"Yug'!" "Yugi!" Yami heard a familiar voice call out in his direction, as the crowd of admiring fans gathered closer and closer around him. The groups of enthusiasts were all trying to get his attention, jumping up and down. Smiling faintly, Yami looked around for his friend.
"Aw, come on, move it—Oomph! Sorry, sorry…Ouch! Hey! I said I was sorry, didn't I? Hey, Yugi!"
Fumbling through the crowd, Joey finally managed to break free of its grasp, with a scowl. Looking up at Yami, his face broke into a wide grin. "Gettin' kinda popular, eh, Yug'?"
Yami blinked and looked around at the mass of people, which was beginning to wane a bit, groups of dueling fanatics walking away in huddles, chattering excited amongst themselves ("Did you see that combination? Yeah, it was amazing! I can't believe he pulled it off, and at the very last minute! How unexpected, right, but that's the King of Games for you!)
Joey chuckled and grinned wider, reaching over to pat Yami on the shoulder. "Well, you've definitely earned publicity! That duel was really something. Taking down Kaiba again? Oh, yeah! Way to go, buddy!"
Yami nodded, pleased that his friend was so thrilled over his victory. Yugi, within their mind, was in high spirits, too, but Yami could sense a bit of sadness- worry? - there, as well.
What is wrong, partner?
…I'm glad we won, really, but don't you think Kaiba looks sort of…off?
Joey, who had been looking over at the crowd, was waiting for Tristan and Tea to appear. The blond glanced over at Kaiba, apparently following the same train of thought of as Yugi.
"Hey, Kaiba's not looking so good, huh, Yug'?" Joey mumbled, looking slightly troubled.
Kaiba looked up, almost as if he had heard Joey's muttered concerns, and glared over at Yami and Joey, crossing his arms. He sneered at Joey's almost sympathetic expression, beginning to stalk over to the dueling duo. Yami couldn't help but note that his long, flowing coat, which fit his body so well, was gliding around him with a certain grace that only Kaiba could hope to achieve. As the stony-faced youth approached, the crowded divided with wide eyes, leaving a clear path for him.
Joey grunted unhappily. "They coulda done that for me…"
"Ha, that's funny, Wheeler," Kaiba snorted out with bitter amusement. "You shouldn't expect people to make room for a worthless mutt. You're already a waste of space."
"Why, you!" Joey yelled curling his palms into fist, stepping dangerously close to Kaiba, a scowl replacing his grin once more. "Kaiba, you're just mad that Yugi beat you in a duel, again! Bet I could you right now!"
"Oh, please, Wheeler," the CEO scoffed, standing his ground effortlessly, "You aren't half the duelist that I am. I'm not going to waste my time on an amateur like you!"
Yami leapt forward, grabbing Joey's shirt and pulling back, hard; Joey had lunged forward, one hand pulling on the collar of Kaiba's shirt, with the other fist pulled back, about to strike Kaiba.
In the back of his mind, Yami registered that something had dropped to the ground with a light crashing sound, unnoticed by all the others.
Then, noticing the precarious position of the other hand, Yami quickly grabbed the offending arm, before any harm could be done and Joey did anything that he might regret later. The crowd was now gasping and pointing, backing away from the scene. A few even ran away altogether. Not a single person rushed forward to help; they all seemed content to watch safely from a distance.
"Joey!" the Pharaoh called out, grabbing onto his friend tighter, pulling him closer. "Joey, don't do anything rash, you must calm down!"
Joey grumbled and reluctantly began to remove his hands, but Kaiba, looking disgusted, ripped his hand off of him. "Don't touch me, you third-rater!"
Joey's limited patience with Kaiba had worn, and he cried out, launching himself at Kaiba again as he broke out of Yami's clutches, but gave a yelp, as he was thrown to the ground.
