Title: Wicked

Pairing(s): Interpret as you will.

Rating: T

Warning(s): Language, blood, & death.

Note(s): Something that crossed my mind this morning. Spoilers for 152, and some speculation for the aftermath of the series is included. If you haven't been keeping up with the series, some parts will confuse you.

"For death begins with life's first breath and life begins at touch of death."

-John Oxenham

It was just past midnight when he received the call.

At first, he wasn't able to fully understand what Ushio was trying to say. He stumbled on every other word and his voice was shaky and teary around the edges. But by the time he heard the words "gunshot" and "mortally wounded," he was already on his D-Wheel, headed toward the Neo Domino Hospital.

"Mortally wounded"- though he couldn't be absolutely sure, Yusei guessed Ushio meant Mikage. This was not the first time he had rushed to the hospital to support one of the two security officers; over a year ago, Mikage herself had called to say that Ushio had been in a serious accident. He expected the two would brush up with dangerous situations from time to time with the nature of their job. Still, that didn't make it easy when something serious did happen to one of the two. Though Ushio had been able to make a full recovery after his crash, Yusei could feel his insides twisted at the idea of Mikage now being the one fighting for her life.

Jack and Crow were already there by the time Yusei arrived. With them was Kazama, who was sitting pensively in the corner with a shadow of doubt hanging over his face, and Ushio, clearly in meltdown mode. He assumed Aki had not arrived yet and knew that the twins were not even coming (he felt it would be too cruel to drag them out of their beds and into such a dreary situation). He also bitterly noted that Mikage was not present.

"What happened?" Yusei asked. There was an edge in his voice.

"Mikage was shot on duty. She's in surgery right now," Crow replied.

"I figured that much. I mean, what happened?"

Jack gave an angry shrug. His amethyst orbs were swimming with an indiscernible emotion.

"Hell if we know. Kazama wasn't there and that fool over there can't calm down enough to tell us," he said callously, referring to Ushio. For a moment, Yusei looked sympathetic toward Jack. He knew he and Mikage had a history, one he didn't know very much about (but enough to know that it was, to her disappointment, platonic). And while he had no idea how close he and Mikage truly were (especially in relation to his other two suitors, Carly and Stephanie), Yusei knew that Jack cared about her on some level.

He felt worse for Ushio, though.

It didn't take a genius to figure out he harbored deeper feelings for his partner. It was clear each time he saw the older man cast her a glance with how his attentive eyes would soften around the edges. The way he was acting now only confirmed it. Ushio was pacing back and forth in a flurry of panic, chewing on his bottom lip and looking so vulnerable that it made Yusei uncomfortable to see him in such a panicked state. Something suddenly struck him and, feeling weak in the knees, he sat down beside Jack.

"Does she have any family?" Yusei asked, darkly. He had realized, with sharp pain like a punch to the gut, that if Ushio was this worked up, then the situation was beyond serious. It was life-threatening.

"Her older sister's on her way. It's a five-hour flight, though," Crow said.

"And her parents?"

"Dead," Jack replied coldly.

It was then that Aki rushed in with her hair disheveled and wearing what she had probably been sleeping in before being woken up by a phone call bearing grim news.

"I came as soon as I found out," she said, sounding both exhausted and bewildered. "How is she?"

"Don't know yet. Doctor hasn't given us an update," Crow replied, shaking his head. Aki stood there for a moment, paralyzed. It wasn't until Yusei gestured for her to sit beside him that she moved.

And then they waited.

Yusei only checked his watch once during their time in the lobby; it had read 1:12 a.m., and that felt like forever ago. Aki sat there twiddling her thumbs nervously, constantly playing with her hair or tugging at the edge of her shirt or fingering the buttons on her cell phone- anything to keep her distracted. After watching her for long enough, Yusei realized it was Mikage's number she was dialing over and over again.

His breath was caught in a throat for a moment. Mikage was Aki's friend too- perhaps even her best one. In times of crisis, Mikage was probably one of the first people she called. Without a second thought, he reached out and gently touched her hand. Her fidgeting immediately ceased, and she brought her eyes up to his.

