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. "Come to Your Senses" is from the musical Tick, Tick… Boom!, by Jonathan Larson. This is a not-for-profit fanwork and I do not own any of these characters.
Summary: Talking, negotiating, and a beginning to understanding.
Status: 9 / ?
Archived at: http://www.phenixsol.com/Miko/FF/

* * *

Taboo

Ch. 8: Come to Your Senses

* * *

Yami gave Mokuba and Seto a few minutes to get in and head upstairs, then wandered up himself in search of Noa. The younger teen had come home in a strange mood, silent and morose, not unlike Seto when his day at the office had gone badly. And Yami figured he knew a thing or two about how to deal with the brooding type. Besides, Mokuba had been very un-Mokuba-like as well, so Yami reasonably assumed something must have happened between them during the school day, and just as he couldn’t leave Seto alone to deal with whatever was going on, he wasn’t going to do the same to Noa.

He found the green-haired teen curled up on his bed, legs tucked up, arms around his knees. He looked like he had lost his best friend. Maybe he did.

Yami knocked lightly against the doorframe. "Hey."

"I’m not hungry," Noa mumbled.

"That’s good. I didn’t make anything yet."

Noa lifted his head slightly, just enough to slant Yami a look. "I don’t want to talk about it."

"About what?" Yami asked casually.

"Don’t ask."

"I just did."

Noa’s eyebrows knit together. Just who did Yami think he was, trying to butt in on something that had nothing to do with him? He was no relationship expert. Hell, he’d been kicked out of his bedroom for Mokuba! "You know, you’ll never mean as much to Seto as Mokuba does. You’ll always be in second place," he said, sneering.

Strangely, Yami didn’t seem to react, other than to take a few steps towards the bed. "I don’t see that as being a problem," he answered thoughtfully, his calm appearance hiding the fact that he was rather curious as to where this was all going.

"You’re shitting me. How can that not be a problem? Or is the sex so good that you don’t even care?" Noa snapped.

Crimson eyes narrowed slightly. "You know that’s not true," Yami said, but seeing nothing but a challenging anger in Noa’s eyes, he sighed. "You really don’t understand it, huh? This isn’t some sort of competition. I’ve always known that Mokuba is the most important person in Seto’s life - I expected it, and I love him for it. How could I be with someone who’d push aside the person that meant the most to them, just to be with me? I wouldn’t want to be with someone like that. And in the same way, Seto understands and accepts that Yugi’s well-being is my primary concern."

Noa shook his head as if dismissing what the older teen was saying. "Sounds to me like you’re both just deluding yourselves - I don’t see how that can work. Or are you both so desperate that that’s good enough for you?"

"Did you hear anything that I said? Neither one of us is ‘settling.’ I could not hope for anything more from a lover. And I know Seto feels the same. By the gods, you even helped to set us up," Yami ground out, letting that memory hold back some of the anger he was beginning to feel.

"Yeah, I did. Seto needed to get laid."

"Damn it, you honestly think that that is all there is between us?! Just sex?" the crimson-eyed teen snarled.

"Yes. No. I don’t know!" Noa snapped. "Why’d you come in here anyways? Seto wanting you to keep a closer eye on me?"

Yami smiled grimly. "I came up here because I noticed that you were upset, even more so than before. And I thought maybe you’d want someone to talk to. But if all you’re intending to do is yell at me, I’ll leave." And he began to turn around.

"Whatever. I didn’t ask you to come give me a pep talk you know. You think you’re like my mom or dad or something, but you’re not!"

The former Pharaoh stopped in his tracks, and looked back at Noa as if he had just been reminded of how young the seething teen really was. It was a sobering realization. It really had slipped his mind that Noa was just a kid – and an orphaned one at that – being raised by a man who was barely older than him, one that had once been a hated enemy. One who had moved into his home, stolen away his father’s attention, taken over the company that he was meant to inherit… and now, was forcibly separating him from the one person he truly felt close to.

