Be Careful What You Wish For
By Lucky_Ladybug

Notes: As always, the Yu-Gi-Oh! characters aren't mine. This is one of my fave plot concepts—one that I've used many, many times over in various fandoms and which I now bring to you! ^_~ I guess it doesn't exactly fit in with my other stories, but so what? ^^ This is SO not yaoi, BTW ^^ Hope y'all enjoy!

It was a cloudy day in Domino City, and at the high school Joey and Seto were about to come to blows yet again.

"Hey, Kaiba, why don't you come sit with us?" Joey offered at lunchtime.

Seto looked up from some papers he was looking over. Yesterday he had taken a trip out to some of his factories, which were in a city about fifty miles away from his hometown, and today he would need to go out there again. He was reading the factory reports and he didn't really have time to be hanging around with Joey and his friends. "I don't think so, Wheeler," he said finally.

"Whaddya mean, you don't think so?!" Joey yelled. "Aren't we good enough for ya?!" It didn't take much to get the hot-headed Joey Wheeler angry, and now he grabbed Seto by the boy's buttoned jacket and lifted him right out of his chair.

Seto stared at Joey defiantly and then pried the other boy's hands away. He wasn't in the mood to fight with Joey today.

Joey, on the other hand, wasn't giving up. He was tired of always being brushed off and snubbed by Seto. "Man, Kaiba, you're such a snob," he said hurtfully. His anger had reached a boiling-over point, and he shoved Seto backward fiercely. "You know what? I'm tired of this, Kaiba."

"That makes two of us," Seto replied, gathering his papers and briefcase together.

"I don't like you, Kaiba," Joey declared. "You know what I wish?"

Seto wasn't going to bite. "I don't have time for this, Wheeler."

Joey continued right on. "I wish you'd just drop off the face of the earth!" he growled.

Seto stepped back and turned away. For the briefest moment, Joey had almost been convinced that he had seen a sad, lonely look in the other boy's blue eyes. "Be careful what you wish for, Joey." With that he walked off, leaving Joey standing subdued and stunned. That was the last thing he had expected Seto to say. He soon shrugged it off and turned to go into the cafeteria, getting mad all over again.
After school, Seto had his chauffeur drop him off at the factories in the other city again. As he was walking up to the main office building, a tough guy in a ski mask tackled him and brought him to the ground.

"Your money or your life," the man hissed.

Seto could tell that the man didn't have a gun. He worked out a quick strategy in his mind as to how he could overpower his mugger. "Take anything you want," he said calmly, letting his body relax.

"That's more like it," the mugger sneered. Seto could feel the man's hot breath on the back of his neck. "But you know, I think I'll just kill you anyway."

Suddenly the boy sprang up, jerking his elbow back into his attacker's stomach. The man let out a howl of pain and released Seto from his grip.

This was just what Seto had been planning on. Before the would-be robber had a chance to regain his bearings, Seto had first judo-flipped him onto the ground and then delivered a karate chop to his shoulder. The boy stood over him, his face expressionless, though inwardly he was fuming.

"No more . . . please," the man whimpered. Blood trickled down his face from a minor cut on his forehead.

Seto glared at him. "Coward," he remarked, turning to go inside.

Two other tough men appeared from seemingly out of nowhere, looking angry and outraged. "You'll pay for this," the first growled as he and the other one helped their friend to his feet.

Seto looked unfazed. "I will?" he said calmly.

"No one does this to our buddy and gets away with it," the second one said hotly. Soon they had disappeared into the dark shadows behind the buildings. Seto heard a motorbike's engine rev up and then he went inside the office building to speak with the manager of the factory.
Seto looked out at the dark, angry clouds that covered the late-night sky. It had been a long, tiring day and he would be more than happy to return home to Domino City and Mokuba.

As he stepped outside, walking away from the factories and down the dark, deserted streets, his blue eyes narrowed involuntarily. Joey's remarks had hurt him more than he would ever admit. No matter how hard he tried to pretend it wasn't so, the truth was that he had real feelings that could be injured just as easily as any other person's. He wasn't some emotionless stone that could be insulted or trounced upon without suffering any pain or hurt in the process.

He shook his head angrily. Now was not the time to think about all that. He had been kept occupied all afternoon and evening by problems at the factory, and he wasn't happy in the least that the memory of Joey's hurtful comments was coming back to haunt him now.

