Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh. Any characters you may not recognize from the show are mine and may not be used without permission.
A/N: What's that? Is that the sound of a sequel I hear? Why yes, yes it is. Welcome past, new and future readers to Shine To Guide You, the sequel of my first ever Yu-Gi-Oh story Give Myself Away. Camp NaNo August (yes, another 50,000 words in one month) is in full effect and I was wondering what I could write when it dawned on me that I had the perfect little story bubbling away… So here we are. Enjoy!
Note: This takes place about two weeks after the end of GMA.
Don't give up
It's just the hurt that you hide
When you're lost inside
I... I'll be there to find you
Don't give up
Because you want to burn bright
If darkness blinds you
I... I will shine to guide you
Josh Groban - You Are Loved
The room was dark, lit only by a handful of flames. There was one candle for every color of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple, plus a single gray one that had been placed at the head. A smaller set of black and white candles, unlit and alternating in color, had been set in a loose circle around the first seven. In the middle of it all was a duel monsters card, barely visible in the flickering gloom. Every few seconds the card would pulse with a dull light and the graphics on top would shift, almost like the soul inside was struggling to come alive.
A door opened on the far side of the room and a young girl entered. She was dressed in a pink frock that made her look even paler and younger than normal. Her white hair had been tied up into two pigtails that trailed almost down to her waist. She walked towards the candles, her step purposeful. When she was about a foot away, the air around her body shimmered and trembled, and two wings flashed into existence on her back. One was an angel wing, grand and beautiful in white feathered glory, and the other was shaped like that of a bat, dark and seductive in the way it curled from her shoulder blade.
The sudden appearance of the wings didn't seem to surprise the girl. She knelt, her knees grinding into the hot dry sand, and inclined her head so that she was staring at the ground. Her wings were folded neatly behind her, giving her the illusion of some exotic creature, torn between heaven and hell, come to save and destroy the world in the same breath. She clasped her hands beneath her chin as though she was praying and pressed her pale pink lips against a small object in a reverent kiss of faith… or good will.
Behind her, the door slammed open violently. A man strode in, blue eyes dark and angry. He swept his gaze over the room and growled when he spotted the card. "It's still not working!" he declared, carefully maintaining his distance. "What's wrong with it?"
"I don't know, Master," the girl said quietly, her voice barely audible in the otherwise silent room. "I did everything according to the scroll."
Uttering an angry growl, the man paced back and forth a few times. "Fix it!" he commanded at last.
"I can't. I don't know how."
"Then figure it out! You're here because you promised you would be of use to me, Amane. If you can't help then I won't hesitate in sending you to the graveyard." He smirked cruelly, enjoying the way she flinched at the implication. "You have one week and if you haven't figured out how to do it, I'm going to find someone who can. Understood?"
"Yes," Amane whispered with a ragged inhale. Her body remained tense as she listened to the sound of him turning and marching out of the room. This time the door slammed so hard that a few of the candles went out. A sob lodged in her throat, never quite making it out into the air, and she leaned forward, blowing the rest of the candles out. There was no point in keeping them lit; the ritual had not worked and it was not about to magically start just through sheer strength of will.
Wearily, she lifted herself to her feet, not minding the fact that the room was now pitch black. With a confidence her frail body wouldn't have been known to possess, she moved over to the right side of the room and groped along the wall. Her hand caught on a bit of fabric and she pulled. The curtains flew back and the brilliance of the moonlight struck her full in the face like a physical slap. Her head snapped to the side and her fingers tightened around the cloth, though she didn't move. Gradually, the tension left her body and she turned her gaze back to the nearly full moon. In another handful of days, it would be completely full.
"What do I do?" she asked out loud. Even as she spoke, she knew what the answer would be. She had a purpose here on Earth and if she was sent to the graveyard she would be unable to do it. Therefore, she should do whatever was necessary to avoid that fate, right? And yet, if she did do it, then it would definitely hinder her from achieving her purpose. Then again, if she didn't, he would probably find a way to do it anyway. The conflict made her head ache with pain.
