Title: Sixteen (Going on Seventeen)
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: 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 gets an unexpected reception from the newest members of the household.
Status: 3/?
Archived at: http://www.phenixsol.com/Miko/FF/

Setup for this particular fic:

* * *

The (B)Rat Pack

Sixteen (Going on Seventeen) Series

* * *

"Seems they don’t want to come out right now," Noa announced, shrugging as he withdrew his hand from the cage.

"I guess I can’t blame them for being a bit shy. This is a pretty big change for them," Mokuba said, his voice softer than usual to keep from frightening the little critters any further.

They both straightened up, brushing off bits of bedding from their hands and knees. It was amazing how much of the stuff ended up outside the spacious cage in the corner of what would soon be Noa’s bedroom. But for the time being, the room’s only occupants were four male rats: two pink-eyed whites, Blinky and Pinky, a blue named Inky, and Clyde, a fawn.

Mokuba and Noa hadn’t planned on getting pet rats. Certainly they wouldn’t have gone to a store looking to acquire some. But like many of their classmates, they had enjoyed having a variety of "mascots" in their science classes, and when they found out that any unclaimed offspring of the science department’s rats were destined to become snake food, they and several other students were quick to lay claim to the last pups of the year.

At first, they hadn’t considered that it’d be a problem. After all, the rats were small and quiet… it wasn’t like they were bringing home a herd of elephants. But when they’d gotten back to the mansion – rat cage and all – the reception had been less than enthusiastic.

More precisely, Seto’s opening comment had been, "Snakes have to eat too you know," while Yami had piped in with, "Didn’t you guys once tell me you were afraid of rats?"

"We never said that," Noa had scoffed.

"Oh yes you did… you told me your room was infested with giant rats," Yami had replied.

Maybe they had said something like that before, but that had been an excuse to help Yami out through a really rocky time in his relationship with Seto, so surely he couldn’t be mad about that, right? "That… well, we didn’t mean that. We’re not afraid of rats!" Mokuba had quickly responded.

"You won’t even know they’re here! And we’ll take care of feeding them and cleaning after them and everything," Noa had added.

Yami had given them a smile. He’d just been kidding around. He hadn’t any objections himself. Pets were pets. That said, it hadn’t ultimately been his decision to make. "Well, Seto?"

The elder Kaiba had sighed when his brothers turned their attention back to him. "Why would you want to keep beady eyed, useless vermin anyhow?"

"They’re not!" Noa had protested. "Well, I mean, they’re beady eyed… and maybe they don’t do much. But do they have to do something?"

"Besides, if we didn’t take them, who would?" Mokuba had quickly chimed in, ignoring the fact that maybe another student would’ve spoken up if they hadn’t. "All their littermates got claimed, but these guys… Just ‘cause the school can’t keep them through the summer doesn’t mean they deserve to be fed to snakes!"

Seto had rolled his eyes even as he’d cursed himself for being a sucker for sob stories about unwanted rat brothers in need of a home.

But in the end, that had been all the argument Mokuba had needed. After that, Seto had given them the go ahead with the expected warnings, like, "Remember to clean the cage… I better not smell anything!" and "Don’t let them wander around the house… If I see one running loose, it’s dead meat!"

"Thanks Nii-sama!" they had chorused before happily running off to get their new pets situated.

So far things had gone well. The last several days had passed without incident. Seto pretty much had forgotten the rats were even there. Of course, part of that was because the rats were still a bit hesitant to come out. But that didn’t mean the teens had given up on trying to get their pets to interact with them. Even rats weren’t immune to lure of Yami’s cooking.

Noa walked over to his dresser and picked up the little dish sitting on top, then returned to the cage. They’d saved some carrots and chicken from dinner that evening, which had been a creamy chicken and vegetable stew. "They should like this, I think." Indeed, twitching noses were beginning to emerge from beneath the blanket. "Just like magic, huh?"

