|Fall or Fly
Author: WikketKrikket PM
Sequel to AfI, WyG. Az is long since gone, but those she left behind still carry on. The friends she had and the children that have grown up have adventures of their own to follow: pity it's easier said then done!Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance - Seto K. - Chapters: 7 - Words: 73,613 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 09-30-07 - Published: 01-03-07 - id: 3323562
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: …Well, I was determined to make a September update! (Sweatdrop) Heh heh… As promised, August was mad. I went to Romania for a ten day mission, and on holiday, and all sorts of things. Then I started college! (Here in England, you leave school at sixteen and go onto a sixth form college, and then a university at eighteen.) College is the awesome! All my lessons are brilliant, except Critical Thinking… but I can write in Critical Thinking, so is all good. Ah well, life goes on. I'll admit that I'm finding this fic a real struggle to write (Ouran one-shots are so much easier!!) but I'm DETERMINED to update this monthly. (AfI was thrice weekly, IMM was weekly, and WyG bi-weekly… I'm getting worse…) Hopefully, it'll be all done by Christmas, in time to start SHSII! Whoo! Then, after that, I doubt I'll be producing anymore YGO fiction… but let's just get on with the chapter, shall we?
Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh, even now, after all these years. What a bombshell. XD
The next morning, Seto was glaring at a door. Or to be precise the door. Azreal had disappeared, but in order to tell weather she'd done another runner, he'd first have to check the entire mansion systematically. Which meant this one came now. He certainly wasn't going to come back to it. Gritting his teeth, he opened the door and stepped through.
The first thing that struck him was the cold. And it was no wonder, he saw, as the stain glass doors had been flung wide open and had presumably been all night. He shut them, glaring at a set of doors for the second time that morning. He had never liked those doors… He didn't think his step-father had, or Mokuba did either. They were just creepy. Like they were always… watching. And yet every time he went with the intention to take them down, he remembered something that needed doing right away. Every single time. So, the room had been left to rot alone. Until now, it seemed.
Azreal was lying on the sofa, sleeping. If it could be described as that. It seemed more of a tossing, turning and writhing activity then sleeping. Even half way across the room, Seto could see the sweat breaking out on her face and body.
And it worried him.
Sighing, he went to fetch a blanket and returned to cover her quivering form. She looked so small and fragile, curled up around herself like that…
And she had claimed not to be sick.
Trees ripped past below them, merging into one seamless green mess. The sky turned over, blue and white, the sea or the sky. Surging green and brown, as Maya flew out of control. Yami and Tomasu dangled hopelessly from her arms, and Michael clung to her back between those horrid wings that beat furiously, out of time, next to him; his feet dangling at a level with hers. At that moment, he had few thoughts beyond his terror, but those he did have were not busy worrying about why Maya suddenly had wings or how he'd almost rather be back in the cave and drowning, but with Maya herself. She was clearly out of control, manic, mad.
"Maya!" He yelled, over the incredible wind that had formed around them. "Maya!" He was clinging on around her neck, and spoke into her ear. "Maya, please, calm down! Please! Maya!"
Still she flew, feathers falling from her wings and swirling away, not listening to reason, perhaps not able to hear, trapped a long way away in some far corner of her mind; while the electric in her brain was shocked and jumped and made connections it hadn't before. The opening up of a new quarter of her blood and genes came as quite a shock to body and soul, and it was overloaded, out of control, unstoppable; combined with the emotional turmoil of the letter from her mother, with years of lies, the joy of knowledge and the betrayal of it, the fact it had finally been given.
And then it stopped. They began to fall like stones, and they sped towards the ground, skimming along not fifty centimetres above it's surface; before, finally, the wings fizzled out and with a last flurry of feathers, disappeared. Maya lay crumpled on the floor as the others tentatively pulled themselves into sitting positions, examining new bruises, blinking in shock. No-one spoke. What was there to say? What they had seen was… wrong. Unbelievable. Gradually, they turned to look at the creature, the girl, that lay in their midst. That had somehow saved their lives.
She hadn't moved.
"Maya…?" Yami said, tentatively, daring to go a little closer. "Maya…? What happened?"
There was no response.