"No, I’m not, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care," Yami said slowly, turning to look Noa in the eye. "Seto didn’t ask me to come talk to you, or watch over you. I came in here because… look, Noa, you and Mokuba are almost like brothers to me. Maybe we’re not a conventional family, but… you belong here just as much as I do." Seeing Noa about to make a quick comeback, Yami hastily added, "Believe me, if Seto thought otherwise, you’d be long gone by now."

"Then why is he…" Noa gave a low growl, then blurted out, "Mokuba broke up with me earlier."

Yami went and sat himself carefully at the edge of the bed, an arm’s span away from Noa. "I’m sorry to hear that."

"I don’t want your sympathy!"

Yami fought the sudden urge to smile. Noa really was a lot more like Seto than either one of them realized, but he figured he ought to be grateful of that fact. It made him a little easier to deal with. "All right then. But would you at least consider listening to my advice?"

"I don’t see what you could possibly say or do that would make things better. You can’t even get things sorted out with your own boyfriend who, may I remind you, is choosing to leave you here while he goes off to America with Mokuba."

The ex-spirit scratched his chin. "Actually… he changed his mind."

"He did?" Noa was a little surprised. Sure, Yami had told them of his plan to talk to Seto at work earlier in the day, but he didn’t think that anything would change because of it. "So…?"

"Seto’s going alone. All three of us are staying behind."

"I don’t see how that’s better for you two."

"Well… I can’t say I was really thinking of myself when I agreed to it," Yami pointed out, watching the younger teen carefully for any sign of understanding. Noa still seemed a bit too angry to understand, but then he sucked in a quick breath and his hands unclenched a little, and Yami knew he was finally listening. "You and Mokuba both have a little over a month left of school. So it makes sense for you two to stay in Domino, at least until summer vacation. But as mature as you both are, it would be irresponsible of us to have you stay here alone."

"You… really…" Noa’s voice trailed off momentarily. "I… shouldn’t have gotten mad at you earlier. Sorry. It’s just… I don’t know what to do now that Mokuba’s decided we can’t be together."

"I think… well, Mokuba needs to settle things with Seto first. Then we’ll see. But there’s no reason why you two can’t patch things up if Seto learns to accept it."

Noa let out a short, exhausted laugh. "Seto first, huh? As always… Maybe being second best is enough for you, but it’s not enough for me."

Yami shook his head and tried a slightly different approach because Noa really wasn’t getting it. Perhaps he’d only understand once he had the opportunity to learn it for himself, and for that, he needed to make up with Mokuba. "If you love Mokuba - and I know you do – don’t you want what’s best for him? Shouldn’t his happiness be more important than anything, even more than your own?"

"Yeah…" The green-haired teen pursed his lips. "I guess so. I mean, I’d literally do anything for him…"

"So even though you think it’s unfair that he puts Seto’s needs above yours, would you turn him away if he came back to you? Would you break his heart like that?"

Noa blinked. "I wouldn’t ever want to hurt him. If I did, I didn’t mean it…"

"So then you’d be willing to work with what you have, little as it may seem to you, and build things from there? Building a relationship requires risk taking and effort. So are you up to the challenge? Are you going to take that chance? Or is he not really worth it?"

"Yes! Of course he is… I told you, I’d do anything for him!"

A slow smile spread across the former Pharaoh’s face. "Then stop feeling sorry for yourself… things can still work out between you two. Believe me."

Noa wanted to argue back, but… he was so tired of it all. Perhaps Yami was being unreasonably optimistic, but his optimism was certainly better than the alternative. Noa glanced over at Yami’s encouraging smile. The crimson-eyed teen was a pretty good person to talk to. He listened, and… he seemed to understand. So maybe it was a bit of leftover honesty and a growing sense of trust that prompted Noa to say the next thing that he did. "You know, I don’t remember… if my father ever told my mother he loved her. Actually, I don’t think he did. He never really had anything nice to say to her. They fought a lot, often about me."

