Shadow: What can I possibly say here? Oh, forget it; I'll rant at the end. This is the last chapter, so enjoy! (Yes, I know it's late…)
Warnings: Shonen-ai pairings (boy x boy) - mostly Prideshipping (YY x SK) but with hints of Darkshipping (YY x YB).Angst, and character death.
Disclaimer: What I do have I keep losing, so I try not to have anything in the first place. Then I can't lose it. (smiles)
Flashbacks and other thoughts are in italics.
Thoughts that take place in italic sections are in bold italics.
Both sides of the border
Love is the greatest magic of them all…
Borders are such strange things.
They separate here from there, nowhere from somewhere, everything from nothing in the crossing of an invisible line. Reality, conception…all can be easily abandoned by crossing a border, moving to a place where a different power holds sway. Rules, ideals…society itself, everything you know and love and hold dear…what can they possibly mean in a place where they no longer exist? You are no longer where you were, and what was one law to you is now casual disregard. Forgotten. Useless.
But people cross borders all the time, without realising it. There is a line between waking and sleeping, between normalcy and despair. Everything is neatly packaged up into spaces and amounts for mortal minds to make sense of from natural confusion. All so poor fools can stake claim to much more than they could ever possibly deserve.
Borders are everywhere. Dark, light; day, night…everywhere. Lost in finding themselves people always seem to forget one thing. Borders…be they big or small, between giant continents or just small dividers between plots in a garden, insignificant or important…there is one thing people always tend to forget in their fuss.
There are two sides to every border.
The sun shone brightly into the room through haphazardly-closed curtains, slanted rays cutting across the dim shadows and lazily sprawling themselves across the sleeping face of Mokuba Kaiba. The teenager's eyelashes fluttered at the light's audacity, blue-grey eyes opening slowly to glance around his bedroom, bemused.
And then Mokuba promptly let out a hiss, and dived back under his duvet. A grouchy 'Aw man' made itself known through the layers of cloth. After a few seconds the duvet was hesitantly removed, this time sensitive irises prepared for the sudden change of light.
"What time is it…?"
A glance at the clock on his bedside cabinet answered Mokuba's question, red numbers gleaming almost mockingly at the black-haired teen.
Nine o' clock… The heir to the Kaiba empire inwardly groaned. And it's a Saturday! Aggrieved, he slid out of bed, quickly burying his toes in the thick carpet covering the floor to ward off the chill morning air. A quick wash, dress, and a brush of the hair and he was ready, padding downstairs to the kitchen for food.
He couldn't be bothered with cereal, but he insisted upon orange juice. Pulling open the fridge and grabbing the last carton he poured himself a healthy amount out into a glass, putting the carton back and bopping the fridge shut with his elbow.
Only to halt, wide-eyed, staring at the calendar that he'd placed there on the door that January, the date glaring out off the paper at him.
November 1st – the Feast of All Saints.
The day after Halloween. Oh, how could he have forgotten?
The orange was quickly abandoned on the bench, Mokuba racing out of the kitchen and up the stairs to his guardian's room two steps at a time. He flung the door open, wood crashing off plaster so hard the teen was sure he had probably damaged the wall.
The room was empty.
"So…how did you get Seto to agree to this again?"
Yami was casually striding off down the path between the mansion and the lake, picnic basket tucked neatly into the crook of his arm and Mokuba – armed with a blanket – at his side.
"A mixture of bribery and blackmail."
"…Do I even want to know?"
Yami grinned, spreading the blanket out on the grass. "I'm sure you're capable of guessing anyway."
Mokuba pulled a face. "I was right. I definitely don't want to know."
His companion laughed, standing up and stretching. "Let me see…we have the blanket, the basket, the cups, you, me…all that's missing is your brother!" Raising his voice he yelled: "Seto!" The named brunette came into view-
Only to stop dead when met with two exasperated gazes.
"The laptop, nii-san." Mokuba crossed his arms, fixing a steely glare on the piece of equipment his sibling held.
"I brought it out to do some work on while-"
"No." This was Yami. "We are going to have a nice, work-free picnic Seto Kaiba, here, outside. The laptop stays inside. Agreed?"
