Beautiful Release

By LuckyLadybug

Notes: The characters and song aren't mine, the story is, and this is sibling and friendship cuteness! It's also sad, yes, and an attempt to see a bit into the enigmatic mind of Seto Kaiba. These are my views on the character, and nothing anyone says will get me to change them, so if you don't like them, that's tough. Deal with it. I apologize for removal of the song, but the site's newly stated policy means that I have to.

Seto Kaiba sat on the bed in the cold darkness of the hotel room, clutching the small bottle in his hand. He had been contemplating this for a long time now. Well, actually, not that long by most people's standards. But for him, he who had descended into the very depths of despair and hopelessness, it had been an eon.

Mokuba was dead.

The only person Seto had ever truly loved and cared about was gone from his life. There was nothing left for him. Oh, he had tried to drown his sorrows by working, the one thing he had left. Over the last twelve days since the limo had exploded with Mokuba in it, Seto had thrown himself into his work all that he had been able to. He had slaved over his laptop, typing until his fingers were numb and raw. He had scheduled every possible meeting he could, no matter where or when it was or how long it would run. None of that mattered anymore. Time was all he had now. What did it matter how much he used?

Seto blearily looked up, staring out the high-rise window at the KaibaCorp building that loomed over Domino City. Its presence was always unmistakable. Usually Seto had enjoyed the responsibility, the chance to be in control. But he no longer felt in control. Everything was falling apart in rapid succession. The company had been declining for weeks now, and Mokuba's demise had only made it all worse. Seto was losing focus and he knew it. There was no way he could run KaibaCorp any longer in his condition.

Maybe he had never run it that well.

Seto set the bottle down on the nightstand, his hands shaking. Could he really go through with this? All he wanted was to see his brother again. He had promised to always protect him! But he hadn't been able to. How could he live knowing he'd failed in the one thing he should have succeeded in more than any other? How could he live knowing that every night he would come home and Mokuba wouldn't be there, running to greet him?

The first nights had been excruciatingly hard. Seto remembered tiredly going in through the door and seeing Mokuba's blue bandanna laying across the couch. He had smiled, about to call for his brother and tell him he was back, but then it had struck him that he couldn't. Mokuba wasn't there to hear him. Mokuba was gone. And though the various maids and servants were still there, Seto could care less. For him, the house was empty.

Slowly he pulled out his deck, staring at the favorite card on top. The Blue Eyes White Dragon. It was more than just a mere card to him, more than simply a show of power and glory. It symbolized the bond between the two brothers. And Seto recalled how that card had helped him break Mokuba of the spell Noa had put over him in the VR world.

"Am I worthy of the Blue Eyes now, Mokuba?" he had asked.

Was he worthy?

Seto threw the cards to the floor. He wasn't a good person. He knew that. Everyone knew that. Always he criticized. Always he was cold and unpassable, his heart a closed book to all except Mokuba. He couldn't even begin to name all the times he had said something cruel to someone. Joey Wheeler especially was the victim of Seto's nastiness. But there was a dark reason for that, something Seto never admitted aloud and rarely even to himself. But he knew it was true. Deep in his heart, he knew. Joey reminded him of himself. The stubbornness, the hot-headedness, the impulsive, angry behavior. . . . Even the way he was so protective of Serenity. Seto saw in Joey a weaker version of himself, something he despised with every inch of his being. And though Joey was a much stronger person than he had been in the past, Seto still could rarely find it in him to be friendly. He felt much of the time as if he was criticizing and scolding himself, not some other person. Even though it was another person.

But he had saved the moron's life more than once. Carefully Seto reached down, gathering up the cards again and laying them on the nightstand next to the bottle of pills. He remembered shoving Joey aside and taking a bullet from Vivalene's gun for him. And that had been after Joey had treated everyone—including Seto—like dirt when they had only been trying to help him see how horrible Vivalene was. Why had Seto done what he had? Why had Seto Kaiba—cold, uncaring Seto Kaiba, who had shut himself off from the world, bothered to save the life of someone like Joey? Someone he could barely stand to be around most of the time?

