Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters, except for my own.
It's been years since I last updated this piece, and I've had a number of excuses to not update. I stopped simply because I wasn't driven anymore to do so. I wasn't feeling the passion anymore. I didn't until a couple of months ago. Today, I viewed this story with fresh eyes. While I wish I could change what I've posted once again, I've decided to leave it alone, and let my newly edited writing grow and improve itself from here on out. Hopefully, new and old readers can enjoy this piece, and I hope this renewed passion sticks around long enough for me to finish like I always intended to.
Thank you everyone, for reading and showing your avid support for this piece, and I hope I don't let you guys down again.
And now without further a due… chapter five.
As the limo pulled up to the front of the house, the driver tipped his hat slightly. The house was a glorious thing to behold, and it was unfortunate that only half the people in the limousine could see the beautiful white house lined with freshly painted blue shudders. The grass was shaved to perfection, and each of the bloated bushes lining the walkway seemed content, stretching its large leaves out to soak in the sun's rays. Mokuba and Adriana got out of the car, leaving Kaiba sitting inside.
"You're sitting on the right side of the limo," Adriana spoke up, "I'm pretty sure your driver pulled up to your house the same way he usually does. I want you to walk to the front door, unlock your house, go into kitchen and grab a can of chicken soup. After that I want you to go to the family room, to Mokuba's bedroom, and then back to your room. If we have to bail you out and help you to a room, or if you fail to get into a room, then I stay. Prove me wrong, then you can brag and gloat all you want and I'll get out of your hair for good," she promised, hoping that the layout she had just described would prove to be a worthy challenge. Without any previous knowledge about the house, she was had no idea if she had just instructed Kaiba to walk in a straight line through his house or to go up and down a flight of stairs three or four times.
"And just how am I supposed to tell the soups apart?" Kaiba asked irritably.
"It's a can, I won't count it against you if you bring me the wrong one. It's extra credit though," Adriana grinned. "I doubt you'll even get to the point where you have to figure out the difference between chicken soup and a can of corn."
With a note of vengeance, Kaiba rushed out of the limousine and slammed the door. However, beyond that display there was nothing left to impress upon Adriana the seriousness that he took in completing his task. Awkwardly, he inched his way forward, feeling naked and stripped, as though he were missing something vitally important.
From the start, Mokuba knew his brother was going to fail the challenge. Kaiba seemed to be lost and slightly disoriented. His feet shuffled awkwardly as though he was certain he was going to run into something; he just didn't know what or when it would happen. With flailing arms, Kaiba managed to get around the limo and his search for the curb began.
It was frustrating for Kaiba, to think that the curb was just inches from his feet, but he never seemed to reach it. When his foot clipped the curb, it sent a jolt of surprise through his veins. He found himself trying to open his eyes, despite the fact that they were all ready struggling to see what was in front of him. In his mind he knew that he was blind, but he was too used to seeing, stuck in the habit of blinking to focus on an object.
Kaiba stepped over the curb and straightened himself out before taking a few more hesitant steps. A loud crunching sound alerted him that he was stepping on a bunch of leaves, and the ground beneath him was softer and his feet no longer made a clipping sound. He was off the pavement and onto the front lawn.
Reasoning that he could just turn back around and get back on the path, Kaiba uncoordinatedly walked towards the sidewalk with little success. Unfortunately, the simple fact that he had bushes planted along the sidewalk had left Kaiba's mental image of his destination. There was a loud rustle and several crunching noises as the bush was brutally stomped and flattened, however that was not the only thing that had taken on a deflated appearance as well. Kaiba tripped and fell into the bush.
"You all right?" Adriana asked cautiously as Kaiba stood up and brushed himself off.
"Mokuba, remind me tell the gardeners to remove those bushes at once," Kaiba ignored Adriana's comment.
"Kaiba, I think we should just call it quits, I think I've… seen enough," Adriana said, "Just let me help."
"I'm not asking you for help."
"You don't have to. I'm volunteering," Adriana took a deep breath before speaking again. "I want you to be able to go out in public, and walk with confidence, because you have a lot of pride. You should still have the ability to show it off."
"I can figure this out by myself," Kaiba lashed back a little louder than he intended.
"Of course you can! But that will take longer, this is a good shortcut to take, and I don't cut corners," Adriana suppressed the pleading note that threatened to shake in her voice. "Don't you want to be up and running as soon as possible?"
"Of course! What kind of question—?"
