Chapter Two: A Surprise
Author's Notes: I'm sorry it's been a lifetime since I've worked on this story! The following chapter was written, for the most part, all the way back in 2014. I'm hoping that finally posting it after all this time will motivate me to start writing again.
This chapter introduces a new character, but I assure you Kaiba and Pegasus will remain the primary protagonists of this adventure! Enjoy, and please review if you feel so inclined - any feedback is appreciated!
Yugi Mutou sat at the breakfast table in the upstairs apartment of the Kame Game shop, glancing absently at the small television on the kitchen counter, munching silently on his simple breakfast. It was 6:45 AM. He needed to leave for school in about fifteen minutes.
"In gaming news, the newest series of Duel Monsters cards is slated for release September 25th of 2012. The premiere event and accompanying promotional tournament at Domino Kaiba Land is certain to attract Duel Monsters enthusiasts from around Japan and the world."
Yugi took another bite of toast. He wasn't sure if he would go to the event – Kaiba Land tended to be crowded and he didn't necessarily enjoy the attention. It was bad enough being a local celebrity as it was sometimes. Every time he thought of himself that way, he couldn't help but shake his head – it seemed a bit silly. He supposed it could be worse, though.
Switching off the television, he grabbed his brown canvas backpack and ran downstairs. Throwing on his shoes in the foyer, he smiled at his grandpa, who was getting ready to open up shop for the day. "Goodbye, Jii-chan!" he waved as he ran past, hoping to catch the 7:20 AM train to Domino University. He liked getting to school early so he'd have time to hang out in the student center and chat with Jounouchi and Bakura (well, usually just Bakura – Jounouchi rarely arrived early if on time at all.)
"Have a good day at school, Yugi! Study hard!" Sugoroku gave him a kind smile and waved back.
"I always do!" Yugi winked, dashing out the door. He stepped back to poke his head in for a second - "Do you need anything before I go? Should I put out the 'open' sign?"
Sugoroku chuckled. "Not yet. Let this old man finish his tea first."
"Hmm." nodded Yugi, smiling. "I'll see you later!" the door closed behind him, jingling.
Yugi started walking east toward Domino Station, one hand on his deck in his belt holder, whistling slightly to himself. It was a perfect morning – sunny and warm with a slight breeze; barely enough to tousle his wild hair. He smiled as he felt the sunlight on his face – he was ready for the day and couldn't wait to see his friends.
Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a sleek black sedan with tinted windows parked at the end of the street. He didn't think much of it even when he heard the ignition and it began moving slowly in his direction. Looking over his shoulder, he shrugged it off at first... until it pulled up next to him.
Suddenly, Yugi felt slightly anxious, picking up his pace. It's probably just another fan or journalist, he realized, sighing. Composing himself in an attempt to appear as polite as possible, though frustrated (they'd made him late to school before) he stopped, turned, took a deep breath, straightened up and put on his best forced smile to address whoever was in the vehicle.
The passenger window rolled down slowly... and Yugi almost fell over when he saw who was inside.
"Long time no see, Yugi-boy!"
"P-Pegasus?!" said Yugi, awkwardly catching the book he'd nearly dropped.
It was unmistakable. It was not only Pegasus, but he was the one driving and appeared to be the only person in the vehicle. And he looked... different. Yugi immediately noticed not only his very realistic prosthetic eye but the fact that he was "dressed down", at least as much as such a thing was possible for the man. Instead of his usual overly showy attire, he was wearing a dark gray suit that would actually be passable in a boardroom meeting, an understated salmon-colored collared shirt and a traditional, dark-blue tie. It was almost as if, for once, he was trying not to draw attention to himself.
"Yes, it's me! I'm in town on business relating to the upcoming Duel Monsters event, but I'm sure you know all about that! On your way to school, I see? Would you like a ride?"
"Uhhh..." Yugi was completely at a loss for words. This was the absolute last thing he'd expected. Is this really happening? "I was, uh, going to catch the... train..." he pointed weakly in the direction of Domino Station, smiling awkwardly.
Pegasus gave a dismissive hand gesture. "Don't be ridiculous. I'll get you there a lot faster!" He revved his engine - "This is a pretty fast car! Besides, I'm sure we have plenty of catching up to do. And -" he opened something on the seat next to him that appeared to be a briefcase - "I brought a gift for you!As of yet, unreleased to the public!" He held up a fanned handful of shiny new booster packs, shooting Yugi an expression that would have been condescending coming from almost anyone else, as if Yugi were a child who couldn't resist the temptation of a new toy. "Not even Kaiba-boy has access to these."
