Chapter 12 Reunited at Last
The boy blinked twice, looking like he wanted to run but not knowing where to go. Almost, he was a trapped feral creature, trying to determine which way was safest to flee. Kaiba opened his mouth and closed it again, afraid to startle his brother into action.
Mokuba did not look well. There was blood all over his shirt and covering his left arm. Dirty and looking completely worn out also made his figure pitiable. A few bruises already highlighted his skin from his fall, and Kaiba could begin to feel himself growing very angry. Whoever had done this would pay.
"How-how…I mean, when…?" Mokuba looked helplessly at his older brother, not even knowing what he was trying to ask. He wavered for a moment, and Kaiba rushed down the steps in order to catch him. The boy, however, righted himself on his own, looking up at Kaiba with large eyes.
Somewhere, not that few would ever believe it, there was a leap of joy coming from Kaiba's heart. His brother was here, right before him…Then, with a start, Kaiba noticed something else. Mokuba was not wearing his card necklace, and he seemed uneasy before Kaiba.
"Mokuba," Kaiba tried again. "Are you all right?"
What a pathetic question, he thought to himself. Even now I can't sound or say what I want to.
"Did you come to lock me away again?" the boy finally burst out, looking as if the door he had just come through would be the one he charged through once more.
Kaiba, who had been about to take the last few steps over to his younger brother, could not move. The look on Mokuba's face held true fear, and that was something he could not imagine ever seeing there. Now, he was positive Mokuba had seen those false papers.
"Mokuba, I would never lock you away! Why would you think that?"
The boy had no ready reply. In fact, he had no answer at all. Just staring sadly at his brother for a few seconds, Mokuba could not bear to see his brother so shocked and disappointed so he turned his gaze to the ground.
Kaiba did not know what else he could say or do. Did his brother really think he would lock him away? Where had all this come from? After all, the note had not indicated anything like that; it merely hinted Kaiba did not remember his brother. Had the Janukas done this to him?
Getting angry at Mokuba would solve nothing, only make everything worse. Closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, Seto Kaiba backed away from his brother and prepared to be disappointed.
"Mokuba, I think I can guess why you're acting this way. Have you read this?" Kaiba dug the papers out of his coat pocket. For one thing, they were never far from him because they angered him so much, and he had brought them in case they would be helpful in finding the machine. Carefully, he held them out far away from himself, the wording evident to Mokuba.
The boy glanced from the paper to his brother's face a few times, one hand absentmindedly going to his pocket. However, doing that made his wounded arm start to slip, so he quickly supported his shirt once more. Gulping, he finally nodded his head quickly.
"I see," the young CEO said softly. Not knowing how to begin, he decided an apology was best. "I want to say…Rather, I know I haven't been—" Damn it, why were apologies so hard? He looked once more at his brother's forlorn face, the complete pitiable nature of it spurring him on. "Mokuba, I'm sorry I wrote that letter to you. I don't think you'll understand, but I want you to know I was not in my right mind. I don't want you to be a Januka, now or ever. Maybe you would rather be one; maybe they treated you better than I treated you. I want you to know that I understand. I wasn't a good brother, and I failed you. That being true, the final choice of where you want to stay will be yours. I won't force you to do anything." He glanced down at the paper. To himself, he murmured, "I've, too, often been forced."
That last comment triggered something within Mokuba's befuddled mind. Now, he looked at the paper in a new light, wondering if it could be true. On the stairwell doors he had entered through had been the words "Hobson Corporation," confusing Mokuba completely. In one part of the building, it was Kaiba's company, and here, in new paint, it was Hobson's.
The boy remembered Hobson well. The obese man had startled and kept him wary all through his life with Gozaburo. Almost, Mokuba could still hear his cackling…
No, that was right now, here.
"A little old family reunion. Too bad Mr. Gozaburo Kaiba isn't here," Hobson said, laughing. His bulk somehow managed to fit on to the stairwell, and he came down the steps, leering. "I should have guessed it was you, young Seto. Oh, wait, that's right. I did. My, my, we can't stay out of trouble with the law." His beady eyes behind the glasses focused on Mokuba.
