This was originally written in May of 2018.

This is an AU of an AU I've spent a long time writing. I don't plan on uploading the actual AU itself here because there's so much of it and that would be a lot of work (there's a fic with like. over 40 chapters. Maybe I'll upload snippets of it here and there one day, but that's not a guarantee). The AU itself comprises of all the yugioh series and brings them all into one universe, putting everyone in one huge city with the places they all live in canon being like, suburbs/sections of the city. This AU of that AU, however, only comprises of GX and 5DS, so I'll only explain the GX and 5DS stuff here. If you're interested in reading the whole original AU, you can track it down on ao3 on tatersalad5001. Look for the series Miracle Synchro Fusion, and, if you're interested, DDR - Different Dimension Reincarnation.

This AU is post-GX and pre-5Ds. Everything in GX has happened, but everything in 5Ds has not yet happened. Jesse is related to both Leo and Luna, and winds up babysitting them sometimes (pretty often). Established relationships in this series are Jaden/Yubel (though they are still fused, and sort of the same person. Sometimes they might be more Jaden, sometimes they might be more Yubel. But they always look like Jaden. I think in this story it doesn't really come up much) and Jesse/Jaden/Chazz (they're all dating each other) so like the romance aspect is never really huge in the AU, I'm not a big romance writer, if that's not your thing I won't judge you for leaving.

The AU of the AU, which is where this story comes in, puts 5Ds in the beginning of the series, the Signer stuff starting to happen. It's still post-GX, just imagine it as early 5Ds with Leo and Luna's babysitter, Jesse, as well as Jaden and Chazz being there. Same established relationships apply (it's still really not super romantic because I'm still not a big romance writer), and that should about cover it. Essentially, as I had been writing the original AU (which is still ongoing), I had an urge to write Jesse and Jaden and Chazz being there during early 5Ds events but didn't want to commit to it being canon to the original AU, so I made an AU of my original AU, and I don't know. It feels less complicated in my heart than it is to explain.

Don't worry about it too much. Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoy!

Well, this was as good a time as any to step in. Jaden took a step forward, waving. "Hey! You're the dragon, right?" He could hear Yubel snark in his mind, It's painfully obvious that this is Ancient Fairy Dragon. "I've got a bone to pick with you. Or, uh, maybe a scale?"

Ancient Fairy Dragon turned to look him in the eye as she measured him up. She bristled. "How did a creature of darkness get here?"

"Aw, come on. You know as well as I do that I'm not part of the bad kind of darkness. Sort of like how you're not a spirit of the bad kind of light." Ancient Fairy Dragon gave no answer. Definitely the wrong response. He swallowed and held his hands up in surrender. "Or maybe not?" he backpedaled. "I promise, I'm not here to hurt anyone. I helped Luna get back here. I just wanna talk, man, I swear."

"Then we'll talk," Ancient Fairy Dragon decided. "And after that, it may be best if you leave. No matter what you say, I can't risk this world falling into darkness. No matter how...friendly the darkness may pretend to be."

Jaden nodded. "Fair, fair."

The Fortune Cup was over. Rex Goodwin had all the pieces of the pieces that he needed.

The true purpose of the tournament had been realized: Goodwin had wanted to learn the identities of the four other Signers chosen by the Crimson Dragon. Everyone invited to the tournament had been a possible candidate; he learned their strategies, their cards, saw their motivations and what made them who they were now. Everything was to his advantage. It was that much easier to convince them he was completely on his side. To trust him. He gave out just enough truth to earn that trust, but held back enough to keep the upper hand.

Yes, he knew the identities of the other four Signers. All participants of the tournament had been possible candidates. But, of course, there had been participants in the tournament that weren't Signers. For some of these candidates, the reveal (or lack thereof) had been disappointing. There had been some truly...interesting duelists in the mix. Duelists with diverse strategies that would have been a huge asset to the Signers now, but would be easy enough to crush when the time came.

Among the candidates had been a certain Jaden Yuki, who had turned out not to be a Signer in the end. It was somewhat of a relief, at least for a time. The boy was a formidable duelist, and had he been a Signer, he may not have been so easily taken down. But the relief wasn't meant to last.

