Shadow: Sometimes, even I overestimate myself. This thing was supposed to be a two/three-shot, but now looks a lot more like it's going to slide into about eight. *can't quite believe she was planning to cram so much originally into one chapter*

Notes: Same as last chapter, save for the addition of Bakura's rather dirty mouth. Mind his language?


Lords of Misrule

"This is yours."

Yami blinked a little blankly when Mokuba pushed what the ancient Spirit could only assume was a present into his arms, staring (somewhat perplexed) at the over-indulgence of tape, wrapping and ribbons that built up the decorative nightmare in his grasp. "What….?"

"Jounouchi-kun left it for you yesterday." Mokuba's smile was bright and beaming, sunnier than the rather grey weather outside. How much the boy's good mood was down to the mention of his elder friend and how much was a result of the large pile of gifts the black-haired whirlwind had torn through in the past half an hour was anyone's guess, Yami still a little dazed from having been woken up barely an hour previously by the child bouncing up and down, up and down in enthusiasm on his bed, forever excited by the joys of Christmas morning. (Yami still felt vaguely sea-sick.)

"Jounouchi?"

"The mutt," Kaiba confirmed, moving closer so he could flip over one of the numerous gift-tags bedecking his rival's gift, showing the confused Spirit the scrawled out kanji under the 'from' section. "'Shiro', 'kore', 'uchi'; 'inside this castle'," he tapped each of the signs in turn with one finger, "Jounouchi."

"And…that?" Yami motioned to the sole kanji further up the tag, under the 'to' area – not that he knew what the printed section was for.

"'Yami'," Kaiba easily read, knowing the symbol without even having to look where the other was pointing. "'Darkness.'"

Yami traced the lettering, his gaze intent as he seemingly tried to burn both names into his mind, before he glanced up – slightly shyly this time, though he would've died before admitting that to either of the males before him -, meeting the Kaibas' gazes. "This…" he raised the gift in his arms, "mine?"

"It has your name on it." Kaiba moved away again, sounding disinterested, already beginning to pick up some of the mess his brother had left behind.

At Mokuba's urging Yami quietly set about finding the present amidst the wrappings in his arms – Jounouchi's skills did not lie in the practical department. What the gift lacked in finesse it more than made up for in enthusiasm and effort, the absent blond clearly having thought very deeply about presentation. After a good ten minutes of arguing with the sticky-tape the wrapping came undone, out tumbling a new deck holster and some dog-tags styled with hieroglyphics. The latter was swiftly pulled on over the black jumper Yami wore that morning, the former set carefully to the side as the Spirit set about trying to clear up his mess.

His hands were knocked away, however, another brightly-wrapped box dumped upon his lap by the overeager Mokuba.

"From me," the boy said simply, ever-bright. Like his brother before him, he was quick to point out the kanji on the gift-tag. "Mokuba – 'wooden horse'."

Yami looked awkward. "…But I did not -"

"Doesn't matter," his younger companion cut him off with an airy wave. "I don't give to get."

Kaiba paused in his work to watch Yami unwrap Mokuba's gift, the elder one oh-so-cautious as he carefully unpeeled the tape binding the wrapping together, Mokuba resuming his near-bouncing of before in anticipation.

Soft, rich red spilled out of the box when Yami finally got it open, pooling into the male's lap, long and liquid over the ex-pharaoh's legs. It was a scarf, very gentle, very fine, and Yami raised it to his face to bury his nose in the fabric, eyes closing in bliss at the wonderful softness of the material. After a few moments he looked back up again, to see both Kaibas regarding him with vague bemusement, Mokuba with a small, pleased smile.

"You like it?" The younger sibling shuffled a little closer, pushing aside wrapping paper in his eagerness.

"I love it." The simplicity of both the question and the reply gave Yami the opportunity to pour all his thankfulness, all his joy, into his words, obviously delighted with the gift.

Alongside the scarf was a new choker of high-quality leather, and alongside the choker was Kaiba's gift, simply-wrapped, presented by Mokuba as Kaiba himself had mysteriously vanished from the room.

The brunet had attached a tag to the present, but it was only Yami's name printed out neatly on the card, and nothing more. Somehow, that didn't surprise Yami in the slightest.

