Dear Readers, while I have taken certain elements from the manga-continuity and its follow-up, The Dark Side of Dimensions, this fic is animé-continuity only and therefore the events of that movie have no real bearing on this story. My slightly belated second contribution written for #AzureWeek2020, based around the prompt "Warm by the Fire". (Thank you Azurite for spearheading this event...it has been so much fun!)
As with all my YGO works, I have elected to use the dub names and other select localizations. Also of note: Yami Bakura is alive, well, and a good guy in this story. (Basically because I wanted him to be; I don't have any in-universe explanation why.)
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh! or its characters; all rights belong to Kazuki Takahashi. I am merely a fan who hasn't had her fill of this fun world. This is a fic written for pleasure only, not for profit.
.:'Here' Seems Like A Pretty Good Place to Be:.
She had first read the question in junior high: 'Where do you see yourself in five years?' Her answer back then had been easy: 'In New York City, studying dance'. It had been her dream since childhood: dancing on Broadway in a famous ballet. Swan Lake, or perhaps The Nutcracker. To get there, though, she'd have to work for it.
In high school, they had presented the question again, albeit worded slightly differently: 'If you could send a message to yourself five years in the future, what would you tell yourself? Where do you want to be then?'
'I would tell myself that the world is a lot bigger than I think and that life is full of surprises,' she had said, thinking of the ancient spirit that had shared Yugi's body at the time. 'Where she wanted to be'...that had changed only a little bit: 'studying dance, possibly married'. She had blushed at the addition. It hadn't occurred to her then how impossible a relationship with Atem would be. Why he was stuck on the plains of the Living, why he had not been allowed to join his family in the afterworlds. She still felt rather guilty about how her thoughts had been so solely with her feelings, rather than with Atem's predicament...he had not even known his true name.
"This trial will decide both their fates."
And Fate had indeed made its decision in that final duel between Atem and Yugi. The living vessel had defeated the spirit of the ancient king...at last, after 3000 years, Atem could rest.
Saying good-bye to their friend had been one of the hardest things she'd ever had to do...but in the end, it had all worked out for the best. His time as 'protector' had all but passed; his descendants and near-descendants would pick up where he left off.
"...One day you will find someone who will protect you and care for you in return...someone from your era."
She'd heard the five-year question again when she started college. With the words from Atem's post-Afterlife visit still ringing through her head, she had thought he was referring to Yugi.
"Seto...Labor Day is two weeks away." Mokuba was much taller now...not quite as tall as Seto, but he still towered over Téa. She was so proud of him: every day he grew more and more into his role as Vice-President of KaibaCorp. His brother had taught him well.
Her thought had been wrong.
"Yes. The park will be busy; we've been planning that exhibition tournament for literally months. Yugi, Wheeler, Mai, and a bunch of the others are dueling. You'll be dueling." The click-clack sounds coming from Seto's laptop did not decrease in their frequency or their velocity. 'Busy' was a mild word for their state of being these days.
"Exactly. You've been working really hard to organize it-"
"Tournaments of this size require lots of planning—you know that." The clacking on the keyboard finally stopped, and Seto looked up, annoyed. "Is there some new hiccup I don't know about? If that creep Keith Howard 'approached' one of you again-"
"No-no...nothing like that!" Téa shook her head. 'Bandit' Keith Howard had been blacklisted for as long as they could remember, but that didn't stop the brutish man from trying to get into her husband's tournament. He had pressured Mokuba in June, and harassed Téa at the beginning of August. Luckily, Mokuba and some of the others had been nearby (Gansley and his cane). Nevertheless, Seto had quite rightfully been angry...and it didn't help that Keith got away.
"Keith hasn't spoken to either of us since you upped the security," Mokuba said. Seto raised an eyebrow.
"Really," Téa promised.
"So...what is this about, then?" Seto asked, leaning back and crossing his arms.
"Let's get away this weekend," Mokuba replied, tilting his head. "Let's head to the cabin. Just for four days."
"Mokuba, there's a ton of work to do before we-"
"I know exactly how much work there is left, Seto," Mokuba replied, and Seto found a near-perfect imitation of his own smirk looking him in the face. His eyebrow raised again. "VP, remember? I've been helping you arrange this thing for a couple years now. If we leave tomorrow, there'll be plenty of time to finalize everything before the Championship." He paused.
"C'mon, Seto...you're working all the time, again. Late nights and early mornings." Concern and frustration had crept into the younger brother's voice. "Sis and I hate it when you do that. We can spare four days, Bro."
"If we leave tomorrow, you'll have most of next week to fine-tune everything," 'Sis' spoke up. "Yugi and the others will help with whatever you need; you know they will."
"...I know." Téa strode behind his chair, massaging his shoulders with her hands.
"You're all tense up here again," she said, rubbing at the knots in his back. "It'll be good to get out of town for a few days. Besides, at this time next year...we'll have a six-month-old." She kissed behind his ear. Seto sighed, looking at her, then his brother in resignation.
"I assume you'll want to invite everyone?" he drawled. Mokuba grinned.
"How else would we have a pre-Labor Day barbecue?" he asked. Seto cocked an eyebrow.
"...Did you finish the updates on the Crystal Cloud Network?"
"...Fixing things with the mayor's office and DCTV?"
"Everything's straightened out. You were right...the problem was on their end, not ours." Seto grunted. Of course it was on their end.
