Author's Note: I'm not sure when exactly this story takes place… but it definitely takes place before my other Yu-Gi-Oh story, "The Other One Carved in Stone." Inspiration can come from the craziest of places, and this is proof; I got the idea for this story the other day when I was walking to my classes in the pouring rain and got soaked (despite having an umbrella). But for the record, I have seen a real monsoon! Disclaimer: I don't own these characters.
The worst storm in years had descended upon Domino, and the city's people were dealing with it as best they could. The Mutos had closed up the Kame Game Store, the Gardners had stocked their shelves with food and supplies, and Joey Wheeler had hunkered down in his apartment with a stack of rented DVDs and games, determined to sit this thing through.
Elsewhere, in the secure fortress that was Kaiba Manor, Mokuba had taken to pacing the vast hallways. The rain had been going on for hours upon hours, and still his brother had not returned from work. The sky had been overcast that morning when he had left, but now, the rain had turned the previously well-kept front lawn into a quagmire. The roads had turned into rivers. And there was still no sign of him.
Mokuba sighed to himself as he heard a crack of thunder. Tempted though he was to try to call his brother, he was reluctant to do so, for fear of interrupting his work. But what if he was in some sort of trouble? What if his limo had been caught in one of the many flooded roads?
His fears were unfounded; at this exact moment, Seto was in his office, nose to the grindstone as he focused on Kaibacorp's latest endeavor. Deluges of rain forced themselves against the windows, as though trying to get to him. Another crack of thunder distracted him slightly, and he glanced out the window. It looked as though someone had picked up the entire Pacific Ocean and was pouring it on top of Domino; if he had seen a shark fly by the window, he wouldn't have been at all surprised.
Seto was aware that he was the only one in the office complex that day; most of his employees hadn't shown up at all, and those who had found their excuses to leave as the rain intensified. But Seto wasn't about to let a storm sway his routine; this was a battle of wills—a case of man versus monsoon. And he would win. He had to win.
Seto tried to focus back on his work, but now the memories of his unfortunate childhood were starting to resurface. He remembered all too well the last time there had been a storm this severe.
Mokuba had been barely five years old at the time the last big storm had hit. He and Seto had still been occupants of the orphanage. Seto, who had been approaching his tenth birthday at the time, had known even then that the orphanage had been ill-kept. But he never could have imagined how ill-kept it really was.
The young Seto had awakened to the most annoying sound of rain finding its way through the holes in the orphanage roof. Glancing around, he had seen several holes in the roof of his dormitory room.
Even at that young age, Seto's patience had been thin. Seizing up the situation, he quickly raided the hallways for vases and had placed them under the holes. Of course, that had only been a temporary solution to the problem, but he had been too tired to deal with it further.
Just as he had been getting back to sleep, he had found himself being shaken awake by Mokuba.
"What's up, Mokie?" he asked, groggily.
"There are holes in my room, Seto," came the reply. "I can't sleep."
"Thanks for telling me," Seto replied, only half-wryly.
"What can we do, Seto?"
"It'd be nice if we could take our frustrations to the ones behind this," Seto mused.
"We can do that!" Mokuba answered, and he proceeded to shake his fists angrily at the roof.
Despite himself, Seto cracked a smile.
"Well, Mokie, I don't know exactly what I can do to help," Seto admitted.
"That's OK. I only wanted someone to talk to… and you're the only one who'll listen."
"That's what I'm here for…" Seto replied, with a yawn. "Tell you what… you can take those vases to put under the holes; that'll help a little."
"But what'll you do?"
"I'll improvise," Seto assured him. "Now why don't you try getting some sleep?"
Mokuba hugged him and ran off with the vases.
As for Seto, his method of improvisation involved enveloping the pillow over both of his ears in an attempt to drown out the sound of the rain falling in. It had worked, albeit partially; he had succeeded in being able to drift back asleep, but had only achieved it by using his arms to clamp the pillow in place.
But still, sleep was sleep. Unfortunately, Seto didn't get to enjoy it for very long.
"Wake up, you!" a voice snarled in his ears.
Seto awoke to one of the older orphans striking him with the pillow.
"What…?" he replied, still sleep-deprived.
"You think you can laze your way through this!?" the other orphan snarled at him. "Make yourself useful and help out!"
Seto watched bewildered as the other child stalked out the door, unsure of what was going on. Realizing that he might as well get up, he did so. A cry of disgust left his lips as he found himself knee-deep in water.
What Seto hadn't realized was that that the orphanage was below sea level, as was most of the town (such was the disadvantage of living in a seaside town). But the orphanage was an inferior, one-story structure that had been built almost as an afterthought, and now the place was rapidly filling with the rising floodwaters. Everyone had awakened to find this sight, and now all were trying to halt the water in any way they could: boarding up the holes in the roof, sandbagging the doors, and the like. Seto waded through the mess, trying to maintain his sanity amidst all of the chaos.
Meanwhile, the young Mokuba had been reluctant to set foot into the waters at all; he hadn't learned how to swim yet, and what had been knee-deep to Seto was considerably higher on the young child.
Thinking as best as he could, Mokuba used his pillow to help keep him afloat as he wallowed through the rising waters, searching for Seto.
"What are you doing?" asked one of the other orphans his age, who was leading a bunch of kids of the same age group.
"I'm trying to find my big brother…"
"All the older kids are helping to stop the water," the other boy replied. "We are supposed to be getting to safety."
"I have to find my brother!" Mokuba retorted.
"Look," said a young girl, following the boy. "We can tell someone to tell him where we're going."
"Where are we going?" asked Mokuba, now thoroughly confused.
"My dad always used to say that whenever there was a bad storm, we have to go into a storm cellar," the first boy said. "So we're going outside to see if we get in there. Then we'll be safe."
