YES! FINALLY! Finished it before I went on vacation and a week later thanks to lack of internet, technology issues and other crap, got it edited and up! Phew!
Dedications: To Jess and Sakura, for editing this super fast and since i could compare both i got it edited up in no time! I love you both so much! thanks for putting up with my horrible grammar.
Disclaimer: Takehashi owns the characters I own the frost fairies and the plot.
Now without further ado and complications...the FINAL chapter of my Masterpiece: THE FROST KING
"I can't believe I let you talk me into this," Yugi complained, curling his shortened, glamoured fingers into the fabric of his coat. His determination to keep the secret hidden was rivaled only by his annoyance with his King and husband for bribing him into wearing it.
"Now, now, none of that," Yami chided gently but the patronizing undertone only fueled Yugi's annoyance. The King smiled at Yugi's glare and added "Mana would've been heartbroken if you refused her, and poor Syrus worked so hard…besides you look so adorable!" in the delightful perkiness used only when a parent dresses up a child despite the child's dismay.
Immediately, Yugi frazzled like an angry kitten. "I don't want to look adorable at a wedding," he spat coldly under his breath. "I want to look sophisticated." He snapped with a juvenile whine, and crossed his arms in a childish pout, but Yami's disapproving frown made him shrink, mortified and red. "Okay, that was a little rude," he apologized, but quickly added. "But I'm still mad at you!"
"Me, what did I do?" Yami protested, avertingly.
Yugi's glare shifted and his mouth curled into a suspicious, incriminating smile. "You bribed me to wear this stupid thing!" He gestured to the outfit with one hand, but kept the other tightly clenched about the collar. The opening slit revealed a sliver of the silver outfit he wore beneath, but the rest was still carefully hidden beneath the thick royal purple high collared trench coat. He'd hoped the curling blue, green and silver flamers decorating the tale and hems would distract everyone from what lay hidden underneath, but too late he realized, in his haste Syrus had no time to sew on the buttons, leaving Yugi to hold it closed the entire night.
"I did not," Yami protested incredulously, but the tilt of his chin skillfully revealed a guilty conscious. "I merely suggested it is all."
"Yes, after you sexed me into a coma and told Syrus to pack for me!" Yugi snapped, keeping his breath low enough for only Yami to hear.
Yami's pout curled into a leer, and leaned forward, a Cheshire cat smile meeting Yugi's pout. "You say that like you didn't enjoy it," a sultry rasp magnified the force behind that killer smirk, but Yugi was no longer a meek-willed human easily seduced, and flicked Yami's nose, causing him to recoil like a cat that had been splashed and covered the abused appendage.
"I did but that's not the point," Yugi protested, and looked away.
Yami snorted. "Oh come now, could you say no to Syrus when he went through so much effort to make it for you. Chazz said he barely slept and when he did he stumbled into their room looking like the dead." Yami gestured his chin to their four sons, who were enjoying the strange weather while their fathers talked.
Cherry blossom season had always been the favored time in Japan for weddings, regardless of the fashion, and though they existed in both Hokkaido and Winter Fairy land, they were rare to behold, and currently the four boys were delightfully running through the maze of woody trunks and dancing in a blizzard of scintillating pink and white petals. Even Chazz, who'd only grown more controlled with the passing time, had surrendered his neutral mask and flushed like a child whenever a dainty petal landed in his cup hands.
The aforementioned Syrus was currently pouncing on Jaden causing the two to land in a pile of fallen flowers sending a cloud of them raining about them. His silvery eyes sparkled with childish wonder and his smiled was impossibly bright and so wide, it was a miracle his cheeks hadn't frozen in to that shape. The memory of those same eyes bright and shinning with pride and accomplishment and a triumphant grin splitting his face from ear to ear whenever he appeared with a new outfit for either his father, step-father or siblings, and eagerly waiting their approval, made Yugi cringed at the thought of such a sweet picture transforming into something distraught because of his own subconscious.
"No, I couldn't," Yugi confessed softly.
"I honestly, don't know why you're so upset," Yami said, wrapping Yugi in a comforting embrace. "You look wonderful."
"I know I do," Yugi confessed again, but bit his lip. "It's just so…revealing." It was the only word he could up with.
Yami blinked in confusion. "How? You're completely covered? You even have pants?"
"You know what I mean." Yugi dragged out the word, knowing full well Yami would understand him. They had no secrets anymore. They couldn't keep them if they tried and they didn't want to.
Yami blinked for a moment than chuckled with a gentle, understanding smile. He hugged his little one tightly and kissed his cheek whispering. "It still looks really good on you."
Yugi rolled his eyes; there was a pout in them but a smile on his face. "I know, but I still wish it wasn't so…"
"Don't worry," Yami promised. "No one will notice. They'll all be too focused on the reception, and speaking of which." He whistled loudly catching the four boys in mid-play. "Hurry up, boys the wedding is about to start." He gently took Yugi's hand and guided them towards their respective positions. Behind them Chazz hopped forward cuffing handfuls of his brother's coats and yanked them backwards.
Guests piled inside taking their seats, quickly, whipping away pedals that scatted on the wind and brushing fallen leaves from their clothes and hats. Perhaps an outdoor wedding wasn't the most practical but it conveyed the perfect mood and the gentle wind and dancing cherry blossoms conveyed the perfect magical, ethereal atmosphere the bride and groom wanted.
Yugi could only chuckle at that.
"Hey Yug," Joey called him over. Yugi found him and Tristan both decked out in suits and ties and vests at the front of the aisle, right where he expected.
"Aren't you hot in that coat man?" Tristan asked, noting Yugi's choice of attire.
"Nah, I'm alright," Yugi promised, clenching the coat's open slit so tightly his already white knuckled turned red.
"Ya sure? Ya guys don't overheat or anything like that right?" Joey asked, concerned.
"Oh no, the weather is perfect back home, but it's pretty easy to adapt to."
"That's good ta hear. Last thing I want is for you guys ta pass out before this thing even starts," Joey laughed.
"Speaking of which," Yugi gently shoved his friends into their places and rushed to take his own. "It's starting."
The room silenced as the wedding march started to play. As if on cue, a particularly gentle breeze swept the cherry blossoms into the air, forming a cascading, whirlwind around the bride-to-be, and followed the maiden of the hour down the aisle. Petals caught in the white laces of the bride's veil, hair and train. A small smile graced the faerie's bright faces as the bride approached, taking the groom's palm in hand and the two stood, glowing and radiant before the Minister who looked equally eager to marry them.
The readings read. Rings exchanged. Vows spoken with such love and devotion, several people shed tears. Even the best man had trouble staying calm.
No one knew a King and his Consort were about them. Let alone the King and Consort of a wintery Fairyland. Yet there they were, sitting in the front row and cheering the loudest when they kissed and the Minister closed his book and announced. "May I present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Wheeler!"
The whole garden was alive with delight and cheers, but none where louder than the four fairy boys shouting and jumping in excitement for their uncle, rowdy and wild even glamoured as normal teenagers. Even after seven years their behaviors remained as raucous and excitable as ever.
Yugi and Yami both cheered as the bride and groom walked by throwing flowers. Tristan was the best man. His own wife, Serenity, was the Maid of Honor.
"Yugi!" Mai bounce over to Yugi, once the reception started, and hugged him tight. "Oh I missed you! I'm so glad you came. Joey said your grandpa wasn't coming?"
"Hello to you too, Mai." Yugi laughed pulling himself free from the voluptuous woman's strong arms. "Yeah, he wanted to, but he said he was too old to travel," Yugi explained with shifting eyes, then leaned closed to Mai and held a hand between his mouth and her ear. "But between us, I think he's gotten spoiled since he retired."
Mai laughed, loud, elegant and voluminous. "Well, it certainly wouldn't surprise me. He deserved it after that whole fiasco a few years back. I have to say though, Yugi, you are the last person I ever thought would have a secret shotgun wedding."
A twitch of his eyebrow betrayed Yugi's calm demeanor. His eyes squeezed shut and his cheeks sucked in like he'd consumed something sour.
His and Yami's union had caused a media circus and in many ways still did to this day. It was a miracle the glamoured fairy family had been able to attend Joey and Mai's wedding in peace, but Yugi boldly stated he'd have been damned if he missed it. His disappearance from the hospital courtesy of Joey and Tristan just after his collapse at the Olympics made headlines alone, and had caused enough of a stir, but his sudden return, completely healthy, happily married and with four adopted teenaged kids only a month after the event, caused the biggest media mess anyone had ever seen. Yugi had only returned to claim his Gold Medal and help his grandpa sell his shop, which hadn't been easy with the media hiding in the bushes with cameras, and reporters shoving tape recorders in the faces of potential buyers demanding quotes. Finally, both men had gotten fed up and held a press conference.
They'd heard the rumors spreading since the Olympics. Yugi faking his illness for sympathy points among fans. Rumors of performance-enhancing drugs, and that his illness had in fact been an overdose, and his friends "kidnapped" him to hide the secret. No one actually believed he'd suddenly developed an allergy to metal. They'd poured into the area, cameras ready, microphones on max, tape recorders in hand: determined to get a confession and expose the scope. So it was to their shock, horror, embarrassment, and delight when Yugi Mouto had dragged his gorgeous husband forward, glamoured, of course, and announced that he had secretly married in a private ceremony, family and close friends only, and due to his poor health, and metal allergy (confirmed by his doctors), he would be retiring from professional skating and settling into the country with his new family.
Of course, this was only the catalyst for an even bigger media circus. A national celebrity coming out that he's gay and married, secretly, to a virtual unknown, who did not look thirty years Yugi's senior, yet had four teenage sons, all adopted? And retiring at the peak of his career to be a much older man's housewife? That was a bit of a slap to devoted fans, rivals who'd never get a second chance to take the crown, and idols who admired him to say the least. Not to mention homophobic foreigners and Japanese who didn't like the idea of a "gay man" winning the Gold, though the Emperor and Prime Minister were quick to put those rumors down, reminding the general public and their foreign guests that Japan was an equality country and there were no laws or prosecutions against homosexuals. And of course the gay community and the yaoi fandom population ate the story up and were determined to turn Yugi's marriage into an icon of sorts for the whole thing. The publicity and backlash had only confirmed Yugi's decision to leave and keep where they were going a secret, if not for the security of Fairyland, but for their own privacy.
Blood sucking tabloid piranhas certainly tried though. Over the course of two months, they'd received demands for TV and news interviews, all of which Solomon shredded without opening them, homophobic hate mail which a few phone calls to the police had quickly ended, complaints about harassment and broken cameras from an angry Solomon who chased down any paparazzi dumb enough to stand on their doorstep with his trusted broom, or demanding reconvention for the rolls of film the fairy boys and their prankster uncles destroyed with their paparazzi booby traps, many of which included ink, flare lights and various liquids and food products being dumped from buckets. Joey, Tristan and Yami even punched out a few stubborn reporters who downright refused to hear the word "No!" Fortunately, they were smart enough not to go through with them once Solomon said he was selling his shop so there really was nothing left to sue for.
Yugi hadn't really cared though. He only wanted his Medal, which he even declared he would be giving to his Grandfather anyway. After all this, he just wanted to return to Hokkaido with his new family. His goodbye speech had been short and to the point and touched enough heart strings to earn a cheerful send off. Once Grandpa had sold the shop, the family migrated without leaving any trace to rural Hokkaido. Being faeries made it easy to hide and return to Fairyland. The heat died down within a year or two, just in time for Joey and Tristan to make their annual part of the seven-year bargain.
