Title: Taboo
Author: bnomiko
Rating: PG-13
Pairing(s): Main: Noa + Mokuba, Seto + Yami. Minor: Yamato + Kouya, Anzu + Yugi, Mai + Jou, Malik + Bakura
Spoilers: none
Warnings: swearing
Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! is the creation of Kazuki Takahashi. "Taboo" is from the musical Taboo, by Boy George. "Like Father, Like Son" is from the musical Aida, by Elton John and Tim Rice. This is a not-for-profit fanwork and I do not own any of these characters.
Summary: Accusations fly when Seto and Noa finally confront each other.
Status: 6 / ?
Archived at: http://www.phenixsol.com/Miko/FF/

* * *

Taboo

Ch. 5: Like Father, Like Son

* * *

Seto awoke the next morning feeling content and warm, draped loosely over the body next to him. He always had a much more restful sleep with Yami beside him, the younger duelist's presence a welcome bit of reassurance in his otherwise hectic life. And he desperately needed that right now with things going as badly as they were.

The body in his embrace shifted a little, hair gliding past his chin as the head tilted back and… Mokuba’s eyes gazed up at him, worry and curiosity mixing together in the storm-colored depths.

Oh shit. He had forgotten… he had argued with Yami the night before, right? Booted him from the room so that Mokuba could move in? He had thought it was a nightmare or something.

For his part, Mokuba didn’t say a word, just lay there scrutinizing his brother who quickly rolled away and got out of bed without comment. The black-haired teen had slept pretty badly, bothered by the way his brother needed to wrapped himself around him while he slept. Although Seto would never admit to it, Yami wasn’t the only one in the relationship who didn’t sleep well alone, and it really was only because of Yami’s influence that Seto had learned to start sleeping a regular schedule. Heck, back before Yami had moved in, Seto’s general approach to getting sleep was to work late into the night until he literally passed out from exhaustion. And Mokuba could see him starting all that up again if he weren’t properly "motivated" to go to bed.

Of course, the "motivation" was part of the reason why Yami had stormed off in a huff last night. And that had eaten at Mokuba all night long. Not that he wanted to watch the two of them go at it like rabid bunnies, but there was a sort of comfort in knowing that they acted like that, just being themselves and doing what they enjoyed without worrying about keeping up appearances.

All he knew was he couldn’t let them break up over this. Whatever it took… he’d make sure of that. It would kill him to see Seto going back to being the way he was before Yami came along. But at the same time, a selfish part of him wanted to capture that same great joy that came from being loved by someone special. Was it possible for him to get what he wanted and preserve Seto’s happiness as well, or was it too late for that? If the latter were true, as awful as it was... he didn’t want Seto to be the one making the sacrifice this time.

* * *

By the time Yami was up, Seto and Mokuba had vanished again, presumably to Kaiba Corp., though Seto hadn’t left a note this time. Not even two full days had passed since Mokuba and Noa’s secret had been found out, and Yami was already sick of how badly things had degraded. The separation itself wasn’t the issue; Seto had been on business trips that had lasted up to two weeks, though they had become far more infrequent as of late. But the reasons behind why they weren’t currently sleeping in the same room… that was a whole different story. Yami wasn’t a total pessimist by nature, but he doubted that Seto took Mokuba to work with him to confront him or to settle their differences in opinion. And they really, really needed to. How long could they all coexist if nothing was resolved? Seto’s simmering anger was trying the find an outlet, and since he couldn’t… no, *wouldn’t* get mad at Mokuba, and was ignoring Noa on top of that, he was taking it out on his crimson-eyed lover instead.

Yami figured he ought to be mad about that still. And a small part of him was. But a bigger part of him accepted that Mokuba was the one person that Seto worried about the most, and understood that Seto was a complete dunce when it came to the people he held nearest to his heart. And because of that, he really couldn’t stay angry.

Tearing his thoughts away from their personal problems, the ex-spirit focused himself on the task at hand. He had promised Seto several days ago that he’d give his opinion on the list of potential invites for the next great Duel Monsters tournament, the KC Grand Prix. He had originally planned to give his report to Seto the day before, but with all the crap going on, he hadn’t thought about it at all. Yami still wasn’t in the mood to be working on it, but knowing Seto… if he didn’t get something by the end of the day, it would just be another burden that he'd try to shoulder himself, and Yami didn’t want to add anything else to his boyfriend’s already heaping pile of concerns. And in many ways, he was pleased that Seto trusted him and wanted him to help out, knowing full well that Seto was notoriously... attached to his projects and wanted to do everything himself.

