Isn't It Beautiful?

A story about hating the one you love.

Written by PinkStarz


"Happy New Year!"

The clinking of various glasses followed the cries, which precariously sounded like shattering crystal.

The sky was gloriously dark; they were illuminated by the artificial light. Fake happiness. They were all indulging in fake happiness, from Tea's bright blue dress to the smile on Yugi's lips. Another year for battling demons, they all told themselves. To survive. All five of them.

Serenity Wheeler moved to sit on a couch beside Duke Devlin, nursing her glass of champagne. She had heard that if one was immature, any type of alcohol will seem bitter. Hers was sour. Duke said nothing when she sat down, most likely contemplating what this year would hold for him. He would want his business to flourish. They both knew it wouldn't.

Her brother was leaning against the counter of the mini-bar, glass beside him. His hair was shorter now, neatly cut. She hated it, but he had no other choice. His profession would not allow him to keep his shaggy appearance. However, he was happy, unlike almost everyone else. He hadn't been before. Like the rest of them, he had been on the verge of collapsing, giving up, and frequently gave the world the finger.

But happy endings existed.

She had convinced herself that.

She wasn't that sure about Tea, though. Her brother seemed like a bad influence on her, if anything. As much as she played 'mother', she had become unstable during the years. Life became something she wanted to experience and that she did -with mistake after mistake after mistake. Hell, even Joey seemed like another one of her mistakes.

Sometimes she wondered why Yugi wasn't one of her mistakes. He had become something she left in the past and chose not to acknowledge. A forgotten ring. Her eyes drifted to him. He was talking to her brother, fiddling with whatever he could get his hands on. The bottom of his shirt, his glass, shifting from foot to foot. He smiled suddenly and her breath almost seemed inaccessible to her. He always had such a nice smile, she thought. How could she have forgotten? He smiled, laughed, cried -he was a perfect example of what it meant to be alive.

"You'd better stick to your New Year's resolution this year, Joey," teased a slightly tipsy Tea, placing a hand gently on the blonde's shoulder. A ring gleamed on her finger, which only Serenity seemed to notice. But it had been there for a while, hadn't it?

"Yeah, yeah." Joey waved off her comment. "You know I won't, no matter how much you nag me."

"Have you even thought of one?" she demanded, removing her arm from his and taking a haughty step back.

"Does it even matter?"

"It's good to set goals for yourself," piped Yugi, who seemed slightly flushed from the champagne.

"Eh... then what's yours?"

"Stop drinking," he said, almost mournfully. Four pairs of eyes focused on the glass in his hand and then at his dazed expression. "Starting tomorrow," he added.

"I'm going to dance everyday for at least an hour," Tea announced. "Joey?"

"Well... ah..."

"It seems that you'll give up junk food for the year," she decided.

Joey gawked.

"I never said that!"

"Then what?"

"I was gonna... I dunno... have sex everyday for the year-"

"Like hell!"

"Fuck, it's like they've been married for half a century, already..." Duke commented lazily, shifting slightly. He was close to her now and she wanted to move away but she didn't. "Seren?"

He was waiting for her answer.

"Yeah." A hollow reply yet with the slight caress of emotion behind it. It was a feeling meant to be buried; however, from it rose something else more deplorable. Each time she breathed, this feeling would come and her heart would be grasped by powerful hands and squeezed until she cried and couldn't stop.

It was coming again.

"So what's yours?"

"My what?"

He laughed -it was different, she noted. Forced. Airy. No -summoned from disbelief.

"I'm sorry."

"What's with you?" Too caring. Always caring. She was a twenty-six-year-old doll.

An arm around her shoulders. They were covered by a forest green shawl. She had told herself to wear color. She had been told it matched her eyes.

She forced herself to smile. "Nothing."

"It's something." His other hand covered hers. She, too, had a ring. No one noticed it. "So..." Shocking green eyes met hers, "what is it? What's your resolution?"

She broke her gaze from his, focusing her attention on nothing at all.

"A secret."

One Year Ago

As usual, Seto Kaiba was working. Although he was known to work excessively, over the past few years one would not see him doing anything else. It almost seemed like he had decided to fulfill the remainder of his lifetime within the massive building of Kaiba Corporation -more specifically, within the four walls of his office. And considering that he was still young, it would be a long sentence. After a decade of isolation, he had already become pallid, frail and at times, his eyes were bloodshot. Some wondered whether a trip outside during the daytime would cause him to scream in agony over being exposed to the sun.

His temper had become shorter, if that was in any way possible. Everyone who worked for his company were the top of their class and world renounced geniuses. There were no screw-ups; even if there were, the offender would be disposed of before the news would reach any ears. However, Kaiba's determination and workaholic nature prevailed. Kaiba Corporation was one of the top and most profitable businesses in the world. There were branches in almost every modern country. Investors adored him because of his excellent business skills; women and children adored him because of the theme parks and the Duel Monsters Academy he established for underprivileged children. It didn't hurt that he was handsome, either.

