DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fanfiction produced for entertainment purposes only. Yu-Gi-Oh! and all related characters are the creations of Kazuki Takahashi.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Speech written as 'text' indicates that it's being thought, not spoken. Text in italics indicates a dream sequence.

 

Heart of the Spirit
By Shadow's Mirror

 

Yami was bored.

Completely, totally, 'why am I putting up with this?' bored.

He and Yugi hadn't fought a duel in over a week. Even then, his opponent had been a mere kid who hadn't realised who he was dealing with. As soon as he'd found out, the boy had stammered an apology and run away, barely taking the time to gather up his cards before fleeing! For Yugi, it had been a slightly embarrassing incident. For Yami, it had been a less than satisfactory conclusion to something that had barely resembled a challenge in the first place.

Yugi wasn't helping either. Ever since the incident with Kaiba during Duelist Kingdom, Yugi had kept him under such tight control that Yami could barely stand it. He could understand the boy's fear. But that didn't mean that he had to like it. He thought that he had proven himself during the duel against Pegasus, but Yugi was still afraid of him and what he might do. As if he'd actually do anything to any of their friends!

Yami sighed and shifted his position slightly on the wide windowsill where he was perched. He wished that Yugi could understand, but he knew he couldn't force the issue. He needed to be patient and allow Yugi time to get to know him. No matter how frustrating it was for him to have to constantly be on his best behaviour. There were other things to be considered too.

The battle against Kaiba had resulted in more than just Yami's defeat. Even though several weeks had passed since it had happened, both Yami and Yugi were still getting used to all of the consequences.

Somehow, when Yugi had stopped Yami from defeating Kaiba, the two had become fully aware of each other for the first time since Yugi had solved the Millennium Puzzle. Much to their surprise, it had also brought about a sort of 'ghost' effect. It was now possible for them to stand side by side, each in his own form. Even though the second body wasn't physical, and they were the only ones who could see each other, Yami found it both enjoyable and oddly unsettling to be able to separate himself from his 'other half'.

Yami didn't use the ability all that often during the day, but the night was another matter. When Yugi was asleep and he was awake, Yami was usually too bored to stay still. By separating, it meant that he was able to pace the room or gaze out the window for hours without disturbing the smaller boy's rest. Most of the time, he simply perched on the windowsill, puzzling over his forgotten past and wondering at the odd new world in which he found himself. Sooner or later though, his thoughts always returned to the boy sleeping on the other side of the room.

Yami sighed and shifted again at the thought, his new position giving him a clearer view of the small figure lying on the large bed on the other side of the room. His scowl deepened. How could Yugi fear him so much and yet sleep so soundly when he was near?

The spirit glared at the sleeping boy, suddenly very irritated. 'Why should he sleep when I cannot? It is his fault for my feeling like this, anyway!'

Yami began to reach out with his mind, intending to wake Yugi with the mental equivalent of a yell in his ear. As he did so though, Yugi made a soft noise and stirred in his sleep, causing Yami to pause. He studied Yugi more closely. The boy seemed to be breathing more heavily than usual and his face looked rather flushed. Yami frowned slightly. Was something wrong? Concerned, the spirit slipped from his seat and hurried to the bed. After a moment of careful study, he suddenly realised what was going on. The realisation led him to the surprising discovery that he could actually blush while still in his spirit form.

'He is... having a really good dream. It is most likely about Téa.' The thought made him grin. It also gave him a rather wicked idea. 'I wonder... If I merge with him again now, maybe I can see his dream too.' Yami's eyes gleamed at the thought.

A few moments later, Yami cautiously cracked open the door of Yugi's soulroom. The bright chamber was empty and Yami grinned, knowing what that meant. Yugi was still dreaming. He quickly slipped inside the room and wove through the toys and games scattered across the floor until he reached Yugi's bed and the low bookcase opposite it. A small red television set sat on top of the bookcase, it's remote control beside it. After taking another guilty look around to make sure that he was alone, Yami turned the television on and settled down on the bed to watch Yugi's dream. It took him a moment to realise that Yugi wasn't dreaming about Téa after all.

