Contrapasso

----

We just got more than a foot of snow, and I'm snowed in. I'm bored, and have been reading a fair number of fanfictions lately, so... this is the result.

"Contrapasso" means poetic justice or fitting irony. I think it's Italian.

Disclaimer: Yugioh is copyrighted to Kazuki Takahashi. I own the snow and the board meeting, and a fair number of the plot details.

---

Kaiba Mokuba sighed quietly, allowing his gaze drift out the one of limousine's tinted side windows. Flecks of white drifted down from the clouded sky, settling lightly on the already whitened streets. Inwardly, he was thrilled -- he had always loved snow; but he was also worried. They had been stuck in this traffic jam for nearly half an hour now -- he might not make it to the board meeting. Not that his brother really needed him to be there, but he liked to know everything that was going on in the company. Seto had assured him time and time again that he didn't /need/ to be there for board meetings -- they were long and tedious -- but he felt that he had to be there anyway. Otherwise, some part of him felt that he was shirking his duty, both as a Kaiba Corporation's vice president and as Kaiba Seto's younger brother.

The only reason he had this problem to begin with, he reflected, a bit chagrined, was that he had opted to go to the Mutou family's game shop after school instead of going directly to the office. And he had been having so much fun fooling around with one of the new game systems there -- Yugi had let him try it -- that he had lost track of time completely. He hadn't even noticed that it was snowing until there were three inches on the ground and it was coming down progressively harder.

Now, nearly six inches of the stuff covered everything in a frosty blanket. It was beautiful, but it also sort of got in the way of everything.

Mokuba leaned forward, closing most of the distance between himself and the driver. "How much further?" he asked, trying to keep the impatience out of his voice.

"Roughly seven kilometers, Mokuba-sama," the driver replied, not taking his eyes off the other cars. "I'm sorry for the delay."

"No, it's okay," Mokuba assured him, sitting back in his seat. The clock on the dashboard read "6:35"; the meeting was to begin a 6:45. Even in ordinary circumstances, Mokuba would have felt a bit pressed for time. But arriving within ten minutes in this sort of weather was plain impossible. From the looks of it, Mokuba was going to miss this meeting.

/What are you doing, Nii-sama?/ Mokuba wondered, glancing out the window again. He could imagine his brother organizing papers and finishing last-minute work before leaving his office and heading to the conference room on the thirty-ninth floor. He'd do that soon, making his way to the elevator in swift, confident strides. If Mokuba was there, he'd almost have to jog to keep up. He always had to hurry to catch up.

In fact, he thought as he watched the whiteness drifting down from the sky, he'd always had to hurry to keep up. Sometimes in more ways than one.

---

"Nii-sama," Mokuba cried, throwing his pencil down on the table in frustration. "I don't get it! Why do we have to learn this anyway? When was the last time that you needed to factor a fifth-degree polynomial?"

Seto turned in his swivel chair with a phone pressed against his ear. Immediately, Mokuba felt his ears grow hot with embarrassment, even though his brother looked more entertained than annoyed.

"Yes, yes," Seto was saying as Mokuba returned to the math problem he was dealing with. "I'm well aware of the status of that product chain... well, if he's enough of a problem that he's getting in the way of an entire product chain, why do you persist in keeping him? You don't want to- Oh, for the love of... Takeuchi, don't be a half-wit. I'll deal with him."

Mokuba hear his brother set the phone back on the hook, then stand up.

"Now, what's this about fifth-degree polynomials?" Seto inquired, kneeling next to him, mild amusement playing on his features and intonation.

"I hate them," Mokuba summarized, crossing his arms and sitting back in his chair.

"I see." Seto glanced at the notebook Mokuba had been using for his homework. "You ought to work on your penmanship a bit," he commented, a bit off-handedly. "I can barely read your work."

"I know, I know. You said that last week."

"I meant it last week, too."

Mokuba couldn't come up with a good comeback for that, so he just shrugged.

"Mokuba, how did your teacher suggest you go about solving these?" Seto asked, pulling the notebook a bit closer to them.

"Something about Descartes' theorem and sign changes..." He cringed slightly. "I wasn't really paying attention. I didn't see why I'd even need to know..."

"Right. You're actually utilizing Decartes' theorem quite effectively. But you made a mistake right here..."

Mokuba watched, partly miffed and partly amazed, as his brother picked through his work and showed that he'd actually just forgotten to multiply a negative through. It figured. But Mokuba never would have caught it on his own. "Why do you still know what Descartes' theorem is?" he asked, at length. "You finished Pre-calculus a long time ago, Nii-sama..."

Seto merely shrugged as he stood and returned to his desk. Mokuba was left feeling frustrated with himself and a bit inadequate. His brother was good ateverything. Mokuba was at the top of his class, earning straight-As in honors courses, but that didn't seem like enough somehow.

---

Seto had learned science, mathematics, his language and business skills and a whole host of other things under the harsh instruction of Kaiba Gozaburo's carefully selected tutors. Mokuba could remember his brother slaving away for seemingly endless hours, trying desperately to finish the impossibly large workload that Gozaburo busied him with while maintaining a decent sleeping schedule.

