"I hold the world but as the world,
A stage where every man must play a part,
And mine a sad one."
- Antonio (The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare)
I. He makes himself a sandwich whenever he has to think.
"Yugi," I say, "that's disgusting."
He blinks and looks at me before setting his plate down on the kitchen table and taking a seat. "It's actually not. Tastes pretty good. You just have to remember to close your eyes."
I laugh. "All right, well, I'll keep that in mind. But really, even Joey wouldn't eat that thing. What's in it?" I squint at the monstrosity, and it looks back at me, innocent from where it sits on its plate. "There's lettuce, mayo, pickles, chicken… and I think I see some Miracle Whip in there. Is that a tortilla chip?"
"Funny." Yugi rolls his eyes. "But Tristan, I didn't think we came over here to discuss my sandwich ingredient preferences."
"Right," I remind myself, and reach under the table. I pull my Calculus book out of my bag and open it on the table. It's followed by a few sheets of paper, a pencil, and my calculator. "It was… this problem, right here."
"Hmm." Yugi takes a bite out of the sandwich, sets it back down on the plate, and leans over to get a better look at the equation I'm pointing at. "Okay, where are you getting stuck?"
"Well I've gotten up to here" – I bring out my attempted homework, pointing to the sheet, where I'd drawn a large fat question mark next to the problem in question – "but nothing makes sense after this. I even looked in the back of the book."
"Why would you look there?"
"That's where the answers are."
He looks at me, blinking. I know he isn't disappointed in or judging me; just honestly surprised, as if he's never thought to search for the answers to problems he couldn't figure out. "And the back of the book couldn't help you?"
"Nope. It only has the answers to odd problems. This one's number 56."
"Right," Yugi says, then stares at the sheet for minute, glancing back to the book every so often. "Aaah, okay, I think I see where you're getting confused." He takes my pencil and began explaining.
Turns out, I'd written down the notes wrong. Which is what I get, since I'd copied them from Joey's notebook, as I had been home sick the day we'd covered the lesson in class. Yugi proceeds to tell me where I've made my mistakes, what to do next time, and reminds me to not fully rely on Joey when it comes to school-related issues.
"Okay," I say after half an hour. "I just can't stand it anymore."
Yugi looks up at me, surprised and worried. "What's wrong?"
"That sandwich. It's staring at me."
"You've got to be kidding."
"M'not. See, if you look at it from this direction, it looks like it has eyes, see? And the crust forms a sort of frown, there…"
Yugi took the sandwich and proceeded to finish it off in front of my eyes. "There. Now the only harm it can do is poison my stomach."
"Ah, thank you. But that's what you get, for creating such a monster in the first place."
"I needed to think."
He shrugs. "I make sandwiches when I need to think."
I look at him. "…About math?"
This, he laughs at. "No, not the math. Math is the one subject in school that I'm good at. I think of it like a puzzle to solve." Yugi blinks. "Well, and history. I'm decent at that too, but only because I strive to be. Math just comes easy to me. I'm a logical thinker."
"I suppose that makes sense. You solved the puzzle, and all."
"Took me eight years," he says, "but yes, I did." Yugi frowns suddenly, looking at the textbook, but I know he isn't upset with the math. "Then again, if I'd known what solving it would have meant, I would've worked a lot harder to finish it sooner."
I'm not sure what to say to this. "So, uh… what were you trying to think about, if you don't mind me asking?"
"Oh." He picks up the plate and puts it into the sink. "Just about Atem."
Just about Atem. The way he says it, so casual, as if I should have expected. Then again, I suppose I should have. It's only been a few weeks.
"Yugi… for what it's worth, I'm sorry."
"For what? You haven't done anything."
"I haven't. But you've still had to go through a lot. I'm sorry for that."
Yugi smiles. "I appreciate that. But I'm okay. I'm managing. You know?"
I know. And maybe that's what makes it worse. Knowing what he's been through, but not really knowing. I've been through my own shit, and I know I have to make the most of it as much as I can, but it's hard to be positive, sometimes. Yugi's been through so much. And he accepts it all with a smile. Even this. Even Atem.
"You want some banana pudding?" Yugi asks me from the fridge. "Grandpa made it for me last night, but I don't like the wafers and I don't want to hurt his feelings, so I'm offering. I promise it's not poisoned, no Miracle Whip or tortilla chips."
I close my book and set my stuff aside, getting up to join him at the refrigerator. "Sure. Thanks."
