Contest Fic, Season 9.75, Third Round: Whispershipping (Seto Kaiba x [possessed]Jounouchi Katsuya)
"Jounouchi," Yugi stated, his words distorted and barely audible over the murderous command. A metal weight pressed against Jounouchi's neck, but he quickly forgot the cold, silver chain as a tearing sensation ripped through his mind. The mind slave stared blankly ahead, listening to the insidious whisper telling him to kill, kill, kill... "Take my Millennium Puzzle."
The pier swirled around him in a blur of ocean and wood while the anchor dangled above, illuminated by the fading red sunset. Staring down with hauntingly empty eyes, he watched the shorter boy in front of him offer a hopeful, sad smile. Yet the taller teen was almost completely expressionless, like a poorly made doll whose creator had forgotten to add any hint of emotion.
"Now, a piece of me will always be with you."
The blond froze at the words, his face twitching as he stared at his former friend. Reaching up mechanically, he clutched the Millennium Puzzle in shock, his master's disbelief allowing him the briefest moment of control. Despite the fact that Katsuya was possessed, his loyal, naive friend still trusted him with his most prized possession.
He couldn't let him down, not like this. Fighting against Marik's efforts, he tried to honor that trust. But could he really last against the pain, the pain of remembering his best friend-
No, forget about him, an unknown voice argued as his headache escalated. The throb of resistance was unbearable; his master's orders contrasted so completely with his own. Why shouldn't he hurt the boy in front of him, when his master hated him? Except that he didn't hate Yugi-
Kill Yugi, destroy him...
No, no, no...
Katsuya jolted awake, every muscle tensed painfully as a wave of terrified heat washed over his body. He sat up abruptly and took a rattling intake of breath, startlingly loud in the otherwise silent room. His hands scrambled to his neck, feeling for a Millennium Item that he no longer wore, instead finding a t-shirt drenched with sweat.
Under different circumstances, he might have felt perplexed that he had to gasp so desperately for air, but as it was, the action barely registered. Feeling uncomfortably warm, he tossed back his crumpled blankets and threw his legs over the edge of the bed, grasping the sheets with trembling fingers.
Letting out a low moan, he buried his head in his arms and tried not to scream. Suddenly grateful that Otogi and Honda had fallen asleep in Yugi's room that night, he wasn't sure if the moist droplets on his cheeks were tears or a nervous sweat, but not a trace of his signature cheer crossed his features.
He closed his eyes with a groan, and suffered in silence. Eventually his breathing steadied and his heartbeat slowed, but his headache had yet to subside. Katsuya shivered from the combination of sweaty clothes, air conditioning, and the prickling feeling of being watched.
Trying to distract himself, he gazed out at the darkened room, and he had to admit, Kaiba didn't cheap out on the rooms, even for him. The dull moonlight seeping across the room deepened the otherwise turquoise scheme, a dark navy blanket of night covering the tastefully chosen chairs and table. A thin trail of white led from the circular window to where he sat, a unification of stars and moon lighting the floor. Yet for all the luxuries, he could only let out a choked sob.
He'd almost killed his best friend.
The darkness magnified the emotions he had been suppressing since earlier that day and throughout the first evening of the semi finals. It was the first time he'd been completely alone since his and Yugi's 'duel of death', and he felt an almost overwhelming sense of paranoia. He could swear that he still felt someone toying with the edges of his mind, trying to reassert control.
Flashes of the nightmare replayed themselves as he was forced to remember, revealing to him the true extent of his betrayal. Katsuya had barely recalled his actions when he'd snapped out of Marik's brainwashing; in fact, he'd had no idea what happened- why are we fighting, had been the first question out of his mouth when he'd broken the control.
He almost laughed out loud. He certainly knew now. His subconscious had dredged up the very memories he might have been better off forgetting.
But the real reason he still felt so on edge, despite the fact that the nightmare had passed- both the dream and the reality- was the extra consciousness tingling persistently and painfully at the back of his conscious.
The hairs stood up on the back of his neck as he realized that the feeling was not a leftover sensation from the unpleasant nightmare, the memory he'd just relived. Someone truly was invading his mind. Again.
"Marik," he hissed, clutching his hair violently as the familiar cackle tore across his mind.
"So we meet again, Jounouchi Katsuya," the leader of the ghouls laughed disparagingly, and his victim groaned in protest, throwing his head back against his pillows. The distant throbbing redoubled into a stabbing pain. "Did you miss me, my 'mind slave'?"