"Try not to worry so much. It's out of our hands now," he said, squeezing her hand for emphasis. There was a flash in her amber irises, one he was quite familiar with. He saw it each time she reached a conclusion, each time she resolved to do something or resigned herself to whatever fate had in store for her. It was both terrifying and fascinating.

No sooner had this happened, a nurse approached the anxious group with a grave look painted upon her pale cheeks. Yusei's heart dropped; she didn't even have to say anything, because he already knew. He sucked in his breath. Although he knew this was procedure, he wished she would leave and let them mourn without having to hear the words they feared most.

Ushio went to go talk to the nurse, but Kazama immediately stepped in between them, with a hand held up toward Ushio. Their eyes connected for a moment, and though not a single word was spoken, there were a thousand things said. Kazama and the nurse spoke quietly to one another off to the side, and though they were at a distance, Yusei could see the tears form in Kazama's eyes. Aki saw them too, but she did not cry. Instead, her lips pressed firmly together and her head fell.

After the nurse left, Kazama came back to the group, wiping the moisture away from his eyes. The group held their breath with a sickening anticipation.

"She... She... didn't make it," he said shakily.

The silence was so thick it could be cut with a knife. By then, tears were pouring down Ushio's cheeks and he was too distraught to even attempt to hide them. Jack hung his head in the palms of his hands and remained motionless. Crow put a comforting hand on his friend's shoulder and looked away. Yusei wrapped arm around Aki and pulled her close to him, figuring she needed whatever consolation he could offer.

"But... the nurse said we could go see her in the operating room... Y'know, to say our good-byes..." Kazama continued. Aki's reaction to this offer surprised Yusei.

"Okay." Her voice was flat, devoid of any emotion. Suddenly, everyone's eyes were focused solely on her.

"Okay, what?" asked Kazama. She looked at him as if he were an idiot.

"Okay, I want to see her," she clarified. Yusei had expected her to act much differently; he could distinctly remember how destroyed she was when she learned of Divine's passing, but now she looked as though death meant nothing to her. Her eyes were hard, every muscle in her body, tense.

"Aki..." he said uneasily.

Yusei felt a wave a nausea sweep over him when he entered operating room in which Mikage's body laid motionless. It wasn't the first time he had seen a corpse, but somehow, this was different. There was still color in her cheeks, her lips were still pink. There was still warmth radiating from her, as if she were still alive. He had to look away, though his eyes fell upon the tools that had operated on her only minutes earlier, unclean as they were stained with her blood.

He closed his eyes and leaned against the wall. He had lost people important to him before; Kiryu, Antimony... and even though he and Mikage did not share the same kind of friendship as he had with those who died before, she was nice company and he enjoyed talking to her whenever she visited. Furthermore, the very fact that there were other people in the room who were close to her (even to the point of loving her) made his eyes burn.

"Damn," Jack said. He sounded torn, like he really didn't know what to do with himself. Then again, who among them did?

Aki pulled up a wayward chair up to the table and sat beside her friend, reaching under the blue cloth that covered her body and took hold of her hand. At this point, she seemed more shaken than earlier; perhaps, Yusei figured, because the reality of her friend's passing was just now setting in. He could hear Ushio struggle to suppress a loud sob. The sound alone was enough to cause Yusei's heart to stop, even if for just one moment.

Time passed.

Aki gripped Mikage's hand tighter. There was an intensity growing in her eyes, one Yusei could not even begin to comprehend. He knew she was planning on studying abroad in Germany, hoping to obtain a degree in medicine. He suddenly wondered if this would affect her decision; whether it would send her spiraling into a sort of depression that would keep her from leaving, or even further motivate into becoming a doctor to ensure this type of thing would never happen to her again.

Finally, Aki reached down and kissed Mikage's now ghostly white knuckles. Her feline-like eyes looked upon her friend with compassion and longing, as if they were begging her. The intensity never left them, however.

He inhaled sharply when he swore he saw Mikage's fingers curl in Aki's hand. He stumbled backward and felt downright sick when a gasp for air tore from Mikage's lips, as if she had been drowning in water and had just now reached the surface. The others in the room reacted similarly when her eyelids fluttered open and she attempted to sit up.

