Title: Summer of ‘69
Author: bnomiko
Rating: NC-17
Pairing(s): Seto x Yami, Noa + Mokuba, Jou + Mai, Yugi + Anzu, Malik + Ryou, Rafael + Valon + Amelda
Spoilers: none
Warnings: swearing
Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! is the creation of Kazuki Takahashi. Men Who Ride Mountains is a film by Grant Rohloff. "The Impression That I Get" is performed and recorded by Mighty Mighty Bosstones. This is a not-for-profit fanwork and I do not own any of these characters.
Summary: "Or has it ever come down to do or die, You’ve got to rise above the rest"
Status: 9 / ?
Archived at: http://www.phenixsol.com/Miko/FF/

This is a YAOI fic (male x male sexual situations) and is not appropriate for minors. If you are underage or offended by homosexual relationships, please do not read this. Flames will be disregarded.

* * *

Summer of '69

Ch. 7: Men Who Ride Mountains

* * *

Have you ever had the odds stacked up so high
You need a strength most don’t possess
Or has it ever come down to do or die
You’ve got to rise above the rest

- "The Impression That I Get", Mighty Mighty Bosstones

* * *

Waking up to find himself back at the duplex with Seto nowhere in sight definitely didn’t make Yami happy. Finding out that Seto had shut down the energy feed made him even less so. It didn’t matter that it was 2:00 AM… Yami was willing to make the 60-something mile drive out to Kaiba Corp. America to berate Seto for his foolishness in person, but after a precursory mental check, he realized that exhaustion had finally caught up to his lover, and he certainly wasn’t going to wake him just to yell at him.

A little frustrated and yet, relieved that at least Seto was getting some rest now, Yami settled back into his bed and wondered how he had gotten home. Undoubtedly, Seto had someone drive him back… Mokuba and Noa too, he bet, and maybe the teens got Rafael or Valon to carry him in when he didn’t wake up on his own…

Somewhat concerned, but mostly curious, Yami got out of bed and quietly snuck up to the third floor to check on Mokuba and Noa. Although there were two bedrooms upstairs, both of which had been furnished with the intention of being used as bedrooms, the pair had decided right off the bat that they’d prefer keeping their current sleeping arrangement, and so one room was being treated as an office or gaming room of sorts while the other became their shared bedroom. Yami found Mokuba snoring away in the full sized bed in the rear bedroom, and Noa napping in his office chair in the front room, the light from his computer monitor casting a bluish glow over his sleeping face.

After fetching a blanket for Noa, Yami decided to go down to the living room to watch TV instead of returning to bed. Though he was still a little tired, he was intent on finding out what had transpired during the afternoon while he had slept. He vaguely remembered being woken up by a sense of panic and turmoil, and that Jou had been dueling Sieg Llo… no, Siegfried von Schroider. He wondered if Jou had managed to defeat his pink-haired opponent. And how had Rebecca fared?

Not bothering with turning on the lights, the ex-spirit flipped through channels until he found one that seemed a promising prospect for local news, though at the moment, all that was being reported were the surf conditions. When a commercial came on, Yami found his thoughts drifting to Siegfried, and Amelda, and Gozaburo Kaiba. Was Siegfried trying to get revenge for some wrong done to his family by Gozaburo, like Amelda had done? If the von Schroiders were in the same business as Gozaburo had been, it was possible that Gozaburo had stolen away lucrative contracts or employees from them, and had driven them to bankruptcy. But if that was the case, the German had the wrong Kaiba, and that made Yami mad. He hated that people cursed Seto for what his adoptive father had done, as if he were to blame for Gozaburo’s sins. He blamed himself enough already for other things that had happened in his past, even though many of those things had been beyond his control.

Despite the fact that Seto was practically working himself into an early grave, Yami had thought that the development of the new park and the hosting of the tournament had been good for his boyfriend. It was something positive, something done to fulfill a dream, something that would keep Seto moving forward to embrace his future… and then Siegfried had to come and drag him down, saddling him with all sorts of problems, reminding Seto of the past that he was still struggling with.

Speaking of struggles and problems, Yami was not liking what he was seeing on the news. The anchorwoman was talking about KaibaLand, but not in a positive light. Yami grimaced as he saw footage of malfunctioning rides, and frightened children relating how they were stuck on a roller coaster for several minutes while their parents ranted about how unsafe the park was. At least no serious injuries had been reported, with the worst being some minor cuts being sustained by patrons who had panicked and run into things like barricades, but all this bad press was going to severely hurt the park’s attendance and earnings, as well as Kaiba Corp.’s reputation. A very weary Seto had felt obligated to hold an emergency news conference that evening, which was now being replayed, to assure the public that the rides were safe, that the problem was being addressed, but it was going to take more than that to salvage the situation. Stocks had dropped; there was talk about closing the park for more safety inspections.

"By the gods, Seto…" Yami murmured to himself, disheartened. No wonder Seto had elected to not come home with them. But Yami wondered why he had clamped down on the energy transfer when it was clear that he was really going to need it if he were to deal with all those headaches. His being woken up by Seto’s panic hadn’t done it, so what had happened?


The crimson-eyed man turned towards the stairs to see Noa shuffling towards him, rubbing at his eyes, blanket slung over his shoulders still. "Hey."

"You feel okay?"

Yami shrugged, glancing at the TV. "About as well as could be, considering."

"I’m glad you’re up." Noa yawned as he went to join Yami on the sofa. "Well, not glad ‘cause you’re up at an ungodly hour, but… I mean, I’m glad you woke up. I was worried. I wasn’t sure about what Seto was doing to you and all," he said, pointing at his own head.

Yami blinked as he processed what Noa was asking between the lines. "I was letting him use some of my energy, so that he’d be able to concentrate on his tasks. I don’t know why he stopped though. Do you know anything about that?"

Noa fidgeted a little nervously, looking down at his hands. "I was worried," he repeated. "You were unconscious, and when I asked, Seto couldn’t explain why… It didn’t seem right."

