Darkness Before Dawn

BY : ScarredSwordHeart
Category: Yu-Gi-Oh > AU - Alternate Universe
Dragon prints: 1888
Disclaimer: YuGiOh and the characters thereof are the sole domain of Kazuki Takahashi and all rightsholders. I'm only borrowing them for entertainment purposes and am deriving no profit.

{} Flashback
/ / Dream

Japanese school year

1st trimester: Second week April – Last week July
Summer vacation: Last week July - Last week August

2nd trimester: First week September – Last week December
Winter vacation: December 25 – January 7

3rd trimester: First week January – Last week March
Spring vacation: March 25 – April 7

Sunday, April 3, 2005
Domino City, Kantou Region, Japan

The rain poured down in a torrent from fat, iron gray clouds, plipping off of green leaves and soaking the good earth with fresh, life-giving moisture. The raindrops splashed and slid off of the sleight roof of the old three story house that sat on a spacious lot with a thick wood of tall old growth trees flanking it, its white walls standing out in stark contrast against the grays and browns of its backdrop.

In his third story bedroom, whose wood plank floor was littered with dirty laundry, boxes and half-read manga, eighteen-year-old rising university freshman Mutou Yugi sat clicking through all the old family photos he had spent the day scanning into his new computer.

' Rain again,’ he thought, large violet eyes casting a baleful glance at the gloomy weather outside his window.

The next photo made him pause and stare, moisture filling his eyes as an image of his younger self, ensconced in his parents’ arms, smiled at him from the screen.

‘Our last photo together before…’ Yugi thought as he closed his eyes against the lachrymose flood.


July 12, 1995
Kame Game Shop

Yugi and Grandpa were spending a rainy evening watching a movie while Yugi's parents were out for the evening act of a kabuki play. The joviality of the movie was disrupted by the shrill warble of the house phone.

Grandpa paused the movie and, with a pat on Yugi's spiky little head, rose to answer the phone.

Yugi sat waiting for Grandpa to return so they could resume their movie. From the other room, just audible over the pelting raindrops outside, Grandpa’s voice drifted into his hearing.

“Yes, this is he… What?! Oh, gods!”

Yugi thought he heard a sob, but that was impossible because his jolly Grandpa never cried.

“Yes… Thank you.”

The click of the phone being hung up, barely audible over the swishing and soughing of the rain and wind against the walls and windows.

A few minutes later, Grandpa returned, violet eyes dull and unfocused and features somehow looking older than they had a few minutes ago.

“Yugi, my boy, I'm so sorry…”

The rain was a torrent in his ears.


Blinking his eyes to clear away the noisome moisture, Yugi clicked through. Since that rainy night ten years ago, he had lived at the Kame Game Shop with his grandfather. Now that he was in college though, it was time for him to begin to make his own way through the world. Hence, his having decided to rent this house and live off campus, away from prying adult eyes.

“Hey, Yuge!” called a voice from downstairs.

“Yeah, Jou?!” Yugi called back, grateful that his voice didn’t waver.

“Ya got ¥1,056* I could borrow? I’ll be good fer it by Friday, I swear!” the voice called.

‘Not again?!’

“Hang on!” Yugi called, grabbing his biker wallet off the desk and fishing out the requested yen.

Yugi made his way downstairs and found best friend, roommate and resident deadbeat Jounouchi Katsuya, sprawled out on the couch, blond mop looking as though it hadn’t seen a comb in years, watching a raunchy anime. Wrinkling his nose in distaste, Yugi simply tossed the folded bills into Jou’s lap.

“T’anks, pal!” Jou grinned up at Yugi, mirth flashing in his roguish brown eyes.

“Anytime,” Yugi said with a roll of his eyes. “I’m taking my shower.”

“Go fer it,” said Jou, already engrossed in his hentai once again.

*Roughly $20 USD

After soaping himself and rinsing off, Yugi sank up to his neck in the steamy water. Usually, the evening bath was a chance for him to relax and unwind. Tonight however, his whole body was taut with the excitement that only comes with starting at a new school, where he was about to embark on his college career and learn his master passion: video game design.

Yugi sighed unhappily as he remembered the required classes he faced as an underclassman before he could actually pursue his major: computer programming and 3D geometry. OK. Those he understood. You had to know how to code if you wanted to design video games and knowledge of geometry helped with creating 3D objects.

However, he couldn’t help but wrinkle his nose in disdain at the last and most frustrating requirement of all: liberal arts. This broad category was an umbrella for several other academic pursuits, such as literature, philosophy, math and the social sciences.

