Skeletons in the Attic
A/N: Yay! My first Yu-Gi-Oh suspense story! Woooo!
Okay, I'll shut up now. Um, you know the drill... I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh, and there's lots of shounen-ai, as usual. Heheh... Warnings are as follows: child abuse, Gozaburo, death, blood, and just general twistedness.
Summary: One day, while cleaning out his attic, Seto stumbles upon a trunk of Gozaburo's old things. Wanting answers for all of the things Gozaburo did to him, Seto starts to read the diary and finds out a terrifying secret. Odd things begin to happen, and with Mokuba losing his grip on reality, Seto must bury the chilling secrets of the Kaiba family once and for all...
Pairings are as follows: Gozaburo lusting after Seto, Mokuba with a crush on Noa, and for once, I'm not gonna pair Seto up with a certain blonde inu or a certain albino angel! Actually, he's all alone as of now.
I'll go away and let you read in peace now.
One step up.
I was going up to the attic, not to hide, not to be imprisoned, but to exorcize my demons.
Two steps up.
Yes, for the first time in my life, I was going up there of my own free will.
Three steps up. A quarter of the way there.
I knew I would scream and cry and curse Gozaburo, I knew it. That's why I made Mokuba stay downstairs, playing with his Gameboy.
Four steps up.
But I had to go. It was time to do some spring cleaning, time to get some answers.
Five steps up.
Answers for the things Gozaburo did to me. To Mokuba.
Six steps up.
Gozaburo was never my father, never my guardian. I would not be made in his image!
I ran the rest of the way up. I was on the twelfth step when my foot would not move the six inches to the attic. Six inches to the place where I bled and cried and was tormented when Gozaburo was alive. Six inches to Hell.
But I was going slay all of Hell's demons.
My left foot finally made contact with the boards, and all the memories came rushing back in full fury, even more so than they had on all of those nights since the day, three months before, that I had promised myself to do this. It was three months ago to that day that I found out who Noa was, and a bit less than that when I beat Gozaburo at his own game for the last time.
The air was dusty, and I coughed, but soon, this place would be painted some nice color, and the sun would come in the windows again. No more grimy windows, no more ugly fluorescent bulb hanging by a single cable. No more memories of me hiding up here, of Gozaburo finding me, hurting me, raping me. No more, no more, never again.
That place hadn't changed a bit. Same trunks, same dirt, same bed. The bed, oh God, the bed. I hated that damned bed and I still do. I've still got those memories burned into my mind as if I'd just been dragged up there yesterday:
I'm screaming, Gozaburo's hitting me. Telling me I'm a failure and a fraud and not deserving of the breath that I'm deprived of as Gozaburo slams me into the ground, once, twice, three times. The cane comes out of that hateful yellow trunk in the corner. It strikes my flesh, but I'm numb to it, too sad to feel pain, wanting to die but knowing I have to stay alive to protect Mokuba. My thoughts are always the same at times like this, when my adoptive father's nearly killing me: Mokuba, stay safe. You'll always be my little brother, even if I'm not alive. Mokuba, I love you. I think I'm dying this time. My vision goes white, I'm unconscious, thank God. Not like Gozaburo cares. Blood on the floorboards. Blood on the bed. Blood on the walls.
And I looked down, and the blood was still everywhere. I wondered, if I were to check that hateful yellow trunk that held the cane, would it still be there? Would everything revert to the way it had been for those long six years? Would Gozaburo burst in the door, angry and frightening, wanting something to take his anger out on?
I didn't touch the trunk. If I did, if Gozaburo came back... I didn't care about what would happen to me, but what would happen to Mokuba? He was all I had, him and a ghost of a brother who died before I was brought into this hell. And our parents, now just memories of voices, faceless, nameless.
That was the bigger part of the reason why I killed that old bastard. I couldn't let him harm Mokuba, because I know he would have. That, and I was tired of the insults, the beatings, being raped so often. He'd always told me that a Kaiba never let anyone push him around. Well, I was just following what he said, now, wasn't I?
I was smiling, which was the sick part. Smiling as I remembered every detail of Gozaburo's death, savoring those moments when I went downstairs and told my little brother that Gozaburo was gone forever, and we could live in the house without fear now, and Mokuba would never have to tiptoe around ever again. He'd never have to see me bloodied and sobbing ever again. We could be a family now, a real family.
But that never happened, did it? Mokuba still tiptoed around, afraid that Gozaburo's big hand would come out of the shadows and slap him across the face. He still ran into my bedroom in the middle of the night at the slightest noise. As of late, he'd been talking to Noa. He said Noa's here, Noa wants to help, Noa knows so many things about this house that would even frighten me. And I still looked in on Mokuba every night, before I went to bed. I still do.
But Mokuba was wrong about one thing. My years here had toughened me beyond belief, given me a titanium shell with a lock that only Mokuba had the key to, and nothing could frighten me.
No, I was never going to be frightened ever again.
