Serena: The Sery is here with an update of fluffy goodness~! Well, friendshippy fluffy sweetness only because it's hard to have Yugi and Yami do anything together without something about it being diabolically adorable. Hmm...that should be a tagline for their relationship. Diabolically adorable. I like it~ ANYWAY, how many of you guys and gals expected a crap-ton of OCs? Any? Well, about that. Let me explain you a thing about a thing: Muffins. Muffins are tasty~ ...what were we talking about? Oh! Song lists! You know, stuff that helped me write whatever chapter I'm on. Yeeeeaaah. I like that idea. Let's do this shiz~

Songs: At the Gala (20% Cooler Remix) by Sim Gretina and a Nico Nico chorus of Nekomimi Archive.

A big thank you to PoisonIvy1998 for the lovely review~!

Warnings: AU-ish (should probably remove the –ish in that, but eh). Magic potion abuse (does that count as drugs?). Mai's cleavage. A reformed cannibal. Talking animals. Mai's cleavage. Uhhh...other stuff (like Mai's cleavage). Oh! And that diabolical adorableness I was rambling about before. Seriously. They should give a warning for diabetics.

Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh!, I am sad to say. Which is just as well. I'd probably be murdered for the things I'd put them through. Like this. Definitely this. I'm not sorry, tho. Taste my non-sorrow~ It tastes like dumplings. ...I'm hungry.

-x-x-x-x-

Chapter 2: Choose Your Poison

-x-x-x-x-

Yugi felt a ripple of some foreign power slice through the air the moment he uttered the last word of the poem. It didn't linger past its appearance, but that one, subtle flare of magic gave off an ancient, twisted vibe and he could have sworn he saw a flash of color out the corner of his eye. He turned his head to gaze in the direction where he thought he had seen the color appear, but as expected, there was nothing there. There was only the off-white wall and the shadows of the room stretched across it.

/ Did you feel that? / Yugi asked the spirit, turning his bothered gaze onto his friend. If he was able to feel something so fleeting, then he was positive Yami had felt it, too.

/ / I did. / / Yami responded, nodding his head once in confirmation. He glanced at the attic door and then at the ceiling before returning Yugi's concerned gaze with one of his own. / / I don't know where it came from, but now the whole room feels off. I just.../ /

Yami glanced at the wall beside them and a flow of anxiety washed through their link. He was looking for something, anything that would explain the sudden disturbance the two of them had felt. But there was just nothing to be seen.

/ / ...cannot explain why. Something is different. / /

The off-white walls of the attic groaned suddenly (as if under a massive weight) and the window's glass shook none too gently as a strong gust of wind hit the outside of the building. The noise of the shaking glass was loud enough to startle the five of them and when they turned to look out the window, they noticed a peculiar sight: a sea of baby blue.

"The hell?" Honda muttered, raising an eyebrow at the display in confusion.

Without a word and seeing as she was the closest, Anzu moved away from the group to give an up- close inspection of the world on the other side of the window. When she reached it, she lifted an arm to place a hand against the glass, but jumped a little when it rattled again from the force of another gust of wind. She quickly composed herself, however, and set her hand against the cool glass.

She promptly gasped at the sight outside and yanked her hand away from the window, as if burned.

"Anzu, what-?" Jounouchi started, but was quickly cut off by her.

"Everything is gone!"

She turned back to face them, eyes widened in surprise and lips quivering as she tried to explain what she had seen.

"Th-the street a-and the buildings and..." she stumbled out. She shook her head, her short hair flying wildly around her cheeks and pointed an accusatory finger at the window. "There's nothing out there but clouds! I can't even see the ground!"

"Whoa, whoa. Now hold on just a second there." Jounouchi said, waving his hands in the air as he drew closer to the wall of boxes. He seemed torn between denial and believing in what he heard. Anzu had no reason to blatantly lie like that, but Yugi supposed it was a rather unbelievable thing for someone to say. Still... "What do you mean ya can't see the ground? That's crazy!"

Anzu's eyes narrowed and she made a point to lift her arm and punch it through the air in another jab towards the window.

"I know it sounds crazy, but I'm serious!" she insisted. Her other hand clenched at her side and she looked fearful. "I-I couldn't see anything! The street isn't there. There's just...sky."

"I didn't feel anything move." Honda said and turned towards the attic door. He stared at it a moment in contemplation before moving towards it. "Let me just..."

/ / Yugi. The book. / /

Yugi jumped a little, having not expected the Pharaoh's voice to be spoken so suddenly and urgently. He blinked up at the elder man, but Yami had his eyes fixed on the blank storybook Yugi still held in his hands. Curious, the teen let his gaze return to the book and on the page where the poem had been, a new set of words resided.

