Hello again everyone! Here's yet another crossover for your reading pleasure. I've been working on this way too long so I can't give you the grand backstory behind it. It just took me forever to finished because I couldn't figure out how to end it. I managed, though, so here it is!
There isn't too much in the way of warnings. I'm pretty sure that I got the bit about the Mystical Elf wrong later in the fic but chalk that up to artistic license and the fact that I haven't exactly gotten around to watching the last arc of Yu-Gi-Oh (mostly because I don't want it to end!) Oh, and even though the fic doesn't reflect it, I'm totally shipping Seto/Raine.
I don't own YGO or Tales of Symphonia. There are spoilers for ToS, none for YGO, and ToS goes AU at the end thanks to a certain YGO character.
An ominous hum thrummed through the air, rattling teeth and bone and things not nailed to the floor. Scattered pebbles added their pitter-patter to the din, tap-dancing around the ground and against shoes. The street was lit by an unearthly glow, the night scared away by soothing white light that, in any other instance, would have been comforting and peaceful.
A raven-haired boy couldn't find the night to be any of those things; his blue eyes were filled with tears, his blue jeans and school shirt torn by shrapnel. Red streaked his bare arms and cheeks, mixing with the droplets streaming from his eyes. For Mokuba Kaiba, all that mattered was the brunette, his brother, twisting in midair against an invisible grip, hands clawing at the unseen force around his neck.
There was no sign of Yugi, of Jounouchi, of Otogi, or even of Bakura. The Kaibas were on their own, and it was looking as if this time they wouldn't be able to pull out of this mess. Mokuba didn't know what to do; if he ran off for help, then Seto would die. If he didn't, Seto would still die. The twelve-year-old felt helpless and angry as he tried to run to his brother's side and was once again thrown backwards by the same invisible force.
The one responsible floated above them at the center of the glow, an ageless man with empty blue eyes and limp blonde hair. His most striking feature was the glittering light on his black, shimmering blades of light. His wings were beautiful but terrible, this angel of death seeking to end Seto's life in the name of one thing.
"Don't you see now?" the cold, empty, horrible voice asked. "You're nothing. You can't even save your brother, can you? You have the power! You're the only one in this pathetic world who can do anything to stop me. And you can't even find the strength to save your own brother?"
"Stop this!" Mokuba shouted, rushing forward once again. He braced against the force that tried to force him backwards, planting his feet and shielding his face from the tiny bits of torn buildings and pavement that tried to spear him. New streaks of red joined the others on his arms but he didn't care. His only thoughts were for the brother whose struggles were weakening, the blue eyes losing their normal icy edge. "I'll do whatever you want, just let Seto go!"
The wind tore the words from his throat and he wasn't sure that he was heard. A sudden invisible blow knocked him backwards against a building and he felt a horrible pain in his shoulder blade, a cry of pain wrenched from his throat.
"Mokuba!" a familiar voice shouted and he turned towards it.
"Yugi, save him!" Mokuba cried, struggling upwards and cradling his left arm. "He doesn't have much longer left!"
Yugi's violet eyes widened, then immediately narrowed, a crimson glow burning forth from their depths. The Pharaoh stood straight and, with a blast of shadows, shattered the prison holding Mokuba's brother helpless. Seto fell to the ground and didn't move.
Yami ran forward to cover for him in case he was attacked again, while Mokuba staggered forward, arm swinging limply by his side, and dropped to his knees by Seto. "Seto?" he whispered, shaking his brother with his good hand. "Wake up!"
"Fools!" The angel's eyes narrowed, his face twisting into a sneer. "You have no hope of winning against me! His life shall be mine one way or the other!"
Ignoring the angel, Mokuba remembered the first aid training Seto had forced on him a few years ago and leaned forward, ear against his brother's chest. He held his breath, fear clenching his stomach, and only released it when he heard the steady drum of his brother's heart. Next was to see if he was breathing; Mokuba cupped his hand over Seto's nose and waited, praying he'd feel a flutter of breath against his palm.
There was nothing.
Mokuba cried out, a wordless shriek of grief, and glared bullets at the angel still ranting above them. Then he put the angel out of his mind and tried to remember what to do.
Prop his head up, check. Open his mouth and check his airway, clear. Mokuba then took in a deep breath, pressed his mouth against his brother's, and exhaled as hard as he could. Out of the corner of his eye he saw his brother's chest rise, then fall when Mokuba had to pull away for air.
He breathed for his brother again, and again, for so long that he lost track of time. He registered, in the barest corner of his mind that wasn't focused on Seto, explosions and rumbles and flashes of light, Duel Monsters crying and dying against the angel that had only wanted to make Mokuba hurt.
Finally, Seto breathed. He sucked in a breath just as Mokuba pulled away, coughing and hacking. The twelve-year-old remembered to turn Seto on his side and let him finish being sick away from him.
"There, you see!" he shouted at the angel, breathless but grimly victorious. "You were right, I did have the power to save him!" He clutched Seto's arm with a grip strong enough to bruise, but Seto was alive and groaning and that was all that mattered.
The angel sneered. "You can't save him. I'll have him and then you'll be nothing! What could a pitiful creature like you do against me?"
Yami, standing protectively in front of them, looked as if he shared the other's sentiments. "There is not much I can do alone," he grunted, hands stretched in front of them as if to prop up his shimmering barrier with his physical strength alone. "He is powerful."
"Then use his power against him, idiot Pharaoh," another new voice sneered. Mokuba glanced back to see Bakura stalking forwards, his hair wild even before the wind sent it flying about his face. The Tomb Robber, then, Mokuba knew. "Can't you feel it? There's another with that angel's power here."
Yami shook his head. "I am not as attuned to magic as to feel the minute shiftings of it about me, Tomb Robber. Besides, you know Seto has never willingly touched magic."
"I'm not talking about him!" the white-haired boy snapped. He stalked through Yami's barrier as if it weren't there, dragging Mokuba to his feet with his right arm. "I heard that madman's raving all the way down the street. He thinks Mokuba has the same power as him and I think he's right."
Mokuba could somehow feel the threads of magic that the Tomb Robber wrapped around his hand, the blackest shadows that tried to wrap the boy in their deceptively kind embrace. Under the invitation was chill and empty, darkness ready to swallow him whole and he shuddered.
"Don't fight me!" the spirit wearing Bakura's face snapped. "I want you at least whole enough to fight back against that winged menace trying to kill us."
The shadows found something at the core of Mokuba's being, a cluster of magic centered in his chest but reaching deep into his soul.
Seto winced at the scream wrenched from his brother's throat, the raven-haired boy's eyes rolling back into his head. His entire body jerked, shuddered, limbs flailing in a sight reminiscent of some of the exorcisms the CEO had seen in a few movies.
Above them the angel shrieked in rage. "Stop! You can't do that!"
"Watch me," the Tomb Robber dared. There was a sound like glass shattering and Mokuba fell still, looking unconscious save for the half-lidded vacant blue eyes.
"What have you done?" the angel shouted, a wave of power threatening to overwhelm Yami's frail shield. Then he calmed himself and grinned. "Well, it doesn't matter now. I know what you humans are like. It's only a matter of time before he comes to me."
There was an overwhelming sense of power and a blinding light. When both cleared, there was no sign of the angel, only a street torn asunder by unnatural causes. Seto, limbs still weak from his brush with death, forced his body to move.
"What did you do?" he snarled at the Tomb Robber, shaking hands scooping up his brother and holding him close.
"I undid the spells binding his body and soul," the white-haired spirit snapped. "I told him not to fight me. I must have broken him." He shrugged. "It doesn't matter now."
Seto wished dearly that he could reach for the knife hidden at his back, but with his arms full of dead weight all he could do was glare.
"Thank you for your assistance." Yami looked like he'd bitten off a sour fruit but the gratitude was genuine.
"I did it for me, not you or the brat," the Tomb Robber sniffed. A blink and he'd faded into the night.
"What's wrong with my brother?" Seto asked the reborn Pharaoh, voice cold. Yami held a glowing hand over Mokuba's heart, then his head.
"To use one of your phrases, it looks as if the Tomb Robber forced his mind and soul to shut down," Yugi said. "Now it's rebooting. We just have to wait for it to finish."
Seto didn't even bat an eye at the switch. "So what now?"
"Given the circumstances, we need to find someplace with wards to keep that guy out if he decides to come after you." Yugi scratched his head, and for the first time the brunette noticed just how off he looked. He was in his pajamas for one thing, and his normally spiky hair was disheveled and stood up in all directions. "That means my house or the museum. And you should call a doctor, Mokuba took a nasty hit when we showed up."
Much as the CEO loathed the idea of getting help from anyone, he had to admit that Yugi had a point. "Your house then," he said shortly. There wouldn't be any soft beds for Mokuba at the museum.
They began walking in silence, Yugi yawning every few steps but otherwise not seeming inclined to talk. If Seto had their location right then it was only a few blocks to Yugi's house and he was quietly glad for silence.
It wasn't to last, though. "Kaiba," Yami began. "What possessed you and Mokuba to be out tonight?"
That was a question Seto would have hoped to avoid. It was slightly embarrassing. "Mokuba," he answered shortly. He would not say how Mokuba had been awoken in the midst of a nightmare and insisted that they go out. He would not say how Mokuba had been blabbing about an imbalance in the magic around him, and he certainly wouldn't tell Yami that Mokuba had been convinced that the world had been torn asunder. He and Mokuba, he insisted in his mind, were not magic in any way.
And yet the Angel had seemed to think so. And the Tomb Robber had been convinced that whatever power Mokuba had, it would save them.
Seto didn't want to think of it. Instead he focused on the cause of their trouble. "What do you think of that angel anyway?" he asked, adjusting Mokuba in his arms. He wasn't about to admit his arms felt like jelly; he would carry his brother to the ends of the universe.
