Lessons LearnedMature

Teaching a Kaiba to be humble requires more tools than a normal man is equipped with in life, and Marik Ishtar decides to take on the job. Stake of the Duel? Seto's years of experience. So what happens when the Tombkeeper takes what he wants? [rated for language]

The evening wind blew tumultuously as both parties stepped out onto the proverbial stage to engage each other in battle. How dramatic. Ironically, both the famous Seto Kaiba and the less than honorable Marik Ishtar thought along the same lines. In Marik's corner stood Ryou Bakura, looking more sinister than usual, fingers idly tracing the contours of his Millennium Ring. In Seto's Corner were Yuugi and friends, Yuugi holding that same ruthlessness in his eyes as Ryou did. Above them were the moon and the stellar colors reflected from the Rainbow Bridge. There was no way that any Kaiba could hold a duel in a place that lacked notoriety. Using his word, as was the only thing necessary, he'd shut down the entire bridge for the night.

He thinks money is all there is in the world… Marik thought. Oh, he had been no fool when he had challenged Kaiba. He had known that he would win. Kaiba still didn't acknowledge the powers of the Millennium Items, and that underestimation would be his downfall. One couldn't always rely on machines. The world was a much more mysterious-and dangerous-place. He took a moment to glance at the Pharaoh. He was an issue that Marik would have to get to later.

Seto was trying to keep his fingernails from digging into his palms. He had not wanted any of these people here; he preferred to settle his scores without so many people about. If it was broadcast, fine; more publicity for him. However, there was a difference between people watching from their television sets and having Yuugi and his friends here. However, Yuugi would not take no for an answer. He had shown up without warning, saying that he'd had bad feelings about the duel and that Seto didn't know what he was up against. When Seto refused to cancel, he insisted upon being present. But Kaiba knew exactly what he was facing: Another fool from the tourney that believed that he was better than the CEO by comparison. It was never good to let antagonists exist in such a fashion-that was one of the harsh lessons he had learned from the old man Gozaburo. If you showed your enemies mercy it would only serve to forfeit your life later. They sought out each other and worked together to bring you down, and Seto didn't feel like seeing Marik's ugly face anywhere down the line. He would take care of this tonight and that would be the end of it. There would be no more Marik Ishtar. Just another nobody who had challenged Seto and lost. Further proof of this were the stakes of the duel. No cards up for grabs, no titles; Marik had simply said that Seto's penalty would be to "share his years of experience with him." Of course, Seto planned on doing no such thing. He was going to win.

The wind howling in all sets of ears, Seto shouted some sort of snide greeting to him, snapping his duel disk onto his arm and holding it at the ready. Marik had brought his, of course, and Ryou's eyes seemed to be staring at the street beneath their feet so hard he was trying to etch an arena for them. Yuugi shouted to be careful, and to be aware of Shadow magic or some other mumbo-jumbo, and Seto immediately dismissed the comment. Marik sneered at Seto, commanding Yuugi to silence himself and prattled on a bit about how disgraceful it was for a Pharaoh to be ordered about by a commoner. Kaiba wasn't there for the little game of pretend that they participated in on a daily basis. He just wanted to finish this duel and be done with it. Marik assumed that he had been weakened, that the reason why he hadn't been dueling publicly was because he was out of practice. That was not the case. Seto hadn't been dueling because he hadn't had a worthy opponent challenge him. In fact, the only reason why he was accepting this challenge was because of Marik's status a finalist in his own competition. If it had not been for that Marik's word would have been as useless as all the rest. Even despite his words, he still wasn't good enough to defeat the great Seto Kaiba.

Yuugi's eyes were on Bakura the entire time, as though he was expecting the white haired boy to do something drastic. Even Marik wouldn't have put it past him and the only reason why they even considered themselves allies was because they were both after the same thing-the downfall of the Pharaoh. Even after their defeats in the Battle City Tournament, their goals hadn't changed. Marik had been ridden of his darker half, the portion of him that lusted for power, and indeed, he no longer wanted the Pharaoh's own seat; but the fact of the matter was that he had been mistreated by his family in the name of the Pharaoh, and for that Yami had to pay. Marik shook his head, chuckling as he shouted his reply over the wind to Seto-he still even failed to recognize his true position in all of this. Without acknowledging the past, Seto would get nowhere. He had correctly guessed that Yami had attempted to deter Kaiba from dueling him. However, the CEO was so very headstrong that no one would stop him once a worthy challenge had been approved. If Marik remembered correctly, Seto had been defeated at his own tournament, even if it had been by the tainted soul of the Rod and Marik didn't count the victory as his own. He shrugged, and decided to make a jest about it before the duel began; stating that fair losses didn't count to a Kaiba because they could just erase it. Seto had scowled but said nothing else, allowing his duel disk to shuffle for him.