The poem itself had vanished.

"But that's impossible." Yugi mumbled. His eyes narrowed at the page in confusion. Something was supremely unnatural about this supposedly blank piece of literature. "What kind of book is this?"

"Whatever it is, I don't like it." Yami stated. He scanned the little bit of text that had replaced the poem and his eyebrows knit together. "I don't understand any of this..."

The sound of a door creaking open caught the spirit's ears and he turned towards the attic door to see Honda pulling it open. When it was indeed open, Yami could only stare in a shocked sort of blankness at the expanse of baby blue resting on the other side of the door. Honda shared his expression, shoulders slumping as he gawked at the view.

"...oh, shit." the brunet muttered, the hand that was still on the handle of the door tightening. A foggy wisp of a cloud slowly floated by the attic entrance, fully content in its airy travel. "Guys...guys, oh, shit."

Yugi kept his attention trained on the book and read over the new text to himself.

One clear, blue day, a set of travelers came to visit from a world beyond the veil.
They came in a wooden airship, but the wind was strong that day and the airship began to fall apart.

The cloud that was lazily rolling by suddenly sped up as the outside wind began to pick up again. The wooden floor boards creaked and the window rattled rather violently, the very wall it was incased in seeming to tremble at the outside force. If it blew any harder than it currently was, it would break.

Seeing as it was unfortunately made of an unsteady wood and therefore not suited for strong winds, the airship was easily overpowered, you see.

Box lids fluttered in the wind and an old rocking chair seated in the corner began to rock as best it could with all the storage surrounding it. Instead of stopping as it had before, the wind kept up its speed and the entire attic seemed to heave under the pressure. Groaning and creaking reverberated around the room rather audibly. The rattling of the window continued as well and even seemed to increase in severity.

And those newcomers inside, the poor little dears, they all fell down, down, down to the great vale of tears.

There was a brief moment in which no one dared to move and in that moment, the new passage of text Yugi just finished reading struck a chord within the teen. His eyes widened at about the same time as Yami's did and they shared a look, both finding sudden clarity in the little story now printed in the book.

"Uh-oh."

Anzu suddenly shrieked as the window completely shattered behind her, spraying particles of wood and glass all over the floor. Some of the particles hit her back and legs and while she didn't get impaled by broken glass or have her skirt torn, the backs of her legs received a few cuts and she winced.

"Shit!" Jounouchi shouted over the sudden roar of wind. "Don't tell me this thing's breaking!"

"I'd love to, but I don't think lying will do us much good now!" Honda replied before yelping in surprise as he was thrown to the ground from a sudden jerk courtesy of the wind. The others joined him as they, too, fell to the floor in ungraceful heaps. Honda was lucky he had such a good grip on the door or else he would have tumbled out the doorway. "Fuck!"

A loud crunching noise cut through the air and they heard something break from the outside. The wall where the window had been was left with a large, jagged hole and the wall seemed to swell inward for a moment as wind pushed against it before quickly reversing its direction and breaking apart altogether, taking some of the floor boards and a lot of the attic's storage with it. In a flash, it was all gone, having been carried away by the wind.

Anzu's eyes widened in fright at the sight of the jagged ledge left in its wake. Not wanting to be pulled out by the wind or thrown out by another jerk on the attic remains, she tried to stand and join the boys, who (all things considered) where in a much safer position than she was.

Seeing the danger his friend was facing, Yugi began to quickly maneuver his way through the sea of boxes and junk in order to reach Anzu. Honda tried to join him, but the wind whipping around the open doorway jerked him to the ground and he had to maintain his grip on the door handle so he didn't fall out.

"Anzu, come on!" Jounouchi cried. He hoisted himself over the wall of boxes and stretched his arm out to her, urging her to take his hand. "Take my hand! I'm not letting you fall!"

But the wind had other ideas for the poor girl.

Just as she managed to push herself to her feet, the attic rocked as it began to tilt towards her and she lost her balance. She hopped on one foot and flailed her arms about in an attempt to right herself. She was fairly close to Jounouchi and in her flailing, she tried to reach out and grab his hand, but her hand was a few inches to far. As the attic continued to tilt, she, too, tilted and with a scream, she was thrown backwards and out into the endless sky.

"ANZU!"

Yugi was thrown to the ground by another jerk of the attic, but he stared at the broken ends of the ledge Anzu had tumbled over, eyes widening with tears.

"Anzu, no..." he muttered.

