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. "I’d Rather Leave While I’m in Love" is from the musical The Boy from Oz, by Peter Allen. This is a not-for-profit fanwork and I do not own any of these characters.
Summary: Mokuba struggles through some difficult decisions.
Status: 8 / ?
Archived at: http://www.phenixsol.com/Miko/FF/

* * *

Taboo

Ch. 7: I’d Rather Leave While I’m in Love

* * *

Mokuba thought it had to be the most excruciatingly slow school day of his life. It had been tolerable up until lunch time, as it was easier to dismiss what Noa was trying to say in favor of the teachers’ lectures and the general buzzing of the classroom, but when their lunch break finally rolled around, he had run out of excuses.

"Come on, talk to me. Please…" Noa sighed once he caught up with Mokuba outside the fine arts wing. He had been trying to talk to Mokuba ever since Yami had dropped them off that morning, and was frustrated that his little brother had not uttered anything more than monosyllabic answers since the big fight with Seto the night before. He was worried about what Mokuba was thinking, and what he might have heard, and… was he having second thoughts about the two of them?

He should have kept his temper under control, but… it was inevitable that he and Seto would fight. They had been aching for it. It had ended badly of course - Noa had said things that he shouldn’t have said, and Seto did something he shouldn’t have done, and Mokuba had practically cried himself to sleep, but… well, it could have been far worse. Seto really could have hurt him badly, and he didn’t. But… considering how Mokuba was acting, perhaps Noa hadn’t gotten through the incident as unscathed as he thought. And Noa couldn’t help thinking… if Mokuba really did reject him, that would hurt far worse than anything Seto could do. Still, Noa couldn’t resist following the younger teen around like a lovesick puppy, hoping against hope that Mokuba was more confused than mad, or something like that.

"Mokuba…" Noa tried again. God, was Mokuba really going to ignore him all day? How many more classes were they going to have to sit through in silence? Would they even have another chance to talk once lunch was over? So he reached out and tugged at a strand of long hair insistently, not stopping even when Mokuba tried to bat his hand away. "Hey!"

The black-haired teen abruptly stopped and turned around, his eyes reminiscent of clouds gathering right before a thunderstorm. He sucked in a breath, and Noa, sensing a possible argument, quickly grabbed his brother’s arm and dragged him around a corner and into a hallway, which provided a little privacy at least.

Mokuba took a quick look around and seeing few students nearby, whispered harshly at Noa, "Look, I don’t want to talk right now, okay?"

"Why not? We have to talk sometime, and it’s not like we can do it at home."

"Noa…"

"Please, Mokuba… I can’t stand this. Are you mad at me, or at Seto, or… something like that?"

Or something like that? Mokuba made an uncomfortable sound. He had deliberately been trying to keep his mind off the argument from the night before, but in the face of Noa’s question, he couldn’t push it away any longer. Was he mad at Noa? He didn’t really want to answer that. But if he had to be honest about it… yes, he was. Mokuba had heard more of the fight than he should’ve, had heard Noa tell Seto that maybe he liked spending time with Noa better, that he’d rather be with Noa. But that wasn’t true… Noa had thrown those words out like a wild verbal swing, trying to hit Seto where it would hurt most. And just as Mokuba had heard Noa’s angry words to Seto, he had heard his big brother’s retort, that everything he had ever done, he had done for Mokuba. And he had done more than his best given what little he had to work with. So it hurt deeply to see Noa degrade that, as if everything Seto had ever done meant nothing, as if all his sacrifices were worthless… and all because of a fight?

Part of Mokuba still loved Noa, but even that side of him was starting to realize that he couldn’t accept being with someone who’d hurt Seto. Yes, Seto was a strong person. He couldn’t have accomplished all the things he had if he weren’t. But behind that granite wall that he’d put between himself and the world, he was emotionally vulnerable. And he hadn’t let many people get close to him. It had to have wounded him deeply to have someone like Noa - whom he had accepted into their lives - questioning his worth as a big brother, as if the childhood he had thrown away weren’t enough, as if he should have done more. And that was unacceptable. It didn’t matter that it had been a fight, and it didn’t even matter that there undoubtedly had been more mudslinging going on than Mokuba was aware of - Noa had gone too far. And Seto… well, he had definitely toed that line, but now that Mokuba was over his initial shock of seeing what he saw last night, he realized… Seto could have really hurt Noa, and didn’t. He had actually held himself back. And Mokuba was proud of him for having done so.

