Title: Aftershocks
Author: bnomiko
Rating: PG-13
Pairing(s): Seto + Yami
Spoilers: none
Warnings: swearing
Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! is the creation of Kazuki Takahashi. This is a not-for-profit fanwork and I do not own any of these characters.
Summary: Seto finally decides to tackle the issue head-on and confronts Yami.
Status: 10 / ?
Archived at: http://www.phenixsol.com/Miko/FF/

This is a SHONEN-AI fic (male + male romantic relationship). If you are offended by homosexual relationships, please do not read this. Flames will be disregarded.

Setup for this fic:

* * *

Aftershocks

Ch. 10: The Inevitable Confrontation

* * *

Poke. Poke.

"Wake. Up. I have to go to school."

Yami's brow wrinkled as his sleepy mind wondered why Seto was poking him like that, and why his voice sounded a bit… different. But he was warm and comfortable, so what did it really matter?

"Yami. Seriously. You have to let go of me."

"Nooo, Setooo…" Wow, it sure was nice for Seto to actually let him cuddle considering the fact that he had broken up with him.

There was an exasperated puff of air which ruffled his bangs. "Yami, I'm not Seto. I'm Mokuba."

"Mmhmm… MokuBA!?" Yami's eyes snapped open and he realized much to his mortification that he had wrapped his limbs around the amused younger teen like a boa constrictor.

"Yeah. Don't you remember? You let us stay in your bed last night."

"I did? I… guess I did." Yami let go and rolled over as he heard footsteps on the carpet behind him, but it was just Noa, already dressed in his school uniform.

"Morning. Everyone sleep okay?"

The ex-spirit considered the question. He felt pretty well rested, though he was disappointed that Seto hadn't bothered to come home yet again. "I'm okay, thanks."

"Geez, are you like that when you sleep with Nii-sama?" Mokuba grumbled, scrambling out of bed, pausing to throw Yami a wink to assure him that he was just joking. "You're like a cross between an octopus and an electric blanket."

Noa snorted. "I bet Seto likes being molested in his sleep."

Yami flushed. "I wasn't… I didn't… never mind!" He shook his head. Sometimes the brothers were just a bit too clever for their own good. But as his mind woke up and sharpened, he remembered the reason why the pair had come to the bedroom last night, and his mood soured. "Seto… he didn't come home again last night."

Mokuba sat back down on the bed and looked him in the eye. "He did. But it was really, really late. And uh… I kicked him out."

"You did what? Oh man, you're so grounded, Mokuba," Noa said, chuckling at his brother's gumption despite the seriousness of the situation.

Yami shook his head. "Mokuba, I can't believe you did that."

"Well, I did. I told you we'd stand by you, right?"

* * *

Yami delicately plucked a banana slice from Seto's fingers while he slipped his own fingers through the brunette’s hair. The promised massage had degraded into something more like a scalp rub; Yami had found out the hard way that his leg was too sore for him to stand on. Presently the shorter teen was sitting on the floor with his injured leg propped up on some decorative pillows. He was leaning against the longest sofa in the room, stroking his lover’s hair over and over, while Seto slowly fed him every other piece of fruit. And Seto was lying belly-down on the sofa with a blanket, his eyes closed in exhaustion, purring faintly at the feel of Yami’s touch and the taste of fruit and chocolate in his mouth… and the sound of chirping crickets...

Wait, crickets?

Seto awoke to the sound of the intercom beeping at his desk. Disgusted with himself for having fallen asleep in his office yet again and more importantly, pissed off for having been disturbed in the middle of the first nice dream he'd had in weeks, he hit the button and snarled, "What?!" at the woman on the other end of the line.

"S… sorry, Mr. Kaiba," she stammered. "Um, I have…"

Seto rubbed his face in frustration and wondered why he had chosen to spare this particular woman from being laid off yesterday when her former boss, some mid-level weasel in accounting, was unceremoniously fired for downloading porn during work hours. He supposed it was his benevolent act of the week… or perhaps he had just been that desperate for a secretary. "Just spit it out, Ms. Shiroi."

"Mr. Ueno from Duel On magazine on line... 2, sir. "

The young CEO cursed under his breath. The man was just some overzealous reporter type who liked digging for breaking news on dueling equipment, which meant he was useful at times and a major pain in the ass otherwise. Not the type of person he wanted to talk to at the moment. Shaking his head slightly, he glanced over at the clock. Just a bit past lunchtime. There was no point in staying… he wasn't going to be able to accomplish any work at this rate. Might as well take advantage of the fact that Mokuba and Noa were off at school and get rid of Yami before they got home. "Tell him I'm not available to take his call right now. As a matter of fact, I'll be leaving the office in a few minutes, so I don't want to be disturbed again, is that clear?"

