Author's note: Ahhh! I'm back with a new story! And this one is one of my faves. I kept wondering what Seto Kaiba's life was like BEFORE he was adopted...and I went even further to wonder what his PARENTS' lives were like before they were even married. Because I think too much into Kaiba's past, I've always believed his mother was of Hispanic origin, mainly because Mokuba looks Hispanic in my opinion. And we all know that that's who he looks like. This is purely my imagination on what might have happened. I cried at some parts...you probably will too. There is added humor and some slight foreshadowing for things to come. I decided to post the entire story all at once mainly because I couldn't find good places to start new chapters...so yeah.

Disclaimer: All things familiar to Yu-Gi-Oh belong to Kazuki Takahashi. I don't necessarily own Kaiba's parents' or their parents...but I did give them names and personalities never really presented to anyone. So in a way, I do own them and in another, I don't. That makes no sense. I have translations to the Spanish being spoken as well. Um...what else...I own this entire story, from beginning to end. No stealing...not sure why anyone would though...

Please read and review! Let me know what you think!


This Life...

It was a cool, brisk afternoon. The sun was just starting to reach higher in the sky, the leaves on the trees were beginning to fall, and the sound of car horns reached the ears of a young girl seated at the park bench with her schoolbag close by. She was a simple girl, wearing a uniform from the local high school. Her skin was darker than most, having an almost golden hint to it. Her hair was raven black that reached just below her shoulder blades and she had eyes that were a startling light blue.

She was staring down at her lap, clutching her hands. A small wind picked up, sending her black hair around her face. A soft voice suddenly broke through. "Nina, are you all right?" The bronze-skinned girl looked up into the kind face of a girl her age with auburn hair tied back into a bun on her head and warm chocolate brown eyes.

"Yes, Kaiya," the girl called Nina replied. "I'm fine."

"Those boys weren't bothering you earlier, were they?"

"No."

"You know you can always come to me if Seiji is acting up again. He's known to be quiet rude around here, especially with that friend of is, Yukio Jounouchi."

Nina smiled faintly. "Thank you for your concern, but I can handle myself, Kai."

"Well all right. Don't say I didn't warn you. They seem to make it a habit of picking on new comers." Kaiya gave her friend a reassuring smile and left. Nina watched her leave with a frown. She had just recently moved to Domino City, Japan with her family from the Dominican Republic. She was immediately shunned by her classmates in Domino High because of her abnormal skin color and different accent. And also simply because of her name: Nina Maria Gomez Vargas. It was a mouthful for teachers to say at times, so she preferred to just be called Nina Vargas.

She had met her friend Kaiya Kawai the first day of term. They got along fairly well. She was Nina's first real friend since before leaving her true home. And then there were the school bullies. Nina had never come across any bullies in her old school, simply because everyone in her neighborhood got along well with each other. But she had to remind herself that Japan was different than the Dominican Republic. She had had a run-in with the infamous Seiji Ryo and his friend Yukio Jounouchi on the first day of school.

Seiji was a handsome boy, roughly 5'9 and getting taller, with messy chestnut brown hair and teasing dark blue eyes. His skin was the same pale as everyone else's. His cockiness was what fascinated Nina. She had never met anyone as confident as him. And then there was his friend Yukio. He was a big guy with dusty blonde hair and amber colored eyes. He followed around wherever Seiji went and followed his orders. Not much of a friend, in Nina's opinion. More like a servant.

Finally, she decided it was time to head home to her family's apartment. Her parents hadn't yet figured out the cost of yen and were constantly arguing with each other now. Nina hated it. This move was ruining her family. She was an only child and therefore had no one to confide in. When she arrived home, her mother and father were seated at the dinner table, which was covered with dishes that had yet to be washed.

"¿Cómo estaba la escuela hoy?" her mother asked calmly. She was a plump young woman with black hair just like her daughter's that was shoulder length. She had the same dark skin and blue eyes as well. (How was school today?)

"It was all right," Nina replied setting her book bag on a chair.

"Those boys didn't bother you again, did they, hija?" her father said staring his daughter down. He was a tall young man with dark bronze skin, brown eyes, and long black hair tied back in a ponytail.

"No, papa, they didn't." She hated lying to her parents, especially because they meant so much to her, but she didn't want them to worry about her social life.

"Well, go to your room and do whatever homework you have," her father, Santiago, ordered. Nina nodded numbly as she grabbed her bag from the chair and walked from the kitchen to her room. He turned to his wife as he ran his hands over his face. "Ines, we have barely slept the past few days," he mumbled. "It's hard enough moving to a foreign country but also trying to raise a teenage daughter along with it. I just don't know how much more of this I can take."

"Don't say such things," Ines retorted, her voice quivering. "Nina's a big chica. She can take care of herself. We just need to find a job that will hire us and then we can settle down easier."

"It sounds easy, but really, what salesman is going to hire a middle-aged foreigner?"

"You can try, Santi."

Santiago sighed heavily. He wanted to get a job and be able to support his family, but it wasn't as easy as his wife made it out to be. He had gone to plenty of interviews since arriving in Japan. No one would hire him. He was about ready to give up hope. Maybe they had been better back in the Dominican Republic.


Nina was looking over her homework. She could barely concentrate. She thought back to what Kaiya had said earlier that day. About how she could always go to her if Seiji and Yukio ever bothered her again. Nina really appreciated it. She could remember her first encounter with the two boys vividly.

"Hey you! New girl!" Nina looked up from her seat in the back of the classroom, eyeing the boy in front of her cautiously. He was wearing the traditional blue Domino jacket and pants but had on a black undershirt. He had his hands in his pockets as he stared down at her with a cruel smirk on his lips. The smirk didn't suit him. He was very good looking with his pale skin and chestnut brown hair. And his eyes were of a deep ocean blue that Nina couldn't help but get lost in. "My name's Seiji Ryo," he said proudly, pounding his fist against his chest. "And this guy beside me is Yukio Jounouchi." Nina looked behind him to see a big, burly boy with dirty blonde hair and amber eyes. He was smirking at her as well. "We heard you're a foreigner."

"Yes, you heard right," she answered softly.

"So where you from? Must be someplace really sunny or something for you to have such dark skin."

