Hello all! Welcome to the third chapter of His Saving Grace! I want to thank everyone for their support and their opinions. It helps me greatly as a writer and I hope it makes the story more enjoyable for all of you! On one note, Aki isn't a spirit duelist. She can manifest her cards as real beings, but she can't see spirits herself, as far as I know. So please, enjoy!

Disclaimer: I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh GX or any of the copyrighted materials in this story.

Chapter 3: Duel! The Rebirth of Johan's Spirit!


Previously:

"Shall we start moving?" she asked him, floating in the direction he was supposed to go.

"I want to get something to eat. I haven't eaten yet," he replied, moving in the opposite direction.

"Be quick about it, then. We haven't got all day," she warned.

He laughed lightly. "Weren't you telling me to take it easy?" he asked, amused.

She said nothing as she disappeared from his presence, something she did in the few times he managed to outwit her. He chuckled again, walking off toward the nearest deli.


Now:

He flinched inwardly as he entered the oddly lively and bustling shop. Years ago, he would have been excited by the fact that hundreds, possibly thousands, of new cards under his very nose. He could simply go up to the counter and purchase as many packs as he want, but dueling had lost its luster to him, even after going through everything to recover the enjoyment of the game.

Judai causally browsed shelf upon shelf of single cards, packs, starter and structure decks, and other trinkets, accessories, and toys as he waited for his rendezvous with the blonde Asuka look-alike. There were a few packs that caught his interest, albeit faintly. These new decks were all about quick synchro and quick, devastating assaults. He wondered, perhaps, if they were based off his, rather Jaden's, play style.

"See anything you like?" the said blonde asked as she watched the brunette. He turned around and casually raised an eyebrow.

"When did you get here?" he asked nonchalantly.

"Can't you show some enthusiasm?" Alexis joked, trying to lighten the awkward mood.

"I am," he said evenly. 'I'm starting to act like Kaiser.'

"Uh- well then," Alexis began, desperately looking for something to talk about, "I guess we should start?"

He nodded, motioning to a table, pulling stack after stack of cards from his bag. She gawked at the sheer amount he'd brought for her. After the initial shock, she picked up the nearest stack as Judai continued to place cards on the table. Her eyes widened when three quarters of the stack were rare cards that any collector or professional duelist, for that matter, would kill to get their hands on.

"T-These," she stuttered.

"They're extra cards I have at home. Go ahead and take any you feel you want," he said.

"B-But," she stared in awe, "these cards are…"

"That's a lot of cards, mister!" a small child exclaimed as he ran up to the duo. Judai and Alexis looked at the boy curiously.

"Katsuya!" a woman in her early thirties called, running up to the child. "I'm so sorry if he bothered you."

"It's fine," Alexis replied with a small smile at the child's enthusiasm. The mother quickly led the child away as Judai spoke up.

"Hey kid," he called. The three looked at him curiously. He picked up a stack of cards from the table and handed them to the small child with a smile. "Take good care of these."

"Thanks mister!" the child exclaimed, eyes brightening.

"Please, this is too generous," the woman exclaimed. She noticed that the top card on the pile was the same as a very expensive one in a display case. "We can't take this."

He shook his head as she tried to return them, much to the child's chagrin, pushing them back in her direction. "It'll be troublesome to carry them across town again. I insist," he replied.

"Thanks again, mister!" the child cheered as his mother led him out of the store. It took a lot of coaxing, but Judai managed to convince the woman to take the cards. Alexis smiled as she watched him chatter excitedly about what he'd be able to do with his new cards.

"That top card alone would be worth as much as a new computer," she said to the ex-Osiris as he took out random cards.

"I know," he said simply. She frowned. He was certainly this quiet at school, but she'd figured it was professionalism, not his actual personality.

"You know?" she asked, confused.

"I have no use for it. I might as well give it to someone who'd cherish it," he explained. "What do you think about these?"

She looked at the cards carefully. They seemed to be ritual styled monsters, which were considered an old style of dueling that died out completely just before the release of synchro monsters. Alexis looked at him, confusedly.

"What are these?" she asked.

"The Cyber Angel series. They're fairly old, but they're quite formidable when built right," he said.

"Cyber… Angel… I like the ring to that," she smiled. He smiled back.

"I'm glad," he said, as they delved into the stacks, picking out cards that would complement the deck. She gasped when she saw it.

"Where'd you get this?" she asked, holding up a trap card, Doblé Passé.

"I found it yesterday after school. I thought I'd return it to the owner. It must have accidentally slipped into the pile," he shrugged.

