Author's Note: MY. MOTHER. FUCKING. HEART.
If it feels like someone ripped out your heart and stomped on it in the best way after you read this… it was probably me. MISERY LOVES COMPANY.
Seto got their mother's spark. She held him tightly as she gave it to him, and it hurt, but she was doing it because she loved him and when it was over the pain left as quickly as it had come. Their mother kissed his eyelids and whispered that she hoped he used his gift well.
She died three weeks later after a horse and cart ran over her. People gave their condolences at the funeral, but Mokuba had whispered to Seto that he'd seen the man on the cart watching their mother all day before his cart ran over her.
Mokuba got their father's spark. They held hands so tightly their fingers went white and they started sweating from the pain, but then Mokuba looked up at their father with bright eyes and a wide grin. Their father kissed the top of his head, then the back of his right hand, and said that he hoped they would have fun, even if they weren't together.
He died the next day, when their house caught fire and Seto and Mokuba were in town. People talked about what a tragedy it was, but Seto could tell that the fire had been set deliberately. It started at the front of the house, even though their fireplace was on the opposite side and their kitchen was in the back of the house.
Seto and Mokuba packed what little they had and ran away.
Seto met a boy twenty years later in Saudi Arabia, when he was still hurting and afraid to reach out. His name was Yussef and he was beautiful, with happy brown eyes and shiny gold hair. He saw the boy pick up a little girl with hair like fire and tickle her before he threw her into the ocean. He charged in after her and they splashed each other until they grew tired and crawled up to collapse on the sand nearby.
Seto had had to fight the urge to reach out and touch his hair. "Your hair is beautiful," he said instead.
The boy looked up at him, eyes bright but also sharp as they looked at him. "Thank you." He eyed him up and down before asking, "Are you from around here?"
"No," Seto admitted, and glanced at his brother coming to meet him on the beach.
The blond's eyes darkened. "Do you have some place to stay?"
"A hostel." With his brother. "Goodbye."
The boy laughed as he turned and hurriedly walked away. "Goodbye!" he called after him, voice light and cheerful.
The brothers heard news of a man that had squandered away his family's money in a bet and had attempted to murder his family, but had been stopped by his son at the cost of his own life. Against their better judgment, Seto and Mokuba elbowed their ways through the crowd to see the spectacle, even though they knew it would hurt.
Seto's breath caught in his throat when he saw the blond being wept over by his sister and a woman he assumed was his mother. He'd been so alive yesterday. It didn't seem right for a boy with eyes so bright and sharp to be dead before his time. However, he couldn't imagine the boy just letting it happen, the way he'd tickled and played with his sister yesterday.
"I hate humanity," Seto said, and felt his brother's hand slip inside of his.
Mokuba pulled him away. They didn't stop walking for two weeks except to rest. They found themselves in Greece and stayed there.
Seto saw golden hair and sharp brown eyes in the market when he'd gone to buy some pomegranates for his brother. He dropped one, shocked, even though he'd seen lots of brown-eyed, blond-haired people in the last seventy-four years he'd lived in Greece.
The boy picked it up for him and wiped it off, smiling a little. "Careful. You probably bruised some of the arils."
"Yussef?" he asked, instead of saying 'okay' or 'thank you,' like he probably should have.
The boy blinked at him, frowning, before his face brightened. "No, it's Iosepos. Is Yussef someone you know? Maybe I can help find him."
Seto blinked at him. "I—No, I was mistaken. I apologize. You look like someone I… knew." Had never really met, actually. Had only heard his name wept by his mother and sister.
"Oh. That's weird, isn't it!" Iosepos laughed, loud and free. "Well, I hope you liked him, otherwise this would be embarrassing. Listen, I've got to finish shopping for my mother, but maybe we could get together later?" The way his eyes darkened left nothing to the imagination.
Seto swallowed thickly as he took back the offered pomegranate. "…Thank you," he said. "If you'd like."
The blond reached out to tug on his toga lightly, smirking. "Meet me outside the temple."
"I—Which one?" the older boy asked, gripping the pomegranate tightly.
"Aphrodite's," the blond whispered into his ear, then laughed and darted away, disappearing into the crowd.