"No God Cards," Seto Kaiba had said, and Marik openly agreed. He had constructed his whole strategy without it. He wasn't after Kaiba's soul this time; there was no need to use something that powerful. He just wanted to humiliate the man, to show him that he wasn't the item on everyone's mind. To make it known that pretending not to care wasn't the same as actually not giving a damn and to wipe the smirk off of his face, because people who actually didn't give a rat's ass about others—himself, namely—would do much worse to him. He deserved it; he'd had it coming for a long time and even the Pharaoh wouldn't be able to dispute it. Bakura had insisted on the Shadow Realm for such a thing, but the Shadow Realm was a tool for thugs and muggers. Locking away a man's soul so that he couldn't defeat you directly. It was the same was knifing a man's shin before facing him in toe to toe combat. There was no honor in that, and Marik wanted a clean victory.

No, he had something much, much more fitting in mind.

Seto started off lucky; he'd drawn La Jinn in his hand and he played it with another face down, some throwaway monster in defense. It was obvious, and enough to lull Marik into a purposeful defense as well. It was a nice way to start-or it would have been, had Marik not destroyed it with Helpoemer. The boy took Seto on full-force, rarely bothering with defensive maneuvers. Just when Seto seemed to have him with a spell card he would draw "Non-Spellcasting Area"; When Seto had his strongest offense on the field the boy would toy with him by using the Guardian Sphinx, which not only allowed it to be put into Defensive mode before he attacked but also sent every single monster from Seto's side of the field back to his hand when it was summoned. There was a large gap between the egotistical, power hungry piece of shit that he had seen before in Battle City and the calm, maniacal boy that he was dueling now.

To make things worse, his coat was becoming a bit more uncomfortable; heavy. He shifted a bit, adjusted his coat and kept going. Things only got worse as they progressed; Seto barely got a Blue Eyes out in time enough to take care of Marik's Lava Golem, and that resulted in a stalemate. The boy had Kaiba on the ropes, and he was beginning to feel a bit stressed, particularly after Marik played Viser Des and combined it with Nightmare Wheel the next turn. The Lord of D that was currently on the field was taken control of and frozen in position for three turns. On two of those turns, because of that damned Wheel, he lost 500 lifepoints. If he hadn't been able to use Soul Absorption, never would have recovered those them. He was losing in the clash of monster on monster, although he was able to keep up with Marik's pattern of trick strategy. Even Seto had to admit, the boy had—

For the umpteenth time since the beginning of the duel, he scratched his shoulder. He didn't understand why his coat was bothering him so much tonight. The breeze of the evening was keeping him from sweating, that much was for sure, but he suddenly felt sluggish. He shrugged off his coat, sneering and trying not to appear bothered, but the truth of the matter was that his coat really had been getting on his nerves. Ugh. Removing it made him feel like had thrown twenty pounds off of his back, and he sighed in relief. The arm of his Duel Disk felt a little loose, so he tightened it a bit; that was better.

"Marik..." he heard Yuugi growl, and the Dog Wheeler and a few of the other watching seemed to be discussing something that was going on during the duel. Bakura's smile seemed to grow more feral, and at one point, he began to laugh. Marik, however, ignored Yuugi and continued to look at his hand. He was concentrating hard to beat him, it seemed. Seto would have to make things harder. When the rabble on the sides became more and more loud, Seto hissed at them to shut up. His voice broke when he spoke. He cleared his throat and repeated himself, but still sounded scratchy. Perhaps he was falling ill because of all the wind? But he pushed himself. He would get over it. The duel wasn't even half over right now and there was still a strong chance to recover. It seemed that luck was with him for a moment, as he made a sacrifice to bring out his Blue Eyes. Another one. Kaiba had already realized that he wasn't going to be able to summon the Ultimate Dragon and completely humiliate this fool, but getting two out of three at the same time were still good odds.

Marik was cackling on the inside. Kaiba still hadn't yet realized that he was transforming as he spoke. Marik drew a card for his turn and was disappointed, but not desolate. This had gone well, but not as flawless as he had been hoping. And so it had been this turn. Not the card he wanted to clean the Blue Eyes off of the field, but good enough. He placed two cards face down and ended his turn. Kaiba was on the ropes now, and he wanted this to be over. He rushed into an attack, and Marik took some damage-that was alright for now. But then he flipped his trap card, Compulsory Evacuation Device. Kaiba smirked. He wasn't done yet, and he flipped over a trap of his own, Dust Tornado. Marik swore; he had been planning to send the Dragon back into Kaiba's hand for now. But instead, he used a spell card, Monster Reborn, and brought back Kaiba's previous Blue Eyes. Stalemate, again; but Marik didn't attack. Instead he put a Monster in Defense Mode.

