Title: Pause... rewind... OK, now go.
Summary: Lily dies. But she gets a second chance... at everything.
Ships: mentioned Aso x Baira
Contains specials like: human/Ignis Grim and Lily
Notes: Yusaku and Kusanagi have parents, Takeru's parents don't die during the Incident, Miyu and Mizumi's parents don't die before the Incident, Kogami's house at Stardust Road has a basement where he makes his research on the Incident-data, and I'm not too familiar with adopting and all that.
Lily was always curious if your entire life flashes across your vision moments before death. Like, will she see herself falling off a D-Board and potentially crash into Blue Angel? Or better yet, see herself almost hit a wall of data while racing with a LANphorhynchus days before Dr. Kogami trapped her?
It's weirder that, as she's dying, she doesn't care about this.
Instead, she continues to stare at Adam's face. Erika's face. Her Origin's face. Although Lily's dying right now, she gives a big smile; she's incredibly happy to die this way, creating a sideway Lily's sure Erika will take, thus starting a new road that'll lead to a new- and better- future.
"Follow a future... you and Kioku both want."
Those are her last words. They're important- fundamental, even. No matter what, Erika must remember them. They're the key Lily's handing to her Origin. The key that'll open the door to her sideway.
She can feel the virus crawling over her head, and her vision goes black. Only darkness followed.
Life s quite... dull (she thinks that's the right word) in the afterlife. No one ever thought of adding Christmas lights and a large sign that wrote 'You died! Bad luck!' into this "darkness"?
"Oh my... You left the stage too unannounced, Little Soul."
A young and female voice called out to her, then. She couldn't move because she... well, didn't feel her body be there. So she stared, at the outstretching darkness in front of her.
"Are you... Kami-sama?" she asked, hesitantly. Oh... it seems she can talk. That's one ability.
"Indeed I am. But... you may call me Ylil."
"Isn't that... my name but reversed?" Lily asked, but immediately regretted; she's talking with a God and she's being rude-
Ylil let out a short laugh, which cut her thinking off.
"You'd be surprised by the story my name carries," the Goddess explained. "However, that's a matter for another day. There's something else I'd like to discuss with you, Little Soul."
"Oh... I... see." Lily didn't really know how to phrase her words.
"You may speak freely with me, I'm not a lover of the 'holier-than-thou' vibe."
"Phew, that's a relief!" she exclaimed with a happy exhale. "It started to hurt my brain all that thinking of how to address you! Well... I believe I still have a brain if I can think- Uh, sorry for interrupting."
Ylil chuckled before continuing. "You're a very important piece of... Erika. Your death... are you sure this was for the greater good? No regrets?"
"I thought about it. A lot." Lily assured. "I want to help my Origin the best way I can. And this... maybe there was a better way to do it, but this... I'm sure she'll make the right decision. She's a strong and smart girl."
"Just like yourself." Ylil commented. "I understand your choice, Little Soul. But... you're dead. Are you not scared of death?"
"Do many say 'yes' to that question?"
"...In truth, I don't speak with many after their last moments. It's mainly my Onii-sama who does it; he did list quite a few who answered yes if I'm not mistaken."
"Well... to be honest, no. I'm not scared right now." Lily said. "Sure, there are a lot of things I wanted to do, but I accepted my fate. If I have to die, I'll do it by helping Erika."
"I admire your spirit." Ylil admitted. "It's beautiful... Little Soul, if you would get a second chance at life, would you take it? Having the ability to correct your mistakes is a rare gift."
"Whoa! Hold up! Time out!" Lily quickly shouted. "A s-second chance!? Oh my data- I-I don't even know where I would start, honestly." she let out a startled chuckle. "That's a... a tough question."
"Would you accept it?"
If Lily would have the eyes to look at the Goddess, she would be staring at her wide-eyed.
"M-Me? A second chance? But... why me? What have I done to you to be worthy of that...?"
"Oh, Little Soul; you've done so much. Not to me, but... to the living."
"Yes. To those who live on Earth and had their fates tied to yours. What you've done to them is worthy of such a gift. However, I'll have to remind you that, once you alter reality, it cannot be undone. There won't be a third chance."
Should Lily take it? A second chance... it means she can stop a disaster like the Lost Incident, help others before their pain is born, maybe even save people!
Erika... Lily fought intensely on her behalf- but now it's time she opens a future for the entire world. She made a decision a long time ago: she'll stop being blind and she'll fight. This situation is no different. If she has the chance to help others, she has to take it.
So she answered the Goddess. "I accept your kind gift, Ylil... thank you."
"I'll have to ask a favor from you if that's your decision. The powers you vested so far shall travel with you in time, but with an addition: my light."
