To paraphrase Louise Rosenblatt, "a story's just ink on a page until a reader comes along to give it life." Thank you for reading.
CHAPTER 40: A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM: Screwball musical comedy, circa 1966. I could attempt to describe the plot of this (very) loose adaptation of an ancient Roman satire... but considering it contains separated at birth twins, multiple mistaken identities, two middle aged men in blonde wigs pretending to be the same young bride-to-be, and a subplot involving the difficulties in getting a goblet of mare's sweat, I'd rather not try. Like most stories, whether farce or tragedy or anything in between, this one is about people stumbling their way through life as best they can, with (if they're lucky) flashes of insight mixed in with the inevitable comic results.
MORAL: In the words of the closing song: What is the moral? There must be a moral. Well, here is the moral wrong or right: Morals tomorrow! Comedy tonight!
Kaiba reviewed Dragon's Rival, the duel monster card he'd created in answer to Yami's Honey Dragon. After a pause, he hit "Send." Kaiba smiled, imagining Yami's reaction. Unless he missed his guess, it would bring Yami to his office ahead of schedule.
It was Friday afternoon. Kaiba couldn't sit through another get together and pretend that he was ever going to care about the gang the way that Yami wanted him to. He needed to figure out a better way… and a better schedule. He needed to trust Yami. He did trust him. Kaiba blinked, trying to force the tiredness down with a sweep of his eyelids. It didn't work. It never had. He reached for his coffee and got back to work.
Kaiba's prediction had been accurate. Yami grinned at his phone as he stared at Dragon's Rival. He had to admit that Kaiba had returned his gesture with interest. Kaiba was one-up in the dating arena as well, although Yami intended to even the score by the end of the weekend.
Yami had stuck to his promise not to involve Yugi. It had been easier to come up with a date once he'd remembered to think of it as strategy. The game was to get Kaiba to relax, to remind him that they were rivals as well as lovers. The first part of the program was easy. There was a new off-road motorcycle track outside of Domino. Kaiba liked speed and he liked machines that matched… and Yami liked riding behind him, pressed so tightly against Kaiba's back that even the wind that whipped around Kaiba's spare frame could find no passage between them.
Afterwards, Yami had rented a private dining room in a nearby steakhouse. After dinner, it would be time to duel. Yami smiled at his phone. He'd downloaded Pegasus' Build a Duel Monster app, although he readily admitted that Kaiba's had been far superior. He wanted to duel Kaiba with cards they'd both created.
Yami hummed to himself as he headed out to Kaiba Corporation. He was early; it wasn't nearly time for them to return home and meet up with everyone for Friday night, but Yami was sure they could find a way to pass the time.
Yami smiled at Tamashiro as he approached her desk.
"Would you mind bringing this to Mr. Kaiba for me?" Tamashiro held out a package.
Yami nodded, trying to decide if he was imagining the hint of mischief in her expression. He knocked on the door and entered Kaiba's office, still undecided.
Kaiba stood up. Now that Yami was here, he wasn't sure what to say. He cleared his throat.
"Here," Yami said, handing the package to Kaiba.
Kaiba glared at it. "Why are you delivering my lunch?" he asked irritably. Kaiba snapped his mouth shut. That wasn't how he'd wanted to start the conversation. He'd planned on grabbing Yami and kissing him, but now his hands were full of lunch.
Yami chuckled. "Tamashiro asked me to. And it's after 3:00 PM."
Kaiba scowled. "That's right. I had a conference call. I told her not to disturb me with trivialities."
"When did the call end?"
"I don't know. A couple of hours ago. It was quiet. I didn't want to be disturbed."
Yami grinned. "Oh, am I a disturbance?"
Kaiba snorted and opened his lunch. "Do you want some? Tamashiro seems confused about how many people she expected to eat this."
"Her main priority was probably making sure that when Mokuba asks her, she can report that you've eaten something besides coffee," Yami suggested.
