LOOK, Veronica…I don't mean to intrude or anything, and I'd rather hear it from Mokuba personally, but…he won't talk. He's always depressed this time of year…he never says much of anything from June till August…and we're all starting to worry. It's happened ever since we've known him, it seems…nine years is enough. Do you know what's wrong?"
Veronica Delmont sighed heavily, took a sip of her tea and looked Yami Motou in the eye. "I don't know how Mokuba will feel about me saying anything…he'll probably be angry."
"I know, I know…but this is getting bad. He's gotten exponentially worse over the years…I'm wondering if he might start contemplating suicide…it's that bad."
Veronica nodded. "Well…okay. If anyone could help my boy, it would be you. I'll tell you, but you have to promise not to let it out. Talk to Mokuba about it before you let anyone else know."
Yami nodded. "Of course. So…what is it?"
Veronica sighed again, stood up and began to pace behind the couch, seeming to be trying to find the right words to begin. Then, she looked at Yami again and began to speak.
"Mokuba…isn't my biological son."
Yami's eyes widened. "R-Really? But…he looks just like Edward!"
"Coincidence…nothing more. Look…Eddie and I adopted Mokuba ten years ago, when he was seven. He was…really distraught that first year…we had to force him to make friends, it seemed like…until he met you."
"Well, I can see why he'd be out of sorts, being adopted into a new family."
"That wasn't the problem…not the main problem. You see…Mokuba had a brother."
"A brother! Really? This is the first I've heard of it…is that what's wrong?"
Veronica nodded. "Yes…Seto, that was his name…he died on June 16th the year before we adopted Mokuba…they were so close…from what I know of Seto, which isn't much…he was very protective of Mokuba."
"So…Seto was the older brother?"
Veronica nodded. "He would be…twenty-one now, if he'd lived."
"How did Seto die?"
Veronica shrugged. "I don't know. Mokuba won't say, and the story never made it to the press…I've looked, but I haven't found anything. The only person who knows is Mokuba…you might try talking to him. But I can't guarantee anything."
Yami nodded, standing up and turning toward the door. "I…I need to think about this before I try talking to him. It'll probably be a very sensitive subject…especially right now. T-Thanks, Veronica, you've been a big help."
Veronica called to him as he was about to leave. "Try your best to help him, Yami…he really needs help right now."
Yami nodded again. "I'll do my best."
SO did you find out anything?"
Yami raised an eyebrow at his twin. "I did, Yugi…but I promised to talk to Mokuba before anyone else…so I can't say anything. I promised Veronica, Yugi, so don't try that look. And besides…this is personal. I can't do that to Mokuba. I'll say this much…there is a reason for him being so down."
Yugi nodded and ran a hand through his spiked hair. "I thought so. Do you think we can do anything, though? He doesn't like to talk about it; we've tried for years. And whenever we try, he always gets worse…until he finally snaps out of it, which seems to take longer every year…"
Yami sat down beside Yugi on the couch and looked up at the ceiling. "I don't know…but I'm going to try. Poor guy doesn't deserve it…it's late right now, so I'm gonna wait till tomorrow before I try talking to him."
Yugi nodded again. "Yeah. Well, you make sure to let him know, whatever's wrong, we're all here for him. You, me, Joey, everyone."
Yami smiled slightly. "I'm sure he knows that, Yugi…"
What I'm not so sure about is whether or not that's enough…
MOKUBA Delmont was tall, lean, and athletic. He was popular, he was handsome, he was smart, he was nice. He had everything going for him. He was usually an optimist, always seeing the bright side to everything.
But every year, around June 16th…all that didn't matter.
Mokuba couldn't help it. His upbeat, happy demeanor always broke on that date…there was nothing that could cheer him up whenever he remembered the brother that wasn't here for him anymore. The brother he had loved more than anyone else in the world…the brother who had been his only source of strength after their parents had died…
Mokuba was usually a frequent if not constant presence at the city's arcade. You could almost always count on him being somewhere; it not on one of the games, then at the change machine or the small restaurant.
Not so now.
On weekends, Mokuba always went with his parents to the library to check out the books for sale. Edward and Veronica were avid readers, and the affliction had passed to their son.
Not so now.
One could always find Mokuba Delmont somewhere. If not at the library, arcade, or school, he was out. He hardly spent any time at home, because he was an active, social boy.