Mokuba smiled as one by one, rats appeared. Noa opened the cage door and held the dish out to see if there were any takers. One of the white rats – they still had problems telling Blinky and Pinky apart – hopped up on the edge of the doorway and leaned out to examine the tidbits.

"Try and see if he’ll take it from your hand," Mokuba suggested, and Noa did just that. The lone brave rat snatched the proffered bit of carrot, spun around, and triumphantly trotted away to eat in the corner of the cage while his three siblings watched, then they too decided it was safe enough to grab some grub. They still weren’t eager to come out, but did stick their heads out just far enough to attack the delicacies on the plate in a greedy feeding frenzy.

"Cool, Blinky’s getting bolder at least." Or was that Pinky? Noa shrugged to himself and pulled out the already empty dish, sending rats scattering in all directions.

"You can tell them apart?" Mokuba asked. Other than a minor difference in size, and the shading of their eyes, they really did look like mirror images.

"Not really, but I… Oh shit!" Noa yelped as a white rat suddenly made a break for it. He tried closing his hand around it but the little guy was quicker, hopping over the obstacle and bolting for the nearest wall. "Moku…"

"It’s okay, it’s okay," Mokuba said, his voice softening as he approached the wary creature. The rat hunkered down and squeaked at him. Mokuba made a slight motion with his hand indicating Noa should approach from behind to block that route of escape, but otherwise kept his movements slow and spare. "Try and grab him," he mouthed at his boyfriend as they closed in.

In seconds the rat was scooped up and lifted into the air, accompanied by twin sighs of relief.

"You know, this is for you own good," the black haired teen admonished the critter while Noa pat it on the head with a fingertip before returning it to the cage. "Because believe me, if Nii-sama ever saw you… well, it’d probably be the last moments of your life."

"Maybe the last moments of our lives too," Noa joked.

Mokuba rolled his eyes, but he too was relieved they’d thwarted the escape attempt…

* * *

Or at least, that’s what they’d thought. Because while the pair had been distracted by Blinky, aka white rat number one, his lookalike Pinky had seen the light of freedom and made his own mad dash for it. In all the commotion he had slipped out unnoticed and, seeing the strange, wide expanse of world before him, begun exploring, his wanderings taking him further and further away from the cage.

Along the wall he went, through a human sized door, and then, with hesitant little footfalls, he was out into the hallway. Curious and yet confused, he began running, instinct taking over, hugging the walls as he darted forth in quick bursts, only pausing to sniff the air, to listen for the sound of danger.

Hearing nothing, Pinky continued forth, going wherever the wall would take him.

* * *

It’s hard to place blame on the teens for the escape when rats are designed for maximum escape efficiency with their wedge shaped heads, scurrying feet, and flexible bodies. Knowing that, the experienced rat owner knows to do a headcount before walking away from a cage. But Mokuba and Noa were new to the whole rodent business and so they didn’t notice until three or four hours later that their quartet of caged rats had become a trio.

"Oh shiiit…" Noa gasped when he realized that only one white rat was staring back at him from the cage. He even stuck his hand in to make sure the other onewasn’t just hiding somewhere, but there were only three rats, no matter how many times he counted.

Noa’s mind raced to process what had happened. The last time they’d checked, there had been four rats, and… Shit, did it get out then? But that was hours ago! He looked about the room, hoping against hope that the rat had just hung around, awaiting recapture, but Pinky was long gone. Noa quickly put in the nightly food bowl, shut the cage door and ran back to his current bedroom. "Mokuba!!"

"What?" the black-haired teen yelled back from the bathroom.

"We’re missing a rat!" Noa hissed in a low voice. He was almost afraid to say it too loud, lest Seto could hear through walls.

Mokuba stuck his head into the room, towel in hand. His hair was still wet from the shower. "Oh – you couldn’t catch it? Damn, they’re quick! We better…"

"No, I mean, it’s gone gone. It must’ve escaped when we were trying to catch the other one earlier."

Mokuba stared at his boyfriend a long moment, then he softly mumbled, "Oh crap... We’re so dead if we don’t find it!"

