Title: Blood Is Red

Author: starlight2005

Pairing: Seto/Yami (probably)

A/N: Just so you guys won't be confused or something, I swear I'm not giving up on In Explanation. Admittedly, it isn't the best of my works and that I probably ramble there too much compared to my previous projects, but I'm not really abandoning it. Believe it or not, but it actually means something to me and to even think about not finishing it… :shudders: I'm just taking a break from writing chapter 17 because this stupid thing—I mean, err… never mind—refuses to cooperate and keep quiet as I told it to. This fic is inspired by what happened just hours ago and thank god, bro's fine. :laughs: I hope you like this.

By the way, this isn't one of those lengthy fics that extend to erm… 30 chapters, like You'll Be Safe Here. I'm planning on limiting this to two or three chapters because I really should finish In Explanation before college starts. Gah. So many things to finish…

By the way, Mindtwin (that's A-T-YGO… mindtwin, don't kill me if I get the penname wrong again…) and I have made a collab FFnet account. Look for Crazy Mindtwins in my Favorite Authors. We already have a story here but we don't know if you guys welcome the idea of the story… so read it and review, too.

Thanks for reading the A-notes. Read and review, okay? I want to know if you guys think I should continue this. I mean, yeah, maybe this could stand alone, as a oneshot, but who knows? So please, tell me?


Chapter 1: Colorfully Extravagant

The hospital roared with life; a fluttery, natural chaos with nurses, their monotonous uniforms shining pristinely with whiteness, approaching and reassuring one grieving relative to a frantic other. It was what they were paid for, a job that required them to not only assist the doctors but also to safeguard the waiting families' convenience. (Then again, that was why management thought it better to put a T.V. in the waiting area). Still, the sudden boom of noise and a wave of similar terrified looks on the faces of those who wait for any news about someone who was brought in nanoseconds, seconds, minutes, hours ago, were part of the nurses' everyday, unpredictable hospital life.

When minutes ago, the silence hung in the air, occasionally disrupted by a movie star shooting the antagonist in the movie or by the sudden wails of an impatient child, there was now clatter. Chatter and silence worked in pairs, in the way an elderly lady cradled the bloodied bonnet of her grandchild, in the way the security guard tried his best to not look at the morose group of children from the back of the waiting room, all sour-faced and ready to cry. There was no more appropriate word to describe the intensity of everyone's emotions, whether grief, relief, regret, frustration or anger. It was a disheveled world, regardless of the usual moments of short-lived calmness.

There were things that did not require one to think deeply, lose oneself in his thoughts or fantasize about every what-ifs of a situation, to understand. And when the doctors, who were taking their scheduled 20-minutes break to sigh and/or drown the exhaustion with caffeine, rushed to the entrance of the emergency room with their respective nurses tailing after them, grieving, frustrated, angry relative or not, everyone knew what was going on and who that important person was. It was as if a quieted ant farm, devoid of any action or activity, was electrocuted into awareness; for good reason:

Mokuba Kaiba had met an accident.

As the unconscious boy was wheeled into one of the empty operation rooms—only the best service for a Kaiba— the adrenaline, the resurrection of activity in the waiting room faded. There had been a few who whispered here and there, all wanting to know what had happened, all desperate to hear the gossip over the accident, but none getting their answer. It was not enough, simply put, to watch, but the nurses knew better than to let any one of them pursue what they want… unless they want their pink slips by the end of the hour, that is.

There was shock at first, momentary paralysis and then utter disbelief. The murmurings had degenerated into an annoying buzzing sound, the only sign of life in the E.R. once again. The child, whose wails had shattered the silence before, had fallen asleep as every other person in the room stared at the young patient that had become the "star of the night", and the T.V. had been muted; no one was interested in watching, why waste electricity? Silence reigned in the air, apart from the "Dr. Cabrerra, surgery room… Dr. Cabrerra, surgery room…" that was often unnoticed and unheard even by the doctor in question.

