Common disclaimers on the characters of Yu-Gi-Oh because they rightfully belong to Kazuki Takahashi-san. I don't own them, so don't sue me! I have very little money to spare as a college student.
Dedicated to my mother and father.
The living room was quiet and too big for her taste. The life of luxury, something that every ordinary person has in one point in their lives imagine living, turned out not to be for her. She could only nurse her freshly brewed but scalding hot chocolate with two large chunky white marshmallows floating on the surface and stare into the silence of the room.
The other habitants of the house were either away at their homes or have retired to their rooms. Even the two normally youthful balls of energy have gone to sleep upstairs. Well, one of them wasn't as youthful and the other was tucked in after much persuasion and fuss. But that was beside the point.
It wasn't that she minded the overly large carpet or the complete state-of-the-art entertainment center spread out around her. It wasn't the shadows that clung to the heavy double-layered drapes on the wall of glass across from her or the numerous glass bottles that sat inside an ornate wine cabinet next to a corner. In fact, she was the one who suggested that the hardwood floor be covered, that the stereos should be perched on the protruding platforms, that the drapes be drawn every minute of the day and night in order to allow the sunlight and moonlight in, and that the cabinet should be nearby for easy access between the dining room and the living room.
It was the unwanted silence that she wanted to so badly remove. At times, she would miss the buzz of the sports channel from the television or the sound of computer keys clacking. She couldn't hear the sound of the kitchen fan whirring or the tail of an owl figured clock swishing from side to side. There was no fragrance of white lilies permeating from the coffee table in front of her nor was there a large unsightly and space hogging rack piled with magazines dated from five years back next to the couch. The black cell phone charger that she had gotten used to seeing plugged in the outlet next to the television wasn't there and the random cactus plant was missing from the obscure corner besides the doorway.
Leaning back in the leather loveseat, she stared up at the high ceiling and sighed. There was nothing for her to filter out and only so many things for her to absorb as she waited through the silence.
After nearly three years of living in this mansion-sized home, she still wondered why she chose to live here. She was given the option at the beginning of it all—she could live in a small and comely house with three floors and a decent sized backyard and front lawn or she could completely move away from the small cultured homes of her youth and into the comforts of the dragon's lair.
She wondered if her decision was based on the traditional stereotype, the one where many elderly would quote "where the husband goes, the wife follows" or if it was something else. In fact, she was sure as a child that she wanted a house that was small enough for her to manage but big enough to raise a rather larger golden retriever in. It had to be painted a soft opaque green with black framed windows and a nice open porch in the front where she could sit in a rocking chair during the warm summers. There had to be a small gardening shed in the back so that there will be enough tools to tend to the garden that she would have grown in the front lawn.
Perhaps it was because she would have never imagined herself married to a man much above her average working family's status. Certainly, she admired a few celebrities in her youth and even proclaimed that she would marry a prince of a far away land. But as reality sunk into her life, she slowly began to see herself settled with a man who would be a diligent worker of the industry and a complete family man. They would have the most beautiful family with one boy and one girl. She would hold a steady job as well and do her very best to raise her children with all the love and discipline necessary. She would watch them grow up as she grew older and be satisfied. But now, she wondered just where on her road to that happiness did she get picked up and thrown into an entirely different twisted path.
Humming a mindless tune to herself, she sipped the last of her hot chocolate and left the cup alone on the table. Just as she did so, something white fluttered passed her peripheral vision. Blinking again, she turned her head quickly to the window.
A smile grew on her lips.
She walked over to the window and watched as a flurry of white spun and danced on the other side.
"What are you looking at now?" Arms snaked around her waist and tugged her backwards.
She shrugged. "Snow, obviously."
She could envision his eyes rolling. "You make it seem as if you've never seen such a thing."
"It's the first snow of the year, isn't it?" she asked idly. She covered his hands with hers and nuzzled her nose into his neck. She sighed in content at the warmth washing over her back.
He tipped his chin on her dark crown of hair. "I suppose. Is Setsuna in bed?"
She chuckled as she recalled the long process that it took to get the small bundle of energy to sleep. "Yes, she's sound asleep. Mokuba-kun spent quite some time with her before she finally felt tired. You are home late today though."
"A meeting with the board of directors came up at the last moment. It was the quarterly meeting with all other branches," he explained, fiddling with the gold band on her left hand. The sapphire-diamond encrusted engagement ring sparkled next to it.
