Hey guys! Thanks for all the reviews for the prologue, I really appreciate it.

I, uh, I really had this chapter done like, yesterday... but by the time I thought about putting it up I was super tired. Sorry!

But here it is now. The OFFICIAL first chapter. I hope you guys enjoy!

I can't run anymore

I fall before you

Here I am

I have nothing left

Though I've tried to forget

You're all that I am

Take me home

I'm through fighting it

Broken... lifeless...

I give up

You're my only strength

Without you, I can't go on

Anymore... ever again...

~from "October" by Evanescence

"When do the Finals start, Yugi?" Kana asked excitedly, leafing eagerly through her friend's puzzle cards. "This is crazy!"

"A couple of days, I think," he answered, sitting there and allowing her to look at them. "I guess Kaiba really wants to make sure the only ones there are the absolute strongest in Battle City and Domino."

"I get that. Boy, I wish I could pound that fudgebag for beating me last year, but I, uh... kinda forgot to register myself for the tournament." She pouted, letting the cards fall back on the table for Yugi.

He chuckled, gathering them all up again and counting to make sure she hadn't dropped any on the ground. "You never even registered yourself as an official duelist in Domino," he pointed out. "What did you expect, Kana-chan?"

She smacked the table. "You know what? This is Kaiba's sick idea of payback, that's what it is. I challenged him so he's making the computers look like I screwed up so I can't open up a can of ass-whup on him. He's a dirty coward!"

"Kana-chan, there are only a few days left, I've got all my puzzle cards, and Joey's just got one more to go. Can't we just enjoy some peace for once?"


"You know. The little gaps between sentences when you're not making fun of Kaiba's oddly gravity-defying coat or wondering out loud how he and Mokuba can be related, or threatening to kick his you-know-what with a Kuriboh. You know his Blue Eyes probably eats those for breakfast."

"It can eat all mine and cough up a frickin' hairball, for all I care. Losing them would be worth it to see that pompous lizard of his choking on a batch of glorified Furbies. Irony, my friend... sweet, sweet irony."

Yugi shook his head. "Look, Joey said most of the gang's coming over in a few minutes - huh, he did say three, didn't he?" He glanced at his watch. "They're always late when Joey's with them. They should be here soon... they wanted to catch some movie at three-thirty. I haven't seen the previews for that one."

"Probably that new one about a samurai swordfish, knowing Joey. What an American. Really, they're amused by anything." She ducked down behind him and shook his shoulders, as she'd done when they were younger. "Hey hey! You're gonna beat Kaiba's candy ass, aren't you?"

"I, uh... I'll do my best."

She grinned and laughed in what sounded suspiciously like an evil manner, virtually making Yugi's entire body quiver as she did so. "Oh, Yugi, let me live gloriously through you! I want to know how it feels!"

"To beat Kaiba with a deck of cards."

"With a deck of cards, with a baseball bat, with a box of sharpened pencils. But we're going with the cards this time around. Why?" She pointed to the sky. "Fate decrees it."

"You've been reading Julius Caesar every night again, haven't you?"

"Hell yes, but that's not the point. Beware the Ides of March. And oh please, King of Games, kick that ass's ass and sent electricity jolting through meeeeee!"

"You're crazy. Why didn't I see this earlier?"

"Because you were busy sitting in the Time Out Corner for something I did. That was how I knew you were an awesome friend, you know. That was a test."

"I think I see the others," Yugi muttered, desperately wanting to change the subject. It probably hadn't been a test back then, but did it really matter? They were friends because of it, and that was all that mattered now.

"Oh, hey. You said 'most' of the gang. Who's MIA? Wait, no, let me guess-"

"Bakura," they both chorused.

"As usual." Kana rolled her eyes. "Sneaky little Brit." She crossed her arms. "You know where he is, don't you? Probably being psychologically tortured by that darker side of his. I swear, if I could go out and buy the boy a backbone, I would. He needs to stand up to that guy-"

"Hey! Yuge, Kana! How's it goin'?"

Obnoxious, also lovable. That was Joey.

"Hope you're not having too much fun without us!"

Eager but somewhat forced. Tristan. (Joey'd probably dragged him into the movie idea...)

"What time does that movie start?"

Preoccupied with planning. Téa.

Kana sat back in her chair, then stood up. "Hey guys. I'm bored and hungry, how about we go see that movie?"

"We got twenty minutes," Joey retorted. "Keep a lid on it."

"You and your Americanisms, Joseph Wheeler."

"Didn't we have this conversation, Kana? Joey, and nothin' else."

"Fine. Joe."

"Shut up."

Kana stuck her tongue out. "Why do we still have almost a half hour? Somebody didn't plan," she teased, wiggling her fingers at Joey.

"Yeah, I thought we could actually talk for a while, sue me."

"Consider yourself sued, dude. Mental trial. The judge rules in favor of me. I'll take seventy percent of that pack of gum in your pocket, then."

"Funny, I didn't think you wanted to sound like Kaiba."

"You shut your face, Joey. Compare me to that douchebag one more time, I swear I'll-"

"Help! Help! Please!"

Kana was the first to whirl around. When she did, she saw some dark-skinned guy with sandy blonde hair walking toward them, trying to support Bakura with one hand. The brown-eyed albino was obviously fading into unconsciousness, barely able to walk on his own, and the upper part of his arm was bleeding.

"Ryou!" She was fast, but the rest of the gang followed hot like hell on her heels. She reached the pair, and held out her hands lamely to help in some way. "Ryou, who did this? Huh? Whose ass am I kicking?"