Nina tensed up. "I'm from the Dominican Republic."

"So you're Hispanic?"

"Yes."

"What's your name?"

She hesitated a bit before replying. "Nina Maria Gomez Vargas."

"Whoa, which one's your first name?" Yukio cried stupidly.

"Obviously the one she said first, Yukio," Kaiya Kawai snapped walking over to the group. "Honestly, how you made it into third year I'll never know."

"Eh, laugh it up, Kai," the blonde spat back, though Nina could see a hint of a blush on his cheeks.

Nina turned her attention back to Seiji who had a thoughtful look on his face. "Vargas..." he mumbled. "I guess that's what I'll call you from now on. Vargas."

"Wouldn't it be easier to call her by her first name?" Kaiya snarled.

"I only call my friends by their first name, Kawai." He turned back to Nina. "Catch ya later, Vargas."

"Ugh, what at arrogant asshole," Kaiya hissed. Her expression turned soft when she looked back at Nina. "I'm sorry for how rude they were, Nina. I forgot to warn you about them earlier."

"No, it was all right."

"It most certainly wasn't! Seiji had no right to be so inconsiderate. You've done nothing to him."

"I expected people to act this way when I came here," Nina said quietly. "I'm different. It's the way it happens."

"But—"

"Kaiya, please don't bring the subject up anymore." The auburn haired girl closed her mouth and looked downcast. Her friend was hurting, maybe not on the outside, but on the inside.

Nina pursed her lips. Kaiya was a good friend, always showing how much she cared. The complete opposite of Yukio, who she could tell fancied the auburn-haired girl. And then Seiji. He was someone that she couldn't figure out. Besides being handsome and witty, he was also incredibly rude. At first she had been interested to learn more about him. But now, a new found dislike was growing in her heart. Nina was finding it easy to say that she disliked the brunette Japanese boy. She could be a smartass just like him if she wanted to. And if he tried one of his smart remarks on her tomorrow, he would get a shock.


"I don't understand you, Yukio," Seiji sighed as he lay on his bed in his house, his hands resting on his abdomen. "Kawai is such a bitch all the time, constantly telling us to grow up. How can you like her?"

The blonde boy sitting across from him shrugged. "She's the only girl that's ever stood up to us," he replied. "It's admirable."

"That's a big word for you, buddy." The two grinned and laughed. It was good to have someone to joke around with. Yukio and Seiji had grown up together and they planned to remain friends even after they graduated high school. But that wasn't what was bothering him. The new girl, Nina Vargas; she captivated him. She was so quiet and shy and it irked him. He hated girls that were quiet and didn't speak their mind. She rarely talked and when she did, she was never offended by anything he said. He hated that. He wanted her to fight back, and make things interesting.

"What you thinking about?" Yukio asked, breaking the silence.

Seiji shook his head to get out of his thoughts. "Nothing important," he answered.


The next day at school, Nina decided to eat lunch by herself outside by a sakura tree. She found the trees fascinating since back at home, such trees didn't grow. The air around her was getting cooler with each day. She was unused to this kind of weather. Her parents had told her when they moved that it always got colder in Japan around when school started. She could even see her breath now. Before she could get up and move, she spotted Seiji striding over to her with Yukio trailing behind. She narrowed her eyes.

"Hey Vargas," Seiji greeted with a grin as he plopped down beside her. "Kinda cold, isn't it?"

"It would seem so," she grit out.

"Hey, why you so tense?" He wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "Need a massage?"

She roughly brushed his arm off. "Not from you I don't," she spat, startling both boys.

"Whoa, easy there. Since when do you spring to the defense?" Seiji sneered.

"Since I've decided that I won't be your insult tester. I won't hide behind Kaiya anymore."

"Speaking up for yourself," he noted. "I'm glad you finally realized that you're in Japan now, not the Dominican Republic."

"Shut up, Seiji. I mean it. I don't want to do something I'm going to regret."

"Go ahead. Threaten me all you like. I'm interested to know what you're gonna do."

Her eyes narrowed further. "Don't tempt me."

"Or what? You'll call your friend over here?"

Nina had had enough. She stepped closer to him and roughly slapped his cheek. There was a deafening sound of the slap that echoed around. All eyes had turned to Nina and Seiji. The brunette's cheek was turning red both from the slap and the cold. Nina was breathing in heavily, staring at her hand in shock. She had never slapped anyone in her life.

"Miss Vargas!" she heard one of her teachers shout. She closed her eyes, preparing to be yelled at. "Why did you hit another student? This is by no means going to go unpunished."

"He...He was angering me, sir," she mumbled. "I didn't know how to react."

"Is this true, Mr. Ryo? Were you pestering her?"

"Only a little," he shrugged as he stood up, dusting himself off. He shot a glare in her direction. Nina's eyes widened in surprise.

"Miss Vargas, Mister Ryo, I'm afraid you both are going to have to serve a detention with me after school."

"Yes sir," Nina said with a bow.

However Seiji wasn't going to take that. "No way! I can't stay today! I've got plans!"

"Well then you should have thought about that before you decided to bother Miss Vargas. I shall expect to see you both after school in my classroom. Good day." He walked away, leaving a tense atmosphere.

"Good day my ass," Seiji cursed under his breath. "How am I supposed to have a good day now that I have to spend detention with the crazy bitch over there?" He pointed a shaky finger towards Nina.

"Don't start accusing me," she growled. "I was merely standing up for myself."

"Stop using such big words, it's getting annoying," he complained, running his fingers through his hair.

"I use such big words because I know your small brain won't understand them."

"Oh that's it. You've crossed the line this time, Vargas."

"Would you really hit a girl, Seiji?"

"That depends on the girl," he spat. "You are probably the worst mannered girl I've ever met!"

"And you're the worst boy I've ever met!"

"Nina!" Kaiya cried, rushing over to her friend. "What's gotten into you?"

Nina turned to face her. "I've learned that I'll need a backbone if I want to survive in this town."

"Smart choice," Seiji sneered. "Too bad your backbone's not as strong as mine."

"Quite the bragger, aren't you?" Nina hissed at him. "You won't be bragging when we're in detention later."

