Hey~ Wow, I'm being productive aren't I? ^^'
I was rather behind the masses and only managed to watch Bonds Beyond Time a few weeks back. But... ye gods. Synchroshipping, yes please~ Some spoilers for the last season of 5Ds (the undubbed one with Z-ONE).
Also my chapters seem to be getting longer. I blame NaNoWriMo.
Rated T for now, will be upped to M in later chapters ;3 Also if you can't stand seeing Atem rather than Atemu... sorry. I watched the dubs of DM, I feel more comfortable with the dubbed names. We cool?
Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds (c) Kazuki Takahashi
Yuusei spun the wrench absently in his hand as he thought, scrutinizing the innards of the Phoenix Whirlwind and wondering what had set it off this time. His first model had been a little temperamental of late, and Jack had been complaining so much about the crunchy, whirring noises she made whenever he revved her into gear that Yuusei had decided to kill two birds with one stone; fix the problem and stop Jack's whinging as well.
He hadn't expected to find a serious problem – before the Grand Prix Tournament and all through it he and Bruno had gone over every inch of all of their bikes, tuning up and fixing any problems. Jack hadn't been doing anything overly stressful with his bike since then, to the best of Yuusei's knowledge. It had been fine right after the Grand Prix, and had only needed a little touching up after Z-One's defeat.
Yuusei sighed and the wrench stilled in his hand. That whole ordeal gave him an almost physical pain every time he thought of it. With that duel with his future 'self', Bruno's – Antimony's – betrayal and redemption… he set the wrench down and rubbed his face briskly, trying to banish the bad memories. He had tried talking to Jack and Crow about it, but none of his attempts had been very successful. Jack hadn't liked Bruno much from the beginning for inscrutable reasons of his own, and Crow had taken the quiet young man's death very hard indeed, and hadn't spoken in more than monosyllables for more than a week after Z-One's defeat. He wouldn't dream of burdening the twins with something like that – they were busy enough at school – and the same went for Akiza, despite the fact she had offered numerous times to stay over with him and talk it out. He just wasn't as close to her as he was to Jack and Crow.
He couldn't help the brief thought that maybe Yugi or Jaden would have understood – he knew they had been through similar ordeals, maybe if they had been able to meet again after that horrific encounter with Paradox he would have been able to talk to them more, get to know the legends he had grown up hearing stories about. But no.
He set his jaw and concentrated on carefully opening up a valve to see if there was something clogging it, forcing the other issues out of his mind. His concentration was so intense, almost at the level of a fully Clear Mind, he could even ignore Jack and Crow breezing back into the garage and clattering around in the tiny kitchen area they had.
But after some time – in which he had found the valve to be working perfectly, dammit – he found himself looking up and turning around, his attention drawn by something he couldn't quite define. He frowned, wondering what preternatural sense had made him turn. He watched a corner of the garage, empty but for a few tools, unable to take his eyes off the empty space.
Jack and Crow seemed to sense something as well, and poked their heads out of the kitchen to watch the corner too. Ever so slowly, the Signer marks on their arms began to burn, and Yuusei felt the Crimson Dragon on his back awaken, pulsing through his shirt and making his shoulder blades itch.
None of them dared say a thing; it was if the very house around them held its breath and pressed a finger to each of their lips, bidding them to wait for the mystery to unveil itself. Slowly the quality of light in the room changed, so slowly none of them realised what was happening until they were squinting towards the brightening corner, pearly light coalescing into a small form.
Suddenly Yuusei heard the screaming roar of the Crimson Dragon, and a vast peal of chanting voices, and with the sound came a great shudder in the light in the corner, and between one blink and the next, a person came to be, sprawled face-down on the floor.
The light ebbed away, and the sound died down. No one dared move, staring at the person – man at first glance – who seemed to have teleported into their garage.
