A/N: For 78 tarot over at LiveJournal. Card prompt – The Fool. Introspective, with a touch of Warshipping.

Warnings: None, worksafe.

Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! is the intellectual property of Kazuki Takahashi. No profit is being made from this story and all the creative rights to the characters depicted herein belong to their original creator.

Dead End Game

Seto Kaiba had never been at the bottom. At least, not since his adoption. He had always strived to be the best, to be the first, to be at the very top. His first fall had been his confrontation with Yugi Mutou. After that, failures had seemed to come upon him and his company one after another; little things piling up until he was no longer at the lead of his own life. And here he was now – victorious, but made a fool in the process; at the controls of one of his planes, but not in control of its flight; striving to prove himself to a man who had lost to him and who would not be around to see his achievement. The world had turned upside down and the absurdity of this situation had not yet dawned on Seto Kaiba.

Later, with his feet back on stable ground again, he had not been given the time to think about it. He had had to counter the enemy's move that threatened his company, his family, and generally – the entire world, but that had been the least of his worries. At that moment only his brother's safety had mattered.

After everything had more or less simmered down, Seto had the time to reflect, though he did not do it lightly, willingly, or all that often. It was more of a subconscious thing – events that he would have wanted to remember the least – if not outright forget –, but his mind was not too willing to cooperate on that one.

Again and again he recalled the times he had lost, how he had lost, to whom he had lost; the reminders were all over the place, sometimes even in the tiniest of things. Every now and then somebody of Yugi's tagalongs would call upon him and his "destiny" and the importance of him taking part in their ridiculous activities that spanned the entire world, and somehow he would end up entangled in all of that for the umpteenth time.

And then there was the subject of Amelda… The furious, accusing words the redheaded foreigner had thrown at him came back to haunt him now and again because there were similarities in both of their lives that the redhead had called upon. There were ghosts that he had dared to awaken. He had said things that would have been better left unsaid. Seto Kaiba had thought those words to be powerless, pointless and outright ridiculous, and given the knowledge of the things Dartz had done to manipulate people (and his subordinates the most), he thought himself to be right. He considered Amelda to be ridiculous and near-sighted, and yet…

And yet.

Seto Kaiba, the child prodigy, the successful businessman, the genius, the ex-best duellist had no idea where he was headed. He no longer had a direction, a goal to keep him moving. Everything he had wanted he had achieved and lost. He had wanted to get out of the poverty and he had done it. He had wanted to take charge of Kaiba Corp. and he had done it. He had wanted to be the best and he had been. He had wanted to be the first, the unbeatable, the champion, and he had been; for a while. It had all come and gone, and it had left him with just one thing: nothingness.

No matter how hard he tried to get back to the top, it was no longer possible. He was a king dethroned; going back was not an option. His rule was nothing, his future brought no promises. He could no longer set his life back onto the right tracks because there were no such tracks anymore. Everything was out of whack, out of sync, and he had not even the slightest clue of how to begin setting things right again.

He had Amelda's contact info that he had dug up. He did not know why he had done it, he just had. There had been times when he reached for the sheet of paper with the redhead's phone number, but his hand would stop halfway and he would shove the sheet back into the depth of the drawer of his table. He had nothing to say to Amelda, nothing worthwile at least. Seto Kaiba did not like wasting time; he had had too much of his wasted by idiots already.

And so it was that at the end of the day he was left with nothing. Just a sheet of paper with a phone number that he would never dial. Knowledge that somewhere out there lived a man who could have had it all, who could have been him, but was not. A man whose number he would never call because he did not have a reason to call up a ghost that had almost taken him down to hell. Because he could still take him down there and Seto Kaiba did not think that climbing out would be an option this time.