She could see his face pale slightly. "Y-You're a witch," he stuttered. "You're just not normal!" He turned and ran away with Yukio running after him. Nina smiled to herself, proud that she had finally bested him. It was only the beginning of their war and the first shots had already been fired.


"Mister Ryo, please move your seat closer to Miss Vargas," the teacher instructed. He was glaring over his desk at the brunette boy that was seated near the window, about five seats away from Nina. He was pouting with his arms crossed over his chest.

"I'm not moving near that...thing!" he growled. "She might cast a spell on me!"

"I'm not a witch," Nina retorted.

He stuck his tongue out at her. "Stop being so immature," the teacher snapped. "I brought you both in here to learn from your mistakes, not to cause more."

"He started it," Nina said calmly.

"She slapped me," Seiji added.

"You both are hopeless."

The detention lasted for hours, at least, it seemed that way to Nina and Seiji. They hadn't talked and had avoided each other's glances. The teacher was exhausted and couldn't have been happier when the detention was over. The two gathered their belongings and headed out the door.

"You keep away from me," Seiji warned as he and Nina walked out of the school together. He was keeping his distance from her.

"The same goes for you," she spat angrily. They turned down a street avoiding eye contact. Nina saw her apartment coming up and quickly rushed to make it to the front door.

"You live here?" she heard Seiji gasp from behind her.

Turning to face him, she noticed that his eyes were wide in shock. "Well when you're a foreigner, you don't necessarily get a mansion," she answered haughtily.

"I know that, but...how do you manage to live here?"

Nina shrugged. "My parents and I understand that we're starting a new life in a new country and that things might take awhile to get back to normal."

"You have more courage than I could ever have," Seiji muttered. "If I lived here...I'd go nuts."

"That's where you and I are different," she smiled. "Despite my disgust, I accept that this will be my home for a long time."

"Well um...I'll see you tomorrow, Vargas."

"Yeah." She nodded to him and turned the handle on the door. She saw him walking farther down the road and sighed heavily.

"¿Quién era ése, hija?" Nina heard her father grumble from behind her. (Who was that, daughter?)

"Nadie," she replied quickly. (No one.)

"¿Nadie?"

"Sí."

Santiago raised his eyebrows. "¿Por qué era usted tan atrasado?" (Why were you so late?)

She took a deep breath. "Tenía detención." (I had detention.)

"Detention!" he bellowed. "Nina Maria Gomez Vargas! What on earth did you do to get detention?"

"I...hit a boy in my class." At the look her father gave her, Nina added, "He had been insulting me, Papa. I didn't know how else to react."

Santiago pressed his index finger and thumb against the bridge of his nose. "How many times have your mother and I told you we're trying to blend in here...not cause problems?"

"Lo siento, papa." (I'm sorry, father.)

"Don't mention this to your mother. The last thing I want is for her to worry."

"I understand. I'll be in my room."

He nodded and watched his daughter walk through the small apartment to her room and muttered, "¿Cuáles son yo que va a hacer con esa muchacha?" (What am I going to do with that girl?)


When Seiji made it home, he was immediately confronted by his parents about why he had been so late. He told them he had gotten a detention but he never said why. He plopped himself down onto his bed and stared at the ceiling for awhile. Vargas really was an amazing person. Nothing brought her down, not even when he insulted her. She had a lot more spunk than he gave her credit for.

Why the hell do I keep thinking about her? he thought. What is there to like about her?

He knew the answer to that question. She was beautiful. She looked much different than the other girls in school and because of that, he found her attractive. But she was also smart. A lot smarter than him. A smile came to Seiji's lips. Maybe I can convince her...to be my friend. It wouldn't hurt.


The next day at school during lunch, Nina was sitting on the grass under another sakura tree. Just as she was unpacking her lunch, she caught sight of Seiji running towards her. She groaned inwardly. What did he want now?

"Hey Vargas!" he called. He ran up to her. "Can I sit here?"

"Um...all right," she answered. She was still suspicious of him.

"Look...I'm sorry. I've been an ass to you."

"Well um..."

"Don't say anything yet. I know I probably shouldn't even try, but I don't want us hating each other forever. Would you wanna be friends?"

Nina was speechless. Just yesterday he had been insulting her and now he wanted to be friends? "Are you joking?" she asked finally.

"No," he replied. "I really wanna be friends."

"You're sure?"

"Absolutely."

She thought a moment. "All right then. But I'm warning you, if this is a joke of some sort, I will hurt you."

Seiji smiled. "You don't have to worry about that...Nina. I wanna start fresh." He extended his hand for her to shake. Nina smiled in return and shook his hand.

Their friendship was an odd one. Their friends were stunned to see them getting along. Kaiya and Yukio seemed suspicious but otherwise said nothing to Nina or Seiji. Soon, it was becoming obvious that something was going on between them. Whenever Seiji talked, Nina would blush but then try hiding it. Seiji would stutter with his words if Nina were looking at him. Yep, something was up with them, and Kaiya and Yukio were going to find out what.


"Nina, we need to talk," Kaiya said after school one day. The other girl blinked and nodded, casting a longing glance at Seiji as he walked out of the classroom with Yukio. Kaiya crossed her arms over her chest. "What's going on with you and Seiji?" she growled.

"What do you mean?" Nina wondered.

"You know what I mean. You and him."

"We're just friends."

"Friends don't blush whenever they're near each other."

Nina blinked and swallowed hard. "Kaiya, really, there's nothing going on between us."

"Well, I hope you forgive me for not believing you." Kaiya's expression softened. "Nina, you're my friend...and I want you to tell me what's on your mind. You don't have to keep secrets from me."

"There's no secret..."

"Nina."

The dark haired girl looked up, her bottom lip trembling. "I think I...I don't know." She lowered her gaze to the ground. "I can't describe what I feel."

"You love him."

The statement was bold for Kaiya to say aloud. So much so that Nina's eyes nearly popped out of her head. "I wouldn't say it like that," she mumbled.

"But you feel something for him."

"Yes..."

"Nina...there's nothing wrong with that," Kaiya smiled, placing a hand on her friend's shoulder. "Just tell him."

"But what if he doesn't—"

"Girl, he's Seiji. He will."