Perhaps . . . he wasn't as horrible as he thought he was. Perhaps he did have a heart.

It was a nice thought, at any rate.

But Seto knew he was despicable. Unbidden to his mind came the remembrance of when he had been leaking information about his own scheme to take over Gozaburo's company and then had led everyone to believe it had been Mokuba. Even though the only reason he had done it was because it was the only way he had known to be able to get their abominable stepfather out of their lives, he still wondered if it had been the right decision. Even now, years later, Mokuba's eyes still haunted him. Hurting the boy in any way was the last thing Seto ever had wanted to do. But he had done it. And he had no doubt done it countless other times without even thinking. This filled him with immense guilt and self-hatred, especially now—now that Mokuba wasn't here to hear that his big brother was sorry. Mokuba wasn't here to have Seto embrace him and tell him how much the older boy loved him, even if Seto had been thoughtless at times.

Seto had been ignoring Mokuba a lot right before the boy had perished. He had been feverishly working to pull KaibaCorp out of its decline, but he realized now that he should have been working instead to pull his relationship with his brother out of its decline. Then he might have been able to fix the KaibaCorp problem. As it was, nothing was fixed and Mokuba was dead. Seto wouldn't have a chance to make the amends he so badly wanted to.

Seto stood, crossing to the window and staring out at the rain. It had only been earlier that day when Marik had been talking to him in his office. Marik had been Mokuba's closest friend, so of course the boy's death was hard on him too. But he was still struggling along, managing to get on with life. Of course he could, Seto thought bitterly. He has his siblings with him still. But who do I have? Do I have anyone?

"Mokuba wouldn't want you to be like this," the Egyptian had said quietly upon entering. He looked the same as he always had—wearing his favorite lavender shirt and black pants. Gold jewelry still adorned his arms, ears, and neck, and the wild bangs were still falling into his eyes. But Seto thought he had caught a glimpse of sadness in the other boy's eyes.

Still Seto had just glared at him. He wasn't ready to listen to anything Marik would say. He wanted to feel that he was in control of things, even though he knew deep down that nothing could be further from the truth. "And how would you know what he'd want?" he had snapped. "You aren't his brother."

Marik had stepped back slightly. Seto could tell that had stung, but he didn't care. "If it was the other way around, would you want Mokuba to be grieving so tremendously over you?" Marik had walked forward again, standing in front of the desk. There was something about that boy that seemed . . . ageless in one way, yet wise beyond his years in another. Seto always got that certain feeling around Marik that the Egyptian had matured considerably because of Battle City and therefore had a much different outlook on life than anyone else ever possibly could, even others who had also experienced pain. But Marik didn't place himself on a pedestal. He didn't think he was better than anyone else.

Though Seto knew this time Marik was right, he hadn't acknowledged it. "Just get out of here," he had growled. "Get out of here, Egyptian. Mokuba isn't around anymore for you to hang out with. There's no reason for you to be here." He couldn't imagine Marik would actually come because he cared about what happened to Seto. It was hard for him to believe that anyone really cared. Mokuba had, but Seto figured he was probably the only one.

Marik leaned over, placing his hands on the desk. "I know what you're thinking of doing, Kaiba," he had said solemnly. "It's written all over you, and believe me, I've felt the same way before. I've wanted to end my life more than once. That time when I thought both Ishizu and Rishid were lost to me in the shipwreck . . . I wanted to throw myself into the ocean and drown. But I knew that they wouldn't want that from me. I wanted more than anything to be with them again, but they wanted me to live, Kaiba. And Mokuba would want you to do so. Suicide is not the answer." He had looked seriously into Seto's flashing blue eyes, desperately trying to get his point across.

"Your siblings were still alive," Seto had retorted coldly.

"That isn't the point, Kaiba." Marik had continued to stare firmly at him from behind the blonde bangs. "I knew I couldn't kill myself. It would be dishonoring my loved ones to do so."

