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Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh!
Seto Kaiba buttoned up his shirt and tied his necktie before going around the room, collecting his laptop and folders full of paper. Satisfied he hadn't missed anything after a careful glance over his room, he closed the door behind him before heading downstairs to the kitchen. He decided to come to his Domino mansion more frequently in the future, as it seemed to relax and refresh him better than his Tokyo penthouse or his Yokohama house did, even when he was working.
Downstairs, Mokuba was already at a stool on the island counter in the kitchen, buttering a toast while talking to someone on his cell phone, which was balanced on a shoulder. Above the counter, the TV was turned to a news station in low volume, and the weather forecaster was announcing that today would be another cloudless, scorching humid day.
"Leaving so soon?" The raven-haired teenager asked as he snapped his mobile phone shut, eyeing his older brother's attire and bag. Seto poured himself a cup of coffee before taking a seat across from Mokuba.
"Hm…" the CEO acknowledged, taking a slice of toast from the stack. "I might be back later next week, that's when my official break starts, unless—"
"You decide to skip out." Mokuba finished matter-of-factly, but without any bitterness or disappointment. He was used to his workaholic older brother deciding at the last minute that he didn't need a vacation, after all. Seto usually did this, unless he had promised to do something with Mokuba, which he hadn't this summer.
"It's not like you'll miss me, at any rate. Aren't you going to that resort in Kyoto next week with your friends?" Seto asked, glancing across his steaming mug of coffee at his younger brother.
"Yeah…hey can I come crash for a few days in Tokyo afterwards?" Mokuba asked. "I sorta miss the city." The Kaiba brothers lived in the capital most of the time, especially when school was in session, but Mokuba always insisted on coming to their mansion in Domino during breaks, at least for a short amount of time. Usually he had his friends over but he still missed being in the middle of the bustle of the city.
"Sure. Come over whenever you want, you have the key and the transportation. I'd better go. Take care of yourself and remember to call." Seto stood and picked up his briefcase.
"'Bye bro," Mokuba said as he felt Seto pat him once on his shoulder before heading out to the garage.
Seto passed by the Kame Game Shop on his way to the highway. His mind drifted to the evening he had spent with Yugi Motou and his crew.
Everyone had been practically the same since he had seen them six months ago in December. Yugi Motou had been his usual cheerful self, although Seto had a nagging feeling that the former Duelist prodigy had wanted to tell him something. Strangely enough, he had had that feeling from the dog and his sister, too but all three had ended the evening without a word on what was on their minds and Seto hadn't asked.
Incidentally, Tokyo life seemed to have done the dog some good. Yugi had informed him that Joey had transferred to a college in Tokyo when Mai had moved there to study design, and the CEO had to admit, although grudgingly, that the annoyingly yapping blonde seemed to have calmed down over time. Yugi had told him that Joey was studying business, which Seto found hard to believe at best; improved on his manners he may have, but Yugi's closest friend wasn't someone Seto saw as a businessman, never mind a successful one such as himself.
Then there was Yugi himself, who had taken interest in mathematics and computer programming (probably from his time with the Duel cards, Seto concluded) and Tristan, who, Yugi had said was aiming to get into a law school after college (Seto found it hard to believe that Yugi's other close friend had the brains for such rigorous study, but had kept his opinions to himself). Yugi had also told him that Serenity was pursuing art school and was busy with organizing her portfolio.
The young CEO had left before anyone else, tiring quickly of the noisy sounds of video games (amplified several times, it seemed, by Yugi's surround-sound entertainment system) and the way the crew seemed to go on endlessly talking about anything and everything. He wasn't the type to open up to people, no matter how long he had known them or how much they wanted him to, so he had left after a polite amount of time, during which he mainly sipped his beverage and listened as Yugi filled him in.
Reviewing everything he had learned last evening, Seto kept his mind rigidly away from drifting to a last member of that group, a member who should have been included but wasn't…
He was never more grateful when his cell phone rang and soon his mind was cleared of any thought not pertaining to his company as he sped through the expressway.
Amika dusted her hands off and exhaled. Sure, she had been told that the company was short on interns but she hadn't expected the piles of paperwork and organizing that had awaited her since day one. The workload was worst in the public relations department, as it had hired most of the fan girls who had been sacked. The other departments seemed to have interns who were either guys who could care less about what sort of breakfast the CEO had or girls who had more sense.
She was just grateful that she hadn't bumped into the CEO yet; she could just imagine Mrs. Inoue looming over her menacingly with a murderous glint in her eyes if Amika said so much as a "good morning" to him. The brunette shuddered before picking up another pile of files.
