind everyone by making them love you. No one would ever want to think anything bad about you because you're so well liked." The Pharaoh chuckled. "You're easy to love." He fished for the television remote and settled back, "As long as none of them love you as much as I do, then I will toss up hell..."
Yugi's hand slid around his larger, pulling it from the remote. Confused Yami looked down at the light.
"What?" The Pharaoh frowned; sensing a sharp pain at the touch, light flickered off Yugi's fingers as he played the tips over battle scars marring the ancient spirits palms.
Yami tipped his head to one side, reached out mentally and sensed the peaceful slumber of the boy.
"Good," Yugi launched himself off the couch and spun around on his heels, grinning down at the spirit with a childishly innocent grin of a boy at Christmas. "Think he'll sleep through a super-nova?"
Slowly Yami stood, hooked his arm around the light's shoulder and kissed his forehead.
"He did the last time..."
"Then let's go...hot-shot." Yugi darted away quickly.
"Hey, only Emily can call me that, you cannot!" Throwing out shadows Yami grabbed the light's legs, causing him to hit the floor before he could get out of the living-room.
"That's right..." Yugi grinned, giving in from struggling with the shadows, allowing them to drag him back to the spirit, "I call youmō hitori no boku.'"
"Yes, you do. Don't ever forget that."
"Rather hard not to."
"Okay, that is just totally inhumanly impossible." Cameron stared upward at Bakura perched upon the wall of the gym as though it was a floor. Bakura shrugged casually from his crouched tipped up position.
"I'm not human." The ex-thief did a flip and landed beside the young Colonel. "Which means I can be spider-man if I want."
Cameron stepped away from him slightly. "Creep."
"Jerk." Yami's voice rung out from the doorway into the underground gym of the SGC, the Pharaoh lounged on the doorframe, sipping a Starbucks coffee. His ruffled hair seemingly indicating he had rolled out of bed. Cameron blinked; surprised the ancient dead spirit could look as though he had not had a good night sleep, which was rather an odd contradiction, considering he was sure he had been told neither of his co-workers slept.
"Well, don't you look fresh and revitalised?" Bakura chuckled, folding his arms over his chest with a sneer.
Yami glanced towards him, "Yugi's light burns...damned painful experience." He stated simply, as though it was the obvious answer.
"Feels nice though, doesn't it? How close did you get to a complete soul?" Bakura toyed happily. "Ryou and I can get pretty darn close...betcha I'm better at it then you are."
Yami simply sighed. "Apparently I'm a self-harm addict...as for how close we got our soul, look at me, I'm a mess and my shadows keep fluctuating, there's your answer." The Pharaoh waved a file in his hand, switching topics in a single sentence, "got us a mission."
"What, team three of us?" Bakura motioned to the three of them with an around-about wave.
"The General wants us on rotation, and there is nothing in the rule book about an SG team needing four or more members." Yami shrugged.
"Super." Cameron grinned.
"Right, I'll go get my med-kit from the infirmary then." Bakura swelled up shadows. "Encase the mortal needs patching up." He clapped Cameron over the head happily, making the Colonel wince and duck away.
"Creep." Cameron hissed under his breath.
"Girl..." Bakura sneered back.
Yami pointed the file at the spirit and shouted. "Don't terrorise Doctor Frasier again, Bakura. She likes you."
"What's there not to like." Bakura's echoing voice remained for just a moment. "Heck, look at me, even Ryou loves me and that's being down right narcissistic!"
Cameron cringed. "You guys really are dead aren't you...?"
"In the flesh." Yami winked playfully. "Come on, let's gear up."
Cameron puffed out his cheeks and jogged after the Pharaoh. "Hey, what did Bakura mean by trying to join a soul? You guys aren't involved in freaky black-magic again are you? Cause, if you are, don't involve me."
Yami raised an eyebrow and glanced around to pause and wait for the Colonel to catch up. He made a small motion in the air, seeming to consider an answer. "No, Cameron, no freaky-black-magic...that's actually not even quite correct, I didn't use freaky-black-magic in the first place. Put it this way, I get tired from being on this plain of existence and this physical form needs energy to be useful and touchable. Now I could just go into the Puzzle and let the natural seep of Shadow-Magic sink back into my soul...however," the Pharaoh twirled a finger happily, "Yugi figured out he was a better source of energy, being all bright and bubbly. If we try hard enough, we can skim at each other's soul half. It's dangerous, Yugi can get contaminated by me and I can get pretty badly burned...soul wise...it's rather difficult to explain." He scrubbed at his mess of hair.
Cameron sighed, "You live a complicated life."
"I can't believe I wanted in on this complication."
"Welcome to the Dark Side, we don't have cookies, we have good looking men."
Yami clapped open the locker of the male change room and peered in, searching for his military jacket. He glanced briefly at the small mirror on the door and gave a hiss of disproval at the sight of his frazzled hair. Finding a loose hair-band in the cup on the first shelf he ranked his hands through the blond and black locks, pulling them behind into enough of a braid for them to at least not stand on end.
Cameron appeared beside him suddenly, opening his own locker.
"You know," the Colonel grabbed his jacket and over-coat, "it's odd how well you fit in here."
"Odd?" Yami realigned a picture of Yugi and Sol amongst a collage of others upon the door of his locket, "Why is it odd?"
"I don't know, I mean," pulling on his jacket Cameron gave a small frown, "you're a dead spirit, a demonic dark lord...shouldn't, you know...be doing something supernatural...but nope, you're here, with aliens."
"If you must know, it is Yugi's job to deal with the other areas of our Court. What takes place on Earth is his jurisdiction...mine is out there, making sure Earth is protected so that Yugi can do his job."
The Pharaoh chuckled and waggled a finger at the Colonel, making the gold he wore on his wrists jingle at the movement, "this planet is mine and I will protect it and all those on it, so where better to be but on the front-line."
"Well," Cameron grinned, "I am glad I got you back out here."
Yami raised an eyebrow, about to reply but he paused as Bakura's shadows swelled up, forming the ex-thief's figure. "I have my medi-kit." The spirit lunged at Cameron, shaking him, "now you can die mortal and I shall save you."
Pharaoh, Bakura and Mitchell, get to the Gate-room. Jack's voice warbled over the intercom.
Yami raised an eyebrow and glanced at his watch, "we're not due to leave for another half hour..."
The three looked at each other for a moment before each broke into a run for the door, grins across their faces.
Down the concrete corridor, passing by air-personnel's, the three darted in an almost race like manner for their destination. Not waiting for the blast-doors to open into the gate-room Yami and Bakura walked straight through, leaving Cameron glaring as the large iron doors slowly opened for him to enter, only to find both spirits chuckling in dark mirth at his sour expression.
The gate was already activated, the light from its glow only shining in the backward direction, the iris covered the surface of the Ancient device. Cameron tried not to note that the odd tinged light did not dance reflectively off either spirits eyes. They remained and voided and death-like as ever. Like a reminder that he was working with creatures that had once been human.
The General stood with his hands deep in his pockets, a contemplative expression on his weary looking brow.
"What's up, sir?" Cameron wandered forward in confusion.
"I wanted you three here for this." Jack motioned to the gate. "SG-12 sent word five minutes ago, they should be arriving momentarily."
Walter's voice echoed through the intercom from the control room behind, "receiving IDC, opening the iris."
The hiss and zing of the metal folding back in on itself made most within the gate-room wince for just a second before the engulfing light of the star-gates worm-hole wrapped the concrete world in a bright blue glow.
Through the event-horizon three figures wandered.
Yami heard Bakura's small gag in the back of his throat at the appearance of the woman strolling down the ramp between two members of SG-12. Dressed in a black tight outfit, riddled with the belts and straps that bound a corset tight around her waist, she walked with the high-authority of a jaguar. Rolls of black hair had been tightly bound behind her head, to reveal high cheek bones and a wild, overly friendly smile.
"Well," she stunted a long booted foot forward and tipped elegantly around, "don't you all have me surrounded."
"Welcome to the SGC," Jack stepped forward, "I'm General O'Neill."
"Vala. Vala Manderan. Thank you so much for the lovely greeting party." She chimed, "we all had a wonderful time searching each other, didn't we boys?" She grinned back at the two members of SG-12 who stood shaking their heads.
Her attention swung back around and she raised an eyebrow at Cameron, "now I know we haven't met. That I'm sure I would remember."
"He is Colonel Cameron Mitchell, of SG1." Yami spoke up.
"Nice outfit." Cameron offered, but the woman's attention was no longer upon him, her eyes settled just behind.
"Oh my..." With a tilt of her head she swaggered down the rest of the ramp. "And who are you, gorgeous?"
Yami raised an eyebrow at the black haired woman, carrying her weight perfectly upon knee high black boots. "My name is of no importance. " The Pharaoh smirked darkly. "But you...now...I know of you, you're a bounty-hunter...and a good one at that."
"Oh, you know of me?" Her nose tilted slightly in pride.
Yami heard Bakura's soft snort from beside him, the ex-thief obviously new another con-person when he saw one.
"One of my Priests was furious that you managed to get onboard a prototype of his fleet-ships...and you gave another of my Priests a serious concussion." Yami offered her.
Vala's red painted lips spread wide in a grin, "That's right," she pointed happily, "tut, tut, though, I never did get that ship to who wanted to buy it...got my butt whipped by some sexy cute hunk of a space-man. All pretty blond hair and golden jewellery...damn shame he was insistent that he loved someone else. "
"You mean Malik?" Jack smirked into a hand. "Yeah, you guys would have made a right old match there." The General looked to Yami and shrugged at the Pharaoh's glare, "what? They would!"
"Hey," the woman's brow suddenly frowned, "where is my Daniel!" She glared at the four men in front of her. "Why is he not here? I said I wanted to speak to my Daniel."
"Er..." Bakura bent towards Yami and whispered, "Daniel's married isn't he, like...the real bond kind, as in dark and light balance kind, as in I don't have to worry about finding you another Priest of the Scales kind of married?"
"Why?" Yami offered, "you want a go at her? Be my guest."
"Heck no, she looks more your type. It's the straps and leather right?"
Yami swung, grabbed the ex-thief and threw him to the nearest wall, shocking all in the gate-room back two paces. The Pharaoh spun on his heels, dusting his hands off upon his black pants.
"Best go find Daniel then." He wandered to the closed door and vanished through it with a twirl of shadows.
Ignoring Bakura peeling himself off the floor, Jack motioned a hand to Vala. "This way."
"Wow," the woman slipped an arm into Cameron's, "who was that?"
"The guy you don't want to piss off." Bakura grumbled.
"Oh, I think I do." Vala grinned, hugging Cameron's arm tighter. "Lots of excitement, I knew I'd love your planet!"
Daniel ploughed on into the briefing room like a steam-roller. Yami peered up from gazing at his nails come the entrance of the archaeologist Priest, whose firm glare was burning in frustration at being called away from his oh-so-important packing. Spotting the priest their visitor stood abruptly to her feet, a wild grin over her oval face.
"Okay, where is it?" Daniel glared across at the dark haired woman.
"Nice to see you too. How have you been?" Vala cheerfully waved.
"Tablet. The one that leads to incredible buried ancient treasure."
"There is no tablet." Vala raised both eyebrows.
"What?" Daniel spluttered.
"I lied. I had to tell you in...person..." her proud demeanour dropped just for a moment, "I'm pregnant."
Bakura spluttered his drink in a small cackled laugh.
"Well, I'm pretty sure it's yours anyway...there's..." Vala held up her fingers, staring at them, "at least a one in...ten...chance." Glancing to Cameron she grinned and winked.
Gripping his hands into fists Daniel turned on his heels and stomped towards the door.
"Danny!" Jack clicked his fingers together and stalled the departure of the archaeologist. "You're the reason I let her through the gate."
"I'm sorry Jack, I really have to finish packing."
"Listen, The Tomb doesn't leave for another twelve hours." From his seat at the head of the table Jack swung up and clapped his hands, "at least have a gawk at whatever the pretty lady brought you." The General gave a mock salute, swung in the direction of his office and vanished into it, clipping the door shut on the way.
"You hear that," Vala proudly tipped up her nose, "he think's I'm pretty."
Gripping his fists in agitation Daniel turned on Vala with a smouldering glare. "Okay? Shoot? What am I here for?"
Cameron stood quickly and reached around, opening up a sliver box upon the briefing room table, allowing Vala to happily take out a flat-ancient tablet. She smiled a sugar smile as she offered it to Daniel.
The archaeologist grabbed it from her with a firm yank and glared down at it. For a moment his brow furrowed before he pulled a face and waved it in the air. "Ah...yep...don't know where you got this but this...ah...you got ripped off." He held it back to her, "its complete gibberish."
Bakura walked past, grabbing it before Vala could take it back.
He held it to his nose and sniffed. "It's old." He wrinkled his brow, "and...let me guess, its written in code." The ex-thief looked to Vala.
She nodded, seemingly impressed at the ex-thief, "Yes and I know the cipher." She pointed happily to the white-haired spirit.
Propping both hands upon his hips Daniel gave an aspirated sigh, "then why do you need me?"
"Reading it is one thing," before the woman could answer Bakura jumped in, "understanding it is another. Am I right, darling?" Red eyes gleamed in mirth.
"It appears you and I are on the same wave length." Vala reached for the tablet, taking it and gently settling it down upon the briefing room table. "The individual I...got this from assured me that the treasure it describes is here on Earth. Now I could have come by ship and looked for it myself but I know nothing about your fair planet. Other than it seems to have an interesting if somewhat limited gene pool." She looked between Cameron and Daniel. Confused for a moment the two men looked at each other.
Yami chuckled from the side-lines, arms folded and resting upon the windows down into the gate-room below, "Daniel, give the tablet a look, if you will, I would prefer it if this lovely woman had an escort if she wishes so badly to dig up her treasure on my fair planet."
