WSJ: We all know who Seto Kaiba is, and what he's like. But what does he look like through the eyes of a stranger? Does he realize how much power he truly holds? Inspired by the song Hands, by Jewel, and a little bit of the dream I had last night.
Disclaimer: I don't own YGO.
"And where there's a man who has no voice,
There I shall go singing.
My hands are small, I know,
But they're not yours,
They are my own."
Seto Kaiba, teenage CEO of Kaiba Corp., current Asian Duel Monsters Champion and former World Duel Monsters Champion, sighed in exasperation. It had already been a long day at the office, and now Mokuba was dragging him to Kaiba Land for a stupid Duel Monsters festival thing. It was sure to be crowded, with little kids swarming all over him and grabbing at his coat and begging for his autograph. Yay. Kaiba really hated little kids. Well, all except Mokuba.
"Mokuba please," he groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose with two fingers. "Can't we just skip it?"
His little brother looked up at him with a slightly wounded expression. "Aw come on oniisan, I already told the media you'd be making an appearance!"
Kaiba groaned. Media. Just what he didn't need. This couldn't get any worse.
"And besides," Mokuba continued. "Yugi and Jou are going to be there, so you should be too."
...Apparently, it could. But Mokuba was right, if he didn't show up at least for a little while Jou would rub it in his face the next time they saw each other. He sighed and made a mental note to have his driver stop at a drug store on the way there so he could pick up some aspirin. "Okay Mokuba, let's go..."
"Yay! Thank you Seto!" Mokuba gave him a quick hug and then ran for the door, trusting his brother to follow him. Seto realized for the first time that Mokuba was excited about this. Wonderful, that meant the kid would probably try and talk him into staying for several hours. Well this time Kaiba was going to put his foot down. No meant no.
The limo ride to Kaiba Land was spent with Mokuba bouncing up and down on his seat and waving out the window to passers-by as Kaiba scowled and rubbed his temples. People had come from all over for this festival, and Seto was already envisioning large crowds of loud foreigners. This year was the tenth anniversary of Pegasus's original release of the first 100 Duel Monsters cards, so this stupid festival was sure to last well into the night. Silently Seto cursed for listening to Mokuba when he'd insisted that Seto host it at Kaiba Land.
The limo pulled inside the park, and Seto opened the door to screaming fans and several thousand flashbulbs. One of Mokuba's friends, that blond Rebecca kid, pushed through the crowd to grab Mokuba by the hand. "Come on!"
"Be ready to go in an hour, Mokuba!" Seto yelled after him. Mokuba shot him a distressed look, and Rebecca had the nerve to stick her tongue out at Seto before the two younger kids vanished into the crowd. Seto sighed and started wading through the fans, making for the main duel arena. Maybe a few exhibition duels would let him vent some of his frustration and get rid of this stupid headache.
Kaiba Land was filled with duel arenas. Most of them were the old holographic ones like Pegasus had had at Duelist Kingdom, but now 'a days there were a few just plain stadiums that had Duel Disks for rent, so players could actually duel Battle City style. The grandest of these was Cairo Stadium, named at Mokuba's suggestion. It seated nearly a thousand, and it was for this arena that Seto made for. He'd brought his own Duel Disk, of course, so he wouldn't need to waste the money to rent one from his own employees.
As he made his way through the mostly waist-high crowd, Kaiba couldn't help but scowl. It seemed all his worst nightmares had decided to come and rest on him tonight. He passed Jou and Yugi, who were in the middle of a huge crowd signing autographs. Yugi spotted him and waved, and Seto nodded to him before continuing on his way.
Passing one of the buildings that housed one of the arenas set up to handle Dungeon Dice Monsters, Seto paused momentarily to watch the large screens set up so people outside could watch the duels. It seemed Otogi was here too, because he was in the middle of a DDM duel with some snot-nosed kid. The kid was obviously incompetent, and was getting his butt kicked by the game's creator, although Otogi was obviously holding back. Seto frowned, wondering why Otogi was even bothering. As he watched, the duel ended with Otogi as winner, and both of them stepped off the arena. Seto was surprised to see a grin on Otogi's face as he ruffled the kid's hair. "Good game," the dice-master said. The kid looked up at him with an adoring look on his face, and Seto scowled and turned away.
