Conceptualized/First Written: 11/16/04
Completed/Final Edit: 11/16/04 (HOLY MOTHER OF SHIVA!) 11/21/04, 3/22/08 (Thank you, Faye Zepher!)
Don’t Forget! If you’d like to know what I have to say to your reviews, check out the ‘Review Replies.’ Alternatively, you can check my LiveJournal and go to my Memories/Azurite’s Fanfiction section. I’ll eventually add a Review Replies section as well, so if you see that, check there!
Rated R/Mature for a reason… You can’t go see Rated R movies if you’re under 17 or without an adult. You can’t buy M-rated games without an adult, either. I’m hoping that people will be mature and responsible enough to let the same hold true for this fanfic. If you think you can handle language, violence, and sexual innuendoes, then great! Keep reading. But otherwise, I don’t want to be responsible for what you read here— I’ve given more than enough warnings up to this point. No, WDKY will not be a lemon, as such fics are not allowed on FFnet, and I can’t bring myself to write them anyway (I think I suck at them)! So don’t worry about it. But if the content thus far has made you squeamish, then turn back now. Thanks for all your support and understanding.
A Quick Recap: Seto and Téa have finally gotten together, Chieko’s met her fiancee, Yugi’s confessed his (unrequited) feelings, and… Mokuba’s run away!?
THANKSGIVING!I humbly give my thanks to the hundreds of you who took the time out of your day to review, even if you only said ‘I like your fic,’ and of course, extra stuffing for all those who went above and beyond that, and told me so much more. A whole stuffed turkey with cranberries for Mamono and Guardian Kysra, my faithful betas for this chapter— thanks bunches guys, I don’t know what I’d do without you.
And after all that— I MADE IT!
“Seto…?” Téa stared at him, her own face pale. Mokuba was… gone?
Seto didn’t waste any time reading the note again; he crumpled the short letter into a tight wad and tossed it to the floor. “I’m going to go look for him.” And with one brisk movement, he whirled around, intent on heading to his office to get his coat and leave. Just before he could reach the room, Téa stopped him by pressing a hand to his shoulder.
“Seto, wait. Let me look for him.”
“I know you’re going to say that it’s not my fault, but you and I both know that’s not true. Please. Let me find him. Let me talk to him.”
The slightest sense of doubt crept its way into Seto’s mind; how could he be sure that Téa could even find Mokuba, and that Mokuba would listen to her? It only took one glance at the wad of paper on the floor for Seto to reconsider his thoughts.
“Thank you, Seto. Besides,” Téa smiled gently, “I think I have an idea where he might be.”
Seto stared at her, his brows knitted together, his face still a mask of concern.
‘Of course he’s concerned. It’s his little brother out there again! After all we’ve been through, who knows what could happen to Mokuba… Let’s just hope I’m right, and I know where the kid is hiding.’
“Go ahead and call around, just in case. Mokuba might have gone to Yugi’s, so…” Téa trailed off. She hoped Seto understood why she couldn’t be the one to call Yugi. Despite her and Seto’s relationship —whatever it was— being public knowledge now, the friendship she had with Yugi was on shaky legs, at best.
Seto nodded, a sign of his silent agreement to Téa’s plan. She flashed him a reassuring smile before reaching up to give him a quick kiss on the cheek, and then she breezed out the front door, away to find Mokuba.
Seto stood in the doorway, watching her go until she disappeared from view. After he’d closed the door, his eyes fell upon the ball of paper on the ground once more. His heart ached remembering the words scrawled there, but he bent down to pick up the paper anyway. People did call Seto Kaiba a masochist. Un-crumpling the paper, he examined the note, written in Mokuba’s childlike scrawl:
Stupid Seto! I HATE you!
The sun was just about to dip below the horizon, casting the sky in spectacular shades of orange and gold. Bright, puffy clouds were lined with soft pinks, but Mokuba Kaiba took no notice. He was too sad.
He just sat in the swing at Domino Park, pushing himself back and forth at a snail’s pace. He didn’t care about it getting dark or cold… he just didn’t want to go home. His eyes were too dry to cry anymore; now he just stared at the tiny flecks of sand, imagining that in his big brother’s sandbox, he just represented one tiny speck.
