A/N: Well, everyone, this is it: the final and longest chapter. There have been many trials and tribulations while writing this fic, but all in all, it's been a lot of fun. I do hope you all have enjoyed reading it. Thank you very much for all your wonderful reviews. They help keep me motivated to write.


[Italics]: song lyrics

Italics: thoughts

Song Disclaimer:

Title: Winter Wish

Artist: Chihiro Yonekura

Source: Love Hina Christmas movie


"Oof!" Little Yuugi announced his presence by springing onto Yami's tummy, as he was lying peacefully asleep in bed. The startled pharaoh gasped for air.

Yuugi shook his wary friend excitedly in an attempt to wake him further. "Yami, Yami, Yami! It's Christmas! Come on, get up! There are gifts down in the living room waiting to be opened. Grandpa is also waiting for us." He sighed when he received no indication that his darker half wanted to move. "Come on, Yamiiii!"

With a slightly irritated groan, the Egyptian pharaoh opened his lazy crimson eyes halfway to stare up at his finicky little aibou. "You know, Yuugi… you could have simply opened the drapes to wake me up instead of crushing my ribs and yelling in my ears."

The little duelist blushed with embarrassment before quickly removing himself from his current position on Yami's stomach. "I'm so sorry, Yami! I got a little too excited. Are you hurt?"

His large, innocent eyes held so much guilt and concern as he stared into his darker half's fire tinged eyes. As per usual, Yami's heart melted every time his aibou gave him that look. He smiled sweetly and gently caressed his little tender cheek. "No, Yuugi, I'm fine. I was merely teasing you. Sorry if I sounded too harsh."

Yuugi's little heart raced as blood crept into his facial features, exposing a lovely red rue that wouldn't quit. Realizing his hidden feelings were in danger of being found out, the tiny dual master scurried off the bed and sat on the edge.

"J-Just make sure you come down soon, okay, Yami? Grandpa and I will be waiting for you."

Smiling softly, Yami agreed. "Okay, aibou. I'll be down shortly."

With a slight nod, Yuugi stood up and headed out of the room, shutting the door behind him. He was still rather flustered when he entered the living room. Suguroku took note of his grandson's slightly red face and felt it best to inquire about a cause. "Yuugi, are you coming down with a fever? Are you feeling okay? Your face is a bit flushed." He placed his own forehead on Yuugi's to check for a temperature.

Yuugi immediately backed away defensively, his face even redder than before. "I'm fine, grandpa. It… it's these pajamas! They make me feel hot."

The old archeologist looked puzzled. He peered out a window and took note of the beautiful falling snow outside. Yuugi followed his grandfather's gaze and instantly felt quite embarrassed. He quickly tried to think of another excuse. "I-It must be the heater, then. Yeah… grandpa, did you turn on the heat too high? I keep telling you to keep it at a reasonable temperature. Do you want the heating bill to go up again? I swear…" He wandered off into the kitchen mumbling to himself, leaving Suguroku stunned and confused.

"What the heck was that all about? Did I really turn the heat up too high? Hmm…"

Upstairs, a worried pharaoh was contemplating the day's future events. Now that he was wide-awake - all thanks to his worked up aibou -Yami simply stared blankly at the pale ceiling above. He wasn't thinking of the presents that awaited him under the Christmas tree, or of merry holiday music; not even the intoxicatingly delicious aroma of the breakfast being made just below him was on his mind. No… his thoughts focused entirely around one thing only: what awaited him and Yuugi down at Kaiba Corp.

He raised his hand towards the ceiling and stared sullenly at it while many questions ran through his mind.

"Will everything be ready by the time we get there? Did Seto and Otogi pull through? Can I be certain there will be no malfunctions? But, more importantly…" his eyes drooped a little as he formed the oncoming words on his tongue, "… will Yuugi accept my feelings?"

As doubt rose, his spirit dropped. He slapped himself with both hands and mentally brought himself out of such a depressed state.

"No, no, no! Stop thinking negatively! There's no turning back now. I've come this far and I'm not about to give up. Everyone has done so much to help me, so I can't let them down. I just need to have faith in myself." With a hearty sigh, he sat up, stretched out his thin body, and then headed down to the living room with a smile.

Once there, the only person he saw was Suguroku adjusting the thermostat and looking rather perplexed. With a slight chuckle, Yami walked over to him and inquired, "Is something wrong, Suguroku?"

The game shop owner turned and smiled when he saw Yuugi's taller friend standing behind him. "Oh, Yami, good morning!"

Yami's smile widened. "Good morning, sir!"

"I'm actually glad you're here, Yami. I'd like your opinion on something if you don't mind." He turned back to thermostat.

"Not at all. What can I help you with?" Yami glanced over his shoulder curiously.

