The clumps and threads of sweat drenched hair hung over his face, blocking small fragments of his vision. It wasn't a good view, anyway. Nothing but a toilet bowl he had spend the better half of thirty minutes heaving into. This was worse than usual. He hadn't even eaten anything this time, and yet, when he woke up this morning, after only a few hours sleep, the pain was tremendous, and he could barely get into the bathroom in time before he fell to his knees and began to gag. It seemed, though, as if there was a pause in the nausea. The pain lingered, but at least he could back away from the toilet and sit.
He rested against the side of his bathtub, running one hand through his hair. His arms and legs tingled, almost painfully, but not quite. He'd have to shower before going anywhere, but he wasn't sure if that would make things worse. He glanced to the medicine cabinet, which was still left slightly ajar from a midnight onset of pain that was quickly quelled by what was inside.
He slowly stood up, fighting back the wooziness, and opened the cabinet fully. There was a bottle of vicodin, with a patient name 'Isono Ito', the only person who knew about the pains, as of yet. He couldn't let something like this keep him from his work, and dare not let Mokuba know that he was being effected. He hated hospitals; places for the weak and ill, where he couldn't afford to be seen. And so, Isono lent him a hand, giving him his bottle to keep the pain away. He only used it if he absolutely needed to, and seeing as today was a particularly important day, a speech and press conference on the new enterprises of Kaiba Corp in the public parks of Domino City, he needed to. He popped out two pills from the bottle, slamming them back with no water. With a small shutter, he lowered his head, and turned toward the shower.
After thirty minutes, he was clean, dressed, and able to keep the pained expression from his face with the help of the now in effect drugs. Mokuba met him at the bottom of the stairs, with a happy smile on his young face. He was dressed in a fitted suit for a boy his age, colored a grey-navy blue with pinstripes, along with a white button up shirt, a blue tie, and a pair of black Italian leather loafers. "Things are going to be great, today! When everyone hears about how you want to renovate the urban areas of town, and give funds to the schools, people will be so happy!" He grabbed on to his older brother's hand, pausing. "Seto...?"
Seto raised a brow, "Hm?"
"You feel warm. And your hands are clammy." Mokuba started just a bit as his brother pulled his hand away swiftly, tucking it in his suit jacket's pocket.
Seto shook his head with a small smile. "I'm fine, Mokuba. I just washed my hands with warm water."
"You look tired, too."
"Don't I always?" Seto let a small huff out his nose, keeping a feigned smirk. Mokuba was quiet for a while, but eventually just nodded, continuing with Seto as they walked down the hall and to the front door, where Isono met them.
The business man greeted the two with a proper nod, opening the door for them. "Sirs." Kaiba nodded back to him as they passed through the door, and Isono followed behind them down the pavement. "I have the talking points written here for you, Mr. Kaiba. You can read them on the car ride over." He held out a small stack of papers with bullet points and notes printed on them.
Kaiba took the papers, eyeing them calmly. He stopped at the limo door as he became absorbed in reading. Isono opened the door for the two brothers, and Mokuba climbed in. Kaiba's attention was only caught when Isono cleared his throat. He glanced to the side, then climbed into the limo, sitting down in the center of the back-most seat. He crossed his legs and continued to read, though Isono again pulled his attention from the papers, "S-Sir, I feel it only right to inform you, we believe Yugi Motou and his friends will be present at the park where you'll give the speech and conference today."
A slight knot formed in Kaiba's chest, and he could hide the tense look on his face. "Tsh. Fine. I don't see why that would effect me. I'm there to tell the residents of Domino City how I'll be helping them. I would expect him to be there."
Mokuba looked at his brother's face, seeing that resentment still there, but hidden away, or perhaps diverted by something else. Seto continued to read, and the rest of the ride was relatively silent. Still, there was a looming feeling in the cab, simply watching him read. Mokuba could tell there was something wrong, but he couldn't bother his brother with asking, not after he'd already told him he was okay.
"It's nearly time for Kaiba to get on stage." Jonouchi said, eyeing the time on his phone before snapping it shut and putting it back in his pocket. "Don't see that limo of his anywhere, though."
