Atem looked over all the heads that had gathered. It had taken quite a long time. Some had struggled to get here more than others but everyone he saw belonged here. Everyone that was here was someone that had impacted him at some point or another and someone that deserved happiness. Eternal. It wasn't something that he promised when exchanging hands but it was something of a personal project that he wanted to fulfill. And now that they were here, old friends and new, he couldn't help but smile.
It had been an eventuality bringing everyone together. And in his long time waiting he had had an idea in mind. It was a ridiculous idea. A silly one. One that would probably not be looked at fondly by all. And that was the reason he needed them all together. With such a mass crowd it was hard to draw attention. He hardly liked standing above others anymore. This was the afterlife. Though he retained his Pharaoh form (depending on who he spoke to, anyway) he was no longer a ruler. He at least didn't want to be treated as one.
But for this he needed an elevated spot. It was tough commanding a crowd at his height at floor level. Not that he'd ever admit it. His arms had raised and drawn a hush over everyone there. This had been a long time coming indeed. He'd even waited a few eons for everyone to settle down once they were all there. He didn't want to spring anything on them.
"This needs everyone's approval." He said after a long while. He wouldn't go forward and do it without it- much less was he sure the Gods would allow such a thing without entire consent. If they'd even allow it at all. This would no doubt take a lot of magic to get across. And it was a little ridiculous…
The crowd murmured and shifted in unison watching him before going back and talking amongst each other. It wasn't going to work this way. He'd need to speak to the ones he was sure were anxious. The ones this would impact more clearly than others. So he slipped off the raised dais and found his way in the crowd.
A hand met his shoulder before he could go anywhere. "I think it's an excellent idea, Atem-boy." Pegasus rung out as usual smiling more happily than he'd ever seen him. It had taken him a long while to get used to the other's presence, and truth be told he wasn't entirely sure of it, but if he was here it was alright. Clinging to his side was his wife, someone Atem was unfamiliar with but happy to see nonetheless. "A story like yours-" He excused himself with a hum. "Ah- ours, in fact, deserves sharing."
He nodded but said nothing. That was good. Two down, who knew how many left to go. He slipped further into the crowd. The sound of anxious armor met his ears. He smiled up at the three knights suddenly standing in his way. "And what say you three?" It was weird having them here. Would he ever stop thinking that? So many he was unused to seeing that now had become a part of his daily life.
The knights shifted again before the one that looked so much like him nodded. "We concur." He smiled. "You have our good wishes." Timaeus had a debt to repay after all and getting this out would somehow put relief in his heart. Legends were often meant for passing.
Before he could make much way into the thick of the crowd a figure robed in white stood in his way. He held his head high. "Shaadi." If anyone had something to say it would be him. Was this against the rules?
Those mysterious blue eyes regarded him before he let up and stepped back with a bow of his head. "If this is what the Pharaoh's will may be after all this time, I have no wish to stand in the way." As far as he knew this wouldn't cause any real conflict. There were no real rules against this. It was strange but not wrong.
Atem smiled before disappearing. Looking for someone else he bumped into a familiar blond and his sister. "Hey hey!" Jonouchi turned with mock anger before grinning like an idiot. "Listen if you're gonna do it I have a condition. I have to be the hero!"
"And I have to get all the girls!" Honda interjected, shoving his way between the two.
The former Pharaoh backed up. "I'll have to see what I can do." But if he had their blessings he could push off to a new face. One that wasn't entirely paying attention. He reached out to place his hand on Ryou's shoulder. "…and you?" He was worried now. The boy had been through so much.
But Ryou turned to him with a soft smile. "Do it." With such a quiet yet strong conviction. "We shouldn't be the only ones to know." Records were important, he felt.
"I agree." Ishizu spoke up from the side, arms folded. The air went quiet before she nudged her brother with her elbow.
Malik straightened up. "To be honest I thought about saying no." Sharing that was painful. Letting other people know what had happened felt wrong. It was his family, his story, his secret. But Ishizu and Rishid had eventually talked him out of the negative. "But in the end I think you should go for it." Atem's skepticism warmed him, the look he was getting was worried. He smiled. "I mean it!"
He took a step back with a nod and immediately found himself trapped in a circle. Sharp blue eyes watched him before Set took the knee in a bow. "Pharaoh," The other Court members followed suit. "We are behind you."
Atem frowned. "I've told you there's no need for that." He hated when they did that. No one deserved to feel inferior here. Not the afterlife of all places. But looking at Set's smile now made him uneasy. There was one person he was still very anxious about talking to. He excused himself to go find him.
Before he could get much further an arm was draped around him and he tensed. Looking up revealed a large grin on a still kid-like face. Mokuba being so much taller than him was still hard to get used to. "You should do it. Don't listen to Nii-sama."
Kaiba seemed to just appear out of nowhere in that instant. "Should he not listen to me?" This was no place for him. It had taken a long time to adjust. To work out the whys. But having nothing to do was still irksome. Seeing Mokuba and his family though… that might have saved it out of everything. Aside the constant duels with Atem, anyway.
Mokuba didn't take the warning well, still grinning. Atem went tense. "Of course he shouldn't. This is a great idea and you usually don't agree with those kind." Still pulling Atem close. He could feel the other so uneasy underneath him. It was amusing.
Kaiba arched a bow and gave his little brother a dry look. "I'm sure Kaiba Corporation and Kaiba Land agree with you."
"Well, you know, aside those." Sticking his tongue out. Mokuba might have grown but he was still Seto's little brother and he never seemed to be able to grow out of that.
