Chapter Seventeen
by Apollymi
Disclaimers: Yu-Gi-Oh! is owned by Takahashi Kazuki and all associated copyright holders. Therefore, unfortunately, I own nothing here, except the storyline.
Word Count: 2,658
Archive: DarkMagick(dot)net, FanFiction(dot)net, and Apollymi's Grimoire. Anyone else, ask first.

Oddly enough, the longer he watched the battle going on, the easier it was to keep watching.

No, that wasn't the right way to put it. It wasn't easier to watch it, not with people he cared about out there risking their lives and him sitting on the sidelines making sure that Malik was still breathing. That was still difficult to watch. But it was getting easier to keep his eyes on the daevas. Maybe that should be concerning to him, but right now, he was thanking whoever might be listening for it. He might not be able to fight against the daevas, but he could let the gods know where daevas were, so no one got caught unawares.

It still galled him, not to be able to participate in any way more than this. It didn't seem like enough. No, honestly, it wasn't enough. It wasn't nearly enough. They were losing people left and right. Maybe the only reason the people he knew were still alive was because he had been able to warn them of daevas approaching their blind spots, but it wasn't a huge consolation. Each god that fell meant that there was one less ally to keep the people he actually cared about from dying.

And it wasn't like he could do anything for Malik. The god was breathing quite fine on his own. If that changed for any reason, all he had to offer was the basics of CPR... but there was every possibility it wouldn't matter, not unless something drastic happened very shortly.

Bakura, three at your seven o'clock. Mai, another two behind the one on your left.

What would be lovely would be if he could shove the knowledge of how to talk like this into both Yuugi's and Ryou's heads and let them take over some of this directing. Of course, that would also necessitate bringing them up from Annwn, and it wasn't like anyone could be spared for that at the moment. Neither of them could fight, and it had seemed at the time like they would be more of a hinderance than a help.

Of course, he probably wasn't much better than that at the moment. He could call out directions, but he couldn't fight... and damn it, that still pissed him off. What he wouldn't give for a gun right now. He'd never held one before in his life; they weren't exactly lining up to give them to patients of mental asylums after all; but he had a steady hand and fairly decent aim, so he could at least be putting a few bullet holes into a daeva or two along the way. It probably wouldn't kill them, but it would at least slow them down.

Honestly, he couldn't be sure that a lot was killing them. Every so often, he got a glimpse of lightning or the flash of a sword or the glint of an axe. Usually after that, a daeva would fall. But then it was like a story he had read in one of the many mythology books in Bakura's rooms, about Heracles fighting the Lernaean Hydra: just like the beast growing a new head for every one that was removed, so too did it seem like several new daevas would appear for each one that was killed.

And it wasn't like they were easy to kill either. Oh no, that would have been fair. No, he had seen Malik struggling against three of them yesterday. Now, he was having to watch everyone else try to stay upright and alive against an unending horde of the things.

Jounouchi, five to your right. Bakura, two more coming up behind you. Amane, three to your left. Mai, duck!

How could there still be more of them coming? Surely there had to be an end to them! They couldn't actually be unending... could they?

Atemu, there are about ten heading your way. Mai, another coming. Amane, take about four steps back; you'll have Mai at your back then. Bakura...

-I see them.-

Why did it seem like the daevas were focusing on Bakura? Some part of him tried to think that, realistically, they weren't focusing on Bakura: he was, so he was seeing more of what was coming towards the man. But a very irrational part of him was certain that they were aiming directly for him.

Behind him, he heard a faint cough that almost made him jump out of his skin. Whipping around to look behind, he... Well... The expression about being able to be knocked over with a feather seemed appropriate at the moment.


How in the world the man was moving, he didn't know. How he was managing to slowly sit up, even if it was leaning against a wall behind him, was beyond anything Kaiba could imagine. It shouldn't be possible... but then, none of this should be possible. They had left possible behind a few days ago.

The god was silent for a long moment, clearly trying to determine if he felt up to speaking. It took a bit, but evidently, he ended up falling on the side of it would be all right to try. "You are determined to make me regret offering to stick an icepick in your ear, aren't you?"

