Title: Off the Clock
Rating: K
Summary: If the tournament started at noon and our heroes said goodbye at sunset, what did they do for all that time in between?
Genre: Friendship
Words: 1918

A/N: Soo… according to the gigantic clock in the Bonds Beyond Time movie, I noticed that the tournament Pegasus is supposed to arrive at started at noon. The three-on-one duel took place roughly from 11:30am to 12pm. And yet, at the end of the movie, our three main guys are standing on a roof when the sun is setting. So unless they decided to travel forward in time for whatever reason, what the hell did they do for six or seven hours?

The movie is supposed to be canon-compliant, occurring for Yuusei right before the Crash Town arc and for Juudai after he leaves Duel Academy, but it never really says when it happens for Yuugi in the DM timeline. There are duel disks, so I assume it's post-Battle City, but Pegasus also has the Millennium Eye, which makes no sense. So I just assumed it's after Yuugi won the god cards but before Doma.

Off the Clock

It was like some sort of alternate, supernatural universe.

Yuugi Mutou, Maximillion Pegasus, Domino City in its former glory — Dark Magician and the original Kuriboh and Dark Magician Girl and Yuugi Mutou — were all the stuff of legends. It was as if one of Aki's history textbooks from school had suddenly dumped all of the information from its pages out into the world and he was somehow seeing it here, all at once, not as a back then or a used to be but as a this is here, this is right now.

He wasn't just seeing it. He'd played a game of Duel Monsters with a man from the future, he'd saved the world, he'd gotten his and other great duelists' cards back, and he'd made friends the King of Games himself.

And Yuugi had let him hold the god cards. He'd actually let him touch them.

"This is the greatest moment of my life," Juudai was saying, seated at the white plastic picnic table they'd claimed as Yuusei checked out a booth selling the most recent cards (at the current time, at least). If he thought it was strange seeing monsters he'd grown up with his whole life being sold at prices that weren't outrageously absurd for even the biggest Duel Monsters merchandise fan, it was even stranger seeing the man who created the game itself, alive and kicking, auction them off as the newest material twenty meters away. "No, seriously, this is amazing. I can't believe I'm actually holding Obelisk the Tormentor."

"It belonged to Kaiba before it belonged to me," Yuugi was saying sheepishly. He was sitting next to Juudai and munching on a pretzel — he hadn't had any lunch before coming to the tournament, he had apologized, and would they mind terribly if he ate something while they walked around and chatted? Yuusei didn't mind at all, and Juudai, of course, wouldn't mind if Yuugi decided to sit on his face and autograph his left shoelace.

Yuusei had come to the decision that the concept of celebrities as people in comparison to their profiles in the worldwide media was just strange by definition. He was inspecting a XYZ Dragon Cannon card (signed by Seto Kaiba himself, God, this was so surreal) and felt as if he should be wearing rubber gloves and the card should be protected by bubble for him to be allowed to even breathe the same air the flimsy piece of cardboard. Pegasus was being rather open and loud about everything he'd accomplished, speaking into a microphone across the plaza. And Yuugi was so grateful and embarrassed when he wasn't boasting out attacks and coming up with sudden inspirational pep talks on the dueling field. Seto Kaiba had made a two-second appearance half an hour ago in which he had strolled in, said a few challenging words about the world of dueling into the microphone, signed a few predetermined cards for raffle winners, and walked out without taking a single picture or signing an autograph for a fan.

It was like being there for the moment when Shakespeare decided to sit down and write his first play. Or sailing with Christopher Columbus as he made his voyage across the Atlantic. Or something.

"That's right, this is the one Kaiba got first 'cause Ishizu Ishtar gave it to him," Juudai was saying. "I remember, I learned this in school — she gave it to him so he'd start the Battle City tournament to lure the Rare Hunters out with the other God Cards, right?"

"Er — yeah, that's right," Yuugi said, looking a bit surprised. "You learned about this in school? At that Duel Academy place you mentioned?"

"Yeah, I'm an Osiris Red," Juudai said proudly. "That's what my jacket's for; it says which class I'm in."


"Well, there are three dormitories at Duel Academy." Juudai looked positively ecstatic to be talking to his idol about his life as a duelist. After a lifetime of looking up to the guy, Yuusei could hardly blame him. "There's Obelisk Blue, the best one, Ra Yellow, the middle, and Osiris Red, which is the lowe — well, okay, technically it's the lowest dorm and it gets this awful rep but we're really not that bad at dueling, most of us are kind of lazy or just getting started, you know?"

"I suppose," Yuugi said, smiling wryly. "When was — or when will this school be made, then? I haven't heard of anything quite like it before."

"Well it had opened a while before I got there," Juudai said. "Not sure on the specific year but it was sometime after Kaiba got back from Egypt with — "

Yuusei wasn't all that knowledgeable about time-traveling, but he did know that big problems would probably come up if people from later times went around telling people in the past what was going to happen in their futures. "The idea for Duel Academy was discussed after the popularity of Battle City attracted new duelists to the game, but it wouldn't be built for at least another four or five years," he said, interrupting Juudai before Yuugi found out something he shouldn't have. "Kaiba took a long time designing it."