"Maya, please." Yami said, quietly; and with a display of the strength of character her parents had been so proud of, admitted. "Please, we're scared."
She suddenly groaned and rolled over, causing Yami to start backwards, and was violently sick. The vomiting subsided quickly, but still Maya did not return properly, sweating and shaking and shivering slightly, looking to one side with unfocused eyes.
Yami swallowed, the only sign of how unnerved she was. "We need to get help for her." She said, looking around them. "We're in the deep forest somewhere, it can't be that hard to find the castle again. I'm going to find a teacher. Light a fire, it'll be dark soon, and we'll need to be able to find you." She ran off.
"Yami-!" The two boys began to protest together, but she had already disappeared, and they were interrupted by a quiet voice. Maya. Michael, dreading what he would see and hear, edged closer.
But she wasn't talking to them.
"Who…?" Maya began, blearily. Everything was tired and aching, it felt like her limbs were very far away from one another and all in the wrong place, and the three almost identical women kneeling to her side, smiling at her, who had followed them all this way only served to increase her confusion.
"Oh, now she can see us." One remarked with an eye roll, her blond hair streaked with grey. "It's only taken sixteen years."
"Stop your grousing, can't you?" Another said, with surprising tolerance. Her hair, between masses of grey, had the last vestiges of red; and the third woman's hair appeared to be green. Maya might have been more confused at this, but then, they all seemed to have wings, and that felt the more pressing issue. Particularly as she thought she recalled flying herself, only moments before.
"Who…?" She began again, but her words seemed to be caught up in her fever, and sentences were a struggle. "Who are you…?"
"Ssh," the green-haired one said, gently, placing a hand on her forehead. "You're burning up… it's been too much. So just lie still and quiet and we'll explain everything."
Maya stayed quiet, but not because of the request to. The hand on her face felt peculiar, warm and cold all at once, but there was something else. Something familiar, and yet different, in that touch. And though the world was in confusion, for that moment in time, Maya's memory had absolute clarity, and she had no doubt where she had felt that touch before. The hand was, not quite, but almost, her mother's. But time changed hands, didn't it?
It made no sense. Nothing made sense, except that touch.
"No. Not your mom, her sisters. Your aunts, Maya, your family."
Ever since the day of their birth, the Kiyoko triplets had been special. It was hardly surprising, considering their father was an up-and-coming power in politics and their mother the best muse seen for a long time. Still, whoever their birth parents were, the three girls were truly the daughters of Wherever. The marriage hadn't worked out between the young parents, and the politician was discredited, but Millierie came out of it alright. To begin with, anyway. When she disappeared for years, and the girls grew up with their grandparents, no-one thought anything of it except that she must have been on another mission. There was no small amount of surprise when their mother returned with a hybrid daughter in tow, but it couldn't be helped. She was young, and had been undoubtedly missing her first husband; and once she was promoted to the head of the Musing corporation no-one doubted her. They just ignored her fourth child as much as they could, hearing about any misdeed of the mixed-blood through the papers.
The triplets, however, were a joy to read about. Constantly top of their classes, each presenting high skill levels in everything they tried and excelling each in a field of their own, great things were expected of Ruby, Emerald and Opal. They quickly proved this right, becoming the youngest muses ever at the age of twelve. Their younger sister didn't get it till she was thirteen. All of the cities celebrated on their graduation day, reminding one another that triplets were extremely rare- these were the first set in a hundred years or so- and that they were destined to bring luck and be lucky themselves. In the eyes of the people, they could do no wrong; and so it continued as their whirl-wind careers began.
Each of the girls could be counted on to contribute in their own ways, beyond simply inspiring their charges. Over their lives, each of them inspired countless humans, but it was more then that. Opal, for instance, had the highest tested IQ seen for a long time; and she came up with dramatic, effective new methods for musing as quickly as if she had read them elsewhere. Emerald did not share her sister's love for books, but she seemed have endless supplies for every living creature. She reminded them of compassion, campaigned for civil rights for groups less fortunate, created beautiful gardens in a place that had no soil, and showed them the nature in the world they had left behind. Then there was Ruby, the most effective muse in written records, the one who seemed able to do anything, able to speak and decide and lead. There was no doubting that she would take over from her mother, and indeed, had worked as second-in-command most of her adult life, in preparation.
