Disclaimer: Not mine. The end.

This would lie in the world of almost canon...meaning I could see this happening between dub episodes 23 and 24, though I'm aware it might not have been that much time in reality.

Comments are always welcome.


By, Nicole Silverwolf

When did it get so late?

Why does it still feel like everything just fell down around us a second ago?

But the moon's out now and we've been sitting around this excuse for a fire for at least an hour or so. And by me I mean Tristan, Bakura and me.

Tea's hiding in the tent. She won't come out. I know she's been crying. I know she feels like she's responsible. Even though she's really not.


Yugi's been sitting on the ledge about fifty yards away. Away from the light and warmth of the fire but most importantly away from all of us.

No one's tried to talk to him.

I mean what exactly do you say. It's not everyday one of your best friends admits he's been housing some sorta ancient spirit in him that tried to kill Seto Kaiba. And that he's been hiding it from all of us, apparently since he got the puzzle together.

And of course, now that I look back on all the times I saw him playing Duel Monsters, it's easy to pick out things that just weren't "Yugi" for lack of a better word. A shift in the way he'd stand, the cadence of his voice, the way his eyes always had that slight bit of shadow to them, a severe-ness too subtle to ignore and too big to pass off as imagination. Those were the little things...but there was always that jump in confidence and the brashness that bordered on being cruel, something I would never and will never associate with that little kid who defended me and Tristan from that bully all those weeks ago. Hindsight's always 20/20.

A part of me, the big part that would do anything to get that prize money for my sister (including jump over the side of a cruise ship), is angry that Yugi didn't let...whoever it is inside of him finish that creep Kaiba off.

And then there's the other part of me.

Everyone thinks I don't know my limits. I do. I just choose to test them a bit less cautiously than others.

But I know this.

Right now, I don't have what it takes to win this tournament for the prize money, or for Yugi's grandpa. It's not me being hard on myself or having low self-esteem. I just know I don't. I haven't played enough games, learned enough strategies, or learned when not to get hot headed about my moves.

We need Yugi. We need him to play.

And I guess in a way we need whoever's inside that upside down pyramid of his to help too.

I can understand that Kaiba was desperate. If it was my sister on the line and I was back against the wall like that, maybe I woulda done the same thing. Much as I like to think I'd be more honorable than that.

Someone's soul...or a fairly played game.

I just don't know. When you look at it like that, Duel Monsters and all the little childish things we bicker about seem kinda not important.

And that's why I can't really fault Yugi either. I mean, he was up there and he knew he'd won. One fell swoop, the match would be over, and he'd be on the threshold of getting one of the most important people in his life back. And I know he'd find some way to include Mokuba's soul and the money for my sister into the final battle. Yugi's just like that I guess.

All he had to do was kill the guy who'd done nothing but try to kill and beat him, who had rigged the duel so it would seem impossible to win, and who proved he would never show any kind of mercy to him.

All he had to do was kill Seto Kaiba. All he had to do was have the Celtic Guardian destroy one of those damaged heads.

Maybe that was how that other part of Yugi saw it. Not as life and death, but win and lose. Maybe he was just so focused on the game that he couldn't see or care what was going to be the result of that defeat. And then it hits me. Maybe he made a mistake.

I'd like to chalk it up to another one of my dimmer moments of intelligence but there's a real reason why I never thought of that before.

I look up to the Yugi who's such a good duelist. Whether that be the real Yugi or that other spirit or some weird combination of the two I don't really care. I might treat him and think of him as the little brother I never had but when it came to this game, he was always above me.

It's hard to think that even he could make mistakes like that. Big ones. That determined whether people lived or died.

It made him, and whoever's inside him a little more human. Maybe that's not such a bad thing.

We were lucky tonight. We actually had enough food to eat, though no one's hungry. It gave me an excuse to go talk to him though. He probably needs a friend now.

"Joey?" Bakura's soft voice always manages to sound like he's almost terrified.

"I'll be back," I assure them and walk off, trying to seem like I'm not heading towards Yugi. I prefer to be subtler but my methods apparently make me anything but.

It's cold out here, past where the fires heat spreads. The wind isn't helping much either. I'm shivering. Can't imagine what that little shrimp of a kid is feeling like. He's probably bordering on the hypothermia level.

Sometimes I forget about how small Yugi is compared to the rest of us. He's just as tough if not tougher than all of us. He's had to work twice as hard to get the recognition he deserves.

But this.

This might've just been past his breaking point.

He's sitting curled up into a ball so small it's a wonder he hasn't broke or punctured something internally. Knees drawn up to his chest, the puzzle somewhere at his side--I don't know where, and his arms wrapped tightly around his knees. The knuckles in his fingers were white from the strain of clenching the blue material so tightly. He's got his face half hidden in his arms and it's facing away from me.

He knows I'm there but he doesn't turn his head. Did I forget to mention he can be twice as stubborn as all of us when he wants to be? Apparently this is one of those times.

"Mind if I sit Yug?"

No reply.

"I'll take that as a yes, I guess." I sit down next to him, Indian style and try to crane my head around to get a look at his face. I'm worried about him. He's not like this; he wasn't like this even when he lost Exodia and what we thought was the only way to win this duel.

"You ok?" I know it's a stupid question. Of course he's not...but I don't really know what else to say.

"No." The reply is barely audible and drenched in shed tears, melodramatic as that sounds.

Well at least I've got an answer.

"C'mon back to the fire. It's freezing out here and you're probably starving. I swear Tristan didn't char any of it this time!"

He didn't react to that either. I guess it's time to get down to the point of this then. He said he'd never play Duel Monsters again. He can't give up though. He's the only one who can get his grandfather back. We need him to get over this, and fast before we lose our opportunity to get back in the running.

"You know Yugi, you can't give up yet. Mai's still on the island. You can duel her for the chips you need to get in and..."

"Go away Joey. I don't wanna talk about it." His voice is curt but strong and barely wavers this time. It's not mean sounding either, not really. Tired is probably closer to a better description.

Now I'm really worried.


"Just go away Joey. Please." The way he says that last word...it's so much worse than if he was yelling and screaming and throwing things. Instead he just tightened his grip on himself and curled in a little bit more and begged me to leave him alone.

Mutoh Yugi never begs.

I want to stop him and make him understand, but I also know when to push and when not to. Now's probably not the time to do either.

I get up and turn to head back towards the camp.

"Y'know Yugi. We all make mistakes. Maybe I make a few more than you do. But you make mistakes. And maybe whoever it is that's inside that puzzle makes them too. You did the right thing, so in a way you helped cancel his mistake. Just a thought."

He doesn't respond and I didn't think he would. I walk back slowly and I check over my shoulders a few times to watch him in the weak moonlight.

I don't know if anything is gonna be enough to bring him back to who he was. Maybe something like this makes it impossible to go back. It doesn't matter though.

Cuz in the end, I'll still consider him one of my best friends. At the end of the day, I know that's enough.


Sooooo what do you think? Flames, comments, praise...anything you'd like to throw at me? Please do so now.

Thanks for reading.