DOI.

I'm going to be relatively unapologetic about the abrupt POV changes. And plot holes.

This is unbeta'd and I'm too lazy to go through and try and comb out all the snares, so if you come across any, just drop me a line of constructive criticism and there's a possibility I might go back and fix something.

Otherwise...synopsis? Eventually, Anzu's going to get stuck at Kaiba's House due to a (likely contrived) plot device of my choosing. And then...?

Stay tuned, dear readers.


Rapid Oxidation

Anzu ran into him often enough after school that she felt fairly comfortable calling it routine now. After the initial handful of times they'd accidentally run into each other, he'd figured out that this was the way she took to go home, and had apparently decided to use the knowledge to his advantage. She didn't mind; on the contrary, she thought it was cute that he seemed to be sweet on her, and given enough time, she was beginning to entertain the idea that he'd maybe want to hang out with her and the guys on occasion. Not overmuch, of course; Jou and Honda could hardly be trusted with an impressionable youth. She couldn't expect them to act at all mature around him, and she wouldn't put it past them to try and irreversibly corrupt the boy –both simply for amusement's sake and also possibly to spite his notoriously depraved older brother. She shuddered to think what said older brother might do to them if he ever figured out that they'd had the gall even to breathe the same air as his cherished sibling, let alone that she'd been semi-regularly hanging out with him for a few months now (though how he wasn't already aware was somewhat of a mystery to her, but she supposed it wouldn't be entirely surprising that perhaps the kid was exercising some discretion about the matter…). Perhaps it would be best to put off introducing the little millionaire to her friends for a while…

"Yeeeech! This one's nasty!" She snapped back to the present, where currently Kaiba Mokuba was screwing his face up in comical –albeit adorable—revulsion beside her on the lip of the plaza fountain.

"Well, that's the thing with candy corn. You either love it or you hate it. Guess I know what not to get you for Halloween…here, try this one." She placed a lychee-flavored gummy candy (a personal favorite of hers) onto his palm and smiled somewhat ruefully. If she thought Kaiba'd have a conniption fit seeing the two of them together, he'd really love that for several weeks now she'd come armed to the teeth with various and assorted sugary treats for his kid brother. He'd probably manage to accuse her of both trying to poison Mokuba with processed, peasant refuse and of actively plotting to rot those pristine baby teeth straight out of the kid's head. And then of course he'd call her all manner of horrifying, untrue, and downright offensive names, drag Mokuba off to his corporate fortress, and that would be the last time she saw the adorable little guy. She supposed the reaction would be the same regardless of what she had or had not been feeding him, however, and the fact of the matter remained that Mokuba had been severely and tragically sweetie-deprived, and she had made it her solemn mission to educate him thoroughly about the Sacred Arts of Saccharine in the hopes that she might undo (or prevent) the inevitable trauma of being the younger sibling of someone so bitterly nefarious as Kaiba Seto.

He seemed normal and well-adjusted enough, she thought, slanting him a quick look as he mulled the flavor of the green treat with an endearingly determined expression on his face. He was remarkably charming despite the influence of his overbearing brother, but there was no telling what socially-stunting machinations Kaiba might have planned for him in the future. Her sole directive was to subvert that eventuality, and she certainly didn't mind the responsibility.

"Delicious!" He declared, and she handed him the rest of the bag smilingly. He blinked up at her from underneath unruly bangs. "When're we going to dinner?" He wondered, even as his hand disappeared into the package. She put on a mock-stern expression and glowered down at him.

"Not until you finish all your candy, young man." He giggled, and she waggled her finger at him. "This is no laughing matter, sir. A growing boy needs his gratuitous sweets. You will empty that bag or you'll have no dinner at all." He was now openly laughing at her playfully puckered lips and puffed out cheeks, the stiff way she held herself with her arms at jutting angles at her hips. She must've been a sight to see.

Her impression lasted a moment or two more while he dutifully munched on the gummies, and then he returned the package to her and pleaded to be let off the hook just this once. Sliding him a sly, askance look,

"I suppose…but don't expect me to be so lenient next time, mister." Anzu returned the remnants to her purse and then hopped off the fountain to face him. She did some mental calculations in her head to make sure she'd have enough to pay for the both of them, and then prepared a quick list of restaurants to recommend that she thought fit her budget.

