Surprise, surprise! The fic that is supposed to be on hiatus is getting updated. Oops! (shrugs) Oh well. Inspiration has been quite fickle and fleeting lately, and this was all that would agree to be written apart from a very pointless and moderately smutty short story that I've been working on in my LiveJournal. Hahaha, that'll probably get posted here eventually, too.
Anyway, yeah. I had a lot of trouble in the first place putting this story on the shelf because I really liked it a lot. The status hasn't changed, either-- I won't say there will be no more updates until further notice, but I also can't and won't promise that more chapters will be forthcoming any time soon.
I'm not sure how I feel about the way this chapter came out. Hopefully by the time I post it I'll be as happy with it as I was with the first installment.
Disclaimer: I don't own YuGiOh, and if I could write anything well enough at this point to make money from it I wouldn't be hanging around a fan fiction website.
Chapter 2: Encounter
xxx Anzu xxx
Beep. Beep. Beep.
ding! ding! ding!
Anzu Mazaki mentally cringed as she made her way down the hospital corridor. The noises, the smells, the sterile white walls and bland looking food...Anzu had never cared for hospitals. You might think that being such a compassionate and caring person would draw Anzu to places like these, but not only did the muted atmosphere of sickness make her uncomfortable, the whole aura of the place made her feel...helpless.
Blip... Blip... Blip... Blip...
The sounds in the hospital hallway were maddening. Only a trained professional could differentiate between all these beepings and buzzings; Anzu, on the other hand, could only try to ignore the incessant sounds and try to stop herself from wondering whether they signified swiftly improving health or quickly impending death.
Under the circumstances you would think she could wipe such morbid thoughts from her mind. She was at Domino Hospital to visit her aunt and the new baby-- a happy occasion, to be sure. But seeing her aunt with the tiny child and watching her uncle fuss over the both of them caused a nauseating tingle in the pit of Anzu's stomach.
After all, she would never have that kind of happiness, would she? The person she had hoped to pursue such things as a family and children with had chosen a different path.
Reaching the bottom of a set of stairs, Anzu tightened the blue scarf around her neck and tried to redirect her thoughts. So what if love just wasn't in the cards for her? That didn't mean she should begrudge other people their joy and contentment...
This line of thought brought Yugi to mind. Anzu and the smaller boy had shared some tears after Yami's departure, but after awhile it became clear that the two of them felt very different about his decision to leave. The smaller boy had seemed to recover quite quickly; perhaps he would always maintain a connection with his other half, and maybe he could always feel his presence somewhere in the wide world. Anzu didn't know. All she was sure of was that Yugi had cured his blues partly by being even more attentive to and involved with his friends and other people than ever before. Maybe he found it comforting, or maybe his bond with Yami had made him appreciate true friendship on a deeper level.
Anzu wasn't able to draw the same healing value from friendship as Yugi, however. Imagine that, Miss Friendship herself, distancing herself more and more often from those who cared about her because the feeling she got from being with her friends served to remind her of him. They all attended local schools and colleges, lived within walking distance of each other if they were willing to hoof it-- but Anzu seemed more and more likely to say no whenever one of the guys or Shizuka wanted to do something. She hated the concern in their faces when she refused yet another invitation.
In some ways Yugi always had been more understanding, more willing to forgive. Anzu was known to possess these qualities too, but she also had a temper. One thing nobody knew was just how bitterly she was capable of turning it against herself. There was a part of Anzu that simply couldn't accept that Yami's departure had nothing to do with her. Did this make her self-centered? Maybe. But mostly it meant that her heart wouldn't admit that there was nothing she could have done to make him stay, no help she could have given him. That part of her believed that he hadn't needed to leave her behind-- he must have wanted to. And it was all her own fault...
A strand of silky brown hair fell in front of Anzu's eyes. She was too lost in thought to bother pushing it away, hands shoved deep into her pockets as she meandered toward the hospital exit. She was so far away from reality that she didn't sense the commotion as she approached the waiting area for the emergency room.
The sensation of a camera bulb flashing nearby snapped her part way out of her reverie, but her real wake up call came in the form of a series of increasingly loud and angry yells. The voice delivering them was unmistakably familiar.
"...tell me where the hell you're taking my brother!"
Anzu froze as she took in the scene. Hospital security was holding back a slew of reporters as a stretcher was wheeled past, carrying a small figure. Shifting her attention to the area where the yells had originated, Anzu saw a doctor clad in surgical scrubs attempting to pacify an obviously agitated Seto Kaiba. She hadn't been face to face with the CEO in a long while, but she knew she had never seen him look so panicked. It was quite alarming to see him acting like this; Kaiba, who was always such an imposing figure, tall, strong, sure. Well, unless something happened involving--
Oh no... but then... the small person on the stretcher-- Mokuba?
xxx Seto xxx
Rage bubbled inside of Seto's chest upon seeing the first reporter sneak a peek around the corner at him. The man was trying to be stealthy, acting like he belonged here, but Seto Kaiba never forgot a face. He wasn't sure whether he was from a tabloid or one of Domino's more 'reputable' newspapers. All Seto knew was that any journalist who dared talk to him at this moment in time had better have a hard head-- particularly in the face area. You need that in order to survive being punched repeatedly.
