It was the day the world came crashing down, and when they all realized they were not invincible. Eighteen months later and they were still astounded by the incident. Nothing had been the same. Their lives drastically changed. Especially Yugi Muto's….
"I promise, she'll be fine. My brother's technology is state of the art. Seto and I will be able to get Tea out of her coma in no time!" Mokuba Kaiba, the young vice president of Kaiba Corporation explained. He remained optimistic as Yugi, Joey, and Tristan fought the cloud of depression that loomed over them.
Yugi's face sunk. He hadn't spoken much since Tea's accident. Joey and Tristan rarely left his side. Yugi had been head over heels for Tea, and the two had just begun dating prior to the events leading up to Tea's accident. She was his best friend and he felt absolutely lost without her.
"Mokuba, are you sure this is a good idea? I mean don't ya think the doctor's will be able to take care of her better?" Joey asked. His voice was soft and filled with concern, a characteristic that was uncommon in the spunky young man.
"Yeah, and won't she need medical care? Tristan contributed.
"Of course! That's why Kaiba Corp. has it's own medical team!" Mokuba piped up, "Besides, I want Tea out of this as much as you guys do. She's been in a coma for far too long, and I miss my friend."
"We all do," Tristan said, glancing down at Yugi. Yugi's face stayed downcast. He hadn't looked up the entire time.
The three conversed in the hallway outside of Tea's hospital room while Tea's parents, the Chief of Medical Staff, and Seto Kaiba, CEO of Kaiba Corp., signed papers, filled out documents, and discussed medical emergencies on the other side of Tea's door.
Mokuba tried to smile encouragingly, "This'll be great you guys. Tea's in good hands, trust me. My brother has developed virtual reality software that will help her mind ease back into reality. It's truly an amazing concept!"
The door burst open and Kaiba walked through.
"Let's go, Mokuba," was all he said as he strode toward the hospital's elevators.
Mokuba instinctually trailed behind his brother leaving the group behind.
"Kaiba…." A small voice spoke up. It was Yugi. His vocal chords felt strained from little use.
Kaiba turned around and faced the short young man. He hadn't heard Yugi's voice in an amazingly long time.
"Please, take care of her for me."
Kaiba rarely made promises, but Yugi was different. "I promise you, Yugi, I will."
*Six Months Later*
Stone cold blue eyes pierced through the thick glass surrounding the control room to Tea's virtual reality pod. Kaiba glared at Tea's lifeless body, mentally screaming at her to open her damn eyes. She never did.
Within the control room were Kaiba Corp. technicians, physicians, analysts, and medical doctors who worked around the clock monitoring the young woman, performing brain tests, medical treatments, and various other processes in order to wake her up. Over the last six months since her arrival at Kaiba Corp., they were only able to process minor brain activity, but not enough to send her mind from the virtual reality into the real world.
"Mr. Kaiba," One of the M.D.'s approached the young CEO, "I know we've had this discussion before, but I feel it's time we discuss with her parents about taking her off of life support. From previous tests, the damage to her brain is minimal, but unfortunately, I feel as though keeping her on life support could further damage her central nervous system. I believe it's time we bring her parents in and let them make a decision."
Kaiba stared blankly ahead. He took in every word the doctor said. He had done the math, analyzed the situation before, knowing that the chances of Tea recovering were so slim.
"Sir, she's been here long enough…."
Six months at Kaiba Corp. Eighteen months in the hospital. Two years total. Two years since the accident.
Kaiba inhaled deeply and closed his eyes while pitching the bridge of his nose. If it weren't for Mokuba, he wouldn't be in this situation. He didn't have the vigor to be in control of another person's life. A life he didn't even know….
Yes, Kaiba had known Tea Gardner. Sure, he'd spoken to her when she was with Yugi and his friends, and yes, he'd even saved her life before, but all in all he had never known Tea. They had never become close friends like she was with Yugi, Joey, Tristan, and even Mokuba, but somehow he was the one looking after her. She was his burden now.
Kaiba mentally cursed himself for caving into Mokuba's pleas. He couldn't deny that Kaiba Corp. technology was top notch, even better than most hospitals or labs, but that sure as hell didn't mean he needed to take on this so called 'science project.' Yet, somehow Tea became his encumbrance and everything he engrossed himself in these past six months.
He wasn't about to give up on her now. There had to be a way, he just knew it.
"Sir, would you like me to phone her parents?"
Kaiba opened his eyes and fixed his gaze back on Tea's unmoving body. He held up a hand to hush the doctor. "That won't be necessary."