Yami sighed as he sorted through the various online applications and recommendations they’d received. Back when he… well, Yugi was actively dueling, they just dueled. They really didn’t have the sorts of gimmicks that some of the duelists used nowadays to make themselves "popular."

Okay, this guy uses a monkey to select the cards he’s going to play. So why don’t we just enter the monkey in the tournament instead? Yami wondered, grimacing to himself at the sheer corniness of it all. Yes, Duel Monsters was a game, but it meant much more to him and Seto than just that.

But maybe monkey boy was the type of duelist that people currently liked. He certainly seemed to be a fairly popular guy judging on attendance figures, and he had done well in a number of smaller tournaments. So from a promotional standpoint, it might benefit them to have some wild cards that would draw an audience, though Yami knew he’d be lying if he said he understood anything about how marketing worked.

Oh well, that’s the sort of thing that Seto’s good at. Yami made a few notes and went down to the next applicant, noting with amusement that it was from Rebecca Hopkins. Well, if nothing else, he knew she was a competent duelist…

Hey, um… Yami? Yugi’s gentle mental voice drifted into Yami’s head as he noted his approval of Rebecca’s application.

Aibou. Yami unconsciously nodded his head in greeting as if the little duelist were standing before him. How’s everything?

I was about to ask you the same. I don’t mean to pry, but you’ve seemed… unhappy as of late. Is something bothering you?

Just busy sorting through these entries for KC Grand Prix, and… uh… Yami bit down lightly on his lip. Should he reveal what was really going on to Yugi? Not that it was his business what went on in the Kaiba household, but on the other hand, this was Yugi - his aibou, his other half. He could trust Yugi with anything. And he certainly needed someone to talk to who wasn’t on one side or the other.

Focusing on his bond with Yugi, Yami began explaining what was going on, from the way they had unexpectedly found out about the true nature of Mokuba and Noa’s relationship, to the fact that he was now rooming with Noa because Seto wanted Mokuba where he could keep an eye on him. He couldn’t help but feel a faint echo of his previous anger as he went over the most recent events, but all the talking was rather cathartic as well. And the entire time, Yugi listened patiently, even though Yami could tell that he disapproved of some of the things that had been going on.

When Yami was through, he had to ask, So, what do you think I should do? Is there even anything I could do?

Oh, Yami. There was a pause as Yugi searched for the kindest way to get his point across. I’m not sure what to tell you. Sounds like the three of them really need to just sit down and hash things out.

Not going to happen at this rate, not unless I duct tape them to the kitchen chairs and force them to talk.

Well, that’s the thing… I don’t think you should really interfere.

Why not? This affects me too.

Yugi sighed. He had figured that Yami wouldn’t be thrilled about his suggestion, but the way he saw it, things were already complicated enough between Seto, Mokuba and Noa that adding Yami to the equation just made it that much messier. But he knew Yami couldn’t resist trying to play referee. So he decided to try a different approach. Yes, I know it’s affecting you because you live there, and ‘cause Kaiba is your boyfriend. But it sounds like this really is between the three of them. And I guess Kaiba’s so stressed having to deal with Mokuba and Noa that having to take you into consideration on top of that is probably too much for him to handle.

But I can’t just sit around and pretend nothing’s wrong and hope that things work themselves out, Yami responded glumly. Yugi could practically feel him pouting.

That’s not what I’m saying. Just… be supportive. He probably needs that from you more than anything right now.

I’m trying, but he just makes it so HARD!

I know, I know, Yugi said in a soothing tone. And actually, he did know. After all, he had been stuck with the task of trying to get through to Seto on more than one occasion. It was akin to smacking one’s head against a brick wall. And he had only met with partial success anyway. The last time he had attempted it… well, that had taught him to refrain from sticking his nose into Seto Kaiba’s business again. Of course, the brunette would be more tolerant of Yami’s interference, but still… when it came to matters concerning Mokuba, Yugi bet that Seto’s tolerance was pretty damn low no matter where the offers of assistance were coming from.

I’ll consider it, Yami finally managed to tell his other half, sounding almost as stubborn as his boyfriend. But Yugi wasn’t going to ask for more than that. It was advice, not a command.

Well, whatever you decide to do… good luck. And if you need to talk, remember that I’m always here for you. Don’t wait for me to ask for an update!

