A/N: Once upon a time I read a fic along the lines of "Seto Kaiba is ice and all he needs is some meltin'" trope which always, always rubs me the wrong way, and recently that thought/memory revisited me at a (convenient) time when I was listening to radio and there was this sad Russian song on with lyrics "Snow that has melted is [just] water" and BAM. An impulse to write this and deconstruct the trope. In my eyes, Seto Kaiba has never needed any sort of melting. He's perfect the way he is.

…And then I went and stole that line about "how can something so beautiful be so cold" from an old Latvian song about water lilies. (Seto Kaiba and water lilies. I feel a sudden urge to smack myself.) Am I a master of unfortunate implications yet, or do I need to try moar?

Disclaimer: Kazuki Takahashi and all associated companies are the rightful owners of the Yuugiou! franchise and I claim no association with any of them. No copyright infringement intended with this and no money is being made from this. Please support the creator by purchasing the official releases.

Warnings: none.

Molten snow is only water

Snow is nothing but a multitude of hard little crystals – sharp angles frozen to form something coldly beautiful. Cold silver glimmer under moonlight, blindingly bright gold against chilly winter sun, and a sharp rainbow if you look at it from just the right angle. Snow is beautiful because it is cold and frozen. Because light gives it depth and shine; it makes snow outstanding. How can something so beautiful be so cold? many wonder. Exactly because. Because it is. Because it exists. That is exactly what makes you stop and admire it, speechless and breath-taken, and slightly blinded. Hard sharp angles make it into what it is. Frozen water molecules make it into what it is. Cold and infinite whiteness make it into what it is. It is both a background and a dominant aspect in the painting of winter. Everything else, everything involved with it, covered by it, underlined by it, give it a visible texture and shine, and shadow. Snow is beautiful if it isn't molten.

When snow melts, it uncovers the dirt and trash, and castaways that have been hiding beneath it and between the layers of snow. (Snow melts in layers – top layer down and dirt from beneath it comes up.) It thaws and sags, and eventually turns into slush, running away in dirty rivulets across frozen ground. It runs into dirt where it festers. It seeps into ground and disappears, leaving behind the candy wrappers, soda cans, cigarette filters, animal feces, and other indistinguishable rubble for everyone to see. All the things that disappeared become visible again; everything that was hiding in the white turns up in the mud.

Molten snow is only water. Ordinary. Colourless. Invisible. You can see the wet dirt and wilted last year's grass through it. Molten snow runs over the ground where you look at it and don't see it. What you do see is only the wet ground and the trash that has been left behind. You don't see the water that used to be snow. You only see the wetness and it isn't beautiful, or breathtaking, or particularly defining.

Seto Kaiba is an impressive figure because he runs a multi-million dollar company. Because he has a younger brother for whom he is trying so hard; too hard, sometimes. Because he doesn't hesitate when making decisions, for there is no room for doubt, or stalling, or second guessing in the business world: do, or do not; move forward, or remain where you are and stagnate; rise or fall. He doesn't have the time to stop and think, not just because time is money, but rather because there isn't enough time – wait too long and somebody else will come up with your idea and make it public. Seto Kaiba is the object of admiration because he moves forward and makes everything around him fall in synchronised motion, and at just the right time. His company gives him determining features just as he determines the company's future. His younger brother shines on some emotions and motivations in his life. Success is his trademark until he loses.

The moment he loses – Seto Kaiba, personally –, some part of his defining features disappear just like the glow disappears from sagging snow, as it begins to melt. It loses all lustre – snow and Seto Kaiba, both. Partially molten snow has only a weak white shine; lost are the sharp rainbow-coloured sparks and breathtaking beauty, and it becomes only a cold white cover for the ground. When Seto Kaiba loses one aspect of his life, he throws everything into the remaining most prominent one – his company. He becomes ordinary. Lost are the sharp angles and light-reflective qualities. Mokuba can no longer add colour; he becomes a clouded sun, a whisper of colour and light that cannot render a gloomy scenery into a winter wonderland.

When Seto Kaiba loses, he becomes ordinary. Nothing special anymore. Invisible. And though he struggles to retain something of his former glory, it isn't possible. Just like the snow that has begun melting cannot stop (though it hides away in shadowy corners and valleys, and forests), so Seto Kaiba cannot regain his old status. It's old. It's gone. He won't rise. He won't shine again with the former power. He's just another business man, working hard – too hard – to keep his company afloat and that's it. He's not the number one anymore. He's not the King of Games. He is used-to-be. Ex-champion. Former best. He lost. He's a memory. He's gone.

Molten snow is only water, running away into dirt, into nothingness. Colourless. Invisible. Insignificant. Needless. There is nothing that can make it shine again.

Seto Kaiba loses. Seto Kaiba disappears.