Tears filled her eyes and spilled over, rolling down her plump cheeks. The liquid burned and she sniffed, raising a shaking hand to wipe them away. She had no right to cry, not considering the hell she was about to unleash on the world. If what he wanted actually came to pass… by the gods, there would be no place safe. The whole world would be torn apart and no one would be capable of saving it, not if the light and dark were severed like he wanted. She would just have to pray that in the end, things would turn out for the best.
Amane sighed and released the curtain, curling her fingers protectively around the little object in her hand. She held it cupped against her chest for several minutes, eyes closed, the light glistening off of the tear tracks staining her cheeks. Her decision was made, not that she'd ever really had a choice. The next ritual at the height of the full moon would be successful. In only a few days, the balance that had been found would be disrupted, and a thousands year old fight would begin anew.
The grating sound of his alarm clock woke Mutou Yuugi from his restless sleep. He groped around for the clock and switched it off. For the first time in days, there was no warm body curled up next to him, and - caught between true wakefulness and an exhaustion that left him sluggish - he panicked, believing for a moment that he was still on Illusion Island. His eyes snapped open and he launched himself into a seated position, heart pounding and adrenaline surging, mouth forming a cry of fear.
It took him a few seconds to realize that was not on Illusion Island, but in his own room above the Kame Game Shop. Over the roaring in his ears, he could just make out the sound of his grandfather puttering around, no doubt preparing breakfast for them. Yuugi placed a shaking hand over his chest and breathed out slowly as a flood of concern swept through him, dissolving the icy lump of fear that was sitting in his stomach. A very tiny smile graced his lips as he sent a reassuring pulse back to let his overly protective yami know that he was alright before pushing the thick covers on his bed away and standing.
He stretched his hands over his head and sighed, blinking blearily at his arms. Finally, the damage done to his skin was almost nearly gone. The burn marks had lightened to a pale pink, nearly indistinguishable from his normal skin tone, and most of the bruises were nothing more than a memory. The ring around his right wrist, however, would probably never fade completely. Yuugi touched the band of white gingerly. It no longer hurt for the most part, just gave him the occasional twinge of pain when he put too much pressure on his wrist, but he would never be able to forget where it had come from; it was a living memory of Hafiz and his cruelty.
Yuugi flinched violently at the sudden voice and knocked his nightstand over. His door opened at the sound of the loud crash. Mutou Sugoroku poked his head into the room and paused, observing his grandson. Yuugi was huddled on the floor, picking his clock up with fingers that shook. Sugoroku swallowed a sigh and slowly moved a little closer. Silently, he helped Yuugi to pick up the few things that had been scattered across the floor. Then he righted the nightstand and placed Yuugi's lamp back on top of it.
"I just wanted to let you know that breakfast is ready," he said. His hand twitched, like he might reach out and touch Yuugi's shoulder in a comforting movement, but he seemed to think better of it at the last second. "Are you going to come down?"
"Yes, I just have to get dressed," Yuugi said quietly.
Sugoroku nodded. "Take your time."
As soon as the door was closed, Yuugi shivered and let his breath out in a slow sigh. Morosely, he finished putting his things back into order before he began getting ready for the day, donning his Domino Academy uniform and brushing his hair. The last thing he did before going downstairs was to put on the Millennium Puzzle. Still strung on the solid cord he'd cut weeks ago, the puzzle slid into place over his ribs like it was meant to be there. Yuugi cupped it with his hands and lifted it, rubbing his cheek against the cool gold. He always felt comforted when the puzzle was near; it reminded him that he would never be alone.
A host of delicious smells greeted him as he walked downstairs. Sugoroku had set the table with eggs, toast, milk and tea. Yuugi sat down and began to eat, nibbling on a piece of toast. He was aware that Sugoroku was watching him, but he pretended not to notice the scrutiny. This was their first meal together in a while and he could tell that his grandfather was far happier about it than Yuugi was.