The archaeologist gave the Pharaoh a small pleading look.
The spirit simply raised an eyebrow, his usually slightly red eyes blacking over entirely in an eerie glaze of warning.
With a puff Daniel grasped for the tablet. "Fine, follow me..."
Daniel led them into his office, piled with boxes. Even after a day or so, the archaeologist hadn't even managed to pack his beloved office up. Yami had to wonder if the man was trying to prolong the agony of having to leave; which left the Pharaoh wondering just how much Daniel really wanted to go, or if deep inside the fact that he wasn't packing quickly meant an inward wish to remain home on Earth sweet Earth was lingering in the archaeologists soul.
Vala slid another silver box onto a free space upon the desk and unclipped it as Daniel rambled around for an aged book of notes on the Ancient language. He flipped open some pages and glanced between the tablet on the desk and the scraps of notes.
"So where'd you get this?" He frowned.
Vala shrugged casually, "the Jaffa may have won their freedom but there is still more than a few Goa'uld out there. Most of them have lost their Dynasties though and are either on the run or in hiding from the human factions and Jaffa factions."
"Yeah, or plotting some means of regaining their power." Bakura folded his arms firmly over his chest, leaning back upon a pile of boxes. "Cause, you know, that's what they do."
Happily walking around the room, Vala picked through the boxes, pulling out odd and ends in study. "Yes and in the mean time, they are having a lot of trouble maintain the lifestyles to which they had grown accustomed to the last five thousand or so years."
Yami snorted. "Thanks to stealing the technology of early Earth." The Pharaoh hissed.
For a moment Vala stared at him in confusion, her gaze settling upon his alien eyes.
Daniel coughed and she jerked around to look at him directly. He waved a hand.
"Oh, right, well...as such, there are a number of rather interesting artefacts currently on the market. Anyway that isn't the issue is, the question is...what's it worth?" She grinned in delight.
Daniel sighed heavily and brushed at his small growth of a beard, "well...the Ancients aren't really known for secret stashes of gold like these, for example." He picked up the strange golden straps from the second silver case Vala had opened. He paused and stared at one. His eyes shined in a moment of recognition, "Wait a minute, these markings are Goa'uld." The archaeologist turned to Vala. "The treasure is supposed to Ancient...what do these have to do with any of this?"
The con woman twirled her hair thoughtfully, "these are actually only loosely related to the tablet."
"Yeah, how?" Daniel eyed her.
"You ever heard of the Goa'uld Nut?"
Daniel sighed again, giving a small sarcastic snort, "as in...cashew? Pea?"
"No, she's means the Egyptian sky goddess." Yami's dark voice broke the two's conversation, his gaze upon the two bracelets, brow furrowed in thought.
"Give the handsome man a cookie." Vala clasped her hands together in glee. "Yes, these were her ceremonial marriage bracelets. She wore one and her husband of the moment wore one."
"Of the moment?" Cameron inquired suddenly from the doorway.
Vala smirked. "Yes, she had many. That's one of the few admirable things about her. So what do you say dear," she slid up to Daniel, "you and me?"
"Vala, I'm married." Daniel held up his hand, revealing a ring, "and I would like to stay married."
She pursed her lips in frustration, "Fine." The woman turned smartly on her heals and slapped the golden band down over Yami's wrist and swiftly slapped the other over her own.
Yami's face contorted slightly as he grasped the wrist, bending over with a hiss.
"Ouch...what the hell?"
"Yes, what the hell, we don't say ouch." Bakura reached over, grabbing the Pharaoh around the waist and hoisting him up. "What did you do?" He glared across to Vala as the woman happily seated herself upon the high bench.
"Security." Daniel motioned and two airmen aimed at her.
She smiled sweetly.
"Okay, that was fun Vala, now take it off him." Daniel worriedly glanced to the Pharaoh, suddenly sensing the likely-hood of him ever joining Ishziu in her Tomb was fading away.
"Not until we find the treasure." She shook her head and held up her own wrist, the golden bracelet gleamed in the dim light, "These bracelets link me and handsome over there, together. The tablet is mine and I want my fair share of what it leads too."
"Funny," Yami snarled, "very funny, but it won't work, I have no physical form for this thing to attach too." His red eyes flared as shadows swelled, breaking apart the illusion of his image. Vala's eyes widened ever so slightly and she shuffled away as the ancient spirit fazed out of form before becoming solid once more.
"What...are you..." She whispered.
He stared at the bracelet in confusion, ignoring her entirely.
"Okay...that's a little creepy." He gripped it, trying to pull it from his illusionary skin, "it won't come off Bakura. It unfazed with me, it shouldn't do that...why did it do that?"
"Yeah, I noticed." The ex-thief raised an eyebrow, reaching over and grabbing his fellow spirits arm to pull at the bracelet. "Well, heck, I think the little lady over there discovered a curiously interesting way of binding you."
"I can't be bound!" Yami snarled and the walls of the room creaked under the strain of gathering shadows. "I'm an undead Pharoah! I haven't got a physical form to be bound with..."
"Your clothing goes with you when you unfaze, maybe because it's on you it goes with you...being drenched in shadow-magic and all..." Daniel mused thoughtfully. "How interesting...could it possibly be made out of the same technology as the Items."
"What, human blood?" Bakura turned on his feet towards the archaeologist, "okay...that would work...for a while at least, until the Puzzle over-rides it."
Yami's eyes burned. "You, take this off right now." The Pharaoh turned to Vala.
"No." The woman tipped her head playfully to one side, giving a sweet grin.
"I don't think you get what I'm saying, woman, take it off right now, or so help me I will kill you. I do not take being bound by anyone to anything very lightly."
"I know who you are now," she touched a finger to her cheek in consideration, "I thought you were a silly little story made up by the Tau'ri to spook the Goa'uld...you're the Nameless Pharaoh. Guess there is truth behind every legend..."
Yami thinned his eyes and slowly turned away, he pointed to Daniel, "I want her off my planet, she better be off it soon or so help me, I will kill her."
"Hey, handsome, come back..." Vala's voice called out as the spirit wandered out of the room.
Doctor Lee was an irritating though highly intelligent little man. Yami pursed his lips as the head scientist of the SGC stared thoughtfully at the third saw blade to be ruined in the attempt to saw through the ancient artefact.
"Well...it appears I'm not going to be able to cut it off."
"I told you." Yami rolled his eyes and propped his chin on his free hand. "If it's made of even just a drop of the same kind of gold that the Puzzle is formed from, it won't be cut off."
"Shame I can't cut off your hand." Dr. Lee scrubbed his balding head.
Yami perked up his brow. "I beg your pardon?"
"Just a thought."
"I thought SG-12 checked everything that woman had on her." Yami glanced around towards Cameron and Bakura at the doorway.
"They did." Cameron shrugged.
"And...and...and in their defence, Lord Pharaoh," Dr. Lee pointed a finger, "at the time the bracelet was giving off no kind of energy signature. Even now its barely measurable but it's just enough to mess with your shadow-formation. You see, I have been doing some thinking into how you maintain a physical form in this dimension-."
"What's it doing to me, Dr and how does it work." Yami lifted his arm off the table and rubbed at it wearily.
"Um...I don't know." Dr. Lee glanced at a monitor screen. "It admits the same low vibration as one of the Items. It's possible that because it is on the same frequency it's moulded itself into your illusionary form."
Yami puffed out his cheeks. "Great." He stood, "just great...just what I needed, a Goa'uld device that can attach itself too me. How...thoughtful of them to use my own ideas."
"Hey, they stole our ships and our technology so why not steal something else of ours." Bakura shrugged. "I for one, don't remember ever seeing that kind of thing around in our day. Surely I would have come across it in my travels if it was..."
"I've never seen it either...it would be after our time, Bakura, after the Items...some damned Goa'uld must have found the old shadow-magic incarnations." Yami gave a human sigh and reached for his jacket. "I thought only the Tomb Keepers held such information...maybe I was wrong...this could be a problem..." The Pharaoh moved towards the door.
Dr. Lee shuffled around, "wait...I just...need a little more time."
Yami shook his head, "no, Dr. I'll go home and see if proximity to the Puzzle over-rides it."
"Right..." Bakura smirked as Yami brushed past him, "you just want to sulk and have Yugi make you feel better..." The ex-thief kings voice trailed off as Yami's usually elegant walk swaggered. The Pharaoh tipped to one side and hit the wall beside him, grasping his waist tightly.
"Damn..." He hissed, body fazed with a shimmer of shadows. Bakura and Cameron dashed forward.
"Yami." Bakura grabbed him, "Yami...Temmy..." Suddenly worried Bakura shook his loosening form, feeling the shadows seep through his shoulders. "Tem, wake up...no, don't you...Temmy! Temmy, don't you dare do this to me. Not on my damned watch you idiot..."
The Pharaoh collapsed, illusionary form growing heavy and solid in the ex-thief's arms.
"Oh...frak." Bakura glanced to Cameron and the Colonel raised an eyebrow.
"You know, I think I'll call Teal'c." Cameron ran down the passage, "he might know what that bracelet is..."
"Yes...wonderful...leave me to lug this useless dead man around." Holding out his large hand Bakura carefully touched his friend's cheek, holding it firmly as he bent, pressing their foreheads together. "Remember the battle over Unila...you made me lug your heavy arse all the way back to camp. I could have been living the high night with those pretty dancing girls and you just had to go and get yourself stabbed. Some Pharaoh you are...honestly..." The ex-thief smiled darkly, hooked his arms under the smaller man's legs and back, lifting him easily. "At least you don't weight as much as you use too...guess death does have its perks..."
He was a spirit, a torn half of one man's soul, the dead half and therefore he didn't sleep, nor did he faint or even black-out, the few times he had ever felt the sensation he supposed humans would call 'blacking out' were equated with a loss of energy to maintain mental stimuli. His body, after all, was the Puzzle, it was the physical form of his dark soul and it was always with Yugi.
This feeling was unnerving, alien and if he dared say it, frightening. It was as though he existed in limbo, a place of no place.
He scrunched up his nose in irritation at the sound of something buzzing. Slowly vision returned as he pealed back layer and layer of shadows, stirring himself out of whatever strange state that had come over him.
"Oh thank goodness. He's coming around Janet..."
Yugi's voice, in the worried kind of tone the light used very rarely, made him smile just faintly.
"See, he can hear me."
"Aibou..." Yami split his lips, forcing the command for his illusionary body to move. Carefully he turned his head around in the direction of Yugi's presence and spotted the light sitting on a high chair beside him. Having left him in bed that morning, it was slightly odd to see him in the SGC with plains-clothes on. Something told the Pharaoh the light had been out and about, by the thickly painted kohl and dangles of gold around his wrists. Yugi's wardrobe went from delightfully bizarre to expertly professional depending on what the situation called for; obviously today his light had gone for wearing his individually on the outside.
"Welcome back to the land of the living, handsome." Yugi touched the Pharaoh's chin lightly, bent forward and gently kissed his cheek, "You had me a little worried. It's not often I see you in an infirmary bed."
"I'm in...what...how did I get here?" Yami shuffled around uneasily, not liking the angle in which he lay. It was unnerving to be on his back in an unfamiliar feeling bed.
Yugi's expression grew gentle at the discomfort of his darkness, sensing it growing from the Puzzle like a cloud. "Well, apparently..." The light reached out and Yami felt the sensation of a touch on his wrist. Yugi took his arm and brought it up for viewing, "this thing, whatever it is, is messing with you."
"Are you alright?" Forcing himself to sit upright in the bed Yami glanced around the infirmary, finding it an odd sensation to be the one in the bed with Yugi beside him and not the other way around.
"Me?" Yugi pointed to himself, "I'm fine Yami. I didn't even know something was wrong until Daniel shadow-ported into the living room to tell me what was going on."
"The Puzzle didn't react at all?" Yami whispered, wondering it was good news or bad news.
Yugi pursed his lips, "Nothing unusual that I could tell. Sol might have noticed a small change. He went very silent and scared...then he asked me if you were alright...then Daniel popped in just before we were leaving for the mall." The light glanced around and raised an eyebrow at the sight of the boy happily sketching away with a pad, perched on a nearby vacant bed. "Solomon, Dad's awake." He called out and the boy tipped his head up, his black and red eyes widening at the sight of the Pharaoh.
Yami winced as Sol leapt off the one bed he was on and dashed forward to scramble up and land in his lap. Sol made a swift movement with his hands and Yami nodded.
"Yes, I am fine." The Pharaoh kissed the boy's forehead gently. "I'm fine."
Sol looked to Yugi, large eyes questioning the elder.
"Yami, do you need me to stay?" The light reached across, placing his hand upon the ancient spirits arm, squeezing the weakened physical form. Yami sensed the pressure. At the doorway into the infirmary he spotted Daniel wandering in, followed closely by Cameron, Bakura and surprisingly the large form of Teal'c dressed in his Council robes. Yet Yugi ignored their presences for the moment, his sharp purple eyes firm upon his darkness.
"I can stay."
"No, Aibou..." Yami shook his head finally, "you don't have to stay, I'll be fine."
Hesitantly Yugi drew his lips thin. "Yami..."
"I mean it." Yami brushed back Sol's hair before giving the boy a small press on the shoulder. Taking it as a cue to climb down from the bed Sol reached out his arms and Yugi hoisted the boy up and perched him on his hip. "All we have to do is find some treasure and I am sure Vala will happily take it off."
"If it doesn't drop of by then." Bakura offered. "I mean, the chances are, the Puzzle will nullify it soon enough. We could just wait it out."
"And if it doesn't?" Yugi worriedly grasped for Yami's free hand.
"We'll find the treasure." Yami forced a smile towards Yugi. "Won't we, Daniel." The Pharaoh's tone darkened just slightly as his blood red eyes turned on the archaeologist. The man gave a gulp.
