Title: Summer of '69
Pairing(s): Yami + Seto, Noa + Mokuba, Jou + Mai, Yugi + Anzu, Malik + Ryou, Rafael + Valon + Amelda
Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! is the creation of Kazuki Takahashi. The Glass Wall is a film by Jim Freeman. "Wanted Dead or Alive" is performed and recorded by Bon Jovi. This is a not-for-profit fanwork and I do not own any of these characters.
Summary: "Sometimes I sleep, sometimes it's not for days, And the people I meet always go their separate ways"
Status: 5 / ?
Archived at: http://www.phenixsol.com/Miko/FF/
* * *
Summer of '69
Ch. 3: The Glass Wall
* * *Sometimes I sleep, sometimes it's not for days
- "Wanted Dead or Alive", Bon Jovi
* * *
Startled, Seto jerked his head up to see a fresh cup of coffee being placed on the table, and two pairs of concerned eyes peering at him. Had he nodded off? Or had he been so focused on updating firewalls and backing up data that he didn't notice Mokuba and Noa creep into the kitchen? And why were they up anyway? Wasn't it just...
"Shit, it's 5:00 AM," the brunette muttered, rubbing at his eyes. Last he checked, it was just a few minutes shy of 3:00.
"Nii-sama, you shouldn't have stayed up all night on this. We said we'd help," Mokuba chided gently as he poured some coffee for himself and Noa. He wanted to say more, but if Seto was already on edge over the hacker, there was no reason to push his buttons.
"I know, I know. But I didn't want you two staying up all night over this," Seto admitted.
Noa folded his arms. "But it's okay for you to do that?"
"Don't be stupid, who else was going to?" Seto snapped, but almost immediately he shook his head in apology. "Sorry, I didn't mean... for it to come out that way."
Noa snorted, but wisely didn't take issue with the insult, mostly because Mokuba had talked to him about it beforehand in anticipation of Seto's bad mood. But despite the apology, the comment still stung a little. Noa knew he was damn good with computers. Seto knew that too. If he were someone else, maybe Seto wouldn't have had a problem in letting him help. But apparently the elder Kaiba still had reservations about him.
Yeah, so they had been through some rough times. And perhaps they still had some unresolved issues between them. Maybe they'd never be one hundred percent comfortable with each other, at least, not the way they were with Mokuba. But Noa wanted to prove to Seto that he was someone he could trust, someone that was worthy of Mokuba. Seto was a fool to not take advantage of the resources at hand.
"We wouldn't have offered if we didn't mean it," Mokuba said slowly. He really wanted to impress upon Seto that he and Noa could handle the work. He was the VP of Kaiba Corp. after all, so why shouldn't he shoulder some of the burden too?
"Besides, you know we're fully capable of filling in for you as far as the programming and stuff. Mokuba and I kick butt as a team," Noa pointed out.
Seto sipped at the coffee, letting the heat and caffeine work through him, waiting for it to lift the fogginess from his mind. "Yeah... I know..."
Seto just shrugged. He wasn't sure what else to say. It was true that Noa especially was good with computers, but he'd never really put him to work on anything as important as this...
"You trust us, don't you?" Mokuba asked. Well, more specifically, the question was, did Seto trust Noa? But he didn't want to phrase it that way; it sounded accusatory.
"Apparently not," Noa answered when Seto failed to respond in a timely enough manner. Mokuba was about to protest, but Noa held his hand up. Enough was enough, he had to say something to make Seto face the facts. "Look, Seto. This hacker thing makes me mad too. I mean, does this Sieg Lloyd jerk really think he can get away with this? That he's better than us?"
"No way," Seto agreed.
"Yeah. So come on, let's trounce him," Noa challenged, his eyes glittering. "No one messes with a Kaiba."
