This story is in dedication to AlaraLeongod of DeviantART, without whom the character of Kisara, as she is here presented, developed, and explored, could never have come into being.
– Thank you.
Book I | "I Promise"
Seto Kaiba: 12 years old
Kisara: 10 years old
Seto hovered outside the gate, next to the limousine, waiting for Gozaburo. How long was the bastard going to take, anyway? Seto looked up at the orphanage – one of many – which Gozaburo made a show of going to and supporting. The CEO of the biggest war company in the country: a man who dearly adores the orphans of this world. The thought alone made Seto's upper lip curl up into a sneer at the irony. He caught himself though, and righted his face. Not only would he get it from the old bastard if he didn't 'present' himself accordingly, but also Mokuba didn't like it when he sneered. He had never sneered before Gozaburo. However, Seto was finding it harder and harder to oblige his little brother in not sneering. He was twelve now, two years Gozaburo Kaiba's adopted son. Two years. It was 1990 now. How had he survived? With a sneer on my face, he thought wryly.
He never went into the orphanages, soup kitchens or any of the places Gozaburo visited and to which he donated money. He hated seeing the other orphans. He hated the way they looked at him with envy, as if he was born into this, as if he was so much luckier. As if they couldn't have done it themselves! Where he was he got by his own strength. If they envied him, they were weak. And also… also… he hated how wrong they were… how wrong he had been. Some 'better life' he had found for himself and his little brother. Ha. Still, he could push through. He always pushed through.
Seto swallowed and then winced with the pain. He gingerly raised a hand to his throat, wrapped as it was by the gold embroidered turtleneck jacket. It was his step-father's design, this uniform. It was compact… and it hid the marks where the butler's, Hobson's, whip and corrective-collar had rubbed Seto's skin raw. "Tish," he sneered. How long was he going to have to stand here?
Not having been focusing on anything in particular, his eyes narrowed onto a figure on the opposite side of the gate. She looked much younger than he did at first glance, slight and delicate as she was. At second glance though, he wasn't so sure. Those huge blue eyes, even lighter and clearer than his, offset any definite age. Her skin was much paler than anyone else's he had ever seen, so that the blue veins traveling up her arms were visible as she clutched onto the bars that rose vertically to make the gate. She was wearing a very loose smock. He would always remember that later – though kill him if he could remember the color – because, on her chest, all the veins coursed through that pale skin to where her heart was, and he was fascinated. Loose as it was and pale as she was, the scratches and bruises came up starkly on her skin. There were many of them. She had white hair. It seemed to glimmer blue, but perhaps that was just the lighting and the shade. He appraised her in silence for a good while before answering. She was like a little imp from one of his little brother's fairy tale books. He swallowed, winced, and spoke. "Yes?" he asked curtly.
"Are you alright?"
Be blinked at her. "Excuse me?"
"When you swallowed… were you alright? If you have a sore throat I can make you some tea. I just learned how to do it." She smiled at him, stretching a split in her lower lip.
He blinked at her a few more times. What? "My throat is none of your concern," he snapped. He was ashamed to think it, but he was a little nervous of the driver hearing him 'complaining' about his throat to anyone. What the driver knew, Gozaburo knew. And Gozaburo knew that to punish Seto all he had to do was aim for the heart – his little brother, Mokuba.
This girl, with her strange and beautiful features, was a load of trouble from word one. Blue. Pale. Blue. White. Tish, if Mokuba had been here he would have said she was like a human version of the Blue-Eyes White Dragon card he'd crayoned for Seto. Seto lived off that card. It what was what kept him going. It was the ultimate goal: to be a man worthy and independent enough to easily be considered the holder of a – no, all – Blue-Eyes.
Seto had expected this girl to flinch away and look hurt. That was what most children did when he snapped at them, Mokuba in particular. He had been snapping at him too often lately. She, however, just pulled her lower lip into her mouth and sucked on it, looking remorseful. Finally, she let it slip again, now glistening a little. "I'm sorry. I don't spend much time with people, so I don't really know what I'm allowed to ask." She blinked at nothing in particular for a moment before an idea came to her. "Can I say what I think about you? And it's alright. I don't mind that it's not your business! So… would you be alright with that?"
