Der Engel des Todes
Notes: The YGO characters are not mine, the others (most notably, Alexander) and the story are, and sibling and friendship cuteness abound! This is the sequel to Life After the Tears, so not much will be understood unless you have read that. And for those who are wondering, the German title translates to "The Angel of Death." That will make sense soon.
Floating, falling. . . . Over and over he tumbled through space, his dark hair flying out around him. He gazed off into the distance, vaguely curious, and wondered how long this would continue before he would reach his destination. He felt as if he had been traveling through this area for an eternity. Or perhaps he had been.
It's like a dream, he decided. Or maybe what happened over the last three months was the dream. Maybe none of it was real. But he knew that it was. He could pretend it had not happened, but that would not change the truth.
"Why are you here?"
He frowned, looking around for the source of the voice. It sounded familiar to him, somehow, but for some reason he could not place it. It was as if some sort of veil had been laid over the part of his mind that would recall that. "Huh? What do you mean? It's not like I'm here by my choice." He frowned into space, unable to see where the speaker was.
"No," the voice conceded, "you're not. And you're not supposed to be here, either. What about all the chaos you caused and have left behind you?"
He clenched a fist. Then it truly had not been a dream. Everything he remembered, even though it was shadowy and vague in his mind, had truly taken place. He had stolen souls for Doom Reborn, he had betrayed his friends, and he had died while trying to hurt them. The Orichalcos had obliterated his sanity, but for him that was not an excuse. He knew he needed to fix what had happened—he wanted to fix it—but he did not know how. "Well, what am I supposed to do about it?" he demanded. "I mean, I'm kinda dead here."
"Go back. Go back and fix the wrongs you have made." The voice left no room for argument. And without warning, he was being rushed through time and space once again, this time in the opposite direction.
Yugi looked out at the sunset from the living room window, watching the last pink and orange glows fading from the city. His violet eyes, usually bright and innocent, were now flashing and serious. Sunsets would always make him think of what had happened at the Orichalcos temple. It had been yesterday when they had returned, late at night, and the emotional wounds were still fresh. Yugi could not stop thinking of how they had not been able to save Duke. The raven-haired boy had perished in the demolished temple, but before that he had been claimed by the ancient evil force itself. And no one had been able to help him.
The vertically-challenged boy clenched a fist tightly. He could not stand to remember what had taken place, and yet the memories refused to stay at bay. He knew that a change was coming over him, a strange change that he both loathed and welcomed. Failures like that one could not be options for the future. This could simply not happen again! He would make certain that it did not. There and then he vowed that he would become stronger, somehow. If Atemu had been there, then Yugi was certain that Duke would not have died. Atemu could have saved him even if all others had failed.
"I'm sorry, Duke," he said quietly. "I'm sorry you had to die because of this. I promise, we'll take down Doom Reborn . . . for you. At least I can do that much!"
He knew he was not talking exactly like himself. And for some odd reason he remembered when Joey had told him yesterday that he had sounded like Atemu when he had told Joey that they should not pass judgement on Duke without knowing the full story behind his odd behavior. I'm not like you, Atemu, he thought sadly, but I can try. I have to do something so that no one else will have to suffer like Duke did. I have to find a way to bring Doom Reborn down!
A couple of tears of frustration slipped from his eyes as he continued to stand there, deep in thought. Taking down Doom Reborn would be hard. But he had to find a way to accomplish it. And he had to do it alone. He did not want to put any of his friends at risk again. Several people had gotten hurt at the island, in addition to those who had died. Yugi knew that the wounded easily could have been numbered among the dead.
Dartz shook his head slowly, watching as the strange creature curled up on the couch in Dartz's bedroom to sleep. Alexander spread his wings out for a brief moment, then relaxed as he carefully laid them over himself. He was especially cautious with his angel wing, due to its serious injuries. Not only had the appendage been mysteriously torn, but the bone had been shattered in that spot as well. Dartz had managed to mend things as best as he could, clipping away the nearby feathers and then sewing the wing together. When he had wrapped it, he had placed a splint in as well, in order to help the bone as it healed. He had to admit that he did not know if the creature would be able to fly again. The bone might grow together in a disfigured way, twisting the wing and preventing it from helping Alexander to become airborne.
When Dartz had asked Alexander how he had gotten such injuries, the strange young man had responded that he had been fighting the Leviathan in its realm. "I was rejected by it, because I'm only part of a soul," he had proclaimed. "Then it tried to destroy me out of disgust, so I began fighting for my life . . . and his." Dartz had tried to demand what Alexander meant by that, and who the "he" was that Alexander continually referred to, but the creature had only given him the cryptic answer of, "I love him. I can't let myself be destroyed while he lives . . . or he won't be complete. He'll always be suffering, even though he won't understand why." Dartz had finally given up on trying to make sense out of everything, at least for the time being. After both Alexander and he himself had rested, then he would question the being again.
