Shadow: Strange, written in a rush for yesterday, and...hm, not much else to say about it. A belated happy birthday, Kaiba-kun?

Notes/Warnings: Shonen-ai, boy x boy, Prideshipping - Seto x Yami. Probable slight OOCness, and the occasional not-quite-making-sense.


Fall

Yami could hear the wind blowing from where he sat on the floor, his head resting drowsily against his lover's thigh as Seto worked on the laptop on the sofa behind him. The brunet typed with one hand, the other limb lying on the curve of Yami's exposed neck, thumb stroking the smooth skin there quite unconsciously.

Yami enjoyed the petting. He enjoyed the quiet of the time, the peaceful silence so late into the night between his lover and himself, and he relished the warmth of the blanket draped loosely around his shoulders, and the fire burning behind its guard in the hearth. It was cold outside, the wind singing its mournful little dirge through the trees in the Kaiba manor's grounds, but Yami was comfortable, and warm, and snug, and more than content to drift away to sleep where he sat.

The wind continued singing outside the home. The flames crackled comfortingly in the fireplace. Seto kept quietly typing, stroking reassuringly his lover's throat. Safe and at ease, Yami silently fell asleep.

He woke to darkness, curled on his side with his face pressed into the softness he recognised as the cushion of the sofa. When he rolled over and sat up he felt the blanket he'd been clutching before he'd drifted off slip down his form, leaving him shivering in the now noticeably cooler air.

Where was Seto?

Dragging blanket back up around his shoulders once more Yami tried to stave off his trembling, a despairing glance thrown in the gloom to the last dying glow from the hearth – there were only embers left, so he must've been asleep for quite some time. Although he'd expected Seto to wake him, not just put him on the sofa –

'Hm.'

The curtains, when he flung them open, after stepping through the dark to the covered window, brought light flooding into the room, Yami raising one hand to cover his face instinctively as the radiance hit his sensitive eyes.

It was a beautiful morning outside, an autumn frost chasing after the dawn dew and freezing beads of crystal to every fibre of the living world, drawing smoky patterns on the windowpane. The sun, shining through the mist, coloured rainbows on the floor, setting nature's diamonds alight and glowing amongst the other vivid jewels of the season.

Yami smiled when he saw the scene, but he turned his back on the morning's wonders to go and open the room's other's curtains, only –

'Oh.' A breathless millisecond in time of confusion, utter surprise, quickly replaced by a warm swell of affection, amusement, admiration, a heady suffusion that swept through Yami's system and quite banished the cold he felt at the morning's chill.

Kaiba Seto lay casually sprawled on his back on the other sofa; one leg bent with his foot flat against the cushions, the other half-on, half-off the seat. His left forearm was covering his eyes, while his right hand fell over the edge of the couch to trail the carpet, not far from the silent shadow of his laptop, the technology having long since gone into hibernation to preserve power.

He was fast asleep by the sound of his breathing – an unusual sight.

It was a rare thing to catch Kaiba sleeping, and so Yami perched himself on the arm of the sofa his lover had made his bed, admiring the wonder. The brunet was well and truly out for the count, sleeping soundly, bathed in the shaft of golden-orange sunlight that stole in through the window. The rays caught the lighter tones of Kaiba's hair, golden streaks intermingling with earthy tones, brown darkening in some places to a beautiful auburn – the colour of the autumn leaves in the garden outside.

He looked beautiful.


The wind was biting even though the sun shone, the breeze chasing the falling leaves across the ground in a whispering swirl of sound and colour. Kaiba, striding through the park on the lunch break his personal secretary had all but forced him out of his private office to have, was mostly unmindful of it, protected from the weather by the long coat about his legs, black gloves on his hands. He had nothing to do on his break, his briefcase having been confiscated by his personal secretary – really, he rued the day Mokuba had hired the woman -, and so was aimlessly wandering.

"Kaiba, watch out!"

A familiar voice broke into Kaiba's thoughts and the brunet twisted about, looking for the origin, but something black and heavy collided with his chest before he'd even completed half a turn, knocking him backwards, straight off of his feet.

Coloured leaves took to the air upon impact with the ground, a falling snow of ruby and gold.

Another cry from some distance away, lost somewhere between embarrassment and concern. "Kaiba!"

