Ack! I forgot to answer questions and stuff last chapter. So I'll do it this one!
Pruningshears – About Bakura acting not so upset in Chapter 12. Well even though he doesn't like death, I get this feeling like it's happened before, ya know? So he just deals with it kinda quietly...
Lady Wolf Moon – Ah, Bakura's being dealt with in this chapter, do not worry about him. I was just tying up some loose ends...not all of them.
Linchi - laughs nervously Um, there's kinda this funny thing where I don't actually do that whole dueling thing. I'm in love with Yu-Gi-Oh's storyline, not the dueling (don't get me wrong, I love the monsters...so well drawn with great personalities!).
Thanks to the rest of you all for reviewing and for the wonderful encouragement. This is the last chapter...sniff I always feel this way when I end a story. But luckily, my brain is moving, and I do have a new story all worked up! Now I just have to start it...blushes
Thank you all once again for your support. The story would not have been written without it. As for this last chapter...remember that this is based on the show. Thus the small, awkward flirt scene between the most obvious pairing on the show as well as Mai's attitude. She's not a ditz, but she doesn't seem to hold much love for camping. Um, oh, and Joey and Tristen are semi-intelligent...ya know, like they actually should be shown more or less...:P
"Hey! Hey Joey! Earth to Joey! Wake up!"
Joey jumped a few feet off the ground, rubbing his aching thigh. Growling, he glared at the foot that had caused the bruise he knew was going to form, following the brown shoe up the leg to its owner.
"You didn't have to kick me, ya know?" he replied crossly, yawning and stretching before picking himself up from the cozy patch of grass.
"I've only been trying to wake you up for the past fifteen minutes!" Tristen said while putting his friend into a headlock. "I guess I should've ignored Téa and used that water after all. You sure do need a shower." Joey growled louder and struggled to get out of Tristen's grip.
"Will you two stop it?!" Téa yelled. "We need to keep looking for Yugi and Bakura." Tristen released a grateful Joey. The blonde rubbed his neck and glared at the taller boy.
"Hey, I'm just as worried about them as you are," Tristen said, "but it's been nearly two days since Yugi and that creepy look-a-like ran off, and Bakura's been gone for a whole day."
"So you just want to give up, is that it?" She gave him the women's you-better-not-say-yes-and-reply-with-something-really-good-or-else glare.
"No, no!" Tristen replied quickly, putting his hands up defensively. "I'm just saying...that...um...well..."
"We need a break, Téa." Tristen silently thanked Joey for saving him from his expected doom. "Look," the blonde continued, "I care just as much about Yug as you do, but we haven't slept for almost two days. We're tired and hungry and....did that bush just move?"
Téa squealed and ran behind Joey and Tristen, both who had taken up fighting stances. The bush rustled again, and Mai stepped out, pulling twigs and leaves from her hair as she approached the relieved group.
"Don't scare us like that Mai," Joey scolded, relaxing again.
"Don't scare you?! This is the welcome I get after I hiked all the way around this nasty forest? Do you know what's in a forest?!" she yelled. "There's bugs and mud and twigs and they all want to crawl on me!"
"Did you find Yugi?" a hopeful Téa asked, ignoring Mai's complaints.
"No," she sighed. "All of my hard work, and I never saw the kid."
"Well you didn't look hard enough."
All four people turned around to see a tired, dirty, yet safe Yugi.
"Hey guys," he said smiling cheerfully. Téa had her arms around him seconds later. Yugi's eyes widened, shock coming over him as her shoulders started shaking. "Téa..." He placed a hand on her back, rubbing gently. "Hey, it's ok. I'm fine." She pulled away, and Yugi found himself once again surprised. But this time she was angry.
"Yugi Motou," she said fiercely, pointing a finger at him, "don't you ever scare me like that again. I was so worried..."
Yugi smiled and placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder.
"I'm sorry Téa. I promise I'll be more careful," he said.
"You better..." she mumbled, wiping her eyes. Happy with his answer, she stood and backed up so that the others could greet Yugi.
