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Promise Me

Chapter Text

Yuma was curled up in his hammock the night after Shark’s death, thinking and reminiscing. Various cards and containers of food laid scattered across his mini table, long since forgotten. The rest of his room was bare, the important things shoved into the corners of the walls.


It was hard now, being left alone to his own thoughts. Before, he always had something to keep him busy. Whether it was catching up on school assignments, dueling the Barians in death matches, or simply worrying about Astral, he always had something. Now that school was over and everything had finally died down. Yuma was all by himself. Even Astral had left after using the Numeron Code, taking it back with him to his own world.


It’s not like his other friends that remained didn’t matter. Of course they did. They had all been through too much for Yuma to just suddenly not care for them. It was just hard, knowing that some of them were missing. Some of the most important people in his life.


The stars were bright that night, light filtering through the curtains and shining onto the numerous dusty artifacts in the room. Normally, this would be peaceful, but tonight it was just a painful reminder of all that he had lost. He could imagine the seven stars that represented his former friends shining brighter than the others, Dubhe, Alioth, Mizar, Megrez, Phecda, Merak, ...and Benetnasch.


During the whole fight with the Barians, Yuma held on to the naive hope that after all was said and done, they could be brought back. He would always imagine days in the future where they would all come together to hang out. He would be able to duel them all, get chased by Rio for calling her “Shark’s sis” again, and hang out with Shark and Vector, like how it was before the whole Barian onslaught.


That was the one thing that kept him going on even the darkest of days. When visions of failing everyone he had ever cared about or seeing the shattered faces of his friends’ deaths would plague him, he would desperately cling onto the image, allowing it to give him the strength he needed to move on. But now that Astral was gone, along with the one card that he put all his dreams on, his hope had been shattered.


No more Alito, and the fiery battles they used to share, countering move after move. Not dueling for anything but the thrill of it. No more Dumon, and his strange sense of wisdom from reading so many books. No more Mizar, and the epic duels he would have with Kite, both trying to show the other that they were the true Galaxy Eyes Master. No more Girag, and the weird pop-star songs that he loved to watch, even in the middle of duels. No more Rio, and all the play fights they would get into, forcing everyone in the whole area to laugh.


...No more Vector. Even if most of their time had been full of anguish and betrayal, Yuma still believed that the fun fan-boy Ray was still in there somewhere. He had brought it out, but only at the very end, at the expense of Vector’s life.


And....there was no more Shark. That one stung the most. After only their first duel, Yuma had felt a strong bond with the aquatic duelist. They had been through so many things together. The tag team duel with Scorch and Chills had been only the beginning, when Shark had gifted him his Armored XYZ card.


Yuma still had the card, and would sometimes run his fingers over it again and again when times got hard, reminding him of better times. It had crinkles on it from all the use, but it still smelt faintly like the sea, like Shark.


Shark, the one who was always there for him.


Like the time during the semifinals in the WDC World Carnival, when Shark had been brainwashed by Vetrix. Yuma had put it all the line, put everything at risk, just to save his friend. Shark had played that trap card, knowing it would make him lose, to make sure Yuma didn’t suffer anymore. And then when Shark laid there after the duel, stating that he could hear the other boy’s voice the whole time...Yuma felt happier than he had in a long time.


Soon after, was the three way duel against Dr. Faker with Kite and Shark. He had Yuma’s back the whole time, trying to keep him safe. He even pushed Zexal away from a boulder that day, regardless of the fact that the armor would’ve protected the two just fine.


Skip ahead a couple of weeks, to the time after Mizar’s duel, when Shark had tried grabbing Yuma as he was falling from a cliffside. He had failed, which caused the both of them to fall, but he had tried. And then, when they were both sent to the hospital and Yuma couldn’t stop his fears, Shark stole his key and forced a duel to bring him back to his senses.


Shark was there for anything and everything in Yuma’s life, and it hurts now. It hurts to think about pretty much any important part of his life, because Shark was there, either directly or indirectly.


{Silent tears ran through the once optimistic boy’s face, as he thought about the one who cared for him the most.}




A couple of weeks later, Yuma was standing alone outside, a thoughtful look in his eyes as he watched people bustling around, preparing for tonight’s event.