"…Fine." With a sigh Kaiba relinquished his laptop to Mokuba, who promptly ran off to take it back to its home in the mansion.
Yami took his boyfriend's hand, gently leading him over to the blanket and sitting down. "You work hard enough during the week, mery-i. Take the time to relax during your time off at the weekends; let your employees do their jobs. Is that not what you pay them to do?"
"I pay them to work for me Yami." At the other's touch Kaiba lay back, lying his head in his lover's lap. "If I am not there, who do they work for?"
Tanned hands threaded through chocolate strands, a slow massage to the skull. "You need not always be there in person for them to work for you, Seto. Your employees more so than anyone else's, I believe. They live in constant fear you will show up out of the blue and fire the on the spot."
Sapphire eyes slipped closed. "I accept only excellence."
"Excellence is all well and good koibito…" Yami smiled softly, "but you must remember we are but mortal men. Everyone stumbles now and then, even the most excellent of us."
"Then I am truly the luckiest of us all." Startling Yami, Kaiba sat upright.
"Indeed?" The pharaoh blinked.
"Indeed." Kaiba's expression was the warmest the former spirit had ever seen it as he took his lover's hand. "For when I stumble, you are always there to catch me before I fall. Excellence comes and excellence goes, and its shine often blinds me to what is truly important. For, when the day is done and darkness falls excellence fades, but you are still with me. You are my constant, Yami, and I love you more than I can ever say."
Yami blushed, but smiled.
This had been the room Yami and Seto had shared.
With a sigh Mokuba crossed the room, stopping at the window and looking out at the autumn sunshine. He could see nearly all the grounds from his position, and a bird sang to him as he stood there, the feathered creature full of joy at the new morning. Laughter and love hung in the air.
Mokuba could almost see his brother standing in front of his wardrobe, grumbling as norm as Yami cheerfully batted his lover's hands away and adjusted the brunette's tie. Seto hadn't really ever minded his boyfriend's attentions, but the complaints had become part of the daily morning routine. Mokuba could still remember the bickering the two insisted on, and the sweet kiss goodbye it always ended in as Seto headed off to KaibaCorp, Yami to whatever whim possessed him that day.
Then there were the evenings he'd came in to find both lovers just standing at the window, watching the sun go down. It was always a cosy picture, and though Mokuba had known neither Yami nor Seto would've sent him away he left anyway, unwilling to intrude on the comfortable scene.
Seto had Yami had been so content.
Blue-grey eyes glanced away from the outside world, slow steps taking him past the bed which had so obviously not been slept in the night before, to the dark wood of the dresser on the far side of the room. Half of the bureau lay noticeably empty, cleared of everything that had once been there save two, faded masks that had been carelessly left. Pure white was twined with black, a few stars on the midnight cloth just visible under months of neglect.
The lonely masks were a stark reminder of how things had changed.
Lost, crumpled and discarded, they lay where idle hands ha dropped them, gathering dust in a deliberately abandoned place. Memories lay upon them thick as dirt, pain collected in every crease, visible with every dull glitter from a worn sequin.
Mokuba couldn't bear to touch them either.
It was nice to come in to a house that felt like home.
Mokuba couldn't help the smile that graced his lips as he slid through the front door of the mansion he lived in with older brother and, more recently, brother's lover. Yami had been living with them for roughly seven months, and already he'd worked wonders the youngest Kaiba sibling had thought impossible.
Seto came home far, far more often than he'd used to, and worked shorter hours. Seto smiled more, and was willing to actually relax when he came home from work. A bit of combined coaxing on Yami and Mokuba's behalf had led to the younger receiving more trust, and some of Seto's blatant over-protectiveness had ebbed slightly. But, really, the biggest change Yami had made was making the Kaiba mansion a home.
The place seemed brighter now the former pharaoh lived there, cheerful conversation between all who lived and worked under its roof not uncommon. On a friendly basis with all the staff it was not rare to find Yami assisting around the mansion and grounds, amiably discussing the weather and other whatnot with anyone regardless of position and status. There was Yami and Seto, bickering over who would do the chores on the maid's day off, and there was all three of them happily camped out in front of the television, stuffing their faces with popcorn while watching a movie. Just general, family things. Wonderful, warm and hopeless, something none of them had realised was missing until Yami had brought it.
