A/N: PostDOOM. Edited version. Filled in some of the blanks. Doubt if anyone will notice a thing, but whatever. The old version seemed a bit too rushed to me. -.-'

Warnings: None. And I kid you not.

Disclaimer: I know it. You know it. We all know it. And Kazuki Takahashi-sama knows it too.

Clipped Wings

He did not know what it was that made him feel the way he had felt back there. He did not know what made him think about it even now when all of it was long left in the past, being no more than an unpleasant nightmare. All these past months he had found himself reliving the events on the plane again and again, right from the moment when the chair had turned around and he had been met with fierce grey eyes, every detail so shockingly bright and sharp as if carved in a fine piece of ivory.

No, Seto Kaiba had not the slightest idea what made him go back in time almost every other day. He just did. The thoughts were like wind – coming and going without any notice, sweeping about almost unnoticed, coming in raging with a force to destroy, and disappearing without as much as a trace. Much like Amelda had come in his life and deserted it. Seto Kaiba truly had no idea what had made him pick the guy up and carry him out of that crashed plane when no immediate explosion was expected. He should have just left him lying there and ordered one of his employees to haul him out of there sometime later. Instead, he had carried him out and almost gently laid him on the ground instead of just throwing him down like a pack of old newspapers or a bag of trash (though he never took the trash out himself).

Seto snorted at his vague reflection in the window. Well, well. It turned out that he did have a heart for a select few occasions, though he would prefer it if it would not be there at all. Having a heart could be a great hindrance at times. It was better not to feel at all. Emotions made you predictable. Emotions made you vulnerable. Emotions made you weak. And the one thing one Kaiba Seto detested the most was being weak. He had felt helpless for one too many times in his past, and he did not want to feel that way ever again. As a little child, he had had a kitten once, and he had loved it, but the little feline had disappeared. He had loved his parents, but they had died, leaving him and his little brother alone. Later, in the orphanage, he had had a nice female tutor that had reminded him of his mother, but she had died in a car crash right in front of his eyes. Every time he chose to let someone close to himself, to love someone, they disappeared, leaving him feeling empty. The last time it had happened, Seto had chosen to never let anyone past the line of occasional acquaintances. Mokuba, being his brother, was the only exception to that rule. And Mokuba was possibly the only person in the whole wide Universe who could and did understand him. And Seto needed no more.

He watched the city without really seeing it, cerulean eyes looking past everything earthly and travelling back into the memory realm. Again and again he saw his opponent drawing that card, smiling so confidently and with such hate and disgust for him. Again and again he saw those grey eyes widen slightly with triumph, looking at him, knowing that he was done for it the minute that card was activated. The insanity that burned in his grey eyes, and behind it – the most frightening thing he had ever seen in his life – a sparkle of sanity that did not fight against the suicide-murder he was about to commit. The sanity that had taken over (or maybe had never been overthrown by the killing instinct) as their duel came to a close end. Maybe the redhead had just put up the insane act, for a human being could not switch from rage to acceptance as quickly as he had done. Again and again Amelda's last gesture replied in his mind. The way the redhead had thrown his arm out, inviting his downfall, accepting his loss with a little challenge, as if saying, Proceed if you dare risk your own life.

And Amelda had meant it. And Seto had accepted what was possibly the most terrifying challenge in his life. Never before had he put more on the stakes. Never before had so many things depended on one card. Never before had he faced a person who would willingly bet his life on one his card. Not a single duellist before Amelda had made Seto Kaiba to gamble with himself to win. Because really – it was nothing but a gamble with his skill and his confidence, and his will. He had gone against himself in that last draw. It was all gamble and choices. To be or not to be.

Because Seto knew that Amelda had had it all in his hand. He could have used that one move to the fullest and destroyed him then and there, but he had cut if off halfway and instead let Seto destroy himself bit by bit. It was hard to describe what he had felt upon realizing what exactly his final move had done. He had never expected the feeling of guilt to rise up from the pit of his stomach and leave a bad aftertaste in his mouth. He had stood by and watched the smile appear on his enemy's face, the smile of approval that told Seto he had dome something... Something he could not quite grasp back then, and was still unable to. He had not wanted to admit it back then, but now these repeated memories made it hard to deny since he could not go back in time to change it. Past was one tricky thing. Try as you might to forget it, but it has the annoying habit of kicking back whenever you think you're finally in safety.

