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Series are multiple stories that go together; the order they are listed in on the tables of contents and directory pages are their chronological orders within the universe, not the order they were written or posted in. A tilde (~) denotes an original fiction series, while an abbreviation such as HP denotes a fanfiction series.

Yu-Gi-Oh Fanfiction: Destiny

TITLE: Destiny
CHAPTER: 1 – Oneshot
AUTHOR: Lythande ( setosgirl0 / neferseti0 / Ankh Ascendant )
DATE: 5-25-11
FANDOM: Yu-Gi-Oh
DISCLAIMER: I don’t own YGO, or make any money from it.
PAIRINGS: none
TYPE: angst
RATING: PG
WARNINGS: character death
OCs: none
BETA: none
WORDS: 1617
SUMMARY: Atem is about to sacrifice himself for the kingdom, and Seth would do anything to stop him.
NOTES: Requested by my friend Silver. Fits the writing prompt of “Goodbye”.

* * *

Destiny

“Unhand me, Seth.”

The Pharaoh’s voice was gentle, laced with understanding, even sympathy. He would rather have heard anger – anger he could have argued with, and brash emotion he could have bested with reason or manipulated with his own. The calm determination was terrible.

But he only reinforced his grip on the smaller man’s arm. In normal times it would have been a grave offense to lay hand on the king’s holy person… but in normal times this conversation would never have been necessary, or even thinkable. “Not until you return to your senses.”

“I swear that I am in full control of my faculties.” He looked up patiently, and his ruddy gaze levelly met his eyes. He looked the worse for wear; his young face was careworn, lined with the inhuman stress of the last several days spent under pressures no king or man before had ever had to bear, or should ever have had to. He was weary from the constant fighting, and heartsick from watching his land, his people, and his friends die, and it showed… yet he bore it, and he still had the strength to carry on.

Seth’s resolve strengthened under the calm, weary gaze. “I doubt it,” he lied, though he almost wished he believed it. “You have been influenced – this is a delusion given you by the darkness, to remove its only obstacle. If you do as you suggest, you will be playing into its hands… You will doom us.” His words gained strength as he carried on. With enough intensity he could fool even himself, and he would dissuade him…

But the Pharaoh only shook his head. “No, Seth. This does not come from the Enemy, but the gods. This will destroy them… It is the only thing that will destroy them.”

Still that terrible calm acceptance. The simple certainty in his voice was too convincing; Seth did not want to believe him.

“It’s a desperate act.”

“Of course it is.” His eyes turned out over the ruins of the city, deserted but for them and prowling evil, and whatever victims of the darkness were unlucky enough not to have been killed yet. It was shrouded in unnatural darkness deeper than the night itself, and little of the once-proud city could be seen… but maybe it was the darkness itself he was looking at. “Any acts now are only desperation. Even this stubborn argument.” Eyes still on the darkness, he reached up and squeezed the hand that still held his opposite arm.

For a moment, Seth resented the implication, but he realized soon that it was true. As desperate as the Pharaoh was to stop the darkness, he was as desperate to keep him alive. Yet, if his words were true, there was no way to have both…

No, that was not true. Looking down at the angular profile of his face in the darkness, he embraced his own desperation.

“Then let another perform the sacrifice.”

The Pharaoh looked up at him; for a moment his gaze was sharp, but it softened. “And by ‘another’, you mean you.” Seth didn’t answer him, and did not deny it, but met his gaze unblinking. From some deep reserves, the king actually managed to summon a smile, weak and sad though it was. “I appreciate the offer, more than I can say…” His voice trailed off and he looked away for a second. “I don’t know what I would say if I could accept it, but it doesn’t matter… I don’t have that choice to make. It must be me.”

His hand tightened convulsively on the arm he held. He saw the Pharaoh wince slightly and fought with himself to loosen the grip, though he found it hard and couldn’t let go of him. “It cannot be you.”