"But, sir, I'm afraid there's no other way…."
Kaiba turned to the doctor and practically hissed, "There is always another way."
He strode out of the control room, his thick, white trench coat billowing behind him. His feet felt heavy, his mind drained from the exhaustion of this whole ordeal, but he wasn't about to give up. There was one thing they hadn't tried yet….
"Mr. Kaiba, wait! Where are you going?" The doctor shouted from behind him, but Kaiba refused to listen, heading briskly toward the door that unlocked Tea's virtual reality room.
"Mr. Kaiba, you can't go in there! Wait!" The doctor's pleading grew more frantic. He spun around and shouted at a nearby employee, "Get Mokuba down here right now!" He turned back to chasing after Kaiba, "Mr. Kaiba, please wait! You cannot interrupt the environmental balance of the room-"
"Don't you think I know that!?" Kaiba spat, spinning around to face the doctor, "I created this technology. I know what I'm doing." He rotated back around to face the door, working quickly on getting the locks to open.
"But sir you could harm the patient. The room is pressurized." The doctor's eyes widened when he heard the hiss of the door's unlocking system grant entrance to his employer.
Kaiba narrowed his eye, "Lecture me one more time on the technology I've created and you'll be searching for a new job." With that Kaiba whipped open the door, a blast of dry, sterilized air hit him with such a force that it almost took the breath right out of his lungs. He took a rapid step into the room to avoid being chased by the doctor once again.
"Mr. Kaiba, please wait-" The door slammed shut in his face.
Kaiba peeled off his trench coat and left it in a heap on the floor while he made his way over to Tea's pod. He took a few moments to examine her lifeless figure. The breathing tube connected to her nose, the dark circles under her eyes, her pale skin and brittle, outgrown hair, Kaiba was sick and tired of seeing her this way, and he knew this decision was for the best. Tea didn't deserve to miss out on anymore of her life. No one did.
Passing by her pod, Kaiba marched over to a miniature control board, frantically typing in a code. The floor next to Tea's pod began to open, a sliding trap door revealing a second virtual reality pod. The pod rose to match the level of Tea's.
Kaiba closed his eyes. He needed a moment to evaluate his position. There he was, trying to rescue a girl he'd barely known, again…. Of course he had tested out his virtual reality technology before and things didn't always run so smoothly, but there were times when he'd succeeded. Here and now his triumphs mattered more than his failures and he needed to trust in what he'd created. If not, he'd never come back….
Kaiba had tweaked the virtual reality system to specifically mimic a mind that was in a comatose state. If Tea was a vegetable like the doctors were saying, and Kaiba uploaded his mind into the system, a system warped around her reality, a reality that could very well not exist anymore, then Kaiba's mind would be lost, and he'd possibly end up in a state of comatose as well. All in all, it was a risk worth taking. Watching Tea waste away for two years was enough to convince him that if he didn't try to bring her mind back now, he never would.
Taking one last glance at Tea to assure himself was all it took to get him into the second pod.
"Seto, NO!" He heard Mokuba's screams through the loud speaker. His eyes shifted towards the glass wall. Mokuba was behind that control room but Kaiba couldn't see him, it was a one-way glass.
Kaiba lied down in the pod and let his technology do the rest of the work for him. Metal wrist, ankle and waistbands locked his body into place. An eye shield shifted across his gaze, bringing his head to where it needed to be. The glass lid of the pod closed with a click. Mokuba's frantic cries were the last thing Kaiba heard before his mind was thrust into the virtual reality.
When he woke up her heard nothing, saw nothing, felt nothing. All was numb. Silent. Invisible. Kaiba felt his mind slip into a black hole he'd never escape from. He could feel his mind wanting to rest, allowing the nothingness to engulf him and lose himself to a comatose state. Consciousness began to fade fast, like the falling of a sunset, but Kaiba suddenly realized why his mind was here in the first place.
She had to be here, right? His mind would've been consumed into her empty one by now, or was this the slow process of being swept away into oblivion? Was he becoming like her? Was he about to become comatose? His mind wavered between consciousness and unconsciousness, and something inside Kaiba told him he needed to fight the urge to rest, to close his eyes and never wake up.
There was nothing, and that's all that Kaiba knew. He knew he had failed and made the wrong decision. Uploading his mind had ultimately caused his demise. He'd sacrificed his own life to save someone he didn't even know, risking his mind for someone who was already long gone. He would never get time with Mokuba again. He gambled with his life and lost.
