Why hello there lovelies! As promised I come bearing some new YGO stuff for the new year. This is going to be an ongoing fic and currently (surprisingly) I don't know how long it will be. I actually haven't finished writing it yet which is odd for me.
I'll have you know as well this is something rather special for me to be giving to you. I've been tinkering with this concept for about five or six years and trying to translate it into YuGiOh's taken ten or twelve different drafts playing around with different settings and plots etcetera. Now it's finally cooperating I'm quite happy to share it with you and hopefully you all have some fun with it because I'm very interested in your responses.
UPDATES: I'll try to keep updates to every fortnight but the university exam period might disrupt that. Chapters will be a moderately consistent length in order for me to give you fairly regular updates.
WARNINGS: surreal quasi-religious nonsense, swearing, enough references to start a war, explicit sex (much later you eager beavers) and lots and lots of lies.
Chapter 1: Act 1: Another time, another place, another life maybe?
Atemu was familiar now with the nexus where physical, emotional and spiritual pain intersected overlapping to form a new face of agony. He was however, when he woke in the Hive pressed between the warm bodies of fellow Reapers, now privy to a new sensation that life had never relinquished to him previously. The rush of victorious and triumphant jubilation that adrenaline sent pounding through his body lulled every wound into submission at the instruction of his heart which felt as though it was full to bursting like the taunt skin of a water balloon.
The heat of the artificial sun assaulted the Reapers as they woke within the dusty, arcane, structures of the mine like Hive but Atemu found nothing in the burn of the climate but further reason to celebrate. They were still active, still alive. So many of them had survived the frigid brutality of the Seers that they could return here as brothers to celebrate. The Veil was safe. Atemu had, for the first occasion in this lifetime, done his duty fully realized or not. He had achieved something here his desk job back home could never mimic with all its promises of safety and tedium. This was why men went to war he realized. This rush of blood, this thrill of survival, the joy that brought him, laughing, to boisterous tears as the Reapers closed ranks to chant till the sound rumbled like proud thunder off the interior structures of the Hive down the deepest corners of the earth under their feet. This, right now, was what it felt like to have pride.
To Atemu the blood mingled with his war paint gave an electrifying element to his form a badge of honour on his costumed battle gear. The worn grip of his boots proved he'd earned his stripes. The sweat clinging to his back and across his brown gave him the scent of a victor. His body had been transformed into a trophy. The bodies pressed around him near the mounted ceremonial bonfires, which blazed thick smoke and cast unnatural shadows altering the Hive till it seemed the very picture of Hell, bore the same marks of confrontation. Anyone who was still standing and yet unscathed, like the Watchers and sombre Cobalt, had been shuffled off to the balconies. The Reapers would not shame themselves by dancing, celebrating with, and embracing cowards.
The only figure in the wave of bodies that stood pristine but enfolded, accepted, into the ranks was, of course, Atreyu Damestaire whose power Atemu could sense radiating like an exploding star well before he made him out in the crowd. As beautiful as ever Atreyu once again seemed to straddle the definition of male and female in the delicately slender but steely quality of his appearance. His glow was white, clear, and undiminished by the golden light of the fires and it came not from the diamonds peppering his form, or the perfectly pure linen, or the steel of his lance but from his bare regions of his form, his face, his eyes…
Not for the first time, as Atemu approached, he could appreciate the devotion some Reapers carried for the Faens, for Atreyu's sparse kind, that some had held with them into battle for billions of years. He had seen Atreyu's power many times since having the good fortune to encounter the phenomena, the living star, that Atreyu represented and he marvelled in it still. These creatures, the Faens, the Reapers' oldest allies and dearest siblings had themselves earned every accolade Atemu could grant them.
"The conquering hero returns." Atreyu greeted tangling his arms gently round Atemu's firm shoulders. He was an entity so soft yet, as they brushed, Atemu could feel the pulse of immense power burning electrically under Atreyu's skin.
"Not so much," he deflected beaming, "I still couldn't unlock the full potential of my Core. I'm not a true Specialist yet, just another Reaper, but for the moment I can't think of anything better."
"One day," Atreyu assured him in that evanescent knowing way he had about him, "you'll be a Champion."
"And you'll find Jenzar Fraveous." Atemu promised. He knew, as indomitable as Atreyu's immortal soul was, there was nothing the Faen wanted more than to be reunited with his lover of four billion years. Atemu was still young, he couldn't comprehend something so vast, or someone as mythic and legendary among the Reapers as Atreyu's Champion.
"I'll introduce you."
Yami Sennen, on the other hand, would never accustom himself to the squealing of teenage girls. He thoroughly appreciated their enthusiasm (what man didn't want to be so revered by a hall of lovely young women?) but his eardrums certainly thought there was something to be said for the gloomy clapping of the audiences at book signings. Still as he finished reading under the harsh fluorescent lights from his own, prized, copy of the newly published book he experienced that ever satisfying rush of knowing he'd done something to the liking of his readers.
