Warning ahead of time, there's very likely OOC in this. I'm not all that great at writing Kaiba's character.
Claiming no rights to Yu-Gi-Oh, of course.
The office, normally filled with the sounds of rustling paper, the frantic clacking of the keyboard, was mysteriously silent. This in itself was not entirely unusual – there were long periods of time in which the inhabitant of the office was away, and everything fell quiet. What made this time unique was that the CEO of KaibaCorp was sitting in the chair behind his desk, elbows resting on the desk, and a singularly frustrated expression on his face.
He couldn't work.
No matter how hard he tried, every time Seto attempted to write up the reports he was supposed to be doing, his mind invariably wandered to another topic. And so he had decided to stop for the moment, settling for staring angrily at the glowing screen of his laptop, where the cursor on his processing program was blinking mockingly at him.
"Shut up." He growled the words, as if by saying them he could rid himself of this inability to do anything.
The cursor continued blinking, oblivious to the increasingly irritated CEO that was watching it.
Kaiba let out a short, aggravated breath of air, running his hands through his hair – mussing it up even more than it already was. This, too, was out of the norm for the usually perfectly put together teenager. This wasn't the first time this week he had experienced this either – for the past five days, Kaiba had found himself coming into the office, and then been unable to keep his mind from wandering to that.
So far, he had managed to keep it from Mokuba – he managed to do just enough work every day to keep his frighteningly observant younger brother from noticing that something was wrong. Though, to be honest, he was sure that if this lasted much longer, the other Kaiba would notice something, and then he would be in for it. Seto could stand his ground with the most powerful men on the planet, but when it came to avoiding Mokuba's questions, he found himself strangely inarticulate.
None of this would be happening, he thought with a grimace, if he hadn't walked by at that particular moment.
The screen in front of him went black. Kaiba automatically reached out to wake it up again, but his finger stopped right over the pad, uncertain. Maybe if he just sat here and thought it through, he could push the problem to the back of his mind and get something productive done. Or just head home – it was after hours anyway, and the only reason he had stayed was to avoid running into him.
Kaiba couldn't stop the little shiver of both apprehension and anticipation that ran down his spine at the thought.
It had been an accidental run in. The CEO had completed his usual morning ritual of getting up at an insanely early, drinking a nearly lethal volume of coffee while reading the paper, and had grabbed his briefcase in preparation to leave. A misplaced file had kept him in the house longer than he had originally intended – twenty minutes longer, actually – and had also ended in that fateful, once in a million glance.
Seto hadn't counted on seeing anyone else up that early in the morning – the city was still smothered in purpling shadows, the streets still silent – and it had come as something as a surprise. For a moment he had stood frozen, unwilling to move as the other stared back at him with equal surprise, head tilted slightly to the side. They were the same height – that had been the first thing he had noticed. The other's hair was in more disarray than his own was, and he had felt his lip curl into a sneer. He had smiled too, in a way that might have been a smirk, and might have simply been sheepish.
Kaiba hadn't thought much of it at the time, simply nodded politely – the other did the same – and parted ways without so much as a goodbye. The other hadn't said anything either, seemingly content to watch Kaiba walk off with his purposeful stride. He had thought that would be the end of the incident – but it hadn't. Thoughts of that figure had haunted him, plaguing him with thoughts that he'd never really had before.
To say he had been confused was an understatement.
He hadn't seen the other when he had gotten home that evening. He hadn't said anything to Mokuba, who had known better than to bother him when he was so preoccupied. But the next morning, he hadn't been able to prevent himself from finding an excuse to leave twenty minutes later once again, with some sort of vague hope of saying something if he ran into the other again.
They had met once more, and he had offered a tentative wave that was more of a jerk of his arm. The other had smiled sheepishly even as he had, having raised his arm at the same time, and been equally as awkward. Kaiba had opened his mouth to say something, just as the other did, and paused. So had the other man, and the CEO, despite everything, couldn't help but let out a soft sound that might have – before it had atrophied – been a laugh. They hadn't said anything that time either, Kaiba walking away before he could lose his control. He hadn't ever been much of a conversationalist, and didn't want to be the first one to break the silence.
And so had much of the week passed – chance glimpses in the morning, sometimes fleeting ones during the day, always in the same spots, as if the other was following him. Neither of them had tried to make conversation yet. Anyone else might have found it strange, but the CEO didn't see anything wrong with it, perfectly content to muse about the other, with his mussed hair, thin frame, and tired, cold eyes.
They really weren't so different, after all.
The cursor on the screen was laughing at him, he was sure of it. With a grimace of irritation, Kaiba reached out and snapped the laptop shut. There. That would show it to mock him. Another sigh escaped him, and he stood slowly, running a hand through his hair, messing it up again. Perhaps he really should be getting home. It was nearly dark out, after all, and Mokuba would be calling –
The phone on the desk rang.
An amused look in his eyes, Seto reached for it, pressing the speaker button out of habit. The intimately familiar voice floated out, the only one that he ever allowed to chastise him.
"Seto, what are you still doing at work? It's nearly nine o'clock!"
"I'm leaving now, Mokuba," he said in a world-weary tone that suggested they had repeated this conversation ad nauseam. "I got – caught up, is all." Lie. He hadn't done all that much work today, too wrapped up in his own thoughts.