Yami made a sound of acknowledgement, then let the link fade until it was once again just a quiet presence in the back of Yugi’s mind. Finally alone with his own thoughts, the violet-eyed teen couldn’t help but shake his head in amazement. No wonder Yami had been upset the last couple of days. What a mess! He really couldn’t blame Seto for reacting so badly, because even though it didn’t seem to bother Yami much, what Noa and Mokuba had going almost verged on incest. And they’d been doing it behind their big brother’s back. Their insanely overprotective big brother's back. Plus, from a more pragmatic point of view, it could cause a ton of problems for all of them if the general public ever found out. But now that he thought about it… he guessed it wasn’t really all that surprising. Or unexpected.

"Hey, yo… Yug. Yoohoo!" A hand waved in front of his eyes, and then a pair of warm brown eyes popped into view.

"Huh? Oh, Jou… sorry. Was just talking to Yami real quick."

"Yeah? What did ya talk about?"

Yugi didn’t even have to think about it. Yami’s confidences would go no further, even though he hadn't expressly forbidden him to tell everyone else. But that didn’t mean that he had to lie to Jou either. Giving his friend a small smile, he simply said, "Did you end up applying for a spot in Kaiba’s upcoming tournament?"

"Peh. Yeah, even though I know that…" and Jou looked around the game shop, dropping his voice as he noticed some kids walking by, following Sugoroku towards the register, "that prick is gonna reject my app cuz he thinks I’m a mediocre duelist." Well, that and the fact that he was no longer actively tournament dueling just like everyone else in their circle, but he couldn’t resist the possibility of throwing a win into Seto’s face at his own tournament.

"Well, from the sound of it, Yami’s the one selecting the attendees," Yugi mentioned. "Or at least, he’s playing a big part in that."

Jou instantly brightened up, realizing that he’d be a shoo-in if that were the case. "Really? Awesome." And he laughed.

Neither teen noticed Sugoroku grinning to himself behind the counter.

* * *

Seto and Mokuba arrived back home late in the afternoon, but when Yami went to greet them, he knew with one look that nothing had been resolved. With Yugi’s advice weighing heavily on his mind, he decided to refrain from commenting on that obvious fact, and instead told Seto that he had finished sorting through the KC Grand Prix applicants while Mokuba took the opportunity to sullenly disappear up the stairs. Seto might have stopped the black-haired teen from wandering off, but Yami quickly assured his lover that Noa was in the kitchen.

The young CEO grunted a rather irritated "Thanks" and switched gears, mentally checking Yami’s task off his long list of concerns for the opening of the new theme park. He had planned to look over the list of participants and give it his final approval, but he honestly didn’t have the time nor mindset for it and figured Yami would get the job done right anyway. But what was really eating at him was that he had just revised and finalized his work schedule leading up to the grand opening of the new KaibaLand, and Yami was sure to have a total shit fit when he found out what that would entail. And with everything going on, he didn’t want to deal with yet another argument once he broke the news to his lover that he was going to be gone overseas for nearly two months… and that he’d miss both Yami’s birthday and their two year anniversary.

But Yami didn’t know what Seto had planned. He chalked up the taller duelist’s grouchiness to stress from the Mokuba and Noa situation, a reasonable assumption given the circumstances. So he figured everything was about as okay as it could be and headed back to the kitchen to finish up dinner – chicken cacciatore and risotto with asparagus. The risotto wasn’t quite done yet though; Noa was still busy blending the cheese and butter into it, only pausing momentarily to glance at Seto when he finally followed Yami into the room.

"Thanks for watching the risotto for me, Noa… it looks like it’s almost done," Yami said as he stepped up to the stove, the chef in him asserting itself. "I’ll take over if you want to go ahead and grab a seat at the table."

Noa kept stirring. "It’s okay, I’ve got it."

Yami’s fingers twitched slightly. As silly as it was, he wanted to be the one to finish the dish since Noa wasn’t moving the spoon around as slowly as he would’ve liked, but he convinced himself that he was being unreasonable. At least it gave Noa something to occupy himself with. "Um, okay then. I guess I’ll go get Mokuba."

Seto made a soft sound, as if he were about to protest and then had changed his mind.

Or would you rather go get him yourself? Yami asked his boyfriend, realizing that perhaps Seto wasn’t comfortable being in the kitchen alone with Noa, though he wasn’t sure if acting on that realization counted as interference. Actually, he still hadn’t decided one way or the other on that. Yugi was probably right, but he couldn’t help himself.

