Disclaimer: I don't own Yugioh or anything related to it. Yes, the usual yadda, yadda, yadda. Enjoy! (My thanks go out to those who found a few typing errors. So, I made updates.)
Iwanu ga hana 言わぬが花
The body was wrecked and the windshield had spider webbed into a thousand fragile crystal shards. The Honda's perfect blue-black paint job, that Kaiba Seto had been so proud of up until now, was no more. There were savage scratches from where the car had barrel-rolled.
Like all cars in Japan, the driver's side was on the right. Still behind the wheel and pushing himself against the puffy airbag, Seto forced his arm to move and it obeyed sluggishly. He punched a button on the dash. Nothing happened. Seto's new Internavi GPS system had some immediate, if not obvious, flaws. He could hear a pleasant female Japanese voice saying, "Excuse me. Our system shows your airbag has deployed. Do you need assistance?" but he couldn't respond. Unlike the car's American cousin, there was no keyboard, and it was necessary to push a button to move the cursor to the desired kanji character on the screen. When working, it was supposed to make a pleasant little "blip" sound. But nothing worked. Angry, Seto smashed his fist into the screen and hoped that it would break, too.
"Damn it! Move!" Seto growled. He freed himself from the seatbelt and took a shoulder to the door in order to open it. The door shifted begrudgingly. The metal groaned in protest. He could hear the passenger side door open, too. Seto pulled himself out of the car rubbing his collarbone. It hurt like Hell, but the rest of him seemed okay. In the early twilight, one lamp from the park flickered into life with an orange tint. He looked over to the pine tree to his left to see Jonouchi leaning against it. His head was held back and, if Seto had not known better, it seemed like the blond was looking up into the tree.
"Hey, Mutt, what are you doing over there?"
Before he could say anything else, Jonouchi's body sagged and then collapsed to the ground.
"Damn it!" Seto rasped and tried to make his usual long strides, but felt more ice slip beneath him. Half way there, Seto fell to his knees and buried them in snow. He could already feel the wetness sink into his skin.
The snow felt cold against Jonouchi's face. He felt himself waking up almost immediately. And he struggled to push himself into a sitting position. It was embarrassing. His face was pink.
"I think I'll just sit here and hold this tree up," Jonouchi said with a weak laugh.
Seto's eyes were angry. He was burning holes into Jonouchi and wanted to rip into him for that fat mouth of his. Now was a really good time to make him mad. Yeah, let's do that.
Jonouchi's breathing was hard but hazel eyes flashed back with an impish grin.
"Look, you! I…," Seto began, he was so annoyed—worrying him needlessly after all they just went through.
Jonouchi could feel something warm and wet dripping from the corner of his mouth. Absently, he rubbed his hand against the tickle, and it came back wet with blood. He looked at it, shrugged, and dropped his arm to his side.
He glanced at Seto and turned his head away quickly.
"Don't," Jonouchi began and tried rubbing the blood away a second time. "Don't look at me like that."
Like what? Seto raised an eyebrow.
"That look in your eyes. Stop it," Jonouchi said quietly.
Seto felt himself getting angry all over again. Actually, he was much angrier than he realized. What, the hell, was Jonouchi talking about? What look? he thought and chewed his lower lip. Narrowing his focus, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a white handkerchief.
"Just shuddup and let me look at your mouth." Seto placed his hand under Jonouchi's chin and, almost roughly, turned it toward him.
He did his best not to let it eat at him, but "pride" was Seto's middle name and he liked being in control. Look? I don't 'look' like anything. You total and complete ass. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
"So," he said with a forced casual tone, "what look was I giving you?"
The seventeen year old's eyes were closed. Jonouchi winced again.
"How's the car?" the blond asked with a weak gesture toward the twisted metal. It was a stupid question, really, from the looks of things.
"Dead." He began pressing the cloth to Jonouchi's mouth with a bit more force than before. The blond winced in pain, pulling away, and Seto smiled to himself. Deep down, he was relieved to see that Jonouchi had just bitten his lower lip when the car hit the patch of ice. Problem solved.
Rubbing his collar bone hard, Seto found himself sitting next to Jonouchi on the ground. The sun was going down and that was a problem. With the sun setting, the ice and snow would freeze even harder. What to do? He sighed inwardly. Logically, it was much easier to just stay where he was. Seto fumbled for the mobile phone in his coat pocket to call for help and quickly discovered that he'd left it on his desk at home. Seto rolled his eyes at the heavens. Baka! Baka! Baka!
