Disclaimer: Not Mine. The end. The song and scene that inspired this is from Miyazaki's 'Spirited Away'.
Comments are always welcome.
By, Nicole Silverwolf
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious."
"You cannot create experience. You must undergo it."
It shouldn't have surprised him that it was nearly midnight when they stepped off of Seto Kaiba's helicopter onto the airstrip. It had been late in the afternoon by the time they had finished all that had needed to be accomplished at the castle; and it had been a good hour's walk back to the clearing by the sea where the young CEO had left the chopper that had brought him to the Duelist Kingdom. The sun had already set and it was difficult for all of them to navigate the rapidly darkening paths, littered with branches and tree roots.
He had been slightly surprised that Kaiba had even agreed to let them come with him back to the outskirts of Domino City. Tristan suspected it really had to do with Mokuba's clearly pleading eyes and the fact that arguing would have taken too long. They all wanted to get as far away from this island and its worst memories as soon as possible.
The flight had been quiet and uneventful and the seven of them had barely spoken at all. The chopper's pad was located far outside the city however, and now they would definitely have to take the subway back home.
Being one to think about things others wouldn't, Tristan had been the only one to bring any money with him. And since he didn't work, it wasn't nearly enough for a cab.
Seto was heading in the opposite direction, so his limo was out of the question. And the way Mokuba was draped over the older brother's body and shoulders--fast asleep--took away the option of going with them and getting driven home afterwards. It looked like they had used up all the charity that Kaiba was willing to offer them anyways.
So with a very awkward goodbye, the remaining five of them walked the two blocks to the nearest train stop.
It was deserted and so unnaturally quiet that everyone made a comment about it. Sure it had been that quiet on the island, but now that they were back, it seemed almost eerily silent.
"It is after midnight on a Wednesday guys...I'd kinda expect it to be like this."
"After all the crap we've been through in the last couple weeks I'm ready to be paranoid about anything!" That was from Joey and he would have to agree.
Though they had won the fight...it didn't seem like things were really over for them. In particular for their shortest friend. Tristan turned his eyes on Yugi as they waited. He seemed a little quieter than usual. Not catatonic like he had scared them all before. But he definitely wasn't the Yugi who Tristan had come to befriend all those months ago.
That was unfair he decided a moment later.
Especially on this journey.
It was naïve to think that the person they had come to help wouldn't have been changed in ways also. Ways that would probably change everything for the newly dubbed 'King of Duelists'.
He didn't have time to ponder it further as the sounds of approaching clacking metal on the track and the bright glare of headlights alerted them to the coming of the last train of the night.
They were the only passengers to get onto the nearly deserted car. A man dressed in a suit sat with a briefcase at one end, and two college students sat with half closed lids and headphones playing quietly. An older woman was sitting facing forward, her arms clutched around a shoulder bag. Wearing a cleaning uniform, another guy sat reading a book with a lunch container at his feet.
And the five of them.
Bakura sat quietly, taking up only one seat, though they could have all laid down on the benches and still left plenty of room. Tea and Joey sat next to him, both looking a little more tired than before. Yugi however, chose to sit across from them, alone on the bench that faced the four of them. He looked tired too, but wired at the same time. Like if he closed his eyes the world might just wink out of existence.
The train lurched away from the station and as the conductor passed through the train, Tristan held up all the money he had. Just enough to get the five of them back to their respective homes.
"Hey thanks man. I didn't even remember needing money for the train." Joey smiled sleepily at him.
A small chorus of 'thanks' and sincere 'thank you's' rose from the remaining passengers.
"No problem guys. We gotta get home somehow right?" He replied, leaning back and stretching his frame out. Boy was he looking forward to a shower and a real bed. And dinner...with forks and knives...and NO eyeball soup. That had been just creepy and disgusting. Clean clothes too. That was going to feel awesome.
The lightest of blonde fringe entered his line of vision and his thoughts flew away without any command to do so. Curiously Tristan tilted his head towards his long time friend.
Arms stiffly crossed and hugging the battered green jacket close for warmth, Joey's head was lowered so his chin was resting on his chest. Chocolate brown eyes were closed, though it wasn't necessarily by Joey's express wishes. He must have been exhausted. The slight but relatively rhythmic motions of the train only helping to lull him into a doze.
Bakura was leaning against the long metal pole that went from floor to ceiling, valiantly attempting to stay awake. So that they didn't miss their stop. His eyes would stay closed a little longer every time, until finally they remained that way. At each stop however he would open them with a start and look around, confirming where they were.
