Title: 'Tis the Season
Author: bnomiko
Rating: PG-13
Pairing(s): Seto + Yami (main), Anzu + Yugi, Mai + Jou, Malik + Bakura, Rafael + Valon + Amelda
Spoilers: none
Warnings: swearing
Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! is the creation of Kazuki Takahashi. This is a not-for-profit fanwork and I do not own any of these characters.
Summary: Seto and Pegasus have a one-on-one, as do Yami and Valon.
Status: 2 / ?
Archived at: http://www.phenixsol.com/Miko/FF/

* * *

'Tis the Season

Ch. 2: The Gift

* * *

The first three days of the holiday break went by in a blur. Seto and Yami took full advantage of the fact that Yugi, Anzu, Sugoroku, Mokuba and Noa were willing to play host for the multiple trips to KaibaLand and various other tourist attractions that keep their out-of-town visitors away from the house for extended periods of time. But by the time Saturday rolled around, Seto was going a wee bit stir crazy from being at home for such a long stretch of time and started hinting that he'd like to check in on things at the office, despite the fact that the entire company was on vacation until after New Year's.

Sure enough, Yami remained true to his word and readily agreed that it would be a good idea for Seto to get some business matters with Pegasus out of the way. And Pegasus agreed to go although he wasn't exactly eager to talk business during his vacation, but he figured he'd make an exception in this case since there were a few things he wanted to settle once and for all. He only hoped that Seto would be receptive to what he had to offer on the proposal and contract he had already written up.

So while the others began discussing their afternoon activities, Seto pulled his Koenigsegg CCR out of the garage and headed to Kaiba Corp. with Pegasus. And almost immediately, the silver-haired CEO made a mental note to never ride in a car that Seto was driving ever again. Maybe his younger counterpart was just THAT eager to get back to work since the sleek sports car was tearing up the city streets at a ridiculous rate of speed, but one glance at Seto's face made him reconsider his assessment. The brunette was apparently driving like a bat out of hell for the sheer pleasure of it, or at least he hoped that was what that maniac grin indicated. And one did not purchase a performance vehicle of that caliber for taking it slow. Still, since Pegasus didn't exactly share Seto's need for speed, the experience was more nerve-wracking than impressive.

When they finally pulled into the empty parking structure adjoining the Kaiba Corp. building a short while later, Pegasus breathed a silent prayer and pried his fingers off the handholds. Following Seto to the entrance of the building, he waited silently as the other CEO went through a series of security procedures to unlock the doors. Since all the employees had the week off, the building was completely and utterly empty, so only the soft hum of the auxiliary lights in the lobby accompanied the sound of their shoes tapping rhythmically on the glossy tiled floor as they strode to the executive's elevator. More passwords and scans were done to activate the elevator before they finally began the ride up to the top floor. Once there, Seto unlocked the door to his office and simply said, "Have a seat; I'll be in in a few moments," before wandering off to check the fax machine.

Pegasus smiled to himself. It was funny that Seto would just leave him in the office alone after all the security precautions and passwords that had to be satisfied to get into the office in the first place. He hadn't been certain if Seto was ready to bury the hatchet so to speak, but perhaps… he was. This really was the first time he could recall the younger CEO allowing him to enter his office without escort, so he definitely was going to return the favor by behaving himself, but still, he couldn't resist taking the opportunity to look around the office while waiting for Seto.

The large space was still minimally furnished as it had been years ago when he had first seen it, but of course back then, the room still reeked of Gozaburo's influence. Seto had subsequently wiped it clean with such efficiency that it had an almost sterile quality to it. But now it had a little more life, and there was no doubt in his mind that Yami was at least partially responsible for all the little details that made the office look much more lived in. A few expensive knick knacks on the credenza, all dragon related of course… a huge, unusual metal sculpture of a Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragon rising out from one corner as if guarding the door… dozens of enlarged reproductions of magazine covers lined up on the walls… a scattering of snapshots in streamlined silver frames on the large desk. Those caught his attention, and he bent down a little to peer at them.

There were one 5x7 and three 4x6 photos. The smaller pictures were just candid snapshots of Yami, Noa and Mokuba. In contrast, the centerpiece was a formal portrait taken in a studio setting, with Seto sitting on a polished black wooden pillar and Noa standing to the left, Mokuba to the right, and Yami standing behind Seto. The young CEO was wearing an all-white suit with the only hint of black being that ubiquitous belt with YAMI on the buckle. Noa and Mokuba were both wearing black suits with white shirts and black ties. And Yami was wearing a solid black suit with the only hint of white coming from the contrasting collar of his dress shirt, and instead of a tie he had opted to wear his leather collar around his throat. It was a very striking picture indeed, formal at first glance but playful as well, almost orchestrated like a Broadway show with the over-the-top outfits.

