Author's Note: This is based on the manga version of the Death-T tournament. Kaiba forces Yugi and his friends to compete in this virtual reality tournament that could really kill them. Mokuba insists on being one of Yugi's challengers, and when Yugi beats him, Kaiba forces Mokuba to go through the "death simulation that he had prepared for Yugi. Yugi hears Mokuba screaming and rescues him. He then beats Kaiba, and "shatters" his heart.

SETO KAIBA'S POV

Having your heart shattered sounds like it should hurt. But it doesn't. Maybe there weren't enough pieces left to matter. I can see them shining faintly in the darkness below, and for the first time I feel an emotion – surprise. If these are truly the pieces of my heart, shouldn't they be indistinguishable from the darkness around me?

This was my fourth and final defeat. Oh, I know, I only lost to Yugi twice, but this was my fourth defeat nonetheless. It's just that the first two were disguised as victories.

I had planned my first defeat so carefully, it's not surprising that I didn't recognize it for what it was.

I had made a promise to Mokuba: to protect him; to stay by his side; to see that he grew up happy. I had made a promise I didn't know how to keep. I didn't know how much longer I could keep dodging the people blind enough to want to adopt me instead of him. Even if I could, what would happen when I grew too old for the orphanage? They would never let me take him with me. In the end I would have to leave him to the mercy of the bullies I had been fighting for years.

I needed money and I needed power if he was to be safe. Gozaburo had both. So I used myself as I would a Blue Eyes White Dragon; as a sacrifice to achieve my goal.

I knew he was a chess master. My game. I knew him like a warped reflection of myself. If I challenged him publicly, and beat him, he would have to adopt us. He would be too proud to back down. He wouldn't even want to back down. He would want to punish me for daring to challenge him; for daring to win. He would never rest until he had gotten his revenge. So he would adopt us. And he would be so focused on defeating me, that Mokuba would be safe, unnoticed in his house.

It would be comforting to blame everything wholly on Gozaburo. But here in the darkness I know so well, what's the point of lying? It was my arrogance that devised this plan; my recklessness that carried it out. I was desperate enough to think I could trade my soul for Mokuba's life. And so I did.

I won.

If you win a battle, and lose yourself, is it a still a victory? A defeat? A tie?

I didn't have time to savor my victory, if that's what it was, before the next battle began.

I thought I was ready. I wasn't.

I thought I could win. I couldn't.

It was clear what the stakes would be – my life and my soul.

Gozaburo wanted to use me to continue his war machine, to spread death beyond his life, into the next generation. I wanted to use my talents to create a world of happiness, even if it was only an illusion, a game. Gozaburo wanted to remake me in his cold and uncaring image. I clung to my love for Mokuba – the one thing I had thought was the foundation of my soul, the one thing I was sure I would never give up.

In that battle, like a Napoleonic soldier on retreat, I abandoned pieces of myself to survive: my ability to show emotion, finally my ability to feel anything. Darkness filled the vacuum I had created in my heart, and I embraced it as armor and weapon in my fight against Gozaburo.

The venue for that final contest was decided. We would fight for Kaiba Corporation itself. The winner would take control. The loser would die.

If I had lost, it would have been me jumping from that window. I would have done it without hesitation, and with only a faint regret at leaving Mokuba. But I would have gone to my death, still, barely, myself.

Instead I won. I know now why Gozaburo laughed as he leapt. I had finally become him.

I had wanted to use my electronic gifts to create a wonderland for children. I ended up creating the Death-T Tournament. Gozaburo couldn't break the bond between me and Mokuba. No, I did that all by myself, when I left him to cry out in terror in that death simulation chamber. When I left him to be rescued by my enemy.

Now I've lost twice more, to the dark spirit that stands behind the wide-eyed kid. But in losing, I've lost the darkness that I let devour my heart. Is that really a defeat? A victory? A tie?

I'm still in darkness, but it's a darkness now without anger. Without pain, except for the pain of hurting Mokuba.

As I say his name in my mind, I can hear his voice. If I try, I can sense the outside world, dimly, through him, just as I always have. He's just saved Yugi and his friends from my henchman, who would have destroyed them in my name, in my absence. I hear him tell Yugi, in my cold voice, that it means nothing, that he's just repaying a debt.

I hold my breath. Could my defeat be that final? Will Mokuba out of love, (and frighteningly enough, out of a desire to be like me), follow the same path I followed in ignorance and anger?

Then I hear him do what I could not, what I have never had the luxury of doing. I hear him reach out – even to my enemy – to offer the story of our lives in atonement. Yet the pieces of my heart's puzzle are shinning more brightly now, as if he has dragged them into the light along with the failures I would hide in darkness.

Faintly, I hear Yugi now. He is telling Mokuba (or is he warning him?) that I have the strength to put the pieces of my heart back together. He's right. But perhaps the darkness is where I belong. Yugi has given me a second chance that I neither want nor deserve. What is there to return to – the brother that I have betrayed?

Mokuba will never get his Ni-sama back. The Seto from the orphanage who laughed and played is gone. But so is Kaiba, the brother who became his enemy, not his protector. What is left, in the pieces at my feet, is Seto Kaiba, who is neither and both. The brother created by the past, but no longer controlled by it. The brother who may never laugh and play again, but who might be able to reclaim his dream of making others happy with his inventions. The one who may never learn to trust, but who has rediscovered his love for his little brother.

It occurs to me how little I was able to hide after all. The abuse, even my eventual damnation – Mokuba saw it all. And I feel the faint stirrings of another emotion – gratitude. Mokuba can accept what I cannot: that I tried my best to protect him, and failed. I could hang on long enough to get us out of that orphanage. I could hang on long enough to protect him from Gozaburo, if not from myself. And then I failed. I let go of myself. He can forgive that. I cannot.

Knowing everything, he wants me back. He will not abandon the brother who abandoned him. Mokuba can even love the empty shell of the brother who tried to trade his own soul for his little brother's happiness.

As I slowly study the pieces at my feet, I hear him promise, "I will wait forever for Ni-sama to return"