Warnings: SPOILERS with deviations. This fanfiction transpires during Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters last season (i.e. Ancient Egyptian arc), and continues long after the end of the last episode. If you have already seen the anime up to the end, or if you don't mind seeing spoilers, then please do proceed in reading this story. If not, then I suggest you see the anime first before satisfying your curiosity. :) Oh, and another warning: Yaoi (male-male romantic relationship).

Pairing: Seto Kaiba x Yami Yugi (Prideshipping)

Disclaimer: I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh!

Contemplations in the Afterlife

by: scarlet wax petal


Looking back, I had every reason not to move on to the afterlife, for finally, after three thousand years, I was given a second chance to live. As a mere spirit, true -- and in another person's body at that -- but it was life nonetheless. And, it was a life well-spent, happily in the company of truest friends. What more could I ask for?

But I was nagged with a feeling of inadequacy, knowing that my past was erased from my mind. And so I chased my elusive memories, from three thousand years ago: years forever gone, years forever lost. Years that should have been buried in the sand, never to be uncovered. For what would knowing the past bring, if it could never be changed? Why bother with the past, when there is a future of possibilities that lies ahead?

Such were the beliefs of Seto Kaiba. Such were the beliefs of the man who -- when everyone thought it was I who would teach him a lesson -- opened my eyes to the most important thing. Ironically, it was love... hardly something to be expected from the conceited young duelist. Yet, somehow, just by being who he is, he caught my heart. Even when I had far better options: so many others who would have regarded me in a more friendly manner. But, instead, I fell for the man who scorned me, despised me, obsessed about plunging me into the depths of defeat... And yet, I love him. Not once, not even in three millennia past, did I ever love anyone as much as I love Seto Kaiba. It was destiny that brought us together. And so I accepted what my heart has chosen for me.

But it was a realization that came too late. By the rules of fate, I had to move on. Kaiba called it stupidity. Perhaps, for many reasons, he was right. Yet in the end, I would realize that, sometimes, the stupidest choices can actually turn out to be the best...

Chapter 1: Development

From the start, I have already known that I would have to say goodbye if I do regain my memories. I came to that conclusion quite simply; all I did was put together the clues I had then. An engraving of me on an ancient Egyptian stone tablet. The Millennium Puzzle. My existence in another person's body. The inexistence of my own physical form. From ancient literature, I have come to know that a soul without its own body is not supposed to be bound to the Earth, unless it has an unfulfilled mission. My mission was, obviously, to find what was lost: my memories. Once I fulfilled this mission, I would have to move on.

Despite knowing this, and despite my growing attachment to my friends, I was firm in my resolve to uncover my past... never realizing that I would fall in love. Until it was too late.

Who would have expected that my heart would fall for a man once consumed by gall and evil? I wouldn't have. When we first met, Kaiba had kidnapped Sugoroku. My friends and I arrived just in time to save the old man from dying. Just in time, as well, to witness Kaiba's most ruthless act: tearing Sugoroku's precious Blue Eyes White Dragon card. At that, I made up my mind to teach this young man a lesson.

I challenged him to a duel, and won. And then I punished him with a mind crush, entered the depths of his soul and destroyed the evil that held it prisoner. However, when I came upon a darkness in his heart that could never be removed, I considered killing him at that instant, for his sake. For it is only through death that Kaiba could truly be saved from this deep-seated darkness.

But then, I saw that hidden, strangely protected by his stone-heartedness, was a man of warmth, compassion and sacrifice. It was something rare, something incomprehensible at that moment, but I was sure that it made Kaiba more than just a skilled duelist obsessed with power and strength. Intrigued, I let him live.

I had thought he would change. But in our next encounter, I felt I was wrong. Kaiba had challenged me to a duel, and I had no choice but to take it, in order to save my hikari's grandfather. Near the end of the duel, I was at an advantage, and then Kaiba did the unthinkable: he positioned himself upon the ledge of the tower and threatened to jump to the rocks below if he loses all of his life points. Of course, I had other things in mind then; I had the duel to win, and Sugoroku to save... and if it was death Kaiba was asking for, I would give it wholeheartedly.

