Title: In the Same Condition [Yami, Joey]
Rating/Warnings: PG for "all alone in this big empty body" angst
Summary: Joey inquires whether Yami wants to be punched again.
AN: spoilers for about half of the "Waking the Dragons" arc (the Seal of Oracalchos business). Also, I've just watched the first three of the real beginning of the series, the ones that have never been translated because Yami is crazy wicked evil, so that's where Yami's and Joey's backstory came from (TV-Nihon is fansubbing them, and I highly recommend, if for no other reason than to see Seto with green hair and Joey be the largest ass evar).
In The Same Condition
"How bout this heat, eh?" Joey threw open the screen door and clumped down the stairs with all the grace of an elephant in combat boots.
Yami, who felt like there was nothing stopping the desert wind from blowing right through him, didn't answer. He was sitting on the bottom step of the trailer, wrists resting on his knees and fingers dangling. Only they were Yugi's knees and and Yugi's wrists and Yugi's fingers and moving anything made Yami ache from the inside out, so he was sitting as limply as possible. Even his hair, Yugi's hair, felt like it was dragging.
Joey threw himself down onto the step beside Yami in what shook the wooden steps like a crash landing.
"Rebecca says our train leaves first thing tomorrow morning, so we should all try and get some rest," Joey said, stretching out his legs in front of him. When Yami still didn't say anything, he added, "That means you too, you know."
"All right." Yami stared out across the desert, not even glancing at Joey. Another few seconds of uncomfortable silence passed before Joey spoke again.
"How you doing?"
"As well as I deserve," Yami answered, shoulders drooping even more. After yet another few moments, Yami finally did turn to glance at Joey out of the corner of his eye. "Why are you here?" Joey shrugged.
"Looked like you might need a little company," he said.
"It's my fault that your best friend's soul was abducted by the Seal of Oracalchos," Yami stared at him, "and you want to keep me company?"
"I could punch you again, if you'd feel better about that," Joey offered. Yami blew a soft breath out his nose and turned back to staring at the desert. "C'mon, Yugi would've laughed."
"I'm afraid I make a very poor Yugi," Yami murmured.
"Except for the hair?" Joey made a show of looking Yami over. "Yeah, you do."
"You don't have to stay."
"Listen, Yu…" Joey cut himself off, but not quickly enough, and Yami winced. "Listen. You played that card even though Yugi told you not to, that's true. But that Raphael guy's just as much to blame! I've seen what that Oracalchos card can do to people, you weren't yourself."
"Joey…" Yami started, but Joey refused to be interrupted.
"It isn't right," he spat, "going around giving people a test you know they can't pass!"
Even though he had thought that he couldn't possibly feel any worse, Yami thought about a few of the choicer Yami Games he had played when Yugi had first solved the puzzle, and wanted nothing more than to sink through the steps and be swallowed up by the ground.
"Everybody's got darkness in them, that's human nature."
"Not Yugi." Yami's voice was barely loud enough to be heard over the soft desert wind. "He warned me, but I shoved him away…"
"Well, we can't all be Yugi," Joey snorted. Yami looked at him in surprise, and Joey shrugged. "I mean, come on, that whole cute and innocent routine and then he wipes the floor with you? No wonder he's the King of Games and we're all sidekicks. Though I have to say, it makes me feel a lot better knowing it's been two against one this whole time."
"Why are you doing this?" Yami asked again. Joey looked at him for the space of a few heartbeats before lifting his head to stare out across the desert, kicking at the dust with his sneaker.
"You been with Yugi a long time, right?" he asked. Yami nodded. "Since he finished that puzzle pyramid thing? Man, that was even before Duel Monsters, can you believe it? Feels like a different lifetime or something, I don't know. Anyway, what I'm saying is, you been here just as long as any of us. So I figure, I've been friends with you too."
