Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! doesn't belong to me. Duh.
Of course he was. It was graduation day, a heavenly day where all teenagers broke free of the
tyranny that was high school. The day that sparked the rest of their lives; that wonderfully terrifying day when society finally
began to view them all as adults.
It was, for Yuugi, another day of growth. He'd had a lot of them.
Yes, he was growing. Not in height, of course not. He could never be so lucky. No, in his heart,
he was growing stronger every day. Thanks to his friends.
Even those long lost.
He sighed. So. It was going to be one of those days.
Outside, the birds were dancing. Yuugi's open window let in cool March air. (1) It was a nice
day, the clouds parting to make way for the bright orange glow of the sun. Yes, today would be a beautiful day.
Can you see me from where you are, Atem? Yuugi shook his head and sighed. No, he couldn't
think like that. Atem was happy in the Spirit World and he himself was content here with all of his friends.
All but one.
“Stop it,” he grumbled, returning to his bureau. He'd turned the mirror backward
years ago so that the reflecting surface saw only the wall. He couldn't stand to see another one of himself in the same room
as him. His grandfather and mother had never spoken a word about it, leaving him in peace.
He touched his hair, unchanged in all these years. It was ready. He was ready.
“Yuugi! Your friends are here!”
“Thanks, Grandpa!” Yuugi called back. He reached for his bookbag without thinking.
With a jerk, he realized that he wouldn't need it. He probably wouldn't need it ever again.
“Atem...” he whispered. On a day like this, when everyone was moving forward, it
was inevitable that they would look to the past. But that was never good for him. His past spread to his lost friend...
over three thousand years ago. “I wish you were here.” A stupid wish; he'd sent his friend away with his own hands.
And it was for the best.
Atem was happy in the Spirit World with his old friends. And besides, it wasn't like he was
completely gone. He was still here in Yuugi's thoughts and heart. And whenever Yuugi was brave, whenever he showed confidence,
it was Atem there, standing right there beside him.
But still... that didn't erase the emptiness.
Yuugi left his room, his bookbag still lying negligently against his bed.
“Hey, guys!” Yuugi called, waving widely at his friends.
“Hey there, Yug'!” Jounouchi returned, a wide smile plastered on his face.
“Yugi!” Anzu shouted, waving back.
As soon as he was in reach, Jounouchi pulled him in for a noogie. “I still can't believe
we're all graduating and you're still hardly over five feet tall!”
Yuugi was destined to be short. He didn't have to like it. “Thanks a lot, Jou,”
“Aww, you know I'm just kiddin', Yug'.” Jounouchi laughed and let him go. “We
love you no matter how short you are.”
“Jounouchi, that's not really all that helpful,” Anzu snapped.
“Yeah, Jou, you better be careful. Yuugi's still the King of Games, after all. He could
whip your butt if he wanted to.” Honda smirked.
Jounouchi rounded on his eldest friend. “Oh yeah? I'll take you on!”
“Oh yeah? How about a nice even game of fisticuffs?” They stood toe to toe, glaring
into each other's faces.
Yuugi smiled. Things really hadn't changed. Everyone was still the same, though Jounouchi and
Honda had managed to gain another inch on him. For that matter, Anzu almost seemed to have gained an inch on him, as
well. At a measly 5'1” (he'd grown an inch himself, yay), he always had to look up to everyone. It would be a curse
he carried all his life, just as his Grandpa had. But he'd make a name for himself anyway – just like his Grandpa.
“Yuugi? You okay, man?”
Yuugi jumped and turned to Jounouchi. He and Honda had grabbed each other's faces and pulled.
They looked like fools. It made Yuugi smile again. “Yeah, I'm fine. We should get going, shouldn't we?”
“Ah, yeah.” The two released each other and stepped back. “Man, it would suck
if we were late to our own graduation.”
“Yeah,” Honda agreed. Apparently the tousle was already forgotten, because both
turned and moved side-by-side down the street to the high school. Yuugi followed after them.
Anzu stayed where she was. Yuugi turned to her, anxious to continue on after Jounouchi and Honda.
When he saw Anzu's eyes, though, he stopped. Her eyes were cast down, but still he could see the anxious, fearful expression
in them. “Anzu?” He went to her side.
“Yuugi.” She looked up then, staring straight into his eyes. “You... you miss
Atem, don't you.”
It wasn't a question. And Yuugi knew his eyes had given him away immediately. He sighed. “Yeah.
I wish he could see how we've grown.” I wish I could see him.
Yuugi shook off his melancholy and smiled. “No, don't worry about it, Anzu. He's still
right here.” Yuugi touched his chest. “Right?”
She echoed his movement, then smiled brightly, seemingly cheered, as well. “Right!”
Yuugi nodded. “Then let's go. We don't want to be late.”
She nodded in vigorous agreement. As one, they turned and ran to catch up with the others.
