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

Author's Note: Since the dub of Duel Monsters is finally ending, I thought I'd take a stab at writing this series, plus I need a break from the Law and Order fictions I've been doing. Saying this now so as not to confuse later: I use the dub terms as I'm more comfortable with them but I am fully aware of the Japanese terms and of the two, I will incorporate more of the Japanese (or the authentic) dialogue if applicable. It depends on the format. It's my first try at this fandom and the characters, so take what you can get.

Since I don't write accents naturally, I plan to handle Joey's accent with the help of a friend, who has lived in the New York area and knows the accent quite well. My props to Mer Girl and her extensive knowledge of Brooklyn-ese and being a fellow Joey fan in general. The lines were done at her discretion. Thanks, love. You're the best.

Special thanks to Cody's episode comparison site as it's the closest to a transcript as I can't find my tape at the moment and Cartoon Network won't air the episode in question, even though they have the rights. Lord knows why.

Beta: PureSakuraMelody. Make her happy and whip up some Kaiba fiction. Her habit must be fed.

Timeline: A few minutes into "Showdown in the Shadows, Part 1" or "Malik vs. Bakura" for the Japanese fans.

Ready Go!


The night stretched on as the airship, Kaiba Craft 3, maintained its pace to Kaiba Corp Island. Everyone was snug in his or her bed; though for some, sleeping was the least of their concerns. Yami Bakura and Yami Marik went off and engaged in a Duel and Kaiba mulled over how he was able to read the Winged Dragon of Ra's text. The good little boys and girls rested, despite the possible doom awaiting them, courtesy of Yami Marik. For two of the occupants of the dirigible, their dreams had a different focus in mind.

For Joey Wheeler, crammed in a room with two of his male compatriots (Tristan Taylor and Duke Devlin) he murmured in his sleep regarding his current quest.


There they stood, bathed in a white dazzling light. He scanned the blonde and her amethyst eyes as she cocked her head toward him.

"I'm glad to see ya back on your feet, Mai."

Her eyes glazed over in an undulating sorrow. "You have more to worry about than me, Joey."

Before he could retort, some inexplicable force distanced her from him while a desolate darkness consumed the light and suddenly found herself shackled on the stone tablet from her Duel with Marik. The tablet then moved further into the distance as the underdog Duelist was paralyzed.

"Mai! Come back! I swear I'll get ya back from the Shadow Realm!"

Joey twitched as his distress heightened and his eyes fluttered open. He was about to open his mouth when Tristan cuddled up next to him.

'Dat's disturbing.'

He was ready to shove his friend aside when he felt thirst on his tongue.

'Guess I'll take the cue. Can't do much in here anyway—can't work on my deck or drink. I'll swipe somethin' from the fridge and drink it somewhere else.' He slithered out of bed and headed to the mini-fridge. After delicately grabbing a soda, he exited the room. He wandered about the hall and craned his head towards the direction of Mai's room.

'Couldn't hurt to see how Mai and Serenity are. Got nothin' better to do til we land. Although, it's late. If I wanted to, I could go to Marik's room and separate his soul from his body in my way.' He double blinked.

'Man, I need to stop hanging 'round Kaiba; dat sounds like somethin' he would say.'

The brawler walked down the corridor.


Ishizu tossed and turned in her sleep, stirring from the same dream she had the final night before she boarded the airship: her and a blonde Caucasian male teenager kissing. It was her penultimate vision from the Millennium Necklace before it furnished her the visions of her victory over Kaiba. She never crossed paths with the teen before, until the night of the Battle City finals. She recognized him as a friend of her Pharaoh, Joey Wheeler.

She mused why she would have such a vision with a person she had never encountered before. The soothsayer had no time for such indulgences with the rising of her brother's iniquity and his Rare Hunters or the second coming of the Pharaoh. Her eyes finally flickered open.

