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Business as Usual (Yu-Gi-Oh, Seto Kaiba&Téa Gardner&Yugi Muto&Joey Wheeler&Mai Valentine, #3)

Title: Business as Usual
Fandom: Yu-Gi-Oh
Subject: Seto Kaiba, Téa Gardner, Yugi Muto, Joey Wheeler, & Mai Valentine
Theme(s): 3; Late night conversation
Disclaimer: The characters aren't mine, but the story is!
Will be cross-posted to 30_gens, 18coda, 10_inspirations, and http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4297256/1/


This ficlet was inspired by the prompts “Late-night conversation” at 30 Friends, “fermata” at 18coda, “Sick day” at 30 General, and “Change is the essence of life” at 10 Inspirations on LiveJournal. There are a few references to some of my other stories, but this story can be read independently of the others. Disclaimer: I don’t own these characters.
*********************************

It was an odd sight that greeted Yugi Muto and his friends as he was preparing to see them off that evening. A solitary light was visible in the towering office building of Kaiba Corporation, which could be seen from where they were standing. The large light was clearly coming from the largest office, which obviously belonged to Seto Kaiba. And for some reason, the light concerned them, not because he was working late, but rather because every media outlet was reporting on how ill he had become upon falling into the ocean during an altercation with a greedy usurper. They even reported, at one point, that the young CEO had been lost to them, though he eventually resurfaced, visibly unwell.

“That’s… strange,” said Mai, her eyebrows arched. “Didn’t the news say that he was calling in sick today?”

Téa nodded with a slight shudder; she had witnessed his fall into the water, and was wondering what on earth would possess him to return to work so soon, especially when he was in no condition to do so.

“You know Kaiba,” said Joey, with a roll of his eyes. “He thinks nothing can keep him down; he’s probably trying to defy everyone who thinks that he can’t overcome adversity.”

“At what cost…?” asked Yugi, concerned for his former rival.

“Well, what else can we do about it?” asked Tristan. “There’s no way he’d listen to us, so why bother? I’m out of here.”

He decided to leave, and Duke and Bakura eventually said their goodbyes and left as well. Joey was about to leave, but stopped at the look on Yugi’s face.

“Mai?” asked Yugi. “Do you think you can take me to Kaiba Corp.?”

“Yugi, why are you doing this!?” Joey asked, clapping a hand to his forehead. “You know that if you go to his office, Kaiba is just going to throw you out!”

“Kaiba probably isn’t well enough to throw him out, much less work,” said Téa. “Joey, I was there; he didn’t look well at all, and that was before he fell in. Yugi, I’m going to go with you.”

“And since I’ll be driving you there, I may as well tag along,” sighed Mai.

All eyes turned to Joey, who seemed to be waging a personal war in his mind.

“Alright, alright; I’ll come, too,” he said at last. “But if he insults me again-- even once, I’m out of there!”

*********************************

Meanwhile, Seto Kaiba was, indeed, hard at work on his computer. It made no difference that one of his arms wasn’t up to par, that his muscles were still sore, or that he had been diagnosed with a mild fever upon his return to Domino. He had reluctantly taken the day off, only doing so after Mokuba’s insistence. But that wasn’t the way he worked; he couldn’t sit idly by and rest while his company needed him.

And that was why he was here now, going over the day’s events. Who could rest at a time such as this, when his company had nearly been snatched from his hands? No; he would have to make sure that everything was once again secure and safe from greedy crooks.

He glanced quickly at the closed door. He knew that Mokuba would be waiting on the other side, half-asleep. Seto had told him not to come, but Mokuba had insisted upon doing so, in case something happened. He was still certain that Seto was not fully well, and felt as though he needed to be there in case something went wrong and Seto became worse.

But he couldn’t become worse; how could he? He had experienced the very worst, and from here on out, recovery would be easy. And the fact that he was here, back to work, was proof. Ignoring his frequent bouts of coughs, he proceeded with his work, making sure everything was as it should be.

Mokuba, in the meantime, was diligently trying to remain awake outside the door. He suppressed a yawn, concerned over his brother’s health. Mokuba wanted to think that Seto knew what he was doing, but knowing how Seto tended to show the least bit of concern for his own health when possessed by his pride didn’t give the raven-haired boy much confidence in him.

But Mokuba’s thoughts were diverted by the arrival of Yugi, Téa, Joey, and Mai as they walked down the corridor.

“What are you guys doing here so late?” he asked, surprised to see them.

“Same reason you are, I guess,” said Téa, indicating the door.

“So… how is he?” asked Yugi.

Mokuba shrugged.

“He didn’t even want to let me in; that’s why I’m waiting for him out here,” he said. “He’s been coughing a lot all day, and he didn’t take anything, even after the doctor told him that he had a fever and should rest for a few days. He says he’s alright, and he probably even believes it, but…”

“He’s not contagious, right?” asked Joey, causing Mai to elbow him in the ribs. “Ow! I was just saying that he probably doesn’t want us showing up anyway, and if he’s contagious, maybe we shouldn’t--”

“Of course he isn’t contagious,” said Mokuba, with a roll of his eyes. “But I seriously doubt that he wants anyone around…”

“Well, he can’t keep us away,” said Mai. She opened the door, and entered in along with the others.

