I would like to say that night solved all of Seto's problems, resolved all of his doubts. But he remains very much a work in progress, as I suppose do I. Despite his best efforts, there is still a sense that he walks lightly on this earth, and what will happen when Mokuba turns 18, and he decides he's finally redeemed his last promise is anyone's guess.
He once told me that from the moment he saw Gozaburo, he had made his plans; that each day was just another step along the road he had built. He said it with such weariness, that I sometimes wonder if he is capable of killing himself simply because it might be the last item to be checked off on some internal list. And knowing Kaiba's methodical nature, I find it hard to believe that he had started this journey without having a destination in mind.
Yet I see hopeful signs too. He has finally taught Mokuba his game, and helped him build a deck. It is a quicksilver deck, like Mokuba himself – designed to ensnare the unwary, and full of creatures of light and enchantment – with all the trap and magic cards to protect them that Seto denies himself. Mokuba, of course, had absorbed the strategy from his years at Kaiba's side, but he will never rival his brother's ability. Thankfully, he does not have Kaiba's cold calculation, nor his burning need to win. He isn't interested in formal competitions, but prefers playing with his friends, for the sheer fun of it. He can beat Anzu already, and it won't be long until he topples Jounouchi. Seto can't wait to see the look on Jou's face when he loses to a second Kaiba brother. Seto, of course, is Mokuba's favorite opponent, and I love watching him struggle not to crush his little brother. But although he plays without his trademark ruthlessness, he will not let Mokuba win, and growls at me when I do so. We have fought again, but that duel at the newly completed Kaiba Stadium remains his one true victory. We have silently agreed to call Duelists' Kingdom a draw.
He still will only leave the house with his trench coat billowing behind him, his modern day armor against the world. But in the privacy of the mansion grounds, he has started to swim. He seems secure in the knowledge that Mokuba and I have already seen and accepted his scars. He is surprisingly buoyant in the water. He wears t-shirts around the house now, black or deep blue, of course, and the tattoo glows against his pale skin. I hope it is another promise.
Anzu had seen it from the beginning. We are quite a pair. I am an ancient spirit who has been newly reborn, and Kaiba was, indeed, raised by wolves. I have been conscious for 3,000 years; Seto has walked this earth for 17. I have a past that I can not remember, Seto has one that he can not forget.
Yugi is, and will always be, my light. I am drawn to his joy, his courage, the love he so effortlessly expends on his family and friends. Loving Yugi is as natural as absorbing Ra's light and reflecting it back. I would have stayed with him happily, curled snugly in his consciousness forever. But Yugi desired a more conventional destiny and I had left him free to pursue it; to learn that Anzu loved him truly, and not just as a reflection of our union.
Being part of Yugi was like being part of the innocence and hope in the world. Embracing Seto has meant embracing its passion and suffering; finding value in its unceasing struggle. Yet as Yugi's light draws me, so too does Seto's darkness. His relentless torturous path towards redemption, towards understanding, mirrors my own.
The fire in his dragon's soul has kindled my heart. And I find myself loving even those traits that once angered me most: his too-ready assumption of burdens far too heavy to bear, his stubborn refusal to accept the help he so desperately needs to carry them. I find myself smiling at the way he recklessly challenges life, as if fate was just another adversary on the field. Even his very inexpressiveness moves me, now that he has revealed himself in all his flawed beauty.
The Blue Eyes White Dragon is more than the Dark Magician's nemesis; he is its mate. This dragon, in whom darkness and light have finally become one: in the blaze of his anger, the brilliance of his dreams, the heat of his love.
Not that Seto would use the 'L' word, as he flippantly refers to it, as if to deny its power. Yet I am not fooled, will never be fooled again. He has shown himself to be capable of great steadfastness, passion and even trust. And I have seen his Dark Magician. It is only the words, as always, that elude him. But I have learned to hear his silent language.
I still don't know what happened between us in the past, but it no longer matters. Now I have him in my arms, to love and to hold. He is mine, and I will never relinquish him again.
I had thought my remaining memories gone. They were the price I had paid to remain in this world, to finally live out a normal span. But suddenly, as I lay beside my sleeping dragon, I saw us, facing each other, as we had stood in the stone tablet Isis had showed me; the tablet I have seen so often in my dreams. And I knew I was finally seeing the scene that had been recorded there.
"Damn you! Do you realize what you've done?" Seto raged at me. "You've sealed yourself in that puzzle for the next 3,000 years."
"You know it's the only way. The power of the items needs a vessel – me. Egypt requires a pharaoh – you." I replied.