Looking between them all Yugi puffed back his fringe. "Gosh, look at you lot, a bunch of men on testosterone going treasure hunting." He threw up arm in mockery, "Alright, alright, I see I am not needed." With a smile he turned back to Yami. "If you think you've got it under control, then I'll trust you."
Giving Bakura a small nod of thanks the light reached down and picked up his shoulder-bag.
"See you when you get home then." Yugi held out his arms and Sol leapt into them again, hugging him tightly around the neck. "We're off to do some shopping and then visit Grandpa and Grandma, right Solly?"
The boy nodded happily.
"Be good, all of you," Yugi turned and faced the others behind him, settling them with a glare, "or I'll bring my super-glue to your next mission briefing...see how your butts like that."
There was a shiver of shadows and Yugi vanished. Yami collapsed back into the bed with a groan, slapping one hand over his face and scrubbing at his eye-balls.
"Daniel!" With his free hand he pointed at the archaeologist. "Why did you get Yugi!"
"I had to bring him in! There was a...a...faint possibility that there was a problem."
"Like we said, Vala collapsed too...in the holding cell. We couldn't risk it." Cameron stepped forward, offering the words in aid. Daniel looked to him thankfully.
"Okay," Yami hissed, sitting up in the bed, "then what is Teal'c doing here?" He felt terribly weak in the current position; it was not something he wanted to get use to, being in an infirmary bed with eyes watching him.
Cameron raised a hand happily, "Well, I thought that he might know something. The bracelets being...kind of Goa'uld and all."
The Pharaoh looked down at the offending piece of jewellery attached to his wrist.
"They are called KorMac." The Jaffa prompted, his deep monotone voice resonating in the infirmary. Yami's brow furrowed at the name, trying to place it in his memories yet coming up with nothing. They had obviously been after his time.
"See, figured he might know." Cameron made a thumbs up sign.
Bakura slapped the back of his head lightly, making him wince.
"Vala said they were some kind of weird Goa'uld Nut marriage thing." Pressing himself into a seat Daniel looked to Teal'c.
The Jaffa shook his head slowly, "I do not believe that to be the case."
"Whoopy, big surprise there. The gal reeks of the ability to lie, like me." Bakura fanned his own body happily. "I could have told you she was gagging it."
Teal'c's shoulders twitched, "I have only heard of them in passing, Lord Pharaoh." He sadly addressed Yami as the Pharaoh sulked darkly in his bed, twisting shadows around his form like the hissing of snakes. "I believe it was Cronus who used the technology-."
"Which he stole from us." Bakura added. "If he wasn't already dead I would kick his head in, stealing ancient arts. You don't use blood shadow-magic to make jewellery, we learnt that the hard way..."
"He used the technology," continuing as if unbroken Teal'c touched the bracelet, "when a prisoner of value needed to be transported by his Jaffa. He would affix a bracelet such as this to both the prisoner and the Jaffa responsible for him. If they became separated for more than a short period of time they would both become ill and die."
"Both?" Yami touched his chin.
"That's just about the stupidest thing I have ever heard." Vala's voice suddenly intervened. A hand from the bed across the infirmary was raised high and she waved it as if in greeting. She struggled to sit upright, her glare settling upon Yami as the Pharaoh's shadows smouldered.
"You didn't know?" Daniel spluttered.
"Well, I knew it would make the other wearer sick. I didn't know it would have the same effect on me too!" She pouted darkly.
"You guys don't get it." Bakura waved his arms in the air, cutting all conversation, "this is bad." He pointed to Yami and then to himself, "that thing can attach itself to us! It can bind us! US! We don't get bound by things, we're dark spirits who protect this little world...if this gets out...hell is going to break loose."
"Don't get your knickers in a knot pale-face." Vala snorted, "there aren't many left-."
"Even one pair is enough." Bakura snarled. "If the Puzzle doesn't nullify that thing, Temu, then there is something in this galaxy that can render us bound to someone besides our lights...at least for awhile. That is bad, for both us and our lights..."
"I'm still bound to the Puzzle," Yami slid his legs over the side of the bed, "and I can't die, this bracelet won't kill me, it will simply render me in limbo. Vala, on the other hand, she will die..."
"It shouldn't have the same effect on me." The woman whined.
"How could you not know this, Vala?" Daniel threw his arms out in frustration.
"Because the person that I stole them from didn't tell me that part!"
Daniel grabbed suddenly for the pillow behind Yami's head and threw it at the woman.
"Yah!" She kick punched it.
Yami blew a raspberry, thinning his dark eyes at Daniel until they were slim slits of disproval. The archaeologist shrugged in the manner of a toddler.
"Question." Cameron raised his hand. "Why would the Goa'uld design these things to kill both wearers?"
Teal'c was quick to reply. "To punish the Jaffa for his incompetence."
"Right. Of course..." Cameron rolled his eyes at the obvious answer. "Should have guessed that one."
"So, you do not know how to take it off?" Bakura looked to Teal'c as he motioned to Yami.
"No, I am sorry, Milord, as I said, I have heard of it only in passing."
"I guess then," Yami slid off the bed, wincing at his unbalanced decent, "Vala knows?"
The woman pursed her lips thinly and all four men stared at her in question as she innocently shrugged. "Yes, of course I do. I mean...that is assuming that the person I stole them from was honest about that part."
"Then do it, witch." Bakura snarled.
She folded her arms firmly across her chest, eyeing Bakura with such as much a glare as the ex-thief could give. "As soon as we find the treasure and I get my fair share."
"Daniel..." Yami turned directly to the archaeologist.
"But..." The Priest tightened his brow, "but I'm leaving...to find the Asteroid, to look for the possible Lost City of the Ancients-."
"You're not leaving! Not anymore." The Pharaoh hissed, "Ishziu can keep your damned Tomb in orbit around Earth...it may as well be there for protection anyway or encase I need it-."
"Treasure, Jackson," Cameron offered the archaeologist a smile, "come on, I mean...it's what you enjoy doing? It's written in Ancient...and who knows, it could lead to where the Lost City is...think of the possibilities!"
"You're so happy about this." Puffing out his cheeks Daniel gave in, sunk back into his chair and sulked darkly. "But I just finished packing up my office..."
Yami gritted his teeth as they took the walk from the mess hall back to Daniel's office rooms. A jet black coffee was balanced in his right hand, steaming in heat, and hopefully it would cool what frustrations were simmering in his head.
One being the woman beside him.
"Vala, detach yourself from my arm, please." Not only was it irritating that the woman was near as tall as Bakura, therefore she was taller than him, she was also amazingly well proportioned for being a woman of such a high stature. Be him dead or not, he still noticed that underlining fact as a man, and having her hang onto his arm tightly like an escort was either down-right humiliating or just simply annoying. In this case, he had the same frustrating problem as Yugi had always found with Tea. Being chest height with a woman had its ups and its downs in the oh-so-not-flattering way.
"Hon, we're attached, may as well join the party." Vala smirked happily. "I can't believe it...the great Tau'ri Pharaoh!" She almost squealed as she skipped a step. "I honestly thought you were a myth! The Goa'uld have been talking about you...well, those I have run into. You're famous!"
"Are you really old?"
"I am dead."
"Oh, even better!"
With a long puff of air Yami swung into Daniel's office. Both Cameron and Teal'c were in silently standing too one side, Bakura's form a simple shadow on the wall with slim red eyes. Yami sipped his coffee, wishing he himself could slip into the formless form that took no effort to maintain but with the uncomfortable feeling of the bracelet around his wrist the thought of dissolving into shadows made him itch. Vala skipped in and slung up to Daniel, peering over his shoulder.
The archaeologist priest frowned at the disturbance. "Are you sure you have the cipher right?" He questioned.
Vala nodded. "Yes. Why?"
Groaning Daniel slipped off his glasses and flopped back in his chair. "I can't believe I'm missing a trip with my wife for this."
"Get over it." Yami grumbled behind his coffee cup. "She will."
Daniel scrubbed at his eyes and looked towards the dark spirit before turning back to the tablet before him.
Cameron yawned wearily, propping his hands behind his head. "Hey, don't you have to get back to Dakara?" He looked to Teal'c.
The Jaffa didn't bother looking to the young Colonel. "The Council is in recess until tomorrow."
"Curious." Cameron rested back.
"Indeed." Teal'c raised both eyebrows.
The young Colonel slapped his hands together, "See, this is good isn't it? Being part of a team again, working together to unravel some cool ancient mystery! Right...so...we're not working together," he looked around the office at them all gathered, "but any minute now I bet Dr. Jackson over there is going to discover some key piece of information that will set us off on a great adventure!" He swung up a hand and zoomed it to the sky.
Yami snorted into his coffee, holding back laugh at Cameron's antics. Bakura's shadow swelled slightly behind him; the Pharaoh stamped a foot down on the nearest tentacle.
"This can't be right..." Daniel suddenly pushed back in his chair, looking at all of them, his eyes slightly large in revelation. Like a pouncing jaguar Vala jerked up her attention, smile suddenly bright in hope, gleaming with the same gleam of wonderful buried treasure in mountains of gold.
"What is it?"
Turning back to a screen from a quickly unpacked laptop taken out of the mountains of boxes around him, Daniel flicked the touch-pad. "Well, this is a portion of some documents Ryou and I have been translating from the Ancient Out-Post in Antarctica."
"Ryou's been working with you?" Bakura's form suddenly became solid, seemingly stepping out of the shadow he had been upon the wall. "I didn't know that?"
"Well," Daniel didn't look to the dark spirit, instead he just held out a pad of paper, eyes still on the screen, "it has a link to some English mythology that Ryou was familiar with..."
Taking the touch-pad Bakura scanned them quickly. He gave a small laugh from the back of his throat. "King Arthur? Ryou's favourite topic. See," he leered towards Yami, "I know my light's favourite topic!"
"Hey, kids, play nice." Cameron pointed to them both. "Or I'll send you to time out."
"Like to see you try, pretty-boy." Bakura snarled.
"Look who's talking." The young Colonel gave a round-about-wave at the spirits white hair.
"Hey, can we get back to the awesome treasure find?" Vala puffed out in frustration, causing her tight black corset to expand just slightly at the movement of her lungs. "You men can play your games after I have gold in my fingers. Daniel, dear, what does king-who-his-face have to do with treasure!" She slapped her hands down upon his desk. Daniel picked up her hands, sliding them away from him.
"Well, you see," he placed his glasses back on the bridge of his nose, "what Ryou and I found in the Ancient Out-post in Antarctic was a kind of...list...of all the Ancients who left their home 'Atlantis' for some unknown reason to settle here on Earth again."
"Thousands of years ago?" Teal'c offered.
"Yes." Daniel nodded, "however, after Yami and Bakura's time...after the Goa'uld left Earth alone as a taboo place. Thanks to the Pharaoh, some of the Ancients were able to settle here."
"And this has to do with the tablet...?" Inquiring again Vala slid herself onto the desk, slinging both high booted feet onto a box in a relaxed mode.
"Ah..." Daniel scratched a hand at his hair, "you see the tablet talks about a treasure but it doesn't make any specific reference at all to where it is."
Yami gave a small moan.
"It's supposed to be here." Vala picked up the tablet, looking it over in frustration. "That's what the person who I stole it from told me." All eyes turned in her direction. She smiled innocently, "before I stole it from him."
"Okay, okay, okay...whoa, time out." Cameron made a t-sign with his hands. A gesture Vala clearly didn't understand as she watched it with a frown. "If the tablet doesn't say where..."
"It doesn't say specifically...but it is...it is signed...by a guy named Merdin."
"Never heard of him." Cameron rolled his eyes.
"I think you have...and the amazing part is his name also appears in the Ancient Out-post log."
"The Ancient who carved this tablet is one of the Ancients who returned to Earth from the Lost City?" Teal'c inquired.
Daniel nodded. "Yes."
"I have an Uncle Marvin." Cameron shrugged. "But I'm pretty sure I don't have a Merdin..."
Bakura sighed heavily, rubbing his hands to his forehead, "that's because his English name sounds a little bit different." The ex-thief looked up, then towards Daniel, "let me guess, Merlin?" The dark spirit made a small sign with his fingers as if casting something away.
Cameron near spluttered, "Merlin! As in King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Merlin?"
"Who else?" Bakura made a shake of his head.
"Creep." Cameron thinned his eyes at the spirit.
"So...Merlin was an Ancient?" Placing down his coffee cup Yami made a be-line for the laptop.
"I think so." Daniel agreed.
"Interesting..." The ancient Pharaoh touched the Priest of the Scale's shoulder and gave it a pat, "good work, now, how about the rest of us find food and let Daniel work."
The archaeologists face fell, "What?" He stood as the group exited the office, Vala happily latching onto Yami's arm again. She gave a wave. "Bye dearey!"
Yawning was one of those mortal habits Bakura found he had picked up from Ryou. In reality, he supposed it showed a sign of lacking in shadow-magic to sustain his physical form but he was not feeling any particular drain that made him yawn in that very moment. Therefore, the yawn had to stem from Daniel's small speech within the briefing room. The archaeologist priest stood before a slide-show screen, images flicking up once in awhile.
Bakura propped his chin on the palm of his hand, spinning the top of his coke bottle. Beside him Yami had taken his usual poised position, one lean, strong leg slung over the other and his hands neatly folded in his lap. The ancient king did look his part, even without royal clothes or a mountain of dancing slaves, Bakura had to admit, there was something sinister and sophisticated about the dark lord who ruled the darker side of their Court.
With a sigh Bakura turned his attention once again to Daniel, switching back on his ears to listen to the archaeologist.
"Arthur was then carried off in a barge by Merlin, saying he was headed for the veil of Avalon which according to legend was a magical place where the dead would meet."