Kaiba, it was shortly revealed, had taken note of the notebook Yami had carried around everywhere with him during his early days in the mansion (though it wasn't as if Kaiba could have not taken note of it, especially since he'd had the precious item flung at his head), and bought a new, beautifully-bound writing set for the Spirit – an embossed note and sketchbook with all the stylised writing tools alongside.

How…unusually swe-

Yugi called the home just after nine that morning. Kaiba answered the phone first, speaking in rapid Japanese (far too quick for Yami to follow) for a good five minutes before brusquely dropping the receiver into his houseguest's grasp without another word.

Yami, unused to taking a call in his own body, tentatively mimicked the way he'd seen the brunet holding the piece, raising the receiver to his ear just in time to hear his lighter half's bubbly greeting.

"Yami!"

"Aibou?" Yami felt warmth spread through him at the sound of the other's voice, his heart lightening as the other chattered to him in as slow and most understandable way the effusive Yugi could, trying to convey his happiness at Yami's awakening, at all the pretty lights of New York, in simple Japanese.

Yami didn't comprehend half of what Yugi said to him. Regardless, he enjoyed listening to the youth's babble, joy spilling across the language barrier with Yugi's characteristic sparkling bounciness. Where Yugi was, so very far away, it was still Christmas Eve, not long after seven o' clock in the evening, the western part of the world still awaiting their Christmas dawn. Yugi was off out with Anzu to celebrate the night (and it was a date, the younger boy was pleased to conspiratorially confer, being conducted in the typical Japanese fashion), and so the conversation eventually had to come to end.

Yugi had promised him a gift from America as a belated Christmas present, said he was thinking of his other all the time as…it felt so quiet in his head, all of a sudden, and Yami had softly agreed - "Love you, Yami."

Back in Japan, Yami slowly smiled at the sentiment, expression softening in the way it only would for Yugi. "Love you, aibou." 'Daisuki, aibou.'

Yugi hung up and Yami, ending the call, went to place the phone back in its cradle. He quite missed the startled blue eyes fixed upon him, Kaiba preoccupied with staring after the Spirit's form –

'Daisuki, aibou.'

'Daisuki'.

'I love you,' in Japanese, 'more than life itself, more than anyone else. You are my beloved, my number one.'

Yami had 'daisuki' and not the simpler 'aishiteiru' – 'I love you'.

Yami had said 'daisuki'. To Yugi.


Mokuba went to bed late that night, still somewhat hyper from all his presents, and from being on the phone for a good two hours chattering to some squeaky friend as they compared their gift stashes. When he went to bed he was as enthusiastic as he had been first thing in the morning, still running on a childish high nothing seemed to be able to dispel.

Yami, his head hurting from following the many conversations that had gone on that day about gifts, television and suchlike, was eager to follow the boy's example, longing for the soft bed in the rather spacious room Kaiba had given to him for his use.

He was stopped, however, by a hand on his arm, strong fingers wrapping around the limb and holding the Spirit back as he'd set his foot on the first step to the second floor of the mansion.

He glanced back. "Kaiba?"

"You're tired?" The brunet didn't bother to explain his actions, merely tugging once more on his companion's arm so Yami was drawn around, facing him. Even standing one step up from the CEO Yami still felt horribly short, Kaiba looking down at him – though hopefully less metaphorically, of late, and just literally.

"Yes," the short reply would've constituted as rudeness from anyone else, but Yami still didn't have the vocabulary to add elaboration, and he was too weary to ask for aid in spelling out his thoughts.

"Then I'll be brief." With his free hand, Kaiba reached into his pocket and withdrew a slim black, rectangular box, placing it in the other's palm. "This is yours."

"…Kaiba?" Yami looked confused, much like he had done that morning – and then he opened the box, perplexity only deepening as he saw what lay inside. A silver watch, fine-crafted and rather expensive-looking, lay on black velvet, glimmering in the lights overhead. He frowned at Kaiba. "This… You gave me a present. I can't -"

"I can afford to buy more than a notebook, Yami." Kaiba refused and took a step back when his companion tried to press the watch back on him. "Your time-keeping is dreadful – worse than Mokuba's -; you need the present. And…besides," a jab aimed straight for the gaps in the ex-pharaoh's knowledge, "don't you know it's rude to return a gift?"

