Disclaimer: Yu-gi-oh is the property of Takahashi Kazuki.

Redemption ~ Seto*Otogi; Seto comes home only to discover that his koi has left, bringing back memories of other failed relationships and forcing him to dig deeper within himself. One-shot told in Seto's POV.

I decided to write this fic, influenced by Chevira Lowe's fic "Anonymity" and personal reasons which I will not discuss. It's Seto*Ryuuji (Otogi's first name is Ryuuji) told in Seto's point of view.

I will, for now, put on hold my need to brainwash everyone into liking Honda*Ryuuji, although you'll probably see a bit of that, as well as a variety of couplings.

I wrote this story at school on notebook paper over the past three days, and it is more or less in its original form because I wanted to show that I can… with the exception of grammar and the such…

I didn't even know this coupling could work until I wrote this fic. Strange.

Many thanks to rayemars-san for helping with editing. ::^_^:: I am sincerely grateful.

You're gone.

In a way, I knew you were gone before I came into the apartment and saw it for myself. It's been threatening to happen for a while anyway, with neither of us to blame or perhaps both of us to blame. It's not like it matters anymore though. You've packed up and left, taking with you your personal effects and leaving behind unemotional sticks of furniture that have no meaning without you.

I'm not getting emotional.

Our relationship was never really based on emotions, so maybe that's why I'm sitting on the sofa staring blankly at the TV rather than tearing after you. I know where you are and I'm perfectly capable of getting you back, but there really is no point in that, is there? You've chosen to go your own way, and you've probably known all along that I wouldn't come after you.

You, the ultimate strategist, probably accounted for that already. You of all people would know that I wouldn't do anything to get you back, and perhaps, ultimately, that is why you left.

It wouldn't be the first time.

It's odd though. I was hoping that you might have been the one who lasted, the one who managed to stay despite that one, screaming fault. The others couldn't. Ryou left after almost a year, tired of falling asleep on the couch after trying to stay awake to make sure I got home all right. Unable to deal with my inability to call and tell him to sleep 'cause I was going to be late, he ended up coddled in the arms of the make inu. Never quite understood that move, frankly, if only because I don't think that Jyounouchi can be trusted with anything more complex than a remote control, abiotic or biotic. Yet he manages to take care of Ryou, and he's happy and hasn't bothered to look back since.

I haven't either.

Yami lasted for only a couple months; again, same problems. Except I never really expected it to last, unlike my now-ended relationship with you. He is now with the Black Magician, another relationship I don't care much for but no longer bothered to question.

Not that I ever did.

Most likely, you will follow the example of your predecessors. I can already imagine hearing from the ever-present grape vine that you have been spotted in a compromising position with… probably Honda, who has always been watching over you, several months from now. That is where you are now, isn't it?

I can see you sitting in his living room, giving him answers to his questions; I doubt you would notice the glimmer of hope in his eyes as you explain why you're there with your clothes and whatever else you took with you, not for a while at least.

It's not in my right to hope that maybe you're still the one I was waiting for, looking for. Or maybe you are, but inevitably I've destroyed any chances we once had at having that fairy-tale relationship we all search for, whether we mean to or not.

In a way, it was never the relationship itself that caused the problems, but our lives outside the relationship. Or really mine, in order to be fair.

But Ryuuji, that's why I thought you would last when Ryou, Yami, and the masses of fangirls who I had gotten together with in a desperate attempt to prove that I wasn't gay… could not. You, of all people, would be able to understand the pressures of running your own company at what most people thought of as a very young age because you had gone through many of the same things that I did. The pressures of running that before-mentioned company, the feeling of being nothing more than a tool for a father who only cared when his personal interests were threatened… you've been through all of this, and much more.

Other things brought us together. A mutual dislike of Jyounouchi, although you had already gotten over this by the time we really started to know each other. Had gotten over it a long time ago, your… dazzling green eyes sparkling humorously at my continued… immaturity (that is what you call it, not me) which has managed to last even to this day.

Could it be that your mocking looks are trying to say what I never thought possible? That everyone else but myself has grown up while I'm entrapped in my own past?

