A/N: So this has been a long time coming. I am still working, I just guess I'm not as diligent as I used to be. So, here you go.


Chapter 25.

"Welcome back, Kaiba-san," the psychiatrist said.

Kaiba sat across from him and made himself comfortable, his arms crossed and his ankle on his knee. Closed, but comfortable.

"How've you been?"

Kaiba was sure that was just a formalities question. Like the doctor wasn't aware. "Fine," he replied. "I assume you've received the other medical information."

"I have. It does make the folder a little thick," the doctor replied, a small chuckle in his voice. "What do you want to talk about?"

Kaiba sighed. "Homophobia."

The doctor's brows raised. "Go on."

Kaiba rolled his shoulders and looked away. At least the behavior didn't completely change. "I suppose it's because of tabloids. But it's a concept I guess I've never really understood."

Those were strange words coming from Kaiba's mouth. He realized that most people believed that he knew everything, and while there was a vast knowledge, much of it was book knowledge. He understood what it was, or why it existed, and could explain it in his own way, but sometimes other people's insight was perhaps the more important part. That was why it was more than just him in the company. Other people's thought and opinions mattered.

"Does this have to do with the implication of relations between you and the uh…the blond?"

Kaiba didn't give him a clue either way. "It just seems like one of those things that doesn't make too much sense, logically speaking."

"Are you facing this dilemma?"

Again, Kaiba gave him no hints. "When you walk down the street you see things like this all the time," he replied. He was careful in his choice of 'you' over 'I'. He thought about his words a lot more, making sure they mattered more, just in case he lost his voice again. "Most of the time, you give it no thought. Especially in the magazines. Glitterati spreading all these lies on either side."

"Well, it is one of those hot-button issues. Especially in the US," the doctor mentioned.

"You hear about friends turning on one another," he said, as if never interrupted. He closed his eyes and recalled Honda striking Jou. It was worse to see the expression on Jou's face than to actually see the physical altercation. "These people who have known each other for years."

"What has you thinking about these things, Kaiba-san?" The doctor wasn't considering these words too strange, though he was noting the inflection in Kaiba's voice. It was clear he was talking about something with himself, but it was hard to pinpoint exactly what.

Kaiba's eyes drifted to the wall, but he had uncrossed his arms, one hand in his lap, fingers tapping his knee, the other touching his locket, fingers running down the chain, still in need of repair. "Mokuba, I suppose. I remember a while back he was concerned that I was going to be alone forever. The idea came up, that perhaps my problem was my…sexual interest."

"How did Mokuba take it?"

Kaiba shrugged. An argument he didn't want to think about. "Alright, since he was the one who suggested it. He's a bit younger—things are different."

The doctor wrote down a few notes before finally asking: "Are you concerned you're homophobic, Kaiba-san?"

Kaiba closed his eyes. "I don't know."

It was almost laughable that now, after all that he had been through to just repair his ankle, he was back to using a cane. As he walked out of the doctor's office, this thought came to Kaiba as it had the past several days since he laid the crutches aside. Maybe that was because it was an easier thought than what had happened to Jou, or what Jou was going through.

The past few days, Jou hadn't really been speaking much, especially to him. Every time that Kaiba tried to approach the blond, it was like watching a turtle curl into its shell. After that, he found mundane topics the easiest to deal with.

How did you deal with betrayal? He knew of ways to deal with betrayal, but there was far off scale of this. Honda was nothing, and at the same time, he was everything to Jou. Long-time friends; Kaiba pretended that it didn't effect him like it effected Jou, but to see the blond upset was tense.

Halfway home, Kaiba checked his watch, then looked up to see the inersection, recognizing it as the same he'd had his accident at. His eyes closed; he didn't want to think about that now. He had to think, and worry, about Jou.

What could he do? Was he supposed to do anything? He had done plenty for Jou, but those were things that needed to be done. Getting Jou out of trouble, getting the lime light off of him, making up for his own mistakes and shortcomings.

Did he have obligations when it came to Jou's friends? They weren't his friends. Not really. They were more like acquaintances. Then again, he was the boyfriend. It was his place to at least stand up for Jou when no one else would. It wasn't like Jou was in the wrong anyways. It was him. It was his idea. If they hadn't kissed, maybe Honda wouldn't have been pissed.