"Ok. I don't want you see this as a low blow because it's not supposed to be intended to be as one… but it's not just for your benefit. Your brother is acting beyond his years, but he can't take care of you while you're trying to figure out how to live life normally. He can do a lot… but neither of you two make great Supermen. So… just let me help. For Mokuba. I swear it'll be worth it, and I will be out of your life as soon as soon as you've mastered the challenges I throw at you. Deal?"
Everyone could feel the tension rising in the air. Mokuba could feel his heart crashing against his chest in anticipation of his brother's reply. For a moment, it looked as though Kaiba was going to demand that Adriana walk home and to leave him and Mokuba alone. However, what came out of the C.E.O's mouth surprised everyone, including the driver who was eavesdropping intently.
"Don't get too comfortable here," Kaiba conceded flatly, no more fight left in him to pursue the matter.
"I won't even unpack," Adriana swore softly.
There wasn't anything else that needed to be said. The passive silence that followed after the mutual agreement was broken when the limo pulled away from the house, knowing there was not going to be anymore exciting gossip to overhear.
Mokuba took his brother's arm and led him towards the front door. He turned out to be a good guide, warning Kaiba where each step was, and forcing Kaiba to walk at a normal speed. A sheepish cough from behind the Kaiba brothers alerted Mokuba to a potential problem.
Kaiba mansion was not the most handicap accessible house in the world, and it certainly did not contain an easy ramp for her to wheel up to the front of the house. There was no way she could get in through the front entrance because of the stairs. Mokuba thought quickly to find a solution that would not sound bad to his brother.
"Adriana… do you… like gardening?" Mokuba asked haltingly.
"I do actually. My mom did a lot of gardening when I was younger," Adriana answered promptly, picking up on Mokuba's hint, "Do you have good landscaping here?"
"Yeah! Do you want to check the backyard out? Its got a really nice view-"
"And I love the smell of gardens," Adriana added with a note of wonder, "Do me a favor though and come back out in a few minutes. I'd like to see the front first."
"You're not here to sight see," Kaiba grumbled irritably.
"I know," Adriana answered casually, "But I know you'd probably like to settle in, so let me sight see for a bit. See you in a few minutes, Mokuba."
"Ok… let's go Seto," Mokuba lightly tugged on his brother's arm to lead him into the house. Kaiba glanced back futilely, in a small gesture of gratitude.
The door shut with a soft click, leaving Adriana completely alone. It was in that moment that she was able to fully absorb her surroundings and breathe in the surprisingly clearer air. Domino City had a natural gasoline and cigarette odor that could not be avoided simply because it was a city. It was busy city with thousands of commuters coming in from either gang-ridden or wealthy suburbs. And the scents of trees and lush rosebushes around her seemed to mask the city stench.
A cold wind from the north made her short hair fly out of her face, and with it came a fresh sent of oak trees that stood proudly across the street from Kaiba's house. It was a delicious scent; however the coldness that bit her arms made her dearly wish that she had put on a sweater before leaving the apartment.
Adriana jumped and unleashed a startled gasp as her cell phone vibrated, indicating that there was an incoming call. She quickly dug through the contents of her purse and picked up the pulsing piece of metal.
"Hello?" Adriana chimed into the mouthpiece.
"I see you."
At that sentence, Adriana's heart stopped from the chilling familiarity of the voice on the other line.
"You have this place wired?" Adriana felt the hair rise on the back of her neck.
"I have connections that run deep in the corporate world. Every camera in this estate serves as my eyes and ears. They have poor security, even though they've got about two hundred cameras. I told you that my empire would have access to places like where you sit," the calm collected voice responded as Adriana's grip on the phone tightened.
"I never had any doubts that you would," Adriana said trying to sound nonchalant to mask the fear that was starting to make an appearance on her facial expression.
"You look afraid," there was disappointment in the man's voice as he said this, as though he was hoping for a more positive reaction.
"I'm fine," Adriana replied curtly hoping that those words dispelled any anxiety in her face.
"If you say so, Storm."
"I go by Adriana nowadays," she corrected sharply.
"Yes of course. I heard little Mokuba say it earlier," the voice chuckled warmly, and would've sounded attractive in another time and place.
"Why do you have connections here?"
"Why do you think?" the man's voice was casual, but there was a note of severity resounding in his voice.
"You're not-" Adriana stopped and swallowed hard.
"I have the place wired. You know I'll hear everything if you so much as breathe a word of warning. Get in the way, and I will not show mercy to you, despite our… old ties."
"You shot me. I don't have any more ties with you," Adriana laughed, both out of the stupidity of the man's statement and nervousness.
"I thought you had gotten over that-"
"You could not expect me to get over something so-" Adriana felt a shudder run through her body. She could not complete her sentence.
