|Isn't It Beautiful?
Author: PinkStarz PM
Love. It's hard to tell whether it's there. It's hard to know whether it exists. But when in death's embrace, it seems like the only answer.SxSRated: Fiction M - English - Romance - Seto K. & Shizuka K. - Chapters: 4 - Words: 15,998 - Reviews: 113 - Favs: 37 - Follows: 20 - Updated: 01-13-05 - Published: 09-12-04 - id: 2054287
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
(a/n: Thanks to everyone who reviewed! Walis you're completely right. Seto is a lean, sexy eating-machine. It's so unfair... EarthborneI'm glad that you like the medical terms. I'm actually quite ignorant when it comes to anything associated with health care. I haven't even applied for my own coverage yet /I hope I don't break my leg or something anytime soon…/. the White Feather, you're right about the 'vociferate' thing, it is a bit out of place. I started using it as a joke after I read A Tale of Two Cities and then it just stuck. I'll try to tone it down, though! And finally, FrozenWolf, brussel sprouts are evil. Sorry I didn't address everyone, but like I mentioned last chapter, I'll try to address regular reviewers as much as possible. Okay, now on with the story! I did spend all of my spares writing this. It's too cold to wander to the sciences building where all of my friends are… It's so depressing… I'm so lonely…/sobs/. Hey, why are you still reading my messed up ramblings?! )
Four: The Paranoid Freak.
A day later, Serenity woke up groggy and annoyed. Trudging out of bed like one of the dead, she cleaned herself up and went out to check the mail. Bill after bill passed through her site before she was genuinely awoken by an unfamiliar envelope with her name and address scrawled on it in curvy italics. Ripping open the paper, she was shocked to see a pitch black invite with silver lettering in the same fancy scrawl.
Dr. Serenity Wheeler
You are cordially invited to attend Kaiba Corporation's annual Halloween Party for the Children's Charity.
15390-83 Avenue, Kodancha Road
Please attend wearing an appropriate costume; a mask is also required.
RSVP by October 30th.
"Kaiba Corp?" she nearly screeched, having forgotten completely about the CEO and his company. Rushing back into her apartment room, Serenity stared at the invite again before shaking her head. She couldn't back out, especially not when it was for charity. Dr. Atwood requested (no, demanded) that she attend and, as much as she hated to admit it, she had nothing better to do. But there was a problem. There was no way in hell she could ask her brother to attend with her, which had been her plan in the first place.
"Who the hell else do I know?" she asked herself outloud. Closing herself up in books for the past near-decade had left Serenity socially alienated. The only people she knew were through her older brother and who would willingly go with her to Kaiba Corp?
Pacing around the house, the struggled to think of who would be the perfect (or willing) companion for her.
Well, there was Tea, but she was already sick enough of having to attend functions. Not to mention the tiny drinking problem she had picked up from being stressed all the time about Joey. Serenity was beginning to worry that Yugi would catch it like a disease, considering that he frequently associated with the married couple.
Yugi was not a good idea -if Kaiba realized he was there, he would probably make up some excuse to challenge him to a pointless game. The guy never did take losing lightly.
Duke Devlin was completely out of the question. She hadn't seen him in years, not after she had blatantly told him that he scared her. That wasn't the truth, however; he actually annoyed her and after she found out about the 'Joey-in-a-dog-suit' incident, she decided she would have nothing to do with him. No one messed with her family, and Duke had to be the most pompus jerk in the world to think that she would overlook the incident and go out with him. Just thinking about him made her breathing increase with anger.
Tristan, well, they had lost touch with him after High School. He had been accepted into Tokyo University, where Serenity would join him a few years later. Serenity could honestly say that he was the nicest man she had ever known, but by the time she had realized that perhaps she felt something for him, it was too late. He was engaged, then married, and finally moved out of the country.
Defeated, she fell onto the couch and simply lay there, staring at her red tansu. The phone began to ring and having a deprecating feeling that it was Dr. Atwood on the other line, she made no effort to move. The beep of the answering machine came on after three rings, followed by Serenity's automated voice.