Literature? The furthest Yugi had ever ventured into literature had been manga and translated American comics. Philosophy? Snore City! Math? Yugi had barely scraped by in high school with a D- in that subject. This left the social sciences. Out of those, the least burdensome choice had been psychology, so it was this that Yugi had (very hesitantly) chosen to fulfill the liberal arts requirement.

‘Why the hell do I have to learn psychology to design video games? The two have nothing to do with each other! Why do schools always have to pull this shit?!’ he thought, splashing the water spitefully with his hand.

With a deep sigh, Yugi banished all thoughts of confounding required courses from his mind and resolved to enjoy his soak to the fullest.


Finished with his bath and now clad in his blue cotton PJs with yellow star pattern on them, Yugi was just setting up his new school email address, changing it from studentnumber@domino.edu.jp to blackmage@domino.edu.jp, when his attention was snapped back to the real world by the vibrating phone on his desk.

Yugi picked up his phone and couldn’t help the smile that broke out on his features when he saw the caller ID: Mutou Sugoroku, aka Grandpa. Yugi flipped his phone open and hit Answer.

“Hi, Grandpa!” he chirped.

“Hello, Yugi. Just thought I’d call you to wish you luck on your first day at school tomorrow,” Sugoroku’s gravelly voice sounded over the phone.

“Thanks,” said Yugi, frowning as he remembered what his first class tomorrow would be. “Hey, can I ask you a question?”

“Of course,” replied Sugoroku.

“When you studied archeology at Domino, did you have to take a bunch of classes that had nothing to do with your major as an underclassman?” Yugi asked.

“Heh heh heh! Yes, indeed! I had to take Classical Western Literature and Art Appreciation before I could actually begin taking the archeology and egyptology courses,” Sugoroku answered, confirming Yugi’s suspicious.

“Ugh! Well, you’ll be happy to know things haven’t changed that much. I have to take Psychology before I can study video game design! Isn’t that the worst?!” seethed Yugi.

"Now, now, Yugi. Instead of complaining about what you can't change, the best thing to do is just put your head down, work hard and get through it," advised Grandpa in a kind, but firm tone.

"I know. I know. Gambare!" said Yugi with a longsuffering smile and roll of his eyes.

For Grandpa was a member of that practical elder generation that believed in working hard to get through a tough situation instead of complaining or commiserating about it, and certainly instead of explaining the wherefores to confused members of the younger generation.

“That’s right. If you work hard, you’ll master it and before you know it, it’ll be out of your way,” counseled Sugoroku.

“Yes, Grandpa,” said Yugi with a lopsided smile.

“Besides, even if you do have required courses, it doesn’t change the fact that you’re in university, where you don't have to worry about being expelled because of your hair,” teased Sugoroku.

Yugi couldn’t help but smile at Grandpa’s last point. His hairstyle had caused him no end of grief from teachers in high school, due to his unusual starfish shaped black locks with purple fringe and long, angular blond bangs that framed his angelic features. In university, there were no dress or hair codes, which meant that Yugi would finally be able to relax and just study his passions.

“You’re right. Thanks, Grandpa,” he said, feeling somewhat better about the situation.

“You’re welcome, Yugi. Now remember, study hard and don’t let Jounouchi borrow you into debt,” Sugoroku’s merry voice teased.

“Ha ha! I won’t,” said Yugi, wincing as he remembered the money he had lent to the blond earlier.

“I’m going to let you go now. Don’t stay up too late,” Sugoroku advised.

“I won’t. Love you, Grandpa. Bye!” said Yugi.

“I love you too, Yugi. Goodbye,” replied Sugoroku before hanging up.

‘Grandpa’s so awesome. He always knows how to cheer me up,’ Yugi thought as he absently picked up a deck of cards and began flipping through it, gazing down tenderly at each card.


July 20, 1995
Kame Game Shop

Tears flowing from his huge, round eyes, Yugi clung to the green denim of his grandfather’s overalls.

“P-Please, Grandpa! I can’t go to school!” the little boy sobbed.

“Why ever not, Yugi?” asked Sugoroku, knowing that he needed to handle his emotionally fragile grandson with kid gloves, while somehow still holding him accountable for his behavior.

“What’ll h-happen while I’m gone?” Yugi sobbed. “What if I c-come home and you’re not theeeereee?”

‘Oh, so that’s the problem…’ Sugoroku thought as he gave Yugi a squeeze before gently disengaging his clinging arms and kneeling down so that he was at eye level with his grandson.

“Yugi, I’ll make a you a deal,” Sugoroku proposed, gazing gravely into Yugi’s eyes.

Grandpa’s voice and gaze actually snapped Yugi out of his tears, causing the boy to stare back, violet communicating with violet.

“What k-kinda deal?” Yugi asked.

“Go to school today and when you get home, I’ll be here with a brand new game,” proposed Sugoroku, deliberately appealing to the boy’s love of the thing for which he was named.

