Ghost Train

by Tenshi

Author's Note: The dub by this point has dropped the use of 'Yami' and started using 'the Pharaoh' exclusively, but it's awkward in prose. I also use a mishmash of the dub and Japanese canon, particularly in terms of names, so I use both 'Yami' and 'the Pharaoh' when referring to Atem, who really should just pick one of his three names and stick with it, srsly. Takes place in the Doma Arc, after Yugi is captured by the Orichalcos Seal and shortly before the party splits up on the train.

The carriage door slid shut behind him, and Yami drew a deep lungful of the cooler air in the train vestibule, letting the clicking of the wheels become silence. The seating area was claustrophobic, and Tea's attempts to cheer him up only poured salt on his seething wounds. They burned in Yami's heart, relentlessly replaying his failure, and Yugi's sacrifice, and then the horrible sensation of the Pharaoh's soul rattling emptily in the body they had once shared, torn apart from his other half and discarded.

"I thought I'd find you out here feelin' sorry for yourself." Joey snapped the door open with a flick of his wrist, jerking it closed again behind him. The noise of chatter in the train carriage was silenced as soon as it started. "Didn't think you were usin' the can."

"Joey, please." Yami turned his face away to the smeared plexiglass window of the train vestibule. His reflection was painful, and he closed his eyes against it and Joey. In the small space, Joey's body was an assault on his senses: senses he was still unused to having for such a long uninterrupted stretch. Yugi's body responded to the trace memories of Joey's presence, recalling, like the twitch of a limb long severed, the shared, friendly indulgences of lazier days past. Yami remembered them himself, at arm's length from his partner, unwilling to intrude on the time Yugi spent with a friend. The pleasure had rippled back to him at the time, a sunset that gave color but not warmth. But in Yugi's abandoned blood and bones, Joey's familiar closeness had the searing heat of a bonfire.

"Please what?" Joey said, planting both hands on the bathroom door, on either side of Yami's head, and leaning in closer. He smelled like mousse and freshly-washed t-shirts, like corn chips and the expensive, sparingly-rationed aftershave his sister had given him for Christmas. Yami shuddered. His body--Yugi's body--was oblivious to its half-emptiness, knowing only the hungers common to its biology. It sang with the need for release, of simple physical oblivion, but Yami refused it. To indulge in such things while alone in Yugi's body would be, to his mind, as heinous a sin as violating a friend's corpse.

"You know," Joey continued, as the man in his best friend's body refused to look him in the eye, "I was just thinking I might have to punch you again before you stopped moping around, but there's not enough room out here to swing." He studied Yami's lowered profile a moment longer. "Besides," he added, softly, "I figure you're feeling shitty enough already."

"A description that would be quite apt," Yami answered, swallowing. He did not often indulge in modern slang, but even he had to admit that shitty pretty much summed it up.

"You think you can save Yugi's soul like this?" Joey's eyes narrowed when the Pharaoh did not respond. "Hey!" He caught Yami by the chin, jerking his head up to meet his eyes. "At least have the balls to look at me when I'm talking to ya--" He broke off, his bluster unfinished. In the window of Yugi's eyes, Yami's expression shone back bleak and empty, a shattered, half-made thing. They stared at each other a long moment, as the landscape unraveled by outside the window, and as Yami's emptiness yawned like a gaping wound between them. "I know I miss Yugi," Joey confessed at last, in a half-whisper. "Man, it's like it hurts all the time, you know? Like I've got a big sharp rock where my heart should be. But for you--"

Yami held up his hands--Yugi's hands, small and deft--and his fingers trembled. "I keep being surprised that I'm not bleeding," he said, his voice raw. "To take such a blow, and to not show a scratch for the pain..." He laughed. "It's obscene. Even in the darkest heart of the puzzle, I never felt so alone. When I woke, Yugi was everything. His dreams, his thoughts, his light, the music of his breath and the thunder of his heartbeat--I built my universe around his soul. To think that I gambled it, that I lost it, that I threw it away! And for what?" His fists knotted up in Joey's jacket. "Because I was too proud to lose a game!" It was Joey that would not meet his gaze now, and Yami shook him. "You should hit me, dammit! I deserve nothing less!"

"I'm not punching Yugi's body anymore," Joey muttered. "I want to make sure you get it back to him in one piece, you got that? You're just borrowing it."

"I know," Yami said, and squeezed his eyes shut again. "I've always thought myself better than that beast inside Bakura's ring, but I see I'm just the same. I thought I was protecting Yugi by taking over, but I was only being a greedy, selfish monster, just like--" Yami broke off, his head knocking back against the bathroom door as Joey jerked his chin upwards again, not to meet his eyes but to crush their mouths together in a rough kiss.

"Shut up," Joey panted, pulling his mouth half an inch away. "Just shut the fuck up. Yugi loved you. He still loves you. And if he caught you talking shit like that he'd give you hell for it. I can't hit you anymore for him, so I'll just have to shut you up some other way." He leaned back down before Yami could argue, his tongue forcing Yami's mouth open, turning the kiss into an almost hostile invasion. Joey's hand slipped down the pebbly plastic door to the latch, turning it and pushing them both into the narrow closet of the bathroom.

"I won't do this," Yami protested, even as Joey switched the latch to occupied. "This is Yugi's body, and while he's gone--"

"While he's gone it's all we've got." Joey caught Yami by the belt-loops of his pants, pulling him forward against the hard ridge of his hipbone. Yami hissed as a shockwave of pleasure burst along his spine, the dull ache of need sharpening into a burn. "And I ain't doing this for you. I'm doing it because I miss him, and you miss him, and because when I was with him I know you could feel us. Well, I want to make sure Yugi can feel us too. I don't want him to be alone out there. I'm gonna get you off and dammit I want you to say his name, I want you to let him know you're on your way."

"Rather a crude means of communication, don't you think?" Yami's argument was weak; his belt rattled open in Joey's hands, and the swollen curve of his cock nudged up against Joey's open palm.

"It does the job," Joey said, and backed Yami up against the wall, pulling the Pharaoh's knees around his hips. In the close space, Yami could brace his feet on the wall behind Joey, even as short as he was. Joey fumbled a foil wrapper out of his coat pocket, tore it open with his teeth, and then the slippery latex-covered tip of his cock nudged insistently against Yami's asshole. Yami had to stifle a bark of bitter laughter. Yugi had always given Joey hell for buying the colored ones. Yugi could tease Joey about that without so much as blush, but when Yami had asked about the peculiar nature of modern contraceptives, Yugi had been all stammering and averted eyes.

I'll get you back, Yami thought, as Joey's hips rattled him hard against the wall, as Yugi's body was occupied by two people once again, however brief Joey's presence would be. Yami spiraled down into the exhausted relief of release and he fell through the empty rooms where Yugi used to be, cresting the wave with Yugi's name on his lips and half a heart broken beyond repair. I swear, Yugi. I swear on my name, whatever it is.

There was no answer.

In the end, it was not only sweat that made salty tracks down their faces, as Joey and the Pharaoh cradled Yugi's body between them in a desperate prayer for the soul of the man they both loved.


b i s h o n e n i n k