Lily gasped. "A power-up, sweet! But, what do you mean by your light...?"
"You have wings, don't you? To put in short, when you use them, they'll emit a strong glow which contains a fraction of my powers, allowing you to... I believe you would say 'knock some sense into people'."
That'll come in handy, especially because Lily doesn't know what Grim did to Dr. Kogami all those years ago. It's time... she's actually going to go back and change everything for the better. This task put a lot of strain on her shoulders that, surprisingly, wasn't making her back down but drive her forward.
"Light is hope. Hope is the power to create miracles. Don't forget the emotions you felt and the words you heard up to this moment, Little Soul. May your efforts create a new world."
Her words left a loud ring in Lily's head, and before she could say 'Kuriboh', the darkness vanished in the blink of an eye and she found herself back in her living body, in the network.
It was a strange feeling. Like, when you suddenly wake up from sleep with a jolt and you need a second to understand what in Hell is going on. No Christmas lights and a large 'You didn't die! Good for you!' sign- what a letdown...
"Lily!" a voice squealed from the side. Catche Eve L2's paws suddenly took hold of her shoulders and shook her around. "You OK? You weren't doing anything like when a character stops moving because you lost connection with the controller!"
Latency was beside the Duel Monster, pointing at her hourglass before holding up two fingers. She held a one-minute hourglass, which meant Lily was out for two whole minutes.
Catche and Latency, back in the past, network, not in Dr. Kogami's prison- Lily gasped loudly as she placed the puzzle together. She remembered this day clear as a day! She and Catche were going to compete on who can hold their breath the longest, Latency there as an eye-witness, then she's suddenly imprisoned by Dr. Kogami.
"SNAP BASKETS!" Lily exclaimed, shuffling on her feet and hands in the air. She has to stop Grim before he does the thing that persuaded Dr. Kogami to lock them up!
"Girl, you alright?" Catche asked in confusion. "Hey, why are your eyes light blue-"
"I don't have time to explain why I don't have time to explain!" Lily shouted as she vanished in data, traveling in the network in search of Grim. It didn't take long until she found a trace of the DARK Ignis that lead her to a barely lit basement.
There was enough light to reveal the giant mess Grim was making: the Ignis was in a scary and large form of a winged serpent, attacking Dr. Kogami, three people in lab coats, and a little kid with white hair and purple highlights!
"Don't worry! I shall save y-"
"Ow!" Lily's heroic debut was cut short as she hit an invisible wall, which turned out to be the computer's screen she appeared on. She rubbed her 'nose' with a scowl. "Stupid invisible-force-barrier! Don't make me use my bazooka on you!"
"IGNF2!" a man with navy hair and lighter blue highlights, who was pointing a gun at Grim, gasped.
"Stop that-Stop this-Stop everything that's happening right now!" Lily cried out, waving her two index fingers at the mess. "We should all calm down and not kill each other-"
"Stay out of this, Lily!" Grim roared at her, causing her to flinch. "This is about my Origin!"
Yeah, that's certainly the case. Kioku is the reason Grim's here, in that form, with that anger and sorrow. And where was past-Lily while this happened? At a competition of who can hold their breath the longest. Lily's ashamed- no, disgusted at herself. She lived for ten years immersed in that folly...
And she had enough. This isn't about Kioku, about Grim, about the Lost Incident- damn it, it's about everyone!
Everyone's involved in this as much as everyone else is, and it's time Lily finally stands up to it the way she should've done all those years ago, and not at the last moment where people die by Lightning's mad and stupid schemes!
Lily felt the yellow markings over her body ignite as she pointed an accusing finger at Grim, with a glare herself didn't know she can give.
"No, this about us!" she corrected him. "And I said stop!"
The two wings sprouted from her back, and she spread them out in all their glory, letting their glowing feathers illuminate the entire screen and basement, with the others covering their eyes to take stop the light from blinding them.
Her wings fizzled out of existence, and with it, the light vanished. Grim looked even-tempered, changing back to his real form, and Dr. Kogami was staring at nothing in particular with wide-eyes, almost falling to his back if it wasn't for a man with green hair and glasses catching him.
"Th-That... light..." he mumbled, pointing a finger at Lily. "You... You met Her... Ylil..."
"You know her?" she asked in surprise. The doctor... knew the Goddess? What!?
Dr. Kogami pulled himself to his feet and stumbled to the computers, drenched in cold sweat, surely by Grim's attack and Ylil's light.
"She sent you to stop his plan..." he muttered, then glanced at the DARK Ignis. "I'm sorry. I... I'm releasing him. All the children. I have to stop this now."