She was just as excited as Mokuba was, really; it was the first time he'd agreed to extend their time together. Usually, he kept her company for about an hour until it was time for him to be picked up by his brother (or, at the very least, his brother's driver), and she'd always managed to avoid run-ins with the elder Kaiba by escaping in a timely fashion approximately five minutes before the car appeared. Mokuba seemed to understand that she and his brother didn't exactly…get along, and he never mentioned it and was sweet enough to assure her that he didn't mind her skipping out a bit early. Still, it was eerie that Kaiba had never shown up a few moments early and caught them together –his punctuality was a little alarming. Also, she'd always had this fantastic notion that he had some lethal bodyguard-assassin lurking somewhere just out of sight, shadowing Mokuba's every move and reporting directly to Kaiba himself about the company he chose to keep…it just didn't seem possible that she'd managed to slip under his radar for so long.

Today, apparently his older brother was using the car to transport himself across town to an important meeting, and Anzu had used the opportunity to invite Mokuba to a meal instead of walking home. He'd consented enthusiastically.

Just as she opened her mouth to make her dining suggestions, something moved across her field of vision a bit beyond Mokuba.

"Look, Mokuba, it's a kitten!" She pointed excitedly, revealing her weakness for small, fuzzy, helpless creatures. And drat it all if it didn't prove to distract her at the critical moment, when she could have been paying attention to her surroundings, and perhaps maintaining her happy place beneath the notice of evil, supposed-to-be-across-town CEOs—

"Look, Mokuba, it's a vapid harlot." Sneered Kaiba, who appeared in true Ice-Bastard form by announcing his presence with a totally undeserved insult delivered from beyond her line of sight, which sent her hurtling forward several startled steps until her shin encountered –quite painfully—the fountain upon which Mokuba was sitting. A stab of white hot pain almost made her forget herself, but a flash of those concerned Mokuba puppy eyes and she swallowed both the obscenity that wanted so badly to escape as well as the urge to spin gracefully and execute a violent maneuver somewhere in the vicinity of Kaiba's midsection, in an earnest wish to do some good for the world by potentially rendering him incapable of breeding.

"And your charming brother, who tortures the meek and shuns happiness." With a deliberate movement she hoped would irk the blue-eyed bane of her existence, she knelt beside the younger Kaiba (ignoring the residual ache of her shin) and affectionately swept his wild hair behind his ears with her hands, caging his face delicately and regarding him with mock sincerity. "You unforgivably sweet young man, how can you be related to the enemy of all things good?" Mokuba chuckled sweetly.

Kaiba might have snorted indignantly if the very notion of such a thing weren't so very far beneath him that the thought hadn't even managed to travel from one synapse to the next without being violently murdered on the way. As it was, the only part of Mazaki's effrontery that affected him in the least was the fact that she was still touching his brother with those doubtlessly filthy hands of hers, laughing and joking with him as if they'd been the best of friends for years.

"We're leaving now, Mokuba." He said curtly, deciding to exercise some restraint and not forcibly detach Mazaki from his brother's person. "Let's go." He started walking back in the direction of the limousine, expecting his younger sibling to follow.

Instead,

"But, Seto…Anzu was gonna take me to dinner." That stopped him in his tracks and had him spinning sharply. His eyes were on Mazaki, who was just standing again. When she flinched back in startlement at his sudden proximity, he crossed his arms and smirked, satisfied at her reaction until she realized her mistake and recovered by mirroring his pose, sans the smug grin. He scowled again.

"While I realize that whatever male attention you can garner is important to you, my brother, I'm afraid, is much too young for you, even if your mental capacities tend not to exceed the average competence exhibited by someone his age." She bristled, hands curling into fists, heat burning into her cheeks at the unwarranted harangue.

"I'm just taking him out for a little bit of fun, you big jerk! You have your obnoxious ego to keep you company, I realize, but that shouldn't mean Mokuba has to keep to himself after your example! He's allowed to make friends with whomever he likes—"

Kaiba took an encroaching step forward, eyes dark with menace.

