First I have to say that I'm not really sure just how I ended up writing this story and procrastinating my homework. If you go onto my author page you'll see some works concerning "The Hobbit" but nothing of this genre.
Admittedly, I'd never seen this show until a few weeks ago when someone very dear to me forced me to sit through several seasons of this work. Honestly, I'm still not sure where I sit with the show. I find it fascinating at the very least and I'm interested in exploring character development... And I'm sort of embarrassed to admit that the plot bunnies have erupted because of it.
So, here I sit writing this thing. An interesting story I hope.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the story. And I'd love to hear you comments about what it is I'm delving into.
Fingers twitched agitatedly as the figure brooded in the darkness, a small sliver of light flickering in and out of his vision.
It was the only significant change he'd noted in the many centuries he'd been trapped.
Sure, from time to time, the soft murmurs of voices reached his ears. And they did pique his curiosity, though he knew they were never addressing HIM.
How could they?
They didn't know he existed.
And the voices were always so fleeting and so infrequent that they hardly warranted any reaction from him after so long. He knew he'd just end up alone again.
But the light was different.
He'd never experienced this before. A small sliver of light and the soft whispers of a constant voice as they struggled to piece things together.
With each slot the fell into place, a little more was revealed.
And for the first time in...he couldn't even deduce how long…something stirred in him apart from the bitterness, loathing and frustration that he felt.
A small flickering of hope resonated within him and he willed whoever it was to complete their task and relieve him of this imprisonment and misery.
But it was many years before the flickering light grew and his patience was starting to grow thin.
He wanted out.
He wanted his freedom.
The spirit strained against the bonds that held him, sending whatever power he possessed towards his liberator, willing them to keep trying.
'Don't give up. Please.'
Yugi Mutou frowned, her brows creased in concentration as she stared, at the two trinkets in her hand.
They had to fit together somehow.
Leaning forward on her elbows, she peered at the two pieces more closely before inspecting her work to the left.
Somehow, somehow they had to fit.
She was sure of it.
Maybe if she turned this one counter clockwise before slipping it into this…?
A loud rapping against her door sent the young teen reeling backwards in surprise. Her fingers loosened around the objects in her hands, her concentration broken for the moment.
"Yugi? Are you up yet? If you don't hurry you'll be late!"
Her grandfather's voice was soft, but authoritative as he inquired after her. Yugi smiled at the door.
"Yes, yes I'm awake," she remarked absently, forcing the blush of embarrassment off her cheeks as she glance at the clock, realizing that she'd spent much longer on her task than she'd been planning.
Much, much longer...
"I'll be down in a moment," She commented, scooting her chair back and reaching for her shoes, stifling a yawn.
"You'd better hurry if you want any breakfast!" her grandfather's voice echoed, a little more distantly this time, as she heard the footfalls along the stairs, "I'm not going to wait much longer!"
Yugi nodded absently, as she finished lacing her shoe and adjusting her pant leg.
Every few seconds her gaze would shift towards the trinkets still sitting on her desk and her fingers would twitch with longing.
With a muffled groan of frustration she hastily peered in the mirror against door and assessed the disaster that was her hair. Frowning, she tried to tousle the locks into a somewhat uniform fashion, knowing that any real attempt to tame her hair would be met with firm resistance by the genetics she'd been gifted. The overall haphazard spiking of tufts of hair was a family trait, going by her grandfather's appearance. As was the variation of coloring. Deep ebony blended with rich burgundy, creating a dark halo that surrounded the young girl's head. Her face, though, was framed by uncooperative blonde bangs that created a striking contrast against her fair skin.
Nothing could assuage the natural structure of her gravity defying hair, much to her chagrin sometimes. And it was one of the reasons she'd never attempted to grow her hair out any further than it was.
Imagine that monstrosity…
Yugi grinned in the mirror as she adjusted her shirt, tucking it carefully into a more uniform appearance. Her large amethyst eyes narrowed in assessment at her overall ensemble and she let out a resigned huff of acceptance.
