He is finally getting around to his little research project properly. Of course, he is already aware of the extensive remodeling her museum is undergoing, her name, her home … all sorts of simple private things that Seto must already have.
Fortunately for Noah, Ishizu Ishtar is not going to remember him, nor realize who he’s placed his alliances with. At least, not if he remains discreet.
He’ll go over this stuff later.
beginning extraction: 0%…
He sends a message to Ishizu’s PC. A simple, anonymous greeting. There are much more important things going on in the background.
He is beginning to get more comfortable. Being in many places at once is becoming easier for Noah now. Not that he is considering this as a permanent solution. But what comes next? Noah is unsure, and this uncertainty makes him wary.
But no matter.
Has Seto gotten his message? Of course he has. Seto Kaiba misses nothing, and this will be no exception.
Voicemail is a useful function. Seto will remember who he hears when he picks up his phone.
He wonders what a holographic form will appear as. Can Noah remember his own face well enough to manage it? It depends on where Seto is, he supposes.
As I drift in this formless darkness, I seem to fade through sleep like a drop of water through paper, never quite waking, only passing into a different phase of consciousness. But sometimes I dream.
Let me tell you about my dream, Seto.
Abraham stands atop the mountain at Moriah, for the Lord has told him that he must slaughter his only son, Isaac. Moriah ranges wide and jagged all about him, and the earth beneath his feet is hot. No sun hangs above, but the sky heats the cracked soil like burning blue glass. There are sparse, shrivelled growths in the sand, and lizards lie upon the flat rocks which break the landscape.
Abraham, trusting in the Lord and placing his faith above blood, prepares the place of sacrifice and binds Isaac. But when Abraham holds down the struggling boy and tips back his throat to expose the soft flesh there, he hesitates. He sees the throb of a human pulse in the boy’s neck and recognizes that the blood flooding through this struggling body is the same blood that fills his own. And so he drops the knife, turns to the Lord, and renounces his faith.
I trust you can see the analogy here, Seto.
Over the coming years Abraham, having renounced his faith and all that made him strong, grows weak and foolish. He becomes ruled by slack narcissism and thinks himself a god, having so bravely defied the Lord.
When Abraham sees what he has become, he comes to hate himself. He cuts open his skin on the rocks that litter the ground, trying to carve into himself some physical proof of his penitence. He stands atop the mountain as though on the lip of an open mouth, one filled with landscape and gravity, and longs for the strength to step into it.
But the Lord sees his pain, and is merciful, and appears again, and says, “Abraham, though you are weak and have failed me, I will forgive you. Give me your only son, and I will make you strong once again.”
Abraham trusts in the Lord, as so does as he is commanded. He goes to Isaac’s bedside, who sleeps soundly, and smothers him. His hand seems so large when it presses over Isaac’s mouth and nose, and larger still when Isaac wakes and his small hands come up fighting to end the game, to seek oxygen. He’s full of blissful naivety to the last.
He is a very small thing, like a lamb or a baby sparrow - it is easy, very easy, to see why one might pity him. I understand, Seto, that his quivering body is hot and difficult to hold as you gently ease him downwards – downwards, into the mattress, and you can feel the vestiges of his dying breath against your palm and it’s difficult… I understand, Seto.
But this is a necessity.
He struggles and almost - almost - slips free, those two grey fish eyes wide pools of pleading and putrescence.
He revolts you. He always has. That pathetic dependence that hangs around your neck like a weight. Tell me truly that you’ve never wanted him gone, never wanted to hurt him.
You can’t do it.
So why not stop lying to yourself and end it?
He will die, and you will grieve, but I promise you the weight will be gone. You will feel so light, Seto, once Mokuba is buried in the earth. Or burnt. Or bobs grey and bloated in a river; I don’t care what you do with the body.
This is my dream. And yet, you say I cannot dream.
Perhaps it is yours.
Why would you dream such a thing?
Are you feeling alright?
You’re not still having nightmares, are you, Seto?
Do you think Mokuba dreams about being kidnapped? About the endless times you failed to protect him? I never kept such a loose hold on my property. It’s almost as if you’re trying to misplace him.
Do you think he dreams about you? Do you think he dreams about Death-T? Tell me, Seto, when you designed the death simulation did you have in mind that you would be using it on your brother? You knew that Yugi would beat him. Did it give you a rush of satisfaction to know you would finally get to see the little wretch suffer?
Maybe he’s forgotten about that. Repressed it. Don’t worry, Seto, I’m sure thoughts of his loving brother torturing him don’t trouble his sleep very often. What else, then? Perhaps he dreams about how you abandoned him. Or how you manipulated him. Or how you struck him. Do you know how close he came to breaking when you sold him out to take over my company? I had to comfort him. Me! When was the last time you soothed your brother’s tears? Does he ever come to you for comfort any more? Or is he afraid of you? It’s alright, Seto, I understand how disgusting he is when he cries. All salt and snot and pawing at your shirt like you owe him something. It’s quite understandable why you wouldn’t want to deal with his pain.
Of course, he has not been without his uses, but do you need the loyalty of a child when you could have the loyalties of armies behind you? Yes, his loyalty is strong, but why do you think that is? If you beat a dog it will still come crawling back to you, thinking it has somehow wronged you. Do you think of him like that? Does he think of himself like that? Your own little beaten puppy?
When you consider the situation objectively – once you’ve set aside your arrogance and self-delusion and thought about it all rationally – there is one conclusion that I find unavoidable. It is this: I have been a far better father to you than you have ever been a brother to Mokuba.
This is not a thing that will help Seto’s mental state.
But he and Gozaburo did have a nice long chat, didn’t they? Noah is under obligation to tell Seto something. It was a part of their deal.
“Gozaburo would very much like to see us as a family again, assuming incorrectly that we ever were one. I apologize - I’m still unsure of the source of these messages, only that he has managed to get his saved personality extremely close to your … personal things.
He seems to genuinely believe that this is a possible outcome for us. How do you feel about it?”
How does it make you feel, Seto? The years of pretence are beginning to take their toll and your body is starting to reflect the true state of your mind. Half naked, crawling on the floor… Does it shame you? Do you think they pity you?
It’s alright, Seto. I will never pity you. This weakness doesn’t even disappoint me, because I’ve always known what you really are.
Don’t trouble yourself trying to get up. Why bother? You’ll only fall down once again.