The rain poured down the streets of Domino, washing away filth and dirt from the hard concrete. The skies were a depressing mixture of grays, light and dark, that seemed to blot the sky of all sunshine and warmth. To some, the weight of the weather's gloom burdened their shoulders, making their daily lives more liking a daunting chore than a blessing. The day dragged on, with night looking like it came far earlier then it was suppose to.
Luckily for Seto Kaiba, he found sanctuary from the rain in his favorite bookstore, as his eyes slowly ran along the text of some book he randomly plucked from the shelf. Calming melodies and the sound of a trickling waterfall played throughout the store in an attempt to calm the customers and allow their minds submerge into their stories. Kaiba ignored the music, and paid only half of his attention span on the book he read. The other half Seto spent looking back to how he got in this situation . . .
Seto packed his briefcase for another trip to the office. Battle City was only two weeks away and he had to make sure everything was in perfect order so he could find the owner of the Egyptian God Cards, monsters so powerful that their creator tried to hide them from existence, and claim the cards for himself. Kaiba was also on the move to eradicate the Ghouls, a group of card sharks that would steal rare cards and sell them, and their counterfeits, on the Black Market. In order for both things to happen, the satellite system required properly configuration, the computer themselves must be checked to make sure no hackers and Trojans, and he had to screen the duelist's decks and skill levels to see who are worthy opponents.
He closed the briefcase and went into his closet, plucking his violet trench coat out and wrapping it around his body. The CEO then exited out of his bedroom and walked down the stairs, aiming his way to the front door. 'If I leave now, I can make it to the office by nine sharp,' He mused determinedly as he neared the front door. He was about to touch the knob of the door . . .
"Seto . . ."
. . . When an irritated, high-pitched voice froze him dead in his tracks. 'Shit,' His brain hissed, forced to turn to the source of the call. There, standing just outside the kitchen in light blue pajamas and with a cream cheese covered bagel at hand, was Seto Kaiba's much younger sibling, his violet eyes glaring warningly at his older brother. ". . . Mokuba . . ."
Kaiba knew he was in trouble.
"You're going to the office again?" Mokuba interrogated the business head of Kaiba Corp., "After coming home at three-o'clock in the morning, you plan on going right back without so much as having a bagel for breakfast?" Kaiba's shoulders bunched back, as if someone has punched him in the gut. It was true, Seto worked overtime for the fourth night in a row and tried to sneak into his home at the early hours of dawn so that the CEO would not wake his little sibling . . . although that obviously backfired. "Did you - did you stay up all night just to see if I got home?" Mokuba approached his brother, nodding dangerously, "Yeah, I did. I wanted to see it for myself."
Kaiba sighed and put his briefcase on the ground, raising both hands up in the air as if he was a criminal. He muttered, "Fine, you caught me. What do you want me to do?"
Mokuba swiped the briefcase, much to Seto's dismay, and continued eyeing his brother. "Well, you can start by having some breakfast with me." His eyes then dimmed with loneliness, since he had to spend four days without his brother and eating all alone. Kaiba frowned, kicking and cursing himself for making his brother sad. "Alright," He smiled at him reassuringly, "I'll stay for breakfast."
Mokuba grinned. "Great! Then you can have a day off too!" Kaiba's eyes boggled at the idea as he chased after his younger sibling. "H—Hold on, Mokuba! I said I'd only eat breakfast and that's i — !" He received threatening eyes from his small brother, and stopped. ". . . Alright."
There was just no fighting Mokuba Kaiba.
He just reached the part about the hero going into the mind of the prisoner.
"Ow!" someone exclaimed.
"Wha?" Kaiba blinked in surprise and looked underneath the coffee table. A woman had crawled up from under the table, pulling her legs under the very low piece of furniture. She was grumble and grunting as she tried to fit in such a cramp space. She turned around and her bright blue eyes looked onto Seto's own deep blue. "Ah!" She squawked, before quickly looking around and then placing a finger to her lips. "Puh — please," She muttered, "Don — Don't let bad men see me! I'm not here!" Kaiba raised his eyebrow at the odd request. "What do you mean — ?"
