Kaiba--

Fading-

It was a rather humilating, silent ending, for such a dramatic life, Kaiba, thought idly, as his lips pulled back in the old gesture of scorn.
His youth had been blazed away with his dramatic, phoenix-like surge of fire to the top, to the highest glass tower, to the pinnicle, where he could stare down with the cool regard of a god. For thirty-eight years, he had slaved and sweated, and guarded his riches like a dragon hording its gold. But, all of his riches could not buy him one more breath, one more day of life, one more time to make anything right. The diagnosis of the lung cancer had effectively brought the brute will that marked his days into tortured, unwilling submission. He may have been able to fight dragons with those eyes, stare defiantly at the world, and laugh, but when his own mortal flesh started to fail, he realized in the most humiliating way that he was with a shock, human.

His eyes strayed to the metalic gleam of the silver IV pole, and trailed down the slender tubing that was discretely hid by the sleeve of his business shirt. Yes, weak, sick, bed-ridden, and now, dying, Kaiba refused to submit the indignity of a hospital gown, and because of his wealth, he was fairly insulated from dying in a hospital room. Here, in his plush office, he was maintained by a trained nurse, and an on-call physcian.Oh, there were reminders of his impending demise. The wheel-chair when his legs failed him. The steadying stream of morphine to keep the pain in check. The pinched, weary surrender of Mokuba who had to bite back the rebuke that Kaiba was straining himself. Kaiba allowed himself a smile at the brief memory. Mokuba had grown into a tall, slender young man, with the same dark eyes and open curiosity. When Kaiba was diagnosed, Mokuba insisted on dropping out of the university to come home and care for his brother. Pride would have prevented Kaiba from admitting that he even needed the help, but Mokuba-so far-was the only one who was successful at navigating the complicated maze of Kaiba's changing mood swings, and what was left of his fiercely cherished independence. But, Mokuba was firm, and kind, and even now, there was nothing that Kaiba would refuse his little brother.

So, now, Kaiba was left, staring at the blinking light of his computer screen, the tension of unresolved questions surging through his veins, his mind feeling like a caged tiger in his trapped body, and his regrets kindly nagging at what was left of his lagging energy. With a grimace and supreme effort, he shrugged aside the trembling exhaustian that gripped his shaking hands and continued hammering out his last will and testament.

It was a grim task, an unpleasant one. But it was theraputic and soothing, to see that the years he had invested in KaibaCorp had manifested into fruition with the glittering sky-scrapers, the power, and the awe of his reputation. Mokuba would be set for life.

Kaiba smirked, wryly as he tapped out the last of his assets. He was leaving a sizable gift to Domino City Hospital,a major grant to research cancer.
He had left a sizable scholarship for the children of his employers, bulked their retirement funds, and guaranteed their security for life, as well.
He supposed it was the least he could do for all the times he made them wet their pants in fear when he so much as raised an eyebrow in disapproval. He allowed himself a brief chuckle. He may not even have the ability to rise and walk across the room without assistance, but he could still glower well enough to scour paint from a car door.

He recalled those first, bleeding days when he found out that he was terminally ill. The doctor had been so annoying kind and coddling, dancing around the central issue of how many months Kaiba had left. It took all of his strength he had not to beat the answer out of him, and it was only Mokuba's shaking hand fisted into his shirt that stopped him, with a wordless plea from those dark, beseeching eyes.

Kaiba sunk back into his chair, powerless. The doctor uncertainly offered a few options...chemotherapy, a transplant, medical treatment that Kaiba balked at, when he considered the insult to his dignity, his self control, and his fierce independence. Kaiba flatly refused them all when he astutely deduced that they were nothing more than delaying tactics, with folded arms, and a snarl.
Mokuba attempted to reason with him, only to be presented with Kaiba's back as he strode out of the doctor's office in long strides, and a quivering sick feeling that rattled him to the core. Vulnerability.

He had blindly, instinctively marched to his car, slid himself in the front seat, with the intention of driving away, only to find himself staring in helpless paralysis at the steering wheel.

Mokuba was the one who found his big brother, slumped over in the seat, sobbing, and shaking, as if there was a war marching through his body.
Blindly, Kaiba gripped him in the fierce embrace, the tears wetting his shoulder, as Mokuba said nothing but held him, as his own tears flowed.
There were no words spoken. None needed to be. Then, as casually as usual, Kaiba abruptly dropped the embrace, ordered Mokuba to buckle his seat belt, and decide where they were going to eat dinner. Mokuba offered a quick suggestion, astonished at Kaiba's returning self control, but unwilling to embarrass him by discussing his breakdown a few moments before.

But that was six months ago. Even though Kaiba had insisted on both knowing exactly what was going on with his prognosis, and ignoring or defying it, the cancer was truly relentless. When Mokuba insisted on a hospice being consulted, Kaiba suprisingly let him. To see the thinning hair, the thinning body, the weary shadows that smeared those cerlian blue eyes was truly shocking. In the last few weeks, Kaiba had virtually coccooned himself away from the world, leaving his business decisions to be dictated by phone, or email, or to be carried out by Mokuba.
It was obvious to even those who remained ignorant of his true illness that the dragon was losing his fire, to the point that not even Kaiba could ignore it, any more.

It was at Mokuba's insistance- again! that he spend more time with his younger sibling, and devote his time to "deal with things that are bigger than Kaiba corps."

It was another begrudging acknowledgment of his limited time-time that he was so used to funnelling into productive activity, producing results...something besides this forced waiting.

So, here Kaiba found himself. Dying before he left his thirties. Leaving a fierce reputation in his wake, a multi-billion dollar company, and a broken hearted younger brother who he would give it all up for to keep that misery from wounding his eyes so much.

He wasted little of his time acknowledging the luming end of his existance. Maybe it was beyond his limits, or his comfort to even ponder a world where he was not. But it hurt. And it made him so afraid.

-