Jounouchi stared into the space their brunette friend once occupied, hand held out helplessly and eyes wide in disbelief. Slowly, his eyes started to narrow and the fingers of his outstretched hand began to curl into a fist.

"D-DAMN IT!" the blonde shrieked, pounding his fist into the wall of boxes. "I...I almost had her! She was right there..."

The attic and wind gave them no reprieve from their loss. More cracking and snapping sounds filled the air and the attic gave another lurch before the floor snapped in half. Storage boxes and all their contents began to fall through the gradually widening crack and, unfortunately for Yugi, he was right in the middle of all the chaos.

Yugi cried out as he slid and consequentially slipped through the giant crack the wind had created. Before he could completely fall out, however, he managed to grab hold of a broken piece of the floor and was now dangling from it, all the while receiving a nice view of the world far, far below them.

/ / Don't look down! / / he heard the spirit frantically demand. Unfortunately, Yugi did so just as Yami told him not to and the teen paled. They were at a ridiculously tall height. He heard Yami groan. / / Try to hold on! Honda and Jounouchi are coming after you! / /

"Yugi, you're going to be okay!" Honda yelled out to him as he tried to carefully maneuver his way to where Yugi was hanging. The constant pulls and pushes of the wind combined with the rocking attic made this difficult, however. "We're gonna pull you up!"

"Hang on, buddy!" Jounouchi shouted down to him. He was about as far away as Honda was, but the section of attic he was on wasn't quite as damaged as Honda's side was. Chances are he would reach Yugi first (if the wind didn't have any say in the matter).

Yugi tried to nod, but squeaked as the piece of flooring his was holding on to jerked downward. He shut his eyes after accidentally glancing down again. He felt dizzy. This was way too high a place for a human to be.

'If I survive this, I'm never getting on a plane again!'

Yami was stressing far too much to find Yugi's thought amusing. In fact, the only part of Yugi's

thought that seemed to register was the "surviving" part.

/ / Partner. Listen to me. You're going to fine. / / Yami tried to soothe as calmly as he could manage, despite his own feelings. Yugi couldn't help but think he was trying to convince himself of that, though. / / They'll reach you. It will be alright. / /

And it would have been, but a sudden yelp from Jounouchi made Yugi open his eyes and look up. He saw his blonde friend trip into a hole in the floor and Yugi called out to him.

"Jounouchi!" he shouted, becoming only slightly relieved when the blonde caught the edge of the hole and pulled himself back out. "Both of you, be careful!"

"I'm alright, Yug!" his friend called back, flashing Yugi a grin that didn't quite reach his eyes. "Don't worry about us! Just concentrate on holding on!"

Yugi sighed, momentarily forgetting about his own dilemma as he shook his head. The wind (which had been whipping around his legs without much force) suddenly blew downward harshly, almost as if it was determined to break his hold on the floor. Yugi felt his hands slipping and let a little gasp filter past his lips as he heard the splitting of wood. In the blink of an eye, the section of floor he was holding on to broke and it separated from the rest of the attic. Then, he was falling through the air, like Anzu before him.

He distantly heard the voices of his friends screaming his name over the rush of wind rushing past him and in a burst of terror, he let out a scream of his own as the attic quickly disappeared from his sight.

-x-x-

After some time had passed (how much, neither Yami nor Yugi knew; it felt like hours), Yugi's fall suddenly began to slow down until he was floating just as easily as the lazy clouds above him. The strange pocket of air he had fallen into sparkled all around him with specks of a bluish color. He blinked as the magic pocket of air gently turned him into an upright position, being careful not to turn him too quickly least he become sick. With the new vantage point, he could clearly see the ground steadily coming up below him.

"What...is going on?" Yugi murmured, glancing around with confusion shining in his eyes.

It was oddly soothing to float around in the air like this. He felt weightless, like he could swim through the air just as easily as in water. He continued to descend at this floaty pace and took the sudden peace as a chance to have a look around.

Thick trees that easily rivaled Domino City's buildings stood towering over him. Long, twisting branches full of healthy green leaves (some tiny and others enormous) swayed gently in the light breeze and growing out of the bark of the trees was a strange sight: mushrooms. Giant, multicolored fungi (that appeared to have natural patterns including checkerboards, stripes, and even polka dots) sat here and there. There were some red and white checkerboard patterned ones growing at the base of one tree and another had blue and green polka dotted ones dotting its trunk.

And on either side of one of the checker boarded ones sat a bulbous frog and big-headed snake, both wearing waistcoats and top hats. The snake pushed its tail at a decapitated daisy it was using as a chess piece. The frog didn't look happy about this move, but it was hard to tell. He had a grumpy sort of expression that seemed perpetual. It was a good poker face.