Yami scooted over, closing the space between the two of them, and placed his hand gently on Noa’s shoulder. "Sorry to hear that," he said, and he meant it.

The younger teen looked at him with wide eyes. "You and Seto argue sometimes too, but… it’s kinda different," Noa wondered aloud. "At least, well… he has told you that he loves you, right?"

Yami smiled at the memory. Seto had thought he was asleep at the time, or at least incoherent enough to not remember it, but he had said it all the same, and Yami had caught it right before falling asleep. "He has. And while it would be nice if he felt more comfortable saying it, it’s not really necessary, because I see it in his eyes, I hear it in his voice, I feel it…"

"Okay, okay… I get it." Noa rolled his eyes, but he was smiling a little too. "Geez, been reading romance novels much?"

Yami folded his arms. "… Noa."

The younger teen shrugged in a half-hearted apology, then his smile wilted a bit. "I didn’t mean it like that. I just don’t want to end up like my parents. I’d rather be in a relationship like the one you and Seto have, even if I don’t get how you guys manage to make it work. You think Mokuba and I… could really ever feel that strongly about each other?"

"Don’t you feel that way already?"

"I do..."

"And Mokuba?"

Noa didn’t answer for a while, then said, "I thought he did."

"Then he does still. That’s something even Seto can’t change. Have faith in him."

* * *

Mokuba ended up accompanying Seto to his office without another word exchanged between them. But they didn’t need to speak to know that it would be best to have their talk in a neutral yet familiar environment, and the office seemed the most logical choice…

Once the door was shut behind them, Mokuba figured it was time for him to finally explain himself. He still didn’t want to, but he wasn’t going to back out now that he had initiated it. So he took in a deep breath and began to say, "Nii-sama, I wanted…" just as Seto started saying, "Look, Mokuba…"

They both stopped, looked at each other, and then, as if they were mimicking one another, each motioned for the other to continue. The corner of Seto’s mouth twitched in momentary amusement. "Go on, Mokuba," he encouraged.

"I, um…" Mokuba haltingly began. At Seto’s expectant look, he took a moment to compose himself, then said, "I wanted to say… Nii-sama… I should have told you. I shouldn’t have hidden the truth from you. But I didn’t know what to say, and… well… I dunno. I just… God, Seto, don’t hate me."

"How could I ever hate you?" the brunette asked, aghast.

"I didn’t mean it like that, I just… I wish I didn’t disappoint you. You deserve better."

"Disappointed? I’m not disa…" Seto suddenly took a step back, uncertainty in his eyes. Did Mokuba really think that he’d be so fickle in his loyalties that he’d let something like this divide them? Yes, he was hurt that he’d lost Mokuba’s trust, but he couldn’t really say he was surprised by it. He deserved it.

"Yes you are. You have to be. You’ve always been honest with me. But I wasn’t being honest with you."

"Mokuba…"

"It… didn’t start off as a lie," the black-haired teen continued, becoming almost eager in his rush to get everything out before he lost the courage to do so. "We just didn’t tell you. I didn’t know how. And then we met the girls and we kinda thought we could use each other to go out and all that… and then we told you they were our girlfriends so it wouldn’t seem suspicious, and that’s when it became a lie. Worse yet… Noa knew it was wrong. He wanted to tell you. And I wouldn’t let him."

Seto shook his head, as if his brother were speaking in tongues. "Wait… Noa wanted… he wanted to tell me?"

"Yes," Mokuba mumbled. He could feel unwanted tears threatening to well up, blurring his vision momentarily. If Seto wasn’t disappointed before, he had to be now. But a surprisingly gentle hand alighted on his cheek and slowly lifted his chin.

"Why didn’t you want to tell me?"

"… You’re… not mad?"

"At you? Never."

"I… I thought you’d be mad. And I knew you wouldn’t approve…"

Seto opened his mouth, then shut it, then opened it again to blurt out, "You didn’t think I’d approve because you didn’t trust me, how I’d react to it. Because you’re afraid of me."