II. He's become an insomniac since the pharaoh left.
I know because I'm up when he is.
And he always passes by the mansion. I don't know why. My estate is a good mile away from his dinky little game shop. But there he is. I'll be in the study, working late at my desk, when I see movement down by the street. And little Yugi Mutou will be there, ambling down the sidewalk. Hands in his pockets, eyes forward, walking at a reasonable pace. Sometimes he sits underneath the tree on the other side of the road. He just sits there, hands behind his head, and thinks.
Other times, he's running. Or jogging, or sprinting. There's no pattern to the days he is or isn't; I suppose it all depends on his mood. And if you ask me, that's the worst thing to base something off of: someone's mood. It's always going to change. It's never going to stay the same forever. It's changeable, shifting. It's not something you can grab onto and have a promise of always.
So basing your decisions off of somebody's mood, somebody's feelings, somebody's heart – it's a waste of a decision. You're much better off with schedules, and constants.
But that's the problem, I suppose. Yugi doesn't have a constant. He doesn't have something that's stayed true for him throughout all of these stupid years we've known each other. Well, except perhaps his grandfather and that ridiculous little shop. But everything's really changed for him. School, friends, his reputation, his height, his attitude, personality – just because of a dumb little puzzle that may or may not have existed back in the times of Ancient Egypt.
Hate that word. May. May not. Maybe. If. Perhaps. Sometimes. Everyone at the office knows I can't stand variables. I need constants. I need reassurance, facts and figures and logic. They're the only things you can really count on.
Maybe that's why he's up so early at night. It's a time that he can control on his own. He's determining what to do next, how to spend this time alone, when nobody else is awake. When it feels like nobody else is there, or even alive, except for you. It's a sense of freedom. It's his own control.
To each his own, I suppose.
But you bet like hell I'm still curious. I don't get it. And maybe that's the difference between us. I'm a man of science. He's a man of faith. It's why we don't see eye-to-eye sometimes, me and Yugi. Me and the pharaoh.
If nothing else, that hasn't changed, either. Yugi's still flexible, willing to sacrifice for his peers and surroundings and friends (now that he has them, that is). He's still willing to bend.
Still, these midnight walks… I'm curious.
So I wait for him, one night. I stand outside the gates and I wait to see him strolling down the road, kicking a stone, watching the dim stars. He's five meters away before I speak, and I know he hasn't noticed me until now because he jumps.
"I'll bite," I say. "Why are you here?"
"I'm… not sure what you mean. I'm just walking."
"I need to have a reason to go on a stroll?" He looks amused, which is starting to piss me off.
"Normally, I wouldn't give a damn. At three in the morning, however, I believe I have a logical excuse to ask."
He shrugs. "I can't sleep."
"So instead of doing something productive at home, you wander out into the streets where muggers and who knows what else are wandering around waiting for you?" I ask him.
"I finished all my homework two hours ago," he says simply. "Did all my chores and everything. It's routine. I always take a walk after I'm done."
Two hours ago? How much sleep is he getting? I stare at him, and if I were anybody other than who I am, I'd be incredulous. "Go get your sleep, Mutou."
"I get enough sleep," he replies. "I sleep whenever I find a spare moment. I get a few hours every night."
"How long've you been doing this?"
We both know what that means. Ever since he left. Well. I could read into that, but I don't particularly feel like it at the moment, so I simply say, "It's no wonder you're so short, then, if you're not getting enough sleep for your body to grow."
He actually laughs at this. "I'm fine. I get enough sleep. I catch up on the weekends. I just like the night."
So it's not about control at all. It's not about having a moment to himself that he can grasp in his hands and take hold of. It's just because he likes being up when nobody else is. He likes it when the sun goes down and the stars begin to show themselves. I can't for the love of me understand why, but he likes it. I suppose this is what keeps him grounded.
"Don't turn this into a Kodak moment," I warn him suddenly. "I can tell. You're about to spew off another of those dumb destiny lines, or you're going to look to the skies and tell me they're just our ancestors looking down at us, the 'kings of the past' looking over us or something."
"I didn't know you ever watched 'The Lion King.'"
"It was Mokuba's favorite movie growing up."
"Okay. Well, if you don't want me to say something about destiny, what are you expecting me to say?"
"You're going to tell me that I'm actually a good person deep down, and then you're going to remind me to keep faith in the heart of the cards, which is important to save my eternal soul, or whatever."
"Well, it is."