“It must be.” He looked up again and met his eyes patiently. “Seth-”

“No.” He overrode him and stared into his eyes, willing the intensity of his denial to bridge the space between them and affect the fabric of reality. “After Mahaado’s sacrifice… Aknaudin is lost… Shadi is gone, and Karim… Ishizu… Shimon… even Mana.” The pain in the king’s face mirrored the clenching of his own heart, but he forced himself to dig at the raw wounds. The friends they had so recently lost would succeed where all else failed. “They all died for you – to protect you. If you die now there is nothing left!”

“There is you.”

He did not answer. For a long moment their eyes met in silence, until the Pharaoh calmly looked at the hand holding him and gently removed it from his arm. He forced himself to let him this time.

“They didn’t die for me, Seth, or at least, not only for me. They gave their lives for Khemet, as I am going to do. And, when I die…” the slight emphasis on the ‘when’ made Seth’s hands clench into fists at his sides as their eyes met again, “you must live for it.”

“This is cruel…”

The king had to pull him down into reach, but he laid a kiss on his brow. “Setekhsi, son of my father’s brother, you are my heir… When I am gone you will be king and carry on.”

“I never wanted it… Whatever Aknaudin said, I never coveted what was yours. You are king; I would be happy to serve you for a thousand years.”

“I know.” He gave him another faint smile. “You will be giving your life in another way. And, if it makes you feel better, I know you will be a good king.”

Seth closed his eyes and bit back more argument. He was planning his own death and still he was here trying to reassure his successor… He doubted he could ever be the kind of king he had been, but he knew he could never be as good a man.

“As you say,” he finally said quietly, and opened his eyes again to see him.

“Thank you, Seth.”

Silence fell, and the Pharaoh looked back out at the interminably dark city, as though his eyes were drawn to it. Whatever fascination he had for it, Seth could only look on the darkness with hatred. Such evil, to have taken so much from them and demand so much more yet before it could be defeated. If there were any other way, if he could have stopped it himself, even at the cost of his life…

“You will take care of them for me, won’t you, Seth…?”

He looked down, and in a second his king was looking up at him. For a moment he looked small, and young, and tired… His shoulders slumped under the weight of the times and his unthinkable decision. His calm acceptance seemed, for the moment, less like faith, and more like resignation. On impulse Seth wrapped his arm around his shoulders and pulled him close.

“Yes, I will take care of them. Do not worry about your people.”

The lithe body was momentarily tense and indecisive, but in a second he relaxed and leaned into him, allowing himself to accept the support. “Thank you.”

For a few minutes, he felt as though he could protect him, save him from this. He would have given anything to have been able. The cruelty was too much to stomach… But too soon the king stirred again to face his destiny.

“The sun is rising; I must go.”

Seth looked up; the black sky was as dark and featureless as it seemed it always had been, and there was no way to tell if Ra even still existed. Regardless, he reluctantly let his arm fall and released the Pharaoh, who turned to face him. “Give me the Rod.”

With a slow blink of consternation, he pulled it from his belt and handed it over. “I haven’t used it since I learned where they came from,” he said, wiping his hand on his tattered robe; he felt dirty just having touched it. He would have thrown it away days ago if that wouldn’t have simply handed it to their enemy.

“That is probably very wise…” He looked it over with only vague interest, then let it fall to his side. “I’ll take this; I don’t wish to kill you as well.”

“Atem…”

Their eyes met, and Atem was smiling a little again. “Seth, I want you to know that there is no one in whose hands I would rather leave the future… I can go to my fate in peace knowing that you will still be here. So, thank you.”

He could not bear to damage that peace with any more halfhearted arguments; he bowed his head slightly in acceptance and took a small step back to clear his way. He could not stand in his way, so he would support him as best he could, even if all that he could do for him was to fulfill his final requests… He sank onto one knee and looked up at his king.

“This is your land,” he said. “These are your people… I and all after me are only caretakers, here to watch over them in your stead.”

Atem looked down a little, his expression soft. Neither of them said anything more. As he began to pass Seth reached out and took his hand; for a moment they both squeezed in silence. Then Atem pulled away again and disappeared into the darkness.

Seth’s hand fell, and he remained in that position, looking pensively over the rubble. When the terrible night began to break apart and make way for the first dawn in a week, he bowed his head in silent grief.

~end~

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