"Hi, you've reached Serenity Wheeler. I'm not home right now, but leave a message and I'll get back to you as soon as possible."
"Uhh... Hey Serenity, it's me. Ryou. Uhm... well... Joey said that you were probably home but I--"
"Ryou!" Serenity practically shouted into the phone after leaping for it. Yes! He was the one! The one that would take her to the party! She felt like Cinderella after finding her androgynous Prince Charming.
"Oh, you are home!" Bakura exclaimed, his soft voice like a melody to her ears. "I... I just called to see whether you were interested in another sake set...This one is circa 1933, I believe. I found it--"
Partially following in his father's footsteps, Bakura dropped out of college after three years of archaeology and started his own business selling antiques. Of course, he first targeted his friends as potential customers and Serenity happened to be a regular of his, mainly because he adored her choice in antiques. Her apartment was filled with tansuantique kimono, and valuable china from the 18th and 19th century.
"Yes, I'll buy it!" Cutting Bakura cleanly off was not a difficult task, since he was a timid speaker. "But I need you to do me a favour."
A broad smile seeped onto her lips. If there was anything Bakura could not do, it was refuse a customer, especially one as pretty as Serenity.
The party was held within a lavish hall that resided on the sixth floor of the company. A black and orange scheme appropriately decorated the room, where streamers, balloons and ghoulish figures hung from nearly every crevice. As Serenity walked through the entrance, she batted some misty fake spider webs away from her face and attempted to view the guests. Unfortunately, the fog was heavy and made it nearly impossible to see anything.
"They've done a wicked job," Bakura stated, but blushed when Serenity sent him an annoyed look. "No pun intended, of course."
"I didn't think so," she replied half heartedly. They silently ventured further in the room, absorbing their surroundings and the high society individuals who were unnaturally dressed in costume. Of course, none of the women wore anything ghoulish, costumed as fairies, medieval figures and sexy witches. Bakura was clearly drawn to the amount of cleavage and legs bared, but Serenity could hardly chastise him. Although he was dressed conservatively as a sorcerer, wearing a concealing dark robe, she was an unoriginal vampiress. Her gown was tight fitting, exposing curves that rarely anyone had the privilege of witnessing and dipped low enough to reveal a good portion of cleavage. There was a high slit in the skirt, which reached up to her mid-thigh. She knew she should have chucked the dress out when she got it. Despite her reverence for Dr. Atwood, he was a pervert, plain and simple.
Her hair was tied up with lose strands framing her face and a mask hung from around her neck, which she would wear when required.
"Serenity, you made it!" Dr. Atwood cried out, causing both Serenity and Bakura to jump. "And who do we have here? A boyfriend?"
Serenity blushed madly. "No! He's just a friend of mine. Bakura, this is Dr. Atwood. Dr. Atwood, Ryou Bakura."
They shook hands and nodded politely to one another. "Have you met the CEO of Kaiba Corporation yet, Serenity? He's a fine fellow. Auctioning off some fine Halloween items for charity tonight, not to mention the dance competition. You should take part in that."
"I don't dance," Serenity excused, smiling sweetly. "And I have met Mr. Kaiba. Very nice man."
He probably had nothing to do with the arrangements tonight, her inner self deduced, wishing she could see Kaiba so that she could glare daggers at him. Moreover, it's all probably some scheme to help his reputation after that disastrous sniper game his company released last year...
"Did you hear that, dear?" Mrs. Atwood slapped her husband's arm. "She thinks he's a nice man."
The couple exchanged looks and then laughed uproariously, causing Serenity's cheeks to burn, inner self to fume and thoughts scramble. Bakura, being very keen on her emotional distress, grabbed her upper arm and flashed one of his dashing smiles.
"If you two don't mind, I would like to steal Serenity for a dance."
"Go ahead, go ahead!" Mrs. Atwood urged, and the two went off to exert misery on someone else's life.
Serenity sighed in relief, leaning against Bakura's velvet robed arm in gratefulness. "I knew you were the right person to bring."