Yugi shrugs. "If you say so." He sighs, looks at his watch, then at the sky one more time. "I'll see you around, Kaiba. Have a good night."
He starts to walk off. He's not headed home. He's continuing on, and he'll keep going until something stops him. Even then, he'll work his way past, just as he did with me, and I know he won't turn around until he has no other choice. I know because that's what he's been taught. I know because I learned it from the same person he did. The same person who might even be watching from those dumb stars right now.
III. His greatest pet peeve is when people interrupt him.
He's my grandson, after all. I know this better than anyone.
Sure, he doesn't show it. Not unless you've known him forever. I know that if he's talking and somebody begins to talk over him, he'll gently back out. But his face will turn blank, watching, while he tries to tell himself that it's rightfully the other person's turn to talk. Even if he knows it isn't.
It's because of the little things that I know when to let him speak, and when he needs to speak even before he does. He's too selfless for his own good. He's too busy taking care of others to know when he needs to take care of himself. I know, when I grow too old to take care of the shop and myself, that he'll give up everything for me. It's for this reason that I hope I go suddenly, quickly. I don't want months of waiting around for death to take me. I don't want to draw out everyone's agony. I don't want to take away his future just because I won't have one.
But Yugi hasn't changed, not really. The core is still there. He's still the boy that doesn't like riding bikes for fear of falling, the boy who always drank the rain, the boy who I gave the Puzzle to just after his father died. The pharaoh changed quite things, but he didn't change my grandson. Not fully. Not completely.
When a good person dies, there should be an impact on the world. Somebody should notice. Somebody should be upset.
The pharaoh was as good a man as one could ever hope for. I never had the pleasure of officially meeting him. But Yugi knew him better than anyone else, better than he himself knew, and maybe that should be enough. The pharaoh was a lonely soul. I can only imagine. Trapped in a puzzle for three thousand years, I'd imagine he'd need someone there. Yugi was. Yugi was enough. Yugi's always more than enough. But we all want to take more, more of him, because it's just who he is. You look at him and his personality just attracts you. It draws you. There's just something about him.
But I know he has faults. I know he's always had faults. Ever since the pharaoh, they've just… changed. Gradually. Maybe they'll change him completely, one day. I just hope I'm gone a long time before then.
So I know he hates it when people interrupt him. I know he hates it when he's treated unfairly by a teacher. I know he hides it all because sometimes, he can convince himself that it was his fault. But the pharaoh did quite a number on him. I have yet to figure out the percentage, how much of Yugi is still Yugi and how much is what's left of the pharaoh. Sometimes they shift. Sometimes it's an even fifty-fifty, sometimes it's sixty-forty, and sometimes it's even eighty-twenty. Occasionally it gets hard to tell where he ends and the pharaoh begins. But I'm learning to figure it out. Just like he is. And I imagine he'll be figuring it out for a long time; but it's the last mystery of the pharaoh that we have, and it's not what we'd like, but it's enough to cling to for now.
IV. He doesn't ask questions to things he doesn't need answers to.
I end up finding out at Joey's and my wedding. The whispers between the champagne glasses, behind white, decorated pillars. Something about the pharaoh and the word "gone."
I know what this means. It means dead. Gone. Kicked the bucket. Met his maker. Deceased. Dead. Gone.
Don't ask me why they're coving this meaning up behind polite words, phrases that are somehow supposed to soften the blow of reality.
"Yugi," I say, smiling, and he grins back.
"Mai. It's great to see you again." He means it, I can tell. He always does. But I know he wants to put more with these words. How are you? What have you been up to since the Orichalcos? Are you taking care of yourself? Please, tell me you're doing fine. I need the reassurance that something's going right.
But he doesn't ask how I am. He already knows. I haven't been taking care of myself, and I've been acting like shit – but I feel great. I feel… better. Free. I can breathe again. I'm relieved to figure out that the ring wrapped around my finger isn't binding me at all. It's just reminding me that I belong somewhere. Which is all I've ever wanted, really.
He doesn't need to hear that. So he doesn't ask.
"I'm really glad you came."
"Hey," he says, "what are we for?"
Thing is, I'm not sure. The notion of friends is still weird to me. I've been alone all my life. Joey was the first one to ever try and fix that. He's been the only one to offer. And I'd been scared of that, for a while. If I dug down deep enough I could probably figure out a decent reason why, but I've never been good at that whole self-therapy, evaluation thing. What you get is what you get. I'm never going to try to change that.
