Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! is the creation of Kazuki Takahashi. This is a not-for-profit fanwork and I do not own any of these characters.

Setup for this particular fic:
- This story takes place after chapter 3 of Changes, "Legends of Duel Monsters."
- Ages of characters in this story: Seto and Yami are 21, Noa and Mokuba are 16.


Victory Lap

Changes Series


He couldn't believe it.

He'd won.

He'd actually won. For the first time ever…

Seto stared down at the cards in his hand, at the faint, shimmering remains of the Dark Magician inside the small, portable duel box that sat on the sofa between them. In his mind he could still see the blinding flash of light as his dragon loosed its final attack on Yami's mage. Seto shook his head. He was still expecting to see the blast get blocked or negated somehow, even though it was all over… It had seemed Yami always had a Spellbinding Circle or Mirror Force on hand to thwart him. But not this time…

It felt like time had crawled to a standstill as Seto's brain ran through the entirety of the duel, move by move, card by card. He couldn't help but analyze every detail. What had he done differently this time? His deck was more or less the same as it always was; so was his strategy. Yami too had played like he normally did, and he hadn't been distracted or impaired in any way.

So what had made the difference?

Was it just luck? No, he refused to believe that. One couldn't beat the King of Games with luck alone. That'd be like saying Jounouchi was a great duelist – HA! - because he was stubborn enough to roll the dice over and over until things went his way.

Was it skill then? Yami had once told him, "We have no difference in skill." But even if Seto were to believe that, wouldn't that mean the best he could hope for was a draw, unlikely as that was? It didn't mean he'd win. Certainly he never had before.

… Was it possible that Yami had thrown the duel?

Immediately Seto felt anger and remorse flood through his system for thinking of such a thing, even for a moment. Yami wasn't that sort of duelist, that sort of man. He deserved better than to be doubted like that.

But maybe… maybe Yami hadn't given it his all? Maybe he'd become complacent, so confident in his abilities that he'd come to believe he couldn't be beaten… Maybe he…

God damn it! the brunette cursed at himself. He couldn't believe he'd think something like that right after accusing Yami of throwing the duel. Yes, the crimson-eyed man was arrogant, but not to the degree that he'd give anything less than his best. That wasn't Yami at all. And Seto knew that!

So then why couldn't he just accept that he'd won? Wasn't that what he'd dreamed of for years? Why couldn't he just be happy about it? He knew that was how he ought to feel. He ought to be laughing until he was out of breath; he ought to be gloating and rubbing his win in Yami's face. So why was everything so different now?

Seto's head suddenly jerked up and he looked around. There were no spectators, no crowd… Not even Mokuba had been there to see it. If it weren't for Yami, sitting there, staring back at him stonily, he might've thought the whole thing a fantasy.

Seto wondered what was going through his boyfriend's head. He couldn't get a read on him. He could've just mind linked him, but it felt wrong to do so when he didn't know if Yami was mad or upset or ashamed or what. That only left one option then…

"What happened?" Seto finally asked.

Yami had just gotten up and began pacing back and forth, but stopped abruptly upon hearing Seto's question. "Isn't it obvious? I lost, you won."

A strange mix of irritation and guilt made Seto's jaw muscles tighten. "Well sorry…"

Yami stared at him a moment longer, then let loose a breath he'd been holding in. He picked up the duel box and moved it onto the floor, then sat down on the sofa and said, "No, don't. I'm sorry… I'm being unfair. You beat me fairly. I'm just… it's hard losing, even to you."

"Because you didn't think it would ever happen."

"Perhaps I wasn't expecting it today, no, but I knew it would happen eventually. I've always believed we were equals."

What Yami said made no sense at all. "Then why have I lost over and over again? How does that make us equals?" Seto snarled, quickly setting his cards down before his hands accidentally creased them in agitation.

"You had chained yourself down with rage and hatred. And it took time for you to free yourself from them. But in doing so, you've unearthed true strength as well. Your bond with your deck has become very powerful – I've seen you draw your cards at will."

Seto looked down at his deck, feeling for a moment that he could almost see through the backs of the cards and identify each one. Then he glanced back at Yami. "You say that, but look at how angry I've gotten just now."

"You're allowed to have an emotional reaction. It's not like you're actually mad at me."

I was, for a moment, Seto admitted. I'd thought… you'd underestimated me.

No, never. I have always respected you. If I didn't, I would have lost to you a long time ago. That's how formidable a duelist you are.

Seto shook his head. He felt stupid, having to have Yami console him when he'd won and Yami had lost. The former Pharaoh was a proud man; certainly losing had to have stung. And yet all he could do was nurse Seto's wounded pride instead of treating his own. I really am sorry. Of course I wanted to win… but I never wanted to see you lose, either. I know that doesn't make sense…

It does, in a way. I haven't been dueling you all these years to inflate my own ego. I wanted to see you win too.

This doesn't change anything. I don't think any less of you, Seto said a little more emphatically.

Thanks…

I mean it! You'll always be the King of Games.

Yami couldn't help but smile. His boyfriend could've reacted to his victory by showboating… but instead he was clumsily trying to make him feel better. Yami wondered if it was possible to fall in love with him even more.