"Geh-" he let out a muffled outcry at the familiar voice, writhing in agony and tussling the sheets as he attempted to resist the invasion. He didn't understand; he had escaped Marik's control already. How could he be possessed again?
"Fool," the rare hunter declared, his hoarse voice echoing through his mind. "You think you broke free because of your will? You only defeated me because of Yugi," the cruel voice spat the name in disgust. "But now that the runt is nowhere around, you stand no chance against my powers!"
"You- you can't- This isn't me-"
"You don't exist anymore," the Egyptian hissed ominously, and Katsuya's voice was overridden.
He tried desperately to shove away the evil presence, forcing himself to remember his friends, and his terror of hurting them again. The grating whisper scraped at his conscious, however, deliberately escalating his fear to anger as he furiously fought against the power of the Millennium Rod. His back arched in pain, and he tried to will the voice away. He wanted Marik to disappear. He hated that voice, he hated losing control, he hated hurting his friends-
"Yes, you hate me, don't you?" the voice sneered, taunting the boy as he struggled. The fury grew slowly but steadily, becoming unbearable as the ghoul waited with patient anticipation.
Katsuya never realized how simple it was for the puppeteer to redirect that hatred from his tormentor to his most trusted friend.
Jounouchi's eyes dilated, both in fear and submission, as he finally lost the last of his control. Instantaneously, his twitching and muffled groans halted, his hands lowering from his head as a demented grin stretched across his features.
He'd won. The old Katsuya was gone, and an improved version had taken his place.
Admittedly, it wasn't a complete win, since he couldn't fight the Pharaoh again. Such an act would be catastrophic; little Yugi might just break his master's control again. As much as he'd love to kill the boy- he ignored the muted protest at the thought- he'd leave that for another day. Even without him, there was still plenty he could do.
After all, it would be so much easier to destroy the Pharaoh if his master had two Egyptian God Cards in his grasp.
"Kaiba Seto," Jounouchi, or rather a twisted version of himself, sneered the name contemptuously. The hatred, originally for his master, and then for Yugi, was once again rechanneled toward his old rival. An almost ridiculously easy task, seeing as even the old Katsuya had hated the man.
With a jerk, the blond sat up before agilely rising off the bed, leaving the streak of dim light as he entered the shadows. His body shivered uncomfortably, disliking the darkness as much as his master feared it, and strode quickly for the doors. They slid open as he approached, and his eyes stared flatly into the hallway as he left. The modernistic hallway was empty, and with a victorious smirk he trailed down the hallway unwittingly.
With the power of two God Cards, he'd be unstoppable in the final match.
He grinned at the thought, the chilling smile widening even further when he spotted the pair of guards standing stiffly outside his rival's doors. Their expressions were obscured by tinted glasses, and they didn't so much as flinch at the mind slave's approach. Jounouchi studied them for a brief moment, his unnervingly blank stare calculating his chances of success. They were certainly higher than if his master had used the girl, Anzu. Although trace of control lingered in her mind as well, Katsuya's body was stronger, and a man was needed for this task.
"I'm here to see Kaiba Seto," he announced, his words double-edged with the voice of his master. He stepped forward, and the guards tensed, though the teen made no sudden movements. The only reason for alarm was his casual remark and leisurely approach; he stopped an arm's reach away from the guards with an oddly vacant expression.
"Mr. Kaiba isn't taking visitors right now," the guard on the left informed him, holding his arm out to block the teen's path. Lowering his head so they wouldn't see his expression, the servant's hair fell forward to hide his eerie smile.
"I see," he said, beginning to turn away.
The guards relaxed at the easily won confrontation, but the mind slave paused after taking little more than a step. With swift and frightening fluidity, Jounouchi spun, gripping the outstretched arm of the first guard and shoving him roughly into the second. The man grunted in pain and scrambled for his radio, but he received no chance. Almost robotically, the blond lashed out again without hesitation, knocking the two guards unconscious with rapid blows to their heads.
His smile widened when he turned to the steel doors blocking the entrance to Kaiba's room, as he doubted the CEO would have been disturbed when such a solid barrier stood between them. The entire ordeal had passed with little noise, and the teen let out a chortle. Trained guards or no, he had the element of surprise and street-honed reflexes on his side, unaffected by the fact that he was little more than a doll.
"Excellent work, 'Mind Puppet'," his controller congratulated him, wicked delight transferring from master to servant. Jounouchi smirked at the praise. "Now, enter!"
"Yes, Master Marik," he agreed, more than willing to carry out the honorable duty of his master's will.