He continued to push his way through the crowds, ignoring the many people who tried to get his attention or ask for autographs. He passed one of the many temporary shops that had been set up to sell card to visiting tourists, and he was slightly startled to hear his name shouted in something other than a child's treble. Turning, he raised an eyebrow at the teen behind the counter, who was waving at him. Weaving his way between the crowds, Seto leaned against the counter and finally recognized who it was that had yelled at him. The mop of white hair was unmistakable, but it was rather surprising to see it pulled back into a braid and bouncing against the back of one of the Kaiba Land uniforms.
"I wasn't aware you worked for me, Bakura." Seto said, frowning slightly as Ryou handed a booster pack to a grinning little kid and took his money.
Ryou shrugged as he rang up the purchase and stuck the money into the cash register. "I don't. I'm volunteering for the duration of the festival."
Seto gave him a disbelieving look. "You're doing this of your own free will," he said flatly. "And not getting paid? And you're not complaining?"
Ryou chuckled, brushing his snowy bangs out of his eyes and leaning against the counter. "You sound like mou hitori no boku. No, I'm not being paid, and yes, I'm doing this of my own free will."
Ryou smiled and shook his head. "I guess you wouldn't understand, would you, Kaiba-san? Mou hitori no boku doesn't either. There's just something about making someone else smile that makes up for the lack of money. I love watching little kid's eyes light up when they find just the card they were looking for. It's so... I don't know. Empowering, I guess."
Seto furrowed his brow, wondering what the Ring holder had been smoking. Empowerment was what you felt when you claimed victory over a worthy opponent, or beat an unworthy one into the ground. Something as petty as a child's smile couldn't give you an awesome feeling like that.
Seto was just about to answer when they were interrupted by a little girl, who excitedly pointed to something on a high shelf, clutching a few dollar bills in one hand. Ryou smiled and waved to her parents, who were standing nearby, before turning to get what it was the girl wanted. After a moment of straining on his tiptoes, he turned to Seto with an apologetic expression. "Ano, Kaiba-san, I'm not tall enough..."
Seto rolled his eyes, but stepped into the booth to get down whatever it was Ryou couldn't reach. It turned out to be a plastic mock-up of the Sennen Puzzle, which made Seto twitch slightly as Ryou took the girl's money and handed her the fake Item. Grinning, she put it around her neck, spinning around to model it off. Ryou laughed and clapped, but Seto just scowled.
"You know Yugi would have a fit if he saw that," the CEO said harshly, crossing his arms over his chest. "Only a true duelist is fit to wear the Sennen Puzzle, fake or not."
The girl looked at him with big eyes before turning to run to her parents. Seto scowled after her, and was only brought back to the here by a sharp hit on his shoulder. He whirled to face a scowling Ryou, or Yami no Bakura, actually. "What was that for?!"
"Che," Yami no Bakura crossed his arms, mimicking Seto's pose. "Don't you have any heart at all, Kaiba? Even I wouldn't be that mean to a little kid."
"You're just jealous because you'll never get your hands on any Puzzle, plastic or not."
Yami no Bakura bristled, scowling at him. "Why you-"
"I don't have time for petty thieves. If I find anything missing from my stocks, you're the first one I'm sueing, whitey-locks." Seto sneered, turning on his heel and disappearing into the crowds, ignoring Yami no Bakura's loud curses from behind him, which were cut off as Ryou regained control and sighed.
Seto stormed on, in a worse mood than before. Putting smiles on the faces of little kids? Had everyone around him turned into Anzu Mazaki all of a sudden? At least Cairo Stadium was currently unoccupied, so he wouldn't have to wait for some amateurs to finish their petty games.
Signing in with the officials at the front desk, Kaiba stomped out to one end of the arena and crossed his arms, waiting for whoever would be brave enough to challenge him first. He went through three duels in quick succession, and by the time he was half-way through the fourth his anger and annoyance had cooled. After the sixth he figured it was time to quit and waved his hand to show he was no longer taking challenges. There was an audible groan from the crowd, who'd apparently been enjoying watching him trash his opponents.
As Kaiba started to leave the stadium, wiping the sweat from his forehead with his sleeve, he was attracted by a commotion to one side of the entrance. Frowning and wondering if he should call security, Kaiba started in that direction. Several of his workers and a woman of about thirty were gathered around something, a child, Kaiba presumed.
"But mom!!" the child, a boy by his voice, was whining. "Mom, Kaiba-sama's taking all challengers! This might be my last chance ever to meet him, or even duel him! Mom, you gotta let me go!"
Against his will, Seto found himself smiling a little. Heh, the kid sounded like Mokuba when he wanted something. 'Kaiba-sama', eh?
