Part IV: Shut Away
The sun had already begun its ascent and a dark grey dawn was spreading over the ocean when the pair slowly became aware of the fact that they were sitting together on the duel platform. Even though Kaiba realized that he still had his arms wrapped around Yami defensively, he didn't try to do anything to change the situation. Instead they sat there, both of them panting heavily as they tried to reorient themselves. Opening his hand, Yami watched as the glow faded from the center of the necklace and he set it gently on the ground, not wanting to touch it any more than he had to at the moment.
Resting his head against Yami's shoulder as he continued trying to breathe, Kaiba managed to ask, "What the fuck was that?"
"It showed us what we wanted to see," Yami replied, realizing that he was going to have to shower when he got back to the room. He was drenched in sweat and his body felt absolutely exhausted by everything that had just occurred. At least he had come away with his entire mind in tact, something for which he was deeply grateful.
"Who the hell would want to see that?" Kaiba demanded to know, realizing that as calm as Yami sounded, his body was trembling.
"I don't know," Yami answered softly, lapsing into silence as he tried to regain his composure. He had learned about more memories than he had thought possible for a single vision, but it was too much. It wasn't fair that Kaiba had been drug into it too, but then again, it seemed like he was deeply entwined with these threads of fate, whether he liked or not. How much more harm would come to those who were involved? Was it really worth his selfish desire to know more? Was he really willing to sacrifice those close to him in such a manner?
After their breathing had mostly returned to normal, they still sat unmoving as they each tried to settle the emotions inside of their own minds. Yami was the first to speak, finally telling Kaiba, "Thanks for pulling me away from him." It was important to Yami to say it now since he had a suspicion that tomorrow Kaiba would be denying this ever happened, or at the very least, refusing to ever speak about it again.
Kaiba almost missed hearing that since he had not been paying complete attention in his attempt to compartmentalize his own issues over the matter. "You're welcome," Kaiba mumbled, the words feeling strange to him.
Yami hesitated for a moment before asking, "Why did you?" He felt Kaiba tense up at the question, his grip around Yami's waist subtly tightening.
He wanted to make a sarcastic comment about stopping the other's screams, to say anything to hide the real reasons, but no words would come. After some amount of time, Kaiba answered truthfully, "I just did," not really sure if it was his desire to keep his rival in this time or if it was simply because he had been temporarily influenced by the onslaught of memories he had been subjected to. All he had known at that time was that he had to get to him before it was too late, whatever that had meant.
It was the same thing as the current moment for Kaiba. He wasn't sure why he was refusing to release Yami, or why the other hadn't tried to free himself yet; Kaiba just held him and Yami just allowed himself to be held—it was as simple as that for Kaiba. There was some small whisper in the back of his mind, a voice he refused to acknowledge that was being unusually active and annoying at the moment. It was trying to convince him that he didn't want to let go, because the moment he did, everything would return to normal for them. But as they sat now, it was a moment outside of reality, something that Kaiba could later write off as an extension of his late night hallucination. So if he wanted to allow himself to worry that if he didn't hold on tightly, the spirit might truly disappear, it was fine as long as he didn't let go. Even if he was being influenced by the whims and desires of an ancient incarnation, it could only be considered a possible excuse so long as the other remained in his embrace.
Yami understood it as well, knowing that the instant they separated they would return to their respective positions of fierce rivals. It was why he made no attempt to move, had no desire or intention to free himself from the comfort of Kaiba's arms encircling around him possessively. Even though he knew he would find a new way to torture himself with the memory of this moment, Yami allowed it to continue. All of the other memories he had just seen, they had all been of a different version of himself in a different time, but this was happening to him as he was in the present moment and that made all the difference. Even knowing that it would probably be painful to remember, he still found himself wanting to linger for as long as possible, not wanting to forgo the moment to return to his soul room. He wasn't even sure what he was referring to as he whispered, "I'm sorry," but he had felt they were words that needed to be spoken.
"Don't be," was all Kaiba said, elaborating no further as he continued feeling tiny tremors running through the small body he was holding.
