Disclaimers: Yu-Gi-Oh does not belong to me in any way shape or form. The only thing Yu-Gi-Oh I OWN even is my Malik poster, and I'm not giving that up!
Notes: I've never written anything Yu-Gi-Oh before, and I've read little to none of its fanfiction. Also, I've only seen a couple of the American Yu-Gi-Oh episodes and one Japanese episode. However, I'm not quite stupid on the subject. I've seen enough.
~*Beauty and the Beast*~
Joey Wheeler cursed to himself as he made his way down the streets quickly, holding his jacket closed (as much as it could be) to who knows where. He was just pure out of luck today, it seemed. Normally he'd go to Tristan in situations such as this, but seeing as he was out of town visiting some sick aunt of his or something, that was out of the question. The wind blew harshly in his face, making the 64 degree weather seem no higher than 40 in his mind. It wasn't unusual for nights to be this cold, but this was the longest he'd spent traveling the streets after dark that he could remember.
Car headlights illuminated his face for a brief second as a car zipped past him, blinding him for a split second. That set of headlights was followed by another, and another, and another. It seemed the traffic light had just changed on him, and a hand rose to shield his eyes, leaving his jacket forgotten.
"Damn!" Joey swore again, attempting once again to close his jacket. It was his own fault, he supposed, being home so late. It hadn't really been his fault he was late, though! He'd told Yugi to tell him when it was 9 so he could start home, but they'd both forgotten about it. He'd ended up running home around 10:15, finding the door locked. Of all the days for him to forget his key, this had to have been the worst. He knew better than to try and get his father's attention. He also didn't feel like disturbing any of his friends. It had to have been around 11:30 now. He'd sworn to Tristan that he'd go over to his place whenever he got himself locked out, or else he would never go there, either. It was against his morals.
"You're sure the courageous one, aren't you?" Joey stiffened at the voice behind him, turning on his heel quickly to glare at his new 'friend.' "What's an idiot like you doing out here anyway? Shouldn't you be doing something useful, like rebuilding your deck?" Seto teased, hands buried in his pockets as he smiled coldly at Joey, not a sign of compassion marking his facial features in the slightest. Joey couldn't help but blush in embarrassment and glare at the ground instead. Seto hadn't a clue what he was going through. The spoiled brat had probably never slept outside that damn mansion of his in his life.
"I'm locked out," he managed softly, lost in the strong wind. Seto took a couple steps forward, curious. His footsteps blended softly with the wind, and Joey's hands clenched tighter around his jacket. "I said I'm locked out. My father locked me out of the house, alright?" He growled, glaring at Seto's shoes as if he was actually looking him in the face.
"You…got yourself locked out?" Seto asked incredulously, his cruel laughter breaking through his sentence occasionally. He laughed freely as he finished, and Joey could feel his anger rising.
"Shut up! It's not funny! My father locks me out if I'm not home by 10, I doubt your rich ass can understand that!" He spat angrily, turning around quickly and hurrying away from Seto as fast as he could without running. The NERVE of him! To laugh at him without being able to even come close to understanding the situation he was in.
"Hey, loser." Joey sped up as he heard Seto's voice behind him, and the fast pace of his footsteps. He stopped as a hand grabbed his shoulder harshly, causing him to lose his balance and fall back against his follower. Strong hands wrapped around him for a moment, holding him upright until he regained his footing, at which point they immediately let go. He turned to stare at Seto, prepared for whatever insult he was planning on throwing at him. "Get in the car," he practically demanded, pointing harshly to the car parked behind them, where the two had first run into one another. Joey didn't move an inch, just continued to glare at Seto for all he was worth. "I'm not going to try anything, idiot. Get in the car, I don't like owing people anything," he stated emotionlessly, not moving either.
Joey gave in within a short amount of time, the cold eventually getting the best of him and forcing him to take comfort in the warmth the car provided. Seto followed quietly, slamming the door shut behind him. "Don't get used to this. I just don't want anyone to say I owe you anything for your so-called help. Mokuba insists that I thank all of you, but this is the most you're getting."