'Not again. With the return of Marik's evil side, I would not think my mind would dwell on this vision. How is this possible? This can not be fate, can it? Not if I don't know the boy.' She recalled her revelation to her Pharaoh and his friends of the Ishtars' origin earlier tonight.

'No, I can't say that now. I have met him as he despairs over the woman whom my brother has inflicted his darkness upon. I have…seen his rage; it is justifiable as my brother has done so much to ones who aren't even a part of the struggle. Since I am eliminated from the tournament, I do not suppose there will be any harm if I attempt to befriend him. If nothing else, perhaps I can dissuade some of his rage for Marik. I certainly have the time.'

Ishizu sat up from the bed and rested her feet on the carpeted floor. She rather enjoyed the pleasure of feeling the carpet between her toes.

'I've quite the indulgence. Of course, there isn't anything like this back home with the sands and stones. Everyone is asleep; I might as well go and marvel at Kaiba's technical ingenuity while I have the chance and enjoy it before the eye of the storm passes. Sleep is impossible.'

She wore her moccasins and contemplated wearing her rusæribut no one should be awake at this hour and they've already seen her with her veil removed. So either way, it would be hubris to wear it now. She departed the room and searched for the observation deck.


Joey wanted to enter Mai's room but he knew that he didn't want to disturb her or Serenity in her bedside vigil. He thought one of the happiest times of his life would be Serenity's discarding of her bandages and finally seeing the world using her innocent eyes. Alas, Marik robbed her of that as her first image was her big brother ready to drown in the leader of the Rare Hunters' over elaborate deathtrap. He clenched his fist.

'Just yet another reason to pound dat psychopath into the ground or better yet, chuck him out the door here.' The reformed bully smiled at the mental picture of Marik falling several hundred feet below.

'But we're 'bove water and he'd probably survive the splashdown. Man…'

He lingered around the door; his mind, still reflecting on Marik, brooded over the speech Ishizu presented about the Ishtars' past.

'"No matter what happens, people can't stop looking. Even in a world full of sadness, there's someone stretching out his hands to see the world."'

He narrowed his eyes as the words the older Ishtar said to his sister and the monologue echoed on. 'Now dat her story has sunk in, I rather hate dis—not only do I hate him, but I also have to feel sorry for him. Certainly gives me a new look on her and Odion.'

He stared at Mai's door. 'Doesn't mean I'm going to forgive him either.' He sighed as the ocean turned up from the corner of his peripheral vision,'No one will be as psyched as me come tomorrow. I'll put dat punk in his place and maybe get some revenge on Rich boy too.' A dark sneer marred his lips.

'But I can't lose sight of what's important here either. Don't worry, Mai; I know you'll be there in spirit.' He placed his hand on the door.

He strolled throughout the corridor, finished his soda, and went to locate a trash receptacle. He heard the one of the doors' opening mechanisms and later footsteps further down the corridor and dashed off to investigate.


Ishizu peered at the tranquil ocean from the windows in the observation deck. The serene waters completed the setting.

'I know I glanced at the ocean before when I had to fly over to Domino but I never had the chance to appreciate it as I was worried about Marik. I wonder if this is Fate's design to offer the missed opportunity.' Kaiba's rancor of pre-ordination from their match then marched on in her head.

'Maybe I should rest Fate for tonight as Kaiba has shown me. Besides, it is not why I'm awake anyway.'

She evoked her monologue about the Ishtars' past to the Pharaoh and his friends once again and the cold glare from Joey at the conclusion.

'"I'm supposed to feel sorry for dat spoiled brat because he grew into an evil nutcase? Your brother trapped Mai's mind in the Shadow Realm. Now she's livin' out her worst nightmares, and I'm going to make sure he pays!"'

The pugilist's harsh words cut through her but she couldn't refute him—for he was right.

'The first true interaction I have with him and the chance to authenticate this vision and he has nothing but indignation for my brother. I'm beginning to find out that Life is a funny cur. Negative encounters aside, he has one positive as he's friends with my Pharaoh. That certainly deserves praise.