It would have to do.
But she supposed it was a nice gesture to be gifted with a trait that reminded her of her grandfather, she mused as she gave one last ruffle to her bangs before throwing the contents on her desk back into their box and into her backpack, resisting the urge (once again) to plop back down and attempt to satiate her curiosity. Her grandfather's voice echoed through the door.
She really needed to hurry.
Maybe she could find a moment at lunch to work on her project?
She should have known, after arriving late to school, that they day would go downhill from there.
She really should have known.
After squeezing through the locked gates, she managed to slip into the classroom unnoticed by the teacher.
That is until she tripped on her own foot and landed, quite unceremoniously on her stomach, her elbows catching a few of the desks on her way down.
The shooting pain in her arms smarted in even comparison to her wounded pride.
The roaring laughter of the classroom was enough to make her face change from porcelain to cherry in an instant.
Anzu, her friend since they were children, gave her a pitying glance before averting her eyes back to her textbook as the teacher barked for silence, shooting a severe glare towards the embarrassed girl.
Lunch proved no less eventful, even despite the fact that she'd tucked herself away into one of the abandoned classrooms.
The solitude didn't last long.
As soon as she pulled out her box containing the pieces she'd attempted to wedge together this morning, a rather large hand snatched one piece from her grip, startling and annoying the young woman.
Narrowing her large eyes, she peered up at the face of her tormentor.
"Give that back!" Her voice, normally soft to begin with, carried little persuasion towards the tall opponent who stood before her, large grin plastered on his cheeky face.
"What's this then Yugi?" He remarked haughtily, "Some new toy you're playing with?"
Yugi huffed a little as she stood, her legs quivering just a little.
"Jonouchi give that back please!"
The blonde giant quirked and eyebrow at her and his grin broadened. He raised his arm high, dangling the small golden object high above her head.
"Go on then, jump for it shrimp! Don't want people takin' yer stuff? Best to just learn to fight for it."
"I don't like fighting," She remarked, bracing herself. With a grunt, her feet departed the floor and she launched herself upwards, towards her treasure.
However, being as short as she was (barely reaching 5 feet on a good day), her efforts at retrieving her pilfered treasure were in vain.
Jou was just too tall. And he lorded that fact over her.
"Come on then, you want? Huh? Come on, jump for it!"
"Hey over here!" Another familiar voice tickled Yugi's ears and she inwardly grumbled at her misfortune.
Jonouchi grinned wider and lobbed the trinket well over Yugi's head and into the waiting hands of Honda.
It figured that they'd be together. Yugi couldn't recall a time that Jounouchi and Honda were not scheming together.
Or harassing her for that matter.
Yugi stiffened and withheld a small sigh of relief at the familiar screech of indignation that could only come from Anzu's lips.
"What do you think you're doing? Give that back to Yugi now!"
Jonouchi laughed as he continued to toss the golden object back and forth with Honda, ignoring Anzu's demand.
"Why? He's not earned it back yet."
Anzu's eyes narrowed at the comment and she stepped closer to Jonouchi, cuffing the belligerent bully behind the ear.
"Don't you have anything better to do than bully Yugi? Honestly, you're being ridiculous!"
"Ow! Watch it Mazaki!" Jou stepped back and glared at Anzu's offensive hand, "We're just trying to toughen him up. The shrimp needs to grow a spine."
It struck Yugi that Jonouchi referred to Yugi as a 'he'.
Sure Yugi was often mistaken for being male. She did wear a male uniform to school after all, initially because of the lack of sizes available for her when she'd first enrolled, though the trend continued because the male uniform was much more comfortable for her. She'd have felt self-conscious in the girls' uniform.
And of course she'd never bothered to correct any misconception anyone might have held concerning her gender, mainly because she didn't have friends to correct.
But could this be the reason why he'd been giving her such a hard time? Jonouchi wanted her to be tough? To stand up for herself more?