Every year in Heartland, there was a huge festival, people traveling from all over to attend it. It had the typical things like booths full of assorted foods, souvenirs, and games. The whole thing lasted a week, but what made this particular festival stand out was that they hosted different major events every day. There was a balloon launch, a major-scale gift swapping, and other cool, fun things. None of those things really appealed to Yuma in his current state, but today was special. It was the night of the spirit boat procession.


Before this morning, Yuma hadn’t even attempted to leave his room, let alone his house. About a week before the beginning of the festival, his close friends would come by continuously. There would be different ones day by day to try to get him out of his “depression” and do things out of the house like eating ice cream and whatnot.


When that didn’t work, people he barely knew started coming over too, those whose hearts were touched by the fiery boy and his “feeling the flow” spirit.


The Arclight brothers, The Number’s gang, Nelson, Mr. Kay, and so many more had come, some of them already knowing what was wrong. The others who weren’t involved had noticed at least something though the few times he was in public during the inter-dimensional war.


Even Kite had come over, on his knees in front of Yuma’s hammock as he practically begged him to at least take care of himself.






“Yuma, you’ve only had one rice-ball over the span of two days, please.”




“I know you miss them, I do too, but you can’t keep doing this anymore!”




“Yuma, do you think Nasch would want this?”


A pause. “His name is Shark.”


“Fine. Do you think Shark would want this?


“He’s not here anymore.”


“Yuma, please!”






Yuma didn’t mean to make anyone worry, but he just didn’t have the energy or motivation to do the simplest of things anymore. Why should he, when all the Barians were dead? When the one he had loved with all of his heart was forever gone, forever out of his grasp?




The sun was slowly setting, the pretty blues, purples, and pinks showering the land. Yuma was hunched over the river, a bag of paper boats on his side. When everyone had seen him out of the house for the first time, they had kept their distance, finally understanding the concept of space.


It was almost funny. Before, he would always be the one going out, always seeking contact, almost desperate for it. But now, he preferred being alone, interacting with other people draining too much energy. Even when Astral had “died” after Number 96’s attempted possession or when Merag and Nasch were revealed to be Rio and Shark, Yuma had never felt quite like this. His friends seemed to understand his need for time, and he was grateful.


However, just for today, he had allowed two of his friends to stay by his side, the ones who had a particular Barian they were grieving for.


First was Kite, who had formed a weird relationship with Mizar. Yuma never truly understood what they were, but it was definitely more than just some petty rivalry as compared to what some people thought. He had even seen them kiss once, the night before Kite was meant to duel Mizar on the moon.


Yuma had just been walking around the city, trying to calm down his jittery nerves caused by all the excitement and terror from the past couple of days. They were both standing behind the shadows of Heartland Tower, not in plain sight, but not hiding very well either. Their kiss was so tender and loving, but also appeared as a good-bye, both seeming to know that one of them was not going to make it through the next day.


As Kite placed the Barian’s boat into the water, floating away to join the others, Yuma thought about how Mizar used to always state he was above humans and their lame emotions. Now, he wondered how much of that was true and how much was just an act. Kite looked at the water in longing before standing up, tears pricking the corner of his eyes.


Next was Tori, who while not having a romantic relationship with her, had cared about Rio a lot. Yuma had felt happy when he saw them hang out for the first time. With Cathy being the only other girl, and their two personalities clashing almost constantly, Tori never had any real girl friends. But when Rio came, they would do outings together almost constantly, buying clothes, talking about boys, or doing whatever else it is that girls do together. 


Yuma had a feeling that while the two weren’t together, Tori had definitely had a crush on Rio. Her gaze would soften and it reminded Yuma a bit of himself sometimes when he found out that he was staring just a bit too long at Shark.


Tori sobbed quietly, wrapping her arms around herself as Rio’s boat slowly floated along, as if reluctant to leave the other girl.




He was last. With trembling fingers, and tears already pooling in his eyes, Yuma managed to delicately pluck Shark’s boat out of the bag. He seemed to be the most composed, but that was only because he had already cried most of his tears before coming here. Kneeling down, Yuma placed a tender kiss onto the boat, before placing it onto the water.


As Shark’s boat began to float away, Yuma sent a prayer to the heavens.