Bakura gulped, not to Serenity's notice, and struggled to breathe properly. "T-thanks."
"You are having a good time, aren't you?" she asked, suddenly pulling away from him and staring into his rich brown eyes. Offering one of his trademark smiles, Bakura nodded.
"Of course. I wouldn't be happier with anyone else."
Grinning, Serenity latched onto his arm again, feeling suddenly like an abashed teenager. Bakura certainly was fragrant with his words, but she didn't mind. He spoke the truth. They were prepared to enter the dance floor but were stopped by a tall man in shades and a suit.
"You got a number?" he asked and Serenity cast Bakura a questioning look. Her friend shrugged in response.
"No," he answered, although his tone made the word more of a question. The man nodded and signalled to someone by raising his hand. Quickly, another suited man rushed to them and held out a silver box.
"What is this?" Serenity asked, already reaching into the box and fishing out a number imprinted on a round button.
Bakura followed her and was about to show his number when the man shook his head. "Your number is confidential. When we announce it, you must find your designated partner and dance."
The seriousness of his voice mixed with the light-hearted situation caused Serenity to start laughing, but she quickly muffled her mirth. Bakura, spurned on by Serenity's outburst, chuckled slightly as well and the man turned crimson.
"If you excuse me..." With that statement, he disappeared, allowing Serenity and Bakura to stop hindering their amusement and break out into laughter. After a few moments, Serenity was leaning on Bakura and a few people who passed them shook their heads, believing the pair to be drunk.
"My stomach..." Bakura complained in between breaths for air.
"Well, my face hurts!" his partner exclaimed.
"But you do look pretty when you smile..."
Uncertain about how to react, Serenity stood straight and attempted to regain her dignity. "Thank you," she managed, blushing slightly. Looking away, she fiddled with the button in her hand and flinched when she felt Bakura's hand over hers.
"Let me put that on for you--"
"No!" she said too loudly, gathering stares. "I'm okay. Really, it's just that this dress is really thin and you might poke me."
Bakura shrugged, suddenly indifferent. "No worry. Hey, I'll be back in a minute, 'kay?"
Serenity frowned, disliking his colloquial language. It was rare coming from someone who usually spoke in a formal tone, so rare that Serenity found herself deciding to follow him. However, after ten minutes of weaving though the mass of people, there was no sight of the white-haired man.
"Where the hell did he go?" Serenity hissed, looking around frantically. Deciding that it was his own fault he was lost, she turned to leave the room when a hand tapped her on the shoulder. A tall man stood behind her, dressed like a vampire in a black cloak lined with red, a gallant tuxedo, fangs realistically protruding from his deliciously crimson lips, and a black mask concealing the upper half of his face.
"You're number 18, right?" he asked. She nodded, a sinking feeling consuming her. There was no chance of escaping now and freeing herself from further humiliation. Without waiting for an answer, he grabbed her by the arm and pulled her onto the dance floor.
"What are you doing?" she demanded, wanting to pull away from him but unwilling to make a scene.
"Hiding," he answered bluntly, pulling her close to him and pressing his hand tightly against her. She shivered, thoroughly uncomfortable from the situation unfolding before her. Being held by some unknown man avoiding something or someone was certainly not a good thing.
"What are you doing?!" she hissed again. "This is the Monster Mash, not a ballad!"
"What's your point?"
That cocky voice sounded awfully familiar.
"My point is that you should let go of me, whoever you are!"
"I told you, I'm hiding."
His grip on her didn't falter as they continued to sway hardly to the music -in fact, his hand was slowly descending her back.
Go further down and you're a dead man, her inner self screamed, a terrible gleam coming into her cinnamon eyes.
And so he did.
"You jerk!" she shouted, tearing herself out of his grip with such a force that she smacked straight into an innocent passer-by.
"Watch where you're going!" he snapped and Serenity was mortified to realize she had knocked into Seto Kaiba himself. Down the front of his white shirt was a crimson stain from the red wine he had been drinking and his eyes were beginning to match that color. "You idiotic woman!"