"What about Pegasus?"
"Croquet got back to me half an hour ago. That's a yes, too." Seto let out a breath, and Mokuba snuck a smile at Téa. They were winning. Seto would relent; they knew he would.
"...All right. Text everyone to meet at the airport tomorrow 9 a.m. sharp if they want to join us at the cabin. If Wheeler sleeps in he can catch his own flight out there."
"Mai will make sure he doesn't," Téa commented.
"Too bad." Téa exchanged an amused look with Mokuba. Some things never changed.
So here they were...up at the Kaibas' 15-bedroom cabin, nestled away in the mountains of Idaho. They had purchased the property not long after moving back to Domino City from New York, at Téa's and Mokuba's insistence. Their family had grown exponentially in the years following Atem's departure; there were the Motos, of course, but they and the Ishtars shared a common ancestor, as well.
"Oh yeah, Tristan?! Well, dodge this!" Joey tore after the other man with a Look on his face, carrying a SuperSoaker and several water balloons as 'grenades'.
Then there were the friends they'd adopted as family. Téa was an only child...but with Joey and Tristan and Yugi, it certainly didn't feel like it.
"Wheeler, if that cheap water toy of yours busts my equipment, you're paying for it!" Seto yelled.
"Lay off, Rich Boy—dat thing's waterproof and don't think I don't know that!" Like KaibaCorp would ever make a piece of equipment that wasn't, in this day and age. Seto glowered, but turned back to his laptop and began typing. But not for long.
"What the…?!" Alarm rose in Seto's being as the computer suddenly stopped responding. Then it went black. A little Robotic Knight appeared on the screen and performed its 'finishing move'...and announced that he had been hacked. His jaw tightened.
"Nesbitt," Seto growled, looking up at their resident Machine expert, who was sitting across the fire pit on another wood-backed bench. Nesbitt looked up.
"Yes?" he asked calmly.
"Explain what you're doing hacking my system?!"
"What makes you think it was me?"
"Who else would use a Robotic Knight to-" But a giggle from behind made him turn around.
"It was you," Seto said, narrowing his eyes at a newlywed Rebecca Moto (neé Hawkins), standing on the wood patio with a smirk on her face.
"Oh please...I can't take all the credit," she said, circling around Seto's seat to give Nesbitt a high-five. "Sorry, Cous, but we're under strict instructions from your wife. Get off the laptop and go wind down—that's her orders." Nesbitt held up his hands in a shrug, and Seto's jaw tightened. He shifted in his seat, looking up to the high deck on the cabin where his wife was supposedly hanging with Mai, Serenity, and Ishizu. Instead, she stood with her arms resting on the railing, chin propped up on a fist. Seto returned her knowing expression with a glare of his own.
"Seriously?" he said. 'Annoyed' was putting it lightly.
"We came here to relax," Téa replied, matching his stubbornness point-for-point. "And you are not relaxing! You can have your computer back tomorrow morning. But only until breakfast!"
"Stop working for five minutes, Rich Boy," Joey chimed in, still in a water-fight with Tristan.
"Just whose cabin do you think you're at, Wheeler?" Seto snarked. Then he balked. Where was the laptop?! He'd had his back turned for 90 seconds, they were out in the middle of nowhere, and Nesbitt and Rebecca were right across from-
He growled as the answer to his problem presented himself, all tanned and sarcastic and sucking on what was left of a pork rib.
"Did you have to get him involved in this little scheme of yours?" Seto asked flatly, jabbing a thumb at where Yami Bakura stood, smirking and licking the barbecue sauce off his fingers.
"Who better to swipe your laptop than a former thief?" Téa called down.
"Where is it?" Seto demanded, staring at the tanned man. The Ancient Egyptian only shrugged.
"Somewhere," he replied smoothly. But he wore only swimming trunks, and there were no discernible places on his person to hide it.
"He'll give it back tomorrow," Téa called down. "Now relax."
"Relax, Cousin," Marik said, setting a sandwich next to the CEO. 3000-years-separated-cousins, but the aftermath of Seto's near-fatal accident soon after graduation had not only made it clear who the Kaibas' real family were, but also that 'family' were not always those connected by blood. "Take a load off. Odion and I are going to boat out on the lake. You and Mokuba should join us."
That had been hours ago, now. They had gone swimming at the lake, roasted hotdogs and marshmallows...told ghost stories until late into the evening. Most of the others were in bed now, but she and Seto had remained on the patio, warming themselves by the fire pit. He had finally wound down; Téa snuggling into him on one side, and Mokuba snoozing on his other. But it felt good. It felt nice.
'Where do you see yourself in five years?' Married...to Seto Kaiba? If she had told herself ten years ago that five years after graduation she'd fall for the most egotistical man on the planet, she'd have laughed in her own face.
"All things shall work together for your good…" Where had she heard that? When had she heard that? But that certainly seemed to be the case, in their case. The accident had been awful, but without it...they wouldn't have gotten here: surrounded by family, and the dear friends that had grown to be a part of it.
And 'here' seemed like a pretty good place to be.
-Domino City being set in Oregon was a concept originally conceived by LuckyLadybug, based on details in the series' localized version. The placement made sense to me, so I use it as well. I also base my Yami Bakura and his relationship with Ryou on the way she writes him in her universes...he's funny!
-This is not necessarily 'complete'. If people want more, I'll continue :)