Fly Away

By LuckyLadybug

Notes: Ahhh, the usual disclaimers you will find if you are familiar with my fics XD The characters aren't mine, the story is, and this is sibling and friendship angst and cuteness and not yaoi, so please don't think of it that way. ;; . . . Etc., etc. And so, without further ado, the story! I apologize for removal of the song, but the site's newly stated policy means that I have to.

The shouting . . . the screams . . . the blood. . . . It's so dizzying . . . it's everywhere! I can't escape from it, no matter how hard I try! And it's my fault . . . it's all my fault! It doesn't matter what anyone else says; I know I caused this. I know I did!

I hear the police sirens . . . the gang members running away in every direction . . . their weapons—their awful, horrible weapons—dropping to the ground, unnoticed, as they run.

The blood stains the concrete as my brother and my best friend both lay still on the ground. I run back and forth between them, screaming and pleading for them to get up.

"Seto! Marik! Come on, please!" I hear myself wailing. "You've gotta get up!" I shake first Seto and then Marik for the millionth time, but neither of them move or even moan.

In horror I drop to my knees in their blood, not caring as it gets all over me. They wouldn't be hurt if it wasn't for me! I caused this! I didn't listen to their warnings when they were only worried about me, and now they're both hurt! Or . . . or even worse, maybe they're both . . .

Tears start falling from my eyes, but I angrily fling them away. How could I have let this happen! Why didn't I leave when they told me to? Why did I insist on staying around those jerks after Marik told me what they really were? Why! WHY!

Why do I have to be so stupid?

Abruptly Seto moves, wincing as he does so. Instantly I'm at his side, my eyes wide. "Seto!" I cry, heartsick at what my irresponsibility has done to my big brother, the only family I have left and the one who was always there for me and stuck by me through everything. "Seto, I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry. . . . I didn't mean to cause this! I didn't mean to!"

He looks up at me, his eyes glassy and unfocused. "Mokuba . . . I know you just wanted some friends," he manages to say, shakily trying to reach up to brush away my tears. "I'm sorry they didn't . . . turn out to be what you wanted."

"No, Seto, no!" I sob, clutching his hand and holding it close. "I . . . I have you and Marik! You're both my best friends ever, big brother, and . . ." The tears won't stop. "I betrayed you! I betrayed you and Marik!"

"You didn't betray us, kid," Seto answers, breathing heavily. "Look, I'm okay. . . . The bullet only dazed me for a few minutes." He struggles to sit up, despite my vehement protests, and then gathers me into his arms.

I can't be comforted. "Seto, you could've been killed! And Marik . . . he's . . ." I look back at his body with a hiccup. He hasn't stirred. "I don't deserve to have you for my brother, Seto! And I don't deserve to have Marik as my friend! Look what's happened! There's no excuse for this, Seto! I know there's not! I've killed him, Seto! I've killed him because I was so stupid!"

"No, Mokuba, no," Seto whispers.

It isn't long before the police officers come over to where we are. They ask what happened and Seto says that we got into the middle of a gang war, without explaining the details.

"Seto and Marik were both shot!" I tell them, the tears again beginning to fall.

"I'm alright," Seto retorts. "Check the Egyptian."

One officer kneels down by Marik and turns him over. "Shot in the back and the chest," he murmurs, narrowing his eyes. I can tell what he's thinking. I know what's happened. I know what he's going to say before he even says it.

"He's dead."

I grab Seto and sob into his trenchcoat. Marik's dead! He's dead, and I almost lost Seto as well! The two people I care about most are both hurt, and one of them I'll never be able to talk to again! And it's all my fault! It's all mine!

All mine . . .


This nightmare started about three weeks ago, when I was walking home from school. I was anxious to get back and see Seto, and I wasn't really paying attention to what was going on in the area.

"Hey!" a voice called from behind me.

"Me?" I asked in disbelief, turning around slowly upon not seeing anyone else nearby.

"Yeah, you." A tall kid about two years older than me was leaning against a tree. "You're Mokuba Kaiba, right?"

I blinked, wondering why a junior high student would be noticing me. Especially this junior high student. His name was Jim Evans, and he was one of the most popular kids around. He never hung out with elementary school kids, let alone talk to them! "Um, yeah," I said slowly. Most of the kids always shun me because they think I'm some kinda spoiled rich brat. "What do you want?"

