"Are you really going to sit there sulking the whole time?" Yusaku asked, glancing up from the vegetables he was chopping. He pointed the knife in his hand at the onion sitting next to the miserable lump he's talking to, i.e. Him. "Could you at least hand me that?"

Somehow even the version of Yusaku his subconscious conjured up was mean! Wasn't the point of a daydream to enjoy a fantasy? All Takeru wanted to do was mope in peace without inference from someone lecturing him about it. Instead, his brain decided he needed to daydream about the one person he couldn't find in real life. Or in virtual reality of Link Vrains.

Playmaker vanished after the castle fell apart and despite long hours of searching none of them have been able to find a single trace of him anywhere in the network . Combine that with Yusaku remaining lifeless in the hospital in real life and Takeru's hasn't exactly been in the best mood lately . Especially when his brain decides it's going to cope by having him play house like this.

Takeru sighed and flicked the offending vegetable across the counter. Because it's him, the stupid thing flung itself off the table and out of sight. Yusaku turned to him unamused.

"You're an idiot you know that right?"

"Hey! I didn't mean to do that!" Takeru replied sinking back into the chair with all the dignity of a small child. He looked ridiculous sitting there pouting like that but he was running out of patience with everything . Including himself at that point.

"I'm not talking about the stupid onion," Yusaku said putting the knife down and mimicking Takeru's body language . "I'm talking about searching for me and going against Lightning."

Who would have thought Yusaku'd be so direct? Why couldn't he dream of flying or something? Like a normal person. Then again he's done more flying around then the average person in the past two days alone.

"I'm not going to give up on looking for you. And I'm definitely not going to let that A.I subjugate humanity like that!" Takeru snapped bangings his fists on the table. The sudden motion caused Yusaku to flinch, not by much but it was noticeable enough for him to catch it. He frowned at the reaction. It's not like he wasn't used to people doing that. There were a number of people in his hometown who flinch the second his voice got to high but the real Yusaku, the one in the fucking hospital always shrugged it off .

Before he could snap again at how bad an interpretation the fraud was, Yusaku replied, "In the end Lightning is going to win and you've already decided you'd rather die for the people who hate you then come with me."

"It's not like that either!" Takeru shouted and immediately tried to shimmer down. If he's going to argue with himself, he's going to do so with dignity! Well as much as one can have when they're trying not to lose an argument with themselves.

"I'll beat him, and I'll drag you back kicking and screaming if I have to!"

Yusaku's mouth curled into a soft smile that warms Takeru. They'll figure this out eventually.

"Takeru?"

"Takeru?"

No! He wants to stay here like this a little bit longer. The vegetables disappear, the kitchen blurs away and he abruptly comes back to reality . Stubbornly Takeru keeps his head tucked in his arms and pretends to be asleep still. He doesn't need a lecture about how ridiculous he's been acting. Even Kiku's sent him messages and voicemails telling him she's worried. Who hasn't told him he needs to take a break at this point?

He has the sneaking suspicion that a certain Ignis tipped her off,"I know you're awake. Come on you're going to hurt your back sleeping like this."

Takure balls the hospital sheets in his fist. How many times has Flame woke him up like this?

"I'll contact your grandparents if you don't," The Ignis threatens, giving his arm a nudge. Begrudgingly Takeru sits up and glares at him.

"You shouldn't make empty threats like that," He says and falls back into the hard plastic hospital chair . Flame's right, though, his lower body feels like it went numb somewhere between sitting in the chair and falling asleep at such an awkward angle .

"While for Kusanagi it might not be so empty. He came by earlier and pretty sure he's this close to having you looked at by one of the nurses," Flame replies with hands up barely a few millimeters apart .

"Where is he anyway?" Takeru asks, shrugging. The RN already confronted him about it. They said the staff would kick him out if he didn't start leaving more often and looking after himself.

"I believe he went to get more of that brown liquid you're all hooked on," Flame says and Takeru looks over Yusaku's duel disk on the table next to him .

"And Ai?"

"How about we ask him?" Flame replies, reaching down into the duel disk. He pulls Ai out like an angry bunny out of a magician's hat. One these days Takeru should ask how they are going that and where they go when they disappear.

"Hey! I was busy!" Ai whines, trying to pull the top of his head out of Flame's hold.

