Disclaimer: Yugioh does not belong to the writer of this fanfiction.

Chapter Eight – Potential Freedom

He lost.

There was not much to tell, except that he, the great Seto Kaiba, had once again lost to Yugi Motou. For him Battle City was over, there would be no more duels, no more reasons for him to stay. So he, after saying the few words his pride allowed him to say walked toward the elevator and prepared for departure. As the door of the elevator drew shut, his brother suddenly exclaimed, "Look Seto!"

Seto exerted himself so much as to give Yugi one last glance before the elevator doors slammed shut. He saw to his surprise Joey Wheeler standing elastically next to his victorious friend. From the way he stood, Seto knew he must have been there for some time, he was only too occupied with the duel to notice.

"Lucky survivor," Seto muttered, his voice apathetical.

The brothers fell silent. Amidst the comforting low hum given off by the elevator Seto found himself musing upon his lost, which although was hard to accept was not all together unexpected.

An unfamiliar nagging feeling told him early on that he may not win. No, it told him he would not win. The statistics were also against him for zero to three was not a good record, but he had never been a believer of destiny, and he was not going to become a believer of fate just because of some intuition. Even now, even after his forth lost, if the occasion allows for another duel with Yugi, he would enter the duel with a most positive mindset.

The elevator came to a stop, the door slid open and he stepped out promptly, with Mokuba following closely behind. At the corner of his eyes he noticed that his brother abruptly stopped after a few steps and he looked back, curious. His brother was staring intensely straight ahead somewhere beyond him. Instinctively, Seto followed his brother's gaze.

Standing right in front of them was a young woman in white. He recognized her quite easily, she was Isis Ishtar.

Her eyes, Mokuba could not stop looking at her eyes. He knew it was not polite to stare at someone, but he couldn't help himself, it was as if there was something magical about those dark orbs that drew his attention.

They were so mesmerizing, but they were also so sad. Even in his first acquaintance with this odd lady he thought a deep melancholy fog surrounded her. At this particular moment, he felt that the full extend of her sadness could not be express by words or by tears. Yet, as sad as they were, there was also unconquerable determination. It was not misplaced, because stubborn determination, like drowning sadness, was a part of her.

Mokuba quickly came to the conclusion that this meeting was no coincident. She was expecting them, no, she was waiting for them. His brother must had came to the same conclusion, because he too, stopped walking, and settled on staring at the lady in surprise.

She opened her mouth but no words came out, she closed it again and satisfied herself with just staring back at Seto. Mokuba smiled secretly, his brother seemed to have that effect on everyone. He fell victim to Seto's eyes too, whenever he wanted to discuss with Seto certain matters he knew Seto would not be too happy with. Always, before he could start, his brother's blue eyes would land on him and he would find himself lost with words, lost in a similar awkward silence that embraced them now.

Except of course, unlike those other times, he was not facing his brother, and unlike those times he had the power to break the silence. "Isis Ishtar," Mokuba spoke, giving the air life, giving the air momentum.

It was exactly what was needed to break the spell, Isis shot him a quick appreciative glance for returningher power of speech. "Malik's dark power is rising…" she muttered, perhaps more to herself than to anyone else.

She looked forward suddenly, careful not to look directly at Seto's eyes again. Her usual tranquil air finally returned to her, she spoke more coherently this time, "You must be thinking that even with his two God cards, there is no way for Yugi to win against Malik, the holder of the God of Ra."

Another awkward paused. For a moment Mokuba thought his brother would leave without giving an answer. Certainly that would not be the first time, he had often ignored people he thought not worthy to response. But the question involved those he cared about, and was asked by a woman who Mokuba respected even if their acquaintance is short. He wanted Seto to answer, and was about to force his brother to do so, except his brother answered without further encouragement.

"You are right," Seto replied bluntly, "thereare no ways Yugi can win. God of Ra is much too powerful." He took a second quick glance at Isis and snorted, no doubt because he read through Isis' mask and saw her true intentions. Mokuba knew.