But… he couldn’t place all the blame on Noa either. Actually, Noa was only really at fault for the things he had said in his fight with Seto. No, Mokuba knew that ultimately, it was he who was responsible for things becoming as bad as they were. He should have listened to Noa and been honest with Seto from the start; he understood that now. That was what had started the whole mess. But he had been unable to think of a way to explain himself to Seto, thinking that his big brother wouldn’t understand or accept their relationship, and had kept pushing off the reveal until it was too late. And now…

Mokuba looked over at Noa, who was standing there silently, waiting for a response. God, he wished he had Yami’s ability to mind link to people… it had to be so much easier conveying emotions that way, since words were never quite enough. Perhaps that was why Yami was able to make things work with Seto. Or maybe it was the fact that Yami was just as pigheaded and stubborn as Seto. Certainly it was Yami who stated with grim determination that he’d go to Kaiba Corp. that morning and talk things through with Seto once and for all. And Mokuba hoped that the former Pharaoh would meet with at least some success because none of them wanted Seto to carry out his crazy plan to drag Mokuba to California with him to get the new theme park ready for opening. Not that Mokuba didn’t want to go… hell, getting out of school early sounded pretty sweet, but to go without Noa AND Yami? That was awful!

Oh God, what if that’s the end of it? Like what if that’s Seto’s way of breaking up with Yami? It seemed like a frighteningly real possibility now. It would destroy Seto… I have to make sure it doesn’t happen!

"Mokuba?" Noa asked hesitantly, his voice barely audible above the background noise. He hadn’t wanted to interrupt whatever internal monologue Mokuba had been carrying with himself, but the younger teen looked more and more distressed by the moment, and now… he looked like he was nearly on the verge of tears.

"What?" the black-haired teen croaked.

"Say something, anything… you’re beginning to worry me."

Mokuba shuffled his feet a little before sullenly stating, "You were right. I should have told Seto the truth way back when."

"Um, okay…"

"But I guess it doesn’t matter now. It doesn’t matter how much I…" Mokuba hesitated, then said dully, "It’s over. I’m sorry." It felt like boulders had been dropped on him with each word uttered. Jesus, he didn’t think it would hurt so bad.

"Wha… why?" Noa gasped before realizing he should lower the volume of his voice. "Don’t tell me that you… don’t you care about us anymore?!"

"I do. Of course I do."

"Then WHY?"

"Noa… believe me, I never wanted to hurt you, ever." Mokuba’s voice cracked a little. "But we can’t go on like this, not at Seto’s expense."

"So this is all because of the fight? I didn’t mean to argue with Seto, but he started it!"

"Doesn’t matter."

Noa hissed in frustration. "I don’t understand. You could at least explain this to me. I’m not the one who was doing the choking!"

"Nii-sama could have done far worse, you know. But if you insisted on it, I’m sure he’d apologize for it."

"Mokuba!"

"I still care about you. And hell, you can even blame me for how things worked out – I deserve it." The look of pain on his face intensified. "But… you messed up too. You did something that I can’t overlook. You hurt Seto, and you used me to do it – again! How could you do that to him? I thought we had gotten past that. But you made him question his role as my big brother, you made him think that he hasn’t sacrificed enough for me, you made him worry that I’d LEAVE him… I wouldn’t ever do that, and you know it!"

"I didn’t…" Noa began to say, but he caught himself. Mokuba was glaring at him, ready to walk off if he even thought of denying it. "I’m sorry. If I said those things, I didn’t mean it. He just made me so angry…"

"I’m sorry too. But I can’t be with someone who’d do that to my nii-sama."