"I said lay off of Yugi! Give that thing back and get lost or I'll give you a reason!"
"Calm down Mazaki!" Jou remarked heatedly, "I wasn't going to just take this…" he waved the golden piece around, "thing. I just wanted…" his grin widened a little as he stepped back, "wanted to…"
Yugi's eyes widened in horror as the small trinket slipped from Jonouchi's fingers and over the railing near the window.
Yugi's heart plummeted as she bolted towards the window and peered down, watching the golden piece glitter in the sunlight as it plinked into the crystalline water below.
It was gone…
Yugi could feel her hands balling into fists, her shoulders tensing was the realization that it would never be finished…eight years she'd spent on it.
She'd been so close…
"How could you do that!" Anzu hollered. "You're such a low life Jonouchi!"
The brunette girl darted from the room, a promise to retrieve a janitor to rescue the piece, echoing down the hall and to
"Eh, he'll get over it, wontcha kid," Jonouchi ruffled Yugi's hair.
The petite girl stepped back, her eyes narrowed with a fury and despair as she stared up at Jonouchi, watching the way the wind ruffled his blonde hair. His brown eyes were alight in mirth and his grin was wide and toothy.
Yugi felt the heat rising on the back of her neck, making her feel uncomfortably hot in this room.
But she said nothing.
All the years she'd been harangued by Honda and Jonouchi she'd brushed it off, she'd defended them against Anzu's railings…
Anger simmered beneath the surface, casting a rosy pallor upon her pale skin.
She continued to stare at Jonouchi, her thoughts waivering between unleashing a temper she rarely felt or dashing after her precious piece.
"What's going on here?"
Yugi snapped her gaze towards the door, the hairs on the back of her neck instantly raising in alarm at the sight before her.
Ushio and a small band of hall monitors stood in the doorway, blocking the entrance and trapping the three other occupants inside the room.
The surly Ushio turned his attention towards Yugi, a somewhat predatory grin plastered on his face, his dark greasy hair catching the light as he stepped forward. His thick black boots echoed loudly against the tiled floor.
"Yugi, was it?" He remarked softly, the timbre of his voice even. It was offsetting. "Tell me, are these two bothering you?"
Conflicting thoughts warred in Yugi's mind as she weighed her options.
Yes, they were bothering her…
To a degree.
But, something told Yugi that the glint in Ushio's eyes was telling of something dangerous.
Would it do to concede that Honda and Jonouchi were harassing her?
"N-no," Her voice was shaky as she straightened her stance, gazing up at Ushio's towering, hulking form, "They weren't doing anything."
Ushio looked properly flummoxed as he tilted his head in assessment of Yugi.
"Are you certain?"
He smirked then.
"Perhaps you're scared to admit it? Don't be afraid of them," He gestured towards Jou and Honda, "I can protect you from their bullying you know."
The large man nodded towards the four other teens behind him and they darted forward, rushing past Yugi and towards Honda and Jonouchi.
"Get yer fat hands off me," Jou's disgruntled cries echoed in Yugi's ears as he fought a boy with short brown hair off, landing a few solid punches before another boy, this one with longer red hair kneed Jou in the stomach.
Honda fared no better, having been completely blindsided by the two surly guys that tackled him.
The sounds of punches and groans of pain wafted through the air, making Yugi cringe.
"Stop it!" She demanded trying to reach Jou. "They didn't do anything!"
They may have been bullies to her, but they'd never done anything to warrant this type of abuse.
Her fingers wrapped around the collar of the red-haired boy's jacket and she pressed all her effort into tugging the boy backwards.
Only, she was grabbed by her own collar and yanked off the boy before she could fully dislodge the assailant from Jou.
"Tsk tsk," Ushio's gruff voice huffed in her ear, his foul breath making her nose wrinkle in distaste, "I thought you needed my help. You'd protect these scum?"
He gave her a firm shake as she dangled off the ground.
"They didn't do anything!" She ground out, trying to break away from Ushio's hold. "Leave them alone you jerk!"
