Well, this is my Christmas fic. Unfortunately, as you noticed, it's about a day late. Blame it on the plot bunny biting me two nights before Christmas, and my parents dragging me everywhere for more than just a few hours on both days. Worse - this is my first YGO fanfic, so I don't quite know if I got the characters right or not.
On the other hand: this is my favourite pairing from Yuugi-ou. X3 Although it's not really a romance story ... Oh well.
Rating and Warnings: PG-13. The swearing's a step up from PG, but there's very little of it. Spoilers for Battle City and the Ancient Egypt/Memory World arc.
Disclaimer: I do not own Yuugi-ou, or any of the characters used in this fic.
Notes: While I am touched that so many of you want a sequel, I must emphasise that this is a Christmas one-shot.
Some anime holiday special: the characters were currently throwing some big party and arguing over where to put the mistletoe.
A weather report. ("-will be a chance of snow tonight, so all you late-night shoppers better get home quick o-")
People attempting to sing Christmas carols in broken English; how in hell could the director have decided to broadcast those losers on local television?
Music blared out of the side speakers at an unnecessarily loud volume as a concert band appeared on screen, accompanied by a multitude of colours and bright lights. With a startled cry, Mokuba fumbled with the remote before he was able to finally press the OFF button. Immediately the noise and flashes ceased. Snarling a curse that an eleven-year-old shouldn't even have known, the boy threw the plastic box to the other side of the couch.
"Dammit! There's never anything good on during Christmas-"
Mokuba's eyes widened as he suddenly realised how the noise must've disturbed his brother at work, and in one movement the boy whirled around and rose to his knees, mouth opening as he readied an apology. But it died in his throat as soon as Mokuba caught sight of his brother. He had been expecting to see the older boy glaring at him, face twisted in annoyance. Instead, Kaiba Seto was simply sitting in his armchair; legs crossed with his head resting lightly on his left hand; eyes closed. For once in two weeks, he was taking at least a short break from all the work that had become his responsibility since the festive season had started.
A card was absently being turned around and around with long, lanky fingers in Kaiba's other hand. Catching a glimpse when its front was turned towards him, Mokuba noted with a small smile that it was his brother's once-again favourite: the Blue Eyes White Dragon. Ever since Battle City, Kaiba had kept at least one of the three cards with him at all times. Mokuba had sometimes found him with the ones he happened to have at the moment in front of him, just staring at them with a thoughtful expression on his face ...
Suddenly Kaiba's head dropped forward, off his hand, and then snapped back up as blue eyes opened and blinked once or twice. His other hand had curled into a fist, a corner of the Blue Eyes White Dragon card gripped between two fingers. Mokuba's own eyes widened considerably. His older brother had almost dozed off!
"Nii-sama," the boy said quietly. Kaiba placed his upraised forearm on the table as he turned his head to look at Mokuba, his facial expression back to its usual seriousness. "Maybe you should take a longer rest and get some sleep. Overworking isn't doing you any good."
The raven-haired boy almost immediately regretted those words as his brother's eyes narrowed in anger - at himself, mostly, for almost falling asleep. Sliding the Blue Eyes card into a pant pocket, Kaiba stood up abruptly from behind his desk, shoving the armchair backwards as he did, and made his way towards the doors across the room.
"I'm going out for a while," he said as he walked past the couch. Mokuba slid off and made to follow.
"I'll go with you!"
Mokuba flinched and stopped in his tracks at the harsh refusal. Kaiba had paused, and now turned so he was looking at his younger brother side-on. The boy's shoulders were sagged, and he looked hurt. Kaiba took in a deep breath, and let it out slowly as his expression softened and he felt his body relax. He even allowed a smile - one of those rare, genuine smiles he reserved for his little brother - to grace his lips.
"I just need some fresh air, Mokuba. Walk around a bit and all that."
He waited, watching the younger boy as he thought it over, and was finally rewarded with a small, but happy smile. Sighing softly in relief, Kaiba turned and exited the room, the door shutting behind him with a click.
Mokuba closed his eyes, and opened them again as he tilted his head a little to the side. The smile had remained, but it was sadder.
"Oh nii-sama ..."
