Elenion: What can I say- no free time… I do not own the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise or anything associated with it.

I apologize, but I didn't have time to write reviewer responses this time (I was in a production of "Into the Woods"). But a big thank you to: MistressMoonDemon, Yamiko Yakou, Kikoken, Walis, twilight eyes 8120, Peneia Teke, Childlike Empress, grey tears, Eternity's Angel, PinkStarz, DidiHoney, xxTaintedcv, krNKyutEe, Jieli, Dragon/FairyGirl, Asakura'sSkyfireGal4Eva, axel, and Court12!

Please understand that this chapter will be even shorter than usual because it's a transition chapter.

Chapter 9

He was stressed. He was overworked. He was so damn confused about the workings of his own mind, he felt like pounding the nearest employee's head into the well-polished floor. And now there was Marik.

Kaiba strode through the inner workings of his corporation at breakneck speed. This was just not going to be a good day. Especially with his incoming migraine. His head was being split apart into small shards the size of molecules from the inside out. Or that's what it felt like, anyway. And it would only get worse with some confrontation with the pain-in-the-ass blonde brat. Hell, Kaiba hated Marik with a searing, burning passion, but he was a great business opportunity. He'd never seriously considered murdering the bastard, but, oh gods, if looks could kill…

'Won't he ever learn?'

The answer: Probably not. And now, if the young CEO didn't think quickly (which was luckily one of his strong points), his whole neutral image could potentially go to hell. And if that happened, the shit would really hit the fan.

Kohaku Hideki felt her nerves freeze over. She grasped the auburn-haired head and none-too-gently, shoved it beneath her desk. Quickly, the level-headed secretary clicked a few times on her computer screen and pulled up a word document, which she immediately became very absorbed with. The voice came frantically through her earpiece once again.

"Kohaku! Kohaku! Did you hear me?"

The young secretary hissed back. "Yes, I heard you, but it's a bit too late to keep Mr. Ishtar out now."

There was a small pause in which the voice on the other end felt something akin to impending doom settle somewhere around his shoulders. Ironically, it felt a lot like a hang-man's noose. Then the voice in Kohaku's earpiece found itself once more. "Damn! Kaiba's not going to like this!"

No shit. No fucking shit.

From somewhere around her ankles, Kohaku could hear a sharp intake of breath. 'Just stay calm,' the secretary mentally shouted at the bundle of nerves under her desk. 'Just don't do anything stupid, and you'll be ok.'

Serenity's hands were virtually tying themselves into knots. Her heart was thumping like a drum, no, a gong inside of her chest. She could almost feel it scaling her body, ready to jump through her throat at any moment. If Marik found her now, then it would all be over…

But then she caught herself.

What would all be over? What did she possibly have now that was worth keeping?

The hair about the base of her neck prickled, suddenly. Those infamous lavender eyes had an almost tangible line of sight. It was almost like the sightline on a rifle. Almost everything that she was feeling prior to that moment vanished with the sound of the soft crunch of expensive carpet only a few feet from her.

Those boots… Serenity had once been thrown upon them… She knew them well. And she knew who they belonged to.

"Where is Kaiba?"

Serenity shivered, although the question was most obviously not directed at her. There was just something in his voice that rang of don't-get-in-my-way-or-I'll-send-you-to-see-your-maker.

Then, the small girl heard the secretary's tight reply: "He is unavailable at the moment."


The entire desk shuddered violently under the sudden impact of the volatile man's hand. Serenity flinched but managed to suppress the small squeak of surprise that was biting at the inside of her throat. 'Just stay calm… Dear gods…' What could she possibly have done in a previous life to deserve such horrible karma?

There was a long tense silence in which Serenity could practically feel the heated sparks flying between the eyes of Marik and Kohaku. But then, with another, swifter crunch of the carpet, a new pair of boots arrived. From the opposite direction.

"I'd appreciate it if you could stop abusing my furniture and employees," a familiarly icy voice growled.

"Kaiba!" Marik practically spat out, whirling from the secretary to the CEO in a fit of champagne blonde hair.