"Well, alright. It's not like it's the first time. Doubt it'll be the last. I'll see you soon." A dull click, indicating that the line was dead. Kaiba resisted the urge to roll his eyes – apparently Mokuba had adopted his habit of never saying "goodbye" before hanging up. The CEO glanced around the office as he picked up his briefcase, though not before carefully putting away the files he had been looking at. It wouldn't do to come up to a messy workplace in the morning, after all.
He wasn't sure what he was going to do – say something to the other this time around? He had rather been enjoying their mutual silence. It was better than Yugi's little group of cheerleaders, constantly yapping about unimportant things. Perhaps breaking the silence would somehow break the strange understanding the two of them – for all that they had never spoken – had. The other clearly spent too much time doing whatever it was he did during the day – his eyes, cold as they were, has a weary, exhausted look to them. His frame was tall, but skinny, as if he spent too little time eating. There was a wary set to his entire body as well, as if he was waiting for the next piece of bad news, the next disaster that would invariably end up involving him.
Oh, yes, Seto Kaiba mused as the elevator zoomed past the empty floors. The two of them had much in common.
His footsteps echoed noisily throughout the silent garage where he parked his own vehicle. After the first few times he had stayed four or five hours worth of overtime, he had seen the intelligence in simply driving himself home, rather than have a bunch of nervous drivers waiting around, cooling their heels and getting overtime for doing nothing. It wasn't much of a drive, really – ten minutes when he was going fast enough.
The streets of Domino were dying down at this hour. During daylight hours, the streets were clogged with traffic – exactly the reason that he generally refused to leave the office until it was well past sunset. Little droplets were spattering onto the windshield now, and his eyebrows drew momentarily downward into a scowl.
But the gentle drizzle didn't become any more than that by the time he had driven home. Now that he was no longer wrapped up in work – or the thoughts that plagued him daily – Kaiba could feel the weariness gnawing at his bones. He leaned back in the seat even though the vehicle was no longer moving, shutting his eyes for a moment. Sometimes, he thought, his life was more trouble than it was worth.
Eventually, he did pull himself from the car. Once upon a time, a younger Mokuba would have been waiting at the window, ready to run outside to greet his older brother. Now, there was only a lone light coming from the boy's room. Sighing – another unspoken lament for things passed – Kaiba strode to the door. It opened beneath his fingers, revealing the entrance hall. It was unlit as usual, and the CEO felt a vague twist of apprehension.
Tonight, he would try and break that silence between him and the nameless person who had stolen his thoughts for the past week, for better or for worse.
A muffled greeting echoed down the stairs, Mokuba informing him that he was "just finishing something up and would be down in a minute." Kaiba didn't see the need to respond, and simply placed his briefcase on the waiting table with a low thud.
Normally he would have waiting until a time when Mokuba wasn't around to do this – it wouldn't do to let his brother know what had so preoccupied him this past while, after all – but for some reason, he felt it couldn't wait. He left the lights in the hallway off – somehow it seemed more fitting in the dark. His steps were silent, even on the hardwood flooring, as he approached the spot where he and the other had seen one another since that first, awkward glance.
He raised his hand in a little wave – the other offered a wave and the tiniest twitch of a lip in response. Kaiba couldn't help but look him over briefly – there were shadows under those eyes now, shadows that hadn't been there the previous day. A little crack on his lip where he had obviously bitten through the skin. Kaiba moved closer, and the other followed suit, until they were very nearly touching in the dim light.
They stared at one another, each taking in the minute changes that had appeared over the course of one working day. Kaiba briefly wondered what the other thought of his own occupation – but dismissed it instantly. Any man that wore himself down to the bone as this one obviously had done clearly loved what he did before all else. The other's expression twitched slightly, and Kaiba wondered if he was perhaps laughing. He rolled his eyes, and the other, caught in a moment of embarrassment, did the same rather than admit it.
A sudden feeling of tension filled the space between them. It was now or never. Kaiba inhaled softly, and reached out a hand carefully. He hadn't ever been much for physical contact, but he felt in this case, it would be better. Seeing what he was doing, the other reached out as well, with the same tentative, unsure qualities, as if he too was nervous about this. The tips of their fingers met, and Kaiba was surprised at how cold the other's were. Somewhere in the higher levels of the house, someone turned on another light, and their dark area was splashed with a brilliant yellow. Both of them started, but neither broke contact.
The moment quivered, and held.
Kaiba leaned closer, so that their noses were nearly touching. The other did the same, an amused glint in his eyes – or perhaps that was the new light. He deliberated and then, with his usual decisiveness, opened his mouth to say something – a greeting, perhaps, or a casual question. The words were partially out of his mouth, and then –
"Big – brother? What're you doing to that mirror?"
In my defense, this wasn't my idea. It sprang from a conversation between myself and Fairy Struck. In which we determined that Seto Kaiba should never be paired with anyone, because the only one he could possibly fall in love with would be himself.
I apologize for the fiction on a whole. It isn't my usual style, that's for sure. And I shan't be butchering Kaiba's character with my attempts again. Bakura is much more fun to write. XD