After five years (four without updates), three system failures, about fifteen writers blocks, and twenty different fandoms, I have completed the circle. And here, before you, is the final chapter about five years after the first chapter began. I'd like to say that I'd hate to say goodbye to these characters and this fandom, but I'm really quite relieved.
Is that really so bad?
This was my first story I ever debuted on , and certainly not the last. I'm proud to say that I have grown as a writer, and if you ever consider looking from the first chapter to this one, you might see a bit of an improvement.
So thanks to everyone who's reviewed this monstrosity. You guys have influenced me more than you'll ever understand. Thank you!
The whole lot of people, after Time had vanished into pretty white stardust, rushed below deck to make sure Naomi, Tiki, and Jaken were unscathed -- at least for the most part (they were expected to have slight dementia and a bit of a migraine, as Yami diagnosed). Michael was the first to bombard the elevator, followed closely by his two cohorts. Then went the good, the bad, and the ugly. All swallowed by the elevator going down to the infirmary. Kurt was the only one who stayed atop the arena.
He didn't like crowds, and he knew his friends would suck it up. They were going to be fine. He just wanted some piece and quiet -- and oh God how he wished he had a surfboard and a killer wave to ride. He'd trade his duel deck for it any day.
After a while, the elevator dinged back up and the doors opened to an orange-clad Jamaican headed by the Kaiba brothers. A smile lit Kurt's face.
"Surprised to see me?" Tiki grinned and skipped over to him. They hugged, and he took in her smell -- cocoanut and butter cream. He didn't admit it, but he rather liked dark-skinned girls with dreads and a knack for the peculiar. "I'm so proud of you, Kurt."
"Yeah, well, I hated it."
"All of it?"
She giggled and stared into his eyes with her warm chocolate ones. They reminded him of melting chocolate kisses in summer. A pearly smile spread across her pink lips. She winked and put a finger to the side of her nose, "Guess what Naomi and Jake are doing?"
He groaned. "Lemme guess…"
"Love is in the air, everywhere I look around!" she crowed.
Mokuba chuckled. Kaiba cleared his throat appropriately. Business men did not stand idle during lovey-dovey moments, or perfect seconds of friendship, and Kaiba wasn't about to start. He might have buttered up if he had.
"What? Do you want to thank me too?" The surfer turned cockily to the brunette. "And BTW, it's way too cold up here dudes." He shivered dramatically. "You think you could be rich enough to afford a heater out here, you know man?"
Kaiba gave a loud snort and mutedly stalked into the elevator again. Mokuba tagged along with a hand on his big brother's waistcoat. Score one for the Kurt-meiser. He was getting pretty good at telling people to move it without actually spelling it out for them. Tiki hid a mischievous grin.
"You know, Kurt," Tiki slowly moved to the railing, not so bothered by the cold. Sometimes it was good to layer and wear bright neon orange leg and arm warmers. "This was fun, actually."
"Fun?" Kurt scoffed. "How was this fun?"
Tiki shrugged. "What would you be doing right now in our world?"
"Surfing," was his automatic reply.
"Well…no, not really. But I wouldn't have been battling for the souls of people I originally hated --" he scrunched his nose and came up to lean on the railing beside Tiki. She gave him a level look that made him take back his words. "Hate is too strong maybe… highly detested?"
"Better," Tiki grinned. "And now look, we're all BFFs!"
"Now that's a little too strong. Maybe just BFs."
"You're right," she coincided. "We're not like these guys," she motioned all around her at the vacant arena, and the people who once occupied it. "We have choices, I think."
Kurt agreed. "And we don't have filler episodes."
"Or crappy endings."
"That'd debatable. It's very philosophical. And, honestly, if he had stuck around yaoi fangirls would've went crazy with it." The blonde-headed young man turned his back on the glowing Domino city skyline. "Do you think we should tell them about it?"
Tiki cocked her head and mutely imagined if they did tell Yami to stick around and forget about the whole name thing. It wasn't that important anyway. What was in a name anyway? A rose by any other rose still smells as sweet. Shakespeare quickly shared a room with the yami and his aibou in handcuffs in her mind, and she shrugged. "I wouldn't mind if we did..."