Yuusei looked him over quickly, his chest tightening with some strange emotion as he looked at the strange hair and narrow frame, the wiry muscle on the deeply tanned arms, and the archaic-looking clothes he wore. Gold glinted at his arms and legs, and a pure white cloth was fastened around his hips with yet more gold. Yuusei's gaze travelled up the man's body again over his bare torso, more slowly, up towards the head. He caught his breath.
He could see dark black hair, tipped almost violet, and was that some blond he could see? He only knew one person with hair like that, though that young man had been much, much paler…
The man stirred, raising his heavily adorned arms shakily and pressing against the floor, raising himself to his hands and knees with his head bowed, breathing loudly and unsteadily. His hands shook as he ran them over the rough concrete floor, and he jumped slightly when his fingers touched.
Suddenly he groaned and said something in a pained voice that, if any of the others there could speak Ancient Egyptian, they would have heard as, "Seto? What in the name of Ra have you done now?"
Yuusei quietly got to his feet and walked over to crouch before the man, a tentative smile on his lips. "Yugi?" He said quietly. "Is that you?"
The man jerked around at the sound of his voice, a look of disbelief on his face. Yuusei took in a sharp breath; it was Yugi's face alright, though even more deeply tanned than Yuusei was, and heavily decorated with a gold winged headdress of some sort and long gold earrings. The man's eyes were closed, however, so he couldn't tell if they were Yugi's violet eyes.
"Y-Yuusei?" The man said in a rough voice, reaching out with shaking hands to touch him, quickly skimming over his hair and the planes of his face with gentle fingertips and nodding to himself. Yuusei fought down a blush.
"Yes it's me, it's Yuusei Fudo. Is that really you, Yugi? Why are you dressed up like that?"
"Dressed up…?" The man – Yugi? – said in bafflement, then quickly explored his arms and legs, brushing the cool gold bracelets clasped around his limbs. "Oh…Oh, I remember now. This is the real me."
"Yugi, you're not making any sense."
"Oh…I'm not Yugi, Yuusei." He said, seeming to look right in his eyes without even opening his eyes. "I'm the Pharaoh. Atem."
"Atem," Yuusei repeated, rolling the word around in his mouth and trying to connect it to what he knew of that figure. Yugi Motou was legendary, for sure, but the mysterious spirit of an ancient pharaoh was yet more legendary. The man, Atem, smiled weakly. "Alright," Yuusei continued. "How on earth did you get here?"
Atem's expression grew serious again. "The Gods cannot be denied," He said, and looked as if he would say no more on the subject, so Yuusei didn't press him just yet.
"Well. Why don't you open your eyes?"
"It's bright," Atem said promptly, frowning a little. Yuusei looked around the frankly dingy garage, what little light there was supplied by a few low-battery lamps and a scummy window. "They hurt."
Jack coughed meaningfully, drawing attention to the fact he and Crow were still present. He always seemed to get moody whenever Yuusei's attention was on anyone but himself.
"Who's there?" Atem said sharply, authority ringing through the room. Yuusei blinked in surprise, remembering how, when the Pharaoh had been in control of Yugi's body during the duel with Paradox, his voice had been just as strong and confident.
"My friends Jack and Crow," Yuusei said, smiling at them. Crow grinned back, and Jack looked just a little dumbstruck. "Hey guys, meet the King of Games."
"Not with the titles, please," Atem said with a weak wave of his hand and an embarrassed smile. "I'm certainly not in my own era, so they don't really apply."
"Well, it sure is great to see a celebrity in the flesh," Crow said, throwing Yuusei an astounded look. "I'm Crow Hogan. Nice to meet ya."
"Likewise, Crow," Atem said, smiling towards Crow's voice.
"And I'm Jack Atlas," Jack announced loudly. "I'd say you're almost as great a legend as I am myself."
"Oh give it a rest, Jack," Crow laughed, digging the taller man in the ribs with his elbow. "Just say hello like a normal human being."
"He's the King of Games!" Jack hissed to him in reply, obviously trying to be subtle. "What the deuce am I supposed to say?"