Slowly, another smile crossed his face, which was frightening to see. "Ah. I thought the judge had ordered you to be separate, not within twenty miles of one another. And that is strange considering I heard Mokuba was missing. Don't tell me you had anything to do with it, Seto."
Kaiba glared at the man, blocking Mokuba's view as he turned to face Hobson. "Stop playing games. The appeal is coming up soon, and I know you are the one who used illegal tapes. So don't be telling me about breaking the law."
Hobson did not reply, but his slow smile was still on his ugly face. The man could have almost passed for an imbecile had Kaiba not seen the light ticking away behind his features.
"Ah, but poor Mokuba is caught up in the middle of all this. I am quite astonished to find him here. Did he help you plant the virus?"
Kaiba did not reply, only narrowed his eyes and thought over how best to escape this situation. There was one thing he could try, though there was no guarantee it was true.
"It's strange, Hobson. I thought the judge also gave the order to stop all your changing over of titles and products, since the appeal was approaching." Kaiba enjoyed watching Hobson's eyes flicker one moment of fear. Then, the smug mask was back. Kaiba continued, "I might forget about what I have seen happening here if you forget ever seeing me. But then, I don't think my brother will forget this."
Mokuba's eyes widened yet again when he heard his brother mention him.
Gesturing to his wounded, broken arm, Kaiba said, steely-eyed, "What if the judge hears about Mokuba being in your company building when all of the police are looking for him?"
Looking for him? The boy's ears perked up.
A moment of silence, tense only for those who understood passed by. Softly, the grin still present, Hobson replied, "Get out, Seto Kaiba, but don't forget to hand your brother back over to the authorities. Forget you found him here and the deal is on."
A deal with this ugly pig was the best he could do. Kaiba might have been shaking Hobson's pudgy hand to agree, but there was no way he would forget finding his brother here, wounded.
Turning back to the boy, Kaiba made his face less angry. "I need to bring you to the hospital, Mokuba." He did not want to ask his brother to accompany him in front of Hobson, so he was relieved and pleased when Mokuba mutely nodded and slowly began to follow.
Hobson did not move from his spot the stairs looking even more pleased as they squeezed by him leaving the company building.
Kaiba had not found proof of his old machine, and he would not again. However, he had discovered his brother, and that was much more important.
"Do you feel up to walking?" Kaiba had walked the entire way here, but he always had some money on him for a ride. However, since this might be again the last time with his brother, the young man wanted to prolong it as much as possible. But Mokuba's health was more important.
"Yes." If Mokuba noticed he did not have to trot to keep pace with his brother, he said nothing. "Seto…"
Mokuba hesitated, not wanting to be led the wrong way again. If his brother was going to leave him or shun him, Mokuba did not want to begin believing in something that never was. With all the turmoil in his mind, the boy's arm had ceased to bother him so much.
"Those letters…the ones you showed me. I found the old handwriting machine, and well…" Mokuba could only helplessly wish what he was indicating was true. Yet, he could not come out and directly ask, for fear it was wrong.
"You found the machine?" Kaiba glanced at his brother, wondering what story he had to tell. Maybe Kaiba would never hear it. Instead of pursuing the story, he said, "I didn't write those letters, Mokuba. I was unconscious when it happened."
Somewhere within the boy, a powerful dragon spread its wings and took flight, but Mokuba still did not want to grow too excited too soon. Within his life were still many other problems.
Mokuba stopped walking and tugged on his brother's sleeve. There was still a bandage on his wrist, though it was a small one.
"Seto, why? If the letter I read was wrong, then why did you do it?"
Kaiba pulled his sleeve back down, not wanting to talk about this. But his brother needed it.
The brothers were both stopped now. "The letter could not be further from the truth. I would never want to be like Gozaburo. And I don't think my company is more important than you, Mokuba, though I know it seemed like that." His blue eyes that were normally so cold closed in order to hide the warmth that was thawing them. "I did it because I had been a lousy brother."
What reply was there to say to that? Mokuba went silent, wondering how he could have been so wrong this entire time.
Kaiba did not want that hanging in the air, so he continued, "And that other letter, the one that I truly sent, I did it because I didn't want you wishing for something that would never be. Do you understand? I thought if I made you angry with me you would start to heal and grow in your new life."