It would be even more troublesome, however, if the CEO recognized her. She didn't want to face questions and hoped she could pass the summer without seeing him at his company. At least he would have trouble recognizing her; she had taken pains to look as different as she could from Amika Mazaki by wearing a pair of slim dark-framed glasses, putting on more makeup than she usually did (which could perform magic), wearing clothes about two sizes too big for her, and wearing her hair in a neat bun, which made her look a bit like a young version of Mrs. Inoue, much to her horror. She amusedly wondered if she would grow old to be like the severe secretary and bit the inside of her cheek to prevent herself from giggling out loud.
"How're you doing in there, Tea?" The friendly voice of Mr. Kawabe, the public relations department manager, sounded from the doorway to the office.
"I'm almost finished Mr. Kawabe." Amika replied, looking up from where she was working at her desk organizing files and grinned at the plump, gray-haired, slightly bald man who was peering at her through his gold-framed bifocals.
"Excellent, excellent. There're a few things I'm having you edit this afternoon – some press conference material and the like. And I want you to be there when we give the press conference tomorrow. It's a good chance to see how animalistic reporters are." He winked. Amika laughed as the jovial man hummed and walked on down the hallway. She had almost told him about that time when the tabloids had had a field day last year when they'd seen her dancing with the son of a Senator during a ball that her parents had held and she had been faced with her fair horde of flashing cameras and microphones. Paparazzi had taken pictures of the couple so that the situation looked more compromising than it had actually been. Over time, the absurd speculations that the two would marry to form business and political ties had died down, but she hadn't forgotten that experience and had a feeling that she wouldn't ever forget.
"Tea! Oh wow, you're nearly done!" Hana, Amika's first friend at Kaiba Corp, entered the office. "Here, have a drink," she placed a can of soda in front of Amika as she popped her own, perching on the edged of her desk.
"Thanks." Amika said gratefully as she took a long drink. "Do you know what that press conference tomorrow is going to about?"
"Hmm…well, Kaiba Corp's releasing that new gaming model next week, isn't it? The Internet's buzzing with that news so most likely they'd focus on that, and then there's the new model of computer software they're releasing in the fall so of course there'll be people from those geek magazines asking about that, there's something about a contract between Kaiba Corp and some company in Korea…oh, and there's another rumor that our CEO's having an affair with someone, so that's bound to come up once." Hana ticked off each topic with her manicured fingers.
"An affair?" Amika raised an eyebrow, head propped up on one hand as she sipped her drink.
"Oh, well there's at least one of those every week so it's not bound to be big, but you know, tabloids make up the weirdest stories all the time, and there have been a lot of balls and social events recently that our CEO's been to so I bet the paparazzi have a handful of pictures to flaunt. But it's strange, isn't it? You'd expect someone like him to be seeing someone. He probably is, don't you think? But he's probably keeping it a secret to protect himself and his…significant other." Hana giggled. Amika grinned. Although her perky friend loved gossip, she was sensible enough not to try the silly antics that had gotten her colleagues fired. Besides, as she had told Amika previously, she had a boyfriend whom she was perfectly happy with at the moment and didn't want to waste her time pursuing another man, billionaire or not, since most likely the attempt would be unfruitful at best.
The next week flew by with days filled with work and work and more work, but Amika was only grateful that there was something to busy her mind with.
Still, she was glad that she wouldn't see the now-familiar glass and steel building until Monday when she walked out of it as the early evening hours approached on Friday. Hana and the others had other appointment so she couldn't go out with them after work, but Amika decided she would do some shopping and eating out this evening. It was practically the first time she had set out by herself in the busy streets of Tokyo. When she had first arrived, she had dined out with her parents and had gone shopping to a few places with her mother, but that had been the luxury places that only a selected few were privileged to set foot upon; she was eager to walk freely as she had done so often in New York, or Boston, or any number of large cities she had visited with her friends in the States.
She spent a few fun hours looking for presents to send home – one of her friends' birthday was coming up, and she selected an assortment of merchandise to mail out the next day. Opening the glass door to the accessory shop she had purchased the last goods from, Amika saw that the sky was now a shade of deepest blue, but that didn't seem to have had any effect on visibility; the cars, vendors, stores, and streetlights lit up the city so brightly that it was almost like daytime.
Through the jostling crowds that still filled the streets, Amika spotted a café that reminded her of the one she frequented often at home. Smiling slightly, she entered.
"Welcome, miss. Table for one?" A waitress greeted her at the entrance and smiled at her cheerfully. Amika nodded and was led upstairs to a cozy seat in a corner next to the window. "I'll be back in just a moment to take your order," the waitress said as she placed the menu in front of Amika.
