AN: Edit! The first twenty chapters have recently gone through a secondary grammar and spell check... Inaccurate points that were scattered about them have been changed as well, so for those who are already familiar with the fanfic, you might want to give it another read! Now then...
Note that from now on, the AN will be at the bottom of the fanfic; this is just a quick note here for those coming in. This is the only part of the fanfic from this point of view, or rather, from a first person point of view. It's also one of the only times I ever have so... We'll see how that works.
On a more important note, for those who didn't see in the profile, this FanFic is AU, in that one character has been genderswapped. You can probably guess who by the end of this, but don't expect that to change too much on their personality. Trust me on that. Further 'warnings' for cursing, future puppyshipping (There will be fluff, but that is my limit.), and a hefty dose of 'Character on a Bus' syndrome due to the timing of this fanfic. As it's based heavily on the manga (Seeing how it starts off where only the Manga exists, unless you swear by the Toei animation), I'm sticking with Japanese names here. A 'legend' of sorts will be at the bottom of chapter one.
With that, I leave you to your reading.
If Things Were Slightly Different
I remember the day my mom died. I was 4 years old, almost 5, and for a while I didn't understand what it meant. I would ask my dad where she was, and why she wasn't there to see the baby brother I had.
It took a long time, but I learned what it meant. My mom was gone, and I would never see her again. I was upset about that of course- it meant an emptiness, a void in certain activities and things that I had never been without. But it was ok, in a strange way, because in her place, there was Mokuba.
After mom died, my dad took her place. Even though he had work, he did a good job raising us. I don't think he ever quite got over it though- he didn't really know how to raise Mokuba, since all he knew was what mom had occasionally taught him raising me. He could only do so much really, but in the end dad really was an incredible person, right up until his final moments.
I remember the day my dad died. I was eight years old. And it was my fault.
It was Christmas. They were putting up a giant tree in the middle of the city, made of plastic and metal and decorated with hundreds of thousands of electric lights and ornaments. Mokuba was excited. He still didn't completely know what 'Christmas' was, and to be frank, neither did I. But it was a happy holiday, and a loud one where we lived, so we looked forward to it.
We were separated from our dad. Lost. When I saw him, I thought of nothing but getting back to him with my brother. We didn't see the truck. We didn't hear the horn. But I felt my dad's arms as he charged at us, shielding my brother and I from harm. I heard him tell me, beg me, to look after him as he succumbed to the injuries received. Mokuba had a few bruises. I had road rash on my back. My dad however, had his spine and ribs shattered by the force of the truck and the tires that ran across his lower half when he pushed us out of the way.
I remember the day they cremated my dad's body. We were dressed as formally as possible, and Mokuba didn't stop asking questions. He didn't know why dad was 'sleeping'. He didn't know why he was being put in the room across us, and why they were setting him on fire. Didn't know how he'd get out. He didn't know what 'dead' meant yet.
We never knew our aunt. My dad's sister was british, as he had been. She lived in Japan as a housewife to a businessman like most women did at the time, like most were thought to do. My cousins were a lot like her. And my uncle was a lot like my cousins.
And none of them liked us, in any way. I was too quiet, and called a 'suck up' when I attempted to keep my brother out of trouble. Mokuba was called a 'queer' for his long hair, even though he didn't know what the word meant. We were ignored in that house, but not because they didn't know what to do. They simply didn't care.
It took six months for them to sort out the inheritance from my dad. Between that time, the most eventful thing that happened was being scolded for cutting my hair and giving Mokuba a piece of gum without permission. He'd tried to blow a bubble- and it had gotten stuck. So I cut it out, along with the rest of my hair. That way it wouldn't look like a mess when my aunt and uncle took us to the orphanage the next day.
It was probably lucky that I did that, in the end. Because that night, I found out how that place worked. How easy it would be to lose each other. How easy it would be to never see each other again. So when we were left there, I did everything possible to keep them from separating us as well. It was a last request I made to them. It was the only request they granted me.
I never saw them again.
I remember a movie I saw with my dad before mom died. We weren't supposed to watch it, but we did anyways. In it, a character said 'The first day is the hardest.' I don't know if it was true or not, but I told Mokuba this on the first day as well. I told him he needed to be strong, but not to worry, because I would protect him.