Closing his eyes, Yami fought back the anger he suddenly felt… it wouldn’t do any good to get mad at Noa, he told himself. The green-haired teen had been trying to help. He’d been looking out for Yami’s best interests. He had just forgotten Seto’s in the process… "I… appreciate you wanting to look out for me. But, you have to trust that I know my own limits when it comes to what Seto and I do."

"But… Seto seemed so unsure about it. He said he didn’t know how it would affect you. I just didn’t think it… it’s not that I don’t trust you…"

"I know. You did it for me." Yami sighed. "Seto didn’t like it either, but I knew he needed it. And I knew it wouldn’t hurt me…"

"God, Yami…" Nervous blue eyes focused on Yami's face. "Is this going to hurt Seto instead, then? I don’t want anything bad to happen to him either!"

Seeing Noa’s concern, Yami wrapped his arm around the teen’s shoulders. "He’s asleep right now, so at least he’s getting some rest. You should be sleeping too. I’ll talk to him tomorrow… we’ll handle things as they come, okay?"

Nodding, Noa let Yami pull him close for a minute, their concern binding them together. "So… you going to stay up?" he finally asked as he felt Yami sagging slightly against him.

"For now, I suppose."

"Mind if I keep you company? There was something I was working on…"


Noa got up and went to retrieve his computer, returning with a hesitant smile on his face. "Now, don’t let me fall asleep. But don’t distract me either. This is really important," he told Yami as he sat back down, placing the laptop across his thighs.

"Okay." And Yami turned the volume off on the television, figuring that closed captioning was good enough for the moment since nothing of interest was airing. He still hoped to find a channel that would replay the duels from the tournament, but nothing but a mindless string of infomercials and late night programs flashed by on the screen.

In frustration, Yami ended up settling for some documentary about Vikings, curling up in the blanket Noa had brought down while the green-haired teen worked beside him. In the dimly lit room, Noa’s rapid, light keystrokes sounded a familiar sort of accompaniment, and Yami felt his eyelids growing heavier with each passing minute.

Meanwhile, Noa continued to work, mindless of the time, barely registering the fact that Yami had finally fallen asleep. It wasn’t that he doubted Seto’s ability to program circles around Sieg, but he knew Seto was really tired, and that meant he’d be more prone to making… certain oversights. And of course, he felt bad about all the things he had said that had been misconstrued. Apparently, he suffered from a chronic case of open mouth, insert foot.

Kaiba Corp. wasn’t his company. Seto wasn’t really his big brother. But he’d be damned if he just sat around and did nothing to help. Maybe he wasn’t great at expressing that he cared, but he did know that he was good with computers. It was a language that Seto was comfortable with as well. Noa hoped that he’d understand… and that he’d accept his apology.

* * *

The entire group reconvened late the next morning at the Kaiba Dome California with the surprising addition of Vivian Wong, who showed up as Mai’s guest, much to Rebecca’s vexation. But she seemed to be a little more subdued than before, not making any overt gestures towards Yugi, so Rebecca decided to not make an issue of it. She already had enough of a headache from thinking about what to say to Yugi, so she considered it a blessing that Vivian was out of the picture, at least for the moment.

Despite what had happened at the park the day before, park attendance wasn’t as bad as Yami had feared, with the tournament being a big enough draw that the stands were completely packed and thousands more had to be diverted to smaller viewing stations around the park. Once again, Seto had reserved an entire block of seats for his friends, though he was nowhere to be seen himself. Yami only knew he was awake and nearby, though he hadn’t responded to any of his hails, which meant that either he was extraordinarily busy, or up to something. So he kept looking up at the blue sky above the open roof of the stadium, expecting to see the Blue Eyes White Dragon jet come screaming by overheard.

It felt like déjà vu when a Kaiba Corp. helicopter flew over the stadium, just as Isono and Mokuba finished introducing the two duelists, Sieg Lloyd and Leon Wilson. The crowd gaped at Seto’s sudden appearance once they could see that it was the CEO himself who was hanging onto the ladder that dangled below the chopper. As the helicopter slowly descended into the middle of the stadium, Yami shook his head. Seto was dressed in his old Battle City outfit and had his briefcase with him. What was he up to this time?

"Well, there he goes again, showin’ off," Jou commented as Seto leapt the final few feet to the dueling platform, though like everyone else, he wondered why Seto was making an appearance all of a sudden.

"I’m putting a stop to this right now!" Seto announced once Mokuba ran forth to hand him the microphone. "As president of Kaiba Corp., I declare this match invalid. As a result of a disqualification, the winner of this duel is Leon Wilson!"

The crowd let out a collective gasp as Valon asked the question that was on everyone’s mind. "Damn, what’s going on here? Yami, Noa?"

Noa began to shake his head since he hadn’t a clue, but Yami grimly told the group, "I think I know, and I think you’re all about to find out, too."

"Any particular reason for this?" Sieg sniffed at Seto. "Humor me."

You know full well why I’m disqualifying you, you bastard. "You broke your tournament contract by entering the event under a false name, Sieg Lloyd… or should I say, Siegfried von Schroider, president of Schroider Corp.!"

Hushed murmurs rippled through the assembled crowd as Siegfried smirked, not bothering to deny the allegation. A lot of people were confused, especially poor Leon, who seemed uncertain whether or not he should remain on the dueling field.

For the benefit of his immediate group, Pegasus explained loudly, "Schroider Corp. is a top gaming company in Europe. So in many ways, it is Kaiba Corp.’s rival."

"The only Schroider Corp. I’ve heard of was a weapons manufacturer. I wonder… well, but if Schroider Corp. is all that, why didn’t you tell us who Sieg really was?" Noa asked.

Pegasus shrugged somewhat apologetically. "I’m afraid my dealings with Schroider Corp. were rather limited once I had a contract with Kaiba Corp. Why, I never even knew that was their CEO until this moment."

Back over atop the dueling arena, Seto was leveling more allegations at Siegfried. "Falsifying your name on your tournament application is enough for me to disqualify you, right here, right now. But on top of that, I know you’re the one behind all the problems I’ve been having the last few days."