"Well, I hope that went well," she said lightly. She turned slightly and pressed her ear against his right shoulder. Her arms slipped into his beige trench coat and looped around his waist. "Are you hungry? I can make you something."
He dipped his head and pressed his lips against her forehead in a proper greeting. From there, his breath ghosted along her hairline, past her cheek and across the shell of her left ear. "I'm not hungry, not particularly."
She definitely heard the smirk in those words, especially when she felt his fingers were brushing against the silk tie of her pastel pink evening robe.
"I still have some hot chocolate in the kitchen," she nudged his chin lightly with her brown crown. His hands folded against her midsection in subtle eagerness. She disregarded the gesture and pressed with her previous question. "Hot chocolate. Would you like some?"
The answer was obvious as day to the both of them. He sighed and relented. "Very well. Lead the way."
He unwillingly allowed her to step away from his embrace and followed the fluttering fabric of her robe to the kitchen. The fluorescent lights above them hummed to life as the sensors detected their presence. The small touch screen glowed with a faint blue light on the refrigerator door. She floated across the white tiled floor to the cabinets and pulled out a classic black curved mug reserved especially for his morning coffee or afternoon tea. He waited at the edge of the marble countertop island stationed in the middle of the kitchen.
With the layout imprinted in her body, she traveled around the island to the countertop next to the sink. A stainless steel kettle whirred quietly when she pressed the button that brought it to life. As the cocoa reheated, she grabbed the bag of large fluffy marshmallows from the pantry shelf. Two morsels were dropped to the bottom of the mug. A click told her that the chocolate was back to its boiling temperature and the liquid quickly filled the mug to the brim. The white marshmallows floated to the top.
Smiling from the inviting scent of chocolate, she placed the cup in front of him and gently urged, "Drink up."
"Hm," he took a whiff of the beverage and sampled it. She watched with her elbows on the marble top and chin resting in the cradle of her two palms. Her sky blue eyes carefully examined his wind-blown hair down to the bobbing Adam's apple. Every little feature was no longer unfamiliar to her. In fact, she could so vividly recall them, even the finer detail. Like that he had a thin pale scar on his right temple or that his single dimple on his right cheek showed when he actually smiled.
"You know," she started in a low tone without the usual brightness, "I never really thought that I would end up marrying a guy like you."
She hid a smile. He actually looked offended as he set his mug down. His eyebrow rose. "Excuse me?"
"Sorry, that didn't come out right. I meant to say that you don't really fit my younger self's prince charming, that's all." She chortled as his expression darkened.
"That amounts to the same thing," he said flatly.
"Well, I always thought my prince charming would have a sparkling white horse and live in an elaborate white castle hidden in the middle of an unknown forest. And then he would sweep me off my feet and away to this fantasy land of happily ever after, like all fairy tales do," she recounted to him with a pensive glaze in her eyes.
"The things you read when you were little…" he muttered under his breath.
She snorted. "You read the exact same things to our daughter. I find it hard to understand what is so horrible."
"She is a child. You are not. And they have made you delusional," he countered and drained the rest of the hot chocolate.
She shrugged. "Well, I didn't stay young forever. I outgrew those fantasies and planned to marry an average class worker. And live my life like any average citizen of Japan."
He suddenly pinned her with a glare. "Are you asking for a divorce?"
Sighing, her eyes rolled. "No, I'm not. I was just telling you what I was thinking. You always did like jumping to conclusions."
"I wouldn't if you weren't speaking in circles. You realize bluntness is the new way to beat around the bush." He marched over to the sink and rinsed out his mug. She walked up behind him and leaned against his solid frame.
"When was the last time you took a day off?" she asked idly as she felt his back muscles move. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other as he reached over to the drying rack to deposit the washed cup.
"The last national holiday," he replied as he turned around. He draped an arm across her shoulders, urging her to him. She hummed as she soaked in the warm of his torso. "You know that."
"I do," she agreed. "Setsuna-chan was hoping Otou-sama will have time for her school play next week. It is going to be after school ends. She told me that she was playing one of the main characters."
An eyebrow rose in curiosity at the hidden laughter in her tone. "A main character? The female lead?"
She giggled as she remembered the excited brightness in her daughter's eyes when the toddler told Okaa-chan her role. "Almost. She will be the 'Magical Tree of Life', a most important character of the story she said. It is so important that she insisted Otou-sama and Okaa-chan must be in attendance so that we may bask in her magnificence."
He made a noncommittal noise, somewhere between disbelief and amusement from what she discerned. "I will do my best to fulfill the wish of our hime-sama. But I might be leaving for America that weekend to finalize a few details for the park."
