From the Mind to the World
Seto was staring at the doorknob. There wasn't much else to stare at really, he just wanted to keep his eyes occupied and his mind perfectly blank. He knew how to do that-he was an expert at it. He had to be, or else he would surely go mad.
They think he was insane enough already, though they seem perfectly understanding. What they don't know, and that includes Mokuba, is that Seto understood everything that goes on around him. There wasn't a single whisper, a scratch, a brushing of paper, a whistle of leaves, that escaped his notice. The only difference is before, he use to openly acknowledge these things. Now, he simply chose not to. Even when he's asleep, the slightest movement would wake him. He understood what Mokuba was saying, though he chose not to acknowledge it.
He knew his brother was sad. He knew he made him sad. But Seto did not do anything to help make it better. Not because he was uncaring-no, of course not! During those two horrible months, the only thing that kept Seto alive was the thought of his brother, crying at home because he refused to stay with him. No, now that he was back with his brother, Seto's love for him can not diminish.
It was simply that he did not have the will to talk.
In fact, Seto did not have the will to do much of anything other than stare. He would have gotten annoyed at Mokuba's constant whining and Pegasus's persuading for him to eat if he had the strength for it, but he simply did not. Sure, he knew Mokuba had a reason to act the way he was doing, but he couldn't help but feel frightened. Surely he didn't mess up for real this time, after all the work he had done? Was Mokuba unhappy that they were no longer Kaibas? Was Mokuba unhappy that Gozaburo was gone for good? That they can now start fresh?
Truthfully, Seto would have remembered that it was mostly he who suffered Gozaburo's wrath, that the reclaiming of the Yamagi name benefited him more than Mokuba. That he didn't really consider Mokuba's true feelings on the matter, so haunted was he. But if he did something bad, he wasn't sure he'll have the ability to make it right again. He knew this day will come, when he can't make things right again, that he can't solve things that he screwed up. And Mokuba's constant weeping wasn't making him feel any better.
Someone was coming in now. Seto stared as the door opened to reveal Pegasus yet again. Pegasus was becoming Seto's security blanket, even more so than Mokuba, partly because Pegasus was the one that saved him that awful night. As the man came to his side Seto gazed fondly at him, wanting to show his gratitude as much as his silence could. He forgot how to speak, he had forgotten a long time ago.
" Seto, do you want to go out for a bit? The doctor says that if you are always in bed, it might slow your recovery."
Seto was willing to get up, but not as willing to let Pegasus help him. Still, he was grateful, as his wobbly legs barely supported him as he stumbled out of the room.
They went out into the gardens where the trees were starting to sprout leaves. Seto had no idea time had gone so far. He smelled the cool air and would have sighed contentedly if he dared.
" Seto, why won't you talk?" Pegasus sighed. Seto didn't look at him, instead gazing happily around the slowly reviving garden. He took one unsteady step forward and nearly fell, but Pegasus was close at hand.
They sat down together near a tree on a thick patch of green grass that sprouted from the winter's snow. Seto looked about him happily, feeling safe and at ease. The place was so open he couldn't help but smile. He looked at Pegasus happily, who was staring at him with a downcast expression, but Seto felt too carefree to care about how the other man was feeling. The world was alright again. Everything was...
Cold hands, harsh whips, the smell of slime and alcohol in the air. Pain and screams, harsh laughing. Something in him, thrusting upwards, pain flashing through his body like lightning. He writhed, opening his mouth to scream-something thrust in it and he choked, trying to get it out, but it simply shifted and went deeper into his throat. He twisted his head away, but something covered his nose. He was dying. He couldn't breath. They grabbed and squeezed his abused flesh and pounded into him with their hands and feet. He was feverish. He was delirious. He saw his parents dying. He saw Gozaburo...From somewhere far away he felt arms circle around him, warm arms, and a panicked voice shouting, but everything was so soft. Something warm was pressed against him, and he felt a dizzy sensation as his world rocked back and forth. The cold hands faded away, and there was a flash of red as he blinked. Someone's shirt. The voice was louder now, clearer, though the person was no longer shouting.