These girls had always been their princesses, so imagine their delight when Ruby was seventeen and it was revealed she was dating one Lira Klio, one that was very successful and giving Ruby a run for her money. The fourth Kiyoko girl kept accusing him of illegal activity, but no-one believed her. Not until that messy affair involving Azreal's exile, that Seto Kaiba, and the inspiration of a webcomic author. Ruby had been devastated, and the people with her, at this betrayal; yet she picked herself up and carried on, and it seemed nothing more would go wrong. Klio, they said, died much later on Earth; but nobody really cared.
Of course, this was far from the end of the triplet's story. For one thing, they played a vital role in the saving of Wherever, of course; though admittedly that was more down to Azreal. Clearly, she had inherited her family's greatness and her human genes weren't detrimental at all. Actually, no-one could quite recall why they hadn't liked her to begin with; and many more would claim they had to begin with. But what did it really matter? Azreal had refused to live in Wherever, had gone to Earth with Kaiba and married him, lived as a human because she had lost her muse style. However, she had been remembered as a hero, and her rare visits to Wherever had always been greeted with delight. She'd had a daughter and died a few short years afterward, apparently. Her husband had allowed her to be given a proper muse funeral, being fed to the nothing, because he had known how much she had been afraid of being buried below the ground. Muses were of air and water; they were not be buried in the earth or burnt in the fire. Obviously, that was the last anyone ever heard of Azreal or her family.
The triplets had disappeared from the spotlight, more or less, too. They had continued with their work, although Ruby and Millierie had been doing a lot towards letting the humans know of muse existence, working with someone called Kaho Bijou, a muse down on Earth.
But, for now, all three were on holiday; meeting their niece properly at long last.
"Right." The woman smiled. "I'm Emerald, that's Opal, and that's Ruby. We we're your mother's sisters."
"Half-sisters, technically, on her mother's side." Ruby added, kindly. "But we never saw it like that. We've been waiting quite a while for you to find out what your mother was, what you are. We weren't sure you'd be able to ever see us in this form."
"I…don't understand…" She mumbled. The words and stories contained in the letter were coming back to her. But it just wasn't possible. Wouldn't someone have told her? But it wasn't possible. Was it?
"There's muse in you." Opal stated, in her matter of fact way. "A quarter."
"How…can I… it's…"
"Maya." Michael begged at her side, shaking her shoulder. He spoke more, but she ignored him.
"Your mother was very important to us, Maya." Emerald said, quietly. "We've been waiting a long time to speak to you. You got your wings out… you flew, which is meant to be impossible… you must know what Azreal was."
"Azreal was what we called her, her muse name." Ruby supplied. "But we can talk later. For now, you'd be better off getting some sleep. And…" She smiled. "I think your friend is worried. He can't see us, after all."
Michael couldn't cope with this anymore, couldn't stand to see her this way, talking to people that weren't there. Her delirium terrified him as much as the inexplicable flight they'd taken. He didn't understand, but it seemed unimportant as Maya's delusions continued.
"I… don't understand…" She was saying, voice heavy, as though she was struggling to push the words out towards the trees on her other side. "How… can I… it's…"
"Maya." Michael said, begged, shaking her shoulder. Still, she lay with her back to him. "Maya, come on, there's no-one there."
"My mother…?" She whispered.
Michael swallowed, and then shuffled around, kneeling in front of her face. Her eyes did not flick to his, moving instead to one side. "Maya… there's no-one there. Please, look at me, Maya."
"My mother…" She said again, in the same tone of confusion, her eyes half shut again. Michael felt her forehead, and it was as hot and sweaty as ever. He felt ridiculously frightened; it was almost like when he was just a kid and Wren had been taken into hospital very suddenly. He couldn't imagine a future where she wouldn't survive, but at the moment, he couldn't imagine anything else.
"Maya, your mother is dead!" He said, and asked again. "Come on, Maya, look at me. I'm here. No-one else… Just me, and Tomasu. But no-one else. So look at me."
She finally did, as if seeing him for the first time. "…Can't you see them?" She whispered.
