Disclaimer: I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh! GX.
Chapter One- The Confession
A small warm breeze flitted through the open balcony doors of the room and tousled the hair of a teenage boy. He savored the wind's caress as it tickled his skin. It was another beautiful day at Duel Academy, but the weather wasn't high on his list of things to think about. His first priority was to talk to another student in private. He had a confession to make and he wanted to get it out as soon as possible.
Getting up, Atticus Rhodes pulled on his boots and left the room he shared with his sister. He was happy to be back with her and that she was in Duel Academy as well. He enjoyed teasing her in true big brother fashion. One area of teasing, however, was actually covering up his true feelings on the subject. That subject was teasing Alexis about Jaden Yuki. The truth was that Atticus really liked Jaden.
Even when he was brainwashed into thinking he was Night Shroud, he found the young Slifer attractive. His dueling wasn't too shabby, either. In a way, Jaden reminded him of his Red-Eyes Black Dragon. Fiery, spirited, and always fighting to the end. After that dark force was expelled, his attraction toward Jaden grew. Every day fed that attraction and caused it to grow even more. He couldn't deny this feeling any longer and headed for the Slifer dorm to track down the young duelist.
Knocking on the door that he knew was Jaden's room, he mentally rehearsed how he was going to do this. Perhaps he would suggest going down to the lighthouse to talk. Or maybe to the volcano where they first met. Or...
"Atticus?" a high-pitched voice said. Atticus flinched inwardly. He was hoping Jaden would answer. He quickly arranged his face into a pleasant smile.
"Hey, Syrus. Is Jaden around?"
"No. I'm not sure where he is. You could try the dock. He seemed rather thoughtful and people usually go to the dock to think."
"Okay. I'll check it out. Thanks."
"He's not in trouble, is he?"
Atticus chuckled. "No, of course not. I just want to talk." With a casual wave, Atticus strode off toward the dock.
Jaden stared at the ocean, his thoughts tumbling over one another. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and slowly let it out. With that exhalation, his mind relaxed and he felt less like his head was going to explode.
'Man, now I know why Zane come here so much. It's relaxing.'
Now that he was relaxed, he focused on the first thought that came to him. Oddly enough, it wasn't dueling. It was on an Obelisk Blue. An Obelisk Blue named Atticus. His feelings about Atticus were so mixed up this morning that he headed for the dock without a word to Syrus or Chumley.
When he found out that Night Shroud was actually an evil force controlling Atticus, he forgot any misgivings he had. After all, it wasn't Atticus who was in control at the time. Once the guy had fully regained consciousness, Jaden couldn't help but notice how...handsome he looked. His outlook on life was sunny like his own, yet it had an odd twist to it. But, hey, a little oddness never hurt.
As Jaden mused over his feelings, his fingers brushed the charm around his neck. He'd like to think that Atticus gave him his half as a sign of something more than helping to defeat Camula. Of course, that was just wishful thinking. Footsteps brought Jaden out of his musings. He had company. 'Probably Zane,' he thought. He waited for Syrus' brother to draw alongside him, but nothing happened. Curious as to the identity of his companion, Jaden turned around and saw Atticus standing there.
Atticus couldn't believe his luck. Syrus had pegged Jaden exactly right. Probably because they were friends and roommates. He stood there for a minute, admiring Jaden's form. He was a bit skinny, which was odd considering how much he ate. The red jacket, gray shirt, and white jeans formed an outfit that looked perfect on him. Just as he was about to rave more about Jaden, said boy turned around and a look of mild surprise flitted across his face.
Atticus didn't bat an eye. He kept his face neutral. "Hey, Jaden. I've been looking for you."
"There's something I want to tell you." Atticus looked at Jaden levelly, although his eyes strayed to the boy's lips. Atticus was then seized by an urge to kiss the boy. He could already imagine what it would be like. It would be soft, warm, and passionate. Oh, yes, very passionate. He heard Jaden's voice, but he didn't understand the words as he walked towards the Slifer student. For some reason, it seemed to take a while to reach Jaden, but he finally reached him. His hands went to the back of Jaden's head and pulled it towards him. Their lips met and it was as soft and warm as Atticus imagined. It wasn't passionate, but it would be in time.