"Yes… of course, sir."

* * *

After so many nights had passed with Seto arriving home late, Yami certainly wasn't expecting him to show up in the middle of the afternoon, standing calmly in the foyer as if nothing were amiss. But after the initial shock wore off, Yami supposed it made sense. Seto wasn't dumb enough to keep trying to throw him out while his brothers were at home to run interference, so it really was a logical move.

They both stared wordlessly at each other for a very long minute, then Seto dropped his briefcase and began shedding his trench coat. "We should talk," he said blandly as he hung the coat on the rack near the door.

"Yes."

"In my office then." Seto brushed by Yami and headed up the stairs with swift strides. Yami sighed. He was hoping to get a better read on the taller duelist before beginning a discussion with him, but if Seto had decided that now was the time, he wasn't going to protest. So he began carefully making his way up the steps and heading down the long hallway that led to Seto's office.

The brunette was standing by the window, gazing out at the manicured landscape with a slightly distracted look on his face. But as soon as he spotted Yami, he clamped down on even that small hint of emotion and smoothed his expression into one of indifference, as if he were about to begin some sort of business transaction.

Yami frowned at that and opened his mouth to speak, but Seto cut him off. "Why are you still here?"

Because I love you and I don't want to lose you. "Because… I want to know why…" Damn. It was hard. Now that he had the opportunity to try and get some answers, Yami didn't know what to ask first. He finally settled for asking, "I want to know why you decided to break up with me. Why you cut yourself off. What happened? Did I do something wrong?" He couldn't help but wonder if Seto was upset over the fact that he hadn't been able to prevent Mokuba from getting injured in the earthquake even though he had done his best under the circumstances.

You did nothing wrong, Yami. Seto really didn't want Yami to blame himself for what had happened, since it had nothing to do with him and everything to do with Seto's own bad luck. "I really don't need to explain my reasons to you, but… it wasn't you. It was me," he said in reassurance as Yami's eyes searched his face for something more substantial. "You didn't do anything wrong."

"Seto…" Yami leaned up against a chair which was facing the desk, hoping that it would keep him propped up better than the crutches would for what would possibly be an extended discussion. "You still owe me an explanation."

"No, I don't."

"I'm not going anywhere until I understand the reasoning behind the break up, and even then..."

"There is nothing to understand," Seto ground out, already feeling his carefully crafted mask slipping out of frustration. It had been a bad idea to try and confront Yami head-on; he had hoped that the shorter teen would just accept what little explanation he could give and leave, but now he realized that that wouldn't happen. What a foolish mistake.

"So that's it? You're breaking up with me for no reason at all? I don't believe you… you think I would just accept that and walk away? I can't do that, Seto. You… we… our relationship means so much to me."

"Our 'relationship' is over. Shit, you're just making things harder for yourself, you know."

"I'm making… you don't come home, you're apparently not sleeping, not eating…"

"None of which concerns you!" the brunette yelled, stepping away from the window. How dare Yami worry about his health and habits at a time like this? "I told you, it's over! Get that into your fucking head! Or did you lose most of your brain cells when you got knocked out?!"

Yami fought to control his own temper. As tempting as it was to get into a verbal brawl with the fiery young billionaire, he knew that it would accomplish nothing in the end. And he wanted, no, needed to understand… Seto was trying to push him away so hard, but why? "You know I understand what 'breaking up' entails, but…" He sighed, then continued on in a whisper, "Do you really hate me that much?"

Seto faltered for a moment, surprised at the question and at Yami's restraint when he could barely keep his own emotions in check. No, I could never hate you. I wish you understood that I'm doing this to… No, he couldn't tell Yami the truth. The former Pharaoh would insist on staying by his side and then… Damn it! I don't want to do this, but… "Yes, I hate you." I hate you for getting involved with someone like me. I hate you for making me feel for you, for making me worry about you, for showing me a future that I can't be a part of. I hate you because you're going to leave me, and I don't want you to go.

Crimson eyes widened and for a moment, Seto wondered if Yami was going to start crying, but then thick lashes swept down and hid the pained look away from his sight. "You don't hate me," Yami said in a low voice. "You don't mean that. And even if you did… I still can't hate you."

