MBP: I'M BACK!

Rini: Finally...

Kio: It's been a while...

MBP: QUIET! Well, I'm sorry, but I've been really obsessed with SA, and I had writer's block when it came to YGO... but now I have SA writer's block, and ideas for YGO...

Kio: I'm sorry...

MBP: Not your fault... Well, it's also the holidays, so this is also a X-Mas present for Mamoru4ever, so I hope she likes the idea.

Rini: I'm sure she will!

MBP: In case you don't know, Rini and Kioshi(Kio for short) are the evil voices in my head that appeared after school started...

Rini: We hope you enjoy this!

Kio: She doesn't own anything...


Forever Together

Six Years Old

The six year old girl dashed through the halls of the palace in a hurry. Her teacher, though he seemed more like an older brother than a teacher, was trying to catch up to her, without any success.

"Mana, get back here!" Mahado called to the girl, sounding exasperated.

Mana merely sped up, giggling as she lost Mahado.

Of course, it didn't help that he knew his way around the palace, and she didn't yet. She'd only been there a few days, and even then, the most she'd explored was her bedroom, Mahado's bedroom, and his workshop.

Getting lost was not good when you were trying to run from someone.

Seeing her chance to hide, and lose Mahado, Mana took it. Finding a large vase, she leapt inside, nearly jumping in shock when she discovered someone else in her brilliant hiding place.

"Hey!" Mana covered the boy's mouth with her hand, and shook her head, a plea in her eyes.

"Please, please, please don't yell!" She hissed. "I don't want to get caught!" She only let go when the boy agreed silently not to give the hiding spot away. Mana had a slight idea it was only because he didn't want to get caught either.

"Mana! Where did she go?" Mahado walked right by their hiding place, not even suspecting where she was. He continued to walk until he was far away from the vase.

Mana jumped out of the vase, laughing happily, and then helped the boy out. His violet eyes examined her as she spun in a circle.

"Hi!" Mana giggled, locking gazes with him as she stopped spinning. "I'm Mana! Sorry about that!"

"Mana?"

"Yeah!" Mana didn't realize the boy's quiet manner. "Mahado's going to be my teacher! I'm going to be a magician!" "He's... your teacher?" The boy seemed to repeat things a lot.

"Yep!" Mana was bright and cheerful as she took the boy's hands. "It was nice meeting you! I'd better go before someone finds me! Bye!" Mana began to run away before turning around to look at the boy.

"We... will see each other again... right?" Mana asked, looking a little insecure and sad at the thought.

"Yes... we will..."

"Yay!" Mana was back to grinning as she ran away, leaving the boy in front of the vase, watching her as she retreated farther into the palace.

() () () () () ()

Mana fidgeted as she followed her teacher to the palace's main dining hall. In the few days she'd been at the palace, she'd only eaten in her room or Mahado's workshop. She hadn't even met most of the priests and priestesses, let alone the Pharoah, or his son, both of whom were supposed to be there that night.

Mahado was perfectly calm, ignoring the fact that he was forced to wear a different pair of robes that he didn't particularly like. Mana had burnt his good ones earlier... which was why she was running.

Mana giggled as she remembered her first attempt at fire magic. Sure, she was only supposed to be lighting a candle, but surely his robes worked just as well? It proved she could use fire at any rate!

"Mana... behave yourself inside, do you hear?" Mahado warned. "I can't do anything if you insult someone."

"Okay!" Mana smiled innocently at her teacher. "I won't! I promise!" Mahado looked at her for a moment, judging to see if he believed her.

"If you get in trouble Mana, you won't be learning any more magic until you learn manners," Mahado said as a thought. It certainly worked, because Mana decided right then and there to keep her mouth shut as long as possible.

Mahado led her in the room, undaunted by all the stares that came from everyone else. He led her straight to the Pharaoh's eating area, where they both bowed respectfully.

"Mahado." Even the Pharaoh's voice sounded forbidding... Mana kept her eyes on the ground, suddenly uncharacteristically shy. "So, this is your young apprentice?"

"Yes. Mana, introduce yourself," Mahado ordered gently.

"H-hello..." Mana kept her face diverted, quiet out of nerves. She was used to Mahado, but being around other people from the palace made her a little nervous.

"No need to be shy," the Pharaoh said gently. "Why don't the two of you sit here and eat? Atemu, make room for young Mana here."

Mana looked up to see the boy from earlier scooting over to make room for her. "Huh? B-but, weren't you..." The boy's eyes widened and he shook his head discreetly. "Never mind!"

"Mana? Did you say something?" Mahado asked.

"Nope! Nothing!" Mana skipped over to the seat next to Atemu and grinned. "Fancy meeting you here!"

"Uh..." Atemu looked at Mana as if she was crazy.