Nightlife in Domino was more lively than usual. Almost every building had lights, tinsel, and other decorations set up, and everywhere last-minute shoppers bustled in and out of stores to buy presents for family and friends. They worried over the clouds that had settled over the city earlier, remembering something about it being a white Christmas this year, and fretted impatiently as they waited in long queues. Outside, young couples walked in the glow of Christmas lights as they simply enjoyed each other's company. Old friends discussed their plans for the next day, accompanied by laughter, bright smiles, and the occasional nervous grin as the subject of being unable to get exactly what their four-year-old wanted came up.
All this, Kaiba saw and heard as he strolled along the streets, his breath forming a light mist in the crisp, cold air (which he barely noticed) and hands in his pockets. And all this, for the last five years, made Kaiba uncomfortable, and still continued to do so.
It was more than just the pressure from work; although, he had to admit, there was almost too much for him to handle everytime Christmas came around. Kaiba frowned, recalling how he had almost fallen asleep during that brief moment when he paused and put aside those calculations and assessments - and in front of Mokuba, no less. The lanky teen refrained from gritting his teeth in self-annoyance. He was not a weakling; he refused to crack under the pressure, no matter how little rest he got.
Glancing to his left, Kaiba happened to catch sight of a pair in their late teens (older than him, but amusingly enough: he was as tall as they were) as they walked past in the opposite direction. The boy had an arm around his girlfriend's waist, holding her close. She snuggled up against him, giggling at something he had said. Rolling his eyes with a snort, Kaiba returned to staring at the path before him. With all the American influence in Japan and all the money he earned around this time every year, it had slipped his mind that the Japanese Christmas was really meant for young, romantic couples.
The thought of it made him sick, really, but it amused him too. Why bother celebrating a relationship that was just going to end in disaster later on?
Then there was the whole concept of giving presents to those close to you. Good for business or not, the idea of wasting money on petty gifts just for the sake of commemorating kinship and friendship was ludicrous. Just like all that bullshit Yuugi and his little followers kept on spouting about the bonds they had with each other. Friends, family: they were just things that were going to be taken away one day.
The crowd of people around Kaiba had thinned, and when the last of them had passed him by, leaving him with a more comfortable amount of space around him, the boy turned to glare behind him; back at those naïve idiots living in their own fake, porcelain little worlds.
What would they be left with then?
His mouth twitching, Kaiba closed his eyes and turned back around. His eyes opened, staring at the ground ... then he blinked and looked up towards the sky. Snow was drifting down slowly from the clouds above. Behind him, Kaiba could hear gasps and shouts of surprises as others also took note of the powdery substance as it began to create a thin, white sheet underneath their feet. Kaiba found himself removing both hands from his pockets and stretching one out, palm up, as he continued to stare above. He followed one snowflake as it floated down and onto his hand, and then as it evaporated from his body heat. His fingers curled, forming a hollow with his hand, and Kaiba stared at it for a few moments.
"Oh - Mummy, look! It's snowing!"
Kaiba's eyes flickered to across the street as he lowered his hand. A child was swirling around with his arms outstretched, kicking up bits of snows with his feet and his young face alit with glee as he laughed. His mother, standing nearby, looked amused as the little boy fell down, clutching his head in an attempt to stop the wave of dizziness. She walked over, squatted down, and helped him back onto his feet, holding him by his shoulders until he got his bearings back. When he did and saw that look on his mother's face, along with that spark of worry in her eyes, the boy just grinned and laughed.
"Daddy, look! The world's gone white!"
"Oi, otou-san - snow!"
With a sharp intake of breath, Kaiba span around and walked away from the mother and child, his coat swishing behind him. He just kept on moving, not wanting to look back or hear that boy's laughter again. He didn't want to be reminded of what he had lost ...
It was some time before Kaiba finally stopped. His heart was beating fast, and his breath came heavily, so he took a few moments to compose himself. He suddenly noticed a bridge to his right, now lightly covered in snow, stretching over a river that had frozen over. Kaiba made his way over there, absently brushing away the snow that had gathered on his hair and shoulders. Resting his hands on the bridge-rail and ignoring the cold that bit at them, he leaned over to stare at his distorted reflection in the ice.
That boy had made him recall that he hadn't always used to despise Christmas - and, indeed, the world in general - as he did now. He remembered happy moments when he had been so much younger, seated with his parents as they read him stories, in front of a warm, glowing fire with a Christmas tree tucked into the corner beside it. Then, after Mokuba had been born and their mother had passed away, the little boy's curious questions when Christmas came around, and the fun times the two brothers had shared as their father looked on.