Mokuba hung his coat up on a nearby hook, sniffing the air interestedly as he wandered along the mansion hallway to its source. He'd been out at a friend's all day, playing games, it was evening and now he was starving.
Yami had went out earlier with Yugi-tachi, and Mokuba wasn't really sure whether the crimson-eyed spirit was home yet, so calling for his brother seemed the best option. The teen's stomach rumbled, and the smell of…spaghetti bolognaise – that was it – was only making him hungrier.
"Hey, nii-san. Are you home?" Drawing closer to the kitchen (where the smell was coming from) Mokuba could hear the sound of humming, and the smile that had previously found its way onto the black-haired youth's face quickly changed to a grin. Then, the humming stopped, and there was the sound of the fridge being opened and shut. The pop of a cork. A gasp, and then the sound of glass smashing.
"Seto!" Mokuba ran the last few steps to the kitchen, flinging open the room's door with less than his usual lack of skill.
There was red liquid all over the floor, and Seto was on his knees, clutching his chest in agony. A wave of panic raced through Mokuba, only a few bare scraps of it relieved when he realised the scarlet fluid was actually wine (the bottle sitting on the table gave that away), and not blood like he had originally thought.
But Seto was still in pain…
"Nii-san!" Worried hands touched Kaiba's shoulder, trying to attract the CEO's attention. "What's wrong?"
"Mokuba…?" Glazed blue eyes opened to look at the teen, Kaiba's face a horrible grimace. "Ah…" Eyes were screwed shut once more, Mokuba could almost see another wave of pain ripple down his brother's spine. And then…it stopped.
Kaiba shakily stood, breathing heavily. The broken glass glinted under the kitchen lights that seemed suddenly too harsh, too bright.
"I'm fine, Mokuba." Cold, chilling words that whipped across the youngest boy's soul.
Mokuba flinched, having not heard that note in his brother's voice for a long while. "Seto…you looked like you were having a heart attack."
Kaiba began to clear up the glass on the floor. "Nonsense."
"We should call the doctor."
"No Mokuba!" The wine was mopped up, the acrid smell beginning to sting at the back of Mokuba's throat. "It was just heartburn. It took me by surprise and I dropped my glass. That's it. Now, turn the food down for me please."
Obediently, Mokuba did as he was told. "Can I at least phone Yami?"
Annoyed, Seto looked up. "What on earth for?"
"He'd want to know."
"All I did was drop a glass!"
The phone rang.
Frowning, Kaiba got to his feet, shooting a pointed glance at his brother before stalking over to the wall phone and picking up the handset.
"Kaiba residence. To whom may I be…" Words trailed away.
Mokuba could only stare, curious, as his older brother's face suddenly drained of all colour, hand wrapped so tightly around the telephone receiver his knuckles were white, and it looked as if the brittle plastic would snap.
An eternity of wondering.
"I'll be right there."
Blue eyes, dazed, looked down into blue-grey.
"We're going to the hospital."
He left the door open on his way out of the room, trailing one hand down the wall as he went along the corridor and descended the stairs. From there it was barely a few minutes walk to get outside, the chill air wrapping around his form even while the weak sun tried to warm him.
Leaves batted his face and caught themselves in Mokuba's hair as he walked, cold hands irritably tugging them out and casting them once more to the breeze that had placed them there in the first place. The black-haired teen began to regret leaving his coat in the house when he shivered, wrapping his arms around himself as he slipped between red-gold and yellow-clad trees. The lake glimmered at him in the morning light as soon as it came into view, the blue waters rippling with faint currents that were fed by bubbling streams. When he was younger Mokuba had once traced the lake's feeder brook, and followed its winding path all throughout the grounds. He'd fallen in, and caught a chill. Seto hadn't been very happy with him… He looked away from the lake; it was not his reason for coming outside.
The white marker was easy to spot in the morning sunlight, but there was nobody around. Frown tugging at his lips Mokuba approached it, glancing bemused at the smoking candle at the stone's side whose sweet smell twined with the natural scents of earth and growth.
'Someone's just been here…'
So how come no-one was around?