"I didn't expect you to be the Pharaoh's son!" Mana giggled. "But you know, I'm still not nervous talking to you! Weird, huh?"

Atemu didn't need to answer since Mana kept talking for him. "I'm really nervous talking to everyone else but you and Mahado, so it's kind of strange! But cool too! Hey, why were you hiding in that vase earlier anyway?" Mana's voice became quiet, to hide it from the other two at the table.

"I... was hiding from the mannerisms teacher..." Atemu admitted shame-faced. Mana giggled at the thought of the future Pharaoh skipping a lesson on manners and diplomatic ideas.

"Really? I was hiding because I lit Mahado's robes on fire!" Mana laughed at Atemu's face. "My first attempt with fire!"

"Is that why he's wearing robes he said he never wanted to wear again?" Atemu asked, wide-eyed.

"Yep!" Mana grinned at Atemu, and continued to chatter endlessly. Even if he was royalty, he seemed like any normal boy, and that was just fine with her.

Plus, she had a feeling they were going to be great friends!

Nine Years Old

"Atemu, hide!" Mana grabbed the boy's hand as she ran past him, dragging him with her. "Hurry, he's coming!"

"Mana, I..." Mana cut off his protests by stuffing him into a vase and following him inside.

"Shhh! You're going to get us caught!" Mana cowered inside the vase, holding him down at the same time. Atemu could hear Mahado bellowing for the girl to get back to the workshop, even from in the vase.

"What did you do?" Atemu hissed. Mana covered his mouth and glared at him, shaking her head.

"Shhh! I'll tell you later, but be quiet until he goes away!" Mana and Atemu stayed in the vase, even as Mahado walked by.

"Mana, get back here right now! I know you're hiding!" Mahado stormed by after a moment, and Mana greeted his departure with a giggle.

"Okay, he's gone!" Mana giggled, helping the young prince out of the vase.

"Mana, what did you do?" Atemu asked again, watching the young girl giggle and stretch.

"Oh, I made it rain in his bedroom!" Mana replied, taking Atemu by the hand and pulling him. "Come on, let's go explore!"

"How did you..." Atemu decided he didn't really want to know exactly how Mana made it rain in Mahado's bedroom. "I have a class."

"Arithmetic, right? Boring! You know you'd rather explore with me!" Mana laughed. "Come on, one class! Please!"

Atemu gave in. She would just follow him all day, or run around wreaking havoc for everyone else. Put that way, he was doing the palace a favor really.

"Fine."

"Yay!" Mana dragged Atemu to an old wing of the palace, where no one had gone in years. "Okay, we'll start here today! I'll go this way, you go that way, and we'll meet up here!" Mana dashed off in a hurry, waving quickly behind her back. Atemu left at a much more reasonable pace.

() () () () () ()

Mana ran up to the meeting spot, looking vaguely disappointed. "All empty, dusty rooms," she pouted. "What did you find?"

"The same," Atemu shrugged. He hadn't expected much more. "Should we..."

"Did you look in this door?" Mana stood in front of a door that was by the area they were at.

"No..."

"Me neither! Let's look!" Mana pushed open the door and ran inside. "Aah!"

"Mana!" Atemu ran in after the girl and nearly bumped into her. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah... Look at all the gold!" Mana was wide-eyed. "There's so much of it!"

Atemu looked around, and gaped. As prince, he was used to gold, and lots of it, but seeing a whole room of it was a lot for anyone. The shelves were completely covered in gold ornaments and bars, and the floor was covered with golden statues and more gold bars. All in all, it was enough to make anyone drool.

"Hey Atemu... No one will notice if a bar or two goes missing, will they?" Mana asked. "I could use my magic and..."

"And what Mana?" Mahado appeared behind the two suddenly, causing them both to jump in surprise.

"Hi Mahado!" Mana recovered quickly. "Did the rain stop yet?" Mahado glared at her, which she returned with a bright grin. "Well, did it?"

"You are going to go clean it up," Mahado said, and Mana frowned. "And you Atemu... don't you have classes to attend?"

"Yes Mahado..." Both children chorused, bowing their heads.

Mana noticed Atemu looked like he was in complete shame. "It's not Atemu's fault Mahado... I dragged him away!"

Atemu jolted and looked the girl's way. "Wait, Mana, I..."

"I'll see you tomorrow Atemu!" Mana grinned and waved as Mahado herded her away. "If Mahado doesn't kill me first!" Mahado rolled his eyes, and bowed a farewell to the young prince.

"Until tomorrow Mana," Atemu said quietly, seemingly seeing the bright girl completely for the first time.

He didn't mind missing classes for her. A minute enjoying himself with her was worth the hours of punishment sure to come, as long as he could hear her laugh, and laugh with her.