"So that's where I left it," she mused. His eyes widened.

"T-This is yours?" he asked, surprised.

"Yeah. I've had this for years. It's always in my decks," she replied.

"I-I see," he mumbled.

"Mr. Yuki, are you alright?" Alexis asked. It appeared the soon-to-be-teacher's mood had dropped significantly. He nodded anyways, producing a forced smile.

After some time of strategy explanations and combo designing, Alexis felt confident with the deck she'd built. It seemed to be consistent, explosive, defensive, and offensive all at the same time. She looked at the brunette. He was still absently shuffling through some of the cards.

"Um- Mr. Yuki?" she said, gaining his attention. He looked up.

"Hm?"

"I-I was wondering if you could help me test out this deck," she said, slightly unnerved by his intense stare.

"I don't see why not," he replied, pulling out Asuka's deck.

She ground her teeth as her life points fell to zero. The deck was great. In fact, it was amazing! It fit her perfectly, but he countered her perfectly, with the same deck for that fact. At least she'd managed to knock out some of his life points this time.

"H-How?" she muttered.

"I've had this deck for years," he said. "It's only natural that I have more experience with it than you do. I must say, you did really well with that deck, though."

"T-Thanks," she smiled.

"Hey! Are these your cards?" someone asked. Judai turned around, looking at three teens around their age.

"Yes, why?" Judai nodded.

"This handful has to be worth at least over three hundred thousand yen (est. three thousand USD)," one of them exclaimed, holding up a stack.

"Please put those down," he requested, his voice low and even. The teens had an evil glint on their face.

"We'll duel you for them," one of them suggested. Judai rolled his eyes, disinterested, yet he accepted their challenge.

"Just so you know, we're the best duelists in this place," one of them laughed, hoping to intimidate the brunette. Judai placed the extra cards back in his bag, snatching the cards out of their hands.

"So?" he asked nonchalantly.

"You have zero chance of winning," one of them smirked.

'God, that phrase is annoying to hear,' Judai flinched. Yubel snorted. His opponents took it as a sign of fear and laughed.

"Duel!" Judai and one of the boys shouted, inserting the deck into the disk.

"I'll start," the teen said. "I activate Six Samurai United! When I do, I can add one counter every time I summon a 'Six Samurai' monster! Then, I summon Six Samurai Kageki, attack mode! When he's summoned, I can special summon a 'Six Samurai' from my hand! Kagemusha of the Six Samurai!"

"These things," Judai groaned.

"Now, I release the United to draw two! Now, I activate Asceticism of the Six Samurai, allowing me to special summon Elder of the Six Samurai from my deck! Next, I tune the Kagemusha with my Elder! I synchro summon the Legendary Six Samurai Shi-En! In attack mode!" he said proudly. "Try and get around these guys and my facedown.

"Draw," Judai said calmly. "From my hand, I summon the Summoner Monk. His effect automatically switches him to defense mode."

"That's a rare card!" a bystander exclaimed as a monk in purple robes appeared on the field. It had eight hundred attack points and sixteen hundred defense points.

"No way! Those things are extremely hard to get!" another agreed.

"They're worth tens of thousands!" someone added.

"I activate the effect of Summoner Monk," Judai said calmly. "By discarding one spell card, I can special summon one level four or lower monster to the field in attack or defense mode. Gem Beast Sapphire Pegasus, come forth!"

Everyone gasped. The Gem Beasts. Every avid fan of Duel Monsters knew them. The legendary, one-of-a-kind deck that had been considered lost after the death of their original owner, Johan Anderson. It was as if someone had discovered the library at Alexandria.

"M-Maybe they're fake," someone offered.

"N-No, then the duel server wouldn't accept them," another replied. Alexis blinked, not knowing halfway what they were talking about.

"Sapphire Pegasus' effect activates. I can add one Gem Beast Monster to my spell and trap card zone," he explained as a topaz gem appeared on the field. "Now, I activate the spell card Gem Promise. It allows me to summon the Topaz from my spell zone."

"I activate Shi-En's effect and negate that spell!" his opponent yelled hastily. Judai smirked.

"Very well, I activate the spell card, Pot of Greed," he said simply, returning his hand count to four. "Now, I activate the spell card Emergency Teleport."

"What? Another rare card?" someone cried.

"Just how many rare cards are in that deck?"

"With it, I special summon Krebons in attack mode," Judai continued. "I tune the level four Gem Beast Sapphire Pegasus to the level two Krebons…"

The room suddenly became dark, and dropped twenty degrees. Judai was particularly fond of this combo. It matched him perfectly. Frozen mist filled the store, making more people, including the shopkeeper interested in the duel.