"There's no-one to see, Maya. So just look at me." Michael answered, trying to keep his voice strong. She just stared at him in bleary confusion.
"Here." Michael was startled by Tomasu's sudden presence. He'd returned, some form of damp cloth in his hand, torn from his clothes. He'd found a cool stream nearby, and although it had tasted salty and they could not drink, it would at least be enough to cool a fever; he hoped. He had never been in a situation like this before, and unsure of the proper action to take, he placed it on Maya's forehead. Her gaze was slipping to one side again, she didn't seem to be paying attention at all, as if listening to someone else talk, though they both kept muttering encouraging things to her. Finally, her eyes flittered back to Michael's face again, and she smiled a little.
"I…believe them…" She mumbled to him, and suddenly, from nowhere, he felt a light pressure brush against his arm. He jolted, and turned his head, and for a moment thought there really was someone, a slight haze, or some people, huddled next to him; but he blinked and they were gone, and Maya had fallen into a silent sleep.
Ruby, Emerald and Opal hadn't seen much of their mother for the first eight years of their lives. In fact, for all of their living memory, they'd grown up with their grandmother. But they didn't mind. Their mother was on an important job, they were told, that was taking a very long time; so they were content with the rare visits.
But now, today, their mother was coming home; after six long years, and at least three since they had last seen her. They weren't nervous, of course, the idea that someone could not love them was still foreign to them. Millierie didn't know this, and when she ran and hugged her girls, she was terrified of being pushed away. However, they seemed happy to see her, and she was glad. So glad.
"Why is there a girl behind your legs?" Opal enquired, simply.
"Is she shy?" Emerald asked.
"A little, I think." Millierie smiled as best she could, and took her youngest daughter's wrist. "Azreal, come out here. These are the girls I told you about."
"Who is she, mom?" Ruby asked.
"She's your little sister; she's going to be living with us too."
"Can she talk?" Opal asked, staring at the new arrival.
"Yes!" The little one protested. "I can, I can talk, talk a lot!"
"And fast." Ruby laughed, and the little girl laughed uncertainly too.
"Well, hello then, Azreal." Emerald said, solemnly.
Azreal just looked quizzically up at her mother. "She got my name wrong, 'cause my name's not Azreal, it's Anna Rhapsody Mitsan and she called me Azreal, didn't she?"
"I told you, duckie, your name is Azreal now."
The little girl was silent for a moment, but then nodded. "Okay."
"Good girl. Now, why don't you girls go and play while I talk to your grandmother?"
"Okay." Ruby said, and turned to her two counterparts. "Let's go play hide-and-seek in the metals!" They began to leave when she remembered, and turned back to the little girl who standing there uncertainly. "Do you know how to play?" She demanded.
Azreal nodded furiously.
"Can you count?"
More nods. Then, sounding slightly ashamed, Azreal added "Only I get all mixed up after twenty."
"You'd better just hide, then." Ruby shrugged.
Emerald took her hand and smiled at her new younger sister. "We play on this old strip that isn't used anymore. I'll show you- it's our secret place, but as you're a Kiyoko now, I think it's okay."
Those were important words, words of belonging. She was a Kiyoko now.
"This better be good…" Ruby grumbled as she stepped through the other end of the Vortex, sopping wet. "I had to jump through a Venetian Canal to get here, and now-" Her complaints were stopped dead in their tracks as she saw the scene in front of her. "Lira…?"
His eyes snapped open as she came and knelt next to him. "Ruby?"
"What have you done to yourself?" She asked, horrified.
"Ruby!" He cried desperately. He knew he had only seconds before he died. He had to tell her, or he'd be trapped. "Ruby! Ruby, Ruby Ruby… I love you. I just realised… I love you…"
Ruby stared at him. "I'm sorry." She said, turning away. "I heard that too many times before, and it was always a lie, Lira. I can't believe you…"
Lira didn't care. He'd told her. But he still had to ask. "Do you love me?"
"Then… Do you hate me?"