Yami faltered, unsure of what exactly to do, and Kaiba took the opportunity to pluck the watch from its velvet bed, taking the other's left arm and clasping the item about the Spirit's slim wrist. It fit almost perfectly, a nice compliment against Yami's skin tone and dark clothing.

"Do you like it?" The question slipped out before Kaiba had the chance to check himself, the brunet suddenly burning to have the unreadable expression in Yami's eyes explained as he looked at the watch.

Yami looked up at him, eyes still smoky, vague. "Thank you." And then he turned, and went upstairs to bed.

He'd never quite answered Kaiba's question.


Yami liked his new watch. It was beautifully light, metal cool against his skin when he fastened around his wrist. It was pretty and practical – a wonderful gift with unusual thought laced in every link of the device.

Mokuba, ever-perceptive, ever-a-Kaiba Mokuba, noticed. And he, ever-amused by how Yami always seemed to be looking at the watch, shifting it on his wrist to catch the light, couldn't help but grin, propping his chin on the Spirit's shoulder.

"Did Seto give that to you?"

"Yes." Yami saw no point in hiding it from the boy – why would he, anyway? It was…just a Christmas gift. A very charming, completely unexpected Christmas gift. Given to him, in secret, in a somewhat strange manner.

"It's very pretty."

"Yes."

"He didn't tell me he was getting you a watch."

"He forgot, maybe?"

Mokuba grinned. "Seto-nii isn't the type to just 'forget' things, Yami – is he now?" His tone was playful, his expression teasing as he watched the vaguely flustered look grow on his companion's face. "But more importantly," and here the black-haired boy took on the countenance of the devil-incarnate, "what do you think made him so embarrassed about buying you the 'pretty' watch that he wouldn't tell his little brother about it?"

The implied meaning in the question flew – mostly – straight over Yami's head, meaning literally lost in translation. "Mokuba -"

"Mokuba?" Yami really had to wonder at Kaiba's timing sometimes, the brunet appearing as if from nowhere to stand in Mokuba's bedroom doorway – Yami and the boy had been playing videogames again.

"Kaiba!" Yami scrambled to his feet at the sight of the other, having looked for the CEO earlier that day, to no avail. Kaiba Seto could be an elusive man, and Yami had been forced to give up on his search and play games with Mokuba until the time came that said boy's older sibling decided to show his face to the world once more.

Kaiba watched, impassive, as the other approached him, waiting until Yami had come to a halt before raising one eyebrow, folding his arms and asking very pointedly: "You wanted something?"

"Yes -" apparently that was Yami's word of the hour, slipped in amongst his jumbled speech and he leaped, facing forwards, into his plea, "will you teach me, please?"

Surprise flickered across the smooth face, a streak of lightning, hastily quashed by marble clouds and years of refinement. A low query: "…Japanese?"

"…Writing. Reading." Yami didn't know how his request was going over – Kaiba looked no different than he had before Yami had posed the question. Mokuba watched, silently, from behind. "Trans…lating?"

Kaiba nodded vaguely to show the other he'd gotten the word right, thinking through the Spirit's proposal. It…could be difficult. From what Kaiba knew of the Ancient Egyptian language the pictorial writings of hieroglyphics and hieratic could be used both phonetically and symbolically, one picture used to convey a vast multitude of thoughts and ideas. The key to understanding a phrase could lie in a tiny nuance of interpretation, so easy to lose when trying to cross the language barrier. They'd be working with a dead language and a modern one, both dependent on interpretation when neither of them was proficient in the other's native tongue. But, it would be incredibly useful –

"Very well."


"Getsuyoubi, Kayoubi, Suiyoubi, Midoriirobi, Kin-"

"No," Kaiba cut the other off before he could continue.

Yami sighed, propping his chin up with one hand. "I am wrong again?"

"Yes…" the brunet pointed to the neat kanji on the page before the other, tapping the one for 'Thursday' – they were going over the days of the week. "It's 'Mokuyoubi', not 'Midoriirobi'. You basically just said 'Green-day.' Start again."

"Getsuyoubi, Kayoubi, Suiyoubi, Mokuyoubi, Kinyoubi, Doyoubi, Nichiyoubi."