Perhaps he was dreaming. Or maybe he was hallucinating. But no matter how hard Yusei tried to reason with himself, he could not change the fact that he was seeing a woman who had been dead for the past fourty minutes now looking very much alive.

"Where am I?" she asked. Her speech was slurred and difficult to understand, but she was speaking nonetheless. Ushio fainted. Kazama and Jack looked like they had both seen a ghost (which wasn't too far from the truth). Crow was the one who tried to answer her, but he was unable to articulate his words. Yusei noticed none of this, however, because his eyes were glued to Aki the entire time.

Had he... ?


He had just watched Aki Izayoi bring someone back from the dead.

"Is this really necessary?" Mikage asked, having returned to her usual, well-spoken self. She looked both tired and irate; they had yet to tell her why so many nurses suddenly swarmed around her when she rose from the operating table. She thought she had simply been sleeping, and now she was confused, frustrated, and unable to understand why dozens of tests were being run on her at once.

It was a massive understatement to say the hospital's doctors were baffled by Mikage's inexplicable resurrection. This concerned Yusei; he had sincerely hoped that there was a medical explanation to what he had just seen. He did not want to believe Aki had risen the dead; actually, the very thought of it terrified him. She said her powers had vanished; she didn't wear her metal hairclip anymore, no longer having need for it and its restrictive abilities. Yusei laughed to himself, finding irony in the fact that he never feared the destructive might of her psychic powers two years ago when he first dueled her in the Fortune Cup, but he found them horrifying when they enabled her to perform a miracle.

A doctor suddenly approached the group, his eyes wide with awe.

"We are going to remove her shirt to further examine her gunshot wound. I think Miss Sagiri would appreciate it if you left for now," he said, sounding a bit shaken. Yusei nodded in understanding and he lead the others out. The doctor followed them.

"So, do you have an explanation for all this, doc?" Ushio asked, holding an ice pack to his head, having apparently hit his head after his fainting spell in the operating room. His eyes were still red from crying (and lack of sleep; last Yusei had checked, it was nearly four in the morning). The doctor shook his head.

"I'm afraid not. Actually, I've never seen anything quite like this in all my years of practicing medicine," he replied. The doctor suddenly paused and removed his glasses, cleaning them. "It's unbelievable, really... I saw the irreparable damage the bullet did to her aortic valve with my own two eyes... Now, it's as if she was never even shot. The internal bleeding has stopped altogether and her wound is already showing early signs of healing." Jack shook his head, still unable to wrap his mind around it all.

"How is it possible then that she's sitting in there, looking alive as she's ever been? Was she even dead?" He asked through gritted teeth. He wasn't upset that Mikage was alive, just frustrated with the fact that no one knew why she was.

"Yes, Mr. Atlas," replied the doctor tiredly. "I was there when she flatlined. Miss Sagiri was clinically dead for 48 minutes; I even signed her death certificate." Jack's pale skin looked a little green at this. He opened his mouth to argue with doctor further when Yusei interrupted.

"Thank you, doctor," he said. The doctor nodded curtly to them and headed back inside the room to attend to Mikage. As soon as the door shut behind him, Crow turned to the others.

"I... I don't even know what to make of this," he said, scratching the back of his head in disbelief. "I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm happy she's alive. I just... I don't know." Kazama shrugged.

"Perhaps God decided it wasn't her time yet," he offered as an explanation. After Kazama said this, Aki stiffened. As her late-night companions continued discussing what they had seen, she left. Yusei watched her carefully for a moment before deciding to go after her.

"Be right back," he murmured, though no one even heard him.

Aki was sitting alone in the snack lounge, staring out the window at the dimming city lights when Yusei found her. She barely cast him a glance when he pulled out a chair and sat across from her.

"Can you believe it's almost sunrise? What a long night..." Aki sighed. "I suppose I won't be going to school tomorrow... er, today." Yusei knew this was just smalltalk, because Aki clearly wasn't interested in discussing what happened. He, on the other hand, was.

