Disclaimer: Just own the words, not the folks.Where the rain gets in
Mokuba leans back into the soft plush of the white loveseat, watching his brother as he 'finishes up a few things' before they left for dinner. Frowning, he takes in the mop of brown hair, slicked down with too much gel; the perpetual wrinkle in his brow, the down-trodden look in those once intense eyes, the slope of shoulders that have lost their arrogance….When had his brother gotten so…..old?
At 17, Mokuba has spent years observing Seto, adapting some of his more positive traits. Like Seto, he studied everything earnestly; not merely for the understanding, but to wield the knowledge in conquest, if necessary. That's why Seto knew so much; why he read all kinds of books and studied several languages to fluency. It was all about power and control.
But now, that control seemed to be deserting him. His smiles, the few that appeared, never reached his eyes. Mokuba could always tell Seto's feelings from his eyes, but the last few months, they just seemed….empty, hollow; like someone important to him had died. No matter how many times he asked, Seto always brushed him off; saying he was "fine". Mokuba knew he wasn't fine and balked at Seto's continued lying about it.
Seto looks up, brandishing one of his fake smiles, and apologizes, again, for taking so long.
"Ten more minutes, Mok," he promises.
"Sure, Seto," Mokuba replies half-heartedly.
Seto pauses a moment before turning back to his computer.
'Ten more minutes won't make a difference', Mokuba muses. 'I want my brother back, not this shell.'
In just four months, Mokuba would be off to Tokyo University to study Business, having passed his entrance exams with flying colors. Seto had been so proud of him and had graced him with one of his real smiles at the news. Mokuba's excitement with going away to school lasted until he caught the life leaving his brother's eyes. Now, he worried about leaving him alone in that sterile mansion with no one to talk to and here at his desk wasting away as he fought back the vultures trying to take over his company.
He'll be all alone in the world. At least if the yugi-tachi were here, he'd have someone to argue with. Even grandpa Mouto would be better than nothing. But his friends were all gone now, moved on to their own schools to study and then on with their lives. Grandpa had sold the Game Shop and retired to his hometown, Jou and Mai, had finally gotten married, Anzu stopped following Yami around long enough to realize that Honda was human and they'd begun dating seriously, and Otogi and Yugi moved to Hawaii and started a Japanese import/export business; mostly for Duel Monsters and manga. Yami was….well, he didn't really know where Yami was. He knew the spirit had followed Yugi to college and stayed a few weeks while he got settled. He knew about Yami's planned trip to Egypt to work on a dig for a while, courtesy of Grandpa Muto pulling a few strings from his days as an Egyptologist. Actually, he couldn't remember if Yami had ever come back.
Mokuba shrugs to himself. Yugi wasn't worried about it, so he wouldn't be either. Wherever the spirit is, he must be okay.
Though he spoke with most of the Yugi-tachi often, usually daily via IM and e-mail, none of them ever contacted Seto. Not that Mokuba expected them to, really. Seto had made his feelings clear on Graduation day.
Or had he?
Mokuba looks back at Seto from where he'd been staring blankly at the space between the bookcase and the window. Narrowing his eyes, he realizes something he'd missed before now; Seto hasn't been the same since that day. Not really. In being his usual cold, arrogant self, he'd finally chased away the only friends he'd ever had.
The yugi-tachi were exchanging addresses and numbers of where they'd be living and/or going to school. Even Grandpa Muto dolled out the address of his new retirement home. Joey had approached Kaiba first to exchange info with him, the excitement of going to college when just a few short years ago he'd barely made it into high school shone brightly on his face. He'd figured that, since high school was over, maybe he and Kaiba could 'bury the hatchet', so to speak. But it was not to be. Kaiba acted exactly like Kaiba.
The group took him seriously when he told them that he'd, "Rather eat my own intestines sautéed with peanut butter, than to have anything to do with you losers. Especially you, mutt," he'd gestured to Joey with a sneer.
Uncharacteristically, Jou didn't launch himself at Seto like he usually would.
"Good-bye, Kaiba. Have a nice life," was Jou's only reply as he took Mai's hand and walked away.
Mokuba knew something epic had occurred, but Seto seemed oblivious, continuing his taunts to Jou's quietly retreating back. Whirling in triumph as though he'd finally had the last word, Mokuba caught the fleeting startled look in Seto's eyes when Yugi and Yami also turned away, followed closely by Anzu, Otogi and Honda. As they retreat behind Jou, a frown of incomprehension crossed Seto's face. Grandpa had spoken then.
"I feel sorry for you, Kaiba", he'd sighed deeply, "because it seems you'll always be alone."
"I'm not alone," he'd snapped, "I have Mokuba."
"That's your brother. What about your friends?"
"Friends! Ha! Like those losers could have ever been my friends! I don't need any friends! Let's go Mokuba!" Seto had dragged him out to the limo and they'd had a private celebratory dinner at a fancy restaurant.