"So where's Yami?" Sugoroku asked, finally breaking the silence.
"At his parent's house," said Yuugi, lifting a forkful of eggs to his mouth. It was the one reason he hadn't insisted on going along. Yami's mother scared the hell out of him, and Yami's father was no picnic, either.
"I see. Will you be going back to Kaiba's tonight?"
Yuugi hesitated slightly. "Yes."
Sugoroku hesitated too. "Alright."
"Did you…" Yuugi poked at his eggs and cleared his throat, "not want me to go?"
"I think it's good that you're getting to spend so much time with the Pharaoh." Sugoroku was watching him carefully. "There was a time when I thought you might not accept him at all. I was a little worried."
"Yami wouldn't have let that happen," Yuugi said, a wry smile tugging at his lips. Sometimes he still couldn't believe he'd fallen for Yami's little game. Admittedly, it had given Yuugi some time to get used to the idea of being the Pharaoh's Hikari without having the pressure, but still. Looking back, it was so utterly obvious, and yet he hadn't even noticed until Jou had pointed it out. "Once he knew who I was, he was determined that I was going to give in."
"Yes, that sounds like him," Sugoroku said, sounding a little amused. He took a sip of his tea before adding, "I don't want to make it sound like I'm not pleased for the two of you, but sometimes I do miss your presence around the shop, Yuugi. It seems like you're not around very often."
There was nothing Yuugi could say to that, if only because it was true. Seto, Jou, Mokuba and Shizuka had accepted his continued presence at the mansion without saying a word to him about it. Not that they would have, of course, because of Yami, but Yuugi liked to think that they wouldn't have minded anyway. He liked being at the mansion. He felt safe there with all of the yamis and guardians around. He didn't have to worry about anyone trying to hurt him or any of them there. It was the only place where he could sleep without waking up screaming, and even then sometimes he wasn't that lucky.
By contrast, the shop where he had grown up now seemed somewhat unfamiliar, like it was a world that belonged to a different Yuugi. Every time he was there, he felt unsettled, as though he was trying to force himself into a place that didn't fit. And he couldn't stop thinking about the fact that Sugoroku had known everything from the time he'd given Yuugi the Millennium Puzzle, possibly even before that, and all that time he hadn't breathed a word of it. Yuugi found it impossible to forget that and it felt, a little, like a betrayal, no matter that this was the grandfather that had taken him in when no one else would. Because he couldn't help wondering if that was the only reason Sugoroku had.
"I'm sorry," he said at last, the words heavy in his mouth. "I don't... I just... I need... Yami." He fumbled, his explanation coming out half-hearted and clumsy, but his grandfather seemed to understand.
"It's alright, Yuugi. I know that the bond between you and the pharaoh hasn't worked itself out yet. It may be some time before it does and you just... do what you need to do in the meantime," Sugoroku told him. "I'm just glad that you have someone who can be there for you. He does care for you, doesn't he?"
"Yes," Yuugi said instantly. If there was one thing that he no longer doubted, it was that Yami cared about him very much. Possibly even loved him, was maybe even in love with him, though neither of them had broached the subject. Yuugi could feel it every time Yami reached out to him spiritually, could hear it in both Yami's mental and physical voice. The things they had gone through had forged something unbreakable between them: the bond started by the puzzle and ancient magic was continuing to develop on its own with a strength that neither of them could contain.
"Good, then." Sugoroku smiled. "In the end, that's all I really need to know." He stood up. "I think you'd better run along. You'll be late for school otherwise. Don't forget to call me tonight."
"I won't. Good-bye, Jii-chan." Yuugi got up and picked up his backpack, slinging it over his shoulder with a slight wince. He moved into the shop and went out the front door. The morning air was cool on his face and when he exhaled, he could see his breath in a white gust in front of him. Winter wasn't too far off and it wouldn't be long before it was cold enough to wear a jacket at this rate. He shivered and drew the thin coat of his uniform around him.
/Yami?/ he thought, reaching out towards his other half.