Jaden was confused about Atticus' presence. That went away when Atticus said he had been looking for him to tell him something. Jaden waited for him to continue, but he said nothing. He just stood there looking like he was seeing something in his mind.
"Atticus? Everything okay?"
With that same odd look, the older boy began to advance. Alarmed, Jaden began to back up. Step by step, he retreated until the edge of his heels reached the edge of the dock. There was nowhere left to go! Plus, Atticus was still coming. Atticus reached out and put his hands behind Jaden's head. Jaden felt confused as he head was brought forward. Confusion turned to shock when his lips met Atticus'. He couldn't believe it. He was kissing Atticus! This was like a dream. Only it was real and Atticus had initiated it. 'Does this mean what I think it means?'
Atticus pulled aback and looked at Jaden. The younger man looked blissful and happy. In short, he looked like he wanted a kiss from him. Smiling, Atticus wrapped his arms around Jaden's waist. "I wanted to tell you that I love you, Jaden. My little dragon."
'His dragon?' Jaden went to take a step back to ask about that remark when his foot met air. His arms pinwheeled as he fell backwards and hit the water with a splash.
When Jaden resurfaced, Atticus was leaning over the edge, hand extended. "Are you okay, my dragon?"
Jaden took the offered hand and was hauled back onto the concrete dock. "I'm okay, but why are you calling me your dragon?"
"Because you're spirited like one."
"Really? I always thought I was like my Elemental Heroes."
"Nope. Definitely like a dragon. Or rather the Red-Eyes Black Dragon.
"Anyway, I said that I love you. What do you say about that?"
"Hey, I love you too. What else is there to say?”
"Nothing. How about I treat you to dinner at my dorm?"
At this invitation, Jaden noticed two things: One, it was dinnertime and two, he was going to eat in the Obelisk dorm tonight.
Jaden grinned at his new boyfriend. "Sure. Let's eat."
Atticus held Jaden's hand as they left the dock and headed for the Obelisk cafeteria. He knew Crowler was going to have a fit about Jaden having dinner with them, but he didn't care. Jaden was his and nobody was going to mess with him.
'Nobody will mistreat my little dragon anymore. I'll make sure of that.'
Chapter Two- The Shadow Realm
As the pair approached the dorm, Alexis was out front, arms crossed and a stern look on her face. Atticus dropped Jaden's hand. He didn't want Alexis to know just yet.
"Atti, where were you? I come back to our room and find you gone. You didn't even leave a note!"
"Sorry, sis. I just went for a walk and ran into Jaden here. I decided for him to eat with us tonight."
It was then that Alexis noticed they weren't alone. "Oh, hey Jaden."
"Hey Lex. Sure was nice of Atticus to invite me up here."
"That's only because you need to put some meat on your bones."
Jaden's face went blank. He wasn't sure what Atticus meant by that. Hell, he didn't know why Atticus had released his hand earlier. As the three of them headed inside, Jaden asked both questions.
"I was teasing with that comment. In answer to the second one, I'm not ready for people to know about us yet."
"Okay, I see."
"You need to keep on the ball Jaden. Ignorance won't cut it."
"Uh-oh," said voice in a singsong tone. "I think someone got lost."
Both boys turned to see Crowler standing there, a smirk on his girlish face. This was exactly who Atticus was thinking of when he vowed that no one would mistreat Jaden.
"He's not lost," Atticus stated. "I invited him."
"What!? A Slifer Slacker eating here!? That's, that's...unacceptable!"
Atticus shrugged. "Too bad, Doctor." Atticus draped an arm around Jaden's shoulder in a friendly gesture and steered the younger boy to the Obelisk cafeteria.
Atticus closed his eyes and a soundless sigh escaped his lips. The warmth of a body beside him snuggled closer. It had been easy to convince Alexis to let Jaden spend the night with them. Jaden, of course, had no objections to this plan. The idea of sleeping with Atticus left a warm and fuzzy feeling inside him.
