The day started as any typical day would. I woke early in the morning and took the limo out to work. The day is still very clear in my mind. I skipped breakfast as usual and checked myself in the body mirror. That day, I was wearing the white Kaiba Corp. trench coat my father loved when he was my age. Now it was mine and I was scrupulous in making sure the old coat looked as new as the last time he wore it. In the inside pocket were two Blue Eyes White Dragons cards which also once belonged to my father. I wasn’t as big on dueling as he was, but I cherished them even more than that white trench coat I wore everyday for more personal reasons. I left the mansion alone that day. My father almost never takes a mental day, but today was special.
Because my father wasn’t there,
work was much less stressful for me. Employees had an annoying habit of asking
to see Mr. Kaiba and not specifying which one it wanted to see. Whether it’s my
father Seto Kaiba, my uncle Mokuba Kaiba, or myself Jahi Kaiba. Jahi was the
name my mother gave me when she was going to give me her last name, Ishtar, but
decided to change her mind and give me my father’s name at the last minute.
When he won custody of me from her, the name became permanent. So now I was Jahi Kaiba. If you asked me or
my father, we’d tell you that the mix of the two languages didn’t flow, but I
took pride in my name. I was a dignified Kaiba as my name suggested.
I went back home earlier than I usually did to spend some time with my father. It was a very hard day for everyone in my family but especially for him. Uncle Mokuba came back with me, to check up on him. I walked up the marble staircase and down the hall to his study. As I opened the door, I peered in to see if he was inside. As I thought, he was sitting behind his desk. But he was also doing something I hadn’t expected. He was looking out the window, focusing his unyielding attention towards the sky. Never before had I seen Seto Kaiba looked so depressed. I immediately wondered if he was trying to find them among the clouds.
“What are you doing home so early?” He asked without releasing his focus towards the sky.
As I entered the room, I bowed slightly to him before speaking. “I decided to spend the day with you. I figured you needed the company. Are you alright father?”
“I appreciate your concern but I don’t need to be taken care of. I’m fine. Is your uncle here with you?”
“Yes father, he’s downstairs.”
“Figures. Come sit with me Jahi.” I quickly pulled up a chair and sat at the opposite side of the desk. We sat in a calm silence for a long time before he spoke again. “Do you realize that it’s been 16 years since your mother died?”
“I know. You still miss her a lot, don’t you?”
“I hate to admit it, but I do.”
“Why didn’t you two ever get married?” When I asked this, he started to laugh.
“Why didn’t Ishizu and I get married? Because we hated each other.”
“You couldn’t have possibly hated each other that much. You had two children together.”
“Yeah well, you should have tried to tell me that before she died. Maybe things could have turned out differently. Do you remember her at all Jahi?”
“Not really,” I said, shaking my head sadly. “I remember small things like her holding me.”
“That’s not surprising. She always had a great chest. That would probably be the only thing I remembered too.” He said with a large grin. “Any other memories?”
“Well I don’t know if they’re memories or dreams, but I think I remember you two fighting a lot. The clearest one is when Sagira was born.” Saying her name caused me to stop short. My father took in a deep sigh.
“It probably wasn’t a dream. We were arguing when Sagira was born and we argued whenever they came to visit you. I wish you had a better image of Ishizu; she was a great woman, looking back on it. You can’t remember her face?”
“No, but she had long black hair, right?”
“Yes. Your hair is more like mine in the back but like Marik’s, it wont quite straighten in the front and complexion wise, both you and Sagira leaned more towards your mother’s. Other than that, you look nothing like her. You have my eyes, my hands, my build, everything.” At times like those I wished I looked more like my mother, but I knew what to say to cheer him up.
“But Sagira looked more like mother. We both got your eyes but other than that, she looked just like her, right?” My father grinned again.
“Have I really said it that much?” He still continued to focus his attention towards the sky as he stroked his goatee. “But it’s true.” After a while his grin faded and he looked a little depressed again. “Do you have the card with you Jahi?”
“Of course father.” I answered pulling the two Blue Eyes cards from my inside pocket. I quickly examined them and handed him the card on the left. He turned slightly to take the card and looked at it as well.A long time ago, my father gave one of his Blue Eyes cards to me. His second Blue Eyes went to my little sister Sagira, who was only two or so at the time. I tried to persuade him that giving something so valuable to a child wasn’t a smart thing to do but he glared at me angrily so I backed off the subject. He was a very intimidating person to a four- year-old. However, Sagira took surprisingly good care of the card, placing it in a small jewelry box with a picture of the three of us as well as other such trinkets a child finds valuable.