Nina smiled back at her and hugged her. "Gracias, Kaiya, thank you."

"I think you're the only person that can say thank you in two different languages in one sentence." Both girls laughed. "I have a strong feeling Seiji is standing outside the school with Yukio," Kaiya said seriously. "Go talk to him."

Nina nodded, gathering up her courage. Sure enough, she saw Seiji standing with Yukio outside by a large tree. Upon seeing her, the two boys stopped talking and waited for her to get closer. "Hey Nina," Seiji greeted with a wink that made her blush.

"Hi," she answered shyly. "Um, Seiji, can we talk?"

"Sure." Yukio remained where he was, frowning down at her. Seiji noticed and sighed. "Dude, give it a rest. You're gonna scare her." He grabbed Nina's hand and pulled her away from his friend. "So, what's up?"

"I...uh...wanted to tell you something."

"Yeah?"

"Um..." His blue eyes stared intently at her. "Seiji, we're friends, right?"

"I like to think so," he mused. "What of it?"

"And what I'm about to say won't ruin our friendship, right?"

"Well, I don't know what you're going to say, but I doubt it would do anything to our friendship."

"Okay." She took a deep breath. "Ireallylikeyou."

He blinked. "Sorry? Didn't catch that."

"I...really like you."

"Oh." There was a long silence, which Nina dreaded with every passing second. "Well all right then." She stared at him with wide eyes.

"W-What?"

"You heard. So you've been keeping these feelings all this time?" She nodded solemnly. "I see. Then there's only one thing left for me to do." He suddenly placed both his hands on either side of her face, pulled her closer, and whispered, "You see, I like you too, Nina." He smiled and brushed his lips against hers. Nina felt her heart sore as she wrapped her arms around his neck. It was the beginning of an interesting future.


Meeting their parents was a chore in itself. Seiji's family was wealthy...extremely wealthy. And from the stories his parents heard of Nina Vargas, they pictured her to be a beautiful Japanese girl of rich heritage...not a plain Dominican Republican girl who lived in a run down apartment building. Fujita and Masako Ryo were deeply disappointed when they met Nina after 2 months of her and Seiji dating.

It had taken them a long time to eventually accept her for who she was. The thing that really made his parents like her, was the fact that she was very polite. Next, Seiji was to meet Nina's parents. Who, like his, were surprised at who their daughter had decided to date. Ines adored Seiji once she got to know him. In fact, she had proclaimed in Spanish how she couldn't wait for him to join the family. Nina had had to translate for him.

Santiago on the other hand had been more or less happy. He wasn't very trusting and couldn't tell if Seiji was just leading his daughter on. When Seiji assured him that he would never hurt Nina, Santiago had laughed proudly and hugged him like a son. And so their relationship continued after high school. Kaiya and Yukio had started dating in their final year, letting the four friends become closer.

When they were all 28, Yukio and Kaiya got married. In January, nine months after their wedding, they gave birth to a little boy, Katsuya. Nina and Seiji were pronounced his godparents. They had been engaged for a year and planned to wed in late February.

On the day they got married, Nina and Seiji pledged their love to one another in front of friends and family. When they came back from their honeymoon, they realized that Nina was pregnant. Seiji was overjoyed. "I hope it's a boy!" he kept saying.

Nine months passed, and Nina did in fact give birth to a healthy baby boy that they named Seto. "He's so beautiful," Nina had whispered, cradling him close.


3 years later...

October 11, 1991

"Seto, c'mere! We gotta go in a few minutes!" Seiji called through the house. Pounding footsteps were heard on the stairs and a small boy with chestnut brown hair and blue eyes came bolting into his arms. "Mom's waiting in the car. Now, you have to be gentle when you play with Katsuya today, okay? You two played a little too rough last time."

"But Daddy, I didn't mean to," Seto pouted as his father fastened him into the car seat.

"I know, son."

"How's my Setito (little Seto)?" Nina cooed from the front seat. She smiled warmly at Seto. He gave her a big grin in return.

"I'm all set, Mamá!"

"That's a good boy."

The drive to the Jounouchi house was silent, but the silence was immediately drowned out when Seto spotted a dog being walked along the sidewalk outside. He started pointing and calling out, "Look! Mamá! Daddy! It's a dog!"

"Yes, it sure is," Seiji mused as he drove.

"Katsuya reminds me of a dog."

"Seto!" Nina said in shock, but Seiji laughed.

"Honey, you have to admit, he is kinda like a puppy."

"He's our godson, Seiji! Aye dios mio..."

They pulled into the driveway and hurried out. Kaiya ran to greet them, waddling because she was pregnant with her second child. "Good to see you again," she said. "Hello, Seto. My, you've grown quite a bit."

"Takes after his father," Seiji stated proudly while puffing out his chest.

"Well then let's hope he doesn't get a big head like yours," Yukio joked from the doorway, carrying his 4 year old son. "Katsuya, why don't you and Seto go play?"

"Kay, Dad!" The blonde boy jumped from his father's arms and made his way over to his best friend. "Seto, wanna play on the new computer my parents bought?"

"What's a computer?" the brunette asked.

"I'll show you!" He dragged Seto into the house, leaving the four adults to catch up on old times.

"Katsuya's grown," Nina commented.

"Yeah, he has," Yukio agreed. "He'll be great when he's older. Mark my words."

"Great at what?" Seiji asked.

"Whatever he wants to do. He's got his own mind."

"And we've got another little one on the way," Kaiya added, patting her stomach.

"How far along are you?" Nina wondered.

"I've only got a few more months left."

They talked for several more hours. When it was time to go, Seto and Katsuya hugged and blew raspberries at each other. On the way back to their house, Seto piped up from the back, "Mom, Dad...could I get a computer for my birthday?"


When Seto turned 4, his parents had bought him a computer. He loved it. He showed them all the games he could play on it. If Seto noticed anything wrong with his parents, he didn't say anything. Seiji and Nina had spent very little time with him until finally, five days after his birthday, they took him aside. "Seto, we have some very exciting news," Seiji said with a big smile.

"What?"

"Mommy's pregnant."

Seto blinked a few times. "What's pregnant mean?"