"I-I just found him like this," the other boy stammered. "I don't... I don't know what happened. I thought he was just going to faint right here... y-you know him?"

"This is our friend Ryou." Kana carefully took the other boy's position, pressing her hand lightly against the Brit's chest and slinging his arm around her shoulders. As she did, she brushed fingers with the other boy and glanced up into his eyes, but didn't quite have the time to blush.

"Somebody should call a hospital or - or the police or something," the blonde suggested quietly, watching Kana lead her friend over to the table they'd been at. He followed her. "I think he's bleeding pretty badly."

"Understatement of the year." Kana tried to help Bakura sit down in a chair, but he was limp. "Ryou! Ryou, can you hear me?" She leaned down and blew on his forehead. "You need to sit down. We're going to get you to the hospital." She sat down next to him, and tried to keep him from falling over. She looked up at the rest of the group. "Somebody get a taxi, I think the boy's about to pass out. I'll take him."

"You can't go alone," Téa protested. "Neither of you are eighteen. They won't let you fill out any forms and without the forms they won't help him."

Kana shook her head. "Yugi, can you call your grandpa then? I can't tow an unconscious Ryou into the emergency room, they'll think I'm abusive."

Yugi nodded, pulling out his phone. "I'll go inside then, he won't be able to hear me over everything going on out here. Be right back."

Kana continued trying to sit her friend up like a puppet as Yugi left. The rest of the group went over to talk to the dark-skinned blonde, who looked shaken. The albino's head fell on her shoulder and he let out a groan.

She scowled and rested her head on top of his, stroking his shoulder and hair with the arm around his back. "That's you, isn't it?" she said lowly. "Don't lie to me. Ryou doesn't make that sound when he's in pain - he just whimpers."

He growled softly. "Don't ruin my plans, girl." It was the other voice, deeper and darker and far more dangerous. Normal Bakura was just a harmless cream puff, but his Yami was something to be reckoned with. "Nothing will happen to your precious friend as long as you don't meddle, which you seem so very fond of doing. And if you do, I'll sever those meddling hands and throw them to Anubis. Mark my word, I'll do it."

"You're a bastard," she hissed. "You know that? You son of a bitch, hiding behind Ryou's body. What did you do to him?"

"That's something you don't need to know, mortal. As long as you don't interfere with my plans, he shan't suffer more than necessary."

"And just what exactly are your plans?"

"Once more, you don't need to know."

She was close to snarling at him, but thought better of it and looked up at the others as he collapsed on her shoulder again. The rest of them were still talking to the blonde, and Yugi was walking out of the café building. "Is Gramps comin'?" she called, trying to support Bakura-or-his-dark-side.

"Luckily he was already out, but he doesn't have his car," he answered. "He has to walk, he says he'll be here in about five minutes."

"Good. He's going to pass out soon, seriously."

She glanced up at the other group, who were waving good-bye to the blonde boy. He was heading around the corner. Huh. Well, guess I missed that chance, she thought with a sigh. He'd probably think I was abrasive anyway. I thought all for the best...

"That guy's pretty cool," Joey commented as they all walked back over.

"He seems really nice," Téa added. "Why didn't you make a move, Kana?" She touched her friend's arm. "He was totally into you."

"I was a little concerned about Ryou not dying at that moment."

"Well, he was checking you out," Tristan contributed. "He said they don't have girls like you guys where he's from."

"Where is he from?" Kana asked rather nonchalantly - or at least she hoped that was how it came out - as she stroked Bakura's hair.

"Egypt, I think he said," Téa answered. "Wouldn't you just love to go there? It's so mysterious. And if it's full of guys like him, I'm game! But don't worry, Kana, I won't ask him out if you want to."

"I don't know," she muttered. "We'll probably never see him again anyway, so what's the point?"

"Ya nevah know," Joey told her, almost singing it out. "He's a duelist too, Kana."

"Yeah, well I'm not registered. So just leave it alone, Joseph."

"Take us straight to the hospital, please," Kana called up to the taxi driver as she helped Grandpa get Bakura in the back. "As fast as you can without breaking speed limits or bumping this guy's head around in his skull. He can't afford to lose any more brain cells."

"That wasn't very nice," Grandpa muttered, walking around to the other side to get in.

"Well, he deserves it - going and getting himself cut up." She climbed into her side and shut the door as Grandpa rolled the window down. She tried to keep Bakura up, but he was kinda half unconscious by that point. On the plus side, she hadn't heard from Yami Bakura since he'd bitched at her about keeping her nose out of his business, so he'd probably slipped Bakura's soul back into his own body.

She leaned over. "So guys, I guess it's safe to say I won't be going to see that movie with you," she said. "But tell me how it was. I'll catch up later, maybe tomorrow we can do something else together."

She fell back against the seat, putting her hand over Bakura's. "You'll be fine, Ryou, I promise."

He shifted, and she could see his eyes open just barely, she could hardly see the brown orbs. "W... What...?" That was the only thing he said before whining softly and slumping over against her.

"I'm sure he'll be fine soon," Grandpa was saying. "The doctors should fix him right up. I'll send Kana back when he's got a room, okay?"

"Bye guys." Yugi didn't even have to duck down to look in the window. "Kana-chan, if Bakura wakes up, tell him we hope he feels better soon."

"Can do, Yugi." She sat back, crossing her legs and pulling her friend closer in to her. She then faced the driver. "Drive."

Well. I think that was a rather crackerjack job, if I say so meself.

Reviews are very much appreciated. Thanks for reading! ^^