"Be honest. Does it feel too hot in here to you? Yuugi was complaining earlier about it being too hot in this house. His face looked rather flushed when he came down this morning and, frankly, I was a little concerned for his health. I thought it may have been a fever, but he practically jumped down my throat when I inquired about it. Very strange behavior, indeed…"

Yami tried not to laugh at the hilarity in the old man's story. "Don't worry, sir. It's not too hot in here at all. In fact, I'd say it was just right for winter weather. I'm sure Yuugi was just a bit jittery this morning. I'll go check on him now. He's in the kitchen, I presume?"

Suguroku shooed Yami away with his hand. "Yes, he's in the kitchen. Go see to him while I set this darn thermostat back to where I originally had it. Darn Yuugi and his unnecessary outbursts. Kids these days, I swear…"

Yami tiptoed his way over to the kitchen and peeked in on his little hikari who was busy tending to the pancakes they all would be feasting on later. A mischievous smirk crept its way across the love-struck pharaoh's face as he continued to watch his unsuspecting prey. As he observed the little duelist flipping said flapjacks, he waiting for an opportune time to make his move.

As soon as the pancakes were stacked neatly on a large round plate, Yami crept up behind Yuugi and grabbed him around his waist.

"Grandp-AAAHHH! Y-Yami! Don't scare me like that!" Yuugi placed his right hand on his chest and breathed a heavy sigh.

Yami giggled like a child as he held the love of his life tightly within his arms. "Sorry about that, aibou. You just looked so cute flipping pancakes. I couldn't help myself. I hope you'll find it in your heart to forgive me on this beautiful Christmas morning."

Feeling his emotions take over, Yami pulled Yuugi a little closer until the little one's body was against his own. He relaxed his arms around Yuugi's waist, then closed his eyes and rested his head against Yuugi's. Slowly, he began to sway side to side.

Yuugi's face was now beet red as he leaned against the one he loved. Timidly, he asked, "Y-Yami… what are you…" The swaying motions made him feel very warm and comforted within Yami's gentle embrace. He closed his eyes and relaxed himself completely against the taller one's welcoming body. He felt so safe, calm, and happy being wrapped within his darker half's arms. Without giving it another thought, he turned around and wrapped his arms around Yami's waist, silently accepting the affection he was receiving. A small smile swept across his flushed cheeks as butterflies fluttered in all directions inside his empty stomach. As if dancing to their own silent tune, they continued to sway rhythmically from side to side.

In a soft tone, Yuugi spoke, "Hey, Yami…"

"Hmm?" Yami inquired and halted their magical dance.

The little duelist who had suddenly acquired such an immense amount of courage while within Yami's arms looked up at the boy of his dreams, held his hands within his own, smiled his sweetest as he stared into crimson orbs, then began to speak his mind.

"Yami… we've been through a lot together. We've always been there for each other through the good times and the bad. Um…" The more the words became jumbled in his mind, the harder it was to say all that he wanted. Staring into Yami's eyes wasn't helping, either. They were tender, loving, beautiful, comforting, full of guidance, and such unyielding devotion to anything deemed worthwhile. Yuugi's eyes shook as the love he held inside for his better half swelled up and begged to be released.

Squinting his eyes shut, he mustered up any remaining courage he had and spoke, "Yami… I… I lo-"

"Yuugi, is breakfast ready? I'm starving!" Suguroku demanded as he stormed into the kitchen.

That was all it took to obliterate Yuugi's resolve to finish his confession. He looked up at Yami who was still looking down at him with concern in his eyes and quickly glanced away in embarrassment.

What the hell was I doing? Yuugi felt completely abashed with how willing he was just a moment ago to confess his deepest secret to the one person he wished to keep it from. His heart rate soured through the roof as he walked over to the plate of forgotten pancakes. Ah crap! He mentally cursed at the fact that he'll have to reheat all of them.

Suguroku sensed a tense vibe in the air, so he scratched his chin curiously. "Did I miss something? Have you two been fighting in here? And, Yuugi, why is your face red again? Please don't tell me you think it's hot in here, too. Yami confirmed earlier that the temperature was fine. So what's your excuse this time, eh?" He crossed his arms and awaited a response from his grandson.

He had none. Yuugi's mind was completely blank. He fidgeted with his fingers as he tried in vain to think of something to say. "Uh… well, you see, grandpa… I… um…"

"It was the stove." Both Suguroku and Yuugi both looked over at Yami, who's comment was rather unexpected.

"The stove was really hot while Yuugi prepared breakfast and his face was a tad too close. The heat kinda got to him. That's all. A nice cool drink ought to help with that. Right, Yuugi?" He eyed Yuugi with a wink and small smile.

