Work Header

if it must be born from fire

Work Text:

"Before I knew what was happening, I was in agony and terrified for my life. Burning pain exploded in my left shoulder and I was thrown over the edge of the narrow bridge of stone slabs. My guide had shot me while my back was turned – confirming my distrust.

I caught the edge of the bridge just in time but only by the tips of my fingers. My left arm was completely incapacitated and I couldn't hold my weight on just my right arm alone, at least not for very long anyways. The wound bled profusely, the blood wetting my coat and running down my back. I was losing strength and my senses blurred. I didn't have a fighting chance.

Above me, the guide received his horrifying judgment.

I feared the same fate for myself but I knew I'd more likely drop into the darkness below. In my haziness, I was filled with regret. I didn't want to believe everything would end there; that I was so close to the treasure but couldn't touch it and that I would be robbed of all the years I thought I still had.

Then a hand reached out from the receding light. The man was dressed in the finery of a different time: gold generously adorned his limbs, a billowing cape fanned out from behind him like wings and a heavy crown rested on his head. He regarded me with commanding but kind eyes:

'I have been waiting, Siamun.'

I was compelled to obey, even though I didn't know whom he was addressing. His voice was strong and solid and his hand did not waver as he reached down for me. He offered a reliable foundation and invited me to trust him. There was no doubt that he could help me.

And I was right to trust him."

There were several things about the Hinotama card that made it terrifying. Firstly, it was illegal. So when the opponent, no, their friend, sprung such a card against them, they were completely unprepared. Secondly, the sophistication of KaibaCorp's solid-vision technology was truly magnificent. Regardless of how much you trained your mind to believe it wasn't real, when blasted at you, you'd want to get away. But this fire came in the form of an enormous ball of rage; it covered the skies in yellows and whites, and when it descended upon them, it was merciless. The heat of the blinding light was more felt than seen and the spectacular execution of its attack trajectory threw them to the ground even though not a speck of it actually touched them.

And lastly, the gripping fear of this attack did not easily leave them. There was something psychological in the damage dealt by an unpoliced card, more so when its wielder played it in the spirit of hatred and betrayal. There was no justice, no fairness, and no room to protect the self. It was truly, truly unfair.

But it was in this state that Yugi closed the door of his soul to his other self. Yugi's other self agreed, although reluctantly. In truth, he was deeply afraid. His purpose was to protect Yugi and endure everything in Yugi's stead. He was prepared for this and knew he had both the mental and physical resilience to withstand the enemy's cruelty. He did not believe Yugi could do the same.

This was not the time for Yugi to test his courage - it was too dangerous. There would be other opportunities to do so in the future. Yugi should have listened.

Locked in his home of mazes, Yugi's other self had no choice but to wait. Despite the seemingly endless space, the place felt stifling. He felt trapped with no way of communicating with his partner. He needed to know and not knowing made him extremely uneasy.

He wandered the maze, hoping time would pass rapidly and that that he'd be reconnected with his partner soon. In this state, his Soul Room didn't feel the same. The ancient stone walls reverberated his own fears and anxieties and the darkest corners groaned in discomfort. At some places the ground strained under his weight and he couldn't be sure of his footing.

Then the ground fell through. Without warning, the stones crumbled beneath the spirit's feet and he was suddenly freefalling. He reached out in time to grasp the edge, but, for a moment, his body was in shock. The last bricks fell into the darkness but he couldn't hear them hit the bottom. Of course, there is no bottom.

Gripping onto the ledge with all his strength, the spirit look upward, desperate for a way to save himself. Already his hand started to cramp and he wasn't sure if he had the strength to pull himself up on one arm alone.

He panicked. His Soul Room had never done something like it before. He knew it only reflected his own lack of memories but was merciful enough to tell him where all the traps and pitfalls were so he could avoid them. But this, this felt like… betrayal.

And he was completely alone. He wondered if it was possible to die again and, if not, what would become of him otherwise.

But he'd somehow figure this out, by himself if need be.

Another presence caught his attention and he was surprised to find his partner reaching down for him.

"Come on, Other Me, I'll help you up."

The spirit stared at the small hand, then Yugi's thin arm. He couldn't tell if it could support him and the last thing he wanted to do was pull them both in. He hesitated.

Yugi reached out further, "You can trust me."

But he still wasn't sure. A part of him felt guilty for being the one who needed Yugi's help. It meant he was no longer reliable, that, perhaps, he couldn't protect Yugi as fully as he promised.

Yugi looked hurt by the spirit's hesitance but didn't withdraw his hand. He smiled softly, reassuringly. "All this time, I never knew where my strength came from. I've always been a coward and I don't know if I gained my friends on my own or if it's because of you. I want to prove that I've become something better than I used to be. And, anyways, I can't just leave you here."

Still, he waited. But Yugi waited as well, with a breadth of patience that the spirit didn't have. Yugi wasn't judging, but sympathetic. And it was as if he knew what the spirit would do before the spirit did.

The spirit didn't have very long until his hold gave out. Yugi was right. And maybe the spirit had been prideful above all else. He already knew how much better Yugi was than himself but maybe Yugi really didn't know it yet. Trusting Yugi was the least he could do – it was a long time coming.

He reached out and took Yugi's waiting hand.

When the spirit rejoined with his partner, the duel was already over. Malik had taken every possible measure to corner them and it seemed impossible for both Yugi and Jounouchi to get out of it alive. But there they were, Yugi, Jounouchi and Anzu out of harm's way and Jounouchi back to himself. The spirit could only imagine what had transpired after Yugi took off the puzzle but the two were both drenched and their other friends had joined them.

He didn't want to intrude on their celebration. He wanted to observe from afar because this was Yugi's victory and Yugi's time to be with his friends. There was something else about his partner as well, something that surprised him.

Yugi stood a little straighter, his shoulders less hunched and his face turned up in joy. It was like a heavy burden was lifted off his shoulders, like he'd passed an especially difficult trial. The spirit knew where this new-found confidence came from but doubted he could do the same had he been in Yugi's place. It had been so difficult for him to trust his own partner, after all.

And it was only one way in which Yugi surpassed him.