Atem cleared his throat delicately, drawing their attention again. He 'looked' towards Jack and smiled. "Good day to you too, Jack Atlas. I look forward to discussing duelling strategies with you later."
It was a good thing Atem had his eyes closed or he would have seen the monstrous blush that spread over Jack's face at being greeted by the King of Games himself, only Jack's greatest hero of all time. Crow laughed and patted Jack on the back. Yuusei watched the exchanges with a smile, a strange lightness in his heart and a tightness in his chest. After a few moments of looking at Atem – right there, right next to him again! – he realised that was he was feeling was anticipation. Though for what he didn't know.
Almost as if he had heard Yuusei's thoughts, Atem turned back to him and smiled. "So yes, hello again. How are you? And where are we in time? Obviously you've returned from my – Yugi's – time. How long since then?"
Yuusei laughed. "I'm doing good, thanks. Yeah, it's been a couple of months since Paradox. Saved the world again since."
"Oh, good job," Atem grinned. "It always happens at the most inconvenient times, doesn't it?"
Yuusei's smile widened. "Right in the middle of a duelling tournament, yeah."
"Oh I know," Atem laughed. "Yugi always got so uptight about that; once things starting hotting up we had no time to just duel for fun between Battle City and… the Ceremonial Duel." The mood abruptly became sombre as the subject of Atem's death reared its head, made more complicated by his presence there with them. Atem seemed to look around as if he were looking for Yugi and Yuusei felt his smile slip.
"Are you hungry, thirsty?" Crow asked awkwardly to break the silence. Atem seemed to appreciate the effort.
"No, thank you. Very kind of you."
"Well let's get you on your feet and then we can talk about however this happened," Yuusei said, hesitantly taking Atem's forearms in his own strong hands and standing up, pulling the other man to his unsteady feet. Atem overbalanced at first, and Yuusei had to grab his hands to stop him from falling over backwards. Forgotten, Jack frowned and crossed his arms.
"Thanks," Atem said. "I'm sorry for that, my legs don't seem to be able to hold me for some reason."
"Well you are dripping with gold," Yuusei pointed out, looking down his sleekly toned and rather on-show body to the ornaments that seemed a part of his skin. "That's got to be heavy."
"Yes, perhaps that's it," Atem mused, seeming to have forgotten that Yuusei was holding his hands. "Or maybe I haven't had my own body for so long… hm."
Yuusei couldn't help but observe that now they were standing, Atem was actually very short. Yuusei was used to being only a little taller than Crow – even Akiza was taller than him – but this was just bizarre. It was very odd looking down to someone who could outclass him and outduel him without breaking a sweat; he hadn't really noticed during the duel with Paradox because of all the stress of that particular situation. He wondered briefly if this was what Jack felt like with normal people, towering over their heads.
Atem tilted his head slightly to the side as if aware of the scrutiny, and a small smile cured his lips. "I'm sorry if my – ah – arrival prevented you from doing something, Yuusei. I wouldn't want to be in the way."
"No, no, it's fine," Yuusei said quickly, "I was only tinkering with Phoenix, it's fine."
"Oh – Jack's Duel Runner. She's been making some odd sounds lately."
"Well, I'm sorry for that," Atem said, turning blindly towards where Jack was. "I hope she isn't damaged, Jack."
Jack struggled to speak for a moment, torn between awed joy that the King of Games was taking an interest in his Duel Runner and jealousy that Yuusei was positively ecstatic at his arrival and was ignoring everyone else in the room. "Thank you," He said after a moment. "That's very kind of you."
Atem smiled a little at him and turned back to Yuusei. "So, ah, I'm sorry to be a bother. I'm not entirely sure why They put me here with you."
"The Gods," Atem said easily, as if it were the most natural explanation in the world. "They said I was needed."
"But hang on right there," Crow said. "If you're the Pharaoh, didn't you – well – die?"
"Yes, I did."
Crow and Jack exchanged a glance that obviously said, 'did you understand that?'