Yuugi smiled in appreciation, then turned to address his impatient grandfather. "Yeah, that sounds great, Yami. I could sure use a cold drink along with breakfast. You ready to eat, grandpa?" He pulled out a chair and gestured for the game shop owner to sit down.

"Of course I am. I've been looking forward to those pancakes all morning." Sugoroku smiled and took the seat presented to him. Soon after, they all were eating happily to their heart's content.

Presents were opened, songs were sung, and good feelings were passed around the Mutou home like the sun that graciously hands the evening hours to the moon when it sets. Time flew by so quickly that both teens forgot why it was so important to keep any eye on the time.

It wasn't until Yami had, by chance, glanced over at one of the digital clocks on the living room wall that things began to click.

"Oh crap!" Yami gasped loudly as his hand covered his mouth, anxiety filling every pore in his body. "I've gotta call Kaiba! I was supposed to have done so an hour ago. I hope he's not too mad."

Reluctantly, the nervous pharaoh dialed the all too familiar digits, and then waited for what was sure to be a very enraged greeting on the other end.

Click. "Kaiba, is that you? I'm sorry I-"

"You asshole!"

The hand that held the receiver flew an arm's length from Yami's now ringing ear. He squinted as Setos' powerful voice echoed throughout the entire living room.

"Do you have ANY idea how to tell time, dumbass?! We've all been waiting here for over a freakin' hour!"

Yami reluctantly inched the phone closer to his face. "I'm so sorry, Kaiba! I really am! We lost track of time. Yuugi's grandfather always goes overboard when the holidays come around and-"

"I could give a rat's ass about how Yuugi's grandfather celebrates the damn holidays! Get your asses down here now! If I don't see you in front of my building in one hour, I'm heading home and you can kiss your little gift extravaganza goodbye! Got that?!"

The pharaoh flinched when he heard the receiver on the other end slam onto its base. He couldn't help but feel guilty for not only making his friends wait so long for his phone call, but also for taking up their precious time that they could be spending with their families. He sighed heavily as he hung up his end.

Yuugi walked over and placed a sympathetic hand on Yami's shoulder. "That didn't sound too pleasant. What exactly did he say?"

"Don't tell me you couldn't hear every syllable Kaiba was yelling!" Yami raised an accusing eyebrow.

Yuugi shrank a bit from being asked such an obvious question. "Well… yeah, I sorta did. I just thought I'd ask to be sure."

Yami smiled and patted Yuugi's head gently. "It's okay, hikari. Yes, he was pretty cross with me, but that was to be expected. I should have been more responsible. At any rate, we need to head down to Kaiba Corp asap. He said that if we're not there within the hour, he's gonna head home. Knowing Kaiba, that sure as hell wasn't an idle threat."

As they headed to their rooms to change, Yuugi couldn't help but feel a bit miffed by how Seto acted. "Sheesh! You'd think he'd show a bit of compassion. It's Christmas, for crying out loud! We're just gonna go see one his stupid inventions – nothing to get all pissy about. He's always had such an attitude problem. I swear, I'm gonna give him a piece of my mind when we get there."

With a "hmph", Yuugi entered his room, slammed the door behind him, and continued to mutter profanities as he got changed. Yami couldn't help but snicker to himself. He's so cute when he gets mad. I hope he forgets about his disdain towards Kaiba once he sees what I have in store for him.

Yuugi stepped out of his room no more than ten minutes later looking as sharp as ever in his brand new black tux. He squirmed and fidgeted uncomfortably, "Man, I hate wearing fancy clothes. They're always itchy and uncomfortable."

Once Yami stepped out, Yuugi ceased his whining to stare in confusion at his dark half. "Yami… why aren't you dressed in your tux? Please don't tell me I'm the only one who's gonna be uncomfortably fancy today."

Yami spat out a laugh as he held up his tux, still on it's hanger and draped over by a black plastic bag. "Don't worry, Yuugi. You won't be the only one. I'll get changed at Kaiba Corp. I just don't wanna wrinkle it before hand. I don't want to look tacky, ya know?"

Yuugi gripped his chin as he contemplated Yami's logic. "You're right. Perhaps I should do the same. I don't wanna look tacky, either." He turned to head back to his room, but stopped when Yami grabbed his shoulder.

"We don't have time, aibou. We have but 45 minutes to get there and it's not as if it's a hop, skip, and a jump to Kaiba Corp. Do you think Suguroku can give us a ride?"

Yuugi smiled, "I'm sure he won't mind. It's not like he has anything better to do today. The shop's closed, after all, so he'll just be glued to the TV all day."

As soon as Yuugi's grandpa agreed, they all piled in the car and sped down to their destination.

Upon arrival, the two boys waved their goodbyes and expressed their gratitude to the old shopkeeper before he drove off.