What on earth would ever lead you to think this anyway? You and your… your… exasperating flamboyance. Although I suppose that with your looks, anyone would. And don't you dare gloat, but I have often been attracted to those with more… exotic looks. Ryou with his long white hair and soft blue eyes, Yami with his multi-colored hair and sharply angled crimson eyes… you with your black hair tied back into that silly ponytail, your rebellious bangs still escaping that even sillier red and black bandana which contrasted so perfectly with your startling green eyes…

(I think I was more affected by Ryou than I had previously suspected, which would at least account for my vocabulary).

I don't quite remember how we got together, something that I suppose is odd considering that I had so sincerely hoped you would be the one who lasted. I know that it wasn't one of those fairytale get-togethers where I surprised you by jumping out from behind a conveniently located bush, tackling you and slobbering all over your face like an ecstatic puppy (or vice versa), nor was it started by a shy confession of love.

Is this another one of my vices… not knowing those romantic details which romantics so love to obsess over? Ryou always thought so, and perhaps that is what contributed to him leaving.

Besides, there are so many things that occupy my mind. How can I remember details from four years ago? On bad days, I can barely remember my name, let alone our… anniversary. And enough bad days strung together have completely wiped that date from my mind.

You know what I speak of, Ryuuji. So does Ryou and Yami. Not the girls, though, because none of them lasted long enough to get past their happiness that they were dating a billionaire to discover my gaping, screaming faults.

I never hit you, at least I can be grateful for that. No matter how horrible my day had been, I never got to that point. But as I already said, our relationship was not the problem.

When those bad days came, I withdrew. I completely withdrew from our relationship.

Were you aware of that Ryuuji? Probably. You probably knew all along, and it's a wonder you were able to last this long. It's a wonder that it took as long as it did for you to start screaming at me, as fed up as you were.

Even though I can't remember all of the 'romantic details' that I'm supposed to know, I remember all of our arguments. Every detail.

Ryou cried and Yami went into self-imposed solitary confinement, but you just scream right back because in a way, you understand all of it. And because you know, you try to get it through my mind since, as you always said with a condescending grin, just because I had my thoughts didn't mean I understood them.

You always knew how much I hated that expression, just as much as you hated it when I played with your hair (apparently, your hair was off-limits to everyone but yourself, which always struck me as unfair since that was what I loved to do most). But just as I never stopped playing with your hair (you always claimed it made you feel like an overgrown puppy or overly pampered cat), and you never stopped giving me that look which always seemed to say 'I know something about you that you don't, and I'm waiting for you to figure it out.'

Perhaps you didn't quite understand that I did know perfectly well what my problem was, but that I simply failed to acknowledge it.

Is that what you meant yesterday when you screamed that I was scared by something I never would understand? At the time, I thought you were simply… ranting. That's it, ranting.

And when I told you that in no uncertain terms, you just gave up. Didn't say anything; you just gave me this look that said 'I can't deal with this anymore', turned, and walked away into our bedroom. You didn't slam the door like you usually do, but shut it quietly and let the click of the lock turning drown in the empty silence left by your departure.

I knew it was over as soon as you closed the door. Before that even, perhaps, except that I was still reeling from my own words to acknowledge it that quickly.

Funny how calmly I accept these things when I could be fighting to redeem myself in your eyes.

The phone rings, although it can barely be heard over my sudden, bitter laughter. Did I really bring this upon myself each time? All those girls, Ryou, Yami… you… did I really spoil all our chances together myself while you were all trying to keep it together?

My sudden, unexplainable laugh is abruptly cut off by the phone's incessant ringing, and mechanically, I move over to pick it up.

"Moshi moshi?"

"You're home," is your quiet, blunt observation/reply.

"You're not."

"As if that is a surprise."

You're right, of course you're right. What is surprising, however, is that you're bothering to call. Ryou and I have exchanged e-mails at random intervals, but they have all been impersonal and to the point. Yami occasionally writes letters, still stuck in the past I suppose, but they too have no references to our long-finished relationship. Those relationships are now strictly regulated to group meetings.

