It took three whole days for the ringing to stop in his ears, three days without sleep because the screaming would scare him awake. Usually Kaiba did not mind a day or two without shut-eye, except he had someone's life on the line and she made sure he never forgot it with her ear-piercing screams. Sure, she fainted a few hours after she arrived in the Kaiba Household, but the memories remained.
"Finally," The CEO muttered, "Now I can get some sleep."
He lay back on his mattress and pulled over the covers, intending to get some sleep finally. As much as he would like to get back to Kaiba Corporation and finish the last touches to his tournament, Kaiba realized he could not do much while he was this tired. His head sank into the soft pillow and his eyes closed. He could feel his consciousness trickling away into soothing darkness . . .
"SETO!" He heard a little boy cry, "Seto! Get in here!"
Kaiba didn't even hesitate to yawn; he jumped out of bed and immediately sprinted his way to the cry for help. He threw open the door and his gaze immediately met the eyes of his younger brother, Mokuba Kaiba, who kept vigil over the sleeping Rafa.
"Mokuba, what's going on?" Seto inquired, walking into the bedroom briskly.
"Seto," Mokuba yelped, "It's her!"
Mokuba turned to his sleeping companion, tossing and turning in her sleep. Strange words were spewing from her mouth, phrases not remotely close to Japanese – or English, for that matter. Kaiba hovered over the girl as well.
"I was just gonna see how she was doing and all of a sudden she started screaming and tossing in her sleep!" Mokuba cried to his brother.
Kaiba looked down and carefully grasped the girl by her shoulders. He shook her violently.
"Rafa! Rafa! Can you hear me?"
He saw Rafa struggling against his attempts, trying to remain in her nightmare for some unknown reason, which did leave him to hesitate. He eyed her curiously, taken aback.
'She wants to go back in her nightmare?' Kaiba mused, wondering all the possible reasons Rafa would stay in a dream that was obviously causing her to panic.
It was then Rafa's loud shriek interrupted Kaiba's thoughts and whipped him back into reality. Recalling that this girl was the very reason he could not get any sleep himself, the droopy-eyed CEO shook the girl with greater fervor than before. In response, Rafa's body thrashed out in an attempt to shrug off her assailant . . . to no avail.
"Damn it, Rafa!" Kaiba yelled, "Wake up! Wake up already! I said wake UGH-!"
"Seto!" Mokuba cried.
Seto Kaiba did not expect a woman to punch him in the face. In fact, Seto Kaiba did not expect anyone to punch him in the face . . . ever.
However, someone did punch Seto Kaiba in the face . . . and it was enough to send him on the floor with a loud thud and a throbbing cheek. On the back end, Kaiba ached at the hard collision . . . the front end however . . .
"AH - !" Rafa cried out, "Ka—Kaiba?"
Rafa's soft chest pressed up against Kaiba, while the bed sheets ensnared all the rest of her body. She looked at him in confusion while her legs kicked wildly for freedom.
"Wh - what happening?" She cried while continued struggling out of her makeshift cocoon.
Kaiba carefully sat up and reached out, carefully assisting Rafa in freeing her legs. He didn't want her to go into a panicking fit again and reopen her wounds.
"Hold still," he commanded as he pulled Rafa's left leg out. "There."
Rafa sat beside Seto and bowed, blubbering apologies as she kept her face pressed to the ground. Kaiba placed his hand on the top of Rafa's head, his fingers snared by the white locks of hair as he forced Rafa to sit up.
"It's fine," he uttered as he slowly pulled his hand away from her.
Mokuba leaned over the couple; his violet eyes dark with concern.
"Are you alright?" he asked.
"Ah!" Rafa nodded obediently. "Yes . . . but . . ."
She looked down at herself, and then back up, "Am I . . . Am I alive?"
The CEO nodded.
"You were shot twice – but nowhere too vital, so my medical team was able to repair you in the nick of time. You've been asleep for three days since that incident."
