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Hot Milk

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“A regular latte with eight extra shots.” 

You feel yourself stand up straight, every hair on edge, at the thought of so many shots in one drink. The man in front of you isn’t a stranger. Everyone who works at this cafe knows Seto Kaiba. So you know that he’s no novice to coffee and caffeine. But you have to ask, “You do know that’s ten shots of espresso right?” 

He raises a single eyebrow. 

You stare right back at him. Nothing in the world can convince you that giving a single person ten shots in one go is a good idea. You won’t even consider it unless he confirms that’s what he wants. 

“I’m not an idiot,” he says after maybe a minute of silence. 

“Wasn’t asking if you were, but ten shots is… a lot.” It could kill him, depending on the condition of his heart. It isn’t likely to kill him, but hospitalization is very possible and death could happen. You don’t think you can have that on your conscience. 

He scoffs. “I don’t need someone who can barely add two plus eight lecturing me on how much ten is. Are you going to get my latte or stand here giving me more basic math facts?”

You roll your eyes at his response. You aren’t going to nursing school for nothing, and you wouldn’t feel right giving him so much caffeine in one cup. His body tilts a bit, enough for him to grab the counter for stability. His irritation may just be his natural disposition, but if you were a betting woman, you’d say he’s gone too long without sleep and is now trying to compensate with shots. 

“Sir, I’m not going to give you that many shots.”

“Then you’re fired.” 

For a moment, you can only blink at his confidence. He must be delirious. “Mr. Kaiba, you aren’t my boss.” 

“If you know who I am, then you know that I can buy this whole building just to fire you! Get me my coffee or get your manager!” His anger builds with every word, and by the end, he sounds like a five-year-old in full tantrum mode. 

You are the manager on duty tonight, but he won’t believe you. There’s only one other employee on duty with you, and you don’t want to pawn Kaiba off on him either. He’d just give Kaiba the ten shots to placate him. 

“Mr. Kaiba, we reserve the right to refuse service, and I refuse to give you enough caffeine to send you to the hospital. Please go home and sleep.”

His eyes narrow. “Mokuba paid you off didn’t he! Whatever he offered, I’ll double it.” 

“Excuse me?” You’re convinced this man has now gone off the deep end. 

Then he digs into his wallet and pulls out a large wad of cash. His smacks the money down onto the counter. “This should be enough.” 

The man is persistent and the money is tempting…

The future nurse in you says not to do it. He needs sleep. His heart does not need to race, and his blood pressure is likely already off the charts. 

You take the money. Then you gesture toward one of the fluffy chairs for relaxing. “Please have a seat as I prepare your drink.” 

“It’s always about the money with you people,” he mutters loud enough for you to hear. 

You grit your teeth and consider giving him enough caffeine to power the city. Maybe then his heart would literally explode.

If he even has a heart. 

You pocket the money, intending to find a way to give it back to him, and wait for him to actually sit down before you turn to the espresso machine. You wave off your co-worker, not wanting them to give away your plans, as you prepare a nice cup of hot milk and give it a little decaf for flavor.

You’re tempted to try to sneak him a chamomile tea, but you don’t think you could convince him to take more than one sip. 

You take your time mixing in the decaf and frothing the milk. By the time you walk around the counter to bring the cup to Seto Kaiba, his eyes are so focused on his phone’s screen that you don’t know if he’s even functional. 

“Mr. Kaiba, I have to insist that you stay here while you drink this.” You hand him the drink and push his shoulder back to keep him from standing. You don’t expect to be able to hold him down, but pushing on his shoulder does keep him from being able to stand. 

You reconsider your assessment of how far gone the man is. Sleep must be a distant memory for him. 

“I’m close to finding the right deck to beat Yugi.” His protests fall on deaf ears as you continue to insist that he stay seated. He drinks his hot milk, and you wonder if he’s too distracted by his conversation with you to realize that the taste is wrong. 

“Did you drive here?” you ask, ignoring whatever nonsense he happens to be saying. In his current state, he’s more dangerous than a drunk driver. 

“I’m not an idiot,” he says. Then he takes a long swig of his drink. He swallows the liquid before staring at the cup with a frown. “Why isn’t this helping?” 

Decision made, you retreat and hurry back to the counter. “I’m taking off early.” You put your apron down on the counter. “Go ahead and close up an hour early. Can you hand me my bag?” 

Eager at the thought of leaving early, your coworker is quick to hand you your purse before you change your mind. Luck is on your side, and Kaiba hasn’t made it to the door by the time your purse is in your hands.  

You catch up with him and follow him out to the dark and empty street. He steps up to the edge of the sidewalk and looks left and right. Worried he might step in front of a car, you link your arm with his. “Where’s your ride?” 

“I told him to fuck off. He seems to have taken me literally.” 

Well, that isn’t unexpected. The only thing keeping you from letting this man kill himself is the fact that you would feel awful forever if you saw his death on the news tomorrow morning. Yes, maybe you’re already going to the Bad Place, but you don’t need to cement your place in eternal doom through manslaughter. You guide Kaiba to your car, hoping you won’t regret this. The thought of having a man you don’t know in your car is frightening, but you feel sure you could overpower Seto Kaiba in his current state. It’s the only reason you unlock your car for him. 

Even so, you put him in your backseat. He mumbles something about firing his driver, but you’re not sure if he knows that he isn’t in his own vehicle. 

