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: The situation worsens at the Kaiba mansion.
Status: 5 / ?
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. 5: From Bad to Worse

* * *

Ten days after he was first admitted, Yami was finally released from the hospital and true to his word, Yugi arrived in Jii-chan's old station wagon to give Yami a lift back to the mansion. But not surprisingly, two surgeries, various aches and pains, endless days of enforced bed rest, and no sign of Seto had made Yami a cranky mess and now he couldn't help passing on every unhappy thought to his aibou.

Ugh, I can't get out of here fast enough, the ex-spirit complained as a nurse pushed his wheelchair through the lobby while Yugi carried Yami's medication and personal effects out and went to bring the car around to the entrance. I still don't get why they can't just let me hobble out of here with some dignity.

Because if you fall and hurt yourself, they're afraid you might sue them, Yugi replied patiently, though even his nerves were starting to wear thin from the waves of discontent that had been radiating off of his other half for the last few days. He wished Yami had taken him up on his offer to draw away some of the physical pain using their link, but Yami had stubbornly refused, even shutting down their link to a bare minimal trickle, when the violet-eyed teen had attempted it. After that, Yami made Yugi promise he wouldn't try it again before he was willing to open back up to him again.

Aibou! Yami called out, interrupting Yugi's thoughts. The violet-eyed teen sighed and took a moment to pull the station wagon as close to the curb as possible, then threw it into park before getting out and running around to open the passenger side door. Yami allowed Yugi to help him get into the car after a quick mental argument, then they finally left the hospital, which should have made Yami happier, but instead it seemed to have the opposite effect on him.

Yugi wasn't sure if he preferred a crabby Yami or a morose one, though it was a little easier to concentrate on driving when his other half was sulking instead of complaining. But by the time they pulled up to the iron gates in front of the mansion grounds some 20 minutes later, Yami had gone completely silent.

Yami? Yugi called out, worried. He was also a bit concerned as to why no one had opened the gates for them yet when he knew that Shizuka had informed Mokuba and Noa the previous day that Yami was going to be released this afternoon. And why was Isono stepping out of the guard station to approach the car?

Yami rolled down the passenger side window and looked up impassively at Seto's chief of security. "Isono."

The man was sweating and mopping nervously at his forehead, which was never a good sign. "Um… Yami. I'm glad to see you're out of the hospital, sir, but I'm afraid that… uh… I have been asked by Mr. Kaiba to escort you into the house to pick up your things if you happened to come by."

"WHAT?" Yugi gasped, turning to the ex-spirit, afraid of what he might do in retaliation. Seto probably wouldn't appreciate finding out that Isono had been sent to the Shadow Realm. But Yami just sat there stone faced and didn't say a word. "No way… are you serious?"

"I'm sorry, but it's the truth. If you would please pull up in front of the house…"

Yugi flushed with agitation. "But…!" It doesn't make sense! What in the world is Kaiba thinking?!

"Go on," Yami murmured, dropping his head so that his bangs hid his eyes from view.

"Yami?"

"Please, just… go on."

* * *

It didn't matter that Yami wanted to go in and take care of things alone. He knew both Yugi, who was so helplessly upset that it was making him even more unhappy, and Isono, who was obligated to follow, were right behind him as he painfully made his way up the stairs. It really didn't make any difference at all because by the time he opened the door to the master bedroom and saw that Seto had already taken it upon himself to start packing up all his belongings, nothing that Yugi or Isono had to say would have made it any better or worse.

Yami slowly made his way into the room and sank down wearily on the bed. Isono took a step forward to stop him, but after considering his instructions, his employer hadn't specified that Yami wasn't to touch anything not belonging to him, so he withdrew his hand. Then he began to wonder what else was left open to interpretation…

"Oh… Yami…" Yugi breathed, taking in the several bags and boxes already piled neatly against one wall, each labeled in Seto's neat script describing the contents inside. "This is… why is Kaiba doing this?!"

