Disclaimer: I don't own them. Even if I did, I'd wonder about Miho. What was with her omission from the Duel Monsters anime anyway?
Author's Note: Just following up "So Sayeth the Oracle" in a different way, but it isn't a sequel. My final fic before I hit number 50. See Oracle for the ground rules of dub vs. sub and once again, special thanks to Mer Girl for helping Joey's accent. Edit: his lines are now re-edited with the proper lines, rejoice.
Beta: PureSakuraMelody. One day I must write a Kaiba fic for her. One day.
Timeline: In between Looking Back and Moving Ahead and A New Evil or for the Japanese, Signs and A New Dark Turmoil.
"Come on, Joey!" Yugi's adorable voice chimed as he dragged Joey by his arm to the Domino Museum. He nearly ripped the sleeve of his friend's school uniform off.
"What's the rush, Yug? I thought we'd all go to the museum together tomorrow to unlock the Pharaoh's memory," Yugi's lofty blonde best friend Joey Wheeler groaned on as they approached a crossroads. He pressed the walk sign button and slung his briefcase over his shoulder.
"I know, but I wanted to appreciate the exhibit that gave us the answers about the Pharaoh with our now free time, before we jump into who-knows-what next."
Joey recollected the perdition they had to endure in order to achieve that lull. "I got ya, but why couldn' ya do it yourself or at least get the rest of the gang to come with?"
The King of Games paused while he mulled over his response. "I think it's something I need to do myself." It was then his companion noticed the absence of the Millennium Puzzle.
"I asked you, because I trust you the most and I thought you'd appreciate the exhibits as well. Besides, I really want to make up for never taking you here," he stated with a measure of guilt.
Joey ruffled Yugi's head. "Thanks, Yug. I'm sure I'll love it."
The crosswalk sign switched to "walk" for the pair to cross.
After paying their admittance fees, the boys entered the museum. "Yug, before we see the exhibit, how come ya don't have the Millennium Puzzle on ya?" Joey inquired.
"I think I just needed to see this for myself and draw my own conclusions. Yami understood that and tomorrow is his day anyway. So I closed myself off from him today, and you said you were free, so I figured two birds with one stone."
Despite the bonding he has done with Yugi, the former bully could never understand the dichotomy between Yugi and the Pharaoh. In the early days in Duelist Kingdom and the unlocking of the Millennium Puzzle, he often wondered if his friend was simply a tad schizophrenic and the Pharaoh was an alterative identity. However, after the first confrontation with Yami Bakura, the evidence proved otherwise. Despite that, he occasionally found the dual identity theme difficult to fathom.
"I gotcha. Well, I'm happy to be here."
"Well, I'm happy to have you here." Yugi grinned.
They shared a smile before they advanced to the Egyptian exhibit hall.
"I wonder if Ishizu will be here," Yugi remarked.
"Ishizu? You mean Marik's sister, Ishizu?" Joey gasped in surprise. Even though he made his peace with the Ishtar family, the agony he received from being in the crosshairs of Marik's bloodlust for the Pharaoh lingered on.
"Of course. Do you know any other Ishizus?"
"No." The brawler shuffled his feet.
"Do you have a problem with her?"
"No, but I haven' exactly warmed up to her either, Yug."
"Did you have a chance to?"
The runner up to Duelist Kingdom sighed. "No."
"Maybe you will yet. Come on." The diminutive boy nudged his friend down the stairs to the exhibit. Joey swore he had a shrewd look about him.
They went inside the hall, with many Egyptian artifacts abound. Yugi ventured to the monolith featuring the Pharaoh and his high priest, Seto and their climatic battle.
"Here, Joey. This is what I wanted you to see."
The blonde Duelist double blinked. "Whoa. It's you and…Kaiba?"
"Yes, it's the Pharaoh and Kaiba back in Ancient Egypt. They would be reincarnated into Yami and the Kaiba we know today."
"I hope the Kaiba of the past wasn' as much of a jerk as our present day one," Joey quipped.
"Who knows? Although, I sense that the Pharaoh was the same then as he is now."
"That's one good thing anyway. Looks like they're Duelin'—if that Kaiba has the track record as ours, I don't need to guess the winner," he sneered.
"No one knows actually. That damaged part—Ishizu said that's where the winner's name supposed to be." Yugi pointed to the scratched part of the slab.
"All I know is it had something to do with the Egyptian God Cards." The winner of Battle City recalled the vision of ancient Egypt he and Kaiba shared during their colossal showdown.
