In gym class Yuugi learned that most recipients of CPR come away with broken ribs. I've often wondered about that. I have wondered how many patients regain consciousness, then reach for the ache in their chest, slowly coming to the realization that someone has acted upon their unconscious body and broken it back into life. How badly does that hurt?

Once again, I've found myself facing you.

"Yuugi—put away your concern for your friend and come face me!"

How long ago was it that you dared me to send you spiraling down into the dirt, limp and withered as a collapsed lung? "Yuugi—" You ground your teeth on this name that we'd forgotten isn't mine. "Kill me! Slit my throat with your final card!" It burned me that you didn't die then and this thought rose like a tide inside me—that I should have killed you when I still had the chance.

How long ago was it that we were locked together within your nightmares, festering, sickened by the sound of each other's breathing? And again I had this thought—that I should have killed you sooner. And why did I hesitate?

Because with your eyes stretched open and your face a strained pallor, with your arms hanging limp at your sides, I saw something that felt more familiar.

How long ago was it that you chased me outside the city walls, screaming "Pharaoh" like you could spit boiling water and I refused to run away from you, not now, not even when the sight and the sound of you made me my body quiver? Why did I not run? Why did I insist on facing you?

Seto. Because it was not that long ago that you were unashamed to fall upon me, to whisper my name over and over and over while we lay side by side, our skin black and blue and silver in the moonlight.

It was not that long ago that I learned to love to watch you wake. I refuse to surrender the way you looked up at me with eyes so full, so soft, and not yet fully focused.

And I refuse to surrender the memory of my mouth on your shoulder, watching the sunrise, breathing shades of yellow and pink, and knowing that everything fragile could withstand eternity. Knowing that we could always tilt back our heads and feel our faces in the sun.

Seto. His teeth were too tall for your mouth. His tongue was poison burning down your throat. Your legs and your arms were dead and buried and they hated me. I can admit it now—I was afraid. But I swore that I would not surrender you. I couldn't kill you then.

How long ago was it? I have few landmarks with which to measure the passing of time.

How long ago was it?

"It's hopeless, Yuugi." You flash a card before my face. "Why don't you just surrender now and save yourself the embarrassment of losing to me?"

Kaiba. Don't you feel the crush of the wheel of conflict that turns over us and turns us over, like the surface of the earth? Can't you see that we're the rim and not the axle?

Are your ribs still broken?

How badly does it hurt?

"Kaiba, if you wish to defeat me you must first conquer the hatred that corrupts your heart!"

Kaiba. Spit out the demon in your mouth that wants you dead and choke it.

It was not that long ago that there was only one person living inside of you. But, in those days, with your arm wrapped around my waist, how could we have known that we were marching towards our cliff-face ruin?

We should have run faster. We should have known that there would always be something to run from. We should have sat longer in the sun. We should have spent more time licking juice off each other's fingers. We should have known.

But, Seto, there is one way in which I must turn my back on you—and hesitate again. I will not be your spirit's pallbearer. I will not applaud your quiet death. And if your body should seek to fight me and urge violence upon itself, then—do not doubt that I will break it again.