"Nice to know my hard work is appreciated," Joey mumbled bitterly, staring out the opposite window as the car started on its way down the streets. "Thanks for the help, though," he offered after a short while on the road, eyes not moving from the lights passing by outside the car. It was strangely addicting. He'd never driven around at night before. It really was something different. Seto made a noise of dissatisfaction and continued to glare at the seat in front of him. He wanted this trip over and done with as soon as possible. They were both silent the rest of the drive there, and Seto was thankful for that.
"Seto! Welcome back!" Mokuba greeted him happily as they made their way through the doorway, the driver shutting the door behind them quietly. "Joey, what are you doing here?" He asked as soon as he noticed the other boy's presence, looking from Seto to Joey to Seto to Joey until his head felt all funny.
"I'm letting him stay here tonight, in return for helping me earlier." Mokuba smiled brightly at that, latching onto his big brother's hand. Seto didn't look any cheerier than normal, but Mokuba's energy made everything seem more on the positive side. Even so, Joey was still aware that his situation massively sucked. "Don't touch anything," Seto demanded as Joey walked over to inspect the small lamp sitting on the table at the end of the small hallway. It was fancy, not overly so, but fancier than anything he owned. He wondered what other little goodies Seto had. This was sure to be an interesting stay, to say the least.
"Joey, are you hungry?" Mokuba asked after a short while, letting go of Seto and practically bouncing over to where Joey was standing. Seto was actually being nice to someone! Maybe now they'd all see that he really wasn't all that bad of a person.
"Mokuba, leave him alone. I'm just letting him stay here since he didn't seem to have anywhere to sleep. He's to do nothing else," Seto commanded harshly, and Mokuba flinched at the words, running over to his brother's side. There was no way anyone was going to think any better of him if he kept on treating people like he did.
"But brother, shouldn't you be nice to him? He risked a lot trying to help you!" Mokuba whined, tugging on his brother's sleeve. Seto sighed and removed Mokuba's hand from his jacket.
"Fine, but don't expect me to do it. I'm only letting him eat here because you want him to. I'll be in my room." With that Seto rested a hand on Mokuba's head for a moment before heading towards his room. Mokuba could baby Joey as much as he wanted, with all his whining Seto was sure Joey deserve to be babied by someone as young as his brother. Maybe it would make Joey realize that he was in no place to say anything so harsh and disrespectful to him again.
"Please don't be mad at him. He just doesn't like the thought that he owes you and your friends for helping him," Mokuba offered as soon as Seto had departed. "He's…"
"…really a nice person. I heard ya," Joey cut him off, but not in a necessarily cruel way. He was trying to show that he understood and believed him. If Seto gave Yugi or him a chance, he was sure he'd find that they weren't as bad as he made them out to be. "So, you were saying something about food? I haven't eaten since lunch." Mokuba smiled and lead Joey through the hallways, pointing out where things were as they walked. Only what he thought would be important for Joey to know about, of course. There was no use pointing out rooms that Joey would have no need for.
"This is the kitchen," he finished happily, opening the door for Joey and following him inside. "I'll show you where the guest room is after this, okay?" Joey nodded and sat down carefully, afraid that he might break anything that he touched. Seto had already imprinted a fear in him that getting fingerprints over anything would result in himself getting brutally murdered. His fear was not completely untrue. Some would rather die than face Seto Kaiba when he was truly angry. Especially being as off guard as Joey was.
"So, what do you want?" Mokuba asked after a while of letting Joey examine the dining area. Nothing overly special, but it was big. Bigger than any room Joey had seen in his life.
"I'll eat anything. I'm starving!" Mokuba sighed and went to find him something decent to eat. If he was lucky someone who could cook would still be awake. Yep! One of them was. He walked over to them quietly, tugging on their sleeve gently. Since he and Kaiba had been living parentless for a while now, he'd gotten used to it. He didn't think it weird at all to have people hired to take care of him. He couldn't help but feel abandoned sometimes, though.
"Hey, can you make something for my friend? He hasn't eaten in a while," he asked politely and she smiled down at him, nodding. "Thanks."
