A/N- At last, the final chapter for your enjoyment.
Disclaimer: The OC's in this story are mine and mine alone but I place no claims upon the indomitable Seto Kaiba nor any other character of YuGiOh. Sigh.
The heart that truly loved never forgets, but as truly loves on to the close,
As the sunflower turns on her god, when he sets, the same look which she turned when he rose.
-Sir Thomas Moore
Bright green eyes snapped open to stare at the stark white ceiling above. I'd know that scent anywhere. With effort, Sojo turned his head and was greeted by the face that hovered on the edge of his consciousness for the last two days.
"You're awake," she spoke the obvious and for no reason other than the fact that she had spoken, he smiled.
"It is good to see you, Miss Ari."
"Those should be my words. You gave me a terrific scare," she chastised gently. "I brought you flowers to cheer up your room since you'll be here for a few more days."
His eyes followed her as she arranged the bouquet of daisies on the table next to him.
"Thank you," he murmured for lack of anything better to say.
"I suppose you would like an update on what has happened?" she said as she returned to her chair.
"They haven't told me much."
"I'm not surprised," she admitted. "The man I was going to meet that night was Corrin Abachi."
"The overseas distributor?"
"Yes, except that was just a front. Had we gotten any closer I think you would have recognized him. He was the same man who claimed to be a reporter, Ito Nozaki."
Sojo's eyes narrowed. Oh yeah. I had a really bad feeling about that person that night.
"He was hired by Joko Omaka, but I don't think he was suppose to kill me himself," Ari reflected. "It seems that Omaka had a well thought out plan. He even had a woman who had surgery done to look exactly like me. She was the one who put the Blue Eyes into the duel system when I had the accident."
Sojo frowned thoughtfully. "Even still, for her to get your access codes there had to be someone on the inside."
"There was," Ari said solemnly. "It was Washiro."
Had he the strength to, Ari suspected he would have leaped out of bed and hunted the double-crossing creep down that very minute, judging from the fire that flashed in his eyes.
"He'll get what's coming to him, you can be sure of that," Ari reassured him and he nodded though the fire still burned brightly. Sojo had worked closely with the man and Washiro had been assigned to protect Mokuba Kaiba himself. He should have known what was going on, but then even Seto Kaiba had been thoroughly deceived.
"After I left you I managed to call 911," she decided to continue her story. "But while I was making the call, Washiro found me. He took me back to Kaiba Corp headquarters and when I came to, Mokuba was with me."
Ari grinned suddenly, wickedly. "Washiro will be sporting a couple bruises and a broken rib to remember me by for a little while."
Sojo chuckled softly until he coughed from the exertion. It would have been a sight worth seeing, little Ari Nieche beating the spit out of a man twice her size. She could be vicious when cornered. I'll have to check out those security cameras, he silently told himself.
Ari helped him sip some water before she continued. "So while I'm running all over Kaiba Corp, Seto was called to the scene of the crime where he found the look-alike me and thought I was dead. I have to admit, Omaka had a wicked plan going, but it wasn't good enough. He forgot that I have scars on my hands from the day Matzu died."
"The look-alike didn't," Sojo understood.
"Exactly. So while Seto is figuring that out, Mokuba was up in his office calling for help and I ended up down in the duel test arena with Omaka."
Ari's eyes glazed over slightly in memory. "He would have had me then. There wasn't anything I could do to stop him and no one else knew where I was…"
Ari smirked and glanced down at her hands. "Would you believe we found a good use for solid holograms? I don't know how he found us, but he did and he loaded his Blue Eyes into the duel system and removed all of the safety restraints. It blasted Joko Omaka through the wall."
"I would have liked to have seen that," Sojo remarked.
"I'm sure the camera's caught it," Ari replied. "Omaka survived somehow, but he suffered so much brain damage from the collision with the wall that he's catatonic."
"It's over then," Sojo observed and Ari offered a faint smile.