Isono frowned, then decided to speak up. "For what it's worth, Yami, I just wanted you to know that while I don't understand the circumstances behind Mr. Kaiba's decision, I do believe he is making a big mistake. But still… I have to do my job. However, seeing as how Mr. Kaiba left rather… vague directions, well, I did escort you in...."

Yugi raised an eyebrow as the man bowed his head at Yami, then turned and walked out of the room. "Wow…" Isono is so loyal to Kaiba… that's almost like mutiny.

Aibou. Yami's tired mental voice once again interrupted Yugi's train of thought.

Yes, Yami?

I would like a few minutes alone, if it's all right.

Of course. Yugi turned and quietly exited the bedroom as well, shutting the door behind him while clamping down on their link to give Yami the privacy he desired.

Once he was truly alone, Yami sighed deeply and got under the covers, rolling over to Seto's side of the bed to bury his face in the pillow, trying to find some comfort in the faint scent of his lover lingering on the sheets.

* * *

"Yami, are you home? Oh, hey Yugi!"

The violet-eyed teen started as he heard his name being called. Concerned, he turned to see Mokuba and Noa charging down the hallway towards him. "Hi."

Mokuba grinned in relief as he dropped his book bag on the floor. "We just got home and saw your car up front. How's Yami doing? I'm so glad he's back."

Oh dear, I wonder if they know. "Well, he's doing about as well as can be expected I guess. But, uh… has Kaiba said anything to you about Yami?"

Noa shook his head. "Nope, not a word. And we're tired of watching him sulk and hide behind his work. So now that Yami's home, hopefully things will go return to normal. Why? What's up?"

Yugi grimaced. Boy, I do NOT want to be the bearer of bad news… "Isono said Kaiba instructed him to escort Yami in to pick up his things. As in, he wants him to move out."

Two sets of jaws hit the ground. "Pick up his… wait, move out!? Please tell me you're kidding!" Noa managed to gasp.

"I don't believe it…" Mokuba said faintly. That has to be a lie! Everyone knows that Seto can't live without Yami!

Yugi sighed. He had a feeling he was going to be sighing a lot more in the future. "Me neither, but when I saw the boxes and stuff…"

Mokuba angrily pushed past Yugi to get into the bedroom, but stopped dead in his tracks as soon as he saw that the violet-eyed teen was indeed telling the truth. Certainly there was no other explanation for the various boxes and bags on the floor with Seto's writing all over them. As Mokuba swept his eyes across the room, he finally spotted a few tufts of dark, scarlet tipped hair sticking up from under the covers on the left side of the bed. Poor Yami! Nii-sama, what have you done!? "Yami?" he said cautiously.

The tri-colored spikes shifted. "Mokuba?" Yami mumbled, though he made no move to get out from under the covers.

Mokuba ran over to the bed and cried out plaintively, "Yami, I don't want you to leave!"

A hand emerged from under the covers and pushed the sheets back until a pale face and sad crimson eyes were revealed. "It's not exactly my choice," Yami said dully, sitting up with a bit of effort.

Well, it was hard to argue with that statement. Mokuba considered his response carefully. Let's see, I can cry and guilt Yami into staying, or I can be a jerk like Seto and tell him that quitting is for losers… So he let his eyes get big and shimmery, then burst into tears and threw himself at Yami. "Don't go! We need you and… and Seto needs you too! He's just being stupid and unreasonable and… and…"

"And he's an asshole," Noa finished up as he walked into the room with Yugi. The pair had just finished arguing out in the hallway about whether the former Pharaoh should stay and fight it out with Seto, or leave with Yugi and give Seto the space he apparently was craving. Yugi's main concern was Yami's physical, mental and emotional health, but the two finally agreed that it was ultimately Yami's decision to make.

Yugi sighed again, then walked over to the bed. "Yami, do you want to stay or come back with me? I need to go pretty soon because I have a paper that's due first thing tomorrow morning, but if you're going to stay, Noa said that he and Mokuba would be happy to help you unpack your things. And if you want to leave…"

Yami looked down at the sobbing teen in his arms, feeling a bit heartened by everyone's support. "I'm staying. And you don't have to keep crying, Mokuba… I wouldn't ever give up on Seto without a fight. Thank you for reminding me of that."