"No you were moping," The Fire Ignis replies, crossing his arms. If Takeru's having a rough time. Ai's a train wreck. He blames himself for Yusaku going off with Lightning like that and for whatever the other Ignis might do to him . Though he hasn't told them why he thinks that. Takeru assumes it's because they were/are supposed to be close. It's been a couple of weeks since their duel and Yusaku hasn't woken up. Ai's ideas and theories about Lightning, Bowman and Yusaku get increasingly bizarre and worrying the more time passes .

Seeing him in his duel disk with Flame instead of in Yusaku's is the worst part, though. They're both tiny but squish together, so they both can fit. They don't do it often either Ai's usually off searching the network in a way he couldn't.

"No! I was texting Kusanagi," Ai argues, giving Flame a shove.

"What about me?" The man asks, stepping into the room with a cardboard tray and some coffee.

"Nothing," Takeru replies, watching the two Ignis give each other the stink eye. It's funny watching them sometimes. All-powerful A.I who bicker like siblings. He snickers and almost everyone else in the room looks over at him. He's been trying not to think too much about Yusaku laying there, but it's nice to laugh even if their situation is dark .

"In that case, go home," Kusanagi says, offering him a cup.

"But-" Takeru starts, but the man cuts him off.

"No buts. Go home, take a shower, get something to eat and relax for the night. I'm not letting those same bad habits go anymore," He continues when Takeru tries to protest again.

"I will call your grandparents. Your grandmother is a lovely woman and sure she'd want you to get some rest."

"You've been talking to my grandmother?" Takeru asks. Why did he feel like a teacher told him they talked to his grandparents about a bad grade? That happened a lot when he was in school...but somehow this is more embarrassing.

Kusanagi stares at the floor for a second before sighing deeply . "I trust you. It's just when you first came here I had to double check. She likes to call and get updates now."

"I'll leave if it means I don't hear anymore about you contacting my grandparents!" Takeru replies, grabbing his duel disk. The Ignis inside thought seem to think the news is hilarious so he flips it upside down on them.

"Hey!" They shout.

"I tried to warn you," Flame mutters then glares at him and when they're up right again.

"Are you trying to give us whiplash?!" Ai yells.

Takeru looks over at Yusaku for a second before heading for the door. Kusanagi puts a hand on his shoulder before he walks out. "I know it's hard, but we can't do anything if we don't take care of ourselves too."

"Yeah," He replies and walks out. How long has the man been coming to the hospital to visit someone? All those years checking in on Jin and now Yusaku in the hospital too. One of these days he should talk to Kusanagi about it a bit more.

Lost in thought he knocked into someone. Immediately he went to apologize for not paying attention but something about the uptight smirk and sheep's' clothing set off alarms . He's run into enough thugs in average clothing to spot them a mile away. It's his luck too that another one would show up in the damn hospital!

'What are you doing here?!" Ai asks, pointing at the stranger accusingly . It only proved his hunch right.

"I'm here to talk to Unnamed. But I supposed it was nice to meet the real you in person," The man says, pulling something out of his pocket and tossing over to Takeru . Reflectively he catches it and takes a look. A fake bullet. But I supposed it was nice to meet the real you in person,"

"Rev-"

Or whatever his real name is cuts him off, "Now is not the right place for this."

Not the place! The asshole tried to kill people! He should have been arrested the second he crawled out of whatever dark pit he lives in!

Flame pops and tucks on his sleeve trying to get his attention. "Takeru, he's right now isn't the time for this."

"For once I agree with the Ignis. Go home Takeru Homura. You're out of your depth," Revolver sneers and they're lucky this a hospital and not some back alley. He'd knock the creeps lights out faster than any of them could blink.

"I know what you're thinking, but he's not worth it," Flame says, scowling.

"True but at least he'd be behind bars too," He replies, trying to reel in the anger boiling through his veins. The stressed-out nurses shouldn't have to deal with cleaning up his mess and they'd ban him if he did anything violent . Takeru clutches his knuckles tight and takes a deep breath without breaking eye contact with the other man .

Revolver smirks and crosses his arms anticipating his next move. Damn if it doesn't make him want to beat that cocky expression right off his face.

Kusanagi steps up from behind Takeru before he completely loses it. His presence doesn't make the situation any better. Revolver said he was there to see him. How could he stoop so low as to work with that kind of lowlife?