They both lapsed into silence, once again returning to their thoughts. When they became too much for Kaiba, he finally lifted his head off of Yami's shoulder and tipped it back against the railing with a small sigh that he hadn't meant to make. Still, he refused to let go, trying hard not to hear the echoes of the voice so close to his own saying, "Never again." It was bad enough that he had witnessed such things, but being subjected to indirectly feeling everything as if they were his own was too much for him. He felt as if he had experienced more emotions in that vision than he had in years of his own existence. Trying to avoid thinking about any specific moment, he was startled when Yami leaned back to accommodate himself to the new position, almost hesitantly for fear of upsetting their precarious understanding.
Meeting no resistance, Yami allowed himself to relax fully against the other, closing his eyes as his mind tried to memorize every detail. Kaiba was just trying not to remember the sensations Seto's body had relayed to him of what had happened tonight. It made Kaiba grateful that Seto had largely remained unaware of his presence until the very end, though. He got the feeling things would have progressed far further since Seto would have probably tried to show off just to piss off Kaiba and make him feel even more awkward; it was what he would have done, after all. Instead, he decided to focus on why his brain wasn't rejecting the fact that he was currently sitting on the roof deck of his own airship with his number one rival comfortably situated between his legs, holding him as if there wasn't a single thing wrong with that picture.
At least he didn't have to worry about the media; one of the benefits and considerations of the Battle Ship being implemented was that it allowed Kaiba complete control over what was broadcast and publicized. This situation was just one more reason to be thankful for his foresight, because between it and the rate the participants were being physically affected by their duels, it would have been the worst kind of publicity possible. Kaiba didn't want his company image to suffer because of some psychotic brat who was using a golden stick to somehow fuck with everyone's head. Although that reminded him: on the stone tablet at the museum and in the visions he had seen at that time, the priest had been holding the Millennium Rod, but this time he hadn't seen it at all. Perhaps it had been passed down to another priest upon his ascension to the throne? Not that it mattered one way or the other to Kaiba. As long as that Marik bastard didn't cause any more problems or bring any harm to himself or Mokuba, Kaiba could care less. Once he obtained his Ra card, that would be the end of it, Kaiba decided.
For the most part, Yami had finally calmed down and his body no longer felt so shaken by everything. Opening his eyes, he rested one hand on his stomach while the other rested lightly on Kaiba's arm, his fingers sometimes absentmindedly moving over the fabric. He knew that he had escaped relatively unharmed, but he still found himself worrying about how Kaiba had fared. "Did he—" Yami started to ask before interrupting himself. Somehow he didn't think it would go over very well if he asked, "Did he hurt you?" Instead, he rephrased his question to, "Are you okay?"
"I wasn't the one screaming, was I?" Kaiba pointed out with a laugh that was supposed to sound harsh, but it failed to carry any of its normal maliciousness.
There was something almost reassuring about the response and Yami chuckled, unable to see the way it caused Kaiba's eyebrows to arch at such an unusual reaction. "I'm glad," he said softly, figuring that nothing else needed to be said.
It was why it was his turn to be surprised when Kaiba added a gruff, "You seem to be fine."
Knowing better than to say, "Thanks to you," Yami settled for simply saying, "Yeah," smiling a little as he continued sitting there, resenting the shortening shadows that were announcing the ever closer approaching morning. He didn't want to leave, didn't want it to be over, but he knew they were running out of time.
Kaiba knew it too, but he still found himself reluctant to take any action, unwilling to relinquish such a rare moment of comfort. He closed his eyes to the brightening dawn, unconsciously drawing Yami just a little bit closer as he rested his head against the other's and tried not to pay too much attention to the easy access he had to the ear and neck his former incarnation had taken advantage of earlier. Kaiba didn't like the fact that it was tempting, or that he wanted to act on his impulse, and he hated that he refused to do so on principle alone. It would mean allowing what he had seen to cross over into reality in a way that Kaiba couldn't accept and there was no way in hell he was going to give proof to the nonsense the former priest had spouted about his so-called feelings. Kaiba Seto did not want any of that and he wouldn't allow himself to be deluded otherwise—or at least that was what he was trying fervently to convince himself.
