Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! is the creation of Kazuki Takahashi. Crystal Eyes is a film by Yuri Farrant. "Eyes Like Twins" is performed and recorded by Wilson Phillips. This is a not-for-profit fanwork and I do not own any of these characters.
Summer of '69
Ch. 13: Crystal Eyes
It started with a dull, fuzzy awareness of self and the slow realization that he was no longer floating in the realm of dreams, that he was in fact, awake. The bed was comfy though and the pillows soft, and the temperature just right thanks to the steadily humming air conditioner. It was very tempting to just go back to sleep. But something was missing…
He rolled over, seeking his lover's warmth. But his searching fingers found nothing but cool bedsheets.
There was no response.
Suddenly awake, Yami sat up, rubbing at his eyes, blearily looking around the room. The blankets on the other side of the mattress were slightly wrinkled and had been folded back. There was another empty bed located beside his with equally wrinkled sheets, and on the nightstand between the beds, there was a note from Noa and Mokuba stating that they had gone to see off some of their guests. But that didn't explain Seto's absence…
Perplexed, Yami swung his legs off the bed and slowly stood up, pushing away the sleep induced fog in his brain before staggering towards the door, which had been left open a crack.
He took a step out, still feeling much more tired than he should have due to the waning aftereffects of his energy transfer to Seto, though the sight that greeted him in the sitting room was enough to shock him awake completely.
Blue Eyes White Dragons… FOUR of them…
"Four?" Yami's question seemed to echo across the room.
Seto looked up. He was sitting in an armchair, wearing an unbelted hotel robe that had slid down to reveal a pale shoulder. His hair was disheveled, his face gaunt; he should have stayed in bed. He needed the rest. But his blue eyes shone brightly, like pools of water in a desert oasis. Despite his depleted state, he had never looked more alive.
"Yes," Seto responded softly.
Seto looked down at the Duel Disk strapped to his arm. Ever since he had woken up a scant hour ago, he had felt an inexplicable need to see his dragons. And not just the three already present in his deck, but the fourth as well, even though he knew it wouldn't activate. Even in preview mode, the Duel Disk would reject it because it was too badly damaged to read. It was probably too fragile to even withstand being handled. But… he hadn't been able to resist trying it anyway.
It had taken him several minutes to convince himself to even open the case, but in the end, his desire to see that elusive final dragon had won out over his distaste in having to face what he had done to it.
His first glimpse of it had made him queasy. There was a line of tape, grown slightly cloudy with age, obscuring the tear down the center. Seeing it had reminded him of the sound the cardstock had made as it ripped and the way the two halves of the card had fluttered to the ground. But when he had finally fought down his nausea, he noticed a portion of the tape lifting up near the edge, and that little imperfection bothered him. He had begun to pick at it, almost without thinking, then had realized that he'd better take a closer look at it before he accidentally picked off all the tape holding it together.
Carefully, he had taken the card out of its protective case to examine it. Sugoroku hadn't done a bad job of fixing it, but the tape was becoming brittle and needed to be replaced. So long as he was careful, he figured he wouldn't do any further damage by removing a few flaking bits of tape. Scraping off a bit at a time, he had been surprised to see no obvious signs of damage where he knew the tear should've been. And there was no other adhesive on it as far as he could tell. He had even held it up to the light, studying it from every angle. Baffled, he had ended up peeling off every bit of tape to reveal a card that was as solid and whole as any other in his deck. It had even activated when he had placed it on the Duel Disk! In fact, the only thing that differentiated it from the other three BEWDs was that part of the tear could still be seen on the dragon's chest, though when he ran his fingertips over it, the card's surface felt completely smooth, as if the scar was worn by the dragon itself. And stranger still, the scar was also visible on the hologram born from that same dragon, even though he knew he hadn't programmed it in…
"Seto? How did you manage to fix it?"
