Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh! or any of the copyrighted stuff.
A/N: I just realized at 3 AM that I had forgotten to write anything for Seto's birthday. Again. But since it's nearing my own birthday too, I figured putting this in somewhere around halfway between would be okay too. XD
… AKA I'm procrastinating further the writing of an essay on which I have 5 hours and counting left to finish. I'm either a masochist or love pushing myself to the limits or something.
Oh and this is obviously third-person but written more from Seto's vantage point… Let me know how I did on getting into his head. XD
Last Chance Alliance
Oh, god… This will not end well.
If Mokuba hadn't given the staff the day off, Seto was sure they would have been thinking the same thing upon seeing the boxes the kid had been carrying into the house in the past half hour alone. As usual, he had gotten an idea into his head and acted without thinking twice. Seto usually didn't mind because it was rarely ever anything this… well, dangerous.
And then there was the fact that he refused any help. Seto had tried to offer to hire professionals in his effort to dissuade his younger brother but nothing had worked. Mokuba insisted on doing everything himself, probably out of some desire to not seem helpless.
Seto made a mental note to get the kid karate lessons or something so he would avoid developing complexes like this in the future.
Of course, the more Seto tried to argue logic, the more illogical Mokuba became, bartering with pouting and threatening tears until Seto wanted to pull his hair out. How did people without a security staff usually get their younger brothers to behave?
So it was probably inevitable that Seto's logical mind would arrive on the conclusion. Then, being Seto, it was also inevitable that he would cringe away from this conclusion and spend the next ten minutes trying to think of a different one. Not necessarily a better one, just another one so he wouldn't have to put himself through this agony, but in the end even he had to admit when he had no other option left.
It was only a six-minute limo ride to the Kame Game Shop but since Mokuba had given all of the staff the day off, that included the limo driver. Seto made a mental note to have words with all of them later along the lines of, "Let my little brother give you the day off without consulting me again and when you get back, I'll give you the rest of your lives off."
Of course, Seto had a garage full of finely tuned, quite expensive automobiles, but without the security staff, it would be all but impossible to locate the appropriate keys without walking around the garage for an hour while clicking the unlock button to see if anything responded. And this was a dire situation; he didn't have an hour. For all he knew, he didn't have six minutes.
Trying to find somewhere to land a helicopter near Domino Park was a lot harder than it sounded. Twice he had debated crushing a pedestrian or two who were standing there pointing and staring like idiots – it wasn't like they didn't deserve it, after all – and once he had nearly tried to land on top of a Hummer just to see which vehicle would win that confrontation but had decided against both. Not because he was afraid of facing criminal charges or anything but because if the helicopter was damaged or impounded, he would have to walk all the way back to the mansion. Or worse yet… the bus.
Seto tried not to flinch at the thought. Kaibas did not walk and they most definitely did not take public transit.
Finally, after eight minutes, Seto was so furious that this was taking longer than a limo ride that he did the first thing he could think of: landed on the roof.
"What the heck?!" demanded a random Chinese girl who happened to be on the sidewalk just outside the store.
Seto glared. "What? Have you never seen a billionaire land a helicopter on the roof of a game shop before?"
"… Uh, no, and I don't think anyone else in the free world has, either."
"… You're fired!"
The Chinese girl stared. "I don't work for you!"
"Fine, then would you like a job?"
"No, I'm fourteen!"
"Then shut up and go away!"
The Chinese girl stared at Seto like she thought he was totally insane (which really she probably was, and who could blame her?) and walked away, shaking her head.
Seto just glared after her. "What's a random Chinese girl doing in Japan, anyway?"[*]
The faces of Yugi and his friends were incredulous as they came out onto the sidewalk to look up. Seto wasn't surprised that Joey was the only one really stupid enough to be wondering who would be landing a helicopter on the roof of this decrepit little excuse for a game shop. Muto really ought to be flattered at the attention – Seto was probably doubling the number of people who had walked into the place this month.
"Kaiba, what are you doing?!" Yugi asked with a look of shock on his face. Shock; Seto supposed that was a good enough reaction. He would have preferred fear or reverence but one man could only have so much in the world.
