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: Gatorade is a product of The Quaker Oats Company. 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: Seto’s not happy. Where did Mokuba hide his computer?
Status: 2 / ?
Archived at: http://www.phenixsol.com/Miko/FF/

* * *

The Cost of Doing Business

Ch. 2: Deep Down Exposure

* * *

It was pretty late in the evening by the time the elderly doctor arrived at the mansion. Noa ushered him into the kitchen where a groggy Seto sat halfheartedly picking at reheated fried rice under Yami and Mokuba’s watchful gazes. Seto wasn’t happy to find out that a doctor had been called but was too tired to put up a fight over it, so without a word he accompanied the doctor to the closest guest room to undergo a medical examination.

The exam was fairly brief. Given Seto’s symptoms, Dr. Shioya’s diagnosis was pneumonia, most likely caused by an influenza virus, though to be sure, he took a sputum culture for lab testing since the young CEO refused to go to his clinic for a chest x-ray or anything else. The doctor’s prescribed treatment was similar to that for a flu: lots of fluids and bed rest – which elicited a frustrated groan from Seto – and an antiviral medication, oseltamivir, that would have to picked up from a pharmacy the following day.

"I still think the doctor’s wrong. It’s just a cold," Seto insisted as Yami ushered him up the stairs to put him to bed. It was only 10:34 PM, way too early for bed in Seto’s opinion. Besides, he had slept away most of the evening already… and he needed to get some more work done. "Are you listening to me?!"

"Even if it is just a cold," and I don’t think it is, "it doesn’t hurt to go to bed early, Baby."

"I’m not a baby!" Seto groused, clearly feeling unwell.

Yami rolled his eyes, then patted his boyfriend on the ass to keep him moving forward, which he did, albeit reluctantly. "Well then, don’t act like one."

"I’m not!" he complained, something akin to a whine coloring his voice.

But despite Seto’s insistence that he didn’t need or want to sleep, he was pretty much out like a light once Yami had gotten him under the covers and begun rhythmically petting his hair. It probably helped that Yami had also temporarily dammed the trickle of energy flowing between them, figuring that would make Seto feel sleepier. But once he was asleep, Yami carefully reinstated the flow in hopes that it would help speed up Seto’s recovery.

With no reason to get back up and now starting to feel sleepy himself, the crimson-eyed man stayed in bed with his sleeping lover, stroking his hair every now and then, listening to the hitches in his breaths. The doctor had suggested getting a humidifier to help break up the phlegm building up in Seto's lungs; Yami put that on his to do list for the next day. He had also emphasized how important it was for Seto to stay hydrated, so getting a mini fridge for the room was probably a good idea too, in case he wanted his drinks cold, plus an electric kettle in case we wanted something hot instead. What else… the prescription of course, and a whole assortment of beverages like Gatorade and flavored water and tea since Yami had no clue what the brunette might be in the mood for. As it was, they were probably going to have to nag him to get him to drink enough to maintain his current body condition… if he didn’t, he could end up hospitalized for dehydration or something worse, depending on how badly he let himself degrade. But Yami was determined to stay on top of him so that that wouldn’t happen. And he knew the two younger Kaibas would do the same.

Seto stood the best chance of recovering quickly in the comfort of his own home, under their loving care. He just needed to give his body the opportunity it needed to fight off the infection on its own. The prescribed medication was just to help stop the virus from spreading further – assuming they had caught his illness early enough for it to work – but it couldn’t magically "heal" him. Only his own immune system could do that.

Dr. Shioya had also written a prescription for oseltamivir tablets for Yami, Noa and Mokuba, since they were going to be Seto’s caretakers. It wouldn’t do if the three started getting sick while taking care of Seto… that would just make the situation a whole lot worse. And it was too late for immunization shots, never mind that the doctor wasn’t certain of what type of virus Seto had caught. Plus that meant they’d have to warn Yugi-tachi off of hanging around the mansion… Yami didn’t want them getting sick either. So no Friday nights at their place for a while.

At least the prognosis for Seto’s recovery was good. The young billionaire was young and reasonably healthy, and his case of pneumonia didn’t seem to be too severe, though the doctor did stress that it would take a few days before the lab could confirm his diagnosis. Yami also knew to keep an eye out for any worsening or additional symptoms, which could indicate a misdiagnosis or possibly a secondary infection.

