Title: Aftershocks
Author: bnomiko
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Seto + Yami
Spoilers: some reference to Pharaoh’s Memory / Ancient Egypt arc
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: Friends from overseas get involved.
Status: 8 / ?
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. 8: The Flame

* * *

Seto didn't come home that evening. And he didn't come home the next evening, or the evening after that. At least he had called Mokuba to let him know that he had a "business thing" which would take up the entire weekend, though everyone in the household knew that the young CEO was lying and probably hiding out at a hotel or something. But Yami was concerned about his boyfriend's behavior, if he could even still refer to him that way. How was he supposed to have a heart-to-heart with Seto if he was avoiding his own home for days at a time?

"I'm telling you, the solution is simple. Just move to America and you can be my third boyfriend," Valon was suggesting over the new cellphone Mokuba had picked up to replace Yami's old one. "I'd treat you good, mate."

"No thanks, I'm not looking forward to dying at Rafael's hands," Yami replied, thankful for the mindless banter and the mundane chore of folding laundry on the bed, his leg propped up on a pillow while he worked. It was funny how even a small thing like sorting laundry could bring a bit of normalcy back into a life that was currently anything but. There were so many little things he missed, like his usual morning runs with Jou and Honda, being able to drive himself around to visit friends, quickies in the morning with Seto... the way the color of Seto's eyes darkened slightly when he was aroused in anger or in passion, and the way his pale skin flushed as…

STOP that! Yami berated himself. He knew it was doing him no good to worry about whether or not Seto would come home now that the weekend was nearly over. Might as well worry about why the sky was blue. But Yami couldn't help it.

Valon's hearty laugh shook the former Pharaoh out of his stupor, and his mind tried to pick up the words that were coming through the earpiece. "… dy bear. But honestly, I'd think that Rafael would want to have a go at you too. And Amelda wouldn't care either way."

Yami stifled a sigh, angry at himself for getting so distracted by his melancholy. Not that he wanted the carefree, commitment-free life that Valon was living. While it sounded nice to be able to have multiple relationships without any real boundaries, it wasn't what he wanted OR needed. He liked Seto's jealous nature and he liked feeling just as possessive of Seto. He couldn't imagine sharing him with another man. "But I would care, Valon."

"Yeah, I guess you would. You'd be too high maintenance anyways… Kaiba's probably spoiled you rotten. The mansion, the vacation house, the Porsche…"

I'd give up all that in a heartbeat if it meant that Seto would just give me chance to talk to him, the crimson-eyed teen thought morosely, but since Valon seemed to be waiting for a response to his observation, he said, "Hey, you got a yacht and a beachfront home AND a new custom bike, since you wrecked the last one. So don't complain. Besides, if you wanted another boyfriend, Pegasus certainly looked interested."

"Ah, you mean my sugar daddy? Nah, he's my boss - he gives me cash even though I don't put out," Valon joked. "And between you and me… I couldn't handle another boyfriend. I just want a spunk for the occasional root on the side, you know?"

"Um, okay." He had no clue what the Aussie had just said, but from context the ex-spirit had a pretty good idea of what he was referring to.

"Ah, damn it! I have to go. Amelda's been screaming about din… OKAY, I said I'll be right down!! God, you'd think he was my mum or something."

Yami managed a weak chuckle at that, although he couldn't help but be a bit envious that things were going so well for the three former Doom members. "All right then, I'll talk to you later. Take care of yourself."

"Yeah, you too! And… good luck, Yami."

* * *

Seto sat at his desk and rubbed his forehead, trying to will away the persistent headache which had been bothering him all weekend. It wouldn't go away, no matter how much aspirin he took. Perhaps it would have helped if he slept a little more, but sleep wasn't coming easily to him as of late, and the fact that he had been staying in a suite at the KaibaLand Hotel instead of his own bed made his insomnia even worse.

With a growl of frustration, he stood up and walked over to the wall of large windows behind his desk, looking out over the urban sprawl far below. So many people going about their daily routines… he wondered how many of them were in the middle of a nasty break up? How many were watching their lives fall apart, watching because it felt like there was nothing they could do to stop it from happening?

It was too bad about Isono. What was the man thinking, picking apart his instructions like that? He knew what Seto had expected but then had to go and be stupid for no apparent reason. Fubeta would take over his position, but it wasn't quite the same without Isono around. And what would he do about replacing Nozaka? She had been a damn good secretary… hard working, punctual, intelligent, not prone to standing around and gossiping like many of the employees… until she pulled an Isono on him as well.