"Alright!" The announcer clapped exuberantly, probably more than was convincing or called for, rattling the microphone in his hands amongst the rows of teenagers assembled at the convention. "So you've heard it here right from the horse's mouth. I know some of you probably got it on your phones too." he teased to a particularly energetic group of girls. "That was the end of the… third?"
"Second," Yami chuckled into his own microphone on the low stage, though he needn't have given how several people hollered their own corrections.
"Sorry! Sorry!" He laughed. "Second book in the Tranceseries by our good friend Mister Yami Sennen, now are we all pumped for a little Q and A?"
The room was. Yami had to laugh. Uproarious shouting could raise the roof and rattle the walls even in the vast domed convention centre where he was resting his feet this afternoon. It was ridiculous that there were people who would fly him away from home for this and even more so that there were people who would come and listen.
"Okay how bout we start with this lovely lady over here?" The announcer supposed pressing the microphone into the hands of a very well dressed Pikachu though not before warning: "Now remember ya can't ask about politics, religion or sex."
"Nah you can ask about sex," Yami intervened from the stage forced to laugh in the face of the immediate wolf whistling that followed. "No! No! Just kidding, we better not do that, they'll never ask me back again!"
"He's right," the announcer warned playfully, "we wouldn't!"
"Okay," Pikachu was very pleased with her lot in life. Sweet thing must've been about fourteen? The things parents let their kids read these days! Or was it just Yami considered his content more mature than it was? "So two questions: is there going to be a third book? And is there going to be a movie?"
"Definitely a third book," Yami assured, "but no movie I know of. Unless someone wants to offer me a movie deal, which would be much appreciated if there any movie producers here, just as an aside."
"Are the Faens going to get more screen time?" A stocky boy mixed his metaphors next. "We barely get to see Trey!"
"Yeah I know," he sighed, "I love the Faens. Trey, Denn, Vegas, all three of them… Look, keep your eyes open in the next one. I can't promise you anything specific yet, I'm just drafting, but definitely keep an eye out."
"What about Jenzar?"
"Maybe," Yami diverted uneasily swaying on his feet, one hand shoved in his pocket as he laughed. "I know I'm useless but I just finished writing this one!"
Another ripple of giggles ran through the audience.
"Who's your least favourite character?"
"Least?" He repeated amusedly. "That's got to be Cobalt. All the Atlantians are sort of douche bags. They're my least favourite race too. Sure the Seers are going to destroy the Veil and all order in the universe but, hey, the Atlantians are jerks. I don't think anyone likes them really-"
A few members of the audience raised their heads in contradiction.
"Oh! Apparently not! They do have some fans. That's good."
"How'd you come up with the premise for the books?"
"Uh," Yami strained his memory more for show than actual effort, he didn't like this question. His answer always sounded silly to him, unprofessional, so he preferred to lie: "Research. That's a really boring answer I know. I do a lot of reading for the books into old myths, religious texts, stuff like that. I was playing around with a few ideas originally, reincarnation and John Carter and that sort of thing, and this idea wandered into my head from the ether."
"Where'd the name Atemu come from?"
"My father's family is Egyptian. It was my Grandfather's name and it's very connected to those ancient polytheistic sun gods: Amun, Aten, Ra… so I went with it." Another lie but those things had certainly been part of Yami's considerations.
"Would Trey and Atemu ever get together?"
"Not in anything I'm planning but I'm sure there's loads of fanfiction on it."
Now that got a reaction.
The last thing Yami wanted when he escaped his beloved public was to pick up a pen. Four hours at a signing booth, cramping up, and apologising for his terrible handwriting was surprisingly exhausting. There was more joy in it than when he signed for the restrained buyers who came to see him at book stores, more humour and playfulness, but that in itself was tiring. Yami wouldn't be ungrateful and complain loudly, mind you, he was a lucky, lucky, man that his work crossed so far over into sci-fi, fantasy and teen romance genres that his audience had effectively tripled over three years.
It was morose sometimes to think his early publications had gotten such little attention but then not everyone did a Rowling and ran out the gate with a smash hit did they? Least he wasn't a Virginia Woolf or a Sylvia Plath or even a Tolkien (who received pathetic notice till nearly a hundred years later or so the story went last time Yami heard it). Though, every now and again, Yami had the foul fortune of thinking to himself that he was becoming a masculine Stephanie Myer. Lord forbid, but he had to chuckle.
He smiled flicking through his phone in the back of the cab. Damn touch screens mystified him. There was a declaration of love texted from his mother, boisterous American Joey Wheeler wanted to catch up, Ishizu asking about this or that…mundane normalcy ensued. The sort of fodder his day to day generally consisted of when he wasn't playing big famous author.
He sighed, oh lord, not this again.
A third book Atemu? Not wise. The Gate Keeper has strict codes about the secrecy of members of the Reaper Core. Please don't make me get involved. You know I hate to meddle in the Natural World where I can help it. Please reconsider.