The hospital had been a witness to more "exciting" activities in the past, like the parade of injured men and women, victims of an accidental explosion in the factory, or the man presumed dead and brought to the morgue gracing the terrified patients, nurses and doctors with his flesh and bones presence. Once the deemed public servants hurried to their assigned patients and tasks, the life withered away and the only thing that consumed the time of the still grieving, still waiting relatives of the injured and sick was how Mokuba Kaiba was doing.

XXX

The raven-haired boy's brother sat outside of the operation room, dazed, unbelieving, self-loathing. But no one can see that. His bangs hid how his eyes revealed the regretful, nervous soul within; and what the passers-by saw was a CEO, stoic, glaring at them as if they were the bane of his existence. This CEO didn't care. He cursed them silently, instantly despising whoever had the courage to turn a sympathetic stare at him. He found himself hypnotized by the redness of the blood on his hands, lured in by how they felt cold and warm at the same time.

In Chemistry class, liquids have the ability to conform to whatever size and volume of their containers, but what about now? What about the blood that stains the white marbled floor from his hands? Blood was liquid, reddened by hemoglobin and oxygen. Blood flowed in the veins, the capillaries and the arteries, circulating like a runner would a park. It had direction, it had a 'container', but Mokuba's blood on his hands didn't have one. No direction except that which gravity guides it to, and no container like that warm, deoxygenized liquid that rides on his body's internal vessels.

Why he didn't bother to spare himself the memory of Mokuba's frightened, teary eyes as he pulled his little brother into a tight embrace, hoping the pressure on the wound was good enough to stop the bleeding, fervently wishing his brother wouldn't feel the blood fall from the towel-covered head wound, he refused to consider. Seto Kaiba didn't bother to care about what his sanity would face later on. "Hush, don't cry, Mokuba…" was the only thing he could remember. The faces of his brother's classmates, the blood on the concrete railing and on the door, the echoes of the boys' crying his unconscious brother's name in alarm and concern were fading away, were just illusions that Seto wanted to forget.

Before him, the doors leading to the operation room—to his brother—still had not opened to admit anyone, or to release a certain someone.

"Yvette, cancel my 3 p.m. meeting."

"Mr. Kaiba, sir." There was a question in the answer, a sudden action caused only by his canceling an appointment. His laptop faded into black, his screensaver, and he noticed it had done the same thing four minutes ago before he had decided to press the Esc key.

Seto Kaiba had a migraine, a throbbing, incessant pain that aspirins seemed to be incapable of curing—which was actually a peculiar thought, especially when they were supposed to drive it away—and all he wanted was to work on the company's latest technology at home.

"I'm leaving in ten minutes," Seto answered, instead, not bothering to clarify things with his new PA. Yvette was only 22-years old and granted that the woman was older than him, the brunet was convinced that his personal assistant was good enough to adapt to every one of his demands. That's why he hired her, after all, and if she couldn't deal with that… the exit is always open and the pink slip ever ready.

"Mr. Kaiba, you can't—"

"Can't?" Oh no, Seto Kaiba can and he had every intention of doing whatever was presumed to be an impossibility, on his part. "Believe me, miss, I can. Tell Mr. Yamamoto that I am unavailable at this time. He can reschedule to another more convenient time," he answered.

Ten minutes later, Seto was already turning the ignition on, hearing the engine growl. He had a reason why he favored Porsches, and it was because of that particular sound they make when you dash through the streets, uncaring, powerful and unstoppable. Seven minutes later, he had already parked his car in the garage.

With one hand loosening the necktie and another opening the front door, Seto entered the mansion, determined to surprise his brother, who—the CEO looked at the grandfather clock by the staircase and read 2:47 p.m.—was supposed to be eating his snacks (as Mokuba, himself, suggested) in the kitchen. Then again, Mokuba had probably started on his homework.

"Nii-sama, I had some friends come over. We're in the garden."

