Title: Trapped Thoughts: Spirits and Fusions (over-all); Gardenia: Sacrifice in Secrecy (chapter)
Author: (crysalice_bell )
Fandom: Yu-gi-oh GX
Prompt: Flowers (#7-Gardenia)
No. of Words (not including title and Author's Note): 3, 507
Pairing: implied Yuki JudaixJohan Andersen (main), JudaixYubel
Disclaimer: I don't own Yu-gi-oh GX.
Trapped Thoughts: Spirits and Fusion
GARDENIA: Sacrifice in Secrecy
It was a routine word spoken of by humans, but Amethyst Cat always wondered how Johan was able to say that with such cheer and sincerity to every Gem Beast who came to the dining room while he was making breakfast.
She would reply genially in return, and while she did appreciate this thoughtful gesture as much as the others did, she felt like he didn’t need to, if it was more of an obligation or a burden to him than something he was saying to the ones he cared so much for. But it was something that made him happy, an observation she shared with her fellow Gem Beasts, and they had no problems with it, Johan’s safety and happiness mattered the most to them as family.
Yet all eight of them were aware that they were partly the reason why he’d never be completely happy.
Could it even be resolved?
‘Judai...! It’s pointless in the state your body’s in! Rest up a bit. If push comes to shove, I’ll take your place!’
Everything had more or less been calm and normal after he had returned from Duel Academia, although that could possibly be attributed more to the fact that the dimensions were now in balance and both destructive Light and Darkness had been defeated by Judai.
Johan suddenly stopped in his tracks, the grocery bag containing ingredients for dinner he carried in his right hand swung back and forth from the change in momentum, as he looked to his right at the picturesque sun, blazing gold, but not sinking. It was already late afternoon, but the sunset wasn’t fading away to a dark night. The sun remained in the sky, an illusion of a world with a never-ending light.
‘So it’s that time of the year already...’
It was like a marvel of nature. For a few months every year, the night would not come and only a faint shadow of darkness blanketed the land. The darkness wouldn’t be able to hide the secrets that often flourished under its cover. This was the phenomenon of the midnight sun that would last for around three months.
Ruby manifested herself on his shoulder, trilling softly before joining him in enjoying the scenery. Cobalt Eagle, who’d been flying overhead, roosted beside him alongside Topaz Tiger. They were all in spirit forms, though he’d imagine it to be quite amusing if they weren’t because people would think of him as a teen with strange pets who accompanied him on grocery shopping.
A sudden strong wind blew past, sweeping dust and fallen leaves from the ground into a whirling dance towards the sky. His spirit partner shivered and moved closer, finding a little bit of comfort in being slightly shielded by the collar of his shirt.
Honestly though, this was the first time in a long while that he had the chance to just look and enjoy the scenery like this. He didn’t think time would fly when everyday felt so... quiet.
Searching for Rainbow Dragon... it was already over. When he’d first learned of the Gem God’s existence, finding it became his goal in life alongside his new family. He’d always thought that he will be able to receive the card at his doorstep after the ruins where its tablet was hidden had been excavated. It was definitely more probable than getting Rainbow Dragon in an adventure in a different dimension where Duel Spirits became real. It was far-fetched and more like something out of a fantasy of an idle and dreaming mind, but as much as it was like that, it actually happened. What better proof was there than the spirit of Rainbow Dragon flying in the sky over the town every day?
He attained his goal but...
The Gem Beast duelist stared thoughtfully at his left palm, feeling it tingle a little and, dare he imagine it, shiver from something not of the wind.
His body... No, his soul... yearned for something.
He knew what it was, having figured it out sometime ago. But it was wrong. He shouldn’t. If he were to pursue it, what would happen to the calmness now? He’d shatter it like the deceptively sturdy thing it was. Yet it didn’t stop nudging at the back of his mind.
‘You handle the rest! I’ll handle this duel on my own!’
‘Instant Magic! Prism Wall! All attacks now target me instead!’
Meanwhile, back in the porch of Johan’s house, the five remaining Duel Spirits were engaged in a serious discussion, far from the ‘hearing’ of their spiritual connection with Johan.
“He still hasn’t gotten over it, has he?” Emerald Turtle spoke up gravely.
“Of course. But he’s hiding it. He always chooses that option. He did that when he first came to Duel Academia, remember?” Amethyst Cat sat on the ground, her sleek pink tail swishing.
Sapphire Pegasus ruffled his wings before folding it at the sides. He was the leader of the Gem Beasts and he knew of this problem but didn’t bring it up for discussion with the others and especially Johan. It was an unspoken agreement with everyone. The wounds, physical and emotional, were still fresh and saying it would be even more painful. They were unsure of how Johan would react, given his nature. While they definitely suffered, it was definitely less harsh compared to Johan’s.
