Despite What You Might Think

DESPITE

Dedicated to Meena, the Meener, whom, though not a Yu-Gi-Oh fan, is a wonderful scenario consultant and an absolutely frustrating beta.

AN: To be read AFTER "Not" and "Sometimes" respectively. If you'd like to forego these two and just read this story, go ahead. I'm simply saying that you'd understand this one so much more if you read those two (in the order that they're mentioned) first. They're both one-shots so you needn't worry about being stuck with two 15-chapter prequels. If you'd rather not…Enjoy.


Beep. Beep. Beep. Seto groaned and rolled over, his hand connecting squarely with the "Off" button of his alarm clock. Finally. The night had been long and unpleasant. There was no euphemism for it. He hadn't been able to get a wink of sleep. Going to school would hardly make his day any better. His legs swung over the side of his bed, his feet found his slippers and he plodded to his bathroom.

Despite the fact that school didn't start formally until 8:30, the halls of Domino High were bustling with students heading to and fro, most trying to get the answers to last night's homework. It was through this throng that Seto Kaiba made his way at 8:00.

Seto often wondered about normality. Did it really exist? Events of the past few days seemed to refute that. Lately, nothing was typical. The rain that constantly poured outside didn't help much either. He shook his head slightly and tried to concentrate on something other than the reason for his mysterious lack of sleep last night. Looking up, Seto stopped and then turned towards the door of class 2-A.

His hand was on the doorknob, about to turn it when he heard her – the reason behind his insomnia: Anzu Mazaki. He knew that tone of voice she was using. It was the same one that she had used on the top of the Duellist Kingdom castle. This time, though, she wasn't talking to him, but about…him.


Anzu Mazaki awoke with a start. It was late. She groaned. She'd only managed to get to sleep half of an hour ago and it was already time to get up and head to school. Something she dreaded, secretly. As the "Friendship cheerleader" of the group, it was her duty to be caring, loving and always happy to be in school. She snorted as she made her way to the bathroom.

Despite the fact that she had said she was late, Anzu found herself in the 2-A classroom at twenty minutes to eight. She set her bag down and surveyed those present. Yugi and the others weren't going to be this early. A few of the regular card-junkies were gathered together at the back desks, checking out decks. A few seats away, Mai-wannabes were chatting aimlessly about the latest fashions.

It was still raining and she hadn't brought a book or her Discman. She'd love a chance to sneak into the Dance room for a few minutes. No one would be in there this early. Without her song, though, it was pointless.

She sat in the second row from the front, second row from the window. Kaiba sat in the front row, right next to the window. Anzu looked up from her desk and her eyes connected with the empty furniture. She could almost see his shape, seated, staring out of the window. He had called last night to find out if she was home, if she was safe. He had saved her during the Battle City tournament – though that might have been in payment for her saving Mokuba. Did he care? What did he think about? Why was she thinking about this? Didn't she want to get some sleep tonight? She shook her head to clear it. A stray though floated in. If he did care, how long had it been?

A hand waved in the corner of her eye and she turned as her name was called. A few of her other friends – what few girls she knew – were gathered at one of the middle desks. Smiling, Anzu walked over to them. She was greeted first by Kaoru Yuuki, a manga-obsessed blonde girl.

"Morning Anzu. What's up?" Kaoru could be just a bit too cheery sometimes. She outstripped Anzu on that scale by miles.

"Nothing much. How are you guys?" There were about five others with Kaoru. Of course, she received your usual "Too much Math homework…" groans. Personally, Anzu liked Math. Especially Trigonometry, which was what they were studying. She settled into a chair and listened without interest. She was almost dozing back off when Kaoru's voice jerked her up.

"…Seto Kaiba. I mean, c'mon. Have you ever met such a jerk? He thinks it fine to just push people around cause he's rich…" Anzu wondered when the conversation had degraded into gossip. "…I could swear I've never seen his parents for PTMs."

"I'd bet they really don't care, with an attitude like his plus, they're probably too busy with that company of theirs. And all he does is run around, flaunting their money on stupid Duel Monsters tournaments," contributed another voice, "…You can understand why he doesn't have any friends. There's nothing to care about. The guy's a heartless bastard…"

That was out of line. She knew he wasn't a totally heartless. He just seldom chose to show his feelings. Yesterday was still fresh in her mind, after all. He didn't have to call last night but he had, and that meant…something. She clenched her fists and continued listening.

"…Mokuba, yeah I think that was his name. I don't even know why he's allowed to have a brother. The little guy worships him…" It seemed there was more than one person watching Seto. Kaoru continued, "…Probably treats him like a dog…"

"Hey, have you ever wondered why he doesn't have a girlfriend?" asked someone with a rather sly slant. "No guys seem to have anything to do with him but…no girls either? That's kinda weird, don't ya think?"

"Hmm…you think he's…gay?"

"Doubt it. Just completely incapable," Kaoru answered. "Besides, he's so irresponsible that he probably couldn't juggle school and girlfriend. I heard his grades are the lowest in the class…"

"And who told you that?" Anzu heard herself before she realised she had spoken. Everyone was looking at her. She hadn't felt standing up.