It appeared that Jaden was a friend of one of the actual Signers. He now possessed information that should only be known to the Signers, and he seemed intent on acting upon it. He knew about the Dark Signers. He was trying to stop them, before the Signers could even take action. And he was becoming a bigger and bigger thorn in Goodwin's side.

"Lazar." Goodwin stood up, folding his arms behind his back. "I will be out for the rest of the day. I have business to attend to."

Perhaps it was time for Jaden Yuki to be stopped.

Jaden Yuki was having a hell of a time getting his game on.

It was just...look, it's hard to get your game on in a situation like this. You know, when you're dueling a guy with a glowing spider mark on his arm, when you're surrounded by spooky purple fire, when your opponent's using 'Dark Synchro Monsters', whatever those are, and when dueling becomes a life-or-death situation. Jaden had had enough of dueling for his life long ago, back in school. He'd never wanted to be in that situation again, but against all odds, here he was again.

Though, maybe it wasn't all that surprising that he was doing this again. Jaden tended to attract danger like the plague. There was a reason he spent so much time alone.

He'd been hoping to take down a Dark Signer, but...Jaden had a feeling this duelist wasn't one of them. Something just didn't feel right. It was a shame; Leo and Luna were just kids, they were too young to get mixed up in all of this Signer business. If Jaden could at least take out one Dark Signer himself, then the twins would be that much safer.

But that was only if he could take down this Dark Faker first.

As Jaden stared up at his opponent's monster, he had the sinking feeling that this would be a tough win to pull off. This Dark Synchro Monster was already giving him a lot of trouble. He couldn't use any cards to counter its attacks, and if he managed to destroy it, his opponent could just use its effect to resurrect it. He'd need a miracle to win this duel, and while Jaden had come out of worse situations on top, he was still nervous.

It all depended on this next draw.

There wasn't any point in drawing this out. Jaden drew his next card and glanced at it as he added it to his hand.

Yubel hummed with approval, and he smiled. Maybe with this, he stood a chance after all.

"Jay!" Jaden whipped his head around to see Jesse and Chazz running towards him. He swore under his breath. Of course they came looking for him. He should've expected it, but he'd hoped that they wouldn't, at least not until the duel was over.

"Stay back!" Jaden warned them. Chazz rose an eyebrow, as if to say Thanks for that, I was definitely going to touch the spooky purple fire. "You shouldn't have come here, it's too dangerous!"

"You should've learned by now to stop trying to do everything on your own, slacker!" Chazz called back. "We want to help, you know!"

"He's right," Jesse added. "But you got this, Jay! I know you can win this!" He held his arm up so that Jaden could see him giving him a thumbs up.

Jaden's opponent guffawed. "Well, isn't this interesting! Your friends are here to help. Not that it'll do you much good, but maybe it can help me out!"

"What do you mean?" Jaden demanded.

"This soul cannot be sacrificed if I lose this Shadow Duel," his opponent answered. "But the shadows won't be happy without the feast they desire. Perhaps we can make other arrangements, and the shadows can feed on other souls here? Or they could even take the soul of that Signer you cherish..."

Jaden grit his teeth, his grip on the cards in his hand tightening. Damn it. He'd made this mistake before, hadn't he? Back in Dark World, he'd sacrificed his friends for the sake of winning the duel. For saving himself so he could find someone else. Now, it seemed the universe was testing him once again. If he won this duel, he could go on to fight the Dark Signers himself. But he knew where that left Chazz and Jesse, and Leo and Luna.

"Your cheerleader squad can't help you now," his opponent taunted. "Make your move; we both know it'll be your last."

Jaden glared at him with a scowl. His opponent was right, they both knew it. When would his friends learn to stop believing so blindly in his abilities? There was no loophole in this. He came here alone for a reason. At least when he was dueling alone, he could make sure his friends were safe.

He was no fool. He'd made the wrong choice before, but not this time. He'd learned from his mistakes. Apparently his decision was visible on his face- his opponent's grin grew wider. Shadow Duels, why did it always have to be Shadow Duels?

He knew it was coming. But still, as his life points reached zero, and his life with it, he gasped. Jaden fell to his knees. The duel was over.

