Author's Note: In case you missed it - the original Chapter Eight, 'Changing', was completely overhauled in terms of plot about two weeks ago, and reposted as a new chapter. If you haven't already, please read this chapter before you go on.

Chapter Nine: Freeing


She's made it.

For her, there's never been a greater triumph, and she has to fight hard to subdue the giggles threatening to bubble out of her and reveal her position. The brunette might be tired, her chest heaving, but all that's far away for the moment. She grins silently in the dark; knowing full well that she's made it to the control room at last; she can see the chink of brightness under the door. She can barely believe it, to be honest; some little voice is telling her that Marik knew full well that she could do it, but Anzu definitely doubted herself more than a few times as she ran (the bangs and thumps of Honda and her clone fighting it out in the corridor some way behind, her way lit for some time by a creepy Egyptian relic, until it was snatched by a Ryou who came tearing past her in the opposite direction), but she's made it.

He should be in here, Marik growls inside her head. If it's anything like what happened to me, Yugo should have dragged him in here to gloat.

All joy goes straight out of the girl, her eyes widening and shoulders slumping. "H-he... won't be in here as well...?", she pants, and is hardly surprised when Marik doesn't exactly answer, instead forcing her to move; with knees shaking and her body trembling, she opens the door, sagging into the light as it swings inwards with a series of rusty squeaks.


All she receives is silence.

The body on the wall isn't exactly chatty, it seems.

...The body on the wall?

Wh-what is this?, Marik snarls, his control disintegrating due to his surprise and confusion, allowing Anzu to get a terrified yelp out.


He shouldn't have... No way! This wasn't part of the plan!

"P-plan... We had a plan?" Anzu whispers, taking two steps backwards in terror, then a faltering step forwards.

Well, it's not exactly your plan-

-but that's all he manages, breaking off with a strangled yelp as a hand lands heavily on Anzu's shoulder.

"Hold it right there, honey. You're tired of running, and I'm tired to death of chasing you. So, just stay still, while I try to remember how I was going to kill you. All this hunting's scrambled my brain..."

Blue eyes widen in worry at the voice: light, feminine, chatty, hers. She doesn't dare turn around to face the girl; she knows who it is already without looking. In her mind, Anzu can picture her clone's stupid face, as her attacked gloats inwardly - and Marik definitely isn't helping when he automatically imagines it as well - the sneer, the cold eyes, the knife she's presumably got in her clammy little hand, the lot. The girl shivers a little, shuddering as a slight warm breath lands on the back of her neck; her only comfort being that at least a faint breath on her neck isn't a knife digging between her shoulder blades. The silence drags on, and she soon wonders why the clone hasn't done that yet, wonders if her doppelganger actually had any sort of weapon to begin with, wincing when Marik burrows into her subconsciousness and forgotten memories, and cheerfully informs her that yes, her double had a nice big knife. Maybe Anzu's clone lost the knife in the dark scuffle with Honda, or maybe the killer just wants to take something from Anzu before she kills - actually, the girl wouldn't be surprised if that were the case.

But there is no question from the other girl; and despite the earlier boasting, Anzu is still very much alive a few minutes later. "You're not really going to kill me, right?", she asks after a long moment, but all she gets in reply is an even longer silence, causing her to start wondering if the clone's even there anymore, if what she thinks is a hand on her shoulder isn't one, if-

-well, just before her own voice decides to answer her with a bout of mad giggles.

"I had you good there, didn't I? I had you good." Her clone steps to her side, grinning cheerfully. "Come on, now. We both know that you're a waybetter Anzu than I am. I've just started, and you've been doing it for, like, sixteen years. Sure, I know I'm much cooler than you are, but I'm not a better Anzu." She laughs; and it's definitely a laugh cooler than Anzu's laugh - if by cooler, you mean colder, because the laugh is less of a happy noise and more of a cruel, mocking one. "Really, I don't know why I even bothered trying back there. The knife? Yeah, no. Not happening, right?"