'I wonder how he got past the Pharaoh's distant disposition. Doubly surprising considering he doesn't seem to have a connection to the past. Should I probe deeper into this before the finals or given the dire stakes, should I wait? It might be pointless. Although, when has that stopped me?'

She caught her reflection in the window and gaped into her own cheerless eyes. 'The first thing I saw in that room was his sister's heartbreaking eyes. It is clear they have a deep bond. Is it as deep as my own bond with Marik? A similarity. Interesting, given his borderline crudity, I would think we'd be too different at first glance. Yet he does seem deeper than what he appears to be.'

She stretched her arms. 'What other curiosities I shall find tomorrow? Possible calamity aside with the Finals, I might even look forward to engaging the matter with him. I hope the Gods will forgive this possible indulgence; I already am in debt with my usage of the Millennium Necklace. However, I've felt his hate, so would it be futile to try to engage him? More questions and uncertainties. Kaiba would be amused.'

She turned away from the window as she heard footsteps approach her. Who could it be? Marik? One of Kaiba's coordinators? The Pharaoh? Born into the dank tomb of the Pharaoh, functioning in the darkness is second nature to the soothsayer. So she concealed herself and waited for her pursuer.


Joey ventured to the observational deck where the reverb of the footsteps ended up and searched around.

"Who's there? If it's you, Marik, I'm goin' to wipe the floor with your mop-head," he threatened in his most intimidating voice.

"Relax, Joey. It's me, Ishizu." She stepped into the moonlight beaming from the windows.

"Oh, sorry, Ishizu. These days ya can't be too careful." He realized his mistake as he joined her. "I didn't mean…"

"That's alright. I do not blame you. You have good cause to feel this way."

He envisioned Mai lying on her bed, helpless and was ready to unleash some reflexive righteous indignation until he considered the oracle's profound remorse and his own recent musings.

He sighed deeply. "Yeah. I want to say tdat I'm…sorry for what I said 'bout Marik. I know you're trying to do right by your brother."

She was shocked by his admission. "I'm somewhat surprised by that."

"Yeah, well, I had some time to think. I gotta admit, Ishizu, ya put me in a rock and a hard place—I do hate him, but I do feel sorry for him after what ya said of your childhood."

"Forgive me if I appreciate your conundrum."

"Well, I go through dis with Mokuba and Kaiba all the time. How dat sweet kid is related to dat jerk, I'll never know." They both chuckled noiselessly.

"I can also appreciate that, although I never had the pleasure of meeting the younger Kaiba brother." Her manner lightened up.

"I met him in Duelist Kingdom when Pegasus tried to take over Kaiba Corp. He escaped from Pegasus' castle, swiped a kid's deck, and fought Yugi but Yug made him see the light. Pegasus was the real enemy and we all became friends, even with his brother."

"Interesting, despite your apparent rivalry to each other," she jovially chided.

Joey rolled his eyes. "Yeah, we have our ups and downs. Kaiba is a jerk, but at least he's true to his brother," he inhaled. "And I wouldn't get on Mokuba's case just 'cause his brother has a chip on his shoulder the size of his Blue Eyes. It's not his fault. It's the same reason why I shouldn't be on your case, like earlier tonight."

"You don't have to apologize. But thank you."

"Well, when I see a sibling tryin' to help another sibling, it gets my interest."

She stepped closer to him. "Like with yours?"

"Yeah. It's a long story." He shrugged and stared stupidly at his sneakers.

"I have some time. Sleep is impossible for me at the moment."

"It's a bit personal. Of course, you did drop all dat 'bout your brother. I should be fair, huh?"

"Do as you wish to do," she said in her typical cryptic tone.

"Don't get all 'mystery girl' on me. I hate dat with girls," he spat. The irony of Mai's mystifying clairvoyant image from the early days of Duelist Kingdom was not lost on him.