"Good…" Lira sighed. "That's good…" His eyes closed. "It's still not taking me, is it…? My soul will be trapped…"
"You have to tell us how to get out of this dome." Azreal said, coming close again. "You have to tell us how to get out, and why we're here, and what we have to do…"
"Up." Lira said simply. "Up. Upupupupupupupupup…" He smirked, a shadow of his former self. "The rest you do, lazy." His eyes closed for the last time.
Azreal sucked in a breath. Had they made it in time?
Yes. They were forced to cover their eyes as the white tendrils snaked with impossible power up his legs, over his body, before exploding into a large flash of light and then dying down into a gentle glow where you could just make out the body dissolving.
Lira Klio had made it into the Nothing. It was more then he deserved.
Azreal went over to her sister, both of them crying without really knowing why.
"I have to go."
She sighed. "I know. Valour and Honour, right?"
"Exactly." He smiled.
Opal snorted, trailing her fingers under the trickle of water from the fountain, sparkling in the star light. They were sitting on the stone edge of the fountain right in the centre of Wherever, where they had been so many times, and she had just heard something she'd really rather not. "You are… incredibly stupid, Jay."
"What, worried I'll die on you?" He smirked.
"Of course." She admitted. "You'll never make it down to check the pump. You know as well as I do that, even with the best protective gear, you'll be dissolved before you even get close. The Nothing is at a height and strength unlike any we've ever seen before." She sighed ruthlessly. "I'd ask you to see sense, but I know you won't."
"Hey…" He said, grabbing her hand. She still didn't look at him, so he tried to improve the mood. "It's times like this you wish I'd come to work for your mother rather then joining the council, right?"
"There's never a moment when I don't." Opal sniped, still looking down. Due to the need to float, all the cities were more or less doughnut shaped, the levels getting smaller as you got closer to the top. You couldn't really tell there was a hole in the middle though, due to all the bridges and platforms that had been placed across as they went along. This wasn't really a very good idea, as the whole principal of the thing was that the light would get to a level through the hole in the level above. The new government had reinstated this, spending a lot of money to convert everything across the centre into glass. But that was when this particular party had just been voted in, was new and remembered what they stood for… "I think you're the only one who isn't corrupt."
"Which is why they need me to lead these men." Jay said, gently.
"To their deaths!"
"Perhaps." He admitted. "Look, Opal… The reason I didn't become a Muse was… because I was scared."
Opal looked at him in surprise. She didn't think he would ever be afraid of anything.
"Heh." He sighed. "I have a great respect for you guys. I could never go down to Earth like you do. What if you get stranded, or lose your powers or…" He laughed. "But this is my one chance, Opal, to be brave. Be a hero. Don't you see?"
"I can't change your mind." She sniffed, pulling away. "So… good luck. Now, go!"
He stood, needing to head back and prepare for their leaving in the morning. "I'll be back, I promise."
"Just go, Jay. I'll see you soon."
As he turned and walked away, Opal felt her heart stretched with him. Somehow, she knew she would never see him again.
Because some promises just can't be kept, no matter how much you want them to be.
Sometimes, it seemed to Emerald, that Azreal had been born the most unfortunate of them all. Sometimes it seemed that, despite this, Azreal had died the happiest. She had died too young, too soon, when there was nothing but happiness in her future; because there had been too much sadness in her past. But she had loved, and lived, and brought her beautiful daughter into the world. Maybe she had lived in obscurity, away from her home town where she had eventually become a hero, but to Emerald it seemed she had worked it out better then the three of them. They were all successful, very successful, with purpose and happiness, yes; but they were all lacking in that most essential of things- a partner. When they had taken human form for a while to watch Azreal say her vows, Emerald had realised that to have someone to love and honour and respect and cherish as long as you lived was a good thing to have.
And they did not.
Ruby had dated over the years, but after Lira had died so horribly, and how he had hurt her, it seemed she was afraid. She held back. And Opal, well, she had only ever had one boyfriend, and that was a councillor named Jay who had died in the near-fall of Wherever. And as for herself… Well. She had never got very far either.
That didn't mean Emerald was unhappy. None of them were; they all had a purpose and joy in their lives, in fact. Yet it seemed love was the most noble of purposes, and so she tried to keep her heart full with it. Not true love, between a couple, but the love for all of humanity and all living things that gave her joy.