Your impatient friend, warning you for the seventh time,
Yami wasn't sure why he bothered to read this trite. The first of these emails had been amusing. An eerie little joke, that wasn't without images from bad crime shows supplied by Yami's imagination concerning stalkers, really just some troll he wrote off as playing a prank on him. It was kind of flattering but when the kid (some cranky teenage boy in his mom's basement probably) refused to listen to his cordial replies and continued to hassle him like this it grated. Some people just couldn't take no for an answer. Surely there was a roleplaying site where this teenager could better spend his time rather than hassling Yami?
It sounded childish when he considered so much of his material, including the original concept he'd built this whole franchise off of, came from silly little dreams but as it did he'd become rather sensitive to influences on his sub-conscious. This kid's emails had sunk into his insidious mind recently. Now his characters were telling him off for his publishing vendettas in his dreams as well. As fascinating as a third novel centred around Atemu being strung up for revealing the secret of his alter-ego astral projecting adventures would be it wasn't really the direction Yami wanted to take things in.
Still he was a little too nice to reply "you need a good therapist" so he settled for closing down the screen and scrolling back to managing his bank accounts.
Jenzar Fraveous was…
In all the time Atemu had stumbled through the ranks of the Reapers he'd never been regarded with the kind of respect he found tonight. He had succeeded in discovering and quelling a serious Seer uprising, his name was no connected with Atreyu Damestaire and the Champion Amar Seirramoura
Yami grumbled, worrying his face in his hands, it was all dead ends and plot holes.
Where was the satisfying next stage? Where was the logical leap in narrative to the next big bad for his hero to valiantly face down, in superb style, once and for all silencing all his critics and showcasing his true abilities? Well, not Yami's apartment apparently. He groaned slumping back into the aching grey couch which was no doubt doing his back in. He had money now he should by a new one.
Beside him the cat, fat, disinterested and contemptuous in his old age, twisted onto his back in an obvious request for Yami to cough up a decent belly rub. Lord Coco preferred making demands traditionally and was not at all thrilled with the half assed attempt Yami made of his affection a moment later after such a kind request. The cat sneezed, not because he needed to, Yami was sure it was a sneering gesture to inform him how despicably incompetent his fluffy master found him. Struck by the house cat's expression Yami tried his best to deliver a more focused chin scratch in forgiveness. Nope, that wasn't flying either, so tossing him aside with disgruntled disappointment Coco shimmied his fat ass off the couch and strut out of the room.
Great, now the cat was disappointed in him. Which was about as grand, in the generally scheme of things, as failing to meet your mother's expectations in Egyptian terms. Yami snorted throwing his hands up. Coco would leave him for the next best thing as soon as he brought home the bacon and got a girlfriend one of these days. The feline had already made eyes at Ishizu, who was much more dexterous, and one day Coco might just run off with her if Yami wasn't careful. It would serve him right too for failing to appreciate such a fine example of the feline race. What super beings they were.
Yeah it was about time to crash and call it a night when he made himself giggle.
Atemu loved phasing into the Hive. Most days the Gate Keeper dropped Reapers straight into active assignments. There was very little briefing for professionals, very little explanation, which had once been terribly frustrating to Atemu until that intuitive sense of instinct had given him a guideline to hone his skills.
All Reaper work was mainly trouble shooting. Dropping into one realm or another along the Supernatural side of the Veil and managing the movement across the border or halting some infringement on the natural order. What was wrong was not always clear. What needed fixing and how to do it often worked off what Atemu considered "Wonderland Logic" and the dangers you faced were often so immense that false names and false faces were a must in maintaining a protective glamor.
Well, what was worse, he could've been a Faen.
Creatures like Atreyu received and needed no explanation of their mission. They didn't train other Reapers, like Atemu sometimes did, or work in large groups. Faens knew, innately, what fission was causing friction in the Veil and how to fix it. They were Fairies almost, totally submerged in the supernatural logic of this side of the Veil, totally aware, easily enfolded, masterful and always so enthused or nearly mischievous with their tasks.
Atemu felt immense pleasure from his successes, especially when the thrill of danger was involved, but with no current memory of his past lives (something he grossly needed to remedy if he was to improve his skills) he couldn't take the easy going pleasure from the experience Atreyu did with four billion years of experience at his fingertips. Every mission, every 'Hunt' as they called them in the Hive, was a challenge that tested him. Not to mention that as Atemu often worked alone, as was expected, he had little help in deciphering the difficulties of his task and if he failed all he could do was phase out and let the Gate Keeper send in another Reaper. Which was an intensely insulting failure for any Reaper let alone a Specialist like Atemu was tagged to be.
The Hive was quiet tonight. Everyone must've been on duty. Either that or phased out, awake, living out the mundane portion of their lives on the Natural World side of the universal Veil. It was still quite amazing for the catacomb structures of the central hub to be so barren, however, given that there were, at least, several hundred thousand Reapers and several more thousand Specialist or Champion Reapers on Earth alone (never minding the other planets which made up the universe).