"I never said I was that, but a soothsayer has to keep her secrets," she jabbed, coyly. The irony of her true intentions with Kaiba wasn't lost on her either.

"Because you wouldn't be any fun if you didn't have your surprises?" he returned, scathingly.

"You don't miss a beat, do you?" she sloughed off his venom.

"Dat's experience for you," he boasted.

"I can sense that and I don't need any artifacts for that, but we're digressing. Your story?" Ishizu's smile veiled within the moonlight.

"Oh, yeah. Been a while since I said dis to anyone lately but…when we were younger, 'bout seven years ago, our parents divorced and my dad took me while my ma took Serenity. I remember runnin' to the car while her face pressed against the window crying. I still don't know why they agreed to dat. Not dat it matters anymore."

The sage adopted a pensive look. 'Another similarity—we both have our issues with our parents. Combining this with our protectiveness with our younger siblings, most interesting indeed.' "Now it is my turn to apologize."

"Nah, I don't need sympathy as she's better now."

"Better now?"

"I don't know the medical term but she developed blindness when she got older but we had no money for the operation. So I went to Duelist Kingdom for a shot at the $3 Million prize money. I didn't get it despite making the finals but Yugi did and gave me the money," the runner-up to Duelist Kingdom reminisced with his patented optimism.

"What a gesture," she replied, taken aback.

"Yeah. Yug never ceases to surprise ya with his kindness."

"I sensed that as well," 'The Pharaoh certainly picked the right vessel, and the right friends.' "May I ask how did you meet him?"

Joey's visage had a sense of lament. "I knew him in school, and I wasn't exactly a friend at dat point. My friend, Tristan and I played keep-away with the Millennium Puzzle and bein' the bully I was…, I threw the central piece into the school's outdoor pool. A few hours later, we got ours as we were on the receivin' end of a bully's fist. I forget the guy's name but…Yugi jumped in to try to defend us, sayin' that we're his friends.

"He stood up for me; considerin' all the crap I've given him, I knew I didn't deserve any of dat. I learned dat day what a true friend was. I fished out the puzzle piece and apologized to Yug and said we should hang more often and the rest is history." A whisper of a smile cornered the reformatted bully's face.

"I never would have guessed as your closeness is quite obvious."

He tittered. "It's hard to miss, huh?"

"I used to have that level of closeness with Marik, so I know it when I see it." She bestowed a melancholy grin.

"I'm enjoyin' the guilt trip, Ishizu," he refrained to seethe further in his sarcasm.

"I apologize. I didn't mean to, but I do miss him. I miss that cherubic expression on his face when he was younger. I miss his innocence and exploration. I…I'd best stop." She was slightly frightened of being emotional in front a person she just met. Not after all the fortifying of her image as an ethereal, dispassionate seer she had to do.

"No, go on."

Her eyes lit up and pierced straight through him. "Are you sure? I don't wish to stir up things for you…"

"Hey, I hate the guy's guts but he can't be all dat bad if he has you for a sister. And you wouldn't have gone through all dis if ya didn't care 'bout him. Dat's what big brothers and sisters are there for," he beamed with an understated pride.

Ishizu softly smiled at that. "Thank you, Joey. It appears we have things in common."

"I never thought 'bout it but yeah, I guess we do." He was grateful the darkness obscured his blush.

She remained silent for a minute. "I'd like to continue this somewhat undisturbed as I'm sure our further talking will attract some attention here. Though, I would hate to leave this splendid view."

He went off and watched at the shimmering ocean. "You're right; dat is beautiful."

"I don't see such marvels of nature back in Egypt. I thought with the lull before the Finals, I'd go watch and appreciate this firsthand," the mystic mused in awe.

"You're certainly deep, Ishizu."

She nodded in appreciation. "Thank you. Where shall we retire to?"