Bakura managed a side-ways glance to the General. Jack had his customary bored face on, the one that Daniel usually ignored outright.
"Now at the time some said Arthur never actually died but would in fact one day return. From what we know about the Ancients it is possible that Merlin helped Arthur, a mortal, ascend."
Yami leant forward and shifted in his seat as if uncomfortable, though Bakura knew the movement was simply for show. "Are not the Ancients prevented from interfering with the existence of mortals? I know you ascended with the help of a rogue Ancient." The Pharaoh made a small movement with his hand.
"Hey, Morgan aided us in the Star Wars galaxy, really helped too," Bakura offered, rising his head slightly, "I wouldn't know how to make a pretty lightning storm for Ryou without her help."
Yami glanced to Bakura, "We are not mortals..."
Bakura gave a slightly sheepish grin, "right...their rules don't apply for us..."
"Yami is right though," Daniel nodded, "the Ascended Ancients can't help us mortals however...it is possible that Merlin was not actually ascended himself but was in fact just a human far along the evolutionary path."
"Yeah okay, and what does this all have to do with where this 'alleged' treasure is buried?" Jack scrunched up his nose.
"Well, there are a number of inflicting interpretations but certain threads point to the Knights of the Round Table gathering great treasures from the far corners of Arthur's domain and hiding them in a magical strong hold in Avalon.
"Including the Holy Grail?" Cameron sat forward in his seat.
"According to some." Daniel pointed his pen to the young Colonel.
"This Grail...?" Vala rubbed her hands together, "what is it worth?"
Yami and Bakura stared at her for a moment before Bakura towards Yami and whispered, making her face darken at the hushed tones.
"What?" She jutted out her strong jaw.
Yami chuckled and waved Bakura away in dark mirth. "Nothing Vala..."
"In 1191 the Monks at Glastonbury Abbey claimed to have found the grave of King Arthur. On the Stone burial was an inlay lead cross with the inscription-."
"Hic iacet sepvltvs inclytvs rex artvrivs in insvla avalonia." Bakura brushed back his long fringe as he folded himself into the curve of his chair, "Here lies the famous King Arthur. Buried on the Isle of Avalon."
Daniel nodded, "thank you Bakura."
"Ryou has it above his desk..." Bakura sipped his coke bottle.
"Well," walking around the table Daniel began tapping his pen to his chin in time with his foot-steps, "the claim was not taken seriously until 1278 when Henry II ordered the grave to be exhumed. Now Clastonbury, a small town about 125 miles west of London has been a pilgrimage for believers since."
The General rolled back his head, "yes, yes, yes Daniel...and the point of all this wonderful overload of information is?"
Shaking his head at Jack Daniel seated himself, "certain Celtic legends say that the hill overlooking the town is actually hollow and that contained within it is the underworld Avalon."
Jack nodded slowly, flipping his pen in the air, "has anyone ever done any sort of geological survey?"
"Yes," Bakura nodded. "Ryou was involved in one once...there have been several scientific studies..."
"And..." Jack waved his hands.
"Jack, we're talking about the Ancients here. Its very possible that the underground entrance was concealed by some technology.
"Sir." Cameron caught the General's attention with a small cough, "we are hoping to use the Asguard sensors built into the Prometheus to find something we haven't been able to see before!"
With a near leap Jack launched himself out of his chair, "Thank you, Mitchell, simple and effective. Well...half a year ago I wouldn't have believed we'd find an Ancient Outpost a mile under the ice of Antarctica so...who knows, the English could be hiding something. I'll call the President. I'm sure he'll want to inform the British Prime Minister about our lovely visit to his fair land."
"Tell him Bakura says hello and that I did put that exploding egg in his basket for Easter!" Bakura called out at the vanishing General disappearing into his office. The door slammed shut.
Cameron made a thumbs up sign, "good work team!"
Sol had decided one thing in his childish mind; Christmas shopping hurt his feet. For sure he loved the lights, how the malls would positively glow with the radiance of the coming happy-season, he loved the toys, the sweets, the laughter, the family gatherings and he even loved sitting on Father Christmas's lap. He loved the big woollen jumper Grandma Emily had knitted for him but he did not like his hurting feet.
Having them off the ground currently was defiantly helping, he was so small no seat in the food court would accommodate him and he always ended up looking like a toddler on a large chair.
He lifted his head up, sensing a small wave in the shadows that always surrounded him, that always surrounded everyone but he had the ability to actually feel the Realm. He tried to grasp for it, thinning his contact covered red eyes and hissing in distain as the little flutter of disturbance vanished.
He wasn't good enough. Not like Lloyd, Luke or Anakin. But he was the son of a Pharaoh, he should have been able to control himself, control everything, but he couldn't. He was out of balance. He was constantly in limbo. Everyone always had to walk around him on tiptoes encase he got upset and killed someone.
"That was a very adult sounding sigh their Sol, you must be thinking quite deeply..."
Sol blinked and raised his head as Yugi seated himself in the chair opposite him, bearing a tray of MacDonald's.
Yugi peered over his thick-blue rimmed glasses. "If you are worried about Pharaoh, you shouldn't be, he'll be fine."
::I know:: Sol signed with his hands, watching as his parent flicked away light from his fingers as if trying to get rid of a cobweb.
::You shouldn't do that in public:: He signed again.
Yugi raised his eyebrows. "Can't help it, it has been awhile since Pharaoh and I spent such a long time apart...but you don't need to worry about that okay."
Sol frowned. ::You tell me not to worry but it doesn't work, I still do::
"I know, you picked that up from me. Now, I got you the Happy Meal but-."
Sol grabbed for the box and quickly opened it, finding the Pokémon toy inside wrapped in plastic. His face erupted into a grin of delight.
"Evee! I do not have that one yet!" He spoke in his happiness.
Yugi smiled, cupping his coffee with two hands; pleased the boy had at least used his mouth for something other than eating. "Good, got the right one then. Now don't just play with it. Eat your food, but not too fast, your were complaining about your feet, eat slow so your feet can recover."
Sol nodded, watching as Yugi pulled out a pen and note-book, flipping the pad open and gazing blankly at the scribbles. The boy shrugged, turning to his food, silently eating as he watched the people pass by, their voices all mingling into one long stream of noise. If he listened hard enough he could pick up particular conversations but none of them made much sense to him, he was only six, and there where things he hadn't been allowed to know yet. Like the things Grandma Emily teased Dad about.
The flicker of disturbance happened again. With a whisper under his breath he sent out a shadow with a mental command, even though his shadow had no form yet.
-Find problem, come back when found-
"Sol? Did you just summon a shadow?" Yugi didn't look up from his writing.
Sol glared at his burger. "No."
"Yes, you did. Do not lie to me."
"Sol. I do not appreciate being lied to so blankly."
"Something keeps making a disturbance in the shadows, it's annoying me." He scrunched up his nose, knowing he couldn't push his luck too far, not with the tone of voice his Dad was using.
"Sol, there is always going to be a disturbance in the shadows around us..."
"I know, but this keeps nibbling at me."
"Alright..." Yugi shrugged, "just be careful."
"I am careful." Sol gave a far too adult-sounding snort, making his parent smile faintly.
"I know, Solomon, I know."
Yugi turned around, fishing into his leather strap bag and pulling out an i-pad, he flipped it around, skimming through images Sol could not see. The boy frowned, wondering just want it was his parent was spending time doing, surely it wasn't all just research and compiling on human-hogwash and supernatural troubles the world over.
But at least his Dad could multi-task very well, at least he still listened to him and talked to him, Talia, his playmate from next-door, had told him he was lucky that he had a parent who listened.
"Yes?" Yugi glanced up over his glasses, stopping from scrawling on the touch-pad in front of him.
"Do you think I will ever be able to control the shadows...?" He ducked his head away, shamefaced.
Yugi sighed and reached for his coffee, taking a long gulp. "Remember how Pharaoh said that when he was a little boy he was just like you, it took awhile for his shadows to even out. People born with a higher-awareness to the shadow-realm usually don't even-out their balance between light and dark until they hit puberty Sol."
"But I'm six!"
"Not quite there yet." Yugi gave a laugh. "Lloyd and Luke are in their teens Sol, you asked why their voices had changed the last time you saw them, that's why. I explained it too you...do you want me and the Pharaoh to explain it again..."
"No." Sol huffed, his soft voice just managing to gasp out. "I understood it...but Pharaoh was my age when he started."
"You are not cloned directly from the Pharaoh, Sol, you are my clone, and I was a very late developer. You have Pharaoh's DNA, like me, but you're not his direct physical manifestation, you are the manifestation of his lighter half. Does that make sense?"
Sol nodded sullenly.
"Because you are the manifestation of the Pharaohs lighter-half, as in me, it is only natural that using shadows will be more difficult until your body can cope-."
"What if it never does! You still have trouble, but you have the Puzzle to help you, I don't have anything!"
"You have me, you have the Pharaoh. Solly, what is bothering you, you've never been this sad about the shadows before?"
Sol frowned, turning away.
Yugi found himself forcing down a smile as the boy did a very Yami like motion of swinging up a leg and propping it over the other, arms folded firmly over his chest. He was such a miniature little Pharaoh sometimes, without even meaning to mimic the spirits actions, he simply did.
"Sol...you can tell me...?" Yugi felt a gnawing of worry in his stomach, wondering if the prospect of Yami leaving for long lengths of time was an underling reason for the boy's uneasiness.
"I have to protect you." Sol's eyes flared under the contacts covering their eerie colour. "Without Pharaoh around, you are not so safe, so...I must protect you."
"Solly." Yugi smiled, bowing his head and leaning forward, "That is very...valiant of you, but I'm your Dad, I protect you, its not the other way around. You don't have to think about looking after me, don't add that stress to yourself and don't make that face."
"No, listen Sol, if you keep trying to force your shadows and force your balance because you feel like you need to look after me then it could take longer to even out by the simple fact that you are trying to do something you can't do. If you just...relax...and not let it bother you the shadows might flow easier."
The boy nodded.
"Okay...how about we try something." Yugi shuffled in his seat, "a game?"
Sol jerked his head up at the mention of the word. "Game?"
"That woman over there, with the eight bags and the horrible looking shoes..." Yugi motioned with a tip of his head. "I want you to reach out and feel the shadow realm around her and then tell me what you glean from the shadows?"
"What do I win if I do it right?"
"I'll take you to the Pokemon store when we get to Japan."
"Okay!" The boy closed his eyes and Yugi watched with a raised eyebrow as the child flicked out his fingers, lying them flat upon the surface of the table as if using them as a stationing for his thin frame. Yugi propped himself up, watching the boy thoughtfully, sensing the slowly rising link with the realm begin to gather like a cloud.
The more and more Seto and Seth delved into understanding the Shadow Realms connection with their realm the more they where uncovering just how much both realms relied upon the other. The children and young people born with a higher awareness of the Shadow Realm needed to be taught and gathered like the Jedi of the Starwars Galaxy. Yugi took a fleeting glance at his pad of scrawled notes and frowned.
It was only in the recent time since he had finished the Puzzle and the Shadow Realm had been opened again that they where discovering people with the higher-awareness, almost like a mutation in the human genetic code and like any secret group of people they needed to be watched because anyone could switch, turn, or become far to invested in the darkness and he would then need to move quickly to destroy or nullify the threat.
His attention shifted as he heard Sol's soft voice.
"She has three children."
Yugi raised both eyebrows, happy the boy had at least uncovered that much through the shadows that lingered around every human.
"One of them is in hospital, so...she is sad. She has...the feeling...no... I think...it might have been an accident on the snow..."
"Okay, good start...anything else?"
Sol scrunched up his nose, "She...loves her husband a lot."
"How do you figure that?"
"I...don't know." The boy pouted, fisting his hands in frustration, "I just feel it. Like...I feel you and Pharaoh..."
"Its okay, Sol, you don't have to understand something-."
"Anakin says understanding how something works makes you able to do it-."
"Listen to me, Solomon, trust me, not anyone else...not even Anakin." Yugi settled his voice into a tender, gentle tone, "Now...sooth out the shadows and peel them back slowly, with each layer that surrounds someone you find out something more..."
"Like a tree." Sol whispered.
"Right, just like a tree has layers, so do the shadows that surround us from the Realm."
Sol's hands tightened on the edge of the table and Yugi frowned, noting a small shine of sweat dribble down the child's temple as his knuckles whitened.
"I..." Sol's eyes opened sharply, "I couldn't see her name..." He dipped his head in shame. "I failed."
"No, Sol, its okay, finding someone's true-name through the shadows is the hardest thing, even I have trouble with it. Now, just keep practising...you are doing very well. Someday soon you'll be able to do it quickly."
"Do you use the shadows when you talk to people? Like when you talk to the sad people from our apartment block and then they come away happier...?"
"Not all the time. I like to try and find out about people without using the shadows. It is better if I can help the person come to terms with their own thoughts by letting them come to the conclusion inside. If I used the shadows I would just be doing all the work for them."
"But you do use the shadows...sometimes?"
"Well, maybe you could say the shadows use me as a way to communicate to this realm," Yugi poked the boy's nose. "But yes, I do use the shadows to see into people sometimes, when I need to."
Sol nodded. "I think I understand."
"Good. Now, no more feeling sad about it, you are doing fine Sol. Really. Pharaoh and I are very proud of you. You're growing up into a beautiful little boy."
Sol nodded, "I know Dad."
"You're only six Solly, you don't have to be just like Lloyd, Luke and Jaden..."
"Yeah...but...but I'm a Prince! I should be better..."
Yugi laughed, beginning to put away his writing gear and i-pad, "But unlike the Next Generation you have all the time in the world to grow into your strengths, don't rush things Sol, sometimes...taking things slow is better."
