Title: Whole Again
Summary: After he left, I knew I'd never stop waiting for him to come back. I thought, I want to be with you forever. I had no idea what I was wishing for.
Pairings: YYxY, RxB, MxM, mentioned SxJ
A/N: So... why did I write this story? Well, first of all, I think every YYxY shipper needs to write a "Yami returns" story at some point. I cried for a good hour during and after that last episode of YGO. It was heartbreaking! So this is my rebuttal, with a twist thrown in for good measure. I'm tired of those depressing "the yamis wander the Earth forever alone" stories and thought I'd change things up. This is the first story I've written in "present" tense. Enjoy!

Sometimes, when things get overwhelming and I'm a little annoyed, I go into our bedroom, lock the door, and look back on my life. I lie down on our bed and try to imagine what would have happened if things had changed. If I'd made different choices. What if I had actually moved on after Mou Hitori no Boku left me? What if I had married Anzu? Never moved in with Ryou? Sold the Kame Game Shop? I try so hard to dream about that kind of life, but I never get anywhere. The picture always freezes in my mind because it is just so wrong.

The day Ryou moves in with me is the day my friends think I've lost it for certain. I can see it in the doubtful looks they give me as they're helping to carry his things into the upstairs apartment over the Kame Game Shop. Jii-chan is gone for the day; he knew better than to stick around and suffer through the less than subtle questions tossed at me every so often from Anzu and, to a lesser extent, Jou. Honda, Shizuka, Otogi, and even Seto (though the latter two do more supervising than helping) seem content to trust my judgement. Or maybe they've given up on questioning me and the weird things I do, I don't know. I don't care.

For a while, I manage to dodge them by sticking to Ryou like glue. It's not that I don't want to explain. I do. I just can't. You can't explain the loss of half of your soul. You can't explain wanting to be with the one person who understands.

That's not what they want to hear, though. I can tell from the instant Anzu corners me in the kitchen.

"Okay, Yuugi, what's going on?" Anzu says, putting her hands on her hips. "You and Ryou-kun aren't that close. Why is he moving in with you? What happened to his house?"

"He decided to sell it," I say, looking up into her eyes. I hate the fact that she towers over me, but I've come to terms with the fact that it's never going to change. "Jii-chan and I had a spare bedroom. It just makes sense."

"So this was Jii-chan's idea." She looks satisfied now. A clear-cut answer. I don't know why it makes me so angry, but I have to bite back the urge to snap at her. Catching Jou's warning eye on me as he passes by the room helps. He told me once that I changed after he left. I told him that losing half of your soul will do that, and he never brought it up again.

"We're friends, Anzu. Why shouldn't we live together?" I ask. She sputters and has no answer for that, and it makes me smile. I already know why. Anzu and I never got together in high school, even though for a long time, it seemed like we would, and everyone expected us to. Honestly, neither of us has ever been able to get over him. Every time she looks at me, she sees him, and every time I look at her, I see nothing that I want. But that doesn't stop her from feeling like she has a claim on me.

"I think we're just about finished," Jou says, poking his head more fully into the room. "You want us to help you guys with the unpacking, Yuugi?"

"No, I think we're good," I say, taking the chance to escape Anzu's grasp by following him into the living room. Ryou is there with Shizuka and Seto. Our eyes meet, though we don't smile. "Thanks for the help."

"Yes, thank you," Ryou adds softly.

"Anytime," says Jou, looking between the two of us. "Anytime."

It really wasn't Jii-chan's idea to have Ryou to move in. Actually, I don't know whose idea it was. Mine, maybe. Or Ryou's. Both of us were desperately lonely after our other halves left. Ryou might have hated Bakura back then, but no matter how much you hate your other half, you still can't live without him. That was a pretty hard lesson for Malik to learn, too. I ended up being glad that Ryou moved in. It meant I wasn't quite so lonely when the inevitable happened and my grandfather passed away. If it hadn't been for Ryou, I might have gone ahead and joined them. Maybe I should have. He says I'm being melodramatic when I say that, and I usually respond by saying that he wasn't there, so how could he know? The pain in his eyes makes me feel guilty, then.

