A/N: Finally, I get the next chapter up! Sorry for the wait, sports fans. Beware the hints of shounen ai, all ye who enter here. Eh, if you survived the prologue, you'll survive this.





"Tatari-Mokke"





Yuugi's head hurt. Mostly because his other side had been whining all morning about Jounouchi, the mysterious dark boy who was apparently dating the moon if you knew anything about Chinese, and just ghosts in general. Bakura seemed to be suffering from similar problems, and by the time their morning classes were over, both boys would've dearly loved to have someone on hand to strangle.

Unfortunately for their blood pressure, Jounouchi was absent, so instead the entire group got to spend the morning panicking about his whereabouts and, of course, discussing . . .

"Since WHEN can Jounouchi see ghosts?!" Anzu demanded as soon as lunch began. "Since when do ghosts even EXIST?!"

"What, the half-dozen 'other sides' running around town don't count?" Honda asked dryly.

"You're taking this whole situation rather well," Bakura observed, raising the proverbial eyebrow.

Honda shrugged. "It's just more magic. No big deal."

"Of course it's a big deal!" Yuugi protested, throwing his hands up in anxiety. "Something is weird about this- Jounouchi-kun never even mentioned it to us!"

"Did he really have to say anything?" Honda shrugged again. "I already knew that he saw stuff that other people didn't- I just didn't know it was really there. Figured he was a bit nutty, but I never really cared, y'know? At the time I first noticed it, he was my only real friend. That was the only thing that seemed to matter."

"He could've been very sick!" Bakura cried in horror. "You should have told someone, Honda-kun!"

Honda's eyes narrowed. "Jounouchi doesn't like head doctors very much," he said solemnly, as if that one sentence could explain everything in the world.

"Bakura, the other you- he said he saw them too, right?" Anzu asked after a moment of slightly worried silence.

"Of course I did," Bakura answered arrogantly, a familiar light coming into his eyes and the Millennium Ring emerging from beneath his shirt. "After all, aren't I as dead as any of the poor bastards?"

"I am also dead. Technically, at least," Yuugi pointed out- or more precisely, his darker half pointed out as the Puzzle flashed gold and his body shifted into a more confident posture. "But I can't see them. Sensing the dead- especially the angry dead- is usually a simple enough task, but actually seeing them, as if they still had their physical bodies? That is not something that I've even dealt with before."

Bakura looked particularly smug at that comment, and the former pharaoh was suitably annoyed at being outdone in any way by a lowly tomb robber. However, the possibility of violence and/or quarreling between the pair was forgotten as a certain teenaged CEO slunk over and all possibilities of violence became the ones between Seto Kaiba and Yuugi Mutou's other half.

"Where's the puppy dog, Yuugi?" Kaiba asked with a smirk that implied impending doom.

"Right here!" a cheerful voice announced, and Kaiba yelped in shock as he was suddenly embraced from behind.

"Jounouchi-kun?!" Yuugi yelped, his eyes bugging out at the sight of Katsuya Jounouchi not only hugging Seto Kaiba, but also seeming perfectly happy about it. No doubt "seeming" was the key word, but it was still a rather disturbing sight, feigned or not.

"What do you want, puppy dog?" Kaiba growled, face reddening in anger.

"A dog, am I?" Jounouchi pouted in a way that looked terrifically disturbing coming from a high school student, then suddenly gave a wicked grin. "Well, if you say so, Seto-chan."

And he promptly licked Kaiba's cheek.

Yuugi and Anzu simultaneously twitched, Honda rolled his eyes, and Bakura burst into sadistic laughter and cheered at the vaguely horrified look on Kaiba's face.

"What the HELL was that?!" Kaiba half-shrieked, yanking out of the blonde's grasp. Instead of waiting for an answer, however, he chose the better part of valor by retreating quickly and with vigor.

"WHY did you just do that?" Yuugi hissed, his eyes sparking red and looking ready to punish Jounouchi with extremely violent prejudice.

"Had a feeling it'd get him to leave," Jounouchi explained with a faint grin. "Hey; y'know, he kinda tastes like- "

"WE DON'T WANNA KNOW!" Anzu and Yuugi shrieked in perfect unison.

"Jounouchi, where have you been?" Honda demanded.

"I have exorcised the demons!" Jounouchi folded his hands and took on a rapturous expression. "This house . . . is clear."

"That's it, no more pirated dubs for you," Honda muttered as everyone gave the other boy very weird looks.

"But it was a good movie!" Jounouchi whined.

"People said that about 'Princess Mononoke,' " Honda retorted.

