Part 1
by Apollymi

Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh and characters from said series are copyright to Takahashi Kazuki and all associated parties. No copyright infringement is intended. No profit is made from this fan work. Any original characters, characterizations, and research belongs to Apollymi.
Archive: , Apollymi's Grimoire, Apollymi's Writing LJ Community, and . Anywhere else, ask first.
Word Count: 2,250

"Now remember, everyone! Hugs, not slugs!"

Put like that, and suddenly it was all he wanted to do: beat on someone until the flesh broke and blood poured forth, until what was supposed to be on the insides was on the outside and everybody could see it. That had to be the most glorious idea he had heard yet in this place and certainly was a lot better than anything anyone in charge had ever proposed.

"Niisama..." Mokuba interrupted his thoughts almost as if he could hear them, and wouldn't that be a funny proposition? A little brother who could read his mind? That could be either absolutely wonderful or completely horrible, depending on if Mokuba decided to use it for good or evil.

Of course, it was Mokuba. He would definitely use it for evil. That was just how he was.

"What?" he answered quietly.

"You look like you're thinking something violent. Stop it."

"I don't want to." Even Mokuba wasn't going to make him doing anything he didn't want to, and frankly, he wanted to think about hurting the people in front of him. See if they gave him those strange, pitying looks then, once he had turned them inside out a few times. All he needed was a time and an excuse. What he didn't really need was an alibi: he had the papers that could get him out of jail for just about anything.

They didn't like sending crazy people to jail, after all. If everyone thought he was crazy, then there was no reason not to use it to his advantage every now and then. Get out of jail free card and all that.

"Would Mokuba like to join us today?"

Like that one, that woman, Mazaki, he couldn't decide if he wanted to kill her first or last. Sometimes he thought it would be best to get it over with so he didn't have to hear her anymore, but other times he thought he wanted to make sure she suffered most, so having her go last would be best. He was relatively certain that she was the one who kept making recommendations to up his pills, all the while talking about things like she knew anything. She didn't know anything.

"No," he replied immediately. Mokuba probably did want to go join in whatever asinine thing the staff had cooked up for them to do, but he didn't. If he saw one more checkerboard or grilled window, it would be too soon.

"Aww, come on, niisama." Yep, right on cue, his annoying little brother had decided to pipe up to say the exact opposite of what he was thinking. Just his luck. "Maybe you can get them to pull out the chess set. We like chess still, right?"

"They won't let me use it anymore since you lost a piece." And the idea of him being persuasive was downright ludicrous. If he wanted to get his way, he would just plow through all opposition until he got what he wanted. Or that was how he used to do things, before he ended up in here. "And I don't want to be around them anyway."

"Now, Kaiba-san, that's not very sociable of you."

"I don't want to be sociable. I don't do sociable."

Well, if they could say nothing else about this place, they could at least call a small victory on the fact that he was definitely talking a lot more now than he had been when he first arrived. Granted, he didn't enjoy interacting with anyone here, but he definitely had fewer qualms about giving the nurses, especially Mazaki, a bit of verbal hell. He could almost enjoy that part. Anyone who was that cheerful for no good reason – and in fact, she was like that all the time – needed to be taken down a bit.

If he couldn't indulge in his homicidal fantasies towards her, he could at least be as rude as possible to her.

"Well, if you don't want to join in," she said, the smile on her face never even faltering, "you're welcome to read or watch television." He snorted. The only television he watched was the news, and they very rarely showed that in here. As for reading, he had long since read everything they had to offer, such that the pitiful selection was. "Or you can go back to your room for the rest of the afternoon."

"Sounds great," he bit out hard. "It's better than out here."

Storming out had little effect on the always overly cheerful nurse. It never did. She was already turning away to speak with one of the doctors. The paranoid part of him wondered if they were talking about him. Hmph, probably. There wasn't anyone else here nearly as interesting. Hearing the words 'delusions' and 'aggression' did make it seem like he was the topic of conversation.