\Here,\ came the response. It was fuzzy and muted, the way it often was when they were at a distance and one or both of them were tired. Yami sounded as fatigued as Yuugi felt.
/School,/ Yuugi pushed back. Only simple concepts and ideas could be guided through their newly formed bond. Someday there might be the opportunity for more, but when he considered what had formed this connection in the first place, Yuugi tended to turn scarlet with the thought of what might be required for that to happen. Even now he could feel his cheeks turning pink and he resolutely pushed the thoughts away as Yami sent back a confirmation. They'd be meeting at the school, then. Good. Yuugi hadn't seen his darker half since late the night before. It was the longest he'd been away from Yami since they'd been reunited at Illusion Island and he was feeling twitchy, strangely bereft without Yami by his side.
He began the walk by himself, not really expecting to see his friends. Ryou lived in the opposite direction and Malik would probably be catching a ride with Mokuba. Often Seto and Jou didn't show up until just before the bell rang, and then usually only because Seto's driver broke several speed laws in his rush to get them there on time and save his job. Yami, of course, would be coming from the direction of his parent's house, but Yuugi wouldn't have been surprised if Yami was running a little late. He hunched his shoulders and took a deep breath, relishing the way the icy air coated the inside of his mouth and throat, before beginning to walk faster. He didn't like being alone, not anymore. It would be too easy for something to happen.
It only took about two minutes for him to realize that he was being followed, and then to remember how little he'd been left alone in the past few weeks.
"You can come out," he said, amused in spite of himself. "I know you're there."
From around the corner ahead of him, a sleek, shadowed figure stepped forward. There was a disorienting moment wherein Yuugi tried to look straight at him while at the same time his body kept trying to look away, and then the shadows melted away. Takahashi Bakura shrugged his shoulders. "I wanted you to know."
Yuugi's mouth twitched but he fought back a smile. "Did Ryou threaten you if you just stalked me the whole way?"
The dirty look Bakura shot him in response told Yuugi everything he needed to know. He grinned and moved up next to Bakura, falling into step next to him. Bakura was staring straight ahead, for all intents and purposes completely oblivious to the world around him, but Yuugi knew that Bakura had been – was – a thief. It had been deeply ingrained him to be aware of everything at all times. Nobody would be able to sneak up on them as long as Bakura was there and that… that was a very comforting thought after the night he'd had, even if Bakura was likely only there out of some small, never admitted loyalty to Yami and a desire to make Ryou happy.
About half a block later, they came across Ryou, sitting on a bench and paging slowly through a book. He looked up and beamed at them, tugging self-consciously at the hem of his shirt. "Good morning, Yuugi," he greeted. "How long was it before he told you that he was there?"
"Not long," Yuugi replied.
Bakura huffed and muttered something under his breath. Ryou merely smiled and stood up, leaning against his darker half, resting his head against the curve of Bakura's shoulder for a second. Almost too quickly to be seen, a flicker of softness flashed into Bakura's eyes. It was a gone just as fast and he shook his head, giving Ryou a gentle push. "Come on, Rabbit. We're going to be late."
"Never thought I'd hear you say that," Yuugi observed.
"Pharaoh wanted you to be there when he gets there," said Bakura. He spoke the nickname with a certain amount of mocking, but there was no true malice behind it. He clearly hadn't minded the errand as much as he was letting on. "And he didn't trust you on the back of Mariku's motorcycle. Or should I say, he doesn't trust Mariku."
"For good reason," Ryou mumbled. "I've watched the two of them drive around on that thing. It's like an accident waiting to happen, I swear."
"It makes them happy, especially Malik," Yuugi said softly. Malik had had so little happiness in his life recently that neither of them could really begrudge him anything. Ryou looked at him quickly and smiled a little.
"Yes, it does," he agreed, shifting his backpack on his shoulders.