Trying not to grimace at the words he was letting slip past his teeth, Seto grumbled, "Loathe though I am to utter these words, Yugi, I need your help."
Huh. More shock. And a totally blank look from the dog. Well, at least that was to be expected – Yugi would probably have to spend an hour or two after this little exchange to explain everything that had happened to the blond numbskull.
"Help?" Yugi finally asked, blinking and still looking confused. "What's wrong?"
Then Seto realized why they were all looking so shocked. Not because he had just landed a helicopter on the roof without even bothering to paint a circle with an H on it first but because his expression currently mirrored that of someone who thought he was facing the apocalypse within the next eight point two seconds. Which in fact might be what was about to happen if…
"Yeah, did the city finally get wise and decide to burn you at the stake for overcharging them on Duel Disks or something?" Joey put in. Of course his little tirade would have to interrupt Seto's train of thought. The mutt did seem to live to tick Seto off at every available opportunity.
"No, Wheeler," Seto shot back, somehow making the name sound like an insult in that subtle way of his.
"Well, what, then?" Tristan asked, frowning. "Did you run out of places to park your helicopter?"
Seto's glare just got darker as he tried to find the words to properly explain this. "No. Mokuba…"
"Is Mokuba alright?" Téa asked worriedly.
"For now, as far as I know," Seto said slowly.
Now Yugi was frowning, too. "What do you mean, Kaiba? Was he kidnapped again?"
"No, he's at home…"
"Then what's the problem?!" Joey demanded, annoyed when he didn't understand what was going on. Not that Seto knew why; the idiot had an amazing ability to not understand things so he should be used to it by now.
Seto tried not to grimace as he explained, "Mokuba… is baking."
Dead silence reigned for about three seconds as the four teenagers on the sidewalk stared up at the obviously insane billionaire on the roof. Joey and Tristan looked like they were trying to figure out when Kaiba had flipped his lid. Téa and Yugi restrained their expressions to just plain confusion but it was pretty obvious they were wondering if they should be calling men in white coats or something.
Naturally, Joey recovered first.
"Mokuba's… what, now?"
"Baking," Seto ground out through his teeth again, cursing torrents in his mind for having to explain this to a bunch of imbeciles. "He's insisting on… making my birthday cake."
Dead silence again. Tristan started smirking like he was trying hard not to burst out laughing. Noting this, Seto only made his glare darker as he added, "He's very insistent. He gave every member of the staff the day off this morning because he thought I wouldn't be able to stop him without help."
"Um… Well, Kaiba… I mean, what's so bad about a little cake?" Téa asked tentatively, obviously wondering why the usually stoic teen was losing his composure over something so simple.
"You don't know Mokuba," Seto said with a grimace. "He's ordered boxes. And not boxes of cake mix – boxes of flour and sugar and crates of eggs. Crates. I don't know where he thinks he's going to be able to mix together all of it, much less find an oven big enough to bake it, but we're not talking about some five-dollar cake mix out of a box. Have you heard of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Plaza in New York City? Is that just a little tree?"
Yugi wasn't sure whether to look more scared at the prospect of Mokuba baking or that Seto was overlooking something really, really glaringly obvious here. "… So you left an eleven-year-old alone in your house unsupervised with enough ingredients to make a cake the size of the Rockefeller Plaza Christmas tree?"
At those words, Kaiba went as pale as Bakura, who is not in this story because he is busy off doing British things. "… Crap…"
"Is Mokuba gonna blow up Kaiba's house?" Joey asked, sounding hopeful. Seto shot him a glare but it was Yugi who spoke first. Probably to keep a Seto-Joey war of words from beginning that would distract them all from saving Kaiba's mansion.
"Of course not – come on, let's go talk to him!"
How exactly they all fit into Seto's helicopter is anyone's guess, but they all managed it to get off of Pegasus's island and somehow they managed it again now. Knowing Seto, it probably involved strapping Joey to one of the chopper blades or something. At any rate, they all reached the Kaiba mansion in one piece.