"I don't encourage my staff to spy on me," Kaiba huffed.
Yami scanned Kaiba and narrowed his eyes. They'd gone to bed early the night before. He'd hoped the extra rest would help. It hadn't. Kaiba looked like he was about to fall over. Disconcertingly, he also seemed to be keeping himself from rocketing around the room by force of will alone.
Kaiba sat down and pushed his lunch aside. The last thing he wanted was any more distractions. His choices had narrowed to one… the one where he told Yami how he was feeling, what he was thinking, what he wanted. He refused to retreat now that the goal was within reach.
"Never mind lunch. That's not the point. That isn't what I need to tell you." Kaiba stood up again and faced Yami as though he was staring down a firing squad. "This isn't working. I've failed. I can't do this. I thought I could."
Yami's mouth dropped open. Kaiba was breaking up? The man who never gave up on anything was quitting on them?
"What?" Yami yelled.
Kaiba winced at the sound. "I'm being honest. I thought you wanted that."
"We're over? Just like that?"
"What are you talking about? Who's breaking up?" Kaiba stared at Yami, wide-eyed, as he reviewed what he'd said. "No! Of course not! That wasn't what I meant."
Yami drew in a breath. "What did you mean?"
Kaiba ran his hand through his hair. "I'm tired," he admitted.
"I know. We can cancel our date on Saturday. That way you can..."
Now it was Kaiba's turn to roar, "What?"
"... get some sleep instead. One date doesn't really matter." Yami spoke as lightly as possible, hiding his own disappointment.
"Did you even plan for us to go anywhere or did you just not bother, since it's so unimportant?" Kaiba snarled.
"That's not fair!" Yami shot back.
"Oh yeah? You didn't suggest blowing off your friends tonight." Kaiba drew in a breath. This was all coming out hopelessly wrong, but he'd always held one rule true above all others: if you wanted to get anywhere you had to keep moving. It didn't matter that he fell like he was he was stuck behind the wheel of a speeding car. It didn't matter that he could see the brick wall coming closer and closer. "You want someone who's going to join your friendship circle. I'm not that person."
"Stop telling me what I want!"
"You need to know. I'm never going to care about them. Not really."
"My friends have been more welcoming than you deserve!"
"I'm always going to be on probation with you, aren't I? You're always going to pick them first!"
Yami shook his head. Kaiba's accusations were raining down on him with dizzying speed as he tried to fend each one off. "You're the one who brought them up in the first place!"
"What did you call them?" The bizarreness of the insult left Yami too surprised for outrage.
"They're stealing my time. You'd rather see those fucking losers than keep our date!"
"Stop insulting them if you want me to listen."
Kaiba drew in a breath and tried again. "I rearranged my entire schedule and Mokuba's just to see you." Kaiba laughed, if so tense and strained a sound could be called laughter. "But you don't give a shit do you?"
"And how's that new schedule working out for you? Oh wait, I can see the result right here!"
"That's what I've been saying! I thought I could make it work. I planned on losing only six hours of sleep… but then it turned into ten and I had to make up time…"
"You've been doing what? Have you lost your mind? You thought I wanted you to stop sleeping?"
"Where did you think the hours were coming from?" Kaiba asked, trying and failing for a note of reason.
"I thought you were working less or… I don't know. How could you think this was a good idea?"
Kaiba started pacing back and forth in front of his windows. "You didn't have a problem with it as long as you didn't know."
"That's not the point!"
The car was still speeding. Kaiba couldn't get out or turn aside. The wall was almost on him now and his only choice was to ram into it as hard as possible and hope he was still standing after the crash. He turned to face Yami head on. "You were the one who told me I could tell you what's on my mind. But I guess that's only until I say something you don't like or want something different!"
"Stop twisting my words!"
Kaiba knew that the conversation had spun wildly out of his control, but he couldn't stop himself, even though the words he was screaming no longer made sense, even when they'd been reduced to little more than howls of pain with vowels and consonants attached.