"It means, that I'm going to have a baby," Nina told him. "You're going to have a little brother or sister, Seto."

"Really?" he asked excitedly. "I can't wait! When is it coming?"

"Not for 9 months," she chuckled.

"I can't wait to tell Katsuya!"

"Yes, I'm sure he'll be happy." Nothing made Nina and Seiji happier than to see their first born so excited about the news of having a sibling. That same night, before Seto was tucked in for bed, his parents sat by him and watched him slowly fall asleep. "Duermes ahora, mi Setito," Nina whispered, brushing her son's bangs from his eyes. (Sleep now, my little Seto.)

"Te quiero, Mamá," Seto replied with a smile. (I love you, Mamá.)

"I love you too, Setito."

"Jeez, he knows more Spanish than I do, and I've been married to you for how many years now?" Seiji joked.

"Very funny," Nina said with a laugh. She bent down to place a kiss on Seto's forehead. "You and I can start going through names tomorrow. How's that sound, Setito?"

A large grin surfaced on his face. "YEAH!" he cheered. "That'll be fun!"

"Well you made him happy," Seiji mumbled. "Let's just hope he gets to sleep tonight." He sat down on the edge of the bed and enveloped his son in a hug. "I got you!" he laughed.

"Dad!" Seto cried happily.

"You two," Nina sighed. "C'mon, it's time for bed. Seiji, stop tickling him."

"I'm not!"

"Yes he is!"

"Seiji..."

"What? Nina, look at my hands. They're completely away from him."

"Dad, you said lying was bad."

"I'm not lying, Seto."

"Seiji..."

"Dad, Mamá looks mad."

"You're imagining things."

"SEIJI!" Nina growled. Seiji stopped in mid-tickle on Seto and smiled sheepishly.

"It's my job as a dad to tickle him," he confessed.

"And it's my job as a mother to let him go to sleep."

"Point taken." He ruffled Seto's hair and stood up. "Shall I await you in the bedroom, dear?"

Nina narrowed her eyes and smirked. "You won't have to wait for anything. You'll be sleeping on the couch tonight, dear."

Seiji sighed heavily. "Mommy's not very happy with me right now, Seto," he said. "But don't worry. I'll get her to loosen up."

Seto grinned and sat up in bed. "Dream on, Dad. You crashed and burned."

"You're not staying up to watch anymore movies with me from now on if all you're gonna do is quote them and use them against me."

"On second thought, go get her, Dad."

"Don't be smart with me, Seto Ryo." Seiji smiled as he closed the door to his son's room. Sleeping on the couch wouldn't be all that bad. Nina had been angry at him before and it barely lasted a day. All he could think about was the new addition that would be coming to the family.


8 months into the pregnancy...

July 7, 1992

"I like this one!" Seto said as he pointed to a name on his mother's list of baby names.

"Genoveva?" Nina read aloud. "Hmm..."

"Genoveva Ryo?" Seiji tested it. "Nah, doesn't sound right."

"Awww, but Dad, you've turned down all my suggestions," Seto pouted.

"That's because all your suggested names were things like Fabio, and Maximiliano...and other stuff I can't pronounce. I don't wanna have to say to this kid, 'Hey, you!' if I can't pronounce their name."

Nina started laughing. "I thought we made an agreement to at least try to find a Hispanic name."

"We did...but isn't Seto a Spanish name anyway?"

"You know it's not. C'mon Seiji, pick a name?"

"Fine...I pick that one." He pointed to a name in the N category, which said "Nieves". Nina looked it over and sighed.

"Yes Seiji, we're going to name our child 'You Snow'," she growled sarcastically. "Look at the meanings and pick a name that shouts out to you."

"I dunno, Nina. Let's look at some Japanese names, okay?"

She frowned. "Fine, fine. I was partial to the name Mokuba when I saw it."

"Mokuba?" Seiji repeated. "Hmm...I like it. And what about for a girl?"

"I like this name if it's a girl: Zoraida."

"Both are good choices. What do you think, Seto?"

"I still think Fabio was a good name," he pouted.

Seiji laughed. "You would, wouldn't you? The Jounouchis are coming over soon, Seto. Why don't you go clean your room so that way you and Katsuya don't have to climb through your mess when he gets here."

"Okay." The brunette crawled off his mother's lap and trudged into his room.

"I'm excited, Seiji," Nina suddenly said. "Seto is too."

"Yeah," he nodded. "It's only a few months away. Look how big you've gotten."

"Thanks, Seiji. As if I don't feel like a walking blimp without your help."

"Just sayin'. Hey, how's your dad been? He suffered that minor stroke a few years back, but is he doing better now?"

Nina was silent for a bit. "My mother says he hasn't fully recovered yet. His left side is numb and the doctors are afraid he'll be paralyzed. I didn't want to mention anything to Seto because he loves my father so much."

"Nina..."

"No, Seiji. I'm fine." She smiled slightly. The doorbell suddenly rang. "Kaiya and Yukio are here. Let's go greet them."

Seiji knew she was in pain. Nina loved her father very much and it had devastated her to hear about his stroke. Seto had only been 2 at the time and hadn't known what had transpired. Santiago had been in a hospital since then and from what Nina had just told him, he wouldn't be getting better anytime soon. Putting on a smile, he went out to greet his friends.

"Shizuka's grown so much!" Nina was telling Kaiya, who was holding her year old daughter. "And so has Katsuya."

"We feed 'em well," Yuki joked. "Hey Seiji, how's Nina's pregnancy coming along? Everything all right?"

Seiji brought his gaze away from his wife to look at his best friend. "Huh? Oh yeah, she's doing fine. Seto's really excited."

"Katsuya was the same way when Shizuka was born. Makes me proud to be his dad."

Seiji smiled faintly. Suddenly, the phone rang and Nina carefully stood up to answer it. "Hello? Ryo residence."

"Hija, él es muerto," a shaky voice answered. (Daughter, he's dead.)

"Q-Qué?" Nina gasped. "Mamá, es que tú?" (W-What? Mama, is that you?)

"¡Nina, Papa es muerto!" (Nina, Papa is dead!)

"Mamá, qué sucedío?" (Mama, what happened?)

"Él tenía un ataque del corazón." (He had a heart attack).