Striding several paces toward the door, he paused to snatch a security pass from one of the fallen guards. Jounouchi dragged the body forward, pressing its limp finger to the scanner. The computer confirmed the print, and after using an already acquired code, he slid the card through the panel. Satisfied, the mind slave watched with a frozen smile as the doors slid open with a hiss.
He was met with the sight of a room similar to his own, if not more spacious. The lamp was off, and the only light came from the window, a streak of moonlight illuminating the nearby table. A tall brunette sat calmly in the pale glimmer, the natural light contrasting subtly with the artificial glow of his laptop.
"You?" the man demanded when he lifted his gaze, staring at his unwanted visitor with suspicious distaste. The clicking of keys paused, though his hands didn't stray from the keyboard. "How did you get past the guards, mutt?"
The mind slave ignored the question in favor of letting out an uncharacteristic chuckle, while an unimportant voice distantly protested, he wasn't a mutt. "Awake at this hour, Kaiba Seto? How convenient. It's almost as though you were waiting for me."
"Get out of my room before I make you get out," the CEO threatened, standing from his chair and narrowing his eyes. Shadows fell across his expression, his normally vibrant blue eyes dulled in the darkness.
"That'd be interesting to see," Marik's servant laughed in his place. "Seeing as your guards proved to be little of an obstacle."
Stepping away from the table, the possessed teen watched as Seto's eyes flickered with suspicion. Jounouchi could see him reasoning out the situation, studying the blond and noting the changes. He waited with a manic smirk, knowing what the man would see: instead of a moronic smile, he'd be met with blank eyes and a contorted expression. Instead of juvenile insults, he'd receive sophisticated retorts.
The best part was that the boy and his master both knew that Kaiba would link the changes to his earlier duel with Yugi, but Jounouchi also knew the man would deny all links to the supernatural. His grin widened with sinister mirth.
"Betraying your 'friends' again so soon, dog?" Seto finally drawled, indeed recognizing the symptoms of the possessed blond. "Or are you going to blame it on an exaggerated form of hypnotism again?"
Bastard, he wasn't a dog...And he couldn't help it; he couldn't-
"You amuse me, Kaiba Seto," the servant chuckled, ignoring the brief protests blurring his judgment. "How suitable that you are the one with the third Egyptian God Card."
The weak objections continued, and Jounouchi took the opportunity to smother the dissent of his suppressed counterpart. He refused to limit his vision with his insignificant ties to the Pharaoh and his friends; his mind was finally clear. He quashed the rebellion with ridiculous ease, the determination now nowhere near as strong as his earlier persistence to save little Yugi.
"Egyptian God Card?" Kaiba repeated disdainfully, crossing his arms as he turned away from the window. His silhouette was completely black, his form eclipsed in the thread of light. His shadow fell across the room, ending at Jounouchi's feet. "Please. You don't stand a chance against me. How do you plan on taking the card, mutt?"
"Would you like to see how you fare against the 'mutt's' deck, then?" Jounouchi suggested at his master's command. He lifted his hand, displaying his deck of cards.
But he wanted to duel Kaiba, on his own, without his master's help- He wanted to prove he wasn't a mutt-
No, he stood no chance against Kaiba without his master.
"Save it," Seto snorted, leaning back against the table with his arms still crossed. "Honestly, you're even more unbelievably stupid than usual, if that's even possible. Try making it past the preliminaries if you want to fight me so badly. Dueling you now would just waste my time."
"After my duel with Yugi, I'll have little use for the God Cards," the duelist drawled, offering a puppet-like shrug. Taking several paces forward, he approached silently, his footsteps muffled. The mind slave had been too preoccupied with his blood thirst for revenge to pause for shoes before he'd left.
Entering Kaiba's shadow, he continued until he was less than a few feet away, close enough to reach out and touch the other man. Seto didn't move from his casual stance, maintaining his stony glare. The proud duelist probably thought that flinching away would be a sign of weakness, Jounouchi noted with depraved entertainment.
"What do you mean?" Kaiba hissed, and the servant laughed with his master at the naive question. As though the God Cards were worth anything to him if they couldn't help him accomplish his goals.
But he didn't want the God Cards anyway, not if they would hurt Yugi-
"Fool," Jounouchi declared, his face contorted in a smile that looked more like a grotesque grimace. He forced himself to focus on his prior hatred for the man he'd dubbed 'a heartless prick', the emotions combining with his master's more worthy target: the Pharaoh and his vessel. "I only need the God Cards to defeat Yugi, so I can send him to his demise."
"If you need the power so badly, you shouldn't have lost Slifer in the first place."
The blond only chortled harder in response, lifting his head to stare directly at the other man.