"No problem. What does he want?"
"He said anything's okay." She nodded once more before pushing Mokuba back outside. "No one's allowed back here when I'm cooking. I have to keep my secrets secret, you know," she offered cheerfully, trading him some candy for his departure.
Joey ate what was offered him quickly and happily, seeming quite content afterwards. "Man, you guys have it lucky," he offered softly, sighing as he stood up carefully. "So, where am I supposed to be staying?" he asked as Mokuba materialized next to him.
"Follow me," Mokuba instructed and Joey did as he was told, following him obediently out the door. He walked back down the hallways they had taken to get to the kitchen, leaving the door open. It wasn't necessary for the door to be shut, after all. People were always going in and out of there. He stopped in front of a door and took hold of the door handle gently. "This isn't your room," he offered to Joey and opened the door. Joey knew better and stayed back, even though Mokuba opened the door fully so he could see all inside and everyone inside could see everything outside.
"What do you…oh, Mokuba." Seto offered a direct glare at Joey, disgust clearly written over his features. Joey glared back in return, pulling back slightly. "Well?"
"I just wanted to say goodnight. I know you're probably going to be up working all night, but I'm going to go to sleep now." Seto nodded and checked his watch.
"That's good. You were supposed to be asleep a half hour ago." Mokuba grinned sheepishly and clasped his hands behind him innocently. Seto smiled slightly, ignoring Joey's presence in the doorway. Either that, or he'd completely forgotten about him. "You're right, I'll probably be up all night. See you in the morning, all right?" Mokuba nodded and turned to leave, catching Seto's attention on Joey again and he focused yet another glare at him.
Mokuba moved to close the door as he reached Joey but a hand stopped him from closing it all the way. "Do you mind?" he asked as calmly as he could. He was pissed, yes, that Seto would make fun of him and treat him like shit here, but that wasn't a factor right now. Mokuba shook his head and Joey stepped inside, still on the receiving end of Seto's glare. "I wanted to say thank you, for letting me stay. I probably would have been stuck staying at the school if you hadn't offered. I'm really grateful." Although Seto might be a jerk, and he might just be doing this to even the score, Joey was truly, truly grateful for the help. He couldn't turn to his friends in his times of need; he didn't want to drag them into things. Therefore, he was often all by himself. He was used to it.
"You're welcome," Seto managed softly and Joey flashed one of his trademark smiles.
"I guess I'll be seeing you at school, then?" he cheered, flashing a thumbs-up before leaving, shutting the door quietly behind him. "Hehe, maybe he isn't really such a bad guy after all," he offered happily to the stunned Mokuba, pulling himself away from the door. "So, do you think you could show me to my room now? I'm beat." Mokuba nodded and they continued down the hallway. He stopped in front of Joey's room, but spoke up as soon as Joey got the door open.
"Was what you said true, about staying at the school?" Joey stopped and turned around, blinking in confusion before nodding.
"I've done it before. Rules at my home are really strict," he offered, entering the room and shutting the door behind him. Mokuba felt a little bad for Joey at that, heading back to his brother's room and opening the door slightly, as quietly as he could.
"Seto?" Seto Kaiba looked up quickly from where he had been reading over the latest paperwork that had come to his attention. Nothing important, but nothing he could slack off on. It had to be done, important or not. "I was wondering, about Joey." Seto's eyes narrowed a little bit at that, but not to their normal degree at mention of the boy. "Don't you feel a little sorry for him, even a little bit?" Mokuba asked quietly and Seto sighed, leaning his head on his palm as he stared at the wall absently.
"Yeah, I do," Seto offered ever so quietly, almost so his little brother didn't hear it. "That has nothing to do with it, though. I still don't like him." Mokuba frowned and moved over to the door, turning the handle and opening it again.
