Return to fanfiction
A brief Seto's birthday fic written for the lj comm kaibabros contest, originally intended as borderline parody but it might not have turned out that way. Uh, angst/humor is a perfectly legitimate category. Sure it is!
Set immediately pre-Duelist Kingdom, featuring a recombination of anime and manga canons which may or may not fit with either timeline. I couldn't figure it out, so please just pretend the chronology works.
"Excuse me, Mokuba-sama?"
"Burn it. Here, this one, too."
Two years ago the cook had baked that lovely cake for his brother's birthday, served while their adopted father had given him the money, and the challenge. His brother had thanked them politely. Later that evening Mokuba had heard him throwing up in the bathroom. It wasn't that the cake had been bad. Just the email had been more bitter than the chocolate had been sweet, those few short lines explaining how Kaiba Corporation's virtual reality system had been employed in its latest military simulator, and the estimated profits. Mokuba had gotten a copy, too; the email had gone to all stockholders, and as of that night they had both been officially on that list. Gozaburo had sent the message then intentionally. Another birthday present to his heir.
Last year there had been no cake. His brother wouldn't have been around to eat it anyway; he had been in Osaka then, making the final arrangements. Turning over the last couple cards of the forty-nine he needed, while Mokuba had sat at that long dinner table with Gozaburo and listened to the man talk to him like he was his son, like his brother was going to lose and Mokuba was going to be the one to inherit everything after all.
Two weeks after that, Mokuba had given his brother his present, belated. Two cards, two percent, and two hours later their adopted father was dead, and the broken window glass was being vacuumed off the carpet of the office that was now his brother's.
Mokuba hadn't said happy birthday, but he had thought of it as a birthday present. The first he had given his brother in years, not since the first year they had come to live in the Kaiba mansion. His brother's birthday had been several months after they had been adopted. Mokuba had spent weeks before it making the pieces out of plastic bottlecaps and coins and glue and folded paper, hiding them in a safe place under his bed. Gozaburo had thrown away their old chess set the first night and wouldn't allow any new games to be bought, but this set would be even better than the old one. He had made the board on a piece of cardboard, drawing the squares very carefully with a ruler and coloring them with crayons, pressing as hard as he could, until the black and white wax was layered to a smooth surface.
He had snuck into his brother's bedroom the night of his birthday, right after midnight, to give him the set. "You shouldn't have," his brother had said, not as courtesy but meaning it, but he had touched the board, had picked up the pieces one by one and looked at them, and he had smiled, like he wasn't doing so much anymore, by then. "'Thank you, Mokuba," he had said. "It's great."
"Can we play, Nii-sama?" he had asked.
His brother had shaken his head. "It's too late. Go back to bed, quick, before someone catches you up."
A few days later, in the fireplace in the den next to his brother's bedroom, Mokuba had found a couple of the coins that he had made the pieces from, scorched, the glue burned off. The board and the paper figures had been only ashes.
"I'm sorry, Mokuba," his brother had told him, the next time they were able to talk alone. "I had to. If he'd found it—I couldn't let him touch it."
"It's okay, Nii-sama," Mokuba had said, happily recalling his brother's smile.
The next year he had made another chess set, a better one, but this one he remembered not to give it to his brother, had kept it under his bed instead, as he had with all the presents after that.
But last year Mokuba had finally had the chance to give him something. And this year—this year his brother wouldn't be able to do anything about it. Even if no gift could be as good as looking at that broken window, and knowing Gozaburo would never ever come back through it. And even though his brother wouldn't be able to make use of any gift yet, not until he woke up.
But he would, eventually. Yugi had promised.
"Take this one, too," Mokuba said, pulling another suit from the closet and piling it into the maid's arms. "And this one—all of them. None of them are going to fit anymore anyway." His brother had grown in the five and a half months since Death-T; the pajamas they dressed him in were a little too short now. The white suits and navy uniforms he had worn before wouldn't fit him anymore, when he woke up.
That was okay. Mokuba had never liked those outfits anyway. They had been Gozaburo's picks, Gozaburo's suggestions for emphasizing his brother's youth, by dressing in his school uniform or imitations thereof. So he would be underestimated by his opponents.
It had worked; Gozaburo had certainly been taken off-guard. But his brother didn't need to pretend like that anymore. That wasn't his brother's way. That was Gozaburo's way, and maybe when his brother woke up, he would remember that.
"Take them all," Mokuba said, throwing the rest of the suits out of the closet one after another. "Take them outside to the driveway and burn them."
The maid looked at him from over the bundle of clothes in her arms. "But, Mokuba-sama, what will Seto-sama have to wear?"
"I'm working on it," Mokuba assured her. "Something will be ready in time for Nii-sama's birthday." He had consulted with the tailors just yesterday; they were almost done with the first, and had the materials selected and were waiting for his approval on the other two patterns.
He might not be here for his brother's birthday anyway. The Big Five were planning something, he knew; he had overheard a few of their communications with Pegasus about the upcoming island tournament. Any day now Mokuba was expecting the board to come asking for the key to his brother's safe. He had already figured out what he was going to do then.
Once the maid was gone with all the old clothes, he took out his sketchpad, studied the birthday gift plans. The second design was complete; he just needed to fax it over. The final one was his favorite, but it was still missing something. The finishing touch.
Buckles, he decided, looking at it now. If his brother were going to compete properly against Yugi—and Mokuba had no doubt he would be, when he woke up—he would definitely need more buckles.
Humming to himself, Mokuba sketched a few appropriate lines on the drawing, then brought it to the window, where his brother had been wheeled to catch the autumn sun. "Here, Nii-sama. What do you think?"
Of course his brother said nothing, his blank stare not tracking to the sketchpad before his face. After almost six months, Mokuba had—not gotten used to it, but was better about ignoring that silence, at least.
Yugi had promised. He would wake up. Maybe not in time for his birthday. But soon, hopefully.
"I can't wait to see you in this, it'll look great on you," Mokuba told his brother now, holding the paper up to the light, evaluating, imagining. "Happy birthday, Nii-sama!" and he signed his signature in approval over the sketch of the white trenchcoat.
Love to know what you think!
Read Comments - Post Comment
Return to fanfiction