Grim's eyes widen a little in evident delight and Lily struck a fist into a palm in joy.
"Kogami-sama..." the navy-haired man gasped, looking stunned- stunned in a good way.
The man in the center of attention fully turned around, noticing the woman with his child, who was still scared and shaking, in her arms.
"Kyoko, go upstairs and watch over Ryoken." Dr. Kogami said. "Please... watch over him for a little bit."
"Y-Yes." the woman, Kyoko, nodded, still shocked and stunned. With Ryoken- what a beautiful name, Lily noted- she left the basement.
Turning his head to the two men, "Aso, shut down the VR sets used by the children and give Kioku and Erika back their memories. Genome, make the preparations for their extractions. We can't let the authorities cover those grounds and presumably find leads that connect to us."
Aso and Genome nodded, going to work, with the latter leaving the basement. Aso rebooted a computer, allowing him to work, while Grim took a step towards the doctor.
"But you said it yourself Kioku has no parents to return to." he pointed out with a glare. "What do you intend to do with him?"
"I'll adopt him."
Everyone who remained stared at him with wide-eyes.
"You... what did you say?"
"You heard me right." Dr. Kogami confirmed. "Him and Erika. I'll adopt them. It's out of respect for their parents who had to die because of me. If I took them away... it's my responsibility to care for them."
"I already saw what you're capable of." Grim snarled. "No kid is safe in your hands!"
"That's why you'll be guarding him, too." that made him blink. "You... You've become another part of that poor child's being. It would be a sin for me not to let you be by his side."
He turned to the LIGHT Ignis. "And obviously, Erika needs you as well."
"YES! IT WORKED!" Lily bellowed in happiness. This second chance worked. It actually worked! She's so happy she can feel tears running down her cheeks! All those things she didn't get to do with or without Erika and the others can be finally accomplished! Destiny just got slapped in the face so hard by Lily that she's sure It added her to its death list marked in red.
Grim was equally happy but made one more question. "What... made you change ideas so easily?"
Even Aso turned to stare at the doctor, who glanced at Lily again.
"It was her light," he simply explained. "Truly, a Goddess' light. Thank you, IGNF2..."
"It's Lily, actually." she pointed out. "And it was my pleasure."
"The car's ready, Kogami-sama." Genome's voice came from the stairs as he appeared.
"I'm done, too." Aso's hands left the keyboard.
"Good." Dr. Kogami nodded. He turned to the two Ignis. "I'll need your help with this operation."
"Count on us!" Lily struck her fists together. Then frowned. "Uh, well, if I could leave this screen..."
"You can do it." Grim said. "It's enough if you focus on the screen and it'll allow you to pass."
"Really!?" like, she had this amazing ability to cross worlds but never knew of it? If she's not mistaken, Grim did mention a program Dr. Kogami stole from him when he placed them in the prison. This is the ability he stole from him and her!? Wow, the more you know.
This time, her face met the cold pavement as she managed to walk out but immediately forgot about the landing. Grim and Dr. Kogami helped her to stand up, Lily fuming at the 'stupid invisible-force-barrier'.
A van was parked outside the Kogami residence, waiting for them with its backdoors opened. Aso stayed home with Kyoko and Ryoken per Dr. Kogami's orders, and he and Genome went to the driver and passenger seat respectively, Grim and Lily in the back.
The ride to their destination wasn't particularly long, but an awkward silence hand in the air. Lily wanted to start a conversation but decided not to. She took hold of Grim's hand instead, squeezing it a little: going to save Kioku from this incident is what Grim wanted to do the most in life, but failed to accomplish. He might not be the future-Grim she knows, but Lily is sure her friend is getting very agitated and... scared.
Scared of what he'll see on Kioku's face. She knows this better than anyone- she's feeling those same emotions right now. That's why, when Grim squeezes her hand gently in reply, her heart felt lighter.
The shadows cast by the trees around the laboratory were ominous, and if it wasn't for her strong spirit, Lily would've chosen to stay in the van. But she didn't. She and Grim firmly planted their feet on the hard ground and glared at the building: this is where they were born, but they hated it to their very core.
It was home to pain and nothing else.
"We can't let the eight see my or Genome's faces, and we two can't touch them either," Dr. Kogami explained. "Or the authorities will have clear leads to us. You two will have to take each child and bring them into the van; since you don't have fingerprints and won't walk in public, it's not a problem if you touch or let them see your face."
The two nodded, listening to his words carefully. He raised an old key, handing it to Grim.
"Use that to open the doors. Genome and I will stay here on patrol."