The hallucinations at the museum had been laughable and the one during his battle with Isis had been the only one he could at least tolerate and understand. It still didn't explain why he could suddenly read ancient hieroglyphs, but he would rather have no explanation than have to buy into some bullshit one. And yet, that final vision he witnessed with Yami and everything that had gone with it, Kaiba couldn't outright rejected it, but neither could he readily accept it as truth.
Sighing again, he felt Yami shiver as the warm air brushed past his neck and Kaiba stubbornly kept his eyes closed, knowing that he wouldn't move if he couldn't clearly see what he was doing. He couldn't escape the doubt that if he gave in even once, he would never be able to resist the temptation thereafter and that was unacceptable. Thus, Kaiba remained motionless as he fought against acting out on any of the multitude of visions he had experienced. He didn't want to think about the fact that he now knew just what to do to make Yami lose that annoying composure of his and what the far-reaching implications of that would be.
Without being able to see Kaiba's expression, Yami could only guess at what was going on through the other's mind at the moment. He knew that the other was struggling with what had happened tonight and Yami couldn't help but wonder what else Kaiba had seen. There was no way that he would ever find out, so Yami continued to sit in silence and did his best to ignore the memories that were stirring because of Kaiba's proximity to his neck. Some masochistic part of his mind couldn't help but wonder if Kaiba would be as haunted by this as Yami was going to be.
"I know," Yami said sadly, his fingers tightening around Kaiba's wrist, as he picked up the Millennium Tauk with his other hand. Just because he knew didn't mean he had to like it, though.
Opening his eyes, Kaiba had a momentary fear that the necklace might reclaim them into another vision, but the only glow came from the sunlight reflecting off of it. When he felt the other starting to pull away from him, some part of him wanted to prevent it, wanted to hold on to the moment for just a little longer. Kaiba could already feel his mind starting to rebel against such an errant desire, so he had no choice but to watch as the other slipped gently from his grasp, standing gracefully in front of him. The accursed necklace was once again slipped back into the pocket and it made it a little easier for Kaiba to think, even though he made no move to rise as well. "Yuugi," he found himself once again saying.
Turning to look at Kaiba over his shoulder, Yami allowed himself one last moment of weakness, allowed his conflicted emotions to be easily read in his honest eyes. It was painful knowing what had happened, knowing what was going to happen next. Like his former incarnation, Kaiba would most likely become especially brutal to compensate for what had just happened and Yami had no choice but to accept those consequences. "Yes?"
Kaiba found that he couldn't answer immediately, that he was too captivated by the exquisite sadness in the other's eyes. It made him want to pull the other back down and hold him once again, made him want to return to the vision to beat the shit out of the former priest for making him even consider such a thing as a viable option. He thought he had been upset when the other had been looking at Seto in such a manner, but knowing that he alone was causing it was practically unbearable. But Kaiba had never known how to comfort another, so all he could say was, "Prepare yourself for tomorrow's battle, Yuugi. I will defeat you in order to continue on this path to my future," hoping that his normal smug arrogance had returned convincingly enough.
Yami only replied with, "Ah," before turning and facing forward again, realizing that it was the only thing either one of them could do. Yami had to forge ahead in order to find his future through his past and he would let nothing get in his way, not even Kaiba. He was ready for their destined fight and fully intended to give it his everything in the hopes for a victory. Without another word, Yami began walking toward the elevator, never looking back at the other. It was only when he entered the elevator and turned around to push the button for his floor that he caught a final glimpse of Kaiba still sitting unmoving, his arms resting on his knees as he stared up at the sky.
As the doors closed and he began his descent, only then did Yami let his head fall forward and touch the cool metal as he shut his eyes with a sigh. He knew that nothing would change, but he couldn't stop that small part of him from wishing that things would. Having been subjected to the thoughts and remembrances of Seto, it left Yami yearning for that comfort he had witnessed, but he pushed it down and refused to think about it any further tonight. Nothing could be done about it and he had other things he needed to be focusing on instead.
The whole incident left him wanting to know more, and not just about his interactions with Seto, either. Yes, he had seen some of their private moments when they were arguing, getting along, or being rather intimate, but he had also seen things that were trivial like meetings with his staff advisors. He had seen countless faces that he wanted to know the true identities of, even if they were of no importance. Although he was still hesitant to involve others, his aibou was constantly supporting him and wanted to try and help him regain these important things. With that in mind, Yami straightened up and stood proudly as he resolved his determination to find his answers despite the risks. He had come too far to turn back now.