Tristan and Téa had finally arrived; Tristan had run full-pelt at Joey, knocking him to the ground, once he had seen that Yugi didn't have the strength to hold him back for long. Téa was looking at Kaiba furiously, upset that he had been making fun of Joey like that.
Inside of their mind, Yugi was a bit upset, too. Poor Joey. Yami, why couldn't you have liked someone a bit nicer?
"Joey," Tristan groaned while shaking his head, still pinning him down on the floor, "you shouldn't get so carried away. It's just Kaiba. Calm down, man!"
Yami looked up at Kaiba, analyzing his expression. He had his arms crossed again, and he appeared even more cold and haughty. The rich and powerful youth drew himself up to his full height, and looked down at Joey's fallen form with a look of bored disinterest. Yami wondered why Kaiba was being especially cruel to Joey today. Perhaps it was just his way of taking out his anger on someone.
Suddenly, Kaiba lifted his head and caught Yami's stare, his eyes seemingly cold and unchanging.
But yet…was it just Yami's imagination, or had a faint blush scattered across Kaiba's smooth, curved, pale cheeks? And behind those frosty eyes, surely he had seen a blaze of fiery determination that caused his insides to melt, just looking at him? And why did he feel such bitter regret, seeing Kaiba's retreating form strutting away into the distance? Or was this all in his head? Was he, himself, going mad? Surely not…even in his five thousand years of imprisonment in the puzzle, he hadn't gone insane…had he?
Looking away swiftly, Yami heard Kaiba call out to him. "Next time, you won't be so lucky, Motou…next time, I'll beat you." He continued forward, but then paused, looking back. His face was void of expression—Perhaps Yami had just imagined the blush, after all.
Just thinking of him caused light, pink-colored flush to rise to his own face. It was so…strange. Shouldn't he feel relief, now that Kaiba was gone, and no serious conflict had occurred between him and…Joey!
He had forgotten about his friend in the midst of all these confusing emotions!
Looking around, he saw that Joey was now lounging on the ground, his face propped up on his hand, elbow on the ground. "Hey, Tristan, you could, y'know, let me up, now? Just an idea."
Tristan and Téa, both smiling apologetically at Joey, grabbed his arms and helped him up, leaving him to glare at the spot where Kaiba had disappeared, dusting himself off.
"Why, that jerk!" the blond raged after thanking his friends, "When I get a hold a'him, he's toast!"
"I apologize, Joey, for holding you back," the Pharaoh answered, frowning slightly, "but—"
"—Yeah, I know, Yugi, I shouldn't have let my temper get away from me. Just wish Kaiba wasn't so—hey, buddy, are you alright? You look kinda funny…sort of how Kaiba looked earlier…"
Do I? Yami blinked, feeling his face warm again. Was it really so obvious? "I'm fine, Joey. You should not worry about me, my friend. Do you not have a duel to prepare for, anyway?"
Téa giggled, covering her smiling mouth her hand, answering for Joey as his eyes widened, and he perked up with anticipation, now blushing himself. "Yeah, and he's dueling against Mai Valentine. Won't that be interesting, Joey?"
Joey turned his head, looking away. "I have no idea what you're going on about, Téa. Really. You're going crazy or somethin'."
"Oh, really." The teasing reply wasn't even a question.
Yami watched with amusement as the two bickered back and forth, walking towards the arena, Tristan by their side. None of the gang noticed that Yugi wasn't trailing along after them.
"Yeah, and if you're implying that—waitaminute! Where's Yugi?"
"Right behind you," the Pharaoh called. "I'll be with you in a minute! Go on without me."
"Oh, okay, Yug'. You sure?"
"Yes. I won't be long."
"Alright, buddy! Come on, guys, don't be so slow!"
"Joey, I'm not a guy! I'm a girl!"
"…Are you sure?"
And away the group rushed.
Yugi, looking confused, appeared by Yami's side, semi-transparent. Sidestepping as someone nearly walked through him, the apparition began to speak. "Why are we waiting behind, Yami?"