Please...let me see him, one last time. I need to see him…




When the last of the lights had vanished from the sky, rain pouring down onto the streets of Heartland, Yuma continued to think of the procession that had happened a couple of hours prior. He was so absorbed in his thoughts that he didn’t feel the cold wind slamming onto his face or the stinging rain droplets as they battered onto his broken body. Taking small, slow steps back towards his house, Yuma thought about his wish. 


Up until that point, Yuma had given up on hope. All it had done was make the inevitable pain he always seemed to feel that much harder anyways. 


But even so, while the other three that he had been with placed their boats with the intention of saying goodbye, Yuma had done it for the hope of saying hello.


The realization hit him quite hard, not noticing his true intentions until just that moment. Even after Astral left, even after all the Barians had died and Utopia was gone, Yuma could never truly let go of hope.


And that was the scariest part, wasn’t it? 


Everyone accepted the fact that the Barians were gone, and most of them had already moved on, but Yuma kept that spark with him, whether intentionally or not. 


That would only make every day without Shark that much harder, wouldn’t it?


All of these thoughts swirled around Yuma’s head as he finally made it to the door, knocking weakly before slumping against the door, letting his tears mix with the rain.




Yuma looked around Heartland, taking in his surroundings slowly. It was daytime, and an event of some sorts was occurring. People of all ages walked down the streets, with many of them dueling in various fields. Looking down, he noticed that he was a couple of feet off the ground, floating like Astral used to. It wasn’t high enough to be scary, and everyone still appeared at ground level, but it was still disorientating nonetheless. 


What is….a dream? But I’ve never...had one quite like this?


A sudden movement grabbed his attention, and looked to the side to see a younger version of himself running around in a panic, flailing his arms as he seemed to be looking for somebody.


He actually didn’t look that much younger than he did now, but it was definitely before the war. There were no worry lines on his face, carelessly bumping into everyone, not bothering to look back.


Wow, was that really how I used to act? No wonder everyone found me insufferable.


You grow onto people. Not everything about you is annoying, and after all you’ve done, I don’t think you could ever truly annoy me anymore. 


Yuma flinched in surprise, looking around to see who had spoken.


Look, something is about to happen. 


Yuma listened to the voice, not being able to see it anyways. It wasn’t really a voice now that he thought about it. It was more an echo. Not even that, but a whisper of an echo, not really discernible unless you listened really closely.


Nonetheless, the sound vibrated in his skull, sending warning alarms in them. It seemed so familiar…


Deciding to ignore it for now, Yuma looked at the past him (it was really strange to see, and it weirded him out a little) just as he bumped into someone else.


This time, he actually stopped, looking elated to see the person, and when Yuma got a good look at who it was, his breath caught in his throat (could ghosts even do that?). 


It was Shark, with the same scowl he used to always wear. 


“Tch. Hey dumbass, watch where you’re going!”


And the same attitude.


As the past him grinned sheepishly, scratching the back of his neck, Shark just sighed and rolled his eyes in exasperation.


And the same hidden fondness. 


Yuma felt familiar tears prick at his eyes as he watched the scene. These kinds of days used to happen all the time, and the old him had taken them for granted. Now, Yuma would do anything to take them back.


Shark, I miss you so much…


I miss you too. Don’t give up hope, and one day, you’ll be able to see me again.


This time, Yuma was able to make out the exact words, but still couldn’t tell who was speaking, or from where. It was so familiar, but the buzzing in his head prevented him from fully comprehending it.


See who? What do you mean?


Just don’t give up on Hope. You’ll have times like these soon I promise...just hope. 


Yuma widened his eyes as it suddenly hit him like a ton of bricks.


Shark? Is that you? Where are you?! 


I’m here. I don’t have the strength to stay long, but I’m here.


Yuma looked around frantically, desperate to see his friend. Finally, Yuma caught sight onto another spirit, a couple of feet away.


It was the outfit that Shark had wore right before his death, except he had his fang-shaped necklace instead of the Barian pendant that Yuma had begun to associate with Nasch. His aura flickered weakly, as if any second his image would be blown away. Yuma tried to move, but he suddenly felt so, so heavy, which was strange because this was a dream, and he was a spirit (ghost? Whatever).


Shark! He thought, trying to go to him with all of his might. Shark!