The brunette blinked, then looked up. Yami was standing next to him now, looking down at the four cards lined up on the field. "I didn't. Your grandfather must've…"
Yami reached down towards the card, pausing until Seto nodded and gave him permission to touch it. He stroked a fingertip gently over the image of the great beast, letting it rest on the strange "scar" on the creature's chest. "But I know he didn't. I saw it before… he had taped it together. You could still see the tear clearly. There wasn't much else he could do."
"Cards don't just repair themselves, Yami. Or are you going to tell me it's magic?"
The former Pharaoh silently considered it. He looked up at the four holograms hovering before them, each announcing its presence in its own unique way. The first three he recognized from Seto's duel against Siegfried. But the fourth… even though it had once held part of Sugoroku's soul… even though Yami himself had called him forth with his Shadow Magic… it didn't truly have life until now. Though the expression on its face was serene, there was a fiery brilliance lighting up its eyes; and even though it flew so low beneath the other three that it was nearly scraping the ground, each beat of its wings remained confident and steady. For a moment, Yami almost wondered if it was in defense mode, but it wasn't… it was just… at peace… And yet the promise of power remained in every sleek muscle, every twist and turn of its body. It was almost like looking in a mirror and seeing Seto's reflection…
"I don't know why I bothered to make a unique graphic for the fourth one," Seto was saying, his eyes also fixed on the dragons in front of him. "I mean, I knew I'd never get to see it, and yet, there it is." He sighed, his eyes flickering to Yami for a moment. "This is real, right?"
Yami smiled, lifting his hand off the card to slowly run it up Seto's arm, tugging on the sleeve until the robe slid off his other shoulder as well. He massaged the exposed skin as he leaned over and kissed the shoulder closest to him. You tell me. Does this feel real?
Seto tilted his head back, allowing Yami's lips to leisurely make their way up his neck. I… guess… Yami's breath felt warm as it flowed over his throat, his mouth, moist. His fingers dug into his shoulder, anchoring him in the moment. But I don't remember how I got here…
Yami pulled back for a second. He took the opportunity to brush locks of Seto's hair out of his eyes, then kissed him lightly. You passed out, Baby, he told him, then he kissed him again, a little more passionately. We were all worried about you.
Seto frowned slightly. That explained why Yami had reinstated the energy link, though it hadn't done anything to help clear up his memory. He tried to remember if he had seen Siegfried leave. Did…
He had already left. Yami stroked his lover's face, dismayed at how sharply Seto's cheekbones stuck out. He gave a little sigh. Seto, you really should be in bed, he told him gently as he began to undo the clasps that locked the Duel Disk onto the other's forearm. Feeling Seto's gaze still on the dragons behind him, he didn't turn it off, but he did work it off his arm, letting it come to rest across Seto's thighs.
The young CEO looked down at the Duel Disk in his lap. Then a slight smile creased his face. Go get your Dark Magician card.
Yami felt a little giddy at the word "your." Well, it was his now, wasn't it? All right. He headed back to the bedroom, reemerging a minute later with the card in hand, feeling a strange sort of anticipation.
The taller duelist gestured at the Duel Disk with a weary flip of his hand. Activate it.
Yami did as he asked, feeling a smile blossom on his face as the hologram of his loyal monster sprung up, standing on the same field as the four dragons. He never thought he'd see the day… But then a moment later, Yami gasped in astonishment. The Dark Magician was turning as if looking at the dragons, evaluating them. His crystalline eyes changed color, taking on a violet tint before being overrun with red… And then the purple robed mage drifted back until he was fearlessly standing amidst the quartet of mighty beasts, his left hand reaching up until it finally came to rest over the mark on the fourth Blue Eyes' chest, covering it… protecting it.
Feeling his throat go dry, Yami turned to look Seto, who just sat limply in his seat, breathing hard. He couldn't even think of anything to say. But Seto finally looked at him and said, I was so busy. But I swear… I just knew I had to do this… redesign the graphics, I mean. I couldn't resist.
Yami sighed, wrapping an arm around Seto, letting his fingers play over his lover's shoulder blade where the tattoo lay. He had memorized every nuance of the Dark Magician and Blue Eyes White Dragon inked there, but to see them now before him, brought to life… nothing could compare to that. Seto was a wizard with technology. That was a type of magic. But there was even more magic within him than that.