His gaze shifted from Mokuba to the obviously uncomfortable Atem. "So, are you going to listen?" He doubted it. Atem never did.
Finally Atem managed to push Mokuba aside and shift more in Kaiba's favor. "Of course I will." Kaiba's was a particularly personal and sensitive story. Mokuba giving the go ahead was great, but not all he needed. "I would never-"
"Save it." Kaiba wasn't particularly interested in the friendship speech or whatever he was about to get. "Do it. But on the condition that you duel me whenever I ask." That was more than worth the price he was paying, smirking at the shorter.
Automatically he bristled even if he was getting good news. Kaiba was ordering him to do something and that never sat well. It would continue not to through the rest of eternity when the other found him for duels. Was this really worth THAT? Finally he sighed. "Agreed." Yes, he decided, it was.
Kaiba smirked harder before he backed away. His head was thrown back as he walked in the opposite direction, dark laugh echoing all the way with him. Atem had no idea what he'd just agreed to. And for what Kaiba was giving up he was going to make it particularly hard on Atem.
Atem tensed in anger. That laugh always got to him. But he had bigger things to worry about. He parted through the crowds, getting more ceremonious agreements. It was all good. There was only some slight apprehension from some but in the end they all seemed willing. It was fantastic. Much more than he thought he'd get. But he had one last person by the end of it to ask. And for this he was worried.
When he saw Yuugi sitting underneath a tree waiting for him he felt even more so. Would his partner disagree? He seemed to have been chatting with Anzu who was now walking away. More apprehension hit him, thinking he'd broken up their conversation. She passed him as he walked by but she stopped in front of him.
His eyes met hers. She wasn't smiling just yet. "Anzu." A quiet greeting.
Her smile came then but it was slightly somber. "Atem." Her mouth forming around the name, still after all this time not used to it.
There was an odd awkward shift. Usually he wasn't like this in front of her. But he didn't want to prod her for her answer. It must have been obvious what he was waiting for. Why wasn't she talking? "Do you-"
"It's a lot." She cut him off. "What you're asking of everyone. What you're asking of him." Her eyes drifted back.
Atem frowned. "And of you?"
More silence and her hands linked behind her back. "I guess I don't really mind." At his frown she realized what she'd done. This wasn't exactly an answer of commitment. "…yes."
His shoulders let down from the tense they'd been in and his eyes moved passed her, as they usually did. "And does he mind?" She'd been speaking with him after all. She must have known what his answer was going to be.
Anzu reached out to pat his shoulder before walking right by him. "You'll have to go ask him."
It left him in an awkward place. Standing there, watching after Anzu and then turning to Yuugi. He'd obviously been watching the entire exchange. It wouldn't do well to just stand there like an idiot for much longer so he pushed himself into taking a step, trying to ignore how uneven it was.
"Come here." Yuugi beckoned him with a smile.
He edged closer before sitting next to his partner. They both stared out at the large crowd of familiar faces. Silence went on for a while between them, Atem unsure what to say. Eventually Yuugi leaned against his shoulder. He smiled despite the task at hand. "You don't have to say yes." Absolutely not. Yuugi could be the only one to say no and Atem would not move forward. This was the most important opinion here.
Yuugi laughed softly. "You were expecting me to say no?"
Atem frowned. "I don't know what I was expecting." In their later years Yuugi had gotten very good at surprising him. Not being able to read him was as exhilarating as it was terrifying.
"It's our story, you know." Yuugi murmured. "Everything. All of it. Between us… what happens if people don't understand?"
His head cradled forward. "There's always that chance."
"What happens if they misconstrue things?"
Atem took a breath. "That will happen too." There was no doubt in his mind.
Yuugi finally looked up at him. "And knowing that, something so important to you, you'd want to share it?"
He stared back at his partner for a long while before nodding. "Aa. I do." A brief pause. "But do you?" Stressing in tone that his answer was important.
It took him a long time before he broke out into one of those easy smiles that he was known for. "Yeah. Let's do it, mou hitori no boku." A resounding yes.
Atem's arms wrapped around his partner and he hugged him. "Thank you." Whispered between them. He wasn't sure why this felt that important. He wasn't sure why this was even a good idea. Yuugi was right. People might not understand. They might not get it. But he wanted to. He needed to. And everyone else wanted to, too.
Finally he stood and worked his way through the crowd to his dais again. His arms raised and the crowd hushed, all eyes on him. And then a warm but booming voice shook down from the clouds.
"What have you decided?"
Atem looked at them all. Each and every one. He met their stares, looking for apprehension. Maybe waiting for someone to speak out. He waited. He watched. And when he was met with nothing but acceptance he smiled. His head turned back and he met that warmth head on.
The world shook around them all, everyone reaching to keep their balance. Atem stayed right where he was. That heat spiraled between every single one of them, burrowing deep into their hearts before whisking away back to the heavens. The crowd shifted yet again, watching.
"It is done. Your story has been imparted to one other outside your reach. What follows will be unknown to you. Whether or not they decide to share it. How it is received. What happens to it. You have trusted in the fact that this was a good decision. Keep that trust."
And just like that their individual stories that had converged all into one met into the ever expanding existence to be shared with another world. Maybe many worlds. They'd never know. They'd never see it. But each had a small relief, their hearts lightening at the thought that their story would continue on elsewhere. Somewhere. No matter the outcome. No matter what it caused or who read it. They would continue.
Or so they hoped.