You, on the other hand. You are the first to call, and most likely the last. But remains is the question of why you are doing this, why you are bothering.

"Do you know what today is, Seto?"

I reply that I do not know. Do not know what you are looking for, at least.

There's a strained silence following my answer, and I wouldn't be surprised if you just hung up on me without another word. Completely defeating the purpose of why you called… a chance for redemption.

None of the others gave me this chance, so why should you? Shouldn't you of all people know that I will do nothing about this generous offer, even if I had known the answer to your question?

"Guess." I can see you with one hand holding the phone, your free hand on your hip or perhaps playing with your hair. And I can see that you're not expecting an answer.

I can prove you wrong. Perhaps if I can wrack my brains and come up with the right answer, you will come back.

But, realistically, would you? In a hypothetical scenario where I did know the answer, would you come back? Or are you counting on the fact that I do not know, nor will I bother to try and figure out the answer? Is this an opportunity for my redemption, or are you simply making sure that you have made the right choice?

My silence is enough to answer the question. Perhaps we are both right. You knew I wouldn't answer, and I know you won't be coming back even if I had.

I can see you shrugging. It's over. It's no longer a possibility, but a well-accepted fact.

"It's kind of ironic, actually." He pauses to see if I have any reply to that, but I don't. "It's our anniversary. Exactly four years ago. Odd, isn't it."

"I suppose so." Pause. "Where are you now, Ryuuji?"

"Does it matter?"

"Not really."

A hesitant pause before you reply, "I'm at Honda's place."

"I expected that," I tell you.

You don't bother to ask me to elaborate. There's an odd tapping in the background now. You're tapping your nails against the table, aren't you? Another habit I never liked very much, but it was you.

"Why'd you call, Ryuuji?" I ask before I can stop the words. If I was going to.

"Does it matter?" you shoot back. I want to laugh at that but would that imply that I'm going to miss you?

"Not really." I'm smiling right now, did you know that? I'm happy when you're around, even though I may not say so out loud. You mean a lot to me… maybe that's why I've decided to let you go.

"… I guess I wanted to make it official."

"You wouldn't have come back, would you?"

"I'm not going to answer that, Seto."


All I get is a loud sigh and the continued, annoyed tapping. Maybe you are trying to get rid of me by annoying me to the point of hanging up first?

"I don't know," You finally reply in the same tired voice you used when you told me to leave you alone last night. And I'm almost sorry for bringing it up.

"Sorry." I don't really know why I'm apologizing… and I don't sound that apologetic.

"… you know what your problem is, Seto?"

"Depends on which one you're referring to."

"You're still scared of commitment."

And with those final words, probably destined to be our last words, you hang up.

Perhaps you have a point there, but you were still a bit off. You see, Ryuuji, I am not afraid of committing. How else do you think I manage to keep thinking 'Ryou' and 'Yami' rather than 'Bakura' and 'mou hitori no Yuugi'?

If anything, I'm afraid of showing you my commitment. Even to the point where I fail in my own redemption.

Still, it's odd. After Ryou and Yami left, I didn't think about them. When Yami left, I wasn't plagued by memories of Ryou. Yet when you leave, I can't help but think of all of you.

Is it because you gave me the chance when nobody else did?

Did you want me to answer your question?

I don't know.

"Saraba da [1], Ryuuji."

I can't help but start to laugh again as soon as those words escape. Laughter that fades into silent, angry tears which I would never let anyone else see as the acrid, familiar taste of failure wells up within me, wrapping me in its familiar embrace.

~ owari ~

January 15, 2003

Translations and Notes:

[1] How Kaiba says good-bye.

'Mou hitori no Yuugi', if you don't know, means 'the other Yuugi' and is the closest to what any of the cast ever comes to speaking of Yami no Yuugi as a separate entity.

I don't know why I wrote this… or to be more truthful, I do know why I wrote this but I don't know why I actually managed to finish it to my satisfaction. I guess it's an okay fic… not to the level of "Fairydust", certainly. I guess I just wanted a chance to try out a new coupling and practice writing Seto POV in preparation for upcoming fics. Or maybe I just needed a break. *shrug*