Siegfried just laughed. "So, you think you’ve figured it all out, have you? Why don’t you tell the truth, Herr Kaiba? You’re only disqualifying me because you’re a coward… because of a loophole… Because you’re afraid of my skills as a duelist! You know that if I win this tournament, my victory would herald the end of Kaiba Corp.’s domination over the global gaming market!" He gestured at the crowd. "Think of it… look at all these people… Why, this is being broadcast all over the world. You are a coward, Herr Kaiba. Everyone can see you’re afraid of me!"

"Afraid? Of you?" Seto snorted dismissively, but his eyes were bright, lit by the fire of his competitive spirit. The prospect of a duel made him forgot how tired he was. His pulse was picking up. "Hardly. But… I’ve changed my mind. You’ve already shown yourself as a snake, albeit a little one. I might as well complete your humiliation by crushing you underfoot myself."

"Oh? Why, it almost sounds like you’re planning to duel me yourself."

Seto dropped his briefcase, flipping it open to reveal his Duel Disk. "You got that right." He pulled his deck out of his pocket and held it out to Siegfried. If he took it, that would mean he was accepting the challenge. "Let’s find out who the real coward is!"

Grinning broadly, Siegfried stepped forward and the two men exchanged decks, shuffling them briefly before returning them and taking their places at the duelists’ platforms on opposite ends of the arena. A coin flip determined that Siegfried had the right to choose the order of turns, and he elected to go second.

As Isono quickly announced the new duel, calling it a bonus match to assuage the spectators, Mokuba went and got Leon, and the two joined Yugi-tachi over in their reserved area, quickly finding seats so that they wouldn’t miss one second of the action.

"Wow Leon, so I guess you’ll get to duel me after this, since this makes you the winner of the tournament," Yugi told the redhead as he sat down.

"I… guess," Leon responded rather despondently.

"What’s wrong?" Anzu asked.

"It was my dream to duel Yugi, but… I didn’t think it’d happen like this."

"Oh please, if you don’t want to duel him, I’d be happy to take your spot," said Rebecca, feeling a bit miffed. "That’s why I really wanted to win our duel yesterday."

"I know. I’m sorry."

Vivian rolled her eyes at the exchange, then told Leon, "Look kid, you’ve earned the privilege to have a shot at the champ himself. And Siegfried von Whatever dug his own grave. So don’t insult everyone else who competed by complaining about it now."

Leon could only nod numbly as the dueling platforms rose up above the dueling field, but it didn’t mean he agreed with Vivian. That should’ve been him up there. He had been looking forward to the duel, to proving himself in front of a worldwide audience. He didn’t want a win to simply be handed to him – it went against everything he believed in as a duelist. But all he could do was sit and watch, along with everyone else.

Finally kicking off the duel, Seto began by playing X-Head Cannon in attack mode, along with two cards face down. Then he ended his turn.

Sieg laughed as he examined his cards. "Ah, a nice opening move. But I’m afraid it will not be enough to save you." Then he played his Ride of the Valkyries, eliciting a few screams from the audience. "My Valkyries Zweite, Dritte and Erste have been looking forward to this meeting," he said, introducing the trio of monsters that appeared on his side of the field. "Thanks to Valkyrie Zweite’s special effect, your X-Head Cannon is now destroyed. Next, Valkyrie Erste, remove his X-Head Cannon from play, and take on its attack points! And last but not least, Valkyrie Dritte gains 100 attack points for every opposing monster removed from the game. Looks like the duel will be over before it even begun. Now then… Valkyrie Zweite, attack his life points directly!"

"Not so fast. I activate Negate Attack."

"Nice," Amelda commented. "Now Siegfried’s turn is over, so his Valkyries will have to return to his deck."

Unfazed, Siegfried tsked and played a magic card. "Ah, that might have worked. But with this Mischief of the Time Goddess magic card, I have just skipped your turn and thus, my Valkyries remain on the field. Valkyrie Zweite, attack!"

"Hn. I activate Magical Trick Mirror, which allows me to activate a magic card from your graveyard. And I chose Mischief of the Time Goddess. Two can play at this game, Siegfried… if you thought you could end this duel in one turn, you thought wrong. Now… I play Z-Metal Tank in defense mode, which allows me to special summon Clone Dragon, which becomes an exact duplicate of the card I just played." With two Z-Metal Tanks protecting his life points, Seto ended his turn.

"Why bother stalling, Herr Kaiba? We both know you can’t win." The pink-haired man gestured at the three Valkyries before him. "Since my turn never officially ended when you played Mischief of the Time Goddess, my Valkyries remain on the field – a costly mistake! Now, I shall play a magic card, Valkyrie’s Embrace. Then I switch my Valkyrie Dritte to defense mode." He snickered as Z-Metal Tank vanished from Seto’s side of the field. "You see, by activating my magic card, I can remove one of your monsters from play as long as I switch one of my Valkyries to defense mode. But that’s not all. Valkyrie Erste, destroy his second Z-Metal Tank!"

Seto scowled as he was once again was left without monsters on his side of the field.

Siegfried grinned as if he had the duel won already. "Valkyrie Zweite, attack his life points now!"

"That was bad – Kaiba lost 1600 life points in that one turn!" Honda yelled as Seto’s life points plummeted.

Brushing off the damage he’d taken, Seto drew again, playing Pitch-Dark Dragon in defense mode along with a face down card, then ended his turn. Siegfried sent Zweite to destroy the dragon, but that activated Seto’s Flat Level 4 trap card, which meant that they’d both have to select a four star monster from their deck to direct summon to the field. The Kaiba Corp. CEO selected Y-Dragon Head, while Siegfried chose another Valkyrie Dritte before ending his turn.

Drawing again, Seto played Pot of Greed so that he could draw two more cards, then played Dimension Fusion, a magic card which would allow both players to special summon all monsters which had been removed from play, but at the cost of 2000 life points to the wielder. Z-Metal Tank and X-Head Cannon both reappeared on Seto’s side of the field.

"He’s really cutting it close," Otogi pointed out, eyeing Seto’s remaining 400 life points.

"Have faith…" Yami murmured, staring at his boyfriend intently, as if he could restore the missing life points by his will alone. He was breathing just as hard as Seto was, adrenaline flooding his body as if he were the one dueling.