"I want to go to Mokuba," Seto had said coldly.

"Don't you think he wants to be with you, too?" Marik had said quietly. "Really . . . he's never left you. I'm certain he's your guardian angel. And he wants you to be happy."

"My life died with Mokuba. I can't be happy." Seto had stood, going to Marik and getting right in front of him. "But that's what you don't get. Sure, you're sad he's gone, but you still have your siblings. It's no big deal. You can just find someone else to be your best friend. But I can't find another brother."

Marik, normally even-tempered, had become enraged then. "How dare you trivialize my feelings?" he had cried. "Do you really believe that Mokuba to me was just something that could be replaced? That couldn't be further from the truth. And do you really believe my heart isn't breaking after everything he and I came through?" His eyes had narrowed. "You said earlier I had no reason to be here. But that isn't true. I came because of Mokuba. He would have wanted me to help you. That is what I'm trying to do." Seto couldn't know all the times Marik had cried, missing his young friend. All the times he had prayed that this would just be a horrible nightmare they'd wake up from. All the times he had gone to pick up the phone and call his friend, only to remember with a sharp prick that he could not. "I'm trying to be your friend, as Mokuba was mine!"

And all the emotions raging within Seto's being had broken loose. "I don't need your friendship!" he had screamed, though deep in his heart he knew it was what he needed most. "I don't need anyone!" And he had lunged without thinking, punching Marik hard across the face and causing him to fall backward against a heavy pedestal that housed a statue. Marik had struck his head hard before he could prevent it and then had fallen to the floor.

Seto had stood over the still body for some time, his breathing heavy and angered. What right did Marik have to come in, telling him what to do? How could he possibly understand what Seto was going through? His siblings had always come back. But Mokuba wasn't going to come back. Mokuba would never come back!

"Seto, Marik was just trying to help! Please, big brother, please don't be mad at him! He's trying to help you! Please let him!"

Seto had then heard Mokuba's young voice clearly in his mind. And whether it was only a figment of his imagination or a plea from beyond, it had shocked him back into reality. His eyes had focused on Marik's body laying on the floor and he realized he had done that. He had purposely hurt someone. Someone who had only been trying to help. How often had he done that in his life? How many times had he pushed someone away who had been trying to offer genuine kindness? A sick feeling had started to take control of Seto's heart.

Immediately he had knelt down, examining Marik to make certain the damage wasn't too severe. The Egyptian was already starting to regain consciousness, he saw with barely concealed relief, and soon had opened his eyes.

"Are you hurt?" Seto had asked, tasting guilt on his tongue. It was a treacherous feeling, one he had often forced himself to not endure at all. But he was feeling it now so acutely. He had failed Mokuba again. He had hurt his brother's friend. And now he was reaping the consequences. So many people he must have hurt. . . . So many hearts he must have crushed. . . . He wasn't worthy to be Mokuba's brother. He wasn't worthy to be anyone's friend. And he wasn't worthy to live.

Marik had sat up shakily, rubbing his head. He had been staring down at the floor, trying to get the room to stop spinning. Though Seto's actions had stung, Marik had been expecting them. Seto was hurting. It was understandable that he might behave in a violent manner as a way of dealing with the pain. Marik could relate to that completely. "No," he had said quietly, "I'm alright."

Seto had watched him, realizing that Marik held no grudge. Marik did understand. But something made him want to apologize anyway. And he knew that he was still going to go through with his original plan. "I'm sorry. This shouldn't have happened." It was strange, hearing himself say those words. How often had he ever apologized in his life? He could probably count all the occasions on one hand.

"No," Marik had agreed, "it shouldn't have." But as he had raised lavender eyes to meet Seto's blue ones, it was obvious that he was referring not to what Seto had done just now, but to Mokuba's death.