The Hive was, empty or full, still gorgeous. It was ancient, arcane, it had been structured in that first life, when the universe began and order gave things shape for the first time, in a place between the Natural and Supernatural sides of the Veil. It had true texture and stability to it, like the physical world, bold mine like structures of sandstone etched over millenniums in a place where time had no effect and withered no artefact. The Hive was lucky to have ended more in the Supernatural realm than the Natural however. It formed a nexus between them, yes, but here isolated from the physical world it could never truly be destroyed by the harsher structures of the Natural World like erosion or physics. It was alive with feelings, vibes, senses, lines of power and energy that flowed in and out between life and death and what was old magic and what was new.
What Atemu loved, even more, was the appearance of his astral body. It was so imbued with mettle. A kind of energy and stamina that came from his will rather than his diet or environment. His soul, his imagination, gave him form here as a shield his core, aka his soul, more an identifier for his immortal companions than a necessity. This body was fluid, as capable as he believed it to be, capable of everything he ever wanted. It gave him such bravery to know that here no fall could hurt him, no wound was permanent, and no task was impossible. More than anything he loved this body's resistance to gravity. He loved the deep tan hue of his skin and the vermillion of his eyes… he was gushing now with self-serving happiness which would have to be done away with.
Watchers were here tonight. The Reapers weren't fond of the children who had built Atlantis as a place to sit and pass judgements on the rest of the universes' components. As a matter of fact no one was really very fond of the Watchers (the Clerics, the Guardian Angles or the Healers as they were also know) who critiqued and sat about taking no action. Atemu could appreciate why, some long time ago in a life long since passed, he and many others has destroyed Atlantis and scattered the Watchers thinly. Their arrogance was insufferable. Still Cobalt, that particularly snide hide of a man who preferred making nasty remarks at Atemu, was nowhere to be found so there was no point and no need to stir trouble with his relatives.
"Atemu Pheramora." It was a beautiful summon. How true names all managed to ring so wonderfully to the ear was a mystery to Atemu.
"Amar Seirramoura!" He greeted joyously.
It was a matter of brotherhood to show that you knew the full, true, name of your friends but here it was a mark of some prestige on Atemu's part that he was permitted to say the full name of such a legendary Champion. Champions were the greatest of the Reaper Specialists. Amar, after all, was the partner of a Faen (not Atreyu sadly who was still searching for the missing Jenzar Fraveous but another Faen called Denn Flenrous) and had been since his first life time. He was a true professional in every respect. He was someone to admire and aspire to.
"The Gate Keeper wants to see you," Amar sighed. "You've trespassed little brother."
"Trespassed?" Atemu didn't like the suggestion. It implied he'd broken the code which they all depended upon to keep order behind the scenes. "How?"
"We all know how Atemu," Amar snorted, "you've written another damn book."
Here was the nasty junction where Yami's fantasy dream world and reality intersected and it had been causing mounting problems for Atemu. The other Reapers were generally forgiving of misdeeds, everyone was an asshole in one life time or another, but some took liberty instead as an opportunity to loudly voice their opinions. Some in the Hive had been very aggressive as of late regarding the books Yami had written which were attached to his alter-ego Atemu in his dreams.
"Go see It." Amar ordered with a reassuring, good humoured, pat to Atemu's shoulder. "Go on."
The Gate Keeper was neither male nor female but given its associations in Earth culture with Hades, Hell, and the Grim Reaper Atemu tended to see it as male. The Gate Keeper was his Supervisor. Every Soul Type had one: the Christians called theirs God or Christ, the Muslims called theirs Allah, the Pagans had Gaia, the Atheist hid his behind Mother Science and Atemu had the Gate Keeper. To know him was an intensely personal relationship for a Reaper. To argue with him was painful to the heart and the disposition.
The Gate Keeper rested (though he never slept because he possessed no body and no form in the Natural World outside his children the Reapers) in the inner sanctum of the Hive as the brain of the institution which held them all together. His power hid its location from enemies, his power held them together, organised their missions, organised their reincarnations and to Atemu he appeared quite tall and imposing. The Gate Keeper was a long figure, unclear and black, with spindly fingers towering over Atemu at eight or nine feet tall.
"Atemu Pheramora." His voice was rich, generous, thick and comforting like a black boxer or a western movie star but so rasped with age. He greeted Atemu with the beckon of one long arm where the definition between fingers, hand and forearm were blurred at best. The whole limb appeared some times to be one long spider at others totally normal.
"Gate Keeper," if the Supervisor had any other name it was inaccurate and unnecessary given his duties, "you wanted me?"
"Atreyu Damestaire." The Gate Keeper called though his voice never seemed to rise.
Atemu reignited that childish joy of watching the Faens manifest from nothing in the blinding explosions of light that brought them back from the outer regions of the Veil like shining stars.
