Precipice

It pierces through everything, the sound of shattering glass. Movement stops. Breath catches. All attention is lured to the source. The mind is taken over by a high-pitched crack and, for that fraction of time, that sound is the only thing there is.

At the moment of impact, of body hitting window, it was the sound that jolted through me. More than the sight of a man, a man that evoked raw hatred in every thought, throwing himself into the clear glass and disappearing through the air to his fate below, it was the sound took me. It reverberated off the walls, rose up from the marbled floors. It was a wave, flowing through the room and leaving everyone in it in perfect silence. The only other noise allowed was the clarion cracking of shards as they gave up their hold on the remains of the window and splintered further into a scattering a diamonds when they hit the floor.

To me, it was the sweetness of peeling bells. The chime of victory.

All melodies must come to a close, though. Reality comes creeping back in as noise from the street indicates the outside world has learned what we in the boardroom of Kaiba Corporation just witnessed. Cars are screeching to a halt. Women, children and more than a few men are screaming from the horrific sight that must be before them.

Gozaburo, you've made quite a mess.

The five board members stir slowly. Stares shift from each other to the window to me and around again. One leans towards the window but sways back into place without making the trek to the newly created opening. A breeze blows in, knocking one last fractured pane free and creating more debris. Most of the glass fell outward -- along with him -- but those last pieces littering the room keep everyone in place. Large, jagged chunks of glass are obvious in their danger and easy to avoid. It's the crumbs, the pieces so small you can't even see them until the light hits them just so, that are truly treacherous. They get on you, work their way into your skin. Tiny cuts and scratches that add up. Pain is pain.

Still, the five know they can't stay in a stupor forever. Businessmen don't go flying from the top stories of skyscrapers everyday. Questions will be asked. We will have to prepare an answer. No, *I* will have to prepare an answer. This is my company now. All mine. I'll let the Board keep their delusion that I'm working with them but ultimately I'll be making the decisions. Their names aren't on the company. My name, the one that bastard gave me, is. I'll have to keep it, but it's a small sacrifice in exchange for sole ownership of one of the largest companies in Japan.

You didn't think I could actually do it, did you, Gozaburo? You didn't think I could take your company out from under you. You never dreamed I could turn your supposedly loyal men against you. That I could fool you with such a basic trick as making you think my brother could ever chose you over me. Of course not. Underestimating me was part of the humiliation. I could never be smart enough to out scheme you. Why wouldn't my brother chose your brilliance over my incompetence? That's what you thought, wasn't it?

Mokuba giving me those final two percent of the shares must have been a revelation to you. Is that why you ran into the light? A bolt from on high. You lost. Everything. I won. Everything. Nothing left for you to do but descend on down to hell.

And off you went. No walk of shame out the office doors for you, either. I knew more than to expect you to give me that satisfaction. I'll admit to not expecting a defiant swan dive to your death, though. A good final move; I'll admit that, too. Kaiba Corporation is mine to do with as I please, but I'll have to get through the baptism of this potential scandal first.

Did that give you solace as the ground rushed up to meet you? You were able to take one more lash at me. It hardly matters. I endured all the others. This one means nothing to me. None of them really did. I'm still here and you're not. That says it all.

The other survivors are planning a strategy, picking out the story that will make Kaiba Corporation look the best. An accident would seem to suspicious, a plain suicide pathetic. As much as it pains me to assign such a quality to a man who lacked it so utterly, an honor suicide seems like the best explanation. One of the five has the nerve to suggest it's the truth. Please.

I'm already concocted most of the story. I can blame Gozaburo's beloved military division for a bad dip in profits. Having championed the division so strongly, Gozaburo had to step down in the most literal way possible. The press will have a nice, traditional honor suicide to gossip about and I'll have a good excuse to dismantle that division entirely later. It'll be a temporary hit to the company's financial image but it's hard to make a lump of blood and bone dirtying the streets of Domino look pretty.

Sirens blare in the distance. They're coming to clean him up already. Broken glass or no, I want to go to the window. I want to see the end results, but I'm held back. Mokuba, clinging to my hand so tightly that the only color it has are the red marks of his fingertips, won't let me go.

Why would he be afraid? Doesn't he realize I've just bought us our freedom? It's over. Gozaburo is gone and before long, he'll be forgotten. He can't touch us anymore. His reach has been cut off. I have all the control. There's no one left to be afraid of. Everyone will do exactly as I tell them to do.

So why does he still pull on my hand? There's the proof, Mokuba, right out there for the entire world to see, of what I -- what we -- won today. He's not coming back. His influence will wash away, like blood on a sidewalk under a stream of bleach. Thick and foul, they'll just scrub it away and each day we can walk into this company and over that spot and nothing will be there anymore because it will be as if there never was a Gozaburo Kaiba to leave such a stain in the first place.

"Seto…"

A plea. He wants to leave. All right. I don't need to see a corpse to validate my victory. I can turn my back to it. That's better in a way. Already, I'm leaving Gozaburo behind.

"Seto… My hand… It hurts…"

What?

Huh… I was the one clutching on to him…

****

Author's Notes -- Cool, anti-hero is my preferred flavor of Kaiba but early series, approaching the exit ramp to Crazytown Kaiba is kind of fun too. This isn't my typical fic. It was written spur of the moment, mainly in one sitting whilst watching sitcoms to prove a point to a friend about the tone of my writing versus the environment I write in. Boring stuff really. Anyway, due to its spontaneous nature, it doesn't contain my usual research, so if I botched any details from canon, there's my sad excuse. I wasn't going to post this fic because of this, but it's been so long since I posted anything at all, I felt like letting ff.net know I was alive.

For any of my Escaflowne readers that might be reading this (and are probably muttering to themselves, 'Yugioh? What the crap?' ^_^), the next chapter of 'Always…' is coming, and coming soon.