"Well, my room has three other people at the moment." It suddenly occurred to him that he didn't know where Téa was as she was conspicuously absent when he snuck out of the room. 'Maybe she's loungin' 'round like us. Who would want to sleep with the three of us guys crammed in the room too? Not to mention the excitement of the Finals.'

"Then we shall go to mine. I have no other occupants. Come on." She motioned to the egress.

"Lucky you. I gotta share a bed with Tristan," the one time browbeater groaned.

"I had a feeling you two were close but…" she joked.

"No. We're not joined at the hip, ya know."

"So you say."

Joey mutely growled as she escorted him to her empty room.

'Another taboo broken: I led him to my room. Was this wise? Probably not, but I'm enjoying the conversation. I'm sure he is as well or we wouldn't have gotten this far. What will happen next?' "So, before we continue on, may I ask why you were up, Joey? I never did ask." The door closed behind them.

He avoided her to shroud his reddening. "Just stuff on my mind, what 'bout you?"

'How noncommittal. I can play that game too.' "The same."

"Yeah? I have to admit I don't get why ya had to go out to look at the ocean, when ya could've just watched from the porthole." He headed to one of her portholes.

"It's not the same compared to the space the observation deck gives. I did it for the indulgence, preferably at a time when no one is around." She glided out of her moccasins and sat down on the bed.

"You don't like people seein' you indulge yourself and maybe have fun? Sounds like a few people I know," Joey jibed.

"No, I didn't say that. It's only when I need to project an image. I have to maintain it for however long or people might think less of me. People expect their clairvoyants to be always solemn people," Ishizu stated, pensively.

"Well, ya can't be a party animal if you're saying the world is goin' to end soon, eh?" he cracked as he faced her.

A faint smile graced her lips. "Not really."

"Must lead for a lonely life if ya have to shut people out 'cause of dhat." His attitude altered from sardonic to sober.

"Sometimes. The price one pays for an advantage."

"Like the Millennium Necklace?"

"To a degree. I'm sure I will be in debt to the Gods for the rest of my life because of the Necklace." She lowered her head in shame.

"Dat sounds harsh."

"Divine will and judgment are not meant to be taken lightly, Joey."

"I can believe dat in my match with Odion and Ra," he replied in a staid manner.


"We're gettin' off track here. You said ya had some tales about you and Marik when you were younger?"

She perked up by that. "Yes, a few. Although I am enjoying the way the new conversation is going. It's rare for me to talk like this."

"Like what?" he inquired, confused.

"Well, more talking in my field."

"Oh. Ya mean 'talk shop?'"

"Yes. Beyond the immediate family, I don't discuss 'shop' as most won't believe me without difficulty or a proper demonstration. In order to get the proper reaction I need, I have to don my 'mystery girl' act as much as I'd rather not care to at times. But I am surprised with you about this." 'And now I've told him how I operate. Curious indeed.'

He did not screen out his perplexity. "Why?"

"Because you're not part of this."

"Whadduya mean 'I'm not a part of dis'? Do you know what I've been through?" the Duelist snapped defensively, his voice increasing.

"I mean that you're not reincarnated from the past like Yugi and Kaiba are and yet you have an open mind. Look at Seto Kaiba: he is reborn and his mind is as shut as a tomb," the seer interrupted.

"You couldn't pick a better word, Ishizu?" He relaxed his anxiety.

"I'm sorry; it was the best word I could think of at the moment."

"Uh-huh. But I got your point. I didn't use to believe in magic and all dat but being with Yug and facin' off against Pegasus and your brother, I understand there are higher powers ya can't easily explain." He joined her on the bed.

'He's rather close to me now. He seems like an honorable person and I have the will. Stop fretting.' The spiritualist admonished herself. "You don't know how refreshing it is to hear that."


"Let's just say I've dealt with Kaiba's type before."

"Oh, he's a punk. No wonder he can't beat Yug." Joey waved his hand dismissively.

"Indeed, Kaiba's initial defeat at the hands in the Pharaoh is legendary and I'm confident it will occur here again in the Finals."