The shop is quiet. Too quiet. I sit at the counter and stare blankly at the door. It's locked and the sign is still turned to "Closed". If Jii-chan were here, he would be furious, since it's a Tuesday afternoon and school is letting out in just an hour. I don't care, though, because Jii-chan isn't here to get angry. We buried him exactly one week ago, on a beautiful spring morning. He died from a heart attack. Just too old, the doctor told me sympathetically. Just too old.

Quiet footsteps warn me that Ryou is approaching, but I don't turn to watch as he comes into the room. He's holding a broom, but I can tell that he's not really interested in sweeping. In the past year, he grew to love Jii-chan, too. They were close. I feel bad for him, but I don't know how to comfort either one of us. Will this circle of loss ever end?

"I don't know," Ryou says. I lift my head slowly, realizing that I must have spoken out loud. Either that or we've developed a mind link, too. Strange how I both dread and want that.

"Do you think he's at peace now?" I ask.

"I don't know that either."

We look at each other, our eyes meeting across the shop. Quiet desperation mirrored with quiet desperation. Violet and brown. Sounds almost poetic, but it wasn't. The reality of two separate halves trying to find some sort of comfort in each other is crueler than you could ever imagine.

"What do you want to do?" he asks finally.

It's my turn to say I don't know. He accepts that as an answer and finally starts sweeping, sliding the broom across the floor. It's pretty dusty in here. No one has swept since Jii-chan passed out while in the middle of doing his chores. Ryou's good at it. He takes his time and works his way across the floor, making sure to get the bristles inside and under every spot where dust might gather. I watch him for a long time, feeling a heavy pounding behind my eyes, before he speaks again.

"You want to keep the shop running."

Not a question, but I feel myself nod.

"I'll help you."

No arguments. No fighting. Just a connection. I think that's when I started loving him.

Don't get me wrong, now. I loved Ryou but Jou was always my best friend. He was good to me, even when things happened that were beyond his understanding. And believe me that happened a lot. To the point where I honestly started feeling bad for him. I'm sure that when he said we were friends on that day after I protected him and Honda from Ushio, he never imagined the things that we would go through together. Still, he bore it all with the kind of strength and courage that I could only dream about having. If it weren't for him, I might have made a different choice and refused to open my door, and where would I be then?

Even though I'd planned to go to university, I don't. Ryou doesn't, either. He has a part-time job as a waiter/cook at a nearby restaurant at night, and he helps out at the game shop on some days. I work for Kaiba Corp testing out video games during the day, and at the shop at night. Between the two of us, we bring in a tidy sum of money, enough to hire someone to help out at the shop when we can't be there. Seto pays me a lot to test out his stuff before he sends it out to consumers. I am, after all, the King of Games. Or one of them, at least.

The best thing about working for Seto is that he knows, even if there are times when he still likes to deny it. So on that day – the five year anniversary of that day, to be precise – when I just don't show up for work, I'm not in trouble. I actually think he's expecting it, since it happens every year like clockwork. After the second year, even Jou stopped freaking out and accepted it.

I don't even get out of bed. I just lay there, looking up at my skylight, and try not to remember. Sometime after four in the morning, my door opens and Ryou comes in. The bed is a little small for the two of us but we manage.

Our relationship is not sexual or intimate, if that's what you're thinking. It's not even really a relationship. I don't know what we are. Kindred spirits? There's only one person out there for either of us and they both left. It gives me comfort to know that someone suffers the same pain that I do. That's why I'm so annoyed when I hear someone pounding on the shop door downstairs. We're closed. We're always closed on this day. It's the day my other half left. The day we both remember most strongly what it was like to be whole.

So, like always, I say it. We say it together. Maybe somewhere in the world, Malik says it, too.

"I wish I could spend forever with him."