"He was powerful, but he didn't feel evil," Yugi replied. "It felt more like…" And he frowned. "It's a bit like you were when we first met. Misguided. His heart's filled with rage and anger and sorrow."
Seto snorted. "Really? Did you see what he did?" His voice was still a bit raspy from the force that had tried to crush his throat.
"I can only tell you what I felt. And he knew Mokuba." Yugi was the one who reached out to lost hearts; it wasn't too much of a stretch to think that the Puzzle's magic allowed him to peer more deeply into others'. It was that, perhaps, which had saved Seto from the fate that had befallen all others who had met Yami's wrath.
That was past, and right now he had his brother to think of. Luckily he didn't have to worry, as they turned a corner to find the Kame Game Shop with lights on and waiting for them.
"Grandpa!" Yugi said, running forward and withstanding the elder's hugs. Seto didn't quite step into the light, waiting a few minutes while Yugi explained things to his grandfather and awaited his reply.
"Well, come on in then," Sugoroku decided after a few moments. "We have to get you both looked at and settled for the night."
"Fractured shoulderblade," the doctor pronounced after examining the nonresponsive younger Kaiba. His multitude of minor cuts and scrapes had been cleaned and bandaged, which left the major injury for last. "We really should get him to the hospital, Mr. Kaiba."
With the hour stretching into 3am Seto snorted. "It's not safe. Do what you can here and I'll make an appointment for tomorrow."
The doctor sighed and pushed his glasses up on his nose. "You pay me incredibly well, Mr. Kaiba, but the welfare of your brother is important."
"Trust me when I say that he is safer here." Seto glared to push his point across. "If it'll make you feel better I can pay you to stay the night." It wasn't like he was going to be using the couch anyway.
"That's not necessary. I'll write a prescription for the pain your brother must be feeling; please make sure he sees an emergency room as soon as possible." With all of the Mutou's first aid kit scattered around him, as well as the supplies he pulled out of his own black bag, he set to work.
Seto didn't leave the room, watching Mokuba closely. His expression hadn't changed one bit during the examination, and even with bandages covering the scratches on his face and arms he hadn't flinched during their application. Even now he didn't so much as twitch as the doctor manhandled his arm into position, then started to wind bandages around him.
When the doctor bent Mokuba forward to better reach around him, something glittering caught Seto's eye. He edged closer, around, the different angle allowing him to better see. What he saw made him scowl, though his didn't do anything else for fear of alerting the doctor.
Sprouting from Mokuba's shoulders, there were the barest shafts of translucent light. They were nearly invisible; if Seto hadn't known what to look for he wouldn't have seen them. He doubted the doctor had seen them, or else he would have packed up and left regardless of the money.
With Mokuba's left arm immobile and the prescription for a painkiller in hand, Seto watched the doctor depart. When the other was safely away he grabbed Yugi and hauled him to his brother's side.
"What is this?" he asked testily, gesturing to the fledgling wings sprouting from Mokuba's shoulder. Yugi rubbed the sleep from his eyes and peered at the glittering light.
"Wings." It was a simple statement of fact, but the sight of them brought Yugi to full wakefulness. "That's unusual…" And it was Yami in front of him now, hands glowing softly as he retraced the Tomb Robber's movements. Hands above Mokuba's chest he stilled. "Here. There's something here, enmeshed in Mokuba's energy and body."
"There's nothing there," Seto growled, stepping forward and pulling open Mokuba's shirt. "See? There's…"
A glittering red gem winked at them from where it was embedded in the younger Kaiba's chest. Seto's voice faltered at the sight of it.
"That's never been there before." He was certain of it. Throughout all of the physicals, sports games, everything where Mokuba had inexplicably lost his shirt, there had never before been a red gem anywhere on the younger Kaiba. He hadn't even seen it during the doctor's examination just now. Surely the physician would have made note of it if he'd seen it.
"It has, we've just never seen it." Yami frowned, finger tracing the air around the gem. "See? Where his skin has calluses around it?"
Seto did see it, and he was unable to find the right words. He didn't even realize he'd sat down until Yami straightened and looked down at him.
"There are a lot of mysteries here, Kaiba, and a lot of answers we won't have until Mokuba awakens. First, tell me of your first memory of Mokuba."
How could Seto forget? He couldn't remember before he and Mokuba had been dropped at the orphanage, just remembered an aching sense of loss when he realized that his parents weren't going to come for him. Mokuba had been so scared, clinging to him…
Mokuba had been taller than him.
Seto started at the memory, head whirling around to regard the boy sitting obliviously next to him. He noted that his shirt was still open and he closed it, tucking the blankets around him more securely as well.
"Did you realize something?" Yami prompted.
"Hold on a minute," Seto snapped. Mokuba seen to he stood and started pacing, adrenaline chasing away any fatigue he might be feeling.
He'd always seen Mokuba as his younger brother, and his memory had always confirmed that. Mokuba was the smaller one, the one that needed to be protected, and even during that stint in the Memory World his memories had been confirmed. Mokuba, to his knowledge, had always been younger than him and smaller than him.
And yet, with the impossibility that had just presented itself, he was beginning to wonder…
"Mokuba hasn't changed," he realized; he didn't notice that he'd spoken aloud until Yami nodded. "I don't know why I never realized it. At the orphanage Mokuba was the one who protected me, he was taller and stronger and made sure that we didn't get into trouble. When Gozaburo took us in and I got older… he always called me older brother. Even back then."
"There was powerful magic at work," Yami surmised. "Enough to trick your mind and memory, and that of those around Mokuba. It was no fault of yours."
"So what's going on?" Seto growled, whirling around to look at the brother looking for all the world as if he slept. Vacant eyes gave him no answers and he scowled. "Mokuba's my brother! My memories of him can't be fake!"
"Not fake, simply altered," Yami soothed. "What you remember happened, but details may have been adapted to fit the reality that the magic around Mokuba demanded to be the truth. The threads are unraveling now," he noted, nodding at the wings that had grown while they talked. "That is why you are able to realize the discrepancies now. You can't blame Mokuba for this."
He didn't. He still loved Mokuba and would give his soul for him again and again. "Mokuba's my brother, no matter what may have tried to manipulate us. I just want to know," he snarled, hands clenching into fists, "who did this to us."
They sat in silence for a while. "So what would have happened, when time passed and Mokuba still didn't get older?" Seto asked after a while.
Yami shrugged. "It's likely that the angel didn't plan to leave Mokuba here that long. He wanted you dead, that's for certain, but why I can't fathom."
Mokuba would have been devastated, an emotional wreck, Seto knew. His mind whirled through the possibilities as the hour ticked into 5am and the sky outside began to lighten.
Seto didn't know when he'd finally given into sleep. He woke around 10am, his arms wrapped protectively around his younger brother, and had to think for a few minutes where he was and what had led there. The glittering wings arching out from Mokuba's back brought him back to the present quite quickly; they looked almost fully formed, the outermost crystals of light lacking their sharp points.
His body ached and he'd fallen asleep in last night's clothes. After settling Mokuba back under the blankets and noting the still-vacant stare, he allowed himself a luxurious stretch before casting his eyes about the Mutou's living room. All signs of the doctor's visit had been efficiently cleaned up and there was even a set of slightly wrinkled clothes on the coffee table.
"Yugi's gone to school," Sugoroku's voice informed him; he turned to see the elder standing at the door separating the apartment from the game shop. "Jounouchi brought some clothes for you, so if you want to I can keep an eye on Mokuba while you get yourself cleaned up."
Seto ran a few calculations in his head, the rate of Mokuba's wings' growth versus the time left until they were done, and decided he had enough time for a quick shower. Without another word he grabbed the proffered clothes and went in search of hot water.
Jounouchi's clothes fit awkwardly on him but were clean, something he decided was more important when there were no clients to see him. He phoned the mansion and requested his own clothes, as well as an extra set for Mokuba, and with that done he went back downstairs to see how his brother was.
Sugoroku acknowledged his presence, though he was focused on the bits of rice he was trying to coax into Mokuba's mouth. "What are you doing?" Seto snarled.
"He hasn't eaten or slept since he came in," the elder Mutou explained. "I was just trying to get him to eat something."
"I'll take care of him," the CEO said shortly, commandeering the bowl of rice and chopsticks from Sugoroku. The elder shrugged and went back out to his store, while Seto took Sugoroku's place. As concerned for his brother as he was, he knew that Mokuba had eaten a full meal the night before; if he wasn't aware by nightfall Seto would try to feed him. Until then…
His stomach grumbled and he smirked. He might as well eat what Mokuba couldn't; there was enough food in the bowl to feed both of them. He could save some for when Mokuba woke up.
By the time he finished there was, finally, a change. As the wings adorning Mokuba's back flapped once, twice, the boy himself blinked a few times and raised his head. Seto set his bowl down and leaned forward, meeting Mokuba's eyes.
The boy blinked, brow furrowing in confusion.
"Mokuba?" the elder Kaiba asked cautiously.
A few more blinks and then recognition. Mokuba launched himself forward into Seto's arms, clinging to him with his unbound arm. "Seto," he whispered, burying his head in his brother's chest. He was trembling, but there was no telltale warmth of tears against Seto's collarbone. "Mithos… he was here, wasn't he? He tried to kill you and get me to join him."
"I'm alive," Seto assured him. "Mithos… you mean that angel?"
Mokuba nodded. "He kidnapped me from my sister and promised that he wouldn't hurt her, wouldn't hurt Lloyd, as long as I did what he wanted." His eyes went distant, as if he were staring into the depths of memory. "After that… I don't remember! What did he do to me? I remember seeing you at the case worker's office and just knowing you were my older brother, and I remember everything since then. But between Mithos and that… nothing!"
Seto rubbed his back soothingly, swallowing down the jealousy and denial. Right now Mokuba was more important than anything. "It's okay," he soothed. "Listen, this might be a shock, but… look over your shoulder."
