Crooked Way
Chapter Eight: "Insight"
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: 2,667
Sequel to: Where Angels
Archive: DarkMagick(dot)net, FanFiction(dot)net, and Apollymi's Grimoire. Anyone else, ask first.

It had been months since the last time he had spoken to Mokuba-kun. It had been at least a year since he had heard from Kaiba-kun. He talked to Jounouchi-kun and Anzu more than he did the Kaiba brothers, and they didn't even live in Domino any longer.

He could fully admit to some of the blame there. He hadn't tried very hard to keep up with Kaiba-kun's busy schedule... and honestly, sometimes he could admit that he did his level best to avoid any interactions that might involve him having to go to Kaiba-kun's house or office. Part of it was that he knew Kaiba-kun was always busy, but a lot of it was that, frankly, he was still a bit terrified of Kaiba-kun's live-in boyfriend. There was also the fact that it was best not to leave Kaiba-kun's live-in boyfriend and his own live-in boyfriend in a room together, with or without other people in it, for any length of time. To say that Malik and Bakura-san didn't get along was the biggest kind of understatement he could come up with.

But Mokuba-kun had called him in a panic last night, and it was just like that morning two years ago all over again. He almost hadn't answered his phone, given how late it had been when Mokuba-kun had called. He still wasn't sure if he was glad that he had answered or not.

His first thought once Mokuba-kun explained what was happening had been that he had been correct: it was just like two years ago. Apparently the Collector was back. This time he hadn't taken Kaiba-kun, though. Nope, this time he had somehow managed to get his hands on Bakura-san.

It didn't seem possible. He still lived in fear of Bakura-san, since he remembered very well what the other man had been like when he had been the Spirit of the Ring; he was also aware that Bakura-san was not possessed of the longest of tempers for anyone other than Kaiba-kun and Mokuba-kun. Furthermore, he was firmly of the opinion that Bakura-san and Malik were the most dangerous people he was ever going to meet, and most of the time, he was certain that Bakura-san would be the winner if he had ever had to decide which one was more dangerous.

To think that someone had gotten the drop of Bakura-san was... The word he kept coming back to was 'terrifying'. If Bakura-san was the most dangerous person he knew and someone had managed to do something to him, what did that mean for the rest of them? Nothing good, that was for certain.

Since it had been so late when Mokuba-kun had finally been able to reach him, he had reluctantly agreed to show up in the morning. And that was why he was at Kaiba Corp at the ungodly hour of seven in the morning, a time he hadn't willingly seen since graduating high school four years ago. That was why he was being escorted by two of the burliest men he had ever seen, both dressed in dark suits, up to the top floors of the Kaiba Corp building. The whole tower felt deserted. Every other time he had been here, there had been hundreds of people running around trying to get their jobs done before they could end up on Kaiba-kun's shit list. Now, though, there was no one besides security to be seen.

It wasn't any surprise to him, though, that he was led to the vice president's office, Mokuba-kun's office, not what he still thought of as Kaiba-kun's inner sanctum. In the early morning light, the fifteen-year-old looked... rough. In fact, if Mokuba had slept a minute since he telephone Yuugi so late last night, he'd eat his shoes. He looked just as tired and just as worried today as he had those days two years when his brother had been the one missing, and that surprising to him.

Mokuba-kun looked up from whatever it was he was doing on his laptop and offered him a smile that was more a baring of teeth than anything friendly. "Thank you for coming, Yuugi-kun. Malik-san couldn't come?"

There was no way he was going to repeat anything that Malik had said when he'd relayed the content of Mokuba-kun's message to him last night. The pair's usual antagonism was usually fun, but right now, he didn't think Mokuba-kun would appreciate it; he knew full well that Kaiba-kun wouldn't, since he barely tolerated it as it was.

"He's got some other stuff going on." That hadn't been his best choice for what to offer instead, if the frown on the teenager's face was anything to go by. "If we end up needing him, I'll get him here," he rushed to clarify, "but someone has to keep an eye on Kame Games. Jiichan's health hasn't been the best lately." And as long as Jiichan never heard him say that, his own health might continue to be okay; the old man never wanted to admit when he wasn't at his best or that he wasn't as spry as he used to be.