At the mention of work once more, she sighed and pulled back. Her normally vivid blue eyes dimmed as she stared into his cool cobalt eyes. "Can't you just send a representative in your place? You are rarely home as it is and Setsuna-chan is always waiting for Otou-sama to come home."
He let loose a heavy breath this time, finally catching onto what she was saying all this time. His left hand pushed his bangs back, a habit he picked up since Setsuna was born. The bangs merely fell back into place, a bit messier than before. "You understand that I am doing this because I don't trust anyone else. It has to be done or else I will lose the contract to another bidder. And I promise that I will take a long weekend off immediately after my return."
"You've said that many times before," she stated flatly. She took a step back out of his space and a sudden chill swept through her body. But she squashed it and continued to stare boldly. "Each time, more work comes up and Setsuna-chan gets sadder. You shouldn't make promises that you won't keep. It isn't healthy to be bringing her hopes down constantly."
"Are you sure it isn't yourself who is disappointed?" he questioned neutrally. He stepped forward and grasped her chin with his right hand. She allowed him to tilt her head up so that they were meeting at the same eye level. Of course, she didn't respond. The remark stung, true as it was. Irritation bubbled from within her. If he knew, then he ought to know better than to point it out.
He had the audacity to smirk at her unresponsiveness. "So it isn't only our daughter who is missing me. You are as well."
"Isn't it only natural that a wife misses her husband?" she retorted with a huff. "We do understand that you are busy, that you are bound to your work because it is one of your ways to show us that you care for us. But is it that hard for you to make time for your daughter? Or me? Do you know what she said to me when I put her to bed tonight? She said that even though Otou-sama doesn't tuck her into bed every night or kiss her goodbye before she goes to school in the morning, she knows that he loves her because he will always come home and leave that little chocolate star on her nightstand. Do you know how my heart broke when I heard those words from her? She's only four, Seto-kun."
He brought his face closer to hers so that their noses were touching. She turned her face away and his kiss landed on her cheek.
Her expression suddenly became weary. "Our little Setsuna-chan has so much faith in her father. Yet, as a mother, I can't overlook the disappointed stares at the door every night you are home late. Even though she's smiling and jumping around like nothing is wrong, I know she's crying a little on the inside."
He stayed silent. He knew that apologies would not repair the damage that he caused. Instead, he released her from his grip and he turned to the kitchen entrance. She watched as he ascended the stairs to the second floor and she followed. It was almost a habit for him to go up the moment he returned from home directly to their daughter's room so that he could place that single piece of chocolate, the single yet constant memento, for his daughter.
She was not disappointed when he set down the chocolate by their daughter's nightstand but she was surprised when he sat down gently on her bed.
The little girl in the bed, pulled away from her sleep by the light disturbance, slowly opened her heavy eyes. Sky blue eyes were darkened by the orange glow of the nightlight in the room. She sleepily murmured, "Otou-sama?"
"Aa," he uttered softly while reaching out one hand to cup her cheek.
The child snuggled into her father's large hand and smiled drowsily. "'kaeri n'sai, 'tou-sama…"
"Hm, tadaima, Setsuna-chan." He leaned forward and pressed a kiss to her dark brown crown. "Go back to sleep. I'll see you in the morning."
"Mmm, nighty night…" Setsuna mumbled as she drifted off again to her dream land. He watched her as her breathing pattern slipped back into slumbering draws before he made his way to the door way.
She bit her lip, feeling a little guilty but also a little happy, as she was touched by the fatherly display of affection. When he approached, she tried to speak but she stopped when he placed a hand on her back and guided her out of their daughter's room. She stayed silent as they passed Mokuba's bedroom and they heard him on the phone, indubitably calling his girlfriend.
"So, you'll be here in the morning?" she asked once they were in the privacy of their own bedroom. She stood by the bed, an arm wrapped around her waist, the other hanging by her side. She tried to squash the tiny bit of hope that was growing inside of her heart.
He shrugged out of his trench coat and draped it on the vanity chair. Facing away, he unbuttoned his shirt and said, "I told her that I will be, didn't I? I'm going to take a shower."
She held her breath as he stepped into the adjoined bathroom and the shower water started running. Suddenly a rush of air escaped her lungs as she dropped her night robe at the foot of the bed.