The cellphone suddenly rang, and Seto stalked back to his desk to pick it up. Now why was Pegasus calling him on a Sunday afternoon? It had to be late Saturday night in California, and he knew for a fact that the man believed in weekends off.

"Well, hello Kaiba-boy!" Pegasus said in greeting when Seto finally decided to take the call.

Seto ground his teeth and picked up his wireless earpiece, setting the phone down and glaring at it while irrationally wishing he could reach through it and throttle the man on the other side. "So I take it that this is a social call, and not business related."

"Hmm… neither."

"Oh, so you're drunk then and decided to crank call me, is that it? Why don't you call one of your fuck buddies and play with their minds instead?"

"Fuck buddies? That's so vulgar. I'm not drunk, and this isn't a crank call. It's also not a business call, but I can't say I'm trying to be sociable either."

Pegasus' roundabout explanation just made Seto's head throb more. "Just tell me what you want so we can end this call sooner rather than later."

"Tsk tsk. So rude. I actually called you as a favor."

"A favor to who?" If he says Yami, or Yugi, or…

"To you of course. See, Yami has been calling Valon, and Valon's a bit, mm… talkative, so now I've decided that my intervention is necessary."

"No thanks. Not interested. Bye." The brunette reached up to end the call, but just before his finger pressed down the button, Pegasus' entire demeanor changed.

"Kaiba, I warned you, didn't I?"

Seto's hand stilled. He hadn't heard Pegasus use that tone of voice since Duelist Kingdom, and it sent an involuntary shiver up his spine. "Warned me about what?" he had to ask, wondering if there was a veiled threat somewhere in there.

"I told you, you have a good thing going with Yami. Or I guess the more appropriate word now would be had. I told you to not mess up. So… how do you like sleeping alone, Kaiba?"

"Shut the fuck up." The pad of his finger made contact with the disconnect button.

"I bet you're barely sleeping at all. And you probably have a constant migraine and no appetite. I know it's hard to adjust when something that seems to have always been there just vanishes from your life. But my Cyndia is dead. And your Yami is alive, so at least you have the opportunity to..."

He's alive and he's going to stay alive thanks to me. "You don't know a thing about me," Seto seethed, a little unnerved by Pegasus' insight into the situation.

"Hmph. I do know that I've been very generous in allowing you to use my Duel Monsters designs in your products and theme park for a simple flat fee as opposed to charging you royalties on top of that. And our contract is up for renegotiations soon." The silver-haired man's voice was darker than ever. "There's a European company that makes a similar product to your Duel Disks, or so I've heard. Wouldn't it be a shame if I released the card specs to Schroider Corp. first? Even with your brilliant programming abilities it would take you months to catch up, which would negatively impact your profits I'd imagine."

"You're threatening my company?" Seto yelled, jumping to his feet in shock and anger. What's the game, Pegasus? Why do you care what I do with my life?

"I'm afraid so. See, I'm good at this sort of thing, and I know what your buttons are," Pegasus said smugly.

The younger CEO snarled and pounded his fist on his desk. "How dare you drag my personal life into our business dealings! It's none of your business if I chose to break up with Yami! I'm not you! This is not your life!!"

"Of course not. I wouldn't be so stupid to throw away something so valuable. Unless your money is all you're really concerned about, in which case, I've totally misread you."

"Don't think for a minute that you can read me. You don't have the Eye anymore, Pegasus!!"

"This time, I didn't need it." Then Pegasus sighed and his voice softened. "Please, Kaiba… think about what you're doing. I shouldn't have to make idle threats to force you to listen. I know I'm intruding and that this really doesn't concern me, but the extraordinary bond between you and Yami, well… it isn't something which can simply be discarded or ignored. Quite frankly, I'm jealous. I didn't think I'd find two people more in love than Cyndia and me."

Pegasus spoke of love so easily it was frightening, and Seto shuddered at the mere thought of it. "That's nice. Go fuck yourself." He ended the call before the other CEO could get out another word.

* * *

It was nearly 3:00 AM when a weary Seto finally decided to leave his office and begin heading home. He didn't even remember why he had decided to stay so late; it was out of habit, he supposed. After all, Yami would have been packed and gone at least three hours prior, so the only people he could possibly be hiding from were Noa and Mokuba. And it wasn't like he had a reason to hide from them. He didn't need to explain himself to them. After all, wasn't he the big brother? The adult in the household?