I sat down, resting my back against the bed, trying to clear my mind of all the ugly memories. My past was coming back to haunt me, though, I could feel it. I felt it right in back of me even now, as I'd felt it creeping up ever since Battle City. Battle City... Ironic to think that if I hadn't committed murder, I probably wouldn't have been alive to even think up Battle City.
That, I decided, was enough for one day. Enough remembering, enough sadness, enough waking nightmares, enough nearly feeling Gozaburo hitting me with his cruel hands. I was going to go downstairs then, and act like everything was alright, and maybe Mokuba wouldn't be so worried. And if I acted like everything was alright, I just might have started to believe it myself.
As I got up, my heel struck an old trunk that wasn't there last time I came up there. Even though it was hidden under the bed, I know it wasn't here. I spent enough time pressed into that mattress with my eyes shut tight to memorize what was under that bed, and there was no trunk!
And so, curious, I opened the trunk. It was filled to the brim with faded, leather-bound books, the oldest of which must have been close to sixty years old. I opened one of the newer ones and was immediately repulsed by what was inside:
"...And today that ungrateful brat of a child had to be taught another lesson. I took him up to the attic as always, and I believe he is learning well. Already, he is losing the air of innocence, which is being replaced with a cold, hard demeanor. Noa could never have been molded into such a perfect child. Noa was nowhere near as pleasing, either. Always, he would whine that we were father and son, that it was a crime that we did the things we did."
My hands shook. I couldn't read anymore, it was too disgusting, too unreal. And yet, I was almost glad to know that I was not alone. I was not the only one that Gozaburo raped and tortured. I became so curious after reading that. What drove that bastard to do what he did? I needed to know or I would snap. So, picking up another book, I read on...
"Today is the elder boy's twelfth birthday, and he is like a man of thirty in his behavior. I believe that I have destroyed any shreds of innocence that may have been clinging stubbornly on, for, one year ago today, I raped him for the first time. And after something like that, how can anyone remain innocent?"
It was all I could do to keep from vomiting. I knew that he got pleasure from the whole thing, but... Oh, I couldn't stand it. It was painful to read, and I nearly laughed at the thought that the all-powerful Seto Kaiba, whose only weakness was his baby brother, could have something close to a nervous breakdown in an attic, all from reading a few silly words.
I quickly pushed all thoughts of laughing from my mind. Once I started laughing, I knew that I would lose control completely and wouldn't that have been a field day for little Yuugi and his friends... And once again, I was picking up one of those damn diaries, why couldn't I stop myself, oh my God, I don't think I wanted to. I still wanted to find out about my foster father, after everything I've read so far; what was wrong with me?!
"...and she died giving birth to Noa. Ah well, she wouldn't have lived long anyway. I would have ensured that. Honestly, anyone who thinks that Aiko wouldn't have run screaming to her friends as soon as she awakened from her damn stupor is a damn fool. Darling Aiko was a lovely creature before Noa existed in any form, although Mother and Father always loved her more. I spent the whole of my childhood watching her blossom and change from a little girl ten years my junior to a beautiful young woman, slim and delicate, and alluring in so many ways that she did not realize..."
How could he have ever fallen in love? Gozaburo was always too cruel, too twisted to feel even the smallest bit of concern for anyone besides himself, let alone to feel any type of love. I was cursing him right then, wordlessly, but if he were there, my very feelings would probably have sent him howling to the deepest pit of Hell and shackled him there forever. Ugh, right where he belongs. Bastard.
My hands still shook with rage, and I was frowning like I usually did then. It was only Mokuba who had seen that softer side of me, the side that smiles and is warm. That side of me had been relegated to some drafty corner of my brain long ago and lay there sobbing, much like I did when Gozaburo was alive. Just the thought of his name makes me feel ill, even now.
And what was that? A photo had fallen out of the book, a sepia-toned photo of a young woman about my age at that time. That must have been "darling Aiko", and I must admit, she was quite lovely. Her hair was light, and her face was perfectly proportioned. Those big eyes were surely Noa's, but for all of their softness, there was a look of hidden pain in them. I knew that look. That bastard who adopted me and my little brother installed that expression into Mokuba's eyes permanently.
I turned the picture over. She was such an elegant little creature and she couldn't have been much taller than Yuugi's "dark half" or whatever he was calling that sorry excuse for a multiple personality disorder then. Written in Gozaburo's all-too-familiar hand is "Aiko", but it was written over something else. I could barely make out the word, but- Shit. That evil bastard, I knew then and there the cause of the suffering in that sweet girl's eyes. The word that he wrote Aiko's name over, of course, was "Nee-chan".
Poor Aiko, poor Noa. Was this what Mokuba had referred to when he told me that Noa knew so many horrid things? I was certain that this was one. I even wondered if Gozaburo didn't tell my adoptive brother this regularly, making him feel dirty, the child of rape and incest.
But as terrifying as this was, it was no answer to my question. Aiko died for some imagined wrongdoing, yes, but did it connect to my past? I sounded selfish, and yet I was starving for answers. Her story could wait for another day, after I'd moved on with my life.
"I promise, Aiko," I said aloud into the dust and sunlight. "I'll avenge you."