His brother always had a talent for masks. Seto could read masks so well and wear them so perfectly. Sometimes it frightened Mokuba because he could never cover his emotion like his brother could, nor read masks the way his brother would. Because he could not help but question who his brother truly was: the over protective brother, the cold businessman, the determined rival or the merciless avenger? The lines between those four roles were ever fading. One day, he could not tell at all.

Seto continued impassively, "Not that any of that matter to me. For me, Battle City is over. No matter who wins this island will still sink to the bottom of the sea in two hours." Feeling Mokuba tensed behind him he quickly assured without looking back, "Don't worry, I will leave the battle ship here."

"Yugi needs your help," Isis insisted, her expression equally unreadable.

"Even now, you are still so foolishly persistent," Seto stated coldly, slightly irritated, "Are you trying to tell me more about those stupid millennium items of yours?" He paused and threw a sharp glance at Mokuba. "Let's go Mokuba, we still need to activate the bomb." He began to walk away.

"A blessing for the dead…" Her voice pierced through the tense silence.

Seto stopped dead in his track. Isis smiled at the reaction. "You remember the tablet," Isis continued, gaining confidence that Seto had lost, "It was a gift to a deceased friend, and the writer was the high priest."

Seto narrowed his eyes. "Shut up."

Mokuba looked up in surprise at his brother's out burst, for even when he was angry, his brother rarely showed his emotion. Clear emotion was a weakness, it showed others that one was offended, that one cared. Yet his brother was unmistakably angry now, perhaps a little scared too because his words were defensive rather than offensive. Mokuba wondered why, what Isis said was a little odd, but oddity should not make his brother up set. He stayed silent; however, it was not a time to ask questions.

"That tablet was what the high priest battling the pharaoh left behind, it was a blessing for the dead," Isis further explained after a few moment of silence.

His brother chuckled, and when he spoke again his voice was once again in its usual professional indifference, "What are you trying to suggest, Miss Ishtar? You know I have no interests in three thousand year old artefacts."

"Seto," Isis began. Mokuba noticed his brother flinch at his own name, obviously not used to the level of familiarity. Mokuba was the only one to call his brother by his first name since Gozaburo's death. For a moment he attributed the familiarity to Isis' lack of understanding of Japanese formalities, but when he looked into her eyes he decided that she knew perfectly what she was doing. "The God of Oblisk led you to host Battle City, but you know this tower is symbolic – It is the stage to Pharoh's battle for his soul soul."

Mokuba watched in amazement as his brother's face flared for the second time in the short meeting. "Pharaoh again? I suggest, Miss Ishtar, to be more careful with what you say oryou willregret too late." he threatened in a tone that would have caused almost anyone to withdraw, but Isis stood her ground and looked back at his brother in defiance.

Mokuba's astonishment and respect for Isis increased when she retorted, "It is a reflection of your heart." He admired her courage, but he also knew she was pushing the line. If years of experiment were not enough evidence to prove the latter, his brother flushed face and cold glare were. He trusted his brother not to strike a woman, but a balloon could only be blown so full before it pops.

"This battle tower is a meeting place for souls, and your own soul is the foundation of this holy tower - "

For a moment he thought he might be wrong about his brother never hitting girls. For a moment it really looked as if his brother would punch Isis for her poetic speech, but Seto was able to refrain himself from doing anything except to exclaim, "Well then, I will just sink this so call 'holy tower' down! Mokuba, we are activating the countdown for the bomb now!"

Mokuba swallowed hard. The tower was going down. His brother said he would leave the battle ship, but what would be the use of the ship if Yugi never got on? What if Yugi could not finish his duel in two hours? Then what? He looked into his brother's blue eyes. They were cold, frozen like hell. Hell… Yugi talked of a demon – hatred – what torments his brother, entraps him in the cycle of loneliness and unhappiness.