Yugi felt markedly uncomfortable. Although Pegasus had acted nothing less than legitimately towards him for the past five years, on the rare occasions they'd met in person, there was just something about his overall demeanor that never failed to raise suspicion in Yugi. I'm probably just being unfair, he thought. He's changed. He's my friend now, I guess. Somehow, that word still didn't quite seem to fit whatever the eccentric game designer actually was to him, as liberally as Yugi tended to use it.
The young man sighed. Although Pegasus was a bizarre and sometimes confusing individual, he supposed no real harm could come from accepting his offer. He wanted to say something along the lines of "it wouldn't have killed you to call first" but for the time being his culturally ingrained courtesy trumped his annoyance.
Pegasus pressed a button that caused the passengers' side door to swing open and placed the briefcase in the back.
"Sure," Yugi said passively, trying not to sigh. Does he even know where Domino University is? I guess I can give him directions...
He couldn't help but marvel a bit at the plush interior of the vehicle. It was obviously brand-new. He slid into the leather seat and a seat belt fastened automatically as he closed the door behind him.
"Nice, isn't it? I just bought it," said Pegasus as he put the car into gear, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he was flaunting his wealth. "Oh, I and brought coffee! You are a coffee drinker, correct? I hope so, because otherwise I don't know if we can be friends."
"Uh... yes, thank you!" said Yugi.
"Black or caramel macchiato with extra caramel?" said Pegasus, gesturing to the two cardboard to-go cups in the cup holders between their seats. Yugi noted, perplexed, that one of them had a cartoon drawing of his face on it. How had Pegasus known that was his favorite?
"I'll take the macchiato, if you don't mind. Thank you very much!" he bowed slightly.
"My pleasure! I'm glad you didn't say 'black,' because I've already been drinking out of it. Are you buckled up?"
"Yeah... Pegasus, if you don't mind me asking -" Yugi was lurched back against the seat as Pegasus suddenly floored it. It was truly a blessing that the coffee in his hand had a plastic lid, or it would have been all over him and the car.
"Please do be careful with that, Yugi-boy. I'd hate for you to spill any." As they approached a stoplight, Pegasus slammed on the breaks. Yugi grabbed the handle above the window with his free hand and held on for dear life. Had he made a terrible mistake? Come to think of it, thought Yugi, he usually has people drive him everywhere, doesn't he?
Yugi reached into his pocket and grasped his cell phone, making sure it was still there... just in case.
"What were you going to ask me?" said Pegasus, thankfully not looking away from the road.
"I appreciate the ride, and it's good to see you and all – but it just seems kind of... sudden, don't you think?"
Pegasus smiled – really, it was more of a smirk. "I suppose it is. But what if I told you there were a good reason for that?"
"The Duel Monsters premiere next week, right?" said Yugi, leafing through the booster packs Pegasus had handed him with interest. In spite of himself, he couldn't wait to open them.
"Yes, that. I would love to discuss that in more detail with you. However – that's not why I came to Japan, Yugi-boy."
Yugi blinked in mounting confusion. "Then why?"
Pegasus took a hard right, causing him to slam into the passenger side door. Yugi rubbed his shoulder in irritation. Is this how everyone drives in America? Sneakily, he took his phone out of his pocket and checked the time, hoping Pegasus wouldn't notice, which he didn't. 7:12. At least he was ahead of schedule.
The older man was silent for a moment as he adjusted something on the touch-screen GPS display on the dashboard. They were at a stoplight, fortunately. "Yugi-boy... I'm happy to see you're taking your college education seriously, and don't take this the wrong way... but how would you feel about ditching class for the day?"
Yugi nearly choked on his coffee. "Pegasus! - With all due respect, I can't do that! I didn't plan ahead for this! My professors will deduct points from my grade if I'm even late, let alone have an unexcused absence... I'm sorry," he bowed again, embarrassed. "Like I said, I very much appreciate that you came here to visit, but after school would work much better for me. How does three o'clock sound?"
"Who said anything about an unexcused absence?" said Pegasus, his tone suddenly changing to one more serious, "Wait – let me back up a bit. I'm not kidnapping you, to be perfectly clear. You have every right and ability to decline my invitation, and I'll happily drop you off at school. However – I would strongly advise against doing so. And no, that's not a threat." he almost laughed, but stopped himself. Although he enjoyed putting people on edge for his own amusement, he recognized this wasn't the best time or place. Besides, that's what Kaiba-boy was for.
"What do you mean, Pegasus?" asked Yugi, bracing himself again as Pegasus again accelerated rapidly. He was starting to regret getting into this car more and more with each passing second.
"I've already settled things with Domino University, Yugi-boy. Needless to say, some money changed hands, but that's nothing you need to worry about."
"You – bribed my professors?" Yugi's jaw dropped. "Pegasus..!"
"Don't concern yourself with the specifics, just trust me when I say 'I've handled it'."
"But – my friends are expecting me! I was supposed to duel with Bakura before class-"
"That's the white-haired one, right? You have your phone, don't you? Just text him and tell him you're busy."