"I don't think we're in Japan anymore." Yugi mused out loud. He couldn't decide whether to stare at the unlikely chess players or pretend he hadn't seen them at all.

He quickly decided on the latter when the snake hissed at him for staring.

"Kids..." he heard the snake mumble to itself.

The frog croaked in agreement.

When Yugi was just inches from touching the ground, the cocoon of magic air that had saved him from a splattering death released him. He dropped to the ground, safe and completely unharmed. He glanced back up into the sky, trying to comprehend what had just happened. One minute he was falling at a terrifying speed through the air and the next, he was touching down to the ground, just as if he were a cherry blossom petal that had fallen from a tree rather than a teenager that had been thrown from a floating attic.

He felt a flood of relief rain over him from a previously too-shocked-to-react Yami and he was sure that if the spirit could have hugged him just then (if the whole incorporeal thing hadn't been an issue), he would have done so.

/ / I thought-...oh, Partner, if you had-...I'm just so glad you're safe. / /

Yugi felt a bubbling happiness in his chest and couldn't help himself from giggling until he dropped to the ground in a fit of laughter at the whole situation. He was just so relieved and happy to be alive that it suddenly all seemed so bizarrely funny. Yami quickly found his charge's laughter to be contagious and joined him, their laughter quickly filling the air.

Seeing as they had survived, Anzu had to be alive somewhere, too. This also meant that Jounouchi and Honda would be alright as well. No one would be reduced to being just a gory splatter in the green earth. His friends would be okay.

"Yugi?!" a familiar feminine voice suddenly called out to him. "Yugi, over here!"

They let their laughter die down and Yugi glanced up from his spot on the grass to see a smiling Anzu waving at him from several feet away. She was seated on a large rock overlooking a pool, legs dangling over the sides as a small waterfall fell behind her. The smile Yugi had on his face widened and he quickly pushed himself to his feet to wave back at her.

"Anzu!" he replied and moved to run over to her side. He barely resisted the urge to tackle her with a hug, but upon reaching her, the brunette girl promptly hopped off the rock and threw her arms around him. He returned her hug. "Anzu, are you okay?"

Anzu tightened her hold, like she hadn't seen him in years.

"I'm alright, but...oh, Yugi, it was awful! I thought I was going to die!" she answered before pulling away from him and sending him a teary-eyed look. "A-and all I could think about was that you guys were going to have the same thing happen to you and I just-"

She stopped herself and wiped at her eyes, trying to push away the tears that were threatening to fall.

Yugi's smile turned sympathetic. He knew how she felt. He had had those exact same thoughts during his own fall.

"Anzu..."

The girl shook her head and smiled, recovering from her moment of sadness.

"I'm okay..." she insisted. She blinked away the rest of her tears and put her hands behind her back. "What about you, though? Are you okay?"

Yugi thought about it for a moment before giving a little laugh.

"Yeah. I'm fine." he replied and looked up to the sky again. "Jounouchi and Honda won't be for a few minutes, though."

Anzu let her gaze drift to the sky as well and she gave a short giggle, knowing that while the two would be scared out of their minds, they wouldn't be hurt. She turned back to the rock she had been sitting on and her mouth formed an "o" as she seemed to remember something. She turned back to Yugi.

"By the way, you need to check this out." she said and began walking towards the waterfall. "There's this statue in the water and...well, you just need to see it for yourself."

Yugi turned away from the sky to stare at her curiously. He moved to follow along behind her and they both stopped at the edge of a shallow pool of crystal clear water. He let his gaze linger at the bottom of the pool for a moment before his eyes roamed upward and he blinked in astonishment.

"Oh, wow..."

Steadily falling into the shallow pool was a small waterfall. Sitting under it with water pouring over its shoulders was a giant stone bust of a crying girl. Tufts of green moss were growing in her long hair and all places where water touched had greenish tints coating the stone. The girl's hands had been eternally carved to cover her rounded cheeks and water was steadily streaming from her eyes and falling into the pool flowing around her chest. The look in her eyes made her seem so utterly sad and lost, like she didn't like being where she was.

"I know." Anzu said as she, too, stared up at the crying statue. "It's amazing, but this whole place is."

Yugi tore his gaze away from the statue to take in the sights around them once more. The grass beneath their feet was a lush green type and all around them grew an assortment of strange but beautiful flowers in varying hues of purple, pink, yellow, and blue. They danced in the breeze, their petals ruffling with each pass of the wind.

This place was like something out of a fairytale.