"But, Seto, I don't want a new life. All I ever wanted was for you to not work as hard and maybe play a few games with me."
"I'm sorry." This time, the words did not seem to be hard to say at all. "I'm sorry, Mokuba, so sorry…"
The boy could not believe it when his brother turned away because he had wet cheeks. There had only been one other time he had seen Seto cry, and that had been when he himself had been taken away. Mokuba's reaction was natural. Already, the days of depression and worthlessness faded away in the light of the truth. Even with his arm in its makeshift cast, Mokuba went in front of his brother and hugged him.
Needless to say, the hospital was shocked at seeing a boy with a bone jutting out of his arm—hardly feeling any pain, he claimed. His shirt was bloodied and irreparable, but there was a large smile on the boy's face even as the one who brought him in left him. The smile tugged on the lips of all the workers, so that once they had seen Mokuba, they could not help feeling lightened as they continued with other duties.
Alone in his room, a smile still on his face, Mokuba dug out his card from his pants pocket. He had had to fight to keep his own pants, since the hospital wanted him in cleaner clothing, but in the end, his face let him get his way.
"Seto…I'm glad I can trust you," he said happily, replacing it around his neck after he was finished seeing his brother's grinning face.
They had discussed quite a lot on the way to the hospital. Now, Mokuba understood why his brother had sent him that mean letter and that the other letters were not his. Even better, Mokuba was confident that his brother still wanted him. Maybe becoming "Bewd" had helped even more than it seemed to.
For now, he was fine with the name Mokuba.
"Explain it again, sir," Fuguta said to Roland, trying to understand what his friend was saying.
Roland visibly closed his eyes and counted. This had to be the third time he was explaining it, and that was just to Fuguta.
"Mr. Kaiba found Mokuba in the old Kaiba Corporation building. Mokuba had a broken arm and did not seem like himself. Remember how he just ran away for no reason? Well, it seems he was kidnapped by Hobson. But, Mr. Kaiba had to agree not to say anything about that in the trial, or else Hobson would have told the judge about Mr. Kaiba breaking into Kaiba Corp and being in direct contact with Mokuba. I think the judge would understand that Mr. Kaiba had to bring Mokuba to the hospital, but it is better to be safe than separate.
"Now, the appeal is tomorrow, but I believe more than just the last trial will be discussed. Mokuba was indeed kidnapped. He explained what happened to the police, and while they can't tie it to Hobson, the police are watching him. Even better, Mokuba claimed that he ran away from the Januka household and got a ride with some friends he found. That should put you and the other high school students at ease. You won't be blamed."
Finally, Fuguta seemed to understand the story. Relieved, he wiped his brow and thanked Roland. Then, he went back to his duties on the way walking by Mr. Kaiba's door.
Inside there, Kaiba was organizing the completed notes for his appeal. He thought a win was very much in their favor, but Hobson was tricky. Even when he had just seen the stubby man, Kaiba had been wary at how unconcerned Hobson was. Obviously, Hobson was not afraid of losing the company.
Now, though, with Mokuba's kidnapping tale and his finding the handwriting machine in working order, there seemed very little way Hobson could win. At the moment, certain members of the law enforcement were extricating the machine since YO had gotten a search warrant because of the added connection to the trial. No one should be copying another person's handwriting, which is why the machine had first been locked in the basement. If Kaiba could also get Hobson with forgery, there would not be many years after Hobson's sentence for him to be causing harm.
Kaiba could hardly wait for the appeal to be over. Right then, he was wondering how Mokuba was doing in the hospital.
There were a few footsteps outside the door, hesitating for a moment—probably reading the name of the room's occupant—before coming through the doorway. Worried and relieved at the same time, Mr. and Mrs. Januka hurried over to the boy in bed. For the first time since earlier that day, Mokuba felt his smile fading.
"Oh, Mokuba, we were so worried!" Mrs. Januka did not keep herself from perhaps emotionally frightening the boy; instead, she flung herself onto him and clutched him close. He was uneasy to see the tears on her face.
Mr. Januka looked awkward as well, shifting his weight from foot to foot as he stood back, watching his wife with her foster son.