"I'd also appreciate it if you'd stop wasting my time." Kaiba's face was focused upon the furious man, but his eyes leveled at about his shoulder- focusing on Kohaku. She, in turn, glanced surreptiously toward the bottom of her desk. And in that small exchange, the CEO understood many things- that the girl hadn't been seen, that she hadn't died as of yet, and most importantly- that she close enough to still be caught.

"Fuck you, Kaiba!" Marik hissed, pale nostrils flaring like some undiscovered species of lizard. He raised a long finger, pointing it towards one of many men that he truly, utterly loathed. "You sold me a defaulted-"

"Nothing from KC is defaulted, you pathetic fool." Kaiba growled, feeling his temper rising, aided by his pounding migraine.

"That's utter BULLSHIT!" Marik stumbled back a step.

The room was utterly silent by that time. Every secretary's head was swiveled towards the two powerhouses, watching in both curiosity and fear. It was almost difficult to say which of the two had the worse temper. There was Ishtar, who was always throwing some sort of temper tantrum, and then there was Kaiba, who had a voice that could curdle milk.

Kaiba examined Marik from his booted feet to his shiny mop of hair, as if he were sizing him up. "I suggest you leave this building, Marik."

"I'm not leaving until you-"


You could almost taste the anger radiating off of Ishtar's reddening face. Perhaps the only unfazed person in the entire room was the icy-eyed CEO himself. Marik shuddered, in a not-so-inconspicuous attempt to control his virtually uncontrollable anger. "Well, that girl-"

"That girl is out of the deal, as far as I'm concerned," Kaiba stated matter-of-factly. "You falsely accused me of selling malfunctioning equipment- which you have not fully paid me for- and so I believe that our little deal is off."

Gears grinded together inside of Marik's mind. "What the fuck does that mean?"

Kaiba took a casually menacing step forward. "It means, Marik, get the fuck out of my company unless you'd rather not do business with me ever again."

Shock. Utter shock. Marik was in a difficult place, and he knew it. It was either his pride or his weapons. And for him, that was an extremely close call. His fists balled at his sides. And then he did something so rash and idiotic that he would physically hit himself later on. Perhaps even the gods had not seen this outcome.

"I hope you rot in fucking hell, Seto Kaiba." He spat the name out like it was a curse. "Consider any business negotiations off." And with that, the blonde strode out of the office.

Hubris. Pride. Ishtar's tragic flaw.

Seto Kaiba stood for a moment, his eyes following the man out. Beneath the veiled surface of his eyes, there was a strange sense of disbelief and confusion. And then he began to laugh- a deep bellowing laugh at the stupidity of it all. Marik had chosen a side for him and damned be the neutral image now. Of course, Marik would probably come crawling back on his knees for forgiveness- and for this, he'd have to pay double price. But until then…


Serenity slithered out from beneath the desk, uncertain of almost everything in her life. "Y-yes?"

The CEO smiled coldly and ironically. "It looks like I finally picked a side- your side."

Kohaku Hideki stared at him for a moment in amazement. But then she shrugged and turned back to her computer console. "It was bound to happen eventually."

Serenity squeaked as her firmly grabbed her arm and pulled her down a hallway. Corridors went flashing by her head. "Wait!" The small girl wrenched her arm away from him. "I don't understand! You'd just pick a side, just like that?"

Kaiba glared at her calmly. "Honestly, I don't particularly care what happens. You're side is just as brutal as the other. Do you honestly think that with you in control, things will be any better? And what's to stop all this from happening again?" He turned his head away from her and resumed his wildly fast pace through the hallways. "However, that doesn't matter now. I have a business obligation to fulfill with Pegasus. You'll be coming with me, of course."

Her honey eyes shot up in surprise. Was he trying to help her? Possibly? He was just too difficult to read. But before she could open her mouth to speak, the cold man turned to her once again and announced his fate to whatever deity happened to be listening:

"Prepare for the coup of the century."

Elenion: So this is obviously the start of new division of the story. I did this chapter a bit hastily, because it was kind of boring.