"Wit all the trouble we went through because of them, makes ya wonder if these cards are worth it."
"Indeed, Joey. Many who coveted the Egyptian Gods often thought the same as woe was begotten to each of them." A familiar female voice encroached through the schoolboys' conversation.
"Ishizu," Yugi confirmed, as he was ready to leap into her arms. The female diviner was dressed in a simple taupe robe—her standard casual attire.
"Hey, Ishizu," Joey commented from a distance.
"Greetings, my friends."
"I was hoping you would be here today," Yugi chirped.
"Yes, today is my last day here in Domino. Now with my brother free of the darkness, my role here is complete," Ishizu pronounced in her histrionic delivery.
"So ya goin' home to Egypt?" the flaxen-haired pugilist queried.
"Tomorrow, yes. Today, I thought I'd take the chance to partake myself in the sights and sounds of this city. You two live in quite the technological marvel."
"We just call it home," he snickered.
"So, Ishizu, are Marik and Odion with you?" Yugi questioned. Joey tried his best to conceal his obvious apprehension.
"No, they are home now. This is strictly for me."
"I'm sure they're quite happy to be home," he stated, while his towering friend relaxed.
"I'm sure you all are, too." Ishizu noted the blonde's anxiety.
"Yeah, well, all wild rides have to end some time." Joey felt her eyes on him.
"Are you going to take the artifacts with you? Because tomorrow, we were finally going to unlock the Pharaoh's memory," the petite Duelist asked the once soothsayer, sounding rather worried.
"No, it is all donated to the Domino Museum, in case you and the Pharaoh wanted to take your time. Fate does have a flow, but its currents have differing speeds."
"Yeah. Yug, you go 'head and look at the stone, while I go look at these artifacts." Joey distanced himself from the group and journeyed off to the far end of the hall.
"I shall speak to him." She sauntered after him. The fuchsia haired child shook his head and turned to the monolith for his own reflections.
Joey admired a golden plate with a scarab design, afraid to cock his head back there and realize his apparent shame.
"Interesting choice. The scarab beetle is a symbol of eternal life," Ishizu elaborated as she approached him.
The Duelist's face altered to a crimson hue. "Yeah. I thought it looked cool." He then admonished himself for his word choice.
"Cool indeed." Her eyes punctured through him.
"Yeah, and I'm…sorry I freaked out on ya. You didn' deserve that," he replied apologetically.
"Apology accepted," the seer returned in a cold tenor.
"Right. I like the exhibit." His eyes shifted back to the relic.
She raised an eyebrow. "Really?"
"Yeah, I know Yug, the Pharaoh, and even that rich boy, Kaiba, have a lot connected to it—I just never had the time to explore it all."
"You believe in the struggle of the nameless Pharaoh and Seto and their reincarnations?" Her pitch swung from distance to intrigue.
"I guess I do—bein' wit Yug has rather opened my eyes to things I can't explain away so easily. Besides, you must be on to something if Kaiba is so determined to not believe ya."
Her attitude perked up. "And yet he rejects Fate and all that embodies it."
"Eh, that's just his arrogance talkin'. Maybe he'll finally learn something after Yug kicked his butt…for the umpteenth millionth time," he smirked.
"One can hope. He seems rather stubborn."
He cracked another smirk. "I'd say ya got his number, although his stubbornness can be a good thing when it comes to his brother."
"I have caught their bond, yes."
Joey sucked in a breath. "And I can't hold everything 'gainst him because he at least does right by Mokuba, like I can't wit you and Marik. I'm sorry, but all the crap he's givin' us, it's hard to just drop it all just like that." Memories of his brainwashing buzzed within his head.
"Understandable. I don't expect many people to easily forgive him for his crimes," she said in a wisp of a monotone.
"And ya shouldn' blame yourself for what he did either. Ya did what ya could do, righ'?" He clasped his hand on her shoulder.
The Egyptian didn't tense up with his hand on her nor did she loosen herself from his grip. "I like to believe I could have tried harder."
"Maybe, but from what ya said of your family, ya played the cards you were dealt—'xcuse the pun."
"Thank you, Joey." She leaned on his assurance.
"Forget 'bout it. You shoulda been there in Duelist Kingdom—who woulda thought first class jerks like Kaiba and Pegasus actually had noble intentions for people they love?" he stated with astonishment.
"Indeed, including ones who aren't 'jerks'—like yourself and your sister."
Joey reddened and released her. "Well, if ya put it like that…"
"I apologize, but I also caught your bond with her as well." She summoned up memories of Serenity's empathies to her brother after his Tournament match with Marik.