Mokuba lifted his head just enough to see and froze. He started breathing rapidly and clutched Seto's shirt as if it were the last solid thing in the world. "No," he whispered brokenly.
"No!" Mokuba shouted, twisting out of Seto's grip. He tore open his shirt and stared aghast at the red gem glittering innocently at him. "Get it off get it off!" he cried, fingers clawing at the gem as if it were a monster trying to burrow its way inside him.
"Mokuba!" Seto said sternly, gripping his hand and waiting until his brother looked at him. "Mokuba," he said more softly once those frightened blue eyes met his. "What's wrong?"
"He changed me!" Mokuba whispered, twisting away and running a hand through his dark hair. Seto pretended not to see the tears that dripped down his face. "I'm a monster now, you shouldn't get anywhere near me. He was right," he said brokenly.
"You humans," and Mokuba's face twisted into a hateful snarl. "You're all the same. I'm not human, I'm not even a half-elf anymore, and as soon as everyone knows I won't have anywhere to go. Then he'll show up, offering to help me, and I'll have no choice. I'll go with him and help him and I don't want to!" He sobbed and didn't resist when Seto pulled him into his arms.
"I won't let you go," Seto vowed. "I don't care if that… angel tries to turn the whole world against you. You're my little brother and that's all that matters."
Mokuba sniffled and he giggled. "You sound like a girl."
Before Seto could get indignant the younger Kaiba pulled away and grinned. "I smell food! I'm starving."
Shaking his head, Seto pulled out the leftovers he'd saved for Mokuba and watched him devour it all.
As Seto met their butler at the door and accepted twin bundles of cloth, Mokuba sat in the Mutou's living room and thought, hard. He remembered everything, even though he knew that the gem in his chest should have prevented it. The magic that had bound him felt of anger and greed, though ever since his awakening it had faded. Seto's latent magic, the magic he'd denied since he'd learned of it, was starting to wear at the malicious mana and reweave it into something less harmful.
What to do now was a mystery. Mokuba knew what had to happen. He had to get back to Sylvarant and Tethe'alla, find out what happened to Lloyd and Raine. But how?
Then Seto was back, a bundle of clothes in each hand. "Are you okay to take a shower on your own?"
Mokuba nodded. "I'll be fine."
His left arm wasn't his main hand so it wasn't too much trouble to get into the shower. It just made things slightly awkward when he went to reach for something and nearly overbalanced. After almost faceplanting he decided that kneeling was the best way to go.
When he was as clean as he could get he figured out how to use the towel one-handed, then pulled on the fresh pair of jeans and a dress shirt. He couldn't button it, not with one hand bound to his chest, and so he settled for putting his good arm through and tucking the loose sleeve into a pocket of his jeans; Seto could fix it for him later.
That done he stared at his reflection in the full-length mirror. He stared at his clone, his memory telling him that the hair hanging around his shoulders should be silver, that despite his not aging his hair had grown. There was no dissonance between who he'd been and who he was; despite his memory loss he'd been basically the same bratty kid as Genis Sage. No, what bothered him most was the gap in his memory between his willingly going with Mithos and meeting Seto. His hair had grown longer in that time, he remembered. But how long was that? What had he done?
The glittering wings caught his eye, so pretty and horrible at once. He fingered the red gem he could just barely see under the material of his shirt. He wanted so badly to rip it out, but he knew what would happen if he did. He wouldn't do that to Seto, wouldn't make him choose between the love he held for his brother and the monster he'd become. Seto wouldn't understand what happened to him, how Mokuba would change into a mindless monster if the gem was removed without the proper protections. But those wings… he couldn't stand to look at them.
As if reading his mind, the wings folded up and vanished. He blinked, turned around to make sure, and grinned.
"All right," he murmured to himself. "Now if I want you to come out…"
They unfolded and were once again adorning his shoulders. With his arm bound he wouldn't try to fly, but he was absolutely sure he could.
A knock on the door startled him. "Mokuba?" Seto's voice called. "You okay?"
"Fine," he answered, opening the door. As he did he willed his wings away and grinned at Seto's surprised blink. "I might need some help with my shirt though."
Seto fixed his shirt and sent him off to wait in the living room. Mokuba tackled Yugi's Playstation, figuring out the controller to a turn-based RPG one-handed and mowing down a cartful of mooks at every pass. He got so caught up in the virtual world that a tap on his shoulder startled him.
"Whoah!" Yugi yelped when Mokuba whirled on him, controller brandished as a weapon. "Hey, it's me!"
Mokuba nodded, breathing deeply to calm his suddenly racing heart. "Sorry, you scared me. Thanks for letting us stay over, your wards are a lot stronger than mine." That was something he'd have to fix when he got back to the mansion, now that he could remember to. Seto's fierce determination to keep him safe could only do so much for the latent magic around his place.
Yugi's eyebrow crooked up. "You can feel that?"
"Yeah." He glanced downwards, hand going to the gem in his chest without really thinking about it. "I'm… not human." He wouldn't call himself an angel, that was something Yugi had already seen. "I'm a half-elf. My real mother was an elf, my dad was human. We… elves and half-elves can use magic because we can feel the mana around us."
"I've never heard of anything like this," Yami said skeptically.
"That's because this world doesn't have elves and half-elves anymore," Mokuba said matter-of-factly. "You've all intermarried so much that you're all at least a little magic. You're not going to be casting anything like Indignation but you could all sting." He didn't know why he was so certain of that now. Yesterday he wouldn't have cared and years ago he hadn't even known of this world. But in the past few hours of game-playing, somewhere in the back of his head things he hadn't ever realized he'd noticed had meshed with old memories.
Yami crooked an eyebrow at him. "Really now."
Mokuba shrugged. "Just my theory. You can use magic, and Seto, and you're all regular humans."
"I wouldn't say Kaiba could use magic very loudly," Yugi chuckled. It amazed Mokuba, how they switched back and forth so easily. He would bet that the Millennium Puzzle had a mana signature just like an exsphere, but instead of the Pharaoh being a trapped spectator he was actually able to interact and switch with his host.
He shook his head to clear those thoughts. They only made him think of the gem in his chest, the mutated brother of the exspheres of Sylvarant and Tethe'alla. Those gems were created by attaching the inert gems to human hosts, then letting the gems feed off of negative human emotions until their power awakened. It took a special sort of charm to prevent the parasitic aspects of the gem from affecting its host while granting him or her its power. He wasn't privy to the details on just how Cruxis Crystals were different from exspheres, but he did know that without the special charm he was stuck with the one firmly in his own chest.
"It's good to see you up and around, anyway," Yugi decided. "What do you know about that angel that tried to kill your brother?"
"Mithos," Mokuba said distastefully, fingers clenching. "He's a half-elf too, but he's made himself into the most powerful being in our world. He's trying to kidnap a friend of mine, Colette, and make her into the vessel so his sister can come back. Me and my friends and my sister were looking for the way to weaken him so we can show him that we can reunite the worlds and revive the world tree. He's such a freak though, he's so obsessed with his sister that he's willing to let the world die."
At one time he'd considered Mithos his friend, but waking up with wings and knowing that the past eight or so years had been a lie… Well, even the best of friends had their limits. He didn't want to fight the first half-elf friend he'd had, but he would to save Seto.
"So what does he want with Kaiba?" Yugi asked.
Mokuba closed his eyes. "Judging by what happened… he didn't plan for me to regain my memories. He wanted to re-enact what happened with his sister. I'd be so angry that I would accept any help for revenge, not knowing that the innocent kid who offered was the same one who killed Seto in the first place." He shook his head and glared at the coffee table. "Well screw that! If he really wanted to try that he should have done that before he gave up the ghost back then." He'd known Mithos before as a kind friend, not as the avenging angel. But there had been certain events that had led to Mithos revealing his true nature, and that would lead to the angel's plans derailing on him. "I won't let him hurt Seto!"
"And what about your sister?" Seto's voice asked. Mokuba jumped up and ran to him, giving him the hardest one-armed hug he could.
"Raine will just have to deal," he said matter-of-factly. Then he sobered. "If she's still alive. It's been eight years…"
"She probably is," Yugi assured him. "Don't worry about that."
"So, bottom line," Seto began. "This Mithos character kidnapped you from another world eight years ago and dropped you here, where the spells he put on you made everyone think you belonged. Then he came back, tried to kill me, and then planned on recruiting you?"
Mokuba nodded. "This can't be Sylvarant or Tethe'alla, I'm sure of it. The mana levels are too stable, your World Tree must be working all right." If this world even had a World Tree. "So that means Mithos figured out how to get between all sorts of different worlds, and we're stuck until we figure it out."
That left all three of them in a living room with no clue how to move forward.
"Well, no matter what happens," Mokuba decided. "I need a Kendama."
Catch toss, catch toss, catch toss, catch toss…
"Absolute!" Mokuba cried, watching the spell manifest as a swirling ice pool and drown an unfortunate lawn ornament. He knew Seto was behind him watching, but he didn't waver as he moved straight into the next spell.
The kendama was far too small but it did the job, Mokuba decided as he finished casting Indignation and destroyed the one rose bush he knew his brother hated. He heard Seto swear as the thunder crashed to the ground and left a smoking crater in the dirt.
He grinned back at his brother. "Want to call the landscaper?"
"Don't do too much," Seto cautioned. "Your arm, remember?"
Mokuba waved the arm still in the sling, wincing at the deep pain in his shoulder but otherwise okay. "Yes, Seto, I'll be careful."
It was a few months after the first time Mithos had tried to kill Seto, and his fractured shoulder was healing up quite nicely. In the meantime both Mokuba and Yami had gone over the wards, Mokuba strengthening the spells Seto had subconsciously cast while Yami layered Shadow Magic on top of them. They had done the same thing at Seto's office, the school, and the Mutous.