Rubbing his temples, Kaiba let out a tough breath. Why was this all so difficult? What was wrong with just being? For a few moments in life, everything was just regular? It was like that before the accident. Every day went like the day before, and he was happy with that.

"Kaiba-san?" he heard. His head lifted. "We're home."

He must have been dazed. Nodding, he slid over to the door and got out, grabbing his briefcase. This was the only day that he was short at work anymore, and that was just so he could have the appointment.

Mokuba was home, as he could tell from the noise coming from the living room. It must have been the television. He set down his briefcase and hung up his coat. "Mokuba?" he called out, going towards the parlor. He hoped that he saw both Mokuba and Jou. With little expectation, there was little disappointment.

"Mokuba?" The raven haired teen looked up in surprise. "I must have interrupted something."

"Nah," Mokuba unfolded his legs from the couch and set his things aside. A computer, a couple of open files. There was a textbook, but it seemed lonely. "Just doing some work stuff."

"Picking up where I left off?"

"Kinda," Mokuba scooted over on the couch and gave his brother room. Kaiba obliged. "How'd it go?"

"It went," Kaiba replied. Neither of them really liked to talk about it, but at least Mokuba didn't chide him so much about going. "Where's Jou?"

"In his room. He hasn't come out all day."

"Mm." Kaiba stared at the tips of his shoes. That wasn't going to give him any answers.

Mokuba grabbed the computer after a few moments of silence. Even though Kaiba had been talking more, there were always bouts of silence that worried him. Like he was never going to hear his brother talk again. "He didn't go to work."

"That's a shame," Kaiba replied. "I can't keep bailing him out."

Mokuba shrugged. "I think he's depressed."

"He's upset," Kaiba replied. "Depression is a lot worse."

The CEO didn't need to look over to know that Mokuba was giving him soemthing of a 'you would know' look. That look, plus sympathy, for sure. Planting the cane firmly, Kaiba eased himself up. Mokuba followed. "I think we need to leave him alone."

"Perhaps."

"You don't think so?"

"I didn't say that," Kaiba replied, but he was heading towards the innards of the house. Mokuba was shortly behind. "Why don't you go outside, have the car pulled around?"

"Are we...going somewhere?"

"Maybe."

The directions were vague, and while Mokuba gave his brother a strange look, he didn't question the order. Now alone, Kaiba continued back into the house. His plan wasn't precisely a good idea, but it was a good as calculated risks went. If that was the best he had, then he would take it.

So he went to Jou's room, and he stood outside the blank door, wondering if the etches in the wood were going to deny him access. He didn't bother knocking, just opened the door and poked in. Jou was splayed out over the bed, asleep. It made Kaiba wonder just how long the blond had been laying there, alone, in his thoughts and letting them drive him crazy. And then, of course, there were the tears. Kaiba hadn't seen them, save for the brief moments after Honda had struck Jou, but he didn't doubt their existence.

"Jou," he said, loud enough that Jou turned over where he laid. "Wake up Jou. It's three in the afternoon."

"Don't wanna," he said.

Kaiba smirked. "I am taking Mokuba driving."

"Have fun."

"And by 'I am' I mean 'we are'."

Jou made a nondescript noise, like he was blowing air into the pillow. Kaiba took a few steps forward. "Go 'way, Kaib'. I don't wanna be a part a' this right now."

"Pity. You don't have a choice."

The blond finally lifted up from where he laid, and showed Kaiba the face that looked a little bloated around the eyes and gaunt around the cheeks. Emotions etched out over the last few days. "What's that now?" Jou rubbed nose with his wrist.

Kaiba turned around and went out of the room. He counted down on his fingers, down from three, before he could hear Jou's footsteps behind him. The silence hung on the high ceilings, especially as they headed through the living room and towards the door. Their speaking without words was captured in the austerity of the place, like a dialogue of the house. Kaiba looked back at Jou just to make sure that the blond was still on board. No smile, but at least he was compliant.

Outside, Mokuba was leaning against the car. The chaffeur was walking away, back towards the garage. The raven haired boy cracked a smile. "Hey Jou."

"Hey kid," Jou walked beyond Kaiba, and he gave Mokuba a spontaneous hug. "Ready for this?"

"For what?"

"We're going out driving," Kaiba replied. "You have to learn sometime." Mokuba's smile increased ten-fold.

"So, kid, whatcha know already?"

"Basics. Gas, breaks, reverse."

"Hopefully forward, too." Jou laughed.

