Title: The Cost of Doing Business
Pairing(s): Yami + Seto, Noa + Mokuba (possible mention of Jou + Mai, Yugi + Anzu, Malik + Ryou, Rafael + Valon + Amelda)
Disclaimer: Nyquil is a product of Procter & Gamble. Virus Buster Serge is the creation of Masami Obari. 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: It started off as a mild cough. No big deal, right?
Status: 1 / ?
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:
* * *
The Cost of Doing Business
Ch. 1: Incubating the Succubus
* * *
The weeklong grand opening celebration for KaibaLand America was finally over, signaling the beginning of the migration home for the last remaining group of invitees. Sated with memories of a pleasant vacation but missing the routine beat of their lives, Yugi-tachi were happy to return to Domino, even though they had only been away a week.
But for Seto, who had remained behind with his brothers and his lover for a few additional days, no words could describe how he had felt when he finally arrived home two months, three days, and a handful of hours after he had first left. He had missed the familiar streets leading up to the house, the sight of Kuriboh trotting up alongside the car, whinnying as they pulled in, the feel of his bed as Yami tackled him onto it. It was funny how the little things could make such a difference, but they did. He had slept better that night than he had in a long, long time.
That homecoming afternoon, along with the one day off in America that he had promised to Mokuba a week earlier, was all the "vacation" Seto had gotten. Still, that was more than he usually got, so he couldn’t really complain, even if he had originally hoped that he’d be able to relax a bit after the KC Grand Prix. But unfortunately, thanks to Siegfried’s interference, he had ended up spending his last few days in America tidying things up. He’d had to order a sweeping safety inspection of every ride at the park, and had made upgrades to the park’s central computer system to prevent future problems. But thanks to a lot of hard work and long hours, Seto had finally resolved things to his satisfaction. KaibaLand America would be a success; he was certain of it. Already the park had gotten rave reviews from visitors, and even the always-fickle media had good things to say once the safety issues were addressed.
Yes, it would’ve been nice to get a little more time off. It would’ve been nice if he could have gone on some of the amusement park’s rides with his family, or spent time lounging on the beach with Yugi and the others. But that was just a fantasy. So he had worked while everyone else played, swallowing the accompanying tiredness that still plagued him. He figured it would go away now that they were back at home.
At least now he’d be able to get back to his old work schedule, arriving at the office between 6:00 and 7:00 AM and leaving by 6:00 PM on weekdays. It would help keep Yami from nagging at him about getting more rest, or about putting on more weight. Hearing him harp on those things was getting annoying. Besides, Seto figured he knew his own limits better than anyone.
So it was no surprise that the next morning found the young CEO back in his office at Kaiba Corp. headquarters, as always, looking ahead to future projects. The company was developing an online role playing game as well as a variety of video games for their up and coming handheld platform. New Duel Disk graphics were needed for the next set of Duel Monsters cards coming out. The fall lineup of their cable channels had to be finalized. More research was needed on the feasibility of building a dueling academy of sorts. On the KaibaLand front, there were possible expansions of promotional deals with several American companies to consider, plus an evaluation of vendors already providing services to the park. And if all that weren’t enough of a headache, teen magazines were now clamoring for interviews with Noa and Mokuba, who apparently had caught the attention of young, mostly female, fans during the Grand Prix coverage. So many different things to be done on top of all the more mundane matters that pelted the brunette on a daily basis… that was life as normal for someone ambitious as Seto.
* * *
Five days later, Seto developed a slight cough. Yami couldn’t help but be concerned… he knew Seto had pushed himself too hard over the last few months and that his immune system was still struggling because of it. But the taller man immediately shrugged off his lover’s concern, saying that he felt fine. Certainly the scratching in the back of his throat was annoying, but he wasn’t lying – he really didn’t feel bad. No fever or runny nose or anything; probably nothing worse than a mild cold. A few pills ought to take care of it. And besides, he didn’t consider a mild cough a reason to skip out on work.
After some consideration and a quick consultation with Mokuba and Noa, Yami decided that it wasn’t worth fighting with Seto over it. Other than the cough, the young billionaire didn’t seem to be ill. And on top of that, it was a Saturday… at worst Seto would only be in the office for half the day. He’d have a day and a half to rest before the workweek began again.
So Seto went in as scheduled, returning home in about the same condition as when he had left. And just as Yami had hoped, his boyfriend spent most of the afternoon lazing around, doing nothing more strenuous than playing video games at his brothers’ urging.
The next day, Seto was still coughing a bit, but hadn’t gotten any worse. Yami felt a little relieved at that. It seemed that Seto was right; he’d be okay.