Some flighty and panic stricken layer of Seto's brain, far beyond his slightly dazed deep blue eyes, felt the insane urge to laugh. With care it considered the irony of beating someone up at the emergency room. It sure would save on gas for the ambulance--
Seto managed to pull himself back from the brink in order to focus on the person who had just appeared in front of him. The man was clad in the classic surgeon's uniform of blue scrubs and a serious expression.
"I am Doctor Kurosawa."
No response was immediately forthcoming from Seto, who had noticed a cameraman staking out a pleasing angle over the doctor's shoulder. The doctor noticed Kaiba's glare, narrowing his own eyes and stepping over to the secretary's window. He seemed to be giving her quiet instructions. Thirty seconds later, four burly security guards arrived on the scene and started pushing back the crowd of intruding journalists.
"I do apologize, Mr. Kaiba. I'm afraid it's not within my authority to have them thrown out of the building."
Seto shrugged, focusing his attention on the doctor's face, trying to read the news he came to impart before he actually delivered it--
"Your brother is alive, Mr. Kaiba, but he has slipped into a coma."
Seto didn't know what to think upon hearing this. He'd been trying to brace himself for good news or for bad, but this didn't seem to be either. He wrinkled his eyebrows, frowning deeply. "A coma? And what is that supposed to mean? When will he wake up?"
The doctor sighed, looking suddenly exhausted as he dropped into a waiting room chair. "That's the thing about comas, Mr. Kaiba. There's no way of telling. His condition has stabilized, but it is impossible to tell when or if Mokuba will regain full awareness."
"Hold it right there. If?"
"Yes, Mr. Kaiba. If." The doctor's dark eyes looked steadily into Seto's. "There was a significant amount of bruising to your brother's brain. I won't be able to say any more until the swelling goes down."
Seto carefully touched his fingers to the bandage above his left eyebrow. How could this have happened? They were following correct safety procedures, they always did. Mokuba had just been sitting next to him playing with a prototype for a new handheld game when...
Shaking his head to rid himself of the memories, still so fresh, Seto rose from the seat he'd been occupying. "Where is Mokuba? I want to see him now."
"I'm afraid that won't be possible for another eight hours at least. Your brother has been badly injured, Mr. Kaiba. A broken arm, a shattered leg, four broken ribs, and a slew of internal injuries...we need to keep him under observation in a closed ward at least until morning--"
The doctor's words trailed off, partly due to the fact that Seto had grabbed him by the front of his scrubs. "I don't care what you need! Mokuba needs me. You had better take me to him right now!"
Seto's voice had risen steadily until he was almost shouting in Doctor Kurosawa's face. Fortunately for the slightly terrified surgeon, The enraged CEO's attention was diverted by the sound of a stretcher being wheeled out of the ER. "Please calm down, Mr. Kaiba. I assure you, we're doing everything necessary to guarantee--"
"Shut up! You don't know what you're talking about. My brother is in a coma, and it's probably all because of your incompetence!"
Kurosawa's face as white as a sheet. He dealt with irate family members every day, but Seto Kaiba was somehow more intimidating than the average grief stricken relative. It was rather disconcerting; Kurosawa was the best surgeon in the hospital at the tender (for a surgeon, anyway) age of 38. Still, the way Kaiba called him incompetent would almost make the doctor himself believe it was the truth. To make matters worse, the young man seemed to be losing his grip. "Mr Kaiba, please. We'll be happy to find you a bed to rest in and by the time you wake up--"
"A bed? There's nothing wrong with me, you idiot! Now tell me where the hell you're taking my brother!"
With dark blue eyes flashing and crackling, Seto pushed past the doctor and swept into the corridor just in time to see his brother's stretcher disappear behind a set of elevator doors. "Damn it!" Seto was more than angry. How dare they try to keep him from seeing his brother? Just as he was about to swing around and clock Doctor Kurosawa in the face, Seto felt a small hand touching his arm. He whirled around stiffly, surprised to find himself face to face with the last person he would have expected. He peered down into a set of sky blue eyes.
"Kaiba? Umm...is everything okay?"
xxx Anzu xxx
She jumped at the intensity in Kaiba's eyes as he turned his attention toward her. He looked about ready to kill. "Is everything okay? I'm at the emergency room, Mazaki. What the hell do you think?"
