Disclaimer: I of course do not own the concept of Yu-Gi-Oh, or any characters. All rights belong to the creators. I merely borrow their ideas to fuel my own stories inspired by their brilliant world.
Summary: Yugi had one wish, and that was to have a single true friend. When gifted the Millennium Puzzle, she childishly dreamed it had the power to make her one wish come true. Little did she realize the stranger trapped inside may be the friend she was looking for. Unfortunately, nothing comes without a price. Fem!Yugi Gender Bender. Atem X Yugi. A slight retelling of the original with some unexpected twists.
Confide in Me, Beautiful Soul
He wasn't sure how long it had been since he felt a sense of self, a sense of existence. In the darkness his mind roused, broken fragments of information spilling in with a gentle sigh. Just who was he, and where was this place? All he knew for certain, is that he had been asleep for a very long time.
With growing concern he tried to twitch a finger, only to find that he didn't have one, or at least not one he could feel. In fact he had no feeling, no physical body to register the dread that started growing. His eyes opened, or at least what he hoped was his eyes, and all that greeted him was a darkness so severe he doubted if he was even capable of vision.
Panic growing he delved into his memories, hoping to find some clue as to just what was happening. Nothing. Nothing. That couldn't be right, there had to be something. Forcing himself to calm he focused on what he did know. He was a he. He was sixteen. He knew words and had a general understanding of what things were, and he…something about Egypt? A gasp escaped him, pain searing across his senses. A corporal hand flew to his head as he curled in on himself. It was strange to move, but not feel the sensation. He gradually came to understand that there was some existence to him that he could send signals to, but it wasn't physical.
He was…a ghost? A spirit?
'Is this the belly of Ammit?' The thought pulled at him, a tormenting spiral. Had he been a bad person? Was this his punishment, his heart devoured by Ammit causing his soul to be trapped in darkness? This suffocating isolation where the only feelings he experienced were the emotions coursing through him? No sense of self to focus on. No memories to comfort him. Not a soul to explain the confusion and shed even a sliver of hope? 'This must be Ammit.' He wasn't sure he could bare it, this nothingness around him. The silence.
'From Egypt? How cool.'
He blinked in surprise. That voice, it was not his own. It was softer, more delicate, and less mature. A child's voice? Where had it come from? Why was it here, in this terrible place with him? Surely a voice such as that could not host a heart who weighed heavier than the feather of Ma'at?
'Hm…this is harder than I thought it would be. Maybe if I put this one there…?'
A sudden sense of intrigue drifted to him, mixed with slight aggravation. He frowned, recognizing that these emotions did not originate from himself. He tried to grasp onto the feelings, tried to find a source. His corporal fingers flittered uselessly in the darkness. It was no good, he couldn't pull himself to them.
'What a hard puzzle! Grandpa wasn't kidding. I hope I can solve it.'
Anxiety. Uncertainty. They drifted to him, foreign yet familiar. Whoever this child was, he could sense their emotions almost as easily as he felt his own. 'Puzzle?' His mind zeroed in on the word, something registering in his memories like a soft echo. 'Puzzle…That sounds…that sounds right. I remember a puzzle. Something about a Millennium item.'
'I wonder what it could be? It's so pretty, I bet it makes something beautiful.' The voice was wistful now, full of longing. 'I hope I solve it soon. I really want to make my wish.'
Those innocent feelings, the childlike wonder and hope, filled him and calmed the growing ache in his chest. He wasn't sure where he was or what was happening, but listening to that soft voice brought a sense of comfort. At least he wasn't alone, and he couldn't be in the belly of Ammit. Something about them felt reassuring, and it seemed the more they talked the more his shattered mind drew together. 'Yes…I remember, just a bit. If that person solves the puzzle, I will be free from this place.' He let out a breath, tension leaving. Patience then, he had to have patience. There was still hope for him, amidst this dark abyss.
'It's weird…holding this puzzle. I already feel less alone.'
'I feel the same, little one.' He closed his eyes, contentment filling him as he continued to listen to the thoughts drifting through from the young mind who held the Millennium Puzzle.
Yugi huffed, feeling aggravated yet again. No matter how hard she tried, the darn pieces wouldn't fit together. She stared at them, the gold glinting back at her as a pale ray of light danced upon them from her bedroom window. She picked up a single piece, eyeing it with a pout as her cheek rested in her free hand.
She had been trying to solve this darn thing for eight years now. It didn't seem to matter what she did, how many times she went through it - she never came even close to fixing more than two pieces together at a time. Somehow they fit, she knew that, but the how eluded her. Yet, she couldn't stop this nagging feeling, a curiosity bordering on obsession, to solve the ancient puzzle. She would never give up. The feeling had been growing in intensity as of late, the puzzle on her mind more often than not. Her life seemed to revolve around it, and not just on figuring out how to solve it.