Atreyu had been hunting tonight. He was beautiful. The offset of thick leather boots, a long dark trench coat, tight gloves with his pale skin and the smooth ovals of a plastic consistency that tonight shone in a thousand different colours, circling the crown of his skull like a halo, were magical. His Needle, an extension of his magic which he used to mend holes in the Veil, was a long, narrow, silver sword tonight and it gave Atemu an impression of the sort of realm Atreyu had been hunting undercover in this time.
"Gate Keeper," Atreyu cooed.
The Faens were not children of the Gate Keeper, as the Reapers were, but as they were forbidden from speaking with each other or their Supervisor, Third-Star, for security reasons the Gate Keeper acted as guardian and commander to the Faens. Atreyu especially held such an obvious affection for him it rolled off him, loving, as though this intimidating being was some surrogate parent.
"Atemu's violations have put you in danger." The Gate Keeper swept and though he had no eyes Atemu was sure he was being ignored. "The Seers now know with certainty that you are without Jenzar Fraveous. You have no body guard, no Champion, for the time being and that makes you vulnerable."
"You're powerful child," an odd flourish of affection in that was returned by the Gate Keeper, "but if you could face all of Chaos' armies by yourself you would have no need for Jenzar Fraveous. You're contrastingly delicate. It's one of the downsides of your core's self-perpetuating magic. We've brought in the Watchers to help us search. Finding Jenzar Fraveous must be a priority. In the meantime Atemu will escort you."
"Atemu's a baby." Atreyu defended. "He hasn't crossed the Wall. He doesn't remember his past lives. He only has his experience and abilities gathered from these short years. It won't be enough when staring down a gaggle of Seers!"
"Atemu's a Specialist. Inactive maybe but in his heart he's capable. He's proven he can handle difficult challenges and facing them consistently might help jog his memories."
"But…" Atreyu wavered quietly with something that escaped simple language. "Only Jenzar…"
"I know." The Gate Keeper swore. "Forgive me for punishing you in trying to punish him. Atemu deserves to be put to work."
"But I haven't done anything!" Atemu found himself shouting out of turn drawing the attention of both the creatures, entities, which were locked in debate.
"You've broken the number one command: Secrecy." The Gate Keeper rounded in an intense hiss that sent fear through every receptor of fabricated Atemu's form. His confidence drained like a breeze. "You've compromise order on a multiplicity of levels we must control the damage of. You've exposed the vulnerability of our greatest resources. You've been a fool. Till you can learn to curb your mouth you'll be stripped of privileges, privy to no intelligence, and worked till you bleed for your redemption child now silence yourself!"
"I understand." Atreyu mediated gently easing the harsh wave of antagonism crushing down on Atemu as the Faen reeled the Gate Keeper's attention back. "I'll keep an eye on him."
"His job is to keep you safe." The Gate Keeper clarified. "Don't be too sacrificial."
"I won't." He promised in that sweet, soft, clarity which Atreyu's voice seemed to always hold striding from round the podium towards Atemu.
Leaving the sanctum had never been a relief to Atemu since his first, tense, encounter with the Gate Keeper nearly four years ago before Yami had ever put pen to paper. He found himself quaking, unable to stop, as Atreyu glided beside him down the ramps of the Hive. Was this what it felt like to be a sinner? To be a turncoat in an age where the King cut your head from your shoulders for such treason? He'd never felt the Gate Keeper's rage directed at him. The Gate Keeper had always been such a model of patient, steadfast, placidity and to feel that second father, that first father who transcended lifetimes with Atemu, furious at him…
"Don't cry." Atreyu urged in a whisper. "Crying doesn't achieve anything. We all fail sometimes and I've spent months trying to warn you."
Atemu found himself staring into Atreyu's sweet face. It was harder than he had ever seen it but there was some merciful sympathy. Was Trey mad at him too? Oh not that…
"You're a warrior. You have to pick yourself up and move forward. If you stop fighting you'll be cut down." Another of Atreyu's characteristic anecdotes. Sometimes Atemu considered that in one life time Atreyu might've been Confucius. It didn't seem unreasonable. After all Hitler had been a Watcher, not Cobalt surprisingly, but a Watcher. "Now go back and rest. Your hunts are about to get a whole lot harder."
"Do you hate me also?" Atemu asked desperately. If he'd lost Atreyu as an ally in conjunction he might fall to pieces.
"A little," Atreyu confessed coolly, "but you couldn't understand how much it hurts me not to have Jenzar. So it'll pass and I'll forgive you Atemu but for now my disposition is weak. Bear with me. Go home."
Atemu had never, in the real world, known a creature as infinitely disarming, curiously delicate, and contrastingly devastating as Atreyu but neither had he ever met someone as sweet, as loving, as gentle, kind and compassionate. To hurt Atreyu's overstuffed heart, which he took so much pride in appealing too, was perhaps just as great a blow to hear crystallised as losing the Gate Keeper's patience.
"Go home Atemu." Atreyu urged his fingers running, soft and cool, over Atemu's cheek as he slipped past him.
