Chapter LI: Shadows

Greetings, true believers! Okay, why am I channeling Stan Lee? I haven't a clue, but I'm going with it. Anyway, hello again after what seems to be a rather short absence this time. As you can see, I've had some comedic moments on my mind, owing perhaps to how serious the Yugi-verse gets at times. It also helps that I've had a little extra time when I'm not feeling so tired. So now we come to a more serious chapter…

Legal stuff: No, I don't own the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise or its related characters. I just play in the sandbox and bring my own toys.

"Okay, Joey, I want you to take it easy and not overdo in gym again," Lisa sighed about two weeks after the warehouse fire. She sat in her friend's bedroom, taking his pulse on Friday afternoon after he'd been brought home from school. "You still seem to be low on energy. What were you doing?"

"Tryin' to shoot six dodgeballs at once," he admitted sleepily. "Didn't think it'd take that much outta me."

"Well, tonight I want you to just rest. If Mai comes over, just watch a movie and eat." Lisa managed to get herself out of the chair and cover her patient back over with his favorite blue blanket. "Get up only if you have to and just chill."

"Yes, Mom," he teased. "But why are ya bein' so clear about Mai and me?"

"Because I think we've all been sensing your dates lately. Just remember you have five more days to your eighteenth birthday, so rest up tonight and the weekend," she sighed, also fixing his pillows and his water glass. "Trust me on this."

Joey shuddered, but it wasn't because of what his friend had told him. "Leese, can we talk a minute? It's not about my birthday. I already know somethin' I'm doin' for that. I've been havin' dreams lately and I think Mai has been too. She looks at me like something bad's going to happen to me."

"If it's not too personal, what's your dream about?"

Joey composed himself and began…

Y

I really wish you hadn't shown us Revolutionary Girl Utena, Leese. I dreamed I was going through some kind of wasteland, with lots of broken machines and wrecked buildings. I saw a big metal tower and got to a door. It opened for me and I got in. There was an elevator in the center and Mai was waiting for me… Yeah, she was dressed in that girl's dress, but it was purple instead of red. She rode up with me and then when I looked at her again, she was in the outfit she wore at Duelist Kingdom.

You guys were all there and you were pretty big… What? You were! Sorry! But yeah, so you and the rest of the gang were there and I was wearin' that new duel disk of Seto's on my arm. And then… there was this guy. I couldn't see what he looked like, but I could… Leese, you know how you feel scared going down a dark alley at night? This was like that but a heck of a lot stronger. I could see his silhouette and he was holdin' a scepter or something. And then he summoned this big bird thing. It was bright gold, and then it caught on fire. You guys all screamed and the bird attacked…

Y

"…Leese, I felt the fire burnin' me," Joey finished, blanching. "That's when I woke up. I get the feelin' that bird's not just symbolizing a fear, you know?"

"Mai told me about her dream. Whatever that bird is, it's something we need to look for," Lisa said. "I wish I had better control of future visions. None of us seems to have that ability strong enough to control it." She frowned, brows furrowing.

Joey chuckled. "Leese, worryin' about it won't help. 'Sides, you already have other crap to worry about," he concluded seriously. "Whatever this bird is, we'll all face it when it comes. So any other orders, doc?"

"Just rest, plenty of fluids and no practice tonight, okay? You okay here until your mom or Serenity gets home?"

"Yeah," Joey said, snuggling down in his blankets. "See you later, Leese."

Lisa left the Wheeler residence, her face worried as she headed for the Muto residence. Domino was bathed in warm golden light, the fading afternoon winter sunlight streaming through breaks in the clouds. What is coming? she wondered. A dark cloud flitted across one of the golden rays. She frowned, the image of herself, her friends and her family standing on a roof with their lightsabers drawn stretching out in front of her. It's coming, whatever it is, and we've got to be ready for it.

A half-hour later, she sat in the Mutos' living room checking Yugi over. "Looks like you're well on the road to recovery," she said as she put away her equipment. "You seem to be breathing fine, but Yugi, I get the feeling you're still kicking yourself a bit." His eyes glistened suspiciously. "I don't think you should."

"But Lisa… Joey, Tristan and Teá had to save us. And they got hurt," he said, confirming her suspicion as his eyes spilled over a little. "And Joey's still hurt!"

"Yugi, can I hug you?" she asked. He nodded and held on for a long moment. She hugged him tightly as she would if it were Mokuba needing comfort. "Do you know why they risked their lives for you?" she asked when he relaxed his hold. His anguished eyes met hers. "Don't forget that we all love you and want to help. And that includes going through fire."

