Note: This was written for the Zexal Flash Bingo challenge.

It was strange that he had always been so closely tied to water. It had even given him his name: Shark. Water was accepting: it flowed around obstacles and drew things into its depths. Shark could have been stone: solid, sharp, impenetrable. He admitted nothing into his heart if he could help it. He had loved his parents, and they died. He'd loved his sister, and she'd been injured to the point where he had no idea if she'd ever wake up. He'd loved dueling, and he'd been cast out in disgrace. Every loss, every disappointment, every rejection had made him a little more unyielding.

Sweat trickled down his spine. He wasn't sure if the heat of this lava field was real or if it was all in his mind. Either way, he felt like he was melting. He resisted the urge to wipe his face. Now, he wanted to tell himself, was not the time to go soft. All he had left for himself now was his revenge against IV and his family, and if he faltered now, he would never have it. He had to win this duel, at any cost.

Voices were whispering through his head. One of them rose up from depths as immense as the ocean, a little voice that had been there ever since he'd taken up Shark Drake's card, the one that said to submit to its power, become one with it and let it solve all his problems for him. It would be so easy. He'd lost everything else. He could lose himself, too. He could give up all the things that hurt him or weighed him down... and all the things that confused him, like Yuma. Somehow Shark had ended up with a friend without wanting or asking for one, and now that he had one, he wasn't sure he wanted it. Having a real friend would give him a whole new set of priorities he wasn't sure he was ready to tackle. He'd failed so many times already. The voice in his head was promising him a way out: that he would never feel for anyone else ever again, and so he would never be hurt. All there would be was power without purpose, victory without gain.

The other voice in his head was his own, telling him that he wasn't ready to give up just yet. No matter how he had hardened his heart, he still had the capability to change - for the worse or for better, he didn't know, but there was a chance.

Shark Drake's darkness was closing around him, and he could feel his mind sinking into its darkness like a stone, shadowing his thoughts. Bits of himself seemed to be flaking away, eroded like the movement of a dark tide. It began to dawn on him then that he had only two choices: he could let himself accept his own feelings, let himself melt and flow.

Or he could dissolve.