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Opals and Roses

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One moment Johan was standing in the desert world, alone save for Yubel, the next thing he knew he was plunged into an inescapable darkness. 

What had happened? What had Yubel done? He couldn’t remember, everything was just a hazy blur, and when he tried to remember it felt like his head was full of tv static. 

And it was dark, so very, very dark. Not entirely pitch black as he could make out the faintest of shapes around him, but enough that he couldn’t tell where he was.

‘My body, it feels so heavy, why...why can’t I move?'

He slumped against the wall before the darkness closed in around him again and he sunk into a dreamless sleep once again.

 

A voice, faint and distant, sounded out from the dark. Someone was calling out to him.

‘Is that, Judai?

No, it wasn’t a voice, it was many voices, all calling his name.

“Johan!”

“Johan!”

“Beeeeeee!”

Slowly he opened his eyes and was greeted by a soft, faint light in the darkness, a light that hadn’t been there before. With great difficulty he looked around and found his gaze drawn to a large pillar of crystal that seemed to glow blue in the darkness. As he stared, an image began to form in the center of the crystal and he blinked a few times to clear his vision. 

“Isn’t that…” A spark of excitement lit in his heart and his eyes widened, it was them! It was Judai, and the Gem Beasts, but where were they? It didn’t look like Duel Academy, or the desert world, in fact it didn’t really look like anywhere.

“Judai!”

With a burst of surprising energy he jumped to his feet, staggering slightly and stumbling, his body stiff and tired. 

“I’m here!” he called out once he got his balance. “Judai!” He wasn’t even sure if Judai could hear him, but it was worth a shot, he didn’t have much of a choice.

If only he knew where he was.

Then, the light vanished. It faded out as Johan watched as the Gem Beasts faded from around Judai one by one before Judai himself vanished and Johan was plunged back into inescapable darkness. 

“No! Judai!”

He dropped to his knees, feeling drained and exhausted. 

But now he had hope, something to keep him from being swallowed up again. Judai was there, trying to save him, and if anyone could do it Judai could, and for a moment it seemed as if Judai had heard him, had realized where he was. All he could do now was pray and hope and wait, even if he’d had the strength to go anywhere he couldn’t. Even though it had been brief, the light from the crystal had been bright enough for him to get a decent look at his surroundings, and the crystal he was standing on seemed to be floating in some kind of void. If he jumped or fell off there was no telling what would happen.

“Judai, please.”

As if on cue, everything around him began to shake and a glow formed within in the depths of the crystals. 

‘What’s going on?’ he wondered as he stood up, the light growing brighter and brighter till it drowned out the darkness around him.

“Judai!”

A rush of deafening wind swirled around him and suddenly he felt like he was falling. 

 

“Johan!”

Judai’s voice called out over the wind, louder and closer than it had been before and Johan groaned as he sprawled out across the ground, aching and tired. He felt like he’d run a marathon AND climbed a mountain right after it. He was sure that he was going to be fairly bruised and if nothing was broken he would be surprised.

And cold, he felt so cold, shivering as a gust of wind blew over his bare arms.

“Come forth, Rainbow Neos!”

Rainbow Neos? Johan had never heard of that monster before. With a groan he lifted his head opened his eyes, blinking a few times to clear his vision. 

Across the field from him stood Judai, looking far more roughed up and tired than the last time Johan had seen him and standing with a monster that he assumed had to be Rainbow Neos. 

“Judai!” His heart leapt with excitement as he struggled to pull himself to his feet, arms and legs shaking. “You...saved me.” 

He panted and heaved as he pulled himself to his knees, what on earth had his body been doing while he was out of it? Above him he heard a cool, female voice taunting Judai. That had to be Yubel.

The next thing he knew, Judai was charging across the field and practically tackling him, just before something to his left exploded and sent the pair flying even further backwards. 

Johan winced as they hit the ground and for a moment couldn’t hear anything, his ears ringing from the sound of the blast. 

“Johan, I’m sorry,” said Judai as he wrapped his arms around him and helped him up. 

“What are you apologizing for?” asked Johan as he looked up at Judai. “You saved me?”

Up close Judai looked like hell. There was a small wound under one eye and he was panting almost as hard as Johan was, his forehead was beaded with sweat and Johan wondered when the last time he’d slept was.