The anguish did not leave his eyes. "I know, Lisa. I just don't want you guys getting hurt. Is Joey okay, though?"

"Yeah, he just tired himself out," she answered with a smile. "He'll be just fine with some rest this weekend. I think he'll be back in school on Monday if he behaves."

The pain in his eyes didn't abate, though he did manage a smile. "I think we'll all make sure of that. Remember what we planned for Tuesday night?"

"Tuesday night? We're not doing anything on the actual day?" she asked, getting him comfortable on the couch.

"Mai called it. She wants to make Joey a dinner for two," he answered. "But… she doesn't know that plays into what Joey wants."

"Oh?"

"Yeah." There went the anguish, replaced by mischief. "I've had to keep my shields up since I got out of the hospital because of this. Joey's going to ask Mai to marry him."

Lisa's eyes widened. "So that's what he's been keeping from us! Well played, Joey," she grinned. "Don't worry, I'll keep it locked away so she doesn't find out. I knew she wanted to do the dinner, but I didn't think it'd be on the actual day! But what does your grandpa think about Joey asking Mai?"

Yugi frowned slightly. "Well, he says that Joey and Mai are both old enough to decide what they want to do with their lives and that if they want to get married, he's happy. And Joey told him if Mai says yes, they'll wait a year until Joey's gotten into college."

Lisa patted his shoulder. "Then I wish them well… or will when the time comes."

"Thanks, Lisa. Are you okay to get home?" Yugi asked. "It looks like you walked here."

"I did, but Bryce is close with the car," she said. "It's okay, Yugi, I needed the exercise. I'll find my way out." She bade him goodbye and headed out.

"Is Yugi all right?" the brown-haired security guard asked as he helped Lisa into the car.

"Yeah, Bryce," she answered. "Correction: physically he's fine. Mentally is another story, though I did get him to laugh a little. The fire really shook him."

Bryce nodded. "I think it shook everyone, even Mr. Kaiba."

"Has it?" she asked, staring out into the city. He doesn't let me close anymore… I know he doesn't let Mokuba in either. How do I know it's shaken him?

The security man frowned slightly at his principal. "Mrs. Kaiba… Lisa, he may not show it, but Roland and I have watched him a long time. We were part of general security and that meant we got to see him a lot. You know how he knocks a pen against the top of the desk?"

"Yeah, he does that when he's tense," she answered and then turned to face Bryce. "Bryce, did he pace?"

Bryce nodded. "After he, Mokuba and Miss Wheeler felt the disturbance, he started pacing the office. It wasn't until you called that he stopped. He also sensed how you were right after. He might've headed right out of the office, but he knew he'd better wait. But he didn't relax until well after we knew your friends would be all right."

Lisa's face relaxed. "Thanks, Bryce. Keep letting me know stuff like this, okay? I need to know the man I married is still in there somewhere."

"He is, Lisa," Bryce said, giving her a hug.

The rest of the ride was silent. When Lisa got in the door, it was also quiet. Mokuba usually greeted her at the door or yelled down to her. The lack of such greetings made her stretch out her senses. "He's not here," Seto said, coming out of the blue sitting room and startling her. "Guess you weren't looking for me."

"I thought you might still be at the office. What's up?"

"Head upstairs and get dressed," he said as she noted the black pants and top he was wearing, as well as the billowy purple coat. "We're going out. Mokuba's over at the Taylors' tonight. They invited him over and I asked if they'd keep him tonight."

"Where are we going?" she asked, heading for the stairs.

"The museum. I was… personally invited there by the curator of the Egyptian exhibit. I wanted you to come with me." He followed her to the bedroom and into the walk-in closet. He frowned slightly, going through her dresses. "This one," he said finally, holding out a blue long-sleeved V-neck maternity dress.

Her eyebrow raised and a half-smile graced her lips. "Isn't that the one you picked because it showed off my…?"

"It is," he said curtly. "Get it on and we can go. She has instructed me to be there in an hour."

"All right," she sighed, grabbing a pair of stockings and fresh undergarments from her delicates drawer as well.

Y

Less than an hour later, the Kaiba limo pulled up to the museum. "So, she told you that she had something more powerful than Exodia?"

"I couldn't let an opportunity like that pass me by," he answered, stepping out of the car when Roland opened the door and moved to help his wife out of the car. "And I figured that you might enjoy seeing this."