They spent half of Sunday at the tattoo parlor where the always reliable Boo-Boo inked a third Blue Eyes White Dragon swooping down the right side of Yami’s back, completing the full set of four between the two lovers. Yami was thrilled with it; the space between the two older tattoos had always felt awkwardly empty to him… But the new addition filled in the space nicely as if it had always belonged there, just like its brethren. And although Seto didn't make any comments while they were in the shop, the fact that he felt the need to push Yami into the sedan's backseat afterwards and take him right there in the parking lot spoke volumes about how much it had meant to him, too. Good thing they had very dark tinted windows...
The remainder of the day was a repeat of the previous one, whiled away gaming online. Seto even got around to making a new axe for his warrior toon, Seiryuu. Then it was time for dinner, a relatively simple and quiet affair, followed by a little TV during which Seto massaged Yami’s feet and calves to take his mind off the slight sting in his back. They went to bed at their usual time, made love, and drifted off to sleep in each other’s arms, completely unaware of just how not fine Seto was…
* * *
Early Monday morning, Yami found himself rolling over and reaching over Seto’s body to irritably switch off the alarm clock on his boyfriend’s side of the bed. It was unusual for the alarm to wake him; Seto often woke himself up before it was set to go off, and on the rare occasions that he did need it to wake him, he switched it off so quickly that Yami never even noticed it.
Still sleepy, Yami barely registered that Seto was still in bed, even after the brunette grunted from Yami’s weight pressing down on him. Yami’s mind suggested that perhaps it was Sunday and that Seto had simply forgotten to switch off the alarm, which was why he was still in bed. It seemed plausible enough, so the crimson-eyed man curled back up against his boyfriend, intending to go back to sleep for at least a little longer, but something seemed… off.
The only response he got was a groan.
Letting out a frustrated hiss, Yami rolled over onto his side and struggled to push himself up. It was still dark, with just a faint hint of early morning sunlight filtering through the windows. He could barely make out the outline of Seto’s body lying tangled in the sheets beside him, as if he had tried to throw them off in the middle of the night. That was a little strange… was he that hot? The air conditioning was still on, and yet Yami felt a strange, unusual warmth drifting through his mind, clouding it. And now that he had a moment to consider it, he realized that Seto’s body seemed to be radiating a little more heat than usual…
Yami reached out a hand to touch Seto’s cheek, then as if to reconfirm his initial findings, shifted his hand to his lover’s forehead before pulling it back in dismay. Seto definitely had a fever.
Immediately the former Pharaoh began fumbling for the lights, blinking hard as the sudden brightness obliterated the shadows. Feeling Seto sluggishly stir beside him in response, he turned to find his lover awake and squinting at him in irritation, his pupils still dilated enough to swallow up the blue of his irises.
"Yami," Seto whispered, his voice hoarse. "What are you doing?"
"How do you feel?"
Seto shrugged a shoulder. "I’m okay," he said unconvincingly. "Is it time to get up?"
With some effort, Seto rolled over to look at the clock. "Yes it is," he mumbled, and went to sit up.
Yami instantly put his hand on the taller man’s chest and pushed him back down. Seto glared at him. "Kai-baby, no. You’ve been coughing and now you have a fever."
He sighed, wondering what Mokuba would say to convince Seto to take the day off… maybe even go see a doctor. "So you’re getting sick."
Seto put a hand on his own forehead and closed his eyes. Then a few seconds later, he fixed his gaze on Yami again. "It’s really not that bad. I’ve gone to work with worse."
"Baby, please. There’s no reason to push yourself so hard now that..."
"You think I’d have ever gotten anywhere if I didn’t push myself? You think Kaiba Corp. could just run itself?" he snarled, offended. It was early morning, he didn’t feel great… the last thing he wanted to hear was Yami doubting his ability to function. He slapped away his boyfriend’s hand and sat up, forcing himself to ignore the throbbing between his eyes.
Yami sighed again. Seto was always at his most difficult in the morning. But more than that, it was the same old stupid argument they always had – Seto had a hard time understanding that a show of concern wasn’t an implication of weakness, even after two years with Yami. "That’s not what I meant. And you know that."
"Hn." Seto swung his legs off the bed, taking a moment to gather his strength so that he wouldn’t fall over when he tried to stand. His muscles were already beginning to feel a bit watery. He had a cold or maybe even a flu, though it was odd to think of catching something like that in the middle of summer.
Then, sensing that Yami was about to resume prattling at him, the young billionaire stopped him with a wave of his hand. "You’re not going to talk me out of this, Yami. I have several extremely important meetings today. You wouldn’t believe all the shit that goes on whenever I’m away. Third quarter financials are all fucked up and I wasn’t able to spend as much time going over them on Saturday as I would’ve liked."