The banging doesn't stop. Ryou groans and pulls the covers up over his face. Except for that one phrase, he doesn't usually talk on this day, so it's up to me to answer the door. I roll off of the bed and wander downstairs, realizing that it's not the shop door, but our back door, which means it's one of our friends. I hope it's not Anzu. That first year, she was bound determined to get me out of bed, and she wouldn't stop until Jou made her leave me alone. I know it's unhealthy, okay? Just... Just give me one day out of the year to remember. To mourn. She stopped after that. Actually, she left, and she never looked back.

"Yuugi, open the door!" Jou shouts. "It's me."

I open the door. It's raining. Jou's golden blonde hair is matted against his head. I look at him blankly, barely noticing the other people who are gathered behind him. He looks me up and down and concern flickers in his amber eyes. I'm wearing a pair of boxers and a t-shirt and nothing else. Frankly, he's lucky I'm not naked.

"What?" I say. My voice is sharper than I intended, but I can't help it. All I want is to go back upstairs to Ryou and fall asleep. I usually dream about a world where he's there.

"You have visitors," Jou says, unperturbed by my attitude. He gently pushes me aside and leads them in. Six people in total. Shit. I'm less than impressed when I see Isis and Rishid, though my glare softens when I see Malik. Our eyes meet, and I can see it – the abject pain Ryou and I have been living in for the past five years. He's caught in it, too, and it disgusts him. That's why he never came to us. It took him a long time to come to terms with it.

Malik stayed with us after that, even when Isis and Rishid went back to Egypt. There was more than enough room with Jii-chan gone. I think that's why Isis had tried to put off coming. Even without her item, she knew. She hated leaving her brother behind, and I know she resented Ryou and me for being two of the reasons he wanted to stay. I'm pretty she sure never quite forgave us. Not that it bothered me. I never liked her, either. Ryou felt the same way, though he was more polite about it. I guess, like everyone else, we needed someone to blame, and she was it.

"Where's Ryou?" Jou asks, looking at me expectantly. He doesn't have to ask because he knows. "Can you get him?"

"Why?" I say, leaning against the counter. "I'm tired. Ryou's tired. I want to go back to bed. If Malik wants to come, he can. The rest of you, get out and come back tomorrow." I promise to be more human then. No, really. The other 364 days of the year, I'm still the hikari. It's just... not today.

Jou winces. He knows he's pushing my buttons. "This is important," he says.

I stare at him. The weight of my gaze makes him shift nervously. He doesn't know how to handle me when I'm like this. If it were any other day, I'd be nicer, but I haven't slept properly for the past week. I never do this time of the year. Jou turns helplessly to Isis and Malik and the cloaked figures and makes a little motion with his hands, like he's saying, "See?". I honestly don't know who they are and I don't really care. They remind me a little of Rare Hunters, but that's the least of my concerns.

"Yuugi," Malik says, rolling his eyes at Jou. "I'm sorry, but we had to come see you today. Ryou is upstairs, isn't he?" He sends a pointed look to the one dressed in black. The top of the cloak nods and then the person – a man, judging by the lack of curves – walks out of the room. I hear him mounting the stairs and frown. "It's alright," he adds, seeing my expression. "Really."

The last time someone tried to tell me it was alright was the day Jii-chan died. I think it was Honda. It was the first time I ever punched someone.

I must have made the same expression, because Jou edges away from me with a nervous look. "I think it's time to let him take over," he says from the safety of the other side of the table. "Go ahead."

One of the cloaked men walks into the living room and Malik and Jou gesture for me to follow. I sigh and do, if only to get them out of the house that much faster. I want to sit down on the couch, but instead I keep standing and look at him impatiently. If this turns out to be someone who wants the help of the King of Games, I swear, I'm going to hit both of them.

The man chuckles. "Such violent thoughts. I see you've changed very much, even though you look the same," he says.

That's when it hits me. Why Jou chose to intrude today. Why it couldn't wait. I don't do anything, though. I can't. I'm frozen in place as I watch him pull the top of the cloak down around his shoulders, revealing slightly tanned skin, wild tri-color hair, and blazing crimson eyes that are familiar and strange at the same time. His lips move, and I know he's speaking to me, but the world begins to blur, and then all I see is darkness.