But now that things were peaceful, it was easier to remember times like those in the moments of calm they all have. Perhaps that was the case with Johan as well if their observations of him were anything to go by.
However, was now the time to talk about it? Or should they just leave things the way they were, if it could possibly make Johan even more confused than he already was?
“I think we should resolve this matter.” Rainbow Dragon was still majestic in presence even when he was in spirit form. He was floating a few inches above the ground, the Gem Beasts definitely smaller in comparison, but the upper part of his serpentine body was lowered on level with them. “Change is something he has to undergo, be it painful or not. This matter is a burden to him and he will never be able to look towards the future if we let this be.”
“Neither can we.” Sapphire Pegasus looked toward his other companions. “But are we ready to forgive?”
Amber Mammoth said, “I think Johan already had. He helped Judai fight off the evil Darkness that threatened the universe, even though her presence was definitely there with him.”
“I felt her spirit in there as well.” Rainbow Dragon dipped his head. “However, I am unsure if he also was aware of her existence, or he just ignored it of his own volition.”
Emerald Turtle closed his eyes in contemplation. “Perhaps we were unaware of it that time because of the danger posed by the Darkness, but maybe... We have already forgiven her as well. It is no longer the foremost issue in our minds. We did not protest when Johan and Judai teamed up to defeat Darkness.”
“I would be lying if I said I was not angry with her for what she did to us... and to Johan.” Amethyst Cat’s light purple eyes reflected pain of the past behind it. “I can say that I’ll probably never forgive her, if not for Johan. If Johan, who has suffered even more, can forgive her, how can I not? Though I do want to know why he’s able to.”
“We will never know the answer to that if we just talk about it with us,” Amber Mammoth replied.
Sapphire Pegasus looked far out the road where Johan would be walking back from. “Then... It is time we settle this.”
‘Judai! It’s been my dream to use my duelling to save everyone. And now, the time’s come to make that wish come true!’
‘I leave the rest to you!’
Johan was eating dinner when his phone suddenly rang, indicating that a message had just arrived. Only Ruby was with him in the room, strangely enough. Usually, Topaz Tiger or Amethyst Cat would lounge on the floor, acting like the felines they were. Shrugging, he was just about finished eating anyway so he gulped down his water and carried the dishes to the sink before washing his hands and checking out the message.
“Judai...” he murmured. His best friend, like usual, had sent a mail asking how he’d been doing. He felt himself unconsciously smiling sadly a little before he heard a very familiar voice speak up.
“Why don’t you ask him to come by?”
Johan dropped the phone in shock as he turned around to find Amethyst Cat by the door of the dining room.
“Amethyst Cat...” His shock turned to confusion. “Wait, what are you saying? That’s not possible. He’s travelling the world and he has a lot of important things to do. I can’t just...”
He trailed off, unable to tell what he wanted to the female feline Gem Beast. He opted to pick up the phone, his action like a stone dropped into a pond, sending minute ripples of disturbance into the stream of calmness and seemingly awkward silence.
At that moment, Ruby Carbuncle jumped down from his shoulder to the floor in front of him before turning around and looking up at him with sad eyes. “Rubi... Rubii, rubibi, rubi...”
‘Do you... still sacrifice yourself for him even if he is not here...?’
“Ruby?” Johan’s surprise returned as his attention turned to her and what she just said although he had to look back at Amethyst Cat again when she uttered:
“Johan... All of us would like to talk with you outside.”
‘Reverse card open! The One Worth Protecting!’
‘... and then I lose life points equal to the monster that has been sent to the grave.’
‘... It’s not over, Judai. If you are standing at the very end of this duel... it’s okay.’
The sun was still shining up in the sky so when Johan came out of the door with Amethyst Cat and Ruby, he didn’t even have to find to see the spirits of Rainbow Dragon and the other Gem Beasts in the front porch.
Cobalt Eagle was perched on Emerald Turtle’s shell while Topaz Tiger was seated on the grass beside the shelled Gem Beast. Amber Mammoth stood mightily behind them. Sapphire Pegasus was in the air along with Rainbow Dragon but he flew down towards the ground a distance in front of Johan. Amethyst Cat and Ruby Carbuncle trotted over to where the others were.
“Everyone... What’s going on?”
“Johan...” The leader of the Gem Beasts spoke up first. “Please do not hide it from us. You are avoiding trying to see Judai. Is it because of Yubel?”
The blue-haired teen’s face looked grim as he took Sapphire Pegasus’ words in. He replied after a short contemplation, “Yes... and no. Yes, she’s the reason why but it’s probably not for the reason you expect.”