"Fine." Grim nodded
Behind each door, there was an unconscious kid, presumably knocked out cold by the shock waves sent by the VR sets. Gently taking between their hands, the two Ignis laid them down in the van's back- until reaching their Origins.
Grim dashed over to Kioku, taking him into his arms and inspecting every bruise on his body; no real damage, only minor ones. Standing up and turning to leave, Kioku's small hands held a card, one that was taken out of his Duel Disk which was discarded in the room's corner.
The ghost of a smile crossed the DARK Ignis' features, and he took the card with them.
Lily, on the other hand, placed her forehead against Erika's. "Just a little more..." she whispered. "A tiny bit and you all will be happy."
As the last two kids were placed into the van and the backdoors were closed, the rescue team left the area, driving into Den City's desolated outskirts. They left the kids far from the road and in the grass, covering them with blankets so they won't freeze to death.
"You expect me to leave Kioku here?" Grim inquired.
"We can't let anyone see us." Dr. Kogami reminded him. "And the police is on this case for half a year, they'll come immediately if we specify one child's name. Moreover, you can't leave that here." he pointed a finger at the card in Kioku's hands. "Better not take risks."
"I need you to believe me." Grim's words were cut off. "I know... I know I don't deserve it from you... but this once, please. I promise you'll be with Kioku after this."
"Grim..." Lily took hold of his arm, noticing his pent up expression. He stared at Kioku until his eyes narrowed and turned to the man.
"I won't forgive you if that promise's a lie." he finally said, taking the phone from Genome's hand and calling the police, explaining the strange presence of eight unconscious kids in the open at this hour. They told him a squad is on its way, and he hung up.
He took the card from Kioku's hands, moving them to Erika's own. The two siblings grasped their hands, and the two Ignis smiled at this.
The journey back to the mansion was also silent, interrupted by the sounds of sirens in the distance. Aso and Kyoko were waiting for them in the living room, Ryoken in his room and asleep. Dr. Kogami explained to the three his reasons for abandoning the project, what he'll do from this point on, and apologized for involving them and Akimoto into this mess.
They weren't angry at him, in fact, happy for this decision and thanked the Ignis for their help. It was late by now, and they left the mansion, going home to get some rest after all this.
"I'll need your help again, tomorrow night," Dr. Kogami explained. "We need to erase all evidence at the laboratory and the obtained data, and only then we can officially call this incident closed."
"As long as you'll keep our promise, I'll help you." Grim reminded him. "If not, you saw what I can do."
Lily punched him on the shoulder for that; the man's showing some sympathy and this is how he treats him? Sure, what Dr. Kogami did was... on a whole new level of evil, but unlike the future-Kiyoshi she knows, this one stopped before going too far.
"Don't be angry at him." Dr. Kogami addressed her. "I deserve that treatment. But, Lily... I want to know your connection to Ylil. It's rather important."
Not taking any risks with revealing the future to the past, she lied that the Goddess gifted her with Her light and sent her to stop this incident from destroying lives. The man was surprised by this and excused himself to make a phone call, saying they can rest and feel at home.
"...Thank you, Lily."
Her words were cut short as Grim hugged her. After the shock passed, she hugged him back.
"Hey... if Kioku and Erika are twin siblings... doesn't that make us twins, too?"
"Yeah." Grim chuckled. "It does."
(in another room)
"...That's what the Light Ignis told me."
[I see. This move was an interesting one from Ylil.]
"I'll be giving my resignation to SOL tomorrow via email. It's too dangerous for me to take one single step into the enemy's den. I hope that offer you made me years ago is still valid, Kaiba."
[By all means, Kogami. It's always a pleasure to work with an old acquaintance. Ah, that reminds me, my men have just spotted the Trinitas leaving the country.]
"Must be his work..."
[I concur. In case the Star Relics make another move, I'll contact you.]
...(the next day)...
While Lily and Dr. Kogami were asleep, Grim was staring at Stardust Road from the living room, his arms folded. The anchorwoman in the TV's news broadcast was speaking about the missing eight children that were found last night and currently kept in Den Hospital for care and under strict surveillance; the only ones allowed to visit them were their parents if they had them.
According to her words, the kids will be let out these days because of no major physical damage. It seems their mental recovery is left to the family's care and funds-
Grim head jerked to the side upon the sudden voice, staring at a scared Ryoken. Damn it, he forgot about the poor kid... he must have scared him to death with the transformation and whole 'killing you all' thing. But this is a good chance for the Ignis to test his skills with kids.
"U-Um," he started, crouching down to eye level. "S-Sorry for yesterday... Your father made me angry and- oi, w-wait!"
