Title: The Cost of Doing Business
Author: bnomiko
Rating: PG-13
Pairing(s): Yami + Seto, Noa + Mokuba, Jou + Mai, Yugi + Anzu, Malik + Ryou, Rafael + Valon + Amelda
Spoilers: none
Warnings: swearing
Disclaimer: Hungry Hungry Hippos, Mr. Mouth, and Hi Ho! Cherry-O are products of Hasbro, Inc. 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: All work and no play makes for some very hungry hippos indeed.
Status: 13 / 15
Archived at: http://www.phenixsol.com/Miko/FF/

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The Cost of Doing Business


* * *

"Uh... what in the world are you two doing?" Mokuba asked as he cautiously stepped into his brother's room. He had heard Yami screaming from all the way outside the door, but they hadn't sounded like sex screams, and Seto was still on enforced bed rest, so he had figured it was okay to just walk in...

But now, he was wondering if he had made a bad decision.

Yami and Seto were curled up under the sheets in the middle of the bed, looking like a pair of curious turtles poking their heads out. Between them, there was some sort of colorful plastic game board.

Mokuba nearly tripped over the accompanying game box, which had been left on the floor. He picked it up, his eyes growing wide in surprise. "Hungry Hungry Hippos? Um, isn't this a kid's game?"

Yami just grinned sheepishly. "I guess."

"Is it... fun?" The teen felt stupid for asking, but he couldn't quite wrap his mind around it. The box says ages three to six...

"Yes, but it's kinda stupid fun."

"Best thing about it is that I can kick Yami's butt," Seto boasted, as if that were his greatest accomplishment ever.

Mokuba didn't want to dull his brother's enthusiasm - he was all in favor of anything that took Seto's mind off his lingering illness - but still... "Yeah... oooookay..." Dang, now I forgot why I came in to... oh yeah. "Nii-sama, if I could pry you away from your hippo domination for a moment, could you take a look at the press release I've been working on? There's a few sections that seem... iffy. Assuming you feel up to it, I mean."

"Why wouldn't I be up to it?" Seto asked, the sheets sliding down around his waist as he sat up to accept the papers being handed to him. He was shirtless. Mokuba didn't bother to ask if he was pantsless as well. He'd rather assume that that was not the case as he went and sat down on the bed.

While Seto scrounged up a pen and eagerly began marking changes on the documents he'd been given, Yami began setting up for another round of hippo play. Not that it took very long to move a score of marbles out of the little pits and into the more shallow indentations ringing the center of the board; he was done within seconds. Then he pulled his hands back under the covers, intending on passing time rubbing Seto's thighs and lower back. He figured that that was a safe enough activity. Mokuba probably wouldn't appreciate it if he were to let his hands wander all over the brunette's crotch, for example.

But for once, Mokuba wouldn't have noticed what Yami was doing, one way or another. The teen couldn't help but stare, entranced - or maybe bewitched - by the shiny, cheap plastic toy. Games like that probably existed in the childhood memories of most kids, but although he and Seto had played a lot of games in their time, he didn't remember ever having something so... childish. He just had to touch it...

He patted the green hippo that was closest to his brother. Yup, there it was... a piece of molded plastic with an eternally frozen, cute, perky expression. He lifted up the head and looked down its "gullet." Yup, technologically advanced as a set of dominoes. He prodded the marble release lever closest to him, letting a few of the white orbs free to roll around the central ring. Yup, mentally stimulating indeed... for three-year-olds.

"Mokuba..." Seto peered over the documents to give his brother a warning look.

Mokuba volleyed with an innocent expression. "Hmm?" It was so tempting, that little black lever jutting out of the hippo's back... He began pressing down on it very lightly.

"My hippo. Don't touch it."

"What hippo? I'm not touching anything." Poke. The hippo's mouth flew open and engulfed a wayward marble. Chomp. Hehe.

"THAT hippo. Stop that," Seto grumbled.

