ok, new chapter one. old one had some inconsistancies in it, and you can't find them then that good.

for new readers, this story starts one year before Duelist Kingdom.

enjoy. :)

Chapter 1

Airi Muto had always been very protective of her younger brother Yugi. With their parents dying 9 years ago, besides grandpa all the two really had were each other. They had always been close. That was one of the reasons she could tell that his bully problems were getting worse. Airi couldn't understand how a boy as pleasant and kind hearted as Yugi didn't have any friends. He had tried to tell her that things were improving, but she knew when he was lying; He was never any good at it. It was obvious even if he didn't come home with his school uniform scuffed up or when he was limping. Any 14 year old boy who spent more time working on a puzzle or playing card games with his older sister didn't have anywhere else to go.

Airi had seen to many examples of bullies handy work and for this reason she dreaded answering the phone while Yugi was at school. When he called from the principal's office, she didn't need him to explain. Thankfully Grandpa had been too busy with customers in the game shop and hadn't payed much attention when she had left. Airi borrowed a neighbors car, not knowing what kind of condition Yugi was in. It was the worsted so far. The school nurse had only checked to make sure Yugi didn't have to go the emergency room and that was it. Apparently she thought if she didn't help him he would stop getting the urge to get beaten up, like it was his fault or something. The principal had assured Airi they were able to catch the responsible party red handed and he would no longer be a problem to the school. Airi had done her best to act pleased by this news, but it took all her experience hiding her emotions during Duel Monsters tournaments to keep her frustration under control. She didn't think throwing out one bully was worth watching Yugi wince every time he moved. She knew there would be others.

Back home they sneaked up the back stairs so grandpa wouldn't see Yugi until he was more presentable. Then the cleaning ritual began. Yugi was sitting on the edge of the tub, holding a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel to the swollen side of his face with his finger tips and shoulder. His shirt was off and the black bruises on his chest looked like thunder clouds. Airi was kneeling in front of him cleaning up Yugi's arm.

Only when they were together like this could any resemblance be seen. There weren't that many similarities. Yugi's hair was spiky and black with shocking red highlights and gold bangs. Airi was straight as a pin brown hair that was almost to her waist with the brown interrupted with distinctive copper and gold highlights. The eyes were the only real common fetcher. Both of them had the same shade of light violet. Yugi's were larger and always seemed to be smiling. Airi's were slightly narrower but could be just as happy when she didn't spend all her time worrying. That was the only real indication they were related, unless one counted both of their lack of hight. Both were short, but Airi's height looked normal for a girl. Yugi to put it frankly was a shrimp. He was still waiting for his final growth spurt but was losing hope.

Airi was silently cursing the school nurse. What slacker could let Yugi go with out doing something about these cuts. The bully had ripped off Yugi's jacket before the beating so his arms had had nothing between them and the pavement as he skidded across it. Yugi had covered the damage with his jacket so that Airi wouldn't see them until they got home. He was sure she would have snapped and the bully would have been a goner.

"OW!" Yugi yelped as Airi applied rubbing alcohol to the open scrapes and cuts on his right hand and forearm. "you don't have to do this, Airi, I can clean myself up." That was Yugi, never liking it when people fussed over him.

"Older sisters job security." she said, not looking up, but trying to be more gentle. "You need to keep that ice pack in place. Do you want your face to be bigger then the rest of you?"

Yugi grinned, or at least the part of his face that wasn't covered by the peas. "Why not? It might make me look taller."

Airi couldn't help laughing. Seeing her smile lightened Yugi's feelings of guilt. She seemed to smile less and less lately and he knew he was the reason. With their parents gone she had to step up and be there for him. Grandpa was grandpa and Yugi loved and respected him very much, but Airi was the one who he felt was the real protector. She was the one he asked for when he had to call home. The two of them privately joked that if Grandpa did try to stop the bullies he would through out his back and then where would they be? Airi had her hands full with Grandpa, college classes, (she had tested out of high school at fourteen) and worrying about Yugi. All this and only 16 years old. He wished there was a way to stop these incidences, but he couldn't. At least he could still make her smile.

