Two Roads diverged in a yellow wood

And sorry I could not travel both...

~Robert Frost

The television was at a dull volume, the only purpose of it to act as a background noise. The city lights glowed through the windows of the condo, casting everything in a warm soft tone. She sighed as she sat back down on the couch, mug of tea in her hand. It had only been a few months since she moved back to the city, Domino. She thought it would be the first step to fixing everything she had done wrong, when she sent her life into a tailspin.

"And welcome back to the KC Grand Prix introductions...We have a fine repertoire of duelist from..." It was then that she drowned everything out, the steam of the tea reaching upwards, caressing her face with its touch.

"That could have been me," she thought to herself. "I could have been there." But she wasn't. After the DOMA fiasco, she has opted out of the Grand Prix, leaving Seto Kaiba scrambling for another duelist to fill her place. She hadn't touched her cards since her last duel, at the headquarters of Paradias, as if she were afraid to lose herself again, even though there was no Orichalcos to guide her there.

She had made a lot of changes since the incident. She had tossed away the DOMA issued duel disk and the cards that went with it, including Harpy's Sparrow Formation, the card that sealed the deal many times for her. After all, why would she used a card that caused so much misery? Especially to her? She burned the clothing she wore during the time, going back to her old outfits, instead of wearing the black leather like she was some bad biker chick, something she was not. So many choices she made, and they all came crashing down on her.

For you see, life is like a Jenga tower; pull the wrong blocks, make the wrong choices, and the whole thing, life, comes crashing down, forcing you to start over. Pull the right ones, you'll triumph in the end.

And Mai Valentine pulled all the wrong ones.

The old church down the street started to ring the bells, signaling the time. The small church was the last few remnants of the past, surrounded by condominiums and skyscrapers. Yet it still persevered, clinging on valiantly. Mai wondered what would happen if she went down to the church once, like she had once did as a child, going to the Masses with her parents, at least, until life got in the way and they stopped.

She snorted at the thought of even going to confessional "What would I even say to him? "Hello Father I come to confess my sins. I tried to take the soul of my best friend and-" she paused at the last part, but it was too late, her mind had already supplied the word, even if she didn't say in in her mind.

Love.

She nearly dropped the mug from her hands and she cursed silently to herself as she narrowly prevented the mug from falling to the cream carpet. It made so much sense to her now; everything she did towards him. Even-

"Even Dartz." she realized with a start. "Dartz had turned our weaknesses against us. Raphael's jaded views towards humanity, Alister's desires for vengeance for his brother, Valon's desire to make something of himself, even my own, turning my... "feelings" for him, twisting them into something dark and so wrong."

Her thoughts fell silent as she watched the television with mild interest. He was to be competing in this tournament. If she had chosen to stay, she would have run into him. Then what? What would have happened? Would he had forgiven her by then? Would he give her the cold shoulder? Or something else? Maybe reciprocating those feeling? She snorted at the last question; that was highly unlikely, considering it was Joey Wheeler she was talking about.

But what if? There was always choices in life, there was no grey areas, she had learned early in life, only black and white, right or left, two paths-

And you're always forced to choose one, as she did so many times. But what if she had made different choices? What if she had decided to refuse Valon's offer? Or decided to compete in the Grand Prix? How life would be different then.

The church bells gave their last ring and fell silent, to be lost in the noise and chaos of the city. Maybe the bells signaled something. What she didn't know, but she had the nagging feeling that deep down, they were supposed to mean something. She had lost her faith in God long before the occult of the Millennium Items came along—jaded by life and what she had seen, but deep in a jewelry drawer somewhere laid her rosary she had since she was a young girl. She got up, compelled suddenly to retrieve it. She wound her way into her room and pulled her jewelry drawer out, her hand reaching down to pull the string of beads. She thumbed the rosary, her fingers gently caressing the crucifix.

It then hit her like a thunderbolt from the sky; the bells meant something new. A new beginning, a chance to rebuild that tower of life and to make the right decisions again. While she may not still have her faith, she still could rebuild, start anew.

Her eyes trailed over to her cell phone, resting on her nightstand, and she reached over to grab it. She still had the Kaiba Corp number, maybe if she couldn't compete...

I took the one less traveled by, .-

-And that has made all the difference.

XXXXXXXXXXXX

As with many authors, I have a tendency to give the characters 'quirks'. I once made Seto Kaiba a guitar player, and here, I made Mai and her family Roman Catholic as a child. It made sense to me oddly enough. I could see her as a child who went to the Masses as a little girl, but as she got older, she got more rebellious and questioning, as many teens do nowadays. Add in some 5000-year-old occult magic and voila!

I'm considering continuing this, into a three-parter, but they won't be posted into one file; each one will be separate. I hope you enjoyed!