And Yugi just seems to accept that. He accepts everything and everyone for who and what they are. He doesn't ask questions. He just is. And that's all he expects anybody else to be, too.
"Mai," Joey's voice says after Yugi's left. I turn to find him handing me another glass of champagne. I take it gratefully. "You all right?"
"Fine." And I mean it, this time, surprisingly.
"Okay." He glanced over his shoulder. "Uh, I should warn you that my mother's been on my back ever since we got engaged, and she's probably going to storm her way over here and demand to be introduced in a few minutes, so here's a heads-up."
Great. "Right, thanks." I swallow half of the glass and let it burn down my throat. "Hey, tell me something."
"How are you all doing?"
He blinks. "We're… okay. I take it you heard, about…"
"More or less." I have a general picture, the outline of a puzzle, but I don't want the middle filled in. I don't want to, or need to, know. "I imagine it's been hard."
"Well," he says, in a voice that's trying to be thoughtful but I can tell he's tired of thinking about this. "I mean, we're managing. Coping. We're just moving forward, you know? There's really no other direction to move in, until it stops hurting. Then we just find something else to hurt us worse, I guess."
He's right, of course. He always is.
"That's very profound."
"I have my moments."
"Well," I say, finishing the glass, "hang onto this one, because Lord knows when I'll see the next. Think you can be serious for the next five minutes while we have our first dance?"
He grins. "I think I can manage."
We dance to a song I heard on the radio once, something he'd said his mother always sang to him when he was young. This song means nothing to me, but I know it's special to him, so I suck it up and enjoy it. The feel of his warm fingertips on my back, separated by the fabric of a white dress, are comforting. His forehead presses itself to mine, our blonde hair shifting together. There is something gentle about it, something I haven't felt before with anybody else. I've never let anyone else have this chance.
"If you screw this up, Wheeler…" I mutter under my breath.
I didn't expect him to hear me, but he does, and he isn't mad. Instead, he lets out a low laugh. "I won't. I promise." And presses a kiss to my temple.
It's all a little too cheesy for me, but it fits. It's bittersweet. We've both been through, seen, done too much. I know I have nothing to complain about compared to what Joey and everyone else has done. I don't know what it was, but I know it was important. I know it was big enough to take the pharaoh away from this world.
I wonder about Yugi, how he's doing. I know he and that spirit of his had been close. But he doesn't seem all that upset. Just understanding. Which is in his nature – and it's good to know he won't ever disappoint. If nothing else, Yugi's something to count on, when the only other person you expect to never leave leaves.
Yugi, who never wants for more than he needs. Yugi, who never asks questions to things he doesn't want the answers to. I wonder how much of him has changed because of the pharaoh. I wonder how much hasn't.
He's different, though; I think everyone can sense that. But it isn't something we can see; it isn't in his confidence, or the way he holds himself. It's in his spirit. It's something untouchable. I don't know what it is. And I'm not sure I want to. But I hope he keeps onto it, and keeps searching for whatever might fill that gap. And I know, bitterly, he'll be searching for a long, long time.
V. He believes in second chances. But two-hundred and fourty-three chances is his limit.
I can tell he's upset when he doesn't roll his eyes in that half-exasperated, half-amused sort of way. That's the routine. And when he doesn't stick to it is when I know I'm in trouble.
"Okay," I say, "never mind. I'll, uh, just… get it from Tristan, or something."
"No," he says, sighing. "I'll cover you. Come on."
"Yugi, no. I'm sorry. Really, I've been mooching off of you for beer money every week since we graduated. It's okay. You don't have to anymore. It's just…"
"'It's just'?" He provokes. And his tone proves it. He really is angry. At me. Shit.
Because really, getting Yugi Mutou angry is big news. That's like… that's like getting Ghandi to beat his kids. Or something.
"…I'm sorry." And I really mean it this time. Not just because I've been mooching off him for a while – his money, his fame, his cards, anything at all. Whatever he got he has always willingly shared with me. Even after I'd stopped asking, because I've just known he would offer. Therein lay both his flaws and mine, I suppose. He gives too much of what he can't afford to lose because he knows I'd be even a little bit happier with it; and I take from him what I knew I could live without for the exact same reason.
"It's okay," he tells me, but I'm really not sure he understands.
"Yugi… it's not." I shake my head. "I'll make it up to you."
"You don't have to – "
"Too bad. I'm going to." I look at him, really look at him. "You remember that day when I took the piece to your puzzle?"
He blinked. "Back in high school?"