Seto was jarred back to the present. He had parted ways with Marik earlier, not telling him, of course, what he was going to do. But yes, he was still going to do it. Nothing could make him change his mind. The world would be better without him in it. He hadn't made any extraordinary contributions to anything. One of his dreams had always been to do something that would make fellow orphans happy. He didn't feel he'd really been able to do that. And KaibaCorp was failing. No matter what Seto had done to improve business over the last weeks, it hadn't worked. Seto knew the company was going down. He had tried his best to keep it afloat, but he couldn't do it anymore. And the one he had devoted his whole life to, the one for whom everything had been done, including the acquisition of KaibaCorp, was dead. As far as Seto was concerned, he himself was already dead as well. Just one thing more had to be done to seal it.

Again he took hold of the bottle, struggling to get the cap off. It was only some simple sleeping pills. But if he took too many he knew he wouldn't wake up again. That was fine with him. No one would really miss him anyway. He was certain Joey would be ecstatic to have the thorn removed from his side. And Téa wouldn't have to worry about yelling at him anymore for saying cruel things to her friends. Tristan, Seto figured, wouldn't really care one way or the other. Yugi, maybe, would miss him. But Yugi was so soft-hearted he'd probably cry over just anyone dying. Bakura, Seto wasn't sure about. He was always shy and quiet. But Seto doubted the British boy would really care.

Marik and the other Ishtars, Seto was certain, only tolerated him because of Mokuba. There was no reason for them to want to miss him. Ishizu and Rishid would hate him if they knew he'd purposely struck their brother down. Painstakingly he shook the pills out into his hand.

Seto narrowed his eyes, staring down at the small circular objects he was holding. Water. He couldn't take them without water. Angrily he threw them down on the nightstand and went into the bathroom.

He studied his reflection as he filled a foam cup with water. So this is the great Seto Kaiba, he thought in a self-depreciating way. He looks pathetic.

Seto had been struggling with this decision of his for ages now. Maybe it was the right one. Or maybe it was the wrong one. He only knew that it was his decision and he wasn't going to change his mind. Not now. Not anymore. He wasn't the same person he used to be. Any part of him that was still human had died with Mokuba, he decided. The rest of him was cold and emotionless. Not really a person, but an empty shell that breathed, slept, and ate, but didn't really live.

With that he turned off the tap and carried the glass back into the other room. Of course he wasn't thinking rationally. A rational Seto Kaiba would never give up, no matter what the odds were against him. But without Mokuba, Seto's ability to think rationally was gone. He was ill, he was very ill with depression, and if the pills didn't kill him, he would surely die of a broken heart.

Even so, with all of his plotting and planning, Seto still found it hard to pick up the pills again as the time was now before him. His hand shook as he cupped them in it, the small yet potentially deadly objects making soft noises as they clanked against each other. Could he really go through with this after all? Could he actually swallow all the pills, knowing it would kill him? The images blurred in front of him and he crashed to his knees, his body shaking with the stress. He had to take the pills. He had to! Only then would he be able to put himself out of his misery.

Vaguely he could hear the sound of someone pounding on the door. But they wouldn't be able to get in. It was locked.

"Kaiba! I know you're in there!" The rapping continued, becoming more forceful and insistent. "You can't go through with this!" It was Marik. He had somehow found Seto here. Probably one of Ishizu's visions, Seto thought to himself. But it made him hesitate again. Marik had bothered to come out to try to help him not take his own life. Why? What would make him want to save this ragged, tormented soul? Seto didn't understand.

"Kaiba!" Another voice joined in. Yugi was there as well. "We don't want you to kill yourself! Please! Think about what you'd be doing!" The boy's voice was strained, almost breaking. Seto could well imagine Yugi's look of absolute panic.

"I have thought about it!" Seto screamed angrily, unable to hold his tongue. "It's better this way!"

"No, Kaiba!" Yugi could be heard sobbing. "This way is never better! You think you'll be escaping the pain, but you really won't be! And there are those left behind who you'll just be hurting!" He banged on the door with both fists, tears slipping down his cheeks. "We're your friends, Kaiba! We all want to help you through this!"