"This is entirely my fault, Kaiba old buddy," Serenity's mental dance partner quipped, gently moving a shocked Serenity to the side. He lifted his mask onto the top of his head to confirm Serenity's suspicions -Duke Devlin. Self assessed ladies man and known by all to be an ultra pervert. "She was trying to escape from me."
"Molesting young women again, are we?" Kaiba sarcastically questioned, smirking. "Tell me again why you were invited?"
Their verbal exchange was cut short, however, when the Bride of Frankenstein latched herself onto Duke from behind and pouted, causing him to shout from disbelief.
"Baby, you disappeared," she whined while Duke attempted to pry her claws off of him. As he struggled, Serenity escaped into the crowd, hoping that neither CEO discovered her disappearance. She narrowly avoided having to engage in conversation with several colleagues and once she had left the room entirely, she sighed in relief.
The halls of Kaiba Corporation were brightly lit; however, the yellow tinged light was unable to mask the seclusion of the area. When she walked, she could hear her footsteps echo and she wondered what would happen if she spoke. The main floor had an impressive lobby, the ceiling impossibly high with a grand cylindrical chandelier hanging from it. Five elevators lay dormant on either side of her and she could imagine the struggle during weekdays to squeeze oneself into it. A desk was in front of her a few feet away, but she feared going near it. Knowing Kaiba Corp, it was probably rigged with some type of alarm system.
Shivering, she put her arms around herself and silently wished she hadn't worn something so revealing. A part of her wanted to find Bakura, but she knew that would be impossible considering the crowd inside. She had no choice but to remain in the building until people began to leave.
Curious, Serenity inched her way to the right side elevators and tentatively pressed one of the buttons. The number above it lit up in the digitalized number 1 and the silver doors gave way to a luxurious elevator, padded with black leather walls. Her fear of elevators diminished when she stepped inside and the doors closed.
"Which floor...?" she mused to herself before pressing the highest number visible. Twenty floors later, the doors opened once more and she stepped straight into an office. It was tiny and there were chairs across from the desk littered with phones and it instantly occurred to her that she was within a secretary's office. What puzzled her, though, was why it was so small. There had to be something else on the floor.
Half heartedly she walked around the office until she noticed yet another elevator. It was partially hidden behind a board and she noticed that a key was required for the doors to open. She sighed, dejected, and was prepared to leave when the lights on the elevator caught her eye and made her adrenaline race. Someone was coming upstairs. She watched the red numbers increase until it reached 19. Panic stricken, she ripped through her brain to come up with either an escape plan or an excuse. Hiding under the desk seemed out of the question in her dress, and she inwardly cursed her luck that she ended up on the one elevator, out of ten, that came up to this office.
Excusing herself being her only option, Serenity thought rationally about what she could say. She got lost...? Of course! Then why would she be on this elevator...? She was looking for ... an exit? To the upper parking?
Her time ran out when the doors opened and revealed none other than the irate, sick, wet Seto Kaiba. He was leaning against the elevator wall, his face pasty and sweat glistening on his face and neck. His eyes were half open when he exited the elevator slowly, arms crossed to reveal his internal discomfort. She hoped he wouldn't notice her in his delirium but her wish was broken when, after coughing, he stood to his full height, turned around and snapped his eyes to her.
"What the hell are you doing here?" he demanded.
"I... I got lost," she stammered to her chagrin.
"Going where, exactly?"
Don't say 'Upper parking'; don't say 'Upper parking'...
"The upper parking."
She could have sworn he twitched and color began to return to his ghastly pale face. "This isn't a hotel."
They both remained still, staring at one another until Kaiba, out of irritation, broke their lock.
"Why aren't you leaving?"
"I want to examine you."
The CEO, for the first time, was startled. It was disappointing, slightly, that a tinge of rouge never graced his cheeks, but she supposed the widened eyes and partially gaping mouth was entertainment enough. With her mask on, she wondered whether he recognized who she was. She reached up and took it off, then waited for her identity to register with Kaiba.