Now Seto spent a lot more time at home, watching over his injured brother and coincidentally protecting himself in the event that Mithos showed up again. Mokuba, for his part, picked up a kendama again as soon as he was able, reacquainting himself with the feel of magic and his repertoire of spells. From the lowliest Fireball to the almighty Indignation, he'd begun to master each and every spell again.
His shoulder was aching, a sure sign he'd overdone it, and he decided that he was done for the day. He pocketed his kendama and stretched as much as he dared.
"Is your shoulder bothering you?" Seto asked as they went inside. They passed maids on their way to Mokuba's room, where he'd spend the rest of the night doing homework.
"Just a bit, it's fine," Mokuba grinned. "I'm just glad I mastered speed casting, if Mithos shows up it won't be a problem."
He was glad to be doing something that felt productive, even if there was no reason to think Mithos would ever come back. He just didn't want to be unprepared in case the evil angel decided to try something against Seto again.
More time passed with still no sign of Mithos. The sling came off and Mokuba was, if not in perfect shape, at least good enough. Seto stopped being as cautious, spending more and more time at work now that Mokuba didn't need so much supervision. Yugi and Yami, as well, stopped being constantly on the lookout.
That would turn out to be their mistake.
Mokuba was on his way home from school one day, kendama in his pocket and going over his math homework in his head, when a surge of mana just like that night so long ago had his head whipping around in the direction of the docks.
"Seto had a meeting down there!" he exclaimed, gut clenching in fear. Without regard for who was around him and who could see he was aloft, crystalline wings catching the breeze and lifting him high above the buildings of downtown Domino.
By air it didn't take more than a minute for him to get to the warehouse where Seto had been meeting with one of his suppliers. The ominous light from so long ago was back, the oppressive mana that was Mithos threatening to knock him from the air with its sheer presence. He landed and, without bothering to hide his wings again, he rushed inside.
Seto was there, on his knees in front of Mithos. The angel had a ball of blue energy gathering in his hands.
"No!" Mokuba cried, dashing forwards and deflecting the blow with a surge of magic from his hand. One of the walls shattered, raining debris everywhere. The roof above them screeched; it wasn't going to hold much longer.
"And here you are," Mithos sneered. "I knew you'd rush to your brother's rescue. Ready to come with me? I'll spare your pathetic older brother if you do."
"Never!" Mokuba snarled. "I would have sympathized with you if you hadn't tried to kill Seto and if you hadn't messed with my memories. I never wanted to be an angel!"
Mithos snorted. "It doesn't matter. In a moment you won't remember anything again and then I'll make sure things go right this time." He charged another energy ball.
"I don't think so!" And Mokuba was angry, so angry, and there was so much mana around him. His eyes flashed, his wings flapping as if to call the mana towards him. "I'll show you your powerlessness!"
Mithos was trapped by the ring of light around him, crying out as lightning shot from the hole in the ceiling. Then a sword tried to impale him as it followed the lighting down; he barely managed to avoid it, though the shockwave sent bits of shrapnel flying everywhere. And then another bolt of lightning trying to finish the job shot from the ceiling and hit Mithos. The cries of pain were music to Mokuba's ears.
The angel looked as if he could hardly stand upright, red streaking from a wound in his hair. He snarled at Mokuba. "I thought you were my friend!"
"Friends don't try to kill other friends, or their siblings. They certainly don't try to brainwash them." Mokuba glared at him. "If that's what you think a friend does then I don't think I want to be your friend!"
"We'll see." Mithos shrugged. "The door will stay open for five minutes. Come, or not. It's your choice."
A flash of light and he was gone, though the ominous light still remained. Mokuba glared at it, sorely tempted. Mithos was giving him a chance to get back to Raine, to Lloyd, to everyone that he'd left behind. Yet he had his life here. It wasn't one that was as glamorous or adventure-filled, but he had Seto and that was enough for him.
How could he choose? Raine was still waiting for him, and she was his biological sister, the one who had faced execution alongside him for being what he was. Seto had paid in blood to protect him, given his soul and would have sacrificed everything just to make sure he was safe. Even now, knowing that Mokuba wasn't truly his brother, nothing had changed.
A hand fell on his shoulder and he looked up at Seto. "Let's go."
"What?" Mokuba asked blankly. "What about the company? You can't leave here!"
Seto glared at the light. "We can beat him if we go through there? Then let's go. You have to go, and I can't be worrying about you. And, if I come with you, he can't come and kidnap me to use against you."
"Point," Mokuba admitted. "What about the company?"
"It'll keep. The market's slow and my vice president can take care of it for a while." Seto gripped his shoulder.
Mokuba nodded. "Then let's go."
They walked into the light together.
"So," Mokuba said as they rumbled in the back of a wagon headed towards Meltokio, "still not regretting coming with me?"
Seto was staring at the sky; without his laptop he felt lost. "No," he replied stubbornly.
Mokuba leaned against him, mindful of the kendama strapped to his belt. He'd finally been able to get his hands on a full-size weapon and he was quite satisfied with it; all of the bandits they'd come across had fallen victim to his attacks. They'd also found some clothes to better fit in; Seto had kept his long purple trenchcoat but had traded the jeans and black top for a pair of plain black pants, a loose short-sleeved shirt, and black leather boots. He was an accomplished martial artist and so had found some sturdy black fingerless gloves to protect his hands.
For Mokuba, he'd decided to keep his jeans, though he'd paid a tailor to dye them a less eye-popping color. To match his newly brown pants he'd chosen a simple but warm light blue long-sleeved shirt, a brown jacket over it for when they'd eventually have to brave the journey to Flanoir and the Renegades base there. He traded his sneakers for a pair of black boots, which he tucked the top of his brown jeans into. His belt he'd had custom-ordered to hold his kendama and a few other tools that he thought might be useful, and a pair of brown gloves was the last item he'd chosen.
"It's okay, Seto," he sighed. "I know it's not as glamorous as being the CEO of our own company, but this isn't so bad. Plenty of fresh air, time together, people trying to kill us…"
Seto snorted. "Sleeping outside, cooking over an open fire… I never did like camping."
"The houses of salvation are everywhere," Mokuba pointed out. "We haven't had to camp that much." Though it was irking, to say the least, to have to scrape change together from defeated bandits. The roadside churches/inns would take any travelers, in any shape – as long as they had the cash. Given that Tethe'alla had never heard of yen as a monetary unit, Mokuba and Seto had gone from extremely rich to barely getting by. They'd managed to save gald by camping instead of using the houses of salvation, as well as performing odd jobs. Still, the lack of funds gnawed on both of their nerves.
"Where are these friends of yours, anyway?" the elder Kaiba asked. "And will they remember you?"
Mokuba shrugged, swinging his legs off the edge of the wagon. "Who knows? My hair's started growing in white since the first time Mithos tried to kill you and I don't think they have hair dye in Tethe'alla. Maybe if I lopped it off and let the white grow out they'd recognize me?" After just a few weeks in Tethe'alla he had a horrible case of white roots already.
"Well…" And Seto didn't know what to say to that.
Mokuba snickered. "Yeah, I need a haircut. Sue me."
"We left our lawyers back in Domino," Seto deadpanned.
"Strange, nothing's changed since I've been here last," Mokuba murmured, peering over the crowd in Meltokio's main square right inside the city gates. "I'd have thought they'd have at least added more buildings or something."
"Is there anyone you know around here?" Seto asked
"Well, Zelos used to live here," Mokuba remembered. "He was in the upper quarter. We'll have to sneak up there though, and we can't be caught."
"Why?" Seto wanted to know as they started through the crowd.
"Well…" And Mokuba shifted guiltily before dragging Seto down to his ear level. "If I'm caught committing a crime I might be executed," he whispered.
"What?" Seto jerked up looking as flabbergasted as he ever had. The expression was a bit comical actually. "Why would they do that?"
Mokuba shrugged. " Half-elves accused of crimes are executed; that's just how it is." That's how it was, at least; after eight years he didn't know if Zelos had managed to convince the King to change his stance on the matter. He wasn't keen on tempting fate.
"What kind of a backwards place is this?" Seto muttered as they found the stairs to take them up from the shopping district and into the upper quarter of the city.
"It's a broken place, and Mithos broke it," the younger Kaiba shrugged. "That's why we have to fix it."
Seto couldn't argue with that and settled for following his brother through the busy city streets. Mokuba dodged around pedestrians and headed for where he remembered Zelos' house to be.
"There it is," he sighed, relieved. They'd managed to evade the soldiers and the house was in sight.
"People are in there already," Seto observed, his taller frame allowing him to see through the windows. "A teen in red, a man in pink, a girl in a purple kimono top?"
"That's them!" Mokuba cried, heart leaping. "They were here after all!"
Seto frowned. "Something's not right. Let me go first."
Mokuba nodded, clutching his kendama as his brother went and knocked on the door. He watched Zelos' butler come to the door, watched the two exchange words. Then the butler left and Zelos himself came to the door. A few more words where Seto waved his hand at about Mokuba's height, then Seto turned towards Mokuba's hiding place and waved him over.
"Hey shrimp, we missed you," Zelos grinned at him, mussing his hair before Mokuba could duck the swipe. "After you went off with Mithos we thought we'd never see you again. What'd you do to your hair?"
Mokuba rolled his eyes. "Is Raine here?" he asked instead.
"Sure, come on in. She'll be thrilled to see you again." Zelos gestured for them to come inside and let his butler close the door behind them. Mokuba walked into the main room nervously; it'd been so long since he'd seen Raine that he didn't know what he would do.
As soon as he walked in the room hushed. He didn't want to admit it but he was clutching Seto's trenchcoat like his life depended on it, and as he regarded the room he realized one important fact.
"None of you are older at all!" he accused, pointing a finger at Lloyd because that was the person who was closest to him. "I thought something was fishy around here but I didn't think it would be that!" Now Mokuba had even more questions, and he knew that there was no chance of him getting answers anytime soon. It was frustrating, annoying, and Mokuba vowed to go blow something up. Later.
