As far as weekends went, this one had been one for the record books. It wasn't going to compare to Battle City or Duelist Kingdom, not yet, but in its own way, it had been distinctly hellish. It had started poorly, with the note the Collect-- the bastard had left him at work. It got worse as they found out how far the bastard had gotten with his plans so far: eight men spread throughout Japan, all found in the same scarred and comatose state that Bakura Ryou had been in. One of them had been an international tourist, and this time it was making the news. When it had just been Ryou, the news hadn't exactly broken out, and he had been able to keep his own kidnapping out of the papers. Now, though, there was something on nearly every news channel, including the one he tended to leave on for stock prices. Two of the other men had been interns at various companies in Domino, and that was affecting local stock prices in some extremely disappointing ways.
That, of course, had the board of directors down his throat, as though he had some control over what happened inside the city of Domino and over all its various inhabitants. Honestly, he had a hard enough time trying to control the inhabitants of his own house and his company, much less the rest of the city. It would be handy, he thought sometimes, if he could persuade Malik to just hypnotize the entire city into behaving. However, that would demand that: one, he associate with Malik; two, he be able to keep Bakura and Malik from killing each other and/or insulting each other for hours on end in long dead languages; and three, he believe that magic actually existed. As a caveat to three, he would also have to believe that someone like Malik Ishtar was capable to wielding magic more successfully than he himself was able to. He had issues believing that one.
As far as Mondays went, this one was turning out to be fairly normal. The stress of the weekend was still there, but by--he paused going over the assessments for raises he had left at work on Friday after finding that damned note--one-thirty in the afternoon, he was almost able to put some of it behind him. There had been no more notes, thanks to some stroke of luck or benevolent deity. There was nothing to say that Mokuba hadn't had one of the secretary pool come in and go through all the folders over the weekend to make sure that there were no others, but he had no proof of that, not yet.
There were guards outside the doors to his office, though by now, at least one of them was likely trying to make time with his secretary. She was likely shooting them down hard. That didn't matter to him. The guards were there as an extra layer of security. There was another pair of them right outside the elevator doors. There was only one elevator that came to this floor and no stairs made it this high, so anyone coming into this area would have to go by four guards that had been hired by Mokuba. Further more, more than a few of them had been whipped into a security frenzy by his little brother and were unlikely to take any chances with his safety.
From what he had overheard yesterday, Bakura had set a few guards to patrolling the building and property at irregular intervals. When questioned, the white haired man had said that if they were on an obvious schedule, then it would make it easier for people to sneak onto the property. Personally, Kaiba imagined that that was left over from his days as Ancient Egypt's Thief King. Bakura had also admitted to cribbing a few of the building security guards to keep an eye on Mokuba in his vice president's office.
Thankfully, Mokuba had agreed easily enough to not go into school until this was handled. Once the situation had been explained, the school had been more than willing to deliver all his work to Kaiba Corp and hand it over to security. Mokuba would not have any issues with the missed classes, and he had already in fact expressed an interest in Skyping with some of his classmates to be sure everything was being done correctly. Any presentations he might have to do for class could be presented in the same manner, so that worked out quite well indeed.
Of course, if it was this far into the afternoon, well past the lunch hour, he had to wonder why it was that Mokuba or Bakura hadn't come to force him to eat lunch yet. Okay, Mokuba was probably either dealing with the board so that Kaiba could continue to personally go through the personnel files or working on his school work. Bakura, on the other hand, tended to be annoyingly on the spot when it came to making sure that Kaiba ate meals regularly. The white haired man was not one to slack off on his self-appointed job of keeping Kaiba's physical health in a relatively good place, however much it might annoy Kaiba himself. For him to have not already shown up at least once since it rolled over into the afternoon hours was downright confusing.
Maybe he was busy with the new security details, though. Bakura had been taking it upon himself to put these men through hell most of the morning. He had even more exacting standards than Kaiba did, and that was odd to say the least.
Or maybe it was just that Bakura had different experiences with security than he did. Most of his interactions with them had been benign, if not at least semi-pleasant. They kept him safe from as many credible threats as possible, and generally speaking, he paid them well enough not to turn on him. With some exceptions over the years, that had remained the case. Bakura's experiences, however, had been of a decidedly more combative nature. He had been chased by guards all throughout Egypt at one time or another. He had been captured by them at least once that Kaiba was aware of, not that Bakura had ever come out and said as much, though; it just seemed fairly obvious to him.