How can you not believe in magic when it's right before you? Yami asked, his left hand now resting on Seto's chest, right over his heart. He could feel it beating in time with the rise and fall of the fourth dragon's chest. Your programming skills may have shaped them and given them form, but to have given them life, a part of your soul… you had to have sensed their spirits.
The ex-spirit half expected Seto to deny it, to argue with him as he always did, but for once the brunette was silent as he mulled over Yami's words. A minute passed, and then another.
Magic, huh? Seto finally whispered, reaching down to caress his newest acquisition once again, shaking his head. Had the last Blue Eyes really forgiven him for what he had done?
Of course it has…
Seto nearly jumped; he hadn't expected a response. He'd been unaware that he had broadcast his last thought.
He came when you called, didn't he? Yami continued on to ask, his mental voice low and soft.
Yeah… Seto sighed, shutting his eyes. But I keep thinking… this isn't real. Maybe by the time I open my eyes again, he won't be there. Or worse, he'll turn to rebuke me, and tear himself apart right in front of me…
Don't… Yami began, but he suddenly was at a loss for words. He had hoped that the scar was a sign of a wound that had healed, but maybe he was wrong. Maybe the injury beneath was still raw and tender because Seto couldn't stop picking at it.
How hard it was to protect someone like Seto from himself, and yet… he would do his best. Even if Seto didn't want it. Even if it weren't really possible. Like the Dark Magician, he'd face even the fury of the dragon he had promised to protect, if that's what it took to guard his heart.
You are harder on yourself than anyone, Yami finally said sadly as he hugged Seto close, burying his face in soft brown hair. Seto didn't really respond at first, but after a long minute, he finally leaned slightly into his boyfriend's embrace. Yami's arms tightened around him even more. This IS real. And your dragon has forgiven you. In your heart, you know that's true. So open your eyes, Seto.
Reluctantly, Seto did so, trusting in the conviction in Yami's voice. He was relieved to see all five holograms still floating before him, just an arm's length away. They're beautiful, aren't they? he asked, his tone wistful as he stretched a hand out, as if he could touch them.
Crimson eyes regarded each individual dragon in turn. They were so different and unique, and yet… it was like looking at different facets of the same soul, the soul that belonged to the man in his arms. Of course they were beautiful. And so was Seto…
Words wouldn't suffice. He'd have to show him...
Seto slowly blinked at Yami as the shorter duelist cupped his chin in his hand, tilting it up to deliver a tender kiss. Their lips brushed by each other lightly at first, but when a soft whimper escaped from Seto, Yami pressed down a little more insistently, giving him all the warmth and assurance he had been seeking, assuring him once again that this was real. Seto leaned into him, eager for more, rocking back with an almost disappointed look on his face when they finally had to part to catch their breath.
Yami smiled at his lover's slightly flushed face and darkening eyes. He rose to his feet. "Come with me," he said, offering Seto a hand up.
The brunette considered it, then began to pluck cards off the Duel Disk field, starting with the Dark Magician, which he handed back to Yami. But before he had a chance to remove any of the dragons, Yami stopped him with a slight shake of his head. Curious, Seto settled for shifting the still active Duel Disk off his lap instead, carefully balancing it on the arm of the chair before taking Yami up on his offer.
Seto's untied robe began sliding down as he stood, causing him to stumble forward slightly. Yami caught him, but instead of steadying him, he used his momentum to guide them to the floor. They fell onto the rug directly beneath the dragons, Seto's robe pooling around them like a cloud.
"Beautiful…" Yami murmured as he touched Seto's cheek before leaning down to taste his lips again.