Yugi was right. He was wise. He was a good friend.

Yet hatred stood like a thick wall between them, his brother could never accept the friendship, and Yugi could never give something to someone unwilling to receive. Hatred, what this island symbolizes, the reason why this island must be destroyed, what had already destroyed the possibility of true happiness in the last five years of their life, the reason why his brother held on to his past atthe risk of hypocrisy.

"What's wrong? Let's go!" Seto demanded.

Mokubaknew how important hatred was to his brother, but Yugi… Yugi and his friends were innocent. Will he do nothing again and just watch hatred destroy more lives? He could feel tears inside his eyes. No, if a stranger like Isis could tell his brother a piece of her mind, he could do the same.

"Big brother…" He looked up to his brother. For a moment he found himself recoiling but remembering the way Isis spoke to his brother, he found courage to continue, "There is no point in pulling Yugi and his friends into our hate!"

His brother noticeably stiffened.

Mokuba assumed his speech, his voice barely above a whisper. "I… I hate them a lot too when I first met them... But even though they did not know me well, they risked their life saving me on Pegasus' island… they were like friends I… never… had…" tears gashed out of his eyes, he could no longer hold them back. His voice broke into sobs although he knew he should not cry. His brother never liked people who cry. Frantically, he tried to dry his face with his sleeves.

"Don't worry, Mokuba…" Seto lamely comforted, unsure of what to do. He was never good with emotion. "I will leave the blimp for them…"

Mokuba shook his head. His brother missed the point. It needed to go, the hatred that had eaten away so many years of his life. He had hated for so long. He needed to let go. Hatred… it was now or never. "Big brother! Promise me that when this tower sinks, your hate will sink with it!" Even before everything, his brother was never the happiest person in the world. He suffered much more than he ever did, Mokuba knew. But back then some smiles would reach his eyes. That was enough. That was all he wanted. "I want to see who you were before you hated…"


For a moment no one moved. Then, Seto started walking away again.

"But big brother!" Mokuba exclaimed, his voice in utter dismay.

Seto narrowed his eyes, infuriated by his brother's concern for his rival. "Two hours are much more than enough for one duel. Let's go, Mokuba." He left no room for argument, it was a command.

"Yugi is going to lose," Isis said quietly. Her voice unlike Mokuba's was calm and composed. His legs froze. For the third time in five minutes he failed to leave the platform because of Isis Ishtar and her speech. He could not stand her. In a moment of epiphany, he finally realized the particular quality that he could not stand. It was her ability to be stubborn, to be able stand her ground, her ability to stay unreadable and his inability to keep himself unreadable in front of her. He hated her for that.

"He only has 3 chance of winning," He replied irritably, "Even with two God cards Yugi cannot win against Osiris's one turn kill ability." He could feel Isis eyeing him expectantly. He smirked at the thought of being the only one who could save Yugi in his up coming battle. "There is only one card that can stop Osiris and that card is inside my deck – Devil Sanctuary. And even if he has the card his chance of winning is only 20 percent."

He quickly turned toward Isis to see her expression. Would it be sadness? Would it be hopelessness? To his annoyance he found neither. In an attempt to provoke her he stated, "Isis, you joined Battle City just to rescue your brother Malik." His voice rises as he continued, almost accusingly, "If my deduction is correctly, you wanted to use some mysterious tools with foreseeing powers to defeat me – and then use your own hands to destroy Malik's alternate personality." Isis said nothing, Seto sneered cruelly, "Now that things turned this way, Your only hope is Yugi!"

He smiled when Isis finally reacted with a scowl. "Perhaps that is true," she responded, hardly able to keep her voice down to its usual tranquil quality. "But I am prepared for the worst." She avoided his gaze by looking down on the ground, her eyes filled with noticeable pain, for the first time in their acquaintances she looked resigned.

For a moment he felt guilt, but when the instant passed he found himself filled with a foreign feeling – understanding.