"Ugh, what did you expect from those lie-weaving journalist vultures of Satan," Mai said with disgust, recalling her own disastrous encounters with the media. "Honesty and they wonder why we prefer not to tell them anything. I completely understand why you and your hubbie didn't tell anyone where you were moving after the wedding. Though I was disappointed, I didn't receive an invite."
"Oh Mai, don't be like that." Yugi smiled. "We only wanted a small ceremony, and as much as I love you, I didn't know you well enough seven years back to invite you."
"Oh no dear, I understand." she smiled. "Besides," she wrapped an arm around Yugi's shoulder and flashed a Cheshire smile. "I don't blame you for wanting to horde such a gorgeous man all to yourself, you naughty boy."
"Mai," Yugi dragged out her name like scolding an older sibling. "Didn't you just get married?"
"Yes, and speaking of which, both our husbands are looking frazzled, so we'd best sedate their jealousy."
Mai took Yugi's hand and joined the company. Mai ran into her husband's arms and he spun her around in delight, already forgiven. Tristan padded his buddy on the back, congratulating him, while Yami laughed and wished his Consort's beloved brother and his new wife, another close companion of his own beloved, a life of nothing but happiness. Serenity giggled with Yugi and Yami's sons, who took advantage of the cake and free food.
"A lovely ceremony don't you agree, love?" Yami said wrapping his arms tightly around Yugi's waist. "I don't think even Tristan's wedding was this flashy."
"Nah, flashy is Mai's thing. Serenity and I prefer simple." Yugi relaxed into Yami's touch and allowed the warmth of his strong arms and smooth chest to envelop him in a familiar embrace. "But I loved our wedding the best. I'll treasure it forever."
"I will too," Yami said rubbing his cheek in Yugi's soft tresses and kissed his cheek softly and affectionately. Even after seven years, the Frost King was just as loving and affectionate as ever, and Yugi relished in the attention and returned it with just as much fervor.
They had married in one of the most ancient and intimate of wedding ceremonies: a hand-fastening before the giant moon tree under a shower of raining silver-flowers. Their palms cut. Blood mingled. Wrists tied with a red ribbon and their vows spoken. And, in a tradition taken from Yugi' world, they solidified the legitimacy of their union with a kiss before their closes friends and family and among the cheering of all of their Wintery Fairyland. The ceremony itself had been quick, but for them time stood still. They had no symbols of their undying love, except for the necklace and bracelets Yugi deemed too special to ever remove, but the scars on their palms was more intimate and binding than any silly metal band.
Yugi had been adamant about not wearing a dress and neither Mana's tantrums, Syrus' pleading cries, or any amount of senseless begging from women who wanted to sew something for the wedding: could change his mind. Eventually, Yugi had compromised to wear white and had gotten married in a strapless, embroidered brocade bodice with a pair of silk white pants and a silver sash. It wasn't until the ceremony he realized Mahado had woven some moonflowers into his hair and veil but Yami had loved it so much, Yugi didn't have the heart to take them out. Yami had donned his favored black silk, as well as several heavy robes and a large cloak, all in black, silver and gold with his ice crown with drops once more hanging from each spikes bang.
The ceremony had ended with Shadi crowing Yugi with a diadem of glossy ice that created a single icy drop to from at the tip of each of his bangs identical to Yami's and still suspended in midair. The town had celebrated for nearly a week, and aside from the special teas and herbs Téa, whom Yugi had become quite good friends with, had given them as a wedding present with a playful wink, Yugi barely remembered any of it except for the nights he'd spent with Yami celebrating in the way only lovers did.
Remembering it now, it hardly seemed the crazy, spur of the moment shotgun wedding everyone assumed they had, even if their bonding had only happened through sex, the passion and intimacy behind it was much too deep to ever define it in simple human terms, so Yugi didn't bother trying.
Minutes later he found himself dancing with Yami, and let him lead so not to embarrass himself, and only when the dance party music started up did he choose to sit it out and let Yami and the fairies do what they do best and party. So when the bride and her new sister-in-law decided to join them, Yugi, Joey and Tristan found themselves sitting around their reserved table, watching their lovers dance themselves wild, until their hair was lose, their throats were sore from laughing and their clothes disheveled: all while they made small talk.
"You know, something Yug, without the wings, the crazy ears and the looks toned down, that husband of yours almost looks normal," Joey said first sipping his second glass of champagne, the first one consumed when Tristan had made the toast.
"Almost? What about my kids?" Yugi laughed, noting, even glamoured it was hard to call someone as wild and unusual as Yami normal. Even though his sons' teenaged bodies and prior human forms made their glamour more convincing, it had done little to hide that undertone that they were almost too pretty, too sharp, too perfect to be human.
"Them, too, but no offense, Yugi, there's no way anyone's gonna believe they're as old as they look," Joey indicated with his thumb.
Yugi watched them all dance, grabbing plastic champagne glass after plastic champagne glass of spiked punch from the bowl, downed any leftover glasses of champagne, and Chazz ordering his third tequila sunrise from the outdoor bar. Yugi shook his head and pulled the cap off his water bottle. "I told them to go easy on the liquor. Just because fairies don't get drunk as fast as humans doesn't mean they should take advantage of the fact they're physically old enough to drink." He said taking an angry gulp.
Tristan just laughed. "So they haven't matured in seven years?"
"Please," Yugi groaned. "Seven years is like the blink of an eye for fairies, but speaking of that," he set down his water bottle. "We managed to convince the Magisters to let us come if we promised to discuss the agreement with you guys, so am I safe in assuming you're gonna keep the deal for another seven years?" His tone was too hopeful, almost expectant, so it was a shock when both boys hesitated to answer. Worried fingers clenched the bottle, until he realized just how long seven years had really been, and how much time had affected his friends…and how it hadn't even passed by Yugi's way.
"I mean, if you still want to—"
"Of course, we want to!" The both said together.
"We're family, Yugi, and that's not gonna change, not any time soon ya got that?" Tristan said defiantly.
"Yeah, plus you make the trip to come see us all the time, course we're gonna come see you! Ya came to my wedding, man," Joey said adamantly then paused for a breath. He turned his gaze heavenward but there was no pleading nor request for guidance in those eyes. They'd only grown sharper and more defined with age. "Thing is, so much has changed, Yugi, and we don't know what you're gonna do or what we're gonna do, I mean look at us, could you imagine all those years back, this is what our lives would be like?" He wasn't wrong. Joey himself had a whole new life ahead of him now. Not because he'd joined the Force, or married a popular actress whose name was in lights on Theater Street. No, it was more than that. It was marriage.
"That's true," Yugi shrugged. "I've been deep rural for a while now, if that's what you can call it. But it's such a simple life, and we can go anywhere, do anything, and my favorite thing to do is still skate with Yami whenever the weather is nice."
"I hear ya man," Tristan smiled, and looked back at his wife, counting his lucky stars, Joey had been okay with him dating his younger sister when her weak immune system had finally healed enough for her to leave the hospital. Looking at her now, hair shiny and red, cheeks flushed and pink, smile bright and wide, and hazel green eyes shiny with childish wonder and all the innocent curiosity of the world it was hard to believe she was already a married women studying medicine and was ever sick herself.
"You know, me and Serenity have been thinking of having kids soon." There was a smile on his face of excitement and readiness but the undeniable prelude nervousness and self-doubt.
"I'm gonna be an uncle!" Joey's eyes lit up like a child at Christmas. Even Yugi couldn't help but smile. "That's great, Tristan!"
"Easy guys, nothing's happening yet. It's something we're thinking about. Least not until Serenity finishes med school. You know how demanding those PhDs can be, but she doesn't wanna be a nurse forever. And I said we should do some exploring of our own first before we start settling down. I know she's always wanted to see Europe, and I wanna show her as much of the world as I can."
"I hear ya man," Joey said bracing his jaw in his chin. "Me and Mai were thinking of heading west. You know back to the States? I'd have to start in a new precinct but it'd be worth it to see her star in a show on Broadway!"
"Don't underestimate her, Joey," Yugi warned. "Mai's not rash. She wouldn't make a decision without knowing how it affects you first."
"I know, that's why we compromise," Joey added. "Ya just gotta be careful that neither of ya does it too much."
Yugi rolled his eyes and laughed. "Oh yes, you are definitely ready to be married."
"So what about you, Yug?" Tristan asked pouring himself a bit of red wine. He offered Yugi the bottle but the fairy shook his head. "You still going with escape plan F?"
"If you mean am I still gonna live in Fairyland with grandpa, my husband and sons, and be consort of a magical land away from paparazzi and sports fanatics who think I cheated though the hospital proved my metal allergy, then yes. I'm sticking with Plans A-Z."
"Man, you gotta tell us, what that's like? Being Fairy Queen and all?" Joey asked, laughing.
"Is it awesome?" Tristan asked curiously.
"It's pretty awesome," Yugi agreed. "But it's not just ruling or prompt and ceremony or even the days we spend in town though I'll admit they're good days. There are times, I'll feel bored and Yami will take off work to take me someplace new in Fairy Land. Or times we'll come here and visit Earthside as they call it. And more than once I thought about opening an antique store or something to keep myself busy, but I like helping Yami rule, and giving him a break once in a while. And like I said my favorite thing to do is still sneak away to those ice caves he showed me or those hidden lakes and just skate, just the two of us, or even just us and the kids." His face started to turn red with the happy mementoes of their marriage. "And I'm telling you right now, Joey, you in for a hell of a ride."
"Don't I know it," Joey chuckled, half-heartedly. "As much as I love that woman, ya lucky your husband practically worships you, me I'm on the receiving end of that relationship."
"Well, it's not always fun being on the opposite end, either." Yugi corrected, chidingly. "But it's worth it."
"Yeah, it's worth it."
"Here's to stable and happily married lives! Where ever they go, and no matter how crazy our wives, and in Yugi's case Kings, make us!" Tristan cheered, holding up a wine glass.
"Here, here!" Joey and Yugi mimicked his actions and clicked their glasses and Yugi's plastic bottle together.
"And here too!" Joey added before they could pull their glasses away. "To Family, 'cause no matter how far apart we are or where our lives go, whether we're changing countries or changing dimensions, or starting new lives," he said gesturing his glass to himself first, then Yugi, then Tristan. "We are still family and that will never never never ever ever going ta change!"
"Here!" They clicked their glasses again and took a large gulp of their respected drinks.
But out the corner of his eye, Yugi saw her. Someone achingly familiar was taking hands with Mai and laughing as she introduced Serenity, then Yami and pointed out each of his children and her family members. Time had made her almost unrecognizable, and it surprised him that he could still see her now. "Hey Joey, is that?"
He didn't finish his sentence, but Joey knew who he was talking about the moment he leaned over and looked up from his drink. "Yeah, she's a friend of Mai from a show they did together. I didn't think she was coming, so I didn't think…"
Yugi pushed his palms against the rim of the table, the chair slid back with the force, giving him just enough space to stand without further noise. Neither Joey nor Tristan stopped him from going over. He supposed Yami would question his actions later, but he would explain it all when that time came. Right now he found himself, walking around the dance floor, away from the dancers who might deter him from his path. Around the front where minutes earlier the minister had held an outdoor wedding ceremony, and in front of the trees which appropriately chose not to shed their leaves at this moment.