The CEO ignored it, too concerned with the twin set of decidedly doggy eyes sitting on his chest, looking down at him over a cold nose, floppy ears and grinning mouth.

A dog. He had been knocked over by a dog.

'Dogs fly?' Kaiba's mind meandered off down strange paths, put-out by the fact he'd apparently been bested by a canine – 'A black English Cocker Spaniel', his mind informed him.

The dog gave a wet lick on the nose.

Kaiba wrinkled said part of his face, hands automatically flying to try and push the mutt off of him.

The dog moved to sit on his stomach instead.

Kaiba went to push the canine off of there as well, but a tanned hand beat him to it, grabbing the mutt's collar and hauling said dog – licks, eyes, nose, floppy ears and all – onto the ground.

"Jayjay!" Scolding.

Kaiba looked slowly up, trailing up long legs, up a black coat and bypassing the crimson scarf, gaze finally alighting on a face familiar as the voice who'd called to him barely five minutes before – the owner of the voice, in fact. 'Yami,' was the whisper in his thoughts, a pleased murmur all too quickly drowned out by general bemusement as Kaiba ended up looking at the dog beside him once more. One elegant eyebrow was arched. 'Jayjay'?

"Kaiba, I apologise." Yami was holding out a bare hand to him, actually looking contrite. "This daft dog here has a habit of leaping on people, though I thought it had been cured when he stopped pouncing on aibou and me."

Kaiba ignored the hand, voicing the question in his head. "…'Jayjay'?"

"Ah," the slightest of embarrassed blushes on Yami's cheeks, "yes. His real name is Medjai," (the dog gave a pleased woof at the sound of his name,) "but as a nickname, Jayjay stuck."

"…Appropriate," was Kaiba's only comment on the choice, still bypassing the extended hand, and rising gracefully to his feet by himself. Standing, he towered over both Yami and Jayjay, so that the other human was forced to look up to see his face. "You always did like hanging out with dogs, didn't you?"

Yami scowled, shoving his neglected limb back in his pocket. "Kaiba, you need some new insults."

"And you need to control your pets a bit better," Kaiba snapped in reply, ruffled at having being so cleanly knocked over. He was Kaiba Seto, damn it all. He did not fall over because dogs leaped at him.

"I shouted a warning-!"

"Not soon enough."

Crimson eyes glared at him, Yami raising his chin from where he'd tucked it into his scarf to protect it from the bitter wind. "I already apologised for my dog's actions. It was an accident Kaiba, and judging by how you're standing fine by yourself now, it appears the only thing wounded by the whole event is your ego."

Kaiba glared back, unwilling to accept that while he was still furious, his mind was cheerfully taking note on how the cold and Yami's own temper brought the colour out in the ex-spirit's cheeks, anger narrowing stunning eyes so – so –

Fall, fall…falling…

"Hn." The brunet pushed past the other, striding off without a glance back.

Yami scowled after him. Jayjay let out a quiet 'woof' of surprise, debating going after the retreating figure, and then rather wisely deciding to stay put.

The cold really was biting.


Yami wondered idly why Kaiba hadn't went to bed, hadn't woken him the night before so they could've went to be bed together. For Kaiba to just fall asleep…the brunet had to have known he was tired, but perhaps…perhaps he'd placed Yami on the sofa so he'd be comfortable whilst he himself a bit of work on his laptop, but perhaps then he'd decided to take a nap in front of the fire, rest his eyes for a few minutes. And then perhaps a few minutes had turned into a few hours, the late time and the warmth of the fire lulling the near-insomniac CEO off to sleep.

Possibly. Maybe. Perhaps.

Yami smiled a little sadly to himself, drawing one leg up to his chest and wrapping his arms around it as he watched his slumbering lover. Ten months they'd been together romantically, and there had been all that time of just plain knowing eachotherbefore, and yet Yami still couldn't fathom even half of a half of what went on in Kaiba Seto's head.

Kaiba…was such a complicated person. Particular, and precise. Prone to mood swings, and strange illogical leaps of logic that made perfect sense somehow in the end, but at the time were completely dumbfounding. Nothing at all like the High Priest Yami half-remembered, so like Seth and yet so not –

The physical differences between Seto and Seth were minute, but they were there. Seth's hair had been just a shade longer, his skin just a shade lighter. This man before Yami and the man he had left behind in the past were so physically similar they could have been twins – yet personality-wise, they really couldn't have been any more different.