"Who was it this week?." Airi said, wrapping his arm up like a mummy. "All they would tell me was that the responsible party was expelled. Good riddance to anyone who picks a fight with my brother."

"Well . . ." Yugi didn't really know how to put this. "I kinda got myself in the situation. I was trying to protect some guys who were getting beaten up and to do that I put myself in line of fire. But Joey and Tristan looked so bad I couldn't just . . . OW!"

"Sorry." Airi said quickly. She had been so startled she had gripped his hand too tightly. "Joey Wheeler and Tristan Taylor! That Joey and Tristan?" Those two were some of the worse bullies in the school.

"Yes." Yugi wouldn't look at her.

"You got a bully mad by trying to make him stop bullying other bullies?"


"Let me get this straight." Airi's pent up frustration came out unchecked. "You almost had your insides churned, your hands and arms skidded to hamburger and your face looking like a balloon, all to help out a couple of thugs."

"They are my friends." Yugi snapped. They glared at each other. Yugi was the first to look away. A angry tear landed on the tile floor. "They're my friends, even if they don't treat me like it."

Airi's angry face smoothed out into her game face; completely expressionless. Yugi, though kind hearted, was not a fool. She would hold judgment until she heard all.

"Switch." she said. Yugi supported the makeshift ice pack with his newly bandaged hand and let her get started on the other. "Alright, tell me everything that happened." she said, starting the cleaning processes over again.

As she worked Yugi told her everything. Between sharp intakes of breath Yugi explained how he had seen Joey and Tristan huddled masses in the corner, how he had gotten in between, the what seemed like hours of beatings until the principal finally showed up and finally having enough proof to have that kid expelled. By the time he finished Airi was done with his other arm. She took the ice pack off and looked Yugi squarely in both eyes.

"But why?"

Yugi again looked at the floor. "Well, I guess when I saw them and how afraid they looked, I realized that even a bullies can be alone and that is why they needed me to be their friend." Yugi looked at his newly bandaged hands. "Airi. . . I'm sorry . . .I'm more trouble then I'm worth . . . Your smart and strong and I'm just small and worthless . . ." he didn't care if she saw him crying. He had held the tears through all the beatings, the teachers questions, and the car rides home. But he couldn't hold it in any longer.

She put a hand on his shoulder.

Yugi braised himself, sure he was going to get a lecture on how to moderate compassion or something about not getting into trouble. The next thing he knew Yugi was pulled into a hug.

"My soft hearted idiot." she said into his spiky hair.

"Watch it." he said, "this idiot still has bruising."

Airi pulled back, but both hands were still on his shoulders. Yugi hand no choice but to look at her. "Pay very close attention, Yugi Muto. You are far from weak and worthless. You have more strength then anyone I know. You care about people and do what is right and that's better than any title in the world. Yes you are small, but you are my brother. I wouldn't have you any other way." She sat next to him on the rim of the tub and put and arm around his shoulders pulling him against her. "Yugi what am I going to do with you?"

Knowing it was rhetorical question, and not having an answer anyway, Yugi was silent. They sat there for a long moment more in silence, each resting there head on each other.

"Can I ask something?" Yugi said, finally. " If I become a real 'idiot' as you put it, and do something really foolish, would you forgive me."

"That depends if you did it for stupid reasons. If you get even more self sacrificing I may have to get a little ruff." She glared at him, then her expression softened. "but even then I would still love you."

"fair enough." Yugi said. He turned and gave her a big hug, not caring about his bruises for the moment. "I love you, sis. You're the best."

she hugged him back. "love you, too."

"Anyone home!" came grandpa's voice up the stairs.

"Grandpa!" Yugi got to his feet too quickly and doubled over, keeping the screech of agony back with gritted teeth. Airi did her best to keep smiling for his sake, even though she was fighting tears. Seeing her eyes, Yugi smiled apolitically. "I guess my defense points weren't very high."

"Don't bring Duel Monsters into this." she pretended annoyance. Hearing grandpa's footsteps she handed Yugi the ice pack. "hide your face. Grandpa's going to freak enough when he sees the rest of you."