"Next, I’m playing Soul Absorption, which will give me 500 life points every time a card is removed from play. So, I’ll remove X-Head Cannon, Y-Dragon Head, and Z-Metal Tank in order to summon XYZ-Dragon Cannon to the field. Oh, and if that weren’t enough, I just regained 1500 life points as well. Now XYZ-Dragon Cannon, destroy his Valkyrie Dritte!" Seeing the scowl on his opponent’s face as his life points dropped to 2500, Seto sneered and asked, "What’s wrong, Siegfried?

"What’s wrong?" Siegfried drew and smirked at what he saw. "Why, there’s nothing wrong at all. I play this, Nibelung’s Treasure! It allows me to select a spell card and place it on your side of the field, and also allows me to draw five more cards." Rapidly, he drew a quintet of cards, then placed a card on the field. "The spell card I choose is Nibelung’s Ring, and I shall place it on your XYZ-Dragon Cannon! It will keep your monster from attacking me, and better yet… each turn you must draw two cards, and if either one is a monster, it will be removed from play. But ah, I am not done yet. First, I sacrifice my Valkyrie Dritte to summon Fortune Chariot, which will allow Valkyrie Zweite to attack your life points directly, at half her attack power." Another 800 points were torn from Seto's pool of life points. "And finally, I play one card face down, and also Mystical Space Typhoon, which will destroy your Soul Absorption. So as you see, Herr Kaiba, there is nothing wrong at all!"

Seto’s face remained fairly neutral as he drew the two cards required by Nibelung’s Ring. Since neither was a monster, he chose to place one card on the field and ended his turn, since XYZ-Dragon Cannon could not attack.

Still gloating over his own cleverness, Siegfried said, "And of course, you know what comes next. Valkyrie Zweite, use the Fortune Chariot and attack his life points once again!"

"I activate Attack Guidance Armor, which allows me to redirect your attack onto your other monster!"

"Ah, that might have worked if I did not have Wotan’s Judgement on my side, which allows me to switch one magic card in my hand for the top card of my deck. It also prematurely ends your turn." The German paused dramatically, inspecting his hand, then announced, "I thank you Herr Kaiba, for making this next move possible. Now I play the magic cards Goddess Urd's Verdict, Goddess Verdande's Guidance, and Goddess Skuld's Oracle."

"Oh shit!" was all Jou could say. He’d been the victim of those three cards, so he knew how bad that was for Seto.

"Stop gloating and get on with it," Seto told Siegfried, but he was slightly distracted... For a fleetingly brief moment, he thought he saw a faint, icy glow emanating from his deck…

"Of course. But first, courtesy of my Goddess Skuld, let’s see the top three cards in your deck…" The cards appeared on the field, flipping up to reveal themselves, shocking Siegfried with what he saw. "That’s… that’s impossible!"

"Don’t like what you see?" Seto asked dryly, though inside, his heart was pounding. Somehow, he knew exactly what three cards had been revealed. He hated tipping his hand like that, even though those were the rules.

"It does not matter. My other Goddesses will take care of those," Siegfried insisted, gesturing at his two remaining spell cards. Seto may have drawn his dragons, but he’d be losing them soon enough…

Meanwhile, down in the VIP seating area, Sugoroku suddenly lifted his hand to his chest. He had the strangest feeling… like a slight warmth spreading through his chest. It didn’t hurt, but it was disconcerting nonetheless. He wondered what it could be, then… the strangest thought occurred to him.

Sugoroku reached into his pocket and fished out a slim case. Someone had the idea of marketing little protective display boxes for treasured Duel Monsters cards. The game shop carried them. This particular one was special though, custom made in a dark blue velvet with chrome trim and a locking clasp. He undid the clasp, and slowly opened it, holding his breath…

The fourth Blue Eyes White Dragon. It really wasn’t worth anything as far as dueling went since it had been damaged beyond repair, but to him… it was the most valuable card in the world. It represented so many things: friendship, inner strength, hopes and dreams. And it was beautiful, shimmering like a captured beam of moonlight against a sea of ink blue satin.

Sugoroku swore that the card had been glowing, but that should have been impossible. It was just paper. Maybe it had just reflected some of the sunlight that was pouring into the stadium. But try as he might, the old man couldn’t seem to find the angle to replicate it, and anyway, it hadn’t really looked like a simple trick of light. It had been glowing softly, and it had been warm – as if it were alive. He was certain of that. It was trying to tell him something…

He looked at Yugi, sitting a seat away with his eyes fixed on the duel in front of them. The card had never really suited him. But Seto Kaiba…

If dragons were real, if one touched down on Earth in human form, surely it would see in Seto the qualities it would recognize in its own kind – his fierce loyalty and pride and tenacity, the fire in his eyes, the brilliance of his mind and the strength of his spirit…

Yami spoke often about the Heart of the Cards. He made them all believe in magic too – not just the magic that had given him another chance at life, but the magic inherent the game they all loved as well. So was it possible then that this fourth dragon was now responding to Seto’s need?

Sugoroku wondered if Seto would accept it. He tried to imagine himself handing it over. The young CEO would probably refuse, assuming there was a catch, that there was a price to be paid for it. But not everything in life came with a price. Or maybe he’d turn it down because that particular dragon had rejected him once already, and he had torn it in half so that it’d never be able to reject him again.

The Blue Eyes White Dragon was a creature of light. And back then, Seto had existed like a blind man, in darkness… an angry, dangerous, uncontrollable 15-year-old who didn’t have the benefit of a stable childhood, loving parents, or supportive friends. Maybe that was why he was attracted to it in the first place – the dragon represented everything he didn’t have, everything he wished he could be. Maybe that’s why he had wanted it and resented it at the same time. Sugoroku wasn’t sure. He had never asked. What would he have said? Seto had tried to kill him for the card. It wasn’t an easy subject to broach. It seemed too personal, and Seto had never been an easy person to get close to.

But… Seto was no longer that lost child who had violently crashed into Sugoroku’s life some five years earlier. He had changed and matured… and there was no doubt that Yami had been a big part of that. They were good for each other. Sugoroku had meant it when he had told Yami that they complimented each other well.

