The Apparel Oft Proclaims the Man

by Tenshi

"I liked the black one."

"No offense," Yugi said, rooting through the rack of shirts in his closet, "I'm not really sure I should be taking your fashion advice. I've seen how all your old friends dress."

Even with his back turned on the faint, transparent image of his other self, Yugi could feel Yami's eyebrow lift. It was like some phantom muscle twitch, an echo of nerve endings not currently hooked up to his own. "...What's wrong with how they dress?"

"I'm just saying," Yugi said, pulling out a shirt that was more buckles than cloth, and throwing it on the discard pile with the filmy black net thing Yami had liked, "this isn't a duel. If I turn up at Burger World covered in leather and spikes I'm going to get laughed clean out to the parking lot. I know I've got a t-shirt in here somewhere."

"Pft," Yami said, unimpressed.

Yugi extracted himself from his closet, brandishing a stud-covered belt at Yami as though it was a live cobra. "I'm not even sure why you like it all, to be honest. Since when are zippered Tripp goth pants Egyptian?"

"I find the adornments to be quite regal," Yami said, with a tiny shrug. "Most modern clothing is far too plain. How can you deduce people's rank, their position, their status in society when they're all wearing the same dull clothes? Jeans," he added, scoffing. "To say nothing of this thing." He waved a disparaging hand at Yugi's school uniform, folded neatly on a chair for the next school day.

"You can tell by how much those jeans cost," Yugi said, holding and tossing away another shirt. Yami caught it, or tried to, as it passed through his hand. "And you make my uniform look awesome, with that--that cape-thing you do with it. I'd look like an idiot if I wore it that way."

"You most certainly would not. A king should look kingly at all times," Yami said, solemn and regal. "Even the king of games. Lest his people forget who he is."

"It's too late if the king has already forgotten who he is for them," Yugi said, under his breath, but it was a wasted effort when conversing with a spirit inside his own head, and he felt Yami's frown. "Sorry. It's just, I'm not a Pharaoh, you're a Pharaoh, and you can pull it off. I just look like I'm trying too hard."

"I think you look very nice," Yami said, kindly. "It makes you appear distinctive, confident--"

"And short." Yugi leaned his head against the door of his closet, sighing.

"If you dislike it all so much," Yami asked, genuinely curious, "Why is your closet overflowing with it? You can't blame me, you had these clothes long before you woke me."

"I did my hair like this before I met you, too," Yugi said, tugging his fingers through gel-stiff, vivid purple spikes. "You were already speaking to me somehow, I think."

"My hair has always looked like this," Yami argued. "If you were collecting bolts of pleated linen and golden arm-cuffs rather than all this, I might take the blame for the clothes. But I could hardly be to blame when I was still sleeping, with no knowledge of such things."

"Yeah, I know." Yugi sat down on the corner of his bed, the long straps of the shirt he held trailing on the floor. "I guess I felt like it kept people away. It put a barrier between me and what they thought of me, you know?" He ran his thumb over one buckle. "I was a short, geeky, quiet kid who played games and puzzles all the time. Wearing this stuff kept people at arm's length. If they could undo all the locks, maybe they could get at me. But otherwise I'd just be blocked off, like--like armor."

"Not like armor," Yami said, with a faint smile at the bowed head of his partner. "You made yourself a puzzle and dared anyone to solve you."

Yugi looked up at him, chagrined. "I guess you'd know about that, huh? Anyway." He flopped back on the bed, amid the discarded heaps of his clothes. "With you around I don't feel like I have to try so hard to be cool. But since we share my body I feel like I should wear things that suit you, and not just me." He squinted up at his other self, the ragged crown of his hair made brilliantly translucent at the edges, haloed in the ceiling light. "It's pretty tricky."

"Then I think we should wear this one," Yami said, bending over him, his hands spread over the strappy shirt on Yugi's lap. Yugi's pulse tripped as their forms overlapped. Unmoored, Yami had little effect on his environment, but Yugi could feel the weight of the Pharaoh above him, the ticklish sweep of his hair, the motion of breath against his ear. "It looks good on both of us, and besides--" Yugi felt the brush of lips against his jaw a moment before the spirit dissolved, folding them both together inside one body. "--I like undoing puzzles."


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