With a small smile she set the piece down, turning her gaze instead to the road outside her window as thoughts swam through her. Maybe it was because of the way the puzzle made her feel that she found herself constantly itching to hold it? A strange sense of warmth and security spread every time the pieces fumbled through her fingers.
It was her greatest treasure, and she felt like such a child because of it. This puzzle had been her only confidant through the harsh years of her parent's tragic passing, and the bullying she faced even to this day from her peers. Somehow she just felt her secrets spilling out in the night to the ancient item, crying softly as she held them close to her chest. As if they were a living thing that could hug her…and yet, oddly, she always felt reassured after doing it. She knew it was childish to cherish a simple toy in such a fashion, because of course it was a toy, it was a puzzle made for curious minds that existed before her world was even dreamed about. The importance she placed upon it was probably unhealthy, but that was what desperate lonely minds did. She had no friends, so she found comfort where she could.
It was her greatest desire, to have friends who would be as loyal and caring to her as she would be to them. Maybe that was why she was so desperate to solve the puzzle, because according to her Grandpa whoever solved the mysterious item was granted a single wish.
"Yugi! You're going to be late!"
She jumped slightly, startled out of her thoughts by her Grandpa's admonishing tone. A quick glance to the clock had panic filling her as she hastily swept the puzzle pieces safely back inside their ancient box. Carefully, but still swiftly, she placed the box inside her backpack before zipping the bag up and dashing down the stairs. "Sorry Grandpa! No time for breakfast I'll see you after school!"
She was out the door with one shoe on, jumping as she tried to slip the second one on, before her Grandpa had a chance to even utter a goodbye. She suddenly stopped, eyes widening before she dashed back inside.
"Yugi, what on earth-" Her Grandpa began, before being silence by a kiss on the cheek and smothered in a hug. "Forgot, you're heading out in a few hours for your adventure. Have fun Grandpa, I'll miss you! Love you lots." She smiled warmly at him before dashing away again, the door slamming shut behind her.
The old man stared at the door in aggravation. He hadn't managed to finish a single sentence. That child!
Her hands fiddled with a single puzzle piece as she stared out the classroom window, chin resting in her propped up hand. She twirled the piece through her fingers, back and forth, planning out her new strategy of solving the puzzle when class was over. Her eyes glanced to the clock above the door, noting it wouldn't be long now.
Finally the bell rang, and students began leaving the classroom. She waited at her desk patiently, not willing to expose her secret treasure to any who lingered behind. It was lunchtime, so she had an entire hour to work on the puzzle. She couldn't explain it, but she felt like she was close to figuring it out.
Finally when the classroom was empty, she glanced around, just to make sure, before digging into her backpack eagerly. With a small smile she pulled the ancient box that stored her puzzle out onto her desk. She cracked it open –
"Whatcha got there?"
Dread shot through her as she looked up in surprise to the mischievous brown eyes of none other than Jonouchi Katsuya. He was behind her, leaning over her shoulder in an attempt to peer into the box she was just about to open, blonde hair tickling her cheek. Hastily she snapped the lid closed, moving to place it back into her backpack.
"Jeez man, don't just disappear like that I was talking to myself for like –" Honda Hiroto paused as he strode into the classroom, the angry scowl on his face disappearing in place of a curious grin. "Oh hey Yugi."
Jonouchi used Yugi's momentary distraction to swipe the box from her fingers. She yelped in surprise, reaching urgently for it as he raised it high above her head. With a wicked grin he danced away from her, laughing as he shook the mysterious box next to his ear, "What's in dis thing anyways?"
She stood from her seat, nervously chewing her lower lip. "It's nothing."
"Doesn't look like nothing." Honda walked up to Jonouchi, peering at the box curiously. "What are you doing with this old stupid thing anyway?" Brown eyes turned inquisitive as they shifted to her, a single eyebrow raised.
The two loomed before her, their taller statures easily dwarfing her own. She was considered small for her age, and the height difference made it easy to intimidate her.
"P-Please give it back."
Jonouchi's lip twitched, a slight scowl spreading before he covered it in a forced grin. "Why doncha make me den?" He stepped in front of Honda, leering down at her as he struck his chest with his thumb. "C'mon be a man an fight me for it!" His Brooklyn accent was thick as his frustration with her grew.
Jonouchi thought Yugi was a boy. This suited her fine, as she purposely dressed in boy attire for this exact effect. With her gravity defying tri-colored hair (courtesy of an extensive amount of wax, and inspired by her Grandpa's natural style) and small bust it was easy to convince her school it was a boy's body hiding in the baggy male school uniform. It hadn't been on purpose, her female uniform having been wrecked on the way to school on her first day and this being the only spare, but once she saw the effect she was loathed to let it go. With special permission from the principle she was able to keep the uniform and continue her mascaraed as a different gender, so long as she followed a few rules…such as not going into the male bathrooms and locker rooms. It made keeping her ruse rather difficult at times, but the social pressure was less and the safety she felt hard to let go of. No longer did she receive perverted leers from men on her way to school.