In her arms, Mokuba did not know what to do. He had no such attachments to these people, yet he could understand where they were coming from since the way he felt for his brother was similar. As the woman drew back, Mokuba tried not to make eye contact with her still struggling to see how he should speak to them.
The appeal was surely off-limits. Also, he did not want to discuss why he had run and what had happened. To him, there was nothing more to say to the Janukas, other than an apology that they had been dragged into this mess.
For now, however, they sat in silence. This silence was worse than Mokuba shutting himself in his room since in this silence, the Janukas could sense a looming farewell bubbling to escape Mokuba's mouth.
The appeal, though, had not yet been won.
To YO, the appeal was won. There was no way they could lose, not with the evidence he had tracked down. Along with Mr. Kaiba's new information, there just was no conceivable way they could fail. Mokuba would come back home.
He only wished everyone else were as confident as he was. The day of the appeal, YO did not even attempt to speak to Mr. Kaiba since it was all worthless. The young CEO was too tense to listen and too snappy to politely ignore any undesired words.
Thus far, he had promised to himself not to use the kidnapping as evidence because of the rotten deal Kaiba had struck with Hobson. If needed, however, Kaiba would bring it up. And he still thought someone should pay. His little brother had been kidnapped and placed into a room until they decided to do something to him. He was certain they were not just going to pat his head and let him out after the appeal was over.
Another problem was that it would be the same judge as last time, which did not lighten anyone. As much as they were supposed to be unbiased, it was difficult to forget what you already knew. And this judge knew Kaiba did not deserve to keep Mokuba.
Fewer people came to hear the appeal, but whispering in the third row was the gang. Kaiba saw them once, and then promptly ignored them. Why did the appeal have to be on a weekend day?
Yugi, Téa, Joey, Tristan, Duke, and Bakura continued to talk to one another, everyone seeing various people and Joey smugly telling them who they were.
"Dat's de odder side's lawyers, Mr. Yara and Mr. Gato. Dey dink dey got it all in de bag, but dey'll be surprised when my uncle whips deir bums!" Joey gave his well-known laugh, sounding something like, "Heh haha!"
Tristan was rubbing his fist, muttering about showing those lawyers just how pathetic they were. Yugi, though, reminded them all not to get into trouble.
"If we mess things up for the Kaibas, they'll probably never get to stay together! So, be on your best behavior."
They fell quieter, though Téa could not help reacting when Mokuba came in, the Janukas behind him. The boy did not look at them; he was too busy focusing on his brother as he had at the last trial he had been at.
"Oh, poor Mokuba. Look at him, craning to see Kaiba. And his arm is wounded!"
Yugi's eyes were wider than usual. "Yeah. I wonder what happened?"
Kaiba was looking back, and to the astonishment to everyone around him—to everyone in his life, Kaiba smiled at the sight of Mokuba's excitement to see him.
There was no detaining the boy. He rushed forward so that even if the Janukas had good reactions, they would not be able to hold him back. Instead, they paused mid-stride before following their foster son to his brother. Fortunately, the judge was not here yet. However, some bailiffs were, and they also strode forward.
Kaiba quickly stood to bend down to his brother, saying lowly, "I won't make you any promises this time, Mokuba. But I want you to know I am going to try with all my heart to win this."
Mokuba smiled. "I know you are. I don't know why I ever doubted you before about you wanting to win, but I don't anymore. And I know I can trust you. Even if we didn't win the trial, I know we can win this. You're the best big brother I could ask for!"
"Well, that's good, since I'm the only one you'll ever have," Kaiba commented dryly, glancing up at the Janukas who had just reached him. Ever a businessman, he extended his hand and said, "Thank you for caring for Mokuba during the last few weeks. I know he can be a handful, but you were assigned to be his guardian, which you did. I just regret that this business is not yet resolved."
Mr. Januka nodded. "Yes. We will see what happens now, but know that we still hold you high in esteem, Mr. Kaiba."
"As I hold you, Mr. Januka."
The politics of business. Saying what you did not mean and having to act as if you did.
By then, the bailiff had arrived and sternly warned them away from each other. If "there was another breach in protocol," someone would be penalized. The Kaibas were not to have any direct correspondence. A little sadly, Mokuba just glanced back as he went to his seat.