‘He just doesn’t care about me anymore. No one does,’Mokuba thought sadly. Back, and forth. It’d be nice if he could just stay in the playground forever, basking in the warm sunlight, without ever having to worry about anything— not school, not Duel Monsters, not Seto, and not Téa!
Mokuba squeezed his eyes shut, willing the memory of Seto and Téa wrapped around each other out of his mind. But the image wouldn’t leave—it burned his brain and stung his heart.
Mokuba’s gaze snapped up; he stared in the direction of the voice, his eyes widening to the size of saucers when they fell upon none other than Téa Gardner herself.
But somehow, he couldn’t say her name. So he just kept staring.
Finally, Téa’s gentle smile faded, and she walked forward. She sat in the swing beside his and started to pump her legs, swinging back and forth. She began speaking without even looking at Mokuba, fully aware of his presence and every move he made.
“I had a feeling you’d be here. This was where we broke even with that bet from the Ball, right? And we both had chocolate parfaits? Anyway, it didn’t take me long, but I worried about you nonetheless.”
Mokuba bit his lip. “No you didn’t.”
Téa stopped swinging and stared at him seriously. “Why would you say that, Mokuba?”
“You don’t care. Big Bro— Seto madeyou come,” Mokuba responded quietly, though the acid in his voice couldn’t be mistaken when he referred to his brother. It was quite obvious there was a severe case of sibling rivalry here, something which the Kaiba brothers had never experienced before.
“Not true. But he is just as worried about you. Matter of fact, I had to convince him to let me come look for you.”
Mokuba paused, glancing up at Téa out of the corner of his eye. “Really?”
“Yep. But if I’d stayed home and done nothing when this was my fault, I never would have forgiven myself.”
“It’s not your fault,” Mokuba muttered quietly.
To his surprise, Téa laughed. Off his confused look, Téa explained with a grin, “You Kaiba brothers are both the same. I know you both care about me, and believe me, it’s a wonderful feeling— but you both seem to take issue with me wanting to accept responsibility for my actions.”
It didn’t make much sense to Mokuba, but he did feel the need to explain something of his own: “It’s not ‘care,’ Téa,” he whispered. For the first time in a very long while, he’d dared to call her by her given name. And this was them —alone, and not in any danger. Just… talking.
“Mokuba?” Téa looked perplexed, as if she didn’t understand his words. The look in her eyes revealed hurt hovering just below the surface.
“I— I like you the way Big Brother likes you,” Mokuba explained. “That’s what I mean by it’s not just ‘care’.”
Téa sighed, starting to swing back and forth again. After a minute she responded quietly, “I don’t even know what your big brother feels for me, Mokuba.”
Mokuba stopped swinging altogether at this, fixing Téa with an aghast look. “He loves you, duh!”
Téa smiled ruefully, shaking her head even as she swung higher and higher. “I wish I could believe you, Mokuba. But if he can’t say that to me, then—”
Mokuba dropped his head, chuckling to himself. “That’s Big Brother for you. He can’t admit anything.”
Téa laughed lightly, but her gaze remained serious and fixed at some distant point on the horizon. The sky was turning a rich red-violet now, the brightest stars beginning to stud the darkening sky.
“Do you love him?” Mokuba asked after a moment, tugging on the chains of his swing. It seemed unusual for a boy so young to appear so tense and thoughtful, but such was the destiny of the Kaiba brothers— to grow up far too fast and to age beyond their years.
“Yes, I do.”
Téa blurted her response before she could really give it any extra thought, considering she was speaking to Mokuba —a child— but also to someone who cared for her more deeply than she would have imagined. But the moment the words spilled from her mouth, she cringed. Her bluntness was probably one reason why she wasn’t worthy of the love and affection she received— from Seto, from Yugi, or from anyone else.
But Mokuba didn’t seem upset— rather, his expression melted into one of quiet acceptance and understanding.
“But you know,” Téa began slowly, “I do love you, too, Mokuba.”
The boy responded merely by scuffing his shoes in the sand, refusing to meet Téa’s gaze. He mumbled something under his breath, prompting Téa to get up out of her swing and kneel before the younger Kaiba.