He had a point there. And it was easier for Seto to convince himself that Noa was trustworthy when there was a common enemy who threatened their family's reputation and financial wellbeing. Besides, if nothing else, he was at least convinced that Noa considered Mokuba's happiness and interests his highest priority, so that meant he wouldn't betray him in turn, because it would break Mokuba's heart. Not that Seto doubted his own ability to thwart Sieg's plan unassisted, but he also wasn't stupid enough to throw away any advantage that came his way. Noa would be a great asset. If they worked together on this, they'd be an unstoppable force... Sieg wouldn't stand a chance!
A feral grin slowly spread across Seto's face, then he gestured at an empty seat. "Well, what are you waiting for then? We only have a few hours before the opening ceremony, and I'm certainly not going to let you use my computer..."
"I'll go get mine too!" Mokuba volunteered as Noa dashed up the stairs for his laptop.
The young CEO shook his head at the pair's excitement; it was almost like a game to them. Then again, Mokuba and Noa were still young, practically kids. Maybe they didn't understand how serious this was. Seto wondered if he was expecting too much. Perhaps he ought to find something else for them to do, something like...
His hands were starting to shake, a sure sign of fatigue. The movement caused ripples to mar the surface of the coffee remaining in the mug. And he couldn't seem to stop it. Angrily, Seto clutched at the cup until his fingers started going numb. He thought he had gotten enough rest between Wednesday afternoon and Friday morning, but apparently he hadn't.
Damn it! He couldn't afford to show any weakness in front of the public or the media or the assembled duelists. Sieg and any others like him would take advantage of that. And at the same time, he'd never hear the end of it if Mokuba and Yami realized how tired he was. So he fought down the yawn that was threatening to slip out, fought back the urge to close his eyes, even for just for a moment, and went to get more coffee instead. He was glad Mokuba had made an extra large pot. It was going to be a long morning.
* * *
Noa turned out to be much more helpful than Seto had anticipated, continuing to work even in the car without overt instruction. So thanks to his and Mokuba's assistance, Seto was able to check off several things from his to do list, enabling them to get to the park and prepare for the official grand opening with plenty of time to spare. But after they arrived and held the park's ribbon cutting ceremony for the benefit of the media and the general public, the elder Kaiba stated that he had something to see to, and got back into the limo and left without explaining what exactly it was that required his attention. Yami only knew that Seto seemed rather excited about it, whatever it was, so he let him go without comment. He only hoped that he'd be back on time to attend the tournament's opening ceremony since that was just as important as the opening of the park.
By the time the loud crackling of fireworks and the screams of the assembled spectators heralded the start of the KC Grand Prix, Seto still hadn't come back. But he was somewhere nearby; Yami could sense his presence. And he was bristling with a strange, giddy excitement. He had to be planning something. Yami relayed as much to Mokuba as the teen psyched himself up backstage for his role as the master of ceremonies.
The news put a smile on Mokuba's face, and he confidently told his crimson-eyed guardian, "I figured Nii-sama had something up his sleeve. I just don't know what. But you know how important this is to him... he wouldn't miss this for the world."
Yami just nodded. He had no doubts that Seto would make an appearance. It was his tournament after all. But Isono was already delivering the introductory speech, and Seto was still absent. It was just... odd.
"I have to go in a sec, Yami," Mokuba said, stepping onto the platform that would rise up behind the stage on cue. "Don't worry, he'll be here."
Yami chuckled. It was funny that Mokuba was trying to make him feel better when he was the one that had to go out and address thousands of people in the stands and millions worldwide. "Nervous?"
"Nah. I know what I'm doing," he boasted, microphone in hand, waving goodbye as the platform started moving.
The spiky-haired duelist grinned. Sometimes he forgot that Mokuba had plenty of experience with public appearances, and besides, he was a Kaiba as well as a teenager. What did he know of fear? Yami was sure that he'd do just fine, and so he went to join up with his friends who'd been seated in their own reserved section right on the arena floor, yards away from the door.