Crouching down low to pick something off the ground Yami raised it up to show to Yugi, turning it over in his hands. "When Joey caught hold of Kaiba, I noticed that this had fallen to the ground…" The Pharaoh bent closer, dangling the object in his hands. What exactly was it? Curiosity began to fill his mind, and he examined the item more.
It appeared to be a Duel Monsters card, but it had two back covers on each side, brown with a black dot decorating the center, and a metal loop attached to the top. Strung through the loop was a thick, yet broken, thread.
Yugi gave a minute gasp of realization, causing Yami to look up at him, blinking. Did Yugi know what this was?
Yugi rubbed the back of his head furiously, his expression apologetic. "Err, sorry, Pharaoh, it's just that I recognize what that is, you see."
Yami nodded expectantly, encouraging Yugi to explain without further preamble. "Yes, Yugi?"
"It's a locket; it looks like a Duel Monsters card, but it holds a picture inside…Grandpa used to sell them at the shop!"
Yami's eyes widened slightly, his eyebrows furrowing. Kaiba? A locket?
Yeah, Pharaoh, I don't really see him as a locket sort of person, either…I wonder whose picture is inside?
Curiosity heightened again, he began to pry at the, now obvious, hinges at the locket, but was quickly slammed by a truckload of guilt, leaving his conscience sprawled out and weary. Would Seto Kaiba really want him to look at this?
…The answer to that question was blindingly obvious. With a sigh, Yami tucked the object safely away into the pocket of their pants. He would have to take it back to Kaiba, later, after Joey's duel. The gesture earned him a small, knowing smile from Yugi.
"Pharaoh," Yugi said, looking closer at him, "you're doing the right thing."
Yami nodded, acknowledging the fact, but still felt a bit uneasy. In all honesty, he wasn't doing this necessarily because it was the right thing to do, but because Kaiba was Kaiba, because he raised his brother, and raised a company, and shouldn't have a worry about a lost locket, because he was having a bad day, because Yami truly admired him at times, and lately, quite a bit more, because Kaiba shouldn't have anyone pawing through his belongings. Because, because, because.
…because just looking at him caused his heart to thunder away, and because he felt alive when he was dueling him, and because this would provide the perfect excuse to go see him, be near him…
Yugi coughed, distracting the Pharaoh from further Kaiba-thoughts. It was probably a good thing, because Kaiba seemed to be on his mind a great deal, recently…Kaiba's determination, his will, his—"
Yugi coughed again, blushing lightly.
Oh. Yes. Yugi.
"You seem to really like Kaiba, don't you, Pharaoh?"
The ancient being blinked rapidly, looking over at Yugi, who had turned his face away. Hadn't Yugi said something like that, earlier, more or less?
…Was it just him, or was Yugi blushing more and more by the minute?
"I suppose so," Yami considered aloud, contemplating the matter. Many surrounding civilians shot him confused glances as they passed, but then shrugged, continuing on their way. He is an excellent duelist, after all. He's very skilled.
Yugi smiled softly, looking ominous about the whole situation, and turned further away from Yami. Not everything revolves around Duel Monsters, Yami.
…What do you mean, Yugi?
There was no answer. Yugi had already faded back into the puzzle, and, apparently, he was going to let Yami decipher these mind-fuzzing emotions on his own. Yami could only hope he could solve this enigma before it got the best of him.
A few hours later, Yami was on his way to Kaiba's company, which wasn't all that far from the arena, where the mini-tournament had just been held. He was here, walking down the sidewalk that lead to the business, to return the locket, the one he had found earlier. Doing the right thing.
If only that was the sole reason Yami felt urged to return Kaiba's belonging. Perhaps he was becoming overly…fond…of Kaiba…
He felt Yugi's presence grow warm at the thought. Yugi?
Still no answer.
The polished glass doors slid open as Yami moved toward the staggeringly large skyscraper, which had the Kaiba Corp. logo headed over the top of it.