Mokuba-kun managed to hold onto the frown for a few more moments before he finally let it go with a sigh. "I don't know what's going on, Yuugi-kun. We might end up needing Malik-san on this. Our security is good, but they don't know that much about magic. Bakura-kun tried to teach them a little about it, but he finally decided it was like trying to teach 'a brick to bark,' if I remember correctly."

Malik had had a similar experience trying to teach Anzu the basics of magic. He and Jiichan had been able to pick up a few things. Jounouchi-kun hadn't been interested in even trying to learn, and for that matter, he hadn't even been willing to stay in the room while Malik had been trying to teach Anzu. Hearing this bit of news, it made him wonder if a person had to have some kind of connection to Ancient Egypt to be able to utilize the kind of magic Bakura-san and Malik wielded. It made a sort of sense, then, that Bakura hadn't been able to teach even the first step of magic to Kaiba Corp security.

"Malik had no luck teaching it to Anzu," he commented mildly. "I always thought it was just that she didn't have a talent for it, but maybe..."

"Maybe you have to have been in Ancient Egypt to learn," Mokuba finished easily enough. "I couldn't learn it either, but niisama managed it once, putting Bakura-kun into Bakura Ryou's body."

And from the sound of it, Kaiba-kun promptly never touched magic again after that. Somehow that didn't surprise him in the least.

"What do we know this time?" he asked instead of commenting on Kaiba-kun and magic. Because that was an issue he did not want to be the one bringing up.

Mokuba-kun sighed heavily. "The Collector sent niisama a note on Friday. We spent the weekend preparing as best we could. We found that he's been draining people like he did to Ryou and tried to do to niisama. There have been eight people found just like we found Ryou. Yesterday, Bakura-kun went to try to check out some leads. He didn't say where they were or what they were. He thought he would be back by lunch. He wasn't. There hasn't been any sign of him since he left the building yesterday."


Mokuba-kun's eyes narrowed sharply. "He wouldn't let niisama worry like this. I know you and Malik don't care for him, but he's been really good to niisama--and to me."

He could only blink for a second at the vehemence of that statement. "I didn't-- I didn't mean anything by it, Mokuba-kun."

"He's part of my family now, Yuugi-kun." Saying that much seemed like an effort for Mokuba-kun. He wasn't going to ask what Kaiba-kun might have to say. It wouldn't do any good: he could ask, but Kaiba-kun would never answer. He knew that much. "He's family, and I have to get him back. Can you help me again this time, Yuugi-kun?"

"I'll do what I can, Mokuba-kun. I'm not too sure how much help I'll be, but I'll do what I can." He offered a faint, self-deprecating smile. "It's not like there's a video I can help you go over this time."

Mokuba-kun shook his head. "Niisama's still working on that. Last I heard, he was trying to hack into the city CCTV system. It was proving... resistant to his attempts."

He wasn't too sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Well, it was bad in that they couldn't use them to locate where Bakura-san had disappeared from. It was good in that it meant Kaiba-kun couldn't use the cameras scattered through the city to spy on people if he wanted to. Grated, Kaiba-kun tended to stay too busy to do a lot of spying, but Bakura-san and Mokuba-kun... They could be a different story altogether. Right now, though, it was just a bad thing. It meant that there was no easy way to track Bakura or at least find out where he had disappeared from.

"Kaiba-kun hasn't installed a tracking device on Bakura-san yet?" It was only half a joke. He wouldn't put something like that past the older of the Kaiba brothers.

But the teenager was already shaking his head. "No trackers, more's the shame. That would have made this easy." He pushed his chair back and slowly climbed to his feet. "I'm going to go check on niisama. You're welcome to come along."

A wiser man than he was would have immediately stated that he would remain here and try to brainstorm an idea of some sort. He was, unfortunately sometimes, a curious person, so he pushed himself to stand as well and followed Mokuba. There were several more of the security guards between Mokuba-kun's office and Kaiba-kun's office, but that might have been something he had expected. Both of the Kaiba brothers were protective of the other... and now the third member of their family as well, he presumed.

Mokuba-kun didn't even glance at a single member of the guards. They might as well have been part of the furniture for all it seemed to matter to him. But then, he wasn't seeing Mokuba-kun at his best. No one here was going to be at their best right now, and he rather expected that would include Kaiba-kun.

