Disclaimer: I do not own Yugioh, and for once I have no witty anecdote to add to that sorry statement.
A/N: I was musing over the clichéd fics of this fandom earlier, how so many are sickeningly alike and how there seem to be a few 'staple plots' that most fics seem to stem from. So I decided to take one of these overused plots and put it on its head. I don't know how successful I was, but I got a fairly satisfying one-shot out of it so I shan't quibble.
NB: Kaiba may be a teeny bit OOC in this but I'm hoping I can get away with it. ;p
Kite: Chapter 1
It's been raining all day, not that I really had time to notice it. Three smaller companies are in the middle of merging into my own, and work has come as close to a living Hell as it ever has. Leaving was bliss.
Driving my car myself, I find the darkness and the steadily lessening rain soothing. Knowing that I am cocooned in the vehicle from the harsh elements outside is a comfort, and I rub my thumbs against the steering wheel unconsciously as I glance about myself again.
I'm half way home, crossing the bridge over the large river that runs through Domino when I see someone up on the ledge. They've obviously climbed up there and are stood perilously close to the edge. There's not other car on the road at this hour and I slow down notably, staring as the person becomes clearer in the lights from my car.
Something clenches when I recognize the figure as Yami.
It's unsettling seeing him staring so intently over the edge, seemingly not noticing as I pull up near him. I watch him for a few moments but he seems distracted, and it frightens me. I've long held a grudge against him, feeling that his title and unrelenting smugness mocked me, but I've always respected him. And now to see him so suddenly broken, contemplating… I don't like to think it. No matter what my feelings towards him, I can't leave him like this. I doubt anyone knows he's here other than me.
Slowly, I get out of the car and walk to the footpath, giving him a fair amount of space. I don't want to startle him or intrude on whatever this is. I have no idea why he's doing this but to get him down from there without doing something stupid, I'm going to need to tactfully find out. Or at the very least display some genuine concern.
I call out to him, my hands tightening into fists when he briefly looks over his should at me. He looks so far away, so distracted, and it's obvious that he doesn't like me being here.
That's beside the point. I'm not going to let him hurt himself, no matter how hurt his pride is going to get over me being the one to do that. I think I should start slow; see if I can get him to talk. I might be able to help.
"Yami, what are you doing?"
He glares at me with a sigh that I barely hear, looking irritated and tired. His eyes are sharp, alight in an almost deadly way.
"Go away Kaiba," he says before looking back down over the ledge. He's leaning forward a bit now as well, vertigo perhaps taking a firmer hold.
I'm not going to listen to him. If I can just get him away from the side and off the ledge, I'll be able to talk to him rationally. Seeing him this close to intentionally plunging into the freezing river is throwing me off. I can do little when I'm this afraid to approach him let alone say anything that might set him off.
"No, not until you come down. Why the hell are you doing this?"
My emotions carried my voice a little too much for my liking there, and Yami doesn't answer for a long time. Maybe he could hear the fear in my voice. Maybe it unnerved him. Maybe he'll realise that someone cares and come down.
"I'm doing it for Yugi."
Jesus, this is worse than I thought. I can't begin to imagine what he's thinking right now… I've always thought of Yami as evil, dark, true to his very name. Maybe that's sunken in and he's angry with himself, guilty. Feels like he's going to taint or destroy Yugi.
The kid's pure; anyone with eyes can see that. Yami's his self-appointed guardian, so he maybe he's gotten it into his head that he's threatening Yugi with his very presence. I really don't know what to do with that.
"You don't need to!" is the best I can come up with.
"Yes, I do."
The finality frightens me more than seeing him here has. He's really serious about this, really considering suicide, and I can't do anything but speculate and shout at him! He's leaning forward marginally now as well, his hands splayed at his side to keep his balance somewhat stable. The wind's strong though and I don't know how much longer his willpower is going to hold out if he'd debating living this severely.
"No, Yami– I… I don't understand why… I-I want to help."