"You're kidding me," he finally spoke, a smirk coming to his lips. His gaze travelled up and down her body. "What the hell are you supposed to be?" His eyes were clearly focused on her gratuitous cleavage. "A tramp?"
"Vampiress," she answered coolly, despite her nerves exploding inside. "And you are...?"
"The CEO of Kaiba Corporation." No joke.
"Scary." She meant it. "Let me just get my bag while you wait here."
"I never agreed to being examined by you."
"Mr. Kaiba, you look like shit."
Once again, she had hit a mark in Kaiba's mind that caused him to start and his eyes to widen. She didn't always have to appear like milk and daisies, and when she was out of the clinic dealing with an arrogant asshole, Inner Serenity would be free to run rampant, leaving a path of destruction wherever she trod--
"You should talk," he retorted, the smirk returning. "If you dressed like that everyday--"
"Don't even say it!" she threatened, taking a step up him. Instead of backing up, or even tilting his head slightly back, Kaiba leaned forward and what could only be defined as a creepy smile spread onto his lips like a virus.
"Whore." The insult was emitted in such a voice that she nearly mistook it for an affectionate term.
Her eyes remained narrow and expression poker in non-amusement. "If we're through with the greetings..."
"I'm certainly through with you." Without warning, Kaiba grabbed her by the shoulders, spun her around and pushed her toward the elevator. She held out her hands to prevent herself from smashing into the metal doors but was relieved when they opened.
"Wait--" She attempted to gather her dignity, but gaining leverage in heels was impossible. The doors closed on a smirking Kaiba and she descending the building, fuming.
"That--that--" Her finger furiously pushed the button for the previous floor she had been on, but the elevator refused to move. Literally.
"Oh shit!" she cried out, panic and her other self beginning to seize her. Frantically, she pushed every button in front of her but the elevator refused to move. Releasing a high-pitched scream, she backed herself up against the wall and ordered herself to calm down. Several breaths later, she began to look for an escape route.
Looking down, she saw nothing on the floor -then again, even if there was a hatch, she wouldn't enjoy plummeting to her death from jumping through it. Craning her head upward, her eyes scanned the ceiling and she released a small whoop of joy from seeing a rectangular hatch.
Problem was, she was too short to reach it.
"Shit!" she repeated, proceeding to kick the metal walls of the elevator. With the impact, the elevator jerked and trudged down slightly, causing Serenity to release a shrill scream.
She was going to die in there, she just knew it! After all, everyone was in the main hall and only Bakura would notice that she was gone, but there was no way he could trace her whereabouts to the stalled elevator. Only Kaiba knew exactly where she was, and there was no way in hell he would save her...
She bit her lip, contemplating her cynical conclusion about Kaiba. Certainly, he had been disagreeable and miserable for all the occasions she had the privilege of meeting him, but when she thought about it, she couldn't blame him. No one liked the prospect of death hanging over their heads when they had so much to live for.
Sighing, she fell to her knees and then shifted to sit down with her legs brought up against her chest. She couldn't give up hope. Someone would eventually find her... eventually...someday...
"SOMEONE GET ME OUTTA HERE!!!" her inner self screeched against her will. Her words seemed to be swallowed up by the elevator and she sighed again, banging her forehead against her knees.
"Will you stop screaming, you idiot?"
That voice, that condescending, foul-mouthed, deep baritone voice, strangely sounded like Kaiba. Perhaps she was beginning to hallucinate.
"K-Kaiba?" she stuttered hesitantly, lifting her head from her legs.
"Who else? God, you're such a moronic woman. Anyone else would have noticed the intercom system."
Her eyes scanned the elevator and then fell upon the slightly visible horizontal engravings above the buttons, where she assumed the intercom system was. She groaned at her stupidity and once again resorted to banging her head against her knees.
"What the hell did you do to get yourself stuck in there?" Kaiba demanded and instantly, Serenity's mouth opened in umbrage.
"I didn't do anything! I'm scared!" Serenity cried out, jumping up and proceeding to scream straight into the intercom. "Get me out, please!"