As he stepped outside, the sudden brightness made him pause and look up. The stadium's roof had retracted to let in plenty of fresh air and sunlight. And it was a beautiful day... hot and sunny with very few clouds in sight, which allowed for the huge skywritten "KC GRAND PRIX" to be seen for miles around. There was something else up there too, most likely a skywriting plane that had just finished its task and hadn't yet landed...
"Hey, Yami!" Noa called out, his voice barely audible over the cheering of the crowd at Mokuba's showy entrance and enthusiastic greeting. Although they had made great strides with the workload that morning, doing a full data backup in case of something catastrophic, there was a lot more that needed to be done. So Noa still had his laptop open and running, but apparently was taking a break to watch the show.
Yami acknowledged the green-haired teen with a slight tip of his head, then hurried over to take his seat so that he could enjoy the rest of the opening ceremony from the excellent vantage point they'd be blessed with. Seto had done a great job to ensure that Yugi and the others would be well taken care of during their stay at KaibaLand: VIP passes, luxury accommodations, a party bus and an executive jet that even celebrities would be jealous of. Yami hoped that maybe they'd come to a better understanding and appreciation of the type of person Seto really was, for as much as the ex-spirit cared for his friends, he knew that they didn't always think very highly of his sometimes arrogant, sometimes abrasive boyfriend. And that was a difficult thing to accept at times. It wasn't like Seto was giving them special treatment to curry favor either; he was doing it because they were his friends too, even if he wouldn't admit to it.
At least his attempts at being a good host hadn't gone unnoticed by Mokuba and Noa. They were both doing their part to help as well, having decided to split up the task of overseeing the preliminary rounds of duels as officials, and even though Mokuba was currently the one playing host to the whole world as it were, Noa, busy as he was with his other tasks, had been the one to accompany Yugi-tachi to their seats. Just part of being a good host as well as a friend, though frankly, he would rather have been backstage in support of Mokuba instead. Not because Mokuba really needed it, but... he just wanted to tell the younger teen how proud he was of him.
With admiration, Noa watched as Mokuba began going over the tournament rules. He was a natural in front of a crowd, charismatic and engaging. He sounded really professional, and looked the part, too. It wasn't surprising at all then that Mokuba had a number of young female fans in the stands. Noa was slightly wary of them, those girls with stars in their eyes, even though they didn't have a chance in the world of gaining the black-haired teen's affections. But Rebecca was a different matter being an actual acquaintance and all, and the jealous side of him wondered, what was she thinking? Were her eyes trained on Mokuba? Noa hated that he couldn't really see her expression from where he was sitting, and that the cameras weren't on her either. Was she giving Mokuba that coy smile? It wasn't that he didn't trust Mokuba... he knew his boyfriend was more loyal than anyone. But he definitely didn't trust her.
A quick glance over at Anzu gave him some reassurance that the "problem" would be addressed soon. He had pulled her aside earlier and asked her to have a chat with Rebecca, making up a story about how Mokuba's girlfriend, a good friend of his of course, would be upset if she found out another girl was making moves on him. Sure, he could have talked to her himself, but he didn't want to seem like a pushy, overbearing older brother sticking his nose in Mokuba's business. And it'd be better coming from another girl, someone who could be sympathetic to Rebecca and her little crush. Of course, it occurred to him that he was essentially asking Anzu to be a pushy, overbearing friend instead, but she had agreed to the request with only a little hesitation.
Applause from the crowd tore Noa away from his introspection. The first matches had been announced it seemed, and according to the "Kaibatron," it would be Katsuya Jounouichi versus Mask the Rock and Leon Wilson against Dr. Richard Goat.
"Oh... Jou's going to have to duel your grandfather," Anzu was telling Yugi and anyone else in earshot as Jou strutted on stage, swearing that he was going to win his duel for sure.
"Yeah. It'll be interesting, that's for sure. Jii-chan won't go easy on him just 'cause he knows him," Yugi responded.