He waited until she was finished talking to Mai before he said anything. Turns out she saw him first. The shock in her eyes was not from surprise or from seeing a new face, but rather like a secret that she'd always known would come to light had finally had, and there was an almost liberation from the fact that it did.
"Hey Yugi," she paused before answering. Her eyes scrutinized his entire body, and her eyes bulged with stunned mystification with each inch she took in. "Oh my God, you haven't changed in ten years!"
A shrug was his only answer. "I see you have," he nodded with a smile. It was true time had certainly left his mark on the girl but time had been nothing if not kind. The childish pixie-cut mop of short brown hair he remembered in high school was highlighted and so long it reached her hips, making her much more sophisticated. She'd grown taller and years of dancing were evident in her willowy figure: strong slender legs, well-developed bust and cleavage strategically hidden by the curves of her lovely bridesmaid dress. Her shoulders were broad with confidence and her rich chocolate brown eyes were still large and lovely, but there was sharpness in them. They'd lost their once blind, naïve, faith in friendship and dreams coming true simply by wanting them. Gone was the innocent girl he'd loved in high school and in her place was a strong confident woman who'd been hardened by life just as he had.
"Yes," Anzu nodded. "Mai said, you might be here, but I wasn't sure. I'm glad to see your doing well," she said with a smile, but there was a shadow in her voice. "I saw you on the news. You went to the Olympics! Congratulations on that."
"Thanks," Yugi nodded. "Mai told me you were her co-star in a few dance numbers she did. How's that going?"
"Great," Tea boasted excitingly. "Julliard opened a lot of doors for me, especially when everyone in New York is fresh out of Manhattan. It's a lot of tough competition but it's worth it. Pretty Lady was my big break."
"That's good," Yugi smiled, half-pretending to be interested. It had been so long since he'd seen her: small talk didn't have the appeal he thought it would. Instead, it was like going to your High school reunion, where the nerds and geeks could brag about their success to their former bullies and the Mean Girl Clique could show off their rich husbands in a pathetic attempt to make the girls they tormented jealous, though it was clear they were nothing but trophy wives and would be scrapped for a younger woman and left alone and divorced and envious of their former "subjects" who did marry for love and had happy lives. Like going back in time to a time that was once the best and worst of your life and determined to either recapture the glory of being Prom Queen or Winning the Championship football game.
He never imagined Anzu would be one of those people, and didn't think she was, but the feeling brought the thought to light.
"How about you?" she asked, "still holding the title as world champ?" She asked with a playful wink, and Yugi blinked.
"Anzu…" he said slowly, stunned. "I retired from skating seven years ago after I won the Gold. Don't you remember?"
"What!?" Anzu gasped shocked and embarrassed. "When did this happen?"
"I told you, after I won the Gold. It was all over the news. The media turned it into a circus."
"I know there was some questioning after you collapsed and all but I knew the media was lying, you'd never use drugs or performance enhancers to win, you just loved to skate, but then why did you retire?" Yugi heard the shrill in her voice, stunned and horrified like he's thrown away his dreams and she was torn between support and betrayal. He didn't blame her. Hadn't they gone their separate ways on the promise that they accomplish their dreams? But it was clear she only had half the story. It made him wonder how much of the truth she actually knew.
"Anzu, I got married," Yugi said calmly, so not to further upset her.
She froze at that. "You did? When was this?"
"It's why I retired," Yugi said with a sigh. "Before the competition, I met someone, and long story short and I know it sounds cliché but we fell in love, and it wasn't a fling or one-night stand or something like that, it was real, true love. It's hard to explain given how fast it happened but it was real, it's still real. So after the Olympics I announced, we'd gotten married and I'd be retiring. I also developed an allergy to metal. The doctor said the city life would be horrible for my health so once Grandpa sold the shop and the media circus died down, we moved to Hokkaido. Deep rural. Yami owns a whole estate there, and I just love it! I help him run it you know, and the people there are so wonderful, and the kids are great."
"Estate? Kids? Who exactly did you marry Yugi?" Anzu demanded. "I heard a story that you shacked up with some fifty-year-old man but I didn't believe it."
At that Yugi's glare turned sharp and angry. "I did not 'shack up'. I told you, Yami and I fell in love, and yes, he's thirty years older than me, but I don't care. Why should I? He sure as hell doesn't act like it, let me tell you." Yugi complained running his hands through his hair. "Between him and the boys they all act like big kids and they're all adults."
Anzu was silent, so Yugi gestured his thumb towards his new family. "That's him talking to Mai. The four boys Serenity is dancing with, those are my sons. And don't panic they're adopted. I'm Yami's first husband."
Anzu saw them and was stunned. Like Yugi they were all so young, it was as if time had stood still. "I see," she chocked. "I'm so sorry, I had heard so much, I wasn't sure what was true and the media made up so much nonsense, I…" she stopped herself and laughed suddenly. "Oh listen to me, ranting about something that happened seven years ago. I'm happy you found someone Yugi, you deserved it." She congratulated with an honest smile. Yugi saw no lies in her eyes and mentally praised that new gift of his fairy senses. "Thanks Anzu," he retuned the gesture.
"I guess it just surprised me, you really haven't changed much, Yugi. And I don't mean physically either. You just…love life, I guess is the only way I can say it. I just never thought anyone would be able to tear you away from it."
"Oh it's not like…" Yugi tried to correct her, but she finished saying "I almost wish I made the same choice. I mean I love dancing and acting but it's not all roses and champagne on opening night. It's a hard lifestyle, you know?"
"Yeah," Yugi nodded, though he honestly didn't. "I'm glad we're both happy."
"Me too," Anzu smiled taking another glass of champagne and offered Yugi some.
"Oh no thanks I don't drink."
"Suit yourself," Anzu giggled and took a small sip. "Oh, almost time to throw the bouquet. Maybe I'll get lucky this time." She smiled, set down the glass and went to join the other bridesmaids but not before turning to Yugi, smiling. "I'm glad we got to catch up, Yugi. I really am."
"Me too, Anzu," he said with a small wave and watched his ex-girlfriend and first love disappear into the crowd of bridesmaids in glittering green and purple dresses.
Yugi took the opportunity to slip away into the crowd, out of the garden where the party was held and into the welcoming shadow of a nearby tree, secretly away from the crowd of happy party-goers and people congratulating the bride. He could hear the bridesmaids squealing in delight as Mai turned around and chucked the flower grenade into the crowd of desperate women, and was glad he couldn't see them crawl for it like a pack of wolves, only for some groomsmen to grope their leg. Peeking out, he hadn't failed to notice how much older his friends were. How more mature their faces had become, how more sophisticated their voices and personalities had grown. Their dreams were no longer the irrational, impassioned dreams they'd had as wide-eyed and over confident children, but realistic hopes and compromises. They were staring families, moving on, living their lives and changing constantly.
But not Yugi, he had his family, he had accomplished his dreams. But his life was constant. He and Yami wouldn't age for many decades. His friends would probably already have grandchildren by the time he and Yami aged again and the boys entered their adult stages. It would be decades before Chazz inherited Yami's throne and they retired. Grandpa made it clear he didn't want to become a fairy. He was too old. It would only be at most twenty years before Yugi lost him. How long would it be before his eternal youth became too much for his aging friends. How long until it became too painful to see them as old men and women while he himself still looked like a young adult or at worst middle aged? How long would it be until his stagnant life became too much to bear.
"Do you really think that's what will happen, love?" Yugi jumped and spun around. He found Yami standing at the base side of his hiding place with concerned eyes and his mouth morphed into a small smile.
"I worry it will," Yugi said softly. Worried fingers slide up the sides of his arms and curled into the flesh of his shoulders in a meek attempt for comfort. But they were nothing compared to the warmth of Yami's wings.
Always knowing how to sooth his lovers fears, Yami step forward and held open his arms, ready to shelter him, but never making the first step out of respect for Yugi's independence. Yugi smiled and allowed himself to be wrapped up in the King's arms, and smiled when Yami opened his trench coat and wrapped the left side around his little one, for added warmth. It wasn't the same comfort his four large wings promised but for now it was a sweet substitute. "Now, care to explain what's gotten you so depressed? Was it that girl? The one who left for America?"
"Anzu? No, we're just exs now, that talk proved that. It's just, something she said got me thinking…" Yugi admitted, sinking deeper into Yami's warmth.
"About what?" Yami asked, gently coaxing his lover to continue.
"Everyone is changing, their starting new lives, moving to new places, making new paths for themselves, but we're: you, me, the boys, we're all still the same. I love my life so much, and I wouldn't trade it for anything but I'm afraid what will happen if it becomes stagnant? I mean I already knew I was gonna out live my grandpa but now that I'm a fairy, it seems like that's happening much faster than it should. And what will I do when my friends start to age and I don't. You and me were already pushing it at Tristan's wedding and now here we are four years later and no one believes your sixty. What will I say when I'm sixty and I only look twenty? What if our lives become…well…boring? What if we get sick of each other?"
"Do you honestly believe that, Yugi?" He was surprised when Yami spun him around, held his shoulders tight and faced him with grave eyes. "Do you?"
Yugi hesitated but he already knew the answer. "No, I don't. Maybe it's because I still think like a human, but I think about it sometimes. Time…it's just so different for us than it is for humans. How do you handle it?"
Yami's smile softened and he pressed his forehead to Yugi's. "It is true, Fairies have no sense of time, but it is not a blessing as it seems. We live for so long that without our human companions we would die of boredom. This is why we dispute the claims that we live forever, because we do not and nor do we want to. Yes, fairies dislike anything that reminds them that even our lives temporary, but it is a reminder that we need…for many reasons. Could you imagine a marriage lasting a thousand years, and times it by a few thousands more? Life was meant to be temporary, you see, it is the only way we can enjoy it."
Yugi looked confused, but always quick to read his mind, Yami continued. "If life was eternal, my love, then you would never enjoy it. But because it is not, you must live and enjoy each day while you can, or you will never be able to get them back and when the time comes do you want to enter the next life with a heart well lived and a mind full of a memories or one empty of any risk and accomplishment and relationships?"
"Okay, I see your point," Yugi smiled with a little sigh.
"I don't think you do, Yugi," Yami said with a low chide. "There is a reason why fairies live in bliss and why we are dependent on humans for entertainment. You see many faeries envy your former race, for while we are bound to our world and our courts and its laws and rules, humans have none but the laws they make for themselves. Though they break those laws and take advantage of them and each other, they, for the most part have pure freedom, and though with it comes all the sins and anarchy that follows it, only they can truly live their lives to the fullest. Faeries are bound and mimic an eternal bliss because they wish to avoid the pain and suffering humans deal with constantly. They forget and ignore such things in preference of happiness and pleasure. Pain and sadness, they…remind us of a time when we were happy and thus make it more painful when our current situation is not as those past moments, but then if we never know sadness, never know pain, how can we appreciate what we have, how can we enjoy the life we live if there is nothing to remind us that we are alive? Regardless what time degrees, or what changes, we are here, and we are alive, and for that reason alone, we must live. Don't you agree?"
Yugi could only smile, even as the tears pricked their eyes and once more he was reminded why their marriages worked so well, why it would work even in the never ending decades to come. It wasn't because of any magic or petty ambition. No, it was because they listened to the other's tears and spoke only when they needed someone to listen. And he knew that that very day when he kissed Yami under the tree and felt their Bond awake and alive and young and born and ready to face the curious world and all its darkness with a passion and fire that he knew no darkness could consume its light.