Despite his words, Yuugi couldn't help but hurt. It was true that the memories rested in his
heart, but they could never replace the man himself. All Yuugi had to comfort him was the knowledge that Atem was happy in
Spirit World – which ended up not being as much of a comfort as it used to be.
Yuugi spent his last moments as a high school student searching the crowd for his Grandpa and
mother. It took a bit, but his Grandpa's hair stood out enough that he could find him. He gave a small wave in their direction
and was rewarded with enthusiastic waves in return.
If only Atem were here...
He looked back to the principal, who was speaking to the parents about growth. It wasn't as
if he wasn't happy. With Jounouchi and Anzu and Honda by his side, how could he not be? No, he was happy... most of the time.
But there were days like this, days where he couldn't help but think of Atem. Despite all the
danger, they'd had their nice days. Days when they'd just been able to... to hang out with each other. Now there was no one
He saw Anzu staring at him from a few seats down and flashed her a quick smile. She returned
it, but her eyes were sharp. She could see that he hadn't gotten Atem out of his head.
He heard Honda's name being called now and jumped slightly. How much of his own graduation had
he missed? With concentrated effort, he pulled himself together and beamed at Honda as he stood to receive his diploma.
“Whoo-hoo! Yug', man, we did it!” Jounouchi grabbed Yuugi and danced him around
in a small circle. Yuugi couldn't help but laugh at Jounouchi's antics.
“Yeah!” he agreed happily. He turned to Anzu and Honda. “So, do any of you
have plans now?”
Anzu blushed, but Honda laughed and scratched his head. “Nope!” he shouted. “Jou
and I are probably going to get jobs. I'll be hanging with Jou for a while.”
“Really?” Yuugi smiled. “That's sounds great!” He turned to Anzu. “Anzu?”
She shuffled her feet, then looked up and smiled brightly. “I was going to tell you all
later, but... I can't wait!” She leaned forward, her hands on her hips. “I got a scholarship to Barnard College
in New York City!”
“No way!” Yuugi shouted, followed immediately by his taller friends.
“Yes way!” She was jumping, she was so excited. It was contagious. “It's an
extremely prestigious school with a large dance studio... I can't wait!”
“Congrats, Anzu!” Jounouchi shouted, lifting her into a huge hug. “That's
great! You're on your way to becoming a famous dancer!”
“Yeah! I'm finally getting my dream!” She lifted her arms in the air, trusting Jounouchi
not to drop her. “I'm so happy! I just wish all of you could come with me.”
Yuugi's smile wavered for less than a millisecond. “Anzu, you know we'll be there. Where
Anzu nodded, and Jounouchi set her down. “Yeah, you're right. Friends are always together.
As long as we remember each other, we're together. Our hearts are connected.”
Yuugi nodded, his thoughts three thousand years away.
Honda clapped Jounouchi on the shoulder. “Hey, what do you say we eat?”
“Yeah! I'm starving!”
“What do you say, guys?” Honda turned. Anzu agreed immediately, and Yuugi echoed
“Sure,” he said. “But I have to get back home before six. Grandpa and Mom
are throwing a party. You guys can come if you want.”
“Sweet! A party!” Jounouchi crowed. “Is there cake?”
“Yeah, I think so,” he managed.
“A party for graduating? How much more lame are you losers going to get?”
Yuugi turned, surprised. “Kaiba?”
There he stood, glaring down at them as he came to a stop, still outrageously tall, still wearing
outlandish outfits. And still wearing that smirk.
Yuugi smiled. Here was someone linked to Atem, whether he wanted the link or not. “Hi
there, Kaiba. Are you holding a party, too?”
“Not hardly,” he scoffed. “Some of us have billion-dollar companies to run.”
He turned behind him. “Mokuba.”
“Coming, big brother!” Mokuba called, squeezing through the crowd of graduates around
them. “Oh! Hi, Yuugi! Congratulations on graduating!”
Unlike his brother, Mokuba had retained his warmth over the years. “Thanks, Mokuba,”
“Come on, Mokuba. We're leaving.”
“Okay.” Mokuba gave a quick wave to them all and ran off after his brother.
“That Kaiba,” Jounouchi snarled. “I swear if it's the last thing I do, I'm
gonna get 'im!”
Honda gave him a sardonic look. “And just how will you do that? You still can't beat him
at Duel Monsters.”
“I can beat 'im!” Jounouchi boasted, though he'd been beaten just three months ago
– Kaiba rarely battled Jounouchi, seeing him as too weak for his time.
Yuugi stared after Kaiba. The man hadn't changed much since those days with Atem. He acknowledged
Yuugi as the King of Games, and every once in a while he would listen to Yuugi's stories about Atem without getting irritated
over 'hocus-pocus' nonsense, but in the end he was still the same Kaiba. It was oddly nostalgic when he was around.
Yuugi turned. “Oh! Sorry, guys.” They were already walking ahead, presumably to
go to Burger World. He vaguely recalled them agreeing on that place to eat.