"After the Ceremonial Duel," Atem started to explain, in a sombre voice that was directed at everyone though he remained facing Yuusei, hands firmly held in his, "I did indeed die. I went to the afterlife, with my dear old friends from my first life. But I was restless there; I missed Yugi and Joey and the other friends I had made in Yugi's world. I was happy to be back with my old friends, of course, but I still missed them." He was silent for a moment, presumably thinking.
Yuusei squeezed his fingertips briefly without even thinking about it, offering some wordless comfort. Atem squeezed softly back, his smile reawakening.
"I couldn't settle for the majesty I regained in the afterlife, I wanted to talk to my living friends again. It may sound terrible to not be happy with royalty, but the trappings of it… I couldn't wear them easily anymore. I had been very young when I took up my father's throne, and had taken them as my due. But after living in Yugi's world… it sat ill with me. I was used to helping Yugi and his friends in horrible situations, duelling for our lives and for the world, not sitting upon a throne all day."
"I can see that," Crow said with a grin. "None of us are happy just loafing around all day, we need to be doing things. Just look at Yuusei – if something twitches he'll take it apart and build it back up again just to see what's inside."
"I do not," Yuusei protested mildly.
"Well you always need to do something with your hands, at any rate."
Yuusei shrugged uncomfortably, very aware of where his hands were right then. "What were you saying, Atem?" It was a strange thrill to address him by his name, and the pharaoh smiled and squeezed his fingertips again, just barely enough that Crow and Jack wouldn't notice. But Yuusei did.
"I was restless, unable to be truly happy and at home. So after some time, Seto and my other advisors came to me, and they said they had been having most troubling dreams – oh yes, you can dream in the afterlife. They said the Gods appeared to them every night, always saying the same thing – I did not belong there anymore." He sighed and bowed his head a little. "So Seto insisted that I should be happy. He was my dearest friend back then. He and his acolytes worked for over a week , studying—"
"Studying? In the afterlife?" Jack interrupted him disbelievingly.
"Yes," Atem said mildly, unperturbed by the interruption though Yuusei frowned a little at Jack. "Everything in death is as it is in life. In the afterlife I experienced, anyway. The whole place was just like my city in Egypt, perfectly replicated. Without the Thief, of course," he said, his face darkening for a moment. "But anyway. They gathered, and created a spell that would send me back to life. I protested – I knew it was not my place to have another life, not after one of my own and one with Yugi, however short that had been. But he was adamant." Atem's expression softened slightly.
"What happened? They send you through a portal or something?" Yuusei asked, glancing to the corner.
"Something like that," Atem agreed. "The Gods appeared and explained that I could no longer belong in the afterlife – I had seen too much of the future. And They said I was still needed. Light enveloped me, and I heard a great roar… and then I was here," He finished awkwardly.
Yuusei glanced down to his bare arms, seeing the still-glowing Signer mark on his right. "It must have been the Crimson Dragon," He mused. The other two Signers agreed with serious nods of their heads, touching the marks on their arms.
"Well, everything's peaceful for now," Crow said, rubbing the back of his neck in bafflement. "Z-One's gone, and everything's normal. I hope this doesn't mean we're gonna have to face-off against some other bad guy soon."
Atem shrugged eloquently, looking a little uncomfortable.
"Well," Yuusei said firmly, changing the topic. "You're welcome to stay with us however long you like."
"Thank you," Atem smiled up at him. "I wouldn't wish to put you out, though..."
"It's fine, it's fine, we've got room," Yuusei assured him quickly. "Maybe we can get that duel you were talking about last time."
"I'd enjoy that," Atem said, reaching down to his side automatically to where Yugi had kept his deck. He frowned, searching his hip with increasing anxiety, looking for his deck. "It's not…" Yuusei glanced down and saw what Atem could not: he may have appeared in the flesh, but he had no cards upon him. His deck was gone. "Where is it…" Atem muttered, and broke off into a low stream of Egyptian, the tone of his voice betraying the fact he was swearing. Yuusei wanted to smile at such a legendary figure breaking into profanity, but the situation was too serious. Jack and Crow exchanged uneasy glances across the room – the King of Games without his trademark deck? It was unthinkable.