But as he pulled his car out of the parking structure and onto sparsely populated city streets, he considered how the break up was affecting his brothers. He knew that both Mokuba and Noa had grown attached to Yami. It was a mistake he should have never made in the first place, a mistake he would not make again, especially considering he had no plans to get back into the dating scene any time soon, if ever. He just hoped they would both understand and accept it, especially Mokuba, but at the same time, he knew if Mokuba really chose to push for an explanation, he would cave. He could never deny Mokuba anything. Which lead back to thinking about why he was driving home at an ungodly hour and why he was spending his days hiding in his office. Not that he was really hiding.

Engrossed in his thoughts and driving on auto-pilot, Seto didn't even notice when he blew through a red light, but unfortunately for him a cop did, which earned him a ticket. The brunette was so exhausted and numb by that point that he didn't even bother getting angry over it. Nothing like a cherry on top of a sundae of bad luck, after all.

Tired and upset over the wreck that was his life, Seto finally arrived home and dragged himself up the stairs to his bedroom. Flicking on the lights out of habit, he began shedding his clothing as he walked, haphazardly tossing random pieces onto the floor as he headed for the bathroom. But just as he reached the door, something clicked in his head and he turned, feeling a surge of anger mixed with relief at the sight before him.

Yami. Sleeping soundly and curled up on his side of the… in his bed. Seto shook his head, frustrated. It was like time had rewound… didn't he see this exact sight a week prior? Was Yami really so dense that he couldn't understand that the relationship was over and that he was no longer welcome at the mansion? Why was he torturing him like this?

He really ought to just rouse the younger duelist, stuff him in a car, and have someone take him home. That was the proper thing to do. But as soon as his hand touched down on Yami's bare shoulder, he felt as if he had thrust it into a live flame, the heat from the slender body licking up every nerve and burning away his resolve. All he could think about was warm, smooth skin and memories of caresses and kisses, and to his dismay, his fingers automatically began stroking and kneading Yami's shoulder. He could barely remember the last time he found anything so fascinating.

It wasn't fair, not that Seto had ever expected life to be fair, but still… was it really too much to ask for things to go right just this once? He felt so cold both inside and out and yet lying there within the cause of his misery was all the warmth he could ever want. He wanted to give in and just sink under the covers and find solace in Yami's arms… it was so tempting and he was beyond tired, but just as his knees began giving out, his mind was flooded once again by the dreadful memories that had been chasing him relentlessly the past three weeks. The Pharaoh's soulless body as it crumpled to the ground… his pregnant mother crying in pain as she was wheeled into a hospital emergency room, never to return again… Mokuba's cries and the wails of the sirens as the police told him his father was dead… his grandfather's fatal heart attack at his father's funeral… the sound of the shattering Puzzle…

Seto took a deep breath and shakily tried to push himself away from the bed, but his mind wouldn't allow him to forget. Yami… help me…

… Three millennia passing by and a dark tomb somewhere beneath the sands of Egypt... Yami lying bruised and still on the hospital bed… his aunt Kazuko diagnosed with cancer and his uncle Ichiro calling him and Mokuba a curse on the family, using that as an excuse to steal away their inheritance and dump them at the orphanage… Mokuba losing his soul at Duelist Kingdom, being turned into stone in Noa's virtual world, and then there was Death-T…

Seto's broke out in a cold sweat as a chill swept through his body. God, Mokuba… That gave him the strength to rise back up on his feet, though he could feel how weak his legs were as they threatened to collapse yet again. He was horrified that he had wavered, had been tempted to give in and satisfy his own desires. And then what? For a moment's worth of peace and security Yami would die, and once Mokuba grew up and moved on as he would eventually do, he'd be left alone with nothing but his guilt. Knowing that he was destined to be alone was something he thought he had come to terms with. But then Yami had to come along and wedge himself into his life, and the wondrous sensations he brought along with him had been so beguiling…

He was such a fool, such a weak, selfish fool for falling for his rival in the first place. And worse yet, he still couldn't bring himself to kick Yami out now that he was so comfortably ensconced in the bed… he'd have to deal with him the following day. But he was just so tired and… and…

In mid-thought, his body finally gave out and Seto practically dropped where he stood. With great effort he managed to crawl into bed and fell asleep before he even got under the covers.

* * *

TBC

Author’s Notes:

November 5, 2005