So I put down that diary on the bed. I'd be able to find it more easily next time I came up there. I dared not bring that filth downstairs and contaminate the rest of the house with Gozaburo's hate, and if Mokuba were to find it... The poor kid was already losing touch with reality and that might just have driven him over the edge. I decided that I'd just look at one more diary, and then I'd go downstairs. I'd had more than enough of this for one day.
The diary I picked up next was different than all the others. Its cover, originally white, had been scribbled over with blue and green crayon, and I could just make out some very sloppy kanji that spelled out "Noa". Perhaps this would be the one, perhaps not, but the cover drew me in. So that was from Noa's era, was it? Well, maybe Gozaburo would have something in it about why he had to adopt two innocent little kids and warp them beyond belief. Hey, Noa was the first one, wasn't he?
This diary was also in worse shape than the others. I was guessing a very young Noa had gotten his hands on it, and I was surprised he survived the punishment for that. Some pages were loose, too, but that was Gozaburo. I recognized that style from his business papers- the old bastard would get angry and rip things up. I don't even remember how many nights I stayed up late, piecing together bits of important documents that were scattered all over the office. And whose fault was it if those documents were missing pieces or sloppy-looking from the tape all over them (and believe me, they usually were)? Guess. Really, you don't need to be a genius to figure that one out.
My hands were still shaking with rage, and some of the diary's cover came off in my right hand. It occurred to me then that Gozaburo made everything he touched so fragile. Mokuba, certainly; that poor kid was falling apart even worse than the diary I was holding, and Aiko, and Noa, and me. I know it sounds cliche, but without the identity I created for myself, I'd have been sent screaming and raving to an institution years ago, maybe only three months after Mokuba and I were adopted.
There was a bloodstain on the floorboard that hadn't been there before, and I was getting slightly nervous then. Another one appeared, and another, and another. What was going on? Had I hurt myself and not known it? Was that place truly haunted, as Mokuba said? Or, worst of all, had I finally snapped?
Looking up, I somehow saw my reflection in the dusty, grimy window, and I realized that those dots on the floor weren't blood, they were tears. My tears. I couldn't believe it, I was crying. I was actually crying, and, just to make sure I'd been seeing that right, I touched my face. Yes. Tears. I hadn't cried in years, not since the first time Gozaburo raped me.
Suddenly, there was a noise at the window, and I looked up just in time to see a bit of a shadow fleeting across the grimy pane. It looked like a shadow to me, at any rate, and with my heart pounding, I turned around slowly and...
I saw nothing.
Later, I would realized that it hadn't been any shadow, but someone outside the window, and that thought was even less comforting. Nonetheless, that day, I began to believe in ghosts. Not like the silly Yuugi-tachi did, but a little, and that was enough.
I looked around one last time, wanting to make sure I was the only one up there. When I was quite satisfied, I went back to the diary, and began to read. I was not interrupted by anything other than myself, this time.
"...the boy is dead, for all purposes. Machines are keeping his heart pumping and all of those other vital functions going, and he cannot move his body. The only thing working is his brain, which is being uploaded into a computer as I write this, and his body will be preserved. Now that he cannot protest, I think the boy will finally be put to good use as a guinea pig. His body is, after all, relatively unscathed now that the doctors have sewn him back up..."
That wouldn't help me. It was merely the old bastard's evil plan for Noa's body, nothing more, nothing less. I sighed, feeling defeated. Maybe I was never going to know why my brother and I were treated with such cruelty.
What happened next was either fate or a happy accident. As I was putting the diary back into its box, a tattered page fell out and landed right in my lap. This page contained the single paragraph that I found useful that day, although I didn't know this at the time, and, feeling curious, I skimmed over it. Then I slowed down. And then, I just went blank from the shock of what was written on the paper.
"...meddlesome child is no longer a problem. Today, his limo had a run-in with an eighteen-wheeler, and there was no way he could have survived that. The tabloids and newspapers, tomorrow morning, will say that little Noa Kaiba was involved in a fatal car accident, and isn't it a tragedy and couldn't you just cry. But if they only knew the half of it! I crow with glee as I write these words, because they will be forever confidential in here: What accident? He was beginning to question me too much. The boy was turning into a failure, a dead branch, and dead branches are always cut off. Like his sweet mother Aiko, he would have gone running to someone the first chance he got, telling everything that was supposed to be private, and that couldn't happen. That man in the truck is getting out of jail free and a million dollars in hush money, and I'm free of a little problem named Noa..."
My mouth was open and my eyes were wide as I put down the paper. I wanted to get out of there, had to get out of there. I didn't care where I would go, I just needed to leave. I made sure the paper was with the Aiko diary on top of the bed, and then I ran down the stairs, taking them two at a time, not caring if I fell. I just had to get away from that attic and go somewhere, it could have been anywhere, to think this out.
Still in shock, I found my laptop, sat down at my office desk, and began to type:
#Gozaburo murdered his own son in cold blood. It could have been Mokuba.#
END CHAPTER ONE
Well? How do you like my attempt at Seto? Wait... I'm not so sure I want an answer...
Until next chapter (in which things start to really get twisted), goodbye!