And by the time spring had come, the entire Kingdom had welcomed their new consort and shined even more each day with the King's shinning smile. It surprised Yugi that a Winter fairy world had spring and summer, but he welcomed the changed and enjoyed the cool, mild summers, and the snowy winters. Even more since Yami seemed to enjoy the spring and all the new creations it bought and much of the first year of their marriage had been exploring their strange new home.
But it hadn't all been newlywed bliss, and night skates and roses and chess games. They had their martial spats and newlywed fights. Those first few years had been the hardest, and Yugi remembered them well. He remembered most of their fights had been his own struggle between his weakening humanity and his new fairy immortality. More than once he found himself contemplating his own immortality and the trapped feelings he felt being a faerie, let alone a consort. This wasn't the first time he'd looked at his grandpa and cried himself to sleep at the thought of outliving him and his friends and knowing they would grow old and die while he was still young and more than once he wondered if this was how you felt when a beloved dog or cat who was family passed away and wondered how people could ever own pets if they would die when their friend who they'd grown up with had only just reached adulthood. But Yami had been patient with him, and always held him during those dark thoughts. But even he was not perfect and more than once he found himself jealous of Yugi's longing for his old world and questioned if his choice really was his own, and if secretly Yugi wished he'd never met Yami and could return to his old life. But Yugi was always quick to squash those fears and assured him, regardless of the pain it was worth it, and he would never trade the time he had with Yami for anything. More than once Solomon who's been married for sixty years before his own wife died, offered his advice and confidence.
But they'd had petty fights too. Simple misunderstandings that quickly turned into bitter arguments. Sometimes leading to them sleeping in different rooms and terrifying their children who had come to associate any silence coming from their parents' room as a bad sign. They often argued about events in the city and what to do and who should do what, but they never let power become an issue, even when Yugi's desire for more responsibility clashed with Yami's independent desire to do it all himself and spoil his family. But they always talked, they always apologized, they always made up and though they sometimes repeated their same mistakes they let their arguments make them stronger. They accepted their faults and did not hold the other's against them.
And more than once Yami would force Mahado and Mana to act in his stead despite their chagrin and would surprise Yugi with a trip, just the two of them to another unexplored magical area of Fairy. More than once they'd take the boys on vacations Earth side. They'd visit Yugi's old home, but they'd visit other places too. There were many entrances to the winter world in Europe, the Americas and the North. And each time Yugi found the gesture so touching he'd lavish Yami with affection for weeks as a thank you, and surprise him with a new skill he learned in Fairy that day, and soon their room was flooded with things Yugi had made for his King and Yami treasured each one, even if he didn't know what half of them were.
They accepted that fairy or human, their marriage would never be a perfect rose bloom, but they accepted the thorns. They were happy and they loved each other and though they knew love couldn't solve everything, and that sacrifices and compromises had to be made, they made it work, and they made their kingdom stronger because of it.
"And if you need any further evidence how our lives are changing and the importance of it," Yami continued, holding Yugi secure in one arm, and using the other to gently unwind Yugi's fingers from their perpetual death grip on his coat. Yugi tightened his reluctant fingers, but Yami's soft, faerie fingers gently unwove them one at a time, and slid open the slit in the coat, sliding down the contours of Yugi's tight, silvery tunic, exposing the real secret Yugi had been trying to hide all night. "I suggest you remember our little one growing inside you…" He whispered, rotating his thumb over the protruding bump of Yugi's belly.
A careful hand delicately touched the swollen abdomen, delicate in case he awoke his sleeping unborn child. "Do you think he'll like me?" Yugi asked in a cracked tone.
"Of course, he will," Yami said immediately, his voice childish with wonder and excitement. "He'll love you. Though I'm unsure how you know it's a boy?"
Yugi shrugged. "Call it a gut feeling." Yugi said blandly. "Then again, I still don't think it's hit me that I'm pregnant. I'm a guy. A fairy, a real fairy, and I'm fucking pregnant. I mean, I've hit an all new level of weird!"
"Yugi, we've been through this, I explained how male frost faeries become pregnant. In fact it's not uncommon for many faerie species to reproduce through both genders. Either way I'm excited!" He was like a child at Christmas, hugging Yugi tightly in one arm and the other pressing the palm of his hand against this lovers swelling stomach were the little bump of life was just beginning to grow. Fortunately, it seemed, Frost faerie babies grew faster than human infants too, so Yugi wouldn't have to be pregnant longer than needed while the little bundle of multiplying cells was growing wings, feathers and extra finger joints.
Yugi wasn't worried about that though. As surreal as it was he already loved the little bundle, moving in him at the most unexpected of moments and testing him to see how long he could keep it hidden while Earthside. Not even a month and already a troublemaker like his daddy. And no doubt Yami would make a wonderful father, he was already.
"And you are too, and you will." Yami interrupted his musing. "You're already such a great mama," he leaned against the tree, taking Yugi with him, barely even flinching when Yugi elbowed his side for the "mama" comment, and just laughed at Yugi's annoyed glare.
"I am not gonna be called Mama, I don't care if I am the one getting cut open so he can be born. And I know I'm a good dad, but this is an infant! And neither of us knows how to take care of a baby, let alone a faerie baby."
"Well, we'll learn. And it can't be any hard then raising four teenagers for nearly a decade," Yami promises rubbing Yugi's hair with his cheek. "So just relaxed."
Yugi blinked back the burn of tears, and tried to believe him but the probably four-winged little alien in his belly was pumping him so full of hormones and doubts and unresolved feelings and already he loved it tenderly, voraciously, undeniably, and already he longed, burned to hold it, cuddle it, kiss it and sing to it, and apologize for calling it an alien, even though he technically already knew it wasn't human. God, the little munchkin already had his papa wrapped around his little fingers and it was only a blob in his belly, let alone some baby in his arms. Yami was already his, and had Yugi not already been in love with it to, he'd be jealously of the still growing boy.
"This kid is gonna be spoiled rotten isn't he?" Yugi chuckled.
"Probably," Yami pretended to ponder than nodded. "So long as his brothers don't go through the same 'loved best' phase me and my siblings did. I'll tear them all to pieces if they think of pulling the same pranks we did on our poor nursemaid."
"Oh trust me that won't happen," Yugi said sternly. "Sibling rivalry is one thing, but after all the hormones and crap I've already gone through, and still have to go through those four little devils are gonna love this little monster if I have to force them too."
Yami just laughed at his little one's enthusiasm. "Your spunk never ceases to amaze me, little one." Yami said kissing his cheek. "And our little one will be just as perfect. Have you decided what to name him yet?"
Yugi sighed and nodded his head, but rather than saying it out loud, he closed his eyes and let it wonder through Yami's thoughts. A secret kept just between them, a little bit of possession over their little one, making him his, since when he was born he would no doubt be everyone's.
"I liked it," Yami moaned, testing the name on his lips. "A good name. I can see why you like it."
"Yeah, I also looked it up. Know what it names?"
"The star that saves us," the worlds rolled off Yugi' tongue like the words to a poem, a magical phrase and the perfect name for his little one who would bring break their hearts, push them to the limits of their emotions, and bring them closer together and tear them to the brink but who's love would save them in the end, just as his brothers before him had done.
"The star that saves us," Yami repeated loving how the very name seemed to echo in those words. "Very well said, my love." He kissed Yugi's hair and nuzzled him in a way that reminded Yugi of a cat, and purred when Yami stroked his hair.
"Now then, do you plan to stay here all night or shall we tell our in-laws about the newest member of our family? You know how bad the boys are at keeping secrets when they'd had too much wine."
"Hmm," Yugi pretended to ponder. "I suppose so. You don't think it'll be taking the attention off Joey and Mai? It is their wedding after all?"
"I'm sure they'll be ecstatic, as we are." Yami promised unwinding himself from Yugi and lacing his fingers in Yugi's hands, and Yugi felt both his and Yami's excitement fluttering like sparks between them.
"Alright, but when Joey and Tristan start giving me smack about being pregnant, I'm blaming you. You realize that right?" Yugi threatened, but Yami just wore that sweet smile, so full of love and excitement and admiration and said. "I love you too, Yugi."
"How much further is it?" Tristan said pulling his fur-eared hat tighter against his head. Ever since he cut his hair, it had been harder and harder to keep his ears warm. He stopped wearing it in a spike a few years back and now just left it in a buzz cut.
"Not sure," Joey said, holding a flat hand over his eyes. The sunlight reflecting off the glittering snow doubled the brightness of the landscape, and making it that much harder to see. "The damn opening changes every year."
"Well we've been doing this for 14 years. Ya think we've been used to it by now." Tristan shrugged. "I'm surprised the girls didn't come this time. You know how much they love Yugi."
"Yeah, but with her last show, Mai wanted some alone time with the girls, and you know Serenity can't resist a girls night." Joey grinned and gave his buddy a playful wink. Serenity may have been Tristan's wife, but she was still Joey's little sister and he'd long accepted no one would know her better. After all they had their own secrets; why not let the two siblings have their own as well.
"Yeah, though I'm a little worried, you know I love Mai, but if she starts dressing up my boy in Shakespeare costumes, you and me," he shook his pointer finger back and forth between them quickly. "Issues."
"Oh come on man, ya know Mai won't do that, besides I say let the kid experiment so he can figure it out young."
"He's five, Joey. Tyler can experiment when he's a teenager like Yugi did."
"Oh come on, Yugi was out of college before he figured it out, and even then I'm still not convinced he went bi until he met Yami. I mean come on, the guy practically radiated sex appeal when we first met him."
"Knowing them, he probably still does. Ya think Yugi will look any different than he did last time we saw him."
"Does it matter?"
"Has it over the last fourteen years?"
"Then there ya go. Now hurry up, I think I see Luna, either that or I seriously need to start thinking about glasses."
The spotted snow leopard emerged from the shadows silently and elegantly as the falling snow. The first warning before the mage's spell took affect but neither man had any fear. Luna bowed her head respectfully, and the two men mimicked her stance than quickly followed her across the snow bank and into a ticket of conifer branches, each one becoming more and more thickly caked with snow. Joey and Tristan shoved caked branches out of their way kicking up clouds of white powered and sending avalanches tumbling to the ground as their heavy boots crunched the carpet of snow and pine needles. Luna walked elegantly through the undergrowth, her coat shinning and camouflaged among the thicket. Finally, with their coats and boats soaked and loose snow and pine needles clinging fiercely to their bodies, they exited the forest and entered a vast field of crystalline snow glittering in the impossibly bright sun, untouched except for their footprints, not even Luna, a fairy leopard, disturbed the soft surface. Joey and Tristan struggled to follow her as they sank into the soft snow.
To their surprise, Luna lead them to a ruined bastion bristling with broken spires and upturned stones jutted from the snow like rows of jagged teeth, with frozen waterfalls of ice exploding from cracks and between multiple glass windows, caked with dirt and dust like multiple vacant eyes dotting the stone walls. Chains of frozen wisteria vines from spring intertwined with corpses of dried out leaves.
There was a pun about the fear of entering a dark, old castle in fear of ghosts and spirits, and fairies, but the two men just chose to laugh and followed Luna through the gash in the half-rotten wooden doors. Stepping through the antiquarian entrance, they entered a fairy tale.