“I got us into this whole mess,” said Judai, expression twisting into a frown as he looked up at Yubel. He then looked towards someone else and for the first time Johan noticed Chronos-sensei and Marufuji Shou, running towards them. “Take care of him,” said Judai in an almost, commanding tone that Johan had never heard before.

“But what are you going to do?” asked the teacher, sounding quite distressed. 

Judai sighed and shared a look with Johan. There was only one thing he could do, fight Yubel and stop them from doing, whatever they were doing, to save the rest of them. To save the world really.

Johan nodded knowingly, Judai could do this, if anyone could then he could. 

Do it Judai, I believe in you ,’ was what the silent nod said and Judai seemed to understand it too, nodding back before passing him off to Chronos and standing up to face Yubel.

Johan exhaled heavily, he really just wanted to collapse into someone’s arms and nap. Judai’s were preferable of course but he had slightly more important things to take care of. 

With some help he turned around just in time to see the sky above them darken as Yubel flew up, vanishing into the thick, black clouds. 

Yubel had said something about an ‘interference free field’, so that meant they probably weren’t going to be able to watch what happened next. He sure wasn’t, he couldn’t even find the strength to stand, let alone walk to go anywhere. Johan frowned, while he knew they had to duel to finish this once and for all, Judai going where no one could follow was concerning. 

“Judai, wait a moment. Don’t tell me you’re really going to…” he trailed off, the rest of the words unsaid but understood as his gaze momentarily flicked towards the sky. 

Judai gave a sad smile, “Yeah, sorry, but even you can’t stop me this time.”

Johan sighed, there was no changing his mind now. “Fine.” Reaching into his deck box he pulled out his deck and held it out to Judai. “I’d come and fight with you, but with the condition I’m in it’s not possible. At least take my deck.” After all he would need Rainbow Dragon if he ever wanted to summon Rainbow Neos again. And even if he didn’t, the backup from the Gem Beasts sure couldn’t hurt. If he couldn’t be by his side then he’d at least be there in spirit. 

After a moment of hesitation, Judai reached out and took the deck with a nod. “Alright.”

Johan leaned back against Chronos’ hands as he watched Judai start towards where Yubel had been, Chronos fretting nervously about the situation as if that would somehow convince Judai to stop. 

Judai stopped and held one hand in a thumbs up as the same orange glow that had surrounded Yubel now surrounded him. “Gotcha.” Then, wrapped in the orange glow, he too was taken into the dark clouds above and Johan could only watch helplessly from the ground. 

Judai, please come back safely.

Chapter Text

Judai sighed as he sprawled out on his bed, staring up at the ceiling of the quiet, empty dorm room. 

“Hey, Yubel.”

“Hmm? What is it beloved?” asked Yubel, materializing beside him. 

“Are we like, married?”

The spirit gave him a blank stare before a slight blush painted their cheeks. “What on earth brought that up?” they asked. 

He shrugged, “I was just thinking about things.”

“Does this have something to do with your friends teasing you earlier about not knowing what a fiancé is?” asked Yubel. 

Judai buried his face in his hands with a groan. One of their teachers had recently announced an engagement and Judai’s friends had decided it would be the perfect time to tease him about that stupid joke he’d made back in his first year. He still couldn’t believe that none of them realized he was joking. Of course he knew what a fiancé was, he wasn’t that dense. He’d even been to at least one wedding in his lifetime-a family friend’s-though it had been quite a long time ago and he didn’t remember much.

“Maybe a bit,” he said as he let his hand fall aside. 

Yubel nodded, “I see. So, what made you wonder about us?” they asked. 

“Well, I mean,” he ran a hand through his hair with another sigh. “I literally fused my soul with yours for one thing. That’s like, a forever commitment right there. And the-the promising to love you forever and be yours forever. It kinda sounds like wedding vows doesn’t it?”

“I...suppose it sort of does,” said Yubel.

“Exactly,” said Judai with a nod. “So, does that mean that we’re, like, married now?”

Yubel blushed again, though Judai wasn’t quite sure if they’d ever actually stopped blushing from the first time. 

