Author's Note: I ended "A Smile and a Laugh" with Valon's idea that he, Alister, and Raphael could pay a visit to Domino, so here is the sequel, which features the trio en route to Domino. Disclaimer: I don't own these characters; I randomly gave one of Alister's old friends the name Marco. Special thanks to LuckyLadybug for plotline ideas!
The summer air was filled with the roars of motorcycles as they sped through old roads. Sunlight gleamed off of the polished chrome of three bikes.
The second rider, his hair a rich shade of maroon, was watching the scenery go by. The sight wasn't foreign to him at all; he had seen these very sights years and years ago. Memories returned to his mind of the family and friends that he had once known and now missed.
"I can't believe it's been thirteen years since the last time I was here…" he thought.
And yet it was. But even though that time had elapsed, he was still able to remember the road that he was now traveling on. He knew that the ruins of his old hometown would be appearing to the left, just visible at the end of a side road that would soon be diverging from the road that he and his companions were on.
And they came. The effect was powerful, and the young man was forced to pull over to the side of the road to collect his thoughts as he stared at the place that he had once called "home."
The blond-haired man who had been traveling behind him stopped short upon noticing him. It took the brunet-haired rider in front a moment to look into his side mirrors and finally notice that his companions had fallen behind.
"Oy!" he exclaimed, hastily pulling an about-face. "What gives?"
"Are you sure that U-turn was allowed, Valon?" the blond man asked him in a gruff voice.
"Aw, come on, Raph!" Valon replied, with a grin. "There was no sign that said I couldn't!" He turned to the redhead. "You alright, Alister?"
"Huh?" he asked, his thoughts traversing his memories. "Yeah, I'm fine."
"Maybe we need to take a break," offered Raphael. "It isn't a good sign if you're starting to space out."
"Look; I told you I'm fine," Alister insisted. "I just… saw that place… that's where I grew up… that was where…" He trailed off as he remembered his younger brother. "If it's alright with you two, I'd like to take a look around. You two go on ahead, and I'll catch up with you later, okay?"
"'Course not; who do you think we are?" asked Valon, in mock-outrage. "We don't mind resting for a spell, right, Raph?"
Raphael gave a curt nod in agreement, and the three riders all took the side road which lead to the ruins of the town.
They had left their bikes right outside of town and chose to look around on foot.
"This place is depressing…" thought Valon, not wanting to voice the sentiment aloud. "How long has it been like this?"
Alister was also finding the sights quite saddening. Even after all of the dust had settled, the villagers had chosen to abandon the town. That had been their idea of moving on. For him, it wasn't enough. It only made the memories of his childhood all the more vivid.
"We must be the first people to stop here in years," he commented.
"Alister, are you sure this isn't too difficult for you?" asked Raphael. He, too, could sympathize with missing friends and family from days past. Memories, whether good or otherwise, could be very powerful indeed. And he knew that as well as Alister did.
"I'm sure," the red-haired youth answered. "This could be… what I need."
"You don't have to leave your memories here, you know," said Valon, wondering if that was Alister's plan. "You don't want to forget the good times."
He was taking a risk with that remark; he wasn't sure if Alister had experienced any good times during his childhood here. And judging by the state of things, happy memories would have probably been few and far between.
But he didn't have to worry; there were good memories. Alister could remember how he and his old group of friends got together and threw his younger brother an impromptu birthday party in their secret hideout. The look on his brother's face that day was one memory that Alister always carried with him.
Then there was the old diner; that had been a favorite haunt of the brothers and their friends. The owner never minded them hanging around; in fact, it got to the point where he considered the boys as his best customers. Alister could still remember the taste of the sandwiches they ordered every time they came. Times were difficult, but somehow, they always found the time for fun. Of course, that was before Dartz ruined everything for him.
Could he forgive Dartz? Alister wasn't sure. True, he had forgiven Seto Kaiba, and that had been before he had learned that the young CEO had been blameless. But Dartz was the direct reason why this town was now abandoned… and why Alister was now alone.
"Spy at 3:00!" Valon exclaimed, bringing Alister to the present.
Alister looked up in time to see the shadow of a retreating person vanish from sight.
"Did you see who it was?" he asked.
"Only a fleeting glimpse," said Raphael, his eyes narrowed.
"Come on!" said Valon, leading the chase.
Valon and Raphael followed the path that the spy had taken, but Alister, knowing the town as well as he did, took a shortcut through an alleyway. He leaped out into the path of a cloaked man, blocking the man's escape. The startled man turned to go back the way he came, but found the other way blocked by Valon and Raphael, who had caught up soon after.
"Who are you!? What are you doing here!?" demanded Valon.
"I could ask you the same question!" the cloaked man replied, acting far more confident that he felt, intimidated by the three.
Alister paused upon hearing the man's voice; he sounded vaguely familiar.
"Marco?" he asked, incredulously.
The man removed the hood of his cloak and glanced back at Alister.