Then, on top of all that, as if Yami weren’t already getting a headache from it all… there was Kaiba Corp. to worry about. With Seto being on enforced bed rest for anywhere between a week to two months, someone was going to have to take up the company’s reins, and Yami knew that Seto didn’t believe his directors and executives were up to the task. Especially considering that the third quarter financial statements were all in "fucking chaotic disarray," to quote Seto, and there were so many projects on the table...

Fortunately though, since it was the middle of summer, Mokuba and Noa could easily fill in for Seto. Not that they had told him about that yet. He still thought he’d be able to telecommute from his bed. He was going to be pissed when he found out that Mokuba had hidden his laptop away somewhere…

Yami was suddenly jostled from his varied musings by a bump against his shoulder, as if Seto was unconsciously disapproving of the neighborhood his boyfriend’s thoughts were lingering in. Or maybe he just wanted to rest and Yami’s thinking was keeping at least part of his brain awake.

All right, all right, I get the hint, Yami mentally murmured, twisting his torso a little so that he could wrap both arms around Seto’s body, caressing him lightly while peppering his forehead with kisses. Seto pushed against him like a cat kneading its favorite human, then when he was finally satisfied with their positioning and the quieting of Yami’s mind, he grew still again, his muscles relaxing back into deep sleep.

Seto definitely had the right idea. Plenty of time to think tomorrow when they were better rested. The ex-spirit planted one last kiss on Seto’s forehead, and smiled at the tiny sound of approval he was rewarded with. Good night.

* * *

The next morning, while Yami was out with Jounouichi getting all the things he had thought up the night before, Seto sat in bed and coughed and bitched at anyone who would listen. He was feeling restless; while lying idly in bed was something that many people enjoyed, it didn’t suit him at all. Yes, he was tired and his head hurt and his lungs frickin’ ached… but he didn’t think he was that much worse, and it wasn’t like his brain had shriveled up and blown away, so he thought he ought to try and get some work done. Maybe he could make some headway on those damned financials…

Except… Mokuba had taken his laptop and hidden it away somewhere. And he refused to tell him where it was.

Well, desperate times called for desperate measures. And since Seto knew full well that it was unlikely that he’d convince Mokuba to cooperate with him, he did the next best thing: he snuck out of his bedroom and grabbed Yami’s computer from the game room and logged into Kaiba Corp.’s servers with it. Yeah, so maybe it sucked having to hide the thing under a pillow every time Mokuba or Noa poked their heads into his room. Maybe Yami would be mad that he had taken it in the first place. But it really wasn’t his fault – Mokuba had forced him into it!

Seto couldn’t help but be a bit proud of himself for having gotten away with it, though that didn’t last long. When Yami got home and burst into the room with Noa and Mokuba in his wake, he knew the jig was up. Crimson eyes flashing, the former Pharaoh marched straight over to the bed and picked up the pillow to reveal the laptop hidden underneath. Then as Mokuba began getting on Seto’s case yet again, Yami took the computer and marched right out of the room again, all without saying a word.

Seto had hoped that that would be the end of it, but he knew how Yami was – he wasn’t going to let him off the hook that easily. So he patiently sat through Mokuba’s lecture about taking it easy and getting better, watching from the corner of his eye as Yami returned with Jou trailing behind him, hauling all sorts of boxes and bags into the room. Wow, that was a lot of Gatorade. And was that a mini fridge they were starting to unpack?

After a few minutes the two men left again, this time with Noa in tow, only to come back with even more beverages, a humidifier, and a small bag from the pharmacy. Yami immediately handed the bag over to Mokuba, then turned to thank Jou for his assistance – the El Camino’s truck bed being far more useful than the trunks of any of the sportscars – before sitting down with Noa to unpack and organize all the stuff that had been brought up.

Seto sighed as Mokuba stacked the contents of the bag onto the nightstand. There were four boxes of pills and the usual requisite fact sheet, which Mokuba instantly picked up and read aloud.

"For treatment of the flu… Flu? Well, I guess the symptoms are kinda similar… Capsules should be taken twice daily for five days. For prevention of the flu… once daily for at least ten days. Capsules can be taken with or without food. It is important to begin treatment within 12 to 48 hours from the first appearance of flu symptoms. Hmm, sounds pretty straightforward," Mokuba mumbled. He skipped ahead to side effects.