"It's not paranoia if they are out to get you," Mokuba offered cheerfully, skipping a bit ahead of him. His sneakers made absolutely no noise on the tile floors, and he really wished his little brother would tell him how he managed to do that. "Or if they really are talking about you."

"So why don't you go find out what they're saying?"

Mokuba shrugged. "I could, I guess, but I'd rather stick with you." He turned so that he was walking backwards, skillfully avoiding any obstacles as if they weren't even there. The boy made a face that he found it hard not to laugh at. "I don't like how they ignore me."

'Ignoring' was a generous way of phrasing it. Most of the time, the people here liked to act as if Mokuba didn't even exist. Sometimes – and he didn't like thinking those times – they insisted that Mokuba was a figment of his imagination.

That just wasn't something he was willing to accept. Mokuba was the most important person in the world to him. That was why he was probably the most resistant 'patient' in this damn place. The pills threatened to take Mokuba away from him. There was no way – absolutely no way in hell – he was allowing that.

If they took Mokuba away from him, he would be all alone. Mokuba was all he had left.

"So what are the rules of this again?"

He sighed and lowered his makeshift set of playing cards. Someone along the way had decided he got a bit obsessive when it came to playing games, so his actual deck was confiscated. This one was cobbled together. He had made them from scraps of paper and used the best of his recollection of what each card had said. Mokuba had drawn the pictures, and maybe it was a biased older brother opinion to think they were good.

Of course, after all that work, he seemed to be doomed explain the rules to Duel Monsters over and over and over again. It had never been his little brother's game of choice. That had been Capsule Monsters, a game for which he had never acquired a taste.

Really, he's lost count just how many times he has explained the basic rules of Duel Monsters to Mokuba over the years, but this one had to be somewhere in the low thousands. He was honestly starting to think that Mokuba hated the game and was tying him up with explanations so that the boy didn't have to play.


-He's here. The one who listens, he's here.-

He winced, clutching his head and folding himself down, anything to make the new voice disappear. Why did it have to happen now, right when he finally got some time alone with his little brother?

-What's the plan?-

-We have plans now?-

There was a displeased sounding snort. -Maybe we can just wait it out and let him off himself. Hey, you, if you're listening, off yourself so I don't have to deal with you.-

The first voice sighed heavily. -Never mind. There's no need to be like that. I've got a plan.-

He had been hearing voices like these as long as he could remember, at least since the orphanage. Try as he might, he wasn't always able to sort them out from what he was hearing people around him say. He had kept quiet about it as long as he was able to back then, but eventually, he had broken down and talked to one of the counselors about the problem.

It turned out that hearing voices was pretty much a one-way trip to the asylum. Mokuba had tagged along with him, so that he wouldn't be alone. For that, he would be eternally grateful to his baby brother. For that, he would never, ever allow the two of them to be separated.

"What is it, niisama?" Mokuba sounded concerned, leaning over close to him in worry, a shaking hand hovering just inside his limited range of vision. "What's wrong?" The boy paused for a long moment, and he could feel gray eyes staring at him. "The voices?"

He nodded miserably and quietly admitted, "I don't like them."

"I wouldn't like them either!" Mokuba huffed, crossing his arms over his chest. But then he seemed to relent. "Aren't you supposed to let them know when you hear the voices?"

Technically speaking, he was supposed to, yes. He had even been told in no uncertain terms that, if the voices threatened harm to him or anyone else, he was to immediately report to the duty station for an emergency dose of Thorazine. That would mean dealing with Mazaki again, though, and he would rather deal with the voices than her.

"I don't want to." He slowly unbent himself, glancing around the room in concern. They seemed to be alone, but in this place, he had no real delusions of privacy. There were cameras in the common areas, and he was pretty sure there were some hidden around in the rooms too and the door was standing wide open. "It's okay. They're quiet now. It's okay."

"I thought I heard someone else down here."