"No way!" he exclaimed. "Alister!?"
The two former friends greeted each other; it had been thirteen long years since they had seen each other, but memories of true friendships never fade.
As they talked, Valon and Raphael decided it to be prudent not to interfere.
"Come on, Raph; I wanna see what else was in this town," said Valon. "Hey, Alister! We'll meet up with you later, alright?"
"New friends of yours?" asked Marco.
"Yeah," he said. "Met them sometime after I left. You know, I always intended to come back… but not like this…"
"I know…" Marco replied, bitterly. "I can't believe that no on else ever shared that thought. You're the first person who has come by in years."
"Years!?" exclaimed Alister. "Don't tell me you never left!"
"Where was I supposed to go?" he asked. "I work at a town nearby, but I furnished up the old hideout… great little place…"
"I can't believe I'm saying this," said Alister. "But maybe you should… get out of here."
"What about you? You came back…"
"To visit," Alister reminded him. "I wasn't planning on moving back here."
"Aw, come on; it'd be a great idea!" said Marco. "We can try and find out where everyone else went off to… we can try to bring them back!"
Valon and Raphael had been traversing a side alley, and both of them heard this last part of the conversation.
"Do you reckon he would?" asked Valon, not sure of what Alister would think of the idea.
"I can't really blame him," said Raphael. "I'm sure he'd like to see this place active again."
"Yeah, but… he was coming with us to Domino, wasn't he?"
"Valon, neither of us have the right to ask him to abandon his past," said Raphael. "He just met a friend that he thought he'd never see again."
Valon kicked a small rock in frustration.
"We're his friends," he said, slightly bitter. "Or so I thought…"
"Valon…" said Raphael, in a stern tone.
"Aww, now you're going into 'big brother' mode again…" said Valon.
"We can't force Alister to choose," Raphael went on. "But we are still his friends."
"Yeah, I know," said Valon, with a sigh. "Mai's still our friend, too, even though she went back to her friends. Wasn't that why we were going to Domino in the first place?"
"Exactly," said Raphael. "Alister will catch up with us when he's ready to move on. You were the one telling him not to leave his memories behind."
"That was before I knew that he'd actually be staying here…"
Meanwhile, Alister was still talking to his old friend, unsure of what to think about the prospect of staying here.
"I don't understand why you didn't leave with all of the others, though," he said.
"I couldn't leave," Marco replied, and Alister could sense the bitterness in his voice. "I don't understand how anyone could… how anyone could've…" He trailed off, which prompter Alister to inspect his own thoughts.
Marco hadn't been able to move on. But had he?
"Marco…" said Alister. "What if I told you that I know who did this to us?"
Marco glanced at him.
"I really do know who did this," Alister informed him. "He's the reason why I left 13 years ago. But he's also the reason why I became friends with Valon and Raphael. His name is Dartz." He sighed, answering the question he had asked himself only minutes earlier. "And I've forgiven him."
Marco stared at him in amazement.
"Well… I guess we all can't be as forgiving as you," he said at last. "So, you're not going to stay? Think about it… how awesome would it be to order sandwiches from the diner again? How cool would it be to see this place like it was before?"
"It'd be great," Alister agreed. "But is that really in our hands?"
"Guess not," said Marco. "But we could try, couldn't we?"
Alister had to admit that the prospect of seeing the town again, perhaps even fixing some of it up, was a good one. And he would get a chance to catch up with Marco and talk about what had happened these past years. But, in that time, he had also formed a friendship with Valon and Raphael. He knew he couldn't idly discard a friendship, whether old or new. And despite however wild and crazy as Valon was, or how stern and cold Raphael was, he knew that he'd miss them.
"Tell you what," said Alister. "I'll come by and visit again, now that I know you're here. How does that sound?"
"Sounds great," said Marco. He glanced around at the town. "Though, now that you mention it, I think I'll get an apartment in the next town. I'll let you know how that works out."
"Hope it does," said Alister. Marco appeared to be starting to move on at last. And if Alister had helped him accomplish that mammoth task, then their chance meeting had been well worth it. "See you around."
Valon was readying his bike outside the village entrance when Raphael cleared his throat.
"Looks like there'll be three of us going to Domino," he remarked.
Valon looked back to see Alister approaching them.
"You're coming with us?" he asked, trying to hide his amazement.
"Why not?" Alister asked. "You were right; we shouldn't abandon memories. But that doesn't mean we should dwell on them forever. And I think I found what I was looking for."
He could feel a slight happiness in his heart. Part of it was his, but he knew that he was somehow feeling his brother's happiness, too. Mikey would have been happy to see that Marco had succeeded in moving on, as well.
"To Domino?" Alister asked his companions.
"To Domino!" repeated Valon. He was so enthusiastic that even Raphael had to smile in amusement.
Alister cast one last glance back upon his old hometown, and then he followed his friends back to the main road, looking forward to see what Domino held in store for them.