"Do not, Mazaki, ever presume to tell me what my little brother needs." The way his brow furrowed foretold further harassment and intimidation, perhaps an eloquent and terrorizing summation statement to cap off their hostile interaction, but his attentions were diverted by the little boy suddenly attached to his trench coat, looking up at him with steadfast, imploring eyes that he was unable –and unwilling, she realized—to ignore.

"Seto…" Mokuba warned, though his tone was more entreaty than threat. For his part, Kaiba stepped back, yielding her personal space exclusively to her once more, and put his hand with staid affection on his kid brother's head, absently ruffling the untamable jet black locks that she had always theorized –and secretly hoped—meant that they were not, in fact, genetically related. When at last he deigned to look back at Anzu, his gaze was sharp and tinged with aggravation, which now apparently came in Prussian blue.

"Fine. I will allow you to take Mokuba for an evening meal and nothing more. Transportation to and from a restaurant of his choosing is now conveniently available for you," he indicated the limo at the curb behind him, "and you will have one hour to complete this venture before I return to retrieve my brother and leave you stranded—" a quick tug on his trench coat had him backtracking begrudgingly, almost forcing the words from his mouth at the silent behest of the one human being on the planet he could stomach admitting that he cherished (if not in so many words than certainly by frequent and witting demonstration), "and drop you off at home immediately thereafter." His tone was unequivocal, his words final.

But the girl was not, apparently, finished annoying him with her inane questions. In fact, she looked somewhat wary, perhaps a bit troubled as she spoke,

"Does that…if you're letting us use the limo you came here in, does that mean you're…going to eat with us?" He found himself marginally impressed that she'd managed to ask a relevant question, even if it was still, by its very nature, preposterous. As if he would ever suffer her company for any length of time, Mokuba or no.

"Don't be insipid. I have work to keep me occupied. Don't think that means I won't be watching the time, however." He noted the way her shoulders visibly relaxed, the apparent tension of her supposition no longer weighing on her. It was only because he was watching her that his eyes traced the smooth column of her throat as she casually flipped her short hair in a gesture he recognized as annoying, unnecessary habit.

"You don't always have to be such a spoil-sport, you know, Kaiba. Eating dinner isn't exactly a waste of time, and I was just curious, anyway. I wasn't inviting you." He rankled and almost rose to the latent challenge in her words before he realized she probably didn't even understand that she'd extended one, and furthermore, that he'd already resolved never to willingly be around her for longer than was absolutely necessary. Speaking of which…

"By my count, you've already wasted two minutes." He narrowed his eyes in response to the way hers rolled in what was clearly flippant dismissal. He was equally unhappy when she reached out a hand and beamed dazzlingly down at Mokuba, who latched onto the outstretched appendage in a flash, both seemingly ignoring his last comment.

"Shall we, Kaiba-sama?" She wondered dotingly, in an absurdly mellifluous tone that made the young CEO's fists clench compulsively. The honorific sounded odd and incongruous coming from her, even in jest, since she always called his brother by his given name and him by the very same surname to which she had just attached the respectful title. In that saccharine-sweet voice that none of his manifold business associates, co-workers, or underlings (who more regularly referred to him with such deferential titles) would ever employ in his presence.

Gods but she was annoying, he thought, and then turned away from the scene to make tracks back to his waiting vehicle, annoyed that he'd spared even half a thought to anything the teenaged girl had said, especially something so outrageously inconsequential.

He heard Mokuba and Mazaki talking animatedly behind him, and more softly, their mismatched treads as they followed him back to the limo. He ignored both and produced his cell-phone, ready to get back to work after he delivered terse instructions to the driver. Then he climbed into the back and started shuffling through folders to organize them for later, when he was in the privacy of his home office and could devote his full attention to them. It was an easy thing to tune out the mindless chatter of Mazaki as she told Mokuba stories about some idiotic thing or other her halfwit friends (perhaps excepting Mutou, if he was feeling generous, which he was not) had done at school that day. Some few moments later, both she and Mokuba had vacated the vehicle, anyway, his little brother tossing him a wide grin and a quick wave as he hopped out, and he took a moment to bask in the relative tranquility of the empty car.

Glaring at where the two had exited, he set his watch for an hour and fifteen minutes.


Next chapter: Anzu loses all her worldly possessions and Kaiba's day goes from bad to worse.

Ba-dum.