Kaiba Seto was half-wild and feral, his little brother the only claim on his heart. Nothing mattered to Kaiba more than Mokuba, and Seto would die to defend his brother. Kaiba's path was often that of self-destruction, and his sheer stubbornness and pride were both his greatest assets and faults. Those who strayed too close to a well-defended heart felt a dragon's roar, the slash of razor-sharp fangs and the chilling bite of rejection – the bitter tang of disgust. Seto Kaiba was…so wonderfully flawed. A precious jewel shattered by Yami's own hand into a thousand thousand tiny pieces, scattered to the far reaches of time. Piece by painful piece Kaiba had rebuilt himself, slotting the jigsaw of his soul together again, clawing faint hope into a world that had beforehand been shadowed and grim. The rebuilt jewel was stronger for it – still fragile as ever, but more beautiful, more dazzling, more rare. The changing season, sparkling brightly amongst the year, the timeless gem.

In contrast to his reincarnation, Seth had been quite tame. The once-priest had been as fiercely loyal as his descendant, but his loyalties had lain only to his Pharaoh, and to his beliefs. Seth had had no little brother he had to care for, and his early childhood had not been scarred by being orphaned. Seth had known stability in his youth, and had felt a mother's love to her only son. The woman had brought her child up well, and Seth had been well-rounded, intelligent and devout. His instincts were simplistic and pure, and it had only been his father's intervention that had later twisted them, corrupting the childlike sincerity in an attempt to bring Seth over to his side.

Seth….Seth had been a child of light. It was why Kisara's dragon had settled so easily into his heart, finding kin within the soul of a blue-eyed priest. The good child, Seth had upheld duty and honour, and had been just.

Seto walked neither in the light or the darkness, preferring instead to tread the thin line of grey that bordered the two, lost somewhere between friend and rival, hero and antihero alike. The hint of shadows had bled into Seth's sunshine over time and its effects could be seen in Seto – Kaiba was colder, sharper and more resistant. Kaiba had weathered Life's missiles the best he could, but all wars suffer casualties. Parts of himself had been lost in the fighting, scraps of his soul that he had only regained when Yami had shattered his heart and Seto had been forced to look for all the pieces of himself, look properly at himself, deep and hard, and bring himself back for his beloved Mokuba. The Blue Eyes White Dragons had found him then too, when Seto had found himself, and the light of Seto's grey bathed their shimmering scales. The souls of the three dragons settled in Seto's heart and became the man's hope, residing there with the dreams and the wishes of a young boy who just wanted to fly.

Yami loved him, not Seth.


Kaiba nodded his head politely at what his female companion was saying, turning his head pretty much at the exact same time to discreetly smother his yawn with one hand. Mokuba had been trying to be kind when he'd arranged this woman to accompany his older brother to this party, to make sure the brunet wasn't lonely by himself, but really, Kaiba just wished his younger brother hadn't bothered.

Kaiba…wasn't bored with the woman's company exactly…he just wasn't interested in it either. Kaiba knew he would be just as entertained were his companion elsewhere and he himself alone.

She was talking about the season. Calling it 'Fall' instead of 'Autumn' – American influence? Kaiba half-smiled to himself, his attention fading, remembering a most definite fall only earlier that day, thinking of eyes that matched their owner's crimson scarf, a tumble amongst the leaves because of a stupid canine.

Jayjay.

Yami.

Fall, fall…falling…

The woman was smiling at him, thinking his expression was because of something humorous he'd said. Kaiba inwardly chided himself for his mental wanderings.

"Isn't it your birthday today?"


Kaiba awoke with a crick in his neck from lying in one slightly uncomfortable position too long, a sigh escaping his lips as he twisted his head, arm falling across from his eyes and –

'Agh.'

Sunlight. Eyes screwed up he waited a while before attempting to let lashes flicker open once more, his bent leg straightening so it lay flat upon the bed – no, couch – he'd fallen asleep on. He'd forgotten to go to bed the night before, and there was something, something –

Mental scrambling ground to a halt when blue eyes finally met the warm carmine ones looking at him, something inside Kaiba freezing up at the scrutiny.