There was a small tight feeling in his pocket as he sat, so Mokuba put his hand in to see what was there. To his astonishment, he pulled out a Blue-Eyes White Dragon card. His brother must have slipped it in when he had bent down to talk to him. Mokuba looked back up to see if his brother's face indicated anything, but Kaiba was facing forward again as the judge was making his entrance.
Everyone stood and the introductions were made as before with only a slightly different twist.
Misters Yara and Gato had all the evidence Hobson had given them, claiming that, yes, Hobson used the tapes. But he had permission. It was when the man himself was on the stand that they were revealing this information. Sitting before everyone in a chair that was too small, Hobson continued leering as he gave his account.
In this trial, Kaiba was helping YO as an assistant lawyer. When it came time to cross-examine, Kaiba stood to do it.
"You say you have my permission to use the tapes. You even showed a paper with my writing and signature on it. But how can that be proven true?"
There was a small silence on the crowd. The other two lawyers were not even whispering together anymore but looking at their boss in slight dismay. Hobson did not look worried.
"Compare your signature to the one on the paper and to your handwriting. You'll find they are the same."
Kaiba asked permission to allow exhibit B, which the judge granted. From the back of the courtroom, Fintan and Duncan carried in an old machine they had gotten from the Kaiba Corporation building. On seeing this, Hobson's smile seemed a little pasted, but he still was not too deterred.
Bringing it up front, Kaiba began explaining what this was. Then, he asked the judge to write the sentence, "The very quick fox jumps over the lazy brown dog." After that, the judge was the sign his name.
He did so, wondering if this machine could really do as Kaiba described. Typing in what the new note would say, Kaiba said nothing until it was printed out in ink. Then, he handed the sheet to the judge, who whitened.
"This is obviously my handwriting, and I would say what is written on there is nothing I have ever written before! Your point is well-taken, young man." The judge ripped the paper, wanting to keep what was on there private. Then, he banged his gavel to quiet the growing roar. "If you don't have anymore evidence, I will have to call this case as decided," he said to the lawyers and Hobson.
Mr. Yara stood up, saying they had one more piece of evidence.
Meanwhile, Kaiba turned from where he was on the raised floor, finding his brother's eyes and nodding to him. It was only through Mokuba's aid that he had discovered the old machine. Then, the young CEO returned to his seat. YO could not have been any prouder.
Hobson remained on the stand to continue testifying. After all, it was the next information that he was certain no one could dispute.
"Don't you also have someone else's permission to use the said tapes?"
Hobson nodded. "Yes, the late Mr. Gozaburo Kaiba granted me permission to use them years ago. And, since this Mr. Kaiba never took the permission away, I still have the right to use them. After all, I used to work for Mr. Kaiba until I was just upgraded to owner."
If there were one person whom Kaiba wished he had fired long ago, it was now the large man smirking on the stand. Still, he kept his wits about him as he rose to again cross-examine.
"So, if I were to fire you now, that would not affect this?" Kaiba knew the answer; he was just leading into where he wanted to go.
Again, the man nodded. "You're wrong. You can't fire me at all. There is nothing you can do that would deny me the permission since you can't fire me. You can't rewrite the rule, young Kaiba. You don't own the company anymore." Hobson leaned back and smiled.
Somehow, Kaiba hardly seemed upset. His voice went falsetto. "But, Hobson, the company takes a process of six weeks to transfer to any new owner. Look under the Corporation Regulations and Customs, under Rule 137, point 4. So, I still own the company, and I can still rewrite the rule." He plopped down the book he was referring to, pointing out the paragraph to the judge.
The crowd was murmuring and whispering to one another, making a low grumbling.
The judge was reading the handbook seeing exactly what Kaiba was talking about. He pounded his gavel and confirmed, "Mr. Kaiba is right. I have found the rule he is referring to. He still owns the company at this time."
Standing up, Hobson could not believe it. "What do you mean? A simple technicality!" Hobson raged.
Kaiba smirked. "You should have done your homework. Then, you wouldn't have fallen to such a well-known fact. Yet, you thought yourself smart enough to run my company?"