Yuusei frowned anxiously at the increasing desperation and even horror on Atem's face, his fingers skittering over the cloth and gold at his waist. It was painful to watch.
He reached down and gently took Atem's wrist, stroking the underside with his thumb unconsciously. "We'll have a look for it later," He said quietly. "Let's get you some more clothes, you must be freezing in just that – toga thing."
"Mm," Atem agreed, a little distracted. "Thank you."
"Come on then," Yuusei said, and pulled lightly on his hand. Atem nodded and shakily walked with him over to the stairs while Jack and Crow watched in idle quiet. "Alright? Are your legs stronger now?"
"I think so," Atem replied, and after a moment let go of Yuusei's hand to grip the banister instead. A flash of disappointment made itself known in Yuusei's chest. To distract himself, he absently measured Atem's height against his own, looking down to see where his hips and elbows were in relation to his own. He couldn't help but observe the flat, well-toned muscles of his chest and stomach, and the strength in his biceps and calves. He was skinny and small, but very strong, Yuusei would wager.
"Hm," He said thoughtfully. "Crow, you got any spare clothes? I don't think any of mine will fit him."
"Oh, sure!" Crow said, and sprang up the stairs ahead of them. "Finally, a benefit of always being looked down on by Jack!"
Jack rolled his eyes and smirked. "I can't help but be tall, as you know," He called after Crow.
From upstairs they heard Crow's shouted reply, "That's because you ate all our food when we were kids!"
Yuusei laughed. "Martha used to get so mad with you, Jack," He smiled at his friend, whose forbidding expression softened a little.
"You gave me your share anyway, if you recall," Jack said quietly.
"You were always hungry, how could I not?" Yuusei smiled at him, and Jack chuckled a little before moving off upstairs.
"You've been friends since childhood?" Atem asked after a moment, gripping the banister and stretching his legs a little.
"Yeah, we all grew up in the same orphanage after Zero Reverse. We've been close ever since. Well, Jack did go off with Goodwin for a bit, but he's back with us now. So yeah, we just sorta decided to live together," Yuusei shrugged.
"Zero Reverse?" Atem asked, frowning in puzzlement.
Yuusei blinked, surprised for a moment – everyone knew about Zero Reverse! – until he remembered Atem was from the past. "Oh, sorry. We're gonna have to give you some history lessons to catch you up. If you're gonna be here a while."
"History lessons about the future," Atem smiled. "Interesting. Oh well, here we go again."
Yuusei chuckled. "It must have been strange the first time, learning about how the world changed after your era."
"Yes, it was," Atem replied. "But, as Yugi said, it's a chance no one else has ever had, so I ought to appreciate it."
"You miss him."
Atem sighed. "Very much. We were partners for the better part of three years, and we were always in contact. It's strange not to see him at my elbow, or to be able to be at his." A sad smile curled his lips. "It's strange to be in my body again."
Yuusei's eyes had to agree – the tanned, muscled body before him was much more appealing to him than Yugi's had been.
"Why don't you try opening your eyes now?" Yuusei asked. "It's really not very bright in here, honest."
Atem nodded and slowly opened his eyes, squinting and blinking for several minutes until the room became dark and Yuusei's face swam into wonderful focus.
Yuusei held his breath a little; those eyes were unmistakable, and they looked right into his own, bright and exotic.
"Hello, Yuusei," Atem smiled. "Good to see you again." Yuusei couldn't say anything, astounded by the soft amethyst colour of those sparkling eyes and their arresting hold on him.
"Okay, I've got some clothes!" Crow called, breaking the moment.
For the rest of the day Atem and Yuusei just talked, with occasional contributions from Jack or more often Crow. Yuusei was focussed on him to the exclusion of all else, and Phoenix rested forgotten on the other side of the room.