"And again."

"Kaiba -"

"Again."

"Getsuyoubi, Kayoubi, Suiyoubi, Mokuyoubi, Kinyoubi, Doyoubi, Nichiyoubi." Yami rattled the days off, a little put-out by the brunet's insistence. "Kaiba -"

"Third day of the week?"

"Kaiba-"

"Third day?"

"Suiyoubi, but -"

"Final day?"

"Nichiyoubi. Kaiba, I -"

"Fourth?"

"Mid – Mokuyoubi. Kai-ba-"

"Second?"

"Kaiba!" Yami had grabbed his companion's shirt-front, sharply yanking the CEO from his little scholarly bubble of solemnity. "Shh!"

Coming from Yami 'shh' sounded more than a little ludicrous, but it was lack of vocabulary to be more derogatory that Kaiba quickly knew to be the reason for the word's usage, judging by the irritated gleam in crimson eyes (so much more obvious, close-up).

Kaiba raised his own hand, laying it over the one fisted in his shirt and trying to pry Yami's death-grip off of him. "What is it?" His tone was mild, belying his own annoyance at being grabbed in such a manner.

Yami's fingers only tightened in response, just to vex the CEO. "We are resting. Now." He wanted a break.

Yami was…an incredibly tactile person, and it surprised Kaiba. The Spirit was always touching things, gesturing, his responses physical ones. Was his behaviour born of his current lack of words, or had he always been so-?

"And what do you want to do on your 'rest'?"

Yami thought for a moment or two, expression distant, before focusing on the one before him again, challenge suddenly sparking in his eyes. "Duel?" The question was posed meekly, but the accompanying smile was so very arrogant, so very wicked, so very Yami (and Kaiba hadn't seen it for some time).

Kaiba's blood rose in response, unable to hide the sudden thrill that rushed through him at the thought of a duel with his rival, the adrenaline that coursed in his veins when Yami wore that look – 'beat me – if you can'. And then –

Cold. Realisation swept over him, drowning his rush and leaving his anticipation high and dry. "…Yugi has your deck." And Yugi was in New York.

"…Oh." Painful, disappointed silence.

"…Use some cards from my collection." Kaiba's 'kind' offer was born nearly entirely out of selfishness; it just so happened that he'd be pleasing Yami as well as himself by offering the ex-pharaoh a loan of some cards. (At least, that was what he told himself.)

Yami brightened at the suggestion, willingly waiting as Kaiba withdrew to fetch his briefcase full of cards. When the brunet brought them back Yami nigh-dived upon them, sifting through the mounds to create a deck. Kaiba moved off to give him a little privacy, reading a book whilst the other worked.

They dueled at a table together, using a mat, sitting opposite one another. Yami, still a little stilted in his speech, kept his comments rather brief, stating his moves and watching Kaiba's in almost perfect silence. The deck he'd chosen for himself was a composed mostly of monsters with the Dark attribute, a few Light and Fire sneaking in as Spellcasters and Warriors. A deck full of shadows and magic, heroes and legends. Yami's deck. Yami.

Kaiba was about halfway through the duel (though he didn't know that at the time) when he finally realised he had an unfair advantage over his opponent – Yami probably couldn't read the Japanese on the cards, which meant…he was playing by memory alone? Kaiba had always known Mouto had had an in-depth knowledge of a large portion of the card index (he was a walking encyclopaedia, and just as irritating), but Yami…to play with barely any aid from the wording –

Despite himself, Kaiba was impressed.

And then he was annoyed, as within six turns Yami neatly sent all his Dragons to the Graveyard and wiped out the last of his opponent's life points. With a deck that wasn't even his. When he couldn't even read the cards.

Kaiba declared an end to the lessons for the day, and swept off to his study to work. (He sulked for the rest of the afternoon.)


To Yami, suddenly thrust into a new body of his own, Domino felt like a new city. Everything was completely different as he looked at it all through his own eyes, standing on the ground with his own feet, his own warm breath spilling from his lips to dance as dragon-mist in the air. His own cheeks, flushed with pink by the wind, his own hands stuffed in his pockets, fingers curled up to keep them from the cold.