Nina felt her body go numb. Her entire mind had gone blank. By now, everyone in the room was staring at her. "Nina?" Seiji said. "Are you okay?"

"Mi papa es muerto..." she whispered, holding herself up steadily. Her knees had gone weak.

"What?"

"She said grandpa's dead," Seto piped up, looking at his mother with concern. "Mamá, it's not true, is it?"

Nina forced a smile to her face as tears sprung from her eyes. "I'm afraid so, Setito."

"Nina, are you going to be all right?" Seiji asked urgently. "You look pale."

"I-I'm fine, Seiji. I'm just in shock."

"You have to be calm. Remember what the doctor said. You could damage the baby if you get too anxious."

Nina nodded, trying to control herself. She hung up the phone without telling her mother goodbye. "Nina, maybe you should lay down," Kaiya offered.

"No...I'm fine," she answered. Just as she was sitting down, she felt something inside give a sharp jolt. "Oh no..." she mumbled.

"What?" Seiji demanded. "What's wrong?"

"I think my water just broke..."

"But it's not even time!"

"I know, Seiji...oh god...it hurts so much."

"Call the hospital!" Kaiya shouted to her husband. Yuki nodded and grabbed the phone. "Let's get her into the car. Seto, Katsuya, let's go!"

"What's going on, Mom?" Katsuya asked curiously.

"Nina's having her baby, honey," she replied quickly.

Seto stopped in his tracks and stared wide-eyed at his godmother. "My mom's having the baby now? But it hasn't been 9 months yet!"

"I know, Seto. That's why we're gonna get her to the hospital to see what happened." Kaiya ushered the two boys into the car and buckled Shizuka into a car seat. Yukio and Seiji were helping Nina into the family van. "I want you boys to remain calm," Kaiya said sternly. "Seto, your mother is in serious pain right now, but I don't want you to panic. Everything will be all right."

On the outside, all he could do was nod his head. But somewhere, deep down, Seto knew something bad was going to happen.


"Get her into the delivery room immediately!" Doctors and nurses were running and shouting, giving orders for people to prepare the delivery room for Nina. Nina's breathing had become labored. Seiji was holding her hand as they rushed her to the room.

"Stay calm, honey," he kept saying. "You're going to be fine."

"I-I never got to see him again," she muttered.

"Don't worry about that right now."

"I love you, Seiji."

"Nina, I love you too. But don't give up on me. You have a life to bring into this world."

Seto had been told to wait with the Jounouchis outside. His legs were bouncing in his nervousness. His mother had looked so pale. Kaiya and Yukio both looked extremely worried. Seto's heart was racing. He kept praying for his mother to be all right.

"Nina! Sir, we're losing her!" one of the nurses cried.

"Keep those machines on at all times," the doctor ordered once Nina was in the delivery room. Nina's breathing had slowed down, and as every contraction hit, she lost more energy. "Nina, you need to calm yourself. I can see the baby, but I need you to push, all right?"

Nina nodded as best she could. Seiji was holding her hand as she pushed. Every push drained her. She was sure this was the end. She looked over at Seiji and she smiled. He had given her a wonderful life...and a beautiful son. She pushed one final time until the crying of a baby could be heard.

"Nina, look!" Seiji said excitedly. His wife laid her head back and smiled faintly. "Nina? Doctor!"

"She's lost a lot of blood!"

"We're losing her!"

"NINA!"

An hour later, Seiji left the delivery room, red-faced from crying. Nina was gone...just like that. The love of his life was gone forever. His heart felt heavy. He didn't want to tell Seto what had happened. It would devastate him. But he couldn't lie. He could see his friends and son waiting in the lobby. Kaiya and Yukio ran up to him. He shook his head solemnly. "She's gone," he whispered, as though not wanting to believe it. His lower lip trembled.

Kaiya instantly broke down and cried on her husband's shoulder. Yukio had gone pale. "And the baby?" he said.

"It's been put on a respirator. I didn't even get a chance to see if it was a boy or girl."

"Seiji, I am so sorry."

"Yeah...me too," he mumbled sadly. Taking a deep breath, he walked up to Seto.

"Dad!" Seto cried happily. "Is it over?"

"Yes, Seto, it's over," he began, making sure his voice didn't falter.

"Where's the baby?"

"It uh...it had to be put on a respirator."

"Why?"

"Well, sometimes when a baby is born, Seto, it has trouble breathing. The respirator helps it start to use its lungs properly."

"Oh. And how's mommy?"

Seiji stiffened. "She's...she's..." He couldn't do it. He suddenly embraced his son tightly and held him against his chest. "She's gone, Seto," he sobbed.

Seto stared at his weeping father in shock and horror. "Like grandpa?" he softly mumbled.

Seiji nodded and felt more tears slid down his cheeks when Seto started to hug him back. Both were crying for the loss of someone they deeply loved. Seto closed his eyes and imagined his mother with a big smile on her face, greeting him like always. "Um, Mr. Ryo?" a nurse suddenly said nervously. "You can go see your newborn now."

Seiji wiped at his eyes and picked up his son in his arms. "Thank you," he nodded. They stopped at a large window where many babies were being held. "Which one is mine?"

"The one on the far right in between the two girls."

"It was a boy after all," Seiji whispered to himself.

"Have you thought of a name for him, sir?"

"Yeah. Mokuba. His name is gonna be Mokuba Ryo."

"Thank you, sir."

"That's your brother, Seto," Seiji said, pointing to the baby bundled in blue.

"He's so small," Seto murmured.

"Yep. Hey nurse, are we able to take him home now?"

"As soon as I fill out all his information."

"Thanks."

Seto stared through the glass at his baby brother. "I'll be a good big brother, Dad. I won't let anything happen to Mokuba."

Seiji smiled. "I'm proud of you, son. Your...mother would be too."


It was oddly foreboding. The sky was dark with clouds ready to sprout rain. A crowd in black was gathered around two coffins in a cemetery. Seiji was holding Mokuba against his chest. Seto was by his side, watching emotionlessly as they lowered his mother's coffin into its grave. His grandfather was next. Seto glanced over and saw his grandmother, Ines, wiping at her eyes. He gently slipped his hand into hers and held it tightly for comfort.