"Yeah, way back then. I threw it into the pool."
"…Yes. I remember." Yugi shifts uncomfortably and huffs out a ghost of a laugh. "It's not exactly something I like thinking back on, but – "
"Well, I'm sorry for that too."
Yugi looks back at me. "It's okay," he says, and the way he says it makes things final. I know I'd been forgiven for that, and a lot of other things – a lot of other, worse things – a long, long time ago. But I've never said I was sorry. I've never thought I had to. But it's still a nice gesture. Maybe he's been waiting for it, even if he hasn't known it.
I'm glad he stopped me there, though. If I had continued, I'm afraid it would have turned into one of those horrible bonding scenes where I end up crying on his sofa confessing my regret for every sin I've ever committed while he handed me a new Kleenex every five minutes for two hours.
I love Yugi, but really. Not gonna happen. Not even Serenity or Mai's ever gonna see me that low.
He had shifted his gaze to the sunset beyond the horizon, but at my voice, he looks back at me. "Yes?"
I hadn't thought about what else to say. It's been years, and we should all be over this. And, well, we are – but the pain's still there. It's always going to be there. Losing a friend, or the other half of your soul, is always going to leave a hole. I can't fill it, Téa can't fill it, Tristan, Grandpa, or anybody else he'll meet. They'd fit each other so well. Nobody else would match his individual puzzle piece than the one that it had been designed for. Made for. Destined for. Whatever you'd like to call it.
But I've had enough of destiny, and I know Yugi has, too. This is what the aftermath feels like, I guess. It feels like shit. Even if we've moved on. It still… sucks.
"…I just – I was wondering." And I have, actually. I've been wondering about this a lot. "I just… I can't understand how you can be so accepting of this." I try to smile. "I mean, if I were you, I'd be pissed. The universe practically gave you the one person who will ever understand you, your best friend, whatever you want to call him – and you're totally okay with them taking him away from you? That can't be right. You have to be upset."
Yugi stared at me. "I am upset."
"Not with him leaving," I emphasized. "Of course, everybody's upset that he left. That's the fact of him leaving. But aren't you upset at God? Or Fate? Or whatever took him away?"
"Not really." He had this answer prepared, as if he's expected someone might ask him this one day. For all I knew, perhaps he has. "I'm just upset. I can't just be mad at someone because I lost something. It's selfish of me just to wish for more of him. I should just be grateful for the time I had. But it's human nature to want more. You know?"
I know. I know all too well.
"This was just… what was supposed to happen." He shrugs. "It's the way things are supposed to happen, otherwise they wouldn't be happening the way they are. We've all got roles to play. Mine just happens to be a sad one."
He turns back into the house at this point, and for a moment I think he's going to close the door on me, but he returns with his coat and keys.
"Come on," he says, locking the door behind him as he starts down the steps and over to his car.
"Where are we going?"
"For a drink. Don't worry, I'll pay."
I follow him, slowly, still thinking about it all. "…I don't get it."
And Yugi, being Yugi, knows that I'm not talking about the drinks. "I hold the world but as the world, Joey," he says. "It's just a stage. We do what we're supposed to, make the most of the script we're given. That's all anyone can do." He opens the car door on the passenger's side for me and climbs into the driver's seat, handling everything with the simplicity and grace he always has for everything in his life, and I follow his lead.
VI. He used to say that he was just fine.
I say 'used to' because he stopped. Eventually, people started buying it. Oh sure, we knew he was still hurting – but it was like a dull ache in your bone whenever you strain it, or lean on it the wrong way. And that's what one careless word could do – it could bring up those memories of Atem, and even if we've moved on – and we have, because… well, just because, right? – well, it's not like you ever get over a death. I doubt we'll ever really be truly okay with him being gone.
In the beginning, Yugi just took it all in stride. He'd wave off our worries, and even if we all knew it was complete bull, he kept telling us the same thing, "I'm fine, you guys. Really." I'm curious how many times he's been able to convince himself of that.
And I've absolutely given up on his love life. He seems to have practically no interest in settling down or getting married or finding any sort of romantic partner whatsoever. I'm sure he's keeping his options open, and he wouldn't be opposed to falling in love if it came knocking, but he knows, as do I, that his ship sailed a while back. But that was back when we were still in love with each other. Hard to believe that was as long ago as it was – high school. The words sound so distant, but they still mean something, because after all, that was where it all happened.
Yugi and I had gone to the prom together. And it had been wonderful for about… oh, I suppose a year or so after. We ended up breaking. No hard feelings. We just kind of fell out of love.
