Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! is the creation of Kazuki Takahashi. This is a not-for-profit fanwork and I do not own any of these characters.
Setup for this particular fic:
- This story takes after chapter 3 of Scenes, "Hiring Scene."
"Excuse me, Fumie Samurakami…?"
The woman looked up from her drink to see a flustered looking man in a suit running up to her table. "Yes. You must be Isono?"
He bowed several times, bobbing like a drinking bird. "I'm so sorry! Something came up at work… I hope you haven't been waiting too long."
"It's all right, I know it can't be helped sometimes."
"Still, I did not mean to inconvenience you Samura…"
She waved it off, a little embarrassed by the formality. "Just Fumie is fine." She held her hand out. "It's nice to meet you."
"Ah… likewise." He shook her hand, then took a seat across from her.
Fumie studied him as they began making small talk about the menu. She had to admit, he was nothing like what she'd imagined. When her cousin had mentioned the possibility of setting her up on a blind date with her husband's boss, the Chief of Security at Kaiba Corp., she had expected someone really authoritative. Someone imposing. Guys like that weren't her type at all, but her cousin has assured her that Isono was a nice man, nothing like the bullheaded guard dog she was imagining. But all that said, Fumie hadn't expected the complete opposite either - a stammering, apologetic man with damp palms, one that looked more like a mild mannered businessman than a security officer of any sort, save the sunglasses.
To be fair, blind dates could be pretty nervewracking. Maybe he was just really nervous… and since he'd just gotten out of work, maybe his mind was still at the office.
"So do sunglasses come standard with your uniform?" she joked once the server had come and taken their order. He still hadn't taken them off. She wondered if they were glued to his face. She remembered her cousin's husband laughing when he told her they wore them even at night.
"Oh! I forgot…" He quickly swept them off, tucked them into his jacket pocket, and sheepishly looked back at his date, earning him an amused smile.
It wasn't exactly love at first sight, but he did think she was attractive. She had a long face and eyes the color of coffee, all framed by a fall of nearly black hair. And although it was hard to tell since she was seated, he knew from his coworker's description of her that she was tall and athletic too. She liked swimming and hiking. He also knew she worked at a department store, at the beauty counter, and had been at the position for two years. Before that she'd worked at a different store location, in her hometown. And she was divorced, with no children. Yes, he'd memorized the information on her appearance and lifestyle as if it had been written in a personnel file.
"Do you like your job?" she asked.
He brightened up. "Yes, I do."
"Isn't it hard to be head of a security department? Isn't it dangerous?" she wondered.
"Not really. But it's not easy either; I have to wear many hats. Sometimes I'm a manager, sometimes a chauffeur, or a company spokesman, a bodyguard, a referee, an advisor, an executive assistant. I'm definitely never bored." He paused, then added, "As busy as I am, there's still nothing else I'd rather do." It occurred to him he ought to add something else, either about who he was outside of work or redirecting it into a topic that might be more interesting for Fumie, but he couldn't think of anything. "Um, so do you like your job?" he ended up parroting.
Fumie smiled slightly. Talking about his job seemed to bring Isono out of his shell. And although the last thing she wanted to think about right after work was work itself, she knew it was a pretty obvious thing to discuss. "It's okay. It's not like yours. Not very exciting." She paused a moment, then said with a small laugh, "I admit, I haven't been on a date in… well, a while. I forgot how awkward it can be."
Hearing that they had that in common should have made Isono feel a little more at ease, but he wasn't sure where to go from there. He began nibbling thoughtfully at some bread as he thought about it. He didn't really want to ask about her prior relationships since the divorce could still be a sore spot for her. It wasn't like he wanted to open the can of worms that was his own personal life, either.
"No luck with relationships? Well, not that I should talk…" Fumie said thoughtfully after a minute. Isono stared at her. Then she asked, "You haven't been married before, right?"
"No." He grimaced inwardly. Apparently she didn't mind talking about it. Now he felt obligated to respond in kind. "I was engaged once…" Isono finally admitted.
She seemed curious, but it was a long story, and Isono wasn't sure he wanted to explain beyond that. "Things didn't work out," he said simply, though that was neither an accurate or satisfactory answer.
He'd been truthful about the fact that he'd been engaged. But it almost didn't feel real, like it'd been a distant dream, a lifetime ago.
