by Katsuko

This was written two-fold, something that I don't normally do too much of. First off, this was written for hc_bingo, the prompt being "dub-con" because I play fast and loose with prompts, and if you wanna get technical then sex isn't the only thing in life where consent can become an issue.

Secondly, this marks the third story I've written within the Endless Loop universe created by Apollymi, my best friend, beta reader, and hetero-ace lifemate. The series was started circa 2005, and with this story we're wrapping up what amounts to Season One of the saga. It was originally an attempt to write a fusion within the Anita Blake universe better than LKH (ooh, snap!) and turned into something else entirely, and I'm honestly thrilled to be a part of it.

That said, you don't have to read the entire series to understand this story. I would suggest a read of Cyber Fake prior to jumping into this part, but the quick-and-dirty summary of what's going on is the Ishtar twins and Jounouchi, along with a crew of leopards, head to Tokyo to deal with a long-standing problem. It doesn't go well.

And now that the author's note is longer than the fic, I leave you to it. Enjoy.

Betaed as always by Apollymi.

Everything happens. Not necessarily for a reason, but everything happens.

That's the only way I can explain what's happened in the past thirty-odd hours to change my entire life.

Thirty hours ago, or somewhere around then, my best friend did my twin and me the biggest favor ever just because we asked it of him. Granted, he probably would have done it if just Katsuya had asked, but we all wanted it. Whatever the reason, Bakura used his talents and managed to separate Marik and me into two individual people rather than two people sharing one body.

Twenty-nine hours and fifty minutes ago, I realized that I wasn't anything extraordinary anymore; everything ahmet went to Marik, leaving me purely human. Weird, after spending my entire life up til that point as a half-ahmet vegetarian, but kind of nice. I'd gladly trade a shorter lifespan for being able to actually give my own damned twin a hug every now and again, and be able to leave the room whenever he wants to get romantic with our mutual boyfriend.

Twenty-four hours ago, we got a call from one of the old gang back in Tokyo. Otogi Ryuuji, one of Bakura's old generals who was currently calling the shots, wanted help dealing with a little leopard infestation. Given that there are only two wereleopard pards in Japan, and that my Katsuya is the Nimir Raj of the Domino pard, and that we all know the story about how Bakura helped Katsuya vouch out of his old pard via shotgun, and it doesn't take a genius (which Marik has always assured me I'm not) to figure out just who the crew was having problems with.

Twenty-three hours ago, Katsuya managed to argue Rebecca out of heading to Tokyo with us. She was four months pregnant, and while normally I'd be inclined to let her do whatever the hell she wants (true facts: pregnant human women ain't got nothing on pregnant weres), we didn't know what we might be facing. Katsuya only managed to win by promising that Siegfried would stay in Domino, and Siegfried agreed with the call instantly; I kind of get the feeling he wasn't too big on leaving his mate behind without him there to protect her.

Twenty-three hours and thirty minutes ago, Dartz begged out of coming along as well. I'm pretty damned sure that was all Varon. The man is a great doctor but scary as fuck. Seriously. I don't know what he might have done before becoming the Kaiba family's personal physician, but I wouldn't want to have been alone in a dark alley with him.

Twenty hours ago, we didn't find Hirutani or any of his pard. I don't even know what we found; I was a little too busy bleeding to death from the shrapnel that found its way into my abdomen.

At that moment, I felt sadness and regret. I knew that I was going to die long before Katsuya or Marik; weres can live to be close to a couple centuries old before they drop and ahmets live about twice as long as humans. I would have only had about another fifty to eighty years with them, but I would have enjoyed every moment.

But I wasn't supposed to die only hours after being separated from my twin. I wasn't supposed to bleed out in front of my Katsuya. I was supposed to go a long time from now, probably of old age in my sleep unless something else got to me first.

I'm never going to be completely certain of what happened. I think I heard Katsuya doing a roll call of the pard (Roba and Ryuuzaki and Rafael and Hiei and Toshiko and Trowa) and Marik yelling at Otogi and Otogi yelling back. I think I heard Otogi agreeing with something that I couldn't quite hear from my brother. I know that I felt the fangs that punctured my neck.

I'm pretty sure I tried to shove him away from me. I wasn't ready to die yet, but doing this would be so much worse. I was supposed to be the one to go first, not the one who was left behind. I would have hit Otogi, done my best to kill him with my last breath, if I hadn't felt my twin shove at me mentally and beg.

Please don't leave us.

So I stopped fighting.

There's not a lot I wouldn't do for them.

Nearly everything after that is fuzzy. I don't remember coming to this hotel. I don't remember how we managed to get to the room. I only remember accepting Otogi's blood, then I was waking up with the sunset in a very nice bed with my Katsuya curled up beside me while Marik stood by the window.

Three hours ago, I found out that everyone back in Domino was dead. Apparently Seth decided to take out all of the competition and bombed the fuck out of the mansion. Kaiba, the mini-Kaibas, Bakura, Ryou, Yami, Yuugi, the wolves, the rest of my Katsuya's leopards... all gone in an instant. There's nothing left for us back in Domino.

So that's why we're leaving with this Vivian character. I don't know if I really believe that Pegasus sent her to make sure we got out of Seth's reach, but I'll pretend to for now. We're not supposed to try and contact anyone before we head out of the country, but Katsuya just handed me a letter that he wants to get to his sister and mom. Given that they thought of Bakura as family and probably believe that we're all pushing up daisies, I'm making damned sure it gets to them.

Otogi owes me right now. He might have saved my life, but he cursed me to outliving my greatest love and my not-quite-identical twin. And I know he feels guilty about that, so he'll make sure the Kawai family gets the message.

As for what comes next, I don't know. I'll just take each day as it comes, and see where the road takes me and mine.

I never wanted my life to go this way, but everything happens.

[ Cursed Gold 01 | Cursed Gold 02 | Cursed Gold 03 | Cursed Gold 04 | Cursed Gold 05 | Cursed Gold 06 | Cursed Gold 07 | Cursed Gold 08 | Cursed Gold 09 | Cursed Gold Epilogue ]
[ Avarice 01 | Avarice 02 | Avarice 03 | Avarice 04 | Avarice 05 | Avarice 06 | Avarice 07 | Avarice Epilogue ]
[ Endear ]
[ Unbreakable ]