Mokuba…. I'm so sorry….
Like a barely audible whisper, the stifling of his slight sob was almost tranquil. Then, he felt it, like a spark rolling down the side of his face instead of a teardrop. Hot liquid burned his cheek and he reached up a hand to touch the side of his face. The soft caress of his own hand assured him that he was indeed beginning to come to his senses.
Black nothingness created an instant gradient into outlines and forms that started to take shape before Kaiba's eyes. Stars and a full moon speckled across a deep, dark blue sky. Tall pine trees littered the horizon until Kaiba recognized he was standing in a clearing of a rich, green, thick forest.
A breeze blew by, giving Kaiba goose bumps. He looked down to examine himself. He was wearing a three-quarter sleeved V-neck shirt; it appeared to be a shade lighter than black, but Kaiba couldn't tell in the night. He noticed he was wearing jeans instead of pants, and his famous card-shaped locked was missing. These were not the clothes he was wearing when he entered the virtual reality pod. Kaiba assumed that his technology was working correctly, because it seemed that Tea's mind was altering everything within this virtual reality. Tea was the owner of this virtual world, and Kaiba was simply a visitor, susceptible to her mind's modifications.
Kaiba closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, holding his breath before he groaned in one long exhale. He snapped his eyes open, his mind feeling sharp and refreshed. The need for rest had vanished with the nothingness and all that reminded was Kaiba's determination to find Tea.
She's here…. Somewhere….
A piercing gasp from behind him made Kaiba almost jump out of his skin, and he twisted around with such force that he thought he'd just given himself whiplash.
There was a young girl standing near the edge of the tree line. She appeared to be around Mokuba's age. She had straight, long hair that was a tad darker than his, and was sporting what looked to be a large floral hair clip that matched her flouncy, bright yellow summer dress. Her eyes were identical to Tea's in shape and color.
Could this be her?
"How long have you been standing there?" She inquired, her hands nervously cupped in front of her chest. They were shaking slightly, almost as if she startled him and not the other way around.
She jogged up to him and forcefully grasped his hand, pulling him in the direction she wanted him to go, "Hurry, it's not safe out here."
Kaiba followed, mainly due to her tight grip on his hand, and asked, "What do you mean it's not safe?"
She didn't look back at him. Instead, she moved a bit quicker, pulling him along with even more might, "It could rain. The creeks will flood."
Kaiba stopped walking and pointed up, "There's not a cloud in the sky."
She followed his index finger and glared up at the stars. She shook her head and yanked on his arm to get him to move. "You don't understand! It's dangerous!"
Just like that there was a soft roar of thunder in the distance, and Kaiba noticed a few ominous clouds developing overhead. He hadn't been in a virtual world in so long he had almost forgotten how quickly environments could change.
The girl tugged on his arm even more frantically this time, begging Kaiba to move, "Please hurry! There isn't much time!"
Kaiba obeyed and began to run with the girl, keeping pace with her, following her through the mess of the forest. They weaved in and out of trees, jumped over logs, sticks and rocks, as well as avoided any small creek or stream like they were the plague. The thunder reverberated. It's once soft roars growing into boisterous claps.
"This way!" The girl shouted, pointing to their left as they ran as fast as they could through the forest. Behind them, Kaiba could hear the rain beginning to fall, drumming vigorously against the tops of the trees. It was almost as if the line of rain was pursuing them.
"Hurry, before the rain hits us!" The girl's voice was panicky now. This girl acted as if the rain was toxic. Kaiba played along with her charade, knowing he was trapped in Tea's mind and the only way out would be through what her mind presented to him.
Kaiba felt a hefty drop of ice-cold liquid smack against his forehead. The instant the rain stung his face was when he heard a terrifying scream. The scream was so piercing it made him instantaneously cover his ears with his hands.
The girl screamed at Kaiba, fear written across her facial features, "She's in trouble!"
Could she mean Tea?
A/N: So, how is it so far? Good? Bad? Love it? Hate it? Drop a review and let me know! I'm actually a huge Tea (Anzu)/Kaiba fan and I needed to come up with a story to get these two out of my system. If you know of any great Tea (Anzu)/Kaiba stories for me to read up, please let me know!
As far as author's notes go, I thought I'd try a new thing where I leave them at the end of the chapter instead of starting my chapters off that way, just so you guys can jump right into the story. Let me know if this is something you'd like me to continue doing or not.
As always, thanks for reading. You're endless support is MUCH appreciated.