As Yami stared up at the giant building known as Kaiba Corp, he sighed heavily. "Yup… once I walk through those doors, I'm as good as dead. Kaiba will have my head on a silver platter."

Yuugi snickered, "Doubt it. More than likely, he'll just give you a good tongue-lashing. That's what he's good at, after all."

Yami smiled at his beloved. "Heh… that's true. Well, we've wasted enough time out here. Let's get this over with."

A stark contrast in demeanor was apparent between the two boys as they walked in. Yuugi was calm, collected, and even a little anxious to see Kaiba's "supposed" new invention. His earlier feelings of resentment towards Seto were almost completely non-existent now. Yami, on the other hand, was growing more and more nervous with every step. He felt his palms begin to sweat and his heart raced rapidly, like wolves chasing after a helpless prey. His stomach was in knots and he admitted to feeling a tad nauseous.

He gulped it back momentarily as they entered the lobby. "Okay, Yuugi, you wait here while I go let Kaiba know we're here. I think I'll also change while I'm up there. I won't be long, aibou."

"I'm sure he already knows we're here." Yuugi nudged Yami's side, "He has security cameras everywhere that run 24/7, so I'm sure he's up in his office watching us right now."

Yami smirked uneasily, "Yeah, I know. But I'd feel more at ease if the verbal bashing was done as soon as possible so we can move on to more enjoyable activities."

Yuugi agreed with a giggle. "I guess you're right. Okay, then I'll see you in a little bit. Good luck! Oh and don't forget that it's okay to plug your ears if he gets too loud." He winked as he ushered Yami towards the elevator.

Yami sighed blissfully as he got in the elevator. I don't know how I could possibly love him anymore than I do now.

When the sliding doors opened on the top floor, eight strapping young men in tuxes greeted him. Admittedly, Yami's heart stopped momentarily at the magnificent sight. They all looked so handsome. Yami flushed a bit, but coughed it back before walking in. Everyone was so happy to see him, except Seto, of course. Even through his dashing appearance, it was obvious he was still bitter about Yami's tardiness. He glanced mockingly down at his watch.

"Well, well, well. Would you look at that? I'm glad you learned how to tell time so quickly after our phone conversation. I was beginning to worry."

Yami simply rolled his eyes in response, but gave everyone else a warm smile. "I'm really very sorry for making you guys wait so long. I'm sure you guys are missing precious family time by being here today. I appreciate everything you've done for Yuugi and me. I am forever in your debt." He bowed low in deep respect.

Katsuya put an arm around him, "Hey, man, don't worry about it. In a way, we are spending time with family. Right guys?" Everyone, but Kaiba, nodded in agreement.

Yami was deeply touched from being referred to as a part of his friends' "family." "Thank you, everyone. That means a lot to me."

"Oh, and…" Jounouchi gestured that he wanted to speak into Yami's ear, but kept his voice loud enough so that everyone could still make out the words, "… don't ever mention the word "debt" in front of Seto. He'll take it seriously and ask for your bank account info."

Everyone, but Kaiba, burst out laughing. The young CEO huffed, "Hey! I can still hear you, Jounouchi Katsuya! Want me to rearrange your face?"

"Only if I get to rearrange your body under mine when we go home tonight." The bold blonde raised a seductive eyebrow at his now flustered beau.

Catcalls could be heard throughout the large room. The other teen boys realized once again that their little friend Jou was the only one among them that could retort Seto's badgering with little effort and produce astounding results. It was clear they were a match made in heaven.

Otogi couldn't help but poke fun at the child prodigy, "Well, there's another win in Jounouchi's favor. You really need to step up your game, Mr. Ice King."

Set glared at the dice master with as much disdain as he could muster under his glowing red face. "Listen, fuck face, I don't have to take this crap from you. In fact, I think I'll head home right now to avoid your annoying voice for the rest of the day."

As he headed towards the elevator, all the boys made a wall in his path. Seto scowled, "Out of my way, losers!"

"Hell no, Kaiba!" Honda spoke up rather forcefully. "We are NOT about to waste all our efforts and hard work simply because your stubborn ass is a tad annoyed. We will get through this without any further mishaps. Got it?"

Everyone's eyes were wide with astonishment as they peered over at their bold friend. A moment of complete silence fell upon the room before Kaiba spoke up.

Seto smirked eerily at Hiroto. "Are you trying to order me around, Honda? You've got balls. I respect that. But if you ever raised your voice to me again, I-"

"Oh for crying out loud! Get the hell off your fucking high horse, Seto!" Katsuya snapped angrily at his haughty boyfriend. "We've wasted so much time, AGAIN, arguing with you! Enough is enough! This is Yuugi and Yami's special day. It's not our right to ruin it. Now let's get Yami changed and make sure everything's in working order. Let's move it, people!"