"Um…" The brunette he was pointing to edged away slowly, brown eyes glancing up at Seto for help. His outfit certainly stuck out, bright red with brown pants.
For his part Seto rolled his eyes and tapped Mokuba on the head lightly. "Manners," he instructed his brother.
Mokuba also rolled his eyes, but backed off and bowed politely anyway. "Hey guys, apparently you don't recognize me," he muttered the last part under his breath. "It's me, Genis. But I've been called Mokuba so long now, you might have better luck with that."
Dead silence in the room and he sighed, straightening and running a hand through his hair. "Seriously. It's me. Yes, my hair's black, but see, it's coming back in white." He pointed to the rampant white streaks in his hair.
"Genis?" a woman asked from the back of the room, and for the first time Mokuba got a good look at his older sister. As soon as he saw her his heart lifted.
"Raine!" he cried happily, running into his sister's arms and hugging her close. Just like everyone else in the room she hadn't changed, her white hair and brown-orange robes still as familiar as the last time he'd seen her. Her eyes, a mirror of his own, were dripping tears onto his jacket, but he didn't mind because he was getting her robes nice and damp.
The room remained silent as they broke apart, Mokuba wiping his eyes with a gloved hand and grinning. "See? It's me!"
Everyone else gathered around him then, Lloyd ruffling his long hair while Colette tripped trying to get to him, a blonde and white blur flailing everywhere. Presea, purple pigtails still as gravity-defying as ever, managed to get in a hug before she was pushed aside by Sheena, the girl in the purple kimono top, who used a charmed slip of paper on him. It did nothing aside from burst into smoke, but whatever she was looking at she found, because she smiled and gave him a hug as well. Regal he didn't know very well but the blue-haired convict patted him on the head with his bound hands anyway.
"Where have you been?" Raine asked after everyone gave him room to breathe. "How'd you get away from Mithos? What happened to your hair?"
"It's a really long story," Mokuba admitted. "But I'd like you all to meet someone. This is my older brother, Seto," he introduced. "He's a pretty good hand to hand fighter, even though he doesn't use an exsphere." Despite the cost of making the cursed gems every fighter Mokuba had met used one; to their defense, the common person didn't know just what an exsphere was made from.
"Where's your esxphere?" Lloyd wanted to know, pointing to where it had been mounted on his hand. The younger Kaiba winced, then gestured to the couches scattered around the room.
"Like I said, it's a really long story. Maybe we should get something to eat while I tell you all what happened?" Mokuba wasn't sure how he'd explain everything, but he had to try. He still didn't understand everything himself, though.
A few hours later he thought he'd hit most of the high points. He'd explained how after Mithos kidnapped him, he'd awaked in Domino knowing only that Seto was his older brother. He told them an abbreviated version of the eight years after that, how he and Seto had inherited a company and worked together to run it. Then he told them about how Mithos had returned and a local mage had released the spells binding him, how he'd regained his memories.
At the end of it he saw several confused looks. "How could eight years have gone by for you, but just a few weeks for us?" Lloyd wanted to know. "It sounds awfully fishy."
Mokuba flipped his hair and glared. "I can't grow this in a few weeks," he pointed out. "And I was hoping one of you could tell me. I'm not sure how it could have happened either, but it did. I didn't even realize it until I walked in here and here you all were."
"So what about this spell Mithos put on you?" Raine asked. "How'd he do it? How are you still the same if you lived through eight more years than us?"
Mokuba hung his head; he hadn't wanted that question to come up. Now that it had, his only answer was to open his jacket and pull down the collar of his shirt. The reactions to the Cruxis Crystal in his chest were mixed; a few hands flew to mouths, a few swears were uttered, a few dark glares were sent his way.
"Speaking of which… Lloyd, can you still make Rune Crests?" he asked sheepishly, seeking out the brunette's gaze. He was one of the ones who had sworn at him, though Mokuba didn't hold it against them.
"Yeah, sure, I'll get on it just as soon as I find some more inhibitor ore," Lloyd sighed.
"And with all that doom and gloom, time for dinner!" Zelos announced. The pink-clothed redhead waved a spatula around for emphasis, and the smells coming from the kitchen were heavenly. Everyone was eager to abandon the doom and gloom to indulge in whatever Zelos had decided to make.
That night Lloyd, Seto, and Mokuba bunked in the same room. He got strange looks for suggesting it, given that each room in Zelos' mansion was a strictly two-bed affair, but he curled up with Seto and was asleep within minutes without any fanfare. Lloyd stared at them for a moment before shrugging and getting ready for bed. Seto pretended to sleep as the other brunette climbed into his own bed, but in reality all he could focus on was the form curled up next to him. Mokuba still trusted him, even after meeting his old friends and sister, and it made him that much more determined to protect him. He'd even managed to squash his jealousy at seeing Mokuba's obvious devotion to his sister. All that mattered, he told himself, was that Mokuba was safe.
Those exsphere things were going to be a problem, though. He saw how everyone in the room had had an exsphere, and that blonde girl, Colette, had a gem so similar to Mokuba's that he wondered if she also had wings. He'd seen just what power those gems had, though, and he wasn't about to take them lightly. On their trip to this town, he and Mokuba had been in their share of fights and he'd seen just how strong his younger brother had grown. He wasn't sure how much of that power was the gem, but he'd lost count of just how many times Mokuba had saved his life. He'd held his own, but there was an obvious power gap.
Well into the night a knock on the door startled him, though he didn't so much as twitch. Instead he held Mokuba fractionally tighter, glaring at the door.
It opened just a sliver, a white-topped head poking in. "Seto?" Raine called softly. "You still awake?"
He nodded, voice barely above a whisper as he responded, "Yes."
"Can I talk to you?" her voice asked.
It took him a moment to disentangle his clothes from a sleeping brother, but once he did he was able to slip out without problems. Raine was leaning against the wall across from his door, examining some trinket that she slipped into her pocket as soon as he appeared.
"Let's go downstairs so we don't wake anyone," she suggested. He just shrugged and followed her. He sort of guessed that she wanted to talk about, and for once he just wasn't sure how to deal with it. He could negotiate contracts with hostile companies. He could take over hostile companies with his hands tied and only a pencil in his mouth to press the computer keys. He just didn't know how to deal with people as people, not potential business contracts.
Once they were downstairs and settled onto comfy couches Raine sighed and leaned forward. "So, you're his brother."
There was no need to ask who she meant. "Yes," he said shortly. "We're not related by blood but he's my brother, and I'll do anything to keep him safe." That was easy enough to get out. It was a sentiment he felt to the depths of his soul.
Raine nodded. "I could tell. He was very comfortable around you, and the way he curled up in bed with you without question… he hasn't tried that with me in years. Our family has always been small and we don't open up to anyone, and the fact that he trusts you so implicitly…"
"I didn't replace you," Seto told her. He wasn't sure why he wanted her to know that, but it was suddenly important that he got that tidbit out. "He always called me older brother, but there were times when he would look like he was missing someone. I always thought he was missing our parents, but now I think he was missing you." It was still odd, to look back on his memories and realize that they just weren't how he expected them to be.
Raine looked oddly flattered and she smiled. "Well, now that that's out of the way. It was just a bit awkward, having a new member of our family I've never met."
Seto admitted that he felt the same, though he'd gotten over it sometime during the trip from a destroyed town called Ozette to Meltokio. He likened it, after a few nights of mulling it over, to meeting an in-law for the first time. He wondered if she had thought of the same thing. "So, truce? Mokuba loves both of us." And Seto would swallow his jealousy if he had to bite off his own tongue.
"Yes. Although… He's still my Genis, no matter what," Raine said determinedly. "I'll have a few problems with this new name of his."
Seto smirked. "Call him Mokie," he confided. "It's an embarrassing nickname I gave him back in the orphanage. He still likes it, but he'll never admit it."
Raine shared his smirk. "Oh, I see. Mokie, huh? I can deal with that."
Seto found an exsphere their second day out of Meltokio. They got ambushed outside of one of the many houses of Salvation, and while he had no trouble downing his share of troublemakers he noticed what looked like magic at work from the other members of their group.
Lloyd leaped into the air and, swords in front of him, barreled back down. He cried out the name of some attack or other as, at the very last second, flames engulfed his swords. The enemies he landed on didn't know what hit them.
Zelos knocked an enemy into the air and spun around; at the apex of his turn light engulfed his sword and blasted the enemy full in the face.
Mokuba wasn't exempt from the special attacks either, though at least those he showed were ones Seto had seen on the trip over. An enemy mage managed to get off a lucky shot, and rather than ducking out of the way, Mokuba stood his ground. The attack bounced off a green shield he summoned and hit another enemy nearby instead.
Once all of the enemies were defeated they stopped to breathe. Seto walked over to a fallen enemy and dispassionately examined the innocent-looking gem that adorned the man's hand. After only a moment of thought he took the exsphere from the man, then as an aside swiped another from the enemy that was nearby.
"Can you use this Rune Crest?" he asked Lloyd once they'd left the devastation behind. He showed the other teen the swiped exspheres and Rune Crests, the carved bits of metal that were attached to the white gems.
Lloyd looked them both over and nodded. "They look like they're in good shape, and I think I can modify one of them for Ge-Mokuba," he admitted. "Why'd you grab two of them, though?"
Seto reclaimed one of them and, without hesitation, mounted the gem to his hand. Lloyd looked like he was going to protest, then sighed.
"You know what they're all about, so it's up to you if you want to use one," he said. "Just keep in mind what it took to make that, yeah?
Seto nodded. He knew quite well that a human life rested on his hand. He also knew that now he could protect Mokuba better. It wouldn't be an immediate change, and it would require a lot more practice before he knew just how much more powerful he was. He would deal with it though, for Mokuba's sake.