The interaction was hardly forced. Color was returning to Jou's face for just being around Mokuba and interacting. The sadness was still lingering, like there was a cloud hanging over Jou's head, but enough of this would take it away. That, and a possible resolution between him and Honda. That was for another time.

"I'll take the passenger seat," Kaiba said. "Jou, you're in the back."

The blond nodded. He got in the back of the car, and Kaiba slipped into his seat. Mokuba was more than eager to jump in and start the car. "Easy now," Kaiba said.

Jou had poked his head up between the seats and was watching the two. "Moki, here's what we're gonna do, a'right? See that street up there? We're gonna get on it."

Kaiba turned and looked back at Jou. The blond nodded. "Get her'n drive and go."

"But take it easy," Kaiba replied. "No need to rush through this process."

"Ya learn from mistakes," he patted Mokuba's shoulder. "Now go. Just out the gate. Once ya get there, go left, a'right?"

"Alright."

"Not left," Kaiba countered. "Go right, that road ends."

"Nuh-uh. Ya drive with people and things, not to dead ends. Go left." Mokuba was driving forward at this point, and he was listening to the pair bicker. At no point was Kaiba getting frustrated, or so it seemed, but they were both trying to instruct him. He turned left, just like Jou said, and Kaiba rolled his eyes. Jou gleamed.

"Kay kid. There are signs, ya gotta watch out for'm."

"I know..."Mokuba said, exasperated.

"It's not like you do," Kaiba shot back to Jou.

It was Jou's turn to roll his eyes. "Keep it going, Moki. Remember the speed limit on this road?"

"Um..."

"Look for the sign." Jou said.

"No, look at the road. It's 40 km/h." Kaiba rebutted.

"Man, he don't learn that way," Jou said. "He's gotta not be dead straight lookin' at the road. He's gotta be like lookin' for signs and things like..."they were all jolted forward by a sudden stop. There was no one on the road, and there seemed to be nothing in front of them.

"Mokuba?" Kaiba looked over.

"I thought I saw something."

Jou laughed. "Go on, keep going kid it's okay. There's nothin' there. A leaf maybe." Mokuba started the car again. The pair wasn't bickering, at least for the moment, and was paying attention to Mokuba as he held the wheel tight enough to make his knuckles go white. "Chill, man. It's all cool."

"Speed up," Kaiba added. "You're going too slow for this road."

"Sorry, nii-sama..."

"Don't apologize," Jou chastized. "We're just here ta help. Cheerleaders; ain't that right?"

Kaiba nodded. "You're doing fine."

And they kept going. They circled around several of the streets that were in the area, bickering becoming their teaching method. Mokuba kept pressed to the road, trying to ignore the pair as they argued on how to teach him. At one point, Mokuba pulled the car over and looked at both of them. "Do I have to kick you guys out of this car?"

Jou laughed and batted Mokuba's shoulder. The whole time, Kaiba had the smallest of smiles on his face.

When they got home, Mokuba seemed more than relieved to get out of the car. Jou went around, grabbing Kaiba's hand to help him up and out. "Ya a'right?"

"I'm fine," he said. "What about you?"

"Eh, I'm good. Only wished I coulda helped Shizuka through all this but, ya know, it's cool to help Moki, too." Kaiba limped towards the house, Jou not far behind. "You go ta the doctor?"

"Yes."

"How'd it go?"

"As well as can be expected."

Their conversation was clipped, and Kaiba took a moment to consider that Jou was mad at him for what happened. As if Kaiba didn't blame himself enough, he had to wonder if Jou placed blame on him as well. "A'right. I'm going back to my room. I'll be down for dinner or something."

"Katsuya," Kaiba needed to do something to catch Jou's attention. "If I have caused this..."

"Kaib', just shut up. Whatever yer gonna say is stupid an' I don't wanna hear it."

"Fine then. I offered my thoughts."

"Yeah, I know," Jou said. "I jus' don't think whatever yer gonna say is gonna matter."

That hurt, and Kaiba knew it was because this was, in some sense, his fault. "I think you could be a little more adult than that."

"Kaib', I am bein' an adult," he said. "I don't wanna argue about what happened, 'cause that's what's about to happen."

"Why would it?"

"Because this is gonna turn into where you try and 'apologize'," he used air quotes, "and honestly that ain't gonna work. Ya can't bring my friend back. In fact, it was one fuckin' thing ta make proclamations, it's another ta do what we did."