His turning point had probably been when his father had died; when all his relatives had stripped him and Mokuba of their inheritance and dumped them in that orphanage. Things only became worse when that bastard Gouzaburou had adopted them. That oyaji - May he burn in hell - had probably never even celebrated Christmas once in his pathetic lifetime. He certainly hadn't approved of the idea when Mokuba had brought it up once, during dinner, a few days before the brothers were to spend their first Christmas in the Kaiba household.
Kaiba shook his head, and brushed the snow off of himself again. He didn't want to remember that bastard, not to mention he'd promised Mokuba that he would bury his hatred with Alcatraz, the tower having been destroyed after the Battle City finals and now lay at the bottom of the ocean. It was easier said than done, though.
Speaking of Battle City ...
Looking to his left, Kaiba saw a flat strip of land next to the river, where he should have been able to see concrete if it weren't for the snow. On its other side, a slope ran up until the ground was parallel with the rest of the city. It was on that ground beside the river, he remembered, where Yuugi had had a duel with one of the Rare Hunters - the one with Osiris. His brow knitted together as he also remembered Yuugi mentioning something about that Rare Hunter being possessed by Malik. Then a corner of Kaiba's mouth curled into a smirk: as if he'd buy that magic bullshit.
Kaiba slipped a hand into his pocket, withdrew the Blue Eyes White Dragon card, and stared at the dragon's image. The card felt warm to his touch, having absorbed some of his body heat, but was quickly being cooled by the surrounding cold as the snow continued to fall.
... there was that illusion he had seen during his duel with Isis in the semi-finals ...
That sharp, twisted pain in his chest ...
That desperate, sorrowful cry as tears glistened down blue-white scales ...
Kaiba sighed heavily, watching the mist his breath created as it appeared against the falling white particles, flowed over the card, and dissolved.
Then he suddenly sensed a presence to his right, as though someone had simply materialised beside him.
He jerked away from it and whirled around to face whoever it was in one motion, the snow falling from his head and shoulders to the ground. He failed to notice the Blue Eyes card slipping from his grip to drop into the snow.
It was a girl, possibly about the same age as him, with her arms crossed over the bridge-rail and looking as though she was peering out at the river. Taking her appearance in at a glance, Kaiba noted that almost everything about her was white, or near enough. The sky-blue coat she wore, lined with white fluff, covered whatever shirt she was wearing underneath and wrapped around her slim form. A long white skirt flowed out from under the coat and ended just above her feet, over which were navy, soft, malleable shoes. Pale hair, coloured like sun-bleached sand, fell to her waist. Her skin, as he saw from part of her face and her fingers, appeared to be completely white (which of course was impossible - she probably had some kind of skin disease). The only part which Kaiba was unable to see, as she had not brushed back all of her hair, were her eyes.
Kaiba's own eyes hardened in a glare. How had she got so close without him noticing?
"What the hell do you want?" he snapped.
No answer. The girl just remained as she had, as though she hadn't heard a thing. One of Kaiba's eyes twitched in annoyance.
Kaiba forced himself to calm down. His eyes narrowed as he studied the girl even further. There was something off about her. It was just his imagination, he was sure ... but the air seemed colder around her, as though she sucked even the tiniest amount of warmth from it. A wind whisked past them, blowing up his coat. Kaiba growled as it dumped more snow upon him and he shook his head to dislodge it. By now, his hair was rather damp, and he took a moment to brush a few strands out of his eyes before glaring at the girl again. The wind had blown her hair back and lifted it from her shoulders, creating pale, silky waves, but he still couldn't see her eyes - and she still hadn't moved or even uttered a word.
Realisation dawned on Kaiba as he noticed something else: unlike him, there was absolutely no sign that snow had even touched her. The falling white particles seemed to disappear when they neared her, or just glided over her image without settling until they reached the ground. How was that possible? Especially since it looked as if the girl had and would never move.
Intrigued and wanting answers, Kaiba reached out and grabbed her by the elbow. Her hair swung and the snow crunched beneath her feet as she was forced to turn to face him. The tall, lanky boy caught a quick glimpse of a white, impassive face-
And Kaiba found himself staring into a pair of void-like eyes; dark, depthless, and of a very familiar shade of blue. Something glimmered in those eyes, and they were slowly widening ...