The sound of heavy stomping caused his head to shoot upward, alarmed, and the CEO spot a bunch of boys his age. The group did not look at all interested in book shopping, nor did they look very pleased. They looked like vicious hunters, searching for their prey. One of them approached him; a tall fellow with jet-black hair gelled into spikes and irritated black eyes. He called to Seto curtly, "Did you see this chick just run in? She has white hair and a tan?" Kaiba's eyes gazed fleetingly downward, where he knew a girl of the same description was hiding underneath his seat. She was probably trembling in terror, praying to her god to keep him from spilling her cover. He paused and then looked up, his infamous icy glare on the teenager. In his mind, Kaiba recognized the leader of the group as Hayato Daisuke, champion of the Duel Monsters tournament in Northern Japan. He was a level seven duelist.
"No," Seto replied coldly, "And if you're not going to keep quiet then leave before I complain to management." Some of the boys shifted back by Kaiba's grouchy retort, but one leered at Seto, like if he wanted to match his rage to Kaiba's. Hayato motioned to the rash kid to calm down, however, at looked like he finally recognized the infamous reader. "Y — Yeah," The leader muttered, holding back his rage, "We'll be going then. Sorry for disturbing ya."
"Get out of here," Kaiba snapped, slowly rising as if to chase them out of the bookstore. Taking cue, the teenagers briskly walked out, not wanting to stir the inferno more than necessary. Some of them muttered curses to the owner of Kaiba Corp on their way out.
Seto made sure the teens were gone before his attention turned to the girl, who was indeed shuddering in terror as he predicted. "You can come out now," He told the mysterious woman.
The girl nodded and started to crawl out from underneath the table, groaning uncomfortably as she attempted to twist her body out. Then she tried to pull her purse out, toppling over and replying out a small yelp. Embarrassed, she hastily jumped off from the floor from her own two feet and brushed the dirt of her beige over coat and purple maxi skirt. "Th — thank you!" Kaiba shrugged and went back to his book. "Whatever."
She tossed a glance left and right before looking back at Kaiba. She noticed the book in his hands. "A - Ah!" Kaiba looked up again, annoyed. "What now?"
"Y — your book! I hear he good writer - very good writer! R - read once . . . it very good book. Want to read more books someday . . ." Her speech was awkward and rough to Seto's ears, almost too hard for him to understand. It was easy to tell from her bad Japanese and her heavy accent that she was definitely a foreigner. He figured she came to Domino City, Japan to join the Battle City tournament, and was most likely an average contender who won enough tournaments in her home country to register as a five-star ranking duelist.
Suddenly, he realized something after pondering over this girl so much . . . "Why are you still here?" He snapped crassly at the woman, noticing that she had yet to leave his presence. The girl blinked at him, taken aback at his sudden lash at her, and bowed. "I – I sorry! I – I need help. Need book," She muttered frantically. The annoyed Kaiba rubbed his temple and eyed the girl like her very existence sucked out his energy. "What kind of book?" He snarled.
The girl put a finger to her lips and gazed at the ceiling, trying to recollect her thoughts. "Uh . . . um . . . It starts with 'I' . . . I . . . ke . . .? Ike . . . ba . . . ba ba . . ." She continued sounding out her idea, syllable by syllable. Kaiba snarled with growing irritation, a headache slowly gnawing at his temples. He was about to yell at the girl when she suddenly jumped, "Ah!" She hit her fist into her hand, "Ikebana! That's it!"
"Ikebana?" Kaiba inquired, raising his eyebrow. The woman nodded in reply. "Fine, why do you need my help?"
The girl gave her honest retort, "I not read Japanese . . ."
Kaiba paused for a bit, his brain just slapped by common sense.
He closed his book and placed it on the table with a sigh. He stood up, stared directly in her eyes, and curtly requested, "If I help you, will you stop bothering me?" She eyed him strangely and cocked her head to the side. Seto sighed again, "Fine. Come on."