Yugi shrugged. "He's always on time. I wouldn't worry."
Anzu, who was standing next to the two of them, with Honda on the other side of her, looked around, wide eyed. "Just look at how many people are there. And news crews, too! It must be a big announcement."
"Do you think it's a new tournament?" Honda asked before leaning back against the tree they stood around.
If it is, then there would be less families and more Duelists in the park. Yugi heard the spirit of the Millennium Puzzle chime. True... I wonder what it is, then?
"Hey, there it is!" Jonouchi pointed to the limo as it pulled up, "Wave and smile, everyone!" He said almost sarcastically, waving widely with a grin on his face.
"Like he'd even pay attention." The four turned around, spotting Otogi, who was just finished with something on his phone, and in the midst of putting it in his jacket's pocket.
"Otogi! you came, too?" Yugi smiled.
The young man smirked and nodded. "I might as well have. If I'm going to try and look for business opportunities in this city, I need to know what's going on with it. Seto Kaiba seems like the perfect guy to start with. I'll be taking notes on his plans."
"Sounds good!" Anzu cheerfully said.
Jonouchi, meanwhile, kept his eyes on the limo as it pulled behind the set up stage. Honda looked, as well, and Yugi found himself distantly watching. He felt anxious, but not in a negative way. He trusted Kaiba to only do what was right for the city. At the same time, though, he felt an odd sense that something was wrong. Perhaps it was the spirit? He, too, seemed silent and carefully watchful, as if he was unconsciously aware of a looming danger.
"Come on, let's try and get a closer spot!" Honda called before beginning to walk towards the group.
"No problem, there. Let's just make our way to the front!" Jonouchi proposed just as they reached the crowd, beginning to worm his way through the people. The rest followed, although Yugi found it very hard to keep up due to his height. He felt someone reach under his arms from behind, slightly startling him.
"Here, I'll help." Otogi said kindly as he hoisted Yugi up. "You're even lighter than you look!"
"O-Otogi!" Yugi nervously yelped, hearing the other man only chuckle in return.
Eventually, each of them got to the front of the crowd, Jonouchi and Honda right against the waist-high fence set up a few feet away from the stage. Otogi set Yugi down on his feet once they were next to the others, and Yugi blushed faintly while thanking him.
Seto stood behind the curtain, reading the last bits of the papers in the final moments before his speech. Suddenly, however, there was a sharp pain in his abdomen. He winced faintly, trying his best to hide it, and thanked fate that he was facing away from Mokuba. The vicodin wasn't helping? Why? When he finally looked up from the papers, which he had been staring blankly at for a few seconds, he saw Isono looking back at him, a worried expression resting on his features. "Mr. Kaiba..." he began to speak, voice hushed so Mokuba, who was currently peaking through a crack in the curtains, wouldn't hear. "... are you sure you are feeling well enough to go on stage?"
Seto narrowed his eyes, "Don't underestimate me, Isono."
Isono shook his head, looking down. "O-Of course not, sir, but I'm only worried about your health. You don't look well."
"This conference means more than some petty pain I might be dealing with. I won't stop just because of this."
A small, quiet sigh escaped Isono's nose, "Please, sir... Please reconsider. We can reschedule. The public won't mind-"
"Enough!" Seto snapped out. Mokuba turned around, surprised by the sudden change in Seto's tone. "I've told you what I intend to do. You know how important this is, for the company, for the city... Do not attempt to stop me." Isono, startled into speechlessness, only nodded, eyes fixed on his shoes. Seto sneered just slightly, "Now, go introduce me."
"Yes, sir." Isono said flatly, then headed out to the stage.
Mokuba walked over to Seto's side, tugging at his jacket quietly. "Brother...?"
Seto lost the anger in his face as he looked down to his little brother, turning and resting his hands on his shoulders, "It's alright. Just business discussions. Isono is loyal, he just forgets my intentions." He said quietly as he reached down to straighten Mokuba's tie.
"It's not that... Please don't go out on stage. I have a bad feeling." Mokuba pleaded meekly, wide eyes fixed on his brother's face.