And as much as Anzu might enjoy giving speeches about the importance of always trying your best, and of course how no-one should ever simply not bother trying, she's definitely not stupid enough to give such a speech here. It's not like she even trusts her doppelganger in the slightest, but she doesn't appear to be armed, and whether or not this odd girl is even on her side doesn't really matter - such things are probably not worth thinking about, not when your very best childhood friend is bleeding on the wall over there-

Luckily for the two girls, the doppelganger happens to catch sight Yugi before either the silence can become awkward or Anzu can scream (whichever happens first), her eyes widening at the sight of the boy shackled to the wall. She runs to his side, all concern and kindness in a moment; it's the sort of abrupt personality switch which just makes Anzu wants to gag. "H-hey! Are you all right?" For a moment, the observer reckons that the doppelganger might even be on their side - until the grey-eyed twin looks over her shoulder, and grins viciously. "Oh look, my doppelganger's here! I think I can hold her off, but I don't know if I'll be able to!" She wraps her arms around the unconscious boy, much to Anzu's horror. "I'll protect you, though! Don't you w-"

With an incomprehensible snarl, the girl darts in to deliver a vicious, stinging slap to her clone's face, somehow managing to get a yelp out of the other girl. Struggling to keep the smirk off her face at the thought of such an arrogant person making such a surprised noise, Anzu calmly kicks the doppelganger in the shins, forcibly tearing her off Yugi and elbowing her away. "Don't you dare do that again!", she shrieks, standing in front of Yugi to protect her friend as a mother goose might protect her chicks; but her clone only laughs, refusing to back away.

"Oh, feisty! So, I guess he's taken, then?" She frowns a little. "It's such a pity, though. I might even kill you to get my hands on him... Just for the one night, then I'd be gone. You'd never notice, though then again - you'd be dead and all, so-"


"Don't you dare say that!"

"Ow... Hey, that actually hurt, just a little bit", the other girl smirks, taking a few steps back so that she won't be punched again. "So, are you two an item?"

Anzu winces, but shakes her head. "That doesn't even matter. The fact is, I'm not letting some girl who nearly murdered me anywhere near my best friend!"

When clone merely yawns in the face of this furious challenge, the other girl merely rolls her eyes, turning her attention to Yugi. He doesn't look too badly injured, thankfully, but there's still some blood dripping off the numerous cuts someone has made on his arms, and he's not exactly moving.

He's not dead. There's no way, there's just no way, Marik starts mumbling again, his mind quietly urging Anzu to look Yugi over more properly, and check to see whether or not he's dead. It's not like she really has a choice about things, of course; given that the Egyptian could take Anzu over at any time - but still, the girl has to admit that she wants to know herself. It's not even really out of concern, either; more out of a terrible sort of curiosity that makes her reach out to touch his cheek, finding it to be still warm. Trembling a little, she forces herself to come nearer to his battered frame, hoping to hear him breathe-


She stiffens at the sound of the soft whisper, jumping back when the boy groans a little, shifting against his restraints. Purple eyes slide open a few seconds later, narrowing in pain against the harsh light, and Anzu's heart automatically flutters at the sight of a tired smile pulling at the corner of Yugi's lip. "Oh! A-are you okay?"

"Y-you really came..." He nods to his left. "M-my Puzzle. Could you... maybe?" Yugi makes a grasping motion, and Anzu honestly feels for him; the desperation in his eyes says it all, even before he's gone and tried to explain why he needs it, because the other him would surely be able to break out of the shackles, because the other him is a friend he must surely miss so much.

