A/N: Written for a 78 tarot challenge community over at LiveJournal. The prompt was Four of Swords. This is set during season four soon after the hospital scene.

In a show about card games (barely) no one likes to read fanfic about actual duelling. So here's my attempt to make duelling interesting to read. Please tell me how I managed.

Disclaimer: Kazuki Takahashi and all associated companies are the rightful owners of the Yuugiou! franchise and I claim no association with any of them. No copyright infringement intended with this and no money is being made from this. Please support the creator by purchasing the official releases.

Warnings: none.


Reconnaissance

They had come a long way to be finally standing here again – eye to eye, two former enemies. The battle had been fought, but neither of them had felt particularly victorious afterward: too many things had been put to test, too many sacrifices had been made, too little was left to gamble. They simply stood there, not knowing what to say. What could you say to one's former enemy after the outcome of the battle had put them both on the same side?

I know why you did it, said Kaiba's eyes, but not his lips. It felt out of place – and condescending besides – and he no longer had the heart (or the will) to be that to this man.

I'm sorry – for everything. I'll leave, said Amelda's eyes, but his mouth remained closed. It was no longer the time and place to be saying that, and he certainly was not in any position for it either.

Now that they didn't need to throw insults at each other and try to win a duel with the highest possible stakes, there was nothing left – not even the slightest whisper of the thrill which they had felt when being confronted with the possibility of losing and the successive mad rush to emerge on top, no matter what. Certainly, their standing points had been crystal clear just a little while ago, no doubts or unnecessary questions… What were they now? Two men who walked the same road, but on the opposite sides? Maybe opposite directions, even. Nothing but a reflection in a broken mirror, and they were the mirror themselves.

"Nothing's over yet." It was voiced as a question despite the rather flat tone with only the slightest rise in Amelda's voice. His expression was unreadable, for the most part.

Kaiba's mouth twisted in something that could have been disgust or amusement, and maybe something else as well. He snapped out of this odd reverie, regained himself and his slipping composure, and turned to leave. There was nothing for him here.

"I'll prove you that the draw was a fluke," were his parting words.

Amelda snorted, tucked the toy robot which he still held in his hand into a pocket of his coat and followed him outside. This he knew. This he was comfortable with.

"Just like your victory," he bit. "I felt generous enough to let you have it, former King of Games." He put special emphasis on the last four words.

Kaiba shot him a glare over his shoulder. "Your deck is the second most pathetic thing I've ever seen. You couldn't win even if I you had two thousand points of handicap."

"Would you like to put it to test?" Amelda's voice was dangerously soft, his hands in his pockets, and Kaiba veered around.

"Right here, right now?"

Amelda shrugged nonchalantly. "Bring it."

"You get no handicap for being just out of a hospital bed," Kaiba cut back, turning his duel disc on and shoving his deck into the slot.

Amelda was already waiting, his disc ready and the deck already shuffled. "Same for you, for having just flown across half the world," he sneered right back at him and drew his five cards, thus taking the lead and leaving Kaiba glowering at him. "Jetlag shouldn't be a hindrance for you."

They were back. Back on stable grounds again, back on something they knew and could live with, and could feel confident and comfortable with. The fight continued, but this time for the sake of fighting and not because there were goals to reach. The stakes had changed and now they lived for the thrill and the exhilaration, and trading luck for one more card, one more tables-turning draw.

"So who has the worst deck?" Amelda asked absently after a few turns, rearranging the cards in his hand. He was currently in the lead by four hundred points and intended to double that gap by the end of his next turn.

"Huh?" Kaiba looked up from his cards with a frown, feeling taken aback for a moment before remembering his previous words. He scowled, finally having decided on a trap card and setting it down on the field. "Oh. Jounouchi."

"Oh, him."

The distaste on Amelda's face was not lost on Kaiba. He quirked an eyebrow and declared an attack.

"You know him?"

Amelda's monster withstood the attack thanks to his counter spell, but he cursed when Kaiba's trap card jumped into play, ripping into his life points. He was glad that Kaiba ended his turn on that.

"Not personally," Amelda said, drawing his card slightly more viciously than necessary and rethought his strategy all over again. The card he had wasted to save his monster was supposed to be for later. "One of the guys I," he searched for the right term, "worked with was obsessed with beating him. Just the mention of his name…" he trailed off to declare an attack, and then hastily defend. Their lifepoints evened out.

"Did he win?" Kaiba's eyes were on the cards in his hand. He couldn't summon his Blue Eyes White if Amelda kept trashing all of the monsters he summoned and he had just wasted a very good card to remain in the lead, but unsuccessfully. Amelda knew him too well, he concluded with displeasure.

Amelda made a face. He only had one magic card in hand that he could put to immediate use; he needed to draw a good card during his next turn. "No."

Kaiba snorted and decided to end his turn. There was nothing else he could do right now. "In that case, I may have misjudged your deck."

"Severely," Amelda cut, unable to suppress the smile at the card he had just drawn. "You're going down."

"You first," Kaiba sneered right back, but couldn't suppress the feeling that he was going to take a hit this time. The only face-down card on his side of the field couldn't shield him from receiving damage, but it could end everything. In a draw. And he couldn't, couldn't, couldn't have that. If he could just get one more turn, just one more…

He got three. And when the Ring of Destruction self-terminated, tearing Amelda's monster to pieces and depleting both of their remaining lifepoints, the counter grinding to zero, he got himself a draw and a very laughing Amelda.

"You have lost your touch, former King of Games."

"You had a lucky draw," Kaiba snapped in irritation. "Your trashy deck isn't capable of much else."

"Capable enough to force you to self-destruct," Amelda pointed out smugly and turned to leave, putting away his deck and pulling his sunglasses out of his inside pocket to slip them on. He shot Kaiba a toothy grin, light glinting off golden lenses. "Call me when you feel capable of a rematch."

"Amelda," Kaiba growled, glaring daggers at his retreating back before turning toward his own means of transportation. It was as much of a promise as he would ever get. Or would give himself.

They parted ways, no longer being enemies, but not entirely friends either. They were but two duelling acquaintances; two ships drifting toward a reconnaissance point only to part their ways again. And that was just fine, Kaiba decreed. That was just fine, for now.


A/N: Okay, I'll confess. I had to incorporate that line with sunglasses because I just. Couldn't. Stop. Thinking. About a Horatio Caine impression. Yeahhhh. Ohgod, it's never going to leave me now.