There were a grand total of four guards in the small room outside Kaiba-kun's office. He had lost count of the ones he had seen along the way, but he was starting to think of them as 'the Kaibas small army of security guards'. As long as he maintained that it was only a small army, it was fairly accurate. The ones outside Kaiba-kun's office jumped to attention as Mokuba-kun swept in, though he still didn't seem to be paying them much mind, though they were giving Yuugi curious stares. Maybe not too many people came up here, aside from the Kaibas and Bakura-san? It made as much as anything.

"Niisama?" Mokuba-kun began, already pushing the door open and heading inside. Yuugi had to scramble to keep up. Stupid short legs, stupid growth spurt that never came... "Anything?"

He had always thought of this room as Kaiba-kun's private inner sanctum. He had personally felt ill at ease two years ago when Mokuba-kun had based them out of this room in their search for Kaiba-kun when this same Collector took him. It hadn't changed much. Well, it had and it hadn't. There were still piles of papers littered across the desk. The computer wasn't the same one, but it was still state of the art; Kaiba-kun's personal laptop was still sitting on a corner of the desk. It might have been the same desk as well, but he wasn't certain on that one just yet. There was still a long row of filing cabinets against one wall, and there was still a wall of thick-plated windows behind the desk.

There were small things that were different, though. Some art had gone up in the last two years. There was a clock on the far wall. In addition to the two spindly chairs that had been in front of the desk last time he was here, there was also a third one, one that looked a good deal more comfortable. A spot on the desk in front of it was clear, like it was someone else's small working area or something. There were curtains on that wall of windows that could be closed now for some measure of privacy.

There was still a Kaiba working entirely too hard behind the desk, even if it was the older one this time. If Mokuba-kun had looked exhausted and worried, then he didn't know that he had words to describe how Kaiba-kun looked: drawn, determined, distressed, maybe even tormented. He couldn't see what it was that Kaiba-kun was working on, but from the frown on his face, it wasn't telling him what it was he wanted to know.

"Nothing," he finally answered Mokuba-kun's question, eyes never leaving the screen on front of him.

"Maybe if you give it a few hours' break, and come back to it when you're a little more fresh." Thankfully, it was Mokuba-kun making that suggestion: he didn't think he would have survived it.

"Not until I have something." That Kaiba-kun said even that much was a little surprising to him. He didn't think that Kaiba-kun would have bothered if it had been Yuugi to ask. Even with Mokuba, he hadn't bothered to glance away from the computer screen. "I'm almost through."

"Niisama? You said that a few hours ago." How long had Kaiba-kun been working on this? Mokuba-kun had called him late last night to say that Bakura-kun was missing and they needed help looking for him. Had Kaiba been working on this same thing all that time? "Yuugi-kun is here to help."

That at least got tired blue eyes to glance up at him. Of course, Kaiba-kun seemed to glance him over and dismiss him in turn, but it was better than some reactions he had gotten over the years from the man. Clearly, Kaiba-kun had his own opinions about how much Yuugi would be able to help... and he wasn't sure if he didn't agree with Kaiba-kun on the matter. There was nothing for him to help trace, no immediate signs of magic, no clues, nothing. All he had was the little bits of magic that Malik had been teaching him and the Sennen Puzzle...

Wait a minute...

"Does Bakura-san still have the Sennen Ring?" he had to ask, and suddenly both Kaiba brothers were paying way too much attention to him for his own comfort.

"He never takes it off," came from Mokuba.

Almost too quietly for him to hear, Kaiba-kun corrected, "Rarely. He rarely takes it off." Nope, not getting involved with that one.

"I know the Ring is the one with the ability to trace down the other Items, but we still have possession of all the other Items. Could we use them to help find the Ring?"

"And therefore Bakura-kun," Mokuba-kun finished.

All Kaiba-kun said before turning back to his computer again was, "Do it."

07 April 2014

So, yeah, I promised a new POV. I didn't promise it would be Bakura's. In another chapter or two, maybe, but not just yet.

The Kaiba brothers don't really believe in magic, despite living with Bakura for two years, so the Sennen Items are not exactly the first things they think of.

I'm running about where I need to be for Camp NaNoWriMo. I've finished 9 out of my 24 prompts for 24 Hour Themes with this story.

Now I guess I need to try to hammer some words out on Betrüger. As always, that story is being difficult.


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