Yami closed his eyes. He needed to think, he needed to listen, and both were impossible. He was missing something, something important and he knew it.
It was enough to push Kaiba into silence. Yami had called him, "Seto." Kaiba coughed, gasping in the air he'd ignored in his tirade.
"Listen to me, giraffe boy. We need to be better. We can be." Yami drew in a deep breath and held it. He exhaled slowly, then began the process again. Kaiba watched as if breathing was some new and unknown activity that he needed to learn. Unconsciously Kaiba began to mimic Yami until the room was quiet again.
Yami held up a hand. "I need to think; I need to clear my head." He started for the door. He turned when he reached it, shook his head and smiled ruefully. "I need a little of the time everyone keeps insisting I have in abundance. I think you do as well."
"Where are you going?" Kaiba asked.
"To breathe air that hasn't been through your ventilation system. I'll be back in a few minutes. We'll talk. We'll figure this out together. I promise."
Kaiba nodded mutely.
Mokuba was with Tamashiro at her desk when Yami left the office. Yami nodded to them as he hurried past. He was glad that Kaiba's office was sound-proofed.
"What's up?" Mokuba asked as he watched Yami walk towards the elevator.
Yami turned. "I need a bit of a breather."
"From my brother?"
Mokuba scowled. But Yami was close enough to see that Mokuba's eyes were dark with fear.
Mokuba bit his lip and turned away. He'd learned over the years not to ask.
Yami could have listed all the reasons why Mokuba should trust him, why he should know that Yami would never simply disappear. But Mokuba's life had begun with a death… and "should" didn't matter. Mokuba didn't know and maybe never would.
And Mokuba was the more hopeful of the two brothers.
Yami sighed. "I forgot something," he told Mokuba as he strode back into Kaiba's office and closed the door.
Kaiba was at his desk, hunched over his monitor, his body a defensive shell. His face was composed to the point of blankness. Yami drew in a breath. He'd probably never get used to the sight of Kaiba looking so vulnerable; it was his own private show.
"You can be such an argumentative jackass. I still need some air. But I'll be back."
"I know," Kaiba mumbled without looking up.
"Do I know? Yes. Believing is a more difficult affair."
Yami nodded. "Yes. It is. I had to learn to have faith in myself, alone and without a destiny. I've been trying to find my way ever since we got back from Egypt. Now, I believe. Now, I know. I'm someone who can survive the loss of my own destiny. Someone who will build a new life on its forgotten ashes. Now, I see the road."
Kaiba lifted his head. "The road of battle?" he asked.
"It stretches on ahead of us as far as the eye can see. Each day is a new step." Yami pulled out his phone and set the stopwatch for ten minutes. He set it down on Kaiba's desk and held out his hand. "Give me your phone so I'll have a way to keep time." Kaiba handed it over without speaking. "Thanks," Yami said. "I'll be back before the alarm on mine goes off. Think about what you wanted to say. I'll think of a way to listen. We'll work it out." Yami walked to the door, then turned to point his forefinger at Kaiba. "Sleep is non-negotiable."
He really did need air, Yami decided as he hit the sidewalk. It had taken him the entire ride down the elevator to realize that this was Kaiba's attempt at talking. Yami chuckled. Kaiba had been so bad at it, but he'd tried. And given that Kaiba's last attempt to express how he felt about their relationship had resulted in a rebuilt death simulation chamber, this could only be seen as an improvement.
Yami smiled again, more tenderly this time, as if Kaiba was still in front of him. He'd never have to wonder how Kaba felt about him. He was, apparently, more crucial than sleep. It was a humbling realization.
Yami drew in a breath, ready to sort through Kaiba's accusations. Yami had wanted them all to be friends. He'd assumed that if they spent time together it would happen naturally. He'd never asked if Kaiba had wanted that as well.