The judge had to pound his gavel repeatedly to quiet everyone down, and when he did, he asked if Hobson and his lawyers had any more evidence. At their silence and infuriated looks, the judge concluded the verdict immediately.
"The last trial was a mistrial because of faulty evidence. Now, that result will be tossed and if so desired, a new one will begin to see if Seto Kaiba is worthy to be Mokuba Kaiba's guardian."
People were on their feet, the gang included, and everyone began talking and milling about. So far, reporters were kept away.
Worming his way through the throng of people, Mokuba smacked into several people, hardly caring when his arm burned. If only he weren't so short!
"Seto! Seto!" Mokuba found him at last, disregarding his arm again as he flung his good arm around him and sandwiched his bad one against his brother. "I knew you could do it, nii-sama."
Kaiba looked fondly down at his little brother, wondering why he had never noticed how it made his heart less heavy to see Mokuba smile.
He felt a small hand burrow its way into his pocket, and he was not surprised to feel the familiar presence of a Duel Monsters card left there.
The gang was looking at the happy brothers, finally leaving when Yugi shoved them out. Bakura grabbed Tristan and Duke grabbed Joey, so Yugi was left to herd Téa out the door. Reporters were in the way, but they all knew it would soon be worse to be one of those involved in the trial. The reporters were pushing their way inside.
One stopped before them. "Are you students from Domino High School? What do you have to say about your former teacher, Mr. Hanakori?"
A microphone was shoved into Tristan's face, but they were all silent, clueless as to what the reporter was talking about. On inspiration, or just true feeling, Joey grabbed the microphone and prepared to make a statement.
"He's always on my nerves and never been nice ta us! I dink he's a pain in de….uh, butt. And we're glad he's now a former teacher." His face went blank. "Eh, since when has he been former?"
The reporter had already turned back to the camera, saying the closing remarks.
"There you have it. One of his students has said he knew Hanakori was trouble all along. He was the one who kidnapped the younger Mr. Kaiba according to the child's description. We are still waiting to see if Hanakori pleads guilty or not, but with what we heard as a motive, and this is not certain, Hanakori thought he was going to be moving up in the business world after the kidnapping. From an anonymous source, we got word that Hanakori was working in conjunction with Hobson Corporation and was planning on becoming a member of the Board of Directors since all five other men have quit or are gone.
"Yet, that is not all. It is said there is another problem heis facing as well. One of his students turned him in for abusing the school's medications…"
Yugi took a double take, very suspicious when he felt his other's self's smug presence. To Yami, he thought, "You? You turned him in? You didn't get me in trouble, did you?"
"Don't worry, Yugi. I went at night when you were supposed to be in bed and made certain you wouldn't remember. I also made sure it was anonymous. No one will be able to find out it was you," he assured his friend.
Not knowing what else to say or do, Yugi walked down the steps glad that things had been taken care of for both parties.
Back inside, the Janukas stayed back, faces saddened, but the true emotion hid for a time when they could be alone. They thought about going to say farewell, but seeing Mokuba with Kaiba made them decide otherwise. It was better to leave things as they were. At least now the boy who had been so scarred with them was healing. They had to do the same without the boy.
Hobson had to be escorted out since he would not stop raging. "This is not the last time you'll hear from me! I still own your company!"
Kaiba turned to look at him. "Actually, with Mokuba's percentage of the company back with mine, you don't. And in case you were wondering, you're fired."
The six policeman continued to shove the man out the doors, and YO stopped looking at the group to bid farewell to his clients.
"I'm glad it ended well, sir. But, so you know, I'm sure there will be a following trial to see if you are a suitable guardian."
Kaiba looked at his brother who was still clinging to him, face buried in his suit coat. Kaiba suspected he was hiding tears. "It won't matter. They won't have any evidence. From now on, it's Mokuba who is first." There was still the corporation to fix up, but that would be done with less emphasis than before (but not as little as what helped cause him to lose the company in the first place).
YO smiled as he saw the brothers attempting to leave the area, Kaiba having to help his brother walk because of how closely the boy was glued to him. Eventually, Mokuba freed himself and was content to hold his nii-sama's hand as they waded through the reporters to get back to their old, newly-appreciated life.
The end. La fin.