She jumped for the box, hoping the surprise would be enough to snatch it away. Jonouchi sneered as he hastily raised it higher, just out of reach. "If yeah want it yeah have ta fight me for it Yug."
She lowered her eyes, hands fisting at her side. "No."
"Wha?" Jonouchi shook the box, the contents rattling within as he stared at her incuriously. "Isn't this important to you?" He knew that it was. He often found Yugi alone in the classroom, sitting at his desk in silent concentration as he obsessively worked to put the blasted thing together. He had never seen Yugi more focused and present. The kid was often lost in thought, or meekly scurrying away to some unobtrusive corner where he wouldn't be noticed.
"Forget it Jonouchi, Yugi doesn't care about anything enough to fight for it." Honda grabbed the box, turning it this way and that before looking down at Yugi. "He isn't brave enough to care."
Frustration building she jumped for it again. "Just give it back!" Her fingers brushed the cool metal surface, the tips just barely reaching before Honda moved it away. "Hey Jonouchi, go long!" The brunette suddenly yelled, arching the box back like it was a football in his hand. Yugi stared in horror as Jonouchi laughed wickedly, running to the other end of the classroom near an open window. He waived his long arms, "I'm open I'm open!"
"No, don't -!"
Honda tossed the box, the puzzle making a momentary rattle as it flew through the air and landed in Jonouchi's hands, thankfully not a single piece falling loose. He grinned maliciously at Yugi, shaking the box mockingly. "Come get it then."
Yugi ran for him, trying to reach it as Jonouchi held her back with one hand against her head. She waved her arms frantically, trying to dislodge him, but the guy was just too strong. He held the box higher, before moving it over to the open window. She stilled, desperation filling her. "No…please no."
It was the wrong thing to say. Jonouchi's anger seemed to grow with every display of meekness she showed. "Stop being such a wuss. Do something then." He tipped the box, the lid popping open as he dangled it precariously over the edge.
She felt tears begin to surface, amethyst eyes boring into brown. "Please Jonouchi. Please give it back." Her tone was pleading, desperate even. She hated how weak she was.
Honda scoffed. "Just dump it. He's not going do anything but cry Jonouchi."
Jonouchi watched Yugi, eying her up silently before sighing in aggravation. He pulled the box back inside, and Yugi felt her shoulders sag in relief. He slowly moved the box back to her, and with a tentative smile she reached for it, hesitantly grabbing it before hugging it close to her chest. Finally, it was back in her hands.
"What are you doing man?" Honda snapped, disbelief evident.
Jonouchi gave a sudden evil grin. A flash of gold caught her attention, and she looked up to find him holding a single piece of the puzzle. Her eyes widened. "Don't worry, it's useless if he doesn't have all the pieces." And with a small grunt he tossed the piece out the window. Yugi scrambled over to the edge as a cry tore from her lips.
Down the piece fell, glittering in the sun before it was swallowed by the lake, fading from sight. She felt her knees go weak, barely registering as Jonouchi walked past her to join Honda, both laughing as they walked from the classroom. Just as they rounded the door Jonouchi paused to glance back at her, a slightly torn expression on his face before a firm resolve steeled his gaze and he looked away, following Honda down the hall.
She never saw it though. Instead her gaze stayed on the lake, watching the disturbed surface begin to calm. Now alone in the classroom, she slid to the floor, clutching the ancient box to her chest as tears silently streamed down her cheeks. It was strange, but she dimly registered that the warm feeling she once experienced from holding the puzzle was gone. Instead the box felt cold, an odd emptiness to it making her set it down. In anguish she buried her face in her hands, pulling her knees to her chest as she sobbed.
Now she would never finish the puzzle.
Jonouchi kicked the pebble in front of him, releasing some of his pent up frustration. The small rock soared, landing softly in the lake by their school. He walked towards it, the water now cast in an orange glow from the setting sun. School had ended hours ago, and before he knew it his casual stroll had brought him back here. Though, anywhere was better than being at home right now. Absently he rubbed his head, wincing a bit at the tender bump forming. Courtesy of his dad's beer bottle, no doubt.
"It's not here either…"
He frowned, recognizing the voice. 'It can't be?' He slowed his steps, now keeping them quiet as he rounded the corner of their building, eyes following along the lake's edge until the source of the voice came into sight. Sure enough, it was Yugi. He suddenly stiffened, and then ducked back behind the corner of the school again. Disbelieving eyes dared a second peek, unable to completely comprehend what they had just witnessed. 'He's…a she!?'