He knew she was willing to die if that could save her brother.

He threatened to suicide if Yugi would not let him win back then in Duellist City. That girl Tea had accused him of throwing away life, according to her 'the most precious thing in the world.' She called him foolish, that he did not know his priorities, but really she was the one who knew nothing. He was sure she was too witless to see the irony: he did everything because of his love for his brother. His brother was worth more than anything – they did not understand – but this woman, Isis Ishtar, did.

For the first time in a long time he felt obligated to help someone for unselfish reasons.

He turned back toward the elevator.

It had been a very long time.

"Is he going to wake up, doctor? Tell me the truth!" Kazuhiro's father asked, rather emotionally one day.

"We don't know," the doctor replied grimly, "Maybe tomorrow, maybe never. There are similar cases where the blood clot in the patient's brain moves and the patient regain complete consciousness. But I cannot say exactly if that would be his case or not at this point."

Seto sucked in a deep breath behind the closed door. He had suspected so much for days, but actually hearing the doctor say this was a completely different thing.

He came to the hospital everyday, it had become more or less a habit after a month. He straightened up and walked away. The men would be leaving the room at any moment and he did not want to be caught ear dropping. In any case, he did not want to see the father. He could not face him. The man seemed to have grown old over night, the twinkles in his eyes were and his charismatic manners were gone along with his son. He was a whole different man since the incident.

It was his fault. Seto knew every well. No one openly blamed him for what had happened, but he was responsible. He knew the sniper was aiming at him and if he had snapped out of shock, he could have easily saved his friend. He had the time. He saw the bullet coming. He could have pushed Kazuhiro away, just as Kazuhiro pushed him away. He could have… but he did not.

He hastily turned the corner, behind him, he could hear the door open and two pairs of footsteps. Mr. Hashimoto blew his nose. "Thank you, doctor," his altered voice was unbearable.

He quickened his pace. Turning another corner, he found himself approaching Kazuhiro's room. He wanted to pause, but he did not, knowing Mr. Hashimoto must be also coming that way. Instead, he settled for a quick glance and saw amidst the countless tubes and wires lay Kazuhiro, still motionless.

"I was complaining too much wasn't I? Seto… I…" Kazuhiro had said, moments before he was pushed him out of harms way. Moments before the sniper opened fire. He never verbally accepted his apology, he realized. Did Kazuhiro think he was still angry at him when the bullet hit? He might have.

He had every reason to.

He did not sleep well anymore.

The moment he found sleep he was troubled with the same reoccurring nightmare. Kazuhiro was always there, only a few meters away. Seto would always try to run toward him, but he could never reach him because each step he takes Kazuhiro would recede a step back. When he called his name, his friend would not listen. He would only stare blankly ahead, through him, as if he could not see him.

Silently, Seto manoeuvred himself through the labyrinth of corridors connecting his bedroom to the computer lab. He sank deeply into the leather seat and logged onto the mainframe of Kaiba Corporation as he did every night in the last two months. Ever since the incident he stopped playing video games because they reminded him of too much of the sniper. He did not have any reasons to surf the mainframe either, but that was a safe activity sufficient to distract him from thinking. In the beginning, he only surfed aimlessly, but two weeks into this routine he stumbled on Kaiba corporation's employees records. Ever since then every time he logged on he skimmed the records. So far he gotten through A-R, tonight he would start on S.

Click, read, scroll, read, scroll, return, click, read, scroll, read, scroll… He read each name under S methodically, bored until he finally reached a name he recognized: Saitou, Gozaburo's right hand man. He decided to read about the man as carefully as he read the records of every other person he recognized. For a long time none of the information caught his attention. He learned nothing more than customary facts like Mr. Saitou was 37, unmarried, lived in a penthouse in downtown Tokyo, and a graduate of an American university majoring in commerce.