Atticus rolled onto his side so that he was facing Jaden. He put an arm around the waist and pulled him closer as he drifted off to sleep.
He was surrounded by darkness with purple fog swirling around his knees. He looked around uneasily. It seemed as if the darkness was alive. It appeared to be closing in on him, suffocating him. He tried to run, but his legs refused to move. 'Where am I?' he wondered.
"Atticus," a voice echoed from the darkness.
"W-who's there?" he demanded.
"Atticus," the voice repeated. "You think you could leave our service. It's not that easy to escape the Shadow Realm."
The Shadow Realm! That's where he was. The darkness he perceived were actually shadows. He hated this place. It brought back those memories of those months of brainwashing.
"What do you want?"
"Want?" Laughter came from all around him. "We want you to cease your affections for the boy who sleeps beside you."
"Jaden? You want me to stop loving him? Forget it. You can't tell me what to do."
"Oh? You think so? If you don't end this love, his appearance will bear the spirit of his soul."
"Spirit of his soul? What does that mean?"
"Denounce your love now and you won't need to find out."
"You were warned." The words echoed in the air as the shadows dissipated, leaving Atticus alone in his mind, hoping it was just a bad dream.
Chapter Three- Spirit of the Soul
Sunlight fell across the face of Alexis Rhodes. Opening her eyes, she sat up and stretched before heading for the connecting bathroom. As she washed and dressed, she thought back to last night.
Atticus had been acting weirder than usual. He never invited other dorm students for dinner before. He had also been lavishing a lot of attention on Jaden. But, why? What did Jaden have that Atticus wanted? She decided to ask him after their guest had left.
She walked out of the bathroom and froze. Her brother was still asleep and had an arm across the waist of a...a...dragon! A black dragon. She knew it wasn't a plush doll because it was bigger and she could make out the rise and fall of its side. She stood there for another minute or so before letting out a scream, waking Atticus and the dragon.
Atticus was jolted from his sleep by a scream. He sat bolt upright and saw Alexis looking scared stiff. He checked himself over and saw nothing unusual.
"Sis, what's wrong? It's not me, is it?" Atticus grinned.
A silent shake and he lost his grin. Jaden! Something happened to Jaden! That threat from the Shadow Realm hadn't been a dream! Looking beside him, he found himself looking into the sleepy eyes of a Red-Eyes Black Dragon! The dragon was the same size as Jaden and the clothes Jaden had worn lay on the mattress in shreds.
"Oh no," he whispered to himself.
"Atticus, what's going on?" the dragon asked...in Jaden's voice! There was no denying who this dragon was.
"Jaden, I'm sorry," he answered.
"Jaden?" Alexis echoed. "Atticus, mind explaining?"
Giving a frustrated sigh, the Obelisk boy said, "Last night, I dreamed I was in the Shadow Realm. Somehow it found out that Jaden and I were in love. It threatened that if I didn't stop loving Jaden, well it said it would make his appearance reflect 'the spirit of his soul'."
Alexis' eyes went wide and her mouth fell open in shock. Her brother was gay? And Jaden was gay, too? "You love each other?" she said faintly. Great, another oddity in Atticus' odd behavior.
"Wait, you mean I'm not human?" Jaden, with his now longer neck, looked down at himself. He saw a black torso with black arms ending in wickedly sharp claws. His legs were black and dragon-shaped as were his feet. He became aware of a weight on his back and knew there were wings and a tail back there.
He stood up, clawed hands on top of his head (noting the horns) and said, "Oh, man. I'm a dragon!"
"Red-Eyes Black Dragon," Atticus corrected softly.
But Jaden didn't hear him. He was stroking his muzzle, moaning softly. He falls in love with a guy brainwashed by the Shadow Realm and he gets turned into a dragon. Well, his soul's spirit was like a dragon, so it made sense.
Alexis embraced Jaden, patting his back. "It'll be all right. We'll find a way to reverse this."
"How? Shadow magic did this, Lex."
"Atticus, didn't you say that this was a result of falling in love?"
"Yeah, I did."