... dry, heavy, exhausted gasps for air ... furious curses in another language ...
... cool, masked, blue eyes watching ...
... two figures swinging dangerously above a dark abyss, a breath away from falling ...
... a voice calling a name in desperation ...
... a bright light ...
... a terrible, beautiful, blue-white brilliance surrounding them; protecting them ...
... light flashing as buildings all around collapsed into ruin ... a figure crumbling lifeless to the ground ...
... the same voice crying out in horror and unbelievable despair ...
Heat shot up his arm as alarm bells sounded off in his mind. Kaiba tore his hand away as both teenagers took a step back; the girl moving a hand to hover over her chest as the other rested on the bridge-rail. Their eyes remained locked, their breathing hard. Snow continued to fall lightly around them.
Kaiba saw himself reflected in her two eyes, as blue as his own, and he wondered why: why, oh why, did those eyes - did this girl - seem so familiar?
The girl, too, was pondering the same thing as she stared at her own image in his eyes. She was also wondering what it was, exactly, that she had felt when this young man had touched her. The girl lifted the hand she had placed on her chest and examined it as though seeing it for the first time. Although it was still impossibly pale, her skin seemed different, almost healthier, and not so much like a spectre's.
And there was that warmth she had felt during that brief moment of contact. Not the warmth like when one dresses correctly on a cold day, or when one snuggles up under the covers at night to escape the chilling night air. No; it was a warmth of a much deeper kind. Just from that single touch, even if not direct, she had never felt so warm in her life. It had spread in a gentle wave across her being, driving out the cold emptiness that had always been there, and somehow, there was the sensation that she was now "filled" and more complete. She knew she was different. She was aware.
As if suddenly released from a trance, the young man breathed in sharply, and brought a hand to his face. This drew her attention back to him. His eyes were closed and screwed up in confusion as he continued taking in deep breaths. The girl, suddenly feeling a little uncomfortable, shifted her gaze to the ground, where it landed on something sticking out from the snow. She squatted down and parted the snow to find that the object was a card - a Magic and Wizards card, to be precise. She gripped it between her fingers and lifted it up off the ground. After brushing off a few bits of snow clinging to the card and turning it around, she realised that it was one of the rarest of all: the Blue Eyes White Dragon.
Staring at its picture, the girl felt the card warm in her hands, and for the second time, she felt a wave of warmth wash over her. She gasped softly and almost dropped the card in her surprise, but she managed to catch it right before it fell into the snow again. She then stood up, the card in hand, and looked at the young man.
Kaiba jerked, pulling his hand away from his face. His still slightly dazed eyes immediately landed on the pale girl standing in front of him, and he realised she had just spoken for the first time. Her voice was soft, and also had that increasingly frustrating familiarity about it.
"Excuse me," the girl repeated. "Did you drop this?"
She held something out toward him, gripped between two slender, white fingers. Kaiba saw at once it was his Blue Eyes. He must have dropped it when he had been startled by the girl's presence.
Finally regaining a hold on himself, Kaiba straightened and reached forward to take hold of one of the card's corners. The girl held onto it for perhaps a moment longer than was necessary, staring at the image of the blue-white dragon, before realising what she was doing and let go. Kaiba returned the card inside his pocket without a word.
Blue eyes met blue eyes once again. Somewhere in the distance, a clock struck midnight and chimed, and various calls of "Merry Christmas" chorused from all over Domino. Snow still fell, and by now had covered the city in a white blanket. Kaiba glanced up, eyes narrowed slightly. It would probably be best that he got back to Mokuba (the boy was probably worried sick that his older brother might be stuck outside in the cold), and back to all that work he still had to do and organise. Lowering his head, he turned and began walking back into the city, the end of his coat swirling from his movements.
"Merry Christmas," a quiet voice called from behind.
Kaiba stopped and turned around sharply to see the girl still looking at him. Her lips were pulled back in a small, gentle smile. She was so pale - her skin, hair and clothes - that in the briefest lapse of rational thought it occurred to Kaiba that the snow falling around her and the white landscape would have swallowed up her image, had it been daylight. Only her blue eyes appeared in striking contrast to the now almost-colourless world, seeming to glow as she gazed at him.
Still smiling, the girl turned from him to look over the bridge-rail. She reached an arm out over it, palm up, and watched as a flake of snow drifted down and landed on her hand.