"I do. It's been years, sweetheart-"
"Don't call me that," Adriana's voice tickled the upper regions of a shout, "How did you get this number?"
"I told you, I have deep connections within the corporate world," the man's voice seemed to smile as he said this.
"Why did you call? Thought you'd check in?"
"You are the closest to our target."
"I won't help you," Adriana said with firm resolute.
"No. I won't," Adriana said as the video camera became acquainted with her middle finger.
"That was not nice. All I'm asking for is a little inside assistance, and believe me that little assistance will give you everything you'll ever want. College, a mansion, the ability to walk, the gift of sight… these are treasures that no one else in my position would ever offer you. But you and I go far back. And for that I'm willing to over look that little mishap you had and make this generous offer-"
"My answer will remain the same. I'm done with you," Adriana's voice hardened into steel, "You will not call this number again."
"No. You will not, or else I'll send your empire crashing down to the hell-" Adriana's voice ventured to a shout, but before it could develop into something more powerful, the man cut in.
"Dear, you can only make those kinds of threats if you hold all of the cards."
"You have a good hand then?" Adriana slowly pieced together the gravity of the situation.
"An excellent hand. So you chose not to help?" the man inquired.
"I believe that's what no means in this case."
"Ahh, how unfortunate that you still cling onto your stubbornness. I wonder how the older will react when the whelp gets a little surprise in his morning drink-"
"You will not lay a finger on Mokuba-" Adriana fired back, knowing that her threats were completely useless.
"What a short memory you have! I hold the cards, not you. I'm not touching the boy-"
"But your shadow sure as hell does."
"Ah, what a cliché reference-"
"Shut up. This conversation is over," screamed Adriana hysteria and anger flooding her senses.
"I wouldn't do that if I was-"
A loud click ended the call.
The battle to remain calm raged within Adriana, though panic had the upper hand. She understood that this job was going to be hard. She could deal with normal difficultness, but this...
The elevator doors chimed open as Kaiba stormed out of the elevator and walked straight into the wall with a loud growl. Mokuba flinched as Kaiba blindly tried to kick the wall, but missed it by a good two feet. Before anyone could say another word, Kaiba stomped into Mokuba's bedroom mistaking it for his own, and slammed the door.
Mokuba opened his mouth to call out to Kaiba, but closed his mouth. He thought Adriana was wise to give his brother alone time, and he would follow suit. Instead of going into the bedroom, he thundered down the stairs and decided to help Adriana map out the house.
But tears welled up in his eyes.
Mokuba stunned by his actions; he had been perfectly fine earlier. But now that he was alone, tears were running down his face, his control slipping away.
"Seto…" Mokuba choked back a sob as fiercely wiped away the tears and sniffed. He wanted to be useful now, and he couldn't afford to start crying yet. If he did, he wasn't sure when he would stop, and he couldn't leave Adriana outside.
Mokuba found Adriana exactly where he had left her, and led her to the side of the house where a cement walkway curled up to a back entrance near the patio. After she was inside, Mokuba showed Adriana around the house and helped her settle into her new bedroom. She learned the way of the house much faster than he anticipated, and within an hour, she was maneuvering her way around the house with confidence. Through the tour, he was surprised to find that she was a very receptive person, and he felt genuinely comfortable sharing his private feelings. When the tour was finished, led her into Kaiba's bedroom to talk, since his brother had not emerged from Mokuba's room.
"You and your brother seem to be very close," Adriana commented idly, hoping to keep her mind on them rather than her own concerns. She managed to hide any traces of the conversation from Mokuba and she hoped, at least for the time being, she could keep it that way.
"Yeah, we've been through a lot together. He's always been my hero even when I was little," Mokuba felt his throat tighten, and he struggled to keep talking. "I… I'm not sure what to do now though."
Mokuba opened the locket he wore so often around his neck. The school did not allow students to wear any jewelry aside from their school uniform, but he always managed to hide it under his jacket from his teacher's sight. Mokuba's lips twitched into a small smile as he stared at Kaiba's young boyish face. It was one of the only photographs Mokuba had of his brother showing a true smile.
How Mokuba wished he could hear his brother laugh like he used to, play with Mokuba, and even smile just like he did when they were kids.
Adriana leaned forward out of her chair to ruffle Mokuba's hair, "I know how difficult it must be. Responsibility seems to have been thrust onto you."
"I need to be strong for him," Mokuba let the tears fall, knowing that Adriana wouldn't be able to see them anyway, "I need to not worry him with my own problems anymore-"
"He wouldn't want you thinking that he's weak or that can't be the older brother he is just because he can't see," Adriana tried her best to comfort the boy. "You have a good relationship with him, so keep that in tact. The less change he has to deal with the better."