But then again, anyone who adored Seto Kaiba obviously didn't know him.

He hardly wanted to be adored.

He simply wanted to be respected and feared.

It wasn't much to ask.

He yawned, sleep starting to win the battle against his mind. The amount of work he had to do was monstrous, but he had learned long ago to turn off any signs of emotional and human weakness -he had become like one of his computers, mind set on accomplishing one task and ignoring everything else around him. Sometimes it came to be a problem -one he had fainted from not eating or drinking for three days. It wouldn't have been sure a dire situation had he not been surviving off sandwiches, and eating them once a day on top of it.

Mokuba, of course, hated that his brother had become more of a workaholic than before. Although the 23-year-old ran the American branch of Kaiba Corporation, he had somehow managed to find the time to secure a wife and start a family without causing the company to go under. Admittedly, it was admirable, especially since Mokuba's wife was a controlling bitch, in Kaiba's opinion. He couldn't stand the wench but Mokuba, for god knew what reason, was in love with her.

For the first time in a long time, Kaiba muffled a laugh. He couldn't understand the attraction. He didn't want to, either.

Shaking his head, he struggled to concentrate on the task at hand, slightly surprised that his mind had started wandering. Granted, he hadn't seen his younger brother for nearly a year and Mokuba wasn't too happy with the absence of Kaiba when his son was born. From the thought, Kaiba found himself searching through his drawer on impulse. Inside buried underneath ledgers and documents was a printed photograph on high quality paper.

His nephew.

A Kaiba.

His eyes narrowed and the paper was thrust back into its containment.

Fuck that.

Fingers moving swiftly over the keyboard, Kaiba quickly became once more submerged within his work, barely taking time out to breathe. It wasn't until he felt slightly weakened that he paused, grimacing at the sudden annoyance. A hand reached up and pressed against his chest, trying to ebb the sudden sharp pain in it. Each breath he took was a struggle, and the mere reward for capturing air was a sensation as if someone was squeezing his heart with talons. Although he had been experiencing this pain for a while, as always he chose to ignore it. It came and it went, usually leaving a reminiscent of blood behind.

He coughed hard and doubled over, his hand reaching up to his throat. Fuck, it hurt this time.

And then came the blood.

It would be a bitch to clean.


He had managed to successfully stay alive up until the Monday morning meeting when he had died.

Not literally, of course.

But his reputation was as good as dead.

At the moment, he was sitting on a white examination table in a white room, glaring at an embarrassingly thin white paper robe that the nurse tried to force on him. It was fair to say that she gave up after he gave her one of his patented glares and growled at her in his coldest voice. Scaring her should have made the visit slightly more pleasant but the room frightened him too much to bask in the glee of inflicting emotional distress. There were disturbing colored posters in the room involving the human anatomy and silver utensils that he chose not to think about.

Everything had happened so quickly leading to his current situation -trapped within the blindingly white room and awaiting some quack who would probably also be clad in white. It was like being in some twisted form of Heaven.

He preferred Hell.

He gritted his teeth, wondering when Mokuba had the gall to make such underhanded decisions on his own. Not to mention his business colleagues calling the younger Kaiba without his authorization. Why the hell couldn't they have minded their own business? Since when was someone coughing up blood and passing out in the boardroom such a big deal? He was perfectly fine a few hours later!

It pained him even to remember the details generating to his entrapment. Had he put up a decent enough fight? He wasn't sure; he was too blinded by pain to notice. His blood pressure had shot up, though, after listening to Mokuba's threats on the phone. Most, sadly, were the blatant truth. If he didn't get his health looked after, there was that damned possibility he could die. If he ended up having one of his coughing fits again, it could leak out to the press and cause investors to become weary in placing their money into a company where the CEO was practically dying.

Not to mention that he wouldn't get to take a step inside Kaiba Corporation unless he visited a general practioner regarding his health. Mokuba assured him that the doctor he would be seeing was the best of his kind. He was apparently the top of his graduating class and the most sought out practioner in the city -he had even graduated three years earlier than most students.

Not that Kaiba cared.

He was probably a psycho.

He shifted uncomfortably, wishing desperately that this person would hurry up and he could get the whole ordeal over with. Currently, a moron was running his company in his absence and Kaiba knew that every minute he was away, the company would sink further into a hole that he wasn't sure he could pull it out of. It was times like this that he wished someone had figured out how to become immortal.

The door suddenly slid open and in stepped the highly praised doctor, smiling in their fake way.

"And how are you today?" the doctor asked although Kaiba barely heard. His mind was preoccupied with screaming in disbelief, his eyes most likely bulging and mouth open slightly in shock.


(a/n: I know I have two other fics up and I do intend on finishing them. Well, that's slightly a lie. If you've noticed, this story is slightly the same as Eternal Snow. For more information, please visit my profile page. Thanks.)