Every inch of the castle looked vacant and abandoned it positively thrived on the inside like a grand Grimm fairy tale castle, and both had to laugh at the appropriateness of that term: the inside of the castle was a huge singular ballroom of polished stone and flying buttresses, but the roof was open filling the room with light, pillars of red and gold spiraled around frost marble holding up the second floor which consisted of a banister the circumnavigated the border of the room, and all around stood stain glass windows flooding the room with explosions of color and light. Three enormous chandeliers floated in midair lit with thousands of silver-flamed candles. Bizarrest of all, was the royal family. Yugi and Yami sat, Yugi in a rocky chair of cracked paint, Yami on a wicker armchair, decked in their winter coats at a large dining table, sampling the vast assortment's of the tea girl, Téa's, latest combinations under a gazebo with a tent like roof covered by a giant tarp sewn from the fur of every animal you could imagine. The set up was located on a huge daises raised above the rest of the room where a series of large thrones might have gone. Yugi swatted Yami's hand every time he leaned towards a growing leather briefcase lying open and full off paperwork, earning a pout from the exhausted looking King. Their attention was torn between each other and the lower floors, where there should have been a dance floor.
Only there was no dance floor: a huge oval ice rink was embedded two feet below the main ground where their nephews struggled to teach an adorable toddler with four magnificent wings that flickered with the deepest of blue and purples, to skate.
"There you are!" Yugi cheered, calling them over. "We were almost getting sick of waiting."
"We come every year don't we?" Tristan laughed as the two hopped over.
"Hey, you kids?" Joey hollered, cupping the rim of his mouth with his hands to amplify the volume.
The four turned their heads, their hands all trying to keep their smallest sibling upright, but he purposely plopped his bottom back onto the ice when their attention was diverted. "Come give your uncles a hug!"
Their faces brightened with excitement and delight and they all clambered out of their icy indent with ease like they were running on solid ground. Syrus stayed behind, first bending down to pick up the toddler, who likewise held up his arms and widened his eyes as big and cutely as he could, demanding to be picked up. With the little one safely tucked in his arms, Syrus flew out to catch up with his siblings, and waited until the oldest three had all tackled their uncles to the ground in strong hugs before joining in himself. The toddler, amused by this little scuffle, opened his mouth with an entertained laughter, with an innocent delight and loudness only a child could have and clapped his tiny hands together and fluttered his wings, cheering "Hi!"
"Hey Yusei," Tristan greeted once he was able to pry the boys off him. "You being good for your big brothers?"
"Hmm-hmm" Yusei shook his head with his big eyes closed and his smile wide from ear to ear, relishing in once again being the center of attention. "Yes, yes"
"Yes he is," Syrus said, shifting Yusei in his arms when he started to crawl and climb, not realizing he was still levitated in Sy's arms and too young to fly.
"He's definitely your kid, Yugi," Joey teased the fairy queen.
"Why's that?" Yugi humored with a confident smile. His fingers curled around an elegant Victorian style tea-cup.
"'Cause he's seven years old, and he's still only this big," Joey grinned then laughed when Yugi bristled with annoyance, his wings clicking together angrily in sync with his mood. Yami seemed to have missed the joke and replied. "It's not uncommon, he won't enter the child stage until he's at least ten…I was sixteen when I did but I was a late bloomer."
Yugi rolled his eyes. "I don't mind, I enjoy having my little one still being a toddler."
Seeing his mama smile, Yusei struggled in Syrus' arms until the boy finally relented and set him down. He took off like a bolt and plowed past the company before finally crawling into his Mama's lap and snuggled into his chest. Never one to deny him, Yugi hugged him tight and ticked his belly and kissed his cheek delighting as the baby squirmed and laughed in his lap.
Yami only smiled at the heartwarming scene, before gesturing for everyone to join them for tea. Joey and Tristan sat down in one of the miss-matched chairs, and started on the collection of desert and the sampled the tea girl's latest creations. Syrus plopped down on a loveseat and started devouring a plate of cookies with great passion.
"You boys hungry?" Yugi asked, giving Yusei a cookie when the little one had calmed down from their play. "Or would you prefer your game."
"Game!" The three oldest said at once. "We still have to figure out who gets to babysit!"
"You're not playing?" Yami asked.
Syrus tried to speak but only crumbs came out. He swallowed violently, downed half a cup of chilled tea and shook his head. "Mana's making me work. She says everyone's requesting a new costume for the Beltane, and you know Mana."
Yami nodded in understanding. His sister was too proud to refuse a challenge. Too proud to let her creativity be thwarted by time or let anyone else compete with her work . "That damned ego of hers is going to be the death of her, I swear it."
"Come on! Last one to the rink is automatically out!" Jaden announced and cheated by getting a head start, earning complaints from both his brothers. The toddler they were fighting over paused his snack and crawled out of Yugi's lap, screeching "Wait, for me! I wanna come too!" he clumsily raced after them, while his parents just laughed at their little miracle.
"Man, I can't get over it," Joey shook his head.
"What?" Yugi asked.
"That this guy knocked you up," he tilted his head to Yami, who seemed confused by the slang and looked to Yugi for an explanation.
"He's still surprised I can get pregnant even though I'm a boy," Yugi explained pouring another cup of tea. "Fortunately, it seems I can only get pregnant at certain times."
"Really?" The humans asked.
"Why is it surprising?" Yami asked. "Fairies live for so long and we can always turn humans so there's never any worry about the species, and they love freely so is having a child not the greatest proof and symbol of love?"
"Yeah, I guess so," Joey smiled, "Speaking of which," Joey pulled out his cell phone and start scrolling through the pictures. "You gotta see the girls."
"Did Maggie get the gift we sent her?" Yami asked excitedly.
"Ah," Joey held up a finger, then flipped his phone over, revealing an adorable, rose round-cheeked little girl with cascading blond hair tied with multiple purple ribbons, looking adorable in a long purple dress, that's color mimicked her eyes, with princess sleeves and light blue lacy ruffled and feathers about the collar, sleeves and multiple layers under the skirt.
"Oh man, she loves that thing!" Joey laughed. "She calls it her 'magic princess' dress, 'cause every time it rips or tears it fixes itself. One time she fell out of a tree, and while we were freaking out that she broke something she just bound over, looking like a complete mess, and was scared she ruined it, but then she showed us the rip in the dress and kept saying 'look, look!' until we finally did and saw it fixing itself. Then she climbed right back up that tree." Joey laughed so hard he dropped his head into his folded arms. "I don't get it, that girl is a born tomboy yet she refuses to wear anything but those fancy dresses. Kimi once tried to get her to wear jeans and she downright refused! Those girls, they're as stubborn as me and as tough as Mai, Kami help me when they become teenagers!"
"Oh please, I've raised four teenagers for the better part of twenty years! You'll only have to deal with it for seven years if that!" Yugi protested.
"Hey, let's not talk about that," Tristan shook his head. "I don't even wanna think about Tyler becoming a teenager, I'm with you, Yug, I want him to stay small and innocent. I dread the day Serenity and I gotta start telling him about how scary the world is."
"Well fairyland has its bad parts too. The stories about malevolent fairies are all true by the way, some are nasty, and I've actually met a few of them, so you're not alone there. I dread the day when Yusei stops listening."
"Oh please," Yami retorted. "Like you could ever say no to him, Yugi."
Yugi slammed down his tea cup and glared at his husband. "Me? You spoil him rotten!"
"Guys, let's face it." Tristan held up his hands playing mediator. Syrus, who'd been silently and entertainingly observing the conversation smiled humorously and shifted his head in the direction of who was speaking.
Tristan continued. "Between at least two over protective uncles, two loving aunts and a ton of fairy siblings, all our kids are gonna be spoiled rotten."
They all laughed at that. Syrus, who was no longer interested in the conversation, turned around, plate of cookies still in his lap and munching on a cupcake, and watched his brothers locked in a heated argument of great importance.
"He's playing with me!" All three yelled at once, locking head so close it was a miracle they didn't bash together. Yusei sat on the ledge of the rink, shaking his dangling legs back and forth, head shifting cutely back and forth to whoever was speaking.
"It's my turn guys! That's that!" Jaden said defiantly stomping his foot.
"Not ah!" Jesse protested, "Its mine, I haven't any alone time with in forever!"
"You liar," Chazz snapped shoving Jesse out of the way. "What about last week, when you took him to the park."
"First of all, I'm a fairy I can't lie! Second, that wasn't alone time, I was playing with all the kids remember? It's my job." Ruby hopped on his shoulder and commandingly nodded.
"That still counts! So it's my turn!" Jaden protested.
"No it's not," Chazz argued. "It's mine! I've been stuck doing paperwork for the last month. I deserve some alone time."
"Oh shut up, Chazz," Jaden snapped, "You'll get all the time in the world with him when you become the Frost King and he'll be your apprentice. Me and Jesse only have now!"
"Yeah!" Jesse rushed to Jaden's side and grabbed his arms hoping to double-team his oldest sibling, but Jaden squashed all hope when he shoved Jesse away.
"Oh don't rub that in my face!" Chazz snapped, "That's won't happen for another sixty years, I'm only forty-one!"
At that loud shout, both Joey and Tristan spat out their drinks. They knew full well, Yugi's step-children were older than them, but confirmation of it was still difficult to swallow.
"Wait, sixty?" Joey asked confused. "You you're only 63?" He looked at Yami.
"67," Yami corrected. "But I was 40 when I became an adult, and inherited the throne, so Chazz is right, traditionally a Frost fairy reaches adult hood between the ages of fifty and sixty, normally because we become teenagers early, but if we remain as children longer than we tend to outgrow our adolescent bodies faster, as was the case for my siblings and I. As such, we request adults wait a few decades to 'learn the trade' before the previous monarch retires and the new one inherits. I was the exception because of my mother's disappearance and because my siblings downright refused to do anything but abdicate. Since I, obviously, am in robust health and shall be ruling for a long time" Yami boasted proudly. "Chazz will have to wait a while, before he becomes King, and since he's oldest if Yusei were to continue that line he'd become Chazz's apprentice instead of mine."
He couldn't help but chuckled at Joey and Tristan's jaw-dropped expressions. Age had yet to take much a toll on either of them, but the signs were still there, a curve in their lips. A graying hair or two, a bulge in the gut, but all minimal things barely noticeable to fairies and only to the humans whom it bothered. It always surprised him how critical humans were of their own appearances whenever he and Yugi ventured Earthside, though he assumed it was because, as Yugi said, unlike his kind they could not always change their forms at will. Vaguely, he turned to Yugi, and frowned at the little one's sad face. His consort had long come to terms with the fact that he would outlive his friends long before Yusei was an adult, and he knew his friend knew it too, but they kept it to themselves and preferred not to think of it. It didn't stop them from keeping their bargain and from visiting their growing family during holidays, though many times the humans glamoured themselves to look older if only to keep strangers from whispering. It was difficult and strange, but time had always been a fickle little devil and it seemed unfair to let her mischief sour their lives.
Swiftly, he changed the subject, reminding his little one and their company just how precious their current time was. "I must say though, I'm pleasantly surprised by how much those four have changed their tune." He chuckled noticing Syrus was too engrossed in his food and entertainment to hear him speak.
"What do you mean?" Joey asked.
Yugi snorted: his mood instantly brighter. "Joey, do Maggie and Kimi ever compete for your or Mai's attention?"
"You mean sibling rivalry? Yeah all the time, why?"
"Because fairy children are ten-times worse," Yami explained. "My siblings and I, well, we were cruel children let's leave it at that. Our tricks on others were minuscule compared to the ones we played on each other, all in an effort to get our mother, father or our nursemaid's attention." He spoke playfully but his tone held a cynical mock. "What stupid, selfish devils we were. Fairies children, worst of all, want nothing more than to be loved best. I had hoped that that gene hadn't passed on to my adoptive children, but alas, it seemed the trait is inherited in all fairies."