"The most common side effects are nausea and vomiting. Taking capsules with food may reduce the potential of these side effects. Inform your doctor if you have concerns, blah blah… Some incidences of self-injury and delirium have been reported. You should not take oseltamivir if you’re allergic to… mmhmm, pregnant or nursing, kidney disease…"

"Screw the instruction sheet… just gimme the damn pills already," Seto snapped, coughing violently as he grabbed for a box and tore it open to dump the blister packed contents on the bed. Pretty much all medicines had the same type of standard warnings splattered all over them; all he had really needed to know was the dosage size and frequency. And this sounded like a fairly simple routine to follow… a tablet twice a day until it was all gone.

"Well, I hope it works. I mean, you don’t have the flu, but I guess the virus being targeted is the same as whatever you have," Mokuba commented, helping himself to a capsule per the instructions and watching as Seto choked his down with a mouthful of water from a bottle Yami had tossed him. Then the black-haired teen tore off two individual blisters of pills to give to Yami and Noa before joining them on the floor to help finish cleaning up.

Seto sighed and watched as the rest of his family got the mini fridge dragged into the bathroom and plugged in and the humidifier set up. With no work and no computer, there wasn’t anything for him to do. He was pretty bored… or maybe he was just tired. It was hard to tell. He was starting to feel a little lightheaded…

He decided to shut his eyes for a moment, just to rest them, but when he opened them again, everything had been put away and Yami was lying in bed, dozing against his shoulder.

"What the…?" Seto struggled to pull himself up a little, his muscles apparently having cramped from the awkward position he'd been lying in. Ugh, and that wasn’t all – he felt unreasonably hot and his chest ached terribly. Maybe it was because Yami had practically slept on top of him… But he knew that wasn’t the truth. The smaller man didn’t have much more than his head and an arm on top of Seto. And the heat the brunette felt was coming from within. But he didn’t want to consider what those things meant. It was a little easier to wonder instead about how he had managed to nod off with everyone in his room. Or had he blacked out? And for how long?

He looked over at Yami, who was beginning to stir now that he’d been jostled. He’d know. But he would also probably make a big deal out of it, saying that that was proof that Seto needed to rest, ignoring the fact that Seto had already been resting most of that morning, bored out of his skull. Seto figured that was probably what had put him to sleep – sheer boredom. And… yeah, maybe his fever and headache hadn’t helped matters either.

Yami also hadn’t said anything to Seto about his "borrowing" of the gaming computer yet. But he probably would find some way to add that into his "You need to rest, Baby" speech, even though here he was, asleep himself.

Come to think of it, why was he taking a nap? Was he getting sick too? God, Seto hoped that wasn’t the case. Or was it just a side effect of the mind link? Perhaps it was better that they minimize it for the time being. Concentrating, he visualized their link and ran light mental fingers over it, soothed by the familiar resonance even as he contemplated shutting it down to the merest trickle, but there was something unexpected there…

Seto felt a rush of concern mixed with anger when he finally realized what it was that Yami was doing. Damn him… it was so like the ex-spirit to just go and throw himself into something potentially harmful like a one way energy feed without even asking Seto if he wanted it. Without considering how Seto would feel if it ended up getting Yami sick as well.

With as much force as he could muster, the young CEO shook his lover on the shoulder until his eyes finally opened. "Wake up damn it, we need to talk about this."

Yami scowled slightly, feeling only marginally better than Seto, but after a good stretch, he went ahead and sat up, feeling the echoes of pain in his chest recede a little. "What’s wrong?" he asked, his eyes searching over Seto’s face. "You’re feeling worse, aren’t you?"

Seto made a dismissive sound that sounded like an aborted cough. "That energy transfer thing… I don’t want you doing it," he responded, completely ignoring Yami’s second question.

"Why not? It ought to help..."

Seto cut him off angrily. "Or it might end up making you sick too! And then what, Mokuba and Noa would have to take care of us both? Don’t be irresponsible, Yami."

"Irresponsible?" Yami snorted, flabbergasted. "No, irresponsible is working so hard that there isn’t time to eat, sleep or anything. Irresponsible is getting sick as a result of that, then sneaking out of bed to grab a computer in order to keep working, not taking into consideration how other people might feel seeing said irresponsible person getting sicker while still pretending like nothing was wrong. So I find it ironic that you of all people would lecture me on responsibility," Yami finished bitterly.

"What, you think I *want* to be sick? I don’t! Not only do I feel like shit, but I’m practically under house arrest, as if I have nothing better to do," Seto wheezed, his blue eyes flashing brightly against the pallor of his face.