"Doesn’t it matter what he said to me? You didn’t hear the whole conversation. Don’t you think he took some cheap shots too?"

"I’m sure he said some terrible things. I don’t doubt that."

"And that doesn’t matter?"

Mokuba sighed and shook his head sadly. "You can’t use that as an excuse to justify what you did. Noa… don’t you get it? Seto’s given me so much and done so much for me… and you basically made it sound like nothing."

Noa’s hands fisted. Maybe he shouldn’t have said some of the things that he’d said; it was an argument, damn it! But Seto was just as guilty. So why was Mokuba defending him like some sort of saint? "Why is it always Seto this, Seto that, Seto can do no wrong? Even my father, whom he willingly saddled himself with… I never had a chance, did I? Seto just waltzed in and did whatever he wanted. I can’t compete with him."

"It was never a competition."

"Like hell! Fuck this…" Noa half turned away, then turned back. "I thought I could trust you, Mokuba. I thought you cared. I thought that even if no one else wanted me, it was enough that you did." The hurt in his voice was reflected in his eyes.

A distressed squeak was all Mokuba managed for a second, then he breathed, "I did. I still do. But no one, not even you, could take Seto’s place in my heart. You have to understand…"

"I understand all right. I’m in second place, as always. The first loser to cross the line. And who wants to be with a loser?" Noa ran his fingers through his hair angrily, then let out a short laugh eerily reminiscent of Seto’s. "No wonder you didn’t want to tell him… you were ashamed of me!"

"Never… it was never that. I just didn’t… know what to say."

Noa suddenly shut up. Mokuba’s eyes had gone misty. Somewhere in the background, the bell rang, signifying the end of lunch. Suddenly looking defeated, the green-haired teen quickly mumbled, "I would have done anything for you. I still would. I wish you felt the same. I just wanted you to know that." He glanced distractedly at the clock. "Class."

"Yeah…"

"I’ll… see you later." He bent down to pick up his backpack, giving Mokuba one last look before turning around and walking away.

"If it’s any consolation, it wasn't really you... I’m the one who screwed things up from the start," Mokuba whispered at Noa’s retreating back. "I should have told him…"

* * *

It was impossible to even consider going to class after that. What would be the point anyway? Why would he care about plants and photosynthesis and other pointless crap when he had just broken up with Noa, and was no closer to getting things resolved with Seto? So while Mokuba dazedly wondered about why life was so unfair, his feet carried him past his biology class and out the doors of the science wing, down the stairs and past the basketball courts. And then… he heard someone call out his name.

"Huh?" Mokuba looked around, trying to orient himself.

"I said, ‘Hi, Mokuba.’"

So distracted was he that it took him a moment to recognize Noa’s ex-"girlfriend" perched on one of the metal support beams that held up the bleachers. How’d he end up walking all the way out there? And why was she there too? "Yamato?"

She smiled slightly and nodded. "Ditching?"

Considering that he had walked right past his class... "Um… I guess."

"Me too. This is a pretty good spot to ditch to. Oh, and Kouya… you can come back out now. It’s just your little ‘boyfriend.’ Or should I say, ex-boyfriend."

Kouya? "I didn’t know honor students ditched," he told the black-haired girl as she stepped out from the shaded recesses.

"I don’t… not usually… just, I wanted to see Yamato, that’s all." She blushed faintly.

"Ahh…" Mokuba responded, not sure of what else to say. It seemed like nothing from that past Friday’s events had affected them at all. He wished he had gotten off so lucky.

As if reading the direction of his thoughts, Yamato cocked her head and asked thoughtfully, "Hey kid, so… what happened after we left? Did you get grounded or anything? Your big brother looked really steamed, and he’s kinda scary like that, if you don’t mind my saying."

"After you left… the shit hit the fan," Mokuba answered glumly.

"Hmm? Was it that bad?"

"Worse."

"I’m sorry to hear that," said Kouya sincerely.

"Yeah," Yamato added.

Mokuba swallowed hard. "Um, I didn’t get you guys in trouble too, did I?" he asked. He hoped the answer was no… he’d feel even worse if they had gotten busted by their families too.

