Four years later
The glowing ball zoomed through the forest with a pleasant tinkling noise, casting its golden light on the dark tree-trunks and murkyground. It zigzagged between a few trees, before stopping in a glade, hanging completely still in the middle of the air, trembling lightly.
Only a few seconds passed, then the quiet in the forest was broken by the sounds of hooves among the fallen leaves, mixed with two male voices and a young woman's laughter. Another few moments, and three riders became visible in the glade. One of the two men was a brunette, while the other had raven-black hair. The beautiful woman had long, red-brown locks which fell down over her shoulders like a waterfall. All three of them were smiling.
"Perhaps we should wait for the royal guards to catch up, your majesty," Duke said to Serenity, although the grin on his face showed that he didn't really mind their headstart.
"I would," Serenity said and stopped her cream-colored horse in front of the golden globe, watching it with a smile. "But I don't think this thing is going to wait, and quite frankly, I'm just as eager as it seems to be. It's been too long already, I don't want to wait for the dilatory soldiers!"
"We don't wanna disappoint our queen, do we, love?" Tristan asked, looking over at Duke with a grin of his own. There was gentleness in his deep eyes, and it filled Duke with warmth.
"I guess it can't be helped," Duke sighed in mock-defeat. "Our top priority is to keep her majesty happy, after all. I don't wanna break that promise."
"Especially since the one who made us promise that is six metres tall and can fry us alive!" Tristan laughed, making his horse pass his lover and adopted sister at a trot. "Let's go!"
The other two just exchanged a smile before following him with a laugh.
The sun was standing high in the sky when the three of them finally broke through the thick shrubbery and stepped out into a meadow. Halting their horses (who really just wanted to run at the sight of open plains) Serenity admired the large lake in front of her. On the other side of it, the houses of a small village could be seen, and people scurried around among them, minding their own business on this beautiful summer-day when the sky was blue and the bird were chirping. It was the image of peace and happiness, in the middle of this thick, large forest.
And behind it all: the Hollow Mountain.
It should have been an intimidating sight, considering its size and dark shape, but it didn't appear threatening in the least. Serenity just thought about the people inside it, and was immediately filled with uncontrollable anticipation.
Not even looking at her two companions, the queen of Domino spurred her horse, and the mare- very familiar with her mistress' movements and actions- immediately threw herself out onto the meadow, galloping at a fast but steady pace around the lake to reach the village. Tristan and Duke had no choice but to follow; not that they had any other plans.
It was a few of the children who saw them first. They dropped the sticks they had been playing with and started jumping up and down in eagerness, screaming at the top of their lungs. This, of course, alerted the adults, who looked up, spotted the visitors, and dropped anything they were currently doing. Some walked over to greet the young queen with a smile, but one or two ran off to get the kings and general.
Solomon, looking even older and more bent than before, but with the same twinkle in his eyes, stood first in the line as Serenity slowed down to a trot and eventually stopped in front of him.
"Welcome, young queen!" he greeted warmly as Serenity slid out of the saddle. They embraced each other.
"You look well, Solomon," she said softly, letting him go so he could hug Tristan and Duke as well. "How is everything going?"
"Oh, it goes on as it always has," Solomon answered when he finally let go of Tristan, who seemed a little relieved to be free from his embrace. The old man turned to her again, smiling so that every single wrinkle in his face was visible. "I am enjoying my retirement to the fullest, you know. Just enjoying life."
"I'll say," a warm, dark voice said from behind them, and they all turned around to see the kings themselves walk across the grass to greet them. "Everyone knows you're eating me and Yugi out of the house, dear grandfather-in-law."
Yami and Yugi didn't really look like kings, unless you counted their impressive hair. They were dressed just as casually as anyone else in the village, as if they were nothing more than commoners themselves; Yami especially looked a lot different from his majestic self a few hundred years earlier. But the aura around him was the same wise, demanding energy it had been back then. Only he looked happier now, with his glowing lover on his arm.
"Watch it, young man," Solomon scoffed at Yami, but the king only smirked in amusement. "You should respect your elders!"
"I'm over four hundred years old, dead grandpa."
"That doesn't count!"
"We never though you were going to show up, Serenity!" Yugi told Serenity as they hugged, completely ignoring the way his lover and grandfather were bickering. He was twenty-two now; as old as Joey, but he still had the same youthful energy, despite his new maturity.
