A/N: Near-direct continuation of the first chapter. By the way, I'm now highly recommending that you watch the episodes/read the manga chapters either before or after you read the story chapters, if you weren't already planning on it - at least for the early chapters. It'll get confusing sometimes, since the events of Awakening generally will correspond with those of the show, or take place in the gaps that weren't filled in, and it's hard to tell which when I don't have the skill to both write effectively and make it clear at this point in time. For this chapter, I guess I'll tell you that the first part is Yuugi waking up, and in the beginning of episode 2, he's at the table with his grandfather, eating, the Millennium Puzzle on the table between them. I'll also apologize in advance for how difficult it is to keep up with. Don't read right now if you're particularly tired. I had a hard time doing that, and I wrote it.
The shadows coiled around his hands softly, wrapped around him, pressing in on him gently, curling around his throne. He didn't know how long he'd been there, allowing the darkness to encase him, to seep into his skin, into his flesh, until it ran through his veins - but it didn't matter.
I am not...alone?
He slowly began to realize this, feeling his breathing become a little quicker, a little more uneven - that of someone who is awake. He could feel his steady heartbeat, feel emotions not his own brush his skin.
Warmth. Aching. Curiosity. Confusion.
The shadows dug in sharp, incorporeal claws sometimes - on his cheek, his shoulder, his leg, steady throbbing and aching, as if he had been struck by the very shadows that reminded him of these pains. The emotions traced across his skin, in his chest, in his gut. It was almost pleasant, the unfamiliar - what? Something.
Stony caution settled in his stomach, as if finding himself in an unexpected situation. Sweet curiosity brushed his chest - like discovering some curious thing on his person that he'd never had before. A sudden burst of pain made his heart constrict, the ache streaking sharply across his leg, like a pre-existing wound he'd accidentally agitated.
But none of it was his own.
The emotions calmed slowly, the shadows stilling against his skin -
And then they ripped away, burning and itching and leaving him empty. His mind reeled as he opened his eyes and lurched forward, stumbling off his throne to the open door. He teetered, vision swimming, on the ledge outside the door, staring at the extensive labyrinth below, above, everywhere, mind desperately grasping in the sea of nothing for something.
His heart thudded in his ears, blood rushing, and his chest felt hollow, desperate to draw in something that had been torn from him -
Don't leave me alone...
The ache, the need, didn't subside as his body steadied, and he shivered, desperately reaching for that connection (that was what it was, connection) -
It wasn't there. There was simply emptiness, as if nothing had been there at all.
He straightened shakily, turning and quickly walking down the stairs, darkness so much deeper than before trailing after him, his eyes unfocused. He didn't look at his path, practically running as his breathing became uneven, hastened. His path blurred before him as he searched for the door - he didn't know why it mattered -
He took a sharp turn down a hall, his quick steps echoing off the walls, but none of it reaching him. His breaths never seemed to fill his lungs, the chasm in his chest steadily aching still.
And then - another turn - before him spread the broad platform, the darkened door opposite of him. He stared at it, the ache growing.
Shadows hovered at the edges of his vision, all around him, pressing down, waiting for him to give out.
He steadied himself, pressed a hand over his eyes, and it was irrational for him to feel so desperately lonely, for him to need -
Ice crawled down his spine and settled between his shoulders.
His eyes hardened, becoming cold. He turned and retreated, hands steady as stone, eyes set ahead, the memory of the ever-present ache banished to some distant corner of his mind.
I need nothing. No one.
He didn't - he wouldn't. Even if that meant being alone.
His mind void of thought, he wandered the labyrinth of his mind, choosing to lose himself to its depths and twists and the infinite paths rather than to the pain of his thoughts, his memories. His chest ached, and something murmured unintelligibly at the back of his thoughts.