But then, my hikari came in the way. Kaiba took the opportunity to grab the victory. And I hated him for that. I hated him for stealing the victory, for causing the chance to save Sugoroku to slip from my grasp. And I hated myself for almost killing him. Knowing Kaiba, I was sure he wasn't bluffing; he has far too much pride for that, and would really have killed himself if he had lost. But then, if he had pride... why would he cheat? It didn't make any sense at first.

Looking at it from a different light, I saw that Kaiba was so determined to win the duel for some reason. A reason that certainly outweighs everything else in importance -- even his own honor, even his own life. But what was important to Kaiba? Was it power, as he so often portrayed? Then it still wouldn't make any sense... A man with Kaiba's pride would seek power in more honorable ways.

I compared him to me. I, too, was willing to take drastic measures for reasons more important than the duel. I was willing to kill Kaiba to save Sugoroku. And Kaiba cheated to save Mokuba, I later learned. His younger brother. The reason that outweighs everything else in importance, for whom Kaiba would taint his own honor and take his own life. And I finally understood everything that I had seen before, in his heart. Everything that Kaiba is. The loving older brother.

I met Kaiba in various occasions afterwards. In Battle City, he pushed me to continue fighting, when I thought I was lost in my battle with the God of Osiris. He bolstered my faith, made me believe in myself when I badly needed reassurance. Destroy the Gods if they come in your way, he proudly declared, not once shuddering at the blasphemous words. Or did he even believe in the existence of the Gods, outside the duel of cards? Did he believe that he, a mere human, was strong enough to challenge the Divine? But at that moment, he did make me share in his sentiment. And so I won, and came to possess the God of Osiris.

After that, we worked together -- reluctantly, of course, due to our history with (or rather, against) each other. At that time, I simply had no choice. My friends were in danger; Kaiba offered to help because he wanted to duel with me as soon as possible. As for me, all I wanted was to save my friends. It irked me that Kaiba was so calm while I was deep in anxiety.

Then came the bait. Dangling from a helicopter and crying out for help was someone whom Kaiba could not resist. The ghouls knew how to snare the proud Seto Kaiba. Through his brother.

It was the first time I've ever since the young man cry out in panic, seeing the most special person in his life hanging helplessly many feet in the air. As a result, Kaiba and I soon found ourselves fighting for our lives upon a glass rooftop. We were supposed to be a team; our opponents were, while Kaiba insisted on playing a one-man battle. Initially, he was too stubborn to cooperate. Thankfully, he was smart and quick enough to learn that some things just cannot be done alone.

He risked his monsters, his pride, his own life for my sake -- ironically, at a time when he was supposed to be hating me. When we were supposed to be hating each other. But we had entrusted each other with something so valuable, and so we gained our first victory together. I was his sense, and he was my power. He knew technicalities, while I knew the Heart of the Cards.

There is a potential between us: Kaiba and I. We make a good team. We should do this more often. Except he saw me more as a rival to be toppled, than a friend to be cared for. Yet the fact remains that Kaiba is capable of cooperating, of trusting, if he only put his mind into it. If he only had the proper motivation. I knew of only two: protecting his brother, and defeating me.

Throughout Battle City, it was his goal of defeating me that fueled his need to win every battle. It was there when he dueled against Ishizu, the mistress of the Millennium Necklace, who foretold that Kaiba would lose the duel. But I had other ideas. When Kaiba had stood frozen before the power of the Millennium Necklace, I strengthened him with my words. I declared that it was our destiny to battle each other in the finals, even when I knew that Kaiba scoffed the idea of divine powers and was unlikely to believe me. Yet I understood that it would bring him back, remind him of how much he wanted to duel against me. Thus he proved destiny wrong, and defeated Ishizu.

And I was glad that, at that moment, he believed me.

When I was in despair, when I thought that I would be lost forever in Noa's world, when I thought that I would fail in my resolve to save my friends and to save him, Kaiba was there. He pushed me to believe that I would win; all that I had to do was to trust in his deck, and in the process, trust him, as he had trusted me with his salvation. I regained my faith with his words and his presence, and eventually beat Noa and saved us all.

And then, after I had defeated him in Alcatraz, Kaiba gave me a card which he believed would aid me in defeating the Dark Malik. It was the Devil's Sanctuary, a card from the deck that he nurtured. It was a card I barely knew, but I trusted him. And I was glad I did, for without that card, I would've been plunged into the Shadow Realm and taken my friends along with me.