They found it extraordinarily easy to talk to each other about everything, and Yuusei discovered that when he talked about Zero Reverse and growing up on the Satellite, and the Dark Signers, and Kiryu, and all that had happened in the Grand Prix and Z-One, Atem listened eagerly, soaking up the information like a sponge and offering quick understanding and empathy where it was needed. It only helped Yuusei talk more, tell Atem about how he had felt going through it all.
Talking was a release he hadn't known he needed; he felt quite exhausted by the end of the day.
"So how come you didn't tell your friends about all this?" Atem asked as the sun was nearing the horizon. "They were there with you, they went through the same things. But you didn't tell them this sort of thing?"
"No," Yuusei admitted, a little shamed. "They were dealing with their own ramifications at the time, and I didn't want to burden them any further. Besides…" He hesitated and lanced uncertainly at Atem, who smiled and put a hand on his shoulder.
"You didn't want to admit to being afraid, or in pain. They all looked up to you to be strong, and you didn't want to disappoint them."
"Yes," Yuusei murmured, looking down. "It's not like none of them would understand, that's not it. 'Cause they would, they definitely would. But… I just look at Leo and he smiles up at me and tells me I'm gonna beat the bad guys no problem, and I don't want to upset him by saying I'm not up to the job."
Atem squeezed his shoulder comfortingly. "It's alright, Yuusei. You can talk to me; I understand. I've been through it all. Twice, in fact."
From anyone else, that statement would have been ridiculously pompous. But from Atem, it was just the simple truth. It made Yuusei's head spin and he had to look away.
"Is it too strange?" Atem asked, tilting his head slightly to the side. "Talking to me, I mean?" He didn't take his hand away though.
"It's a little strange," Yuusei admitted. "The last time, everything was too hectic to really understand what was happening other than the need to defeat Paradox. But now…" He shook his head in bewilderment.
Atem smiled gently and squeezed his shoulder again. "It's strange for me too. Meeting a man from the future and getting to live in his world? We are far beyond my time. I don't understand what the least of these devices do." He nodded at the array of mechanical implements spread out around Whirlwind Phoenix.
"Oh, them. It's alright, Jack doesn't understand them either," Yuusei grinned. "But I think I see what you mean. You're going to have to learn how to do everything here, if you're staying for a while."
Atem sighed and his hand slipped slightly from Yuusei's shoulder. "Yes. And I don't know how long I'll be staying; there's isn't an Ishizu in your world – ah, this world I mean – is there?"
"Not as far as I know," Yuusei said and raised his hand to cover Atem's. "But it'll be alright. We can help you. You may not have Yugi this time, but you've got me." Atem blinked in surprise and Yuusei quickly added, "And Jack, and Crow, and our other friends."
An oddly sly smile grew on Atem's lips, sending a tingle down Yuusei's spine. He coughed and took his hand away. "I suppose you'd like to rest."
"To sleep," Atem mused. "Hm, that will be interesting. But yes, I am quite tired."
"Come on then," Yuusei smiled, pulling him to his feet and starting up the stairs. "You can have my room – no, no, it's fine. Really, Atem."
"Well alright," Atem laughed. "But where will you sleep? I don't want to put you out."
"It's fine, I'll sleep down here on the sofa. I've crashed there a couple of times before, when I'm working on something. I'll just get a blanket and some clothes from here, and I'll let you rest."
"Well okay," Atem said, watching him gather belongings from his cupboards with a smooth efficiency. "Goodnight, Yuusei."
Yuusei smiled at him from the doorway. "Goodnight, Atem. Sleep well." He softly closed the door on the King of Games, wondering why the prospect of having Atem sleep in his bed was making him feel so strange.
He shrugged it off and settled down on the sofa. It was probably just a bit of leftover awe from meeting him again. Yes, that was it.
That didn't explain why he couldn't stop smiling, though.
There you go C:
I'm planning on continuing with this. Hope you enjoyed reading it and see you in chapter 2 when it's written, maybe?
Reviews would be appreciated C: Bye~