"Yeah. I'd do anything for her, just as ya would the same for Marik. I guess we have something in common, don' we?" The underdog Duelist's manner improved.
"I suppose we do. Most curious, yes?"
"You bet," he sighed. "Now I'm sorry I didn' try to get to know ya more before the finals."
"I am sorry as well as perhaps I should have tried more myself. However, when the person you want to get acquainted with tells you how unsympathetic they are to your problems and vows vengeance, it's easy to distance yourself." Ishizu's gaze altered to a harsh but soft glare. "I haven't forgotten what you said after I told you and your friends about my family's past."
He suddenly felt rather uneasy. "I…"
"But I know you were justified at the time; I would have felt the same. From your apologies, you no longer feel that way, right?" Her glare softened.
"Yeah, Mai's okay and the evil side of your brother had his butt kicked, so I can't complain," he jovially barbed.
"Indeed. And it's over and here we are," she avowed with a quality of tranquility.
"Actually meeting you again has me relieved."
He drew a blank. "I'm sorry…?"
"You seem so different from everyone else—you have no link to the past, yet you quite understand it. I almost want to say refreshingly open-minded. Considering I usually get resistance with that and hence I have to resort to manipulating—such as with Kaiba. You seem to be someone I'd rather want to interact with and I'm pleasantly surprised to have you less…bitter for my brother now." A blush impinged her features.
"Well, after seein' Kaiba risk suicide one time and everything for his brother, ya can't always be bitter." He slackened his posture.
The mystic elevated her eyebrow yet again. "Suicide? You got my attention."
"It was a Duel wit him and Yug in Duelist Kingdom. His precious Ultimate Dragon was losin', so he stood by the end of this one turret and if Yug destroyed his monster, the shockwave coulda made Kaiba lose his balance and crash into the ocean. Yug held back and that gave the rich boy his chance to win," the blonde seethed in his monologue.
"I had no idea Kaiba was so…impulsive. He rather strikes me as a constantly calculating and formulating Duelist," Ishizu responded in surprise.
"I can't say if that were me, I wouldn' have thought the same, but I got more class than that," he boomed with pride.
"I can see that." A knowing grin graced her lips.
"Just like you, too. Ya played a heck of a good match against him."
They shared a slight smile. "You did as well. I witnessed your match on Kaiba Corp Island—most entertaining."
"Thanks. I aim to please." His countenance appeared flush.
"Not a problem."
Joey eyed his sneakers. "So once ya get home, what's the first thing ya gonna do?"
"Feed my scorpions," the oracle deadpanned.
His jaw plummeted to the floor. "Wha…?"
"I'm making a joke?" She savored the look on his face.
He then calmed down. "Oh. Gotcha. Funny."
"I have to work on my delivery, but to answer your question, I don't know." The medium's visage espoused a blank slate.
"Ya don't know? Ishizu, come on, after all the hard work ya did into gettin' your brother back, surely you're goin' to do something for yourself," the fair-haired teenager remarked incredulously.
"I don't know; I've never thought about it. All my life I've given myself to other people and not allowed myself to—what's the word?—indulge. I don't know if I've earned that anyway with my misuse of the Millennium Necklace," she somberly responded.
"I don't know, Ishizu—ya been through a lot trying to help your brother, I think ya earned the right to enjoy yourself every now and then." Joey faced her and gaped into her profound sapphire eyes.
"Are you normally this caring?" The enigmatic clairvoyant refused to blush.
"If I think the people are worth it, yeah, I am."
"You're a deep man, Joey Wheeler," she affirmed in her ominous tone.
"You're pretty deep yourself."
"Well, I'll consider your advice, thank you. I'm sure you don't have that problem."
His eyes flickered in bafflement. "Whadaya mean?"
"Well, you have your friends, your sister, that blonde woman you tried so hard to rescue—Mai. You have plenty to choose from."
He tittered. "Yeah, but I'm just happy to be home."
"And that's it?"
"That's it. Nothing more to it."
"How simple. I wish I had your simplicity."
Joey became cross-eyed. "Is that an insult?"
"No, actually. I've noticed the more complicated one is, the more complicated their problems can be. Believe me—I'd like to be more like you." Ishizu's eyes scanned him.
"My life isn't that rosy either: I just have to work through them like everyone else. Besides, compared to the life/death business takeovers in Kaiba's life and the mental issues with your brother, my life seems…small." The golden-haired underdog shrunk in embarrassment.
"Don't say that. Measure your life, for your participation in Battle City seemed rather epic."