Yami wanted to argue back, but he could hear Seto’s labored breaths punctuating the momentary silence between them. There was no way he was going to get into a full-blown shouting match with someone who was struggling for each and every breath. He closed his eyes until he felt a bit calmer, then said, "I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that… Seto, are you okay?"

"No I’m not fucking okay!" Seto tried to snarl, though it came out more like a harsh whisper. He was practically gasping for air now.

Yami shook his head, then reached out to touch Seto’s arm. The taller man pulled away, but after seeing the look on Yami’s face, he allowed his arm to drift back to the position it was in before, letting it brush against Yami’s hand. Yami looked down, his fingers automatically entwining with Seto’s, and sighed. I know. You don’t feel well, and it’s only getting worse.

No shit!

And… I know it doesn’t suit you to sit still, but you NEED to. You have to rest, Seto, or you won’t get better.

You don’t get it… NO more energy transfers. I’d rather die than risk your life like that, Seto argued back, as if they were negotiating a business deal. As if his own health were something they ought to be negotiating over.

Yami smiled grimly. He didn’t need to point out that in a way, leaving Seto to fight off the infection alone carried just as much risk to his life, for if Seto were to succumb to his illness, it was unlikely that Yami would outlive him for any length of time. Not because of something as mundane as a broken heart, but because the bond they had forged through their lifetimes had twisted around them tightly enough to ensure that their souls would remain chained, forever. And the deeper that bond grew, the greater the benefits and the worse the repercussions. Not that Yami objected; he thought it was all worth it, the good and the bad.

But there was Yugi to consider. And there was a chance that someday, Yugi too would become tangled up in their connection, despite Yami’s attempts to keep the links clear and separate. Thankfully, his other half did not seem to be in any immediate danger. But it was a risk inherent with crossing one's soul with another's, one that none of them had ever really discussed. Not that Yami though Yugi could be convinced to shut down their connection for any reason, for on some level, Yami knew that both Yugi and Seto were as aware of the risks as he was, and had accepted them as part of their lives.

As if displeased where Yami’s thoughts had taken him, or maybe just growing impatient with the lack of response, Seto mentally prodded his boyfriend. Why are we even talking about it? You know I could just shut it down if I wanted to. But then you’d just find another way to start it up again without telling me.

He was right of course, and Yami knew that he was fighting a losing battle. Besides, he didn’t want to be fighting anyway… it was unpleasant, it was unnecessary, and it was sapping away at Seto’s already dwindling energy reserves. All right. No more. Not without your permission, Yami finally agreed. No, he didn’t like it, but he could see that there was a certain logic to it… at least this way, he’d have the energy to tend to Seto’s needs, to help him rest and recover under his care. He just hoped that that would be enough.

Satisfied with their agreement, Seto nodded slowly as Yami pulled back from his mind until there was nothing left but the bare, basic link that always connected them. Then he shifted on the bed, trying to find a comfortable position to lie in, finally ending up bonelessly sprawled on his back, one arm wrapped awkwardly around the base of Yami’s hip. Nothing he did seemed to make the weight on his chest go away, so he just gave up on worrying about it. He was so damn tired… but he didn’t want to sleep either. He had slept enough.

Want me to bring you anything? Yami asked gently.

Seto gave a tired snort. My computer would be nice.

Yami chuckled. I don’t think anything’s going to get Mokuba to surrender it while you’re sick. Though perhaps I could be persuaded to bring mine back…

Seto let his head slowly roll to the side to give his lover a rather incredulous look. Seriously?

I reserve the right to take it away if you look like you’re starting to push yourself too hard, the crimson-eyed man warned him, his tone making it clear that there was no room for debate there. But, I know you’re probably bored. And maybe doing a bit of light – and I meant LIGHT – work will help calm your nerves and help you sleep better as well.

There was a soft sigh, then Seto curled up a little closer to Yami. He shut his eyes, his body shuddering involuntarily as his lungs tightened up, then, anticipating yet another fight, he reluctantly said, As much as you hate thinking about it, I still have responsibilities to my company…

You also have a responsibility to yourself, and to us, to get better. Besides, you are blessed with two very capable Vice Presidents who are ready and willing to fill in for you. Mokuba and Noa are young, yes, but I think they’re capable of taking care of any issues that may arise while you’re recovering.