Seto read the note and took it from the refrigerator before placing it on the bar. That explained the opened box of breakfast cereals, which Mokuba seem to have a liking of eating a few hours before dinner, and the empty carton of milk. He got his laptop and headed to his study, passing by the door leading to the garden, where two boys were pointing at something from the balcony.

"Mokuba!"

"Oh no, Mokuba!"

Had the exclamations been made purely out of excitement, or even anxiety, Seto would have dared a look and wondered what his brother was doing before continuing to his study. But those shouts weren't because they were having fun. They were distressed calls and Seto knew better than to let the fact that they were calling to his brother slip. He ran towards the nearest room, where just in time he saw Mokuba collapse to the ground.

"Mokuba!"

There was blood, and there was a possibility of his brother having a concussion. Seto cursed loud enough for the younger Kaiba to open his eyes in recognition and stare at him. "Nii-sama…" Gods, Mokuba wanted to cry and Seto knew that the instant he felt the other's grip on his shirt tighten as if wanting to bury his head in his older brother's shirt—like old times. Grabbing a nearby cloth, satisfied that it was a towel, he pressed it on the wound, horrified that he wasn't there to make sure Mokuba wouldn't get hurt.

"Hush, don't cry, Mokuba," he whispered, lifting his semi-conscious brother and heading for the car. The boy nodded as best as he could. Mokuba didn't want to disturb his brother, he didn't want to be a nuisance but right now, as he felt Seto's heartbeat race in trepidation, he knew he failed. "Nii-sama…"

"Mokuba, don't cry."

They were in the car now, with Seto giving directions to a startled Isono to take the two boys to their houses. Seto stole a glance at Mokuba, frowning at the hazy look he got in return. "Don't fall asleep, okay, Mokie?" he asked gently, talking to the other as if Mokuba had only woken up from a nightmare and was trying not to remember the horrible look on the monster's face.

The CEO drove like there was no tomorrow, racing through one streetlight to another and getting cursed at by other disgruntled drivers, who, though in the right way, had to stop all of a sudden lest they wanted to hit the speeding Porsche. "Nii-sama… are you angry?" Mokuba asked, pressing harder on the wound because his brother had instructed him so, but it was really, really getting hard to not fall asleep.

Seto skidded into a stop in front of the hospital's emergency room before rushing to open the other's door. "Mokie, we're here…" he greeted, only to pale at the sight of his unconscious brother.

"Sir…"

No, he got them in time! Mokuba wasn't supposed to lose consciousness. The injury wasn't that bad, was it? The CEO watched as more experienced people—no, nurses—carried his brother into the stretcher.

"Sir, will you fill out this forms, please?"

He didn't answer.

"Sir…?"

"Mr. Kaiba?" Seto forced himself to stop remembering. Remembering brought nothing but pain and regret. He didn't need them in his life if he wanted to succeed. He shook his head and faced the doctor.

XXX

Boredom kills. Even in a tight schedule, it strove to ruin the steady pacing of one's life; maybe in twenty or thirty-minute breaks, in conferences and in opening/awarding ceremonies. It didn't fail to at least convince someone to doodle or write his name again and again on two sheets of paper. And in situations where nothing can be done and no one was familiar enough to talk with, it celebrates. It wasn't enough that it rob one of the opportunity to boast of doing something worthwhile, something important, but it just had to force someone to get up and roam around. It was Yugi's fault.

"Aibou, you know I can't go anywhere today!" Yami shuddered, remembering their early, discreet argument. It had been at 10 o'clock, right after both of them had gone back to the game shop to change clothes. He was supposed to go to the wharf as he had planned, after all. And he was prepared to just leave, waltz out of the shop and head to where he was supposed to be. He found himself staring at his light, instead.