Yami woke with his lids fused together from sickly, burning, tears. He croaked, coughing his chest up tightly through his throat, and found his mood sullen when he forced himself up in bed only to bury his face back in his hands moments later to brush at a last few tears.
What a horrible little chapter to add to his narrative, he coughed hoarsely, sniffing through the pounding in his temples. Yami thought that it was silly to be so attached to his characters but nightmares tended to stir up unconscious fears he supposed. Maybe it was his father, who had died when he was too young? Or that girl he'd broken up with years ago? Or something else that the dream had invoked which had stirred such a reaction? Either way he found himself more exhausted than he had been when he'd lain his head down.
He needed to get out of his stuffy apartment after a dream like that. He needed to clear the air somewhere fresh and try his hand at some new ideas in a different direction. Sure to write about it would be emotionally charged but, honestly, he was a little too ashamed in himself to put it to paper. It seemed too personal. He needed something else, some way of veiling these ideas into a different plot, and he needed to unpack whatever was bothering him by cleaning out his system.
People Watching might do the trick and coffee always helped he decided as he tossed aside the notion of breakfast in favour of a shower. Usually Yami might've taken the incentive to drive to the airport, sit at one of their bad plastic tables with his laptop, and spend all day watching furtively but his head ached too badly this morning to hit the road. There was a little place not too far away for artist feet to roam where people spent all day, most of them university students, loading up on delicious calories. They had a cake, Yami pondered it more energetically as he dragged on his shirt, which was so gooey that what was sponge and what was frosting was impossible to discern. It seemed just the place to load up on sugar and that natural endorphin perk: cocoa.
The sun was warm, glorious really if you were in the right mood and under the right light, but Yami had other positives to interpret as he strolled: he wasn't a university student any more, he had a plucky bank account, he had a popular series in production, he was reasonably attractive and about as healthy as a first year art student (which wasn't saying much but gyms were expensive). He tried to focus on those positives. He tried to think of something really brave, really spur of the moment, he could do today to make today special in order to counteract his nightmare. All ideas he probably wouldn't pursue. He wasn't some brave knight figure like his protagonist. Atemu had been modelled with this moral fibre and indestructible dignity in inexperience that Yami was a little too withering to follow the example of in real life.
The café was actually surprisingly quiet today but it was, Yami reasoned, ten am on a Sunday which stripped all kinds of contenders from the picture at the best of times. It was such a sleepy little place. The staff was just perking up, it was still a little cold outside, and everyone was generally half awake with the exception of one person actually.
In the far corner, under a lovely window framing the back courtyard, was a lovely young man who Yami found very amusing immediately. He had his eyes blissfully closed, lips parted, an earphone bud in one ear. His fingers were pitter-pattering across the table top beside his mug and textbooks like the digits of a composer over a keyboard. After a moment, totally unconscious of his audience, he gave up with the sporadic twitching of his fingers when the pace of the song obviously became too much and wandered into an all-out air-guitar solo.
Yami couldn't help himself. That was the kind of spirit he need today. So, in much the same fashion he'd met American Joey Wheeler, he wandered through the café to tap the slender young man on the shoulder.
The boy started, jumping, and blinked dumbly up at him with the most stunning eyes Yami had seen since he was six years old. They were… no purple, lavender, amethyst and violent were too bland, too overused, for his purpose on this occasion. What did he always use for describing Atreyu's vivid gaze? That's right! Indigo or, Yami's favourite, aubergine. Yes aubergine was perfectly intense for the shade of these bemused eyes.
The young man was a good sport though. He tugged out his ear-bud, laughing and turned the gentlest crimson.
"Sorry," he giggled. "Was I being too loud?"
"No, no," Yami chuckled. "I was just wondering if you were waiting for someone?"
Now this was where things went one of two ways. Either the poor thing would turn very shy and mumble, given how empty the café was, or he would, hopefully, be vivacious and sociable. Really the young man was so petite Yami supposed the first would be their but but even he was surprised occasionally.
"Nope," the stranger quirked merrily to Yami's relief, "pull up a chair!"
"Thank you kind sir," Yami beamed. The sweet, un-accusing, enthusiasm was infectious as he lay down his laptop bag on the table top where the boy swept him some clear space. "My name's Yami by the way."
"Pleasure to meet you," he answered bright and bubbly, the hands in his lap pressed between his knees as his feet flared out. "I'm Yugi."
"What were you listening to?" He inquired in fascination.
"Kansas," Yugi laughed to his continued surprise, "Carry on My Wayward Son always gets my blood pumping."
"Classic," he returned grinning, "all-time favourite?"
"I'm fickle, it changes by the week," the smaller admitted easily. He was brimming with such casual confidence it was quite astounding and he took to Yami's cues to open the conversation up readily. "At the moment Kansas, everything on the 30 Seconds to Mars This is War album, and FLAGare my favourites."
"Fight like a Girl," he elaborated, "it's by this alternative American, really awesome, you?"
"I'm boring," Yami confessed straining his memory, "um… Samson, Breakeven and… Takeoffs & Landings by Ataris." He decided finally tossing up one hand to let it fall back into his lap.
