What Doesn’t Kill You
Chapter 27: Adrift – Part 1/13
A Yu-Gi-Oh Fanfiction
By: Azurite – azurite AT seventh-star DOT net
Site: seventh-star DOT net
Conceptualized/First Written: 6/28/05
Completed/Final Edit: 8/6/16
A note on Duel Monsters cards: For the most part, I’ve kept to the dub card names, effects, and attacks. I’ve only ever changed them when the dub/TCG name was just plain stupid (looking at you, Dark Hole). Spell Cards are Magic Cards, though in the past, I may have used both terms. I capitalized some dueling terms on purpose, e.g. Battle Position and Life Points. Hope it doesn’t bug anyone.
Like last chapter, I use some of the original Japanese conventions, e.g. Doma instead of “Doom,” etc.
Téa couldn’t remember the name of the song. The words “topsy-turvy” kept floating in and out of her head, from her left ear to her right and back again.
Swish-swoosh, top-sy tur-vy.
Everything tilted side to side. She was in a garden of endless green. It was a sick sort of black-green color that could have swallowed Téa whole if she let it. She stumbled and tilted in just the right way, weaving among the melting gray statues of people within. Through and past, just missing some woman with a slipping face and some fat man with a flute of cement champagne in his gooey sausage fingers.
Suddenly she was in a maze of bushes, and while didn’t feel so crooked anymore, Téa still ran. She knew something was after her, loping and purposeful, wanting only her. What it wanted with her, Téa didn’t know, but she knew she couldn’t let it catch her. She wasn’t some pretty bird destined for caging.
So she ran.
An oppressive black fog slithered after her. It leaked through the leaves and seeped through the soil. It would surround her, tie her up and gag her until she was silent forever. Téa dashed and danced ahead of it. She always found a path that wound around another corner and deeper into the labyrinth. As she rounded another hedge, she caught sight of a something bright and shiny. Téa approached it on steady feet. Then something in the air changed: a static electricity, a pulse, a wave or a wisp of clarity. Whatever it was, it blew the oppressive fog out of the way.
This was a dream. Téa knew that much. She knew she couldn’t wake up until she escaped the fog, until she was safe from its–‘his?’–chokehold and she bathed in the light.
Finally, Téa rounded one last corner and saw a brilliant blue-gold-green-silver-white light. It filled the whole pathway ahead of her. The fog couldn’t come close. She was safe now. She reached out for the light…
…and with a tumble fell right out of her bed. Téa saw shapes that weren’t quite stars dancing in and out of her line of sight. But the brilliance of her dream-light was still so bright that she couldn’t focus enough to tell what they were. When her vision finally cleared, her other senses kicked in. Her mouth and throat protested a shocking dryness, while her ears rang with a shrill whine. The topsy-turviness of the boat seemed to have ceased, but Téa had yet to find her sea legs. She stumbled and tripped on her way to the suite bathroom.
Once there, she closed the small door and turned on the single fluorescent light. Téa found a small comfort in its dull buzz. After a few moments, she pushed herself away from the door and toward the tiny sink area. She splashed cold water from the pump faucet onto her face. The reflection she saw in the mirror didn’t appear her own. The girl that looked back at her had red rings around her eyes. She looked gaunt, her cheekbones appearing to stick out thanks to the the shadows under them. Had that curly-haired girl’s comments gotten to her so much?
“You’re the little air-headed cheerleader who’s always hanging around Yugi Moto and Joey Wheeler, like some kind of leech trying to suck off their fame.”
Up until now, Téa Gardner’s adventures with her friends had always been willing. So she hadn’t known what she was getting herself into when she went to Duelist Kingdom. Or when she tagged along during Battle City. She thought that Seto dropped his rivalry with Yugi, so when Seto challenged him to a rematch, she had no idea why. She only realized what that chain of events meant when Anubis was seconds away from killing them all.
Then, someone stole the God cards and another adventure loomed on the horizon. But she’d opted out. She’d planned for this longer, wanted it for longer…wanted it for herself, for once.
‘It’s not selfish to do something for myself every once in a while, right? But…I am doing this for them, too. To get them to finally see me as more than just some “cheerleader.”‘
The curly-haired duelist was somewhat right. Her friends might not be gossips who thought she was just a pretty face with no Duel Monsters know-how. But they definitely took her for granted. It had taken years for the realization to sink in, and it shocked Téa’s system.
“And on top of that, the newspapers are calling you Seto Kaiba’s girlfriend? They should get their stories straight—you’re probably nothing more than a cheap accessory to him, if that.”
It took her years to realize that her best friend was taking her for granted. How long would it be before she realized something just as painful about Seto? Hadn’t they already been through enough heartache? Téa didn’t think she could take any more heartache. Lies, the mistrust, the almost-everything but always-nothing imbalance of their relationship…it all added up.
‘I need to call him.’
Téa flicked off the bathroom light and opened the door. She marched straight to the small bag where she’d stowed her cell phone and retrieved it with a swift yank. Her fingers were millimeters away from the button for sending a message to ‘SETO CELL PVT.’ This was the guy that had kissed her in front of a crowd of thousands, including all her best guy friends. And probably just to show off! This was the guy that had shoved fifteen cards into her hands for who-knows-what-reason. It didn’t matter what she and Mai had theorized earlier. She wanted to hear the answer from his own lips: Why did you give me these cards?
“Ugh, what are you doing up, Téa?” Mai mumbled from her bed, smacking her lips together. She reached up to adjust her sleeping mask, but it caught in her hair and stayed there, while Mai’s arm flopped back to the bed.
“Calling Seto,” Téa replied. She exited out of the messaging screen and immediately tried to call him. She had full signal strength, but the phone just clicked and went silent when she tried to call. She tried his other lines: the work line, the car line, the house line. Nothing. She tried messaging again, sending the simple message “Call me now,” but minutes went by and there was no reply. The message appeared to have gone through. It sat there in her Sent folder, but there was no indicator that she was receiving –should have received– a message or not.
“Argh! Why isn’t this working? Do I have signal strength or don’t I?”
“We’re in the middle of the open ocean, Téa. Try the boat’s line. I think it’s a satellite phone.” Téa picked up the phone on the nightstand between their beds and dialed again.
“Didn’t know you couldn’t go a single night without exchanging mushy ‘goodnights’ with your lover-boy. Yeesh,” Mai grumbled.
Téa shot Mai an irritated glance before turning back to the phone. She got the same click-silence as before. She set the phone on the base and then tried all the numbers for Seto she knew. Now all the numbers for the Turtle Game Shop. Joey’s cell. Malik’s line at the museum. All produced the same result: nothing.
“Come on, Téa, what’s the deal here? Kaiba’s a big boy now. You don’t need to check up on him.”
Téa put the phone back on the cradle and sighed. “I wasn’t checking up on him,” she said, but part of her knew that was a lie. It wasn’t as if she could ask to cuddle up with Mai because she felt a cold loneliness creeping in after that weird dream.
“I was calling him to find out what the heck is up with him giving me these cards,” Téa said, pointing at the deck box on the end table.
Mai lifted her head from her pillows and glared at Téa. “I thought we went over this. You aren’t just feeding me a line, right? You’re forgetting we’re not in this tournament to be clinging to the boys and giving them hourly updates!”
“No,” Téa agreed as she bobbed her head once, her voice a whisper.
“Damn right!” Mai said, sitting up now. “We’re here for ourselves, and we’re here to win!”
Téa forced a smile onto her lips, but she couldn’t help glance at her cell phone screen, dimmed to dark.
‘Why hasn’t Seto called me?’