She managed a smile at that as she took his arm to go up the stone steps. "I definitely will."

His expression softened, but quickly hardened again as they walked through the main entrance. A woman with dark hair and large blue eyes was waiting for them. She was clad in a white gown and wore a golden necklace around her neck. Her eyes narrowed slightly. "Mr. Kaiba, I believe I told you to come alone."

"Excuse me, Miss…?" Lisa began.

"Ishtar. You may call me Ishizu," the dark-haired woman said, a light smirk on her lips.

"Ishizu, then. I'm his wife, Lisa," the white-blonde stated coldly, her own eyes narrowing.

The slight smirk did not disappear, though there was now an added sparkle in the Egyptian woman's eyes. "Pleased to meet you, Mrs. Kaiba. Will you be all right on this little private tour? It is a bit of a walk."

Lisa's eyes flashed. Oh, I ought to slam her against the wall for that!

Seto caught it. Calm down, she didn't mean anything by it! he sent somewhat sternly.

I'm pregnant, not weak, she countered, frustrated. Outwardly, she smiled. "I'm sure I can manage just fine, Ishizu, thank you."

"Just let one of my people know and they will assist you," Ishizu said, the seeming sparkle disappearing from her eyes. "This way, please."

Seto nodded, keeping an eye on his wife. Lisa followed, noticing the other woman's backward glance. "So, Ishizu, tell us a little about yourself," she said, opening up her scanning abilities and focusing on the other woman's possible talents. Sure enough, there was a Jedi sense about the Egyptian woman, but Lisa could feel something else. Her necklace… it's a Millennium Item, Seto! she sent to her husband who nodded ever so slightly.

"I am from outside of Cairo and have been a curator of this exhibit since I was sixteen," Ishizu said. "I personally suggested this venue for this collection since this state was at the center of the modern Duel Monsters game."

Lisa nodded and stretched a little further. She's holding something back from us, she sent.

Let's just see where this goes, Seto sent back. "You said something about a card more powerful than Exodia, Ishizu. I don't like being kept waiting," he said in his "business meeting" tone.

"All will be revealed," Ishizu answered. "Tell me, Mr. and Mrs. Kaiba, do either of you believe in destiny?"

Seto frowned slightly. In another life, he might have answered flippantly about how it didn't matter really, but the past couple of years had changed his views. He laid a hand on his wife's arm. Her eyebrow raised slightly, but at his expression, she answered. "To some degree. I think our abilities let us into the knowledge that some things are meant to happen, like who we've met and become friends with. But I'm guessing you're referring to the Egyptian concept of destiny which argues that history is cyclical rather than simply linear events, correct?"

Ishizu nodded, turning back to the white-blonde woman. "That is quite correct… Lisa, right?" At her nod, the Egyptian woman continued, "And history is replete with examples of this, though I imagine you might argue it is because humans don't tend to learn their lessons quickly."

"That's right," Lisa agreed, withdrawing her scans and relaxing slightly. "So what lesson must we learn, and what have you promised Seto?"

"Follow me, then. What I am about to show you both will alter how you view Duel Monsters."

They nodded and followed. Lisa, are you all right? Seto sent, getting her to take his arm as they went down a somewhat steep staircase.

I'm okay, she sent back, the slight smile staying on her lips. Stay on your guard. She doesn't want to hurt us, but I don't think she's telling us the whole truth about things. Keep your guard up.

He nodded, sending back, I didn't want you to trip. "Ishizu, what are we about to…?" And then a series of track lighting turned on, revealing several large stone tablets in cases.

"Behold, the origin of Duel Monsters," Ishizu said somewhat dramatically.

Seto and Lisa both stared. "These figures… are they Duel Monsters?" the doctor asked softly, her right hand reaching out to the case she and her husband were closest to.

"Yes," Ishizu answered, moving close to the couple. She pointed at the three hieroglyphs representing three very powerful monsters. "These are the Egyptian god monsters, Obelisk the Tormentor, Slifer the Sky Dragon and the Winged Dragon of Ra."

At the mention of the last monster, Lisa swayed where she stood as the museum disappeared. A metallic floor replaced the museum's polished concrete, and she could feel the warm wind whipping around her. The great golden bird loomed above her, transforming… The heat from its fiery body had the intensity of a desert summer breeze as it became…

"A phoenix," she muttered as she blinked, the tablet coming into focus once more. "That's what the Winged Dragon of Ra is…"

"Lisa?" She could feel his arm around her. "Are you all right?" She breathed and managed a slight smile.