Once again, Kaiba saved our lives. I owe this masterful young man a huge debt of gratitude. Then again, he could have just repaid me for saving him from his own evil. After all, he was a man who knew how to pay his debts. When Anzu had saved his brother, Kaiba returned the deed, bravely and skillfully taking down the ghoul who had almost killed my friend. And, although he scorned us afterwards, I didn't mind; by that time, Kaiba has already earned my respect.

I was right, all along, in allowing him to live. He was too valuable a person to die.

By the time we left Battle City, my hostility towards Kaiba had already disappeared. And as I looked up at him, while he laughingly sped away in his Blue Eyes White Dragon jet, I felt him telling me that our paths would soon cross again. I smiled at the thought.

And our paths did cross once again. The conflict with the Organization of Doma, a doomsday group bent on taking people's souls in order to feed and resurrect the Leviathan of Evil, caused us to team up with each other. It seemed fate took every opportunity to bring us together.

Kaiba and I went together to regain the Kaiba Corporation, which Doma's leader, Dartz, had forcefully taken. I felt exhilarated, my strength and my faith magnified with knowing that Kaiba and I were fighting side-by-side. We sped through the halls of the Kaiba Corporation building, slaying monsters along the way. He was obviously protective of me (although I'm sure he wouldn't admit this), always making sure that I was safe, always checking if I was still there and that I hadn't gotten lost or captured.

We were a team again when we faced Dartz. We were locked inside the Seal of Orikalkos, which was ready to claim our souls the moment we lost. Kaiba was the first to fall. In the process, he transferred his life points to me and urged me to continue the battle.

I caught him in my arms when he fell, vulnerable and weak. It was the first time I had seen his eyes closely. They were blue, like the ocean, deep and full of secrets, hidden from attention by his perpetually stern expression. Those eyes made me promise to defeat Dartz and save the world. I promised without hesitation. Seto Kaiba was counting on me. Apparently, his faith in me was that strong.

And then he passed out. I became even more determined to beat Dartz and fulfill my promise to this noble young man. When I had beaten Dartz, and regained the souls of Kaiba, Jounouchi and Yugi, we all fought together to beat the Leviathan of Evil and eventually, regained the souls of the other people.

Since then, every time I heard about Kaiba, or saw him on posters or newspapers, I felt something strong in my heart. It was a feeling alien to me. No, it had been there all along, growing stronger with time, until it revealed itself, too powerful for me to conquer. Whenever I thought of Kaiba, my heart would beat wildly, and make me feel happy, sad, anxious and excited at the same time. I wanted to have Kaiba near me, where I could hear his voice and see his face, look into his eyes and hold him tight. It was a very pleasant feeling, yet intense and unbearable -- like it was sucking the life from me. But... what was it? I was confused about it, so initially, I didn't tell my hikari anything, knowing that he would worry.

For some time, I didn't want to think about Seto Kaiba -- but I couldn't stop myself. Finally, I decided I could not keep silent about it any longer, and told my hikari about it.

"It's simple, my friend," he said with a smile. "You are in love with Seto Kaiba."

"Wha--?" I couldn't believe my ears. You are in love with Seto Kaiba, he had said.But... how? I thought I had heard it wrong, so I asked Yugi to repeat what he had said, over and over. And each time, Yugi just said the same thing.

"You are in love with Seto Kaiba."

I knew (or thought I knew) what love is, from Anzu's descriptions of it in the past, as well as from what I have read in literature of this era, but I have never felt it (at least, since I awoke from the Millennium Puzzle). And now, Yugi was telling me that I was feeling it... for Seto Kaiba? True, I respected him, wanted to protect him... and sometimes, even hated him. But... loved him? No, it didn't seem right. It wasn't right. I stared, confused, shocked -- scared -- for a long time.

Yugi brought me a cup of black tea and, placing his hand upon my cold one, gently said, "Let's talk about it, if it's alright with you..."

His kind voice eased my soul, and I nodded, hesitantly, proceeding to tell him my story...

(to be continued)

Author's Note: On August 18, 2006, over two months after the last chapter of this fanfiction was posted, I went through this story again and found spelling and grammatical errors. I re-uploaded the story after correcting those errors. However, since I haven't saved my other A/N's in my computer, my notes in further chapters would not be included anymore. Thus, at this point, I would like to thank those who have read and reviewed my fanfiction.