Seto wanted to retort, but knew full well that the blonde was right. He grunted in annoyance as he headed back to his desk.

Yuugi was impatiently waiting for Yami to comeback down. He leaned up against the wall adjacent to the elevator with his arms crossed, occasionally glancing down at his watch.

"What is taking him so long?" He sighed, then pushed himself upright. "That's it. I'm going up there. I'm tired of waiting."

As he marched towards the elevators, Kaiba took note of this action as he stared at the security monitor.

"Hey, guys, we have a problem." He signaled with his right index finger for everyone in the room to gather by the monitor. "Looks like our little Yuugi grew impatient."

Yami's face went pale and he began to panic. He did not predict this would happen. "What should we do? He needs to stay down there. If he comes up here, everything will be ruined!" He felt his entire body begin to shake.

"Just leave everything to me." Jounouchi placed a reassuring hand on the worried pharaoh's shoulder. He then walked over to the elevator, pushed the 'down' button, walked in, and began his descent. The timing could not have been more perfect. As the elevator made it's way down, Yuugi pressed the 'up' button. As the doors slid open, a tall figure came racing out and embraced the little duelist.

"Yuugi, 'ol buddy, 'ol pal!" Katsuya greeted energetically as he snuggled his startled short best friend. "Didja miss me? That's why you were going upstairs, wasn't it? I'm so touched, buddy! You'd better be careful, though. You know how jealous Seto can get."

Finally able to pry himself from the "Jaws of Life" or better known as Jou's arms, Yuugi grinned at his goofy attacker. "It's nice to see you, too, Jounouchi. But the real reason I was heading upstairs was because I wanted to see what was taking Yami so long."

"Oh, well Yami is up there changing as we speak. Seto asked me to show you where you need to be."

Yuugi cocked a curious eyebrow. "Where I need to be?"

"Well, ya see…" Jou tried thinking up a good excuse while he led Yuugi to the front entrance of the special arena, "… Seto has this elaborate idea that he wants you and Yami to take part in. I can't give you any details since it's a surprise, but I will say that it'll be spectacular."

Yuugi couldn't help but giggle a little. "Are you really being honest, Jounouchi, or are you simply trying to make Kaiba seem like an especially giving individual?"

Jou smirked and scratched his cheek, knowing full well that he did just overestimate his lover's generosity. "Maybe a little bit of both. He can be quite the puzzler. Sometimes, I find it hard to read what's on his mind. I know all too well that about 95 percent of what he says is just to cover up how he truly feels. I guess I've sorta made it my duty to help him open up more. I think I'm making progress."

They stopped in front of two huge metal doors that protected the platform on the other side. "Anyway, Yuugi," Jou continued as he knelt down to look at Yuugi in the eyes, "I need you to be patient, okay? Just wait right here and don't move. All will be revealed shortly. I know you're gonna love what you see. I promise." With that said, Katsuya scampered back towards Kaiba's office.

Yuugi merely shrugged his little shoulders and sighed. "Oh well. Guess I have no choice but to do as Jounouchi and Kaiba say. I just hope that whatever lies beyond these doors is worth the wait and…" his thoughts trailed off to another topic, "… time I could be spending with Yami." His body slumped a bit as his disposition became melancholy. He quickly slapped himself a few times. "No, I mustn't think negatively. I will just have to suck it up and get through this. Yami and I will have plenty of time to hang out tomorrow." He took a deep, relaxing breath, then smirked as he waited patiently for the doors to open and reveal the prized invention.

Not a moment later did the doors actually begin to creep open on their own. The duel master's heart began racing as if it were trying to outdo his mind's rapid thought production.

"What am I expecting to happen now?" The short boy pondered as he stood there shaking ever so slightly in front of the pitch-black room. He leaned his body forward a little to peer inside. He couldn't see a thing. He was hesitant at first, but gulped it back and took a step forward.

"K-Kaiba…? Jounouchi?" He beckoned in a tone like that of a frightened child calling for its mother. He took a few more steps forward. "Guys… this isn't funny. Please come out and turn on the lights."

The last half of his wish was quickly granted as a single strobe light fell upon the center of the room, followed by what appeared to be sakura petals falling within the light's barrier. In the center, he saw a figure… a figure he soon recognized upon fixing his strained eyes. His heart stopped as he gazed in wonder and surprise.

"Ya… Yami…?"

Just then, a familiar song began to play.

[I was tenderly keeping a small happiness

In your heart and soul, does it hurt like this?]