The light dusted a hand through his hair, sweeping his fringe to one side. "Now come on, we'd best finish this shopping and then trot along to Japan...Grandma Emily might fry my-."
Yugi stopped in mid-sentence. His shoulders relaxed and he sat back into the chair, eyes glassing over as his hand touched the Puzzle.
Knowing the signs of mental communication Sol shrugged his shoulders, going back to sorting through his deck of Pokémon cards, flicking his gaze to his parent every so often.
Not very many people would notice the vacant look that crossed Yugi's face that stemmed from communication over telepathy. It was very rare his Dad did do it over long distances though, Sol knew, it was often like a long-distance call made from one country to another, it took more payment. Still, he had been raised knowing the look in his Dad's eyes and it hardly bothered him, even if it was a little creepy looking. He knew Aunty Tea said it was creepy, she always squawked about it but he figured that was because Aunty Tea had known Dad before it had become natural.
Yugi's lips worked into a faint smirk and Sol cringed, suddenly glad he couldn't hear whatever the conversation was about between his father's two halves.
He wondered what it would be like having a normal Dad, one that didn't have a split soul, but that was silly, right? He wouldn't have existed if it had been any other way.
"Dad?" He whispered in his soft voice. He made a hand sign to go with the word.
Yugi made no move, only his glossy eyes shifted lightly at the boy's hand movement. The light made return hand sign and Sol pouted at the obvious 'shhh, I'm talking' symbol.
He puffed out his cheeks, shuffling around on the chair as he reached for his Pikachu, tugging the toy out of a bag and holding it tightly. He hated waiting. He thinned his eyes. It was taking too long. It was like years.
"Dad..." He tried again, kicking the man in the knee under the table. Yugi's brow furrowed darkly.
"Daaaaaaad, I want an icecream."
Yugi signed with his hands once more. ::In this weather?::
Sol pouted again, ::Yes!: He flashed his fingers quickly.
Yugi's head dropped slightly to one side, his attention shifted like a glaze over water as he seemed to fall back into reality, his body stiffening again.
"Pharaoh won't be joining us at Grandma and Grandpas." The light stood to his feet, gathering up his leather strap bag and the shopping.
::Why?:: Sol signed.
"He's going to be at work." Yugi smiled tenderly, giving the boy a gentle pat on her head.
Sol's brow furrowed.
"Is it about the weird bracelet?" Choking on the words, hating the sound of his own voice-box, Sol forced himself to speak, even if his throat was hurting from overusing it.
Bending down Yugi hooked an arm under Sol's legs, hoisting the boy up and bearing him through the food-court, proud the child was trying hard to speak when his suggestive cognitive thought-patterns told him his throat hurt. There was only one way the boy was going to over-come his own fear of speaking and that was actually speaking and hearing his own voice through his own lips.
"Its kind of about the weird bracelet...more about treasure." The light shrugged.
Sol buried his head into the curve of Yugi's shoulder. "Is Pharaoh going to be away more now...?"
"You know Dad is needed out in space too. It is important that Pharaoh does what he can...but that doesn't mean he doesn't love us any less. But it is because he loves us that he has to go out and work otherwise I would have too and it's better that-."
"Pharaoh does it."
"Right. Because Pharaoh is that part me that can. Don't worry, he'll come home and tuck you in when he can."
Sol nodded. "I know...but I miss him already."
"So do I Solly," Yugi gave a soft sigh, his gaze glancing skyward to the high ceiling decked out in Christmas cheer. "So do I..."
And it was an ache in his torn soul nothing could heal, it would always be there, even when Yami was close, because their soul would always and forever be separated.
Such was their curse.
"You're looking awfully cheery for a dead-spirit with an annoying bracelet attaching you to a sexy woman in black." Cameron peered over to Yami as they walked down the glossy corridors of the Prometheus, the second prototype of Seto and Seth's space-ships. Its insides where smooth and sleek, reminding Cameron of the futuristic movies set generations in the future. It was odd to find himself walking those very scenes, living a life people could only dream of. Half of him wanted to skip, the other half kept that half in line.
He was, after all, walking beside the Pharaoh.
Looking up at the taller young Colonel Yami gave him a genuine smile. "Family business." He offered.
"Ah. Yeah, your kid is really cute."
"Thank you, he takes after Yugi...though...he gets his awful tantrums from me, sadly. I was a troublesome child."
"Spoilt brat more like it." Bakura popped up, swelling out of the shadows cast by the neon lights of the corridors.
Yami grinned. "I am not going to deny you on that one, actually."
"That," the ex-thief rolled his eyes, "is why your great-grand-daddy got himself drowned in the Red Sea. You Egyptians all had sticks up your-."
"Hebrew slave." Yami retorted, his shoulder giving the slightest twitch of a royal mock.
"What did you just call me?"
"Oh, look," Cameron swung to a door, "the Armoury, what a relief that it would just appear right now before the beginning of world-war-three."
"Wouldn't an Armoury be more use in fuelling our aggression." Yami paused for a moment and looked to Bakura, his co-spirit simply shrugged causally.
Overall glad the distraction had worked Cameron simply shook his head. "Let's suite up!" He slid a hand over the activation panel, surprised when a small hologram with his details flashed for a moment before the door opened to allow them passage. The young Colonel grabbed two vests, throwing them at the spirits.
"So..." He pointed to Yami's wrist as the ancient king slipped his military vest over his simple black skivvy. "Do you know what the range of those bracelet things are?"
"Well, Dr. Lee seems to think Vala and I need to stay within a hundred feet or so...more than half an hour outside that boundary we'll begin to feel the effects." The Pharaoh waved a hand, swelling up twin pistols that he strapped to the loose hanging belts around his thin waist.
"They're primitive to the Items in that sense." Bakura glanced around, folding his shortly chopped white hair behind his ears.
"Not really," Yami shook his head, "the further you and I are from Yugi and Ryou the more they suffer the physical pain of the separation."
"Yeah, but the range of the Items and our mental presence is huge...light-years huge and neither of our lights will drop dead...they'll just...hurt." The ex-thief gathered up his medi-kit, slinging it casually over his left shoulder. He leaned upon the near-by wall, watching Cameron and Yami finish dressing for the mission ahead. He sniffed in an all too human action, rubbed his nose and squeezed it wearily. "Damn annoying though, I'm stuffed tired... Ryou's been up most nights of late, his head's buzzing with some stupid worry about the British Government collapsing...or whatever...point is, he's not resting and therefore I'm not resting."
"Do you want Yugi to check up on him?" Yami's brow drew dark, he stepped aside as Teal'c and Daniel entered through the main-door, gathering their gear. Vala, quite the relief on them all, was already dressed a donated black SG military suit. She stood at the doorway, swinging a leg back and forth in sheer boredom.
"Might be a good idea." Bakura shrugged, "I honestly got no idea what's up...Edison and Anakin can't get a word out of him."
"That is a problem you know..." Yami pulled his hair back into a braid. "Ryou would usually tell Yugi something ahead of time before it starts to bother you."
"Don't I know it. Damned lights..."
Lieutenant Colonel Mitchell please report to auxiliary control room...and...Pharaoh...no...never mind.
Yami glanced around at the allusive voice over the intercom, "never mind what?"
"Bet it was Seto chewing at you about borrowing his pretty-glossy ship to snoop around England." Bakura winked.
Yami shook his head, "Vala, come along." He grabbed the woman's arm and hauled her out of the Armoury. Bakura chortled to himself at the Pharaoh's sour expression.
Cameron, Teal'c and Daniel exited after them, turning in the direction of the auxiliary control room. The ex-thief linked an arm around Teal'c's broad shoulders. "Doesn't this remind you of the good old times? Before you were a high-and-loft-lording-diplomat?"
"Indeed, Bakura...I suppose it does."
Cameron made thumbs up sign as Bakura glanced towards the young Colonel with a leer and a wink.
The bright white auxiliary control room was almost too bright with the shines of holographic screens glistening and the lights of flickering pads of controls creating a warm glow. The window across the rounded front of the vessel wasn't so much a window but a projection of what lay beyond in the blanket of space. Earth shimmered its gentle blue hue, the shine of a new sunrise dawning across atmosphere.
"You're just in time for the sunrise." Marks spun in his chair to face the SG team as they entered through the elevator. The man who manned the controls was oddly young for his position upon the ships main hub of information but at the sight of his swift moving figures across a hologram before him, his position was obviously clear. Seto had chosen from a generation of military people who knew the workings of technology. No doubt, Marks had once been a duellist; a few did exist in the American culture after all.
Yami glanced towards the pristine bright light across the black horizon of the Earths curvature. "This makes life worth it." He summarised.
"Oh!" Vala suddenly clapped, making all within the control room look in her direction as she pointed towards Daniel with a grin, "this brings back such lovely memories!"
"Ah...really?" Daniel winced.
"Isn't this where I beat you up?"
Daniels expression dropped and he hid slightly behind Teal'c.
Vala glanced around, then pointed to Marks at the helm, "no...I am pretty sure that right there is where I crushed your-."
Yami grabbed the con-woman's arm, dragging her to Marks station.
"Marks, what have you got?"
The Lieutenant spread his fingers over the hologram floating just above his lap. Symbols shimmered across the window, swelling around the content of the United Kingdom.
"Well, thanks to the Asgaurd sensors. We were able to map out the energy distortion that would have normally fooled deep ground sonar."
"Sweet." Bakura leant forward, skipped around the helm and peered at the enlarged image. "Can you spy on my son with this?"
Marks chuckled, "bet I could...however...to the point, Lord Pharaoh, I was able to define a large main cavern, network of tunnels and some smaller caves."
"Well done, Lieutenant." Cameron clapped him over the shoulder.
Tugging away from Yami Vala peered at Marks, "So...can you see what's in there...say...large...piles of precious metals?" Yami grabbed her shoulder, yanking her away.
Marks glanced her over, "like I said, we could only map out the exterior of the structure."
"Can you get us in there?" Daniel stared at the large mound covered in grass on the window of the vessel.
"Well, it's almost half a mile underground and there's no visible access on the surface." Marks thinned his lips.
"Asguard beams?" Teal'c offered.
Marks shook his head, "tried that. Doesn't seem to penetrate whatever sort of energy field is disguising the caves."
"Without something or someone to lock onto," Yami scrubbed at his mess of hair, "neither Bakura nor I would be able to shadow-portal..."
"Um...how about Rings." Vala threw up a hand, "the Ancient were the Gate builders right? And they invented the Rings so...they had to get in there somehow and I know this ship has rings," she fluttered her eyelids towards Daniel, "Its how I..."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah good times to never tell my wife...she's right though." The archaeologist winced.
"If there are Rings down there," Marks twirled his fingers around a circle on the hologram pad, "we should be able to lock on. But your radios won't work."
"Shouldn't be a problem Marks." Yami winked.
"He hopes." Bakura snorted.
"You'll be on your own." Marks offered.
Cameron grinned, "best thing for character building, bonding time!" He spun on his heels, motioned to Vala, "ladies first."
Vala swung to Yami, "well then, after you."
Yami eyed the top of his head, strolling into the lift. Vala skipped after him. The team joined them.
"Isn't this fun?" Cameron offered in general.
"Yay..." Daniel propped his head upon the surface of the round lift, "fun..."
Ringing down to a place on a planet was much like being transported by the Stargate. Yami felt the tingling sensation as the shadow-magic that created his illusionary form swelled with uncomfortable shuffling as it was re-generated by foreign technology.
If he could itch like a normal mortal, he was sure he would be itching the moment they appeared in a large and dark empty room of stone.
Cameron glanced around as the light of the Rings died away. He flipped on the switch atop his p90 and flashed it around.
"Wicked...and...empty." He pouted.
Vala sighed heavily, throwing her arms out, "I haven't been this disappointed since Daniel and I had sex!"
Both Bakura and Teal'c paused from scoping out the dark world and turned directly on Daniel. The archaeologist priest glared towards Vala as she strutted past, Yami in tow, heading towards the sight of a pedestal centred by a large monument, its Celtic designs obvious. Bakura wrinkled his nose, stepping up the gradient stairs and peering at an ancient sword wedged into the carved stone.
"Damn...should have had Ryou here, he would be squealing like a girl..." The ex-thief crouched down low, carefully studying the area.
He raised a hand, stalling Vala from tramping upward. "Watch it honey," he leered, red eyes gleaming in silent mirth, "let me disable the booby-trap first before you try pulling the sword from the stone."
Her face went slightly white and she ducked swiftly behind Yami's shorter form. "Fine by me."
"I can't believe it," Cameron watched as Bakura silently worked, pulling out a pouch of tools from the pocket of his vest. "It's a real sword in a stone."
"What's it supposed to mean?" Vala tipped around Yami, resting her chin upon his head. The Pharaoh shifted slightly in irritation but settled, seeing no other way out of the situation but letting her have her way. In some odd way, she was rather amusing on that frustratingly annoying level.
"Well," Daniel held his flash light up, looking over a book in his hand before scribbling something down, "King Arthur once pulled a sword from the stone as proof of his righteousness and royalty."
"Excalibur." Cameron whispered.
"Actually," Bakura looked up suddenly from his work, gazing through his tussled mop of hair that shined silver in the odd light of the slightly shining sword, "that's a common misconception. Excalibur was forged by the Lady of the Lake at Avalon but it wasn't given to King Arthur till after the sword he pulled from the stone was broken in battle..."
Every eye stared at him.
"What?" He stood, dusting off his hands, "Ryou majored in English mythology...and our minds are linked, I picked up a few things."
"Creep." Cameron rubbed his hands together. "Soooo...can I pull it out of the stone now?"
Bakura descended the stairs, "give it your best go, knight."
With a firm grasp Cameron hoisted on the blades hilt, grunting as his feet slid on the textured steps.
