The Priestess Legacy

Chapter 18

Some Things Change, Some Don't

"So what's on da agenda tonight Yug?" Joey asked, shoveling another sandwich into his mouth. Yugi shrugged. The gang was back at school, sitting at their usual table in the cafeteria.

"Téa and I were going to go see a movie, actually." He coughed. Téa blushed slightly.

"About time." Tristan replied. "Joey and I were about to start a pool going." Téa and Yugi both rolled their eyes. It had been about a week since they had all returned from Egypt. Téa and Yugi had, as Joey put it 'become official', although they hadn't even had a single date besides the upcoming movie. Téa hadn't objected, and neither had Yugi. Téa knew what she wanted from Yugi, and he knew what he wanted from her. The two were perfectly fine with Joey's assumptions.

"I gotta go to my locker. See you in class Joey." Téa said, grabbing her backpack and leaving. The gang waving as Téa slipped out the cafeteria doors. The schoolgirl went to her locker and twisted the dial open. She stowed her lunch bag in the locker and grabbed a text book before slamming the door. Téa turned and jumped back.

"I need to talk to you." Kaiba muttered. Téa gave the teenage billionaire an odd look. She had never seen him like this. The only suitable metaphor she could think of is that he looked like a scolded puppy. He would look cute if he didn't look so…un-Kaiba.

"Where?" Téa asked. Kaiba turned and led her a short ways down the hall to an empty classroom. Téa entered, and Kaiba closed the door behind them. Téa pulled herself up to sit on the teacher's desk as Kaiba leaned against the door.

"First of all, I want to make something clear." Kaiba said, narrowing his eyes. "Everything I'm about to say is not to leave this room. Do not repeat a word of what I'm about to tell you to anyone, not Bakura, not that Rochelle loser, and especially not Yugi or Wheeler. Got it?" Téa nodded. Kaiba stared at her blankly for a moment before lowering his head and sighing.

"I can't beat Yugi."

Téa blinked a few times after that, the reality not entirely setting in. She expected a lot of things from Kaiba, but his admittance of such a thing was certainly not one of them. Before she could say anything, Kaiba kept going.

"I don't know what it is about him. Maybe he's lucky, maybe he cheats, maybe it's that lame Heart of the Cards crap you geeks are so fond of. One way or the other, Yugi's a better duelist than me, and I can't defeat him." Kaiba looked up and turned his head, staring off into space.

"I challenged him several times after that whole fiasco with the Millennium Items a year ago. Each time I lost. I ran countless computer simulations, but it didn't matter. Yugi won every time. I had trained my entire life to be the best duelist in the world, and suddenly, it hit me. I wasn't, and I wasn't going to be. I know you and Wheeler and the other one with the stupid hair all play for fun, but for me its life. And once I realized I couldn't be the champion, the game didn't matter to me anymore. That's why I hadn't dueled in over eight months." Kaiba turned and looked at Téa.

"And then you challenged me. And won. And everything fell apart again. I knew I couldn't be the best, but I knew I was still an excellent duelist. I more or less threw away all my cards, except for my Blue-Eyes. I started over, rebuilding my deck from scratch. And in doing so, I saw all the limitations of my last deck, and even now I know the limitations of this one. I lost to you, Gardner, and I vowed to take back the dignity I had lost. But in doing so, I found something else I had lost."

"I got back my drive, my fire. I knew why Yugi had defeated me time and time again over the past few years. He, and all of you, even Wheeler, kept evolving and getting stronger. I wasn't. I kept playing the same cards, the same tactics. It made sense again, my loses made sense. Dueling made sense again."

"What are you talking about?" Téa asked. Kaiba shrugged and did something Téa had almost never seen him do. Kaiba smiled.

"The time will come when I challenge you again, Gardner, and I might lose. But I don't care. I've come to understand the true nature of the duel. Duel Monsters is a constantly changing game as new cards and new strategies come to light, and a duelist that can flow with these changes will be invincible. You and Yugi are like that…and Wheeler to an extent, I suppose. Dueling is still about winning for me, make no mistake. But now I don't focus on it anymore. I know I'll defeat you someday. I'll improve and get better, and sooner or later, I'll defeat you. And after that, Yugi's next. I'll challenge you two again and again. Hell, who knows, a decade later I might still be bitter over it all, but I'll accept it. One day victory will be mine. I know it. I just have to keep trying." Téa nodded.

"So…what does this mean?" She asked.

"It means I'm not done. If anything I'm getting started once again. Today marks the start of my new career in dueling. I'm going to start it all over again. I'm going to become the best, and for once, I don't expect it to be easy. If life has taught me anything, you have to work for what you want. I just forgot that, but now I remember, and I'm prepared to work for my title. So keep practicing, Gardner. Because the next time I duel you, win or lose, I want a challenge." Téa shook her head.

"You aren't such a heartless jerk afterall." She laughed.

"Duh." Kaiba snorted. The two stood in silence for a moment.

"So…now that I know you're gunning for Yugi again, what now?" Téa asked.

"Well with Yugi, this is where I'd pull a speech about how I'm better than you and walk away trying to convince myself." Kaiba explained. Téa snorted and stifled a laugh as Kaiba turned and opened the door.

"See you around Kaiba." She called.

"See you, Téa." He called back. Téa did a double take.

"What did you call me?"

"You heard me." Kaiba snapped, walking down the hall. Téa watched him go and shook her head.

- - - - - - - - - -

"Okay, 2 to the power of 6 is…81." Joey said, scribbling down the answer on his lower arm as Tea quizzed him from his textbook. The four friends were walking home together after school.

"Joey, it's a multiple of two." Téa reminded. Joey gave her a blank look.

"Get back!" Tristan hissed, jumping back as they neared the corner. The four stood back as two people walked past, one in a black coat and the other in a school uniform.

"What's Rochelle doing talking to Bakura?" Joey whispered. Téa shushed him and leaned forward. The two stood at the crosswalk waiting for the light to change.

"You've been hanging around the losers for years, you know their dueling strategies inside and out. Plus you're a good duelist yourself, you were in Battle City!" Rochelle said. "Look, its simple. We team up, Yugi and Téa won't know what hit them!" Yugi and Téa shared a look. "Bakura and Rochelle, Fiend duelists extraordinaire! We join forces, we can take the entire dueling world by storm, nothing will be able to stop us!" Bakura gave Rochelle a blank look.

"I'm going to leave now." He said, turning and walking away. Rochelle watched him go and flipped him off.

"Asshole!" She snapped, storming across the street. Yugi and Téa let out a sigh of relief.

"What, did I miss something?" Joey asked. Yugi nodded.

"Let's just say it's a good thing not every part of the past repeats itself." Téa smiled and reached down to take Yugi's hand.

"Yeah. But lucky for us, some do." She grinned.