/ / I have to wonder about that. / / he heard Yami say and he agreed with his partner's musings.

The storybook they had found was no storybook at all (or, at least, it wasn't a natural one that a child should pick up). It had predicted their untimely fall from the sky and Yugi was willing to bet his non- existent hair gel that if he still had that book, it would have new text in it saying something about what would happen to them next. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you looked at it), the book was lost to the wind and he doubted either of them would ever see it again.

"My, my, my~" a voice said out-of-the-blue. "What tasty little-ah, I mean, sweet children we have here~"

Yugi and Anzu turned to look out across the valley and saw a voluptuous woman walking towards them with a strange smile curving over her lips. A mane of golden, perfectly-styled tresses fell around her shoulders and a shimmering silver crown with a single purple gemstone embedded in the center hung across her forehead. She wore a long-sleeved dress the color of Wisteria that fell down in silky waves to her ankles and a corset top was cinched around her waist (highlighting her well-endowed breasts in a way that couldn't be ignored).

She was very beautiful, but also very familiar. Yugi blinked up at her, his eyes filling with recognition.

"Mai?" he questioned, hardly believing who he was seeing. It was hard to mistake that powdered face and those plum-colored eyes, though. "Mai Kujaku? What are you doing here?"

Mai paused for a moment and blinked down at him, a twinge of incomprehension filtering through her gaze.

"Kujaku?" she questioned. She looked thoughtful for a moment before waving the word away with a hand and turning her nose up at it. "I don't know anyone with that name. My name is just Mai. Duchess Mai."

"Duchess?" Anzu repeated, lips pursing at the name. "You're kidding."

Mai looked offended at the prospect of being told that she didn't know her own name and she bristled.

"Why would I joke about something like that?" the woman demanded, placing her hands on her hips. "Do you see me saying nasty things about your name? Not that I know what it could be, but it's still rude!"

Anzu blinked at her, eyes widening a fraction.

"I wasn't trying to be rude." the brunette defended, seeming surprised. "I'm sorry, but...you don't know my name? Not even Yugi's?"

Mai sent her a halfhearted glare and her eyes gave the girl a quick once over.

"I don't see why I should know. We've never met before." she stated and whatever fire she had gained from Anzu's apparent rudeness gradually began to fade away. "Since you've brought the subject up, who are you?"

Anzu shared a look with Yugi before addressing the woman before them. She put a hand to her chest.

"My name is Anzu." she answered and then gestured to Yugi with the hand she had previously placed against her chest. "And this is my friend, Yugi."

"Uh...nice to meet you, Duchess." Yugi added, not sure what to say under the circumstances. "Forgive us. We're...new around here."

Here they had Mai (or someone that held a striking resemblance to her), dressed in Victorian-styled garments and claiming she knew neither he nor Anzu. It was fishy, but it wasn't like they could openly doubt her. She would just get angry again anyway. It made him wonder, though.

If Mai (or, again, someone that looked an awful lot like her) was here, then who else was?

The woman's eyes widened in intrigue at hearing this piece of information and she took a step closer to them, that odd smile playing across her lips again.

"Are you?" she questioned and she licked her lips for no apparent reason. "...would you two like to, ah, come for a visit? I left a pot of tea on the stove and company would be nice~"

Before they could even think of a response, a sudden clamor of screaming caught their ears and they turned just in time to see Jounouchi and Honda fall into that same pocket of magic air that had saved Yugi earlier. He smiled.

"Jounouchi! Honda!" he shouted out to them, giving them a wave. "Over here!"

Though he was still shell-shocked from the fall, Jounouchi perked up at the sound of his name. Honda just looked sick, face a twinge of green.

"No way...Yugi! Anzu!" Jounouchi shouted back and he returned Yugi's wave. "You guys are okay!"

"Honda sure doesn't look it..." Anzu commented, but smiled at the two regardless. She waved to them as well. "You'll be alright, too!"

"Not if I lose my lunch..." Honda mumbled. A hand flew to his mouth and he groaned.

After the pocket of air dissipated and left the two teenagers safely on the ground, Jounouchi wasted no time and ran over to give a proper greeting to his friends. Honda went straight for a bush and promptly hurled. Even though he couldn't be seen tossing his cookies, the frog and snake still sneered in disgust. They just weren't a friendly sort.

"Aw, man, I thought we were goners!" Jounouchi said after tackling Yugi in a hug. "I almost had a heart attack when you guys fell. Ya hurt or anything?"

Yugi smiled sheepishly.

"No, but it's a little hard to breathe..."

Jounouchi let him go and laughed.

"Oh, sorry about that."