Vala tipped towards Teal'c, "Give it a try muscles and I'll give you half."
"Ahhh...yeah..." Cameron released the ancient weapon, "it's in there pretty good."
He staggered back as a hologram flickered into life before the blade. There stood an aged man, robed in a thick coat of purple that rippled in a soft, non-existent wind. His gentle eyes, surrounded by wrinkles and whiffs of white, pale hair.
"Welcome." It inclined its head. "Ye Knight of the Round Table. Men of Honour. Followers of the Path of righteousness. Only those with wealth of knowledge and truth of spirit shall be given access to the underworld, the storehouse of riches of Ambrosias Coriolanus. Prove ye worthy and all shall be revealed."
Slowly the image faded, leaving them standing in the soft shimmer of vanishing pixels.
"That's incredible..." Daniel whispered in soft awe. "Certain scholars have speculated that Ambrosias and Arthur are one and the same but...that would mean he was seventy-four years old at the Battle of Mount Badon." He grinned, ignoring Vala as she pushed past him and up to the sword, "Its actually quite fascinating, see, Ambrosias was the Son of the Emperor Con-."
"Yes, yes, yes," Vala waved a hand around, seating herself upon the pedestal, "fascinating is the one thing it's not...how do we prove ye worthy and get all to be revealed?" She raised both eyebrows.
"I have no idea, but something tells me the truth of spirit might be a problem for you." Daniel propped both hands upon his hips.
Vala pulled at the sword for a moment, "you know nothing about me." She retorted.
"Because everything that comes out of your mouths a lie."
"Hey," Yami pointed to them both, "don't make me separate you two."
"Come on," Bakura hitched his pack over his shoulder and jutted a thumb towards the sight of tunnels leading in two directions. "Perhaps there is something in these tunnels."
"Well," Cameron shrugged, "he's the Thief King...lets follow his lead."
"Then, what's your orders, Colonel." Yami gave a wiry smirk.
"Er...we're...going to split up." Cameron pointed to Teal'c and then Bakura, "B, T and me...we'll go down that tunnel...Pharaoh, you, Daniel and Vala can go down that one."
Yami inclined his head in respect to the slightly flustered young Colonel. "As you wish, come Vala." He grabbed her arm, pulling her after him.
"Oh, sweetie...I thought you'd never ask."
"Shut up or I'll mind crush you."
Daniel bent forward and whispered into her hear, "just take my word for it, you don't want to know..."
"Ooooohhhh, but now I do want to know."
Teal'c took the lead down the tunnels, the light on his p90 revealing no treasure looking objects down the darkness they wandered through. Cameron flashed his light from side to side, wandering beside Bakura, surprised to find he couldn't hear a single foot-step coming from the ex-thief's feet when the spirit was wearing the same heavy military boots as Teal'c.
"Hey," Cameron spoke aloud, not turning from his searching of the surrounding area, "I never got something in all the mission files I read...are you Egyptian, like the Pharaoh?"
Bakura's fangs flashed just slightly in the light of his own torch. "No, I am a Hebrew, from the Tribe of Benjamin...if you must know." He dusted at a cobweb hanging in his path. "I was a thief in my teenage years until I ran into the Pharaoh and he saw I was utterly brilliant at everything and made me his General...we had a few good years of being best-buddies and flying around the jolly solar-system in our space-ships until I got jumped by a Goa'uld."
"Zorc?" Cameron whispered the name.
"Yup." Bakura popped his lips. "Everything kind of went down-hill from there. Pharaoh was forced to take a crash-course on binding magic, used the cursed Items as a platform to lock away the Shadow-Realm from our lovely galaxy...sending Zorc with it."
"Okay..." Cameron paused from his walk, "then...where does the whole split soul thing come into it?"
Bakura sniffed, rubbed his nose and turned slightly on the young Colonel, the sharp pools of his red pupils gleaming under his fringe. "Shadow Magic is not a child's game...it comes with a price. For the Pharaoh to seal away the Shadow Realm and Zorc he had to give part of himself up for the Shadows to consume...to shatter a part of your soul you have to kill someone...so he killed me. But since, at the same time, I killed him I was caught in the spell as well. I was wearing the Ring at the time, my soul was caught up it also and I was torn apart too...and I took a small part of Zorc with me into the Ring. The Puzzle shattered, the Pharaoh was sealed away, the Ring was cast into an abyss to be forgotten...the other Priests tried to clean up the mess...but hey, the Goa'uld didn't come back around to Earth again. So...I think it was a job well done. Plus, the universe got Ryou and Yugi...can't get anything better than two little pure guardians to go with two immensely dark ones. I think, all in all, it was a fair trade off..."
"Yeah." Cameron mused, "so...does that mean...well, what does that make Yami?"
"Temmy?" Bakura thinned his lips, "what do you mean what does it make him?"
"Well, I mean..." Cameron shuffled uneasily in the dark tunnel, "how does the Shadow Realm interact with him..."
"The Pharaoh's pretty much a gate-way, even I, in some small, horrible and annoying way, rely upon him being around for the Shadow-Realm to exist in this galaxy...if he wasn't here, the Shadow-Realm's dimension would crash with yours and hell would be on earth kind of thing. The Court is basically a government who under it all works for the good of the future by using energy sustained from a dark dimension. Without the Shadow-Realm this dimension wouldn't have an essence. Some humans are simply born with the ability to reach through the gate-way and pull on the Shadows hidden all around us. Yami is kind of a moderator for it all, and I am a back-up."
Cameron shook his head, "complicated."
"Not really." Bakura shrugged. He glanced to Teal'c, the hidden Eye cover by a patch he could easily sense like a prickling on his skin, its cursed gold reacting to him as it always had, reminding him that he was just a spirit, a dark, demonic being torn from a once mortal body. "Then again, yes...complicated."
They all turned a corner and Cameron groaned in irritability at the vacant nothingness. "I guess it would be too easy for them to just leave their stuff out in the open." He glanced to Teal'c. The Jaffa Warrior did not reply. "Maybe its just me...but I am so digging this rapport development between the two of us."
Teal'c's lips turned into a small, ever so slight smile. He pointed towards a faint glow. Bakura tipped around to stare in the direction of the Jaffa's pointing finger.
"Ah...now that is something." The ex-thief king jogged towards an open doorway, the entrance lined in the smooth carvings of pillars that held up the roof. He scanned the area, tentacles of shadows shifting under his feet as though prowling for anything unseen. Cameron sided up to him.
"No, we can go in." He stepped through the entrance into the small room, his presence making no difference to the darkness, yet the moment Cameron's feet touched the slightly different surface of the rooms floor flames burst into a circle around a pedestal in the centre.
"Sweet." Cameron grinned in victory.
Teal'c entered, staring around at the now brightly lit interior. He jerked aside in surprise as behind him a rumble of earth slid down a wall across the entrance.
Bakura lunged towards it, slapping both hands upon the hardened stone. "What? No...no...no...I did not...how the hell did I not get that!" He spluttered.
"Okay...that can't be good." Cameron reached for the radio strapped to his vest, "Jackson, Pharaoh...come in...Jackson...can you hear me?"
Bakura spun to Teal'c.
"Use the Eye. Get the damned Pharaoh."
"Can't you Shadow-Portal out of here?" Cameron glanced worriedly to the blocked doorway.
"Hell no. Shadow-Porting is Furling technology and I am not doing any kind of shadow-technology in an Ancient infested place...the two races might have been all huggy-and-tree-loving together but they had a hissy-fit when the push-came-to-shove."
"Then I cannot use the Eye." Teal'c shook his head slowly.
"But you're dead!" Cameron insisted, "can't you just walk through the wall or something? You're a spirit..."
"Didn't I just finish explaining that I might be a dead-guy but I'm made of hell's breath...I can't just click my fingers and be Santa. Complicated physics and laws bind me to what I am? I'm not a ghost, Cameron Mitchell, I am a dark lord."
"Okay then," Cameron jutted a finger at the white haired spirit, "you're the Dark Lord, get us out of here?"
"Why do I have to do all the work?" Bakura whined.
"Because you're the super cool dark lord."
"Shut up, mortal!"
Vala skipped, making her hair bounce as she pranced like a four-year-old down the gloomy dark corridors. Yami watched her easily, his vision far clearer in the dark than with any light to guide their path. Daniel was muttering beside him, scanning for any signs of writing or scripture upon the damp walls with his new i-pad and the Seto/Seth designed applications the archaeologist did so love to death.
The Pharaoh itched suddenly at the bracelet on his wrist, feeling shadows peel off from the irritation of its presence as though it was burning into his illusionary form.
Daniel flashed his small light towards the Pharaoh, turning it to the bracelet.
"Looks like the Puzzle might be getting a little jealous that you've got a leech on your arm."
"About damned time." Yami grumbled. "After this, I am going to stay in my Puzzle for a day or two and worship my soul-room for the peace and quiet and utterly wonderful presence of being with my light."
The Pharaoh raised an eyebrow at Daniel small snort.
"I am sorry, Daniel, for making you miss the Tombs trip to the Asteroid Belt..."
Daniel thinned his lips for a moment before puffing a long sigh as if finally giving into an inward desire. "Actually, if you really want to know, I wasn't all for going and neither was Ishziu, we just...kind of felt it was our duty."
"Malik can handle things with the Tombs...Ishziu should feel no condemnation for staying behind as a guardian ship of Earth?"
Daniel shrugged, "you know her, she's very loyal to her people."
"I know." Yami gave a gentle smile. "She is. I am honoured to have her as a Priestess."
"And I am honoured she's my balance." Daniel's right hand touched the belt around his waist, where the Scales where stationed somewhere, hidden away but safe near him. Its weight wasn't a burden as much as he thought it would have been. It had become almost second nature to feel the Shadow Realm brush at him every now and then as if reminding him he had to always be watchful of the truth he sought in people. He would never be like Yugi or Ryou, he was simply a human who had been given an ancient Item to care for and the ability to see into the souls of those he wished to search. Yugi and Ryou, like their darkness's, held the true balances. Daniel smiled at the warm feeling tingling in his skin just from recollecting Yugi's face to mind.
"I miss seeing Yugi." He mused suddenly.
Yami paused from his stroll, "well, I can assure you, he's doing alright."
"Yes," Yami nodded slowly, "just alright."
"HEY!" Vala's voice called out from ahead, "BOYS! I found something!"
Daniel panicked suddenly, shouting in reply, "Don't you dare touch anything Vala!"
Together both spirit and priest ran down the dark tunnel, searching for Vala's flash-light. They spotted her some distance around a corner, standing before an open doorway into a round room of slightly different stone work.
Yami wandered up to her, placing a hand upon her shoulder as he bent forward to peer into the room. "I'll check it out, stay here." He shot back a glare to Daniel before he vanished into the darkness.
Vala pouted, pointing her flash-light to her chin. Daniel forced down a small, strange laugh from his gut at the sight of her in the eerie glow.
"He's a spoil sport." The woman grumbled. "A sexy one, but still a spoils sport."
"It's clear, you can enter." Yami called out, "and I'm not a spoil sport Vala, just being careful."
"Yeah, yeah...whatever you say sexy."
At the moment both she and Daniel stepped through the threshold flames burst into life around the small room, revealing in the centre a pedestal. Yami's slightly shadowy form stood beside it.
"Hmm," Daniel rubbed at his chin, "curious, it didn't register you're entrance."
Yami shrugged, "I am dead, maybe it doesn't even know I'm here." The Pharaoh glanced around at the flickering flames, "if you immediately know the candlelight is fire then the meal was cooked a long time ago..."
Daniel chuckled. "True my friend." The archaeologist wandered up to the pedestal, displaying two pots, one silver and the other a soft gold. Under it was carved an inscription. The archaeologist frowned at it, reached behind his back to untuck his note book, delving into it.
Vala bounded over and gawked at the two pots.
Yami grasped her arm, stalling her from lifting the lids. "Patience, my dear, is a very beautiful virtue."
All three jumped in sudden surprise as a rumble echoed through the room. Yami jerked towards the entrance. He watched as a large wall slid down, locking them inside with a loud, resounding boom.
"Ummm." Vala glanced around. "Not...good..."
Yami hissed up shadows and swelled towards the entrance, slapping both hands upon it and giving a firm shove. The force of his own strength sent him flying backwards as though propelled by an unseen hand that slapped him back across the floor. He skidded on his feet, swung around and sent a shattering of shadows in retort, his eyes glassing over in demonic black.
"Pharaoh...I don't think it'll work, you could shatter it down but you risk bringing the whole place down with you and...I don't much feel like being squished today..." Daniel called out as the shadows dispelled, leaving Yami glowering at the defeat.
"I hate Ancient Technology." Yami hissed, "Pompous aristocrats, making it hard for me to do my job."
Daniel rolled his eyes as Yami wandered back to the pedestal in the centre.
"Right, what is it?" He motioned to the offending two pots.
"Okay..." Daniel rubbed his nose, "the hologram said that only those with the wealth of knowledge and truth of spirit will pass...now I wish Yugi was here." He sighed. "This has to be a test."
"Wonderful." The Pharaoh tugged at his braided hair.
"What does that say?" Vala pointed to the first line of writing under the pots.
"The Universe is Infinite." Daniel grinned.
"That seems infinitely not useful. What about this one?" She pointed to the next line beside the second silver pot.
"The treasure is in this pot."
The woman's eyes brightened, "Really? Well...I was hoping for something a little more substantial but...okay." She rubbed her hands together, preparing to pounce, unaware that Yami was preparing to grab her arm once more.
"No, wait, wait, wait." Daniel stalled her.
"Too obvious?" Vala pouted at the silver pot.
"Just give me a minute." Daniel frowned in thought.
Vala made to move her hand once more. Yami whispered into her ear.
"Not a minute yet."