A stray twig snapped behind him and Seto whirled around. "Who's there?" he demanded, staring into the darkness. He could see nothing, but he wasn't about to be fooled by that gag. He knew someone was there. "Who are you?" he yelled. "I know you're following me."

Three musclemen stepped out of the shadows. Seto recognized two of them as the ones who had taken the mugger away earlier, but he hadn't seen the third one before. "We don't appreciate what you did to our buddy this afternoon," the first one said.

Seto's eyes narrowed. "He threatened my life. I wasn't going to stand by and let him kill me."

"Excuses, excuses," the second one growled. "Now we're gonna do what he tried to do then." He stepped forward menacingly.

"We'll see about that." Seto didn't back down. He wasn't afraid; he was used to fighting tough opponents by now.

The following battle was not easy for either side to win. Seto flipped one of them over, and then he was caught in a choke-hold. Somehow he managed to reach up and squeeze the pressure point on the second man's arm, causing him to gasp and cry out in pain.

The third man came at Seto hard and pounded him in the chest. Seto cried out as well, doubling over. This wouldn't do at all. He struggled to stand up and he lunged at the man abruptly, startling him. The boy delivered a karate chop to the man's chin, sending him backward to the ground.

Before any of them could get up again, Seto had turned around and was running around the corner. He spotted the motorbike he had heard the gang using earlier and climbed on. He'd drive to the police station and tell them what had happened.

The men were already getting up and trying to give chase. Quickly Seto revved the engine and took off, leaving them behind in a cloud of smog.

It didn't take Seto long to realize that the bike wasn't working properly. It jerked and twisted in a machine's version of a convulsion, and Seto's eyes narrowed in anger. The gang members had wanted him to take the motorbike! They must have tampered with it so that he would . . .

He let that train of thought trail off as he gritted his teeth and tried frantically to keep the bike from . . .

He let out an involuntary scream as the motorcycle crashed suddenly and turned over, sending him flying. The boy rolled over and over on the harsh pavement until he came to a painful halt near the curb. Blood streamed down his face and his vision faded in and out of focus as what seemed to be a dozen more thugs towered over him. "Not so tough now, are you?" one of them sneered, looking down at him.

Seto tried to reply, tried to rise, but he was powerless to do anything. He had been wearing a helmet, but he had lost it sometime during his fall and ensuing somersaults across the concrete. He struggled to stay above the dark, black arms of oblivion that threatened to engulf him, but his efforts proved fruitless. His eyelids felt very heavy and they soon closed, sending him into unconsciousness.

The men sneered evilly, and the first one kicked at the boy's body viciously. "Stupid kid," another one said. "He was no match for us!"

"And now we'll teach him a lesson he'll never forget!" the second one growled, whipping out a painful-looking ninja weapon.

Seto awoke again once the beating began, feeling the sharp pain as the weapon struck his cheek harshly. He cried out in pain as the thugs' clubs and fists pounded his body and he struggled to get up, to somehow get away—but he couldn't. He didn't have the strength, nor would they have allowed him to get up if he had.

"You're a weakling," one of the other thugs hissed, shoving Seto back against a hard building and then pounding him with the metal stick as the poor boy slumped back to the ground. "You think you're so smart! Well, we're smarter." He kicked Seto viciously in the chest. "And you will die tonight."

Seto found himself believing that. Another heavy object pummeled him sharply just below his heart, but he was too weak to do anything about it. Well, Wheeler, it looks like you'll get your wish, Seto thought to himself as something violently tore across his back. I will drop off the face of the earth . . . permanently.

Two more of the thugs came at him at once, pelting him with their evil chains and clubs. Seto felt the rusted metal of the chain strike his cheek and then felt the blood dripping down his face. "Mokuba . . . I've . . . I've failed you," he cried aloud as another thug stabbed him with a barbed object. He felt a harsh, cold rain start to fall and he knew he couldn't last much longer, even though he was trying so hard. "For . . . forgive me . . ." He screamed as he was hit with a heavy, blunt weapon. "I'm . . . I'm . . . sorry . . ." He felt himself fading away.
Seto Kaiba disappeared from Domino City that day and he wasn't heard from for the next five days. Needless to say, Mokuba was beside himself with worry. His brother hadn't said he'd be going away anywhere, and Mokuba had sensed the older boy calling out to him that first night. He insisted he knew that Seto had been hurt. Joey tried to pretend he thought Seto was pulling a prank on account of the last conversation they'd had, but inwardly he did worry. He knew Seto wouldn't go off somewhere and not tell Mokuba when he'd be back. Something wasn't right.