After all, that scar on Bakura's face seemed too neat to be an accident of any kind, and he had had it in... those dreams Kaiba had had of Seth. He had had them when he was incorporeal in that bastard's basement and in what little he had overheard the idiot brigade discussing of that game version of Egypt. It had to have been the work of someone with a grudge, and palace security seemed likely culprits... and how he wished he could go back in time and slaughter them for it. He wondered sometimes if Seth had felt the same way, if maybe he had taken it upon himself to exact some revenge. If Seth were more like him, the man would have. But Bakura had made a point once of saying that Kaiba and Seth weren't always that much alike, despite how similar they looked. Maybe Seth hadn't taken vengeance on the people responsible... but Kaiba would have, in horrifyingly bloody ways.
That Bakura tolerated the guards as well as he did said something about the man. He wasn't sure what it said--that Bakura was as pragmatic as he had to be to survive, that Bakura valued all of their safety over his own discomfort, that Bakura was determined to put his past behind him--but it said something. No, now that he thought about it, it likely wasn't the last option there. Bakura did cheerfully announce from time to time that he was and would always be the Thief King, professional pain in the Pharaoh's posterior.
When this was all over, when the bastard had been taken care of--whatever that might end up meaning--he was going to have to confront his own fears and ask Bakura where they stood. They had floated in a sort of limbo for the last two years, one that this incident with the Coll-- the bastard had shaken loose. He didn't want to. No, he definitely didn't want to. He could live his entire life happily not knowing if he was or was not a replacement for his lookalike... but he was going to have to tackle it eventually.
He didn't think that Bakura had it in him to use Kaiba as a stand-in for Seth. He also wasn't the greatest person in the world at figuring out other's motives either, though. He could freely admit that he tended to assume the worst about everyone. He was trying very hard not to assume the worst about his lover, though... and he still needed a better word than that. 'Lover' remained too tawdry, like it was just sex between them, when even he could admit that it was a whole lot more than that.
No, he was fairly certain that Bakura was interested in him for himself. Bakura had been trying to make that impression upon him for the last two years, and it was finally starting to sink in. Maybe he could continue to put that uncomfortable conversation off a bit longer. Maybe he could avoid it altogether and just continue ignore that damn niggling sense of doubt that he wasn't as good for Bakura as Seth would have been, that Bakura wasn't as happy with him as he would have been with Seth.
Where the hell was Bakura anyway? It wasn't like him not to be here. Of course, there was always the air vent over the filing cabinets in the corner of his office. Just because he tended to use the ventilation system as a preferred means of transportation did not mean that Bakura also couldn't use them as a fairly comfortable place to spy from.
Dragging a chair up to the wall and using the filing cabinets to balance--and feeling really silly all the while--he could immediately tell Bakura wasn't in the air shaft. There was, however, a plain white sheet of printer paper, the kind used throughout the building, sitting just inside the grates. After his latest experience with notes, he was more than a bit leery of a new one, but this time it was fairly easy to spot Bakura's very particular blocky handwriting, written large across the paper. Mokuba always liked to joke that Bakura was trying to write katakana as hieroglyphics, and sometimes he thought there might be some accuracy to that statement.
I heard some leads I need to check out. Be back by lunch. Will probably show you this note when I bring your food.
So wherever Bakura was, he probably went of his own free will... but he had also intended to be back by now. That did not bode well. It didn't bode well at all.
03 April 2014
So I've dubbed the 2014 April Camp NaNoWriMo my "Big Damn Finishing Project", because I'm secretly a bit of a Firefly/Serenity fan... and because I have no many needs as far as finishing these projects are concerned.
I mentioned this in the latest chapter to Betrüger, but my third book is out. It's the first available under my pseudonym, Ellie Hicks, and I'm actually rather proud of this one. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into it. My editors did a really good job tightening the story all around, and yeah, I think it's my best novel to date.
Not sure what the plan to work on next will be, but clearly I'm doing a decent job getting through some of these stories that have been in limbo for a bit.
See you in another story.