Amber Mammoth said in a serious tone, “Johan. We are talking about this so you can finally rid yourself of the worries it brings you but if you would rather not...”
“... No, you’re right.” Johan sat down cross-legged on the grass. “It’s probably better to settle this now.” He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, seemingly to prepare himself, then looked at his family with an expression that showed he was ready.
Topaz Tiger voiced out the question that everyone had in mind. “So you have forgiven Yubel for what she did to you?”
“Yes, I have,” Johan replied calmly. He looked up at the sky, now cloudier so the glare of light was lessened. “I’ve forgiven her for what she did because... I understood her reasons.”
“What do you mean?” Cobalt Eagle asked.
“Well...” Johan rubbed the back of his head. “She put me... my soul, in Rainbow Dark Dragon, right? While I was asleep, I saw what must have been her memories unconsciously flowing to my mind. I guess it was because we were connected in a way back then.”
Amethyst Cat echoed, “Her memories?”
Light green eyes lidded close in recollection. “... I dreamt of a prince who made a promise to love a young boy... who sacrificed himself to turn into a dragon that can’t be killed and would protect him forever.”
“You know my feelings, don’t you?” Opening his eyes, the teen glanced at all of the Gem Beasts, receiving varying worried and serious stares in return. “I wouldn’t have forgiven her either. Though maybe I would eventually, in time, when everything would feel like just a nightmare of the past. But it would have taken a long time, as long as the nightmares haunt me in my sleep. When would it have stopped though? It’s been months already and it’s still not over.”
Emerald Turtle sagely replied, “Johan, you may have forgiven Yubel, but it’s not the end. Your feelings are preventing you from completely relieving yourself of the burden of the past.”
“By hiding your feelings, you are sacrificing yourself... your happiness. When you met Judai, you were equals. It’s the foundation of the relationship between you that spans beyond and has helped both of you defeat the darkness in your hearts. But after he had gained his powers, he’s above you now... Or is he really, Johan?” Sapphire Pegasus inquired, blue eyes piercing straight in challenge.
Johan was slightly taken aback by that and it was sheer willpower that kept him from backing down from it. He frowned and contemplated, his eyes not making contact with anyone. “He’s... Even if he has new powers, he’s still the Judai who travelled dimensions to save me... Yet he didn’t have any problems about me fighting beside him in that duel against Fujiwara, in a duel that decided the fate of everyone. I’m still beside him, not behind him...” He brought up his right hand and fisted it.
“... When I learned that everyone in Duel Academia was in trouble, I rushed to Domino without thinking. And when I saw Judai there and he didn’t recognize me, all I had in mind was to get him back to his senses. I didn’t question him if Yubel was there nor did I wonder why she didn’t lash out at me if she was there. Fujiwara and Darkness threatened to destroy the world and there was absolutely nothing else that mattered back then. Now that everything is calm and he’s so far away, I wonder why I think about these things now, or why I didn’t ask him these while I was with him. I guess it’s true what people say about realizations hitting you when you least expect it, huh?” The hints of a sad smile made its way.
“Bibi...!” Ruby ran over to Johan but unlike the usual she didn’t climb to his shoulder but remained in front of him, putting her front paws on his knees, her drooped ears confirming the emotions she felt, even if she could not say it in human words. “Rubii...”
The European champion smiled and patted his spirit partner’s head tenderly. “You were right back then, Ruby. We’re equals but I am sacrificing myself for Judai. Actually, I always had, ever since I met him, perhaps even before I knew that I was doing it. I guess it was the way my feelings wanted to show themselves since I purposefully hid them. I know you’re all worried for me...” He then looked each and every one of them completely without any reservations in directing his gratitude. He smiled sincerely. “... I couldn’t have asked for a better family.”
“Johan!” was the cry of six different voices that the teen himself heard before he was pounced by Ruby Carbuncle, Amethyst Cat and Topaz Tiger. Sapphire Pegasus trotted closer with Amber Mammoth. Emerald Turtle wasn’t too far behind with Cobalt Eagle having taken off from where he was perched on the green Gem Beast’s shell and into the sky shortly before landing close to the others again. Rainbow Dragon just lowered his head at level to everyone.
“Everyone...” Johan’s smile grew wider as he now lay on his back on the grass.
“We’re sorry, Johan. We weren’t able to help you in that other world. When Yubel took your body, we couldn’t do anything. Even now, you hide your feelings because you value our own feelings and think that we would disapprove or not accept them wholeheartedly,” Sapphire Pegasus said truthfully.
“But...” Amethyst Cat continued, “... you don’t have to, Johan. What kind of family would we be if we were the ones troubling the heart of our own kin?”