" That's right, that's right, that's my boy, everything's fine. That's a brave boy," It was Pegasus.
Seto took a brief moment to understand what was going on. Pegasus was holding him tightly, whispering into his ear, rocking him back and forth. So that was the rocking. He felt warm. Seto slowly relaxed. He was safe. For now.
The other man stroked his hair comfortingly and continued to rock him. Seto realized he was still trembling. He sat up shakily. Pegasus held on to him.
" Are you alright now?" Pegasus asked. Seto didn't answer, instead attempting to rise to his feet. He failed miserably.
" Stay down." Pegasus said gently. " You had a bad relapse back there. It lasted for about thirty minutes."
Thirty minutes. Well. Seto relaxed a little. Pegasus moved over to him and they sat next to each other for a while, Pegasus watching him for any signs of distress.
That night Seto had little rest, though Pegasus had even less, for the boy was tormented with dark dreams. Mokuba, thoroughly exhausted, was unable to hear his brother's screams, but Pegasus, use to pulling all-nighters, heard them quite clearly.
Seto knew Pegasus had stayed with him the entire night. Had held him, comforted him, and remained to make sure he had no more nightmares. Seto knew this, because when he woke, Pegasus was right there with him, asleep, though when Seto moved Pegasus immediately woke up.
Seto would have thanked him, but he simply had no will to. It was not that he couldn't talk. He knew he could speak. But there was something wrong about making noise, he wasn't quite sure why. He settled with a bright smile at Pegasus, who looked stunned and slightly disappointed. Seto stored that observation to the back of his mind to analyze later when he's better.
Getting unsteadily to his feet, with the help of Pegasus, and this time unfortunately noting the mysteriously stabbing pain that shot up from the tip of his spine up. Pegasus frowned, and again, Seto decided it was good enough to remember. Not troubling himself over it, he simply concentrated on making it down the steps to the dining room.
He could hear Pegasus sighing behind him, and for the first time pondered on it. Was Pegasus annoyed with him? Not wanting to get hurt again, he pushed the thought aside until he's ready. For now, it's stored wherever his memories are stored, ready to be picked up when needed. For a moment he concentrated on placing one foot ahead of another, but in the back of his mind he heard Pegasus gently coaxing him. It revived a distant memory a long time ago, when it wasn't Pegasus but someone else coaxing him to walk, and the voice was much happier and amused.
Mokuba was not at the table. He was outside with Yugi-tachi, apparently. Seto glanced briefly at the clock. It was nine in the morning. Storing that to the back of his mind, he shakily sat down.
Pegasus watched him throughout breakfast. Seto ate very slowly and couldn't eat solid foods, so Pegasus had given him something like porridge. Seto would have grown uncomfortable with Pegasus's staring, but the boy chose to ignore that-it came from someone he trusted, after all.
A long time passed before Seto finished his breakfast. He looked up at Pegasus and smiled. The man looked startled, but smiled shakily back. A servant took away his bowl and Seto bowed his head to look at his hands. They were rather unsteady. Seto locked that information away. Standing up, feeling stronger now, he took a step forward, leaning heavily on the table. An arm circled around his waist and a hand held his own. Pegasus helped Seto to the living room, all this done in silence.
Shadi entered an hour later. Seto, who had sat there doing nothing and thinking nothing since he entered the room, raised his head curiously towards the spirit. Shadi eyed Seto with a look of alarm.
" Don't worry." Pegasus said wearily, and Shadi was startled to notice him for the first time. " He won't hurt anyone, not that he has so far."
Shadi was confused. He took a good look at the younger boy, who was looking at him in the same analyzing manner, as if trying to read through him, but something was puzzling him.
" What is this?" Shadi asked.