"He's such an odd bit of matter," he mused to himself, watching as Alexander slept on his stomach. "Who is he really? What is he? And why does he look so familiar to me?" He studied the fiery red hair as it fell limply around his face. "He almost looks like one of my former warriors . . . as a child. . . ." He paused, musing on this before shifting to a different question.
Why did I help him? He's such a pathetic, pitiful creature, hardly worth my time. And yet I bothered to fix his wing. Now it looks as though he's taking up residence here. The man frowned, sidestepping the bloodstains on the carpet. He certainly doesn't seem to be working with Doom Reborn in any way. I thought he might be their pet, but it appears that I was wrong.
A soft knock came at the door. "Father? Can I come in?" came Chris's soft voice.
Dartz looked up, smiling a bit. "Yes. Go ahead," he replied.
Idly he brushed several tangled locks of turquoise hair away from his face. He had not had a chance to rest at all since surviving the temple's collapse and retrieving Alexander. He was exhausted, and wanted to have a relaxing shower before drifting into a deep sleep, but he would be happy to see his daughter first. It still seemed almost like a dream, that he had her and Ironheart back with him. But still, he did wish for Phiona as well and always wondered if she was alright.
She could be almost anywhere, though the modern world would not seem strange to her. She had witnessed Atlantis's modern age, which had been even more advanced. Dartz was not worried about how she would react to the technology, but he did wonder if she had gotten into trouble. Perhaps she had ended up in a part of the world that was not relatively peaceful. He frowned, not liking that thought.
The door opened slowly and Chris wandered in. She was about to speak when she spotted the blood on the carpet. In alarm she looked up at Dartz and then her eyes widened upon seeing the unusual creature slumbering on the couch. "Father, what is this?" she asked in confusion. "What have you brought with you? And what happened to you?" She bit her lip, admittedly concerned. She was not certain how stable Dartz's mind was, since he had been troubled by angry lost souls for some time. But he seemed at peace now, so she supposed she had to hope that his mission had been a success. She had been asleep when he had finally returned home, but Ironheart had been awake, and he had informed Chris of Dartz's return as soon as she had woken up. Ironheart, however, had mentioned nothing of Dartz bringing back some sort of mutant creature.
"It's a wounded sparrow that has fallen from its roost," Dartz answered cryptically, crossing his arms. "I found him at the ruins of the Orichalcos temple. And I am fine." He smiled slightly at her concern. "Though I did have several harrowing experiences along the way. . . ."
Chris sighed and then looked at Alexander, taking note of the bandages around part of the strange being's angel wing. Blinking in surprise, she moved forward and reached out, touching the feathers that were not covered by the gauze. "Where did he come from?" she exclaimed, petting the wing gently. It felt so soft to the touch, as a bird's wing would, and she was intrigued—though the sight of the demon wing made her uneasy.
"He fell from above," Dartz told her. "He's been saying perplexing things ever since. Perhaps if we allow him a good night's sleep, he will make more sense in the morning."
Chris swallowed. "Is he going to stay here?" she asked apprehensively. If he was friendly, she would not mind—but was he? She supposed she would have to wait to find out.
"I sincerely hope not," Dartz muttered.
Now Chris came over to him, hugging him firmly. "I'm glad you're back, Father," she said softly with a smile. "I've been worried . . . and I've missed you."
He smiled back, returning the hug. Alexander mumbled in the background.
"Alister . . . let me help you. Let me kill you!"
Alister's eyes flew open and he sat right up in bed, breathing heavily. He struggled to calm down, gripping the quilt as his eyes adjusted to the dim light. He had taken to sleeping with a nightlight on some years back. During the war, he had spent too many nights in complete darkness. He did not care for the dark now because of that. It brought back too many painful memories.
Now he ran his hands through his crimson bangs. "Who is that?" he muttered to himself. "I know I never heard him before, but now he's started coming into my dreams." And then Alister realized that it was the same voice he had heard in that dream from the other night, where a strange, winged creature had been trapped in a bubble and had been panicked.
Slowly he got up and quietly opened the door of his room, looking out into the hallway. Everything was quiet. Raphael and Valon both seemed to still be asleep, which was good. They needed their rest. Their experiences over the past couple of days had been so strange and exhausting. And Valon still did not have his memories back. He had been involved in a motorcycle accident two months before and had sustained amnesia from that. Alister had found him two nights ago and had finally convinced him to return with him to see if anything seemed familiar to him. And though Valon had ended up remembering some very unpleasant things—such as Alister's possession by the Orichalcos—he had finally come to trust Alister and Raphael and was going to stay with them again. Alister supposed that was the most important thing. Valon could recall everything else later.
Suddenly realizing that something was rubbing repeatedly against him, Alister looked down to see Liu winding between his legs and purring blissfully. Amused, he finally reached down and picked up the loving cat. She snuggled in approval, nuzzling him. It certainly made sense that Raphael doted on the furry Ragdoll. Even Valon, who was not much of an animal lover, was fond of the feline.