Iosepos loved like he lived—with a laugh, freely, with his entire being. Seto got to keep him for a year before the Spartans took Athens. Iosepos smuggled his mother and sister out of the city, rebelled against Spartan soldiers, and was struck down protecting a starving child.
Seto grabbed up a spear and slaughtered the Spartan soldiers, would have gone after the rest of the army if Mokuba hadn't begged for him to go.
He didn't want to go, didn't want to let Iosepos's death go unpunished again, but he'd only suffer more in the end. He let Mokuba lead him away. They gathered their things and left.
Seto found a jeweled comb in his bag. Iosepos had bought it and asked him to keep it for his sister, to hide his gift because she was good at ferreting them out. He held it close to his chest when he fell asleep.
Seto stopped looking for blond hair and brown eyes, because twice the boy had been torn from him, and twice it had ripped his heart up as well. He hated feeling so angry and lost afterward, especially since the first time he hadn't even really known the boy.
He stopped looking, but he saw the blond anyway.
A boy in a shop that was being robbed, stabbed to death.
A boy in a ghetto, starving to keep his mother and sister alive.
A boy in the gladiator's ring, slaughtered.
He turned his head every time, before he could see if it was the same boy for certain, but he always knew, deep in his heart, that it was the same boy. It always hurt, but he told himself it didn't hurt as much as when he'd lost Yussef and Iosepos.
Seto met a girl a century later in Egypt, with pretty blue eyes and long silver hair. He thought he could share his spark with her, or that she had her own, because she was brighter and more vibrant than anyone he'd ever met.
She was a dragon.
"Your spark is… different," she told him, picking her clothes up from the floor.
Seto sat up and looked at her. "Is that bad?"
"We don't usually… mix," she answered.
The brunet tapped his fingers against his knee. "We're not supposed to, you mean."
Kisara shrugged. "You'll find your other person eventually." When he remained silent, she nodded slowly. "You already have, haven't you? And you don't want to go through the pain of losing them anymore."
"…It just hurts so badly," he whispered, thinking of the comb in his bag that he couldn't bring himself to get rid of, but he couldn't bring himself to look at it anymore, either.
She pulled her clothes on and sat down beside him. "I've loved lots of mortals that I've outlived, Seto. It hurt when I lost them, but I wouldn't give it up for the world. I always have so much to show them and teach them, and I cherish every minute I have with them." She smiled, placed her hand on his. "I'll stay with you a while. I'll teach you how to cherish them, love them how they should be loved."
Seto smiled, because he could feel the pull in his chest, telling him that there was a blond haired boy in Egypt. "Okay."
Kisara was murdered the next day, stripped of her scales and thrown into the river for the hippos and crocodiles to eat.
Mokuba found him staring at the Nile a week later and sat down next to him. "She was a dragon, Seto."
"She was fond of me."
"We both know, and she knew, that our sparks aren't meant to mix."
Seto bowed his head, pulled the white headdress off and dragged a hand through his hair. She'd wanted to teach him. Instead of telling his brother that, he just said, "…She didn't deserve to die like that, though."
Mokuba held out his hand, heart hurting for his brother. It ached even more when his brother slid his hand into it, looking like his world had ended, even though it wouldn't until he gave his spark away. "No, she didn't," he agreed quietly, remembering the way Kisara had looked at his brother like he was more than just a spark—like he was a person.
Seto saw the body of a blond slave, whipped to death, on their way out of Egypt.
Seto started walking until his feet told him to stop. He was in some European country—a new language to learn, a new city to discover. He hesitated for only a moment before he remembered what Kisara said. Cherish them. He straightened his shoulders and took to the city with gusto.
It was called Poland.
He met a boy named Józef twenty years later, wandering around eating a lamb skewer.
"Do you have anywhere to be in the next hour?" Seto asked him.
The blond looked up at him, bright-eyed. "No."
Seto showed him a view of St. Florian's Gate that was so beautiful it took the blond's breath away. "Do you like it?"
The boy looked up at him. "Yes," he breathed, eyes wide. "Who are you?"
"My name is Seto. What's yours?"