The other boy smiled at him weakly before trying to say something else. Yuma couldn’t make out any of the words as black edges began to seep in, the dream ending.


No! SHARK!!!!!!




Yuma bolted out his hammock, accidentally tangling into it. Suddenly, the hammock twisted sideways and threw him onto the floor, managing to hit his head quite hard. 


Yuma didn’t care about any of that as he lay on the floor, not bothering to get up. He began to sob. Loud, harsh sobs as he began to grieve all over again, desperate for the one person he desired most. No one bothered coming in, as this was almost a nightly occurrence at that point, and Yuma was grateful for the no interruptions as he bared his soul out. 


He thought that seeing him one last time would help, but it just opened the floodgate of memories, and it made him wish for Shark just that much more fiercely. 



Yuma stared out blankly into space as he sat on a random bench in the park near the school. It had only been around two days since the dream and he found himself almost constantly thinking about it. He’d been sitting there for what seemed like hours, and yet Shark’s words still continued to ring around in his head, mocking him with their vagueness. 


At least it wasn’t a bad place to think. In front of him was a large untamed meadow, flowers of various sizes quivering in the wind. New ones were beginning to blossom from the ground, glimpses of white and pink peeking from the shadows of the wild grass.


I miss you too. Don’t give up hope, and one day, you’ll be able to see me again.


Yuma groaned in frustration and covered his face with his hands as another mild breeze blew through, tousling his hair slightly. 


What did he mean by that? Couldn’t he have the tiniest bit more specific so he wouldn’t go crazy? There were so many things he could mean, and each idea made less sense than the last.


Did he mean that the Barians would come back? No. That couldn’t be it, because they were gone, they were dead, they were--


“Yuma, meeting you, was totally hot.”


“The rest is up to you, Yuma.”


“This is farewell, Yuma-kun.”


“Nasch, Yuma, Astral. Please finish this.”


“I love you, Yuma. Never give up, and I’ll...I’ll see you on the other side.”


Little hiccups came out as Yuma desperately tried to silence his agony. No! Shark had said that they would meet again on the “other side”. At first, Yuma had thought that the other meant back on Earth, even then, that small naive hope that Shark would be back home, that things would be the same way as before, when--


But, no, that obviously wasn’t what he meant. In the dream, he said to continue to hope, so maybe that’s what he just continue hoping and living, and then Shark would come back, whatever way he meant to. The only way to get past this, and maybe see Shark again, was to keep moving forward. 


Keep moving forward, even when things get tough, to never give up…


“That’s it!” he suddenly yelled, jumping out of the bench with an energy he hadn’t displayed in a long time, despite the few dried tears still stuck on his face. “I just gotta kattobingu my way through this, just like everything else! Then, maybe one day, Shark will get the strength to see me again! Yeah, I just gotta bring it to ‘im!” 


His voice was loud and for a short moment, seemed to echo throughout the field with power. It dimmed down though, slowly fading away until it was completely silent again. His hand fell down to his side once more, frowning in thought. This was going to be much harder than he thought.


But Yuma was up for the challenge now. It was all for Shark.


Chapter Text

That night, Yuma was laying in his hammock again, nerves frayed and refusing to let him sleep. After mustering up a motive to live properly again, Yuma had tried staying outside for the rest of the day to finally go and do things. When he had bumped into The Number’s Gang, they had noticed the change right away and were ecstatic, immediately dragging him to an amusement park that they were on the way to going, despite him having no money. Apparently there were some new rides or something like that (to be honest, Yuma’s state of mind wasn’t the best when they were explaining, and they just continued rambling on).


His friends paid for anything, waving off any concerns or protests Yuma had. The best thing, they had said, was seeing their friend trying to enjoy life again. Their resolve and concern was so sweet, and Yuma tried, he really did, but everything just didn’t bring him the same joy as before (there were times when he would excitedly point at something for Shark to see, only to turn and realize he wasn’t there. The other’s sympathetic looks simply made the whole thing worse). Even so, it was better than he had felt in weeks. They had met Kite, who was with Hart, at some point along the many rides, whose enormous relief to seeing Yuma eat and staying outside the house was apparent.