Yami frowned. Kaiba was hardly shy. But he'd gone along for weeks without saying a word. Yami paced the sidewalk, each step striking the pavement faster and harder as he re-argued the fight inside his head. Kaiba should have known how important he was, Kaiba should have known that his feelings mattered, he should have said something way before they reached the point where they were screaming at each other. But just like with Mokuba, "shoulds" didn't apply and maybe never would. Yami wanted answers. It was time he asked. And listened. He headed back into Kaiba's building. This game was far from over and he still had a turn to finish.
Sixty floors above, Kaiba stared at the seconds counting down on Yami's phone. The click of the numbers was soothing.
He'd crashed and burned. He'd failed. Miserably. Utterly. But for the first time it didn't feel like a defeat, it didn't feel like an ending. It felt like a promise instead, like a chance to do better, to be better.
It was time to learn.
Maybe he didn't have to struggle and fight. Maybe he could get what he wanted simply by… asking. Kaiba closed his eyes. Asking had never worked. Even the thought had him choking on his own memories, half-been buried under the weight of every disappointment that had gone before.
Kaiba opened his eyes and stared at Yami's phone. At the seconds still counting down.
Yami would be back.
Yami wanted to listen.
When Kaiba thought of all the ways his life had seemed to change, to morph out of his control… this was one thing he'd never considered.
He could ask.
Kaiba glanced from his phone to his briefcase. With one swift movement, he grabbed it and swung it onto his desk. He opened it and started rifling through his cards. He pulled out Memory Reset. It was a promotional card. Kaiba scowled automatically. He'd never understood why Pegasus bothered creating cards that couldn't be used in a duel. This one let you reset the game as if it had never been played. Kaiba frowned as he stared at the supernova exploding across the card's face. Was that what he wanted?
Kaiba closed his eyes. His memories jostled each other, fighting for his attention, shifting in and out of place as if Kaiba was falling through a kaleidoscope. He and Yami were trading beer-soaked kisses behind the Kame game shop. He was setting fire to his desk. Yami was watching with eyes that burned just as brightly. He was flicking a jalapeno into Yami's face while Mokuba laughed. Yami was telling him that one of them had to care as he walked out of the door. Kaiba swallowed, willing himself to go beyond that moment.
And then he was undressing Yami in his rebuilt death simulation chamber as the world righted itself. Yami was swaggering across the dueling field to stand in by his side. The images spun one final time and settled into place. Yami was in his lap, kissing him and telling him that he was safe.
Kaiba opened his eyes. He didn't want to erase the past. He threw Memory Reset back in his briefcase. His fingers shook as he pulled out a card that had been brought to the surface by his frantic his search: Second Chance. The artwork wasn't up to Pegasus' usual standard, the kneeling goblin and the bug-eyed wizard seemed to have been phoned in. Kaiba couldn't remember putting it in his briefcase. He hated gambling cards; he believed in consequences. But with Second Chance, if you rolled the dice, if you and crashed and burned, you got the chance to roll again.
He placed Second chance on his desk, next to Yami's phone, closed his briefcase and dropped it back onto the floor. Kaiba had never believed in fate. But now he stared at Yami's phone, at the seconds counting down as if he could read his future on the screen. Kaiba exhaled when he heard the door open with 45 seconds left to go.
Kaiba picked up Second Chance, drew back his arm and tossed the card at Yami. Yami caught it. He glanced at the card face and smiled. "Absolutely," he said.
Yami walked over to Kaiba, swiveled his chair, straddled him and sat down. He'd decided that this conversation would go better if it was held on Kaiba's lap.
He glanced at Kaiba's discarded lunch, reached over and picked up a bite-sized beef and asparagus roll. Yami placed his offering between Kaiba's lips. He waited until Kaiba had finished chewing, then leaned in.
"Tell me," Yami whispered.
"Whatever you want to."
"I'm tired," Kaiba admitted. It was the first thing he'd learned to hide.
"Then let's get you home so you can sleep."
"It's Friday." Kaiba said it quietly, but it was a challenge nonetheless.