"No! Of course I trust you! And I’m not afraid of you at all! But… well, maybe I was a little worried about how’d you react. ‘Cause I thought you’d blame Noa for it, like he had done something wrong."

"Hn. Maybe you were right not to trust me then. Look at what I did last night." God, it hurt to think how badly he’d screwed up… again!

"Nii-sama… you didn’t mean it."

"You don’t accidentally try to choke someone! Fuck… I don’t know what I was thinking! I didn’t actually want to hurt him, but I was so mad. He said… he said he’d take you away from me. Not that… I’d expect you to stay here forever, and certainly not on my account, but…"

"I told you before… I won’t ever leave you, if that’s what you want. I’ll always be here for you!" Mokuba exclaimed, then his voice dropped in timbre. "And… I *do* trust you. I always will." He hesitated for a moment, then plunged ahead. "I know… nothing can change the past. But it’s okay. I’ve never held it against you."

"Mokuba… I’m so sorry…"

"Don’t be. Why are you apologizing when I’m the one that screwed up this time?"

"Because… I betrayed you first. And it was much worse than a simple lie. So how could you possibly trust me again?"

"It’s simple. It’s because I love you."

The young billionaire’s breathing grew harsh, and his eyes darkened slightly. "… You say that so easily, as if what I did was no big deal. I’ll never understand it."

"I wish I could make you understand. I wish you could see yourself the way I see you. But… couldn’t you perhaps try and accept it, at least?"

"How can I when I can’t ever forgive myself?!"

"But *I* forgive you. I forgave you a long time ago. Doesn’t that count for anything? I love you, Nii-sama. You’re a much better person than you give yourself credit for. You still believe in me despite what I’ve done. And I’m very sorry that I lied to you and made you question how I feel about you. It was stupid of me; I made a mistake. I should have listened to Noa. I should have listened to my own heart. But I knew you’d disapprove, and I didn’t want to lose Noa… I was being so selfish."

Seto grew silent. He knew Mokuba meant what he said. He could see the earnestness in his eyes. But it was a relief actually hearing it from him. It was as if a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders, though some of the burden still remained. It was all right he supposed… he could never forget or forgive himself for what he had done. And that was how it ought to be. But Mokuba said he wasn’t holding it against him, that he still loved him and trusted him, which was more than he could have hoped for. Maybe someday, he’d even learn to simply accept it, just as Mokuba said.

However, he didn’t have time to worry about his own problems when Mokuba was still plagued by unresolved issues. "So then… why did you think I wouldn’t approve?" Seto asked, methodically returning to the conversation as he leaned his hip against the edge of his desk. "Because… Noa’s a guy? Or because you consider Noa to be your brother? Or because… just because it’s Noa?""

"But he’s not my brother! I mean, I know that’d be wrong. Well, I mean, if he really were, I wouldn’t have approached him in the first place."

Seto sighed, then started. "Wait… YOU approached him?"

Mokuba took a shaky breath, then nodded slowly. "Did you really think that Noa would’ve made a move first? It wasn’t that he wasn’t interested, he just wasn’t sure how I felt about it. I think… maybe he thought it would have ruined things between us if he had taken that step." Then he looked back up at his brother. "He was worried about how you’d react, too. He thought… you’d make us break up, that you’d send him away… but it doesn’t matter now."