A swell of excitement began to build inside of the Pharaoh as he entered, shivering slightly as the warm, conditioned air battered his body (a drastic change from the chilling conditions outside), while he paced up to the front desk evenly, keeping his expression serious.
"I'm here to see Seto Kaiba," Yami told the stoic lady behind the counter, who was typing away at a desktop, muttering to herself ("Yeah, you and every other crazy, these days").
"Mr. Kaiba," she answered in a nasally, snobby tone, "is not seeing anyone at the moment. Would you like to make an appointment?"
"…When is the next available time?"
Type, type. Click.
"You can be scheduled in…next month," came the monotonous, uninterested reply.
"Next month? You don't understand, I must—"
Yami turned around, blinking as he heard a youthful, boyish voice, and saw a petite figure with lengthy black mane and a wide smile.
"Hello, Mokuba." Yami greeted the boy, smiling slightly. Out of the corner of his eye, Yami, inwardly satisfied, could see the secretary freeze up. The fact that he was on first-name terms with the younger brother of the guy who signed her paycheck must have unnerved her. Wonder why.
Mokuba smiled back, but his eyes crinkled in curious confusion. "What are you doing here, Yugi?"
"I have to return something to your brother. It's very important. Do you think that I could see him for a moment?"
Mokuba's smile faltered, fading, and he looked back. His gaze met the doors of the elevator, and it looked like he was thinking hard, but he also looked resigned. His eyes dimmed, making him look sadder than ever. Yami knew that Mokuba had noticed Kaiba's mood earlier, too.
"I'm sorry, Yugi, but he said that he wasn't going to see anyone, today…"
The Millennium Puzzle flashed brightly as Yugi took control over their body, unnoticed by Mokuba, who was still looking back, melancholy.
What are you doing, Yugi?
Just watch and see. Trust me.
"Hey, Mokuba?" Yugi asked, leaning forward.
Mokuba looked back to Yugi, smiling again. The gesture didn't quite reach his eyes. "Huh?"
"How about," Yugi inquired, "letting me see your brother if I beat you in a duel?"
Mokuba's eyes lit up, his expression becoming animated once more. Grinning, the young boy bounced up and down eagerly on the heels of his feet, his brother troubles pushed aside just for now. "Really? A duel? With you?"
Yugi smiled, nodding. It sort of felt like taking advantage of the boy's excitement, but he knew Yami really wanted to see Kaiba. "Yep, but remember you have to take me to see your brother, if we win, okay?"
"We?" Mokuba echoed, looking confused.
Yugi rubbed the back of his head furiously, his smile straining. He hadn't meant to say that. "Heh, I meant if I win…"
Mokuba nodded, looking wound up again, and grabbed Yugi's hand, leading him down the hall. "You're on, Yugi! You just better not be upset when you can't see my big brother!"
Yugi laughed quietly with Mokuba, trailing after him down the hallway. His conscience squirmed, but he couldn't see any other way to get to Kaiba without Mokuba. Go easy on him, Yami.
Of course, Yugi.
Then, the puzzle flashed once more, signaling the change of possession.
Yami had kept his word to Yugi, and had kept his strategies easy on the younger Kaiba. Still, it had been a short duel. Not that Mokuba hadn't done well—he was a Kaiba, after all.
Mokuba didn't even look bothered by his loss as he lead Yami to the top floor, to his brother's office. The boy hummed as he turned a corner, Yami following right behind him. How very different from his brother's reaction, Yami thought.
Abruptly, Mokuba knocked on one of the doors. There was a plaque on it, labeled:
Chief Executive Officer of Kaiba Corp.
There was a key pad next to the door, and Mokuba punched in a combination of numbers, too rapidly for Yami to make any sense of it.
Letters flashed on the screen.
Mokuba Kaiba….Processing…Access granted.
The door clicked open, allowing Mokuba and Yami to walk in. "Seto…? Yugi's here to see you!" Mokuba laughed nervously. "…Surprise?"