The people passing him by on the streets…they looked at him. Not Yugi, not a tablet, but him. Because he was standing there, on the streets of Domino, dressed in his new clothes, with the red scarf Mokuba had given him for Christmas wrapped around his neck, exploring surroundings he technically already knew with a childlike wonder. Because they were new, like this, and wonderful.

He'd left Mokuba at the Kaiba mansion, when he left to go out and wander. Yami had been going a little stir-crazy inside the manor's four walls, needing to feel the fresh air on his face (his face – his) and Mokuba had encouraged him to wander around. It wasn't like he could've pestered Kaiba for another lesson anyway – the brunet had gone to work, the Christmas period over and done with -, needing to catch up on the work he'd missed out on over his enforced break before New Year rolled around. (Mokuba could be very persuasive when he felt like it - there were benefits to being young and cute.)

It began to snow and Yami tilted his head back to watch the flakes falling from the sky, stretching out a hand and letting a few spots of white melt into the still-warm skin of his palm. The tiny spots vanished fast, little droplets of cold that had him smiling to himself, stationary amidst the moving traffic of people.

It snowed harder, drifts coming down in rapid lines that blurred the sky and all the surroundings. Umbrellas went up and crowds vanished, sliding into cars and buildings to avoid the flurry coming from the grey sky.

Yami…stood there, not quite sure what to do. It was a long walk back to the Kaiba mansion, and he was already beginning to get rather wet from the snow coming down so fast. Cold seeped through his jacket, jumper and pants, chilling his skin as his hair, growing heavy from all the extra moisture dumped in it by the melting snow, finally succumbed to gravity and began to wilt downwards to his shoulders.

"Yugi?" It was a curious voice that cut through the Spirit's musings, Yami twisting about to see a familiar face peering out at him from underneath a black umbrella, soft brown eyes looking deeply confused. Ryou. "Aren't you supposed to be in New York with Anzu?"

Ryou…was often left out of the loop.

"Yugi-kun?"

Yami turned properly, so he was facing the other youth, letting the perceptive gaze sweep over his face, his vivid eyes.

"Oh…" a soft pause, a few breaths –

And then 'Ryou' smirked, expression sharpening, and Yami scowled.

"Pharaoh."

"Thief." A swift nod as he looked away, Yami not in the mood for Bakura's baiting. And the other's sharp tongue – Bakura could easily outwit him in a battle of words, at that present moment in time.

"Does your little host let you out to play now?"

"Yugi is in America." Yami glanced back at the other for that, just to see the news settle in. "I am staying with Kaiba and Mokuba."

Bakura approached him, closing the umbrella he held and stuffing it in the bag belonging to his lighter half that he was carrying. The snow blended in perfectly with his hair, white gleaming and mingling, sharp and cold. "Tell me Pharaoh…" his gaze swept over the other's face, his clothes (clearly expensive) and back up to the other's face, a deeper smirk tugging at his lips, "what did the courteous Kaiba charge for the privilege of having you at his established home?"

Yami's brow drew down at that – the thief had spoken quickly, lowly, a little too much for Yami to catch all of it, and yet he'd caught enough of it to realise the question was loaded. "…What?" His accent rang clear in his voice, spelling out his ineptitude to even be in the current conversation, much to Bakura's glee.

"I'm saying, Pharaoh," and here the tomb-robber came even closer and Yami's prideful stubbornness prevented him from backing off, the end result being Bakura being close enough for Yami to feel the warmth of the other's breath in the falling snow. "…Or to be more correct, I'm heavily, heavily implying," red locked with brown - and damn Bakura and his damnable smirk! - "that you look like the official Kaiba pet-" brown dropped, razing all the areas on Yami's person that he suddenly felt exceedingly self-conscious about, Bakura smug, and satisfied and – "or would 'whore' be more appropriate?"

Yami slapped him, palm open, on the cheek. The crack of the impact sounded through the snow, resounding around and around the muffled world the weather created for the two of them, ancient spirits lost in the world of grey and white.

Bakura stumbled back a half-step, his own hands coming up automatically to nurse his smarting face. "Ra!" The acid comment flew out, poison-laced, as soon as Bakura's mind had gotten over its shock. "Can you get any more girly, Pharaoh? What's next – hair-pulling?"

Yami actually snarled at that, furious.