Seto just stared at the teen for a long minute. There was… so much to think about. Mokuba had approached Noa? So the relationship... it was mutual? Not just mutual, but… Mokuba wanted to be with Noa? Why? It was true that they’d become very close very quickly, maybe more quickly than Seto himself felt comfortable with, but he always knew that Mokuba was a better judge of character than he was, so he hadn’t questioned it. He thought they became fast friends because Noa was essentially Mokuba’s age, and that Mokuba liked having a buddy around. Never did it occur to him that they’d be interested in each other. The subject of their sexual orientation never came up. Hell, the subject of sex never came up. He hadn’t thought… well, Mokuba and Noa weren’t THAT grown up yet, right? Did they really need to know that sort of…

God, I keep thinking he’s a little kid. But he’s not… not even close. Why was it so hard to reconcile the mental image of the little boy who’d eagerly follow him around with the somber adolescent now standing before him? Mokuba was no longer a child. Seto knew that, and yet… he was having a hard time remembering it. The black-haired teen wasn’t like Kuriboh the pony, fated to remain cute and tiny, but more like a young colt hitting his growth spurt, all long limbs and awkward in carriage. He had to grow up someday, regardless if Seto was ready for it or not. And he was already at least as tall as, or more likely even taller, than Yami. Seto had the vague thought that perhaps that was even one of Yami’s t-shirts that Mokuba was wearing. Had he grown so quickly that even his clothes couldn’t keep pace with him?

What? Seto silently berated himself for mentally wandering off topic. What else had Mokuba been saying? Noa had been worried that he’d send him away? Well, he hadn’t done that; he had definitely considered it, but it didn’t happen. It was true that he had broken them up in a fashion, but… "Wait… you said something about it not mattering anymore. Why not? I technically haven’t decided anything yet." Wow, even he couldn’t believe he just said that. Was he actually going to consider giving his approval to such an unlikely relationship? But Mokuba seemed to want it so badly…

"What do you mean? What decision?"

"Well, I didn’t say I was going to make you break up with him."

"Wha… Are you crazy?"

Maybe. "I didn’t say I’d let you stay together either, I’m just saying that…"

Mokuba’s lower lip began trembling, then he reluctantly said, "Well, it’s not something you have to worry about anymore, because… I’ve already ended it. Told him today."

"You did?"

"Yeah…"

Seto scratched his head. Did they decide it wasn’t worth pursuing, push come to shove and all that? If that was the case, maybe they were better off not being together. He didn’t want his little brother with someone lacking in dedication. Or did it have something to do with the fight the previous night? That was a possibility. Or had something else happened? Regardless, he had to know. "Why?"

"Because… you were so upset about it. And I was responsible for that. I can’t stand seeing you unhappy, Nii-sama. I had to do something! Plus, Noa said some terrible things to you last night… things that weren’t true, things that aren’t forgivable."

None of those things touched on how Mokuba felt however. "But… did YOU want to break up with him?"

"I did it for you," Mokuba answered in a small voice.

"But what do you want? Mokuba?"

"I just want… I want whatever you want. I did it for you," he repeated.

Seto was baffled. "But why?" It didn’t make sense… why would Mokuba think that he had to do anything for him?

"Damn it, Nii-sama… I just didn’t want you to break up with Yami!"

The brunette blinked. That was quite a jump in subject matter. "I’m not breaking up with Yami. Why would you think that? And what does that have to do with you and Noa?"

"But… you…" Mokuba’s voice trailed off for a moment. He had been so sure… "You guys have been fighting, and you kicked him out of your room for me, and you’re taking me to America and leaving Yami behind, and…"

Seto sighed and rubbed at his forehead, trying to think of the best way to explain things. "I have something to show you," he finally decided to say. Might as well show Mokuba first as it had a lot to do with him. Actually… he should have consulted Mokuba before he even considered it, for it was too big a decision to make alone, and it did primarily affect him. "I’ll be right back."

Mokuba frowned as his brother left the room. What in the world? Was he going to get Yami or… no, he said it was something… What could it be? Mokuba considered everything from a boarding school brochure to plane tickets for all four of them to California. Really, given the way Seto’s mind worked, anything was possible. He just hoped it wasn’t anything bad.