Mokuba sniffled and pulled away, his face slightly pink with embarrassment at being caught. "Nii-sama doesn't deserve you," he said in all seriousness.

Are you absolutely sure? Yugi asked Yami through their link, though he knew his other half would not give up on his lover so easily. But he couldn't help but continue to worry about how Seto might react when he came back and saw Yami in the house against his wishes. The young CEO wasn't exactly renowned for his restraint, though even Yugi couldn't imagine him getting physically violent with Yami.

Yes. It'll be all right… I'll figure something out. The crimson-eyed teen finally grabbed his crutches and hopped out of bed.

I hope so. Just remember that you aren't alone in this, and if you ever need to talk or a ride or anything at all, I'll always be here for you. Yugi leaned in for a quick hug, then told Noa and Mokuba, "I know your loyalty should be to your brother first, but can I count on you two to stand by Yami on this?"

Mokuba and Noa glanced at each other. "Of course you can; this is for Seto's own good anyhow!" the black-haired teen responded confidently while Noa nodded emphatically in agreement, putting a small smile on Yugi's face.

"Thanks Mokuba. And I'll talk to you later, Yami." With a wave, the violet-eyed teen left the bedroom.

Noa turned to his two companions. "Well, now that that's settled, let's start unpacking."

* * *

Seto didn't get home until nearly 9:00 PM despite the fact that it was just an ordinary Sunday. He really wasn't surprised that neither Mokuba nor Noa came down to greet him but in many ways, it was easier that way. He felt guilty enough without the accusatory looks they were giving him. They were obviously quite upset about the fact that he had forbidden them from visiting Yami, but it was a decision he stood by.

Heading into the kitchen for a late dinner, Seto yanked a random frozen meal from the freezer and popped it into the microwave. While the food heated up, he couldn't help but think about how much he missed Yami's cooking. And sitting down for dinner with Yami and his brothers, complete with inane conversation about work and school and Yami's laughter in his head and Yami's warm shoulder bumping up against his arm while a hand slid over to gently rub his thigh… Stop it! Stop thinking about it, you idiot! You should be happy to know that he's alive; keep worrying about him and he'll end up permanently dead this time, and it'll be your fault, he silently berated himself, his stomach beginning to churn once again.

All of a sudden dinner didn't sound so good anymore.

* * *

After losing his appetite, and with no one in the house to talk to, Seto figured he'd just turn in for the evening. Normally he would have had something business related to do, but since he had started working longer hours again he was finding it hard to keep himself buried with work. And the earlier he went to bed, the earlier he could get up, which would help him avoid the uncomfortable silence that had pervaded breakfast for the last few days.

With that decided, Seto quietly walked into his bedroom, flipped on the lights, went to walk past the bed, and nearly had a heart attack when he glimpsed something unexpected out of the corner of his eye.

Yami was asleep. In his bed. On his side of the bed even. In a panic, the brunette grabbed the remote on the nightstand to switch the lights off, but even in the darkness, he could still see the outline of Yami's body, lying there on his bed.

What the FUCK? Why is he here? Oh no… no no no… Isono should have made him take his things and leave. His feet carried him against his will towards the bed, and he quickly found himself practically leaning over the sleeping teen, for as upset as he was, he couldn't help but feel a rush of relief at seeing Yami alive and more or less well. What am I supposed to do? Sleep downstairs? Wake him and kick him out?

His foot shifted forward slightly and bumped against something, knocking it into a few other items and sending the entire lot clattering to the ground. Oddly, Yami didn't wake up, though he did moan piteously before rolling over. Seto automatically began reaching for him, wanting to soothe him and stroke his hair, only managing to catch himself a few scant millimeters away from making contact. Frowning at his own loss of control, Seto wrenched his hand away and reached down to pick up the fallen items instead, which turned out to be a pair of cold, long metal objects and a few pill bottles. After propping the crutches back up on the nightstand, his curiosity got the better of him and he took the trio of pill bottles to the bathroom to examine them.