"Of course I'm going to get you out!" Kaiba hissed. "Do you think I'm actually going to leave you in there?"
She sniffed in response and slowly returned to her sitting position in the corner of the elevator. The silence around her was unnerving and she softly hummed to herself to overpower it. Eventually, she drifted off to sleep but was awoken by a loud thump and the elevator shaking. Bewildered, she scampered to her feet and glanced around
"Do me a favour and shut up for a moment!" Kaiba yelled, which actually caused Serenity to flinch. "Here's some elevator music to calm that feeble brain of yours."
"I don't need elevator music, I--"
--need a hero
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night...!
"You've got to be kidding me..." Serenity muttered, wondering whether Kaiba chose this song on purpose. If he did, she would certainly add him to her list of fruity guys, where Tristan, Duke and even her own brother currently stood (Joey's cross-dressing escapade in High School was certainly a winner) among many others.
He's gotta be strong
And he's gotta be fast
And he's gotta be fresh from the fight
"He'd better be..." She cast a look up to the hatch door, which seemed to be mocking her, threatening her that it would never open and the elevator would become her metal tomb.
I need a hero
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the morning light
"Well, I have no other choice, do I?"
He's gotta be sure
"About saving me...? I am a Wheeler, after all..."
And it's gotta be soon
"Damn straight. My shoes are looking pretty edible right now..."
And he's gotta be larger than life
"Like his ego?"
Larger than life...
"TURN THIS MUSIC OFF!" Serenity shouted, prepared to tear out her hair. When there was no answer, she huffed and stood up, preparing to pace and bang on the elevator walls like a demented band drummer. Her plan to create havoc was hindered, though, by a loud thump on the top of the elevator. Instantly, from the impact the elevator lurched down slightly and Serenity fell straight on her rear. She winced from the pain and was ready to scream again when a loud rattling noise filled the elevator and the hatch opened.
Instead of a technician, Kaiba poked his head through the hatch, his face expressionless as always. "Good, you're still alive."
A smile broke out onto Serenity's lips from seeing him and she ran toward the hatch. "How did you...?"
"It was nothing," Kaiba said, fiddling with a roll-up ladder. The bundle was tossed down and it unravelled, revealing it to seem slightly weak and fragile. Serenity cast a questioning look up the hatch but Kaiba was no where to be seen. Uncertain, she applied pressure to one of the rungs with her hand and it wavered precariously.
"Mr. Kaiba, don't you have anything else I could use to get up?" she asked, her voice wavering slightly. She half expected him to procure a flying apparatus, a probable recent invention of his, and in safety, she would crawl inside and fly up. After all, that was probably how Kaiba got down here. Maybe the invention was too big for the hatch.
"No. Now hurry up, I don't have all night."
Huffing, Serenity placed her foot on the lowest rung and tried not to squeal when it swayed dangerously. "I'm a dead-woman..." she whispered to herself, while her inner self told her to shut up and climb. Making a constant, high-pitched whining tone the entire way, Serenity slowly climbed the rungs while Kaiba impatiently waited. She half-expected him to mutter obscenities at her but he was silent and not in sight. Climbing up an insecure rope ladder toward utter darkness was certainly not reassuring.
When her hand touched the top of the elevator, she cried out for Kaiba's assistance in a wavering voice. Rapidly, a pair of powerful and long arms reached down and grabbed her new the elbows. With one pull she was safely on the top of the elevator and beside Kaiba.
Overwhelmed by her saviour, Serenity collapsed into Kaiba's arms, hugging him while he attempted to push her off.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you--"
"I get the fucking point, now unhand me!"
The damsel (no longer in distress) released Kaiba and attempted to hide her flaming face. He, meanwhile, proceeded to dust himself off and fix his rumpled clothing, paying little to no attention to the woman before him.
"Really, I am thankful," she said quietly, her hands bunched up together. Kaiba's eyes flickered to her and he openly scoffed, unable to believe that this revered doctor was acting like a flustered teenager.