Jonouchi, the pine bark digging into his back, stared at the wreck with a blank look—awkwardly dabbing at his mouth with a cloth that was turning bright red. He could feel a huge goose egg forming on the side of his head. Bruises were coming up on his face, hands, and legs. But, most of all, the awkward silence bothered him. He turned his head in Seto's direction.
"Awww, don't feel bad about the car. I'm sure you have another one in a garage somewhere—" He tried to laugh at his own joke but took a sharp inhale instead. Sitting at his shoulder, Seto glared at him but didn't dare move.
"I feel…strange," he breathed. He had his head in his hands before he knew it. The blond curled his knees up and rested his arms on them ---burying his face. The pain was tight and stabbed with merciless twists. Inside, the fire burned and spread. With his right hand, he dug his nails into one knee—knuckles white and shaking. Jonouchi held his breath and tried not to utter a sound. Kaiba was right here at his elbow! He didn't want to give him the satisfaction of hearing a moan. He was two steps away from fainting and felt a disconnect with everything around him.
"Jonouchi?" Seto asked quietly.
"Hey, you bonkotsu!" Seto grabbed the blond's elbow and shook it. "Stay with me! Look, they're sending help. Just hold on, Mutt."
With a ragged breath, Jonouchi leaned back against the tree again.
"Are you hurt anywhere else?" Seto's voice had an edge to it, but it wasn't his usual, dismissive Japanese. It was commanding without the annoyance that it usually carried.
When he didn't get an immediate response, he grabbed Jonouchi by the forearm and pulled him closer. Almost immediately, Seto saw it. He was much smaller than he was now. He was looking up at Gozaburo, his adoptive father, who had a vice grip on his arm. It hurt. "You're slacking! I told you to study harder!" He shook his head. That was a really long time ago.
When will I forget that rat bastard?
Seto leaned in, "Say something."
"What do ya want to know?" gasped Jonouchi. He was avoiding Seto's gaze by staring down at the snow as though it interested him. His face was turning the color of the snow.
"Look at me when I'm talking to you."
"Why would I want to?" The blond's voice was hollow and the mirth was fake.
"Baka! Look at me when—" Seto grabbed Jonouchi's jaw again and turned it at him. In shock, Seto recoiled. He was going to be sick.
"That look again," Jonouchi said, squinting up.
There's fear in your eyes.
"Why didn't you tell me that you…?" Seto could hear his voice shaking now and he thought himself weak. One of Jonouchi's hazel eyes had a pupil that looked normal. The other was so wide that the eye looked brown.
"Don't argue with me, both of you," he breathed back.
"Double vision. Hell," Seto muttered under his breath and crossed his arms.
Jonouchi pressed the heels of his hands against his head to push back the pain. It had returned with a vengeance. If he could just press hard enough, he could think.
"Where else are you injured?" Seto asked quietly. He had to get a grip on himself. He was no good to anybody as he was.
"Can't… or won't?"
"Just can't," the blond said, doing his best not to gasp for breath. "I feel… sleepy, though."
Seto shook his head angrily. "No way. No sleep for you until we get to the hospital."
"Hospital…? Then, I guess, you'd better find a way to keep me awake, huh."
"What do you want?"
Jonouchi thought about it for a minute and said, "Talk to me."
"Eh?" Seto's eyebrows raised in curiosity. "About?"
"Dunno," he breathed, "Umm… Tell me about 'Seto' before he became 'Kaiba.' I want to hear that story."
"Sorry, that one doesn't come with a happy ending."
"And you think mine does?" He forced himself to laugh even though he didn't' feel it.
Seto sighed deeply and decided to humor him. He found himself rummaging through memories. There was nothing worth remembering, though. He needed something that was meaningless. He took a quick side glance at Jonouchi. His eyes looked tired and sleepy, but he no longer pressed his hands to his face.
"I liked chess a lot."
"Hmmm, really?" the other said quietly.
Seto shot Jonouchi a worried look before folding his arms across his chest and continuing.