That day, she had met her niece, Azreal's daughter, for the first time. They hadn't managed to while Az was alive and once she was dead they simply couldn't. But now, she could feel the need and the necessity of looking after the girl, or the woman, who slept fitfully next to them. She'd done well, to get her wings out- it had been quite a strain. She probably could not have done it this time had it not been for new sections of her brain opening up, new DNA waking up, and the emotional complexities that came with these revelations. She would probably never do it again. But, Emerald was glad to see, Maya still held an envelope in her hand that seemed to hold a single black feather, just poking out, and a letter. She hoped she would never let go of them.
But, for now, she needed to sleep; and it was time for her aunties to leave. She was not alone, after all, with that nice blond boy with her, and the darker one too.
Love, after all, was a noble pursuit; but it was a road that could only be walked in twos.
Anna was flicking through the free local newspaper one morning, about to use it to make a paper maché golden calf (It was a long story) when she spotted an article that made her blink slightly, and shriek loudly. She was re-reading the article with some surprise when Seto entered at speed.
"Az! What's wrong, what's happened?!" He demanded.
"I need to phone Kaho!" She informed him, happily, and then picked up the phone. Rolling his eyes, Seto returned upstairs, grumbling about her over-dramatics scaring him all the time. Kaho, however, took a long time to answer.
"Kaho!" Anna didn't waste time on something as silly as greetings when there was news like this. "Congratulations! I think you'll win the 'Weirdest Match Ever' award, but still, good for you!"
"Oh, Ann, thank you…" Kaho sounded slightly confused. "But, um, I don't suppose you could explain what you're congratulating me for, could you?"
"…Are you trying to be funny?! Come on, I'm your age-old best friend and ex-roommate, I need all the details!"
"Ann…" Kaho answered, slowly. There was definitely something strange going on this morning. Today, she was working from home, and had already received calls from three separate gossip columnists. None of them had felt the need to tell her what she had supposedly done of interest or how they had got her number, and she felt it was wiser not to ask. Just to say she could not comment at this time and hope someone would call to enlighten her. This was the reason she eventually picked up the phone for Anna, and now she could only hope for some answers. "Please. I honestly don't know what I've done that's so exciting to everyone, or what everyone knows that I don't."
"Sorry, I'm just romance-starved. Honestly, eighteen months of marriage and it's all gone, you want to watch out." Anna joked.
"No, Ann, seriously…" Kaho was beginning to get a bad feeling about all this. "What have I done worthy of congratulations?"
"…You're serious, aren't you?" Anna suddenly gave an awkward cough. "Um… your announcement? In the paper?"
"What announcement? What paper?"
"Oh, man… The free one you get in the post. Page thirty-two. I was just about to cover it in paste and make it into a nostril."
Kaho had already disposed of the free newspaper, as it covered only the local news and covered it badly. However, she dutifully pulled it out of waste-paper basket, and turned to the slightly crumpled page thirty-two. It turned out to be, as she had half expected, to be the gossip page. Underneath the regular pictures of local celebrities, like the lead singer of a band that had once supported the Proclaimers, and the strange man that climbed another object each week, there was a picture of herself and Duke. This was not unusual in itself, as such. Like Seto, Duke's status as an attractive, wealthy business man; who had been in business since he was a teenager and a child gaming prodigy, he appeared whenever he did something interesting, and at those times Kaho was often with him. She and Ann; and Téa too, they were all in the same boat, really. The girlfriend- or, in Ann's case, wife- of someone vaguely famous. Joey had a certain amount of following too, but Mai was well known enough by her own merit.
Anyway. Reading the small article, Kaho just had time to wonder what Duke had done now when she got through the first sentence.
Apparently, she was now engaged.
Breathing very slowly and deliberately, she managed to find her voice. "Ann? Can I call you back?"
"Sure. Um… good luck."
Kaho hung up, and dialled her boyfriend's number.
"Duke. Have you seen the paper this morning?"
"What? No, I haven't… I haven't had chance to buy one yet. I got that stupid free one-"
"That's the one. Page thirty-two, if you please."
"What are you…?" Duke trailed off. "Oh."