"I can't help it; I am the darker side of a humans soul."
"I have no idea what that means."
"Do you think I'm pretty?"
"Can you two shut up, I'm trying to think." Daniel glared through his fringe.
Bakura peered over the pedestal, his eyes wandering the different stones upon its surface and the writing below. He scratched worriedly at his slightly scruffy chin and tipped his head to one side.
"I think it's some form of puzzle that we have to crack to prove something."
"Can you read the writing below?" Cameron tapped at the scratch marks.
"Well, great...okay..." Cameron dusted his hands upon his pants, strolling over to the pedestal and peering at the stones. "I think we're supposed to arrange the stones in some sort of order."
"And what gives you this idea, genius?" Bakura sneered darkly.
"My high IQ."
Bakura blew a raspberry, "please...my son's IQ is above and beyond, you do not have a high IQ."
"Okay then, my gut feeling."
"And if we all relied on our gut feeling the universe would be ruined, because my gut-feeling is blowing this place to pieces."
Cameron pointed to Bakura, about the retort when the sound of rapid p90 fire caused them both to jump back two paces. Cameron grabbed for his own weapon, pointing it randomly around before settling upon Teal'c pointing directly at the door.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Man bullets BOUNCE!" The young Colonel half-squeaked out the words.
Bakura chuckled, levitating off the ground slightly and coming back to the pedestal. He plucked the first stone from the line of symbols, studying it thoughtfully.
"Right, now if I where Ryou...which I am, just...the more...puzzle-prone one, what would I do. Look they have colours, lets colour code it the way of the rainbow."
"What are you, Barbie's boyfriend?" Cameron stomped over, picking up his own piece and shuffling the others.
"I wish." Throwing the young Colonel a leer Bakura slid the stones into place swiftly and effectively, ignoring Cameron's spluttering at the speed of his work. Quickly the Colonel slapped the last piece down before Bakura could snatch it from his grasp. All three looked towards the blocked entrance in silent wait.
"Well...that didn't work." Cameron puffed.
The floor gave a small rumble. Bakura held out his hand, watching as fine sand dribbled down from the ceiling. He glanced up and swore loudly. Both Teal'c and Cameron join him in staring at the ceiling above, watching as it slowly crept downwards.
"Oh come on!" Cameron dashed to the pedestal and gathered up the stones, "I do not want to be squished on my fist mission."
Bakura dusted sand from his shoulders, "hmm, that ceiling is moving awfully fast...I wonder how its doing it. I was in a collapsing tomb once, it was a sand contraption, very, very ingenious-."
"Hey, I survived, although...the two guys I was with didn't." The ex-thief glanced between both Teal'c and Cameron. "Interesting how the future can reflect the past."
"Still not helping."
Yami and Daniel stood on either side of the pedestal, gazing at the pots thoughtfully. Vala stalked around them, a long pout on her face in the boredom of the moment. She suddenly slapped her hands together, struck by a genius idea.
"Okay! How about this. You both open one of the pots and whichever one's got the treasure in it is the right one!"
"No, I think that's the wrong idea." Yami mused. "There's two pots here, I think the point of the exercise is to only open one pot."
"I agree." Daniel glanced up from scribbling in his note pad.
Vala pointed to the silver pot. "This one says the treasure is inside."
"Right, which makes it the obvious first choice." Daniel raised an eyebrow and Yami simply nodded. Vala skipped around to the gold and fanned it. "So...over to the gold."
"No!" Yami snapped as she swung around him.
"Back to the silver then!" She reached over his shoulder, snatching the silver's lid.
"Don't...damn it...Vala." Daniel threw his arms out.
The woman pouted, leaning over Yami, "there's nothing in there..." She reached over Yami once more to reach for the golden pots lid. The Pharaoh's shadows twirled darkly under his feet, his face glowering in building frustration. He snagged her hand the moment it touched the lids surface.
"Stop." He hissed.
"What? We're already trapped in here, how much worse could it get?" She glared down at the shorter man.
Yami thinned his eyes into dark slits, yet they winded again the moment he heard a sound of soft rumbling. His head jerked upwards towards the ceiling as it shifted and began to lower, shaking sand and dust across them.
"How about that much worse." Daniel groaned.
"It was a mistake the moment I said it." Wining Vala twisted around Yami and grabbed for the golden pots lid.
"Its empty too!" She squeaked.
"We know!" In unison Daniel and Yami called out from the doorway, trying to shift the stone across it.
"But that doesn't make sense." The woman shouted. "We're going to die!"
The Puzzle felt heavy around his neck, as though it weighed a mountain-size, chaffing on the edges of the leather strap he always wore to stop it from burrowing into his tender flesh. He wandered down the silent street, the air chilled and wintry in the pale glow of the coming night. Ahead, the Kame Game Shop's lights where all switched off but the living-house area had its windows alight with the warmth of someone at home.
Yugi smiled at the welcoming sight of his old home.
Connecting to the Kame Game Shop Emily had set up a small cafe, which had turned out to be quite popular for the parents of kids who were looking at all the new games and brought in a rather nice line of extra money.
His Grandfather usually got the first dibs on Kaiba Corp.'s newest ranges, which was maybe Seto's way of saying sorry for all the trouble he caused as a teen and for tearing up his Grandfather's Blue Eyes White Dragon. Seto may have been the stark, brutal business man the world saw him as, but under it all, he had married the sweetest woman on the planet, that had to count some for something.
"Sol..." Yugi whispered to the boy hanging onto his shoulder. "We're here." The light wandered up to the door, he released the rolling suitcase in his hand and reached out, giving the glass door a firm tap.
Sol lifted his head from his parents shoulder and yawned.
Yugi pressed his lips to the boy's temple. "Yeah. Old Home."
The outside light flicked on and Yugi put on his brightest of smiles as the door swung open and Solomon Motou appeared in the doorway with a wide, happy cheer to his aged brow. The man honestly never changed much, the years simply seeming to roll off him like a blanket, not bothering to warp his appearance. Emily had added a bit of spice to his winter years and Yugi had found himself inwardly pleased the grandparent he loved so dearly had found love and happiness again. He didn't need to worry so much any longer of the old game-shop keeper being lonely and depressed when someone as bright and cheerful as Emily was around.
"Yugi! My boy! Come in, come in, quick...quick..."
Offering Sol to the elder Motou Yugi dragged in the suite-case and shut the door behind him, locking it again.
Solomon held Sol on one hip, balancing the boy like he balanced any of the boxes from the store-room.
"Long day?" He raised grey eyebrows.
Yugi rolled his eyes. "Shadow-lag...oddly enough, jumping between time-zones takes a kick." He mocked playfully. "But...yeah...well..." The light touched the Puzzle lightly.
Solomon nodded in silently understanding. "Yami called...told me he took up work again."
"He did?" Yugi stopped from rolling his case around the main counter of the shop.
Chuckling in his usual gravelly manner Solomon allowed Sol to slide down from his arms. "Yugi, he is as much my son as you are, yes, he calls, quite often...actually. Between the two of you and I am surprised I even have a life."
"So that's how you always seem to know things." Yugi pouted.
Solomon reached out a hand, brushing at Yugi's blond fringe worriedly. "Just keeping an eye on you. I'm allowed to. Come on, Emily wanted to wait until you arrived before figuring out what to eat for dinner, you'd best both go find her before she launders down here with a knife."
Managing a small smile at the thought of the feisty woman threatening to toss up hell Yugi fought off a yawn.
"Actually, if you don't mind, Jii-chan, I'm going to take a shower." The light scrubbed wearily at his neck.
Solomon frowned worriedly and reached out, touching his grandson neck from behind. Yugi squeaked, jerking away in a programmed reaction. The old man was lucky he hadn't grabbed his throat and slammed him into a wall for the dared touching of the ancient item.
"Jii-chan...don't...gosh, warn me...please, if you're about to touch..." He motioned to the chain, "anything..."
Solomon shook his head, his arms folding firmly over his broad chest. "Let me guess, the Puzzle's heavy?" The old man gave a weary sigh, looking his age in that brief moment.
"Very." Yugi closed his eyes, scrubbing at his temples. "My shoulders are burning. It's...hard...to get used to suppling enough...energy for Yami's mental presence to be some-place else."
"Take your shower then, I'm sure Emily can entertain Sol by making dinner and cookies." Solomon hugged him gently and Yugi smiled into the old man's shoulder, taking in the deep, wonderful and familiar scent of his guardian. He loved the man so much, he only wished...no...he wouldn't go there, not tonight, not ever.
Pulling away Yugi took up the suite-case. "Thanks...for letting us stay here."
"Yugi, if you're needing extra support while you and Yami figure out things we're here." The old man picked up Sol's smaller form again, following his grandson through the back of the game-shop.
"Gosh," heading to the stairs to the upper-home levels Yugi turned slightly, pulling a face, "you make it sound like we're devoicing or something."
Tugging at his beard Solomon gave a dark chuckle. "Are you?"
"Try devoicing the other side of your soul, see how far you get."
Solomon chuckled. "Yugi, my-boy, I leave the soul-splitting magical hogwash to you..."
He half expected Yami to come out and pounce him, making them both roll over the bedroom floor, land in a pile of arms and legs while giggling insanely. No one else had known that side of the Pharaoh. Oh, maybe his Grandpa had seen it every so often when he had found them both lounged on the couch without an honest-care-for the world.
No, that Yami had been his Yami and now they had grown up. He was grown up wasn't he? He was old. Okay, not that old, but he felt older and feeling older while being back in the identical unchanged realm of his old home managed to weird him out terribly.
In a good way.
It almost seemed to show that he had moved on.
Yugi blew water from his face, twisting around in the shower, turning off the heated stream of water before he quickly stepped out and onto the damp mat across the pale white tiles. He patted across the bathroom carefully, drying himself furiously before flicking his gaze to the mirror. Staring back at him through frazzled hair were unchanged eyes. Grabbing a brush he swept his blond fringe to one side, allowing for a better view of the features. He had gained weight, for a time he had been too thin, simply due to the stresses his body undertook. Now, he had found a balance on keeping both his mind and body healthy despite everything that went on around him. It was his duty to keep healthy, if he wasn't healthy, Yami wasn't healthy.
That and Yami would gaze at him with his highly annoying worried stare, muttering something about feeling his rib cage. The Pharaoh usually would end up with a pillow in his illusionary face. Well deserved one at that. Honestly, the dark spirit had no idea how good he had it.
It must have been so easy being dead, not worrying about eating, sleeping, drinking, usual bodily functions. Seemed like a fair trade...well, most of the time.
Yugi puffed out his cheeks in frustration at the sight of himself without the age-wearing make-up that gave him a little bit of an edge to his appearance.
He had to dress to make it look like he was in his early thirties (when in truth, he was near in his late thirties if he counted all the 'lost years' he had lived). Like a good little immortal he made sure he kept clothing for all occasions.
At some point in the future he would have to leave his apartment block, find another place. His neighbours would notice at some point that he wasn't aging.
"You would think," Yugi puffed out bitterly as he gazed in the mirror, "that having a body stuck on one age would mean no scars or bruises...but no...body still wants to function like its normal...so much for your super-powers Yugi Motou."
Yes, he got sick, he could hurt himself, he could twist his ankle, bleed and bruise like any normal mortal. Getting sick was usually the worst, considering he had to think about how being sick effected Yami also. Remaining in a good physical condition helped the spirit retain shadow-magic. It was like his body was the mediator, the Puzzle pulling shadows from around him and feeding the Pharaoh those shadows. He was being leeched for what little humanity he had left in his cosmic-charged body of swirling light.
He grumbled, stomping his way out of the bathroom and into his old bedroom. Nothing in it had changed, the old creaky bed was still where it had always been, his worn desk, the drawers, the curtains and even the roof window. Under his feet the worn carpet trickled as he patted his way towards the bed to throw open his suitcase and ramble through the packed gear.
Finding an overly large sweater and a pair of loose, daggy pants Yugi slid them on, almost sighing in relief at the boundless clothing warm to his chilled skin. He looked up from the suite-case as the door was whacked open.
Sol appeared in the vacant space, grin across his rosy cheeks, "Dad! Grandma says hurry up! Hurry up!" The boy dashed away again and Yugi cringed from the thought of his energetic child tumbling down the stairs in a heap of arms and legs.
The light sighed, rising to his feet and combing back his tussles of damp hair, "oh...honestly," he whispered, "I'm feeling my age."
Bending in an arch he heard his back crack as bone detested his movements. Gingerly he headed out of the bedroom, smelling the rich, wonderful smells of dinner and desert, making his stomach grumble from being so horribly neglected.
Emily could still cook up a storm, obviously her years ruling the diner had payed off. It was still odd, no, slightly creepy maybe, to realise she had married his grandfather but he was inwardly glad that the two of them in the autumn years of their lives could find happiness and be content together.
His Grandfather deserved it.
Taking the path down the stairs, a path he had taken so many times before, Yugi felt a smile snake it way across his lips. His hand flayed over his stomach, wishing he could distil the butterflies fluttering within. Memories lingered in the walls, just like the paint was chipped and the carpet worn; the memories were stained into the very makeup of the Kame Game shop.
The shop had seen him through the early years of his life, it had been his refuge, his safe haven. It had seen the first time he had hit a wall so hard in frustration from the constant bullying. Its walls had witnessed the first time he had solved three rubric cubes under the record time even though no one had believed him the next day. The windows had reflected first time he had touched Yami's illusionary solid form. The bed sheets had cradled them the first time they had cried together.
His chest tightened.
It was like walking through a gallery of memories and he could just pluck at them one by one, recalling to mind the smell, taste and sight of everything that had happened. The sleep-over's, the late night duels, Joey trying to convince him to watch porn, Tea running up the stairs to kick his door in when he was late for school, Tristan vomiting his hang-over all over the bathroom, Ryou sobbing after a failed suicide attempt (which had left all of them somewhat shocked and unable to leave him alone for months afterwards.)