Things became more interesting when Seto ventured into his banking history. For someone who had never spent more than five thousands US per month, Mr. Saitou spent a lot of money in the last three months. The whooping eighty thousand US spent caught Seto's attention. The most interesting fact was that the money was all transferred to one personal account, not to a company account as would be fitted for such expense. No, Mr. Saitou was definitely not buying a car, or a house, or a machine, or a company or anything. For the sake of something to do, Seto "researched," into the recipient's account.

Of everything he expected, he did not expect to find the account to be frozen.

Nor did he expect to find it frozen under the order of the US federal government.

How curious was that. His interest grew with the hours he spent conducting "research" on the owner of the frozen account. Something was not right about the owner, he knew even before he found out anything. Information about him was kept under way too much security. The level of mystery surrounded the man pushed him to continue the research all through the night. Nothing had fascinated him so much for a long time.

The next morning he called in sick for school. He skipped breakfast, then lunch, ate a rice ball for dinner, until finally he found something at around nine that night.

His eyes widen. He could not believe what he was reading, so he read it again.

Four days ago, the owner of the account was arrested for seven counts of first degree murder, six counts of assault, and illegal ownership of weapons. More charges were pending. The man was a killer for hire.

A chill ran down Seto's back as the truth unfolded in front of his eyes.

It was spring again, eleven months after the tragic incident. Anyone who met Seto again after seeing Seto before the incident would find the boy greatly altered. For one, he became much more withdrew from the rest of the school, at break and lunch he always kept to himself inside the classroom with his computer. His classmates learned to keep away from him. The few who did not ended up transferring schools within a week. He rarely spoke, and when he did it was either to answer the teachers' questions, or to give instructions to the workers at Kaiba Corporation.

He held a much colder countenance, he rarely smiled, and when he did it was only because of the success of his latest project. His school work excelled even quicker than before. When the school principle suggested him to skip two grades, Seto quickly agreed. He skipped another grade three months after that. To the satisfaction of Gozaburo, Seto's work attitude had also greatly improved. He was a lot more dedicated to the company, and contributed so much to the company's venue that even Gozaburo had to crack a smile.

The more Seto became involved with work, the more indifferent he became of the world around him, especially the world concerning his brother. No longer did he get jealous of Mokuba for his special treatments from Gozaburo. No longer did he answer to his brother calls for stories. No longer did he fall for his brother pleading eyes for trips to the park or a game of chess. When Mokuba played soccer in the house again and broke another window, Seto stood and watched unfeelingly at Gozaburo's staff being slapped down on his brother's palm.

But there was one thing that never changed that year.

He never stopped visiting Kazuhiro, who had moved from intensive care to a private room five months after the incident. Each day the young Kaiba would arrive at the hospital at 3:15 sharp. So accustomed was the hospital staffs to Seto's visit that they learned to keep any treatment or examination sessions before or after the time slot 3:15-3:45. Mr. Hashimoto in turn learned to never visit his son during that time. It was an arrangement that benefited both side since neither could stand the look of each other for different reasons. Mr. Hashimoto could not forgive the teenager. Seto could not forgive himself.

Then, six days before the incident's one year anniversary, something changed.

That day, to the amazement of the doctors, and to the utter joy of both his father and his friend, Kazuhiro woke up.

He heard the news at one o'clock during a monthly reflection conference.

When he heard the news he dropped the report he was reading, and left without a look at the confused staffs waiting for his approval to the report. Overwhelmed by happiness, he took a few unsteady steps around his office, called his ride, and rushed out of the skyscraper, his mind hardly able to process a comprehensible thought.

In the car, he ordered his driver to stop by a newspaper stand, and a sweet shop. He thought his friends should catch up with current news while enjoying his favourite chocolate. The smile that became so rare in the last year stayed on his face the whole time.

Upon his arrival, he opened the door of the car before the car stopped completely, grabbed his gifts and stumbled out of the car in a most unsightly manner. When the elevator door did not open immediately after he pressed the button, Seto ripped open the doors to the stairs. He ran up to third floor, skipping every other step, to where Kazuhiro lived in the last year.

