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Plum Blossom (Blue/Green)

[Yugioh] RE:Play, Epilogue - RE:Play

Posted on 2014.02.22 at 12:00
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Tags: , ,
Beginning of this fanfiction is HERE. You will also find more fic intro notes there.

RE:Play by Shiraume

[ Written 5/29/2009-12/31/2010 :: Finished 2/22/2014 ]

RE:Play

A tear rolled down Yuugi’s cheek. The sudden chill around his body told him Seto was no longer holding him. Yuugi blinked away his tears, momentarily disoriented, and realized he was looking at something very familiar.

Yuugi gasped, looking at the Gate to the Underworld with disbelief. He whirled around to find Anzu, Jounouchi, and Honda standing behind him, all with tears in their eyes. Behind them, his grandpa, Bakura, Otogi, Ishizu, Malik, even Rishid. Mokuba. And Seto.

Seto’s eyes had widened only slightly, but it was all the confirmation he needed. Yuugi groped for the necklace hidden under his school jacket, and felt the warm weight of the cartouche. His fingertips traced the pendant blindly, finding ridges and dips of engraved markings instead of smooth surface. Heart racing, Yuugi pulled the cartouche pendant over his head to look at it properly.

The silvery pendant caught the dim light, and on its face, the hieroglyphs for Atem’s name was clearly visible, engraved with delicate, double-stroked outline. Yuugi turned it over, and looked at his own name, similarly engraved on the other side.

Sharp blue eyes cut across the room, the turmoil like thunderclouds in their depths, and Yuugi knew Seto remembered, too.

“Nii-sama, what’s wrong?”

Seto started like someone waking from a dream, breaking away his gaze to look at his little brother. For a brief instant he simply looked at Mokuba like he wanted to pull his brother into his arms, just to reassure himself the boy was really there. Then, Seto’s eyes looked back to Yuugi for a brief instant, then the moment passed as if never been. “Nothing,” he said quietly, his hand coming to rest lightly on Mokuba’s shoulder.

The rumbling tremor that shook the Temple took all of them by surprise. Yuugi nearly reached for his deck before remembering this wasn’t the past, and earthquakes weren’t caused by a spell here.

“The ceiling’s coming down!” Rishid was quick, already bundling his family off toward the stairs, gesturing for the rest of them to follow. Yuugi hesitated only for a moment, looking back at the Gate to the Underworld, and the Stone of King’s Memories. Even as he watched, the Stone cracked into pieces and fell into the chasm underneath, taking the Millennium Items with it. He nearly reached for the Puzzle, and he might have fallen in had Jounouchi not grabbed him and hauled him away.

“Yuugi! We need to go!”

As they raced up the staircase, Yuugi thought he caught a glimpse of Shaadi, standing before the Gate to the Underworld, looking calm and peaceful.

Just as they made it outside, the entire structure collapsed leaving only the entrance visible, albeit blocked with great blocks of rubble. They all stood still, looking at the entrance to the Temple, and at the unbroken stretch of sand surrounding them. Yuugi was acutely aware of Seto’s presence only a few feet away, and squared his shoulders, wiping away all traces of his tears.

He would not dishonor Atem’s memory by breaking down here. Not while Seto was watching. And his friends – his dear Jounouchi, Honda, and Anzu – would not be able to let go and move on if he didn’t take the first step.

Taking a deep breath, Yuugi took his first step over the golden sand, back toward the ship.

~*~*~*~


A week later, back at Domino City, Yuugi found himself slipped back into his old life like he’d never left. In a weird way, school helped, providing him with a familiar routine that predated...everything else. Seto hadn’t been around, but Jounouchi, Honda, and Anzu all stayed close to him, as did Otogi and Bakura, drawing comfort from each other’s presence. Yuugi thought perhaps he was in shock or denial, unable to process the fact Atem was gone. For all intent and purpose, Atem had died, even though his physical death had been over three thousand years ago. And he thought, any day now, the grief would settle in, and he would cry for the passing of his best friend and partner.

Actually, that might have been the collective view of his friends about his strange reticence. They seemed to be waiting for him, hovering on a standby while keeping up with the daily routine.

A throat cleared above him, and Yuugi looked up. Then did a double-take.

“Seto?”

“You seem bored.”

Yuugi let out an awkward laugh. “A little.” Why was it that back in the present, where everything should make sense, he couldn’t find anything meaningful to say to Seto? “You don’t... You don’t drop by here often.”

“I have no reason to.”