Yugi stood near the edge of the lake, hair soaked and for once not sticking up in giant pointy spikes. Instead it lay slick against her back, covering the black shirt that now clung to her obviously feminine frame. The boy's uniform jacket had been removed and discarded with her shoes and backpack off to the side. She sighed, standing and rubbing her forehead with her arm in exhaustion. Water droplets twinkled on her delicate skin, sparkling like orange gems of fire in the dying evening light. It gave her a strangely earthily appearance, complementing the red and gold highlights in her hair.
She was…she was cute!
Jonouchi felt a blush creep along his cheeks as he tried hard to not focus on inappropriate things. Then the feeling of shame crept upon him, and he had to turn away. All this time he had tormented her for being a weak sissy boy, thinking to toughen her up against any real bullies who would try to actually harm her. While being a girl didn't change the need for Yugi to stand up for herself, it surely changed how he would have handled teaching her that lesson. All he could think about now was how he would feel if someone treated his younger sister like that, and his blood boiled. He glanced around the corner again, wondering what Yugi was doing.
Her hands were now in the water, moving around, searching. She walked slowly forward, eyes desperate. "It has to be here, this is where it landed I swear I saw it land here."
Guilt consumed him as realization hit. 'Just how long has she been here, looking for that stupid puzzle piece?' Well there was nothing he could do about it now. Just because Yugi was a girl, didn't mean the lesson he had been trying to teach earlier was invalid. Helping her now would defeat the purpose. If anything, maybe it was the push she needed. Next time Yugi had something precious to lose, maybe she would fight for it.
With a sneer he turned and walked away, trying to ignore the voice inside that begged him to go back.
She walked the school halls in a daze, eyes barely able to focus. She knew she was sick, but it didn't matter. Nothing mattered anymore. It had been her own fault anyway, staying out once school ended almost all night looking for the missing puzzle piece until logic forced her home. She had at least recognized the need for dry clothes, and hair. Beyond that though, her mind was focused on finding the puzzle piece. She didn't even want to go to class, but knew her Grandpa would be pissed if she skipped.
Her Grandpa wasn't home just now, having gone off with a close friend to collect some rare treasure. Yugi knew he only felt comfortable leaving like that because she was a good girl who didn't cause him any trouble. If she started missing classes, then her Grandpa would feel he had to stay and keep an eye on her instead of trusting her like he did now. She couldn't bear to lose that trust, and to take away that simple joy he only had when on a dig. Her Grandpa sacrificed enough as it was, raising her all on his own. No matter how desperate, she would not make things more difficult for him if she had the power.
"Yugi? You ok?"
Warning bells went off as she turned to stare at the one who addressed her, vaguely realizing that somehow she had stopped walking and the halls were now empty. Blinking slowly she looked up to the face of the infamous Ushio. "Yes, I'm fine." She smiled hesitantly, having not really dealt with the boy before. Sure she had heard the awful rumors about him, but people spread awful rumors that were untrue about her too.
The burly teen raised a thick eyebrow. "You don't look like it." He leaned in closer, studying her face with obvious doubt. More warning bells went off. She felt quite discomforted by his proximity. Even though his words were friendly, she got a strange feeling from him. Like…like she was prey.
Smile more forced she waved away his concern, taking a few cautious steps back. "No really, I'm fine." She turned, ready to hightail it out of there.
He grabbed her shoulder, and she froze.
Cautiously she tilted her head back, eying him over her shoulder. "Y-Yes?"
He smiled, but it wasn't a nice smile. "Was it those two knuckleheads again? Jonouchi and Honda?" The grip on her shoulder tightened. She supposed it was meant to feel reassuring, but instead it made her feel more trapped and isolated. "You know, if you need help I could protect you. Want me to step in?"
She swallowed nervously, trying to shake her shoulder free and feeling immense relief when he allowed her to slip away. She turned to face him, no longer feeling confident enough to have him at her back. "That isn't necessary. They haven't done anything. I'm fine." She continued her slow retreat, taking more and more steps away from him.
He tilted his head as he studied her. "I guess I'll just have to do my own investigation then." His smile widened, and she felt a chill travel down her spine. She didn't like the gleam in his eye. "N-No, p-please that…that is, I mean…They're my friends!"
She felt her own shock mirrored in his expression. 'My friends? Where do I get off saying something crazy like that?'
"Your friends?" He crossed his arms, clearly dubious about her proclamation.
She halted her retreat, sensing an importance in making him believe her words. "Yes. Friends." Her legs felt weak though, and she was so tired. The energy needed for this confrontation was weighing on her. She was sicker then she realized. The world tilted for a moment, but she bit her lip and it refocused.
"Ok Yugi." He suddenly turned, losing interest in her. "Whatever you say." He sent her a small wave as he walked off, never looking back at her.
She crumpled to the floor, a breath leaving her that she hadn't realized she'd been holding until now. Had she really managed to convince him? She eyed his retreating form, doubt creasing her brows as dread filled her soul. Somehow, she didn't feel like she had.