"Yeah, I'm okay, Seto. Just… I think I understood something else."

"Are you all right to continue the tour, Lisa?" Ishizu asked, frowning.

"Yes, Ishizu, I'm all right. Thank you." Lisa straightened and smiled.

Reassured, the young curator nodded. "As I was saying, these three monsters are the Egyptian god monsters. Hold one and entire armies can be destroyed with a single attack. Wield all three and the very planet will tremble in terror. But one must be a chosen duelist in order to wield them."

Seto met Lisa's eyes and then regarded Ishizu quietly. "That explains why if Max made these cards, he didn't use them against me at Duelist Kingdom. He couldn't control them, could he?"

"No," Ishizu answered. "He asked me to place them where no one could find them. Unfortunately, a group known as Rare Hunters found two of the hiding places and stole the cards within. But before I discuss the third card, there is another tablet you both must see." She led them over to the next hulking tablet. "This, Seto Kaiba, will tell you about your past and your future!"

The Kaiba couple stared. "That's… oh my gosh," Lisa breathed. "Seto… that's you!" she gasped, pointing at the figure on the left part of the tablet.

"And that's Yugi," Seto exclaimed, stunned at the unmistakable image on the right. "How is this even possible?!"

Ishizu pointed, completely relaxed and briefly explained the conflicts that resulted in the battle depicted on the tablet. "You have both correctly identified the combatants in this ancient battle, but no one knows who won. Perhaps a trip into the past will help you understand what has occurred before…" Her necklace glowed brightly, momentarily blinding the couple.

When the light faded, the Kaibas stared at the scene below them. "What is this place?" Lisa whispered in the smoky scene. The room almost seemed to glow in the ancient torchlight. A figure with very familiar spiky hair sat in a golden limestone throne, observing a visitor to his chamber.

"I am here to present a challenge to the Pharaoh!" an all-too-familiar voice rang out from the visitor in the rounded purple hat and matching cloak.

Seto Kaiba frowned at his doppelganger. "You've got to be kidding me. I'm the ancient sorcerer," he groaned softly.

Ishizu's disembodied voice floated in the air. "These two young men fought a great deal. The sorcerer was a loyal member of the Pharaoh's court, but turned against him. This duel is one of many battles…"

And so they watched as the battle raged. "That guy is a chump," Seto muttered. "He talks big, but he's pathetic!"

"That guy who's dueling on the Pharaoh's behalf… Who is that?" Lisa tried reaching out with her powers, but her scan was deflected back.

"No idea," he muttered. The battle supposedly concluded with the sorcerer's triumph and the two found themselves back in the museum with the enigmatic Ishizu.

"Do you believe me?" she asked them.

The couple exchanged glances. "Honestly, this doesn't surprise either of us," Seto answered. "I think we've known for some time that we have some connection to ancient times. However, we're intent on making sure certain events don't repeat themselves. I'm not going to doom the world, Ishizu."

"I didn't say you were the one," she countered with a slight smirk. She reached into a fold on her dress and pulled out a card.

Lisa's mouth dropped open. "Obelisk the Tormentor… So you have this card, Ishizu?"

"I acquired it when I realized the other two were gone. The Rare Hunters will stop at nothing to take this card, but if used by the right duelist, they will not be able to. I am not meant to wield this card now, but your husband is meant to. My proposal is this: Seto Kaiba, can you put together a tournament in a few weeks? If I am correct, the missing god cards will be brought here…"

Seto caught the line of thought. "You'd prefer a system, Ishizu, where duelists wager cards, right?" At her nod, he smirked. "That gives the winner of the tournament a great advantage. He'd have a very strong deck and many rare cards. And if you're right about this, he'd have all three god cards at his disposal. This will draw those Rare Hunters like vultures to a carcass."

"Yes, it…" Ishizu trailed off as Lisa began to gag. "Lisa?" The pregnant woman had turned a most unattractive shade of green. "Oh, my! There's a bathroom..!" She grabbed Lisa by the shoulders and quickly led her to said lavatory. They made it just in time.

A few minutes later, they stepped back out. "I'm okay," Lisa said as Seto moved to her, his face and emotions guarded. "Just don't make me think of road kill again," she groaned.

"I'll do my best not to. Ishizu, I will make the arrangements for this tournament. But don't be so sure you'll get this back. If you will excuse us, the preparations must begin and my wife must get home. Thank you for your assistance," he said, taking Lisa on his arm.