You heard me. That's right. I fainted when I saw him again for the first time. It's humiliating to remember even now, and I still get teased by Bakura and Mariku sometimes. Not that I care. I had spent the last five years not daring to hope that he would ever come back to me. Believing that I would just have to live out the rest of my life, waiting for death and praying that the other half of my soul would be waiting for me. I'm glad I didn't know then what I know now. Had I known that the end would never have come, I probably would have killed myself, and then where would we have been?

I'm not sure when it occurs to me that something isn't quite right. Maybe it's at Jou's and Seto's wedding, when Anzu finds us seated at a table together. She looks us over and loudly proclaims that we haven't changed a bit. I try to hide my unease at her comment and accept her embrace, knowing that I haven't fooled the others. Or him. I can feel his eyes on me as I take Anzu out for a quick spin on the dance floor. He's curious about my feelings but willing to wait to ask.

"I can't believe Yami returned," Anzu says, her hands resting lightly on my shoulders. I notice that there's a ring on her hand in a special place. "Or is it Atemu now?"

"He still goes by Yami," I say. My hands on her hips and my eyes are just about level with her breasts. Once I would have died for this chance. Now I feel nothing. "He felt that Atemu was someone who had lived and died years ago."

She nods thoughtfully. "That makes sense. Are you... still living with Ryou-kun?" Her voice is casual.

"Yes, I am. Actually, Bakura, Malik, and Mariku live with us, too," I tell her, enjoying the way her eyebrows arch.

"Yami is willing to live with those two?" she asks in complete amazement.

I chuckle and nod. Honestly, he didn't have a choice. I like living with Ryou. We're very close. He has to be with Bakura, I need to be with Yami. It just seemed natural for Malik and Mariku to move in as well. Malik had started out intending to get his own place, but somehow, he just never did. The three of them argue like little kids, and sometimes I feel like killing them, but most days, it's just home, and I don't think I've ever been happier.

"You look good, Yuugi," Anzu murmurs, looking down at me with something akin to curiosity in her blue eyes. She struggles with her words. "After he left... I didn't know if you would ever recover."

"I probably wouldn't have otherwise," I admit. I'm honest with her in a way that I am with few others. Anzu is still my friend. The music stops and I drop my hands, bowing politely to thank her for the dance. When I look up again, her mouth is quirked into a strange smile.

"You really haven't changed," she says, a note of wonder in her voice.

No. I haven't.

Things came to a point where we could no longer ignore it. People were noticing. Malik, Ryou and I had talked about it for a long time before we finally decided to broach the topic with our yamis. We did it separately, and I'm glad that we did. The truth was painful to hear without seeing their reactions, too. It sticks with me even now. My life was forever changed the day I solved the Millennium Puzzle, and I didn't even realize how much until years later.

"We're not ageing."

My voice sounds loud in the room. The body on top of me shifts and begins pressing soft kisses against my neck and throat. I close my eyes and forbid my body from responding again. Of course, it doesn't work. He always has that affect on me, ever since the night I finally admitted that I wanted to be his partner in every way possible.

"Come on, stop," I whine, shivering. "Yaaaami."

He sighs and draws back, staring at me with glittering crimson eyes. There's a small smirk on his face as he eyes me and I feel dread and desire crash together inside me, almost overwhelming my determination. "What were you saying, Aibou?"

"Ryou, Malik and I. We haven't aged at all since we were sixteen." I press my lips together, knowing that he can tell how much this is worrying me. Our mind link was damaged by his disappearance, and fragmented when he returned. But after our first night together, it came back whole and healthy. "What's going on?"

"I knew you'd notice sooner or later," he mutters, reaching out for me. Because there's nothing sexual in the way his arms tighten around me, I allow him to pull me into an embrace. I press my face to his chest and listen to the gentle beating of his heart. It's a sound I never grow tired of. His chest vibrates as he speaks words that will change the world as I know it.

Exposure to the Millennium Items. Changed by Shadow Magic. Never dying. Frozen in time – a perpetual state of youth. Tears are sliding slowly down my cheeks by the time he's finished, and he can do nothing but gently kiss them away, telling me without words that he's sorry it had to be this way. Eventually I lift my head and allow our lips to meet, to begin our own special dance all over again. I don't want to think about what he's said.