He had been mulling over the card long enough to attract Rebecca’s attention, and her eyes widened when she saw what it was that he was staring at. "That’s my grandpa’s Blue Eyes, isn’t it?"

Professor Hopkins looked over upon hearing her words, and smiled. "Was my Blue Eyes, yes."

"I was just thinking…" and Sugoroku looked up at Seto, resolutely standing his ground before Siegfried, "maybe it’s time for this dragon to return home."

Rebecca looked hopeful for a moment, apparently thinking that Sugoroku was going to return the card to her grandfather, but as she followed his gaze, she realized that wasn’t what he meant. "What do you mean? That’s not its home. And he already has three of them…"

"And this card’s not playable anyway, I know," Sugoroku answered, sighing. "But, it belongs to him. I’m sure of it."

"If you don’t want it anymore, give it to Yugi. Or to me. I’d keep it safe. I won’t let anyone damage it ever again," Rebecca said with a pout.

"But that was years ago, and Kaiba’s changed a lot. He wouldn’t do that again," Yugi told her, leaning across Anzu a little to insert himself into the conversation.

Rebecca had never heard the story of how the card had been damaged in the first place. But she was smart enough to figure out what Yugi was implying. And it shocked her to hear that her grandfather’s dear friend was planning on handing the most desirable card in the game to the man who had torn it in half in the first place. It was just too much… was the old man insane? "Kaiba? Kaiba did it? Then… why would you want to give it to him of all people?! He definitely doesn’t deserve it. He’d just tear it up again!"

"He won’t," Yugi said with conviction.

"It probably should go to you, Yugi," Sugoroku told his grandson, "but that doesn’t seem right."

"No, I agree with you, Jii-chan. Even if you did want me to have it, I don’t think I could keep it after all we’ve been through. It’s more than just a card… Maybe it has been Kaiba’s dragon all along."

"It isn’t! It was Grandpa’s. It should be mine if you don’t want it, Yugi!"

"Rebecca, what on Earth would you do with it?" Professor Hopkins asked.

"Well, I certainly wouldn’t tear it up!" Rebecca huffed. "And you know I collect dragons, Grandpa!"

Yugi looked up at Seto thoughtfully, then glanced at Yami. Either his other half was ignoring their conversation, or he was too caught up in Seto’s duel to notice it. Seeing the intensity in those crimson eyes and the set of his jaw, he guessed it was the latter. And that reminded him…

He reached in his pocket and pulled out a familiar, well-used card from his own deck – the Dark Magician. He had tried to give it to Yami when he had first moved out, but the former Pharaoh had refused to take it, telling Yugi to keep it for the both of them. And so he had. But Yugi was reconsidering the wisdom of that now. After all, Anzu wasn’t the one who had the Dark Magician tattooed on her shoulder…

"He’d never admit to it, but his heart is in that card. I don’t know how else to explain it to you," Yugi finally said, though he wasn’t sure if he was speaking of Yami, or Seto, or both.

"Oh, come on, that’s a crock," Rebecca hissed, still determined to have her way.

The conversation had been going on long enough now that Anzu and Jou had to jump in with their opinions as well. Anzu went first, saying, "No, it’s true. There’s a bond between a duelist and their deck. You can’t just ignore that." But Rebecca rolled her eyes at the older girl because she wasn’t a duelist, so why was she saying anything?

Jou added, "As weird as this sounds, I agree wit’ ya, Yug. Five years ago, or even three years ago… I’d have said no way, don’t do it man. No way does Kaiba deserve that card, not even for a million bucks. After all, he tried to kill us over it. And he’s the one that tore it up…" He paused, as if he’d just caught wind of what he was saying, then shrugged it off. "I mean, even I can see how he is with Yami, and… meh, mebbe I’ve gone soft. But I know those dragons mean about as much to Kaiba as anything ever has. And ya can’t deny that. You know that counts fer a lot comin’ from me, Rebecca, ‘cuz Kaiba and I have never been buddies."

Rebecca did know that much at least. And she was genuinely surprised that Jounouichi had stepped up in Seto’s defense… surprised enough to let the matter drop, at least for the moment. There was no winning when it was one opinion against many. But after hearing all that had been said, she was even more sure… Seto didn’t deserve it.

Sugoroku just smiled at Jou in approval as the match continued on. Siegfried was sacrificing Valkyries Zweite and Erste to summon Valkyrie Brunhilde in defense mode.

Forced by Nibelung’s Ring to discard his Cave Dragon, Seto countered by attacking with his one remaining Blue Eyes, but by giving up 1000 defense points, Valkyrie Brunhilde remained on the field. After setting one card face down, Seto ended his turn.

Siegfried switched Brunhilde to attack mode, which activated her special ability, raising her attack power by 300, then played Enchanted Sword Nothung, which instantly removed Seto’s dragon from play while boosting Brunhilde’s attack by 400 points. Then, with his Fortune Chariot in the graveyard, he was able to play the magic card Pegasus Wings, which allowed Brunhilde to attack Seto’s life points directly, though at half strength for the turn. Seto’s Shrink trap card mitigated even more damage, but by the end of the turn, the brunette was down to just 550 life points.

"To think, by the end of my next turn, I will finally have my revenge on you!" Siegfried yelled across the field in glee.

"What the hell are you babbling about?" Seto asked, his voice clipped.

"You know full well what I am referring to, Herr Kaiba. Your father stole the military contract that my father spent years negotiating for. It destroyed my father… and our family’s business. Ever since then, I have thought of nothing but revenge. When I heard that Kaiba Corp. had entered the gaming business, Schroider Corp. followed. I was certain I could come up with a new invention, a holographic duel system, that would revolutionize gaming and bring me the success I deserved! But on the morning I was scheduled to present my invention to Industrial Illusions, my flight was delayed, and you took advantage of that delay to present your prototype to Herr Crawford, thus stealing the contract from me!" He paused in his rant to consider the cards on the field. "How appropriate then that my Pegasus Wings will be the instrument of your destruction, for once you lose, I wouldn’t be surprised if Herr Crawford reconsiders the wisdom of allying with a company such as yours."