"Brionac, Dragon of the Ice Barrier," Judai half-growled, placing the card on his disk. People gasped as an ice-encrusted dragon with a star-shaped mane roared, its holographic projection freezing some of the light fixtures. It had twenty-three hundred attack points and fourteen hundred defense points.

"Wow," Alexis muttered. Some of the observers stood back in fear, despite it being a hologram.

"With Brionac's effect, I send one card to the graveyard to return the facedown to your hand," he explained, discarding Ruby Carbuncle, sending Mirror Force back to his opponent's hand. His opponent's smirk faltered. "Now, I use activate the spell card Gem Blessing to bring the Ruby and Sapphire to my spell and trap zone."

"W-What's the use of that? It's not like they have any abilities!" the teen exclaimed. Judai ignored the boy's rant.

"I activate the spell card Rare Value. Send one of the gems to the cemetery and I draw two," he said.

"I-I pick the Ruby!" his opponent declared after obvious thought. Judai remained quiet as Carbuncle disappeared and he drew two more cards.

"I activate the effect of my Gem Beacon. Since I have two Gems in my spell zone, I can special summon Gem Beast Amethyst Cat to my field. Now, I activate my second Emergency Teleport," he sighed. 'Might as well end this quickly.'

"A second one?!" someone cried.

"That deck must be worth millions! How'd he get it?" another exclaimed.

"With a second Krebons on the field, I tune my Summoner Monk and my Amethyst Cat with Krebons. I synchro summon…" he started. The floor rumbled as the wall next to Judai shattered to pieces. Out of it, a massive purple worm slithered through. People gasped as it and Brionac took places at either of Judai's sides. The worm had twenty-five hundred attack points and two thousand defense points. "… Mist Wurm."

"Holy-," the teen in front of Judai muttered.

"Mist Wurm's effect allows me to send up to three cards on my opponent's field back to the hand the turn he's special summoned," Judai said.

"B-But that means…"

"You're wide open. Mist Wurm, Brionac, finish this game," Judai said. His opponent groaned as his life points hit zero. Judai simply placed the deck gingerly in its holster and made to leave when the crowd approached him.

"How much for that deck?" someone shouted.

"I'll pay anything!" another person cried.

"I'll double whatever anyone offers!"

"I'll triple it!"

"I'm not interested," Judai sighed. They paused for a second.

"Surely there's…" someone began.

"No. This is very precious to me. I will not give it up for the world," he replied. "I think it's time for me to leave."

"W-wait!" Alexis called, running after him. He turned around, raising an eyebrow.

"That was amazing!" she exclaimed.

"Thanks," he smiled, as they strolled down the busy street. "By the way, where are you going?"

"My parents will be home soon, so I think I'll be heading home," she replied, taking a peek at her cell phone.

"I see. Well, good evening, then," he said, turning in the opposite direction. Alexis paused for a moment before she made her decision.

"Mr. Yuki!" she called after him. He stopped again and turned around. Even though it had happened moments before, it seemed like déjà vu, like it had happened before, as if it was in another lifetime.

"Is something wrong?" he asked.

"N-No. I-I was just wondering if you'd accompany me home," she asked, uncharacteristically shyly.

"You do realize that this wasn't a date, right?" Judai asked amusedly.

"Y-yeah, I know. M-My family wants to meet the guy who beat me, though," she explained. He nodded.

"I do have one request, however," he said.

"What's that?" she asked curiously.

"Please don't call me Mr. Yuki. Just call me Judai. It's less awkward," he answered. "I'm not your senior."

"O-Okay, Judai," she laughed sheepishly. "You've told me that so many times, but I keep forgetting."

He smiled genuinely for the first time in ages. Perhaps Yubel was right. Perhaps this was a second chance. He shook his head. It was impossible. He could never fall for this girl, no matter how much it killed him inside. He'd already lost a lot of his humanity.

"How so?" Yubel asked, reading his thoughts.

"How so, what?" the brunette asked back. Alexis was currently on the phone, alerting her brother of their house guest.

"Why can't you fall for this girl? She seems nice enough. She's just like her," Yubel said.

"That's exactly why," he replied.

"I don't follow," she said. For once, she couldn't understand him.

"She looks like her. She acts like her. She sounds like her. She even duels like her. Don't you see? If I fall for her, it's a replacement for Asuka. It's superficial. This girl deserves more than that. Even if we do somehow end up together, how do I explain my role in the history and future of the world?" he explained. His reasoning surprised her. He'd put thought into this, and it was logical. If he did fall for this girl, it would be superficial, no matter how she put it.