"You are welcome. Good evening, Seto and Lisa Kaiba," she said as they strode up the stairs.

Y

"Do you mind telling me what that was about back there?" Seto demanded as the limo pulled away from the Domino Museum.

"What was what about?" she asked, feeling her own emotions boil against his anger. "If you're mad at me because I got sick…"

"It's not that. What in the hell did you want to Jedi Strike her against the wall for? And you were tense with her most of the evening!"

Lisa drew herself up. "She was making passes at you!"

Seto's jaw dropped slightly. "Are you actually jealous? And… on what basis are you thinking she made passes at me?"

Lisa's face became the color of a stoplight. "She was…" She mumbled something incoherent.

"What?" Seto prompted.

"She… she was looking at your package!"

He scanned her quickly. Her emotions were a turbulent storm and jealousy was the controlling wind. But what she had just said… "She… What?" His own face felt warm.

"She was looking at your package, Seto! You know what that means!" she snarled.

Seto might've snarled back, but he suddenly realized something. "Did you actually scan her for her intentions toward me, Lisa?"

That did it. Her face paled and she thought. "No, I didn't. But…"

"No buts. Lisa, I'm still going to have to do business with this woman, and I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of her. So use what you have and get over this jealousy. What reason do you have to think someone would turn my head?"

She mulled over her response. "I really don't have one. I just… never mind. I'm sorry, okay? I just don't like other women looking at you like that."

He sighed, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. "Just relax about it, all right? Let's go home and relax. Was the new dress comfortable?"

"It was," she answered. They made small talk the rest of the way back to the mansion. Seto fingered the new card in his hand while they did.

Y

Meanwhile, back at the Muto home, Yugi lay in bed wide awake. Yugi, are you having trouble? Yami sent through their mindlink.

Yeah, I guess, Yugi admitted. I know it's been a week since we got out of the hospital, but… Yami…

In the landscape of their shared mind, Yugi met his spirit brother's eyes. "Yami, I'm scared. I could've lost you in that fire. And if Joey hadn't been able to raise his shields, I could've lost him and Tristan and Teá if she hadn't been able to raise hers! How many people could've died because I was stupid?!"

Yami sighed; Yugi's emotional turmoil the last couple of weeks had been rather obvious. "Yugi, you weren't stupid. As I understand it, Bandit Keith had to rip the Millennium Puzzle away from you. You did not just hand it to him. And then you did not just give up. You went after him and used your abilities to save me and yourself. You feel like you failed two weeks ago, don't you?" At Yugi's nod, he continued, "You didn't fail me or anyone. And Bandit Keith is safe where he is."

Yugi nodded, though his eyes were unusually bright. "I just… Yami, I couldn't stand it if any of you got hurt or worse because of me."

Yami hugged his spirit brother tightly for a long moment. The smaller boy held on. "Yugi, do you remember what happened at Duelist Kingdom when we dueled Pegasus?" Yugi looked up to see Yami's eyes shining a bit too. "I was frightened I'd lost you forever when…"

"I know you all saved me that day, Yami. But I never totally understood how."

Yami got control of himself quickly. "Your grandfather came to me and said that our friends kept your spirit alive. At that time, I realized just how powerful friendship is. It actually saved us both from Pegasus's evil. I think that is the best explanation. But… I still remember how I felt when I thought you had been…" He again felt the knot in his throat and felt Yugi's still form in his arms, even as the real boy hugged him tightly. When he had control again, he looked down slightly at his spirit brother. "Aibou, I couldn't have lost you. And I wouldn't now."

Yugi finally managed a smile. "I won't lose you either, big brother. I don't know what's coming, but I've got to believe we can face this together and win. And one other thing… he's your grandpa too. I meant it when I called you big brother. You're part of our family too, Yami. I know you're 5000 years old, but still, you and I share a body. That's got to count for something. Whatever happens, we're family and we're going to stick together."

"And I want you to believe in not just our friends and in me, Yugi, but in yourself as well," Yami stated gently. "You are far stronger than you think."

Yugi blinked and found himself back in his bedroom. I am stronger since you came. And he finally managed to drift off to sleep.

And this is where I end the chapter, folks! It seems Yugi is a bit more on edge in this timeline, even with his new gifts. It also seems that no one in the group is infallible when it comes to their powers. I do hope you enjoyed this latest chapter. In our next installment, it's Joey's eighteenth birthday celebration and the whole gang is invited! So join us next time for Yub Nub! Until then, see you soon!