He cast one more look toward Kaiba's exit, already filled in by other seniors celebrating their
freedom. And stopped, frozen.
A woman with long black hair stared straight at him. And as soon as their eyes met, she tued
away with a small flourish.
His heart froze for a bit before jackhammering. “I-I'll be right there, guys!” he
called, racing off after the woman.
She merely walked away, not making any attempt to escape. She wanted him to follow her.
She left the school grounds and headed straight forward. He followed on her heels. Yes, she
had dark hair, dark skin, dark eyes. He recognized Egyptian people by now. She was...
“Wait!” he called out.
She continued without pausing.
But everything was over! Right? That was how Atem was able to go to the Spirit World. He'd finished
everything. There was nothing more for him to do. That was why...
Could it be... could it possibly be a coincidence? Maybe the woman didn't know he was following
her. Would she panic when she saw him chasing her?
But then why had she been staring at him?
He paused in the street. She had already crossed and was moving towards a juncture between two
“Wait! Excuse me...” He reached out as if he could touch her.
As if sensing his hesitation, she turned and looked directly at him. He felt frozen for a moment
– those eyes were dark, but they were... dark orange.
She turned and entered the small alleyway.
“Wait!” he shouted again, dashing after her. A car honked at him, but he ignored
it. She definitely wanted him to follow – there was no more doubt in his mind.
When he entered the small space, he had to pause for his eyes to adjust. It was dark, and there
was nothing there but the two brick walls on either side. She stood before him, still turned away. Her bright yellow clothes
were easy to pick out, a simple robe not unlike Ishizu's.
His breath caught in his throat. But of course it wasn't odd for people to know who he was.
He was, after all, the King of Games. “Y-Yes?”
Now she turned, piercing him with those strange eyes of hers. “I must apologize,”
she murmured, her voice a deep, dark velvet.
“A-Apologize?” He didn't feel safe here, alone in a dark corridor with an Egyptian
wielding strange eyes. He'd had some bad experiences with Egyptians to match the good ones...
“You have entered danger.” She moved her arm. He flinched.
Those eyes crinkled a bit in amusement. She reached behind her neck and pulled out a small necklace.
A clawed bail held a small gem. “You must take this,” she murmured, unhooking it from her neck.
“I...” The gem was a bright orange color, cut expertly and luminous. And undoubtedly
expensive. “I couldn't...”
“It is rightfully yours. You bore the soul of our Pharaoh.”
Yuugi stilled. “Wh-what...” How did this person know that?!
She quickly but gently slid the necklace into his hand. With a small smile, she curved his fingers
over the gem. Her hand was warm. “I must leave. Just remember,” she raised one long, elegant finger, “if
ever you are in danger, touch that gem and call my name.”
“Your name?” Yuugi echoed. Danger? Had to leave? What was going on?
“Eshe?” Yuugi stepped forward. “What danger?”
“I am afraid I have no time to explain. Be wary; there are others searching for you. You
can trust only myself and my... companions.”
He caught that hesitation. “Companions? What companions?”
“They are named Akhenaton and Ini-Herit.” (3) She closed her eyes and turned away.
“Be wary, little Yuugi. And remember to always wear that gem.”
“I must go.”
And right before his eyes, she disappeared.
He reached out as if to grab her, but her form was already long gone. If it weren't for the
cold gem nestled in his hand, he wouldn't be able to believe anything had actually occurred. He looked down at it. It sparkled
brightly, even in the dark alleyway.
Wordlessly, he put it on.
After so much time, he had truly believed that everything was over. That nothing else would
happen. What could? Atem was gone.
He sighed, but a smile came over his face. Nothing was over. There was something to do, something
to think about other than the unknown future, where his friends were getting jobs and moving away, where his loneliness would
eventually increase. No, now there was something to do.
This time, though, he would be facing it alone, without Atem.
That thought stole his smile. Could he do it all alone?
“I'm not alone,” he whispered, looking at the back of his right hand. That was right;
they were all with him. As long as he believed...
“Atem is still with me. And because of that, whatever this 'danger' is, I can beat it.”
>< Yes, I know. KAYURA! ANOTHER FREAKING STORY?! FINISH ONE FIRST! -_-;; I know, I know,
I'm sorry. But the ending for this kind of sucked, and I spent HOURS of my life watching it and suffering through card battles...
>< And I hate sucky endings...
Btw, I'm not a huge fan of mushy friendship crap, but in the interest of keeping everyone in
character... and against my best attempts, this story moves very fast from here on...
http://discover-jp.blogspot.com/2006/04/when-does-year-start.html (This is my reference material). I am very well aware that I have officially Americanized the graduation ceremony. I also
realize I have no earthly clue how it should be, and am therefore letting it go.
Eshe means “life.”
Akhenaton and Ini-Herit are also named for certain reasons, but these I won't tell you. ^^ Look
them up if you want, but they may contain spoilers. ><