"Well, it looks like the place is still standing," Joey observed, sounding disappointed.
"Of course it is, don't be stupid," Seto snapped.
"If you knew it was gonna be, why were you so worried, huh, Kaiba?" Joey demanded with a glare.
Seto glared right back, icy blue daggers against dark brown curses. It was impossible to say who would have won if Yugi hadn't again stepped between them. Of course, both claimed victory in their own minds, anyway.
"Let's just go make sure Mokuba's okay, alright, guys?" he asked with a giant anime sweatdrop.
You could almost hear the beginnings of a friendship speech forming in Téa's mind or they might not have agreed so quickly. Seto opened the door warily, prepared for an explosion of flour or something similar, but the front foyer, at least, was completely normal. Huh. Maybe he had overreacted, after all.
Then he got to the kitchen and knew that was a bad assessment. If anything, he had underreacted.
Even Yugi couldn't find words for this. He just stood with wide violet eyes, staring at havoc that looked like it had been wreaked by two hurricanes, a twister, and another eruption of Mt. St. Helen's. White powder coated the entire kitchen from ceiling to floor. Something sticky that might possibly be vanilla extract left dark lines in the powder and bright yellow patches that could only have come from eggs were splattered across the walls and floor. The ones above the stove looked like they had been fried onto the wall somehow.
Seto's genius-level vocabulary betrayed him. He knew nothing to say to this, nothing that could even begin to convey his shock. Had that oven blown up?!
It shouldn't have been surprising that Joey, the master of chaos, was the only one who could find his voice.
"… Did a bake shop explode in here or what?"
At that, there was a sudden crashing sound of many metal pots and pans all at once. At first, nobody could figure out where the sound came from. Then Seto abruptly remembered the pantry and hurried to open the door.
Joey, Tristan, and Téa broke out into simultaneous screams. Téa ducked behind Yugi to hide; Joey and Tristan both tried to leap into each other's arms at the same time and consequentially wound up on the floor with bruised foreheads. Even Seto's eyes widened as he reflexively took a step back in shock, which if you think about it is quite a reaction coming from him.
"The pots-and-pans robots! I told you they were real!" Joey yelled, pointing at what had just emerged from the pantry.
"Shut up, you moron," Seto growled now that he had figured out what had just emerged from the pantry. By the look on Joey's face, it was obvious he still didn't get it until the "pots-and-pans robot" spoke in Mokuba's voice.
"Big brother? I'm kinda stuck…"
Tristan's jaw fell open. "The robots have taken Mokuba!"
Seto shot him a scathing look and tried to figure out how to free Mokuba from the mass of assorted steel and cast-iron cookware. This was complicated by the fact that Mokuba himself seemed to be covered in the same fragmented mixture that coated the entire kitchen, plus about a gallon of canola oil that was making it really hard to hold onto him.
"Wh – Mokuba – how did you even end up in there?!" Seto demanded as he worked.
"I slipped… You know, oil is really slippery."
"You realize we're probably going to have to cut this crap out of your hair, right?"
Joey snickered. "Kaiba, you sound like a middle-aged housewife!"
Before Seto could start yet another argument, Tristan said quickly, "But it's okay, right? I mean, you've got a huge mess to clean up, but everything's fine and Mokuba's not gonna try cooking again anytime soon."
Mokuba blinked. "What do you mean? I'm not done! The oven wasn't big enough so I decided to put the cake in one of the temperature-controlled product assembly rooms!"
Seto dropped the frying pan he was holding on Joey's foot – though that might not have been entirely accidental but no one could prove it – and stared at his brother. "One of the assembly rooms?!"
Mokuba's eyes abruptly went very big and round then, his mouth curling into a pout. "It was the only place big enough!"
Seto's anger at having his beloved technology in danger warred with his vulnerability to Mokuba's puppy dog face. The kid could have screwed up enough to set him back six months! But dang it, that face…
"Let's just go see how much damage there is," Seto grumbled, trying to keep that end-of-the-world-level-cataclysm look out of his face. Judging by the way Joey kept snickering, he was probably failing.