"I-I…" the humanoid dragon muttered.

"It can't happen. At best, I can remain her friend. I don't want to hurt Alexis," he sighed. She'd led him to the train station, holding his wrist the entire time. For the first time in years, he could feel warmth in his painfully cold body. It radiated and filled his soul, like the light at the end of a tunnel.

"Yubel!" Judai exclaimed.

"What is it, Judai?" she asked.

"I-I… Did you feel that?" he asked.

"Feel what?" she was thoroughly confused, worrying that he was talking about a new enemy or possibly his waning sanity.

"I can feel," he muttered.

"Feel?"

"I don't feel cold," he looked at the blonde standing beside him.


Judai gapped slightly as he took in the Victorian architecture of the Rhodes residence as they approached. Obviously her parents were well off, just like Asuka. Fancy cars lined the streets and the lawns looked immaculately maintained.

"Nice place you have here," he commented absent-mindedly said.

"Thanks. My parents work as executives at Kaiba Corporation," she explained. It reminded him of his father, who'd worked closely with Kaiba himself.

"I see," he replied. "So tell me a little about yourself."

"Well, I have an older brother," she started. "I just told you about my parents. I like to duel, play sports, and read. There really isn't much to say about my past. It's really just normal and somewhat boring. What about you?"

He stopped walking; rather, he couldn't walk anymore. Three words. That was all it took. Three words and he froze like the blood in his dragon. This wasn't supposed to happen. He wasn't supposed to falter when he was asked about his past. He was Yuki Judai, silent savior of the world, of the dimension, of all existence.

"Judai?" Alexis asked, worried. He snapped out of his trance upon hearing her voice.

"I'm sorry, what were you saying?" he replied, playing off his near loss of composure.

"I just asked what about you? Then you froze like a statue," she said.

"Sorry. Um… Let's see… Well, I was born and raised in Neo Domino City. My parents put me in accelerated courses until they died when I was ten. For the years after that, I traveled the world with a relative, then came back and got a job as a teacher," he said, not even believing his own fabricated history.

"I'm so sorry," she sighed.

"For what?" he asked curiously.

"I brought up some bad memories, didn't I?" she asked, showing him to the doorstep.

"I-It's alright. The past is the past," he assured her. She nodded.

"Atticus, I'm home!" she called out. The older Rhodes appeared from around the corner with a blonde woman and two older people. "Mom! Dad!"

"Welcome home, Alexis," Mrs. Rhodes greeted cheerfully, hugging her daughter. Despite looking well into her forties, the woman looked to be full of life. She had wavy brown hair and hazel eyes.

Mr. Rhodes repeated the manner, hugging his daughter lovingly. He looked also to be in his late forties with short blonde hair and sparkling brown eyes. Judai was about to leave silently when he heard them speak again.

"Alexis, is this your boyfriend?" Mrs. Rhodes asked curiously, glancing at Judai. The ex-Osiris duelist removed his glasses and tried to smile.

"Boyfriend?" Judai asked, confused. Mr. Rhodes' demeanor changed drastically. He was watching Judai like a hawk, examining the boy up and down.

"Mom! No, he's not my boyfriend," Alexis exclaimed. Her face turned a faint red.

"Then who's he?" Mr. Rhodes asked. Judai flinched for the umpteenth time that day.

"That's the guy I was telling you about," the Fubuki look-alike explained. Both parents blinked.

"This is the guy?" Mrs. Rhodes asked.

"I expected someone older… not a hipster," Mr. Rhodes said, scratching his chin.

"Pardon?" Judai shot back.

"Dad!" Alexis exclaimed.

"Dear, be nice," Mrs. Rhodes admonished. "Won't you come in, dear?"

"Is it alright?" Judai asked cautiously.

"Please! We insist," Atticus exclaimed, clasping Judai's hand, pulling him inside.

He sighed as he sat awkwardly on the couch in the Rhodes' sitting room. They were all looking at him and he had absolutely no idea what to say. If he were his old self, he'd probably have no problem starting a conversation, but he'd become recluse. He had nothing to say.

"S-So what's your name?" Atticus finally asked.

"Yuki Judai," the brunette replied.


And fin! How was it? Give me your opinions! For all the competitive Yu-Gi-Oh players, I know I'm using banned cards, but Brionac doesn't deserve to be banned, especially when you see what Konami has slated for released later this format and for the next one. Thanks for reading and if you have any questions about the story, feel free to ask, and I'll answer in the next chapter. Until next time,

Transparentchaos signing out!