Consumed by adrenalin, Seto could hardly breathe when he reached the outside of this friend's room. He laughed at his nervousness, forced his breath to slow before pushing open the door. "Kazuhiro!"

Mr. Hashimoto's dark eyes instantly met his. The smile on either face faltered slightly. Seto gave a slight bow. "I heard Kazuhiro woke up."

Mr. Hashimoto nodded stiffly, but motioned Seto to come in. Seto readily comply. He ran to his friend's sitting, not sleeping, form. "Kazuhiro," he repeated, hardly believing his eyes. A few rebellious tears of joy escaped his eyes. "I can't believe you are awake!"


Seto frowned in confusion. Did his friend not hear him? "Kazuhiro I brought you…" He broke off when he saw Kazuhiro's confused and almost scared expression. His eyes lacked any recognition.

"Who is he, father?" the patient asked, wide eyes and frighten.


"A friend," Mr. Hashimoto replied. Standing up to meet Seto's height, he explained in with a knowing whisper, "He had lost his recent memories."

"How much…"

"From preliminary testing, it seems he lost all memories after he turned ten."

"So to him I…" Seto could not finish the sentence.

"Don't exist," Mr. Hashimoto completed the sentence or him. He gave Seto a genuine smile of compassion and understanding. Then his hand reached up, hesitated, before resting comfortingly on Seto's shoulder. It was the first kind gesture to the boy since the incident, a sign of good will and forgiveness. "I am sorry, boy."

Seto did not move away. He was too drained, way too drained.

Three weeks later, Kazuhiro walked out of the hospital and breathed fresh air for the first time since more than a year. Under Mr. Hashimoto's invitation, Seto went to the hospital one more time.

"We are leaving for America tomorrow," Mr. Hashimoto after their initial greetings.

For some reasons the news did not surprise Seto. He looked evenly at Kazuhiro's father. "Will it be permanent?"

"Yes, Kazuhiro can get better treatments there, and I would like a change of environment." The father turned to glance at his son sitting a few meters away. Seto turned as well. For a moment, they both watched the teenager playing with a dog in silence.

Finally, Seto looked away. "I understand."

"We better get going then, we are still not finished packing." Mr. Hashimoto exclaimed suddenly, "Kazuhiro, come say good bye to Seto."

Slightly reluctant, Kazuhiro left the dog to join his father. "Good bye, Seto."

"Good bye, Kazuhiro." His impenetrable eyes turned to the father. "Good bye, Mr. Hashimoto," he said softly and extended his hand, Mr. Hashimoto gave it a strong shake.

"Good bye. I hope you would meet success what ever you do. I am sorry our relationship had not been better in the last year."

"It is quite alright," Seto sighed, his voice distant.

A heavy feeling rushed over him as Seto watched the black limousine disappear into the sea of traffic. Although he knew of his friend's situation for three weeks, it was not until then that the lost of a precious friend truly hit him.

Emptiness was all consuming.

To all the eyes of the world, at fifteen, Seto Kaiba was a prodigy excelling both in the field of technology and business. His creation and marketing of his widely successful war simulation technology had won him the position of Director of Research as well as Vice-presidency in Kaiba Corporation. Simultaneously, he was also completing his forth year in university, double majoring in commerce and computer science. He kept to himself most of the time, but when he spoke his voice was one of authority that could convince anyone to his side. Those who never heard him speak called him reserved, but those who had the privilege hear him speak called him a brilliant public speaker.

Perhaps the greatest show of his intelligence was his ability to hide his intentions and ambitions despite his natural abilities. To most, he appeared to be nothing more than a puppet controlled by Gozaburo. To others, he was a cocky teenager who enjoyed spiting Mr. Saitou, so much that they thought he had a personally vendetta against the man. To still others, he was a dedicated scientist, extremely knowledgeable especially in the field of virtual reality. Only the most observant could see his true desire, and even then they could only catch a glimpse.