He looked up for only a moment before his attention reverted back to the boy who looked so beautiful amidst the light and falling petals. The handsome pharaoh extended his hand toward him, silently ushering him forward. He had the warmest smile Yuugi had ever seen him make in all the years he's known him. He felt powerless against the pharaoh's charms and gingerly took hold of the gentle hand in front of him, which led him into the shimmering light. He winced for a moment, foolishly thinking the petals were real and might get in his eyes. He blushed soon after realizing his mistake and thought how silly he must have looked in front of his darker half.

[My heart throbs so much when I think about you.

I'm longing for your eyes, your voice, and all of you.]

Yami took this opportunity to take Yuugi's other hand. As he held them both within his own, he felt his heart grow ten times its normal size as it beat faster than speed of light.

"Yuugi…" Yami's voice was soft, almost like a whisper on a gentle breeze. Yuugi's heart jumped into his throat while his whole body burned like a smoldering flame. He looked away, for he knew if he stared into the pharaoh's deep crimson eyes for too long, he'd lose himself in them. He still had no idea what was going on and that frightened him on some level. His mind was reeling and his hands were shaking.

[The powdery snow that landed on my cheek changed to tears.

Always be by my side; please don't let go of my hands.]

"Please look at me, my dearest aibou."

The little one's heart sped even faster when he heard the pharaoh's request. Slowly, with his eyes shut at first, he lifted his head. When he finally mustered up enough courage to open his eyes, he had to take a step back from what he could now see with much more clarity. The sheer presence of Yami, not to mention that fact that he looked especially gorgeous for this occasion, was enough to make a person weak in the knees. Almost instinctually, the little duelist slowly took note of every inch of his aibou's entire being. The suit he had on complimented his thin frame and it was obvious a little make-up was applied to his face to further intensify his beauty. Violet eyes glistened with delight as they made their way back to meet with crimson ones. He noticed the pharaoh's face was now red. Could it be that this fearless pharaoh was embarrassed?

[The winter sky and shining stars surround the two of us.

White shoulders and white breathes; I'm feeling the winter wish with you.]

Watching his hikari look at him with so much intensity made him quite nervous. He wanted to make the best impression possible, so he took a deep breath, regained his composure, and pulled Yuugi back to where he was originally standing. He caressed Yuugi's hands with his thumbs, gazed into his innocent eyes, and spoke with kind sincerity.

"Yuugi, we have been through so much together. It's hard to imagine how long it's been since the day you released me from my dark prison inside the millennium puzzle; nor do I think it matters that much right now."

[We walked closely together at the ocean-side amusement park.

Let's look at the city of lights from the Ferris wheel.]

"What matters," he took a deep breath before continuing, "is how I'm feeling right now and how it has grown over the years of being by your side. We've seen and done so many things together. We've traveled to Egypt, gone back 3000 years into the past, dueled many a foe, talked for hours on many nights about anything that comes to mind, cried on each other's shoulders for comfort when we felt down, laughed at the silliest things… all in all, just being there for each other through thick and thin. Yuugi, I am forever grateful for all that you have done and continue to do for me. You have no idea how much it all means to me. Thank you so very much, aibou."

Like the valiant pharaoh he once was many moons ago, he knelt down on one knee, and softly kissed Yuugi's right hand. The small flustered teen thought he'd faint right then and there. His heart fluttered as he absentmindedly wondered if this was all just some elaborate dream he was having. Even if it was, he didn't want it to end.

[The distant ocean and the fleeting kiss gave me a heartrending…]

Both boys were so distracted by the magic of the moment that they failed to notice the sobbing cries of Anzu in the doorway. A moment later, she was carried off by force in the arms of Jounouchi, Hiroto, and Otogi. They gagged and tied her up as they carried her into the lobby where they met up with Bakura and Tozokuo who promptly sent her screaming soul to the shadow realm, where she'd never be heard from again. After thumbs up were exchanged between the boys, they triumphantly marched back up to the control room where Kaiba was silently observing the spectacle below.

Yuugi was rendered speechless. He panicked as he tried to find the right words in which to respond. "I… uh… Y-Yami, I-" he was cut short by a pair of fingers that found their way to his lips.

"Hush, my lovely little hikari. I still have more to say."

Yuugi said nothing more; only nodded to let his partner know it was okay to continue.

Yami squeezed his beloved's hands a little tighter as he continued, "Yuugi… you mean more to me than anything else in this entire world. Riches fame, glory… they all fail in comparison to how much your life is worth to me." He closed his eyes for a moment, took another deep breath in preparation for whatever may come as a result of what would be said next, peered deeply into Yuugi's amethyst orbs, and then continued with as much courage and confidence he could call upon.

"…I love you. I love you, Yuugi Mutou."

[The beginning is the eve of a powdery snow day.

It's a small story.

I love you more than anyone.

Please don't let go of my hands.]