"I'm sorry," the woman, the mother, said. "But it would just be too stressful. Those Duel Disks are far too real for you to use, they could really hurt you."
Seto stepped up and was about to tap the woman on the shoulder so he could tell her to stop making a scene when she moved, and he got his first real look at the kid. Seto froze, his eyes widening slightly in the only expression of surprise he would allow himself. The boy had to be at least ten or twelve, but he looked younger. He was resting in a wheelchair with a Duel Disk that seemed far too large and heavy for him in his lap. The Blue Eyes White Dragon baseball cap he wore couldn't hide his lack of hair, and for a moment Seto felt as if he'd been punched in the stomach. This kid was dying...
The boy saw him then, and his eyes grew wider than Yugi's. Seeing her son's expression, the mother turned and gasped when she saw Seto. "Oh! Kaiba-san! I-"
"The Duel Disks can be set to just project holograms, not force blows. It's perfectly safe, I promise," Seto blurted, wondering where that had come from. "I'd be honored to duel your son."
'Hold on,' his mind berated him. 'Where did this come from? I thought you wanted to get out of here as fast as possible and not associate with any snotty nosed brats.'
Well yeah, but this one was different...
If the boy's eyes had gotten any bigger, they might have popped out of his skull. "K-kaiba-sama!!"
Seto smiled at him. "You did bring your deck, right...?"
"Tommy," the kid said, his eyes huge. "But... I'm not strong enough to hold up a Duel Disk..."
Seto smirked. "That can be fixed." Looking over the crowd, he whistled sharply and waved to the duo he'd just seen walking by. Never in his life had he been so glad to see the mutt's stupid head sticking up above a crowd. Giving each other surprised looks, Yugi and Jou hurried over. Tommy's jaw dropped open at being so close to three dueling legends.
"Hey Kaiba, what's up?" Yugi asked, cocking his head curiously at Tommy.
Seto grinned. "This is Tommy. He's just agreed to duel me, but he needs a little help with the Duel Disk. Of course, Jou'll have to stay out here. We don't allow pets in the stadium."
"Grrr, I'll show you who's a pet!" Jou growled. "With me and Yugi on Tommy-kun's side, you don't stand a chance, moneybags!"
Seto smirked again and winked at Tommy. "We'll see. Gimme a hand, will you inu?" He took a hold of one side of the wheelchair, and Jou took the other. With Yugi behind to steady them, the duo proceeded to carry Tommy into the stadium, wheelchair and all, to be greeted with the roaring of the crowds.
Yugi took charge of Tommy's Duel Disk, although Tommy held his own cards, and Jou managed to keep his advice to himself unless Tommy asked for it. The duel wasn't a long one, but it wasn't short either. In the end, it was obvious to Jou and Yugi that Seto had thrown the match, but Tommy was speechless.
As the last holograms faded away, Seto crossed the arena and smirked, reaching down to tweak Tommy's nose. "Here, kid."
Tommy's jaw dropped again when he realized that Jou, Seto, and Yugi were all holding cards out to him. Nearly breathless, he took them. Rocket Warrior, Summoned Skull, and, from his hero, La Jinn the Mystical Genie. He stared at the top three duelists in the world, and quickly tried to hand the cards back. "I-I can't!"
"Sure you can," Jou winked at him. "You don't want to offend us, do you?"
Yugi sweatdropped sheepishly. "Besides, you don't think we don't have others at home, do you?"
Tommy giggled. "Well, I guess you guys do have a lot of cards, don't you?"
"Rooms of them," Seto said dryly, though he was still grinning.
"Would you..." Tommy looked down shyly. "Would you sign the backs?"
The three duelists exchanged glances. "Of course."
Later, as Seto waved good-bye to Tommy and prepared to leave, Tommy's mother caught his arm and drew him a little aside. "Thank you," she whispered, and Seto was surprised to see tears in her eyes. "Tommy's got leukemia, the doctors don't know how much longer he'll have. Coming here was his last wish, Kaiba-san. You've been his hero ever since he was little. Thank you so much, you've made him so happy."
Seto smiled at her, a sincere smile for once. "You're welcome. I'm glad I could help. He's a good kid."
She smiled back at him and let go of his arm. "I know."
Seto nodded at her and then turned to go. It was getting late, and he still had to find Mokuba. Shoving his hands in his pockets, Seto started whistling under his breath.
Losing a duel had never felt so good.
Happy birthday Seto!
God bless minna-san!