Author's Note: This ficlet was inspired by the prompts "Unison" at 18Coda, "Seeing is believing" at 10 Inspirations, "Renewal" at 20 Heartbeats, "Take it in your stride" at 30 Romances, and "It's a dump of a destiny" at 31 Days on LiveJournal. It was also partially inspired by LuckyLadybug's fic, "Walk the Long Road," and The Duelist Heiress' fic, "Acceptance." Disclaimer: I don't own these characters.
Téa Gardner was glancing through the Domino Gazette. It was Saturday, and with the theater closed for the weekend, she was looking forward to enjoying the day with her friends. An advertisement caught her eye as she skimmed over the pages.
"'Ancient Egyptian Art Collection on Loan from the Louvre Museum,'" she read aloud. "Yugi and the others would love this!"
Granted, it would bring back memories of Atem, the times they had shared, and how they all missed him. On the other hand, it would also make them feel closer to the king, being able to see the same artifacts and objects that he had seen as well, or perhaps even held.
But something in the black-and-white picture of the collection caught her attention. She could just distinguish a small statue which seemed to depict two people, hand in hand. There was something familiar about the couple, but the newspaper print wasn't of a high enough quality.
She searched through her room, uncovering a magnifying glass. A second inspection of the photograph revealed a close-up, albeit blurred, image of the picture. The faces were impossible to discern, but one of them was wearing a tall khepresh crown. She had seen that crown before, when they had witnessed the events in Atem's memories, but Atem hadn't been wearing it.
"That guy who looked like Kaiba… he was wearing this, wasn't he?" she asked, talking to herself. "So… who's this next to him…?" She trailed off as she glanced at the picture. The magnifying glass slipped from her grasp as she stared on, stunned.
Téa hadn't been the only one take notice of the picture; Seto Kaiba himself had come across the advertisement in the online edition of the morning paper. The electronic version of the paper was slightly sharper in image quality, allowing him to discern that one of the figures in the image was indeed of the man who resembled him. This knowledge didn't interest him in the slightest, but Mokuba was intrigued. The boy had not seen Atem's memories, and had not been able to see his brother's ancient counterpart. He had often asked his brother about the events that had occurred, but Seto hadn't been willing to delve into "visions" that he barely even believed in.
"He does look like you, Seto!" he exclaimed. "No, wait… I guess you would look like him, since he was around first, right?"
"Honestly, Mokuba, it doesn't matter," Seto replied.
"And he's holding someone's hand; a girl's hand, and she looks kinda like…" the boy trailed off as his eyes widened.
"Who is it?" Seto asked.
"Uh… never mind. You were right; it doesn't really matter anyway," said Mokuba, trying to exit the Gazette's web page, but Seto was too quick for him.
"This has got to be a joke," he stated. "She looks like Gardner!"
"Doesn't she, though?" said Mokuba, trying his hardest not to smile in pure amusement.
"Well, it means nothing," Seto insisted, dismissing it. "And I'll even go to the exhibit for a closer look; that'll prove that this whole nonsense is just that."
"Uh-huh…" said Mokuba, clearly enjoying this.
"I'll bet anything that Pegasus is behind this," Seto declared. "Either he, or someone else, is trying to unnerve me…"
"How? By trying to make things seem as though you and Téa were destined to be together?" the boy asked.
Seto merely grabbed his coat.
"Whatever it is, it won't work," he vowed, and he headed out the door.
Mokuba waited for him to leave before laughing. He found the picture to be intriguing, more than anything. Over the years, he had developed a friendship with Téa, though he had to admit, he never did picture her with Seto. But it would be great to have her as part of the family…
But he was getting far too ahead of himself. Mokuba wasn't sure what Seto thought of Téa, anyway. And, judging by his reaction upon seeing the picture of the statue, he clearly thought the idea of them as a couple to be absurd. But Mokuba didn't think so, and the proof was in the fact that their past counterparts had been together.
Téa was running for the Domino Museum, hoping to be in and out before the crowds gathered. She had to see that statue for herself. Then she would have to convince herself that what she was seeing was real.