Jaden didn't hear his friends screaming for him. Jaden didn't hear his opponent's jeering. All he saw were the shadows surrounding him. The shadows were unbiased; they remained merciless even towards The Supreme King. They were all he could see, all he could hear.

No. It couldn't end here.

Why not?

He still had so much to do. He had to stop the Dark Signers. Keep his friends safe, the twins safe, the world safe. Even if it meant putting himself in harm's way over and over. He had to keep going, keep fighting. He had to...

He had to...

He had to maintain balance. He had to fight back against the Light. He had to protect the Darkness. Ever since the Fortune Cup, there'd been so much light in Domino City. Far too much light in Domino City. He had t . . .

And then, everything faded, and all Jaden knew was darkness.

Something deep inside of him recognized this was wrong. Something inside of him knew this wasn't right, didn't want this at all. Whatever part it was, he couldn't tell, but it refused to sit still. It sent out a friend, knowing who exactly could set this right. And, unable to do anything else, it waited.


Balance between the Darkness and the Light.

This was Jaden's main concern as his powers opened a temporary portal between dimensions.

Of course this was his focus. This was his purpose, after all: maintaining balance. For far too long, Light had been far too bright in this world. Especially now, with that wretched Crimson Dragon showing itself. Everywhere Jaden looked, Domino City's light was blinding. There was no balance, no darkness to counteract it, and that simply couldn't stand. Jaden would have to take matters into his own hands. His own darkness was more than enough to match the Light's hold on this city.

For now, the best course of action was to handicap the Crimson Dragon's servants. The Crimson Dragon itself was illusive, only appearing in this world for brief periods of time, and Jaden had no interest in tracking it down himself. That would be too much effort for too little reward. Its dragon servants, however, remained in this world for longer, standing alongside their chosen Signers. Taking care of these dragons would be more productive. One in particular, Jaden knew, also lived in spirit form in its own designated dimension. She'd been taken down before, so taking her down again would be child's play. And with her spirit locked away, her chosen Signer would become useless. The Light would become that much weaker.

This course of action decided, Jaden smiled. It was time to let himself loose on this dimension.

Ancient Fairy Dragon recognized the source of this darkness. Immediately, she recognized the boy that followed Luna the last time she saw her. She let out a quiet growl. No creature of darkness could ever be trusted to keep their word. She saw this coming, but it hurt all the same. If only she'd been able to guide Luna to not trust this person.

Though, she had to relent, while she recognized the source of this darkness, something about it was off. Something about this boy was off. What had changed? There was something more malicious in this darkness that she hadn't sensed before. An actual intent to corrupt and harm that had been missing before, though the potential had always been there. Was the boy not himself, or had their earlier meeting been a really good act?

It didn't matter. It didn't justify this attack, not in her eyes. Her forest had already been in peril, was already decaying from Darkness' influence. With the forest in this state, Ancient Fairy Dragon as not at peak strength, and this darkness was overwhelming. No matter how much she struggled and fought back, she couldn't stop herself from being sealed away. She couldn't stop the corruption of her fellow monsters, or the destruction of the forest. She watched it all fall, unable to do anything.

Please, Luna, she thought. Please protect the forest.

Now, Jaden recognized, with one of the Crimson Dragon's servants out of the picture, Darkness and Light were on a more even playing field. Still, there was more to be done. This town's Light was still far too bright.

At some point, he made contact with the Spider. The Spider gave him a card, which he recognized as the dragon he'd sealed away. Since he'd been the one to imprison her, he was the only person who'd be able to make full use of this card. Ancient Fairy Dragon - a Synchro monster. He shrugged. He knew of these Synchro monsters, but still didn't know how to use them himself, had no means to. Not that it mattered. His deck was perfectly capable as it was.


Balance between Darkness and Light.

In order to maintain that balance, Jaden was more than ready to bring the Light to its knees.

When Jesse and Chazz realized Jaden was missing, they had followed after him as fast they could. They were aware of the situation with the Dark Signers, and they knew Jaden; where he'd gone was obvious. They should've kept a closer eye on him. Of course Jaden would've tried to take this situation on on his own.