But Seto's ambitions were not to be hidden forever, not at all.

It was a humid warm day, one of those highly uncomfortable days that give you the feeling you are inevitably trapped in the meaningless cycles in life. To worsen his day, there were rumours, unpleasant rumours, much to his distaste.

Roughly throwing down the business magazine, Gozaburo fumed. 'Economic experts anticipate power shifts in Kaiba Corporation to the young heir.' What was the meaning of that? It was true that eventually the corporation would be handed down to the boy, but that was after his death. He definitely had no desire to release the rein just yet.

He tried to explain to the media his intensions, but no matter how many times he denies the rumours, they kept on coming. This was highly unsettling. It was with this in mind that he called for a meeting with all major share holders. He would ensure their loyalty to himself. If Seto had influence over those men now, he would have no influence over them after the meeting. Gozaburo would make sure of that.

Walking into the meeting room, he found the major share holders seated at the two sides of the long table and Seto seated at the far end. The share holders were whispering among themselves. Seto was looking intensely at his laptop screen. At the sight of Kaiba Corporation's CEO, the mutterers quieted, and their eyes steadied on the newcomer. Seto slowly lifted his head from his laptop and stared unsettlingly at Gozaburo, smiling an unnerving smile, one that a predator would give to his prey before his hunt.

Gozaburo gave an involuntary shudder. He opened his mouth to greet the men but found his throat impossibly dry. He cleared his throat nervously and finally found his voice, "Good afternoon, gentlemen."

The shareholders nodded coolly. Gozaburo frowned. When did they begin to act so unrespectable around him?

He looked to Seto. "Good afternoon, Mr. Kaiba," the teenager greeted. "Would you enlighten us on your intentions for calling such an urgent meeting?" the youth asked, the vampire grin still on his face.

An alarm sounded in Gozaburo's mind instantly, he knew that tone, it was the tone of false ignorance, a tool he used in his younger years to get ahead. "I am sure with your intelligence, my son, you have long figured out my intentions," he said in a low growl.

Seto continued his act of fake innocence, "Oh but I did not, Mr. Kaiba, do tell us."

Gozaburo could feel his temper rising, but he managed to suppress it. He would not let the boy win, he thought to himself with an inward grin. He would show the boy he was a thousand years too young for the game he was trying to play. "Rumours, gentleman, unpleasant rumours have reached my ears about the instability of our company leadership. I want to end those rumours today with this meeting."

"And what sort of rumours are you talking about, Mr. Kaiba?" one of the share holders asked humorously, as if finding something extremely funny. A few of the men chuckled at the comment.

Gozaburo gave an indignant frown. "The false rumours concerning the possible power shift—" This time all share holders laughed. Gozaburo looked at them lost with words, perplexed. A secret joke?

"Mr. Kaiba, you look rather lost, perhaps it is time for us to bring you up to schedule…" The man next to him enlightened him, his lips tilted into a thin wry smirk. "You see, Mr. Kaiba, those 'rumours' as you put it, were planted by us."


The man sitting a few seats down interrupted him, "But they are hardly rumours, Mr. Kaiba, they are more educated speculations made by all of us, predictions, so to speak. Because as much as you would like to deny it…" He stood up and walked toward Seto Kaiba. "Power had already shifted in the company."

One by one the share holders stood up took their symbolic walk toward Seto Kaiba. Gozaburo could only stare in horror.

On the other side of the table, the grin on Seto's face grew larger. He stayed silent until all men stood next to him. Then, he spoke, softly, calculatingly, mercilessly, "From today on, Kaiba Corporation is mine." His haughty eyes never broke contact with the Gozaburo's purified ones. "This is a game you have taught me, and clearly, father, I have won."