"It's probably better that Katsuya doesn't know that that's Mr. Mutou," Mai added. "Your grandfather is a true duelist, Yugi, and I'm sure he entered the tournament for a good reason. He wouldn't want Katsuya going easy on him either."
Mokuba waited for the crowd to quiet down just a bit, then got back on the mike. No sign of Seto yet, but he knew he'd be showing up soon. He just had to give him a minute more... and then he found the perfect distraction. Swinging his gaze towards the reserved seats, he announced, "Now, before we get these two exciting duels started, I know there's someone we'd all love to hear from. We're privileged to have the current world champion Yugi Mutou attending this tournament and putting his title on the line. So Yugi, why don't you come on up here?"
Yugi blinked and pointed at himself, as if to say, "Who, me?"
Yami smiled sympathetically, but told his other half, Go on, your fans would love to see you.
I guess. The little duelist rose to his feet, then turned to wave to the crowd. I just wasn't expecting to make an appearance right now. It wasn't that he really minded the attention even though he was naturally a bit shy, it just... it always amazed him how famous he was, even after many months out of the spotlight. And fame and fortune were never his thing anyway; he was just a guy who enjoyed dueling. But he began to head on up to the stage as asked. It was the least he could do.
A sudden loud roar filled the sky above the stadium, and a collective gasp rose from the crowd as people began pointing up. There was something flying overhead, something which, strange as it sounded, resembled a...
"Isn't that the Blue Eyes White Dragon jet?" Honda asked.
"Sure looks like it," Otogi confirmed.
As for Yami, he was speechless, holding his breath and watching in shocked amazement as his lover *jumped* out of the plane's cockpit with a jetpack strapped on his back and a huge grin on his face. He was enjoying himself, the nut! All the former Pharaoh could think about was, What in the... is he insane?? He didn't know whether to be impressed or horrified - or both - by the young billionaire's bold stunt. Was it worth him breaking his neck just for a bit more publicity? Then again, it did kinda look like fun...
"Well, I'll hand it to Kaiba. He sure knows how to make an entrance," Pegasus said in approval, watching as Seto touched down on the stage, the throngs of impressed spectators screaming his name.
Mokuba had a huge grin on his face as he handed over the microphone. He didn't mind being master of ceremonies, but now that Seto had finally made his appearance, he wanted all eyes on his big brother instead.
"This is the ultimate test of survival, and it will push everyone involved to their limits!" Seto announced dramatically, cutting straight to the chase. "If you came for a friendly game, I suggest you go home. This is a ruthless battle and in the end, only one duelist will remain standing. From this moment forward, KaibaLand is a battlefield! So trust no one..." and he slanted a glance at Sieg, "and may the best duelist win!"
"Lotsa talk from a guy who isn't even dueling," Jou groused. Yugi looked at him a bit oddly, but quickly realized that his friend was expressing disappointment, not anger. Jou had been looking forward to the possibility of dueling Seto and perhaps settling old scores once and for all, but the young CEO wasn't going to be participating. And it was a shame... Seto was an incredible duelist. It was too bad he was too busy with work to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
With the crowd still chanting his name, Seto thrust his fist in the air before motioning for Isono to take over. Frankly, he didn't really care if the general public actually liked him as a person since truly, what did they really know about him? He didn't let many people see past the public persona of CEO, technological wunderkind, elite duelist... But at the same time, he needed to court the public since they were the ones enabling his company to succeed. If it took drawing attention to himself to gain attention for his products, then by all means, he wanted it. Entertainment was as much a commodity as any other thing.
He glanced at the assembled duelists, gauging their reactions. Most of them just stared at him in awe, which was fine, but when his eyes met Sieg's, he only saw cold resentment. It made him smirk.
Don't like it when I've seen right through you and figured out what you're up to, huh? Yeah, that's right, it's MY fuckin' tournament. Don't you ever forget that, Seto willed his eyes to convey.