A hard pain blossomed across her cheek and mouth making Yugi's senses reel in agony, stars bursting before her eyes.
"Now that wasn't very nice," Ushio growled releasing his grip on Yugi's jacket, thrusting her forward and propelling her into the ground. "And here I was protecting you from these lowlifes."
She earned a kick to the stomach for opening her mouth.
Yugi grunted in pain, trying to catch her breath. Her chest felt tight from the blow.
"They are-aren't the lowlifes Ushio."
Those were a poor choice of words apparently.
Ushio hoisted Yugi to her feet and gave another firm shove to Yugi's shoulders, forcing her to stumble backwards.
She did note that the others had stopped her assault on Jonouchi and Honda and were staring at the scene she'd created with Ushio.
He shoved her again.
"You think that they care about you? You think they do this because they care? Hah!"
Yugi ducked before Ushio's slap could connect with her cheek.
She didn't miss the fist to her stomach though.
"What are they to you? Why would you protect them?"
A knee to the stomach made Yugi gasp, and curl in on herself as she tried to force air into her lungs.
She sank slowly to the ground, hands wrapped around her middle as Ushio leaned towards her, large, sweaty hand fisted into her hair.
"What are they to you, eh, freak? What are they? Say the word and I'll take care of them and you won't have to feel this anymore…"
The words were hard to articulate through the lack of oxygen.
Yugi tried to breathe deeply, despite the aching pain in her stomach.
Ushio forced her face upwards until they were eye to eye, his muddy colored orbs were narrowed, cold and assessing, waiting for her reply.
"They're my friends."
With a groan, Yugi eased into the game shop, trying to stifle the jingling bell near the doorway.
The lights were dimmed and the 'closed' sign was firmly facing outward, signaling that the shop was closed for the evening.
Closed early too…
Yugi wiped at her nose, trying to stem the lingering trickle of blood that fell, dribbling down her lips and chin.
Her muscles were tense, her shoulders aching fiercely, thought he dimness of the shop, with its familiar, musty smell, was a comfort.
Ushio's beating had only gotten worse. After her declaration, the bully security monitor had landed a few more punches (one to her nose, which she hoped wasn't broken) before declaring that, for his services, a high payment was to be required.
Where on earth was she to get that?
And by tomorrow?
Her head was throbbing as she entered the kitchen. Her legs felt like jelly and her heart was sinking slowly into her stomach.
She needed aspirin.
And a shower…
But mostly she just wanted to escape from the world for a moment…
She decided to tend to her wounds first and opted for the shower.
Afterwards, dressed in her pajamas and feeling somewhat better than she had, Yugi scrounged around the kitchen for a snack to satiate her stomach's cries of dismay.
Perhaps she could work on—
Yugi squashed the idea with a somber smack as she raised a shaky hand to rub her tired, swollen eyes before peering at the note her grandfather had left on the fridge declaring that he'd had to run out to the museum for the evening and wouldn't be back until late. His scrawl was messy, she noted, showing that he was, indeed in a rush.
All the better that he wasn't here to see her like this.
He would have been terribly upset.
With a defeated gait, she trudged up the stairs towards her bedroom, willing the frustrated tears to stay well behind her eyes.
Today was not her day.
Gingerly setting her backpack on the bed, Yugi eased into her seat at the desk and unzipped the bag, removing her books and the small golden box.
The queasiness she felt at the loss of the piece only increased her agitation of the day.
She'd been so close.
Ignoring the knowledge that it would never be completed, for now at least, Yugi ran her fingers along the edges of the box, tracing the intricate details, the small carvings of birds and staffs.
Carefully she removed the lid, her small fingers, gingerly prying the top from the sides. Pale hands reached in and pulled piece after piece of gold, intricately shaped.
Pieces of a puzzle.
Narrowing her attention to the pieces in her hand, she began to slowly piece each object together, trying to decipher what the puzzle looked like, what the structure would become.