He led her through the aisles of books, scanning each volume after another. The girl followed suit, concentrating deeply on trying to make out the kanji characters printed on the bindings of the books, with little success. Kaiba glanced at her face and took notice of her furrowing brows. 'Definitely a foreigner.' He concluded.
Seto finally stopped, looking up. The girl copied him as a little child would copy her older sibling's mannerisms. "They're right here," He said, reaching up the high shelf and reaching for a book. He pulled one book out and proceeded for the next one, only for a tanned hand to beat him to it, taking him by surprise. "Ah - !"
He looked beside him and noticed the woman could easily reach for the book as well, and pulled it off the shelf. He caught abrupt by how tall she was – this woman could easily outsize any girl in his class. In fact, she could probably rival most of the boys in his class in stature. It was just another quirk to add to this already odd foreigner.
"Thank you," She said to him, snapping Kaiba out of his thoughts once more. "I . . . I guess I go now . . ." She said, sadly, as she took the books from his hands, "I – I didn't mean to bother you . . . You seem good person, very easy to be with. Usually I very nice person to talk to . . . Um . . . Bye." She slowly turned away from the CEO and headed towards the cashier. Kaiba silently watched her for a bit, contemplating on whether or not to follow her.
Meanwhile, the cashier rang up the books as he chatted with the woman. The foreigner pulled out the required yen from her purse and handed it to the shopkeeper, bowing gratefully as she received her change. She then aimed her way towards the exit.
She stopped obediently at the sound of the cool, deep voice and turned her eyes to meet the owner's intense blue eyes. "Yes?" She said, calmly.
"You name," Kaiba mused, "What is it?"
The girl blinked at this request, but smiled genially as she replied, "Rafa."
"Rafa, It was… nice to talk to you." Kaiba muttered, approaching her, "I hope we can meet again." He pulled out a business card out of his pocket and handed it to her.
Rafa bowed in reply, continuing her friendly smile when her head rose again, and stored the card in her coat pocket. "Thank you. I also hope we meet again. Good bye." She turned away from his gaze and walked out of the building.
Kaiba simply stood there . . . and smiled.
"Good bye . . . Weird foreigner . . ."
Seto Kaiba sat down in his usual spot of the bookstore, reading his book some more. Once again, he could only examine the text halfheartedly since only half of mind was actually concentrating on the story. The other half spent its time revolving around the humorous musings when it came to Rafa's eccentricity.
His eyes slowly peeled away from the book and gazed out towards the windows, wanting to see the weather outside. The city still looked dark and dreary, but the rain ceased for now, which meant it was Kaiba's only chance to exit the bookstore dry. "I guess I better get going now before it rains again."
He paid for his books and left the bookstore immediately, eyeing the sky above and then his wristwatch below. It was slowly turning to dusk and the streetlights were turning on. The CEO sighed, wondering why his brother never called him. 'He must be up to something . . .'
He walked along the street corner when he heard some chatter coming from one of the alleyways.
". . .You better give me my money, little girl."
Kaiba merely brushed off this rather hostile scene though. 'It must be a drug dealer . . . Hmph. It's not worth dirtying my hands over scum like them. They'll be dead soon from overdose, anyway.'
"I tell you," A heavily accented snarled, "I no have your money! Please leave me alone! I no want fighting! LEAVE ME ALONE!"
Kaiba's ears seemed to perk at this new, and yet familiar voice. 'Is that . . .?' He briskly walked into the alley, being as quiet as possibly so he to avoid evoking an unnecessary encounter. He turned his head around the corner and allowed only his face to be visible, in case he had to pull back. 'Is that really . . .?'
He saw a group of teenagers forcing a girl into the corner, some of them holding switchblades in their hand and the others had their hands clenched tight into fists. 'It's those punks from before!' He realized. 'That means . . .'
He turned his attention to the damsel in distress. The woman was just as tall as they were with tan skin and silvery white hair. Her bright, blue eyes glared back at the men defiantly, like she was just seconds away from shredding them into gory ribbons. 'Rafa!'