Mai let her eyes travel up and down Jounouchi and, if possible, her odd little smile stretched even more, a hint of something Yugi couldn't name flashing across her eyes.

"Friends of yours?" Mai asked, twisting her body into a stance that better showed of her curvy assets. "If so, they're more than welcome to visit, too~"

Seemingly having only just now noticed her, Jounouchi turned and sent the woman an incredulous stare.

"Mai?" he questioned. His gaze dropped to her puffed out chest and he practically drooled. "Uhhh...ahm..."

Mai seemed overly pleased by this reaction. She immediately sauntered over to his side and wrapped her arms around one of his. She fluttered her eyelashes.

"What's your name, sugar~?" she asked, her painted lips puckering.

A dark blush bloomed across Jounouchi's cheeks and he struggled to give her an answer for a moment.

"Jah...Jou...Jounouchi." he said at last. He turned his head away slightly to cough into his hand. He sent Yugi a questioning look. "What ah...her?"

Yugi shrugged, just as lost as the blonde was. Mai (at least not their Mai) didn't act like this. Something once again seemed very suspicious about her, a concern Yami didn't hesitate to voice.

/ / If I didn't know any better, I would think she was trying to seduce him. / /

/ ...and? What do you think about all this? /

He felt Yami shrug (which was an odd sensation to feel in your mind).

/ / I suppose I don't know any better. / /

-x-x-

A little while later (after they had collected Honda and apologized to two very unhappy chess players), the gang found themselves seated around a round table with a lacy tablecloth, having tea with the Duchess (who had reverted to acting like the Mai they all knew sometime after the tea had been served). The hot amber liquid was very refreshing after all the stress they had suffered under recently and they almost managed to forget where they were (or, rather, where they weren't).

Until the foggy form of a black cat materialized out of thin air in Yugi's lap.

Yugi gave a little squeak in surprise and promptly dropped his tea cup onto the table, spilling liquid all over the tablecloth.

"Ches!" Mai exclaimed, seeming furious with the feline. "It's rude to jump into a guest's lap! You weren't even invited! What are you doing here?!"

"I heard there was tea." his deep, lazy voice said. He rolled his head up, his strikingly large, blue eyes staring up at Yugi unblinkingly. "I'm not opposed to petting."

Yugi blinked down at him, more than a little unnerved by having a cat appear out of nowhere. It didn't seem aggressive, at least. Slowly, he brought his fingers to the cat's fur and was surprised by how soft and airy it felt, like vapors of smoke. The cat (Ches, going by what the Duchess had said) purred at his touch.

"That doesn't mean you can just walk in unannounced and now you've ruined my guest's tea!" Mai insisted, huffing indignantly and crossing her arms.

"You're relapsing." the feline stated, causing Mai to flinch as if struck. "It's not good for your skin, but blood rarely is."

Jounouchi set down his teacup and turned a suspicious gaze onto the woman. What Ches had said unnerved all of them. Relapsing? What was she supposed to be relapsing from? Was it something involving...blood?

"What's he talking about?" the blonde asked, not bothering to hide the distrust in his voice and, really, he had been acting distrustful of her ever since the incident in the valley. "Relapse? From what?"

The Duchess looked very flustered by this sudden turn of events, hands fidgeting with each other. She suddenly stood from her chair and walked towards the kitchen stove, where her teapot was sitting. She shrugged as she shakily took hold of a clean teacup and poured a fresh cup of tea into it.

"We all have our vices." she murmured to herself. She opened one of the kitchen drawers and pulled something out of it before returning to fixing the tea. The sound of a corked bottle opening sounded. "I'm still recovering from mine."

Jounouchi made to say something, but a quick head shake from Anzu made him stop. He sent the golden-haired beauty another suspicious look, but sighed quietly after a moment. He picked up his tea and shrugged to himself.

"Yeah..." he mumbled, dropping the subject and sipping at his tea.

'This is weird.' Yugi mused to himself. He was referring to, well, everything. Mai's strange behavior, the cat in his lap, the mysterious storybook that had landed them here, the fall, the dreams...

He felt Yami stir uneasily and Yugi frowned. He sent his partner a concerned nudge.

/ What's wrong? / he asked, wanting to understand the reason for the spirit's discontent.

Instead of answering right away, Yami materialized beside him and sent the cat purring in Yugi's lap a suspicious stare. Honestly, Yugi had expected the spirit to direct such a gaze onto Mai.

/ / Him. / / Yami answered, lips twitching into a frown.

Yugi glanced at the cat briefly before stifling a giggle.

