Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh or any of the characters/items you recognize from it.
A/N: This is my first YGO story, even though YY/Y has been my OTP for years now. It is AU (obviously) and one small change has been made: Mariku existed in Ancient Egypt, and he was the owner of the Rod. Aside from that, please let me know what you think!
Over three thousand years ago, there lived a young Pharaoh, who ascended to the throne when his father was brutally murdered by his uncle. Although his uncle had hoped to kill the young Pharaoh and take his place, he was ultimately thwarted, and he eventually fled the palace and left those behind in peace. However, the battle to win against his uncle was long and difficult and took many resources, and so when his uncle was finally defeated, the young Pharaoh was left with a struggling country that was deeply unsure of his reign.
The Pharaoh was uncertain of what to do to win the confidence of his people, for he was young and had not expected to become Pharaoh so quickly; he had much to learn, and little time to do it in. He had hoped that the sacred Millennium Puzzle would aid him in his reign, but there was a secret concerning the puzzle that only those closest to the Pharaoh were aware of: the puzzle would not respond to him. Any attempts to use its magic left him empty and unconscious on the floor. That was one of the reasons that the battle against his uncle had dragged on for as long as it had.
One day not long after he had again attempted to use the puzzle, one of the Pharaoh's closest friends, a Priestess, came to visit him. Like the Pharaoh, she also possessed a Millennium Item, the Millennium Tauk. Unlike the Pharaoh, the Priestess had no problems with using her Item, which allowed her to receive visions of the near past and the future. The Priestess was widely revered and was always taken at her word, and the Pharaoh trusted her deeply and unquestioningly.
"Good evening, my Pharaoh," she spoke, bowing deeply.
"You may rise and enter, Priestess."
Having been bidden to do so, she did, which allowed the guards to take up their positions of protection near the door. Knowing that the two of them would not be distrubed, the Priestess knelt before her Pharaoh and spoke quietly. "My Pharaoh, after many hours of praying, I have received a vision. I believe it is a prophecy of sorts. It concerns three Millennium items – the puzzle, the rod, and the ring."
"Speak freely, Priestess," the Pharaoh urged. "I wish to hear of your vision."
The Priestess sat back on her heels and gazed at her Pharaoh. "The Millennium Tauk has shown me that the bearers of the Millennium Ring and the Millennium Rod possess the same problem that you do, my Pharaoh. All three of you are missing something vital that would allow you to access and use the full powers of your Millennium Items. As you are now, your souls are too dark to be able to handle the power of the Items. You would become corrupted and cruel, and eventually the Realm of Shadows would destroy you." She bowed her head slightly. "Were any of you to force the Items to respond to your summons, it would mean the destruction of the world."
The Pharaoh sat silently for a moment, chilled by the prospect. "Is that all you know?"
"There is more," she confirmed. "According to my vision, many years from now, our souls will be reborn. At that time, the people in possession of these three Millennium Items will be your lights; they will be your balance against the Realm of Shadows and eventual insanity. You will all be able to use your Millennium Items to the full extent with the help of your other halfs. Unfortunately, I sense also that a great evil will be present, and I know that you will need this power, but that is all that I have been shown, my Pharaoh."
"You have done well, Priestess," the Pharaoh said eventually, after some moments of contemplation. "What must be done in the mean time to control the Realm of Shadows?"
"My Millennium Tauk has shown me sacrifice, my Pharaoh," she said to the floor, tears forming in her deep blue eyes. "In order to find your lights, this is the path you must take."
"Then so it shall be done."
And within the cycle of the moon, all had been set into motion. The owners of the Millennium Ring and the Millennium Rod were willing to allow themselves to be included in the sacrifice if it meant that they would one day have full control of their items. The Pharaoh chose his dearest friend, his beloved cousin who would rule firmly but kindly, to take over the throne. Then it was done: three bodies and three souls sacrificed, so that they might one day find their other halfs, their lights, and be whole.
High school had never been Mutou Yuugi's favourite place, but that September afternoon, as he stood in front of Domino Academy and gazed up at the rather imposing building, he realized that he'd never been more tempted to skip in all of his life. Going to school was bad enough. Having to transfer to a new high school in your junior year, where you'd definitely be at the bottom of the pecking order, was just the icing on the tip of the cake. His only saving grace was that it was the first day of school for everyone, and even that wasn't much of a consolation.