Thirteen Years Old

"Mana, we're getting too big for this..." Atemu was red as Mana squeezed herself into the vase. There wasn't anymore room left to move, and as it was, Mana had to lean into Atemu to fit completely.

"Shh! They'll hear us!" Following ritual, Atemu fell silent and held as still as possible. Which wasn't much, considering how... uncomfortable... their positioning was.

Mana was situating between his legs, her back against his chest as he tried to avoid as much contact as was humanly possible in the situation. His bare arms would brush against hers, and insane thoughts about how soft her skin was would pop into his head.

It was best that he find a way to convince Mana that there was no way that they could fit into the vases together like this anymore.

"Mana! Atemu! Where are you?" Mahado stormed by, and the footsteps indicated that the other pursuer, Seto, was also after them.

"Are they hiding perhaps, Priest Mahado?" Seto asked, sounding as if he was scowling.

Mahado didn't reply, only kept moving, and after a moment, Seto followed.

Mana stood to get out of the vase, the same time Atemu did, but she was also turning, so that they were looking at each other as they stood face to face, trapped.

Mana giggled and wriggled to squeeze out of the vase, and when she succeeded, Atemu followed. He wasn't sure why he was getting so embarrassed that she was doing stuff like this, since she'd been doing it for years, but nonetheless, he was nervous around his childhood friend.

"Come on Atemu, let's go! He'll leave if we're late!" Mana pulled Atemu towards the palace kitchens, where she leapt onto the room and leaned over to give Atemu a hand up. "Let's go, let's go!"

They hurried carefully to the normal spot: the roof over Mana's bedroom.

"Bakura! Are you here?" Mana looked around and grinned, waving at the familiar boy.

"Hello..." Bakura watched Mana hop over happily. "Wreak any havoc today?"

"Don't make fun of me, I got you food!" Mana frowned playfully. "See?" "Looks alright," Bakura teased the girl. "Why hello Prince; Too important to sit with the two of us?"

Atemu walked over to them, taking a seat next to Mana. He never minded the boy's insults. Atemu had gotten past the point where Bakura annoyed him anymore. The thief boy enjoyed taunting him, but it was all in friendly fun... or at least, Atemu thought it was in friendly fun.

"Don't be mean to Atemu!" Mana defended Atemu in a heartbeat. "He's really nice, and you know that!

"Yeah," Bakura rolled his eyes playfully. "So, where'd this food come from? Steal it from the kitchens?"

"No!" Mana seemed indignant that anyone would even think she was a thief, and then she grinned. "I took it from Mahado's room!" "Is that why he was chasing you?" Atemu asked.

"No! I kinda... well... there was a mini tornado in his workshop!" Mana giggled happily. "It spun, and spun, and his papers went everywhere!" "So... you messed up again?" Bakura asked.

"I don't mess up that much!" Mana protested.

"Really? What about the flash flood?" Bakura reminded the girl.

"Or the time you accidentally made Mahado fall in love with one of the dancing girls?" Atemu brought up.

"Or the singing plums?"

"Or when you flooded his bedroom?"

"And when she teleported half the kitchen staff halfway across Egypt?"

"And the time she made Mahado and Isis switch bodies?"

"I get it!" Mana frowned. "You're both so mean!" Both boys were taken aback when she looked about to cry.

"Aah! Mana, please don't cry!" Atemu put a hand on her shoulder, trying to comfort her.

"Yeah. Feel free to hit him if you need to hurt someone!" Bakura was quick to put Atemu in the way of Mana's wrath.

"Why me?" Atemu asked.

"Because you don't have a long ride home."

"I have other things I actually need my body for!"

Mana suddenly jumped up and hugged both boys tightly. "I can't believe you thought I was crying!" She giggled. "Was it really that good?"

"You... were... faking?"

"Yep! I'm going to do that to Mahado next time he gets angry! He's just as bad as you two when I look like I'm about to cry!" Mana was laughing openly now. "You two are so silly!"

"Really?" Bakura looked at Atemu, mischief in his eyes. "I think this entitles revenge, don't you?" "You hold her down, I'll tickle her?" Atemu offered, the same mischief in his as Mana began to back away.

"Deal." The boys pounced on Mana, who protested and tried to fight back, laughing all the while.

() () () () () ()

"Atemu? Bakura?" Mana was looking at the sky, lying down in between the two boys.

"Yeah?"

"What?"

"We're always going to be friends, right?" Mana looked completely serious, which didn't happen very often. "We're going to be friends forever, right?"

There was silence for a moment as the boys thought about it.

"Well... yeah..." Atemu said after a moment. "Friends." "Whatever," Bakura stretched out on the roof. "I'm here aren't I? Isn't that enough?"

