It seemed someone had forgotten to give Bakura the memo that he was supposed to have been chased away by Kaiba's bad attitude. Either that, or he was even more stubborn than Kaiba himself was. He was going to suppose it was the former and not the latter; he would hate to run into anyone who was more stubborn than he was, if that was even possible. Mokuba always said he was capable of setting new standards of obstinacy.
The white-haired man was waiting just outside his door the next morning, again wearing that hideous terrycloth robe the hospital provided. It wasn't even that cold in the hallways; it was more that standardized temperature all hospitals seemed to be.
"Good morning," Bakura greeted him, pushing off the wall where he had been leaning. At least he didn't seem to be the overly cheerful type like Mazaki was. If the man insisted on being friendly towards him, that much was a good thing. Too cheerful people, again like Mazaki, got on his nerves.
"Morning," he returned cautiously. Immediately, he castigated himself for it. Really, no reason for him to be nervous had been given yet. Like Mokuba had said last night, the man seemed fairly sane, especially for this place. He almost wished that it wasn't considered bad etiquette to ask why someone was here. He could admit to being a bit curious about the man's story. Mostly sane people didn't end up here after all.
"You don't mind me hanging with you for a bit, do you?" Great, he had gone and infected Bakura with his nervousness. That wouldn't do in the least. "I checked out some of the other people here yesterday, and they were -- Well, they were kind of scary. I don't want to be hanging out alone with them. Yeah, they seem kind of out there." Nervous or not, Bakura still obviously managed to talk a whole lot more than he ever would be able to do.
He nodded. After a second, he even remembered to speak without Mokuba prompting him. "It's no problem."
"Good, because that Mazaki woman is terrifying."
Unbidden, a snicker escaped from him. "Yes, she is."
"That kind of happy cannot be natural. Whatever pills she's pilfering, she needs to share with the rest of the class."
"I don't know if I want to be that kind of happy," he found himself answering to his own surprise. This was already more of a conversation than he usually had with anyone but Mokuba, his doctor included. In fact, he couldn't remember having a conversation this long since back at the orphanage.
"Yeah, that's true. It's sickening, isn't it?" He frowned, cocking his head to the side in consideration. "I can't see you that kind of happy. I don't think it would look right on you. No offense or anything, if you really wanted to be that kind of happy. Better living through pharmaceuticals and all that."
"I'll pass," he offered. "It's not my scene."
"Good. So what passes for breakfast in this place?"
Kaiba winced slightly. "It's usually best not to ask."
"Ahh, mystery meals then?" He nodded, and Bakura chuckled. "All right, then I guess I'll just take my chances then. Window or room?"
He almost tilted his own head in puzzlement just as Bakura had, stopping only when he realized they were at one of the tables towards the back of the cafeteria area. In fact, it was one of the ones he usually would have chosen for himself, if the option were open. The two choices Bakura had offered made more sense when he realized where he was: one chair had a decent view of the room, while the other allowed for looking out the window. Neither one was a pleasant view, fences or fellow patients, but the thought of being given the choice was nice.
"I don't care." Bakura raised an eyebrow at his lack of a decision, and finally he made the choice. "Window."
"Cool. So I get to people watch. I'll let you know if Mazaki is coming."
"She's usually only here on the night shift."
Bakura nodded, obviously filing the information away for later use. "Good to know. Anyone I should watch out for on the day shift then?"
He paused, taking his time to consider each of the nurses and doctors on the day shift. It filled the time while trays of what was imaginatively called food was set down in front of them. The paranoid part of him wondered if the orderly was taking notes and relaying information back to the nurses, especially about the fact that, for the first time since he had arrived here, he was willing sharing a table with another person. Well, another person that was neither a voice in his head nor his little brother.
"I don't think there's anyone to really worry about, for the most part," he finally answered. "No one like Mazaki, at least."
He resolutely was not going to mention the number of people on his -- their -- hall who had committed suicide since he had been here. It really wasn't something that bore thinking too much about. After all, this was a hospital for the insane; some suicides along the way were probably to be expected.