"The great thing about friends is that they'll understand. And sometimes, they'll go along with you even when they don't."
Kaiba drew in a breath. "I'm your friend."
Yami smirked. "Yes. It's about time you admitted it." His eyes darkened as he stared into Kaiba's. "And you went along week after week even when you didn't care or understand. You're right. That's friendship."
Kaiba touched his tongue to his lips. He drew in a breath, then said, "Right from the start, I knew you. One duel… Hell, one card, and I knew you weren't Yugi. But, I'm not Yugi either. And I'm not you. There are some values I'll never share." Kaiba kept his eyes fixed on Yami and waited.
Yami leaned in and cupped Kaiba's face in his hands. "Do you remember what you told me, that first night with the gang? You said that if I wanted someone who fit in with my friends, I should find someone who did."
"Do you remember what I answered?"
"That you wanted me," Kaiba whispered, his lips barely moving.
"That hasn't changed. That isn't going to change. I'm your friend, too."
Kaiba smiled. "I know."
The simple smugness of Kaiba's answer took Yami's breath away. "Then we can work everything else out," Yami said.
Kaiba cleared his throat. "I didn't mean I wanted to avoid Yugi or the old guy. They're…" Kaiba shrugged. "They're your family."
Yami smiled. "I'm glad. I like spending time with them… and with you. But we don't need to get together with the whole group every week."
Yami put his hand on Kaiba's arm. "I'm sorry. I should have done something sooner. I should have known how you felt."
Kaiba frowned. "How?"
"What?" Yami asked, startled.
Kaiba glared. "You heard me. How were you supposed to know something I just figured out myself?"
Yami shook his head. "I just should have…"
"No. Whether I eat or sleep or figure out what to say is my responsibility. And if I screw up, that's on me, not you. I'm your equal. That's non-negotiable, too."
"So is your health," Yami insisted. "You can't expect me to stand by and accept it when you do something that hurts, even… no, especially… if you're doing it for me."
"Fair enough." Kaiba sighed in relief. This wasn't some impassable swamp where he was doomed to founder and drown. This was something much more recognizable; his familiar toolkit would work, even in this totally alien environment. "You know, this is kind of like a contract negotiation – only with kissing instead of lawyers."
Yami leaned in and brushed Kaiba's lips with his own. "And which do you prefer?"
"With you, definitely kissing. With Pegasus, lawyers… and an armed security detail headed and trained by Isono.
"That's an incredibly specific answer. I'm guessing that there's a story there. One I intend to hear once I've finished with more important matters." Yami moved closer and embraced Kaiba. He kissed him slowly, softly on the lips, waiting for Kaiba to open his mouth in response, pleased at how eagerly Kaiba followed his lead. Kaiba's arms came up around him, one of Kaiba's hands knotted itself in his hair. They were both flushed and slightly disheveled when they stopped.
Kaiba mustered up the semblance of a glare. "You know what else is non-negotiable? Our date on Saturday."
"Did you think I'd ever let you one-up me in the date arena without responding?"
"Then you better bring your A-Game," Kaiba growled.
Yami grinned. "You should know by now that when it comes to you, I always bring my A-Game." Yami punctuated his words with a kiss.
Kaiba smirked back. "Your technique has improved since your first attempt. Of course, mine was stellar from the beginning."
Yami didn't bother answering in words. He claimed Kaiba's mouth, cutting off Kaiba's breath… and whatever annoying thing Kaiba had planned to say next.
There was no sign that Kaiba minded. He leaned back in his chair, inviting Yami to come closer, to press against him even more tightly... an invitation Yami eagerly accepted. He wasn't kissing Kaiba anymore, he was inhaling him, stopping only when they were both gasping for breath. He attacked Kaiba's neck, sucking hard enough to leave a trail of marks, a record of himself for the next time Kaiba doubted.