Rafa stared at him with eyes as wide as dinner plates.
"Th - three?" She stuttered, rising to her feet, "I – I must go!"
She forced her body to the door, ready to sprint, but instead Kaiba saw her legs wobble and the girl fell to the floor. Luckily, he had quick reflexes as he shot out and caught her, allowing his body to be her crutch.
"Are you crazy?" Mokuba cried out, as he ran up to the couple. "You can't even stand!"
Rafa struggled out of Kaiba's grip, babbling a mix of her weird language and bits of broken Japanese phrases.
"Need . . . to go . . . No time . . ."
With one mighty pull, Seto Kaiba was able to take her back in his arms, where he then proceeded to haul her up in the air and carry her back to the mattress. She flailed her legs the entire time.
'She's a stubborn lil' girl,' He thought to himself, 'Damn it! Why can't this woman sit down before I -?'
He finally slammed her down on the bed, pinning her arms. This only caused Rafa to struggle even more and yelp in pain.
"Damn it, calm down already! CALM DOWN!"
"Seto, you're scaring her!" Mokuba cried, grabbing his elder brother's arm. "Stop it!"
Kaiba stopped immediately at his brother's pleas and slowly loosened his grip on Rafa. Rafa finally calmed down too, most likely due to exhaustion. She was staring into Kaiba with wide, eerie eyes. Her breathing slowed, but not by much – she was still hyperventilating.
"Look," the CEO tried to explain calmly, "you're still too badly injured to get out of bed and run around freely. You still need time to recover."
His stomach churned uncomfortably as he spoke in such a slow voice, but he continued calming her – and eventually himself – down.
"Mokuba, I have some things I need to ask her. Can you tell one of the servants to get us something to drink and a fresh roll of bandages?"
Mokuba nodded before he ran out the door, leaving her all alone with the CEO of Kaiba Corporation and along with all traces of warmth and gentility. All that remained was a cold distrust, all of it coming from Rafa's sudden, bitter glare.
Kaiba took a deep, exasperated sigh, realizing she was no longer as friendly to him as she was before she almost died. She probably would not cooperate as fully as he wanted her to.
"Look, I'm sorry for scaring you just now," he muttered, "but your injuries are still pretty bad - I'm surprised they didn't open up just now with all your struggling. You need to stay here just a little bit longer and have my medical team take care of you. Alright?"
Rafa turned away and bit her lip. Kaiba couldn't tell what she was thinking – whether she was still denying Kaiba's attention or just ruefully pondering over her situation. Either way, Kaiba shrugged it off and sat on the bed. Rafa scooted a few inches away, obvious that her sour attitude had only intensified.
"Now listen, I need to know what happened last night between you and Hayato . . ." He paused before proceeding. " . . . Because Hayato died that night."
Rafa snapped her head back at Seto, her eyes wider than dinner plates. Now her focus was entirely on Seto and his every word.
"The police are probably investigating his death as we speak – and Hayato was going to be a participator of my tournament . . . but now he's dead. He shot himself by accident when I struggled with him for control of the weapon."
Rafa kept her stare at the teenage boy. After a gulp, she finally spoke, in a broken and stuttering voice:
"You . . . saved me?"
Kaiba nodded appropriately, and continued his narration. "Yes. But now I have to wonder, how? How did these events come to pass? How did it end this way?"
He got up and walked towards the window, gazing out at the morning for a brief period before speaking again:
"That I don't know. The only clue I have is . . ."
He turned to glare at Rafa, his piercing eyes staring deep into Rafa's.
" . . . You."
Kaiba approached her, keeping his cold gaze over her own. He scanned her, up and down her body, taking notice of all the bandages underneath the white dress shirt of his. Rafa instinctively pulled the covers over her body.
"Rafa, what connection did you have with Hayato and his gang?"