"Hey, no need to get defensive," Jim answered with a wave of his hands. "Truth is, I was just wondering if you maybe wanted to hang out with me and a few of my friends?"

If I'd been startled before, I was absolutely baffled now. "Why me?" I asked finally.

Jim shrugged. "I've seen you around. You seem like an intelligent, no-nonsense, cool kind of guy. And certainly not spoiled or a brat." He smirked slightly at that.

I was so surprised I could hardly think of what to say. Someone around my age thought that I was cool! I couldn't even remember the last time I'd had a friend around my age.

"Well?" Jim's voice broke in calmly. "What do you say, Mokuba?"

I hesitated before answering. "Alright, but only for a while," I said at last. "My brother will be waiting for me."

"That's fine," Jim said, indicating for me to follow him to the shared grounds of the elementary and the junior high schools. "We'll just hang out in the schoolyard and play Monster Capsule or something."

And so that was how I became friend with Jim and his buddies. They all treated me really nice and didn't even care that I'm rich, like the other kids there seem to. If only I'd been willing to realize why they didn't care. . . .

Seto was waiting when I came through the door a couple of hours later.

"Mokuba, where have you been?" he demanded sternly. "Do you know when you were supposed to be home?"

Instantly I felt guilty. "I'm sorry, big brother," I said softly, running over and giving him a hug. "I was on the school grounds. I made some new friends today!" I told him excitedly.

He blinked in surprise and then smiled. "I'm happy that you did, Mokuba," he said then. "But next time, I want you to call me. Do you understand?"

I nodded. "I'll remember, Seto," I grinned before hurrying upstairs.

Over the next few days, I became really good pals with Jim and the others, hanging out with them after school, on the weekends, and even at night, when Seto would let me. Usually he was working late and I would just leave the house without him or any of the maids even knowing. Jim's friends were all older than he and I, but they all wanted to have as much fun as we did.

One night Marik was riding his motorcycle and he saw me walking home after staying out late at the arcade with them. Immediately he pulled over to the side of the road and removed his helmet, sending his blonde hair flying in all directions. "Mokuba, what are you doing out so late?" he exclaimed, leaning on the handlebars of his bike.

"Nothing," I replied a bit defensively.

"Mokuba, it's almost midnight!" Marik retorted. "I'm sure your brother doesn't know you're out. Am I right?"

I kicked at the ground, frustrated at being caught. "He's working late."

"Mokuba, we're friends, aren't we?" Marik climbed off the motorcycle and came to stand in front of me, his arms crossed.

Now I gave him an annoyed look. What kind of dumb question was that? "Of course we're friends," I mumbled.

"Then don't you trust me? I trust that you haven't been getting into any mischief." Marik looked at me seriously. "You can tell me where you've been, Mokuba."

At the moment all I could think of was that I needed to get home before Seto got back and that I didn't want to get in trouble. Marik was just in my way. "I was at the arcade, okay!" I snapped.

Marik blinked, surprised at my tone of voice. "You were at the arcade alone late at night?" he asked, trying to understand.

"I wasn't alone!" I shot back. "See, I've made a bunch of new friends and we were hanging out there."

"I see." Marik half-turned, still studying me. "So that is why I haven't seen much of you lately." He had an annoying, serious tone to his voice that I wasn't accepting very well at the time. "Well . . . I am certain that your friends would understand if you told them that you had to be home at a particular time. That is, if they are true friends."

"Hey, it's not like we were doing something bad!" I yelled at him.

"That's not exactly the point, my friend," Marik sighed. "The point is that your brother doesn't like you wandering down the streets alone at this time of night."

"Nothing's gonna happen to me," I retorted.

"Whether something does or doesn't, you are disobeying your brother, and you may regret it someday," Marik replied somberly. "I will take you back home, Mokuba. Come." He gestured toward his motorcycle.

"I can get home myself!" Without waiting for Marik's answer to that, I took off running in the opposite direction, just feeling angry and annoyed. Marik thought he knew so much more than me, just 'cause he was six years older! Well, I'd prove he was wrong!

I could hear him calling for me to come back, but I didn't pay any attention. I'd much rather be with my new friends, I decided. They were a lot more fun.

Predictably, Seto brought up the past night's events at breakfast the next morning.

"Mokuba, were you out late last night?" he asked.

I stopped in mid-chew and set the spoon back in the bowl of cereal. "Were you talking to Marik?" I asked bitterly.