"Yep. Sure will. Anyway, you were going to say about your brother? Sorry, but of the two, the less I hear Kaiba, the better." He made himself comfortable.

"Fair enough. You know, I knew the risks of going outside when we were younger but I couldn't refuse him and his adorable face." Her grin slowly developed.

"I'll take your word for it."

"I just didn't realize how out of control things would be back then, but I was a child. The magic of hindsight," she whispered longingly.

"Ishizu, you didn't know and ya wanted him happy. You did what a big sister should do." He rested his hand on her right shoulder. She shuddered with his touch.

"I know, but it doesn't make what would happen later on any easier."

"Yeah. Definitely, since ya went 'bout it alone, so I got to ask dis: I know what ya said 'bout your dad but what 'bout your mother and Odion? Odion seemed like a decent guy, I don't get why he stays by Marik. Couldn't they have done more to stop him?" He gripped a little tighter.

Ishizu contemplated his question and recollected memories of when Marik stormed the vault where she stored the Obelisk the Tormentor card.

"My mother was weak after giving birth to Marik. She became bed-ridden as time elapsed and I denied everything as well as I could about my father, Marik, and Odion but when I set out to leave for Domino, I finally told her. She wasn't surprised as she knew my father was a cruel man."

"Well, I wasn't goin' to say anythin' but…"

"Thank you for not saying it. So she waits in Egypt until I return home with Marik and Odion. No matter what form they're in."

"And Odion?"

She inhaled deeply again. "Odion was an orphan, found by my parents. My mother dearly loved him but my father didn't as such. He wanted a son of his own blood to carry on the Tomb Keeper's tradition. However, my mother knew how important the tradition was to Odion in his quest to be accepted and coaxed my father to perform the ritual on his tenth birthday. I was born a little later on and then finally Marik.

"He was tasked into being Marik's protector. After the ritual that branded Marik, Odion performed his own ritual—the tattoos on his face—to be closer to my brother. That helped sate Marik's evil side and you know the rest. The day after Marik…dispatched with Father, I found the Millennium Necklace and received my first vision and witness my brother's destiny unfolding before me. About his quest for the Egyptian God Cards and hunting all but one—Obelisk.

"I confronted him at the vault where I stored Obelisk and said the God cards belong to the nameless Pharaoh. He said that if I forgotten that our misery and sorrow were caused by the nameless Pharaoh and he intended to find him and take his revenge. I stated that our fates were decided and he was going to start another disaster. He showed me the scars on his back, asking if his branding and Odion's scars were their sacrifice to the Pharaoh.

"He vowed once he killed the Pharaoh and take his place, he would change our fates. Once that happens, he'd return to me and regain a happy life for all three of us. He then escaped with Odion and that's when I realized why Odion is willing to stay with him. After that, it was time to begin my plans with Kaiba. I didn't think I would say all that." Ishizu reddened and exhaled.

"Wow. I'm touched and you've given me a whole new look on Odion. Though, after my Duel with him and what ya said in Mai's room, I already had the beginning of dat." He released her.

"Then it was more than worth it. And I owed you from telling me of your sister. I have to admit, you have a very disarming presence, Joey."

He arched an eyebrow. "Is dat a compliment?"

"Yes, it is," she chortled.

"Thanks. I try my best."

They shared a slight smile. "Thank you for listening at least. I don't normally have the pleasure." She scrutinized his features.

"It's fine. Like I said 'bout Odion, dis has gotten me to appreciate you too." He guaranteed his countenance would not appear flush again.

"And I you. Would you care to tell me why you are awake now?"

"Yeah, why not? Just have a lot on my mind. The finals, Marik, but I guess…"


He voided his guarantee. "I don't know 'bout dat…"

"You like her."

"Yeah, I do, as a friend."

'Indeed.' "Anything more to that? It's clear you care a great deal about her, especially given your declarations from earlier tonight," the clairvoyant stated in her usual ominous demeanor.