"Well, stop loving Jaden and he'll be normal again."
"I can't. I love him too much, Lexi."
"If you love him, you'll leave him."
"I can't. Jaden, you understand, right?"
"I love you too, Atticus. But, I don't want to be a dragon for the rest of my life. We have to end this."
"What if I somehow assumed the threat?"
"You mean you becoming a dragon instead?"
"Yeah. It'll be like I disappeared again. I always did wonder what it would be like to be a dragon."
Jaden felt his determination to leave Atticus melt and be replaced with intense love. Atticus was willing to sacrifice his humanity so he could have his. But...
"What if it doesn't work?"
"I'll make it work. If I have to serve the shadows for eternity, then so be it."
"Uh, maybe you shouldn't go that far."
"I will if I have to. I vowed that no one was going to mess with you. That includes the shadows."
Jaden was silent. He didn't know enough about the Shadow Realm to know how it operated. He saw a few instances, but he didn't know its full extent. What if it didn't come when Atticus attempted to seek it out? What if it left them both as dragons? On second thought, it wouldn't leave them the same species. After all, the intent was to break them up.
All this went through Jaden's min before saying, "Oh. I didn't know that."
There was a brief silence before Alexis broke it. "We need to get to class."
Class! In all the confusion, the first year Slifer had forgotten it was Monday. The tip of his tail twitched. He couldn't go to class looking the way he did.
"Uh, guys, what am I going to do?"
"You can just hang out in our room," Alexis answered as she and her brother headed for the door. "If someone opens the door, run to the bathroom and hide in the tub. One of us will try to bring you some lunch." Waving, Alexis pushed Atticus out the door, grabbed her bag, and left, closing the door behind her.
Chapter Four- A Surprise Visitor
Jaden glanced about the room. He was aware of the fact that he could be spending an indefinite amount of time in this room. He didn't even consider the possibility that he might be stuck as a dragon. He was convinced that Atticus could fix this problem.
"At the very least I really am Atticus' little dragon," he laughed softly.
He began to take in his surroundings a little more closely. There were the two beds of course. There was also a sofa, a bookcase with books (not much interest there), a hanging full-length mirror...
A mirror! He had glanced at himself earlier, yes, but that's all it had been: a glance. He approached the reflective glass and saw exactly what he expected to see. A smaller version of the Red-Eyes Black Dragon.
Jaden had been napping on the sofa when a knock jolted him awake. He heard a second knock and jumped up, bolting for the bathroom. He was almost there when he heard Atticus' voice through the door.
"It's me, Jaden. I come bearing lunch."
Breathing a sigh of relief, Jaden opened the door, concealing himself behind it until Atticus was inside. He closed it behind the older boy.
"Hope you're hungry, 'cause I brought all I could carry."
"I'm starving. I haven't eaten since dinner."
Atticus grinned as he spread the food out on a table in front of the sofa. His grin widened as he watched the little dragon eat. Jaden was still as lovable as ever and dragon did seem to suit him. 'I can't stop loving him. I promise though, I will get the shadows to turn Jaden human and have me bear the curse. I'm the one who deserves it. Jaden didn't ask for this.'
"Uh, Atticus? You okay?"
Atticus shook himself from his thoughts. "Yeah, I'm fine. Why?"
"You were staring at me."
"Oh. I was just thinking that, even as a dragon, you're still cute."
"Is that all?"
"That's all. You know, if the Shadow Realm believed I wouldn't love you if you weren't human, it was wrong."
"If it were the other way around, I'd feel the same way."
"Our feelings aren't going to change."
"Nope. Not one bit."
"I need to get ready for class this afternoon."
"Okay. See ya later."
"Of course." Planting a kiss on one side of Jaden's muzzle, Atticus left.
Jaden smiled as he gathered up the empty plates and cups and threw them away. Spending lunch with Atticus was even better than dinner had been last night. There had been too many people around for them to be romantic. Plus, his red jacket made him stick out. He knew they wouldn't have another chance like this after today, so he decided to savor the one he just had and the one he would have tonight. Curling up on the sofa, Jaden fell asleep dreaming of spending a day of fun with his boyfriend.