Sighing, Mokuba knelt, carefully avoiding the thorns of the red rose bush that had been planted at the marker's side. The ground around the bush had been cleared of all fallen petals, and the stone itself carefully looked after by loving hands. Gold words glittered at him, deeply etched into smooth marble.
A loving voice.
A living voice, and the two were so hopelessly intertwined Mokuba knew the living and the dead both might as well have possessed the same soul. For they felt each other's pain.
"Mokuba." A light hand touched his shoulder. "What are you doing up so early?"
A wry smile touched the named youth's lips, Mokuba twisting to look at the owner of the hand. "What are you doing up so late?"
Kaiba bit his lip, blue eyes suddenly dark with emotion. His voice was soft.
"Last night was Halloween."
Seto Kaiba was trapped in a nightmare he couldn't wake up from.
It had started with the phone call. And then there had been the drive. And then they had reached the hospital and everything had been one downward spiral of events that just kept on getting worse.
On hearing the news Mokuba had promptly burst into tears.
Kaiba hadn't really been paying any attention, drifting aimlessly away from the gathered Yugi-tachi, intent on one thing and one thing alone. Doctors hastily moved out of his path, a stubborn one that refused to leave babbling on about 'conditions' and 'rules'.
As if Kaiba could care.
A sharp glare sent the man scurrying, and the 'eep' he let out as he ran was enough to warn off the other fools that might have attempted to stop him.
Two words glared in his consciousness, his focus in a world that kept shifting constantly under his feet.
And the cold glass touched his face as he looked in, and he felt the shredded remains of his heart tear in two once more.
Another annoying doctor was at his side.
"Sir, please, perhaps we could-"
"Get away from me!"
Another annoying doctor was heading for the hills.
A few stares were shot his way, but when blue eyes met theirs defiantly they turned away. Grief changed mortals. Yugi looked up at him. Yugi, who was looking after Mokuba…
Kaiba was grateful to him.
Tears were caught in amethyst eyes, unwilling to fall.
Because Yugi was still looking after Mokuba, when he was in pain himself…
Kaiba shook his head softly, a silent message for his lover's hikari not to worry about him as well. Yugi had enough on his plate.
They all did.
The room beyond called to him, yet the door between kept him away. A small oval was his only view, a glass divide that mocked his inability to pass.
Doctors worked furiously inside the theatre, blue-wrapped men and woman that worked quickly, blank faces obscured by sterile masks. They were mimes, acting in some grotesque play, mindless robots, one and the same.
Yami lay on the bed at the centre of their mass, unconscious. Ruby eyes were shut, unable to rival the red of the blood that still bled profusely from the terrible gashes that covered the former pharaoh's body. Yami was littered in cuts, one slicing across his fair face from jaw to forehead, slicing open the soft skin of the spirit's cheek. Another wound cut the other's chest and waist, and it was this the surgeons worked on.
Yami had lost so much blood…
"Please…" Kaiba didn't know to whom he was praying, but he did it with all his strength. He loved Yami, Kami-sama, he loved Yami with all his heart, mind, body and soul. There was no part of him that did not belong completely to the pharaoh, and he would give anything – anything – to have his beautiful lover safe in his arms once more. Protected. Well.
A hand touched him on the arm, and Kaiba stared at Bakura, blinking back tears he hadn't even realised were there.
Bakura's voice was soft, the thief gently removing his hand. "…Can I stand here with you?"
Kaiba couldn't care anymore. All his attentions were lost on Yami.
"…Do what you will."
Yami was lost amidst a tangle of wires and machines, caught in a spider's web of modern technology.
That was wrong.
The only technology Yami loved was Kaiba's, and so he should only be caught in such.
Not trussed up in alien technology waiting to-
Breath caught in Kaiba's throat, hands clenching at the unbidden thought. No, Yami couldn't-
He loved him!
Yami was beautiful, and kind and wonderful, and the pharaoh smiled at him. He was one of the few rare creatures under the sun who dared to treat Kaiba as a human, and one of the extreme few who were allowed to do as such. Yami had mellowed Kaiba's heart, and Kaiba loved him without reason.
Who needed reason, where the King of Games was concerned?
He wanted to marry him….
He couldn't bear the thought of their future being anything otherwise. Hadn't time toyed with their hearts long enough?!