Yubel didn’t often get flustered, especially not like that, so Judai couldn’t help but to smile slightly at the sight, trying to hold back a laugh. It was almost cute.

“I mean, do you, want it to mean that?” asked Yubel after a moment, wings twitching anxiously. “Because if that’s what you want it to mean then, it could. Although, if I am understanding some of the wedding customs of this world, are the bride and groom not supposed to kiss at the end?” asked Yubel. 

Now it was Judai’s turn to go as red as his jacket, a furious blush cascading over his cheeks and up towards his ears. 

“What’s this dearest, blushing?” teased Yubel, a playful smirk dancing on their lips as they looked down at him. “I never thought you to be the shy type.”

“I’m not,” he sputtered. “I just, I’ve never kissed anyone before.”

Yubel tapped their chin thoughtfully. “You know, I seem to recall you kissing me on more than one occasion in our past lives.”

“That doesn’t mean I know anything about it now,” he said.

“But I do.”

After a moment of awkward silence, and Judai hiding his face behind his hands, he sat up abruptly, Yubel flitting backwards so as to avoid having him pass through them, a sensation which was wholly awkward for them. 

“Alright then, show me,” he said. 

Yubel settled in front of him, wings folded to their back and knees tucked up under them. “I’m afraid it won’t be that enjoyable since you won’t even be able to touch me,” said Yubel. “Not in this dimension anyways.”

“Aw Yubel, do you have that little faith in me?” asked Judai, reaching out for Yubel’s hand. 

He’d only used the ability once before, on accident, but Judai had discovered that he could make duel spirits solid for a short time. Of course when he discovered this ability it had only been Winged Kuriboh he’d made solid, a spirit considerably smaller than Yubel and not nearly as powerful. But he was pretty certain that he could make Yubel solid for even a couple of minutes. 

His fingers hovered over Yubel’s hand before he placed it on top of theirs, as if taking hold of it. Then he felt something rough and scaly bump his hand and looked down to see colour flooding Yubel’s form, spreading out from where their hands made contact. Even Yubel looked startled, looking down before taking Judai’s hand in theirs and lacing their fingers together gently. 

The bed creaked and sagged slightly as Yubel’s spectral form became solid and took on weight. 

“You really shouldn’t doubt me so much,” he said. 

“I suppose I shouldn’t,” said Yubel with a tender smile. “Well, since you asked so nicely, I suppose I can comply.” Lifting their other, much more human hand, they brushed it along Judai’s cheek gently before cupping his face and tilting his head up to face them.

A shiver of excitement and nervousness rolled down Judai’s spine as his gaze met Yubel’s. Nervous, why on earth was he nervous? It didn’t make any sense. It wasn’t like this was a stranger, or that they were doing something worth being nervous over. It was just a kiss. Even if he didn’t have any experience he’d seen plenty of moves with kissing to have some idea of what to do. So why was he so nervous to kiss Yubel? 

His erratic train of thought was cut off as Yubel closed the remaining distance between them, their lips warm and surprisingly soft against his. For a being as tall and fearsome looking as Yubel was, they were also surprisingly gentle when they needed to be. 

They held him close, pulling Judai gently into their arms as he relaxed, his earlier nervousness slipping away.

He was once again thankful for the privacy of his dorm room and the fact that most everyone else in the red dorm had actually managed to move up to Ra Yellow, he wasn’t sure how he would explain this to anyone if they walked in on him.

Yubel’s lips broke from his and Judai found himself staring up at them, cheeks flushed a healthy red and too tongue tied to say anything. 

“I see you relaxed fast,” purred Yubel. 

“Well it’s easy to relax around you,” he said. 

“Hmm. You know, you never did answer my earlier question, about if you wanted what happened to mean we were, married.”

“I asked that question first,” he said, giving Yubel a light jab. “And you answered with a question, how’s that fair?”

Yubel simply laughed. “I had simply not thought about it before, so your question caught me off guard. I suppose if you want it to mean that, then it does.”

“I guess that’s what it means then.”

Chapter Text

Johan was pretty sure that the only reason that Judai was inviting him along on his other dimensional trips-aside from the obvious fact that he liked him-was to try and get him and Yubel to get along. 