"Well, no one, Anzu. I just heard…" Kaoru quailed under the look Anzu gave her.

"Then you have no right to say it, do you, Kaoru? None of you have any right to say anything about Seto Kaiba."

"Anzu, what's wrong with you?" one of the girls asked, "It's just Kaiba. The guy's a jerk to you and your friends most of all. You're actually going to defend him?"

"Yes, I am! Why? Because people like you make me sick," she spat. "How can you sit here and pass judgement on people you don't know? You have no idea what his life has been like. You don't know anything about him."

"And you do?" Kaoru countered, standing up.

"In fact, I do." Anzu answered. She halted for a moment, wondering how much she ought to reveal. What would he not want people to know?

"What do you know, Anzu? Are you his close, personal friend?" someone asked. "Because we could easily retract what we just said, you know. About his not having a girlfriend…"

No longer caring what she said, Anzu launched her assault.

"I'm not his girlfriend! But I do know some things about him. Yes, he's a jerk sometimes and yes, he does push people around unnecessarily but what would you do if you didn't have anyone to look after you? You don't see his parents at PTMs because his are dead!"

A few gasps emanated from the girls but none really of remorse.

"And you're wrong, Seto does have friends. Yugi's his friend, Tristan and Joey and Mai are his friends. I'm his friend." Anzu paused for a breath before continuing. "He's got responsibilities too, you know. Not only does he handle schoolwork – which you don't seem to be able to do – he also runs Kaiba Corp. All that money he flaunts is his. He earns it. He's developed almost every new gadget Kaiba Corp has brought out in the past six years. Yeah, he handles all of that and get the BEST GRADES in class

"On top of that, he is the sole guardian of his little brother. You got his name right; it is Mokuba. And Mokuba. You shouldn't even mention him. The kid's sweet and caring and loves his brother more than anything in the world and you wonder why? Simple. Because, although Seto may not care about you, Kaoru, or you, Hasumi, he values his little brother's life more than his own. He's faced death more than once to save that little boy! He loves him. He threatened to kill himself in Duellist Kingdom so that he could save him!"

"Jeez, so he's not all that bad to his kid brother. He's still a heartless bastard," Kaoru intoned, feigning boredom under the public scrutiny of the entire class.

"NO HE'S NOT!" Anzu screamed, infuriated with her 'friends' indifference. "You just don't get it do you? Seto has a heart! He just doesn't want to show you. How can someone be a heartless bastard if they love? You don't love with your kidneys! He cares about people, just not everyone he meets. And I don't blame him for not caring about you. If anyone in this class says he doesn't have a heart after knowing this, they don't know what a heart is."

"Fine, fine," Kaoru answered, attempting to brush off Anzu temper. Anzu could see she planned to take this argument through to the end. She had been publicly humiliated and Kaoru didn't take that lightly. "So let's say he does have a heart, this "Seto" of yours." Anzu scowled at her.

"He's not mine," she ground out. "I said that already."

"Whatever. Name one person, other than his brother, that he's shown consideration for. Cared for, as you say."

Anzu hesitated for a moment. Should she say it? What the hell? "Me."

"Yeah, right," Kaoru snorted as the other began to snigger. "You?"

"Yeah, prove it." Challenged.

"If I had to do that, it wouldn't be true." Anzu retorted.

"Don't fight fights you can't win, Anzu," Hasumi intoned, "Seto Kaiba is a heartless bastard. End of story." Anzu groaned in exasperation.

"None of you understand! Believe what you like but if you go around judging books by their covers, you're going to miss some great reading. Seto Kaiba is one of the few people in the world who doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve. If you can't see that, you're blind. It didn't take me much time and I was twelve!"

With that, she turned and walked toward the door. She snuck a glance at the clock. 8:18. No one said anything as she moved. She felt sure she had just told the entire world everything she knew – and felt? – about Seto Kaiba. Preferably, no one would ever tell him. Sighing, she turned the doorknob.


"…None of you have any right to say anything about Seto Kaiba." What on Earth? Seto stopped turning the knob and waited. Was she defending him? And what had they been saying about him anyway?

"Anzu, what's wrong with you?" a girl asked. "It's just Kaiba. The guy's a jerk to you and your friends most of all. You're actually going to defend him?"

"Yes, I am!" Seto's heartbeat stopped for a fraction of a second. Did she just say that? He continued to listen. Anzu Mazaki was defending him? She echoed his next thought.

"Why?" Exactly what he was thinking. "Because people like you make me sick. How can you sit here and pass judgement on people you don't know? You have no idea what his life has been like. You don't know anything about him." And she thought she knew what about him exactly? Seto smirked slightly and leaned against the doorframe. This promised to be good.

"And you do?" someone asked. Seto thought he knew the voice. Kaoru, or something like that. Now, what could Anzu say to that? She didn't know much beyond the fact that he went to school, played Duel Monsters, owned Kaiba Crop and had a brother named Mokuba. He almost dropped his bag on his foot when he heard her next outburst:

"In fact, I do." Oh good. He would now be able to hear all the rumours that flew around school about him. That would, most likely, be her only line of defence. Unless, of course, she actually knew something. Which he doubted very much.