"And – look! Aren't you positively darling when you're angry?" Bakura's pride was sore from the slap, and the brief period of astonishment that had followed it. That the wretched pharaoh had managed to surprise him-! "I bet Kaiba-dearest keeps you riled up all the time so he's guaranteed a pretty tumble between the sheets when he's in the mood…or maybe up against the wall."

Yami's hands curled into fists at his side, his nails digging into his palms. "Shut. Your. Mouth."

"Or does he just prefer to bend you over his desk and fuck you that way?" Bakura laughed when the other actually ran at him, smoothly stepping to one side and catching hands aimed to slap, to claw and hurt, twisting them behind Yami's back and holding the Spirit. Bakura rocked against the other, taunting, smirking against the other's ear when the ex-pharaoh growled, incensed. "My..." and his voice was slinking, and low, and disgustingly superior, "don't you get around?"

Yami wiggled one arm free, and elbowed him. Directly in the gut, putting all the force behind it that he possibly could. He would've preferred to have instilled the Royal Boot somewhere a little further south, but beggars couldn't be choosers.

And then he took off, through the snow, leaving Bakura wheezing behind him. Yami dearly wished the thief would just fall over and asphyxiate under the snow, somehow miraculously sparing Ryou whilst he died a slow, exceedingly painful death.


"Kaiba-sama," the voice of Kaiba's secretary, Matsuoka Chiyo-san, sounded through the intercom on the man's desk, disturbing the brunet as he was halfway through reading a (rather dull) report sent up to him by his design department on their plans for the new edition of duel disk.

"What is it, Matsuoka?" Bored as he was, Kaiba managed to prevent any of his feelings leaking into his tone, impeccable as always.

"I am sorry to disturb you, Kaiba-sama, but there's a disturbance in the foyer."

Now that was irritating… "Matsuoka, why are you telling me this? There are guards in place down there to deal with disturbances – unless some idiot subordinate has fired them all without my knowledge?"

"No, Kaiba-sama, it is just…"

"What, Matsuoka?"

"Normally we'd have paged you about this man, as he's on your list to do so," that certainly narrowed down who it could be being a bother, "but…well, he looks different, and the receptionists are causing some fuss, and the guards aren't sure whether to have him removed or not." There was a brief pause. "And he's gaining quite a lot of attention."

"…Who is it?"

"He looks like Yugi Mouto, but there are these differences -"

Kaiba frowned. "Have Isono escort him up, Matsuoka."

"Kaiba-sama…?"

"I know him. Have Isono escort him up."

"At once, Kaiba-sama." The woman ended the conversation with a quiet 'click'.

Kaiba put away the report whilst he was waiting, rising from his chair to go and look out of the window that made up one side of his office. The lights of Domino City shone back at him through the snow, glimmering lights from all the buildings flickering through the flakes speeding past the glass.

What was Yami doing in the middle of the City in such weather…? The Kaiba mansion was on the very outskirts of Domino, and to have left the warmth of the manor to come to KaibaCorp…

Another 'click' from the intercom. "Kaiba-sama, Isono and…your guest are here."

"Send them in, Matsuoka."

"Yes, Kaiba-sama."

Barely a few minutes later the door to the office cracked open, two forms walking in – or rather, one form walking, and a drowned rat stealing in trailing water in its wake.

Kaiba raised an eyebrow at the bedraggled state of his rival, eyes sweeping across the lithe, rain-drenched form creating a most spectacular puddle on his carpet. The shivering, rain-drenched form, Yami clad in nought but sodden material.

"Isono," Kaiba spoke to his long-time guard, "please have it seen to that a large blanket is sent here as quickly as possible, and then take a short break. I should require you in about an hour and a half, approximately." Isono bowed, and left, and Kaiba looked over Yami once more. "…You're wet."

"Really?" So the drenched youth had enough vocabulary for sarcasm, brilliant.

"What are you doing here?"

Yami wrapped his arms around himself, droplets of water spraying around him at the motion. "I wanted a walk."

"In this weather?" Kaiba gestured to the snowstorm outside the window.

Yami looked a little sullen, glancing away. They stood in awkward silence like that, the standoff only broken when there was a knock on the door. Kaiba opened it, to find his secretary there, blanket in her hold.