They’d since moved past being hostile to one another, a process that had taken a while, even with Judai explaining what had happened and why Yubel had been the way they were. After all Johan couldn’t just forget everything Yubel had done to him, the Gem Beasts and the rest of their friends, nor could he just forgive it. To their credit Yubel did offer an apology and did seem to be making some kind of attempt to play nice with him. 

But sometimes it was hard. Yubel had decided, on their own apparently, that Johan was some kind of love rival-despite Judai insisting he could in fact love both of them and no Johan was not going to steal him away-so he was more than used to being watched like a hawk. Though after he managed to make the duel spirit somewhat flustered Yubel had cut down on that. Or at least had gotten sneakier about it. Of course, he would take being watched over being hissed at and the screaming matches any day. 

 

“I hope Judai comes back soon,” said Johan, peering out the cabin window. “I don’t like the look of those clouds.” The sky, which had been clear and sunny earlier was now darkened by thick black storm clouds and Johan was sure he’d heard a distant rumbling sound. 

Judai had slipped off at some point when they weren’t looking, and according to the note he’d hung around Winged Kuriboh, he’d gone into the nearby town to do some shopping.

“I don’t think a little rain will bother him. He’s been out in worse,” said Yubel. 

“Yeah but my foot just healed, we really don’t need him getting sick and delaying this trip anymore.”

Yubel stared at him before sighing. “You are right about that. I’m sure he will be fine. He knows how to find shelter if it starts raining.”

 

Sure enough it did start raining, a light drizzle at first that soon turned into a full on downpour, complete with flashes of lightning and cracks of thunder, and still no sign of Judai. 

‘I sure hope he’s not caught out there,’ thought Johan, peering out at the storm from a window. 

The wind outside howled and Johan jumped at the sound of something, a tree branch most likely, hitting the roof of the cabin. 

When he turned away from the window he was met with a surprising sight. Yubel, seated on the floor, had their knees drawn close to their chest and their hands pressed tightly over their ears, and most surprisingly, all three of their eyes clenched tightly shut.

Johan had never quite figured out what the deal was with the third eye, just that it never seemed to close, like ever, even when Yubel was asleep. So to see it closed like that was highly unusual to say the least.

“Yubel?”

There was a flash of light followed by a deafening crack of thunder that sounded like a rock being shattered and Yubel visibly flinched, curling in on themselves. 

Yubel was afraid. Honestly, Johan hadn’t thought Yubel was afraid of anything, but especially not a thunderstorm. 

“You know it can’t hurt you right?” he asked, almost teasingly.

“Shut up,” hissed Yubel through clenched teeth. 

“Are you actually scared of a little storm?”

“It’s not...be quiet, you wouldn’t understand.” 

Johan frowned, Yubel’s voice wasn’t filled the usual venom it had when they snapped at him, in fact there was a noticeable tremble to it and Yubel themselves seemed to be shaking like a leaf. He’d seen people scared of thunderstorms before and this wasn’t that. This was something different, something more like...his stomach twisted, it was like Judai when he woke up from his nightmares, screaming, scared and sometimes even crying. 

Tentatively he moved towards Yubel, moving slowly till he reached their side before kneeling down beside them. 

“Yubel? Are you alright?”

“Go away.”

“That’s not an answer.”

“I don’t want to answer you, nor do I have to.”

He sighed, “I just want to help you.”

“Maybe I don’t want your help!”

“Well, Judai isn’t here to help you, so you’re just going to have to deal with me,” said Johan with a groan. “Can you tell me anything? I’ve never seen you react like this to thunderstorms before.”

Yubel was quiet for a moment, wings twitching slightly. “That’s because back in your dimension I can just...hide in Judai until it passes. I don’t have to hear or see anything. I can’t do that here.” They relaxed a little bit, just in time for a crash of thunder to rattle the entire cabin and Yubel made a noise like a squeak and quickly curled back in on themselves. “Did, Judai tell you about the Light and what happened with me?” asked Yubel in a quiet, shaky voice after a moment. 

“Only what he knew,” replied Johan. And even though it wasn't a lot, it was more then enough to make it clear that it had been a harrowing experience for Yubel.

“I see.”

“Is that what this is about?” 

Yubel nodded. “The light, the noise it...it reminds me of that time and everything that happened to me. It hurt so much, and was so bright...I don’t want to remember it.”