Seto sighed almost silently, a very small smile growing on his face for just a moment. "Don't worry. Didn't you say just earlier that today would be great?" He heard the words from Isono's voice over the microphone that would lead up to his introduction. He stood up, "It's time to go on stage. We'll be done in a little while."
Mokuba was utterly silent, then looking away and nodding very slightly.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the president of Kaiba Corporation, Seto Kaiba." Isono bowed his head with a poilte smile, then stepped away from the podium and to the side. Seto emerged from behind the curtains, taking in a deep breath as he took Isono's place. Mokuba stepped to Isono's side, looking up to the older man. Isono looked back. Both of them had the same worried, but resigned look on their faces.
Yugi watched closely as Kaiba stood at the podium. There was definitely something different. Usually, Kaiba stood tall and proud, but today, he stood with a faint hunch, as if in pain. "What's wrong...?" he asked himself aloud, though very quietly. He looked to the others, who seemed to notice it, as well.
Seto looked at the faces in the crowd as he prepared to speak. "Thank you for sparing your time on this day to hear my plans for Kaiba Corporation's part in Domino City's future." He began, feeling the pain in his abdomen grow a bit. He paused, hiding it well by looking down at the papers set before him on the podium.
"Something's wrong." Jonouchi stated. "Kaiba never has papers that he reads off of." Anzu nodded in agreement, though she couldn't tear her eyes away from the stage.
"As in all cities of this size, there are parts that the local government cannot attend to." Kaiba stated. "Parks, roads, and even cemeteries, all slowly decaying from abandonment. In many of these places, lower income citizens are forced to live, because money will not allow them to move. They have watched their homes, their neighborhoods, and their love one's graves slowly fall by the wayside of the budget for upkeep. It is a pain I will let no person suffer. And so, on this day, I announce Kaiba Corp's full financial backing of renovations to these urban areas-..." He stopped short of his next sentence. The pain spiked unbelievably and suddenly, the stage felt less stable. It was like standing on a seesaw, trying to keep it level. He shut his eyes for a moment, swallowing, then lifting his head.
"Kaiba's not looking so good." Otogi mentioned to Yugi, leaning over so he could say so quietly. Yugi felt the worry welling in his chest, and his heart pounding in anxiety.
Seto gripped the sides of the podium, hoping the steadiness would help. "... Ambrose Park, Woodcrest Cemetery, and Baker Street are just a few locations that will see renovation." Seto tried to say the words in his normally calm voice, but they came out far more strained than he'd hoped. What had he been thinking? Now he was trapped, and he'd forced Mokuba to find out this way. No. He thought. You must finish. Don't let this stop you.
Mokuba took in worried, uneasy breaths, eyes fixed on Seto for a while before glancing over to Yugi. Yugi met his gaze, and in that moment, he could see just how terrified the boy was. He's going to fall. What? I said, he's going to fall. His will is giving in. Yugi quickly looked back to Seto, who seemed to be attempting to continue with another sentence.
"With the renovation.. of these areas comes the new possibility of visitors and business." Seto finally stopped speaking all together. He hunched forward, face obscured by his hair. The pain had engulfed his entire abdomen. It was a sharp, stinging, pricking pain, that had spread over every inch of his muscle. The nausea came back suddenly, and the vertigo took its full effect. He could hear the crowd whispering and talking, many of the voices with a tone of confusion or worry, but he couldn't make out a single word. He felt Isono's hands on his shoulders, trying to guide him, but the moment he let go of the podium... Where was the ground?
Isono tried his best to catch Seto, but he slipped free, hitting the wooden stage floor full force. He gagged, choking and coughing out a mouthful of blood. Mokuba screamed, running over. The calling of his name, and the pounding sound of Mokuba's heavy steps were the last things Seto heard as consciousness slipped away.
Yugi felt as if ice water had been poured down his back, and his face was sheet white. He heard the others around him shouting Kaiba's name, but only paid attention to them when he saw Otogi, Honda, and Jonouchi all climb over the fence and onto the stage to help.
"Seto!" Mokuba cried out again as he clutched his brother's shoulder. Security was far too occupied by keeping the crowd under control to stop the three others from rushing to Seto's aid.