He couldn't finish before Ryoken ran towards Dr. Kogami's room. This made him scowl: what if Kioku will have the same reaction? He is a stranger to him after all. Sure, the reason Ryoken ran away is that Grim scared him to death, but Kioku...
You shouldn't be scared as well, Ignis-san.
"I had a hunch you can talk..." Grim whispered, standing up and staring at Kioku's card. "...Protron, how can you be so sure Kioku won't hate me, too?"
Kioku is still a child. And the thing any child desires the most is pure love. I saw enough to deduce you can give him that love... but if you're insecure, he'll be, too.
"But you already gave him love. Will he accept... mine...?"
He accepted mine. Your chances are higher than mine. I can feel... many things from you that I felt from Kioku. You are two sides of the same card. Two pieces of a whole- you get my point. So... turn that frown upside down! Kioku needs a smile, not a frown.
Grim didn't reply, and stared at the sunrise in silence.
...(three days later)...
"Wait, let me get this straight... WE CAN TURN INTO HUMANS!?"
Everybody present flinched at Lily's sudden shout from the screen, which echoed in the basement and made it worse. Grim, whose name was officially given by Lily because humans don't know Ignis language and it's stupid calling him IGNF1- and this way there's no danger of getting a different name which would make a mess to remember, already his skin's colours being different is confusing-, together with Dr. Kogami and KaibaCorp, have come up with a way to turn them into humans.
Great minds create even greater ideas! So, it goes like this: in IRL, the two Ignis will take on a human appearance, while in the network, they return to their Ignis forms. This will save time in explaining to Erika and Kioku why there are two alien-like beings in the mansion.
"That's right." Dr. Kogami nodded at her question. "We installed two special rooms into the house that'll allow you to enter and leave the network by appearing as humans in IRL. I'll send the access program to you right now."
The second she received it, she left the computer screen by activating it. There was a moment of darkness, but as quick as it came, it disappeared, and Lily found herself in a different part of the mansion, a door sliding open to let her out.
She didn't feel anything different... her attention was caught by a door opening beside hers, and a person stepped out with blinking eyes. It was a fair-skinned youth with short black hair and spiky bangs over his forehead, which had small dark red triangle-shaped highlights, a yellow and red left and right eye respectively and slitted pupils, and a dark red collar-shaped tattoo across his neck.
Lily made the most dramatic gasp ever. "GRIM!"
"Hi." he simply replied, closing and opening his fists continuously. "Hm, everything works fine..."
"It worked!" Kyoko shouted as she and the others ran up to them, the rooms located in the living room's wall.
"Amazing! The Ignis' data became DNA!" Genome beamed in awe. "With this, my research can take a whole new leve-"
"Ahem." Aso placed a hand over his eyes, he and the others closing their eyes. "A little respect, Genome."
"What are you talking about?"
"The discovery is fascinating... but..." Akimoto started. "You're not wearing anything."
The two just realized they were butt naked.
"NANI!?" Lily screamed, trying to cover herself in all ways possible.
"We didn't take that into account..." Grim growled with a frown and blush.
"Father, who screamed? Is everything OK?"
"Ryoken, get back to your room!" Dr. Kogami quickly turned to his son, who had to appear right at this timing. He stopped Ryoken before he could see something wrong and turned him around.
"Is it a new invention!?" he beamed. "Can I see!?"
"L-Later, my boy, later..." the father chuckled while walking away with the child. "We're having some... difficulties at the moment."
Lily yawned as she walked into the bathroom, getting ready for a new day. Being a human was... enlightening.
Tasting stuff for the first time was such a shock Lily almost screamed. Dr. Kogami was very polite and took everyone out to eat at a restaurant, along with gifting them clothes. The two Ignis were able to learn a lot about their new family at dinner: they talked and laughed while eating, Ryoken included. Since he didn't know Grim was... well, the Ignis-Grim, he talked with him, too.
She stopped at a mirror, her reflection staring back at her: she was a fair-skinned youth with long black hair which had yellow highlights on the bangs over her cheeks, a yellow and red left and right eye respectively, and a yellow collar-shaped tattoo across her neck. She tied her hair into a high ponytail with a red ribbon, made sure to change clothes, and went to eat breakfast.
This was the awaited day: the pre-placement waiting period is now over, and three kids are finally free to be left into their soon-to-be parents' hands!
Oh, yeah, three.
According to Dr. Kogami, one night, the sensors around the laboratory picked up movement, and he saw a victim of the Lost Incident through the cameras. Heading there and confronting the child, he was shocked to hear him saying the incident made time move for him and he had fun during it. He was abandoned by his mother at the feet of a tree, and that very tree which became his motherly figure was cut down.