Finding himself growing irritated thanks to both Seto’s disregard for his own health as well as his foul temper, Yami sucked down a breath, holding it until he felt his anger subside a bit. "Short of knocking you unconscious, you’re right, I can’t stop you. But for Ra’s sake, at least take some cough drops and cold medicine with you. No one will want to stay for a meeting if you’re coughing on them."
Seto took a moment to absorb the request, then nodded. After all, he certainly didn’t want to get sick. "I will." He got up slowly, taking a moment to steady himself, then turned to face Yami, who still looked a touch miffed. Seto leaned in to apologize with a kiss but thought better of it. He didn’t want Yami to get sick either. He frowned slightly, then added, "I promise, I’ll take some medicine today. I just forgot to yesterday. So don’t worry. Go back to sleep, okay?"
Knowing that it would be futile at the moment, Yami didn’t say another word. But he did stay up to watch Seto get dressed, noting any signs of fatigue and cataloging every cough. He planned on starting in on Seto again later that evening; maybe get Mokuba involved or something if need be. Yami didn’t mind giving up the battle as long as there was still a war to be won… he just hoped that the virus wouldn’t beat him to it.
* * *
By mid afternoon, Yami was feeling positively lousy… tired, sore, unfocused. Assuming that it had something to do with Seto being sick, he mind linked his boyfriend to check in on how he was doing, but Seto waved off his concern. He was just busy and had a bit of a headache... nothing that he couldn’t handle.
Yami knew Seto was lying – he had a fever on top of his headache, and generally felt like crap. That made him mad enough that he was tempted to have Mokuba call and try his luck next. But Yami knew well enough that unless they were willing to drive down to the office and drag Seto home kicking and screaming, there wasn’t anything either one of them could say that would change his mind… Seto was just too damn stubborn. He’d rather keep going until he ran out of steam than admit that he was only human.
Unable to function, Yami decided to take a nap on the sofa, just to refresh himself. He hadn’t planned on sleeping for long. But hours later, he awoke to find the evening sky already darkening and Mokuba peering down at him, concern and anger warring on his face.
"He’s upstairs, asleep," the black-haired teen announced, his tone making it quite clear which "he" he was referring to. "You didn’t tell me he looked so bad."
Yami took a second to mentally cast for Seto’s slumbering presence, then sat up, rubbing at his eyes. "Well, he didn’t seem that bad this morning," he offered, leaving out mention of his brief afternoon conversation with Seto for the moment, though now he wished that he’d had the foresight to sic Mokuba on Seto that morning.
Mokuba shrugged slightly. "Fubeta drove him home," he said, impressing upon Yami just how bad his brother’s condition was.
The crimson-eyed man bowed his head slightly. Even though there was no point in agonizing over it, he couldn’t help but feel like he had failed to look after Seto, who unfortunately never did a good job of taking care of himself.
Mokuba watched Yami carefully for a minute, then sat down on the sofa and leaned against Yami’s shoulder. He hadn’t meant to make the ex-spirit feel bad. He knew full well how difficult it was to reason with Seto. But the moment he saw Seto stumble through the front door, pale and feverish and out of breath, all he could think about was why hadn’t Yami stopped him? How could he have let Seto go if he was that ill? But with Yami asleep and Seto looking like he needed to lie down, he chose to hold his tongue and instead silently shadowed his brother as he headed up the stairs, making sure that the elder Kaiba was heading to bed and not his office.
That was over an hour ago. During that time, Noa had wandered in to keep Mokuba company as he kept watch over Seto, but when it became clear that the brunette wasn’t going to be waking anytime soon, Mokuba headed down to wake Yami while Noa took inventory of their stock of cold medicines and placed an order for Chinese delivery for dinner, since it didn’t look like Yami would be in a cooking mood.
"I knew something was wrong when I couldn’t stay awake this afternoon," Yami finally admitted. "I should’ve gone down there… made him come home."
"Well, at least he’s home now. And we’ll help you keep an eye on him," Mokuba said quietly, hoping it would make up for what he had said earlier.
Yami accepted Mokuba’s implied apology with a slight smile, then rose to his feet, intending to go up to check on his boyfriend. The teenager joined him, walking by his side as they strode up the stairs. They trod lightly as they approached the room, not wanting to accidentally wake Seto if he were asleep, but once they entered the bedroom, it became clear that there was no danger of that happening.
Seto was lying motionless on the mattress, curled up on his side around one of Yami’s pillows with his head practically buried beneath the other. The sheets were all messed up as if he hadn’t been able to decide if he was hot or cold, and had ended up pushing them down to the foot of the bed.