Domino normally had three high schools. Domino High (which was the public school located in the middle of town), Domino Academy (an expensive private school on the right side of town), and Mori High (a relatively new public school that had opened on the outskirts of the left side of the town). However, over the summer, a fire had broken out at Domino High and destroyed over half of the school. It would be months, if not years, before the schoolboard had the money to be able to repair all of the damage that had been done. Most of the students had been relocated to Mori High. Those who lived too far away, like Yuugi, had been accepted to Domino Academy.
'This place looks really prestigious,' Yuugi thought nervously, glancing around at some of the students who were entering. Even though the students all wore the same uniform, he could tell that most of them came from far greater wealth. Like the girl who was holding an extremely expensive cell phone that he knew for a fact had only been released the day before and cost nearly 40,000 yen. Or the boy who was climbing out of a car that would have cost more than his grandfather's game shop made in a month. He just didn't belong – and those who didn't belong were often targets for those who did.
Just as that thought went through his mind, a hand landed on his shoulder. Yuugi yelped and spun, eyes wide, only to see the startled brown eyes of his best friend staring back at him. He sighed and relaxed. "Ryou, you scared me."
"Sorry, Yuugi," Bakura Ryou apologized softly. "I thought you heard me when I called your name. I didn't realize you were so lost in thought."
"That's okay," Yuugi said with a cheerful smile. "I was just trying to work up the courage to go into the school." He didn't have to say anything more. Both he and Ryou had been targets for bullies in the past. Yuugi was short and small for his age; he was often been mistaken for a child by those who didn't get a good look at him. Ryou was also petite, though not to the extent of Yuugi, and slender, with somewhat feminine features. Both of them had unusual coloring and were fairly quiet, all of which had led to more than a few unpleasant encounters in elementary and middle school.
"It's alright. Malik will be here soon," Ryou said. He glanced at his watch. "You know Malik. Perpetually late. We can wait to go in until he gets here, if you like."
Yuugi smiled at the mention of their friend. Malik Ishtar could be as quiet as he and Ryou, but he also possessed a stubborn streak a mile wide that, combined with a sense of mischievousness that sometimes drove his sister to despair, often caused a lot of trouble. There was only one person who ever got the one-up on Malik, and he certainly wasn't a high school student. Ever since Malik had transferred to Domino High two years past and taken Yuugi and Ryou under his wing, neither of them had suffered a single wound or bruise. Bullies at Domino High knew better than to provoke Malik, who could be downright vicious when he felt one of his friends was being threatened.
All that was about to change. Yuugi had the feeling that the elite, spoiled students at Domino Academy might prove to be more than even Malik could handle, and the prospect had him spooked. There was no doubt in his mind that Malik would fight endlessly to protect his friends, but Yuugi had always held a deep-seated hatred for violence. He often worried that someday a fight was going to go too far, and that Malik would be the one who would pay for it. For that reason, he glanced up at Ryou and forced a smile.
"No, we'll be okay," he answered. "Malik might be a little while and I don't want us to be late on my first day. I know you hate that."
Ryou nodded and the two of them set off for the doors of the school. Yuugi felt a lot better having Ryou at his side as they went through the motions of starting at a new school. Getting their lockers, schedules and maps was a daunting process, but somehow, with one of his best friends, it didn't seem nearly as intimidating as it had when he was standing outside by himself. He was even happier when he discovered that he and Ryou were in the same class.
It wasn't very difficult to find the right room, as the school secretary had given them excellent directions. Class hadn't started yet, so Yuugi and Ryou were able to find a spot and sit down without saying anything to anyone. A few students turned and looked at them curiously, but no one seemed willing to approach them. Yuugi ignored the other students and busied himself with putting his bag on the back of his chair and getting out a pencil and a notebook. He didn't like math very much, a fact that Ryou had always found amusing, considering some of the calculations Yuugi had to do to play certain games. Speaking of which...
"How are you fairing with it?" he asked in a low voice, propping his chin on his hand. "You mentioned you were finally making good progress."
"It's hard," Yuugi admitted, knowing instantly what his friend was referring to. His hand gently patted his bag. "When Jii-chan gave it to me a couple of years ago, I figured it would be easy to put together, even though he warned me that no one has done it in three thousand years. And he was right. Still, I like a good challenge." His violet eyes gleamed with excitement. "I'm about a quarter of the way there. I'm going slowly so as not to mess it up."
"That's awesome!" Ryou exclaimed. He truly admired Yuugi's tenacity, because he wasn't sure he would have had the determination to try and solve one puzzle for that long. "Maybe you'll be able to solve it soon. Have you figured out what the symbols on the side mean?"