Yami didn't answer, but one hand came up to press fingertips to the sharp corners of the Millennium Puzzle. It seemed hardly possible how long ago it was that he first saw the light of day after the ages spent locked inside his soul room, the thrill of game adrenaline after five millennia of ennui. He'd gone a bit mad with it, shutting himself off from Yugi's light and wallowing in his own darkness.
Maybe this was all karma.
"I used to pick on him, you know?" Joey laughed, like it wasn't funny at all. "Called him a wimp, pushed him around. Stole one of the pieces of that puzzle too, cause I knew it would drive him crazy. So, s'funny, I sorta met you before he did." There was a brief pause before Joey added, "He doesn't, uh, know that or anything. So maybe you could not pass that along?"
Yami let out one soft 'ha'.
"Yugi changed a lot of things," he said, pressing against the Puzzle harder, until it was nearly cutting into Yugi's skin.
"Ain't that the truth," Joey nodded. "Something about him, you start out teasing him cause he looks so little and he never shuts up about 'the heart of the cards', and the next thing you know you're throwing yourself in front of speeding trains and Seto Kaiba and whatnot for the little twerp. Man, I can't believe that jerk."
"Yugi?" Yami furrowed Yugi's brow.
"No, Kaiba!" Joey kicked the dirt harder, making a small cloud rise. "That bastard probably owns like ten jets, and we have to take the train! You know how long that's gonna take?"
Yami did laugh that time, even though it kind of hurt a little, because trust Joey to keep everything in perspective.
"Anyway, we're gonna get Yugi back," Joey promised, turning to give Yami a fierce look. "So you better pull yourself together, all right? We've never lost to nobody yet, and we aren't gonna start now, trust me, Yu…" Joey stopped himself a syllable too late again, and looked sheepish. "What're we supposed to call you, anyway?"
"I…" Yami let the Puzzle drop from Yugi's hand and shrugged. "I don't know. Yugi usually calls me his other self." As soon as the words hit the air, Yami wished he could take them back, feeling like he needed to hoard the little confidences he shared with Yugi now that there was a finite amount of them.
"We been calling you the other Yugi the whole time!" Joey barked a laugh. "We just didn't know, you know, that you really were another Yugi." He thought for a moment. "Bakura called Yugi 'Pharaoh' the once. I thought he was teasing Yugi about his name, but he meant you, didn't he?"
"Yes." Yami smiled just the tiniest bit, remembering nailing the tomb robber's ass to the wall with Yugi. "You…Pharaoh would be all right, if you wish. To keep things from being confusing."
Joey laughed even harder.
"To keep things from being confusing, he says!" Joey slapped Yami on the shoulder hard enough to nearly push him off the step. "That's the best thing I've heard all day!"
Still chuckling, Joey climbed to his feet and kicked some of the dust off his sneakers against the steps.
"I'm calling it quits," he said. "You should get some rest, too, Pharaoh. Yugi won't appreciate getting back a body that hasn't slept in days. You're supposed to give things back in the same condition after you borrow them, although I think when they teach you that in kindergarten they mean things like books and scissors. Or maybe they said not to run with those."
Yami had no idea what Joey was rambling about, but thought perhaps it was time to make him stop.
"I will try not to run too much with Yugi's body," he said.
"Well good then," Joey didn't seem fazed, "cause it's all fun and games until somebody loses a soul." Joey laughed a little before his brain caught up to his mouth, then said, "I'm not making this any better, am I?"
"I could lie about it," Yami said, "if you'd feel better about that."
"Hey, you just made a joke!" Joey grinned and punched Yami in the shoulder. "Things are looking up already."
Yami managed to twist Yugi's lips into a small smile for Joey, enough to make him go inside, but it faded quickly once he was out of sight.
All fun and games, he thought.
And more with the AN: I started writing this before i watched the original episodes, but then after I'd seen Joey pushing Yugi around and Yami toying with people's lives, it suddenly all became clear why people write yami/joey. So, although this isn't meant to be shippy, it seemed to me that they might understand things about each other that Yugi really doesn't, and about how much they both need Yugi to keep them honest.
and what's with me and the angsty lately?