"Actually, I was," Seto replied, "but I also thought I heard someone sneaking in to your room last night. When I went up to see, all I found was you pretending to be asleep in bed. I decided I would let things wait until now." He pushed his own cereal aside and looked at me. "Frankly, I'm starting to get concerned about you, Mokuba."

"Why?" I burst out. "Why does everyone think it's so wrong for me to have some friends!"

Seto sighed. "It's wonderful for you to have friends, Mokuba. But lately it seems like you've been neglecting everything and everyone else to be with them. Your grades have been slipping. You haven't even wanted to be with Marik lately. And you've been ignoring the rules," he added pointedly.

"Look, I'm sorry about last night," I mumbled.

"I have the feeling that it wasn't just last night that you stayed out past midnight," Seto said somberly.

"It won't happen again!" I blurted, just wanting to get away from my brother for the first time in my life. I don't like when he's upset with me. Of course, this time he had a reason to be. I just didn't wanna acknowledge that.

"It had better not," Seto answered sternly.

I barely remembered Seto's words, if I did at all, as I hurried off to school. I hung out with Jim and the others at lunchtime as usual and then promised to meet them at the mall that evening.

Marik just so happened to be passing by as I was waving to Jim and the others. "Mokuba," he began, an almost alarmed expression on his face.

I turned. "Oh, it's you," I sighed.

Marik ignored that, but I could tell he was hurt. "Mokuba, those wouldn't happen to be your new friends, would they?" he asked.

"So what if they are?" I retorted, adjusting my backpack.

"They're very dangerous," Marik told me.

If I hadn't been so upset, I might've laughed. "Dangerous!" I repeated. "Come on, Marik, they're just kids like me!"

Marik sighed and shook his head. "No, Mokuba," he said gently. "The one boy, Jim, is the secret leader of a gang that his older brother used to head."

I stared at him in disbelief. "Marik, that's crazy!" I yelled.

"Mokuba, the older brother used to be one of the Rare Hunters," Marik asked, still speaking quietly and apparently worried that we'd be overheard. "Before that, he started the gang and eventually he wound up arrested—after his stint as a Rare Hunter—for killing at least half a dozen people during a gang war. Jim is his protégé and is heading down that same path."

For some reason, this made me more upset at Marik than I'd been before. "You're just jealous!" I said meanly. "You're just jealous because I've found some other friends and you're making stuff up!"

"Mokuba, no," Marik protested, trying to walk over closer. "Please, listen to me! I am only concerned about you. Jim is obviously trying to recruit others to join his gang, and . . ."

"Shut up!" I yelled, shoving him hard and roughly. "Just shut up and stay away from me!"

Marik cried out as he fell backward and wound up sitting down hard on the sidewalk. He gazed up at me in shock, obviously having not expected that at all.

"I'm not some little kid, Marik! I can choose my own friends! And I don't think I should've ever chosen you! I don't wanna be your friend anymore!" I told him then. "You're lying about Jim and the others! You're lying and I'm gonna prove it!" Once again I ran off in the opposite direction. At that moment, I thought I couldn't care less what happened to my former friend.

When I got to the mall that evening, Jim and the others were already waiting.

"Mokuba! Hey!" Brenda called, waving.

"Glad to see you could make it," Jim smiled. "Come on with us."

"Where are we going?" I asked, blinking as we went around the side of the building. "I thought we were gonna go inside."

"Oh, we are," Jim assured me, "but first . . ." He grinned and pulled a packet of something out from his pocket. "Look what I got for us."

"What is that?" I asked, starting to feel uneasy.

"Only the highest quality cigarettes," Mike smirked as Jim passed them all around.

I took a deep breath. Could Seto and Marik have been right! The fleeting thought went through my mind before I brushed it aside. I'd just refuse to smoke with them and everything would be alright. They'd understand, I told myself.

"What's the matter?" Jim asked, snapping me back to the present. I realized that the pack of cigarettes must've been in front of me for some time.

Quickly I tried to choke out my answer. "Oh, uh, well . . . it's just that . . ."

"Never smoked, huh?" Brenda supplied, taking a puff and blowing the smoke into the air.

"Well, uh, no, actually . . ." I grinned lopsidedly, feeling my stomach turn over.

"Perfect time to start," Jim said with a grin of his own.

I shifted uncomfortably. "I don't know . . ."

"You don't know what you're missing," Jim snorted. "Come on, no one'll find out. We've been doing it for months and our parents are still clueless."

"Months!" I gasped.