Yuugi shook his head. "The light who solves this puzzle will find absolution in the dark," he quoted and shrugged. "Jii-chan hasn't got a clue, either."
"Hmm..." Closing his eyes, Ryou mulled the riddle over. But he was no closer to an answer than he had been the last time Yuugi had mentioned it. What was the light, and what did absolution in the dark mean? "I don't know what to tell you," he said at last.
"Don't worry about it too much," said Yuugi, shrugging. "Maybe you're not supposed to know what it means unless you can solve the puzzle."
Ryou nodded and leaned back in his chair. "I got a call from my father," he said quietly, finally bringing up the topic that had been bothering him the whole way to school. "He wanted to wish me an early happy birthday and let me know that a package was coming in the mail for me."
"That was kind of him," Yuugi offered after a beat of silence. Ryou's father was one of those touchy subjects that the trio rarely discussed. After the death of Ryou's mother and younger sister when the boy was only eleven, Bakura Osamu had thrown himself into his work as an archaeologist, and as a result, Ryou rarely saw him. He lived alone in an apartment paid for by his father. Yuugi could count on one hand the number of times that Bakura Osamu had visited his son, and he'd known Ryou since they were both about ten years old. The only contact that Ryou ususally had was a phone call once or twice a month, cheques in the mail, and the occasional package.
Their homeroom teacher chose that moment to walk into the room, silencing whatever Ryou had been about to say. She was an older woman who wore her hair pulled back into a bun, and it was easy to tell that she was a strict teacher by the way that the class fell quiet when she opened the door. Her heels clicked on the floor as she strode across the room to her desk, where she set her books down and turned to survey the class. One hand smoothed the pale pink skirt she was wearing as her eyes landed on Ryou and Yuugi.
"Good morning, class."
"Good morning, Miyamoto-sensei," the class recited back.
"I see we have two new students today," Miyamoto said, glancing down at one of the books on her desk. "I assume that you are Mutou Yuugi and Bakura Ryou?"
"Yes ma'am," Ryou answered politely.
Most of the class twisted in their seats, curious to see the new students that many of them hadn't noticed before. Several students gasped, and immediately soft whispers spread like wildfire throughout the group. Yuugi became increasingly uncomfortable at the many shocked expressions and shifted uneasily. He sent a confused glance in Ryou's direction, but his friend looked as bewildered as Yuugi felt. Why were they staring? It was true that both of them looked somewhat unusual, but he didn't think that they looked strange enough to warrant that level of scrutiny.
"We welcome you to our class, Bakura-san and Mutou-san," Miyamoto said. "If you have any problems following along, please do not hesitate to see me, alright? Now, let's begin with the homework I assigned last night. Sakai-san, Jouda-san, please come up to the board to demonstrate problems one and two from page fifty-five of your textbook."
Yuugi was relieved when most of the students reluctantly turned away in order to follow along. Yet, he was conscious of the fact that many of them kept sneaking glances at he and Ryou, as though they were fascinating spectacles instead of just new students. It was kind of embarrassing, and he knew that Ryou was feeling the same way, especially as the morning dragged on and none of their fellow classmates seemed to lose interest. Math turned to languages, and languages turned to science, and if anything, he and Ryou only seemed to become more interesting with every minute. When Miyamoto finally called for a break in the middle of science and left for the teacher's lounge, the room fairly exploded with whispers.
"Do you see?" one girl said excitedly. "They look just like Tenno-sama and Takahashi-sama!"
"No way," disagreed someone else. "Tenno-sama is way hotter than that shrimp."
Cheeks flaming, Yuugi bent over his paper and pretended that he so involved in copying down the last of the notes that he wasn't listening. But the loud conversations were impossible to ignore. Whoever Tenno and Takahashi were, their classmates appeared to think that he and Ryou bore a striking resemblance to them – though the general consensus seemed to be that neither of them were as "hot" as the aforementioned students. He made a careful mark on his page, trying to keep his pencil from shaking too much. This was exactly what he didn't want. Attention at school was always a bad thing.
"Yuugi, let's go and see if we can find Malik," suggested Ryou. He was biting his lip and tugging fiercely at a tendril of white hair.
"Sure, why not?" Yuugi agreed. He stood up and automatically picked up his bag. Not only did it hold his precious puzzle, but he wouldn't have dared leave it behind with the amount of curious looks they were getting. Ryou grabbed his bag and followed Yuugi to the door. Both of them were glad to close the door against the prying gazes of the other students.