It was fun for the most part, going on various rides and stuffing their faces until they couldn’t eat another bite, and then continue to try to anyway. Tori and Kite’s devastation for their own loved one was still clear in their eyes though, and Yuma commended them for their strength when he himself had almost fallen over the edge. 


But now that he was alone, there was nothing to distract him from his over-chaotic thoughts again. They plagued him, making him freeze in terror every time he tried to close his eyes. Anticipation and dread swirled around in his chest, and he felt nauseous from the extremity of the emotions. 


It was worse than the time after he went to the boat procession. The thought that Shark could come back to him, that he would one day be able to touch the other and never let go made his body rack in excitement. But at the same time, the thought that he wouldn’t be able to, that the dream he had was a one time thing made him feel paralyzed, as if the wind was knocked out of him. 


Suddenly, something spoke, sounding like it was coming from all directions.


“He who opens this door shall gain a great new power-”

“New power…”

“This door…”


The familiar voice that never stopped haunting Yuma boomed loudly, causing the red-eyed boy to stiffen, quickly glancing around his room in trepidation. Shadows seemed to slither closer and the walls looked like they were closing in.


“-However, as the price for this power-”

“The price...”


“No!” he cried, and Yuma immediately curled into himself, trying to block out the noise.


 He had always thought that those words were originally meant for Astral. Every time they were in a dangerous duel, every time the key was threatened/taken away, or even that one time where Yuma thought Astral was dead, those dreaded words came forth from the deepest recesses of his mind, taunting him with his bad decisions. But that couldn’t be it anymore. Astral was safe now. He watched over his fellow Astralians in his own world, even promising to meet with Yuma again one day. Which meant that the cost of meeting Astral and forming ZEXAL was... 


 “I’m sorry Shark! I didn’t mean to, I didn’t want to! Shark...I...stop!” 


“You shall lose that which is most important to you.”

“Most important…”



"NO!" Yuma shouted, and all the shame, the blame, the heartbreak, all suddenly rushed out in a loud scream. "STOP IT!"


“Yuma!” another voice snapped next to him. It was almost impossible to discern the source of it, reality starting to drift further away from him. And even though his eyes were pressed firmly shut, it still felt like he was standing in front of the door of destiny that began it all, the one that brought Astral to him and started their mission. The door that...sealed Shark’s fate. 


“Yuma!” it snapped again, beginning to sound desperate. The image of the door began to waver, but it didn’t help with the anxiety at all. It seemed as if it was burned into his retinas, cursed to make him forever regret the one mistake he made. 


“Please, Yuma, listen to me! It’s your sister, Kari!”


And with that, the illusion finally shattered, leaving him with the reality that was only slightly better. 


“K-Kari?” he called weakly, sniffling slightly.


“Yeah, i-it’s me.” Yuma’s eyes were still closed, but the pain in her voice made him get the strength to open them slowly. He had to blink a couple of times to get the tears out, but when he looked back up to face her, he felt the small amount of breath left in him rush out. 


If there was one thing you could say about Kari Tsukumo, it was that she was strong. No matter what situation you were in, you could always count on her to be a calming force, barking orders and not losing her cool once. Yuma never saw her cry when their parents left, he never saw her in pain the time her boyfriend left her (twice), and he never saw her breakdown from all the stress her full-time job brought her. 


But now, tears were streaming down his sister’s face. Her eyes were bloodshot, and she was visibly trembling. Kari was kneeling next to his hammock, gripping onto the edges as if she herself was about to lose her grip on reality at any moment. She looked...well she looked nothing like the Kari that Yuma knew. 


“K-Kari?” he called again, the pain he was feeling moments prior vanishing for the moment. 


She took a deep breath when she saw his eyes opening, and she looked like she was trying to calm herself down.


 “You okay now, kid?” she asked, chuckling slightly. It sounded like she was trying to play it off as casual, but they were siblings. Even if they weren’t as close as they used to be, Yuma still knew. 


“Kari, I’m fine. What’s wrong with you?” he attempted to stifle a grimace when his throat stung in protest, but, again, they were siblings. Kari caught it.


“Do you need some water? A cough drop?” she stood up, and her mouth twitched uncomfortably. 