Seto glanced up from his laptop for a fleeting instant, to identify the visitors. Upon realizing who they were, he immediately went back to work.

“I always thought that you restricted your friendship campaigns to broad daylight,” he said, not looking at them directly. “Bit late for you to be parading around, isn’t it?”

“Oh, and it isn’t too late for you to be working?” asked Téa folding her arms in feigned annoyance. In truth, she was worried for the young businessman, but saw no reason to let him know it.

“Not that it’s any of your concern, but I’ve pulled all-nighters several times in the past without drawing a crowd,” Seto replied. “I, for one, don’t see why tonight should be any different.”

“Kaiba, I think you know why we’re here,” said Yugi.

“Yes, Yugi, I do know,” the CEO answered. “And since you probably know what my reply will be, you might as well leave, since you won’t be able to convince me that you’re right.”

“Look, it’s not like we’re trying to get you involved in another ‘mind trick,’ as you call it; in fact, it’s just the opposite,” said Joey. “Do you want us to spell it out for you? You’re not well, Kaiba.”

“I don’t recall asking for your opinion, Doctor Wheeler,” Seto replied, sarcastically.

Joey clenched his teeth, but Yugi quickly spoke up before the blond youth could retort.

“Téa told us exactly what happened,” he said. “Why are you working when you should be focusing on getting better?”

Seto glanced back at them now, and his condition became clearer; he was visibly pale and sweaty, and his normally vibrant blue eyes were slightly sunken. And the others had noticed from the beginning that the businessman’s normally rich, commanding voice was rather hoarse.

“You would never understand,” Seto replied. “I can’t casually toss aside my responsibilities.”

“So you’re tossing aside your health instead?” asked Mai. “Smart, Kaiba; very smart…”

“Since all of you have recently developed an interest in health, why don’t you leave me to my work and go apply to med school?” the CEO retorted.

“I’m surprised that you got ill at all,” said Téa. “You’d think that you’d be too stubborn for any cold or fever.”

Seto merely countered with a roll of his eyes and returned back to his computer screen. Mokuba let out an audible sigh; he had fully expected the conversation to go this way.

“Kaiba, can’t you see that we want you to get better?” asked Yugi. “We’re your friends, Kaiba--”

“Friends?” asked Seto, as though he had misheard. “Haven’t I mentioned in the past that I’ve never needed friends, and that I never will?”

“Frequently,” the four replied in unison, prompting Seto to roll his eyes again.

“Then why can’t you understand that simple concept?”

“Because they’re right, Seto; they’ve helped us out far too many times for you to just ignore them,” said Mokuba, coming forward. “And they’re right in saying that you shouldn’t even be here right now; you should be at home. The fact that you’re able to work is because you were fortunate enough to make it back here, in spite of that cough, fever, and any other afflictions that you haven’t mentioned.”

“And believe it or not, Kaiba, we’re worried about you,” said Téa. “I don’t know why; but we are.”

Seto didn’t reply. Oh, he had heard these speeches about friendship countless times before. And he had tried his very best to ignore them. But the more he tried to dismiss them, the more the lectures came… and the more they seemed to make some mild sort of sense. But his pride wouldn’t allow him to admit that so easily, especially in front of them.

“Thank you all for your counsel, which was completely not requested,” Seto said, focusing on his computer screen.

Now it was Téa’s turn to sigh. She didn’t like the thought of giving up on anyone, but Seto Kaiba seemed determined to never change. But she knew that they still wouldn’t give up; they would keep trying, and maybe one day he would see that they were right. She just hoped that he would be in a good enough state of health to appreciate it.

The four friends reluctantly took their leave of the brothers. Seto tried to focus his mind back on his work, but it wasn’t easy. After trying to ignore another wave of coughs, he had to admit that he wasn’t at his best. And Kaiba Corporation always deserved the best.

Mokuba was still in the room now, standing with his arms folded as well. Clearly, he wasn’t going to move from that spot until Seto was either finished with his work, or would have to quit.

With a slightly frustrated sigh, Seto closed the cover of the laptop.

“One of these days…” he said, with a false air of scorn. “They’re going to seem too reasonable to perpetually ignore.”

Mokuba sent a silent thanks to the others.

************************

Mai was pulling the car out when the group noticed, after glancing in one of the side mirrors, that the light in the office had gone out. There was a stunned silence, as they realized that he was, in fact, going home.

Get well soon,” Téa thought.

And with that, the friends went on their way. Seto Kaiba may be a walking mystery all his own, but whether he accepted it or not, he was their friend. True, he would be inclined to deny it, but the way things seemed to be was that when someone denied that they needed friends, it meant that they needed friends more than ever. And they would be there for him, whether he liked it or not.

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