Mana laughed, back to normal. "I guess. Friends then!" Mana took the hands of both the boys and laid down on the roof, chattering about random things until they all had to go back to normal palace life.

Seventeen Years Old

Atemu was looking for Mana, worried about how she was after what had happened with Mahado. "Mana?" She wasn't in her bedrooms, or the workshop, or anywhere else. As a last resort, he was wandering the hallways, and checking every vase he found.

"Mana, I know you're hiding. Where are you?" Atemu was beginning to get really worried. He hoped she hadn't done anything rash, like going out to find Bakura.

He heard a slight movement behind him, and just barely saw Mana turning a corner, running away from him.

"Mana!" Atemu followed his childhood friend, trying to catch up. "Mana, wait!"

Mana kept running, not even looking back, but Atemu heard a distinct sob as she tried to get away.

"Mana..." Atemu couldn't leave her alone. Not when she was hurting so much, not when she had lost Mahado, not when she had finally found their old friend, only to discover he wanted them all dead.

Atemu followed her up to the roof, the same roof that they had once met with Bakura, back when everything seemed so simple. She was sitting on the roof, her face hidden as she sobbed into her hands, trying to hide it.

"Mana..." Atemu knelt next to her and placed a hand on her shoulder. Mana immediately turned and placed her face in his chest, continuing to cry.

"Why?" She sobbed. "Why did this happen?" Atemu didn't have an answer, couldn't give her what she needed, but a shoulder to cry on, strength to rely on.

"We... we said... we'd be friends forever!" Mana cried, looking at Atemu. "Why would he..." Her sobs took over again, and she was unable to speak. Atemu held her head as she cried herself to sleep, crying for her lost ones, crying with all the pain she was trying to hide.

() () () () () ()

Mana had cried herself to sleep, and Atemu had very carefully carried her down to her bedroom. Sighing to himself, he sat down next to her bed, and waited for her to wake up.

"Mmm..." Mana rolled over in bed, tearstains down her cheeks.

"Damn you Bakura..." Atemu growled to himself. "I'll kill you for this."

Atemu watched Mana's normally happy face remain in sad, and the anger continued to roll deep within him.

"How dare you make her cry?" Atemu glared at the vision of Bakura in his head. "How dare you even think to hurt her? You claimed to love her, and..."

Atemu shook away the thought. He didn't want to remember that last time Bakura had come to him before this. The last time that Bakura had come, he had brought along other revelations, besides loving Mana.

"I don't care if you hate me," Atemu said to himself. "But you're destroying the only thing we both love equally..."

"Atemu?" Mana looked at Atemu, speaking suddenly. "What did you say?"

"Nothing." Atemu tried to put the anger aside for now, to bring comfort. The anger would only hurt her, not help.

"Atemu, I..." Mana swallowed back more tears as she looked at the Pharaoh, the boy she'd know for years, and the boy she loved.

"Mana?" Atemu watched her face for more tears.

"W-when Bakura attacked, I thought it was a mistake... But it's not, is it?" Mana asked, holding the tears back as best as she could, but her eyes blurred just the same.

Atemu shook his head in reply, falling more in love as he watched her try to put away the pain. "It's okay to cry you know."

"No... I can't cry." Mana sat up in bed and reached for her wand. "I can't. People are dying. People I care about. I won't let anyone else die!" Mana was standing now.

"Are you prepared to fight against your friend?" Atemu asked, not wanting to hear the answer.

"I don't know..." Mana replied. "But I know... I can't let him hurt you because I..." Mana turned bright red and looked away. "Because I love you."

Atemu stared in shock. Surely she meant as a brother, right? "Mana..." "I know you probably can't think about it now," Mana tried to look at him and smile. "But when it comes down to it... if I had to choose between you and Bakura... I couldn't let you die!" Mana went to leave, when Atemu grabbed her arm and pulled her back towards him. "You can't say that and just leave," Atemu murmured in her ear. "Not now Mana."

"I... I have to... go... plan..." Mana protested weakly as Atemu turned her to him. "Plan... a... um.."

"Not now Mana," Atemu repeated. "Tell me again... how do you feel about me?" He had to hear it again, make sure he hadn't heard wrong.

"I... I love you..." Mana whispered, looking down at the ground.

"Mana..." Atemu lifted her chin with his fingers. "I love you too." Then, quietly, with moonlight just reaching them through the windows, he kissed her soft lips with the lightest amount of pressure he could.

He pulled away, looking at her with a question in his eyes. "Will you stay with me? Forever?"

Mana's eyes filled, and she nodded. "Forever."


MBP: God, it's been a while... I really hope this is good...

Rini: I'm sure it's fine!

Kio: It's not bad... I hope that your friend enjoys it...

MBP: Me too!

Rini: Well, you know the next step! You see the review button, and you know you want to press it!