"We couldn't help it; those stupid guards slowed us down," Tristan joked, making Duke scold him good-naturedly.
"No matter!" Yami said brightly, turning away from the now fuming Solomon to bow in respect at the queen. She curtsied in answer. "You're here now, and we are very happy to have you."
"You can't possibly be as happy as we are to be here, dear Yami!"
"All the sweetness in the air is giving me cavities," Bakura muttered as he and Ryou walked up beside Yami and Yugi. The general looked just as disgruntled as he always did, even if his eyes seemed to have new life in them. Beside him, gentle, beautiful Ryou buried an elbow in his stomach, scowling at him playfully.
"Stop acting like you don't like it, you big softie," he said with his normal melodious voice, allowing Serenity to give him a hug. "You're the one who gave me a huge bouquet of night-flowers on our first anniversary, with a living firefly hidden in each one."
"Aaaaaw!" Yugi cooed, grinning at Bakura, who looked even more like a particularly sour lemon. "Ryou! You never told me that! That's so romantic!"
"Never doing anything for you again," Bakura hissed to Ryou, while Yami sent a smirk at his general. But the pale boy just smiled lovingly and stood up on his tiptoes to place a kiss on Bakura's X-shaped scar. Everyone laughed, but Bakura didn't seem to mind as much anymore.
"You're here!" A happy voice suddenly sang from above them, and Mokuba landed in the middle of the crowd, making the ground shake. After four-hundred years of waiting, the dark-grey dragon had finally hit a growth-spurt; he was almost as big as Joey now, and his claws and scales had finally become those of a real dragon. Still, he was very gentle as he pulled Serenity into a warm hug.
"Hello, Mokuba," Serenity said with a laugh, hugging him back to the best of her ability. "It's good to see you."
"It's fantastic to see you!" Mokuba answered with a blinding smile. "When was the last time we saw each other? Was it… your twentieth birthday party, wasn't it! That's months ago! It's been kinda boring around here without you, you know! We have so much catching up to do! Wait until Joey sees you! He's gonna freak out! Gods, it's so good to see you, Serenity! I've missed you!"
"Mokuba, I think she gets it," Mai suddenly appeared beside the dragon and patted his scaly arm with an amused smile. "Now let go of the poor girl, and for goodness sake, lower your voice before you make all our ears bleed."
"Oh, right, sorry!" Mokuba said in a very loud whisper, and let go of Serenity with a sheepish smile. But she just laughed and assured him everything was alright. Then she let her eyes sweep over the crowd, scanning the smiling faces; most of them familiar. She frowned a little in thought.
"Speaking of Joey… I've been here for more than five minutes now." She put her hands on her hips. "So how come my big lump of a brother hasn't tried to crush every bone in my body with his hugs yet?"
"Oh, I know!" Mokuba chirped, as if it was some kind of quiz he had to win. "He's at home; hasn't left the mountain in a long time. He and Seto thought that was for the best, considering the situation and everything."
"You came at the perfect time," Mai told Serenity, standing beside the younger woman and smiling at her. "Any time now."
"That's another reason why I wanted to get here so quickly," Serenity said, her eyes suddenly lighting up with anticipation. "We can go up there, right? I so wanna see him! All of them!"
"Seto wants peace and quiet," Mokuba said. "That's why I'm not up there. But he doesn't stand a chance when it comes to this; Joey really wanna see you too!"
Serenity's smile was gorgeous, but it was Tristan who put his hands together and got to work.
"Then what are we waiting for?" He asked, looking around at Duke, Yami, Yugi, Ryou, Bakura, Mai and Mokuba. "Let's get up there!"
"You took the words right out of my mouth," Yami said, and then, with a glance at Yugi, Ryou and Bakura, he made a gesture with his hand, and a glowing disk appeared beneath everyone's feet. Mokuba nudged Serenity softly and smiled encouragingly at her.
"Ride with me!" He suggested, bending down to make it easier for her to climb onto his back. "I'll get us up there faster!"
How could Serenity say no to that? With another broad smile, she climbed onto him, not even hesitating for a moment. They took flight with a mighty swoop of Mokuba's wings, leaving the others behind as they headed for the half circle-shaped entrance into the mountain.