"Considering that you’ve just been revealed as a bitter, vengeful hacker with no regard for the well-being of others, I sincerely doubt you’ll be hearing from Pegasus anytime soon," Seto told his adversary, throwing a sideways glance at the CEO of Industrial Illusions for good measure. Pegasus inclined his head at him, but did not join in the debate. "Besides, what happened in the past between your father and Gozaburo Kaiba has nothing to do with me. I’m not Gozaburo. So get over it." He drew two cards, then said, "Enough talk. I believe we were in the middle of a duel. So I play Graceful Charity, which allows me to draw three more cards as long as I discard two from my hand, removing them from play. So I will discard my Blue Eyes, as well as this trap card…"

"You are discarding a Blue Eyes? But why?" Siegfried asked, shocked.

"Because by removing both a light and dark dragon from play, I can special summon this. Come forth, Chaos Emperor Dragon!"

Siegfried’s eyes widened momentarily at the monster’s 3000 attack points, but then he laughed. "So what? It doesn’t matter. My Enchanted Sword Nothung removes all dragons from play."

"Chaos Emperor Dragon’s special ability allows him to remove all cards from our hands and the field and sends them straight to the card graveyard. Plus, you’ll take 300 points of damage per card that is destroyed."

"Ah, but even so, you cannot afford the 1000 life points to do such a thing!"

"There’s nothing I can’t afford. I’ll place this card face down, then I’ll use Emergency Provisions, which destroys my trap card but in return, gives me 1000 life points. Now Chaos Emperor Dragon, destroy everything in your path!"

With the field wiped clean, Siegfried angrily drew once again. "A minor setback. Because now I play Pot of Greed," and he drew two more cards, "and then this, Magical Alms! Not only does it increase my life points by 1000, it also allows both of us to gain 500 life points for each magic card we predict we’ll play. But guess wrong, and you lose 1000 life points for each card fewer than that which you predict. For my turn, I predict I will use one magic card – Final Light! It allows me to summon one light monster at the cost of 1000 life points, and I choose Valkyrie Brunhilde! Oh, and it allows you to summon a monster from your graveyard as well, as long as it has 2000 attack or less."

Seto grunted, selecting Cave Dragon, which was swiftly destroyed by Brunhilde, knocking Seto’s life points down to 950.

"Now you must predict how many magic cards you will use. But you have less than 1000 life points; you cannot afford to guess wrong!"

Seto drew, then boldly announced, "Then, I will use four magic cards this turn." The spectators all gasped, but Seto barely noticed them. He could feel his cards beneath his fingers, urging him on, and Yami’s mounting excitement at the thought of him pulling off this feat. It would take a perfect draw; he couldn’t afford anything else.

"What?" Siegfried guffawed. Surely his opponent had finally cracked under the strain of the duel! He was only holding one card at the moment… he couldn’t possibly play four in a single turn!

"First, I play this, Card of Demise. It allows me to draw five cards as long as I discard my entire hand in five turns, not that you’ll survive that long. Next, I play Soul Release, which allows me to select up to five cards from our graveyard, and remove them from the game. I will chose Chaos Emperor Dragon for that fate. Then I play Spell Reproduction, which allows me to bring a magic card back from the graveyard, as long as I discard two first. So I elect to bring back Dimension Fusion, which, at the cost of 2000 life points, allows us to bring back the monsters which have been removed from the game."

"No, not that!" Siegfriend shrieked, but nothing could stop Chaos Emperor Dragon, Luster Dragon #2, and all three Blue Eyes White Dragons from returning to the field. The crowd went wild at the sight of five dragons being summoned in a single move.

"Luster Dragon #2, attack his Valkyrie!" Seto ordered. But with Brunhilde at 3300 attack points, the dragon was destroyed, and Seto’s life points dropped to a precarious 50 points.

"What was that for? Are you crazy?" Siegfried taunted, so focused on Seto’s pittance of life points that he barely registered that his Valkyrie Brunhilde had dropped to 3000 attack points with the destruction of Luster Dragon #2.

Seto ignored him, focusing instead on the dragon before him, and the way Yami’s eyes were now skimming over his body. "Chaos Emperor Dragon, attack!"

As both monsters had the same amount of attack points, they both should have been destroyed in combat, but Brunhilde remained on the field after giving up 1000 defense points, dropping her stats to 2700 attack and 1000 defense.

With just the three Blue Eyes White Dragons now left on his side of the field, Seto took a moment to savor his impending victory, framed within the beating wings of his mighty beasts. He hadn’t planned on dueling in this tournament. He hadn’t planned on dueling competitively again at all. And yet, he had brought his deck with him to America. And he had redone the holograms for the BEWDs as well, though he thought they’d never see battle publicly, though at the time he hadn’t had a moment to spare. He was glad that he had managed to find the time though, because it granted him a memory like this.

His holograms of the Blue Eyes had always been magnificent by most people’s standards… majestic and powerful, but they had felt wanting to him, being beautiful physically, but empty on the inside. He had wanted to give them a spark of life. It was the least he could do to acknowledge that they had always been real to him.

The resulting trio of dragons were now bigger than ever, jostling for space on the dueling field, and really almost seemed to be alive, each with its own distinct personality. One seemed playful, like an overgrown dog with monstrously large teeth, occasionally nipping at its siblings. Another bellowed its challenge to the world, electricity arcing between its open jaws, its neck arched, its chest puffed in pride. And the one in the middle soared above its two comrades, mighty wings outstretched as if it were straining to escape to the skies above.

Exhilarated as he was at the sight, he couldn’t help but notice that he had left a space for the fourth dragon, though he was keenly aware that the spot would never be filled. He figured he deserved to live with that knowledge though. Even if he had the card, he had damaged it himself, and that was something he couldn’t undo, no matter what.

Shaking his head, he steeled himself and looked Siegfried straight in the eye. He didn’t know why that was bothering him now. There was a duel to be won. It would have to suffice, since he couldn’t have what he really wanted. "Blue Eyes, attack his Valkyrie Brunhilde!"