"I'm called Józef."
He got to keep him for seven years this time, and throughout the entire time, he showed him all of the wonderful landmarks and sites in Poland. Józef smiled at him even with his dying breath, blood bubbling between his lips after a harsh cough as he died from consumption.
Four years and nine months later, he felt the pull. Seto looked at his brother, paused. "You don't have to come."
You never seem to love anyone like I do.
Mokuba shrugged. "I'm happy to just follow you."
I don't think I can.
"Wouldn't you like to go somewhere else?"
Have you even tried?
Mokuba shrugged. "Maybe I will, someday. I'd like to stay with you for now, though."
Seto smiled a little, clapped a hand on his shoulder. "Stay with me as long as you like."
You'll wish you'd tried sooner when you finally do.
Mokuba smiled back, small and content.
You're probably right. You always are.
He loved a boy named Josef in Germany. He loved a boy named José in Portugal. He hopped a ship and loved a boy in the New World named Joseph. He traveled across the country and loved another Joseph, then sailed over to China and loved a Yosep in Korea. He traveled to the Philippines and loved a Jose (that he called Pepe, because the blond always laughed and shoved him when he did, and he loved that too).
Mokuba left him once, for a very short while, and then he came back, laughing, and said, "His sister. It's always been her. That's why I didn't feel the urge to leave you."
They traveled to Indonesia, Australia, Brazil. They went to Mali, Yemen, and Madagascar. Nepal, Mongolia, Finland. They ate and they drank and they loved and they lived, for days or for years, whatever they were allowed to have.
Seto stopped in Japan.
"Ya don't hafta do this," Joey whispered, leaning his forehead against the brunet's. "Seto, it's a part of you."
"If I could give it to you and keep you, I would," Seto replied quietly, and pressed a soft kiss against the corner of his mouth. "I'm ready."
The blond blushed a little, smiling. "If ya say so."
Seto ran his thumb over the younger boy's cheekbone before he turned, reaching out for the girl's hands. "Take care of him while I'm gone. We've never been far from each other, and now we'll be so far apart, it'll probably be a shock."
Serenity smiled, giggled, nodded. She was giddy, but there were tears at the corners of her eyes. "Of course. Wheelers always take care of what's theirs."
Seto raised an eyebrow, but he smiled back at her anyway, remembering all the times his blond-haired boy had died to save his mother and sister. She didn't know how true her statement was.
He closed his eyes and squeezed her hands tightly, taking his spark in careful hands and placing it in hers. It hurt both more and less than when his mother had given it to him, and when it was finally gone, held tightly in the redhead's own body, he lifted her left hand and kissed her palm, then leaned in and kissed her cheek, brushing a tear away with his lips. He reached into his pocket and gripped the comb he'd kept, hadn't been able to give back because it got him through the years of waiting, and slid it into her hair; he wouldn't have to wait anymore.
He felt as if a hole had opened up in his chest, cold where the spark had been. She smiled up at him with her still teary eyes, and it warmed a little.
Joey slammed into his side and hugged him tightly, shaking a little. "You okay?"
"…Little empty," Seto muttered, wrapping his arms around the blond. "But it'll get better."
Joey nuzzled up under his chin. "Idiot. Ya didn't hafta do that."
Seto didn't tell him that he sort of did. He'd watched the rise of man—saw trains invented, electricity, cars, space travel, mechanical pieces to replace humans' missing parts—and he was pleased with what he'd experienced. The only thing he hadn't experienced, Joey had experienced hundreds of times, even if he couldn't remember it.
"I want to die with you," he said quietly. "It's the only adventure you've been on that I couldn't go with you."
"You're an idiot," Joey repeated, but somehow he said it kindly, fondly. "I have so much to show you," he added, smiling a little.
How to be cautious, probably. How to live as a human that could die. No stabbing Spartans or carrying him up mountains anymore.
Seto grinned. "I'm so excited for you to teach me."
Joey laughed, loud and carefree like he always had—probably like he always would. Seto was just as charmed as he had been that first time, so he leaned in and kissed the laughter from his mouth.
Mokuba and Serenity left them to it. After all—they'd probably meet again.