"Don't be yet," he voiced, turning to the thick, silvery cable that supported the elevator. "We still have to climb up to the next floor."
"What?" Serenity cried out in dismay, craning her head upward to see nothing but the cable being gradually consumed by blackness. "T-then how did you get up here?"
"I climbed down," Kaiba briskly answered, his eyes moving to a piece of rope that was flawlessly concealed by the darkness.
"You shouldn't have!"
"Well, considering the way you were screaming and how long it would take for someone else to get you out, it was the most productive solution."
Her eyes shifted from Kaiba to the thin rope and then back again. Gradually, she could feel her calm demeanour dissipating and her legs began to shake uncontrollably. In a moment, they bent to her fear and she crouched on the top of the elevator, her eyes shut tightly.
Kaiba was silent, perhaps waiting to see whether she would stand up again and regain her composure. When she didn't, he emitted an irritated sigh and folded his arms while stepping in front of her.
"What is it?"
"I can't..." she whispered, the usually brave and even spit-fire mouthed girl finally tamed."I just can't climb that..."
Below, she knew nothing awaited her except for a cavern of never-ending darkness. And if she climbed that rope, she might as well be trying to commit suicide.
"So what do you suggest we do?" Kaiba asked, tapping his foot. Serenity shook her head, saying nothing. "Fine. Stay there and rot."
However, Kaiba clearly wasn't acting according to his words. Grabbing onto Serenity's right upper arm, he pulled her up so roughly that she staggered and fell against him, screaming slightly from fear of falling down.
"W-what are you doing?" she demanded, breathless yet clutching tightly onto his navy shirt. Without her knowledge, she had already ripped off the top three buttons of his shirt during their brief struggle. Kaiba decided not to mention it.
"I want to get out of here and the last thing I need is a dead body in my building." He walked forward to the rope and grabbed onto it with both hands. "Climb onto my back."
"Now," he added, after noticing that Serenity was staring at him with an incredulous expression. Most notably, with her mouth open and eyes wide like he had asked her if she wanted to see him strip. Like an automaton, she followed his orders and latched herself onto his back, piggy-back style. It certainly felt uncomfortable, especially with her bare arms absorbing the heat from Kaiba's neck and her legs wrapped around his abdomen.
He waited for a moment, most likely summoning his strength before untying the rope from the cable and then swinging them against the wall. From the loud thump made when they hit the wall, Serenity winced, hoping that Kaiba was okay. He, however, didn't seem in pain and instantly began hauling the two of them up the rope. Unable to look down, Serenity watched his hands, the knuckles turning white from exertion. She could hear him grunting with each pull and from her chest pressed against his back, could feel his heart pounding tremendously.
There was blood on the tongue blade…
In remembrance, she nearly let go of him but instead, tightened her hold. Leaning her head against his shoulder, an indescribable fear paralyzed her once more and she could do nothing but wait and see whether he would make it. Whether they could make it. Her sense of time became distorted, mind unwillingly occupied with the touch and sound of Kaiba's body. No longer was he the page in the textbook, but reality, one that she didn't want to accept. She prayed that her fears were all derived from paranoia and when she received the results, she wouldn't have to worry.
He made many stops, pausing to regain his breath. With his raspy breathing, she could feel shudders travel throughout her body and wished she could have blocked it out.
Eventually, they reached the floor she had been on only an hour ago. With effort, Kaiba hauled himself and Serenity onto the floor, like coming out of a swimming pool without the ladder. He lay on his stomach for a moment while Serenity moved off of his back. Then, as he attempted to get up, he began to cough violently.
Quickly, Serenity went to his side, watching with horror as each of his violent coughs produced blood on the previously white carpet.
"Don't lie down!" she ordered, noticing his crouched position. She then was ready to run to the phone but was hindered from taking a single step by Kaiba grabbing her ankle. In her attempt to free herself, she ended up falling. Suddenly, the coughing stopped.
"This is my office," she could hear him say, his voice bearing the mellifluous sound of granite. "You have no right to touch my things."
