A/N: Author's Rant more like. I'll try to keep this short. One story. Three chapters. Three points of view: Amelda's, Kaiba's and neutral. Or Author's point of view, if you will. Possible warshipping. Cannot guarantee anything until I haven't gotten to part 3. Which I haven't, because you cannot call a part those frantic non-connected doodles I have on several scraps of paper laying around the table.
The few changes made to this part do not affect the story in the slightest. I merely got rid of some pesky loose ends. Most likely you won't even notice.
Disclaimer: I know it. You know it. Kazuki Takahashi knows it.
Warnings: None for now.
Half Of Your Heart
Not To Fall Again
What am I doing again? Walking aimlessly. That has become a steady habit of mine. I walk. And I walk. And walk. On and on. Without a proper aim, without a goal or a reason. Ever since the treason of Dartz was revealed I've lost all meaning in my life. Sometimes I think it can't be quite classified as a simple treason since he'd planned this from the very start. I think it calls something more than just that, but thinking about it doesn't change anything, because nothing can be changed. Too late for that now. It has left a disgusting aftertaste in my mouth, pondering about everything I've done under someone's influence. How many foolish mistakes I've made without even realizing it. The same for Raphael and Valon, I bet. Especially for Raphael since he's the one who had the most heartfelt belief in what that turquoise-haired murderer preached. It's good I never entirely trusted him, keeping an exit door ajar for myself. Valon? Quite surprisingly he got over it quickly enough, or, perhaps, that's just his usual tough guy front set up again. Or maybe that's just because he's the youngest of us three, and more concerned about Mai. But you never know. You never know.
Me? I feel ashamed. I feel like I've betrayed the memory of my little brother. You see, I've wasted six years of my life chasing after a ghost, something that was just an illusion, an imaginary enemy. Yet I don't regret a single thing of what I've done. Strange, isn't it? During these years I've gotten a better grasp on some things that can never be changed. That will never change. Today I've got no job, no home, no family to return to. I don't care as much about the first two, but the third, however… War taught me what was essential and what – of secondary importance. You can lose your job, your house can be destroyed, but your family is what always stays. They're the people who won't judge you, who will accept you for who you are, and they'll always side with you against your enemies. And I've lost them. All of them, and it might as well be my own fault.
Well, maybe I lied. I do regret something, I just make sure neither to show nor admit it. Even to myself. I was afraid to face it because I failed on the most essential thing in my life – my brother. Hell, I don't even have a grave to return to. There just wasn't enough left to bury after the explosion. Just a pile of rubble, twisted metal and some bloody shreds. And a half-molten blood-coated plastic figurine. Cruel? Yes. But that's how the life goes, isn't it? Especially if you're a child caught in the middle of a war.
As I reflect on those days when Miruko was still alive, I remember the faith he had in that inanimate toy. It was the hero that always came to save the day, but in our case he never showed up. He didn't come even though Miruko kept on repeating that he would.
"Maybe," sad grey eyes look up at me. "Maybe there are others in bigger danger and he has to save them too."
My heart wrenched at the memory. My brother. My little brother. And he still believed even after being let down so many times before. I now realize many things. Like, for example, I should've been that hero for my brother. He put all his faith and trust in me, but I failed. Failed him twice. First time when I allowed him to die and second when I allowed myself to be tricked by Dartz's words. Strange, that the one to open my eyes on that one was my de facto enemy, Seto Kaiba. I put the blame on him and his company because I was afraid to face the truth that I've always known. It's as if I'd killed Miruko with my own hands when I left him to be taken care of by others when I should've stayed by his side no matter what. My young age is of no excuse here. Seto Kaiba was just as young, yet he took care of his brother in the way I never could. My logic steps in, reasoning that Kaiba wasn't caught in our situation. He hasn't gone through war, hasn't seen everything crumbling around your ears, he cannot know what kind of horror that is. You, Seto Kaiba, have your own demons visiting at night, I'm sure. Just as I have mine. If I could revert back in time, there'd be only one thing that I'd do differently, but it'd change everything – I wouldn't turn my back on my little brother and I wouldn't leave him even for the tiniest of heartbeats. Nor would I ever let anyone else take care of him for no matter what reasons.