"Like him or not, can't you try to be nice to him? He seems to have enough troubles." With that he left, closing the door behind him with a dull click. Seto stared at the door dully for a couple moments before sighing and returning to his paperwork. Him? Nice to that Joey character? He didn't think so. However…
/'I'm really grateful.'/ That smile, that confident look in his eyes, even behind the embarrassment of having to thank him. The way he shied away from looking truly happy, edging on happy, embarrassed, and nervous all at once. Look just kind of confused.
/'I guess I'll be seeing you at school, then?'/ That cheerful smile of his, the thumbs-up he offered so casually, as if they'd been friends forever, the confidence and energy in his eyes. There was something strange about that boy, to be in such a horrible predicament and carry himself like that. Why hadn't he left already? He hadn't really been expecting Joey to dare stay near him for so long, but he'd approached him. Seto had been correct in assuming Joey was brainless when he first met him. What kind of guy thanked him? He didn't do anything for thanks; he did it to settle scores.
/'Thanks for the help, though'/ Seto thought back to the drive in the car, the way the lights continued to light up his face quickly, glittering against his eyes and showing off the color in them, and the small formation of tears that had started to build up under them. The color of his cheeks a light shade of red from the cold wind outside.
Seto quickly shook his head to get rid of the offending thoughts. How could he be thinking of Joey in any matter other than a PEST! An annoying little pest that existed only to get in his way. However, what really had the boy done to him? It was mostly Yugi whom he held the grudge against. The only time the boy had come close to deserving the hate he offered it had been his own fault. Joey had merely been protecting his friend.
"Why am I making up excuses for that IDIOT?" Seto inquired harshly to the empty room, growling deep in his throat before returning to his paperwork. This was no time to be thinking on the idiot occupying the adjacent room, this was a time for work. School was for trivial things like that.
Joey sighed and lay down on the bed Seto had offered him, staring at the ceiling blankly. Who would have guessed that Seto Kaiba, the asshole that he always portrayed himself as, would let him stay over for a night? Sure, it was to pay off a debt, but it was still a kind gesture. Mokuba was right; Seto wasn't that bad a guy, although his people skills needed some definite adjustments. For some reason Joey was reminded of a cartoon movie he and his sister used to watch together when they were kids. He couldn't remember the title, but the plot reminded him of his current predicament…a little bit, at least.
With that thought in mind he fell asleep, leaving his problems of tomorrow where they belonged…tomorrow. He'd have to be up early, after all, to walk to his house before school. He still had to get his uniform. Either that or deal with showing up in his normal clothes. Not possible. He'd have to go home…but that meant not eating. Oh well, he'd have to deal with it.
The next morning he was up bright and early, being used to early hours. He was a generally energetic person; he could wake up at five in the morning and still keep up his energy all day long. It was just a part of him. Sure, he may whine about it when he didn't HAVE to wake up so early, but that didn't mean he couldn't live with it. Stretching he made his way over to the door, opening it slowly and trying to fight the yawn that threatened to make itself known. Shutting the door behind him slowly so he wouldn't disturb anyone he crept in the direction he figured the door would be in. He recognized the hallway, at least.
After a couple minutes of looking around blindly, Joey decided that it was hopeless. There was no way he was finding his way out of this house without someone's help. Turning around to go back the way he came he screamed as he found himself staring into the eyes of Seto Kaiba. They stared at each other for a while before Seto crossed his arms stubbornly.
"Where are you going?" Joey looked around nervously; he was vaguely aware of how suspicious he had looked, wandering through the hallways. It was no wonder Seto was curious as to what he'd been up to.
"Um…I was looking for the door. I have to run over to my house and grab my things before school. I just…can't find it," he admitted, blushing slightly. This was embarrassing, getting lost inside Seto's house like that. Seto sighed and his arms dropped down to his sides.
"How long of a drive is it to your house?" Joey blinked in confusion before trying to figure it out. It had been about a ten-minute drive to Yugi's card shop, which was around where Seto had picked him up. It had been a five-minute drive from there, so about fifteen minutes…maybe. Might have been five. He hadn't really been paying attention.
"About fifteen minutes, I guess." Seto nodded and sighed again.