Fifteen minutes later, with a warm bowl of French onion soup and a small basket of breadsticks in front of her, Amika's mind wandered as it often did when she was alone nowadays. And, like it did more often than not, it wandered to Tea, and her old self. From her bag, she took out an envelope with Tea's papers. She took out the passport with Tea's identification information. Amika reached for a smaller envelope that was filled pictures of Tea. Some had been taken in the States but others had been taken in Japan.
In all the pictures, a brunette with shoulder length hair and friendly blue eyes looked back at her. It was clear, especially from the pictures with her old friends in Japan but also from those of her in the Dance Academy that Tea didn't give much thought to makeup or accessories. She wasn't a tomboy really, but she didn't mind getting her hands dirty either. There was a series of pictures she had looked at yesterday where Tea and her friends were posed in front of a forest with bulging backpacks on their shoulders. They had all looked as if they had slept in the woods for a week and their clothing was rumpled. But they had appeared happy. Radiantly, brilliantly, triumphantly, ecstatically happy. Amika wondered what they had gone through together to make them look like that.
Next to her table, a couple set down. Amika wouldn't have noticed their presence except the boy stared at her for a moment too long. It wasn't an admiring glance nor was it a rude glance; that's what struck her as odd. But now the boy had turned his back to her and was talking to his date. Amika shrugged and finished her food. After the waitress had taken the dishes away and left her the bill, her cell phone rang.
"I'll be right back." Rika, Mokuba's girlfriend, said as she excused herself to go to the bathroom. Mokuba took this opportunity to glance back at the person seated at the table next to his. He could hear her side of the phone conversation from here.
"Hello? Yes, this is Amika Mazaki speaking. Oh, hi Yuuka!"
Amika Mazaki…hadn't he heard that name from somewhere? Mokuba thought hard but came up with nothing. There was something strange about this person, something oddly familiar. But before he could dwell further on the matter, Rika returned and Amika left.
Mokuba was still thinking about the mysterious girl when Seto came home.
"Since when do you watch the news in your spare time?" The CEO asked his younger brother as he tossed his briefcase to a nearby table and sat on a couch.
"I've decided to become a world-educated man. How's that for a change?" Mokuba said seriously, as he leaned his elbows forward on his legs and intently stared at the screen. Seto snorted and loosened his tie. "Maybe this is a bad omen. Mokuba becoming a world-educated man, what's next? I should check the Kaiba Corp OS tomorrow; we might have a virus outbreak."
"Ouch, that really hurts Seto." Mokuba clutched at his heart in mock pain as he buried his face on a cushion. "How could you say such things?"
"We all know I'm the evil older brother," Seto smirked as he leafed through the small pile of mail he had retrieved from his secretary earlier. He found a cream-colored envelope that looked like an invitation. "You've got to be kidding me," he muttered, flinging the small slip of midnight blue paper onto the coffee table.
"What is it?" Mokuba picked up the slip of paper and read. "We humbly invite you to a Concert under the Stars with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. This event will be hosted by Watanabe Enterprises as a fundraising event to raise aid and awareness to children's hospitals nationwide. Included in the program will be a banquet and speech from…" Mokuba looked up at his older brother, who had returned from his room wearing more comfortable clothes. "Can't you have someone else go?"
"I haven't been to those in a while," Seto grunted as he flipped through the TV channels. "Public image."
"Hm, so you do care about those things too, huh?" Mokuba pretended to not have noticed Seto's deathly glare.
Amika stared at the invitation. Her mind went back to this afternoon.
"We're going to be in Hong Kong for a few days and can't make it to the fundraiser so you'll have to be there for us." Her father said, handing her the invitation.
"If you're busy with work though, we can send one of the directors, can't we?" Her mother had asked. "And she's not going with anyone so it might be lonely…"
"No, it's all right. I don't mind going, and I met some people at our gala last time. Didn't you say most of them were invited, too?" Amika asked, smiling at her parents.
"Well, that's true, but…" Her mother still looked worried.
"It's okay, mom. It sounds fun – I've never been to a classical concert in Japan before. I'd like to go." The brunette insisted.
"Well, if you say so…" Mrs. Mazaki responded, face still doubtful.
She marked the date on her calendar and went to sleep.
A/N: The 4th year anniversary of this story is coming up really soon! It makes me disappointed to see only 8 chapters in 4 years, so I'll try to work harder at putting up more chapters over the summer! For once, I don't have the excuses of studying for SATs or preparing my college application! And I only have one book for the summer reading so hopefully I'll have a lot of free time.
Thank you for reading!! Until next time.