"Kaiba designs it, does he?" Yuugi said, smirking as he raised an eyebrow. Yuusei blinked, a bit startled as he suddenly noticed a change — this was the Yuugi from the dueling field, the Yuugi that had shouted out his Dark Magician's attacks and arrogantly called out Paradox on his twisted plans. He'd heard of Yuugi Mutou's strange habit of switching "personalities" for his duels, but for it to happen so suddenly, so inconspicuously, was unnerving. "Of course… Does he come up with the dorm names, too?"

"Kaiba designed everything," Juudai said, nodding. He apparently didn't notice, or care, about the change his idol had suddenly made in front of him. "He lets us go on vacations to KaibaLand and we have classes in Traps and Monster Effects that he wrote the lesson plans for himself. We live in dorms and even though the Obelisks get the better housing, I get to live in a room with my best friends in Osiris, so it's not all bad."

"He gives the Obelisk students priority over the others?" Yuugi chuckled. "And Osiris students are pegged at the lowest ranking, apparently… I'd expected that he would mature in five years, but apparently not…"

Juudai blinked. "Huh? Kaiba chose the dorms because — oooh," he said suddenly, eyes widening. "Obelisk was the God Card he got, so I'll bet it was his favorite…"

"Osiris was the first God Card you won, right?" Yuusei asked Yuugi, who reached down to his waist and pulled out the other two dragons. He placed Osiris and Ra on the plastic table and nodded.

"It was also the God Card I used to defeat Kaiba with, so I'm not surprised he has a vendetta against it." Yuugi smirked again. "Almost predictable, in a way."

Juudai gently — almost reverently — placed Obelisk next to the other cards on the table. And there they lay, holographic and legendary and simply there, the cards every duelist would give his duel disk and a right arm for, displayed to the two of them by the King of Games like it was the most normal thing in the world.

Still surreal.

"What about you, Yuusei?" Yuugi suddenly asked him, and suddenly it was the Yuugi from before, the one they had met on the roof and convinced into joining their fight. The one from all the pictures and posters… "Any big things going on in your time?"

Yuusei immediately thought about New Domino City — the Zero Reverse Incident and the slums of the Satellite. The prejudice, the Dark Signers, Rex Goodwin. "Nothing comes to mind."

"Oh. Well." Yuugi glanced down at the wrappings from his pretzel. He crumpled them up and took the God Cards back, placing them into their holder at his waist. "I'm gonna go find a trashcan for this," he said, holding up the wrappers. "Be right back."

Yuusei watched him go, biting his tongue, and sighed. Looking around for something to distract himself with as well, he found Juudai looking at him strangely. "What?"

"Nothing," Juudai said, "sorry. You just look kind of upset."

"Do I?"

"Well — not upset. Just worried. Something on your mind?" Juudai shifted over in his seat, making way for Yuusei on the bench.

He took the seat gratefully, stretching his legs under the table. "It's nothing. It's just a bit strange, being here."

"Tell me about it. Half an hour ago I ran into Jounouchi Katsuya and Otogi Ryuuji watching kids duel over near the main platform. They were arguing about some girl named Shizuka." Juudai shook his head. "All of the people I was taught to look up to as a duelist are suddenly here — well, maybe not all of them — but they're all so normal, just hanging out and playing the game and stuff…"

Yuusei nodded, privately relived that he wasn't the only one feeling out of his element. "I'm scared of giving too much away about the future to Yuugi, though. Or to anyone." He glanced back at the booth he had been browsing before. "I was looking at all those cards I wanted to buy, but what if it was meant to be bought by Mai Kujaku or Ryota Kajiki or someone else later on? If I buy a card right now and bring it to my time with me it might somehow mess up everything."

"Thinking of selling it for a better price in the future?" Juudai asked, teasing. He laughed as Yuusei spluttered out an indignant and definite no. "Just kidding, dude. I get what you mean, though. It's like walking into a history book."

"Yeah, exactly. I feel like if I make one false move I could accidentally have the books rewritten."

Juudai blinked, then started laughing again. "But we almost had that happen, didn't we? With Paradox and all that. I think avoiding a major catastrophe is enough heroic history-preserving actions for one day."

"You don't think something else will happen?"

"Well, if your Spidey Senses start tingling or you see a Bat-Signal in the sky from your friends in the future, let me know. For now I'm gonna try to grab Pegasus's autograph before he disappears into his fancy mansion in a few years." Juudai stood, shaking the bench a bit, and looked out over the plaza. "Oh," he said, making a face, and Yuusei followed his gaze: Yuugi had been forced to make a detour on his way back to their table and was currently being detained by Pegasus himself, shaking hands with him for cameramen and interviewers with a line of children waiting next to the platform with pens and autograph books. Yuugi was looking rather overwhelmed, his face beet-red, and seemed to be stammering into a microphone about how nice the event was turning out to be or something similar in response to a reporter's prompt.

Yuusei was reminded of the awful time he'd had with the paparazzi after winning the Fortune Cup and grimaced.

"Ah," Juudai said, smiling, "Maybe we should go save him."

"From the cruelties of celebrity life?"

"From the horrors of being preoccupied with signing autographs for large group of little kids when he could be busy signing one for me," Juudai teased, grinning wider. He brushed his pants off. "You coming?"

Yuusei smiled, rose from the table, and followed him into the crowd.