Seto turned away from the window. Perhaps it was the view that was affecting him. If he just went back to work, it might leave him alone until the evening. Yes, the evening… Every other evening he fell asleep thinking that this might have been the last day that he remembered the redhead's existence. There was always the chance that he would wake up and none of it would be real. A nightmare he could put behind him.

Seto shuddered at the memory of Amelda's lifeless body in his arms. For a moment, he had truly believed the guy was dead – he had looked like a broken porcelain doll and felt practically weightless. And he had looked beautiful, once the mask of hatred and rage had fallen. Seto stiffened and forced the memory as far away in his mind as he could, but the thought still lingered in his conscious. Deciding that he needed a distraction from his thoughts, the CEO went back to work. Still, the images floated in front of his vision and he could not will them away. Perhaps it would have been better if he had lost that duel.

The first time that thought had occurred to him, Seto had thought it was completely asinine, but as the time went by it somehow looked more and more acceptable. On those extremely rare occasions when he lost, it was easy math – track the guy down for a rematch and beat him into the next weekend. Situations like those were seldom to none, with the sole exception of one Mutou Yugi. It was completely different with Amelda. Though Seto had won, he felt like he had lost something in that duel. The redhead had left unforgettable second impression, and if his master plan had been to drive the CEO insane, then he had accomplished it because that was exactly how Kaiba was feeling at the moment – like slowly losing his sanity.

All one Seto Kaiba could do was sigh for those days when his only concern was finally beating Yugi in a duel and giving Mutou's little puppy another handful of scorn to choke on. He even longed for those days, not that he would admit it to anyone. Not even himself. He should have been more concerned with his company, but those grey eyes kept distracting him even from the monitor of his computer. Suddenly he had come to realize just how many sites and computer programs had a layout in the exact same colour. It was insane, he knew. There were thousands of shades of grey in the world, yet all of them seemed to be present in Amelda's eyes as he remembered them from the last time their looks had crossed.

The events of that one crazy airborne duel kept him bound like he was a bird with clipped wings. He could not fly away from the memories the way he wanted to, he could only walk around them like he was walking on thin layer of ice, waiting for it all to sink into oblivion and risking being dragged down himself. And yet the day when he could finally put it all behind him and forget was not drawing any closer just because he wanted it to. That was one thing to look forward to among all the days of endless routine that he predicted in his future. And perhaps it was even better that way.

Amelda was renting an apartment in uptown Domino, the cheapest he had been able to find, yet he did not spend much time in it. He merely slept there during the days, his active life beginning only with the arrival of dusk. He was living above the city every night, the roofs being his realm, his kingdom and hideout. Up there he could see everything, not many being able to see him in return, though he did not care either way. Winds were always stronger and fiercer so high above, and the tall buildings seemed to sway (and they really did, he knew) when he was standing on the ledges of the roofs. Watching. Waiting. Losing. Gaining.

Amelda was standing on a ledge again, fighting the wind that threatened to pull him off and send him tumbling down. He had just watched a sunset, the visible part of the horizon still yellow-tinted, and he kept his eyes on the thin line until it melted into the darkness of the night completely. The warm city lights had swallowed up the cold light of the stars which made the sky above look empty. He would have liked to do some stargazing, but he could not. And if he really wanted to be truthful, then it did not even matter. He had not become a creature of the night to stargaze, – it was only for safety. He was virtually invisible when the darkness fell, and that was what he wanted the most – to just disappear, to not be noticed by anyone, to stop existing.

His old world had fallen apart, and he had no will to build a new one. He really had no reason to continue living, there was nothing keeping him bound to this world except that living corpse that was still breathing and preventing his soul from sliding away into eternity. The redhead was in a state when no logical thought could break through to him, no rational reasoning was present even though he had always been a cool-headed plotter despite what his exterior would make you think. He had always thought before he jumped, had always made sure there would be something to land on if he did, indeed, jump. And tonight he wanted to just... fall. Fall without jumping. Just take one step forth and lose the ground beneath his feet.

When there should have been the thought that his brother Miruko would want him to live on, there wasn't. All Amelda knew was that he had failed him double. He had believed in a cold lie, listened to half-truths like they were undoubtable reality, and had been met with a truth that burnt him like acid. That burnt only like guilt could burn. Amelda was in no state to realize that Miruko would be alive for as long as he himself was alive, that his memories of his little brother would keep that innocent child alive for as long as he himself remembered, that, the minute he was gone, there would be no one else to keep the memory of his deceased family alive.