There in front of his eyes everything he had worked so hard on building in the last thirty years dissolved into nothingness. Everything came to nothing. It was all a chasing after the wind. His life was meaningless, completely meaningless. Somehow, this sounded extremely funny in his mind. Gozaburo laughed hysterically. "Seto! You are right, you have won. I have lost."

Oh if only he did not choose him, a boy so smart, so understanding, so knowing, a boy so different than any other boys. He should have killed him when he had the chance, but he did not. He held on to the foolish hope that the boy could be controlled… until Saitou, faithful Saitou, took the matter in his own hands. But it all went wrong. No one had anticipated the depth of the friendship between Seto and Kazuhiro, no one had anticipated anyone would trade his life so that Seto could live. In the end, the guilty lived and the innocent suffered.

He had underestimated him, Gozaburo realized too late. It was his single mistake, but the most deadly mistake. He shook his head and laughed again. "The winner takes all. And the loser loses all. This is our game all along, isn't it? The chess game you and I played since day one. You have won and I will not beg. I will be a good loser and step down from the game stage…heheheheeheehehahahahah---"

He pushed himself through the class window behind him and let himself fall.

Above, the new CEO looked on in disinterest with cruel eyes, the jeering smile never left his face.

He had his revenge long ago, he knew.

Gozaburo was long dead, long cemented, long buried. Mr. Saitou was worst than dead. He had stripped the man of his every belongings, his integrity, his confidence, his position in society, his mere identity. He had stripped the man of everything except for his life so that he can taste his punishment by full.

But in the end, nothing seemed to be accomplished at all by revenge. In the end, his heart remained as empty as it was when Kazuhiro departed.

He thought revenge was the only way to execute the justice he seeks. Nothing was ever free, that was the universal rule he had lived by. Disappointment is the price for Hope. Betrayal is the price for love. Exploitation is the price for kindness. Sin is the price for knowledge. For a long, he assumed emptiness was the price for justice.

And there was no reason for him to question that assumption until now.

Yugi won, because he, Seto Kaiba, had decided out of his own free will to go out of his ways to help him. As a result, Malik, Isis and Rashid were also reunited.

Their reunion was almost a mirror of what his reunion with Mokuba had been at the end of Duellist Kingdom. He understood them, after all, how can he not? The raw emotions in their eyes were too familiar for comfort. He did not smile, but although he would never admit it, he was inwardly happy for them.

But there were more than happiness.

The scene also brought to him some foreign feelings he had not felt for a long time: the satisfaction, the sense of accomplishment, the pride that come with being a human being who has accomplished a good deed, a deed devoid of selfish intents.

Perhaps this was what people meant when they talk about feeling fulfilled.

Perhaps this was what people meant when they talk about friendship.

He looked at Yugi Motou, the one who had hurt his pride more than once, and then at Isis Ishtar, the one whom life's view he could not stand. Of all the people in the world, these two people had showed him a road other than revenge. For that he could not deny life works in a rather magical and mysterious way.

Perhaps there is hope yet.

He could not conceive the possibility of him becoming who he once was before everything as Mokuba wished. He could not imagine himself being kind to everyone around him, or holding true to a strict set of moral while smiling genuinely. Perhaps that is impossible.

But perhaps, an option did exist all along and Mokuba's wishes were feasible. Perhaps, he is simply blind to the way.

He could not make any promises. But he would take the first step toward that possibility and build the theme parks of his childhood dream.

And wait for the day when he would finally see.

For now, that would have to do.

The End
I can't believe I actually finished A Gifted Child.

I truly thought I would never pick it up again after losing my interest in Yugioh. But a few reviewers have pushed me to finish this. Special thanks to Ilvryn E, and Silver Fantasy, they reviewed my story this month, and their reviews made me feel obligated to put an end to this madness. And big hugs to Setobsessed (I hope you are reading this) you have read my story from the beginning, and writing this last chapter, I cannot help but remember how flattered I was by all of your reviews and emails.

Farewell to all.