Isono quickly pointed to Otogi. "Call an ambulance, now!" Otogi nodded, flipping his phone out and dialing the number. "You two, help me get him behind the stage! Be careful with him!"
Anzu, who had helped Yugi over the fence and onto the stage, had just followed after him. "Mokuba!" She ran to the boy. Yugi ran to him as well, but kept his eyes on Honda and Jonouchi as they picked Seto up.
"N-no! I don't want to let go!" Mokuba shouted. Anzu took a hold of him, finally prying him away and turning him around before pulling him into hug. She held his head buried in her shoulder as he loudly sobbed.
"Yugi, come on!" Anzu insisted. Yugi was delayed in responding, still distracted by watching Seto disappear behind the curtains. "Help me!"
He snapped back to attention and looked to her and Mokuba. "O-oh!" he gasped, stepping over to Mokuba and reaching out to stroke his back. He could hear Mokuba sobbing out his brother's name desperately. "Come on. We should get him out of here." Anzu nodded, and started to guide Mokuba to the curtains. Yugi followed close behind, looking over his shoulder. He could still see the splotch of blood left by Seto. It was a haunting sight, and even the spirit felt disturbed by it. What happened to him? Do you know? He was a victim of pride. That is all I know.
Once they were behind the curtains, the next ten minutes were agonizingly slow. It was a sickeningly sad sight, Mokuba clinging desperately to the hand of his brother, who was laying on top of a coat laid over the ground. Isono stayed right by the two, while the rest stood a feet feet away. Anzu eventually walked over, crouching next to Mokuba and putting her arm around him, the other reaching over and stroking Seto's hair. He felt very warm, and entirely still. It was hard to notice he was breathing unless she watched his chest for a while.
Jonouchi looked as if he'd seen something that would never leave him, and Honda earnestly watched everyone like some sort of guardian. Otogi made sure to come check up on Yugi, to make sure he was alright, to which Yugi assured him he was. He felt as fine as he could have, given the situation.
The ambulance arrived, and the paramedics swooped Seto into a gurney as quickly and gently as they could. As one of them checked his pulse, he told the other, "He's severely dehydrated. Looks like he hasn't eaten much lately, either. Put a rush on this, we might have peritonitis." Mokuba tried to keep holding onto Seto's hand, but as they loaded him into the ambulance, he lost his grip. He tried to follow after, but the paramedic stopped him. "I'm sorry, kid, we don't have enough room." Mokuba looked about ready to simply crumble when they closed the doors. Anzu held him close to her hip as the ambulance pulled away.
"It's okay. We'll follow right after." Isono assured. "Mokuba, are these people your friends?" The boy just nodded his head, rubbing the tears from his red face. "Alright. All of you follow me to the limousine. We can go straight to the hospital." One by one, they piled into the limo's cab, huddled together in the seats. There was never a tenser air in the cab then there was now.
Breaking the silence was Jonouchi. "He'll be okay." he sternly claimed. "One thing I know about Kaiba is that he won't let this keep him down."
Mokuba closed his eyes. "Not letting it keep him down is what got him in that ambulance..." Jonouchi was stricken dumb-silent. Feeling guilt, he looked out the window.
"Mo.. im on... able... ne... Two.. ree." Seto heard the voice fading in and out. It was a woman, from what he could tell. His eyes slowly began to open just barely, and immediately he felt the pain in his abdomen, and winced from the light. "Pulse... thready. One-hun..-irty." It was odd. He could feel the pain, but now he could feel those tingles in his limbs coming back.
"U..ine outpu... low." He heard a man's voice say. The blurred world began to sharpen, and his eyes opened more fully. The woman he had heard was hunched over him.
She looked like a nurse or a doctor. She had her auburn hair tied up in a bun, and her green eyes locked onto his as she noticed. "Mr. Kaiba, can you hear me?" Is what he assumed she had said, as everything sounded muddled and muted. He slowly, and wearily nodded. "I'm Dr. Hiraoka. Do you know where you are?" He tried to speak, but the moment he drew in breath, the pain in his abdomen skyrocketed, and all that came out of his mouth was a slow whine. "Okay. It's okay." She quickly replied. He felt her hand rest on his arm. "Get the ultrasound going."