"I remember sitting with the chessboard. I was playing against myself---practicing. There was this total asshole that I was going to play against. So, I had to be good and do things just right in order to win. I remember snow falling outside the window. I dunno. I guess it looked like stars or something, and I took it as a good omen from the gods."
"Did you win?"
"I'm here, aren't I?"
"Yeah, I guess you are. And, you're right. This doesn't have a happy ending."
Jonouchi began to tremble. He looked down at himself and quietly asked himself "why?" His body seemed to move on its own. No amount of effort could stop it.
"I'm not cold, really."
You should be, Seto thought, we're sitting in snow.
"But I c-can't stop s-s-shaking." For the first time, Jonouchi's voice had an edge of panic in it. "J-just can't stop." Jonouchi pulled his green jacket tighter---hugging himself.
Seto debated on what to do. Should he try to move the blond and risk them both falling on more ice? He took off his jacket and placed it like a blanket on Jonouchi. Then, he sat back with his shoulder pressing against his companion's shoulder. "They'll be coming for us any minute. So, hang on, Mutt."
Jonouchi shivered into the coat, and it took all of his strength to keep his teeth from chattering. The coat smelled like Seto. Jonouchi had a vague feeling that it was probably something like Cool Water Deep or some other trendy cologne.
"Do me a favor?"
"I can't do much the way we are." Seto scowled at the car. It gave him something to do.
"No, really," Jonouchi breathed, his tone serious. "Tell Yugi that I'm sorry that we couldn't make it--we couldn't see him. Tell him not to worry, and that he's been a good friend to me."
Friend to me…?
Seto blinked back. He had totally forgotten the reason why they were traveling in the first place. They were going to watch Yugi duel at the convention put on by Kaiba Corp. Yugi had something important to tell them both. Begrudgingly, he had agreed to take Jonouchi with him in his car.
Seto gave Jonouchi a hard glare. No one called him by his first name—only his last. Mokuba should be the only one to be so familiar with him.
Jonouchi leaned forward and rested his head on his forearms. "Sorry," he breathed, "give me a minute." Forced breathing followed and Seto eyed him closely. The blond's whole body seemed to move with each breath.
"Kaiba?" the voice was barely a whisper. This time, calling his name hurt and he didn't know why.
"Kaiba, I think we need to say goodbye now." Jonouchi's body collapsed against Seto so quickly that he wasn't prepared for it. He caught the blond in his lap.
"Jonouchi? Damn it! Jonouchi!!"
Seto could hear screaming and then realized that it was coming from him. The blond's skin had drained of all color and felt cold. The world seemed a watery blur and he rubbed his left eye with the back of his hand.
I can do this! I have to!
Seto shook his head hard. He closed his heart to everything he was feeling. He cursed loudly and found his strength.
"You are not going to die on me, Mutt!" Seto growled while placing his hands underneath and lifting up the body into his arms. "You can't forfeit. Don't place your hand over the deck."
He stood defiantly and looked down, into his arms.
"I am not going to be the one to tell Yugi how you died."
With great effort, he forced himself to walk. His muscles were tight and cold. He felt that he would never be warm again. Jonouchi reeked of blood from his mouth. There were faint red stains on his face. The white coat slipped off into the snow and he didn't care. The sad, thin body was lighter than he expected and fell limp like a rag. The head sagged against his chest.
Curse you for being injured.
Curse you for being too weak.
Curse you for leaving me… alone.
This is my fault. I was driving.
He was moving back toward the wreck---maybe, he could pull the tires off and set them on fire for warmth---when he heard the soft crunch of snow and gravel coming down the road.
A white ambulance followed by a fire truck came to a sudden halt in the road facing the tall, defiant figure of Kaiba Seto with a man's body lying in his arms. The EMS team, wearing blue uniforms, were jumping out of the vehicles and running at him in slow motion. The sound of running and the motions just didn't fit in his mind.
There's nothing that I know that can help him. I know that I call him bonkotsu (mediocre) and weakling. I needle him the way I do everyone else, but he stands up to me---challenges me. When we duel, he makes me question myself. He believes in magic and pharaohs and the heart of the cards. I hate that freaky hair of his and his even freakier friends…who mean everything to him, but… I'm not one of them.
No, that's not it. That's not it at all.
"Iwanu ga hana" is Japanese for "not speaking is the flower." The English equivalent is "some things are better left unsaid."