They turned out to be prescription painkillers, an anti-inflammatory, and sleeping pills. So he's out like a light. I could have someone take him back to the game shop and he wouldn't know the difference... But Seto couldn't help but selfishly make an excuse for Yami to stay. But what if he woke up on the way there and couldn't fall asleep afterwards? They must have prescribed sleeping pills for a reason… maybe he's in so much pain that he can't sleep. And it would be awfully disorientating for him to wake up in a car in the middle of the night, unable to recall how he managed to get there.

Unable to convince himself to send Yami away, the young billionaire figured the best thing to do was to go sleep in a guest bedroom. But once again, he found himself justifying why he should stay. While he turned on the shower and waited for the water to heat up, he thought, What if he needs someone to keep an eye on him with all the medication he's on? Or what if he gets cold but he can't get up to fetch himself a blanket? And it's my bed anyways… no reason why I should inconvenience myself by moving downstairs.

In the end, Seto decided to leave Yami where he was, and grabbing a few extra pillows from the closet, he placed them in the center of the bed so that even if he rolled over in his sleep he wouldn't be able to easily latch onto Yami. Satisfied with his temporary solution, he finally turned in for the night, but sleep proved to be elusive. What would he do once morning came?

* * *

Yami woke up alone late the next morning, though it was quite obvious to even his muddled mind that someone else had slept in the bed last night. After all, he didn't stack a bunch of pillows down the center of the mattress, leave the sheets all rumpled on the right side, and he certainly didn't shed the single strand of brown hair that clung loosely to the pillow on the other side of the bed.

Seto…

The ex-spirit groaned and rolled over, throwing an arm over his eyes. Things were only becoming more and more confusing. At least he knew now for certain that Seto didn't want him gone. But his boyfriend's heart had always been a difficult thing to read and an even more delicate thing to handle, even for Mokuba. Though Seto always put up a brave front, Yami knew how vulnerable he really was underneath that indomitable exterior… how rattled, no, terrified he must have been to realize that he could have lost both his beloved little brother and his lover in a single disastrous moment, and how overwhelming that realization must have been.

Yami was willing to back away and give Seto his space, willing to wait as long as it took for Seto to work out whatever was bothering him, willing to be a sympathetic ear if Seto chose to take advantage of that fact. He was willing to do whatever it took to get Seto back because he couldn't imagine his life without him, but first of all, he had to get Seto to stop running away from the problem and to do that, he would have to confront him.

It turned out to be a much more difficult task than Yami had anticipated. Thanks to his medication, he was sleeping much more than normal and two more nights passed with the exact same results as the first. Even Mokuba and Noa were having problems nailing Seto down since he was back to functioning on minimal sleep. By the time the younger teens awoke Seto was already off to Kaiba Corp., and there he stayed until very late at night. Noa had even suggested calling or emailing Seto in lieu of a face-to-face conversation, but Seto simply hung up or discarded the messages his unhappy lover was leaving. They might have even asked Isono for a little help in passing on notes, but Seto had FIRED the unfortunate man for insubordination the day after Yami got back from the hospital, something which Yami swore to remedy the first chance he got. Just because Seto was upset didn't give him the right to ruin everyone else's lives.

So on his fourth evening back, Yami skipped the sleeping pills and turned in extra early in hopes that he would be able to wake up in time to catch Seto before he left for work the next morning.

* * *

It was impossible to tell what time it was without looking at the clock, but from the chill in the air and the complete lack of natural light, Yami figured it had to be fairly early in the morning. He lay still as the clock radio droned on, listening to Seto as he rolled over, cursing softly, his hand fumbling for the off switch on the alarm. But the taller duelist didn't get out of the bed like Yami thought he would; instead, he rolled over and propped himself up on what Yami had come to think of as the Great Wall of Pillows.