“A new game?” asked Yugi, tear bright eyes now shining with interest. “What is it?! What kind?!”

Sugoroku smiled at Yugi, wise violet eyes twinkling.

“You’ll just have to find out when you get home,” he said wisely.

“I can’t wait!” cried Yugi, voice rising with excitement.

“Then why don’t you start off to school so you can get home that much sooner?” advised Sugoroku.

“Great idea, Grandpa!” chirped Yugi, running to the genkan to step down into his shoes.

“I’ll see you when you get home, Yugi,” said Sugoroku.

At this, Yugi’s little figure froze and the boy turned around, fixing Sugoroku with an imploring gaze.

“Promise?” he asked, holding out his hand, little finger crooked.

“A solemn promise,” answered Sugoroku, hooking pinkies with Yugi.

“OK, Grandpa. I’ll see you tonight,” said Yugi with a return of good cheer.

With that, they unlinked their pinkies and Sugoroku watched as Yugi ran out the door, just in time to catch the city bus that would take him to school.


“Grandpa, I’m home!” Yugi called as he shut the door behind him and stepped out of his shoes. “Is that the game?!”

This at the sight of several cards laid out on the dining room table at which Grandpa was seated, violet eyes twinkling.

“That it is, Yugi. This is a brand new card game called Duel Monsters. It was created in the United States by an entrepreneur named Pegasus J. Crawford last year and has just been released in Japan. It’s a great game. Would you like to learn to play?” asked Sugoroku.

“Yeah!” cheered Yugi, pausing only to dump his backpack.

“Alright. We’ll just go over the basics for now, then play one game before you do your homework,” said Sugoroku.

“Aw, OK…” conceded Yugi as he sat in his chair.

Sugoroku spent the next hour going over the cards and explaining the different archetypes, equipment, magic and trap cards, attack and defense points and the rules of the game. After Yugi understood them pretty well, they had a short duel, which Grandpa won easily. However, Yugi was so enthralled with the game that he didn’t mind losing.

“This is my favorite card,” he declared solemnly as he held up a card upon which was printed a wizard with long purple hair, dressed in matching armor and pointy helmet.

“Then you must keep him in your deck. If you treat him and your other cards well, they’ll always look after you,” said Sugoroku.

“And you too, Grandpa. Your cards will take care of you forever,” smiled Yugi.

“Yes, they will,” smiled Sugoroku.


As he peered down at the cards, which had different monsters, dragons and wizards on them, Yugi thought back to last Monday’s freshman orientation, which he and Jou had attended to enroll in the university and get their class schedules. After the boring registration and speeches had come the fun part: picking which clubs or circles they wanted to be in. There had been two kinds: the more formal clubs, which neither gamer had looked twice at, and the interest based circles, only one of which had struck their fancy: the Duel Monsters circle!


Monday, March 28, 2005
Domino University

At long last, all the boring speeches and distribution of schedules and maps was over. Now it was time for the fun part: picking out clubs and circles to participate in after classes. The clubs all consisted of stuffy, boring pastimes that kindled neither Yugi nor Jou’s interests. The circles were all pretty much the same. Then their eyes fell on one table, a bit apart from the others, behind which sat a young man with fluffy, snow white hair and large, disarming brown eyes. Upon seeing two potential members, the young man instantly smiled warmly at them as they sidled up to the table.

“Welcome to my humble table. My name is Bakura Ryou. Are you interested in signing up?” he asked cordially.

“Yup!” replied Yugi and Jou simultaneously.

“I’m Mutou Yugi,” Yugi introduced himself.

“‘N I’m Jounouchi Katsuya. Ya prolly heard a me…” Jou began.

“Defending regional champion?!” Bakura cried, cutting off Jou.

“Well, I did finish third…” replied Jou.

“Mutou Yugi wants to be in my circle?! Oh, I believe I shall swoon!” cried Bakura, gazing at Yugi with starstruck eyes.

“Er… Um…” Yugi stammered, uncertain of how to react in the face of such unmitigated fanfare. “Is there some paperwork we need to fill out?”

“Oh, you needn’t bother. Just show up in the library in Building 3C after class next Wednesday with your deck,” smiled Bakura.

“What ‘bout me, third place finishah?” asked Jou, interposing himself between Yugi and Bakura.

“Hmmm? Oh, yes. Of course. The more the merrier. Here are the requisite papers. Just bring them along with your cards,” answered Bakura, absently shoving the papers into Jou’s face without ever removing his eyes from Yugi, who could barely contain his laughter.


‘Even with the bullshit classes, college is gonna be so awesome!’ Yugi thought as he tucked his cards safely into his backpack for tomorrow.

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