The brunette shifted slightly in his seat at the island, buying himself a second to think of an answer. Oh, he knew what Yami was trying to do, but… since Mokuba didn’t seem to be receptive to conversation, perhaps he could approach things from a different angle and work on Noa instead. He supposed it was worth trying, even if he honestly wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone at the moment. So he simply told Yami, Nah, you go get him, then waited until the ex-spirit left the kitchen before turning his attention to Noa.

"Did you think I wouldn’t ever catch you guys?" Seto began, cutting straight to the chase. If Yami wanted him to talk, he’d talk all right.

Noa looked over his shoulder, wanting to spit out that he had wanted to tell Seto what was going on, but he caught himself… he didn’t want to get Mokuba in any more trouble. So he bit back that retort and instead lamely mumbled, "Maybe we were hoping you wouldn’t."

Seto snorted. Noa had some nerve, and by the way he had to check himself before he answered, he was obviously not telling the whole truth. Seto could feel his blood pressure rising. He was so sick of being lied to, and was just spoiling for a fight. "You’re using him aren’t you, you little snake? Turning him against me. How’d you force him into it this time?" he barked, voicing the worst possible scenario that had crossed his mind, daring Noa to deny it.

That snide tone… it made Noa clench his teeth in anger. And worse yet, Seto was implying that he was only using Mokuba, that he was hurting him, all over some grudge that existed in his own head. So Noa slapped the saucepot down and snapped, "How can you say that? I’d never hurt Mokuba again, ever… has it even occurred to you that maybe this was a mutual thing? That this isn’t about you? Why don’t you ask him if you don’t believe me?"

"You’re damn right it’s not about me. It’s always been about Mokuba."

"It should be. But you’re the one with the problem, not him! Even Yami doesn’t…" Noa forced himself to shut up right there… he had no clue what Yami had told Seto and what Seto had thought of it, and bringing Yami into the conversation was just a bad idea all around.

Just as Noa had figured, Seto instantly latched onto the unfinished statement. "Yami doesn’t what?"

"…Yami doesn’t have a problem with it." And Noa did believe that the former Pharaoh had been honest about that much.

"I don’t give a fuck if he does or not. He’s not the one responsible for the two of you... I am."

"Yeah, so? He’s your boyfriend; his opinion should matter to you."

"Well it doesn’t. Not when it comes to this. What, you figured you’d get Yami on your side and I’d just forget what you’ve done?"

"I haven’t done anything!" Noa yelled back. "We haven’t…" He took a deep breath. "If you really thought that we had… which we HAVEN’T… you’d have kicked me out so fast…"

"I’m tempted to kick you out right now you brat, before you have a chance to cause any more damage. I should have done it a long time I ago. I should have known that you were just waiting to corrupt Mokuba." After all, Mokuba had been straight before Noa started messing around with his head, hadn’t he? And even if he weren’t, he certainly wouldn’t have chosen to pursue a relationship with Noa of all people. Not that Seto objected to Mokuba being straight, gay, whatever… after all, he was gay himself; but it was just that… why wasn’t he sure of the answer to that question?

Noa quickly jumped onto Seto’s apparent uncertainty. "Corrupt him? Corrupt him into what? It’s you and Yami that are fucking in every room of the house, like you get your rocks off knowing you have an audience or something. You think we want to see that? I didn’t do anything like that, so why are you blaming me for that sort of shit?!"

"Watch your mouth!" Seto interrupted, eyes blazing in warning.

"Why the fuck should I?" Seto had some nerve saying that; what a hypocrite he was! "Besides… you think I would have even considered a relationship with Mokuba if that wasn’t what he wanted? You really believe that I’d coerce or force him into being with me?" But Noa couldn’t quite get himself to reveal that Mokuba had been the instigator, as well as the one who decided that their relationship had to remain a secret. He figured that if Seto was going to continue to flip out, better him than Mokuba.

"You did before," Seto said nastily, his anger at that memory drowning out the little voice in his head that pointed out that Noa was right at least about the way he and Yami carelessly behaved. That he was also a part of the problem. But he’d have to address that later, with Yami… and it wasn’t Noa’s business anyway.

"I would never do that again. Especially not to Mokuba. And he knows that."

"He’d be a fool to believe you. I certainly don’t."

"Well that’s your problem. Mokuba believes in me," Noa stated, a touch of arrogance in his voice.

"Hmph. Why, I’ll never know. I should have known better than to let any part of Gozaburo back into my life. You’re as poisonous as that bastard old man of yours."