(lemon deleted for ffnet)
Noa and Mokuba arrived back at the hotel in the early afternoon, having seen off most of the duelists who had participated in the Grand Prix. Only Rebecca and Jou still remained behind. The two Kaibas knew they didn't have to go – they could have just had some company representatives and drivers take care of it – but it felt like the proper thing to do. The responsible thing. And considering how out of it Seto was the previous day, it was unlikely that he'd awaken anytime soon anyway, so there was really no reason to sit around and watch him sleep when that was all he really needed. Besides, IF on the off chance anything did happen, Yugi was just a few doors away and keeping an eye on things via Yami. And he had promised to call the younger Kaibas if anything did come up.
Mokuba slid the keycard into the lock, taking care to open the door as quietly as possible so that there'd be no chance of him waking his big brother accidentally. But before he even managed to get two steps into the room, he stumbled to a stop, looking up in awe.
"Am I seeing things?" he whispered, eyes wide. He blinked, then counted them again. "I swear I'm seeing four Blue Eyes…"
"Then we must both be hallucinating, 'cause I see four as well," Noa slowly replied as he joined his boyfriend, though he knew it really shouldn't be possible. He hadn't ever seen the fourth Blue Eyes before, but he knew enough of the story behind it to know that the card shouldn't have been playable. But obviously, it had to be… because there it was, right in front of them.
At about the same moment that Noa spotted the activated Duel Disk on the armchair, Mokuba caught sight of Seto and Yami beneath the flapping wings of the dragons, naked and asleep on the floor between the sofa and the round padded ottoman. "Uh…"
Noa followed his boyfriend's gaze, quirking an eyebrow at the sight. "Nice to see that not even exhaustion gets between Seto and sex."
Mokuba looked back up at the dragons, then shook his head. "Or an audience."
"Having an audience turns him on, you know that," the green-haired teen said, grinning wickedly.
"Gross," Mokuba muttered automatically while considering the situation. Part of him wanted to wake the pair and herd them back into bed, which undoubtedly would be more comfortable than staying on the floor, while another part of him wanted to leave well enough alone. Seto had to be pretty deeply asleep, if their voices and the occasional rumbling chorus of his dragons weren't bothering him. "Think they'll be okay out here, if we bring out some blankets?"
The room was a bit on the chilly side due to the powerful air conditioning, but it wasn't intolerable, and the carpet beneath their feet was fairly plush and insulating. Plus, there was always body heat. "Yeah. Let's just do that then."
After the two teens finished fetching a blanket from the bedroom and laying it down over the sleeping couple, Noa walked over to Seto's Duel Disk to examine the cards on it. Indeed, there were four BEWD cards set on the field, nearly indistinguishable from one another save the last one in the line, which bore a small mark on its chest. "Is this the fourth dragon? I had thought… the damage would've been worse."
"Nii-sama ripped it in half; I know he did," Mokuba commented from behind Noa's shoulder, but he sounded uncertain. Other than the little tear in the middle of it, the card was undamaged. Had Sugoroku somehow repaired it? Or perhaps Yami had done something to it with his Shadow Magic…
"I guess it got fixed, one way or another," Noa said quietly. "Doesn't really matter how, right?"
Mokuba gave a slight shrug. He was curious about it, but with Seto still asleep, he'd have to live with the lack of an answer for the moment. "I guess..."
"Mm. So, should we turn off the Duel Disk?" Noa asked, seeing that Yami's Dark Magician was sitting on the coffee table. It looked as though they were in the process of deactivating the device when they decided that sex was a more pressing matter. How typical of them.
Mokuba looked at the proud creatures flying around them, then spared another glance at his big brother. He looked so peaceful, lying there with Yami in his arms and his dragons at his side. Sure, the holograms were a bit noisy with their sound effects, but Mokuba was certain that Seto would sleep a lot better in the presence of his beloved beasts than in the silence left by their absence. "Nah, it's pretty cool, seeing them like this. And they haven't woken him yet."
Noa tilted his head back and smiled. "Yeah, they are pretty cool." Then he paused briefly, and with unusual tenderness, added, "I know they're Seto's dragons, but… they kinda remind me the four of us in a way, don't you think? They're each a little different… like each has its own strengths, its own personality… but it feels right to see them all flying together. Like this is how they were meant to be."