"Man, you must be really sheltered or something," Mike remarked. "I hope you're not gonna be so chicken about the rest of the evening we've got planned."

"Of course he won't be," Jim defended me. "Will you, Mokuba?"

I blinked at him, starting to find it hard to breathe with all the cigarette smoke. "What have you got planned?" I asked, hoping so desperately that it just involved an innocent trip to the mall to play the new video games.

"Well . . ." Jim paused for effect while he puffed on his cigarette. "First we should get some good electronic equipment from the mall. Then . . ." He crossed his arms. "We're gonna finish what my brother started years ago."

I just gaped at him, now feeling an overwhelming urge to turn around and run. "You're gonna steal stuff!" I cried.

"We've never been caught yet," Brenda smirked. "And hey, you should be honored that Jim wants you to be in on our secret mission."

"What kinda secret mission is it?" I asked, certain that I was standing stiff and rigid.

"You should do ask a lot of questions," Jim sniffed. "But my brother was out to take down the gang rivaling his. He got arrested and put in prison in the middle of his heroic act. Now . . ." He smiled. "I'm gonna prove that I'm just as good as he was. I'm sure that you, having a big brother of your own, can understand this, Mokuba. He needs to be avenged!"

"But . . ." I clenched my fists. "You can't just go around killing people!"

Jim pulled out a gun. "This says I can," he said, grinning in the most horrible way.

Now I knew I had to get out of this. Marik was right all along! "I can't help you guys with this!" I yelled, turning to run.

"So you're just turning against your friends?" Mike said, narrowing his eyes.

"You guys aren't my friends!" I retorted. "Real friends wouldn't act like this!"

"Well, if you're just leaving . . ." Jim raised his gun. "Then I'll just havta take you down too!"

"No! Mokuba!"

I turned to look and saw Marik running toward the scene. He shoved me away just as both Jim and Mike fired. All I could do was stand by in horror and watch as he fell to the ground eerily without making a sound.

"Marik! Marik, no!" I screamed, trying to run to him.

Brenda and Carl pointed their guns at me as well. "We can't let traitors go free," Carl hissed.

"It's really a shame about you, Mokuba," Jim said, tsk-tsking and shaking his head. "I thought you had so much potential."

"I've got more potential than you guys do," I said angrily. "Potential for having a real life! What's gonna happen to all of you? You're all gonna wind up in prison just like Jim's older brother! At least I'm gonna have a good, honest life! I don't care if I'm shunned by the other kids at school. I know I have real friends!" I tried to ignore the tears stinging at my eyes as I looked at Marik. He hadn't moved and blood was pooling underneath him. "Real friends are always there for you, even . . ." My voice choked. "Even when you haven't been there for them," I finished, barely above a whisper.

"Isn't that sweet?" Mike said sarcastically. "Too bad those are gonna be your last words."

"I don't think so."

Suddenly Mike was struck from behind as Seto came up behind him and delivered a karate chop to the back of his neck. He gasped, sinking to the concrete.

"Big brother!" I cried, my eyes wide.

Seto looked at the others, steely-eyed. "After what you've done—and tried to do—to Mokuba, I'll be more than happy to do that—and more—to each and every one of you!" he said in a dangerous voice, pointing to a stunned Mike.

"Just try it," Jim hissed, raising his gun again.

"Stop it, you big jerk!" I screamed, finding a rock and throwing it, causing the gun to drop from his hands.

"Why you little . . ." He turned to me, his eyes narrowed furiously.

Before he could do whatever it was he wanted—or even finish his sentence—Seto twisted his arm painfully and threw him back against Carl, who gasped in surprise.

It all happened so fast . . . Brenda firing . . . hitting Seto in the side. . . . I watched him fall as well, feeling my entire world crumble. "SETO!" I screamed. "BIG BROTHER!"

That was when the police sirens sounded off in the distance and Jim and his friends decided it was the perfect time to make their getaway.

Now I know that Seto is alive. . . . But he could've died. And Marik has. All because of me! I did this! I did it all! I caused my brother to be hurt and my best friend to be killed. He never knew how sorry I am. And now he never will.

End Flashback

I can't stand to watch as the blood spills from Marik's poor body while the police officers call for an ambulance. "Seto," I wail, looking up at him, "Seto, why am I like this!"

Seto looks back at me, obviously not understanding. "Like what, Mokuba?" he asks softly.