And Seto's haunting words kept echoing in Joey's mind: "Be careful what you wish for, Joey," he had said, and Joey heard those words every time he turned around. Seto *had* disappeared off the face of the earth, but Joey wasn't happy about it. He felt sorry that he had ever said such an awful thing. He prayed that somehow Seto would turn up, just fine and dandy—but he never did.

At school the next Monday, Joey was approached by Beth, a girl he knew from science class.

"Joey," she began, "do you think you could do me a favor?" she asked.

"Just name it and I'll do it," Joey grinned.

"Well, I have a close friend who works as a nurse at a hospital about fifty miles from here," Beth told him. "About four days ago, a young John Doe was brought in who'd been badly beaten and stripped of any identification he had had with him. He's still unconscious and in critical condition. My friend wants you to come see if you can identify him."

"Sure," Joey said, scratching his head in confusion. "But how would I know who some John Doe is?"

"Because my friend thinks his name is Seto Kaiba," Beth said softly.
After school, Joey drove out to the hospital and found Beth's friend Anita. He dreaded what else he would find. He hadn't been able to believe it when Beth said that Anita thought the mangled boy was Seto Kaiba, but he was inwardly afraid that it was true.

"Where did you find this guy anyway?" Joey asked as they walked down the hall.

"Someone found him laying a field about twenty-five miles north of here," Anita told him. "The police believe that whoever beat him just dumped him there when they were finished with him."

Joey was horrified. He didn't know what to say. Finally he ventured softly, "Why do you think it's Kaiba?"

Anita paused, looking down. "Well, the police found signs of a struggle and bloodstains near some factories Mr. Kaiba owns around here," she told him. "There was also a crashed motorcycle that had obviously been tampered with." She paused, reaching into her pocket. "And yesterday they found this." She handed Joey a locket shaped like a playing card and the boy gasped, running his finger down the side of it. He knew that if he opened it, he'd find a picture of Mokuba. But he couldn't open it. He couldn't.

"He was beaten very violently," Anita whispered softly as they reached the end of the long hallway. "Frankly, I was certain he would die the night he was brought in. By that time, he had most likely been laying in that field for hours." She opened a door softly. "He's in here."

Joey walked in and gasped. Nothing could have prepared him for this shock. The boy laying on the bed looked pale and half-dead. Bandages wound around his arms and bruises covered the places where no bandages were. He wasn't wearing a shirt, and more wounds adorned his chest and sides. There was a deep cut on his left cheek and a strip of blood-soaked gauze around his forehead. The boy's long bangs had stubbornly fallen over the bandage, refusing to stay smoothed back as Anita had left them. But the most horrifying thing for Joey was that he recognized the tormented form. "Oh man," the blonde boy said, walking closer. "It *is* Kaiba!" When Anita had given him that locket the police had found, Joey had known in his heart that it belonged to Seto, but still he had never been expecting something like this. He had been hoping it was all a big mistake, a misunderstanding . . . but it wasn't. It was real.

Anita nodded sadly. "I was afraid of that," she said softly. "I didn't want to bring his brother out here unless I knew for certain of this boy's identity . . . but now I know, and Mokuba must be called."

Joey nodded numbly. He walked over to the still boy and grabbed his shoulder. "Kaiba! Hey, speak to me, man!!"

"He's practically in a coma," Anita told him sadly. "The doctor thinks he will slip deeper into his lethargic state and never awaken. No one survives a beating such as this."

Joey's head snapped up in disbelief. "Come on! 'No one'?!" he repeated. This couldn't be real! he thought again.

Anita shook her head. "Almost no one," she said quietly. "I don't know how he survived this long."

Joey looked down. "I do," he stated softly, gently placing the locket in the other boy's limp hand and closing Seto's fingers around it. "I'll call Mokuba," he offered. "He might take the news better from me." He didn't really know if that was true or not, but he could see the relief in Anita's eyes. She couldn't stand making those kinds of calls.