"Don't get psychic on me. She's a friend and I want to get to know her and I can't do that if her mind is trapped like dat. Dat's all." 'Besides, I owe her from Duelist Kingdom when she gave me her card to get me in the finals. She saved my butt, now it's my turn to return the favor.'

"I believe you're rationalizing but that is your wish."

"Rationalizin'? I don't get what ya mean." He gawked blank-eyed.

"Just coming up with excuses instead of acting on what you really feel."

"Dat would be true if I was feeling anythin', but I'm not. Mai is a friend, dat's it." 'Geez, it's bad enough I get things from Téa and everyone else 'bout dis, Ishizu has to be on my case too?'

If she wasn't face-to-face with the Duelist, she would induce a Cheshire cat smile. 'Most intriguing.' "I was only curious. Forgive me if I crossed any lines."

"No, but I get dat plenty from my friends. I like Mai, but I don't know if she'd be my type. I don't think I have a type."

"Understandable. You're a rather unique teen, Joey."

"I could say the same with you. But then I don't meet many oracles too often."

"Or I open minded people. It's all relative at times."

Joey sighed. "Yeah, it is. Life is funny like dat."


After a respite in the conversation, he blurted out "I had a dream 'bout Mai and 'bout losing her. Dat's what kept me up."

"I see."

"I don't want to mess up, Ishizu. She pushed me to my limits, like Yug and I guess even Kaiba, I just don't want dis to be the end of all dat," he rambled, almost maudlin.

"It doesn't have to be. You and I both know that Yugi will stop this." She briefly touched his shoulder to compensate for his prior gesture.

"I know, doesn't mean I have to do nothin' either." He changed his disposition to one of determination.

"Just don't get consumed by your…emotions. I…wouldn't want what happened to Marik to happen to you, too." She couldn't face him as emotions swelled within her.

"Don't worry 'bout it. Nothin' will touch me," he bragged.

"I don't doubt it."

"Since we talked 'nough 'bout me, Ishizu, why did you get up? I don't think it was for just sightseein'."

Ishizu searched for an excuse to wiggle out of the conversation. 'I suppose I can polish off my cryptic ness, although now I don't feel that I should.' "Like you, I had a dream: a future vision of sorts."

"How could ya have visions of the future when you gave the Millennium Necklace to Yugi?"

"It was the final vision I had before I boarded the ship. I'm not sure what it could mean. I woke up from it and went out to the observation deck to give myself an indulgence or really, a distraction."

"Do ya have an idea what it could mean?"

She looked toward him and caught her reflection in his eyes. "Somewhat. It involved me and a…boy my age."

"A boy your age? Doin' what?"

"That is what I'm not sure about. I believe we were kissing. The curiosity is the boy isn't someone I met before nor do I think he would be my type," she observed, meditatively.

"You don't seem you have a type; I didn't think oracles had social lives," he jested.

"In my case, I never had the time to explore it as I had the bigger picture with my brother."

"What 'bout when dis is over? You goin' for it or not?"

She focused on her hands now. "I am not sure."

"Then go for it. You're entitled to a life too. Screw fate, you should try to be happy and lead your own life. Maybe dis mystery guy will make ya happy. You don't know, right? Dat's part of the fun of datin', or so I hear." The brawler placed each hand on her shoulders.

'He feels so strong, yet so gentle. Stop it, Ishtar, before you swoon.' "Are you normally this concerned for your friends or for people you've just met?" she teased.

"Both. More so here, as I got to know ya and see what made ya tick? You're a good person, Ishizu; you should get a shot of happiness and being normal. You've done more than enough for your brother." 'Téa, if only you could hear me now.' He nearly had her in an embrace.

"I could easily say the same for you. You're a strong man, Joey Wheeler, but gentle. A rarity," she said, earnestly.