Tea was the last to nod off, her blue eyes worriedly watching Yugi until she just couldn't keep them open anymore. She was curled slightly on her side, back to Joey, facing the front of the train.
The man with the briefcase got off first. Then the two college students and the lady with the handbag. Two stops later the cleaning man who had been reading stood and slipped off onto the platform.
Staring into nothing wasn't hard, and though he was sorely tempted to give into the sleepiness that weighed down everything in him...he couldn't. He needed to stay awake so that they didn't miss their stop. He didn't particularly fancy being stuck on the opposite end of town with no viable way to get home. And there wasn't any believable excuse to tell any of their parents if they called to ask for a ride.
The brightly colored advertisement for a local continuing education program at university had held his attention for far to long when he checked on his collection of friends. To make sure none of them had fallen out of their chairs or anything.
He moved slowly, carefully, trying (with moderate success) not to disturb Joey who was slumping by the second into his side. Tea was fine, as was Bakura who had leaned back and was pillowing his head on the arm gripping the pole.
That was when he noticed Yugi. For the one among them who had endured the most, fought the hardest, learned the most, and suffered the greatest, Tristan was sure he would be curled up and fast asleep. Most likely actually folded into a ball on the seat. He was small enough that he could have legitimately done that and probably been comfortable.
It was astonishing how wrong he was.
Yugi was sitting rigidly straight in the seat across from him and completely oblivious to Tristan's eyes critically watching him. Worried was only the first emotion that Tristan could call to mind. Yugi's head was turned towards the front of the car and his violet eyes almost sparked with their intensity. He barely blinked. He wasn't relaxed at all.
He was tenser than Tristan had ever seen him before. His fists were balled on his knees, the golden Millenium Puzzle lying between them. Everything from head to foot about his friend was practically vibrating as he stared forward.
It was obvious something was bothering him. Tristan debated what to do for a second or so...not really sure what road to take. While he considered Yugi one of his greatest friends, he knew he wasn't as close to the young Duelist as Joey or Bakura was. They had something to truly connect with, Joey as an enthusiastic and admittedly skilled duelist and Bakura with that horrid ring that had granted him a split personality that was just plain EVIL.
Tea had known Yugi for longer than any of them, and he would have had to be blind not to see that the boy had a crush on her. He didn't know if anything would come of it but it wasn't his place to interfere.
He was a good student, top grades like Yugi. But that really wasn't something that could connect them. He didn't duel...at least not seriously. There were times he felt more like a chaperone than a friend.
It was the almost totally hidden hiccup that would forever get his attention. Tristan didn't dare move his head, for fear of disturbing Yugi or waking one of the others. To the end of his days he never knew why he did that.
Only his sharp brown eyes tracked up and watched as Mutuo Yugi tried very, very hard to hide the fact that he was crying.
Admittedly he was doing a pretty good job.
The only signs of the change in the small boy were the clear tears sliding down and leaving trails on his face. Occasionally the lip he was biting down on would waver as he managed to pull in extra air he was denying himself.
Tristan was very sure he had never seen a more miserable person in his whole short life. He had to do something. But what?
He couldn't begin to comprehend what his friend was feeling or thinking. Whatever he might say would be nothing more than embarrassing or trite and cliched beyond belief. How could he possibly put any of Yugi's fears to rest? They didn't know if his grandfather was alright, whether he would recover from this...if he would. Just because the Kaiba brothers had recovered was no guarantee that Yugi's grandfather would do the same.
He didn't know anything about how the puzzle worked, or what it had been like in that Realm of Darkness despite what he had told Yugi about how he had felt like he was battling beside him. It had shaken him. Something had happened. He could just feel it. Maybe that was catching up with him.
It didn't matter though.
Because in that brief moment of indecision, Tristan was forever glad he held back anything he might have said.
At first it wasn't really that noticeable.
Nothing seemed to have changed.
But the Puzzle had glowed for the briefest of seconds...brighter than it normally sparkled.
And then the folds on Yugi's jacket had not made sense. There were bunches, where there shouldn't have been and hadn't been a moment ago. Almost like someone had placed a hand there.
Tristan narrowed his eyes and peered in confusion at the jacket. It didn't look right but he had to be imagining things...right?
A glance at the window however forced him to reconsider.
They hadn't turned any corners and there hadn't been any significant change in lighting...nothing drastic enough so that the image of TWO Yugi's could have appeared in the plexi-glass windows.
His eyes narrowed and he scrutinized the image over and over...memorizing and comparing everything his sharp eyes could catch. A detached portion of his brain noted how he was doing great spy work. But it was overshadowed by what he was seeing.
While the two Yugi's were remarkably similar--scarily so--there were differences.