"Like this!" I cry in rage. "I wouldn't even listen to you or Marik because I wanted to hang out with some people I'd only known for a few weeks! I trusted them more than I trusted the ones I've known for years! Why, Seto! WHY!"

Seto sighs, staring out into the distance. "I suppose it's because perhaps you've been longing for a friend at school when everyone was shunning you, and when you met this Jim person, you thought he would be that friend. He knew that, and so he was putting his best foot forward to try and ensnare you."

"Yeah, and I fell for it!" I yell, squirming out of Seto's arms and standing up. "Look what I've done, Seto! Just look! You've been shot, and Marik has too, and now he's dead! Someone's dead because of me!" The tears spring to my eyes again, but I ignore them.

"Marik's never gonna get up!" I sob now, glancing over as they load his body onto a stretcher. "Never again . . ." I turn away, not wanting Seto to see me cry.

"Mokuba . . ." Seto struggles to stand, blood pouring from his own wound. "Do you see the way they're hurrying? They wouldn't be moving that fast if they were dealing with a corpse."

I stare at him. "But . . . but the officer said . . ."

Seto lays a hand on my shoulder. "He may have made a mistake," he tells me gently. "I believe Marik is still alive."

Before I can reply, a paramedic comes over to us. "Sir, you should go to the hospital as well," she says, staring at the bullet wound in Seto's side.

He only grunts at her. "I've had bullets go through me before," he says. "It's nothing. I'll be fine."

"I really think you should come anyway," she persists. "It may have gotten infected."

I stare up at him again. What if . . . what if there's still the chance that I'll lose my big brother! That can't happen! It CAN'T!

"Seto, please, big brother," I whisper. "I don't wanna be responsible for . . . for you dying!"

"I'm not gonna die, kid," he tries to assure me, but I won't listen.

"Oh, Seto, please at least let them look!" I wail, feeling so helpless. This is all too much for me to handle. And knowing that I'm the reason the two people I care about most are hurt . . .

Finally Seto puts his arm around me, understanding what I'm going through. "Alright," he agrees. "I'll do it for you, kid. But I'm not going in the ambulance," he adds firmly.

"Just as long as you go," I say softly.

I sit in the hospital waiting room, not knowing what I'm supposed to think or feel. A whole mixture of emotions are going through me right now and I don't know how to deal with them.

Fear, anger, rage, overwhelming horror, and worry are among the things I'm feeling. I can't even look at Ishizu and Rishid. I treated their brother—my best friend—so horribly! I even pushed him and told him I didn't want to be his friend! After everything he's done for me . . . how could I possibly have said that!

And Seto . . . I hadn't treated him very well either. Not just being mean to him verbally, but also ignoring the rules he'd set for me. All he wants is to keep me safe. I never wanted to do anything to hurt my big brother! He means the world to me!

And yet, after the events of one night, both he and Marik could be taken away from me at any time.

I dare to glance over at Ishizu. She's hugging Rishid and trying so desperately not to cry. I can see he is as well.

"It's going to be alright, Ishizu," he says softly, his voice breaking. "Marik will come through this. . . . He will. . . ."

Ishizu takes a deep breath. "Rishid, he can't survive every time," she answers him. "Someday, he just won't make it. . . ." Now she does start crying, unable to stop herself.

I stand up and go to the window, staring out at the lights of Domino City. Everything out there looks calm and peaceful. Is anyone else tonight suffering because of someone's stupid mistakes? There's no excuse for what I've done. And if Marik does survive, by some miracle, I don't how he can ever forgive me. I'd never expect him to.

But still . . . hasn't he already proved he has forgiven me? He was willing to give his own life for me, even after all the mean things I'd done to him!

It occurs to me that, when I'd pushed him, I hadn't cared what happened to him. At least, that's what I'd insisted I was thinking. How could I have even tried to think that! Of course I care! Other than Seto, Marik's my closest friend! All they were trying to do was help me! Why couldn't I see it!


I turn as Seto comes limping up behind me and then I angrily brush a tear away. "Big brother . . ."

Seto pulls me close.

"Seto, I really deserve to be punished in the worst way," I whisper.

He looks at me hard. "You've punished yourself enough," he says then. "I know how horrible you've been feeling."

A doctor enters the room and starts talking with Ishizu and Rishid. I try to hear what's being said, but I can't.

I do hear Ishizu's gasp and Rishid's cry of alarm and know that this can't be good.

"He's dead!" I sob shakily. "He must be dead! What else could it be!"