"What's that? Be honest?"

"Kaib', you did that fer you. I was okay with jus' us being what we were."

"I did that because neither of us were comfortable being in the dark." He said.

Jou shook his head. "See, what'd I tell ya?"

"This is not an argument, this is a discussion."

"Same difference."

"You aren't arguing with me," Kaiba said. "You aren't even arguing with our actions. Because if you really didn't want last night ot happen, you wouldn't have gone along with it. Do not blame this on me."

"I lost a good friend because of this," he said. "What am I supposed to do now? How can I just walk up to him and be like 'hey, I didn't really mean to do that? I was just kidding'."

Kaiba was trying to think of something to say, but he wasn't going to talk himself into a corner. Instead, he stepped closer to Jou; the space between them was cold, like they weren't even in a relationship. "So, now what?" Kaiba finally asked. "Are you ending this?"

Jou looked away.

"If you are, tell me now." But the blond wasn't replying. They were both erect, waiting for the other to react, and the air was only getting colder between them. This was the most tame that they had broken up. Not wanting to let the chills linger, Kaiba walked past Jou, intending to go to his office. The blond grabbed his arm. Kaiba jerked away.

"I guess I just lost my right to touch ya, huh? Ya know, since we're doin' this, I don't get that. I was yer nurse an' ya didn't seem to care for me touchin' you. Now, I'm yer boyfriend, an' there limits?"

"Jou, don't start this..."

"It's nice to kiss and be intimate, but when you got yer problems, I don't know how we manage this."

Kaiba sneered. "I'm not talking about this."

"Oh, it's fine if you don't want ta talk 'bout somethin', but I have to?"

"Jou, I don't think you understand what your saying." Kaiba rebutted. Jou had begun to circle him. "You can get over this loss. Me? I know about my problems and am accomodating them as best I can in this relationship."

"Yeah, well, maybe I can't, a'right?"

"Losing a friend? If he cared about you enough, then you wouldn't even have to deal with this."

"You don't know a thing about friends," Jou said. "Who's yer friend? Me? Mokuba? You don't let anyone close. I'm not that close! The..."he lowered his voice. "The...you know."

"The sex?" Kaiba said. He almost laughed at how flustered Jou was. "I was trying. It's harder than you can ever imagine letting someone that close. I have given a lot for this."

"Why don't ya tell me? Don'tcha trust me?"

Kaiba scowled. "I trust you. I just don't feel like you need to know." Now he really was walking away, and he hoped Jou wasn't going to press it anymore. But the footsteps were there. He grabbed Kaiba by the shoulder, and before Kaiba could jerk Jou had turned him around and was touching the brunet's neck bare-handed. Kaiba was shivering as Jou's thumb brushed along his cheek.

"Stop it."

"Talk to me."

"This is about you, not me," Kaiba tried to move away, but his coordination problems were getting the best of him at the wrong time. He nearly tripped, and at least Jou was there to catch him. Kaiba fumbled in the grasp and tried to just make himself fall over so he could scoot away. The fussing caused both of them to go down, Jou on top of the CEO, and from there he could see the fear in his Kaiba's eyes like watching a thunderbolt strike a house.

The power in Kaiba's grip as he latched onto Jou's shoulder, and the shove that was more of a throw, left Jou stunned and backed close to the coffee table. He watched as Kaiba froze on the floor, confused, trying to remember how to pick himself up, and doing all but that. His hand was at his throat, and he was gagging, choking.

Jou was entranced, doing nothing but watching as Kaiba regressed. This was what must have happened last time. "Kaiba...Seto, snap out of it."

Kaiba clutched the shaft of the cane and got on his knees. He was moving at least, though he hadn't said anything yet. Before Jou knew it, Kaiba was overtop of him, the cane shoved against his throat. Jou grabbed it and was trying to push Kaiba away. When he looked into Kaiba's eyes now, there was hatred, but below that, there was fear. A child was cowering inside the body of the grown man. There was no mistaking the quivering. Jou had been hit once or twice by his own father when the man came home drunk, and it left him confused and a little ashamed.

"Kaiba! It's me, it's Jou. C'mon man, stop this. Ya don't know what you're doing."

"Your getting what you deserve," Kaiba said through clenched teeth. Crazed. Afraid and crazed. He was protecting himself from something. From someone. Who?