"But Yami… I have to go to Anzu's house this afternoon! We have a project to finish, remember?" If Yugi had only thought about he and his girlfriend's project weeks before the actual deadline, which was two days from now, then Yami, whose glaring match with the wall in front of him ended seconds ago when he decided that he couldn't waste his time anymore, wouldn't be forced to spend the entire afternoon praying Grandpa Motou's annual check-up would end. It was unnerving to think that he, being the King of Games (as he is currently dubbed), had an uncanny disability at defeating boredom with its own game.

He sighed and looked for a vending machine. Vending machines meant candies and chocolate bars. There's a possibility they even happen to sell potato chips, too, which would definitely be a bonus if Yami can find where those blasted machines were. Of course, it would also help if the nurse by the front desk would stop looking at him like he was a walking something—a dessert, probably. He heard from Yugi that girls often see guys that way. Yami inwardly shuddered.

Had Yami any idea that he was quite that far from the west wing, where the doctor's office was, he would realize that he was headed to the emergency room, but he hadn't. Not that he'd notice any time soon, though; not when Yugi was having a mental verbal spar with his dark on whether it was appropriate for him to send the nurses to the Shadow Realm for laughing at his obvious discomfort. Why do they hide the vending machines anyway? What purpose will it serve, other than lowering profit?

Until he found one, that is: a coffee machine, in all its glory, standing innocently just a few feet away from him. Caffeine worked wonders on the sleep-deprived mind. Aside from the fact that it keeps one awake (and preferably, hyper), it also purifies… or so Jonouchi said one day… the blood. How it could do that, Yami didn't want to know. Why he even asked Jonouchi—of all people—the former pharaoh couldn't properly answer. Still, caffeine was caffeine, and the more he had in his system right now, the more energy he had in store for whatever he had planned to do later.

The monarch approached the machine as he reached for the exact amount from his pocket. He realized that he had forgotten his sweater in the office and he muttered a quick 'damn it' as prayer for the damned piece of clothing. Just as he was about to press on the beverage of his choice, he saw a flurry of white from the side, and he turned.

"Kaiba?"

Seto didn't look at the owner of the voice, hiding his annoyance at the disbelieving tone his rival had with a frown. "What do you want?" he accused, knowing better than to believe that their meeting was mere coincidence and completely unbothered by the suspicion that laced his question as he gripped on his cup of coffee tightly. There was also the question of why the one person he didn't want to see was actually in front of him as of the moment.

But Yami hadn't noticed any of the suspicion or irritation. He was distracted by the sight of the dried blood—a squeamish sight, come to think of it—on Seto's hands. There were stains of the same dried liquid on his rival's clothes. "What happened?" nearly murmured, all thoughts of coffee wiped away by what he saw before him. He couldn't tell his admittedly, obsessed at times rival just how awkward he looked like, and Yami couldn't help but be concerned. If it weren't for how utterly devastated the CEO looked, the pharaoh can foolishly deduce that the other had killedsomeone; apparently, Seto was devastated enough to shut such thoughts up.

Still…

Blood ruined Seto Kaiba's untouchable, perfect façade. It told the world of his rival's secret—that heartless, powerful Seto was no god; that he was human, after all. Yami didn't need to see how the image fit Seto Kaiba, well the Seto Kaiba he dueled with, or if it even fit the CEO at all.

There was no answer to his question. Typical Seto. Yami frowned and finally noticed the barely noticeable shaking of the other's hands. All too human Seto meant his weaknesses were there to be exploited. It meant more opportunities and greater chances at hurting the seemingly invulnerable man. It didn't help that the whole world knew what—who—Seto Kaiba's weakness is. Chances, however, of the CEO getting through these 'disasters' were higher than that of him getting hurt. His rival would survive, not only because he refused to give up easily, but also because admittedly, Seto was a good man whose friends (no matter if the billionaire refuses to see them as one) would willingly protect him.

That didn't mean Seto didn't need help.

"Did something happen to Mokuba?"

"What's it to you?"

Yami watched as the other spared him one final glare before turning around and walking away, probably to where Mokuba was staying. Seto needed help—he does from time to time, too—but why can't he accept it when it's being offered?