Jounouchi LOOMED like the dark shadow of death. "You did NOT just diss Ashitaka," he growled.

"Can we please focus here?!" Anzu yelled. "Jounouchi, where were you?! Please tell me you didn't stay in that damned park all night!"

"I didn't," he replied. "I had to leave around three and track down the ghost of a little girl who'd run off. She was scared away when the other spirits got angry- I barely beat the Tatari- Mokke to her."

"The what?" Yuugi asked in confusion, the original finally taking control again.

"Tatari-Mokke," Bakura clarified calmly, smirking and hooking his hair behind his ears. "It is a creature that takes children's souls to Hell and turns them into evil spirits." Anzu and Yuugi shared horrified looks at the statement.

"That's terrible!" Anzu cried. "What a monster!"

"Not exactly. The Tatari-Mokke only takes children to Hell if it can't soothe their anger with its flute's music and convince them to go to the other side," Jounouchi corrected, taking a seat between Honda and Yuugi. "It protects them until they can safely cross over into the realm of the dead with a Shinigami's guidance."

"Shinigami . . . That's a god of death, right?" Honda inquired, still far more composed than the others. "But if the Tatari- Mokke only wanted to calm her, why'd you have to stop it?"

"Unfinished business," Jounouchi replied. "She most likely wouldn't have gone without finishing it, and then it would've had to send her to Hell."

"What was the business?" Anzu asked.

Jounouchi blinked in surprise and suddenly turned to Yuugi with a puzzled look. "You know, I honestly forgot to ask. What was it, Mayu-chan?"

"Eh?" Yuugi gave him an odd look before realizing that the other boy was actually looking at the empty space over his shoulder, not Yuugi himself. Honda cast a quick glance around to make sure there was no one watching the other boy talking to "himself."

Meanwhile, Jounouchi was turning slightly green. "Um, Mayu- chan, I may not be an expert on family relationships, but I really don't think you should kill Satoru. He IS your brother . . . no, I'm not siding with anyone, I just think- okay now, I SERIOUSLY doubt that ANY member of your family wanted you to die like that . . . Because burning to death hurts a lot . . . um, it's really none of your business how I know that."

"That is just freaky," Anzu muttered, crossing her arms and giving Jounouchi a weird look.

"I like her," Bakura remarked lightly, leaning back and crossing his ankles. "She's neat."

"You just say that 'cuz she's homicidal," Honda retorted, mimicking the position and closing his eyes.

"True," the tomb robber admitted with a shrug.

Jounouchi rolled his eyes. "You're both idiots," he muttered.

"Look who's talking," the duo retorted in perfect unison, then scowled at each other.

"Enough, okay?" Anzu cut in. "Jounouchi, you've still got explaining to do."

"Later, Anzu," he promised, sighing and getting back to his feet. "Right now, though . . . Get back, Mayu."

"The Tatari-Mokke has come for its due," Bakura said in an amused tone.

"Wait, what?!" Yuugi demanded, alarm creeping into his voice. "That creature you were talking about- it's HERE?"

Bakura grinned. "Well . . . Let's just say, you'd better pray koinu-kun here's smarter than he acts, eh, Yuugi?"

"What is THAT supposed to-?" Anzu began angrily.

Jounouchi's head suddenly snapped to the left with an audible crack. When he turned back to face the others, his mouth and nose were both bleeding. He swiped a hand across his jaw and winced.

"Shit," the blond muttered, glaring at the blood on his palm as his friends stared at him in shocked horror and Bakura's grin widened. "I think I pissed it off."





* tbc . . . *





A/N: A lot of the magic and mythology that I am using is mumbo- jumbo. And a lot of it is really Japanese in origin, but I've had to take a few liberties to tie the legends together and make them fit in with this story. So if you notice a really glaring error, feel free to mention it, but anything smaller may have been sacrificed for the sake of the overall storyline.

And hey, in case you haven't noticed yet, this story, though it focuses on the characters of Yu-Gi-Oh!, will include cameos by characters from other series on a regular basis, often from very popular series like Inu-Yasha but also from almost unknown ones like Bleach- basically, if I can figure out a way to fit it in believably, it'll probably show up. Even if you aren't familiar with whatever series is guest-spotting, it is very unlikely that it will present a problem since this is an AU anyway. If you are, you'll just understand the more subtle in-jokes.

This chapter's guests: Mayu and the Tatari-Mokke from Inu-Yasha: A Feudal Fairy Tale. Brief mention of Touya Kinomoto and Yue from Card Captor Sakura.





. : review or mayu will haunt you! : .