Mokuba's breath hitched, but he held back once again. Adriana kept quiet, feeling that he just needed to vent, "He hasn't been really happy since we were adopted. I've been trying so hard to make him happy, like when we were little. I was… close too. I don't know if I'll be able to get him happy like that now…"
Suddenly, Mokuba stopped himself, and just as Adriana was going to comment, Mokuba's fist clenched into a ball and he plunged into an entirely new train of thought.
"Big brother was always there for me; he never let me down. I think it's my turn to be there for him. I want to help him, see him smile again," Mokuba released a pent up sob, "Eventually. I'll be strong for him… I... I just gotta!"
Doing the best she could to consol Mokuba, Adriana placed her hand on his shoulder and squeezed it gently. The sobs rolled out of Mokuba's chest, threatening to overtake him. Adriana didn't remove her hand until his crying abated to quiet sniffling and easier breathing.
"You two are going to be just fine," Adriana said with a small laugh. "You're acting so grown up, and that's huge. I barely know you, and I'm all ready feeling a bit proud of you."
Mokuba felt a pink flush rise to his cheeks at the complements, "Thanks."
After a moment's silence, Mokuba felt the urge to drive the attention away from him. His eyes traveled across the simple white room, absorbing the mountains of electronics resting on his nightstand, a tell tale sign that though Kaiba was the owner of a multi-billion dollar company, his brother was first and foremost a teenager in high school. Gadgets like music players, Nintendo game sets, and expensive cameras were just some of the items within an arm's length away from the nightstand. In addition, a thick leather bound book rested on top of the alarm clock, facing downwards so the spine was starting at the sculpted ceiling.
"I haven't been in Seto's room in a while. I forgot he likes to read before going to bed," Mokuba remarked idly, reaching over to grab the book. "How's he going to read textbooks for school?"
"Well, he can hire someone to read him charts or things for work, or he can use an audio program and use voice command to write and read his reports," Adriana explained as though she had rehearsed the speech a thousand times before. "I will be teaching him how to read Braille—"
"He knows how, Gozoburo hired someone to teach him a lot of different languages, and he taught him how to read and write in Braille," Mokuba interrupted.
"Well that makes things a little easier," Adriana replied, the surprise apparent in her voice. "I know someone who can translate books from script to Braille in a matter of days. I can give him the number and she can translate any book he wants. She is expensive though."
"I don't think that's much of an issue," Mokuba answered as he opened up the book. His eyes widened slightly as he looked at the page and then he grinned." I found a photo album," Mokuba beamed fondly as he lifted the book and began looking through it.
"Any good pictures?" Adriana asked curiously.
Mokuba took in every single detail of the photos, suddenly feeling very privileged for the ability to see the pictures of him and his brother. The one on the open page was a picture taken from an instant develop camera, with Mokuba sticking his fingers in his mouth and sticking out his tongue. The next couple of shots seemed to happen a couple seconds afterwards; one of Mokuba's hand reaching out to grab the camera, the other one an impossibly close picture of Mokuba's furious gray eyeball. A laugh spilled forward out of his mouth, and Adriana basked in Mokuba's delight like a parched flower that had taken its very first gulp of water. She wondered what could make the boy laugh like that, and let her imagination take over.
"I didn't know he had something like this," Mokuba whispered with emotion. "It's got a lot of pictures of us as kids… some with mom and dad. He's going to miss this…"
"I bet," Adriana agreed, feeling suddenly out of place. She decided to let Mokuba look at the personal pictures privately. "I think I'm going to go to my room and read for a while. Come on in if you want to talk or anything."
"Ok, thanks a lot, you've been a great help already," Mokuba confessed awkwardly.
"No problem," Adriana backed up the wheelchair and barely managed to get through the door.
Adriana started pushing herself down the hall, aware of the sound of rubber scraping against the soft carpeting. Once Kaiba's hearing became more attuned, there would be no hiding her disability, however, there was still time before that would happen. She had never been inside such a richly furbished home before, and her mind couldn't even produce images of the possibility where she could be. Suddenly, her hearing seemed to wander and drift into the room to the right of her, where Kaiba was.
Adriana paused for a moment listening to the on goings in the room. Inside, Kaiba fingered the locket hanging around his neck with soft easy strokes. Her ears perked up at the sound of Kaiba gliding his pale fingers over the locket frame and the picture of Mokuba.