Yuugi swallowed. “Right.” He had hoped that perhaps, after their shared experience in the past, Seto might be willing to keep in touch. Even if they weren’t going to resume the closeness they’d shared before. Even if with Atem missing, everything felt strange. Unbalanced.

“I’m not,” Seto started. “I don’t know how to say the right words. Or do the right thing.”

Yuugi’s startled gaze was met with a surprisingly earnest one, and Seto’s hand, light as feather, came to rest on his shoulder. The memory of the last time Seto touched him was so sharp it was an ache, and Yuugi, to his shamed annoyance, felt tears prickling in his eyes.

“I wasn’t sure you’d want to see me,” Yuugi admitted, placing his own hand on top of Seto’s. “I know you don’t like to be reminded of the past.”

“I don’t have to destroy my past to let it go.” A wry smile quirked Seto’s mouth. “Though it took me a while to get that. I owe that much to Atem.”

The mention of Atem’s name was electric, like something being unplugged inside him. The tears slowly rolled down, but Yuugi made no attempt to hide them. “We didn’t even have time to say goodbye.”

Warm fingers brushed away his tears. Yuugi leaned forward just as Seto slid down to a perch next to him, and rested his temple on Seto’s chest. Seto was in his school uniform today, thank God, or the multitude of buckles on his favored coats would have made this quite uncomfortable. The thought made Yuugi smile through his tears, and he relaxed in Seto’s surprisingly gentle embrace.

“Excuse me.”

Seto actually let out an annoyed growl at that, and Yuugi chuckled. “I do have to watch the shop while my grandpa’s out,” he murmured, taking the moment to wipe his eyes before pulling away.

“I’m looking for a game.” The voice was low in timber, masculine, and strangely familiar. “I was hoping you could help me find it.”

Yuugi could only see wild spikes of hair above Seto’s shoulder, but there was a strange tremor in his heart. Like the warm pulse of his deck, he knew this presence. Even while his mind did not, his heart recognized it. Yuugi stepped past Seto, feeling Seto turn around to stand behind him in an almost protective stance. Another step forward, and another. And another.

“...Atem?”

The face, the eyes, all different – yet their expression was breathtakingly familiar. The handsome face broke into a grin. “Oh good, I was afraid I would have to explain.”

“It would be helpful,” Seto said evenly, but Yuugi knew from the way Seto reached for his hand that Seto, too, had recognized Atem.

“There was a reason why I didn’t want to explain,” Atem grumbled, but came closer. “I think going through the past – the second time – released my soul.” Seto raised an eyebrow at the obvious, and Atem sighed, exasperated. “As in, back to the cycle of reincarnation.”

“You don’t look one week old,” Seto pointed out. Being contrary, Yuugi noted with a quiet smile, seemed to restore Seto’s equilibrium quite nicely.

“Because I was reincarnated seventeen years ago,” Atem griped back, and Yuugi could hear the unspoken, you moron at the end. “I just...didn’t remember anything until a week ago.”

A week ago. God. Yuugi felt like banging his head against the wall. “So...all of that was just to... And all this time, you were already around?”

“Not exactly.” Atem glanced from Yuugi to Seto, then back to Yuugi. “Do you remember what I told you about the human soul? In ancient Egyptian theory?”

He did, but it was Seto who answered. “Akh – the living intellect. Reanimated only when the Ka and Ba reunite.”

Just like that, all pieces fell into places. Atem gave them a lopsided smile. “One week ago, I was knocked out with this incredible headache. I didn’t wake up for days. When I woke up, I was disoriented, but...I remembered.”

Yuugi let out a long breath, almost afraid to believe. Not so meaningless, after all. Not for nothing. Worth everything, perhaps, that they could all stand here now. Together.

“You don’t look Egyptian anymore.” Trust Seto to be blunt and to the point, even while in shock. But Yuugi thought it rather meant something else: Atem no longer looked like a carbon copy of his past self, although he and Yuugi still bore uncanny resemblance to each other.

“Neither do you,” Atem replied, and in that instant, something seemed to pass between them, a shared understanding, and acceptance. It was moments like these that made Yuugi remember Seto and Atem had known each other for a long time. “Does it matter?”

The challenging gleam in those blue eyes was so dear, so familiar. Seto straightened, looking down his nose with a smirk, returning the look in spades. “Actually, yes.” Seto’s glance was significant, resting at the belt pouch slung across Atem’s hips, which Yuugi grinned to recognize.

“Ah yes. If I recall correctly, I owed you a rematch, didn’t I?”