At that moment, I know Malik is right. I should have left it alone.

But I couldn't. I had to know. And I did. It took me a while to get used to the fact that I would never age, never die. I would be physically sixteen-years-old, the age I was when I solved the Puzzle, forever. Ryou, Malik, and our yamis would suffer the same fate. What would happen if we ever chose to end this perpetual life? No one could answer that question when I dared to ask. Our partners had been granted an extra chance at life once, so who knew what would happen if they decided to give it up? At least this way, I had gotten my wish... right?

"Here lies Kaiba Katsuya, who was ever young at heart even in the grip of sickness..."

The pastor's voice washes over me. I stand by the grave, my eyes locked onto the soil. One of the two people who knew the truth about me is gone. Now that Jou is gone, Seto won't be long in following. I can see it in the depths of his ever-blue eyes. I know this is only the beginning. One by one, my friends will die, and I will be left alone. I shiver, even though the day is warm, and wait for the end of the funeral. I can tell Seto recognizes me in spite of my disguise, and I know he wants to talk.

"Yuugi." His voice is smooth, undamaged by age. "I knew you would come. It's been some time."

"Hello, Seto." I don't look up at him. It must be torment to see my youthful face when he is looking into the chasm of death. "I'm sorry about Jou."

"He would have been glad that you could come," Seto says quietly. "Even in the end, you were his friend."

Tears fill my eyes but I don't cry. "I wish I could have been here to say good-bye."

"It was sudden. You couldn't have known."

That's the truth, but it does little to help. The six of us travel a lot, moving every five to ten years. We can't stay in one place for too long before people begin to get suspicious about us.

"Thank you for everything you've done, Seto," I whisper. He's helped a lot, giving us money and support and everything we could ever ask for, even paying to have Isis brought here in case she would have some answer. She didn't, but the fact that Seto tried meant more than I could ever say.

He nods and places a hand on my shoulder. "You're leaving."

"Yes. There are still people who would recognize us." Even being here makes my heart pound.

"I've written a will, Yuugi. You and your..." He hesitates; the first time in my life I've seen him do just that. "Your... friends... will be receiving a quantity of money that will tide you over for some time, along with shares in Kaiba Corp. If you manage them well, you'll do alright."

It does little to comfort me, but it's the only way Seto knows. I hug him briefly, quickly, and then walk away before my tears break free. I can't stay to watch a proud man like Seto die, knowing that I'll never follow. I find my way back to the others and throw myself into the arms of the first hikari I see – Malik. Ryou huddles near us as we cry together. Our yamis gather a short distance away, giving us space to grieve, to mourn, to be jealous.

Not long after that, we left again. The six of us have visited nearly every country in the world by now. We don't always stay together. A lot of the time, we're apart. But somehow, we always end up in the same place. I've even grown to appreciate Bakura and Mariku in ways that I thought I never could. I've seen the way they treat Ryou and Malik and it softens me towards them. Besides, when you only have five people that you can be close to, well, it doesn't really make sense to hate them. This could be an exceptionally lonely life, and only the fact that I have him with me makes me keep going on.

I stretch slowly, gradually working the kinks out of every part of my body. My foot accidentally strikes Malik in the shoulder. He gives a muffled groan and rolls over. Our yamis left sometime early this morning, and first Malik and then Ryou wandered in to join me in bed. The three of us are dozing in a pile of arms and legs. After several centuries of the same companions, you kind of lose all sense of personal space, and it's surprisingly comfortable.

"Where do you think we should go next?" Ryou asks, propping himself up an elbow.

"I could go back to Egypt again," says Malik. "I'd like to visit Nee-san's grave. Make sure it's being taken care of."

We contemplate this matter in silence. Malik had a hard time with Isis's and Rishid's deaths. He misses them both like crazy. They never quite got over the fact that Mariku was back, and I think it upsets Malik to this day.

"I suppose I better stock up on the sunscreen," Ryou sighs.