The thought is probably written across Takeru's face in clear print if from the tired, "Let me handle this," is anything to go by . Kusanagi tries to put his hand on his shoulder again but Takeru moves away. He doesn't want to hear the reasoning for this. There isn't any from his perspective so he ignores the other man asking him to hold on and the chatter of the two Ignis telling him to go back . Though deep down he's proud of himself for not decking the idiot as he passes by.

One day, one day he'll get his revenge, but today isn't that day. At this rate who knows if that day will ever come. Depressed Takeru lets his feet take him wherever they want to go until he thinks of something. Maybe he could check in the one place those two wouldn't have.

"I don't like that mischievous glint in your eye," Flame comments, while he backtracks around a few corners . "Please tell me you're not going to beat up some kid."

"I'm not that bad!" Takeru whines, glaring at the judgemental eyeball.

"Sure you aren't," Flame replies, popping out to get a look at where they're headed. "Why did you come here? There's no one to let you in."

Takeru grins and says, "I don't need someone to let me in!

"Should I be concerned about this?" He asks as they get closer to Yusaku's door.

"Only if you keep talking. This won't take long, but I don't want to attract any unwanted attention," Takeru replies, reaching for the pick he keeps in his pocket . He's not a thief! He just has a habit of forgetting his keys. And his grandpa occasionally locks him out if he doesn't get home on time...

Flame shakes his head and shrinks back down while he works the lock. After a few minutes it gives and Takeru smiles to himself. Ha! That was easy!

"Are you going to stand there like an idiot or go inside?" The Ignis asks and shakes his head again.

Way to ruin the moment! Takeru rolls his eyes and walks in Yusaku's gloomy apartment. It wasn't very lively to begin with but something about the absence is unnerving. He shuts the door and flips on the light hoping that feeling will go away soon. Kind of reminds him when Flame was haunting him.

Said Ignis doesn't stay quiet either, "You know this is breaking and entering right?"

"Who's going to report me? The weirdo down the hall who's selling knock offs?" 'Takeru asks in return. This really isn't the type of area for nosey neighbors. Think he'd pick that up after the last few months.

Flame huffs and tilts his head, "Okay but why are we here? Kusanagi asked you to go home not break the law."

"Exactly! He didn't think to check Yusaku's place for any clues!" Takeru replies, taking the duel disk off and placing it on the bed. "There might be something in here that could help us figure out what to do next."

"Yusaku doesn't seem like the type to leave anything incriminating laying around," Flame points out while he turns to the small dresser by the bed.

"Yeah he doesn't seem like the type to do a lot of things," He replies and slams the top drawer harder then he intended to.

"Takeru," Flame starts but he cuts him off. "It's fine."

"Invasion of privacy isn't what I'd call fine," Is immediate reply.

"Oh and what am I supposed to do?!" Takeru shouts before wondering how thin the walls might be. He throws himself into the computer chair and sighs. The people around them aren't nosey, but he didn't feel like having them overhear their less than legal activities .

"I'm useless."

"That's not true," Flame argues, and he slumps in the chair.

"Yes it is. I know nothing about computers and am going on stupid things from tv like searching people's stuff ." Yusaku is going to kill him if, when, he finds out Takeru did this.

"Maybe you're right, but you haven't looked very hard. It's not like you give up so easily ," Flame replies and waits for Takeru to glance at him before continuing.

"You wanted to do this. Are you really going to give up now?"

"I-" Takeru starts but stops. The egotistic A.I has a point. He didn't uproot the sorry excuse for a life he had back home to stop here. It's just - maybe Kusanagi is right and he needs a break.

"No I'm not, I just wish I knew what I was doing," he says and jumps when the door to the apartment swings open.

"Who's there?!" Takeru yells, ready to deal with whatever passing creep decided to come by. He should have locked the door.

"It's me," Kusanagi replies, walking in.

"Wait? How'd you get here so fast? We haven't been here that long?" He asks. The other man tosses his keys in the air and shuts the door. Strike two -he really might need to take a short break. Kusanagi runs a food truck! Takeru slaps his forehead and asks his next question anyway.

"That was a stupid question, but why are you here?"