Adriana felt her heart melt as she listened intently to what Kaiba was doing in his bedroom, which wasn't much. Adriana could practically feel Kaiba's worry as his strokes on the locket became harsher and tenser. Kaiba was at least good at one thing, keeping his thoughts to himself. He did not utter a single word, making it impossible to understand what he was thinking. But his fingers caressing the frame had a pattern; a rhythmical beat, flowing like music that soothed Adriana.
Abruptly, the strokes stopped as he sucked in a sharp breath and searched around for a pillow. When he was unable to locate a pillow, Kaiba slammed his fist into the bed and let out a growl- no…
Adriana swallowed hard as Kaiba began punching the bed vigorously, almost as though he was trying to kill someone who had just hurt his brother. But that wasn't the only thing he was doing…
'He's… crying…' Adriana realized as the punches became more intense, and he let out another snarl, before choking on a sob.
Kaiba threw one last punch into the bed before falling into it and began crying into the sheets. Adriana's heart broke at the sound of Kaiba's weeping… it sounded a wounded deer, unable to make full fledged cries of agony, only silent whimpers, sharp intakes of breath, and despite his inability to make his pain audible, heavy tears were rolling down his cheeks.
And yet she didn't enter the room to offer comfort. She knew if she entered, he would just shove her off, push her away before she could say anything.
He couldn't stop the tears from trickling down his cheeks. He couldn't even remember the last time he cried this hard. Kaiba felt like something precious had been stolen away from him… something he had never taken the time to appreciate, or even care about. He just had sight; he never gave a single thought to what his life would be without it.
And here he was now, unable to see any light or beauty, his eyes shrouded in darkness. He really wished he could just blink a few times, and then he would magically be able to see his brother standing next to him, smiling that sweet smile Mokuba always saved specially for him.
The very thought of his brother made Kaiba's heart clench. He wondered how Mokuba was coping with his blindness. Would his little brother still look to him for strength? Or would pity shroud and prevent him from talking to Kaiba?
'But I can't let this get in my way…I can get my sight back. There has to be a way…"
Kaiba froze as his jaw dropped. How convenient… the very thing that could have helped Kaiba regain his sight, was in the hands of the very person he scorned and rejected. He let out a hollow laugh, out the sheer irony of the situation.
'But I don't need Mr. Andersen. I have Mokuba, there's nothing else I need. There has to be a way, Mokuba… I have to get my sight back for you; you can still depend on me. I promise,' Kaiba thought to himself as his grip on the locket tightened.
After a while, Kaiba's sobs had finally stopped, and Adriana retreated to her room for a couple hours before returning and giving a quiet tap on the door.
"Kaiba?" Adriana called through the door timidly, feeling rather reluctant to disrupt his train of thought. He seemed to have calmed down, at least it sounded like he wasn't crying anymore.
Kaiba seemed to snap out of his trance and flew his head wildly around the room, trying to pinpoint her position.
"Sorry for bothering you," Adriana said quickly opening the door a little bit. "I wanted to see how you were doing."
"I'm fine," Kaiba said shortly, straightening up in the bed. Adriana certainly wouldn't have believed that Kaiba had just been crying his eyes out a few short hours ago. "Why didn't Mokuba tell me I was in his room?"
"Well, he figured you probably wanted some alone time," Adriana shrugged as she wheeled closer to his bed. When he didn't offer up a reply, Adriana continued, "It's been a hard day, so I think I'll let you relax for tonight and we can start working together tomorrow—"
"No," Kaiba said unexpectedly. Adriana her eyebrows leap off of her forehead in surprise. "We start tonight."
"Well I wanted to talk to you about some of the software changes you may have to make so you can get back to work--"
"I can take care of that myself. I all ready have an idea of what I want to do," Kaiba interrupted. "I don't need your help."
Adriana seemed taken aback, but recovered quickly enough, "Well I have a couple of things that might be of some use to you."
"We can talk after we finish whatever lesson you want me to work on tomorrow," Kaiba answered tersely, starting to loose his patience. "I'm a very busy man, and I want to get this out of the way so you can leave. Be aware, if I'm not satisfied with your lessons then I'll figure it out on my own."
"Well, I swear I can match your high and mighty standards," Adriana said assertively as a familiar smirk crept over Kaiba's lips.
"Really now? You have quite a bark, but do you have the bite to go with it?" Kaiba questioned, raising an eyebrow.
"Yeah, if you're not satisfied with the first lesson-"
"You'll leave the premises immediately?" Kaiba said as Adriana stopped.
"I was going to suggest something more interesting but… why not? We can do that. Just give me some time to set up."