"Like… how we're meant to be," Mokuba whispered, swallowing hard. He had never thought of it like that, but it was true, wasn't it? He liked the idea though, that there was a bit of him in the dragons Seto had created, or maybe a bit of dragon in him. Or maybe both… "A family of dragons."
"Mm." The older teen nodded. He liked the sound of that too.
Mokuba finally returned Noa's smile with a grateful one of his own, then he took his boyfriend's hand and led him to the sofa, urging him to sit down beside him, thankful for his warm presence as well as his insight. Then, just like dragons guarding a treasure, they curled up together alongside the Blue Eyes to watch over Seto and Yami as they slept, safe and sound beneath the canopy of dragons' wings.
- Major / notable changes from canon:
1) This chapter covers the end of episode 198; well, chronologically, that's where it fits. But I pretty much made up everything from hereon out.
- Re: a family of dragons. Contrary to what Mokuba and Noa said, the way I depicted the dragons wasn't meant to represent Seto, Yami, Mokuba and Noa, but I don't think the boys are completely off-track either. I mean, I don't think Seto consciously decided that the dragons would represent his past or his future, or his thoughts on Mokuba or Yami… I think he'd go with what felt right to him and not necessarily consider the source of his inspiration. So yeah, there's probably a piece of them in Seto's holographic representations of the dragons, but there's much more to it than that.
- Re: the four BEWDs. Dragons, 'tis the theme of this chapter : ) To partially recap from my LJ, this is what the dragons symbolize to me (but feel free to come to your own conclusions... I meant for this to be open to each person's interpretation):
1) The playful dragon was physically modeled after Kuriboh the attack pony. But beyond that, I equate Kuriboh with Mokuba. So I had Seto do the same, subconsciously. This dragon also represents a sort of child-like quality which again, ties in with how Seto sees Mokuba.
2) The bellowing dragon was modeled after how I imagined Seto would see his past. And physically, this one would look most like the ones in the anime, just bigger and more fierce. I wanted something to show Seto's determination in standing up to Gozaburo. So this dragon is a representation of the indomitable warrior's spirit that will always be a part of him.
3) The soaring dragon was physically modeled after (and this is a nod to Nenya85) after the tattoo Seto sported in Nenya's fic "It's Deja Vu All Over Again." To quote: "Rising out of the wreckage, his Blue Eyes White Dragon, glistening silver within its navy outline, took flight... For the dragon was not soaring triumphantly, but embarking on a quest…" I liked the idea of having a dragon representing Seto striving to reach his future, which is further emphasized by having this dragon rising above the dragon that represents his past.
4) And finally, the fourth dragon was modeled after the tattoo Seto carries on his back. It represents Seto's acceptance of himself (inner peace… ooo, so zen-like) as well as Yami's love for him (which is why the Dark Magician's hologram responded to it). As for the scar, hubby and I went back and forth on whether the card should be completely repaired or not. I think (and I don't really remember… it was 2 AM) I was originally going to completely fix it, so it would be undamaged (thus showing that Seto had been forgiven for his past actions). But I also liked the idea of it bearing a physical reminder that even though it had finally come home to Seto, that it would still have its war wounds. But instead of a glaring reminder of everything that went wrong in the past, I see it as a symbol of Seto's survival, that even though Yami had shattered his heart, he did rebuild it, emerging stronger than ever.
- Much gratitude to Nenya for betaing and idea bouncing and putting up with my "Ehn… I'm stuck!" whines, and to hubby for coming up with the entire idea around the depiction of the fourth Blue Eyes. And also, thanks to everyone who stayed with me through this arc and left reviews. I always appreciate it.
- Originally, this was going to be the epilogue, but since it fit right in with the course of the story... there was no reason for an epilogue. That said, there's going to be a... mini arc -- following right after this one (even though I said the next one would be the last, I lied). It was too long to do as an epilogue even though that's its purpose, so I figured it was best to call it a mini arc instead : p