The boy with black, spiky hair snatched the collar of Rafa's coat, pulling her towards his face so he could scowl directly into her eyes. "You lying bitch," He spat angrily, "If you didn't have any money, how the fuck did you buy these?" He raised her shopping bag to her face and slapped her with it. "You spent on money on this shit, didn't you?" Hayato furiously threw the contents to the ground and roared in her face. "ADMIT IT!"
Rafa grunted at the tight hold on her neck. "I — It my own money! I tell you… I no have your money! Let go!" She finally swatted his hand away from her throat, and then punched him right in the cheek, knocking Hayato into the ground.
Kaiba eyes widened in surprise by the girl's new ferocity, something that contrasted against her rather sweet temper the last time he saw her. Tall and feral, he wondered whether she was once a gang leader with her impressive strength. Still, even with her strength, he knew she was in big trouble now.
"You bitch!" One of the other gang members punched the girl across her face, causing her to lean on the wall as her only source of balance and leave herself open to a gang assault. The boys crowded closer to Rafa and proceeded to mar her with a flay of kicks and punches. Soon enough, she was on the ground, curling into a ball and trying to protect herself, while the attacks remained relentless. Kaiba bit his lip and his fists pulsed, his anger he could no longer repress.
He stepped into the fight.
"Hey punk." He tapped the shoulder of one of the boy, causing him to stop pounding on the foreigner. The teenage gangster turned, ready to snap at the intruder, only to instead meet Kaiba's fist. The kid fell over with his eyes rolling into the back of his head, obviously out cold by Kaiba's punch. Their fallen ally caught the gang's attention as they turned their blood-lusting sights on Seto Kaiba.
"Who the fuck — ?" Hayato snarled as he finally got up from Rafa's attack, only to freeze in shock. "Se — Se — Seto Kaiba?" Even Rafa perked her head at the name.
"I see you punks are still stalking girls, huh?" Kaiba asked, cracking his knuckles, "I don't know how she's involved with worthless pieces of trash like you, but I rather not have you swine disgracing my city just before my tournament starts up . . ."
The gang boss merely spat some blood on the ground and glared at him. "I tried to be nice since I was gonna be in this tournament . . . but you've stuck your head in our business for the last time!" He drew a knife and charged at Kaiba, only for Kaiba to easily swat the knife out of his hand then punch his lights out.
Rafa quickly ran to Kaiba's side, her fists at the ready. "S – S – Sorry for trouble . . . These boys a bunch of… how you say… panku?"
Kaiba grinned devilishly. "Heh. That's exactly the word to describe them… besides trash, swine, filth . . ." He mused aloud, evil wheels turning in his head.
Rafa turned her head to him and asked, "And . . . what's that word . . .? Jackasses?"
Kaiba chuckled with impish delight. "That too…"
One of the teenagers wearing a black band t-shirt grew irritated at the couple's insults. "Why you –!" He lashed at the two, fists prepared.
Kaiba ducked under the punch and countered with his own, striking the guy's stomach. Rafa used Kaiba's back as a vaulting table: springing her body on his backside, turning herself around, and then kicking the punk in the head while he was keeling over in agony. The boy slammed into the ground. Rafa slipped off Kaiba and stood in front of him. Kaiba looked up and they both met each other's eyes.
"Not bad at all, I'm impressed," He said, smirking in amusement.
Rafa smiled back in reply as she brushed down her skirt, "Thank you."
The couple continued beating up the rest of the gang members. Now that she had Kaiba's assistance, she could fight back the teenagers with much ease. She grabbed one teenager's fist, mid-punch, and easily flipped him over. While the boy was still recovering from slamming concrete, Rafa punched him in the gut and rendered him out of commission. Rafa did not pay any heed to the teen after that, however, since she had to duck from another gangster's blow. Kaiba retaliated by punching the guy in the face.
But while Kaiba and Rafa continued their fist fight against the gangsters, the Hayato woke up and dug into his pockets. From his pocket, a small handgun glinted under the dim alley lights and aimed at Rafa's chest.
"D – di – die, bitch . . ."