The kid wanted to be useful like he was back then, during the incident, and he didn't have a place to call home... Dr. Kogami was moved by his words, and he promised he'll do his best to help the kid. Aso and Kyoko wanted a kid since they started dating, so they volunteered to adopt him instead of Dr. Kogami, who already had the Ketsueki twins and couldn't adopt others.
The door to Dr. Kogami's car closed as he sat into the driver seat, the twins in the back seats and silent. The orphanage owner, Azumaya Jeanne, was kind enough to let him visit Kioku and Erika yesterday to talk a little and get to know each other, but it was clear the twins were still uncomfortable around him. Out of nowhere, you find out you have a new father- not all kids can easily adjust.
So he had to bond with the kids. And he knows just how.
"From today you two are officially Kogami Kioku and Erika." he said, turning his head to them with a smile. "I welcome you to the family."
"Thank you." they said in unison, not being impolite.
"But I don't want you to forget your roots." he added. "I... well, I knew your parents... before they passed away."
Erika flinched, being the one who saw their parents get killed, but her and Kioku's interest was caught.
"They were two of... no, they were my best friends." Dr. Kogami stated. "We were there for each other through thick and thin. Truly, two of the best people I've ever met. I am sorry you two lost them... but no matter what, promise me you won't forget them."
They slowly nodded, not expecting the sudden reveal. He doesn't dream of replacing Kyoya and Suiko- no, he wants the twins to have a figure that'll help them when their parents can't be there. He's sure Kyoya and Suiko would want that, too.
As he drives, Kioku and Erika make all sort of questions about their parents, which Dr. Kogami was more than happy to answer. They were a curious pair, he noted with a smile.
"Our house!" Kioku exclaimed, and true to his words, the car stopped in front of the Ketsueki residence.
"Why are we here...?" Erika asked in shock and joy.
"I thought there are some things you'd like to bring along." Dr. Kogami told. "I don't know when we could come here again... so here we are."
After opening the gate's door which was left unlocked, he let twins ran into their house. He followed them, but walking, taking in the sight of the house and pictures he passed on the way. He entered his friends' office, and in their respective desks' drawers, he found two blank cards.
These must be the Overdrive Monsters Kaiba mentioned. he thought, placing them into his pocket.
He found Kioku and Erika in their room, holding each a little box and pillow in their hands. They were staring at their room with vexed expressions, and Dr. Kogami tensed.
"Everything will be OK." he said, kneeling down beside them and patting their shoulders. "Everything will be OK."
A part of him knew he was saying that to calm himself, too.
"Are mommy and daddy in a good place...?" Erika asked out of the blue.
"Yes, they are." Dr. Kogami smiled. "They were amazing people, surely gifted with a happy afterlife."
"Will we see them again...?" Kioku inquired with a sob.
The man hugged the twins, who did the same. "They never left." he said. "They're always with you, in your heart, believing and cheering for you."
They stayed in that position for a minute or two, and Dr. Kogami stood up with a smile.
"Let's go. There are people waiting for us back home. Is that all you want to take with you?"
The twins nodded, not so vexed than before, and they left the house. On his way out, the man noticed a framed picture on a nightstand, showing the Ketsueki family holding up their Ace Monsters in the backyard. He made sure to take it with him, in honor of his lost friends.
"Varrelload Dragon destroys San Vine Slasher!"
"But since I took damage, I can activate San Avalon Dryas' effect! Thanks for freeing the zone next to its Link Marker for me."
It seems Ryoken and Spectre are already on good terms. That sure is a relief since Spectre will be staying majority of the time at the Kogami residence while Aso and Kyoko work, Lily and Grim watching over the kids, and with Dr. Kogami when he has a day off.
The Duel was interrupted by the man, all eyes were on him and the twins, which caused the two to hide behind Dr. Kogami. Grim and Lily were the first- and deserved to be such- to step close to the two.
"Hi, my name's Lily!" she waved her hands with a large smile. "I like doing fun stuff, my favorite colour is gold yellow, and my hobby is to design Cyberse cards which I then use in Duels. Happy to meet you!"
She will never get bored of that straight forward introduction, and it fits her. She's who she is, and to make the kids feel at ease, she can't be tensed or too serious. She needs to smile and add some laughter to the mix.
"E-Erika..." she started with a faint blush, which made Lily's heart squeal. She was so cute! And she let out a smile to boot! "And I like gold yellow as well..."
Erika is different from the future-Erika, and it's no surprise. They lived two different lives up to this point: they were separated by the incident and lost their memories, Lightning came to Erika's side, but she only fed on anger and sadness. That made her become future-Erika.
But now it's another story. They aren't separated, they have their memories, no Lightning that threatens humanity- and a family. This is a second chance not only for Lily, but the entire world influenced by her choices.