He lit with cogitation. "Well, when you put it like that, yeah. Duelist Kingdom was intense, too. Are ya usually this supportive?"
"'If I think the people are worth it, yeah, I am,'" the prophet volleyed back the quote.
"Right back at ya, too, Ishizu." He genially rolled his eyes, shook his head, and chuckled. "That Yugi…"
"We talked 'bout ya before and the fact I never got 'round to talk to ya, and he said that maybe we'd catch ya today and get that chance. He planned this. I didn't know he was goin' to pull this." The Duelist was ready to crack up.
"I wasn't told of this either but I did have a sense Yugi might have shown up."
"Yeah, but I'm not sorry. It was good…to talk to ya, and…get to know ya." Joey felt humiliated by his dwindling word choices.
"I have no regrets either." She turned away from him and unleashed her slight blush.
"That's good. When do ya think you'll be back in Domino?" he solicited, his attitude sounding hopeful.
"I could return in a few months, as part of another exhibit."
"Yeah, or I could scrape some money and go to Egypt myself."
Ishizu peered into him one final time. "For two people who didn't care for the other originally, we're certainly changing our tune now, aren't we?"
"Yeah, I guess we are. I'm enjoyin' myself, what 'bout you? Finally happy ya get to 'indulge' in somethin'?"
She was about to reply when the P.A. squawked out "Attention! The museum is now closing soon. Please mind your belongings and quickly exit in a calm and orderly manner."
"I suppose I have to get goin'," he noted rather dejectedly.
"It's been fun; I'll see ya later, Ishizu. Take care of yourself and your brother better be good to ya for all the crap ya went through for him or I'll kick both his butts," Joey bolstered in his protective brotherly demeanor before walking away.
The oblique psychic had her face marred with a modicum of pensiveness. Before he was out of eyeshot, she blurted out "Joey, my flight isn't until tomorrow. Perhaps we can carry this somewhere else if the night is free for you?"
He beamed. "Yeah, I don't have much homework. I'd like that," his stomach rumbled. "Are ya hungry? Because I think a hole is formin' in my stomach."
She lightly sniggered. "A meal wouldn't hurt, no."
"Great! I know one place that makes great burgers. I'll get Yug." He nearly exploded.
"I have to close up the exhibit—I'll meet you outside." They went into separate directions before she called out to him.
"I want to tell you that yes, I am happy I'm finally indulging in 'something.'"
He only delivered quite a wide grin and then revisited his original cohort.
"Hey, Yug. You 'bout done here?"
"Yes, I am." The King of Games smiled and both were on their way out of the museum.
"I see you and Ishizu had quite a long chat." He wagged his eyebrows.
"Yeah, we did. In fact, we're goin' to continue this wit dinner." The implication sunk in for Joey as they exited the museum.
"You mean like a date?" Yugi couldn't contain himself or his ebullience.
"You planned this all along, didn't ya?"
"Well, not quite like this, but I thought it would be a good opportunity to give you both a second chance if it could happen."
"Yeah. You coming?"
"No, I am going home—I did what I had to do. Thanks, Joey. Call me when you get home and give me the details." Yugi separated himself from his comrade.
"Yug, ya so sound like Téa righ' now! I'm goin' to pay ya back for this! Just you see!"
Yugi hummed to himself and ignored his buddy's outbursts as he departed out of sight.
"Yugi isn't joining us?" Ishizu joined the ex-instigator.
"Nah. He told me of his plan and the fact it was an opportunity for a second chance for both of us."
"Shall we go?" He gesticulated to the direction of the eatery he had in mind.
"Indeed." They strolled together.
"Think we'll hava good time?" Joey mused.
"I predict we shall, given our talking in the museum and I also predict you'll pick up the tab," she declared in her soothsayer character.
"I thought ya couldn' get visions from the future anymore?" he mildly mocked.
"No, I'm just psychic," the spiritualist once again deadpanned. Joey's only reaction was guffawing all the way.
"I guess I'll have to thank Yugi for this after all," he sniggered.
"As do I. Although, I do wonder what we'll talk about as we've said enough about ourselves," she idly pondered.
"Well, we can always talk 'bout how much we don't like Kaiba. That's always a good icebreaker for me."
Her grin slowly developed into a smile. She eyeballed him with a inscrutable glance. "It's certainly going to be interesting. Most interesting indeed," she observed in her cryptic persona as she picked up the pace. He didn't think she was referring about badmouthing Kaiba but paid no never mind as they continued on their path.
Leave a review if you wish, and see you in the funny papers.