A/N: Written for a livejournal writing community challenge using the prompt The Tarot cards - Three of Swords: Sorrow. An introspective piece centering around the reasons why Mai joined DOMA.

Warnings: None. Worksafe.

Disclaimer: Kazuki Takahashi owns.


Going Down

Mai Kujaku was sick of living.

One by one she had reached all of her goals only to realise that they did not bring her the joy and satisfaction she had expected. One by one her reasons to live disappeared. With each new victory that came in the duelling tournaments, with each new opponent that she crushed, the emptiness inside of her grew.

She started hiding; avoiding her friends; not replying on their phone calls, telling herself that it was for the best, that having friends – it was not for her. She convinced herself that friends would try to change her, to take away the freedom she had right now, that Yugi's fame – and this she feared most of all – would overshadow hers and she would become nothing but a cheerleader, much like Anzu and Honda, and even Jounouchi. She kept telling herself this until a mixture of fear and jealousy blinded her. The doubt Malik had spurred in her mind during Battle City finals had not disappeared with Yugi's victory; it had only grown and strengthened.

In the end, she stopped believing in the goodwill of others, in the support and the feeling of belonging only real friends could give. She no longer participated in duelling tournaments because in the middle of the large crowds she felt out of place. She did not fit it.

In the end, Mai Kujaku found herself alone. Abandoned. Lost; even though she had not left the safety of her apartment. Eventually, even the walls that had sheltered her for so long started suffocating her. And she ran.

Out of the apartment, down the stairs and onto the street. There, Mai stopped. It was raining. The world was grey and unfriendly, the streets covered in water, and she was lost again. Lost and alone.

She had lost the will to live, to fight. Goals had been achieved, but after that had come only emptiness. There was nothing left for her. Nothing but a long, lonely life.

And who could have blamed her or been the judge when in the darkest hour of her life she mistook the Messenger of Hell for the Angel of Salvation?

Truly, coming out of the darkness so suddenly as if he had rained down from the sky in the middle of the empty street, his body glowing softly in the yellow light from the lamp overhead, Valon did look like he had been sent straight down from Heaven. But the messengers of Hell have the power of deceit, being deceived by their Overlord themselves, and Mai was in no state to tell the difference.

Mai Kujaku believed that Valon was offering her the things she had been looking for. His eyes did not lie. She put her hand in his and aloowed him to help her stand up. She took faith in his belief, accepted his words as the only truth, and followed him down the path of Hell, far behind the gates of the Purgatory she had been living in before.

She accepted his offer because she had nothing left to lose, and everything to gain.