" Do you not read the news?"
" I never find them of importance." Shadi blinked. " But I have heard strange rumors. I heard you adopted him. Is that true?"
" As true as the sun."
" Then...he did disinherit his name?"
" Apparently a lot more."
" Why is he looking at me that way?"
" He looks at a lot of people that way. I'm not sure if he actually sees things though. He seems disinterested in enough things to be completely apart from the world."
" He is ill."
" As ill as ill can go, I'm afraid."
Pegasus turned his eyes towards Seto. " Rape."
Shadi blinked. " This is a surprise."
" It is, isn't it. But I don't know if he was in his right mind even then. Going out on a rainy night, sick and ill already, alone. He did more than disinherit his name, he did more than save Mokuba from future ills. I'm just not completely sure what the other things are that drove him out that night."
The former painter sighed, shifting again as he studied his young charge.
" He doesn't speak."
" He never spoke since."
" Does he make a noise at all?"
" Occasional relapses, he would whimper a little."
Shadi knelt before Seto, studying the other boy, who had lost interest in the man and had gone back to playing with the strings he had pulled from an old pillow. Shadi reached his hand out and gently pried one of Seto's hands away from the strings. Seto dropped them and stared at him nervously.
" He's just a little boy." Shadi blinked, startled.
" Hm!" Pegasus answered rudely, though Shadi had to forgive him.
Seto saw the sadness clouding Shadi's eyes and tried to cheer him up with a smile. Shadi looked startled yet again.
" He does that sometimes. I'm not sure why." Pegasus answered. " Each time you fail to hide your
pity he would smile at you. It's most unnerving."
" He understands everything." Shadi sat down slowly next to the boy. " He understands everything that's going on around us. The events in his life did nothing to mar his intelligence. He's broken, he's hurt, and he knows it. Which is why he has allowed himself to become merely an observer, storing everything in his mind so that later, when he is ready, when he is well, he could flip them over and analyze them fully. His smile, he smiles to reassure us. Reassure that he is handling it. It's also an invitation to help him." Shadi looked over at Pegasus. " It's one good change that happened so far."
" I would prefer the old lousy Kai..er, boy." Seto did not even turn around. " Better that fool of a child than this shred of nothing."
" He was no fool." Shadi ran his hand through Seto's hair in the most uncharacteristic gesture of affection. " He never was."
Pegasus pondered on it a little, before Shadi sighed.
Seto was still playing with the strings, and did not give any indication that he heard a word of what Shadi said. Pegasus studied the boy carefully.
" He seems so detached."
" He heard everything." Shadi answered. " Didn't you Seto?"
To Pegasus's surprise, Seto looked up and gave Shadi a bright smile. It wasn't the smile that startled the man, it was Shadi's reaction. He flinched, a look of astonishment passing over his face, and then a look of confusion. Seto went back to the strings, as if he didn't notice.
" He must be worse off than I thought." Shadi studied the boy closely. " If he's trying to run away from everything."
Pegasus didn't answer because he had a feeling he knew what Shadi meant.
Seto remembered everything Shadi said. He did not take time to think about it. He still wasn't ready. But he was getting better, he knew this. If only Mokuba were here with him. Where is Mokuba anyway?
I want you...
Startled, Seto jerked up. Pegasus moved but stopped a few feet short of him. " Seto? What's wrong?"
Seto was trembling. That voice, no one else heard it. They couldn't have. It was in his head. But how did it get there? The voice sighed away, and Seto stood up abruptly, nearly falling. But before Pegasus or Shadi could reach him, he stumbled away. What is that voice?
" Seto?" Pegasus was holding him. Seto had fallen down. The boy blinked nervously.
" He went through a relapse." Shadi observed.
" It was more brief than the others." Pegasus answered. Seto blinked. He shuddered in desperation, recalling how he had tried to escape and failed.
" You're safe now." Pegasus said to him. And suddenly, it was all that mattered.