"Oh, there are better guys out there. Besides, I wouldn't know what I'd want in a girl anyway," he scoffed.

Ishizu's muscles relaxed against his hands. "Have you ever thought about it?"

"With all the Duelin' going on? No."

"If you had to take a guess?"

He rolled his eyes again. "Okay. Sure. I guess…I'd like a girl who knows herself, knows what she wants without the games or drama, someone who isn't interested at lookin' at herself in the mirror and who has been through a lot. No one fresh from the cornfield, you'd say. I don't know. You?"

She deliberated for a moment. "I suppose having a simple man who is strong and gentle, open-minded, particularly with my work, with strong senses of family values and convictions wouldn't hurt me or my prophesizing any."

"You'll find dat guy one day, Ishizu. When all dis craziness stops and get your life back," he beamed in his usual empathetic comportment.

Her gaze perforated though him. "Maybe I already have. You certainly take your time grasping the hint, don't you?" She leaned forward and kissed Joey. It wasn't a probing kiss but a malleable kiss. She felt his sheer strength and his warmth while he experienced a sensation unlike any other with her depth, her tranquility, and grace, all nestled within the impulse.

She pulled away and gawped into his mahogany eyes. "Ishizu, I…"

"Yes, you were the one in my vision. I even thought about resisting but as we talked, the more I got to know you, the more…it felt right to me."

He was paralyzed in reality now. "Yeah…, ya think this is fate?"

"I didn't have to go out to the observation deck, just as you didn't have to go to Mai's room."

'Mai…' "Ya got me there but I…really don't know what to…"

"I don't know either. I'd like to continue but it's late and you need your sleep." She finally eyed the clock. "I'll be here tomorrow while we wait for the Finals, in addition to waiting for our arrival to Kaiba Corp Island," she commanded as she steered him out of the room.

"Yeah…" For once in his life, the loquacious Joey Wheeler was speechless.



"Maybe I should have waited to make the kiss given tomorrow but beyond that, I don't have regrets. I hope you don't have them," Ishizu stated in her authoritative tenor.

"Well, once again, ya gave me a lot to think 'bout. I don't know if I'll sleep after dat," he attempted to whip out a joke.

"I think with what's on the line, you'll manage," she revisited her portentous mind-set.

"You're getting 'mystery girl' on me again, Ishizu."

"It will pass. See you tomorrow." She shut the door. The two loitered on each side of the door for a few minutes before departing to their respective beds. Ishizu glimpsed at the porthole.

'The hardest part will be dealing with Marik but Joey has proven he can forgive him. Maybe this can work after all. I wonder if I'll make a mistake or rushed myself with this, but…it was time I needed to indulge and surrender to my impulses. And from what I gathered, so does he.'

The reformatted bully trudged to his room and laid down on the floor, rather than be on the bed and get Tristan cuddling up next to him again. He still sensed her taste on his lips.

'Does dis mean I go easy on her brother? Was dat her game? No, she's honest or she wouldn't have told me all dat, right? Right? But then, she's done alright by Yug; I can't forget dat. I got to admit—she does rather fill up the list she made me think 'bout before. Maybe it could work.

'Guess I'll have a long day tomorrow, no matter what happens. I'll tell Yug and Serenity later on and everyone else after Marik's beatdown and go from there. I have to say, I like Ishizu and I really enjoyed her company tonight but I have a promise to keep first. With the chat and the kiss, I think dat was the best time I ever had with a girl. A girl I didn't really know until tonight. Ignoring the fact she lives in a tomb and her brother is a psycho, it was a nice…date?'

'Them mystery girls. Guess I'll be up for a while.' Joey traced his lips, feeling her depth and quietude underlined by a passion unbeknownst to him.

The runner-up to Duelist Kingdom hardly slept a wink.


I enjoyed getting back into the fandom and these characters' heads and plan to work more Yu-Gi-Oh fics in the future, depending on reaction here. Leave a review if you wish and see you in the funny papers.