"You didn't place it?" Kaho asked, calmly.
"No, I did not! Kaho, honey, honestly, do you think I would presume that you'd marry me before even asking you?! I'll call the paper, get a retraction, okay?"
To his surprise, she was laughing.
"Oh, so that's how it is…?"
"Sorry… it just seemed exactly the sort of stunt you'd pull…" She giggled happily to herself, then pulled herself together. "So."
Duke felt his pulse rate increase. "What do you mean, what now?"
"Well, it's going to look awfully strange if you now announce we're not getting married after all."
"But I didn't announce it to begin with! And what else- Ah."
"Ah." Kaho agreed, and he could hear the smile in her voice.
"Oh, I get… I mean…" For once in his life, Duke was at a loss for words. Yes, he'd been in a relationship with Kaho for a long time now, he was happy, and had he been asked he'd probably have said he'd propose one day. But he hadn't really thought about it. The prospect of marriage was… "Do you… think we should?"
"Well," Kaho said, quite reasonably. "I can't imagine myself with anyone else, and we'll never bother otherwise. We might as well."
"We might as well." Duke echoed, numbly, and then he chuckled. "You are totally unlike every single other woman I have ever met, Kaho."
"I know. I'm a muse, remember?"
"Too true. Well. Right then. Shall I…?"
Kaho said nothing.
"Okay." Duke grinned cockily, reminding himself mentally who he was. Duke Devlin, confident, rich, and Kaho's long-time boyfriend. "Kaho Bijou, will you do me the honour of following the advice given in the Domino Standard and marry me…" He glanced back at the article. "In May?"
"I'd be delighted." She answered.
Then, suddenly, they both started laughing.
"Ann said we'd be the weirdest match ever." Kaho commented.
Duke snorted. "And what about her and Kaiba?" For some reason, he couldn't stop smiling. "…Kaho, I love you."
"It's been a while…" Tomasu muttered in concern. Michael nodded, still feeling a little useless. Night was falling, and Maya was still asleep. Nor was Yami back yet. Surely, they'd been missed by the teachers by now. Sure, they'd set up a fire; and at least Maya was no longer talking to people that weren't actually there; but Michael would rather have liked to have known what was in that letter still clenched tight in her hand, what it was that had enabled her to apparently fly. It wasn't natural. It was getting dark, Yami had disappeared, and he was scared of this new unknown world. He couldn't stop thinking of those stories Yami's father had told them as kids, the fairy stories of shadow magicks and of people losing their souls. The idea scared him now, because, with Maya lying so quietly on the floor, it seemed a lot more real. He so wanted her to be okay. He'd never apologised for letting Asuka manipulate him. Nor had he, until now, realised what meant the most to him.
"I'm going to go look for her." Tomasu decided, standing up. For a stupid moment, Michael thought he meant for Maya. Then he remembered Yami. "Will you guys be okay here?"
Michael nodded. He could have insisted on going instead- after all, they were lost enough already without Tomasu's sense of direction- but he wanted to stay. Just for once, he would let himself be selfish. And stay.
Tomasu disappeared into the dusk and the cold began to close in. Michael never had liked the dark much, but knew the only thing to be scared of was if Maya's strange sleep never ended. Now there was nothing to do but watch that suddenly pathetic fire burn out, and wait for the others. He couldn't leave Maya, nor move her with any grace on his own. Just wanting to do something, he covered her with his jacket; not knowing if the gesture was worth a thing. He sat there a little longer, just thinking. The night was still, silent. He wasn't used to silence. In his house, there was always, always noise; there was always someone around. Not here. He felt alone, under the cold navy sky. It was beautiful, that blue; but eternal, and far away. Detached.
He turned as Maya shuffled again and slowly sat up, looking first at his jacket, then around at her surroundings in disorientated confusion. Then she saw him, and swallowed. She had some explaining to do, but she still felt light headed, still did not understand herself, not really.
Michael's voice suddenly returned to him. Hardly thinking, he went to her, held her close. "I'm so glad you're alright…" He whispered, and kissed her.