“Can you buckle yourself in?” 

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he says. He continues to drink his hot milk and doesn’t make any motion toward the seatbelt. 

You take a deep breath. You don’t have any real choice in the matter. Then you lean into your car and grab the seat belt. You try to avoid touching him as you put a hand down on the seat to keep yourself from falling into his lap. This close, you can smell him, and while he doesn’t smell bad, you’re not sure if he should smell so musky. You brush against his chest as you pull the seatbelt over to the other side of him.

Then his arm is wrapped around you, and his hand is in your hair. You turn toward him, allowing his lips the opportunity to press against your own. Surprise makes you hesitate, and you feel his hands grip your body as he kisses you. Then you pull away from him, almost stumbling back as you remove yourself from the car. 

He’s glaring at you now, and you tell yourself that he isn’t fully conscious. He seems delirious, and honestly, that’s the only reason you can think of that explains why Seto Kaiba just kissed you. 

Deciding it’s better to just drive extra cautious, you shut the car door without making another attempt at belting him in. 

When you get into the driver's seat, Kaiba is silent. You turn off your radio the moment you start the car in the hopes that the silence will help him rest. You don't ask him where he wants to go. You don't care. Everyone knows where the Kaiba Mansion is located, and you assume that's where he sleeps so that's where you'll take him.

It's past rush hour, and the streets aren't too busy, but you take your time driving there. You take turns with care, trying to avoid jostling your passenger. The easy and quiet ride does the job, and he's asleep in your backseat once you make it to the mansion. 

When you pull up to the gate, a guard materializes next to your car. You roll down the window, and he tells you to get lost. 

You smile. “I’d love to, but I happen to have Seto Kaiba in my backseat.” 

The guard looks bored until he shines his flashlight into your backseat and sees his boss lying there. Then his eyes widen as he looks back at you. His hand reaches down to something on his belt, and you hold your hands up. “I’m just trying to drop him off. Nothing crazy here I swear.”

The guard stares at you and then looks back at the backseat. “How do I know that’s really him?”

“Dunno.” You shrug. This was turning into more work than you expected. You should have given the man his death wish back at the cafe. “I’m more than happy to leave him here like a homeless bum though.” 

The man doesn’t think your joke is funny. “Stay here,” he orders before retreating back into the little booth next to the gate. He picks up a phone and appears to be speaking to someone. 

This really isn’t what you signed up for. You thought you could just pull up to the mansion and someone would take Seto Kaiba from you, and then you could go back to your life knowing you’d done the right thing. 

The gates begin to open, and you watch as the guard makes his way back to your car.  

“Keep driving down to the main house and park your car in front of the double doors. Someone should be waiting for you there.” 

You thank him and roll up your window. You continue to take your time as you roll down the driveway, treating it like a parking lot in terms of speed. 

By the time you reach the double doors, the doors are wide open and there are three men in front of the steps. You pulled up to them and got out of your car. "Hello!" you say as you open the back door. Then you back away to give them access to the man sleeping in the backseat. 

One man steps forward, and you realize that he's just a kid. He looks into the backseat before nodding at the other two men. The kid then steps up to you and crosses his arms, and despite being shorter than you, he fixes you with a glare. "What do you want?"

Woah. You take a step back, not expecting that pure vitrol. "To not have his death on my conscience." 

The kid just taps his foot as if he expects more. You can't stop yourself from glaring back at him. You don't need this kind of attitude for trying to do the right thing. 

"Get off me!" The two men had tried to get Kaiba out of your car, and now he's swearing at them. 

The kid turns away from you. "Keep her here," he says to the guards. Then he leans into your car. "Seto! I was worried."

You can't help but be annoyed as the guards move to flank you. "This is garbage!" You push past the men to your car. "I just wanted to get him home. Next time I'll give him the heart attack in a cup." 

Kaiba emerges from the car. "She wouldn't give me coffee. Thanks for that, Mokuba."

"Yes and I regret that now."

"Oh!" The kid, Mokuba, smiles at you. "Sorry, I didn't recognize you. If you stick around, you can have your payment now."

You're caught off guard by the exchange. Clearly the paranoid nonsense earlier had some basis in reality. "You don't know me," you say to the kid, not wanting to stick around. Their dynamic might be weird, and Seto Kaiba might be a bit unhinged, but you just want to go home. "So you wouldn't recognize me." You slam your car door shut now that there's nobody in there. "Can I leave now?" 

Nobody objects so you turn to open the driver's door. Then you remember the wad of money in your pocket. "Ugh." You groan and turn back to the men. You pull the money out and hold it in front of Mokuba, offering it to him. He just stares at the wad of cash so you wave it a little. "Here." 

"Why are you paying me?" 

You roll your neck and look up at the sky. Maybe this family is just stupid. "I'm not. Your brother tried to give me this earlier at the coffee shop. I took it so he wouldn't cause a fuss, but I didn't actually give him the drink he wanted so I'm giving it back. Can you take it for him?" 

Your question is rhetorical, and you only wait a moment before reaching forward to shove the money into Mokuba's shirt. 

When you leave, your tires peel out on the way, and you can't help but feel like doing the right thing is way more trouble than it's worth. Who cares if you spend an eternity getting tortured anyway. 

The next day, a bouquet of flowers are delivered to you. The note simply says: Be ready at 8pm on Wednesday. -Seto Kaiba