Xo: Oh my god, you guys. I did it. I actually finished this story! I can't believe it. Oh wow. Oh WOW.
So many good things are happening right now- I'm applying to college, my trainer is trying to get custody of the horse I ride so that he can become officially mine, and I have a metric butt-load of kick-ass friends who make me really happy. I'm going to go cry over a cup of hot coffee now~
Warnings: All the FEELS.
Amaris the Dark Mage: Does this last chapter count as like, the ultimate cliff hanger forever?
winged sapphire wolf: You have to tell me about your college! Where are you going? What are you studying? I'm applying to college right now! I promise I'll start a new story after this one. And there are more short stories coming!
vocaliodlover16: My sentiments exactly!
Shadow-Magician of Black Chaos: I know, right?! Here we are! I started this story over a year ago!
Ariana: Here is your final chapter and all the good stuff gets to happen! Woohoo! I'm going to second you on that needing a break thing! College applications are actually the worst thing ever, though I did write some seriously bomb essays for my Stanford Supplement. How was the movie they made you watch?
The sweetheart: I'm going to miss it a whole lot, too. :( This has been my baby for over a year!
TexasDreamer01: Dude, who likes spiders? They have way too many legs for it to be natural! I mean, seriously! Hopefully Atem explains himself here. :)
Skye Guardian: I really wanted the ending to reflect the personal growth in both of them- I had some issues with the ending of the original book. :-/ I also love a strong Yugi who doesn't take anyone's BS.
CutePiglet: Just FYI, I love stalking your Tumblr. I've got a problem. :P I totally adore the strong Yugi! I'm so glad that I reflected him correctly!
Zozosisi159: I'm going to answer your question in the follow-up reading guide. :) Yugi and Atem are having their serious up and downs throughout this story. I think they both take turns being buttfaces!
Honeybee: Here's to Atem's return!
AkuZeku: I'm just going to start out by saying that your review pretty much made my day. :D I'm already all emotional from finally ending this story and then BAM, I just get this hilariously awesome review from you! Kudos, you're freaking fabulous. I can't begin to describe how happy I am! Where are you going to school? I'm applying to college right now! It's a damn hectic process! I can't believe you read this beast in only a few days! That's really impressive. Your English is stunning, by the way. It's not an easy to learn and yours is really impressive and articulate. :] I am glad that you've enjoyed the story, I really can't believe it's finally ending. It's been a long time and a lot of work since I first started!
The smell of desert sand is quite different from the smell and sound of the city. I could get used to the dust storms and the hot dusk winds that blow through the college campus each night. I could get used to the bloody reds painted across the sky by the sun's paintbrush. In short, I love it here in Egypt.
The university decided not to stick with me a roommate because of my worldwide fame as the King of Games. I guess being famous does have its advantages sometimes. My family was angry when I decided to come here but I feel like a great weight has been removed from my shoulders. Mai is happy in America and I am free of the terror that is my family. Now it's my turn to find happiness. Egypt is the perfect place for a fresh start, don't you think?
I've been here in Egypt for a couple of months. Every minute has been worth the struggle to get here. I'm studying history, archeology, hieroglyphics, religion, everything I've always wanted to immerse myself in. There's not a moment where I'm not busy. It's the best feeling in the world to be buried in things you can't help but love.
I still have Atem's bandanna and the pictures of us from the dance club. I don't keep them because I can't exist without him, but instead because they serve as a reminder that I've grown since then. My memories of those days are bittersweet and I cling to them so that I don't revert to hiding again. Regardless, I am happier now than I have ever been.
Life moves on. I refuse to leave myself behind.
A letter sits open on my desk. It's from the new Egyptian government, requesting that I attend and host the first Duel Monsters Tournament in Egypt since Atem's return. He didn't write or sign the letter, but I know he had a part in it. I'm honored to have been asked. It's a chance I wouldn't miss!
Now I'm standing in the middle of a crowded tourney hall with millions of eyes focused on me. Once upon a time, this would scare the crap out of me. But now, I see all these people I've never met as friends. I stand looking back at them without a single worry in the world. I'm in my zone, the place where I know the world is mine to rock.