"Yeah, I guess it is. At least, until something else happens. Never a dull moment at Kaiba Corp," she laughed and he realized there was little effort in her gesture. She was a whole person again.
"I am relieved to see that you are safe, Miss Ari," Sojo said.
Ari smiled down at him. "You saved my life, Sojo. I will never forget that."
"It was my job, Miss Ari," he replied with a shrug, which was very hard to do when one had been shot through the chest.
"It was never just a job to you," she said knowingly as she stood and planted a soft kiss on his cheek. "Get better soon, okay?"
The usually expressionless man was too busy blushing to reply as she left him to stare at a bouquet of happy daisies in her absence.
It was such fun to break through the steel exterior of men like Kaiba and Sojo. Ari knew they were just boys beneath their stony expressions and it was a joy to see that little boy show his flustered face every once in awhile.
Taking a deep breath of the slightly chilled air, Ari turned her face into the sun and smiled peacefully. Yes, everything was going to be okay. Somehow, by some miracle, all of the treasured people in her life had survived Omaka's underhanded attack. Even now as she looked back over the last few months, there was no way of perceiving what Omaka had planned. It had taken them all by complete surprise. Omaka's plan had seemed perfect. How he had managed to fail was still beyond her. By all logic, she should be dead.
Two days after the incident and she still dreamed vividly about it. There was no terror in her dreams anymore. It was more comparable to a feeling of intense power and strength all at the tips of her fingers. The Blue Eyes White Dragon guarded her in that shadowed world and she welcomed its presence. Never would she forget the promise it made her when she lingered on the threshold of dreams and reality.
For Ari Nieche the last two days had been her first taste of freedom. For Seto Kaiba they had been just one continuous headache.
Repairs were now underway on Kaiba Corp and Seto was overseeing them personally which meant long hours at the office, missing dinner with Ari and Mokuba, and little to no sleep at night. Ari's conscience was at rest now, which meant her sleep was peaceful and she was in no need of seeking his protection from nightmares. That left a very restless young man too many hours in the night to berate himself for his ineffectual efforts to protect the woman he loved. For the love of dueling, his little brother's own bodyguard, a man he selected personally, had been bought by the enemy! The danger had never been more than a hair's breath away and he never suspected a thing.
It was bedlam, pure psychotic bedlam in the test arena and Kaiba had to exercise excessive restraint to keep from strangling every idiot that crossed his path. Fixing the eight foot hole in the wall was a small matter compared to fixing the holoduel hardware. The circuits had been fried like a molten box of crayons not to mention the fact that the feedback had toasted several other operating systems in the building. The only thing that survived entirely unscathed was Ari's fiber-optic cable. At this point, its tolerance capacity could only be described as unprecedented for it survived a power surge strong enough to black out the entire tower.
"Why can't all of these morons be as brilliant as her," he growled under his breath as he stalked away from a technician in mid-sentence. Stepping into the observation deck above the arena, Kaiba crossed his arms and glared moodily. The glass had been replaced yesterday, but the massive hole in the room below was still being patched. These were inconsequential repairs compared to the entire reconstruction of the holo-duel system which at present would take thirty-five freaking years—
"Give me that!" he snapped as he wrenched the motherboard out of the startled technician's hands. "Don't you know anything? Get out of here!"
Yes, his patience was all but shredded to pieces. Insufferable fools!
Even as he scowled at the motherboard panel isolating necessary repairs with his expert eyes, he felt a cloud of calm penetrate into the realm of tension and hostility he had created about him.
"Is this a bad time?" she spoke softly behind him and he nearly sighed in relief. At last, someone who has some sense!
"You're timing is impeccable," he growled as he turned to meet her pacifying gaze. Ari leaned casually against the door and offered him a slight smile to ease the tension she could see creasing his forehead. Surprisingly, it had little effect. His mood was too far gone and it was a small wonder that he was the only one in the observation deck since no one could stand to be near him when his temper brewed so close to the breaking point. He was terrifyingly intimidating, but Ari was too worried about him to back down from anything he might unleash upon her.