Seto’s eyes flew open, and he looked back up at the ex-spirit with a slight frown. Yami’s statement was only partially true. While Mokuba was Kaiba Corp.’s VP, Noa wasn’t… well, he wasn’t anything in the company. Not that Seto hadn’t been considering it, especially in light of how well Noa had handled Siegfried von Schroider at the KC Grand Prix, but he hadn’t actually come to a decision. Had Mokuba gone over his head and promoted Noa? Noa isn’t…

Yami was quick to correct his previous statement. Ah, no. I didn’t mean it like that. But he and Mokuba… they kinda work as a team. And you can’t tell me you’ve never considered it.

I have. I just haven’t decided… I don’t even know what the problem is, I… I trust him don’t I?

Do you?

Seto shut his eyes again, taking the opportunity to think. Then his shoulders relaxed a bit. Mokuba trusts him. That’s more than enough for me.

Knowing that it wasn’t a good time to press the issue, Yami left things at that. At least Seto wasn’t flat out refusing to add his adopted brother to his company’s roster of executives. He just needed some time to mull it over, maybe consider how he himself felt about Noa instead of how Mokuba felt. Because unless the two older Kaibas came to understand and accept each other strictly for themselves, they would always harbor some seeds of doubt and distrust, and Yami didn’t want to see another situation like the one a few months ago, where Seto had tried to choke Noa. For as much as he loved Seto, he had also come to care deeply for Noa as well and didn’t want to see him hurt in any way.

So, are you going to get your laptop? Seto asked a bit hopefully, cutting into Yami’s thoughts. He opened one eye, trying to get a read on his lover’s expression.

Well, he had offered it… All right. But only if you agree to finish off the rest of that bottle of water. Yami gesticulated at the nightstand. We need to keep you hydrated.

Mm.

About as happy as he could be with their compromises, Yami headed out of the bedroom and down the hall towards the game room to fetch his gaming system. On the way back, he decided to stick his head into Noa and Mokuba’s room to see what they were up to. Surprisingly, they weren’t there.

Going on a hunch, he peeked into Seto’s upstairs office next, and found the two teens in there working diligently. Mokuba had pulled a chair up to Seto’s desk – apparently, he had felt that Seto’s chair was too big for him, figuratively speaking – and was talking on his headset to someone about scheduling an interview while trying to answer emails or something at the same time. On the other side of the room at the smaller project table, Noa was conducting a video conference of some sort, discussing glitches that he had found in one of the games. It was all rather chaotic, but… it put a smile on Yami's face, too; they were both so much like their older brother.

Not wanting to distract the pair, Yami silently shut the door behind him and returned to Seto’s bedroom. Part of him hoped that the brunette had fallen asleep while he was gone, but when he stepped into the room, Seto opened his eyes and blinked slowly at him. He looked like shit.

"Took you long enough," the taller man grumbled, coughing as he sat up with some effort.

Yami smiled thinly as he handed over his computer, then gave Seto a light kiss on the forehead, gauging his temperature. It almost felt like he was pressing his lips against an oven. He was amazed that Seto was still conscious. The brunette really ought to be sleeping… but hopefully, a little work and maybe a massage would remedy the situation.

"Remember, if I think you’re working too hard, I’m taking it back," Yami reminded his boyfriend, sitting down beside him and plumping up the pillows up so that Seto would be more comfortable. Because getting comfortable meant getting sleepy, and he was all for that.

"Hn." Seto started up the laptop, logging into the server with Yami’s info so as to hopefully fly under Mokuba’s radar. Yeah, right… who was he kidding? He expected Mokuba to come barreling into the room at any moment. But until then…

Finally logged on and with Mokuba nowhere in sight, Seto allowed himself to lean back, sinking into the plush nest Yami was assembling around him like a busy little bird, though he tried not to get too comfortable lest he fall asleep again. But Yami was starting to rub his arms and his shoulders, snuggling close to him, making him feel sooo cozy. He felt his eyelids close for a moment, and had to struggle to force them open again. Goddamn it! He had work to do, a veritable minefield of financial reports to crawl through… God, whoever filled out this particular report had no concept of basic math… and no amount of snuggling or massaging… or head scratching… or… or…

Yami smiled to himself as Seto finally slipped into a light doze, his fingers still on the keyboard. He wasn’t in the most comfortable position to be sleeping in, but at least he was resting, and Yami wasn’t going to risk moving him for fear of waking him up. So after silently shutting down the computer, he left it where it was, and although he wasn’t sleepy any longer, he too remained where he was, at Seto’s side.

* * *

TBC

Author’s Notes:

September 16, 2007