"I still can't find it!" She was starting to lose hope. The missing puzzle piece was somewhere in this lake, yet no matter how hard she searched she couldn't see it. Frantically her hands sifted through the sandy bottom, and she took another slow step forward. 'I'm not stopping until I have it back in my hands.' She thought with resolve. Her vision blurred briefly, and she paused, standing, giving herself a moment to refocus. Stupid body, it was never good about handling strain.
Sounds of a scuffle suddenly broke her attention, and with a quick squeak she bolted from the water. Thankfully school had ended only a half hour ago, and so she hadn't been able to get deep enough in the lake to soak more than her legs. Hastily she threw on her jacket, feeling more secure now that she was once again covered. The sounds of fighting continued, painful grunts and angry shouts echoing on the school walls. In fact, the voices sounded kind of familiar…
Cautiously she crept along the building, peeking around the corner to where the shouts were originating from. Surprise caused a small gasp to escape her.
Ushio had his back to her, arms crossed as he stared down at none other than Jonouchi and Honda, who were looking worse for the wear. Bruising was already forming on their faces, and the two were slouched back to back as heavy pants escaped them.
"You'll leave Yugi Muto alone now, if you know what's good for you." Ushio stated, his tone leaving no room for argument.
Jonouchi spat out blood. "Screw you."
Ushio growled, and he took a menacing step forward.
Her feet were moving before she even registered what she was doing. Within moments she found herself standing in front of Jonouchi and Honda, arms spread as she attempted to block them from Ushio. "S-Stop!"
Surprise caused Ushio to pause, truly not expecting to find her before him. He then smiled, evidently gleeful at her presence. "Yugi my boy, good timing. I've concluded my investigation and already dealt out the punishment, as promised."
She looked at him, confused, arms lowering. "What?
He laughed, a deep hearted chortle. "Don't look so surprised! I told you I'd help you didn't I? You're welcome, by the way." He gestured to Jonouchi and Honda, a pleased look entering his eyes. "These punks won't be harassing you no more. In fact, why don't you take a crack at them? Get some revenge?"
Jonouchi growled, "Yugi yeah punk, you set him on us? What the hell!"
"Shut it Katsuya!"
She looked completely aghast. "I-I swear! I didn't do it!" Oh how she hated her nervous stutter sometimes. Jonouchi scoffed, refusing to meet her gaze.
Ushio walked up to her, and she shrunk away from him. "Now don't be shy. Go on boy, give them a kick or something. They deserve it."
She turned to Jonoushi and Honda, sorrow gripping her as she took in their battered appearance. Half of Jonouchi's face was already swollen, and Honda was passed out. Though the two often tormented her, she knew it was different from the typical maltreatment she received. She sensed in their own way, they were trying to help her. It was why she could never do anything about it, why she always let them tease and taunt her. In a way, she was glad for their attention, because it had been the closest thing she had to having real friends. They were rough around the edges, but the two boys cared. It pained her to look upon them now, to see them so destroyed, all because of her.
"I don't have all day Muto. Deal out some punishment, or move out of the way so I can finish the job."
Something snapped inside her, Ushio's tone breaking her last shred of patience. Maybe it was the fever that still clouded her thoughts, or maybe it was the pent up anger from losing her precious puzzle piece at the hands of someone she felt cared for her. Maybe it was just seeing Jonouchi's and Honda's bruised and bloody faces. Either way, Yugi felt all submissiveness leave her as she turned to glare at Ushio. "No."
The taller teen looked taken aback. "What?"
"Leave them alone Ushio! They don't deserve this!" Her voice was firm, the nervous quaver gone as she allowed righteous anger to consume her instead. She took a brave step forward, "I won't let you hurt my friends!"
Ushio's eyes widened. "You were serious?"
"What are you saying Yug? Shaddup already and get outta here." Jonouchi tried to stand, grunting as pain kept him in place. What was that little idiot trying to do? She was gonna get herself beat up if she kept talking to Ushio like that!
"I'm not leaving until he does." She narrowed her eyes.
Ushio was quiet, then he leaned back and laughed. "Ah Muto, that was amusing." He sighed, wiping away a tear. "You crack me up! Now move, I won't be asking next time."
She didn't move.
The smile fell from his face. He took a step forward, his giant form blocking out the sun. He reached down and grabbed the collar of her shirt. "Now you listen here yeah little freak! I went out of my way to help you, and this is the thanks I get?"
She grabbed at his hand, trying to break his hold. "L-Let go of me!" Fear made her less confident, but she refused to allow this jerk to lay one more hand on Jonouchi or Honda.
Ushio sneered. "Make me."
She bit him. The action surprised both of them. Yugi wasn't prone to violence, but desperation seemed to make her do things she wouldn't normally consider.