"As I recall it, you wanted Bakura to do it," he returned. In a weird way, it was at once an apology and an acceptance of said apology, without either of them ever having to voice it. As far as he was concerned, this was a much better solution than actually trying the apology.

"Have you seen my swords? No one happened to grab them, did they?"

He might have gaped a bit at that. Surely Malik couldn't be thinking of going back out there into that. What came out of his mouth wasn't that, though. No, what chose to come out was, "The scythe things?" He could have hit himself because he had probably just lost any redeeming points he had gained in Malik's eyes. Not that he overly cared about Malik, but he did care about Amane and for some reason she was quite fond of this guy.

Thankfully all he got was Malik rolling his eyes before dryly commented, "Yeah, that would be the ones."

"Yeah, we've seen them."

He wasn't going to say a word about how they had been use to pin Malik to the wall, how Jounouchi had had to pry them out of his flesh, how Amane had cried at the sight. He wasn't going to breathe a word about any of that. If they all managed to live through this, maybe someone would eventually let Malik know about all of that, but it wasn't going to be him.

Instead, he just nodded at where they were resting, still covered in Malik's own blood against the wall. He had tried picking one of them up--and promptly gotten the shock of his life. It was and wasn't like static electricity: it was in that it felt similar, but it wasn't in that he had never felt static electricity nearly as strong. It had been like trying to grab hold of an electric eel or something. There were still burns on his palms from trying to move to a safer location, something he wasn't about to try again any time soon.

"Have at them," he continued, nodding at the two sickle-shaped blades.

The grin Malik offered was savage and bloodthirsty as he grabbed his own weapons and, carefully pushing himself to his feet, joined the fray.

Amane, you have a guest you don't want to kill coming up to your left, he warned the woman quietly.

The dark-haired woman whirled towards Malik... and froze for a long moment, her hands covering her mouth and her eyes huge in shock. The two of them might as well have been caught in ice for the amount of movement either of them was doing. And then there was this rush they did towards one another, and all he could think was this reminded him of those old Forties movies with the couple finding each other after a long time apart, rushing into each other's arms, like the rest of the world didn't exist. They had shown more than a few of those in his time on the inside of the asylum. He had never heard of anyone doing anything like that in real life, but there was a first time for everything he supposed.

And it was a little embarrassing to watch. He was happy as hell for Amane, but watching them wasn't something he wanted to do. Instead, he turned his attention back to the battle going on around them and tried to pretend his face wasn't burning up. It felt like it couldn't get any redder without bursting into flames. Was it actually possible for someone to die from embarrassment?

-Sickeningly cute, aren't they?- Somehow it actually surprised him that it was Mai's voice speaking in his head. Honestly, he had thought if anyone would have sarcastic commentary to add to the diabetes-inducing display in front of them, it would have been Bakura. -Yeah, he's a bit busy.-

Looking again, there had to have been another six or so surrounding Bakura. He was holding his own, though, and that was good. There wasn't any cause to hold back any longer, not like when Malik had been fighting yesterday, surrounded by humans and trying to keep Kaiba alive. He was the only human here now except for Mana. The only other humans nearby were the unnumbered dead lying lifeless around them.

-The unnumbered dead, huh?- Mai commented, her mental voice bone dry. -That's not a bad-- Kaiba, look out!-

There was a hand out of the corner of his eye, moving fast, faster than he could possibly hope to dodge. There was a teeth-rattling, jarring sensation that he was a little worried might be his head hitting the wall behind him.

Everything went black.

The snap of a fist against his cheek woke him up.

It wasn't exactly new or unexpected. He had been catching hell from his uncle for years. A punch wasn't exactly surprising... except where it was.

He couldn't remember what it was he was supposed to have done this time to earn a punishment. Granted, there wasn't always a good reason, but the old man usually at least pretended to have an excuse.