The heart monitor stopped.
A rustle of cloth, the wind shifting as Mokuba flung himself on his brother, burying his face in the soft wool of Seto's black jumper, tears suddenly pouring down his cheeks.
Darkly shadowed eyes watched him silently for a few moments, before strong arms wrapped around Mokuba. Holding him.
Mokuba was incapable of words.
Kaiba was incapable of feeling warm again.
Cry me an ocean until I feel no more…
The wind picked up, leaves dancing around the two brothers.
Blue eyes closed, pain-filled depths hidden away from the world, nature crooning a soft song to aching hearts.
Sing me a lullaby to sing me safe home…
The breeze was almost playful, blowing strands of brown hair across Kaiba's face.
"Catch me if you can?"
Yami batted the surprised CEO on the nose, up and running before his boyfriend could gather his scattered wits.
"Seto!" Yami stood a good distance away, laughing at the bemused look on the brunette's face. "Catch me if you can!"
A memory, now nothing more.
"Catch me if you can!"
His soul hurt.
He couldn't catch up.
"I think he likes you…"
The silence was deep and dark and all-encompassing, and the shadows that cloaked the sky kept the world in perpetual limbo – eternal night.
Yami had not moved.
The former pharaoh could have been hewn from stone, his only movement that caused by the wind as it tugged at his clothes and hair, the breeze vainly trying to coax a reaction from a face set in marble. Ruby eyes were shadowed, impossible to make out and see.
Bakura sighed, reaching out with one hand and caressing the other's cheek lightly. "I'm sorry."
Golden bangs tickled his skin, the breeze moving the glowing strands. Chilled skin remained impassive, Yami's cheek ice cold to the touch and cursed never to warm.
Not a word. Not a sound, the once-vibrant King of Games utterly silent.
"A mask upon a mask…" Slender fingers traced the outline of his face, soft pads grazing his lips slightly before dropping away, "a conundrum."
Seto Kaiba hated death.
He hated loss and suffering, and he hated the pain that he felt when someone he loved dearly was torn brutally away from him. Death had taken his life from him, over and over again. Death had taken his mother. Death had taken his father. Death had left Mokuba and him orphans, thrown on the mercy of the world.
Death had taken Yami.
Beautiful, sweet, feisty Yami. Seto's multicoloured whirl of madness that he'd fallen deeply, irrevocably in love with. Who didn't love the ex-pharaoh? He was smart and charismatic, both utterly charming and sexy as hell when he smirked his special smirk. Stubborn enough to pose a challenge and worthy enough a prize to win, Kaiba had been over the moon when Yami had started dating him, even more so when the bright youth had agreed to move in with him.
And then, earlier that year, barely a few days before Midsummer, death had stolen Yami away.
Seto snorted. "Those words should never been in the same paragraph never mind the same sentence."
"Just because you-mm…"
Yami's words were cut short, mouth covered by Kaiba's in a hard kiss. They broke for air, breathless.
"Mmm…" Lashes flickered open, Yami's lips still curved in a smile. "What was that for, Seto Kaiba?"
"I felt like it." Kaiba's expression was languid.
"How utterly selfish of you." Ruby eyes gleamed with amusement. "What if I didn't want that kiss?"
His lover smirked, pulling him closer again. "Then, please, permit me to take my gift back…"
"Nooo…." Laughing, Yami wriggled out the brunette's grasp, patting the other lightly on the cheek. "I'm going out, remember?"
It had been a perfectly usual day, normal in all regards, Kaiba partway through a week off he'd agreed to after much coaxing on his lover's and brother's behalves. Mokuba was off out to a friend's and Yami was going out with his friends; Kaiba was staying at home trying to catch up on a few documents he'd fallen behind on. Yami had kissed him goodbye as normal, and then he had been gone.
A lot had happened that day, and he saw only the beginning and the end of it.
Dark, rich earth was obvious to all, a few averting their heads, crystal tears falling from eyes unable to see the gaping maw that was slowly devouring the white casket being lowered into it. A few stray roses, becoming unattached from perfect wreaths laid upon the case fluttered downwards into the darkness, the blood-red of their petals looking all too much like blood on freshly fallen snow.
The fifth and final rose he'd kept close to his heart, constantly pricked by the sharp barbs upon its stem.