Yami looked to Yuugi for any signs of an answer to his feelings. All he saw was Yuugi staring back in disbelief.

Wh… what did he just say? Yuugi could not begin to contemplate those simple three words he heard from his dark half's lips. In a strained attempt at gaining a sense of control, he fell into complete denial. No… he couldn't have… not him. Not the one I've secretly loved for so long. The one I have long since dreamed of holding me in his arms and telling me he loved me over and over again. No… this can't be happening. This is too good to be true. He must mean "love" as in a brotherly way. That must be it.

"Oh, I get it, Yami. You mean you love me like a brother or best friend, right? Hehe! Man, you… you had me scared there for a minute. It… It almost seemed like… like you were… gonna…"

He couldn't find it in his heart to continue, for he finally realized how painful the thought of Yami never returning his feelings truly was. He cupped his mouth with one hand as he tried in vain to force back the oncoming sobs.

Yami sprang to his feet and in one fell swoop, he cupped Yuugi's tiny face in his hands and looked directly into his glossy eyes.

"No, Yuugi. That is not what I meant. Yuugi, I love you! I love you more than a brother and more than just a partner in duels. I've loved you for years. It may have started out as mere feelings of friendship, but that soon blossomed into a love more pure than I had ever imagined. Yuugi, I am deeply in love with you. Please believe me."

As if to further prove his point, he closed the gap between their faces by giving Yuugi a passionate, yet gentle kiss.

[Our future starts and there are the footprints.

Both the warmth and the gentleness

I embrace the winter wish with you.]

Yuugi stood glued to the spot as the man he loved more than anything kissed him. It was like many of the wonderful dreams he'd had in the past. Only… this was real. It was really happening. He closed his eyes and let go of any doubts he was having. Everything was now as clear as day. They were both in love with one another. Bound not only by fate, but by love, as well.

The flustered little teen boy felt his knees give out, so he grabbed onto Yami's tux jacket for added support. The kiss ended, much to Yuugi's dismay. The pharaoh's eyes remained closed as he leaned his forehead against Yuugi's and whispered with a hint of desperation hanging on every syllable.

"Do you believe me now, Yuugi? I love you more than life itself. I'd willingly die for you. I don't know what else to say or do to convince you that these feelings are true." A couple of stray tears could be seen trickling down his flushed face. Yami could feel his heart slowly shatter into small fragments, each holding a memory of the two boys' time together.

[The powdery snow that landed on my cheek changed to tears.

Always be by my side

Please don't let go of my hands.]

It was now Yuugi's turn to reassure his dark half that his confession did not fall on deaf ears. He smiled and mimicked Yami's actions by cupping his damp cheeks in his hands. He then proceeded to gently lick the falling tears away and end the action with a searing kiss. The pharaoh's eyes flew open in disbelief. He wanted to believe with all his heart that his little aibou felt the same way. Hanging on to this belief with every fiber of his being, he closed his eyes and reciprocated the kiss. He wrapped his arms around Yuugi's small frame and held him tightly in fear that somehow this moment was fleeting.

After a few short moments of shared bliss, their faces parted. Both were breathless and felt weightless from the experience. Yami sighed dreamily.

"So… does this mean that you… you…"

"Yes, my dearest pharaoh," Yuugi continued in his place. "I love you, too. I've been in love with you for the longest time. I honestly never imagined that our feelings would one day be mutual. You have no idea how unbelievably happy I am right now."

He flung his arms around his new love and held him as tightly as his little arms could handle. Yami graciously accepted the embrace and held him equally as tight.

"Actually, I think I have a pretty good idea as to how happy you must be feeling right now. Don't forget that I have also been harboring a secret love for you for a long time. Hearing that you feel the same makes my heart soar to new heights. I love you so much, Yuugi! I'm so happy and relieved I can finally say that to you without fear of being rejected."

Yuugi giggled through his wide smile. "Me, too, Yami. I love you so very, very, very much! I think my heart's gonna burst!"

[The winter sky and shining stars surround the two of us.

White shoulders and white breaths

I'm feeling the winter wish with you.]

Up in the control room, the boys cuddled with their significant others as they surveyed the romantic scene below. The warm energy emitting from Yami and Yuugi was being felt throughout the entire arena. Love was certainly in the air. It was as if spring had paid the boys an early visit.

Yami jerked himself out of the embrace when he remembered something very important. "Oh jeez! I'm so stupid! I forgot to give you your Christmas gift." He smacked his forehead with the palm of his hand and laughed. "Hold on a minute, okay? Let me get it out…" He reached inside one of his jacket pockets and pulled out a small velvety box. "I almost feel like getting down on one knee for this, but seeing as you're still in high school, I figure the big question can wait for a future date. For now, though, I want you to have this."

