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this is my last confession

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Cause when you’re fifteen and somebody tells you they love you
You’re gonna believe them

“The world is too full of evil. It can’t be protected or saved.”

The words were a revelation. Yuuma repeated them a few times, liking the way they sounded more and more. That was truth that he had been searching for all this time, as he dueled, as he fought, as he suffered. What was the purpose of it? Why had he been chosen for this?

It was for release. The world was monstrous. Innocent people could just die, no matter how much they deserved to live, and evil people had too many chances. But he could save them, he could save everyone, now that he had the power.

“So I’ll use the Code to destroy the world. Forever.”

+++++

No, I misheard, Nasch thought. Yuuma wouldn’t say that. Yuuma would never say that.

Yuuma was smiling, but it was an empty look, belied by the dark aura that was coalescing around his face, and by the faint red glow in his eyes. It was like smoke, the aura, and it obscured Yuuma’s eyes, leaving Nasch to see the red glow like embers in a banked fire, and below Yuuma’s wide smile.

“Don’t worry, Shark.” Yuuma advanced on him, and Nasch froze; maybe he should have run, but the tenderness in Yuuma’s voice held him there. “I won’t destroy you.

“Yuuma, what are you saying,” Nasch began.

“I’m gonna create a beautiful new world, Shark, isn’t that great?”

No, it isn’t great. You — You’ve — If Yuuma could break, then what hope was there? What could Nasch, hands stained with blood, soul steeped in darkness, accomplish if Yuuma, with all his grace and mercy, could decide the world wasn’t worth saving? He’d been depending on Yuuma, and he hadn’t realized it until now. He hadn’t known, until this moment when Yuuma did not immediately absolve him, that he’d been waiting for Yuuma to fix everything.

Yuuma was waiting for him to speak; he still had that crazy smile on his face. If Nasch didn’t snap him out of it, he would do something terrible. He would wake up and regret everything.

Nasch glanced down at his hands. Yuuma had held them, earlier. If he couldn’t use them to save Yuuma, then there was no point in having used them to kill Don Thousand.

“What are you saying, Yuuma? If you’re not going to bring the others back, then there’s no point in my being alive.”

“You’re abandoning me?”

For a moment, Nasch wanted to take back his words, just so that Yuuma would go back to smiling. The moment passed, but it shook him; no matter how much Nasch pushed, shredding every last piece of his human life, it seemed Yuuma was always there, in some corner of his heart that couldn’t be wiped clean or thrown away.

“The Yuuma that I knew wouldn’t destroy anyone. So if you’re going to do that, then I don’t know who you are. Don’t spare me.”

This isn’t a version of you I can live with, Yuuma. Come back to your senses…I can’t go on alone any further. Without you I…

“I can’t…I can’t do that…if I bring the world back, then I might…I might fail them again…they might die again…at least this way, no one can be hurt!”

“You won’t miss them?”

Alit and Gilag and Mizael and Durbe and Merag — god, Merag — and the Arclights and Kaito and others, too, picked off because they’d dared to stand with Yuuma. Nasch couldn’t even let himself think about how everyone was gone, how he’d murdered innocent people because he’d been misled, how his sister and Durbe were out of reach as soon as he’d found them again. He would collapse if he dwelt on it.

He knew how Yuuma felt, how guilt could get stuck in your veins, leaden your blood, leave you paralyzed. But it was alright, Nasch thought. It would be all right. Yuuma didn’t need to be afraid that anyone else would die. The war was over.

Yuuma had already saved everyone.

His glowing eyes, his cloudy aura…they weren’t frightening anymore. Yuuma was hiding, Nasch thought. He wasn’t insane. He was just scared.

“What?”

“You won’t miss all the friends you’re leaving in hell?”

“But…I’ll have you…”

Won’t I? It went unspoken, but Nasch heard it all the same.

“I can protect just one person easily, right?”

“You can bring them all back, Yuuma. Don’t worry. I…I can…help you protect them…”

The aura around Yuuma’s face began to fade.

Through the black fog, Nasch saw the tears in Yuuma’s eyes well up, glow, fall.

“Promise?”

“I promise.”

Nasch reached out, and pulled Yuuma — Dark Zexal — whoever he was closer to him, until Yuuma’s hands were on Nasch’s mouthless face, and maybe he could feel Nasch’s attempt at a comforting expression, because he traced over the skin there gently, over and over. He bit his lip, like he was trying not to sob. The dark aura was changing, black to gold, like the sun was coming out inside him. Around them the world was beginning to shake.

Nasch dug his fingers into Yuuma’s back, and Yuuma cried, the tears filled with sparks, and where they fell grass began to grow.

“Don’t go,” Yuuma whispered. Nasch nodded.

He didn’t.