On the third day he buried it.
"Yami…please." A small note of worry crept into Bakura's voice, fear at the lack of reaction from Yami.
Dulled eyes looked his way, a child's lost gaze in a spirit ancient as days. "…Why do I even bother…?"
"Because you love him." Bakura sighed inwardly, moving around to cup the other's face with his hands. "You'll always love him."
"Then tell me how to stop loving." Yami's voice was low. "Tell me how to tear my heart out of my chest just to rid myself of the love I feel."
"Oh Yami…" Bakura couldn't stand the pain on the other's face. "You never stop loving. However much you are scorned, hated, separated by the gods themselves…no power under the sun can make you stop loving someone."
"You must trust." The former thief's words were simple. "You must trust that one day you will meet again, and the love you have will grow stronger. Hearts cross many times over millennia; Atemu; yours and Seto's are surely destined to cross many, many more before Time is done. No parting is forever, and one day even forever will fade, and you will be with him forevermore."
A brightly coloured box was dangled in front of his face. Slightly apprehensive Yami took it, though not before shooting a curious look at his lover from under his lashes. Kaiba merely smiled his smile and leant his head on the other's shoulder, warm breath tickling the former pharaoh's skin and sending his golden bangs dancing.
Ribbons were quickly undone, and paper carefully removed – exposing a small, velvet box. Inside lay a necklace – a platinum cartouche hung on a delicate chain. In some respects it looked a lot like the one Tea had first given Yami when he had first been searching for his true name – but on closer inspection it was so, so different. True, 'Atemu' was inscribed upon the metal in fine hieroglyphics, but on turning the platinum around the name 'Seth' too was revealed, carved with the same care in the same tongue. Both were intertwined by the etching of a rope tied in a loop – the symbol of forevermore.
The pain he'd felt in his chest had been Seto's first clue.
It had felt as through someone was wrenching his heart out from his chest in front of his very eyes, squeezing his lungs up and tearing them to bloody shreds with a blunt knife. He had been unable to think, unable to breathe-
But the pain had been more than just physical.
Kaiba's soul had been in torment, feeling agony after eternal agony as he wept internally as invisible knives dug into his very being.
Mokuba had arrived and the pain had faded to a dull, glassy roar, a deep ache that started somewhere inside of him and refused to stop. And the phone had rang, and a distraught Yugi was calling him to the hospital, and the end of the dream he'd lived in for seven months.
"Seto-" The ruby-eyed spirit tilted his head slightly, locking gazes with his boyfriend. "Seto Kaiba…I love you."
Yami had been out with his friends. He'd left, heading home – apparently Bakura had followed him part of the way. The two former spirits had spoken, and a distracted Yami had walked off and died.
Yami lay under the tree, lithe body languidly sprawled out on a carpet of rose-coloured petals. The former pharaoh seemed to be sleeping, the shade offered to him by cherry blossoms protecting him from the sun's harsh glare. A fallen book lying beside the dormant spirit suggested Yami's reason for being outside in the first place.
Yami had been distracted. The driver of the car who had hit him had been distracted. The patrons of the café whose front window was shattered when Yami was flung through were distracted. The glass had been sharp.
And the blood had been everywhere.
"It was an accident, Mokie." Amethyst eyes, once bright with laughter, were dim. "It was a horrible accident." A deep, steadying breath. "That's all."
"You speak as if you know…" Yami's voice was soft. "You speak as though you have seen what waits those who pass the final gateway – yet you have not. No living man has. How can you say such things?"
A soft smile, brown eyes tinged with more than a hint of jealousy. "He still loves you, you know."
"I have faith."
"Don't you already realise what you've done? People die for a reason!"
"…There is no reason in madness."
"Nii-san." Hands fisted themselves in Kaiba's jumper, tears eventually slowing and stopping. "Seto, were you out here all night?"
"Why?" Mokuba's voice was quiet. "What possible good did it do?"
Blue eyes regarded the youth silently for a few moments.
"…It helped me clear up some things."
"Mery-i…you know I love you, don't you?"
"And I you more." Seto's words were soft. "I always have. But Yami, this…am I dreaming?"