“Say it again.”
Mokuba briefly considered that Seto was probably attracted to Téa because of her straight-forwardness. She said what she felt and did what she wanted— just like Seto. She didn’t make wavering requests— she stated orders and demanded things. Like Seto, she probably came off as intimidating to some… but never to Mokuba. People just didn’t get to know her. She was really an incredible person inside…
“Not the way I want!” Mokuba finally said, though his voice was only a notch higher than when he’d previously spoken.
Téa fell silent for a moment before choosing her next words carefully. “No, I guess not. You know, when your brother said you cared about me that way, I didn’t believe him. It didn’t make much sense.”
“Why not?” Mokuba mumbled. “You’re the only girl that’s always been nice to me, and doesn’t care that I’m a Kaiba, or that I always get kidnapped, or that I’m supposed to end up like my brother…”
“That couldn’t be further from the truth,” Téa stated resolutely, shaking her head.
“Why not?” Mokuba queried. Mokuba’s thoughts, as of late, brought him into the state of mind where he no longer stood by his brother’s side but in his shadow. He was destined to come second— after all, he could never be as smart, talented, or business-like as Seto…
“You’re not like Seto. And you’d better take that as a compliment, Mokuba. Even before all of this happened, I’ve always thought you were the sweetest boy I’d ever met. You’ve always been brave, courageous, smart, and unselfish.”
A pause as a smile crept its way onto Mokuba’s face; “So you’re saying Seto’s not smart?”
Téa dropped her head to her knees, grinning after a second. “No…” She gave Mokuba a reproachful smile, “but you know what I mean.” She slipped her hand on top of one of his, now resting on his lap as he sat in the swing at a standstill. Shortly, Mokuba clasped her hand as well.
“Can you keep a secret?” Téa asked after a brief pause. Mokuba nodded vigorously, curious as to what Téa would want to entrust to him and him alone.
“Ever since I met you and your brother, I’ve always been insanely jealous of him.”
Mokuba’s eyes widened. He never imagined Téa as the jealous type. Although, he’d be the first to realize, having come from a life vastly different from his current one —back in the orphanage— that the Kaiba brothers had much to be jealous of.
Téa smiled gently. “Because he has you.”
Mokuba blinked in surprise, the answer unexpected. “M-Me? But—”
“Honestly, I always wanted a younger brother.” Téa glanced at the remnants of the sunset, her gaze clouded. “That’s not going to happen now, though.”
Mokuba didn’t exactly know what to say to this; he too, had lost his parents, but at a totally different age and under completely different circumstances.
“There used to be a time when you called me ‘Big Sister Téa’,” she continued. “Would it be too much to ask for us to go back to that?” When she looked at the ebony-haired boy once more, the expression in her eyes was almost pleading.
Mokuba considered this for a moment: it wouldn’t be easy getting over these odd feelings —the ones that, at age twelve, led him to believe he was experiencing true love for the first time. But Téa was right— he wasn’t his Big Brother, and that meant he wouldn’t close himself off to the world just because he couldn’t have what he wanted. More than anything, Mokuba wanted Seto and Téa both to be happy— and if his being the younger brother again did that, then…
“Nah. I don’t mind at all… Big Sis.”
Téa broke out into a wide smile, her eyes twinkling as she stood up, arms spread. After a moment’s hesitation, Mokuba bounced up and hugged her fiercely.
“Mokuba?” Téa murmured, hugging the young boy back. “Let’s go home.”
And with that, the two grabbed hands and walked out of the park, both smiling widely.
Seto couldn’t focus in his own office, and concern for Mokuba caused him to pace about. So, while calling everyone he could think of short of the police, he walked all around the house, finally ending up in the foyer. He had just given in to his annoying conscience and called Yugi— but his rival hadn’t heard from Mokuba. Still, the concern in Yugi’s voice brought a measure of hope to Seto’s heart; if Téa couldn’t find Mokuba, Yugi would. The younger boy had promised— without the slightest regard to everything that had happened between them.
When it came to family, Seto realized, whether it was Yugi’s or not, Yugi cared. And he kept his promises.