It was nearly midnight. Grandpa was returning from sneaking a midnight snack when he saw that the light was still on in the living room. That surprised him. The younger Muto's had dueled earlier that evening, but it hadn't lasted long. Yugi had gone to bed a longtime ago, bruises and painkillers the main reasons. He looked inside, thinking they had forgotten the lights again. From the door way he saw his Granddaughter sitting by herself on the couch in her dressing gown. Airi was absently playing a privet game of war with her monster cards. She would put two monster cards face down side by side, flip them over, and which ever one had the highest attack points won. She only did that when she couldn't get to sleep. Grandpa smiled to himself. Only 16 and already having sleepless nights.

"That was quite a duel you two had." he said, finally coming in.

Airi jumped, but smiled as her grandfather sat next to her.

"Despite his condition Yugi still put up a great fight." she agreed. "He really does have a knack for the game."

"Under my professional teaching."Grandpa said, smugly. Airi did her best not to role her eyes. Grandpa was always bring up the fact he had been a champion of the game a long time ago. Not that his pride was biased. Both younger Muto's had learned their skills from him. " Though I have to say it was amazing how fast you beat him. You two usually duel longer." Gramps added.

Airi's face went solemn again and she flipped over one of her face down cards. "Even though he isn't afraid to do what is right and he has talent for Duel Monsters, Yugi cant hide pain very well." the card was Mystical Elf. "I decided to end the duel quickly." the second card she flipped over was Victoria. "You know he doesn't give up." Airi looked blankly at her cards, until they both went blurry. She quickly wiped the tears away.

"What are we going to do with that boy?" Grandpa sighed, putting a comforting arm around her shoulders.

Airi looked back at her cards but didn't feel like carrying out the attack. "He needs friends." she stated. "Being by himself, he may look even worse next time. If only I was there."

"Your too rational to pick fights and Yugi wouldn't want you to fight anyway. Besides your in college already, you needed to worry about your studies. Yugi is a strong boy with a big heart. He will be fine."

'That still doesn't excuse the fact he needs friends.' Airi thought, but smiled to make her grandfather feel better.

Grandpa gave her a reassuring hug and went off to bed. She sat there for a moment longer. Seeing how this wasn't going to help her with her quiz in math the next day she got up. On the way to her room, she quietly she stole into Yugi's to make sure his was doing alright. The swelling on his face seemed to be going down and the pain pills had put him in a deep sleep. he was sleeping so soundly he hadn't realized that he'd kicked off the blankets. Putting them back over him, Airi looked down and smiled. Even though he was two year younger than her, he looked half that age. All this wasn't fair, but then when was life.

As she turned to leave, Airi saw the Millennium Puzzle. It wasn't complete, but it looked more like something then it had for all the years Yugi had it. The remaining puzzle pieces were laying around it. She crossed over to the desk and picked one up. The gold glittered in the dim glow coming through the skylight. Grandpa said this puzzle had been found in a tomb on one of his adventures in Egypt and it was supposed to be magic. Yugi had confided to her that he hoped the magic in the puzzle would grant him some real friends. This all came down to a pile of golden squiggles. Though she knew some would call it foolish, Airi didn't doubt her grandfather and she hoped for Yugi's sake that this puzzle did have some magic. She clenched the puzzle piece in her fist and closed her eyes.

"Please," she whispered softly, "if I have any say in this matter, please help my brother." a tear appeared in her eyes but she didn't bother to wipe it away. As she leaned over to put the piece back, the tear rolled off her cheek and landed in the partially finished pyramid.

In the dim light she could see the drop of water sitting on the gold surface. She blinked. As if it had been sucked into the gold the drop was gone. Not believing it, she felt the spot with her finger. She felt no moisture at all, but as soon as she touched the puzzle she felt a warm feeling of comfort run through her. The hand that was touching the puzzle felt distinct pressure as if a reassuring hand was squeezing it.

"Don't worry." she heard a warm deep voice in her ear, "Everything will be taken care of."

As quickly as it had started the warmth left and the pressure on her hand was gone. Completely flabbergasted, Airi looked around to see who had spoken. But the only other person in the room was Yugi and he was out cold. She looked back at the puzzle. Even though she wasn't touching the puzzle she still felt the comfort. She still had no idea what was happening but some how she felt like she could trust it.

"Thank you, who ever you are" she whispered.