"Santiago," she whispered. "Hija..."

"Abuela," Seto mumbled. "No grita." (Grandma, don't cry.)

"I know, Setito. You are much stronger than I am."

Seiji smiled down at his son and squeezed his shoulder. "He told he has to be strong...Nina would want him to be strong." He felt tears start building up again, but he refused to let them fall. It would hurt Nina to see him crying like this. I'll always love you, Nina, he said in his mind.

Seiji saw Kaiya and Yukio in the back, holding their children. After Nina's death, Kaiya and Yukio hadn't come to visit that often. Katsuya and Seto hadn't spoken since Mokuba's birth. Seiji felt somewhat angry because of this. His friends shouldn't stop coming around because he had lost his wife. He had even heard a rumor that Kaiya and Yukio were planning to divorce.

Once the service was over, he told his mother-in-law to watch his two boys. Seiji strode over to Kaiya and Yukio just as they were turning to leave. "It would have been nice if you talked to me at least once today," he snarled.

Yukio stared at his feet, unable to look his friend in the face. Kaiya stared teary-eyed into Seiji's glaring blue orbs. "We figured you didn't want us around...after Nina..." she started.

"Why would you think I wouldn't need my best friends in my most crucial time of need?"

"We wanted to give you some time alone," Yukio snapped. "I'm sorry if you think everything revolves around you, but it doesn't. We have lives as well."

That had been the wrong thing to say, and Yukio knew it. Kaiya gasped and led her children away. "You have lives as well, huh?" Seiji repeated coldly. "From what I hear, you'll have separate lives pretty soon."

"Don't you bring that up."

"What's the matter, Yukio? Trying to deny the fact that your wife is leaving you?"

"Shut up. You don't know what we're going through."

"Really? I've just lost the only person in this world that I loved and you say I don't know what you're going through? Think about that for second, Yukio. Your wife is just leaving you...mine is gone forever...I will never see her again. Why don't you try thinking before you say things, Yukio? It's a great skill." With that, Seiji turned around and walked away, feeling angry and regretful for just breaking his friendship with his only friends.


5 years later

January 6, 1997

Even years after her death, Seiji could not forget her. Two years after Santiago and Nina's deaths, Ines passed away from a broken heart. Seto had spent the night with his father, crying over all the memories of his mother's parents. Mokuba had still been very young. The year before, Seiji's mother had been diagnosed with cancer and had died shortly after. His father, unable to handle the pain, had literally gone crazy. He had been sent to a hospital for special cases.

It seemed everything in Seiji Ryo's life had gone downhill very fast. From losing his father-in-law, so many important people in his life had left him. He couldn't even see his own father anymore. He had raised both Seto and Mokuba on his own ever since his mother-in-law had passed away.

Tonight was a special night. He was taking the two boys out to dinner at a restaurant that he and Nina had gone to on their very first date. He swallowed hard, looking at a picture taken of Nina in 1977. He remembered that day so clearly.

"Just stand still!" he growled. "It's gonna come out weird if you keep laughing."

"I'm sorry, but you're making me laugh," Nina replied.

"Hold it in. Okay, one...two...three..." He snapped a picture and waited as it came out. "That came out good."

"I look so weird," Nina muttered.

He smirked. "I still love you."

Seiji ran his fingers along the edges of the picture frame. He shook his head of past memories and made his way to his sons' room. "You boys ready?" he asked. Seto and Mokuba were both zipping their winter coats and pulling on their hats. "Let's get in the car."

"Dad, can I sit in the front seat?" Seto mumbled.

"You know you can't, Seto. You're not tall enough. If something were to happen, you could get hurt." Seto pouted but nodded and climbed in next to his younger brother. "You guys buckled up?" Seiji said from the driver's seat. At the thumbs up he received from Mokuba, he pulled out of the garage. "You guys are gonna love this restaurant. It has some really great Spanish food."

"I don't want any Spanish food," Seto growled suddenly.

Seiji seemed shocked at his son's attitude. "But Seto...it's your favorite."

"I don't want food that Mom, Grandma, and Grandpa ate."

Having nothing to say, Seiji stopped the discussion and drove in silence. "Look at all the lights!" Mokuba whispered excitedly, pointing to the dozens of cars on the highway.

"It's just a bunch of cars," Seto snapped.

"Seto, I'm getting very annoyed by this attitude of yours," Seiji said sternly. "I know you're upset. But you must not take it out on me or Mokuba."

"Why don't you let me see Katsuya anymore?" he suddenly blurted out. "He was my best friend!"

"Is that what this is all about?" He was silent. Seiji sighed. "Seto, I got into an argument with Katsuya's parents...we haven't spoken since then. I know you and him were friends."

"So then make up with his parents!"

"It's not that easy."

There was a pregnant pause. "I hate you," Seto hissed.

Seiji's hands gripped the steering wheel tightly. His body tensed up. He had been afraid Seto would say something like that to him at some point. After all, he had broken ties with his best friend's parents. He just hadn't been prepared for his son to say those words now. At the age of 10, Seto knew what they meant. He was an extremely smart boy. Just like his mother. Seiji smiled wryly as he fought back tears. It hurts when your own son tells you he hates you, he thought.

"Seto, that was mean," Mokuba whispered.

"I don't care," he spat.

"Seto," Seiji began, "I know you're angry at me. But it's not just because of Katsuya, is it? It's something else."

His son glared at him. "You let Mom die."

Seiji's eyes widened. "No, I didn't, Seto. There was nothing I could have done to save her. She had lost so much blood." Seto was quiet. "Believe me, I would have done anything to save your mother. I loved her, Seto. So very much."

Suddenly, a car from another lane started to merge in front of Seiji's car. Seiji cursed and tried merging into the next lane to get around the car. However, a car horn caused him to quickly move back into his lane. The road was icy and as Seiji steadied his car, the tires caught some ice and lost control. Panicking, Seiji took hold of the wheel and looked behind himself. Seto and Mokuba were clinging to each other.

"Boys, get down!" he shouted.

"What's going on!" Mokuba wailed.

"Don't worry! I promise you'll be all right!"

"Daddy, I'm scared!"