Still, it had been over an hour, and still no word from anyone…
When the door unlocked with a click, Seto didn’t waste a second in detailing to Téa —who he was sure had come back empty handed (after all, if he’d had no luck, why would she?)— all the calls he’d made, without success.
“Téa, I called everyone, and no one’s heard from Mokuba, and—”
Seto looked up, startled to see Mokuba walking in behind Téa, although he was trailing behind at a slower pace, his gaze a bit upset and slightly sheepish.
“Mokuba!” The younger boy barely had time to step out from behind Téa before Seto swept forward and swept his younger brother up in a fierce hug.
“Ow— Seto… ribs… breaking!” Mokuba struggled in his brother’s arms, wiggling to the best of his abilities. Seto finally released him after a moment, his concerned expression replaced with a deadly-serious one.
“God, Mokuba, don’t ever scare me like that ever again!” One too many near-death experiences threatened to separate the Kaiba brothers from one another, and Seto Kaiba was not about to let that happen again. Had Mokuba gotten kidnapped or tried to be heroic again, Seto would have been ready with a lecture- but Mokuba had run away, and suddenly guilt welled in in the elder Kaiba; he’d failed his brother and pushed him to that brink. He couldn’t be the overbearing brother now.
“I— I won’t, Big Brother. I promise.”
Seto fixed the younger boy with a pointed stare that plainly said, ‘You better not be lying to me.’
“So everything’s okay, now, right?” Téa smiled softly. “Neither of you has anything you need to say?”
Seto glanced from Téa to Mokuba and back again. He could hardly believe that she’d found him… but on the same token, he was immensely glad she did. If Mokuba had remained missing for another hour, Seto Kaiba was sure he would have torn the house apart, not to mention the city and anyone he came across within it.
“Mokuba, there’s something you should know,” Seto began seriously, standing to tug an arm around Téa’s waist and bring her close to him. With his other free arm, he gestured Mokuba closer, the younger boy standing in a loose hug at Seto’s side.
“Things might be… different now, between Téa and I, but…”
“But that doesn’t change how much either of us love you, Mokuba,” Téa added, smiling, reaching over to place her own hand on Mokuba’s shoulder and bring him into a hug.
“We are family, now. No matter what,” Seto stated firmly, not leaving the possibility for doubt or questioning. “From now on, no more secrets from one another—” he stared pointedly at Téa, who had the grace to blush prettily, “right? You both promise?”
“You have to promise too, Seto,” Mokuba nudged his older brother, who frowned slightly. He still had his share of secrets, but…
‘Never again. No more close calls. No more lies. I don’t want the people I… care about in danger because of me. No more.’
Seto sighed, nodding. “I promise. But what about you two?”
“No more secrets,” Téa echoed. She knew only too well that secrets would hurt their blossoming relationship more than help it. From now on, no matter how difficult or painful it was, she had to tell Seto everything.
‘Besides, what would I keep from him now? He knows me— heart and soul.’This thought warming her up from the inside out, Téa snuggled just a bit closer to Seto, allowing herself to revel in the amazing fact that she was so in love with someone.
No, not just ‘someone’ — Seto Kaiba. Before, she likened him from everything from a machine to a really tall ice cube— but he wasn’t any of those things. He was human —flesh and blood— and he cared. That was all that mattered.
“Promise?” Seto asked, staring at Mokuba. The concern disappeared from his face, but it was still plain in his eyes, from their shifting to their glassy surface. It took years of practice, but Mokuba knew his brother’s odd expressions better than anyone. He knew that his brother cared.
Hours later, a warm sense of peace settled over the Kaiba Mansion— and for the first time in a long while, it felt like home again. When the shrill ringing of the phone broke Téa from her contemplative reverie, her head snapped up.
One ring, then another.
‘Seto’s probably buried in his work again, the big oaf.’
When he was focused on something, he didn’t stop for anything, not even the slightest interruptions. Seto had a firm list of priorities which he stuck to— and doubtless phone calls were nowhere near the top.
And Mokuba? Téa supposed the young boy was upstairs in his room playing games or napping after his adventure. He wouldn’t pick up the phone.