"I'll have someone drive you over there. It'd take you too long to walk there and back before school. You wouldn't be on time." Joey nodded slowly, he'd figured that much. Well, not really, but he'd gotten the idea that he'd PROBABLY be late for school. However, being late was better than not going at all. "Come on," Seto ordered as he continued down the hallways, motioning for Joey to follow him. He did so quietly, not wanting to piss off Seto and ruin his chances of getting through this and making it seem completely normal.
Joey blinked as Seto opened the doors to the kitchen, motioning him inside. "I don't feel like listening to you whine about being hungry in class," he answered harshly even before Joey could question. He nodded and Seto went over and opened a couple cabinets for him without even thinking, grabbing something from one of them and continuing to the counter. "Grab something to eat," he ordered, grabbing a coffee machine and plugging it in harshly. He spoke no more than he had to in order to get his point across. He didn't feel like actually /chatting/ with him.
"Thanks a lot." Seto snorted in reply, going back to his task at hand. He was actually starting to grow tired; the caffeine would do him some good. "Wow, so much to choose from," Joey admired happily, moving from cabinet to cabinet and peering inside. He'd never seen so much food in his life.
"Hurry up and pick," Seto snapped after a while of listening to Joey's comments. He was tired; dealing with the idiot wasn't something he wanted to do at the moment. He didn't know why he'd even bothered with him that morning. He should have just shown him the door and let him leave, but it was too late now. The damage had been done.
Joey sighed and grabbed a couple pop tarts, not wanting to be too intrusive. Seto was doing him a favor; he couldn't be picky or take advantage of it. He knew better than to do that. He wouldn't do it to his friends, and he wouldn't do it to Seto either. He closed all the cabinet doors and moved to sit down at the table, leaning against the back of the chair and opening his breakfast. Seto glanced over at him and his eyes widened slightly at Joey's choice. Of all the things he had, he'd chosen THAT. He really was strange.
Pouring himself a cup of coffee he walked over to the other side of the table, setting his coffee down for a moment and staring at Joey, trying to figure him out. Joey stared back at him in a confused manner and Seto shook his head harshly.
"Hurry so we can get going," he demanded, picking his coffee back up and taking a drink. Joey nodded slowly and continued eating, shoving the remaining pack into his pocket for lunch. He wasn't going to have time to grab money or lunch from his house, he was well aware of that, so he would have to make do with that. He didn't like taking money from his friends, either.
Seto finished off his coffee after Joey and dropped it into the sink, sending an echo through the room and shattering the silence that had begun to grow between them. He walked past Joey quickly, making no movement to even show that he acknowledged his presence. Joey should know that meant he was to stay there, but instead he followed a couple steps behind him, keeping himself quiet. Seto repressed the thought that Joey reminded him of a lost dog.
Seto jerked the door to his room open harshly, causing Joey to step back a bit farther. Slamming the door behind him he headed towards his closet, pulling his school uniform out quickly and throwing it onto the bed. Glaring in the general direction of the doorway he pulled his shirt over his head quickly, throwing it towards his laundry pile. Now was not a time to be orderly, now was a time to be quick. He was very aware that Joey had followed him. Was the boy really that stupid?
"Um…" Seto blinked and turned around quickly to glare at the intruder, finding Joey standing and looking stupid in his doorway. "I take it I was supposed to stay there?" Seto glared at him a few more seconds before nodding, and Joey retreated, closing the door behind him. He had a feeling that this wasn't going to end well.
Confused Seto reached a hand up to his face, feeling his cheeks grow hot. His eyes grew wide before narrowing to thin slits. That boy really WAS an idiot! Couldn't he have at least knocked! And he'd thought he was polite. Even more pissed now he continued, ignoring the idiot standing outside his door.
After he was finished changing, he brushed his hair quickly, slamming the comb on the table before walking to his doorway. Grabbing the handle he took a deep breath and forced himself to remain calm. Screaming at Joey wasn't going to make things any better. Sure, he'd feel a hell of a lot better, but Mokuba wouldn't leave him alone for weeks about it. There was nothing he wanted to do more right now than shoved the door open harshly and scream at Joey, call him all sorts of degrading names and make him feel sorry that he'd done that! However, instead he twisted the doorknob slowly and barely allowed himself enough room to get out, shutting it with just as much control.