Stepping back, Pegasus wondered what was taking Seto so long. To pass some more time, he began looking at the spate of framed enlargements from magazine covers on the walls. Now these are interesting... Many were from business publications, though there were a couple from magazines that were better known for their celebrity gossip or fashion advice than for business. And there were a handful of covers that had Yami on them instead of Seto. But the largest, most eye-catching piece was a huge enlargement of the most recent cover of TIME Magazine, which featured both Yami and Seto. "The Kings of Games" screamed the title, and beneath that stood the two great duelists, smirking at the camera. They each held five Duel Monsters cards in their hands… Yami with his left, Seto with his right, and their arms crossed one another as if they were flashing a glimpse of their cards to the other. But with the proximity of their bodies and the challenging looks on their faces and the way their hands were positioned, it almost looked like they were about to throw down their cards and began tearing off one another's clothing.

The silver-haired man chuckled. He wondered if that had been done that intentionally. Seto… probably not. Yami… well, he assumed Yami was the one who had coordinated the portrait session that had lead to the photo on Seto's desk, so he could definitely see Yami pushing the magazine for proofs and selecting that one shot as the one they ought to use. All so that he could get the cover blown up and mounted on the wall of his lover's office.

"Enjoying yourself?" Seto's voice called out as he entered the office, shedding his overcoat and laying it across the shoulders of the Blue Eyes sculpture by the door. Ah, so it functioned as a coat rack then? But that didn't really surprised Pegasus… when did the ever practical Seto Kaiba keep something around that didn't serve some purpose? Though it was amusing to see that he couldn't bear just tossing his coat over one of the dragon's heads...

"I remember seeing this magazine on a table in the lobby of my office. I had to read the article, of course."

"The article was crap. I wanted to talk about the products that we had developed for this holiday season and the tournament I was proposing for the opening of the new KaibaLand, but the stupid reporter just wanted to ask me about my relationship with Yami. I expect that kind of shit from the tabloids, not from TIME."

"Oh? I don't remember much being written about your relationship."

Seto waved his hand dismissively in the air and settled himself into his executive's chair, motioning for Pegasus to grab a seat. "That's because Yami gave them hell until the article was rewritten to his satisfaction. He always does that. Frankly, I don't know why they even bothered giving him the time of day. What was he going to do, Mind Crush them?"

Pegasus resisted the urge to point out that Yami could in fact be quite… convincing when he wanted to be. Even without the Shadow Magic. Former Pharaoh and all that. But he knew he didn't have to point that out. As much as Seto pretended to not care, of course he was proud to have a boyfriend who was his equal in methods of persuasion. He only hoped that he could be half as convincing…

"Well, let's get down to business then, shall we?" With a half smile, Pegasus reached into the slim leather briefcase he had been carrying and slid a small stack of papers across the desk at Seto. He watched the other man's reaction carefully, pleased to catch the flicker of surprise that flashed in the depths of Seto's eyes as the younger man quickly read over the proposal. An uncharacteristic show of emotion; one that most people would not have seen, but he took it as a good sign that not only was he able to catch it, but that Seto was relaxed enough to let it slip through before he reined it in.

After a few minutes of silence, Seto set the paperwork down and laced his fingers together, staring across the desk at Pegasus. "Okay, what's the catch?"

Pegasus stifled a sigh. "No catch." Ah, perhaps Seto wasn't as ready as he thought.

"Bullshit. I thought we agreed to renew the contract as is. Why would you propose a change that would only be advantageous to Kaiba Corp.?"

"If you really don't like it, we can simply extend the licensing agreement we currently have in place, but… why look a gift horse in the mouth, hmm?"

"… Because I don't trust you to make an offer like this without there being some hidden motive behind it."

Pegasus put a hand on his chest and gave the other businessman a hurt look. "Why, what have I done to garner such suspicion, Kaiba?"

Seto rolled his eyes and gave Pegasus an incredulous look. "Please, don't get me started on the laundry list of wrongs you've committed."

A nod. "And as I've told you before, I'm trying to make amends for all of that. I really am sorry. But... you know, life is certainly easier when you have more friends than enemies."

"What makes you think I want you as a friend?" Seto automatically snapped.

Because I am no longer your enemy. But Pegasus knew all he could do was extend the olive branch; it was up to Seto to accept or decline. "I ask that you consider it before giving me a final response," he finally said, purposefully vague about what exactly he was referring to. "Now then, you said you wanted to get some feedback about some of the ideas that your engineers came up with for the attractions at the new KaibaLand, correct?"