It hadn't taken them all that long to find him. The purple, glowing flames made it obvious. But when they got there, the duel appeared to be nearing its end. They ignored Jaden's protests that they shouldn't have come. Even if they couldn't duel, they'd support him to the end. They couldn't hear anything the Dark Signer was saying, but it didn't matter. It'd been dumb of Jaden to try to do everything alone. But Jaden was an excellent duelist and always came through in the end. They knew he'd make it out on top.

So when Jaden fell to the ground, his life points depleting to zero, Jesse couldn't hold back the scream rising up in his throat. He wanted to move, but his body as frozen in place. Next to him, Chazz was immobile, silent. All he could do was stare. Neither of them wanted to believe the sight in front of them, but they couldn't deny it, either. They knew this was a Shadow Duel. And they had to accept Jaden lost.

If Jaden heard Jesse's scream, he didn't show it. Purple flames closed in on him, and in an instant, he was gone.

"JADEN!" Jesse called out, but he received no response.

Jaden Yuki was gone.

Jaden Yuki was dead.

The flames burned out into nothing. At some point, the Dark Signer left. Soon, after an eternity, Jesse and Chazz were alone, staring at an empty spot that wouldn't be filled again anytime soon. It couldn't be.

Jaden Yuki was gone.

It was hard to accept, impossible to accept, but eventually, they had to. Eventually, they had to face reality. Jaden was gone, but the fight wasn't over. The Dark Signers were still out there, and the Signers were, too. Jesse and Chazz both knew the Signers, at least somewhat; Luna was a relative of Jesse's, and they'd grown rather close to her and her brother recently. Her fight was their fight, too, and they couldn't just stand idle while Luna and her friends risked their lives. Neither could Jaden. The twins...they were going to be devastated by this news.

Jesse felt hollow as they returned to homebase. His eyes were probably red, but if they were, Chazz didn't bring attention to it, nor did anyone else. Chazz himself was still extremely silent, seemingly incapable of saying anything at all at the moment. Jesse couldn't blame him. He could feel all kinds of emotions swelling up in him, yet at the same time, it was just empty. It was too soon. He still couldn't process whatever had just happened.

He wouldn't get the chance for awhile. There wasn't time. When the Dark Signers were all defeated, there would be time to grieve, but for now, there was work to be done.

He held Luna close as she sobbed into his chest, her new friend Yusei doing the same for Leo nearby. They were too young for this. They shouldn't have to deal with something like this. No one should.

Yet time marched on, and the Dark Signers made their presence more and more known. They had to be dealt with, and there was no time to waste. The Signers team made their plan; they each had a tower they needed to go to, in order to shut down the Ener-D reactors. Each of the Signer dragons was associated with a specific tower, so they'd split up to make their move. (Luna was the only Signer missing her dragon. It was in the posession of the Dark Signers, and they were sure they'd be able to recover Ancient Fairy Dragon along the way). Jesse and Chazz insisted on accompanying the twins, and no one objected. They couldn't enact their plan now, but soon. Soon.

Jesse and Chazz walked home together, hand firmly in hand, silently reminding themselves that they still had each other. They weren't alone. As long as they had each other...

The train of thought in Jesse's mind was interrupted. Giant glowing lines appeared in the ground below them, and stretched out far. As the lights began to break through the ground's surface, Jesse instinctively jumped back, away from them. Chazz's hand was still in his, and he tried to pull Chazz with him. But he was a second too late. Suddenly, his hand was closed around empty air. The person who'd been walking alongside him moments ago was gone. Chazz was gone. Chazz and Jaden were both gone, they were both-

"Chazz," Jesse whispered, as if saying his name would bring him back. But, of course, he remained alone. He looked bitterly down at the glowing light spilling out of the ground.

The Warrior, he thought, though he had no idea where the thought had come from. A title, perhaps, belonging to whatever the source of these lights was. It's been so fast that he hadn't even seen it happen, Chazz had been there one second and was gone the next. Whatever this…Warrior was supposed to be, it had taken Chazz from him, and possibly it'd been the Dark Signer that took away Jaden, too. It was like everyone was being picked off, one by one, and he didn't know whether to scream or cry. He didn't have the energy for either anymore.