"So my insane father will get his wish. You will disappear and his son will rule. Who says that crime doesn't pay?" he spat out bitterly. "I'll lose you forever."
"Maybe, if the fates are kind, we will find each other again." I said to comfort him.
"I don't intend to rely on fate. I prefer to make my own destiny." He suddenly grabbed my puzzle, held it in his cupped hands. It glowed softly as he swore, "I will never rest until I find you again. No grave shall hold me. No life shall have meaning, until the life I share with you."
"Do you realize what you've done?" I echoed. You've sealed your promise on my puzzle. It will hold you for as long as it binds me. You've damned yourself."
"Too late. My father damned me long ago, when he sacrificed a village to gain the power to make me pharaoh."
"Do you think this is what I wanted for you?" I cried out, "I was trying to protect you."
His smile did not warm his icy blue gaze. "Then come find me in 3,000 years or so. If not…" he shrugged, "You should have known that you couldn't protect me from myself."
As the vision faded, I snuggled up to my priest, warm and safe in my arms, and held him closer. "Ah, but I can try." I thought.
PLEASE READ AND REVIEW: I know I no longer have updates to entice you with, but I'd really like to know what you thought about the ending and just what struck you about the story in general, now that it's over. I guess I'm going to have a hard time saying good-bye to these guys, so I'd appreciate hearing from you.
It's funny, but one of the perks of writing a story is that you occasionally get to have one of your characters say something you believe. Like Kaiba, I believe there are no happy endings, because as long as you're alive, nothing really ends (and for those left, even death provides less closure than you'd think.) But I also believe that one of a story's jobs is to repair life's little deficiencies, so I wanted my story to truly end, even while keeping the sense that the character's lives go on.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Although he'll never read this, I'd like to thank Kazuki Takahashi for creating such vibrant characters. I hope you don't mind that I borrowed them for a long journey of my own.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Well, it's been a long journey, and I'd like to thank everyone who stuck it out with me. I learned a lot of things along the way: that a tattoo can actually be applied over a burn (I went into a tattoo parlor and asked); that blimps are filled with helium and not hot air; that kitsure soba sounds better than it tastes; and that I never want to see an Atlas Moth caterpillar.
Most of all, I learned that I was more creative than I thought; that I could go from telling myself stories in my head to writing one down. And I learned that if I trusted my characters enough… if I let them become real to me… then I could pass that along to the people reading.
So I guess I also learned that although I had always thought that reading and writing were solitary activities, this felt like being part of a community. Cards took six months to tell. If I took another six months, I couldn't say how much it meant to me to see all the people who took the time to review. Along the way, it helped me think more deeply about the characters, about how Yami would feel outside of his puzzle, or what kind of relationship Mokuba and Yami would have, or whether Kaiba would be jealous of Yugi. It also reminded me that it wasn't enough to know the answer in my head, that I was sharing a story as much as telling one.
I'd like to thank Kagemihari and samurai ashes and Crimson Violet Eyes for always listening and talking, and all the people who reviewed, often week after week, and who I started to look for:: Angel Yami-ko, animebay-b, AnimeFan-Artemis, Blue September, Callisto Firestarter, Ceresi, Cherrii, Chibi Angelic Slayer, Crimson Violet Eyes, Crimson Winter, Dai-na1, Desidera, Female Yami/Yugi, Jargonelle, laura m, Leland Lancaster, Lightning Sage, lil puplflwr, Lone Wolf 55, Mistress of Dragons, mrsbinx 1013, OrangeGirlExplosion, Red Dragon 4, Rowan and Sakura, Ryo0oki, Sailor Pride and Yumi-Chan, Seth-the lonely soul, Seto Kaiba's-Fan, Shadowfire, Smoocher of Evil, Solitaire and Xpyne, Spirit Star, Sunrise and Sunset, Sword Master Jeff, Tammi1, Tainted Fortune, Tokemi, Tuulikki, Unintentional Nightmare, Unsolvable Riddle, Vegeta999,Yamato 795, and of course my anonymous reviewer. I'd also like to thank everyone who took the time and trouble to let me know what they thought of my story and ask questions or offer suggestions: Angelic Slayer, Blackkightmare, cerridwen 10, DBZEcoGoth, Fallen Angel, IceRoseDragonGurl, Hioki, Kael Kalespel, Kaiba's Kobito, Katarzynal K Yue, Kathy, LeafkiD, Light Spirit Sage, lil angel, mezu, mOoNiTe-rApHsOdY, Nii Geni, Pamster, Riku, Silver Mist 4, Solitaire, ssjmiratrks, swoot, and Zoe.