She paid the entrance fee and walked around, glancing at all of the ancient artwork. She temporarily forgot about the statue as she gazed upon the detailed paintings on stone walls and fragile papyrus sheaves. They were relics of a simpler time, a time so long ago, and, paradoxically, it seemed not too far away. Closing her eyes, she could vividly imagine the stone streets, the well-kept farmers' fields, the grand temples and palaces, and the sun shining its light upon the Two Lands, its rays reflecting off of the clear, blue waters of the Nile. She could see the palace balcony, a lone figure standing there, surveying the expanse of his precious land. She expected the man to be Atem, but it wasn't him; it was another, taller man, dressed in robes of blue and white, wearing the blue khepresh on his head…
Téa's eyes snapped open. What was happening to her!? Why him!? This hadn't been the first time she had been forced to come to grips with feelings for Seto Kaiba. But what about Atem? Could she discard her feelings for him just like that? And yet, she knew that Atem would tell her to follow her heart. Téa wasn't so sure if that was such a good idea, especially when her heart seemed to be leading her astray. How could she have feelings for Seto Kaiba, someone who was completely different from her in every way possible? It couldn't be because of the statue, could it? No; even before she had seen it, she had been aware of her feelings. And she had decided long ago that she wouldn't ignore them. Her feelings did exist; they were real. Even so, she had told no one.
She spotted the golden statue in a glass case across the room. Walking over to get a closer look, she realized that she has brushed shoulders with someone else heading to the case. Each stared at the other in stunned silence as they stood before the statue of their ancient counterparts.
"What are you doing here?" Seto demanded.
"I… I came to look at…" Téa trailed off. Both Seto and Téa glanced at the statue, and then back at each other. Each took a slight step away, trying to increase the distance between them. "Why are you here, Kaiba? You're the one who doesn't believe in this, anyway!"
"And I don't," he assured her. "I am only here to see what other 'evidence' they've uncovered to try to get me to believe in destiny."
"You were here to get a closer look, just like me," Téa realized aloud. "You wanted to see if it was true, didn't you?"
"I don't need you acting as my interpreter, Gardner," he said, and he indicated the statue. "Just look. Do you honestly see us hand in hand? It's ridiculous!"
"Yes, ridiculous…" Téa said, in an unreadable tone, as though she didn't know for certain.
"I'd even say it's impractical," Seto went on.
"And, furthermore, it's completely impossible," he finished. "Some destiny that would be…"
She didn't reply to this statement.
Seto's head turned ever so slightly, enough that he could see Téa in his peripheral vision. She had a tear in the border of her eye.
"I didn't intend it to be an insult," Seto said, hastily.
"I know you didn't," she replied.
And now Seto began to realize what she was trying to say. She didn't think it was so impossible, in spite of the obvious differences between them. And yet, she had never said anything to him before concerning the topic, and he now realized why; she knew that this would have been his reaction. In spite of all of their numerous past arguments, and however much they had struck each other's nerves, she was willing to at least believe. So why couldn't he?
Or had he already begun to believe? He once recalled when, during a time of hardship, she had, in an uncharacteristic moment of rage, told him that he alone was the reason he had gotten himself into the situation in the first place. Although refusing to show it, the remark had hurt. But looking back, he had to take note that he had heard a lot worse being said about him by other people, and yet had not been affected by those remarks in the slightest. So why had Téa's simple quip affected him? Had the real reason been not because of the words, but because of the one saying them?
Seto glanced back at the statue of the Pharaoh and his queen. Hand in hand, they did seem happy.
"Of course, what does my opinion mean?" Seto asked aloud, to no one in particular. "I still say that half the things that happened to me these past few years are impossible."
With that, he turned to leave.
"Kaiba…?" Téa asked, realizing the implications of his statement.
He paused in his retreat.
"Thank you." She didn't elaborate, nor did she need to.
Seto replied her with a nod, and then he left. Her spirits slightly elevated, Téa continued to look around the exhibit, though casting frequent glances back at the statue. Something had changed in Seto Kaiba, she realized. And she had a feeling that it would be a change for the better.