Yamato shook her head. "Nah, Kouya told her folks that you were shy, and that’s why you didn’t walk her to the door. And my parents weren’t even home."

"But what if you family had found out? Then what?"

"Would it matter?" The blonde snorted. "So I’d get yelled at and grounded and told that I was immoral and going to hell. So what? The moment I turned 18, I’d be so out of there. Then they couldn’t tell me what to do. We’d get an apartment and everything, right Kouya?"

"I couldn’t ever do that," Mokuba said, aghast at the thought of leaving Seto like that. He couldn’t even begin to fathom things getting so bad that he’d have to take it to such extremes.

"Well, you could, but… nah, you’re a good kid. I like that about you. Noa too."

Mokuba almost wanted to tell her what had happened – after all, she was just blurting out her opinion without a care in the world – but so much had happened, and it really wasn’t her business anyway…

"So what is your brother’s objection anyways? You’re too young, Noa’s your stepbrother, you should be straight… hmm?"

"I…" Mokuba shrugged helplessly. Since he hadn’t actually talked to Seto about it, he really wasn’t sure. "I think… it’s mostly that I didn’t tell him the truth."

She shrugged. "No biggie. He’ll get over it."

"No he won’t, at least, not like that. You don’t know how my brother is."

"Huh. You really telling me that you never lied to him? Ever?" Yamato laughed. "I don’t believe it."

Mokuba went to deny it, then realized, he had no right to do so. Once or a hundred times over, a lie was still a lie. And he had perpetuated it for months. "I should have told him. He deserved to know."

"Please. What if you had, and he told you to stay away from Noa?"

"If that was his decision, I would have done as he asked."

"You know… not that it’s really any of my business," Yamato continued on airily, though she was thinking that she had figured out what the younger teen was leaving unsaid, "but nothing says that you HAVE to choose between your big brother and your boyfriend…"

"Huh?"

"You’re really close to your big brother. Must be nice. I’m kinda jealous." Yamato smiled faintly and put her hands behind her head. "You’d do anything for him, right?"

"Of course!"

"And he’d do anything for you too I bet," Kouya said, picking up on the conversation.

Mokuba nodded in agreement, absolutely certain of that.

"So would he really force you to choose between him and Noa if he knew how you truly felt? You think he’d want to make you unhappy?" Yamato chided.

"No… he wouldn’t…"

The blonde senior grinned and put her hand on Mokuba’s shoulder. "You should talk to him then and tell him what you just told me. If he’s as great as you say he is, he’ll get over it. Really – trust me on this. No reason you can’t have both of them in your life . It’s not like it’s MY family we’re talking about here." She winked. "Oh, and you might want to make up with Noa too while you’re at it. You don’t really want it to end like this, do you?

He looked up, startled. "How’d you know that Noa and I…"

"Silly, girls just know this stuff! Besides… you should see yourself. You look like someone either broke your heart, or ran over your dog. And as far as I know, you don’t have a dog."

"But… I think I really hurt him."

"If Noa really loves you, it won’t matter," Kouya replied sagely. "Same applies to your older brother. All relationships have their ups and downs. Even Yamato and I get into disagreements sometimes."

Mokuba began to protest, then caught himself. Why was he arguing back? Didn’t he want to make up with both Seto and Noa? He already knew that he had to explain things to Seto, and soon. Perhaps the girls were right. Not that they were saying anything revolutionary, just… they made sense. If I had approached it like this in the beginning, with Nii-sama… I bet things would have never gotten so out of control.

Seto would forgive him, no matter how hurt he was by the deception. Noa, on the other hand… No, what am I doing? Kouya and Yamato are right; no more running away from this! If Noa loves me, he won’t just walk away from me. He'd give me a second chance. But… we have a lot that we need to talk about. And I have a lot to apologize for.

If Seto and Yami could try and work through their problems to hold on to their relationship, there was no reason that he and Noa couldn’t do the same. If nothing else, none of them were quitters. Kaibas stuck it out until the bitter end.