"I don't get it?" Tristan blinked, so Yugi explained.
"Well, they were all roughly the same age growing up and were teenagers when they became fairies so there was never really any need for them to compete among each other for either my or Yami's attention, but when Yusei was born…"
"Let me guess, a fairy baby is ten times worse than a human one?"
"Oddly no, Yusei was a very well-behaved infant. He slept all day and we could take him anywhere, but…"
"He was a night owl. The second the sun went down he was wide awake and demanded our attention. Sometimes he would cry all night until one of us picked him up and the second we put him down again he'd cry until we picked him up again. I think between the time he was a baby to a toddler, the whole mansion got, maybe 3 days sleep?"
"Correction, love, you slept, if I wasn't raising him I was running our Kingdom." Yami corrected. That single problem had led to many of their marital spats early in Yusei's infancy. "And Chazz too, more than once he'd be up for days on end covering for me and he never ceased complaining when he tried to sleep and Yusei refused to. Needless to say, since their room is right below ours, the boys didn't like their little brother much."
That was an understatement, Yugi thought with a smile. Yusei's birth had changed so much, from the day Mahado has cut him from Yugi's belly in a process that he had thankfully been unconscious for, but the moment he awoke, his stomach flat and sewed up, with his tiny newborn wrapped and sleeping in his arms, it was love at first sight. As fiercely, hopelessly irrevocably in love with the tiny thing he had been when it was still growing in him, he had hated being pregnant, and more than one became depressed feeling like his body was nothing more than a vessel for the little parasite, and then he felt consumed by guilt for calling it that. More than once of his hormones left him easily irritated and upset and more than once he slept in a different room out of guilt or annoyance whenever he and Yami spat. But Yami never once got mad at him. Instead he just lavished his little one with even more affection, which Yugi was grateful for. If anyone could've loved that tiny little thing more than Yugi when he was born it was Yami.
Secretly, he wondered if his unstable mood swings stung his husband more than he let on, thus he was more than willing to let Yami spend as much time with their baby as he could, but Yami, again, was never mad at him, knowing full well it was only his little one's hormones and temper. Mahado had explained that when she was pregnant with both Mana and Yami, their mother had been so fierce not even her closest companions dared to approach her but never held it against her. Now Yugi wondered if the reason Yami was so tolerant was because he knew it would be worth it once their little one was born. All day, he'd skip lessons to play with him, tickle his little tummy and smile as the baby laughed and squirmed uncontrollably and whenever the baby wanted to be held Yami picked him up and denied him nothing.
The baby looked so much like Yami when he was born, even now as a toddler Yugi could see his pudgy cheeks starting to sharpen, his height growing leaner along with his muscles and chest and his rich black hair, which had fallen flat when he was a baby, had already begun to spike up with streaks of gold. He would be a splitting image when he grew older. Only his large eyes, spoke of Yugi. Though, the color was neither the bright amethyst of Yugi's or the rich red of Yami's holly gems, no his color were a deep, deep, violet that shifted to the darkest of blues, the color mimicking his four wings. The eyes may have mirrored Yugi's in shape, but the color was Yusei's own. And from the moment he opened them, they commanded the love and attention of his parents. Something his four older brothers were quick to notice and even quicker to dislike.
"I see where this is going," Joey nodded in understanding. "Maggie went through the same thing when Kimi was a baby. They don't get it because babies are totally dependent on their parents and don't realize that because we need to take care of them, doesn't mean we don't still love them, but, of course, they still get jealous anyway, right?"
"Boy, I'm glad Tyler's an only child," Tristan shook his head.
"Pretty much," Yugi said. "Like Yami said, fairy children like to be loved best, and in the case, Jaden, Syrus, Jesse and Chazz: they hated how much time we had to spend taking care of Yusei, especially Chazz. Whenever Yami or I couldn't deal with work right away, he got stuck with it. So they'd always complain or protest by not coming home at night, but one night when Yusei just refused to stop crying, and after an especially hard day for Yami and I, neither of us could get up right away. We did when we heard him stop, so we got worried and we got into his room and we find him rolling on the floor laughing with all four of the boys sitting around him smiling. It seems they finally got frustrated enough to go after him themselves and instead of yelling at him that sweet little boy won them all over."
"And since that day, this has been the problem." He gestured his thumb over his shoulder. Jesse, Jaden and Chazz's argument had only grown fiercer with time, and Yusei was delightfully clapping his hands, which made Syrus arch an annoyed eyebrow. "It seems their desire to be loved best by us, transferred to their desire to be loved best by their baby brother."
"So then why isn't Syrus' over there?"
"I'm playing a waiting game," said Syrus. "Eventually Yusei will get bored watching them argue, he'll come back over here and I'll have him all to myself." There was a wicked smile on his face.
"Okay, it is really wrong that he looks like that, but is that devious." Joey said, slightly scared.
"Like I said, fairies aren't always pleasant." Yugi shrugged his shoulders. "But I'm not complaining. I can't wait to see how they act when Yusei gets older."
"Speaking of that, Yug," Tristan cleared his throat, though it was obvious there was no need too. "Joe and I need to talk to you guys about that." The two men straightened their backs, their mouths formed unreadable lines.
"Well, it's been fourteen years and we both agreed we can do another seven years, but after that…"
"Neither of us knows what will be going on then or what will be happening, so we don't know if we'll be able to come back every year. Mai and I have been talking about moving to California when the girls are older. I mean, Maggie's only in elementary school now, so we don't wanna move right away, but sooner or later it's something we both wanna do."
"The thing is, we still wanna be able to visit you guys if we can, and we love when you see us, but we don't know if we can, keep with the deal."
"I see," Yami nodded, but turned to Yugi. He matched their uncertain sadness. "I understand, things are changing, it's not easy to stick to the rules. Even we can only visit during the days when the veil is weak. And in the seven years the boys will all no doubt transcend. They'll be adults and on their own." Then suddenly, surprisingly he smiled. "It just means we'll have to make the most of the time we have right now."
The bright smile soother their worried hearts and the small family just laughed, until Yusei bound over into his dad's lap. It seemed the fairy boy's scuffle had turned boring, and Syrus who'd gotten tired of waiting and joined in the mess wasn't there to pick him up.
The rest of the visit passed by rather quickly and uneventful but was nonetheless an enjoyable bout of talking and laughter that only existed among family and close reunions. Before leaving, as they always did, Joey and Tristan followed Yugi to say good bye to Grandpa.
The old man's funeral had been one of true fairy fashion with a celebration of life and his glass coffin adorned with flowers, but once it was over the fairies left with quick haste, no one daring to enter the forlorn and forgotten graveyard in the shadow of the mountain side except the consort who, despite the grimness it caused the fairies who did not like being reminded of their own morality, created a lovely tombstone so Yugi could know exactly where his body was buried. To say this only Yami and the boys ever visited it with him, but Solomon had lived a long life and he loved the life he lived with the fairies and was even happier to know he was alive long enough to see the birth of his first biological great-grandchild.
Joey and Tristan entered the graveyard: it was a strange place with no gate or entrance or grave markers, only raised mounds of dirt and snow where the glass coffins had been buried under large heaps of stones. Grandpa's was no different, but his had a large flat stone in the center with his name and life engraved into it.
It was a cold reminder, it seemed that time was eternally their enemy, but at the same time the memory had brought new hope. When they left the grave yard and bid them both goodbye Luna lead them back through the forests and Yugi stood and watched long after they disappeared into the thicket. Yusei had fallen asleep in his mama's arms out of boredom and the boys had likewise grown tired from their incensed arguing and curled up for a nap.
"What are you thinking love?" Yami asked, removing his cloak and covered the boys with it.
"About what your mother used to say, mortals gone in a fairy sigh. It just made me do some thinking." Yugi admitted pulling his snow cloak tighter around him, when Yusei cuddled into the softness.
"Ah, I see," Yami said wrapping his arms around them both. "It is a strange thing time, for fairies seven years could pass in the blink of an eye, but at the same time seem as vast and endless as eternity."
"Yeah," Yugi smiled, nuzzling into Yami's warmth. "I guess there's only one thing we can do then."
"What's that love?" Yami asked tilting his head to smile at Yugi. His consort looked over his shoulder his bright amethyst eyes smirked into sweet, confident, and loving red. "Hold our breath."
Yami just laughed.
The bus rolled to a stop, and the jerk was so fierce, she barely noticed she'd fallen asleep until her elbow slipped and her chin fell forward. She jerked awake and looked outside, hoping she hasn't missed her stop and breathed a sigh of relief when she read the sign.
"Last stop miss," the driver said kindly. "You sure you want to get off? We turn around in fifteen minutes."
"No, I'm alright," she said plainly packing her stuff and grabbing the heavy duffle bag that contained everything she owned, and was careful to keep that secret from the driver. "Thank you," she said with a broken smile over her shoulder, but descended down the steps before he could question her further.
Leaving the mild warmth of the bus she was taken aback by the sudden rush of cold that ripped through her and was quick to grab her thick red coat and pull it close. The winter wind took her by surprise at first, but she quickly found it soothing. Down the road, the inn was loud and rambunctious with lights and people huddle around a fire in the lobby drinking hot chocolate and beer, and resting nice and warm after a long day in the snow and wind. But she had no desire of entering this place.
Instead, she hoisted her bag over her shoulder and started up the path. The snow crunched loudly under her boots, louder and louder with the increase in her speed. She was grateful she grabbed them before leaving, but she was glad she did. Time was against her and she knew she wouldn't be able to stay long, but she had to come here. She owed it to them.
Warm tears stung her cold eyes as she ran, and she shut them tightly. Streams of salty water streaked her cheeks and formed frosty streaks in the cold air, but she didn't have the heart to leave them. Even though it had been so long since she'd seen them: since they'd sent her to boarding school, to the institution, and maybe they'd have stopped caring about her but she didn't. She'd never did, try as she might. All she wanted was to say goodbye.
And he'd denied her that. And for that reason she hated him.
She'd been an important man's daughter. The perfectly behaved and loved daughter of a great man who was doing important work and great good, and came from a perfect family and had the perfect life: that was how the world saw her. In reality, she was just a sweet but lonely little girl who loved her parents and only wanted the simple desire of every little girl: her father's affection. But he was a busy man, an important man. A political champion who the people loved and looked up to and who did important work to benefit the future. But how did you explain that to a little girl who only wanted to spend time with her parents?
It was why she was here now.
When she opened her eyes again she'd found it: her sanctuary, still at the top of the hillside on the side of the frozen lake she'd loved as a child. The cabin where her family had stayed for countless cold winters and weekends stood dark and vacant, and she had no idea if it had ever been occupied since they'd stopped coming. Memories of their happy Christmases, the days her father spent hours teaching her to skate and her mother's homemade hot chocolate. The memories brought tears to her eyes, but she furiously whipped the frost from her cheeks and tossed her bag to the ground and pulled out her prize.
Bright ruby red skates decorated with black roses at the heel slid carefully over her delicate feet, her stockings still sweaty from her boots and probably not the best for skating but she'd had little time to change and didn't care. Once the skates were on she slid across the ice, her coat fanned about her like a thick skirt, moving with each jump, twirl and turn of her slender figure. How long had it been since she did this? They'd stopped coming when she was thirteen, and he never liked her skating.
