Warnings/notes: Implied sweetshipping = shounen-ai. Season 0-based. Death-T experience.

For Sunday night.


Let me show you where it hurts.

Sometimes Mokuba triggers.

It's the oddest little things that set him off, but they do. He sits at his laptop, typing a research paper on some paleolithic creature or other, flipping through the associated textbook and a quick turn of the page sends the image of an extinct embryo into his brain. This curl of the creature looks vaguely familiar, teasing the forefront of his thoughts until he unwillingly remembers where he saw it-

-and the thoughts begin to flow forward, the memory of what the cold chair felt like, the glass that surrounded him, the visions of horror and monster and nightmare tearing at him, a scream so piercing that took a moment for him to realize was his—

-the cold feeling of fear, stomach twisting and limbs aching unpleasantly and everything he ever knew shattering to the ground, because not only is Niisama not there to help him, but Niisama did this to him—

-he can't move, has never felt this weak and helpless and powerless before, he's never felt so alone, and he sees Niisama's mocking face in his mind, remembers the cold and cruel words—

-and suddenly he's shaking a little, tears running down his cheeks and a burning feeling in his throat because he just went back there and he can't stop thinking about it—

"But I love Seto," he mumbles to himself hoarsely, fighting back the tears, trying not to break. He doesn't hate Seto. He knows that after Yami no Yuugi broke the darkness in his heart he changed; Niisama's not like that anymore. He doesn't even blame Seto for the darkness. He knows what Gozaburo put him through.

But none of it stops the pain.

He feels even worse for feeling bad, because he knows how much Niisama has sacrificed for him, and that Niisama became dark and cold and mean because of everything he did for Mokuba, and he should love him and not hold this against him, but it just hurts so bad…

...what hurts the worst is knowing Niisama did this to him...

A small choking noise escapes his throat. A salty tear makes it to the corner of his thin lips.

Ryou looks up from his book, brown eyes darting and flickering in concern. "Everything alright?"

Mokuba doesn't know how to respond. He can't nod, because he can't lie to Ryou. He can't shake his head, though, because it would feel too much like putting the blame on Niisama. He just wishes Ryou never noticed.

Ryou understands Mokuba's silence more than Mokuba thinks he does. He leaves his chair, the legs scraping softly against the vinyl, and walks over to Mokuba. He crouches down embraces Mokuba, who doesn't hold him back but just hides in Ryou's chest and tries not to make any noise.

"Damn it," he chokes out. "It's the stupidest little things…"

"It's alright," whispers Ryou, softly caressing him. "There's nothing wrong with what you feel. Do you want to talk about it?"

A slight pause. "No."

"That's fine." He runs a hand through Mokuba's hair. Something about Ryou's gentle touch, something Mokuba hasn't received from Seto in years, really calms Mokuba down in the rare occasions that he needs it. Ryou knows it, and he feels warm and fulfilled when Mokuba's breaths begin to slow down and his fists unclench.

The burning tears don't stop, shamelessly staining flushed cheeks, and half of Mokuba expects a scolding, but instead Ryou's soft fingers wipe them away. The motion isn't done in a sense that tells Mokuba to stop his tears, rather than to make room for new ones. "It's okay to cry," Ryou had always told him, though he had been taught otherwise.

(The silence reaffirms their bond; Ryou's soothing fingers, eyelashes fluttered downwards and an understanding smile-.)

Ryou never asks questions, because when his turn comes (when something uncalled for triggers him and he freezes and shakes and his vision blurs), he doesn't want Mokuba to, either.