A sliver of light seeped through the curtains hanging over the window in the bedroom, hitting Joey right in the eye and making him blink awake.
With a dark grunt, the golden dragon wiggled a little, scowling and turning his face away from the light, instead burying his muzzle in his partner's warm side. Finally being rid of the problem, he purred in satisfaction and inhaled Seto's scent, feeling it give him peace as it always did.
Unfortunately, the white dragon didn't seem to want him there, because he moved around a little, removing his wing from Joey's back, where it had been resting like a warm blanket. Joey whimpered at the loss.
"It's the middle of the day," Seto growled softly and dragged his cheek along Joey's muzzle, up between his eyes and over his forehead in a long, loving caress. The golden dragon just purred more. "It's ridiculous to lie around and sleep like this."
"I don't think so," Joey murmured back. He still hadn't opened his eyes, and just snuggled closer to his mate's warm, hard body.
Seto sighed and looked down at the sigh before him. The small amount of light which had been bothering Joey before now hit the scales on his long, slender neck instead, and Seto couldn't help but think that the warm light didn't stand a chance against the utter beauty of Joey's purely golden body-panzer.
Every day, the dragon-prince was reminded of the beauty that was his lover and life-long partner. Joey was smaller than him by almost two metres, and even slenderer. Sometimes he appeared almost fragile, though Seto knew that wasn't true. Joey had mastered not only the art of flying, but also that of breathing fire within the span of a year, and he moved and fought just as agilely in this body as he had done in his human one.
But at times like this, when he lay so close to Seto, purring and whimpering tiredly, Seto couldn't help but feel a sense of complete love and devotion well up inside him. This was what he had fought and died for. This was what he'd come back from the dead for, and this was what he had always wanted. This was their choice.
He knew, without the question of a doubt, that none of them had ever or would ever look back.
"Of course you don't," he snorted now, referring to Joey's earlier statement. "What else could one expect form a lazy bum like you?"
Seto might have listened to the demand a little better if Joey hadn't snuggled even closer right after those words.
"Honestly, Joey," he said in a tone which was usually reserved for Mokuba, and which Joey hated with a passion, "aren't we forgetting something?"
"If course not," Joey muttered, and even though he didn't open his eyes, Seto knew he was irritated. "Not time yet."
"Are you completely sure about that?"
"Of course I am!" Joey did open his eyes now, and looked up at the white dragon with irritated amber orbs. Inside his head, Seto grinned. "What the hell do you take me for?"
"A lazy bum," Seto answered without missing a beat.
Joey glared at him, and then, before Seto knew it, he'd wiggled away and sat up on his hind legs, rubbing sleep from his eyes. It was an adorable sight; especially considering his sloppily folded wings, dazed eyes and that cute yawn of his.
"I'll show you a lazy bum," he muttered with another glare, then turned a little, fixing his eyes on the end of their bed. Seto followed his gaze, and felt his heart swell.
There, lying in the circle created by the two dragons' entwined tails, were three eggs.
They were perfectly shaped ovals with white shells, and if the light hit them just right, they glistened like pale gold. They were as big as a normally sized ten-year-old, and carefully arranged so that they were lying pressed to each other without causing any strain on the shells.
A smile spread on Joey's face as he watched them, and any anger seemed to be forgotten as he took a step closer, so that he was standing right in front of them without breaking the circle his and Seto's tails created. Silently, he leaned over so that his muzzle was only a few centimetres form the precious objects, and then he opened his mouth and breathed scorching hot air over them.
Seto watched this with pride swelling in his heart and a small, satisfied smirk on his lips. He remembered watching mothers and fathers do this all the time when he was a drakling and everything wasn't destroyed by the witches. He knew it was a very, very important task which was vital for the baby-dragons' survival (the babies needed heat to survive in their eggs, after all), but he had never in his wildest dreams been able to imagine himself as the one doing it. The prospect of loving someone as wholly and wonderfully as he did Joey (aside from his brother and parents, of course), and being able to share something like this with them… it had never even crossed his mind back then! Even now, after weeks of performing the same task at least four times a day, it was still a mind-boggling prospect. They were taking care of their babies!
Joey didn't stop breathing hotly until the shells were glowing red-hot, and they could almost see the small bodies moving inside (the draklings seemed to love the procedure even more than Joey and Seto). Then he turned back around to his husband, and the irritation was back in his gaze.