"Hey man!" Joey and Tristen ran up to him, "what happened? Where've ya been? What happened to the other you? You look tired? Got any food?"
"Whoa whoa..." Yugi held up his hands to defend himself from the barrage of questioning. "Slow down guys."
"Hey!" Joey exclaimed, grabbing Yugi's wrist and turning it around a few times. "You got all ten! How'd you do that?"
"I challenged someone to a duel and won. How else would I get them?" he teased. Samson had been upset at losing, but the man kept his promises. There had been a tearful good-bye...well, mostly tearful for Samson, who Yugi had to pry off to finally get away.
"Good going kid," Mai said.
"Yeah, congratulations," Tristen added, looking around them. "But, um, where's the other Yugi? I kinda don't see him around here or anything..."
"He's back where he belongs. In here," he held up the puzzle, "and here," he finished pointing to his heart.
"So then you guys are ok? No more disliking each other and all that?" Joey asked. Yugi nodded.
"Yup! We had a few bumps, but everything's been worked out," he said.
For that I am glad, Ki added. Yugi smiled internally at his words.
"So, he's still inside you then?" Joey asked. "Is there, you know, anyway we could meet him? After all, he's been hangin' with us ever since you have. We need to officially welcome Yugi Number Two into da group."
I have a name.
"Firstly, his name is Ki," Yugi told the others. "And maybe sometime later. He seems a little grumpy right now."
You would be too if you had almost died and then dueled an eliminator with no rest in between, Ki replied indignantly.
"Great!" Joey said. "Now if we could only find Bakura, we could get into that nice warm castle up there and have a decent meal."
There was a loud yelp, and Tristen spun just in time to catch a flailing Bakura. After untangling his foot from a few vines, a rather red ring bearer was able to stand on his own two feet.
"Well there goes my surprise entrance," he softly joked. The others laughed politely, alleviating some of the embarrassment from the poor boy.
He's still there... Ki hissed, staring through Yugi's eyes at the place he knew the ring sat under the heavy sweater.
"And where have you been?" Mai demanded. Bakura turned red again and stared at his shoes as if they were the ones that had asked the question.
"Well...you see, I was looking for Yugi same as all of you, and...well...I'm as directionally challenged as I am clumsy," he explained. Tristen laughed and patted the smaller boy on the back.
"Well don't worry. We never leave anyone behind. You're safe as long as you're with us," he said. Bakura smiled warmly at the kind gesture.
"Well then, since we don't seem to have anything else to wait on, what's our next plan of action?" he asked. Joey grinned and proudly showed off Yugi's ten starchips.
"We're headin' to da castle now! See if we can't win some of that prize money and a grandpa, right Yug?" he asked.
"Well what're we waiting for then? C'mon, I need a decent room and shower." Mai turned and started walking towards the looming castle. Everyone turned and followed, but as Bakura trotted to catch up with the group, Yugi placed a hand on his arm. Knowingly, the white haired teen stayed at the back, walking next to his smaller friend.
"Ki says he can banish your spirit," Yugi said quietly once they had fallen back far enough from the rest of the group.
"He's still alive?" Bakura smiled. "I'm glad. The spirit has hurt so many people..."
"Did you hear me?" Yugi regarded his friend with concern. There was a faraway, misted look in those brown eyes. The taller boy sighed.
"Yes," he said, even softer than usual.
"Hey Tristen," Joey poked his target. "We're going to lose them again." He jerked his thumb back to the two boys deep in conversation. Tristen shook his head.
"Naw," he said. "I'm keeping an eye on them. Yugi's probably is explaining the whole Ki thing to Bakura."
"You think that's it?" Joey asked, looking back again. "I mean, it is pretty weird that they both got lost and showed up about the same time. And I've been having these weird dreams...like memories, ya know? Me an' you an' Téa an' Yugi battlin' with Big Ki and Big Bakura..."