Joey turned and stared at Seto as Anita led him out of the room and to a phone at the nurse's station. "Poor guy," he whispered.
"Mokuba?" Joey took a deep breath when he heard the little boy say hello. He was starting to regret ever having offered to do this.

"It's my brother, isn't it?" the younger boy said softly.

Joey was silent. "Yeah, kid, I'm afraid it is," he said finally. "I'm calling from a hospital about fifty miles away. Your brother was brought in as a John Doe four days ago. They . . . they . . ." He trailed off. How was he going to tell this kid that his beloved brother might not survive the night? "You'd better get down here, Mokuba," he said at last. He gave the other boy directions to the hospital and then called Yugi, who was also horrified to hear the news.

"Yug, they think he's gonna die," Joey said in despair. "And oh man . . . Yug, I said some horrible things to him the last time I talked to him. . . ."

"It's alright, Joey," Yugi said comfortingly.

"No, Yug, it's not alright!!" Joey cried in frustration. "I said I wished he'd drop off the planet! I know it's crazy, but . . ." He paused, struggling with whether to say what he'd been thinking or not. "Yug, what if my sayin' that caused this to happen?"

Yugi was silent. He could tell that Joey was extremely upset. "Joey, life doesn't work that way," he said kindly. "It wasn't your fault that Kaiba got hurt. You didn't do that to him; bad men hurt him."

"I know, Yug, but . . . oh man, if Kaiba dies, I'll never forgive myself!" Joey hung up, running his hands through his hair in frustration. "Man, I can't believe I said that to him!" he said aloud to the empty hallway. "I know I've said some real doosies to people before, but that's gotta be the worst thing I've ever said to anyone!"

He went back into the room and sat down next to the bed, looking at Seto's still form. "Oh man . . . Kaiba, what happened to ya? Say somethin'!" Joey pleaded.

The other boy didn't give any indication that he'd heard. He lay completely silent and inert, his chest rising and falling slowly. He moaned, suddenly turning from side to side before settling down again. Joey knew that the injured boy wasn't awake or aware at all; he was only tossing around in his unconsciousness. Seto's breathing was labored and thready and Joey could see that he had been hurt very seriously.

If Joey had felt sorry before about what he had said to Seto, now he felt ten times worse. Seto had disappeared days ago and then had been found—beaten and left for dead, with no identification on him at all. How could I have said that to him? Joey bemoaned again, feeling a tear come to his eye.

He looked at the other boy's body resolutely. There was something he had to do now—apologize for the hurtful things he had said. If he didn't do it now, he feared he would never get another chance.

"Kaiba," the Brooklyn boy said softly, "I'm sorry, man. . . . I didn't mean what I said! . . . Honest to Pete, I didn't! I . . . I was just mad 'cause you wouldn't hang out with us and I thought you were bein' snobby, but . . . I know that's no excuse." He paused. He had often heard it said that those who were deeply senseless could still hear what was going on around them. He hoped this was the case now. "Kaiba, I don't want you to die, man!" he burst out. "Come on, hang in there! Don't . . . don't leave us," he pleaded softly.

Seto stirred slightly, but Joey had no idea what was going on in the other boy's mind or whether he was reviving or not. Suddenly Seto's blue eyes opened slowly, but Joey could see that they weren't really focused.

"Kaiba?" the blonde boy ventured, "Are you with me?" He knew in his heart the answer was negative, but still he had to ask, he still had to hope. . . .

Seto stared at the ceiling deliriously. Joey couldn't tell whether he knew who was standing next to him or not. "Take . . . take . . . care of . . . Mokuba," Seto requested, speaking with much effort. "Tell . . . tell him . . . I . . . I . . . love him. . . . I'm . . . I'm . . . sorry . . ." With a groan, Seto's eyes closed again and his body went limp.

Joey gasped, leaping out of the chair. "Kaiba!" he said in disbelief. "Come on, man, stay with me!!" He grabbed the other boy's shoulders frantically. Seto was still clinging to life, but Joey knew he wouldn't last much longer without a miracle. Please, he prayed, don't let him die!
It wasn't long after that when Mokuba arrived. His gray eyes shined with worry and horror as he looked at his brother's tormented body. "Seto!" he cried, running over. "Oh, Joey, how bad off is he?" The little boy climbed into the chair on the opposite side of the bed and took Seto's cold hand, afraid to hug him right now in case it would hurt him worse.