The shadows crept on the walls, the ceiling, trailed after him, flickering and fading as the stones continued to provide dim light. "How long has it been?" he wondered - maybe out loud, he didn't know. The shadows gave him no answer, weaving around the highlights and seeping into the cracks of the stone. His steps may have been in slow motion - the entire world may have been in slow motion for all he knew - and he had nothing to measure the passage of time by.
Moments. Minutes. Decades.
His steps paused.
Something was shifting, something outside of himself - yet he could feel it, the ache growing, desperate.
His breathing softened. His heartbeat steadied.
And, as he drew in a slow, sweet breath, the pain faded. An emotion, one that he couldn't quite identify, brushed his skin like a silken mist - something akin to happine-
He pressed it away, pressed it back until it was only a distant, unidentifiable sensation.
He stared at the stone steps before him, burning eyes boring into it like white-hot flame.
Moments dragged by, turning steadily to minutes, and he clenched his teeth and walked on, searching, the emotions burning intensely in the back of his mind. He icily pressed them back further. He hated the heat, the scalding, the shock of such strong, deep emotions - emotions of someone soft but passionate, reserved but intense, brushing away the ache of hollowness, the pain of lonelin-
Leave me alone... The heat wasn't soothing, not now, but focused, intense, blazing steadily even as he tried so desperately to block it out.
I need no one.
He stared ahead, blindly wandering up the next staircase. He couldn't rely on the emotions to rid him of that pain; he couldn't rely on connection. Doubtless, no one would be there when it counted, and then that pain would return tenfold, bringing with it a debilitating, desperate need. When had anyone ever been there for him, when -
He stopped, eyes unfocused.
N-never. No one had been there. No one had saved him -
But...wasn't that a lie?
His teeth clicked as he clenched his jaw, lips drawn back in frustration. Pain. Why?
Why was he so concerned about what that boy would do? He shouldn't care so much; not long ago, he hadn't even known of the boy's existence. Why should he care? Why did he care?
But, no. He couldn't - wouldn't. The boy meant nothing to him.
"Nothing at all," he murmured silently to the shadows.
Time trickled by, ungauged, countless seconds streaming like a trickling stream into an ocean of stretching, painful millenniums. The drifting darkness carried the gentle touch of emotions; passing curiosity, amusement, and the faintest distress drifted across his skin, unheeded and unbidden. The soft coil of warm contentment reached for where his heart ought to be, and was pressed back fiercely. Emptiness followed in its wake.
The emotions of his host were consistent, but mostly fleeting. A constant tingle of anxiousness rested lightly on his shoulders; the eager probe of curiosity built in his head, a strange sensation of gentle internal pressure. It was ever-present, no matter how much he pressed it away, and as the measureless time passed him by, his resistant retreat faded into listless wandering.
The halls of the labyrinth were hopelessly twisted and coiled about each other, every surface a path, every step an uncertainty. He was sure that it moved sometimes, when the emotions surged a bit. Mid-step, his stomach would drop and gravity reeled as he struggled to catch himself even though the logical part of him insisted that nothing around him had caused him to stumble. He saw, when he regained his balance, that the shadows, too, had shifted, and knew something, somewhere, had changed, even though it remained unproven.
He wandered without purpose, the snaking shadows coiling along the ground, stretching between the thin highlights of the sandstone bricks, reflecting light from a flame that didn't exist. At times, he thought that the shadows were much more prominent than the light, when he was trying most to beat down the emotions; the dark around the dim light, and his sight would be obsolete in the depth of the encompassing darkness, though his steps never faltered, his path never wavered from its unseen, unknown course. The shadows of feeling coursing through him dulled with the light, and a strange lack was left - sometimes, only sometimes, his steps would pause, and he could feel his mind fading into confusion and lostness.
The shadows in him would jolt to life with something akin to flaming, burning fear, no longer a distant feeling, but now surging out from a deep, unknown wellspring; the light of nothing would flare blindingly around him, and his eyes cleared, and the gentle emotions would return.
And he would continue.