He took it from her, accepting her polite nod. "Matsuoka-san, could you have a cup of coffee and a cup of sweetened tea sent up?"

"Yes, Kaiba-sama." She left, and Kaiba shut the door. He eyed his rival once more, blanket in hand. "…Strip."

"What?" Yami appeared to understand exactly what it was Kaiba had just told him to do, if his incredulous tone was anything to go by. Or perhaps it was just Bakura's words, slick and taunting, dancing mockingly through his mind, that caused the near-squeak.

"Strip," Kaiba repeated, shoving the blanket into the shorter male's hands, "before Matsuoka-san returns with the tea. Or would you rather divest yourself of all your clothing before a woman?"

Yami coloured, dark spots of pink spreading along his cheekbones. "I-"

"You," said Kaiba shortly, cutting the other off, "are going to get sick unless you lose the wet clothing immediately. I happen to dislike doctors and their unceasing prattle, so if you get ill, you're nursing yourself back to health, as I have neither the time nor the inclination to. So strip or get ill - it's your choice."

Yami got the gist of the CEO's little speech and, still pink, quickly came to his decision. "Turn away."

"I beg your pardon?"

"Turn away!" Flushed, Yami motioned for the other to avert his eyes and Kaiba did so, turning his back as the sounds of wet cloth hitting the floor echoed behind him. "…I'm done."

Kaiba turned back around, unsurprised to see the other wrapped very firmly in the blanket, seated on the couch near the door. His hair, still wet, hung around his face, his eyes burning as he dared Kaiba to pass a deprecating remark.

Kaiba to his credit, kept his mouth shut, scooping up the soggy clothes and going to the door just in time for his secretary to return with the drinks. Drinks and clothes were swapped, quick conversation and orders no doubt along with it, Yami ignoring everything (and feeling quite sorry for himself) until a steaming mug was placed in front of him.

"Since you dislike coffee, you may like this better." Kaiba had extended the sweetened tea. "There's probably enough sugar in there to give you cavities, but the heat of it will hopefully stop you getting ill."

"…Thank you." Yami took the tea from the brunet, feeling the warmth of the liquid bleed immediately from the mug to his cold hands.

"Don't thank me just because I refuse to catch cold off of an idiot." Kaiba returned to his desk, totally apathetic towards the exasperated eyes set on his back as he sipped his own coffee.

Yami spent close to an hour in the office. It was a mostly silent affair; there was little to no conversation, the only sound created by them sipping their drinks, and Kaiba typing on his computer. It was quiet, and it was peaceful, and Yami drained his mug, slowly warming up from his adventures in the snow. He was just began to drift off when there came another knock at the door, Yami snapping back to alertness when Kaiba called 'enter' and Matsuoka came in with a neatly-folded bundle of – were they his clothes?

Kaiba took them and sent his secretary away once more, before crossing over to Yami's seat. "Here," he extended the fresh clothes, pleased when his rival didn't question him for a change, taking the clothing immediately and turning his back on Kaiba so he could start pulling it on, The brunet caught a glimpse of a smooth, tanned back before he remembered he was supposed to be looking elsewhere, quickly finding a folder on his desk to occupy himself with as his companion changed. "…I'll call Isono to have you escorted home."

"Alright." Yami's voice was soft as he changed, the Spirit preoccupied with his belt, his half-dry hair, and his trousers. "I am done."

Kaiba quickly scanned the other before nodding once in agreement – he wasn't going to let the other out if he still looked like he'd been pulled up out of a sewer. He went to the intercom and asked Matsuoka to send Isono up, waiting patiently for his guard to arrive and take Yami back to the mansion.

"I will see you tonight?" Yami kept glancing at the door, waiting for Isono.

"When I get home, yes." Kaiba wished the other would stop looking away every few minutes – it was distracting. "I prefer not to sleep at my desk when I can help it, and Mokuba can nag so."

Yami smiled wanly at that. "Kaiba -"

Isono came in. Kaiba briefly outlined what he wanted the other to do. Isono and Yami left. Kaiba went back to work.

It was only half an hour later, and he was starting on a new cup of coffee, that Kaiba realised he'd called the mansion 'home' twice in reference to Yami's being there –

And Yami had agreed with him.