He sure is persuasive, thought Yugi, handling his phone in its Black Magician case. But what could possibly be of such urgency that he has to pull me out of school?
"I suppose you're wondering why I went to such lengths," said Pegasus perceptively. "I'll get to that in a moment. It has to do with games, your favorite subject."
"No, Pegasus – I'm sure it's important, I'm not doubting that, but..." he swallowed, readying himself to be assertive now that all other options had seemingly been exhausted, "Why did you surprise me like this? You have my email, which I check every day for school. Or you could have called the game shop – our number is publicly listed!"
Another pause followed as Pegasus took a long drink of his coffee. "I'll explain everything to the last detail, but it will take some time." He turned to look at Yugi, who was still staring anxiously at the road ahead. "You are aware of what wiretapping is, correct?"
It took all Yugi had to stop from shaking his head in disbelief. Was Pegasus out of his mind? As it occurred to Yugi that he didn't really need an answer to that, suddenly, he realized the older man was adjusting the GPS display again. "Domino Hotel," Pegasus said clearly, addressing the computer. "Destination: Domino Hotel," said a pleasant female voice in English.
Pegasus looked at him again. "You're okay with this, right? Because I'm not in the kidnapping business anymore."
Yugi was still silent. Suddenly Pegasus swerved into the right lane and cut off another car that blasted its horn. "I'm sorry!" said Pegasus out loud in English, waving sheepishly at the other driver with a childlike grin, even as they shook their fist and were clearly swearing – not to mention obviously couldn't hear him.
"IF WE LIVE TO LONG ENOUGH GET THERE, THEN FINE!" Yugi shouted suddenly, finally reaching his breaking point. Immediately he regretted the outburst. "Pegasus, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean it!" he bowed again, eating his words.
"We'll make it there in one piece, rest assured. Driving in Japan sure is different than in America, though!" said Pegasus airily, checking his rearview mirror.
You think so? Yugi mentally fumed, still angry and embarrassed, his eye twitching slightly in spite of himself.
"You're one-hundred per cent certain you've cleared everything up with my school?" said Yugi, unable to completely disguise the note of suspicion in his voice as he began to text Bakura to let him know what was going on.
"Yes!" drawled Pegasus, again in English. Then, suddenly, the tone of his voice changed for a second time. It was as though had dropped an act and a bit unnerving. "Now then," he began. "I didn't mean to startle you this morning, and I realize my methods might have been a bit.. unconventional. However, I'm glad you made the right decision... and I think you'll find what I'm about to tell you very interesting." He paused for a moment, "What do you know about the new virtual reality game, The Kingdom?"
They had reached one of the mid-level floors of the hotel; a rooftop balcony and cafe that was reserved for business-class guests only. On this particular morning, it was nearly deserted. Pegasus swiped a magnetic card that opened the door and held it for Yugi. Yugi stepped outside, marveling at the potted fruit trees and marble fountain that adorned the courtyard area, as well as the ornate wrought-iron fence separating the hotel's guests from a twenty-story drop.
The considerably taller man let him to the most secluded area of the rooftop patio and rounded a corner. Suddenly, Yugi was met with the second surprise of the morning. "Kaiba-kun!"
Seto Kaiba sat at a mid-sized table, arms crossed impatiently, laptop open before him and a large coffee at his side. "Hmph. Better late than never." he shot an icy glare at Pegasus, who ignored it, then looked back at Yugi.
"Be warned, Yugi – he's recording everything you say."
"I am not!" Pegasus started to protest, until Kaiba cut him off - "That eye is a camera."
Yugi looked at Pegasus, then back at Kaiba. Am I dreaming? He thought, head still reeling from what Pegasus had told him on the way. This was by far the weirdest day he'd had in years, and it wasn't even eight o'clock yet.
"Don't listen to him, Yugi. Kaiba-boy over there is the one wearing a wire."
Though if he'd blinked he would've missed it, Kaiba's expression betrayed for a split second that Pegasus was correct.
"Oh, did I guess right? Well, it's not like I can read your mind or something – you're just so predictable."
"Seeing as you're forcing me to take part in this scheme of yours, don't think for a second I'd allow you any sort of advantage," snarled Kaiba.
"I don't need to remind you, Kaiba, that you have just as much at stake here as I do. If you enjoy the bickering, by all means, continue – I've learned over the years to develop an ironic appreciation for your unpleasant attitude."
"I'll drop the attitude as soon as something other than bullshit comes out of your mouth."
Yugi briefly looked out over the city of Domino below.
I definitely shouldn't have gotten into the car, Yugi thought for a moment, drowning out the bickering for as long as he could with the noise of the city before a seemingly impossible thought came to him. Maybe I really am too nice.