Kaiba took the bait. He would rather destroy a smaller monster and do some damage than come away from a Battle Phase with nothing at all. It was a Dark Jeroid; Kaiba was glad that the effects hadn't been used. But then Marik attacked his Blue Eyes and his side of the field was left naked enough for Marik to take advantage of it during his next turn. Seto hadn't drawn anything useful but trap cards, and while he had softened the blow with a Monster in Defense Mode, he had no choice but to admit that although Marik was only ahead on the field with a simple Newdoria, which Kaiba didn't want to destroy because of its effect. He was losing. And for the third time he was feeling uncomfortable in his clothes. He looked down at his arms, to adjust his sleeves, only to find that they were much larger than his arms.

"Kaiba!" Yuugi yelled-was it the wind, or did his voice sound deeper? "Forfeit this match now, and I can undo most of the damage!" What the hell was he talking about? But the glance at his arm had been more than what was needed to clue him in, and he began to feel his pants slipping off of his waist as well.

"What the fuck is going on?" Seto shouted at Marik, but his voice sounds lighter, two keys away from Mokuba. Now he knew that something was wrong. "I knew that you only knew how to play dirty you filthy-" Seto gripped his pants to pull them up again.

"Oh, so you finally figured it out?" Marik asked lazily. Bakura was laughing-he was over on the other end of the bridge, now, leaning over to direct his guffaws at the waves below. Kaiba hoped he would fall over the edge. "Yes, Kaiba; you always behave like a child when you're losing a duel, and as I knew that you would lose this one I decided that it would appropriate for you to experience your degeneration of age more...literally. Besides, you said you would share your life's experiences. I can see them before my eyes. Can't you?"

"Fuck you! Change me back! Undo this!" Seto's voice sounded ridiculous, even to himself—his voice was much higher than it should have been. The Duel disk weighed heavy on his arm, and he wasn't too sure what to do about it.

Marik just laughed more. "Children shouldn't swear. It's terrible and it's habit forming. You wouldn't want to be like that when you grow up, would you?"

"Marik, stop this!" Yuugi shouted, small fingers tightening around his Puzzle. "Or I'll make you."

"You won't make anyone do anything," Marik said. "The idiot agreed to a duel with me on his own accord. It's his own fate."

"I'm not going to finish this rigged duel, you fucking cheater," Seto hissed, but it sounded a bit more like a rat squeaking to him.

Marik crossed his arms. "Oh, really? Is that what you're doing? You're passing your turn? I believe that you only get a few minutes to make your move. Once it's my turn, Kaiba, I'm attacking you directly, and things are just going to get worse...is that what you really want?" He's probably right, the CEO thought. But there wasn't a surefire way that he could get himself out of this jam. He was losing already, and his clothes felt more like weights-his own Duel disk, like a dumbbell. It wasn't helping at all. There seemed to be no use. But he fought on, because Kaibas didn't forfeit-he wouldn't even consider the option.

The next few rounds were difficult to complete. There were too many distracting things; it was more difficult than before to see in the darkness of the night; the moon in the sky kept clamoring for his attention, the light from it that fell on the waves kept making him turn his head. The waves crashed against each other like they were fighting and the sounds roared inside of his ears. The only thing that was clear were the obscenities that he was trying to keep from coming out of his mouth. Damn Marik, trapping him like this! Through some miracle he was able to get the last Blue Eyes out, and he was gaining by chipping away at Marik's lifepoints; Marik couldn't defend forever. His opponent was frowning, but that wouldn't save him from the crappy luck that his deck was giving him. Seto had the upper hand now and he was intending to use it. With less than 1000 life points left, of course, that was nothing to be joyous about.

And it was all that he could do to keep his clothes on and hold up the Duel disk at the same time. He was trying to guess at his age at the moment, and he couldn't bring himself to do it-he was younger than Mokuba. Much younger. His feet were slipping around in his shoes and his shirt had completely fallen to his waist. He was pretty sure that keeping his pants on was a bit more important. At least he had been allowed to keep most of his sanity. He kept a steady mantra of curses for Marik going in his mind as his arm drooped closer and closer to the ground.

Bakura was still laughing like a madman at the edge of the bridge.

On his next turn Marik drew carefully, eyes narrowed, and Seto watched carefully. Marik stared at the card after he drew it. The playing field grew quiet and so did Yuugi and friends. After a moment, even Bakura's laughs subsided. Seto had guessed it. He'd drawn something useless. Something that couldn't even lessen the blow from the Blue Eyes. He was screwed; Marik didn't have 3000 lifepoints to spare. Then, slowly, Marik burst into loudly, raucous laughter, the kind that sent a shiver down Kaiba's spine. As soon as they were finished with this duel, he was going to have his top experts on this. He needed to know how this was possible, now.