Joey hesitated. He couldn't bear to tell the little boy the truth. "Eh, well, kid . . . you know how your brother seems to overcome every obstacle in his path. . . . Heck, I'm sure he'll overcome this, too." Joey hated the way his voice sounded—like he was trying to convince himself of this as well as Mokuba—which was actually true.

Mokuba stared at his brother in disbelief. He had never seen him so tortured . . . so injured . . . so . . . helpless. "Seto," he whispered softly. The younger boy looked up at Joey, his eyes spilling over with tears. "Why? Who would hurt him like this?! Seto would never hurt anyone unless they threatened him or someone else first!"

Joey hung his head, knowing Mokuba was right. Heck, Seto had even saved Joey's life during the Battle City tournament, when the blonde boy had been chained to an anchor and drowning. Seto had found the key that unlocked the chains and had thrown it into the water where Joey had been able to find and use it to get free. Seto wasn't a bad guy by any means, but he and Joey had never been able to get along well. Seto didn't deserve what he had been put through—he didn't!

"Poor guy," Joey said aloud, shaking his head. He tried to put on a brave smile. "But hey, he'll be better before you know it, kid," he said to Mokuba. "Soon he'll be back to his usual charming self." He wasn't sure whether he should tell Mokuba about what Seto had said during the time when he had briefly revived, but finally he did say, "Kaiba loves you, Mokuba. He's been holdin' on 'cause he doesn't want to leave you."

Mokuba nodded shakily, biting his lip. "You can make it, Seto," he said encouragingly. "Please, big brother . . . hang in there!!"

The door opened and both boys looked up. The doctor stood there, looking grim.

"What's goin' on?" Joey asked.

Mokuba held his brother's hand fearfully. He could tell by the look in the doctor's eyes that he hadn't brought good news.

The doctor hesitated, his gaze drifting to Mokuba's frightened expression. Finally he looked down at his clipboard and said, "Your brother isn't doing very well."

"We know that!" Mokuba cried. "But is he gonna get better?!" The boy hiccuped, trying to choke back another round of tears.

"Mokuba . . . your brother was hurt with many vicious weapons," the doctor said slowly, "including something that was very old and rusted. Some of that rust has gotten into his system and is poisoning him."

Mokuba gasped and Joey was stunned. This was something he hadn't been expecting at all.

"Isn't there something you can do?!" Mokuba demanded. "You've gotta do something!! We can't let him die!! We just can't!!!"

The doctor sighed. "We've been trying everything we can," he said at last, "but nothing seems to be working. And your brother . . . he. . . . Well, I just don't think he's strong enough to fight the poison." The doctor tried to sound gentle, but nothing could cushion the blow of those words.

"No!" Mokuba cried. "It isn't true! Seto can fight it! He will fight it!!"

The doctor laid a hand on the stricken boy's shoulder. "I'm sorry," he said softly.

"So there's really nothin' else you can do?" Joey asked, feeling so helpless. He wished he knew what to do. Heck, he wished none of this had even happened.

The doctor shook his head silently. "We've done everything medically possible," he said. "It's up to him . . . and God." With that he turned around and left.

Joey looked at Mokuba and then at Seto's still form, unsure of what to say.

"I'm not giving up on him," Mokuba said defiantly. He held his brother's hand gently.

"I know you're not, kid," Joey replied softly. "And hey, I'm not going to either." He laid a hand on Seto's shoulder. "You hear that, man? We ain't givin' up on ya! You gotta pull through! Because . . ." He lowered his voice to a whisper. ". . . 'Cause if you don't, I'll never forgive myself," he finished finally.

Seto flinched at something he was experiencing in his nightmare world and then settled down again, his breathing still very strained and slowed.

Mokuba's eyes filled with tears as he laid his head on the soft, fluffy pillows and gently draped an arm across the older boy's chest.

Joey lowered his eyes. What would happen if Seto actually . . . died? What would Mokuba do? Where would he go? Would those creepy former executives from Seto's company move in again and force Mokuba to do their every bidding? And would Joey ever be able to live with himself? Even though he knew it wasn't his fault that Seto had been beaten, he couldn't stop remembering those hurtful things he had said before Seto had left, nor could he forget the other boy's response. "Be careful what you wish for, Joey." Seto had sounded so forlorn, so unlike his usual, abrupt self.