Zane knocked on the door of Alexis' and Atticus' room. There was no answer. He saw Atticus enter just as he was about to enter his. He hadn't been in his room too long, so he assumed Atticus was still in.
Slowly and silently he opened the door, slipped in, and closed it behind him. He glanced around and saw the beds empty and the bathroom door open. Atticus wasn't around. Zane had hoped to talk to his friend before class. As he turned to leave, he heard a rustle coming from the sofa. He smiled a little. He had forgotten to check the sofa. Approaching from the back, he looked down, and blinked.
There, curled up and fast asleep, was a black dragon. It was no bigger than an average teenager, but it was no less deadly. The dragon shifted position, still asleep. Zane backed away, planning to confront Atticus and see if he knew a dragon was in his room. However, Zane tripped, landing hard on the floor. The thud he made alerted the dragon. Its head was visible above the sofa, turning its head on its long neck like a periscope. Its red eyes looked around and landed on Zane. There was a tense moment before the dragon bolted into the bathroom, locking the door behind it.
Zane, still frozen with fear, stared at the door in confusion. He had expected the dragon to attack, not flee. Clearly, it was a young dragon. At least, Zane believed it was young. Finding a live dragon was a major shock. Dragons, technically, don't exist. But, perhaps, they do exist. Shaking himself from his frozen state, he went over to the locked door, knocked on it, and said, "It's all right. I won't hurt you." No reply. Jiggling the knob, he added, "I'm a friend of Atticus'. I assume you know him."
This time, he got an answer. Only he recognized the voice. "I know you're his friend," came Jaden's voice.
"Jaden? What are you doing in there? And with a dragon?"
"Because I am the dragon."
"See, Atticus and I love each other-"
"You love each other!?"
"but the Shadow Realm didn't like it, so it turned me into a dragon in hopes of breaking us apart. Only it didn't."
"Would you come out so I don't have to talk through the door."
Zane heard the lock turn and the door swung open to show Jaden rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly. "Sorry," he said as they sat on the sofa.
"Who else knows of this?"
"Just Atticus and Alexis."
"Wouldn't it be easier to end your relationship with Atticus? You'll be human again if you do, correct?"
"Yeah, but we love each other too much. Atticus promises to fix it tonight." Jaden didn't detail the plan because he didn't want to upset Zane.
"I see. Well, I need to head to class. Should I tell Sy what happened?"
"No. Just say I'm sick and can't have anymore visitors."
"Very well, Jaden." Zane left the room, closing the door behind him. As he left the dorm, he reflected on the conversation. He found it weird that Atticus and Jaden were in love and even more weird was that they were being penalized by Jaden being a dragon. Perhaps, Atticus could provide the specifics.
Chapter Five- The Bargain
Jaden sagged with relief. He had been scared when he saw Zane and, keeping Alexis' instructions in mind, had fled to the bathroom. When he answered Zane, he hadn't counted on the older boy recognizing his voice. But, he did feel better having three people know about his situation instead of two.
"Man, I do hope Atticus does fix this," he said before falling asleep yet again.
Zane sat down beside Atticus in their afternoon class and whispered, "We need to talk."
Atticus, momentarily distracted, came to full alertness. "Huh, what? Talk about what?"
"What about him?" Atticus' voice was calm and neutral. If Zane hadn't talked to Jaden earlier, he wouldn't have known Atticus cared anything for the young Slifer.
"That you love one another and he's a dragon because of it."
Atticus forced a chuckle. "Are you drinking or something?"
"I saw him. I've talked to him."
"Oh." Atticus stared at his lap. First Alexis and now Zane.
"Jaden said you would fix it. What did he mean by that?"
"I plan to get the Shadow Realm to make me a dragon instead of Jaden."
"You can't!" Zane exclaimed.
"Is there a problem, Zane?" Crowler called from the front.
"No, Doctor," Zane replied, sitting up straight in his seat. As Crowler lectured, Zane kept looking at Atticus, feeling as if this was the last day he would see his best friend human.