Mokuba had since gotten used to the idea that he had wings, but he'd forgotten for a moment that his friends still didn't know about them. So it was when they'd been walking for a week on their way to the Tower of Salvation that he sidled up to Lloyd and asked the question that was burning in his brain.
"Why don't we just use the Rheairds?" he asked. The Rheairds were single-person aircrafts that ran off of electricity; the summon spirit Volt provided more than enough energy for that. It was how the group had traveled when he'd been with them so long ago. "Did they get broken?"
"We don't have enough for everyone," Lloyd pointed out as if it were common sense. "They're not strong enough to carry two people, remember?"
That… made sense. "You don't have to worry about me, Lloyd," Mokuba assured him. "I'll be able to keep up no matter how fast you go, though I can't stay up as long. We can still make a lot better time than we are now."
Lloyd looked at him blankly. "What do you mean? You can't fly."
"I never… well, that explains it." Mokuba willed out his wings and grinned and the dumbfounded looks he gathered, especially from the members of his team that hadn't been within earshot.
"Whoah!" Lloyd yelped, backing up a step. "You could warn a guy first!"
Considering he was in the middle of a group that saw wings and immediately went after said wings with great prejudice, perhaps he should have. Ah well. "Sorry," he said, completely insincerely. "Anyway, we would make a lot better time if we flew!"
A few grumbles and a quick tutorial for Seto on how to run the Rheaird and they were airborne. Mokuba hadn't been aloft for so long in all the time he'd had his wings; flying kind of attracted attention in Domino, so he'd only been able to fly in short bursts of perhaps a few minutes at a time. As the hours drew on with nothing but the wind in his still-long hair and the ground rushing below him, he finally found one good thing to be had from this whole mess. If nothing else, flying was one of the best things he'd ever done.
It was a pity that he couldn't stay up for more than four hours. He would have pressed on but Seto had known he was getting tired and forced them all to stop. They walked another two hours after packing up the Rheairds; Mokuba spent the trip snoozing on Seto's back, completely worn out. It had been totally worth it though.
Colette sat next to him that night as he was stirring the pot of curry he was making for everyone. His cooking skills hadn't diminished in his time in Domino; even before his memory returned he'd spent as much time in the kitchen as Seto would allow. His brother had expressed disapproval for such a mundane activity, but Mokuba remembered that Seto had always smiled over a meal he'd cooked. That skill had also come in handy when they'd arrived in this world.
"Hi!" she said brightly, poking the fire with a stick. Her Cruxis Crystal caught the firelight and reflected a crimson version of the flames around her. Mokuba was glad his shirt and jacket covered his.
"Hi," he returned. "What's up?"
"Nothing, just wanted to talk to you." She smiled into the fire, then dropped her stick into it. She leaned back on her hands and stared into the sky. "Have you ever fought with your wings out?"
Mokuba shook his head. "Never wanted to." He was quite content with casting his spells without having to worry about floating a few inches off the ground. Besides, the lack of solid ground under his feet would play heck with his kendama and throw off his rhythm. He didn't want to think of the deeper reason beyond those excuses, that the more often he had his wings out the less human he felt. He could still remember the rush of power that last time he'd fought Mithos; his wings had been out and he'd soundly trounced the angel. It was frightening, if he wanted to be completely honest with himself.
"Well, maybe you should? I always fight with my wings out because I'm stronger like that," Colette confided. "I don't trip as much too, but it's easier to do everything, casting spells and throwing my chakram. It feels like I have more energy? You'd be pretty powerful too if you fight with your wings out." She shrugged. "That's what I think."
Mokuba contemplated that as he dished out the curry and curled up between Seto and Raine. They'd gotten along a lot better than he expected, which made things a lot easier for him. They didn't exactly act like best friends, but they didn't seem outright hostile to each other. That was the best one could hope for in a situation like this. He likened it to in-laws; they didn't have to like each other, but for the sake of their shared sibling they had to tolerate each other.
Lying awake that night, he made his decision. He wouldn't use his wings in battle; he would fly with them, certainly, but that didn't mean he had to use them to fight. He was still quite the force to be reckoned with even without them. And, he wanted to be just a little bit selfish. He didn't want to be an angel, but until he was sure that the Rune Crest Lloyd was making for him was working he just couldn't take off his Cruxis Crystal. He also didn't want to grow dependent on that power. Power corrupted, and the less it was used, Mokuba thought, the better.
The world was covered in a red haze. Mokuba charged forward, mind blank of anything save for the anger bubbling deep inside him. Seto was gone, prey to a nest of dragons set in their path to bar them from rescuing Colette. Raine was dead, trapped in a room with a slowly vanishing floor. All of his friends, all of Lloyd's friends, were as good as dead if they weren't already. He was angry and grieving and there was only one person who could stop it all. If he were dead, then he couldn't take away anyone else Mokuba held dear.
Mithos, he decided when it was only him and Lloyd left, would die.
That was when a strange red haze had fallen over everything and the only focus became moving forward. He had to get to Mithos. He had to avenge Raine, and Seto, and everyone else.
Lloyd was having a hard time keeping pace. The brunette had to run to follow the winged mage, swords unneeded in the face of Mokuba's wrath. Everything in their path was blasted with a glowing red ball that was no longer connected to its kendama by the usual string. The usually mostly harmless ball was now a bundle of contained energy, severely damaging everything in Mokuba's path with only the flick of a wrist.
It was his eyes, however, that unnerved Lloyd the most. Angels lost to a berserk rage like Mokuba's normally had eyes shining like molten ruby. The half-elf, however, was glaring at the world through glowing blue eyes, chilling steel slicing across their enemies.
It was like he'd lost his friend all over again. Mokuba was right next to him, but this avenging angel was nothing like the usually bratty but courageous kid that he'd come to know again. It was, frankly, frightening.
They were close to the top of this fortress, now. Mokuba didn't falter at an energy barrier that sprung up unexpectedly in front of them. The kendama ball shot forward and shattered the shield like it was glass.
Past the deadly trap, Lloyd ventured to break the tense silence that surrounded them. "Well, that could have been nasty, huh?"
Mokuba only glanced at him before his gaze returned to the corridor coming.
"Geez, at least I tried," he grumbled.
They finally arrived at the top of the complex, Mokuba leading the way to a door at the top of a set of stairs. It opened at their approach, human and half-elf skidding to a stop just in front of a large machine cradling a giant flower. There was a cylinder set within the machine, and in the machine was…
"Colette!" Lloyd cried. His voice drew the attention of the blonde-haired angel at the machine's controls.
"You're too late," Mithos said, voice gleeful as he pressed one last button. "At last my sister shall awaken!"
Mokuba's kendama ball shot out and was easily deflected into a wall. Undeterred, he dropped the now-useless weapon, a ball of energy gathering within his hand.
Colette's voice halted the hand about to unleash deadly destruction. Slowly, twin pairs of blue eyes looked over at the girl no longer contained within the unknown machine, Mokuba and Mithos both pausing in their battle before it could even properly start.
"Sister, is it truly you?" Mithos whispered, Mokuba forgotten. He was at her side in an instant, arms poised to wrap around her shoulders in an embrace.
The possessed Chosen stepped aside, head bowing. "Mithos, I've seen what you've done. It wasn't right. You've hurt so many people in my name…"
"What are you talking about?" Mithos asked, perturbed. "I did all of this for you, so we can be together again. You see? We'll reign over a world where all are angels, where no one will love or hate or persecute anyone ever again. There won't be any discrimination! Isn't that what you wanted?"
"Not like this," Martel told her brother. She stepped forward and cradled the blonde's head to her chest, brushing tender fingers through his hair. "What's the point if everyone's exactly the same? Our differences are what set us apart, and it's those differences that enrich us all. I can't condone what you've done, Mithos. I don't want to exist in a world like this. Please, let me go."
"I can't!" Mithos clung to the body housing his sister's soul. "Please! Don't leave me alone again."
"No!" Mithos clung to Colette, even as the girl collapsed backwards. He stared at the giant flower above them, where his sister's soul had once again gone to rest. "Martel!"
"See, Mithos?" Lloyd told him, stepping forward past where Mokuba had become motionless. "Stop all of this. Give us the Eternal Sword and let us reunite the worlds." The Eternal Sword, Lloyd knew, was the weapon that Mithos had once used to separate Sylvarant from Tethe'alla so many years ago. It was with that same weapon that he hoped to undo all that the angel had done and return the worlds to their true form.
Mithos' face turned into a snarl. "Lies! You must have done something to her! You and that failed Chosen there, you've poisoned Martel against me."
"They've done nothing of the sort," a new voice spoke, and all eyes turned towards a previously unnoticed ledge in the room. It was occupied by a random assortment of people, all of them familiar to the group on the ground.
"Kratos!" Lloyd exclaimed. "Raine! Regal!"
"Seto!" Mokuba cried, the unearthly blue light fading from his eyes at the sight of his lost siblings alive and well. The brunette wasted no time in leaping to the ground and engulfing the younger Kaiba in a tight embrace. Raine was only a second behind him.
"How'd you guys get out of all those traps?" Lloyd wanted to know.
"It was Kratos and Zelos," Sheena explained. "They freed us from all of those traps, them and some kid with the weirdest hair I've ever seen."
"It doesn't matter!" Mithos snarled, drawing everyone's attention back to him. He was floating above them all, wings out and energy crackling in his hand. "I'll kill you all, and then my sister and I will make a home for ourselves away from you pathetic mortals. I'll make a world just for the two of us!"
"Mithos!" a voice snapped in response. The group of Lloyd's friends parted to let a new figure to the front of the group. True to Sheena's description, he had the strangest hair Lloyd had ever seen, black and red and gold standing on end from the top of his head. Ruby eyes glared at the blonde floating at their eye level, the golden pyramid at his throat glinting in the light. "Did you not hear just what your sister has told you? Stop this foolishness at once!"