I just… I wanted to be someone who deserves you. I wanted you to be proud of me, Seto quietly finished.

Yami turned and knelt on the sofa and gently took Seto's face in his hands. He pressed a kiss onto his forehead. I am, Kai-baby, more than you know.

Seto wrapped his arms around Yami and leaned back, pulling the smaller man down on top of him as they lay back onto the sofa. It felt good to just lie there together. It was a relief to know Yami wasn't still upset. And then finally, it began sinking in, just what he'd accomplished…

"I won." Even hearing his own voice saying it, it was still hard to believe.

Yami kissed Seto again, this time on the cheek, then the lips. "Yes."

I wish Mokuba could've seen it.

Yami nodded. He knew that was the one thing that would've made the moment even more magical for Seto, but at the same time, a small, selfish part of him was glad things worked out as they did. For one, Seto hadn't handled winning the way he imagined he would've. He'd been stunned into silence instead of laughing in triumph, instead of gloating and celebrating his victory. And two, Yami liked that the moment was private, that he'd been the only one to witness Seto's win. It was appropriate when they no longer dueled for fame or fortune, when there were no enemies opposing them, no memories to recover.

And duels really were such intimate things. Strip away the flashy tournaments and virtual effects, and it came down to two players with cards, sitting just arm's distance apart, with only a paper field – or a portable duel box – separating them.

But at the same time Yami knew how much it'd mean to Mokuba to see his big brother triumph in one of their duels. That's why it meant a lot to Seto too. He will, someday. We'll duel many more times, he assured his boyfriend.

You aren't satisfied with losing just once, are you, Yami-kins? Seto asked with amusement lightening his mental voice.

Don't get cocky. I'm not going to go easy on you, you know.

I know. That's how I like it, Seto purred back. He was amazed at how much better he felt now that he'd accepted his victory. It was fun flirting with Yami while they cuddled. It was almost better than aggressively fucking one another… not that that wasn't an option too, it just wasn't what they were looking for at the moment.

Seto sighed softly. He'd enjoyed spending time with Yami, playing the game that had brought them together. Winning hadn't been on his mind. It hadn't been his goal. It had just happened.

Was it really that simple?

Yes…

Yami shifted his body slightly so that his legs slid over Seto's, so that his foot traced the long, lean calf muscles. Seto stroked him back, lightly touching Yami's face and neck, his arms and back. They kissed and nuzzled, a promise of passion sweetened by love and tempered by restraint.

But Seto knew well enough to know that Yami couldn't resist for long – he'd followed up his own losses by fucking Yami into the bed, the sofa, the floor… whatever was convenient. It had been a way for him to express his frustration while asserting himself as well, as if forcefully thrusting into his lover somehow negated his loss. But now he knew… the "control" he'd been grasping at was all an illusion. He'd been the one seduced by the power, the one falling under the spell. So of course he understood better than anyone how Yami was feeling at the moment. There was satisfaction in knowing that too.

As predicted, it didn't take much for Yami to step over the line: he deepened his kisses, then a hand found its way under the waistband of Seto's pants while the other snuck under Seto's shirt to thumb at the nipples. Seto responded eagerly to every touch but made sure to leave it to Yami take the lead, though it grew more and more difficult to restrain himself as things got more heated.

Luckily Yami wasn't interested in having Seto do anything but lie there and take it. He rolled his body over on top of the taller man's, straddled it as he gathered up Seto's wrists and pinned them down just above his head. His kisses became more feverishly aggressive – he sucked hard on Seto's lower lip and lightly set his teeth on it. His fingers tugged urgently at the buttons of Seto's pajama top until the chest was laid bare; he gave the bottoms the same treatment until Seto's pants and boxers tangled around his lower legs. Then Yami paused, pulling away slightly as if to examine his prey.

Don't move, Yami finally commanded.

And Seto didn't. He had no problem with that; he wasn't going anywhere.

The ex-spirit headed off into the bedroom and then the bathroom, gathering up a bundle of things in his arms before returning. Seto didn't bother looking over, figuring whatever he had was wrapped up in a towel anyhow. Besides, surprises were fun, as long as they involved Yami.

(LEMON DELETED FOR FFNET – full version on my site.)

Winning, losing… it hadn't changed a thing.


Author's Notes:
- Thanks to Nenya for betaing this, and pushing me to do it. And for those who are reading this on ffnet the full lemon version is on my homepage; link is available on my profile page. But reviews here for either version would be appreciated : D
- Before I started work on this chapter I'd thought for sure that Seto had won against Yami at some point in my ficverse. I figured I'd only mentioned it in passing. But once I tried looking for where I had mentioned it, I realized... it hadn't happened. At least, not that I could see. So this was the perfect opportunity to include a fic like this. After all, dueling is an essential part of their characters and relationship.
- This wasn't how I originally imagined the scene. I'd figured Seto would be a lot more pissed off, and Yami a lot more aggressive… and then I realized that that couldn't happen, not if what Yami said about Seto defeating his rage was true (see the mangas, end of Alcatraz). So as usual I let them chose their own path, move by move, and I think it worked out in the end : )