“And it’d be a shame if you can’t deliver because you forgot how to duel.” Seto’s eyes raked over him casually, sizing him up as he would to any opponent. Although Yuugi was reasonably sure Seto’s other opponents didn’t get the appreciative once-over as part of the package. “I’ll pick you up here at seven.”

Atem let out an exaggerated sigh. “You’d better at least provide dinner. I do have a curfew, you know.”

Seto gave him a dismissive wave. “I assume you know how to use a phone. I trust staying over at a friend’s house won’t be a problem on a weekend?”

“Is that what they call it these days?” came the blithe reply, accompanied by a raised eyebrow. Seto barked a short laugh, but refused to deign it with an answer. Before he turned, however, Seto surprised Yuugi by casually resting a hand on Yuugi’s cheek.

“See you at seven,” Seto said, and Yuugi felt his heart skip a beat at the promise in his tone.

“Yeah.”

As soon as Seto strode out of the shop, Atem turned to him, an arched brow asking a sardonic question he would never voice. Yuugi shook his head, figuring he could let the sleeping lions lie. Until tonight. “Should I welcome you back?”

Atem shrugged. “This is another life, not coming back to life.” Yuugi nodded; that seemed like all there was to say about the tricky subject of reincarnation. Come to think of it, Seto was the reincarnated self of the ancient priest, Seth. Why had they thought Atem wouldn’t be able to follow the same route?

“You do realize this is going to end up in some bizarre threesome, don’t you?” Yuugi blurted out before he could think better of it.

At that Atem stilled for a moment, then started laughing. “Well, yes. But we’ve lived out all the predestined parts of our lives already. The rest,” Atem said, slipping his hand into Yuugi’s, “is up to us.”

“So after the two of you duke it out tonight, I suppose it will be my turn to duel whoever wins?”

Atem’s smirk was roughish. “You’ll be dueling me, you mean. I can take him anytime.”

“Oh, I’m sure.” Yuugi grinned back, feeling playful and alive. “You do realize you’re not the King of Games anymore?”

“Oh please, I can still kick Kaiba’s ass. What does he have that I don’t, anyway?”

Yuugi laughed, letting their joined hands sway between them. “You mean besides three feet in height and sixty pounds in weight?” Seto had quite thoughtfully flipped the store’s sign to CLOSED for them. And he didn’t need conscious thought to navigate their way upstairs, to his – their – room. With gentle tugs, he guided Atem through the stairs and hallway Atem had only been to inside Yuugi’s body, relishing the presence of another body next to his.

“I am not that short,” grumbled Atem as he entered Yuugi’s room.

The door shut behind them, cutting off Yuugi’s amused laughter.

FINIS




Afterword

I may have to add some more historical notes later, but for now – I’m done! Yes, epilogue title was also RE:Play, and actually, eponymous for the whole story: rewind, retry, return, reset, recall, and replay.

This story has a very special place in my heart. Yugioh isn’t my usual or favorite fandom to write for, but this one IS one of my favorite projects to date. It had an unusual writing process, including an extremely detailed story plan that evolved alongside the story itself (which I don’t usually do). I think the end result was a better story, however, so I may try that method again.

Most important part, though – credits! I’ve already credited Experimental’s seventeen for the perfect double entendre in Chapter 10. Experimental is one of my favorite writers for several different fandoms and definitely worth checking out.

More specific to Yugioh, Vathara ’s Roll the Bones is pretty much the story that changed everything for me, by making me realize Yugioh duels are TOTALLY USABLE for a good fanfiction and actually pretty exciting when done well. Equally importantly, Vathara’s works consist living proof that creating one’s own version of story canon is perfectly lovely as long as it’s consistent. On that note: Foreign xChange! and Whistling Past the Graveyard.

And Scribbler’s Variation on a Theme for just being super special awesome. This is probably my other favorite Yugioh fanfiction. And the reason I will always have a soft spot for Anzu. I don’t usually have such clear favorites in any fandoms, but Vathara’s Roll the Bones and Scribbler’s Variation on a Theme are pretty much It for me. Related stories to Variation on a Theme here: Unforsaken and Fish Out of Troubled Water.

Thank you so much for all of you who’ve read and followed this fic! And extra serving of love and gratitude to all those who took the time to comment! Sorry I didn’t get a chance to answer all comments, but I really appreciated every single one of them. When I struggled with motivation to revise, your warm comments kept me going.

--Shiraume


Crossposted at http://shiraume-fic.dreamwidth.org/31293.html.

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