"I went to see Sojo," she said as she stepped in and closed the door behind her. The man could stand for some isolation, if only for the benefit of everyone working with him.
Kaiba grunted as he turned to set the motherboard down on a consul.
"He was kind of pale, but he looked good. The doctor said he'll keep him for a few more days."
When she received no reply, Ari shook her head and reached out to touch his shoulder. "Are you even listening to me?"
"Doctor said he'll keep him for a few more days," Kaiba replied automatically as he turned to look at her.
Ari sighed. "Seto, you can't keep this up. Look at you! You're completely exhausted, you haven't gotten any sleep in the last couple of days and you are never around for dinner. At this rate, you won't have any people left to fire because they will all have quit on you."
"Kaiba Corp's stock has already begun to drop, Ari. We need to get this system back on line."
"Which you can't do if you work yourself to death, Seto," she took his face in her hands. "Seto, I love you beyond life, but if you do not come home with me right now and get some rest, I swear I will leave you for the next handsome young blue-eyed multibillionaire that comes my way!"
His dark eyes narrowed slightly at her words as his arm slipped possessively around her waist.
"Is that a threat?" he asked.
"I've already got one lined up," she said, amusement dancing across her eyes.
Kaiba raised a brow. "Oh really? Who?"
Ari laughed. "Wouldn't you like to know?" she smirked up at him.
"Come home with me," she returned, the defiant gleam in her eyes assuring him she wasn't going to back down.
His lips descended on hers harshly and her startled cry was smothered by the savage intensity of the kiss. Beneath the icy exterior of the ever-expressionless businessman, passionate fire burned and charged by the frustrations he suffered, he spent it the only way he knew how. Ari clung to him helplessly, afraid he might suddenly release her and she would collapse in a melted heap of unsatisfied longing. But the brutal plundering of her mouth gradually became tender and sweet and she knew, through that moment of reckless abandon, he had expelled his hostility and exasperation.
"Thank you," he breathed when he parted from her lips.
"Always glad to be of service," she gasped and he chuckled, the burning fire in his eyes calmed to simmering embers. He idly trailed his fingers across her reddened lips, his thoughts drifting to so many nights before when he feared he might never hold her like this again.
"Will you come back to the mansion now," she asked softly and drew his attention back to her beseeching eyes.
"I can't," he shook his head and her eyes dimmed with disappointment. "But I promise, I will take tomorrow off."
Her eyes brightened hopefully and he could not help a smile. He lived to see her eyes shine like that.
"As long as I haven't been replaced by then," he said and kissed her quickly before letting her go. Joke she may, but he knew she could not replace him. He would never permit it.
Ari gently tucked the edges of the coverlet around Mokuba's shoulders and dropped a loving kiss on his forehead. He murmured something that reminded her of the sounds a contented puppy might make in slumber and she smiled as she turned the light out. They had spent most of the evening trying to decide what to do with the time Seto had promised them for the next day. Mokuba had a whole list of ideas, but Ari had to remind him in his exuberance that it wouldn't be fair to wear Seto out since it was his day off after all. She had managed to get Mokuba to agree that his brother should be left to sleep in, after that nothing was set. Mokuba had too many ideas, too many things he wanted to do and still had not settled on one yet.
Ari chuckled softly as she walked back to her room and glanced at the clock. It was nearly ten already and Seto still hadn't come home. Perhaps that was just as well. There was something she needed to talk to him about, and was dreading it. The last time they had discussed this particular subject, well, it wasn't pretty to say the least. It wasn't going to go any better this time around either, she was certain.
Pulling a sweater on over her shirt, Ari pushed open the glass doors in her room and stepped out onto the balcony. Spring would be coming soon, finally an end to the long dark winter that would forever remind her of the long dark world she had suffered through. She was free now, of the guilt and the fear. But what was to prevent her life from slipping back into that hapless routine of work and solitude?