He gasped when he felt the cold gel spread over his stomach, and flinched as the sensor was placed against his skin. "Nothing abnormal in the liver. Or the spleen. Or the kidneys. I don't see anything in the pancreas or gallbladder, either." He heard another voice say.
"Alright. Call surgery and tell them to free up an O.R." Hiraoka said as she checked his pupils by shining a pen-light in each eye. "Tell them it's a laparotomy." He knew that something was wrong. Something was very, very wrong. Was he afraid? It felt like it, with the racing heart, the short breaths, and the chill going down his back. The doctor kept her eyes on him, checking other functions of his body as time passed.
The limo arrived about ten minutes after the ambulance, and the group raced through the doors to the ER lobby. "We're the family of Seto Kaiba." said Isono, hastily, to the front desk nurse. Yugi felt odd, being associated with that kind of word in regards to the CEO. In Seto's, the only one who deserved that name was Mokuba.
The nurse pointed down the hall, to the trauma ward. "He's in the trauma bay right now. You'll have to wait in the hall."
Mokuba was still silent as a ghost, looking distantly at the hall. As Anzu held his hand, she could feel him trembling. She couldn't imagine what this was like for him. All the two brothers had was each other. She tightened her grip on his hand, and walked beside him as they took their seats in the chillingly mute hallway.
Yugi sat on the other side of Mokuba, and Otogi sat next to him. Jonouchi and Honda sat across the hall, and Isono remained standing. It was quiet for a while, until Otogi spoke quietly to Yugi, "You've known Kaiba for a while, right?" Yugi just nodded, not looking away from the tile he had absent-mindedly focused on. "Has it ever been this bad?"
"No." Yugi answered plainly. "He's never ended up like this." He closed his eyes sorrowfully. "He's always looked mostly healthy. Skinny, sure, and a bit tired, but when he stood on that stage... He was entirely different."
"How long has he looked that way?" Otogi asked Mokuba.
The boy shook his head and shrugged. "I don't know. He was hiding it."
"... A week." Everyone looked to Isono as he gave the answer, voice deep with shame. "He's been having stomach pains for a week."
Mokuba's eyes widened, and he stood from the chair. "You knew?!" he exasperatedly questioned. The rest of them looked on in shock, though the same anger that was in Mokuba's eyes could be seen in Anzu, Honda, and Jonouchi's.
Isono wallowed in silent guilt for a few seconds, then nodded as he turned. "He came to me, asking for help in hiding it. He didn't want to worry you, and he didn't want to risk looking weak in front of the press. I gave him a prescription I had for a back injury."
"You helped him make himself sicker!" Mokuba shouted. "Why didn't you tell me?! Why didn't you tell him to go to the hospital?!" Anzu stood up, going over to his side and resting her hand on his shoulder for support.
Isono tensed, eyes closing and hands raising in defense. "I... I'm sorry. I tried to tell him to hire a private doctor, but he insisted on ignoring it. I didn't want him to go on stage, but you saw how that ended..."
"How could you do this?!" Anzu shouted.
Jonouchi was the next to stand, followed by Honda. "What did you give him?! How do you know it didn't cause this?!"
Before any of their questions could be answered, the doors to the trauma bay opened, and an entourage of nurses helped to wheel out the bed Seto was resting on. Mokuba lost all focus on Isono, and darted to the bed, keeping pace with it as he moved. He was both overjoyed and worried to see Seto was awake, especially with all of the wires and tubes hooked up to his flesh. The oxygen mask resting on his face was fogged with fevered breath, and his eyes looked glazed. "S-Seto.." Mokuba said as he grabbed hold of his brother's hand, avoiding the IV needle that led into a vein on the top of it.
Seto slowly looked back, tired and sick. "Mokuba... Ya tebya lyublyu." he said very faintly.
"Y-ya tebya lyublyu tozhe!" Mokuba returned, tears welling in his eyes.
Yugi and the others followed after, but remained a few feet away. When Yugi overheard the two brothers speaking, he glanced to Jonouchi, who looked back, equally confused. "It's Russian." They both turned their heads to Honda. "They're speaking Russian, I think."