Sieg glared back, then, very slowly, a thin smile emerged, and he tossed his head as if to accept the challenge.
Seto cocked an eyebrow slightly. He didn't like the confidence that Sieg was showing at the moment. The man wasn't ruffled at all. Did Sieg have something else planned then? Of course he did... why wouldn't he? But what was he up to? And were the precautions and security measures Seto had in place enough to stop him? Turning around, the brunette scowled inwardly as he exited the stage. Apparently he had a lot more work to do.
* * *
Yami wondered if he ought to feel guilty about skipping out on Jou and Sugoroku's duel to go see Seto instead, but in a way, it was almost a relief that he had a reason to not attend. Honestly, he didn't know which man he should be cheering for, though he supposed that wasn't the real reason he didn't want to go.
Seto had been working so hard. And as much as he fought to keep Yami from realizing the toll it was taking on him, his mental walls were cracking from the strain. So it was hard for Yami to go and "have fun" when he could feel his lover falling apart. It was making him bitter. Didn't anyone else realize the price Seto was paying to make this tournament happen?
Aibou always said that the important thing was having fun, Yami thought to himself as he got off the monorail and began walking to the cluster of tall buildings right outside the park's walls. It was okay for Yugi to be idealistic, he supposed. But for Seto, that wasn't practical. And Yami could see evidence of that all around him. Even here, right by the walls of the theme park, between the strategically placed retail and entertainment centers, Seto had built a business complex. It was an ingenious design, but the layout came about because of business considerations. So it just seemed the ultimate irony then that the crux of what Kaiba Corp. was selling was "fun."
Even though it was a Saturday, there was a full staff working in the Kaiba Corp. America headquarters, most likely because of the grand opening. The employees resembled busy bees flitting around a hive, trying to complete tasks that needed to be done yesterday. It was crowded, and chaotic. So it wasn't surprising that no one said a word to him as he activated the executive's elevator and punched the button for Seto's floor, for who had time to socialize when there was work to be done?
Once he arrived at his lover's office, Yami didn't waste any time, walking right up to the taller man and kissing him soundly. Seto was so tense that his jaws were clenched shut, so Yami gently massaged his lips with his own until he relented a bit, parting them just enough for Yami to slip his tongue through. Yami sighed, and his hands found their way up to Seto's face, tracing the contour of each cheekbone before making their way down the side of Seto's neck, and that's when the brunette reluctantly pulled away.
"Why aren't you out watching the duels with everyone else?" Seto asked. "I'd have thought that at the very least, you'd be there to watch the Mutt get schooled by your grandfather."
Yami couldn't help but smile at Seto's assumption that Sugoroku would win. Personally, he thought they were pretty evenly matched. "I dunno. I thought maybe you needed my support more than they did."
Seto sighed, his eyes softening a little. "I appreciate it, you know I do, but... if you really want to help, just go keep an eye on Sieg Lloyd for me."
"You have countless security people and cameras doing that already," Yami pointed out, squeezing himself between the desk and chair so that he was now straddling long legs. "I'd rather keep an eye on you instead," he purred, now plucking at Seto's tie playfully.
Seto pursed his lips. Was he tempted? Duh, of course... he was busy, not dead. But only one head could be in control of his body, and he opted for the one with the brain in it. "Isn't it pretty obvious that I'm busy?"
The shorter duelist didn't respond verbally, but instead sat himself down on Seto's lap and began working on undoing the belt buckle which bore his name.
"Yami, don't..." Seto began protesting, but the hand snaking down into the front of his slacks effectively reduced his words to moans. Fuck, that felt soooo good!
Yami smirked, pleased with how quickly his boyfriend's cock expanded and hardened at his touch, even with the thin layer of silk separating it from his hand. A few strokes and he was already literally flying out of his seat. Seto wanted this... *needed* this... Yami was sure of it, but just when he thought he'd won, Seto was pulling his hands out of his pants with an unhappy sound.
