AN: I don't own them, I just use them to work through some of my angst issues. xD
"For what I've done
I start again
And whatever pain may come
Today this ends
I'm forgiving what I've done!"
-"What I've Done" by Linkin Park
The beat of the basketball is all absorbing.
There's no room left for other thoughts.
"Alright boys, time to hit the lockers!" Coach Mullins yelled. "Go home, get some rest. I'll see you next week."
Joey grimaced as he left the court.
He really didn't want to have to go home, or anywhere else for that matter, because no matter where he went his thoughts followed him. He had lost his best friend, and was helpless to do anything about it. It went against his nature to dwell on things, but it was hard to get Yugi off his mind.
It probably wouldn't bother him so much if he could actually do something about it, like with the Orichalcos. At least then there had been places to look and something to fight.
Now there wasn't. Oh sure, he had pounded the Pharaoh, but to be honest, that was more surprise than anger. He was angry in jumbled, splayed out like an octopus sort of way that defied direction at one single person. They had all forgotten Yugi, and every single one of them knew that that was unforgivable. In their circle of friends, only Duke Devlin and Rebecca Hawkins had remained untouched by guilt and burdened solely with grief. Joey envied them because most of the time, the grief was the least of it.
The effects of the guilt were clear, especially in the Pharaoh. He had become unbearable pathetic, a shell of his former self since the afternoon when Yugi's absence had been found out. He had always had a way of causing the people around him to feel the same way he did but when it had been boundless confidence, it hadn't seemed so strange. Now that he walked around school in a depressed slump, not just his former friends but everyone avoided him. Girls that had swooned as his feet couldn't come within five feet of him without starting to cry and even the coach excused him more often than not. The Pharaoh never asked for mercy, but everyone seemed to be compelled to give it to him except for those who knew why he was like this. Even Joey had a hard time blaming him when he saw him, but he just had to recall what had happened to Yugi, what the Pharaoh really was, and it became a heckuva lot easier.
But Joey didn't want to remember. That was why he has made basketball his life. Automatic friends, no magic and well . . . picture Yug' being proud of him. He almost went back to his gang, but he couldn't throw his life away like that. Instead, basketball saved his life.
He decided to go to the park and see if any of the guys were there for an afterschool game, until he saw someone he hadn't really expected to see again. Bakura and Tristan were standing right near the basketball court and arguing about something. Then Tristan pushed Bakura down.
"Hey, what's going on here?" he called, running up to them.
Bakura glowered at Tristan. "You are fortunate, both that I am not as I was, and that Joseph should appear. Otherwise, you be in the Shadow Realm now."
With that, the real Bakura was back in control. He turned to Joey and said, "We can bring Yugi back!"
"WHAT?" Joey pulled Bakura to his feet and gave Bakura a bear hug. "This is the best news ever! What could the two of you be fighting about at a time like this?"
Bakura looked away and so Tristan said, "I don't want to bring Yugi back."
"You're joking, aren't you, man? Of course you do!" Joey laughed. "Now things can go back to normal!"
But Tristan was shaking his head as he replied, "Joey, don't you see? Bakura wants to bring him back with a magic staff. Magic killed Yugi! If we keep playing with it, it'll kill the rest of us too! Yugi would want us to leave it alone."
"We can't know that because Yugi's not around to ask! We anyway, we never would have let him get away with that when he was alive, so why should we now that he's dead?"
Tristan growled, "Because we've finally been able to live normal lives, that's why! Why should we risk that now?"
"You're worrying about your own life at a time like this?" Joey raged.
"And yours, and Tea's and everybody else who got involved in Yugi's mess!"
"Man, I don't care! Neither would Tea! That's what our friendship has always been about – having each other's backs! We've faced everything from the Shadow Realm to murdering computer programs to evil soul-sucking cards and you're worried about one little staff?"