Sometimes, he would feel the boy's weariness and the light would flicker warmly as sensations caressed his skin. Sometimes, he would feel the nearness and he felt something deep and slow-burning on his soft-beating heart; then he would shove it all into the back of his mind, and the light would dim, and he would be frozen, counting the uneven beats of his heart until the strange sensation of closeness faded, and his resistance dropped away, and the light drifted softly into place again, dancing with darkness.
It made him angry, somewhere deep in the cavity of his chest. What right had the boy to be so near to him? What right had the boy to draw him into this unknown? What right had the boy, to come and go, near and far, as he pleased, without regard? What right?
None at all.
He pressed away distress as it swelled once again, concern mingling with it. The feeling had steadily grown with the passage of time, tracing lightly in his veins. He was unmoved. It mattered nothing to him.
But the feeling did not seem reaching - not distant, as the others had. It was the strange sensation of a blade's edge lightly tracing across the inside of his vein, leaving no wound but still a sting in path. Curiosity pressed on his mind - his brow furrowed as he halted in the shadowy hall. The light glimmered in the corner of his eyes. The darkness slid beneath the gleaming highlights.
He blinked slowly at his path as the distress dimmed and embarrassment that went unheeded settled on the back of his neck, and began walking again, the curiosity guiding his steps. Darkness swirled eagerly after him, the light soft and guiding.
Anxiousness crawled slowly beneath his skin as he turned left, stepping up onto the stairway before him, one that went up five steps and down eight, then to a right turn. He paused at the left turn, gazing at the broad platform spread before him, many choices of doors and stairs to enter the labyrinth to his left and right. But the focus of his gaze was the dark, near-black door opposite him, surrounded by coils of darkness.
A surge of fear dropped him to his knees and curiosity fell away from his mind, his heart suddenly lodged in his throat.
His pulse thudded in place of the distant heartbeat that had been there before; the boy's trembling horror encompassed his skin and contracted, a harsh pressure that forced the air out of his lungs. He felt his voice gurgle in his throat at the feeling.
The half-formed thoughts passed too quickly for him to grasp onto; only fear remained. The shadows surged, blazing, through him, as his heart raced and his body trembled.
Darkness - soft, gentle darkness - curled around his arms and up to his body, calming. The panic-stricken fear suddenly seemed aware of the foreign thing, and its painful grip slowly loosened, dulling into the sensation of frost settled on his skin. He shuddered, lifting his eyes painfully as his vision cleared.
The darkness, foreboding and burning with rage, pressed out with ferocity. The light around him flickered and shifted, no longer still but now shifting, streaming along the highlights like a current. His mind steadied slowly, the darkness growing as the light slowed its sudden, chaotic motion.
Moments - undefined, infinite moments - passed by with jolts of suddenness, as if one would drag on and a billion would tick by at the same time. He tried to organize his mind, but the darkness coiled through it, his face twisted into a sneer and his eyes ablaze.
For the first time, as if by some inherent instinct, he reached.
Anzu was the first word he got, accompanied by protectiveness and panic and something he couldn't identify. Gun, danger, killpainhurtdie -
Light surged. The darkness hissed and he felt silent rage roar and claw desperately for vengeance.
The light flashed and faded and the darkness sneered and swirled within him.
Oxygen flooded his lungs, filled with fury and encroaching wrath. Shadow-lit crimson eyes took in the cold glint of metal at a glance. The darkness hissed for judgment as he noted the red mark on the boy's precious one's face.
"Those who manhandle my precious Anzu will suffer," he warned, his tone light and detached, though the darkness in his eyes gleamed with rage. The shadows warningly on him, and the sneering darkness checked itself.
He will suffer in due time.
"However, I like letting chance decide that." Feeling glass and weight in his hand, he set the bottle before the opponent. He chuckled. Such petty things. They matter nothing, for you will soon face eternal judgment, your deepest darkness... "I brought it, just as you wished." He slipped lightly into the seat across from the man.