My mother died when Sagira was still an infant and so she had absolutely no recollection of her at all. Many nights she’d ask me what she was like. Not actually knowing, I’d often mimic things I heard from my father and my Uncle Marik and Uncle Odion. She was a very intuitive girl and had the potential to do great things once she got older, and because of her passion for our father’s favorite game at such a young age we were convinced she’d be the next great duelist, like he was. Unfortunately, like my mother, Sagira was long dead now. She was run over by a car when she was five, just like our mother was. In fact, the day Sagira died was the 5th anniversary of the day my mother did. Needless to say, this was not an easy day for my father, who was with both of them at their final moments.
“So how long has it been since Sagira died?” My father asked, looking down at the card.
“11 years today.” I answered glumly. As I remembered that horrible day so long ago, I felt a lump form in my throat but tried to brush it aside. Finally he turned around completely and looked at me.
“If you need to cry, now would
be the time to do it. I won’t allow it anytime else.”
“I’m not going to cry father.” I replied, embarrassed that he could tell I was trying not to.
“You’re a lot like me when I was your age. You shouldn’t suppress your emotions for too long or else they’ll build up inside and make you explode. They’ll make you do something you’ll regret. I used to think that confidence and anger were the only emotions that were acceptable to show, but I was so wrong. Ishizu, she tried to warn me so many times but I just got angry with her.”
“She warned me. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I fucked up everything.” He continued calmly, stroking his goatee.
“Father, what are you talking about?”
“I can hear them calling me.” He continued to grin, returning his gaze towards the sky. “The time’s come for me, but it’s not too late; not for you. Show no fear, Jahi. I didn’t raise you to be a coward.”
“Father, I don’t understand…” but the sight of my father pulling out a gun and loading it cut me off. “What are you doing? Father stop! Put it away!” He ignored my request and continued. “Please, give me the gun. Don’t do this, you don’t know what you’re doing.” I pleaded.
“Who do you take me for? A madman? Do I ever go through with anything without thinking it over thoroughly? Stop acting so childish, I raised you better than that!” He growled at me in anger. I sat petrified in my seat. I’d never seen him do anything like this. After a minute he calmed down and looked at me as lovingly as was possible for the man. “I’m sorry I lost my temper, I’m just nervous, I guess. Come here.”
At first I didn’t know what to make of it. Hesitantly, I rose out of my seat and stood by his side. Even though I was unsure how stable he was or even if this was the same man who raised me, I still felt humbled by the man, the way I had been all my life. I felt awkward standing by him; looking down at him. As a child I always had to look up at him. As a man, I was now able to look at him eye to eye. I always felt it represented my status in life. At that time I was looking down at him; I didn’t understand him and thought he was being harsh. But I always knew there to be a reason for his actions in the past and I wouldn’t doubt him now. I slowly bent down on my knees until I was at my rightful spot, looking him eye to eye.
I stared straight into those cool, confident eyes. The eyes I had inherited from him. And suddenly the world seemed to stop and only his voice remained. I’d never experienced anything like it before.
“I’ve made some mistakes in the past but I won’t make them again.” He continued. As he spoke to me, I realized that I was sinking further and further into the ground until I felt my head fall onto his lap. “Now don’t be that way. I raised you to be a stronger person than that. Things are going to turn out fine, you’ll see. You’re the only hope left for this family now.” He said calmly, petting my hair.
I heard the click of the safety on the gun being taken off and then heard it cock. All the while he continued to pet my hair.
“Father…please!” I begged more pathetically than I’d ever heard myself. I wanted to stop him but my body was frozen in fear.
The last words I remember hearing him say were ‘I love you Jahi’. The last time he’d said that was when Sagira died. I was still young then; only seven years old and I became sick and bedridden in grief. I didn’t want to loose another family member. I’d lost my mother and my sister on this day already and I couldn’t take loosing someone else.
Something took a hold of me and I felt like that grieving child again. In a last effort to stop him I screamed. “No Baba!”
That’s when the gun went off.
Right before my very eyes, the back off his skull exploded by the force of the bullet. The blood splattered all over the wall behind him and then oozed out of the open wound. I sat there in shock for a long time, not wanting to believe what I’d seen. The blood quickly formed a large puddle around our feet, which is what brought me out of my shock.
“Uncle Mokuba!” I screamed, clamoring away from the blood and my father’s body. I slipped around in the blood but I didn’t stop. “Uncle Mokuba!” I screamed all the way down the hall and to the marble staircase. Behind me was a clear trail of bloody footprints I had created with every step.
Sagira was always an energetic child, running to and fro since she first learned how to walk. It drove my father insane. She had a tendency to fall down the stairs. Nothing would happen to her though. A bruise, a scrape, and one time she cried for nearly an hour because she landed on her head. I’d never fallen down the stairs before so when I slipped on the blood coming off my own boots and started to stumble, it took me by surprise.