"You little punk!" Ushio snarled as he reeled back, shaking his sore hand. "You – You fucking bit me?!" With a yell he launched at her, grabbing onto her collar again and lifting her up off the ground. She yelped out in surprise and distantly heard Jonouchi call her name. Before she could even brace herself Ushio landed a punch to the side of her face. Her vision blackened, then suddenly came back. Her once frantic attempts at escape weakened as she feebly scratched at his hand, the pain making her dizzy.
He suddenly dropped her, and she lost all breath as his knee slammed into her stomach. She couldn't even groan, gasping desperately instead, trying to will oxygen back into her lungs. She wasn't given much chance before he kicked her side. She found herself blacking out again, body quaking as spasms of pain rocked her.
"-et for taking their side."
Ushio was lecturing her, she was sure of it. She couldn't catch all the words through the ringing in her ears though. She glanced over to Jonouchi, who had somehow managed to move onto his stomach, trying to crawl towards them. She felt herself being lifted up again.
"Well?" Ushio demanded, spit flying onto her face. She closed one eye, trying to keep it from getting splattered. It took her a moment to realize he must have asked her something, but she had no idea what. Staring back at Jonouchi inspiration struck her. A weak, defiant smile crept upon the corners of her lips.
"Screw you." She gasped out, enjoying briefly the rage that filled Ushio's entire face. She must be delusional from the fever, to not feel fear spike instead at the anger that was directly solely at her. Anger she purposely coaxed. The man had proven violent, but sure, let's get him even madder.
Maybe it was just because she was beyond caring about her wellbeing anymore. If anything, she almost welcomed the pain. Maybe it would finally match the ache that swelled within her soul. While Jonouchi and Honda weren't her real friends, she just didn't have it in her not to care about them. No one deserved the beating they were given, and especially not because of her. She felt almost justified in receiving the punch that was aimed at her face. She deserved it for being so weak, for putting Jonouchi and Honda in this position. At least Ushio was focused on her instead.
She wasn't sure how long she was out that time, but when awareness came back to her, it was to Ushio giving her one last kick to the side. "I said wake up Muto!"
A painful gasp escaped her, and he scoffed. "Finally." He crouched down, pulling up her hair so her ear was level with his mouth. "I don't give a damn about your change of heart Muto. I did you a favor, and you're going to pay."
She grit her teeth, too weak to do much more. 'Haven't I been paying already?'
"I want 200,000 yen, tomorrow or else." He dropped her, dusting his hands off as if he had touched something dirty. "This was just a taste of the hell I can bring down upon you. I suggest you pay up. We wouldn't want dear old Grandpa's shop to suffer, now would we?"
Anger gripped her, and she tried to push herself up, but Ushio slammed his foot down on her back. Her face smashed painfully into the dirt. "It would be so sad, to see that place, his pride and joy, up in flames."
Fear, real fear, finally gripped her. Ushio saw, a content smile stretching his lips. It was common knowledge that Yugi's Grandpa owned a game shop. The shop itself was quite popular, holding a mix of the trendiest games while containing an assortment of interesting rare games collected over the years. "That's more like it Muto." He cooed, and she felt sickened by his voice.
"Tomorrow, or else."
Ushio walked away.
She stared after him, gritting her teeth. His words rang mockingly inside her head. 'It would be so sad, to see that place, his pride and joy, up in flames…' Terror threatened to suffocate her. She couldn't let anything happen to Grandpa's shop.
"Yugi, yeah blasted idiot!" Jonouchi had finally reached her. "Are you ok? Why didn't you just run away?"
Painfully she turned her head to face him, a weak smile lifting her lips. "You guys are my friends, I couldn't just leave you."
Jonouchi stared at her in amazement, some unreadable expression crossing his face. "Yug…" He didn't know what to say. After the way he had treated her, he never expected their relationship to be described like that by her. He didn't feel worthy of it, that kindness that he always mistook for weakness.
"Jonouchi, you ok bud?" Hondoa sat up with a grunt, rubbing his throbbing backside. He glanced over and noticed Yugi for the first time. "Yugi? What happened?"
Jonouchi stood, extending his hand down towards her. Her one good eye blinked, the other having swollen shut completely now due to the abuse it took. With a grateful grin she grabbed his hand, and he hoisted her up onto shaky legs. "Thanks Jonouchi I-" And that was when it happened, her body decided she had put it through too much. Her vision swayed and she felt herself fall onto her knees. She heard Jonouchi's sudden concerned shout before her eyes rolled back and the embrace of nothingness took her.
Ushio smiled wickedly. Before him was Kame Shop, completely covered in flames. Yugi stood back, frozen in shock as she watched her Grandpa's greatest treasure get burned to the ground. Ushio looked behind him, finally noticing her. He laughed and laughed as tears streamed down her face. "This is what happens when you mess with me Muto!"