"Hey, who said you could stay?" growled the man angrily.
"Hmm? I just thought you'd want a game partner." The darkness burned eagerly, the shadows prowling. "It's game time."
"A game?" The man was smirking with cruel amusement. "I guess I'm interested for now." He removed a cigarette from the packet formerly placed by the bottle, gripping it in his teeth while still smirking with pride. "In the past, I gambled non-stop."
He only smirked lightly. "However, it will be no ordinary game." The raging darkness sneered. Judgment will be passed... "It is a Yami no Game, a game where your life is at stake."
The other had not expected that, but grinned anyway. "Sounds like fun! What are the rules?"
"The rules...just one." Shadows curled readily around his fingertips as he lifted his hands demonstratively. "And that is, of these ten fingers, none are to move except the one that you choose. We each choose our own...and only that finger can be used." The darkness rested in wait, predatory and watchful. "So. Which finger do you choose?"
The opponent scoffed. "If that's the case, then of course it's the pointer finger - the finger used to pull the gun's trigger."
"Okay. Then I choose this finger." His dark eyes gleamed as he curled all his fingers but his right thumb with an ever-growing smirk. The other looked amused as he began pouring his drink from the bottle, the gun pointed steadily at its target. "After the game starts, you can do as you like, even pull the trigger. So..." The darkness roiled in him, demanding justice. Crimson eyes narrowed on his opponent's. "Let's go. Game start!"
The opponent laughed abruptly. "One second in and it's game over!" There was a soft clink of metal as the lighter in his hand flipped open, his right thumb the cause. The opponent glanced at it with faint surprise, as if seeing it for the first time. "Ah. That's right. It hasn't been lit yet." His expression was annoyance.
The shadows shivered over his skin as he reached out and sparked the flame with a flick of his thumb. The flame lapped at the end of the cigarette, setting it to embers. The criminal inhaled and exhaled briefly, satisfied. Darkness coiled eagerly in his fingertips.
"The lighter..." The opponent glanced at him. "You can have it back." His hand tilted and the metal slid smoothly down, landing flat on the back of the other's hand, the bottle still sideways in its grip.
Fear flickered in the man's eyes, and the darkness hissed and pulsed, insatiable.
"That's Russian Senowolf. Ninety percent alcohol." Fear faded into horror, and the darkness roared. He stood and slipped from the seat, looking at the opponent with cruel amusement.
The shadows jolted and pressed in on his chest cavity. He shuddered invisibly and pushed it away.
"I'd like to see you fire your gun," he chuckled. "The recoil would cause the lighter to fall." He looked at the helpless girl beside the man, the darkness softening. "Let's go, Anzu." He gripped her arm gently and guided her from her place, leading her gently beside him.
He grimly glanced at her blindfold, but did not touch it. He started away from the man, the darkness hissing with dissatisfaction while the shadows anxiously snaked across his skin.
There was a soft click as the gun was set down, another as the lighter was closed.
The shadows were overwhelmed by the roars of darkness. Justice.
"I knew you wouldn't be able to obey the rules."
Shadows and darkness surged around them, burning with pain and rage. Crimson eyes narrowed as he stared into the man's true self.
"The Yami no Game reveals the true nature of humans." The darkness prowled nearer to the man. "For rule breakers, it's destined to be a punishment game."
The embers of the criminal's cigarette flared. He growled and tossed it down. "You brat! How dare you feed me that!" He grabbed the gun.
"The Door to Darkness...has opened."
The criminal stared for a moment as the darkness lunged, then reeled, the gun firing. Greenish flames spread from the end, encompassing him and consuming him to burn forever - as far as his eyes saw, and his skin felt.
The darkness watched as it receded, wrath satisfied.
A heartbeat murmured in his ears.
Soft, light. Gentle. For a moment, as the shadows of confusion not his own swirled through his head, it was all he could hear. The darkness was calm, unresisting.