It did not matter to him. Nothing mattered.

Failed, failed, failed, was the only word that echoed in his mind. I deserve to die, was the only coherent thought that he had had for the past months above all others that nagged at his conscious and gnawed at his soul. Amelda was slowly going insane, and he knew that and was not afraid of it. He accepted it just like he had learned to accept many other things in his life. It was his reprimand. His punishment. He was going to Hell for sure. Otherwise it would not make sense if he got away with all that he had done.

Because that was how it was, wasn't it? He was at fault that Dartz had killed so many people, had almost destroyed a whole nation just to get to one person. It was really a wonder that he had not yet been struck by lightning at random for it. And it had only been a miracle that he had not killed two more people. Two unfortunate souls who simply got in the way... He had almost shattered his little brother's and his own mirror images. Almost destroyed his "could have been if only..."

Though that was the last thing on Amelda's mind tonight. He leaned forwards a little more. Then some more. And another inch. The wind seemed to be especially fierce tonight. Then again, it felt that way almost every night. He smirked sourly to himself and looked down. His eyes had adjusted to the heights, and he had little difficulty seeing the dying rush below. People. Cars. Public transport. The streets were slowly clearing of it all, as the time neared midnight. And suddenly he wanted to be down there, to feel the asphalt. Funny, but it called out to him. It offered a solution to all his problems. It wanted him to fly again. To fly into the freedom he had been denied for so long. It all awaited him just beyond the ledge he was standing on.

It was hard to resist such a call. Especially if the voice was so very familiar. In the end, it was not such a hard decision to make, and once Amelda had set his mind to accept the invitation, he realized that he did not want the asphalt and the running people to be the last thing he saw. No. He did not want to see those empty lives – he had had enough with his own. He did not want to know how far away his dying hour was; he wanted it to come at its own time. The guilt he felt did not allow him to decide his own demise. The guilt in him was speaking volumes. Telling things he had known, but did not want to acknowledge. He was not worthy of knowing when Death has come for him. Therefore he decided to look up at the sky when he would be falling. The sad starless sky that looked down on him like a broken window. Yes, he would look up until the very last moment of his consciousness and feel like he was falling from the sky instead of the cold unresponsive ledge.

He straightened up to turn around, and froze in halfway. Even from so high above he could perfectly tell who the person that walked out of the building opposite his was, and only now did Amelda realize where exactly he had ended up tonight. The building that had slightly obscured his view on the horizon as he had watched the setting sun was Kaiba Corp. And there was only one person in existence that worked this late into the night.

Seto Kaiba.

Amelda drew in a sharp breath. Had Kaiba noticed him? All this time he had tried to stay away from people, resorting to being awake during nights and asleep during days to avoid as many as he could, and the last thing he wanted was to be noticed by Kaiba. It possibly could get worse than that, especially if the CEO decided that he had ulterior motives for being where he was right now. Being near anything that had at least a far connection with his once-rival was something Amelda did not want, yet something had made him wander all the way to his area of reign tonight.

As he looked down more intently than ever before, he noticed (with certain relief) that Kaiba was leaving the site. Of course, he might have notified the police, informing them of a stalker, which, Amelda had to admit, he could qualify as. Even if it was in the past, the label was still there and would not be lifted off of him for as long as Kaiba knew he was alive. But the last thing Amelda wanted was to die in his ex-rival's territory. He just could imagine Kaiba doing anything in his power and beyond to keep him from gaining eternal peace. That thought was absurd enough to make Amelda smile. And only then he realized something that he should have seen and realized sooner.

He was bound to this world whether he wanted it or not. He had left behind as much as he could yet he was still tied to the life, even if it was to this one ledge that he could not jump off. He could no longer fly, even if it was just off of a roof of some building. Life had clipped his wings and bound his soul to this world with invisible threads. All he could do now was to let go, fall down and crash. And, really, he did not mind that at all. He wanted to let go, and it was okay if he crashed, because there was the possibility of picking up the pieces and putting them back together. Not into what they had once been, that many things simply could not be put into reverse, but into something completely new. And all he had to do was to just...

...let go and fall...