The children had been too young to realize that a storm cellar was far from safe in a flood; they didn't know any better. And poor Mokuba found himself following them.
"The doors are being boarded up," a third child said. "Do you have a window in your room we can get out of?"
As this was going on, Seto had been hauling small sandbags, trying to prop them anywhere he could. Cynical as he was, he had been convinced that this wasn't helping in the slightest, and he had tried to tell anyone who would listen that their best bet would be to try to get to higher ground.
No one had been willing to listen, and all of Seto's efforts ended with someone handing him yet another sandbag. Close to his breaking point, Seto glanced through the space in one of the boarded-up windows to see a young girl trying to swim through the mess outside.
Finally, people started listening to him, and the girl was brought in, despite her protests that she had to get out where it would be "safe" and away from the storm.
The others had gone back to work, and now the sopping girl had started crying to Seto to let her out.
"It's not safe out there, Kid," he replied.
"It would be, if I joined the others in the storm cellar!"
"Are you crazy? Underground is the last place anyone should be at a time like…" he trailed off in horror as he realized that he hadn't seen hide or hair of Mokuba all day.
Seto waded as fast as he could back to his brother's room, calling for him. Of course, he received no answer. His worst fears were confirmed by the open window; it was a tight squeeze, but he forced his way out
Each relentless drop of rain felt like a needle piercing his skin, but he gritted his teeth and tried to ignore it.
"Mokie!" he called. "Mokuba!"
As he progressed, the water level increased. By the time he reached the storm cellar, he was horrified to see that the door was completely underwater.
Uttering a prayer, he forced the doors open, and a series of shrieks greeted him as a new wave of water flooded in. The children had been hanging onto the top steps of the cellar as the water had risen higher and higher.
"Alright, everybody get out and back into the orphanage," Seto ordered them, relieved that they were all safe.
But something hadn't gone right. The children had all clambered out and were wading back to the main building, but Mokuba had not been among them.
"Mokuba?" Seto called again.
"Seto!" came the small cry. "Seto, help!"
Upon entering the cellar, Seto was shocked to see Mokuba at the opposite wall, holding onto a support beam, which had been the only thing between him and certain doom. He had been too scared to try to climb up the steps when the water had started coming in, and was now cut off, pure fear filling his eyes quicker that the water filling the cellar.
Seto swam over to him.
"Come on, Mokie," he said.
Mokuba shook his head, holding onto the beam for dear life.
"Mokuba, we have to get out of here," Seto told him. "This place is going to fill up completely."
"I can't," sobbed Mokuba. "I'm too scared."
"Look, I'll help you--" Seto began.
"You go without me!"
"I don't see that happening…" Seto replied, dryly.
Mokuba began to calm down slightly as he realized that Seto wasn't about to leave without him. Not daring to look, he let go of the beam, and Seto helped him out of the cellar.
It hadn't been the end of their troubles; the caretakers had decided that the orphanage was a gone case, and so the brothers joined the rest of the orphans as they evacuated to higher ground.
Days later, after the storm had ended and the waters had receded, everyone returned to clean up and move on.
Unfortunately, most of the brothers' few possessions had been damaged by the flood; all they could salvage was a few photographs, their chess set, and Seto's first deck of Duel Monsters cards. But thankfully, everyone had survived that storm.
Another rumble of thunder brought Seto back to the present. He tried to shake off the memory of the storm at the orphanage, but it wasn't easy; he often wondered about what would've happened if he hadn't reached the storm cellar when he did.
He had never brought up the storm to Mokuba; he never even asked him if he remembered it. Mokuba never mentioned it, either, so perhaps he had forgotten it, and Seto didn't see any need to remind him of it.
His thoughts derailed as his cell phone rang.
"Kaiba," he said, as he answered it.
"Seto, where are you!?" came Mokuba's voice.
"At work," he replied.
"Well, the roads are really bad; I was worried…" Mokuba trailed off. "How are you getting home?"
The thought had crossed Seto's mind even as the rain had first begun.
"I was planning to pull an all-nighter," Seto explained. "This storm may be a nuisance, but it gives me a chance to get ahead in my work."
"Oh… Well, good luck," Mokuba replied, as he hung up.
Seto was no fool; he could sense the immense disappointment in his brother's voice. Mokuba had been informing Seto of the coming storm for days, and had apparently been hoping that Seto would have considered skipping work. Instead he had done just the opposite.
Seto's mind returned to the last big storm. He had been the one who saved Mokuba's life that day. He remembered how the look of intense fear on his brother's face had changed to hope as he realized that he was no longer alone and at the mercy of the floodwaters.
Seto logged off of his computer and left the building. The roads would be too unsafe to take the limo; he would have to walk.
The pelting rain still felt like needles, though his thick coat provided some armor against it. His shaggy brown hair was now drenched, and Seto realized that he hadn't been out in the rain since that day of the first fateful storm.
"I wonder what Yugi and his entourage would say if they saw me now…" he thought, but in truth, he didn't care.
He walked, deep in thought, for an hour as he entered the front gates of Kaiba Manor. He paused at the marshy lawn, glancing at the fountain he had designed himself; it was a marble sculpture of a Blue-Eyes White Dragon, and the fountain sprayed from its jaws as it roared at the sky.
Seto entered the threshold of the manor, and Mokuba's stunned cry fell on his ears almost immediately.
"You came back!" he exclaimed.
"Of course," Seto replied, acting as though the walk home was nothing.
"Well, would you like dinner or something?" Mokuba asked.
"That'd be fine."
Mokuba went to the kitchen to speak with the chefs as Seto reflected on how the hope rose in Mokuba's eyes today, just as it had done so all those years ago. Seto had made the right choice; in the battle of man versus monsoon, he had won.