"No duh. Now if I were a rat, where would I…" Noa shook his head. He could imagine a hundred and one places a rat would want to hide, and then some. He took another look at Mokuba, and sighed. "Get dressed and come help me."

* * *

Down in the bedroom at the end of the hallway, Seto and Yami had already finished getting ready for bed, but sleeping was the last thing on their minds. Oh, they were in bed, certainly, but at the moment it was all about entertainment, not rest. More precisely, Yami had bound his taller lover to the headboard by his wrists, and was now working to tie one leg up to the bedpost as well.

Seto tried his best to hold still, but it wasn’t in his nature to submit so easily, not even to Yami. Still, he thought he was doing pretty well, especially considering how aroused he already was. He shut his eyes momentarily so that he couldn’t see the grin on Yami’s face, the glint in his eyes, then when even that was too tempting, he turned his head to the side, hoping the sight of nothing but a bland wall would reduce the throbbing in his groin. It might’ve, but Yami’s deep chuckle was enough to make his dick jump. He grit his teeth a little and shut his eyes again. Damn…

Then, he got the strangest feeling he was being watched by someone, or something, other than Yami. Maybe it was just paranoia, but then again…

The brunette opened one eye and was greeted by a pair of red… reddish-pink ones in return. Tiny, beady, not-quite-crimson eyes, set above twitching whiskers. What the fu…?

There was no way. There was no way there was a rat sitting on his bed. A rat, watching Yami tie him up...

Seto squeezed his eyes shut, hard. I’m crazy. I’m hallucinating. When I open them, there better be nothing there, or something’s going to die. Reluctantly, he opened them again, both of them, and… was relieved to see there was nothing there. Nothing at all. He sighed.

"Hmm?" Yami leaned down to purr into his ear.

"You must be cutting off my circulation," the young CEO muttered.

Yami quickly checked the ropes in concern. They were snug, but didn’t seem overly taut. "Are they too tight?" he asked, all humor gone.

"No. I don’t know. Maybe I’ve been working too much."

Yami frowned a little. Seto wasn’t making much sense. "Are you sure you’re okay? I can stop."

Seto sighed again. "No, don’t. Just… I guess I’m tired. I’m seeing things. Rats, specifically."

"Rats?" Yami glanced around, wondering if possibly… Nah, no way. How would it have even gotten in here? He leaned forward and kissed his boyfriend tenderly. "Well good thing you can just sit back and relax while I do all the work," he half joked. But he meant what he said. If Seto really was stressed about something, or even just tired, then he figured a little… enjoyable activity could only help him unwind.

Seto responded with what Yami identified as an agreeable grunt.

It was easy enough to forget about rats, to forget about all the little annoying things that had gone wrong that day, once Yami resumed teasing him, restraining him. His hands were like magic in that regard; they had to power to soothe, to titillate, to distract. Following Yami’s advice Seto just relaxed, letting his body respond how it wanted, letting Yami do whatever he wanted.

He’d forgotten all about his hallucination until he felt something barely brush by his arm. At first he dismissed it as Yami just playing with a tickler or something, but then he realized Yami wasn’t anywhere even close to his arm. Brow furrowed, he looked over, but there was nothing there. And Yami was leaning over the side of the bed, picking something out of the underbed drawers.

Great, I really am crazy, he thought, moments before that same soft something slid by his ribcage. "Uh…?"

The only warning he got for what happened next was the momentary annoyance of teeny tiny claws on his skin, and then…

"OW! FUUUCK!!!…" Seto screamed as the wayward rat bit him squarely on the nipple. He reflexively tried to grab the rat, murder on his mind, but it must’ve been Pinky’s lucky day – the source of his potential demise was still tied down.

Yami immediately jerked his head up, even as he felt a phantom pain twinge on his own chest. "What!? Wh…"

"RAT!" Seto yelled, helplessly kicking his one unrestrained leg in the air even as Yami yelped, "Rat?!!"

"Grab it! Get rid of it! KILL IT!" Seto ordered, twisting around frantically. His nipple was stinging. Fucking thing better not have rabies!!