Ah, they were in dangerous waters now. But Noa was so caught up in the argument that he couldn’t stop himself, and the mention of Gozaburo just reminded him that he had a lot more ammunition to work with. "It’s not my fault that he treated you like crap! He never wanted you anyway, or did you forget that you’re the one who tricked him into the adoption in the first place? So you only have yourself to blame for things not going the way you hoped."

"I earned the right to be here in this house and I let you stay here against my better judgement, and this is the thanks I get?"

"This was my house and my life first!" Noa yelled back. "You stole it from me!"

"Just like how you’re trying to steal Mokuba from me?!"

"I’m not! But… ah, I get it." He let loose a short, malicious laugh. "You’re just jealous of me! Not only were you just a poor substitute for me in my father’s eyes, but now with Mokuba… You just can’t stand the thought that as Mokuba grows up, he might decide that he doesn’t want you as the center of his universe anymore? That he’d rather spend his free time with me. I mean… did you even know that he was interested in both guys and girls?" A look of confusion flashed in the depths of Seto’s blue eyes, causing Noa to smirk triumphantly. "Yeah, that’s what I figured. Some big brother you turned out to be."

"I have ALWAYS put Mokuba first and foremost! Everything I’ve done, I’ve done for his sake. You think you can just stroll in here and take that from me!? I won’t let you!"

"Maybe I can. Maybe he’d rather be with ME. Maybe he’d be better off…"

Seto literally saw red. He wasn’t going to stand for Noa threatening to steal away the one person that mattered to him more than anything. Noa had tried it once, and Mokuba had forgiven him for it, but Seto could never forget it. With a snarl, he rapidly rose to his feet, stalking over to Noa and grabbing him by the front of his shirt, pushing him up against the stove as he got right into the teen’s face and hissed, "You son of a bitch! I’d kill you before I‘d let you take him away from me!"

Noa’s eyes widened at the venom in Seto’s voice, at the way his eyes took on a crazed look. He wasn’t kidding… he meant exactly what he said, and from the way his hand clamped down and tightened on Noa’s throat, he was going to make good on his threat right then and there.

Realizing that he had said too much and gone too far and fearing for his safety, Noa shut his mouth and swallowed hard, feeling the way his throat had to work against the pressure Seto was putting on it. God, what was he thinking?! Why did he have to shoot his mouth off like that? The young billionaire was very capable of causing him some serious harm, and he knew it. And there wasn’t much he could do about it save hope that Seto could regain some self-control. For a brief moment, he worried about what Mokuba would do if he came down right at that moment and saw Seto trying to kill him. Or worse yet, Seto standing over his unconscious body. It made him shiver uncontrollably.

But Seto was past the point of caring about how much damage he was doing, or what the repercussions would be. Like a shark, he could literally smell the blood in the water. And he was going to go in for the kill. Literally nose to nose with Noa, he growled, "You should have gone down with that bastard father of yours. If I had known that Mokuba had taken that hard drive, that you were on it... I would have smashed it and thrown it into the ocean. Even that would have been better than you deserved!"

"NII-SAMA!" And suddenly Mokuba was there, rushing to push his way between his brothers, a frantic look on his face. "Nii-sama!!! Don’t!"

Yami was there too, his loud mental cries now nearly drowning out Mokuba’s voice. He had been trying to get through to Seto as soon as he realized how bad things were getting, but Seto’s fury had been so great that it had practically blocked him out. Seto, stop it! You’re choking him!

The words didn’t make any sense, at least not until Seto looked down and realized what he was doing. He had his right hand knotted in the front of Noa’s shirt, and the left was actually clamped around the teen’s throat. He had really tried to throttle him! Both Yami and Mokuba were trying to pry that hand off to no avail. And Noa was staring at him anxiously, his breathing a little too fast and shallow to be healthy, blue eyes absolutely huge in fear.

It took the brunette another moment to register that Mokuba was there, that the black-haired teen had witnessed at least the horrifyingly disastrous end of the fight and was now standing wedged in the middle, trying to use his body to shield Noa’s. "Please, Nii-sama… don’t…"

This… has happened before, Seto thought, again remembering Mokuba turning against him to defend Noa in the virtual world. But back then, Noa had been controlling him. And Mokuba’s eyes had been dead, blank… Seto shook his head in disgust. He didn’t want to think back to that again. Then everything blurred, and he remembered Mokuba trapped in the death simulation chamber at Death-T, screaming for him to no avail…

"Nii-sama?" Mokuba breathed again. He sounded like he was begging. He sounded so scared.