"Aki..." he began very seriously, leaning toward her from across the table. "How did you do it?" Aki didn't make eye contact; she couldn't.

"Do what?"

"Don't play this game with me. I know what I saw." He hated the way he said it; he sounded angry, which he wasn't. Amazed, or scared would be a more appropriate word. Aki closed her eyes, looking pained; Yusei realized her expression was similar to the one he saw in this very hospital two years before, when she had awoken from her coma to discover her whole world had been turned upside-down.

"I made a mistake," she said gravely.

"I'm not sure if you can call that a mistake," Yusei said, half-laughing. It was true; as much as the idea that Aki had brought Mikage back to life alarmed him, he wasn't sure it could necessarily be considered a bad thing. None of them wanted to Mikage to die and everyone was relieved she was now alive and well... They were just disturbed by how that came to be.

Aki remained silent. Yusei cleared his throat, deciding to try a different approach.

"I thought your powers were gone," he said. She sighed.

"I thought they were, too."

"Then why... ?"

Aki hesitated.

"At first, I barely even noticed it. The things that happened seemed so small, so insignificant. I'd get a paper cut of my finger, bruise my knee in gym class... then, the next day, it looked as though never anything happened. I didn't think much of it; sure, I thought it was a bit strange, but... Well, I was convinced all traces of my powers had disappeared." She paused and inhaled deeply before continuing. "Then... while I was prepping dinner in the kitchen one evening, I cut myself with a knife. It was pretty serious... enough for someone to go to the hospital to get stitches. I remember crying out in pain and grasping my injured hand quickly. And suddenly, the pain dissipated. I looked at my hand to see that the wound was healing itself right before my eyes. I knew then that I still had it in me. My powers, I mean."

She lowered her head, looking ashamed before continuing.

"Naturally, I was curious; I wasn't aware I had the ability to heal before. So I started testing myself. I wanted to know if I could heal others since it was clear I could already heal myself. I started small; from literally kissing a bee sting on Ruka's finger better, to easing the pain in Crow's jaw after that guy he was trying to arrest punched him. I kept pushing myself further and further until..." Yusei knew she didn't want to speak of it anymore but he coaxed her into continuing.

"You know the little girl, Haruka? The girl I've been visiting for the past few months?" she asked.

"Yeah?" Yusei replied, raising his brow.

"Well... You know, she's getting out a couple of weeks earlier than the doctors first projected..."

At this revelation, Yusei looked shocked.

"You mean... ?"

"Yeah," she said with a guilty smile. "That was me." The younger woman's shoulders sagged suddenly, and she looked down in her feet, her smile quickly disappearing

"But... I came to realize that even though my powers could be used for good, I still didn't want them. All I had ever dreamed was to be normal; to not stand out, to just be a regular teenage girl. So I swore off using my powers. If anyone ever found out about them, my life would turn into a media circus. People would want me curing their daughter of leukemia, or riding their lover of their STD's. And I wouldn't be able to refuse, because I like it in a way; I like helping people."

"Is that why you want to become a doctor?" Yusei asked quietly. She nodded.

"I thought that if I did, I wouldn't be tempted to use them. I could help people without being some kind of miraculous healer," she confessed.

"But..." He paused and inhaled deeply. "That still doesn't explain how did you brought Mikage back to life." Aki pursed her lips.

"I didn't know I could. I was so worried on the drive here, thinking only the worst. Mikage's a sweet woman and I didn't want anything bad to happen to her," she said.

"Which is understandable."

At that, the corner of Aki's lip tipped upward, but it didn't stop her eyes from watering.

"Yet, while I was waiting next to you in the lobby... There was something wicked flowing through my veins. What if I could bring someone back to life? I had never tried it before, bringing something or someone back from the dead. I was certainly curious, but I fought myself on it. It seemed so wrong; why, if I could decide who lives or who dies, then that makes me..." She swallowed and lowered her voice to a whisper. "...God."

The gravity of her words hit Yusei like a ton of bricks. He stared at her, dumbfounded, his mouth slightly agape. But, she was right; having such a powerful ability did, in more ways than one, make her like God.

And that was the part he feared most.