Seto gave Pegasus a hard look, then relaxed a little in his seat, accepting the change in subject matter. "All right then…"

* * *

While Seto and Pegasus were out talking business, Mokuba and Noa decided to hit the arcade while the former Doom members took naps due to the time zone difference. Well, at least that was what they were supposed to be doing. From all the noise coming from Rafael's room, Yami doubted that sleeping was the top priority. So it came as no real surprise when Valon ended up wandering into the family room as Yami was busy taking down some of the holiday decorations.

"Too bad… no more mistletoe," Valon drawled, flopping into Seto's recliner as Yami climbed off the stepladder. "And here I was hoping to catch you in time for a kiss." He picked up a Santa hat that had been laid across the arm of the chair and began fiddling with it.

Yami gave his friend an indulgent smile, thinking of the fit that Seto would throw if he saw Valon comfortably sprawled in his favorite chair. "Too bad."

"Yeah." Then Valon smirked and pulled the hat over his thick brown hair. "So tell me Yami, have you been a good little boy this year?"

The crimson-eyed teen rolled his eyes. "Of course."

"Well why don't you come and sit on Santa's lap and tell him all about it?"

Yami just laughed and shook his head. "I don't think so."

"Why not?"

"Because Santa's a pervert who's trying to get a free kiss out of this good little boy."

Valon pouted. "Ah, come on Yami, just play along!" He snagged Yami's wrist and gave it a very slight tug. "Please…?"

"Valon, don't make me Mind Crush you," Yami replied lightly, though the threat was far from empty.

But the Aussie didn't give up, and didn't let go. "I promise I won't do anything. If I do, may I get trampled by a mob of roos." He patted his lap in invitation. "Come on now, you know I'm good for it."

With a very loud sigh, Yami finally ended up perching himself on the arm of the recliner, letting his legs rest on the opposite arm. That was about as much as Valon was going to get out of him. "There, happy?"

"Not really, but it'll do." He released Yami's wrist and rested his cheek against the other teen's arm, looking up at the ex-spirit like a bright-eyed dog. At Yami's quizzical look, he said, "So things are okay now, aren't they? You had me worried, mate."

Yami was quiet for a minute as he considered the roller coaster his life had been for the last several months. The earthquake, his injuries, Seto breaking up with him and then reconciling… As much as he needed Seto, he needed his friends as well, and there would have been no way he could have gotten through the break up without their support and reassurance. "Yes, things really are fine now. Thanks for supporting me when I needed it. It... it means a lot to me."

"I won't pretend to understand what happened between the two of you, but… I know you wouldn't… er…" Valon frowned, trying to think of a way to word things without insulting Seto's character, though he couldn't help but feel angry when he thought of the break up. It wasn't like the young billionaire was that great of a catch. What good was a ton of money and good looks if the guy usually displayed the winning personality of a glacier? Valon liked flirting with Seto just for kicks, but he obviously didn't see in Seto what Yami saw… and loved. "Well, he must've had his reasons," Valon ended up saying lamely.

"Mmhmm. You'll just have to trust that I made the right decision in this regard." It wasn't that Yami didn't trust Valon, but... what he and Seto felt for each other wasn't something that he really wanted the whole world to know about. Some things were just too intimate to share with other people, no matter how near and dear they were.

Valon didn't even have to think about it. For even though he didn't understand Seto, he knew Yami well enough to know that the former Pharaoh was nobody's fool. "Yeah, I know you're too smart to ever let someone walk all over you. Too bad though…"

"Hmm?"

"… That means you won't move to California and be my new boyfriend."

Yami laughed and hopped off the arm of the chair. "Good try, but sorry, you're out of luck. Now, since you're taller than me... come help me get the rest of this mistletoe down."

"Oh, fine," Valon half-jokingly grumbled, but even the sight of Yami's denim-clad ass as it sauntered away couldn't quite bring his mood back up to snuff. Valon wasn't egotistical enough to think himself perfect with his checkered past and all, but if nothing else, he knew that he was as protective and dedicated to his friends and lovers as anyone could ever be. And Yami had earned not only his friendship, but his respect as well. So to know that Seto Kaiba was the one man capable of really hurting Yami… that just pissed him off. He swore to himself that if it ever happened again, nothing in heaven or hell would stop him from making sure that Seto got exactly what he deserved.