Now she knew why: how long had it been since she felt this free? This alive? This empowered? She spun elegantly, and then leapt into the air landing a triple. Pausing for a moment, she started to skate in circles. Vaguely, she imagined her younger self, ten years old and innocent practicing her newest trick for her father. Her excitement and pride when she finally did it, weeks of falling, sore limbs and bruised bones worth it to show it to her father—and then her complete devastation when he missed it to answer his phone. Her anger when she was so angry she ripped off her skates, threw them at him, and with a loud, defiant scream of "I hate you" ran away crying into the woods.
She skated to the edge of the lake, towards the woods where she escaped. It had been so easy to run so far, angry and crying and blinded from the pain in her feet and the cold piercing her skin like thousands of sharp needles. When it finally became too much she crashed into the snowy bank. Ten years old and only then realizing she had no idea where she was or where to do, her feet freezing and wet and angrily red showing the earliest signs of frostbite. Scared, alone, in pain and so young she didn't know what to do she did all she could do and started to cry.
What happened next had changed everything. Through the snow, she'd heard a sound. At first glance she saw nothing, at second she'd thought it was a predator, at last it revealed the most beautiful creature she'd ever seen: a cat-sized dragon the color of snow and blue ice with glittering golden eyes. At an age where it was easy to believe such things, she watched as he touched her feet, healing them immediately, and started walking away, but stopped whenever she slowed down. Looking back she now realized, he was guiding her. An hour later she was reunited with her parents.
They didn't believe her story, of course, and were too glad she was alright to be mad. But over the next few trips she would constantly sneak away to find the dragon and see the spirits lurking in the woods at night. They made her feel safe and warm. Even now she didn't stop believing in them, she never had. But the more she snuck out, the more she talked about them, the most her parents began to worry. At first it was nothing.
They blamed it on imaginary friends and cures to her loneliness, but then as she grew older and they kept coming to her and she kept seeing them, then her parents started to grow angry. Accused her of lying and making things up. It was then she noticed what it was in their eyes when they looked at her: fear. Afraid she was losing her mind. Afraid she was insane and they had no idea how to help her. Psychologists and shrinks accused her of trying to draw attention to herself. Doctors and therapists blamed it on a traumatic experience from being alone in the woods. They'd blamed it on imaginary friends, trauma, psychological means to deal with pain. No one believed they were real. That what she was really seeing were dragons and spirits or, God forbid, fairies.
Finally, they sold the cabin and forbid her from going back. She never forgave them. They solved the problem first by giving her pills, but she hated them and they made her sick. She refused to take them. They tried institutions. Thought she was insane, kept her alone in pure white rooms, and tried to give her terrible treatments tried to convince her they weren't real, that they were all in her mind. Finally, she could take no more and begged her parents to let her come home: she promised never to mention them again, to talk to them or anything if only her parents would take her home. They agreed. And she never saw the fairies again.
They put her in boarding school. Away from the snow and ice she loved, they forbid her to skate. They wanted her to make friends with her father's rich, snobby daughters and date one of the son of one of her mother's well to do friends.
At thirteen and treated like an outcast because her father was "so great" and she felt "so important" the other girls ignored her. As she grew older into a slender young lady with creamy skin shoulder-cut cranberry red hair, and a heart-shaped face, all the boys saw was a large chest, a slender body and a pretty face. No one cared for who she was. Teachers though she was strange and a liar for her tales. She'd hated it so much, and her parents did nothing. They thought this would help her. They were wrong.
Her hatred for people became stronger and stronger. She isolated herself from them. She grew cold and distant and wanted nothing more than to leave. She'd gotten into arguments with other girls, shot down boys and the teachers disliked her. Finally, she could take no more and ran away. She'd run home to her parents, but they looked so happy to have her gone. She knew now that she'd misread them, but at the time she was so mad she's run away again.
She'd had nothing. She was alone. Then he found her.
He was like an angel who found her crying in the park, listened to her problems and had the kindest smile and the softest eyes. How naïve she'd been then. But she was sixteen and alone and wanted nothing more but to be wanted herself. She knew if she'd gone back to then, she could've told herself that he was lying. That the kindness in his smile was actually a smirk, the softness in his eyes and the trusting of his smile was all an act to lure her into a false sense of security. But she didn't and she couldn't and it worked.
She'd gone back to school: He'd encouraged her too, in retrospect she should've taken that as a sign. He told her to finish school so she could accomplish her dreams. In reality, He probably hoped the continual harassment from her classmates and lack of support teachers would only make her more cynical, angrier, and more determined for his comfort. He was right.
She'd finished school. Then she'd left home. She'd told her parents she was moving out, telling them she's hated them and she was convinced they were happier without her. The shock and horror on their faces when she left without a word had satisfied her. How now it just filled her with dread.
She was stupid, so stupid. So blindly in love with Him and happy to have someone who accepted her, who didn't look at her like she was weird, called her a freak or looked like they were afraid of her, so blinded that she couldn't see herself placing herself too much in His power. She couldn't see him isolating her further. Telling her only He understood her. Only He loved her, could love her. That the rest of the world would reject her and she believed Him without a second's doubt. And she'd forgotten her love of skating, her happy memories as a child with her parents, her time with the spirits, the dragon who saved her.
She'd forgotten until the tragedy brought her back to reality. It had happened so suddenly. She'd been with him for only two years and was so blinded and devoted and lost she couldn't see that she had hit rock bottom. Until the police came to their home and told her that her parents had died in a car crash while coming to see her, to convince her to come home. She'd been devastated.
They left her everything, and in their will was an apology. The words were so loving and touching she's burst into tears. And she only found out two weeks ago when she left.
He didn't want her to go. He told her to forget her parents and be glad they were dead. He wasn't there to comfort her or hold her like he had those years ago, no, instead he ordered her not to cry, that she didn't need them, that he was all she needed. At once she would've believed him, but their lawyer insisted she see their will so she did.
And when He found out, everything about him changed. It had been their first real fight. He claimed she had betrayed him, rejected him after all he'd done for her. She argued that she only wanted closure that she wanted to forgive her parents and move on but He said no. He was more angered that she'd disobeyed him then questioned him. It surprised her more than anything else. And finally when he said that she belonged to Him and that she was His, did she do what she had done eight years earlier and exploded like she had to her father. But the reaction was different. He'd slapped her.
That single act had made everything so clear. Of course, he was quick to apologize. Tell her she shouldn't have made Him angry and that it would be alright if she didn't question Him. It suddenly became clear: He wanted her to be dependent on Him. He only loved her for the same reason her parents feared her. He wanted to control her, own her like she was an item like her parents wanted her to be their perfect daughter.
In that moment, she made a decision. She would never be dependent again: not on her parents not on him, not on anyone. She knew she had to leave that night. She'd slipped sleeping pills into his drink, and waited until he was out. She packed up and left that night, leaving only a two word note.
Their lawyer had been happy to help her leave. Help her start over. It was him who helped her get her restraining order when he refused to leave her alone. Helped her get her inheritance, she only took what she needed and donated the rest. She's wanted to start over to leave and figure out what she wanted to do.
It had taken longer than she though: three buses, two trains and a few taxies, all paid in cash but she refused to leave a trail for him to find her. She'd never told him about this place. It had been her own little secret. And that was why she was here now.
She wanted to start over. She wanted to regain her power through the only manner in which she ever felt free: skating. She skated and skated, fears of her future, wonder of what to do when this experience was over, all her worries and fears and past, melted away.
She skated across the lake, her eyes fell on something she'd never seen before. A stream leaked from the pond, long enough to skate on. Curiosity compelled her to check it out. She heard laughing and she approached the pool. In its heart was a pair of soft golden light.
She skated towards it, reached out to touch it. Suddenly, the ice shattered beneath her feet! Water lapped about her ankles and ice broke. Surprise had left her too stunned to do anything until she felt the water crash around her. She tried to scream, expecting liquid to fill her lungs but instead when she fell through the ice, she fell up on the other side. Landing hard on the ice, water crashing in a wave around her. He landed on her stomach and coughed violently. When she looked up she immediately recognized she was someplace else.
"Are you alright?" Someone was running over, the voice was young and baritone, but all she saw was a familiar creature the size of a cat, large white wings shimmering like ice, silver claws clicking across the ice as it walked and soft, familiar golden eyes smiling at her.
"Stardust?" The figure stopped, and she looked up when a pair of dark brown boots invaded her vision. She followed them up the strong legs, lean figure, quiet slender for a male; spied his strangely long fingers, his gloves doing nothing to hide the extra joint.
Finally, she saw his face. His features were sharp and his skin a light tanned, like chiseled caramel. Locks of midnight streaked with rich gold spiked about his head and ears. And what bizarre ears they were: long and pointed like an elves, poking out from the black locks and growing into blue, black and purple feathers shinning with crystals. Four magnificent wings shimmered like icy crystals, strong and feathery and shinning the deepest of blues and purples. But most striking of all was not the wings or his ears or his long fingers or his too willowy figure but those striking eyes: large and sharp and the most beautiful shade of dark blue she'd ever seen.
He looked at her with surprise and looked at her with stunned mystification like a child who'd seen animals on TV but never in the actual wild. "We haven't used that portal since Jesse showed up." He said with a surprised gasp. The tiny dragon gave a loud squeal and bound up its master's leg to his shoulder and curled its tail around his shoulder.
The boy stroked the creature under the chin and it purred like a kitten. "I'm surprised Stardust, you're usually not this friendly." He turned to the girls with a smile, and unlike His smile, she could see it was a true smile. There was honest concern and friendliness. "I guess you're confused?" He stuttered unsure how to approach her and pondered what to do. "Well, I guess I'll just say it, you're in Fairyland."
"I knew it!" she bound up excite surprising him even more.
"Wait? You're not? Stunned? Even my dad was fairy struck when he first came here."
She laughed and shook her head. "I've been seeing you guys since I was a kid," She explained and petted Stardust on the head and smiled when he rubbed against her hand. "And he saved me when I was a little girl. He's yours?"
"Stardust," the fairy boy nodded with warm eyes. "And yes, he's my familiar. Did he bring you here?"
"I think so," she explained. "I came to the lake to clear my head." She turned away unable to mask the sadness in her eyes.
"What happened," he asked earnestly concerned.
"I had a rough few months, a lot happened and when I finally decided that I didn't like the person I was or the person I was with, I decided I wanted to become more independent. I came here to try and figure out how to start over."
"And what do you want to do?" He asked curious.
"To be a doctor and work with children," she smiled, surprised by how open she was being.
"I know someone who can help with that. My uncle, he's an alchemist, and he can teach you everything from the human world and from this world. That way whatever you decide, you'll be a fairy doctor." He said enthusiastically.
She looked at him skeptically. "And I'm to assume you're just willing to help me out of the goodness of your heart?"
He nodded. "You're smart, but I am a royal fairy and we are bound by the land and the laws and we have always loved and welcomed human. And if you don't believe me you can speak to my mother. He was once a lost human too."
She searched his face for any sign of lying and he must of read her mind because he crossed his arms and said. "Fairies can't lie, we can bend the truth so it sounds like lying but we can never tell a direct untruth. I can promise that so long as you are here than on my honor as a fairy prince I will not let any harm come to you nor will I harm you myself, and my word is my bond." He bowed like a royal prince and the promise was so powerful and rung with truth.
She smiled and knelt to his eye level and said. "Alright, but I want a job. I'll work for my keep."