"What do you know, Anzu? Are you his close, personal friend?" someone asked. "Because we could easily retract what we just said, you know. About his not having a girlfriend…" Seto held back a snort. Him and Anzu? Yeah, right.

"I'm not his girlfriend!" Thank you for clearing that up, he thought.

"But I do know some things about him." Let's hear them, Ms. Mazaki.

"Yes, he's a jerk sometimes and yes, he does push people around unnecessarily but what would you do if you didn't have anyone to look after you?" What? Seto stood up straight. What did she know about that? "You don't see his parents at PTMs because his are dead!"

His balance faltered. No one…no one knew that, no one but Mokuba and the Kaiba Corp executives. Anzu didn't know of any of them. Mokuba wouldn't tell her. How the hell had she found out? The gasps didn't penetrate him as much as the pain in her voice when she said it. The feelings behind it were almost as heart wrenching as his own at that moment.

"And you're wrong, Seto does have friends." He listened with interest as she continued. How much did she know?

"Yugi's his friend, Tristan and Joey and Mai are his friends. I'm his friend." Anzu paused for a breath. Seto's breath felt constricted. Friends?

"He's got responsibilities too, you know." And those are, Anzu? Seto found himself carrying on a conversation with her inside his head.

"Not only does he handle schoolwork – which you don't seem to be able to do – he also runs Kaiba Corp." He wondered where she got her information. Wherever it was, she certainly got it accurate.

"All that money he flaunts is his. He earns it. He's developed almost every new gadget Kaiba Corp has brought out in the past six years. Yeah, he handles all of that AND gets the BEST GRADES in class." Somewhere inside of him, the egotist woke up and grinned. It wasn't everyday a beauty praised one so highly. Wait up! Beauty?

"On top of that, he is the sole guardian of his little brother. You got his name right; it is Mokuba." Now this was getting suspicious. Someone inside must be giving her information. She had no way of knowing the things she knew unless she spied on him.

"And Mokuba. You shouldn't even mention him." He stiffened. What about Mokuba?

"The kid's sweet and caring and loves his brother more than anything in the world and you wonder why? Simple. Because, although Seto may not care about you, Kaoru, or you, Hasumi, he values his little brother's life more than his own. He's faced death more than once to save that little boy! He loves him. He threatened to kill himself in Duellist Kingdom so that he could save him!"

Well, she had been there for that tragic display. Seto recalled she had put out a lecture much like this one afterwards. He had, of course, been on the receiving end…not the subject.

"Jeez, so he's not all that bad to his kid brother. He's still a heartless bastard," Kaoru again. What the girl had against him, Seto didn't know. He wasn't very keen on finding out. He was more interested in Anzu's reply. For some reason, he recently (i.e. since yesterday) found himself always more interested in her opinion than anyone else's.

"NO HE'S NOT!" Her vehemence stunned him. "You just don't get it do you? Seto has a heart! He just doesn't want to show you. How can someone be a heartless bastard if they love? You don't love with your kidneys! He cares about people, just not everyone he meets. And I don't blame him for not caring about you. If anyone in this class says he doesn't have a heart after knowing this, they don't know what a heart is."

"Fine, fine. So let's say he does have a heart, this "Seto" of yours." Hers? He barely heard her when she replied.

"He's not mine, I said that already."

"Whatever. Name one person, other than his brother, that he's shown consideration for. Cared for, as you say." Would she answer? Did she know the answer to that one? And, if she did, would she have the courage to say it out loud to all of them? He strained his ears. He had to hear her reply. He caught his breath when finally she said, "Me."

"Yeah, right," Sniggers. "You?" She knew about the call.

"Yeah, prove it." Challenged. He almost felt like walking in right then, to see what she would do.

"If I had to do that, it wouldn't be true." Anzu retorted. He didn't hear. She knew.

"Don't fight fights you can't win, Anzu. Seto Kaiba is a heartless bastard. End of story." Kaoru yet again.

"None of you understand! Believe what you like but if you go around judging books by their covers, you're going to miss some great reading. Seto Kaiba is one of the few people in the world who doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve. If you can't see that, you're blind. It didn't take me much time and I was twelve!" Twelve? 6th grade?

He placed his hand on the doorknob once again. He pulled his mask of indifference on. And the doorknob began to turn…


Anzu looked up and met blue. A blue school uniform that was way too tall to be anyone else. Raising her head, she looked up at a face of complete indifference. How long had he been standing there?

Seto looked down. Her eyes mirrored his own. There was something there he couldn't identify. They both looked away at the same time. Anzu made a move to the left and brushed past him. He watched her move down the hall for a few moments before turning right.

"Despite what you might think, you don't care." They both told themselves firmly.


AN: Next chapter will be out soon, if you'd like. Hope you enjoyed this one.

Reviews, Flames, Comments and Criticism are all welcome.