Marik turned the card over. "Are you aware of what this card does?" he asked, a hint of laughter in his voice. "It wins me this duel, is what it does." Making a grand show of it, he read, "Drillago. When there are only face-up monsters with ATK 1600 or more on your opponent's side of the field, this monster can attack your opponent's Life Points directly. Do you know what this means?" he asked.

Seto frowned, and resisted the urge to stick his thumb in his mouth.

"You've had your fun, Marik," Yuugi growled. "Let this be where it is! You've done it. You've humiliated him. You'll be able to pry whatever card you want from him. You've already won the game. There's no need for you to carry it this far!"

"Don't you tell me where I should carry anything!" Marik spat back, smile appearing his face right after. He placed Drillago on the field, and for once Seto Kaiba was hoping that Marik would actually listen to Yuugi's words. He looked at his deck. Graceful Charity, Reload, Pot of Greed, Cyber Jar, Emes the Infinity. Nice set up, but none of these cards could do anything for him to protect his side of the field RIGHT NOW. He was fucked; it was that simple. He was fucked.

He swore he could feel himself shrinking more before the attack actually hit his lifepoints. The bridge seemed to change before his eyes; where he had once seen the bridge from side to side, his sight was failing to capture more than six or seven feet of it at once and that range was becoming smaller with every passing second. His clothes slid off of him completely, his Duel Disk clattered to the ground loudly and he was so small that he felt the vibration. He reached out a hand in front of him, and gasped; it was no longer than his hand while he was in full size. Ridiculous. I can't fucking believe this, he thought. I'm a fucking baby? But his clothes settled on top of him, and the world was lost to him. He couldn't move to pick himself up; he couldn't even turn over from the current position he held on his back. He could hear their voices; Anzu screamed and Marik was laughing triumphantly, Yuugi was talking but the base of his voice from so high up was preventing Seto from being able to discern what he was saying.

On the other side of the field, Marik couldn't have cared less what Seto Kaiba heard. The wind seemed to have subsided some upon his victory, and he beckoned Bakura over to him. "Don't you just love it when plans work out in your favor? The Pharaoh was going on in protest, but Marik didn't care much about it. "He's alive," he said to Yami, "and that's just going to have to do for you, isn't it? You're lucky we're not at the Nile. I'd toss him in with the alligators." And with that, Marik took his real prize. Walking briskly over to the bundle of clothing on the ground, the ex-tombkeeper rummaged through it until he saw the child; no more than a year old, fidgeting and trying to move. "Don't try too hard," he whispered, sugar tipped with poison in his voice, "you might scratch your back on the concrete." With that, he reached toward the Duel Disk. Seeing this, the child seemed to summon some Herculean strength; not only did the Kaiba-infant sit up, but it reached in the direction of the deck, wrapping stubby fingers around it. It was all still child's play, however; Kaiba now had all the power of a babe, and it took nothing for Marik to pry his fingers away from the disk, removing the cards and sticking the deck into his pocket.

He had been hoping that the baby would cry. He really, really wanted to see it happen. However, Kaiba showed no such intention, and seeing how the Pharaoh and his companions were growing impatient, Marik wanted to get one last joke in before he was chased away from the scene. "Bakura, hand me the coat," he said, and the Tombrobber did as he was bid. The white jacket was heavy, with all its punk-style clasps and belts and clamps, and Marik thought it a bit overrated. "You won't need this anymore. Not at all. At least it's the right color. Let's make it into something that you'll be able to use a bit more, doesn't that sound good?" Kaiba was reaching for the jacket, obviously wanting to take it back. To Marik, it looked cute. Disgustingly so. He looked away from the infant and unsheathed his Rod from his back pocket, and in seconds Kaiba's large jacket had become a diaper. He tossed it next to the child. "Like I'm going to touch you," he sniffed, standing up straight and walking away from the child. He looked at the Pharaoh. "There. Now you have another Mortal to watch over. Be careful. I hear he's rather fussy." They didn't laugh at all. Marik was still smiling-it was all too funny. "Fine, then, Pharaoh. Be that way. But consider our transaction finished. You can have him now."

"This wasn't part of your agreement!" Yami growled, his Puzzle beginning to glow, but Marik wagged a finger at him.

"Shadow magic nor their effects were verbally agreed upon. Just no God Cards, and I delivered on that end, and his years of experience; as you can see, I made sure that he delivered on his end as well. Don't be jealous; I'm aware that having this time from Seto Kaiba is more precious than the scholarships they give children in that school system of yours. Maybe they'll write an article on it. I'm so honored." He made a sweeping bow, and with that, he and Bakura were off to enjoy his spoils.

The End

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