He looked up at her and smiled impressed and amused. "I'm sure we can work something out. My brother is the Frost King, he will be more than willing to let you stay at the palace and my Father and Mother are the former King and Consort. They will happily welcome you, and whatever you decide they'll be happy to help you." His smile was warm and inviting but ringed with so much honesty and his eyes showed only kindness. He offered a hand to her, than remained still. He was giving her a choice. The first time anyone ever had.
She had no other options she knew. She was in Fairyland a strange new world she'd always dreamed of but so secretly she kept it from herself she feared it really was her imagination. She wanted to be independent and before the idea of asking for help, letting someone else help her might've been a weakness, but for the first time she had the possibility of a friend. Her parent's last words came to her once more. Don't be afraid to open your heart, no one can make it on their own.
Yet she didn't feel weak: she felt for the first time she had a friend. With new hope and optimist she took his hand and allowed him to help her up. "Thank you." She smiled then said with a real smile, the first in years. "My name's Akiza."
He looked deep into her eyes and offered her a hand to shake. When she took it for the first time she noticed they were not blue at all, but a deep violet. "Yusei."
And that is the conclusion to my masterpiece and my favorite fic and I think I might cry...that was the longest chapter to date: 27 pages on word even after editing it! (phew) but I'm so happy with how it came out.
This chapter was a collaboration and bases of stuff from fans, stuff I wanted, and all the family trips, visits, weddings and experiences I went on as well as some obvious ones like marital spats, family's moving on and of course the question of mortality (unless you go by the stephanie myers eternal happily-ever-after crap). But yes, Yugi's contemplating his long-life but he's got Yami's by his side and though their marriage isn't perfect, no one's is, and I've talked to my mom and aunts enough to know that being married is hard but its always worth it in the end...so comments:
The wedding: I said there would be one but I didn't say who's ;) XD but in all honestly I planned this from the start (like i did in DR) one, because its more fun showing Yugi, Yami and the boys going Earthside (or entering the mortal realm) and two, because i wanted to avoid the issue i had with LMBYW and that is there is absolutely NO materials whatsoever on fairy weddings. Nothing! but i know you guys all wanted one, so I went with a sweet, simple and intimate hand-fastening with Yugi in a white outfit (I couldn't resist throwing him in a brocades corset), but this is how i imagine their wedding: them kissing under a shower of silver flowers, so this was my way of killing two with one stone, and showing their wedding, them YEAS later and still living their lives and the background of what they've been doing.
As such, I did some thinking and to avoid plotholes I also added the media circus that I felt would come up from Yugi disappearing to his retirinf, I tried to keep it as realistic as possible, and did lots of research on homosexuality in Japan and though they've never had a law discriminating against it or forbidding it, Japan's pretty much been neutral on the subject until after WWII when the whole country went PeaceFirst, and of course the yaoi fandom community plays a big role in the culture as well, so there ya go. That was fun and ultimately, I felt this would best convince Yugi to go rural.
Anzu: I believe it was Sakura-chan who mentioned her, and I put some thought into it, and once I got an idea I decided to throw her in, kinda of like that whole semi-awkward, trying to be friends again stage when you see someone again after so long and wonder how they're doing but when you meet them again its like...that's it. So no neither Anzu nor Yugi was the other's "one that got away", but I wanted to show that Anzu's not as heartless as I may have made her out to be in the beginning and that she still sees Yugi as a friend, but like Yugi said now they;re just exs.
M-preg: I thought about it and thought about it, and honestly I had no idea until this chapter if I'd do it or not despite the fact I said (and research confirms) make FFs can reproduce asexually, but when I thought out the epilogue I got the sickest Idea for the final end so I went with it. I'm so proud of that whole seen though! I hinted it throughout but I wanted Yugi's pregnancy to be secret until the end and I'm so happy about that!
5Ds characters: I'm not sorry. Come on, Yusei looks like he could so be Yami and Yugi's kid, or Yami and Seto's, either way the whole cast looks like they could be kids of the past so, if ever Yugi and Yami were gonna have children that wasn't an OC it'd have to be Yusei. And I looked up his name, after learning it meant planetary on the show: it literally does mean in one translation the Star the saves us, which really makes sense if you think about it. So had fun writing him as a toddler and more importantly (and I've had more than enough talks with my mom and aunts to confirm this) he shows why their married life is hard, not only are they raising kids but they're running a country and yes even fairies need rulers and laws and if you do research fairies are dark, they aren't good aren't evil and some are benevolent but some are malicious and they have rules that humans have to respect, so Yugi's mentioning of the unseelie (the common name for the malevolent faye) is true, just as Tristan worries about his little boy being exposed to all the evil and hell that goes on in the world now, so does Yugi and Yami, but point being: when you have kids everything changes, not only because you're responsible for a whole nother life, but because you have to keep from going from husband and wife to mom and dad (and again I've talked to my auntd about this and every married couple with kids has wanted out at some point because of the stress of "doing it all" and another reason why mothers are amazing, but when you help yourself and out your foot down your husband will change for you because while mother's do everything for their kids, husbands will do everything for their wives. So again those snippets about their martial spats, and Yusei and the boys and all that, its all part of being married, but again, its all worth it in the end. Marriage isn't the end...its the beginning.
That said, I had SO much fun writing a toddler Yusei with his older brothers all fighting for his attention. I'm the oldest of five so I can honestly tell you when siblings are born, you either love them or hate them and then the reverse comes later: my brother hated my sister when she was born and i loved her, we got older my sister ans i fight all the time and Jim and her get alone cause they like to party. Same with my younger brothers. so that was fun.
Also I'm a huge faithship fan so I had to end this with a possible chance of that and the cycle starting over...hey you never know? and i thought it was a great ay to end it.
Grandpa's funeral: There's very little on fairy funerals even though some are recorded and its shown that fairies are NO invincible or immortal so I decided to go with the traditional celts style of funeral. and let's face it as much as we love grandpa he was in his eighties when Yugi was sixteen, and my own grandpa was 83 this year when he died, so it had to happen, but the celts have always celebrated the life and I can see the fairies doing the same.
Final notes: as i said I'm turning this into an original fic, and I've made some decisions about this story as well as some concerns I'd like to ask you all so here we go:
the lemons: course this was gonna be first, I want to thank you all for the fantastic feedback about this, and I've ultimately decided that for the most part the lemons will be limes like the one when Yugi and Yami are reunited but I will probably keep the one where Yugi leaves a full lemon, so best of both. I've already decided to cut the one in the hot springs since it doesn't serve a purpose, and when I go back over these I will definitely take all your comments into consideration but ultimately i want to capture the emotion and the love in the lemons as well as the passion , closest i've ever gotten to heat and passion is the one i did for AIEW. Now it will be years before i look at this again, so this may change but for now that's the decision.
the pairing: obviously this will have all new characters with different appearances and personalities so that will be a challenge but a good ones, and people have asked if this will stay a gay pairing or a straight ones, and I've decided it will be a heterosexual one, but I plan on making Yami the Frost Queen, one because there are far more fairy queens than kings and 2, I like having a strong and seductive woman running everything and commanding and proving that the nice guy can get the hot girl. Plus, I have friends who are gay and as easy as it is to write yaoi pairings for fanfics, I am not even going to insult the gay community by saying i know anything about how they behave or act with each other so I will stick to what I know.
The location: This takes place in Japan and though I did a lot of research on the location, obviously I didn't use the honofics or anything of the sort, so I'm wondering if I should make Yugi and his family be from another country coming to Japan or if I should move it to another location entirely. A friend of mine suggested Canada which I am honestly considering though I know nothing of the country. I also thought Russia but then same thing. Basically i chose Sapporo as a location for the Olympics which were held there during that year as it was the first time the winter olympics weren't held in America, so I want to ask what you guys think any suggestions?
One final note: the results of my polls are in! You can all check them yourselves for the winners and I am ecstatic cause all the ones I wanted to write made the top! However, my next fic that i will write will be...Wonderland! I've sent my whole vacation reading and watching wonderland remakes (code geass by far did the best adaption) and have been outlining the story so when its done I'll be able to jump write into writing it, while working on OL and AIEW.
Also while finishing OL and AIEW (my goal is still to finish them by the end of the summer, AIEW is about halfway done anyway) I want to outline Crimson Pharaoh, i have the story but the outline and plot needs more work, same with Death is only the beginning, this was based on Larka's reborn with her permissions and she's anxious to see it but obviously mine is gonna be different so that needs to be worked out as well, and Wadjet I have the story planned out but I need to do more research on the nomads and wadjet worshipers. I want to make it clear this isn't gonna be one of those stockholm stories where the sacrifice is given to a monster, gets rapes and yadda yadds (I found a graphic novel like that that was basically h.p lovecraft but with sex) so Hell no am i don't that. My story will be more like a combination of Shamise's Gotcha's with Binding circles with bride of the water god (best I can give off the top of my head) basically Yugi's lost everything and when he comes to a village who worships wadjet just as they get a request that the diety wants a companion they see it was a sign from the god to help them both. Plus the gods were very trusted and beloved in Egypt, so yes Yugi seeing a winged, half-human serpant is scary as hell but Yami's not a monster, he can talk and think and truely cares for Yugi so then the issue becomes not only that Yami's form is a bit unnerving but how exactly do you handle marriage to a God? So Yugi's debate of whether or not he'd worthy will be an issue, so I need to work on that one as well, but I do have a good arsonal of fics in the waiting:
Wonderland, of course, The Desert Kings I have outlines to I may start that, and I also have a little mermaid adaption with Dragons that will be puzzleshipping that i think everyone will life. Yami's a dragon, the son of Seto the Dragon King, with his younger brothers Jaden, Juudai, Chazz and Seti (my who i envisioned being the son of Seto and yami once upon a time) who are dragons living in a hidden world in the clouds above a steampunk world, while there father hates human after the death of their mother, so when Yami starts becoming more and more pressured to find a mate and learn to rule (which he doesn't like, He prefers working directly with people as opposed to politics) he and his brothers agree to find thim the perfect mate and enlist the help of their friends, and on a hair ship where seven princesses are celebrating their oldest sister's marriage, Yami, disguised as a human meets and befriends Yugi, the youngest and only boy. After saving him when he falls off the ship, he and his brothers hide their true forms from him and over the course of the next few weeks, Yami and Yugi talk and get to know each other, all while Seto, frustrated with Yami's "immaturity" holds a contest for all the noble dragon children to prove themselves and the winner will be his bride, and a strange wingless dragon with white hair, attempts to convince the boys that their father is not the fair and benevolent ruler he seems...and when Seto finds out Yami's secret...well that's when it all startes to go south...so I have that one worked out as well.
Point being I've got a good back of fics for you all and I'm also working on my novel as well, so for the most part with this fic being done I'm gonna take a break to work on my novel, least a few chapters, outline Wonderland and get a few chapters of OL and AIEW completed so I can update faster.
ALSO as many of you know my youtube account got deleted. and since I don't want to get sued for copyrigting i won;t be making another one (plus my mom found out and I decided not to for her peace of mind god forbid I do get suec) but I am still making videos and my next one will be a sneak peek of Wonderland, and anyone who would like a copy of my videos, send me your e-mail address in a PM and i'd be happy to share ^^ I'll make a subscriber list, and I'm cool with you keeping them so long as you don't redistribute any of them without my permission.
So as always read, review, critique comment and THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH! You patience for this fic has made it all worth it!