Valkyrie Brunhilde’s shield splintered as her defense dropped down to zero, and for the first time, there was defeat in Siegfried’s eyes. He knew what was coming…

Seto’s second dragon destroyed Brunhilde, leaving Siegfried wide open for direct attack.

"Auf wiedersehen," Seto said smugly, feeling his heart racing in time with his lover’s as the third dragon surged forward to attack, wiping out the remainder of Siegfried’s life points.

Stunned, the German dropped to his knees, his cards scattering around him like fallen leaves, while Seto laughed triumphantly in victory. He’d just been utterly humiliated… but it wasn’t over yet! He looked over at the celebration taking place in the reserved seating section, and took satisfaction in the fact that not all his trap cards had been revealed quite yet…

Throughout the stadium and all around the world, Duel Monsters fans erupted into frenzied cheering at the tremendous duel they had just witnessed. With his win, Seto had managed to turn the tide of public opinion in his favor once more. Now everyone knew that Seto was the superior duelist. Now everyone knew that Siegfried was responsible for the problems with the rides the day before. Now Seto would be able to count the tournament and the opening of the theme park as successes.

Grinning broadly at his own victory, Seto jumped off the dueling platform and quickly headed for the exit, disappearing backstage as the crowd began chanting his name. He had an itch to scratch, and not much time to do it. There was still one more duel left before the tournament was over…

Yami must’ve felt the same, because he suddenly appeared in the hallway beside his boyfriend, a glint in his eye. Noa had once said that dueling was like foreplay for them… well, he hadn’t been too far off the truth…

Moments later, Mokuba and Noa ran up to join the pair, gleefully congratulating their big brother on his win. They were as excited as could be. "That was the greatest thing ever!" Mokuba enthused.

"You really showed that ass who’s boss!" Noa added.

Seto smiled in acknowledgement, then turned as he heard Isono calling to him from the doorway. "What is it?"

"Mr. Kaiba, what should we do with Mr. von Schroider?"

"Who cares? He can’t do anything now… in fact, let him stay. I wouldn’t want to be a bad host, now would I?"

"What you really mean is, you want to rub your win in his face," Noa muttered, but he approved of that. Siegfried deserved to be miserable after all the damage he’d done.

Seto just smirked. "Isono, announce that the championship duel will take place in half an hour at the Blue Eyes Fortress. That should give the crowd enough time to get there with a minimum of downtime. As for me, I have… some business to attend to." He slipped his arm around Yami’s waist as the ex-spirit laughed, his crimson eyes glittering with anticipation.

"Uh… yes sir…" Isono stammered, his face red. He’d had too much exposure to his boss’ bedroom habits to pretend that he didn’t know the real reason for the delay. But at least he now had an excuse to disappear into the relative safety of the frenzied stadium.

"Well, I guess we’ll go and get things set up. Just um, try not to take too long, okay?" Mokuba told Seto. Noa tittered beside him.

"I don’t know what you’re talking about," Seto said, even as he grabbed Yami’s hand and then ducked into a dressing room, the door clicking shut behind them.

Watching the two disappear, all Noa could say was, "Are these dressing rooms soundproofed?" before he ran off, laughing at the look on his boyfriend’s face. But he didn’t really care either way. He’d be celebrating too if he were in their shoes.

* * *

The dressing room was pretty minimally furnished, with a few dressing tables and a neat stack of folding chairs in a rack in the corner. Certainly there was nothing large enough to be used as a bed, but Seto wasn’t put off. He led Yami towards the far corner, where there was a three way mirror positioned around a raised, carpeted platform. It would do.

Dumping his coat and briefcase on the floor and kicking off his shoes, Seto fought to remove his trousers and boxers, almost tripping over them in his hurry. He pulled his shirt up just enough so that it would be out of the way and told his boyfriend, "Let’s make this quick. We don’t have much time." Then he leaned over and shoved his tongue down Yami’s throat.

The former Pharaoh couldn’t help but laugh into his lover’s mouth. But he didn’t really object. They were both horny as hell thanks to the duel. And the tournament was still going on… he had to be there to give Yugi his support, though at the moment, that thought barely registered in his mind.

"Quick. Yes," he managed to pant as Seto gave him a second to come up for air, then all of a sudden they were on the floor, Seto’s hands all over him, pinching his nipples, tickling their way down the inside of one thigh to encircle his cock, stroking and cupping his ass, forcing him to roll over to push that same ass high up in the air…

An open packet of lube fell to the ground right beside Yami’s face, startling him enough to ground him for a moment. How the hell had his shirt ended up wrapped around his forearms? Where the hell did his pants go? And why was he wondering about that when Seto’s fingers were now working their way inside him?

With a low moan, Yami pushed back, trying to take more of Seto’s long fingers into himself, but the brunette insistently held him still with one hand while moving the other at a frantic pace. Then just as quickly he withdrew his fingers, slapping Yami on the rear with a sticky hand. "Come on, you can get your ass up higher than that."

"Fuck you," Yami said lightly even as he strove to comply. He could see Seto’s eyes glimmering like blue diamonds at the sight, and it made him glad that they had all those mirrors surrounding them, so he could watch his lover watching him.

"Nice, very nice," Seto growled when it was clear Yami wasn’t going to be able to hold himself upany higher. He bounced the head of his dick against Yami’s opening, liking the wet, gummy sound that it made, then with a feral snarl, pushed in impatiently, trembling as he felt the muscles ringing Yami’s entrance straining to accompany him, a sensation that was echoed in his own body.

Yami let out a loud cry, his eyes sliding shut. It burned as Seto forced himself all the way in, like a sword seeking its sheath, but… it felt good too, in a way. It was how he imagined the attack of the Chaos Emperor Dragon to be, laying waste to the dueling field with flames that consumed everything in sight. It was how he felt now, his body feeling impossibly hot, his mind clouded with desire like the way that smoke rose from the fire to obscure everything around it.