Seto was still shaking. A part of him truly didn't want to go through with it, he realized. Knowing that Marik and Yugi had come made him almost reconsider.

But then the anger and self-loathing began again. Even though they had come, how could they be caring about his worthless life? He had hurt them countless times. He hadn't been able to save his brother. Seto had been forced to watch the limo burn into ash and twisted metal from his own prison, chained and beaten by his captors. No, how could he stay here? He wasn't worthy.

Furiously he stood, closing his fingers around the pills. Without saying another word to the worried teens on the other side of the door, Seto disappeared into the bathroom with a slam of the glass around the shower. This had to be done. Perhaps this way he could make retribution for not being able to stop Mokuba's death. He raised the pills to his mouth. Soon he would sink into the sleep from which no one would awaken. And he would welcome it.

He couldn't know his friends hadn't given up. It wasn't only Marik and Yugi who had come. They were all there.

Marik turned to his brother seriously, hearing the slamming glass doors. "He's not coming back out," the boy said quietly.

"Then we'll just havta go in!" Joey cried.

Rishid pressed against the door furiously, throwing all his weight into the action. Everyone else immediately came to assist him, and soon the door had been felled. They were all running into the room when a small blur tore past them, screaming Seto's name again and again. Marik was the first to understand, and he gasped in shock and astonishment.

Seto could hear the voice too. But in his tortured mind it was only a pale echo, a ghost of his broken heart. It wasn't real . . . it wasn't real. . . . He was completely going insane, another reason for doing what he was about to. It was better than being locked in a asylum for the rest of his life, hearing Mokuba calling to him like this. He couldn't bear another moment of it.

"SETO! Don't do it! DON'T!" The glass door to the shower flew open, the fresh air flowing in. Seto barely noticed. He stared, deadened, at the tablets in his clammy hand. Now was the moment. He wouldn't put it off longer. There kept being interruptions. But there would be no more.


A hand flew out, knocking the pills away from Seto's grasp. The white objects went soaring in every direction, announcing their new locations with plinks and clunks. And a small form stood in front of him, the blue-gray eyes filling with tears.

"This isn't the Seto I know," he declared. "The Seto I know would never give in! He was always strong and fought hard, no matter what the odds were against him! When things got tough, he just got tougher." The voice quieted down to a near-whisper. "And he would never try to kill himself. He'd know that there was something worth living for."

Seto just stared blankly. Mokuba? But no . . . that was impossible! Mokuba couldn't be here. Or maybe . . . he had come back from the afterlife so Seto wouldn't commit suicide? He let out a long, shuddering breath. He couldn't argue with a ghost. The very thought was preposterous. But so much was preposterous lately.

"Everything I lived for was killed," he said bitterly. "I don't see any point to even trying anymore." He tried to climb out of the shower and grope for the pills. They would naturally have germs all over them by now, but if he was going to die anyway, it really didn't matter.

"SETO!" The apparition gripped his shoulders. "I'm not dead, but even if I was, there would still be something you could do for me! You could LIVE!" Tears gathered in the sad eyes. "That's what I'd want, Seto. I'd want you to live." His voice broke.

Seto was jolted into the reality of things. A ghost couldn't grab him like this. The blue-gray eyes looking back at him were very real. The tears splashing down on Seto's hands were real as well.

He took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. Mokuba was here! He was right here! And the tortured soul knew that what his brother said was true. Every word was true. He had been too lost in his self-hatred and depression to realize it, but the knowledge abruptly pierced through his heart—killing himself would be the last thing Mokuba would want. Marik had tried to tell him, but it hadn't registered. The one person who could get through to Seto's tormented spirit was the one person Seto had been certain he would never see again for years unless he ended his own life. But here was Mokuba, crying, trying to bring his brother back to a reality of what he was doing!