"Did you manage to get him to take some medicine?" Yami asked softly as he sat down on the edge of the mattress, stretching his fingers under the pillow to try and get a feel for the severity of Seto’s fever. His cheek didn’t seem to be any hotter than it’d been that morning at least, though his skin was clammy and whiter than usual.
"Yeah, I poured him some Nyquil. Probably why he’s still asleep."
The former Pharaoh nodded, then sighed softly. He stood up and reached over to tug the blankets up over his boyfriend’s prone body, smoothing them down carefully, then motioned to Mokuba to follow him out of the room. "I know he’ll hate me for this, but I think we should have a doctor come out and take a look at him. Even if it’s just a cold. Even if it just shaves a day off his recovery time."
Mokuba thought about arguing against it, knowing his brother’s extreme dislike of doctors, but Yami did bring up a good point… Seto definitely hated being sick and stuck in bed even more. "Yeah, guess so..."
"I know he usually gets better pretty quickly on his own, but this time…" Yami’s voice trailed off, and he looked behind him as if he expected Seto to come leaping out into the hallway to protest. "Despite what he thinks, he isn’t back to 100%. The Grand Prix and theme park opening took a lot out of him. I keep thinking about him passing out and I’m afraid it’ll happen again if he keeps going like this."
"It worries me too," Mokuba admitted as they arrived at his and Noa’s bedroom. The green-haired teen looked up as they walked in, several different medicine bottles and blister packs of pills sitting in front of him, but didn’t interrupt as Mokuba continued with, "Honestly, I wish he’d pass some of his work on to us. We could handle it. I mean, I am Kaiba Corp.’s Vice President after all…"
"Have you suggested it to him?" Yami asked even as he smiled inwardly at the youngest Kaiba’s confidence. But Mokuba was right. Despite his age, he was capable of overseeing most aspects of his brother’s company. Anyone who disagreed with that had obviously never seen him at work.
Mokuba wandered over to his desk and picked up his cellphone, searching through the entries on it briefly before answering Yami. "He said he’d discuss it with me once he was done straightening up the third quarter financial reports. But I bet I could help with that too."
"Well, he might not have a choice now if it he gets worse," Noa pointed out, finally joining in on the conversation.
"Don’t say that!" Mokuba exclaimed vehemently. "He’ll be okay. We just need someone to come and take a look at him."
Noa put his hands up placatingly. He hadn’t meant to upset his boyfriend, but it was unlikely that even a doctor would be able to prescribe an insta-cure for whatever was ailing Seto. "Even if it turns out to be just a mild cold, he won’t get better unless he takes it easy for a while."
"Well, duh. Don’t you think I know that?" Mokuba snapped.
Yami shook his head slightly. They were wasting their time arguing. As the adult, he figured he ought to take control of the situation, though he rarely felt the need to exercise that sort of authority since the brothers didn’t seem to need it. "Well, let’s do this: one of you call up a doctor, I’ll get started on dinner, and…"
Mokuba gestured at his phone. "Already calling the doctor even as we speak."
"And I already called out for dinner while you were napping," Noa interrupted. "Hope Chinese sounds good to you."
"You should go keep an eye on Seto, make sure he hasn’t kicked off his blankets again or something," Mokuba suggested to Yami right before turning his attention back to his phone. "Hello, Dr. Shioya…"
Yami managed a lopsided grin, then shrugged to himself and began to back out of the room. Well… darn it all… they were on top of things after all. But what else did he expect, knowing how the two teens were?
With nothing else to do until the doctor’s arrival, Yami headed back to his and Seto’s bedroom and crawled under the covers to lie beside his boyfriend. He didn't know much about illness and medicine – but he at least knew what he could do to make Seto feel a bit better. Reaching down within himself to find his energy reserves, he expanded his link with Seto and tapped into it. Almost immediately, the brunette rolled towards Yami and threw an arm over him, putting a slight smile on the ex-spirit’s face. At least his efforts seemed to be appreciated.
But even as Yami began drifting off into a light doze, he was still concerned… he didn’t know how much he could do for Seto if it turned out he was really sick, or how long he could maintain the energy feed for, given the duration of many illnesses. And he knew Seto would be mad about it when he finally woke, because just as Yami fretted over his lover’s well-being, Seto worried about his in turn.
With a tired sigh, Yami looked down at Seto’s sleeping face as the taller man lay curled up against him. His skin was slightly flushed with fever, but he didn’t look to be in pain. And at least he was resting now…
Wrapping his arms around Seto, Yami rested his chin on the top of Seto’s head and closed his eyes, surrendering to the urge to sleep. Was it worth possibly compromising his own health to try and shore up Seto’s? For the moment at least, the answer was yes.
* * *
August 29, 2007