As it turned out, Malik and Mariku were waiting for them by the time they reached the school. Mariku was sitting on the low wall that bordered the north side of the school and he'd yanked a squirming Malik down into his lap, ignorant - or, more likely, flat out ignoring - the dirty looks of the jealous girls who were walking by. Malik looked extremely relieved to see the three of them. "You're here!" he said with the eagerness of a man who has been molested in public.
"Mariku, behave yourself," Bakura said, rolling his eyes. He cuffed Mariku none too lightly on the back of his head. "Come on, I'm bored. Let's play poker."
"Don't think you're safe, Kitten," Mariku purred, brushing one last kiss onto the back of Malik's neck before releasing him. Malik scrambled away as Mariku twisted to accept the cards that Bakura was expertly doling out. Within the span of about a minute, both of them were deeply involved in a game, though it didn't escape Yuugi's notice that if Ryou or Malik so much as twitched, Bakura and Mariku would look up. It was ridiculously endearing in an "I'd never dare to tell them that" way.
"Nee-san left this morning," Malik remarked quietly, bringing Yuugi's attention around to him. He shifted, crossing his arms. "Mariku and I were there to see her off on the airport. Seto offered her the use of one of his private planes but she said she preferred to fly commercially. She said she thought it would look better."
"Are you worried about her?" Ryou asked, leaning back against the wall.
"Yes and no. She told me not to be worried; she said she's been in connection with a few people and that she was pretty sure she would be well received. But I guess I can't help but think that something might happen to her, even though Honda and Otogi agreed to go with her." He looked down at the ground. "She asked me again last night if I wanted to go with her."
"You said no," Yuugi said, watching his friend closely.
"Yeah." Malik sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. "I felt like I should go and I could tell that she would have liked me to for support, but I didn't really want to go back. And if that's really where Hafiz has gone, I have no interest in being anywhere near him."
"I think that's understandable, Malik," said Ryou. "I don't want to be around him, either."
"No one does," Yuugi muttered, wrapping his hands across his waist. He was feeling a bit chilled, though he couldn't tell whether it was because of their conversation or the temperature. Wanting to change the subject, he looked at Ryou. "Have they decided yet?"
Ryou knew what he was asking. He nodded. "I think the funeral is going to be next Friday. Seto told me that he thinks Kaiba Corp, along with some people who are on the Industrial Illusions board of office, has finally managed to smooth things over. Some of the proceedings are still going through, though, and there were just so many questions… I thought for a while there I might be sent to a foster home or something like that." He attempted a smile that looked more like a grimace and Yuugi reached out and took his hand, giving it a quick squeeze; he knew what foster homes were like, and he knew that Ryou would've suffered in one.
"I'm glad they were able to save Pegasus's reputation," Malik said.
"Me too. It wasn't really his fault, in the end." Ryou brushed a strand of hair out of his eyes with his free hand. "According to Seto, as the record stands at the moment an unknown person was responsible for the destruction to the island and the death of both Pegasus and my father. None of the servants who worked there are ever going to deny that story. They were too loyal to Pegasus and Cecelia." He shrugged. "Now, I doubt that Hafiz will ever come to trial for it, but at least the blame won't fall on anyone else."
"We'll come to the funeral with you, Ryou," Yuugi said.
"I don't want you to miss any more school," Ryou protested weakly. They'd already missed almost a month, considering all the time they'd spent on Illusion Island and recuperating afterwards.
"It's just school, Ryou." Malik gave him a Look. "We're coming, no arguments."
"Alright," he agreed, giving in without any more protests. Truth be told, he couldn't help being relieved that his friends were coming with him. It might make saying good-bye to one of the last members of his family a little bit easier… especially because he was hoping that someone else might make a special appearance.
The bell rang and all three of them turned to look at the school. Yuugi sighed. "I was hoping Yami would get here before we had to go in," he said, sounding disappointed.
"Never mind, you'll see him at lunch," said Ryou, squeezing Yuugi's hand. Bakura and Mariku had stood up and were putting their cards away, and the other students in the yard were beginning to head towards the doors. He took a deep breath and put on a forced smile. "Come on, let's go get this over with."