Another long pause, silence stretching between us before snapping with his voice. He sounds so pained, so alone. It tears at me. I didn't know I could care this much about someone beside Mokuba. These are extreme circumstances though. I can't watch someone die. I don't know if I could do that.
"You can't help me."
He sounds certain, but I don't want to be sure about that just yet. Maybe he just needs someone to listen to him. He's the leader of the group, the one with all the responsibility who always takes charge and knows exactly what to do. We're more alike than he seems to think.
"Let me try. At least talk to me."
He doesn't move, doesn't respond at all. The wind pulls at his hair again, whipping them forward and about his face. He makes no move to raise his hand to them. I'd worry about his safety even more if he did that. Even if he did decide not to jump, that close to the soaked ledge the wind could make the decision for him.
He needs to get down. I could take him home with me, get something hot into him and see if he wants to talk. Anything to get him off that ledge.
"Please Yami, I can't just leave you here."
His shoulders tighten at that, his voice becoming sharp and dismissive.
"Go away Kaiba."
Looking away at the tone, I disgust myself by considering doing just that, but when I look up at him again and see that he's moved yet closer to the ledge and is leaning over even more, I know that I cannot. His hand lightly touches the vertical pole running to the suspension cables to keep him upright, but his body is still too far over the ledge for comfort.
These thoughts take but a second and I'm halfway through climbing silently up the ledge by the time I finish them. Approaching him cautiously, I stop a meter behind him, prepared to grab his arm if he decides that I'm too close now and jumps. It's gotten too serious to be overly cautious now. Too dangerous.
I try again to understand, to empathise, but my mind comes up blank. All I can see is that he hates me and has no reason to trust me when he's at his most vulnerable.
"Yami, I know that… well, we've never really gotten on."
He jerks and I notice with a cold feeling that the toes of his boots are now over the ledge. I need to put a hand on him if just for my own sanity. I don't care if he doesn't like it; I need to know that I can get a grip if he falls.
He shrugs my hand off his shoulder and I hear his boots squeak dangerously on the metal of the ledge. I keep my hand hovering just above the material of his jacket, not prepared to take away that support just yet. Looking down at the river that suddenly seems miles below us, I swallow heavily and steal myself to just winging this. I've never been in this situation before and I've not been this frightened for a long time. The best I can do is wing it, keep a hand close to him and hope for the best.
"I understand, how hard it can all be. You've got Yugi to look after, a reputation to uphold and maniacs coming at you from all sides trying to take your title."
His expression changes a little, the frown smoothing out and the intensity in his eyes fading a little. It looks like he understands what I'm saying, but he's still too close to the brink for my liking.
"But it's not worth your life."
The lines around his eyes tighten again but it isn't a frown this time. I don't know what it is, what he's feeling, and I probably never will know. It feels a little safer now though, but it's not over yet.
"Please, just come down and I'll take you home."
He shakes his head. "I'm not going home."
Alright, too fast, I understand. If I can get him off the ledge at least I'll feel better. I think I will be able to think straighter when I'm not as worried about him jumping as I am now. I'll just coax him down.
"Will you come down then? Then we can talk about where you want to go."
He finally turns his head to look at me, staring up into my eyes before his gaze drops, staring at something past me. He seems to make a decision, twisting his body away from the expanse of air as he resigns himself to it and walking back towards the road.
I follow him down, moving around to stand in front of him by the car. I want to know what he wants to do. I'm not as worried now but I'm still deeply concerned. This is so out of character for him that it's almost incomprehensible. Though maybe he's felt like this for a while, and tonight was just the breaking point.
I must have been watching him too much for a frowns at me. I catch myself and clench my fists again uncertainly. He must already feel wretched; I don't want to make it worse for him. I want to help him, if only a little.
"Is there anywhere I can take you?"
He glances at the car and then back at me before his hands glide into his pockets and he walks around me, heading in the direction that I had been driving in. "I just need to get off this bridge."