I giggle. "Better get lots," I say mischievously. "You'll have to force Bakura to put it on this time."

Ryou smirks. "He got what he deserved," he says. "If he's not smart enough to put it on after I warned him, he deserves to be sunburned. You'd think, having grown up in Egypt, he'd know better."

"In his defence, the sun is a lot stronger now," Malik points out.

He has a point. The world has changed a lot since I began growing up in that small town in Japan. It's nearly unrecognizable. Pretty soon, I'm sure Bakura will figure out some way for us to have more to explore than just the Earth.

"Yuugi, would you like to go back to Domino?" asks Ryou.

I haven't been back since Jou died. I wiggle to get free of Malik's arm, contemplating a return, and decide. "No, I don't. Going back will only bring up memories I don't want to revisit. I have everything I need right here."

"Is that so?" an amused voice says, bringing our attention to the doorway. "I guess we should leave."

"You could, but it's awful cold out," I say, grinning. Fortunately, the bed is big enough to accommodate the six of us.

This is our life now. We wander from place to place, never truly having a home. Sometimes I remember that boy back in Domino, the one who wished that he could spend forever with the other half of his soul. He really had no idea what he was asking for. I still don't know why the gods chose to give us this gift... this curse. Is it a reward? A punishment? Both? None of us know for sure. It used to bother me a lot, but now I don't think about it so often. As hard as the loss of my friends and family was to bear, I'm happy to have seen them to their deaths, knowing that they were happy in the end. You know, time passes more quickly the longer we're together, but

Yuugi jumps, his hands falling off of the little screen, as arms encircle his waist. A soft, deep chuckle makes him shiver as he looks back and up into the amused eyes of his darkness. "You scared me," he scolds.

"Sorry, Aibou. I didn't realize that you were so into your work that you didn't hear me come in," Yami says, though there is no real apology in his eyes. "I thought that by now, you might be hungry. Ryou is home, and we thought we'd go out for one last dinner before we have to move again."

"Sure, that sounds nice. Just give me a minute to change," Yuugi agrees. He smiles happily up at his other half and accepts the kiss his yami offers. Their lips meet in a gentle, soft display of love before Yami reluctantly draws back, touches Yuugi's cheek lightly, and walks out of the room. Yuugi watches him go and then turns back to the computer screen. Fleetingly, he wishes that Seto could be here to see them. The boy would have completely freaked out at the sight of the updated technology. It makes him smile to remember now.

He looks at what he's written with a thoughtful look. Back when Yami first suggested that he use writing to work through his emotions, he had scoffed at the idea. But it's turned out to be surprisingly therapeutic. They all have their own little ways of coping. Ryou cooks. Malik keeps up to date with the technology. Bakura and Mariku spar. Yami... well... Yami likes to have sex, though he'll settle for sparring if Yuugi is too busy. That's a rare occasion, though.

"C'mon, brat. Hurry up!" Bakura shouts.

"I'm coming. Hold up!" he responds, quickly typing up the thoughts that had been going through his mind before Yami startled him. Tomorrow, they're moving on... and up. Malik and Bakura have spent the last two weeks putting the finishing touches on plans to get around the fact that technically, none of them have legal identities. He's excited at the thought of it, and to be honest, he's not sure he ever wants to come back to the Earth. It has been good to them, but it's time to move on.


"I'm ready." Tossing on a light jacket in case it's raining, Yuugi rushes out of the room, not bothering to shut his computer down. He laughs as Malik pretends to faint from hunger and cuddles up to Yami when the older boy slings an arm around his shoulders. The six of them leave together, heading for their favourite restaurant just down the street. Come morning, it will be the last time they set on the Earth, until they return to give up their never-ending life... if ever.

You know, time passes more quickly the longer we're together, but for the first time in a long time, I can actually say I'm happy, too. People used to dream about having immortality, but it's not as great as you would think. If it weren't for my friends and my darkness, I would have lost my mind a long time ago. But I find myself pleased (in spite of everything) that I'm sharing this fate with him, because I would rather be with him forever than wait on the other side. At least here, I am finally whole.

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