Crooked Way
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: 1,006
Sequel to: Where Angels
Archive: DarkMagick(dot)net, FanFiction(dot)net, and Apollymi's Grimoire. Anyone else, ask first.

Mokuba had known there was going to be fallout from his Niisama's ordeal at the hands of this still unnamed Collector. At the very least, he had learned to avoid that word in his Niisama's presence. That apparently went double in Bakura's case; the white-haired man tolerated the word even less than his big brother did.

It seemed like he was constantly holding these Sunday nine a.m. meetings, reminding the staff of the new rules. Okay, maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration, since this was only the second one he had brought together since his brother came home from the hospital, but it felt as though there had been quite a few already, maybe even a dozen – and that was probably because he hated doing this. He hated doing it.

Personnel matters had never been something he enjoyed dealing with, at least when it came to the house staff. Personally, he much more preferred dealing with Kaiba Corp employees. Them, he could at least fire when they screwed up. The house staff, though, was another matter entirely. Them, he had to live with. Yeah, he could fire them too, if he took the notion, but upsetting them also ran the risk of food poisoning and the like.

But more than all of that, he hated having to do these meetings because it meant having to admit there was something wrong. It meant admitting that there was something— That his big brother had not been able to bounce back from this.

Oh, Niisama was definitely doing his best. He went to work every day, just like he always did, even if he was often home a lot earlier now than he ever had been before that Mokuba could remember. Part of that no doubt had to do with the fact that Bakura had flat out informed him that he would be home before it got late – and often followed that up with showing up at Niisama's office to drag him home.

(He never thought he would be thinking this, but Bakura was good for his big brother. He actually bullied his brother into taking care of himself, which was something he had all but given up on himself. But if someone had told Mokuba two years ago that he would be thinking this, after Bakura kidnapped him and held him hostage on the roof of Kaiba Corp, he would have laughed in their faces, to say the very least. There was every possibility that he might have even been laughing too hard to keep from doing something a bit more… drastic to them.

Besides, he had had some long conversations with Bakura since the older man seemed to have moved into their house about the things that had happened two years ago: at Battle City, on the blimp, and even on the rooftop. Yuugi would probably deem him mad, but he believed Bakura when he said that had been the monster living inside him and not him. He believed Bakura when he said that he had been able to see what was happening but that he wasn't able to do anything about it. After Noa had taken over his mind in that weird virtual world, he knew what it was like not to be in control of your own mind or body. He certainly couldn't cast any stones.

But if Bakura hurt his Niisama in any way, he was personally calling in the assassins.)

Yeah, Niisama was definitely doing better, but Mokuba was starting to think that he was never going to be back to where he had before all this started, before the Collector had shown up. That person, whoever he was, had taken his big brother for two days, and Niisama had come back... different. He wasn't going to say if it was a 'good' different or a 'bad' different, but it was indeed a kind of different.

But that was neither here nor there right now. Right now, his main concern was making sure that that word was not said in his brother's or Bakura's presence again anytime soon.

Really, he was fairly sure he had to have held more than just a couple of these little meetings with the house staff. It was hard to avoid that word at work – there were enough duelists in the world who wanted to try to buy a specific card off his brother or get a rare edition of a Kaiba Corp Duel Disk that it came up from time to time – but there was really no excuse for it at home.

And it wasn't as if there were any real indications that hearing it actually affected Niisama. It definitely wasn't as if he reacted in any major way. Oftentimes there wasn't even so much as a shudder. It was just that Niisama would go quiet and withdrawn and usually would just leave the room; what happened after that, Mokuba didn't really know. Wherever Niisama went and whatever he did when he left after hearing that word, he never bothered Mokuba with it. If Bakura knew, he was keeping it all very hush.

But Bakura's... idiosyncrasies weren't the problem today. Today the issue had a lot more to do with his big brother and everything that was happening to him. More than that, it had to do with what he was going to do to people if they didn't stop upsetting him. Niisama might have been the kind to break someone financially, but Mokuba found he much preferred a more permanent route. And if people didn't start listening to what he had to say, he was going to start exercising that. He could prove to people that he did indeed have assassins on speed dial.

"Look," he began. And there really was no way to be nice about this. "We don't ask a lot for what we offer in pay. I'm just asking that, in addition to what you all usually do, that you do not let the word 'collector' come up in this house..."

30 December 2013

This chapter of this story has been done since May this year. Why I didn't post it? Lack of interest here on FFnet. Why I'm posting it now? No goddamn idea.

If you have an interest in my writing, leave me a quick comment or PM me or something. I'm this goddamn close to just swearing off fanfiction from here on out because no one is reading it.


[ Prologue | Schedules | Safety | Sensibility | Tenacity | Conscious | Security | Command | Insight | Balancing | Determination | Communicating ]