Not so now.
"Seto, I can't do this…" he whimpered, staring at his mirror. "I just can't…it's too much, big brother…Every year it's like this…"
"Perhaps you could take the burden more easily if you shared it with us."
Mokuba jumped almost a foot in the air, whirled around to see Yami leaning against the doorframe, his face unreadable. The teen gambler was wearing his trademark tight jeans and black tank top, the golden puzzle that was his birthright hanging around his neck. He was always a commanding presence, but today he seemed more imposing than ever. His wine-colored eyes seemed to bore into Mokuba's soul.
"Yami…w-when did you…?"
"I've been waiting to see if you'd come down into the living room for an hour or so…Veronica told me to come up here to check on you. So…how long were you planning on keeping your mystery brother to yourself? How long were you planning on letting yourself suffer like this?"
Mokuba didn't answer.
"Mokuba, I'm your friend. You know that. We've been friends for years. You can trust me. And if something's bothering you, it's bothering me."
"You don't understand, Yami. Nobody understands."
"Then make me understand. I want to help you, Mokuba. You're seventeen years old, he's been gone for…what, a decade? I'm not going to say you need to get over it, but…don't let it do this to you. You can reach out to us, Mokuba. We won't push you away."
Mokuba frowned. "Look…I'm not comfortable with it, okay?"
"Then it's about time you faced your past. This isn't healthy, Mokuba, and you know it. It's been nine years since I met you, and things have always been this way. I've let you alone for almost a decade, and things have gotten worse. So I'm putting a stop to it. You need to let go of the pain, Mokuba. Don't abandon your past, but let go of the pain."
"Then at least share it with me. I want to find a way to help you."
"Nobody can help me."
"Then what do you have to lose?"
Mokuba opened his mouth to retort, but found he had no answer to that.
He left the room, walked with Yami back downstairs into the living room, where Veronica and Edward Delmont sat on the couch waiting. They both stood when the two teens entered.
Mokuba walked past his parents and sat down on the recliner on the opposite side of the coffee table in the center of the room. Yami sat next to Edward. Mokuba's eyes met each of theirs, and he sighed.
"Look…Mom, Dad…you know I lost my brother before you adopted me…but you don't understand the circumstances of that loss…"
MY biological mother died when I was born.
That hit my father really hard. Seto used to tell me he was a good man, that he was a good father, but that our mother's death was too much for him. He drew into himself, never really paid attention to either of us.
So Seto became my mother and my father.
I was hopelessly reliant on Seto for as long as he was alive…I couldn't do a damn thing for myself. I always had to have him around, no matter what. If I didn't know where my Seto was, I'd start bawling until he showed up.
"You were a kid, Mokuba, that's understandable. Don't be so bitter about it."
Whatever…in any case, I was always a burden on him. I never left him alone. Even when he asked me to let him have some time to himself, it never lasted more than a half-hour. I'd always come barging back in, puling about something else…
But Seto never complained. He was the best brother I could have ever asked for…better. I just wish, for all the times he defended me, I could have helped him…
When our father died when I was four, we were sent to live with relatives…ones I'd never heard of. And when they drove us off because we were too much of a burden, we ended up at the Domino Children's Home…
Seto was constantly getting into fights and hence getting into trouble because nobody ever left me alone. All the older kids wanted to pick on me, because I was the youngest boy there. And Seto always protected me. He was always the one that got into trouble for it, never the other kids, but he never brought it up. He took the punishments without comment.
He was so strong…
He was a genius, too, and because of that he got a lot of people asking him to come home with them. But he'd always ask them the same question, right off. Would they take me, too? And since the answer was always no, Seto always declined. No matter what. He wouldn't negotiate, wouldn't listen to another word. If they declined taking me, they were worthless as far as Seto was concerned.
I still can't believe how good he was to me…what did I ever do to deserve such a good brother? I was a pain. I know I was. But he never said anything about it. He would always assure me that things would be fine, that I never had anything to worry about as long as he was there…
And then he showed up.
"He? He who?"
Gozaburo Kaiba, the chief executive officer of the Kaiba Corporation.
"That military corporation in Japan? The one responsible for the KC-872?"
One and the same…Gozaburo came to our orphanage once day, gave a bunch of toys to the other kids…Seto thought he'd finally found a way for us to get out. He thought this would be our meal ticket, our way into the lap of luxury.