Perplexed, Yami reminded himself to control his breathing. Seconds slowly ticked by. Is he going to just look at me? Seto seemed to be satisfied with just staring at him as if he were an interesting computer schematic or something. But then the mattress dipped a little more and Yami could feel Seto's exhalations he narrowed the gap between them. Then a strand of silky hair unexpectedly brushed across the tip of Yami's nose, causing crimson eyes to fly open in surprise. The shorter teen hadn't thought that his boyfriend had gotten in so close.

Seto gasped and jerked back so hard that several pillows from the "wall" were knocked aside. Fuck… was he awake this whole time?! He quickly scrambled off the bed, nervously running his fingers through sleep tousled hair while he tried to figure out what to do.

"Baby?"

The brunette gulped. Just hearing Yami's voice and the way it caressed that familiar nickname made him want to cave in, but he couldn't… there was too much at risk for him to be so easily swayed. Gathering up all the willpower he could muster, he put on a mask of cold indifference and walked around to the other side of the bed, grabbing Yami's robe off the chest at the foot of the bed and throwing it at him, wincing at the way the fabric slapped against bruised skin. "Get out."

Yami was a bit slow in reaction time, so the balled up garment hit his chest and fell into his lap. "Seto, please… we ought to talk."

"Put it on and get out!" Seto barked icily, though internally he was aching from speaking so callously. But he knew if he gave Yami a chance to talk, the wily ex-spirit would find a way to convince him to continue their relationship, which would only lead to disaster and even more heartache in the end. Even though it was tearing him apart, he reminded himself that he was doing this for Yami's sake at the very least. At least this way Yami wouldn't die again. He just hoped that knowledge would be enough to sustain him, since he certainly wanted Yami to go on and find happiness with someone who deserved him, someone who would not burden him with such an unfortunate curse.

Still… it was hard as hell having to watch Yami struggle out of bed, the robe now hanging off slumped shoulders. With hurt glazing over his eyes, Yami grabbed his crutches and slowly began to make his way out of the room. He was halfway to the door when one of the crutches caught on the dangling belt from his robe, throwing him off balance. Alarmed, Seto dashed forward, catching the shorter duelist just as he instinctively slammed his cast clad right foot down in an effort to keep himself from falling.

Yami couldn't keep a small cry from escaping his lips as the pain shot straight up his leg and without thinking, Seto scooped Yami up into his arms. As soon as their bodies settled into that position, the young CEO realized what he had done and nearly dropped the crimson-eyed teen in surprise. What in the world am I doing? Their eyes met for a brief moment, but Seto broke contact as soon as he was able. How the fuck am I supposed to get rid of him if I flip out every time I even so much as look at him?!

Extremely uneasy about what was going on, Seto tried to convince himself to simply put Yami down and hand him his crutches, but his body refused to obey. So he found himself carrying Yami back to bed, his arms wrapped much more tightly than necessary around the slender figure. I'm just letting him rest since he's injured. It's no big deal; I'll be out the door in a matter of minutes. And if he's still here when I get back tonight, I'll just wake him up and tell him it's over. He unconsciously clutched Yami even more tightly than before.

Although Seto was putting a highly uncomfortable amount of pressure on the bruises spotting his back, Yami didn't complain… after spending two weeks without Seto, any sign of affection from his boyfriend was a very welcome thing indeed. Unfortunately, the moment was so brief that it seemed to be over before it began, and before Yami could even say a word Seto had dumped him back on the bed, pulled the covers up, and mumbled, "I have to go."

"Wait, Seto…"

The brunette cut him off. "No. Just shut up and go back to sleep. You're lucky I'm not kicking your crippled ass out of here."

"Don't say that, Seto… Kai-baby, please…" Yami said plaintively.

Without another word, Seto turned around and walked into the closet to select an outfit for work, then carried everything out of the room, slamming the door behind him.

* * *

TBC

Author’s Notes:

October 21, 2005