"Oh," Yugi purred cheekily, "sensitive man."
"They're beautiful songs." Yami shrugged.
"They are," the boy conceded before testing him with: "I Will Follow You into the Dark?"
"Makes me cry like a little girl," the author sighed back, half chuckling.
"Me too!" Yugi laughed honestly. "I balled my eyes out the first time I heard it but The Call by Regina Spektor always gets me right here." He emphasised running his fingers tightly over his chest.
"Do you play anything?"
"You're kidding?" Yugi scoffed good humouredly, smiling, as he reigned his sarcasm back with a softer expression. "No, I'm just very passionate about good vibes."
"Nothing wrong with that," Yami chuckled. "Mind if I just grab a coffee?"
"No, go right ahead," he encouraged dipping into his pocket for a very specific set of dollars, "mind grabbing me one of the chocolate gelato shakes?"
"Can you watch my stuff?"
"Like a ravenous animal." He swore.
"Then you," Yami decided pushing back his chair playfully, "have a deal."
"Thank you." Yugi chirped.
"So you're a student?" He supposed easily a moment later when he slipped back into the seat beside Yugi with their goods. "What are you studying?"
The slender boy took his drink with a grateful, radiant, smile and nodded briefly as he sipped, hand rolling in a waiting gesture as he swallowed, before continuing. It was absolutely captivating to an exhausted Yami looking for something light hearted to charm him.
"History's my strong suit and English is my passion," was the eventual response. "Add some Anthropology, because it's amazingly interesting, and you've got my one way ticket to unemployment."
"I did a creative writing major a few years ago," Yami sighed to Yugi's appreciative groan, "damned myself I think. Dropped out."
"Published anything since?"
"Yeah actually," he responded proudly, "I'm very lucky people buy it."
"That's great," Yugi grinned, "anything I'd know?"
"They're called the Trance Series?" he shrugged half hopeful half embarrassed by whatever Yugi's perceptions might be. "I just put out a new one called Lapse."
"Really?" The boy coughed round his straw. "Those are really popular! My friends are all over me to read them. They're all over tumblr too. That's amazing! I swear some of them are going to be viciously jealous I got to meet you in person, one missed a con where you were speaking in January, but I can't say I've had the chance to read them myself yet."
"It's always a little embarrassing to cough up as a grown man writing a teenage bestseller." Yami grinned. "What do you like to read?"
"Shakespeare." Yugi answered immediately. "I know that sounds really clichéd and trite but Mrs Dallowaymakes me want to kill myself. I'm a sucker for bad teenage stuff too actually, my guilty pleasure, along with old romance novels. You know one of my friends, Rebecca, has this theory about mass homoerotic subtext in your series. She's really quite adamant about it."
"Definitely grounds for it," he shrugged, "I skipped round it with a loophole."
"Like Anne Rice?"
"Yeah!" He laughed happily to Yugi's grin. "Just like that actually!"
"So what are they about?" Yugi demanded. "I want to hear it from the horse's mouth."
"Do you write?" Yami diverted momentarily and Yugi, now blushing ever so slightly, nodded into his lap as he drew the straw back into his mouth. "Um, well, they're about guy who astral projects in his sleep to all sorts of supernatural places and gets swept up in this covert war against chaos in modern day Japan. Turns out he's part of a race of ancient order-keepers and he should be a lot more impressive than he is. There's lots of stuff about reincarnation, religion, history, love and bravery. All the big fairy-tale themes make an entrance."
"So fantasy come sci-fi sort of?" Yugi quirked as he listened, quite clearly musing, "interesting, definitely, what's your main character like?"
"One of those heroic underdog types," he answered, really he was beginning to feel increasingly nervous about his content. Apparently attractive, vivacious, creatures had that effect on him. "The latest one's giving me hell at the moment though so tell me about you?"
"Ah…" Yugi turned scarlet with an explanatory flourish of his hand. "I write historical fiction, period dramas, sort-of fantasy. Mainly it's for stress relief. Nothing I'd ever publish. I'd go all Sylvia Plath."
"Ted Hughes was an asshole." Yami consented passionately. "I'm sure your stuff is beautiful."
"It's personal," he shrugged dismissively, "private venting space to go in a deep dark box somewhere safe afterwards. Ignoring all that though how's yours beating you up?"
"Argh," Yami sighed, "working on a new book and I feel like I have nowhere to go. Narrative obviously isn't complete but at the moment I'm writing myself into dead ends. My muse hates me."
"I never really have that problem," Yugi admitted crossing one leg over the problem, "my problem is I make myself too upset or get really pumped and have to go to the gym. Mental energy always seems to end up as physical energy with me."
"Sensitive?" Yami found that very cute after Yugi's initial teasing to the same effect.
"Optimistic," Yugi assured him using his milkshake to point, "very stable. Hate crying."
"Why?" He picked up avidly. "I never understood that. What's wrong with crying? It's healthy."