Kaiba remained motionless outside, waiting to leave until the sun finished rising. He hadn't allowed himself to watch Yami walk away, hadn't allowed himself to feel anything. Although there was no one watching him, he would not reveal his feelings as that idiot priest had. Then again, he shouldn't have had any feelings in the first place, but he couldn't ignore the fact that something deep inside of him had started to ache at the sight of Yami walking away from him. It was frustrating and he cursed the memories that had given him a whole new reason to hate anything connected with the past.
As the time passed, Kaiba slowly forced everything behind the walls he had years of practice at maintaining, sectioning it off with everything else that he was better off ignoring. There was no place for a past for Kaiba, especially one as preposterous as a previous life. Such ridiculous and useless notions would not tie him down, nor would he give any credence to such pointless emotions that had nothing to do with him. The only thing that mattered was securing his future through his own means; everything else was just superfluous to him. He would finally triumph over Yuugi to take the title of Duel King for himself and defeat his past once and for all. Kaiba would not allow himself to be deluded into complacency, could not allow himself to rely on the comfort such lies could provide. He had his brother by his side and that was all he needed to keep pushing him forward.
Finally standing up and ignoring the protests of his body for having stayed in one position for too long, Kaiba confidently made his way to the elevator, determined to continue his quest, even if it meant being ruthless at times. He had come too far to turn back now.
A/N: And thus concludes the first half of the Endless Loop Series.
As I've allude to a couple of times and in a few of my replies to reviews, I have in fact decided to continue this in another one shot in four parts. XD Just can't seem to help myself, it seems. It was far too tempting to explore the aftermath and play with circular events, but I swear that it will be the official end after that. There focus will initially be on what happened after episode 97 and up until Kaiba's departure to America from Alcatraz in episode 143, although I will be ignoring the Noa storyline. This story will be true to the manga canon, but that won't really matter until the final chapter where I think the anime and manga take the biggest departures in their depiction. Yay for vaguery! I'll always make notes to the relevant differences at the start of the chapter, though.
The sequel will be called Whenever, Wherever and the chapter titles will all be playing off of the ones found here; dorky, perhaps, but I do enjoy the play on words. My advanced warning on it is that it will have earned its M rating for a reason, so you will have to search for it if I'm not on your author alert list. The psychological aspects are going to be a lot darker and the emotional havoc will be even more intense in some respects. Leave it to me to make cerebral lemons...Anyway, if you thought this one was an emotional jerker, well prepare yourselves for the devastation of the sequel. Well, maybe "devastation," is a little strong, but it will certainly be an exercise in hard hitting emotions.
Anyway, enough build up for that, yeah? I can't thank everyone enough for the positive feedback this story received and it's probably why I started writing a follow up to this piece. I'm looking forward to hearing everyone's responses about their overall feelings on Everywhen and I just wanted to thank everyone again for all of their input thus far!
This Sunday I will be posting the first chapter of the sequel to Catnip Dream. It will be called Another Lesson and will start off at a T rating. I feel that I should announce it will eventually get upgraded to a M rating, but there's more character development to be done before those two start going at it like bunnies on aphrodisiacs. XD It was originally supposed to be a cute (well, not cute since Kaiba Seto doesn't do cute, but you know what I mean) little strip-and-study smut fic, but it seems that it didn't quite turn out that way. My mind started playing with the ideas behind Kaiba and his education background, and well…it should have an interesting result that ultimately brings them closer together. I don't know how long it will be ultimately, but I can tell you that it's already over 19,000 words and I'm still working on it. XD
As for Whenever, Wherever, I intend to post the first chapter of that on Wednesday, May 21st. So after this weekend, for the next four weeks, you will get a chapter of Whenever every Wednesday and a chapter of Another Lesson every Sunday. Aren't you just thrilled? XD You'll be so spoiled afterwards, ne? So be sure to mark your calendars or something, haha.
And once again, thank you again for your continued support and encouragement! I look forward to hearing from everyone and I hope to meet up with everyone in Another Lesson this Sunday, May 18th!