Yami began trying to grab the rat now that he too had spotted it, but it turned out to be a lot trickier than anticipated. The panicked rat was scrambling around on the bed, wanting nothing but escape from the loud, flailing humans, but everywhere it looked, there were hands and limbs blocking its way. Yami finally managed to cup his hands around it, but somehow the rat squirted out between his fingers.

Damn it! It shouldn’t have gotten away, but he’d been afraid to squeeze too tightly lest he accidentally injure or kill the thing. After all, despite Seto’s threats, this was still Mokuba and Noa’s pet…

"MOKUBA!! NOA!!" Seto howled at the top of his lungs.

Yami let loose a low growl. There was no way he was going to catch it any time soon without some help. His yells joined Seto’s. The two of them were loud enough to be clearly heard all the way down the hallway, to where Noa and Mokuba had been searching. The teens threw each other wary glances, then sprinted for their guardians’ bedroom suite.

They didn’t even have the chance to comment on the fact that Seto was tied down on the bed, naked. He was still hollering their names, in conjunction with words like "Kill!" and "Vermin!"

Yami climbed off the bed, captured rat now in hand. By some minor miracle he’d managed to grab the thing by its tail moments before the teens burst into the room. Not having a clue how to handle it and having no time to get covered up either, he quickly dumped the struggling rodent into Noa’s hands. "Here," he said, sounding surprisingly calm, although his face was red from a combination of anger, embarrassment and frustration.

"Um… Thanks for not killing him?" Mokuba mumbled, staring at the floor as Noa clutched Pinky tightly. The rat squeaked. "I swear to God, it won’t happen again."

"Yeah," Yami said flatly as he began shooing them out of the room. Seto’s blood pressure had to be at an all-time high. The ex-spirit knew he was going to have his work cut out for him this evening.

Mokuba and Noa could still hear Seto yelling as they left the master suite, the door slamming shut behind them. But Mokuba couldn’t blame the older couple for being mad. As far as he could figure out from all of Seto’s ranting, Pinky had not only climbed onto the bed, but had bitten him too! Frankly, he was amazed that Pinky had survived the encounter… but maybe Mind Crushing didn’t work on little rat brains?

"Maybe Nii-sama will kill us instead," Noa finally said when they got back to his soon-to-be-bedroom and returned the rat to his cage. Relieved little Pinky was greeted by his siblings as he stopped by the food dish for a piece of pasta before hopping back onto his beloved hammock. The green-haired teen double-checked that all the rats were accounted for before slowly closing the cage door once again.

"Maybe," Mokuba sullenly replied. He almost felt like he’d let Seto down by letting Pinky escape.

Seeing the look on his boyfriend’s face, Noa quickly gave him a sideways hug. "Oh, I didn’t mean it like that. He’ll get over it. He’ll probably forget about it by the time that uh, Yami’s done…" he added.

"I just don’t want him to think we’re irresponsible!"

"We’re not! We’ll just… have to be a little more careful in the future. Make sure the rats stay where they’re supposed to." Then Noa suddenly laughed. "You realize Seto would think this was funny if the rat had bitten someone else, since he seems to have a thing for animals that bite."

"Not funny…"

"… But it’s true!"

Visions of Kuriboh chasing down unsuspecting deliverymen danced through Mokuba’ mind. He shrugged. Maybe it was true, but he wasn’t going to admit to it.

"And to think, we were complaining that they were too shy earlier," Noa scoffed. "It’s like Pinky had to prove us wrong."

"Pinky? Wasn’t that Blinky?" Mokuba asked.

"Was it?"

"Iono."

Both teens looked back over at the cage, at the rats inside. Maybe they still couldn’t identify the escapee with one hundred percent certainty. Maybe they’d never know for sure. But the important thing was… they sure were glad to see two white rats in there, not just one. And considering how happy the rats seemed to be, all piled atop one another, eating, they were sure it was glad to be home too.

* * *

Author’s Notes:

February 4, 2010