And I, lemming that I was at the time, was right behind him.
Gozaburo was more than a businessman. He played chess. He was a god at the game, best in the world. But Seto thought he could beat him. Seto had studied Gozaburo's game for a long time.
So when Gozaburo asked to adopt Seto (and of course declined taking me), Seto challenged him to a game. He said that if Gozaburo won, only he would be adopted. But if Seto won, we both would.
Seto won, but I think he cheated. How, I don't remember. But in the end, we were both adopted. We thought it was the best day ever when we were picked up in Kaiba's limousine and ushered off to the Kaiba Estate.
God, were we wrong…
Gozaburo was a tyrant. I mean, a total bastard. Seto was pushed to his limits, studying subjects reserved for the most prestigious colleges, forced to stay awake days at a time working with computers and textbooks heavier than he was. If Seto slacked off in the least, if he fell asleep working or didn't do something correctly, Gozaburo would beat him. Not just with his fists, either, but with any weapon at hand: canes, whips, baseball bats, whatever.
Then one day…Gozaburo found out Seto had been studying how to make computer games in his spare time, sparse as that was. Gozaburo thought games to be completely useless and was incensed that his heir was wasting time on such things.
He decided to teach Seto a lesson…
…One that I never forgot.
He called me into his office one day, and I was confused because Gozaburo usually wanted nothing to do with me.
When I stepped inside, I knew what he wanted…
Seto was standing on a chair. I wasn't sure what it was that was around Seto's neck at the time, but it was a noose. Tied to the ceiling fan. Seto…wasn't all that heavy.
As soon as I was inside, Gozaburo kicked the chair out from under him.
I had to watch my brother suffocate…of course his neck couldn't just snap, like it's supposed to…no, he had to suffocate. He had to suffer…he…he…
MOKUBA broke down and started to cry.
Veronica and Edward immediately rushed to their son's side, comforting him as best they could.
Yami sat slack-jawed.
By the spirits…how could someone do such a thing…?
"Mokuba…" Yami murmured when he found his voice. "I…I…don't know…w-what to…to say…"
Mokuba's wet purple eyes rose to meet Yami's own, and the heartbreak so evident within them made the gambler heartsick himself.
He had to do something.
But what could he do?
"…Was he caught?"
"No!" Mokuba snarled, suddenly bitter. "That bastard got off without a goddamn thing! Oh, sure, he had to give me up and said he'd kill me if I ever told anyone, but what the fuck loss was that for him!"
"Mokuba…" Veronica admonished, albeit without any force behind it. "Don't curse."
"Well, what the fuck did you expect me to say! That slack-jawed, narcissistic Neanderthal hanged my brother! Don't you get it!"
Edward frowned. "Mokuba, son…come on. Calm down."
"FUCK YOU!" Mokuba exploded, throwing his parents away from him as he jumped to his feet, his face contorted with a rage that Yami had never seen before. It was frightening.
"Mokuba Delmont!" Veronica snapped, eyes narrow. "Don't speak to your father that way!"
"SETO IS MY FATHER! WERE YOU LISTENING TO ME! GODDAMN IT!"
Mokuba stormed out of the room.
Yami flinched at the sound of Mokuba's bedroom door slamming. "…This is worse than I thought…"
Edward was frowning. "I won't have that kind of language in my--"
He stared at Yami's stern, unwavering eyes. "W-What…?"
"Don't you dare punish him for this. I respect your parenting, Edward, I honestly do, but if you punish him for this…I swear by any and every god to ever exist, you'll regret it."
"…Are you threatening me, Yami?"
Yami stood, walked slowly past Edward to the front door. Turning, he caught the man's eyes, transfixing him with their cold, cutting depths. "I don't threaten, Edward Delmont…I'm stating a fact. Try telling me you won't regret punishing Mokuba because you were insensitive to his loss…"
That's what he said.
But the truth beyond those words was all too clear.
For the first time, Edward Delmont understood why absolutely no one at Yami's school ever dared to cross him.
YAMI was in a foul mood when he sat down beside his twin brother. He threw his head back, staring up at the ceiling as he ran a hand through his hair. "Damn it…this is bad…"
"What's bad?" Yugi asked.
"Mokuba…I don't think I've ever seen him so angry…can you remember a single time Mokuba has cursed?"