An eternity seemed to go by before Seto returned, a slim stack of papers in his hand. He looked slightly nervous as he silently held them out to Mokuba, who accepted them with some trepidation. Taking a deep breath, the black-haired teen finally looked down, dreading what he might…

Oh. My. God! Mokuba sucked in another breath as he quickly took in what was laid out before him: a draft of a petition to make Yami his and Noa’s co-legal guardian. "Are you serious? Nii-sama…"

Seto frowned, unsure of what to make of his brother’s reaction. "I know I should have talked to you first, but I wasn’t sure what to say. I didn’t think you’d object. It’s just a draft. Yami doesn’t know yet, so it’s not too late to…"

"Nii-sama, I’m not objecting," Mokuba interrupted hastily, seeing the direction that Seto’s thoughts were taking him. "It’s awesome! Really! It’ll be like… Yami will really become part of our family. Not that I need a court document to tell me that, but… um, you know what I mean, right?"

"I’m glad you approve," Seto said simply, his eyes softening in relief. "And yeah, I don’t need some judge to tell me Yami belongs here, but… I wanted…" Seto faltered, then shrugged. He didn’t quite know how to convey what he was thinking, but Mokuba was nodding as if he understood. "He means a lot to me," he ended up saying.

"I was afraid you were gonna break up with him."

"I didn’t."

"Yeah, but it looked kind of bad there, for a little bit. I thought… maybe you considered it."

"Did I think about it?" Seto mulled that over, then shrugged again. He might as well be honest if he expected Mokuba to be honest in return. "Yes."

Mokuba bit back the response dancing at the tip of his tongue. He wanted to chide his brother for saying something so foolish, but he knew that it was true. Seto would do anything for him, had always done everything for him. He’d give up Yami in a heartbeat if he thought he had to. But it was time for Seto to understand that just as he wanted the best for Mokuba, Mokuba wanted the same in return for him. It was just a matter of wording it in a way that Seto would comprehend and accept.

Finally, Mokuba said, "You used to be so different; you wouldn’t eat, you wouldn’t sleep… you were so stressed and unhappy. Then Yami came along and things really changed for the better. He’s helped you deal with work, and us, and with, well… everything! I never knew that being in a relationship could make such a difference, but it has. And the two of you taught me that. So I don’t even want to think about you breaking up with Yami, ever! Your happiness means everything to me, and it makes me happy too."

Seto silently absorbed that information, then gave Mokuba a slow smile, one that made the younger teen hesitantly smile back. No matter how often he saw it, there was something wonderful about seeing that expression on his sibling’s face.

But there was something that Seto needed to correct his brother on. "What you forgot Mokuba, is that I need you to be happy too. For yourself. When it comes down to it, it’s the only thing that really matters to me." His smile faded a little. "So please… don’t ever think you have to hide anything from me. I’ll never reject you. I’ll never be disappointed in you. You’ll always be my little brother, no matter who you choose to be with, or what you do. Though… I *hope* you’re not getting any ideas from what Yami and I do when… well, you know…"

Mokuba eyed his brother. "We didn’t have sex. We didn’t even come close."

"That’s… good."

The black-haired teen shuffled his feet a little. "Did you really mean what you said though, that… well, maybe Noa and I could… date? Sorta? I mean, not like… not like you and Yami. No one else would know, for one thing. I know it would cause problems."

"Well, I can’t make any promises yet, but… I’ll think about it." Seto reached a hand out to ruffle Mokuba’s hair just a bit. "You still want to be with him, don’t you?" he stated.

"He was asking for all or nothing. I can’t do that." Mokuba sighed. "I guess… I need him to understand that. And accept it. But I want to try again, at least… that’s if you’re okay with it."

"We’ll have to see. I guess I should talk to him again." At Mokuba’s slightly panicked look, Seto added, "Talk, not argue or fight."

"… Okay."

"And maybe you should stay… to play referee. Just in case," Seto conceded.

A quick nod. "I can do that."

The brunette tilted his head back and took a deep breath. "Well, no time like the present… come on, let’s go." And he pushed away from the desk he’d been leaning against, and headed for the door.

* * *

TBC

Author’s Notes:

August 19, 2006