Rex Raptor, Weevil Underwood, Bandit Keith, Maximillian Pegasus and Seto Kaiba stood together on one side of a dueling field. They were all smirking as they played their cards. Rex played Two-Headed King Rex, Weevil played Ultimate Great Moth, Bandit Keith played Slot Machine and Pegasus played his Dark Rabbit. Seto Kaiba played a Blue Eyes White Dragon and then used two Flutes of Summoning Dragon to summon his other two to the field. A quick Polymerization later and the Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon towered over the field, roaring and baring its sharp teeth.

The lone duelist standing on the other side of the field smiled slightly. As he raised his head, his amethyst eyes gleamed. He smiled slightly, apparently unfazed by his opponents' cards. "Is that the best the five of you can do? Very well. Prepare to be defeated. Remember, if even one of you loses all of your lifepoints, this game is over and I win." Yami's little smile tilted into a wicked smirk.

"We know that. Will you just get on with it?" Kaiba glared at Yami.

"Don't worry, Kaiba-boy. He's just stalling for time." Pegasus smiled serenely. "He doesn't have any cards strong enough to defeat all of us and his life points are already down to 300. One more turn and he will lose." Rex, Weevil and Keith all sneered at Yami. Kaiba just kept glaring.

Yami drew a card and glanced at it. His expression shifted into his familiar 'I just drew the exact card that I needed to kick your tails' look. He smirked across the field at his opponents. "First, I activate the magic card Black Hole!" A dark void appeared in the air above the field, causing all five of Yami's opponents to gasp in horrified shock. "Black Hole removes all monsters from the field. I don't have any monsters to lose, but all of you can now say 'goodbye' to yours!" The dark void began to suck all of the monsters into itself. When they were all gone, it vanished. The five duelists all stared at Yami in disbelief.

"Well... I didn't see that one coming," Pegasus muttered. The others shot him annoyed looks. Except for Kaiba, who continued to glare at Yami.

"Now, I play another magic card. Monster Reborn! Kaiba, I'm sure you'll be glad to see the return of an old friend of yours." Yami's smirk was pure smug satisfaction as he restored the Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon to the field. Kaiba started to growl as his four companions all turned pale. "Now! Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon! Attack Pegasus's lifepoints directly! He's the most annoying..."

"Ooh! That's harsh!" Pegasus held up his hands as the attack hit. When the light faded, Yami was standing alone on the dueling field. Even the Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon had disappeared with the end of the duel. Yami sighed heavily.

"Yami! You won! You saved me!" Yami looked up at the sound of Yugi's voice. A card appeared in the air in front of him, then began to shine with a brilliant white light. A moment later, the light faded to reveal Yugi standing there. The little boy smiled up at the spirit, obviously very happy to see him. His large amethyst eyes shimmered and he took a hesitant step forward.

"Yugi... My little Yugi..." Yami held out his arms and Yugi flew into them. They hugged each other tightly then...

The next moment, Yami was back in his spirit form in the real world. He quickly turned to the window and pretended to be studying something outside. In reality though, his mind was whirling in confusion. He had thought that Yugi hated him and yet... that dream... Could Yugi actually feel that way? Could he honestly see Yami as a... hero? But what sort of hero would have done something so sneaky? How could he have pried into Yugi's dreams in that way? Whatever had possessed him to think that it would be fun? He felt sick with disgust at his actions. Yami looked unseeingly out into the night, his body shaking as he struggled to control his emotions.

From the bed, Yugi silently watched Yami's reaction. He was struggling with his feelings too.

At first, he hadn't realised what had woken him up. Then he'd sensed Yami's emotions through their mind link and had understood. He was furious and hurt that Yami would invade his privacy like that, but he was also very embarrassed. Yugi really hadn't wanted Yami to know about that particular dream. He'd been dreaming it every night since Duelist Kingdom. At least Yami hadn't seen all of it. Yugi's face went hot at the thought. He glanced over at the shadowy figure, slightly stunned by how relieved he was that Yami had stopped watching the dream when he had.

'Bakura wouldn't have stopped.' The thought flashed through Yugi's mind with the force of summer lightning. He knew it was the truth and that made him realise something else. 'I've been afraid of Yami because I thought that he was like Bakura. But he isn't. He isn't evil.' As he looked at the spirit shaking with emotion at the window, Yugi knew what he had to do.

- - -

Yami jumped when Yugi spoke from right behind him. He was so startled that he missed what was said. "E...excuse me?"