You have to give him the Puzzle. There's no other way out of this, unless he has it, Marik snarls. Don't even think about trying to-

"S-shut up!", she mumbles under her breath, then smiles condescendingly at Yugi, even as she shakes her head. "I'd love to, but..." She trails off, struggling to get her next words out - partially because the Egyptian is fighting her, and partially because she doesn't really want to say them herself, doesn't want to tell her best friend all about the other Anzu who might just try to kill him if she leaves him alone - or worse. For the better or for the worse, though, she doesn't get a chance - Yugi suddenly stiffens, staring hard over her shoulder. He licks his lips nervously, swallowing a few times before he speaks; his voice quiet, though there's definitely a hint of panic in it.

"Wh-why are there two of you? P-please don't tell me... you're..."

"Hah, no. I'm her clone, get it?", the doppelganger grins as she strides over, her loud voice making Anzu jump and Yugi wince. "I'm the person who's better than Anzu dearest in every possible way! Single, and very much open for any takers! Pleased to meet you!"

"You're not going to kill us?", the boy wonders, looking faintly bemused. "But, didn't Yugo say... the only way to get out was to kill some-"

"No, no. You're only supposed to kill your own twin if you want to get out. Me, I'm personally hoping you'll kick Mr. Ugly into next week."At this point, the clone giggles childishly at her own namecalling, Marik only just managing to stop Anzu from thumping the other girl yet again. "Come, now! Who would seriously wanna follow Mr. Ugly?"

Yugi stares at her for a very long time, before he sighs and shakes his head. "I don't think I'll ever be able to understand any of you grey-eyed people. At least you don't seem to think that you're better tha-"

"Oh, no, I'd never think that." The clone puffs her chest a little, standing straighter in such a manner as to pretty much incite Anzu into attacking her. "See, I know I'm better than Anzu over there. I'm just so much better, she's not even worth comparing me to."

Yugi sighs. "Look, can one of you two just get the Puzzle?"

"Sorry, but I can't do that", Anzu growls, not wanting to leave Yugi for a second with this weirdo.

"Me neither", the other girl shrugs. "No-one seems to trust me, anyway."

"Then - look, why don't you both go? I'm fine, honest...", the boy pleads, only to whimper softly when they both glare at him. "...okay, so maybe I'm not." He shakes his head as best the chains will allow him to. "I really need that Puzzle, but... I guess you two need some time to sort yourselves out, right?"

And time's the one thing we don't have at the moment!, Marik growls, suddenly barging into Anzu's head and trying to take, because taking is all he ever seems to do these days. Caught off guard, the girl has no chance of resisting; and so she hiccups, twitches, and then goes to get the Puzzle (against her better instincts). She doesn't want to leave Yugi alone with only that knife-toting psycho for company - but as soon as they're on the move, she finds herself encouraging Marik to just hurry up and find the damn pendant already, and now that he's found it, he should get right back to Yugi, before her doppelganger-

-and then she sees the television screens; and let's face it, her clone possibly making a move on her friend whilst her back is turned is seriously the least of her worries. The greenish hue to all the images certainly makes it harder to figure out what's going on, and the scene before is almost unbelievable, but it still makes Anzu scream nonetheless, throwing off the Egyptian's control as she charges straight back to Yugi, throwing the cord of the Puzzle over his neck. "W-we don't have much time! We have to get moving!"

You idiot! He'll be fine!

"No, he won't!"

Who cares? Yugo's my target, not-

"Well, he's not my target!"



Anzu groans inwardly, Marik appearing to attempt the mental equivalent of a facepalm. Yugi's stare remains confused even when his hair spikes up, and her doppelganger doesn't exactly look impressed. "Uh- I didn't mean that. I was... talking to someone?"

Heh, you were.

"Oh, shut up." Then, to the other two: "Sorry."

Having eyed her over for a long time, Yami Yugi sighs and shakes his head. "I will trust you with whatever secret you happen to be keeping." He nods to a large filing cabinet in the corner. "The key to these chains is in the fourth one from the top. Anzu the Clone, please go and get it." As the doppelganger scuttles off to grab it, the teenager looks at Anzu once again, features softening for a moment.

"You look almost... desperate."