Seto ground his teeth as he approached the product assembly rooms, a very slippery Mokuba and Yugi and his friends all following. Probably they were waiting to make sure he wasn't about to throttle his little brother for ruining his machinery or something stupid like that.
"Which room did you put it in, Mokuba?" he asked through his set jaw.
"Um, three, I think?" Mokuba responded uncertainly.
Seto just clenched his teeth harder. Room three; that was where the prototypes on his new dueling system were being kept. Three of them. In the middle of a very specifically temperature-controlled room. Screw being set back six months, this could take six years to fix.
Taking a deep breath, Seto opened the door and tried to brace himself for the worst.
It was far, far worse than he imagined.
"Happy birthday, Kaiba!" Yugi and the others cheered.
Somebody threw a box of confetti at him. Most of it wound up stuck in his hair, not that he cared, but what got caught in the lining of his trench coat would probably take forever to get out. Not that he should really care about that either because it would be the dry cleaner's problem, but it was something to add to the list of offenses he wanted to kill them all for.
"Ha, we gotcha good, didn't we, Kaiba?" Joey asked with a huge grin as he proceeded to half choke Seto and half mess up his hair.
Seto twitched and forced himself not to kill the blond riffraff. It would upset Mokuba. Two beats passed during which he reminded himself that even though he could afford therapy, Mokuba didn't need to endure it, and then he growled, "Wheeler, keep your hands off me or I will remove them the hard way."
"Oh, come on, wasn't it a fun surprise, big brother?" Mokuba asked, turning on the puppy dog face again as he gestured around at the miniature party he had set up in the back of the mansion. Even some of the staff was here – Seto wondered how much the kid had had to pay them to show up.
"I really thought you would figure it out when Joey started screaming about pots-and-pans robots," Yugi choked out as he laughed.
"I can't believe you really bought it!" Tristan added in glee though he was somewhat more intelligent than to actually try to touch Seto. At the moment the grouchy billionaire looked quite capable of ripping someone's arm off.
"This was all a trick," Seto said slowly, as if it required clarification.
"Well, yeah," Joey said with a laugh. "And you fell for it big time!"
"I can't believe you landed a helicopter on the roof!" Téa added, giggling into her hand.
Seto's eyes glinted with steel again as he demanded, "So why did you feel the need to destroy my kitchen?"
Mokuba blinked. "Destroy it? I was just making you a cake!"
Everyone fell totally silent at that. Seto got that wary look back again.
Joey asked slowly, "Uh, Mokuba… You… actually made a cake?"
"Well, yeah!" Mokuba said, grinning pridefully.
"You were just supposed to mess up the kitchen a little," Tristan said quickly, trying to make it clear that this wasn't his fault in any way because Seto had that ripping-arms-off look again.
"Yeah," Joey added emphatically, stepping away from Seto like he feared for his life. "The whole making a cake thing was supposed to be a trick, I swear!"
He had almost made it to the doorframe when Mokuba laughed and announced, "Just kidding!"
Seto didn't actually laugh but he did chuckle softly when Joey's look of panic gave way to complete confusion. "You know, Mokuba, I'll never forgive you for this… but that might have taken a couple of months off of how long you're grounded."
Mokuba pouted and then put on the puppy dog face again. "But Seto!"
All of Yugi's gang and even a few of the members of the cleaning crew had to laugh this time.
Of course, they had better get their laughs in now.
Nobody would be laughing when Seto locked them all in the kitchen until it was spotless again.
[*] If you're also wondering why a random Chinese girl was in Japan, it's because she's not a random Chinese girl! That would be my friend Maddi making an awesome random cameo!
Maddi: Hola people!
Lyn: Take a bow for the people, Maddi!
Maddi: Actually, I have a better plan… -steals Kaiba's trench coat-
Seto: What the heck?!
Maddi: BWAHAHA! Now I, Maddi, the connoisseur of gravity-defying trench coats, can give this to Lyn as a birthday present! … OrsellitoneBay! -runs off into the sunset-
Lyn: … Well… That was an interesting development.