For the briefest, cruel second, he was reminded of Dark World, but he shook off the memory. It wasn't his fault this time. There was no time to dwell on it now.

Something on Jesse's shoulder purred. He reached up and rubbed under Ruby's chin. With Ruby's help, he made his way home.

His stomach growled. They'd been planning on a late dinner: leftover fried shrimp.

The thought made him feel sick. He fought against the tears springing to his eyes.

He tried to get some sleep instead, but it wasn't meant to be. A few hours later, he was still awake, staring at the dark ceiling, hyperfocused on how quiet the apartment was. He turned on a radio at one point, but the noise was just as bad. Everything felt wrong. It wasn't long before he shut the radio back off and gave up on sleep. Ruby guided him to Leo and Luna's place instead.

Their time was running short. As hard as it was to keep going, they couldn't wait anymore. The Dark Signers needed to be stopped now, the Signers had to make their move now.

At first, they hadn't been sure where they were going. Luna and Leo weren't sure of the way, and Jesse didn't trust himself to not be lost. A few minutes after they set out, Luna paused and tilted her head. She stayed quiet for a few seconds.

"Kuribon's friend told her we need to go this way," she then said, pointing backwards with her thumb.

"Kuribon's friend? Who is that?" Jesse frowned. "It could be someone tryin' to lead us in the wrong direction."

Luna shook her head. "Kuribon didn't say. She won't tell me. But she trusts them, she really thinks we should turn around."

"Well..." Jesse shrugged. "I guess it's the best we've got to go on."

Jesse gripped Leo and Luna's hands tightly in his own. He refused to let them go alone just as strongly as Leo refused to stay home. Luna didn't mind; she wasn't keen on putting them in danger, but she was afraid to do this on her own. Jesse believed in her, though, in both of the twins. They were stronger than they realized.

Luna vanished just before their destination was in sight, but this was different. It wasn't like what had happened to Chazz. She was in the spirit world, the one Ancient Fairy Dragon was in. She would be fine, but…

"I can duel the Dark Signer in her place, at least until she comes back," Leo told Jesse. "I'm her brother, it's my job to protect her."

He hated leaving this up to the kids, but Jesse knew that if anyone could do this, they could. If he tried to involve himself any more than he already had, it'd probably just make things worse.

They were at their destination, but no one was there.

"This Dark Signer guy isn't seriously late, is he?" Leo groaned, tapping his foot against he ground. "Let's just get it over with already!"

"Neither of you are the Signer I seek," a voice called out. Jesse quickly scanned the area; he still couldn't see anyone. "You should leave, now, while you still can."

"No way!" Leo yelled back. "I'm gonna beat you Dark Signers before Luna comes back. Then she won't have to deal with any of you!"

"Very well, then. I can't turn down such a willing sacrifice to the Immortals, now, can I?"

"You can't decide I've lost before the duel's even started!" Leo shot back, his voice rising.

Jesse really, really hated that the kids had to be involved in this.

Finally, a figure stepped out of the shadows. As it came into view, Jesse realized it must be the Dark Signer they were looking for. But once they were close enough to duel Leo, his heart simultaneously felt frozen and like t was exploding.

It couldn't be.

The person standing ahead of them had to be Jaden Yuki. He didn't look quite the same, of course: his eyes were considerably darker, red wing-like marks had appeared on his cheeks, and he was dressed in a strange dark robe. But it was unmistakably Jaden.

The thought flashed through Jesse's mind again. The Warrior. No...

No, no, no. Tears began to slide down his cheeks without permission. No. He couldn't accept this. This couldn't be real! But the pieces began putting themselves together in his mind even through his denial. No. He knew by now how the Dark Signers reached their positions, and Jaden was a prime candidate. If Jaden had summoned an Earthbound Immortal back then, then Chazz had been sacrificed to... No!

It couldn't be.

Leo stared at the person standing across from him. He'd been expecting a Dark Signer; he was willing take any and all of them down if it meant he could protect Luna, if it meant he could do something to actually help. But instead, he saw Jaden. And yeah, Jaden looked a little different, but if Jaden was here...