"I'm sorry... I can't."
"Seto, you need this. You're so tense... you have to let go of some of that nervous energy."
"But that bastard is up to something!" Seto explained reluctantly, fidgeting as his dick complained about the sudden lack of stimulation. He released Yami's wrists in favor of zipping up his pants, effectively ending the possibility of a romp. "I've worked too hard for this to let someone like him ruin it."
The crimson-eyed man frowned, though he didn't budge from his seat. "He won't. We won't let him. But the tournament isn't the only thing that matters here. We have to take care of you, too."
Seto snorted. "I don't need anyone to 'take care' of me."
Yami felt his anger prickling for a moment. He hated how careless Seto was with himself. He was human - he had to accept that he wasn't indestructible or invulnerable. You can't really expect me to sit idly by and watch you kill yourself over this, Yami complained. But he felt his annoyance dissipate when he leaned forward to rest his weight against Seto's body. The young CEO was so frail now, so thin and worn out; he just couldn't stay angry with him.
Seto tensed up momentarily at the change in Yami's mood. He didn't mean to upset his boyfriend. Figuring he couldn't hide the truth from Yami anyway, he closed his eyes and asked wearily, What do you expect me to do? This company doesn't run itself you know. Would you rather I put the burden on Mokuba?
That's not what I'm saying at all. It's just... you're not alone in this, Kai-baby.
Not that I don't have confidence in you, but... right now, this war is being fought on a technological field. It's not exactly your forte.
It doesn't matter. I can still help, if you'd allow it... Yami told him, actively allowing some of his body's energy to flow into Seto's depleted reserves. It made him a little lightheaded, but at least it was clear what he was intending to do.
Blue eyes suddenly flew open, and he snapped shut that portion of their bond in a near panic. "Yami, no..."
"You're exhausted, Seto. Your body can't run on nothing but willpower for much longer."
"And what about you? How would you function if you... well, I don't even know what to call it...!"
Yami smiled against Seto's neck. I wouldn't give you all my energy, of course. Just a moderate amount. Just for a little while. Hopefully, it would be enough to help keep you going the rest of the day.
That's what coffee is for, Seto protested weakly.
It'll be okay. You've done it for me before I think, even though neither one of us realized it at the time. And I even did it a little when you picked us up from the airport, but you were so far gone, you didn't notice.
I can't force you to accept it. You'll need to let me back in.
Seto hesitated. He could almost feel something like an electrical buzz right at the edge of his awareness. His body thirsted for it, but he still wasn't convinced that it was safe. I don't want to hurt you, Yami. I mean, how can you be sure that this won't harm you in the long run? What if... we can't shut it off?
As far as I can tell, as long as we keep the pathways open, it would balance itself out anyway.
Seto took a deep breath. He didn't really feel any better about it, but to continue fighting against it was not only a waste of time but an implication of distrust as well. He just hoped to God that Yami was right, that this wouldn't hurt him. He didn't know what he'd do if any harm came to his lover because of this. All... right... he whispered.
The effect was almost immediate. There was a heady rush of warmth that flooded his entire body, and Seto could feel his mind clearing and his senses sharpening. It really was amazing. He hadn't realized that he'd been so tired, having been running on empty for quite a while now.
... Feel better? Yami asked, sagging against Seto in sudden exhaustion. It was more draining than he had anticipated, but he didn't regret it. He'd be fine after a nap. And at least this way, Seto would be able to get his work done.
Are you sure about this? Seto asked, even though it really was too late for them to change their minds without resorting to lots of mental wrangling. And already he was taking advantage of the boost, calculating how much time he had left in the day, and how much more he needed to get done by the end of it.
Yami managed a tiny nod, then, after shifting into a more comfortable sprawl across Seto's body, drifted off to sleep.
* * *
January 13, 2007