It was obvious that she was simply trying to avoid his question. Both of them were just stepping around each at this point, and that realization caused Yuma to frown a bit. Even though they both went through so much, was their relationship still so messed up that they couldn’t even talk to each properly? After losing so many people, the red-eyed duelist couldn’t bear to lose any more. 


“Kari, stop.” he said, and visibly winced when he moved to sit up. Kari rushed forward, helping him before he could topple over. 


“What is it, kid?” she asked softly, and the pain still present in her eyes just steeled his resolve even more. 


With Kari’s help, he managed to sit up straight, and his sister came next to him, and they were sitting side-by-side now. 


“We-” he coughed a bit, but pulled Kari’s arm back before she could bolt back up. “-We need to talk.”




After they had their much needed talk, Yuma felt lighter. Of course there was a bunch of crying and accusations thrown at each other, but they both seemed to realize that neither was able to take much useless bickering. 


Kari told Yuma about her stress of watching him when their father made her promise to watch after him, and to keep him away from dueling. She also talked about the uselessness and worry she felt when Yuma left for Barian world, and even before that when he wouldn’t tell her anything.


In return, Yuma told her as much as he could about the war, about how he had to protect Astral, and how some of the Barians were former friends, causing him to go through his earlier depressed state. He kept away some information, such as some of their friend’s deaths, but she was smart, and could probably read in between the lines. 


Even though the air between them was clearer, they both had jogged pretty painful memories, and after they separated for the night, Yuma fell asleep almost instantly, both physically and emotionally drained. 




Darkness. Everything was surrounded in inky-blackness and Yuma felt disoriented, not quite sure where he was. Was this another dream?  


“Yuma,” a voice suddenly called, and the red-eyed duelist flinched at the familiarity of it. “Yuma, can you hear me?”


It couldn’t be…


“Astral?” he asked in complete shock. He couldn’t see the other, and it was hard to believe that he was really there. 


“Yes, it’s me.” he responded, and there was a smile in his tone. “I did say we would meet again.”


After the initial shock had faded off, Yuma realized that he still couldn’t see. He really wanted to see Astral again…


“Why can’t I see anything?”


“It took me quite a bit of energy to conjure up this connection, but I have important things to tell you. Wait a moment please…”


The dark blankness that Yuma was in suddenly ripped open, and he winced in pain as brightness suddenly filled the land.


“Astral?” he called as he continued rubbing his eyes, and bright spots danced in his vision. “Astral, you there?” 


“Right here, Yuma.”


After a couple more moments, Yuma finally opened his eyes, blinking them rapidly as he began adjusting to his surroundings. 


Then he gasped.


There, in front of him, stood Astral, smiling gently at him as they hovered in Astral world.


“A-Astral?” he questioned again, unbelievingly. “I-is it...c-could it-”

Tears began filling his eyes as he rushed forward, hugging the other tightly, similar to the first time he saved Astral all those months ago.


“Astral, Astral you’re really here!”


He heard the blue alien chuckling in fondness before slowly hugging back slowly. 


“Yes, indeed it is, Yuma. I’m sorry for not showing up sooner, but I had to make sure there was enough energy so that I had enough time to explain things properly.”


“Explain things?” Yuma repeated, but he didn’t loosen his grip on Astral at all, afraid the second he would let go, he would disappear, and that echoing emptiness would once again appear. 


“Yes, Yuma. This was the best I could do for you, but I hope it’s enough.”


Yuma still felt confused. “Well, you’re as vague as ever,” he retorted, and as Astral gently tried pushing Yuma away, he tensed, not budging an inch. 


“What are you doing?!” he asked fearfully, and Astral sighed once in sadness. 


“Yuma, I’m not going anywhere,” Astral reassured in the softest tone he could manage, and Yuma clenched his eyes tightly. 


“You sure?”


“I’m sure,” he repeated, a tad more firm. 


Yuma sighed shakily, before slowly letting go, already feeling that gaping pit of loneliness threatening to swallow him whole. Astral would leave him alone, and then everyone else would leave him alone, and then-


“There’s a way for you to conjure stable connections with Shark in your dreams,” Astral interrupted quickly, looking like he was able to see that Yuma was on the verge of breaking down. 


The red-eyed duelist sniffled once, before snapping his head up, the words registering in his brain. 


“Say WHAT?!”