"You know, I just finished setting up for another game," Yami sighed theatrically, as if he couldn't spare the three seconds it'd take to reset the board.

Mokuba rolled his eyes, then jabbed the lever several more times. Poke poke poke. More marbles vanished into the hippo's cavernous maw. Hmm, this IS kinda stupid fun... I wonder why I never tried anything like this before?

"Stop molesting my hippo!" Seto hissed.

Yami snickered and stuck his hand out to grab the green hippo by the head, pulling lightly on it to extend its neck before allowing it to withdraw into the bulk of its body. "Can I molest your hippo, Baby?" Yami purred, while Mokuba made a gagging sound. How did everything always end up being about sex?

At least the game isn't called Waggling Willy Wangdoodle, the black-haired teen thought to himself. He was glad he didn't say it out loud. Seto might've taken the suggestion and run with it, putting it into production or something.

"Will both of you leave my hippo alone?!" Seto hoarsely yelled. "Jesus Christ..."

Mokuba shook his head slowly in disbelief, though he couldn't hide the amusement in his voice as he told the duo, "I love you both, but you guys scare me sometimes."

"You haven't seen scary yet," Yami said with an answering grin, and when Mokuba gave him a questioning look, the crimson-eyed man gestured towards the floor behind his side of the bed. Mokuba was almost afraid to look, but curiosity won out in the end...

There was a crapload of game boxes on the floor, more than any child would've received for their birthday or Christmas morning. Yami had gotten everything from Mr. Mouth to Hi Ho! Cherry-O to some sort of battery powered fishing game. He must've cleared out a whole section of a toy store... a kid's toy store. Not the adult ones he probably would've normally preferred.

It was... unexpected. A refreshingly innocent approach. Was that how Yami had managed to keep Seto's mind off of being sick and missing work? Gaming was what Seto and Yami loved, whether it was Duel Monsters or video games or more "mature" board games. That was about competition; that was about winning and losing. But this wasn't the same, despite what Seto may have boasted about earlier; this was simply about playing and having fun, complete with plastic hippos and fruit and fish.

Seto must've noticed Mokuba's increasing interest. "Go get Noa and we can all play something together," he suddenly suggested, as if Mokuba were five instead of fifteen.

It sounded strangely tempting, but his obligations to Kaiba Corp. demanded he decline. "But... I've got stuff I have to..."

"Take a break. Kaiba Corp. will still be there in 15 or 30 minutes," Yami was saying, but Seto suddenly interrupted him.

"No. I understand. We won't keep you," he said stiffly. He straightened himself up and handed the article he'd been editing back to Mokuba. "I made a few minor changes, but overall, it's very good."

Normally Mokuba would have been thrilled by the compliment, but it didn't sound right this time. He looked at his brother. Seto had his business face on. He seemed to have lost all the joy that had been present moments ago, when he had asked if he'd like to play.

Mokuba stared at the papers in his hands, then put them aside on the nightstand. He looked back at the now neglected game still sitting on the bed. It'd be irresponsible of him with the workload he had taken on, and the looming deadlines, but... "Nii-sama, would you like me to play with you guys?" he slowly asked.

"You're busy."

"I'm never too busy for you."

Seto hesitated a split second, then mumbled, "It's a stupid kid's game anyways."

"Maybe... but I've never tried it before." Mokuba touched the lever on the green hippo again. "I shouldn't dismiss it without even giving it a shot..."

"True," the young CEO agreed, relaxing a tiny bit. He slowly let out the breath he'd been holding in. "Well if that's the case, I'll let you have the green hippo, since you seem to like it," he furtively offered, like some salesman wheedling to close a deal. "It's the best one, I think."

Mokuba couldn't help but laugh. "It's okay Nii-sama, you can keep the green one. As long as I don't get stuck with the pink one." Even he had limits to how much "cute" he could stomach.

A slight smirk touched Seto's lips. "Deal."

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Author's Notes:

September 2, 2008