“I’ll get it!” Téa called out to the empty mansion, just as a matter of politeness. Maybe Seto would get annoyed by the ringing and pick it up at the same time as she, but Téa doubted it.
Téa headed to the receiver in the kitchen, her mind still wandering to other things. “Hello?” she queried, distracted.
A raspy voice responded immediately, “Hello, Miss Gardner.”
Téa’s attention immediately snapped wholly to the phone; she didn’t recognize the voice. “Who is this?”
“You could say I’m an… old friend of the family. Though whether it’s your family or Mr. Kaiba’s is up to you.”
Téa didn’t understand, but the speaker’s decidedly creepy tone did nothing but unnerve her further. “Who are you? What do you want?”
“The name’s Crump, Miss Gardner. Ring a bell?”
Téa blanched, and nearly dropped the phone out of shock.
‘Crump. One of the Big Five. They killed my parents!’
Anger flitted across Téa’s normally-composed features, her eyebrows drawing into a knot at the center of her brow. “Answer my question, bastard.”
Crump only laughed, “So you do remember me! If you must know, I have an offer for you.”
“I’m sure there’s nothing you have that I could possibly want.”
“But how can you be sure, Miss Gardner? What I possess transcends your desires— you need it.”
“Short of oxygen to breathe—”
“The truth, Téa,” Crump snapped, dropping all pretenses and interrupting her. “The truth about your parents.”
Téa fell silent, contemplating this response. It took her a moment to finally come up with a reply. “I know the truth. You had them killed.”
Crump didn’t reply to this, and instead he said, “If you want the whole story, then I suggest you get into the black limousine that will be in front of your school tomorrow afternoon. It will be there for only ten minutes, and if you choose not to show up, I promise, you won’t get another chance.”
Téa swallowed the bile building in her throat, readying a venom-laced threat to send back to Crump, but the words wouldn’t come.
“Oh, and don’t bother trying to have your precious boyfriend or the police trace this number. It won’t work. Tell anyone about this call, and you will regret it with every fiber of your being.”
A click, and then a dial tone.
Téa stood frozen in place, still holding the receiver. What could she do? Crump was right: she did need the truth, but who was to say that she would live long enough to do anything about it? She’d vowed that she would bring the Big Five to justice, but…
‘I refuse to put anyone else in danger because of me!’
She’d done it far too many times before. Too many people suffered for her sake…
The sound of the swinging door opening brought Téa’s attention back to reality. Her eyes widened as she caught sight of Mokuba— his eyes dark and clear, a hand gripped around a cordless phone.
“Are you going to go?” Mokuba asked quietly, not even bothering to announce that he’d heard everything, or that he should be sorry for eavesdropping.
Téa looked away, clenching her free hand into a fist. “I— I have to, Mokuba.”
Instead of arguing with Téa, Mokuba nodded his assent. Téa didn’t notice, but instead wheeled on the boy, her eyes filling with tears. “Please Mokuba— you won’t tell Seto, will you?”
Mokuba looked hesitant for a moment. He’d promised his brother he wouldn’t keep any more secrets from him, and vice versa. But…
“I don’t want to put him in danger, Mokuba. You know that, right?”
Mokuba dropped his head, long ebony bangs concealing his face. “Yeah. ‘Cause you love him.”
Téa smiled waveringly, “Yeah. I do.” The more she said it, the more real her feelings seemed to become. She’d been ready to let them go not long ago, but now, they were her strength. She sighed deeply, finally replacing the phone back on its base before heading to the door. She couldn’t just go into the meeting blind. She had to prepare.
“I won’t tell him, then,” Mokuba agreed after a minute. “But you have to promise me something.”
Téa turned around, facing the younger boy once more. “What is it?”
“That you’ll let me help. After what they did to all of us, I wanna make sure they get in trouble, too. So let me help.”
“Tell anyone about this call, and you’ll regret it with every fiber of your being.”
She already knew what the Big Five were capable of. She couldn’t risk letting them harm Mokuba, too. But the Big Five weren’t the most intelligent criminals out there, no matter how many plans they’d foiled in the past. Maybe… there was a way Mokuba could help.
Maybe together, they could bring the Big Five down, and…
“Okay. Let’s do this.”
Whoa. Just… whoa.