Anzu blinks stupidly for a second; that's not generally a good word to describe her at all. She's always been relatively safe in the knowledge that either Yugi or the other Yugi or both will eventually save the day; they always have done in the past, and surely will do so again.

But let's face it: When you see one of your close friends attempting to chop a giant wolf-thing's head off, even as it tries its darndest to kill him, whilst a perfect copy of your friend appears to be trying to murder both combatants at once and an innocent is heading towards the room to be killed, you're gonna get desperate.


- We have a cover now, courtesy of Artworx88~ Thanks, bro!

– Another chapter, another clone introduction, another Sue parody to add to the list!

+ Canzu - The only clone to actually not attempt to kill her counterpart at any point, though she certainly did when the two of them first met. An overly cheerful little psycho, she's flirtatious with Yugi to the point of disgusting, and seems to believe that because she's better than Anzu, she should be the one to romance Yugi instead. Interestingly enough, actually dislikes Yugo to an extent; though then again, she's easily the most independent and disobedient clone of the group, blatantly ignoring the house rule saying that they have to kill each other. Or maybe she's just a very good actor...

Parody of both terrible Anzu character bashings (in particular those aggressive variants that frighten Yugi to some extent and/or force themselves upon him), and those overly cheerful Sues that basically walk up to a male character of their choice and demand to be kissed (and get it). Canzu is an extremely aggressive character romance-wise, which is pretty much the direct opposite of the shy Anzu, who's been shown to be too nervous to say anything to Yugi on multiple occasions in the manga - interestingly enough, this variant of Sue is often the sort that comes in in place of Anzu in an OC/Yugi fic.

Reply to Guest Review

Yami E: *throws a party with you*

Yay, Yami Yugi is here~ And yeah - he's actually not the creepy Season Zero Yami Yugi, xDD. He's probably more like the Yami Yugi that was seen all the way through the Battle City and Duelist Kingdom manga; have a quick read online of YGO Duelist chapter 90 (his truly awkward 'date'with Anzu) to see what I'm talking about. His main problem is that although he does care about people, he has a maaaajor tendency to state the obvious, use the wrong word choice in a given situation, and in general doesn't really identify with other people's emotions that well. The dub had him as much more outwardly caring, and there's a ton of fanfics that play him as sweeter still.

IDK, I referred to it as the control room pretty much because it's just the best place for Yugo to keep watch on everything, plus it has all the screens/computers/weapons he could ever need~ But yeah, they could be robots, especially given that I never mentioned what Cou's corpse looked like after a wolf-thing jumped on top of it. They'd have to be pretty advanced robots, though... Whoever's behind this must be awfully well-off.

Aheh, exactly - it was only after I'd tricked you into thinking Katsuya was Jou that I realized it was going to be ridiculously hard to explain that the guy Ryou is trying to kill isn't Jou at all, without using Jou's perspective to do it. It was confusing, too, because the idea that he randomly became a wolof due to the food doesn't explain why the others weren't affected, and obviously the clones shouldn't have been prancing around calling him Nine-Six-One if he didn't know them already. So yeah - revealing the Katsuya/Jou thing was done pretty much to sidestep around what's either a totally ludicrous or totally confusing moment in the plot~

Heh, it's no problem (was is really a couple of weeks ago I updated...? Eep, I'm getting slower!). You do mispell some things occasionally ('author', 'important'), tend to jump to the next line much sooner than you should (are you using mobile or something?) and mix tenses a little, but it's not like one can't tell what you're trying to say, or I wouldn't be able to reply properly to you here~

Pffft, people on here can be real idiots sometimes~ Go to any trollfic with a good number of reviews, and you'll find some of the snarkiest, nastiest comments I've ever seen. They're good for reading if you want to laugh at how dumb certain parts of fandoms can be, but... not so good when they're aimed at you. And reviewers sledging reviewers is just... Heh, that really is stupid. Authors want reviews, right? I kind of doubt they'd want to see reviewers fighting each other~

Until next time!