Oh...OH so that’s what this was, no wonder they were so scared and on the verge of a panic attack, and why their voice sounded breathy, as if they were on the verge of hyperventilating. Johan suddenly felt really bad for the earlier teasing. Reaching out he placed a reassuring hand against their back and Yubel lifted their head slightly to look at him. 

Johan glanced around, “Do we have any small blankets? I’m afraid I can’t do anything about the noise, but I can cover the windows to block out the lightning.”

“In the bedrooms I think,” said Yubel. “If not then towels should work.”

Johan nodded, “Got it.”

With an almost affectionate squeeze of Yubel’s shoulder he stood up and went off in search of something to hang over the windows. He wasn’t even sure if it would help but it certainly couldn’t hurt to try. The curtains on the windows were sheer, useful for keeping people from looking in but not all that useful for blocking light out.

He grabbed a few towels from a drawer before heading back to the where he’d left Yubel, and began hanging the towels over the curtain rods so that they covered the windows. It wasn’t a perfect solution by any means, they only just covered the windows and the lightning flashes could still faintly be seen through the cracks at the sides but it was better than nothing. 

“Is that any better?” he asked, turning back to Yubel.

“We’ll see.”

He sat down beside Yubel again, placing a comforting hand on their shoulder, careful to avoid the spikes that grew there. 

Slowly, they began to uncurl themselves, lowering their knees and hands, relaxing their wings and opening their eyes. Yubel was still trembling, Johan could feel the minute quivers under his hand, and every time the thunder ripped through the air they flinched, moving to cover their ears again.

“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure the thunder doesn’t hurt you,” said Johan and Yubel actually laughed.

“You, protect me? That would be something to see.”

“Hey, I’m not entirely helpless. I can defend myself if I have to.”

A tiny smirk tugged at Yubel’s lips and they extended a wing, draping it over Johan’s shoulders. He stuttered in surprise, Yubel never did this sort of thing, at least not for him. Judai sure, all the time in fact, but never for him. The only time Yubel had done anything close to this, they had been shielding both him and Judai from a particularly strong wind. 

“Don’t look to deep into it,” said Yubel, looking away quickly. “I just don’t want you to go anywhere since you’ve said you’re going to protect me.”

Johan flushed, his turn to be the one that was flustered. “I suppose I did, didn’t I?”

He supposed this gesture was a good sign and an upgrade in their relationship, though to what he wasn’t sure.

 

Judai returned after the storm ended, having indeed been waylaid by the storm and by villagers who would not let him go out in the rain and insisted that he stay till it stopped.

Chapter Text

Waves of crystal clear water crashed along the shore line, cascading across the snow white sand before rolling back out into the ocean and starting all over again. 

Judai stretched his arms over his head, a towel slung over one shoulder and a bag in one hand. 

“What perfect weather for the beach, right guys?” he asked, looking over his shoulder at Johan and Yubel, the pair carrying the rest of their belongings. 

“It is a lovely day out,” said Yubel, stretching their wings. “And it looks like we’ll have the beach to ourselves.”

“So how come we had to come to another dimension just to go to the beach?” asked Johan. 

"Cause we can go to the ones back home anytime,” said Judai. “Plus here Yubel can enjoy the beach as well.” He looked over his shoulder to Yubel and grinned, “Even if all you’re going to do is sleep.”

“I-I do not,” sputtered Yubel, cheeks flushing. 

Judai laughed as he set his bag and towel down. “Yes you do. You love napping at the beach.”

“The sand and rocks are warm, it’s comfortable,” they said, folding their arms over their chest. 

“Well, feel free to join us in the water any time,” said Judai, quickly stripping off his shirt and pants till he was in nothing more than his swimming trunks. 

 

The next several hours were spent exploring the surf and tide pools-the flora and fauna in this dimension much different than anything Johan had ever seen-diving among the rocks and swimming in the sea.

“You’re right, this was a good idea,” said Johan as he grabbed a towel from where they were piled and began drying himself off. 

“Of course it is,” said Judai. 

“So, I take it Yubel doesn’t swim?” asked Johan, looking over to where the duel spirit was, sprawled out on a large section of rock and presumably asleep given that they hadn't moved from their position for quite some time.