Kaiba was sitting down in an office chair, behind an official-looking desk. On this desk, Yami noted, curiously, multiple Duel Monsters cards were spread out. Kaiba was bent over, looking at them studiously, and his manner was stern and careful.
Yami spotted the three Blue Eyes White Dragon cards, dead center in the pile.
Looking at Kaiba, he could see the CEO glaring at him, and then the other youth opened his mouth to speak. In the back of his mind, Yami became aware that Mokuba wasn't in the room anymore. He must have run off…
"Just what do you want, Motou? Come to brag about your victory?"
Yami shook his head, scowling slightly. Did Kaiba always have to be so badly tempered towards him? Did his presence really annoy him that much?
"No…I have come to return—"
"I just don't understand!"
Yami blinked at Kaiba's outburst. He didn't understand what exactly? "What do you mean…?"
"You! How could you beat me again and again!" Kaiba spat out bitterly. "You—You're not even Yugi, are you? You're that other Yugi, aren't you?"
Yami nodded, slowly and unsurely. Had Kaiba always been able to see through them so easily, or had he just noticed now?
Kaiba stood up slowly, taking some of the cards from his deck, and moved to a window, opening it up and looking out with cold eyes that matched the frosty weather. "Am I weak? Is that why you constantly defeat me?"
"I will," he claimed, looking over, a determined, defiant look in his eyes, "defeat you!"
Taking the cards in his hand, the brown-locked teen thrust them out of the window. There was a stiff silence as they both watched the cards flutter in the wind, as they blew away. Finally, Yami began to speak, trying to keep the anger out of his voice.
"Why did you…do that?"How could you do that?
Kaiba turned around, staring Yami in the face with those scorching arctic eyes of his, chilling Yami's boiling rage.
"Those cards were weak, so they were disposed of," the CEO replied, "They were a risk."
Frowning, Yami tried to read in between the lines of Kaiba's words. As Yugi had said earlier, not everything revolved around the world of Duel Monsters. This had to have a deeper meaning, something that Yami wasn't getting.
Finally, Yami got up, reaching into his pocket, and tossed the locket he had found onto the desk. The remaining cards scattered onto the floor. He didn't say a single word; this action spoke louder than any word he could have uttered.
Kaiba looked from the locket, to the cards, to Yami, his expression becoming blank.
Yami began to speak again, sounding resigned. "Turn your weakness into strength. Learn from your mistakes—don't cast them aside…You aren't the person I thought you were…I think I should leave—"
Yami turned back around, staring Kaiba in the eyes. Something about them looked…different. A crack in the ice? "Yes?"
"Prove it," he said simply.
"Prove that you can use weakness to make you stronger. Prove that I'm wrong."
Smirking slightly, Yami moved back around, walking boldly up to Seto Kaiba, and pulled him down, pressing their lips together.
Yami walked back into the cold, a small smile on his lips.
He had never really explained his weakness to Kai—Seto—after all.
Seto Kaiba. Even Yugi had noticed that Yami had a weakness for him. This feeling, this warm, cliché, freshly-kissed feeling, was his strength. His weakness was becoming his strength. It was an odd way to phrase it, but it made sense to him. He only hoped Seto Kaiba could do the same.
Chuckling from his musings, Yami noticed a Duel Monsters card on the ground. Must be Seto's.
Grinning to himself, Yami picked it up and pocketed it. Another belonging to "return" to Seto Kaiba.
This fanfic was written for the Yu-Gi-Oh fanfiction contest, for Tier 1. It is my first attempt at Prideshipping, and my first ever entry for this contest ^^. I'm kind of worried it might be too lengthy…Oh, and the card Yami picked up is the Change of Heart. (hehe, that way I get to include a bit of everyone: Ryou, Téa, Joey, Tristan, etc.)Reviews would be lovely! Construction criticism would also be appreciated.