Emerald Turtle added, “It’s not going to be easy to forgive. But we can all do it, even if it’s a slow process. And we are all willing to make that effort for you, Johan.”
Cobalt Eagle raised one large brown wing. “Because we’re family. And that’s what being a family is about, isn’t it?”
“You don’t have to apologize, everyone. What matters is that we’re all back, right? And I’m glad... but you all don’t have to force yourself if you don’t want to,” Johan admitted.
“No... This is something we have decided with our own will,” countered Topaz Tiger after he got up from tackling Johan. “We need to learn how to change and accept, just like you do. Well, we are also doing it for you because it would relieve you of your worries but we would also have forgiven her eventually, it’s just that, if it weren’t for you, it would have been an extremely long time before it happened.”
“Johan...” Rainbow Dragon spoke for the first time since the conversation began and his deep imposing voice earned the attention of not only the teal-haired teen but the Gem Beasts as well, and they all turned towards him. The Gem God lifted the upper part of his body, such that he was now overlooking everyone, the midnight sun still high up in the sky forming a corona of golden light behind him. “That is the choice we have made. All of us are prepared to face the past. Now, the rest is up to you. Our decision has lifted a great weight from you and your trial in confronting your past and your feelings. But the final choice, of whether you will persist in your self-sacrifice, or take the first step towards dealing with this challenge, rests in the decision of your heart.”
The Gem Beast duelist listened intently and afterwards remained in silence. Everyone else also kept quiet, awaiting the answer that would come out from Johan’s lips. And then...
Johan began, “I—“
The ringing of Johan’s phone not only surprised the Duel Spirits and the owner himself but also broke the atmosphere. Still lying down, Johan fished the culprit out and held the gadget in front of him, the device seemingly small in the background of the syrupy sky. He opened the mail and read it.
‘Johan, can I come and visit you?’
“Judai...” Johan murmured with happiness although he could not certainly deny how funny the coincidence was. He was certain that Judai didn’t actually need to ask for permission to come, he’d told him before that he would always be welcome in his house. But for Judai to do that... perhaps it was not only the Gem Beasts who thought it was time to resolve the situation.
His past haunted him, and he originally thought that it was just better to withstand it in silence for fear of complicating the situation and destroying the unspoken truce between Judai, Yubel, the Gem Beasts and himself. But the Gem Beasts and Rainbow Dragon were right, he was suffering for it in the present, and so would his future. The nightmares won’t stop and he’d never be able to move on.
‘There are times when it’s better to confront the situation head-on than to let the issues remain unsolved, huh?’
He lowered the phone to his chest and stared at the sky. There was no discernible sunrise or sunset when it was the months of the midnight sun, although the sunrise could still actually be seen, it just didn’t seem that drastic a change it made from darkness to light anymore. The sun would only move a few inches up or down during the day but otherwise was in the same position.
‘The sun won’t set for my past, nor will the sun rise for my future until I settle things in the present. The sun will remain stuck between sunrise and sunset.’ The allusion to the natural phenomenon surprisingly fit. ‘And maybe Judai feels the same.’
Johan looked at the message again. He closed his eyes and smiled, before whispering his reply to the winds.
To be continued...
GARDENIA: “I love you in secret”
1) Johan’s homeland has never been stated within the series, however majority do agree on Scandinavian, given his name. Scandinavia geographically is made up of Norway, Denmark and Sweden however some consider Finland, Iceland or Greenland part of it as well. Either way, Andersen is the usual spelling of the name in Norway/Denmark, and for the fic, I have tagged his hometown as Norway, solidified by the next note.
2) The midnight sun is an actual natural phenomenon in countries south of the Arctic Circle and Antarctic Circle (in this area, sometimes north) during the months of April to August, though it varies depending on what latitude the country is positioned. Among them is Canada (mostly northwest territories), Russia, Finland, Denmark, Norway and many more. Notable of these is Norway, which has been dubbed ‘Land of the Midnight Sun’. Like the fic describes, the sun stays in the sky for 24 hours, with virtually no sunset. Only the places at the extreme poles experience this from April to August, the countries farther from the pole but still within the set latitude only experience them for a few weeks at the least and three months at the most. Norway in particular has most of its towns experience this phenomenon in the range of middle May to late July, which is why Johan in the fic said it as three months. The sun actually still rises this time; it’s just not that easy to see anymore. You can look up more on this occurrence if you want a clearer picture.
3) Ruby cannot speak human language but canon has shown that Johan does understand and interpret what she says as if she’s saying a sentence. Oh and Ruby is generally considered a girl because of her voice.
All comments and suggestions are appreciated.
This is also posted on Fanfiction.net. More Author's Notes in there.
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