"Happy?" he snapped, and Seto leaned over and nibbled as Joey's neck with sharp teeth, loving how his mate let out a breath a little too fast.
"Very," he murmured, shifting a little closer, not breaking the circle their tails created either. "But being cooped up in this cave for so long has made me restless. Can you blame me for wanting a little entertainment? You're so much fun when you're acting all irritated."
"Do I have to remind you whose idea this whole thing with making babies was?" Joey muttered sullenly, making a poor attempt to push his mate away, even though there was no real conviction in his movements. "It's your own fault that we're here right now. Besides; you can go out hunting at least twice a week; I haven't left this stupid mountain in months, so stop complaining!"
"I'm not complaining," Seto answered, his voice deadpan as he leaned back a little to look into Joey's eyes. "I'm merely explaining why I act the way I do."
"Geez," Joey rolled his eyes and leaned over to nuzzle closer to Seto. "Saying 'Sorry' is so much easier, you know!"
"I don't have anything to say sorry for." Seto objected immediately, his voice a little sharper. "I was just-"
"Is it safe to come in?" A voice suddenly called from outside the room, and the two dragons pulled away again to gaze upon the large oak door.
"That depends on what you want!" Joey called back with a teasing smile on his face, and immediately the door flew open and Mokuba bounced inside with his usual happy smile in place.
"Good afternoon, dear brothers!" He sang and was at the edge of the bed in moments, leaning over Seto's tail to coo at the eggs. "How are my favourite nephews this morning?"
"Still not hatched, and still unable to hear you," Seto answered and rolled his eyes.
"You don't know that!" Mokuba objected. "I'm telling you; the moment those little ones come out, they're gonna look at me and say 'Uncle Mokie!'. I just know it!"
"Whatever you say, little brother," Seto sighed while Joey chuckled and winked at Mokuba. It was obvious that this was a discussion they had been over quite a few times, and Seto didn't have energy to go over it once more. "Was there a reason why you're here?"
"Oh!" Mokuba exclaimed, suddenly remembering what it was he had come for. "Serenity, Tristan and Duke are here! Serenity is waiting at the entrance, and the others are almost here as well!" Joey's eyes lit up considerably at those words. "I figured I should go ahead and tell you guys, since we know what happened last time I tried to surprise you two in here." He blushed at that, and looked at the floor. Joey did the same, while Seto cleared his throat in a somewhat strained manner.
"Well then," he said, clearly anxious to change the subject. "Why don't you go and get them, Mokuba, and we'll wait here."
Joey looked like he wanted to go with Mokuba, but Seto's tail squeezed his own in a manner which clearly said; 'I want you here with me', and he just smiled as Mokuba smiled brightly again (embarrassment quickly forgotten) and ran out the door with high, halesteps. It was quite and amusing sight, considering Mokuba wasn't a drakling anymore.
"Bouncy," Seto muttered and shook his head at his younger brother's disappearing shape. "He will never outgrow bouncy."
Joey laughed softly, and then gave a purr of satisfaction as Seto bent down to rub their heads together again, taking the opportunity to breath hot air on the golden scales in the same manner which Joey had done with the eggs a few moments earlier. The sensation was so wonderful Joey shivered in pleasure.
"I can't wait to see my sister," he whispered to Seto. "I've missed her so much… I was almost afraid she wouldn't make it before the eggs hatch."
"Of course she would; no one and nothing can stop that girl," Seto told him, sitting up straighter. "Especially when it comes to you."
Joey's eyes shone with happiness when he heard those words, knowing Seto never said things he didn't mean. He was just about to lean over and nuzzle Seto again when a voice he had missed the last few months rang through the corridor outside, as well as their bedroom. The next moment, Domino's young queen walked through the door.
"Joey!" she cried in delight, and the next few moments consisted of warm reunions, laughter and a lot of hugging. Serenity and Joey embraced, Tristan and Duke teased their friend affectionately (calling him 'Mommy', among other things) and Mokuba bounced around them, high on happiness.
When everyone had finally settled down, Serenity was sitting on the edge of the bed beside Seto and Joey, and most of the others had gathered around the three eggs, admiring and praising them. Joey only had eyes for his sister, though.
"So where's your lover-boy?" He asked Serenity, grinning like a wolf when she blushed.