Tristan said, "Well, our friendship wasn't very strong, was it? It didn't survive a magical dark spirit who acted like all of our best friends, but ended up sucking the life from the guy who brought us all together."
"Then don't we owe it to Yugi to bring him back?" a voice said from behind Joey.
They turned to see Tea who had tears streaming down her face. Fate had brought the three of them together for a chance to right the wrong they had never meant to cause.
"Tea, how long have you been listening in?" Bakura asked softly.
"Long enough to see Joey's still Joey, but Tristan's changed. I don't really care if you want to bring him back, Tristan. I've changed too, enough to see that friendship isn't everything. Sometimes things happen, things no friendship can survive. But Yugi . . . we never should have forgotten him. If we can make this right, then we have to. I'm not expecting things to go back to normal like Joey is, but I'll kill you myself if you try to stop us from fixing this," Tea said, and she was right. She had changed. Outward she looked much the same, but in her eyes was something Mai-like that was in opposition to everything Tea used to fight for – an acceptance of loneliness backed up by a will of iron.
"Fine," Tristan replied. "I'm out. Whatever happens is on your guys heads."
Joey didn't care. He walked away with Tea and Bakura behind him.
The path to Yugi's house was so familiar that even after half a year Joey could have found the way with his eyes closed. Tea practically did, crying silently the entire way there, though Joey could swear they were tears of joy. Soon they were there.
Getting to the Pharaoh was a little more difficult than they had thought it would be though. He wouldn't come to the door, no matter how much they knocked so Joey decided to do things the old fashioned way.
He climbed up the tree near Yugi's window and saw the Pharaoh lying on the bed looking up at the ceiling. The room was in exactly the same condition it had been last time Joey was over, half a year ago. Joey felt a familiar twinge of pity for the Pharaoh, but pushed it away. This wasn't the time for that.
Joey tapped on the window. "Pharaoh! Let me in!"
The Pharaoh looked up and went to open the window.
"What do you want, Joey?"
"You can bring Yugi back!" Joey exclaimed.
The Pharaoh growled. "Do not mock me. If Yugi could be brought back, if that was in my power, then I would have done so long ago." There was a catch in his voice when he finished with, "He's gone."
"No, listen! Bakura's father found a Staff that, in the hands of a pharaoh, can bring people back, so Bakura brought it here! All we need is you!"
The Pharaoh's eyes widened and he had to reach out a hand to steady himself on the desk. His mind seemed to be racing as he said, "Yugi…Where is Bakura?"
"Outside with Tea."
The Pharaoh grabbed the Puzzle and raced downstairs in a blur, flung himself outside, and demanded, "Where is this staff?"
Bakura handed it over. The Pharaoh gripped and stopped to think for a second. Then he said, "Bakura, let me speak to your darker half."
Bakura nodded, and the Thief Lord took over.
The Pharaoh said to him, "Do you think the god cards would be enough to please them?"
Bakura's yami answered, "They might be. You are practically Ausar's brother so I would think he would want to do this for you. Offer up the Puzzle for the release of my people as well."
The Pharaoh nodded. Without a word of explanation to the others, he took the Egyptian god cards and laid them on the head of the couch, one on each couch cushion. He pointed the Staff of Ausar in three directions, at the sun through the window, at himself and at the cards. The Staff gleamed three times and suddenly, Yugi was materializing on the couch while Atem lay unconscious on the ground.
Author note: Don't worry, explanations are forthcoming, and Yami Bakura will probably the one giving them (thanks to InsaneEvilLittleEmmy. ^^ I wasn't so sure what to do with him, but I think he'll be doing the epilogue . . .) . Just not so much next chapter. I think next chapter is my favorite, better than Atem's angst, but I'm also thinking there won't be so much explaining. I'll also considering doing a real sequel, because The Trickery of the Light was more just part two of The Subtle Hunger of the Shadows. We'll see.
Also, I just realized Tristan was last chapter and it was supposed to be Joey. Oops. Sorry about that. ^^;;