Land of the blind

Warnings/notes : Seto/Shizuka, AU, slightly weird.

Disclaimer : I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh.

written at 29th october 2003, by Misura

For firegoddess5, probably the only time I'll ever write this pairing. ^^;

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[the blind who yet sees]

Darkness.

It was all around her.

At times it suffocated her, smothering all sparks of hope she had ever had, every memory of the light.

"I will go to Duelist Kingdom and win enough money for your operation, sis. I promise!" Joey smiled at her, full of confidence. Full of light and hope.

She couldn't help but feel some of it too. She smiled back. "I know you will, Joey."

"Yugi's going to help me, of course. But Gramps says I'm a quick learner." Joey beamed proudly, even though she thought it very unlikely the kind old man at the Gameshop had ever said such a thing to her brother. She admired Joey for his determination, but she wasn't blind to his weaknesses.

"Even if you don't win - " she began.

He interrupted her. Of course. "I will! I said I would and no one is going to stop me!"

She sighed. Impossible to change his mind. As impossible as being unaffected by him. "You will always be my dear big brother."

He stared at her, a slight blush coloring his cheeks. Whether it was from his previous excitement or because her words had embarrassed him she did not know.

"Thanks." He mumbled the word, before turning away. To go packing.

And sometimes it covered her like a warm blanket, numbing the pain of other memories, less pleasant. Memories that were too clear in the light, yet seemed more bearable in the soft darkness.

"Shizuka, darling, we have to leave now. Do you have everything you want to take with you?" Her mother smiled at her, a fake kind of smile. She could sense that, even if she couldn't sense the reason for this deceit.

"Why can't Joey come with us too?" Mommy had explained to her about Daddy, about how he had gotten ill and didn't know what he was doing anymore. She didn't quite see why they couldn't take Daddy to the hospital ; wasn't that where people went when they needed to be cured?

But Mommy had replied that this illness couldn't be healed that way, that Daddy needed to be alone. That that might make him well again. She didn't understand that either.

Her mother frowned. "I already told you ; it's just not possible. Now, shall we go?"

She wanted to say 'no', even if Mommy wouldn't listen to her. Mommy'd only get angry with her, like Daddy did when he smelled funny. She didn't want that, so she nodded silently, clutching Mr Brown, her favorite teddybear, to her chest. Joey had given it to her, after he won it at the fair and since that day she had taken it with her wherever she went.

Joey teased her about it. She didn't mind, really. It was just something big brothers did.

Time seemed a strange concept in this place. Sometimes when she woke up, only half an hour had passed, while it had felt like she'd been gone for days and days.

It was strange, waking up unable to see. She wasn't really asleep during the periods she spent here of course. During the nights, she went to another place. A place of dreams, sometimes nightmares, but she never remembered it in the morning.

What she saw here though, in the darkness, she could recall with perfect clarity. She wished she could tell someone about it, wished someone would come to visit her, just sitting at her bedside and listening to her. Instead, most visitors seemed to come to *talk*.

"I ... I'm sorry I couldn't do more." A deep voice she recognized as her father's. She also heard the uneasy shuffling of his feet on the floor, allowing her to almost see him in her mind.

"It's just that ... well ... things aren't going very well for me right now." More fidgeting. She managed a smile, because she knew he meant what he said and he was still her Daddy.

A cool kiss on her forehead, before the fading sound of footsteps and the rustling of curtains told her he was gone.

The nurses told her about the flowers people sent her, describing the way they looked to her to the smallest detail. Until she almost began to wish people would stop giving them to her.

"I've heard your father came to visit too." Her mother sounded plaintive, almost petty. As if it was a personal injury to her that Daddy had been here first. She nodded.

There was nothing wrong with her voice, yet she found herself preferring the silence more and more often. She wondered why sometimes.

"Joey hasn't come, of course. He's just as bad as your father." There was no logic in that accusation, for her father *had* come to visit and Joey was trying to win the money for *her*.

She did like the smell though. Especially that from the roses. They kept away the smell of the hospital, that made it harder to pretend she was just lying in her own bed, at home.

Home, where roses grew in the garden. In summer, they would bloom outside her window and the wind would carry their fragrance into her room.

Someone cleared his throat, pulling her wandering mind back to the present. She turned her head in the direction of the sound, even if the gesture was useless since she couldn't see.

"You are ... Shizuka?" A male's voice. She didn't recognize it, which was odd. Why would a stranger call her by her first name?

"Yes." She felt obliged to reply aloud. Why, she didn't know. It was just a feeling.

"Ah." Just that. A single syllable. There were more words and sentences captured in it, yet she was unable to decipher them all in the brief moment.

"Who are you?" she finally asked, after a silence that had become oppressive all of a sudden.

"My name is Seto Kaiba." A brief hesitation. "Most people call me Kaiba."

~to be concluded in the second chapter~