"Jaden!" Leo didn't think he'd be able to keep the smile off his face for a long time. "You came back!" Jesse and Chazz must've been mistaken. Maybe Jaden hadn't lost that duel after all, or even if he had then he hadn't lost everything, he just-

A hand placed itself on his shoulder. Leo looked up at Jesse, who was now gripping his shoulder tightly.

Jesse was crying.

Whatever emotion Leo was reading from his face, it was obvious that he wasn't happy.

He looked at Jaden again. If Jaden had reacted at all to his outburst, Leo must've missed it. Now, he was just activating his duel disk and waiting. Leo slid his deck into place and activated his own- it used to be too big for him, but Jesse had managed to get a mechanic to fix it for him. (It was funny, now that mechanic was his good friend Yusei, another Signer). Leo sniffed loudly. Jesse was allowed to cry, there was nothing wrong with that, but if he was going to protect Luna, he couldn't cry, too. He had a job to do.

"If, uh," Leo bit his lip as he looked up at Jesse. "If this is really happening, then, uh, you might not want to stand right here during the duel."

Jesse blinked, and almost mechanically let go of Leo's shoulder and walked off to the side until he was a safe distance from the duel. The duel disks engaged into duel mode and Leo drew his starting hand; he was going first. Almost instantly, glowing light burst out of the ground around them. Were these supposed to be those 'Nazca Lines'?

Leo analyzed his starting hand, then sucked in a breath and looked up at Jaden again. If he was really dueling a Dark Signer here, then he needed to expect Dark Synchros and Earthbound Immortals, right? Though, he wasn't sure if Jaden was someone that would use an Earthbound Immortal, he'd always been more into Fusion Monsters than anything, but, but- okay, Leo could admit that he hated this. It was okay that he hated having to duel against Jaden like this, that Jaden had somehow been turned into a Dark Signer, right? He had no idea how everything ended up like this, but he really wished it hadn't happened like this.

Jaden was- Jaden was so many things he aspired to be someday, and Jesse and Chazz were, too. Jaden had always gone out of his way to be nice to Leo, even though Leo didn't have any cool powers like anyone else, and he was always willing to give Leo more dueling pointers, too. Leo loved Jaden, he loved all three of them. Why did Jaden have to end up being their enemy? And not just that, Jaden was a really good duelist. Chazz and Jesse were too, but Jaden had dueling powers that most people lacked. How was Leo, mediocre duelist not even chosen by the Crimson Dragon, supposed to defeat Jaden Yuki?

"It's too late to back out now," Jaden called out. Apparently Leo's hesitation had gone on longer than he'd cared for. "If you're too scared to duel now, then you should have thought of that before."

"I'm not scared!" Leo shot back. Yeah, he wasn't. This wasn't fear, this was just realism. There was no way he was gonna win this one. But like it or not, he'd have to figure out a way to win anyhow. If he didn't win this duel, then Luna... He shook his head. "Jaden what are you doing? You wanted to stop the Dark Signers! You're not supposed to be one of them, you're supposed to be on our side!"

"'Sides' aren't important," Jaden answered dully. "Domino City's Light has been far too bright for far too long. I aim to correct that. It's nothing personal."

"But it is! All of this is personal!" Leo insisted. "You're my friend, we're practically family. If I have to duel you like this, then fine, but I don't want to do this! And if you really are Jaden, you shouldn't want to, either!"

As he spoke, Jaden winced. His expression was unreadable from where Leo was standing, but he held a hand up to his ahead, applying pressure to his temples. He closed his eyes. "Leo?" His voice was small all of the sudden, a pained edge to it.


"I'm so sorry, Leo." Jaden's eyes remained closed. He was talking a little faster now. "I should've known better. This isn't the first time I let my goals cloud my judgement. This isn't the first time I let myself get turned against my friends. I don't want to do this, either, but-"

In what Leo could only describe as Jaden cutting himself off, he opened his eyes and shot Leo a cruel smile, his hand falling back fo his side.

"Jaden Yuki doesn't get a choice in this anymore," the Dark Signer went on coldly. "He knows that better than anyone. You may not be a Signer, but the Netherworld appreciates your sacrifice nonetheless."