He'd met his fiancée at a company picnic. She'd been working as a clerk in the accounting department at Kaiba Corp.… the old Kaiba Corp., with Gozaburo at the helm. He'd been just another security officer. But life had been pretty good then. A promising future had seemed easily within reach.
Then literally days after he'd accepted a promotion to a coveted position at the mansion itself, Gozaburo's son Noa died. Like his fellow employees, he'd mourned the boy's untimely passing though he hadn't really known him at the time – but it was his boss' son, so they'd all felt the loss. Gozaburo had seemed inconsolable at first, but then one afternoon not too long after the accident, he'd come home with a pair of brothers he planned on adopting.
The timing had seemed odd, but Isono hadn't questioned his boss' decision, until he'd started noticing how strange the relationship was between Gozaburo and Seto. They didn't seem to like one another from the get go, but at the same time Gozaburo had shown interest in everything the boy did and spent much of his free time with him.
One day, Isono's supervisor had sent him to do a "spot check" – he was to make sure that Seto was studying and if not, escort him to Gozaburo's office. Isono hadn't been sure what it all meant, but he'd complied. And sure enough, he had found Seto sleeping at his desk, his head resting on top of a thick textbook. He'd approached, reaching out to wake him, and the boy had surprised him by suddenly jerking awake, turning to stare at him with wide eyes.
"Are you all right, young master?" Isono had asked as Seto immediately turned away from him. The boy had already begun to slump a little. He'd looked noticeably tired, maybe even ill.
"I suppose… I'll need to go see my father," Seto had said in a low tone before standing up on shaky legs. Isono had noticed then that the boy was wearing a dog collar… was that a fashion trend amongst youngsters that he'd been unaware of?
They'd gone to see Gozaburo without exchanging any more words.
"Was he asleep?" Gozaburo had asked the moment they'd stepped into his office.
"Yes, sir," Isono had truthfully answered, thinking that he'd be told to make sure Seto got to bed and got some rest.
Instead, Gozaburo had risen to his feet, stepped forward with quick strides and slapped Seto across the face with enough force to knock him into Isono.
The security officer had reacted instinctively in reaching out to catch Seto, to steady him. He'd been shocked into silence by both the violence and by Seto's almost non-reaction. The boy had grunted when the blow struck his cheek, but then he'd pushed away from Isono to stand silently before Gozaburo, his bangs hanging down, nearly obscuring his eyes. Maybe it'd been enough to shield them from Gozaburo. But Isono had been standing at the right angle to see just between the strands of brown hair. He'd expected to find fear. Instead, the boy's eyes had been glazed over, as if exhaustion – and experience - had numbed him to the pain.
Seeing that, Isono had found his voice once again. Without taking a moment to consider the consequences, he'd placed his hand back on Seto's shoulder and blurted out, "Even though you're his father, you had no right to hit him. He did nothing wrong!"
"I had no right?" Gozaburo had begun laughing. "I have every right to treat my property how I see fit. Who do you think you are to tell me otherwise?" He'd reached out, hooked his thumb around the metal D-ring on Seto's collar, and jerked him away from Isono. The boy had gone to his father's side without further resistance. "Obviously, you're fired. Now get out of my sight!"
Isono had known that that was coming the moment Gozaburo had looked him in the eye and laughed at him. But as bad as it'd been to be dismissed, what had hurt far worse was seeing Seto standing there, roughed up and pale, and knowing there wasn't anything else he could do for the boy. Gozaburo had been too powerful an opponent; Isono had heard the rumors. He hadn't wanted to "disappear" just because he'd gone to the authorities with what he'd witnessed…
As much as it had bothered him, at least that was that… or so he'd thought. His fiancée had been fired the next day. The job market at the time hadn't been bad, so he'd thought they'd be okay, but he'd been wrong. Somehow they'd been blacklisted or something. He'd go for an interview and things would seem promising, but then he'd get a call back saying that he didn't get the position after all, and no one had been willing to give him a reason why. Days had stretched into weeks, then months. Guilt ridden, he'd shared his concerns with his fiancée that their former employer had something to do with their situation. She had blamed him… and then she left him.
In the end the only job he'd found was at a car wash, with a rather unsavory boss who didn't care about things like job references or tax laws. He didn't mind working hard, but it'd been disheartening to face the fact that he'd lost everything and was now trapped in a menial, dead end position.