He opened the box to reveal a pair of beautiful rings. One was almost entirely pitch black. The outer rims were trimmed in platinum gold. The other was the exact opposite: almost entirely platinum gold with black trimming on the edges. Yuugi's eyes shook as he stared speechlessly at the beautifully paired rings. Yami took the black one out and gently placed it on Yuugi's right ring finger. With his free hand the little duel master covered his mouth in astonishment while tears of sheer joy fell down his crimson cheeks.

Yami then handed the velvet box containing the other ring over to his hikari, smiling sweetly as he did so. "I would be honored if you placed this ring on my finger, aibou."

With little hesitation, Yuugi's shaking hand took the ring out of the box and slowly placed it on Yami's right ring finger. He began to sob as an overwhelming happiness engulfed his entire being. The two boys embraced and shared tears of joy. Everything was so surreal and it felt as if a spell had been cast upon the room.

With one arm still around his aibou's waist, Yami took Yuugi's right hand within his own and spoke tenderly. "These will only be temporary promise rings till the day comes when we can make it official. I know we've only just begun our journey as a couple and that bringing rings into the picture this early on may be quite presumptuous of me… but I believe we will get to that special point. Our love and loyalty has been put to the test many times in the past and we've passed every one. In light of that, I have high hoped that we will stay together for the rest of our lives. Either that or I'm just a heavy dreamer. "Yami chuckled a bit through his half-hearted smile. He began to feel as if he was being too forward. Perhaps the rings were a bit much. He mentally sighed and thought himself a fool.

Yuugi, on the other hand, could not think of anything else besides how overwhelmingly wonderful the entire day had become. Here he was staring deeply into the eyes of the young man he had grown to love… only realizing today that that same person shared similar feelings all along… Yes, he was, indeed, the happiest person alive. He began to shake as tears surfaced once more. He threw himself into Yami's arms and sobbed.

"Yuugi, what's wrong? Do you not like the ring?" Yami was taken aback by Yuugi's sudden lunge.

Yuugi shook his head. "No, I love the ring! I… I'm just so happy right now, Yami. I don't think I have the right to feel this happy."

The once pharaoh of ancient Lower Egypt held his little love tightly in his arms and whispered, "You have every right to be happy. And I'm glad I'm the one to make you feel such happiness. I was beginning to think that I had gone overboard with the rings."

Yuugi moved only slightly out of the embrace so he could look at Yami in the eyes. "Okay, while I agree that two people whom just became lovers shouldn't jump to promise rings so soon, I also find what you said to be true, as well. We have been tested many times and, thereby, proven how devoted and loyal we are to one another. That sort of thing only happens as a result of years of building up trust and understanding. Most couples never gain so much so quickly. We are truly an exception. For all these reasons, I gladly accept this ring along with your honest feelings. I, too, have faith that we'll always be together. It's fate, after all. We were destined to be together. I believe tat now more than ever. I love you with all my heart and soul, Yami. And I'm honored that you feel the same."

Yami couldn't help but look upon his lover with a lot of admiration and respect. Yuugi was definitely wise beyond his 17 years. Pride began to swell up within the pharaoh. He smiled softly and pulled Yuugi back into a tender embrace.

"I love you so much, aibou. Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas, Yami."

They broke the embrace and simply stared at each other in silent awe. Yami then stretched his long arms over his head and sighed deeply.

"How about we head up to the control room to thank everyone. Perhaps we should invite them al over to our house for dinner. We need to repay them somehow for their kindness and hard work. This whole thing would not have been possible if it weren't for them. The person we do owe our biggest thanks to would be Jou. This whole entire concept was his idea, after all. This was his Christmas gift to us."

Yuugi looked a little surprised. He giggled slightly, "Oh really? Wow! I guess I can imagine Jounouchi thinking up something like this. Though, I must admit, it does seem a little too elaborate for someone like him. I'm assuming he had help bringing this whole plan to life, right?"

Yami laughed, "Yeah, he had a lot of help. All of our friends had a part in it. Kaiba, Otogi, Honda, Malik, Tozokuo, Ryou, Bakura, and I all helped in some way. Kaiba and Otogi designed the special effects and lighting, of course. So be sure to thank them all properly, aibou. Jou, especially, put his heart and soul into this project. It was very heartwarming watching him day after day doing his very best. Kaiba is a very lucky man."

Yuugi smiled warmly as he thought of his best friend going through so much trouble just to make him happy. He silently promised himself to give his blonde friend a huge hug once they got up to the control room. He grabbed Yami's hand and led him out of the dimly lit room.

"Come on, then. Let's thank them by treating them to a home cooked meal."

Yami smiled. "Of course. That sounds delightful."

A truly merry Christmas awaited them all.