loser patrol

AU Ficlet: Kaiba and Baby Atem

When I read the following ask, this scene popped into my head. I changed some of the details, but the basic summary is the same - that Atem is reborn as a baby and that his first word is “Set” and that Kaiba is the only one he’ll go to.

@naehja

Title:  Rebirth

Kaiba tried to ignore the small life form wrapping its chubby arms around his leg and mispronouncing his name.

“Set… Set…”

Kaiba glanced down and tried to judge its age.  It looked smaller than he could ever remember Mokuba being, but he’d grown quite a bit himself since Mokuba had been a one-year old.  

“SET… SET… SET…”

It was getting quite insistent.  That was in character, too.  The other Yugi – or Atem, as Kaiba supposed he now had to be called – had always been a ridiculously persistent attention whore.  Really, Kaiba thought, at least his demanding demeanor was somewhat appropriate on a baby.  Kaiba hid a small, traitorous, flash of joy that his rival had been given a new… no a fresh start at life, instead of the death that they’d all expected to be the outcome.

A confused garble of sounds was still emanating from the loser patrol.  They’d just been rejected by a baby who hadn’t quite reached the toddler stage.  It was oddly satisfying. He glanced at his brother.  Mokuba didn’t let him down.  Mokuba nodded.

“SET!!!!!!!”

It was getting hard to hear, much less think.  That was an acceptable excuse for picking the thing up.  Besides, it was cold on the floor and his rival deserved better.  Kaiba didn’t know whether to be offended or relieved that when Atem had been reborn, a cloth diaper had been included as part of his outfit.

Atem snuggled against his chest and nestled his head against Kaiba’s neck as Kaiba wrapped his arms around his rival.

There was a moment of silence, then a chorus broke again out from the loser brigade.  It was a while before any of the voices could break clear of the babble.  It was no surprise Jounouchi’s was the first to break free.

“What did you do to him?  Give him back!” Jounouchi yelled.

Kaiba tried to pretend that the only reason that he wasn’t handing the baby out to them – if only to prove that Atem didn’t want to go – was that Atem had one chubby fist wrapped around his hair, but Kaiba knew better.  There was no way he was ever letting this baby think he was about to be abandoned, even for a moment, even to a loyal group of friends who would probably make Kaiba’s life a living hell by visiting at all times of the day or night.

“He needs to be with someone who will take care of him,” Anzu said, crying.

“What do you think I am?  A Cabbage Patch Kid?” Mokuba shot back angrily.

Anzu looked down.  No one wanted to say anything about Kaiba’s parenting skills in front of Mokuba… but even Kaiba had to admit at times, they’d been less than stellar.  He looked down, and said the one thing he knew to be true.

“A baby is a responsibility, first and foremost. I’m not proud of every action I’ve undertaken in my life, but I’ve always known how to accept that.”

“A baby needs more than responsibility,”  Anzu said.

Kaiba tilted his head to the side.  He wasn’t sure he agreed.  Responsibility had, after all, been a quality singularly lacking in all the adults he’d run into in his life.

“A baby needs love,” she continued.

“What this baby needs is a second chance.  One that I’m willing to provide.”  Maybe he thought, it was a another chance for him as well.  Atem had told him once to let go of his hatred and anger. He’d never told Kaiba whether anything would replace it.  Now that Kaiba was ready to let go of rivalry as well, he realized that “replace” had been the wrong word.  He looked at Mokuba.  Some things – like family – had been there all along.  Kaiba buried his face in the mess of tri colored hair.  It was amazing, he thought, how babies always managed to smell like rain, how they carried the scent of the future with them.

“It’s not our decision,” Yugi said, sadly.  “We had him for his teenage years.  He was ready to leave us.  He has, in a way.”

Kaiba looked up at that.  He stared for a moment into Yugi’s determined, hurting face.  Was this, he wondered what it felt like to let his bitterness go?

“He’s not going very far.  I live right across town.”

“You mean…”

Kaiba’s lips twitched into his familiar smirk, “It makes more sense than hiring extra security to try to keep you out.

“Thank you, Kaiba,”

Atem turned as if he’d finally recognized Yugi’s lighter tones, now that his partner sounded happy again.  He reached out.  Yugi came to him immediately and hugged him.

“Yu… Yu… Yu..”

If Set had been his first word, Yugi was his second.