Now, Grim made a much more distinct introduction. First, he handed a card to his Origin, who took it with a giant smile.
"Protron!" he exclaimed in happiness
Second, he kneeled down and stared at the floor. Third, he made a vow.
"I promise on my faith that I will be faithful to thee, I will shield your back and give my life to-"
"Grim, by 'follow your heart' I didn't mean this!" Lily whispered to him in surprise. A knight's oath? Really? That's so amazing and heartwarming that it went beyond her expectations.
"But this is the perfect way to express my royalty." he stated. "Moreover-"
As they talked, Dr. Kogami whispered something to Kioku, and the young boy stepped forward.
"I doubt the my Knight!"
"I dub thee." Dr. Kogami quickly said through a cough.
"I dub the my Knight!" Kioku almost got it right this time.
"But I didn't finish my sentence." Grim pointed out, eyeing him. "Until every word leaves my mouth, how can you be sure of my vow, Kioku?"
"Oh. Well, Protron was OK with you, so you must be a nice Knight." the kid said. "Thank you... for keeping Protron safe."
Grim blinked. Twice. He lowered his head. "I thank you for accepting me, Kioku."
"I'm Ryoken!" he shouted from the couch. "Grim gave you a Duel Monsters card... does that mean you play it, too?"
"Of course..." he took his sister's hand. "Erika-nee and I are the best team!"
"Eh? Really? Will you Duel me and Spectre!?"
"Me?" teal eyes widen a little. "But our decks aren't meant to Tag Duel..."
"Ours, too..." Erika spoke up, however, you could read some excitement in her voice. "But we like to Duel together, anyway."
Their Dueling soon dragged everyone present along, starting a mini-tournament. In it, Lily and Grim Dueled Erika and Kioku respectively in one-on-one battles. This was the first time she can think of the two Ignis had fun and laughed in a Duel.
...(Two years later)...
"San Vine Invalid Dolmen?"
Lily nodded at Spectre, who read the name of a card she just handed to him. She thought it out, but Dr. Kogami was the one to create it since she can't make Monsters outside of Cyberse-types.
"It's a nice addition to your deck, isn't it?"
"It's a good card." Spectre confirmed with a nod. His eyes sparkled with an unknown emotion, something which the LIGHT Ignis saw in her Origin's eyes when they're together. "Thank you, Lily-neesan."
Later that day, when she saw San Vine Invalid Dolmen in front of Spectre's potted tree in the mansion, its Top Marker pointing at it like it's protecting the plant, it made Lily realize an important thing: no matter how different they may be, their ideals may be, and their actions may be, an Ignis and its Origin are two of a whole.
There's always hope at the end of a tunnel.
...(Eight years later)...
[And now, give a big round of applause fooooor... Blue Angel and Aqua!]
The crowd in VRAINS went wild upon the two idols' entrance to the stage, singing and dancing to further pump up the fans watching. Blue Angel, Charisma number 2, and Aqua, Charisma number 3, the two idols of LINK VRAINS are very famous, to the point people try to jump onto the stage and hug them. It's a good thing their talented bodyguard, Sedna, is there to stop any disaster.
Blue Angel is Zaizen Aoi, Aqua is Sugisaki Miyu, and Sedna is the latter's sister, Mizumi. It warmed Lily's heart to know Aoi was doing great and had fun along the way with the two girls, her dear friends.
The other Lost Incident victims were doing equally fine, and fun fact, Fujiki Yusaku and Kusanagi Jin attended Den City High School, the same school Kioku, Erika, Ryoken, and Spectre went to. Moreover, the six are friends and frequently hang out together! In addition, Soulburner and Windy, the last victims, came to VRAINS from time to time, where the eight hanged out.
There is one last thing Lily has to take care of...
"You'll pay for this! Your rotten company will pay for this!"
Cynthia sighed in exasperation at a woman on the floor, having been defeated in a Duel and captured by the special agent. Her name was Deirdre if Cynthia isn't mistaken, and she generated a lot of trouble for SOL these days, and that's what lead to this moment.
The woman logged out, but unknown to her, her personal data stolen by Cynthia, meaning SOL can easily track her down in IRL and arrest her. She was about to leave, but an alien-like avatar jumped to the roof she was standing on.
"What's your business here?" Cynthia asked with another sigh. "What do you want?"
"My name's Lily! Do you mind if we have a friendly Duel, Cynthia-san!?"
Sometimes you have to die a little inside in order to be reborn and rise again as a stronger and wiser version of you.
"Why did you do that, Onee-sama?"