He even wasn't going to mention how some people around here whispered that their hall was the 'death hall'. Let someone else tell the other man that.
"Well, that's good at least. Is this supposed to be food or rubber cement?"
Kaiba had to snicker at the other man's disgruntled tone. "I've heard it call oatmeal before. It's more like 'cream of what'."
Bakura apparently picked up on the pun almost immediately. "Because it damn sure isn't wheat?"
Bakura turned to stirring the grayish-brown lump on his plate, while he started tucking it away. It was only thanks to having been here as long as he had -- and at the orphanage before that -- that he was used to eating food that only just barely belonged in that category; it wasn't a fellow patient, it wasn't a doctor or a nurse, it wasn't an orderly, and it wasn't paperwork or medication, so it had to be food. In all honesty, though, he would challenge any member of the staff to try eating the patients' meals for just one day.
"You know," Bakura began a few moments later, "until you started willingly eating that stuff, I was thinking you were awfully normal to be in here."
He snorted inelegantly. "It takes the food here to make you think someone isn't normal? Good to know."
"No, seriously. What are you in for?"
It was everything he could do not to drop his spoon into the remains of breakfast still on his plate. Clearly, Bakura had not yet found out about the unspoken rule: never ask someone why he was in here. At least, he hadn't phrased it as badly as he had heard it once before, something about 'what brand of crazy are you'. That had gone over like a lead balloon with everyone who had heard it.
He didn't want to be the one to have to explain to Bakura that questions like that were for the doctors and the nurses. Between the patients, they preferred to think of each other as people, not as diseases to be analyzed and perhaps treated. Personally, he would rather be Kaiba Seto, antisocial asshole, than Kaiba Seto, that guy who heard voices.
As it was, he managed to set down his spoon in a decent pretense of calm. Verbally, though, all he could handle was a semi-intelligent soft grunt.
"What? Am I not supposed to ask about stuff like that?" Bakura questioned, and in response, he shook his head slowly, not even trying to talk right now. "Well, why the hell not? Come on. I'll show you mine if you show me yours."
His eyes flew up quickly from his plate to meet Bakura's pale eyes. Already he could feel heat staining his face and down his throat. Did he really have to phrase it that way? Those were mental images he didn't have any business thinking, especially about someone he had just met, even more so when that person apparently lacked any sense of tact.
Finally, he shook his head, turning his eyes back down to latch onto his tightly clenched hands in his lap, and answered, "No."
At the edge of his vision, he could see Bakura scowl. "Fine." With rough shoves and hands that might have been shaking just a bit, not that Kaiba could clearly see, the white-haired man pushed up the sleeves of that damn robe. White bandages covered the insides of both of his arms from the wrist to the elbow. He had seen more than a few of those since he had been there. "I decided the best way to make the walls quit bleeding was to try bleeding myself dry instead. My little sister called 911, and after I was patched up, the hospital shipped me off here." He pushed the sleeves back down to cover the bandages and shifted uncomfortably in his chair. "That's why I'm here."
Despite the outward tells -- the way his hands shook, how rough and jerky his every movement was, the way he was so careful to keep the bandages covered -- Bakura's voice had been so calm throughout the entire impromptu little speech. Kaiba didn't think he could have done that. Perhaps it was more a mask, though, another way of hiding how uncomfortable he was talking about all of this.
If it was a matter of masks, then he could definitely bluff his way through breaking this little taboo.
Kaiba offered a shrug that might have seemed nonchalant to anyone not looking closely. "I hear voices. Not all the time or anything, but I hear things that aren't there."
"A fellow hallucinator then." Bakura seemed almost proud, perhaps pleased with that.
"I don't think that's a real word."
And Bakura laughed. "Well, it should be. In fact, I say it is from here on out."
Somehow he too was laughing, and it felt both weird and good at the same time. "And what you say goes, right?"