Seto looks grim, but I can tell he's trying to not let me notice. "Maybe he's just badly hurt," he suggests.

Ishizu and Rishid now follow the doctor out into the hall and around a corner.

"Seto, I've gotta know what happened to him!" I beg. "Please, big brother!"

Seto gives me a compassionate look. "Well . . . he did find you before I was able to," he muses. "I found out who your 'friends' really were, but I didn't know where to go to look for you until he called and told me what he'd overheard."

I'm silent for a minute. Seto and Marik care so much! They risked everything for me! "You and Marik have always been my best friends," I tell him sincerely. "Big brother . . . I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!"

"I know you are, kid," Seto replies gently. He hugs me and then goes to ask about Marik at the nurse's station.

Before long he comes back over. "Marik's still alive," he announces, much to my joy. "He isn't responding to anything, though," he adds then. "Ishizu and Rishid went to try to get him to acknowledge them."

"He'll respond to them, won't he?" I demand to know. "I mean, he always knows when they're with him! They have a special bond, just like you and me have, Seto! Please tell me he'll respond to them!" Tears start to well up in my eyes again, and this time I don't bother to brush them away.

Seto doesn't answer for a long time. "I honestly don't know," he says at last.

"I wanna see him," I whisper. "I'm the reason he's laying in there all unconscious and . . . and . . ."

Seto strokes my hair. "You'll get in there to see him," he promises. "I'll make sure of it. And if anyone tries to stop you, I can always fire them." He smirks slightly at this and I actually manage to giggle.

Soon I'm standing at Marik's door. Slowly I inch it open and gaze inside, my hands shaking.

Ishizu and Rishid are each holding one of Marik's hands and they seem to be praying. Marik stirs slightly and moans, obviously aware of them as he clutches their hands. I grin happily as I watch this.

Ishizu opens her eyes and smiles, kissing Marik's hand gently. Rishid gives his brother a caring look and then glances at me. I back up, ashamed to be here, but Rishid motions for me to come in.

I stand in front of my dear friend's body, looking down at him. "Marik?" I say softly. "Can you hear me?"

He doesn't answer and lays still again, his bare chest slowly rising and falling. At least he's still alive. . . . I was so scared that he wasn't . . .

"Is he . . . is he gonna make it?" I have to ask.

"Marik will not give up," Ishizu responds. "He never does, and we shall never give up on him."

"Is there . . . anything I can do?" I come closer and stare into his pale, gaunt face.

"Just be here for him, as he was for you," Rishid answers.

Marik's eyes flutter open and he looks up at his older siblings, who smile and hug him, whispering something in Egyptian. He hugs them back as best he can, trying to reply and finding that his voice is raspy and weak.

"Marik!" I cry happily, then stop, not knowing what to say. How do I ever apologize after everything I did? Just a simple "I'm sorry" doesn't seem good enough.

Marik looks over at me quizzically, not speaking. I guess he isn't sure what to say, either.

Suddenly I get an idea. I hold out my hand and reach for his, grasping it the same way I did when we made our friendship pact. Will he accept my attempt to apologize? I wait nervously.

Marik blinks, not doing anything at first. He just stares in seeming disbelief, first at our hands and then at me.

Finally Marik responds, squeezing my hand and then giving me the thumbs-up sign. All is forgiven, his eyes seem to say. It's alright, my friend.

Instantly I leap into his arms, crying happily. "Marik! I'm so sorry, Marik! You're my best buddy! I never wanted you to get hurt! Never!"

"Do not worry," Marik rasps. "As long as you have learned your lesson. . . ."

"I have, Marik! I really have! I promise I'll listen to you and Seto! I know you're only tryin' to help me and keep me safe. . . ." I look away. "But I totally blew it. Thanks to me, you and Seto both nearly were . . ."

"Let's put the past behind us," Marik replies softly. "You forgave me for Battle City, and I have forgiven you for this. We shall make a fresh start. Alright?"

I grin broadly in reply and hug him again.

Now I'm going home with Seto. It's been such a long day and night . . . so much has happened. . . .

I lean against him in the limo, my eyes starting to close. He smiles, putting his arm around me, and tells me to sleep.

"I love you, big brother," I tell him with a returning smile.

Seto wraps his trenchcoat around me. "And I love you, kid," he replies.

I doze off to sleep, knowing that I have the best friends I could ever possibly want and that I'll never, ever do anything to betray them again.