He saw Rafa's eyes dart off to the side, trying to keep as little contact with him as possible, and interjected,
"And don't you dare tell me that there is no connection - he wouldn't have wanted you dead if there was nothing going on between the two of you. Talk . . . or I'll just hand you over to the cops and be done with it."
He saw her eyes tear up and a hand cover her mouth, muffling a loud gasp. Her body trembled while she tried her very best to keep her face away from Kaiba's view. The more he tried to lock eyes with her, the more Rafa would turn away.
Finally, he heard a loud sob escape from her, followed by a series of whimpers.
"Rafa . . . ?" He inquired.
His eyes widened in amazement as the girl slowly, surely, unraveled at the seams.
"He . . . He was bad man . . ." She whimpered, "Promised . . . promised me a way to tournament . . ."
Kaiba listened intently, keeping his glare cold despite her cry.
"He was able to get me to Japan . . . but told me I was now in his debt. He . . . he said now I must work for him . . . He instructed me to go to other men . . . be their service . . . but . . . but . . ."
"Seto, we're back!"
Kaiba's eyes widened as he turned his head. He saw Mokuba and one of the maids at the door. Mokuba carried a first-aid kit of steaming towels and bandages, while the housekeeper held a tray of coffee.
"We got some coffee and the banda-!"
Rafa then wailed aloud.
Mokuba dropped the towels and darted off to Rafa's side. The maid carefully laid the tray down and comforted her as well.
"Seto, what happened? Why's she crying?" Mokuba asked.
Kaiba stood there, his mouth agape. He wanted to speak, desperately, but he his brain could not register a single word.
That's when Rafa continued . . .
"I became prostitute . . . I was supposed to get money from other men . . . to pay debt . . . I was to sleep with them . . . listen to them . . . do everything they said . . . even things too awful . . ."
Then the CEO saw the maid's hand reach out for a tissue and quietly give it to the weeping woman. Rafa wiped her eyes and blew deeply into the little napkin. She then took another tissue and dabbed her eyes, which were an ugly, puffy red in contrast to her bright blue irises.
"So I . . . I ran away . . . Wanted to explore Domino and be free . . . but they saw me and wanted money . . . I thought I would die!"
Mokuba patted her back while the servant poured a cup of coffee.
"Would you like cream and sugar?" The maid asked softly.
Rafa nodded her head slowly. Kaiba could only stare at her sadly, now regretting more than ever that he made her confess this way.
'I've made women cry before – many times actually . . . but I have never made a single one of them cry in front of Mokuba, especially not over something like prostitution . . .'
"Ugh . . ." He muttered, averting his eyes away from the two of them.
Then the only thing he could see was a steaming cup of coffee.
"Cream and sugar, Master Kaiba?" The servant inquired.
The CEO nodded, and quietly took the cup of coffee after its preparations.
The maid then approached Rafa with the clean bandages, while Kaiba and Mokuba turned away for the sake of privacy. He heard the sound of ruffling fabric, and he presumed that Rafa had already taken of the garment.
"Rafa," Kaiba said, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry that these things happened to you."
He heard her sniffles and finally a loud nasal blow.
"Look, you can relax now. I won't give you up to the police."
He didn't turn to respond, afraid he'd catch Rafa while still unwrapped. Sure, he would admit to himself that she was attractive in nothing but a man's shirt and boyshorts, except . . .
'Sadism aside,' he mused, 'there's nothing arousing about two bloody, open wounds . . . especially ones that caused me three days worth of nightmares.'
"As long as you are with me, Rafa, there is nothing you need to worry about. You will be under the protection of Kaiba Corp."
He heard a light swoosh from behind him.
"Re—really?" She asked.
"There we go, Miss Rafa," the maid said, after two snips of a blade.
Both of the Kaiba brothers turned around, with Rafa already buttoning up the top. She still sniffled a few, quiet times before deep breaths replaced them. The tears had finally stopped flowing and she wiped away the remaining salty film covering her cheeks with a towel the house cleaner provided. She turned her head and looked up to Kaiba, her eyes as charming as they were the first time they met. Her lips curled into a small, serene smile.