"Absolutely. All shall obey my will or else taste my wrath." He glanced down, and a sardonic grin built on his face. "Or maybe I should threaten mutineers with this goop. That stuff can't be natural."
"The key is to eat it quickly, so you can't taste it," he volunteered.
"I see you've made a friend."
If Mazaki was bad, Kawai might have been three times worse. The young doctor was by no means as sickeningly cheerful as the late shift nurse. Instead, she was annoying optimistic about everything. Patient being transferred to a different hospital? 'He'll be happier once he's closer to his family.' Someone broke into her car? 'It's a lovely day to walk home.'
There were days he wanted to cut her and see if she bled sugar and rainbows and light.
He had never seen anything like that before. He had never had a visual hallucination before in his life. Maybe he could smuggle Bakura in here before he did it. That way, the white-haired man could tell him if she really was filled with all that crap.
"Yeah, I guess," he answered sullenly, not liking the distraction from his train of thought in the least.
"What does Mokuba think of him?"
"Mokuba encouraged me to make friends. Bakura's the first person I've met here who seems worth the bother." He did not voice his thoughts that they were only becoming friends because Bakura was too stubborn to let him get away with his usual short attitude. Kawai didn't need to know that stuff. It wasn't any of her business.
And now that he thought about it, maybe Bakura actually was more stubborn than he was.
At his side, Mokuba bounced slightly on his heels. "Yeah, I like Bakura. I like his sense of humor, and he even makes you laugh, niisama! I can't remember the last time that happened."
Kawai nodded, twirling her pen in her auburn hair. "Well, that's good, Kaiba. I'm glad to hear that. Having a friend here would be a wonderful thing for you."
He shrugged, not willing to wade into a debate on that. "Perhaps."
She nodded again pleasantly. "I do see a note in here that you were very rude to Nurse Mazaki last night. Is there anything you'd like to tell me about that?"
The temptation to roll his eyes at the question was too strong to ignore, so he didn't even try. "No. I just don't like Mazaki."
"Why is that, do you think?"
This time he was able to restrain the urge to make a rude comment or gesture. "I just don't like her. She's too... cheerful. That kind of person has always annoyed me."
She smiled sagely. "Miss Mazaki is indeed a very... upbeat sort of person. I can see how that might be annoying. I take it Bakura isn't like that."
He shook his head slowly. "He's a little like that, but not enough to be annoying. No, that's not what I mean. Damn it." He paused, frowning, trying to think how to explain better what he meant. As usual, however, Mokuba had said it best. "He has a good sense of humor. He makes me laugh."
"That's good. I can't say I've ever seen you do that, Kaiba."
"That's what Mokuba said."
"It sounds like Mokuba knows what he's talking about in that case then. I'm definitely glad to hear you've made a friend here then."
"Yeah," he replied sourly, a darker thought suddenly occurring to him, "until you cure him and send him out of here."
She reached out and patted his arm lightly. Of all the doctors, Kawai was definitely the biggest on touching. Sometimes it actually annoyed the hell out of him, but at least this time, he had psyched himself up for it first. That way, it didn't piss him off nearly as badly.
"I don't think it will be happening too quickly, Kaiba. Bakura has some issues we need to work on before he can leave."
Like bleeding walls and trying suicide to make the former cease. He had almost done a good job of the suicide as it was. Yeah, maybe Bakura would be here a while. Kaiba could get behind that, as bad as it was to think. He probably shouldn't have been so hopeful that Bakura might have been crazy enough to be here a while, but well, he was. He didn't exactly have a lot of friends, so he wanted to keep the one he had.
But he damn sure wasn't going to say any of that out loud, no more than he was going to mention the voices he had heard last night or the threat one of them had made. It had been blissfully quiet so far today, so there was no point in bringing stuff like that up really. It wasn't productive to his goal of getting out of here some time soon. Not that he foresaw that happening at any point in the near future, but adding in things like that would do nothing to help matters.
05 July 2010
And here is Part 2. These two were not actually finished in the same day. It just took me until now to get them uploaded.