Mokuba asked what mom looked like. I told him I didn't remember, but I thought he had her eyes. He asked me if she was nice, and what she would have done now. I didn't know, I told him, but that was ok. Because even though mom and dad were gone, I would be 'the father', I told him.
He told me that 'dads' had to be big strong men, and stuck his tongue out at me. I didn't have the heart to tell him at the time. I think that it was for the best though, that he didn't say anything after that.
It made things easier when I turned ten. When the CEO of KaibaCorp came into the orphanage. I had already made my promise then- a theme park, where kids like us would never have to pay money to go in.
So I approached him, Gozaburo Kaiba. And I made that bet to give us a real home. I cheated to win. And I think he knew that. But for some reason, he didn't care. He took us both in, as I asked. And I made a plan to tell him the truth, to tell him everything later that year. I would tell him, my 'father', anything he wanted to know about my brother and I. And everything he didn't know, and everything that the orphanage didn't know.
But Gozaburo didn't want to know about us. He wanted to know if I was smart. If I could handle the 'stresses' of work, and if I was good enough to succeed him in the company. It didn't take long before I realized I wouldn't be able to tell him. He didn't want the truth, or at least what the truth would be. He wanted someone who would grow into a man capable of handling anything thrown at him.
I was strong though. Maybe stronger than he thought. Too strong, I think sometimes- maybe if I had been 'weak', like Mokuba, I would have been able to do things differently. I wasn't though. I was stubborn, like the rapids in my name, both of my names.
I remember when I finally began going through puberty. I refused to talk to Gozaburo about anything that happened, mostly out of spite. The maids he hired, however, did notice. They pulled me aside late one night to question me.
That was when I learned about making connections, really learned. That was the first time I truly went behind my 'father's back, by promising each of the hired help involved a 'bonus' when I finally took hold of the company.
Right before I turned fourteen, my Father pulled me aside after another 16 hour tutoring session to question me on my 'growth'. It was the closest thing to 'caring' he'd ever come to, I thought, and I had been glad to hear, from the context of the conversation, that no one had told him anything. My voice wasn't deep. It would never be deep, and I knew that. But Gozaburo didn't.
He told me he'd been doing 'research'. That apparently, in rare cases, 'boys my age' would end up developing wrong, ending up with a condition called 'puberphonia'. I was growing tall, but as I expected, I was slim. I would always be slim, I knew this. There would be no 'bulk up', and there would be no 'deep voice'. Not even a crack.
There was nothing 'wrong' with me. However Gozaburo would have none of it, regardless of the fact that I had never said a thing on the matter. So he did the unthinkable, and had me take a day off being tutored. He had the tutors focus on their curriculum for the next few weeks, and I was pulled out to study something else. Something that would hide my voice, hide everything. For weeks, that was all I worked on. But I didn't fail- after all, if I failed, then I would have no use.
Even my 'father' knew not to force me to speak right after that. Though I was still required to prove I was still practicing, he wasn't so cruel to 'threaten' my health like that. Instead, he gave me a challenge. A challenge to design something new, something completely useful. So I invented a program, a virtual reality software for games. But my 'Father' wanted to use it for the wrong things. I knew, of course, that his company dealt in arms. I wanted to change it, and a part of me wonders if that is all I have left of my old life. That, and my little brother. He wouldn't listen when I told him not to use it. So I hid it instead. When he confronted me, I refused to tell him the whereabouts of the program. He sent me out of his sight, and for the next week 'lessons' doubled. That day was the last day I called him Father. And the first day I decided I wouldn't wait for things to change, for an opportunity to tell him everything.
After passing Gozaburo's test on my 15th birthday, I created a plan. I contacted the board of directors, the 'Big Five' in the company and offered them a deal. And while still at the age of 15, the cards were played perfectly. So perfectly that in the end, it was almost a shock...
When the man I had overthrown jumped out of the top floor of our building, I didn't know what to say. His last words had been about 'one last lesson', that 'this was what happened to losers'. Suicide. Death. Something along those lines, I was sure.
I didn't attend the funeral though. Because as Mokuba convinced us to register into public school for a 'normal' life, there was only one thing we knew. Gozaburo was dead, which meant he was gone forever.
We would never see him again. And neither he, nor the rest of the world would ever know...
Just what the truth was.