"Ah, I see the light bulb going off in your head," Yamato said smugly. "We making sense to you now?"

Mokuba managed a crooked half-smile. "Yeah, I think so…"

"It’ll be okay, kiddo. You’ll see. You’ll thank me for it later…"

"Oh, I don’t think young Mr. Kaiba will be thanking you any time soon, Miss Nakano…" a male voice interjected. All three teens turned to find the P.E. teacher, Mr. Karita, standing there with arms folded. "Allergic to class are we?"

Kouya just put her face in her hands while Yamato pasted on a strained smile and greeted the man with, "Oh, hiiiiiiiii…"

"Yes. Hi. The three of you have detention."

* * *

Seto began winding down his workday at 5:00 so that he’d be home by 6:00. As promised, there would be no hiding in the office… he was going to go home and talk to Mokuba and get the whole hellish mess straightened out one way or another. But he’d be lying if he said that he wasn’t dreading it. He didn’t want to hear Mokuba say, "I didn’t tell you because I didn’t trust you," or, "You weren’t around, so I figured it didn’t matter. It’s not like you noticed anyway." It was funny… he could face an auditorium full of people and not give a damn about anything they had to throw in his face, but the thought of being faced with his brother’s judgement was nearly enough to stop his heart.

The drive home went blindingly fast. Seto even checked the speedometer to make sure he wasn’t hitting the gas a little harder than he should. In a way, he supposed he was eager to get home and just "get things over with." But… he was trying to remain optimistic. That was what Yami had been trying to impress on him; after all, the ex-spirit had been pestering him the whole afternoon, trying to keep his spirits up. At least he had managed to keep his guardianship plans under wraps for the moment, not wanting to ruin the surprise early. Once the paperwork was finalized, and a legal hearing was conducted and the papers filed, Yami truly would become a member of their family in every way.

Hmm… family… For so long, it had been just him and Mokuba. But he could no longer confine his concerns to just the two of them. Yami and Noa both had to be taken into account as well, and even though Yami hadn’t said anything about it, Seto knew he had to talk to his stepbrother as well. He couldn’t just have him living there with them if he couldn’t trust him and didn’t know where he stood. Seto hadn’t mentioned it to anyone yet, but if things didn’t get better between all four of them immediately, he was going to suspend the opening of the theme park and remain in Domino until things improved. As a business decision, it would be completely irresponsible – he’d lose face, the company would take a sizable hit, rumors would fly. But as the big brother and the head of the household, it was the only logical course of action he could take.

Then before he knew it, he was on the familiar streets leading up to his house, and through the front gates and onto the sweeping driveway. But as he pulled under the porte-cochere, he saw an unexpected sight. There wasn’t just one figure sitting in the shady patch of grass by the drive, but two. Kuriboh he expected; he was just a dumb animal that had formed some weird attachment to him, but Mokuba was there as well, petting the pony’s thick mane that so resembled his own unruly hair. He stood up as Seto began opening the car door, meeting his big brother’s rather astonished look with an indescribable one of his own.

"Mokuba…" Seto murmured. Perhaps his little brother was ready to talk to him too?

"Hi Nii-sama, how was your day?" the black-haired teen asked, his voice a little strained. He went and held the door open for Seto and even fetched the briefcase from the passenger’s seat afterwards.

Seto felt a strange pang upon seeing that; Mokuba used to greet him after work and take in his briefcase every day, but after Yami moved in, he started doing it less frequently until he didn’t even bother coming out anymore. He had been barely more than a bright-eyed boy then… but now, now he was in that moody, awkward stage between childhood and adult. And Seto couldn’t figure out how his little brother had grown up so quickly.

"Nii-sama, I need to talk to you," Mokuba said slowly.

"Yeah… same here."

The brothers stared at each other for a long moment, then Seto turned towards the front stairs, Mokuba falling into step beside him. Neither one uttered another word as they headed into the house, shutting the door softly behind them.

* * *

TBC

Author’s Notes:

July 15, 2006