One of Seto’s hands tangled in Yami’s hair, forcing his head against the ground, the thin industrial carpet chafing against his cheek and forehead. The other grasped at his waist, trying to lift him up even more. Yami’s knees shook as he was forced onto his toes, his legs splayed wide, his dick begging for contact, having nothing but air brushing past it. But he couldn’t untangle his hands from the position he was in or he’d fall and probably pull Seto down with him. As it was, Seto was ramming into Yami’s slicked passage so hard and fast now that he was practically lifting his boyfriend off the ground with each thrust, only to be thwarted by gravity and the positioning of his own body. He couldn’t possible keep it up. Something had to give, and soon.

Nearly whimpering from frustration and from the glorious feel of Seto’s engorged shaft filling him and Seto's possessive grasp on his hips, Yami managed to lift his chin and turn his head just enough so that he could get a good look at their reflections as his lover’s urgent strokes grew shorter and more frantic. Seto’s sweat-dampened hair hung in his eyes, which were closed down to mere slits, as if he could barely keep them open, but couldn’t bear to close them either in fear of missing something good. His cries grew hoarse and his chest heaved from his efforts; his skin clung to his bunching abdominal muscles like a wet shirt… Then suddenly, the taller duelist’s entire body went rigid, as if he’d been struck by his own BEWDs’ White Lightning Attack. With a roar and a series of quick jerks, he filled Yami’s orifice with all that he had, grunting with satisfaction at the sense of contentment that was left behind.

For a moment, Yami wondered if Seto was just going leave him hanging, unsatisfied, but then Seto grasped him around his waist and hoisted him up so that he was awkwardly sitting on his lover’s lap, Seto’s softening length still in him, his legs sprawled apart. Seto took his arms and hooked them around the back of his neck, leaving him totally exposed before the mirrors before finally wrapping his hand around Yami’s cock.

"You’re the most fuckable, sexiest beast I’ve ever seen," Seto murmured, admiring the multiple reflections that gave him a great view of his lover’s taut body from every possible angle.

"Mmmrgh," Yami responded mindlessly as Seto inserted the tip of his tongue in Yami’s ear, his hand getting down to business, pumping hard and fast, foregoing technique for speed and friction.

Yami couldn’t think straight, consumed as he was by the sensations assaulting him, overriding any other comeback he might have made to Seto’s comment. He groaned at the way Seto’s dick still twitched inside him, at the cool wetness sticking to the insides of his legs. It felt so good, contradictory in that it was achingly familiar and new at the same time. Seto’s desire flowed into him, mingling with his own to form a potent concoction, hot and sinfully sweet, like honey. He wanted it to go on forever, but…

Struggling one last time in a futile attempt to escape the inevitable, Yami came with a violent jerk of his hips, biting down on his lip at the intensity of it. Seto continued to stroke him with vigor, splattering dewy drops of cum onto his hand and across the carpet, even tagging the middle mirror.

When it was finally over… when the two of them sat bonelessly curled together on the floor, their bodies sticking together a little, Seto finally released Yami from his tight hold, then listed to the side in exhaustion. The duel and the promise of celebratory sex had made him forget just how tired he was, despite the few hours of sleep he’d gotten during the night. But he was starting to feel it now.

"I suppose we better get dressed," Yami sighed as soon as he found his voice, untangling his arms from his shirt to pull it back on. He grabbed a towel from the briefcase to clean up with, then tossed it to Seto when he was done.

"Well…" Seto glanced at his watch. "Shit, how’d we take up so much time?"

Yami looked over at the timepiece. "We still have almost 20 minutes to get there."

"Yeah, and we’re half naked, and it’s a 10 minute walk away." Yami stared at him, pursing his lips. "Now, don’t look at me like that. We won’t be late, I swear. We can take one of the electric cars to get there a bit quicker, okay?" Seto stood up a bit unsteadily and began hunting for the rest of his clothing.

Seto… are you going to be okay? Yami asked as the young CEO swayed a little.

Why wouldn’t I be?

Yami began to protest. Baby…

I’ll be fine, he insisted. There’s just Yugi’s duel, and after that…

Mokuba’s birthday party this evening, the crimson-eyed man reminded him, his countenance growing stormy.

Shit, um… "Yeah." Yami was still eyeing him, shaking his head a little in disapproval. "We don’t really have time to argue about this, not if you want to make it to Yugi’s match before it starts."

"Then you should consider restoring the link we had going yesterday. I don’t understand why you stopped it, and why you sent me home. It won’t hurt…"

"No, Yami…" Seto shut his eyes. Yami would be so pissed if he slept through Yugi’s entire duel. And he still wasn’t convinced that it wasn’t harmful in some way. He wasn’t willing to risk anything happening to Yami ever again. "Look, I’ll survive. It’s only for a little longer."


"Please, Yami… don’t do this." He checked his watch again, emphasizing the fact that time was continuing to tick by as they argued. "Yugi’s going to be disappointed if you’re a no-show."

"As will Mokuba, if you’re too exhausted to attend his party."

"That won’t happen. But if you want to keep wasting time, fine, we can sit here and argue." And Seto stubbornly sat down, not bothering to finish fastening his pants.

Of all the stubborn, infuriating… "We’re going to talk about this later."

"Maybe…" He put his hands behind his head. "Hey, he’s your aibou, not mine."

"Fucking hell, Seto!"

The brunette smirked, feeling pleased that he had the upper hand, but Yami turned around after a moment and gathered up the rest of his clothes in a huff, clearly unwilling to concede defeat even though he was being forced to give up the immediate battle.

Oh well, Seto supposed he could live with a stalemate – after all, he didn’t really want Yami to be mad at him. And it’d be bad manners for him to not make an appearance at the last duel of the tournament. So he slowly stood up and began gathering up his stuff as well, pausing to stretch in order to hide the fact that his vision was blurring, ignoring the weakness in his legs as he followed Yami out of the room.

Seto told himself that it didn’t matter, that he wasn’t that tired anyway. And he figured if he told himself that enough, his body would come to believe it… But just in case, he made sure he took a hold of Yami’s hand once he had caught up to him; no point in walking alone when there was the extremely remote possibility that his legs might just give out under him.

Yami gave him a questioning look, but didn’t pull away. A stalemate was fine with him, too. Yugi was waiting. There’d be time enough later on to continue with the discussion.

* * *


Author’s Notes:

March 22, 2007