Jaden awoke when he heard two successive knocks before the door opened. He didn't panic. He knew that when one knocks, they only knock once and wait for a while. So, when he heard two, he knew it was Atticus. Sure enough, he heard his boyfriend call, "Dinner, Jaden. It's just you and me for now, little dragon."
Grinning, Jaden leaped over the sofa's edge to where Atticus was spreading a blanket on the floor. Atticus briefly admired how gracefully Jaden leaped over the sofa. He could easily imagine himself doing the same move.
"So, how was your day?" Atticus asked, popping a rice ball into his mouth.
"Boring. The only thing I wanted to do was sleep."
"Are you going to be able to sleep, tonight?"
"Only if we're sharing your bed."
"Of course we are. Just don't claw me, okay?"
"Only if you don't, if you become a dragon."
Atticus held Jaden close to him, arm around the waist. Both had their eyes closed, yet neither were asleep.
"How long do you think it'll take for you to contact the Shadow Realm?"
"I really don't know, but I imagine it'll come to me."
"Oh. Should I expect a long wait?"
"Don't expect. Anticipate."
Jaden didn't really understand that response, so he dismissed it. "Okay," Jaden yawned when he said that word. "Good night."
"Sleep tight, Jaden."
Darkness surrounded him once more, but he was unafraid. He knew where he was, however, he was surprised it came to him so soon.
"That was fast," he muttered.
The shadows closed in on him and he heard that voice once again. "Learned your lesson yet, Atticus?"
"No and neither had Jaden. We still love each other. But, I'll make you a deal. Return Jaden to normal and I'll serve you as a dragon. Jaden didn't ask for this. If anyone's to be punished, it should be me."
"You would give up your humanity and your freedom for this boy?"
There was a long silence and Atticus fancied that he could sense the weight of wings and a tail on his back. Finally, the shadows spoke.
"Your love for the boy is strong and true. You've passed the test."
"Test? Wait, this whole thing was a test to see how strong my love for Jaden was?"
"Exactly. When the sun rises, Jaden Yuki will be human again." The pronouncement echoed as the shadows faded.
Sunlight fell across Jaden's face. He blinked against the sun's rays and automatically threw a hand up to block out the light. He looked at his hand and his mouth fell open. It was a human hand he was looking at! He looked himself over and hugged himself. He was human again! But...what about Atticus!? Was he a dragon now? Taking a deep breath, he looked beside him...
...and saw a human Atticus, sleeping soundly! Jaden couldn't believe it. Both of them were human. But, why? Reaching over, Jaden shook Atticus' shoulder.
"Atticus. Atticus, wake up!"
Brown eyes cracked open and slowly focused on him. A smile appeared on the face. "Morning, dragon. I'm glad you're human again."
"But, why are you still human?"
"Because the Shadow Realm was testing the strength of our love. When I offered to work for it as a dragon, it leaned how strong love can be."
"A test? All we went through was a test?"
Jaden then realized that he was naked and pulled the sheet up under his chin. "Uh, think I could borrow some clothes?"
"I think the shadows have taken care of that detail." Atticus pointed at the sofa where the same clothes Jaden had worn yesterday morning were laid out and undamaged. Atticus turned to face the door and closed his eyes to give Jaden some privacy. He heard the boy scramble out of bed, followed by the bathroom door closing. Only then did he open his eyes and get up to get dressed.
Two boys, one Obelisk and one Slifer, walked to the red dorm building near the beach. Both were relieved the incident was over, but knew that they would have to hide their relationship for a while. That was sure to be an adventure.
"For now, only Alexis and Zane know," Atticus remarked as they stopped outside Jaden's room.
"Yeah, for now." Jaden reached up and brought his lips to Atticus'. Atticus deepened the kiss as he put his arms around Jaden's waist while the younger boy put his around the neck. Neither one heard the door being opened.
"Ja, where have you-" Syrus started to say before his brain registered what he was seeing.
"AAAHHH!" The scream split the air, waking up the entire dorm and making the two boys wince. Oh, boy. They had some explaining to do.