And more than not remembering what he had done to earn the punch, he didn't remember... much of anything. He knew who he was. He knew who Gouzaburou was. He knew that he had a little brother, Mokuba, who was... somewhere. But everything else? A total blank.

What had he done to earn a punishment? Was it something he had done or something Mokuba had perhaps done... or was it something that only existed in Gouzaburou's mind? That had happened before.

But usually by the time the fists started flying but well before the crop came out, there were muttered explanations of why this was happening. His uncle always had to have his justifications for any- and everything.

He was silent right now. That wasn't right.

None of this was right. He should be a child, to be standing in front of Kaiba Gouzaburou, getting caught across the face, chest, side, stomach, with fists. The fists should be angry, not dispassionate. Mokuba should be nearby, screaming at their uncle.

But he was in his mid-twenties. Gouzaburou was silent... and had been dead for years. Mokuba wasn't here because... because... because...

...Because he was still safely hidden away in Annwn.

Which meant... Which meant...

This man is not your worst memory.

"Now remember, everyone! Hugs, not slugs!"

Put like that, and suddenly it was all he wanted to do: beat on someone until the flesh broke and blood poured forth, until what was supposed to be on the insides was on the outside and everyone could see. That had to be the most glorious idea he had heard yet in this place and certain was a lot better than anything anyone in charge had ever proposed.

The problem was that he couldn't decide if he wanted to kill that woman, Mazaki, first or last. Sometimes he thought it would be best to get it over with so he didn't have to hear her anymore, but other times he thought he wanted to make sure she suffered most, so having her go last would be best. He was relatively certain that she was the one who kept making recommendations to up his pills, all the wall talking about things like she knew anything. She didn't know anything.

All of this seemed really familiar, but it also wasn't in a way he could not place. Something was off. Something was missing.

Mokuba. It would hardly be the first time his brother had disappeared in this place. What else was to be expected when the staff seemed so determined to believe the boy didn't exist when he was obviously right there? Who wanted to put up with something like that on an ongoing basis?

It seemed like he was just right here, though, just beside him. They might have even been talking, but Mokuba certainly wasn't here now. There was no one there.

Well, no one except Mazaki anyway. She turned that annoyingly bright face at him, like she was trying to leak sunshine and rainbows from every orifice. "Kaiba-san, if you don't want to join us in checkers," she said, the smile on her face never faltering, "you're welcome to read or watch television." He snorted his thoughts on that matter. The only television he ever wanted to watch was the news, and they very rarely showed that in here. As for reading, he had long since read everything they had to offer, such as the pitiful selection was. "Or you can go back to your room for the rest of the afternoon."

"Sounds great," he bit out hard. "It's better than out here."

Storming out had little effect on the always overly cheerful nurse. It never did. She was already turning away to speak with one of the doctors. The paranoid part of him wondered if they were talking about him. Hmph, probably. There wasn't anyone else here nearly as interesting.

Which was a bit weird, right? Surely there must have been someone here at least as interesting as he was. Very likely not as intelligent, of course, but perhaps nearly as interesting?

Why couldn't he remember? There was something here he was supposed to be remembering. For the life of him, he couldn't puzzle it out. It seemed like it was something important, something he needed to do, to say, to something, but he couldn't hold onto it. It kept slipping right through his mental fingers like sands through the hourglass of a life. If he wasn't careful, all the sand was going slip right on by him, leaving him just another member of the unnumbered dead.

'The unnumbered dead'? He had to snort in amusement as he turned the corner into his room. Now that was a weird thought, even for him. Yes, he did have the occasional morbid leaning; who didn't, in a place like this; but counting himself in with the already deceased seemed over the top even for him.

Mokuba would know what it was he was supposed to be doing. He just had to find his little brother, and things would start making sense again. He just had to find Mokuba.

Out of the corner of his eye, something moved. He tried to turn to face it, but there was nothing there. Whatever was in that darkened corner was something that his mind wanted to slip away from, like it was trying to protect itself.

One thing was for certain, though: it was not Mokuba.

11 April 2014

And now that I'm home again, I can upload this chapter. There are two more to go after this. See you then.


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