"If you are dreaming, I am dreaming too…"
It had helped him clear up many things.
"…You're wearing your necklace?"
Another nod. "I've never taken it off. I wore it on the day of the funeral…"
Kaiba inhaled sharply, the sound loud against Yami's ear. "Don't – Yami, never – don't speak to me of that. Talk of anything but that."
Death was hard to speak of, and Yami was a subject precious to his heart. He could speak to no-one of either, but he could feel the emotions attributed to them, share them with another.
And it had been good to have Yami in his arms again, even if it had reopened his heart to pain. And even if it had been for such a short, short while…
"He has people who love him. If you love him, let him go."
Yami had released him, condemning himself to loneliness, freeing Kaiba to return to life and Mokuba. Because Yami loved him. And Kaiba knew it then for certain, beyond all doubt, and his heart was set at rest because Yami had let him go. To grieve, to grow, and to heal.
"Seto Kaiba…I love you."
"I love you too."
And no power in existence could take that from him.
"So you followed me?"
"That's about it, yeah."
Yami frowned. "Just…why, exactly? Don't you have anything better to do than bother me?"
Bakura stared at him. "Pharaoh, you're meant to be smart. Why bother asking that?"
"Forgive me for assuming you had some sort of life…" Yami turned away, already beginning to walk off, "goodbye, Bakura."
"I want to go."
"What?" Bakura doubted his own hearing, had Yami just-?
"I want to go." Yami's words were firmer this time, a strange determination taking hold of crimson eyes and lighting them with fire. "There is nothing for me here."
"That's…great…" Bakura blinked, taken aback.
So why did it suddenly hurt?
Yami had always just…been there. Bakura had seen the accident, he'd phoned the ambulance after rushing to the café, he'd called Yugi-tachi, he and Kaiba had watched the instant Yami's spirit fled the living and crossed the border to death. Bakura had been the only one who had been able to cross that border after him, and comfort the grieving soul waiting there. The grieving soul who obstinately refused to move on.
And so Bakura had been able to alleviate his guilt of loving Yami by being there to guide him, and he'd been able to stave off the pain of loss because – technically – he hadn't lost anyone. Not completely. He could still see the one he loved. Unlike Kaiba.
'And now Yami wants to move on…'
Bakura never actually thought - the pharaoh had always ignored him before! Why was he suddenly listening now?
Yami had set out to reunite himself with Seto the night before, and succeeded. Bakura had arrived, and reminded them of reality. Kaiba had left.
Somewhere, unseen by Bakura, Yami had found some semblance of peace.
Because only a soul at rest can ever truly move on…
You in angel's watch are keeping
The two brothers knelt in front of the gravestone, the elder's hands tracing words so well-memorised they were inscribed on his heart and mind.
And though for now you've said goodbye
"Nii-san?" Mokuba chanced a question, breaking the still.
"Yes Mokuba?" Kaiba looked at his little brother.
"Seto…do you think…" the black-haired youth bit his lip, "do you think Yami is happy where he is?"
A few seconds silence, the soft sounds of morning birdsong breaking the air.
Kaiba smiled. "I am sure Yami will find happiness. He deserves it more so than any of us."
Locked in dreams, forever sleeping
"I miss him…"
"We all do."
Rocked to sleep by lullaby
Idle patterns were drawn down one arm, feather-light brushes tickling the golden skin. "You know…the origins of mask and costume-wearing lie in the old folklore that on the night of All Hallow's, evil spirits and faeries roam."
"Oh?" Yami fought to keep his expression neutral; the other's touch was sending tingles of pleasure racing throughout his entire body.
"Yes, oh." A shadowy smile was shot his way, dark eyes regarding him with an almost feline amusement. "Samhain is the night when the worlds bleed into one another, and the borders between life and death simply fall away. Costumes were worn to deceive the spirits, as it was thought the fey creatures would 'steal' a beautiful mortal they desired, and call them to death before their time…" A pregnant pause. "Make sure your costume's a good one this year, Yami."
"And why's that?" The Egyptian spirit found himself unable to move, unable to think clearly with his gaze locked by impossibly dark, dark blue.