He squeezed the trigger just as Rafa turned her head to head to the teenager's voice.
Kaiba shot his head to the source of the loud sound, spotting Rafa crumbling to her knees. As she grabbed her shoulder, her coat stained a deep scarlet. Blood seeped between her fingers and landed on the concrete.
Hayato aimed again.
She grabbed her stomach as crimson flood oozed through her digits when she finally collapsed. Kaiba took his eyes off Rafa to find out who was responsible for shooting her down. The teenager was pulling back the hammer again.
He lunged at Hayato and they struggled over ownership of the gun. Seto Kaiba attempted to pry open the gang leader's hands while Hayato was trying to shoot the girl again.
"Let go of me," Hayato exclaimed, "I said let me g - !"
Smoke scattered across the black sky, it's harsh smell wafting the nostrils. Kaiba blue eyes widened in horror as the din of the pistol faded. Blood was drooling from Hayato 's lips and his words were muffled with gurgles and gasps. Finally, his hands limply peeled away from his pistol and the boy fell on the ground. A gunshot wound was bleeding from Hayato 's neck.
The terrified Kaiba tossed the pistol and backed off in fear.
"Se . . . to . . ."
Kaiba felt a sudden weight pulling down his trench coat and the CEO shot his head down at the person. Rafa, with a hand soiled in her own life fluid, as desperately clinging onto Seto with the remaining energy she had.
"Puh – please, Seto," She begged, "Help . . . me . . ."
Tears were flowing down her eyes as she continued to plea.
"It . . . hurts . . . pain no stop . . . I no . . . want to die . . . I can't die . . . Please . . . Please . . . Save me . . ."
Kaiba stared at the girl, heeding her every word, when a man in a black suit approached Kaiba.
"Mr. Kaiba, we were looking for y - !"
His jaw dropped at the bloody scene, unable to form a coherent sentence as the gory sight slowly flooded throughout the man's mind. His eyes finally turned to the half-dead woman with her fingers digging into Kaiba's coat to survive.
"What happened here?" The Kaiba Corp employee inquired.
Instead of giving him an answer, Seto Kaiba barked an order to the chauffer to get the car ready while the CEO snatched the dying woman into his arms at a frenzy speed. The girl was groaning in pain while she was being carried off into the jet black limo, blood leaking from her body. The pain was so great that Rafa couldn't even bother to notice she was in a warm interior of a limo, since the blood loss was making her blind.
"Get us out of here, NOW!" The CEO ordered.
The Chauffer pound his foot into the gas pedal, causing the car to speed off. Kaiba did not care about the car, however, as he was trying his best to close the wound. His hands frantically clamped on her wounds and he was doing his best to keep Rafa from passing out.
"Rafa? Rafa, do you hear me? It's Kaiba." He sputtered hastily as he pressed on her wounds, "Listen, you need to stay awake, ok? Don't faint on me, ok?"
Rafa grappled onto Seto's arm and her nails embedded themselves deeply into Seto's flesh, using his warmth to keep her from slipping into oblivion. It was a vain attempt, seeing that her whole world shrouded in a haze of anguish. She could only slowly sink into that world of nothingness, long separated from Earth.
"Se . . . to . . ." She whimpered, her face shining from a salty film of tears.
Kaiba continued pressing down, even when the girl's nails broke through his skin and produced wet, red beads.
"I . . . I can no die . . . not now!" Her words sped up faster into hysterical stutters, "I can't! I can't! Not now! I have to find him! I must find him! Please! I no want to die!"
As the car traveled on, the only thing running through Kaiba's mind were the shrill screams that pierced his eardrums and the liquid on his hands that stained everything blood red. It was as if he plunged into a world of absolute chaos, where all chances of things ending badly actually could. All he could do, though, was continue his grueling task of keeping her alive, unsure on whether or not it would be in vain.
To Be Continued
Phoenix: Thanks for reading the first chapter. I know to some of my fans who read have read the previous version of this story will notice there are many changes. These final change will include more action and intrigue. Until then, review, favorite, and watch.