"My goodness, what was that all about?" Ryou asked, relieved.
"I have no idea. I'm not sure I want to know," Yuugi told him. "Where do you think Malik would be?"
It was a silly question – Malik would be wherever the most trouble was – but at a new school, neither of them knew where that would be. Silently, Ryou pulled out his map and they bent over it, examining the blueprint of the enormous school. After a minute, by mutual agreement, Ryou folded his map and the two of them then headed towards the roof the school. Malik hated being in enclosed spaces, and loved being outdoors. He'd spent hours on the roof of Domino High, even though the area was technically off limits.
"This way." Clambering up the last few steps, Ryou moved out into bright sunlight that stung his eyes. He lifted his hand and shielded his face as he searched for Malik's distinctive golden hair.
"He's not here," Yuugi said finally, a bit disappointed. Unlike at Domino High, the roof seemed to be an acceptable place for students to go. There was a particularly large group of people down at the opposite end, but he didn't see Malik anywhere. "Maybe... he couldn't come today."
Ryou's brown eyes became even more shadowed, and he nodded without speaking. He and Yuugi found a quiet corner, where they both sat down with their backs to the wall. Yuugi pulled out the familiar golden box and withdrew a completed portion of the puzzle. Almost mechanically, his fingers glided over the remaining pieces and began drawing certain ones out, seeking the next special piece that would fit together just so. Ryou watched with interest for a few minutes before he closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall, feeling the stress of the day like a blanket around his shoulders.
When the bell rang to summon them back to class, neither made a move to go in.
Tenno Atemu (known to anyone who didn't want to be punched in the face as Yami) felt a shiver go down his spine. It was strong enough that he jostled the arm of one of his best friends, Takahashi Bakura, who looked at him with a raised eyebrow. Yami responded with a slight frown as he glanced up and around. He and his friends always spent their breaks on the roof, which had resulted in quite a gathering of students once the rest of the school had figured this out. Some of them returned his curious glance with shy smiles. Others scowled or glared. Overall, everything looked the way that it always did, with no indication for his bout of chills.
"What's wrong, Yami-san?" Mazaki Anzu leaned against his leg and gazed up at him. "Are you cold? I could run and get your jacket for you if you like."
"I'm fine," he said shortly, knowing that it was better to cut Anzu off at the pass. This time, he was ready for the chill, and he was able to control the shiver to the point that Anzu didn't seem to notice it.
"If you're sure," Anzu said, clearly disappointed.
"What's wrong?" Yamada Mariku asked, looking up from where he was whipping Bakura's ass at poker. "Is it...?"
Yami nodded, and both Bakura and Mariku went quiet, something that was quite unusual for them. The three of them exchanged serious looks. For the past few months, Yami had been able to sense that someone was finally making headway on the Millennium Puzzle. He could feel the puzzle calling to him as it was put together piece by piece, and each day that presence seemed to grow a little stronger. This was the first time that the puzzle had had such an effect on him, however, and he suppressed a third shiver. It felt... good.
"I think it's close," he told them.
"If I had the Ring, I could find it," Bakura muttered, glaring down at the cards in his hands.
"Well, you don't," said Mariku, tossing his cards down. He stretched, slowly working the kinks out of his spine. "I think the Rod is close, but I'm not completely sure. The connections are still tenuous at best."
"It will remain that way until you find your light," said Yami with a sigh, reaffirming what all three of them had been told all of their lives. He readjusted his position on the wall, sliding closer to Bakura and out of Anzu's reach. She was a nice girl, but her clinginess got on his nerves.
Mariku pouted. "It's always been just out of reach."
"That's the way it's supposed to be, idiot," Bakura grumbled, gathering the cards together.
Yami rolled his eyes as the two of them descended into an argument. The five of them were the closest of friends, but sometimes they really drove him crazy. He glanced at Seto, watching as the taller boy reached out and wound a possessive arm around the shoulders of one Jounouchi Katsuya. Jealousy welled up inside of him. According to what he had been told, because Seto had found Jou, he didn't need to concern himself with a Millennium Item. As the reincarnation of a powerful mage, his powers were strong enough without the use of an Item as long as he had Jou to fall back on.
"Let's just hope this ends soon," he said finally, ignoring Bakura and Mariku as the former drew forth a knife. He was getting pretty tired of having the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Please review! This is my first YGO story, so I'd really like to know what you thought.