This was real, Kaiba thought, dazedly. This was Yami devouring him with the single-minded intensity he revealed every time they dueled, every time they came together. This was Yami refusing to give in, merciless in his unyielding tenderness, declaring his feelings with every caress. This was Yami challenging Kaiba to bare his emotions just as fearlessly, kiss by kiss and touch by touch. This was a passion that demanded and gave in equal measure, that ensnared Kaiba even as it held out the promise of a freedom beyond imagining.
This was something Kaiba could believe in, something he could hang onto. This was something he craved with all the fervor and longing he'd held in for far too long. Kaiba shivered as Yami fondled him, trembling with the force of his own feelings, the ferocity of his own desire, the sudden awareness of his own happiness... unwilling to push it away or categorize it or try to hold it back in case everything disappeared... unable to do anything but enjoy the moment to its fullest. To relax into Yami's attentions, into Yami's caresses, as a cat relaxes into sunlight… except Kaiba was too wound up to relax, too tightly strung do anything but vibrate in time with the beat of Yami's heart.
Yami sighed in contentment and leaned his head into the curve of Kaiba's neck, hands and tongue momentarily at rest.
Kaiba blinked and tried to figure out exactly when Yami had loosened his tie or unbuttoned his shirt. It had all been a delightful blur. Unfortunately, his pants were still on. So were Yami's.
"You're going to have to try harder if you want to shut me up," Kaiba said, tilting his hips upwards to give Yami a hint.
Yami obliged by leaning forward and kissing him before settling back on Kaiba's lap, "Better?" he asked.
Kaiba frowned at the briefness of the contact. "Not nearly enough to keep me quiet for long."
Yami threw back his head and laughed. It was a sound as obnoxiously exuberant as anything Kaiba had ever produced. Yami leaned closer and whispered in Kaiba's ear, drawing a shiver from his rival. "That's okay. I'm learning to live in the present." His teeth found the lobe of Kaiba's ear. Kaiba leaned his head back and moaned as Yami worked the soft skin. Yami had a lifetime's worth of time, and he couldn't think of a way he'd rather spend it than in unraveling Kaiba.
Kaiba had once told Yami that life was a battle. He'd announced that the past had no place in that fight. That austere outlook suited the taller duelist, who wore his beliefs as defiantly as his trenchcoats. But Yami had always known that he wasn't Kaiba. Yami could only remember fragments of his past, but that past had shaped him nonetheless. It had carried him to this future.
Yugi had once told Yami that relationships weren't a game. Yami smiled to himself as his lips moved down the column of Kaiba's neck, as his hands teased their way to Kaiba's waistband, as Kaiba lifted his hips off the chair so that Yami could finish undressing him… as Yami finally accepted that he wasn't Yugi either.
Everything – from finding landmines before they could kill, to helping a child pick out a toy, to building a relationship with someone as difficult as Seto Kaiba – was a game. Maybe even finding his destiny, determining who he was and what he was meant to do... maybe making this borrowed world he'd ended up in a little bit better by the time he finally left it for good… maybe it was all just another, wildly exhilarating game.
And his opponent was life itself.
That was how it should be.
It was time to play.
It was time to win.
After all, he was the King of Games.
Thanks to Bnomiko for betaing this and every chapter along the way. I'm trying not to get mushy and sob about how much I appreciate you. Uh… I realize that didn't come out right, but I'm not sure what to say. I'm deeply thankful for your help. I love talking with you... not just about our stories, but about everything else over the years. This wouldn't have been the same without you. I always choke up on the words, but the sentiment is genuine.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I feel like I should have something profound to say, but the main thing running through my mind is: Morals tomorrow! Comedy tonight! (Sorry, but I've been waiting forever to write that.)
The problem with writing Author's Notes for the last chapter is that it is the last chapter. There comes a moment when you realize that whether you've won, lost, or fought the ideas in your head to a draw, the story's been told. It's satisfying, sort of like landing a fish or an airplane. But it's sad as well, because it's saying goodbye to something – if not to the story itself, then to the unfinished vision of it that has lived in my head. It's saying goodbye to the journey of writing it out.