"Really? I don't recall Katsuya ever holding the Sky Dragon," he cackled, watching as Kaiba grit his teeth, belatedly realizing his slip. "You claim there is no 'fate' or 'magic'-"
"But you do believe. After all, you're right," Jounouchi spoke, immediately cutting off Kaiba's snarl. The man watched him incredulously, and the mind slave took advantage of the uncharacteristic silence. "The Katsuya you knew is gone."
"If this nonsense is real," Seto spoke through clenched teeth after a hate-filled silence, glaring at the slack-faced blond in front of him. "Which I highly doubt," he added obstinately. "Marik would be nothing more than a coward who can't face me himself."
At the words, Jounouchi twitched, almost a spasm. The statement struck a nerve, causing a flare of anger that wasn't his own. Memories flooded across his mind, but of course, they must have been his master's- Katsuya had none, because a mindless drone could only share the thoughts of his master.
Marik was the one who lost. Not Jounouchi, not Yugi.
The possessed duelist leaned over with a groan as the words ripped across his mind, but he felt the slightest confusion as to what he was doing. With a start, he remembered his conversation with Marik, his battle to keep the madman out of his mind-
His master was angry that he was losing control again; it was difficult maintaining dominance over someone who had already broken free from the spell before- but no one should have been able to resist the power of the Millennium Rod. Katsuya cradled his head, staring at the black floor with unseeing eyes.
Kaiba was right, he was a coward.
But who was the coward, Jounouchi or Marik? His master's control faltered, and Katsuya could feel Marik's doubts. The Egyptian didn't want to acknowledge his weakness, but the unwanted truth of Seto's words caused Marik to hesitate, and lose power over his minion as he lost focus.
"What's wrong?" Kaiba sneered mockingly. "Did I hit a nerve?"
Katsuya and Marik both stared up through their shared vision, their battle for dominance blurring their view in a pain-induced haze. Jounouchi, the 'original' Jounouchi, gained the advantage temporarily when his unwanted master shivered as shadows flickered unnaturally across Seto's face, the CEO turning to gaze out the window.
"You're nothing but a pathetic child who can only hide behind others to get what he wants."
Watching Seto with wide eyes, the flicker of awareness disappeared as quickly as it had come. The man was lying, Yugi was the one who lost; the Pharaoh, that tyrant. Katsuya had never believed anything that Kaiba said, his master was much more trustworthy than this arrogant duelist. Seto Kaiba didn't deserve respect, from neither him nor his master.
His master's rage grew and his individual conscious shoved back, the opposing force ignored regardless of the shout, get out of my head!
"Look at me," the blond snarled, straightening from his hunched position and lurching forward to grasp the brunette's collar. Jounouchi's entire face was distorted with hideous rage, and his emotionless, glazed eyes looked disturbingly out of place. He yanked Kaiba forward to regain his attention.
"You're not worth looking at, pest," Kaiba stated, unyielding despite the blond's uncomfortable proximity.
"Pretentious fool," the mind slave relayed his master's message in a hiss, his hands trembling with rage. "The only reason I'm even here is because of your God Card. You're the one who's not worth my time."
"And why do you want Obelisk?" Kaiba drawled the clearly rhetorical question, not waiting for a reply before he answered the question himself. "Because you're too much of a coward to face Yugi on even ground. You don't think you can beat the King of Games in a fair match."
Jounouchi's eyes narrowed, his hands sliding from the CEO's collar to his upper throat. His thumbnail pressed down, leaving an indent where it broke the skin, but the slice wasn't yet deep enough to bleed. Almost imperceptibly, he felt the the brunette tense beneath his fingers, although no wince would have been noticeable otherwise; his face was skillfully impassive. As his grip tightened, a single, black drop swelled beneath his thumb in a dome of blood, but didn't quite overflow.
"It doesn't matter how I win, so long as Yugi dies," Jounouchi whispered, increasing the pressure on his thumb ever so slightly. The dark rivulet of liquid trickled from Seto's neck and down his thumbnail, picking up speed as it trailed toward his wrist and proceeded down his forearm.
"Life is a game, Kaiba Seto," he continued eventually in a hiss, the echo of his master's voice less noticeable when he whispered. "Can you really tell me that you've become so successful without dirtying your hands?"
He received no reply. Kaiba only watched him with an unfathomable expression, but the mind slave didn't need a response. His master already knew the answer, and so did the former priest. Releasing the brunette from his grip, Jounouchi let his arm drop, his hand dangling limply at his side as a drop of blood fell to the floor. Kaiba glared down at the blond's stained hands, and fiery blue eyes lifted to glare at hollow crimson. Abruptly, he stepped even closer with a look of murder in his eyes, close enough that the warmth of his breath brushed over the vessel's skin.