"Miruko would have loved you," Alister said quietly, walking downstairs and to the kitchen with Liu in his arms. She continued to purr.
He had avoided her at first, because of how she reminded him of the kitten that Miruko had loved and lost. But Liu had been insistent on giving love to Alister as well as the other two, and he had finally consented. She was the kind of cat that managed to worm her way into almost any heart, no matter how closed-off and closed.
Just like Raphael and Valon did, Alister supposed, sitting down at the table to think. My heart was dead, but they managed to revive it. And . . . having people to care about again feels good. I didn't realize how lonely I really was before until I realized how much those two mean to me.
Liu nuzzled Alister again and he was startled back to the present. He shook his head and grunted, petting her again as he wondered about the voice once more.
Helmos sighed, picking through the rubble of the Orichalcos temple. Timaeus had insisted that they needed to keep looking for the bodies of those who had been buried in the collapse, but Helmos was getting frustrated. They had found nothing, and they had been looking for hours—having started immediately after the plane had left the previous night. They had searched until it had gotten too dark to continue and then they had waited until morning. The entire day had been spent digging through the rubble and moving it out of the way. Now this day had come to a close as well. Helmos did not think they would ever find anything.
"I think we should call it quits," he declared, stabbing the ground with his sword. "We've been all over the place by now, and there's nothing!"
Critias grunted as he approached. "You stand corrected—I just found something," he announced.
Helmos stared at him and then leaped up. "What!"
The brunette warrior led his comrade over to a spot where they had been digging. It was where the stairs had been, and it seemed that they had caved in. Critias went over to the hole and looked in at Timaeus, who had climbed in after it had been revealed. "Have you found anything yet?" he asked.
Timaeus nodded and straightened up. In his arms he held a limp, battered body. "It's the boy who was consumed by the Orichalcos," he said soberly, frowning in confusion. "There must have been a pocket of air reaching him. He's breathing very faintly." What he did not know was that Duke truly had died and then had been sent back, though Timaeus's conclusion about the air pocket was correct. Without it, Duke could not have survived at all, even after being sent back.
Helmos was astounded. "We should get help for him right now!" he exclaimed.
Timaeus nodded. "I will take him to a hospital. The two of you should stay here and keep looking for Vivalene's and Dartz's bodies."
Helmos looked frustrated. "They probably both died," he retorted.
"Not if the Orichalcos protected them," Critias mused. Timaeus concurred.
All of these events took place in the late summer, in September. The next several months, until just after Thanksgiving in November, passed by in relative peace—though the Duel Monsters remained. People were uneasy, not knowing when the beasts would attack again. Yugi and his friends tried to heal from the catastrophe they had witnessed, but Yugi remained angry at himself and was coming off as forcefully over-protective toward his friends. Téa was worried about him. She knew that he was behaving that way because he wanted to make certain that what had happened to Duke would not happen to anyone else. But she also knew that he could not prevent it.
Timaeus, Critias, and Helmos were taking care of Duke, who was suffering the after-effects of being poisoned by the Orichalcos for three months. In addition, the Legendary Knights felt that the boy should lay low for a while, until he completely recovered and until they knew what Doom Reborn was planning next.
Alexander was still healing—and still living with Dartz. He got along well with Chris, though Ironheart found him quite odd and Dartz was annoyed and uncomfortable with the almost constant cuddling he received. The strange creature seemed to be a child in a man's body, and considered Dartz to be a father figure.
The redhead was very unusual and had a perplexing view of the world. He considered death a beautiful thing and felt that it was his highest purpose in life to fulfill what he believed was a deathwish from someone he loved. He also insisted that he loved what Alister Mackenzie hated and hated what he loved. But Dartz found that this made little sense. Alister certainly would not hate Chris, and yet Alexander adored her.
"Why don't you ever speak sensibly?" Dartz frowned one evening as he looked over the latest report from the bank accounts that he had held since the time of the original Doom organization. He had been secretly buying shares of the new Paradius company, determined to get it back in his control. Alexander was curled up at his feet, hugging the man's legs.
"Speak sensibly?" the boy repeated, blinking up at him. "But I do. . . ."
Dartz sighed. "Only you can understand yourself," he retorted. "No one else can." He clicked out of the bank's website and was greeted by several popup windows. He muttered in annoyance. Modern technology could be such an irritation sometimes. It had helped to be the downfall of Atlantis. Dartz was certain that sooner or later, the present-day civilizations would be destroyed as well. He saw in so many of the people the behavior of his own subjects from that ancient kingdom.
Alexander perked up, looking at one of the popup windows that had a German phrase on it. "What does that mean?" he asked curiously.
The Atlantean gave it a cursory glance before closing it out. "Oh, I don't know," he said with another sigh. "The Death Angel . . . or the Angel of Death . . . something such as that. It's advertising some famous author's new book."
Alexander thought about this. "Angel . . . of death?" he repeated, and smiled blissfully. That was what he would be. He would make Alister happy by granting him death. After all, that was why he had been created—to make Alister happy.