They reached the elevator, where once again Seto and Mokuba were to be pulled apart. One of the nurses let go of the gurney, moving to stop Mokuba just short of the elevator entrance. Their hands slipped apart, and Mokuba tried to get in to the cab. "Seto! Seto please!" he cried out, fighting against the nurse holding him back. Anzu and Yugi both came to his side, each holding him back so that the nurse could get in before the doors shut. "No!" Mokuba whined.
"Shh..." Anzu said while pulling Mokuba close. "It'll be okay." While she consoled him, Yugi stared at Isono, a stern look in his eyes. "Come on, let's get something to drink."
"I'll come with you guys." Honda offerred, patting Mokuba on the shoulder. "I need to get some Pokka or something. Anyone else need a drink?"
"Water." Yugi quietly asked, keeping his eyes on Isono as he walked past and back to his seat. Isono refused to make eye contact, preferring to look down at the tile floor.
As the three began to walk down the hall, Otogi spoke up, "Oi, Mokuba." The boy turned. "What did Kaiba say to you?"
He was quiet for a moment, then said, in a reserved, quiet voice, "He said 'I love you'," then turned back and continued to walk with the others. Otogi smiled faintly, then took his seat next to Yugi again.
It was over an hour before they heard anything from the staff. They were taken into a special waiting room called the 'Family Room', where no one else was seated. Mokuba spent most of the time in there staring down into the cup of cocoa Anzu had gotten for him, while Jonouchi and Honda discussed something quietly, often looking back at the boy. Anzu sat by him the entire time, and Yugi stood by the window, looking out. Isono opted to leave, taking the responsibility of informing the staff of Kaiba Corp and preparing them for the media frenzy that was bound to happen. Otogi occasionally opened his phone, typing out a brief message before closing it again.
When the door opened, they all looked up, seeing a doctor in the doorway. "Hello." she bowed her head, entering afterward and closing the door behind her. "I'm Dr. Hiraoka. I'm the attending physician on Mr. Kaiba's case."
"What's wrong with my brother?" Mokuba questioned as he stood up.
Hiraoka lifted her hands, pausing, then clasping them together. "Your brother was brought in with a lot of pain. We're still treating him, but the explorative surgery showed that he was suffering from an ulcer." Yugi walked away from the window, and toward the others. "Because he didn't treat it sooner, harmful bacteria seeped through the hole in his stomach lining, and that caused what we call 'Peritonitis'. We caught it just in time, too. I'm not sure how his chances would have been if this had continued for much longer."
"So he'll be okay?" Mokuba brightened.
The doctor tilted her head. "With treatment, he has about an eighty percent chance, which is very good for someone in his condition."
What about the other twenty percent? Yugi thought, It will be determined by his strength and will. With everyone here to help, I think things will turn out well. The spirit answered.
Still, Mokuba looked only partly relieved. "I need to see him!" he nearly demanded.
Hiraoka shook her head. "He's not out of surgery yet. We still have to make sure that his other organs weren't damaged. But I have a couple of questions I need to ask you. Privately." She glanced to the others. Mokuba, though hesitant about leaving, agreed with a nod of his head, and was guided out of the room by the doctor.
Otogi stood up and put his hand in his pocket. "Peritonitis... My mother had that, once. They caught it early, but..." he shuttered. "She was in a lot of pain. If Kaiba had been putting treatment off... how bad do you think it felt for him?"
"Like hell." Honda answered before taking a good sized gulp of his coffee, glancing over to the TV mounted on the ceiling corner, which had been on mute. He choked and spat out the remaining coffee he had in his mouth. "Damnit!"
Anzu spun in surprise to face him, "What?!" Honda simply pointed to the TV, then walked over to turn the sound back on.
A report on the events of today had already begun to circulate, with footage taken at the event. Yugi watched nervously, listening to the news anchor speak. "Earlier today, at a speech, Kaiba Corporation CEO, Seto Kaiba, collapsed after seeming to be in distress. His current medical status is unknown, but Duel Monsters Champion, Motou Yugi, and his friends, Katsuya Jonouchi, Hiroto Honda, Mazaki Anzu, as well as Dungeon Dice Monsters creator, Otogi Ryuuji, were all present, and rushed to the young CEO's aid." Film of the five climbing onto the stage was shown, "We will keep you informed on the situation, but to further explain the events, we go to our on scene reporter, Kawasaki Mio."