Yugi raised an eyebrow. "I think I heard him say 'damn' once because Joey beat him at Hero's Ambition, but other than that…no."
"Well…I think screaming 'fuck you' at his father is a bit worse…"
Yugi gaped at his brother. "What? Mokuba? You have to be kidding…"
"No. This whole thing is worse than I thought…a lot worse."
"W-What is it? What's wrong with him?"
So Yami told his twin the story as best he could remember. Yugi was thunderstruck, didn't speak for almost a full minute after Yami was done. When he did, his voice was so low it was hardly a voice at all.
"…Oh, my God…Poor Mokuba…"
Yami closed his eyes, jaw flexing as he strained not to cry. He could still see Mokuba's tear-streaked face, could see it much too clearly. The total devastation in his normally sparkling, happy eyes…
"…I don't know what I can do for him…I can't relate to it…I could see how much Mokuba still loves him…how can I possibly understand the pain he's going through…? His biological parents died, his relatives threw him out…and his stepfather murdered his brother…what just and loving god could be so cruel…? What did Mokuba ever do to deserve this…?"
Yugi seemed uncomfortable, as he always did when Yami showed his alleged atheism.
But of course, Yami thought, Yugi hadn't seen what the afterlife really was…he didn't understand that his God was not a sentient being at all, but rather a nexus of natural energy that bypassed the laws of this earth…
Yami's eyes snapped open suddenly. "That's it…that's it!"
Yugi stared in surprise at his brother. "What? What's it?"
"Come on! I need your help!"
"What? What can I do?"
"I need you to anchor me to this world! I know what to do! Come on!"
He grabbed Yugi's arm and shot off toward the stairs.
SOME people called this place the Shadow Realm. Others, upon seeing it, might have called it Hell. Still others might call it a hallucination.
But Yami knew the truth.
This place was called Ven'lini'thai'ir'yulan.
The Dwelling Place of Morality, when translated literally.
Yami liked to call it the Nexus.
At first glance it seemed the antithesis to order. The first time Yami had been here, on the night he had completed the Millennium Puzzle that now glowed fiercely around his neck, he had been confused and disoriented.
Then they had found him.
Tamius and Atem, his Atlantian and Egyptian ancestors.
They had shown him the truth of the Nexus, the underlying patterns, the totality of order, the essence…the epitome of structure.
The spirits shifted and swirled, dipped and dived all about him. He drifted, out of place, as his mind, guided by the Eye of Horus on his puzzle, gave him the image of a peaceful village, the only equivalent his mortal mind could conceive.
He closed his eyes to block out the true form of the Nexus, and let his mind's eye guide him. He walked slowly, nodding to those spirits he recognized from his first visit here. This place, this particular portion of Ven'lini'thai'ir'yulan was reserved for those who had died young. The peacefulness of this particular place was to calm those spirits, to show them that they were now safe from whatever had taken them from the mortal plane so quickly.
Tamius and Atem both dwelled here.
They both approached him, apparently called by his thoughts of them.
Successor, came Atem's voice in his mind. You come to us again.
"I do," Yami said. "I search for someone."
This spirit lies here, in Ulen'hain? asked Tamius.
"Aye," Yami confirmed. "He died while still in the midst of childhood. Killed."
Know you his name in the mortal plane, Successor? Atem asked.
"Seto. I know only that."
Seto…be he still connected to the mortal plane by the ties of blood?
"Aye. His brother lives, as Mokuba Delmont."
The two spirits regarded each other.
There can only be one… Atem said.
Aye, confirmed Tamius.
We shall inform the I'nol'themh of your wish to speak with him.
Yami let the foreign word sink into his mind…
Dragon child, he thought. The dragon child…
HE was suddenly thrown back into consciousness, sitting opposite his twin brother, holding his hands tightly. The abruptness of perception always disoriented him, and he had to spend several seconds with his eyes tightly shut before his head stopped spinning. He blinked and looked at Yugi, whose eyes were caught by something.
Yami looked to his right, following his brother's gaze, saw the computer on the single desk. Three words appeared on the screen.
WHO ARE YOU?
Letting go of Yugi's hands, Yami reached out for the keyboard.
I CAN HEAR SPOKEN LANGUAGE WELL ENOUGH.
The words were instantaneous and much brighter than they should have been.
"I, uh…I'm Yami Motou…are you…Seto…?"