Mokuba, on the other hand, had been mostly kept out of the way -- he was given some private instruction, but his curriculum was nowhere near as rigorous as Seto's was. Similarly, Seto took on the vast majority of their work at Kaiba Corp. -- Mokuba took care of a bare minimum of the workload. Seto insisted that it was for his own good -- that Mokuba was still a kid, and should like like one. But Mokuba couldn't help thinking about Seto's childhood, spent having to endure Gozaburo and all his machinations. It seemed colossally unfair that Mokuba should get the chance to live "like a kid" after Seto's childhood had been all but stolen from him.

"Mokuba-sama, we're here."

Mokuba started, breaking out of his thoughts. One look out the window told him that they were, indeed, now in the near-empty parking lot in front of the Kaiba Corporation. The dashboard clock proclaimed that it was just past 7:10. Is it still worth going in? Mokuba wondered. His brother would be tied up in his meeting still... and for how much longer? Sometimes these board meetings went until late at night.

Oh well. Maybe he could slip in during one of the breaks.

He opened the side door of the limousine and stepped down into the snow. Instantly, to his surprise and joy, he sunk in to mid-shin. The snow was deeper than he had expected... and unpacked. Thrilled, he reached down and scooped up a handful of it, packing it into a snowball.

"Mokuba-sama, are you sure your brother would-" the driver began.

Mokuba cut him off with a snowball to the arm. "Snowball fight!" he announced. "Free for all. First one down-"

A snowball, lightly packed, smacked the back of his head, throwing him momentarily off balance. He spun around, sending snow flying everywhere, to see his brother standing there, arms crossed and a smirk on his lips.

"Nii-sama!" he gasped, leaping at his brother, who caught him easily. "What are you doing? I thought you had a board meeting!"

"It was cancelled. Tsubata and the others didn't want to come... apparently, the weather made travel too much of a hassle. I suppose they dislike snow."

At that word, Mokuba recalled the snowball that had hit the back of his head a half a minute ago. "Hey! Wait, Nii-sama-" he let go and snatched up a handful of snow "-didn't you hear? It's a free-for-all snowball fight!"

Seto's expression was hard to read. He looked mildly amused -- it was the same sort of look that he had given Mokuba when he'd gotten frustrated with his math homework. But at the same time, it was a bit colder, hardened by his day at work. "Not now, Mokuba," he decided. "This isn't the time or the place for a snowball fight."

Mokuba considered protesting, but refrained. He understood -- Seto simply didn't want to ruin his business image. That was okay. "When, then?"

Something flickered through Seto's eyes, and he didn't answer. Instead, he turned to the chauffeur. "Tanaka-san, take us home."

The driver glanced at Mokuba, then nodded. "Yes, Seto-sama." He jogged over to the door and opened it so that Seto could sit down inside.

Seto sat, and Mokuba clambered in after him. The driver shut the door, then ran back to the driver's seat and slipped in. He started the car and drove out of the parking lot, beginning home.

Seto spent the majority of the ride on his cell phone -- finishing last-minute business, apparently. Mokuba was left to his own thoughts, and to the same window he'd looked out on the way over.

There was a time, he thought, when Seto would have gladly joined him in a snowball fight.

---

It was late. Two inches of fluffy whiteness covered the ground; Mokuba could see his breath in puffs in the cold night air.

It was a clear night, and the stars were out. Their father had taken them out on a walk to the park. Seto and Mokuba made snow angels until Mokuba's hair froze at the ends. After that, they sat on the park bench, Mokuba shivering between his brother and his father, snuggling up against Seto for warmth. Their father told them a story from his childhood about snowfall -- how he'd always loved snow.

"Too cold," Mokuba had complained.

"You wouldn't be so cold if you hadn't lain down in the snow so many times," their father had said with a laugh. "I'm not cold."

"Too cold," Mokuba had persisted, scooting closer to Seto.

"I like it," Seto had said, wrapping his arm around Mokuba's shoulders. "I think... it's beautiful."

"It is," their father had agreed. "It is."

---

Mokuba looked over at his brother as they rolled onto the driveway. Seto's posture was rigid, as always, his head erect and his shoulders squared. He even looked awake today -- the exhaustion from hours over overworking wasn't present in his eyes. The irritation wasn't there.

And at the same time, he looked so serious and focused -- Mokuba wondered what he could possibly be thinking about. Some new game design? Or maybe what he was going to work on in the morning... maybe he had an early meeting.

As the car slid to a halt, Mokuba opened the door and leaped out into the newly fallen snow. His brother, however, lingered in the car a moment longer:

"Tanaka, you're free to go. I'll be working from home tomorrow, due to the weather, so I won't need you services until Wednesday."

"Sir...? Yes, of course. Thank you, Seto-sama."

"Mmm." Seto stepped out onto the driveway and shut the door. He watched the limousine pull out of the long driveway and drive down the street -- Mokuba watched too, if only out of curiosity. What was so interesting about the car leaving?

Mokuba began to make his way toward the front door, but Seto caught his shoulder and stopped him. Mokuba glanced up, a bit confused. "Nii-sama? What are you-"

Seto smiled. "Now, what's this about a snowball fight?"

Mokuba stared at him for a moment, not comprehending. Then, slowly, he felt a huge grin spread across his face. "Free for all!" he shouted. "First one down is out!"

Fin

So, what do you think? Can I still write them?

Review, please?