Chapter IX: Redemption

And so we come to the close of Zane returning to himself in this version of the Yugi-verse. He has, thanks to his friends, his rival and most importantly, his brother, started to heal. So thank you, thank you, thank you, all of you who have supported and loved this tale and the universe that it's in. And now, the conclusion of "The Path to Redemption!"

Disclaimer: I don't own the actual Yugi-verse or any of its' characters; I just like playing in it. I also don't own Violet and Rosa; they belong to 15animefreak15. But I do own Annie Hanson and this story idea.

Nearly a week had passed since the morning of Zane Truesdale's intervention. His circle of friends had sat and listened as he'd told all that had occurred with him after he'd joined the Pro League. It had been hard to admit his fears and just how dark he'd almost gone to everyone. But no one had judged him harshly, and all of them had understood that he'd been in terrible pain. And he had to admit to them and himself that he'd found all his gang had done to support him through the pain had been pretty funny.

"So who came up with the Routine?" the older Truesdale brother asked as they all sat in Chazz Princeton's conversation pit in his dorm. "I haven't seen that done except on YouTube and on 'Friends' reruns."

"I did, Zane. And I can't believe you didn't laugh! And I sure as sugar can't believe you didn't laugh when Dr. C was lip-syncing 'Sweet Transvestite!' Everyone was laughing so hard!" Violet grinned, laughing with the memory.

"I wasn't ready to laugh," Zane admitted, laughing softly now, with his little brother sitting at his side. "But I feel like it now. If you guys hadn't stuck by me…I don't know what I would've done."

"Zane, bro, that's what we're all here for!" Jaden grinned. "You're our friend, and we stick by each other, especially when we're in trouble, man. So we'll all be glad you ditched the Underground and didn't choose to turn into Lord Voldemort!"

"Yeah, we're all glad about that," Alexis said, sweat-dropping and resolving to make Jaden take a break from reading the Harry Potter series for the second time. "So, Zane, what are you going to do now?"

Zane took a deep breath. "I've decided I'm going to stay here for a bit and let myself really recover and take the time to really reconnect with my brother. I didn't do that last school year when I was a student and maybe it's time I take advantage of that."

"Good idea, Zane. I don't think the teachers would object to you staying longer," Bastion said, smiling. "In fact, I daresay it will be a wonderful thing, between you and Aster, to tell those of us who may end up in the Pro Leagues what it actually is like."

"Hmm…guess I hadn't thought of that," Aster said thoughtfully, looking at his rival. "So, should we offer our experiences, Zane?"

Zane nodded in agreement. "Including that we can be friends outside the arena, and that we always treat our opponents honorably. I almost forgot that…I almost forgot a lot of things. So I guess we'll work together…"

Annie smiled silently. 'Thank You, Lord,' she prayed mentally, 'for giving Zane his life back and letting him be open to help. And Thank You for giving Sy his big brother back.' As she looked at her crush's brother, she knew things would be okay. Meanwhile, Hassleberry surreptitiously squeezed his girlfriend's hand and Rosa smiled back at him.

Syrus was happy that his brother had returned to him, and knew somehow that things between him and Zane would be very different now and better. 'You're going to be okay, big brother. I know you will be.'

The group got up after a time and headed out into the late fall sunshine. "Hey, Zane, want to play some soccer?" Atticus asked, holding up a black-and-white soccer ball.

Zane smiled. "You're on, Atticus! Aster, you in?"

"Yeah…let's do it!" the other Pro League member answered with a slight smile. And the boys and girls joined in a soccer game. As Zane ran, passing the ball around, he reveled in a feeling of freedom within himself. He knew that his journey to redeeming and renewing himself wasn't over, and he would be at Duel Academy for a while. The path to redemption was not an easy one, Zane reflected, but with his brother and his friends at his side, he knew he'd manage the journey.

THE END

And so ends this tale of Zane choosing to follow a path in which he was not seduced by power. I hope you have enjoyed this tale and I thank my co-author in this version of the Yugi-verse, 15animefreak15, for allowing me to use Rosa and Violet. And of course, I thank you, all of you, who read and reviewed! Thank you very much!