SETO YAGAMI, YES.
"Yagami…you are Mokuba's brother?
"What is this? What did you do, Yami? Is this some kind of joke?" Yugi looked frantic, close to hyperventilating.
CALM DOWN. I'M NOT GOING TO HURT YOU. YOU WISHED TO SPEAK TO ME, YAMI MOTOU. WHAT IS IT YOU WANT?
"It…it's Mokuba…he…he's really depressed."
"Because of you…"
ME? HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN SINCE I WAS AMONG THE LIVING?
"A decade, at least."
"I thought…I thought that…maybe talking to you would…help him. It was the first idea that popped into my head. My puzzle let me enter your realm…"
WHY DO YOU THINK SPEAKING TO ME WILL HELP MOKUBA? HE'LL PROBABLY THINK THIS IS SOME SORT OF PRANK. YOUR FRIEND, THERE, DID.
"M-My brother. Yugi. But…surely you could convince him of the truth?"
PERHAPS…BUT WHAT IS IT YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH?
"I want him to come to grips with his past…find closure. Surely speaking to you would help him."
I SUPPOSE SO…GO TO HIM. CALL OUT TO ME. I WILL WAIT FOR YOU.
Yami nodded, turned and left the room as quickly as he had entered, leaving a bewildered Yugi to watch as the computer, which wasn't even on, go blank.
YAMIwalked into the Delmont house with a fast, determined stride. He stopped when he saw Edward looking at him. "What?" Yami asked, crossing his arms.
"I…I realize now that I handled the situation badly…I should have been more understanding…You were right, Yami…thank you."
Yami, pleasantly surprised, smiled and nodded. "You're welcome, Edward. I'm pleased to see you understand now. I know now what I can do. Where is Mokuba?"
"Still in his room."
Nodding, Yami left for the stairs.
MOKUBA was lying on his bed, facedown in his folded arms, body shaking slightly as he cried. Yami sighed heavily. "Mokuba…can you get up? I have something I want to show you."
Mokuba didn't move. "What?" he asked sharply, voice muffled and broken.
"Please, Mokuba…get up. Trust me, you'll want to see this."
Mokuba didn't move for about half a minute, but finally pushed himself up to a sitting position. He wiped his eyes, smoothed his disheveled hair. He looked at Yami questioningly. "What is it, Yami?"
Yami sat down at the computer in the corner of the room and closed his eyes, hands holding the puzzle. He called out to Seto again, and since the spirit of Mokuba's brother was anticipating it, the answer was almost instant.
THAT WAS QUICK.
Mokuba stared at the screen in openmouthed shock. "What in the…?"
WELL, WELL…LOOK AT YOU, KIDDO. BEEN QUITE A WHILE SINCE I'VE SEEN YOU…
"What the…Yami! What the fuck is going on here!"
NO NEED TO BE VULGAR, MOKUBA. IT'S JUST ME…
"Who! What's going on here!"
"Mokuba…It's Seto. Your brother."
"No! No, my brother's dead! This…this is some kind of sick joke! I thought you were trying to help me, Yami!"
HE IS, MOKUBA…NOW CALM DOWN BEFORE YOU GIVE YOURSELF A HEART ATTACK.
"Don't tell me to calm down! STOP THIS!"
MOKIE…STOP. PLEASE. I CAN HEAR YOU.
Mokuba's eyes widened to saucers at the sight of that name. No one knew about that. No one. It had been a secret, just between them!
"S-S-Seto…? That…that's really…y-you?"
OF COURSE, LITTLE GUY. WHO ELSE WOULD IT BE?
"I…I can't…b-believe this…"
YOUR FRIEND HAS A TALENT. I NEVER REALIZED YOU WERE IN SUCH A STATE, MOKUBA, OR I'D HAVE CONTACTED YOU MYSELF. WHY ARE YOU SO DEPRESSED, LITTLE BROTHER?
"You…you…I…I miss you…"
I MISS YOU, TOO…BUT YOU HAVE A LIFE, NOW. A LIFE AWAY FROM…HIM.
"But he took you from me! It's not fair!"
I BROUGHT THAT ON MYSELF, MOKUBA…IT WAS MY CHOICE.
"What…what do you…?"