Two connections made
Yugi hunched her shoulders carefully, reaching to grasp another piece, eyes assessing each dip and curve of the pieces she'd already connected.
Another piece set together nicely.
But Yugi's hands trembled as she moved to the next piece, the knowledge that she'd never complete the task weighing down her spirits.
This puzzle had been her solace for eight years.
Eight long years of loneliness and longing weighed heavily on the young shoulders.
She'd never fit in, never been able to make friends as easily as Anzu had. Her looks, style, her shy demeanor all betrayed her and made her appear, by some of the gossip she could gather, as something strange.
And then the teasing.
Another two pieces slid together as a tear slid down her cheek.
The relentless assault by the other classmates, like Jonouchi and Honda tried her resolve, made her feel somewhat lost, even as she defended them against Anzu's criticisms.
'They aren't your friends Yugi,' she'd admonished, 'They aren't trying to be nice to you. It's not a game. They don't like—'
She didn't want to believe it. And so she'd blocked it out, denied Anzu's admonishments on her 'too trusting' behavior and insisted that it wasn't as bad as all that.
There was a firm, fast knocking on the door downstairs and Yugi straightened her position, surprise filling her veins at the noise.
Who would be knocking at this hour?
With slow, measured movements against her protesting bruises and scrapes, she trudged down stairs. The knocks had ceased but her curiosity had gotten the best of her.
More light, this time brighter than ever before.
He could feel the connection growing, he was beginning to sense the faintest feeling of something…
Something other than the darkness, of the anger and the terror.
He clenched his fists, eager to see them, eager to feel something other than this stifling, stagnant air.
He needed freedom…
He craved it.
Surprised didn't begin to describe the feelings coursing through her as she grasped the small bundle to her chest.
A small fluttering of hope knocked at her heart, easing the burden she'd felt.
Another tear fell as she eased back into her room, eased back into her chair and approached her puzzle.
Unclasping her fist, she revealed the missing piece, the one that had been tossed into the water.
The one that had been retrieved and presented to her by a very soggy-looking bruised and battered Jonouchi.
'I'm sorry' he'd said, large brown eyes washing over her bruised face, before averting them and walking down the street, hands fisted firmly in his water-logged pockets.
And now, here in her hand, was the final piece of the puzzle, the final piece to finishing the one thing that she'd held so dear.
With a firm resolve, Yugi reached for the pieces and peered carefully at the half-completed item in her hand.
She would finish it.
The light was growing. The brightest it had ever been before.
And the snatches of noise was reaching his ears...
The soft, fluttering beating of a heart.
Another shaft of brilliance shone through the crack, bouncing across the walls, casting new angles of observation upon the shadows that had lingered around him for so long.
He could feel a burning in his chest, a desire growing.
And he could sense the faintest feeling of…
New, and yet old, emotions, ones that were so foreign and forgotten to him.
He needed to know more about them, about why they were suddenly appearing, as the light began to grow around him.
And he was so close to finding out. Centuries of waiting, impatiently and patiently.
He was so close.
He could taste it.
Long after she heard the soft click of the door, the shuffling of familiar footsteps down the hall and the tired sigh of her grandfather as he moved to his bedroom, she stayed focused on the puzzle, her homework abandoned for the time being.
Only three more pieces.
Her heartbeat sped up at the connection, another piece sliding carefully into place.
She couldn't hide the growing anticipating, the thrumming of her heart in her throat as she reached for the second to last piece of the puzzle.
It was to be a pyramid, she concluded. A brilliant, gold pyramid.
Her hands were shaking as she reached for the last piece, eager and terrified at the same time. Swallowing the thickness in her throat back, her pale fingers wrapped around the center piece, the one with the eye of Horus peering back at her, mocking her, encouraging her.
Yugi hesitated her thoughts straying to the box and its inscription.
She'd be allowed one wish.
Peering down at the puzzle in her hand, she reachd forward and gently pressed the final piece into the puzzle. The eye of Horus slid easily into place, the soft sounds of the pieces interlocking together tickled her ears, sending a jolt of realization through her.