After turning off the lights, she sat down on the bed. She fell back and stared up at the white ceiling. Was she the one who was asking too much out of him? After all, she was still unused to the pace and the type of lifestyle that her husband led. Promises were easily broken, expectations were different, and secrets were prominent. She knew from the beginning of the importance of work to him but she also learned that family was more important to him, if he had to choose in the end. He was doing his best to be both a company executive and to be the patriarch of the family. But there were times when she wished that his presence was greater in their daughter's life.
She paused. Was it really about their daughter? Or was it her insecurity and feelings? She might not be the model housewife, but she did her best. She tried to fill in the void that was made by him for their child. Deep down, she knew that it wasn't enough, no matter how hard she tried. Not when Setsuna-chan always insisted that she wanted her father. Sometimes, she felt hurt by the child's words even when she knew there was no hurtful intent behind them. It shouldn't have, but it still did.
It made her question her ability as a parent and her presence within her daughter's life. And sometimes, those thoughts made her thing of the what-ifs. What if she married someone who was not one of the world's most influential man? What if she had a child or more than one then? What if she led the life that her parents led—both hard workers who would encourage their children to work hard, to have fun, and to do what they wanted rather than pressuring them with expectations greater than their age.
Sighing, she turned to her side, curling her body loosely into a ball on the mattress. Her eyes landed on the framed family photo of three on her nightstand. The little daughter was wrapped in her mother's embrace and her father had one hand on the girl's head and the other was intertwined with woman.
Would her children be different? Would Setsuna be different? Would the love from both parents be equal and the void non-existent? Would she be doubting her own mothering skills?
The bed dipped to her right. A strong arm came around her midsection and drew her backwards. She was tucked securely against his body before he reached down and pulled the warm covers over their bodies.
Neither of them said anything as their hearts beat in sync. They breathed together in the heavy silence of their bedroom. The small clock on the dresser ticked in the background.
One of her hands sought purchase in his across her belly. He squeezed it, exchanging the warmth between them. He brushed aside the hair from her neck and placed a kiss there. His apology stretched the tension and snapped something within her. She suddenly felt tears pricking at the corners of her eyes as she suppressed a sudden urge to sob.
The woman rolled over and wrapped her arms around his waist, eliminating the smallest of gaps between their bodies. She buried her face in his shoulder and her bottled fears spilled from her lips as tears slowly began to dribble against his nightwear. If he was surprised, he didn't show it.
"Setsuna-chan doesn't need me anymore," she murmured brokenly. "She always insisted that she only needed her Otou-sama because Okaa-chan was always there. It's so hard to hear that coming from her. I love her, I love her so much, but it still hurts. I don't want to replace her father's presence in her, but I want to know that she has me in her heart as much as she does in mine. I can only give, but she doesn't want to take any more. And I just don't know what to do."
He soothingly ran his hand up and down her spine but offered no words.
She slowly quieted and sighed after letting it all out. "Sorry about that."
"You shouldn't worry about these things. Setsuna appreciates you and loves you as you are her mother," he told her after much consideration. He tipped her chin up and pressed a kiss to her lips. He paused as they drew away. "You are most suited… And there is no other who can replace you, Anzu."
Her eyes peeked up at him as his peered down at hers. She knew that it was rare for him to say such things. And though he didn't fully assuage her fears, she was glad of his efforts. A smile appeared on her lips. "Thank you, Seto-kun."
A hum came from his throat. "Let's go to sleep. We have a war to face in the morning."
She nodded as she rearranged herself into a more comfortable position in his embrace. They exchanged another kiss and murmured good night to each other. Silently she lay next to her husband, listening as he fell asleep. Puffs of his breath brushed against her hair as he slipped into dreams, lulling her into a drowsy state.
Perhaps it was times like these that she remembered why she chose this life. Even though there could possibly be more hard times ahead, it was normal for any family because there would always be a balance of wonderful times. Through it all, she knew that he would be there to pick her up, to lend her a shoulder, to set her straight, and to love her. He was her pillar of strength and support, just as she was to him. Furthermore, they were to their daughter, Setsuna.
That was what made them a family.
And she might not be the perfect mother, but that doesn't make her love her family any less. Even if there were doubts afloat, there would always be someone there to dash them away and make her vision a little clearer.
Anzu allowed a smile to blossom across her lips as Seto curled his arm over her person tightly.
Sleep came easily as snow continued to fall.
AN: My first Anzu x Seto piece after a long, long time away from this fandom. I'm glad I wrote this—it isn't being a mother or a father because there will always be doubts being a parent. I hope all children, young and old, will be grateful of their parents' or guardians' presences in their lives.
Thank you for reading! Please review and leave some love!