The next day, Seto had started working full-time, having decided college would be a waste of his time and money as he knew everything he needed to in order to run KaibaCorp.
It wasn't until a few weeks later that understanding dawned on Seto.
He'd found the invitation lying on the table in the den.
Celebration pool party!
Saturday, August 10th!
Mai (and Jou's) place!
'Cause we're gettin' hitched!
Oh, and 'causeyou all graduated!
"Mokuba", he'd questioned as his brother entered the den later, "when did you get this? I didn't see anything for you in the mail this morning."
Mokuba had looked away guiltily before replying.
"Yugi gave it to me last night."
"At the arcade. Remember, you said I could go with friends?"
"Why didn't they just come here and get you like they usually do?"
"Yugi called from his cell and said that they decided to go at the last minute and were already on their way there and wanted me to meet them."
"They only gave you one," Seto had mumbled questioningly.
A shadow of hurt crossed his brother's face then and Mokuba started.
"Well…um…I-I'm sure they meant it for both of us."
A somber air settled around Seto then that Mokuba could still see four years later.
"No," he'd intoned, soberly handing Mokuba the invitation, "No, they didn't."
That became the first of many invitations Seto wouldn't receive.
Glancing at his watch after breaking out of his reverie, Mokuba sighs heavily. It had been well over ten minutes.
"Seto," he grumbled.
"A few more minutes, Mok. I promise."
"Seto," it's nearly 9:30 at night. I've been waiting here since 4:00 this afternoon! And I'm starving! You said you'd be leaving early! I could have just gone to dinner without you!"
Seto crossed his hands in front of his face, glaring dangerously.
"Don't whine, Mokuba. You're not a child anymore. Petulance doesn't become you."
Glowering, Mokuba turned to leave. To hell with this! He didn't feel like dealing with 'Asshole Brother' right now. And he really was very hungry.
"Where are you going? Can't you understand how important it is for me to maintain order and control of my business? I would think you could stand a few hunger pains," he calls.
Mokuba stops at the massive oak doors.
"Grandpa Muto was right, Seto," he whispers before bolting out the doors.
Seto's mask of indifference slips momentarily before he slams in back into place, resuming his work.
Seto leans back in his chair, stretching to relieve some of the tension in his shoulders. Glancing at the digital readout on his desk, he grimaces.
"So much for dinner; again," he grumbles.
Was it only three days ago that Mokuba had stormed out, mumbling some nonsense about 'Grandpa Muto was right'? They'd each done their best to avoid the other since then. He hated fighting with Mokuba, especially now that he'd soon be lost to him forever. Despite his assurances to the contrary, Seto know Mokuba wouldn't want to come back and live in the mansion under his rule once he'd gotten a taste of life outside of Domino. No, soon he'd be alone in that house, surrounded by servants of questionable loyalty, and alone at Kaiba Corp., surrounded by employees of questionable loyalty.
Maybe it wasn't nonsense.
Still, even if that old man was right, what did it matter? He's Seto Kaiba. With the exception of his brother, he'd been alone most of his life. If that was his fate, so be it.
His eyes trail to the lone photo on his desk, a shot of him and Mokuba taken some years ago. Smiling lightly, he picks up the large silver frame as his mind drifts with memory. They took the picture right after the Grand Prix when Mokuba had insisted they spend the day at Kaibaland. Spending the day with his beloved little brother eased the irritation he felt at having to deal with that idiot Ziegfried. They rode all of the rides Mokuba wanted, ate anywhere Mokuba wanted, basically did everything Mokuba wanted. Which is how the picture came about, Mokuba wanted to take it.
Mokuba had dragged Seto into one of those booths that take four miniature pictures before he could protest. While all four shots came out well, this one made Seto happiest, though neither of them actually faced the camera. Mokuba is caught in mid-giggle as Seto tickles him, a big smile plastered on the half of Seto's face that's visible. Seto had the shot enhanced and blown up, bought a frame for it and has kept in on his desk ever since.
Returning the frame to its place of honor, he closes his laptop, deciding it's time to head home. Sliding the thin computer into its carrying case and slipping it over his shoulder, he turns out the lights and leaves, his office door locking automatically behind him.
'This has gone long enough', Mokuba yawns as he sits in the front room waiting for his brother to come home. Three days without speaking to Seto had started to really bother him. He was going to end their stalemate tonight. After another yawn, he checks his watch, 1:20 am. Where the hell is he?
The front door closing wakes Mokuba from his impromptu snooze.
"Seto…" he mumbles sleepily, staggering toward the stairs.
Seto spots his little brother and pauses in his ascension to his room. Mokuba tries not to flinch from the usual plastic smile on his brother's face. Deciding he's too tired to say all of the things he'd rehearsed in his head, he simply throws himself into the familiar warm embrace. Pulling back a few minutes later, Mokuba mumbles a sleepy 'Goodnight' and heads to his room for a well needed rest.