"Yusei," she began, her expression serious. "You must promise not to tell anyone; not even Mikage. I'm pretty damn lucky the others didn't figure out it was me, and I want to keep it that way." Yusei snapped his mouth shut.

"Aki, we're you're friends. We wouldn't ever-"

"Yusei," she warned. He looked at her; he noticed the way her eyes begged him, the apprehension that ran along her brow, how her pink lips were parted slightly, ready to convince him further if she needed to. He took her hand into his as he had earlier that night, running his thumb across the soft skin of her palm.

"I promise."

They stayed like for a long while, watching the sun rise from the window. Aki was crying, silently. He didn't know what to say though, so he said nothing; a reassuring smile and tighter grip on her hand was all he could offer.

"I-I know I'm selfish," she stuttered through her tears. "Mikage won't want that kind of attention either. People will swarm around her, thinking she's some kind of second Christ after being resurrected from the dead. B-but I can't... I can't..." Yusei tried his very best to hush her.

"Don't worry about it," he said comfortingly. "No one will ever know; the others and I won't speak a word of it if we all agree not to. The doctors have patient confidentiality. The important thing is that she's safe, and you're safe." Aki didn't reply as she laid her head down on the table, nodding off into a light sleep.

By the time Yusei and Aki had returned to the group, Mikage was up and walking. The nurse had insisted she be in a wheelchair, but she insisted she not be in one. The doctor they had spoken with earlier was in the middle of signing the papers allowing to be released from the hospital.

"I honestly don't get what all the fuss is about," she said, nibbling on a bagle. A funny question struck Yusei as he watched her take conservative bites of her complimentary breakfast: Were you hungry after you died, or did dying ruin your appetite? "I mean, I get that I was shot- but really, I feel great. Healthier than usual, actually," she continued. As she said this, Jack stared at her as if she were some sort of freak before grunting and turning away. Yusei raised his brow in question, looking at Crow.

"We, uh... decided not tell her. About the coming back from the dead part, I mean," Crow said quietly. "We agreed it would only unnecessarily... complicate things for her." Yusei nodded in understanding.

"I think that's wise," he said coolly. Aki did not seem to being paying attention to the conversation at all, her eyes searching the area.

"Where's Kazama?" she asked finally.

"He went to go pick up Ayumi from the airport... Mikage's sister, I mean," Ushio replied.

"Ah," she said before retreating back into her thoughts. Mikage sighed and set her breakfast aside.

"I feel bad about that... I'm perfectly capable of going and getting her myself..." she said. Ushio shook his head.

"Nope, sorry Mikage, but for the next two weeks, you're following the doctor's orders. No driving and no going to work; just staying in bed until you make a full recovery," he said. Mikage's lips tightened.

"Two weeks? That's an awfully long time... Are you sure the Special Investigations Team will be alright without me?" she asked. He smiled and ruffled her already messy hair.

"I'm sure we'll manage. We're all just glad you're alive," he said.

After all the paperwork filled out and signed, Mikage was finally free to go- and she was certainly glad to leave. Still, she and Ushio continued arguing about her two week leave from work in the parking lot. Yusei allowed for one, rare smile cross his lips as he watched her climb into the police cruiser; he decided, it didn't matter to him how or why Mikage had gulped in a breath of fresh air nearly an hour after all of other body's functions had ceased to operate. He, among all his friends, was simply happy she was back.

He ultimately decided to drive Aki home in her car; she was far too tired to drive in her condition anyway. He would come back for his D-Wheel later, after calling the Momentum lab and informing them he wouldn't be coming in today. He needed sleep, too.

"I'm sorry you have to do this," Aki said, her eyes heavy with sleep and struggling to keep open.

"I'm not doing it because I have to, I'm doing it because I want to." His eyes flicked toward her. "I hope you'll do the same."

She smiled.


Comment(s): I didn't include the twins in it, because I felt they would be out of place as they are children. Besides, I don't think the group would ever call them in a situation like this, especially since they are tweens living all by themselves.

I really hope you enjoyed this. I tried to put a lot of depth and thought into it, for your enjoyment.