"It makes me feel weak," Yugi began to Yami's sigh, "no really! Within myself I feel compromised. I know it doesn't help anything. It's like confessing that you've given up and I can'tbear to do that. It's a waste of energy and it weakens my control and it's just messy when you're trying to yell at your enemies or it gets in the way when you're trying to help your friends. I'd rather tighten my straps and fix the problem before I cry and then, usually, I don't need to cry anymore."
Yugi was, evidently, very passionate about the issue as he gesticulated. He hinted at past experiences, toughening and weathering events, which always entrapped Yami's imagination in conversation. It was criminal curiosity on his part especially when people took on that deeply vibrant look in their eyes. Yugi, slender, sweet and optimistic, obviously had things that called for that kind of dignity of character Yami was sure was lying under the surface. There was a confidence in him that lacked arrogance, Yugi was aware of his abilities and his weaknesses, yet he was assured in himself without being obnoxious. That took some tempering, like soldiers after seeing battle, it didn't manifest with no reason unless the person was exceptionally lucky.
"Do you have to tighten your straps a lot?" Yami queried, people were social creatures, more often than not they revelled in a chance to come clean about themselves with a willing audience.
"I can deal with it." Yugi smiled gently and Yami waited, in vain, for him to go further.
"Like what?" He eventually surrendered.
"Just stuff," the young man shrugged, "people problems everyone puts up with I guess."
Now that was even more interesting to Yami, who spent a great deal of time watching 'people problems', because it was in his experience very rare that someone felt no need to chalk up their achievements proudly. Yami was guilty of it, he wasn't a secret sort, and Yugi seemed very forthcoming about his opinions which meant that it was either embarrassing or serious enough to downplay and shuffle aside. Yami doubted, in this smooth confidence, that it was embarrassment. Mafia big hitters didn't talk about their work, soldiers didn't talk about their work if they could help it, and doctors didn't talk about their work. They felt no need or had no desire for the complications of an outside understanding. Usually it seemed to mean that it was tiring work, things that were intense or important, things that were better forgotten when in light conversation.
"You're good at dealing with everyone's disasters?" Yami joked gently.
"If it's not going to be on your tomb stone it's not worth panicking about," Yugi recited, "and as long as no one dies today then it's a good day. Hope for the best and expect the sky to fall if you ask me."
Oh he couldn't stand it. The curiosity was nail biting. Yami had too much of a hard-on for mystery novels and he was too easily frustrated by undecided plots like The Turn of the Screw for this but Yugi smiled again, knowing and cheeky, and Yami gave up pushing. Half the joy of knowing people was unfolding the story, getting in on the secret, being enfolded and trusted. It was the days when long time friend Joey Wheeler told Yami about his blind sister and abusive father that affected him most. Those were matched only by those seemingly perfect afternoons, of unexpected content happiness, that humankind couldn't systematically recreate if they tried.
"So what are you doing here?" Yugi murmured lazily after a lapse of silence.
"Lightening the mood," Yami explained, "I had a bad night and I wanted inspiration."
"Studying for a Research Paper on the French Revolution," the smaller cringed expressively at his papers, tongue jutting out. "Are you feeling any better after your bad night?"
"I am now." He attempted. Yami was a dreadful flirt, that was probably why he couldn't write any romantic chemistry into his work, but you couldn't just let these gorgeous moments pass when they handed you easy puns.
"Me too," Yugi beamed, but the expression was small and soft more in his eyes than on his lips which spread only a little but seemed to lift his whole face. Yami was sure he withered in the glow of it. "How old are you?"
"Argh," Yami groaned, moment ruined. "Jesus, I'd rather not think about it."
"I'm twenty," Yugi replied bravely, "are you more than ten years older than me?"
"No, thank the Lord," he laughed but he was cutting it a little close. "That okay?"
"Till I steal your driver's licence that's great," Yugi winked, Yami loved wit. "Do we get to be friends?"
"Can I take you out to dinner instead?" He asked hopefully.
"I never turn down food." Yugi answered swiping his hand through the air to put a period on the discussion seriously before giggling: "Sounds nice."
"Sounds fantastic to me." Yami sighed a little more enthusiastically than he ought which Yugi appeared to take as a good joke on his part thankfully. "Are you doing anything tonight?"
"Unfortunately," he clarified unhappily then without ever sounding hopeful or needy like Yami must've, "but I'm free from then on."
Yami revelled in (but was terribly jealous) that for someone considerably younger Yugi had more romantic swagger about him than the author feared he ever would possess. Every offer didn't invoke a great leap of joy for Yugi like it did for Yami who had difficulty communicating with anyone delightful when he tried to sound likeable or witty.
"Monday night then?" He proposed.
"It's a date," Yugi pursed, "literally."
Yugi laughed at him. Yami didn't care.
As always I'm very glad to be back and I hope you all enjoyed! Update in two weeks, with more dreadful jokes, so please keep your eyes open.
Have a good night lovelies~