/ Don't tell me you're jealous. / the teenager teased, but Yami didn't seem to share his amusement. He continued to pin the feline with a stare. Yugi's eyebrows knit together in worry. / Other me, what is it? What don't you like about him? /

Before Yami could answer, Ches's eyes swiveled in their sockets in Yami's direction and its eyes flashed a hellish red so quickly that he wasn't really certain if the change in color had happened at all. It happened so suddenly that the spirit was a bit startled, but he recovered quickly enough. It wasn't possible for the feline to be able to see him. As the solver and bearer of the Millennium Puzzle, only Yugi could see him in his astral projected form.

At least, he thought so. Ches certainly wasn't looking away.

"What's your poison?" the cat asked suddenly and neither Yugi nor Yami were certain who he was talking to. He didn't seem to look at the person he was addressing unless he deemed it necessary.

A cup of some shimmering purple liquid was placed beside Yugi and he paused in his petting to stare into its depths curiously. What was this? More tea?

"Tea, of course." Mai answered, scoffing at the feline. She acted as if it were obvious. "Just drink it and go. I've no use for someone so...so foggy."

Mai waved her hands in the air as if trying to fan the invisible fogginess away. She returned to her seat.

"I'm sorry, Yugi." she apologized with a sigh. "He used to be my cat, but now he just pops in whenever he wants and on whoever he wants. It makes having guests difficult. Would you like some more tea?"

"It's alright. I don't mind." Yugi replied, sending her a sympathetic smile. "No reason to be sorry and, uh, thank you, but I'm fine."

Mai hummed and let the issue go. She picked up her own tea cup and dove right back in to whatever conversation they had been having before.

"So, why were you so high up in the air?" she asked, addressing Anzu. Earlier, Mai had insisted on bandaging the cuts the Anzu had received from the broken glass and the two of them had bonded a little. "That sounds terrifying."

"Well-"

Yugi was distracted from whatever Anzu was saying by the cat moving around in his lap. He glanced down to see Ches leaning forward. He sniffed at the violet liquid swimming inside of the cup, but he didn't try to drink it.

"Have a sip." the feline said quietly, flicking his tail at Yugi's stomach. Yugi could only guess that the cat was talking to him. "I couldn't possibly drink all this by myself."

Yugi glanced back at the strange, purple liquid. He wasn't all that thirsty anymore, to be honest, and whatever kind of tea that was didn't look all that natural to him.

"Yugi, was it?" Ches prompted, moving back to simply stare at the purple liquid. "I insist. It's rather tasty. Try it."

/ / Partner, I don't think that's such a good idea. / /

Yugi hesitated for a moment to consider the risks. The tea was an unnatural color that Mai hadn't served to them, not even herself. She and Ches didn't seem to have that great of a relationship. What if the liquid was poisoned or something? Or what if it was poisonous to humans and not animals?

Ches's tail thumped against his stomach again.

Or maybe he was just being overly paranoid.

The teen hesitated a moment more before deciding to try it. Despite her randomly lecherous behavior, Mai seemed friendly enough. If she saw Yugi about to drink something that could possibly hurt him, she'd probably demand that he stop. If she said nothing, then it was probably okay, right?

He heard Yami sigh.

/ /You trust so easily. You should give me lessons. / /

Yugi rolled his eyes at that, but said nothing. He took hold of the cup and lifted it to his lips. He hesitated again when he saw Ches roll his head to look up at him, but collected himself and took a sip.

His eyes widened in delighted surprise. It was the single most delicious tea he had ever tasted. It sent a shiver down his spine and he took another sip. Ches did say he couldn't drink the whole thing by himself.

Ches purred and jumped up onto the table in a blur of fog. The Duchess seemed wholly displeased about this.

"No paws on the table!"

She was ignored with a flick of the feline's tail.

"I didn't catch your name." Ches began, turning to once again stare at the spot Yami was located. "Care to share, spirit?"

Yami was so unnerved by being openly addressed by someone other than Yugi that he didn't notice the shiver that ran down his own spine. Beside him, Yugi's eyes half-lidded under a dream-like fogginess and he began to sway in his seat.

"How-...I-...can you actually see me?!"

Ches's tail flicked to the side.

"I'd move, if I were you." Ches said, completely ignoring the question (but it probably didn't need an answer anyway).

"Yugi, are you okay?" Anzu asked suddenly, taking note of her friend's strange behavior.

Yami blinked away from the cat upon hearing the concern in Anzu's voice. He felt a sea of strange emotions filter down their link and reached out a hand (intending to let it hover over Yugi's shoulder) when a wave of dizziness hit him. He swayed on his feet and brought a hand up to his head.