Warm breath against his ear, the sudden heat sending shivers down his spine. "…I'm not quite willing to relinquish you to the faeries yet...though I guess I could always just steal you first…"
And when at last you finally wake
"Bakura…" This time it was Yami who was soothing, taking in the stricken expression on his companion's face. "You don't understand me, do you?"
The albino shook his head, white bangs spilling about his face. "I never have."
Then at last our time will come
"You've helped me so much here, even though I've been awful-"
"Why are you going?" The words burst out of Bakura before he could stop them, sudden anger consuming his heart. "Aren't you in love anymore?!"
A sad smile. "I'll forever be in love."
In the east the dawn shall break
"Then why must you go?" Bakura was pleading, suddenly full of shame at himself. He'd spent so long coaxing the pharaoh to leave he never thought it would ever actually happen – and now it was happening all he wanted to do was wrap his arms around Yami and refuse to let the bright youth out of his sight.
Yami understood him. The pain, the rage, the grief…hadn't he suffered it all a thousand times over while trapped in his own personal limbo? The longing…
"Kaiba let me go, Bakura." Tanned hands twined themselves with pale ones. "And I let him go in return. And I should let you go."
"Bakura, you return here again and again and again." Crimson eyes were soft. "I'm dead. You insisted I learnt to accept the fact and I have. Now it's your turn."
A choked noise. "Yami-"
"I love Seto, Bakura. I fell in love with him long, long ago, and I'll love him far, far into the future. I spoke to him last night, on the eve of All Hallows, and I know he will love me for far longer than that in return. As you said yourself, no parting is forever, however bittersweet some may be."
Bakura swallowed, but nodded. "Then have my blessing, though you have no need of it, and go."
And we will be forever home.
In a land of shadows light suddenly rose, hands dropping away from each other as Bakura fell back from Yami. The pharaoh shone, golden, form blurring as he slowly began to fade.
"Yami…" Bakura watched as the one he loved began to disappear from him. He had to say-
One slender finger was pressed against his lips, luminescent skin soft to touch.
Yami's expression was gentle. "I know."
And he was gone.
It was a bright morning, and the birds were just beginning to properly break out into song in celebration of it being such. Autumn was nearing its inevitable end, and the chill of winter was just beginning to set in, brittle leaves snapping underfoot with the crunching of the frost-laced grass.
It was the first of November that day, the feast of All Saints – the sacred day in veneration of the saints and martyrs of old who had died for their beliefs. It had been Halloween the night before, and people throughout the world had dragged out costumes and taken children to trick o' treat around the neighbourhood. They had thrown outlandish parties, worn clothes they'd never dare to on any other day, and eaten too many sweets.
In the grounds of a mansion far off in Japan two brothers sat in front of a white gravestone beside a lake, the tree above them shedding leaves for the breeze to deposit in their hair. It was a pretty scene, and memories of the year before surrounded the place with quiet love.
Slowly, the eldest of the two brothers stood, the youngest quickly scrambling up so as not to be left behind. A soft smile from the eldest showed amusement, and the youngest blushed in reply. Such was their bond.
Blue eyes were soft as they read the marker one last time, and then the eldest turned away, a quiet 'c'mon' calling his younger brother after him. The two headed away from the lake, through the trees, back to their family home and breakfast. There would be other days, there would always be the same love, and there would forevermore be the marker beneath the tree.
Behind them, simple words glittered in the morning sun.
Requiescat Im Pace
Shadow: Personally, I think this has got to be my favourite ever update I've ever updated. Or…at least the beginning is. It fell to mush somewhat near the end. Originally, Yami was going to just die in a car crash, plain and simple. Then I started looking around f f. net, and I discovered nigh everyone dies in a car crash. Hence much panic as I attempted to find some other way for him to die. (sweatdrops) I ended up compromising… Oh, I'm so probably gonna end up doing a re-write.
Okay…I want you people to be honest. How many of you did I actually surprise with the ending? Or at least cause to reach for a tissue? Humour me, please.
Thank you all for reading this far. Even if you don't review, I'm flattered you read up to the end. Since you got here, one last review for the authoress? Tell her how good/bad/awful the fanfic was and how she should never write any more again. (smiles) Now I'm gonna go wander off and attempt to catch up on the other fanfics and coursework I should've been doing instead of writing this…
Thank you all!