"Drop it Joey," Tristen said. "I trust Yugi and Bakura. They'll tell us if they think we need to know."
"Yeah...I guess you're right." Joey sounded unsure, though. He took another glance at the two at the rear of the group. Bakura was sighing.
"Can I ask you something Yugi?" he wondered.
"When Ki betrayed you...you felt horrible right? Like you couldn't believe someone so close to you, someone who had guided you for so long, had actually wanted to do this horrible thing, right?" he asked. Yugi nodded. "And when you pushed him out of you, Yugi, didn't it hurt? I don't mean just physically; didn't your soul hurt beyond words? Didn't you, for one moment, want to die instead of giving up that other half of you? The part that completed you?"
Bakura had turned to look at Yugi at this point, his gaze penetrating the other with such intensity that Yugi was forced to look away. Every word spoken was like an arrow piercing his heart.
"You must know how I feel then," Bakura continued, so quiet Yugi strained to hear him. "Every time he hurts someone else, I feel so much pain. Why? Why does he continue to do it, even though he knows it rips at my soul?"
Yugi looked back up at Bakura. He was silently crying as walked.
"I'm not sure why, Yugi. I wish it could be so simple as to say he doesn't care about my feelings. But that can't be true. If it was, I wouldn't be able to feel him pacing right now. My crying bothers him. He doesn't like it. It upsets him. Like it upset him when I was hurt because he wanted to kill you. That's why he stopped. That's why he didn't kill you. Because of me." Bakura wiped his eyes, determination apparent on his face.
"I can't let you banish him. I know it sounds crazy, but I just can't let you. He's my other half, and as long as he continues to be upset and worry about me, I will always give him another chance to prove himself," he whispered fiercely. Yugi smiled, a wistful look in his eyes.
"It's not crazy." Yugi felt bonded to Bakura at that moment. They shared something: a common feeling and experience, that no other, not even their other half's, could ever comprehend. They had both been and would still go through troubling times when their faith in the darker parts of them would be tested. They both feared one of those times would end in incomprehensible pain. At that moment, they understood each other completely.
"Thank you." Bakura held up his ring for a moment, letting the evening light glint off of it, giving the appearance the boy held a ring of fire.
Dark Ring, Ki snarled. That monster is just lucky he has such a gentle soul to look after him.
Everyone deserves second chances, Yugi replied.
That Stealer of Souls has had all the second chances he needs, he retorted. Bakura has to draw the line one of these days.
That will be for Bakura to decide.
If he survives, Ki said.
Ki... Yugi warned.
As long as it is Bakura's wish, I will not interfere. The spirit sighed dejectedly. Unless he tries to hurt you or your friends, that is.
Thank you, Yugi replied with a smile. Ki blinked.
For what? he asked. You already knew I'd protect you.
I mean for not being like Bakura's spirit. Thank you for being the person you are, Yugi said.
You were worried before, though, that I was like him. You were, weren't you?
Yes. But you proved me wrong. Yugi felt Ki ruffle his hair affectionately.
Bakura and you were chosen for a reason. Though I'm not like the Spirit of the Ring, I do need guidance of my own. I am glad to have someone like you keep me focused on what is really important. Ki felt Yugi's happiness swell through and blend with his own. For a second, he felt true bliss.
The Spirits of the Millennium Items and, yes, their guardians (for it is truly the light that tells the darkness where it may exist)...they are two hearts, two minds, two souls, two very different people, forced to share one body. But when two halves long for it, when they truly trust each other, for a moment, they are one.
"Hey you losers! Last one to the castle door is a rotten egg!" Mai called down already having reached the stone steps. Yugi was jolted out of his conversation, shaking his head to clear it. Everyone was looking at him.
"Let's go!" he cheered.
"Yeah!" they all shouted and started racing up the steps.
"Gangway!" Joey shouted.
"You gangway!" Téa yelled back.
"Hey, wait up!" Bakura called all the way from the back.
"And Tristen takes the lead!" Tristen whooped.
And so the story goes...