He opened his eyes. The walls glowed softly, the light warm and welcoming. Crimson gleamed as he stared at his surroundings.
The empty platform, darkness and shadows and light tracing the ground and walls and ceiling, seemed...different. He stood at the door from long before - How long...? - and stared across and the deeper darkness that shrouded the one opposite him.
The familiar heartbeat, synchronized with his own pulse, prompted his step forward.
His footsteps were muffled on the darkness, but the steady thud rang clearly as he walked to the door. Within a step of it, he paused.
Why am I doing this?
A shadow of emotion curled around his fingertips, and he did not push it away. He gazed at the door blankly, a tremor running through his hand. Slowly, the same hand pressed against the metal of the door, pulling it inward easily.
The darkness blazed in his wake as shadows clung to his heels.
The white room was open, glowing into the dim hall warmly. He stared, standing on the threshold. The room appeared unchanged at first glance.
His eyes flickered, almost automatically, to where there'd been shadows. The wall glowed bright - almost brighter than the rest. He frowned slowly.
But it was natural. Darkness cannot exist in light, nor light in darkness... he reminded himself again. Nor should, he realized as the white glow seemed to reach for him, stepping away, such purity be tainted...
The light could not reach him, so he stood still at the threshold of the dark door, gazing at the gentle, unnatural glow. A shadow coiled in his chest as the light pulsed softly.
He turned and stepped away, the door closing silently. The light shrank away from his path away from it. He did not look back.
Behind him, the darkness dimmed ever so slightly.
Russian Senowolf: seems to be nonexistent. I have no idea what the actual drink was and don't feel like checking the manga to see if it's in there. Russian Senowolf is what the subs translated it as, and the subs are generally reliable for S0, so I'd be very surprised if they got it very wrong, but I Googled it and nothing worthwhile came up (and if you Google it, you may or may not facepalm at one of the things that comes up - I sure did).
Mou hitori no ore: Forgot to do this in the first chapter. Means "other me" - it's the same as mou hitori no boku, used a la canon by Yuugi to refer to Y. Yuugi, but has a different word for "me." Ore is more arrogant or proud, whereas boku is meek. Both are masculine and informal ways to say "me." Mou hitori no [insert word here] means "[the] other [insert word here]," as you may have already deduced. Thank you, randomgirl, for pointing that out to me.
A/N: I'm so sorry about this chapter. The first section was done quickly, then I couldn't figure out how to continue to the next section, so I kind of spent a month or so trying to do that, THEN I finally sat down after a day that had already been REALLY long without a bunch of writing to add to it (and I mean that I almost fell asleep at 5:30 in the evening because I was so mentally drained), and wrote everything else. It took about three or four hours, I believe, not including editing.
So yeah. Not my best work, but my obsessive perfectionism is too tired to be dissatisfied.
Also, read thoroughly. My brain is on symbolism overload from writing this chapter. It's ridiculous. My head's going to explode if I pack anymore symbolism in.
Again, the dialogue is mostly - wait, scratch that for this chapter - entirely from the subs. I modified a few lines that didn't make grammatical sense and left in one or two because it seemed closer, in my mind, to how Y. Yuugi would speak, or because the translation actually made sense in an odd way.
Final note: this chapter is about the length I'd had the first chapter originally (3500 words-ish), but it was kind of hard chapter to write. I'm really enjoying this, though, since I have such little plotting to do and can pretty much go crazy with characterization, which is my speciality. The only downside to writing this is that I won't be able to write in Ryou (and Bakura, but S0 Bakura is freaking psychotic to make up for the lack of Y. Malik) until much later, and even then, only a bit. Poor guy never gets any screen time, even when he's the (host of the) final boss.
Now then...very tired. Hoping for positive feedback, and that this was enjoyable. To all my reviewers last chapter, thank you very much, particularly randomgirl, who's an anonymous reviewer, so I can't reply directly. Thank you for your thoughts, and I'm glad you enjoyed it!