"Lies!" Mithos shouted at him. "It's just your lies, shadow weaver! I've visited your world many times and I know of your power, ancient king. You twist hearts and minds to your will, and you did the same to my sister!"
"What's he talking about?" Lloyd whispered to Mokuba, who looked like he'd just seen a ghost.
"Long story," the younger half-elf sighed. "Yami's really mad though…"
Seto snorted. "He's livid. Yugi is too, and I don't really blame them."
"Them?" Lloyd repeated. "Do I want to know?"
Mokuba shook his head. "Not really."
Yami didn't seem to have noticed the conversation going on below him. "And what have you done, angel? You kidnapped a young half-elf named Genis, didn't you? He was the friend you wanted, and you took him and made him into the weapon you craved. You wiped his mind and corrupted his body and soul."
"I purified him!" Mithos growled. "He'd been tainted by all of these idiot humans, and I needed him to see them for what they were! He never would have been my friend, not really, not as long as he also thought that humans were his friends too."
Mokuba shrugged off his siblings' arms and rose into the air, adding his voice to the mix. "You're wrong, Mithos! I wanted to be your friend, I was your friend! You were the only half-elf friend I ever had. I just don't think you're doing the right thing. Stop all of this, let Lloyd reunite the worlds. We can show you that humans and half-elves can live together."
"There's no place for us," Mithos spat. "We tried, don't you know? Martel and I, we tried to find a place and no one wanted us."
Yami snorted, fingers twirling a card in his hand. "Four thousand years is such a long time. I've seen what can happen to a world untainted by your hand. Civilizations rise and fall. Peoples merge and separate, then merge again. Ever since I learned of you, of Mokuba's true origins, I've dug deep into my world's past. Would you like to know what I found?"
Mithos tilted his head and grinned. "This should be great. What did you, ancient king of a dead kingdom, learn of the world I saw grow with my own eyes?"
Yami turned the card so that its face could be seen. "In my time, Egypt was populated by a very few elves, rare half-elves, and plentiful humans. We did not have a word for those distinctions, however. There were only those who lived ancient lives, those of priests and shamans. There were those who straddled the world of spirits and the world of men. And then there were those who were more concerned with earthly matters."
A wispy form appeared from the card, a blue-skinned being kneeling obediently on the air in front of her master. Her robes were dark and her hair was green, but to those who knew the game her name was unmistakable.
"This card never existed in ancient Egypt. It is only a modern translation of ancient Egyptian legends."
"Who is she?" Lloyd wanted to know.
"The Mysical Elf," Mokuba whispered. "So I was right?"
"Three thousand years later, there are no elves or half-elves on my world. The average human life span has increased significantly from what it was in years past, and even the most common human holds the spark of magic." Yami pinned Mithos with a glare. "What does that tell you?"
Sylvaranti and Tethe'allan traded confused glances. "That the humans and elves intermarried so much that there aren't any pure humans or elves left," Raine concluded. "There weren't enough elves left in your world to last three generations…"
Yami smirked. "Exactly. Tell me, Mithos, could that have happened if elves and humans and half-elves couldn't get along?"
"Lies!"Mithos spat. "Human scum! I'll raze your world to the ground next!"
Mokuba floated back to the ground and grabbed Raine and Lloyd by the arm. "Um, back up," he cautioned. "When Yami gets mad, he gets mad."
Not that Yami looked mad. Lloyd didn't even think that the strange teenager could get mad, not with the smirk still playing about his lips. Those ruby eyes were unnerving, however, amethyst gleaming in their very depths.
"Care to wager your life on that statement?"
"Well, that was anticlimactic," Sheena commented. There were seven murmurs of agreement as they regarded Mithos' collapsed form on the floor next to Colette. Lloyd spared no time in going to Colette's side, while above them Yami pocketed his cards and smirked.
Mokuba didn't really care about any of that. The burning anger that had consumed him had faded at the sight of Raine and Seto alive and well, and all he wanted to do right now was curl up next to them someplace warm and do something inane. Maybe he could figure out how to rig a movie theater… but then he'd need movies. Darn. He settled for clinging to Raine, Seto's arms around them both.
"You're getting soft," Seto snorted. "Leaving him alive is not something I would have done."
"He's alive?" everyone yelped, backing away from the prone form with weapons drawn. Mokuba peeked at the angel and confirmed that he was indeed breathing.
"Why the heck would you do something so idiotic?" Sheena yelped, charmed paper in her fingers and a breadth away from casting a dark spell on the angel.
Yami shook his head. "Four thousand years have let his anger and grief rule him deeply, but underneath it all he is but a child yearning for his lost sister. I have… simply removed those shadows from his personality. It has worked before."
Mokuba squeezed Seto just a bit tighter, then turned to face Yami. "But will it work now? There might not even be any good left in him."
"Then he will simply never awaken." Yami shrugged. "Anyway, we should not linger here. The path out is clear."
Mokuba sat next to Mithos' still-sleeping form, repaired Kendama held tightly in his hand. He'd taken charge of the angel as soon as they had made the decision to bring him with them, though as he sat by the fire now he wondered why. Mithos had betrayed him, tried to kill everyone he'd cared about. The blonde would have seen him dead without a thought.
What had Mokuba staying with him, though, was Yami's words. Back when Mithos had first showed himself in Domino, and again when Mithos was unconscious and helpless, the Pharaoh had said he was only misguided. He'd loved his sister so deeply, Mokuba mused, and he'd never let himself believe she was dead. Now that he thought about it, now that he could think about it… Mokuba wasn't so sure he'd be any different.
That wasn't to say, Mokuba was quick to remind himself, that he forgave Mithos. With him alive, however, there were only two people on their team that could use the Eternal Sword. Raine was hopeless with swords, and Mokuba thought he'd maybe manage to only decapitate a few innocent bystanders. Lloyd was the one who was supposed to wield the Sword, but unless Mithos woke up…
In the interim time, they'd traveled from the Tower of Salvation to the hidden town of the elves, Heimdall. This was the place where, with any amount of luck, they could finally get the power to reunite the worlds.
Which could only happen if Mithos woke up.
Mokuba glared at the blonde sleeping comfortably on an inn bed. If he didn't know any better, Mithos was doing this just to spite them. With a sigh, he decided to sit back and observe the sky through the window while he waited. Mithos' breathing was still soft and even next to him even after so many days of being asleep. After listening for so long, Mokuba mused, he thought he'd be able to sense even the slightest change in the blonde's breathing pattern.
To his surprise, only a few minutes later Mithos took a deep breath. Mokuba shot upright to see blue eyes fluttering sleepily, a hand rising up to rub at one, while their owner muttered something incoherent. Mokuba didn't know what to do, and by the time he thought about calling for Lloyd or Seto it was too late. Mithos' eyes opened fully and locked on his.
"Genis?" the other boy asked sleepily. He rubbed his eyes again and ran a hand through his hair. "What's going on?"
"What do you remember?" Mokuba asked evasively. He didn't bother to correct the other boy on his name yet, since it was still technically correct. A few of his friends still called him Genis. Raine, however, insisted on calling him Mokie. Mokuba was still plotting his revenge on Seto for that; his older brother was the only one in this world who could have told his sister that stupid nickname.
Mithos frowned in concentration. "Not much, to be honest. A lot of the past few years are a blur. I just remember you, and these scary red eyes." He shook his head. "But those eyes told me a lot. They made me understand... Martel's dead, isn't she?"
Mokuba nodded. "I'm sorry, but she is. Nothing you can do will bring her back, and all she wants you to do is move on." He felt kind of awkward saying that to Mithos, since he still had deep feelings of hatred towards the other boy. Now, though, as he processed that information and tears started to fall from his eyes, Mokuba felt a bit of sympathy for him as well.
Mithos didn't make a scene of himself, though. All he did was sit up and wipe the tears away. "Deep down I knew that. I knew she was sad and wanted me to let her go, but something forced me to hold onto her. If I let her go then I'll be all alone, and I didn't want that. I just wanted her back." He hugged his legs to his chest and rested his forehead against his knees. "But I did some horrible things. Those eyes told me that, and I didn't see it until he forced me to face myself."
"So you remember the past couple of thousands of years?" Mokuba hazarded.
"Yes. I know everything I did, and while I can see my reasoning behind it at the time... now that I understand that Martel isn't coming back, I feel sick." Mithos' knuckles clenched until they were bone-white. "I hurt people, and I forced my ideals on others. Colette, Zelos, all of those other Chosen I forced to live and die... I shouldn't be alive."
Mokuba really did feel sorry for him now. Mithos could just be tricking him, but he knew that usually Yami's Shadow Games stuck. He only hesitated a bit before putting a comforting hand on Mithos' shoulder. "Now that you know that what you did is wrong, help us put it right. We're getting ready to go release Origin's seal. Let Lloyd use the Eternal Sword and we can make the world whole."
"And what of the Giant Seed?" Mithos whispered. "My sister's soul... I have to let her go, I know, but it's so painful..."
"You don't have to be present for that. Actually, it's likely that you'll be forced to stay behind under guard. I'm sure you'll understand that." Mokuba scratched behind his ear nervously. "I think, though, that if you really want to come with us, I can argue with them. It'd be best for you to come to say goodbye."
Mithos' shoulders shook a bit under Mokuba's hand, though his voice was steady. "I need to do that," he whispered. "I need to tell her that I'm so sorry, that I'll put the world right."
Mokuba nodded. "All right. I'll stay here until you're ready, and then we'll go tell everyone that you're awake."
They stayed like that for a while, Mithos curled up on himself, and Mokuba was starting to get bored and fidgety. After what felt like forever but was probably only half an hour Mokuba sighed and stood up.
"Is something wrong?" Mithos asked, looking up at him.
"Nah, just need to stretch my legs," Mokuba lied. He looked around but nothing had changed; they were in a room in the elf village, window open to let in a breeze. He walked around the bed to give some truth to his lie, then turned back to the bed. "Are you..."