There was a soft flash of light, the eye of Horus glared back at Yugi.
"I wish for friends,"
A soft voice reached his ears, as he was suddenly overcome by a brilliant white light, one that chased all the shadows away and finally freed him from the confines of the darkness.
"Friends who won't ever betray me. Please. Just a friend who would care for me as much as I would care for them."
He blinked several times, trying to force his eyes to adjust to the new light and the onslaught of emotions that suddenly assault his senses.
He narrowed his eyes at the emotions, and the soft murmurs of the voice that surrounded him.
His Saviour that had released him was pleading…
For a friend.
There was a distinct sense of warmth that encased her hands, wrapping around like the softest tendrils of silk, slowly winding around her fingers, up her wrists and arms, reaching her elbows and then her shoulders, working its way to her chest and head.
Yugi's eyes sprang open as she heard the faintest of voices.
'Yes, I will help you.'
And suddenly she felt as though she were falling, a soft hand gently pulling her into the darkness of her mind.
Yugi was vaguely aware of herself losing control of her limbs, her body unable to resist slumping to the ground.
The hand continued to push her back into the darkness, continued to ease her into the security of sleep.
But Yugi resisted, her curiosity piqued and she forced herself out of the grasp of...whatever was holding her.
Her eyes widened in shock and fear, as she peered up into the crimson gaze of the spirit before her.
The scream escaped her lips as a hand pressed against her forehead, sending her into a deep pit of darkness.
He smiled in surprise at his host's resilience.
He'd expected them to crumple immediately.
His power had been sufficient to send her (her!) into a deep slumber, well within the recesses of her mind room.
But she hadn't.
And he was impressed.
The young, petite thing had turned a defiant gaze upon him, her wide amethyst eyes blazing with curiosity and determination.
And he was struck by the power within that gaze. Hidden well, yes, but still powerful.
And then she'd collapsed at his touch, needing an extra push of power to force her into dreams.
He felt a fleeting sense of guilt at his manipulations against her.
But not enough to assuage him.
And while he tucked her into the bed within the confines of her soul room, he listened to the emotions that swirled around her, delving into the memories attached to them as he peered down upon the young female who bore striking resemblance to himself.
Interesting to say the least.
His eyes narrowed dangerously as he noted the deep bruising around her eye and the bridge her nose. The fiery scratches against the paleness of her arms didn't escape his notice either.
Someone had hurt his host.
He searched, sifting through memories, combining them with emotions, his concentration flitting between his task and staring at the young charge in the bed of her soul room.
Who would hurt her...?
A small smirk of anticipation working its way onto his lips as he continued to probe her memories, taking a small liberty in her unconscious state to delve into the complex swirl of confliction her body seemed to express.
A face began to materialize in his own mind's eye and with it specific emotions.
She was unhappy and afraid of this creature.
That was the predominant current at the moment.
The name and the face were simple enough to remember.
His smirk widened as he straightened his stance.
Yes, yes it was the least he could do.
Perhaps it was time to visit this Ushio?
Engage him in a game…
It was the least he could do.
She coughed against the grainy surface as a warmth beat against her back. Hands reached outward to grasp at the ground.
And Yugi realized, with horror and shock that she wasn't grasping at her carpet.
Her hands fisted around grains of warmth.
Eyes shot open and the young girl reeled back in horror as she lifted her hands to peer at the contents within her grip.
Sand. Beautiful tan grains of perfectly uniform warmth that stood in contrast to the azure sky above her, with nary a cloud to blot out the pulsing heat of the golden sunlight that encased the land about her.
She was grasping sand?
Where was she?
What on earth was going on?
"You! On your feet!"
A loud voice made her jump in surprise and fear and she turned to face the harsh voice, her heart hammering in her chest, confusion swirling in the depths of her soul.
For the second time her gaze leveled upon a pair of narrowed crimson eyes that peered down on her in a most condescending manner.