Seto's heart clenched at Yami's words and his stomach began its sickeningly familiar churning. It would've been easier if the shorter teen had just burst into tears and ran out of the room, but then it wouldn't have been Yami, would it? Still, he had to get him to leave somehow… and then the glint of silver caught Seto's eye. Yes, that would do it, wouldn't it? "Yeah, whatever. And by the way… I want that back." He reached his hand up to his throat and Yami mimicked the movement, breath catching as his fingers brushed against the leather and titanium collar around his neck.

Yami's fingertip's unconsciously traced the letters on the nameplate. "No." He hopped back a step, his eyes searching Seto's waist for the corresponding belt buckle that bore his name, but Seto wasn't wearing it. In fact, it looked like he was wearing his old KC logo belt. "Where…"

Seto smirked when he realized what the younger duelist was looking at, though inwardly it pained him to see the hurt and betrayal that was flashing through Yami's eyes. "I threw it away," he lied, forcing his voice to remain steady.

"You… Seto, you didn't!"

"Hn. It was mine to do with as I pleased. As is that silly trinket. But don't worry, I'll let you keep the Porsche and all the crap you purchased with my credit card." At least that way he wouldn't have to worry about Yami going without all the material possessions he had grown accustomed to.

"Bastard! I don't want…" Yami swallowed hard, forcing down his desire to hurt Seto the way Seto was hurting him. He doesn't mean it. He's baiting you… don't let him distract you from what you have to do. "You keep everything. I don't want any of it. But this…" and his fingers tightened around the nameplate, "this is mine. It's important to me."

The taller teen took a step forward. "Is that what you think? It's yours? Please… it was just a meaningless little bauble intended for whomever my boyfriend happened to be, but you aren't my boyfriend any longer. Maybe I want to give it to someone else someday, has that ever occurred to you?"

"What?! You're lying! I know you are, because… What are you trying to hide?" Yami said as Seto continued to advance on him. "Why won't you let me in? I can help you with whatever it is that's bothering you, if you'd only…"

For some reason, it made Seto insanely angry that even in the middle of a fight, Yami was trying to look out for him and instead of worrying about himself. Why couldn't he just leave it alone? Why did he always have to sacrifice himself for the good of others?! That burning anger propelled Seto forward and caused his hand to shoot out, fingers curling tightly around a slender arm. "Shut up! I don't want your help! Give me that piece of shit or else!" he roared, roughly forcing Yami back a few feet until he hit the wall, his other hand snaking up to grab the buckle at the back of Yami's collar.

"No! Stop it! Seto… Ow, Seto, you're hurting me!" Yami yelled in alarm as he tried to break the brunette's painfully strong grip on his arm. Unable to break the hold, he reached up with his free hand to stop Seto from undoing the buckle, but Seto had already gotten most of it undone and was now yanking hard on the strap to get the metal tongue to disengage from the eyelets punched into the leather. Yami hissed in pain as the metal and leather choked him momentarily, then the entire collar was pulled away, Seto's fingernails raking across his throat in his haste. "Seto!"

"You want to know what I think of all this bullshit? This is exactly what I think!" The young CEO took a step back, threw the collar to the ground, and stomped on it repeatedly with a sock-clad foot.

Yami's breath hitched as he clung to the wall for support, his eyes fixed on the collar. He couldn't believe Seto was doing this… it made no sense! He didn't want this to be the last thing he remembered about his lover. Despite his best efforts, Yami could feel tears starting to well up in his eyes, blurring his vision. "Seto… I…"

Seto glanced up at that miserable sounding voice, shocked to see Yami fighting back tears but at the same time pleased at the though of Yami finally giving up on him and thus saving his own life. But Yami still wasn't completely convinced from the looks of it, so the brunette bent down and retrieved the collar, then made a big show of taking it over to the trashcan and tossing it in with a disgusted curl of his lips. "That… is what I think of us."

"You… but I still…" Yami's face contorted in pain as he gave Seto a stunned look, barely managing to meet his eyes, then turned and hopped awkwardly out of the office without even bothering to retrieve his crutches, his eyes now burning with unshed tears.

Seto remained standing by the trashcan for several more minutes, but when he was sure that Yami was gone, he ran for the nearest bathroom and threw up what little he had eaten until there was nothing left but stomach acid. Even though he knew he had done the right thing, it didn't erase the memory of Yami's beautiful eyes flickering with sadness and uncertainty and perhaps even a hint of fear, the scratches on his neck already turning pink in agitation. How could he have done that? What kind of monster was he?

* * *

TBC

Author’s Notes:

November 11, 2005