“Naw not really. I can get Yubel in the water but after a certain depth that’s it. Wading sure but not so much on the swimming thing. I suppose the wings make swimming a bit difficult. Funny though, cause according to Yubel the place we lived in our previous life was by the ocean.” 

Slipping back into his sandals he grabbed Johan by the hand and started leading him across the beach to where Yubel was. 

The spirit was sprawled out on their stomach, arms folded under their head and wings spread out to either side. Like usual, only two of their three eyes were closed-the center eye almost never closed unless Yubel was absolutely sure they were safe and that there was no need to be on high alert. 

“Yubel certainly looks comfortable,” said Judai. “I was going to ask if Yubel was ready to eat but it seems a shame to wake them up.”

Yubel exhaled heavily and shifted about sleepily, rolling slightly onto their side and lifting a wing up, as if inviting them to join them. 

“Why don’t we follow Yubel’s lead and take a nap?” suggested Judai. “We have all day.”

“Are you sure?”

“Come on, there’s plenty of room. I know Yubel won’t mind.”

It was true, there was plenty of space on the rock so it wasn’t likely that Yubel would mind too much if they lay on the rock as well. And as much as Johan loathed to admit it, he was tired. Being a pro duelist was exhausting work sometimes.

Carefully he lay down on the rock, folding his towel up to use as a pillow. The rock was warm, heated by the sun and he could see why Yubel had chosen to nap on it. Especially since, being covered in scales, they didn't have to worry about getting sun burned.

As he shifted about to get comfortable sound reached his ears, one he was quite familiar with hearing as he’d heard it on many an occasion from Judai’s cat. Except that Pharaoh wasn’t there with them, having been left at home, and it seemed to be coming from Yubel. Confused, he turned around to look at Yubel to confirm that yes they were making the sound and that a cat (or cat like creature) had not joined them when he wasn’t looking.

“Judai, is Yubel purring?”

Judai lifted his head from his own towel-pillow and looked past Johan to Yubel before nodding. “Oh, yeah Yubel does that sometimes. I guess Yubel's really content.”

“Since when can Yubel purr?” Pharaoh purring made sense, he was a cat, but Yubel was, well Yubel.

“Since always. I think it’s a dragon thing. Consider yourself lucky, Yubel doesn’t purr unless they’re really relaxed or really like someone.” 

Yubel’s wing dropped back down on them, as if aware that the pair were now comfortably settled beside them. 

Johan smiled as he made himself comfortable, listening to the gentle, rhythmic purring. It was hard to believe that at one point they’d been at one another’s throats, and now they could be like this, comfortable enough in each other’s presence to sleep side by side. 

 

Yubel woke with a yawn and stretched out, rubbing their eyes with one hand. The nap had been a good idea after all. As Yubel sat up, their wing brushed against something that was clearly not rock. Curious, Yubel raised their wing and chuckled softly at the sight that met their eyes. Fast asleep on the rock beside them, tucked safely under their wing like a blanket, were Judai and Johan. 

‘I guess they wore themselves out,’ thought Yubel with a smile. 

Yubel reached a hand out, gently brushing a few strands of hair away from Johan’s face. Now that he was up close and at rest it was clear to see just how tired and worn out he really was. 

He’d just finished up a rather long tour on the pro circuit and Judai had decided that Johan needed a vacation-whether he wanted one or not. 

 

“Vacation?”

Judai nodded. “I was thinking of going to the beach, something relaxing.”

“And what if he doesn’t want to go?”

“Well then I’ll just kidnap him and drag him there anyways. He needs a break before he just collapses.”

 

Luckily, Johan had been all for the trip, so no kidnapping was required.

“Beeee?”

A tiny chirp caught Yubel’s attention and they looked down to see the smallest of Johan’s Gem Beasts peering over the edge of the rock and sniffing his sleeping face.

“Don’t worry little one he’s just sleeping,” said Yubel. 

As Ruby curled up next to Johan, Yubel leaned over and pressed a light kiss to his forehead before laying their wing back down over the boys. There was no sense disturbing their much needed naps, the beach picnic could wait a little longer. With a smile, Yubel laid back down and curled slightly closer to them, wing shielding them from the sun above while they napped.