GOZABURO FOUND OUT THAT I CHEATED TO WIN THAT GAME AGAINST HIM. I DON'T KNOW HOW, BUT HE DID. HE TOLD ME THAT I'D VIOLATED THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE IN ANY COMPETITION. HE SAID OUR WAGER WAS NULLIFIED.
"But…what…? I thought…"
HE SAID I HAD TWO CHOICES. I COULD EITHER HAVE HIM RECTIFY THE SITUATION BY KILLING YOU, THUS STICKING TO THE WAGER, OR I COULD TAKE THE CONSEQUENCES OF MY DISHONESTY AND DIE MYSELF.
"You…sacrificed yourself for me…?"
MOKIE…I COULDN'T LET YOU DIE. YOU HADN'T DONE ANYTHING WRONG. IT WAS MY FAULT FOR CHEATING IN THE FIRST PLACE. I SHOULD HAVE NEVER CHALLENGED HIM…YOU KNOW I NEVER LET ANYONE ELSE TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR MY ACTIONS…THAT'S MY JOB. I COULDN'T LET YOU BE PUNISHED FOR WHAT I DID.
NO BUTS, LITTLE BROTHER. YOU COULDN'T HAVE TALKED ME OUT OF IT THEN, AND YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO CONVINCE ME I WAS WRONG NOW.
"But cheating in a game doesn't warrant a death sentence! You didn't deserve that!"
I NEVER SAID GOZABURO WAS RIGHT IN KILLING ME…BUT HE DID.
"B-Brother…I…I don't know…w-what to say…"
DON'T WORRY, KIDDO. YOU DON'T HAVE TO WORRY. YOU JUST LIVE YOUR OWN LIFE…AND KNOW THAT I'M OKAY. THE AFTERLIFE IS NOTHING LIKE WHAT MOST PEOPLE THINK. NO RELIGION I KNOW OF IS CORRECT IN ITS ASSUMPTIONS.
YOU'LL HAVE TO SEE FOR YOURSELF WHEN THE TIME COMES, KID. I'M NOT GOING TO SPOIL ANY SURPRISES FOR YOU.
SEEMS YOU'RE STILL THE SAME LITTLE BROTHER I REMEMBER…BUT NOPE. YOU WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO PICTURE IT, ANYWAY.
"…Will I be able to talk to you again?"
PROBABLY NOT DAILY OR ANYTHING…IT TAKES A BIT OF ENERGY TO CONTACT YOUR SIDE, MORE TO MAINTAIN IT. BUT SURE. I'LL BE SURE TO KEEP AN EAR OUT FOR THAT FRIEND OF YOURS…YAMI, YOU SAID YOUR NAME WAS?
"Yes," Yami said.
ALL RIGHT…WELL, I HOPE YOU FEEL BETTER, MOKIE. I'M GOING TO HEAD "HOME" NOW. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.
"…O-Okay, Seto. Bye. I…I love you."
Seto's answer was a long time in coming, but it came.
I LOVE YOU, TOO, LITTLE BROTHER…MORE THAN YOU COULD EVER KNOW.
And then he was gone.
…DO you ever regret your decision?"
NO. NOT IN THE LEAST.
"It must have been hard, though, deciding to sacrifice yourself."
THE ONLY THING HARD ABOUT IT WAS HAVING TO WATCH MOKUBA AS I DIED…HE LOOKED SO HEARTBROKEN…IT MUST HAVE BEEN HELL FOR HIM TO HAVE TO GO THROUGH THAT.
"…Listen to you. You were suffocating…and the hard part was watching Mokuba."
MOKUBA WAS EVERYTHING TO ME…HE STILL IS. HE WAS THE ONLY PERSON TO STICK BY ME AFTER OUR PARENTS DIED. MOKUBA THNKS HE WAS A BURDEN ON ME, YOU SAY, BUT THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS…HE WAS ALL THAT KEPT ME GOING. I MADE THE DECISION THAT I WOULD DO ANYTHING TO KEEP MOKUBA SAFE LONG BEFORE I WAS FORCED TO MAKE THAT CHOICE. IT WAS MADE BEFORE HE TOLD ME I HAD TO MAKE IT.
"You really love him, don't you?"
OF COURSE I DO. YOU HAVE A BROTHER, DON'T YOU?