He wished that he had not drawn a comparison between her and the Blue-Eyes. It added a familiarity of nature onto her splendor of appearance that he didn't much like. Liked too well, rather. Don't be stupid. Just look at her! The dragon is strong. She's brittle as a dry leaf. Blue-Eyes is colossal. She's petite. And most blatantly of all, she's a girl. He shrugged. "Whatever. While you're at it you might as well throw in your name and age." Why was he doing this?
That smile got so wide that Seto actually began to worry that the split might open again and start bleeding. She pressed herself against the bars eagerly and in a rush she said, "My name's Kisara. I'm ten. And I saw you and thought you were beautiful because you look like you're doing what you're doing for someone, what with the way you keep straightening your face, and if I was that someone I'd be really happy to know you and as I'm not I'm a little jealous." She looked a little nervous, as if she was not used to saying what she thought out loud, but at the same time was very happy and pleased that she did.
There was an impassive mask that Seto had and which he wore for his step-father's pleasure morning, noon and night. It had somehow managed to slip eschew and was now dangling by his chin. That was the only explanation he could think of for why his jaw should be hanging open as it was. Suddenly he was finding that he really would not have minded if the Blue-Eyes turned out to be female. When he came into his own he would have to make sure to ask Maximillion Pegasus, the creator of the Duel Monsters card game and also his idol, about that.
"You're a whole two years younger than me? I… I thought…I mean, I wasn't sure so…" he was tongue tied. He tried to swallow. And winced.
"Are-?" Kisara opened her mouth but, upon remembering that it was none of her business, buttoned it shut again. They stood, staring at each other in silence for a moment from their respective sides of the gate. If she was already ten there was little chance of her being adopted. Without a word, looking over his shoulder only once to see the driver immersed in some romance novel, Seto stepped closer to the gate, unbuttoning the top of his collar as he went. He angled his head up, so he didn't see her reaction to the red welts that coursed along this neck. He did, however, hear the gasp.
Before he could do a thing about it Kisara went on her tip toes, leaned her head through the bars, gently angled and tucked her face under his chin, and trailed her lips along his neck in little kisses. Again, he couldn't react, not even when she went back onto her own feet, her face slipping through to her side of the gate. Slowly he tilted his face forward again. She just…
"I'm sorry. Should I not have done that?"
He swallowed. He didn't feel anything. Just those gentle soft lips trying to make everything better… "It isn't normal," he answered hoarsely.
"It's fine though." He found himself gripping the bars of the gate now too, his face just above hers. "I mean, you're not really normal, and I think… when I saw you I thought…" She had reached her hands back up to him and was carefully re-buttoning his collar, as if she knew better than he that if anyone found it unbuttoned he would be in terrible trouble. "I thought that…" What could he say? He suddenly wanted to say everything. Her hair. Her skin. Her eyes. He wanted to press his fingers where all those blue veins channeled to the heart. "…you look like my favorite dragon."
Seto knew very little about girls. …That ought to be rephrased: He knew absolutely nothing about girls. But even 'nothing' covered some ground and he knew that of all the complements one could pay a girl – while it was perfectly alright to talk about her hair, her skin, her eyes – saying that she looked like a dragon was never a good idea.
Sure enough, she started to cry.
"No. Hey, look. I didn't mean…" Why? Why was it that when he actually cared about a girl's reaction, rather than her swooning like the rest of the accursed female population, she burst into tears? WHY?
"I'm sorry," she spluttered again. "I'm tired and a little worn out and it's just everything together, but no one's ever said that I looked like their favorite anything. And," sniff, "and I really like you," sniff, "so I was really worried that you would hate me. And looking like your favorite anything," she coughed and sneezed a little, wiping her nose on the back of her hand, "it makes me really happy." And she beamed up at him, her eyes now shining with that blue luster. His knees were not going weak. He was Seto… Seto bloody Kaiba, and Seto bloody Kaiba's knees did not go weak. Fine then… what's a synonym for weak?
He swallowed and nervously let the corners of his mouth turn up, a gesture he had been suppressing for the better part of the conversation. "You keep smiling like that and your lip will break again." He paused. Then, "Are you going to be alright? I mean… don't take this the wrong way, but it looks like you've been beat–"
"–I could say the same for you," she answered, still smiling.