"Oh shit, you're one of them too, aren't you?"
"How about these guys' predecessors?" She changed the subject evasively.
He raised a quizzical eyebrow. "Who? That Jaden dude?" When Tiki nodded solemnly, he shivered. "Sorry, but I like these guys better. More personable."
"Tyrannical Egyptian spirits are more personable?" asked another.
Tiki and Kurt turned to the elevator. Jaken and Naomi stepped out together, their fingers laced into each others. There was a foreign glint in their eyes, and smiles that were oddly misplaced on their faces. Almost silly, almost overzealous.
Jake rolled his eyes. "You have to be kidding me. How are they more personable?"
"Bakura wasn't so bad once you got to know him," Tiki defended.
"And Yami Malik wasn't as scary…" Naomi started, then nervously laughed. "Wait, wait. Nevermind. He still scares the crap out of me."
The others agreed.
"Hey guys?" Kurt finally voiced. "How're we going to get home?"
"Are we going to get home?" Jake interjected.
"We could take the wheelchair express," Naomi opted.
"Or just, you know, chillax here for a while," came Tiki's timid reply.
Her friends gave her a blank look, then they exchanged glances with everyone else. Jake and Kurt shrugged. Tiki gave Naomi a weary smile. Naomi finally rolled her eyes with a sigh.
Tiki put an arm around her best friend's shoulder, "It's summer break, Nay-Nay," she was also trying to convince herself too, "and we just saved the whole world from mass and epic failure. We deserve a vacation!"
"I'm sure we could con Kaiba into renting out one of his massive beach houses to us," Jake schemed, and Kurt applauded at the idea.
"Hell yes! Surf's up in Japan, baby!"
"But my brother," Naomi pouted. "He's got summer classes. And those two other girls. What about them? And I miss my parents, like, a lot. And I mean a lot a lot."
The others agreed. Despite how much fun they would have in Domino, and how many friends they had, it was already bad enough that they royally screwed up the whole timeline of the world, and they didn't need to interfere into the next saga -- none of them wanted to haul their asses to America anyway. And Rebecca got on their nerves. If they stuck around, Naomi knew Jake would shove her into a closet sooner or later.
Finally, Tiki sucked in a lungful of breath and looked over the railing to the glittering mass of Domino thousands of feet below. A gush of wind pushed across the arena. "Then let's jump."
"You're kidding, right?" Kurt asked. "We'd die."
But Naomi understood perfectly. "We got here by jumping -- sort of."
The others agreed tragically.
"I was pulling an ollie," Jake said.
"Falling off a massive wave," agreed Kurt.
"And we were in a wheelchair," the two girls said in unison.
"So we jump!" Tiki told them. "We jump for all its worth." Kurt took her hand and squeezed it tightly for reassurance. They'd need a lot of it, especially if it didn't work. So they stood on the railing, balancing with hands held tightly, and couldn't understand how they had such perfect balance.
"We're in an anime," Jaken stated point-blank. "It happens."
"Shouldn't we tell them goodbye?" Tiki nervously asked.
But a gust of wind catapulted across the arena again, slipped Naomi's foot off the railing, and tumbled her down. And she just happened to have been holding hands with Jaken, who held hands with Kurt, who held hands with Tiki. They fell in a chain reaction. Isn't Newton's law a wonderful, effective escape route?
"To LAAAATTTEEEE!" Kurt screeched, and they all fell screaming into the nightlife of Domino city.
Ryou was sipping his tea in the cafeteria when a white blur past the window. He did a double-take, and cocked his head to Yugi. "Did you just see that?"
"What?" asked Yugi.
Thinking better of it, he opted not to say he just saw four humanoid figures fall past the window, and said, "Oh, never mind. The height is getting to me, I think."
"Oh, do you need to go see the nurse?"
But Ryou just smiled. "No, I'll be fine."
But Michael saw the blur all right. He took another sip of water from his plastic cup, and wished them luck. If the news did not find four pancake-sized teens in the next twenty-four hours, he'd option the escape route to Zillah and Leigh. Otherwise, he was quite content where he was.
"So, Joey," Michael sat down beside the blonde-headed young man. "About your sister…"