He trailed off because the bed was empty. Mithos was nowhere to be seen and he swore loudly. It was stupid of him to have trusted the angel! He ran off to tell everyone else so they could make a plan.
The second (or fourth or fifth, by this point) trek up the Tower of Salvation was a lot less dramatic than the previous one. Only Zelos, Mokuba, Seto, Yugi, and Presea had made the trip there; the rest of the group was still at Heimdall figuring out how to release the seal on the summon spirit that would let them end Mithos' reign for good. Zelos led the way as they raced up the countless numbers of stairs and burst into the same room where Mithos had been holding Colette.
They found Mithos there, as they'd expected. However, he was still in his younger form, the Eternal Sword held loosely in his hand. He looked at them all with tear-reddened eyes, wet drops dripping from his nose and chin.
"So you came. That's good. I was sort of hoping you'd follow me. I've been trying to get up the courage to do what has to be done, but I'm too weak." He hung his head, shoulders sagging.
Mokuba stepped towards the blonde, his feelings still mixed. "So what did you come here for?" he asked cautiously.
"I came to germinate the seed and reunite the worlds. Doing that would kill my sister, though, and even though I know that's she's already dead... it's hard." Mithos looked up at Mokuba with a watery smile. "I should have known. I should have just left it to you and your friends. I just wanted to try and do this myself."
"Letting go of the past in your head is easy. Letting go of it in your heart is a daunting task for even the most prepared," Yami said wisely. "That you're trying is a positive sign, but don't force it. You'll know when you're ready."
"Yeah, what he said. You should have just let us do this," Mokuba agreed. He was close enough to Mithos now that he could touch the other boy's shoulder. "Plus you wouldn't have given us all a heart attack."
"I was afraid you'd all try to stop me," Mithos explained. Then he sighed, straightening and looking up at the seed that hovered above them all. "Mokuba... Genis... I don't know the name you go by now. Just... tell me that I need to do this. Tell me that this is what Martel would want."
"Your memories came back?" Mokuba asked curiously.
"A few of them, mostly concerning you. I'm so, so sorry for what I did to you. I'm surprised that you're not trying to wring my neck." Mithos raised the sword. "Please?" he asked.
Mokuba nodded. "Martel just wants for you to let her go, Mithos. Germinate the seed and reunite the worlds! It'll be the best thing you could ever do for her."
Mithos closed his eyes, tears no longer falling from them. "Thank you." The world rumbled and the seed glowed. "The Tower of Salvation won't survive," the angel warned his audience. "If you wish to escape, it's best to do so now."
"And what about you?" Seto asked.
"I have to stay here to ensure that the seed germinates. It's all right though. I've stayed in this world far longer than I've been needed. Perhaps I'll be able to see my sister again after all."
Mokuba looked over at the blonde he'd hated and felt sorry for and saw the determination in his eyes. "All right," he said. "But don't go on dying just because you can! Make sure you live to see the world you'll be creating with your own eyes."
"I'm glad I met you," Mithos whispered. "You're my first half-elf friend."
The rumbling intensified and pebbles began to fall from the roof. "Come on," Zelos urged Mokbua. "We have to get out of here!"
They made it out in time to see the Tower crumble. A green light shone like a second sun, and the sky that had once been obscured by a giant meteor was now clear, said meteor clearly visible hanging farther away in the sky. As they all watched, the green light descended to the earth and vanished. Everyone looked at each other, all wondering the same thing. Had Mithos really done as he'd said he would?
It took most of a day to work through the rubble that the Tower had become. In that time Lloyd and the rest of the group arrived. They brought word that the world was truly whole again, and were shocked to learn that it was Mithos that had done it. They joined in helping get to where the light had gone, the two moons rising over them before they were finished.
The scene that greeted them wasn't entirely expected. A girl in green knelt in front of a sapling, Mithos cradled in her arms. He looked unharmed but was unconscious, the girl running a tender hand through his hair.
No one knew quite how to break the silence. Luckily for them, the girl looked up at them with timeless eyes. "My brother has finally made the world right," she said. "It cost him dearly, but the world is whole and the tree is revived."
"So you're Martel?" Lloyd asked her.
"Yes and no. I am Martel, as well as countless others whose spirits were given to the seed. I am, if you will, the spirit of the new tree. Martel is merely the personality that is foremost." She looked down at the form in her arms. "If he had only known. The world could have been saved so much sorrow."
"Is he...?" Mokuba asked.
"Don't fear. He is still alive, but he gave much of his mana to ensure that the tree would thrive. I will care for him until he awakens, but beyond that will be his choice." Martel smiled at the assembled group. "Thank you all. You have all done so much to ensure that the world would be saved. The tree lives, the worlds are one. You cannot ask for anything more than that."
The party was a long one. It wasn't every day that the worlds were saved, and so the celebration lasted several weeks. People drank and threw parties and danced in the street, and overall it was merry mayhem.
For the group that saved the world, the atmosphere was much the same. Everyone stayed at Zelos' house in Meltokio and celebrated, though there were a few that couldn't quite lose themselves in the revelry.
Mokuba sat in the room he'd be given at the manor, a cup of tea in hand. He stared out at the skyline where once an impossibly tall tower had stood and wondered how his friend and enemy was doing. He'd had his fill of acting silly downstairs and stuffing himself full of the excellent food that hadn't stopped coming out of the kitchen for two days straight.
He heard the door open behind him and looked back to see Seto. His older brother closed the door and joined him by the window.
"Still thinking about Mithos?" Seto asked.
"Yeah. I'm wondering how he's doing. Did Martel lie to us? Did he die after we left him?" Mokuba fretted. "I should still hate him for what he did, but I can't help but feel sorry for him."
"Don't worry about it. Knowing the way this crazy world works, he'll probably show up again soon."
Mokuba laughed. "Yeah, I guess."
Seto looked out at the city as well. He wasn't as familiar with it as Mokuba was, but he knew what a bustling metropolis looked like. "Those Renegades think they figured out how to open a door back to our world," he said. "I'm ready to get back to something familiar, what about you?"
"Seto, you know that this is really my world. I don't know if I should stay here with Raine and help mend relations between half-elves, elves, and humans or go home with you," Mokuba said sadly. "There's still so much hatred for half-elves here. Someone needs to get out and tell people that we're not monsters and we deserve the same treatment as everyone else. But I know that you can't stay here, and people will ask questions if I don't come back." He sighed. "I've been thinking about that too. I keep going around in circles; I'm so torn!"
They hadn't heard the door open again so Raine's voice surprised them both. "I've also been thinking about that," she admitted. When they turned to look at her, she continued. "I've decided that no matter what happens, Mokuba, I'm going with you. I thought I'd lost you once and I'm not going to let that happen again. Even if you decide to go back to that strange world you came from, I'll go with you."
Mokuba giggled. "That would be so complicated, wouldn't it Seto? We'd have to hack so many databases to get her a birth certificate and background."
"It sounds like child's play," Seto said stoically. Then his expression softened. "But I would gladly do that for you if it makes Mokuba happy."
"And you don't have to worry about the half-elves!" yet another new voice declared. Mokuba yelped and fell out of the window, his tea splattering everywhere, while Seto settled into a fighting stance and Raine stepped back in surprise.
"Mithos!" Mokuba cried, scrambling upright and taking in the angel that had appeared in his window. "You're okay!"
"Yeah, I'm surprised too. I was even more surprised by Martel! She told me what you named the tree and I'm really flattered. It doesn't need both of us watching over it though, so I think I can walk the world and try and do what I meant to in the first place. I'll get rid of discrimination by showing everyone that what makes us different just makes us unique." Mithos beamed at them. "So you can go ahead and go home. I can pop in to visit when you want."
"People won't realize that you're the one behind this whole mess?" Seto asked skeptically.
"There are so many kids named Mithos in the world, and no one knows the real story anymore. Well, except for you guys and the Renegades. They'll keep quiet, I hope, and I don't think your friends will out me. It's how I'll atone for all of my sins." Mithos seemed to realize that he was floating outside of Mokuba's window in full view of everyone and hurriedly made himself welcome in the room. "That is, if I can remember that people aren't so happy with angels."
Mokuba nodded, then turned to Seto. "That reminds me, Seto. I never asked, but how did Yami end up here anyway?"
"He used the Shadow Realm," the elder brother noted. "Apparently it touches all worlds, but it takes someone really talented with Shadow Magic to take advantage of that."
"So you believe in magic now?" Mokuba teased.
Seto rolled his eyes and refused to respond.
Once everything was wrapped up, Mokuba, Seto, Raine, and Yugi returned to a Domino that hadn't changed. No one had tried to destroy the world while they'd been gone, no one had tried to take over Kaiba Corp., and overall everything was just as they'd left it.
Mokuba set about trying to explain everything to Raine as he guided her through their manor. It was a long and daunting task, since there was so much that was different from Sylvarant, but she was a quick study.
Everything felt truly normal when they sat down together for a meal for the first time. Seto had sent for some normal clothes for Raine so now she was dressed in a smart-looking skirt and a casual long-sleeved shirt, a brown vest over the shirt as a sort of throwback to her old clothes. She didn't wear shoes in the house, but she had many pairs from which to choose from now.
Mokuba had reverted back to normal blue jeans and his old striped shirt. His hair had grown out enough that he'd lopped off all the black parts so it was just white now. This left him with a cut that was remarkably similar to the hair he'd had before he'd been kidnapped, though he knew he was going to grow it out longer.
Seto was still Seto. The only thing that had changed was the gem he still had mounted on his hand. It was an advantage that he refused to yield. They all still had their Exspheres, but at least Mokuba's was hidden by his shirt.
They all sat down at the family-sized table and let the servants and chef set out their food. Two glasses of wine and one glass of sparkling cider were poured, and all three glasses were raised in a toast.
"To new beginnings," Raine said.
"To new family," Seto added.
"To everyone being together," Mokuba grinned.