"Oh, I left him in Domino," she said, trying to sound casual, but there was no denying the happy shine in her eyes when she thought of her husband of two years. Much like her family before her, Serenity had met him on the night of her eighteenth birthday, and they had gotten married a few months after that. "Someone needs to help grandpa with all the duties while I'm away, besides; those two need to learn to get along once and for all!"
"Grandpa still doesn't like him?" Joey asked, sounding half sympathetic and half amused. "It's been four years."
"You know him; he's stubborn, and Leon's lack of respect doesn't make it any better," Serenity said, rolling her eyes.
"That's so typical grandpa," Joey muttered and rolled his eyes along with her. "My husband wrecked half the castle and kidnapped me, but it's yours he's got a problem with!"
"His priorities are strange, to say the least," Serenity agreed, but then she smiled brightly again. "But I'm sure they'll work it out sooner or later. Enough of that now! How are you doing? Excited?"
"Scared shitless," Joey said, but he was smiling softly when he turned around to look back at his eggs again. "Any moment now."
"They're gorgeous," Serenity told him as she walked over to all the others to look at her nephews-to-be. "What do you think they will be?"
"Three boys, no doubt!" Mokuba said instantly, looking proud as a peacock. "And they'll know who I am as soon as they see me! I've made sure of that!"
"It's quite amazing really," Yami said softly, still holding Yugi with one arm while he reached out to caress one of the eggs with a finger. They were still very, very warm from Joey's breath. "There haven't been any newborn dragons in over four hundred years, and now there are three at the same time! I heard twins were always seen as a miracle in the dragon clan."
"Well, this is the golden dragon we're talking about here," Mai said and exchanged a warm smile with Joey.
"And I didn't help at all, apparently," Seto muttered, making everyone laugh.
They stayed like that for a few hours, sitting in Seto's and Joey's room, catching up on everything that had happened in the last few months. Serenity told them about all the things she had been through, and Joey in particular listened with proud eyes. His sister truly was an incredible queen.
A few hours before sundown, something happened. Of course, Joey and Seto were the first to notice when one of the eggs gave a violent shiver and started to twitch. A few seconds later, everyone had gathered in a large circle around the eggs, staring wide-eyed and silently.
As if the two other eggs had felt their brother's movements, they too started to twitch.
"It's time!" Mokuba breathed in an excited squeal. "They're hatching!"
"Isis…" Seto said softly, and the dark-haired healer, who had acted as nurse for the three eggs in the past few weeks, knew what he wanted right away. She walked over and placed her hands on one of the eggs, closing her eyes and taking deep breaths.
Slowly, as to not disturb the little one, she let her magic slip through the shell and into the drakling, calming and comforting it, as well as preparing it for what was to come. As soon as she was satisfied with the aura around that egg, she turned to the next one.
Joey watched the eggs move worriedly, and he could truly feel how distressed the small ones were. A violent, parental instinct which he had never felt before welled up inside him. He wanted to go over there and crack the shells open; help his children out, so he could see them, and touch them and admire them. But at the same time, he knew he couldn't. This process was just as important as the breathing hot air was. This way, the draklings would build their strength, as well as come into the real world at their own pace. Should Joey try to speed this up, he'd only expose them to reality too fast, and that might damage them.
Still, as the first crack appeared on one of the eggs and everyone gasped softly in wonder, he couldn't help but ache inside. They seemed to be struggling so much…
Seto moved in closer to him, and together they watched their kids fight their way out of the safe heavens which had now become their prisons.
It took almost an hour of squirming, pressing and pushing, but suddenly –finally- the first drakling seemed to think 'Okay, that's it!', because the egg gave a violent lurch, and at the same time as it toppled over forward, the part at the top went flying, and a small, shimmering body landed among the pillows right in front of its parents and their friends.
"That one's got Joey's genes, for sure," Bakura remarked, but no one heard him. They were too busy staring at the small wonder in front of them.
The baby-dragon seemed to be drowning among the squishy pillows. It gave a distraught, high-pitched mewl, sounding like a kitten, and Seto immediately reached out and lifted it gently (it was so small; fitting easily in his hand), placing it on his lower back instead, where it was safe from drowning.
