Hooray, another fluffy Seto and Mokuba fic. It's a bit similar to my first one, but personally, I like it. Once again, slightly "Snuggles"-inspired. Takes place after the "Pyramid of Light" incident.
Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! belongs to Kazuki Takahashi.
(By the way, for those people waiting on the next chapter of "Holding Back" - it's written, but not typed. No, it has not died. So rest assured that it will appear, unless some freak disaster conspires to make things otherwise.)
Tears in the Night
Mokuba's bare feet padded lightly across the carpet on their return journey from the bathroom, his eyes sleepily taking in the shadowed hallway. Most of the scenery, if it could be termed that, was lost in a pastel blend of blurred blue and grey. The sole exception was the far end of the hall, where a single tall window allowed latticed patterns of moonlight to knife their way through early morning's dark blanket.
Little of this registered with the still sleep-muddled Mokuba. However, he was alert enough to notice that the door of his brother's room was open. He paused next to the portal in question. It was odd, really - Seto had a strict policy of keeping his door closed, though he had never bothered to explain why.
Well, I'll just close it for him, I guess, Mokuba decided. Hoping fervently that the other wouldn't wake, he tiptoed over into the doorway.
That was when his ears began picking up soft, muffled noises from inside. Mokuba hesitated, then cautiously peered around the door.
He could see his elder brother's silhouette against the window, sitting upright on the bed with his back to the doorway. The other's head was bowed, his shoulders seemed to be shaking slightly, and the sounds were more distinct now -
Seto was crying.
For a moment (or it might have been several), Mokuba remained where he was, disbelieving. His brother never cried - sometimes he wondered if the other was even capable of it. Showing this much - well, Seto would have called it weakness - was an alien concept to his brother, like forgiving his enemies or giving up on his rivalry with Yugi.
Unsure, Mokuba edged further into the room. Kaiba made no move to indicate he was even aware of his brother's presence.
"Seto?" Mokuba whispered tentatively. Still nothing.
Undeterred, he climbed onto the bed and moved across it to the other side, his knees sinking slightly into the mattress as it yielded to his weight. Coming up beside his brother, Mokuba realized that there was definitely something wrong. It wasn't just scattered sobs - from what he could see of Seto's shadowed features, the other was crying rather forcefully. An abundance of tears was practically pouring from his eyes, leaving dark, sinuous trails down his face.
With growing concern, the younger Kaiba leaned back on his heels and put a caring hand on his brother's shoulder. "Seto - Seto, what's wrong?" He could feel the other shaking under his touch.
Kaiba merely turned his head away.
"C'mon, Seto!" Mokuba shook his shoulder gently, taking a firmer tone. "You'd as soon start crying like this as -" He paused, searching for an analogy strong enough to describe his sentiments. "- as deliberately hurt me!"
Finally, his brother spoke. "If that's the case," Seto whispered, "then I've got a damn good reason for this."
It took Mokuba a moment to understand this statement. "What're you -" he began, then broke off as realization dawned. "Wait," he said slowly. "You've been holding this in - for a week?"
Kaiba neither denied nor confirmed this, but that was confirmation in and of itself.
Mokuba sighed. "Seto, I'm fine. See?" He bounced up and down on the bed several times in demonstration of his health. "You didn't hurt me." Well, not physically, at least, he amended to himself.
His brother seemed to be thinking along the same lines, because he said softly, "The hell I didn't."
"You're the one who got hurt, not me!"
"I damn near killed you!"
"No -" But the word was hollow with lies. It was true, and Mokuba knew it - he could easily have died. He tried to come up with another strategy. "But, it's not like you were yourself at the time -"
"Damn it, Mokuba, stop making excuses!" Seto's voice was distorted with tears. "I don't know what the hell happened to me - but I'll tell you that I knew exactly what I was doing." He seemed to shudder, struggling to control the flow of anguish down his face as he let out a quivering breath.
Mokuba remained silent for a moment, his fingers making tiny creases in the fabric of his brother's shirt as they kneaded his shoulder gently. He didn't really know what to say - it was hard, when he'd never had to deal with a situation like this before.
"So," he said slowly, wanting to clarify something but choosing his words carefully, "You only care that I might've been hurt? Not - anyone else?"
There was a hint of contempt as well as remorse in Kaiba's voice this time. "You know I don't give a damn about Yugi's so-called -"
"Please, Seto, stop swearing," Mokuba broke in pleadingly; in retrospect, it hadn't been the best question to ask. "It isn't helping anything." Some part of him want to to tell his brother to get a grip on himself, but he didn't think that would help much either.
Seto leaned forward slightly, away from Mokuba's touch, dropping his face into his hands. "You could've died, Mokuba, " he sobbed, his voice muffled - actually sobbed, and the younger Kaiba hated how broken the other's tone sounded. After that brief moment of anger, Seto seemed just as stricken as before.
"Seto -" Mokuba began, but the other seemed not to hear him, because he whispered, "And even defeating Yugi isn't worth that."
Mokuba could only stare in astonishment at the back of his brother's head, even though his legs were cramping up from kneeling and begged for movement. That was a blatant and probably bitter admission for Seto, and more than the younger Kaiba had ever expected to hear. His brother must really be shaken to make such a concession. Obviously there were a few things that took priority over Seto's obsession with defeating Yugi - and Mokuba absolutely considered himself to be one of them - but they numbered only a handful, and till now had been more or less implied.
Silently, Mokuba inched forward and draped his arms loosely about his brother's neck from behind. In this position, the other's trembling was painfully obvious.
"Seto," he said quietly, but firmly, "I don't blame you for what happened. Whatever you might say, I know you weren't really yourself. You've got to stop beating yourself up about this. I mean, yeah, sometimes you take this thing with Yugi a little too far - but if anybody understands that, I do. So - just try to - let this go a bit, okay?"
Kaiba's hand reached over uncertainly to rest on those of his little brother.
"It'll be okay, Seto," murmured Mokuba. Unwaveringly, he softly tugged his brother's hands from his face and placed his own palm against Seto's cheek, turning the other's head towards him. Kaiba resisted the pressure only briefly before yielding and allowing the movement. Their eyes met. Deliberately, Mokuba reached up with his other hand and brushed away the tears that still lingered on his elder brother's face.
"Thanks, Mokuba," Seto said in a low voice, his tormented eyes softening a bit.
"No problem," Mokuba replied, winking. "You should get some sleep, bro," he added.
"Like that'll happen now," muttered Kaiba, sighing.
"C'mon!" Mokuba pulled at his brother's arm. Seto let out a feeble noise of protest, but lay back against the pillow. Mokuba proceeded to pull the sheets over him.
"I don't need to be tucked in," Seto pointed out patiently, closing his eyes.
"Oh. Sorry." His brother fairly scooted under the covers beside him. "I didn't realize how cold it was till I got under here," he snorted, mentally observing that the other seemed to have regained his normal temperament.
Seto cracked one eye open. "Aren't you a little old for this childish behavior?" he inquired skeptically.
Mokuba did not reply, but snuggled closer, tucking his head against his brother's chest. One hand reached out to touch the locket still (and, he hoped, forever) around Seto's neck. "Shh," he murmured, drowning out the other's sigh. "I'm trying to sleep."
The last thing Mokuba felt before drifting off was Seto's arm drawing him into its protective circle of warmth.
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