"Seto?" Mokuba's voice broke into his thoughts again. "Are you with me, Seto?" The little boy sounded terrified. Never had he had to deal with such a thing as this before. It frightened him to no end. He had actually not been in the limo when it had exploded. Being the escape artist he is, he had managed to get out before the detonation and then had tried to run back and rescue Seto from their captors, but he had been taken captive again. By the time he had been able to escape from the new prison, he had heard news of the Kaiba Corporation's extreme decline in business and of his own death. Knowing his brother and how depressed and worthless he must be feeling, Mokuba had put two and two together and had ran to the heart of Domino City as fast as he could. He had arrived at the right hotel just in time to stop Seto from committing suicide.

Seto's deep blue eyes focused on Mokuba's blue-gray orbs. And his entire countenance brightened. He didn't know how Mokuba had survived, but he didn't care how. All he cared about was that he had his brother back. His heart pricked again at the realization of the tragic mistake he almost made, but then the joy immediately eclipsed his guilt. Mokuba understood. He wasn't angry at Seto.

"I'm not worthy to be your brother."

Still the words came—the pained, heartfelt words of a saddened soul. Mokuba was here, but how could Seto ever feel worthy to be with him again, after he hadn't been able to rescue him and had been ignoring him!

"All of us make mistakes," Mokuba said softly, "but what happened when we were being held hostage wasn't your fault, Seto! You've gotta believe me!" He gripped tighter, his little hands shaking. He had to make his brother see the reality! Seto couldn't go on this way, thinking he was at fault for something he had no control over. And yes, it had hurt when he had ignored Mokuba, but the boy knew that Seto hadn't meant to. Now he was just so happy to be with his brother that nothing else mattered. They would sort things out later.

Seto reached out, brushing the long, raven hair away from Mokuba's face. Shakily he pulled the child into his arms and close to his heart, whispering his name over and over. Everything would be alright now. Mokuba's presence renewed Seto's courage and determination. He would bring KaibaCorp out of its decline again. He would overcome his feelings of anger and self-loathing. And he resolved to pay more attention to Mokuba than he had been right before their fateful capture. His brother was the most important thing in his life, and with him by his side, always loving and forgiving, Seto Kaiba could do anything.

Mokuba sobbed, returning the hug tightly. He had his brother again. He had gotten through to Seto before it was too late. Everything that had transpired here was a true miracle. It seemed strange in a way—usually Seto was always the one helping Mokuba. And now this time Mokuba had done something to help Seto. It was a nice kind of strange. He hugged tighter, his tears slipping down onto Seto's trenchcoat. They would get through this. They had always got through everything and come through it stronger than before. This wouldn't be any exception.

Neither brother noticed the concerned group standing right outside the door, looking in.

Yugi breathed a sigh of relief. "It's over," he said softly, his eyes shining as he watched Seto and Mokuba reunite.

"I'm so glad," Téa whispered, clasping her hands in joy.

Joey rubbed his nose, pretending that he hadn't been concerned in the least. "How about we go out for a pizza?" he suggested, ignoring a crystalline drop that had formed in his eye. He was genuinely happy that Seto had not destroyed himself and that Mokuba had suddenly appeared to save him. Joey and Seto may not be close friends, but Joey still didn't want any tragic fate to befall the serious businessman.

Everyone ignored Joey's remark.

Marik suddenly had the urge to embrace his own siblings. He truly had understood Seto's feelings. Marik himself truly had suffered through them more than once. But he was happy now and living life to the fullest.

"Something has died here tonight," Ishizu said quietly, holding her brothers close to her.

The others all looked at her quizzically.

The Egyptian woman smiled. "Grief. And Hopelessness," she told them. "And from the ashes of despair there has risen Joy and Hope. Seto Kaiba's will to live has been renewed. In time his wounds will heal. And Mokuba truly will be by his side through it all. We have witnessed a miracle here tonight. A miracle of peace."

Seto and Mokuba continued to hold each other close, lost in their own world. Yes, Ishizu was right. Joy and Hope abided in the once lonely hotel room tonight. And also within every heart present.