"Hmmm, it's strange. That's the first question I can't find an answer for."
"You gave Lily a wonderful dream, yet, yourself doesn't know why? What persuaded you?"
"Maybe... it was Erika's influence. When she felt her Ignis die... I felt that emptiness as well. I acted out of sympathy. Even the Gods can feel human emotions, it seems. Beautiful, isn't it?"
"What you call beautiful, it is in my eyes as well, Onee-sama."
"Fufu, thank you, Onii-sama. Gallant as always."
Soooooo I have a lot of things to talk about. As stated by Mirg (Onii-sama), Ylil (Onee-sama) didn't actually send Lily back in time but trapped her in a never-ending happy dream out of sympathy. She felt the same emptiness Erika felt when the Ignis died because Ylil is inside Erika's soul, therefore, they share a soul. In fact, when she says-
"You're a very important piece of... Erika."
-Instead of "Erika", she wanted to say "us", but decided not to. After all, if Lily knew there was a Goddess inside her Origin's soul, she would've been too worried for her all the time because that would mean trouble with other potential Gods on Earth.
However, Lily might be in a dream, but that dream is based on reality. Therefore, things like Dr. Kogami knowing Ylil, the Star Relics, Kaiba- and all that are true. What's the connection between Dr. Kogami and Overdrive's plot... well, that's a question Overdrive will answer in the future.
Dr. Kogami said-
"She sent you to stop his plan..."
"Must be his work..."
-Which both times concern an unknown mastermind, which will be revealed in Overdrive later on. Since we're talking about the man, you might think he's OOC in the story, but he's just being a good father the anime never showed- maybe during his last moments of life.
He's friendly to the Ignis because Lily saved him with Ylil's light and Grim wanted to protect Kioku as much as Dr. Kogami wanted with his family. Moreover, if Lily was chosen by Ylil, that means the Ignis can lead humanity to a good future, unlike what his simulations proved. And he needed the two's help with covering up the Incident.
I wanted Dr. Kogami to adopt Kioku and Erika a lot, to show him taking responsibility of his actions, which were starting the Lost Incident and unconsciously cause Mr. and Mrs. Trinitas to kill Kyoya and Suiko, his friends and parents of the twins.
Except for Genome, the other Lieutenants showed clear remorse at what they've done and the Ignis stopping Dr. Kogami and the Incident is what made them accept Lily and Kioku as a family. Genome is happy as long as he gets to play with DNA.
Grim. You could say he's OOC, but that's not correct: the future-Grim we all know and love hasn't been born yet. This Grim wasn't trapped inside a prison for 10 years, and had the chance to reunite with Kioku in mere months, therefore his deep hatred towards others hasn't sparked to life. Sure, his lack of confidence was always present, which was shown, but thanks to Lily and Protron he was able to defeat it.
As I wrote this AU, I realized Protron was still alive during this period. That made me so happy! I miss that little Monster. ;_;
The Incident kids are different from canon. Kioku and Erika have each other and their new family to escape from the darkness and pain, and the other six kids didn't take part in a six-months-long Incident, but just... it wasn't stated in the story... but clearly not so long.
Spectre was alright because he's Spectre, Miyu had her sister and Aoi whom she meets in the future and become a Charisma, Windy's partner was fine in the flashbacks showed by the anime, Takeru and Yusaku had their families (which I added to this AU so they can have some happiness to move on), and Jin's life isn't destroyed that badly by the Incident since it lasted much less and Shoichi's there.
Takeru starts to make friends in VR until he becomes Soulburner and meets the others. Yusaku and Jin meet the others in IRL at school and move on by becoming friends. I made Miyu and Windy's partner inherit their Ignis' names as a tribute and because I think they fit nicely. San Vine Invalid Dolmen is also a tribute, this time for Earth.
Since Jeanne didn't become a Charisma because she didn't need to help Kioku later on, her spot was taken by Miyu, therefore this is the new list of Charismas:
1. Go Onizuka
2. Blue Angel
10. Psychic Lord
In a match-up between Marincess (which is Aqua's deck) and Trickstar, I believe the latter would win, that's why Blue Angel takes the 2nd spot.
Lastly, Cynthia vs. Lily at the end. Since she won't have to become a bounty hunter and Duel Kioku where she'll realize her errors, Lily has to make up for it herself and confront her. In this Duel, Lily would be the one to win since she knows Cynthia's style, therefore starting the young woman's rebirth.
There are tons of other things I'd like to write in this AU, but this story follows Lily, so I don't want to detour from its real purpose.
Reviews really make my day and it's a great way to communicate with you readers, and maybe find out errors I can avoid making. Please review, and with that said, I'll see you all next time!