Most noticeably around the eyes. The reflection's were more narrow, slightly darker in color, though it could have been only because of the dim reflection being given off by the glass.
Where Yugi's face was curved and still looked very much like that of a child; the reflection's reminded Tristan of what he thought Yugi might look like ten years down the line, or what he had looked like when he had dueled on the island. The angles were harsher--more defined but still essentially Yugi.
He couldn't be really sure but the image on the glass looked like his hair was slightly different than the young man trying to hide the tears.
The reflection was easily larger than the real Yugi sitting there.
It hit him like a ton of bricks and he almost smacked himself for overlooking it.
He had believed it to a certain degree when Yugi had explained he had another spirit inside him. But to have it confirmed? No matter how little he might be seeing. He couldn't blame it on a dream; he knew he was awake. Or else Joey's elbow wouldn't be poking his rib so painfully.
It was the only explanation.
After all they had seen, all HE had seen...with cards coming to life, the Shadow Realm, the dramatic and frightening change Bakura had undergone when they had been trapped, that bubble that had trapped Yugi with Pegasus, the vague memory of being trapped AS a card. Was it really that impossible to believe in one more thing?
Regardless of whether it was real or not, whatever had happened, whoever this spirit was had helped to calm Yugi some. Tristan could almost imagine that he saw the indentation of a thumb gently rubbing back and forth across Yugi's shoulder. Slowly the hunched shoulders dropped and exhaustion seemed to finally creep in over his younger seeming friend.
There were times when it was hard not to think of Yugi as younger than the rest of them. Especially now.
After a long minute or two (Tristan couldn't keep track of the time without taking his eyes away from the scene) Yugi's violet eyes drifted shut for a moment and his body relaxed back into where the spirit might have sat. Almost like he was leaning against someone, though no one was there.
The reflection was fading almost as if it was never there, but right before it was impossible to see anything of the other spirit Tristan caught its eye.
A gentle, decidedly lopsided smile and a warm nod of thanks were directed solely at him before the apparition was gone.
He was too stunned and awed to do anything for a good minute and a half.
The voice of the announcer woke him from his revere.
"Next stop...Swamp Bottom Road and Sixth Street. Change here for the Red Line."
That was their stop. Gently Tristan reached out and shook Bakura awake. The white haired boy sat up with a start, obviously not having meant to fall asleep. He yawned before nodding.
Tea and Joey were shaken awake gently and they both stood and stretched with eyes at half-mast. Tristan had taken care not to bother or draw attention to Yugi, who was scrubbing furiously at the tear tracks on his face and attempting to get himself together before the others saw what had happened.
The train lurched to a stop and they disembarked onto a once again deserted platform.
Tea and Joey lived in the same direction as Yugi. Tristan did as well, but Bakura was to head in the opposite direction.
They parted slowly despite the late (early) hour, lingering in one of the greatest adventures they had ever had. It was all over now. Tomorrow they would go back to normalcy and routines...it was hard to think of that after days of running for your life and fighting for the souls of your family and friends.
They drifted off slowly towards home. First Joey broke off (not without numerous thanks to Yugi for giving him the prize money and numerous promises to be there in the morning when they went to see Yugi's grandfather in the hospital). Tea was next as she lived slightly up the block from Yugi and then Tristan who lived two blocks south of Yugi.
Stopping in front of the Game Shop Tristan eyed Yugi critically for a long moment.
"You gonna be alright Yugi?"
The short duelist--his friend--looked up with too wise eyes. And somehow Tristan knew that he knew.
"Yeah. I'll be ok Tristan." He seemed about to ask something else and then held it back.
"What is it Yug?"
Indecision warred in the violet eyes before coming to some sort of consensus with his thoughts.
"You believe me...don't you." And the question was more a statement than anything.
Tristan nodded seriously. He did. In a way that no one else did yet.
"No problem man. That's what friends are for."
He didn't need to ask to keep this between themselves. They just knew they would. He felt honored that Yugi hadn't had to ask. The others would figure it out in time. Tea and Joey already suspected it. He was relatively certain Bakura knew about the spirit from the Puzzle already.
But he could claim he had seen it first.
The swaying Yugi was undergoing was not unimagined and Tristan tipped his head and saluted with two fingers.
"I'll seeya tomorrow Yugi?"
"Of course Tristan."
"G'Night Tristan. And thanks. Thanks for everything."
He smiled at this before turning and strolling leisurely up the street. The jingle of the shop's bell ringing in the air was all that pierced the quiet night.
Soooooo comments, criticism, flames, praise...anything you'd like to throw at me? Please do so now.
Thanks for reading.