And to be honest, I'm only marginally better than Kaiba at letting go.
I wanted to write a romance that didn't end with a kiss or a date or even a duel. I wanted to explore the idea that a Yami and Kaiba's relationship was a work in progress because so are Yami and Kaiba. I wanted to write a relationship that was an extension of the characters themselves… flawed, at times conflicted, but also deeply committed and resilient. The thing that makes me hopeful about leaving them to manage the rest of their lives from here on out, isn't that they've found any answers, but that they've learned how to ask questions and how to listen.
Note to Wolf'sVine: Thank you so much! It was important to me to have all the characters grow as the story went on – and to show how difficult a process that can sometimes be. I agree, Kaiba does value Mokuba, but I think it's important to him to always look strong and confident in Mokuba's eyes.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND THANKS: Thanks to Splintered Star for letting me bounce ideas and for bouncing a few back and most of all, for always being ready to listen. Thanks to Gddssgrl for answering all my questions about all kinds of things about Japanese gifts and holidays and food and daily life. I joined tumblr while writing this story and I've met so many people who have been so warm and friendly and who have made writing this so much fun.
I'd also like to thank the wonderful artists who made fanart for me and for my stories, including Onenatroll, Tonksnalshae, tigermaskbf, askkaibaseto, pen-strokes-and-music-notes, Imadise and techno-sorcerer. I can't say how wonderful and touching it was seeing your beautiful work. If I have left anyone out, please accept my apologies.
And last, but never least, thanks to everyone who took the time to read this story. And especially everyone who commented and asked questions and who gave me so much encouragement. I've always believed there can't be a story-teller without there being a story-listener. Thank you for listening to mine.
UPCOMING STORY: I'm the kind of person who does something twice and immediately decides that makes it a tradition. In that spirit, I like to add something on upcoming stories at the close of the current one.
The next story I'm working on begins the moment that Dark Side of Dimensions ends. I'm kind of tickled that this will be my second story that starts the moment Yu-Gi-Oh! Ends.
It's a bit hard to describe, but I really want to look at what the characters need for themselves and what they need from each other and how those two things sometimes clash. At the end of the manga, Kaiba doesn't get to see Atem or say goodbye. We can see how that worked out in Dark Side of Dimensions (Hint: Kaiba doesn't take it well.) The movie ends with Kaiba finally getting his chance. This is my take on what happens next.
SUMMARY: Kaiba thought he needed a duel. Atem thought he needed to help Kaiba accept the inevitable. But neither stopped long enough to ask themselves what closure means in a world where wish fulfillment is possible and dimensional travel is a thing. Sometimes it's easy to chase after something so desperately that you lose sight of just what it is you're longing for.
EXCERPT from the first chapter when Kaiba arrives in Atem's palace:
Atem took a step forward. "And now that you're here..."
"Now that there's nowhere left for you to run, you mean? You know what I came for," Kaiba interrupted, his familiar scowl reappearing for the first time.
Back in Domino, Atem would have responded with a taunt of his own. Now, even his sigh was inward. After a pause he asked, "Do you? People have chased the Millennium Items through the ages. They believed possessing one granted you a wish of the heart. Does your technology do the same?"
Kaiba closed his eyes. What would he wish for? What had he wished for? "To see you," he thought. "Wishes aren't real," he answered instead.
Atem snorted. "So, what am I, then?"
Kaiba leaned back and crossed his arms, duel disk outwards. "You're real enough to duel."
Atem laughed. He'd almost forgotten how alive Kaiba was. Then he scanned Kaiba again and frowned. Kaiba was less angry, but his some of his rage had been replaced by sadness. The change was unacceptable.
Tumblr Note: I'm on Tumblr as Nenya85, mostly posting manga frames and screen shots and rambling on about them. If you're interested in checking it out, the link is on my biopage.
Thank you for reading! I would love it if you commented and let me know what you thought or felt now that the story is done.