I'm totally fine with that, though. I think this, the way things are, is better than they could ever be. Maybe it's meant to be this way. Maybe the reason you have to stop loving a person is because Fate chose both of you to be friends, where forever is a lot more possible.
While I'm still looking, and I know I'll find someone someday, I know he won't. It'd be pretty damn hard for him to be completely happy. But he tries. And that's all we ever ask of him. He never disappoints.
He visits me after one of my shows – I have, by some miracle, managed to snag a role as an ensemble dancer and singer (after many a lesson) in the Broadway musical Wicked and am only able to go back to Domino every few months. He shows up, and we agree to take a stroll outside, on the New York City streets.
"I hate New York," he tells me simply, and I laughed.
"I get why you would. It's overwhelming."
"And dirty. And filled with really… really mean people." He crinkles his nose. "Not you, of course, and none of your friends because I trust your judgment in acquaintances, but hopefully you know what I mean."
"Yeah, I got it," I say, amused. "So what are you doing here?"
"Business meeting. Kaiba sent me with Mokuba so we could figure out a solution to some dispute people are having up here about the new cards that're going to be released next year."
"Good luck," I say. "Dealing with Pegasus in the boardroom, I can only imagine."
"Oh, no, Pegasus isn't here. He can't be bothered with trivial matters such as these."
"Of course he can't."
"Holy crap, are you – Yugi Mutou?"
"Ah – yeah, hello," he says as a group of three teenage boys run up to him with papers to sign and decks to inspect and hands to shake. I watch him interact with these kids, suddenly reminded of that one time, back in Kaiba's Grand Championship just before senior year. He'd seemed so small then, not used to the attention, scared he might mess up with Yami not there to take control.
But he's learned to do it on his own, now. I suppose that's what we've wanted for him all along. His courage to mark and make his own course, even if we don't know where it leads. He's been encouraging us to find our own for far too long not to deserve his own happiness.
Dealing with people comes naturally to him. Yugi always knows what to say to calm a situation down. He never loses his temper or grows upset enough to cry in a public place. Except for once. Just once.
"Sure thing," he says now to their thanks as the kids run off.
"You sure know what you're doing," I tell him.
"Not really. I don't think anybody does. But that's a celebrity secret, so don't spread it around."
I do laugh at this. It's good, to see him again, laugh at his sweet humor. I've missed him.
"Tell me everyone's okay back home."
"They're great. Joey has decided he wants kids."
"You've got to be kidding."
"I wish I was. But I know Mai'll set him straight. In the case that she doesn't…" He sighs, looking up at the night sky. The skyscrapers grow tall around us, surrounding the people and taxi cabs down below. Lights are flickering everywhere, inviting, inspiring; and the night air is cool against our skin. "I really hope they have a girl. Just to see his reaction."
I snort at the same time he lets out a yawn.
"Are you getting enough sleep?"
"It's jet lag," he waves off, but I roll my eyes, and he sighs. "You're not buying it?"
"I'll hail you a taxi. Get back to your hotel and have a good night's sleep."
When I've finally caught him a taxi five minutes later and he's ready to climb in, he turns and looks at me one final time, grinning. "Well, it's good to see you. You look like you're doing great."
"I am." I smiled back. "I'm glad you're doing well, too. Any chance you'll have time off your busy schedule to grab a cup of coffee before you fly back to Domino?"
"Maybe the day after tomorrow, but it'll have to be quick, because my flight leaves at ten in the morning."
I sigh, looking at him. "Too busy for your friends… oh, you've changed so much," I tell him teasingly.
"Well, I'm evolving, Téa," he jokes back, and settles into the taxi seat, smiling. "I'll call you."
"Okay. Don't be a stranger."
"Never," he says, and then the door closes. The taxi's off within seconds, speeding through the busy streets of New York, the city that never sleeps, and never stays the same for more than a moment. It's moving. Changing. Even though Yugi hasn't, not really. But as the world turns and shifts, it's good to know that in a universe that's always moving forward, to new things and new inventions and new whatevers – it's good to know that one thing will always stay the same.
I watch the backlights of his taxi until they blend in with all the others, the dozens of other cars going dozens of other different places that will take their passengers to dozens of opportunities. Everybody's going somewhere different. And we're all growing up, some with more ease and strength than others. It all depends on our constants, I guess.
He used to say that he was just fine. He doesn't bother anymore. But I still wonder.