"Sorry," Joey offered as Seto emerged into the hallway, staring at the floor and trying to keep the blush that was clear on his face out of sight. It would have been different if they were friends. It wouldn't have bothered him in the slightest, but he barely knew Seto. What he did know of him was sure making an unpleasant aura for himself. That was making it a whole LOT more awkward.
"You should be," he offered coldly, and motioned for Joey to follow as he started back down the hallways, not knowing why he bothered. From their last encounter, Joey would have followed anyway.
Joey followed as he was told, of course, a good five feet or so behind Seto…just in case.
The car trip was made in as much silence as possible. Joey still had to give directions to his house, since Seto hadn't the slightest clue as to where he lived. Other than that it was silent, and Seto didn't even move. He wasn't doing anything but paying off a debt. There was no need for him to be overly kind to Joey.
As they pulled up in front of Joey's house he hopped out quickly, running up the steps and turning the door a couple times quickly before he finally opened the door slowly, practically creeping inside. To Seto it took an eternity before Joey reemerged from the house quickly, rubbing his arm nervously as he flashed him an unsure smile.
"What the hell took you so long?" Seto asked, aggravated, as Joey got back in the car. That had been at least 45 minutes. Seto was glad they'd left unnecessarily early; otherwise they'd be late. Joey laughed nervously and shook his head, closing the door behind him.
"I normally take that long," Joey answered quietly, glancing out the window as the driver started towards the school. He was trying not to look at Seto; he didn't want him to see the effect this trip home had had on him.
"NOBODY normally takes that long!" Seto spat angrily, surprised at how angry he really sounded. He hadn't lost his cool like that in a long time. He hadn't been screaming, necessarily, but he had raised his voice to an abnormal level. At least, for him it was an abnormal level. Despite his harsh personality he was generally quiet, even when he DID speak.
"I'm not welcome home for a week. Happy now? Dad's pissed I didn't call, on top of being home late. He was mad he didn't know where I was, all right?" Seto's eyes widened slightly at that, seeing Joey's face in the window's reflection as he gazed out of it, looking strangely lost. He wasn't…welcome home? "I don't know what I'm going to do," he added, sounding rather pathetic and scared. Sighing Seto leaned back in his seat and stared at the ceiling, feeling strangely sympathetic.
"You can stay with me for a week," he offered bitterly, more like a demand than anything else, and Joey turned to stare at him quickly, eyes wide. Seto was OFFERING for him to stay at his house for a whole week, with no interference from his brother? He was going to protest when Seto turned his head to glare at him. "Don't you dare! You're staying with Mokuba and me…I don't want to have to listen to you whine," he added hastily to the end, turning away quickly and looking out the opposite window.
"Thanks," Joey offered again energetically, leaning back in his own seat and enjoying the ride to school. It wasn't often he actually rode in a car, after all.
YAY!!! I've been working on this thing for what seems an eternity. It's sort of playing out like Beauty and the Beast, huh? (As explain the title) Joey's a beauty, so it works out, right? This comes after the pod-thingies and before Dungeon Dice Monsters, because that's what I've SEEN up to. Okay, now that that's done and over with it's time for my MANDITORY MOKUBA KIDNAPPING!!!
Mokuba: *looks innocent* Boy, I sure am lucky SETO KAIBA'S MY BIG BROTHER!
Malik: *kidnaps Mokuba*
Psycho gurl: O.O *chases Malik*
(Why Malik, you may ask? Because I FRIGGIN' LIKE MALIK!!!!!!!! *Hugs poster*)
Malik: *beats psycho gurl aside the head with Millennium Rod*
Psycho gurl: @_@ …needed that…
Okay, now that THAT is taken care of, please tell me what you think so far. I'll be working on chapter 2 after I finish chapter 17 of my Gravitation fanfic. And PLEASE don't be TOO mean if you don't like it. I'm sort of sensitive.