Jonouchi turned the TV back on mute, covering his face. "My mother's going to see that! I don't know if I should be embarrassed or proud. How long has it been running?"
"I'm not sure." Honda sighed. "What a mess..." He fell into one of the seats, rubbing his forehead.
Otogi shrugged, "Better get used to the idea of interviews."
"Now's not the time!" Yugi finally cut in. "We should be thinking of Kaiba! Not how we'll handle the press. Not right now..." Anzu nodded in agreement, which the other three looked a bit surprised. "I'm sorry... I just... I've never felt so worried for him."
Jonouchi looked down. "Yeah... Why'd the idiot have to be so stubborn about this?"
After a few more minutes, Mokuba returned to the room, taking his seat again. His own tiredness had begun to show as he rubbed his puffy eyes. He let out a slow sigh, but shifted out of surprise when he felt a jacket laid over him. When he looked up, he saw Honda smiling back at him. The comfort of being surrounded by friends only made him think of how his brother was alone, but even that sadness couldn't keep him from drowsing off.
The next time he woke up, his shoulder was being gently shaken by Yugi. "Come on." he said kindly. "They put him in a private room. You should go in, first. They say he's been calling for you." Mokuba drowsily agreed with a quiet grunt, then got out of the chair. Yugi handed Honda his jacket back, then the group began to head for the elevator. The walk up to the room was nerve wracking for all of them, but most especially for Mokuba. He couldn't stop his hands from shaking, and his knees felt like they were made of nothing but jello.
Up the elevator, down the hall, to the left, and on the right side of the window was where his room was, and as he approached the door, Mokuba swallowed, looking over his shoulder at his friends. Each of them looked supportive, and after only a few moments of hesitance, Mokuba turned back and opened the door, slowly stepping inside.
The room was fairly dark, with the blinds over the window shut fully, and from his height, Seto's upper half was hidden behind a column of monitors, each with their own specific purpose. Apprehensively, Mokuba stepped closer and to the side, beginning to see more and more of his brother. He was laying in the partially angled bed, wearing a blue patient gown, with the wrapped side resting over his chest. There was a white knit blanket resting over him. Finally, as Mokuba neared the edge of the bed, and the others began to follow in, he saw Seto's face. He was still tired and weary, but with a bit more life to it than before, even if he was exhausted. He slowly blinked, eyes moving to look back. "Mokuba..."
He couldn't hold back the tears that streamed down his face. Never in his life had he seen Seto in such a state, and yet, he was thankful that he looked better than before, albeit weak. He stepped close to the side of the bed, grabbing hold of Seto's hand. He felt Seto loosely grip back. "I was so scared..." He sniffled, resting his head against Seto's forearm.
Yugi watched as the two brothers shared the moment, remaining standing by the door. Seto was silent for a while, though Yugi could see from the look on his face that he felt guilty and responsible for his younger brother's pain. "... I'm sorry..." he eventually admitted, "I..."
"Never do it again!" Mokuba sobbed. "Please! Never again!"
A shocking sight followed. Seto's lip quivered, and his jaw trembled. Jonouchi watched in restrained awe at the emotion on Seto's face. He didn't see the stubbornly distant egomaniac. He saw an older brother, feeling guilty for making a mistake which led to his younger sibling being put through hell. For a while, his mind wandered back to Shizuka, and how many mistakes he'd made. He really couldn't be angry at Seto for this. He had done similar things so many times. It was one of the hardest things about being an older brother. There was always that stress of having to be strong, having to be the leader, and having to be the protector. Seeing that facade fall apart for Seto and Mokuba was one of the hardest things he'd ever witnessed. He even had to look away, feeling a tightness in his throat from the welling emotions.