And, in it all...Yami's ever present shadow watching in protection and chuckling in the back of his mind.
It always went onward.
Yugi ran his fingers down the wall as he descended the stairs from the bedrooms down into the living room areas. The texture made him shiver, since the paint was beginning to flake from age and he doubted his Grandfather would get around to repainting anytime soon.
Drawn towards the brighter light of the kitchen Yugi wrinkled his nose from the divine smell of Emily's cooking. He tipped around the doorway, spotting the old woman behind the kitchen counter, Sol perched on the granite. The boy welded a large wooden spoon, licking it happily.
Emily, dressed in her usual red dress from another era, her long greying hair done up in a high bun, turned around from the oven and waved at him in greeting.
"Good shower, Space?"
Yugi headed to the set kitchen bench, leaning upon it wearily. He held out a finger, digging it into a bowl of cookie mixture.
"Same old shower." Yugi hummed in delight at the wonderful sight of dinner set out on plates. "Bit lonely, but fine."
Emily poked her head up from the oven, "I do not need to know you and the hot-shot do in the shower, Space."
Yugi dead-panned her with a white face. "Emily! I do not do anything in the shower...Yami and I have conversations!"
"In the shower." Emily planted her hands upon her hips, her eyebrows raised in mirth at his horrified expression.
"So...some people sing in the shower, Yami and I discuss human intellect, the universal laws of physics, the planet's imminent demise..."
"Ah, yes," Emily poked his nose, "and some people do-."
Leaning forward Yugi slapped his hands over Sol's ears, "Kid in the room."
"Come on, Space darling, I am just educating you on the facts of life."
"I know the facts of life." Grabbing a high chair Yugi hoisted himself up upon it, allowing the grandmother to place a plate in front of him. Sol crawled over the bench top, joining him on his own high-chair.
Emily leaned upon the counter, "Hon, you don't know nothing. Look at you, all grown up and thinking you know more than me. I know what showers are for; you obviously don't and need education."
"Oh, don't worry Emily dear, I covered that conversation with him years ago." Solomon's voice called out from the stair-well up into the living area of the shop. "Right after the good-looking Pharaoh landed in the mix."
"Jii-chan!" Yugi slapped both hands to his face, groaning. "Erk, this...this is why I should never have let you two get married."
"Buck it up, Space..." Emily pointed at his nose, "In this house, your grandfather and I are still the elders and you...honey, are still our little Yugi. Now eat, eat, eat, put more fat on your bones!" She slapped his head firmly.
Yugi rolled his eyes. Beside him Sol giggled. The light smiled faintly down at the child, glad that the boy had at least forgotten the troubles he had been feeling that day.
Emily gave him a side-ways wink.
Yugi mouthed, 'thank you' and tucked into the food in front of him.
Yes, indeed, it was good to be home.
The taste of chocolate chip cookies lingered in his mouth as he sat at the computer desk of his old room. Only the light of his small laptop screen lit the area. His old room had barely changed. He could slip back into normal routines he had once had whenever he visited the Kame Game Shop. Part of his mind was waiting for Yami to appear, lounging on the bed with a thick book or with arms looped around his shoulders.
Yugi smiled weakly, touching his head, giving a long yawn as the memories make his skin prickle. All the times he had Yami had spent in the room, discussing the most stupid of topics or even just lying on the floor in silence, trying to gain a better understanding of their mental link, all of it carried over into their adult-hood.
He had been so scared as a teenager, not knowing what was transpiring, not knowing what or who Yami really was but always, somewhere, inside, he had known he was staring at himself.
"Shadow-lag." Yugi yawned again, "I can't believe you can get Shadow-lag..."
"Dad..." Sol's tiny little voice startled him and Yugi twisted around in the chair, peering through the laptop light at the small boy rising from the large bed in the corner of the room.
"Solly...sorry, did I wake you?"
"No...I can't sleep." Sol's large red eyes blinked and he slid himself out of the bed.
"What is it baby?" Yugi shifted back his chair from the computer desk and allowed the small boy to climb into his lap. Fiddling with the Puzzle Sol rested his head upon the young man's chest as Yugi leant back in his large chair.
Finally Sol pulled away and flashed his hands in a swift movement. Yugi frowned at the fast paced sign language, hard to catch in the dim light. He brushed at the boy's tussled of familiar locks. It was uncanny how much Sol did not look like him. He had pictures of himself as a child, of the same age, and Sol should have looked near identical considering he was a clone and yet something about the boy made him oddly different. He supposed it was the same as identical twins, there was always going to be something that stood them apart.
"Try again Sol, I couldn't catch that." Yugi saved his word document with a click of the mouse.
Sol moved his hands again, slower this time.
::Do you ever get the feeling that someone is trying to tell you something?::
Yugi raised an eyebrow and looked steadily at Sol. For a moment he searched the child's face. He was being serious.
"What do you mean Sol? Who's trying to tell you something?"
The boy shrugged, the over-sized jumper he wore slipped down his shoulder at the movement. Yugi hitched it back around his shoulders, noticing it was one of Yami's few 'real, physical' jumpers. Inwardly he had to smile at Sol's strange habit of wearing their clothes. Anything to tight and the young six year old would break down in tears about being choked.
Sol opened his mouth to speak, his face contorted in frustration when words did not come. He tried again. "I don't know who he is Dad...but he is very sad and his sadness is overwhelming. I can feel it through the shadows..."
"Solomon, there are a lot of people in the world who are sad. Maybe you're just feeling the overall sorrow of humanity." Yugi stood, holding the boy on his hip as he wandered out of the small office and into the kitchen. He propped Sol upon the granite bench and took up the kettle, pouring water into it to begin the routine task of making hot chocolate.
"I don't think so Dad." The soft little voice returned. "And...he isn't talking to me, because...its more like a feeling inside." Sol pointed to his tummy. "In here. Like a string is being pulled and it hurts me. I donna like it Dad."
Yugi kissed the boy's forehead gently, hugging him closer. "It's alright Sol, I know its all overwhelming for you." Yugi gazed upward at the window in the ceiling, at the dark sky of the night. "But someday, it'll all make sense..."
Ryou felt his hands tremble slightly as he gathered together the sheets of paper scattered across his desk. It was always a nibbling worry in the back of his mind that he would fall back into the old habit of negativity, of being with-drawn, depressed and sodden. The trembling hands were a first sign, a sign that he needed to rebalance with Bakura before he lost all control of his thought-patterns.
It had been a curious day, hanging Christmas decorations throughout the manor with Anakin and his Butler. In a week or so from now the Church Fair would call him out of his manor to the lower regions of his town, yes, it was his town, he owned it, no one just knew that he owned it, but he did. And, as usual, he would make sure the weather was fine and pristine for the fair, after all, why not let the peasants, no...town-folk, have their fun in the sun.
Ryou thinned his eyes, shuffling away the paper into the filing cabinet.
His office was silent, apart from the sound of the pattering rain upon the windows. Such a sweet, wonderful melody it was too.
The long day had made him weary. He leaned back upon the desk, giving a long sigh as his loose white hair dribbled over his shoulders like silk. He so desperately wanted to curl up in front of the heater with Bakura playing a melancholy tune upon the grand piano.
He shook his head, rubbing his hands together. His darkness was not with him and he could never blame the spirit for wanting to experience things and be somewhere where his strengths could aid Earth and her people. The dark spirit deserved to be allowed to fulfil his role, even in death.
He had little doubt that Anakin had escaped right after diner to work on his latest project down in the basement, which had left him alone to ponder things alone. Sometimes, it wasn't a good thing to be alone, his mind would very well betray him.
It was always that fear he was fall back into the hole he had once inhabited as a teenager. He never wanted to find that hole again. He did not want Yugi to have to pull him back out and find his light again.
His job in the Pharaoh's Court was rather simple, in theory. He was the mediator of research, anything of the supernatural, unusual, with-or-without possible connection to alien/ otherworldly events he collected, filed and if needed reported what he discovered to Yugi or a corresponding Priest – depending on the area of involvement.
The light paused for a moment from filing away the latest gatherings of information, he could hear the faint echo of sarcasm in his own mind.
With a long sigh he slid himself into his welcoming royal chair and rubbed at the back of his neck, sore from bearing the weight of the Ring.
"When, I wonder...did it ever become natural for me to think the words supernatural...shadow realm...aliens and otherworldly crossed with anti-realties and distant galaxies." He dusted his glasses off with the rim of his silken shirt. "When my Father gave me a magical ring...no..." He paused from slipping his squared spectacles over the bridge of his nose, he cast his sad gaze out across the English country side heavy with distant clouds rolling over the green moors beyond his manor.
"No, it was before that, wasn't it..."
A faint groan of wood brought him out of his thoughts and he tipped his head up to watch as the double glass doors to his office opened. Edison, his ever present, God-sent Butler wandered through. The tall, black haired man, regal and elegant in his poise with tender yet securitising gaze entered with a near royal approach, seeming to glide over the marble flooring. He bore upon a silver platter in one hand the down-stairs old-fashioned phone (Anakin had up-graded everything else to state-of-the-art communications light-years beyond Earth). In his other hand he gracefully held another platter of evening tea.
"A phone call for you, sir." Edison's monotone voice, bland and gentle, held no tinge of emotion what so ever. Edison showed his thoughts by his brushy brows and stark blue eyes. Ryou noted the faint sign of distain across the old man's brow.
The English-lord gave a frown of confusion, easing himself up from his seat to take the phone. It was not often that he received phone-calls from anyone. He could hardly be called a part of the English community and he had every belief that the peasants-no...right...town-folk of the village below thought him to be the eeriest of freaky vampire like lords, considering he rarely ventured out and about.
Answering his unspoken question Edison strengthened his shoulders, indicating it was not good news. "It is the Prime Mistier."
There it was again, that thought that somehow his Butler was telepathic, but no, in truth he was sure Edison could tell very easily from his facial expression what he was thinking.
"Again..." Ryou hissed darkly, holding the wireless phone to his ear.
Edison applied himself to preparing the evening tea, slicing up a small cake, giving the impression that he was no interested in whatever the conversation was.
"Hello again Harold." Ryou snapped abruptly into the phone. "What? No...I do beg your pardon, no! Harold, listen to me, I said the first time and my answer is still no. I will not be pulled into your political hogwash. No, Harold, it is not my place...do be a good chap and listen, because if you ring me again, I will set my Butler onto you."
Edison's lips perked up into the faintest touch of a smile at the threat.
Ryou paused from conversation, rolling his eyes as he listened to the voice on the other end of the line.
"Good lord, Harold! I am not part of your Secret Service! You cannot just order me to do something. Shall I remind you that I am Knighted under the Queen's service, not yours...I am under no obligation to do anything you say. If you want me to do something go ask the Queen and then call back. Oh, but yes, Harold, I am being serious. No, you should not ask the Queen if you wish to keep the secret government secret...why? Because I will make your life a living hell."
Ryou held the phone away from his ear slightly, shouting into the mouth piece. "I do not want to play a giant game of chess with you and your shambolic government, Harold. Leave me alone!"
He ditched the phone into the nearest futon and fisted his hands, propped them atop the desk surface.
His tussle of loose white hair fell over his face. He brushed them aside.
"That man, Edison, is balmy on the crumpet."
Edison held out a cup of tea upon a painted china saucer. "Tea sir?"
Ryou raised his head wearily and gave a smile at the kind and tender expression upon the older man's face. With a nod Ryou took the offered tea and gently settled himself down upon the futon by the fire place of the office, loving its homey warmth and the colour of its deep red flames.
"Thank you, Edison." He whispered, bringing the delightful beverage to his lips and allowing it to sooth away the worries and turmoil buzzing within his mind.
"It could be important sir; he has rung three times now..." Daring to interject Edison placed down a slice of cake.
With a vacant gaze upon the fire Ryou shifted slightly, his silken robe dribbling down his shoulder akin to the manner of his hair. He sipped his drink before replying.
"If it is important enough, Edison, he can walk out of Downing Street, get into a car and come to my front door like any normal human, knock politely and ask to have tea with me. Not that he would do anything more than whinge at me..." Ryou raised his chin high. "One simply does not demand for me to come in...honestly, what am I? A hound?" He implored. "I think not..."
Edison wandered to the large windows and drew closed the royal-purple heavily weighed curtains, vanishing the chill from the outside world. For a moment he did not answer, seeming to quell the frustration in his lords manner.
"You are old fashioned sir," Edison busily gathered up the silver platters and headed towards the door, "and sadly, I must tell you, outside of this castle, time is moving onward..." The old butler open the door and left.
Ryou breathed out darkly, settling upon the futon. He gazed once more into the crackling flames of the fire.
The Prime Minister gave a long, slow sigh of defeat, massaging his head wearily.
"I am sorry Albus." Harold placed down the phone and looked across the office to the aged Wizard standing beside the warm light of the fire. "You are just going to need to find another way to contact him...Ryou Bakura is stubborn and...dangerous...his family...have always been highly respected. They are old..."
"They have been highly respected in both our worlds..." The crippled, age worn hand tugged on the long, frazzled beard and Dumbledore sighed heavily. "Thank you, Harold, for trying." He inclined his head towards the British Prime Minster before he turned to leave.
Harold held out a hand for a moment. "What are you going to do, Albus?"
Dumbledore paused for a moment, the wrinkles of his brow creasing darker in thought. "I do not know..." He whispered before he vanished in a crack, leaving the Prime Minister standing alone in his silent and dark office. Harold collapsed back into his seat, turning solemnly to the window to watch the rain outside.
"A storm is coming."
Oh boy...bit of a long episode heh. ^^;; Thanks for reading my friends. Wishing you all the best.