It was at that second Seto Kaiba felt a sudden jolt rush through his spine. It caused his arm to spasm and his face to flare up instantly.
"I – It's nothing," he stammered.
He had a sudden yearning for his leg to somehow contort out of its socket and kick him in rear. Meanwhile, his eyes darted away.
'Damn it, Kaiba!' he could hear his mind scowl, 'How the hell can you not make a coherent sentence out of two words?'
"J – Just go back to sleep, alright?" he told the girl, "Rest now so you can get better soon."
"But I no tired . . ." Rafa retorted.
Kaiba sighed, his headache slowly returning, and turned towards the girl.
"You need time to heal," He insisted.
Rafa puffed her cheeks indignantly and her eyes contested with his own on who could out-glare the other. He could have sworn that the deeper he gazed, the more her eyes seemed ablaze with blue flames.
"Hey Seto," a different voice chimed in, instantly lassoing Kaiba's attention directly to Mokuba, "I got an idea!"
"What is it, Mokuba?"
Mokuba took in a calm breath and suggested, "Why don't we show her around the place after her nap? I mean, I'm sure she'll get better if she moved and had some breathe some fresh air, right big brother?"
Mokuba eyed his brother with those gleaming, violet eyes and large smile. The smile made the elder Kaiba shiver internally and his eye twitch. He quietly threw his eyes off Mokuba, only to meet Rafa's gaze, and shuddered. Her eyes were practically sparkling – like a duo of freshly cut blue topazes framed with diamonds. His entire face felt white-hot and his stomach churned uncontrollably. His brain slowly began drawing blanks on even the most simple of concepts, like math and short-term memories. His head was practically spinning when he said the word:
His stomach suddenly felt like lead.
"Now get some sleep already," he muttered.
"Thank you," she said, finally lying on the bed.
Kaiba briskly turned his back to her and made his way to the door, not wanting to stomach another moment of being within her presence; else, he would probably faint from nausea. Mokuba followed closely behind his brother and then shot past him as the young man closed the door. Mokuba then pivoted in place and stared his brother down.
"What is it Mokuba?"
Kaiba walked away from the door, eyeing his young brother suspiciously. Mokuba was wearing a rather odd-looking smile, one lacking of innocence, while his eyes seemed to stare down into Kaiba's very thought process.
"I saw it, Seto, you were blushing!" Mokuba said mischievously.
Kaiba continued looking at his brother, though now he was raising his brow in confusion. "What are you talking about?"
"You like her, Seto," Mokuba continued. "I saw the way you were looking at her. You face was so red that it wasn't even funny!"
Kaiba shook his head and glared at his brother indignantly.
"Look, I dunno what in the world you saw . . . but there is nothing going on between me and that woman. We're just acquaintances, nothing more."
Mokuba took a step towards Seto Kaiba, causing the older boy to slowly step back into the wall. A sudden feeling of dread seemed to tickle the back of Kaiba's mind while his young sibling continued staring him down. His stomach churned once more.
All of the sudden, Mokuba turned away from his brother and walked off, keeping his hands at the back of his head.
"I'll let you off, for now, big brother," he said.
He instantly spun around and eyed his brother again, flashing another impish smile.
"But you're gonna let your guard down, sooner or later. I know, I am your brother after all . . ."
With that, he departed, whistling an innocent tune as he went down the hallway.
Kaiba leaned back against the wall and let out a long, frustrated sigh.
"God damn that woman," He mumbled, "She turned my brother into a match maker . . ."
He toiled his way to his own bedroom and fell face-first into the downy mattress. Despite the softness his comforter brought, Kaiba could only sigh at his predicament.
"This is going to get worse, isn't it?"
He closed his eyes, his mind drifting off to sleep. However, he would have the last word before he completely blacked out.