Yugi bolted upright, the covers around her body flying to her waist as the sound of something hard hit the floor with a clang. 'A dream?' It took her a moment to register where she was. She felt something cool on her hand and looked down, discovering a folded wet cloth. She felt her forehead, noting for the first time her bangs were wet and sticking to it. Someone must have placed that cloth on her head. She was in he room, still wearing her school uniform, but her shoes were off and put neatly by her door. She frowned, not remembering how she got here.
The door opened, and Jonouchi stepped inside. He stared at her in surprise, "Yugi? You're up!"
She nodded, "Yes, but how did I get here?" Then she stared at him suspiciously, "Wait, how did you get here?!"
He waved both hands in front of him in a placating fashion. "Chill bud, I carried yeah here after you passed out. Scared me half ta death there I though maybe Ushio had done some real damage."
As if to remind her a sudden lance of pain in her rib caused her to wince. "I'm still not so sure he hasn't" She muttered, rubbing her sore side. "You carried me? But how did you get inside?"
The blonde smirked and gave her a playful wink as he twirled a key around his index finger. "Fond yer spare key there Yug. Really, under the rug? You need to find a better spot."
She felt her cheeks heat in embarrassment. It had been her Grandpa who assured her that the spot was so obvious 'no one could possibly think to look there!'. Clearly, he had been mistaken.
Jonouchi walked over to her, bending down to pick something off the floor. She stared at him confusion until his hand opened up to reveal the missing piece he had tossed into the school lake. It was then that she noted his slightly damp hair, and clothes. Her eyes widened in surprise.
"Musta fallen off yeah when you woke up. I figured you'd want it near, you always seem to be holding a piece of dis when you're upset." He stated indifferently, as if the piece had never been missing. As if he hadn't been the one to toss it away. As if he hadn't been the one to jump into the lake, beat up as he was, to find it again. As if he hadn't noticed something about her that many failed to see.
Slowly she reached for it. "Well you gonna gawk at it all night or you gonna take it already?" She glanced up at him, noticing that his eyes were glued to her wall off to the side, a faint dusting of pink tinging his cheeks. She smiled shyly, uncertain as to this new behavior from him. Kindness was not something she was accustomed to receiving. "Thank you Jonouchi." She whispered, now clutching the puzzle piece to her chest. She could finally complete it!
He scratched his head awkwardly. "Nah, whatever. I'm sorry I tossed it into da lake in da first place." His gaze grew serious, and he sat on her bed, hands rubbing his face. "I'm sorry for a lot of things Yug."
This was not something she expected, least of all from Jonouchi. Staring at him, she pinched her cheek, hissing a bit as the skin stung her. Nope, not a dream.
Jonouchi looked at her incredulously. "Didja just pinch yerself?" He abruptly stood, "Gah this is just great! Tryna be serious here Yug and you can't even have the decency to think it's real!"
She laughed nervously, trying to calm him down. "Sorry! Sorry! It's just…such a change I guess. I wasn't expecting it."
He sulked, before sighing and sitting back down. "I know, I've been a real jerk lately."
She patted him on the shoulder. "It's ok Jonouchi, you don't have to apologize." Here she hesitated, unsure of how honest she should be. "I…I know it was because you were trying to toughen me up, right?"
He turned surprise eyes on her.
She gave him a slight smirk. "I've been bulled a lot, I can kind of spot the difference." Her smirk then softened into a genuine smile of gratitude. "Thanks. Not just for that, but I mean, for everything." Here she gestured to the cloth and her bed, a slightly embarrassed blush making its way across her cheeks.
He stared back at his hands, emotions she couldn't quite grasp dancing across his features. He suddenly stood, dusting his pants. "Ok then. I guess I should let you get some rest. You had quite the fever, but after I managed to get that medicine down your throat it seems better."
She tilted her head, trying to remember taking anything. She drew a blank. Just how long had she been out?
Jonouchi headed over to the door, walking through it before pausing in the fame. "You…you should stay home tomorrow. Relax yeah know? Don't worry about nothin, alright Yug?"
It was then that she remembered, that horrible dream, the terrible threat that still existed with Uchio. '200,000 yen!' Her eyes grew wide, frantic as she felt herself start to shake. She gripped her bedsheets, hoping Jonouchi didn't notice. The puzzle piece slid against her hand and found herself holding onto it instead. "You know I can't do that."
Jonouchi grit his teeth. "Yeah, whatever." And then he was gone, leaving Yugi alone with her panic. She waited a moment, listening for the door downstairs. She heard it slam shut with a wince. Apparently, he wasn't happy with her declaration. She wasn't either, if she was being honest with herself. Ushio terrified her, and she had no money to give him. His threat caused her to clutch her chest, trying hard just to breathe through the panic. What was she going to do?