"Yeah, man, you don't look so good." Honda added.

Yugi lazily raised a hand and waved their concerns away.

"I'm...I'm fine." he said, attempting to steady himself. He sounded a little...high. "I just..."

The cup slipped from his hands and shattered against the floor, purple liquid spraying everywhere. Yugi's eyes slipped shut and he slipped from his seat, falling sideways out onto the floor. Yami tried to call his name, but, just as Yugi had, he collapsed to the floor and lost consciousness.

"YUGI!"

"I did suggest he move." Ches mumbled to no one.

The three friends quickly leapt from their chairs and rushed to Yugi's side, but paused when something odd caught their sight.

"What the-?" Jounouchi started, but was cut off by a groan from Yami.

The spirit slowly pushed himself up to his knees and shook his head. What the hell just happened? Where had that dizzy spell come from?

'It happened right after Yugi drank that tea. Could that be just a coincidence or-?'

A small groan from Yugi brought the Pharaoh out of his musings and he turned to see his partner sprawled out on the wooden floor.

"Yugi!" he called out, a thick coat of worry covering his voice as he rushed to his friend's side. He leaned over him and set a hand against the boy's cheek. "Partner, are you alright? Please wake up."

Yugi groaned again, but the hand against his cheek began to move its thumb and urged him to return to the land of the conscious. Slowly, his eyes opened and he turned his head just enough to see the violet irises staring down at him fill with relief. Yugi touched the hand at his cheek and groaned again.

"What happened?" he asked, feeling the fingers beneath his own twitch. "That was-"

He suddenly froze as Yami yanked his hand away, the spirit looking for all the world like he been caught doing something exceedingly scandalous. His eyes were probably about as wide as they could possibly go and it probably would have been amusing under different circumstances.

Then, Yugi realized.

He had felt Yami's hand when it was resting against his cheek. He couldn't do that. Yami was just a spirit. He didn't have a body of his own!

Yugi's eyes traveled away from the man's face.

Well, the spirit used to not have one. It looked pretty solid even as Yugi laid there staring at it.

"I..." Yami started, seeming at a loss for words.

Yugi pushed himself into a sitting position, his own eyes wide. How in the world had this happened? Was Yami really...?

Yugi hesitantly reached out a hand towards the once-spirit and quickly poked at the Pharaoh's cheek before letting his hand retreat to the floor. A blush slowly spread across Yugi's cheeks out of embarrassment.

There were other ways of checking. He didn't have to poke the guy. Jeez.

Yami blinked in confusion for a moment before he stifled a laugh. He held his hands up in a show of peace before reaching down and taking the hand Yugi had poked him with. He maneuvered their hands until both palms were pressed against each other. Yugi could feel Yami's amusement just as easily as he always could and whined a little, his blush refusing to dissipate. He looked away for a moment when Yami chuckled at him, but curiosity won out over his embarrassment and he turned back to stare at their hands curiously.

Yami's hand was just a little bigger than his own, long fingers gently pressing against his and only inches away from slipping between them. Yugi pushed against Yami's hand experimentally, just to test his friend's solidness more firmly. His nose scrunched up as he concentrated on pushing against him and it wasn't until Yami started chuckling at him again did he stop.

"Solid enough for you?" Yami asked, a smile playing across his lips.

Yugi blinked up at him before returning the smile and giving an affirmative "mm-hm!".

It was an endearingly sweet moment.

...which Jounouchi completely ruined after falling flat on his ass and pointing an accusatory finger at the two of them.

"Y-Y-Yugi...there's two-I mean, i-it's...what the hell is going on here?!"

-x-x-x-x-

Serena: Hmm. I think I forgot to add "Suspense" to the list of genres I mentally filed this under. Ah, give me a moment. *rubs forehead* Aaaaaannnnnd, there. Now, it's more properly filed for my convenience. So, aha, this story is a lot of fun to write and now that Yami is out and about, I can have twice the fun. Oh, the things I have planned for those two...*evil laughter* Diabolical adorableness, man. Can't beat that shit. So, opinions? Thoughts? ...same thing, isn't it? Ah, well, I'd be thrilled if you left me a review. The one I received last time was very delightful to read. I'd like some more delightfulness. Also, if you think this is taking a Puzzleshippy turn, then hey! Chill. That was a platonic mess of cuteness that I wrote. Course, I certainly wouldn't mind if it was shippy. OTP and all. But you know, whether the Puzzleship tag is there or not, the story would be virtually the same. *shot* Just saying! But think what you want, my cheesy homeskillets. Till next time (whenever that will be)~!