It's so strange. I turned away only for a second, just to retrieve the locket with our mother's picture and he was already gone. At first, I hoped to find him. Hoped that he was still alive. Still somewhere out there. Alone. Desperate. Lost. Perhaps wounded badly, but still alive. Those were my own feelings, but I refused to understand that and instead projected them on the image of Miruko. I searched the region, questioned everyone, but the answer was always nothingness. I was too afraid to face the truth, to live with the thought of never seeing him again, never hearing him laugh again, never receive one of his genuinely happy smiles... I don't even have a single picture of him. They all got burnt when our house went down in flames. The only remembrance of his existence was the partially destroyed toy figurine that I still carry with me. I wonder though, when will it stop haunting me in my dreams? The possible answer might be… never.
I can take it no longer. This city is suffocating me. I have to get away, get out of this rush, away from this life that knows no other ways of existence, apart reckless rush forwards without a proper aim. There's only frantic work and an eternal chain of identical grey days full of routine dragging by with no hope of reconciling. I have to, no, - I must get away from this.
But most of all I have to get away from you, Seto Kaiba.
Yes, you still haunt me, and I never seem to get rid of that ghost of yours. You're there in my dreams, telling all those things that I've always known, but never acknowledged in spite and denial, you're there when I'm awake, rummaging through my mind like a colony of ants. I hate you. No. I don't. I don't know. I no longer know. Back then, when Dartz was still around and preaching a lie, it was so much easier. I didn't have to think, just feel, just hate, despise, destroy. Now that he's gone, he's taken all emotions away leaving only confusion behind. You said a lot of things during our duel, Kaiba. Not all of what you said would have worked in my situation, but you don't know all of the aspects. You wouldn't even care to know and I wouldn't even want you to know. All I want is you out of my mind for good.
I'm leaving the city on my red motorcycle. Houses are falling behind, wind grows harder as wide fields spread in front of me and it's already easier to breathe than while being in the same city you reside in. There we share the same streets, the same air, even a part of our lives. We live in the same city, Seto Kaiba, and your presence is suffocating me. Sometimes I wish you felt the same way about me sharing the same place of living, but other times I just don't care. I'm far away from the city now. I know that if I looked back, I wouldn't even see its buildings shrunken to a miniature size, but I don't look back and don't stop the driving. Not yet. I want to see the ocean, breathe even more easily. However, I know that I can never leave forever, only break away for some time. You, Seto Kaiba, are like a drug; you have invaded my blood circulation, possessed my nerve system and you keep me addicted and depending; bound to the city you live in. But I am healing. Slowly, bit by bit, I'm piecing myself together again. It takes time. A lot of time. More than I might ever have, I guess. But I know that I'll be free one day and then I'll leave for real.
As I increase the distance between the city and you, and myself, I vaguely wonder – do you even know that I'm running form you? And would you care if you knew? Most likely the answer would be a no. On both questions.
The ocean is near. I can already feel its salty breath, and soon enough I stop the driving. I've found an alcove in the cliffs to hide my motorcycle in so that no one would know about me being here although no one really comes here. For as long as I've visited this place, no one seems to be around. With the soothing thought of being completely alone and free, even though for the tiniest of glimpses of time, I make my way down the rocky and narrow path to the stone-coated beach below. The path leading down is dangerous and I assume not many could make it all the way there, so I feel ridiculously pleased to know that I'm one of the few, maybe, who can manage it. I guess the inaccessibility of this beach is what keeps other people away. Heh. All the better then. This place is kind of like me – hard to access, void of any life and empty.
The ocean is restless today. Just like my mind, I smirk to myself. Its waters are grey-green, a sure sign of a storm brewing somewhere, and the angry water desert is splashing gusts of white foam against the rocks, sending sputters of cold saltwater shimmer through the air. Yes, let the storm come. I want to see the forces of nature raging, I want to get soaked throughout and forget about everything else. I just want to be, exist without thinking and feeling. Let the wilderness go mad. To me that would be like a manifest of myself still being alive, because, cross my heart, sometimes I feel too old for my age, and cold and dead inside. I want to see the sky weep for me because I no longer can do it for myself. No tears are left within me that should be shed. At first I kept them bottled, then eventually they all dried out before spilling. Sometimes I wish I could, actually, cry, but I can't. There just isn't anything left for me to cry about. See what I mean by saying that I feel dead inside?