Yugi stepped away from the wall, coming into Seto's line of sight. The man looked to Yugi, then bitterly away. Though that bitterness quickly faded into shame. He was ashamed of being seen this way. There's nothing we can do about that, right now. What he needs is our strength and support. Maybe then he'll see how good it is to have friends... He stopped on the other side of the bed. "How much do you remember?" he asked softly.
Seto's eyes wandered about the room in thought as the others began to settle in, taking seats and relaxing as best they could. Honda put a chair down for Mokuba before sitting down in his own. Jonouchi remained standing, and in the farthest corner from the bed. "... I remember Katsuya and Hiroto... I remember their voices. A... a hand... on my head. Nothing else." He fell quiet afterward. Anzu blushed faintly, tucking her head to the side. He'd remembered that?
"They carried you off the stage. Otogi called an ambulance." Mokuba started, "And Anzu was stroking your hair." Seto cast each person revealed a short glance, eyes filled with mixed emotions of regret and surprise. "They've been here the whole time, making sure we were okay." Mokuba said through a shaky voice, sniffing back more tears.
Seto didn't know what to think of it. No matter how he'd treated them, they still treated him as a friend. He wasn't sure if he was going about the process incorrectly, or whether rejection was an entirely foreign concept to them. Or perhaps they really did care. He wasn't sure of anything, right now. Honda felt his phone vibrate, and pulled it from his jean pocket, "... It's a text from Ryou. He says 'Saw everything on the news. Best wishes. I'll try to visit soon.'" Again, Seto was unsure of how to take this. His free hand slowly gripped the blanket from anxiousness.
Yugi gently smiled, placing his hand on Seto's other arm. Seto found the sensation to be entirely strange, but wasn't in a position to pull the arm away. "The nurses think you'll be fine, but it's looking like a three week stay here, then bedrest once you're home. Isono left his phone number incase you wanted anything brought from your place."
Mokuba sneered, shaking his head. "I want to fire him. I really do. He only made things worse by-"
"No." Seto cut in. Mokuba looked at him in surprise. "It's... It's my fault. The only one who put me in this bed is myself." Just by looking at him, everyone could tell these words were hard to say. "I pressured him..."
Mokuba was at a lost for words, unable to speak until a few seconds had passed, "Y-... You could have died."
Seto closed his eyes, tone tinged with regret, "I know that now." He looked back to Mokuba, "I'm sorry I let this happen."
The brothers shared a silence while Yugi went and got himself a seat. Mokuba slowly shook his head. "It's okay... Just.. don't do this again." Seto nodded in reply. "I mean it."
"I promise." Seto assured, voice growing a bit more tired with each passing sentence.
Yugi gingerly put his hand on Seto's shoulder. "You need rest. We all do."
"I don't want to go back to the house alone..." Mokuba whimpered, rubbing the last of his tears away.
Anzu looked around, "Who lives the closest to the hospital?"
Otogi raised his hand, "My condo is just a block from here. You guys can stay, if you want. My couch pulls out, and there's a cot."
Yugi nodded with a smile. "Okay. We can go get some rest, and then some food." He looked back to Seto, "Is... that okay? Mokuba staying with us?" There was a tense pause as Seto considered it, but the moment he felt Mokuba squeeze his hand, he nodded slowly.
"Good, I'm starved." Honda gave a breathy laugh.
They each began to leave, Otogi leading the way. Mokuba and Yugi were the last ones to start for the exit, Mokuba giving Seto a kiss on the forehead before stepping away from the bed. Just as Yugi was about to head after the others, he heard Seto's voice, "Yugi." He stopped, turning around and stepping back in. "You take care of him. I don't trust others with my brother often..."
Yugi smiled, walking back over to the bed. "Don't worry. We will." His face softened as he thought. "... Seto? It's... It's okay to rest. It's okay to have moments where you need a break."
"... Not when you're in my position." Seto flatly replied.
"Especially when you're in your position." Yugi retorted. "If not for you own sake, for Mokuba's. He sees you as everything, and he'll do what you do as he gets older."
Seto looked away, furrowing his brow. "I don't need a lecture."
"I know you don't. You need rest." Yugi smirked a bit, then turned back to the door and walked out. Seto shut his eyes, frustration building in his mind.
He really hated Yugi, sometimes.
He hated him even more when he was right.