IV's manager was making noise again. Managers, IV had concluded, were noisy people. Necessary, of course, since he couldn't be expected to worry about all the business-related minutiae of being a duelist himself, but that still didn't make up for the fact that this one seemed to talk all the time.

"...to cancel put a crimp in things," the man was saying, "but don't worry, because I found another tournament in..."

"Sure, sure," said IV. "Do what you gotta do."

Dropping out of his last tournament had been an unexpected annoyance, but there really hadn't been any way around it. That fire, the one he'd pulled the girl out of, had left his face damaged badly enough that the doctors had worried he might lose his sight in that eye. He'd proven them wrong, but there was still that scar to remember the night by. He leaned close to his dressing room mirror to inspect the mark.

"...still, could be worse," the manager rambled on. "I mean, if you've got to cut out on a tournament, pulling a girl from a burning building..."

IV tried not to grimace. Yes, he'd rescued the girl. Everyone had called him a hero. His popularity had soared. The flood of fan letters and get-well cards had been more than his hospital could deal with. But if anyone had known what that fire had really been all about...

It wasn't my fault. I didn't know it was going to happen. It was an accident. I did everything I could.

Surreptitiously, he cast a glance over his shoulder. His manager was pacing back and forth, gesticulating as he rhapsodized about marketing potential. Satisfied that he wasn't being observed, IV leaned even closer to the mirror and activated his crest, watching as the zigzagged purple mark appeared.

This is what it's all about, he told himself. That crest symbolized his connection to his family, the one he'd thought he'd lost for good. It was the symbol of his mission, his purpose in life. Even when he let it fade, on the inside, he knew it was there.

"...so what I think," his manager went on, "is that you should take a couple of weeks off and get it done."

"What?" said IV, surfacing from his thoughts.

"The reconstructive surgery," his manager repeated. "To get rid of that scar. Being a hero is great, but you've still got to look your best for your fans."



"No," said IV firmly.

"...Well, okay," said his manager, sounding surprised. "I mean, it's your face."

It's my past, IV thought, but couldn't say aloud. His crest was a sign that he had dedicated himself to doing his father's bidding, no matter where that might lead him. Rescuing that girl might be the last thing he did of his own volition for a long time. He wanted to remember that. Even as one eye looked to the future, the other would look back at the past.