"Are you done?" he snarled, and the blond shivered at his master's unease. Even Marik knew the reborn priest was not someone to take lightly, and Seto Kaiba looked like he had finally had enough. "Because all I hear are excuses. I don't waste my time dueling cowards, so if you want my God Card, try not to lose before the finals. I have no interest in morons who can't even speak for themselves."
Jounouchi jolted at the sneer, the words effecting both the controller and the suppressed.
Lose. Marik is the one who will lose, not Jounouchi- Unless he fights by himself-
Those weren't his words, those weren't his thoughts- He'd lose if he didn't regain control-
He needed to kill the Pharaoh face to face, he couldn't keep hiding in the shadows, or else he'd lose-
"I won't lose," Jounouchi growled out loud, though whether it was the voice of his master or his own mind was uncertain. His head throbbed again, and the 'original' fought, determined not to surrender. His master was weakened, wondering if relinquishing control was a loss, or if continuing to use it would be.
"As long as you fight like a coward, you'll always lose," Kaiba stated, glaring down at the blond and watching the internal struggle with a seemingly passive expression. The only hint at any unease was a small downturn of the mouth and clenched fists.
"I won't," Jounouchi rasped, looking up despite his hunched position with his neck twisted uncomfortably. "I don't need another God Card to win, anyway. This was only a backup plan- I always have a backup plan-"
"Tell me that face-to-face, and maybe I'll listen."
Katsuya stood completely still, resembling a standing corpse. After the lull, however, he let out a furious howl.
"Get out of my head!"
His eyes flickered between dead and wild, and at last, the body collapsed, the awareness still alternating. The teen slumped as he lost conscious, and Kaiba caught the body with a frown. His eyelids lifted, and for a moment, Seto held the boy and stared into the glassy eyes. Jounouchi Katsuya watched as a slight flash of surprise crossed the other's features, and in icy blue eyes, he saw his reflection- a mixture of his original fighting spirit and his former master's determination for vengeance. A combination of his hidden pain and Marik's scream for justice.
After only a brief moment, however, the eyes which were neither Marik's nor Katsuya's cleared, and Kaiba abruptly dropped the teen, sidestepping him as he keeled over onto his knees. His blond hair appeared almost white when he fell into the moonlight. Several seconds later, his abnormally pale eyelids lifted drowsily.
"Wh- Kaiba?" the bewildered teen blinked, his brow furrowed in confusion. "What am I- this isn't my room-"
"You're powers of deduction astound me," Seto stated coldly, watching the blond with an unreadable expression. "Now that you've figured out that much, leave. And the next time I catch you sleepwalking around my blimp, I'll have you disqualified."
"Sleepwalking?" Katsuya muttered, shaking his head, peering around the darkened room before his eyes widened in horror. "No, but- I thought- Marik..."
"I have no desire to hear about whatever nightmares you're blabbering about," Kaiba cut off the disoriented stammering, stepping around him and striding across the room, opening his door. He glared down at his stirring guards, neither of them fully conscious yet. "Leave now."
"Now. There is no Marik. You were having a nightmare and walked here in your sleep. Besides, didn't you already defeat him with your so-called 'friendship'?" Kaiba spat, not bothering to hide his skepticism of that.
"What do you mean, 'so-called' friendship?" he protested indignantly, retorting automatically and lifting his fists. "There's no 'so-called' anything, it's real-"
"You were having a nightmare, mutt."
Katsuya fell silent, his mouth slightly open as he tried to organize his scrambled thoughts. It had been a dream, Kaiba said, but could his dream have been real? He remembered his earlier nightmare recalling his fight against Yugi, so who was to say this hadn't been some twisted version of the fact? But it had felt so real, he could have sworn he had been fighting against Marik, fighting back for his mind-
And he could have sworn that he had another memory, neither his nor Marik's, or perhaps either or both of theirs. A memory of wondering if the brunette in front of him had looked disappointed when Jounouchi regained control of his mind, disappointed that he had lost the entertainment of his possession, of the combination of his two enemies.
But surely, the almighty Seto Kaiba wouldn't want to converse with a reminder of the supernatural he so hated?
A nightmare, Katsuya decided. It must have been.
A/N: When I started this, I thought it was a skewed form of puppyshipping. By the time I was halfway through, I decided it was a skewed form of powershipping. Now...I don't even know any more. What is this...?! T.T
...Haha. Please review? :)