Now everyone got a good luck at the newborn. It was, just as Mokuba had stated, a male, and he was very, very small. Tiny, tiny wings sprouted from his back (he didn't seem to know where to put them) and the scales, which hadn't really developed into scales yet, shimmered like pale gold when the sun hit them, while they seemed snowy white in the shadows. Even so tiny, he looked like a miniature Seto, only a little slenderer, like Joey. Huge, curious eyes stared at all of them; one blue, and one amber.
Joey had never in his whole life seen anything so beautiful.
"By the gods…" Ryou breathed, and everyone understood what he meant.
The drakling turned its round eyes towards Serenity, who was standing closest to Seto, and mewled again, in delight. It started walking towards her, but stumbled on Seto's scales and tumbled off of him clumsily, right into her arms.
"Definitely Joey's genes," Bakura muttered.
"Hello, little nephew," Serenity said softly, gazing into clear, innocent eyes. She didn't seem to mind the sudden armful of baby-dragon. "My, aren't you pretty."
She got another mewl in answer, and tiny teeth nibbled at a lock of her hair, before a small muzzle rubbed against her collarbone affectionately.
Watching all this, Seto felt a sudden wave of jealousy overcome him, mixing with the swelling pride, and he had to hide a scowl as he bent down and exhaled a hot breath over his son.
Recognizing the feeling immediately, the baby-dragon turned around and gazed up into sharp blue eyes. It gave another mewl, louder this time, and squirmed in Serenity's arms, as if to say: 'Put me down!' She obliged, loosening her grip, and the drakling immediately managed to crawl his way up onto Seto's muzzle, where he held in tight with small claws. Joey and the others couldn't help but laugh at the look on Seto's face as he slowly raised his head again, going cross-eyed as he tried to look at the baby sitting right on his head.
Joey's face was shining when he leaned over and breathed hot air on the baby as well. Once again, it squealed in delight and nuzzled Joey's face, obviously very happy to finally meet its parents.
"I believe congratulations are in order," Yami said with a large smile at his two friends, and Yugi held on to him even tighter. "Truly a beautiful child."
Everyone agreed to that enthusiastically.
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves," Isis told them softly, still sitting with her hands pressed to one of the eggs. "There are still two to go."
And so Seto and Joey made sure their first-born was sitting comfortably between Joey's folded wings, and then they returned to their anxious watching. They didn't have to wait as long this time. Barely five minutes later, the second egg cracked open, and a small head, identical to the first one, peeked out, giving a soft whine as it seemed to get stuck in the hole which was really too small for it. A few moments of squeezing did the trick though, and everyone gave a sigh of relief as the second one finally tumbled out onto the cushions, also almost drowning among them.
The third one was a lot less dramatic. The top of the egg came loose completely, and they all watched as it lifted up. Joey got a glimpse of one huge blue eye, before the egg clicked shut again.
"No need to be scared, little one," Mokuba told the egg encouragingly. "It's me; Uncle Mokuba, I'll protect you, I promise!"
And those words actually seemed to work, because the egg-hat lifted once again, and now two eyes became visible in the gap. A moment's hesitation, then the hatchling pushed the hat off, sitting there in the middle of the egg and looking up at Mokuba with a questioning look.
Mokuba just turned victorious eyes to Seto.
"See?" He said. "I told you they heard me!"
The rest of that afternoon was spent admiring the newborns. The triplets –males, all three of them- were identical; and they had a lot of spunk, even at this age. When the last one had finally fought his way out of his egg and gotten familiar with his parents, they had been placed together on Joey's back. They had sniffed each other for a few moments, and then the oldest one had promptly delivered a hard smack to the middle-brother's nose, making him squeal angrily.
"Did we ever fight like that?" Mokuba asked Seto as he helped his brother and Joey get the egg-shards out of the bed. All three of them glanced over to where the three small ones were wrestling on the floor, as if they hadn't at all been born only a few moments ago.
"Never," Seto assured him. "They do remind me of myself and Noah, though."
"Sibling rivalry," Joey almost cringed as the youngest of his children yelped in pain at a particularly bard bite from one of his brothers, and then started to whimper pitifully. "That will be the worst part of parenting, no doubt. Maybe we shouldn't have gotten three at the same time."
"As if we could have decided that," Seto said, watching as Mai, Yugi and Ryou bent down to pick up a drakling each and separate them. "It's not my fault that you're ridiculously fertile."