Oh, thank the lord! Relief as I've rarely experience before floods through me, and I find myself turning to watch him begin to walk away from me. I just want to make sure he does actually make it off the bridge. I might follow him surreptitiously just to check that he gets home in one piece.
Suddenly, with no warning whatsoever, he breaks into a sprint, running blindly as fast as he can. I have no idea what's made him do this, but the sudden mood-swing has me going back to being severely unnerved again. Shouting to him to no avail, I take off after him.
He only runs for a few seconds and before I know what's happened he's suddenly stopped dead. I've gained too much momentum to stop myself as suddenly and end up running into him, flooring us both. He's a lot smaller than I am and I get off of him immediately, carefully, my hand going to the small of his back worriedly.
Still on his stomach, he brings his hand to his face and rubs at his eyes with his sleeve. His body shudders a little, and I can only guess that he's crying. That's probably why he was running; he didn't want me to see. Christ, the idiot's so proud he doesn't want me to see him cry.
I begin to move my hand in slow circles on his back, attempting to sooth him. He jerks again at the motion, his hand still near his face. He cries out this time, out of frustration, despair, I can't fathom. I dearly hope I never end up in a situation where I have to find out.
He manages to work himself into a sitting position, his back still to me. He's shaking more violently now, a hand on the ground to keep him upright. The ridiculousness of it suddenly strikes me hard: I'm letting him indulge his pride at the risk of him falling even deeper into depression. I won't let him carry this on. I won't indulge him.
Pulling him into my chest with only a little struggling on his part, I pick him up smoothly and carry him back to the car. His eyes are red and his cheeks moist with what can't be rain. Shivering and squirming futilely in my arms, he doesn't speak as I ease him into the back seat of the car.
He's wet and cold in addition to being several upset and confused, so I fetch a thick blanket from the boot of the car. Wrapping it around him carefully, making sure to encase him within the material fully, I am pleased to see him nod a thanks to me.
Returning to my original place behind the wheel, I look at him through the rear-view mirror. He seems to have accepted that I'm taking him in this car no matter what he says for he pulls the blanket tighter around himself and fidgets until he is comfortable.
"Do you want me to take you back to mine? We can talk, have something to eat?"
My offer is genuine; I'm afraid to leave him at the moment. If he was back at the mansion with me, I could keep an eye on him, talk all this through. Hell, I could arrange a meeting with a shrink if it would help.
"No, to Yugi's will be fine."
Nodding, I return my eyes to the road and pull away. I release a breath I hadn't realised I'd been holding when we come off the bridge, glancing back in the mirror to check on Yami. He seems to have collapsed into himself, his head bowed at he toys with the blanket in his lap.
"Are you sure you'll be all right?"
"Yes, I just need to sort myself out."
I nod silently, understanding that perfectly. He seems to be more collected now, but he still seems 'off'. I feel tempted to call Yugi and let him know what's been going on so that he's ready and aware when Yami gets to him. But that would be unfair. It's not really any of my business, and I doubt that Yami would appreciate me relaying the events of tonight to Yugi. No, I won't say anything.
It's silent all the way to the short drive to his home, and he lets himself out. I stay where I am, waiting to see what he'll do. He might find it too painful to be here and get back in the car. I'm not sure.
Instead, he unwinds the blanket from himself and opens the passenger door to hand it back to me. I shake my head at him and put my hand over his proffered one. I can't take it back. I can't take back tonight. I've helped him and he's going to damn well acknowledge that someone cares about him, and if keeping the blanket is going to help in that, then he's going to keep it.
"No, you keep it."
He acknowledges it, taking it back and I watch with satisfaction as he wraps it back around himself. Smiling thinly, I realise that I feel a little better about leaving him now.
Reaching across and pulling the door shut, I slowly drive away from him but keep a constant watch on him as I leave. He doesn't move, staying in exactly the same place until I can no longer see him at all. Somehow, I know that when I circle the block in a few minutes, he won't be there and a light will be on in the house.
I might double back and check now actually.
And now onto Chapter 2!