He started in shock. In fact, for a long second, he thought the voices were starting up again. But no, there was someone at the door. At first glance, he thought it was an old woman. The voice and face were all wrong, though. If anything, the man at his door was in his mid-twenties, certainly no older than he himself was, and his voice was no higher than a tenor. All he could guess was that it had been the long, white hair that had given him the impression of old age.

Like him, the other man wore a plain white t-shirt and gray sweatpants; the other had added an extra layer of a robe, keeping it tightly wrapped around him. With his pale skin and light eyes, he almost looked whitewashed or like an unfinished painting. His next though, that the man was an albino, didn't seem to be accurate either: while his eyes were pale, they were either blue or gray or maybe even a very light shade of brown; he was standing too far away for him to be certain.

Mokuba nudged him subtly, obviously prompting him. "Kaiba Seto," he introduced himself. He didn't offer his hand. He had learned his lesson about that after nearly being bitten his second day here.

"Bakura" is all the other man offers. He didn't even add if that was a first name or a last name. Kaiba was willing to note that he didn't offer his hand either and in fact didn't even uncross them from over his chest, like he was trying to keep them wrapped around him. "They just moved me in next door."

He held back a wince. Not even a week ago, the person next door had hung himself. He hadn't been too surprised: the guy had been the heir to one of the automotive companies and had suicidal-level depressed over the recent economic turns in that sector. Honda-something or other, he thought the man's name had been. Since he had been here, at least four people had committed suicide in the rooms near him. It was not a reassuring thought.

"He seems nice enough," Mokuba offered quietly, leaning over to speak softly in his ear. "Maybe even sane enough. I wonder what he's doing here."

The man, Bakura, didn't even blink at Mokuba's talking about him. Maybe it was because Mokuba had obviously been speaking only to him? Somehow, Bakura didn't strike him as the polite type, but he had occasionally been known to be wrong before.

Kaiba found himself shifting nervously under that pale gaze, and that was really weird. Very few things made him feel in the least bit uncomfortable, but the way Bakura was watching him steadily was definitely fitting that bill.

Bakura bit his lower lip, finally looking away from him, eyes turned down as if in shame, before he spoke again. "Anyway, I just wanted to say I'm next door if you ever just want to hang out or anything. Later." In a whisper of quiet movement, the pale man was back out of the room again. If he listened carefully, he could almost hear the door next door closing.

Mokuba gave him all of two minutes in peace before he smacked him hard across the arm. "Oww!" he immediately yelped. "What was that for?"

"One of these days, niisama, I'm going to teach you something about making friends."


The boy nodded sagely. "Absolutely. See, you had a prime opportunity right there. Now he probably thinks you're as crazy as everyone else in here."

That was a sadly possible thought. He had never been good around anyone but Mokuba in his life. Usually when people started talking to him, he seized up and could barely get words out. He had long since perfected a disapproving look to keep people from trying. All totaled, it had the side effect of making people think he was haughty or stuck-up or whatever.

Now, not to say he didn't mind people thinking that, most of the time. Anything to get himself a little peace and quiet was fine in his book, honest or not.

Mokuba did have a point, though. He failed utterly on all levels at making friends. He always had. Maybe, just maybe, it was time to change that. This would take a bit of plotting and thinking about and studying on and such before he made any decisions, though. He had learned his lesson about doing anything without putting tons of thought into it first.

Besides, there was every possibility that he had run Bakura off with how he had reacted to the other man, so approaching him for a friendship at this point could just turn out to be a moot point. If it wasn't his off-putting attitude, then it could be the fact he only managed to get his name out – or even how he ended up staring as if he had never seen a person before.

Yeah, it was probably just as well that he needed to think it over. He probably wasn't going to see much of Bakura from here on out.

That shouldn't have bothered him as much as it did.

03 July 2010

And here it is: the beginning of the JulNo novel. There are twists and turns to come, so be prepared!