"Kogami said someone broke into the apartment, so I came by to check. Why are you here?" Kusanagi counters making his way down the short stairwell.

"Ko- So, that's his name," Takeru mutters, getting up to grab Flame. Then sits on the bed. The loud creak of the old springs makes them cringe.

"Takeru came here to see if Yusaku might have left anything that might help us find him behind," Flame replies and he shrugs in agreement .

"I haven't found anything yet, but I haven't really looked."

"It's not a bad idea. I probably should have checked his computer sooner," Kusanagi replies, taking the desk chair . "I take it you aren't going home until you're satisfied here?"

"Why would you work with that man?" Takeru asks, in the most controlled tone he can manage. He's been avoiding thinking about the encounter in the hospital. Of course that hadn't worked, the asshole's words wormed their way into his head and brought down his self-esteem and his faith in the other man . How can he work with someone like that?!

"I don't have other options. He wants to stop Lightning as much as we do and he and Yusaku have always had a weird relationship to put it mildly," Kusanagi replies . the other missing person in their little group decides to let himself be known .

"Weird is an understatement considering Yusaku would have liked to murder him after their last duel. That wasn't a fun match!" Ai says, shoving Flame over so he could have some room.

That's true, Takeru's watched videos of Playmaker's and Revolver's last match. They were not friendly at all but Playmaker and Ai definitely were.

"Since we're talking about back then. Ai what happened after that duel? Kusanagi told me awhile ago that something changed between him and you guys," Takeru asks and Flame looks at his fellow Ignis with a familiar you did something stupid didn't you expression . He's seen it thousand times, even without a mouth the judgement radiates off the Fire Ignis sometimes .

"Right. You and Yusaku were inseparable and now he's okay with letting Lightning do what he wants with us. What did you do?" Flame points at Ai accusingly and pushing into his space until the other Ignis cracks.

"I told him I wanted him to stay! I thought he'd be happy here, so I took off to check on Cyberse world without telling him where it is! I should have listened to you years ago and let him be! Happy now!" Ai yells, shoving Flame back.

"No and I don't think this is all your fault either. Even if you could have gone about things differently ," The fire Ignis replies and Takeru sighs. Ai wasn't only one of the people Lightning and Yusaku mentioned. He trails his attention to the man across the room trying to get into Yusaku's computer.

"What about you? Yusaku also seems to think you don't care about him much either. So what happened between you?"

Kusanagi's shoulders slump down and he can hear the loud exhale before the man spins around to face them. "I told him I would put my brother first."

"What?" Takeru, Flame, and Ai echo.

"I knew Lightning wasn't going to play fair so I told him when it came down either protecting him or Jin, I'd pick Jin," Kusanagi explains .

No wonder the guy has trust issues. Takeru can't blame the vendor for wanting to put his brother first. It's kind of a given but it still had to sting to hear that. Especially after the person you grow up with left you. Ai had some serious groveling to do. First they had to get there.

The first step is to snoop! Takeru sets the two glaring Ignis' on the desk next to the computer and looks at the small room. At least there's not a lot to search through.

After about an hour of searching and listening to Kusanagi and the Ignis swear at the computer he finds nothing . Barely even a grocery receipt. The others didn't fare much better. Which is to be expected Yusaku has been essentially living a double life and letting them into the apartment on a regular basis . He would have made sure nothing was out of place a long time ago.

They might have to wait for Lightning to make the first move at this point. Which means he'll have to be ready.

"Hey I think I'm going to head back to my place and get some rest," Takeru says, grabbing his duel disk.

Ai gives him an excited wave before sinking back into who knows where while Kusanagi turns around and smiles .

"Good idea. I'll call you if anything happens."

"G'night," He replies and walks off.

"Good night!"

Takeru grins to himself and locks the door behind him. Today sucked but now he understands why Kusanagi told him to go home. He needs to be on his game if he's going to be able to help them when Lightning finally makes his move. So a nice meal, a hot shower and a good night's sleep would be his best course of action and when they get Yusaku back they can do so together . He'd like make dinner again with him once this is over.

Notes:

I was trying to think if Takeru ran into irl Ryoken before season three because he very much was ready to punch him in S3 but I can't remember. I don't think he did.

But yeah, I'm gonna change some of the guidelines I set for myself with this fic lol Takeru your princess is in another castle!

ttyl