Joey sent him a poisonous glare while he walked over to comfort his youngest, who was still whimpering in Ryou's arms while Serenity and Isis stood beside him and tried to comfort him. Seto just smirked, and watched the scene playing out in front of him: his lover nuzzling their baby gently, making the little one feel better, while the other two snapped at each other playfully from Mai's and Yugi's embraces, while Duke and Tristan watched, laughing. Despite anything he might say, he knew that this was what he wanted. This was true happiness, and he would never want it ant other way. Sure, raising three babies at the same time wouldn't be easy, but since when did he and Joey do things easily?
No, this was right for them. And as he watched Joey take their child gently from Ryou and curl up with him on their bed, he knew that Joey felt the same, no matter what he said.
"Oh my god!"
Everyone's heads snapped up at the exclamation, and Seto's eyes widened as he caught sight of Malik and Marik standing in the doorway, dressed in travelling-clothes and with their bags still slung over their shoulders. It was almost a year since the two had left on another expedition to find any more dragons, just like Malik had promised he would do, but they hadn't changed one bit. Still as blond, and still as crazy. Marik stepped into the room with a wide grin.
"Spawns!" he exclaimed, looking like a child on Christmas Eve. "We're gone for a year, and come home to a bunch of Spawns! Awesome!"
Malik just sighed and rolled his eyes as Marik practically bounced over to Mai, Tristan and Duke to get a better look at the oldest of Seto's and Joey's sons. It took him two minutes to get bitten.
"Welcome back," Seto told Malik, whom had walked over and bowed in front of him. He didn't look at the blond, though; he was too busy keeping an eye on Marik, to make sure the deranged werewolf didn't scare his children (so far, the two oldest seemed to be holding their own: they were growling warningly at Marik while all the grownups laughed heartily and Marik just kept provoking them). "It's good to see you again."
"Likewise, master Seto," Malik said, and now, when Seto finally turned to look at him, he noticed that something seemed to have changed. Malik looked… at peace. As if he'd accomplished everything he was supposed to. As if he'd found and fulfilled the meaning of his life. Isis had looked the same for weeks and weeks after granting Seto his wish four years ago.
Wait a minute…
The blond turned to look at him, and when blue met violet… he smiled. A true, sincere smile.
"Come with me, master Seto," Malik said almost softly, and turned and walked out of the room.
Seto felt as if something thick had clogged up his throat, but he still followed the young explorer out of his bedroom, away from his quickly expanding family, and down the corridor towards the cave-entrance.
Malik stopped in the half circle-shaped opening, looking up at the sky with the same peaceful smile on his lips. Seto stood beside him, gazing upwards as well. He felt as if his heart would explode.
"I did it," Malik stated softly, even though there was really no need. "It took me a long time… and it wasn't easy… but just like my sister, I fulfilled my duty towards you. I found them. I'm done."
"…Indeed you are," Seto said softly, and for the first time ever, his voice was trembling with restrained feelings. "Good job."
"Seto?" He heard the golden love of his life say from behind him, and Joey stepped up beside him, so close that they were touching. Their youngest was sitting on top of Joey's head, studying his father with the same puzzled expression as Joey. Mokuba stepped up on Seto's other side, one of the other baby-dragons sitting on his back. The third one was held in the arms of Serenity, who now stood beside Joey. The rest of the gang gathered around them, everyone just as curious as to what was going on. Malik, on the other hand, took a step back, finding and gripping Marik's hand, and smiling when the werewolf squeezed it gently.
Everyone gasped when they looked outside, and Seto felt his heart beat faster as Joey pressed close to him. The slender, golden body was trembling as bad as Seto's own.
"Well, this is a sight you don't see everyday," Tristan remarked, sounding breathless and awed, and no one answered or objected. They had no words for the sight. Even Bakura was struck speechless.
But in some way, Joey still managed to lean in to Seto, press their bodies closer together, and caress his cheek in something akin to a kiss. There were no words needed after that; they understood each other completely, and Seto had never loved him more than right then.
They were alive, they were together, and they had their whole life in front of them. Things still needed to be done and explained, new duties would arise along the way… but right now, they just watched, silently and happily, as the sky was almost completely covered in the powerful, shimmering, beautiful bodies of over a hundred different dragons.
Today is where you both begin
The rest is still Unwritten