"Mr. Kaiba, you're seriously ill!" Serenity cried out, crawling up on her hands and knees and then turning around to face her saviour with a scalding glare. "You may die if you don't get medical attention immediately!"
"I don't care."
"How can you say that?" She stood up, wavering slightly on her heels. Kaiba made no other reply, instead wiping the corner of his mouth with his sleeve and leaving a dark reminiscent of blood on it. As if nothing had happened, he stood up and coldly brushed by Serenity, his destination his desk. Leaning against it, he avoided Serenity's gaze when she turned around in question.
"You saved my life," she said, her hands bunching up, "and you did it for a reason."
"I don't want to be sued."
"No." She shook her head, her soft locks of hair drifting with the movement. "You could have called someone. Anyone. Instead, you came after me yourself."
This time he looked up, his expression as unreadable as it had always been. Self-consciously Serenity took tentative steps to him until she was standing close enough for their feet to be touching. Then, she was prepared to bow down to him to express her gratification but was stopped when Kaiba took hold of her shoulders.
Looking up, their eyes finally met and she could almost see a hint of remorse buried within the sea of his eyes. They said nothing, both unsure of what exactly to say. Then, the grandfather clock in his office chimed and they separated.
Serenity walked the entire way down through the stairwell.
Bakura was waiting for her.
A large sigh was released by the doctor the moment she entered her apartment. As usual, she dropped her bag to the floor and trudged to the couch where she was more than prepared to lie down. The furniture squeaked when she fell on it, as usual sending a bit of insecurity through her about her weight.
Well, as long as it doesn't break, I'm not fat! she concluded, while reaching over to grab a cholesterol-packed bag of chips. It would go straight to her hips, she knew, but hardly cared. After tonight, she certainly deserved a break.
With one hand, she shovelled the oily, yet gratifying, junk food into her petite mouth and with the other hand, reached for the remote. She was mindlessly channel surfing when a loud sound caught her attention and she noticed papers being fed into the fax machine and spat out again. Furrowing her brows, she sat up and wiped her hands on her silk dress, leaving dark marks.
Her eyes drifted to the clock above the fax machine, which read about half-passed three in the morning.
A fax at this time?
Curious, she walked to the machine, ignoring the pains in her legs. What she really needed was sleep and a bit of relaxation before work on Monday. Although she had the day off tomorrow, there were things to be done, like her growing pile of laundry that could probably now double-up as a bed.
After three minutes of waiting, she impatiently grabbed at the first page of the fax and ripped it off from the growing chain of paper. Her eyes scanned the dark print and suddenly, her pain was nonexistent. In an attempt to keep her balance she took a wavering step back and clumsily knocked her hip against the table, knocking a vase over. It readily shattered, leaving red and white shards in a multitude of sizes on her floor.
Mokuba Kaiba expertly entered the codes necessary to enter the restricted laboratory and smirked when the heavy door slid up. Quickly he entered, knowing well that after a quarter of a minute, it would shut down. The lab hadn't changed much from the last time he had seen it. More large machines were added, massive computers were wired to the walls and color variation was slim to none. As he walked through the laboratory, his footsteps echoed and he remembered how a long time ago, he was deathly afraid of the place. The chill had unfortunately also remained and he rubbed his arms, finding it unbelievable that the cold penetrated through his black suit jacket.
His eyes scanned the room when he reached the middle, wondering where the desk was.
The corner near the back... he concluded without even witnessing a viable clue. It made sense, and all people were predictable.
"Tsk, tsk," he said, crossing his arms as he approached the figure sitting at the desk. His legs were propped up on the table and he was leaning leisurely on his chair, hardly moved by the man's presence. "A retina scan would have been more appropriate to protect your precious lab. Anyone could get in."
(a/n:Two cliffies? What am I, insane? Anyway... I don't know about the rest of you, but I really like this story, which is kinda why I'm neglecting The Black Rose. Bad me. Let's see if I love it enough to update before my midterms. I do have big plans for it... I just hope people are still reading it!)