* * *

Afternoon became evening, the evening grew late, and after dinner and some television, eventually everyone retired to bed. But instead of going to sleep, Seto decided to go back over the proposal Pegasus had handed him earlier in the day. And although Yami was giving him every indication that he wanted to go to sleep, he just couldn't put the thing down.

"Ok, Seto… seriously. What's bothering you with the contract?" Yami mumbled against a smooth, bare shoulder. He was curled up against Seto's right side, wriggling his body against his boyfriend's, wishing Seto would just put the paperwork away for the night, though he knew full well from experience that the lights would stay on until Seto made a decision one way or another… and damn, it would be hard to sleep with the lights on!

"I'm trying to find the loophole in this proposal," Seto confided. "He has to be setting up some sort of trap for me."

Yami groaned and pulled an arm free of the blankets. "May I?" he asked, holding his hand out for the paperwork.

Seto thought about it, then handed the papers over with a half-hearted shrug. "Be my guest. But I've been over it forwards and backwards and upside down and I'm still not seeing jack shit."

"Mm." The ex-spirit spent several minutes going over the proposal carefully, eyes widening slightly at the same paragraph Seto had been surprised by earlier, before he finally handed the stack back to his lover. "Well, it looks to me like Pegasus is giving you a gift."

"I know that's what it looks like, but there's a catch. What's the catch?" There was no way in HELL Pegasus was just going to hand over the copyright on the Blue Eyes White Dragon and all derivatives of that card for nothing. Seto knew a trap when he saw one, and this quite obviously was a trap of the most blatant sort. So why couldn't he see it?

Yami yawned widely and shifted until his cheek was resting up on the hollow between Seto's arm and chest. "Maybe there isn't. Maybe he's just being nice."

"Pegasus? Nice? Ha! Yami, this is a business deal, and business doesn't work that way."

But friendship does. "If you ask me, that looks like a perfectly legitimate contract. But... what do I know about these things?"

"Don't be stupid. You're just tired and not thinking straight." Seto grumbled, but then he took a good look at Yami and sighed, reaching a hand up to stroke Yami's hair, which earned him a pleased purr. "I suppose I should just sleep on it."

A soft puff of air hit his chest as Yami snorted in disbelief. "That means you're going to stay up all night worrying about it, right?"

Seto went to deny it, then frowned. "I hate it when you read my mind."

I'm not reading your mind. I just know how you are.

Hn.

You need to make a decision, Baby. Or else I'll be up all night as well.

Yeah, sorry. The brunette squinted at the paperwork some more, as if that would somehow allow him to see what he expected to see. Argh, this is impossible! God damn that man!

... You want to know what I think?

I already know. You want me to just sign it, right? I can't do that, Yami, not even for you.

No, I just want you to consider what it is that you are finding fault with. Is it the proposal that you have issue with, or is it Pegasus himself?

Seto was silent for a moment. It's both. Maybe you've forgotten, Yami, but Pegasus took my brother and…

I haven’t forgotten. Remember Pegasus wronged Yugi as well, but consider that none of us were really behaving… rationally back then. So just as you have changed for the better, as have I… well, have you considered the possibility that Pegasus may have changed for the better as well? Yami looked over at the pair of paintings on the wall across from the bed. They were Pegasus' original designs for the tattoos they now sported, and if the passion he put into his artwork was even a weak reflection of what he saw between Seto and Yami, then he had an understanding of the relationship beyond what Seto thought him capable of. Pegasus had been a madman, but those paintings... those proved to Yami that things had indeed changed for the Industrial Illusions CEO.

I don't care.

Yami sighed inwardly and trailed his fingers down Seto's chest, enjoying the contrast between the warm, pliant skin and hard muscle just beneath. Seto's personality was the opposite... hard as ice on the outside, but like a roaring fire deep within for the lucky few who had been allowed to see it. I think maybe you do, even if only a little bit.

Seto growled. Sometimes he hated how Yami could just slip in under his defenses; no, he couldn't hold that against Yami. What he hated was the fact that he allowed it. When did Yami's opinion matter in Kaiba Corp. business? The answer was it didn't, but that didn't stop Seto from taking it into consideration. Maybe Yami had a point, or maybe he just wasn't paranoid enough. But at least he could count on his lover to have his back no matter what decision he made. Look, I'll… sleep on it. But… I can't promise anything. I still think he's trying to pull something here.

Fair enough... Good night then, Seto.

Good night.

Despite that whispered exchange, neither Seto nor Yami actually fell asleep until a good half-hour later, when Seto finally came to a decision. A few quick flicks of the pen and the rustling of paper ultimately ended the sleepless stalemate.

* * *

TBC

Author’s Notes:

January 18, 2006