"Welcome, everyone, to Egypt's first tournament of the year!" My voice echoes through the microphone clipping to my dark blue leather jacket. "Please join me in honoring Egypt in all her glory. She's been through war and is ready to open the floodgates of an incredible future. My many thanks go out to all of you for coming here to support us today. My name is Yugi Mutuo, and I am the King of Games!"
A huge cheer follows my words. It's deafening to hear them chant my name and for a moment, I lose myself in the unity. My heart soars with the voices of the crowd.
Then silence falls as suddens as a dust storm might overtake the desert paths. Everyone is looking behind me, their eyes glittering and wide with shock. I pivot, and freeze.
"Thank you, Yugi, for your kindness in coming here today as our champion." I could never forget that baritone voice.
"Of course." I manage to choke out the words. I am so not letting him turn my life upsidown in front of millions of people. That is what I like to call a major bitch move.
"We're honored to have you here in Egypt." He smiles. Crimson eyes crinkle at the edges and the best I can do is try not to stare. He's filled out in the months I haven't seen him. He stands tall and proud as if he hadn't been beaten within inches of his life and I can barely tell that he's still favoring his left side.
Oh, Ra. If he was beautiful before, I'm not sure what he is now.
"Why are you here?" I whisper quietly enough that the microphone doesn't pick it up.
He smirks. "I'm here to welcome the King of Games." He turns to the crowd. "Thank you for joining me here today!" He extends his hand and I move immediately to take it. He raises our joined hands to the sky. "Let the games begin!"
His stage presence is amazing. All eyes are on him, taking in his regal ability to charm a crowd. Incredible.
The screams of the crowd wash out whatever words I could have thrown at Atem. Words like betrayal, hate, and love all get lost in the sound as he and I exit the state and the first rounds begin to organize. Atem and I stand facing each other for the first time in over half a year below the tents lining the stadium.
"You've done a good job." I say carefully. "Egypt is everything I thought she would be."
"I'm glad you're happy here." He ventures. We stare at each other awkwardly for a second.
I take a moment to really look at the man before me. We've both grown up some, haven't we? He's the Pharaoh, or president, or whatever they have these days. I try to avoid reading the about politics because I know I can't resist but see his face in the magazines. I know everyone is aware of what happened between us. That's what you get when you're famous and everyone is watching. Complete strangers used to walk up to me and express their sorrow that I lost someone so dear to me. I stopped dueling entirely for months. This is my first time back in ring in a long time.
How funny is it that I would see Atem again? It never even hit me that he might show up to something like this. I think I might've just been ignoring the possibility. Only I could be so innocently dense.
"Yugi." He says, reaching out and catching both my hands, stopping me from getting away. "Yugi, please." His eyes are soft all the sudden, as if even he is tongue-tied. Reality burns up my spine like fire. I know what he's going to say. "I realized I had so much to fix once I got here. I had to turn my whole life around. When you agreed to host this tournament, I couldn't bear to not see you." He's intense and dark, just like the first time I saw him in the Obelisk parking lot. It's another lifetime ago. I can barely remember the person I was back then.
"I can't push you away anymore, Yugi. I need you like I need the desert sun to sear the sands each day. I couldn't forget those moments we were together. You once said you loved me and I have to know if somewhere, buried in your heart, if you still do."
My jaw must be on the floor. I don't know what to say and I can't control my mouth. "Atem, there's nothing that could stop me from loving you."
We stand there staring at each other, hands trapped. Pale and tan skin mix like milk and coffee.
And then we both start laughing. Laughing until tears are staining the dust below our feet and until we can barely stand. Clinging to each other, I realize how right this feels.
Is it not our purpose to forgive?
"You own the soul of a pharaoh, Yugi. It's yours to keep even if you don't want it." He whispers in my ear, his arms wrapped tightly around me as if I might just slip away.
I wrap my fingers into his hair and pull him down to my level, "Does this mean I can blackmail you?", I ask as I kiss him.
Against my lips, I feel him mutter some answer.
I love you.
And all around us, the crowd cheers.