Jou didn't have to ask. "I'm not Gozaburo, Kaib'! It's Jou, it's yer boyfriend. I'm not here to hurt ya."

A single tear streaked down Kaiba's cheek, and at first he pushed hard enough to overpower Jou, the cane pressing into his Adam's apple and choking him. Then, suddenly, the pressure was gone and the cane had dropped between them. Kaiba was grabbing his shirt and it looked like he was screaming without noise.

Had he woken up?

That moment made Jou figure out something. He hovered over Kaiba, covetous and trying to do everything in his power to make Kaiba better. He was pissed off and upset about Honda, that much was true, but he cared about Kaiba too much to let him go. Not just as a caregiver. As a lover.

"What are you seein' Kaib'?" Jou unfolded and hoered over Kaiba without touching. When he gazed up, he realized that staff had gathered when they heard the ruckus. Mokuba was pushing past them.

"Seto?" He slid down on his knees next to the elder Kaiba.

"Don't touch him, Moki."

Mokuba nodded. "It's Mokuba, nii-sama. C'mon, get up. This isn't good for your leg."

"I'm sorry, Mokuba," Kaiba managed out, His voice stuttered, but he had control. "I'm never going to let him hurt you."

"I know you won't."

"Never...he's never going to touch you. I'll kill him first."

Mokuba was careful to place a hand on his brother's back. Kaiba flinched, but didn't toss Mokuba away. "He's not going to touch you anymore, either nii-sama. He passed away a few years ago."

The regression was alarming, but Kaiba seemed to be coming to his senses. Wordless, he picked himself up and planted his cane. Mokuba was right by his side, holding onto his free arm and leading him towards his room. The whole while, Jou was awed and stayed seated. He wasn't sure how long it was before Mokuba returned, no Kaiba behind him, and sat down beside him.

"You okay?" the boy asked.

"Confused."

"It's okay," Mokuba said. "He'll be alright. This doesn't usually happen. It might be a good thing."

"How can that be a 'good thing'?" Jou asked.

"Because maybe that's the thing he needed," Mokuba said. "He's never really...hinted or said anything to anyone about what's happened. He keeps it to himself. I mean...I barely know about it."

"He didn't exactly spill the beans back there," Jou said. His voice was getting more hushed, and he was beginning to figure out all that was happening. Before, he thought it was just rumors made up by the tabloids. Everyone knew Gozaburo was a tyrant-he figured that Kaiba had taken a few hits more than once, but now all their accusations were starting to sound less fantastical.

Mokuba shrugged. "If he does, will you, I dunno. Will you keep me posted?"

"Why would he tell me before you?" Jou asked. "Yer his brother."

"Because he must trust you more than me about it. He's protecting me."

Jou had to ponder that, because Mokuba left after that.

Kaiba was relieved to see Jou getting up and getting ready for work the next morning. That was only a minor priority. The brunet was looking at himself, stripped down to just his underwear, seeing the fading scars, reaching down to his let and feeling the chuck of calf that looked like it had been sewn back onto his leg. There was a knock on the door.

Before he said anything, he pulled on his dress pants. "Kaib'?"

He pulled on an undershirt and began buttoning up a silk dress shirt before he limped over towards the door. Already, he was regretting not grabbing his cane. He opened the door. "What?"

"I'm gettin' ready to leave."

"Be safe." He replied. He was about to shut the door, but Jou eased his arm in and closed the door behind him. Kaiba limped away, going back to the wardrobe.

"About yesterday."

"Let's not talk about yesterday," Kaiba said. "Are you still staying?"

"Well, yeah," he replied. "I mean, we're okay I think."

"As long as you say so," Kaiba replied. He was putting on his tie, and then limping back towards the closet, grabbing his jacket.

"Okay. So, I'll see you tonight?"

Kaiba nodded. "I may be home late."

"That's alright. I was thinkin' about headin' out with Mai."

"Alright," Kaiba nodded. "Just make sure you're home at some point."

"Yeah? Something important happenin'?" Jou asked, a little worried to ask.

"I just have something I need to talk to you about."

Jou nodded. Maybe this was what Mokuba was talking about. "Yeah, a'right. I'll be here if you will." And Jou left the room. Kaiba collapsed into the chair that was in the room, already knowing that his leg was bothering him.

He wasn't sure if he was ready for this.


A/N: I'm pretty sure we know what it is, but I really needed to work up to this moment. Until next time, KenSan out!