It was then that Anzu noticed the bandage on Kaiba's forehead, as well as his ripped clothes. His blue trenchcoat was torn in several places, with large swaths of fabric mysteriously missing. There were rips in his shirt and pants as well, and his shoes were rather muddy. Not that it really mattered, but she also observed that his hair was in a complete disarray. She had never seen Seto Kaiba look so...disheveled. "Geez Kaiba, what happened to you?"
The anger seemed to drain from Seto as he sank into the nearest chair. The reporters had begun to disperse, finally realizing that they'd seen and heard everything they were likely to for the time being. Doctor Kurosawa was speaking with one of the security guards. Anzu sat beside Kaiba, who was covering his face with his hands. After almost a full minute of silence, he dropped his arms to his sides and glanced at Anzu out of the corner of his eye. "Plane crash. On our way back from Okinawa. Mokuba...he's..."
"Oh, Kaiba..." Anzu tried to put a hand on Kaiba's arm, but he jerked away.
"Don't touch me, Mazaki. He's in a coma, not a coffin. And stop looking at me like you actually care."
Anzu rolled her eyes, resisting the urge to say something mean. Being spoken to like this by most people would have made the strong-headed girl bristle, but his reaction to her had been so...Kaiba. That was probably a good sign, right? "Will he be okay?"
Kaiba glared at her with eyes like frozen steel. "Why ask me when you can read about it in the paper tomorrow?"
Returning Kaiba's glare with a disapproving expression of her own, Anzu made a small 'tsk' type noise. "Come on, Kaiba. You know I'm not smart enough to read the newspaper."
"Ha. Ha. Funny joke, Mazaki."
"Are you okay, Kaiba?"
He snorted. "Oh, of course. I've just got a few scratches. In case you hadn't noticed, I'm not the one who just spent four hours in emergency surgery."
As if on cue, Doctor Kurosawa reappeared. "Mr. Kaiba? We've taken Mokuba up to the Intensive Care Unit. I've been informed that you will be allowed to see him, but only for ten minutes."
Anzu peered at the faces of the two men. They both looked completely drained. The doctor rubbed his temples. "If all goes well, he'll be eligible for visiting hours beginning tomorrow. Understand, Mr. Kaiba. We may have to keep him here for quite awhile."
Seto nodded slowly, as though too tired to continue the argument. He rose from his chair, beginning to follow the doctor out of the room. He seemed to have forgotten that Anzu was even there.
The two turned to regard her as she stood nervously in the waiting room, twisting her hands.
"What is it, Mazaki? I'm in a hurry."
Biting her lip, Anzu made a split second decision. Rummaging in her purse, she found a scrap of pink paper. Hastily she scribbled a message, stepping forward and pushing it into Kaiba's hand. "My cell number, Kaiba. In case you-- or Mokuba-- need anything..."
Kaiba scoffed. "The day I need help from you will be the day hell freezes over."
Anzu shook her head sadly. "Whatever you say, Kaiba. Just please remember, you can call me anytime."
"Hn." Kaiba stalked away, ignoring a quizzical glance from Doctor Kurosawa. Little did Kaiba know, the look didn't have as much to do with his treatment of Anzu as what he did with the paper she gave him. Kurosawa had watched him crumple it up...and shove it deep into his trenchcoat pocket.
Anzu's mind reeled as she walked out of the hospital. Mokuba in a coma...Kaiba cold and distant, but obviously distraught...
She had been growing apart from her friends, finding it more difficult to share her feelings and lend her support to them, but this was different. Mokuba didn't deserve to suffer because of something he couldn't control, and neither did his older brother. Anzu's heart stirred with sympathy and compassion for the Kaiba brothers, even though she knew Seto Kaiba himself would probably have a total meltdown if he realized she felt this way. He'd surely interpret her desire to help as pity, but Anzu really didn't think anyone should have to go through something like this all alone...
Hadn't that doctor said something about visiting hours? Maybe she would check back tomorrow.
Okay. That's all I've got for now. Hope the formatting up at the start of the chapter doesn't get all messed up when I post this. Anyway, a couple things to say...
FIrst, sorry I was so uncreative with my naming of the surgeon. I just watched 'The Seven Samurai' again the other day, and I guess I've got Akira Kurosawa on the brain. (shrugs)
Second, this story is a romance, but I have a feeling it'll be a pretty slow starter. There will, however, be physical aspects to the interaction between Seto and Anzu that are not strictly romantic at first. I'm not talking about anything dirty or scandalous (hahaha sorry to disappoint you). Keep reading and you'll see. It's going to be tricky to keep these guys in character, considering the content of this story. I'm going to try my best though, as I always do.
Last but not least, thanks to everyone that reviewed this when I first put it up! Your responses are part of what kept me thinking about this story. And to readers of The Night Before and Blindsided, don't worry. Those will be getting their updates sometime very soon: )