Glancing up at the full moon that glowed above her, Ari reached for the pendant around her throat and wondered just how much was really going to change. Kaiba was working himself to the bone to repair the damage done to Kaiba Corp and he would not rest until it was finished. She had put him through so much, so much pain and frustration from the very start. Yes, she loved him more than her own life. She would bear this proof on her hands for the rest of her days. In turn his love for her had broken the boundaries of dreams and reality at the risk of everything he had worked his whole life for. He knew the risks of running her holo-duel program without restraints and they had been inconsequential. As promised, he had protected her in his own way.
Their relationship had been a volatile one from the start, and seemingly destined to end in the death of one or both of them. Would it continue this way? Would they ever find peace?
"Is Mokuba in bed?"
Ari kept her gaze out over the gardens beneath her, wondering silently if she had flinched when he spoke for she had never even heard his steps.
Strong arms wrapped around her and pulled her snuggly back against him, his head dropping to rest against hers. She smiled slightly when she felt him take a deep breath of her vanilla scent.
"What are you thinking about," he murmured softly.
"We need to talk," she said hesitantly after a moment and immediately he stiffened.
"Talk?" he echoed suspiciously and she could hear the frown in his voice. "You're thinking of moving back to your apartment, aren't you?"
How does he do that?
She tensed as she awaited the explosion that never came.
"Why?" he asked instead.
"I have my memories back, Omaka is no longer a threat…" all of my previous reasons for staying are gone.
Seto's arms tightened around her as if she might leap over the balcony that very moment and make a break for the gate. "I think you should stay just a little longer."
"A little longer?" she murmured. "How much longer is a little longer?"
Seto gently grasped her left wrist and freed her hand from where it had been tucked securely beneath her crossed arms. And as she watched, he plucked a star from the sky and slid it onto her finger.
"Let's start with forever," he whispered, "and work from there."
Ari blinked in stunned silence at the brilliant diamond hugging her finger as if it had been created in that very moment for her alone. It was a seal, a promise, and his means to keep her beside him always. Gentle fingers gripped her chin and guided her gaze up towards him. Her pale eyes glittered with fresh tears and even as they began to trail down her cheek, he claimed her lips for his own.
His heart faltered at the possibility that she might refuse him, but he simply could not allow her. He would not accept no for an answer and he would spend all night convincing her of this if necessary. But it might not prove necessary, he realized as she turned into his embrace and returned his kiss with equal longing. Her cool fingers trailed up the sides of his face to curl in his thick hair and he clutched her slim body tightly against him. Even in darkness, her heart had always known him.
Ari pulled away and he gazed at her kindly as he wiped at the glistening streaks her tears had left. There had been so much pain for the both of them. Tenderly he kissed her damp cheeks and she closed her eyes, sniffling softly.
"I suppose," she murmured.
Pale jeweled eyes opened to lock with cerulean fire. "I suppose forever is a good place to start."
He grinned roguishly as he tangled his fingers in her long hair and tilted her head back. "Now you see? I always get what I want."
Her eyes immediately flashed in challenge and he hungrily captured her lips to taste every bit of her burning defiance. They would have the rest of their lives to battle over the matter of possession but beyond doubt he knew, this divine creature of his obsession was, at last, eternally his to keep.
Princess Shadowcat- Kaiba and Ari were only kissing, but you can imagine how that might embarrass a thirteen year old boy when he's got two cops with him.
I would like to send a special thank you to everyone who faithfully reviewed throughout the duration of The Possession and The Obsession, to everyone who managed to drag themselves out of the shadows just to say that they were enjoying the fics, and to all of the chibi shy shadow readers who were unable to review for whatever reason but still enjoyed reading the stories. I am here for your enjoyment…and mine but who says it can't be a give and take relationship, eh?
My next fanfiction will be a Rurouni Kenshin fic and I will begin posting within the week. Till then, take care!