Hastily she stood, gasping as pain coursed through her and the world tilted sideways. Damn was she in rough shape. Clutching the bedpost, one hand still holding her newly reclaimed puzzle piece, she tried to think of a plan. 'But first, I should put this away.' She thought, suddenly glancing at the puzzle in her hand. With tender steps she walked over to her bag, opening it up to pull out the ancient box that house the remainder of her puzzle. She stopped and surprise colored her features. Inside the bag was an envelope she hadn't noticed before. Frowning, she pulled that out first, twirling the puzzle piece over top her fingers as she studied it.
"Where did this come from?" Sitting back on her bed she set the puzzle piece down and began opening the brown envelope. Inside was 200,000 yen. Her eyes widened, disbelief evident as she counted the money over and over. Was this real life? Exhaustion suddenly coursed through her as relief cause her to fall back onto her bed with a sigh. Ushio wouldn't hurt her if she gave him this money. Her Grandpa's shop was safe.
Finally, everything was right with the world.
She turned onto her side, hugging the money close as she closed her eyes. Safe. Finally safe. It was then that she realized, with a small start, that the puzzle piece she had been previously holding was back to feeling like normal. That strange cold empty feeling had vanished. Her eyes shot open, and she found it lying right in front of her. Slowly, she reached for it, almost afraid that if she touched it she'd be wrong. Her fingers gently traced the cool metal surface, and a warm tingle travelled through them, coaxing her up as she now grasped it fully in her hand.
That nagging feeling was back. Despite how late it was, how tired she was, she itched to try her hand at completing it again. With a small wince she stood again and went over to her backpack. She grabbed the ancient box, walking over to her desk where she set it down and opened it. Time to see if she could finish this damn thing once and for all.
He was livid. He could sense her exhaustion, her fatigue, her fear, and there was nothing he could do to fix it.
Not yet, anyway.
Through the years he had grown quite protective of the girl, Yugi as he had come to know her as, and it burned him to know that harm had befallen her. Once again. As always. Somehow, she always found trouble. 'But I'm stuck in this place.' He groused, gritting his teeth. How the world could hurt such a sweet soul was beyond him. He still wasn't entirely sure what had happened. Yugi hadn't had time to confide in him yet. All he got were snippets of her thoughts, but the wave of her emotions was staggering.
She had been through a lot, rather recently.
And where had he been? He wasn't too sure, but somehow, he had drifted out of awareness again. For how long, he was still working on piecing together. A day at least, that much he knew from the random thought that crossed Yugi's mind when she held the puzzle piece this…Jonouchi had given her. Why he had it to begin with eluded him, but he remembered hearing her think that name before. He was fairly certain Jonouchi had been one of her bullies, but after hearing her new thoughts on the matter he decided perhaps the guy wasn't too terrible. Yugi seemed to think so anyway, and since he had no real connection to the outside world other than the limited thoughts that came from her, he had to trust her judgement.
There was the problem though. It was becoming increasingly obvious to him that she had terrible judgement. She constantly tried to find the good in people and while he admired that trait in her, he found it often caused her the most heartache.
Maybe he really was in the belly of Ammit? Only being granted this one-sided ability to hear and feel Yugi but being unable to do anything for her. It truly was a terrible state to exist in sometimes, especially now, when he knew she needed him.
He still wasn't even entirely sure why he was here, existing in this all-consuming darkness anyway. All he knew for certain was that somehow, it was because of Yugi. He thought perhaps it was his destiny to maybe help her, but after years of living with her thoughts he wasn't sure with what. Sure, she was picked on, and had gone through some terrible things in her past (some of which he would get his revenge for, it was unforgiveable), but he felt these were just experiences of life. Nothing to warrant the strangeness of his existence and connection to her. Despite how he felt about her, he just knew there had to be something more to it than that.
Once again, he felt the frustration of lost memories. He had managed to gain a few things over the years, things triggered largely in part by Yugi, but still not enough to make sense of the situation. The only thing he felt rather confident about was that Yugi was close to solving the puzzle. He couldn't explain why he knew that, just that he did. Especially with the chaotic emotions swirling around her, he felt it was finally about time that Yugi completed it.
'I can't believe it. Just one more piece left and the puzzle is finished!'
He felt her sudden excitement spike, drowning away all her previous worries. He couldn't help but smirk. Yes, now was the perfect time.
'I wish, for a friend who will never leave me, for a friend who will be as loyal to me as I am to them.'
A light suddenly burst through the darkness, and he shielded his eyes against it. A strange wave of power swelled within him, and for the first time ever he found that he could walk, move forward, with legs that felt almost real. There was a door before him, the light pouring out from all four corners. With resolve he gripped the handle and opened it.
'Yes, I will grant that wish.'
So that was the first chapter, and my first stab at a Yu-Gi-Oh Fanfic. Always happy to hear your thoughts, whether they be praise or critique. I know this type of story has been done before, but I really wanted to try drafting one with my own spin on it. For now a lot is pretty close to the manga, but from here on out things are going to deviate slightly.
Looking forward to hearing from you :)