It was Seiji's worst nightmare. Try as he might, the car would not stop turning. He could hear car horns, he could see flashing lights, and even a vision of Nina flashed before his eyes. As soon as he it began, it was over. The front of the car had smashed into a guard rail. Seiji's head had hit the windshield on impact. His eyes clouded as blood left his body. "Ni...na," he whispered.

In the back, Seto had unbuckled his seatbelt and had taken his brother out of his car seat to hide under the seats. He was holding Mokuba close to his body. When he was sure it was all over, he looked around and saw his father lying against the dashboard with blood all around him. Swallowing, Seto slowly approached him.

"Dad?" he muttered. "Dad, are you okay?" He gently poked his father's bloody hand. "Dad, can you hear me?" Eyes wide with fear, Seto began to shake his father. "Dad, please wake up! It's not funny anymore! Please, Dad! I don't hate you! I was lying! Dad!" He was crying. He had promised himself he wouldn't cry anymore.

"S-Seto?" Mokuba was crawling from his hiding space. Seto turned to him and embraced him. "What's wrong, big brother?"

"Dad's gone," he said softly. He pulled back and looked at his brother. "You got cut."

"It doesn't hurt," Mokuba replied, his lip trembling. "You got a cut too."

"I'm fine." Seto decided he wasn't going to stay any longer in the car. He had to get Mokuba out. He could hear sirens and knew the police and ambulances were there. "Mokuba, let's try to open the door."

Mokuba nodded and they both pulled on the door handle. To their surprise, it opened. Both boys climbed into the freezing night air. They could see one ambulance and several police cars around the scene. Seto held his brother's hand in his own and walked over to a policeman.

As they were walking, the policeman saw them and gasped. "We got survivors!" he called. He ran to the boys. "Are you both all right?"

"We have minor cuts," Seto answered. "But our dad...he's..."

"My god...I need a stretcher! Someone go check the front seat!" The paramedics rushed out. They checked the car and shook their heads at the officer. "Listen, do you boys have any relatives we could call?"

"No," Seto said automatically. "Our father was the only one left..."

The policeman gave them sympathetic looks. "You two are gonna have to come with me to the hospital first where they'll dress your wounds. Then I might have to bring you to an orphanage."

"But what about our daddy?" Mokuba piped up. "What are you gonna do with him?"

"We'll hold a funeral for him tomorrow once he's cleaned up. Then I'll bring you both to the Domino Orphanage." Seto remained silent as he watched the paramedics lift his lifeless father from the car. They covered him with a white blanket to hide the gruesome scene. He and Mokuba followed the policeman into his car and sat in silence. "By the way, what are your names?"

"Seto and Mokuba Ryo," Seto mumbled. "Our father's name was Seiji."

"Ah, he's the son of a man we apprehended and had to kill earlier this evening."

Seto looked up. "Grandpa Fujita is dead?"

"He escaped the hospital he was being kept in and would have hurt a lot of people if we hadn't stopped him. I'm sorry for both your losses. I really am."

No matter what he said, Seto didn't want to listen. He wanted to shut everything out. Everyone in his life was gone. The only one left was Mokuba. He glanced down and saw that his brother was fast asleep. Smiling fondly, he hugged his little brother. Whatever happened, he and Mokuba would go through it together.


"You're kidding! They've lost all their relatives in just a 5 year span?"

"Yes, I know it sounds crazy but it's true."

"So they're being sent to an orphanage now?"

"Yeah, Officer Koshi is talking with the head of the orphanage now..."

Seto listened in on every conversation in the police station. Someone was always talking about him and Mokuba. They had stayed overnight at the station once they were done at the hospital and had attended their father's small funeral. They had asked for him to be buried next to their mother. Now they were waiting to be taken to the orphanage where they would most likely be spending the rest of their lives.

"...here they are, sir," Officer Koshi said coming out of his office with an elderly man. The man looked at the brothers closely.

"They seem in fine health," he muttered. "You say their names are Seto and Mokuba, do you? Well, come here, boys. I'm Mr. Yanagawa. I'm the head of the Domino Orphanage. Are you both ready to come with me?"

Seto looked at his brother. They both nodded. "We're ready, sir," he said.

Yanagawa smiled. "Good. Then let's be on our way."

"Hey Seto," Officer Koshi called. "Take care."

"Thank you for everything, Officer Koshi," Seto replied with a bow. Watching them leave was hard. Koshi had grown fond of the two boys. But he knew they would be fine in Yanagawa's orphanage.


16 years later...

Seto Kaiba stood in the pouring rain, staring down at the headstones of his entire family. He had left work early just to visit the graves. He felt a sense of foreboding. He hadn't been to the graveyard since his father's funeral. He had never had time after he had been adopted by Gozaburo Kaiba. He opened the locket around his neck. The picture of Mokuba smiled back at him. Frowning, he unlocked a space underneath Mokuba's photo and found a picture of both his parents on the day of their wedding.

He dug into his coat pocket and took out an old photo of his father, Mokuba, and himself a month before the accident. They had all been smiling. Seto tried forcing himself to forget. But he knew he couldn't. He had loved his parents deeply. More than he would ever tell. He came to a stop when he read the headstones of his parents' graves.

"Mother...Father..." he mumbled. He bent down to trace the lettering on the stones. "Not a day goes by that I don't think of you. Dad...will you forgive me? For you to hear me saying I hated you as your last memory...I could never hate you. You did more than I could ever do. You were much stronger than me. I love you, Father."

He wiped at a tear that threatened to fall down his face. He couldn't show up back at KaibaCorp with tear stains on his face. As much as he wanted to, he wouldn't cry. He stood to his full height and took a deep breath. "I wanted to say a final goodbye to all of you. Mokuba and I are doing well. Rest in peace...all of you." With that, Seto Kaiba, formally known as Seto Ryo, slowly made his way out of the cemetery, leaving behind the family he had lost so long ago.


Author's note: Sad or what? I was crying so much when I wrote the death scenes. I really had grown fond of Seiji. This is just what I think COULD have happened, but I'm not 100 percent right. It was just written for the heck of it. Hope you liked reading it as much as I liked writing it. Please review! Thanks.