I wish it were possible to revert back in time. I would save you; I swear I would. I wouldn't have let you out of my sight even for the tiniest of heartbeats and then you would be alive, and we would be together now. You could have been alive if not for my mistake, the strange coincidental obstacle match and a cruel twist of fate. One heartbeat, and you were still there. Another one, and you were already gone. If I could return to rewrite those happenings, we would have gone to look for that locket together. Then you wouldn't be anywhere near that tank at the moment it exploded. Granted, we would have suffered some minor damage from the blow and flying pieces of metal as I did, but we'd be alive and well. And you'd be still with me. I do realize that something else might have happened and if you had survived that time, there was no guarantee that something wouldn't happen latter on. Or that I would manage to survive for you. Then again, if I really could travel back in time, I suppose my mind would be wiped blank and I would have to start everything anew, not knowing the outcome and the consequences.
I miss you, little brother, and I'll never stop missing you because when you passed on, you didn't go alone. You took one half of my heart with you. The other half got lost somewhere along the way and I doubt it can ever be recovered. But wherever I go, whatever I do, a part of you is always with me in the remains of my heart, in my mind, sealed deep within my memories. You are my brother, even if now gone, and nothing can ever change that.
Why? Why do I feel like losing again now? Why can't I get you out of my mind, Seto Kaiba? It's long done. Everything between us is long settled. So why do you keep on haunting me? I cannot think of my brother without remembering you in one way or another. I feel like I'm losing the touch with reality, like I'm slowly going insane. You seem to be in every place I go to. We're two complete strangers having nothing in common except for the fact that, for a short period of time, our lives have crossed and then drifted apart again. So why don't you get lost already, Kaiba? Get out of my mind for once! I hate you.
No, I don't. That's Orichalcos speaking in me. Yes, it's still there. Reminding about its existence every once in a while. It won't disappear so quickly. Not after I've worn it for years and allowed it to consume my sanity. The same way I can't seem to forget you, Seto Kaiba, no matter what I do. Ever since I first met your eyes across the duelling field something clicked inside my head. I don't have a name for that feeling. Back then I thought it was pure hatred for what you've done to my family and me. What, as it turned out, someone else using your name did. Now I know it was all a lie. There is no hatred in me. At least, not for anyone outside. It's an inward hatred towards myself for all the faults I've done under someone else's influence. The feeling I have for you is something else. I just don't have a proper name for it. Yet. And perhaps I'll never have.
I don't know how long I've been sitting here on this rock. Time is irrelevant for me now. As I sit here on this large stone with ocean dully splashing at my feet and watch the waves rise and fall, I'm finally at peace. My breathing is easy; nothing is weighing me down at the moment. I am free from everything. I simply exist. Without a meaning, without a goal or a proper reason. I can just be here without thinking. I don't have to worry about things weighing me down while I'm in the Domino City, I don't have to contemplate things haunting me during nights. I'm alone. Isolated from all humanity. Peaceful. Free.
At least it was that way until…
Until I caught a glimpse of him.
He was standing up on the cliff, his white coat flaring about in the wind as if alive, his blue eyes diverted to some spot far away into the ocean, observing something that I cannot see from down here. At least I think so. I don't know if he has noticed me yet. I don't know for how long he's been standing there. Hell, I didn't even know he knew about the existence of this place.
Now, can you believe the irony of this? I was trying to run away from you, Seto Kaiba. And yet when I've turned to walk away, you are the one awaiting me at the end of my road. Suddenly I realize that I'm falling. Again. I feel the familiar emptiness take me over, the black void that makes my insides clench. Such a familiar feeling… As if Orichalcos' taking ahold of me again. I know I have to resist, but can I?
I. Must. Not. Give in.
I cannot fall again.