It had been such a long day. Joey knew that Yugi and the others would try to come out as soon as they could, but for now it was just him and Mokuba, and suddenly Joey felt very exhausted. He doubted that Seto would awaken any time soon. With a sigh, he leaned back into the chair and dozed off to sleep before he quite knew what was happening.
When Joey awoke, he found that Seto had slipped into a deeper state of unconsciousness again. The other boy wasn't moving at all anymore, and the only sign that he was alive was his extremely raspy breathing. Mokuba, wide awake, still had his arm around his brother's chest, his eyes wild and frightened.

"How is he?" Joey asked slowly.

Mokuba shook his head, a tear escaping down his cheek. "The doctor says he'll be dead by morning," the younger boy wailed.

"No way," Joey gasped. "That can't be right!" He felt a sense of panic.
Seto was battling the darkness and the thick fog in his mind. He had to overcome it! He struggled against the poison, fighting against its chains, but he was continually overwhelmed. Just when he thought he had gotten the better of it, it would lash out at him with an even stronger attack and the fight would start all over again.

Occasionally voices would penetrate through the fog. Sometimes he could hear Mokuba pleading for him to hang on, or even Joey Wheeler sounding genuinely remorseful and worried. This made him pause in surprise for a brief moment. He had thought Joey would be glad if he was gone.

The demonic poison knocked him down and again wrapped its sickly arms around him, choking him and making him weak. He would never give in to it, but he knew he couldn't fight it much longer.
Mokuba watched his brother in distress, wanting so badly to help him, but not knowing how. Seto was very weak by now—barely alive, in fact, and Mokuba was praying constantly that somehow there would be a miracle and Seto would live.

Joey was praying too, but he was afraid that the other boy was too far gone. Seto's eyes were open but unseeing, apparently not recognizing Joey or even Mokuba.

"Please, Seto," Mokuba was crying. "You've gotta snap out of this!"

"You can't leave us, man," Joey added, Seto's vacant gaze creeping him out.

The injured boy drew a ragged breath, turning his head to one side. Joey knew with a sinking heart that Seto most definitely was leaving them, but Mokuba would have none of it.

The younger boy threw himself across his brother's body frantically as Seto's breathing slowed even more and his eyes closed. "I love you, Seto!!" he screamed. "You can't go!! You can't!!!" His voice trailed off to a whisper. "Don't leave me, big brother," he sobbed.

Seto seemed frozen, almost as if he were unable to make the decision to stay or leave. The heart monitor sped up wildly, then slowed down to almost nothing at all. For one terrible moment, the boy's breathing seemed to stop entirely—but then he took a deep breath and groaned.

Mokuba brightened. "Seto?" he said hopefully. "Oh, Seto, you're gonna stay with us, aren't you?" He clung to the older boy tightly, tears of joy cascading from his eyes.

Seto's hand moved slightly and came to rest on Mokuba's head. The older boy's eyes fluttered open and he smiled tenderly at his brother. "Yes," he said softly, "yes, I am." Once again his eyes were warm and alert and full of recognition.

Joey had never seen Mokuba look so joyous. He himself felt as though an immense weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Seto was alive! He wasn't going to die! He looked down at the other boy, who was holding his little brother close. "Kaiba," Joey said slowly.

Seto looked up quizzically.

Joey shook his head. "Oh man, Kaiba, you had us real worried," he declared. He paused, looking down. "Kaiba . . . I'm sorry I said that garbage to you," he said finally.

"I know," Seto replied simply. He had heard Joey's apology through the fog in his mind, and he had accepted it.

"I didn't mean what I said then," Joey continued seriously. "Man, I never should've gotten so uptight. . . ."

"It's alright, Wheeler," Seto interrupted. "You're forgiven."

Joey paused, blinking. "Really?" His eyes brightened and he grinned in his classic Joey way. "Alright!"

"That doesn't mean, however, that I will be hanging out with you and the others," Seto added quickly.

Joey shrugged. "Eh, well, I figured that." He paused. "I'm just glad you're back, Kaiba," he said at last.

Seto smirked in his typical way. "They can't keep me down for long," he replied.

"They sure can't!" Mokuba agreed. "I love you, Seto," he said softly.

Seto ruffled his brother's hair. "And I love you, kid," he declared, again holding his brother close.