A few years passed. Then one day, an immaculate white limousine had shown up at the car wash and a teenager stepped out and approached him. Isono had barely recognized him... Seto's eyes had still been guarded, but was no longer a little boy struggling under Gozaburo's thumb. The former CEO had died and Kaiba Corp. was now under new management, with a new focus: games. And Seto had come, he claimed, because he'd been looking through old personnel files and was in the process of beefing up his security staff...
Isono had gladly accepted the offer, even though it had meant starting over as just another security grunt working back-to-back crap shifts. But he'd been grateful for the opportunity and worked hard to meet his new boss' expectations.
When Seto had begun working on a "special project," Death-T, Isono had thought something wasn't quite right about it, but at the same time he hadn't been involved and so hadn't a clue just how far Seto was willing to go for revenge. Seto had never given Isono a reason for why he'd been excluded, and Isono had never asked, but regardless of the reason, Isono had only learned about the details once it was all over.
With Seto in a coma and his duelist's reputation at an all time low, the company had begun falling apart. But Isono had remained loyal even as many of his fellow security guards defected to Pegasus' Industrial Illusions or the Big Five, even when many more had fled from Dartz's hostile takeover of Kaiba Corp.
He'd almost thrown all that away when he'd stood up for Yami, just like he'd stood up for Seto all those years ago. But he'd seen how Seto's eyes lit up when he was with his boyfriend, how much Yami cared for him in return, and he couldn't bear to stand by a second time and do nothing while Seto was hurting. He'd been fired again for it. But unlike Gozaburo, Seto had come to his senses and rehired him, and even thanked him for having done the right thing, difficult as it'd been.
Yami had approached him a week or so after that and asked Isono why he'd done it, knowing that he'd been risking his job. It was the first time he'd told anyone else his story, maybe the first time anyone had cared to know. It had been nice, having someone who really understood…
"Isono?" Fumie said gently. She sighed when he finally looked at her, blinking. "I'm sorry, that must have brought up a bad memory."
He wondered how long he'd been spacing out. "No. Well, I mean… I was just thinking…"
"About your ex?"
Isono gave a small shrug. "About my boss, I suppose."
"Even though you aren't at work right now?" She sighed again. "Is he that much more interesting than me?"
"N… no, of course not! I'm just… dedicated to my job. And I'd left some work unfinished before coming…"
She smiled a little. "I was just kidding…"
The awkward silence settled back around them. Isono began wondering if there was an acceptable way to end a date early, without offending the other person. It wasn't that Fumie wasn't a nice lady… she was. But he was being a very poor date. He regretted that he'd let his coworkers talk him into it, when he hadn't really been looking for a relationship. Or was he being unfair? They had simply been looking out for him. And it wasn't like he'd been forced into it. Even he had thought it was worth giving it a shot, and she had seemed a suitable match on paper… "Uh, so… Well…"
And then his phone rang. Isono looked at the number, then stood up, bowed and said, "I'm sorry, I'll be right back," before stepping out to handle the call.
By the time he got back, their entrees had arrived… and he'd gotten the out he'd wanted – he had been summoned back to the office at his earliest convenience. For a moment Isono entertained the thought of taking his food to go, but the date was already enough of a flop without that. Fumie deserved better. He regretted he couldn't offer her more. The least he could do was be courteous and see it through.
He apologized again as he sat down. Fumie gave a shake of her head. "You really live for your work don't you?"
"It's who I am," Isono answered quietly.
"My ex always said the same." She studied him a minute longer, then sat back and told him, "You're a nice man, but you're married to your job. And I can see you're dying to get out of here. It's fine."
Isono glanced at his watch, then looked back at her. He wasn't in that much of a hurry. Some things could wait. "If it's all right, I'd rather stay and finish having dinner with you."
Fumie almost said no. She didn't want him to stay out of obligation, or because he pitied her, but she didn't want to eat alone either. "Are you sure?"
"Food always tastes better with friends." He took a sip of his drink.
"Friends…" At least he was honest. She liked that about him. Too bad that was far as they could go. But the date wasn't a total loss. She relaxed her shoulders and even slouched a bit in her chair. Now that it was no longer really a date, she didn't have to worry about keeping up appearances. "Why not, we're already here," she said agreeably.
- In the back of my mind, I've always wondered why Isono was so loyal to Seto when it seemed the norm for KC security members to turn traitor. You also don't see him until well after Death-T… and then he's suddenly there and even gets a name and a personality, which is pretty unique amongst the security guys (minus Saruwatari, who only got a name so that Mokuba could recognize him as a turncoat I guess?) So he was due to get a bit of back story.