Just before my face made contact with the marble stair, the world appeared to slow down. In one second I was staring straight at the marble step, in the next, my entire life passed before my eyes. A lot of the pictures were things I didn’t even remember and for the first time in years, I saw my mother’s face clearly. Immediately after I’d seen her, I saw the step again. I prepared for the impact and awaited the pain I’d feel, but I never felt anything.
I was dead before I hit the seventh step.
It took me a second to realize what had happened to me. It was all too sudden. You can understand my frustration when I saw no bright light, no vision of my family lost, when I heard no trumpets playing or choirs singing. No. Everything was calm. That's when I started to panic. The tragedy of the moment really sunk in when I realized I was looking at my own dead corpse, mangled at the bottom of the stairs. It was not a pretty sight.
I felt a hand on my shoulder. For some reason, I expected to see my father, but I turned to see an Egyptian man in a white gown and head turban, with earrings, and aqua blue eyes. I noticed that he was holding a scale made out of gold. When I saw it, I remembered what my uncle Marik had told me.
In my mother’s religion, they believed that after death, Anpu or Anubis; the God of death, judges your soul by measuring the weight of your heart against the feather of Ma'at. If your heart is heavier than the feather, it is fed to the dog Ammut and you are doomed to wander for eternity, never to find peace in the afterlife. Personally, being a child when I’d heard this, I preferred my father’s belief in heaven and hell. I figured if hell was all fire and brimstone, that I could take it. I actually kind of liked fire.
Seeing the Egyptian man, who should have had the head of a jackal, with the scale, I mechanically grabbed at my heart.
“There is no need to be afraid Jahi. I’m not the one you fear.” He told me.
Hearing this I let go of my chest hastily, disgusted by my cowardice. “I’m not frightened by anything. Who are you?”
“My name is Shaadi, and I’m here to offer you a second chance at life.”
“What are you talking about?”
“This is not as it was meant to be. This is not the path destiny had made for your family. Because of this, I’m giving you a second chance to make it right.”
I stopped and looked at this stranger, wondering whether I could trust him or not. For all I knew, this could be some trick or test.
“I don’t believe in one predetermined destiny. People make their own.” I answered, turning away from him.“How much like your father you are, Jahi Kaiba.” He said sighing.
I turned suddenly. “You know my father?”
“We’ve never met but I’ve always known who he is.” The man simply smiled at me and continued.
“It’s true that not every decision you make is predetermined. Men are free to choose their own path, but in the end, those roads will all lead to the same place.”
“Is that so?” I was becoming tired of his nonsense. Now that I knew he was not Anpu or some angel come down to judge me, I felt no fear towards him. “Well, if that’s true, then how could my family have ended up in the wrong place?”
“Because of your father’s arrogance. There comes a point in a person’s life when they reach the path that will lead them to their destiny. When they understand that what has been laid before them should be embraced. But like you, he refused to accept what he saw and turned away from it.”Just then, my heart felt cold and I became aware of the fact that it had long ceased to beat. My uncle had run into the room and stopped dead in his tracks. His eyes became wet and were staring straight at the mangled mess that was once my body. I watched helpless, as he ran over to my body screaming for help.
“The unnecessary destruction of your family was fate’s way of starting with a new slate, as you say. I could really care less about your father, but I owe it to Ishizu and Marik, so I’m giving you one chance and one chance only. You can go back to anytime you wish and you’ll be allowed to use anything that may help your cause. I’ll leave you to think it over. Call when you need me and remember to choose wisely.”
Before I could get out another word, the Egyptian man was gone. I stood there for a while thinking over what I’d just heard. I still thought it was bullshit, but figured that since I was dead already, I didn’t have anything to loose by doing it.
Uncle Mokuba was still on the floor trying fruitlessly to resuscitate my body. My heart went out to him. He could be a very emotional person and he cared about me like I was his son too. He checked my pulse and finally came to terms with the fact that I was gone. He desperately tried to cradle me in his arms, but when he lifted my head from its resting place, my head lagged and the broken bone in my neck poked through the skin, creating a disgusting sight. I turned away but he simply held up my head as well.
“Seto! Seto!” He yelled upstairs in tears. I cringed realizing that he had no idea my father was as dead as I was. Probably even more so. My father was the most important thing in his life. I didn’t want to put him through all this pain if he didn’t have to, and I didn’t want my father to have to die in vain the way he did. But how could I fix something I hardly understood? The answer came to me just as quickly as the question.
“Shaadi!” I called out. Through the steps he appeared looking quite pleased.
“That didn’t take long at all. So are you ready to seize your family’s destiny or will you follow in your father’s footsteps.”
“I want to go back to however long ago my father refused his destiny.” I told him. Shaadi grinned at me.
“I know where you’re going with this. Smart move.” He placed his hand on my shoulder and the world morphed around me. I was going back.