He outright grinned. He couldn't help it. Here was someone who did not envy him his misery. She just cared. Had just come over to ask if he was alright. How long had it been since someone had understood what he felt… and cared?
"My name's Seto." He swallowed hard again. It didn't hurt. "And I'm serious," he said, now leaning between the bars himself. His head was uncomfortably compressed a little as he went through. "You'll crack your lip again…" he was breathless before he even did it. He hadn't done anything this… this human in years. It was nothing short of exhilarating. And then he felt that one rough spot on her otherwise smooth lips and wondered if this was what it had been like kissing his neck. Then, for a while, he stopped wondering altogether.
Voices floated towards them from a distance off. A door closed. Seto dragged himself away from her reluctantly, his hair jostling as he pulled his face back between the bars. He looked up then. There, standing in front of the orphanage, all clustered together in conversation, were the masters of the place and his own, personal, keeper. Gozaburo was standing with his back to the gate, distinguishable by his trademark brick red suit.
Seto's fists tightened on the bars. Someday… someday soon I'll be free of you.
His eyes snapped back to Kisara. Standing as she was, fragile and thin behind those bars, she looked like she was in a cage.
A cage…? Why did that look so uncomfortably familiar. I have to get her out, he thought suddenly. I need to get her to a good family. It seemed like the obvious and necessary thing to do. He felt as if… as if he had done it before.
"Listen to me," he glided one hand along the bar until it overlapped one of hers. "I can't break you out again, or run with you, like I did last time." What was he saying? "But I'll get you out of here. I promise. You're going to get adopted. I'll protect you."
"Seto! While you may have a surplus of leisure time, I do not. Get in the car!" The master of the orphanage had unlocked a door the size of a man in the large gate, and Gozaburo had stepped through it. He was now heading to the limousine without a second glance at Seto, or at Kisara. Seto felt an inferno swelling inside him. Leisure time!? What bloody leisure time you old miserable b– Kisara's other hand closed on top of his so that they made something of a pile on the bar.
"I'll protect you too, Seto."
He did not know how she had known that. After all, while he was the KaibaCorp. heir with, as far as she knew, a thousand assets at his disposal, she was still behind the orphanage gate when she made her promise. However, Seto understood it was not that hard of a question when he actually sat down and thought about it, though that was only many years later. Kisara had known that he did not have a thousand assets at his disposal. She had known that he was just as desperate as she was, and just as helpless. Seto realized that she must have seen in him that which he had always been trying to convince himself of: Though he was helpless now, someday he would overthrow Gozaburo and take his and his brother's lives into his own hands again. Kisara must have seen that resolve in him. It must have been the same as her own. And so… she made her promise. Their promise.
That very night Seto called the only man in this world whom he even remotely admired, if from a distance. A CEO of war machines and a CEO of children's playing cards had little to talk about over dinner but still, that did not mean that Seto could not get in contact with the man easily.
He called Maximillion Pegasus himself.
Seto discovered something about the creator of Duel Monsters five minutes into their conversation as, in the dead of night, he sat up in bed, covers over his head, gingery feeling at the skin on his neck and holding the phone with his other hand. His discovery was this: He did not much like Maximillion Pegasus. At first the fop just took it as a prank call, giggling at Seto's utterly serious request. It was only when he asked Seto to describe what Kisara looked like that his interest perked up. Seto had not much liked that either. Now he was treating the topic with delicacy, as if the features he had described were of some importance. Had Pegasus too made the parallel between the Blue-Eyes White Dragon and Kisara? And if he had, why was it important? The two were not actually related. Seto did not ask if the Blue-Eyes was female.
A month later Seto Kaiba caught a glimpse of the newly adopted Kisara Pegasus on the front page of The Domino Times.
They saw nothing of each other from then on. KaibaCorp. was for war machines. Industrial Illusions was for Duel Monsters. After Kaiba usurped Gozaburo's position he still did not make an effort to see her. Somehow he felt that, in the struggle, he had lost something of that 'beautiful' quality Kisara had first admired him for and, in his own turn, she never had come and saved him from his sorrows.
Then Pegasus kidnapped Mokuba and usurped his company.
Illustrations for this story can be found on my Tumblr, username: Waifines, hashtag: #Their Promise