"Happy birthday," Yami's greeting was gentle, light, the autumn sunshine spilling in behind his head and setting his crown of hair into an aurora of fire. He had no idea what a lovely picture he made, framed against the morning sunlight, blanket slipping down his shoulders, arm wrapped around the one leg drawn up to his chest. Not a Pharaoh but –

Kaiba raised himself up onto his elbows, meeting frankly the gaze shot his way. Extended a hand, and was more than a little surprised when Yami responded to it as he had for nearly a year, slipping from his perch on the sofa arm into a sort of half-embrace, breath dragonsmoke in the cold morning air. He was warm against Kaiba's chest, the blanket pooling between them.

There was a pleasant silence.


What Kaiba Seto wanted, Kaiba Seto usually got. Even when Kaiba Seto wanted to talk to someone. At two o' clock in the morning. When they were asleep.

Yes, Kaiba Seto was a stubborn ass. A persistent one too, and surprisingly sober, even after he'd been at a party all night and decided to break into his rival's home at a ridiculous hour of the morning simply so he could…talk. Yes, talk.

And so – one window left stupidly open providing one point of entry, and one Kaiba Seto sitting on the end of one Mouto Yami's bed, sleep-laced, somewhat irritable crimson eyes staring incredulously into blue.

"Kaiba, what the hell do you think you're doing?"

The brunet frowned at the anger in the other's voice. "I wanted to talk to you."

"It's two am!" Jayjay, in his basket at the other end of the room, bared his teeth slightly at Kaiba, mindful of Yami's temper at the CEO. "Why couldn't it have waited until tomorrow?" A slight pause, "how did you get in here, anyway?"

An eloquent shrug. "There was an open window on the second floor. I scaled a tree and got in that way."

Yami scowled. "You know there's a term for that? They call it breaking and entering."

"I resent that title." Kaiba managed to look offended. "I didn't break anything."

"I – you – get out!" Yami slipped out from underneath his covers – sadly, actually wearing pyjamas -, pushing at the other out of the room, over to the window beside the tree. "Go home!"

Kaiba obligingly climbed back out the window, his self admitting he was being weird that night. But after his companion at the party had bid him goodnight and kissed him on the cheek before…

Fall, fall…falling…

He'd wanted to see Yami. This – this – strange –

His balance was bad, but still Kaiba paused in the tree, looking back at an aggrieved face. "What about what I wanted to say?"

"Is it life-threateningly important?" Yami asked, arms folded across his chest as he stood at the window.

"…No."

"Then go ho-"

Words caught, cut off, Kaiba suddenly surging forwards, catching Yami in a part-open kiss. It was brief, the brunet pulling back triumphant, something low and twisting in Yami's stomach at that gleam in the other's expression but then –

Crack.

Kaiba vanished, and Yami let out a cry, leaning out the window to stare down, down at the ground a level below, where one Kaiba Seto was sitting, groaning, rubbing his side.

"Kaiba!" Yami couldn't help his concern. "Kaiba, are you alright?!"

"Never better," drifted back the somewhat sarcastic reply. "You know, because falling out of a tree does wonders for your health."

Despite himself Yami smiled, leaning a little further out on the windowsill.

They spent another two hours in conversation like that.


They lay together on the sofa, silent, ignoring the twittering of the morning birds brave enough to face the chill October outside the window. With the blanket draped across them, the morning sunlight playing across their skin, Seto and Yami semi-drowsed, the smaller encased in the other's arms, head tucked neatly under the other's chin. The puzzle, perfect and opposite and complete.

Fall…

Yami brushed a kiss against the skin of his lover's throat, feeling Seto's lazy heartbeat, warmth bleeding between them, unusually quiet, content. It was far too early for either Mokuba or Jayjay to be up and prowling about, and so Kaiba Seto should have a peaceful start to his birthday day.

Fall…

Kaiba felt the touch, half-smiling, pressing the other a little closer to himself in response. There'd be no walks in the park this year, no dog-attacks, tree-climbing and committing of criminal acts but –

Falling

There'd be falling all the same. Because there were many different ways to fall, and it was good to fall with someone curled beside you.

Ever falling in lo-

Kaiba Seto was suddenly glad he had been born in Autumn.