Jesse folded his arms across his chest.

The duel unfolding in front of him was in full swing by now. Leo kept trying to talk to talk to Jaden, reason with him, but the self-proclaimed Emissary of the Netherworld possessing Jaden wasn't having any of it. It was Leo's turn right now. He'd just taken control of Jaden's Elemental Hero Neos from the graveyard and was giving Contact Fusion a shot to fuse it with Power Tool Dragon. It didn't appear to be working, but Leo didn't look too upset about it. This still left him with two powerful monsters on his side of the field, and on Jaden's side, face-downs he hadn't been using since the duel truly started.

Jesse pressed his lips together, dug his right foot into the ground. As Jaden's life points dwindled closer and closer to zero, and he did almost nothing to stop it, he was forced to accept that something here wasn't right. Jaden urgently played a Draining Shield, and Jesse was then able to put his finger on the issue.

The Emissary of the Netherworld trying to force Jaden to put everything he had into this duel didn't have full control. Jaden was fighting back against it, and he was trying to throw the duel for Leo.

That was...that was good? They needed to win this duel against Jaden. They needed to defeat all the Dark Signers so that they could save Domino City. Which was good. But...but Jesse had seen how the last duel with a Dark Signer ended. He knew these were Shadow Duels, where the loser lost their soul. Jesse certainly wasn't saying he wanted Leo to lose his soul, not at all, quite the opposite actually. But if Jaden was throwing the match, then he'd lose, and that would mean...

Damn it. One of Jesse's hands closed into a fist. Was it really going to be like this? Was fate really going to give Jaden back, only to take him away again?

A bright light next to Leo distracted him from his thoughts. The light dulled to reveal Luna, smiling; she'd been successful in her quest in the spirit world, it seemed. She took one look at Jaden, though, and her smile immediately turned into a frown.

"I guess I figured out why Kuribon wouldn't tell me who her friend was," she mumbled. "It must've been Winged Kuriboh."

At that, she insisted on joining in the duel on Leo's side. Jaden gave no objections; in fact, on his next turn, he played a card effect that required him to send a monster in his Extra Deck to his graveyard. Jesse definitely knew what he was up to and this whole thing was making him antsy. He needed this duel to be over, but it couldn't end, because any outcome to this duel wouldn't be good. When Luna used an effect to summon Ancient Fairy Dragon from Jaden's graveyard, Jesse couldn't even be surprised. If Jaden really was trying, he never would've sent Ancient Fairy Dragon to his graveyard, or even included her in his deck. His deck barely had any uses for her at all.

"Ancient Fairy Dragon, attack!" Luna shouted. With a roar, Ancient Fairy Dragon made a direct hit, and Jaden's life points depleted to zero.

Jesse began to rush towards Jaden immediately. The twins did the same, and got to him first. Leo tried to give Jaden back the Elemental Hero Neos he took control of during the duel, but Jaden waved him off.

"Keep 'em," Jaden mumbled. "Thanks for beating me. You're both gonna be great someday, way better than I ended up being."

Jesse slowed down as he got close. Once Jaden heard his footsteps, he looked up before throwing something at Jesse's feet. A card. Yubel's card. Her duel spirit would meet the same fate as Jaden, but…

"Take care of her for me." A tear fell down Jaden's cheek. Tears were freely streaming from Jesse's own eyes now, falling dangerously close to Yubel's card, but never quite close enough to make contact. "I guess I'm still not strong enough to control my own darkness, huh?" Jaden let out a choked laugh. "I'm so sorry, about everything. Stay safe, and keep them safe, too."

Words failing him, Jesse nodded.

Jaden raised his arm and pointed at Jesse with two fingers, in his usual salute after a duel ended. "Well…that's game."

Jesse, Leo, and Luna were forced to watch as Jaden crumbled into dust and disappeared right in front of him.

Jesse rubbed at his eyes before picking Yubel's card up from the ground. "…That's game," he choked out in a whisper.

I know I wrote this in 2018 but 'Jaden tended to attract danger like the plague' hits different in 2021 than it did in 2018.