Maya was surprised by this, she had to admit. She didn't know what had gotten into him. She hadn't even thought he liked her, or vice versa. But now… The warmth of him next to her, and his lips on hers, it felt right, and safe- safe like a rollercoaster is safe; the danger removed but the excitement all the same. Her heart seemed to be beating and beating but somewhere up in her throat, and she was too shocked to react much, and she just had time and space to wonder vaguely if this was how her mother and father had felt; but then there was no more room for thought. It felt good. And then he came back to himself and pulled away.
"Oh crap…" He muttered, going red. "Oh crap. I'm sorry! I didn't mean to just-!"
"Talking's no good." Maya replied, and pulled his face back down to hers.
It had been a rather confusing day. But maybe not in a bad way.
And my pain walks down a one way street
I look above
And I know I'll always be blessed with love…
"Seto…?" Her heart was in her mouth as Seto glowered down at her. "Do you… do you remember me?"
Seto's eye widened a little as she spoke, recognizing the voice, then, with a lot more audacity then he'd ever had before, he leant down and kissed her.
And as the
She breathes flesh to my bones
And when love is dead
I'm loving angels instead
Tomasu had left Michael behind with Maya. He was slightly concerned at this, but reasoned Michael could take care of things. And he needed to find Yami. She'd been gone too long, and in this, the thick, dense forest on the uncharted side of the island…
He had to find her.
There wasn't much moonlight that night, and the sun had disappeared by now. The only way he could navigate at all was by the most obvious disturbances Yami had left in the thick undergrowth. Broken twigs and squashed grasses, half-footprints in the pine needles. Quite suddenly, without any particular thinning out, the forest came to an abrupt end; and he found himself looking across the island at the long flight of stone steps to the castle.
There was no choice, he would have to head there. No-one had noticed he was not one of the students yet, maybe they wouldn't now, or else he would just have to reveal himself. They had to help Maya; and find Yami. He ran towards it, his body somehow running on energy supplies that had been exhausted, clothes wet and chilled on cool skin. He ascended the steps, and as he reached the entrance, found Yami sat on one of the stone walls that ran up to the entrance. She smiled at him.
"Come and sit down, you look worn out."
"Come on, Tomasu! The stars are lovely tonight." She sounded a little wistful.
Slowly, Tomasu joined her, glancing upwards. "I guess they are."
"I'd like to see them at sea." She said, suddenly. "Where there's just the water and the stars, and nothing to interrupt the view… I bet it's beautiful."
"It is." He agreed, and then snapped himself back to the point, and away from his friend in the moonlight. "Um, Yami, did you get any help…?"
"No." She waved a hand lightly. "They don't need it. I just covered up for them with the teachers. They'll make it back okay."
"But… Maya… why?"
"Maya's fine. She just needs to sleep a little." Yami grinned serenely. "And then I thought she and Michael… might want some time together."
Unwillingly, Tomasu laughed. "You are unbelievable!"
"This whole evening's been pretty unbelievable." She answered, quietly, sounding troubled. "Did you see her wings?"
"Oh, good," She brightened immediately. "I'm glad it wasn't just me!"
"I guess, then, it means my dad's stories about Shadow Magic and all that might have some basis after all…" She chewed her lip thoughtfully, but as she looked back up towards the night sky her face relaxed. "But, we can think about all that later. For now… Let's just enjoy the stars."
And so, they sat, occasionally talking, sometimes silent. It was special, and, for some reason, they did not notice the cold.
Yugi had always told his daughter stories of the memories the island held for him, the special times and the adventures, the bad moments; and the perfect ones.
This night, in the same place, was Yami's perfect moment. They sat together a long time, until Maya and Michael arrived in the early hours of the morning, and by the time the two girls crept into their bedroom, they had both received their first kiss.
A/N: D'you know what? No Seto/Az goodness in this one. (Sighs) But, but, there was Michael/Maya-Yami/Tomasu goodness, ne, ne?! At last. XD So, next time, there will be plenty of Seto/Az for you… is it just possible he regrets being so distant? Why is it that Maya has that nightmare, that fear of small, dark, spaces? Why did Seto never tell her about her mother? And what will happen when Maya attends Wren Wheeler's birthday party? Reflections abound in Fall or Fly Chapter Seven: Sin…