"Sure, but still…"
WELL, IN ANY CASE…I DID WHAT I SET OUT TO DO. GOZABURO MAY THINK HE'S WON, BUT I GOT WHAT I WANTED IN THE END. BECAUSE OF MY MURDER, MOKUBA WAS TAKEN AWAY FROM HIM…HE'S SAFE NOW.
"…And I thought Mokuba was an optimist…that's a silver lining and a half…"
IT'S WHAT I WANTED FROM THE START. PERHAPS THE METHOD WAS LESS THAN I HAD HOPED FOR, BUT THE RESULTS WERE THE SAME. AND I KNOW AT LEAST THAT I DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT MOKUBA'S SAFETY. YOU'LL WATCH OUT FOR HIM, WON'T YOU?
…YOU'RE A GOOD MAN, YAMI. THANK YOU.
"Don't mention it."
THE spirit of Seto Yagami broke the link to the mortal plane and settled back into his "home."
Ulen'hain, or "Return of Innocence," had looked to Yami's mortal mind to be a peaceful, remote country village. And that is precisely what it was. It was just that to a still-living being's eyes, it didn't look like one.
A spirit's eyes saw things differently.
Seto was certainly pleased that his little brother had found friends. He'd never had them when Seto himself had been alive…in fact, it was probably Seto's presence that had not allowed that to happen. People had hated Seto for his intelligence, and so in association had hated Mokuba.
Not so now.
Seto smiled…but it was a sad smile.
Seto knew that the Nexus, as Yami liked to call it (Seto found he liked the name as well), was the epitome of structure. Mokuba would live much longer than Seto had…or at least Seto could only hope for that.
And that would mean that when he died, Mokuba's spirit would be sent to Yan'kualan, "The Resting Place." That was where those good people who died from old age dwelled for the rest of eternity…and that was all there was to it.
Seto would never truly be reunited with his precious baby brother again…not if things went the way he hoped.
A low chuckle caught the boy's ear, and he turned around to see Tamius standing there, his comrade Krydius at his side. Tamius was, in mortal equivalency, a guard of Ulen'hain.
Krydius, along with his descendent Sephiroth, was a guard of Yan'kualan.
"What is so funny, Tamius?" Seto wondered.
Krydius smiled. "Menkaura stands at my side…Michael at Sephiroth's…you and your brother, as you know, are our next reincarnations."
Seto nodded. "Of course."
Tamius's face broke into a grin. "I do believe we can…bend the rules for the sake of tradition…if you'd like."
Seto's eyes widened, and he couldn't move for what seemed like an eternity. Such a transgression had never occurred before! All were to abide by the laws set forth by the nature of Ven'lini'thai'ir'yulan, no exceptions! Order was to be upheld at all costs!
"Oh, aye…such is true," Krydius murmured, reading Seto's thoughts as easily as if he had spoken them. "But the laws here are not so rigid as those so many religious mortals have been led to believe…certainly order must be upheld…but the prime law of this realm is that of consequence. Those who dwell here are rewarded.
"You lived well, Seto Yagami…and I've no doubt the same will hold true for your brother…you deserve this. Those who deserve shall receive. And so you shall."
Tamius glanced at one wall of Seto's dwelling, held up a hand and spoke suddenly in the language of the spirits. The wall shifted, twisted, until it was a sheet of clear material that looked to Seto like glass. Looking through that glass, he could see his brother, speaking to Yami as they both played a game of cards.
"Watch your brother's life unfold, Seto Yagami, and know that when it ends, a new chapter will begin here…and you will be with him again."
Seto's smile trembled, but it was the most joyous expression ever seen on his face. His eyes shimmered with unshed tears. He couldn't find a single word to say in response to this gift.
"'Tis not a gift, child," Krydius said, smiling himself. "'Tis the law. And order must always be upheld here…such is the balancebetweenthis realm and Dai'kahn'do'nolaq, the plane of sin."
Balance…balance, indeed. For all that he had sacrificed in his short life…for all that he had struggled through…
Happiness such as Seto Yagami had never felt flooded through him.
He had thought he would yet again be left alone for the sake of Mokuba's happiness. He had been prepared to face that. It would have had to happen, if things went well.
...Not so now.
This was a quick little story I wrote after watching the Sci-Fi channel for eight hours...I think it turned out rather well. Also, I do not claim to know the truth of the afterlife. No living person does. This is simply speculation. If it turns out that I'm right...well, that would be quite a big coincidence, wouldn't it?