Seto couldn’t stand it. He finally let go, then took a step back. He could vaguely hear Noa panting for air and sensed the frantic buzzing of Yami’s concern through their bond, but he couldn’t focus on either one at the moment. As much of a monster as Noa had been in his virtual world, how was he any better? Look at what he had just done! He was the reason why there were tears rolling down Mokuba’s cheeks, why trepidation flickered in those gray eyes…

What have I… "Mokuba," he barely choked out, his throat completely dry.

Mokuba’s face screwed up as he unsuccessfully fought off a fresh wave of tears, and he wiped at them angrily, instinctively turning to the nearest shoulder to cry on, which happened to be Noa’s.

"I’m… sorry. Mokuba, I didn’t…" Seto began stammering in apology, but Mokuba seemed inconsolable, latching onto Noa even harder, one arm wrapped tightly around the older teen’s back, his fists tightening around the fabric of Noa’s shirt.

Then Yami stepped in, his eyes mirroring the uncertainty that Seto felt. Just… let him get it off his chest. He’s really upset. If Noa can make him feel a bit better, let him, okay? the crimson-eyed teen began, trying to sound as soothing as possible. Actually, he was still alarmed at what he had just witnessed as well, but judging from Seto’s reaction to his own behavior now that he had regained control, he needed reassurance just as much as anyone else in the room.

I could have… Seto left the rest unsaid. He knew full well what he was capable of; they all did. He could never forget it.

No. If you really were going to, we all know it would have been too late by the time we got down here.

Yami, don’t bullshit me. God, his temper was already flaring once more, this time at Yami. And the former Pharaoh so didn’t deserve that, not again. But he couldn’t stop himself. Mokuba was so distressed, and it was his fault. And as terrorized as he was, Noa was still standing there, offering what comfort he could to the youngest Kaiba in between furtive glances at Seto. Dinner was completely ruined. Their lives were in shambles thanks to his actions. It was making him nauseous. He had to get away.

Ignoring Yami’s entreaties of, Seto, wait! the young CEO swiftly made his way to the garage, grabbed a motorcycle, and headed out with no particular destination in mind.

* * *

Seto didn’t return for hours. He wasn’t even sure where he had gone… he bet that he’d probably retraced his route two or three times before he realized that he was almost out of gas and either had to refuel or go home. And considering that he had left in such a rush, he hadn’t even taken his wallet with him, so there wasn't much of a choice at all.

When he finally snuck back into the house, it had been dark for hours. And so the first thing he realized was that Yami was still up, sitting curled up loosely on a sofa with a single reading lamp on and a random magazine in his lap. Tired crimson eyes flickered over his face as if assessing the current threat level that he posed, then Yami decided it was safe and blinked.

"Mokuba’s in bed. Noa too. Different rooms, of course," Yami finally informed his boyfriend, yawning widely.

"I’m sorry." Boy, he certainly had been apologizing a lot as of late. Not that it mattered… he just kept making everything worse. So why was he even bothering?

"Don’t apologize to me."

"Hn." Well, if he wasn’t apologizing for what he had already said and done, he certainly was sorry about the news he was going to have to break to Yami. As if Yami needed more to stress about.

Of course, the shorter duelist picked up on that sense of dread quickly. Baby? What is it?

Seto sat down, shut his eyes, and took a breath. I’m leaving next week to oversee the completion of the new KaibaLand. I’m… going to be gone for eight weeks, and I’m taking Mokuba with me.

There was a pause. Seto could feel Yami’s surprise. When did you decide this?

Earlier today. Much earlier. Why wasn’t Yami more upset about it? I didn’t get a chance to tell you, ‘cause… you know.

So what about Noa? We’re just going to leave him here by himself?

Seto flinched a little at the mention of Noa. A small part of him wondered if the teen was okay, but the rest of him dismissed that concern. Of course he was, or else Yami would have mentioned it. Besides, he didn’t want to talk about Noa right now. And he had a question to answer, or more precisely… a statement to clarify. No. I’m ONLY taking Mokuba with me. Believe me… it’s better that way.

Oh, Yami was mad all right; Seto could feel it flooding into their link like hot lava. It might have made him mad too, if anger hadn’t worn out its welcome already. But it dissipated quickly, and was followed by a very deep hurt that literally made Seto’s body tense up so swiftly that it immediately began to ache.

So it came as no surprise when Yami got up and silently left the room, leaving Seto alone on the sofa, wondering how much worse things could possibly get when the few people he cared about feared and hated him in return.

* * *

TBC

Author’s Notes:

June 20, 2006