"I said, what are you doing over here? You should be with me. Not alone." The last was said so softly that Yami was sure his imagination was playing a cruel joke on him, until he turned around and saw the tide of colour staining Yugi's cheeks. The small boy was staring down at the floor in apparent fascination. Yami was suddenly sure that Yugi knew what had happened.

"I... I'm sorry if I woke you."

"You didn't. It was the mind link. It made me realise something."

Yami swallowed hard and tried to stop trembling. "W... what?"

Yugi suddenly looked up, his amethyst eyes steady as they met Yami's gaze. There was no fear or hatred in them, but there was something that Yami had never thought to see there.

Trust.

"You're not the spirit from Ryou's Millennium Ring. You're the spirit of the Millennium Puzzle. My spirit. I know now that you would never hurt my friends... or me."

"Never!" The promise was given instinctively, without the slightest hesitation, and Yugi smiled.

"You didn't answer my question." At Yami's confused look, Yugi's smile widened. "I asked you why you were over here alone instead of with me." The words came more easily that time.

Yami looked out the window, unable to meet Yugi's innocent gaze. "How can you trust me, knowing that I...?"

"Would protect me at any cost." Yami turned and blinked, stunned by the tentative completion of his sentence. It hadn't been what he would have said. It was far better.

"Of course. That is... if you will allow me to?" At Yugi's shy nod, Yami smiled a little. "Very well then. My first step in protecting you is... to make sure that you get enough sleep! Now go to bed! It's far too late for you to be up." Yugi giggled softly as Yami gave him a mock-glare.

"You were the one who woke me!" Yugi cheerfully reminded the spirit. Yami winced.

"Ah. I had forgotten about that."

Yugi giggled again, then smiled shyly up at the spirit. "Are you coming too? You should get some rest. Unless you don't need to..." He trailed off, looking uncertain.

Yami was about to say no when he realised that he was feeling rather tired suddenly. He didn't really need to sleep, but he could. He smiled slightly and nodded. "Very well." He watched as Yugi padded to the bed and climbed in, then blinked in surprise as the small boy held the covers up and eyed him curiously. He had been intending to return to his soul room, but... Yami sensed through the mind link that Yugi needed the same reassurance that he did at that moment. They needed to know that the other was there. With a slight smile, Yami nodded and joined Yugi, slipping under the covers on the other side of the large bed. He'd stay for a little while. Just until Yugi fell asleep.

- - -

Yugi was starting to get sleepy, but there was something bothering him. He was just tired enough to say it. "Why didn't you stop the duel?" He didn't have to explain what he meant.

Yami sighed softly and looked away while he gathered the words. "I knew that if we lost, then Grandpa would be lost too. All I could focus on was the fact that we needed to win that duel. I didn't want to hurt Kaiba, but I knew that we couldn't afford to give in to him. I thought... I thought that he was just trying to prove himself against us. I knew Pegasus must have set it up. Not even Kaiba's timing is that bad. But I didn't know about Mokuba. I never thought that he would really jump. Even if he had tried though..."

Yami glanced at Yugi, his expression serious and determined... but also slightly unsure. "Yugi... I... I am the spirit of a Millennium Item and, like the other Millennium Items, the Puzzle has great power. I can wield that power when I must. You have no need to fear me because of it, however. The power itself is neither good nor evil. It is how it is used that makes the difference. I have used it only when necessary, and only to defend you and our friends. I would never use it against you, or them. If Kaiba had tried to jump... I would have wielded that power to stop him. To protect him."

"I'm sorry, Yami. I should have trusted you." Yugi's eyes were drifting closed, but his words were clear. Yami smiled.

"You did not know me. If I had been you, I doubt that I would have done any differently."

Yugi smiled slightly. "Hmm... Thank you. Come on, let's get some sleep."

Yami nodded and closed his eyes. He was tired too. He rolled over, so he could just feel the warmth generated by Yugi's body. He sighed, completely content for the first time in a very long while, and drifted off to sleep. At his side, Yugi was already in dreamland.

- - -

Shortly after midnight, Yami shifted unconsciously towards the warmth generated by Yugi's body. Their shoulders touched and both boys smiled slightly in their sleep. In the morning, their awakening minds would remind them that it wasn't possible for Yami to touch or be touched. In the meantime though, their subconscious minds allowed them to feel the reality without the burden of logic or awareness.

On the bedside table, the Millennium Puzzle glowed faintly with power.

 

The End